Monday, January 21, 2013

Let's Play Co-op NES Games

I had an itch that needed to be scratched. It was the co-op NES game itch. So, without telling him what we were going to play, I invited my friend over for some games. Somewhat surprisingly, there were a lot of co-op NES games to choose from, especially among beat 'em ups and shoot 'em ups. I decided to go with two I was familiar with and one that I hadn't really played before. Also, I recorded our experiences for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Chip 'N Dale: Rescue Rangers 2
This game is impressive for its time and still a joy to play today. It's got your usual platforming, but you can also pick up and throw objects like in Super Mario Bros. 2, hide in boxes like in Metal Gear Solid, and ride in minecarts like in Donkey Kong Country. There aren't that many levels, but each level introduces entirely new graphics, music, enemies, and subtle gameplay mechanics which are often used only once. It's really cool to see new things introduced so often and for them to be implemented so well. The settings for each level aren't the usual platforming game levels either; instead of grassy areas, deserts, frozen tundras, and lava levels, you'll run through an oversized restaurant, clock tower, sewer, wild west, and others. Of course, what makes this game even better is the simultaneous co-op, which feels like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, way before that even came out. There are plenty of ways to interact with your partner too: you can jump on them, pick them up and throw them, and even attack them if you wanted to. It's super fun and all of these things together make Chip 'N Dale 2 really feel ahead of its time.

Bubble Bobble
Bubble Bobble isn't exactly bursting with a variety of content like Chip 'N Dale was, but that's alright because it has solid and fun core gameplay and over 100 levels to enjoy it in. And it's also like six years older than Chip 'N Dale 2. In fact, it's a port of an arcade game. In each level, all you have to do is shoot bubbles at the enemies to capture them, then pop the bubbles to kill them. If you don't do it fast enough, they'll get angry and move faster, and if you're still too slow, an invincible enemy (that scared me as a kid) will appear to motivate you further. Apart from the normal bubbles you can shoot, there are also special bubbles that float around certain stages that can drop fire, shoot lightning bolts, or send you shooting down the stage when popped. Once again, playing with a friend makes everything more fun. It's also nice that this game has unlimited continues and passwords for each level that aren't annoyingly long. If you manage to get to the end, there is even a secret ending to go for if you think you're skilled enough. Even though this game is quite old, it's still unique and fun to play.

Ouch. My friend and I didn't do nearly as well at Contra as we did in the other games. And that's saying something, because we did pretty badly at the other games too. This game is hard, so it's no wonder it made the Konami code famous. It didn't take us long to resort to the free thirty lives the code gave either. Though we still didn't make it far, it definitely seemed like the kind of game that would be really fun to play if you were good at it. The best things about it were its fast pace, the ability to shoot in eight directions, and the plentiful weapon upgrades. Unfortunately for us, if you die, you lose the weapon upgrades, so we were limited to feeling awesome for only seconds at a time. The stages seemed to be divided into side-scrolling platforming stages and third person tunnel stages. The controls for platforming were wonderful and easy to use, but the tunnel levels were a bit less intuitive and had a bit of a learning curve. For us, those levels were less fun and often resulted in deaths due to misunderstanding the controls and graphics. Even though I did pretty badly and would've liked to see more platforming stages, I can't deny that what I saw of Contra seemed to be a great game. But if you're playing it for the first time, don't expect to be a master from the start; this game is Nintendo hard.

That's all for this week, but if you have any recommendations for more co-op NES games you'd like to see us play, let me know in the comments and you could see them in a future post.
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