One of my favorite gaming memories is the first time I was able to play through a game with a buddy rather than just shoot at each other. The earliest game I remember allowing this was Perfect Dark on the Nintendo 64 and then Timesplitters on the Gamecube. In a similar way to how far these games were removed from each other, couch co-op has been an elusive game option. However, the feature seems to be on the rise, and the following are fantastically fun titles available right now.
This smooth, fast paced, and raucous side-scroller is a ridiculously fun ride for two to four players, though I’ve only played with 2 players. The game is accessible enough to jump in and start moving through the levels with relative ease, but it offers varying degrees of challenge for the players looking to check off the boxes on different collectibles and secrets in each level. There are daily and weekly challenges, different types of levels, and creative boss fights that always feel different and challenging but manageable. My favorite aspect of this game was the save mechanic. During the really quick run-as- fast-as-you-can levels it’s nice to have an abundance of check points with areas that are not forgiving of any wrong moves. It creates an “I’ve almost got it” mentality, as opposed to the exhausting feeling one can get when you have to keep starting over. In fact they probably could not have ratcheted up the difficulty so high without the consistent checkpoints because it would have exhausted the player. So the save mechanic allowed them to have a level of intensity absent from other games like it. Some of the time-based challenges, however, would make you start over, primarily because they were so short, but also because they weren’t normal levels but separate challenges. I give this game the fullest endorsement possible for anyone looking for a fun and content heavy couch co-op game. And look for this to be free the entire month of March on the Xbox One for Gold Members.
Another fantastic side scrolling thrasher with a brightly colored “day of the dead” design aesthetic. You play as rough and tumble characters who put on luchador masks, and the game has dynamic levels of fighting mechanics that keep the game varied and pretty challenging. Later more difficult levels and bosses require stringing together combos to stay in the air or do maximum damage. But the game offers reasonable accessibility and pacing as you unlock different abilities and combos with a humorous nod to Metroid with each discovered power. Similar to my endorsement of Rayman Legends, if you enjoy a fun and fast paced co-op sidescroller with a good mix of accessibility and challenge, then Quacamelee is a must own.
Lara Croft: The Temple of Osiris
If you played the first game, The Guardian of Light, you will probably want to pick this one up. It continues the same top-down dungeon crawler style with the simple and yet fun move and shoot mechanic that fans of Smash TV will be fond of. The reason this game makes my list of good couch co-op is because of the fun simplicity but also because of the role assignments in the puzzle solving and boss fights. I already wrote about how the next Borderlands game should consider using different roles in boss fights to spice things up, and you get a glimpse of how it could work in this game. For example, my wife’s character shoots a laser beam as a primary attack, and while she was doing that I had to rotate mirrors to reflect her beam to solve puzzles and even hurt a boss. I have a few gripes when the game shifts from regular fighting and moving to “run from this giant thing” because it isn’t always smooth or even apparent. Dying was not frustrating because of a lack of checkpoints, those are plentiful, but the load times are strangely very long. Overall a good couch co-op experience for the price.
This title is an absolute given if you want a good couch co-op game with lots of depth, variety, and replayability. You will especially want to snag this if you somehow haven’t played it and are a fan of RPGs or dungeon crawlers.
Why couch co-op?
As I wrap this up I want to say a bit about why couch co-op should be a more common feature in games. First, not everyone has lots of gaming friends online or even an interest in playing with strangers online. If you offer co-op in your game, it shouldn’t be that difficult to allow for two players to play on the same screen. I know, I know, I’m simplifying development that probably takes extra time and energy, but more and more adults are playing video games, and roommates, siblings, and married couples enjoy couch co-op. So there is a bigger portion of the market that buys these types of games than before. What couch co-op games did I leave out?
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