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It’s all gone grey…

Ultra-realistic graphics of recent times are great. They allow for features which previously didn’t stand out at all to become a whole new bag of fun. Probably one of the best examples of this being hit and run’s on GTAIV, which I myself can find myself doing for longer than perhaps is healthy mentally. Despite all the hyper realistic presentation though, a part of me feels somewhat unfulfilled by what drew me to some of my favourite games of all time; cartoon platformers.

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Won’t you shine, shine on?If you’re after some new games to brighten up your gaming time, why not check these out?

Beautiful Katamari (X360)
Dragon Ball Z Budokai Tenkaichi 3 (PS2)
Peggle Deluxe (PC)
Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction (PS3)
Sly Cooper (PS2)This is the first generation that there hasn’t yet been a truly great platform series present on, at least an original one. Sega has always had its Sonic, Nintendo its Mario and the like, but what of the new franchises? PS1 brought us two of the most successful series’ of recent years in the flavour of Crash and Spyro, and despite their almost childlike appearance, they provided a colourful charm mixed with solid and challenging game play. The same occurred on PS2 with Jak and Ratchet, despite being from the same developers the two series’ went on to be cult successes, if not reaching the mainstream popularity of the other two franchises.

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Nearly three years into the ‘next’ generation and the only comparable title we have is from good old Mario in his galactic adventure. Things looked promising on the 360 front when Kameo was on board from launch, but despite it being a solid and rather unique concept, it just didn’t have that spark which brings the Sony mascots of old to life. On the horizon we have Little Big Planet on PS3 and Banjo-Kazooie on 360 but little else in this vein. I have actually found myself going back to PS2 games in recent weeks in search of hidden gems in the genre I may have missed; scratch that…something that doesn’t just involve shooting things in one way or another!

As much as I love Halo 3, Call of Duty 4 and the like, sometimes I find myself needing a break from the gritty environments and needing to discover a colourful world full of predictable item collecting and boss battles. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but these games are far more relaxing than a blast on Halo online. The reason Super Mario Galaxy stood out even more so than expected was because it was a refreshing break from the grey environments of 2007’s other big hitters and Beautiful Katamari, despite being similar to the previous outings at least gave Sony Bravia’s an opportunity to look nearly as good as they do on that advert. The gaming industry is in desperate need of a few more developers to grow some balls and bring some variety to the pact. As great as this generation has been, there is something slightly soulless about the majority of the offerings so far, hell even Rockstar took away the cartoon feel from Grand Theft Auto and replaced it with believable scripts and a dry character.

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As a genuine gamer, I’m not asking for this generation to turn on its head or rant about how much better it was back in the good old days, but I do want to see more than just grey, green and black on my screen, please. Now, it’s time to get acquainted with Sly Racoon and his band of thieves…

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in November 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @StuartEdwards.

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