I’ve not had the best of times when it comes to Co-Op games. For me, it comes down to one thing, which in my opinion, is the hardest thing about gaming with other people. Finding the right people for that game.
The first Co-op game I can remember playing was Champions of Norrath on the PS2. I played it with both of my brothers and our mother. My little brother wanted to hit things. So he played the barbarian. My older brother played the dark elf, finding it to be the “coolest” race there. My mom wanted to be an elf, so she was the woodland elven archer. I really can’t remember why I was the human cleric. Maybe because I wanted to heal, or maybe just because I thought she was pretty. I was young at the time.
First of all, timing was an issue. Most of the time my mom was home to play, my dad was too. The gaming system was in our living room which was right next to his room, so we felt bad when he had to deal with our noise, and him being left out, so we tried to just play when he wasn’t home. Second of all, the age of our players. My younger brother, and maybe myself, should not have been playing until we learned a little bit more about playing Co-Op and not getting everyone else killed. I can recall several times of us yelling at someone else not to do that, and watching them get killed.
The difference in gaming experience was very evident. My little brother was the lowest level, because he tended to run right into the middle of things and get himself killed. My mom and I were about the same. We were both playing squishy classes. My older brother kicked butt, and usually was reviving the rest of us. My little brother was good at hitting things. My mom shot things but was pretty dead when things came at her. My older brother summoned undead skeletons, usually with magic swords. Fire, lightning, and such. They were pretty neat. Me? I summoned a sparkly blue hammer. And yes, I have to include the fact that it sparkled as it stomped things, and followed around my blonde girl with pigtails.
We got Champions of Norrath: Return to Arms when it came out. We were excited. We did manage to beat the first one. Ask me now and I can’t remember the plot. We uploaded our characters from the first game, and started it off. We only got through one location. For some reason, most of the interest was lost. I would have continued on, but seriously a cleric who does nothing really but summon a hammer? I was toast to say the least. They traded off the two of them last week. I was rather sad, with my sentimental feelings for the game, but the truth was, they were dusty and we weren’t going to get back to them.
The four of us also played Marvel Ultimate Alliance on the PS2. There was always quite a bit of fussing over that game. Someone picked up health packs they didn’t need but someone else really did. Someone hit the button to level while someone else was in the middle of a fight. We had a surprising amount of drama over that one game. We did get through it eventually, but we never played a 4 person, or even a 3 person game again (unless you count Rock Band, which I count under a slightly different category).
Since I mentioned Rock Band, I’ll go ahead and get into that topic. Within my family, there were a few contentions. My mom wanted to play the bass guitar part. My older brother would play drums, guitar, and even occasionally sing. The rest of the time, I was the only one willing to sing. I didn’t mind it too much. I love singing. I minded the fact that I was stuck doing it and I didn’t know half the songs. That left my younger brother to fill in the role our older brother wasn’t taking. He could usually do songs on easy. But he also lacked, at the time, the ability to multitask and hit the bass pedal as well as the color it instructed on the drums or moving his hand for the guitar.
This was a game without commitment, that I could drag people into sometimes. One year at our New Year’s Eve party we had Rock Band set up in my brothers’ room. I was in the room playing with these two girls and their older brother. He was playing the guitar part, the older sister was playing the drums, the younger sister was playing the bass line, while I sang. The younger sister started fussing that she wanted to sing. So, we switched parts. The trouble was, she was probably 4 at that time. She didn’t know how to read. She didn’t know any of the songs. She just stared at the screen while we failed each song, fussing when we tried to suggest we switch back instruments. It was a long night. With other friends, the story tended to be that they were very set on doing the songs they knew, yet had me sing, when I didn’t know the song. It tended not to work as well.
I played a handful of two-player Co-Ops with my older brother. We played Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, and beat it. We both started X-men Legends and the Fantastic Four game on PS2, but he lost interest in the first, and we got stuck on the latter. The Adventures of Cookies and Cream… was very frustrating to say the least. There was a pretty good chance on each level that he was telling me exactly what to do or was on my controller as well.
Now that I’m reflecting on it, I don’t think I’ve played a single Co-Op for any system but the PS2. I’ve gotten used to playing games on my own. Even on Lotro, I usually do things by myself. Those that have played with me would love to tell you stories about the time I ran them off a cliff. In my defense, I thought it was a really steep hill (or which there are several), and they didn’t have to be following so close behind me. Or letting me take the lead for that matter. Anyway, it’s something I really ought to do. I just need to actually find the right person for the right game to play with, a thing of which I have had little luck for so far.