It's cute, it's friendly, and it's got a cooperative campaign that can be played with two, four, or even one player(s). It's The Adventures of Cookie and Cream, and it is as certifiably badass as any game starring two adorable rabbit creatures can possibly be badass.
Hit the jump for details.
According to Wikipedia:
On behalf of the entire gamer community, I think I can confidently say: awwwwwww!
Yeah, I love it when YouTube users don't know how to capture gameplay footage directly.
Cookie and Cream is all about cooperation. In each level, the two protagonists must reach an end goal in time while solving puzzles for one another and dodging enemies. Cookie and Cream, despite being on the same map, are always separated by a huge vertical wall heading down the middle of every strage; therefore, Cookie and Cream can help each other by throwing switches and solving puzzles, but they never interact with each other directly.
So, you're Cookie. You get to a big lake you can't cross, but on Cream's side, there's a huge log on dry land. In order for Cookie to progress, Cream must shove the log over to Cookie's side of the screen, creating a makeshift bridge which Cookie can then cross.
If it sounds simple, that's because it is -- and that's why it works. In addition to analog stick movement, each player will only use two buttons (jump and use), and every single level travels along a straightforward, northbound path. With the actual mechanics being as simple as they are, they allow the players to focus more on understanding the puzzle logic for any given area.
Cookie and Cream can't die from taking damage from baddies, but each level is timed. Every hit either Cookie or Cream take from an enemy can decrease the level clock by up to twenty seconds, so you'll find yourself yelling at whomever you're playing with should they have the poor luck to get stung by a scorpion at the wrong time. It's sort of like doing the bike level in Battletoads with another player: if your friend screws up, you both get the shaft. This sort of shared life meter, if it can even be called that, gives C&C a much cooler cooperative (if screaming "JUMP NOW YOU STUPID ASSHOLE" at your best friend can even be called cooperative) slant.
Cookie and Cream is just one really cool mechanic -- required, simultaneous, split-screen co-op -- exploited in every way possible. You'll engage in cooperative boss fights (very cool), you'll find yourself yelling and scratching your head over some of the cleverer time-based puzzles, and (if you're feeling daring) you can try out some of the odder control schemes the game offers.
For instance, you can control both Cookie and Cream using one controller. That's right: the game gives you the ability to play an entirely cooperative game by yourself. It's mind-meltingly difficult, of course, but it's there. On the flip side, the entire game can be played through by four players, two to each controller; I haven't actually tried this, but it sounds like a certifiably insane (yet interesting) way to turn Cookie and Cream from a simple co-op game into a party title.
Why you're probably not playing it:
Because it's so goddamn cute and clever, probably. The game's graphical cuteness betrays how friggin' deep and difficult it can become at times; when Tiff initially showed me this game and suggested I play it, I initially I thought she was being ironic. Like, "Hey, I just got Sesame Street Alphabet Training, wanna play it and experience some wistful, childlike wonder while ignoring the hilariously simplistic gameplay?" I was wrong, of course, but that's what I thought I was in for when the game first booted up -- and I'm supposed to be one of those people who doesn't judge a game by their box art.
Additionally, gamers these days don't really know what to do with co-op. It's still generally considered a retro holdover from the days of multiplayer arcade games, and when newer games attempt it, the cooperation is usually tacked on and boring (Army of Two) . Cookie and Cream does coop gaming correctly and therefore, of course, must be punished for it. It knows exactly how to make cooperative gameplay fun without being gimmicky, so of course it only sold about three and a half copies -- such is the world we live in. Still, it evidently made enough to warrant a DS port/spinoff/sequel.
So, should you get it? If you've got a friend to play PS2 games with, I highly recommend it: it's only 200 Goozex points, after all, and its coop gameplay is uniquely satisfying.
Check it out.