The Future of Platformers: Looking Forward At Portal 2, LittleBigPlanet 2 And More


Posted December 28, 2010 - By MonfetteG4

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The Future of Platformers: Looking Forward At Portal 2, Disney Epic Mickey, LittleBigPlanet 2 And More

We looked to the future as part of Epictober back in, er ... October, but suffice it to say, we're still looking forward to 2011. We've updated these posts with the games that were announced since then, and here's what you can start looking forward to in 2011 and beyond. Just as a friendly reminder, 2011 starts in less than a week. So start your anticipating right now.

It’s a good time for platformers. Old school XBLA/PSN redo’s and next-gen, grand-scale adventures are filling our calendars with little beacons of side-scrolling hope over the next few weeks and months. As FPS titles and third-person action/stealth games continue to dominate the market -- spreading a vague sense of sameness from game-to-game -- the classic platformer is rapidly evolving and adapting for modern audiences. 

Pulled from 1980s ooze by new millennia nostalgia, the next-gen platformer is still a fledging property, still trying to carve out its niche while paying homage to its roots. Kept alive largely by handheld consoles like the Nintendo DS, it’s been a tricky road attempting to translate the plat-formula into this console era, and services like Xbox Live and PSN have certainly provided an excellent arena in which to re-release and re-imagine our favorites. 

But which games are likely to propel the trend forward and keep the torch lit as we move steadily from left to right? And which of the upcoming titles will introduce the idea that’ll keep platformers on the radar for years to come? We looked ahead into the next few months to bring back a sense of which platform titles you should be watching…

LittleBigPlanet 2
Release Date: January 18, 2011

Sure, the original LittleBigPlanet is a play on the traditional platformer, and so is the upcoming sequel…but only if you want it to be. With all the new user-creation modes, the ability to transform this loveable Sackboy adventure into an RTS, an FPS or an arcade-style shooter – hell, pretty much any genre you could take the time to re-create – is poised to make LittleBigPlanet 2 into the ultimate meta-game.

Thankfully, however, all the familiar side-scrolling whimsy of the first title returns for the single-player campaign in the sequel…with just a few splashes of extra-genre creativity to keep things interesting. Regardless, we can’t wait to explore one of the cutest damn worlds in all of gaming, and hopefully we can overcome our epic laziness in order to build a few levels of our own. And add to this latest announcement that our Sackboys can now use a grapple gun, and we're there.

Defining Feature: Adorable little Sackboys in fully customizable levels of any conceivable genre? Yes, please!

LittleBigPlanet 2 Save The Universe Gamescom 2010 Trailer »

Mega Man Universe
Release Date: Unknown 2011

Your world. Megaifed…Mega Man Universe is everything you'd expect from a Mega Man game. In fact, it's not just what you'd expect, it's what you've played before. The core of the game will be a re-imagined Mega Man 2. Stages from Mega Man 2 are being recreated in this new, crisper art style.

This doesn't mean you'll be playing Mega Man 2 all over again though. You'll have the ability to customize these stages however you want. The level of creativity you want to express is up to you. Leave the stage alone and play through as is, tweak it slightly or even start from scratch. It's your call. Players will be able to trade their customized levels with their friends online. Mega Man Universe will also have guest appearances by other Capcom stars. Early trailers indicate Street Fighter's Ryu and Ghost 'n Goblins' Arthur will be playable but we're not sure at this time since the game is still in its early stages of development. If you have any doubts that this game will be able to deliver in the way previous titles did rest assured, there are many members from the original Mega Man 1 and 2 team working on this title. Don't get too excited for this game though, development just started this past May.

Defining Feature: Now we finally have the freedom to make Mega Man even more difficult and insane! Oh, wait…Did we ever ask for that?

Mega Man Universe Gameplay Teaser Trailer »


Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One
Release Date: Late 2011

Insomniac has been slaving away on another installment in the Ratchet & Clank franchise. This time they've got something new up their sleeves with Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One. It will be the first in the series to offer up to 4-player co-op. The co-op will support online/offline, drop-in/drop-out gameplay.

Gamers will be able to jump and kick through the Ratchet Universe as Ratchet, Clank, Captain Qwark and Nefarious. These characters don't always get along and have different personalities so you can bet the humor you’re used to will be prevalent. Like a typical platformer the levels will have plenty to explore but unlike some platformers you have to rely heavily on your teammates. This game is definitely about cooperative play. Even the weapons, like the elasta shock need two players to properly use. 

Defining Feature: Ratchet and Clank in co-op! 'Nuff said!

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One PAX 2010 Demo »


Bionic Commando Rearmed 2
Release Date: February 28, 2011

By now, Bionic Commando has been invented, re-invented and re-imagined to the point where swinging gleefully from one platform to another is now an obvious genre staple. Which is why we were thrilled when the original title was revamped for XBLA in all its high-def, left-to-right glory, and it’s the same reason why we can’t wait to play the newest, wholly original adventure in the series, Rearmed 2.

