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The State Of The Platform Game

Zonk posted about 8 years ago | from the no-skool-like-the-old-skool dept.


simoniker writes "Gamasutra has a rather huge article up explaining the state of the platform gaming genre, with an interesting introduction: 'Platform games used to enjoy a 15% share of the market in 1998 - and considerably more in the 16-bit era - but [has now dropped significantly]. As a consequence, marketing circles are reportedly deliberating that platform games - as a genre - are not as attractive to consumers as they once were. We believe it's not an issue of genre, but an issue of effective design principles of past being forgotten.' There follows plenty of comparisons between Sonic, Mario, Rayman, Crash, Jak, and friends! Is it time for the platformer to make a bigger comeback?"

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mmm 2d (1, Interesting)

kingkade (584184) | about 8 years ago | (#15850275)

If it aint 3d, ppl think it's from te 90s. oh well. we need more 2d platformers *using* some 3d tech and effects.

Re:mmm 2d (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15850411)

Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project was exactly that, a platformer with 3d effects. Really well done too -- and it still shows up in the $5 bin from time to time...

Re:mmm 2d (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15850984)

The best 2d-in-3d platform game I've seen to date was Klonoa: Door to Phantomile on the PS1. (Not a big PS1 fan, but Klonoa ruled, as did Einhander in the 2d-in-3d shoot'em'up field) It had 2d controls but the levels were 3d. The paths ran left and right, but curved around things, and criss-crossed each other. You could jump down from one level and land on another path at a 90-degree angle, and the camera would rotate until the new path was left-right on the screen. Secrets and such were often hidden in the background or foreground. In short, it had all the advantages of a 3d space, but kept the simpler, tighter control that you get from 2d.
  It's odd, but I've never seen another platformer that used 3d like that.

Re:mmm 2d (2, Informative)

Leiterfluid (876193) | about 8 years ago | (#15852764)

So... Super Mario Sunshine? Sly Cooper?

Those are all 3-D platformers that were loads of fun. The number of dimensions are irrelevant, it's how the game holds your interest. My complaint about the Xbox 360 is that there aren't enough platformers. With one or two exceptions, it's all about sports titles and first-person shooters.

Re:mmm 2d (1)

bigman2003 (671309) | about 8 years ago | (#15854986)

Cloning Clyde on Xbox Live Arcade is good example of where platformers are now. They're not the A-List games, but they are still being made.

I personally am not a huge platformer fan- I get frustrated by a lot of the puzzles. (Sad but true) But Cloning Clyde was a refreshing change of pace for me. It is a platformer with some pretty nice graphics and some interesting play mechanics, like turning into a chicken or a frog to get through different levels.

Both my wife and daughter said, "Oh, that looks like Mario Brothers" when they watched me play it.

Platformers aren't completely dead, but I don't think they'll make it back as one of the biggest genres in video games.

Gameboy advance (4, Informative)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | about 8 years ago | (#15850286)

I believe two Nintendo handhelds would like a word with you. Last time they checked 2D gaming was very much alive and quite popular.

Re:Gameboy advance (1)

not already in use (972294) | about 8 years ago | (#15850327)

After sitting in front of a computer for 8 hours the last thing I wanna do is put some sort of screen even closer to my face and focus on it for an extended period of time.

Re:Gameboy advance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15852267)

You don't seriously use the computer for 8 hours straight at work do you? You should consider taking regular breaks before you do any kind of damage to your health.

Re:Gameboy advance (1)

Andrew Kismet (955764) | about 8 years ago | (#15857190)

If you're holding a DS or SP/Micro anywhere near your face, you're doing it wrong. They've got backlights for a reason, y'know.

Re:Gameboy advance (1)

andrewman327 (635952) | about 8 years ago | (#15850342)

One reason for the drop in interest lately is the pending release of the next generation of consoles. They have been talked about long enough that interest has left the current generation.

Re:Gameboy advance (1)

FriedDylan (859163) | about 8 years ago | (#15850633)

You're likely right however 2D isn't why I purchased my Intel inpregnated MacBook Pro or my Alienware $4000+ gaming computer with the new Physix (or whatever) technology with 512Mb nVidia blow yer socks off graphic card. That's a little beyond Mario but a challenge for those even interested in first person shooters. Look at Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. Is it a Nintendo DS game? Naw- that would suck- its a 3D experience and with the right hardware it really rocks. Even then the physix engine was a second thought but an awesome setup (I have a Macbook Pro 2.16 Intel Core Duo with 2Gb RAM and 256Mb ATI X1600 GPU) you would be VERY happy.

Re:Gameboy advance (2, Interesting)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | about 8 years ago | (#15851676)

Look at Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. Is it a Nintendo DS game? Naw- that would suck- its a 3D experience and with the right hardware it really rocks.

I suggest you look at the difference between a movie and a game. If it's about the graphics then you should question why you're playing the game instead of one which is fun even if it looks worse.

Re:Gameboy advance (1)

bigman2003 (671309) | about 8 years ago | (#15854974)

Does awesome graphics preclude the game from being fun?

I hear that same mantra again and again on Slashdot- "graphics don't make the game fun."

But fantastic graphics can make a good game even better- and GRAW is a good example. The game is solid- fun, well balanced, good off-line and good-online.

But the graphics really send everything over the top. The game is beautiful, which makes it even more fun to play. Just as watching a movie on 70mm film is a much more enjoyable than the same on Super-8.

I don't think anyone needs to 'question why they're playing a game' just because they enjoy the graphics. The graphics are an important piece of the entire puzzle. Good graphics make the game better- great graphics push it up even further.

