Ridiculous, inventive party pack Sportsfriends is now free on PC and PlayStation

Good things for tough reasons —

Couch co-op collection lets you compete on the screen and in each other’s face.

How well do you know your friends and family? Can you smack a 2010-era controller in their hands to win intangible points?

Enlarge / How well do you know your friends and family? Can you smack a 2010-era controller in their hands to win intangible points?

Die Gut Fabrik LLC

If there is any reason to head into your garage or attic and dig out that PlayStation Move controller, it’s Johann Sebastian Joust. Actually, there’s a second good reason: that game, and three others with the same spirit, are all free now on Steam for PlayStation, Windows, Mac, and Linux.

The reason and timing are unfortunate, as Die Gute Fabrik, the Danish developer collective behind Sportsfriends, can no longer support or update the 10-year-old game. But the group is doing the right thing, making the game free on all platforms, including Steam, transferring ownership of the game to Bennett Foddy (Getting Over It), and working to open-source a version of the JS Joust game for Linux so that perhaps it can be fit to work with other motion-sensitive controllers or through some other scheme.

Sportsfriends launch trailer.

Sportsfriends, previously described at Ars as a “stellar pack of multiplayer-only gems,” are four games meant for “couch co-op,” i.e. playing in the same room as other folks holding controllers (or glowing Move sticks, in the case of JS Joust). Each one is a little masterwork of clever design and hard to encapsulate briefly, but if you don’t have time for the deeper dive, here goes:

  • Super Pole Riders, by Bennett Foddy, has you use the left PlayStation stick for your feet, and the right stick to angle and pivot a vaulting pole, then attempt to knock a ball through a hoop to score points or knock an opponent off their pole. (There’s an early web version.)
  • Baribariball is a one-on-one or two-on-two Smash Brothers-like experience, but with more old-school arcade dynamics and in-air movement.
  • Hokra, a kind of soccer game with Atari-esque visuals and deceptively simple controls.
  • JS Joust, in which you try to not get your Move controller jostled while goading or physically nudging other players’ controllers, with your ability to move dictated by Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos.

Johann Sebastian Joust.

There are no solo versions of any of these games, and Joust does not work with Windows, because Windows does not support the Move controller. With any luck, this can be worked around. And while no controller may yet provide the kind of perfect combination of motion sensitivity and glowing colored orb that the Move controller does, opening Joust up to more hardware can only be beneficial. More people need to try to lightly assault their friends in the name of camaraderie.

Don't say they didn't warn you.

Don’t say they didn’t warn you.

Die Gut Fabrik LLC

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