Hello, friends. It is Special Edition time for SwitchArcade once again. After enjoying the sumptuous buffet of 3D platforming in Super Mario 3D All-Stars, I got to thinking: what if people want more of this tasty flavor on their Switch? And what if they want it in a handy list format? From AAA to indies, a lot of developers have taken a shot at this tricky genre on our favorite little hybrid console. Some… have not done so well. But we are not here to talk about those. Let us instead visit the highlights of this particular genre, in no particular order so as to avoid THE FURY. Here we go!
Super Mario Odyssey ($59.99)
Well, yeah. If it weren’t for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I’d call this the most essential Switch purchase. Second place isn’t bad. Mario’s biggest collectathon yet sees him travel all over the world searching for Power Moons so that he can once again rudely interrupt the nuptials of that nice Mr. Bowser and his long-time love Princess Peach. With tons of things to do and see, Super Mario Odyssey can keep you busy for a very long time if that’s what you’re looking for. The tricks Mario can pull off with the help of Cappy makes this a really fun game to mess around with. Plus, you can pick up a huge assortment of cool outfits that sometimes make references to absurdly obscure moments in the plumber’s history! What’s not to like?
Super Mario 3D All-Stars ($59.99)
Mario gets to take two spots on this list. Sorry, that’s just the way it is. While a bit of a threadbare collection in terms of extras or major improvements, at the end of the day this is still a package of three great games. Well… two great games, and one that is trying really hard. Frankly, this could be Super Mario Galaxy alone for full-price and it would probably be on this list. The fact that you also get the seminal Super Mario 64 and oddball Super Mario Sunshine is icing on the cake. Besides the impressive quality of the games themselves, this is a great way to experience the evolution of 3D platformers.
A Hat in Time ($29.99)
The people wanted something similar to the kinds of games Rare used to make on the Nintendo 64, and the best answer to the call ended up being A Hat in Time. You play as a girl who travels through space in her ship. After a certain happening, all of her ship’s fuel is scattered on a nearby planet. If she wants to get back on the road, our top-hatted girl will need to head down to the planet and collect all of her Time Pieces. The technical performance of this one is a bit rough on the Switch, but if you can look past that kind of thing (and I have to believe people who loved those Nintendo 64 Rare games can), you’ll have a fantastic time exploring this game’s bizarre world and meeting its strange characters.
New Super Lucky’s Tale ($39.99)
While New Super Lucky’s Tale doesn’t quite have the same level of personality as some 3D platfomers, it makes up for it with sound level design, excellent controls, and great technical performance. It’s a great adventure for kids and adults alike. This is another game with tons of things to do and collect, giving you a lot of value for your purchase. And hey, trust me: little Lucky will grow on you if you give him a chance. Just a great, well-built romp that never seems to get the attention it deserves.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy ($39.99)
It’s been so long that no one is really fazed by it anymore, but I still sometimes do a double-take at the two big 3D platformer mascots of the PlayStation 1 having their famous trilogies available on a Nintendo console. Spyro leans more towards the exploratory side of the genre than its stablemate Crash, and I don’t think it’s controversial to say that his PlayStation adventures were struggling against the hardware. These remakes really jazz up the original Spyro trilogy, and while there are still some elements that feel very much “late 90s", the games are still rather fun even in 2020. Just make sure you have plenty of space on your SD card – this is a big fella whether you have the cartridge or not.
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy ($39.99)
The original Crash Bandicoot trilogy of games was a rather interesting take on the then-nascent 3D platforming genre. In sharp contrast to Super Mario 64‘s open stages and emphasis on exploration, Crash offered up a mix of traditional 2D challenges and 3D tubes. Most 3D platformers that followed tended to take after Super Mario 64, and as a result there’s really very little out there quite like the Crash games. While these games can be incredibly aggravating at times (especially the first one), there’s something about them that keep you coming back for more punishment. These remakes are fairly well-done, with nice production values and a few sensible updates to certain elements.
de Blob 2 ($29.99)
Both of the de Blob games are worth playing, but I’ll pick the second game for this list simply because it’s a more fleshed-out and polished experience. The mash-up of its colorful paint-based gameplay and 3D action gives this game a unique flavor when compared to almost anything except its own predecessor. You have to paint the city and perform a variety of missions in order to bring things back to life, something that is reflected in the soundtrack as much as the graphics. It does a much better job of keeping things interesting throughout the whole adventure when compared to the original, though it still ends up being a little on the easy side.
Okay, look: Yooka-Laylee is not without its problems. People were hoping for a Banjo-Kazooie 3 from the game, and it really fell short of that. The next game was much better all-around, but it’s not a 3D platformer so it can’t be on this list. With all of that said, I feel like there’s enough of the old Rare spirit in this game to make it worth playing, particularly with regards to the characters, humor, and music. If I can give one tip to enjoying the game: don’t expand the levels until you need to. Trust me on that one.
Ty the Tasmanian Tiger HD ($29.99)
The PlayStation 2/Gamecube/Xbox era was positively filthy with good B-grade 3D platformers, and Ty the Tasmanian Tiger HD was one of the better ones. This spiffed-up version of the first game in the series is like a portal back to those days, for better or worse. Hop and battle your way through the Australian Outback and collect a variety of boomerangs to use against your enemies. While there’s a fair bit of combat, the main goal is actually to hunt down eggs in each of the levels. The camera can be a bit of a bear at times, but there’s good comfort food here if you don’t mind grappling with that flaw now and then.
Snake Pass ($19.99)
Okay, this is for the people who want something a bit different. And also for those who want something crushingly hard. Snake Pass isn’t a platformer in the strict sense. You play as a snake, and you can’t jump. Instead, you make your way up, down, around, and through obstacles the way a real snake would: by wrapping yourself around things. There are lots of secrets to find in each level, but you’ll have to master the unorthodox controls and techniques to have even the slightest hope of seeing everything the game has to offer. Still, while you’re not doing things like hopping from perch to perch or stomping on enemy heads, the fundamental essence of 3D platforming burns brightly here.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated ($29.99)
This is another B-tier 3D platformer from the sixth generation of consoles, with the notable boost being that it features the SpongeBob SquarePants license. It doesn’t just bear the license superficially, either. You get all of the familiar characters, most of the familiar voices, and all the locations and jokes you would expect from the series. The platforming itself is solid enough, though many of the flaws of the era are present even in this remade version. You don’t have to like SpongeBob to enjoy this game, but it definitely helps.
And there you have it. We’ll probably do another list like this for 2D platformers, though that’s going to take a lot more arguing and debating here at TouchArcade Towers. Hopefully this batch of titles will give you something to go on if you’re looking for some 3D adventures to embark on. Just don’t forget to wear pants with plenty of pockets; you’ll be collecting a lot of bits and bobs.