Aging Gamer: Couch Co-Op

Contra, Konami

Story Time

Gather round, young ones. I come with a tale of what you may think is terrifying, but in actuality, it created some fond memories. Before the Xbox 360 era, you actually had to travel to a friend’s house or arcade to experience co-op gaming. How inconvenient, right? Somewhat, but it made couch co-op so much more special than just signing into your PSN or Xbox Live account. Great memories were made when I was little. It saddens me that children today won’t get to experience the fun of sitting on a friend’s couch, totally destroying them in Mutant League Football. Those were the days. I wish they would come back, but only Nintendo still tries to keep couch co-op alive and it may soon be dead forever.

Setting the Scene

Picture this: Early 90’s and you’re waiting for your parents to take you to your friend’s house for a sleepover. You know they have a SNES and Genesis. You simply cannot wait to engage in some co-op fun with your buddies. Pizza and gallons of soda wait for you as you arrive. Controllers are strewn about and you begin to destroy your buddies in Street Fighter II. Round after round, they cannot shake you from the player 1 controller. Just when they think all is lost, someone finally figures out Blanca’s special move and you must relinquish that controller you’ve held onto for so long. I had so many weekends like this at my house, my friend’s house, at 7-11’s; They were amazing. I remember using the Konami Code and going through Contra with my buddies, even taking a picture and sending it to Nintendo Power!

(Swingers – Miramax)

Things Change

Now, I totally realize that playing online is much easier to schedule. Don’t get me wrong. During the Xbox 360 era, I spent many a night fragging noobs in Halo 3 while laughing through my headset. However, there were times when we still got together to play Halo 3 on split-screen while destroying people. There were also nights when we had epic Guitar Hero and Rock Band sessions. I’m glad that the Switch is bringing people together more, but I never hear about people going to each other’s houses for all-night gaming sessions. I’m sad that this is happening, but I understand why.

Lifestyles have changed significantly since I was thirteen years old. Heck, they’ve changed a lot since last gen. Everyone seems to have a busier life now, myself included. I rarely play my games on workdays and my sessions during my days off aren’t as long as they used to be. It is difficult for me to game online consistently now. Just ask my Monster Hunter friends. I wish life was simpler again and that I had more time to actually live, but that isn’t in the cards for me right now. It seems like most people are in this boat too, or at least friends I used to online game with.


I do have great memories playing online with my buddies, though, before all the huge lifestyle changes. I went through Halo 3 on Legendary in co-op with my good friend. Now that he’s married and whatnot, there’s little time for games. I’m basically the same person out of high school. Just add on the 50 hour work week and taking care of the folks. I make time for games. I have to. They’re a great stress reliever and they let me forget about my problems even if it is for a little while. My greatest memories were made with other people, though, sitting right next to me as I crushed their on-screen avatar. Those moments from my childhood will be with me forever and I’m very grateful for that.

(The Big Bang Theory – CBS)

Let it be known that I do not think one form of co-op is better than the other. I just happen to have lived during the Golden Age of couch co-op gaming, and during the Golden Age of online gaming. I can compare them both and do have fond memories of both. However it saddens me that couch co-op is dying a slow and miserable death. Children should have memories of going to their friends’ houses and playing well into the night. Instead, they sit at home and play for long hours alone with no real interaction.

Seeing the agony of defeat was much more fun for me than hearing someone curse out my gamer tag and tell me what they’d do to my mother. A punch on the shoulder from a buddy for a cheap move was much more satisfying than having to mute a competing player. Hopefully Nintendo can bring couch co-op back into the fold since Rock Band 4 and Guitar Hero Live didn’t really help.

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