There’s something uniquely cute about the Couch Co-Op experience. For me, it’s something that’s been a staple of my life ever since my early childhood. Some of my fondest childhood memories were made on that old blue couch that my Dad sold in a garage sale some five summers ago, booting up the PS2 next to some of my best friends, and going at it together in the PS2 Battlefront titles and Destroy All Humans 2’s Split Screen mode. There’s a lot of laughs to be had, both inside of the game and out: One of my favorite things to do in Battlefront when I was younger was to try to pause the game at really cinematic moments, to capture heroic “Screenshots” of my character or my friend’s character blowing through enemies, long before games had official integrated “Screenshot” modes that allowed for camera adjustment and exporting shots straight to social media.
Now, as a more mature gamer, I tend to opt for more complex couch Co-Op experiences such as the dark, intense grounds of HELLDIVERS or the spectacle absurdity of Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow Of New Despair. These games have a lot of elements to them that go far further than anything the classic Battlefronts could offer, at least at a mechanical level. And I’ll usually play them with someone who, like myself, is a seasoned gamer. There’s a good bit of talk before every mission on strategy, on routing, some bursts of yelling and cursing at one another or at the game, and a quaint calm after missions where we collect our upgraded gear and prep for the next outing.
But there’s a bit element these titles are missing: The joy. And that’s fine, because I don’t go to these games for childlike, pure joy. I’ve got the LEGO games for that.
I didn’t mention LEGO games above because I was talking about titled that I USED to play in my youth, or games that I NOW play in my 20’s. I’ve never stopped playing LEGO games. And I sort of hope I never do.
Normally, couch Co-Op games require both participants to be of equal-ish skill level. If they’re not, the less skilled player will get confused and frustrated, or the more skilled player will get bored and frustrated. This doesn’t happen with LEGO games. LEGO games are, as far as I’m concerned, a whole different beast. They invoke the most primal desires a video game could encorage you to achieve. These desires include…
- WRECK THINGS
- COLLECT ALL THE BITTIE THINGS
- WATCH YOUR NUMBER OF BITTIE THINGS GET REAL BIG REAL FAST
- DISCOVER NEW AREAS
- UNLOCK LOTS OF THINGS
- SMASH THOSE UNLOCKED THINGS INTO OTHER UNLOCKED THINGS
- BUILD AWESOME THINGS THEN WRECK THEM FOR MORE THINGS
- Solve interesting and unique puzzles using a variety of interesting characters to unlock new and interesting bonuses that really add something to the game experience.
- WRECK MORE THINGS
All in all, LEGO games provide a uniquely human experience. Wrap that into the settings, which are all licensed and easy-to-understand titles, and you’ve got a fun virtual playground that you can boot up and enjoy with literally anyone willing to take the time to sit down with you. I’ve played these games with past partners, baby cousins, older cousins, my dad (Who until that point hadn’t touched anything other than solitare) and there wasn’t a single person who didn’t instantly latch on to the action unfolding before them. And as developer TT games continues to manage to cram more and more interesting features and unlockables into every new title, I’ll be waiting for baited breath until the release date of every single one.
For my sake and for the sake of many others, I hope TT Games keeps the LEGO coming for a long, long time.