Editorial | 4/2/2009 at 11:08 AM

Co-Op Couples: Demo Date Night


Every couple needs to add some variety to their life now and again.  Maybe try a new restaurant, take dancing lessons, host a dinner party, whatever.  Your gaming life is no different.   You’ve survived the zombocalypse, fought off the Horde and left a trail of Legos a mile long in your wake.  Then one day you ask your partner if she wants fire up one of the old standards, but you’re met with a rousing “Meh.” 

We all know money’s tight. Even if you’re willing to drop some cash, maybe there isn’t anything you know you’re interested in.  What’s an adventurous couple to do?  Queue up a Demo Date Night! 

Most people view demos as just a chance to check out a game before they buy it.  Tam and I have discovered that a night of demos can be just as much fun as any retail game.  And demos are easier to get than ever, thanks to digital distribution.  The Xbox 360, PS3 and PCs are particularly friendly to setting up such a night.  Unfortunately, I don’t know about the availability of demos on the Wii.

"We really need to start exercising, hon."


The beauty of doing a demo night is that you aren’t committed to any one game.  As each demo has its own built-in limit, you have a natural reason to move onto the next one.  If either of you hate a game, bam, onto the next one without a worry.  Think of it as speed dating, the video game edition.  Even some of the really horrible Community Games become fun as you laugh at them together, trying to figure out what the developer was thinking. 

There’s a secret bonus to a demo date night too.  If you have problems getting your partner to try a particular genre of game, the demo night will be the perfect excuse to slide a game in front of her that she normally would refuse to play.  It works both ways too.  Tam got me to try Feeding Frenzy 2 , the kind of title I would scoff at.  I got her to bite on N+, something she would normally flee from screaming.  If you’re setting it up without the other person’s input, try to mix things up a bit so you both have some games to get excited about. 

Microsoft makes the job of queuing up your demos the easiest.  Just sign into your Live account and start adding demos to your queue.  The next time you fire up the 360, the demos will start piling up on your hard drive.  Just make sure you’ve cleared some space off in advance if you’re stuck with a 20GB like me.  The PS3 is a little more time consuming, as you’ll have to do it all from within the console.  I suggest downloading all the demos in advance, particularly if you are grabbing any retail demos. 


The main frustration with a demo night is that too many developers lock co-op in game demos.  To give you a head start, here are some that I know include co-op in the demo:


Xbox 360 

Interpol: The Trail of Dr. Chaos (XBLA)
Castle Crashers (XBLA)
Schizoid (XBLA)
Dokee and the Musical Rain (Community Game, purely for laughs)
LEGO Batman (Retail)
Army of Two (Retail)
Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise (Retail)



1942: Joint Strike (PSN)
Bionic Commando: ReArmed (PSN)
PixelJunk Monsters (PSN)
Monster Madness: Grave Danger (Retail)
Resident Evil 5 (Retail)
Rocketmen: Axis of Evil (PSN)
The Simpsons (Retail)


By the end of the night, you’ll have had a good time hanging out together exploring some games you wouldn’t normally play.  If you get lucky, maybe you’ll find a gem that will make you want to play more the next night too.