I’m a big fan of platforming games, mainly because they are so unique compared to everything else on the market. More specifically, it’s the only genre I can think of that can’t be experienced in another form or fashion. For example, sports games are cool and all, but nothing is stopping you from actually doing it in the backyard. RPG games can be substituted by tabletop games, and action games can be replaced with a hardcore movie. But for platforming games, there are no substitutions or equivalent alternatives.
5. Sly Cooper And The Thievius Raccoonus
This is a game that saw the light in 2002, and even though it didn’t stand out for its originality, it did bring a different dimension to the table. Yes, you jump over pits, you have to stomp on your enemies, and you collect items for points and prizes. So, where exactly does the added dimension come in?
First of all, you follow a heist-film storyline with stealth elements and cel-shading. Secondly, the boss stages are intriguing enough to rival titles like Super Mario 64, and the voice acting is superb, to say the least. Then there is also the matter of the brilliant atmosphere of the game, and the way Sucker Punch Productions were able to make the raccoon thief so charming it couldn’t be labeled as one of those typical anthropomorphic animals. At the end of the day, the character and approach of Sly Cooper make it a top platforming game in its own right.
If you’ve never heard or played Psychonauts, nobody can blame you. It was the brainchild and creation of Tim Schafer, the same guy who is bringing the highly anticipated Brutal Legend title to gamers. And his very artistic take on this paranormal paratrooper adventure was simply ahead of its time. The visual experience is out of this world, the voice work is captivating, the level design couldn’t have been done better, and the humor is all over the place without any real purpose whatsoever.
I can’t help thinking, even though the game didn’t make waves commercially, if it was released at a later stage, and via a popular market(XBLA, WiiWare), it could’ve been a lot more popular. Sadly, it will probably never get the credit it deserves, but it didn’t deter Schafer from staying true to his natural talent. And he will be making another appearance quite soon, along with Jack Black, with the new Brutal Legend game.
Braid doesn’t make any attempt to hide its true nature. From the get-go, you are aware this game is different because it doesn’t stir laughter or any type of cuteness. Instead, it introduces you to a very somber mood, a very mature storyline that borders on clinical depression, and a level design that will probably leave you amazed for years to come. Within the 2D setting, the puzzles you are presented with aren’t like those you usually face. Where you would usually figure out what to do in less than a minute, if not less, Braid is not going to make it easy. As a matter of fact, it will likely motivate you to curse a few times before testing your patience on an extreme level.
And yet, you won’t be able to stop. No matter how difficult the puzzles are, the narrative of the story drags you in so deep, you’ll want to kill yourself before actually giving up.
Nobody can deny that the original Castlevania game was an amazing step forward in terms of the NES age, and the level of difficulty made it the most challenging in the series. With its dark atmosphere and delivery of the legend everyone knows as Dracula, it brought out the gothic side in every gamer who dared to face the notorious vampire. Naturally, the graphics after 25 years won’t leave you breathless, but the soundtrack is definitely going to stick.
1. Donkey Kong Country
If you haven’t noticed by now, this list is based on my opinion, and I firmly believe Donkey Kong Country is the mother of all platforming games. Not only is the pre-rendered 3D graphics still effective, but the soundtrack can only be matched by Super Mario Bros. To all the critics who think it is overrated, you have the right to your opinion, but it won’t count anything for MY list. So, I have no problem stating it again, DKC has ruled the platforming stage since release, and nothing has come close to beating it.
You can tell every level apart, the hidden secrets were cleverly thought out, the design was simply futuristic for its time, and it led the way for Diddy Kong into the Nintendo lexicon.