Retro gamers love going back and checking out their favorite classic games. There's something about those old 2D platformers and JRPGs that modern games haven't really matched. And classic games are even more fun to enjoy with friends. There are plenty of classic multiplayer games to choose from, like Bubble Bobble to Mario Kart 64 and Crash Team Racing. Unfortunately, not every great classic has multiplayer, meaning groups of gamers are sometimes relegated to taking turns or simply watching their one friend beat The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the 20th time.
Fortunately in this modern digital age, many likeminded fans of retro games have used their creative skills and programming knowledge to turn their favorite single-player childhood games into multiplayer experiences. Today we're going to be taking a look at several mods and ROM hacks that takes games such as DuckTales, Super Metroid and Super Mario 64, and makes them playable for two, four, or even eight or more players.
As an added bonus, we'll also be taking a look at several games that had secret multiplayer modes hidden inside the base game all along, some of which weren't even discovered until years later when people started emulating games.
And if you do want to try your hand at some of these variations on old classics with your friends, you'd better act quick. Given that a majority of these modified classics are Nintendo games and the Big N isn't very fond of fan games, don't expect these ROM hacks to be available for very long.
20 The Mystery Of Hangar 96
Long before Bungie Software was revolutionizing first-person shooters on consoles with Halo, they had the Marathon Trilogy, a series of FPS games released on the PC in the nineties. Like many PC shooters, online multiplayer was a big draw, and each game had plenty of maps to choose from.
But there was one map hidden in the code of Marathon Infinity called "Hangar 96." Most gamers didn't even know about this map, given that Hangar 96 was only referenced in the three dream levels of the game. Grainy pictures of the map can be found in each level. Eventually, some clever players noticed that if you combine the hexadecimal codes found in the first and last levels terminal, it would create a map called "Hats off to Eight Nineteen," which matches the grainy pictures of Hangar 96.
19 Dibs On Sean Connery
GoldenEye 007 managed to not only be incredibly successful, but make first-person shooters a popular console genre. The single-player campaign was good, but what really made it stand out was the multiplayer, with different game types such as standard deathmatch to The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill.
Of course, what great game couldn't be improved with a little modding? Once people started releasing ROMs of Nintendo 64 titles, a hack for GoldenEye was released which included an "All Bonds" mode, which allows gamers to play as either Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton or Pierce Brosnan in multiplayer. Interestingly enough, this mod doesn't actually add anything to the game. It turns out Rare meant to include this as a feature in the original release of the game, but removed it (probably due to not being able to use the other actors' likenesses). Time to pick your favorite Bond.
18 Double The Action
Back in the eighties, SNK was a big name in the arcade scene, releasing such classics as Athena, Ikari Warriors and P.O.W.: Prisoners of War. Many of these titles were playable with two people which only made them even more popular at the time. P.O.W. was so popular, in fact, that it even saw a port to the NES. While the port retains much of the same Rambo-inspired beat 'em up action, it does have one major drawback: single-player only.
Fast-forward to today, and someone finally added a 2-player mode to this underrated NES classic. Now you may be wondering, "if the arcade version already has 2-player mode, why not just download that ROM?" As great as that version was, there are certain changes in the NES port that make it stand out, such as new enemies and being able to use grenades in boss battles.
17 Tank Goodness
As many gamers know, Japan sometimes gets some really great games that for one reason or another never see the light of day in the rest of the world. Battle City is one of those games. Released for the Family Computer in 1985, Battle City had players take control of a tank on a mission to protect their home base from a legion of enemy tanks. The game even allowed a second player to come in and help defend the base.
That's pretty cool and all, but even two tanks seems pretty few. What if we had four tanks at the same time? That's what one modder had in mind when they released this ROM Hack. Now those enemy tanks won't get anywhere near your base.
16 Let's Get Dangerous
Back in the early days of gaming, Disney had a slew of terrific and popular games, with many of them being developed by the legendary Capcom. None was more greatly remembered, though, than DuckTales, an amazing platformer based on an amazing cartoon series. It was so great, in fact, that Capcom made a sequel that was unfortunately released well after the NES's time had passed.
As great as DuckTales 2 is, it would be a lot more fun to go hopping along with a friend. Of course, there's only one duck who can keep up with Scrooge McDuck. He is the terror that flaps in the night, he is the scourge who hacks your ROMs! It's Darkwing Duck! Using sprites from his own NES game, Darkwing plays pretty much exactly like Scrooge, but its awesome just to see two of Disney's greatest ducks side by side.
15 Catching Some Stars
Super Mario 64 is undoubtedly a Nintendo 64 classic. As one of the two launch titles for the system, it was Nintendo's first game to make use of a full 3D environment. But as engrossing as that game is, after you've collected all 120 Power Stars and defeated Bowser, what else are you left to do? Do the whole thing all over again?
