The demo of Yoshi's Crafted World has been available on the Nintendo Switch eShop for a couple of weeks. Although it contains within it a single stage " front and back ", the usual formation of two distinct groups of users is already underway, among those who have immediately been conquered by that world in scotch and cardboard and those who do not seem to digest the recipe extremely to the water of roses. Nothing strange at the bottom: it is part of that natural "game of tastes" from which, as human beings, we will never fully succeed in avoiding it.
Notwithstanding that it is still early to draw conclusions of any kind, it is still good and right not to lose sight of the audience that the title intends to address in the first instance, in this case very young. Secondly, you should never forget that for a branch of indigestible gender for certain players, there is always – at least – another ready to intercept their interest with more appropriate productions. In this sense the platform game is a container of varied experiences, made of sub-genres that see in the mechanics of the perfect jump and of the meticulous exploration of the setting two ingredients unavoidable, although not always dosed in the same way.
On the edge of the precipice
Of course, Crafted World does not want to marry the cause of the finely calculated jump, an art very dear to the platform games of the twenties eighties and nineties. This is a standard born practically in unison with those who today are considered the pioneers of the platformer, those two-dimensional masterpieces (from Donkey Kong onwards) favored by an era in which the videogame was a language still in strong becoming. We could begin to write about it by borrowing the most disparate examples, but it is certain that few, for quality and historical importance, would have the same demonstrative efficacy as the first, timeless Super Mario Bros .
In that race from left to right towards the castle of Bowser is enclosed all that is needed to fully understand the playful offer of this first macro-typology of jumping experiences. It starts from a premise that is taken for granted: the character, a pixellated plumber, is called to leap continuously and slowly along the way, for reasons of time trial (the test is timed) and not only. Jump to overcome chasms, pass structures, collect coins, even to get rid of the most vulnerable enemies.
On top of this simple base, a series of elements must be added to make the gesture not a monotonous and puzzling reiteration, but a task to be faced with rigor. A key component of this machine is undoubtedly the level design : the layout of the obstacles is designed to become more articulated and Machiavellian with the progress of the stages, and at the same time to suggest "in a low voice" the solution to each problem to be addressed.
In a situation that staged two suspended floors, a fluttering Paratroopa in the middle and a gap too large to be filled with a normal jump, the player will know what to do at a glance, ordering Mario to take advantage of the shell of the turtle to bounce on the other side and thus save the pellaccia. Still, just a trail of gold coins placed between two rows of opponents to indicate implicitly which trajectory shooting would be worth following to not take risks of any sort.
Another central aspect in the platforms of this type concerns the inertia avatar which makes the action of detachment from the ground more or less credible and complex to calibrate. Launching Mario forward during a race is not, of course, how to perform the same task vertically, perhaps to climb a block of bricks: it is indeed necessary to reflect on the times and maneuvering spaces using precise techniques and timing, which vary continuously depending on the circumstances.
To verify how much a different management of physics can significantly change the dynamics of gameplay from one production to another, it would be enough to combine the traditional Mario games with those of New Super Mario Bros where the hero it looks much more "slippery". Otherwise you can think of the diptych Donkey Kong Country Returns / Tropical Freeze in which the gorilla's zompo is entrusted to the "floaty jump", a vaguely slowed jump that can help the experts to predict the drop point with millimeter accuracy
Around these two pillars – level design and character control – there is a plethora of other mechanics not always present, yet indispensable in the economy of some titles. That of the talents is one of the most common: they can be power up temporary ( Super Mario Bros again), but also objects perennial endowment, integral parts of the style of play (the famous pogo stick of Uncle Scrooge in DuckTales ; the armor of Mega Man X ).
In other cases, to be of cardinal importance is the component of the "acrobatic" jump a ploy that serves the developers to pack even rather demanding products in terms of challenge; a constant in the indie universe, which can take the forms of Celeste's aerial shots as well as extremely hardcore solutions such as those exhibited in Super Meat Boy that hell of wall jump to the pinch that has disturbed the nerves of not a few gamers.
It should not be forgotten the fringe of the so-called cinematic platformer which, compared to the examples above, declines everything in a different way, emphasizing the narrative aspect and staging environments full of pitfalls that somehow they bind those who play a repeated, timely and "pixel perfect" jump. Known examples are represented by the very first Prince of Persia and Another World, but also by the unforgettable – as diabolic – exponents of the series Oddworld .
If so far we have only mentioned works in 2D (or 2.5D, at most), does not mean that you can not find platforms focused on punctual execution even in the world of three dimensions. The formula of Crash Bandicoot speaks for itself, showing internships projected towards the depth of field that, as to the pretensions of timing of the jump and concentration, are anything but condescending.
Treasure hunters  The challenge focused on cleaning the jump, we mentioned, is just one of the two main roads that the platform game can choose to take. On the other hand, the second is based on the discovery of specific objects without which the doors of progression often remain locked. It is a way that finds its end in collectathon a very fruitful trend at the end of the last century and built around the serial and incessant accumulation of the most varied treasures, well represented by titles like Banjo -Kazooie and Spyro the Dragon . Without wishing to dwell on gender excesses, there are still many "middle ways" that show off a clear propensity to explore levels and collecting on the road, which they see in Mario " post 64-bit "and in the series Yoshi's the two shining faces of the same coin
We understand that putting – for example – Super Mario Odyssey on the same level as the above Yoshi's Crafted World may sound strange . Nonetheless, the desire to understand the advancement to platforms like "treasure hunt" is strong in both cases, even though it translates into very different approaches to the game. Looking at Mario's odyssey for Nintendo Switch it is immediately clear that the constant search for Lune is linked to a series of very open and stratified settings, that our mustachioed can visit in substantial freedom from top to bottom, in long and in wide. It is also made explicit the need to retrace over and over the world already scoured so as to come into contact with always new secrets, precluded previously for the most varied reasons. In short, it is a playful approach designed to make the product fantastic to replay, which does not give way to the experience of losing enamel even after a considerable amount of time.
For a Odyssey overflowing with contents to be found in every corner of the map, there is the new fatigue of the linguized lizard par excellence ready to show off an equally curious gameplay, although much more carefree in terms of rhythms and management of the in-game. As well as the episodes that anticipated it, Crafted World will resort to lateral and linear action to set up a universe literally to "disassemble". Not a galaxy of planets where the collectible must be located, reached with difficulty and finally made their own, either with the help of Cappy or with their own, simple skills of jumper; but a do-it-yourself ecosystem where Yoshi will have daisies and other collectible always within reach of eggs.
They will be hidden behind the shaped scenes, hidden inside shacks in the shape of boxes to undo, blurred in the background waiting to be seen and targeted, in short, more easily accessible, but also difficult to identify in the arc of a ' only run. At least, it is what we hope for a while 'all waiting for the next March 29, when we can explore Yoshi's Crafted World with the same childlike amazement that its sweet sauro protagonist, historically, has always shown to possess.
To you the word, to finish: which of these types of platform is more in your ropes? If you like, write to us in the comments!