Ah, it’s good to have friends isn’t it?
Someone to watch a movie with…
Someone to go to a sporting event with…
Someone to help you cover up a grisly murder…
And (most importantly for the basis of this week’s article) someone to play videogames with!
Some of my most enjoyable moments playing games have been alongside my friends in cooperative efforts. Yes, taking your friends on in a game of Street Fighter is always fun, but sometimes it’s good to put your differences aside and rally in favour of a common cause.
Today, I’ll look at five games that have provided me and my friends with great offline cooperative thrills over the years. This is but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to co-op gaming. Hopefully, you’ll recognise a game you like and, if not, maybe you could give one of these games a try? So, in no particular order, let’s take a look at five great offline co-op multiplayer games.
Contra (Arcade/Nintendo Entertainment System)
At its heart, Contra is a delightfully simple game. You and a friend control two commandos who have stormed the secret base of nefarious organisation “Red Falcon”, and your mission is to blow every single member of the enemy forces to smithereens. Despite the simple premise, different weaponry and a fiendish level design make the game no straightforward walk in the park. Quick wits and even quicker reactions are needed to make it all the way to the end.
Over in the UK, we didn’t actually get Contra but instead a modified version called “Probotector”. However, my friend, Luc, and I were lucky enough to stumble across an arcade cabinet with the original version of Contra on it during our university days. We played the absolute fudge out of it. Sadly, we weren’t competent enough to make it all the way to the end, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a brilliant game to play with your pals. Being that he isn’t particularly into games, I’m not sure Luc even knew what we were playing; only that he had to shoot things. He seemed happy enough at the time though.
WWF WrestleFest (Arcade)
WWF WrestleFest is one of the most enjoyable games I have ever played in the arcade. The game has two modes to choose from. The first mode is Royal Rumble, which allows both you and a friend to pick one of the big meaty headstompers from the WWF roster and try to outlast the other WWF Superstars to become the sole king of the ring. This ultimately means you and your pal will have to battle with one another to see who can finally claim the crown.
However, the game also includes a tag team mode where you and a friend can team up to conquer the imposing Legion of Doom tandem of “Hawk” and “Animal” to become tag champions of the world. I enjoyed playing this mode with my father on the rare occasions he would take me to the arcade in my youth. However, we were sadly never capable of getting past the second match, owing to me being a kid and my dad being one of the worst video game players in Christendom.
Thankfully, my buddy, Adam, and I managed to finally claim those illusive championships many years later at “Arcade Club” in Bury. Seriously, if you’re a fan of classic arcade games, then you need to get yourself down to this place, it’s a genuine haven. With Adam choosing Jake Roberts and me choosing Earthquake, we stomped, punched and splashed our way to the end of the game. I’ve got to say that I felt a certain tinge of relief when that referee’s hand hit the mat for the third time, like an over two-decade itch had finally been scratched.
FIFA Soccer (Various)
I haven’t picked a particular version of FIFA for this because I’ve played so many iterations of this franchise that I genuinely think I’ve lost count at this stage. Instead, I’ll focus on two versions of the game that I’ve played the most. The first actually wasn’t a genuine FIFA release- but rather a version of the game released for the 2006 World Cup.
Once again, Adam and I teamed up to win the World Cup with multiple sides. To be honest, I wasn’t a massive fan of the FIFA series at this time, instead spending most of my time playing the superior Pro Evolution Soccer, but the co-op multiplayer was so fun that I kept coming back to this. I also played it a lot with my college buddy, Mario, meaning that many hours were sunk into a game I probably wouldn’t have played in single-player.
Another time I played a lot of FIFA co-op was with FIFA 14. My friend, Dan, and I would partake in full co-op career modes, taking control of various teams. Dan, a hardened Man United fan, was even kind enough to pitch in and help with one of my Everton career modes. Our greatest match together was probably the League Cup Final against Tottenham. I’ve never been particularly great at scoring from free kicks on FIFA, but Dan was an absolute whizz at them, and it came in use here. Despite going behind twice, we were able to come out 3-2 winners during a tense afternoon at Wembley. We still raise a glass to that occasion even now*
Even now I still like to indulge in some co-op FIFA, given the chance. It really is an enjoyable game to play when you have friends round. If you’ve never tried having four human players against the computer before, then I suggest you try it as it usually always results in absolute carnage. Good fun all round!
*Not really, but you’ll have to allow me some dramatic license
Goof Troop (Super Nintendo)
This might be seen by some as a strange choice being that this game is essentially just a Zelda knock-off using a Disney franchise that never really set the world on fire. Goof Troop was a serviceable Saturday morning entertainment that never truly wowed or could match up to other Disney shows of the period.
The game itself has a pretty silly premise but at least one that lends itself well to entertainment. Whilst out fishing, Goofy and Max’s pals are abducted by pirates, leaving the Goof Family as their only source of salvation. Thus follows 5 levels of pirate-fighting mayhem across a chaotic tropical island.
The gameplay is nothing especially unique. You defeat the pirates by throwing objects like barrels at them or by pushing them into the ocean with a grappling hook. There are some notable highlights on hand though. For example, one of the levels involves you traipsing through a haunted castle, which is both atmospheric and genuinely fiendish in regards to some of its puzzles. Suits of armour stand upright but suddenly spark to life at a moment’s notice to chase you around the room. A young me found that genuinely unnerving when I first experienced it.
The reason the game makes the list though is quite simply for the sheer fun I had playing it with my mate, Jim, back in our younger days. The game encourages team work and also patience, especially when dealing with some of the puzzles. One of the main puzzle types involves kicking concrete blocks into place to open doors. For an example of how frustrating, and in-turn hilarious, this can be, I suggest you check out the Game Grumps video where they play the game and watch as they go on to make a mess of it at nearly every turn.
The positive memories I have of the multiplayer really make this game stand out in my memory when it perhaps wouldn’t normally do so. Jim and I wailed away hours of our long summer holidays trying, and failing, to complete this game. It was just never as fun when I played it on my own.
Halo: Combat Evolved (Original Xbox)
I’ve always had a somewhat strange relationship with Halo. I don’t actively dislike it, and I think the way it creates atmosphere, such as when you’re doing battle with the freakish “Flood” for the first time, is genuinely top notch. I’ve just never been especially engaged by the game’s lore or its overall narrative. I like the idea of the Halo Rings and respect the franchise for its universe building, but it’s just not a universe I have any particular interest getting lost in.
That being said, I LOVED the co-op multiplayer from the early games, especially the first one. Halo: Combat Evolved would probably be up there as one of my favourite games to play with friends. Along with good buddies Adam and Jim, I’ve sunk many an hour into the co-op campaign mode and had a whale of a time doing so.
If you’re like me and have never really been grabbed by the story or lore of the Halo franchise, I’d still heartily recommend giving the co-op campaign mode a go with one of your friends. It might not get you into the series, but it will give you a chance to see it from a different perspective that you might really enjoy. I know I’ll probably never play Halo on my own, but I’d play the co-op campaign tomorrow, and I’d do it with a big smile on my face.
Thanks for reading