Why are there no all-time great Euro Platformers?

…besides Zool 2 of course. Personally, I think it's as simple as their having to press up on joystick to jump which is ill-suited for the kinetic movement of the canonical greats.

Another factor could be the style-over-substance inherited from demo scene where impressive graphics come before all else. Ex-sceners flexing their programming chops left us with enormous sprites and a thousand flashing things on screen at once to be collected while the background parallaxes every third scanline.

So why aren't the best euro platformers like Superfrog, James Pond 2: Robocod, and Ruff 'n' Tumble held in the same regard as the greats such as Mario, Sonic, and Gex?

I would argue that Gex is the best Euro platformer despite coming from America. All of the sprawling level design filled with items to collect is pure Euro platformer. Airplan hanger design. But it is actually fun to move your character around. Maybe the big difference is that Gex was built for the 3DO instead of the Amiga?

Otherwise we can't discount Donkey Kong Country or Rayman. Though again, both on hardware that can actually handle platformers.

Honorable mention for Bio Mechanical Toy from Gaelco in Spain where once again, the hardware has enough horse power to make things work


Isn’t Rayman 2 some sort of revered classic in the entire Western hemisphere? The original N64 version has a 90 Metacritic score so I assumed it was pretty conventionally praised at the time of its release. Or do you mean specifically in the 2D / Amiga-era computer scene?

@"robinhoodie"#p81905 Right, I didn’t even think of it because I have never liked the original Donkey Kong Country trilogy but I guess _that’s_ the go-to counter-example rather than Rayman.

I like very much that TWO of the games being held up as the best euro platformers (zool 2, rayman) are on the Jaguar. Is the Jaguar the best console for euro platformers? (of course not, but…)

I could also cheat again and mention Sonic 3D blast heh heh.

Anyway if we include the run and gun you can get turrican in there for sure. If I were to say why more euro platformers didn't break out it's a combo of:

  • - too complex and sprawling in terms of maps, which has never really appealed outside of the UK. It tends to feel like it comes from a place of "look what I can do" rather than meticulous map design.
  • - the bouncy powerups look goofy to US and JP audiences. sorry!
  • - really stiff jumps probably related somewhat to scrolling restrictions on computers but also there just didn't seem to be a desire to do it differently!?
  • - really ugly characters. UK seemed to love them, the rest of the world was less enamored.
  • - weird resolution in an era where console was king, making ports look tiny or weird (like james pond for example)
  • - I also buy the demoscene thing - like "look at the new technique I found for making a twisty background" was a bigger factor than "I made really smooth jumps"
  • Ultimately I think it was different priorities, working under different types of hardware limitations (controls especially) that lent itself to a huge gap in this genre.


    @“exodus”#p81917 Is the Jaguar the best console for euro platformers?

    All we’re saying is you guys gave up on Atari and Jerry Lewis way too early.

    By the way, I don’t really remember Gex being so highly praised at the time? At least not much more so than James Pond II: Robocod. Gex is definitely a much better game in hindsight, but there was very little hype about _anything_ 3DO, at least where I lived.

    Then again, as previously established in Insert Credit Forums lore, Europe inexplicably adored Chuck Rock, so…

    Personally I think it's a similar bias as when people talk about euroshmups in a negative way. There is of course a huge pile of trash that justifies such basis but also plenty of legitimately good games that get thrown under the bus a bit unfairly.

    My two cents here are that Plok is a really good game that doesn't get enough love, Rayman is cool even though the difficulty gets in the way, B.O.B. is good if a bit flawed AND there is at least one British franchise of wildly beloved platformers, which is Rare's take on Donkey Kong of course.

    I dunno about B.O.B. being an all-time great but I also might call it a run and gun! PLOK is a good one but nintendo/sega-shepherded properties aside we're now up to 3 games with zool 2, rayman, plok, which is not very many (we can count gex as “euro style” if we like but that isssssss american-made)

    this'n got a reboot


    I am pretty sure British people are convinced Fantastic Dizzy is somewhere between Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Metroid in terms of importance and game design achievement in the History of video games.

    @“chazumaru”#p81943 I’m liking your post because I’m agreeing with your analysis, not because I “like” your analysis!

    Might it have something to do with lazy, short-sighted american netizens dictating the historical narrative around games for the better part of twenty years? Just a Thought


    @“gsk”#p81959 Might it have something to do with lazy, short-sighted american netizens dictating the historical narrative around games for the better part of twenty years? Just a Thought

    This is pretty much my thought on the matter.

    @“gsk”#p81959 This was going to be my third point–the US/JP centricity of the canon. Maybe awkward controls were never an issue for players used to ZX Spectrum control schemes that would put Monster Hunter claw grips to shame.

    For the record, I don‘t think B.O.B. is an all time great either! Just putting it there as a silly game that I like. I would also personally count Turrican, and smaller things like the CT Special Forces games that got released around the GBA time. Games where you have a gun but there are also exploration elements, don’t have a scroll pushing you forwards and there is some verticality to the level design, etc.

