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The Games of Summer: Get the Party Started

Guitar Hero 5 Screenshot - 1033219

Even though E3 is over, that doesn't mean the partying has to stop. 

So, since I'm in a party state of mind this week, I've decided to use this week's Games of Summer to look back upon the best party games from the past few years.  There are a few favorites here that are bound to blow your mind, as well as some obvious choices that you simply must own – even if you're by yourself.  (Cue "All By Myself" in the background.)

Without further ado, here are some of the best party games you can find…

Bomber

Saturn Bomberman (Sega)

Most Bomberman games are good ones, mainly because of the multiplayer factor.  Bomberman '93 and '94 on the Turbo-Grafx helped start this standard, and downloadable games like Bomberman Battlefest continue the trend today.  But in-between these releases is Saturn Bomberman, one of the best versions available, period.  Featuring a good single player campaign, strong graphics and music, and plenty of bombin' gameplay, the real advantage with this game is the TEN-PLAYER multiplayer.  Sure, you need two Multitaps and a crapload of controllers, but the effort is certainly worth it as you send nine of your colleagues trapped between bombs.  BOOM.

Mario Kart 64 (Nintendo)

The Mario Kart series has only gotten better over the years, culminating with the release of Mario Kart Wii just a few years ago.  And the trend is bound to continue with the new announcement for a Wii U version next week.  However, we can't help but look back at the version that really introduced the joys of racing with four players, Mario Kart 64.  With very effective split-screen and plenty of tracks, this game never got old, and being able to ping an opponent with a red shell right before hitting the finish line to take the lead – well, it's still a sweet satisfaction today.

Guitar

Guitar Hero 5 (Activision)

Yes, Guitar Hero is more recent than the previously mentioned games on this list, but considering it's still your one-stop shop for jam sessions, we can't help but recommend it.  Guitar Hero 5 comes with a number of party modes for up to four players, and none of you have to be stuck with the drum set.  Yep, you can actually team up guitars together and have an all-out jam session, without worrying about who does the best or keeping up with the beat.  It's almost like the Rolling Stones getting drunk on stage with Rush and inviting Eddie Van Halen to crash the party.  But way cheaper, obviously.

Worms (Team 17)

Over the years, Team 17's Worm-y franchise has only gotten better, especially with the release of Worms Revolution a few months back for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network.  But we still have to pay loving tribute to the original game that started it all on the PC and PlayStation.  Using a pass-around control scheme for up to four teams, Worms represented a fun, strategic party game, and didn't let up on the silly, letting you unleash everything from banana bombs to exploding sheep.  And those worm voices?  Tell me you didn't crack up hearing those.  Yeah, right, you lie.

Virtua

Virtua Tennis (Sega)

A lot of people think that golf is an ultimate party sport, and, for that matter, maybe even a little bit of football.  But I tend to think of tennis, as each player can take part in the action at once without getting in each other's way, and still have a fun time with it.  For me, no tennis experience ever came close to playing Virtua Tennis on the Dreamcast with three other people.  Going back and forth in a doubles match and returning shot after shot took us well into the evening, and there were re-challenges aplenty from the loser.  It's still great, and pretty easy to find today – although the $20 Virtua Tennis 4 is definitely a fun alternative if you don't feel like tracking down a Dreamcast.

Super Smash Bros. Melee (Nintendo)

Before we get the announcement about the new Smash Bros. game that will dominate the 3DS and Wii U sometime in the next year, we can look back at what was easily the best entry in the series to date on the GameCube.  Melee introduced several new characters into the mix, along with outstanding music, great controls (perfect for the WaveBird) and plenty of unlockable goodies.  And, hey, who can deny knocking people around with Captain Falcon?  Not us.

Jack

You Don't Know Jack (Jellyvision)

Finally, as much as we love Cards Against Humanity (it really is something when it comes to questioning your humanity while bursting out laughing), the original smarmy party game has to be You Don't Know Jack for the PlayStation.  Featuring a bevy of questions and fun for up to four players, the game is still a gem, with Cookie Masterson reading in his finest smart-ass voice and hosting little mini-games between rounds to earn – or lose – extra cash.  If you want something a little more current, the Xbox 360/PS3 version goes for a cool $20 these days.

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Robert Workman
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