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- Possibly one of the oldest examples, Nautilus for the Atari 8-Bit Computers was a two-player game in which one player controlled a submarine and had to destroy underwater buildings, while the other controlled a ship which dropped mines and depth charges and attempted to repair the buildings, but was unable to go underwater. (Fun trivia fact: according to Wikipedia, it's also the very first Split Screen game in existence!)
- The licensed GI Joe game for the Atari was similar in multiplayer. One player controlled a giant mechanical cobra that dripped venom from its fangs and could fire a laser beam to attack Joe troopers, while the other player controlled a shield that they could use to block the venom and lasers, and fire missiles to try to destroy the cobra.
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has a co-op mode where one player controls Link and the other uses a Game Boy Advance connected to the GameCube to provide support (potions, bombs, etc.) with the Tingle Tuner in-game item. (This doesn't apply to the Wii U remake - ironic in light of the Wii U GamePad that can replicate the GBA functionality - instead having been replaced with Miiverse message sharing in the form of the Tingle Bottle.)
- Pac-Man Vs. also uses a connected Game Boy Advance. The player using the GBA is Pac-Man and gets a full view of the maze, while up to three other players are ghosts and only given limited visibility on a TV split-screen.
- In Duck Hunt "Game A", the first player shoots ducks with the light gun and the second player can control the duck with the normal gamepad.
- Savage, for the PC, is a cross between a Real-Time Strategy game and an action game. One player on each team would be the commander and could see the entire battlefield and issue orders to players. All other players would be individual soldiers.
- In the Half-Life 2 mod Overwatch, one player controls Combine forces from an RTS point of view, while all the other players are on the opposing team and control an individual resistance fighter in typical FPS gameplay.
- Another Half-Life 2 named Zombie Master is similar: most of the players are playing survivors in first-person shooter style, while one player plays as the titular Zombie Master, who spawns and controls the zombies and sets off traps in RTS-style gameplay.
- Natural Selection is a Half-Life mod with Aliens (generally melee- and ambush-focused) vs. Space Marines (standard FPS gameplay and guns, and a Commander with an RTS perspective).
- This is continued in the sequel Natural Selection 2, but as it's no longer a mod, the abilities of the aliens, the space marines and the commanders are increased.
- The Hidden is a source engine mod where one person with invisibility and a knife faces off against a heavily armed team of SWAT-type police with techno-gadgets.
- Pirates Vikings and Knights features three different teams with unique classes and playstyles. The Viking team focuses mostly on melee damage and works best as a horde, overrunning the enemy with pure strength. The Knight team's classes have varying degrees of Crippling Overspecialization, making a teamwork-oriented approach with class variation the best. The Pirates are poorly equipped and lightly armored, but their use of gunpowder weapons makes up for that. Their best use is as The Swarm, dealing consistent poke damage, then running off, never facing the other teams head-on, but rather being a consistent thorn in each of their sides.
- Left 4 Dead has zombies vs. human survivors with completely different gameplay styles. The humans can revive downed teammates, and their goal is to reach the end of the level. Player-controlled zombies instead choose where to spawn, and must prevent the human players from reaching the end of the level by killing them. Their capabilities are also vastly different. Dead humans stay dead for a very long time, whereas dead zombie players revive shortly afterward to keep trying to stop the humans.
- Primal Carnage is basically Left 4 Dead but with dinosaurs instead of zombies. In the "Team Deathmatch" gamemode, each side simply has to get the most kills. In the "Get to the Chopper" gamemode, as a human you have to capture checkpoints and make it to the escape helicopter at the end of the map within a time limit; as a dinosaur, you have to stop them.
- Island Defense, a popular custom map for Warcraft 3, had 10 players controlling builders that need to collect resources and build a fortified base to hold of the Titan, while the remaining player controls the Titan, a powerful unit that tries to stop them before their bases become impenetrable.
- The Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator simulates a Star Trek style spaceship bridge. Each player controls a different aspect of the ship, leading to very different play-styles; the captain is the most extreme example of this, since they cannot take any actions personally and instead relay orders to the other players.
- Crawl Is a dungeon crawler where one player controls the hero, and the other three control the monsters so they can kill him and play as the hero.
- The FPS/RTS hybrid Battle Zone 1998 and its sequel have two player states in the "strategy" multiplayer gamemodes; Commander and Pilot. The Commander takes over most of the RTS functions and have sole control over base equipment (factories and the like) and by default control all the Player Mooks. Pilots start out with nothing under their control besides their own Hover Tank, but the commander can grant control of units to pilots. Commanders generally remain in the base to build it up and defend it, while pilots guide Scavengers to biometal pools and engage the enemy. Players can freely swap between the role of commander and pilot in multiplayer. The MPA gamemode has a human team (commander and pilots) versus an AI controlled commander, and Strategy has two teams of human commanders and pilots.