Part of this Complete Breakfast (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | about 8 years ago | (#15855355)

I agree completely.
Too often people go on and on about how graphics don't matter and gameplay is the only thing that should matter. Get over yourself. Graphics can be just as important as gameplay. I enjoy classic 2D gaming I also enjoy cutting-edge 3D gaming, I'll go from Project Gotham Racing 3 over to Street Fighter 2 without hesitation.. however graphics can make or break a game just as much as gameplay can. A game that looks amazing but has poor gamplay will have me put it down after a few minutes from boredom or frustration. A game that has unique and intuitive gameplay but has crappy graphics will also have me put it down after a couple of minutes because it's distracting.

It's part of the total package. Saying graphics don't matter at all is like saying you only associate with people who have a great personality... or you completely disregard the way a car looks and buy it purely on it's own merits. Lets be honest, graphics are usually what will get you in the door/cause you to approach someone new/take a trip to the dealership.

If you saw someone hideously deformed going down the street, you wouldn't know if they had a great personality unless you went out of your way to get to know them. And even if you did get to know them some people would still find it hard to carry one a conversation when the person in front of them only has half a face, festering skin and a club ear etc... it doesn't make you shallow it just means you have trouble stomaching hideous deformities.

Graphics are part of the complete package, when someone says they don't buy games with bad graphics usually they mean they don't bother to play games that are hideously deformed... because it takes away from the gaming experience as a whole.

Re:Gameboy advance (1)

hal2814 (725639) | about 8 years ago | (#15851803)

You do know that playing a 2d platformer on said machine doesn't prevent you from also playing the Ghost Recon game? I hope you're not using the web bowser on your $4000 whizbang device. The machine is a little byeond IE or Firefox.

Console not PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15854765)

You're likely right however 2D isn't why I purchased my Intel inpregnated MacBook Pro or my Alienware $4000+ gaming computer with the new Physix (or whatever) technology with 512Mb nVidia blow yer socks off graphic card. That's a little beyond Mario but a challenge for those even interested in first person shooters. Look at Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. Is it a Nintendo DS game? Naw- that would suck- its a 3D experience and with the right hardware it really rocks. Even then the physix engine was a second thought but an awesome setup (I have a Macbook Pro 2.16 Intel Core Duo with 2Gb RAM and 256Mb ATI X1600 GPU) you would be VERY happy.

I think it was kind of implied that we weren't talking so much about 'PC' gaming as much as console gaming. Did you look at the article for the examples they talked about? Mario, Rayman, Sonic, Dax, Crash. These are all primarily console creatures. I don't agree with your argument but even if it were valid. The whole argument doesn't play to us console players. We're all on the same specs but the platformer is notoriously absent.

The Wolfkin

Re:Gameboy advance (1)

scum-e-bag (211846) | about 8 years ago | (#15851770)

I still enjoy a quick retro game on my GBA, my PSP and its ability to emulate the GBA takes pride of place now. Why would I even bother to carry around several handhelds when I can fit a whole pile of them on my memory stick and emulate them. Both the PSP and the DS hand held consoles are sounding the end of 2D. They both play 2D, however, they also do 3D exceptionally well for a small unit.

2D has had its day and will only survive as a retro genre mostly through emulators. All the good 2D games, and/or their clones, can be played for free on an emu. Gameplay design has reached its peak as far as 2D goes. There would need to be a revolution in game design for 2D to become as popular as it once was. The days of commercial 2D games has almost come to an end with the PSP and the DS now entering the 3D world. The differences between 2D games and 3D games is analagous to pinball machines and all those namco coin-op computer games.

With the next gen of handhelds we are going to see the merging of many technologies. Just as a softmodded xbox with "xbox media center" gave us a glimpse into the future of home entertainment system, so to the PSP homebrew scene is a glimpse of what is to come... the merging of mp3, avi, games, translators, PDAs, etc... This merger of technology has already been foretold by the new player in the industry, shudder, microsoft with its yet to be seen argo.

Re:Gameboy advance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15858069)

Gameplay design has reached its peak as far as 2D goes.

"Platform games are dead" - computer and video games magazine, circa 1986. :-)

Re:Gameboy advance (1)

TrekCycling (468080) | about 8 years ago | (#15851935)

Indeed. Kirby: Canvas Curse for the DS is one of the most enjoyable platformers ever. And that's just the DS.

Remember the old days? (2, Insightful)

starwed (735423) | about 8 years ago | (#15850300)

From what I remember, most of those platformers were licensed dreck. (Anyone ever played the Barbie game for NES? ^_^)

Re:Remember the old days? (1)

DesireCampbell (923687) | about 8 years ago | (#15850409)

Yes, and I weep at the thought...

Re:Remember the old days? (1)

mikeisme77 (938209) | about 8 years ago | (#15851059)

Cool Spot for Genesis and other systems was a platformer AND a blatant advertisement through licensing of the "7UP Spot" but there isn't anybody who can convince me it wasn't at least a decent game. It did well enough to earn itself at least one sequel, if not more... I'm not saying it was the best game ever, but it was at least fun at the time.

Re:Remember the old days? (1)

elmCitySlim (957476) | about 8 years ago | (#15852082)

YES!!! I bought that for my sister when we were kids (by bought, my mom took me to Toys 'R Us and told me to pick out something for my sister for her birthday. Even then I was a geek). It was too hard for her (because teh controls were so weak), so she aske dme to beat it for her as she watched. It took a few hours.

Oh no, now we have more diversity! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15850319)

Save us!

Wow (3, Informative)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | about 8 years ago | (#15850326)

I know we get some poorly displayed articles on Slashdot but this takes the cake.

(Page 1/31)

Why the hell do I have to go through 31 pages when each page doesn't even display a full browser windows worth of context? We have mouse wheels in 2006, lets use them for more than skipping banner adds and FPS weapon changes.

Re:Wow (1)

radarsat1 (786772) | about 8 years ago | (#15852326)

I've always thought it should be possible to write a script that would take the text from multi-page articles and just dump them into one page. I guess it would have to be site-specific though, which is unfortunate... oh well, yet one more thing I don't have time for. :)

Re:Wow (1)

Masami Eiri (617825) | about 8 years ago | (#15858638)

Check out Re-Pagination for Firefox.

