What to play when you’ve run out of options
You’ve tried the best, now try the also-pretty-great rest — or something like that. Look, there’s no shortage of “best of” lists for Nintendo Switch couch co-op games, and there are a lot of widely agreed-upon highlights out there. But what about folks like us who have exhausted those options and still want something fresh to play with our co-op partner of choice? What’s left to play? It’s a topic I routinely return to in my personal life.
I love chilling with games on my own, but I especially love playing games together. Bouncing ideas off each other, getting a little heated when you’re not on the same page, eventually overcoming the odds — it’s all part of the cycle, and it’s (usually) a blast.
It’s a bummer to look for a new weekend co-op game to share with a partner only to turn up empty-handed after skimming way too many articles, well-meaning Reddit threads, and painfully slow Nintendo eShop pages that don’t even tell you the full story. (Is it actually local co-op? Something seems off. Guess I’ll double-check Co-Optimus…”)
In an effort to give some tragically overlooked games a nod, and highlight a few more titles that are “known” but aren’t as popular as they should be, I’ve looked through my library and come back with 10 couch co-op games to check out on Nintendo Switch after you’ve played all the big boys. Bonus: many of them aren’t Switch exclusives!
This is a game I will never stop going to bat for — I’ve never played anything like it and I’m not sure anything will ever quite capture its same spirit. Wilmot’s Warehouse is pretty sweet alone, and even better with someone close to you. It’s a game about organizing, and I adore the way it enables you to have fun communication with your co-op partner.
As more items shuffle in, you’ve got to find a spot for them, but it’s up to you on where to put them, what to call them as shorthand, and what other objects might make sense next to them in the future. If you don’t develop your own organizational logic and structure, you’ll become overwhelmed. And at a point, there are so many things in the mix that your categories will snowball to include weird and hilarious stuff. There’s this exciting pace, too — you have to quickly deliver boxes, but there are plenty of moments where you get to do a mental reset and reorganize your entire warehouse without any time pressure.
The controls are simple enough in Wilmot’s Warehouse that less experienced players can still have a great time playing (or just chiming in from the sidelines), but the challenge and sense of accomplishment are satisfying either way. It’s such a keeper.
On the flip side, there’s Death Road to Canada — a game that conjures all the stress that “The Oregon Trail meets the undead apocalypse” implies. Co-op adds to the chaos.
The game is a mix of “please don’t make me regret this” text-based choices and goofy zombie-smashing arcade action bits, and I like how strange this world is willing to get with its writing and character designs. It’s the kind of experience where winning isn’t the whole point — it’s about the journey. It’s about facing curveballs and laughing when you totally botch them. And even if you’re kind of “over” zombies, it’s still worth a look.
Inti Creates went ahead and made an awesome new riff on Castlevania III with on-the-fly character switching, tricky platforming feats, and wild screen-filling bosses. While plenty of people know the original Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, I can’t shake the feeling that its sequel has flown weirdly under the radar — especially as a “co-op game.” I liked it a lot as a solo player, but the multiplayer is what really cemented Curse of the Moon 2 for me.
It helps to play the first game beforehand, but it’s not a strict requirement. (Note: there isn’t co-op). Both games are classic action-platformers, so it’s mostly about the gameplay, which strikes a pretty good balance between being intense without also being overly cheap. Curse of the Moon 2 has a sniper character and a corgi in a mech. I’ll say no more.
If one co-op player has never touched Castlevania before, you can still get through this as long as one of you has that foundational experience and knows some of the sneaky tricks.
Likewise, I would point to Jamestown+ as a game that non-shmup players can enjoy.
It’s got this genuinely fascinating colonial mars scenario to draw you in, fantastic music to keep your energy up while you’re dodging freaky aliens, and a nice learning curve with several difficulty levels. There are different ship types to experiment with (some more straightforward or technical than others), as well as cool side challenges that’ll force you to adapt to interesting situations you won’t find in the main story. Best of all, it actually feels like Jamestown was built with co-op in mind. It’s baked into its game-design DNA.
I feel a little weird putting a Nintendo-published game on this list of overlooked co-op gems, but I’ve noticed that Good Job! has started to fade, and it deserves a wide audience.
As a stick person in a cluttered office, you’ll do odd jobs that only grow odder as the game progresses. Early on, you’re wheeling around projectors and giving workers Wi-Fi access; later, you’re mopping up pink goo, hurling storage containers with cranes, and blasting plants until they bloom using an out-of-control hose. It’s not your everyday office suite.
Variety is what sets Good Job! apart, and I dig the “hidden object” nature of the sprawled-out, detail-filled environments. It’s best played in co-op so you can divide and conquer.
A couple of these Switch couch co-op recommendations are still on my to-play list, and Aegis Defenders — an action-platformer tower-defense game — is one of them. It’s a little outside my partner’s wheelhouse, and anyone who regularly tries to pick out multiplayer games knows the dance you have to do when describing what they’re like.
