The start of any relationship, dating or friendship, is always an exciting time. Here’s a whole new person that’s entered into your life, and you into his or hers, and there’s so much to learn about them. Do they share any of your interests? Do they like some of the same games/movies/music that you like? Do they like pina coladas and possibly getting caught in a sudden downpour of precipitation? Ok, so maybe that last one isn’t quite as applicable, but for a gamer, especially a co-op gamer, what is applicable is this: do they play video games and will they play said video games with me?
A little while back, I started dating someone whom, for the sake of making things easy, we’ll just refer to as “H.” We met through a friend of ours that was eager to fix us two crazy kids up, and, fortunately, we hit it off pretty well. Now H lives about 3 hours away from me, so getting together during the week for dinner or a movie or hitting up the local discotheque was out of the question. Ok, no problem, there was always the possibility that she owned an Xbox or a PS3 or a PC and played video games, right? I mean, surely, my friend, who knows that I write for a gaming website dedicated to cooperative gaming, would set me up with someone that games, right? “Well, I have a Wii, but I don’t really play it all that often.”
Dead Island - a fun game, but maybe not the best choice as a "first co-op game"
All right, so maybe H doesn’t game, but that really wasn’t a big deal. She was cool with the fact that I do and that I write about it, so that’s all that was really important. Shortly after meeting, we hung out at my apartment for a bit. My game collection isn’t quite as extensive or vast as some, but I can’t really hide it either. So, naturally, I get asked about what types of game I play and which was my favorite. Ok, there was interest, another good sign.
Unfortunately, we had to head over to our friends’ place for the Super Bowl before I could figure out if there was a co-op game we could play. As fate would have it, though, our friends suggested that we play a video game to help pass the time until the game. They had all the major consoles, and a few co-op titles for each. What, though, would we play? What game could accommodate four players and would be something casual enough that everyone could play? As they started listing off titles, I had a sudden brain flash. “You still have Dr. Mario,” I asked. “YEAH,” they enthusiastically replied.
Dr. Mario Online does offer up a four-player co-op mode, but our friends only had two Wii-motes. Fortunately, the Dr. Mario Virus Buster mode wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. Some time back when I was hanging out with a much larger group of friends, I had the idea of making the normally competitive Vs mode a bit more cooperative. When playing Dr. Mario on the Wii, half of the Wiimote is used to move the descending pills back and forth, while the other half rotates them. I thought it would be fun to have two people pair up and have one person control the pill movement while the other controls its rotation. Turns out it was, and this situation presented an excellent opportunity to revive that particular style of gameplay.
Sure it looks competitive, but there's plenty of coperative gaming to be had
We fired up the game, set it to the hardest difficulty, and paired off: our two friends, and H and me. “I’m not all that good,” she said. “That’s ok,” I answered with a smile, “Winning isn’t the point.” And it wasn’t. Within a few seconds of play, we were all shouting, laughing, and having a good time. No one was keeping track of the score, or worried about who made what mistake; we were just concerned with staying alive longer than 5 seconds. Amidst the cries of, “TURN IT THE OTHER WAY,” and, “DROP IT NOW,” came the realization that this was our first co-op game together. It may not have been the traditional form of co-op gaming that Co-Optimus usually focuses on, or even the most cooperative game we could have chosen, but, we were still working together to overcome something (and working pretty well, if I do say so myself).
I don’t rightly remember which couple ended up surviving the most matches the longest, and like I said, none of us were keeping score. What I do remember is the fun we had, and I wasn’t the only one. As we were saying our goodbyes, H said to me, “I had a lot of fun playing that game with you.” “Yeah,” I replied, “Well, maybe we’ll have to do more games in the future.” “Maybe we will,” she said with a smile.
To paraphrase Bogey: “This could be the start of a beautiful co-op relationship.”