Platformers have forever been the lifeforce of the gaming world, spanning thousands of titles every year across all tiers of hardware. The downside, of course, is that with so many games to choose from, finding the best of the best can seem a little daunting. And, with plenty of gems being glossed over in light of the hefty catalogue, it can be easy to miss the true masterpieces that idle within. The PlayStation, for example, had hundreds (if not thousands) of fantastic entries to the genre, with many flying under the radar before succumbing to the abundance of alternative tales.
It’s 2021, which means we’re eager to revisit old worlds and put an entirely new take on them, with platformers certainly being no exception. But what are the hidden gems I speak of — and what games are worthy of a remaster on updated hardware? Well, if given the opportunity to rekindle a mere five flames — personally, I’d light these torches and gladly watch the army of phoenixes rise from the ashes.
5. Gex: Enter the Gecko
At first, I thought it was a fever dream, traversing the Media Dimension with a red remote in hand and a keen eye for kooky creatures and parody pop culture. Turned out, a bit of research informed me that Gex: Enter the Gecko was definitely a thing back in 1998, and that the Looney Toons references were actually legitimate. Since then, however, only one chapter has come to light, with the trilogy finally rounding off in 1999. For this moment, sadly, neither Crystal Dynamics nor the television-loving hero has made an appearance in any way, with the PlayStation games continuing to dwindle in the shadow realm.
Digging a little deeper, the emotions soon started to come back to me, and the level designs pieced together, like a fond memory being reconstructed for the first time since childhood. And that’s when it hit me — the nostalgia. Not only Gex: Enter the Gecko, but the entire trilogy that built so many fantastic memories, it all sparked something in my head, and, like a spoilt child, I needed it. Of course, it’s been twenty years, meaning Crystal Dynamics have since moved on to other works, putting poor old Gex on the backburner for the foreseeable future. And that’s a shame, truly.
4. Croc: Legend of the Gobbos
One thing the nineties wasn’t exactly running dry on was animal protagonists. Like Gex, Croc stepped into the light with a USP and a one-track mind of saving the world from world domination. And even though the recipe for scaly heroes in backpacks wasn’t a new thing to bring to the table, it was still a concept that sold remarkably well. However, out of the three chapters that Croc brought to life, Legend of the Gobbos was definitely the adventure that captured the joy of platforming as a genre.
It’s been just shy of twenty-four years since Croc made his debut journey on PlayStation, and fans are still very much asking the question of whether or not a remake will ever come to fruition. But sadly, with original developer Argonaut Games closing the studio doors in 2004, those hopes remain pipe dreams for players all over the world. That being said, if the IP falls into the right hands, and if the resources are all intact, then that isn’t to say a Croc revival won’t ever come to light. But again — don’t get your hopes up.
It was only last week that we were touching base on Skullmonkeys, branding it as a PlayStation One game that was terrifying for all the wrong reasons. However, that wasn’t to say that the game as a whole wasn’t a worthy accessory to the platforming genre. In fact, it was so weirdly unique and unorthodox, that we’d be pretty intrigued to see exactly how a modern twist would amplify it. Of course, being clay animation, the possibilities are vast and without restriction, meaning a 2021 take on the game wouldn’t be without a few exaggerated quirks.
Okay, so Skullmonkeys may not have introduced wild new ingredients to the platforming genre or even so much as had the most memorable level designs. But saying that, it did provide an incredibly odd roster of characters and fish-out-of-water custscenes, where players didn’t have the slightest clue what was lurking around every corner. It was different, we’ll leave it at that. And different, of course, doesn’t always mean bad.
Pandemonium was one of those platformers that either filled you with everlasting joy or unhinged trauma, depending on how well you gelled with the unlikely jester and ginger duo. Of course, should you recall the series of levels that the game enveloped, then you’ll likely remember the absurd difficulty spike that the journey hit like a freight train. But other than that, Pandemonium, in all other areas, was a genuinely fantastic entry in the genre — and one we’d happily see make a strong return to the big screen.
Sure enough, we did see Pandemonium amount to a sequel back in 1997, which, in all fairness, did pack a much stronger punch than its predecessor. With 3D elements being tweaked to test even the biggest rivals in the genre, Crystal Dynamics had finally gained a foothold with the franchise and its newfound spool of psychedelic platforming madness. And to be honest, that’s something that would make a stellar collection on current-gen hardware — if only for the nostalgia.
Despite being a total bombshell on launch, with many players citing the game as being either poorly executed or unworthy of sharing the spotlight among other heavy hitters, Tomba! was, strangely enough, a fantastic series of platformers. And as for today, amazingly enough, those two false starts have reached cult classic status, with both games being sold for ridiculously high prices. Only, a remastered collection probably won’t ever come to fruition, despite its newfound popularity amongst the gaming community.
Shortly after Tomba 2!: The Evil Swine Return released, developer Whoopee Camp shut its doors due to a mixture of poor sales and lack of support. However, in light of this, both entries to their hit-and-miss series finally found fame, resulting in many fans eagerly anticipating a revival. Though sadly, we’ll probably have to put that one down to high hopes. But who knows? Twenty-two year anniversary edition, maybe? Anyone? No?
Do you agree with our list? What PlayStation platformers would you have remastered? Let us know over on our socials here.