Seriously, if he kills me one more time, we are going to break up.
January 24, 2010 8:29 PM   Subscribe

Yet Another Video Game Question: What are good video games for couples?

Recently, mr. kerning and I got an Xbox 360 for Christmas, and somebody was nice enough to give us Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe along with it. We were very excited to play, and play we did until, after a particularly brutal round involving Katana and Batman, we realized that we are both just too competitive to play against each other. (Except we're okay playing each other at Mario Kart)

So I'm looking for games that we can play together, not against each other. We've been playing the co-op part of Left4Dead and we enjoy that, but first-person shooters aren't exactly my favorite type of game. We like Rock Band, but would never buy it because our apartment is tiny and it's just the two of us. Games like Super Mario Galaxy (which is one of my favorites) aren't great because the second player isn't really participating. He likes Zelda-type games, but i hate them. We both enjoy puzzle games like the Professor Layton series.

We have an Xbox and a Wii. We have most of the Mario games out, including the latest one, and all of the Lego games (except for the Rock Band one). We have the Katamari game for the Xbox (my favorite!), Arkham Asylum, MKvsDCU and Left4Dead.

Bonus points for Xbox Arcade suggestions!
posted by kerning to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (45 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
Lego star wars. It's all co-operative play, doesn't matter if you get killed, either player can drop in or out at any time, it's cute, not a huge time investment for each 'mission', and you can kill Jar Jar Binks when he appears. I'm not a giant Star Wars fan but I love playing this with my boyfriend. Ours is for the standard Xbox so I assume there's a 360 compatible version.
posted by shelleycat at 8:35 PM on January 24, 2010

Best answer: Castle Crashers! It's available through Xbox Arcade and you can play co-op. It's a simple button masher sidescroller, but it's loads of fun. My gf and I play it together a lot and she enjoys it (and she hates video games).
posted by Arbac at 8:37 PM on January 24, 2010

My husband and I actually played through all of Rock Band together and had a great time doing it, FWIW. It isn't cheap, and the experience is definitely different than playing with a big party of people, but it's still fun as a two-player cooperative game.
posted by crinklebat at 8:53 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'll second Castle Crashers. The game is just beautiful to look at. Bright HD cel shaded goodness. And a ton of co-op fun. Geometry Wars 2 might also be a good XBLA two player fun. More of an arcade type, 20 minute game though.
posted by lakerk at 9:03 PM on January 24, 2010

My brother and I got a lot of play out of Small Arms.

You can play against each other, but I think you can also play cooperatively against enemies or against other players online.

(Random advice. We found the rat character to be too powerful compared to the other characters. You might want to consider outlawing his use.)
posted by kylej at 9:04 PM on January 24, 2010

Like what shellycat, said, any of the Lego games: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, or Batman offer solid co-op play.
posted by demiurge at 9:05 PM on January 24, 2010

Lego has more than Star Wars (both trillogies)--there are 2 Indiana Jones titles, a Batman, and a Harry Potter coming out soon. My wife and I love playing these--they're low-intensity, cooperative, and enjoyable.
posted by stevis23 at 9:07 PM on January 24, 2010

My wife and I just got a 360 and have been having a blast playing Lego Batman together. Can't wait to check out the other Lego titles.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:17 PM on January 24, 2010

And now for something completely different.

In Japan, the classic Dreamcast/PS2 game Rez was sold with an accessory called the "trance vibrator." This was not meant as a joke; the guy who designed Rez is one of the most unique thinkers in the medium, and this was one more way for him to extend the conceit of synesthesia that runs through his games. You can read about one woman's experience using the vibrator while her boyfriend played the game here. Money quote:

"It was a bit odd," said Justin, "my fingers were working the controls, but they were also kind of working you."

The Xbox Live Arcade version of the game, Rez HD, lets you use spare controllers to duplicate the original accessory's function. And even if you're not into this whole concept, the game itself is beautiful.
posted by eggplantplacebo at 9:19 PM on January 24, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Gears of War 1 and 2 or Resident Evil 5. They're shooters, but third-person over-the-shoulder with hilarious/ludicrous stories. My boyfriend and I have been playing those on our 360 and they're super fun. Any of the Burnout games, if you're into racing/causing multiple car pile-ups.

