Tuesday, December 1, 2020

The Tuesday 10s - Nintendo Switch Platformers

Whether 2D or 3D, Nintendo systems are generally the home to the highest number of platformers. With this in mind, the Nintendo Switch continues this trend, which makes choosing ten platformers for one "best of" list--again, whether 2D or 3D--that much more of a difficult task to do! Even when it's on an unordered list such as this, selecting ten out of the countless excellent platformers on the Switch proved to be quite the herculean task. For this edition of The Tuesday 10s, SuperPhillip Central lists just a sampling of the greatest platformers on the Nintendo Switch with only one real caveat: a limit of one game per series on this list. Otherwise, our main man Mario would hog a lot of the spots here.

Super Mario Odyssey

Speaking of, let's begin with who else but gaming's most famous mascot in one of his biggest, boldest and best platforming adventures yet with Mario and Super Mario Odyssey. I've gone into great detail multiple times in the past already about how fantastic Odyssey truly is, so bear with me as I go through the whole production again. Between Mario's marvelous and humongous move set that allows players to tackle the huge, sprawling worlds in myriad ways, and the ability to capture various enemies and objects via Mario's traveling companion Cappy, Super Mario Odyssey delivered a globetrotting adventure that shouldn't be missed. With literally hundreds of Power Moons to collect (though one can easily just find the bare minimum to make progress--perfect for those less skilled at platformers), the fun doesn't end for a long, long time.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy

From one 3D platformer to the next, Spyro Reignited Trilogy encompasses not just one of Spyro's adventures, but all three of his original PlayStation platformers and puts them through the remake ringer for a remarkably done trilogy of games. The games--Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage, and Spyro: Year of the Dragon--were lovingly restored and given a new lease on life. They've never looked or played better, offering gorgeous visuals, heightened personality and charm, and just a grander sense of wonder. 100% each game will definitely give players a run for their money--or gems in this case--as well, as these titles hide secrets well and require good sleuthing to uncover and accomplish all that they have to offer.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

We move from 3D to 2D now with a relic from the Wii U era of Nintendo consoles that saw new life breathed into it with its arrival on the Switch. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was initially bombarded with boos from a certain section of Nintendo fans for being Retro Studios' next project over a new Metroid Prime game. Those boos quickly turned to cheers when gamers finally got their hands on the game, as it is one of the finest, well crafted 2D platformers ever made. Levels are expertly designed, offering myriad set pieces, platforming challenges, and clever gimmicks, making players eager to see what's next. Secrets are smartly placed, as well, and the challenge is just right. You won't breeze through this game. Retro Studios made a magnificent game with Tropical Freeze, and it stands with the absolute best in both Rare's original trilogy and 2D platformers in general.

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair

A 2D platformer that shares a lot with Donkey Kong Country in its design is Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair. Similar in mechanics to Rare's trilogy with how Yooka and Laylee move and handle, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is more than just Playtonic's ode to DKC. It is its own beast, and a mightily impressive one at that. Everything from the creative and ultra clever 3D world map where puzzles are solved to make progress and reach new levels, to the eponymous Impossible Lair, which can be tackled at any time in the adventure (though your chances are better the more levels you complete), Playtonic showed un-bee-lievable mastery with their game. Levels, like Donkey Kong Country, showcase one major idea or theme and both implement and build upon brilliantly. It's my hope that more players jump in on Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair, especially now that the game is coming to Xbox Game Pass.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Speaking of Xbox Game Pass, we have Ori and the Will of the Wisps, a game that is available not just on that service, but also on the Nintendo Switch as well. It receives a physical retail release on Nintendo's hybrid system later this month alongside Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition. Will of the Wisps improves upon its already stellar predecessor with a meatier, more marvelous game. The addition of side quests, a town-rebuilding mechanics, combat trials, speed runs, and quality of life improvements make for a better experience overall. While I still found issue with the chase sequences still being a bit too trial and error for my tastes, other than that, I adored my time with Ori and the Will of the Wisps and can't recommend it enough--regardless of what platform you can play it on.

