Friday, November 5, 2010

Blog Post: No more 3D platformers?

Is anyone else noticing all the nostalgia going around the video game industry this console gen? Somewhere between the whole Sonic 4 thing and the (amazing) new trailer for Donkey Kong Country Returns (check it out: ) I'm realizing how much people have been loving the past lately, and it looks like this has started to translate into game development, especially in the platformer genre. It’s lead me to wonder if we’re witnessing the slow but sure death of the 3D platformer.

Remember when platformers were all about complete re-invention? Think back to the N64, PS1, and Dreamcast days when the genre was all about totally changing itself from its 2D setting. I think back to games like Sonic Adventure, Super Mario 64, Donkey Kong 64, Rayman 2, etc...and it's almost amazing how much their developers were willing to change them for the 3D generation.

It suddenly hit me when playing Sonic 4, which got me thinking back to the Genesis Sonic games. I can’t believe how ambitious Sonic Adventure was. Say what you want about some of the changes, but for the first time in the series, we were in true 3D, which was a huge change in and of itself. But it didn't just stop there. SonicTeam brought about new characters and several new types of gameplay, there were the exploration zones (adventure fields) that were created, which contained their own hidden secrets, and then there was the addition of cutscenes and voice acting. There was a soundtrack which included fully produced rock songs, (c’mon, you know you remember some of those tunes) the Chao gardens, which were like an entire game's almost mind-blowing how ambitious this game was. If you play Sonic and Knuckles then look at Sonic Adventure…this wasn’t just a tepid jump into 3D, this was a headfirst dive into the relatively new 3D landscape.

The same went for the the likes of Mario 64, which also switched things up in a huge way. We've had about 10 years of pure 3D gameplay, and looking at the genre now, we’re seeing New Super Mario Bros, we just got a new 2D Kirby game, we're getting a 2D Donkey Kong game, Sonic Colors will be predominently 2D, the Mario Galaxy series cut out almost all of the extra exploration, Rayman will be returning to's almost as if we're seeing all the extra stuff that was added to platformers over the past, well, decade+, being totally forgotten.

It's kind of amazing to me that a genre that seemed to change so much with the transition to 3D is now doing all it can to return to its roots, and I wonder if this is something that will carry across to the rest of the industry. I also wonder where platformers will be going in the future….will they stay in 2D, and if they do, will people begin to crave another evolution? Or are people happier with the simpler “move left and right” gameplay of a 2D platformer? Something to think about, I guess.


  1. You hate 2D games =P
    but nah.. I don't see all future platformers being 2D only. Maybe cheap companies like Nintendo will do that. I actually read somewhere that Nintendo said all future Mario Games will be like Epic Kirby

    SEGA will continue to bring us the goods :) In Shadow the Hedgehog 2 you will fly/run around a city as a vampire and attack innocent people in a GTA style open world.

    Don't know if you heard Shadow's new voice yet. but his new voice easily made me think of that idea ;)

  2. lol haven't heard his new voice yet, I wonder if I'll get to in Colors.

    Anyway nah I don't hate 2D games...I dug Muramasa on Wii. I just like 3D platformers too...and eh. It sorta worries me seeing all these platformers moving more to 2D.


    check it out XD i pretty much linked you directly to the part of shadow's voice.

    Stereotypical vampire voice, yeah? =P

  4. Ugh. Yeah that's pretty bad. I actually like a lot of the new voices, though. Just not a fan of Shadow's so far. Though Shadow's original voice took a while to grow on me, too.