Just because I won’t be playing these games on Valentine’s Day, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t

Today is Valentine’s Day. No matter if it’s much-loved or much-maligned in your book, it remains somewhat inescapable, at least as far as the general public is concerned. While some readers might have plans with their significant others that involve, you know, going outside, I’m willing to bet that a handful of couples have co-cop video games in mind as the perfect way to spend an evening together. That’s how it was for me and my husband and we started dating…and oh! How foolish we were. 

As I’ve stated here before, outside of fighting games and racing games, I have a terrible record with co-op, couch or online. I am far too competitive and anxious in co-op gaming situations. My competitiveness leads to grumpiness, and my anxiety leads to ineptitude. All in all, it’s a bad scene.  But, because my other half and I do enjoy games, we have made the occasional valiant effort to play something that requires teamwork and coordination. Most of these attempts have ended in dismal failures, with lots of cursing, controller-flinging, and days-long scowls. But, this does not mean that said games were categorically bad.  Quite the opposite is true, as I’ve since learned that most of them were, and are, well-received by players. With that, here’s a short list of co-op games that aren’t right for me and my spouse, but maybe they’re just right for you and your partner on this day of hearts and whatnot.


Mario Party

MarioParty2TitleScreen
Image captured by Hatm0nster.

Okay, before the super fans put on their angry faces, hear me out. I don’t dislike the Mario Party games in principle. I have had pretty decent times playing them with large groups of good folks. But, I don’t know that I recommend them for just two people. The games rely on generating a sense of excitement from a crowd, and then utilizing those feelings to sustain interest and make players want to challenge each other. It’s not that Mario Party’s mini-games are dull, but once we ran through them all, there wasn’t much to be gain by proving our mad balloon-popping skills over and over. That said, maybe we’re just too lame to enjoy Mario Party‘s brightness and lightness and overall cheerfulness. You probably aren’t, so Mario Party all night long with the one you love!


The Adventures of Cookie and Cream

The Adventures of Cookie and Cream box art @ FromSoftware, Agetec, Sony

The interminably cute PS2 romp, The Adventures of Cookie and Cream, was a true watershed moment in my household. It is the game that made us realize that we would likely never be a true co-op gaming couple. I will go to my grave with the memory of that single moment where things completely broke down between us while playing. My goodness, the yelling! The yelling! While we had to excise the game from our lives for the sanity’s sake, it remains a much-beloved co-op game. It featured a unique (for the time) split-screen setup, whereby each player, one as Cookie and one as Cream, had to move through obstacle courses and activate gates, levers, etc. to allow each other to progress. It was an innovative game; one still worth playing today (as long as you’re not me).


Super Monkey Ball

Image by Flickr user Justin Charles (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

We ended up getting Super Monkey Ball for the Nintendo GameCube for a couple reasons. One, there weren’t many games available for system at the time; and two, we figured we had matured enough since our Cookie and Cream incident to handle a different, and even more cute, co-op game. We were incorrect. Now, we didn’t yell at each other as much while we were trying to race our adorable sphere-encased monkeys through various mazes, but we also didn’t manage very well with the gameplay. Rolling around permanently jolly monkeys trapped in transparent balls sounding like fun in theory, but in practice, it was more stressful than anything. But despite our shortcomings with it, the game spawned a monster franchise. So hey, if rolling monkeys around sounds like a good time to you and your partner, you have a plethora of games from which to choose. Go for it!


Little Big Planet

Image by Flickr user Mike Babcock (CC BY 2.0)

I first played Little Big Planet alone, and I had a really good time with it. Never finished the game, but still, it was an enjoyable, cuddly, and addictive platformer. But, we got the game specifically to try together, because at the time were still of the mindset that we should at least try to be a good gaming couple. So, we played the game together, and it honestly wasn’t bad. In fact, it went well enough that we ended up playing a few online sessions to try to get some of the secrets that required more than two players.  But as it happened, a few times my anxiety got the best of me, and there were moments were I simply couldn’t progress, which made my teammates a little huffy. Subsequently, this made me cranky, and eventually, the desire to play LBP faded. But no matter what I say, it is still one of the best PS3 platform games that money can buy (as are its sequels), and it plays divinely well in co-op.


What are some of your favorite co-op games for couples? Are there any that aren’t right for your SO but that you would still recommend to others?

Lede image captured by author from Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End™ © Naughty Dog, Sony Computer Entertainment (2016)

9 Comments

  1. Nice co-cop video games you got there! For me, Portal 2 and Borderlands never lose their charm for couples on love month. If you’re looking for a unique co-op platformer/beat em up, there’s always Guacamelee : Super Turbo Championship Edition. Why no show some love also by scaring your partner with Left4Dead 1&2. It would have been great also if BoxBoy X BoxGirl would come out this February instead of April.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      You’ve offered up a great set of games! See, there’s plenty of fun to be had in co-op, given that you’ve got the right person to play with. 😁

      Like

  2. Good picks! I know we’ve had the discussion about Cookies and Cream many times… yeah I’m willing to admit that game is both well-made and diabolical. The cuteness is all a lie. It really shows with the boss battles, they are so absurdly difficult and because you are always doing something different to your teammate it’s all too easy to start blaming the other person when things get rough!

    Good co-op games: Gain Ground. I love me some Gain Ground. Zelda: Four Swords Adventures is great too, but like Cookies and Cream should come with a warning – it has caused arguments! Finally a recent excellent one: Overcooked. I’ve done two player co-op with a few different people (including my brother, who I usually hate co-op play with!) and it’s great. Best part is that there’s no competitive aspect to it whatsoever, so no hurt feelings. The game is tough but fair, and with some practice the teamwork feels absolutely amazing. Dare I say it, but even you and your husband might get along with it Cary 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      I have heard that Overcooked is a good couples game! It sounds like lots of fun, so maybe it’ll go onto our “someday, when we have time” list. 🙂 We actually get along well while cooking together and have never thought about playing a cooking game, funny that.

      Must admit that I’ve not heard of Gain Ground, or, if I have, it’s not ringing any bells. Will have to look it up. And I honestly didn’t know there was a co-cop Zelda game…though, is Four Swords on the DS? Maybe I do know it, hmm…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Quite understandable as besides Overcooked my picks are quite obscure! Gain Ground was originally an arcade game from Sega in the late 80s, it came to Megadrive/Genesis which is the version I played. The original arcade version is getting re-released on Switch at some point this month and I am hyped, let me tell you.

        As for Four Swords Adventures, this is a rather confusing Zelda spinoff. If I remember right, originally there was Four Swords which was a multiplayer mode within the GBA remake of A Link to the Past? Four Swords was rereleased later on its own for free as a DSi title, which may be what you’re thinking of. I’ve never played Four Swords so I’m only familiar with the Gamecube sequel, Four Swords Adventures! Not confusing at all, nope, not one bit.

        Anyway Four Swords Adventures a criminally underrated gem. It takes the most charming, fun ideas from Link’s Awakening and A Link to the Past and put them into a unique multiplayer experience.

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  3. cary says:

    Reblogged this on Recollections of Play and commented:

    Gaming with others. It’s a thing, and a thing with which I continue to struggle. But for this recent Virtual Bastion article, I set aside my own social foibles and listed off a few games that are good for playing with others. Just as long as you’re not me, and the other person is not me, also.

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  4. Rolling solo over here, unfortunately, haha. Cool co-op games though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Thanks! As enjoyable as it can be to play games with another human being, occasionally, playing in peaceful solitude is really where it’s at. And no one gets harmed in the process! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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