Alright, we have been playing a lot of 2 player NES co-op lately and are ready to unveil our top 10 experiences! There are a lot of games to consider, and we have played almost all of them, though I’m sure we missed a few. Playing a good game with a good friend is something we love to do and we are sure you do too. We cousins want to help you with what games are best to have a great time! So call a friend (or a cousin), grab 2 controllers and get playing!!!
Now this list is not set in stone, if we play a game again and love it, happen to find a new game that we have never played before or if some of you encourages us to look at a certain game again and reevaluate we might change the list.
UPDATE! We just played Jackal based on your recommendations, it was never released in Europe so we did not really know of it until recently and we really don’t like playing games on emulators.. Anyhow, it’s on the list now and therefore knocks Snake Rattle N Roll off the list! Like i said this list is not set in stone 🙂
10. Ice Climber (1985)
Ice Climber… Even though one can argue that this game is not “co-op” it is a type of simultaneous 2 player game you can enjoy whether you treat it as co-op or a competition.
I have been playing this one for more than 20 years and somehow it never gets stale.
From the great year of 1985 this game has truly stood the test of time. It was one of the 17 launch games for the NES in the US so some people might think it’s blasé, but we still love it. Just climb to the top! and watch out for asshole seals and stuff. Just knock them out with your hammer and keep climbing and catch that pterodactyl on top! I guess that dates this game at the Mesozoic era? Or does it take place during the Ice Age? Maybe the pterodactyls are time travelers? In any case, it’s a fun game!
Ice Climber offers more of a casual experience and has a fun setting for everyone even though it gets real tough in the later stages.
9. Double Dragon II: The Revenge (1988)
We are huge fans of beat ’em ups but we feel the genre didn’t reach it’s full potential in 8-bit form. Most of our favorites are on the SNES but the NES has a few good ones. Double Dragon II is one of them, and it is the best Double Dragon on the NES in our opinion. Beating up some jerks who think they are better than you always feels good and Double Dragon II does that very well. You fight on the streets, on top of buildings and in a helicopter just to name a few examples. It has some platforming sections that we feel like they should have skipped but doesn’t ruin the experience in any great way.
If you like this game try: Double Dragon II for the PC Engine, Final Fight CD
8. Life Force (1986)
We are not very experienced when it comes to shoot ’em ups (Shmups) but Life Force is too good to ignore. A sequel to Gradius that takes you and your friend inside a huge organism full of dangers. Co-op in console shmups was not that common at the time of Life Force’s release so this title really stands out. We kind of suck in this game and it is very tough to clear, but more often than not, that only makes it more fun!
If you like this game try: Ginga Fukei Densetsu: Sapphire
7. Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers (1990)
Chichichichip and Dale! Rescue Rangers! We played this one a lot in the past. It is an extremely solid platformer, with the rare addition of co-op. Your main way of attacking is throwing boxes you can find everywhere, and if you are feeling mischievous you can pick up your pal too and throw him wherever. After all this time we find this game a bit too forgiving but I’m sure first timers will find the difficulty to be no major issue.
If you like this game try: Bonk 3, Shovel Knight co-op on Wii U
6. Jackal (1988)
Jackal never made it to Europe so we didn’t play it seriously until recently after we got dozens of recommendations from our readers. Aaaand you were right, I ordered Jackal on ebay and it is awesome. Two players rush a base of bad guys, rescue captured allies, bomb enemy tanks, soldiers, turrets, planes and engaging bosses. Stuff will continuously try to kill you all the time so you have to stay on your toes. This game is a bit short but very sweet. It feels great, the guerrilla tough guy setting is great and the presentation is great too. Quality co-op game for anyone who wants to grab a controller for just 30-45 minutes.
If you like this game try: Guerrilla War, Shock Troopers
5. Nintendo World Cup (1990)
Still the best soccer game ever made, Nintendo World Cup is always a great choice if you want to have some fun. You control two players and you are allowed to tackle and elbow-shot your opponents and just take the ball, hopefully rendering the opposite players paralyzed and unable to continue play.
Yes this soccer game has almost no rules and its famous bicycle kick super shots make it comedic and unreal, which is what makes it fun. The OST is pretty tits too…
this game was originally not made as a World Cup video game at all. This game is originally a Nekketsu game, so the Japanese version does not include any national teams and your team is just made up of some high school punks that elbow their way to the grand soccer stage.
It is so funny that they passed this ridiculous game off as a legitimate World Cup soccer game. Still, I didn’t question it at the time, I just loved playing it.
We have played this game so much and we have gotten so good at it that it does not really challenge us anymore but first timers will definitely not be able to beat the tougher teams towards the end in their first go. Try it!
If you like this game try: Nekketsu Dodgeball
4. Bubble Bobble (1986)
Bubble Bobble is a great game that everyone can enjoy. You and your buddy play as two dinosaurs that can shoot bubbles to trap enemies. After you trap them you have to pop that bubble to finish them off. Rinse and repeat in diverse stages with various enemies for more than 100 stages and you clear the game!
It is difficult to finish this game without using a continue, but if you don’t care about that stuff you have unlimited supply of those so it can offer both a casual and a hardcore experience.
If you like this game try: Parasol Stars, Snow Bros.
3. Contra (1987)
Run and gun co-op goodness. This very difficult game of course makes the list and does so for a good reason. Tight controls, fun guns, great environment, nice tunes and great co-op action. Beating it without the Konami code is quite the feat and will take many tries making the game last while keeping it fun the whole time. If you are in a more casual mood you can enter the Konami code for 30 lives but the game’s fun lies it it’s difficulty and pattern memorization.
If you like this game try: Super C, Sunset Riders
2. River City Ransom[USA]/Street Gangs[EU] (1989)
River City Ransom is a high school punk beat em’ up RPG. The premise of this game and everything you do in it is so fantastic. You beat up some no good girlfriend stealing punks who cry out “mamaaa!!” or “I’m history dude!” and then just grab a bite of sushi afterwards to boost your stats, or you can buy martial arts books in order to gain new moves. Going through this one with a pal is so much fun and you will want to play it all over again even though you just finished it.
If you like this game try: Cadash, Final Fight CD
1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game (1990)
After Super Mario Bros. Turtles 2: The Arcade Game is probably the game i have played the most in my life. This is an extremely well made beat em’ up co-op action game that anyone will enjoy. The game is not too hard but not too easy either.
I realize that we are a bit biased towards this game because of it’s nostalgic appeal but we cannot let any other game get the number 1 spot with a good conscious, we have just played it too much to do so.
Imagine if they would have used the four score and made it 4-player? Yeah.. a man can dream… but the NES would not have handled it. But even as a 2-player game it excels for having good levels, fun enemies, tight controls, sweet tunes and just extremely fun 2-player gameplay.
Of course if you like this one you should check out Turtles III which is the sequel to this one. It is a very good but I also didn’t want it to hog a spot in the list. Just play it if you like Turtles 2!
If you like this game try: Turtles in Time, Turtles III, Knights of the Round
Full review: https://cousingaming.com/2015/12/25/teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-ii-the-arcade-game-2/
That’s it! Is it anything like what your list would be? Let us know what you think and tell us what game you thought we left out!
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One thought on “Top 10 NES Co-Op games”
Happy to see Ice Climbers there. Definitely a classic co-op game.