Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

Welcome to the world of platformer games! If you’re a gamer, you’re probably familiar with this type of game that involves navigating a character through various obstacles and challenges. But have you ever wondered why they’re called platformer games? In this article, we’ll explore the history and evolution of platformer games, from their early arcade roots to the modern gaming era. Get ready to discover the story behind one of the most beloved genres in gaming history!

The Origins of Platformer Games

The First Platformer Games: Pong and Donkey Kong

Pong and Donkey Kong were the first platformer games to be introduced in the early days of video gaming. These games laid the foundation for the development of the platformer genre and established the basic gameplay mechanics that would be utilized in future platformer games.


Pong was developed by Atari in 1972 and was one of the first video games to be released for commercial use. It was a simple game that involved a square paddle controlled by the player, which was used to hit a ball towards the opponent’s goal. Pong was a revolutionary game for its time, as it was the first game to use an electronic display to show a graphical representation of a sport. Although Pong was not a platformer game, it laid the groundwork for the development of video games and introduced the concept of controlling a character on a screen.

Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong was developed by Nintendo in 1981 and was one of the first platformer games to be released. The game featured a character named Jumpman (later renamed Mario), who had to navigate through a series of platforms to rescue a character named Pauline from a giant ape named Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong introduced the concept of jumping and platforming, which would become integral to the platformer genre. The game also featured a series of enemies and obstacles that the player had to overcome, such as fire and rolling barrels.

Donkey Kong was a huge success and established Nintendo as a major player in the video game industry. The game’s success led to the development of several sequels and spin-offs, including the popular Super Mario franchise. The game’s innovative gameplay mechanics and charming characters helped to define the platformer genre and influenced many future platformer games.

Overall, Pong and Donkey Kong were the first platformer games to be introduced and played a significant role in the development of the platformer genre. These games established the basic gameplay mechanics and set the stage for the many platformer games that would follow in their footsteps.

The Emergence of Super Mario Bros. and Its Impact on the Platformer Genre

In 1985, the world of gaming was forever changed with the release of Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Developed by Nintendo’s famous game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, this side-scrolling platformer game quickly became a global phenomenon, revolutionizing the platformer genre and paving the way for countless imitators and innovations in the years to come.

The Gameplay Innovations of Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Bros. introduced several groundbreaking gameplay mechanics that would become staples of the platformer genre. These included:

  • The ability to jump and perform acrobatic feats, allowing players to navigate challenging obstacles and enemies.
  • Power-ups, such as the “Mushroom” and “Fire Flower,” which granted characters special abilities like increased size or the ability to shoot fireballs.
  • A wide variety of enemies, each with their own unique behavior and weaknesses, requiring players to think strategically and adapt to different situations.
  • A detailed and imaginative world, complete with secret areas, hidden power-ups, and diverse environments to explore.

The Character Design and Visual Style of Super Mario Bros.

In addition to its innovative gameplay, Super Mario Bros. also boasted memorable and iconic character designs, which have become beloved by gamers of all ages. The game’s two main characters, Mario and Luigi, were initially designed as caricatures of Italian-Americans, complete with their distinctive clothing and accents. However, over time, they have evolved into globally recognized pop culture symbols, representing adventure, fun, and the ever-present quest for coins and power-ups.

The Legacy of Super Mario Bros.

The impact of Super Mario Bros. on the platformer genre cannot be overstated. The game’s success not only catapulted Nintendo to the forefront of the gaming industry but also spawned an entire franchise of games, movies, and merchandise, solidifying Mario and Luigi as two of the most recognizable and beloved characters in all of pop culture. Super Mario Bros. has since inspired countless imitators and innovations, and its influence can still be felt in the modern platformer games of today.

The Evolution of Platformer Games: Technological Advancements and Innovations

Key takeaway: Platformer games have evolved significantly since their inception, with early games like Pong and Donkey Kong laying the foundation for the genre. The emergence of Super Mario Bros. revolutionized the platformer genre, introducing new gameplay mechanics and setting the stage for future platformer games. Technological advancements, such as the rise of 3D platformers and the resurgence of 2D platformers, have contributed to the genre’s rich history and evolution. In the modern era, we can expect to see continued innovation and creativity in platformer games, with new mechanics, stories, and worlds to explore.

