Co-Op Couples: Pass and Play

11/6/2009 at 5:08 AM

Remember the TurboGrafx 16? The stupid console only had one controller slot! I learned how to "Pass and Play" very early on, thanks to a golf game that allowed up to four players to play against each other on a one-port machine.

Although I spent a lot of time sharing the controller, I never really got used to it. The worst part about Pass and Play co-op is the waiting. Holy cow, does it ever get boring. At some point, I decided to make better use of the time in between play sessions: while my brother took his turn, I'd go get some Pop Tarts. What started out as a quick snack run, however, turned into what is essentially the gamer's commercial break. I found myself coming back with full plates of barbecue, taking long-distance phone calls, and - on one occasion - running an errand.

Fifteen years later, my wife interrupts me while I'm browsing through the Nintendo Wii Virtual Arcade.

"Ooh! Super Mario World. Buy that!"

So I bought it. Now, before you bring out the whipped jokes, I'd like to see any of you refrain from buying a timelessly fun classic video game that your spouse would play with you. Yeah...that's what I thought.

For the most part, everything went fine. I downloaded Super Mario World...we booted it up...we played, one turn at a time. Until we got to that stupid secret 1up area.

So instead of just taking a turn playing a level, each player now has the opportunity to literally stack up more lives that anyone's probably ever used in a lifetime of playing. If you thought it was tedious getting fifty 1ups in a row...trying watching someone else do it.

Right around 1up number nineteen or so, my old habits kicked in; I made myself a sandwich. On my wife's next turn after that, I typed a news post on Co-Optimus. It wasn't very long before I was changing the oil in my truck, paying the bills, and planning world domination between turns.

Then:
"Ooooh! You got Yoshi!"

And with a roll of the eyes, I'm handing the controller away on my turn. So I took out the garbage. Then washed some dishes and grabbed a bag of Doritos. Coming back up the stairs, I heard that my wife was still playing her turn. I headed back down and changed the baby's diaper.

After my third trip up the stairs I was finally able to play, and of course: I blew it. One Bullet Bill got through. Crap.


Time to walk the dog!

Pass and Play co-op is unique in that you both only progress as fast as the best player. On one hand, it can be said that one person is carrying the team...on the other, each player's strengths will come out and can be used to push through what might be an otherwise torturous level.

At our house, stuff gets done when we swap 'Splosion Man for Super Mario World for one night. Vacuuming...cooking...you name it - we've probably done it during Pass and Play sessions at some point. And it's funny to see how things have progressed as we get older. Fifteen years ago, I'd be making popcorn while waiting; now, I'm rummaging through the attic for holiday decorations.

Uh-oh. If you'll excuse me, I think I hear the wife calling...it must be my turn to play!