268: Real-Life Sidekick

Real-Life Sidekick

Co-operative play isn't usually about hero and sidekick playing together, but Ryan Smith shows how the sidekick feature in Super Mario Galaxy 2 is perfect for him and his casual gamer girlfriend.

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Would gamers really enjoy playing the role of the ineffectual Otacon, ferreting out information by hacking computer networks and uploading it to Snake's codec?

I'm sorry, but that would be an awesome game! If they released it as 2 seperate games with their own single player (one a 3rd person shooter, one a hacker sim) and they can then link up to play a hard version where one person sneaks around and the other hacks for information, turns off cameras etc.

Great tale as well. I think the reason it hasn't been done more in the past is because designers doubt people will be happy to play anything less then the main character which is why any game where people play co-op you either have them being identical (Army of Two, Halo etc) or attempts to make them as balanced as possible (Boarderlands). The only game I can think of that changes this is TF2 and the Medic. If you sign up to be a medic in TF2 you generally accept you're going to be spending the entire game cleaning other peoples messes and not directly kill anyone.

She would then like Jet Force gemini on the N64 where the second player in Co-Op would seer a second Crosshair and just shoot, taking the role of the Drone you would find in the game.

Is it wrong that I think he sounds like he's talking about his pet dog? Don't get me wrong, it was a good article, but it was kinda funny and sort of worked when I imagined he was talking about his dog.

I wish more games had this kind of asymmetric co-op experience. Rock Band is another notable one, although it still gives rise to feelings of inferiority when you're banging away at Drums For Idiots while Will powerslides across the floor.

I have to admit, when I started this article I didn't really 'get' Amanda.

I've tried the secondary position in SMG2 and found it Dullsville because, to me, there simply wasn't enough to do.

By the end of your article, not only do I have a new appreciation for just WHO these types of co-op features could be aimed at but also how they could change for the non-newbies.

Co-operative. Two or more people co-operating to achieve one or more goals.
How did I forget that the most enjoyable way to do that was differently?

So do we have the processing power to run a game where two characters are both working independently of each other in different areas of the same world? Meeting up if they choose or if needed, but otherwise doing their own things. (Fable comes to mind. How awesome would it be to compete for the worship (or fear) of the masses? To be on the same broad side without being forced to be best friends?)

I wouldn't mind loading screens if I could do that.

Hell, I wouldn't mind running the game on two separate MACHINES hooked into each other if I could!

The co-op experience in SMG (I've only played 1 so far) is the only co-op experience I have ever enjoyed.

Years ago, I played as the "passive" helper when my then-boyfriend was making his first trek through Super Mario Galaxy, and I was delighted that I could be involved in gaming with him without actually being responsible for screwing up his plans, since he was a much more experienced gamer than I was.

Now, I'm a moderately experienced gamer, and I'm playing through Super Mario Galaxy with a friend. This time I'm playing as Mario, and my friend is the sidekick, and though I offer to switch with him every time, he insists that he enjoys the lower-pressure experience. When he was playing Portal, I sat next to him and was essentially the unequal sidekick, helping him solve puzzles while he handled the timing and maneuvers.

If anything, I think these sorts of co-op experiences are the gateway drugs that can lead newbie gamers in deeper.

And one more reason to love unequal co-op: Since the game can be played without the helper partner, there's no pressure to wait for the helper to feel like playing the game/be available to play/whatever. The helper can drift in and out of the game hour-by-hour or session-by-session without screwing over their partner.

I think this is an interesting direction for gaming to go in. Clearly there is an audience for co-op experiences where one player handles a certain set of skills (platforming, precise timing) and another assists with something else-grabbing items or doing some other function.

It might be a niche area but I think it's one worth exploring, especially as a gateway for new players of any age.

My wife and I play Super Mario Galaxy 2 in this exact same way, and it's actually the most mutual fun we've ever had in a video game. She actually really gets into being the orange luma, and sometimes complains for me to "stop doing her job" when I catch a star bit before her, or stomp an enemy before she can defeat it.