    If the focus is specifically finding games that could fit on a best of all time list I think it gets considerably harder, and not only because of the quality of the games themselves, but because I personally wouldn't know where to put the bar exactly in this case (is American stuff like Vectorman or Decap Attack worthy of the "all time great" title?). So my point here would be a bit more down to earth, in the sense that I think there is quite a bit of 7/10 and above stuff that is enjoyable to play but also largely ignored.

    I'm also pretty sure there must be a lot of interesting games for the Amiga specifically, but that is a platform I'm sadly very unfamiliar with, so I would need someone better versed than me in the matter to confirm or deny it.

    Are we counting cinematic platformers, or do ya'll think those are just adventure games under another name? The Éric Chahi stuff like Another World and Flashback could go into the all-timer canon

    @“tokucowboy”#p82000 I personally wouldn‘t count them, as their design goals are simply too different to be included alongside mascot platformers - which I admit is a nebulous term (there is an argument that marketability can be baked into the design itself, but you still have to make that argument), but since most of the games we’re talking about involve cartoon characters collecting shit and that term already comprises these games, it'll have to do.


    @“JoJoestar”#p81992 I’m also pretty sure there must be a lot of interesting games for the Amiga specifically, but that is a platform I’m sadly very unfamiliar with, so I would need someone better versed than me in the matter to confirm or deny it.

    While I'm not especially familiar with the Amiga myself (and am hesitant to bring up games for it, lest I create another Hidden Gem™ in doing so), I can confirm there are interesting platformers for it. [*Top Banana*](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5k4CFYiBrPE) immediately comes to mind: it was made by a multimedia group, and browsing the Wikipedia page for it, everything about it was a challenge to the consumability-disposability model that mainstream games propose. Recylcable packaging! Files you could dig into and replace with little technical knowledge!

    On reflection, I suspect this is what the American-centric narrative @"gsk"#p81959 alluded to earlier struggles to contain. In centering consoles as the primary game platform, it also centers a black-box model of games where just about the only thing we can do with them is consume and forget about them. As *Top Banana* demonstrates, computers allow(ed?) for something very different.

    I know Rare games get ragged on a lot here, often rightfully so, but the original Banjo-Kazooie holds up incredibly well today, especially the slightly tweaked version on Xbox Live which makes death less punishing given that you don't lose your level-specific collected items.

    Much of the flak that it received at the time was based on the premise that it "wasn't Mario 64", which it isn't, but reaching the heights of indisputably one of the finest games ever is a tall order. My only real criticisms of it are that late-game progression can be a little harsh on a first playthrough when you're unfamiliar with collectable locations, and some of the maps or hub areas are a little convoluted. A major positive of it as well is that there are _rarely_ any camera issues - it's a lot tighter than its peers, and miles better than Mario 64's - judging the angle and distance of jumps in Banjo is so much easier than in Mario.

    I regularly revisit this game in so much as it's like shooting the breeze with an old friend. I can play 95% of the game on autopilot because its difficulty stems from figuring out where you need to go and what you need to do to get there; the actual platforming stuff is pretty simple stuff all things considered.

    I fully expect _nobody_ to agree with me on this but man, it's a standout game for me.

    Also, Zool 2 owns big time.

    I‘ll go to bat for most of Rare’s platformers honestly. Battletoads has a ton of variety and is graphically stunning for an NES game no matter what you think about the execution.

    @“LeFish”#p82031 I recently replayed the first few stages of Banjo Kazooie because I'm often unsettled on whether I like it or not. My conclusions:

  • 1.

    It is definitely a good game. You're right. Put it in the canon of good-to-great European platformers, easy.

    It's fun, it's well-made, it's got variety and plenty of stuff to do. I think you're spot on about the camera being clean. And while the aesthetics can be tacky, we now know how hard it was to make an N64 game that will look good 20 years later and BK did that, in my opinion.

  • 2.

    My obvious criticism: there's just too much stuff to collect. I know you don't have to collect it all and some of the items are consumables, but I just get sick of it.

  • 3.

    My less obvious (maybe?) criticism: I usually hear the music get praise, but my biggest conclusion this (partial) playthrough was that the music is in fact the #1 turnoff for me with this game. Every level, it's this kiddie funhouse music. It just really kills my vibe.

  • I don't post this to disagree with you, though. I do think this game is good, maybe even great. I just can't ever bring myself to play all the way through it even though a) I played it a ton as a kid and b) I'm a ride-or-die N64 lover. Maybe one day...

    @“LeFish”#p82031 I unconditionally love Banjo (the first one). No problem here. I even had a great time replaying it on Switch earlier this year. My beef with Rare is specifically against their Donkey Kong games.

    Also this is another good opportunity to shill for my dude Pekka Kana 2, the greatest Finnish platformer of all time. Goes hard on that typical-EuroAmiga exploration angle described by @"exodus"#p81917 earlier but with tight, console-like controls.