Co-Op with Catherine

Co-Op with Catherine was a recurring feature published on Trevor Trove between September 2, 2015 and January 2, 2016. All seven installments have been combined herein.

Co-Op with Catherine #1

Yesterday, most of my friends were playing Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. While joining them was my original plan, when my girlfriend, Catherine, asked that we have a date night, that plan quickly changed. So we went out for dinner, visited for awhile, and then returned home to continue our playthrough of LEGO Jurassic World.

Catherine and I started seeing each other in April and on our first date, she impressed me by correcting me on a piece of Super Mario World minutiae (which I had just been playing). She has an older brother so she played games with him up through the Super Nintendo era but got away from them apart from the occasional singing games or Mario Party with friends. But she knows how much games mean to me so we talked about playing together.

Eventually, I’ll introduce her to games like The Last of Us or my all-time favorite Final Fantasy VI, but to re-acclimate her, I figured we’d start with one of the LEGO games and Jurassic World won out (I’ve already gotten the platinums on the other recent games so I might as well get some trophies out of this, too). The LEGO games have always been charming by design so it seemed like a nice entry point for her.

So last night we continued our game by diving into the last mission of Jurassic Park III. These games are great for us to play together because we can just mess around, smash pretty much everything in a level for studs, and visit, rather than focusing on any kind of difficult gameplay. When we do have to co-operate to get through the simple puzzles and platforming, we’re developing our gaming communication with each other, even if it’s just “hey, honey, I need you to come jump on this thing so we can move on.” Rather than fooling around in Free Play mode once we finished the Jurassic Park III portion of the game, we continued straight on to Jurassic World, mostly because we’d both gotten a little frustrated of trying to find a gold brick but not having the character with the right abilities to unlock them. So at this point we’re finishing up the Story Mode so we’ll have the full suite of characters and abilities.

In the coming days, we’ll go through the Free Play mode of the levels and I’ll explain the idea of the “collectathon” aspect of the game as we work through all the rest of the 275 gold bricks. She watched me play through Arkham Knight and all of those damn Riddler trophies so she understands it, now I’m just going to make her suffer through it with me. Mwahaha! She even thinks she’s “excited” about it. How naive…

I love this woman.

Co-Op with Catherine #2

“I hate Mr. DNA! He represents waiting and I hate waiting!” – Catherine Carpenter

Since my last installment of Co-op with Catherine, our playthrough of LEGO Jurassic World has continued between my ridiculously long sessions of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (which you can read about here) or when she just wants to sit down after a long day at work and play the game together. Which is already better than I could have hoped. She wants to play games with me!

We finished up our playthrough of the main story shortly after I last wrote. With that complete, we had all of the different characters needed to run around the four world maps and get all of the collectibles, right? Not quite. Most of them, surebut not all. We’ve gotta unlock more of the dinosaurs for that. Which means replaying through each level in Free Play mode where we can play with whatever characters we want and collecting the Amber Brick in each level.

Now, I’ve played enough of the LEGO games to know that we can make that mission much easier on ourselves by collecting the Red Bricks and unlocking the “cheats” like Minikit Finder or Amber Brick Finder. So I suggested we go ahead and play around in the world maps and collect what we can, all the while gathering enough studs to buy the Red Bricks as we unlocked them. She became amazed as the multiplier bonuses of the Studs x2, Studs x4, Studs x6, etc. Red Bricks combined with one another (to the point where we currently have a x384 multiplier and billions of studs). Our mutual OCD nature was also appeased when we unlocked the Stud Magnet brick that meant we didn’t have to clamor for every loose stud we came across; they would come to us.

Anyway, through all of this, we wound up going from one map to another, or playing through some of the bonus levels. This meant a lot of loading screens and led to the quote above, which had me in hysterics. Loading screens in LEGO Jurassic World feature “Mr. DNA” from the original Jurassic Park film, providing various dinosaur factoids. Late one night, during a session where Cat just wanted to get a few more Gold Bricks before bed, she yelled at the TV “I hate Mr. DNA! He represents waiting and I hate waiting!” It was a great moment between us that will no doubt turn into a cute little inside joke throughout our relationship about the pains of loading screens.

At this point, we’ve healed all of the dinosaurs and taken all the pictures. We’re well over 200 Gold Bricks (out of the game’s 275) and we’ve unlocked almost all of the characters/costumes. It’ll be a treat to make this Catherine’s first game on PlayStation and, most likely, her first Platinum Trophy as well as we wrap this game up in the coming week or so.