- Shores of Hazeron had multiple crew stations on its starships, each of which had unique tasks; the helmsman flew the ship, sensor station locked and scanned targets, and the engineer had to keep multiple constantly moving status indicators for the engines/reactor/FTL drive within a green zone or they would become inefficient, etc. The Captain's chair did little on its own, but could override other stations on the ship, such as allowing the captain to pull up the helm station controls and fly the ship manually. Beyond the starships, each player empire had multiple levels of authority for its members; players without the right credentials couldn't authorize new constructions on planets, while the Emperor or other high-ups could commandeer any starships and colony.
- SpyParty is a 1v1 game where one player is a spy at a cocktail party full of AI characters and the other player is a sniper trying to figure out who the human spy is from among the AI.
- Who's Your Daddy? is a 1v1 game about a baby who attempts suicide, and a dad trying to prevent that from happening. The baby wins by killing itself.
- Dead by Daylight is a 4v1 Survival Horror game inspired by slasher movies, in which a team of four Survivors must outwit a powerful Killer, who seeks to hunt them down and sacrifice them to a malevolent Entity.
- Depth, is a 4v2 game where you play as either a diver exploring ancient underwater ruins searching for treasure, or a shark trying to kill the divers. As a diver, collecting gold will give you money you can spend on weapons like spear-guns, pistols, rifles, mines, and turrets. As a shark you killing divers will allow you to "evolve", granting traits like hardened scales, increased stamina, bleeding damage, and health regen.
- "Megalodon Hunt" is a 5v1 gamemode where you either play as a diver or a Megalodon shark; when a diver kills the Megalodon, they become the Megalodon.
- In Allegiance, one player on each team is the commander. The commander gives orders to computer-controlled miners and building vessels while also giving instructions to players, directing them on where to go and who to attack. They are also the only player that can give authorization to other players to pilot more powerful vessels such as bombers.
- Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 allow the second player to point at collectibles with the Wiimote to pick them up and fire them at enemies. Other pointer controls include freezing enemies in place and giving Mario a boosted jump if the two players have good coordination.
- The Metamortex sections of Kirby's Epic Yarn work this way, with the first player controlling movement while the second player handles a secondary aspect of whatever the two transform into. (Everywhere else, gameplay is identical for both players.)
- Sin and Punishment: Star Successor allows a second player to provide additional firepower simply by aiming the Wii Remote at their targets and pressing the fire button. It's implied they're the character that 1P didn't choose, but 2P's character never appears on-screen during gameplay.
- Ju-on The Grudge: Haunted House Simulator contains a mode which lets player one play a chapter as normal, while player two can add to the haunting going on by pressing buttons on their own Wii Remote.
- Punch-Out!! has a two-player mode that pits Little Mac with the mode-exclusive Giga Mac; the former is a Fragile Speedster as they are in the single-player mode, whereas the latter is a Mighty Glacier like the opponents seen in that mode. This is justified, as this allows the two-player mode to share the same visual perspective as the single-player mode (having the player character be significantly smaller than the opponents has been an important detail since the first console game).
- Nintendo Land is all about this. Many of the games have multiplayer modes in which one player's view of the action and role is different from the others. The cooperative games do involve players working towards a common goal, but with very different abilities. The competitive games, however, involve the players having totally different goals in addition to completely different abilities.
- Luigi's Ghost Mansion has an invisible ghost, playing on the touch-screen GamePad, try to sneak up on ghost hunters, while the ghost hunters view the TV and try to stop the invisible ghost with the use of flashlights.
- Mario Chase has one player view the entire playfield on the GamePad while the others, using split-screen views on the TV, attempt to chase and catch Mario.
- Animal Crossing: Sweet Day has one player control two guards on the GamePad to try to catch the other players, who are viewing the TV and trying to steal candy.
- Pikmin Adventures has one player using the GamePad control Captain Olimar, and can fight by throwing Pikmin at enemies and objects by touching them on the screen, while up to four other players control giant Pikmin on the TV and fight enemies directly.
- Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest has one player on the GamePad as an archer shooting enemies with a bow and arrows, including at a distance, while up to four other players use Wii Remotes to fight enemies up close with a sword.
- Metroid Blast allows a player using the GamePad to fly a gunship that has full freedom of movement and blast enemies or other players (if playing competitively), while other players run on the ground and control human fighters who can run, roll into balls, and use grappling beams, but lack the freedom of the gunship.
- New Super Mario Bros. U allows up to four players to control Mario, Luigi and two Toads, while another player can use the GamePad at any time to create blocks that appear on the TV. Both players and enemies can jump on or interact with the blocks. The GamePad player has other abilities, such as interacting with enemies, defeating enemies in some instances, spinning gears in the opposite direction, or revealing invisible 3-up life blocks.
- The Wii U version of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed has two exclusive modes: Banana Heist, where one person controls Aiai in a ball while everyone else races normally, and Aiai must take bananas from them; and Ninja Tag, where one person controls Joe Musashi and runs into the other players. In both modes, all of the other players need to defend themselves.
