If these don't work - Maybe it wasn't meant to be...
In my recent Gaming Like a Dad post I made mention to ensuring that you spend time with your partner. There’s a good chance that if you’re a gamer, they are not (we haven’t penetrated society that deeply yet) but that doesn’t mean they can’t get some enjoyment out of your console. This list is intended to cover games you will play WITH your partner, not ones which a non-gamer might enjoy (that’s why the Sims or Bejeweled didn’t make it on here), furthermore these are games which you will likely want to play (so the likes of Just Dance or Dance Dance Revolution aren’t here either). Due to the nature of the topic we’ve slipped in some results which are more Genre’s or Series rather than titles unto themselves, we’ll be as specific as possible.
Rules established! On with the list.
10 Party Games (That’s You, Crash Bash, Mario Party, Buzz)
This comes first as it’s an easy option. It isn’t a gateway into further gaming and beginners are rapidly as good as experts in a short space of time. The titles mentioned are arguably better with 4 players but you can still have fun with 2 on the premise that you’ll be practicing for when the family comes to visit. That’s You! On the PS4 gains kudos thanks to the mobile phone interface which will avoid you having to obtain numerous controllers on a console generation that is swiftly forgetting/dismissing couch co-op #notbitter.
9 Light-Gun Shooters - House of the Dead, Resident Evil Chronicles
I’m going to admit early on here (as it’s relevant in several places), my wife is a horror fan. As a result she enjoys a bit of comic book violence and the House of the Dead series with it’s simple controls and being complete-able in a single sit in makes it a good choice for the list. You’ll doubtful replay it again and again in a single sitting but the 15-20 minute session works well. There will be some debates as to whether the game favours attacking a certain side of the screen (maybe it does?) and some crossed words if you “steal” a health up on their side (which they were too slow to notice anyways) but overall it won’t cause full blown argument. It’s also worth mentioning the Resident Evil Chronicles games here as the movie franchise peaked my wife’s interest in the series and despite a slower pace, the story is nicely broken up into 15 minute chunks which will result in a longer session at times. If you’re a fan of the game series you’ll also get a nice nostalgia hit off the story which follows a retelling of Resi Zero, 1, 2, 3 and Code Veronica albeit with some inclusions from the movies and the remasters.
8 Wii Sports & Resort & Play
A bit sunnier this time. Everyone loved Wii Sports. These need no introduction really and whilst could easily fall into the same category as party games (specifically Wii Party) they avoid doing so by being more engaging for 2 players than most. Can’t say much more than what you probably already know on this one!
7 Until Dawn
Back into the Horror genre. This was a recent freebie on the PS+ and not too dissimilar to the offerings from Tell Tale Games, but different enough to stand alone. Style wise this is very realistic looking (your partner couldn’t help but be impressed at the graphics and the likenesses to the actors involved who they’ll surely recognise). The game is one which is pretty much as fun to watch as to take part so despite its single player status it still works. It’s largely decision based and switches between multiple characters so there is the option to controller share if they’re feeling brave! The story is context sensitive to your decisions so if you or your partner is left wondering “what if I said…” you can find out on another playthrough. Finally it’s also set into chapters taking circa 45 minutes so it’s like an episode of a TV show if they like watching anything from the US…
Going to go classic for bit now. You need to be careful when choosing your Bomberman game as the series as seen a decline in it’s later years. Best examples of the series would be back from the 16 bit days; Super Bomberman 2 (1, 3 & 4 are all good choices too), Mega Bomberman all the way up to Saturn Bomberman. Anything on the N64 or Xbox is worth steering well clear of! Whilst the games mostly include a coop campaign this is second to the multiplayer which works a great system where you can team up to take down the AI Bombers before going turncoat on one another. Only piece of advice here is let them instigate any foul play (because eventually they will) as after that the gloves can come off for a battle royale (were you to double cross your partner prior to them you’re likely to be appointing divorce lawyers in the near future (I’m yet to experience Bomberman fuelled makeup sex but I imagine it’s glorious)…
5 Streets of Rage 2
One that many may not think of. I’ve found that the simple nature of a scrolling fighter is a satisfying romp for any gaming noob. It helps that there are some basic combos which can be used too so they know they’re getting better. I’ve chosen Streets of Rage 2 as in my opinion it’s the best example of the genre (the third title is also an option but somehow the look hasn’t aged as well). It also includes a female character and I found that women gravitate towards playing as Blaze (if your other half is of the fairer sex), thankfully she’s well balanced to boot.
