Amazon’s new co-op mode on Luna offers an interesting use case for cloud gaming service

Amazon announced a number of big additions to its cloud gaming service Luna on Thursday morning, including a new family-oriented collection, a “Couch” mode for cooperative play, and a new benefit for Amazon Prime members.

The news came via the official Luna blog, which is apparently a thing, and ends a period of relative quiet for the Amazon service. While Luna has consistently been adding more titles to its library every month since its debut last October, and currently features 96 games in its lineup, it’s been somewhat quiet otherwise.

Luna is a paid subscription service that allows users to play included video games through a compatible web browser or smart device, by streaming them directly from Amazon’s servers. The games in Luna’s library are a broad assortment of third-party titles from the last few years, including hits like Bloodstained: Legacy of the Night and No More Heroes.

Some of the games compatible with Luna Couch on Sept. 9. (Amazon Luna screenshot)

Subscribers also have the option to add extra channels to their subscription for an additional charge, but until Thursday, the only available channel was Ubisoft+ for $14.99 per month. This unlocks access to 36 titles from the Montreal-based mega-developer, including several entries in the Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry series. Next month’s big release, Far Cry 6, will launch on Luna at the same date it appears on other platforms.

Thursday’s updates include the addition of a new channel, Family, for an extra $2.99 a month. This adds 36 child-friendly games to the Luna+ lineup, such as The Adventure Pals, Wandersong, Overcooked, and games based on the Trollhunters, Garfield, and Spongebob Squarepants franchises.

A new retro-gaming focused channel is also planned to launch on Luna at some point in the immediate future, with publishers such as Atari and SNK attached.

Games planned for the retro channel, as per Luna’s blog, include Don Bluth’s classic 1983 arcade title Dragon’s Lair, the 1991 Interplay platformer Another World (a.k.a. Out of This World), and at least one entry in SNK’s The King of Fighters series.

To start a couch session on Amazon Luna, press shift-tab once you’re in-game to call up the menu. Friends will need to input a six-digit code at amazon.com/lunacouch. (Luna screenshot)

Another new feature, Luna Couch, allows subscribers to invite other players to remotely play cooperative and multiplayer games with them. You can start a session and send invite codes to friends from the service, and those friends can dial into your game from compatible devices even if they aren’t Luna subscribers themselves.

It took a second to dope out the mechanics, but I was able to host a decent co-op session through 2019’s River City Girls with a buddy across town without any real issues. RCG, a beat-’em-up in the style of old arcade brawlers, normally doesn’t let you play online with a friend, but Luna made it happen. We also found that extra players with the code could join in and watch the game being played, as an unofficially-supported “spectator mode.”

That offers an interesting new use case for Luna; like Rainway, Luna can “trick” local-only games on its service into enabling networked multiplayer. It’s a narrow niche, but a potentially handy one.

Luna also announced that its service is newly compatible with Amazon Fire tablets and Chromebooks, in addition to PC, Mac, Fire Tvs, iOS phones and tablets, and Android phones.

As an additional promotional measure, Amazon Prime subscribers in the continental U.S. also received access to four games via Luna — Resident Evil 7, Metro Exodus, Katamari Damacy REROLL, and Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom — from Sept. 9 to 15. The games are available and free with Prime, and do not require a Luna subscription for access.

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Amazon Games Luna