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PC Gaming Suggestions for Console-like Fun? 513

Posted by timothy
from the twister-seems-more-fun dept.
jayminer writes "We are a relatively newly married young couple who enjoy spending our spare time at home. We don't own a console but have a gaming laptop with DVI output to play games on our TV. My wife is also a CS major so she's computer literate enough. She does not like strategy games, MMORG or any other role-playing game. Apart from "Find the Sausage" jokes, we need quality gaming advice, preferably games which we can play with a single laptop connected to a single large screen, with two gamepads, a console-like experience. What are your suggestions?"
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PC Gaming Suggestions for Console-like Fun?

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  • Obvious answer... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by richy freeway (623503) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @09:01AM (#23181322)
    Just buy a console.
    • by Aranykai (1053846) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `resnogls'> on Thursday April 24, 2008 @09:10AM (#23181450)
      Simple and sweet. Its really the truth though.

      Ive sat here and tossed around all the game I can remember playing over the years, and the ones worth the time all equate one pc with one player.

      Consoles are the king of multi user gaming hands down. Like suggested above, nab an old console. PS 1 or Nintendo 64 or such should be had for under 75 USD with several games.
    • Second hand (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mwvdlee (775178)
      I've got a second hand Dreamcast at home for 50 euro's (roughly 75 US$) with a bunch of games. Consoles of around this generation (N64, PS, GC) onwards have all the types of games you'd want for a fraction of the cost of modern consoles.
    • It's not that expensive and has a bit of games on the free side as well - gameamp is basically a glorified emulator but has some stuff up to the playstation 2 era (god of war, legacy of kain, some other stuff) and some PC games.
    • No kidding. As a parent of a two year old and trapped in the house most evenings because we're living in different countries from the relatives and not wealthy enough to bring in nanny. We "invested" in Rock Band and Guitar Hero. We have by far got our money's worth. We own no other games and it's been a fun thing to do with people who come over after the kid goes down. Just don't ask me to sing. Find a friend who has it and try it first to make sure.
  • Buy a console (Score:3, Insightful)

    by the computer guy nex (916959) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @09:02AM (#23181326)
    If you are wanting to play on your television opposed to a monitor, you probably have a pretty nice TV. Chances are your laptop cannot run at a resolution where you would even enjoy this experience.

    The 360 and the Wii cost less than the original NES did if you count in inflation. Do some research in game libraries and pick one. Well worth the investment.

    In terms of games, Guitar Hero is addicting.
    • The average video game of good quality new relaease can cost $80-$90 a piece. A Wii is about $250 and comes with Wii Sports (which is just fun alone) So at the price of 3 games you get a console that makes it easier to get games for the situation.
      • by Itchyeyes (908311)
        $80-$90? Maybe in Australia. In the states, Xbox 360 and PS3 games retail for $60 and Wii and PC games typically retail for $50 at launch.
    • Re:Buy a console (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hoplite3 (671379) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @09:11AM (#23181470)
      Or even cheaper, buy a console from the last generation: xbox, ps2, gamecube. You can get them used for peanuts or new for a bit more. Best of all, there are GOOD lists of what games for the console are actually fun.

      Reviews of modern games are often clouded by hype and irrelevant trends. Many nerds will retrospectively look at their video game library and wax poetic about the ones that are still fun (and they'll do it on their blog thanks to ego^w web 2.0). You can get these games used for $3-$10. A seven-year-old game can still be fun.

      And if you haven't played it, it's new to you.
    • Guitar Hero is addictive yep, but I've completed about 75% of the songs (not counting all the bonus ones) on expert and I've only had my PS3 for under a month (if I'd played any of the rest of the series I'd probably be finished it all by now)! It would definitely be fun for them to play through in co-op mode though :)

      DON'T get the PC version of Guitar Hero, apparently it has slow-downs in game even on a high specced PC. If you have a HDTV I'd definitely recommend the PS3 :) For a standard resolution TV the
      • by pipatron (966506)

        the Wii is okay, though could still do with some anti-aliasing. The Wii is obviously more designed for a multiplayer/'family' experience [...] If you're wanting to go through more 'serious' games that require more thinking and time to complete, then get the PS3.

