Let’s continue our dive into the amazing selection of Hamster’s Arcade Archives, shall we? When looking at arcade history, you can spot the moment where the publishers and arcade operators realized that you could bring in more coins if you had more than one player on a machine at the same time. Games are often more fun with a friend, and some of the very best arcade games were ones that were best enjoyed in multiplayer. This time we’re looking at cooperative multiplayer games, but if the demand is there I will bring out the competitive ones next time. These are just some of our favorites, and they’re presented in no particular order.
Bubble Bobble ($7.99)
Yes, I said “no particular order" just a few seconds ago, but let’s be real: this is probably the best. Taito’s single-screen action-platformer legend was a regular machine in arcades for years, and it’s easy to see why. Having two bubble-blowing dinos not only makes the game easier, it also adds a mild competitive element as you scramble for all the food and power-ups. Being able to jump on each other’s bubbles helps a lot with some of the more puzzle-focused stages, too.
Metal Slug X ($7.99)
Running and gunning with a pal is a good way to spend the time, and you really can’t go wrong with any of the Metal Slug games for that. I’ve gone with Metal Slug X because it’s a nice balance of silly over-the-top scenes and a decent running length. If you’re looking to fill a full day, then feel free to grab Metal Slug 3 instead. Seriously, that game just goes on and on. These games are particularly good even if your partner isn’t particularly skilled, as you can credit feed your way to the very end no matter how many times you get wiped out.
Life Force ($7.99)
One of the big legs up that Life Force has over its cousin Gradius is its two-player simultaneous feature. The Vic Viper and the Lord British can join forces to take on the deadly enemy forces, and twice the firepower really does make a huge difference. Working together also makes the nasty difficulty that comes with every Konami shooter more manageable. Just don’t fight over the power-ups too much, okay?
Shock Troopers ($7.99)
We’ve got Metal Slug checking off our side-scrolling run-and-gun box, and I’m going to pick Shock Troopers for our overhead shooting fun. Grab your friend, choose one of the relatively large cast of characters, and blast your way through several stages in the order and path of your choice. The presentation is great, and the action is extremely hot all the way through. It’s not as well-known as Metal Slug, but if you give it a try I think you’ll find it almost as fun.
Spin Master ($7.99)
Let’s put down the guns for a brief respite and instead pick up some Yo-Yos to bash about our foes with. Spin Master is one of those arcade platformers that had a very brief time to shine before the one-on-one fighter ate the arcades whole, and it has a lot of that great Data East weirdness to it. Not the longest game by any means with just five stages to play through, and not particularly challenging, but its colorful, detailed visuals and off-beat gameplay are quite refreshing. A good romp, especially if you want something a little less shooty.
Sunset Riders ($7.99)
Alright, go grab your guns again. Konami’s Sunset Riders is half beat-em-up, half run-and-gun, and it’s a Wild West hoot to play alone or with company. The colorful vibes, well-realized characters, and orchestra-hit heavy soundtrack call to mind the publisher Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games, and that’s a comparison that Sunset Riders is more than good enough to carry. There isn’t much to dislike in this game, and you’ll have a great time taking out the memorable baddies with a buddy.
Rod Land ($7.99)
In the vein of the excellent Bubble Bobble, Jaleco’s single-screen action platformer is arguably one of the publisher’s finest efforts. The trick here is that you can’t jump, but have to set up temporary ladders to move among the levels of each stage. Your goal is to take out all of the enemies on each stage, but you can also score extra points and lives by grabbing all of the flowers first. Your weapon is your handy rod, which you can use to grab the baddies and slam them over your head. It feels good every single time you do it. Vibrant visuals and a nice soundtrack round this one out.
We’ve done a side-scrolling run-and-gun, a top-down one, and even one that is kind of like a beat-em-up. How about a gallery shooter to balance things out? This was one of the NEOGEO’s launch games, and as such it isn’t quite as content-rich as some of the later games on the system, but it’s one that saw a lot of play from those who flocked to SNK’s beefy new hardware. There aren’t many games like this in the Arcade Archives line-up, and it’s well-worth tackling with a sharp-shooting friend on a lazy weekend afternoon.
Aero Fighters 2 ($7.99)
I’m being very careful to not repeat experiences here, so despite there being a lot of fun side-scrolling shooters aside from Life Force, I thought it would be best to toss a vertical scroller in. Aero Fighters 2 is a lot of fun alone, but you get new story scenes and endings if you’re playing with another person. It’s really neat to pair up different characters and see what the results are, and the game itself is good, approachable shooting fun.
Sengoku 3 ($7.99)
Hey, did we go this long without mentioning a standard beat-em-up? We sure did! There are a lot of good ones to pick from in the Arcade Archives line-up, so many in fact that we made a whole list of the best, but I’m choosing Sengoku 3 to represent the genre here. This is a gorgeous game with a lot of depth to its gameplay, and like pretty much every other game in this genre since Double Dragon it’s a far better experience with a trusted chum watching your back.
And that’s the bunch, friends. Note that you do have to have a friend in the same room with you to enjoy any of these games. But hey, that’s true to the arcade experience too. Do you have any favorite co-op games in the Arcade Archives line-up that you didn’t see here? Feel free to mention them in the comments so we can all share the joy. After all, teaming up is what this list is all about. Thanks for reading!