Must Have Couch Co-op Games

By Dave Hill

For some of us we remember the days of sitting on the floor under the flickering light of a CRT television, passing a controller back and forth between our friends as we powered through a new game. The best game of all was a game that we played together. Games like Life Force, Contra, and Battle Toads were some of my favorite games, I could play cooperatively with a friend or by myself. But in this connected digital age, it can be hard to actually have that experience. So much of our cooperative and competitive gaming is done online. But local co-op, or as I like to call it, “couch co-op” is still very alive if you know where to look. I won’t be talking about the plethora of FPS you can play on split screen with friends. Their cooperative modes are just a side feature and not a focus on the game. Instead I will be talking about games where cooperative play is a big part of what the game is. Here is my list of recommended modern* Couch Co-op games.

Castle Crashers

Platforms: Xbox 360, Xbox one, PS3, PS4, PC

If you haven’t played Castle Crashers on either Xbox 360, Playstation 3, where the game originally appeared, or on PC you’re missing out. This 4-player cooperative game mixes 2D graphic styles with fast-paced, side-scrolling action. Play as one of a colorful array of knights by yourself, or preferably with friends. Fight crazy monsters, gain pets, learn to cast spells, and upgrade that sword to a lightsaber or twig – whatever you feel expresses you the best. Castle Crashers is unapologetically goofy, with a solid game play experience. The game is full of hidden comical gems and is so entertaining you can play it over and over again and still get a chuckle out of it.

Lego Games

Platforms: Practically all of them

Legos are fun. If you don’t think they are, then you are probably still in that awkward teenager phase where it’s cool to hate on everything. For the rest of us, we can look back fondly at Legos and the crazy things we built from mismatched sets.

Lego games are great to revisit that nostalgia. Lego has some fantastic licensed games like Harry Potter, Marvel Comics, DC Comics and Star Wars. What makes these games so great is that they parody whatever franchise they are based off while also laying down the camp on being a Lego game. These games can often be played with a friend as you work together to solve puzzles, fight bad guys, and generally share a few laughs.

Trine Series

Platforms: Xbox One, PS3, PS4, PC, Wii-U

Maybe you have more than one friend, but have less than 4 friends. Then Trine games fit perfectly here as they are ideal for 2-3 players. Trine is a side-scroll physics puzzler meets platformer. Play as a wizard, thief or knight on a mission to… well the story is not important. What is important is how much you and your friends will be screaming at each other as you try to solve puzzles, jump over trick platforms and battle the occasional monsters.

The game is loaded with psychedelic visuals and vibrant colors, that pop on an UHDTV, and the game plays incredibly smooth. If you enjoy more of a challenge in your cooperative games, Trine may be the answer you are looking for.

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime

Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC

LDS is one of those games that truly challenged mine and my friends’ ability to work together. Cartoony and neon-colored, this game sets you and your friends as the crew of a spaceship. Rescue space bunnies and other critters and save the universe from Anti-Love.

This game is for up to four players, but the ship has six different control stations. Someone has to drive, someone has to use the shield and someone(s) has to be utilizing the various weapons to defeat the forces of Anti-Love and regain the heart pieces to bring love back to the universe.

The levels are fun and challenging and require dexterity and yelling at your friends to look out. We have a lot of fun with this one and it’s also a game we’re currently out to play during a game night.

Rocket League

Platforms:  Xbox One, PS4, PC

Do you like playing cooperatively with friends, but still want something competitive in your game? Rocket League might be your answer. Racing cars can be really nice. Throw in a giant soccer ball and things just get more fun. Play with three other friends against a set of bots, or go online and play against another team of players.

Win or lose you are almost guaranteed to have a good time as you race after the ball, climb walls, customize your rigs, and get bounced back across the field whenever a goal is made. The game has a pumping soundtrack that will keep you in high octane mode while you play.

Psyonix has put tons of work into this game and the DLCs, so there are plenty of arenas, car models and game modes to play. This game is a is one of the best couch co-op games to come out in a long time. If you buy anything on this list. This is the game to get.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are dozens of local co-op games coming out every year. Often these are created by indie developers – which are important to helping keep the gaming market diverse in terms of types of games, stories, and philosophies. So instead of watching a show you don’t really like, grab a co-op game and play with friends or a significant other!

Until next time,

  • The GamingU Team

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