Saturday, September 1, 2012

Toppest Tennest 2D Platformers, part Finally revisited

at 2:49 PM

You're not gettin' tired of this, are you? I am. Top ten lists aren't accommodating to whacky hare-brained schemes and comic writing delusions. Translated into Fresca, that is to say that they aren't fun to write. They're... writing to write. You know, that satisfied/confident feeling you get from articulating your ideas? That one. But not anything I would go back and read to say "holy mother of the Great Gazoo what was going ON that day?". If you're me, you know that I like to surprise myself. But maybe I don't know that, and that's the surprise. On the scale of good to fun surprises, that one falls somewhere between "intervention" and "I'm pregnant".

7.) Bit.Trip Runner
Pregnant with ingenious rhythmic classical stylish platforming gameplay, you say? Bet they can't test you for that at Rite Aid. Is Bit.Trip Runner a platformer at all? Well, let's look at the definition. We're in control of a (literally) jammin' avatar, the eternally hip Commander Video, and we're definitely trying to circumlocutory him to a different location. What's crazy this time around is that CV is self-propelled! That's one of those external forces that we discussed before, but this one's a little different, because it seems to be working in tandem with our efforts instead of against them. An Unstoppable Force! Unfortunately for it, and for you, the environments of the Bit.Trip universe are littered with Immovable Objects. And what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? You get zipped back to the beginning of the level, that's what happens.
Someone go tell Socrates!
Runner is a symphony and cacophony describing the chapter of a man's life when he becomes obsessed with success and quantifiable worth, and the chapter of mankind's life in which it too was perverted by the dollar and the notion of profit. This is told wordlessly through one dude's marathon tracking the industrial life-cycle: the discovery of raw materials is followed by a mining operation and finally arrival in the city, the mecca of materialism. Runner remains upbeat in spite of its overbearing thematic material - Commander Video is single-mindedly propelled by naive optimism, not all-consuming avarice. These doomy and morose implications are saved for the subsequent slice of Gaijin's narrative (Fate), which should in its entirety be considered required material for every budding game enthusiast.
The audio/visual execution is exemplary in conveying the feeling that the player is controlling a work of art, step by step creating the music video of their own triumph.

8.) Yoshi's Story
Yoshi's Story doesn't suck. There, I said it. You'd be surprised how few people take that statement seriously - well, if you played the game and had any idea what you were doing, you'd be surprised. Yoshi's Story may very well be the only collectathon that ever worked. It doesn't require you to break out your fine-toothed comb like its forebear, Yoshi's Island, opting to hide its secrets on clever detours and down foreboding paths instead of in plain sight but under a rock that was under another slightly larger rock. This approach to level design is common among the games I've listed, because I'm shallow that way.
And it just may be a balloonatic I'm lookin' for
Yoshi is yet another FPTC, a fun protagonist to control. His is an example of a world that lets you take advantage of this. It isn't punched through with pits directly to hell or running wild with flaming electrified spiny bees. The landscape at hand is well, for lack of a better word, bouncy. It encourages the player to run amok and creatively experiment without the spectre of death looming above. It's not that the game is easy (though any player with even the tiniest speck of patience will see the finish line), it's that there are ways of interacting with things that don't rely on the binary "kill or be killed" that has become a little too rote in the medium. The game is playful and friendly without pandering to children; it wants you to bump around and poke things just to be surprised at what happens. It's an interactive world, not a gauntlet.

The art that brings this world to life also deserves accolades for its effectiveness. An N64 game, it's as beautiful in 2012 as it was in 1997, relying on detailed and deep renders that bring to mind the best of Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario RPG, Baten Kaitos, or Kirby's Epic Yarn.

9.) Castlevania X: Rondo of Blood
For all the super-series the industry has left alive since the '80s, Castlevania has the best reputation outside of the Nintendo classics. While Mega Man became synonymous with cloned template games, Sonic was seen as eternally in pursuit of past glory, and Final Fantasy became emblematic of cult favoritism, Castlevania has maintained a popular set of core mechanics while varying the context enough to stay interesting. It also has vampires and Gothic castles, and nerds love those.

Boil this down, skim the fat, peel the rind, strain the juices, and throw it at your brother's head, and what you'll have left is Rondo of Blood. This is sadly the hardest series entry to get your hands on in the States, but as of the PSP remake and Wii Virtual Console re-release, you've got no excuse. Simply put, the game is a bitch to play. Yup, that's what I'm saying makes Castlevania fun. It's annoying.

Really no game in the series escapes this, but let's talk Castlevania X. Every goddamn enemy, every goddamn jumping segment, is a fucking pain in the fucking ass. It's impossible not to die all the time.
What's good about that. I dunno.

What's the last one? Perhaps the greatest platformer of all time? Come on, you must know. If you haven't guessed, we'll be back next time to share.

No comments:

Post a Comment