Every Game Needs A Dedicated Pass-And-Play Mode

Illustration for article titled Every Game Needs A Dedicated Pass-And-Play Mode
Screenshot: Activision / Kotaku
Kotaku Game DiaryKotaku Game DiaryThe latest thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we're playing.

Every video game supports pass-and-play multiplayer. Just find a stopping point, hit pause, and hand the controller to a friend. Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time’s pass-and-play is the same sort of thing, only the game’s got built-in prompts and per-player summaries at the end. I appreciate the hell out of that.


Welcome to Kotaku’s Game Diary, where I can write about a stupid little thing that made me happy. In this episode we’re talking about a screen that says “Pass The Controller To (Insert Player)“ whenever Crash, Coco, Tawna, Dingodile, or Neo Cortex reaches a checkpoint or dies in Crash Bandicoot 4. It’s just a tiny bit of a framework added to old school couch co-op. It’s a structured way to have fun when you’ve only got a single controller handy.

Screenshot: Activision / Kotaku

The “Pass N. Play” option, as it’s called because Crash devs are on-brand, can be activated from the game’s pause menu at any time, on the level select map. It accommodates up to four players, switching upon reaching a checkpoint, losing a life, or both. Each player is represented by a color, which outlines their character as they work through each level together.

Screenshot: Activision / Kotaku

Were this option not in place, players could certainly do this on their own. Someone dies, pass the controller. Checkpoint reached, pass the controller. All this simple game mode does is add a little structure. It backs up those “it’s my turn!” moments.

As an added bonus, at the end of each level there’s a summary screen, so players one through four can brag about or make excuses for their performance.

Play four dominates.
Screenshot: Activision / Kotaku

I don’t know how much work went into implementing this pass-and-play support in Crash Bandicoot 4, but it doesn’t seem like a whole lot. There’s no reason every game can’t have this fluffy bit of multiplayer support built right in. Again, every game out there supports pass-and-play. Games like Crash 4 just make it a tiny bit more fun.

Kotaku elder, lover of video games, keyboards, toys, snacks, and other unsavory things.


Shiroe, Machiavelli-in-Glasses

I don’t know how much work went into implementing this pass-and-play support in Crash Bandicoot 4, but it doesn’t seem like a whole lot.

As a programmer in a different industry, even the “simplest” features can be quite complicated under the hood. This Pass N’ Play functionality might seem small compared to the game as a whole, but it’s still a significant feature set, which I can understand why more games do not implement it.

These are among the things that have to be tested.

* Registering multiple players between 2 and 4 in the game. I can’t tell from this article, but if a player needs to leave permanently, can the player go into the menu and reduce the number of players?  Otherwise, one player has to use two controllers.
* Controller sync-up with the game.
* Activation of a different controller when passing checkpoints, dying, etc.
* Make sure that player’s controller is registering within the game.
* Making and debugging the UI display to indicate which player is in control, by outlining the character avatar and highlighting the player number on the UI on the right side.
* Score tracking among players
* Testing this functionality through multiple levels of the game, if not the entire game.