Co-op Video Games You May Have Missed (For PS2/Xbox/Wii)
With all the competitiveness there is in video games and all the new online content, it can sometimes be hard to find a game that you can sit down and complete with a friend. Apparently working together isn’t as popular as blasting each other. But that doesn’t mean good cooperative games don’t exist, they’re just harder to find. In this series of articles, which I’m leaving open ended, I will chronicle some of my favorite Co-op games from the past generations of gaming consoles. Enjoy.
Important Note: Make sure to check which gaming consoles these games are available for, as some might not have been released on a system that you own. Also, some of the newer systems allow for backwards compatibility of old games. So, for example, if I list a game below for the Xbox, there is a chance it can be played on the Xbox 360. Check your console’s website to learn more about its backwards compatibility.
Obscure: The Aftermath
This game wasn’t even on my radar until my wife pointed it out to me in the local game store. The concept of a Co-op survival horror was completely foreign to me. Part of the appeal of a survival horror is the isolation, and surely that would be too hard to replicate with two people. Well it isn’t. This game manages to serve up the scares even when you’ve got someone sitting right next to you experiencing the same thing. The story is pretty decent, chronicling stereotypical college students caught up in a mutant plant outbreak, and it gives you enough incentive to keep playing to its conclusion. It controls similarly to a Resident Evil game in that the camera is usually fixed in a specific position and changes depending on what room you’re in. The only difference here is that the camera has more range of movement because it has to accommodate two players. The game definitely benefits from playing with another person and includes a number of mini games as you go to unlock doors and crack codes. I would recommend the first game in the series (Aftermath is the sequel) but it is very difficult to find and I haven’t managed it yet.
Available for: Wii, PS2, PC, PSP
New Super Mario Bros.
Okay, this game is still pretty new and most people know about it, but it bears mentioning anyway. I’ve heard game reviewers bash this game because it doesn’t have as much content as they expect from a Nintendo game, but it more than makes up for it in sheer enjoyment. Playing the classic style Mario with up to three friends is an absolute blast. It is still fun with two people, but the more you can get, the crazier it is. Jumping on each others heads, stealing 1ups and trying to coordinate ground-pounds will have you laughing and scowling at each other for weeks. There are star coins that give some replay value to the game, but other than that there are limited unlockables. The heart and soul of the game is its multiplayer and if you have enough people to play, then you shouldn’t pass this one up.
Available for: Wii
Justice League Heroes
Made by the same people who gave us Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance (which I mention below) we have a top down Co-op RPG with the DC super heroes as the stars. However, even though I say it’s an RPG, it is very light on the stats element. You get points that you can use to upgrade each of the super heroes, but it’s done with an easy to understand interface and doesn’t slow down the action on the battlefield. The graphics are surprisingly good for a PS2 game, even though the camera is locked above you like similar dungeon crawler games. There is a good amount of levels and unlockables as you go, but one of the most enjoyable parts of the game is playing as your favorite superhero and following the story to its conclusion.
Available for: PS2, Xbox, PSP, DS
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance
One of the great Co-op RPGs from the last console generation, Dark Alliance takes the Baldur’s Gate universe and runs away with it. If you’re a fan of RPGs and you’ve got a friend to play it with, don’t hesitate with this one. There are multitudes of upgrades you can acquire and plenty of levels that will keep you challenged. There is no prior experience needed with the Baldur’s Gate franchise, but if you have played the PC games you’ll find yourself enjoying the world again. With some of the best graphics of the generation and solid gameplay, you won’t even realize you’re playing a PS2 game. The first Dark Alliance is the better of the two that were released, though if you find that you really liked it the second game (Dark Alliance 2) provides more of the same with some added customization and more characters.
Available for: PS2, Xbox, GameCube
Mortal Kombat: The Shaolin Monks
Most Mortal Kombat games remain strictly in the realm of one-on-one fighting, where the series began, but Midway decided to try for an action adventure game in the form of Shaolin Monks. While the game’s graphics are touch and go, and the dialogue can be cheesy, the combat is quite entertaining. As you progress through the game you’ll get new abilities and fatalities with the ability to string them all together in some fast paced, bloody action. There are some times where the game can be a little repetitive and the bosses, unforgiving, but the action is fun and any fan of the Mortal Kombat series will be happy to see the story gap filled between the first and second game in the series. Playing the game with another person can add challenge (because both of you have to make the long jump instead of just one) but it also adds a lot of fun.
Available for: PS2, Xbox
Lego Star Wars
This is another series you might have already heard of, but if you haven’t checked it out yet, then you should do yourself a favor and take a look. The first Lego Star Wars is a very simple game. Kill the bad guys and collect money. However, despite this simple design, it is a heck of a lot of fun to play, especially with another person. The humor is charming enough that anyone can appreciate it, but clean enough that you can play it with your young children. And, as a Star Wars fan, I loved revisiting the world of the prequel trilogy. (If you’re a fan of the classic films you can pick up Lego Star Wars II to play through Episodes four through six.) And, if Star Wars isn’t your favorite, you can also choose from Indiana Jones, Batman and the upcoming Harry Potter universes, all Lego-ized for your enjoyment.
Available for: PS2, GameCube, Xbox, Xbox 360, DS, PSP, Wii, PS3
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
While it is marketed as a fighting game with the stars of Nintendo’s most popular franchises, Smash Bros Brawl also contains a number of Co-op modes. You can fight cooperatively to beat the event challenges or you can both progress together though the game’s story mode, called the Subspace Emissary. For those unfamiliar with Smash Bros, the Subspace Emissary is a full blown side scrolling adventure, using the familiar Smash Bros. controls to progress through the levels and boss battles. At any time a second player can jump in and join the battle. There is somewhat of a learning curve if you or your second player has never played Smash Bros (the game is fast paced and unforgiving), but with enough practice you can both be smashing primids left and right.
Available for: Wii
Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows
Since the days of arcades, Gauntlet has been one of the premier Co-op RPGs. Put you and three friends in the middle of a dungeon and fight off wave after wave of monsters. It’s simple and yet with the right friends it can be very entertaining. The most recent rendition of the series is Seven Sorrows, which received a graphical upgrade as well as a more definitive story. However if you’re looking to go old school, Dark Legacy is available for most of the previous consoles. The Gauntlet series isn’t as deep as newer RPGs (like Baldur’s Gate) but I still believe the games have something unique to offer.
Available for: PS2, Xbox
Hunter the Reckoning
The Xbox’s own top-down action RPG, came out some time ago, but even now the game is silky smooth, challenging and moody. A rave in the city of Ashcroft has been crashed by zombies and demons and it’s up to you, a special group people known as ‘hunters’ who must push back the evil menace. Combining both melee and ranged weapons, this game is a lot of fun. It can be pretty hard, but its gothic story is dark and interesting enough to keep you going. With a sequel on the Xbox and a spinoff on the PS2, this series might just grab a hold of you.
Available for: Xbox, PS2, GameCube
There is a good chance that you’ve heard of this famous first person shooter. Some people hated the first one because of its repetitive level design, but nothing compares to Co-op mode. You and another friend take to the alien world with a seemingly limitless supply of bullets and frequent vehicles that are easy and fun to drive. Tie that in with a book-worthy storyline and you’ve got a real gem of a game. The sequels only improve on the winning formula and if you get sick of your friend, you can engage in some of the greatest multiplayer deathmatch modes from the last generation.
Available for: Xbox, Xbox 360, PC