Portal and Portal 2 are coming to Nintendo Switch as part of the Companion Collection, and it’s incredibly exciting, but why stop there? Portal 2 is one of the best co-op games ever made and it has yet to be surpassed, but if you want to play it with your friends you need to dig up your old console versions or have a PC handy. No thanks. I can play Jak and Daxter Trilogy on PS4 or Bloody Blinx on my Xbox One, but not Portal 2 – that makes sense.
I didn’t play Portal 2’s co-op mode much when it was released. My friends were on console and I was on PC and what little I played was a headache due to my poor internet connection. I missed a lot of time. In the years that followed, I played it with strangers online and through snippets of the campaign with friends, but never from start to finish. It’s one of those games that was hard to fully complete because of all sorts of circumstantial crap. Now that I finally have the time, the means and the desire, I can no longer. I missed the bus and Gabe Newell isn’t coming back to pick me up.
Cooperative games are usually for one player as well, which means the puzzles are not designed around need two people. But then you get the weird two-player-only game like It Takes Two. Holding platforms for each other, solving puzzles together when something clicks, and sabotaging for a cheeky laugh while your friend sighs into the mic are all things that make co-op such a great genre, and unfortunately we do not. can’t see enough. I can’t count the number of times I’ve moved my portals at the last minute to send my buds hurtling into the void – sorry, but not really. But the same thing was done in kind and we sat there laughing like two idiots. I’d love to rekindle that magic all these years later with a port that goes beyond the Switch.
Portal 2 has a dark, witty story that tugs at the heartstrings way more than I’m comfortable with. Being betrayed by a little talking sphere voiced by Stephen Merchant gave me trust issues and everyone’s affair with GLaDOS felt bad, but I cherished my adventure into the depths of Aperture Science with my project of pet potato.
That’s great, but I also cherished the simplicity of the original Portal – there wasn’t much plot, really. You’ve completed puzzles for a murderous robot that was having just a little fun, finishing it off with turrets, lasers, shooting, and explosions. The puzzles are Portal’s main draw, not its story, and 2-player co-op embraces that.
Chell is essentially Gordon with a robotic leg and a robot nemesis, a voiceless blank slate that the player can paint with their own personality. The world around him is the character, but the two co-op exclusive robots ATLAS and P-Body exude charisma (they also ooze with their colorful gels). They’re richly animated, almost giving stage performances with their slapstick antics, and it carries over into the gameplay with their comically proportioned emotes and designs for added effect. There’s tall and lanky and short and stocky, a dynamic duo as old as time, and together they work together usefully – or less – to navigate GLaDOS’ maze of puzzles.
It’s a perfect recipe for a perfect game on top of another perfect game – did I mention how perfect Portal 2 is? I love it, and would love to have another chance to try co-op, so when it comes to Switch, maybe it’s time for Valve to look into Xbox and PlayStation as well. Portal 2 is a masterful classic and it would be a shame to leave it on consoles that have long since begun to gather dust.
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