13 Videogames for Couples, plus how to drag your gamer partner out of the closet

This is a guest post, by my partner, about gaming as a couple. It’s a response to this here article about another gaming couple

I was convinced he was either a porn addict or a cheat. However, his was not your average tale of debauchery and deceit. The magazines in the closet, the suspicious gaps in the internet history, the long, blank spaces of time when he wouldn’t answer his phone and, curiously, the podcasts he would never let me listen to (but that he would listen to religiously whilst he did the dishes every night – this is back in the day when he cared to do the dishes).

It took a while before I realised what was going on: Mr. Very Very Gaming was in the Very Very Closet about his Very Very Habit.

The first time I visited Mummy Very Very Gaming and Daddy Very Very Gaming I was very nervous – would they like me? Was I talking too much? etc – but I now realise Mr. Very Very Gaming must have been even more nervous but for VERY different reasons. In his parent’s living room, Wii and Gamecube games dominated the shelves. Mummy Very Very Gaming exhibited a curious amount of insider-knowledge of Mario and Link’s exploits, and revealed her past obsession with high score games (remember Galaga? And Charlie Chimp…?). Daddy Very Very Gaming kept the family’s Amiga in pristine condition (by not moving it for the last 18 years). I began to suspect that something was amiss.  

That night, as we lay in bed, I couldn’t help but notice the teenage-era posters of Squall from FFVIII and Link – and a myriad of other characters I couldn’t name. Turning to my beloved, I decided to confront him: “Do you like videogames?” No response. Unperturbed, I continued, “Final Fantasy IX is the best game ever…” and proceeded to relate my childhood memories playing with my brother on the Sega MegaDrive (Echo the Dolphin, Sonic, Cool Spot, Streets of Rage 2, etc), Playstation (PointBlank, Blaze and Blade – which we freakin’ completed over the school holidays! – Final Fantasy VII, VIII and IX), Gameboy (we had the big blocky yellow one – Pokemon…mmm) and our neighbour’s N64 (Smash Bros all day).

Unfortunately, Mr. Very Very Gaming was unprepared for my impassioned speech. He totally freaked out and denied everything. But take this as a lesson ladies: you CAN change your man. Ignore your mother’s advice. Through a combination of the silent treatment, slapping him around (metaphorically) and assaulting him randomly (metaphorically) with gaming facts, over the course of several months I was able to get Mr. Very Very Gaming to relax, and come out of the closet as the completely nerdy, dorky retro gamer that he is. I still find it hard to believe that he had hidden his hobby from me for so long.

import modded saturn

The region-free modded Saturn I got for his birthday – it’s a surprise he hasn’t gotten over as you can see from this blog…

It took playing a few games to completely overcome his initial shyness. If it hadn’t been for those early experiences together, the day might never have come where we would have real marital arguments about games, as opposed to stupid arguments about unimportant things like children, rent, and money. Not only that, but now we rarely play any games alone. Games have completely overtaken films and TV as our relaxation medium of choice. Sharing gaming has only increased Mr. Very Very Gaming’s fondness for the medium, to the point where he created this blog just so he could write about our experiences. He told me recently that he used to spend more time reading about games on websites and listening to videogame podcasts than actually playing games.

Our first few experiences playing videogames together were crucial to changing that and turning gaming into a shared hobby. And so, with the sentimental preamble out of the way, here are our BEST “couple” games that shaped our early experiences so that we now play together always. These aren’t necessarily the best games (although they’re all pretty damn good) – instead this is a countdown of the videogames that proved the most compelling and memorable for us as a couple.

Top Thirteen Couple Games…for (retro) Couples

13. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)

His opinion – I’d already played the majority of the game before and this was just polishing up the Green Stars, but still the sheer wonder of this game pulled us both in. Plus the two-player cooperative proved a god-send during the insanely difficult 242nd star.

Her opinion – I doubt it is possible to do the final challenge without a second player: thank the LORD for that little star and its ability to freeze stuff!

12. Puyo Puyo Sun (Saturn)

His opinion – This is the only 2-player versus game on the list. The competition this game engenders is so intense at one point we were playing “best of 50 rounds…OK, first to 50 rounds” every day.

Her opinion – I have a love/hate relationship with this one – addictive, and a brilliant way of settling arguments. In particular, the Sun blocks mode is exciting, fast-paced and cruel/fun! Also, the hilarious catch-phrases: “Oh my God…”

11. Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)

His opinion – This was a repeat of the classic game that I’ve played before many many times. It’s a close call between this game and Majora’s Mask in terms of quality, but Ocarina of Time was the more memorable experience, especially because it was her first experience with Zelda. I was worried at first that she might be bored, and the game might not hold up in the earlier stages especially, but the pacing and progression in this game is so masterful, and the game itself so captivating that I shouldn’t have worried.

