What Do You Play When You Don’t Know What To Play?

Have you ever found yourself with the following problem:
You’re looking at your cabinet of games and think “Oh man, what should we play today?” And then you stare at the games… and just keep staring. You can’t decide what to even play despite have hundreds of potential choices.

This is the issue I have time and time again when looking for games to play with my friend group. It’s nothing to do with the friends themselves: we’d gladly play pretty much anything. But it really comes down to what is familiar. Do we really want to learn something new when we could just play the tried-and-true winners from hangouts past?

Trivial Pursuit Live!_20150314182126

I was reflecting on this last weekend when a couple of us got together and turned on the PlayStation. After a few minutes of perusing titles, moving to the game shelf and looking at games there, we fell back on our trusted party games to entertain us. I wanted to share some of these with you. Not only to memorialize them forever in this blog, but to also get some potential new ideas for what to add to our repertoire of titles.

Trivial Pursuit Live

You’ve probably seen this game on sale on PlayStation Network time and time again for less that $5 and passed on it without a thought. Well let me be the first to tell you this game is amazing. We’ve been playing every now and then for years (this past weekend was our 50th game!) and we’ve never come across a repeat question! The sheer amount of content in the game is kind of astounding.

It’s also worth mentioning the game’s faults, as they’ve become so ingrained in the experience it’s part of the fun for us. For example, don’t be surprised when the transition music after a round just sort of stops. Or when the game’s announcer repeats the same phrases over and over again (Interesting…). They’re hardly game breaking. In fact, I would call them game enhancing. Always worth a laugh, all these years later.

The JackBox Games

Almost reserved exclusively for groups larger than 4, there really isn’t any beating the JackBox party games. Being able to play multiple people at once is a big selling point. While many of the games are the same in execution (send in a funny prompt on your phone for others to guess/laugh at), they’re slightly different in execution. Though each minigame can over stay its welcome, there are some winners we always go to.

Trivia Murder Party in Jackbox 3 and and its sequel in Jackbox 6 are highlights. The mix of traditional trivia and horror-comedy banter is great fun. The chance of coming back in the end keeps everyone in the game, and the little subtle ways to “Die” or get punished are fun, too.

Drawful is a big name from these games, but we’re also fans of other drawing game Tee K.O. Imagine Drawful but with prompts and drawings from your other players, all coming together to make the most iconic T-shirt. At the end of the game you can even purchase the T-shirts your buddies came up with, which a friend of mine has done… twice!

Mario Party Clones

If imitation is the finest form of flattery then Mario must host the best parties. Since the original game released on the Nintendo 64 way back in 1999 (damn!), there have been numerous clones on a variety of consoles.

Our friend group is particularly fond of Pac-Man Party on the Wii. I’ve written about the game before, and quite honestly am incredibly impressed with this game. Sure it’s got it’s faults, but man, there’s a lot of fun to be had here! If the Wii/Wii U is on and plugged in, and we’re looking for a way to kill an hour or so, this is a surefire winner.

Speaking of the Wii U, there was so much potential with the console it’s a shame we didn’t get more creative titles. Still though, the console did grace us with Wii Party U, the best non-Mario Party party game in quite some time. Well, that is likely due to the game being made by the company that originally made Mario Party, so you’ve got a great pedigree to fall back on. Special shoutout to Balldozer, the best game mode of the bunch!


Though I find the game stressful to no end, there is no denying the quality of Overcooked. Four players can tackle a variety of increasingly difficult cooking missions en route to a three star finish. The recipe for success is well laid out, but the path to perfection is a challenge.

Both Overcooked and Overcooked 2 are wonderful, but I think the award for which game is better goes to the sequel. More chefs to unlock, more ingredients and levels to complete, and a greater overall challenge make it the more fleshed out title. But yeah… playing a game with friends and then failing a mission over and over isn’t all that fun after an hour.

4-Player Co-op Experiments

I call them “Experiments” because we’ve dabbled in so many couch co-op games over the years it’s worth bringing up the idea as opposed to specific games. In general, if a game can be played with multiple people, we’ll probably try it out. I’ve grouped a few games we’ve played in a small handful of categories for your easy reference.

In what I would call chaotic multiplayer games, we’ve got titles like Magicka 2, Nine Parchments, Assault Android Cactus, Hell Divers, and the Trine series. Each of these games has an element of unknown chaos about it. You know where you need to go, but gettering there cooperatively is the fun and the challenge.

Next we’ve got cooperative competitive games. These are games like Rocket League and Overwatch. Rocket League can be played either through couch co-op or online co-op, so there’s some versatility there. Overwatch obviously plays online only, but we’ve adapted to a rotation system when playing with friends on one TV: Play the “Mystery Heroes” game mode, and once you die, change controllers with the next player. It’s casual, fun, and a great way to get some conversations and parties going.

Lastly I can’t think of anything else to call this group besides RPGs. Our core game group has a strong liking of the genre, and that has resulted in multiple co-op RPGs being in our rotation here and there. Final Fantasy Explorers and The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes represent on the Nintendo 3DS, while the consoles see Diablo III and more recently Vermintide. Some can be played together in person, and others online only, but having an option is great (especially during quarantine time!).

So those are some of our go-to games to play when we aren’t looking at trying anything new. Oddball games like Pac-Man Party and Trivial Pursuit Live have no right being as fun as they are. Putting them on the same category as heavy hitting titles like Rocket League and Overcooked seems silly, but it’s honestly what we like to play!

I’d love to find more games to add to our multiplayer rotation. What are some gems you’ve played and enjoyed with friends, online or off?


DownStab has been a personal endeavor of mine for many years. Please enjoy the content and let me know if you have questions, comments, or just want to connect. And as always, game on.

– Jason J

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