Cast your mind back a few years to a defining multiplayer game of mine, Micro Machines. With four pads plugged in and you all trying to avoid the cables, friendliness and banter quickly became antagonistic. You knew your mate would bottle the corner on the pool table, or that if you reversed on the sponge your aggressive brother would careen off into the water.
Fast forward to today. It may not be on the same couch now, but that multiplayer antagonism remains, especially in shooter genres. Kill or be killed the default state is win or lose straight away.
Fall Guys, now available on PS4 and PC, plays things differently. Yes it’s a Battle Royale game, but it isn’t immediately set up for antagonism. You start off excited, one of a bunch of brightly coloured Baymax’s waddling along with and over each other. It’s Total Wipeout meets Takeshi’s Castle, and it’s very cute.
But it soon gives way to baser instincts. “Hey!” “FFS” “He took my tail!” “I’ll get you for that” become common sayings the closer I to get to actually winning the thing. Watch someone hunch further over their control and toward their TV as they start to think they’ve got a chance. Screw friendliness when that Baymax pushed you over. Don’t push me! I’ll fuck you up to get to that finish line!
Then there’s the progression system, gently nudging you forward to play again to get another colour combo or clothing. It pulls you into it’s cuddly embrace and doesn’t let go. Even when other people don’t seem to understand basic physics!
While there is a decent mix of games, those based more on teamwork, or on the clumsy grab controls, are the most frustrating. But it’s luck of the draw which games come up, and that’s part of it all. The developers have already shown they’re on top of things by how they’ve dealt with issues, and they’ve already patched the game with a new mini game already. So things look healthy.
Fall Guys is proving to be great fun. It’s short and simple, and did I say cute? You’d think it would be hard to bring out the anger and competitiveness with what equates to drunk toddlers stumbling forward. But this game doesn’t just manage that, it’s great for it. You won’t need to look far on social media to see how popular it is either. So if you have a PS4 or PC and you’re not playing this game, the only question is…why not?