I often invite her to try being player 1, but she gets very stressed out. There's simply too much for an inexperienced gamer to keep track of. As player 2, she has just enough to do without getting frazzled. For this type of co-op relationship, Super Mario Galaxy probably is the perfect game.

I think it'd work out easier if the level that the sidekick was involved was something you could customize. If you're trying to involve (lure!) your friend into the game, start them off with the low-pressure sidekick mode, and keep them there if they want. Or you can move them up so they're more equal to you once they get the hang of it.

That also makes the same game just as much fun to two players who both know what they're doing to begin with.

I think this concept has almost been done before, with mixed results. Two that come to mind include:

Lucky & Wild, a Starsky & Hutch-esque arcade rail-shooter/driving game where Player 1 had to both drive the car and shoot, but Player 2 just had to shoot things (although that link lists some "unofficial" ways around that).

Spy Hunter 2 (the 2003 console version, not the 80s arcade version). Player 1 drove the Interceptor and fired most of the weapons, but you could add a second player who would control a gun turret on the Interceptor and provide some fire support. Unfortunately, the game overall was garbage.

You could take this SMG2 idea and apply it to something more "hardcore": how about a third-person platformer or shooter where player 1 is the onscreen protagonist, and player 2 is the offscreen sniper who provides fire-support. Player 2 can focus on taking out some of the enemies to prevent player 1 from getting overrun, without having to worry about their own life meter or whatever.

I think the lego games do this fairly well also, taking into mind the 'drop in drop out' mechanic. The games are pretty all-ages friendly to begin with, but co-op is a blast with almost anyone; if a player gets frustrated or overwhelmed, they can drop out for a minute, then jump back in once the obstacle is cleared.

Plinglebob:

Would gamers really enjoy playing the role of the ineffectual Otacon, ferreting out information by hacking computer networks and uploading it to Snake's codec?

I'm sorry, but that would be an awesome game! If they released it as 2 seperate games with their own single player (one a 3rd person shooter, one a hacker sim) and they can then link up to play a hard version where one person sneaks around and the other hacks for information, turns off cameras etc.

Great tale as well. I think the reason it hasn't been done more in the past is because designers doubt people will be happy to play anything less then the main character which is why any game where people play co-op you either have them being identical (Army of Two, Halo etc) or attempts to make them as balanced as possible (Boarderlands). The only game I can think of that changes this is TF2 and the Medic. If you sign up to be a medic in TF2 you generally accept you're going to be spending the entire game cleaning other peoples messes and not directly kill anyone.

I agree; playing as Otacon could be pretty fun if done right. Make the hacking mechanic interesting enough, and I think you'll find a sizable number of people willing to be the "hacker" to Snake's "action dude". Someone's gotta bypass security locks and find the useful information!

I'm definitely not a casual gamer, but I love SMG2 for the same reasons Amanda does. I like taking part without having to be that involved in it. We're playing together, but if I feel like just sitting back and watching, that's totally ok, too. I'll admit there are times my fingers itch to grab the Wii Remote out of Player 1's hands, but for the most part I'm happy to just help in small ways. It's a fun, but less intense, way to share a gaming experience with my sweetheart.

My kids love to be the co-star when I play SMG2 or their big brother does. I don't mind helping them, either, it is nice to be able to contribute a bit rather than just watch the other player.

Hey Ryan Smith, here's an idea. Instead of making your girlfriend sufer through complicated 3D games (because they are) and making her watch you play in SMG2, why not play TOGETHER in NSMBWii? Or do you fear that her ineptitude will hinder you ZOMGAwsome gaming skills and your progress? Teach her, put her in the GAME not inthe SIDELINES. That, my friend is where SMG2 fails in co-op.

