Multiplayer used to be all blood and violence, and it was nothing to do with Mortal Kombat. It was because multiple players had to be in the same room. This turned every game into a dual-level Master-Blaster Thunderdome: The controllers directed the video game battle, while our clumsy physical bodies flailed blindly at each other.
Kennedy Miller Entertainment
This is a pretty good summary of most video gaming.
Back then games weren't multimillion-dollar franchises. An '80s game was considered fancy if they hired someone other than the programmer's kid to write the plot, and the "game balance" was money they'd stolen from children by lying with the box art. This created digital worlds where players could discover more brand new dick moves than Adam and Eve.
In 1986, Bally Midway realized that most games were filled with giant monsters but still forced the player to be a wimpy human. That's half as boring as the real world!
In most games you're the little green guys and having less fun.
Rampage turned three simultaneous players into King Kong, Godzilla, and a giant werewolf by replacing their fuck-giving glands with crystal meth.
It's in the eyes.
Rampage was more directly named than most pornos, and more satisfying. You smashed your way through an entire city and army simultaneously, replenishing lost health by consuming wimpy humans, and when that health ran out, you turned back into a wimpy human. Which meant your human cerebellum returned just in time to understand why your ex-friends were chewing it.
Looks like Ralph still has the canine anal hygiene thing going on.
Being eaten gave your attacker a tiny sliver of health but reset your score to zero. Modern kids won't understand "score," as the only numbers in modern games are how many times you killed your friends and how many bullets you have left to do it again. Back then interfering with a player's score was like interfering with a rancher's favorite sheep, in the back of their stolen pickup truck, which you'd crashed into their church. It violated morals they didn't even know they had while offending the rules of the universe. It turned a game about eating a city into a bitter morality play about the futility of war, starting a vicious cycle where they would eat you, and you them, and in the most destructive 69 in history you'd spend the rest of your lives making sure neither of you ever amounted to anything.
Gauntlet is another example of "Old games were directly named and hated you." It wasn't a game, it was an endurance experiment to see how much gamers would put up with, and the answer was "everything." The game set four players against infinity enemies in infinitely looping levels of a universe that hated you so much, your health constantly drained, even when nothing was happening. The only way to continue was to insert more money. It was the arcade equivalent of a highway robber. It couldn't have more clearly announced its intention to kill you and take your money if it pulled a gun, and we loved it. I still love it.
And it's still the closest I've come to a foursome.
Getting to higher levels was like Moses trying to part the Red Sea in a world where the one true god was Ra in a beard. You could only stave off death by eating food, and you had to shoot everything, but shooting the food destroyed it. Shooting the food was like pulling an all-nighter with co-workers to finish a project, waiting until they went to the bathroom, and then pissing in the hard drive. It might have been an honest mistake -- the new Mac Pro looks like a wastepaper basket -- but you've still screwed everyone. Shooting the food broke the spell of video games. We suddenly realized that the last hour of relentless paint-grind had been work instead of fun, and now that dick had wasted it.
Your co-workers, about to file an "unsatisfactory performance" review.
It didn't help that the game featured an early speech synthesizer that sounded like Stephen Hawking's computer suffered the same problems as Stephen Hawking's body. "Wizard needs food badly" told the wizard he was about to die, and all his imminently ex-friends that he was at his most vulnerable. It was a combination of schadenfreude, viciousness, and a subconscious understanding that you hadn't actually done anything fun in the last two hours. You'd shoot the food just to enjoy their screams. Then die immediately and outnumbered, and it would still be a relief to return to a real world where someone hates you. It wasn't co-op, it was Pyrrhic relationship counseling.
GoldenEye was the video game equivalent of the real Bond: good with guns and father of an entire generation of bastard offspring. At the time it was the greatest console shooter ever made, and it contained more Bondian dick moves than every Bond girl put together. Choosing Oddjob, selecting Caves, using proximity mines, randomly spawning closer to the only body armor on the map, and then acting like you were actually any better than other players -- it featured more ways to electronically screw people than the entirety of Q Branch.
"With this pen I could kill a man, then please his wife. And I would never connect an unscanned laptop to a secure government mainframe, unlike certain idiotic pretenders to my name."
GoldenEye didn't just spawn the modern shooter, it pre-empted holodecks by giving lonely dicks something to do with their time. The game loaded levels with civilian scientists, told us not to shoot them, then gave the scientists guns and grenades because it knew exactly how much was wrong with us. It was like telling someone not to think of a pink elephant after giving them a pink elephant gun. It was a psychology test the entire generation failed. It's why every modern game is now a dirt brown gun in a ruined world.
"Hold on a second, I can make a red 'ink blot' psychology test."
You ended up helping the weapons scientists with their work, researching just how many bullets a human body could absorb. You shot them in the leg, in the shoulder, in the knee, in the "other" (which was the crotch and never not hilarious). It was reverse Operation, where you carefully inserted objects into a helpless body.
We had to kill him to prevent the Soviet Union from mastering flat-top technology.
Killing too many scientists failed the mission. Some people just didn't care. Other players worked out exactly how many they could kill on each playthrough and get away with it, which is actually way scarier. Players spent days bullet-prodding the scientists into blowing themselves up with rage-grenades, editing their greatest slaughter into a 10-minute video, and then uploading it to the world, because the Internet is a portal into human madness that makes the Lament Configuration look like a Rubik's Cube.
Battletoads was a more blatant copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles than the second season of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. You played as Rash, Zitz, or Pimple, because we really were that dumb as kids, and their quest was to defeat the Dark Queen, because it's really easy to manipulate dumb kids.
And she helped them manipulate themselves, and was just as physically mutated as the giant talking animals.
Battletoads wasn't a game, it was a secret project to electronically destroy the human soul. The game was harder than a diamond strap-on and did similar things to you when you played with it.
Dramatic re-enactment of this game and your childhood innocence.
Either that or it was a secret project to trigger latent psychic powers, as that was the only way to get past the jet bike levels.
Unfortunately, they only rage-triggered spontaneous human combustion.
It was proof that kids would spend four months subjecting themselves to thumbscrews if that was what they'd spent their birthday money on. And it was jealous. It would murder your friendships to force you to spend more time with it, because friendly fire was always on. You had a better chance of staying friends with someone if you entered a Saw trap together.
This was usually followed by a real-life re-enactment.
Thumping each other was fun, but every Battletoad was equipped with the grappling equivalent of the double Vulcan Nerve Pinch: holding a friend or enemy above your head paralyzed them, while you could walk around the level, loudly wondering which instant death pit you'd cast them into. There was no way to break out. Wiggling your joystick might as well have been a euphemism for all the good it would do, and at least then you'd be showing them who could be the dickiest while playing together.