Co-op games1.jpg

"Mario Tennis Aces," an earlier Nintendo Switch game, is one of the most entertaining "Mario" sports games available. 

Nowadays, couch cooperative games — those that can be played with split screen, or on the same console with friends are a dying breed in the video game industry. Reports published as early as 2011 noticed the decline, and an article by ibuypower.com dives further into the analytical details. It’s sad to admit it, but most “co-op” experiences require a paid online membership, two copies of the game and two individual consoles for friends to play together. 

While nothing may be able to change the recent direction of the industry, there’s nothing stopping gamers from appreciating the few games that still support couch co-op with all this time at hand. In that spirit, grab a controller, call up a friend and enjoy these top 10 couch co-op games to play while stuck in quarantine.

“Broforce”

While the name may turn some away, “Broforce” is a fast-paced, retro-themed side-scroller that includes a cast of knock-off ’80s action heroes. The players take control of these heroes and blow up everything in their path while fighting off the devil and the occasional alien invasion. It takes inspiration from classics like “Metal Slug,” and while “Broforce” is a short play-through, every minute is chaos-filled fun. 

“Mario Tennis Aces” 

Plenty of people know about “Mario Kart” and “Mario Party,” but few talk about Nintendo’s newest version of “Mario Tennis.” It was released on the Switch back in 2018 and still holds itself as one of the best “Mario” sports games available to date. The player has 30 characters to choose from, and each has its own style of play comparable to “Mario Kart.” It supports four-player co-op and provides perhaps the purest form of fun on the list. 

“Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime”

“Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime” might have gone under most gamers’ radars back when it was released in 2015, but no other game combines four-player co-op quite like it. The players will find themselves controlling a spaceship as they figure out how to maneuver and blast their way through each level in this must play space-adventure. The ultimate decision is deciding which group members will steer and protect the ship while using the space vessel’s turrets to eliminate oncoming enemies. 

“Overcooked” Series

It would be an unforgivable sin to not include the reigning champ of this generation's best couch co-op experience. Whether one plays “Overcooked 2” or the original “Overcooked,” it’s guaranteed that at least someone will be screaming at the top of their lungs about the correct order of placements for tomatoes and lettuce on a cheeseburger. It’s a hectic job running a restaurant, and there's no better way to experience this with friends and family than with the “Overcooked” series.

“Moving Out”

“Moving Out” is a new physics-based co-op game made by developers SMG Studio and DEVM Games. It clearly takes inspiration from the “Overcooked” series, as players find a way to work together as they quickly move furniture for houses in need. It requires strategy, teamwork and a little bit of luck, but “Moving Out” finds a way to perfectly balance the tactics of moving furniture with hilarious physics and gameplay. 

“Enter the Gungeon”

Developer Dodge Roll released the co-op dungeon crawler “Enter the Gungeon” in 2016, and if the name doesn’t give it away, this game involves lots and lots of guns. The players pick between four characters as they attempt to make their way through all five floors of the roguelike Gungeon. Every playthrough unlocks more wildly eccentric guns such as the black hole gun or the directional pad gun which, yes, is shaped like a d-pad from a Playstation controller and more characters to fill the player’s crew. 

“Cup Head”

“Cup Head” is a side-scrolling masterpiece with a gorgeous art style that tips its hat to the old era of Rubber Hose Animation. It can be played in a Tesla, and that’s all that needs to be said to justify its spot on the list. More than that, it provides a brilliant two-player journey through the unusual lenses of a cup and a mug with a face. Players will have to fight through strange bosses and enemies — for example, a pair of frogs that turn into a coin machine — as they progress through the linear level designs of “Cup Head.”

“Far Cry New Dawn”

“New Dawn” continues the events that took place in “Far Cry 5,” but being aware of these events isn’t a necessity to enjoy this new version released by Ubisoft Montreal. Players will take control of a new protagonist as they explore the post-apocalyptic world in the state of Montana. Friends can enjoy co-op as they blow up new facilities and get attacked by the surrounding untamed wildlife in the most recent “Far Cry” release.

“Gang Beasts”

The game’s name doesn’t quite describe what “Gang Beasts” is actually about, but that somehow fits this absurd ragdoll fighting game. Players are pitted against each other in a free-for-all fighting mode that leaves only one player victorious. If one’s looking for non-stop laughter and ragdoll physics that just don’t make sense  in the best of ways, then “Gang Beasts” is the perfect pick to start a family feud. 

“Divinity Original Sin 2”

“Divinity Original Sin 2” is quite different from the other games on this list. It’s a role-playing turn-based strategy game that requires patience and skill. It doesn’t hold the player’s hand while they attempt to beat the story, and its qualities are similar to an older generation of games. The player will view their characters from a top-down perspective giving a strategic view in between turns on the battlefield. On top of that, players can recruit companions to their party or play with three friends online during the campaign. The couch co-op is limited to two players, but if one’s looking to kill a lot of hours while attempting to become a god, then “Divinity Original Sin 2” is the way to go. 

It’s going to be a long summer for most students as COVID-19 continues to alter the globe, but video games are here to keep us connected. So stay safe, keep social distancing and enjoy these cooperative games while stuck at home. 

Contact Daniel Carter at carte3dt@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.