Co-op. Multi-player. What comes to mind? Depending on what generation you're from, it can vary. I immediately think of something like Captain Commando, but dudes younger than me might think of Halo, and kids now probably think of something like Battlefield 2. Either way, you can't help what generation you're born in. You can, however, help the way you approach an all-encompassing list of the best co-op games if you plan to do one. Game Informer attempted just that in the August 2012 issue with their "best co-op games of all-time," and failed miserably. They didn't fail quite as bad as when their idiots tried to do an article on game art, but they still did pretty bad. So bad, in fact, that you can tell hardly any (if any) of their "knowledgeable" staff was even around playing games when the "retro" titles they claim to know were current. Anybody around back then would know what it was like back then, and anybody around back then would have really composed a much different (and better) list of co-op titles. So many other, better games deserve to be on a list of best co-op titles seen by millions of people.

It's not just a staff of fake fools that killed their article in the water, though; the article was probably hamstrung by an emphasis on sales that limited the featured titles only to what is on GameStop shelves or what could be bought with cards sold on GameStop shelves. All the games featured can be purchased through GameStop one way or another; from either their shelves or through point cards they sell. Notice how there are no imports or titles from systems they do not carry? Exactly. This makes their list only about newer games; not about the best co-op titles of all-time.

Contra, Gunstar Heroes, Smash TV, Double Dragon, Gauntlet, Streets Of Rage 2, Turtles In Time...

What do they all have in common? That they they are all currently playable on Xbox Live and/or PlayStation Network. This is a dead giveaway that their staff doesn't know shit about the "retro gaming" they claim to know so much about. If they were around back then or knew a damn thing about it, we'd see the truly great, most memorable co-op titles of all-time on their list, but we don't. It's not about "informing" anyone of anything, or about the joy of co-op and/or multiplayer. It's about sales, and what sells. Bottom line, literally. If it weren't, the list would have turned-out much differently.

8-Bit Ignorance
Where's Ikari Warriors, Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road, or the beat-'em up Ikari Warriors III: The Rescue? Or the immensely popular Battletoads? Not seeing Battletoads on their list probably angered a lot of loyal Battletoads fans out there, and it's hard to blame them; at the time, the game was unique and almost unrivaled. The game is considered by many to be of Rare's best work! The absence of Double Dragon II and/or Double Dragon III surely have many scratching their heads, since they are two of the most iconic games ever; not just for the NES, but in the side-scrolling fighter genre. What about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - The Arcade Game, or its excellent Manhattan Project sequel? Contra did make their list, but again, it is available on digital re-release. They could've chosen any one of the many other entries in the series (Hard Corps, Shattered Soldier, or Neo), but opted to merely "get the job done" and choose what they knew was already on a billion other lists for a billion other sites.

16-Bit Ignorance
Nobody playing video games in the 16-bit era can deny the co-op legitimacy of Contra III: The Alien Wars. Arguably the best 2-D Contra game of all time, it's epic and mind-blowing today, yet nowhere to be found on their list. And that's just one Konami title. They included Teenage Mutant Turtles - Turtles In Time on their list (yet another digital download title), but not without expressing their shame for doing doing so and proceeding to ignore honorable mentions Bucky 'O Hare, Mystic Warriors, G.I. Joe, and the stellar Sunset Riders. If I remember correctly, either X-MEN or The Simpsons was an "honorable mention," but Konami really mastered the side-scrolling action genre, so it was particularly disheartening to see when those other titles weren't given the attention they deserved. Just ask anyone born in the 80's or any MAME emulator user; chances are they'll have these Konami classics.

Then there's Capcom 16-Bit co-op classics Final Fight, Final Fight 2, Final Fight 3, Saturday Night Slammasters, Warriors Of Fate, Cadillacs & Dinosaurs, Captain Commando, King Of Dragons, and the almighty Knights Of The Round. My favorite war-themed action co-op game of all-time (Mercs) came out of this era, and in good company with side-scrolling gunners SideArms and Forgotten Worlds. The bubble-blasting in Super Buster Bros. deserves an honorable 16-Bit mention, too. How ones like Final Fight didn't make it to Game Informer's co-op list is baffling, and the fact most of these titles had wide distribution in Capcom Classic Collections made it even more baffling. Jaleco even put out some good 16-Bit co-op with Rival Turf, Peace Keepers, and Brawl Brothers; good times playing Rival Turf as kids (Gigante was terrible). Were any of these titles on the list? No, and probably because these titles were either ignored at the time by, or before the time of Game Informer's staff. NBA Jam and Smash TV, were rightfully chosen, though, and deserved to be on the list. Both were fun and showed that an American developer could make a great co-op title without having to copy a Japanese developer.

