Since the Spyro Reignited Trilogy released earlier this week, it is literally the only thing I have played. The games feel just as amazing as they did two decades ago and have absolutely hooked me. The worlds are all different, the characters have never looked better, and the gameplay is still pulling me back every day. This reminded me of how much I love platformers.
Nintendo is Not Enough
Unfortunately, besides the Mario games that Nintendo gives us, there just are not enough good platformers anymore. Companies like Rare just don’t make the games that made them a household name anymore. Banjo-Kazooie hasn’t been heard from in forever, Conker is MIA, and old Rare employees made Playtonic Games who made Yooka-Laylee. They tried, but something was missing. Maybe we start seeing them again with the success of the Crash and Spyro remakes we are getting, but who knows? Games like A Hat in Time prove that they can still be made successfully and can be popular. They just are not the focus of companies anymore.
We need more 3D platformers to be released. In the late 90’s, 3D platformers were everywhere with the releases of the N64, PS1, and later the Dreamcast. These were the games that got me interested in video games. If you put Super Mario 64 in front of me, I will still play that for hours. Good platforming games don’t need new maps to bring people back, it just needs fun controls and interesting worlds.
The dominance of the 3D platformer genre has been replaced by shooters and that’s fine. I love shooting games as well, they are really fun. Give me a good feeling platformer and I will try to find every secret about that game.
The Joys of Simplicity
I think one of the things that has drawn me back with the Spyro games is the simplicity. You get dropped into a world to get to the end and if you want there are a few side objectives in each world you can do. Most games are just not that simple anymore. Every developer wants to build the most elaborate, sprawling world with 80 hours of content. I don’t need that. For every Assassins Creed Odyssey-like game there is, there is also a person like me on the side saying, “I don’t think I want to invest that much time into that.” Give me something that I can play with my kid and both of us get the same level of entertainment out of it.
Making games for the whole family to enjoy is a lost art in video games. Someone in my demographic is largely marketed more serious games. Besides the colorful characters of Overwatch, I can’t explain to my daughter the types of games I play when she asks me what I’ve been playing lately. This is one reason Nintendo has had such a prevalent name in video games for a long time. They make games that are fun for both kids and adults. Super Mario Odyssey is one of the best games to come out of last year and my daughter and I still regularly pop it in to find random moons. With Spyro, I’ve been plowing through the games on my own and when I have her, we have a second save file where we pass the controller back and forth progressing through the game.
New Ideas for Platformers?
What do we want from a 3D platforming game made in the late 2010’s? Well, companies need to put collecting items to the bottom of the wish list. The massive collect-a-thons like Donkey Kong 64 are not fun and are a cheap way to make your game look like it has more content than it does.
Mascots still drive 3D platformers. There is a reason Crash and Spyro were so highly requested to make a comeback. Some popular cartoon can license their characters, or a company make up their own and it would be fine. The more unrealistic, the better.
Every game seems to have RPG elements nowadays, why not include that in a 3D platformer? Mix things up by not giving power-ups that quickly make you more powerful for a short time. Let’s try making players build up to being broken and overpowered. It gives the you a reason to keep playing and makes for unique design in the platforming space instead of designing areas only for a certain power-up.
I am completely open to companies trying new things with platformers. Classic play is fine too. Just give me more.
I love 3D platformers. The cartoony characters are fun, the worlds can be so unique, and I just love the movement capabilities of these games. That’s just me though. How do you feel about platforming games? Do you want them to come back in a big way or are you fine only playing Fortnite and Red Dead Redemption II? If you want more, tell me your ideas for how someone could make a fun new 3D platforming game!