I’ve seen and heard some people lament the loss of couch co-op games. Saying that multiplayer games being all online has taken away from the ‘good ole days’ of playing games on your couch with your friends. Now while these gamers aren’t necessarily wrong, I do feel they missed the point a bit. The golden days of multiplayer aren’t gone, in my opinion we still ARE in the golden days and multiplayer has evolved like games have over the years.
As of this writing the world is in the middle of a pandemic that is forcing many people to stay home. Meaning that to stay safe we can’t go to our friends houses and play games on the couch anymore. The obvious way to get around that obstacle would be playing games online, which has been one of the many ways I’ve been able to get through this pandemic. Granted the games I’m playing online with my friends are all modern games, but still being able to play games with my friends at all has been the biggest silver lining in this pandemic. Even when there wasn’t a pandemic going on, I’ve still been playing certain games online and those have been some of the best experiences I’ve ever had.
Back in 2008 Mario Kart Wii took over my house and my best friend Adam finally scored a copy for himself sometime after I got one. Whenever he could come over we would play the game for hours on end, trying to beat each other as well as playing through multiple cups. Now we couldn’t go to each others houses all the time to play but I do remember coordinating at school that when we got our homework done (or when I was home after play/choir rehearsal) we would call each other up and play some Mario Kart Wii online. Even back then Nintendo wasn’t the best with online, they didn’t have a regular chat option (they still don’t which bugs me and thousands of gamers) so what Adam and I did was call each other on our phones, put each other on speaker, and “voice chat” that way. We would spend our school nights playing Mario Kart trying to best each other and against other people in the game. Things heated up even more when our mutual friend Mariann told us she had a copy of the game and wanted to play with us so the duo became a trio. We would have three-way calls or sometimes Adam would be over at my house and we would all play Mario Kart Wii together. Adam and I would be drifting with our Wii wheels while Mariann played with her Gamecube controller. Constantly trolling each other with our course selections and yelling whenever Rainbow Road was picked. Constant rounds of us playing the game with some light trash talk thrown in were some of the best days of gaming I’ve had in my life. Did the three of us ever get together and play in person? Of course we did, but when that wasn’t an option, such as when it was a school night, playing Mario Kart Wii online was the next best thing.
Now with this being a retro gaming publication and most games with online functions are almost all modern games, playing old school games with your friends while being in lockdown can be difficult. I would love for my friends to come over and play a few rounds of Street Fighter II on my SNES Mini but we can’t safely do that yet. Thankfully there are still ways I can play retro games or retro style games with my friends via online play. Scott Pilgrim VS. The World: The Game being a prime example. It may not truly be a retro game (the title originally came out in 2010 and was re-released this year) but it is retro inspired by classic beat em ups and I can play it with my friends via online co-op. Thankfully when some developers release their classic arcade games to the digital stores they add features like online multiplayer/co-op. Metal Slug 3 is just one of these examples where you can get the game digitally (for cheap too) and play online co-op with a friend. Granted this is the only Metal Slug game to offer online co-op for some reason but at least the option is there. I found out about this because my friend and co-host on my podcast Sparkz, wanted to play Metal Slug with us so he did some digging and found out that Metal Slug 3 had a online co-op function. I bought it and played it with Sparkz and it ran as smooth as butter. I was able to chat with him and we were able to play the game just like we would’ve if we were back in the arcades. You may have to jump through some hoops to play the classics with friends online, but with a little research and determination you can play these awesome retro or retro inspired games online no problem.
Do I miss playing games on my couch with my friends? Of course I do, but with playing games online I can still keep close with my friends and family that live thousands of miles away. Granted we all have horror stories of playing modern games online with the chat open, but now most games and consoles have a private party chat feature so you don’t have to deal with trolls anymore, and there is the glory that is the Mute button. Once this pandemic is over and I can have my friends over again I’ll surely be throwing some sort of retro game party and playing games couch co-op style. Playing on the couch will always be my preferred way to play multiplayer games, retro and modern, but I want to be able to safely see my friends again. So until that happens I’ll gladly put on my headset, text my friends and let them know I’m online ready to play.