The Link-Up Spell: Fall in love this Valentine’s with 4 retro co-op games
Need a last minute idea to have a good time with your couple during this putrid Valentine’s Day? Want to help a friend to not be grim and frostbitten during the “Lover’s Day”? Check out these 4 retro games to play together and conquer the mysterious quest of love!
Ahhh… Valentine’s Day. Another corporate date specially designed to boost sales and add a tender corporate frenzy to the act of gifting. Sure, it can be a frivolous holiday, but we, here at the Toilet ov Hell, know exactly how to turn the plans of those filthy capitalist upside down (just like we did with that Santa Claus bastard on Christmas!). This year, I will lead your way to find the best retro games to play with your couple in this Valentine’s Day!
Old-school gaming is a nice way to engage for a while with your partner, if you both like to play some video games. Unlike their modern counterpart, retro titles are simpler and easier to pick up. Both of you are unwilling to understand the lengthy rules of some recent titles? Your significant other does not know how to play dual-joystick FPS? Then, check out this list and press start, my friend!
Streets of Rage series
We have previously discussed the beat’em up subgenre on the “fantasy” edition of this column (Check it out here), but there is another list of recommended games inside this arcade-inspired style that should be covered up.
During the last 80s and all around the 90s, Sega was one of the leaders of the arcade pack. Besides their successful home-consoles, these were the guys that put Nintendo into the race to be the best video gaming company! Remember the “Sega does what Nintendon’t” ads? Those were the days of corporate butchery!
Anyways, the beat’em up games that became famous during that time could be great picks to spend a couple of hours with your date. In these titles, you go ahead together and smack everything on the screen with just two buttons. Between this plethora of names to choose, one of the top tier series is Streets of Rage, a recommended trilogy of kicking-ass action games.
The first Streets of Rage is the most straight-forward. It introduces three playable characters (Axel, Blaze and Adam), each one with different stats and movements, who have to fight the evil criminal gang of Mr. X in the only chance they have to return peace to their city.
The movement in this title is smooth and super polished, with responsive controls, different special moves and a marvelous technical department. Boss fights are abundant and players can pick up stray weapons, like drainpipes to clear the thugs infested streets. One of the greatest looking titles on the Sega Genesis library, which also launched Yuzo Koshiro’s soundtrack to the history.
Furthermore, if you dig this style and really wanted more, the sequel, Streets of Rage 2 is a must play, too. It introduces two new characters, and while the mechanic is pretty much the same, it has a refined gameplay and more moves to each character.
The only counterpoint to these games could be the high difficulty, however, even when you are not willing to finish the whole story, it could be a great time to co-op punch weirdos with the techno music paradise of Koshiro blasting in the background.
Streets of Rage and Streets of Rage 2 are available on Steam, the PlayStation Network, the Wii Virtual Console and the Nintendo 3DS eShop.
Kirby Super Star
The famous Kirby, world’s happiest fluffy goofball, has some good titles on its catalogue to enjoy with a second player. Unlike it happens with the arcade picks, as Streets of Rage, Kirby games are simpler and easier to both play and finish.
Many will argue about the favorite title from the extensive library of the HAL Laboratories mascot, but some of them will agree that Kirby Super Star is the definite experience.
Released in 1996, Super Star is a compilation of six short games with the same gameplay, but with different objectives. Also, there are two mini-games that can also be played with a second person.
In a traditional fashion, Kirby have the ability of swallow enemies to copy their power-ups, but this time, the second player can be summoned as a helper character, which can accompany the pink hero in its quest. From all the fun games, like “Dyna Blade” or “Revenge of Meta Knight”, we can find a larger adventure mode titled “The Great Cave Offensive”, which features a larger map (a la “Metroidvania”) in which players has to collect 60 different treasures inside four main areas.
Kirby Super Star is a cool title to enjoy with a partner during Valentine’s Day, and it also has some conveniences. For example, the second player can drop off the game every time it is needed and nearly all the games are short enough to be completed in an hour. Also, if the both of you want to tackle a bigger adventure, just select “The Great Cave Offensive” which features some cool puzzles and action in each segment.
Secret of Mana
Next entry is another impressive SNES title. Developed by Squaresoft (now Square-Enix) and released in 1993, we need to unveil the Secret of Mana in one of the best action-RPGs of all time!
This game is a classic of the Japanese brethren of role-playing games, boasting revolutionary mechanics into the formula. Set in a typical RPG fashion, the story follows the lead of three heroes in their quest to defeat an Empire from conquering the entire world with the ancestral energy of the Mana.
