When games made the jump from 2D to 3D in the latter half of the nineties, we were still very much in the "mascot" mentality that helped to define the libraries of the Sega Genesis and SNES. Games like Gex, Crash Bandicoot, Banjo-Kazooie, Spyro and Croc were a huge part of the PlayStation era, but it seems like a genre almost entirely forgotten these days. Flip's Twisted World, by Frozen North Productions, aims to change that.
"That was most definitely our goal," Frozen North CEO Julian Spillane tells me. "We all hold Banjo-Kazooie, Jet Force Gemini, Spyro and Crash very dear to our hearts and that’s the type of game we really wanted to create when designing Flip’s. When someone plays the game and tells me that it reminds them of some N64 game it makes me smile because I feel like we’ve accomplished our goal."
We asked why the nineties 3D platformer has fallen out of favor in the modern era, and Spillane shared his thoughts on the matter: "I think it’s multifaceted: on one side you have the gamers who feel that those types of games are just ‘for kids’. Many of these gamers experienced the N64 era of 3D platforming at a young age and the general level of mature content in games has grown with them, so maybe there’s that attitude of platformers being just games that kids play. It’s just a theory but maybe it plays a part.
"The other thing it comes down to, again, is money. As developers we’re often reliant on the traditional publishing model to get games on to discs on the platform of choice. Platformers declined in popularity over the past decade and as a result have become a bigger investment risk. A publisher will say: 'This is great and all, but will we be able to recoup if no one is playing platformers?' and so, a sort of Catch-22 becomes apparent.
"We were just really lucky to find a publishing partner who believed in the idea and the genre enough to help us take it to market."
Flip's Twisted World is due out for the Wii in September, and as a gamer who fondly remembers the classic PlayStation/N64 era platformers, I'm really looking forward to checking it out!