Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Remembering the Fallen: Forgotten Platforming Stars

With the news of Microsoft dumping the trademark of an oft-forgotten platforming mascot, I took it upon myself to ponder other platforming mascots who may have once been popular and are now all but forgotten. Whether this be by fans, publishers, developers, or the industry as a whole, these platforming stars were active at one time, but now, for one reason or another, are on an extended, perhaps permanent hiatus.

Banjo and Kazooie

The original Banjo-Kazooie is one of my favorite games of all time. It took the formula that Super Mario 64 laid out, an incredibly influential title without question, and made a better game out of it. Of course, Nintendo did do the hard work by making a 3D platformer actually play well! Regardless, since Microsoft acquired Rare, the developer behind the Banjo games, we've seen HD versions of Banjo's original Nintendo 64 adventures, and we've also seen a title that was drastically different from what fans were expecting, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. While the game was mechanically sound and enjoyable to play, it wasn't the platformer that Banjo fans were clamoring for, and now we're left with bated breath wondering if the bear and bird will ever return to the spotlight.


Namco's Klonoa debuted on the original PlayStation with Door to Phantomile. Several sequels in the form of one PS2 entry and two Game Boy Advance titles later and Klonoa would wind up back at square one with a remake of his original adventure. This time the game was on the Wii, what seemed to be a haven for platformers of all kinds. Unfortunately, abysmal sales of the game on all corners of the world have put the floppy-eared feline in retirement. It's a shame, too, because Klonoa's trademark mechanic of grabbing enemies and using them for a double jump is one that is wholly original and beyond compare, just like the lovable character himself.

Billy Hatcher 

While I didn't overly love Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg on the Nintendo GameCube, I did find it to be massively charming and an innovative title from Sonic the Hedgehog creator Yuji Naka. The game wasn't as well polished as I would have liked, but it did offer some clever new ideas. Since his debut, the boy in the chicken suit has yet to appear in a sequel or a re-release of his game on digital storefronts outside of Europe. Billy has, however, appeared in various Sega games like Sega Superstars, Sonic Riders and its sequel Zero Gravity, and Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing. Although in the latter's sequel he didn't appear at all, further adding to Mr. Hatcher's status as a forgotten former platformer star.

(Voodoo) Vince

Voodoo Vince was one of those games that was published by Microsoft back when they were known for more than just making Halo and Forza games. No, indeed Microsoft's game studios went after multiple markets at one time through their own in-house developed games, and Voodoo Vince was their go at a platformer for the original Xbox. The titular character Vince using an endearing form of masochism to inflict damage to himself, and in the process, defeat enemies in various wacky ways. Voodoo Vince is a series that many would love to see Microsoft go back to in order to add some much needed diversity to the Xbox brand, which nowadays doesn't tend to stray far from shooters and racers.

Ty the Tasmanian Tiger

The fact that this character actually received a game recently-- albeit in the cramped iOS space-- and he's still absolutely forgotten says a lot about this former platforming star. Ty the Tasmanian Tiger was a colorful character whose original game appeared on the PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, and Xbox back in 2002. Two other sequels would be made, but after that, Ty hung up his boomerang and went back to the outback for hiatus. An iOS game to celebrate his tenth anniversary came out for iOS devices, but no hype around the announcement took place. In fact, most don't even know such a game exists! Despite adhering close to the formula Mario games laid, Ty the Tasmanian Tiger was a unique series due to its setting, a fictional Australian island. Throw in some clever level design and you can see why some hold nostalgia to this early 2000's mascot from EA.


For the longest time the Starfy series was for some reason or another absent from Western release. It was only until the fifth game in the series that Starfy crossed over the pond to the West with The Legendary Starfy for the Nintendo DS. The game was very reminiscent of Kirby in its easy difficulty, but there was enough to distinguish the two series apart. Unfortunately, Starfy has since hidden himself away into the dankest corners of the sea, awaiting Nintendo to give him the OK to be in a new-- hopefully also localized-- installment.


From one star(fish?) to another, Ristar is a sad tale of a platforming star's game releasing too close to the end of its current platform's life and the beginning of a new one. In this case it was the Sega Genesis fading away in order for the company and fans to focus on the Saturn. Ristar starred the titular character as he used his elongated arms to stretch out, grab onto poles and enemies, and venture through levels. Although Ristar has been re-released in many formats (digital releases, Sega game collections, etc.), the hero of the stars has not had a new game. Seeing as Sega is so complacent with making inferior Sonic the Hedgehog games nowadays, it seems like Ristar will stay in the history books as a mere footnote in Sega's past.


A character with a game that was so interesting that Nintendo's own fabled game designer Shigeru Miyamoto had expressed interest in working on it. This is Plok, a 2D platformer released on the Super Nintendo. Plok used a clever mechanic in that he could launch any one of his limbs at foes, as well as use them to solve environment puzzles. The latter of these occasionally required Plok to be without a certain limb for a certain period of time. From the game's colorful worlds to well designed levels, Plok is a cult classic on the Super Nintendo and stars a character that wouldn't ever see another game in a starring role. It's a huge shame, as Plok showed so much promise as a character and as a series.

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