Posted at 5:00 AM Aug 24, 2009
By Merritt Martin
I'm coming out of the first three months of shacking up with my boy. We're still learning each other's quirks. Some things about the boy are excellent: He makes a great sandwich, he--without complaint and often without being asked--brings me cold, bedside water, he has no problem that my feet are essentially 'bergs that gravitate toward his lava-like legs at 3 a.m. But there's one thing that's forced me to do some research: He plays one-person video games. They require him to fight off scavengers after a nuclear holocaust (Fallout 3's music is cool, but I'm OVER it), unite with blood elfs and perform excessive tasks for other people (because I want to watch him run errands during World of Warcraft), and drive a badass race car when I can't (GRID is so not fair).
So, I took it upon myself to trade in some games of my own, ask some pro gamers I know for help and appeal to my boy's desire to please to find some rather awesome games that we can play together. Because as much as I want him to have fun playing his games, he's got plenty of time for that--and it's not when I'm cuddled up next to him...with a controller in my hands ready and willing to kick his ass*. Digitally speaking, of course.
*Keep in mind, I may use boy-girl talk, but that's because it's my experience. These games can rock for girl-on-girl and guy-on-guy video fun times too. And that's not nearly as dirty as it sounds ...unless you do it naked, which is totally an option, no matter how you couple up.
10. Guitar Hero (PS3/Wii/X360)
Easy pick, but Guitar Hero is excellent for the gamer who's gradually bringing a non-player into his world. When I asked my gamer friend, VicTwenty (I'll use his gamer tag, because I think he'd like that) his thoughts on this list, he went right to da Hero. It's fun, it's silly, it provides an easy common bond and neither of you need musical experience to play. And if one of you happens to actually play bass or guitar in real life, well, this just evens things out since that actually makes it harder to play Guitar Hero (according to my boy who says that it makes no sense on any level below hard). The two of you can jam out together, swapping between parts each song, throwing the rock sign and kicking like the Wilson sisters when appropriate. From experience, Aerosmith and Metallica can prove way more challenging than expected, but singing along while trying to play can incite huge belly laughs. Also, how funny is it to see what heavy metal avatar your S.O. will pick? It's never who you expect... Go Judy Nails!
9. Lego Games (PS3/Wii/X360)
From Indiana Jones, to Harry Potter, to Star Wars, the Lego franchise is badass for creating two-player storyline games that couples can play simultaneously. Some complaints have been that tasks can be a little repetitive, but given that you're actually achieving stuff and moving through a challenge, it's fairly forgivable. VicTwenty also offered these games as another suggestion for the gamers-at-different-levels issue. Characters we all know and give a shit about also help. And it's not like anyone ever hated a Lego.
8. TIE: Wii Sports/Resort (Wii) and FIFA Soccer 09 (PS3/Wii/X360)
OK, so shoot me, I'm lumping the sports games together. But that's only so I can talk about both and not leave a really awesome game out. Basically, Wii Sports is great for peeps who actually want to get up off of the couch when they play a game (not as much off the couch as Wii Fit, but a little). "Play" tennis, baseball, golf, bowling or boxing, using the remote and occasionally a nunchuck, depending on the game. You could box your boyfriend without laying a hand on him. You could strike out your girlfriend without knocking her to the mound. It's fun--especially for couples of varying size who could never actually participate in certain sports together ... which is kind of a strange bonus, but is actually valid. Resort includes swordplay, wakeboarding, Frisbee, cycling (so strange) and more. Now, FIFA is different. This is a sit-down, pick out the team, switch from player to player, and maybe organize a tournament situation. Great for when you and your partner are both fans of a particular sport, or for when you're trying to convey just how awesome soccer really is (because it is truly awesome) and you really can't stand John Madden's voice no matter how much fun it is to play video game football. As with most pro sport games, you can pit dream teams against each other or play actual line-ups and historical rivalries (Chelsea FC or ManU?).
7. Hasbro Family Game Night (Wii/X360)
So maybe you like board games but your partner digs on the video. Meet in the middle. Thus far, our favorite of the suite (which also offers Connect Four, Battleship, Sorry, Sorry Sliders and Boggle--and is hosted by Mr. Potato Head) is Yahtzee, since he gets a few poker-like challenges and, well, I just love a satisfying dice game. Plus, unlike Battleship, you don't have to look away when the other person plays. The huge bonus with the Game Night suite though, is that you never lose pieces or run out of the pads that come with board games, and there is no passive-aggressive conflict a week after playing, concerning who should put up the game box. Because that happens. It really does. And it's never pretty.
6. Mario Kart (Wii)
Everyone loves a good driving game. Why not play a driving game where, instead of having to go to the bowling alley and bully tweens out of the Need For Speed driver seats just to use a steering wheel and play against each other, you can simply hold up a clean white one on your couch and drive go-karts and motorcycles while throwing banana peels, squid ink and other weird shit at each other ... or your enemies--but you know you're totally throwing it at each other. The vehicles are fun, the characters are old familiars we all love (except the Princess, with her holier-than-thou attitude--what an asshole), and the various levels are diverse and fun. Well, except that twisty, turny Rainbow Road. That level can eat a dick.