Let’s face it. They haven’t been making pure 3D platformers like they used to. For one reason or another, developers just aren’t as interested in them anymore. Or, maybe, it’s the gamers who don’t like playing platformers? Either way, even the guys who built their kingdom on platformers like Nintendo, haven’t been focusing on the genre as much.
In recent years though, we’re starting to see 3D platformers, especially on consoles, start to come to life.
Armed with the power of nostalgia and the hunger to prove themselves, many retro-inspired indie developers are seeing platformers as a way to establish themselves in the gaming industry. Because of this, even the biggest companies are starting to take notice.
Sooner or later, we might see an explosion of retro-inspired 3D platformers hit the current generation of consoles. Until that happens though, we’ve decided to take a look back at some of the best 3D platformers on consoles that we already have available today.
Take note, in the spirit of fairness, we’re only choosing one per franchise.
Table of Contents
Super Mario Odyssey
Release Date: October 27, 2017
Developer: Nintendo Entertainment
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Short, simple, and fun.
The Mario franchise built the foundations of what Nintendo has become today by capturing a sense of adventure that gamers of all ages can relate to. However, in recent years, Nintendo has tried to experiment a bit too much with their mascot, often to mixed results. But, with Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo finally hit the homerun with arguably the best 3D platformer on the current generation of consoles.
You could argue that Super Mario Odyssey has followed the same basic format that Super Mario 64 established more than two decades ago and you’d be right. But, here’s the thing, if something works, why bother trying to change it?
What Super Mario Odyssey does is that it simply has players explore open-ended worlds littered with challenges and puzzles, with some familiar location styles that borders between weird and bizarre. However, what sets this recently-released Mario title apart is the meticulous amount of detail that Nintendo put into the game.
Just when you thought that you’re breaking Super Mario Odyssey, you’ll be treated to a stack of coins just waiting to be discovered.
TLDR; Super Mario Odyssey will be looked at as a classic in the same way that we look at Super Mario 64.
Savor this moment. It may be years before we see another Mario game like this in a while.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy
Release Date: November 13, 2018
Developer: Toys For Bob
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows
If Mario was one of the biggest reasons why the gaming industry transitioned so well into the 3D era, then Spyro the Dragon was, along with other 3D platformers at the time, the game that helped guarantee 3D gaming stuck the landing.
Spyro the Dragon was one of PlayStation’s original mascots, and they did it justice with a remastered collection of the first three titles in the franchise.
Titled Spyro Reignited Trilogy, the collection comes with Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage and Spyro: Year of the Dragon, giving you a couple dozen hours worth of classic 3D platforming at its absolute finest.
Spyro the Dragon was one of Mario’s biggest challengers back in the day, and that remains true to this day.
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
Release Date: June 30, 2017
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Platform: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Windows
Sony knew full well that they couldn’t take Mario with just one franchise alone, which is why they desperately tried to stack the odds in their favor.
The result? Spyro the Dragon’s co-mascot, Crash Bandicoot.
One of Naughty Dog’s earliest titles before they went on to work with The Last of Us and Uncharted franchise, Crash Bandicoot separated itself from its competition with a more limited movement, similar to older 2D platformers, albeit, in 3D form.
Later titles changed this by incorporating other elements, but the first three titles of the franchise are 3D platformers through and through.
The Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is a collection of the first three Crash Bandicoot games, which will give you a full dose of nostalgia if you grew up playing these games, and a crash-course in 3D platforming history if it’s your first time playing through these titles.
A Hat in Time
Release Date: October 5, 2017
Developer: Gears For Breakfast
Publisher: Humble Bundle
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows, MacOS
One common trend in 3D platformers on consoles is that they usually feature brightly colored protagonists who traverse in equally colourful worlds.
A Hat in Time features a rather different take on that.
True, A Hat in Time is not entirely different. In fact, the protagonist is cute in every sense of the word. However, the world does have a sense of threat and more impending doom to it than other platformers. Not to mention, the magical world is a touch darker, making A Hat in Time stand out.
Gameplay-wise, A Hat In Time will have you figuring out which ability to call on and which top hat to use for it.
It’s a unique yet welcome twist for a different game in a once-saturated genre.
Astro Bot Rescue Mission
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Developer: SIE Japan Studio
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation 4
The only virtual 3D platformer on our list, Astro Bot Rescue Mission makes it based on merit, not just for the heck of it.
Not many gamers have played Astro Bot Rescue Mission, which is a damn shame. This is because, as far as 3D platformers go, the ability to accurately gauge jumps and gaps is crucial, and what better way to do that than from your very own perspective?
Tackling 360-degree worlds, virtual as they are, will never be the same after Astro Bot Rescue Mission.
Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time
Release Date: October 27, 2009
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation 3
Insomniac Games’ baby saw yearly releases in its heyday, totalling to a bit over a dozen titles across three generations of the PlayStation. However, if we go by the numbers, both commercial, and critical, A Crack in Time, which was released on the PlayStation 3 back in 2009, was a platforming marvel that remains the best in the franchise, by a mile.
A Crack in Time was no different to previous Ratchet & Clank releases, nor the ones that followed it. It had the same out-of-this-world weaponry and a wide range of planets to traverse. But, what really set it apart was its story.
It’s no secret that one of the biggest selling points of the franchise is the partnership between the titular characters.
Yet, surprisingly enough, no title has touched on this as much as A Crack in Time did.
The exploration of the beautiful friendship between both protagonists, as well as the time manipulation puzzles in the Clank sections of the game, paired with the hover boots, all combined together to make the A Crack in Time the best and most beautiful game in the series.
Super Lucky’s Tale
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Developer: Playful Studios
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platform: Xbox One, Windows
Super Lucky’s Tale takes you along the journey of Lucky Swiftail, a fox trying to build up his inner strength to recover the lost pages of the Book of Ages. This adorable game is a sequel to Lucky’s Tale, which was a virtual 3D platformer made for the Oculus Rift.
A newly enhanced version of the game is made for the Nintendo Switch aptly named New Super Lucky’s Tale and was released in 2019. This version contains improvements to the graphics of the game, new levels, story cinematics and a fully rotatable 3D camera.
If you’re looking for an adorable game that would still give you a kick, this game is the right way to go. It’s perfect training for little ones and beginners to get into platformers with its cute graphics and mildly challenging gameplay.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Release Date: October 28, 2003
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platform: PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox, Xbox 360, Windows, MacOS, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Game Boy Advance, iOS, Android
Yes, yes this is without a doubt the oldest game on the list, released in 2003 by Ubisoft. We tried to incorporate newer games but this one is just too good to miss. Not to mention, it has its very own movie of the same title, which is a let down but we can assure you that the game is far better than the movie!
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a unique game in all aspects – storyline, gameplay and fight style. It is also said to be an incorporation of all the best aspects from the Prince of Persia games.
The key mechanic that drove this game to fame is the idea that time can be manipulated. Time can be rewinded when mistakes are made and time can be frozen to kill enemies by using a special Dagger.
Essentially, you might think that you are a time lord that can get through everything easily, right? WRONG. The game has its challenges and quirks, before you know it you might have ended up dead.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Developer: EA DICE
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is essentially a remake of Mirror’s Edge which was released way back in 2008. The game differs in terms of combat mechanics and guns are no longer used in the game. When confronted with enemies, protagonist Faith Connors will instead evade or use quick melee attacks to defend herself.
True to style, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is challenging, and intriguing with a more open world feel to it as compared to its predecessor. The visuals are enhanced and breathtaking as you jump around from rooftops across a totalitarian city dazzled in blinding glass.
For those who have played Mirror’s Edge before, it is worth a shot. A lot of people have shot down the idea of playing the game after it was rebooted but in my opinion, it could prove to be a worthwhile experience.
Release Date: April 19, 2005
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Majesco Entertainment
Platform: Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, Windows, Linux, MacOS
In every single list on 3D platformers, you will find this gem of a game – Psychonauts. Albeit being a little dated, a newer version of the game will be released somewhere in 2021, for the newer generation to enjoy.
The game follows a runaway boy Raz sneaking into a camp to become a Psychonaut, which is a spy with psychic abilities. Raz will end up exploring the minds and imaginations of the other characters to help them overcome their memories and fears.
The aspect that differentiates this game from the rest is the incorporation of abilities such as telekinesis, levitation, invisibility and pyrokinesis. The comedic writing of the story along with a fun and varied gameplay, makes this game a beloved platformer.
Release Date: 28 March, 2017
Developer: Sumo Digital
Publisher: Sumo Digital
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows
In Snake Pass, you play as a snake. Well, that’s kind of obvious isn’t it? A lot of slithering, curling and climbing is involved as you make your way through some floating islands. Each of these islands are specially themed and the difficulty of the challenges increase as you go along – as with all platformers.
This game was made by Sumo Digital and was released in 2017. The game is said to challenge players to think like a snake, so if you ever wondered how a snake trying to solve puzzles feels like, you might want to give this game a try.
Final note, the snake is named Noodle. If that doesn’t make you want to play the game I don’t know what will.
Is the 3D platformer genre a shadow of its former self? Well, there’s certainly a case to be made for that.
The only problem is, nostalgia is one tough nut to break.
Sure, the gaming industry may have moved on from the days wherein mascot platformers were a trend. At the same time, it’s not exactly easy to fight off the temptation to relive the glory days of platformers.
With that said, these are the best 3D platformers on consoles to help you do just that.