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Why Must We Bid Goodbye To One Of Gaming's Original Genres?

     Unfortunately, it seems that there are really no side-scrollers left in the world.

The good old fashioned Castlevanias, original Ninja Turtles, Super Metroid, Double Dragon, Sonic, Mega Man, and so many other great classics have all but disappeared. Perhaps they exist in the form of rarified, off-beat exclusively PSP and downloadable games. But for the vast majority of the gaming world they seem to be going extinct at an alarming rate.

     Which, to me, is rather strange. I would think that it's the perfect genre for the digital world. Not incredibly difficult to make, doesn’t have to be particularly fancy and can still be tons of fun. Huge bang for your buck as they always and perhaps surprisingly contained quite a bit of replay value. Has the player base changed so much that they just wouldn’t be profitable? Sure, we see them pop up now and then but in truth, this used to be a massive genre with rabid fans. As soon as Castlevania went 3D, I felt the tide turning and possibly saw it as the end of side scrollers. And in reality its slow demise began well before that. Will future generations grow up saying, "what’s a side scroller?" So, I guess my question is, what happened? Where did it all go and where did all the fans go?

     And with technology as it is today we could do very cool RPG side scrollers. TIme effected environments, all sorts of hidden rooms and secret stashes of gold or weapons guarded by complex puzzles. Absolutely massive map with inside and outside environments and fast-travel points. Different climate zones with different enemies. You could have a much more in-depth experience than was ever offered before. Maybe that detracts from the enjoyment of the classic side-scroller but as far as I’m concerned it’s not the simplicity of it. It doesn't have to be simple, it’s just a whole different type of gameplay that I find myself missing quite frequently.

     Come on! Mario?! Hello? One of the very roots of gaming itself and yet the entire genre is going the way of the dinosaurs? There’s so much that could be done with this; I just see it as a complete waste of one of the longest lived and most fun play styles ever invented. I can’t be the only one who has asked these questions or noticed the side-scroller's quiet decline. So, what do you think?

Related Game(s): Castlevania, metroid, mario

Tags: sidescrolling games, gaming genres, side scrolling video games

5/23/2013 5:40:52 PM Charles Dutka

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Comments (43 posts)

oONewcloudOo
Thursday, May 23, 2013 @ 10:23:22 PM
Reply

Maybe I'm not reading this right but there are a lot of side scrollers

Guacamelee
Thomas was alone
Little big planet
Sound shapes
Dokuro
Escape plan
Knytt underground, the list goes on. batman: arkham origins on vita is a side scroller. There are possibly hundreds on iOS and XBLA

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, May 23, 2013 @ 11:13:53 PM

Only a few of those would actually qualify as true side-scrollers.

And I think we're talking about bigger-budget side-scrollers...not all of them HAVE to be little bite-sized downloadable titles, do they?

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Axe99
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 2:53:17 AM

I still think there's quite a few side-scrollers out there. Also, remember that 'big budget' these days is a far, far larger budget than 'big budget' from the golden age of sidescrollers. I regularly play and enjoy sidescrollers, and while they're a smaller budget relative to the most expensive games, they're every bit as good a games as the classics. I'm not so fussed about the budget if we're still getting games of in the genre of high quality :).

Also - you just need less complex assets, physics, camera and a lot of other stuff for sidescrollers - there's no need for their budgets to be as high.

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oONewcloudOo
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 7:26:00 AM

Well you said yourself they don't have to be fancy. Some side scrollers do get a nice budget like Rayman origins/legends, super Mario bro U half of sonic generations was a side scroller. I'm probably wrong but isn't there more side scrollers now then there was during the ps2 era?

Ps. If anyone hasn't play Thomas was alone I really recommend it its a great little game.

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xenris
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 10:07:11 AM

Only a few of them Ben?

Guacamelee - Metroidvania style,

Thomas was alone - Puzzle platformer

Little big planet - mario style

Sound Shapes - Platformer

Dokuro - Puzzle platformer with Ico elements

Knytt underground - Metroidvania style.

