It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but a recent conversation with my muse of a RevPub partner provided inspiration. A lot of stock is placed on “multiplayer” in video games nowadays. I admit, I don’t care for the feature for one simple reason: Anonymity. Playing a game online to me is playing a video game in a chat room from the 90s. Everyone is anonymous, which for some reason increases the a-hole quotient by 75% in about 85% of people.
In the arcade days, you had jerks that ran the machine, kids that tried to step up, and challenges face-to-face, but in the skating rink I played arcade games in people would get cocky, talk trash, and laugh about it later. Even losing didn’t seem so bad. With online gaming now, the lack of a person to play face-to-face with just makes a lot of people act 12 even if they’re 30… With the prevalence of online gaming, it seems we’ve started missing out on one of my favorite kinds of gaming: two player games…the kind you play when you’re actually IN the same room as your player two.
When I first started home-gaming this was THE way to play many games — my favorite of which was the side-scrolling beat ‘em up. My best friend Mike and I (friends for over 20 years) became good friends during games of Streets of Rage 2, Street Fighter II, and Final Fight. My lovely but vicious RevPub counterpart, Raven, and I played the new Double Dragon Neon and proved how effective we could be as a fighting team, as well as a writing team. You learn a lot about the people you play with during the course of these games. I submit that you can tell whether someone could be a good friend, fair-weather friend, or mortal enemy based on how they behave during a side-scrolling beat ‘em up. It’s the basics of life in a microcosm of 16-bit simulation. Here are some benefits to playing these games with perspective friends, co-workers, mates, whatever. It’s a great relationship barometer. So just some basic thoughts on finding (and being) a good player 2 in a beat ’em up world:
Cardinal Rule of two-player side scrolling beat ’em ups: NO friendly fire! Working as a team is pretty easy. You can even do team moves, but you start punching me on purpose in the game someone’s getting hurt out of game!
1.) Does everyone share the Found Food? There’s really an etiquette to this. Found food power ups go to the person with the lowest health, or failing that, the one with the weakest constitution (usually the girl or kid character…sorry PC people) if a player rushes in to take that roast turkey when you’re in the red and they’ve got nearly full yellow they might be the “out for themselves” type.
2.) Similarly, how are found weapons treated? Did you know weapons can be found EVERYWHERE? Trash cans, mail boxes, phone booths; everything hides a weapon. Two players with weapons are a juggernaut of insurmountable proportions. Beware the second player who drops his or her pipe (thereby maybe making it mysteriously vanish) to grab the recently found sword rather than keeping his pipe so you can have the sword and making a stronger team.
3.) A good friend won’t leave you in the midst of a multithug pummeling. Even if it means taking half the damage, the idea behind two player co-op is twice the enemies, twice the damage. Good player twos are there to thrash and get thrashed in turn right there with you.
4.) If player two ever says “Ok, I’ll let them target me…it’ll give you the chance to take them out…” they’re a keeper. We all need more friends like these. As long as they don’t hog all your shared continues…
Shiva…anyone willing take take hits from this guy for you is a true friend…
5.) Real friends will avenge your untimely demise by viciously beating your assailant into blinking pixels. If you drop dead from a well-placed punch, kick, pipe, sword, barrel, whatever, a good player two should turn into Wolverine in a berserker rage and, in the words of Mack from, Predator cut your name into them!
With Wil Wheaton’s Table Top bringing tabletop gaming back into vogue, I can only hope Felicia/Ryon Day’s show Co-Optitude can do the same for playing video games in person!