Move over. No really, we’re playing couch games
By Megan Creig, Contributor
When I was younger, I could spend hours watching my older brothers play video games. Console to console, game to game, I looked on as they completed quests, fought enemies, collected virtual items, leveled up — the works. And on occasion, I got my turn as well. The best days, however, were when we would play together.
One of the crowd favourites was Band Hero. This Activision release consisted of nearly 70 songs with various compositions of lead or bass guitar, drums and vocals. Small hands and a dismal sense of rhythm made most of these instruments a little too challenging for me but not vocals. You couldn’t convince eight-year-old Megan that she wasn’t destined for stardom.
But as we got older, our ever elaborate basement concerts became more of a rarity. We invested more time in our other friendships and saved video gaming for family nights. This went on for a couple of years, until the first lockdown.
By April 2020, I had packed everything up from my university dorm and was headed back to my parent’s house with a lot of spare time on my hands. My brothers were in the same boat. Like nearly everyone else, we wanted to find something to fill the time while we were stuck at home. So we played video games. And just like before, the best of these were the ones we played together.
Now that we’re out of lockdowns and life has returned to its usual busyness, it seems especially important that we still make time for basement concerts, for time spent with family and friends. So without further ado, I present my list of couch games that will either make or break your relationships, hopefully the former.
Developer: Team17, Ghost Town Games
This game had me in tears the first time that I played it with my brothers. We laughed so hard that our parents had to tell us to keep it down more than once. The game essentially is a co-op cooking experience. It can be played by one to four players, sometimes in teams, sometimes individually, always chaotically.
In each level, you’re tasked with collecting coins that will help you in your adventures in the Onion Kingdom. To do this, you have to prepare, cook and serve food to temperamental customers before they walk out. Your task is made easier, or more impossible, depending on the competence of each of your co-chefs.
Overcooked can be played on PlayStation 4 and 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, macOS, Microsoft Windows, Linux and Amazon Luna.
Developer: Coldwood Interactive
Unravel Two is another game that puts your success in the hands of your partner and their success in yours. You play as a Yarny, connected to your fellow yarn-being by a single thread. But as you navigate through platforming puzzles that thread has a major role. You can use the thread to manoeuvre your partner over harrowing gaps and up steep climbs. That is, unless your accomplice finds it more entertaining to drag you to your doom.
You can explore the beautiful, engaging and amusing world of Unravel Two on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One or Microsoft Windows.
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
This game is another platformer made more fun as a co-op. The premise of Rayman Legends is that you are sucked through the world of each painting to partake on crazy adventures. But the game itself sucks you in with beautiful art and captivating levels. These levels are challenging enough to make the game worthwhile but they also feature a forgiving checkpoint system that will keep you from throwing your controller at the screen or your fellow players.
Rayman Legends can be played on PlayStation 3 and 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and 360, Microsoft Windows, Google Stadia or Wii U.
Minecraft: Bedrock Edition
Developer: Mojang Studios
Minecraft is timeless. It’s been over 10 years since it was first released but frequent updates keep this sandbox game fun for any adventurer. The exploration is endless in Minecraft and players are free to build, fight, farm or generally do whatever they wish. Local split-screen play also lets you bring a friend along for the journey without need for complete coordination. Essentially, this game is a fun way to collaborate with a friend or family member without driving yourself crazy in the process. That said, if you play with your siblings like I did, you might want to turn off explosions and fire spread in your menu.
You can play it on PlayStation 4 and 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Series X/S, Windows 10 and 11, Windows Mobile, Samsung Gear VR, Fire OS/TV and Android or iOS.
Literally any Lego video game
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
I’ve played way too many Lego games over the years. The first one I ever tried was the 2008 Lego Batman. This release was heavily inspired by Tim Burton’s movies, including the soundtrack by Danny Elfman. The levels were charming and nostalgic and even today, I enjoy playing this game. I’ve also tried Lego versions of Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Marvel’s Avengers, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter and so on. There’s a Lego game for everyone at this point. Whether you prefer to play through stages and past enemies with your fists, a sword, a wand, or crazy powers this game is made more entertaining with a partner.
Depending on the version, these games can be played on a wide variety of platforms. The games are available on PlayStation 2, 3 and 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, 360 and Series X/S, GameCube or Wii and Wii U.
It Takes Two, Mario Kart 8, Rocket League.