Re:Wow (1)

BTWR (540147) | about 8 years ago | (#15852946)

31 ad impressions... :)

The problem is 2D control. (1)

Khakionion (544166) | about 8 years ago | (#15850345)

At least, for me, all 3D platformers are steaming piles, no matter how beautiful/whatever they are, because no compelling control interface exists. Even with an analog stick, you're using a 2D control scheme for 3D movement.

That's why Mario 3 kicks Super Mario 64's ass all the way up and down the block.

But I'm not biased, I swear. ;)

Re:The problem is 2D control. (1)

jpardey (569633) | about 8 years ago | (#15850430)

Without the use of jumping/climbing/etc, how often do you travel in 3d in your daily life? Airplanes use "2d" controls. Cars use "2d" controls. In a game, if I have keys to jump, crouch, walk sideways, and climb I am happy. Control stick for walking and one for aiming/turning and I am really happy.

Then again, I might be biased, I didn't really start playing video games until 2000 or 2001. Ahhh, Half-Life 1 and BZFlag...

Re:The problem is 2D control. (2, Funny)

aichpvee (631243) | about 8 years ago | (#15851352)

Why do you even need the second stick for aiming/turning? How often do most people side-step in their daily lives? I can't remember the last time I saw someone circling strafing around a corner at the super market, can you?

Re:The problem is 2D control. (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 8 years ago | (#15854323)

I can't remember the last time I saw someone circling strafing around a corner at the super market, can you?

aside from myself, no

Re:The problem is 2D control. (5, Insightful)

dosboot (973832) | about 8 years ago | (#15850461)

I agree. I've argued many times that there are things that 2D can do that 3D can't. It's much harder to make a fun 3d platformer because you can't expect the player to have things we take for granted in 2d games. What 2d games have that 3d don't is precision (i.e. moving, jumping and landing with near pixel perfect accuracy) and clear perspective (the enemy, and hence his attacks, are frequently not in view to the player in a 3d games). When you can't expect the player to have precision and situational awareness things end up being more boring.

I can't help but zero in on this part of the article:

"The real problem was the language barrier and a lack of understanding each other's creative goals. When I would pitch say, a 'platform shooter with racing bits inbetween levels, set in space', they told me it was unmarketable. There was no hook for them. For me, I was imagining the potential fun aspect, but for them, it was about trying to find something sexy or 'MTV" within the concept they could sell to a shop. Fair enough."

Any gamer or half decent developer thinks of video games in terms of their gameplay, and thus thinks in terms of controls. Marketers and publishers don't know anything about videogames. They think we play video games to literally play as the characters, not for the underlying gamey elements.

Re:The problem is 2D control. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 8 years ago | (#15851118)

What 2d games have that 3d don't is precision (i.e. moving, jumping and landing with near pixel perfect accuracy)

Got me there. Now we actually have to use real-world measurements, like centemeters. Per-centemeter accuracy is something you often can achieve in a 3D world.

and clear perspective (the enemy, and hence his attacks, are frequently not in view to the player in a 3d games).

Then the camera sucks. That's not a problem of 3D, it's a problem with a specific game. Would you claim all 2D games have the same problem if the attacks were always from offscreen?

Every game has good moments and bad ones, and no one gets it perfect all the time. Still, the camera doesn't usually suck for me in most platform games I've played lately, especially if you know how to control it (and actually can control it).

"When I would pitch say, a 'platform shooter with racing bits inbetween levels, set in space', they told me it was unmarketable."

Any gamer or half decent developer thinks of video games in terms of their gameplay, and thus thinks in terms of controls.

Some of us think about plot, also. The best games have enough of both. If I just wanted gameplay, I'd play Tetris. If I just wanted varied gameplay, I'd play Neverball. If I just wanted plot, I'd watch a movie. If I just wanted (somewhat) interactive plot, I'd read a Choose Your Own Adventure book.

You need some of both. And you can't just market the gameplay, unless we're talking about something revolutionary, like the Wii. You have to market plot and graphics, and maybe physics. But how would you market gameplay?

And you do need marketing. Marketing pays the bills. Paying the bills pays for more good games.

Re:The problem is 2D control. (1)

Suddenly_Dead (656421) | about 8 years ago | (#15851196)

Some of us think about plot, also. The best games have enough of both. If I just wanted gameplay, I'd play Tetris. If I just wanted varied gameplay, I'd play Neverball. If I just wanted plot, I'd watch a movie. If I just wanted (somewhat) interactive plot, I'd read a Choose Your Own Adventure book.

Yes, some games focus on story more than gameplay. So what? Why bring Tetris into it, of all things?

Do you know how many games I've played and enjoyed which had either no plot or one that is incredibly easy to disregard? Tribes, Super Smash Brothers, Pikmin, Battlefield games, Flight Simulators of any sort, most RTSs, most any game with "Mario" on it, any racing game, and many many more. How many of those were marketed on the plot?

Re:The problem is 2D control. (3, Interesting)

grumbel (592662) | about 8 years ago | (#15852983)

Then the camera sucks. That's not a problem of 3D, it's a problem with a specific game.
The fundamental problem is that you can't represent a 3D image on a 2D screen without loss of information. If you have a gap infront of you and a block further away it is impossible in a 3D game to tell exactly how far away it is, the only way to get the distance is by guessing. Simple example, how far do you guess are those blocks [] away from each other. Aproximatly 2 block sizes you might guess? Close, but totally wrong, lets enable shadows [] and look from it from another perspective [] . Woops, its actually a smaller block on the left and in the air, not an equally sized infront of the player. Now, this is an artificial example, but such situations happen all the time in 3D games, restrictive level design (don't just change platform sizes without giving clear hints, limit jumping puzzles to a streight line whereever possible, etc.) and a player controlled camera can help a bit, but it can't make the problem go away. Same is true for enemies, if you have an enemy infront of you the camera might be able to give a clear view, but if you have one behind you, one infront, one on your left and one on your right, the camera has a problem. Often you will also have plenty of level geometry inbetween you and the camera. Again there are solutions which will lessen the problem, but you can't make it go away completly. In 2D on the other side its very simply, the most complicated thing you might ever need is to zoom out, but beside from that everything is always in crystal clear view, no obscuring, no perspectivic problems, nothing, every distance can be messured down to the exact pixel count, in 3D that is simply not possible with a camera that stays attached to the player.

