It’s finally in the meat of the holiday season, Halloween has passed, and Thanksgiving is going to be in not all that long, and Christmas just a month later. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t my favorite time of year, that I don’t belt out Christmas music in the car in July, or that Jingle All The Way isn’t a guilty pleasure of mine that I indulge in whenever I damn well please. Don’t even tell me “It’s Turbo Time!” isn’t one of the most hysterically so-bad-it’s-good lines in any kids movie ever. Maybe it’s just the good mood that the season puts me in anyway, but I also tend to associate this season with love, much more so than Valentine’s Day, that’s just one day, this is a whole season of love and shit, man. If you love gaming as much as I do (and I could only guess that you do if you’re reading this), then at one point in your life, you’ve probably tried to get your SO to game with you.
I have found in past experience that you’ve really gotta pick and choose the games that you choose for this, and no, Smash and Mario Party will not be on this list. I’ll file those under “Top 10 Games That Will Get You A Divorce In Record Time”, along with Monopoly. These games won’t necessarily be co-op, but they’ll be sure to bring a smile, a laugh, a crisp high-five, hug, fist-bump, tongue, etc. between the two of you. Also, disclaimer, this is just my personal opinion, observation, and experience, there is no science behind this list, and it almost certainly will not match 100% of the people that read it, it’s just for fun. Enjoy!
10) Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
The Legend of Zelda Series is not exactly known for being anything besides a bunch of fantastical open-world single-player adventures that excel in their respective formula. However, there have been a few multiplayer-friendly entries, such as the recent Tri-Force Heroes for the Nintendo 3DS. However, the game I’m talking about is a bit older, and was on the Nintendo Gamecube, a little game that took the tried-and-true formula for the Zelda games and made out to be a fantastic co-op venture. Players would compete co-operatively to reach the end of the level by working together, but also trying to earn the most points for an arbitrary (yet satisfying) score at the end of the level. Rather than building an arsenal of weapons and items over the course of the game, you would always hold onto your sword, and each player could pick up different items (Bow, Bombs, Fire Rod, etc). It played with some stuff that we had seen before such as light world/dark world stuff from Link To The Past, and a graphical style not unlike Minish Cap. It’s a low-stress romp for 1-4 players through Hyrule, and is perfect for a relaxing date night, especially if you’re both fans of the series.
9) Diablo III: Reaper Of Souls
I only say Reaper of Souls because there’s literally no point in getting the game without the expansion, it just provides more content (and also, it’s the version I own). Couch co-op in a dungeon-crawler RPG is music to my ears, and Diablo III did it pretty well! I understand that fans of the series have their fair share of gripes with the game, but the fact that it came to consoles and the fact that you can sit down with a loved one and murder the minions of Hell all night makes up for that, in my opinion. The game is fast enough, but not too fast, cranking the difficulty up just a couple notches means that you can start new characters together and level up fairly quickly to blast through the main campaign in not too long. Not to mention, it’s fun to play through more than just once, especially with picking different classes, it’s always more fun when one person is a close-quarters fighter and the other is long-range. It’s always fun to help each other pick skills and runes to try to figure out what sets work the best together and how to build your characters. That, and blasting through demonic hoards of enemies together is just ever-so-slightly romantic, wouldn’t you agree?
8) Gears of War Series
Quite possibly the king of couch co-op when it comes to third-person shooters, the Gears games can be as easy or challenging as you’re like. On the easiest difficulty, your enemies might as well be filled with cotton candy, while you’re built like a brick shit-house, and on the hardest difficulty, controllers will almost certainly be thrown through some kind of surface. Even if neither of you have played any of the games, it doesn’t take long to get used to the controls and gameplay mechanics, such as reviving each other. I think that’s one of the things that makes this such a good game to play with your significant other, you kind of have to rely on each other, should one of you get downed. If one of you dies all the way, that’s it, game over, so you have to work to save each other, and not just in terms of reviving each other. Providing covering fire so that your partner can go hop on a turret or pick up a powerful weapon or throw a well-placed grenade is essential and really makes you work together in a multitude of ways. Plus, I mean, come on, couples that chainsaw together, stay together, am I right? No, probably not, but still, it’s a cute sentiment.
7) Castle Crashers
Castle Crashers is one of the greatest indie games to come out, well, ever, even though it might not be the greatest beat-em-up ever, it’s still a blast. Alone it’s a good game, but with a partner by your side, that’s truly how the game was meant to be played. Being able to revive each other can be the make-or-break situation in any of the games many boss fights, and always provides for a frantic scene. Trying to perform CPR on your partner while a giant, evil corn cob is trying to kill you is both hysterical and awesome when you wind up actually reviving them. Of course, at the end of every major level, you have to fight each other to see who gets to kiss the princess. So that way you can get out that pent-up anger from that one time they screwed up reviving you and you had to restart the whole level again. It’s that perfect level of co-op and “man, I can’t wait to cleave your head off when this level is over”. Isn’t that how true love should be though?
