Couch Co-Op Choices

The world is in various states of phasing back into normality. We’re still not the whole way there but at the very least a light at the end of the tunnel now exists to bring us back together again. Speaking of togetherness, if you’ve been lucky enough to isolate with fellow gamers or indeed just with someone you love sharing with, I’d like to recommend some select titles that bring back couch co-op madness in the best way possible.

These are titles that have really stood out as either excellent time wasters or awesome ways to bond with loved ones in ways that your Disney Plus or Netflix binges just can’t compete with, sometimes literally. Co-op games in general have seen somewhat of a second coming in the past few years too. Nintendo in particular had been keeping the couch on life support and with the proliferation of the Switch and Sony and Microsoft follow suit, we’ve now seen the tide turn (see below) and we’re thankfully in the midst of a drop in/drop out two player revolution. Rigmarole over and done with, let’s get right into it!

Yes this took ages and yes it was worth it, don't @me

Note: This numbered list is ironically not related to ranking, just how things worked out! All titles bar MUA 3 are also very reasonably priced if your on a budget and regularly on sale

1. Streets of Rage 4

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Available On: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Genre: Hack and Slash, Beat ‘Em Up

Developer(s): Dotemu, Guard Crush, Lizard Cube Games

Co-op Count: 1 - 4

If you had told me 3 years ago that not only would I be playing a new Streets of Rage in 2020 but that it was exactly what I was missing in my life I’d have probably laughed in your face. Well…not really but in any case, our first on this list hits hard. SoR 4 is an absolutely smashing blast from the past and a welcome one to boot. A game that was ironically co-developed by Lizard Cube and Guard Crush Games, it is a perfect compliment to a night on the couch. Sporting a slick comic book art style the only thing that’s really changed from what you might remember is the production values. The core game-play of beating thugs up and down the street is still all there and while the campaign can (and has been by this casual) be beaten in an evening, there’s plenty of high score targets, unlock-able characters, a boss rush mode and various difficulty modes to keep going back. Oh and the soundtrack is just perfect too.

2. Children of Morta

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Available On: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Genre: Adventure, RPG, Roguelike

Developer(s): Dead Mage, 11bit Studios

Co-op Count: 1 - 2

Children of Morta has been creeping up on me for a while and over the last spring sale on the Nintendo eshop, I bit the bullet and decided to pick this one up. It’s 16bit, Diabloesque isometric view drew me in but this game has more to offer than what my initial conception of it was. Its story about family and honor is rather endearing and well told. If you’re looking for something a bit meatier to take up your time you won’t go wrong here. I’ve barely scratched the surface of what this game has to offer, it’s initial Hack and Slash mechanics belay it’s deeper RPG roots with skill trees that matter and a host of different options with each family member when it comes to its combat. A difficulty that while sometimes overwhelming solo, is just plain old panicked fun with a friend is refreshing and the procedurally generated dungeons keep things interesting.

3. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order

#Superboys on tour

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Available On: Nope just switch so tough

Genre: Hack and Slash, Beat ‘Em Up, RPG

Developer(s): Team Ninja

Co-op Count: 1- 4

Man, this was the biggest surprise announcement ever back in 2018 during the Game Awards. The previous Ultimate Alliance games had been headed up by a different studio and completely different publisher and somehow this series gets a sequel. Right, smack dab in the middle of the “Make Mine Marvel” generation of billion dollar grossing movies too, the timing couldn’t be more perfect! Another entry in the ARPG category / Diablo 3 clone with a slick coat of Marvel paint for good measure. Plenty of fan service here with alt costumes and that sweet sweet comics lore, couple that with deceptively challenging game-play and you have a winner. Be warned, button mashing your way through this one won’t get you very far and there’s a bit of coordination involved to get through each level, plenty of grinding too. While any Marvel fan new or old can get in on the fun, it can be painfully difficult to make out who is who during a brawl in both docked and handheld modes. Which caused problems, especially in the late game. Of all the titles on the list, this one is truly for the fans so if Thanos never tickled your fancy then this game won’t do much to change your mind!

4. Huntdown

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Available On: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Genre: Arcade, Shooter

Developer(s): Easy Trigger, Coffee Stain Publishing

Co-op Count: 1 - 2

What can I say about this but just play it already! Huntdown is the closest you’ll get to a Contra successor with a hint of Metal Slug for good measure. The unashamed 80’s-soaked levels and bombastic b-movie plot just ads nothing but charm here. Every pixel is a loving wink or nudge to it’s inspirations from soup to nuts. Game-play is solid and each of the three playable characters are brimming with personality. Adding co-op to the mix just amplifies this tenfold and with memorable boss encounters there's a lot to love here. Bonus points awarded to the excellent soundtrack and also greatly improving my evenings taking out bounties!

That sweet gif was created and edited by me and uploaded here

All images taken from their respective press kits, here, here, here and here

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