Mon. May 27th, 2024

Gamers, geeks, and nerds unite! It’s time to delve into the fascinating world of platformer games, and ask the burning question – was Super Mario Bros really the first platformer game? The rise of platformer games has been nothing short of meteoric, with their popularity exploding in the 80s and 90s. But who can we thank for this gaming revolution? Is it time to give the golden crown to the mustachioed plumber who captured our hearts? Or was he just the tip of the iceberg in a sea of innovative gaming ideas? Let’s take a journey through the evolution of platformer games and uncover the truth. Grab your power-ups and jump on in!

Quick Answer:
Super Mario Bros is often credited as the first platformer game, but it was not the first game of its kind. Platformer games have been around since the early days of video games, with examples such as Pitfall! and Donkey Kong preceding Super Mario Bros. However, Super Mario Bros popularized the genre and set the standard for platformer games that followed. It introduced features such as jumping and power-ups, and its gameplay mechanics have been copied and refined in countless subsequent games. While it may not have been the first platformer game, Super Mario Bros remains one of the most iconic and influential games in the genre.

The Origins of Platformer Games

Early Arcade Games

In the early days of video games, the platformer genre was not yet fully realized. However, several early arcade games featured elements that would later become synonymous with the platformer genre.

One of the earliest examples of a game that could be considered a precursor to the platformer is “Spacewar!”, which was developed in 1962 by MIT students Martin Graetz and Alan Kotok. While not a platformer in the traditional sense, “Spacewar!” featured a spaceship that could move left and right, and a torpedo that the player had to dodge.

Another early arcade game that laid the groundwork for the platformer genre was “Pong”, which was released in 1972 by Atari. While “Pong” was a simple game that involved hitting a ball back and forth across a court, it introduced the concept of player control and movement on a 2D plane.

In 1976, the game “Jumping Jack” was released by Sega. This game featured a character that could jump over obstacles and enemies, and it is considered to be one of the first platformer games.

Overall, while “Super Mario Bros” is often credited with popularizing the platformer genre, it was built upon the foundation of earlier arcade games that featured elements such as player control, movement on a 2D plane, and the need to dodge obstacles and enemies.

Donkey Kong and the Rise of Platformers

In 1981, the arcade game Donkey Kong was released by Nintendo, marking the beginning of the platformer genre. The game was designed by Shigeru Miyamoto and featured a character named Jumpman (later renamed Mario) who had to navigate a series of obstacles to rescue a damsel in distress from a giant ape named Donkey Kong.

Donkey Kong introduced several elements that would become staples of the platformer genre, such as:

  • A jump button that allowed players to make precise jumps over obstacles and onto platforms.
  • Enemies that would try to hinder the player’s progress, such as fireballs thrown by Donkey Kong.
  • Power-ups that would give the player temporary boosts, such as the “hammer” that allowed Jumpman to knock out bricks in the level.

The game’s success led to a sequel, Donkey Kong Jr., which further refined the platformer formula. It also led to the creation of Mario as a franchise, with the character going on to star in several more games and become one of the most iconic video game characters of all time.

However, while Donkey Kong is often credited as the first platformer, there were earlier games that featured platforming elements. For example, the 1979 game Pitfall! for the Atari 2600 featured a character who could jump over obstacles and climb ladders, and the 1980 game Jumpman for the arcade featured a character who could jump over obstacles in a 2D environment.

Overall, while Donkey Kong was not the first platformer, it was a key game in the genre’s development and helped to popularize the format.

Mario’s First Steps: Super Mario Bros

Super Mario Bros, released in 1985, is often considered the game that popularized the platformer genre. However, this assumption has been called into question by some industry experts. In this section, we will delve into the history of platformer games and explore the evolution of the genre that led to the creation of Super Mario Bros.

The Early Years: Platform Games before Super Mario Bros

The first platformer games were created in the late 1970s and early 1980s. These early games, such as the 1979 game “Space Panic,” featured a character that moved horizontally across the screen, with the goal of reaching the top of the screen while avoiding obstacles. Other early platformers included “Donkey Kong” (1981) and “Pitfall!” (1982), which introduced the concept of jumping and climbing.