        How could anti-aliasing improve those types of games?

        Perhaps you meant to say "If you want mindless racing around a track or run around killing people, then get the PS3."

    • by Itchyeyes (908311)
      I'm sorry, but this is just inaccurate. Most 15" laptops have a resolution of 1280x800, higher than a 720p television screen, and most 17" laptops have an even higher resolution. Some gaming laptops (which is what they said they have) even go as high as 1920x1200.

      I would probably agree that just buying a console would be a better option for them, but not because of anything to do with the resolution of the screen.

      If they don't want to spend a lot of new money on a console, a PS2 might be a great choice fo
    • by morari (1080535)
      It's just too bad that you'd have to purchase a second controller for Guitar Hero to be truly fun for two people. With the guitars being a ridiculous $70, I don't see many people doing that... especially with the Wii version, where the guitar is just a shell piggybacking on the Wii remote's functionality.

      Before buying a console just for one overpriced game bundle, try downloading Frets on Fire, Coffee's Ultimate Mod, and all of the ripped Guitar Hero songs. Load it up onto your PC and hook up some old, ch

  • My friend is in virtually the same situation as you, and he and his wife love to play Mario Party, or ROMs from older console games in general.
  • Stepmania (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gatzke (2977) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @09:02AM (#23181336) Homepage Journal
    Get a couple of USB dance pads and try out Stepmania, a free DDR clone.

    Or get a Wii. Tons of simple flash games through the browser. Fun and simple.
  • Emulators (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Oxy the moron (770724) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @09:02AM (#23181346)

    Get some old-school console emulators and play some of the great classics.

    I'm sure that what constitutes a "classic" will vary here on /., but I prefer some of the older Super NES games... Tetris Attack is awesome.

    You didn't hear that from me, though...

    • Re:Emulators (Score:4, Insightful)

      by xtracto (837672) * on Thursday April 24, 2008 @09:48AM (#23181946) Journal
      I have to second this idea.

      Just get SNES9X and download some games. I used to play that with my GF:
      - Mario Kart (SNES version is one of the best ones)
      - Lemmings (2 player snes version quite good)
      - TMNT (2 player cooperative)
      - Top Gear (one of the few two player coop. racing games where even if one is good enough, both of you will be able to go through the game [and you can cooperate by trying to block the first place cars to make one of you win :P])
      - Super Contra (a bit more "man" oriented, but fun coop too).
      - Rock and Roll racing (another nice racing game).
      - Battletoads in Battlemaniacs (two player kind of coop... a bit difficult [but quite fun if you enable infinite lives cheat])
      - Bomberman (My girlfriend loves these ones. It is OK multiplayer)
      - Joe and Mac (really funny caveman characters, multiplayer coop)
      - Super Mario All Stars (I can never be left out! including Super Mario Bros 3, i have played it with my girlfriend from the beginning to the end)

      - Ninja Gaiden Trilogy (not really multiplayer, maybe not really very good, but it is my favourite game of all time [Ninja Gaiden II for the NES] so I had to include it here =oP)

      Those are all I can think of now. The reason I choose SNES is because such games are not as complex as todays' games; therefore you can just sit start it and begin playing without two hours of tutorial (I am looking at you Wii Zelda ).

      Also, I think the SNES had the best kind of cooperative multiplayer games... these days it is very difficult to find such games in any console. The only cooperative games are FPS like "halo" but they are a turn off for most girls or other "casual" players.

      And, the reason I don't choose Wii (even though I have one, which is in its box since I moved home 2 months ago) is because I hate mini-games, and all the multiplayer games from Nintendo are mini games (wiiware, mario party, rayman raymin rabbits, monkeyball banana... etc).

