What Makes A Great Platformer Game? Let’s Find Out!
Platformer games are some of the most popular types of video games due to their casual playing style and broad appeal. These laid back, yet action-packed games have given rise to many other titles over the decades. Today, we’re going to discuss this important genre in-depth and see what makes a great platformer game.
What Is A Platformer Game?
A platformer game is a type of action game where the primary goal is navigating a level from start to finish. The levels often contain different obstacles and challenges that the player can solve using the character’s abilities.
Jumping mechanics, fighting moves, and collectible items are three hallmarks of platformer gameplay. As the genre name implies, levels often include platforms that the player must move between to reach their end goal.
How Are Classic Platformer Games Programmed?
On 8-bit consoles like the 8bitCADE and 8bitCADE XL, platformer titles are usually developed with a tile-based format. The character moves between fixed tiles that are used to also build the surrounding environment. The developer will usually program the directional pad for movement, one of the action buttons for jumping, and another to perform some type of combat move.
The developer creates copies of the character avatar in the areas they want them to move and then test these movements repeatedly. The copies are inspected to make sure that they do not interfere with level design elements that the character is not supposed to interact with or land on top of. Should any of these interruptions be found, they can be blocked so that they do not reoccur.
History Of Platformer Games
The original Donkey Kong is widely considered the first true platformer game. If you’ve never played it, a character called Jumpman (the precursor to the iconic Mario) navigates a series of hazards to rescue a female character from the clutches of the titular Donkey Kong. From this title, many other big-studio and independent platformers have made incredible strides in gaming.
Platformer games have also found a home in the world of community-based gaming like the libraries of independent titles we offer for the 8BitCade and 8BitCADE XL consoles. These include many unique originals as well as titles that homages to platformers of generations past like Castle Boy, which takes a great amount of inspiration from the classic Castlevania.
Some classic-style platformer games you can play on the 8bitCADE consoles include:
- Kong – Styled after the iconic Donkey Kong game involving dodging hazards and reaching an end goal.
- Omega Horizon – An homage to the classic Metroid series. The player navigates a series of platform-intensive levels while fighting off hordes of otherworldly enemies.
- Squario – Squario is a beloved Arduino community tribute to the Mario series. Navigate an athletic square-shaped sprite through a series of platform-based levels to reach an endpoint while collecting items and powerups.
- Castle Boy – As mentioned above, Castle Boy pays respects to the classic 8-bit Castlevania on NES. The player directs a character through a castle-like series of levels as they overcome challenges and fight off monsters.
Today, platform games have declined in popularity among major game developers, but that doesn’t mean they’re “out of style.” In fact, many of them have found new life on mobile and independent gaming platforms. Classic series like Rayman dominate the iOS gaming charts and Braid is considered one of the finest independent games of all time. The home console/handheld hybrid, Nintendo Switch, still continues to offer great platformer titles like Super Mario Odyssey.
What Makes A Great Platformer Game?
A great platformer game requires a few key ingredients:
- Fun and fluid gameplay mechanics
- Engaging level design
- Interesting obstacles and challenges
Beyond this, other elements like graphics quality, story, and difficulty level can also enhance the experience for some gamers. For now, let’s dive a little deeper into the core three listed above.
Fun and Fluid Gameplay Mechanics
The quality of gameplay drives the platformer experience. Standout modern indie titles like Braid really pushed the idea of a fluid gameplay experience. If you make a mistake, you can rewind time to bring the character back to a point before the error occurred.
When you start up your favorite platform game, the controls should feel responsive and intuitive. Simply put: when you press a button, it should produce a satisfying action from the character.
Engaging Level Design
Great controls are what keep you playing the game, but the level design is what draws you in. Do the levels inspire people to continue playing? Are they aesthetically pleasing? These are aspects of a great platform game that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Interesting Obstacles and Challenges
The obstacles and challenges you include in a platformer game should provide a sense of accomplishment to the player after they’ve overcome them. This inspires the player to continue engaging with the game further and play it to completion.
Start Building Your Own Game Console And Play Your New Favorite Platformer Games
At 8BitCADE, we provide you the means to learn building and programming electronic devices through a guided project that results in your own handheld gaming console! This teaches you real-world programming skills that you can use for gaming and beyond.
You can take your console with you anywhere and enjoy hours of fun with a library of over 200+ games. Show others how you built your own awesome gaming console and spread the joy of learning programming skills!
To learn more, view our current inventory of consoles or reach out anytime.