The Rise of 3D Platformers: Super Mario 64 and Beyond

In the mid-1990s, platformer games underwent a significant transformation with the release of Super Mario 64, which introduced the concept of 3D platforming to the gaming world. The game was developed by Nintendo’s EAD division and released in 1996 for the Nintendo 64 console.

Super Mario 64 was a groundbreaking game that revolutionized the platformer genre by introducing 3D gameplay mechanics, which allowed players to explore vast, open environments in a three-dimensional space. The game’s level design was highly innovative, with a focus on exploration, discovery, and creative problem-solving. Players could explore each level from multiple angles, climb up walls, and even swim underwater, all while collecting power-ups and defeating enemies.

One of the most significant innovations in Super Mario 64 was the inclusion of a camera system that allowed players to rotate the camera view and move the camera around the environment. This allowed for greater immersion and interactivity, as players could explore each level from different perspectives and get a better sense of the game world.

Super Mario 64 was also one of the first platformer games to incorporate a multiplayer mode, which allowed two players to compete against each other in mini-games and challenges. This added a new level of competition and social interaction to the platformer genre, which had previously been focused on single-player gameplay.

The success of Super Mario 64 spawned a wave of 3D platformer games in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with many developers following in Nintendo’s footsteps and creating their own 3D platformer games. Some notable examples include Banjo-Kazooie (1998), Spyro the Dragon (1998), and Crash Bandicoot (1996), which all featured similar gameplay mechanics and level design to Super Mario 64.

However, despite the popularity of 3D platformer games, they also faced criticism for being too linear and focused on collecting items, rather than offering more complex and challenging gameplay. This led to a shift in the platformer genre towards more challenging and complex gameplay mechanics, as well as a greater focus on storytelling and character development.

The Impact of Digital Distribution and Independent Developers on the Platformer Genre

Digital distribution has played a significant role in the evolution of platformer games. The advent of digital distribution platforms such as Steam, GOG, and the App Store has made it easier for independent developers to release their games to a wider audience. This has led to an explosion of creativity and innovation in the platformer genre, with a diverse range of games that cater to different tastes and preferences.

One of the most significant benefits of digital distribution is that it has reduced the barriers to entry for independent developers. In the past, independent developers had to rely on traditional publishing channels, which often required significant financial resources and connections. Digital distribution platforms, on the other hand, allow developers to release their games directly to consumers, without the need for a publisher. This has led to a proliferation of platformer games that reflect a wide range of styles, themes, and gameplay mechanics.

Independent developers have also brought a fresh perspective to the platformer genre. Many of these developers are not constrained by the demands of a publisher or the need to appeal to a broad audience. As a result, they are free to experiment with new ideas and take risks that might not be feasible for larger studios. This has led to a wave of innovative platformer games that push the boundaries of the genre and challenge players to think differently about gameplay and level design.

Furthermore, digital distribution has made it easier for players to discover and play platformer games from around the world. Platformer games have always been popular in Japan, but it was difficult for Western players to access these games in the past. Digital distribution has changed that, making it possible for players to explore a wide range of platformer games from different cultures and regions.

In conclusion, the impact of digital distribution and independent developers on the platformer genre has been significant. These innovations have led to a renaissance in platformer games, with a diverse range of games that cater to different tastes and preferences. As digital distribution continues to evolve, it is likely that the platformer genre will continue to thrive and push the boundaries of what is possible in video games.

The Platformer Game Mechanics: Jumping, Running, and Dying

The Importance of Platforming Mechanics in Platformer Games

The platforming mechanics, such as jumping, running, and dying, play a crucial role in the gameplay of platformer games. These mechanics define the core gameplay experience and provide players with a sense of control and agency over their characters.

  • Jumping: Jumping is one of the most essential platforming mechanics in platformer games. It allows players to navigate obstacles, traverse gaps, and access hidden areas. The timing and spacing of jumps require precision and skill, adding a sense of challenge and accomplishment when executed successfully. Jumping also provides a sense of verticality, allowing players to explore different levels and areas in the game world.
  • Running: Running is another fundamental platforming mechanic that allows players to move quickly across the game world. It enables players to cover longer distances and reach higher speeds, providing a sense of momentum and pace in the gameplay. Running also allows players to dodge enemies, obstacles, and hazards, adding an element of strategy and tactics to the gameplay.
  • Dying: Dying is a critical platforming mechanic that introduces a sense of risk and consequence in the gameplay. When players die, they often lose progress, items, or power-ups, forcing them to restart from a checkpoint or earlier stage. Dying can also serve as a learning experience, highlighting areas where players need to improve their skills or game knowledge.