That said, Aegis Defenders comes highly recommended by Chris Carter, who is also a big proponent of co-op gaming. Here’s the line from his review that sold me on it: “Each stage is set up like a platformer (with lots of hidden areas to find) before culminating in a tower defense challenge, and the way it all flows together is seamless. You can use structures in the platforming section or sweet platforming maneuvers and attacks in the tower defense arena. It gets incredibly hectic once you unlock everything…”
Welp, I might as well rip off the whole bandage while I’m at it. I also haven’t checked out Full Metal Furies yet, which I feel bad about, but it’s on my list — and this list!
This is a modern action-RPG-ified take on beat-’em-ups similar to Castle Crashers, and it’s from Cellar Door Games, the team behind the hugely popular Rogue Legacy. The difference is, it’s got some brilliant puzzles — to the point where people can justifiably argue that they’re the best part of the entire game. While it wasn’t a commercial success (far from it), Full Metal Furies is a really heartfelt game that doesn’t deserve to be forgotten.
As Patrick Hancock put it in his review, there’s “a lot to love here in what ends up being a fantastic beat-’em-up that deserves to stand alongside modern classics.”
While I’m out here confessing, I am not skilled enough to keep up with Unrailed!, yet it has such a unique hook that I don’t regret buying it even if I’ll never ever see the end.
The idea is to strategically clear out trees and rocks (and other junk) to carve a zig-zagging path forward for a relentless train, laying pieces of track in front of it every step of the way until it pulls into the station. That’s how it’s supposed to go. But like any good co-op game, players’ slip-ups lead to frantic situations. And there are also upgrades to argue about!
With higher and higher stakes as you reach challenging biomes with potentially run-ending quirks, by the time you wrap up, win or lose, you’ll probably need a breather.
Here’s another couch co-op pick with a “2” in its name that is perfectly enjoyable without prior experience. PixelJunk Eden 2 is about swinging your way through abstract gardens to collect floating pollen and grow plants that you can cling to so you can reach new heights.
I mean, that’s the raw gameplay, anyway — it’s just as much of a chilled-out, hypnotic audio-visual trance as it is a momentum-based exploration game. Eden isn’t as well-known as PixelJunk Monsters or PixelJunk Shooter, but I have a real soft spot for it and I think plenty of you will too if you take a chance on it. Did you even know there was a sequel?
Okay, I’m doing it again — I’m putting a game on this list that arguably shouldn’t be here. That said, from the perspective that Pikmin 3 Deluxe is one of the best games on Nintendo Switch, I don’t believe nearly enough folks have played it. And even among those who have, I’d be curious to know how many players tag-teamed the game in couch co-op.
The addition of campaign co-op in Pikmin 3 Deluxe (compared to its original Wii U version) adds so much to this creature-hurling action-exploration-strategy game. It should’ve always been that way, and the extra side missions round out this re-release even more.
Pikmin is a unique series to try and explain to someone who hasn’t played it before — you’ve really got to go hands-on to “get it” — but I think that once you do, it sells itself. It’s a blast to explore these strange lands, fight bizarre critters, and establish roots. No other game hits the same notes for me as Pikmin, and I wish we could memory-wipe ourselves and discover it again for the first time. The teamwork in co-op only elevates it.
A few more local multiplayer ideas
Pikuniku would’ve made my “main” list if the co-op worked in the wacky and really amusing main story, which I cherish, but it’s limited to multiplayer levels. I’ll still give it a nod, especially if it’s on sale, but co-op is more of a bonus than the main attraction here.
I have no clue when I decided to take a chance on Trivial Pursuit Live!, but I’m so glad I did. It’s more of a fast-moving game-show vibe than the classic board game, and that pacing lends itself well to Switch multiplayer. We bust this one out all the time, and if you’re looking for something engaging but not too taxing for the holidays, it’s worthwhile.
The best part of Tools Up! isn’t the main story, which can be hit or miss — it’s the Garden Party DLC. This is an Overcooked-style couch co-op game about cleaning up and redecorating homes, and in the DLC, you’re on landscaping duty. While the overall quality level still doesn’t quite reach those hard-to-beat highs, the Garden Party levels are a noticeable step up and they feel like a must-play if you’re into these sorts of games.
Two words: Death Race.
Hidden in Plain Sight is hilariously crude-looking (and sounding), but there’s something so special about it. And while it’s more of a versus game, I still had to mention it in this list. It’s a collection of competitive modes where the players are scattered among identical AI counterparts, and the basic goal boils down to finding where you are in the crowd while also watching for tells that give away other players’ identities, with mode-specific goals layered on top. It’s a game about acting like AI, which leads to super funny moments.
The true highlight, Death Race, is a test of patience. You have to reach the end of the screen before anyone else, but everyone’s got a sniper with one shot by default. (There are tons of customization options.) At any given second, you can walk, or run, or stay still — but if you don’t match the unpredictable rhythm of the AI, you’ll stand out. And if you play it too safe, someone else will get dangerously close to the finish line and just book it. As rounds go on, you might start to call out suspicious behavior and sow doubt in hopes that another player might take a shot for you. The mind games and rowdy nature of Hidden in Plain Sight make it one of the best local multiplayer experiences on Nintendo Switch.