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For most 20-something gamers, childhood is basking in the warm glow of a tube TV at a friend’s house at night, rejoicing in multiplayer nirvana with games like Goldeneye 007 and Mario Kart 64 in an era when split-screen reigned supreme.
Ties were tested and virtual lives were lost: ‘Watch and learn!’, friends would naively proclaim, seizing the sweat-laden controller during a particularly tricky level of Crash Bandicoot, before slinking into the silence of shame as Cortex laughed maniacally during the CONTINUE? screen.
Sibling rivalries were temporarily postponed as little brothers were desperately drafted into the fray by assuming the less-coveted role of Player 2. ‘Perhaps today is the day I defeat Doctor Eggman once and for all!’, older brothers bravely aspired. ‘Perhaps today is the day I am finally allowed to play as Sonic’, younger brothers contemplated in hope.
But years passed, and friends and families moved away in search of University, work and love, for pastures greener than the Emerald Hills of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Although the advent of online gaming bridged the inevitable separation of former classmates and gaming compatriots, the true essence of ‘couch multiplayer’ seemed reserved for the ranks of young families and FIFA-obsessed undergraduates. With Sony’s latest system software update on the PlayStation 4, however, the couch is back – and with a vengeance.
Introducing Share Play. The ability to play games online with a friend as if you were huddled together on that patterned 90s couch once more. Selecting Share Play allows you to effectively ‘pass’ your friend your controller, allowing them to take control of your game as you see it on your screen, or to alternatively ‘pass’ your friend a second controller which can be used to play local multiplayer online.
Wanting to convince a friend to purchase Destiny? Share Play. Stuck on that terrifying boss fight on The Evil Within (curse you, spider lady…)? Share Play. Or how about just dusting off those ‘local-only’ PlayStation Plus favourites like Octodad, TowerFall and Spelunky for some carefree, throwaway fun? You guessed it – Share Play.
Buzzwords such as ‘innovative’, ‘game-changing’ and ‘revolutionary’ are industry pre-requisites in marketing campaigns nowadays, but this really is the next level for gaming. Remote Play was just the beginning. This is innovation. Of course, there are always spanners to be found in the most well-oiled machinations. Alas, there are connection and latency issues abound and few developers restricting Share Play at a whim are unavoidable problems which Sony are most certainly aware of.
In the so-called ‘Console Wars’, Nintendo have occupied a niche market which is set to further explode in popularity upon the release of Super Smash Bros. 4, and with Microsoft’s proverbial hype-train that is Halo: The Master Chief Collection quickly gathering steam, Sony needed a literal game-changer to propel them into the new year. And boy, with all the games November will have to offer, Share Play is unmistakeably the console exclusive worth having. All hail the couch!