Left 4 Dead 2 adds a variety of new co-op modes and Cutty from the Wire.

Sacred 2 is an action RPG that's sort of like Gauntlet: you should wander around collecting gold and weapons and cutting shit up. Crackdown is also a good wander around and smash shit up type of game. Lousy single-player but awesome co-op.

Obviously nthing any of the Lego games.
posted by Tha Race Card at 9:24 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Try Eternal Sonata! It's a traditional Japanese RPG, wherein both players can control any number of game characters. Also, Chopin! or
The game is centered on the Polish romantic pianist and composer Frédéric Chopin, who died of tuberculosis at the age of 39. The story envisions a fictional world dreamed by Chopin during his last hours that is influenced by Chopin's life and music, and in which he himself is a playable character, among others. The game features a selection of Chopin's compositions played by pianist Stanislav Bunin, though most of the in-game music was composed by Motoi Sakuraba.
posted by Lizc at 9:26 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

I do NOT recommend the New Super Mario Bros. Wii game. It's a tonne of fun, but it can get pretty nasty when you start accidentally bumping each other off of ledges and/or stealing power-ups.
posted by synecdoche at 9:28 PM on January 24, 2010

Best answer: Guuyyysss, she said in the question that they have all the Lego games already.

I really liked playing Marvel Ultimate Alliance with my partner. He did not like it as much, I guess, because he sold it back to Game Stop without telling me! We also have played all the way through Rock Band, RB2, and Beatles RB together (as crinklebat said, it is still really fun to play as a two-player game, plus if you just use the guitars and mics, it doesn't take up much space really).

And it's not actually technically a coop 2-player game, but Peggle is one of my favorites to play with another player; it's cartoony and fun and insanely cute, and doesn't actually encourage any fight-to-the-death sort of spirit because you don't kill each other.

If you are into trivia at all, 1 vs 100 on Xbox Live is SO FUN. There is a certain added benefit to having another person with you who might know the questions you don't know.
posted by so_gracefully at 9:31 PM on January 24, 2010

There's a lot of Wii games that actually work surprisingly well. One of the better ones, IMO (and my wife's opinion as well; she asked me to post this actually,) is Boom Blox Bash Party.

It's got a number of different play modes, but the most fun are the jenga-ish ones. I don't know how popular this was when it came out, but we were both pretty surprised at how good of a team game it is. That, and since there's a lot of coop modes means you're not going to be at each others' throats all the time; just sometimes, enough to make it fun.
posted by agress at 9:42 PM on January 24, 2010

It's alternating two-player, not simultaneous, but my gf and I love the Williams Pinball Hall of Fame games (Wii and Xbox, but Xbox is better for HD and more tables).

Seconding the Boom Blox series.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 9:53 PM on January 24, 2010

1 vs. 100 is actually a lot more fun than it seems like it would be. The game-show experience is done really well.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:10 PM on January 24, 2010

Sorry Lizc, but I have to contradict you.

Do NOT buy Eternal Sonata. Kerning, the gaming relationship you describe with Mr Kerning is just like the one I have with Mr Punk. Which makes me feel that I can boldly tell you you will not like that game.

The game is 70% long cut scenes (you have to get through 20 minutes of cut scene before you even start to play), and the 2 player mode is only in effect during battles, which are actually few and far between the enormous cut scenes. And the final kicker is that even used, that game is expensive. The 2 player mode is like it is in Super Mario Galaxy - something to keep your little brother from pestering you about wanting to play too without giving him enough power to screw up your game. I played for a bit, put it away, played a bit more, and eventually got rid of it.

And just for all the people hatin' on Super Mario Brother's Wii, I just want to say that the 2 player mode is AWESOME. As a husband/wife team, it's been a challenge and fun. You need to change your strategy from traditional Mario side-scrollers, but once you figure out a good team strategy, it's great.
posted by billy_the_punk at 10:57 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

There are a bunch of good cooperative two-player games for download on the Wii for pretty cheap, especially puzzle games. Tetris Party on WiiWare has a two-player cooperative mode where the field is wider and each player has a block at the same time. The Wii has two versions of Bubble Bobble, which has always kind of had a reputation as a couples-friendly game (y'know, for couples who have an interest in cartoon dinosaurs that spit bubbles at robots) -- the Virtual Console/NES version is $5 and lets you save your place between games and maxes out at two players, while the WiiWare version is $6, and it's more or less the same game, but with 3-D graphics and it includes a second set of 100 levels that can be played by up to 4 players (but unfortunately, for whatever reason, the WiiWare version doesn't have a save or password feature).

