Memories of days gone by

I am one of those gamers who some months ago hungrily lapped up the re-release of Banjo-Kazooie on XBLA and, more recently, Banjo-Tooie, two titles from the N64 glory days when the name “Rare” was still a force to be reckoned with. Playing these two titles, though if I’m honest with myself the former moreso than the latter, reminded me of two things: we’ve come a long way and where are my platformers?

The cut-off for replayable retro seems to be just after the 16-bit era where games were made in glorious 2D that has aged a lot better than the 3D era of the Playstation and aforementioned N64. Previously I have toyed a little with PS1 games released on the Playstation Network, though the edges were so rough it made my eyes bleed. The first few generations of 3D games are, frankly, ugly as sin these days. Banjo-Kazooie and Tooie however still seem to stand up pretty well. The textures are rough enough to count the pixels, as are the models and their polygons, but Rare still managed in those dark ages to squeeze a lot of character out of their worlds with cute animations and design. Don’t get me wrong, the games are ugly these days, but somehow the charm they still possess seems to make up for that.

Platformers, though, seem to have migrated to the handhelds, for some reason. I can barely remember the last decent Castlevania on home consoles (I lie, it was obviously Symphony of the Night on PS1, released over 12 years ago). I tend to discount things like Bionic Commando Rearmed and Banjo-Kazooie, as these are remakes or re-releases. Which leaves games like Ratchett & Clank and…what?

Things like Prince of Persia, Uncharted and Tomb Raider fill some of that void, as do brawlers like Oboromuramasa, yet my platforming hunger seems very badly served by today’s market. Are they the way of the point and click adventure? It’s true there is an awesome amateur platform development scene out there, but damn, I long for the old days. If the Xbox, in Japan at least, can provide for the tiny shmup community, where is my fan service?

Ignore me, I moan. The DSLite provides me with my kicks still; a few excellent Castlevanias, new quirky games like Henry Hatsworth (recommended!) and others give me all the platform kicks I really need, but for what I desire, cool platformers on my telly…I still hunger.

Banjo-Kazooie and Tooie in the meantime are excellent diversions from the usual brown, bloom space marine fare, and I recommend anyone who enjoyed them the first time round to give them another go; they’re still fun! Oh, Rare…we didn’t need vehicles…just more of this, please…

11 comments:

  1. The Wii is not doing bad in the platform scene actually. Of course, its far from the golden age of platform games, but it can hold up.

    I have had quite some fun with titles such as de Blob and to lesser extent Wario Ware Shake. Other than that, I fully agree. Platformers still remain one of my favorite genres and there hasn't been nearly enough of those on the bigger consoles. I do like the handheld installments, but I would like to have some games on a... bigger scale. More games like Mario Galaxy, Jak & Daxter and so on.

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  2. Fez looks like it will be an interesting plattformer-like thing with a twist. A bit like Cave Story and Papermario and old school pixel goodness.

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  3. Have you tried Psychonauts? I haven't played it much it much and it was a long time ago. But I think it's 2D.

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  4. Psychonauts is 3D and it is pretty awesome, though criminally overlooked.
    I'm definitely looking forward to Fez!

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  5. *cough* N+ on XBLA *cough* :)

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  6. I've harped on this before but, what is a platformer to you? For me, I consider Mario and Sonic kind of the basis by which to judge. A don't personally consider Metroid or Super Metroid platformers, nor Megaman/Rockman, Turrican, etc. But I do consider Yoshi's island and Banjo.

    For me the difference is in how it feels to play which can generally be summed up as "does the player carry a gun". Those games where the player does carry a gun feel vastly different than those that don't.

    By that definition, like Metroid, Turrican, Gunstar Heros, Megaman, ... both Ratchet and Clank and Jak and Daxter are not platformers. Because the characters have guns they feel nothing like Mario/Sonic/Banjo and much more like Megaman, Contra, etc, they just happen to be cute.

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  7. What I need is another Crash Bandicoot, like the original. Beautiful game about jumping around, that.

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