PSYCHONAUTS / Double Fine / PC
Psychonauts came out in 2005 for Xbox and PS2, but it's more in the line of platformers for the previous generation, particularly the lineage that started on the N64 with Mario 64; "hub world" affairs that are as much about re-visiting old levels to find collectibles and hidden goodies as they are about progressing through new ones. Most of those old games wish they looked half as good as Psychonauts does, though, or had half the creativity in level design.

Psychonauts is really one of the best platformers of the 2000s, fused with just a mild bit of adventure game puzzles and inventory use (owing to most of Double Fine being the team that created some of the best adventure games ever made - Monkey Island 2, Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle and Grim Fandango among others.) The only thing that drags it down is a really bullshit final level that causes a good number of players to quit in frustration without actually completing the game. Through the miracle of Youtube now, though, you can just watch the ending if that's the case. Life's too short to beat your head against an entertainment product.

Our young hero Raz is an acrobat from a travelling gypsy circus family, who gets fed up with circus high-wire life and runs away. As it happens, Raz is also psychic, so he stows away at Camp Whispering Rock, training ground for promising young child psychics. The game is sort of like an odd fusion of Persona 4 with Mario platforming and the jumping/floating puzzles of the Zelda games (with Wind Waker's rope swinging and Deku Leaf being a particular inspiration.) The camp is the hub, which is sectioned off into various areas that you can explore at your leisure for collectibles to power yourself up. The actual platforming levels take place by diving into people's minds, and battling the various demons and complexes in their psyche. It's all played with a very cartoonish and comedic tone though; somewhere between Day Of The Tentacle, Grim Fandango and a Tim Burton movie.

The PC version (by way of Steam) picks up an Xbox 360 pad nicely, though if you want the button prompts to line up, you have to install a fan-made patch (linked below.) It's a fun adventure, with rather easy but often satisfying platforming (up to the final level anyway), collectibles that don't get in the way or get too obnoxious, great art and music, good characters, and is frequently good for a chuckle with the classic LucasArts mix of wry satire and absurd humor.
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