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The Nintendo Wii is truly a revolutionary machine. I don’t mean in terms of its industry-redefining motion controls, its ability to attract a whole new subset of gamers, or the runaway success of Wii Fit, amazing as those things may be. No, the Wii cemented its revolutionary status for me when it became the first video game console my girlfriend actually wanted to play.
It’s no longer necessary for me to pursue my hobby surreptitiously, getting in a few hours of console play when she is at work or asleep. Now we can actually play games together, and we’ve had a fantastic time discovering which games are great for couples.
First, a caveat: I realize that there are female gamers out there who are as hardcore as can be. While hardcore pairs of gamers may enjoy many of the games on this list together, keep in mind that I’m primarily in search of games that two players of disparate skill levels can enjoy as a couple.
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Animal Crossing: City Folk
Before you say anything, I realize that Animal Crossing is not a multiplayer game. It is, however, a game that couples can enjoy together. Animal Crossing is a great game that has aspects that will appeal to both sexes.
My girlfriend loves to collect furniture, decorate her house, catch fish and bugs, and plant trees and flowers. I really enjoy tracking down every last hard-to-obtain item in the game and going for the maximum possible score from the Happy Room Academy.
Animal Crossing is one of those rare games where it is actually kind of fun to just sit and watch someone else play. We spend a lot of time just helping each other out, spotting bugs and offering furniture-placement advice.
Another great aspect of Animal Crossing? It offers fantastic opportunities to surprise your significant other with thoughtful gestures. Is your girlfriend trying to track down an elusive piece of furniture to finish her collection? Hop on and surprise her with it when she gets home. The mail system offers countless opportunities to leave thoughtful notes or send virtual flowers, great for keeping your non-gaming partner interested (I mean interested in the game, but take that any way you want).
Page two has more great games for couples, including a fantastic explosive puzzler and a great way to rock out with your significant other.
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Boom Blox and Boom Blox: Bash Party
Boom Blox has quickly become the favorite game of our household. Its amazingly-fun combination of puzzle game elements and motion controls keeps us entertained together for hours.
I frequently describe Boom Blox to friends as “Jenga with explosions." There are levels where you are tasked with carefully removing blocks from precarious stacks, like Jenga. There are also levels where you are asked to throw giant bombs at towers to topple them as quickly as possible or slingshot volatile chemicals into one another to rack up massive amounts of points.
There are both cooperative and competitive modes, allowing two to four players to work together to take down massive structures or compete to see who can destroy the other’s the fastest. The controls are simple and intuitive, and the game is just ridiculously fun for players of all skill levels.
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Guitar Hero Series
The Guitar Hero series doesn’t make much use of the Wii’s famed motion controls. Still, the guitar controller is an intuitive (albeit expensive) way to play a rhythm game, without countless complicated button combinations. It’s as simple as hitting the red button when the red bar hits the bottom of the fretboard, while strumming in time, of course.
My girlfriend is by no means a hardcore gamer, and Guitar Hero is the game that got her interested in playing. It’s best to start on the lower difficulties, but as your non-gaming significant other realizes just how fun Guitar Hero can be, they’ll work their way up faster than you ever thought possible.
The Guitar Hero games offer both competitive and cooperative modes, depending on the nature of your relationship. Guitar Hero: World Tour even offers you both the option to choose from multiple instruments, even vocals if you have a significant other who simply isn't coordinated enough to play an instrument.
Shredding through your favorite rock anthem with your girlfriend by your side is an amazing experience, for both of you. Plus, rocker chicks are hot.
Check out page three for a great platformer and an amazing racing game, both of which can be enjoyed as a couple.
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Lego Batman/Indiana Jones/Star Wars
Most gamers dismiss the Lego series as “just for kids." These gamers are missing out on some of the most fun games released in recent years. Yes, the games are simple platformers with collection elements, but the simplicity belies the simple joy that comes with collecting all the pieces to assemble your own Lego X-Wing or unlocking all your favorite Batman villains so that you can play back through the levels with them.
The great thing about these games is that there is really no penalty for dying, so hardcore gamers don’t need to worry about their inept significant other ruining their chances of ever reaching the end of the game. The two of you can simply work your way through together, taking as long as necessary. Not many games are that forgiving.
For the hardcore gamer, these games have an unbelievable amount of depth to them. There are items to collect, characters to unlock, and puzzles to be solved in almost every level.
The other great thing about the Lego series? Most of the games are available on the Wii for less than twenty bucks.
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Mario Kart Wii
There aren’t many people out there who haven’t played some iteration of the Mario Kart series. Even those who haven’t touched a controller since the Super Nintendo days will find a lot to enjoy in the Wii version of the game.
I’m ashamed to admit it, but Mario Kart is one of the few games my girlfriend can actually beat me at. We’re not normally very competitive, but when we fire up Mario Kart, all bets are off.
The Wii version of Mario Kart is a great game for those intimidated by complicated control schemes. The Wii Wheel is a very natural way to control a racing game, though hardcore gamers may find it lacks the fine control they’re looking for.
Like all the games on this list, Mario Kart is just a lot of fun. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t enjoy it, gamer or no.
Gaming with your significant other is a great way to bond as a couple. It’s great to be able to share your favorite hobby with that special person in your life, and with great, easy to jump into games like these to choose from, now it’s easier than ever to get them interested (in gaming).