6) Left 4 Dead Series
Couples who survive together, stay together, right? That’s the way that I look at it, at least, and the way anyone who’s played Left 4 Dead probably looks at it, too. One of the most enjoyable split-screen first-person shooters of the last console generation, Left 4 Dead and its sequel, Left 4 Dead 2, are amazing co-op games. For novices, cranking it down to the lowest difficulty is a joyful romp through hordes of zombies, mowing them down with shotguns, machine guns, etc. For couples with more FPS experience and somewhat quicker reaction times, putting the difficulty up can provide a serious challenge that only the most adept partners should attempt to conquer. Special zombies will tear you apart, and you best steel your nerves for when the Tank shows his ugly, tiny head. Make sure to share those med-kits and pain killers, and call out those items, and get ready to take on the undead together, definite date-night material.
5) Halo 3
Has there ever been a more reluctant, yet perfect bromance than Arby and The Chief? Halo 3, by most fan’s judgement, had one of the best campaigns of any of the Halo games, and was the first co-op campaign where each player was a different character. Before then, player 1 and 2 were just both Master Chief, but now, player 2 gets to be The Arbiter, which, although isn’t noticeably different from Chief, was still cool. It makes both players feel equally important, and with the awesome missions that Halo 3 had, it’s truly one of the most cinematic co-op experiences on the Xbox 360. Taking down the Scarab together on The Ark, or surviving the Flood, or even hunting for all of the skulls across all of the levels together, everything that you can do is more fun together. True, you can’t revive each other, and when one person dies, it becomes “Oh, jesus, quick, run back so that I can come back, you’re gonna get yourself killed”. However, even so, when one person distracts an enemy Wraith so that the other can run around behind it and plant a grenade in it, it’s a good feeling. Nothing beats driving the Warthog while the love of your life has become a sadist with the chain gun in the back, marriage material for sure.
4) Borderlands 2
It’s hard to find a game that’s got the best of so many worlds like Borderlands 2 does, at least, in terms of videogames. It’s got tight gameplay, in-depth skill trees for 6 very unique characters, a fantastic antagonist that basically steals the entire show, and a difficulty level that ramps up gradually, and basically anyone can get into it. With split-scren co-op, you can buddy up with your significant other and take on Skags, Handsome Jack’s armies, and psychopaths galore for hours on end, and if you’re feeling frisky, take on that New Game Plus! On a personal note, this is best played on a larger TV, if available, not having the whole screen to yourself does make some of the text a little bit difficult to read, and if you haven’t played before, it makes it a pain trying to figure out what some stuff says, especially in menus.
3) TMNT: Turtles in Time
Although, yes, there are 4 Ninja Turtles, there are only two default controller ports on the SNES, and of all of the TMNT games, this one is by far the best. Throwing foot clan ninjas into the screen never gets old, and considering that the game takes almost no time at all to beat, it’s great for a quick afternoon gaming sesh. Pick from your favorite turtles and hop right into some of the tightest beat-em-up gameplay of all time on the SNES, right up there with Final Fight (Boo for being single-player). That’s not to mention that there’s also the Hyperstone Heist on the Sega Genesis, which is almost the same game (though TiT seems to be more of a fan-favorite). Although the game is best experienced when all parties involved are fans of the reptilian heroes, so that you can swap quips from the show, but regardless, it’s a near-seamless co-op experience.
2) Raiden I & II
Shoot em’ ups have gone in many different directions over the last few decades, but few are as balanced as the first two Raiden games, especially the second. Of course, that’s just my personal opinion, but I grew up owning both on a combo disc on the Playstation 1, and played the shit out of it with my brother, and actually, my mom every now and then. The bullet hell in it isn’t absolutely unforgiving, and when two people play together, you can actually bounce attacks off of each other for different effects. When both players have the purple plasma beam at max power, you can absolutely devastate enemies, and if you coordinate screen nukes, it’s like a synchronized swim team. If you’ve never played the game, at least get an emulator and try it out (you didn’t hear that kind of sacrilege from me).
1) Streets of Rage 2
The king of beat em up games, Streets of Rage 2 had a perfect blend of so many things, visuals, music, fluid gameplay, fair difficulty, everything. Four different characters are all just diverse enough to where each one provides a different style of gameplay, and makes it fun to figure out which character is your favorite. The two-player co-op is absolutely perfect, sure, you can hit each other, but you’re not locked into any combos, and the screen size is big enough to where it’s not too likely that you’ll bump into each other. It doesn’t take long to get all the way through the game, and it’ll seem even shorter than it really is because the game is just that good. It’ll probably take a couple play-throughs for you to get all the way through, since every boss has the potential to whoop your ass if you’re not careful. I can’t say that I could recommend a better game to play with your significant other, though, it requires communication and planning, but only just enough. It feels good to knock some goons teeth out with the love of your life, especially with a pipe, nothing is more romantic than pipes. Or broken teeth.
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