Is Platforming Dead?

Yooka Laylee

It’s no secret that gaming has been changing and evolving ever since its inception, but it feels as if over the years the hobby of gaming has strayed very far from its humble roots.Yooka LayleeAs many of you know when gaming first moved to the forefront of our society the pool of games wasn’t exactly as immense as it is today. When old school gaming is mentioned usually 2 names come to mind, Mario and Sonic. The 8-bit side scroller was an art form that dominated the gaming industry for much of its early years, with Sega and Nintendo competing for superiority. As gaming became more and more advanced companies found it hard to develop games and hardware the way they used to eventually leading Sega to give up the console game and solely become a software developer.

This was the beginning of the end for classic platformers as games shifted into the 3 dimensional format that is expected of devs today. Despite the complications platformers thrived throughout the N64’s lifespan with now classic games such as Super Mario 64 and Banjo Kazooie. This success was a glimmer of hope that the games that built the industry would only get better as time went on, But as time went on developers proved that not everyone could handle a 3 dimensional platformer as well as some of the earliest examples. Two of the best examples that things were not working out are Capcom’s Mega Man X7 and Sega’s Sonic The Hedgehog (2006),

Both games attempted to innovate the 3 dimensional platformer by adding a plethora of new features not previously present in either franchise but it is clear in playing these games that with all the thought that went into innovation there was not enough development time to serve  these games justice. This can be accredited to trying too hard to innovate as well as publishers pushing games out that are unfinished just to make a release date. Flash forward to 2015 and the pool of platformers has become scarce aside from Nintendo re releasing the same Mario game with a few tweaks to the formula such as a new power up, and the occasional Sonic game that is actually enjoyable between all the poor releases Sega throws at us.

Then there was a glimmer of hope when Keiji Inafune who is often revered as the “father of Mega Man” began a Kickstarter campaign for his new project “Mighty No. 9”. The Kickstarter raised $3.8 million from 62,000 backers which if nothing else confirmed that there is a want in the current market for an old school platformer, but the expectations held for Mighty No. 9 were drastically too high as the game fell flat on its face from the start. Nothing about this game lived up to what fans wanted it to be especially after putting up with various delays. This was a huge blow to gamers wanting to relive the simple days of their childhood. This is not to say that the platforming genre is dead though. 2014 saw the release of Shovel Knight, which was a 2D retro side scroller that was remnant of the good ol’ days.

The game received amazing reviews from both critics and gamers alike, enough so that Yacht Club Games announced that “Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment” is coming to the Nintendo Switch. Another possible second wind for the platformer genre is another kick-starter project by the name of Yooka-Laylee. Yooka-Laylee is a platforming adventure akin to the Banjo Kazooie days and looks to offer an enjoyable experience. With a release day of April 11th, 2017 only time will tell if “Yooka-Laylee” can take the platforming genre and give it new life.

A revival of the genre doesn’t seem too far off with these games on the horizon as well as the NES Mini selling like hotcakes bringing in new fans to the genre and hopefully helping to bring back franchises that have been thought to be dead long ago. What platforming franchises would you like to see revived? Post them in the comments below.

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