32-Bit Ignorance
The Neo-Geo/Neo-Geo CD had perhaps more co-op goodness on it than any other hardware/console, and is pretty well-known; people everywhere see Neo-Geo machines everywhere (from laundromats to pizza parlors) and still play them. Metal Slug, Metal Slug 2, Metal Slug X, Metal Slug 3, Metal Slug 4, Metal Slug 5, Cyber-Lip, Ninja Combat, Ninja Commando, Sengoku, Sengoku 2 , Sengoku 3, Nam 1975, and more, all absent from Game Informer's co-op list (despite the recent SNK Arcade Classics compilation and Wii Virtual Console re-releases of these titles). All of these things considered, I'll never understand how they couldn't have at least put one SNK and/or Neo-Geo game on their list; would one less first-person shooting title really have made that much of a difference on their list?

Capcom reigned absolute supreme in the 32-Bit Golden Era, and they did so with titles that ruled arcades and homes everywhere. Alien VS Predator, Dungeons & Dragons: Tower Of Doom, Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara, and Armored Warriors; all were successful side-scrolling fighters because they had incredible co-op experiences. Alien VS Predator isn't just one of the most memorable co-op titles of all-time, but arguably one of the best licensed video games of all-time. To each their own, but I have never played a licensed title as well-done as AVSP. On the same hardware was 19XX, 1944, Mars Matrix, ProGear, Giga Wing, Dimahoo, and EcoFighters; all of which are great co-op shooting games that are sought after even today.

Street Fighter Alpha and Street Fighter Zero 2 Alpha even had great co-op with the dramatic battles where you and a friend teamed-up against boss characters in a two-on-one beatdown of epic proportions. This blew my mind the first time I saw it, and there was nothing more satisfying than teaming up with an old buddy to drive M. Bison into the ground. Despite having a Noms De Guerre (title) named after it in Lost Planet 2, little-known Captain Commando spiritual successor Battle Circuit didn't make it to their list, either, and probably still wouldn't even if remade for Xbox Live Arcade and/or PlayStation Network. It cannot be denied that Capcom made memorable co-op experiences across genres in the 32-Bit Golden era, yet not a single one of these time-tested titles made it to Game Informer's list. Why? Because mainstream media has always had a grudge against Capcom's Golden Age titles.

Shooting Ignorance
The "shmup," shooting, and/or "STG" genre was another that wasn't properly represented (if at all). If I am not mistaken, they didn't have a single one on their list. Titles like Raiden, DoDonPachi, and AeroFighters are co-op, aren't they? Or how about the over-rated-yet-popular Radiant Silvergun? Or the incredibly-underrated-and-unnoticed Terra Diver? GunBird, GunBird 2, and Strikers 1945 all came to the West with challenge and great co-op gameplay, yet were absent from the list. Spent a lot of time with Headquarters playing co-op Psikyo shooters; so much, in fact, that we actually got sick from playing Strikers 1945 for days. He even still remembers my raging at Gunbird 2; something I had long forgotten. The point? That even all these years after we still have fond memories of playing Psikyo shooters cooperatively. Nothing like completely coming undone after being utterly destroyed in Psikyo bullet hell. Good times.

The explosively fun RayStorm was even released on the PlayStation outside of Japan, and was remade for Xbox Live Arcade, yet still didn't make it to the list. Of course, if they couldn't even include one of the more popular shooting games mentioned, it's unlikely their below-average game knowledge would have included Armed Police Batrider, Dimahoo, Giga Wing, Mars Matrix, or any other less-popular shooting titles. Not even the perfectly-crafted, four-player Giga Wing 2 was included! Nor was Ikaruga, heralded by (an uneducated) many as the best modern shooter around. Developer Cave has gained considerable popularity since their adoption of Xbox 360 and iOS engines for their more recent shooting works (Guwange, DeathSmiles, DoDonPachi Resurrection, Ketsui, Ibara, MuchiMuchi Pork), and their accomplishments have went completely unnoticed; a travesty in itself because anyone who has played their games in co-op knows how fun they are. And this is all just some of what's out there for fun co-op shooting. Their complete ignorance of the shooting genre really speaks volumes about their objectives and motives.

64-Bit Ignorance
The 64-Bit era was blurred between and bled into both the 32-Bit and 128-Bit eras, but at the time it was impossible not to notice Gauntlet Legends. The game stood-out for its 4-Player 64-Bit hack & slash goodness, and a reason in itself to own a Nintendo 64. This game deserves to replace the old Gauntlet that Game Informer put on their co-op list. Why? Because that game is boring. Gauntlet Legends is fun and addictive, with success both in arcades and at home that was a testament to well-made American games. The only title that came remotely close to it at the time was SEGA's greatly entertaining, American-influenced Die-Hard Arcade. True, it wasn't quite as technologically-advanced, but Die-Hard Arcade enjoyed the same success, and was a lot better than some shit like Fighting Force. Both should be on any list of great co-op games, really, since anyone around at the time can remember seeing Die-Hard Arcade and Gauntlet Legends battle for quarters everywhere.

