My brother asked for one thing this Christmas. A second XBOX controller. We had no idea why, but we obliged. He was ever so excited to open his gift. We soon found out why.
This time of year is the sort of time where a lot of people get drunk and are in dire need of some form of entertainment to keep them amused before they start fighting one another. Rather ironically, I actually do not drink (not a drop, never ever!) but people in my family do. None of them are mean drunks, but they are sleepy. Then again, everyone’s sleepy after the gigantic Christmas dinner we do every year. Anyway, I’m getting off topic. We need a party game. And I’ve found one of the best party games ever.
It’s honestly one of my top ten games ever. Basically, it’s a very simple LAN fighting game, featuring the most adorable little combatants ever ever ever. And you can make your little blob men even cuter by putting them in a variety of costumes, the best ones being the kigurumi animal sets. What’s better than beating up little jelly men? Beating up little jelly men in adorable animal onesies.
To look at, Gang Beasts is actually really simple. The colours vary between bland environments and brightly coloured characters, but the simple environments don’t matter because you’ll be too busy trying to throw your enemies out of the small, makeshift arenas. They are improving on the map aspect though. The maps are still simple polygons and shapes, but they’ve been adding more and more colour. The new Blimp map, as well as Wheel, are both very nice maps. The little people are the best though, they’re fat, round and look permanently drunk. Completely and utterly. The aim of the game is to get everyone else out of the arena.
You need a minimum of two people to play, although if you have enough friends and space, you can have 8 people fighting at once. The easiest way is to get a spare USB controller (an XBOX one is always good), but you can set up the keyboard so you can play with two people (using WASDQER and the arrow keys and other buttons on the other side of the keyboard). We did that and had two XBOX controllers, playing with 4 people. Setting up the binds is a piss-easy process, so you could probably get a third person on the keyboard at a push, or possibly use a USB number pad. Joysticks also work great.
The controls are actually really simple, but best done on an XBOX controller for simplicity and the use of a joystick. You’ve got your basic movement using a joystick/arrow keys. A to jump, B to kick, Y to lift or taunt enemies, X to headbutt. Punch is done with the shoulder buttons on an XBOX controller and generally . and / on a keyboard, and holding the buttons down do different things. Hold down the punch buttons to grab things, hold the lift button, to, um, lift, and hold the headbutt button to crouch (or, more correctly, fall flat on your face). Really simple, easy to learn controls. No combos here!
Content-wise, there’s not THAT much, but there is plenty to keep you going. The costumes are currently limited to, in 8 colours, plain, various wrestlers, various people in suits and four of the six kigurumis – fox, chicken, dinosaur and bear. Cat will probably be back later. The best ones in my opinion are the kigurumis, particularly the dinosaur one (which is very similar to a real life one I own in green), although the wrestlers with capes are hilarious, you can grab people and throw them around, or cause an amusing bug where the jigglebone cape spasms and sends you flying out of the playable area in a tangled mess. Hilarious.
As well as a choice of character, there’s actually not a bad selection of maps. Not a great deal of them, but they all offer a little something. The most basic one is a simple boxing ring, and it’s also the one you’ll probably play the least, since there’s options to play on a gondola, on the top of two trucks, on a floating lump of ice, a flying blimp, a large sign, a tower under construction, a room full of industrial grinders, a room with a fucking huge fiery pit, a subway with trains and a very peculiar map where giant pink sausages fall from the ceiling on your head and knock you through a trap door on the floor. That one, we spend a lot of time trying to catch the small pink sausages. A very fun map is Fans, but they keep on changing the map, my favourite was from 0.1.5, which had fans everywhere and a bridge that slowly got destroyed.
The best map by far though is Wheel, which is simply a giant carnival wheel in the middle of an ocean. The previous iteration was hilarious, but the current one allows for so much destruction. Playing with my sister, my brother and my mum, we had to pause the game because we were all laughing so hard. Why? we’d accidentally destroyed the wheel completely. Then one of us went flying off the map, and another fell through the loose floorboards and drowned.
It’s uncommon for my family to spend a long time playing games, but Gang Beasts is the exception to that. It’s the only game which I’ve played for almost 3 hours straight with real people.
There is one thing though. This is strictly a real life party game. You can play a basic horde mode on your own, but there’s no multiplayer, it’s all local gaming. But I actually think that’s a good thing. This game is hilarious to look at, you need to be able to see the grins, the shrieks, the smirks, the laughs of glee on your friends’ faces. Hearing it over a microphone just doesn’t work, the effect would be vastly diminished. It’s not worth a purchase though if you don’t have real life friends, hence why I don’t own the game, my brother does. I’m intending to get the game at some point though. Progress on changes and updates is also pretty slow, but there’s generally something new in every update.
Although, now I mention it, alcohol isn’t really required. You just need one real life friend minimum and some spare controllers. But the more the merrier.