The Emergence of Mario: Platformer Games in Japan

The Mario character was first introduced in the 1981 game “Radar Scope,” a sports-themed arcade game developed by Nintendo. However, it was not until the release of “Super Mario Bros” that the character gained widespread popularity. In Japan, the platformer genre was already established, with games like “The Goonies” (1986) and “Bionic Commando” (1987) being popular in the years leading up to the release of Super Mario Bros.

The Impact of Super Mario Bros

Super Mario Bros was a groundbreaking game that combined elements from previous platformers and added new features, such as power-ups and secret areas. The game’s success led to the creation of numerous sequels, spin-offs, and imitators, and the platformer genre became one of the most popular genres in video games. The game’s success also helped to establish Nintendo as a major player in the video game industry.

In conclusion, while Super Mario Bros is often credited as the first platformer game, the genre had already been established in Japan before the game’s release. Super Mario Bros was, however, a significant milestone in the evolution of the platformer genre, and its impact on the industry cannot be overstated.

Revolutionizing the Platformer Genre

Super Mario Bros was not the first platformer game, but it revolutionized the genre in many ways. The game introduced new mechanics, such as power-ups and a jump button, that would become staples of the genre. Additionally, the game’s graphics and sound were significantly improved compared to previous platformers, making it a more immersive experience for players. The game’s level design was also innovative, with hidden areas and secret paths that added replayability and encouraged exploration. Finally, the game’s two-player mode, which allowed two players to play simultaneously, was a new feature that helped to popularize the genre.

The Impact of Super Mario Bros

Key takeaway: The platformer game genre had already been established in Japan before the release of Super Mario Bros in 1985. While Super Mario Bros popularized the platformer genre, it was built upon the foundation of earlier arcade games that featured elements such as player control, movement on a 2D plane, and the need to dodge obstacles and enemies.

Shaping the Future of Gaming

Super Mario Bros, released in 1985, was a groundbreaking game that changed the landscape of the gaming industry. It was not just a platformer game, but it set the standard for what a platformer game should be. The game’s success led to the creation of a vast array of platformer games, and its impact on the gaming industry cannot be overstated.

One of the key factors that made Super Mario Bros so successful was its innovative gameplay mechanics. The game introduced the concept of power-ups, which gave players special abilities such as super strength or the ability to fly. These power-ups added a new dimension to the gameplay, making it more exciting and challenging. Additionally, the game featured a multi-level design, with each level featuring unique challenges and obstacles that players had to overcome.

Super Mario Bros also featured outstanding graphics and sound effects that made the game even more immersive. The game’s graphics were some of the best of their time, with detailed environments and smooth animations. The sound effects were also top-notch, with memorable music and realistic sound effects that added to the game’s atmosphere.

The game’s success also led to the creation of a vast array of merchandise, including toys, clothing, and other products. The character of Mario became an iconic figure in popular culture, and his image was everywhere. This led to a whole new industry of Mario-themed products, which further increased the game’s popularity.

Overall, Super Mario Bros was a game-changer in the gaming industry. Its innovative gameplay mechanics, outstanding graphics and sound effects, and iconic characters helped shape the future of gaming. The game’s impact can still be felt today, with many platformer games still drawing inspiration from the original Super Mario Bros.

Popularizing Platformer Games

Super Mario Bros, released in 1985, revolutionized the gaming industry by introducing new mechanics and level design that made it a commercial success. The game’s popularity was not only limited to the gaming world but also had a significant impact on popular culture. The game’s characters, such as Mario and Luigi, became household names and iconic figures in the world of entertainment.

The game’s success also led to the creation of numerous imitators and clones, with many games attempting to replicate the gameplay and mechanics of Super Mario Bros. However, it is important to note that Super Mario Bros was not the first platformer game, as it drew inspiration from earlier games such as Donkey Kong and Pitfall. Nonetheless, Super Mario Bros is widely regarded as the game that popularized the platformer genre and paved the way for future platformer games.