      Oh! and the last one I would suggest is Worms. That is a really good game in which I have spent hours with my girlfriend and other friends (even a friend who never had used a computer had no problem playing the N64 emulated game =oO)

      • by Hatta (162192)
        Anyone who goes the emulator way is going to need a good frontend. I've found Wah!cade [anti-particle.com] to be an excellent multi-emulator front end on linux. It's designed mainly for MAME, but can be configured to launch any emulator.

        BTW, if you're going to emulate don't just stick to the same old consoles. There were a some great games for the Mattel Intellevision, Atari 800, NEC Turbografx, Sega Saturn, etc etc.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24, 2008 @09:04AM (#23181364)
    "Not only do I have a girlfriend, but we're MARRIED, and she wants to play video games with me! Oh, did I mention she loves Linux?"
  • Give a try to old console and arcade emulators. My wife is into SNES Mario and similar stuff.

    Although it's usually played with a mouse, the old Worms series is great fun as well.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24, 2008 @09:07AM (#23181408)
    Don't mean to be presumptuous, but I would recommend you spend your spare time outside of your house exploring the world. You will have plenty of time to stay in the house if/when you decide to have children.
    • by Oxy the moron (770724) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @09:24AM (#23181672)

      Speaking as a geek married with four kids, I say any time spent enjoying each other's company is good. You also make the assumption that they have the desire and means to get out and explore the world... I know we didn't early in our marriage.

      Not saying that exploring the world is bad, but I think if they really enjoy gaming together, it's better than a lot of other alternatives. :)

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by grommit (97148)
        I think the chances of the OP and his wife not having any legs and being unable to go outside to explore the world is a bit slim.
    • by evilandi (2800)
      You, sir, are entrely right.

      I never really thought about access for public footpaths, until I tried taking a pushchair over a stile and onto wet mud and loose gravel. The next plan - carry the baby - failed miserably within weeks, since my wife made the somewhat inconvenient mistake of feeding the baby. Neither myself nor the missus are what you might call slight, so our baby grew quite heavy before she could reliably walk.

      Furthermore, trying to walk from A to B with a toddler provides an experience similar
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jacop (1258402)
      I am a happily married husband with several kids, play while you still can. I still play in my free time, but free time is a rare commodity in my home. When I was first married, I actually had the time to get out, and play videogames. Why would you stay in the house once you have children? I have never met a child that did not want to explore the world.
      • by berashith (222128)
        My sons bedtime is around 7 pm. After this we sit quietly, have dinner, and then continue staying at home quietly. We can go out and do stuff one at a time, or hire a babysitter if we want to leave the house and remain in each others company.

        You are right that while the child is awake you can go have a blast, but there is a huge amount of my life that has become sedentary while waiting for the boy to become more self sufficient.
    • by Itchyeyes (908311)
      Aww, it's so cute when people think they know how to run other people's lives.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ivan256 (17499)
      You don't mean to be presumptuous, but why don't they skip doing what they enjoy, and instead do what you think they should be enjoying?

      If you didn't mean to be presumptuous, but knew it was sufficiently presumptuous to include the disclaimer, then why did you bother posting? So that we all know that you go outdoors? Next thing you know we'll be hearing about how you don't own a television [theonion.com] either.
  • Wii. (Score:2, Insightful)

    Wii.

    Much simpler- fewer wires.
  • Suggestions... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 404 Clue Not Found (763556) * on Thursday April 24, 2008 @09:08AM (#23181422)
    First, I know this isn't what you asked, but I can't recommend this enough: Instead of wasting money on PC gamepads and half-assed ports, just get a console. You can get a PS2 for ~$100 and an additional controller + memory card for maybe another $20. That'd open up a whole WORLD of great co-op games designed for the exact kind of experience you're looking for. You can rent games from your neighborhood video store or from Gamefly.com for about $5 a pop or $20 a month. The whole process would be much simpler (no installations, no crashes, no gamepad incompabilities) and the availability of games is so much better. I'm not recommending this out of laziness. I've been a die-hard PC gamer for ~15 years (still am), but I recently got a PS2 for Rock Band and have since started renting other co-op titles... and lemme tell ya, the experience is so much more straightforward and enjoyable.

