Gaming has come a long way in the past few decades. The widespread growth of the internet and online gameplay have taken our interactive entertainment from the living to practically anywhere, and we’re here with some of the best (and easiest) free online 2-player games that you can play at any time–as long as you have a web browser! The “console wars” between popular entities like Microsoft and Sony have guaranteed that we won’t always have the same gaming systems as our friends, but you can bet that almost everyone has an active connection to the internet. You don’t need a PlayStation 4 or a Xbox One to get in on these games; if you have a web browser, you’ll be good to go!
You know what I’ve missed over the past several years? Sitting down on the couch and playing something with your friends on the same screen. As video game consoles have gained better and better graphics, and system hardware has been pushed to its max, split-screen gaming has become something of a rarity outside of sports-related titles. This can’t all be blamed on the constant rate of graphical improvements, however; some of the faults also rests on the admittedly awesome expansion of online gaming possibilities, both on consoles as well as computers. You don’t need to be sharing a living room with someone in order to game with them when high-speed internet connections can let you play with people from all over the world.
Still, it’s occasionally nice to return to the old-school, and for this article, that’s exactly what we’ve done. Have a few minutes to sit down with a friend and share a web browser? Then you have all that you need to enjoy these 2-player games.
Another nice thing about games as simple as these is that they eschew the rivalry between Microsoft and Apple, so no matter what make or model of computer you’re sitting in front of, you can get in on the fun. Most of them run on the Java Flash player, and while this software is currently being phased out (mostly, it will be replaced by HTML 5), most web browsers currently still support it due to the large amount of web content that’s dependent upon it.
Keep in mind, you’re not going to find anything quite so visually impressive as Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto 5, or any other number of newer titles designed to run on the most recent gaming hardware. Simple is the name of the game, but what these titles give up in visual fidelity they retain in accessible, fast fun that can be picked up and put down in a matter of minutes.
The Best Online 2-Player Games
Of course, you can get much more diverse offerings through the likes of Valve’s Steam gaming portal, but we’re looking for free games. All that you’ll need in order to access these little gems is:
- A full-size keyboard
- A web-browser that supports Java Flash Player
- Your computer
It’s helpful if your computer has a healthy amount of RAM to dedicate to your gaming, but it’s not a large necessity. As I’ve already said, these games are lightweight and meant to run on as simple of a setup as possible.
Let’s kick things off with a cute little adventure title that’s meant for one or two players. The premise is simple–the evil Queen Chigeon (yes, she’s a pigeon) has stolen Charlie’s favorite teddy bear. The objective: as you might imagine, you’re going on a trippy little quest to retrieve the absconded toy. The second player will get to join in the action too as a sidekick. Player one will move with the arrow keys and chop with ‘M,’ while player two will use the W, A, S, D keys to move and chop with ‘Z.’
While Nunchuck Charlie doesn’t exactly boast a ton of replayability, it’s worth giving it a go when you have half an hour to spare with a friend. The gameplay is purely co-operative, meaning that you and the other player will be working towards the same goal throughout the whole adventure.
We can blame it on rose-tinted lenses, but I miss some of the simple arcade joy that came from games in the old NES and Atari eras. The pixels, the gameplay, the simplicity of the controls coupled with some of the surprising difficulty you faced, which required well-honed reflexes, all hearken back to the time of “classic” gaming if we can actually call it such a thing. Gamma Bros. nails this aesthetic perfectly.
It’s a simple concept: you and your friend are spaceship pilots tasked with defeating wave after wave of enemy spaceships. If you remember ye olde Galaga, you won’t have a difficult time recognizing the moving pieces that make Gamma Bros. tick. The controls, however, are slightly more modern and seem to be borrowed from the “roguelike” genre (your attacks and movements are bound to directional keys, rather than being tied to a single button.) That’s the only resemblance to another genre, however; the rest is pure Space Invaders, pure Galaga, and a genuine bit of fun for you and anyone you play with.
Nothing speaks to good competition like a familiar sporting event, and that’s what we have here. The controls and movement in Stick Figure Badminton 2 are very simple, but if you’ve played a game of badminton before (or watched one on television, or just searched for the sport on Wikipedia for the first time right now) you’ll know exactly how this fun little game plays.
Each player gets half of the keyboard to use for movement and racket-swinging, while a simple scoreboard at the top of the screen keeps track of each players points. While this is a competitive title, it’s not a complicated one, and the quality of the game ultimately rests on how well this little Flash-based title manages to simulate real-world badminton physics. Then answer: about as well as a little Flash-based title in a web browser can!
How many of you remember this game when it was popular on MS-DOS? How about when it finally made its way to old-school Mac computers? If I’m revealing my age a bit too much, just ignore my little recollection and click the link. You’ll find a surprisingly fun (yet simple!) game for up to two players, and it has nuance and depth that’s not typically found in Flash titles.
The goal of the game is fairly summarized in the title–blow up the opposing tank, whether it’s your friend or the computer opponent. You’ll be able to move your colorful little machine of war across the landscape and adjust the trajectory and strength of your shots; this determines how high you shoot, how far, and whether or not you’re going to hit your opponent at all. What makes this type of gameplay more fun (especially when it was new, all of those years ago) was the destructible environments. Each time your tank shell hits the landscape, it will take a great big divet out of it. This makes moving across that landscape particularly difficult, and in long matches, can even result in some extra strategy based on how much you and your friend have blown up the ground.
If you gave Tank Wars a try and enjoyed it, I can’t recommend Fortz enough as the next game that should be in your lineup. It’s hip, it’s catchy, and it has surprisingly deep gameplay for being so simple in concept.
The objective you have is much the same as in Tank Wars, although this is very clearly a more modern game. You’re in charge of a fort. You have a limited supply of “ammo,” which can be used to fire your single cannon, or add more pieces to your fort. Ammo replenishes at regular intervals, but you have to abandon your offenses to pick it up! The first player to break down the walls of the opposing fort and eliminate the enemy is the winner!
Because you can build as high and patterned as you like, this game has a surprising amount of replayability, and going up against different people will probably result in a different experience each time. It’s a welcome thing to find such potential depth in so simple a game, and because of this, Fortz gets my top recommendation for the best two-player game that you can find online.
Once again, the best thing about each of these games is that they require an absolute minimum of investment to play. Have a keyboard? Have a computer? Have a web browser? Have a friend? If you can check every item in that list, then you’re going to have some fun with our recommendations. You won’t be able to get the depth and complexity that you might from an iOS or Android game, and especially won’t find anything similar to what’s currently being released in the current gaming generation, but you will find a good time!
Do you have your own opinions about the best free, two-player games online, or have you tried some of those above before? Leave your questions and comments below, and don’t forget to share this article if you enjoyed it!