The Evolution of Mario and Friends

Since its release in 1985, Super Mario Bros has been a defining force in the platformer game genre. The game’s impact can be seen in the evolution of the game’s main character, Mario, and his companions.

The Evolution of Mario

Mario, the main character in Super Mario Bros, has undergone several changes over the years. In the original game, Mario was a simple, two-dimensional character who jumped and ran through a series of levels, dodging obstacles and defeating enemies. Over time, however, Mario has gained new abilities and become more complex. For example, in Super Mario Bros 2, Mario gained the ability to fly, and in Super Mario 3D World, he could turn into a cat.

The Evolution of Friends

In addition to Mario, the game’s supporting characters have also evolved over time. For example, Luigi, Mario’s brother, was introduced in the original Super Mario Bros game as a palette-swapped version of Mario. However, in later games, Luigi gained unique abilities, such as the ability to jump higher than Mario in Super Luigi U.

Other characters, such as Princess Peach and Yoshi, have also undergone changes over the years. In early games, Princess Peach was simply a damsel in distress who needed to be rescued by Mario. However, in later games, she became a more active character, with the ability to float and use her hair as a whip. Similarly, Yoshi started as a simple steed for Mario to ride, but in later games, he gained the ability to lay eggs and shoot eggs out of his mouth.

The evolution of Mario and his friends has helped to keep the Super Mario Bros franchise fresh and interesting over the years, ensuring its continued popularity in the platformer game genre.

Expanding the Mario Universe

Super Mario Bros, released in 1985, marked a significant turning point in the platformer genre. The game introduced new elements to the genre, including power-ups, a diverse range of enemies, and innovative level design. The game’s success led to the creation of a vast and immersive universe for the franchise.

Creation of a Rich World

The world of Super Mario Bros is full of secrets, hidden paths, and diverse environments. Each level is designed with a unique theme, from the lush green pipes of the Mushroom Kingdom to the fiery lava pits of Castle Voldor. These levels are interconnected, allowing players to explore and discover new areas as they progress through the game.

Development of Recurring Characters

The game features several iconic characters that have become synonymous with the franchise. The most famous of these is Mario himself, who is joined by his brother Luigi and Princess Peach. Each character has their own unique abilities and play styles, adding depth and variety to the gameplay.

Introduction of Power-Ups

One of the most significant innovations in Super Mario Bros is the inclusion of power-ups. These include the iconic Super Star, which turns Mario into an invincible, high-speed version of himself, and the Fire Flower, which allows Mario to shoot fireballs at his enemies. These power-ups add an extra layer of excitement to the gameplay, encouraging players to explore and experiment with different strategies.

Influence on Future Games

The success of Super Mario Bros has had a profound impact on the platformer genre. The game’s innovative design and engaging gameplay have inspired countless imitators and innovations, shaping the future of gaming. Many platformer games that followed in its wake have attempted to capture the magic of Super Mario Bros, either by replicating its gameplay mechanics or by creating their own unique worlds and characters.

In conclusion, Super Mario Bros has played a significant role in the evolution of platformer games. Its impact can be seen in the rich worlds, diverse characters, and innovative gameplay mechanics that have become staples of the genre. As a result, Super Mario Bros will forever be remembered as a defining moment in the history of gaming.

Comparing Super Mario Bros to Other Early Platformers

Pitfall! and Jungle Adventure

Pitfall! and Jungle Adventure were two early platformers that predate the release of Super Mario Bros. in 1985. While Super Mario Bros. is often credited as the game that popularized the platformer genre, these earlier games laid the groundwork for many of the mechanics and gameplay elements that would become synonymous with the genre.

Pitfall! was released in 1982 for the Atari 2600 and was developed by Activision. The game was designed by Pitfall! creator, David Crane, and featured a character named Pitfall Harry who navigated a series of obstacles and enemies in a jungle environment. The game was notable for its detailed graphics and animation, which were considered impressive for the time. Pitfall! also featured a variety of obstacles, such as pits, rocks, and rolling logs, that challenged players to navigate the environment and avoid danger.

