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The PS2 Co-Op Puzzle Game You Likely Never Played

There have been a lot of unusual games on PlayStation consoles over the years. Sony has been at the forefront of gaming innovation since it first entered the scene in 1994, pushing the bounds of technology in ways that are very attractive to third-party developers looking for consoles to run their games. The PlayStation brand has seen some stunning transformations, with each generation growing progressively more advanced, but the PS2 was an extraordinary console. For one thing, it had an absolutely massive library of games. Sony claimed that over 10,000 games have been released for the console and that 1.52 billion titles have been sold (per GameSpot via WayBackMachine). So it shouldn't come as a surprise that a console with a catalog as absurdly gigantic as the PS2's would have a few odd little games that would fly under the radar for most people.

One of these little-known wonders is a co-op puzzle game called "The Adventures of Cookie & Cream." This unassuming game about helping two hyperactive bunnies navigate a series of challenges received a modest score of 78 on Metacritic and isn't exactly considered a cult classic. In fact, few people seem to remember it at all. So what's so interesting about an adorable, moderately well-reviewed game with an E for Everyone rating? Well, to start, "The Adventures of Cookie & Cream" was developed by none other than "Dark Souls" and "Elden Ring" creator, From Software.

What is The Adventures of Cookie & Cream?

"The Adventures of Cookie & Cream" was first released under the title "Kuri Kuri Mix" in Japan in 2000. The story begins on the eve of the Moon Festival. Two rabbits named Cookie and Cream are headed home when a messenger rooster tells them that the moon has fled from the sky. This fowl then tasks our heroes with going on an adventure to bring the moon back. Otherwise, there will never be another Moon Festival again. The rabbits are then unceremoniously transported to a strange island where they must work together to reach their goal.

No single-player mode exists in "The Adventures of Cookie & Cream." Gameplay has some platforming elements, but solving puzzles to progress primarily relies on the two players working together as a team. Each player follows a path on either side of the screen, and there will be times when the other player will have to perform an action for their comrade to proceed. For example, one may have to press a button for the other to cross a bridge or pull a chain connected to an alligator so that their friend can pass without becoming dinner. These challenges are also timed, putting pressure on the players to solve the puzzles quickly. Items can increase the timer on the path, but either player dying reduces the time both have left in their run.

An early co-op pioneer

The general mechanics in "The Adventures of Cookie & Cream" weren't as intricate as a Nintendo platformer, and the graphics weren't as strong as many other titles on the PS2. However, it was still groundbreaking in other ways. This sort of co-op exclusive gameplay didn't really exist at the time of the game's release. Titles that took advantage of the PS2's graphical capabilities, such as "Twisted Metal Black" and "Champions of Norath," are often remembered as the best PS2 co-op games (per IGN.) These were undoubtedly excellent games, but the co-op modes that they offered generally involved similar mechanics to their respective single-player modes. They would simply add the ability for a second player to join the game. That isn't to say that players and their friends couldn't have a great time playing these kinds of games together, but it's worth noting that none of them involved the sort of co-op exclusive gameplay that "The Adventures of Cookie & Cream" pioneered.

Similar mechanics would later appear in popular titles like the co-op mode in "Portal 2" and the recent co-op darling from Hazelight Studios: "It Takes Two." These are now frequently hailed as some of the best modern couch co-op games. It's hard to say precisely how much influence "The Adventures of Cookie & Cream" had on these newer titles, but it certainly seems like it walked so future titles could run.

One controller, two players

One of the strange things about how "The Adventures of Cookie & Cream" was designed is the control layout. While it is possible for players to navigate Cookie and Cream using separate controllers, From Software made it so that the default method is for two players to share a single DualShock Analog 2. This meant that they would have to huddle together while one player would use the left thumbstick, L1, and L2 buttons to control Cookie, and the other would use the right thumbstick, R1, and R2 buttons to control Cream. This unique layout made it so that even gamers who only had one controller could still enjoy the game with a friend.

Since both characters could be controlled by a single controller, this has also led many From Soft fans to realize that they can technically play through the entire game solo, using one hand to control Cookie while the other controls Cream. But, of course, maneuvering two characters simultaneously is considerably more challenging than each player managing one independently. As a result, some fans have joked that playing the game this way turns "The Adventures of Cookie & Cream" from a relatively straightforward co-op game into the most difficult single-player game that From Software has ever developed.

From Software's transition to Demon Souls

From Software is now primarily known as the creator of punishing action RPGs with punishing combat and little-to-no in-game guidance. This reputation started with the release of "Demon Souls" in 2009, which incorporated challenging gameplay, massive boss battles, and very little in the way of cutscenes or other forms of typical gaming narrative structure. There have been several iterations of this formula since. "Dark Souls," "Bloodborne," and "Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice" are all titles that have followed a similar design path, culminating in the multi-game of the year award-winning game, "Elden Ring." These games have been so influential on the genre that fans created their own subgenre, calling them 'soulsborne' games, while titles from other developers that appeared to imitate this structure were referred to as 'soulslike.'

From Software made a lot of different games before "Demon Souls," however, and some of the stylistic features that Soulsborne fans associate with the subgenre were apparent even as far back as "The Adventures of Cookie & Cream." Players are dropped into the game with only the bare minimum of narrative information, and transitions between sections are marked by boss battles that require players to switch up gameplay. The story of the moon abandoning the sky also has a vaguely mythic quality that feels similar to the post-cataclysmic environments in From Software's other titles. It might be subtle, but the seeds of the narrative structure and overall game form have existed for quite some time.