Her opinion – My brother put me off Zelda because, and I quote: “There’s too much grass.” Watching this being played was finally understanding what is meant by “classic”.

10. Psychonauts (PS2)

His opinion – This game was a big surprise for both of us. I’m a big Tim Schafer fan but I’d never played Psychonauts, and the game turned out to be Tim Schafer unfiltered and on crack. Conspiratorial milkmen, street bullfighting, a Napoleonic board game, directing a theatre performance, all within a summer camp hub world of psychic children.

Her opinion – A game all about wish-fulfillment, this is probably Schafer’s ultimate-dream-game fulfilled. Zany. I analysed the meta, whilst he laughed at the funny voices.

9. Final Fantasy IX (PS1)

Her opinion – This is my favorite game of all time. Bar none. The beautiful environments, amazing musical score and the most heart-breaking storyline ever! This was the first game we played together, but it was my third time and so I impressed (and greatly disturbed) Mr. Very Very Gaming with my completionist playing style and walkthrough-like knowledge of the game. FFIX moved us both almost to tears towards the end. It was like theatre, but only for two people in a darkened room, at 4am. Had this list been my choice it would have been number one, but that’s what being in a relationship is all about: compromise, so you can gain points for later.

final fantasy IX concept art

The recently unearthed hi-res art from FFIX shows the absurd amount of work and detail poured into the game. Source.

His opinion – no more tears

8. Silent Hill 2 (PS2)

His opinion – This game was a slow grower, but when it got going it really got going and never stopped. The last few hours of this game were simply amazing and had us hopelessly hooked until the end.

Her opinion – I have never looked as hospitals in the same way since.

7. Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

Her opinion – Stripped back to basics gaming is a joy, with added underlying moral ambiguity to the act of killing the poor beasties: as much as it was exhilarating to watch, you were always left with a sense you’d done something terribly wrong. Jaw dropping. Heart stopping. Cinematic. Tragic.

His opinion – Beautiful game and a unique experience. Ico was special in a quiet sort of way while this turned the action up to eleven, but without compromising on the atmosphere and sense of loneliness. The sheer lack of game-stuff in the world (no collectibles, no pick-ups, no items, no levelling up, no load times) makes this game great to watch as well as play.

6. Streets of Rage 2 (Megadrive/Genesis)

Her opinion – I am a self-proclaimed button-basher. This game brings out the worst from my thumb. It also brings out the worst in my personality in terms of being a selfish, crazy bitch: the amount of times I’ve screamed “That was MY CHICKEN/GOLD BAR/APPLE”! to he who is the biggest thief ever.

His opinion – Well you should’ve been quicker then shouldn’t you?! I love this game. The feel of it is perfect, and unlike most beat ’em ups there’s a real sense of strategy which makes it compelling to return to time and time again.

5. Shadow of Memories (aka Shadow of Destiny, PS2)

Her Opinion – The storyline of this game floored us both. Also: kittens ❤

His opinion – I’ve said enough about this game previously!

4. Project Zero 3 (aka Fatal Frame 3, PS2)

Her opinion – This game scared me so much my stomach hurt – but it also meant I needed closure and so we kept playing the darned thing every night (often in the day, because it literally scared us THAT much that playing it at night was too much).

His opinion –  When we first started this I laughed off the idea that it would be scary, whereas she found it scary from the off. I shrugged it off as a Ring-inspired piece of “Japanese horror”. My optimism soon faded as the game got scarier and scarier until- I don’t want to talk about it.

3. Chrono Trigger (SNES)

Her opinion – *big watery eyes of love*

His opinion – Spectacular JRPG that doesn’t get bogged down in the conventions that usually tarnish the experience. The music with the lighthearted but often touching story is the icing on the cake – this makes a wonderful game to share.

2. Silent Hill 1 (PS1)

Her opinion – Nothing will ever beat the elevator moment. Nothing.

His opinion – Psychological horror done really, really well.

1. Gain Ground (Megadrive/Genesis)

gain ground megadrive

Her opinion – Up until 4am several nights in a row early on in a relationship…nothing new. Only you aren’t spending hours in the throes of passion – you’re cursing your gaming buddy’s foolhardy behaviour on the battlefield, and the fact he’s STOLEN an archer when you really needed one.  This is Gain Ground. It’s team work, but it’s also competition.  I don’t even understand why it’s so good – it’s just such a well-balanced, innovative but simple game.

