Step into the world of gaming and explore the roots of one of the most beloved genres – the 2D platformer. But, the question remains, what was the first 2D platformer game to ever grace our screens? Join us as we delve into the history of gaming and uncover the answer to this intriguing question. Get ready to be transported to a time before Mario and Sonic, where the genre was just starting to take shape. This is the story of the first 2D platformer game – a game that paved the way for countless others and set the stage for the beloved games we know and love today. So, let’s journey back in time and discover the game that started it all.
The first 2D platformer game is considered to be “Pitfall!” which was released in 1982 for the Atari 2600. Developed by Activision, the game featured a character named Pitfall Harry who navigated through a jungle environment, avoiding obstacles and collecting treasures. The game was a critical and commercial success, and spawned numerous sequels and imitators in the following years. It set the standard for the platformer genre, which would go on to become one of the most popular types of video games.
The evolution of platformer games
Early arcade games
The emergence of platformer games
Platformer games emerged in the early 1980s as a new genre of video games, combining elements of action, adventure, and exploration. These games typically featured a protagonist who could jump, run, and interact with the environment, and often included obstacles, enemies, and power-ups to challenge the player.
Donkey Kong (1981)
Donkey Kong, released in 1981, is often considered the first platformer game. Developed by Nintendo and created by Shigeru Miyamoto, the game follows the adventures of Jumpman (later known as Mario) as he navigates a series of platforms and obstacles to rescue a damsel in distress from a rampaging gorilla named Donkey Kong.
Key features of Donkey Kong included the ability to jump over obstacles and enemies, the use of power-ups to increase Jumpman’s abilities, and the introduction of a progressive level system that increased in difficulty as the game progressed.
Legacy of Donkey Kong:
- Established the platformer genre
- Introduced iconic characters such as Mario and Donkey Kong
- Paved the way for future platformer games, including Super Mario Bros.
Mario Bros. (1983)
Mario Bros., released in 1983, was the second platformer game developed by Nintendo and created by Shigeru Miyamoto. The game features Mario and his brother Luigi as they navigate a series of mazes and platforms, battling enemies and collecting power-ups.
Key features of Mario Bros. included the ability to jump on top of enemies to defeat them, the use of power-ups to increase the characters’ abilities, and the introduction of a two-player mode, allowing two players to play together on the same screen.
Legacy of Mario Bros.:
- Established the Mario franchise as a beloved and iconic series
- Introduced popular characters such as the Koopalings and Bowser.
Home console platformer games
Super Mario Bros. (1985)
Revolutionizing the platformer genre
Super Mario Bros., released in 1985 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), revolutionized the platformer genre with its innovative gameplay, engaging world design, and memorable characters and power-ups.
# World design
Super Mario Bros. featured a rich and diverse world filled with colorful environments, hidden secrets, and dangerous obstacles. The game’s level design was carefully crafted to keep players engaged and challenged, with each level offering unique experiences and requiring different skills to overcome.
# Characters and power-ups
The game introduced iconic characters such as Mario and Luigi, each with their own unique abilities and strengths. Power-ups, such as the famed “Mushroom,” allowed players to enhance their characters’ abilities, adding an extra layer of strategy and excitement to the gameplay.
# Music and sound effects
Super Mario Bros. also featured an unforgettable soundtrack, with catchy melodies and upbeat rhythms that perfectly captured the game’s lighthearted and adventurous spirit. The game’s sound effects were equally impressive, with a wide range of authentic and immersive audio cues that brought the world to life.
Super Mario Bros. left an indelible mark on the platformer genre and the gaming industry as a whole. Its innovative gameplay mechanics, charming characters, and memorable music and sound effects have become synonymous with the platformer genre, inspiring countless imitators and reinventions over the years.
Other early platformer games
While Super Mario Bros. is often credited with revolutionizing the platformer genre, it was not the first game to feature 2D platforming gameplay. Other early platformer games, such as Pitfall! (1982) and Sonic the Hedgehog (1991), also made significant contributions to the genre and left a lasting legacy.
Pitfall!, released for the Atari 2600 in 1982, was one of the earliest and most influential platformer games. It featured a large, open world filled with hazards and obstacles, requiring players to navigate and overcome challenges using precise timing and quick reflexes. Pitfall! also introduced elements such as jumping and climbing, which would become staples of the platformer genre.
# Innovations and challenges
Pitfall! was known for its challenging gameplay and unforgiving difficulty, pushing players to master intricate movements and memorize level layouts in order to progress. Its open world design and non-linear level structure also offered a sense of exploration and discovery, encouraging players to seek out hidden secrets and treasures.
Pitfall! laid the groundwork for many of the platformer gameplay mechanics and level design elements that would become standard in the genre. Its influence can be seen in countless subsequent platformer games, which often drew inspiration from its innovative gameplay and challenging difficulty.
Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)
Sonic the Hedgehog, released for the Sega Genesis in 1991, introduced a new level of speed and excitement to the platformer genre. Its fast-paced gameplay, bright and colorful graphics, and catchy soundtrack captured the hearts of gamers and helped establish Sega as a major player in the gaming industry.
# Blue skies and speed
Sonic the Hedgehog’s gameplay centered around high-speed movement and fluid mechanics, allowing players to move through levels at breakneck speeds and perform daring maneuvers and stunts. The game’s level design also emphasized exploration and discovery, with hidden paths and secret areas rewarding players for taking risks and pushing the boundaries of what was possible.
# Impact on the platformer genre
Sonic the Hedgehog’s impact on the platformer genre was significant,
The debate: Which was the first 2D platformer game?
Criteria for a 2D platformer game
Definition of a 2D platformer game
A 2D platformer game is a type of video game that is played on a two-dimensional plane, with the player character moving from left to right or right to left across the screen. The objective of the game is to navigate through various levels, avoiding obstacles and enemies while collecting power-ups and other collectibles.
In a 2D platformer game, the player character moves either horizontally or vertically across the screen. The character’s movement can be controlled using a joystick, directional buttons, or arrow keys. Some games also allow the player to jump, climb, or perform other actions to overcome obstacles and reach new areas.
Jumping and climbing
Jumping and climbing are common actions in 2D platformer games. Jumping allows the player character to overcome obstacles such as gaps, pits, and spikes. Climbing allows the player character to scale walls, ladders, and other vertical surfaces.
Enemies and obstacles
Enemies and obstacles are a fundamental part of 2D platformer games. Enemies can be stationary or moving, and they can attack the player character either directly or indirectly. Obstacles can include spikes, pits, bottomless drops, and other hazards that can harm the player character.
Collectibles and power-ups
Collectibles and power-ups are items that the player character can collect to enhance their abilities or progress through the game. Examples of collectibles include coins, diamonds, and stars, while examples of power-ups include firepower, shields, and invincibility.
The definition of a 2D platformer game is controversial, as different games have different mechanics and features that can make them difficult to compare. Some games may emphasize speed and agility, while others may focus on puzzle-solving or exploration. Additionally, regional releases and localization can affect the definition of a game, as different versions of the same game may have different features or mechanics.
Donkey Kong is often cited as one of the first 2D platformer games, and it was released in 1981 for the arcade platform. The game features a character named Jumpman (later renamed Mario) who must navigate through a series of platforms and obstacles to rescue a princess from a giant ape named Donkey Kong.
Arguments for Donkey Kong as the first platformer game
Some argue that Donkey Kong is the first platformer game because it introduced the concept of a character jumping over obstacles and enemies to progress through levels. The game also featured a high score system, which encouraged players to keep playing and improve their scores.
Arguments against Donkey Kong as the first platformer game
Others argue that Donkey Kong is not a true platformer game because the character cannot climb or perform other actions that are common in modern platformer games. Additionally, the game’s mechanics are relatively simple compared to later platformer games.
Mario Bros. is another game that is often cited as one of the first 2D platformer games, and it was released in 1983 for the arcade platform. The game features two characters named Mario and Luigi, who must navigate through a series of levels to defeat enemies and collect coins.
Arguments for Mario Bros. as the first platformer game
Some argue that Mario Bros. is the first platformer game because it introduced the concept of multiple levels and enemies that must be defeated to progress through the game. The game also featured power-ups and other collectibles, which added an element of strategy to the gameplay.
Arguments against Mario Bros. as the first platformer game
Others argue that Mario Bros. is not a true platformer game because the characters cannot jump or climb, and the game’s mechanics are relatively simple compared to later platformer games. Additionally, the game’s emphasis on
The first 2D platformer game debate
The debate over which was the first 2D platformer game has been ongoing for many years, with various contenders vying for the title. One of the earliest platformer games was Donkey Kong, released in 1981 by Nintendo. It featured a character named Jumpman (later renamed Mario) who had to navigate a series of obstacles to rescue a princess from a giant ape named Donkey Kong. The game was a massive success and is often credited as the first platformer game.
Another early platformer game was Pitfall!, released in 1982 by Activision. The game featured a character named Pitfall Harry who had to navigate a series of obstacles, including jumps and pits, to reach the end of each level. Pitfall! was also a massive success and is often cited as one of the earliest platformer games.
A third contender for the title of first platformer game is Space Panic, released in 1980 by Sega. The game featured a character who had to navigate a maze-like environment to catch a series of enemies. Space Panic was not as successful as Donkey Kong or Pitfall! at the time, but it is now considered a pioneering game in the platformer genre.
