Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

Have you ever wondered about the origins of the beloved platformer games that we play today? Join us as we take a deep dive into the history of platformer games and uncover the oldest one that has been gracing our screens for decades. Get ready to be transported to a world of pixelated heroes, breathtaking jumps, and thrilling adventures as we explore the evolution of this classic genre. So, buckle up and let’s embark on a journey through the history of platformer games!

The Origins of Platformer Games

The Evolution of Platformer Games

The evolution of platformer games can be traced back to the early arcade games of the 1970s, which were simple games with basic graphics and gameplay mechanics. These games laid the foundation for the development of platformer games, which would later become one of the most popular genres in video game history.

One of the earliest examples of a platformer game is the 1981 game, “Donkey Kong,” which was developed by Nintendo and featured a character named Jumpman (later known as Mario) who had to navigate through a series of platforms to rescue a damsel in distress from a giant ape named Donkey Kong. This game introduced the concept of jumping and climbing, which would become a staple of platformer games.

In 1985, Nintendo released “Super Mario Bros.,” which expanded on the gameplay mechanics of “Donkey Kong” and introduced new elements such as power-ups and hidden secrets. The game also featured multiple levels and a variety of enemies, making it a more complex and challenging game than its predecessor.

Another significant milestone in the evolution of platformer games was the release of “Sonic the Hedgehog” in 1991. This game introduced a new level of speed and agility to the genre, with its fast-paced gameplay and the ability to perform advanced moves such as spins and jumps. “Sonic the Hedgehog” also featured a unique art style and an engaging storyline, which helped to make it a popular and enduring franchise.

Overall, the evolution of platformer games can be seen as a gradual progression from simple arcade games to more complex and sophisticated games that incorporated new gameplay mechanics, art styles, and storylines. The games discussed above represent some of the most influential and memorable examples of this evolution.

The Influence of Platformer Games

Platformer games have had a profound impact on the gaming industry and popular culture. Some of the key ways in which platformer games have influenced the world of gaming and beyond include:

Creation of new genres

One of the most significant ways in which platformer games have influenced the gaming industry is by giving rise to new genres. Many early platformer games, such as Super Mario Bros., established the template for a new genre of game that combined action, platforming, and puzzle-solving elements. This genre has since been copied and expanded upon by countless other games, including Sonic the Hedgehog, Crash Bandicoot, and Rayman.

Impact on popular culture

Platformer games have also had a significant impact on popular culture. The iconic characters and environments of platformer games have become cultural touchstones, and the games themselves have been referenced and parodied in countless movies, TV shows, and other forms of media. The influence of platformer games can be seen in everything from the animated TV shows based on Mario and Sonic to the numerous references to these games in movies and TV shows like The LEGO Movie and The Big Bang Theory.

Influence on game design

Finally, platformer games have had a significant impact on game design as a whole. The design principles and mechanics of platformer games have been copied and adapted by countless other genres, and the influence of these games can be seen in everything from the movement-based combat of God of War to the open-world exploration of games like Assassin’s Creed. The legacy of platformer games is thus not just limited to the genre itself, but extends to the broader world of gaming as a whole.

Classic Platformer Games

Key takeaway: Platformer games have had a significant impact on the gaming industry and popular culture. From the early arcade games of the 1970s to modern indie platformer games, the genre has evolved and expanded to incorporate new gameplay mechanics, art styles, and storylines. Notable classic platformer games include Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., and Sonic the Hedgehog. In recent years, indie developers have made a significant impact on the genre, pushing the boundaries of what is possible with platformer games. The future of platformer games looks bright, with continued evolution, new challenges and mechanics, and ongoing popularity and influence.

Donkey Kong

Gameplay Mechanics

Donkey Kong, developed by Nintendo and released in 1981, was one of the first platformer games ever created. The game follows the story of Jumpman (later known as Mario), who must navigate through various levels to rescue a damsel in distress, Pauline, from the clutches of the titular character, Donkey Kong.

Jumpman must climb girders and avoid obstacles, such as barrels and fire, to reach Pauline. Players control Jumpman’s movements by jumping, climbing, and descending using the joystick. Jumpman can also throw barrels at Donkey Kong to temporarily stun him and gain access to new areas.

Significance in Platformer Game History

Donkey Kong is considered a groundbreaking game in the platformer genre due to its innovative gameplay mechanics and memorable characters. The game’s use of a heroic character (Jumpman) battling against a villainous character (Donkey Kong) would become a recurring theme in many future platformer games.

The game’s success also led to the creation of a new character, Mario, who would go on to become one of the most iconic video game characters of all time. The popularity of Donkey Kong also paved the way for the development of more complex and challenging platformer games.

Legacy in Modern Gaming

Despite being over 40 years old, Donkey Kong continues to have a lasting impact on the gaming industry. The game’s influence can be seen in many modern platformer games, including the Super Mario series, which features many similar gameplay mechanics and characters.

In addition, the game’s simplicity and accessibility have made it a favorite among retro gamers, who continue to enjoy its classic gameplay and timeless charm. The game’s enduring popularity has also led to numerous re-releases and remakes, ensuring that it remains a beloved part of gaming history.

Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Bros. is a classic platformer game that was released in 1985 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The game was developed by Nintendo and Shigeru Miyamoto and was designed to be a sidescrolling adventure game featuring the popular character, Mario.

Gameplay Mechanics

Super Mario Bros. is known for its simple yet addictive gameplay mechanics. Players control Mario as he navigates through a series of levels, collecting coins and power-ups while avoiding obstacles and enemies. The game features a two-player mode, allowing players to team up and complete levels together.

The game’s level design is also notable, with each level featuring a unique theme and obstacles that require creative thinking and quick reflexes to overcome.

Significance in Platformer Game History

Super Mario Bros. is widely regarded as one of the most influential platformer games of all time. It introduced a number of innovations to the genre, including the use of power-ups to enhance the player’s abilities, the introduction of a two-player mode, and the use of a world map to navigate between levels.

The game’s success also helped to establish Nintendo as a major player in the video game industry and cemented the popularity of the Mario character.

Legacy in Modern Gaming

Super Mario Bros. has had a lasting impact on the platformer game genre and remains a beloved classic to this day. Its influence can be seen in countless later games, including the numerous Mario sequels and spin-offs that have been released over the years.

In addition, the game’s iconic music and memorable characters have become a part of popular culture, with the image of Mario and his signature “It’s-a me, Mario!” catchphrase recognized by people all over the world.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic the Hedgehog, developed by Sega, was first released in 1991 for the Sega Genesis console. The game’s gameplay revolves around the titular character, Sonic, who is able to run at high speeds through a variety of different environments. Sonic’s main objective is to collect rings, which serve as both a form of currency and a measure of Sonic’s health. Players must navigate through levels while avoiding obstacles and enemies, and can use Sonic’s ability to spin into a ball to break through certain barriers. The game also features a unique feature called “Spin Dash”, where Sonic can accelerate quickly by curling into a ball and then quickly releasing it, allowing players to break through obstacles and gain speed.

Sonic the Hedgehog was a landmark game in the platformer genre, as it introduced several innovative gameplay mechanics that would go on to become staples of the genre. The game’s emphasis on speed and fluid movement, as well as its unique approach to collecting currency and health, set it apart from other platformers of the time. The game’s success also helped to establish Sega as a major player in the video game industry, and paved the way for the development of future Sonic games and other platformers.

The original Sonic the Hedgehog game remains a beloved classic to this day, and its influence can still be seen in modern platformers. The game’s fast-paced gameplay and unique mechanics have been emulated or referenced in many subsequent platformers, and the character of Sonic has become an iconic figure in the world of video games. Additionally, the Sonic franchise has continued to evolve and expand over the years, with numerous sequels, spin-offs, and adaptations across multiple platforms and media.

Modern Platformer Games

Indie Platformer Games

In recent years, indie developers have made a significant impact on the platformer game genre. These smaller studios have produced a number of critically acclaimed titles that have pushed the boundaries of what is possible in the genre. Some of the most notable indie platformer games include:

Shovel Knight (2014)

Shovel Knight is a retro-style platformer developed by Yacht Club Games. The game follows the titular character, Shovel Knight, as he explores a fantastical world and battles various enemies using his trusty shovel. The game was praised for its excellent level design, catchy soundtrack, and well-crafted boss battles. It also features a multiplayer mode, where players can compete against each other in a race to the end of the level.

Ori and the Blind Forest (2015)

Ori and the Blind Forest is a Metroidvania-style platformer developed by Moon Studios. The game follows the titular character, Ori, as he explores a mystical forest filled with dangerous creatures and challenging obstacles. The game is known for its beautiful visuals, challenging gameplay, and emotional storytelling. It also features a unique gameplay mechanic where players can use Ori’s abilities to manipulate the environment and solve puzzles.

Celeste (2018)

Celeste is a challenging platformer developed by Matt Makes Games. The game follows the character of Madeline as she climbs a mountain and overcomes various obstacles and enemies. The game is known for its tight controls, challenging gameplay, and beautiful soundtrack. It also features a story that deals with themes of anxiety and self-discovery. The game’s creator, Matt Thorson, has stated that he drew inspiration from classic platformers like Super Meat Boy and Mega Man when creating Celeste.

Platformer Games in the 21st Century

In the 21st century, platformer games have seen a significant rise in popularity, with many developers pushing the boundaries of what is possible with the genre. The success of modern platformer games can be attributed to a number of factors, including advances in technology, changes in player preferences, and the creativity of game designers.

  • The rise of the platformer game

One of the key factors behind the rise of platformer games in the 21st century is the advancement of technology. With the widespread adoption of 3D graphics and more powerful hardware, game developers have been able to create more immersive and visually stunning worlds for players to explore. This has allowed platformer games to evolve beyond their 2D roots and expand into new dimensions, offering players a more dynamic and engaging experience.

