The Death of The Open 3D Platformer

It was father time, with the retro flare, in the home console.
 
What inspired this blog post today of all days is a nice little game called Super Mario Galaxy 2. Yes, it is a good game, yes, if you don't have it yet then you're most likely a hell spawn that needs to be shot... twice, and yes, it is supposed to be the follow up to the original Super Mario Galaxy... And there lies the problem. If common belief holds true, Super Mario Galaxy was the sequel to Super Mario Sunshine, which was in turn, the sequel to Super Mario 64. Yes, it's true that all three are completely different games with no real constant story, but so are Super Mario Bros 1, 2, and 3.
 
Now how does this game relate to the death of the platformer? Well the thing is... It's linear.
Really... Damn... Linear.
 

 Power Star is Straight Ahead, No Rights, No Lefts

 Although I like defying gravity (or more so actually following the rules more then I should be) as much as the next guy, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 does a good job of doing so, I can't shake off the feeling that there's a hidden man with a gun right behind me pushing me through a set path. Even more so, this game makes absolutely no effort to hide it. You've got your "hub world," but that's in parenthesis because it's just a fancy way to get to the level select screen. The level select screen, although it always allows you to skip a galaxy or two, is litteraly drawing a line for you to follow. Yes, there are checkpoints, that's a bad sign.
 
Now this wouldn't be as important if the levels themselves weren't just massive straight lines which are just pushing you along from point A (where Mario makes his dramatic entrance) to point B (the star.) In fact, if you don't select the star from the chapter screen, it's down right not accessable while attempting another one. And this isn't just for select levels, this is for every one of them. The game does all sorts of things to make sure that you stay on the path it told you to stay on, and although there ARE secret stars that diverge from the path, they just end up being a small hidden room with a challenge, or a special code, a coin luma, or ANOTHER path to follow. The entire time I feel the game's telling me "Hey, you wanna skip ahead and get star 2 during chapter 1? WELL TOO BAD! See those critical platforms? Gone! See that boss? Gone! See that path? Blocked! Now stick to the linear path, sucker!"
 
Of course, this is the game being the game it wants to be, but that's the problem, the fact that this IS the game that Super Mario Galaxy 2 wants to be is just a hidden reminder of what once was: The Open 3D Platformer. 
 
Although SMG 2 is a platformer and a 3D one at that, it's not open. And the cruel irony is... this is the series that created the concept in the first place.
 
When Super Mario 64 came around, it's most notable feature was the fact that for once, you could move around like you do in real life, with 360 degree control. And Mario didn't hide it, he was as happy as it gets, he jumped, ran around, climbed trees, did backwards summer saults, and all in all, platformed his way to 120 stars and saved the Peach for the 64th time or so. However, what Mario also created was one of the most important genre's known to man: The Open 3D Platformer. 
 
The Open meant that you could take a number of paths from one area. Yes, if you were on Chapter 1, and you saw Star 6, you can get it if you have the skills. You may get a hint if you follow the game's path, but the game won't go at great lengths to make sure you get Star 1 on Chapter 1 or no star at all. If you notice, the only time you have a straight down path in Super Mario 64 that you couldn't avoid was during the bowser stages, and those were for self explanatory reasons.
 

 No Straight Path Here

Even more so, however, is that some stars in the game were downright unaccessable until you went ahead and found something that you needed to do it later on in the game. If the game needs a metal cap, well, go find the switch yourself.
 
However, what has happened during the line down is that Mario has found himself more restricted every new game. 
Super Mario Sunshine wasn't TOO restrictive, but yes, there were a lot of triggers that were activated only if you have the Chapter activated, as in, you can't go into the hotel on Sirena Beach unless you're SUPPOSED to, and you're not SUPPOSED to until the game makes you, when the chapter becomes available. However, there were still those moments where there are those stars which you can't get to until you unlock something later on in the game. And so, I'm still not done with Bianco Hills even if Noki Bay is unlocked, simply because I need more stars from Noki Bay so I can get a new nozzle for Fludd that I need for Bianco Hills.
 

 Where To Go?

 
It's that kind of interaction that defines the open world 3D platformer, and although Super Mario Sunshine had less of it then it should've had, it still had it.
 
Super Mario Galaxy, however, didn't have that kind of interaction at all. If I was offered the chance to get the star, I could go and get the star. I only reached a level with Bee Mario if I already had Bee Mario. Thus, completely removing the unlinearity that Super Mario 64 had worked so hard to pioneer.
 