My roommates and I used to play Dr. Mario Online Rx on WiiWare a lot -- there's a mode where up to four players can drop in or out of the game at will and cooperatively click-and-drag the pieces to play. If you guys like puzzle games and want cooperative two-player, it's probably one of the best purchases you could make on the Wii. You might like a WiiWare puzzle game called "You, Me, and the Cubes" too -- it's cooperative 2-player, and it's supposed to be pretty good.

(I'd also mention that Secret of Mana on Virtual Console is a lot of fun for multiple players once the second character joins, but it's very similar to Zelda, so scratch that.)

Oh! And Toejam & Earl.
posted by stleric at 11:11 PM on January 24, 2010

Geometry Wars 2 has some epic multiplayer going on.
posted by effugas at 11:23 PM on January 24, 2010

Guuyyysss, she said in the question that they have all the Lego games already.

Man, I read the question twice to make sure it wasn't in there. I don't know how I missed that, sorry!
posted by shelleycat at 11:44 PM on January 24, 2010

May I recommend The Simpson's Game? Also, I'll second Castle Crashers. It's great fun.
posted by shesbookish at 11:48 PM on January 24, 2010

I like Eternal Sonata, but that's one ya'll should probably rent before buying. If you end up liking the Co-Op JRPG concept, try the Tales Of series. I'm a huge fan of Tales of the Abyss (PS2) and Tales of Symphonia (Gamecube); they're pretty much my favorite games ever. They're mostly good if a) you enjoy games that are only co-op during battle and b) you are a huge fan of classically cliche anime-style store lines OR you enjoy making fun of those kinds of stories.

Also, with Rock Band-- the drum set disassembles pretty easily for storage/transport, if space is the issue with RB. It does take up a lot more space than a disc though :)
posted by NoraReed at 11:57 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

I played a cooperative game a few months ago that I think was on Xbox Arcade (I'm not clear on the various distinctions involved -- definitely something you download onto the Xbox) and I thought it was really compelling. It's a 2-d side-scrolling game, and while it sort of has the attitude of an action game, it's really entirely about puzzling through how to get from one place to another. You use the directional pad to move your character left and right, and one of the buttons makes your character explode into the air a short distance. The key is that if your partner is near you when you do that, they get propelled by the explosion as well. Since you can only use the explode button once before touching the ground again, the whole thing is about cooperatively timing your actions so you can reach things of interest. From what I could tell it seems really well designed, one of those games that takes a simple concept and keeps finding new ways to make you think through how to use it. I'm pretty sure the game is called something like 'Splosion Man, which is a little unfortunate. And I'm pretty sure it costs less than ten dollars.
posted by nobody at 12:39 AM on January 25, 2010

My absolute favourite co-op game to play with the other anachronism is Hunter: The Reckoning. Since you're in the US you'll be able to play the XBox version on your 360 (I have to settle for the PS2 version since we don't have an XBox any more).
posted by geek anachronism at 1:08 AM on January 25, 2010

My husband and I play Rock Band and Guitar Hero in our tiny apartment, and we didn't buy the drum kit; we just have a guitar and a microphone. It's great fun playing together. We also like Boom Blox. There are lots of coop modes on it, and you can also throw stuff at the little dudes who stand around onscreen. They make a satisfyingly cute noise as they fall down and explode.

The only other games we play together are the Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort games, but those are all competitive. However, if you can manage not to kill one another over a bowling game, they're fun and fairly easy.
posted by bedhead at 5:09 AM on January 25, 2010

Borderlands is one of the most fun co-op experiences I've had in a long time. If you liked playing L4D together, you should enjoy this one as well.
posted by KilgoreTrout at 6:29 AM on January 25, 2010

I like Obscure : Aftermath for the Wii. It's like Resident Evil but you have two simultaneous players. My girlfriend and spent a lot of time playing that and it was fun, but we needed a walkthrough because it's easy to miss life saving power ups. It's basically a bad horror movie ... game.