Enter Super Mario Star Road, a pseudo-sequel ROM hack created by Skelux. All the levels are redone, but they still manage to capture that same magic that made the original so special. The hack also contains ten more Stars than the original and features all new enemies and even music from other Nintendo titles, including Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario RPG, and Bomberman 64. There's even a newer version that allows a second player to join as Luigi. A must-play for any Mario fan.
14 Paper Pals
Paper Mario was released toward the end of the Nintendo 64's lifespan, and even though it wasn't as popular as later entries in the series, it was still the best RPG on the system (not that that's saying much, given the competition). It had an interesting plot involving the rescue of Star Spirits, as well as a number of interesting and unique partners you could control. But like all games, it would be better if you could play with a friend.
Skelux is back to the rescue, as he has developed a hack that let's you play Paper Mario with a friend online. Now, whichever companion Mario is traveling with at the moment will be playable and able to explore the environment as freely as Mario can.
13 Eight-Player Mayhem
Remember Micro Machines, those little toy cars that were direct competitors with Hot Wheels? Did you know that they have a series of video games based on those toy cars racing around kitchen tables and desktops? No? You were too busy playing Mario Kart 64 and Diddy Kong Racing to notice?
Well, one those titles, Micro Machines V3, featured 8-player races. Doesn't sound too hard to pull for an online PC game. But then that title got a port to the N64 renamed Micro Machines 64 Turbo. As with most console ports of the time, you'd expect some downgrading and removal of special features, but not in this case. The N64 port actually kept 8-player races. But how did this work?
In 8-player mode, players would share the controllers, with one player using the directional pad to move and the other using the C-buttons. A pretty innovative mode no one else tried.
12 Mega Fighter II Turbo
Mega Man 2 is often seen as not only the best title in the franchise, but as one of the best games of all time, and its hard not to see why. It has some of the best controls and gameplay on the NES, with many features that would continue to be used for the rest of the series. Plus there's that kickass soundtrack. Honestly, it almost seems impossible to improve on such perfection.
Of course, multiplayer would be nice, so someone out there decided to make a ROM Hack that would let a second player control the boss robots. This hack skips most of the levels and just takes you straight to the boss room, essentially turning the classic 2D platformer into a fighting game. A lot of fun for fans of the blue bomber.
11 Shared Inventory
In a sea of landmark Zelda titles, A Link to the Past still holds a special place in many gamers' hearts. It returned the series to the top-down perspective of the original and included an engrossing story revolving an alternate world and the Master Sword. Having been ported to the Game Boy Advance, Virtual Console, and Super NES Classic, it seems that there's nothing new to uncover in this gem.
Fortunately, that's what modders are for. Thanks to the recent development of randomizer speedruns, players and Twitch streamers are given an extra challenge when trying to beat the game by having enemies and items spawn in different areas throughout the game. Someone decided to make the game more interesting by including a special code that would allow two players to synch their games, meaning whenever one player picks up an item, it will automatically appear in the other's inventory.
10 One Hell Of A Family Reunion
The Castlevania series has been a staple of video gaming since the days of the NES to the first PlayStation to even the PS3 and Xbox 360. Though the series has featured several different protagonists, nearly every title features a member of the Belmont family, a clan of vampire hunters sworn to hunt and slay evil skeletons, werewolves and the Prince of Darkness himself, Dracula.
Seeing as Dracula is able to keep coming back each game, though, maybe the Belmonts should try teaming up to put an end to the bloodsucker once and for all. Two Belmonts are better than one, so eight should be unstoppable! Castlevania Online let's up to eight people play as characters from the 2D platformers through recreations of classic levels as well as all new ones. Get your stakes ready.
9 No More Taking Turns
Is there anyone more symbolic, more universal to video games than Mario himself? Having almost single-handedly saved the video game industry after the crash of 1983, Mario has continued to churn out games for each generation since his debut on the NES. Many of his games are considered classics, but the original 2D platformers are often considered the best. If only it didn't make you take turns with your friend...
Thankfully that's no longer an issue. Super Mario Bros. X, which touts itself as "the greatest fan-made tribute to Super Mario of all time," includes 60 all new levels, an in-depth level editor, and simultaneous 2-player co-op! Not a big fan of Luigi? That's okay, as you have the option jump around the Mushroom Kingdom as either Peach, Toad or even Link. With the inclusion of a battle mode, this just might be the best Mario game not made by Nintendo.
8 Double The Bounty Hunter Action
Another classic 2D platformer and the second game to define and inspire the "Metroidvania" genre, Super Metroid is another classic game that gamers love to come back to time and time again. Exploring the mysterious and atmospheric alien planet Zebes for Metroids and power-ups can be pretty eerie, what with almost no other life in sight except for the aliens that are trying to kill you.
Thanks to an open-source Unity3D project, though, you don't have to go exploring by yourself anymore. With Unity3D Super Metroid Multiplayer, up to ten users online can get their bounty hunting on with their friends. The developer was even thoughtful enough to include a chat, so you can let all your friends know where certain power-ups are, or why you think AM2R was far superior to Metroid: Samus Returns.
