Crash Bandicoot has been one of the most iconic platforming characters since 1998 when the furry orange critter appeared on Sony’s original PlayStation. More than twenty years later, Crash continues to remain relevant to the gaming scene, with new sequel Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time due to hit shelves and online stores this October. Needless to say, fans are excited – and we can happily forget about Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex now.
But waiting is always a pain. While the game is less than two months away, for the dedicated platforming nut, it might feel longer. Which is why we have concocted this list of five brilliant platformers you can play while waiting for Naughty Dog’s mascot to return. And in the hard times we’re going through, we could use all the light-hearted, colourful fun we can get, right?
Spyro Reignited Trilogy (PS4, Xbox One, Windows, 2019)
Were you expecting this one? In the PS1’s heyday, Spyro was one of the most recognizable platforming critters alongside Crash himself. But alas, time moves on and those blocky polygons and rough textures were showing their age by the time 2019 came around. Thank goodness for Toys For Bob then, who *ahem* reignited the gem-collecting, flame-breathing franchise with this collection of quality remasters.
The magic of Spyro: Reignited lies in the way they’ve been brought so wonderfully into the modern age, with breathtaking visuals, an updated soundtrack and a far more consistent frame rate than the originals. The various powers Spyro can use to proceed including gliding, climbing and swimming give some nice variety to the trilogy as does its heartwarming cast of lovable fantasy characters. And with three games in this package, that’s more than enough to keep you going until Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time hits the shelves.
Sonic Generations (PS3, Xbox 360, Windows, 2011)
When it comes to Sonic’s 3D career, the little blue hedgehog has had this fair share of ups and downs. Depending on who you ask, more ‘downs’ than ‘ups’. But one thing many agree on – that Sonic Generations is among Sonic’s best 3D adventures.
Featuring levels chosen by Sonic’s ever-passionate fandom, Generations is a love letter to the spiky critter, featuring both ‘2D Classic’ Sonic and ‘3D Modern Sonic’ levels. Taken from the first 20 years of his career, players will find themselves racing through the likes of Sonic 1’s Green Hill Zone, Sonic Adventure’s Emerald Cost and Sonic Adventure 2’s City Escape. Each level brings out the best in the Blue Blur, with multiple pathways, collectables and missions encouraging playability.
If Sonic Mania was the perfect culmination of his 2D days, then Generations is exactly that to his 3D era. And if you’re looking for a little speed with your 3D platforming, you’ll seldom do better than this.
Super Mario Sunshine (GameCube, 2002)
Like Crash, Mario is a colorful, comedic platforming hero. Also like Crash, Mario has had to rely on additional technology to help him on his adventures from time to time. Thus, with that said, we head to 2002’s excellent Super Mario Sunshine, which oozes as much charm and creativity from its disc as it does the goop from its unusual in-game adversaries.
The premise is this: Mario goes on vacation to Isle Delfino but is framed by an imposter Mario who is encasing large parts of the seaside resort in slime. The townspeople charge him to clean up the city with his newfound buddy, FLUDD (developed by Luigi’s Mansion’s very own Professor E. Gadd). You must then explore Isle Delfino, taking on various goop monsters and unravelling the mystery behind its goop problem.
The beauty of this game is in its absurd fun. Not only can FLUDD be used to clean up the mess and take on enemies, but it can also be used as a hover-pack, speed booster and rocket-jump pack. The game design excellently accommodates this, with enemies and puzzles requiring you to use FLUDD in inventive ways to proceed. Mario Sunshine is one of the most creative platformers you’ll play – get on it as soon as you can.
Rayman 2: Revolution (PS2, 2000)
Trivia: Rayman 2 was originally conceived as a traditional 2D platformer in the same vein as the original hit game. But alas, according to game designer Michel Ancel, publishers weren’t interested in another 2D game – 3D was becoming all the rage. That demand for 3D was partly responsible for what gave us the Rayman 2 we know and love today.
Rayman 2: Revolution is, tonally, the darkest in the franchise, yet it still remains a joy to play. Featuring an interconnected hubworld, players must use Rayman’s unique anatomy – his fist-throwing, helicopter hair and agility – to traverse a dark fairytale world and defeat a group of ruthless pirates who have enslaved the limbless wonder’s homeworld.
It’s not all doom and gloom however, as the game features the first appearance of Globox, Rayman’s best friend, Clark and Betilla the Fairy adding a charming quirkiness to proceedings. That, alongside fluid gameplay, challenging levels and bosses only strengthens the urge to recommend this stellar game.
Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (PS2, PS3, PS4 2000)
And the most Crash Bandicoot-like platformer to grace this list? Duh-duh-duh-duh-DUH! It’s Naughty Dog’s very own Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy.
The first Jak & Daxter exudes color and humor at every turn, with its graphics arguably as incredible as they were when the game first released. Notable at the time for featuring a huge interconnected world without loading screens (this was really a novelty at the time), the game offers an open-world fantasy platforming experience that encourages exploration while presenting you with a challenges and puzzles to solve in each area.
The game is also notable for having lovable characters, brought to life by a brilliant voice cast. Max Casela’s performance as Daxter is particularly outstanding and gives an almost Pixar-like quality to the game’s overall presentation.