We need more platformers like Viewtiful Joe. (1)

Ayanami Rei (621112) | about 8 years ago | (#15853778)

2d "side scrolling" but really 3d. More like 3d with 2d orientation rails. And you can always provide path independance by allowing branching and foreground/background splits and stuff.

Now I want to go play Viewtiful Joe again. If only it wasn't so friggin hard!

Re:The problem is 2D control. (1)

aichpvee (631243) | about 8 years ago | (#15851360)

When I would pitch say, a 'platform shooter with racing bits inbetween levels, set in space', they told me it was unmarketable.

What was he pitching it to? Sounds a lot like Ratchet & Clank, and those games are not only excellent, but pretty big sellers.

Re:The problem is 2D control. (1)

kn0tw0rk (773805) | about 8 years ago | (#15857108)

I concur that Ratchet and Clank are great. And they are 3d platforms mixed with combat. Having played all but the first one of the series, I'd say that they each had good stories, lots of fun levels and interesting diversions with various vehicle combat. The thing was that interesting in some levels was the ability to walking up a wall onto the ceiling, or the small moons/asteroid levels where you got to jump around in low gravity, which made the experience much more refreshing from a regular 2d platformer.

And I recommend the remake of head over heels to download for your pc, which updates the gfx and sound from the original versions.

Re:The problem is 2D control. (3, Interesting)

donscarletti (569232) | about 8 years ago | (#15850591)

Play a new Prince of Persia game. The original PoP revolutionised 2d platformers, taking them from something blocky and cartoonish to something dynamic with weight. Sands of Time did the same thing. It's dynamic, it's fluid, it's exciting, challenging, intuitive and immeasurably fun. The added complexity of the 3d levels allows an element of thinking, calculation and perception that was never the genre's strong point. The controls are the best feature. Move around with your arrow keys or stick, look about with your mouse or other stick, jump or roll with space (it always knows what you want), run on walls, grab stuff, swing, interact, whatever with right mouse button and unsheath/swing your sword with your left button. Just 5 controls and you can do anything you want.

Unless someone has played SOT/WW/TT they have no right to talk about any platformer because they lack context, unless they have played Ico of course, but what's the chances of that?

Re:The problem is 2D control. (1)

jensen404 (717086) | about 8 years ago | (#15850820)

I own the Sands of Time game (I think it came with a video card). I stopped playing very early on. I found it boring because there is only one sequence of moves that can get you through the platforming portion of each level.

In Mario 64, you can chose your own path through all of the levels (Even some of the more linear ones, such as the Bowser levels, give you some choice). You also get a quite large variety of moves, and you can use the ones you are most comfortable with.

Re:The problem is 2D control. (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | about 8 years ago | (#15851966)

Ah, the great innovations of Sands of Time are two:

1. You are mostly platforming in 2D despite the 3D environment. It rotates somewhat, but the way it works is walls and narrow ledges. In other words, your 3D polygonal character is restricted by elements of the 3D environment, most of the time, to 2D movement. Now, this isn't 100%, but much of the game works this way.

2. If that's not enough, you can rewind your death so that if you make a catastrophic mistake, you don't die.

I still like Super Mario Brothers 3 better, though. Oh, and Aria of Sorrow. Oh, and the Prince of Persia they made for the Super Nintendo....

Re:The problem is 2D control. (1)

Hast (24833) | about 8 years ago | (#15856446)

I agree with your second part (being able to rewind if you die makes it possible to "experiment" with solutions to the jumping puzzles.

I don't agree with your first point. Simply becuase *any* movement in 3D can be mapped on a "2d projection" of the 3d world. Your argument would mean that going in a hallway is 2D since most of your movement is limited by walls and roof. Actually that would make it 1D when I think about it.

IMHO POP:SOT had plenty of 3D puzzles. A lot of the time you had to move up and down as well as side and depth to solve a puzzle. (IIRC there were a bunch of such jumping between pillars puzzles.)

Many of the rooms were also of the type. "Ok I need to get to that item. How can I jump around in the room in order to reach it?"

The problem is 2D television. (1)

yeolcoatl (967780) | about 8 years ago | (#15850831)

I maintain that the problem is not the controls, but the screen. On a 2D televsion screen, there is no true depth perception. Judging 3d distances becomes a lot more difficult without binocular vision, and most of platforming is judging distances. In 2D platforming, depth doesn't play a role, so judging distance is much easier. Personally, I want to see a 3d platformer that uses Red & Blue glasses. Red & Blue glasses are cool.

Re:The problem is 2D television. (1)

Theaus (993406) | about 8 years ago | (#15852455)

I've found that 3D platformers that use shadows while jumping help mitigate that factor. One game to utilize such was the, in my opinion much maligned Jedi Power battles. Especially if you had a friend to play with. It, also like sands of time blending it's 3D world into smaller 2D enivironment, And while its' conbat is fun the jumps can be very difficult. And I found that new players would often find the jumps far deadlier than the foes. And in a game with shared lives that that need to be carefully conserved to actually finish the game. Watching Jedi jump off of cliffs like lemmings (I know that's just a myth, Disney pushed those animals off a cliff for that film) die, respawn, jump and die again. Just saying, Shadows...they save lives.