7 Ducks Vs. Hunter
There are plenty of classic light gun arcade games, but when it comes to light guns on console, none is more fondly remembered than Duck Hunt. The feeling of being able to shoot at animated ducks on your television and seeing them react to your shots was something amazing, a triumphant feeling only counterbalanced by the feeling of failure and hatred that comes from that damn dog laughing at you whenever you missed.
As beloved as this game is, many people don't know that the original actually includes a two-player mode. "Game A," which sends one duck onscreen at a time, allows a second player to control the movement of the ducks using a regular NES controller. If you think shooting those ducks was hard before, just wait until your jerk friend makes the ducks fake you out.
6 Mushroom Kingdom Heroes Unite!
As we've seen in the earlier entry for Super Mario Star Road, even an old classic like Super Mario 64 can be improved by making it a two-player experience. But why stop at two players? Back in the day of the old Nintendo 64, multiplayer games were limited to up to four players, due to hardware limitations and the fact that you can only split the screen so many times before it becomes impossible to see.
But now we live in a digital age of online gaming. If Castlevania and Super Metroid can have eight or more players join in, why can't we do the same thing with Super Mario 64? Though it doesn't add any new levels or content to the original game, Super Mario 64 Online does up the ante by allowing up to 24 players to explore the Mushroom Kingdom together as Mario, Peach, Rosalina, Toad and plenty of other characters.
5 Twice As Twisted
Though they may not have been able to experience the madcap antics of GoldenEye 007 and Mario Kart 64, PlayStation owners still had a variety of multiplayer games to choose from. Sure, they may have had their clones (looking at you, Crash Team Racing), but there were still some original ideas, and none was more popular than Twisted Metal 2, the edgier teenage brother to Nintendo's kiddie kart combat game.
Though plenty of people remember the game as being one of the first to feature online multiplayer, not many people know that there are a few hidden battlegrounds available for 2-player Challenge Mode. If you enter the correct code while on the 2-player level select screen, you can play on one of three hidden maps: "Suicide Swamp" (from SingleTrac's less violent racer Jet Moto), "Rooftop Combat" and "Assault on Cyburbia" (both from the first Twisted Metal game).
4 Yoshi And The Bandit
Mario has had plenty of classic titles throughout every Nintendo console. So many, in fact, that he tends to overshadow other characters from the Mushroom Kingdom whenever they get a good game. One often overlooked classic is Yoshi's Island on the SNES. The classic 2D platformer introduced many of Yoshi's classic moves, including his flutter jump and egg-throwing skills, and even included bonus gambling mini-games and mini-battles with Bandits hidden throughout the game.
What some people don't know is that the Bandit mini-battles can actually be accessed anytime during the level select screen by entering a special code. Most of the mini-battles have you going against the AI, but two of the games have 2-player modes: Throwing Balloons (which is like Hot Potato meets Simon Says) and Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest, in which you spit seeds at your opponent until their health bar goes down.
3 The Hero(es) Of Time
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is often considered one of the greatest, if not the single greatest video game of all time. It took everything that made the previous games so great--the combat, the puzzles, the item searching, the memorable boss battles, and the engaging story--and put them in a 3D world. The game's already perfect, but what if our friends could join us on our quest?
With the Ocarina of Time Four Swords Hack, you can do just that. As the name implies, the hack takes the idea of having four color-coded Link's playing at the same time from the Four Swords game on Game Boy Advance. This should make solving puzzles and exploring temples much easier, though it could get pretty chaotic having four Link's swatting away at Dekus and Lizalfos at the same time.
2 The Secret Within Secret
Back in the day, Square Enix developed plenty of RPGs for the SNES. Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI, and Super Mario RPG have all become classics. Another one of their titles is Secret of Mana, an entry in the Mana series and one of the first RPGs to feature real-time battles instead of turn-based. The game also featured an innovative multiplayer system in which a second player could jump in anytime and take control of a party member.
Not many people know, though, that the game actually allows a third player to jump in as well. But if the system only has two-controller ports, where's the third one supposed to go? In order to control all the heroes at the same time, gamers would have to buy a Super Multitap, a sort of multiport for the SNES.
EarthBound is almost the textbook definition of a cult classic video game. Being the only title in the Mother series to be officially released in English (until EarthBound Beginnings in 2015), the game was not very successful with North American gamers in 1995. In the years that followed, however, the game started to garner a loyal fan following. This attention was further expanded with the inclusion of the game's hero, Ness, in the first Super Smash Bros. game, and it is now rightfully considered one of the best of the era.
Being a hidden gem for so long, all but the most diehard fans don't realize that EarthBound actually allows for two-players at the same time. Just plug in the second controller, and your friend will be able to control... Ness. And so do you. Both of you at the same time. Hope you have some cooperative friends.
Are there any other multiplayer hacks or hidden modes you know about? Let us know in the comments.