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Henke

Favourite platformer hybrids?

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Game-series like Mario, Castlevania, Metroid, Mega Man and Prince Of Persia are obviously among the best platformers ever made (Alice Madness Returns are my favourite). But the new Devs Play made me started to think about which games that have blended platforming with other genres (besides just shooting) are the most interesting ones?

To me, Psychonauts is easily number one together with Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons. Papo & Yo and Catherine are probably at a strong second place followed by Stick It To The Man. After that the list gets pretty thin.

Limbo, ICO/Shadow Of The Colossus, Beyond Good and Evil, The Cave and The Trine-games are all good but are not really as interesting as the five games mentioned above according to me.

The game Montezuma's Return should at least get an honourable mention. It was a sequel to a pretty standard 2D platformer called Montezuma's Revenge (obviously). The sequel was not only in 3D but also in first-person. That wasn't the only weird thing since it felt like they tried to base the entire gameplay around the most wild moments from the Indy-movies. Fun as it sometimes was it's not suprising that nobody has tried anything similair as far as I know.

Which ones are your favourites?

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I wanna say De Blob. Does De Blob count? I don't even know what it'd be a hybrid OF, if anything it feels kinda Mirror's Edge-y.

Also I would like to say Mirror's edge if that counts (platforming+stealth=parkour?????)

I'd also like to nominate Okami, I'm pretty sure that's at least PART platformer.

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How could I forget Okami, that game was awesome. On second thought, Valiant Hearts was also a good game that should probably be on the list as well.

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I was pleasantly surprised by Okami too! I had missed it during my youth and had a lot of fun with the HD version on the PS3. Same goes with Beyond Good and Evil actually, I was just a little disappointed with the length of that game. It was like a little taster of something that deserved to me much larger.

Team ICO's games belong on the list, obviously.

I have a soft spot for Medievil 2 and Ape Escape. Though I think Medievil is more of the "action-adventure" mix, whereas Ape Escape is more of the standard Platformer.

Guerrilla Cambridge went from making Medievil onto making a PS2 game called Primal, that was also labeled as an Action Adventure. From memory, it was quite rigid and buggy. But I do remember enjoying being able to switch between the two main characters to navigate through the environments by completing puzzles. (despite often falling through the floors, the walls...)

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I couldn't get into Okami when I played it. Everything I played it felt to padded, and in desperate need of an edited version.

First the dialogue based intro where I had to sit and click through 15 minutes of just chatter.

Then an extensive boring tutorial.

And then it the next hour or so, the game just felt so slow.

I googled how long it would take to beat it, saw what people said, and then sold it.

For me, the 7-8h long ICO was almost perfection. And I kinda liked Beyond Good&Evil; also, even if don't have the same nostalgic feelings for it, like the rest of the internet has.

I really liked The Cave also. It was 3/5 for me, but I think that the concept has so much potential, and it really needs and deserves a second iteration.

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Thoughts on mentioned games:

Okami – Have to agree with everyone else that this game was phenomenal. The only bad thing I could possibly say about Okami is that the combat wasn’t all that great. I did love using the brush to attack, but just in general the combat felt kinda lukewarm. I think that had more to do with its design than its controls/tightness, though. But swiping my magical brush all over a veritable activity book of an open world was incredibly satisfying.

Beyond Good & Evil – Right up there with Okami and Psychonauts as one of my favorite games of all time, but I am only mentioning it here because other people have. I don’t actually consider this game to be a platformer or even a platformer hybrid at all. It’s more of a stealth/photography/vehicle game. Places where you actually have to jump from one platform to another are so rare that I don’t think you could effectively argue that this game is a platformer. But it is excellent and a sequel would make me pee my pants as much as the Psychonauts 2 announcement.

ICO & SOTC – Two more great games, but also games that I don’t feel quite count as platformers. I don’t think a game is automatically a platformer just because you jump sometimes.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – Excellent game. But I don’t consider it a platformer at all.

Some favorites of my own:

Ah! Real Monsters! – It wasn’t the best platformer ever made, but it was pretty good for a licensed game. It was similar to TRINE or THE LOST VIKINGS in that you control three different characters at once by switching between them. The big difference here, though, is that the other two characters are always visible, so you are just selecting a leader while the other two characters follow. The reason I bring it up is because it had cool “team-up platforming”. No matter which character you choose, you have access to the basic jump. But depending on which character is leading, you have access to a different team-up that accomplishes a special platforming task. For example, if Ickis is the leader, all three characters join hands and then “crack the whip” to fling the whole party across an especially large gap like a living boomerang. If Oblina is the leader, then the characters will stack themselves up like a totem pole, allowing Oblina to jump off the top to reach high places (but the horizontal range on this totem jump was extremely short). The team-up platforming was a cool feature.

Earthworm Jim – Combination of platforming and shooty shooty, made even more fun by the way you could use your head as a helicopter or a grapple to swing on hooks. Great variety in level design and the soundtrack was totally bangin’. Also, there was a level called buttville.

Kirby Super Star – Hands down the best Kirby game ever made. Great variety in campaigns and mini-games. You had platforming, but also the classic Kirby gameplay where you could inhale an enemy and absorb its abilities. In this game you could also inhale an enemy and then convert it into a helpful AI-controlled sidekick. The thing I loved most about this game was playing The Great Mine Offensive campaign in co-op. The ultimate cooperative scavenger hunt. =]

Castlevania/Metroid – Fathers of the metroidvania genre. No explanation really needed.

Yoshi’s Island – The original is still the best Yoshi game of all time. An unforgettable soundtrack, an art style that oozes charm, and legendary gameplay. It’s got your standard mario platforming, but the ability to grab-and-throw with your tongue and the ability to make/throw eggs at various things was especially mindblowing at the time. Not to mention it significantly raised the bar on boss battle quality and dropped some state of the art special effects.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day – So many games are worried about feature creep, but Conker was that game that said, “I’m just going to do a little bit of everything”, and it did, and it was awesome. You had vibrant 3D platforming, but also survival horror with shotguns, a military shooter, army tanks, hover board races, dinosaur mounts, and memorable boss battles. (Kinda hard to forget a living mountain of poop that sings about the specific ways it is going to kill you and defile your body.) Not to mention that it had some of the best console multiplayer of its generation, next to Goldeneye. That “war” mode with the gas canisters? BRILLIANT. Also, it’s funny as hell.

Alice: Madness Returns – I feel like this game got an unjustly lukewarm reception, but it is so beautiful and so much fun. I wasn’t a big fan of the 2D segments, but for the most part this game is an absolute blast. It has really satisfying combat with various melee/ranged weapons, but the game strikes an excellent balance of combat and legit platforming, with neither of those things really overshadowing the other. I might recommend this to DF as one to look at when thinking about how to do action/platforming where the levels are beautiful and stylistic, but also have more wide open space. (Tim seemed concerned that occlusion was a problem in Psychonauts 1, although to be honest I never felt that was a problem.)

Mario 64, Banjoe-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie – The official kings of the “3D platforming adventure” genre.

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If Jak & Daxter counts, then I would list that as one of my absolute favorites. One of the most enjoyable games I've played, where I thought everything just worked, and the one game where collecting stuff didn't bother. I think I found all orbs, twice.

Now, it's so long ago that I played it, that whatever negative aspects of it that people think it has, are things I wouldn't be able to say anything about, but I remember it as a game with great controls, great graphics and just the right amount of challenge, and that the use of collecting orbs as a method for progress was a pretty great idea, because it placed them in visible places instead of hiding them too much.

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WELL if we're talking KIRBY now, I might have to nominate Amazing Mirror as best one. Like good god I had that game for a YEAR before I 100

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If Jak & Daxter counts, then I would list that as one of my absolute favorites. One of the most enjoyable games I've played, where I thought everything just worked, and the one game where collecting stuff didn't bother. I think I found all orbs, twice.

I also have fond memories of Jak and Daxter, got that as a Christmas Present with a PS2 back in 2001! Because it was my first experience with the PS2, I was blown away by the apparent size of the game due to the seamless worlds. I thought it was a coolest thing ever that I could run to different locations rather than have to wait for the loading screens. Plus, it was really fun to swim and bob around in the water.

