The first game I ever played was Double Dragon 2. It was a cooperative game, and one I immensely enjoyed playing with my mom on my first computer—which my dad had bought because he thought it'd be a good idea to invest in one at the time.
The joys of beating up bad guys with someone else at your side—be it a buddy, a parent, or a dog capable of playing video games (how I wish my dog could do this) by far outclasses single player games in terms of fun. This is at least true for some games, and for those times when you don't feel like spending time alone with a game and prefer the company of others.
Games have come a long way since Double Dragon 2, with online modes surpassing local play. That said, local co-op has never gone away—and with any luck, it never will. I'll take the opportunity to highlight the best local co-op games this generation of games has to offer.
Note: We aren't including sports games because most, if not all of them have local co-op. We'd like use this article to highlight other games.
#5 Viva Pinata
Described as a “life simulation game” by its creators at Rare, Viva Pinata tasks players with turning a plot of land into a beautiful garden. This can be done alone, or more preferably with a friend. Like other sandbox games, Viva Pinata is open ended, giving players opportunities to do whatever they want to with their garden and attract new forms of animal pinata to live there.
#4 Gears of War Series
There are few things more enjoyable than playing a Gears of War game with a buddy. Sure, they’re great in deathmatch, but co-op is a whole other bundle of fun that gives you the impression that you’re in a buddy action movie like The Expendables.
#3 Castle Crashers
Castle Crashers pays tribute to the classic brawlers like Streets of Rage and Double Dragon, but with a charming setting with knights, orcs, and all manner of fantasy creatures.
#2 Rock Band 3
Rock Band 3 is the pinnacle of music games, which began a rather long time ago with the likes of Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution. Rock Band 3 offers players the chance to pretend at being a part of a real life rock band with a host of plastic instruments and a very extensive selection of songs to choose from.
#1 Halo Series
The Halo series is by far the biggest reason to own an Xbox 360. Not only do they feature a great single player campaign, and excellent multiplayer options, the Halo games also provide a fantastic co-op mode which can be played by up to two players in split screen mode, or over the internet.
Borderlands can be played alone or with a group of friends. On the console, Borderlands comes with a split-screen mode that allows two players to traverse through the post-apocalyptic environment of the planet Pandora, killing mutants and looting their bodies. It’s a good old action RPG played in a first person perspective.
#4 Rayman Origins
Rayman Origins is available on most platforms as a cooperative game, but it’s best played on a big screen TV, and it goes without saying that the PlayStation 3 has more than enough power to offer what is arguably the best version of the game. Rayman Origins takes the series back to its roots, away from the insanity of the Rabbids, putting players in control of Rayman and his equally agile friends as they run through numerous maps while freeing electoons and lums.
#3 Fat Princess
Though primarily designed as a game for 32 players, Fat Princess has been updated to support four player split-screen mode and plays with the basic goal of rescuing the Princess to bring her back to the team’s base. While attempting to rescue your team’s princess, this hilariously offensive game has players feeding cakes to the enemy team’s princess to make her heavier and more difficult for the enemy team to rescue their own princess from your base.
#2 LittleBigPlanet 2
LittleBigPlanet 2 is a platform game which encourages players to bust out their brain box and get creative with the game’s awesome variety of level creation tools. Players can create maps and experience others’ creations alone or with a friend.
#1 Portal 2
Though primarily touted as a PC game, Portal 2 plays best on the PlayStation 3 thanks to its split-screen co-op mode. Two players, taking on the roles of the intelligent robots Atlas and P-Body, must cooperatively solve five sets of test chambers created by GLaDOS.
#5 Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World plays much much like a modern day version of River City Ransom, putting players in control of one of four characters from the Scott Pilgrimverse who go up against Ramona Flowers’ seven evil ex-boyfriends. The story loosely follows the plot in the graphic novels with similar art direction. Enemies drop Canadian loonies instead of gold or dollar coins, and player characters earn experience by defeating bad guys and eating various kinds of food, all of which go towards unlocking new moves to be used against even more bad guys.
#4 Dungeon Defenders
Dungeon Defenders is a tower defense game in which players can choose one of a few classes to control on the battlefield. Each class is armed with weapons and spells, and has the ability to construct various defenses in order to prevent monsters from reaching the heart of the dungeon.
#3 Civilization 5
Unlike the other titles on this list, Civilization 5 can’t be played simultaneously. It’s a turn-based strategy game that is instead played in the ‘hotseat’, meaning players take turns at the wheel for their individual civilizations. Like its predecessors in the series, Civilization 5 requires long-term strategic thinking and a whole lot of patience, as games are likely to take awhile.
#2 Trine 2
Best described as a platformer with puzzle mechanics, players choose from one of three character classes—each with unique abilities—to solve challenges and traverse through every level. There’s a wizard who can summon boxes and levitate himself, a knight who can defend from attacks and slash monsters to pieces, and a thief who can grapple from point to point and kill enemies from a distance with her bow.
Magicka can be described as an action adventure game which makes fun of fantasy tropes. In local and online multiplayer, up to four players can take on the roles of wizards who are armed with powerful spells which they must use to progress through the game. As friendly fire is enabled at all times, Magicka has the potential to provide players with hilarious moments as they accidentally blow each other to kingdom come with their spells—which even interact. Like in Ghostbusters, one must remember never to cross the streams.