Co-Op with Catherine #3

Not too long after the last installment of Co-op with Catherine, I realized that some of the collect-athon trophies in LEGO Jurassic World that had popped for me hadn’t been popping for Catherine. After doing some additional research, I learned that this is unfortunately pretty commonplace for the LEGO games. I found this fairly irksome. If you’re designing the game specifically to be a co-op/family experience, why not design it so that the trophies or achievements are earned by both players?

Yes, if this plan were not implemented carefully, it could mean easy trophies for those who choose to abuse the system. I wouldn’t want the ability to load up my saved game and give my co-op partner who jumps into my game for the first time gets the trophy for collecting all of the thingamabobs right off the bat. But at the same time, it’s not fair that Catherine, who played through the entirety of the game with me start to finish misses out on these trophies because we were playing in a save on my account.

Sure enough, as Cat and I played through the final hours of the game, I got the trophy for rescuing all of the Workers in Peril and she did not. I got the trophy for collecting all mini-kits and she did not. I got the Platinum Trophy and she did not. 

TT Games: please put in the extra coding effort to give co-op players equal trophy support.

TT Games: please put in the extra coding effort to give co-op players equal trophy support.

We completed 100% of the game together but because TT Games only coded the trophies to the Player 1, our lists look drastically different on this game. I was upset because I had been looking forward to celebrating her first game on PlayStation ending with that oh-so-satisfying Platinum Trophy feeling. I even offered to go through and replay the game on her account to get her the missing trophies.

But Catherine was just happy to have spent the time playing through the game with me. She doesn’t have any kind of affinity to her PSN Trophy level. The whole experience was just for the two of us to spend time together. Trophies would have just been an added perk. I even asked if she’d want to play the next one (probably LEGO Dimensions) on her account and she said, “nah. I know they’re more important to you.”

No word on what we’ll be playing next. She’s eager for me to go back to The Witcher III: Wild Hunt because that was “way more fun to watch” than Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. I imagine the next proper Co-op game will be LEGO Dimensions but I might introduce her to a bit of Journey in the meantime. Stay tuned…

Co-Op with Catherine #4

Following the mostly successful trek through LEGO Jurassic World together, Catherine and I decided LEGO Dimensions would probably work well as a next game to play through together. So for her birthday last month, I got her the game and a handful of the sets. First, I gave her the Wizard of Oz set. We recently got our first dog together and named her Elphaba (or Elphie for short) after the Witch from the musical Wicked (based on The Wizard of Oz).

Elphie in the rare picture she stood still for...

Elphie in the rare picture she stood still for…

I also picked up the Level Packs that were available at the time (The SimpsonsBack to the Future, and Portal). Because she got screwed out the trophies last time, I insisted we play through on her login so she could get the trophies and if I really wanted the Platinum I could eventually go back and play through on my own account.

In the nearly month since starting, we’ve gotten through two of the levels from the core game, the Simpsons level, and as of tonight the Doctor Who level (which we just picked up as big fans of the show). We just haven’t been able to get into this one, progress-wise. On more than one occasion, Catherine has literally fallen asleep while playing. Even last night as we dove into the Doctor Who level, she was giddy with all of the references to the show but she couldn’t stay awake to even complete the level. So I saved it and we returned to it tonight. We finished the level and started playing around in the hub world and again, she fell asleep on the couch next to me. Oops, she just woke up as I wrote that.

I think a part of the issue we’re running into is that the puzzles are a bit more obtuse in this iteration. In addition to the characters having their own abilities, they get some extra abilities by moving them around the toy pad but it’s not always immediately apparent when we’re supposed to be interacting with it. Additionally, there’s something a bit weary about running into collectible after collectible that we can’t obtain because we don’t have the character or vehicle needed to unlock it (fortunately TT Games seems to have heard this complaint by patching in the ability to temporarily unlock characters using in-game studs instead of require people to go out and buy every single set).

That said, the toys-to-life component of being able to build the little LEGO sets is delightful. Cat was so excited to put together the little TARDIS figure last night and she’s talking about putting up a shelf in our living room to store and display all of our little sets.

I have no doubt we’ll keep chugging away at this one because it certainly is entertaining, even if it isn’t grabbing us in the way that the more focused entry of LEGO Jurassic World did.

Co-Op with Catherine #5

When Fallout 4 came out last week, Catherine was great about understanding how much that game meant to me and how much time I’d be putting into it. When it was announced, I was spending a lot of time at her old apartment before we moved in together and she let me bring my PlayStation 3 over so that I could replay through Fallout 3 in the mornings while she slept in.

