The Sega Addicts Top 10 Co-op Games

This week’s Sega Addicts Top 10 list is all about building friendships. While most multiplayer games were based on one player defeating the other and ruining self-esteems, these games built up relationships and often, but not always, led to life long partnerships that could never be broken. They were known as cooperative games and they were, and still are, awesome.

Hit the jump to read our list on the top 10 best co-op games released for Sega consoles.

10. The Typing of the Dead

Josh Newey: It’s hard to pinpoint just what makes typing so damn fun. Hell, I’m having an absolute blast writing this right now. A lot of games have tried to tap into the unfettered pleasure that comes with dancing your fingers across a computer keyboard, but Typing of the Dead is easily the very best, funniest, and most entertaining of the bunch. The only thing that could make this endlessly replayable, thoroughly addictive typing game even better is the addition of some satisfying and surprisingly competitive multiplayer gameplay.

Like the original House of the Dead 2, Typing of the Dead started out as an arcade cabinet, allowing two typists to play cooperatively. Even though you progress in the game just as you would through the original, there’s something so much more competetitive about comparing scores in a skill-building game like this one. Just how good a typist are you? Well, apparently not anywhere near as good as your dear friend Jerry.

Even today, Typing of the Dead is a staple for gamer parties and easy-going competitions, especially for those of us who like to combine our two favorite pleasures (games and writing) into one glorious medium. Translation? A game blogger’s wet dream. It may not feel worth it to pick up two Dreamcast keyboards, but trust me, if there’s any game whose multiplayer co-op earns the purchase of two extra, giant peripherals, it’s this one.

9. Dynamite Cop

Alex Riggen: Dynamite Cop and Sega’s Die Hard series were both great attempts at taking the beat’em up genre into the 32-bit and polygonal era. The gameplay was extremely similar with you and a friend running through a variety of diverse levels, beating up everything in sight. The most noticeable improvement was an increase in things to do with a larger variety of weapons and items to interact with in the environments and QTE sections that added to the “Hollywood action flick” vibe. Dynamite Cop makes for some of the best co-op action on the Dreamcast and while the game is a little short it’s still a blast to play through with a friend.

8. Phantasy Star Online

Flake: It might seem like a no-brainer to play console video games with friends over the Internet but in 1999 the very concept was witchcraft. On 9 September 1999, there was more than one gamer who puzzled over the built-in 56k modem in the back of their shiny new Dreamcast wondering what the point of it could possibly be. Phantasy Star Online was to be their answer.

Phantasy Star Online is a dungeon crawler with an unforgettable sci-fi aesthetic and an emphasis on playing with friends. Small groups of players would party up and set out on missions across an exotic alien world, utilizing the strengths of their character classes to overcome hordes of monsters. Players came to really feel a sense of ownership for their characters as they built up their skills and gained access to powerful equipment that was as much a joy to look at for its artistic design as it was to use in combat.

Of course, being the progenitor of such dynamic, community oriented online gameplay for consoles, PSO was also the birthplace of griefing, trolling, hacking, cheating, stealing, and all the other things that make us wonder why we ever get on the Internet. The servers for Phantasy Star Online have long since been shut down, and getting the game online now is incredibly difficult and depends on unreliable 3rd party methods. Fortunately, since PSO Episodes I and II for the Gamecube offers split-screen co-op, it is still possible to dungeon crawl alien worlds with buddies, Sega style.

7. Toejam and Earl: Panic in Funkotron

Scott Morrison: ToeJam and Earl in Panic on Funkotron ditched everything from its predecessor and did something completely different, and succeeded in every way. Panic on Funkotron combined mass hysteria with vivid landscapes and even threw in a rhythm game to create one of the more insanely awesome co-op experiences on the Sega Genesis. One could go through the adventure in an attempt to calmly collect the earthlings with nothing to fear, but the game would force insanity in your face whether you were ready for it or not. I can only imagine the game designers yelling at each other while trying to capture all the earthlings and hoping we would all share the same “teamwork” methods before realizing they had a gem of a game. Crafted with such style and humor, it was hard not to laugh at every nuance from the trampoline-judging panel to the donut-devouring alien hell-bent on wooing Earl. Panic on Funkotron was passable in single-player, but clearly meant to be enjoyed with a friend since it stars two of the raddest bro’s this side of the galaxy.

6. Golden Axe

Sven Wohl: Golden Axe is one of the only Arcade Games I have memories of seeing in an actual arcade. Although I could only see the demo screen and never was actually able to play it, I was still intrigued by the overall flair of the game. Those gigantic special attacks looked pretty awesome to me back in the days. I was very happy when the first Golden Axe was released for the virtual console on the Wii, because that meant I could finally play it. I mostly played the game together with friends and it created many great memories thanks to those long play sessions. Screwing each other over in this game is a lot of fun, partly because annoying each other is always such a great source of enjoyment in these games, especially if you get bored of it. Three different characters with slight differences between them gave you some room to experiment with. While the graphics don’t hold up so well today and the music sounds kind of dull, it’s still perfectly playable today.