Re:The problem is 2D television. (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 8 years ago | (#15854328)

go buy (or download) 3d world runner for NES, it used red/blue glasses to make a three diemensional world if you press select to switch views, i think it also had a 'cross your eyes' mode

"3D" isn't and 2D is really 1D (1)

Asmor (775910) | about 8 years ago | (#15853593)

There's nothing wrong with using an analog stick to control movement in "3d" space, since you're usually only moving along two dimensions, with a jump button to access the third.

Old school platformers are really 1-dimensional. All you go is left and right, gimmick levels aside. You're really only using the d-pad to go left and right.

Look to the past... (3, Funny)

jamestheprogrammer (932405) | about 8 years ago | (#15850370)

Another truism however, is that if online reports are correct, not a single game - of any genre - has sold as much as Super Mario Bros 3. Being that we're in an industry which is largely built on forward thinking, it may be productive to look to the past for lessons in improving the present and future of games - and this includes looking in classic game designs and ideas.
Good idea! Now, let's take Super Mario, who sold well, and combine him with a gun, which also sold really well, and what do we get? MEGA SALES! MUAHAHAHAHAHA! ...I believe there is a Flash game somewhat like that somewhere.

Re:Look to the past... (2, Insightful)

justchris (802302) | about 8 years ago | (#15850995)

I know you're trying to make a joke, but I'm willing to bet you that a game of Mario Paintball with all the Mario characters, would easily outsell Halo 3.

Pinball??! (1)

steveo777 (183629) | about 8 years ago | (#15859968)

Okay, I've never enjoyed a pinball game on a console, but I've always been fond of it in the arcade. I've played my share of pinball games. But none recently, because I've never played a console pinball game that I've enjoyed.

Can you, or anyone else, explain why pinball would sell?

No, not Pinball. (1)

justchris (802302) | about 8 years ago | (#15863057)

It wouldn't. Which is fine, because I did not type Pinball, I typed Paintball. You know, Mario & friends (& enemies) shooting little balls of paint at each other. No one dies, so they can give it a (T)een rating, but you still get to run around and shoot people. And, being a Mario title, much like their Mario sports titles, each character is guaranteed to have a special "trick shot". It sounds silly as all get out, but I guarantee you it would break sales records.

Shadow The Hedgehog (1)

Intellectual Elitist (706889) | about 8 years ago | (#15855867)

> Good idea! Now, let's take Super Mario, who sold well, and combine him with a gun, which also sold really well, and what do we get? MEGA SALES! MUAHAHAHAHAHA!

I know you're joking, but Sega actually tried this already with Shadow The Hedgehog [] . It was both a critical and commercial failure.

Stinkoman (4, Funny)

Dadoo (899435) | about 8 years ago | (#15850384)

As far as I'm concerned, Stinkoman has the market on platformers cornered. :-)

Re:Stinkoman (1)

FriendOfBagu (770778) | about 8 years ago | (#15852010)

For those unfamiliar (and have Flash 7+): Stinkoman 20X6! []

Fun little game with a great sense of humor.

Platform Games aren't dead yet.... (1)

shakezula (842399) | about 8 years ago | (#15850426)

Aside from the afformentioned GBA/DS titles, there's been a few good releases on XBox like "Battle for Bikini Bottom" and "Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure" and to a lesser extent, "Pac World III." The downside is that for every creative and kitchy fun platform game, there are 4 crappy cookie cutter games to crowd the market space.

They Still Exist (4, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | about 8 years ago | (#15850458)

Platformers are still quite alive. 3 of the best platformers ever made were made in the last few years: the Sly Cooper series. On the GBA there was Drill Dozer by Game Freak last year, which was also quite fun. Nintendo is currently working on a sequel to Yoshi's Island (which same rate better than Super Mario World, both being amazing games). While Super Mario Sunshine was no Mario 64, it was still fun and had some moments of ingenious platforming (like the tighrope walks).

The difference is that platfomers aren't the "in" thing anymore. In the 16 bit era, if you made a game you made a platformer. That stayed true for a little while in the 32 bit era (Crash, Croc, Gex 3D, etc) but it faded as other kinds of games became the new "in" game. Right now, it seems to be a combination of FPSes and WW II games.

Re:They Still Exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15861241)

Okay, when are we going to see the mascot WWII games? I might be in for a bit of Super Mario D-Day.

(No, Conker doesn't count. Partly because it's crap.)

First Person (1)

EnsilZah (575600) | about 8 years ago | (#15850460)

I think all game genres are evolving (or devolving) to the 'First Person *'.
I think it's mostly because back in the day you didn't have the technology to make a realistic looking enviroment, so you adopted a mechanism that communicated whatever was most importat to you.
Now graphics are pretty close to photorealistic, look at Crysis for example.
With near-photorealistic graphics you have the simple goal of making things look cool and you don't have to do something as risky as innovate and try creating a new kind of world.

Re:First Person (1)

SkunkPussy (85271) | about 8 years ago | (#15852236)

"Now graphics are pretty close to photorealistic"

why do people keep saying that games are near photrealistic? They're clearly not!! not even oblivion which probably cant be fully rendered on 95% of current systems looks very convincing. To be honest I wouldn't even say it approached the final fantasy film in terms of photorealism (and final fantasy wouldn't fool many people).

When you look at screenshots of unreleased games they always show the most favourable ones. People were making a fuss about Gotham City Racing or whatever it was on Xbox 360. Saying it was photorealistic. Yeah it looked nice, but photorealistic - far from it! There were some nice graphics but the crowds were no better than any other game!

Hollywood, with all its vast resources, can just about make photorealistic effects most of the time. so some poxy little £200-300 console or graphics card doesn't stand a chance!

Re:First Person (1)

EnsilZah (575600) | about 8 years ago | (#15852290)

Here, take a look at this: e=mov&pl=game []
And i've seen an actual gameplay video from a game convention, so this is not just some prerendered hype generator, this is actual gameplay.
The enviroment looks pretty close to real to me...

