Offline multiplayer has sort of taken a backseat to online gaming in recent memory. The rise of PSN and Xbox Live has pushed the couch co-op games to the wayside. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t played a big role in how we spent time with our friends. Here’s a look at some of the games that we enjoyed playing with our friends (and enemies) by our sides. Some of these can be played online, but we spent the majority of our time with them offline.
When the Wii U came out, it was my Junior year in college. I was living in a shitty home with 4-6 other dudes. It was a real tragic housing situation but I truly enjoyed living with those guys. I promise this is relevant. So one of the guys who often came over to the house was a guy named Brandon, who was also the first person to buy a Wii U. He was one of the few people who actually had an income and could buy that. The game came with NintendoLand as a release title. We spent many days and days sitting in our living room on my dingy old sofa playing Mario Race and the Luigi Ghost Adventure game. The game is very crisp, very stylistically awesome, and most importantly, very fun to play. I would suggest grabbing it for any parties you may have.
4. Army of Two
This game was built to be played on couch co-op. Believe me, I played through this game as a single player campaign and half of the fun of the game was gone. You go through as two soldiers-for-hire and gun your way through dictatorships, waves of enemy forces, and calling each other out for not taking the enemy agro. The use of agro to draw enemies away from your teammate by taking more fire yourself was such a fun and new way to go about playing through. It was the over-the-top shooter than I love so much and was a great way to spend the days with friends. Such a fun experience and is still on my game shelf to this day.
3. NCAA Football
I could put Madden in this spot but I decided to go with the game that I spent more time playing with my friends. NCAA was a game where we would always have ourselves go to a really poor school like Eastern Michigan or Buffalo and bring them up to glory with our genius coaching. Half the fun of this game was seeing how well you could scout gem players or gameplan around your conference or shatter the school record or jump ship to another school when things were looking dire. We always kept a notebook with all of the schools that we coached for so we could look back at it when we were in year 2045 or something and see how far we came.
2. Super Smash Bros.
I couldn’t really pick out one of these games to put in this section so I am going to go with the whole series. Super Smash Brothers is a game where many people have many good memories growing up. I mean, you could finally answer the age old question of Mario vs Sonic! The gameplay was always amazing for the series, the graphics were always very impressive (for the time, SSB), and the competitive aspect always drove me to try to get better. I think I still have the footage when Josh and I played each other. This game not only took up a large portion of my childhood, but I will still pick up and play Smash 4 every now again. That’s staying power. The reason I still have my Wii set up is purely for playing Project M every now and again.
And it finally makes it appearance. Borderlands is the game to play if you are looking for an excellent online or offline experience with friends. The way that I would usually play through it would be offline in my friend Josh’s basement. We spent so long playing through as Mordecai and Brick, sniping and punching our way through waves of psychos. Then we did it all again as Zer0 and Salvador. I would always go the tank character and he would always go the assassin character. It was just what we did. But it was a non-stop ride from start to finish. Constant fun throughout.
Rikki’s Top Five
5. Left 4 Dead 1 & 2
The five slot is a tough one. It really is. I thought about Streets of Rage 2, NBA Hangtime, and the first Halo, but I’m rolling with Left 4 Dead. It was in consideration for my top five online multiplayer games, but I played the games offline a lot, too. It was around 50/50, really. I wanted to give it a mention in one of the articles, and this is gonna be the one. I played a ton of each game with my friend Hutch. Again, some was online, but a pretty huge amount was with us playing while sitting next to each other. Each game had a lot of replayability, with random spawn points for enemies during each playthrough. Each time through was unique and you had to be on your toes. It was all about team work. And what’s their not to like about fighting off hordes of zombies with a friend
4. Mario Kart Series
Unlike a lot of people my age, I didn’t grow up with Mario Kart. I had Super Mario Kart for SNES, and it was hard as shit. The series didn’t become a big deal for me until I was in college. My friend Jake kept wanting to play Kart 64 and Double Dash and it just… kept going for us. We’d always play. Me, him, and Hutch. Then I started playing with more friends. It became the go-to game when people would come over. The thrill of coming back from 8th place to 1st on the last lap packed as much of an emotional punch as being mere feet from crossing the finish line and getting hit by a couple of red shells, watching helplessly as car after car drives past you. Kart can be frustrating. It can be exhilarating. But it’s always fun
3. Borderlands 2
Despite how this list looks, my favorite thing to play with a friend is a solid co-op shooter. My favorite type of game to play on my own is a solid role-playing game. Well, Borderlands mashed them together and was a pretty good game. It had awesome, creative weapons, addicting gameplay (gotta find that loot!), and had fairly entertaining characters. But the story just wasn’t there. Borderlands 2 fixed that in a big way. We got everything we loved in the first, but with a long, sprawling story full of colorful characters both old and new, plus an absolutely AMAZING villain in Handsome Jack. Missions felt like they had a real purpose instead of “go do this because the game tells you to.” It’s such an incredible improvement on the original that I’d say Borderlands 2 is one of the greatest direct sequels of all time. Hutch and I played through it multiple times, plus all of the DLC. Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep is seriously one of the funnest things I’ve played through with a friend
2. Super Smash Bros. Series
It was really tough to rank my top 2. They’re both close, and when I posted my 20 favorite games of all time on Instagram, Smash was actually higher. But a big part of that is I spent a ton of time playing Melee by myself. So because this is solely about the multiplayer aspect, I had to settle at number 2 for my favorite fighting game franchise. Super Smash Bros has been with me seemingly forever. I was in third grade when the first came out, and while my interest has died down considerably within the past two years or so, the series has always been there. Elementary school, junior high, high school, college, adulthood… It’s always been fun. Swinging home run bats, fighting for the smash ball, tossing a Pokeball out of desperation and having a Goldeen pop out, reflecting Bob-ombs back at your friend… Always a blast. There’s just something about beating the hell out of each other using characters from some of our favorite games that would never cross paths in their own franchises. What’s there to really say? Everyone’s played them and understand why they’re so fun. Also, Melee is still the best
1. Mario Party 3-7
The battles are grueling, three hour emotional roller coasters. One minute, you’re on top of the world, leading the pack, the next you’re at the bottom of the totem pole. Alliances can be destroyed just as easily as they’re made. When you’re playing Mario Party, you have to walk a fine line and know that things can change from one turn to the next. I played a little here and there as a kid, but the reason the series (at least from 3 to 7) is at the top is because of the decade long battle between me (Waluigi) and Jarrod (Mario). From late 2006 to the present day, the rivalry has raged on with no clear end in site. Punches have been thrown, bands broke up, and friendships have temporarily taken turns for the worst, but in the end, it’s all about the competition. The suffering throughout the match is what makes the victory taste so sweet. Blow outs happen occasionally, but when it’s close and a few turns away from ending… Hearts race and nerves tense up. If that’s not what playing video games with your friends is all about, I don’t know what is.