Still, four players are more than enough to appreciate this top-down racer's 'shunt your opponents off the edge of the screen' mechanic, even though a vigorous handbrake turn would often result in the cartridge popping out of its drive like a piece of toast.
4. The Legend Of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
When a Zelda game's biggest claim to fame is being the third best selling game in the US in June 2004, you know something went wrong. Thankfully, in Four Swords Adventures' case the problem didn't lie with the game itself - four-player top-down Zelda is amazing - but with the technology of the time. Despite the game being played through a GameCube, players controlled their own Link using a GBA (which doubles up as a screen in its own right when players wander off). Amassing four GBAs is difficult enough in itself, but finding four link cables is a Herculean feat, and one that proved beyond most Cube owners.
Technology has moved on since then, of course, and there's no reason why this lost multiplayer classic can't rise again. We'd literally kill for an updated Wii version that allows us to play on our DSes. Well, not literally, but seriously - among the sea of cynical cash-ins that is the New Play Control range, why is Four Swords Adventures, the one game that might actually benefit, nowhere to be seen?
3. Super Mario Kart
There are disappointments (the English cricket team), major disappointments (finding out the Cadbury Caramel Bunny was voiced by Miriam Margolyes), and then there's Mario Kart Wii's Battle mode, a dismal team-based affair that takes place on tracks so boring it makes the M4 look like Alton Towers' Nemesis.
How did it come to this? On the SNES and N64, Battle mode was the crown jewel of its multiplayer. Blood has been spilled in NGamer Towers over which of the two is better. But the simplicity of the SNES iteration wins out over the multi-levelled madness of its successor.
The compact, symmetrical designs force players to learn and exploit each corner and turn, and of course Super Mario Kart features the best defensive weapon the series has ever seen - the feather, with which players could evade shells by leaping clean over brick walls. For the ultimate Battle mode experience, we suggest selecting Course 4 and adopting a rule that says you have to fire green shells the moment you get them. Within moments, the ricocheting projectiles turn the entire play area into a death trap of Saw-like proportions.
2. Pac-Man Vs
Like Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, this used to be such a headache to organise in its GameCube iteration that those who attempted to do so ended up scoffing more pills than even the pizza-shaped one. Nowadays, all you need is a single copy of Namco Museum DS, three DS-owning friends and a sense of fun. And even if you don't have the latter, Pac-Man Vs might very well give you one.
The concept is simple: one player is Pac-Man, the others play the part of the ghosts, whose goal in life, as always, is to
send Pac-Man spinning into an early grave. The successful ghost swaps places with Paccers, and the player with the most points on the board when the time limit expires is the winner.
We're sure some of you will be hella surprised by this game appearing so high in our list. But what makes Pac-Man Vs so compulsive is the unique composition of the field. The three ghosts are forced to work together to trap Pac-Man due to their limited vision of the play area. But in the end, they're all in it for themselves. A frantic multiplayer experience, and well worth buying the otherwise useless Namco Museum DS for.
1. Super Smash Bros Melee
Well, it wasn't going to be TMNT: Smash-Up, was it? No other game encapsulates the freeform anarchy of Nintendo multiplayer so perfectly as Smash Bros. It can be enjoyed by just about anyone: experts can play it as a 'proper' technical fighter, some even think it rivals the likes of Virtua Fighter in terms of depth; fighters at the other end of the experience scale, on the other hand, can content themselves simply with picking their favourite Nintendo character and using the Cube's big fat A button to stove in the face of some jerk like Kirby or Jigglypuff.
It's completely unbalanced, of course, but therein lies the fun - even top players are but one dodgy PokéBall or hammer blow away from a date with outer space. There really isn't another multiplayer game quite like it, and that's why NGamer's lunch hours might as well be rebranded as 'Designated Smash Bros Brawl Fun Time'.
There was never any question of anything other than Smash Bros topping the list; the only stumbling block was deciding which Smash Bros. All three were in with a shout, but eventually (and perhaps controversially), we've decided on the GameCube's Melee (*ducks reader-propelled footstool*). It has less excess fat than Brawl (who actually wants to 'be' Ike?), has better stages and, critically, there's no Diddy Kong.