The Smallest Co-op Feature Made These RPGs Amazing

Co-op RPGs

The Smallest Co-op Feature

There aren’t a lot of co-op RPGs out there. I’m not talking about hack-and-slash RPGs or (God forbid) MMOs. I’m talking about games like the old Final Fantasy series—character-driven, turn-based JRPG-style games. But there are two games that will forever spring to mind for me when the subject of co-op RPGs is brought up.

Eternal Sonata and Final Fantasy IX.

Eternal Sonata Co-op RPG
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tadeuviniciusgames/5800392578/

You’ve likely heard of the latter, but Eternal Sonata flew under the radar. Probably for good reason. I mean, the whole thing took place in Chopin’s anime Lolita fantasy fever dream. Yes, that Chopin. And no, I’m not kidding.

For what it was worth, the battle system was intriguing. It was still turn-based, but during the player’s turn, they could control a character and run around the battlefield freely, attacking and casting spells in live action—for a couple seconds, and then it would be the enemy’s turn to run around and attack.

At first glance, Eternal Sonata and Final Fantasy IX might look very different (you know, other than the big heads and insane character designs). But there was one tiny feature that connected them.

The ability to choose a controller for each character.

That one feature turned these typically single-player games into incredible co-op RPG experiences—at least for my friends and me.

Eternal Sonata Co-op RPG Battle
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/unscripted360/968966575/

You could have a separate controller for each of a battle’s three player characters in Eternal Sonata. Yes, you’d still have one player controlling all the running around the world and buying items, but there was enough battle to make everyone sitting down for the whole game worthwhile. And given how batshit loco Eternal Sonata was, you pretty much have to be pulling a Mystery Science Theater on the cutscenes to be able to stomach it. And the best way to do that is through co-op play, so every player is invested in the characters they control.

I didn’t discover that Final Fantasy IX shared the same feature until later.  I already loved the game. But one summer, my roommate and I popped the FFIX PS1 disc into my backwards-compatible PS3. We split the characters between the two of us, and had an absolute blast playing through it.

Solitary experience

RPGs are usually a solitary experience. You absorb the story, fall in love with the characters, and feel a personal connection to the game world. They’re more like books than movies. But playing through Eternal Sonata and FFIX co-op, even if it was just the battles, was a gaming experience I’ll never forget.

FFIX Co-Oop
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alduinx/16558079596/

And it all had to do with one simple feature: allowing you to switch controller inputs for different characters.

Sure, if you wanted, you could pass the controller around. But it’s not the same, is it? It’s not co-op—it’s taking turns in the driver’s seat.

Turn-based RPGs make the feature easy to implement. After all, you’re not actively controlling multiple characters at a time. There is little difference to the game system to have the controller inputs switch for different characters. Especially when you can only control one character at a time anyway.

Indie developers and JRPG remaster…ers take note: adding that tiny feature to turn a single-player RPG into a co-op one makes a big difference to anyone who still enjoys a good couch co-op experience.

Hearthstone’s Next Tavern Brawl Will Feature Co-op

Tavern Brawl has offered a variety of unique twists on Hearthstone‘s gameplay with bizarre challenges appearing each week.  The next Tavern Brawl, ‘Unite Against Mechazod’, looks to be the strangest one yet as it will be Hearthstone‘s first use of cooperative play.  Both players will be focused on bringing down a single boss, Gearmaster Mechazod, before he can convert them for his robot horde.  The co-op brawl will use the same interface as the usual 1v1 mode with Mechazod appearing on the board as a 2/95 minion with taunt that swaps from one side of the board to the other with each turn.  If either player drops to zero health, the other will instantly self-destruct, so you’ll have to work together if either of you want to win.  You’ll also be able to fight alongside friends by challenging them to a brawl as usual.

A different brawl was originally planned to be last week’s Tavern Brawl, but it was swiftly pulled down when exploits were discovered within the game mode.  Instead, the ‘Spiders, Spiders Everywhere’ brawl was used for the third time as a last-second replacement.  With Blizzard making the unusual move of announcing the brawl before its release, it’s safe to assume that they’ve ironed out all the problems and the new brawl should release without issue.  If something does go wrong again, then it will certainly be embarrassing for the developers to say the least.  ‘Unite Against Mechazod’ will begin tomorrow and be available for five straight days.  Afterward, the brawl will be closed and there’s no telling when you’ll get your chance to play it again.  Be sure to share your thoughts on the latest Tavern Brawl in the comments below.

ZHEROS – In Space, Nobody Can Hear You Brawl

Rimlight Studios has announced that upcoming 3D brawler will be ready for release on Xbox One via the [email protected] self-publishing program.

ZHEROS is a stylised sci-fi action game combining frantic fun, crazy creatures and monstrous mechs! Set in a futuristic and colourful landscape you take control of either Captain Dorian or Mike punching, kicking and shooting your way through robotic enemies to stop the evil plan of Dr. Vendetta. Think the over top heroism from Captain Qwark in the Ratchet & Clank series.

The game can be played solo or via local co-op, you and a friend can battle through various enemy types using unique and engaging combat.

ZHEROS looks like a fun light hearted break from the gritty realism of most new releases, to see the game in action check out the gameplay video below:

ZHEROS will be playable at the upcoming Gamescom event. What other [email protected] games are you looking forward to seeing? Let me know in the comments below.

For Honour – Top Pick from E3!

For Honour

For Honour

There is no doubt that this year’s E3 was full of truly incredible games but there is one in particular that not only can I not wait to play but should stand as a shining example for future AAA titles.

For Honour is a third-person competitive melee based game with an innovative new style of fighting. The game pits three of the world’s greatest warriors against each other; Vikings, Samurai and Knights. Whilst centuries separated these three groups from ever facing each other on a real battlefield I am really glad this did not discourage the Ubisoft team.

The gameplay trailer below shows a run through of a multiplayer match, you can see that not only is it four vs four the map is littered with NPC sword fodder! Any fan of the Dynsaty Warriors series will feel right at home dominating the computer controlled soldiers but it is when two rival players face off that it gets really exciting.

When two players meet in the battlefield the camera comes in closer and the NPCs form around the warriors drawing inspiration from big budget movies. It is here we see the “art of battle”. The new system ties all attacks and defences to the right stick, this provides ultimate control over your weapon and provides tense cinematic combat. It looks to be a great system for this type of play, allowing fast and quick combat against weak NPCs but still requiring skill and strategy when opposing another player.

With games like Evolve and Titanfall it would be very easy for Ubisoft to release For Honour as a solely online competitive game, however as mentioned above this game should be a shining example for others! For Honour will also feature a campaign mode that can be played co-op, and yes also confirmed is split-screen play bringing us back to a golden age of gaming where you could actually play your friends in the same room!

What did you think of For Honour? Do you have a different top pick from E3? Let me know in the comments below.