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my favourite video games to play with my girlfriend

Thanks to Covid-19, I’ve had a lot of time to refine my video game preferences over the past few months. I no longer have any interest in vast, open-world, single-player, plot-driven games with 144-hour play-times featuring next-gen graphics that only the newest hardware can support. On the other side of the spectrum, I’ve grown away from competitive, online, multiplayer games. Additionally, I’ve always been a fan of big party games like the Jackbox games sets, but those games require a handful of players, which requires a handful of scheduling and organization.

However, somewhere between these two genres is an extremely under-appreciated set of games I like to call “Gaby Games” (My girlfriend’s name is Gaby. I was going to call it girlfriend games, but then I realized that’s not very inclusive and implies some generalization about females and video games, which isn’t my intention at all). Gaby Game Definition: A local co-op game for 2 people with simple controls, charming gameplay, and some form of progression.

Here’s a list of my favourite couch co-op Nintendo Switch games, along with a rating out of 10 by Gaby:

4. Castle Crashers Remastered (8.5)

Castle Crashers is a 2D hack-and-slash game that was originally released in 2008. The game features a co-op campaign with a straight-forward progression system. New mechanics and features are introduced in almost every level, keeping us interested and invested through the whole game.

Here’s the thing, the controls are a little more complicated than the other games on this list, but the skill-floor is very low, meaning you don’t have to know what you’re doing to have fun. Throughout almost the entire game, you can basically button mash through any combat (other than boss fights) with relative success.

This game is equal parts cute, crude, silly, and exciting, but most of all, it’s a lot of fun.

“I liked that we had to work together. Also, upgrading was fun, like, I liked being rewarded XP to choose what to use it on. Plus the other rewards like food, weapons, money, and gems… idk what the gems were now that I mention it. Ooh and I liked having to figure out the bad guys’ kryptonite also how money was obtainable, like we didn’t have to be SUPER good to buy several potions.”

- Gaby

Similar Game(s): Full Metal Furies

3. Super Mario Party (8.5)

This is the only big-name game on this list, but we had a lot of fun playing it. Mario Party is a board-game-esque party game peppered with exciting and creative mini-games between rounds. The maps aren’t anything to call home about relative to other games in the series, but the batch of mini-games in this newest Mario Party is pretty solid. It also features a 2v2 mode (we played against CPUs), which features some new mechanics and co-operative mini-games.

Mario Party is Mario Party… there isn’t too much to say about it, but I wanted to include it on the list.

“Umm… I like the mini-games. And that it’s unpredictable - like u could be losing and come out with the dub.”

- Gaby

Similar Game(s): uhhhhh… Mario Kart 8 Deluxe?

2. The Stretchers (9.0)

The Stretchers is… zany. It’s an action/puzzle game that requires teamwork and coordination. The gimmick is, for a large portion of the game, you have to skillfully maneuvour together as two “medics” on either side of a stretcher.

This game is non-stop silliness. The plot is outrageous; the gameplay is cartoony; the collaborative movement is hilarious; if you step on a skateboard, your character goes flying, and at the end of the level, you get docked an insignificant amount of points for getting “skateboarded.” The whole game is amusing and requires teamwork throughout. Even when driving between levels, one person drives this indestructible ambulance while the other activates a boost and controls the deployable wings.

This game is weird but tons of fun. I think we beat the game in a few nights (maybe 7 hours for the whole game), but we laughed out loud at least once every session.

“I liked how silly it was. We laughed a lot. And the levels were always different and fun. I liked having to always work together, and the driving added a fun element.”

- Gaby

Similar Game(s): Moving Out, Phogs!

1. Out of Space: Couch Edition (9.5)

I describe this game to my friends as “Overcooked but a good game.” Out of Space, also referred to as “The Cleaning Game” by Gaby, was our favourite video game to play together.

Basically, you arrive at a procedurally-generated, alien-infested space ship, and you win by cleaning it. Sounds fun, right?

But here’s the thing: you need to generate resources, make multiple shot-calls about short-term (order a pizza) vs. long-term (buy a pumpkin generator) decisions, tackle evolving aliens with different tools (mop, bucket of water, dog). Ugh this game is just so easy to get into but is full of choices and communication. In Overcooked, it feels like it’s the two of you vs. the clock - but in Out of Space, it’s the two of you vs. your environment vs. yourselves vs. the spaceship vs. time and space.

Gaby wasn’t feeling it at all after trying the tutorial, but once she got into it a little more, we probably played an hour or two of it every day of our quarantine. I highly recommend this game.

“Very fun. A bit stressful at times… If you like your heart rate increasing while playing a game, then this game is for you. But ya I like having to conquer a whole map, and working together is fun. Also, being able to move stuff and purchase things, like you can make it fun it’s kind of like playing house while having to complete an objective.”

- Gaby

Similar Game(s): Overcooked 2, Catastronauts, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime