If you've been online the last few weeks you can't have missed the latest phenomenon to seize the imagination of the gaming community: Twitch Plays Pokémon. It's an ingenious experiment that allows gamers to team up and try to work their way through Game Boy classic Pokémon Red by inputting their commands through the live streaming service's chat box.
As you can imagine, this sort of all-at-once teamwork gets harder and harder the more people get involved, and get involved they have, with as many as 100,000 gamers all tuning in at once to try and have a go at lending a hand - or thwarting others, turning simple tasks such as cutting down a tree or not jumping off a ledge into Herculean, days-long challenges of cooperation. Twitch Plays Pokémon has spawned memes and entire fan-made story lines to explain Ash's erratic actions, it's even brought Twitch's servers to their digital knees, and it's also inspired similar crowdsourced projects including Twitch Plays Zelda and Twitch Plays Final Fantasy.
Ash's first fortnight long journey drew to a close over the weekend, but the project hasn’t skipped a beat, moving straight on to Pokémon Crystal, the Game Boy Color sequel. But should we all be playing something else together instead? We look at some of the other games we'd love to see divvied up to bickering fans online. Which of these would you try to play with thousands of others?
Super Mario Bros 3
Pokémon is ideally suited to this sort of experiment, given its turn based fighting and slow paced exploration. Super Mario Bros. however is not, as Twitch users found out recently when they all tried to play the original together and failed to complete the first level, even after more than 6,500 deaths (no, really). But hey, that sounds like a challenge to us, as does collaboratively completing arguably the hardest Mario game ever, Super Mario Bros. 3. We can see gamers getting the plucky plumber very, very lost inside the door-switching castles, for a very long time. But hey, nothing worth doing was ever easy, right?
Chances of success: Less than one percent. Too many goombas spoil the broth.
Bomberman’s simple controls and grid-based gameplay would lend themselves well to single player ‘Twitch Play’, but that’s been done. Crowdsourced multiplayer Bomberman is where it’s at. Just imagine: four teams of thousands, all trying to work together to stop bombs from going off in their own faces. This might require some technical work - using one chat box for every player’s commands would definitely open it up to sabotage, but we reckon it’d be worth the effort. Anyone know how to code?
Chances of success: 75 percent. Even if it didn’t work, it would be explosive fun nonetheless.
From Software’s Dark Souls revels in its nightmarish difficulty level, so even if someone managed to figure out how to put twin thumbstick commands into simple chat commands, trying to slay beast after beast would prove tricky - but at least it would keep Twitch in business for a good few years. Or decades.
Chances of success: nil. But then, that’s true in single player too.
Trials is one of the most infuriating games we’ve ever played, and now that it’s headed to next-gen with Trials Fusion, we think it’s the perfect time to return to one of the earlier outings in the series. Who knows, perhaps divvying up up controls for each thumbstick between two groups of riders might make the balancing act that is a Trials course easier. But probably not.
Chances of success: 10 percent for an easy level. Thank goodness for frequent checkpoints.
The Legend Of Zelda: Majora's Mask
While fans have already completed earlier top down instalments in the Zelda saga together, we think the second N64 Link adventure’s unusual conceit could provide an extra dash of excitment to the swordplay and rupee foraging. At the end of three in-day games - around once every hour of gameplay, the moon crashed into the earth, wiping it out along with all your progress, unless you play the Song of Time on your ocarina. Can thousands work together to punch in the right notes in time?
Chances of success: 1 percent. The crowd can barely cut down a tree in Pokemon, let alone nail a tune on command.
Sonic The Hedgehog
On the face of it, completing Sonic looks a lot more tricky to complete cooperatively given its frantic pace, but on the other hand, the early levels at least can be cleared by simply sprinting forward and jumping occasionally. Perhaps if Sonic was to ‘auto-accelerate’ right, the first few acts would be possible.
Chances of success: 1 percent. Where’s Tails when you need him?
QWOP is comically difficult to complete on its own - separate letters on the keyboard control different joints in your on-screen sprinter. But that might make it all the more viable for Twitch Plays QWOP: after all, enough random inputs could probably brute force your poor runner over the finish line. Let’s make this happen.
Chances of success: 25 percent. It can’t be much harder than finishing a race on your own.
One of the Master System’s greatest games, Sega’s classic RPG would work well as a Twitch Plays experiment with its top down maps and turn-based battles. And let’s be honest, its sci-fi storyline is a lot more gripping than Pokémon’s really quite unsettling, cruel plot.
Chances of success: 75 percent. If the crowd can clear Pokemon they can clear Phantasy Star.
We’re surprised nobody’s tried this yet. Can a crowd of enthusiasts out-rook a Grand Master or even Deep Blue? Only one way to find out.
Chances of success: 100 percent. Well, that the game would finish, at any rate.