Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and if you’re dating a gamer, you have tons of creative gift ideas they’ll love to choose from. It’s more than just giving a gift, though; spending time together is a perfect way to celebrate the holiday, and fortunately lots of games are meant to be enjoyed with a Player Two.
First we’ll look at some games accessible to everyone, no matter their skill level, and what positive attributes they’ll bring to your relationship. Next, we’ll highlight some titles for advanced couples to work through together; finally, if you’re in a long-distance relationship, we’ll check out awesome games for you both to enjoy online. Let’s play!
Games for Any Couple
Super Mario Galaxy 2 – Lend a Helping Hand! [Wii; 2010]
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is pure Mario magic and includes support for a second character. Player Two can use a second Wii Remote to control an on-screen pointer that picks up Star Bits, freezes enemies, grabs mushrooms, and flips switches, making the Player One’s adventure easier. Nothing that the co-player does is essential to the game’s progress, but they give Mario the upper hand.
Galaxy 2 allows the second player to ease in and is a perfect choice if one member of the couple doesn’t want to have to control a character or be responsible for failure. Since every move they perform helps Mario (they can’t hurt him) and they simply have to point the Remote at the TV, the pressure is low. Further, the game builds a connection between players since Player Two is there to support Player One, who’s in control of the action.
Nintendo Land – Just Have Fun! [Wii U; 2012]
Nintendo Land, much like Wii Sports, is a pack-in title meant to showcase what the Wii U and its GamePad are capable of. In it, you’ll find a dozen different minigames featuring some of Nintendo’s classic franchises. Three of the games are co-op, another trio are competitive, and the rest are meant to be played solo.
The variety of content, relaxed atmosphere, and unique gameplay make this a recipe for a fun night in. It doesn’t do anything in particular for couples, but if your SO is terrified of video games, Nintendo Land is a great introduction to how they can be just plain fun.
WarioWare: Smooth Moves – Don’t be Afraid to Embarrass Yourself! [Wii; 2007]
WarioWare is a fast-paced series based around hundreds of five second microgames that gradually become faster until you can’t keep up. It’s spawned plenty of clones, and while Smooth Moves isn’t the best entry in the franchise, the zany microgames (you’ll do everything from inserting an old lady’s false teeth to collecting coins as Mario) fit well with the Wii’s motion control and make it a great party game. In our case, it also fits nicely as a game for two.
The strength of this title is how comfortable you’ll have to be with your partner to play it, because things are going to get goofy. Smooth Moves requires you to use different “poses” for different games, including holding the Remote up to your nose like an elephant or using it as a dumbbell. You’ll be laughing at each other and at what’s happening in the game, which is an awesome way to loosen up and see another side of your beloved. You don’t even have to be good at the actual microgames!
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! – Two Are Better than One! [GameCube; 2003]
Mario Kart is well-known as a party game and has had many excellent entries in its series, but Double Dash!! stands as the best for lovebirds to enjoy together. This is due to the unique mechanic of having two players on one kart. In single-player, the computer controls your rear racer, but it’s obviously better with two humans controlling the pair on the kart.
The front player steers the kart, while the back player handles items and can also perform a side-swipe move to knock other racers around or make a last-ditch effort to keep the kart from hitting an obstacle. In addition, both players work together to perform the speed-saving drift move, and earn a bonus boost at the start of each race. You can swap roles at any time by both holding the Z button, which means if one player is better at a certain course you can take advantage of each partner’s skills.
Double Dash!!‘s Grand Prix mode (which can become irritating due to cheap difficulty during later courses) can be played in co-op, or you can play against each other in Battle Mode if you prefer. Overall, it’s a game that works best when both players are in harmony, so determined couples will find plenty to strive for.
Games For Advanced Partners
The previous games are fun and accessible for anyone. In these more difficult titles, however, cooperation is often essential, and you’ll need experience in platforming, first-person controls, and puzzle solving to progress. These games are recommended for couples whose members both have some games under their belt, or for those with one expert and one particularly adventurous protege.
Portal 2 – Rely on Each Other! [PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC; 2011]
Portal 2 is one of the best puzzle-platformers of all time, and it includes an excellent co-op mode. In it, two robots, each armed with their portal gun, go through test chambers specifically designed to require cooperation. The solution won’t always be evident at first, and figuring out where to place each player so as to get them both to the exit is exciting. The game never gets so difficult as to discourage players, though.
