January 21, 2009

Revisit Classic Co-op Games

Kube00 Says: Techradar.com has an interesting piece about co-op games. The article mentions Left 4 Dead and scratches the surface of games like World of Warcraft and Team Fortress 2. When I think of co-op games I think back to the 90’s, a glorious time full of wasted afternoons dumping quarters into machines. I fondly remember spending time in the arcade playing games like Metal Slug 3, The Simpsons Arcade game, X-men, TMNT, and of course of the greatest co-op game I’ve ever played: Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara (if you’ve never heard of it I understand). The mention of co-op gameplay also brings me back to games like Double Dragon on the NES, Streets of Rage on Genesis, or Mario Kart 64. To me, co-op means two or more people playing on the same machine working toward a common goal.

As the Techradar article points out, and it’s something I agree on, co-op games have slowly faded to the back of gaming much like simulation games. What was once a thriving industry with a purpose has given away to each of us owning a 360, Wii, PS3, or a PC and playing with and against our friends scattered all over the U.S. With the exception of music-based games such as Rockband and Guitar Hero, co-op play in one room is unheard of.

Most co-op games have become fps’s or MMORPGs. And many of the last gen so called co-op games have made it so easy to play without a partner that when it comes time for someone to jump in, you would rather have the computer continue to fill that role. I am looking at you X-men Legends, Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance. So much easier to have the dumb computer tag along than a human counterpart, they don’t die as much or complain when I kill them.

This doesn’t mean all co-op games are dead. Some of the classics are being re-released on the Wii’s VC, Sony’s PSN, and the Xbox marketplace. There are still a few games from the last generation worth playing for co-op. Let me suggest a few:

  • Time Splitters FP (PS2, GC, Xbox). Although it is an fps, playing through on co-op makes the game 10 times more fun. The studio recently went out of business so I doubt we’ll ever see a 3rd game.
  • Twisted Metal Black (PS2). It is a short game, I would say the single player is maybe 6 hours? Still, with a partner, things are so much easier. Double the firepower equals double the punch, a sorely needed element in the boss fights. You can thank me later.
  • Gauntlet: Dark Legacy (PS2,Xbox, GC). It may be lacking on ideas, but it’s a kick back to the old school with fourlayer support and voices yelling “Player 3 is getting low on health!”

You owe it to yourself to try at least one of these. Most of these games are readily found on Goozex for less than 300 points.