Overall, the importance of platforming mechanics in platformer games cannot be overstated. They provide players with a sense of control, agency, and challenge, while also defining the core gameplay experience. These mechanics are often refined, expanded, and innovated upon in various platformer games, contributing to the genre’s rich history and evolution.

The Role of Difficulty and Punishment in Platformer Games

In platformer games, difficulty and punishment play a crucial role in the overall gaming experience. The challenge of navigating through obstacles and enemies adds to the excitement and engagement of the game. Here are some key aspects of the role of difficulty and punishment in platformer games:

  • Challenging Obstacles: Platformer games often feature challenging obstacles such as bottomless pits, spiked traps, and moving platforms that require precise timing and skill to overcome. These obstacles are designed to test the player’s reflexes, spatial awareness, and problem-solving abilities.
  • Dying and Gameplay Consequences: In many platformer games, death or failure to complete a level results in consequences such as losing a life, restarting the level, or having to restart the entire game. These consequences are designed to increase the stakes and create a sense of urgency in the game.
  • Learning through Failure: Failure is often a key component of learning in platformer games. Players may experience multiple deaths before mastering a particular section or overcoming an obstacle. This process of trial and error can lead to a sense of accomplishment when the player finally succeeds.
  • Punishment and Consequence: Platformer games may include punishment mechanics such as loss of lives, reduction in health, or other penalties for taking damage or failing to complete a task. These consequences serve to discourage risky behavior and encourage players to take a more cautious approach to the game.
  • Progression and Rewards: Platformer games often use a system of progression and rewards to encourage players to continue playing and improving their skills. As players progress through the game, they may unlock new levels, abilities, or power-ups that enhance their gameplay experience.
  • Balancing Difficulty and Fun: Platformer games must strike a balance between difficulty and fun. Games that are too easy may become boring, while games that are too difficult may be frustrating and discourage players from continuing. Developers must carefully design levels and obstacles to create a challenging yet enjoyable experience for players.

In summary, difficulty and punishment play a crucial role in platformer games by creating a sense of challenge and urgency, encouraging learning through failure, and providing a sense of accomplishment when obstacles are overcome. By carefully balancing difficulty and fun, platformer games can provide a rewarding and engaging gaming experience for players.

The Evolution of Platformer Games in the Modern Era

The Resurgence of 2D Platformers: Rayman, Ori and the Blind Forest, and More

The 21st century has seen a resurgence in 2D platformers, with developers creating innovative and visually stunning games that pay homage to the classics while introducing new mechanics and gameplay elements. Some of the most notable examples include Rayman, Ori and the Blind Forest, and more.


Rayman, developed by Ubisoft, first debuted in 1995 as a 2D side-scrolling platformer. The game follows the adventures of Rayman, a cartoonish character with limbs that can be extended and retracted, as he navigates through various levels filled with enemies and obstacles. The game was praised for its smooth animation, colorful graphics, and engaging gameplay. Over the years, the series has evolved and expanded to include various sequels, spin-offs, and even a movie.

Ori and the Blind Forest

Ori and the Blind Forest, developed by Moon Studios, was released in 2015 and has since become a beloved 2D platformer. The game tells the story of Ori, a small spirit with a powerful spirit blade, as he explores a mystical forest filled with danger and wonder. The game’s stunning visuals and emotional soundtrack, combined with its challenging gameplay, have earned it numerous awards and accolades.

Other Notable 2D Platformers

In addition to Rayman and Ori and the Blind Forest, there are many other 2D platformers that have gained popularity in recent years. Some of these include:

  • Super Meat Boy: Developed by Team Meat, Super Meat Boy is a fast-paced platformer that challenges players to navigate through levels as quickly as possible while avoiding obstacles and enemies.
  • Shovel Knight: Developed by Yacht Club Games, Shovel Knight is a retro-style platformer that pays homage to classic NES games while introducing new mechanics and gameplay elements.
  • Celeste: Developed by Matt Thorson, Celeste is a challenging 2D platformer that follows the story of a young woman named Madeline as she climbs a mountain filled with obstacles and dangers.

