Video games are often cited for being responsible for a number of personality problems in children. Depending on the pundit, video games either cause aggressive behavior or hinder social skills. Whether there is any truth to these accusations, at least part of the reason that video games receive such bad press is because most video games either are single player games or are competitive multiplayer games. Cooperative multiplayer games are rare among video games. They do exist though and some have been quite spectacular. Presented are some of the best two player cooperative video games ever to be published.
Double Dragon (Arcade) – Sadly, due to hardware limitations, the NES version of this classic video game was only a single player game. But, the original arcade version was one of the best cooperative games ever made. Two players had a significantly increased chance of actually completing the game and it was even possible for one player to “rescue” another player who was in the grasp of a foe. In fact, due to the difficulty of the game, it was basically impossible to complete this game without a partner. The one drawback was that, despite the game being cooperative it was possible to actually injure the other player with attacks.
Contra (NES) – This was a game where two players were easily twice as effective as one player. The sheer number of enemies just about required a second player to be filling the screen with bullets. Two players sharing the workload could mow through enemies where one player would often be ripped to shreds. Also, in an interesting twist, if one player ran out of lives, the other player could take extra lives from the remaining players, which meant both players played until they collectively ran out of lives.
Xenophobe (Arcade) – This once popular arcade game was incredibly popular because, unlike most cooperative video games, the two characters did not have to share the same screen at the same time. If one player moved off the screen, the split screens would each follow one of the players. This allowed players to explore independently and prevented players from hindering each other. It was a brilliant design idea that would be recycled constantly in future cooperative games.
Halo: Combat Evolved (Xbox) – Speaking of games that recycled split screens, this first person shooter is one of those games. The cooperative play in this game really wasn’t anything that hadn’t been seen in Doom II or Goldeneye, but the simple popularity of the game made it exceptional. Halo redefined the first person shooter genre and the inclusion of cooperative play just made the campaign mode that much more enjoyable.
Boom Blox (Wii) – This may be one of the best cooperative video games ever published. There are literally hundreds of different levels, modes, and scenarios that can be played cooperatively and the game is simple enough for just about anyone to play. The cooperative aspects are often very slick, too. In some modes the only way to win is for the two players to quickly throw one after another while other require each player to use different strategies because they are each throwing different types of balls. The game is brilliant for single player and pure genius for cooperative multiplayer.