Parkour Games - 07/04/06, 12:09 AM
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In case you don't know what Parkour is I think you should check out this Wikipedia article.

In short words Parkour is an art of human movement focused on optimal overcoming of many different obstacles. Imagine running around the city, jumping over objects, climbing other objects etc. It is a very simplified definition, but that's basically what Parkour is about. Cool stuff, you should search the net, especially YouTube and Google Video, for examples.

So why am I talking about Parkour so much? That's because I'm going to talk about a platformer's subgenre that I call Parkour Games. You can use that term, just don't forget who invented it ;).

I guess I should explain what those parkour games are all about since I've invented the term. In general these are platformers that have pretty realistic movement physics depicted (i.e. no air control after a jump) and a player can use many different moves to overcome obstacles. In simple platformers physics tend to be simplified, a player can change direction of movement while in mid-air etc. Let's move to some examples.

First example is historic. The first parkour game I know of is the first Prince of Persia title. I mean the very first one, released in 1989. I think it was the first video game to use something similar to motion capture (it was called rotoscoping as far as I remember) to create characters' animations. The game creator filmed his younger brother running and jumping around. It was a revolution in gaming, because all of the sudden there was a game depicting realistic human animation and a hero that had to overcome many obstacles as fast as possible in a style resembling parkour. Maybe that title was too hard with one hour time limit to finish it all, but still it was something new at a time. And that old middle-eastern mood was neat.

I'm wondering if I should count Another World (known as Out Of This World in US) as a parkour game, but it's simply not parkour enough. I think that Flashback: The Quest for Identity was somewhat parkourish. Sure, that one had plenty of shooting and parkour elements weren't that exposed, but it still is a pretty parkourish game.

The real revolution in that subgenre was... the first Tomb Raider title. I know that everyone was excited about the low-polygon boobs of Lara's at a time, but that game had a lot of good gameplay and was something really new in its times. Also it was the first parkour game I know of in 3D. Sadly the whole series of Tomb Raider games went down the slope into suckyness, because every single title didn't have anything really new or better. The first one ruled though. I still remember how excited I was about the bear chase and fight from TR1 demo. It's nice that the series is reborn with a good title like Tomb Raider: Legend. Maybe it's not a revolution, but still it is a nice piece of gaming.

The next revolution in parkour gaming was Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. It is like bringing the refined parkour idea into a game. The Price performs wall-runs, jumps, climbs, swings on poles and overcomes obstacles with all those acrobatics. Next two titles of the series, Warrior Within and The Two Thrones only widened Prince's abilities. You should really check out those games if you haven't yet. Those games are as parkour as games can be. And you should be playing those three titles in order, starting with Sands of Time, because the story is continued through those games and it's a really good idea to play them all. The second one from that trilogy, Warrior Within, is the best in my opinion due to the darker mood, exciting escapes from the Dahaka and the most convoluted, time-travel based plot of all. A real king's dish, but the rest is tasty as well. I recommend those.

It's amusing how the subgenre was born with the creation of the first Prince of Persia and the best parkour games are the newest ones from the series.

I could talk about more games from the parkour subgenre, but I wanted to tell you about those most important. A lot of products are multi-genre today anyway so it's natural that there must be some parkourish games out there. Splinter Cell for example.

I've heard that Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure is also a parkour game, but I didn't have a chance to play it so I won't talk about it. Also Tony Hawk's American Wasteland contains some parkour elements.

I'll finish this parkour gaming trip here, because I was supposed to write shorter rants (it takes too much time to write them in two languages) and I failed again. If you think that I've missed some important parkour title that should have been mentioned here don't hesitate to let me know via e-mail (just click Contact in the menu above) or at the forum.