Written by Erik Kubik Sunday, 19 December 2010 06:00
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Some gamers refuse to acknowledge that split screen co-op and local multiplayer are dying off. Gamers still love the idea that the Halo series has local co-op. But most games are moving away from the idea, as gaming is supporting playing over a LAN/wireless connection through XBL/PSN. But back in the 1990s and early into the new millennium, local co-op was the way to go for multiplayer. Games such as Donkey Kong Country , GoldenEye , Halo 1 and 2, Mario Kart , Twisted Metal 2 were the meat and potatoes of co-op games.
What was the fascination with local multiplayer/co-op? Well, gamers could cram several of their friends into a small un-ventilated room glued to one or two TVs, if your system was capable of some sort of system link. A good example is Goldeneye or Mario Kart, sure the single player game was fun, but the multiplayer would keep gamers up for hours. I remember in high school and even college when the N64 was no longer popular, we would fire Goldeneye up on the big screen and play into the wee hours during finals week. We’d also fire up Halo 2 , with two TVs in the room and go around and around on CTF/TDM, eight men at a time.
Games that fulfilled the co-op feeling like Twisted Metal 2, Donkey Kong, Final Fight, Streets of Rage, and Halo 2 were fun because taking another person through the single-player story was a kick in the pants. Having someone to help you outside the idiot A.I. is a good thing. For myself and many other gamers, this option added to the game’s value, making it a must-have purchase back in the day. Or even now I’d consider these games must-haves for fans.
What about arcade games? Do you know how hard it is to find a modern arcade game with co-op? Time Crisis is about the only game I can think of these days. My wife and I have a blast playing Time Crisis 3 together. Most arcade games consist of DDR, fighting games, or racing games these days. But back in the day, gamers had so many games to waste quarters on, the Simpsons Arcade, TMNT, X-men, and of course the Metal Slug series. Even the arcades we grew up with are becoming a thing of the past.
In the end, fans of local co-op have a few options left. Many of our favorite arcade games are coming to PSN/XBL and they support old school local co-op. The music series of games, the Guitar Hero games and Rock Band 3 games fill the niche of local co-op for now, although they lack the stupid simplicity gamers need. For now gamers will have to make do with limited options. The beauty that once was local co-op, cramming eight people in a room has migrated to people sitting by themselves and playing over the internet.
Related article: The Lone Gamer and the Decline of Local Multiplayer