Ah, love, innit grand? You get to argue about whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher (inevitably mine), whose turn it is to go food shopping (also inevitably mine) and who it was that forgot to put the takeaway leftovers in the fridge before going to bed (definitely her). And along with all these fun daily challenges, you also have a live-in co-op partner who is almost certainly eager to while away an hour or two with you battling through some of the most challenging games out there.
With that in mind, some of you are doubtless wondering the best co-op games to play with your partner this Valentine’s Day — and what with this being a retro site ‘n’ all, we thought we’d focus particularly on retro games that not only still hold up very well today, but which are also still easily accessible today, too. So let’s get right into it, shall we?
Streets of Rage 2
Few genres encapsulate the co-op spirit better than beat ’em ups — and beat ’em ups don’t come much better than Sega’s legendary Streets of Rage 2. Originally released for Mega Drive and subsequently ported to pretty much every platform you can think of for several generations of console hardware, this is one of the easiest — and best — retro co-op games to get your hands on this Valentine’s Day.
For those with a Nintendo Switch, Streets of Rage 2 is part of the Sega Mega Drive library you get access to with a Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscription. It’s also available as part of the Sega Mega Drive Classics collection that is available for Nintendo Switch, Xbox and PlayStation 4.
Strictly speaking this isn’t a co-op game in the traditional sense because you are competing against one another — but it is also co-operative in that in order for both players to progress to the next round in the game’s championships, only one needs to attain a qualifying position by the end of each race. As such, so long as at least one of you is a reasonably competent driver, the other can simply enjoy the thrill ride that is Top Racer’s delightfully varied tracks.
Top Racer (also known as Top Gear in its original European Super NES release) is available as part of the Piko Interactive Collection 1 cartridge for Evercade. Its sequel — which is also excellent — is on the Piko Interactive Collection 2 cart.
Doom in co-op is a joyful experience — and what was once the exclusive preserve of those who had set up a suitable home network (which, back when Doom was originally released, was not at all common) is now easily accessible by all, thanks to the excellent split-screen options in the recent rereleases of Doom and Doom II by Bethesda. Those ports may have gotten off to a shaky start when they were first released, but they’re in an excellent state now — and a ton of fun to enjoy with a loved one. Plus with the massive amount of officially endorsed add-ons available now, you can potentially be enjoying Doom and its sequel for a very long time.
Doom and Doom II are available for PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox.
Single-screen platformers are excellent co-op titles that also feature some light, friendly competition between players — and Rod Land from Jaleco is a personal favourite. Casting you and your co-op partner in the roles of the fairies Rit and Tam, it’s your job to work your way through the deadly “Maboots” tower in an attempt to rescue your mother. Along the way, there’s a lot of adorable enemies to bash and a lot of flowers to pick — Rod Land is a consistently delightful journey.
Rod Land is available as part of the Arcade Archives collection for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.
The history of Dark Chambers is an interesting one. Originally, there was a dungeon-crawling action game called Dandy for Atari home computers, which may or may not have been ripped off to create Atari Games’ arcade classic Gauntlet. After settling the dispute over whether or not this actually happened out of court, the original creator of Dandy helped create Dark Chambers for Atari’s home consoles — with two quite different versions releasing for Atari 2600 and Atari 7800. Both are worth playing, but the latter is probably more palatable to a modern audience.
Dark Chambers for Atari 2600 is available as part of the Atari Collection 2 cartridge for Evercade. Dark Chambers for Atari 7800 is also available for the home console Evercade VS… if you put the correct combination of two cartridges in the console’s dual slots. Can you guess which ones you need…?
So there’s our top five co-op classics to enjoy with a loved one this Valentine’s Day. What are some of your favourites? Be sure to let us know down in the comments or via the usual social channels!