Urgh. (1)

Ayanami Rei (621112) | about 8 years ago | (#15853784)

Wake me when they make a real game from that engine, not a movie simulator.

Re:First Person (1)

grumbel (592662) | about 8 years ago | (#15854320)

why do people keep saying that games are near photrealistic?

Because we are pretty close to photorealism, just look at this (GT on PS2) [] or that (Crysis) [] . Its not quite photorealism, but already pretty close and those are games either already out or to come out in a few month, a late PS3 game or XBox360 game might look quite a bit better, not even mentioning what PS4 or XBox720 will be capable of. However this is just photorealism, as in non-moving images, where the realism falls apart is soon as you add motion into the mix. The reason that Oblivion didn't really look as good as it was supposed to wasn't the rendering, but the character animation and unrealistic physic engine, you don't want stuff to slide on the ground and enemy just falling to ground with a generic die animation, completly ignoring the sword hit you have them, things just don't work like that in real life. Neither does a car get a scratch in the paint when you drive it with 200mph against a wall. In many first person shooters the player doesn't even use his arms to climb a ladder. Its all stuff like that were even the most realistic graphics fall completly apart. Now I don't know if those physics and animation problems will be solve to a reasonable degree in this console generation or in the next, but in terms of pure rendering photo realism is really quite close and Final Fantasy movie quality rendering is something I definitvly expect in this console generation.

That said there are of course also effects that are not do able in realtime and probally won't for quite a while, like caustics for example, however since most of them can be faked, aproximated or simply avoided it will probally make little difference to the realism of realtime rendering.

Re:First Person (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | about 8 years ago | (#15857418)

Now I don't know if those physics and animation problems will be solve to a reasonable degree in this console generation or in the next

Re:First Person (1)

grumbel (592662) | about 8 years ago | (#15859347)

Half-Life 2 is the "problem", not the "solution", there is nothing in Half-Life 2 that behaves remotly realistic. It might be closer to real physic behaviour then a MarioBros, but really not that much, weight, speed and other parameters for example are still totally wrong and gravity gun doesn't really help to make the scene any more believable. Destructive environments are also almost non existant and stuff life that. The physics in Half-Life 2 make some interesting new gameplay, but add little to nothing to the realism. As a worst case scenario just look at some speed runs of Half-Life 2 and try to replicate that movement in reality, just won't work, humans simply don't move that way.

Re:First Person (1)

Grab (126025) | about 8 years ago | (#15858122)

Trouble is that these are still well inside the Uncanny Valley. You may not consciously see that all the grasses and trees are clones of each other, but subconsciously you see it's *wrong* because of that. SW Ep1 suffered badly from this, and Ep2 wasn't much better.

Admittedly, we're probably starting on the up-slope of the far side of Uncanny Valley. Trouble is that the down-slope started with games like Kung Fu Master, where there were obvious attempts at realism but things just didn't move right. Assuming equivalent levels of progress, then maybe another 20 years...


Re:First Person (1)

grumbel (592662) | about 8 years ago | (#15859484)

Assuming equivalent levels of progress, then maybe another 20 years...
Quite possible, the thing is just being able to render one scenerio in a almost photo realistic fashion, doesn't mean that you are able to render everything in photo realistic fashion. Doing some rendering of one human in-door is a different beast then rendering an army of thousands of soldiers in a gigantic landscape, doing the first one in a "close to Final Fantasy look" should be quite doable in this generation, doing the second might easily take another console generation or two. There are of course other issues, like something that looks photorealistic from a meter away, might not look all that realistic if you move really really close and fixing that might again need a lot of time and additional CPU power, since it requires switching from photo textures to procedural stuff. So yeah, in the end, getting really really close to reality might take 20 years, but in limited normal gameplay (ie. normal distance from objects, instead of poking the nose into the wall) situation I expect almost photorealism quite a bit earlier.

dead??? (4, Interesting)

Nossie (753694) | about 8 years ago | (#15850541)

I think you just need to see the review of 'new super mario bros' to see the 'state' of what platformers could be.... The sad truth of the matter is that 2D in general costs more due to animated frames and artists having to put their magical touch to the games.... but I dont believe they are dead, unpopular and crap as a whole. []

Admittedly NSMB is partly 3D, but I believe that this game still shares the same foundations and roots as a 'true' platformer. I think developers these days just havent got it into their head that it doesnt matter how many more polygons at an object you cant add gameplay with pretty graphics.

Re:dead??? (1)

7Prime (871679) | about 8 years ago | (#15853025)

Smash Bros. Melee is basically a 2D platformer fighting game. The movement control systems stem directly from platformer: running, jumping many times your height, with ledges and "platforms" to land on. The action stems, more-or-less, from a Street Fighter style fighting game (without the combos). It's the most popular game on the GCN, and quite possibly the most anticipated title on the Wii. Sure, the graphics are 100% 3D, but who cares? The result is a great 2D platformer/fighter hybrid. I think games like this, Viewtiful Joe, New Super Mario Bros., and the like will become the future of 2D gaming: 3D graphics that are used to create side-scrollers. I think this technique is only just starting to be realized, and I think will only grow and mature in the coming years. Thank you Nintendo DS! -- Eric

2D worlds: less to render, better looking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15850597)

This is one reason why 3D fighting games always look awesome because there is not as much stuff to render as a full fledged FPS. Has anyone thought to exploit this with a recent and powerful engine say Doom 3 or perhaps even Crysis?

It's all about the Ds (4, Insightful)

Teach (29386) | about 8 years ago | (#15850599)

I can explain the problem in two characters: 3D.

When it was still okay for games to be 2D, then platformers were super common. Jumping about in a 2D platformer is pretty trivial, and such games are fun. The past decade (ever since Mario 64, really), most games are in 3D. Jumping about in a 3D platformer is not trivial, and even usually frustrating. So developers have to decide between making a 2D platformer: and risk looking technologically out-of-date, or making a 3D platformer that just isn't as fun to play.