Jungle Adventure, released in 1983 for the Sega Master System, was developed by Sega and designed by Yuji Naka. The game featured a character named Dr. David Light who navigated a series of platforms and obstacles in a jungle environment. Like Pitfall!

Sonic the Hedgehog and the Rise of 2D Platformers

Although Super Mario Bros was undoubtedly a landmark game in the evolution of platformer games, it was not the first game of its kind. Other early platformers, such as Donkey Kong and Pitfall!, had already laid the groundwork for the genre, but it was the release of Sonic the Hedgehog in 1991 that truly revolutionized the 2D platformer.

Developed by Sega, Sonic the Hedgehog brought a new level of speed and agility to the platformer genre. Unlike previous games that focused on precise jumping and exploration, Sonic was all about high-speed runs and dodging obstacles. The game’s main character, Sonic the Hedgehog, was a blue, anthropomorphic hedgehog with the ability to run at supersonic speeds. Players controlled Sonic as he raced through levels, jumping over obstacles, and defeating enemies.

One of the most notable features of Sonic the Hedgehog was its use of visuals and music to enhance the gaming experience. The game’s levels were designed with a distinct visual style, featuring bright colors and detailed backgrounds. The game’s soundtrack, composed by Yuji Naka and Masato Nakamura, was also a standout feature, with catchy melodies and upbeat rhythms that helped to immerse players in the game world.

Sonic the Hedgehog was also notable for its innovative gameplay mechanics. In addition to Sonic’s high-speed runs, the game introduced the concept of “rings,” which players had to collect in order to access special areas and bonuses. The game also featured a unique “spin dash” move, which allowed players to perform a spinning attack that could be used to break through certain obstacles.

The success of Sonic the Hedgehog helped to popularize the 2D platformer genre and paved the way for future games in the series, as well as other popular platformers like Mario and Donkey Kong Country. Today, the game is still regarded as a classic and is often cited as one of the greatest video games of all time.

Contributions to the Platformer Genre

Super Mario Bros, developed by Nintendo in 1985, is often credited as the game that popularized the platformer genre. While it was not the first platformer game, it introduced several innovations that set the standard for the genre and had a significant impact on its evolution.

One of the key contributions of Super Mario Bros was the introduction of a jump button. This allowed players to control the height and timing of their jumps, adding a new level of complexity and skill to the gameplay. It also enabled the creation of complex levels with multiple paths and hidden areas, encouraging exploration and replayability.

Another significant contribution was the addition of power-ups, such as the “Mushroom” which allowed the player to grow in size and become more invincible. This added a new layer of strategy to the game, as players had to carefully manage their power-ups and choose the right time to use them.

Super Mario Bros also introduced a two-player mode, allowing players to compete or cooperate in the same game. This added a new level of social interaction to the platformer genre, and encouraged competition and collaboration among players.

Additionally, the game featured a diverse cast of characters, including enemies, bosses, and allies, each with their own unique abilities and behaviors. This added depth and variety to the gameplay, and encouraged players to experiment with different strategies and tactics.

Overall, Super Mario Bros made several important contributions to the platformer genre, including the introduction of a jump button, power-ups, two-player mode, and diverse cast of characters. These innovations set the standard for the genre and had a significant impact on its evolution.

Super Mario Bros as a Template for Future Games

While Super Mario Bros may not have been the first platformer game, it is undeniable that it set the standard for the genre and served as a template for future games. Here are some ways in which Super Mario Bros has influenced subsequent platformer games:

Iconic Characters and Enemies

Super Mario Bros introduced several iconic characters and enemies that have become staples of the platformer genre. The lovable, mustachioed plumber named Mario, his loyal brother Luigi, and their nemesis Bowser have become recognizable figures even outside the gaming world. Similarly, other early platformers like Donkey Kong and Pitfall! had their own memorable characters, but none have had the enduring appeal of Mario and his friends.

