Why Couch-Coop still matters

As I matured as a gamer, I've seen a lot of changes in the last three decades of video games. But one of the most profound experience is still manifested in kids from the 90s - the local multiplayer or as we call it today: Couch-Coop. 

Without a doubt, the biggest impact of the coop experience was made by Nintendo with their 4-player game Mario Kart. To this day, people have their N64 ready to go when friends come over and want to do something together. Albeit video games are still a stigma for many people, who would prefer the outside world. 

As the internet came along and became more and more mainstream, things like LAN-parties or local coop almost were extinguished. No completely of course but you know what I mean.

Fast forward almost 20 years, and esports are a worldwide phenomenon, the attention that Twitch or Youtube get is incredible. We see professional gamers playing together on a stage while the whole world watches online. 

Call me nostalgic, but I enjoy playing in the same room as others. Games like Mario Kart, Mario Party, Halo 1-4, Metal Slug, Chaos Engine... and whatever else comes to mind. I still play local coop with friends; it doesn't matter what console or how good or bad the graphics are, it is the comradery that comes along with it. Yes, you can play a lot of games cooperatively online with friends, but most multiplayer are more than just two players, and you have to endure the current generation of cursing, hyperactive kids and so on. If you suddenly have to play with the rest of the world, it can be fun, but it is mostly wishful thinking in my experience.

I cherish a good round of Super Smash Brothers with my friends to this day and not because I want to win tournaments, I want to crush my friends and look into their eyes and say "I'm the best" (insert Toads victory scream from Mario Kart 64 here). 

This is the reason why I'm excited for the upcoming Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch. The Switch, unlike the other current gen consoles, is built on cooperation, hell, people are playing The Breath of the Wild with two people, each holding a joy-con. But now we will be able to play the best Mario Kart ever in a room, on the go or at parties and you just hand people a controller and the fun begins. 

To clarify a bit more, I do enjoy a good local coop round on my PS4 playing Alienation or Diablo 3, no argument here. But in my experience, most "non-Nintendo" games are hard to grasp for casual players. Someone who is not familiar with controlling two 360 degree thumb sticks is lost in their effort to shoot aliens while dodging, aiming, shooting and using special powers at the same time. And this is a point that Nintendo has always done right. Their games are easy to get into and to learn. Seldom you have to use more than 2-3 buttons to be able to play. This is for me the quintessence of local coop gaming, easy to learn and hard to master. 

This is the edge that I see with the Nintendo Switch in the current market; it is not about the graphic, the entertainment apps or the controller, it is about human interaction and the fun you can have with people in the same room. Although you can have this experience with the other consoles as well, I think Nintendo is the only one embracing this mindset and still bringing people together to play their games. 

Thanks for reading!

Sebastian

Photo credits: www.nintendo.com