Super Mario Party was a big surprise when it released. Very few people expected it to be this good, given its recent history, but the latest entry in the multiplayer party franchise turned out to be a hit. The latest entry also offers the best co-op multiplayer yet, thanks to River Survival Mode. This sees you and up to three friends rowing down a treacherous river before a timer ticks down. You'll avoid obstacles and try and collect balloons that initiate a minigame. Beat the minigame and you'll add more time to the clock. It's an absolute ton of fun that's well worth checking out.
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While you could argue that the humble side-scrolling fighter is an endangered species for a reason – they do get awfully repetitive after a while – Capcom Beat 'Em Up Bundle illustrates perfectly why this particular genre was the toast of video gaming in the late '80s and early '90s. Addictive, enjoyable and – perhaps most important of all – bloody good fun when played co-operatively with friends, all of the titles in this seven-strong compendium are worth your time, and by adding robust local and online multiplayer support, Capcom has done its utmost to ensure they find favour with a whole new generation of gamers. If you're not a fan of the genre then you may well be wondering what all the fuss is about, but for everyone else, this is a must-have download.
As poignant, heartbreaking and memorable as it was back in 2013, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons hasn’t lost any of its emotional impact in those intervening years. With a captivating soundtrack, an aesthetic design evocative of Fable and a genuinely clever take on co-op, you can really see why it’s held in such high regard. The new traditional co-op mode does offer a new way to play, although bear in mind that it also robs the game of one of its most challenging and rewarding features and perhaps makes things a little too easy, but it's still a charming two-player experience.
Not only is Snipperclips a Nintendo Switch exclusive, but it remains one of the finest couch co-op experience on the platform. It challenges you to navigate around a variety of creative levels, cutting your paper characters into different shapes to help you sole puzzles. There's a massive single player story to work through, which supports two player co-op, then a bunch more puzzles you can figure out with up to four players. While you don’t strictly need a second player, we wouldn’t play Snipperclips without a friend, relative or significant other – when solutions elude you or an attempt goes sideways, exorcising frustration by snipping (and, indeed, clipping) your partner is always cathartic and hilarious.
Killer Queen Black does for Nintendo Switch what TowerFall Ascension did for PS4, offering up a 2D multiplayer extravaganza that’s easy to pick up but devilishly tricky to master. The support for local multiplayer (through split Joy-Cons and/or wireless play) really sells this as a crazy couch play experience, while the inclusion of online play and a Spectate mode gives room for a potentially vibrant competitive scene. The learning curve is steep, and it's chaotic to track when playing on anything other than a massive TV, but it’s likely to become a cult mainstay for indie multiplayer aficionados.
The Stretchers is an unexpected delight, dropping on to the eShop without warning and perfectly timed to brighten up the long, dark winter days ahead. Tarsier has taken all its experience working on the likes of Ragdoll Kung-Fu: Fists of Plastic and LittleBigPlanet and brought it together to deliver this ridiculously OTT ragdoll puzzle riot that works well in solo but is on another level when enjoyed with a friend in co-op. Missions are varied and lend themselves perfectly to moments of hilarious slapstick, and there's a couple of real standout moments scattered across the course of proceedings that will have you laughing all the way to the end.
Overcooked 2 is a time management simulator, in which you and up to three friends must work together to prepare a variety of orders before your grumpy customers storm out of the restaurant impatiently.
Meanwhile, your restaurant is actively fighting against you. You might have to contend with gusts of wind while preparing food on top of a hot air balloon, or have to navigate a spinning kitchen. It's frantic stuff, and the craziness only ramps up the more players you play with. No matter how you play it though, you'll have a crazy amount of fun cooking up the various dishes. A smattering of free updates and paid DLC make this something of a neverending meal, and that's fine by us - keep it coming!
Overall, Overcooked 2 pretty much builds on its predecessor to completely refine the experience, providing more polish, new mechanics (throwing stuff at each other!), and souped-up visuals, although Overcooked: Special Edition is still definitely worth a look if you're after a more contained co-op experience.
Monaco: Complete Edition offers a solid solo experience which benefits from some excellent storytelling and multiple perspectives, as well as brilliantly-constructed heist-based gameplay focused on putting each criminal's skills to the best use. However, it truly shines in multiplayer, whether couch co-op or online. As the servers are pretty quiet, grabbing a group of friends and forming your own motley crew is your best route into this explosive heist thriller.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is not only a graphical powerhouse and showcase for Next Level Games’ unrivalled mastery of video game animation, it’s also an immense helping of spooky fun as well. The amount of care and consideration poured into every facet of the game is abundantly clear, and it all results in one of the most enjoyable and attractive Switch titles of the year. It's an excellent single-player experience, but you can also play the whole game with a friend, loved-one, or sworn enemy in co-op mode. Player One controls Luigi with Player Two as Gooigi, which results in a largely symmetrical experience. The person at the helm of OG Luigi is definitely more in control of things overall, making this a perfect game to play with kids or a less experienced gamer.
From stem to stern, Knights and Bikes is a delight to behold and a testament to the creative power of the talent at Foam Sword. Demelza and Nessa’s story is a compelling one that hits all the right emotional and comical beats, while the laid-back gameplay proves to be varied and interesting as the narrative continues. All of this is tied together by some stellar presentation to make for a couch co-op experience that you won't want to miss out on. We’d give Knights and Bikes a strong recommendation whatever way you choose to play it, though bear in mind that you’ll be getting the best and most fulfilling experience if you play it through with a friend.
What's your favourite local co-op game on this list? Did it even make the cut? Let us know in the comments below.