MasterV:
Hey Ryan Smith, here's an idea. Instead of making your girlfriend sufer through complicated 3D games (because they are) and making her watch you play in SMG2, why not play TOGETHER in NSMBWii? Or do you fear that her ineptitude will hinder you ZOMGAwsome gaming skills and your progress? Teach her, put her in the GAME not inthe SIDELINES. That, my friend is where SMG2 fails in co-op.

I wanted to reply to this because coincidentally my wife and I have played both SMG2 and NSMBWii. She can't stand being Mario in SMG2 but loves being the Luma. In NSMBWii we were able to make it all the way to World 3 (!) before she basically gave up in frustration at the difficulty. I had no problem waiting for her, but more often than not we were finishing levels with her being left with zero lives, watching from the sidelines. Either that, or she would ride the bubble through 90% of a level while I played. She was frustrated at feeling like she was "holding me back" and we ended up finishing the game with her simply watching me play rather than playing along. She enjoyed it better that way.

Simply put, some people get frustrated at the challenge, and actually do not want to step up their game. They just want to play and and some good, clean old fashioned fun.

Wow, few points to make here, let's make them snappy, I suppose. The co-op in SMG2 is fun even for the practiced of thumb and finger, if you swap out. An advanced group of players can co-operate like very few other games will allow, especially in the later stages, purple coin runs, and green star nabs. The Mario player can focus on the primary objective, while the Luma player can collect power-ups (and hold them over Mario's behatted head, if they're feeling pesky), coins, and stars. Coordinating between players of "going for the coins on the left" or "holding the platform, go ahead and jump" allows for some carefully managed successful platforming, and there are plenty of occasions where it's needed. Alone and with a bud, Co-star mode has a lot of depth to it, especially when in the hands of the experienced players, and is still highly experiential to the newcomers who want to get a taste of the action, but aren't as used to the complex jump mechanics. And, if the first player ever gets too cocky, the second can always hold an enemy, then release at an inopportune moment, knocking Mario's plumber ass out into space, while throwing a smug look at player one.

Phew, okay, second point.

MasterV:
Hey Ryan Smith, here's an idea. Instead of making your girlfriend sufer through complicated 3D games (because they are) and making her watch you play in SMG2, why not play TOGETHER in NSMBWii? Or do you fear that her ineptitude will hinder you ZOMGAwsome gaming skills and your progress? Teach her, put her in the GAME not inthe SIDELINES. That, my friend is where SMG2 fails in co-op.

I've encountered this point before, and I'll present the same argument here. The difference is that NSMBWii requires a lot of skill beyond a certain point, whether it be the timing, the foreknowledge of platforming tropes, or the intense coordination among players to achieve the goal, especially if you venture beyond more than two players. Since the lady in question seems to not be as familiar with the tricks and traps of the games, it's gonna be harder for her. In SMG2, she can get the full experience, take stabs at the puzzles, and confront the enemies without having to go through the grind of learning the tricks and feats that the more experienced gamers have learned. Remember, what we know is part memory and part experience, and the new gamers have little to none of either. Giving them that opportunity to play the game, getting a little better, is a good step towards getting them to understand more about how to play. Learning the methods and means are a little more complicated, and require a gradual curve. Daredevil running the Grandmaster galaxy, for instance, will not happen the first time you pick up the controller. That takes help, concentration, and focus, and those things all require knowing how to game. Conversely, getting there, learning how to long-jump-wall-kick-wall-kick-spin to reach a star, that's where the game shines in teaching the players (a move which, or a slight variant thereof, is asked of you in the later levels and stages of NSMBWii, without ever telling you that that's what you'll need to do).

Okay, last point, for sake of a tip of a hat.

Hulyen:
I think the lego games do this fairly well also, taking into mind the 'drop in drop out' mechanic. The games are pretty all-ages friendly to begin with, but co-op is a blast with almost anyone; if a player gets frustrated or overwhelmed, they can drop out for a minute, then jump back in once the obstacle is cleared.