We also played through New Super Mario and that was tonnes of fun. We're both competitive and there was a little shouting, but ultimately it's good team work and we had a good time.

Also, Wii Sports Resort is a good one. It's tricky because I might always be the best at sword fighting, and she might always be the best at archery, but it evens out. Personally I think it's good to try and work through the competitive feelings. We never played team sports and there were few multiplayer games when we were kids.
posted by Napierzaza at 6:29 AM on January 25, 2010

Seconding the X-Men Legends and Marvel Ultimate Alliance games, which are big fun and truly co-operative combat games with lite RPG elements (customizable and upgradable characters). Splinter Cell Chaos Theory was considered one the best co-op games on the original Xbox, and you can get it cheap and easy as a download on Xbox Live's Games on Demand, but not everybody's into stealth games. I also like behead's recommendation to buy just the Rock Band disc, then get a guitar controller and microphone (or even two guitars).
posted by jjg at 6:34 AM on January 25, 2010

All of the board game adaptations from XBLA are worth a look: Catan, Carcassone, Lost Cities and Ticket To Ride.
posted by jbickers at 6:55 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding bedhead on the Band/Hero games. We got Guitar Hero 2 and Guitar Hero 3, and each came with one guitar. Combined with the Xbox headset attached to a regular controller, we have everything but the drums. And neither of us cares for the drums anyway. The GH guitars are compatible with the Rock Band games; we just got RB1 and RB2 for less than 20 bucks each.

We'll frequently play first-person or third-person games "together", which for us means that one person steers and shoots, while the other acts as a spotter for enemies and collectibles, and helps with puzzles. We then trade off in every new area. Half-Life, Bioshock, and Crackdown are the most recent games we've played that way.
posted by themissy at 7:00 AM on January 25, 2010

Building on what themissy says above, my husband and I sometimes play adventure games together in similar ways - one person is controlling the action but the other is paying attention and making suggestions ("What if you used the milk bottle on the trash can?"). If you think you might like this there are two series of Sam and Max and four Wallace and Gromit adventures available on XBLA.
posted by oblique red at 7:36 AM on January 25, 2010

All of the board game adaptations from XBLA are worth a look: Catan, Carcassone, Lost Cities and Ticket To Ride.

I'm not sure about all of these, but at least in Catan you can't play local multiplayer, so that would be no good for you two, unless you have two 360s.
posted by utsutsu at 7:36 AM on January 25, 2010

Me and my wife play Rock Band. That is the only video game she will play. She sings, I play the guitar, and we have been doing this for years. You don't need the full setup, just a mic and a guitar (or two guitars if none of you want to sing), and you are set.
posted by markblasco at 8:09 AM on January 25, 2010

Dragon Age: Origins. Mr. Kestrel and I played it the whole way through.... and, ok, then he played through again on his own.

Yes, it's basically D & D. But it's very well-written, and an extremely engaging story -- way, waaaaay more interesting than Arkham Asylum. (Because it took so long to write, though, the graphics aren't as good as AA). What you say in conversations affects the game a lot. AND you get to romance your companions (straight or gay! and three- and four-somes!!!!) I bet it's the only such game where you not only save before entering a big battle, so you can redo if necessary, but you also save right before talking to whichever companion you're trying to get it on with.... in case you piss him or her off by accident. You collect booty AND booty, if you know what I'm sayin'.

