A lot of people, myself included have a lot of fond memories of playing a game together with friends or family on the couch on the weekend (or whenever you can sneak it in. Don’t tell mom!). So, with that nostalgia in mind, I often hear about how it sucks that local co-op seems to be disappearing or being subbed out for the ever growing online co-op aspect of gaming. My initial response was to agree with them, but the more I thought about it and the more I did research, the more I find myself saying, “Really?”
A lot of us who have memories of local co-op also have memories of Side Scroller Beat’em Ups or Shoot’em Ups. Games like Streets of Rage or Contra or Gauntlet are the kind of games I’m talking about and those games kinda… don’t exist anymore. Sure in the 90s/early 2000s we got a ton of those, but as gaming has evolved those types of games are getting left behind. The part that makes me ask if my memories are skewed is the fact that those games were never really that numerous. For every Golden Axe you think of, you also think of a ton of games like Dragon Quest, Super Mario Bros, or Tenchu. For every Metal Slug, there were a bunch of Street Fighter, Mario Kart, or Pokemon. I could go on, but you get my point. The number of games that were single player vs competitive play vs co-op is probably solidly on single player’s side. So why do we remember the co-op so much more, to the point we bemoan its loss? Probably those aforementioned memories with friends or family taking up so much space.
Once I thought about it like that, then I found I was still sad to see it go the way of the floppy disk. Because future gamers may miss that chance to flock over to a friend’s house and grind Smash TV until you finally get good enough to beat that annoying ass boss and finally see the next part of the game. They may not get the experience of making hurried excuses to your parents about why you were up until 2 am on a school night because your brother found a tip on playing Battle Toads that you just HAD to try out. They won’t get so many of the memories we did laughing our asses off at Cannon Spike. They’ll get a new set brought about by playing Halo 5’s campaign online with their best buds or beating the crap out of an opposing team in Rocket League, but it probably won’t be the same as we remember. But, surprise, things for future generations are very rarely the same for the previous one so we may just have to suck that up. So maybe it’s time to stop bemoaning the loss of the local co-op of our memories and start keeping a sharper eye out for its newest iterations. Because they’re coming more and more. They may not look or play the same as the ones we loved as kids, but they’re still as prevalent as in. Just maybe in different forms.
Just a thought.
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