The 10 Best Cheap Co-op Games

The 10 Best Cheap Co-op Games

Looking for something fun to do with a friend on a budget? These 10 games will bring a smile to your faces and relief to your bank accounts. Now with video!

Some video games take us on long, lonesome adventures. Some games let us blow away live opponents.

But surely you have some room in your heart for friendship, right? Cooperation? Teamwork? The values you hopefully didn't leave behind when you turned off Sesame Street for the very last time?

Watch these games in action now!

There's a huge selection of games that let us gear up with friends locally or online to solve puzzles, take down menaces, or both. Here are some recommendations. If money is an object, don't sweat it: These are the ten best co-op games you can nab for $20 (US dollars) or less.

Portal 2

Though most people immediately think of Portal 2's single-player campaign when they reminisce about the game (it's hard to forget GLaDOS's stint as a potato), its cooperative campaign is a triumph — a huge success. Players slip into the sleek chrome shells of Atlas and P-Body, two bipedal robots with access to portal guns, and put their heads together to solve (and survive) GLaDOS's testing chambers.

Portal 2's puzzles are clever, its writing is sharp, and players get to run around as handsome bone-white robots. An easy recommendation.

Available on: Steam, PlayStation Store, Xbox Games Store

Price: $19.99

Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara

The '90s were a good time for beat-em-up games. Seems like everyone was walking from left to right and delivering knuckle sandwiches to anyone with the gall to walk right to left. We saw some pretty intriguing entries and ideas at the arcade, including Capcom's Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom (1993) and Dungeons & Dragons: Shadows over Mystara (1996).

Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara collects both games into a single title, and lets up to four players join in for an owlbear-walloping good time. Though it's a bit weird to see classic Dungeons & Dragons characters re-imagined in an anime style (Wizard should be entitled to a +10 on chi attacks with that spiky hair), it feels good to hack away at gnolls, goblins, and huge dragons instead of the usual bare-knuckled thugs.

Available on: Steam, PlayStation Store, Xbox Games Store, Wii U eShop

Price: $14.99

Magicka

Magicka is another fantasy-themed game that lets up to four people cooperate in the art of monster-killing. Based loosely on Norse mythology, players work through Magicka as wizards charged with stopping an evil sorcerer. The gameplay mechanics revolve around learning and mixing magic spells for effective — and often amazing or hilarious — results.

Though initially released in 2011, Magicka still offers great incentive to get together with pals and fry up some monster flesh (or each other). Magicka 2 is due out sometime in 2015, so now's a good time to get in touch with your inner wizard.

Available on: Steam

Price: $9.99

Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game

Mister Pilgrim! Based on the hit indie comic series (and, uh, lesser hit of a movie), Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game lets up to four players punch their way through the city of Toronto. You may be relieved to learn there's no trace of Michael Cera in this weird and action-packed Canadian smackdown. Instead, the game features deliciously animated sprites by the supremely talented and twisted artist Paul Robertson.

Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game is cheap, fun, looks great, and it lets you brawl on a streetcar - thus letting you partake in Toronto's favorite sport next to hockey.

Available on: PlayStation Store, Xbox Games Store

Price: $9.99

Gauntlet

Released just last month, Arrowhead Games' re-creation of the four-player arcade classic adds some modern ideas while retaining everything compelling about the original game. The four character classes that were first made popular by muffled synthetic voices are still present - Warrior, Wizard, Valkyrie and Elf - and each has a different fighting style that takes some time and work to master.

Just remember: Food goes in your mouth. Don't play with it. Don't shoot it. Eat it.

Available on: Steam

Price: $19.99

Double Dragon Neon

Whoa, dudes! If it was possible to die of '80s poisoning, Double Dragon Neon would deliver a lethal dose in less than ten bogus seconds. Thankfully there's no such thing, so all that's left is for you and a friend to kick back and enjoy Double Dragon Neon's silly hair, goofy character designs, and reference after reference to clear cola, mix tapes, and bumbling villains that would make He-Man's Skeletor facepalm in dismay.

Double Dragon Neon doesn't take itself seriously for a second, a point that may irritate long-time fans of the series. But Double Dragon Neon lets the Brothers Lee split their health bar with a high-five (unless you choose to psyche your brother out - too slow, bro!), so all arguments are invalid.

Available on: Steam, PlayStation Store, Xbox Games Store

Price: $9.99

Contra III: The Alien Wars

Contra 3 originally hit the Super Nintendo in 1993, but the co-op classics never truly fade from memory (thanks to a little help from the Wii U's Virtual Console service). Contra 3 is pure run-and-gun action from the glory days of 16-bit, and is still a blast to charge into with a friend. But be warned: The Konami code won't be able to save your perfectly-chiseled mercenary butt when you and your pal inevitably fall to the alien menace. There are no thirty extra lives on loan here.

Available on: Wii U Virtual Console

Price: $7.99

Castle Crashers

When Castle Crashers was first released for Xbox 360 in 2008, it became the go-to cooperative four-player game for the console. Six years later, Castle Crashers still pops up as a popular recommendation for anyone looking for an intense 2D beat-em-up experience. It has clean graphics, a weird sense of humor, nasty bosses, traps, and all the monster flesh you could possibly hope to carve in one night. What more does a knight need, knave?

Available on: Steam, PlayStation Store, Xbox Games Store

Price: $14.99

Orcs Must Die! 2

Orcs exist to die at the hands of adventurers. It's scientific fact. Orcs Must Die! 2 is an action game / tower defense hybrid wherein players must put their heads together and do away with a certain green-skinned menace. They can set strategic traps, or just go in directly for the kill with weapons or magic. Whatever gets the job done.

Orcs Must Die! 2 is another oft-recommended cooperative game thanks to its intense mix of strategy and action. Players can even team up and take on wave after wave of orcs in an "Endless" mode. Reserve your graveyard plot before going in.

Available on: Steam

Price: $14.99

LEGO Batman, LEGO Lord of the Rings, LEGO everything

Finally, Traveller's Tales' LEGO games are never a bad choice for anyone looking to wade into 3D action / exploration with a pal. These digital re-creations of popular franchises (including Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Batman, and Marvel's superheroes) may be plastic, but they're anything but lifeless.

LEGO games are kid-friendly. They file down each property's rough edges by exercising a gentle sense of humor, but they never talk down to the player. Best of all, they're affordable: Many LEGO titles are available for less than $20, even at retail. They're a great choice for a kid-and-adult team, or a team of any age. We never truly outgrow LEGO, same as we never get used to the searing pain that comes with stepping on one of the plastic bricks in the middle of the night.

Available on: Multiple platforms

General price: $19.99

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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