Super Mario Galaxy 2, however, removed that to every degree possible. It's downright impossible to get any star until it's offered to you. There are no switches to switch, power-ups are just handed to you, usually on a silver plate too.
 
Now this is just ONE franchise, but the problem is, this is an accurate reflection of everything. The 3D Super Mario Platforming games were the last hope of the modern unlinear open 3D platformer, and it's all but gone now. Super Mario Galaxy 2 effectively nailed the coffin shut.
  
 
 Oh the Irony
   
However, this was a long time coming, too, the franchise had been dying for years.
 
Two franchises that come to mind are Banjo-Kazooie and Spyro, both didn't even have a chapter system. That is, you're never even given hints to where things are for the most part, the jiggies/whatever Spyro needs are just thrown around the game world. However, we all know what happened to those franchises.
 
Spyro got sold to a new company who has been butchering the poor dragon ever since, killing the franchise to a pulp, and then eventually dropping all the core concepts altogether and making a crappy combat based game which got crappy reviews, and as expected, sold crappily.
 

 Even Spyro is Bewildered to How A Franchise Could Be Ruined So Badly

 
Banjo-Kazooie, one of my favorite franchises in gaming history, ended up with a sequel, Banjo-Tooie, which had a bad GBA prequel, Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge, which most people forgot and isn't really cannon. However, the cannon story setup at Banjo-Tooie, was supposed to be continued with Banjo Threeie... But it didn't. First it was delayed, then it was unheard of, then it was finally revealed as a completely new game... A vehicle costumization one at that. 
 
Also known as Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, this game basically repeals everything Banjo-Kazooie/Banjo-Tooie did. Banjo Kazooie had open worlds with jiggies thrown around, Banjo Tooie went farther and connected worlds together, making you have to go to several worlds, connecting the early game and the late game, doing multiple various things to get one single jiggy. For example, you had to free a train in Glitter Gulch mine, then drive it to Hellfire Peaks, then cool it down with a camel that you freed from Witchy World, to go and get a jiggy in the ice side of the level... And that's only one thing, for one jiggy. However, instead of Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts continuing this, it provided us all with levels that aren't related in the least sense... at all. In fact, all the Jiggies were clearly laid out for you, and the only way to get them was through Jiggy challenges that were different in each chapter. So not only did the game not connect worlds, it didn't even bother to connect chapters. Each jiggy was its own individual challenge that wasn't related to anything else. The game didn't stop there, however, it basically garunteed you that as long as you finished the grunty challenges in order, you're going to be able to complete every challenge in the game. For example, Bottles never gave me a flying mission before I unlocked a set of wings. And so, Rare killed the back tracking that made its series so popular and unique.
 

No Wonder Banjo Can't Platform, He'll Get His Suit Wrinkled, and He Just Ironed That Thing!

Now where are the parallels in here?
These are all series that built off each other, shared a common gameplay element, and then repealed almost everything as soon as the 6th generation of consoles ended, for the most part.
Spyro 3 built on Spyro 2 which built on Spyro 1, but then it was sold and nothing afterwords continues any of that.
Banjo-Tooie built on Banjo-Kazooie, but then the 360 came and Nuts and Bolts doesn't continue that.
Super Mario Sunshine built on Super Mario 64, but then the Wii came Super Mario Galaxy doesn't continue that. 
 
So what we have here is a complete lack of Open 3D Platformers.
 
But who killed them?
It wasn't Nico Bellic, it wasn't Master Chief, and it wasn't Marcus Pheonix.
 
It was father time.

 That Rocket Launcher Can Take Down a Helicopter, But Can It Take Down My Stash Of Jiggies?

What ended up happening with Super Mario Galaxy 2 is that it's a return to Mario's "roots." Mario was never an open world game, and once it became one, it went forward, but then it started going back again to be linear... again. I can easily say that it was the New Super Mario Bros that made Super Mario Galaxy 2 what it is. Think about it, the game sold like hot cakes, but why? It was because it was a linear, straight forward, game. None of those "complexities" such as back tracking or things you can't access yet. And then Super Mario Bros Wii came out, and that changed everything... It was the first 2D Mario game on a console not following Yoshi since Super Mario World... That's 19 years. And boy did that game sell.
 