On launch day, she invited her best friend over so they could hang out together with our puppy Elphie and leave me alone with the game. And she’s been great about letting me have the free time to play it since. So I was all too happy to acquiesce to her wish to go back and play through a little bit of LEGO Dimensions tonight. As I described in the last installment of “Co-op With Catherine,” it’s been a bit of a slough to get through the game though.

We hit a new record tonight though with the Ninjago level. As soon as the level started, Elphie started acting like she was going to go to the bathroom so rather than let her have an accident in the house, I got up and took her outside while Cat started the level. A few minutes later, Cat hadn’t really progressed so I worked out what we were supposed to do and instructed her as needed. Most LEGO game levels are broken up into three stages. Cat barely made it through the first stage tonight before telling me to play the rest of the level myself while she watches (which is code for immediately falls asleep). So I finished the level so we’ll be ready to progress next time. It’s not like either of us have any deep connection to the Ninjago IP so I don’t think she missed anything (hell, I didn’t even know if this level was the Ninjago one or the Chima one until the end of the level when the music kept saying Ninjago over and over again).

One of these days we’ll play and she’ll be awake long enough to open and build through the remaining Level Packs, Team Packs, and Fun Packs, let alone the core game itself…

Co-Op with Catherine #6

As I mentioned Tuesday, it seemed like we’d never make it through LEGO Dimensions but a couple nights ago, Catherine had a couple of her friends over. As they wined and dined, they also opened up a few of our remaining packs and build some mini-figs. Since the building instructions are locked in the game itself, they only built the characters. Fast forward to tonight, Cat wanted to sit down and play some more.

We still didn’t really progress through the main story at all but we opened the Back to the Future Level Pack and played through the level and then enjoyed hanging out in Hill Valley a lot. We also went through and built a lot of the other sets. So far, our collection looks like this:

Not pictured, but in our possession:

  • Scooby Snack and Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo Team Pack
  • Cloud Cuckoo Car from The LEGO Movie Unikitty Fun Pack
  • Chell, Sentry Turret, and Companion Cube from the Portal 2Level Pack

Once we get these ones built, I’m sure I’ll update with a new picture. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until it was too late that the next level in the game in the Doctor Who level. Catherine will undoubtedly enjoy that level when we get to it. Tonight’s playthrough even started with her expressing that she really didn’t want to play through the “ninja stuff” so she was overjoyed when I told her I beat that level while she slept last time.

From my perspective, this is still certainly very slow-going for a LEGO game. In the past, I’ve burnt through games like LEGO Marvel Super Heroes or the LEGO Batman games, playing them exclusively before moving on to the next game in the catalog. But this one is making for a very different experience. Perhaps because this entry is such a mashup of so many different franchises, it’s easier to jump in and jump out. While other people are playing games like Star Wars Battlefront as a break from Fallout 4, I’m enjoying these little respites with LEGO Dimensions. I can enjoy some time in the worlds of The SimpsonsThe Wizard of OzDoctor Who, and so many more for a little bit before diving back into the Commonwealth. And playing with Catherine is, as always, the icing on the cake.

Co-Op with Catherine #7

Between Fallout, PlayStation Experience, and our holiday travel schedule, it has been awhile since Catherine and I sat down and played together. But when my family unloaded about 13 LEGO Dimensions packs on us yesterday, we thought it was a perfect time to revisit the game.

But first, Catherine was adamant that we find a way to display our massive collection. So after a few minutes searching online, we found this video from TalkBricks featuring a setup that Cat really liked. It’s a simple variable collection display case with three stands that can be arranged into a variety of configurations. It is sold online through The Container Store but even better for Catherine and myself is the fact that a new Container Store just opened by my work a couple months back so we went there and picked up all four they had on the shelf (sorry other local collectors of things).

While out and about we also found ourselves out at a Best Buy. Earlier in the day, I had done the research to discover that of the LEGO Dimensions sets that have been released so far, we were only missing two: Cyborg from DC and Jay from Ninjago. Jay is a Toys ‘R Us timed exclusive apparently but I used a Best Buy gift card to pick up Cyborg at the Best Buy.

Later, we were exchanging an item at Bed Bath and Beyond for Cat and there just happened to be a Toys ‘R Us next door, so we figured “why not?” and got the final set.

And now we’re going through and building them all.

I don’t yet know if we’ll get any actual playing in tonight but it’s fun nonetheless. I’m sure I’ll post pictures of the full collection once we’re done.

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