Local co-op has been an ailing beast for some time, struck low by the sheer convenience of being able to beam one's virtual avatar across time and space thanks to the wonders of online gaming. It doesn't matter how small someone's couch is when you're gaming online.
But Christmas Day would be a sad time if we all just retreated to our own little pods and ignored the fact that some games out there still champion the glories of local co-op. Thankfully, we're here to save the day with five nods to some of the finest local multiplayer games of the year, along with a bonus shout for the Best Family Game Ever.
The most ambitious LEGO game to date, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes busts the world's greatest comics wide open, with an enormous range of playable characters (over 160), each with their own unique abilities and typical personalities, and plonks players down in a LEGO New York filled with Marvel landmarks.
It's a blast solo, but it really comes alive in local co-op, ferreting out the slew of hidden items, easter eggs, and in-jokes in each and every level, and saving Stan Lee more times than one can count until you unlock him and delight in the fact that not only does playable Stan Lee have almost every power in the game, but he can Hulk-out too.
It's really, really good.
Super Mario 3D World
No it's not quite the brand new Mario title we were all hoping for, but Super Mario 3D World is still amazing. Every level boats a new mechanic or feature, that's tossed aside almost immediately once the level is done. It never gets staid or boring, nnever loses its whimsy or charm, and Nintendo have managed to delight both solo players and the multiplayer crowd, with some fantastic level design that manages to capture the playful relationship between designer and player and translate that into something truly satisfying for multiplayer audiences.
If the Wii U has a killer app, this is it.
Of course, Rayman has been doing that whole innovate-every-level thing for years. It's a real shame for Nintendo that Rayman Legends went multiplatform, but it's great for everyone else because now more people get to play one of the best titles of the last decade.
We called it one of the best 2D platformers to be seen since the SNES era, and we weren't lying. Everything about Rayman Legends is nigh-on perfect, and that includes the fact that it boasts simultaneous and asynchronous multiplayer, both locally and online. With it's beautiful, hand-drawn aesthetics, deliciously precise controls, and riotously inventive design, you can't go wrong with Rayman Legends this Christmas.
And then, of course, there's Kung Foot: the single-screen cross between Smash Bros. and football that the devs made to keep themselves from going insane whilst crunching for an early release (that never came). In the end, though, it made it in here and that's a blessing, because it's an absolute blast with three other people on the sofa.
A slightly more cerebral choice, perhaps, but nonetheless worthy, Monaco proved to be an absolutely wonderful co-operative experience.
Ostensibly a top-down stealthy puzzler, Monaco plays out in the fashion of a classic crime caper. You choose from a range of operatives, each with a particular skill at their disposal, and infiltrate blueprint maps that have been shaded and coloured in, stuffed with the traps that one would expect to find, and patrolled by marauding guards and their dogs. You're presented with a simple objective: grab it/hack it/retrieve it and make your escape.
It's an instantly accessible, yet impressively deep game of stealthy ingenuity, and one of the most rewarding co-op titles we've played in the last twelve months. It can get devilishly difficult when it comes to the final few jobs, but it's always a pleasure. Never a chore.
Unless you're playing with the impatient and the idiotic, that is.
A slightly more violent shout than the other games on this list, but one that harks back to days spent playing Streets of Rage and Captain America and the Avengers with cousins on Boxing Day. If you need a side-scrolling beat-em-up fix this Christmas for some punchy local co-op when you're stuffed with turkey and can't move, look no further than Dragon's Crown
Think Castle Crashers, but with more depth, more variety, and more awesomeness. Yes, it's that good!
If you don't believe me, check out Brendan's review.
So those are five of our icks from this year, but what are you guys and girls going to be playing tomorrow? We bet it's WarioWare: Smooth Moves. It ought to be WarioWare: Smooth Moves. It's frankly the best party game ever.
Not great when full of turkey, mind. Let us know what'll be in your disc drive this festive season in the box below!