Games with Non-Gamer SO
August 9, 2005 12:11 PM   Subscribe

I want to play video games with my wife.

But, it's really hard to find anything that she might like. She likes DDR, and she enjoyed Katamari Damacy. But other than that, what game system/games are generally good games to play with the not-so-into-games SO? Right now we have no console to speak of, and am considering one that would have a few games we could play together, ideally cooperatively.
posted by eurasian to Computers & Internet (38 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
GameCube. Or, for the cheapskate, N64. For anyone who isn't into sports or fighting games, Nintendo is probably the best bet (not that the GC doesn't have fighting and sports games--it just doesn't have as many as the PS2 does).

As for games, she might enjoy Donkey Konga (a rhythm game, like DDR), Super Smash Brothers Melee (the fighting game as reinterpreted by Nintendo), Mario Kart Double Dash, Mario Tennis, Puyo Pop Fever, Tetris Worlds. Cooperative games are increasingly rare, but Ikaruga is, in my view, a good one, and it contains some of the same kind of pattern-recognition-and-memorization that comes up in DDR.

Very similar questions come up on AskMe pretty regularly--searching the archives may be worthwhile.
posted by box at 12:23 PM on August 9, 2005

My wife tends to like games that don't require a lot of button-dexterity. In other words, games that don't force you to use more than two or three buttons. I've gotten her to play (and really enjoy) Champions of Norrath and Baldur's Gate on the PS2. In fact she is the one that suggested buying the sequel to the Champions game.
posted by oddman at 12:23 PM on August 9, 2005

Wow.. Baldur's gate.. Well, I have had her watch and actually LIKE Firefly, so there may be hope yet.

Box: Ah yes, good ol' nintendo, as I thought. And with some of the more novel games by nintendo, perhaps that's an option. What about PS2's rez, and frequency?

And I did do a search, but came up with nothing relevant, I tried "games wife", "video games" (none of which were relevant), and a few more pairings that came up with nothing at all. If you have some specific links in mind or keywords I should have tried, I'd be much obliged.
posted by eurasian at 12:27 PM on August 9, 2005

Super Monkey Ball on the Gamecube is great for non gamers (SO's, siblings, parents etc.) It's simple to grasp, enjoyable, highly addictive and varied.

I would agree with box in recommending the Gamecube in general.
posted by fire&wings at 12:29 PM on August 9, 2005

Good on your wife for trying to share your interest! I have several friends whose wives enjoy playing MMOG games online with them. World of Warcraft is the choice these days, you can even get a free 15 day demo. City of Heroes is another good choice.
posted by Nelson at 12:31 PM on August 9, 2005

We had the same problem...I started my wife off with Age of Empires, Sims, Roller Coaster Tycoon, and now we're playing Neverwinter Nights together.

A warning though, as happened to me, play in cooperation instead of against each other. I didn't enjoy the day I inadvertently clobbered my wife in AoE when she tried to build a settlement within range of my trebuchets, and she was not able to stop them or move away quick enough not to lose enough momentum that winning the game was impossible for her.

Tears flowed and I felt like a real ass.
posted by Kickstart70 at 12:32 PM on August 9, 2005

On the xbox side:

I find Fuzion Frenzy is a great game to draw non-video gamers in.

In particular, the "Sumo Ball" mini game is great to start with. You control a person inside a rolling steel ball a la American Gladiators and you have to try to knock opponents off a platform without being knocked off yourself. The control is a single stick for direction, so it's very easy to pick up. You can play with anywhere from 1-4 people and the computer will pick up any empty spots.

Once they have that down, you can branch out to many other of the mini-games in Fuzion Frenzy. Excellent Party Game!
posted by de void at 12:34 PM on August 9, 2005

If you go the MMOG route, designate a pair of characters that only play together -- otherwise there may be trouble when someone outlevels someone else (and it might not be you who does it...).

