Once upon a time in a kingdom far far away, 2D platforming games were a true work of art. Those days are long behind us as we celebrate the 3D platformer. Although this beloved genre has suffered alongside the rise of the FPS, we take a look at some of the best platformer games we’ve had in recent times.
Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped
Discussing which Crash Bandicoot game is the best could cause some heated arguments, but that’s only a testament to how good the Playstation series actually is. However, Crash 3 is often considered the standout game thanks to its diverse locales, new gameplay twists, and the addition of flying, surfing, motorbike, and jet-ski sections.
The game sees Crash, and his little sister Coco, as they set off on a time-travelling adventure to reclaim some powerful crystals before Neo Cortex and the evil voodoo mask, Uka Uka. The entry sees some of the most enjoyable and challenging platforming segments in the franchise and they’re still as fun as they were back in 1998 when the game first released.
Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy
Before Uncharted, Naughty Dog’s other 3D platformer was that of the Jak & Daxter games, with the first entry being one of the best PS2 games ever made.
While the sequels diverged a little bit away from the franchise’s roots, the first entry into the Jak & Daxter series is the truest form of a 3D platforming adventure.
Jak & Daxter‘s colourful open-world is full with enough collectibles to please any completionist, and features a bunch of personality in its characters, most notably Jak’s hilarious sidekick, Daxter. Beautiful graphics, fun gameplay shake-ups, and an funny story helped propel Jak & Daxter into platforming heaven.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
When Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time came along, it gave gamers that one feature we had all been craving: the ability to manipulate time.
From the jump, critics and fans loved the acrobatic elements of combat, the challenging puzzles, and the attention to visual detail, making it one of the top games of the year upon its release. Making the leap from 2D to 3D is always a troublesome one, but the Prince of Persia franchise managed to reinvent itself and stick the landing without a hiccup.
Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus
An early progenitor of the “film-noir” movement in gaming, Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus let you step inside the world of the highly skilled cat raccoon burglar, Sly Cooper, as he sought to recover the stolen secrets of his family’s ancient, thieving ways.
The stealth elements of the game were remarkably well-executed, the cel-shaded artwork was rich and visually-stimulating, and its sheer accessibility made it crossover hit for kids and adults. While it perhaps a little too short, the fact that Sly Cooper left its players only asking for more can’t be taken as anything but a good sign.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Super Mario Galaxy 2 managed to take a great game and make it even greater. The visuals of Galaxy 2 are not worlds apart from its predecessor, but there’s definitely an improvement in the platforming madness.
The level design took a huge step up and all the added galaxies make you feel like you’ve been slipped an even stronger drug. You feel completely intoxicated as you run, swim, fly, and jump around the crazy looking levels, and you realise that Nintendo’s innovation in level design and gameplay trump even the biggest graphical powerhouses, and their platforming ideas are definitely up there with the stars.
Donkey Kong Country Returns
Donkey Kong and his simian primate friend Diddy Kong have flashed their faces across a few of Nintendo’s gaming platforms over the last few years, but something that has been lacking is a full-blown platformer reminiscent of DK’s glory days.
Donkey Kong Country Returns brought back the tough-as-nails platforming to the Wii, not to mention the stellar graphics, thanks to incredible animations and vividly coloured characters and backgrounds.
The platforming moments are definitely not as easy as they look; however, if you’ve got the time and patience, and you’re a fan of the big ape, you’re in for one of the best games to hit Nintendo’s little console, and one of the best platformers jumping around.
While many people have lost faith in Sega’s blue mascot, Sonic Generations is hands-down one of the fastest and most exciting games the anthropomorphic hedgehog has ever had, and should be played by all.
Generations manages to combine the old-school appeal of Sonic with the modern elements which hardcore fans related with. The result is an incredibly fun and frantic platforming adventure that revisits many of Sonic’s past adventures from the Mega Drive heyday to the high-points from the Dreamcast years.
Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time
Since its inception in 2002, the Ratchet and Clank series has become an all-time favourite amongst fans. The famous lombax and his tin sidekick made their return to the PS3 with A Crack in Time and delivered one of the strongest games in the series, thanks to some great platforming.
It’s gameplay is as solid as the metal on Clank’s back and tests your brain and reactions with some great time-bending platforming puzzles. To top it off, it’s a really good looking title that runs like a dream. Our two favourite heroes have come a long way since 2002 and even after all this time they still managed to deliver a great running and jumping adventure that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside.