Welcome to VideoGamer.com's Monday Morning Rant, our regular feature where one of the team gets to vent their spleen on anything that annoys them about the wonderful world of gaming. No subject, no matter how taboo, will be free from our cutting comment and vicious vitriol. Got that Monday morning feeling? Read on, and brace yourself for a wake-up call.
Anyone who grew up playing games before analogue sticks and polygons will have fond memories of 2D platformers. Before 3D graphics were possible the side-scrolling platformer was the most popular genre by some margin and it treated us to numerous classics that stand up well even today. But as we've moved from PlayStation, to PlayStation 2 and now PlayStation 3, the humble 2D platformer has become an increasingly endangered species.
Everyone knows of Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario, but do new gamers know what kind of games these mascots were appearing in before they went 3D? Sonic's best games are all 2D and nothing can beat Mario's traditional 2D outings. We've at least had some classic-style Mario on the DS in the form of New Super Mario Bros. but Sonic's Rush series on the DS isn't quite up to the standard of the games from the 90s. Why can't we get proper 2D sequels on the modern consoles?
I've recently been watching speed runs of some of the most popular 2D platformers ever released and it's amazing how well these 16-Bit games hold up today. The Disney platformers are amazingly enough responsible for some of my fondest gaming memories. Micky Mania, Castle of Illusion, Aladdin and Lion King are all great 2D platformers and somehow managed to capture the look of the cartoons despite the technical limitations of the 16-Bit consoles.
Assassin's Creed made headlines for the way you were able to move through cities like never before, but Aladdin on the Mega Drive let you swing and run through the city of Agrabah some 14 years earlier. Any game that uses cel-shading these days is seen as a visual masterpiece, but the Disney games of old felt like the actual cartoon or movie. It wasn't always the case, but these games played great too. A combination of simple controls and tricky gameplay made for brilliant games that everyone could have a stab at.
We moan about modern games being short, but even the best 2D platformers could be beaten in a few hours, yet we didn't care. We'd replay them, play with friends to get high scores, make up challenges and generally get every last ounce of enjoyment out of them as we could. These are the kind of things that would translate brilliantly to the online leaderboards offered by Xbox LIVE.
We've seen a small number of 2D platformers on modern systems, but not nearly enough and they're usually restricted to the handhelds. Klonoa 2 on the PlayStation 2 is the only platformer of note I can remember playing in years that wasn't on a handheld, with every game in the genre now being set in a 3D environment. With Xbox LIVE Arcade and the PSN surely now there is a decent platform for the 2D platformer to make a comeback, and not just in the form of re-releases. HD remakes would be nice, but imagine a brand new HD 2D Sonic platformer.
So here is my Monday morning rant: publishers, the 2D platformer is a genre millions of gamers grew up playing and it's a genre that's almost dead on home consoles. Give a new 2D platformer a try on Xbox LIVE Arcade and PSN and see what people make of it. A good 2D platformer can be played and enjoyed by everyone, so there's really no reason why the genre can't enjoy a successful comeback.
Do you want the 2D platformer to make a comeback on consoles? What are your favourite games in the genre? Let us know in the comments below.