There are so many different factors that are contributing to the recent resurgence of the 3D Platformer, and the fever to jump around and collect all the dumb things is starting to catch on with more people by the day. While a return to the genre’s roots has started to trend for some, there have been a loyal few who’ve stayed devoted to 3D Platformer gameplay and the various changes it’s undergone long enough to inspire some standouts like Ratchet & Clank, or Sly Cooper, and of course, Super Mario Galaxy.
The playstyle has certainly diverged from the scavenger hunt formula, but there have definitely been a number of “purist” titles that remained true to the collecting aspect that’s so fondly remembered out of the design back in its prime. For every Super Mario Sunshine, Banjo-Kazooie, and Jak & Daxter, there were other titles that didn’t get the same kind of attention, and definitely deserve some love for what they give back to these class of titles.
Here some titles that are poised to keep that 3D platformer love going.
When not done right, a game can go a bit too far in its efforts to pay reverence to the source material that inspired it, resulting in uninspired pandering that does little to nothing to add back to the genre its attributed to. Then there are games that despite being outright love letters with their hearts adorned brazenly upon its envelope sleeve, that manages to give the genre justice it sets out to because the charm of it is too poignant to deny; Macbat 64: Journey of a Nice Chap is that game.
Starring the self-proclaimed gentleman bat with a low-poly count named Mac, the game will have you dive into several micro-sized worlds that are loaded with an assortment of challenges for you to complete in order to collect that key at the end to finish the level. The game may be more of a puzzle-based affair than the platformer than it claims to be, but there’s no shortage of love for the genre that it homages with colorful characters, whimsical environments, and fetch quests that keep the experience fun from start to finish.
Did I mention that Macbat 64 is only $5 on Steam right now? Go ahead and install it on Steam right now, I’ll wait.
This next entry may puzzle a few of you but rest-assured, Comcept’s ReCore is very much a charismatic 3D platformer at its... core. Starring a scavenger named Joule Adams, players will run around an open-world wasteland that’s filled with enemies and collectibles that Joule can gather towards her goals of obtaining the shiny prize of its adventure, the Prism Core.
Utilizing a wide color-based arsenal that’s equipped with special advantages against certain enemies of that respective color, Joule will explore numerous dungeons that hold these Prism Cores, replaying them in succession to earn new cores in order to unlock additional areas on the map that’re holding more cores.
Looking at this action-adventure from Keiji Inafune’s independent studio as a pure shooter is a bit insular when you factor in all of the character growth, collectible loot, and contextual level design that it has to offer. It may not be the most polished at times, but there have already been numerous updates and patchwork from Armature Studios to address a lot of the performance issues of the game, and the new budget minded price makes ReCore a prime contender for anyone who has 3D Platformers on the brain.
ReCore isn’t the only 3D Platformer that has repurposed mechanics from other genres; Mimimi Production’s The Last Tinker: City of Colors is a Platformer with the framework that’s inspired by the Golden age of the Nintendo 64 classics that are held in high regard with a slew of other mechanics that are borrowed from other modern action adventure titles.
Altering the formula of its level design for automated platform jumping and movement across equidistant geometry, the quest will follow the path of Koru and his floating piñata friend Tap as they journey to fight off the opaque disaster that plagues them known as the Bleakness. Featuring collectible trinkets, and new moves within a story that contains a thinly veiled commentary on institutionalized racism, the independent 3D platform utilizes much of its traversal and combat from the Assassin’s Creed and Prince of Persia franchise, giving way to interesting bits of jumping and swinging through a number of giant stages to roam.
The game may not feature all of the traditional conventions that are associated with the 3D Platformer genre, but it’s very much imbued with that same sense of spirit with quirky dialogue exchanged from a colorful cast of characters, and larger-than-life adventure that’s definitely worth checking out.
I know that Pac-Man isn’t exactly an “obscure” entity in video games by any means but he’s definitely had his fair share of spin-offs that have left the confines of his pellet-packed mazes. One of those particular excursions is a 3D Platformer that was based off of the short-lived cartoon of the Japanese gaming icon, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures.
Hopping and bopping through vibrant backdrops of Pacopolis, players will be leaping and chomping through a myriad of ghosts and challenges with the use of special Power-Up pellets that will temporarily grant our titular hero special abilities that he can use against explicit obstacles that require their use. Taking on new forms like Chameleon Pac-Man who can use his long tongue to latch onto special poles, and Ice Pac-Man who can cool wildly hot terrain, the abilities muse some of its dynamics from the Super Mario Galaxy franchise solve some of its perilous missions much like that of a 3D Platformer.
The Ghostly Adventures will have collecting pellets, food, and special fruit that will give you access the special fruits that act as an object for Sir C to expand Pac-World with new areas for the hero to take on, the game is more than an easy going abstract of its peers, and definitely deserves a look.
Okay, I know I might get some flak for this choice, but hear me out; the Xbox 360 launch title from Rare is nowhere near as awful as its reputation would suggest it is, much like I would defend Yooka-Laylee from the same short-sighted conjecture.
Kameo: Elements of Power does everything it can to evolve the trappings of the genre, often leading to the game showcasing some of its beat qualities that it has to offer, but unfortunately in its conceit, striving to be too different leads to some half-baked ideas. Notice that I said half-baked, and not broken, that’s because the game is just a little rough around the edges at worst, and endearingly charming at best. Taking on the role of ten different transformations, each form will grant the elven princess abilities that are significant to the particular puzzles that hide elemental fruits. These prized objects can be used as currency to upgrade the powers and abilities of Kameo’s forms, which will come in handy for the later more advanced puzzles that reward, you guessed it -- more elemental fruit.
The game is packaged in with Rare Replay collection on Xbox One, and its one that I think won’t get the right amount of attention that it deserves.
There are loads of 3D Platformers out there, and a lot of them are anywhere from great, to a steaming pile of poop from a butt. This particular batch of games may have been overlooked by the mainstream attention, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t more. Games like Vexx, Tak & The Power of Juju, Billy Hatcher & The Giant Egg are just some of the many gems and sleeper-hits that you can find if you’re craving another 3D Platformer that can give you all the fun scavenger hunting action that the makes these types of ventures so enjoyable.