This is a fantastic point. They might seem childlike and kiddy, but the Lego games of recent fame are a great way to introduce her to some well-rounded, steadily and fairly progressive platforming. It'll start easy, and work it's way up to being more complicated the more you play. Never the most challenging, and great fun to play with someone who doesn't have the experience at gaming. Lego Indiana Jones or Star Wars are great, because if she's familiar with the movies even slightly, she'll laugh and have fun at the cute graphics and animations, while having fun with the challenges that they present.

This reiterates a point Susan made on her column some ages ago: games are fucking hard. We can only figure out how to navigate our avatars through a 3D environment using two thumbsticks because we grew into it. My mom thinks Mario Kart: Double Dash!!! is hard (compared to Mario Kart 64) and she's probably right.

Does anyone remember Tails in Sonic Two? Or Floyd in Jet force Gemini, I would think these were comparable examples of 'player two' having a slightly easier time of it, but still being able to get involved, and even being helpful.

Co-star is interesting, although playing through SMG2 with my girlfriend just left me kinda cold to it; when she successfully halted enemies and grabbed items, the difficulty was reduced to the point that I no longer found the game challenging. It reduced my interest in the play experience, because enemies froze before I got to them, items in out-of-the-way spots were snapped up...

...on the other hand, it meant there was an unpredictable star cursor whooshing round the screen when I'm trying to do precision platforming (especially in the lategame), starbits unexpectedly fly across the screen (often until I have none left, preventing me from stockpiling them to feed hungry lumas), and worst of all freezing enemies mid-jump, so I landed on them face-first and taking damage. Sigh.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/comics/critical-miss/7781-Critical-Miss-14

My experiences are less idyllic than those portrayed in the article, although not quite as extreme as the Critical Miss above. I suppose it works for some gamer pairs, and not for others.

My other criticism is that playing as the Luma does nothing to prepare you for the primary play; it actually takes control over an entirely secondary attack, that's non-essential to completion. A better co-op partner would be something like Tails from Sonic 2; able to perform identical moves to the main character, in the same gamespace, while having infinite lives. Tails' inability to directly interfere with Sonic's movement (a blessing of 2D that looks bizarre in 3D) also helped, even if he could trigger switches and platforms and otherwise indirectly cause problems. That's what I expected Luma to be originally; a floaty star who could move around the gamespace grabbing items and enemies, but floated back up from falls, automatically rejoining Mario when left behind.

This is Ryan Smith, the author of this story.

Wanted to say first off that I'm enjoying a lot of the comments here and I appreciate a lot of the kind words about the story. I also appreciate the fact that The Escapist's readership is so well informed.

Some extra points: I think a couple people made a fair point that their is a similar co-op system in Sonic The Hedgehog 2, but let's face it - it's nearly a 20 year old game and there haven't been many attempts since then to recreate that kind of experience.

Amanda and I have played New Super Mario Bros. Wii - and it worked well for a little while but as another commenter pointed out, the difficulty scales pretty high after this first few worlds and she got extremely frustrated with it after awhile. The fact that you can steal power ups from each other (often accidentally) and get in each others way also can lead to some unpleasant tension.

As far as the Lego games go, the only one we've played together is Harry Potter Lego, and while they're pretty noob friendly, still aren't easy for casual gamers to control and negotiate well in. Plus, at least in the first part of Harry Potter, there's a real dearth of action.

Anyway, thanks again for the feedback.

An interesting read.

Why must everyone play the same game the same way, at either the same, or different times?
I absolutely love the idea of asymmetrical co-op. There are other types of co-op like this if you stretch it out enough to include MMOs. The different classes are not symmetrical, yet still must co-operate to complete a common objective.

Or I could be wrong, let me know if I'm wrong.

This, oddly enough, reminds me of my experience with Kingdom Hearts and KH2.

This may take a little explaining. I tried PLAYING both games, but found them too simplistic for my liking. I enjoy watching them though, and my flatmate adores them with a passion.

