Although my earliest recollections of games involve Commodore 64s and DOS classics like Alley Cat and Paratrooper, I remember really being swept up by them when my brother and I got our first console: an 8-bit SNES knockoff that we played everything from Excite Bike to Duck Hunt to Super Mario on. Those games of course made for fond memories, but I especially enjoyed 2-player co-operative games like Contra, Double Dragon and River City Ransom: there’s nothing quite like taking out the bad guys shoulder-to-shoulder with your siblings or best mates.
I constantly sought out such games as we moved on to advanced consoles and eventually the PC — but back in 2011, the Android Market didn’t afford me any such options on my first smartphone, and I was stuck with not-so-exciting titles like Angry Birds and Ninjump. Thankfully, developers have really taken to Android in the days since, and there’s now a plethora of co-op games that can be enjoyed on the same screen, on multiple devices over a shared WiFi network or on Google Play Games over the internet.
New hardware will boost co-op gaming too — the imminent arrival of affordable Android-based gaming consoles in the market, such as Ouya and GameStick, will certainly pave the way for titles that are suited to local co-op and multiplayer titles that can be enjoyed on large TV screens. And already, recently-launched Bluetooth controllers like those from MOGA and Green Throttle allow for multiple players to join in on the action with a single host device.
What’s great about this is that you can now carry an inclusive gaming experience with you wherever you go, and have friends join you in your favorite games on a TV or on their own devices. While some games require a common WiFi connection and separate devices to play, others support Bluetooth connectivity to allow you to pair up anywhere. I ‘ve rounded up some great options I’ve recently come across that you can try out with your buddies:
Dead On Arrival 2
Team up with friends and take out never-ending hordes of zombies in DOA2, a top-down team-based shooter that with plenty of weapons, mods and upgrades to score. The range of maps allow for frenzied exploration as you dodge and slay the undead, but remember to stick together and avoid getting caught out alone. Oh, and be sure to try this with a controller for maximum kills.
Ace Wings: Online
Take to the skies in WWI and WWII aerial combat in this novel title that features a neat accelerometer-based control scheme that’s tricky at first, but incredibly fun when you get used to it. Up to four players are supported in multiplayer battles, and you can even take on waves of enemy aircraft with a friend in Survival mode. Even though I’m not a huge fan of flight games, I found myself swerving and banking along with my on-screen plane for many a dogfight.
If you’re in the mood for something old-school, Gunslugs is for you: this recent release from retro fiends OrangePixel features blazing-fast run-and-gun platformer action that puts you in the shoes of a would-be Rambo, who is the only force that can save the universe from the Black Duck Army. You can team up with a friend to kick ass and take names, grabbing collectibles and discovering secret areas as you go. Oh, and did I mention there are jetpacks?
Explore caves on different planets, destroy swarms of drones and play with friends on the same team or against each other in a variety of multiplayer modes in this classic space shooter. Crust requires careful navigation and fast-paced teamwork, and makes for a ton of intergalactic fun for the great price of free. The story mode involves you in missions ranging from reconnaissance to evacuations to space battles, but you don’t have to go it alone: you can even play with a friend offline in split-screen mode!
Monster Shooter 2
Featuring gorgeous isometric pixel-art style graphics and colorful characters, Monster Shooter 2 sees you pumping bullets into weird aliens as they try to take over our fair planet. With scores of upgrades, richly detailed environments and a bevy of enemy types to take on, you’ll have your hands full with MS2. This one is best enjoyed with a buddy on internet co-op mode — simply swap friend IDs and you’re good to go. If you want to get real, Score high and save up your currency to buy a mech suit!
That’s a wrap, folks! Co-op gaming is indeed alive and kicking on Android, and you can be sure that we’ll see several more such titles in the days to come. Let us know about your favorite co-op games in the comments!