I’ll Hold Him, You Punch: Co-Op Adventures In Video Games

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Together we win or together we cheese off each others stocked up lives, co-op is a pretty fantastic way to play video games. I’m not a big fan of when it pits us against each other in friendly competition, usually because it is either ignored completely or results in being something far from friendly. Some games have you just be another player in the adventure while others have entirely new modes or challenges, perhaps they have a few mechanics that are unique to co-op that are fun to play with and utilise with extreme choreography. Let’s just have a stroll down some of some great games I’ve played or know people who’ve played them and…well just have a gander at what they do and why it works or doesn’t.

Streets Of Rage is what comes to mind for me immediately when somebody says co-op. It isn’t particularly revolutionary but it was one of my first and dammit it was kickass to hold that ass who’d be causing you trouble and have your friend space their punches right to jab them while you hold them. There was even an unique mechanic of throwing and flipping over a friend, flinging yourself or them like a projectile in the air for some great area coverage….plus the accidental knees to the face during the holds didn’t hurt…not much anyway. The screen nuke for player 1 was a circle of flames but part of why I loved co-op was player 2 had a rain of fire that just looked and sounded powerful, always a sight to behold.

Dynasty Warriors is also a big favourite of mine thanks to the double coverage of the map with two generals, pincering enemy forces and covering more area. You don’t know the relief of having a friend with a horse while you are down in the dirt with dozens of mooks who can ride off to save that key NPC for you. It was also good strategizing to have one person play as an area clearer while the other be a focused warrior who can annihilate the captains quickly. The height of the fun though? When within a certain range you can do essentially a double special if the other player hits it in time of the first players activation, causing an epic camera swing around your characters with echoing music, followed by lighting element attacks and SLOWDOWN…which is fine when you are fully invincible and are tearing it up with your buddy.

Slowly coming further into the modern times, Halo comes up as a stellar co-op romp. Twice the firepower is always good but with a game that limits gun capacity to two at a time I can hold the heavy weapons like a lunatic and he can be… well he can be the smart one not trying to melee an Elite with a rocket launcher. The more practical element of co-op in Halo 1 at least is that one person can die and the other lives on, meaning you can kill your friend to heal him and get some free ammo and grenades. A neat little trick if you find you are both running low on health and are doing the Legendary difficulty, fuck that infernal night stage with the Flood, who taught these creatures to fire rocket launchers….at point blank!

Not a game I personally played but Castle Crashers has shown to be quite confident in its co-op infused gameplay…shame from what I’ve seen that the game doesn’t really hold up on your own. It seems a lot of bosses and enemies like to gang up on you, relying on having another player even if only as a separate target looks to be the way to have a good time. It also for some reason forces players to fight each other at the end of a stage for the heart of the princess, after having pooled your efforts to even get this far. Not a huge problem but I wish we could just…share or something.

Also a hell of a time is the Monster Hunter series, a series that thrives on multiple people working together to cut down a big fire breathing thing…or ice breathing…or lightning…or slime… or fire slime lightning. An entire class is based around stat boosts and supporting characters that is also a rather active damage class which provides a fun way to play. More importantly, it’s 4 targets for the AI to chase (although you’ll be forgiven if they seem to like the taste of you for half the damn battle) with certain classes being more of a target due to their noise. Recently In MH4 you have the ability to attack mid air, a function that comes into play with classes that can do attacks which launch you. Before they were a pain, now they can be used as a means to get a strike when not near a ledge or climbable wall. Shame about the pooled retries…that is the same amount as a solo run so everybody but you can die and the match is over. Way to make someone the problem Capcom.

What games have you played that are great in co-op? Do you prefer to play together or in a friendly competition? What games don’t have co-op that you think could be great with it implemented? Thanks for the read and I’ll see you later.

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  1. #1 by pcbushi on May 21, 2015 - 12:48 pm

    Some good memories of co-op games. Back in the glory days of SNES I used to play Legend of the Mystical Ninja, Rocky and Pocky, Zombies Ate My Neighbors…and yeah, Double Dragon in arcades was a good time, too.

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    • #2 by Prof.mcstevie on May 21, 2015 - 5:51 pm

      Playing co-op games in arcades must have been the best time you could have if you found a stranger who was good at the game.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. #3 by L.P. Mergle on May 8, 2015 - 8:45 am

    Maybe I’m a bad person… Whenever I play co-op games things turn aggressive pretty fast. Streets of Rage is a good example, there was an awful lot of beating each other up and ignoring the actual bad guys. I also remember playing Baldur’s Gate, before they had a shared inventory, where the trick was to run round grabbing all the chests and drops while your friend was busy doing the actual fighting.

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    • #4 by Prof.mcstevie on May 8, 2015 - 3:30 pm

      I think its just the opportunity to do bad when put in a position of good is very tempting. Loads of people turn co-op adventures into a “who can run over the other guy” contest, especially good friends.

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  3. #5 by Matt on May 6, 2015 - 12:18 pm

    I love the recent tendency of sidescrollers to feature co-op modes. It is a really great way to add value to a genre that had always been focused on single-player gameplay. I wonder if 3-D platformers or adventure titles will be the next ones to get the same treatment once technology is able to support two human-controlled characters without causing the quality of the visuals to drop.

    As for playing together vs having a friendly competition, I am all for the former. I tend to ignore the added features that create competition within the coperation, such as the crown from Super Mario 3D World.

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    • #6 by Prof.mcstevie on May 7, 2015 - 4:15 pm

      I like to nab the crown not for points but just to wear a fancy crown. The only competition comes from someone ELSE thinking they too would look good with a crown.

      Liked by 1 person

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