Friday, December 4, 2015

Reviving the 3D Platformer

Reviving the 3D Platformer

With the announcement of Psychonauts 2, the long dormant genre of 3D mascot platformers has a pulse. Trail-blazed by Mario 64, the 3D platformer dominated the very late 90s and the early 2000s. Spearheaded by the likes of Banjo-Kazooie, Jak and Daxter, Rachet and Clank, Sly Cooper, and of course Psychonauts, the powerhouse genre eventually collapsed due to poor gameplay decisions and over-saturation. Developers began hastily shipping these games packed with too many collectibles that lead to nothing, and watered down their brands with too many sequels and bad spinoffs (see Jak X). 

Look how edgy we are, we put "X" in the title!
But hope has returned. At the Video Game Awards last night, Psychonauts creator Tim Schafer announced plans for Psychonauts 2 to be released in 2018. The game has gone to crowdfunding site Fig for investors to get the game made. In 14 hours it has already made 1.1 million of it's 3.3 million dollar goal, so it's looking like a safe bet to reach it's funding. This is good news for gamers. The old team who made Banjo-Kazooie also crowdfunded a spiritual successor to their series earlier this year, called Yooka-Laylee (see what they did there?!). Clearly there is a large group of people who still want these games and will pay to see them returned to our lives.

3D platformers bring back fond memories to those of us who grew up during this genre's renaissance. Their colorful worlds and cartoon protagonists would be a welcomed palate cleanser in a world of hyper realism and violence in most mainstream games. But please, lets go a little easier on the collectibles this time (I'm looking at you, Donkey Kong 64), and not flood the market with trash that is hastily scrapped together for a quick buck. Lately the first person shooter has seemingly been falling into this trap, with Call of Duty sales down overall, and mixed reception for Halo 5. 

Also maybe less of your terrible family... thanks
But Psychonauts 2 and Yooka-Laylee don't have to pull the weight on their own. The Sly Cooper collection was released last year to critical acclaim. The Jak and Daxter HD collection dropped a few years ago and was met with great reviews. And a Rachet and Clank movie and game remake are on the horizon in 2016, so the future is getting even brighter for this long dimly lit sector of the gaming world. I don't know about you guys, but a future where I'm jumping around with these guys again, is a future I want to live in.


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