Straying from what is now the conventional attributes of game such as complex graphics, sophisticated gameplay, and a story-driven, choice-making plot, we land into a gaming world of absolute simplicity – one that some of the newer generation gamers haven’t explored, and one that the older gamers cherished and still remember.
This is the gaming world of side-scrolling games, which were fun, enchanting, addictive, and memorable. For a long time the gaming industry had been deprived of this golden old concept of gaming, and the hot genres became that of shooters, action/adventures with some shooting, RPG games with some shooting, MMO strategy games, and hack-and-slash RPG games. For nearly a decade these game genres dominated the gaming market, and every gamer turned towards them. It seemed that those simple, side-scrollers that were simply meant to offer enjoyment and challenge were long gone.
But in the past couple of years, developers have started to realize that there is a subtle beauty in simplicity – one that cannot be attained in the more complex genres mentioned above. That is when we started getting glimpses of simple yet oh-so-clever games like LittleBigPlanet, Super Meat Boy, LIMBO, Rayman Origins, Trine, and now Trine 2.
These platform side-scrollers have gotten much love, though they certainly deserve more. Of these few, LittleBigPlanet, LIMBO, Super Meat Boy, and Trine 2 are worth mentioning separately, because they truly stand out, and are hopefully the pioneers of a mass reboot of the entire genre of platform side-scrolling games.
Obviously, there will always be a massive difference between the platform games of now and the platform games of the early/mid 90s. But the differences are advantageous; games can be more expressive with their graphics and design, while still maintaing the vintage retro-styled simplicity and elegance.
Trine 2 is a great example of this, with a modern engine that highlights the beauty of the world with the lush greenery, convincing mechanics, and witty animations. Alongside graphics, it also keeps an individual thinking with its witty puzzles that are challenging, but not impossible.
But the more concerning part of these titles is how they lack a story captivating enough to see them through a way other than that of a casual eye. None of the above mentioned games has a story that is compelling enough to keep one going. LIMBO had something in it that was both dark and attractive, but there was no story progression till the very end – it only kept one hypnotized by its eerie yet beautiful environment and brilliant sound effects.
It is true that engraving a convincing story in a one-directional game is a little hard, but a method has to be found to make these games stand even with the bigger titles, because they really should. Games are about fun and addiction, perhaps with a clever ingredient of ‘learning’ added in them. These platformers offer all that; they just need better marketing, better advertising, and need to be taken more seriously from a developer’s perspective.
I truly hope that for the sake of simplicity itself, we do get the opportunity to see a gaming era re-ornamented with this jewel of a genre, which has been so unrightfully ignored and termed as obsolete. It is not obsolete, because it is one of the purest forms of gaming, and purity can never become out-dated.