You thought Nintendo's trying to appeal to the hardcore audience? Well, you may be right, but they've got their sights on the casual audience too. The casual audience is not what the 3D Open Platformer is all about, the casual audience likes a set path right down the middle. They like being told what to do, and if they see something they can't use right off the bat (such as a clear red box, for example) they get confused. However, if they're given a straight line right down the middle, with everything you need available, then they enjoy it and tell their friends. All the while, the hardcore gamers are enjoying it too because, yes, SMG 2 has its challenging areas (although I find it medium difficulty, to be honest,) and yes, this is Mario being as Mario as he gets.
 
So yes, they kept chipping away at the 3D Open Platformer until it's gone, Super Mario Sunshine was less open then Super Mario 64, and Super Mario Galaxy was less open then both, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 takes the cake for the least open 3D Mario game ever created. However, those aren't faults, those are what the games are TRYING to do, but the problem is, that's what they're trying to do...  
 
The cruel irony is... We're backtracking. The worlds were too open and now they're closing up again. 
Super Mario Bros was really linear, Super Mario Bros 2 was less linear, Super Mario Bros 3 was even less, Super Mario World had alternate routes, Super Mario 64 was completely open, Super Mario Sunshine was less open, Super Mario Galaxy was pretty linear, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 was really linear.
 

 Forget Power Stars! This is the "New" Face of Progress!

 
Alas, the poor Open 3D Platformer, I knew thee well, I enjoyed collecting yee magical items to open thein worlds, and I enjoyed doing it in any order I find fit, and I enjoyed yee teasing me with unaccessable areas, and I enjoyed the power of collecting thein items later.
 
R.I.P.
 
Notice: I don't hate Super Mario Galaxy 2 or Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, I enjoy them both and they both deserve the ratings they got, however, they just aren't the games I was hoping they would be. They're fun, they aren't lacking, and they're pretty impressive. It's just a different genre now.
 

 But at What Cost?
39 Comments
41 Comments
Posted by EvilConker

It was father time, with the retro flare, in the home console.
 
What inspired this blog post today of all days is a nice little game called Super Mario Galaxy 2. Yes, it is a good game, yes, if you don't have it yet then you're most likely a hell spawn that needs to be shot... twice, and yes, it is supposed to be the follow up to the original Super Mario Galaxy... And there lies the problem. If common belief holds true, Super Mario Galaxy was the sequel to Super Mario Sunshine, which was in turn, the sequel to Super Mario 64. Yes, it's true that all three are completely different games with no real constant story, but so are Super Mario Bros 1, 2, and 3.
 
Now how does this game relate to the death of the platformer? Well the thing is... It's linear.
Really... Damn... Linear.
 

 Power Star is Straight Ahead, No Rights, No Lefts

 Although I like defying gravity (or more so actually following the rules more then I should be) as much as the next guy, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 does a good job of doing so, I can't shake off the feeling that there's a hidden man with a gun right behind me pushing me through a set path. Even more so, this game makes absolutely no effort to hide it. You've got your "hub world," but that's in parenthesis because it's just a fancy way to get to the level select screen. The level select screen, although it always allows you to skip a galaxy or two, is litteraly drawing a line for you to follow. Yes, there are checkpoints, that's a bad sign.
 
Now this wouldn't be as important if the levels themselves weren't just massive straight lines which are just pushing you along from point A (where Mario makes his dramatic entrance) to point B (the star.) In fact, if you don't select the star from the chapter screen, it's down right not accessable while attempting another one. And this isn't just for select levels, this is for every one of them. The game does all sorts of things to make sure that you stay on the path it told you to stay on, and although there ARE secret stars that diverge from the path, they just end up being a small hidden room with a challenge, or a special code, a coin luma, or ANOTHER path to follow. The entire time I feel the game's telling me "Hey, you wanna skip ahead and get star 2 during chapter 1? WELL TOO BAD! See those critical platforms? Gone! See that boss? Gone! See that path? Blocked! Now stick to the linear path, sucker!"
 
Of course, this is the game being the game it wants to be, but that's the problem, the fact that this IS the game that Super Mario Galaxy 2 wants to be is just a hidden reminder of what once was: The Open 3D Platformer. 
 
Although SMG 2 is a platformer and a 3D one at that, it's not open. And the cruel irony is... this is the series that created the concept in the first place.
 
When Super Mario 64 came around, it's most notable feature was the fact that for once, you could move around like you do in real life, with 360 degree control. And Mario didn't hide it, he was as happy as it gets, he jumped, ran around, climbed trees, did backwards summer saults, and all in all, platformed his way to 120 stars and saved the Peach for the 64th time or so. However, what Mario also created was one of the most important genre's known to man: The Open 3D Platformer. 
 
The Open meant that you could take a number of paths from one area. Yes, if you were on Chapter 1, and you saw Star 6, you can get it if you have the skills. You may get a hint if you follow the game's path, but the game won't go at great lengths to make sure you get Star 1 on Chapter 1 or no star at all. If you notice, the only time you have a straight down path in Super Mario 64 that you couldn't avoid was during the bowser stages, and those were for self explanatory reasons.
 

 No Straight Path Here

Even more so, however, is that some stars in the game were downright unaccessable until you went ahead and found something that you needed to do it later on in the game. If the game needs a metal cap, well, go find the switch yourself.
 
However, what has happened during the line down is that Mario has found himself more restricted every new game. 
Super Mario Sunshine wasn't TOO restrictive, but yes, there were a lot of triggers that were activated only if you have the Chapter activated, as in, you can't go into the hotel on Sirena Beach unless you're SUPPOSED to, and you're not SUPPOSED to until the game makes you, when the chapter becomes available. However, there were still those moments where there are those stars which you can't get to until you unlock something later on in the game. And so, I'm still not done with Bianco Hills even if Noki Bay is unlocked, simply because I need more stars from Noki Bay so I can get a new nozzle for Fludd that I need for Bianco Hills.
 

 Where To Go?

 
It's that kind of interaction that defines the open world 3D platformer, and although Super Mario Sunshine had less of it then it should've had, it still had it.
 
Super Mario Galaxy, however, didn't have that kind of interaction at all. If I was offered the chance to get the star, I could go and get the star. I only reached a level with Bee Mario if I already had Bee Mario. Thus, completely removing the unlinearity that Super Mario 64 had worked so hard to pioneer.
 
Super Mario Galaxy 2, however, removed that to every degree possible. It's downright impossible to get any star until it's offered to you. There are no switches to switch, power-ups are just handed to you, usually on a silver plate too.
 
Now this is just ONE franchise, but the problem is, this is an accurate reflection of everything. The 3D Super Mario Platforming games were the last hope of the modern unlinear open 3D platformer, and it's all but gone now. Super Mario Galaxy 2 effectively nailed the coffin shut.
  
 
 Oh the Irony
   
However, this was a long time coming, too, the franchise had been dying for years.
 
Two franchises that come to mind are Banjo-Kazooie and Spyro, both didn't even have a chapter system. That is, you're never even given hints to where things are for the most part, the jiggies/whatever Spyro needs are just thrown around the game world. However, we all know what happened to those franchises.
 
Spyro got sold to a new company who has been butchering the poor dragon ever since, killing the franchise to a pulp, and then eventually dropping all the core concepts altogether and making a crappy combat based game which got crappy reviews, and as expected, sold crappily.
 

 Even Spyro is Bewildered to How A Franchise Could Be Ruined So Badly

 
Banjo-Kazooie, one of my favorite franchises in gaming history, ended up with a sequel, Banjo-Tooie, which had a bad GBA prequel, Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge, which most people forgot and isn't really cannon. However, the cannon story setup at Banjo-Tooie, was supposed to be continued with Banjo Threeie... But it didn't. First it was delayed, then it was unheard of, then it was finally revealed as a completely new game... A vehicle costumization one at that. 
 
Also known as Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, this game basically repeals everything Banjo-Kazooie/Banjo-Tooie did. Banjo Kazooie had open worlds with jiggies thrown around, Banjo Tooie went farther and connected worlds together, making you have to go to several worlds, connecting the early game and the late game, doing multiple various things to get one single jiggy. For example, you had to free a train in Glitter Gulch mine, then drive it to Hellfire Peaks, then cool it down with a camel that you freed from Witchy World, to go and get a jiggy in the ice side of the level... And that's only one thing, for one jiggy. However, instead of Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts continuing this, it provided us all with levels that aren't related in the least sense... at all. In fact, all the Jiggies were clearly laid out for you, and the only way to get them was through Jiggy challenges that were different in each chapter. So not only did the game not connect worlds, it didn't even bother to connect chapters. Each jiggy was its own individual challenge that wasn't related to anything else. The game didn't stop there, however, it basically garunteed you that as long as you finished the grunty challenges in order, you're going to be able to complete every challenge in the game. For example, Bottles never gave me a flying mission before I unlocked a set of wings. And so, Rare killed the back tracking that made its series so popular and unique.
 

