As an aficionado of old school games, I hold the side-scrolling genre near and dear to my heart. With each new console generation, developers get more creative with how they handle this genre. I feel that the side-scroller genre is stronger now than it has ever been and is used in more creative ways than ever thought possible. Retro games had the formula right, but advances in gaming development has really brought new concepts to the genre and keeps it going strong.
There have been tons of games, just this console generation alone, that have been amazing with simple concepts. Mario is still a relevant name today and works with the simple formula of running and jumping. Fast forward to today with games like Splosion Man, Trials HD, Cave Story; all games that are remarkable in their own way but all embrace the simple approach of the side-scroller.
I wanted to list off some of the more notable games to look out for that are side-scrollers. Games that present new ideas yet retain the classic concept. I feel this is still one of the best genres of games available and keeps developers creative by trying new things. Check out the following games and also what makes them stand out from the rest. My list is for games that have not been released yet but I do want to point out that plenty of side-scrollers have already been released this year including the PlayStation exclusive Little Big Planet 2.
Mood and atmosphere is one thing developers have been getting right with side-scrollers. Last year LIMBO was released with critical success with its amazing visuals and haunting environment. Feist looks quite like it but ditches the ominous tones of blacks and grays and brings color into perspective. Hardly any information has been talked about this game on other sites but trailers and screenshots do exist.
You play the game as a bird that looks like a dandelion trying to navigate your way through forest type areas. Monsters are in your way and it seems you can attack and latch onto objects with a web attached to you. Also you have a stream always behind you that judging by the trailers is only for looks, unless it does something else at some point. This game looks absolutely beautiful and the music is great as well. Feist has been in development since 2008 and will be released on PC and Mac hopefully sometime soon. Check out the following trailer to get a better sense of how the ascetics are presented.
Monster Tale is a cute little platformer being developed for the Nintendo DS by a studio created by some of the guys who worked on Henry Hatsworth. Monster Tale stars a young girl named Ellie with her pet monster Chomp and together they must rescue the world from the evil Kid-Kings and return it to the original inhabitants, the monsters. Metroid heavily inspires the game; the level setup and powerups are similar although they do have their own twists.
One of the big differences is the ability to bring Chomp across both screens of the DS. You can utilize him on the bottom screen by sending powerups to the top screen. For instance, Chomp had a soccer ball stored in the bottom screen but he can kick it to the top screen to help take down enemies. You can level up Chomp to learn new abilities and help him evolve. I think the game was originally supposed to come out toward the end of last year but has been pushed to a March 2011 release date.
Hard Corps: Uprising
A new IP of an existing franchise, Hard Corps is busting out of the Contra universe and becoming its own set of games. Two main game modes will be the center of this game, Rising and Arcade. Rising is what sets this game apart from the Contra series by allowing players to spend points they earned throughout the game on upgrades on weapons, armor, and character abilities. Rising also features a health bar in which you can take three hits before losing a life.
Rising is for the newcomers to give them a chance of surviving a level in Hard Corps but series veterans have nothing to worry about with the difficulty of HC with Arcade Mode. Arcade Mode is more of a classic mode that ditches the health bar and only allows you to take one bullet before death. Many new moves have been added including dashing, a double-jump, and the ability to deflect projectiles back at enemies. Hard Corps: Uprising is coming very soon, next week in fact for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
The Fancy Pants Adventure
Essentially Parkour the video game, The Fancy Pants Adventure is a game that many people have already played over on kongregate.com. I wanted to include it because it is getting a major release on PSN and XBLA coming this spring. I don’t visit kongregate enough so I decided to hop over and give this game a shot.
It reminds me a lot of Sonic. You build up speed and obstacles lay in your path to either hop over or crash into and lose momentum. The art style isn’t bad either; you’re a stick figure with spiky animated hair. I’d like to see what they have planned for this game; see if they add to the running formula more. Armor Games is developing with EA publishing. Head over to kongregate and get a sneak peak of what to expect with Fancy Pants Adventure. Also, its hard not to be curious about a game that has collectively been played over 100 million times.
A side-scroller under the wings of Square Enix? Moon Divers is a downloadable action side-scroller that appears to be co-op with up to four players. The game looks hectic, for good reasons, and sports anime inspired graphics. Not much is known about this game except the fact it looks gorgeous. I’ll wager the plot will be heavily involved with a bad guys trying to muck the world up and these crazy ninjas set out to stop them. Fanboys unite, Kouichi “Isuke” from the hit game Strider is working on this title. Expect this game in the vague release window of 2011.
How much control do you want in a video game? What if a game allowed you to set a time limit for how long you spend in a dungeon, then that time set influences what your loot is at the end of the dungeon. It also reflects on the difficulty of the area you are exploring. The games graphics are very retro in style but has a clean look to them as well. Of course the studio that brought you Half Minute Hero is developing this game; a game you only get thirty seconds to complete. They love time limits.
Here are some screenshots of other side-scrollers worth keeping your eyes on:
Bonk: Brink of Destruction
Pixel Junk Shooter 2
3DS New Super Mario Bros (Working Title)
Sonic 4 Episodes
Wii Kirby (Working Title)
Let us know in the comments of any I’ve missed and I’ll gladly add them to this list. The games on this list alone make me very excited for whats coming in 2011, and this is just one genre of games. Side-scrollers have been popular since the early years of gaming and judging by the amount of titles and innovations happening, side-scrollers will be around for a long time.