Nowadays, there are multiplayer games around every corner. There are tons of online competitive titles for players to spend hours of their life on. Live service has become commonplace. However, multiplayer games had much humbler beginnings. Games such as Borderlands 3 and Call of Duty continue the couch co-op experience, but they're sadly not as frequent as before.
Back then, technology didn't have "servers", so multiplayer was either split-screen, couch co-op, fighting games, or LAN parties. While it's no longer as common these days, couch co-op remains a favorite amongst close friends and family.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
Spelunky 2 - 91
Spelunky 2 is the sequel to indie darling/stress inducer Spelunky. Much like its predecessor, up to four players locally can traverse the game's dangerous caverns. Spelunky 2 brings back the fun of co-op platformers by allowing players to do whatever they want.
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If they wanted to be genuinely helpful to the team, there were plenty of ways to do so. If they wanted to troll other players for laughs, there are double the number of ways to do that. Either way, Spelunky 2 keeps that co-op platforming magic alive.
Borderlands 2 - 91
Without a doubt, Borderlands 2 is the most beloved of the Borderlands franchise. This is in huge part thanks to the improvements made on the multiplayer aspect. While there is online play, Borderlands 2 allowed up to four players in local split-screen co-op.
Borderlands 2 seamlessly integrates its co-op campaign into the story thanks to the constant balance patches. Each class had a ton of replayability which meant no one game was the same. Not only that, the sheer amount of rare loot to plunder kept players coming back for more.
Rock Band Franchise - Average of 91
Rock Band capitalized on everyone's dreams of being a rock star with its series of addicting rhythm games. Unlike many rhythm games, however, Rock Band fulfills that fantastical dream of playing in a band with friends. Sure, it looks ridiculous, but it's very fun to flow with the music.
Rock Band certainly found success, because they even went as far as to make peripheral instruments specifically for each band member. The mic, guitars, and even drum set had their own personal controller. Fans of arcade games will absolutely love these nostalgic oversized controllers.
Gears of War Trilogy - Average of 92
Gears of War was the premiere third-person action shooter on the Xbox during the mid to late 2000s. The brutal and gritty world of Sera left plenty of room for collaborative bloodshed. Gears of War is clearly intended to be played with another player, as even the single-player mode gives players an AI partner.
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The split-screen in particular was made at the peak of Xbox's popularity. This meant all the levels were optimized to be perfectly playable even when split across two screens. It's an incredible co-op experience and is the way the game was meant to be played.
Rayman Legends - 92
Rayman Legends is considered by many fans of the Rayman franchise to be its magnum opus, and the Metacritic ratings prove that. Rayman Legends takes all the lessons learned from previous Rayman games and updates it for modern consoles. The game's quirky atmosphere and fast-paced platforming were a massive hit.
Rayman Legends combines a beautiful fairy tale aesthetic with a dash of Dia de Los Muertos and Jules Verne. It allowed for four players to traverse levels at the same time. With how vast the 2D worlds were, four players had plenty of ground to cover. In addition, there is also the classic ability to completely sabotage your friends.
Minecraft - 93
Minecraft started out as a simple PC game that eventually exploded into a worldwide phenomenon. With that hype came the ports. Finally, players were now able to enjoy the blocky worlds of Minecraft on practically every console. All modern consoles offer split-screen support for Minecraft.
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The best part about Minecraft's split screen is that it gave players complete freedom. While you may share the screen and world, players weren't forced to be close to each other like in other video games. They could be on completely opposite sides of the map and just do their own thing. A split-screen open world remains a rarity in gaming to this day.
Super Mario 3D World - 93
Super Mario 3D World is the culmination of Nintendo's co-op platform offerings since its inception. Now, up to four players can complete classic levels of the iconic franchise. The players had the choice between Mario, Luigi, Toad(s), Peach, and the secret character Rosalina.
Super Mario 3D World also offered the largest arsenal of power-ups at that point in Mario's history. This meant games had a ton of variety amidst the chaos. In addition to the 4 playable characters, there was also a "5th" player option on the Wii U. A "host" could help players reach tough platforms by placing platforms on the level.
Little Big Planet Franchise - 93
With both Nintendo and Microsoft pushing out some incredible couch co-op experiences in the late 2000s, Sony needed a couch co-op party game of their own. Their entry came to them in the adorable crocheted silhouette of Sackboy from Little Big Planet.
Little Big Planet is a unique platformer that boasts an incredibly in-depth level creator as its core hook. Well before Nintendo would release Mario Maker, Little Big Planet was already showcasing the creativity that gamers were capable of with developer-provided tools. Few things are as uniquely fun as finishing a level the player made with their friends.
Halo Trilogy - Average of 95
The original Halo trilogy is arguably the most influential first-person console franchise of the early 2000s. It features atypical combat and fast-paced twitch shooter gunplay, and even the likes of Call of Duty would struggle to meet the records set by this gigantic series.
Also unlike many first-person shooter games, the split-screen was given plenty of love. The level design and pace of the combat made sure that even those on split-screen still had a fun time traversing the campaign. The Split-Screen is so good, in fact, that mods to make the split-screen possible on PC have thousands of downloads.
Portal 2 - 95
Portal 2 is essentially two games in one thanks to its two modes. While there is still the highly anticipated sequel to Chell and GLaDOS's story, it also had another story mode. Instead of simply adding another "silent" player to the single-player campaign like many games often do, Valve opted to make the co-op campaign a completely separate story.
In the co-op campaign, set after the main game, players took control of the robots ATLAS and P-Body to undergo "stress testing" of the portal gun. With four portals at the player's disposal, the puzzles are more challenging than ever before. In addition, players get to enjoy GLaDOS roasting two simpletons instead of one. A perfectly crafted cooperative experience that few games have managed to recreate.
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