Thursday, December 30, 2021

SuperPhillip Central Best of 2021 Awards - Top Five Platformers

Are you ready to jump, jump around? I hope so because it's time for the Top Five Platformers of 2021 as part of night four of SuperPhillip Central's Best of 2021 Awards! You can tell the platformer means a great deal to me as a genre, being my absolute favorite. Why? Because it's the only genre of game that gets a dedicated awards category every year. These five platformers, whether 2D or 3D delighted me with their exceptional control, tremendous gameplay, and creative and imaginative worlds.

5) Blue Fire (Multi)

Taking cues from Hollow Knight and Dark Souls (then again, what game of this nature DOESN'T take cues from the latter nowadays?), our first game to kick off this countdown of the Top Five Platformers of 2021 released early this year on all platforms: Blue Fire. This indie 3D platformer featured intense sword-based combat, challenging platforming, and an interconnected world to explore to make for one stellar action-platformer. Those who opt to aim for 100% will definitely discover some insanely difficult platforming challenges to contend with, as the game's obstacle-laden and death trap-infested rifts demand platforming perfection to complete them. If you can overcome the somewhat high level of challenge from Blue Fire, you'll find one excellent and exceptional 3D platformer.

4) Kaze and the Wild Masks (Multi)

While Blue Fire took cues from Hollow Knight and Dark Souls, our next game takes inspiration from Rare's Donkey Kong Country trilogy from the Super Nintendo era. Seen previously in the SPC Best of 2021 Awards in the Most Overlooked Games of 2021 category, Kaze and the Wild Masks feels similarly to playing Donkey Kong Country 2 or 3 entirely with Dixie Kong. Kaze can twirl her ears to slowly descend on platforms, as well as having the ability to pick up objects with said flappy appendages. The levels in Kaze and the Wild Masks routinely deliver sensationally clever mechanics and platforming gimmicks to keep the 5 hour adventure feeling fresh from beginning to end, and the boss battles offer a high degree of challenge, albeit quite fair challenge. The titular Wild Masks are like DKC's animals, transforming Kaze into various forms to tackle levels with new move sets and mobility. It all ends up being one satisfying platforming adventure.

3) Psychonauts 2 (XBS, XB1, PS4, PC)

Double Fine's 3D platforming tour de force, Psychonauts 2, is a highly creative and ingenious game. Diving into the minds of its kooky cast of characters, which serves as the main levels of the game, offered a wide variety of atypical platforming settings. From rolling a bowling ball across a pit of mucus and slime in a city setting to bringing back a band in a way trippy world, the levels in Psychonauts 2 definitely delighted from beginning to end. Each new level brought upped the creativity factor immensely. The hub worlds were a joy to explore as well, soaked and sprinkled with secrets to find and side quests to complete. While Psychonauts 2's combat left something to be desired, the rest of the platforming package was certainly something special.

2) Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury (NSW)

We have a twofer as the number two Platformer of 2021. It's Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury. What was old was new again with all five playable characters in Super Mario 3D World being faster than ever before, really giving returning players of the Wii U original game new ways to tackle old levels. And these levels in Super Mario 3D World were just as fun to play again as they were in the Wii U game. The adventure and obstacle course levels were still as sublime as ever. Online co-op meant the fun could be enjoyed with friends and family outside of one's bubble: especially important in these pandemic times. Meanwhile, Bowser's Fury gave us a glimpse at what a possible open-world Mario might look like. Its sandbox style approach to its design offered a playground for Mario to run, swim, and climb around in, making it a highlight of 2021 for sure. As a whole package, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury brought platforming power to the Switch in a big way and was well worth the price of admission.

1) Metroid Dread (NSW)

Samus returned for her next mission in the Metroid saga, and it concluded things on a masterful note. Samus has never had more magnificent mobility, awesome powers, incredible agility, and massive firepower than she had in Metroid Dread. The game itself was full of intriguing and interesting interconnected environments, from harsh lava lands to vibrant jungles. The bosses upped their game considerably, demanding near-perfect precision and fast reflexes to overcome their offenses on Samus. Metroid Dread was indeed a difficult game, but there was no better reward than actually persevering and overcoming all that stood in Samus' way in one of her most thrilling adventures yet. We had to wait nearly 20 years for Samus to receive a brand-new 2D entry, and with how awesome Metroid Dread was, here's hoping we won't have to wait that long for a follow-up. 

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