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I did not have to think about it, it just sprang up to mind: I want a crossover between Army of Two (EA 2008) and Rainbow Islands.Bubble Bobble 2 (Taito 1987).
What I actually thought about for a while now, were the various reasons for picking these two games.
In ended up with a kind of ode to a dear old flame: co-op-gameplay.

Foremost, I was madly in love with co-op-games when I started to really get into videogames. My fondest memories of early gaming have always some kind of link to cooperative gameplay. I spent hours after hours with Konami’s essentially subpar Monster in my Pocket (1991) on my Nintendo Entertainment System, which could be played together – simultaneously, mind you!
I even played genuine single player games in improvised co-op-mode. In Felix the Cat (1992) miraculous Hudson Soft made it possible to steer the very same Felix with both controllers. So me and a friend would take turns, one maneuvering the avatar, the other one timing shots.

Not only were some of these older games much more unforgiving, they also linked the playing party in a more extreme way than we are used to nowadays. Player 1 and 2 were completely and utterly at each others’ mercy. Virtual existence was a shared experience – for better or for worse. Life was shared.
Today I often have the impression that I need the second player for initiating quick-time-events or just for heck of it.
The bittersweet mixture of comradeship and rivalry I want in my co-op-gaming will always evoke the memory of Rainbow Islands. Bubble Bobble 2 (Taito, 1987) : a merciless hunt for sweets, gems, points in general, which only gets interrupted by the threat of one player’s downfall into the void, which must be avoided at all cost – since life is shared.


I seemingly lost interest on the way or there weren’t just the right games around, somehow I did not play co-op that much anymore.
I tried, that is. I really wanted to like Army of Two. I did not eventually. The content is anti-social, I see that, nevertheless it tries to generate a social situation via its gameplay-mechanics. It just does not work. It feels forced. What you are supposed to do, feels like repeating set pieces of a limited choreography. It feels as social as dancing a pas de deux. If my partner dies on the way it’s what is supposed to happen in good old ballet, doesn’t it?

Do not get me wrong, I like Borderlands’ (for example) and other games’ multiplayer but I wish that there would be harsher rules and restrictions, f.e. shared money. Sometimes it just feels like playing parallel, like shared solitude
Perhaps it is a little far fetched, but I think that videogames as cultural artefacts simply reflect social coexistence: By now playing cooperatively is not about finding a balance between managing limited ressources (life, energy, etc.) and pursuing a common goal anymore. It is all about the pursuit of the own awesomness. Other players are a commodity, reflecting my own awesome awesomeness on the run.

nag nag nag…
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