Overall, the resurgence of 2D platformers in the modern era has been a welcome development for gamers who enjoy challenging and engaging gameplay, stunning visuals, and memorable characters. These games continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in the genre, while also honoring the classics that came before them.

The Popularity of Metroidvania-Style Games: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Metroid Prime

  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night:
    • Released in 1997 for the PlayStation
    • Developed by Konami
    • A hallmark of the Metroidvania subgenre
    • Features a vampire-hunting protagonist, Alucard, as he explores a vast, interconnected castle
    • Introduced RPG elements to the platformer genre
    • Acclaimed for its immersive world, challenging gameplay, and atmospheric music
  • Metroid Prime:
    • Released in 2002 for the GameCube
    • Developed by Retro Studios
    • Part of the Metroid series, but with first-person perspective
    • Combines exploration, combat, and puzzle-solving
    • Set in a detailed, interconnected world with a rich backstory
    • Features an array of abilities that the player gains as they progress through the game
    • Known for its cinematic presentation, engaging storytelling, and impressive use of the GameCube’s hardware capabilities

The Future of Platformer Games: Trends and Predictions

The Continued Popularity of Retro-Inspired Games

The Resurgence of 8-bit and 16-bit Era Aesthetics

As technology advances, many developers are looking back to the aesthetics of the 8-bit and 16-bit eras for inspiration. Games such as Super Mario Bros., Castlevania, and Mega Man are being reimagined with updated graphics and gameplay mechanics while retaining their classic charm. This trend has led to a renewed interest in these older titles, driving their sales and fueling a nostalgic love for the simpler times of gaming.

Emphasis on Accessibility and Replayability

Retro-inspired platformers are also focusing on accessibility and replayability, making them appealing to a wider audience. Many of these games offer adjustable difficulty settings, optional hints, and even the ability to “rewind” the gameplay to allow players to try different approaches without fear of failure. This encourages players to revisit these games multiple times, creating a longer-lasting experience.

The Influence of Indie Developers

Indie developers have played a significant role in the resurgence of retro-inspired platformers. With smaller teams and lower budgets, these developers often look to the past for inspiration, resulting in unique, innovative titles that capture the essence of classic platformers while introducing new ideas and mechanics. Games like Celeste, Ori and the Blind Forest, and A Hat in Time have received critical acclaim and commercial success, proving that there is still a strong demand for retro-inspired platformers.

Cross-Platform Distribution and Audience Reach

The rise of digital distribution platforms like Steam, GOG, and the Nintendo eShop has made it easier for retro-inspired platformers to reach a broader audience. These platforms offer easy access to a wide range of titles, from the classics to the modern indie releases, making it simple for players to experience and enjoy these games regardless of their platform preferences.

In conclusion, the continued popularity of retro-inspired platformers is a testament to the enduring appeal of classic gameplay mechanics and aesthetics. As technology advances, developers are finding new ways to integrate these nostalgic elements into modern titles, creating a unique blend of old and new that resonates with players of all ages. The future of platformer games seems to be a bright one, with a diverse range of titles that cater to various tastes and preferences, ensuring that the genre will continue to thrive for years to come.

The Rise of Mobile Platformer Games: Crossy Road and Temple Run

The Influence of Technology on Mobile Gaming

Advances in Mobile Gaming Technology
Increased Processing Power and Storage Capacity
High-Quality Graphics and Sound
Improved Touchscreen Technology
The Impact of Technology on Mobile Platformer Games
More Complex and Engaging Gameplay
Greater Customization Options
Increased Interactivity and User Engagement

Crossy Road: A Case Study in Mobile Platformer Games

The Gameplay of Crossy Road
Navigating a Chicken Across Dangerous Terrain
Collecting Coins and Unlocking Characters
The Success of Crossy Road
Appealing to Casual Gamers
Accessible and Addictive Gameplay
Freemium Model and In-App Purchases

Temple Run: Another Popular Mobile Platformer Game

The Gameplay of Temple Run
Escaping a Temple While Collecting Coins and Avoiding Obstacles
Swiping to Jump, Sliding to Slide, and More
The Success of Temple Run
Engaging Storyline and Immersive Gameplay
Social Sharing and Competitive Aspects
Expansion to Other Platforms

Please note that the response is a continuation of the article, and the previous sections have not been included here.

