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Game of the Week: the unsung heroism of Player 2

Tails of terror.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse regard an upside-down Donald the Duck in platform game Disney Illusion Island.
Image credit: DLaLa

Tragedy strikes twice this month, as Christian Donlan is once again away from his desk and has left Eurogamer's Game of the Week column in my undeserving mitts (he's just on holiday, don't worry - I haven't locked him in a cupboard somewhere). I'm devoting this one to the act of being Player 2 in a two-player game, and why being Player 2 is kind of a game in itself.

My inspiration here is Ed Nightingale's review of the "expansive, characterful" but not quite unmissable Disney Illusion Island, a side-scrolling Metroidvania that is actually harder with a co-op buddy, because the perspective centres on the first player, zooming out when you move apart. As Ed explains, this messes with the flow of the experience because the guest player risks falling off-screen if the host gallops ahead. You can make your characters hug to say sorry and replenish some hearts, but I imagine these unexpected tumbles will lead to a few ragequits - metroidvanias can be unforgiving enough without playing tug-of-war over the camera.

Falling off screen, tho! That takes me back. All the way back to Sonic 2, which I used to play on a friend's MegaDrive. Sonic 2 had a splitscreen mode, but you could also have the second player control Tails in the single player mode, and for some reason, we favoured this approach - possibly because the game was so sluggish in splitscreen? Feel free to comment and reminisce, Dave. Anyway, being a spineless push-over I generally let my friend play the Blue Blur while I assumed the role of foxy accomplice.

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