- The Wii U version of Rayman Legends lets player 1 do this with the GamePad, using the touchscreen to control Murphy in order to clear obstacles and tickle enemies while letting the other players run and jump as usual. Certain levels require player 1 to do this; when playing solo, these segments skew more toward Unexpected Gameplay Change.
- Mario Party 10 has a mode called "Bowser Mode", where the group is trying to reach the end of the board and collect the star, but the player controlling Bowser is trying to knock out the other's hearts by using "Bowser Minigames" involving breathing fire, smashing them with a hammer, and Bingo. Another major difference in the play types is that Bowser sometimes sets traps or tries to trick the group players.
- Splinter Cell: Double Agent has a mode in which a team of players fight as mercs against a single player playing as Sam Fischer, who has his spy abilities.
- This applies any time a 1 vs. 3 minigame comes up in the Mario Party series, for the obvious reason that it would be unfair otherwise.
- Battlefield 2 has a mode where one player on each team is a commander, while all others are soldiers. The commander has the ability to issue orders to players as well as drop artillery, though they also exist as a soldier and can take personal action as well (and of course be killed).
- Battlefield 4 re-introduces the commander role, but removes the player from the battlefield entirely, while also giving the ability to drop supplies, order troops, and other tactical advantages.
- The selling point of Evolve. Four players are human hunters, armed with futuristic weapons and gadgets, who rely on teamwork and coordination. One player is a massive monster that becomes more powerful over time and works alone. These two groups play against each other as the balance of power shifts from the hunters to the monster the longer the game goes on.
- Shadow Realms is a four-versus-one game. Four human characters face a single overlord character, with the latter's abilities being consciously patterned on those of the Game Master in a pen-and-paper RPG.
- Silkworm was a multi-platform scrolling shooter where one player controlled a helicopter and the other an armoured jeep. The helicopter player had full screen movement but could only fire forwards and had to avoid colliding with airborne enemies, while the jeep player had to destroy or jump over obstacles on the ground and could fire in any direction. It had a spiritual successor called SWIV with the same basic concept, only transferred to a vertical shooter.
- A Game Boy game for The Hunt for Red October had a two-player mode where the second player was the Soviet commander hunting the titular submarine, and thus controlled all the enemy forces one would find on a typical level of the game.
- The online multiplayer for Batman: Arkham Origins has four roles it randomly assigns to the players: one of three of Bane's minions, one of three of The Joker's minions, Batman, and Robin. In the former two roles, the players attempt to win a Third-Person Shooter deathmatch to claim as much territory on the map as possible; in the latter two roles, the players take down as many of the respawning minions as they can until they build up a Fear meter, which ends the game in their favor.
- Friday the 13th: The Game: seven players play as Camp Crystal Lake counselors, and the eighth player is Jason Voorhees. The counselors have to try and survive until the end of the game (or if they're feeling brave, work together to beat Jason), while Jason's goal is to Kill 'em All.
- Island Wars subverts this. During the first phase of gameplay (Morning), one player uses a controllable aircraft to fire at the other player's palm trees on their island, and the other player's job is to control a grounded cannon to defend against the first player's aircraft. This is a subversion because the second phase (noon) switches the roles around, thus giving each player a similar experience, and the third phase (Evening) has both players fight each other in aircraft.
- Pen and paper role-playing games are essentially this in analogue form. The Game Master has complete control over everything and is unconcerned about leveling, loot, dying, or other player-only problems. The Game Master's job is provide balanced and challenging gameplay as well as rules adjudications. A player's job is to attempt to survive whatever the GM tosses at them.
- Cooperative Adventure Board Games like HeroQuest and Descent: Journeys in the Dark emulate Tabletop RPG in having a "Game Master" but the GM is constricted by the rules just like the other players, and their role is basically reduced to controlling monsters and traps, while other players control individual Hero Units.
- In Clue: The Great Museum Caper, one player plays the thief, who is invisible on the board, trying to steal artwork, while the other players play the detectives trying to catch the thief. This style is also used in games like Scotland Yard, or in the bio-terrorist challenge for Pandemic: On The Brink.
- Fox games are a class of ancient two-player strategy board games where one player's force is smaller than the other, but usually has unrestricted moves and the ability to kill opposing forces; the larger force has restricted movement and can only immobilize the smaller force.
- A few Collectible/Constructed Card Games do this, most notably Netrunner. In both the original version and the reboot, one player is the corp defending his servers, while the other is the runner trying to hack into those servers. Each side plays by different rules and has his own set of cards to use; the runner can't use corp cards and corp can't use runner cards.
- Vast: The Crystal Caverns takes this to an extreme, with up to five completely different characters: the dragon, the knight, the goblins, the thieves, and the cave itself. Each has different rules, statistics, and goals.