Fair warning – If you accidentally throw a punch their way (in game naturally), expect them to demand reparations in a playground fashion, also be careful were you throw weapons and enemies as they’ll hold that against you for a while! Make sure you also share the health ups, first refusal system works best!
4 Mario Kart Series
Purists will tell you the series hasn’t improved since the N64 days, or even the SNES (I’m an advocate for the DS release personally) but realistically the Wii release is where you’ll want to start however (as frankly, everyone has a Wii!). It won’t take long for anyone to get the hang of the controls and even “get good” at the game. I’d recommend against the battle mode, at least at first as they’ll no doubt fall foul to environmental hazards and leaving themselves exposed to attack. The vs mode is the best option. Take turns choosing courses and steer clear of anything with too many obstacles (traffic mainly!) or mazes. The games are all built around a system whereby the further back you are the better your power-ups so you may find that after their 3rd Star and 2nd Spiky Shell you’ll be angrier than they are…until their good enough to beat you!
3 Tell Tale Series
The beauty of these games comes from the fact they span a lot of popular media. Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Guardians of the Galaxy, er… Jurassic Park? Largely a story involving choices and QTE’s, it’s possible to enjoy these as a viewer as much as a player. They’re episodic, largely with the first episode becoming free after a short while so you can properly try before you buy. You’ll be impressed with just how ruthless your other half’s mind is over yours (I was at least, I’m a pacifist by comparison!) as you decide the fate of the characters whom you’ll try to save or let die…Jo chose to let Duck die…Chris will remember this…
A special note goes out to the oft overlooked Back to the Future series. I enjoyed this a great deal and was not aware prior to playing that is was actually even a Tell Tale game (so surely there are others who may not have noticed). It’s still readily available for Steam and PS4 so go try it.
Ah! Fightin’! One of the oldest genre’s in the history of gaming and still a good choice for newcomers. I’ve chosen Tekken as my series of choice as there isn’t a reliance on special moves like Streetfighter and it has a good mix of characters rather than DoA’s buxom lady roster (which even the female gamers will begrudge selecting).Plus my wife apparently enjoys repeatedly trying to kick me in the crotch and I’m scared where she’ll channel this anger if she can’t do it virtually. For better or worse you can button mash your way to victory and look good with Eddie Gordo’s Capoeira moves.
Not only have I managed to spend countless hours with my wife on the Bust a Move series, I even came home once to find my parents playing it in my room whilst I was out. There’s a few puzzle games which you could look to play but the Bust a Move series has a certain bounce and personality about it that fills you with that “one more go” factor. Early on I would avoid the 3rd and 4th titles as the selectable characters which each have various different “attacks” which can prove an irritation. Bust a Move 2 and the Arcade and Neo Geo equivalents however keep the formula simple and make it possible for some tense moments and awesome comebacks. For these reasons I would give this as my personal recommendation for anyone to try with their partner. Now only if they released an updated version…
Life is Strange
If they prove to enjoy the Tell Tale games then you can’t go far wrong with this one too. The diversity of that series prevents this one from making the list but if they’ve a taste for the supernatural (but not necessarily horror) it’s a good option for all the same reasons.
If they can get a handle on the left=anticlockwise, right=clockwise movement this is a hoot. The latest entry hasn’t reviewed well (not played it myself) but the 16bit iterations on Megadrive (SNES has some native screen resolution issues) still retain a lot of charm graphically. The natural mechanics mean that the closer you are to the edge of the screen, the more difficult it is!
Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing Transformed
The next stage after Mario Kart has been exhausted! It’s a much faster game and includes changing vehicle mechanics which might take some getting used for beginners (which is why Mario is a better option at first!) but it’s much prettier and a definitely worth some time.
In my mind this was a great choice to introduce to my spouse. In reality it’s a physics based game with strict time limits and instant death and friendly-fire situations. Try explaining the complexities of a well-aimed bazooka shot factoring in wind resistance and why that’s a better option than a sheep in the space of 60 seconds to someone who spent 10 minutes naming their characters after school friends and first pets and you’ll understand…
Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball
Sure, it’s got a simple gameplay mechanic focused on timing and rhythm. All your other half will see is that you’re spending your free time oogling women in bikini’s which you spend more time choosing a gift for than them. Avoid!