Then one day, while watching her in a Gummi Ship section of KH1, I noticed she only ever used unlocked blueprints, and never bothered to make her own ships "It's too complicated - I can't be bothered with it"

So I became her mechanic, designing and building Gummi Ships for her to fly. It gave me more enjoyment in the game, and I share a measure of her success when a new high score is achieved.

In KH2, I've designed more ships than I did for KH1, mainly because my KH1 ship design just got upgrades when more advanced parts became available, whereas KH2 inspired more diversity in the design process.

Kind of the reverse situation, really. I'm more the hardcore gamer, and she's the casual player, but I'm her sidekick for a game we can both enjoy.

This is highly reminiscent of my own experience - except in reverse.

I may be supposed to be the "hardcore" gamer, but in reality, nowadays, that's my wife's job. She's the Galaxy expert. When she passed the controller to me so I could take a stab at it, the game gave me vertigo within two minutes. It was weeks before she'd even let me play co-op, because I'd wail and my stomach would lurch every time Mario would seemingly jump into oblivion in order to land on another planet. But with co-op, I can still be involved while she tears into everything in sight (though sadly I can't help her get that one last star on that evil Luigi Purple Coin level).

Oddly, (to take this in a different direction) despite growing up with an NES controller in my lap, I guess I'm the casual gamer now. World of Warcraft aside, I don't play much, while my wife plays the Wii to death. I hardly touch the Wii, not because I don't like the games but partially because I can't find a remote-and-nunchuck configuration comfortable to my stubborn left-handed self. (And I have interest in buying a supposed "hardcore" console.) If it's not WoW or the Virtual Console, it seems like it's just gotten too complicated for me to feel like putting the effort into learning. I like my old 2D platformers, and so does she - but I guess she's grown with the times more, and I'm the old fart. (And I'm even younger than her too - I guess I just get old fast.)

And we tried NSMBW, and we both hated it. Sure, a multiplayer 2D platformer sounded like gold, but after repeatedly having issues grabbing powerups, keeping up with each other (we both had trouble with that), and endless frustration, we gave up. Haven't touched it for months, and neither of us really care to. What sounded like a great idea when we were ten and playing SMB on the NES turns out to not be such a great idea overall. (And I won't even get into the disgusting laziness of Nintendo just dumping two generic Toads when they could have had interesting characters instead.)

I know this has little to do with co-op, but some people can point out unfortunate implications tied to that boss (i.e., you beat it by smashing it in the dome-shaped crotch)

It's funny how I have never really thought much about asymmetric co-op before now... but it's a great idea. If many AAA titles had an option to do some sort of more simple co-op play, it would be a great way to expand social gaming! I can't think of how many times I have had someone watch me play a game but was too discouraged to play, knowing how difficult it would be. Lots of people who play video games have lots of friends and relatives who don't.

This kind of thing has existed (in some form) in sim games where players might choose a gunner turret in a flight sim and exclusively play that role.

Hell, even back when we were little kids, my little sister would sometimes get tired of trying to beat Super Mario World with me in two player mode. So she'd go back to play some easier levels and then transfer to me the extra lives she'd get. It was more fun for her to help me beat the newer, harder, levels than it was for her to repeatedly die in them. She still got to see the level get passed, and this allowed me to avoid having to do the boring distracting task of refilling my lives.

A lot of single player games have secondary helper NPCs, usually by some kind of radio link back to headquarters. They're mostly used to help explain the plot, but often performing vital tasks for you, too (like say, finding blueprints or opening a door). If you could make that secondary character (optionally) playable, and combine that with more simple (or "casual") gameplay elements, I bet you'd get a lot of people who enjoy playing that position.

Plinglebob:

Would gamers really enjoy playing the role of the ineffectual Otacon, ferreting out information by hacking computer networks and uploading it to Snake's codec?

I'm sorry, but that would be an awesome game! If they released it as 2 seperate games with their own single player (one a 3rd person shooter, one a hacker sim) and they can then link up to play a hard version where one person sneaks around and the other hacks for information, turns off cameras etc.