The battles are driven in real-time with a power bar, which determines the strength of the hits and the accuracy. Commands and menus are input with a Ring system that gives players the chance to stop the battles and select items or change weapons.
Like I told before, Secret of Mana is one of the most innovative titles of its time. The cooperative system allows up to three people playing at the same time (third player had to enter through the Super Multitap gadget on the SNES) and each character enables different skills with each level up.
Besides the neat gameplay, graphics and music are regarded as one of the greatest in the SNES lists. Also, dialogues have plenty of humor and its light-hearted setting is very original.
Secret of Mana was developed by a team of highly acclaimed game designers of the time. People that worked on the first three Final Fantasy titles, like the legendary programmer Nasir Gebelli, put their hearts into this cartridge.
If you are both willing to engage into a more story-driven experience or want to play a “Co-op Zelda”, this is a recommended title for you!
Find it on the Wii Virtual Console, the SNES Classic Mini, PlayStation Network, iOS, Android and PlayStation Vita. There is an upcoming 3D remake, but given the oblivious screenshots released, I would not recommend it.
If there is one company that knows how to squish their old titles is Blizzard. Known for its massive franchises, Warcraft and Starcraft, or their recent hits, Overwatch and Hearthstone, they have another series that set its mark in its own backyard: Diablo.
For those couples willing to get immersed into a gothic-horror RPG, the second chapter of Diablo, and its expansion, Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, is still a nice way to adventure together. The game offers three difficulties, but its replayability comes in the form of the random factor. Dungeons and items are randomly generated, so players must overcome a different way to pass the story each time they start a new campaign.
The Diablo series set the template for the hack-n-slash subgenre on PC gaming, and while there are some other cool members of this niche, the Blizzard franchise is still reigning in hell. In the second title, graphics are beautifully rendered in an isometric plane, evoking a gothic atmosphere, paired with the great music of Matt Uelmen. Gameplay is pretty simple in its core, but the character building will make you and your partner circle through dozens of guides to find the best strategies.
The complex nature of Diablo II is recommended for those couples who want to spend this Valentine’s Day preparing their way to play. For those who seeks a more streamlined direction, the first Diablo (also available for PlayStation One) could be a better choice. Any chapter you want, beware that retro gaming in computers could need more tweak than in consoles, since newer PC sets does not freely run old games, so you will have to Google a little bit and patch the games to run it.
To buy Diablo II, your best shot is the Blizzard Shop.
If you wanted more recs, these are the games my wife and I plays in co-op when we have the chance. She is not a strict hardcore gamer, but we enjoy the past time together and we like to find new cooperative video games! (I know Wii is not retro, but that is our only console, so I wanted to share some of our preferred titles).
- Bomberman. (Mostly the Bomberman Blast game for the Wii or the Super Bomberman for the SNES).
- Battle City. (A Japan NES game which came over here in pirated consoles, one of the first co-op games of all time!).
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl. (The Wii title has a slower pace and an adventure co-op mode).
- Kirby: Return to Dreamland. (Wii).
- Snow Bros. (The NES port. A fun arcade platformer).
- New Super Mario Bros. (Wii. 4-player madness).
- Goof Troop. (A SNES Disney classic. Adventure solving puzzles with Goofy and his son).
- Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. (Nintendo GameCube, it can be played in both co-op and versus).
- Zombie Ate my Neighbors. (SNES and Sega Genesis shoot’em up with cooperative fun. It is pretty difficult!).
- Lego: Star Wars: The Complete Saga (We have the Wii version, which comprises the two GameCube chapters. In fact, any Lego game could be cool for co-op if you like the formula).
- Donkey Kong Country Returns. (Another Wii masterpiece, but it is highly difficult!).
- Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance. (We played the GameCube version. While a little repetitive, it is a decent hack-n-slash).
So, this is all for today, my friends. Which other retro gaming titles do you recommend to us for this Valentine’s Day? Remember to share this content, leave your comments and stay tuned for more content here on the Toilet ov Hell.
This week’s column is dedicated to my beloved wife. Love you, dear! <3
The Link-Up Spell is a weekly Toilet ov Hell column about music, movies, books, retro video games and guaranteed Elfic nonsense. If you want to contact the author to send your material, mail us at toiletovhell [at] gmail.com with the subject “The Link-Up Spell” or message him on social media.