128-Bit Ignorance
Even those who know that they're GameStop's own publication will deny their any sort of foul play, objectives, or ulterior motives on Game Informer's part, but the proof is all there. Much of that proof is in Sega's DreamCast; another piece of hardware they blatantly ignored. The DreamCast was home to quite a few quality co-op titles; a fact that no knowledgeable game player or fan can deny. What made the DreamCast so great for co-op was variety and quality. The DreamCast had a variety of great co-op titles across genres, ranging from fighting (Street Fighter Alpha 3 Saikyo Dojo, SpikeOut, Dead Or Alive 2, Power Stone 2, Spawn - In The Demon's Hand, Gundam - Federation VS Zeon, Gundam - Federation VS Zeon DX, Heavy Metal - Geomatrix), light-gun shooting (The House Of The Dead 2, Ninja Assault), action (Cannon Spike, Alien Front Online), shooting (Giga Wing 2, Mars Matrix Elite, Zero Gunner 2, Ikaruga, Castle Shikigami 2), side-scrolling fighting (Dynamite Cop, Zombie Revenge), and even role-playing (Phantasy Star Online, Phantasy Star Online Ver. 2). There are probably more (i.e. sports titles NBA 2K, NBA 2K1, NBA 2K2, NFL 2K, NFL 2K1, NFL 2K2, NHL 2K, and NHL 2K2), but the point here is that Game Informer managed to ignore all of them.

Giga Wing 2, Power Stone 2, Cannon Spike, Zombie Revenge, and Dead Or Alive 2 are all titles that offered the best co-op in the 128-bit era; how could they not be included on a list of best co-op titles? Some say that Capcom's DreamCast games are subjective, but the 2K Sports titles were arguably a blockbuster success that many sports game fans consider to be the best in the genre (even amidst EA's monopoly today). The list of critically-acclaimed co-op DreamCast titles can go on and on. DreamCast titles really deserve to be on any co-op list because the system was essentially defined by multi-player. Of course GameStop's own Game Informer would ignore all of these great titles though, because GameStop can no longer make profit from any of these titles. The point being that if GameStop can't make money off it now, it doesn't deserve to be acknowledged anymore.

Continuing on the 128-Bit era, some of the most iconic PlayStation 2 hardware-based titles were surprisingly absent from their list, as well. First and foremost is Koei's Dynasty Warriors; a series that resurrected the side-scrolling action genre to become a success both in Japan and America. Samurai Warriors and Warriors Orochi offer the same manic brand of sword-slashing co-op Koei pioneered, yet we see none of these three series anywhere on their list. The more recent, well-known Gradius V wasn't put on the list, either, which comes as a surprise (considering it's common knowledge that to be a "gamer" this is the one shooting game you apparently must play). The side-scrolling fighting genre saw a rebirth of sorts on the PS2 hardware with Final Fight Streetwise and Urban Reign. Both titles have brutal co-op fighting fun to enjoy with a friend, but their absence from the list was due to Game Informer's lack of respect for these retro-inspired titles.

Like Cannon Spike, The Red Star went completely unnoticed and under the radar to become a diamond in the rough. It's in Headquarters' top five PS2 titles, and deserves every bit of its co-op praise; the game is intense, polished, and very well-made. If it were a Play magazine co-op article, The Red Star would be somewhere near the top. Monster Hunter (in any of its variations) is perhaps the defining co-op experience of the 128-Bit era, with its 4-Player hunting and tons of content. Despite its co-op being praised worldwide, it was nowhere to be seen on Game Informer's list of best co-op games. Neither are any of the tag-team arena fighting games in the Gundam VS series, which the Japanese consider to be some of the absolute best co-op titles on the PS2 hardware.

And though less-popular, SEGA's Xbox-powered House Of The Dead III, Virtua Cop 3, and Spikeout - Battle Street are other honorable mentions simply because anyone from any age group can jump in and play any one of these games. The maniacal, incredibly fun, and addictive Gotcha Force for GameCube wasn't on the list, either, despite topping a list for most wanted sequel in Japanese magazine Famitsu. Konami's iconic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series saw a rebirth spanning across three very different, awesome co-op experiences. Sequels Battle Nexus and Mutant Nightmare both had all the 4-player chaotic sword-slashing, "numchuck-swinging" side-scrolling action of the older entries, but with unique approaches to keep things interesting. It's not surprising to see these three titles completely absent, though, since a "gamer" can't like any TMNT games after Turtles In Time. Thankfully, we're not all "gamers," though, and these great titles are owned by those capable of thinking on their own.

HD Ignorance And Beyond
All the titles mentioned up to now are just some of what's out there; there are so many great co-op games out there. Even if we do go back and consider newer titles, though, their selection really sucks and encompasses barely anything truly worth experiencing. Gears Of War 2, Castle Crashers, Borderlands, and LEGO Star Wars III (even though I'm not into it) I can understand, but Left 4 Dead? Halo? Rock Band? Portal 2? Minecraft? Are you fucking serious? No DoDonPachi Resurrection? No Akai Katana? No Commando 3? No Lost Planet 2? No SpyBorgs? No Dead Rising 2? No Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix? No Kingdom Under Fire - Circle Of Doom? No Warriors Orochi 3? No Dynasty Warriors 7? No Guardian Heroes? No House Of The Dead - Overkill? No Aegis Wing? No Raizing Storm? Even no Geometry Wars 2? I guess to them variety isn't the spice of life, because all I see is all the same shit...