Some of my favorite video game memories were made with a group of friends huddled around a TV. The good old days of SNES multitaps and local co-operative games. I remember getting a group of friends and my brother together to play The Lord of the Rings for the SNES. Sure, you had to have two multitaps to get the player count over 4, but who cares. There is nothing like teaming up with a group of friends to go on adventures in your living room. So, where the hell did all of the local co-op games go?
The Need For Local Co-Ops
I love Dynasty Warriors. One of the reasons I love it, is that I can sit down with my brother and hack through hoards of enemies while hanging out. It is one of the best local co-op experiences to be found these days. And yet, it still fails to live up to the standards that earlier local co-op games set. You see, Dynasty Warriors limits you to two players for local play. There is nothing special about 2 player co-op these days, thanks to all of the buddy shooter games out there. The most awesome game play comes in those third and fourth player slots. When you upgrade just a hang out, to a memory in the making
Who doesn’t have fond memories of hacking, slashing, and magicking their way through Gauntlet Legends? These days we basically have Castle Crashers and Dungeon Defenders to lean on for 4 player co-op. The only other games worth their salt are the re-releases of classic games we’ve been playing for a decade. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy getting in on the classic games with a group of friends. But seriously, can’t we get some new games to spend time with? Playing a game with 2 players is fun, but playing a game with 4 or more players is a party. There is a reason why everyone knows Oddjob isn’t allowed, and it’s co-op.
“We have internet now!” I hear you saying, “We don’t need to actually spend time with friends in person to enjoy games!” I call BS on that proposition. Slapping on my headset and playing online with friends has never, and will never, have the same feeling as having a group of friends over for a gaming sessions. There is a reason people still have LAN parties all the time; face to face interactions aren’t replaceable. Sure, I can play my games online with 3 friends, but then who is going to finish this case of beer and giant plate of nachos with me?
The fact that local co-op gives us the chance to game in the same room as our friends makes all the difference. My best times playing Call of Duty weren’t ever online, they were at 2 a.m. Sitting in my best friends house. There is a reason that we all have such fond memories surrounding the local party games. If their done well, they’re pretty much guaranteed to be a hit. Even smaller games like Castle Crashers can end up doing better than anyone expected, because playing with friends is always more fun. Even that dick friend that always gets pouty and mad when he loses, even he makes your gaming experience better.
Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros., Mario Party, Gauntlet Legends, Goldeneye, These are hugely popular and filled with great memories for a reason. And no, it’s not because Mario is in half of them…I think. When was the last time you spent a night gaming with a group of friends and didn’t have a good time? For most of you, I’m guessing never. When it comes to gaming in person with friends, you can have a great time even when you’re losing. It’s not just about games, it’s about social interaction and bonding with your close pals. And lets be honest, the children of the internet age could all do with a bit more social bonding.
Now let us think about all of the annoyances that the lack of local multi-player has brought us. On several occasion my brother or I has brought a game back to the apartment to play together. The game advertised great multi-player, and how much more awesome it was with a friend. But when we put it in the system, we’re told that it only supports multi-player online. Suddenly the extinction of local multi-player was hitting me in the wallet. In order to even play video games with my brother, we’re often forced to buy two of the same console, and two of the same game, only to set them up twenty feet from each other. I shouldn’t have to spend an extra 400 dollars on consoles and games in order to play with a guy who’s screen I can see.
It should never have to be such a hassle to sit down with my sibling or friend to play a game. My brother and I borrowed a Wii from my dad for like a month just so we could actually play Monster Hunter Tri together. Have you ever played Monster Hunter? It’s a blast on your own, but it’s amazing when you play with other people. God forbid you live with the person though, because then you’re likely to not have the required material to game together. I mean, god forbid anyone just programs split-screen into games anymore. We’re all playing on 57 inch televisions, I think we’ve got plenty of room to shop it up into a few more squares.
The scariest thing is that these great local multi-player games are becoming more and more rare. With every new generation we get fewer games that support 4 players or even 2 players on a local level. I mean co-cooperatively too, none of that slapped on arena BS that every game seems to want to tag on for some reason. In an age where video game companies and console manufacturers are always talking about how easy it is to connect and play with other people, they sure are making it difficult to connect with the friend who’s sitting on the same couch as me.