So I just started Lost Winds on WiiWare and it further confirmed something that I've been suspecting for awhile lately: No genre hooks me quite like puzzle platformers, or PPs (god there's gotta be better shorthand that I'm missing). Here are some of my favorite things about the genre:
1.) Easy to pick up and play - This is especially true of 2D PPs. 2D platformers in general have always been perhaps the best genre for accessibility, and puzzle platformers, even though they obviously require more thought than the standard version, are really no exception. There's rarely anything intimidating in PPs that might give you pause before you dive in. Good examples start simple and ease you into the complexity so that you barely realize you're doing things you couldn't have done when you started.
2.) Heavy on variety - Not all PPs are like this, of course, but the best ones never stop introducing new gameplay or new ways of using the same mechanics.
3.) The right amount of challenge - As an old school NES game enthusiast, I like to be frustrated sometimes. But more often these days I like games to be just hard enough to be satisfying without making me break any controllers. With PPs, this means making the puzzles hard enough for me to feel clever but easy enough to not be stumped for more than a few minutes. This is a balance that most PPs I've played seem to strike quite well.
4.) Perfect as downloadable titles - These days I don't have as much time to sink 20+ hours into a game and retail games often find ways to pad the content in order to make it feel like it's worth the hefty price tag. Downloadable games don't need to do this and so they give you all the goodness they can come up with and then call it a day. PPs fit this perfectly because they can get stale quickly if they aren't changing things up (see #2). Even a 2 or 3 hour PP can be incredibly satisfying if it keeps you on your toes the whole game.
Limbo (PC) Vessel (PC) Rochard (PC) Klonoa: Empire of Dreams (GBA) Klonoa: Dream Champ Tournament (GBA) Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands (Wii) Portal (PC) Portal 2 (PC)
I'm sure I'm missing some other greats but I'm rushing this.
LostWinds 2 >>>>> LostWinds, so if you are liking the first, be sure to check out the second. There were supposed to be even more but I suspect that the 2nd sold kind of crappy since it seems no one has played it so... doubt there will be more.
Limbo was good.
Braid was amazing, although it's not that much of a platformer. But there is some platforming.
Portal 1/2 were of course awesome.
Henry Hatsworth was great but it's less a "puzzle platformer" and more a platformer where you stop and play a puzzle game sometimes.
The Fluidity games... awesome stuff. Non-conventional platforming too.
Portal doesn't really spring to mind as a "puzzle platformer" but I guess that's a weird combination of genres that is hard to pin down. And yeah, it's awesome. I wasn't crazy about LostWinds. I thought it was a little easy and short. Not bad, but not terribly impressive.
Braid is the one that immediately comes to mind. There are some real mind-benders in that one. And the gimmicks keep changing up throughout. I mostly enjoyed the plot, too. Definitely go for that one if you haven't.
Time Fcuk was surprisingly great, way better than I expected from a flash game. Fluidity's kind of unorthodox, both as a puzzle game and a platformer, but it's fantastic so I count it. DK '94 and Mario vs. Donkey Kong aren't especially puzzley, but they're close enough for me. A Boy and His Blob was quite good. And Yet It Moves was pretty good. Trine has its charms.
@Xbob42 I've been waiting on a sale for that one, but I don't know...it seems pretty genius from the trailers, it calls to me in my dreams. I might have to...gasp...PAY FULL PRICE.
Limbo is one of my favorite games ever. Nothing is more atmospheric than playing that game alone in the dark in dead silence!
I wouldn't consider the Portal games to be platformers, but if we're counting them, then yeah, Portal 2 is my second favorite game of all time behind Ocarina of Time. Shooting portals is such a good mechanic. I don't think I'll ever get tired of it.
@nate38 I paid full price. Totally worth it. It REALLY messes with your head in unique, genius ways. But it also has definitive rules that you come to understand the longer you're in the world. What seems like complete nonsense and borderline guessing at first all becomes clear the more you play.
Yea, Portal doesn't fit quite so squarely into the genre, but I think it's close enough and I wanted some 3D examples. Certainly if the same gameplay was adapted to 2D it would be easily considered a puzzle platformer, I think (didn't someone make something like that?)
I guess I'm just saying that you don't turn to Pushmo for platforming. It technically has some marginal platforming, but mostly only because it is a 3D puzzle game that has a character moving around in it.
I feel like calling it a puzzle / platformer is the equivalent of calling I dunno... Boom Blox a puzzle / SHMUP. Because you technically shoot things in it.