No Wonder Banjo Can't Platform, He'll Get His Suit Wrinkled, and He Just Ironed That Thing!

Now where are the parallels in here?
These are all series that built off each other, shared a common gameplay element, and then repealed almost everything as soon as the 6th generation of consoles ended, for the most part.
Spyro 3 built on Spyro 2 which built on Spyro 1, but then it was sold and nothing afterwords continues any of that.
Banjo-Tooie built on Banjo-Kazooie, but then the 360 came and Nuts and Bolts doesn't continue that.
Super Mario Sunshine built on Super Mario 64, but then the Wii came Super Mario Galaxy doesn't continue that. 
 
So what we have here is a complete lack of Open 3D Platformers.
 
But who killed them?
It wasn't Nico Bellic, it wasn't Master Chief, and it wasn't Marcus Pheonix.
 
It was father time.

 That Rocket Launcher Can Take Down a Helicopter, But Can It Take Down My Stash Of Jiggies?

What ended up happening with Super Mario Galaxy 2 is that it's a return to Mario's "roots." Mario was never an open world game, and once it became one, it went forward, but then it started going back again to be linear... again. I can easily say that it was the New Super Mario Bros that made Super Mario Galaxy 2 what it is. Think about it, the game sold like hot cakes, but why? It was because it was a linear, straight forward, game. None of those "complexities" such as back tracking or things you can't access yet. And then Super Mario Bros Wii came out, and that changed everything... It was the first 2D Mario game on a console not following Yoshi since Super Mario World... That's 19 years. And boy did that game sell.
 
You thought Nintendo's trying to appeal to the hardcore audience? Well, you may be right, but they've got their sights on the casual audience too. The casual audience is not what the 3D Open Platformer is all about, the casual audience likes a set path right down the middle. They like being told what to do, and if they see something they can't use right off the bat (such as a clear red box, for example) they get confused. However, if they're given a straight line right down the middle, with everything you need available, then they enjoy it and tell their friends. All the while, the hardcore gamers are enjoying it too because, yes, SMG 2 has its challenging areas (although I find it medium difficulty, to be honest,) and yes, this is Mario being as Mario as he gets.
 
So yes, they kept chipping away at the 3D Open Platformer until it's gone, Super Mario Sunshine was less open then Super Mario 64, and Super Mario Galaxy was less open then both, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 takes the cake for the least open 3D Mario game ever created. However, those aren't faults, those are what the games are TRYING to do, but the problem is, that's what they're trying to do...  
 
The cruel irony is... We're backtracking. The worlds were too open and now they're closing up again. 
Super Mario Bros was really linear, Super Mario Bros 2 was less linear, Super Mario Bros 3 was even less, Super Mario World had alternate routes, Super Mario 64 was completely open, Super Mario Sunshine was less open, Super Mario Galaxy was pretty linear, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 was really linear.
 

 Forget Power Stars! This is the "New" Face of Progress!

 
Alas, the poor Open 3D Platformer, I knew thee well, I enjoyed collecting yee magical items to open thein worlds, and I enjoyed doing it in any order I find fit, and I enjoyed yee teasing me with unaccessable areas, and I enjoyed the power of collecting thein items later.
 
R.I.P.
 
Notice: I don't hate Super Mario Galaxy 2 or Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, I enjoy them both and they both deserve the ratings they got, however, they just aren't the games I was hoping they would be. They're fun, they aren't lacking, and they're pretty impressive. It's just a different genre now.
 

