Time is a funny thing. One moment you are playing two-player Contra with your Dad in the living room, and the next thing you know you’re blasting away the competition from around the world via internet connection on Call of Duty. Gaming has changed a lot since it arrived on the scene, but one thing has remained constant; It’s a whole lot more fun when you have other people playing along with you. In fact, gaming has always been a social hobby, connecting its participants with magazines and fan clubs long before the age of the internet. So it is only natural that developers would look for more ways to allow more gamers to participate at once. One such tool was the Hudson Super Multitap.
How It Works
The Super Multitap was a thin gray strip that operates as a kind of switchboard to allow four additional SNES controllers for the price of one controller slot. This works by plugging the back end of the Multitap into the system via one of the SNES’s two controller plugins. There are then four slots on the Multitap that allow controllers to be connected to the front of the device. This would theoretically allow for eight players if you used two Multitaps, but no official software was ever created that allowed more than five. Still, you can imagine the possibilities! This peripheral really opened up the door to some innovative and creative ideas.
Reception and Legacy
Like with many system add-ons, it’s just too bad that most developers did not use it. The Hudson Super Multitap had the same problem that the SNES Mouse and Super Scope had. Developers were afraid to take a chance designing a game around a peripheral that many SNES owners did not own. Most games that supported the Multitap were sports games.
Yet the Super Multitap was honestly the most successful peripheral Nintendo put out in this era. Many developers besides Nintendo and Hudson used it, and some of the games that utilized the device were the best on the system! I think that it helped when the choice was made to bundle Super Bomberman with the Multitap, as this made for an excellent example of how much fun multiplayer gaming could be with four or more people. It also may have had a hand in the development of systems with four controller ports built into them, as this became gaming standard after the release of the N64. The best news of all is that you can find one now for around 20 dollars in good condition, so it is definitely a worthy addition to any SNES player’s collection.
If you do manage to find one, give the following games a try:
The Five Best Super-Multitap Games
Super Bomberman and Super Bomberman 2: Both of these games represent the epitome of multiplayer excellence in the 16-bit era. Up to four bombers can go toe-to-toe in a wide variety of arenas and game types. Trapping your buddy in between a block and your fiery explosion ranks as one of the most satisfying moments in competitive gaming. I still find this to be more fun than any shooter, and I probably always will.
NBA Jam: Tournament Edition: How do you make the best sports game on the Super Nintendo even better? Throw in support for four players, of course! I cannot stress how much more awesome that this game becomes when you replace the computer AI with a thinking friend. What was once just an arcade basketball game becomes a strategy experience like no other, as you must work together rather than rely on/ignore the AI players. This game was made for four people!
Secret Of Mana: One of my favorite games on the system and one of the best games of all time gets fresh life with the Multitap, allowing you to experience the quest with two buddies. I could really end this right there- A multiplayer Square RPG! But this game really picks something up when you play with other people. It is perfect for multiplayer, allowing one to fight, one to cast magic and one to heal. If you do not have SoM and a Multitap, you really do not know what you are missing!
Battle Cross: Super Nintendo has a good stable of quality racing games. F-Zero, Super Mario Kart, and Uniracers were all great. But one of the things that they all lack is the ability to have some truly epic races with three or more human-controlled cars! Introducing Battle Cross, a Japanese import racer that allows up to five players at a time to battle for racing superiority. While the game is one of the best on its own, it really shines when you fill a room with friends and start your engines!
Even in this age of online gaming, I really think that games like Super Bomberman make a case for having four buddies in the same room. It’s just awesome fun to have this kind of experience, and it’s something that today’s multiplayer games lack-that person to person human interaction. Plus, when you’re all in the same room, you can always unplug the controller of the first guy that starts acting like a jackass!!
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