The retro Smash Bros. with arrows you need to be playing

In my trademark obsessive nature when it comes to gaming news, and particularly game trailers, I&rsquo;ve been more or less playing the <em>Smash Bros. Direct</em> that just came out all week. All sorts of gamers are looking over all the minute details that really show just how much people love the easy-to-pick-up yet still intense nature of a good <em>Smash Bros.</em> game.

Still, between its summer 3DS release and winter WiiU release, I&rsquo;ve been needing to scratch the <em>Smash Bros.</em> itch. Back when the Ouya first came out, a game called <em>Towerfall</em> was hailed as its killer app, one of the best multiplayer games to come out in years, heavily inspired by <em>Smash Bros</em>., and in some ways, this game is actually better than <em>Smash</em>.

Originally released for the Ouya, <em>Towerfall: Ascension</em> is finally available to the larger audiences of the PC and PS4. If you can, I&rsquo;d recommend the PS4 version if only because there are a few nice touches put into this version, including the cute touch of having the light bar on your controller light up the corresponding colour of your selected character.

I love the thrill of a good arcade fighter like <em>Street Fighter</em> or <em>Blazblue</em> because they are more complex. And while it means that playing with buddies who have their combos down is amazing fun, it&rsquo;s hard to get a friend unfamiliar with the game to have as much fun.

<em>Towerfall</em> is the perfect combination of simple controls with all the best mind games and split-second reactions without the baggage of complicated mechanics. Think <em>Smash Bros.</em>, where instead of the plethora of special moves and attacks, you only have three options: jumping (including latching to and jumping on walls), shooting arrows, and dodging.

Instead of <em>Smash</em>&rsquo;s mechanic of hitting a character off screen, <em>Towerfall</em> is even simpler.

Everything is a one shot kill, either by hitting an enemy with arrows, which actually homes towards the opponent, or by performing a Mario-style stomp on them. Ammo is limited to five arrows each &shy;&mdash; less if you&rsquo;re in the lead, and while you can pick up your arrows, you leave yourself open to an arrow to the face if you go for such an easy trap.

With this simple gameplay, I have tense standoffs and scuffles that make you laugh out loud at how intense they can get. Accidentally losing all your ammo and dashing through a barrage of arrows to try and get one arrow back. Dodging a well-aimed shot, only to move in the way of another. I&rsquo;ve had intense bouts of unloading arrows at each other at close range, all of them missing, and having a split-second flick of the control stick between living and getting stomped on the head.

It&rsquo;s simple and pure, a perfect mix of easy-to-control and hard-to-master that has me praising this game as the best local multiplayer I&rsquo;ve seen since <em>Super Smash Bros. Melee</em>.

Unfortunately, while local multiplayer is fantastic, it is missing online multiplayer, though there are reasons for this lack of online. Some points have been made by the fanbase that the gameplay is so fast-paced and requiring split-second control that it may not be very doable. Of course, other online fighters have made strides in netcode to make it have as little delay as possible.

<em>Towerfall</em> was developed by an incredibly small, independent team. In fact, it was designed, coded, and directed by one guy, Matt Thorson. Suddenly, the lack of online starts to make a lot more sense.

Moreover, a major design philosophy of the game was to capture the feeling of playing couch multiplayer games like <em>Goldeneye</em> or <em>Super Smash Bros. Melee</em> rather than our current online games that can&rsquo;t quite capture the feeling of being with friends and playing a good game all night.

Co-operating with artists and musicians, the game is also a retro-style feast to the eyes and ears. Graphics are a super dense recreation of &lsquo;90s platformers &agrave; la Super Nintendo, but in HD; the music is a chiptuned take on epic medieval ballads, and even the sound effects have good weight behind them, making taking out another person that much more satisfying.

If you&rsquo;ve ever had a fascination with a good bout of <em>Smash Bros.</em> or <em>Goldeneye</em>, or want a good game to play with friends of any experience level that will be equal parts intense and hilarious, and want to give such an independent game support, get <em>Towerfall</em>.


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