Readers name the best platform games ever made, both 2D and 3D, and including classics such as Guacamelee and Yoshi’s Island.
The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Bernardo and asked whether you enjoy the platform genre in general, and if you’re happy with how it’s evolved over the years.
There may have been an attempt to avoid the answer of a Mario game but in the end the responses were surprisingly unanimous, with Rayman Legends coming away as the clear favourite.
Prince of platformers
The best platformers were and still are the Prince Of Persia games in my opinion, from the original and excellent 2D side-scrollers on PC to the series peak of The Two Thrones and Warrior Within they barely put a foot wrong.
The graphics, level design, parkour and combat system were always way ahead of anything else at the time. Admittedly they lost their way somewhat after that and were ultimately replaced by the open world approach of Assassin’s Creed, but to me those early games are unmatched.
Platforming games are one of my favourite genres and in the 3D space by far my favourites would have to be Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 and Super Mario 3D World. But rather than talk about those, which I’m sure most people know the brilliance of, I’m going to talk about the 2D Metroidvania games Guacamelee 1 and 2.
Even though these are Metroidvanias, where combo based combat forms a large part of the gameplay, I also remember that the platforming did too, perhaps more so than other Metroidvanias, as there was a variety of moves you could do for combat which also aided in platforming. There would be large sections of the game where you were doing nothing but platforming. Some of the sections could be very tricky but I found it huge amounts of fun all the same.
For a pure 2D platformer though I must give a shout to Rayman Origins and Legends. It had a great art style and memorable levels where you would get chased to licensed music tracks, it was massive amounts of fun to play those levels.
Now playing: Paper Mario: The Origami King (Switch) and Into The Breach (Switch)
I have recently completed Psychonauts 2. I had never played the original game but number 2 has become my favourite platforming game.
In the best Nintendo style tradition, it introduces many different gameplay aspects throughout its story. The game is very bizarre, though in a good way and the colours and vibrancy that runs through the game are wonderful.
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Platformers are my favourite genre so I’m really not sure what I think the best one is. I sometimes really enjoy playing an old NES game, which if I was being critical is actually a bad game but I really enjoy them such as the NES Star Wars game, The Jetsons, and the NES version of Joe & Mac – which I enjoyed much more than the SNES version.
I have played every Mario platformer, whether 2D or 3D and I would say they have probably been the best of the genre since day one and stayed there ever since. This might be controversial, but I had so much fun with New Super Mario Bros. U and finished it 100% and really enjoyed getting some of the harder gold coins that it might actually be my favourite of the 2D Marios.
I think it was just good timing as I saw the advert on TV and fancied playing a 2D Mario, so I bought a Wii U with Mario Bros. U the next day and it was exactly what I was looking for: good old 2D Mario. I did recently play through Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World on my Switch and they are both still amazing games.
So yeah, I don’t know but I would say it has to be a Mario game, whether 2D or 3D, it just depends on what mood I’m in but I think the 2D games just edge it for me as there is no fluff, just constant gameplay.
I mentioned it on here years ago but a quick shout out to The Adventures Of Shuggy on Xbox 360. Looks like a Sky TV game but has a new idea every level and was such an enjoyable game. It’s a shame that I have never met or heard of anyone else who has played it.
Mario vs. the world
While it’s extremely easy to just name a top flavour of Mario game and call it a day (which is what I’m going to do anyway), the top spot for platformers is somewhat in flux for me. You see, I’m not as enamoured with the first Super Mario Galaxy as most. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still wonderful, but some parts of it can be a slog. Some purple coin hunts, races against the AI, the expert levels for rolling on a ball and blowing Mario in a bubble, just feel a bit too much like hard work for me. 9 out of 10. Sorry.
I still maintain, that even with you having to fight that camera (especially painful during Wet Dry World), Super Mario 64 still deserves top marks. But Super Mario Odyssey has surpassed it. But I’m not sure if it’s better than Galaxy 2. I didn’t get that far into it, but at no time did I feel like I was trudging through it. I remember getting as far as riding Yoshi up a brightly coloured slide or waterfall, I think?
So, Super Mario Odyssey is the best platform game you can currently buy. Until I have a chance to properly compare it with Super Mario Galaxy 2. Which might be superior. I don’t know.
