I’m waving goodbye to my 20′s and to celebrate I’m counting down 30 games from the last 30 years. Join me while I countdown 30 great years of game memories.
Growing up with siblings meant that multiplayer gaming was a big thing in my household. Even in my university years I can remember coming home and fighting it out with my older brother every evening in whatever game was the flavour of the month. And it was super competitive and always had been, starting in the early days with Sensible Soccer, Kick off and Speedball 2 and perhaps the pinnacle of rivalry, Digital Illusions’ pinball duo of Pinball Dreams and Pinball Fantasies.
The competition between us ten years on game was just as fierce and with both of us now men the testosterone fuelled challenges that would prove us as men were violent and aggressive altercations. Of course once the game was over it mattered little but when controllers were in hand it was go hard or go home. Many games made their way through the systems during the era of the Playstation 2, but none struck our competitive bones quite like Supersonic Software’s budget racer Mashed.
I hate to think how much time we spent collectively playing Mashed. The best way to think of the game is as Micro Machines without the licensed miniscule racers, because at its most fundamental it is the same game. Races are won by winning points by extending your lead over the other players by a screen, and your opponents’ attempts to do so can be thwarted by weaponry found throughout the track or by knocking them off of the track. Sure its a great feeling to win by way of excellent driving, but I’d be lying if I said employing dirty tactics wasn’t more satisfying. And it is this mechanic that practically mandates grudge matches between players, which in itself is a sign that the designers got something very, very right.
Like Micro Machines before it the game was practically built for multiplayer stoushes and therefore the game really came into its own when you had two experienced racers battling it out in matches that were forced into sudden death. Two evenly matched players fighting an eternal battle of wits as they race around the course trying to out corner the other at high speed or cleverly force them off the track is an experience that is so unmatched by any most racers that it is unbelievable to me that no other developers have tried to pull it off. Mashed didn’t look special but its spot-on arcade controls, excellent range of weaponry and inherently competitive game design make it one game no PS2 owner with more than one controller should live without.
Have a favourite game from 2004? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to come back soon for the next game in our countdown. Miss a year? Catch up below.