I realize wife does not equal child, but you might find some good ideas over at GamerDad.
posted by gnomeloaf at 12:37 PM on August 9, 2005

My wife and I used to play City of Heroes, fairly palatable for a non-gamer. Now we play World of Warcraft , a bit more in the hard core gamer direction. And Mario Party on the nintendo 64, with a couple gin and tonics, can be quite fun. But she's a bit of a gamer at heart, so I'm not sure how useful this is....
posted by Shutter at 12:38 PM on August 9, 2005

Much to my surprise, the first time my wife (who gives me that long condescending look every time I talk about video games) played Burnout she started giggling uncontrollably and wouldn't give the controller back. YMMV.
posted by Popular Ethics at 12:39 PM on August 9, 2005

Kickstart: you STARTED her out on AoE?!? Uhm.. Perhaps _your_ definition of non-gamer is quite a bit different than mine :D . And yes, i've learned long ago that any game played against each other, is a lose lose situation for me :S

Nelson: Only one PC atm, and I'm thinking any MMOG is just a bit too... gamer-y for her.
posted by eurasian at 12:40 PM on August 9, 2005

this is moderately illegal, but why not buy a couple fo cheap game pads and get some emulation software for NES and SNES. You can play all the classics then.

Donkey Kong Country
Mario Kart
Super Buster Brothers
Secret of Mana
posted by cosmicbandito at 12:44 PM on August 9, 2005

The sequel to Katamari Damacy is due out at the end of August, I think. I can also vouch for Neverwinter Nights -- it's extremely fun to play with another person, though it might be confusing if she isn't familiar with D&D-style games. X-Men Legends is a great cooperative game, it's pretty simple, and it's on a variety of consoles. (Plus, it has Nightcrawler. You can't go wrong with that.) And finally, City of Heroes is an easy and fun MMOG.
posted by Marit at 12:49 PM on August 9, 2005

I started with Age of Mythology, and then played a little Neverwinter Nights. I had a cracked copy though. Now I play City of Heroes and Guild Wars. Guild Wars is actually pretty decent bang for your buck -- in comparison to CoH, for example, there are 20 levels (rather than 50), so the "gratification" of leveling comes a little faster. Then, there' s a story line in the game that is interesting, with very neat cinematics that include your character. I think it's $50.00 for the box, but free after that (as in, you log in to play online, and there is no monthly fee).

I am a former non-gaming girlfriend and a now-gaming wife, btw. RPGs are interesting. Have some faith in her. She may like it. I'd find a cracked copy of Neverwinter for her to try, see how that turns out.
posted by Medieval Maven at 12:56 PM on August 9, 2005

Echoing the GameCube and MMO (City of Heroes/World of Warcraft/Guild Wars) suggestions.
posted by jimmy at 1:04 PM on August 9, 2005

Myst and sequels.
posted by sacre_bleu at 1:17 PM on August 9, 2005

Pikmin 2 on Gamecube.
posted by luneray at 1:20 PM on August 9, 2005

Ooh, I second the Myst suggestion. My wife and I played the most recent one (Uru not link worthy) together, despite it being a bad game we enjoyed it. The earlier games were great and might be even better to team up on. Also a similar game where you do a bit of time travel...there was cheez whiz....and a cow....bah, can't remember the name. Want to call it Lost in Time or something like that, but Google tells me that isn't it.
posted by Shutter at 1:30 PM on August 9, 2005

Two things that have worked for us:

1) The older games from the 80s like Frogger and QBert.
2) Casino games such as poker.
posted by zymurgy at 1:37 PM on August 9, 2005

Searching for 'multiplayer,' listing a few of the usual suspect game titles and trying 'girlfriend' in addition to 'wife,' all returned a few decent results, but it looks like these questions might come up in my head more frequently than they do in AskMe.

Rez is great, if you like that Tempest-meets-DDR kinda thing (or if you're into the Trance Vibrator--which, BTW, is also supported by Space Channel 5), but it was produced in such small numbers, and it's such a cult classic, that you'd be lucky to find a copy for less than $75 these days. Frequency and Amplitude, however, with similar gameplay (though I don't like the visuals as much), are available pretty cheaply. (The PS2 is the go-to console for rhythm games.)
posted by box at 1:47 PM on August 9, 2005

My husband and I have bought the last three iterations of Nintendo consoles, primarily to play Zelda. We didn't know we would like playing video games together until we catsat for a friend who had Ocarina of Time, and we spent the entire weekend holed up in her apartment, playing through the game and occasionally checking to make sure the cats hadn't starved. We also enjoy kicking the virtual shit out of each other w/ Soul Calibur 2 - much cheaper and more cathartic than any marriage counselling, IMHO.

We are not really gamers, per say, but this is how we pass the time some evenings.
posted by bibliowench at 1:48 PM on August 9, 2005

and we spent the entire weekend holed up in her apartment, playing through the game and occasionally checking to make sure the cats hadn't starved
See, that's the sorta gaming I want to have with my SO, darnit.