    If you absolutely must play on the PC, well, I'd suggest you simply look for direct console ports or cross-platform titles. "Natural" PC games designed only for the PC are aimed towards a different audience and play rather differently. It's going to be especially hard to find multiplayer PC games that are playable on a single system with gamepad support -- most people who want that style simply go for consoles instead.

    Now, some specifics... are console-style action-RPGs also forbidden? Some good multiplayer games fall into this category, like Marvel: Ultimate Alliance [wikipedia.org] and X-Men Legends II [wikipedia.org].

    The venerable Worms series [wikipedia.org] (specifically, Worms Armageddon [wikipedia.org]) is also great two-player fun.

    Guitar Hero 3 [wikipedia.org] is great fun on the consoles, but it has high system requirements on the PC and I'm not sure if it supports split-screen play.

    Serious Sam [wikipedia.org] lets you play split-screen on one system, but I don't know how easy it'd be to use gamepads with a FPS designed for PCs (meaning, it probably lacks the auto-aim found in console FPSes).

    The Gametap [gametap.com] service lets you play a lot of old-school games for a flat monthly fee, and many of them are designed for 2-player console-like gaming (they're ported from the consoles or arcades, after all).

    Wikipedia also has a list of more single-system games [wikipedia.org] (sort the table by "screen view").

    That's all I can think of.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I went ahead and filtered that Wikipedia list for coop PC games that can be played on a single system (like the original list, this is neither complete nor perfect):

      Alien Breed
      Alien Breed: Tower Assault
      Batman Forever: The Arcade Game
      Blip and Blop
      C-Dogs
      Dynasty Warriors 4
      Guitar Hero III
      Jazz Jackrabbit 2
      Kane & Lynch: Dead Men
      Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy
      Lego Star Wars: The Video Game
      Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
      Millennium Soldier: Expendable
      Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow
      Serious
    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      Screw a PS2. If you're a couple looking to have fun, get a Wii. I'm a fan of the Xbox 360 and don't own a Wii, but even I must admit that there is no better console for family fun.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24, 2008 @09:09AM (#23181438)
    The best game to play is "HIDE the sausage"!
  • Lego Star Wars 1&2 (Score:2, Informative)

    by PinbalI (1278684)
    Lego Star Wars 1&2 can be played on PC with either keyboard or controller and has a good co-op function. You can probably find a torrent of it easy enough.
  • Gametap (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24, 2008 @09:10AM (#23181454)
    Gametap.com. I like that. Go to walmart and buy a controller adapter for usb and you can both play games, old and new, arcade and console, from your laptop.
  • continuum/ subspace (Score:4, Informative)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday April 24, 2008 @09:12AM (#23181486) Homepage Journal
    a head designer was the guy who coined the term mmorpg. it is in fact the first (graphical, sorry mudders) example of an mmorpg

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SubSpace_(computer_game) [wikipedia.org]

    its like the original asteroids, without the asteroids, and instead a maze of a bunch of other ships (random people from around the world)

    i think a lot of slashdotters messed with it 10 years ago, and forgot about it

    however, i recently rediscovered it (its free now) and was surprised to find a lot of zones still heavily populated. each zone has a different variation on the basic ship types and their abilities. you can waste 5 minutes or half an hour on it, to great effect

    nothing like meeting a guy in a tank from finland, dodging his mine, blowing him away, while a guy from china materializes out of cloak and shoots you in the back. its cheap and easy mmorpg fun without the massive time commitment something like WoW demands
    • a head designer was the guy who coined the term mmorpg. it is in fact the first (graphical, sorry mudders) example of an mmorpg