Overall, the debate over which was the first 2D platformer game is likely to continue for some time, with different people advocating for different games. However, all three of these games were important milestones in the development of the platformer genre, and their influence can still be felt in modern games today.
The importance of defining firsts
It is often debated among gamers and historians alike which title can be considered the first 2D platformer game. The definition of a “first” is important as it can impact the perception of the game and its place in gaming history. The game that is considered the first can be seen as the starting point for a genre, the prototype that set the standard for all others to follow. Therefore, accurately defining what was the first 2D platformer game is crucial for understanding the evolution of the genre and its impact on the gaming industry.
The legacy of platformer games
Platformer games have left an indelible mark on the gaming industry, and their influence can still be felt today. The platformer genre, which is characterized by the protagonist’s ability to jump and run across different platforms, has spawned numerous iconic games that have become beloved by gamers around the world. The genre’s legacy is not only reflected in the numerous games that have been released, but also in the impact that these games have had on popular culture.
One of the most significant contributions of platformer games is their influence on game design. Many of the fundamental principles of game design, such as level design, character control, and enemy placement, were first introduced in platformer games. The genre’s emphasis on precision and skill has also inspired countless other games, from puzzle games to action games.
In addition to their impact on game design, platformer games have also had a significant impact on popular culture. Many of the genre’s most iconic characters, such as Mario and Sonic, have become cultural icons in their own right. These characters have appeared in countless movies, TV shows, and other forms of media, and have helped to cement the genre’s place in popular culture.
Overall, the legacy of platformer games is undeniable. The genre has had a profound impact on game design, popular culture, and the gaming industry as a whole. Its influence can still be felt today, and it will continue to inspire future generations of gamers and game designers.
Future of the platformer genre
Despite the many titles that have emerged since the 1980s, the question of which was the first 2D platformer game remains a subject of debate among gamers and scholars alike. However, it is worth noting that the future of the platformer genre is not merely tied to the past, but is also shaped by contemporary trends and technological advancements.
The impact of retro-style games
In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in retro-style games, including 2D platformers. This has led to the development of numerous modern titles that pay homage to the classics while also introducing new mechanics and features. The success of these games has not only revitalized the platformer genre, but has also inspired a new generation of developers to explore the possibilities of 2D gaming.
The rise of mobile gaming
Another factor that has shaped the future of the platformer genre is the rise of mobile gaming. With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, mobile gaming has become a major player in the industry, and many developers have begun to create platformers specifically designed for touchscreen devices. These games often feature intuitive controls and simple mechanics, making them accessible to a wide range of players.
The influence of indie developers
Indie developers have also played a significant role in shaping the future of the platformer genre. With the advent of digital distribution platforms like Steam and the App Store, it has become easier than ever for independent developers to release their games to a global audience. As a result, there has been a surge of creativity and innovation in the platformer genre, with indie developers pushing the boundaries of what is possible in 2D gaming.
Virtual and augmented reality
Finally, the future of the platformer genre may also be shaped by the emergence of virtual and augmented reality technologies. As these technologies become more advanced and more widely adopted, it is likely that we will see a new generation of platformers that take advantage of immersive gaming experiences. From exploring fantastical worlds to interacting with virtual characters, the possibilities for 2D gaming in a 3D world are vast and exciting.
Overall, the future of the platformer genre is bright, with a wide range of factors contributing to its ongoing evolution and growth. Whether you are a fan of classic 2D platformers or the latest mobile titles, there is no denying that this genre has a special place in the hearts of gamers everywhere.
1. What is a 2D platformer game?
A 2D platformer game is a type of video game where the player controls a character that runs, jumps, and interacts with the environment across a two-dimensional plane. The game typically involves navigating through various levels, avoiding obstacles, and defeating enemies to progress.
2. What is the first 2D platformer game?
The first 2D platformer game is widely considered to be “Pitfall!” which was released in 1982 for the Atari 2600. Developed by Activision, the game featured a character named Pitfall Harry who navigated through a series of jungle-themed levels, avoiding hazards and collecting treasures. While not the first video game, “Pitfall!” was one of the earliest and most influential 2D platformer games.
3. What were some of the defining features of “Pitfall!”?
“Pitfall!” was notable for its open world design, where players could explore levels in any order they chose. The game also featured a variety of hazards, such as pits, snakes, and scorpions, which players needed to avoid or defeat using a variety of tools, such as a whip and a rifle. Additionally, the game featured a time limit, adding an extra layer of challenge to the gameplay.
4. What was the impact of “Pitfall!” on the video game industry?
“Pitfall!” was a major success and helped to popularize the 2D platformer genre. It inspired numerous imitators and innovations, including the creation of new characters and gameplay mechanics. The game’s success also helped to establish Activision as a major player in the video game industry. Today, “Pitfall!” is considered a classic and is often cited as an influence by modern game developers.