Box: ah, duly noted! Your mefi-fu is much stronger than mine, I cede the dojo to you.

It's looking like, as I suspected, that Gamecube is coming out on top. I thought that with its massive library, there might have been an argument for the PS2.
posted by eurasian at 2:02 PM on August 9, 2005

Games I've played cooperatively with my wife:

Sims (PC)
Resident Evil (Sega Saturn)
Metal Gear Solid 2 (PS2)
Fatal Frame (PS2)
Ico (PS2)
GTA 3 (PS2)
GTA Vice City (PS2)
Hunter: The Reckoning (Xbox)
Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance (XBox)
Dungeons and Dragons Heroes (XBox)
God of War (XBox)
Devil May Cry I & II (XBox)
Summoner (XBox)
Oddworld: Abe's Exodus (PS2)
SSX Tricky (XBox)
OddWorld: Munche's Oddesy (Xbox)
Burnout 3:Takedown (XBox)
City of Heroes (PC)

I'll admit, she was a gamer before I knew her, but I wouldn't let the gamer vs. non-gamer thing affect your purchase decisions. I think gamers over dramatize the fact that someone might not have a significant background with computer games and it comes off as patronizing.

I would hazard that the bulk of anyone's interest in one game over another is purely personal; why do I like Sci-Fi and you like Mysteries? One thing I might suggest is pair up an Xbox with a Blockbuster Online (use the in-store rentals for games) or Gamefly account and burn through any game with a co-op mode regardless of genre. Don't take the,"This sucks," five minutes into the game personally. Move on to something else, exposure more than anything else will generate curiosity.
posted by Loser at 2:09 PM on August 9, 2005

If you and your wife prefer rhythm games, or fighting games (or, arguably, sports games), that's an argument for the PS2. If the two of you prefer FPSs, RPGs or ports of PC games, that's an argument in favor of the Xbox.

Also, I don't know how I forgot to mention it, but Bomberman is the best multiplayer game ever. (Bomberman Generation and Bomberman Jetters are the two GC titles, or there's Bomberman Party Edition for PSX, or the as-yet-unreleased Bomberman Hardball for PS2. No Bomberman games for Xbox, though.)
posted by box at 2:27 PM on August 9, 2005

Chicks dig Baku Baku Animal
posted by majick at 2:28 PM on August 9, 2005

Warioware. Lots of short games, ideal for short attention spans.

Monkeyball. Lots of small games, cutesy, still fun.
posted by wackybrit at 2:32 PM on August 9, 2005

I've had good luck with The Simpsons Road Rage-- I wouldn't really ever elect to play it on my own, but with a partner, it can be a lot of fun. There's lots of crashing and car bumping, all in a cartoon setting (Springfield, natch.). Good stuff.
posted by yellowcandy at 2:35 PM on August 9, 2005

Consider also, Puzzle Pirates if you'd consider online gaming. It's kind of a mix of MMORPG and Bejewelled type puzzle games. The female demo on the game is very high, and I know many husband/wife duos who play together.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:37 PM on August 9, 2005

Games I've played cooperatively with my wife:
SSX Tricky (XBox)
Burnout 3:Takedown (XBox)

I don't understand. Is there some cooperative means of riding a snowboard or driving a car in these games that I've somehow missed previously?
posted by jjg at 2:51 PM on August 9, 2005

Some good ones already mentioned in this thread, although my wife wouldn't get within 3 miles of an RPG, so we tend to give those a miss.

Here are the ones we have enjoyed:

Mario Party
Monkey Ball
Bust a Move
Pacman Fever
Animal Crossing
Crash Team Racing (PS1..not the horrible sequel).

We have also enjoyed playing platfomers at the same time and competing to see who gets further fastest. Of these we have enjoyed Ratchet and Clank, the first Jak and Daxter, Super Mario Sunshine and Donkey Kong Country (SNES Emulation).

Eye Toy games can be fun, although the setup time is a bit of a drag (lighting, positioning the camera, etc.)

Believe it or not, we also like to play Tiger Woods golf, although we don't play real golf, follow golf, or enjoy golf in any form other than video games.

Just as another data point, we both hated Donkey Konga.

If she likes DDR, there is a Mario-themed DDR game that is coming out for Gamecube soon.