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SubSpace_(computer_game) [wikipedia.org]

      its like the original asteroids, without the asteroids, and instead a maze of a bunch of other ships (random people from around the world)

      i think a lot of slashdotters messed with it 10 years ago, and forgot about it

      however, i recently rediscovered it (its free now) and was surprised to find a lot of zones still heavily populated. each zone has a different variation on the basic ship types and their abilities. you can waste 5 minutes or half an hour on it, to great effect

      nothing like meeting a guy in a tank from finland, dodging his mine, blowing him away, while a guy from china materializes out of cloak and shoots you in the back. its cheap and easy mmorpg fun without the massive time commitment something like WoW demands

      Having played SS/Continuum for about 3 or 4 years, I can't in good faith call it a mmorpg. MMO, yes. RPG no. Even some of the more "creative" arenas were strategy based games.

      It is however, highly entertaining. WZCTF, ftw.

      Go green, neg.

  • Buy a Console (Score:4, Insightful)

    In all seriousness, the total hardware cost of two gamepads, a TV out connector and a laptop graphics card needed to run the latest games will more than likely overrun the cost of just buying a PS2 or a Wii, Your spouse's tastes scream console gaming. No strategy games or RPGs? What does that leave? FPSes? Good luck finding a co-op FPS title.

    For Co-op play, console is King. There are a myriad of two player titles out there to cater for all tastes, and co-op is something that even gets included in some one [youtube.com] player [youtube.com] titles, owing to its popularity.

    PCs are not designed for what you're looking for. Consoles are, and they are cheaper, faster, easier and offer a better selection of titles. Just buy the damn Wii.
  • I have a subscription to Gametap, and I've been very happy with that and my usb game controllers. It's got some multiplayer games, and some single player games. A lot of games from older consoles too.

    Aside from that I recommend getting n64 roms and playing smash bros till you pass out.
  • by jellomizer (103300) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @09:14AM (#23181510)
    The issue with most PC Games even Multi-Player is they expect one person for PC, so they are normally networked for multi-player.
    Get 2 USB Keypads, and a Copy of VMWare. Install 2 OS the VMWare and copy of each game on it. setup the virtual network correctly and Link one USB Keypad to each VM. Now Resize the VM Windows so you have Split Screen. And there 2 of you can play games at once (even 2 different ones if you feel like it) on your laptop all for the price of getting a console.
  • by Toreo asesino (951231) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @09:15AM (#23181526) Journal
    Jesus, if you've got to resort to games this early on in marriage, that's not a good sign.

    Sexual deviance, man! That's what you need to try; your "find the sausage" game sounds like a good start. You're married, it's ok to do that now!
    • Why isn't it a good sign? If married couples can go to the movies together once in a while, or listen to a concert together, or watch their favorite TV show... what's wrong with games?

      Besides, who says you can't combine sexual deviance and video games? Can ya say "force feedback"?
      • If anything it's better to share games than to sit idle and stare at a screen while a non interactive movie or TV show plays. Games require some thought and action, even if it is minimal.
  • Lego Star Wars (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rhys (96510) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @09:19AM (#23181588) Homepage
    Ep1-3 and 4-6 are both excellent and are PC-available.

    I think guitar hero has a PC port, if you're into rhythm games. (ba-dum-ching!)
    • by Freedryk (117435)
      Seconded. My wife and I played through the whole thing together on PC, and she doesn't even like video games; she made an exception for this one.
  • Serious Sam is one of the few PC games that allows you to do split screen, so I would suggest trying that out, it's a great experience! Saves you from trying to set up a home lan just to play with one friend. Wacky Races by Apogee is another great game that allows split screen play on PC. There are a few Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat games ported to PC as well. Other than this, unfortunately co-op and multiplayer console style games on a single PC are really hard to come by.
  • Do you then make a sausage taco?
  • Really. Just buy one instead of trying to shoehorn a laptop into the role. As a new couple with (presumably) no kids yet, you can spare the change. In fact, if you're really price-conscious, go buy a 1st-gen Xbox for $25 or so and pick up some games at mom-and-pop used game stores for $5-$10 apiece. There are plenty of split-screen shooters and racers for the original Xbox that you two can spend countless hours on.

