Megamind: Ultimate Showdown – A co-op mode for one player

The reason for purchasing Megamind was solely for co-op to play with my girlfriend. After looking through a vast array of PS3 and Xbox 360 titles in the shops together there was only an apparent choice of three games or so games that weren’t either extortionate second hand prices or fighting / racing. We ended up settling on Megamind as it looked strong for co-op and straightforward enough to play (ie no complex learning curve).

Coop = watch your friend play the game?

Unfortunately it has really let us down with a very weak co-op. There is absolutely nothing for the second player to do, meaning one person is entertained (well to the extent that you can be entertained by the game) whilst the other is pretty bored. Only the main character is able to interact with objects, as well as dictating the camera and general gameplay with the second player limited to flying around and shooting objects.

Two fairly simple ways that this could have been improve is by either allowing the second player to complete tasks so that they don’t feel completely pointless or providing additional tasks that they can perform. Even providing a chunk of BINKY orbs to pick up in locations unreachable to the main Megamind character would have made a significant difference. A much more desirable approach though would be to utilise both players at once, co-operating to access hidden areas or pickups. Simply having two players activating buttons simultaneously creates a genuine need, but even better is to have players work for each other. Littlebigplanet is an excellent example of this, where one player might pull down a pathway to a platform for the second player. The second player then performs their own action to help their friend get to the platform as well. Tasks like this could have been implemented into Megamind and would have created a much more satisfying experience for the second player (and if the first isn’t a completely selfish bastard, them as well).

Minigames provide additional coop gameplay such as shoot at nothing.

Apparently there are a few things that the second player can do, for example jumping high, however with no tutorial or guidance in the slightest you have no insight into what can be done, therefore missing out on opportunities to actually contribute. Given the main tutorial took such careful baby steps, it seems pretty lazy to then completely ignore the second player. One, just ONE little extra instruction or set piece for those instances with a second player would have gone a long, long way.

Sadly the minigames, an excellent opportunity to improve the co-op, are even more lacking with some having pretty much nothing to do except watch player one play the game. To be fair, some do provide unique play for the second player. For example in Megabowl the second player can shoot stuff (unlike Megamind)… however of course there is nothing to shoot. Yey!

Player 2 is about there… somewhere

What makes a rather feeble experience even worse is that the second player’s character is bloody hard to see! Given the relatively small size and a that colour blends into the background, it can be far too easy to completely lose track of where your character is meant to be on the screen. As a result a good portion of your time is spent flying about shooting to just figure out where you are. If you disappear of the screen thankfully you are respawned pretty sharpish, but frustratingly this is actually within Megaman’s character, making it nigh on possible to identify yourself!

There is one advantage to such a lightweight combat. It does allow parents to pick up the second controller whilst their child is playing. It won’t really affect the outcome of the game at all, but it provides an excellent opportunity for parents to spend time with kids and learn about the games that they are playing. No skill or experience required! Given some of the ignorant views held that kids are addicted to violent hate, death and rape simulators, I’m a strong advocate of parents playing games with their kids. You know, actually engaging with them.

Despite the potential power of co-op getting parents involved in games like Megamind: Ultimate Showdown, I strongly doubt that THQ were thinking about the moral and social implications of a co-op. Instead it very much feels like they’ve went “Oh yeah, should probably do a co-op. Lets have Minion just fly about and be done with it.”

Source: Xbox 360
Completion: More than I care for tbh. About 2/3rds way through I think (all co-op)

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