Sure, purists can argue all they want about the added ability to jump, but the prospect of leaping back into the world of classic Bionic Commando with all the trimmings of modern-day game design and all the surprises of a new adventure is a promising prospect, indeed…New weapons, new enemies, new levels, and the same old kick-ass grapple mechanic. Yeah, our triggers are twitching already.

Defining Feature: Jumping? Who cares! More grapple arm STAT!

E3 2010: Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 E3 Trailer »


Release Date: Spring 2011

Announced at this year's New York Comic-Con as a 2011 PSN exclusive, Sideway is an intriguing, visually unique platformer set amongst the stylized streets of New York City. A graphical homage to NYC graffiti culture, Sideway will follow the adventures of a character known as Noz as he journeys through the city itself and the 2-D worlds painted on the city's walls and exteriors.

Developer Playbrains hasn't yet pulled back the curtain on the full title and all its features, but from the screenshots alone and the core concept, we're plenty excited to hear more about this one moving forward into 2011. 

Defining Feature: A cartoonish, stylized adventure set in New York City with a mysterious graffiti mechanic? Count us in!

The Future of Platformers: Looking Forward At Portal 2, Disney Epic Mickey, LittleBigPlanet 2 And More

ICO / Shadow of the Colossus Collection
Release Date: April 2011

Perhaps two of the most beloved games of the last generation of gaming are currently slated for an HD redux on the Playstation 3 sometime in the spring of 2011. The celebrated platformer ICO and its critically lauded follow-up Shadow of Colossus are poised to return to game consoles to ensare a new generation of gamers. Where the first is perhaps the finest example of a companion-quest and the second a ground-breaking (and oft-copied) examination of scale in the fantasy universe -- read: giant, kick-ass bosses -- both games offer beautifully told and emotionally gripping stories. 

Experience them again...for the first time. Or something. Either way, you need to play 'em.

Defining Feature: Engrossing stories with epic gameplay hooks are a must-purchase for 2011.

The Future of Platformers: Looking Forward At Portal 2, LittleBigPlanet 2 And More

Lost in Shadow
Release Date: January 4, 2011

The tale of a boy and his shadow, Lost in Shadow for the Wii promises to deliver on some of the most basic platforming principles in one simple, creative premise. A lone shadow separated from its master, you must traverse the layers of a sprawling castle, manipulating light sources in order to climb your way up the tower’s shadow-structure.

You’ll use the various objects in the environment to bridge the divide between the real world and the shadow world – opening gates, dropping platforms and elongating the shadows to make your way forward. Scattered gates will transport you the shadow realm where the puzzles become a bit more metaphysical. Simple mechanics, stylized graphics and an innovative premise make Lost in Shadow one of the more intriguing platformers of 2011.

Defining Feature: A simple, creative, artistic endeavor. Sign us up!

Lost In Shadow Gameplay Trailer »


Portal 2
Release Date: February 9, 2011

Valve's contribution to platformers is a good one, maybe you’ve heard of it?. Portal 2 is easily one of the most anticipated games of 2011. Like Portal before it,  Portal 2 can be described as a first-person puzzler platformer, FPPP? Players of the original Portal will recognize the game's setting. Hundreds of years have gone by since GLaDOS and the rest of Aperture Science met their demise. You awaken as Chell, who has been frozen in stasis and is awoken by GLaDOS' reactivation. GLaDOS is once again up to her old tricks, testing you as you try to get through the facility. "I think we can put our differences behind us. For science. You monster." You're armed with the portal gun, creating portals through flat surfaces.

Don't be fooled by the similar plot line. That's just what we know so far. Plus the are new game elements like weird goo, tractor beams, and laser redirection. Recently announced was a two-player co-op mode where you and a friend play as self-aware robots. Adorable self-aware robots. 

Defining Feature: More GLaDOS insanity and hopefully another Jonathan Coulton tune.

Portal 2 Repulsion Gel Gameplay Trailer »

Honorable Mention: And lastly, our honorable mention goes to a game we're not even sure exists: Shadow Complex 2. Somewhere, in some secret hideout, a sequel to Chair's Unreal Engine platformer simply must be in the works. Perhaps the best of the recent Metroidvania-style games, Shadow Complex was an incredibly fun, action-packed and clean-looking game that left us dying for further adventures. Given it's relative success and overwhelming critical reception, we assume that it's gotta be on the way. And as fans of both shadows and complexes, we certainly hope that's true.

Additional reporting by Nikole Zivalich

For more Future of... Content, check out: Shooters | Action/Adventure | Platformers | Fighters

The Future of Platformers: Looking Forward At Portal 2, LittleBigPlanet 2 And More


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