For me video games have always been a shared experience. Having a younger brother meant always splitting my video game time and we grew up playing the NES and Commodore 64 together which had a limited selection of games featuring co-op or simultaneous play. Games with alternating play (example: Super Mario Bros. series) were alright, but when we found a game that we could both be playing at the same time we would generally play it to death. Here are some of my favorite co-op games of all time:


The Double Dragon series is synonymous with co-op gaming. It was a rare and magical moment when I first encountered the Double Dragon Arcade Machine. Seeing a group of thugs approach the protagonist’s girlfriend, assault and kidnap her – I knew that this was how adult relationships worked. That I would, without question, be called upon to protect my future girlfriend from random kidnappers. Double Dragon was a wake up call: learn kung-fu or be subjected to a lonely, celibate life. I pumped countless quarters into that machine, then my brother and I played Double Dragon and Double Dragon II on the NES until it became second nature and barely challenging. This is co-op greatness.


Legend of the Mystical Ninja is a game I randomly rented during my tenure at Blockbuster video. I picked it for the appealing art style on the cover and I kept it for its addictive co-op game play. Konami knows co-op and this game is proof. The characters are great, the gameplay and mini-games found in the carnival level were enough to keep me and my brother occupied for many laughter filled hours.


This is 100% pure Lucas Arts campy awesomeness. Lucas Arts used to make tons of great, creative games like Day of the Tentacle, Sam and Max, LOOM, Maniac Mansion, X-Wing, Tie Fighter and many more. But that was back in the day, when Tim Schafer was in their employ and they allowed people to be creative and not simply churn out mindless Star Wars propaganda. This game rocks. Play it. Jerks.


This may be the first game I ever played wherein touching an enemy didn’t mean automatic death or even loss of health. You could run into your enemies, grab them, throw them around, shoot them with awesome weapons, combine different weapons for different effects all while playing with a good buddy at your side. The release of this game on XBLA has increased its co-op potential to allow for worldwide co-op over the internets. Co-oping at its finest.


Contra is co-op. Plain and simple. Run straight ahead and kill shit. Pure adrenaline.


Halo is the first game that really proved that first person shooters were viable on a console. I was converted by this game.


Guardian Heroes holds a special place in my video gaming heart. It’s one of those games that none of your other friends knew about and they were skeptical when you sang its praises, but once they played it, they understood. Playing through the branching main story would allow you to unlock many of the enemies and bosses you fought throughout the game in the multiplayer Arena mode adding countless hours of replayability.


If there is a video game equivalent of a movie “cult classic” then Toejam and Earl should be near the top of the list. This game pretty much failed at retail in my opinion because it was different than anything else available at the time and people are generally stupid. This was the first co-op game my brother and I experienced that allowed us to adventure separately by dynamically adjusting the split screen based on our character’s proximity to each other.

Sticking together gave you the bonus of a single frame screen allowing you to see more and take advantage each others power-ups as they would be shared, but splitting up obviously allowed you to cover more ground and explore more rapidly which was helpful since each game you played was different due to the random level generation.

Definitely not as much fun solo. You MUST play this game co-op.


In my opinion, this game does GTA better than GTA. It doesn’t try to take itself too seriously, but there are some serious moments in it. It is without a doubt more fun than the last few iterations of GTA and here’s the kicker: full campaign online co-op. I have played through this game a couple times with a buddy in online co-op and there is nothing more fun than sticking a satchel charge on your buddy’s back, waiting until he is about to grab his favorite new car and watching his lifeless body careen through the air after you detonate it. Initiate the insurance fraud game (which gives you invincibility) and begin an all-out satchel charge fight in the streets. This much fun shouldn’t be allowed.


Many probably think that this is more of a competitive game than a co-op game, and generally speaking that is accurate. However, to unlock gold on the higher difficulty levels you need to work together. A truce must be drawn and you agree to hold your fire and attack only the CPU to ensure that the top two spots are protected and the gold secured.


This has become the “Go To” adult party game. It only gets better when drinking is involved and inhibitions are lowered and those usually to shy to speak up are belting out their favorite tunes. I’ve spent many intoxicated nights pretending to have musical ability all the while knowing I am just good at timed button pressing. Oh well, it’s fun.

Honorable Mentions

Golden Axe

Streets of Rage

Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time

X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse

X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse

Diablo II

Diablo II

Castle Crashers

Castle Crashers

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