His opinion – Gain Ground came out of nowhere. I’d never heard of it, but within 24 hours Gain Ground went from being an archaic looking piece of filler on the Sega MegaDrive Collection on PS2 to replacing the title of the latter, so the Collection is now known exclusively as Gain Ground, which is really saying something given the calibre of some of the other games on what is an excellent compilation. This game is a remarkably accomplished work with a very basic look and feel. A hybrid of action-strategy, the two-player mode is mercilessly addictive as a test of your teamwork, intellect and reflexes. It’s a tough game too, and nothing compares with the satisfaction of besting its 50 or so stages.

gain ground megadrive 2

So, Gain Ground takes our prize spot as the top game for any game-loving couple. As you might have noticed, our list is made up mostly of single player games, all of them on consoles, which we play by passing the controller round, or more often she will watch me play exclusively (“feeding your egomania”, as she would put it).

We’d love to hear of games you’ve enjoyed with your partner, and more especially how you play them: LAN, online, split screen, swapping controllers, one person watching another play? Do you prefer competitive or cooperative? And, most importantly, how has playing videogames together affected your relationship? Let us know!

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9 comments

  1. cary

    You guys sound like quite the amazing team – and with such a wonderful story! May your gaming days continue together for many years to come. 🙂

    My husband and I bonded over video games early on, but he was into FPSs and military games, while I simply couldn’t give up Mario and Metroid. Still, we knew that video games would always part of lives but that our respective tastes wouldn’t crossover into multiplayer much. This absolutely came to the forefront of our relationship when we tried to play The Adventures of Cookie and Cream (PS2). The results were horrific, and we still cite it as a very bad decision. After that we stayed far away from co-op games, all the time supporting each other in the games were preferred. This set up might not work for a lot of gaming couples, but it works for us.

    • veryverygaming

      Thank you! And for your original article too, it is really interesting to hear how other couples play games. I’m glad that you enjoyed our story, looking back on it now makes me laugh but also cringe a little! I suppose just like anything, when it comes to your relationship you find what works for you and get on with it, whether that is competitive, co-operative, or separately gaming. There’s no point putting yourself through hassle just because of someone else’s opinion that “you’re doing it wrong”, this is what you should be doing”.

      I’d never heard of The Adventures of Cookie and Cream before – its title is pretty off-putting, the Japanese/European name Kuri Kuri Mix is far better – but from videos now I can see both why it’d look appealing and how in practice it could turn out quite hellish. I don’t think that will put us off trying it, so thanks for the recommendation – if it ruins our relationship expect to hear from me!

    • veryverygaming

      I was browsing a game shop the other week and in their PS2 section I happened upon Kiri Kiri Mix, aka Adventures of Cookie and Cream! It was very cheap as you’d expect, and thanks to your anti-recommendation I snapped it up. Now I understand where you’re coming from! Wow, that is a tough, conflict-riddled game. It starts easy but boy does it ramp up, and quickly too. We both like it though, despite its (and our) issues. Nowhere near enough to give it a spot anywhere on this list for good “couple games”…but it’s quite charming. Anyway we talk about it a bit on our podcast (https://veryverygaming.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/very-very-gaming-show-episode-5/) but I wanted to thank you specifically for introducing us to what is less a game and more a test of communication, patience and trust. This should be the final test given to couples in counselling, honestly.

  2. cary

    Reblogged this on Recollections of Play and commented:
    I’m breaking into my posting schedule because this article simply needs to be shared! Last week, I reblogged here a post from United We Game called Whaddya mean you played a game together?? and it caught the attention of the very very gamer of Very Very Gaming, one half of a gaming couple. In response, his partner wrote this post about their gaming relationship. It’s a heartfelt and funny story, plus, it offers up a list of co-op titles (some retro) that could make for fun this Valentine’s Day if you are so attached.

    • veryverygaming

      Ever considered a Saturn…? 😛 We’re probably not the best people to ask, since our gaming habits very rarely stretch to games released post-2006, and we don’t own a PS3! But when I was reading up on some other lists about games for couples, Borderlands on PS3 appears a lot, if you like FPSs. It’s got splitscreen co-op multiplayer which is pretty unusual these days.

      If that fails, you’ve always got backwards compatibility with PS1 (and possibly PS2) games so you can play many of the games on our list 😀

      • LadyBird Magpie of Parkdale

        Well, we only have a PS3, but the best games we’ve played together are Castle Crashers, and obviously Little Big Planet. Dead Nation was good as was Resident Evil, but I have a hard time playing those scary games since I had a kid. Pretty lame–I know. We started playing Lego Lord of the Rings last night, but I’m finding it a bit difficult to see. As in–the graphics aren’t great. Also, Marvel Pinball is pretty good too!

  3. whydidnticompleteit

    They don’t fit the retro genre that you love. However, Guitar Hero 3 was one of the main reasons that my wife and I got together.
    Since then we’ve also played through L.A Noir together from start to finish. My wife loved trying to read the expressions of the suspects we were interrogating. Also the choice mechanics in the Telltale Walking Dead and Fables games really interest my wife..

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