Google for 'hell is full of jumping puzzles' for a related perspective.

Now, I'm not going to say that it's impossible to do 3D platformers right. Obviously there are a few out there that really pull it off. But the majority do not, in my opinion.

Re:It's all about the Ds (1)

mshurpik (198339) | about 8 years ago | (#15850857)

>Obviously there are a few out there that really pull it off. But the majority do not, in my opinion.

Yep. With Mario64, you had complete control over the camera, which means you could line up your jump precisely if you needed to. And if not, you could make yourself feel like a hero by jumping off-angle.

Then they decided that controlling the camera was too hard for us stupid, 19-year-old CS majors, so every game since then, on every 3D platform, camera control was totally dropped. Now you have to wait for the camera to lazily float into the right position, if it does, and forget zooming, looking to the side, or behind. This is a massive, immersive 3D world, why would you want to look around??

There might be a couple of exceptions, and I certainly hope so. But dropping camera control within 1 year of its being invented is something I clearly remember. And it's also the point when console games jumped the shark.

FPS games? Whale jumping, for sure.

Re:It's all about the Ds (1)

7Prime (871679) | about 8 years ago | (#15853159)

Yep. With Mario64, you had complete control over the camera, which means you could line up your jump precisely if you needed to.

...and then it would needlessly swivel around the moment you pressed a control button. Sorry, but no. You could position the camera while standing still MOST OF THE TIME, but the camera really had a mind of its own when you tried to move. I'm playing Mario 64 DS right now, and I'm noticing it again, and more than ever. The most obvious example is the falling bridge in the "Womp's Fortress" level. Sure, it's not the hardest thing in the world, but it illustrates my point quite well. You can spend all the time in the world lining the camera up perfectly behind you, but then you start running across the bridge, and the camera smoothly swivels around to your side during the bridge run, requiring you to move your thumb over on the A-Stick at precisely the same rate and time as the camera movement. This is not okay. Fortunately, that little bridge part is not too hard, the path is wide enough for some inconsistancy, and usually causes little headache. But later, especially in some of the Bowser levels, there are similar puzzles that are now far more difficult and far more of a headache to clear because of camera swiveling.

Also, while it was a fun idea and cameo to make Lakatu the "floating cameraman", they also forced themselves to treat the camera as an object, which could be hindered by walls and various obsticals. This sometimes became a real pain when you needed to line the camera up behind you if you're standing with your back to the wall. Some games I've played get around this by simply making walls transparent or mostly translucent if the camera moves behind them, thus allowing un-hindered 360 degree camera movement.

It really boils down to the purpose and the advantages of 3rd person views over first person views. In first person view, you are faced with a very small tunnel-vision perspective of any given scene, you have no paripheral vision, you're viewing angle is limited to about 45 degrees even though the human eye sees about 170 degrees including paripheral vision. Some games have tried to fake larger viewing angles with screen warping, but this usually causes the graphics to be extremely distorted, and since you're still only watching a screen that may take up 30 degrees of your vision, it's extremely unrealistic and jaring. The 3rd person view is a quick and easy (well, sort of) way of fixing some of this problem, by pulling back you can have a lot larger field of vision, and for control, you can see the feet of the character, so as to be able to (supposedly) make fine motor adjustments to be able to jump and land precisely. In real life, if I was to jump from platform to platform, I would subconciously move my concentration to my pariphery, where I could actually see my foot position, and be able to land precisely where I want to, in a first person game, I can't do that, so this is where 3rd person view actually becomes MORE realistic, and more like real-life control. The problem is, 3rd person has a floating camera, and you must act as videographer as well as game player, to be able to be able to control your character correctly. Most games try to ease this job by trying to predict what the best camera position is at a given time and let you relinquish some of the control, other's require you to act as videographer 100% of the time, while others give you no camera control, and require you to put your trust in the game's decision of what the "best" camera angle is, all the time. Mario 64 does a balancing act between these two extremes. And, most of the time, it does a decent job, but there is still something missing in the camera control, and it still has its faults.

Interestingly, I've found that platformer with the most precise movement to be an FPAdventure: Metroid Prime. Even though you can't see my feet, you quickly adjust to you're feet being about 3 feet "in front of" the screen, and are able to make pretty precise movements. It still has the added problem of not being able to see more that 40 degrees in front of you at one time, but it also has the advantage of not having to look at a futurisitic, robotic looking character (no offense to Samus), amidst the atmospheric, primative natural envirnoment, all the time. I used to be completely sold on the idea of the 3rd person platformer, as apposed to the first person shooter. But I have found this to be more due to my bias against shooter-type games, as apposed to platformers and adventures (of which dominate the 3rd person genre). 3rd Person Action/Adventure games, like Zelda, which don't revolve around precise jumping techniques, tend to work better than platformers, but I'm starting to think that the FP Platformer is the way to go if you don't want to be constantly fighting with the camera.

Re:It's all about the Ds (1)

mshurpik (198339) | about 8 years ago | (#15854783)

Thanks for the reply. I haven't played Metroid Prime, and while I remember what you're saying about the Mario64 camera, it wasn't a huge problem for me. By the time I played Mario a few times through, I could jump in any direction regardless of the camera. And I was still hungry for more.

Mario was unique because it emphasized the 3D environment. You were like a cat, crawling through every nook and cranny. After games reverted to a fixed camera, they became more linear (Banjo Kazooie, and One for psx come to mind). So instead of exploring your world, you were back to running through a maze to the boss.

My opinion is that FPS games would be great, if you could zoom out and see all of the characters, so you could coordinate your team's movements. And to make up for the camera distance, aiming would be de-emphasized and basically automatic.

That's an RTS ;)

Re:It's all about the Ds (1)

G-funk (22712) | about 8 years ago | (#15851859)

Close, my friend. It's not all about the Ds, It's all about the DS. The platform game is doing just fine [] .