  • by MadKeithV (102058) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @09:23AM (#23181652)
    For the console-like fun experience, you need a stick, a sharpening tool, and one of your eyes.

    Nintendo-Hard, look it up.

    (I kid, I kid).
  • I'd say just buy a console or two. A Wii/360 combo may keep you both happy. My wife is not a gamer but loves the Wii. Personally, I really don't like the Wii. It will not satisfy the hardcore gamer. The 360 has many good titles worth checking into, Halo, Mass Effect, Gears of War, Dead Rising, Oblivion, and Orange Box, to name a few.
  • by Jaysyn (203771)
    I hope she likes fighting, FPS, sports or puzzle games, cause that's about all you have left multiplayer-wise. I'm not even to sure about the puzzle games.

  • I'm sure I don't have to tell you to ignore all the calls to "buy a console" - there's more great co-op PC games than ever before. The only advice I will give you is to forgo your requirement to play on a big screen since your laptop's resolution is far superior. PC games assume you're playing on a monitor so downgrading to TV resolution will, among other things, likely make text unreadable.

    One game my wife and I play religiously is the new Sam and Max adventure series from Telltale Games. It's an epi
  • YDKJ (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ab0mb88 (541388)
    This is a dated reference, but try to find some copies of the different versions of You Don't Know Jack [wikipedia.org]. This is great for a young couple and really keeps the conversation and interaction going while you are playing... And the innuendo doesn't hurt either.
  • by blindd0t (855876) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @09:52AM (#23181994)

    Since the post talks about what games the misses dislikes, I'll do my best with that even though no insight about what she does like was provided. Worms Armageddon is a seriously fun game anyone can play. It's an old game, and I want to say there is some hacked version that can run at higher resolutions than it was originally capable of handling, so I would suggest buying the game and looking into that. Also, I would recommend looking into emulators for NES, SNES, and so on. There is a ton of stuff out there for that which could provide a wide variety of games that are tons of fun to play (even if the graphics are far from top-notch).

    Even though you can't go spit-screen on this one, if either or both of you likes racing games, GTR2 is a seriously good racing simulator, but keep in mind that the average person might find its realistic physics to be frustrating. The Logitech Momo force-feedback steering wheel works exceptionally well for this and other racing games.

    If the misses also likes diablo-style games, Titan quest is a game my wife enjoyed. Again, you can't go split-screen here, but it could provide some good entertainment for both of you. Of course, if you have another PC in the house, you could play together over a LAN. ^_^

  • If you want the "console experience", use an emulator and grab a few ROM's. They actually have torrents that compile every SNES and NES ROM ever made.
  • Cortex Command (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Peganthyrus (713645) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @09:58AM (#23182058) Homepage
    My boyfriend and I have had a lot of fun with Cortex Command [datarealms.com]. It's a really entertainingly adolescent wargame that supports splitscreen play and joystick controllers.

    It's not actually finished but its active mod community makes it not matter - if one of you skims the forums now and then, you'll find all kinds of giggle-inducingly overpowered toys to play with. It's ultraviolent but it's on the border between 'obscene' and 'slapstick'...
  • by slim (1652)
    My partner and I have probably spent more time cooperating on single player games, than competing on two player games.

    Classic point'n'click adventures like Monkey Island, Sam and Max Hit The Road and Day of the Tentacle, for example. We also played a lot of text adventures (Google "Interactive Fiction" and "Curses" for a fantastic one).

    More recently we played the new Telltale Games episodes of Sam & Max on the PC, rigged up to a TV almost as you described. I got some joypad-to-mouse software, and we sat
  • I solved my need for pick and play gaming with a modded Xbox. ROMs, MAME and it makes a decent media streaming device.
  • by BitwizeGHC (145393) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @11:15AM (#23183410) Homepage
    There's always Rapid Onset, Vital Passage, or Sudden Thrust.

Arithmetic is being able to count up to twenty without taking off your shoes. -- Mickey Mouse

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