I've not played it myself, but there was a game that did something like that called Lifeline (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lifeline_%28video_game%29). It was a 3rd person survival game where the main character you would normally be controlling responded to your voice commands instead, while you played the role of someone trapped in the control room, able to view the world through security cameras, reading and hacking files and so on. A proper two player version, where the character you were instructing was played by a real person instead of an AI could be interesting.

Reading this article, I first ought of Sonic 2 as perhaps the only other game with this kind of asymmetric co-op suitable for playing with someone who's a more casual gamer. I think the key difference is being able to help the main player without the risk of being a hindrance. Playing as Tails was just as complicated as playing as Sonic (or more so, because you could get left behind) but no matter how bad you might be, you wouldn't drag down the main player if you kept dying. This avoids putting pressure on the 2nd player that could cause tension between the players. I know my wife would play more co-op games with me if there were more that she wouldn't feel like she was a millstone around my neck instead of being a helpful contribution, no matter how small.

As a final note, apart from the games with actual co-op like the Lego games and the Mario games, another way my wife likes to get involved is being my spotter. Looking for secrets in Uncharted, or spotting Life Seeds I missed in Prince of Persia 2008 for example. She probably gets a lot more out of the visuals than I do, not being focused on what I'm doing and able to enjoy the scenery. And to spin things round, when she's playing Final Fantasy, while she takes care of the grinding and the battles, I'll be looking up guides on the laptop so she can find all the secrets without having the story spoiled.

Both Super Mario Galaxies give people a way of feeling involved, even though they aren't really important. For example, I was playing the first one with my little sister, and when she went off to go something, and I continued, she was upset that I continued without her, almost as if she believed it was her game, as well.

Of course, she also said it was because she missed some of the story. She apparently doesn't believe me when I say that SMG, especially the middle part where you're just collecting stars, has like no story. Or at least she doesn't care.

Anyway, this is a very interesting tactic for the more hardcore games. I wonder how difficult it would be to implement this in something else. I can imagine a game that has the normal single-player, a classic co-op mode, and a "tag-a-long" mode where someone less familiar with the system or less willing to invest time and effort into the game can play along with you. It would be EXTREMELY interesting if someone managed to implement a useful buddy system into a multiplayer mode!

Basically, SMG shows some signs of some truly creative, industry-changing stuff, and I can't wait to see if the idea takes hold!

Plinglebob:

Would gamers really enjoy playing the role of the ineffectual Otacon, ferreting out information by hacking computer networks and uploading it to Snake's codec?

I'm sorry, but that would be an awesome game! If they released it as 2 seperate games with their own single player (one a 3rd person shooter, one a hacker sim) and they can then link up to play a hard version where one person sneaks around and the other hacks for information, turns off cameras etc.

Totally agree! I could see it being implemented somehow like making 'hard' mode a bit easier since you've got an IRL Otacon hacking your way through.

Anyways, Being the sidekick really is nice sometimes when you're not super into the game but still want to play with the enthusiastic friend. For example, when I was younger, my dad and I would play Tomb Raider 2 for ps1 together. He would do all the gameplay and killing and stupid jump/timed doors/etc cooordination, while i would sit beside him and keep an eye out for medi packs and pickups and collectables. It's a bit difficult to do all this on your own when your main concern is making sure to not be eaten alive by dobermans or shot by thugs or eaten by an ancient dragon you accidentally woke up ^^;. Hey, it had a superrare dagger stuck in it's chest, I understand why Lara had to go for it! :P And while first player ran around in boss fights, there I was looking for that lever or that weakpoint or essential pickup. I may have had a very limited aspect in the experience, but Dad was incredibly greatful for my second set of eyes on the environment. I'd love to see Tomb Raider with a sidekick aspect ^_^.