It's officially only one player, but we passed the controller back and forth. Mr. Kestrel did all the fighting; I ran around and collected treasure. Together we solved puzzles and strategized personal relations. It was a lot of fun.
posted by kestrel251 at 8:44 AM on January 25, 2010

Chiming in to second Borderlands. My girlfriend and I are on our second playthrough already.
posted by GriffX at 8:45 AM on January 25, 2010

Can you play old XBox games on the 360? If so, Gauntlet Dark Legacy. Not an FPS, play is cooperative, and it's not too hard (I'm not that good). It's one of the few my husband and I can play without killing each other. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:49 AM on January 25, 2010

You might want to try Schizoid on XBox Live Arcade. Imagine Robotron: 2084, except with co-operative play. In fact, the game was designed from the ground up as a co-operative game.
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 8:57 AM on January 25, 2010

For the Wii:

People have already mentioned X-Men Legends and the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games. My wife and I played all the way through XML2 and are about three quarters of the way through MUA, with MUA2 sitting waiting to go. I confess that I've started to lose a little steam with the gameplay, but my wife is still into it.

And I agree with billy_the_punk about New Super Mario Bros. It's a really great two-person co-op game. Sure, you'll occasionally cause each others demise by accident, but that's just amusing. Despite the treatment on Penny Arcade and elsewhere, stealing powerups and such isn't really a problem. It does get a little hilarious/infuriating if you try to play with four players though.

Another one that might have slipped under the radar is Super Smash Brothers Brawl. Sure, it's a fighting game, but it's got a side-scrolling beat-em-up story mode that supports full two-player simultaneous co-op. The cut-scenes are adorable and hilarious and there's eight or ten hours of gameplay in there.

And then there's Ghostbusters. It's a super fun game. The only downside is that there's a lot going on on the screen and you play splitscreen, so it can be a bit squinty if you've got a small TV.

Also, Rabbids Go Home is really hilarious. It's only sort of two-player. One player controls the character, and the second player can use a wii-mote to collect powerups on screen and to shoot rabbits at enemies. My wife and I trade out who's driving and who's riding shotgun and it ends up being a really fun experience.

We also just got Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games. This game isn't perfect by a long shot. Some of the minigames are fiddly or just not-fun. But some of them are really well done and you can play the festival mode co-op with up to four players.

And on WiiWare, try bit.trip beat for a great casual two player psychedelic experience.
posted by 256 at 9:05 AM on January 25, 2010

1. Download Ikaruga from XBLive
2. Kiss several weekends goodbye
posted by chalbe at 11:33 AM on January 25, 2010

Target Toss Pro: Bags for the Wii. My whole family is addicted to it now, and even my video game hating wife will occasionally get into it.
posted by look busy at 1:01 PM on January 25, 2010

If you're willing to consider something from the Xbox bargain bin, Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is a lot of fun in co-op mode. May be a bit simplistic compared to newer shooters, but my boyfriend an I have a blast playing it.

posted by General Tonic at 3:25 PM on January 25, 2010

N+ is an extremely fun XBox 360 arcade game that can be played cooperatively. It's a platformer, and if you're playing cooperatively you can develop fun strategies to make it through the levels together.
posted by audacity at 4:35 PM on January 26, 2010

Also for the Xbox Arcade, but not as awesome as N+, there's Tower Bloxx, where you try to build reeeeaaally tall towers. The game has a story mode and competitive play, but my s.o. and I really like the cooperative game where you work together to build and straighten a tower that can reach past other planets. It can be kind of mind-numbing, though (I swear a couple times playing it I did not blink for 10 minutes).
posted by audacity at 4:46 PM on January 26, 2010

We are into this, too:
My wife and I play lots of Tetris Party and Dr. Mario for the Wii (WiiWare or whatever it's called) and we have a great time together; both have coop-and battle modes and are great. Also: Mariokart (all versions; dl the N64 version for great times) and RockBand: specially the Beatles version which seems to be easier than regular RockBand (and much friendlier than the no-good-for-playing-on-easy-and-still-have-a-good-time stupid Guitar Hero series; except Band Hero, kinda) and almost all the songs are great. She used to hate videogames, but we have spent more than 3 hours playing these at times. Also, WiiSports (some) and the new Super Mario Bros, but you already knew that.
Still haven't found a Zelda type game she enjoys. Please let me know if you bump into one.
posted by omegar at 10:47 AM on January 27, 2010

Super Smash Bros, Castle Crashers, Lego Indiana Jones. We got bored by Lego Star Wars/Batman.

For the XBox, Settlers of Cataan, one of us playing at a time, took up the better part of a month.
posted by talldean at 6:04 AM on January 30, 2010

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