I wonder what the most popular non-Mario answer will be? Super Meat Boy? Rayman? The Prince? Lara? Nate? Sonic, even? Though once you have played a top-tier Mario title it becomes hard to justify why he isn’t the best. I would have thought.
My favourite platform games are Mario ones, which I know will be a common answers, with Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy, and the new Super Mario 3D World being the best titles, in my opinion.
However, in the hope of pushing others to experience them, I’d like to give a huge shout out to both Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends, which were PlayStation 3/4 titles. I bought Origins solely off the back of GC’s review at the time (thank you!) and the gameplay, music, colours, levels, and overall enjoyment are genuinely up there with Mario titles.
Same goes with Legends and the music sections, especially Black Betty are brilliant. I know Ubisoft aren’t looking to do another currently, which is a huge shame as it’s day one purchase 100%. Inbox magic do your thing!
There are multiple platformer games from the Mega Drive era that I have enjoyed because of the great design work that went into these games, which offered incredible graphics for a 16-bit system and were highly playable. These are Coolspot, Fantastic Dizzy, Dynamite Heady, X-Men, Flashback, Tailspin, Bubsy Bobcat, Tiny Toon Adventures, Rolo To The Rescue, RoboCop Vs. Terminator, Rolling Thunder 2, ToeJam & Earl 1 and 2, and finally Castle and World Of Illusion. Also, the Sonic games deserve a mention as well.
Some, but not all, of these games did get a newer title on later systems but the sequels didn’t. Given that some of the above mentioned games have not had the chance to have a newer title released I’d love to see this happen.
The PlayStation is another console that has given me some of the greatest 2D and 3D platform games, these are Pandemonium, Crash Bandicoot, Trash It, Croc, Spyro The Dragon, Rayman, Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, and finally Ape Escape. Of course, Rayman still has newer games, Spyro had its recent trilogy remaster, and Crash Bandicoot shows that these games are still being enjoyed even two generations after their official release.
Finally, the one platform game on the Xbox One that is 3D that I have enjoyed is ToeJam & Earl: Back In The Groove. which is the latest instalment and is also another platformer series that appeared on the Sega Mega Drive originally. It has evolved greatly and I am really happy to see that it has managed to make it to the Xbox One, as well as other systems.
These are my favourite platform games which I have enjoyed for many generations and I hope that the new generation will not only bring back some of these platformers via a reboot. In the near future I am going to be really looking forward to seeing future new platformers – 3D or 2D – that arrive.
gaz be rotten (gamertag)
So many of the really impressive indie games out there use the 2D side view angle to show off their amazingly well-developed gameplay, like Shovel Knight, Hollow Knight, and Celeste. These use the past as a starting nostalgic starting point but certainly evolve it for a modern days audience, with all the new clever technologies and techniques on offer.
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island on the Super Nintendo was to me a breakthrough in technical design back in the day. It was also one of the last major SNES releases by Nintendo. The clever effects, from the lighting, colours involved, sounds/music, and more advanced effects from the Super FX2 graphics chip were expertly utilised to make a very special game indeed.
Over the 48 odd levels there was never a dull moment and the gameplay was different in nearly every area, meaning that the backgrounds and foregrounds seemed to be alive and moving and playing a role in the gameplay mechanics. Yoshi could also morph into a submarine, train and plane, making for some more subtle and dynamic gameplay in between the main but varied 2D style of platform leaping.
If the previous Mario’s were blocky, straight edged and more basic to look at then Yoshi’s Island is like something out of a kid’s drawing book, but from the mind of a creative genius.
The bosses were all very different and very imaginative from each other and also how you fought them was so very clever and quite unique, from fighting huge tentacled Piranha plants, a creature on a very round moon in the sky, and inside a frog’s guts after being swallowed when you’re shrunk! And not forgetting the end battle with Baby Bowser.
I remember some of the major bosses theme music were influenced by a certain Thrash Metal band called Slayer, with their title track from the album ‘Hell Awaits’ (subtly), being used for the battles with these bosses. The last and main boss of the game’s music has to be heard to be believed – so, so good.
In my own opinion Super Mario World 2 was a blueprint to inspire the future developers we see creating their magic now. Obviously there were other inspiring titles also, but I see this Super Mario title as breaking new ground and inspiring the amazing modern Indie titles we see in our present times.
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