  • The future of platformer games

As technology continues to advance, the future of platformer games looks bright. Developers are constantly pushing the limits of what is possible, exploring new gameplay mechanics and incorporating innovative features that keep players engaged. Additionally, the rise of mobile gaming and the growth of the indie game development scene have opened up new opportunities for platformer games to reach a wider audience.

  • Notable upcoming releases

There are several notable upcoming releases that are set to shape the future of platformer games. These include titles such as “Celeste 2”, “Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time”, and “Ori and the Will of the Wisps”, which are all highly anticipated by fans of the genre. These games are expected to build on the successes of their predecessors and push the boundaries of what is possible in the platformer genre, making them ones to watch for gamers everywhere.

The Appeal of Platformer Games

Challenging Gameplay

One of the key factors that has contributed to the enduring popularity of platformer games is their challenging gameplay. Players are drawn to these games because they require mastery and satisfaction, precision and skill, and offer high replayability.

Mastery and Satisfaction

Platformer games provide players with a sense of mastery and satisfaction as they progress through the levels. Players are motivated to improve their skills and overcome obstacles, which creates a sense of accomplishment when they successfully complete a level or defeat a boss. This feeling of mastery is a core component of the platformer game experience and helps to keep players engaged and motivated.

Precision and Skill

Another aspect of platformer games that contributes to their challenging nature is the precision and skill required to play them. Players must be able to precisely time jumps, navigate obstacles, and execute attacks in order to succeed. This requires a high level of dexterity and coordination, as well as the ability to think quickly and adapt to changing situations. The challenge of platformer games lies in mastering these skills and overcoming the obstacles that stand in the player’s way.


Finally, platformer games are often highly replayable, which adds to their challenging nature. Players can retry levels or stages that they failed to complete, trying different strategies or approaches in order to succeed. This encourages experimentation and creativity, as players attempt to find the most efficient or effective way to navigate a level or defeat an enemy. Additionally, many platformer games feature multiple paths or secret areas that can only be accessed by skilled players, adding an extra layer of challenge and replayability.

Overall, the challenging gameplay of platformer games is a key factor in their enduring popularity. By providing players with a sense of mastery, precision, and skill, as well as encouraging replayability, platformer games continue to captivate and challenge players of all ages and skill levels.

Nostalgia and Memories

Childhood Memories

  • Nostalgic feelings associated with childhood experiences
  • Emotional attachment to games from formative years
  • Reliving fond memories through replaying classic games

Connection to Gaming History

  • Platformer games as part of gaming evolution
  • Historical significance of early platformer games
  • Appreciation for pioneering titles and their impact on the industry

Shared Experiences

  • Common ground among gamers who played platformer games
  • Shared memories and connections formed through playing games
  • Social aspects of gaming and discussing favorite platformer games

By examining the “Nostalgia and Memories” aspect of the appeal of platformer games, it becomes clear that these games evoke strong emotions and memories for many players. Childhood memories play a significant role in the nostalgia surrounding platformer games, as they are often associated with formative years and happy experiences. The historical significance of early platformer games also contributes to their appeal, as they represent a significant part of the evolution of the gaming industry. Finally, shared experiences among gamers who have played these games help to foster connections and social interactions, making platformer games a unique part of gaming culture.

The Future of Platformer Games

  • Continued evolution
    • New technologies and platforms
    • Enhanced graphics and sound
    • Improved gameplay mechanics
  • New challenges and mechanics
    • More complex level designs
    • Introducing new gameplay elements
    • Integrating virtual reality and augmented reality
  • Ongoing popularity and influence
    • Platformer games remain a staple in the gaming industry
    • Inspiring new genres and styles of games
    • Continuing to capture the hearts of gamers of all ages


1. What is a platformer game?

A platformer game is a type of video game in which the player controls a character that runs, jumps, and interacts with the environment to overcome obstacles and defeat enemies. These games typically feature side-scrolling levels and require the player to navigate through various platforms and hazards.

2. What is the oldest platformer game?

The oldest platformer game is a matter of debate among gamers and historians, but some of the earliest examples of platformer games include “Pong” (1972), “Space Invaders” (1978), and “Super Mario Bros.” (1985). These games were among the first to popularize the platformer genre and laid the foundation for future games in the genre.

3. What is the significance of “Super Mario Bros.” in the history of platformer games?

“Super Mario Bros.” is considered one of the most significant games in the history of platformer games. Released in 1985 for the Nintendo Entertainment System, the game introduced several key elements that would become staples of the genre, including power-ups, coins, and various enemies. The game’s success helped to establish the platformer genre as a popular and lucrative market for video game developers.

4. What are some other notable early platformer games?

There are many other notable early platformer games, including “Donkey Kong” (1981), “Jumpman” (1983), and “Ghosts ‘n Goblins” (1985). These games helped to shape the platformer genre and influenced many subsequent games in the genre.

5. How has the platformer genre evolved over time?

The platformer genre has evolved significantly over time, with new games introducing new mechanics, graphics, and gameplay elements. Some notable trends in the evolution of platformer games include the introduction of 3D graphics, the addition of multiplayer modes, and the incorporation of more complex storylines and characters. Today, platformer games continue to be a popular and beloved genre in the world of video games.


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