 But at What Cost?
Posted by mylifeforAiur

Great loooong blog. I also would have prefer'd it if Banjo Kazooie: N&B were an open-world platformer. I've always had a soft spot for the Sly Raccoon, Jak and Daxter and Ratchet series ;) 

Posted by blazerx9x

I have to agree, SMG2 was epic though, you have to admit

Posted by EvilConker
@blazerx9x: I did admit.
I'm still playing and enjoying SMG2, in fact, I'm loving it.
But my inner gamer wants it to be different... It wants an open ended platformer.
Posted by secretagent099

woah nice blog

Posted by blazerx9x
@EvilConker: I remember when I first played this game, I actually felt like SMG2 was "isolatey" ( if that`s even a word ) I think what i`m trying to say is...
I felt lonely playing this game
Posted by EvilConker
@blazerx9x: Strange, I actually felt like that for Super Mario 64.
Anyways, go get Banjo Tooie/Kazooie off XBLA, there's enough chracters and chatter in those games to make you feel like you're really in something.
Posted by Jost1
@mylifeforAiur said:
" Great loooong blog. I also would have prefer'd it if Banjo Kazooie: N&B were an open-world platformer. I've always had a soft spot for the Sly Raccoon, Jak and Daxter and Ratchet series ;)  "
How is Nuts and Bolts not an open world? Seems pretty damn open to me. Also an amazing game that's probably almost on par with Galaxy.
Posted by Landon

Yep that's about right. Maybe that's the reason I didn't really like Galaxy 2, but still somehow enjoy Mario 64.

Posted by Jost1

Also I think the 3D platformer is dead outside of Mario. The games don't sell.

Posted by Shotaro
@josty81 said:
" @mylifeforAiur said:
" Great loooong blog. I also would have prefer'd it if Banjo Kazooie: N&B were an open-world platformer. I've always had a soft spot for the Sly Raccoon, Jak and Daxter and Ratchet series ;)  "
How is Nuts and Bolts not an open world? Seems pretty damn open to me. Also an amazing game that's probably almost on par with Galaxy. "
Yes, but arguably N&B isn't really a platformer.  The days when we couldn't describe what the fuck a game was so we called it a platformer are over, the only problem is, who the fuck knows what to classify N&B as? Sandbox game? Puzzle game? Platformer? All of the above?
 
So N&B becomes an open-ended puzzle platformer.
Posted by Jost1
@Shotaro said:
" @josty81 said:
" @mylifeforAiur said:
" Great loooong blog. I also would have prefer'd it if Banjo Kazooie: N&B were an open-world platformer. I've always had a soft spot for the Sly Raccoon, Jak and Daxter and Ratchet series ;)  "
How is Nuts and Bolts not an open world? Seems pretty damn open to me. Also an amazing game that's probably almost on par with Galaxy. "
Yes, but arguably N&B isn't really a platformer.  The days when we couldn't describe what the fuck a game was so we called it a platformer are over, the only problem is, who the fuck knows what to classify N&B as? Sandbox game? Puzzle game? Platformer? All of the above?  So N&B becomes an open-ended puzzle platformer. "
Fair enough!  All I know is that it's a great game.
Edited by blazerx9x
@EvilConker:
I don`t have a 360 : (
Posted by davidwitten22

Awesome blog. Back when my console of choice was an N64 I loved the Banjo Kazooie series, and even Donkey Kong 64(which was really similar to Super Mario 64, just with monkeys). I forgot how complex these games could be and what hoops you had to jump through to do stuff. Ratchet and Clank is my platformer of choice now, but that game is REALLY linear. I love it, but there is 0 open-ness to it.

Posted by TaliciaDragonsong

I loved the picture comments :X
 
Also, I agree! I miss the times where you could banter around aimless or clueless where to go, a real adventure!

Posted by EvilConker
@josty81 said:
" @Shotaro said:
" @josty81 said:
" @mylifeforAiur said:
" Great loooong blog. I also would have prefer'd it if Banjo Kazooie: N&B were an open-world platformer. I've always had a soft spot for the Sly Raccoon, Jak and Daxter and Ratchet series ;)  "
How is Nuts and Bolts not an open world? Seems pretty damn open to me. Also an amazing game that's probably almost on par with Galaxy. "
Yes, but arguably N&B isn't really a platformer.  The days when we couldn't describe what the fuck a game was so we called it a platformer are over, the only problem is, who the fuck knows what to classify N&B as? Sandbox game? Puzzle game? Platformer? All of the above?  So N&B becomes an open-ended puzzle platformer. "
Fair enough!  All I know is that it's a great game. "
For the record, I never said it wasn't a good game.
It's just not the game I want.
Imagine if N&B WAS an actual platformer like the good old days?
I mean, it had a plot suitable for a platformer, and so were the worlds.
 