So the only game that is not a "true" Platformer is Escape plan because it has kind of more an adventure game.


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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 11:26:12 AM

Don't be arbitrary, xenris. LittleBigPlanet isn't exactly Contra. We're looking at 3D involvement in most areas, along with completely different gameplay elements. On top of which, none of them can be considered significant releases as they're not exactly big games.

The point is that much MORE could be done with actual classic side-scrolling, and it doesn't have anything to do with new technology.

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SmokeyPSD
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 12:09:05 PM

It's a huge pitfall at this point to want a game to have a big budget I think. With the big budget, you get everything else... Unorginality, limitations of thematic exploration and just guts. Like film big really does not mean quality, at all anymore. It used to with games but not anymore the more it has become mainstream...

I think the sidescrolling out there has been pretty healthy in light of that context.

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xenris
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 12:17:48 PM

I didnt say it was Contra I said it had a mario feel to it. Which it does, you run around, have to time jumps and you collect stuff.

Point is those are all real side scrollers. And games like the ones you mentioned do exist they just dont need a huge budget. There are a ton great indie sidescrollers that capture the feel of those older titles your brother mentioned.

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LoneRanger1975
Thursday, May 23, 2013 @ 10:27:01 PM
Reply

Plus the BloodRayne PSN title. Actually I wish it would be ported to the Vita.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, May 23, 2013 @ 10:35:13 PM

That was a good one.

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Temjin001
Thursday, May 23, 2013 @ 10:33:00 PM
Reply

They're actually still around, not at the forefront as they were, but still alive. Some of the one's you've mentioned Charles have had recent updates. Megaman has had two retro-releases this gen. Also Nintendo has had New Super Mario Bros.(something I did play), definately a throwback title. Sonic also saw Sonic 4 Episode 1 & 2. Contra Uprising was faithful. Some ninja side-scroller released about a year ago. It netted great scores. There's also Limbo. I will say LBP makes for a goty class offering that I can't see why it wouldn't qualify. And Double Dragon Neon is as much a side-scroller today as it was way back.

They may not be usually found grabbing press lines but those who still like those types can find good offerings. I have anyway.

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Temjin001
Thursday, May 23, 2013 @ 10:36:27 PM

hehe they keep popping in my mind. Trine and Trine 2 were both great. Didn't people like that Braid game? I loved Splosion Man stuff.

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Temjin001
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 1:16:48 AM

The Puppeteer is a side scroller right? I want that actually.

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Temjin001
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 2:07:05 AM

Rayman Legends. That's one not to miss. It's sequel looks nice too.

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Killa Tequilla
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 8:50:34 AM

Shank? Is that a side scroller? How about Rocket Birds? Heck, I don't know what a side scroller is.

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Temjin001
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 10:42:21 AM

The Ninja game was made by the Shank people.

...and 6-player co-op side scrolling fun in Castlevania Harmony of Despair =p

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Temjin001
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 1:42:28 PM

A side scroller is ANYTHING that has your movement orientation constrained to an x and y axis, meaning you don't have an ability to move in 3-dimensional space.
Other side scrollers include Sine Mora and Soldner X.

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Temjin001
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 2:00:31 PM

actually there's one more element needed. The FOV needs to be constrained to facing the flank of your primary object of interaction.

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To Be Decided
Thursday, May 23, 2013 @ 10:38:49 PM
Reply

I don't think we can say good bye to this genre since there are some great titles still being made. However, the one genre we can say goodbye is Space Comba Simulation. With all the technology we have no one is making them. Sure there some iteration but I'm talking like level of Freespace pure simulation.

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Kryten1029a
Thursday, May 23, 2013 @ 11:18:30 PM

Chris Roberts of Wing Commander fame has gotten millions in crowdfunding to make Space Citizen, so that's a positive sign.

On subject though, side-scrollers were probably more prominent in earlier generations because they were well-suited to the limits of the technology available. You'll still see them, but they'll never be as big as they were.

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Kryten1029a
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 6:15:07 AM

Star citizen, not Space Citizen. Yeesh!