5. Streets of Rage 2

Tom Kyzivat: The Streets of Rage series added a lot to the genre.  A girl, for one thing.  Final Fight, Double Dragon: total sausage fests.  Sega was never shy about slapping a miniskirt on a girl and throwing her into peril.  But back to the point, the series stood out to me as an innovator, and Streets of Rage 2 was pretty much the pinnacle of beat’em ups.  And because I love beat’em ups so much, it stands to reason that they would be my favorite co-op game.  Especially as someone who had an older brother who was always better at every game, it was nice to actually be playing on the same team.  Nothing could be better than taking on swarms of baddies with your brother–a huge arsenal of attacks and throws at your disposal.  And if I remember right, friendly fire was enabled, but it didn’t take damage.  That’s always fun, because even if you’re on the same team, there’s nothing wrong with roughing up your partner a little.  No harm, no foul.  The one thing I think that would have made the game even better for co-op was if they kept the team-up moves from the first game.  If you threw your friend, they’d do a little flippy attack on the opponent.  Very fun to do!

Even after all these years, this game is still amazing in every detail, from the cool characters and varied move sets, the interactive backgrounds, the music, to the overall presentation (including little “intros” every time you meet a new kind of enemy–nice touch!), this game delivered on all fronts.  This is the King of Beat’em Ups, and it rules over co-op play with an iron fist.

4. Gunstar Heroes

John Doherty: How do you even begin to sum up how awesome Gunstar Heroes is? It’s a fast paced shooter with a lot of weapons, huge explosions, AND it’s co op? Im not sure what else you would want from a game. Its combat is immediately engaging and quite robust for its time. Throwing enemies around the screen or sliding into them is always a blast and never gets dull. I’ve always loved being able to decide if I’d like to play free shot or fixed shot. It’s a simple choice that radically changes gameplay.

The game is gorgeous, one of the best looking Genesis games. The breathtaking backgrounds combined with the fluid animations and particles emitting from anything and everything really give the game a unique look. It’s   graphics are fast just like the gameplay and really help set the tone of the game. This is the kind of game that when you were a kid convinced you that Blast Processing was a thing.

To this day I’ll still pull out the Genesis with some friends and just sit back and enjoy it. It’s not only one of the best co op games on a Sega console, but one of the best games to be found on one at all.

3. Zombies Ate My Neighbors

Scott Morrison: Zombies Ate My Neighbors made zombies cool before anyone even knew they should be cool.  Not only that, but ZAMN (it even has an awesome 90s acronym!), had one of the best cooperative experiences in Sega-related videogames.  ZAMN combined cheesy movies with top-down adventure for a rather large game that consumed many a Saturday afternoon for the neighborhood kids and myself.  With all sorts of crazy weapons from squirt guns and soda cans to silverware and popsicles, it’s a wonder we don’t apply these tactics in current zombie endeavors.  ZAMN made it clear that only a pair of rambunctious teens can defeat the on slot of werewolves, zombies, giant babies, and mummies, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

2. Guardian Heroes

Flake: They just do not make games like Guardian Heroes any more. They re-release them, but they sure as hell do not make them anymore. In creating Guardian Heroes, developer Treasure combined flashy Japanese-cartoon style graphics, pure arcade gameplay, and a jazzy, saxophone infused soundtrack to create one of the greatest two-player adventures of the 32-bit era.

The game is a technical marvel, even today. You and a friend will be fighting screens filled with enough enemy sprites that you can almost hear your Sega Saturn struggling to keep up. Guardian Heroes is also robust enough to bring your friends back over for more with multiple (incredibly convoluted) story-lines, secret characters, and (when the spirit of cooperation leaves the room) a versus mode for up to six players.

1. Toejam & Earl

Mike Kyzivat: This is a great game, I could go on and on about every aspect of this game, the enemy design, level design, level generator, present system, humor, but this is a write up about the top ten co-op games, so I’m gonna keep the discussion to that.

Man, I remember playing this game for hours and hours on my little TV in my room when I was a kid.  It was so much fun exploring “earth” to find the missing pieces of Toejam and Earl’s wrecked space ship, and nothing was more fun (and faster) then doing it co-op.  The way the co-op was implemented blew my tiny little kid mind.  Now, back then most games that had co-op meant you were stuck on the same screen, so if player one wanted to go to the left but player 2 is all the way to the right, you’re stuck until player 2  decides to finally follow you. But not in Toejam and Earl, they could be on the same screen at once sticking together as friends do, but if you wanted to cover more ground quicker then it would be best to split up.  By simply walking too far apart the screen automatically splits horizontally and moves Toejam to the top screen and Earl to the bottom, letting you freely move about the world and find the pieces of your lost ship.  And when you decide to team up again the screen just snaps back to a single screen as Toejam and Earl great each other. Not only could you play split screen on the same level but the split screen even worked if Toejam or Earl fell off a level or moved up a level.  For example: I could be on level 5 while my brother could be trapezing around on level 8 if he wanted to.

Now you’re probably wondering then why stay together at all?  Well there are some very good reasons to.  For one the enemies will divide their attention on who to attack, and when you open a present when you’re both on the same screen you both get the effects (good or bad).  Also if Earl uses all his lives he can borrow one from Toejam when he runs out or vice verse.

If you love co-op exploration games with a hint of combat and a lot of humor, give this game a try, you won’t regret it.  And it is easily the best in the series as well.

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