I finally have an excuse to write about my favorite genre! Hopefully I make a compelling case for why you should check the genre out, all while being honest about its pitfalls. As always, thanks for reading.
飞艇群二维码平台Any entertainment form has its hit genres, and gaming is no different. First person shooters, sports simulations, and action adventure titles are some of the biggest gaming has to offer, which pull in millions upon millions of gamers every single year. Then there are other genres that will woo major success from time to time, but usually hang just outside of the "average" gamer's view. Work your way down the genre list even further to find game types that had critical/commercial success at some point, but never hit constant mainstream attention. That's where the cinematic platformer comes in.
飞艇群二维码平台Cinematic platformers are obviously a subset of platformers in general, but what sets them apart? It's honestly quite hard to boil things down, but I believe there's a few elements that can be found in nearly all examples of the genre. Cinematic platformers tend to focus on a realistic approach to animation and mechanics as compared to traditional platformers. Take a game like Super Mario Bros., where character movements are exaggerated, you have a set amount of lives, and controls are spot-on. A cinematic platformer gives you a character that moves extremely realistically, you have unlimited lives/continues, and controls are at odds with the animation.
There are some other elements that you usually find in cinematic platformers that aren't often a part of traditional platformers. It's quite common to see fleshed-out storylines in cinematic platformers, as well as a focus on solving environmental puzzles. Cinematic platformers are much more focused on a slower pace and thinking things out than traditional platformers, which require on-the-fly maneuvers and twitch skills.
While there are no doubt thousands of traditional platformers on the market, cinematic platformers are far less abundant. Truth be told, after skimming various catalogs of game releases, it seems there are less than 50 cinematic platformers in total! There may be some titles that kind of blur the lines between cinematic platformers and other genres, but tried-and-true cinematic platformers are hard to come by.
飞艇群二维码平台When you take a step back and analyze the hallmarks of a cinematic platformer, you can see why it's not exactly gaming's most popular genre. Cinematic platformers are usually tough as nails, and require an absolute ton of trial and error. That process of trying and retrying areas to get things right is all about puzzle solving; learning what you can and can't do in order to achieve your goal. Sometimes it's an environmental puzzle, and other times it's a series of specific jumps and dodges you need to do to avoid incoming attacks. Without a doubt, cinematic platformers require you to have a ton of patience.
飞艇群二维码平台As mentioned earlier, cinematic platformers also put a big focus on character animation, but this comes at the cost of player input. Characters will move in an extremely realistic manner, which comes from painstaking animation processes. Some developers animate their characters by hand frame-by-frame, which takes countless hours, but the results give you something gorgeous. Other developers use rotoscoping techniques, which also result in lifelike movement. Rotoscoping is the act of filming a person or item moving about in the real world, and then taking that footage and tracing over it to get an in-game animation. Either approach gives absolutely fluid and gorgeous results, but the player is often stuck watching animations play out, meaning they can't adjust character movement/input at any given second. Again, this leads to frustration for players who are used to the stop-on-a-dime controls of traditional platformers.
If you've never played a cinematic platformer, reading a description of the genre makes it seem absolutely abysmal from a gameplay perspective. It just sounds like a platformer that plays worse and frustrates you more! Who in the world would want that?! It's certainly true that those aspects are part of the genre, but cinematic platformers have something else going for them that traditional platformers rarely do. Those elements also tie into the 'cinematic' part of the genre name.
Cinematic platformers are always telling a story through gameplay. Again, let's take a look at Super Mario Bros.. From the beginning to the end, you're running and jumping through the Mushroom Kingdom. While the game is a blast, it's not exactly an achievement in engaging storytelling. Cinematic platformers take great interest in telling a story through the locations, character movements, and animation in general. All of these come together to build a universe that feels alive, and creates a connection with the player that goes beyond the average platformer.
飞艇群二维码平台Cinematic platformers actually have something in common with classic cartoons. There was an age where cartoons spoke to the viewer through the use of music and animation, and there was very little in the way of actual dialog. The way these elements were woven together to create a story was pretty amazing, and cinematic platformers continue that tradition. While cinematic platformers do dabble with bits of dialog from time to time, more often than not, the game itself is doing the speaking. You feel emotions from watching the realistic animations of the characters, running through the lush environments, and piecing together the story as you solve puzzles and adventure on.
The world of cinematic platformers is also a genre steeped deep in mystery. More often than not, you're thrown into a situation where you have no idea what's going on. You know very little about the main character, you have no idea where you are, and you don't a clue as to what to do. It's this mystery that frustrates some players, yet compels others. Figuring out how gameplay mechanics work without hints helps build a better connection with the game. Learning about the rules of a universe by playing gets you closer to the action. The trail of breadcrumbs with the story keeps you intrigued with every step you take. It's all about making it a little further, seeing a bit more, and learning what's going on behind the scenes.
While there may not be many cinematic platformers available, there are actually quite a few within that small pool that have become big names, if not major achievements for the game industry. Titles like Prince of Persia, Out of This World, Flashback, Oddworld, Limbo, and Inside have garnered major praise throughout the years, and continue to woo players. Prince of Persia and Out of this World were amazing technical achievements for gaming, Flashback took stories in the genre to the next level, Oddworld gave cinematic platformers an entire universe to play with, and Limbo/Outside raised the bar for the genre as a whole. These are the best of the best when it comes to the genre, but there are countless others worth your time.
飞艇群二维码平台I know cinematic platformers will never be a truly huge genre. I don't even think they'll ever be a 'big' genre, and that's okay. While I would love to see them get a bit more love, I think the genre asks a lot of the player. They require patience, time, and a bit of obtuse thinking, and I completely see why some people have no interest in that. That said, for those who are willing to try something new, there's some unbelievable worlds waiting, and all it takes it one positive experience in the genre to make a lifelong fan.
The Switch is a perfect platform to get a fantastic cinematic platforming fix. The platform plays host to Inside, Limbo, Oddworld, The Way Remastered, Flashback, Out of This World/Another World, Stela, Ministry of Broadcast, and next week, The Eternal Castle: Remastered. Some of the best of the best in the cinematic platformer genre is just one click away on the eShop, and cheaper than they've ever been. If you're willing to give something new a try and experience a genre that dares to do things differently, your Switch is a fantastic gateway.
There's a reason why the cinematic platformer genre continues to this day, even if the output is somewhat slow. These titles resonate with a certain group of players, and the experiences created stick in the minds of those players for years to come. You could be just one game away from your new favorite genre.