Have fun!
posted by Otis at 3:13 PM on August 9, 2005

If she likes DDR, Donkey Konga is a pretty safe bet, and has a no-stress coop mode. Mario Kart is great, and has a coop mode, though the non-driver might get bored. While it might not be "casual" enough, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory has a really cool cooperative mode where you have to cooperate (e.g. one of you lifts the other up to a higher ledge). If you don't mind going a little old-school, I think Virtua Tennis on Dreamcast (the first one, not the sequel, dang it!) is the greatest multiplayer game ever. It takes ten seconds to learn, and entertains for hours. You can probably get a system and the game for $50.
posted by Sibrax at 4:37 PM on August 9, 2005

My wife loved DDR and Katamari Damashii also, but her true passion is aMpLiTuDe, for the PS2. She's dabbled in other PS2 games but nothing has stuck. Oh wait, also Space Channel 5. Both are rhythm games.
posted by Aknaton at 5:17 PM on August 9, 2005

I'm a wife who is not a "gamer" lady, and I love puzzle games: Tertris, Bust-a-Move, etc. Also driving games where you can crash.
posted by slimslowslider at 6:43 PM on August 9, 2005

I can't play Amplitude or Frequency with my fiance because he wrote them. Talk about humiliating.

I loved each Ratchet & Clank game better than the last (and the first Jak & Daxter). Platformers aren't multiplayer but they're still fun to play cooperatively -- it's great to throw the controller at the other person when you get frustrated and the games are entertaining just to watch.

We also enjoyed Neverwinter Nights (one of the user modules, which was more interesting and a better length than the packaged game). World of Warcraft was a big hit for a few weeks but the repetitive gameplay and level grinding isn't, in my opinion, chick-friendly.
posted by nev at 9:10 PM on August 9, 2005 [1 favorite]

My other half loves ZooCube on the GC, although it winds her up sometimes! Super-Bust-A-Move also went down pretty well...

Most surprising to me, however, was that she enjoys playing Burnout 3: Takedown - especially the "Drive as fast as you can and crash into everything" modes... :-)

Frogger 3D on the PC went down well, as did the original version via emulation... as did a whole bundle of Amiga games that she used to have when she was younger, which we played using the Amiga Forever emulation package.
posted by Chunder at 2:16 AM on August 10, 2005

What happened to Jak and Daxter? The first was neat and then it started going all Grand Theft Auto...

Depending on her predilictions, you could go the adventure route (Check out underdogs for much puzzley goodness, or other low key, quasi legal suggestions) or Beyond Good and Evil, half platform action, half adventure-ish for many, er, platforms (you play a female photographer, and photographing alien wildlife plays a part). Ratchet and Clank is a great series to play with someone (just swap when you die, no limit on lives, and lots of variety).

Other than that - don't most video stores allow you to rent a system and a game? Try before you buy!
posted by Sparx at 2:20 AM on August 10, 2005

Like your wife, I'm a girl that's not that into gaming. I get tired of trying over and over again to accomplish things in games, and I don't like games that are too hard for me to win. That being said, I really enjoyed Luigi's Mansion on my GameCube. In fact, it's the only game I've ever played through to the end. And like Otis, I'm not a golf fan, but I had a good time playing Mario Golf with my fiance (especially when I was winning ;) I also like some racing games, as long as their not too hard to steer in them (like Grand Tourismo). Zelda (Windwaker) was ok, but I never really got into it enough to keep playing. Oh, and on XBox I liked the OddWorld games.

GameCube games I have NOT liked: Mario Sunshine. The camera was terrible in that game, it became too frustrating. Also requires a good amount of button coordination.

PC games I really like: Sims 1&2, puzzle games like Bejeweled, Puzzle Pirates and my new addiction Chuzzle, and Myst /Riven/ Exile, etc.

And I second Sparx: rent before you buy to make sure she likes it!
posted by geeky at 7:33 AM on August 10, 2005

ditto on older nintendo games. the newer systems' controls can be really intimidating. n64 is a good option because the graphics are decent and the controler has a joystick, but it's not too overwhelming. i love mariokart 64 and super smash brothers.

older systems are also more affordable. check around your area for a place that sells (possibly exclusively) used games and consoles. i got an n64 for $40 when i bought two games at game trader
posted by radioamy at 10:47 PM on August 14, 2005

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