I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic when I say this, but this upcoming stretch might be the last hope for the 3D Platformer.
3D Platformers might be my all time favorite genre in gaming. I grew up playing the hell out of Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon and however many other games I used to pick up at the rental store but ever since the PS2/Xbox/GameCube era ended, 3D platformers have gone the way of the dinosaur. The only real exception here are the 3D Super Mario games but that’s about it.
I’ve been waiting what feels like forever for this genre to pick itself back up off the ground and at least try to revive itself. Series like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon and Banjoe-Kazooie tried to keep growing into the new eras and they all lost steam pretty quickly or had to completely change their identity to survive (Spyro turned into a devil frog in Skylanders). There’s no question that the genre was plagued with issues and the games were never quite polished enough but they were always insanely fun, which leaves me puzzled as to why they totally died out. Maybe people just don’t like collectathon games anymore or maybe those games were just a hell of a lot worse than I remember. Regardless of the reason that the genre died out, it could be making a comeback.
This week, Yooka-Laylee, the spiritual successor to Banjo Kazooie, launches a couple years after its overwhelmingly positive Kickstarter campaign began. The review embargo lifted last week and the response has been mixed. Some praised the nostalgia and others criticized dated mechanics. It’ll be tough to get a grasp on how good or bad Yooka-Laylee is until we actually get our hands on it tomorrow but either way, it’s the first step in the process. At the very least, Yooka-Laylee will get the ball rolling on the 3D Platformers.
In a couple months, the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy releases on Playstation 4; the original Crash Bandicoot trilogy, completely remastered and built from the ground up. This is really where the direction of the genre is going to be determined. Fans of the series have been clamoring for a new Crash Bandicoot title or a remaster for some time now. If Yooka-Laylee goes over well and Crash Bandicoot returns with a vengeance, the genre might have some life. It also kinda helps that Super Mario Odyssey also releases later this year.
Me personally, the original Spyro the Dragon trilogy is my all time favorite game and I would probably murder another human being for a trilogy remaster so I’m going to be praying my ass off that this genre kicks back into gear. If Crash goes over well, maybe my little purple dragon will find some light at the end of the tunnel.