The lights are on
We take a look at the 10 games that defined – and redefined – the platforming genre in this past generation.
It was an interesting
console generation for the storied platforming genre. While it isn't the
commercial powerhouse it once was, the genre grew in many ways - both by
evolving in new directions and by returning to its roots.
The days of big-budget
3D platformers are largely behind us (with a few amazing exceptions, thankfully),
but the list below proves that developers can still mine fun gameplay from the
basic running-and-jumping mechanics of the genre. The list is remarkably
diverse, and one that shows that the platformer was in fine form artistically
during this past generation.
10. A Boy and His Blob (Wii - 2009)
WayForward Technologies has a knack for bringing our gaming
past back to life in ways that are even better than we remembered. Like many of
its other titles - Contra 4, Double Dragon Neon, DuckTales Remastered - A Boy
and His Blob reimagines the NES classic for a new generation of gamers.
Featuring new levels, art, gameplay, and improved mechanics, this
puzzle/platformer requires both reflexes and guile to negotiate its
environments with the help of an amorphous, jellybean-loving friend.
9. Donkey Kong Country
Returns (Wii - 2010)
The Donkey Kong Country games are some of the defining titles
of the SNES era, so the announcement that Metroid Prime developer Retro Studios
was creating an all-new 2D DK adventure was met with happiness from Nintendo
faithful. Donkey Kong Country Returns does not disappoint. The 2D worlds are
gorgeous, and the gameplay stays close to the original formula while adding
those small moments of ingenuity and refinement we expect from first-party
8. Ratchet & Clank
Future: Tools of Destruction (PS3 - 2007)
Ratchet & Clank had a quietly great generation, adding to
its resume with traditional platformers and experiments like All 4 One. Its one
large-scale PS3 entry, 2007's Tools of Destruction, didn't make any major
changes to the formula, but plays like a master class in platformer
development. It's everything the PS2 classic were, only bigger, better looking,
and more polished. Tools of Destruction is one of the truly underrated games of
this past generation.
7. Limbo (Xbox 360, PS3
Not many platformers conjure up adjectives like "haunting,"
"chilling," and "ethereal," but Limbo breaks the mold. PlayDead's unique
project is rendered in a gauzy black-and-white style that evokes a sense of
dread and mystery. The action is often tense, and the storytelling gives you
little direction as to what the small child protagonist's motivation is. As a
result, many wild theories about the plot and its meaning proliferate on the
Internet to this day. Though short, Limbo sticks with you long after you've
finished. There's nothing quite like it.
6. New Super Mario Bros.
(Wii - 2009)
The character that's synonymous with the platformer came roaring
back in this past generation with a round of new classics. New Super Mario
Bros. shows off Nintendo's knack for readdressing the past while subtly moving
into the future. The game is, as the name suggests, a throwback to the series'
2D NES days. However, it places an emphasis on four-player co-op, making this a
multiplayer Mario experience that is both chaotic and addictive - as long
as your teammates don't kill you too often. To Nintendo's credit, the levels are
designed so expertly that it plays equally well solo.
Email the author Matt Helgeson, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.