Community Post: Co-Op Makes It All Better

Good thing this community post came along because I was running out of ideas.  Okay, so our first community post is about co-op.  I thought I knew what this was, but just to be sure, I checked it out on Wikipedia (I am not big into multiplayer and thus am not overly familiar with all the terms).  It appears my understanding was correct.  Yay.  Okay, co-op.  Cooperative play.  Unlike other forms of multiplayer, this does not involve trying to blow your friend’s brains out, but rather, working together.  As fun as incinerating your friends sounds, co-op has its own appeal.  Sometimes it can be quite fun to actually work together with other people to reach a common goal, instead of trying to prevent someone from achieving victory.  (It’s also not fun when you’re like me, and your friends repeatedly wipe the floor with you.)  Co-op can be quite fun indeed (and it’s the only way I can beat “Super Mario World”), and there is actually something I just realized not long ago about it.  Co-op, in some cases, actually has the ability to make bad games good.

Take a SNES game you have likely never heard of called “Joe and Mac”.  This game involves controlling this caveman or cavemen through a bunch of levels, killing dinosaurs and Neanderthals.  The game can be pretty darn annoying, and it doesn’t help that there are no save points.  Plus, some of the sound effects and creature designs were just plain creepy.  (And I could just never get over the fact that Joe and/or Mac regain health from the meat left over by the Neanderthals.  Isn’t that cannibalism?)  Despite disliking the game, I’ve kept it because it is a good challenge.  Nevertheless, I still really very much don’t like it at all.

But, this game also has the option of playing with another person, so one day, my mom (who also feels the game is creepy and very objectionable) and I decided to play through the game together.  While the game still was disturbing, it was actually pretty fun playing with another person, and we even had quite a laugh over its quirks.  There are also two 2-player modes, and we decided to try both to see what the differences were.  In one, you can’t use the other player to get to high ledges, but you also can’t hurt the other player.  In the other, you can help the other person up to unreachable ledges, but you can also injure the other person.  We found this out the hard way when one of us accidentally whacked the other (I forgot who started the violence).  Then, the victim retaliated and whacked the other one back.  Then, we went into a full-out war where we started to smack the crap out of each other (I mean, the characters, not us, that would be abusive) until we decided it was time to stop.  We opted for the 2-player mode where we can’t smack each other.  And like I said, we ended up having quite a bit of fun.  We even made it to the bizarre final boss, which I had only managed to reach once before.  It’s still a terrible game, but we enjoyed ourselves, nonetheless.

And there’s one other game I talked about in an earlier post.  “Hunter: The Reckoning”, a game where you fight zombies and other creepy things with guns, melee weapons, and some kind of powers similar to magic, but not.  I first came upon this game at a friend’s house.  He and another person had told me about it prior to visiting his house and had shown me the available characters to choose from in the manual, and I got quite excited.  I was going to totally be the Martyr, and I would be quite awesome.  I knew it.  Once I came over, we got to playing, and I tried out my chosen character.  We ended up having such a fun time working together through hordes of the undead and even got to laugh together at the horribly stupid evil giant teddy bear boss (Really?).

I actually came over many times to play that game over the coming weeks, and despite finally realizing I was playing my first ever M-rated game (I thought there was an unusually high amount of bloodshed in this one…), it didn’t matter.  I was hooked.  I ended up trying different characters out and dubbed the Judge as my official character forever, and we worked out different strategies for fighting the various monsters.  We’d have different people responsible for different things, like healing and such, and when we were faced with a particularly large bunch of zombies, the Judge would go forth and smite them with his Word of Power that I had saved for just that occasion.  Yes, I said smite!  Every time I visited, for whatever reason, we’d start from the beginning, but each time, we’d also work ourselves farther and farther into the game as we improved on our mad, zombie-killing skills.

And then, I had to move far away, and I never saw them again.  I bought “Hunter: the Reckoning”, along with its two sequels, and I played the games myself.  And it just wasn’t the same.  Not just because I missed playing with them, but because, playing alone, I realized the games are not really that good.  They really aren’t.  And it’s not as much fun facing hordes of zombies alone.  Having no one to depend on for getting your butt out of trouble or who can depend on you to do the same.  I played through the game’s not great story, with its not great characters, hacking at wave after wave of zombie alone, and even having to face that stupid giant bear, what the heck were they thinking, and it’s just not that fun anymore.  It’s not the same game even.  It was made for co-op.  I still kept it because I just can’t get rid of those memories (not that the memories will be gone if I sell the games, but you know how it is), but they aren’t the great games I remember.

So while I usually would rather play alone, some games need others around to make it fun.  Sometimes playing with other people, working alongside them, facing zombies and mutants and yes, even evil teddy bears, can be a blast.  And when you try to do those same exact things on your own, it’s just not the same experience.  So I suppose, “Hunter: The Reckoning” may not be a bad game, after all (“Joe and Mac”, however, still is).  It just needs to be played with others.  That’s where it shines.  I can’t blame a game for being boring if I’m playing it all wrong.  Sometimes the addition of other people working with you is the missing piece of the game.  Like trying to play a handheld with no batteries.  (Okay, I guess the new ones can be plugged into the wall.  Fine, it’s like playing a DS with no battery OR power cable.  There!)  You can’t say it’s broken if it doesn’t work without power, and you can’t say certain games meant for co-op are bad if played alone.  So if you ever find a game you don’t like, try it with co-op.  That may be what it’s missing.