@blazerx9x:
Then go find yourself an N64.
Posted by SuperfluousMoniker

It sounds backwards, but I like a little linearity in my games, and platformers are a genre that benefits from structure in my humble opinion. While the level structure of Galaxy 1 and 2 is more, well, structured, that doesn't make the individual stars that much less linear than the ones in 64 or Sunshine. Most of them are at the end of some kind of platforming challenge or tucked in a secluded corner.   

That hasn't really changed with the Galaxy games, it's just that instead of dumping you in an open area and asking you to find the path, they just put you on the path when you pick the star you want to try. Other than that, the main difference is in the 'filler' stars, which were red coin/blue coin/100 coin collectathons back then and are prankster comet challenges now. Again, I'd rather be put on a path and need to complete a specific objective than told 'Find the hidden stuff in this big area.' Finding hidden stuff is always better when you aren't necessarily looking for it. I do plenty of that in RPGs. When I play Mario, I'd rather be trying to jump on all those enemies without touching the ground or run through a gauntlet of tricky jumps than explore the environment.
 
I guess where you see a loss of freedom, I see a more streamlined experience. I never played Spyro and spent very little time with Banjo, so I suppose I technically don't have much experience with open 3d platformers. But the Mario games that fit the description were the ones I found to be the weakest in the series, so I'm glad they're moving away from the style.

Posted by Meowayne
@EvilConker said:
" But my inner gamer wants it to be different... It wants an open ended platformer. "

Have you tried De Blob? Sequel is on the way, btw.

Posted by Dan_CiTi

Super Mmario Sunshine felt more open to me than 64, but oh well. 64 is maybe the worst thing ever made, in fact I almost killed myself because someone made me play it, but then they said they were joking and laughed and I OF COURSE DID NOT FIND THAT FUNNY WHATSOEVER!!! so I fucking killed that mothafucka. Oh and I told him to eat a dick straight up too. Man fuck dis I'm going back to my StarCraft 64 tourney. 

Posted by EvilConker
@SuperfluousMoniker: I do think that Mario never could nail it like Banjo did, but I still think instead of shelving the concept completely, they should've tried to expand on it.
 
Instead of forcing you on a set path, just point the direction a bit.
Edited by Icemael

Super Mario 64 was a bunch of linear levels thrown into open areas. If it was an exploratory experience in the vein of the metroidvania games or Bethesda's RPGs, I could see where you were coming from, but the only real difference between Mario 64 and Mario Galaxy 2 is that one has you choose levels from a map screen, while the other has you choose levels by physically running between them.

Posted by MjHealy

As someone who played Mario 64 about ten years after it came out, I must say that I really don't like. The controls infuriate me. The camera is just incredibly tight and barely moves to where you want it too move. Granted, I have never played it on a N64 but I feel like I'm still missing something. Everyone loves Mario 64. I respect, but I don't love it.

Posted by EvilConker
@Icemael: Meh, I used it as a basis for the genre as a whole.
There have been more open platformers then Super Mario 64, but yes, it is the father of the genre, and yes, until Super Mario Galaxy 2, it was the last one left.
Posted by spankingaddict

oooo....platformers..... i wish there would be more of em this generation :(

Posted by Supermarius

at this point, blaming nebulous "causal gamers" for all the sins of the videogame industry is like blaming the Jews for everything that was bad in the 1920's. There's no perfect scapegoat who is the source of every trend you hate and its simplistic to think that there is. I dont like seeing videogame enthusiasts act like 21st century e-bigots.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

I blame Donkey Kong 64. That game is, by far, the most open of open 3D platformers with its gigantic levels and 5 characters, to the point that it was too much. Other than that though, it's not really something I especially miss. I got the first Banjo-Kazooie when it came out on live arcade, 100%ed it in 6 hours and that was that.

Posted by rjayb89

Dude what, where did you get that sweet suit jacket for Banjo?

Posted by hedfone
@secretagent099 said:
" woah nice blog "
Posted by Raven10

Interesting blog. Personally I don't like 3D platformers nearly as much as 2D ones. I actually like the 3D ones when they are more linear. I do think you should be able to get any of the stars or what have you when you enter a level. Jak and Daxter and Sly Cooper did it really well last generation. Something like Conker I felt was just too open ended. I never even finished the game. I like a bit more direction than what Rare offered. So in between some Rare games and what you say SMG2 is, is what I like. Personally I enjoy 2D platformers the most. They are more simple, but they are addictive. I loved New Super Mario Brothers Wii, and thought that Galaxy was good but not great. I haven't played Galaxy 2 yet.
Posted by Video_Game_King

Yea, pretty good blog, even if it was so long that I didn't read all of it (I did read quite a bit, though). On the parts I didn't read, let me say this: why does Spyro look so damn ugly?

