There’s little else more likeable in gaming than local co-op — grabbing a few controllers and a group of friends is a joy and certainly worth celebrating. From party games to racers to infuriating puzzle-platformers, Edge writers have come together to tell us their favourite titles to play with a friend or two.
If there is any racing series that has continued to destroy friendships in only two minutes, then Mario Kart is surely the best and the most competitive. For any first-timer it dons the sweetly innocent appearance of a fun racing game featuring Mario and his buddies, before swiftly removing this façade to reveal an absolute bloodbath (PEGI 3) that sends every type of gamer into full meltdown. A key factor for great multiplayer is accessibility and Mario Kart champions this as, arguably, newcomers and experienced drivers are at an equal (except if someone picks Yoshi with fast acceleration), no less due to quick learning through simple controls but also thanks to the iconic items deployed against opponents during races. Bullet bills and invincible stars allow laggers to catch up, while shells and bananas differ from useless tools to menacing landmines and lifesavers. And then there is the blue shell, an item that is either the definition of schadenfreude or, to put mildly, a total piece of shit. As you race round the last corner in 1st place and see the finish line, your friend next to you forms a wicked smile over their face. You know what comes next: the dreaded whooshing noise, the beeping alert and then… WHAM! Your kart flies into the air and you hear the soundtrack of gloated cheers from your friends as they smugly overtake you and cross the line. It’s joyful, frustrating, possibly unfair, but it’s hellishly addicting.
Human: Fall Flat
If you’re looking for a great game to jump on local play with your mates, look no further than Human: Fall Flat. A simple premise, you play as blob-esque characters (all named Bob) that flop about unless carefully controlled by you, the player, with a handset and a fair bit of determination and patience. As these floppy little creatures, you solve puzzles in a platform-based series of worlds, ranging from a construction site to a medieval castle to an oil rig. Every level is open ended, giving the player the opportunity to get through them however they may want, taking logical routes or just going ham and trying whatever you can to make it to that sweet exit sign. There are also Easter eggs and secrets hidden throughout, making each replay an even more enriching experience. It’s a hilarious game to play by yourself, but even more so with your friends; the physics of it are equally frustrating and entertaining. Nothing really beats spending an age setting up the ending of a puzzle only to miscalculate a jump and fall into oblivion.
Move over FIFA 20, NBA 2K19 is in town! NBA 2K19 is a lot like every FIFA game except instead of the main sport being football, it’s basketball. The reason this game is even better is due to the non-stop action and ability to make each quarter extremely short or extremely long; you have 10 minutes til your mate’s cab arrives but want to play a quick game? 2K19 has you covered. You can make the game an average of 1 minute long – this doesn’t include free throws, timeouts or foul times. It is a great game to play with mates who want to understand the game of basketball more but also want to test out cool jump shots which is so much more entertaining to re-watch than football. You are also able to play All-Star teams from each main team. For example, Chicago Bulls All-Stars consists of players such as Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Michael Jordan. It is great fun and even has a street edition so you can play street basketball with no rules and special moves. Everyone loves a bit of competition with their mates and this game can make or break friendships!
Games in which you attack your opponents using a mixture of combinations will always be a successful recipe for a couch game. Gang Beasts takes this formula to the next level by making the player’s customisable character a rag doll. On paper, it looks like a video game designed for young children or early teens – however, I can assure at 21 years old, me and all my friends are obsessed with this unique beat ’em up game. What makes the game so entertaining is that deep down I believe nobody really has a clue what they’re doing. The button commands to perform a combination attack or even throw your opponent seems so hard to execute that my friends and I class winning down to luck the majority of time; maybe we all just suck. With a variety of maps which are all destructible, you may choose to be brave and go and attack your friends by spamming punch or try and climb up the wall and hope the map doesn’t fall apart at your feet. Any game plan you have usually goes out the window when playing Gang Beasts but one thing that is guaranteed is a barrel of laughs.
While it certainly loses points for its small number of participants, Mario Party is undeniably one of the best Mario games and definitely the best to play with others. It takes the classic enjoyment of rolling a dice with the added bonus of exciting 3D visuals and interactive minigames. Mario Party is an absolute classic, whether on the DS or the Switch, with many nights both youthful and now having been spent staring at the screen, crying for justice against Bowser, and laughing along with friends. The reason why Mario Party is such a good choice for a co-op couch game is simply because it’s the best. There are no parts that you wish you can skip, no parts that you wish you didn’t have to do (I’m talking about Mario Kart‘s Rainbow Road), and every person gets their own chance to play without the worry of falling behind and needing to give up. It encourages its players to embody Mario and have a party, and there’s really nothing more that you can ask for.