A Co-Operative Duck

12 Comments Add yours

  1. benrosslake says:

    Ever play Jedi power battles? Its honestly one of the worst games I’ve ever played but it was fun when played with a friend laughing at the terrible animation and ruthless difficulty.

    One of the may games I wouldn’t go near with a barge pole or any other pole by myself but, like you say, take on a whole new dimension when played with someone else.

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    1. Hatm0nster says:

      This reminds me of Jedi Academy. The core games was…bland, but the online community made it fun. I didn’t play it for long, but the cooperative components of online play made the experience memorable.

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      1. duckofindeed says:

        I haven’t played either of those games, but yeah, any terrible game can be fun if you have someone around that can mock it with you. I remember “Sonic Adventure 2: Battle”, while being a great game, had terrible voice acting, and my friend and I played it together and had fun laughing at it. Though, “Bomberman Generation” had some bad stuff, and that was more just embaressing.

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  2. gimmgp says:

    It has been some time since I have seen anyone mention Joe and Mac. I have so many fond memories of playing through that odd prehistoric adventure with my brother, and I definitely agree with ya: the game was sub-par without a second player.

    Another game that I feel requires some co-op is Zombies Ate My Neighbors. While the game can stand on its own as an excellent title, it just isn’t the same without a partner by your side, fighting back against the hordes of comical undead.

    I guess that is the case with so many of the games from the 16-bit generation. There are piles of Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis games that practically require a second player to get the full experience. Secret of Mana, Gunstar Heroes, and pretty much all of the side-scrolling beat-em’-ups, just to name a few.

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    1. duckofindeed says:

      That is true. While the SNES had a lot of great games, I also ended up with a lot of terrible games, too. “Joe and Mac” needs another player. “Porky Pig’s Haunted Holiday” was so creepy, I need another person there to combat the fear. “Izzy’s Quest for the Olympic Rings” (not sure how I ended up with that one) can’t even be redeemed by the presence of another player, it’s that bad.

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  3. Sam Leung says:

    There are definitely some games that are just made for coop! The game that immediately springs to mind is the Left 4 Dead franchise. Sure, you can shoot zombies alone, but it’s just not the same. It’s actually pretty mediocre in a lot of ways, other than its AI (which wouldn’t be enough to make me play through the whole campaign by myself), but when you play with your friends it instantly becomes super fun. It’s the same with a lot of old games I used to play with my cousin on the N64. Playing them now gives me that blast of nostalgia, but also the realisation that it’s just not the same when we aren’t playing it together and honestly, those games weren’t that amazing!

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    1. duckofindeed says:

      I found that out with “Pokemon Stadium” on the N64. I played it with friends, and it was great. Then, I bought it and played it alone at home, and I just didn’t like it at all.

      And the need to have another player seems to be common with zombie games. I suppose fighting the undead simply must be done with friends at your side.

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  4. fminuzzi says:

    One of the biggest draws that the Tales series has for me is the co-op multiplayer. Even as the AI gets better over subsequent generations, there’s nothing quite like having each person working towards mastering a character (or two or three, depending on the person) and working out team tactics for dealing with each new challenge. Sure, the games are worth playing on your own, and I’ve done so when I didn’t have a choice, but I feel like I lose so much of what makes the game fun.
    Borderlands/2 and Dungeon Defenders wouldn’t have retained my attention if they were single player, but as a group thing, they were fun, even if they’re not my kinds of games. But then, my default mode is to play things with people when possible.

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    1. duckofindeed says:

      Yes, it is certainly better working with real people over AI’s. It’s certainly more fun, and you can work together a lot better. You can think up better strategies with other people around, which is not possible really with AI’s. And sometimes, AI’s still aren’t very good. Playing “Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One” alone, which really was meant for co-op, the AI is just a pain to work with. I really need to try that game with a real person. I’m sure it will be less frustrating.

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  5. simpleek says:

    That’s an interesting idea. I currently don’t own any “bad games” with co-op modes, but it’s something to consider if I ever do. I think those bad games made them more enjoyable when you played with someone else because it’s better when you can enjoy a game’s absurdity or awfulness together. It’s easy to laugh and joke about the game when you are sharing in that experience with someone else. You really can’t do that alone.

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    1. duckofindeed says:

      That’s certainly true, you must have another person there to enjoy the badness of a game. Otherwise, it’s just bad. Like that teddy bear in “Hunter”. It’s like bad movies. They are only fun if you have another person there making fun of it with you. Otherwise, it’s simply a bad movie.

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  6. duckofindeed says:

    That’s certainly true, you must have another person there to enjoy the badness of a game. Otherwise, it’s just bad. Like that teddy bear in “Hunter”. It’s like bad movies. They are only fun if you have another person there making fun of it with you. Otherwise, it’s simply a bad movie.

    Like

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