When you mention the throng of co-op games available for Xbox 360, you usually get giddy with excitement. After all, a great assortment of these games let you work alongside friends towards a common goal, whether it’s blowing the Locust Horde to hell or having a field day jamming out with friends. But let’s say, just for the sake of argument, you didn’t have access to an online connection. Are you out of luck when it comes to playing multiplayer games with your friends? Hardly. There are a number of games for the Xbox 360 that let you compete with (or work alongside) others without the need of an internet connection. So, just to keep you on the safe side, we’ve got our favorite local co-op/multiplayer games. Pick up those four controllers (or more, if the game supports it) and have yourself a party.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3/Super Street Fighter IV/Mortal Kombat: Ask any given fighting fan what the best way to take on opponents is in a fighting game, and most of them will agree wholeheartedly that the answer is “locally”. We’re talking two people going at it, sitting side by side (or playing next to a cabinet), with real trash-talk going on as they pound away on each other. With fighting games (like the ones mentioned above), the problem with playing online is that you’ll sometimes run into lag, which can ruin the response time from your character or your opponent’s. Offline, we have yet to experience such a problem. So, yeah, grab your favorite game and get to smacking someone around.

NBA Jam: Remember when NBA Jam first made its debut in arcades back in the 90’s? The best way to play was to grab three of your friends and stack up in the multiplayer cabinet for a night of basketball hoopin’ and high-flying dunks. Well, you can relive those days again with the 2010 release of NBA Jam, which is now budget priced around $20 thanks to the release of the XBLA On Fire Edition. This version does just as well, thanks to local multiplayer and plenty of faithful arcade action, just the way you remember it from the good ol’ days. Now that’s something to boomshakalaka about.

The Lego games (Batman, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean): Travellers Tales knows that there isn’t a huge lobby full of gamers waiting to play a Lego game alongside someone through Xbox Live. That’s why their games are best built for local enjoyment, usually amongst family members or friends that don’t mind goofing off and destroying stuff. In fact, most Lego games released these days, including the recent arrival of Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7, rely heavily on local co-op teamwork, rather than an iffy cable connection. The results work better than you think – especially when you’re playing one of the better Lego games, like Pirates, Batman or any of the Star Wars games.

 

Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure: Skylanders is squarely in the same boat as the Lego games, with more appeal going into local co-op ideas rather than fiddling around with an online connection. What’s more, the portal – which comes packaged with the game – is just big enough to place two characters on it, so a friend can easily pop in and pop out, playing right alongside you as you collect gems and defeat enemies. Having a friend along is a huge benefit, as it’s easier to solve puzzles and earn Achievements. So grab another figurine, call over a friend, and get to Skylanding already.

Halo: Combat Evolved CE: When the original Halo came out, it didn’t have the benefit of official multiplayer, though those creative chaps at Gamespy had a few alternate solutions. The new version, now available for Xbox 360, does have modified Halo Reach maps aplenty, but if you’re looking for something a little more cooperative, you can call on a buddy and clean up the Covenant together, using split-screen gameplay. It works better than ever, even if the both of you are still trying to figure out how to handle a Warthog the best way. Gears of War 3 and Modern Warfare 3 can be added to this list as well. Can’t be beat.

Dance Central 2: Who wants to do a dance battle over the internet? Not me, thanks. The crappy videos that could make the runs could easily ruin a reputation. That said, the best kind of dance battle is a local one, and the best way to get into said battle is with Dance Central 2. Featuring a plethora of superb tunes and – for the first time in the series – side-by-side competitive dance-offs, it’s easily one of the best party experiences you’ll run across this year. Now get to steppin’!

NHL 12 (or any other given EA Sports game from this year): Again, we have a genre where it’s just as much fun to play someone sitting in your living room as it is to log on to Xbox Live and find an opponent. Madden, FIFA, Tiger Woods…you name it, and EA Sports has included a local multiplayer option, where you can call over your friends and goof around all night. Perhaps the best of the bunch is NHL 12, mainly because of the fast-moving ferocity of the game and the fact you can check each other viciously with very little punishment. Oh, and scoring a goal on your friends? Absolutely priceless.

 

Goldeneye: 007 Reloaded: When the original Goldeneye came out for the Nintendo 64 in 1997, players flocked to it like crazy, as it delivered one of the few multiplayer shooter options available at the time for a console. Now, we’ve got way more to choose from (including Halo and Modern Warfare 3), but don’t count Bond out. Goldeneye: 007 Reloaded actually includes an option where you can take on players through split-screen combat, with up to four taking part in matches. It runs elegantly, with very little frame rate issues, and the maps are awesome. Furthermore, you can activate a number of perks, including paintball and big heads. May the best Scaramanga win!

Rock Band 3: Any number of music-oriented games will do the trick when it comes to getting a band together and performing locally, but if we had to choose just one option, it would definitely be Rock Band 3. Not only does the game support the usual lead vocal, guitar, bass and drum positions, but it also makes room for a new keyboard position, as well as two back-up singers, bringing the total of co-op support to seven. Take that, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock!

Rayman Origins: Last but definitely not least, we have this week’s release of Rayman Origins. Though it pains us that the game doesn’t include Xbox Live support for multiplayer matches, local get-togethers are the next best thing. Calling over a group of friends and running through each stage, smacking each other around like crazy and collecting Lums, is probably one of the single best game experiences we’ve had this year. We’ve never laughed so hard. And the way the game looks throughout is simply hilarious. You need to see some of these slapping animations in action. It’s like a Saturday morning cartoon. Enjoy!