Though we go into a swivet whenever the internet is out for over five minutes, some activities just aren’t all that great online. These include physical intimacy (see our awesome article of cybering in Second Life in issue 3), fine dining, and four-player fighting games.
This is why we shouldn’t care that Towerfall Ascension, the so-retro-it’s-medieval melee coming next year to PS4 and PC, doesn’t have online multiplayer. Matt Thorsen of the project tweeted last week, “no online! There is substantially more 1p and 2p content, but you'll need 4 controllers for 4p versus still.”
Though some have voiced concern, this is kind of a non-issue. We’re not going to go all Sherry Turkle on you and claim that our digital obsession is creating an online society of anti-social strangers who are desperately isolated even though they are connected over fiberoptic cable. But we will say that four-player fighters the likes of Towerfall and Smash Bros. and Samurai Gunn and, of course, STARWHAL (which I now know is a play on the marine mammal narwhals and not unicorn-beaked orcas—thank you Facebook commenter) are just better in the company of three rowdy human beings nudging elbows and getting obscene.
But you might say that without online you’d have no one to play against. To that we’d say that you wouldn’t be getting the genuine experience anyway, without the friendly and ferocious interactions off-screen. You might say that you already have a really good time playing shooters online. But we’d say that those are different types of games; that they require each player to have their own screen; that four-player fighters originated with Nintendo’s impetus for bringing folks together and in the arcades. You might say you’re weary of this rhetorical argument. We’d say we agree.