Platforming Mechanics

Super Mario Bros popularized several platforming mechanics that have since become standard in the genre. The ability to jump and run, the use of power-ups to enhance abilities, and the concept of secret areas and hidden paths are all hallmarks of platformer games that can be traced back to Super Mario Bros. The game’s level design, with its clever use of obstacles and hazards, has also been imitated by countless other platformers.

Innovative Power-Ups

One of the most memorable aspects of Super Mario Bros is its innovative use of power-ups. The Super Mushroom, which made Mario grow to immense proportions, and the Fire Flower, which allowed him to shoot fireballs, are two of the most iconic power-ups in gaming history. These power-ups not only added variety to the gameplay but also allowed players to experiment with different strategies and approaches.

Platforming Platforms

Finally, Super Mario Bros helped to establish the platformer genre as a staple of the gaming industry. The game’s success paved the way for a flood of other platformer games on a variety of platforms, from home consoles to handheld devices. The popularity of Super Mario Bros also helped to popularize the idea of gaming as a form of entertainment for people of all ages.

Overall, while Super Mario Bros may not have been the first platformer game, it has had an indelible impact on the genre and has served as a template for countless other games. Its iconic characters, innovative mechanics, and catchy music have helped to make it one of the most beloved and enduring video games of all time.

The Lasting Legacy of Super Mario Bros

Revolutionizing the Gaming Industry

Super Mario Bros was released in 1985, and it revolutionized the gaming industry. It was the first game to feature a mascot character that would become synonymous with the company that created it. The game’s innovative gameplay mechanics, such as the ability to jump and perform power-ups, set a new standard for platformer games.

Establishing Platformer Games as a Genre

Super Mario Bros is widely considered to be the first true platformer game. The game’s level design, where players had to navigate through different obstacles and enemies, laid the foundation for the platformer genre. It established the conventions that would be used in countless platformer games that followed, including the use of power-ups, secret areas, and boss battles.

Creating a Iconic Character

The game’s main character, Mario, became an iconic figure in popular culture. He has since appeared in numerous sequels, spin-offs, and merchandise. Mario’s popularity transcended the gaming world and became a cultural phenomenon. The character’s simple yet recognizable design, along with his catchphrase “It’s-a me, Mario!”, has made him one of the most recognizable video game characters of all time.

Influencing Future Platformer Games

Super Mario Bros also influenced the design of future platformer games. The game’s success led to the creation of countless imitators, but few were able to replicate its success. The game’s level design, music, and characters have been imitated in countless other games, but none have been able to capture the same magic that made Super Mario Bros such a beloved classic.

Creating a New Standard for Platformer Games

Super Mario Bros set a new standard for platformer games that has yet to be surpassed. Its innovative gameplay mechanics, memorable characters, and catchy music have made it a timeless classic. The game’s impact on the gaming industry cannot be overstated, and its influence can still be felt in modern platformer games. It remains one of the most beloved and iconic video games of all time.

The Importance of Platformer Games Today

  • Popularity: Platformer games remain a popular genre among gamers today, with a dedicated fan base and continuous development of new games.
  • Innovation: The platformer genre has seen numerous innovations and evolutions over the years, with new mechanics and features being introduced to keep the genre fresh and exciting.
  • Cultural Impact: Platformer games have had a significant impact on popular culture, with iconic characters and memorable music becoming a part of the cultural fabric.
  • Technological Advancements: The platformer genre has also been influenced by technological advancements, with the rise of 3D graphics and motion controls bringing new dimensions to the genre.
  • Accessibility: Platformer games are often praised for their accessibility, with simple controls and easy-to-understand gameplay mechanics making them accessible to players of all ages and skill levels.
  • Replay Value: Many platformer games offer a high level of replay value, with multiple levels, hidden secrets, and challenges to keep players engaged and coming back for more.
  • Influence on Other Genres: The platformer genre has also had an influence on other genres, with platformer mechanics and gameplay elements being incorporated into other types of games, such as puzzle and action games.

Further Reading and Resources

For those interested in delving deeper into the history of platformer games, there are several resources available that provide valuable insights and context.

