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Super Mario Galaxy 2's co-op system has a number of features that are different from normal co-op modes:

  • The secondary character cannot die
  • The secondary character is genuinely useful, and can help the main character by paralyzing enemies (via hugging them)
  • The secondary character can also play their own sort of side game, looking for powerups and coins while the main character is doing other things

Forgive the potentially offensive name, but my wife lovingly dubbed this cooperative style of play, "wife mode".

Is this an unprecedented technique? If so, does it have a better name than "wife mode?"

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closed as off topic by Mark Trapp, OrigamiRobot, agent86 Jun 1 '12 at 2:11

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Welcome to the site @Brandon! Unfortunately, I'm voting to close your question as it is disallowed as per our FAQ, specifically under prohibited questions: Catalogues (listing games that fit specific criteria or are like an existing game). Questions like this have problems with list maintenance (going out of date as new games that meet the criteria come out) and inaccurate voting schemes (people upvoting answers that they like rather than what constitutes a quality answer). If you like you can join our chat for recommendation discussion. –  FAE Feb 3 '12 at 14:13
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I think "is this technique unprecedented" and "what is this technique actually called" are excellent questions - but are they excellent for here, or for Game Dev? –  abby hairboat Feb 3 '12 at 14:32
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I'm not sure if we've heard the final word on the question or not yet, but I'll cite Tails from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 as an early example of this type of game mechanic. –  agent86 Feb 3 '12 at 15:25
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I call it "husband" mode. ;) –  KatieK Feb 3 '12 at 17:42
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Voting to close also. Asking "Is this the first game to do XYZ?" is the same as asking "Are there any other games that XYZ?" –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Feb 3 '12 at 19:10

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

A simple answer to your first question is no, it's not unprecedented. The first Super Mario Galaxy had a more limited version, and of course comments and answers have mentioned other games as well.

The last question's easy to answer: there's certainly a better name than "wife mode". Sexism is rampant in gaming, and while "wife mode" might be accurate in individual cases (as in your own: after all, it was your wife who used the name), as a general term, as you might suspect, it implies two assumptions that could be taught in Sexism 101:

  • The person playing the secondary character is the wife (or girlfriend or whatever), because the primary gamer in the house is the man.
  • The person playing the secondary character needs extra assistance (invulnerability, doesn't have to follow the plot), because that person is not an equally-skilled gamer, which is because that person is the wife.

Some women are not avid gamers, and some women are not skilled gamers ... but it has nothing to do with their gender, despite the existence of places in the gaming community where that idea is accepted as fact. So there's no reason to use a name for that mode that suggests it applies to only wives or only women.

There are plenty of gender-neutral terms we could use that would still be accurate. For example, the original Super Mario Galaxy calls it Co-Star Mode. I think that's actually a pretty good name: co-stars are not necessarily as important as stars in TV shows and movies, but they can contribute a lot on their own, and of course in the context of SMG, there's the Star pun (intended, I'm sure).

Assistant Mode, Helper Mode, those would work as well, and I'm sure there are more like that ... and none of them make assumptions about the person who'd be playing them.

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+1 for "Co-Star" mode, a much better term. –  KatieK Feb 3 '12 at 18:33
    
+1 and accepted. I was hoping for some sort of appropriate industry standard term - in lieu of that, "Co-Star Mode" has my vote. –  Brandon Linton Feb 3 '12 at 20:26

I would certainly say that there are similar games. Furthermore, many Nintendo games have historically been designed with an "easter egg" of sorts when a second player picks up a controller and tries to see what they can do while another gamer is primarily playing.

Another instance I can recall was way back in the Sega Genesis days. Many of the Sonic games would allow a second player to pick up a controller and take control of Tails. If tails was injured, he'd just float back onto the screen after a few seconds and could resume scurrying around, picking up coins. I'm not sure if current Sonic games use such a mechanic (I haven't played a Sonic game since I sold my Game Gear years ago) but there is a chance that this type of feature still exists.

Another, more recent example is Super Mario Bros. Wii. SMB-W does have a co-op mode and although both players are "equals" in capability, each user has their own life-count and if one player depletes all of their lives, the other can keep going.

My wife hasn't been an avid gamer her whole life but she, too, has enjoyed playing along side me. SMB-Wii has been a fun option. I imagine the Super Mario Galaxy 2 mechanic that you've described is probably an extension of the mechanic that was employed in SMB-Wii.

Let's hope that keep this type of "soft" co-op help available in future games. For both your wife and mine.

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Don't forget about Kirby Super Star –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Feb 3 '12 at 19:09
    
+1 for the great references. I also like the "soft" co-op descriptor. Even as my kids start to learn how to play, it seems like a great way to introduce newcomers to gaming. –  Brandon Linton Feb 3 '12 at 20:28

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