If you both like solving intricate challenges and feeling smart, Portal 2 will be a great couple-bonding experience. It takes patience, though: don’t expect to blow through the game in an hour. Those new to Portal will have to get used to the mechanics and objects, but it’s all part of the experience. Portal 2 should be the first stop on your advanced game journey with Player Two. And if you become fond of it, there are other similar games to try once it’s over.
TimeSplitters 2 – Shooting Double! [GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox; 2002]
TimeSplitters 2 is considered a spiritual successor to all-time great N64 first-person shooter GoldenEye 007, so of course it features tons of zany multiplayer modes perfect for dorm gaming. However, the feature of this game most attractive to couples is that you can play the entire campaign with two players cooperating.
It takes some serious coordination between players, especially on Normal or Hard; you might have to time your shots so one person shoots out a camera as the other takes out a guard. You’ll also have to share ammo and body armor that you find so that one teammate isn’t under-equipped. For couples who like to perfect their approach and be in sync, the missions of TimeSplitters 2 will be a blast. The game’s varied locations and meaningful objectives are a welcome change from today’s dime-a-dozen military shooters.
Players new to the genre or video games in general will quickly become frustrated with this one, so it’s not a good idea to introduce your beloved to video games by throwing them into TimeSplitters. Becoming more confident in one another, practicing making a strategy, and using good communication are skills you’ll build up to succeed in your quest!
Donkey Kong Country – Tag Team! [SNES; 1994]
The original DK Country includes a two-player mode, but due to system limitations only one player can control the action at a time. Because of this, Player One will control Donkey Kong, and when he finds a DK barrel with Diddy inside, the other player will be ready to control Diddy. If DK takes a hit, or if both players tap Select, Player Two assumes control.
It’s a great system for couples of varying ability, as the weaker player can swap out any time they feel overwhelmed. However, DK Country is not a cakewalk, so beginner players might not be so keen on the idea; lots of precise platforming is required.
Donkey Kong Country is a great introduction to platformers and the ability to switch at any time makes for a fun cooperative experience. For a limited two-player mode, this game still succeeds in being fun.
For Long-Distance Lovers
Unfortunately, many folks in relationships won’t get to be with their better halves on Valentine’s Day. Therefore, we’ll close the list with a few titles that even those separated by thousands of miles can enjoy playing over the Internet together. Of course, they’ll each need a copy of the game and the system to play it on.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf – Build a Life Together! [3DS; 2013]
Animal Crossing is a pleasant series where you live in a town populated by animals. The gameplay is laid-back and lets you take things at your own pace. It’s great by your lonesome, but with your boyfriend or girlfriend owning a copy, too, you can visit each other’s towns and hang out together.
Anything that you’d like to enjoy is available to do as a pair: going fishing, shopping, sending mail, pulling weeds, or decorating your house can all be done with your special someone. Since you can go to either person’s town, a little remodeling goes from being a chore to a fun activity to do together.
There’s something about Animal Crossing that’s just peaceful, and when you’re anxious about not seeing your SO, meeting up in this virtual world might just be the thing. Also, the series is deeper than it seems, so those looking for more will be pleasantly surprised once they look past the surface.
LittleBigPlanet 2 – Make Something Awesome! [PlayStation 3; 2011]
You can create virtually any level or game you want in LittleBigPlanet 2. Two players can join up together in a party and play the pre-created story levels, check out the millions of levels available online, or make their own stages from scratch. If you have an awesome idea for a stage, you can both go into the creator studio and work in separate areas at the same time, if you wish.
A creatively inclined couple will be able to come up with some sweet ideas given the time, and even if you don’t create it’s still fun to be able to play others’ levels in couch co-op style when far apart. The difficulty is scalable and the atmosphere is adorable. Any twosome will love discovering the wealth of content in this game.
Play For Love
Now, no matter how much experience you or your plus one have with video games, you’ll have some to enjoy and experience together at your level. You’ll have to find which genre and type work for the two of you best, but after popping a few discs in you should find one you both can have fun with. And if you can’t get a rhythm going or just really don’t enjoy video games? At least you made an attempt to try something new for your sweetheart!
Need to brush up on your skills before you play with your true love? Check out Joel’s tips for getting better at video games.
What are your favorite games to play with your significant other? Do you think video games are a good way to build up your relationship? Couples, let me know what you think below!
Image Credits: Couple playing Via Shutterstock