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, May 23, 2013 @ 10:39:09 PM
Reply

I sympathize but it's old fashioned so it's going to have to stay niche. Bringing extensive modern changes to them probably wouldn't bring any new fans. They're a relic, just like 2D fighters.

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Temjin001
Thursday, May 23, 2013 @ 10:44:48 PM

2D fighters have been very plentiful this gen. In fact Street Fighter 4 pretty much started a come back. Even classic franchises like Mortal Kombat returned to it's 2D roots. It's been great.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, May 23, 2013 @ 11:47:57 PM

But street fighter and MK aren't true 2D fighters, just in the format. BlazBlu did well I think. But still, relics I say!

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Temjin001
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 12:42:58 AM

I don't have contention with the relic thing ;) Persona, BlazBlue and KoF pretty much own the 2D + hand drawn scene these days. I'm not big into them but I'm glad they're there.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 2:17:37 AM

I played some of the Persona game, it was actually a decent complement to Persona 4 (which I have yet to finish after 70 hours of play).

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 5/24/2013 2:18:04 AM

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homura
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 12:56:17 AM
Reply

Terraria

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Mogreen
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 1:11:04 AM
Reply

I wish we could get a Massive 4-6 player Streets of Rage 4(or streets of rage legacy). Or if Sega gave those guys who made that ultimate Streets of rage legacy game some money to make it better (More/better combos,bigger environments, better graphics,4-6 players, voice acting, better AI, more animations, trophies, progression system etc. etc.) and put it on the psn, that would be the greatest 2D game of all time for me.

I am looking forward to Dragon's Crown though.

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Toxin
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 2:34:15 AM
Reply

Hmm a Trip A side-scroller with the 3d depth of Little Big planet and modern graphics.
I would love to see Castlevania like this. Think of the obstacles and additional mechanics that could be created. Imagine Dracula's true form being able to move in and out of the background. Even levels that have background that is alive like we seen in playstation allstars battle royal.

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Beamboom
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 3:22:02 AM
Reply

Side scrollers are still here aplenty, cue: The indie scene. A gazillion quality side-scrollers both within the RPG, arcade/shooter and puzzle genres.

We got the Trine games, those looks like a million dollars don't they? And the pixeljunk games are great too, top productions.
Check out titles like Waveform, Superbrothers, Rochard, Closure, Stealth Bastard, Altitude, Dungeon Hearts, Ultratron... Man, in fact sometimes it feels like *most* indie games indeed are side scrollers.
Plenty of these indie devs will come over to the Playstation platform now with the PS4. Just wait and see, you'll discover the side scrollers are far from dead.
Good times ahead :)

But I gotta say, if this article is really written by the bro' and not Ben himself then you two really have very similar ways of expressing yourselves!
Man it would be funny to hear you two in a heated discussion sometime, haha!

Last edited by Beamboom on 5/24/2013 3:51:07 AM

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ethird1
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 7:08:34 AM
Reply

2d games are not dying. For crying out loud. This is what happens when grown men play jrpgs that involves playing dress up with the girlies in order to gain super stats like SUPER PERKY POWER LIKE WHOA!!!

End of Line.

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___________
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 7:10:41 AM
Reply

there not extinct theres tons of 2D side scrollers, there all just downloadable titles.
how would you do a big extravagant epic 2D side scroller?
what is the AAA 2D side scrolling equivalent of uncharted?
plus the only reason why side scrollers are so missed and loved is because of nostalgia sake, even if you were to create a epic big budget AAA 2D side scroller it would loose its appeal because the whole lure of side scrollers is its nostalgic roots.
dam it, all this talk of nostalgia and side scrollers just reminded me how badly i want a new earthworm jim game!
playing it on my phone every day on the way to work just makes me want to cry!

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Casual Friday
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 11:07:04 AM
Reply

Come on Mario?

Wario Land Shake It (2008)
New Super Mario Brothers Wii (2009)
Kirby's Epic Yarn (2010)
Donkey Kong Country Returns (2010)
Kirby's Return to Dreamland (2011)
New Super Mario Brothers U (2012)
New Super Mario Brothers 2 (2012)

I've only played three of them but metacritic has them all rated pretty high so I assume they are all quality games. If there seems to be a dearth of this genre, I don't think the big 'N' is the one letting the gamer down.

