From The Armchair: Platformer Purge

ArmchairAfter realising the other week that actually I don’t really like 2D platformers very much, no matter their illustrious provenance, I decided it would be a good time to have a bit of a clear out of the games cupboard… ahem, I mean The Mantelpiece.

First for the eBay pile was New Super Mario Bros. U, a game that I feel like I should really love, but that in fact elicits little more than a shoulder shrug on the few occasions I play it. I bought it on launch day at the same time I got my Wii U, and I wasn’t that impressed then – three and a half years on, I’ve barely gone back to it, and my opinion hasn’t changed. As I said in my post the other day, it just feels like the 2D platformer has been done to death, and it has to take a really novel idea to get me interested in playing through another one. (Interestingly though, I loved Super Mario 3D World and the Galaxy games – clearly my platformer apathy is confined to two dimensions.)

While I was feeling ruthless, I decided to get rid of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U as well. I had a blast with the game when it first arrived back in December 2014, but I haven’t been back to it since then, except for taking it along to Ian’s stag do last year, where it went down like a lead balloon as everyone tried to work out what the hell was going on. I think the Smash Bros. games tend to appeal more to people who’ve grown up playing them against mates and tend to play that way now – I, on the other hand, only played my first Smash Bros. game as an adult (all my mates were into Street Fighter II back in the day), and the few times I’ve tried to introduce people to the game have met with disaster.

Which one am I again?
Which one am I again?

It’s got me wondering whether the Smash games are actually any good. I enjoyed my brief time with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, but I realised that was mostly for nostalgia reasons, as I gathered trophies of gaming heroes from my childhood and played through levels from my favourite SNES games. In terms of the actual gameplay though… well, it all feels a bit floaty, confusing, repetitive and, above all, unfair. In multiplayer there’s just so much happening on screen at one time that it can be difficult to even pick out your character, so it’s no wonder that my friends were left confused. Whereas SFII offers tense, constricted matches that come down to split-second skill, Smash Bros. just seems to be free-floating chaos.

Admittedly, I am quite shit at it. But I also don’t have the patience or interest to put in the hours to get good. And while writing this, I’ve just realised that I get far more excited about the Smash Bros. amiibo than the game itself.

Anyway, while we’re here, I might as well mention a few more games that I’ve given up on after realising that I don’t actually like them very much. Kirby’s Adventure on the Wii U Virtual Console is naturally top of the list, for obvious reasons, i.e.: 2D PLATFORMER = NOT THAT BOTHERED. I’m also tempted to give up on Child of Light, which I picked up in the eShop anniversary sale just a couple of weeks ago. Despite my known apathy towards 2D platforming, I thought I’d give the game a go because it looks so gosh darn beautiful – and because technically you’re flying so it’s not really a platformer. But after just half an hour I could feel my willingness to play gradually slip away as the same old platforms and puzzles reared their ugly heads…

But... But it's so pretty!
But… But it’s so pretty!

Aero Porter is a fun little 3DS puzzler that has you sorting out airport baggage carousels, of all things. It starts off brilliantly, and I found myself drawn in as the puzzling gets more and more complex. But I hit a massive wall several levels in, when suddenly it got excruciatingly hard and I just couldn’t get any further. Shame really, it’s a really neat idea for a game, but the difficulty curve needs some serious tweaking.

NES Remix is a fantastic idea for a game, and I’ve had hours of fun playing through snippets of 8-bit classics. Most of these games would be an utter chore to play through on their own, but in 10-second chunks they are wonderfully addictive. Having said that, Mario Bros. is still utterly awful, and is far surpassed by Super Mario Bros. – I’m sure the only reason it appears in this compilation is because of the name, as even 10 seconds of it is 10 seconds too much. NES Remix 2 is just as good as the first game, but I’ve pretty much run out of steam with both of them now – now hurry up and do a SNES Remix, Nintendo.

Scenes like this are what make NES Remix such great fun.
Scenes like this are what make NES Remix such great fun.

Finally, Swords and Soldiers for Wii U is a conversion of a smartphone game that received glowing reviews on its Wii U debut, but that I’ve struggled to love. The game’s humour is great, and I like the art style, but the gameplay just seems to involve furious tapping and scrolling, and not much in the way of real strategy. It’s not a patch on the wonderful Plants vs. Zombies, for example, and I found my interest waning to zero about a third of the way through.

And on that note, which games have failed to hold your interest for the full furlong?

Ninja monkeys! Oh you guys.
Ninja monkeys! Oh you guys.


  1. Interesting! I think Telltale games are quite a different beast from the adventure games of old, though. I never finished their version of Sam and Max, even though I loved the original.

    I thought The Walking Dead and in particular The Wolf Among Us were brilliant, mostly thanks to the story. Essentially they’re just a TV series that you click through and have some modicum of control over, but sometimes that’s exactly what I want when it’s time to unwind at the end of a long day – and they’re some of the few games that my partner has been interested in too.

    What do you think it is about them that turns you off?

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