I think I collected all of the orbs originally and swore I'd never do it again. But lo and behold, when the HD version was released I ended up getting 100% again. If a Platformer or a Hybird Action-Adventure has fun mechanics, then I tend to not mind "collectathons".

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I have a soft spot for La-Mulana personally, the only one I'd call masterpiece (in a subjective sense) in this special hybrid category. It is really a long stretch for how obscure the puzzles get deep into, but the way it delivers the storytelling by giving subtle hints, especially when suddenly get revelations on the structure of the world once your mind works out all the links between the clues and your own game experience in a massive open world of ruins.

I also thought Beyond Good and Evil was fantastic in that regard for similar reasons but with a different approach; the storytelling is mostly linear this time around, but it's delivered by creating a specific game session around the current plot event, making it an extremely varied experience that involves stealth, racing, fights or sightseeing whenever needed.

I'm not sure if Little Big Adventure counts in that regard, but I also enjoyed how nicely it blends world themes (mostly mystical and futuristic) with its own environments and targets.

Honorable mentions for both Prince of Persia trilogies (I especially liked the second iteration in each one) and Braid (even if a bit derivative in that regard). I also enjoy hardcore pure platformers like Super Meat Boy, or even tamer ones like Crash Bandicoot or Ape Escape but I guess it wasn't what you are asking for in this thread.

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The platformer hybrids of my childhood were two puzzle-platformers with oddly similar names:

Bubble and Squeak - a game where you controlled one character and used the other character as your prop/lackey. You could tell him when to start and stop following you, get him to throw you into the air, kick him, give him bubble gum as a bribe so that he would give you a piggy-back ride, and so on. The aim of each level was to get both characters to the exit. In addition to the usual platform game obstacles (enemies that attacked you and things that hurt you when you touch/step on them) most of the levels (especially later in the game) had a rising water level, and if you didn't hurry up and get both characters to the exit in time you'd end up drowning one or both of them. It also had shoot 'em up bonus stages in between the main levels. It was a ridiculously cute game that I loved to bits (heck, still do). Kind of a teamwork game, but for just one player.

and

Bubba 'n Stix - another game where one character was controllable and the other was a prop, although in this game the "prop" part was more literal. Your sidekick was an alien stick that you could use as a platform to stand on, a weapon, a snooker cue, or a stick to help you balance when tight-rope walking. The game only had five levels but each one introduced tons of new gameplay elements. It had a really fun, wacky, cartoony atmosphere to it too and the main character's expressions were priceless.

I had both games for the Amiga (either 500 or 1200, and I know both were available on the CD32) but a friend of mine had them on Sega Megadrive too.

When I think of platformer hybrids in general, the first two that come to mind are Psychonauts and Beyond Good and Evil. Out of the others mentioned here, I also agree that Yoshi's Island and Braid are nice examples (though the latter is very different to any of the others).

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I remember years ago I played Voodoo Vince on the original Xbox, which was mostly a platformer but had some melee combat. I found the art direction somewhat similar to Psychonauts and also the soundtrack had a bit of a similar sound to some of Peter McConnell's work (kind of a mix of polka and jazz, for lack of a better genre description) - I even remember in an interview he had said that he liked that soundtrack. Some of the platforming required to collect everything was pretty damn tough and I wouldn't say it's anywhere on Psychonaut's level but it was a fun enough game.

I didn't realize this but after googling it I saw it was made by Clayton Kauzlaric, who worked with Ron Gilbert on Deathspank.

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My personal favourite kind of 3D platformers are the environmental puzzle ones. Early examples are of course the Tomb Raider series and Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine. Later examples with an entirely different mode of environment manipulation would be Portal and it's sequel and those games that heavily borrows from it. Less interesting to me are the more action based 3D platformers.

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Good memories reading through this thread.

Beyond Good and Evil's another game I'd really love to see a sequel for someday. There was a real charm to the characters, and I can't think of any other game that lets you enjoy the atmosphere by taking pictures of things like flying whales. It was nice little feature that made the environment feel both more alive and otherworldly.