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KidPresentable
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 5:30:49 PM

Did you say Nintendo?? Here?? How'd you get past the security check point??

That's a great list, man! I have all of those. I'll add a few more from the Wii:
Muramasa: The Demon Blade
A Boy and his Blob
Sonic Colors
Batman: The Brave and The Bold

2D is definitely alive and well!

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Nestore
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 11:16:41 AM
Reply

The comments are better than the op. There are tons of side scrollers out now. And they are better than ever.

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iankhaneagle
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 11:19:58 AM
Reply

a little clarification if you could? i am going over the pros and cons of a pre-order for Dragons crown the last few days. I am itching to put 5 bucks on it just to secure my copy. the only question is, what part of the game is RPG? is that mainly to mean that the characters powers get built up over the game? i am hoping it is more golden axe than anything else. i just have a fear that the RPG element might detract from the hack n slash style im hoping for. plus i think this would qualify as a platformer/side scroller. any help would be good? and to Temnjins point, i too am looking forward to Puppeteer.

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iankhaneagle
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 11:22:45 AM
Reply

isnt journey a side scroller?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 11:27:21 AM

Ah...no.

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android3243
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 9:23:21 PM
Reply

there's still a lot of side scrolling platformers like posts above said. Sonic 2D platform games still going strong, Mario... If you count smartphone games, we got a lot more.

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broox9
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 9:49:09 PM
Reply

I miss my Crissagrim. As soon as this basketball game goes off I'm going to fire up SoTN. I stand on that being in the top 3 best PSOne game ever.

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Hynad
Saturday, May 25, 2013 @ 9:47:01 AM
Reply

Funny you mention that game type.

I'm currently playing Dust: An Elysian Tail on steam, and it's absolutely awesome.

As for the genre as a whole, I think there are still plenty of side scrollers out there that are really good. Games like NSMB, Rayman Origins, DKCR, Trine, Scott Pilgrim VS The World, Muramasa, Shadow Complex, Limbo, Braid, Castle Crasher, etc...

Dismissing them for their budget is rather strange. You wouldn't expect those types of games to have budgets similar to CoD or Final Fantasy. That doesn't mean they're not quality products.

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Cho_Quin
Sunday, May 26, 2013 @ 2:06:53 PM
Reply

Hey Ben. You just made clear what's wrong with side scrollers..., most people don't care about them, and don't really know about them! Still, It's like you don't knew about all those side scrolling games all have spoken in the comments, its just that you don't pay attention to them, you take them for granted. but that doesn't mean they are going extinct. For me its easy the day sidescrolling dies, I stop playing video games. and I've been playing for 10 years!! the genre won't die because you can still make a great side scroller with a low budget. But i get your point, its time to evolve! I would like to see a high budget side scroller that its just mind blowing!! but no worries, that game will come

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telly
Tuesday, May 28, 2013 @ 2:50:12 PM
Reply

I love sidescrollers so, so much -- Symphony of the Night is in my top five games of all time -- but I'm not so sure they're vanishing quite as much as Charles suggests. Guacamelee was fantastic, some of the best mechanics and graphics I've ever enjoyed in a side-scroller. It wasn't enormous, but it wasn't tiny, either. It took me a good 10 hours to get through, about the same length as Super Metroid, and that doesn't include the tons of extra stuff you can hunt for.

And what about New Super Mario Bros U? The game was excellent, classic 2D sidescrolling with a fantastic coat of HD paint. But while the big Mario fans like me enjoyed it tremendously, how many people yawned and complained about it being more of the same?

And I for one am looking forward to the handheld Batman coming out this fall that will be in the Metroidvania style, though to be fair who knows if it'll be any good.

There are other examples, I'm sure. But it seems to me that if you want great, new, classic-style sidescrolling, you have some great options these days. Now if we could just get some more 2D Castlevanias...

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