Re:It's all about the Ds (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 8 years ago | (#15851864)

I think Crash Bandicoot counts as one, and I thought it was pretty tough. That and similar games had very crude controls where I didn't have accurate control. Side-stepping takes several tries because it was tough to make a very small step with a quick button press, the analog sticks have a big dead spot and once out of the dead spot, it changes the controlled angle a lot. So all the fiddling and retries just to make one difficult jump is a pain, I gave up.

But really, I'm kind of sensitive to drawbacks of the controllers and poor game control and physics. I mean, I played a racing game where I was driving a Mini Cooper at 45mph around a very broad curve and it was sliding like mad! The real car wouldn't have done that.

Re:It's all about the Ds (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | about 8 years ago | (#15852293)

They don't have to make 2D platformers look out of date. There are plenty of sweet raster effects used in the PC demo scene that didn't make their way into many (if any) games. The developer also has the ability to make a 3D side scrolling game, using all kinds of pixel shader effects. Imagine highly detailed 1080p side-scrollers, this is entirely possible, and would look great. I'll bet if the next console installment of Castlevania were to be 2D, it would kickstart a new generation of successful platformers.

Re:It's all about the Ds (4, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 8 years ago | (#15852306)

Jumping about in a 3D platformer is not trivial, and even usually frustrating.

Amen. I will never forget my first real foray into a fully 3d platformer, analog stick and all. it was MediEvil for the playstation, bought with the then brand new dual shock controller.

I loved that game. I still think its one of the best that the playstation has to offer. But I completely sucked at any jumping whatsover. there was this one level, the forest, and you had to jump over three quite large toadstools to get to a certian area. Failure meant instant death. It took me about twenty attempt before I could make it.

Nowadays this is no real problem to me, but I've had years of expierience with 3D titles. Every time I see a young kid trying to play the industries latest ateempt to woo them, I see an excercise in complete futility. The child will not be able to adequately move the character around flat ground, let alone coordinate a jump in three dimensions. They quickly lose interest in the game, and it languishes on a shelf. These same children immensely enjoy any 2D platformers I put on the emulators for them.

3D platformers are not simply 2D platformers with an extra degree of freedom. They have on average about five more degrees of freedom when you include the all the new axes, including the camera. They're really hyperplatformers, and their difficulty, and subsequent collapse of marketshare reflects this.

Re:It's all about the Ds (1)

WinDoze (52234) | about 8 years ago | (#15867717)

Ahhh, MediEvil. As an old fart, this single game was the thing that got me back into gaming. After seeing it I went out and bought a PlayStation and a copy of MediEvil. Simply one of the best games I've ever played.

Another highly recommended one if you have an XBox (not 360) is Voodoo Vince [] .

Pandemonium did it (1)

andi75 (84413) | about 8 years ago | (#15852345)

Pandemonium, and its successor, Pandemonium 2, did it right. The gameplay was still 2D actually, but the graphics (and the 'curved' structure of the levels) gave it an awesome 3D perspective (it really looked great on my Voodoo 1).

The clockwork level (which you get to play twice, and the first part, where the clockwork isn't in motion yet, is already difficult enough) still gives me nightmares.

The genre is too limited. (3, Insightful)

Chaffar (670874) | about 8 years ago | (#15850967)

The problem with the platform genre is that it's just very easy to make a boring and repetitive game. Do you really want to go through n+1 levels of jumping on the heads of enemies that look like they escaped from the Teletubbies world?

What the genre needs is a new Kirby (the SNES version, I dunno any other one), a game that just comes and changes the way the whole "Pick up mushroom/coin/magic fruit/hash bag and touch the enemies in a particular fashion", and 2D/3D shouldn't be an issue. Some games will feel better in 2D, others much less.

Re:The genre is too limited. (1)

B0red At W0rk (876713) | about 8 years ago | (#15852771)

IMO what made Mario a platformer to begin with was that it shipped with every NES so it was a common reference of all NES owners. The console companies have killed platformers because they realized that a lot of kids could play the same game for months after buying the console and they were not buying anything else.

platform is not doom3d (1)

Hylis (956571) | about 8 years ago | (#15851627)

when marketing will be less important, time of development shorter, platform games can make a come back. It is simple and fun. It is not Hollywood style production friendly, and it would probably be a mistake to try to do so.

Re:platform is not doom3d (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15852796)

Well, duh! Of course Doom3d isn't a platform--it's 3D! Hel-lo!

The White Elephant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15852206)

The analysis is interesting and slightly compelling BUT (and that's a big but) they skipped Super Mario 64. That is beyond stupid. For example they wonder why Super Mario Sunshine didn't sell too well (after the initial spurt and before the budget release). Why, that's because everybody compared it to the 64 experience and, for most, it came up short. Other examples of how including Super Mario 64 as a case study would have improved their analysis are trivial...

Simply put - Super Mario 64 is the definitive game for 3D platform genre. To ignore it...

Viewtiful Joe?.. (1)

decadre (980513) | about 8 years ago | (#15852645)

I think this is just a game cube game, but it is still a very nice example of how good platformers can still please, just unfortunately not an amazingly popular one on a console that is doing better in sales right now

here's a pretty damn good plataformer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15853775)

n [] is for ninja

Many games are subtle platformers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15854488)

I think the real shift has been that the good, and popular, platformer games simply do not look like the platformers of old and so are not seen as such. Prince of Persia was essentially a platformer, there were some sword swiping elements, but the heart of the game lay in jumping from place to place. Shadow of the Collossus I would also consider a platformer. The genre isn't dead, it has just evolved into a less recognizable, but still very fun, form.

DS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15858132)

New Super Mario Bros. on DS

best 2D platformer I've ever played, and I believe it's topping the charts (in the UK/Japan anyway) so what was the point of this article again?
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