Limbo might be my favorite 2D platformer simply for the forested section in the first half. The foggy silhouetted art style managed to make something really engrossing without needing any words, and the only signs of life that might be friendly are always running away or just out of your reach. It was great for emphasizing this feeling of isolation and insignificance in a world greater than you are. And even if you died a lot, the load times were instantaneous enough to keep the flow of the pacing moving.

Alice: Madness Returns – I feel like this game got an unjustly lukewarm reception, but it is so beautiful and so much fun. I wasn’t a big fan of the 2D segments, but for the most part this game is an absolute blast. It has really satisfying combat with various melee/ranged weapons, but the game strikes an excellent balance of combat and legit platforming, with neither of those things really overshadowing the other. I might recommend this to DF as one to look at when thinking about how to do action/platforming where the levels are beautiful and stylistic, but also have more wide open space. (Tim seemed concerned that occlusion was a problem in Psychonauts 1, although to be honest I never felt that was a problem.)

I think some my own critique came from how drawn out some of levels started to feel by the end. There were vast, beautiful looking worlds, and the jumping/combat was functional in getting around, but apart from a few collectibles, they could feel a bit empty and repetitive by the time each of them were done.

But despite whatever nitpicks I had with it, I do recommend the game. The art design between different areas is creatively stunning, and at its best it makes for a really solid atmosphere. One of my favorite moments was the card castle in the sky. Great visuals and a really mellow soundtrack to carry it through.

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Alice: Madness Returns – I feel like this game got an unjustly lukewarm reception, but it is so beautiful and so much fun. I wasn’t a big fan of the 2D segments, but for the most part this game is an absolute blast. It has really satisfying combat with various melee/ranged weapons, but the game strikes an excellent balance of combat and legit platforming, with neither of those things really overshadowing the other. I might recommend this to DF as one to look at when thinking about how to do action/platforming where the levels are beautiful and stylistic, but also have more wide open space. (Tim seemed concerned that occlusion was a problem in Psychonauts 1, although to be honest I never felt that was a problem.)

I think some my own critique came from how drawn out some of levels started to feel by the end. There were vast, beautiful looking worlds, and the jumping/combat was functional in getting around, but apart from a few collectibles, they could feel a bit empty and repetitive by the time each of them were done.

But despite whatever nitpicks I had with it, I do recommend the game. The art design between different areas is creatively stunning, and at its best it makes for a really solid atmosphere. One of my favorite moments was the card castle in the sky. Great visuals and a really mellow soundtrack to carry it through.

The worlds didn't really feel empty to me, but I do know what you mean by the levels feeling like they were kinda drawn out. I think the game would have benefited by making each world just a tiny bit shorter. It just feels like you are in one place for a really long time. Sort of like if every level in super mario world took 30 minutes to beat. Even if what's happening in the level is pretty good, being in that one place for such a long time is just sort of exhausting and can make you feel fatigued and like you're not really getting anywhere.

I think Psychonauts wouldn't have the same problem, though. The thing with Alice is that it's linear. You don't get to choose the order you go through the different worlds. You just go through them one at a time like chapters. But if all of the worlds in Alice were worlds in Psychonauts, you could use the smelling salts to leave them at any time if you were getting fatigued on that particular world. Then you could come back later. And you wouldn't have to worry too much about losing your place, since there are those little warp creatures you can use to skip around.

But yeah, Alice definitely makes you stay in one place for just a little too long. But I think it was just a pacing issue, not so much an issue with the world feeling empty or boring. That's my view of it at least.

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The worlds didn't really feel empty to me, but I do know what you mean by the levels feeling like they were kinda drawn out. I think the game would have benefited by making each world just a tiny bit shorter. It just feels like you are in one place for a really long time. Sort of like if every level in super mario world took 30 minutes to beat. Even if what's happening in the level is pretty good, being in that one place for such a long time is just sort of exhausting and can make you feel fatigued and like you're not really getting anywhere.

I think Psychonauts wouldn't have the same problem, though. The thing with Alice is that it's linear. You don't get to choose the order you go through the different worlds. You just go through them one at a time like chapters. But if all of the worlds in Alice were worlds in Psychonauts, you could use the smelling salts to leave them at any time if you were getting fatigued on that particular world. Then you could come back later. And you wouldn't have to worry too much about losing your place, since there are those little warp creatures you can use to skip around.

