CO OP Mechanics and Design pt. 3
Sunday, November 2, 2008 at 12:43AM
Richard Terrell (KirbyKid) in Co-op, Mechanics, Zelda

At this point you may be wondering if a game can contain multiple types of co-op elements, if these types can occur simultaneously, and how this affects the overall nature of the co-op design. The answer to the first two questions is indubitably.

As a commenter pointed out Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles contains level 4:forced cooperation (someone must carry the Crystal Challis) and level 5: boosted mechanics elements. Not only do these co-op elements exists simultaneously, but they also have a degree of interplay between them. While charging magical or physical attacks, the player character(s) become immobile. During this time, if the challis bearer moves the challis, the protective barrier can be moved away from the charging character(s). Once outside the barrier, characters continually take damage. Furthermore, while carrying the challis and charging attacks, one's defensive and mobility options are compromised. To balance, players often assign or take up roles for the good of the team. Because each character has the same core abilities and is able to bear the challis, attack, defend, and switch roles at any time, the overall combat design contains some level 6: organic co-op elements.

Now I want to take the time to discuss the game that I feel is best example of co-op design across the board. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords is not only a well designed Zelda game, but the gameplay supports up to 4 players while presenting each level of co-op design in melodious flow. Let's take a look.


LEVEL 1) Over the Shoulder/Backseat Playing

LEVEL 2) Alternating Turns


LEVEL 3) Separate But Equal, But Still Together

LEVEL 4) Forced Cooperation

LEVEL 5) Mechanics Boost Incentive

LEVEL 6) Organic Cooperation


In the end, when playing The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords with three other friends, you will be put through a series of cooperative scenarios consisting of all the different levels outlined on this blog. By using a variety of co-op design in each stage, players can experience varying degrees of freedom while still working as a team. Sometimes you want to work together. Sometimes you want to go on your own. And sometimes you're forced to play as a team. No matter how you look at it, the degree of co-op gameplay variation runs the gamut and taps out a memorable melody in the meantime.

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