Hollow Knight

We go from one gorgeous Metroidvania to another with the hand-drawn, animated delight that is Hollow Knight. Despite its beauty on the outside, on the inside is one challenging game that will put players in their place if they aren't prepared. Hollow Knight can be quite difficult, for certain! What I especially appreciate about Hollow Knight is the openness of the world map. You aren't limited to a linear path that the designers want you to go on. There's multiple points and areas where you can explore, some more difficult than others, but you're essentially given a great deal of freedom. I didn't appreciate this at first because it meant that I got lost rather quickly in my first attempt at playing the game, but on my second, I found a fresh, challenging, and mysterious world to explore and an overall terrific Metroidvania to play. It's one in Hollow Knight that is a great title in its genre.

Mega Man 11

As we leap closer towards the end of our look at fantastic platformers on the Nintendo Switch, we survey a series that has a grand old history on Nintendo platformers dating back to the NES and the series' birth. I'm talking, of course, about Mega Man. For a long time there, not too long ago, Capcom pretty much stopped making Mega Man games, and it wasn't until some new collections of old games came out followed by their sales success that Capcom finally opted to create a new entry in the series. That new entry was Mega Man 11, and it boldly added a brand-new mechanic to make the Blue Bomber's latest far from just a rote sequel. The Double Gear mechanic allows Mega Man to temporarily slow down time or power up his shots as long as he has gear energy. Run out of energy, and Mega Man overheats, making him more vulnerable to damage. It's a stupendously creative and well executed mechanic that takes what was a somewhat stale series and injects it with new life. Mega Man 11 is a splendid entry in the series, and I couldn't be happier that the Blue Bomber is back.

Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition

Although our next platforming star didn't first appear on a Nintendo platform with his debut game, the limbless wonder Rayman has been a big part of Nintendo consoles and handhelds afterwards. Rayman Legends was meant to be a Wii U exclusive, but the early failure of the system sales-wise may have spooked Ubisoft in to bringing it to more platforms. Since then, Rayman Legends has sort of become the new Rayman 2--i.e. the Rayman game ported to every platform Ubisoft can possibly port to--but like Rayman 2, when Legends if this good, who can really complain? Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition arrived on the Nintendo Switch with easy-to-setup co-op thanks to the split Joy-Cons, touch or controller support for the smartly made Murfy sections, and has all of the content and fun of the original game, only now on the Switch. Sure, Rayman Legends isn't too drastically different from other platforms, but a great platformer is a great platformer, and it still remains one of the Switch's bests.

Sonic Mania Plus

This platforming mascot didn't just not debut on a Nintendo platform, he was an actual rival to both Nintendo and Mario. Sonic the Hedgehog sped onto the scene in 1991, and celebrates his 30th anniversary next year. I would personally love to see a sequel to this particular platforming pick on the Nintendo Switch, Sonic Mania and its Plus edition, for the 30th anniversary, but when has SEGA or Sonic Team ever done anything I have wanted? Rhetorical questions aside, Sonic Mania saw the return of Sonic the Hedgehog in his 2D splendor, and it rivals his best outings ever. The attention to detail to physics, to the creative level designs with multiple paths and mixture of moments of speed and slowness, all adds up to a brilliant 2D Sonic that I continue to return to, much like the classics seen on the Genesis (or Mega Drive, depending on your region).

Yoshi's Crafted World

We've gone through some difficult platformers, some super speedy platformers, but now let's slow down the pace and relax a little with Yoshi's Crafted World. That isn't to say that Yoshi's latest is some overly simple, easy, breezy game. That would be folly. Instead, what players get with Yoshi's Crafted World is a sharply designed (or should I say... "crafted"?) platformer with genius and creative level design housing an abundance of secrets, lots to uncover AND discover, a beautiful art style where everything in the world is made of crafts, and some rather tough late and post-game challenges for those who wish to take them on. It may not be everyone's cup of tea or ball of yarn, but Yoshi's Crafted World overflows with creativity, personality, and charm, making it a terrific and pleasurable platformer to play.

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