OCC E3 2012 AwardsClayMeow -
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Best Platforming Game
Winner: New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U)
Another Nintendo console means another Mario game, right? With Nintendo touting this as "more of the same but better," it's no surprise to see another Mario 2D platformer being introduced. Does this make New Super Mario Bros. U disappointing? Not at the least. For every good platformer, accurate jumping mechanics and movement controls are definitely essential; unsurprisingly, New Super Mario Bros. U already perfects this in spades. Back is the 4-player co-operative feature from the original New Super Mario Bros., but now with the ability for an extra player to take control of the Wii U GamePad and manipulate the game environment. Simply tap on the tablet screen and place temporary blocks on the large screen, possibly saving a player from death or even open up new ways to reach previously unknown areas. We also find several new add-ons from the E3 showing including a flying squirrel suit, an inflatable Yoshi, and a bubble-blowing Yoshi. Pretty wacky stuff, but it is sure to bring about hours of fun, especially if you're playing with a group of people.
Runner-Up: Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (PC, PS3, 360, Wii)
Warren Spector's first project with Disney Interactive was quite a unique concept, with the infamous Mickey Mouse solving puzzles and interacting with the environment using powers of paint and thinner. For its sequel, Mickey is returning with even more features and will be available on several systems as well. Unlike the first installment, The Power of Two will also feature a second playable character, Oswald, in co-operative play. A friend can now drop in and out at any moment in the game and aid Mickey in his adventure; a unique dynamic to the Epic Mickey formula. Little is known this will affect how the game will play out, but if the creativity of the first game is any indication, the team at Junction Point Studios should be well-equipped to give gamers another unique experience.
Winner: Rayman Legends (Wii U)
The platformer category is not as large as it once was, with many classic platforming franchises switching to a pure action focus. Still, there are some fun titles to consider and the one that stood out the most to me is Rayman Legends. This is a Wii U exclusive so far, but it could appear on other systems. Rayman Legends is the sequel to the surprise Rayman Origins, which was a return to the series' side-scrolling platformer roots. Rayman Legends looks to continue the same formula but with even more challenges and puzzles to overcome. Multiple players can join in on the action as well. Plus, there are some Wii U GamePad specific actions to perform with one of the playable characters. I only hope there will be more systems in the future for Rayman Legends, though this is a must-have game either way.
Runner-Up: LittleBigPlanet (PS Vita)
LittleBigPlanet for the PlayStation Vita looks to capture the same level-building, platforming action as its PlayStation 3 brother, but in a portable fashion. This version of LBP expands upon the PSP version by adding in touch controls, offline gameplay, four-player online competitive or co-op play, and PS Vita-specific features. The reason this is my runner-up is because LittleBigPlanet requires many online players designing and uploading levels to be enjoyed once the base game is finished. I have no doubt that LBP for the PS Vita can accomplish that, but until it does, you have to rely on the provided levels and your own creations.
Winner: Deadlight (360)
Deadlight didn't receive as much of the spotlight as some other games – after all, it's simply an indie-developed XBLA title. In fact, when I first picked this category, I completely forgot about this game and rewarded Rayman Legends the win. Thankfully, I remembered this lesser known gem before this article went live. Few side-scrolling platformers can be classified as atmospheric – Limbo being one of the notable exceptions. Deadlight can now be added to that list. Deadlight is a side-scrolling 2D platformer immersed in a fully 3D world – think Trine. But unlike Trine, Deadlight is bleak and foreboding, reminiscent of the aforementioned Limbo. Deadlight is set in the American west coast in an apocalyptic world – it's a survival horror game in an action puzzle platformer shell. As I mentioned, the game is extremely atmospheric, with amazing 3D visuals, including fog and rain. As is the norm in most apocalyptic games, zombies are rampant. Playing as Randall, though you do acquire weapons like an axe, most of the game isn't about fighting, but rather escaping – these are your typical slow-moving, unintelligent, meandering zombies that can only walk forward, unable to climb obstacles. As such, instead of hacking or shooting your way through them (though both are viable options), gameplay videos have shown you typically running past them and hopping on top of cars or ladders to escape. This notion of escaping is what the game is about – you're simply trying to survive and not trying to save the world. Deadlight will be available this Summer on Xbox Live Arcade. Hopefully it makes its way to the PC as well, but as of now, it's one of the few, if not the only 360-exclusive worth getting excited about – sorry, Halo 4. What an excellent first game for developer Tequila Works.
Runners-Up: Rayman Legends (Wii U), Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (PC, PS3, 360, Wii)
It's hard to bring innovation to a classic genre like platforming, but Ubisoft has managed to do just that with Rayman Legends, thanks largely to Wii U's touch-screen controller. Like Rayman Origins, Rayman Legends is a vibrant, colorful, and goofy 2D platformer. What makes Rayman Legends unique is the introduction of Murfy, a character that can only be controlled via the Wii U's touch screen, offering a new way to experience the game. Unlike a game like New Super Mario Bros. U, the player using the Wii U controller actually feels like an integral part of the team. Furthermore, the game still supports up to four players using the traditional controls, allowing for up to five people to play the game at one time. Despite the unique GamePad feature, Ubisoft stated that we shouldn't necessarily rule out other platforms, which is certainly welcomed news.
Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two manages to combine 3D platforming and 2D platforming to create what seems like quite an enjoyable experience for gamers of all ages. Designed for two-player co-op with one player controlling Mickey and the other controlling Oswald, most of the gameplay seems to be 2D platforming, with boss fights being in 3D, and the graphics appear to be top notch in both. Mickey and Oswald control slightly differently (Mickey double-jumps, while Oswald uses his ears to glide), but they complement each other well and include unique co-op combos, like Mickey grabbing Oswald's feet as the latter glides across a gap.