Perhaps more games should be made with this kind of co-operative play; where Player 2 is a passive supporter, able to safely and easily aid Player 1 without too much responsibility or skill level required. With the growing likelihood of combinations of less-experienced gamers and those that have been playing most of their lives as more and more new people start playing games, I welcome this idea. All those critics who panned this idea clearly weren't using their brains very hard if they couldn't see the potential of this kind of co-operative play.

Great article, Mr Smith.

EDIT: I totally just remembered how my brothers and I did this with Diablo 2!

Okay, not quite this, but close. Grinding for experience points and gear, especially come Nightmare or Hell modes, can get quite dull, and sometimes whoever was levelling their character at that particular point in time would get another one of us to man the number hot-keys 1-4 for potions so that the main player could focus on killing demons, opening chests, and not have to worry about keeping an eye on their health and mana bars. It was a really great combination, if I remember correctly. I mean, perhaps occasionally, the person on 'potion duty' would lose concentration for a moment, but most of the time it was a successful and enjoyable experience having the additional person.

Furthermore, as Diablo 2 players will know, there can often be agonisingly difficult choices between two really similar pieces of gear that the second, supporting player can help with; do I use the breastplate with a slightly lower armour value and +5 to poison resistance, or the chainmail with a bonus to strength and hit points, and a 13% chance to cast a Frost Nova on being struck?

More often than not, I'm sure the second player didn't make much difference in the final decision in some of these matters because we all played different classes and didn't know each other's character builds nearly as well as our own obviously. But sometimes it felt better having a second voice confirming your decision that that Cobalt Ring of Fire Bolt really wasn't as good as your current Gold Ring of the Sun, or some such.

Just goes to show that even if their isn't any direct co-operative mode included, people sometimes want to get involved in someone else's game, even if it means playing in a minor, secondary, less-important role. In fact, sometimes that's exactly what people want.

Epic Edit for 3000! Go me!

I'm glad several readers have pointed out that this type of co-op has been done before. Sonic and Tails immediately came to mind while reading the article but the 2nd player as a 'gunner' is probably the most common form.

Still, it is true that there are few games that do this. It is especially surprising because this is the easiest form of co-op to create from a development perspective. Cooperative games have a lot of additional concerns- how does AI handle multiple enemies, how do player's handle separate cameras, splitscreen, etc. Tacking on a 'Player 1 Helper' who can't control the camera solves a lot of problems. So it is interesting that we don't see it more.

I think there is the stigma that this feels like it is 'half-assed' co-op. This must stem from the fact that it is a lot easier to develop, but also because a hardcore player probably would feel cheated in the role of 'sidekick'.

Co-op can remain symmetric and still be accessible. Pixeljunk Shooter is a good example where it doesn't really matter how much someone dies. My girlfriend had lots of fun rescuing the humans and I would mostly deal with the more difficult combat. I would argue that games like this can be better because each player can choose the level of interaction they want to tackle. But it is a fair point that even these mechanics may be too difficult for some.

I can see how specific groups of people can really enjoy SMG2 co-op but I think we can all admit that it is a confining game experience that a lot of people would not enjoy. In the end though, having a variety of game styles out there isn't a bad thing.

Sounds like an interesting mechanic devoted to the casual gamer. I know my girlfriend loves the competitive nature of gaming, whether it's co-op or straight up vs gameplay. I'd be interested to see if she'd like something like playing Luma.

Plinglebob:

Would gamers really enjoy playing the role of the ineffectual Otacon, ferreting out information by hacking computer networks and uploading it to Snake's codec?

I'm sorry, but that would be an awesome game! If they released it as 2 seperate games with their own single player (one a 3rd person shooter, one a hacker sim) and they can then link up to play a hard version where one person sneaks around and the other hacks for information, turns off cameras etc.

Hell yeah, that sounds awesome! Cracking and snatching info, unlocking or making life easier for your counterpart down bellow as he's making his way through a stealth mission actually sounds pretty cool for a co-op title.

 

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