But yeah, Alice definitely makes you stay in one place for just a little too long. But I think it was just a pacing issue, not so much an issue with the world feeling empty or boring. That's my view of it at least.

I wouldn't say that structured linearity in itself is necessarily a bad thing. But one of the strengths that Psychonauts had was that it was always breaking up the platforming sections with different puzzles and had plenty of entertaining dialogue and storytelling throughout each world, not to mention the lively hub world between different sections. Madness Returns had some mini-games to break things up as well, but I wasn't a huge fan of the combat arenas or 2D segments either (even if they did look nice), and there could be some pretty large gaps between finding moments of any story content.

Of the two games I'd argue that Madness Returns had much smoother combat, but Psychonauts had enough diversity in content to make up for it.

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I actually made a video listing my 8 favourite platformers that I think is relevant here.

Jnx5vsSjkEA

I'd also like to give a shout out to Dr Muto, i-Ninja, Ratchet & Clank and Sly Cooper.

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I actually made a video listing my 8 favourite platformers that I think is relevant here.

Jnx5vsSjkEA

I'd also like to give a shout out to Dr Muto, i-Ninja, Ratchet & Clank and Sly Cooper.

Nice collection (and video) Darth!

And high fives for mentioning Tomb Raider: Anniversary and Super Mario Sunshine.

I had never played Sunshine until this year and I instantly fell in love with it. I'm not too familiar with Mario's other 3D games, so maybe this isn't different from Super Mario 64, but I like how the levels have various objectives that unlock as you complete them? I thought it was a clever way to reuse a smaller number of well-designed environments by having the player return to them several times. Though they wouldn't have gotten away with that if the levels were boring.

Maybe some people do find it too repetitive, but I thought they were fun to run about in, Especially Pinna Park. I really liked the designs and animations of all of the little rides and so on! They made the area feel lively.

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... I'm not sure why I didn't mention the Dizzy franchise in my earlier post? Must've slipped my mind. The series had some duds, I'll admit, but their usual stuff was good. Only problem I used to have with them (back when playing on an Amiga) was that there was no save/load option, even though some of the games were pretty big.

Great video, Darth! :) And on a side note, I'd forgotten how funny Murfy's subtitle face looked in Rayman 2. That grin...

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I had never played Sunshine until this year and I instantly fell in love with it. I'm not too familiar with Mario's other 3D games, so maybe this isn't different from Super Mario 64, but I like how the levels have various objectives that unlock as you complete them? I thought it was a clever way to reuse a smaller number of well-designed environments by having the player return to them several times. Though they wouldn't have gotten away with that if the levels were boring.
It's like that in the Mario Galaxy games as well. It was also present in M64, but nowhere near as much as in the subsequent games - the main gimmick was in how you jumped into the paintings, if you recall. Still have no idea how they got Tick Tock Clock to work...

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Beyond Good and Evil's another game I'd really love to see a sequel for someday. There was a real charm to the characters, and I can't think of any other game that lets you enjoy the atmosphere by taking pictures of things like flying whales. It was nice little feature that made the environment feel both more alive and otherworldly.

Allegedly, Ubisoft is still working on the sequel they've teased every now and again. Michel Ancel (mastermind behind BG&E and the Rayman series) has formed his own studio called Wild Sheep, but is reported to still be working with Ubisoft on BG&E2;.

I'm not sure if I'd call BG&E a hybrid platformer though. There's not really much in the way of platforming elements in it and all the jumps are contextual instead of button presses. To me, it feels closer to stuff like the 3D Zelda games.

*Darth's video*

I've played Vexx too, you're not alone!

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I'm not sure if I'd call BG&E a hybrid platformer though. There's not really much in the way of platforming elements in it and all the jumps are contextual instead of button presses. To me, it feels closer to stuff like the 3D Zelda games.

Agreed. A few other games in this thread that have certain things in common with Psychonauts, and which are very good games, but are odd choices for a thread about platformers.

It actually makes me wonder how much people consider Psychonauts a platformer or enjoy/remember it for the platforming.

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