Posted by Akrid

  The two types of game can coexist, the linearity of Galaxy lends itself to creativity because the designer doesn't have to follow through on an idea and integrate it into a larger world. On the flip side this takes away from the sense of immersion and freedom you get in 64/sunshine. I suspect the latter is much more difficult to implement as well. 
 
In the old games, Even in a varied franchise like Mario there is a great amount of effort put into making a level a unified idea as opposed to a random assortment. It isn't as conducive to creative thinking if you're stuck on what can fit in a specified area as opposed to focusing on making a compelling gameplay mechanic.
 
Personally I find the 64/Sunshine modus operandi much more compelling, but you have to ask if it is even possible for it to be implemented appropriately in this day and age, and to the level of perfection that was acheived with 64. Movies cannot be replicated; there is no possible way for a person today to recreate a movie from say the 1950's to a degree where you would actually believe that the movie came out 60 years ago, provided you have a decent standard to judge it against. They may get the equipment right, but it's impossible to recreate the unified mindset that was present at the time across the entire cast and crew. The very idea of what an actor was was completely different. I believe the same applies to video games. They are a product of an era that cannot be replicated.

Posted by zingote

The same thing happened with the Donkey Kong series. On the SNES we had the Country Trilogy which was linear then we got DK64, probably hte most open platformer ever and now we're back to the 2d ones with Bongo Blast and the DKC Returns. 
 
As much as I loved the 2d platformers I'd prefer if they made a sequel to DK64.

Posted by fullmetalbelmont

You bring up some good points. I could never quite place why I wasn't as astounded by Galaxy 2 as everyone else seemed to be and I think this is why.

Posted by Kjellm87

  I leave this to the experts
fans do not always know what they want .

If people had to find the stars themselves in an open area today , I'm sure
that people would complain about it .
 
 Personally I wouldn't have minded it  though.

Posted by TeflonBilly
@EvilConker said:


 

 Forget Power Stars! This is the "New" Face of Progress!

  "
If you want a picture of the future, imagine a plumber, sliding down a flagpole — forever.    
Posted by Hailinel
@drag said:
" The Mario games using weird rather out-dated design approaches has confused me for a while.  Mostly the thing where you go into a level and then you have to choose from a list (or just go through them one by one) which star you want to go for. Then the level will change a bit to open up the path to whichever star you chose. That's always seems weird to me ... why not just open all the paths up at once and let you choose where to go?  "
Scripting issues, mainly.  In coding, it's easier to set up for one task at a time than to throw in the kitchen sink.  If you wanted to allow for the collection of any star upon stage entry, you'd have more variables to keep track of, and with more variables comes a greater risk of bugs and glitches.  You have to ensure that following the path to one star, and then stopping midway and pursuing another, doesn't somehow deny access to both, or worse yet, all stars in the stage.
 
Simply put, it's far easier to force the player to select a star to go for.
Posted by ImHungry

Reading this is making me want to go back and play Banjo Tooie again

Posted by Little_Socrates

I'm sure that it'll return someday all the same. Consumer desires change throughout the years, and I'm sure we'll see a focus on open worlds over linearity again some day. It might be a long road, but we'll see it. 
 
I'll personally be kind of bummed out, though, as the only open worlds I still like are SM64 and Banjo Tooie.

Posted by DekuSword

Dude, great blog!
And I completely agree with you. In fact the Nintendo 64 is my favourite console to this day mainly because of the amazing experiences I had as a kid playing Mario 64, Banjo Kazooie/Tooie, and Donkey Kong 64.
The open 3D platformer is probably one of my favorite genres, and has been wiped off the radar since the start of PS2/GCN/Xbox generation :(

Posted by vinsanityv22

I just found this blog (it's halfway thru 2012 when I'm reading this), but I just gotta say. I know what you're talking about and I feel ya. But dude, play Disney's Epic Mickey. Feels like a properly contemporized Rare/N64-era 3D platformer...actually, the camera still feels like it's from '98 ;) But this year, Epic Mickey 2 is coming out for all consoles, has a better camera - that franchise (and perhaps Sly Cooper...although it doesn't feel quite as exploration focused for some reason) gets it. And nails the feeling.