Wednesday, December 31, 2014

SuperPhillip Central Best of 2014 Awards - Top Five Best Platformers

The platformer, whether it be 2D, 3D, or a combination of the two, is my favorite genre in gaming, so that is why I am dedicating a top five award list for this genre and this genre only. That, and because there's actually a good number of platformers to choose from this year! That notwithstanding, this year we saw a grand deluge of different platformerss in different perspectives, making deciding which platformers to include and which not to a real challenge. Still, here are my choices for the top five best platformers of 2014!

5) Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 (Wii U, PS3, 360)

3D platformers used to be a dime a dozen in the PS1 and PS2 generations, but now it's hard to find the genre anywhere, really. That's why it was a breath of fresh air to not only play a 3D platformer in retail release form, but one that was a licensed property and actually pretty darned good, for that matter! While not a wholly original platformer, what ideas Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 did present were cleverly designed and well implemented, making for a game that was enjoyable and engaging from beginning to end.

4) Kirby: Triple Deluxe (3DS)

Kirby's latest platforming adventure took him into new depths-- literally! He could walk, run, and do all his platforming stylings in the foreground and background, as levels were designed to take advantage of the Nintendo 3DS's stereoscopic 3D technology. The level design was smart, goodies were hidden well, and the traditional Kirby goodness oozed out from the surface to create one unforgettable Kirby game. While not better than the Wii's Return to Dream Land, Kirby: Triple Deluxe is worth giving Nintendo's pink puffball another look!

3) LittleBigPlanet 3 (PS4, PS3)

What do you get when you cross an adequate platforming engine with a robust level creator? Why, not only do you get a game that will grant you hundreds of hours of entertainment, but you also get LittleBigPlanet 3. The favorite "it's too floaty" criticism can be rendered extinct by toying with the gravity of individual levels to make the jumping as floaty or as tight as a creator likes. With the immensely well designed levels already in the game, the all-new 16 layers of depth that can be switched in between that changes up the level design significantly, and the awesome level creator all makes for LittleBigPlanet 3 being an amazing piece of software for PlayStation 3 and PS4 owners.

2) Shovel Knight (Wii U, 3DS, PC)

The only non-retail release on this list (but don't confuse that for other downloadable games not being worthwhile platformer-wise!), Shovel Knight was Yacht Club Games' first offering as a new team. This Mega Man-inspired 2D retro platformer brought with it stellar levels, each with their own entertaining tropes and themes to them, tight platforming action, and a great Jake Kaufman-composed soundtrack. It all adds up to a game that is astonishing to play and engaging from beginning to end!

1) Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Wii U)

Retro Studios' first go at Donkey Kong Country was with Returns on the Wii and then later the 3DS. Tropical Freeze takes everything they learned from designing and developing Returns and makes a game that is not just the best platformer of the year, but also one of the best 2D platformers ever made. No hyperbole intended. It's just that good. Everything feels so great control-wise, the level design constantly surprises and amazes, and the level of polish is just so incredible. Retro Studios continues to be a development team that I can't help but envy, and games they create like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze are why.

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