Playtonic’s love letter to the golden age of 3D platformers, Yooka–Laylee, was released recently. It seeks to recapture the popularity and imagination of the genre that lead the way in game development in the late 90s and early 2000s. With its whimsical music and colorful characters. It got us thinking about the best platforming playgrounds that came before it.
Our Five Favorite 3D Platformers
Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil
Platformers were once as prevalent as first-person shooters are today. With so many games, it was common for amazing games to never receive the credit they deserved. Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil was such a title. The Klonoa series follows the titular Dream Traveler, a being destined to travel to worlds where dreams are in trouble. Klonoa relies on simple platforming, using his enemies as springboards and projectiles to progress through each level. Though it was never too challenging, the dream-like worlds, fun activities, and Final Fantasy-like story made it gold.
Ratchet and Clank (PS4)
Ratchet & Clank, the dynamic duo of delightful destruction, have consistently delivered quality. Their years of training as Galactic Rangers fully paid off in the 2016 revamp. The game is retelling of the original, but drew from all the best parts of the series. Precise controls are paired with imaginative weapons that toe the line between creative and crazy. Ratchet & Clank is the only game with guns and mass carnage that’s fun for the whole family. They made running, jumping, and swimming as addictive as making things go boom.
Super Mario 64
This game literally defined the 3D platforming genre. The other games on this list couldn’t exist without this title paving the way. With controls so tight it puts modern games to shame, Super Mario 64 made us question what video games and their worlds were capable of. Creative worlds, never-ending iconic music, and being genuinely fun to play are a few things that make it a timeless classic. There isn’t much to say about this game that hasn’t been said already.
Super Mario 64 laid the groundwork and defined the genre, but Banjo-Kazooie fine-tuned it. One of gaming’s most iconic duos, the bear and bird combo, were platforming nirvana. The game added a new twist and gameplay mechanics with each new world you visited. Instead of improving on a base set of abilities, the player was constantly given new ones, changing the approach to gameplay and exploration. Everything from shapeshifting into different animals to farting out eggs was fair game. Did I mention it made the xylophone sexy again?
Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy
Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock once said, “It takes two to make things go right. It takes two to make it outta sight.” It also takes two to make a great platformer. Naughty Dog has a knack for creating special universes, and Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is no exception. Most platformers were light on story and just provided colorful environments with cool music to vibe out to as you explored. Jak and Daxter offered much more than that. Compelling stories coupled with well developed characters were usually saved for other genres, yet Naughty Dog took the best of the game industry and created a unique platformer. With high production values, a challenging journey, and an iconic ottsel, few games before or since have been able to master the genre like Jak and Daxter.
That was a look back at the great games of yesteryear that helped make gaming what it is today no matter the genre. Do you hate or love us after seeing our list? If you want to make your voice heard make sure to leave us a comment.