The Potential for Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in Platformer Games

As technology continues to advance, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are becoming increasingly integrated into the gaming industry. Platformer games, in particular, have the potential to greatly benefit from these technologies.

One of the main advantages of VR and AR in platformer games is the ability to create a more immersive gaming experience. With VR, players can be fully immersed in a virtual world, interacting with their surroundings and enemies in a more realistic way. AR, on the other hand, allows players to see virtual elements overlayed on the real world, creating a unique and interactive experience.

Another potential benefit of VR and AR in platformer games is the ability to add new levels of difficulty and challenge. For example, VR could be used to create more realistic and complex obstacles for players to overcome, while AR could be used to create virtual enemies that blend seamlessly into the real world.

However, there are also some challenges and limitations to consider when incorporating VR and AR into platformer games. One of the main challenges is the cost and accessibility of VR and AR technology, as it can be expensive and may not be widely available to all gamers. Additionally, there may be limitations to the mobility and control of VR and AR systems, which could impact the gameplay experience.

Despite these challenges, the potential for VR and AR in platformer games is vast and exciting. As technology continues to advance and become more accessible, it is likely that we will see more and more platformer games incorporating these technologies to create new and innovative gaming experiences.

The Continued Evolution of Platformer Games: New Mechanics, New Stories, and New Worlds to Explore

As platformer games continue to evolve, new mechanics, stories, and worlds are being explored. Some of the trends and predictions for the future of platformer games include:

  • Increased use of procedural generation: With the rise of games like Spelunky and The Binding of Isaac, procedural generation is becoming more common in platformer games. This allows for endless levels and challenges, making each playthrough unique.
  • Greater focus on narrative: As games like Bastion and Limbo have shown, platformer games can also be vehicles for storytelling. In the future, we can expect to see more platformer games that prioritize narrative, with complex characters and plotlines.
  • New mechanics and gameplay styles: The future of platformer games may also see the emergence of new mechanics and gameplay styles. For example, games like Celeste and Super Meat Boy have shown that platformer games can incorporate elements of puzzle-solving and rhythm-based gameplay.
  • Expanded multiplayer options: Multiplayer options in platformer games have traditionally been limited to cooperative play or competitive leaderboards. However, with the success of games like Overcooked and A Way Out, we may see more platformer games that incorporate unique multiplayer experiences, such as split-screen play or online multiplayer with asymmetric gameplay.
  • Increased accessibility: Accessibility in gaming has become a major issue in recent years, and platformer games are no exception. In the future, we can expect to see more platformer games that prioritize accessibility, with options for customizable controls, assistive technology, and adjustable difficulty settings.
  • More diverse representation: The gaming industry has faced criticism in recent years for its lack of diversity in both its characters and its developers. In the future, we can expect to see more platformer games that feature diverse representation, both in terms of character design and storytelling. This includes not only a wider range of races and ethnicities, but also a greater focus on representation of gender, sexuality, and other underrepresented groups.

Overall, the future of platformer games looks bright, with new mechanics, stories, and worlds to explore. As the genre continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more innovation and creativity in the years to come.


1. What is a platformer game?

A platformer game is a type of video game where the player controls a character that runs, jumps, and interacts with a two-dimensional environment. The goal of the game is often to navigate through various obstacles and enemies while collecting items and power-ups to progress to the next level.

2. Why are they called platformer games?

The term “platformer” comes from the fact that these games typically feature a series of platforms that the player must navigate across. These platforms are often suspended in mid-air, requiring the player to jump from one to another. The term “platformer” is also used to describe games that use a “platform” as a base for gameplay, such as Super Mario Bros.

3. What are some early examples of platformer games?

Some early examples of platformer games include the classic arcade games Donkey Kong and Pitfall!, both released in the late 1980s. These games were among the first to popularize the platformer genre and paved the way for future games in the genre.

4. How have platformer games evolved over time?

Over the years, platformer games have evolved to include more complex level designs, better graphics, and more diverse gameplay mechanics. Many modern platformer games also include additional features such as multiplayer modes, online leaderboards, and customizable characters.

5. What are some popular modern platformer games?

Some popular modern platformer games include Super Mario Odyssey, Rayman Legends, and LittleBigPlanet 3. These games often feature stunning graphics, creative level designs, and a wide variety of gameplay mechanics that keep players engaged and entertained.

What is a PLATFORMER? – Gaming Glossary

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *