To celebrate the release of Crash Bandicoot: N.Sane Trilogy on PlayStation 4; a series I personally have no love for (but have preordered), I thought it would be fitting to look back into my gaming past and collate a list of some of my favourite platformers.It should be noted that although I did grow up on a healthy diet of 8, 16 and 32 bit games (3 eras synonymous with platformers) it is a genre that I have never truly loved. I mean yeah, I’ve played a fair few of them but only a handful have really captured my attention and kept me playing to the end – this means that YOUR favourite platformer may not be here for one of many reasons including:
1. I never owned a NES or SNES
2. I have never really been a Nintendo home console fan (but have owned every handheld they’ve ever released)
3. I have (mostly) avoided platformers from the PS2 era onwards because I can’t stand them
Now that this is out of the way – let’s talk a walk down memory lane and discover the platform greats that have stuck with me and found a spot (in no particular order) on “my favourite platformer list 2017”.
Sly Cooper and the Theivius Raccoonus (PlayStation 2)
I played (and wrote about) this game quite recently and absolutely loved its brand of platforming, its cast of characters and of course the level design. Sly Cooper is absolutely under-rated by most people and completely unknown by some; both of these things should be a crime because in my opinion it is a better platformer than either Ratchet & Clank (which is admittedly very different) and Jak & Daxter. Two games that get praise heaped upon them from every angle.
While Sly is not a perfect game (it’s far from one in fact) and it can be incredibly frustrating in parts; but Sucker Punch have shown a vast amount of imagination and technical brilliance to ensure that this game never gets repetitive or boring for the player. All the side-levels with these diversions really add to the game and its sense of adventure and never feel tacked on. As a result of the games design I found myself eager to see the game through to the end and collecting all the skill addons dotted through the game.
Sly Cooper is an immense amount of fun and it is now a game I whole-heartedly recommend to everyone who asks about a game to play on their VITA.
Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)
Nintendo is often cited as the creator of the platform genre and whilst this is heavily debated; it is undeniable that they are truly the masters of it! And this game was not only a great Wii game but it was one of the games of the entire 7th generation.
What Nintendo achieved here is mind-boggling; first of all it is one of the best looking games of its generation, the music was top tier, every level has a new idea or mechanic that must be mastered in order to progress, and finally we have the perfection of absolutely everything! Mario controls and feels perfect, he’s nimble but not too fast, maneuverable but never fiddly and then we have the level design and boss encounters – sublime!
Everything about this game screams perfection; and playing it is an eye opener to how video games could (and arguably should) be about, and how good this genre could be with time and imagination. Nintendo not only innovated the genre with Galaxy 2 but they perfected it – leaving everything else looking upon it in awe!
Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse (Mega Drive/Master System)
For my money this is the best Disney platformer ever released and it was one of the first games I played that genuinely looked like a cartoon (maybe not so much now though), everything about this game oozed charm and Disney magic. It was superb.
The game opens with a cut scene (genuinely one of the first times I ever saw one) and it leads Mickey to a castle (shock horror) every level is unrelated to the last and allows the game to have some really imaginative levels including a candy world, toy land and one in which mickey is tiny. This is as close to a Nintendo game Mega Drive players ever got – one level even had gravity shifts which was unique and cool as hell!
Castle of Illusion does so much right, it is stunning looking, sounds amazing, Mickey controls with a responsiveness that Sonic lacked and the level design was absolutely spot on; they were challenging but not unfairly so. The only thing that I can fault in Castle of Illusion is that the boss fights are unimaginative in mechanics – they all have simple patterns and are easily defeated – the fact that I could complete this game as a kid made me so proud!
A must play for another who enjoys 2D platformers.
Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)
This is actually my favourite Mario game (although I’m not a Mario fan at all) as well as my favourite 3DS game.
This is the perfect halfway house between 2D and 3D Mario in which everything just works – the controls are outstanding, the level design is borderline genius with a number of nods towards other Nintendo franchises (including an outstanding Zelda easter egg), the sound and visual direction is beautiful and finally it really makes use of the 3DS’ unique selling point and makes you believe that 3D could have a future in video games.
Yet more Nintendo magic and a reason to buy a 3DS!
What are your favourite platform games?
Tell me in the comments/FaceBook/Twitter!