  • “The Platform Game: From Space Invaders to Super Mario Bros.” by Keith Stuart: This book offers a comprehensive history of platformer games, exploring their evolution from early arcade games to modern console titles. It covers the key games and developers that shaped the genre, as well as the cultural impact of platformers on gaming and popular culture.
  • “Retro Gaming: Super Mario Bros” by David Kushner: This book is a retrospective look at the development and impact of Super Mario Bros, featuring interviews with key members of the development team and other industry professionals. It provides a detailed account of the creative process behind the game, as well as its lasting influence on the platformer genre.
  • “Platform Panic: A Brief History of Platform Games” by Fraser Brown: This article provides a concise overview of the history of platformer games, highlighting the key innovations and trends that have shaped the genre over the years. It also includes interviews with prominent game developers and industry experts, offering insights into the challenges and opportunities of creating successful platformer games.
  • “The Art of Super Mario Bros” by Kyle Pope: This book is a visual history of the art and design of Super Mario Bros, featuring concept art, sprite sheets, and other archival materials. It provides a detailed look at the creative process behind the game’s iconic characters, levels, and gameplay mechanics, as well as its influence on subsequent platformer games.
  • “The Platformer: A History of the Interactive Platform Game” by Michele Malo: This book is a comprehensive history of the platformer genre, covering its origins in the arcade era to its evolution on home consoles and PCs. It includes interviews with game developers, scholars, and critics, as well as a detailed analysis of the key games and trends that have shaped the genre.

These resources offer a wealth of information for those interested in exploring the history and evolution of platformer games, particularly in relation to Super Mario Bros and its impact on the gaming industry.

Acknowledgements

  • While Super Mario Bros is often credited as the first platformer game, it is important to acknowledge other early platformers that predate its release.
  • Some of these early platformers include:
    • Donkey Kong (1981)
    • Pitfall! (1982)
    • Jumpman (1983)
  • These games all featured similar gameplay mechanics, such as jumping and climbing, but Super Mario Bros introduced several innovations that set it apart from its predecessors.
  • These innovations include:
    • Character controls: Super Mario Bros introduced the concept of character controls, allowing players to move their character in multiple directions.
    • Power-ups: Super Mario Bros introduced power-ups such as the “mushroom” which allowed players to gain extra lives and enhance their character’s abilities.
    • World design: Super Mario Bros featured a more linear world design, with distinct levels and areas that players could explore in a specific order.
  • These innovations helped to make Super Mario Bros a more accessible and engaging game for players, and helped to establish it as one of the most iconic video games of all time.

FAQs

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 a two-dimensional environment. The player must navigate the character through obstacles, enemies, and other challenges to progress through the game.

2. When was the first platformer game released?

The first platformer game is widely considered to be “Pitfall!” which was released in 1982 for the Atari 2600. It featured a character named Pitfall Harry who explored a jungle environment and interacted with various obstacles and enemies.

3. Was Super Mario Bros the first platformer game?

Super Mario Bros was released in 1985 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and is often credited as the game that popularized the platformer genre. While it was not the first platformer game, it was a groundbreaking title that set the standard for the genre and inspired countless imitators.

4. What makes Super Mario Bros unique compared to other platformer games?

Super Mario Bros introduced several innovative features that set it apart from other platformer games. These include the ability to jump on top of enemies to defeat them, the use of power-ups to enhance the player’s abilities, and the inclusion of a multiplayer mode where players could compete against each other to complete the game. Additionally, the game’s bright and colorful graphics, catchy music, and iconic characters helped to make it a beloved classic.

5. How has the platformer genre evolved over the years?

Since the release of Super Mario Bros, the platformer genre has evolved significantly. Modern platformer games often feature more complex level designs, multiple playable characters, and advanced graphics and sound. Some popular modern platformer games include games like “Minecraft,” “Rayman Legends,” and “Celeste.”

Design Club – Super Mario Bros: Level 1-1 – How Super Mario Mastered Level Design

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