Single screen movement[ edit ] This Donkey Kong level demonstrates extensive jumping between platforms, the genre's defining trait. Platform games originated in the early s. Early examples were confined to a static playing field, generally viewed in profile. Space Panic , a arcade release by Universal , is sometimes credited as being the first platform game,  though the distinction is contentious. While the player had the ability to fall, there was no ability to jump, so the game does not satisfy most modern definitions of the genre.
However, it clearly influenced the genre, with gameplay centered on climbing ladders between different floors, a common element in many early platform games. Another precursor to the genre released that same year was Nichibutsu 's Crazy Climber , which revolved around the concept of climbing buildings. Donkey Kong was ported to many consoles and computers at the time, notably as the system-selling pack-in game for ColecoVision ,  and also a handheld version from Coleco in The third game in the series, Donkey Kong 3 , was not a platformer, but it was succeeded by Mario Bros , a platform game that offered two-player simultaneous cooperative play.
This title laid the groundwork for other popular two-player cooperative platformers such as Fairyland Story and Bubble Bobble , which in turn influenced many of the single-screen platformers that would follow. Beginning in , transitional games emerged that did not feature scrolling graphics, but had levels that spanned several connected screens. It became one of the best-selling games on the system and was a breakthrough for the genre. Rescue in Gargamel's Castle was released on the ColecoVision that same year, adding uneven terrain and scrolling pans between static screens.
Manic Miner and its sequel Jet Set Willy continued this style of multi-screen levels on home computers. Monty Mole won the first ever award for Best Platform game in Wraparound video games and Flip-screen Classification of early platformers[ edit ] The term platform game is somewhat ambiguous, particularly when referring to games that predate the widespread, international use of the term. The concept of a platform game as it was defined in its earliest days is somewhat different from how the term is commonly used today.
Following the release of Donkey Kong , a genre of similarly-styled games emerged characterized by a profile view a number of tiers connected by ladders. The two most common gameplay goals were to get to the top of the screen or to collect all of a particular item. By press in the UK began referring to these tiers as "platforms" and started calling these titles "platform games" not long after.
Many of the games that were part of the early platform genre, such as Donkey Kong and Miner er, are still regarded as platform games in the modern sense. Side-scrolling video game Jump Bug introduced scrolling to the genre. The first platform game to use scrolling graphics came years before the genre became a trend.
As part of a nascent genre, its development was not strongly influenced by existing conventions, nor was it said to be a major influence on games immediately after it. Jump Bug offered a glimpse of what was to come, with uneven, independently suspended platforms and levels that scroll both horizontally and vertically. Nevertheless, Sierra On-Line released B. The same year, a scrolling platform game appeared on the Commodore 64 and Atari home computers called Snokie.
The title was bundled with Nintendo systems in North America, Japan, and Europe, and went on to sell over 40 million copies, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Its success as a pack-in led many companies to see platform games as vital to their success, and contributed greatly to popularizing the genre during the 8-bit console generation.
It's a platformer that features horizontal and vertical scrolling levels, the ability to punch enemies and obstacles, and shops where the player can buy power-ups and vehicles. Some of the bosses are fought through a minigame of rock-paper-scissors where others you have to fight or crash the Sukopako "motorbike" into a pirate bear. The environments are varied, including mountains, caves, oceans, forests, and underwater segments. The original Wonder Boy in was inspired more by Pac-Land than Super Mario Bros, and features skateboarding segments that gives the game a greater sense of speed than other platformers at the time,  while its sequel, Wonder Boy in Monster Land , takes the series in a new direction by combining action-adventure and action role-playing elements with traditional platforming.
Because of their small size, technical constraints, and blurring associated with the LCD technology, fast-paced action-based platformers were more difficult to develop for these handheld systems.
Because of this, many handheld platformers leaned towards slower-paced play styles and a greater emphasis on puzzles. After the transition of home consoles to 3D games, handhelds became a bastion for 2D platform games, where they remain popular. New Super Mario Bros. Another platform-adventure released that year, Pony Canyon 's Super Pitfall , was critically panned for its vagueness and weak game design.
That same year Jaleco released Esper Boukentai , a platform-action sequel to Psychic 5 that scrolled in all directions and allowed the player character to make huge multistory jumps, which were necessary to navigate the giant, vertically oriented levels.
This was a stark contrast to both linear games like Super Mario Bros. GamesRadar credits the "level select" feature of Mega Man as the basis for the non-linear mission structure found in most open-world, multi-mission, sidequest -heavy games.
The advent of bit home consoles marked an evolutionary step for the genre. By the time the Genesis and Super NES launched, platform games were the most popular genre in home console gaming and were seen as vital for winning the console war. There was a particular emphasis on having a flagship platform title exclusive to a format, featuring a mascot character. The title was only modestly successful, and Sega realized it needed a stronger mascot to move Genesis units. That same year, Capcom released the platformer Strider , which scrolled in multiple directions and allowed the player to summon artificial intelligence AI partners, such as a droid, tiger, and hawk, to help fight enemies.
In order to fend off the new competition, Sega released Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic featured large stages that scrolled effortlessly in all directions, as well as all manner of uneven terrain, curved hills, and a complex physics system that allowed players to rush through its levels with well-placed jumps and rolls. Lastly, there was the game's eponymous main character. Sega decided to give Sonic a rebellious personality in order to appeal to older gamers,  and super speed to help show off the Genesis' hardware capabilities.
The game proved to be a massive hit, was a successful pack-in with new systems, and cemented the view that platform games would make or break a console. This attitude would soon become the status quo, as companies attempted to duplicate Sonic's success with their own brightly colored anthropomorphisms. These mascots, which included the likes of Gex , Bug! Although there had long been important platform games on home computers, a second generation of platform games for computers appeared alongside the new wave of consoles.
In the late s and early s, the Amiga was known as a stronger gaming platform than IBM-compatible PCs, thanks to its more powerful stock video hardware and sound hardware.
Games like Shadow of the Beast and Turrican showed that computer platform games could rival the graphics and sound of their console contemporaries, and Prince of Persia featured an unprecedented level of animation. In , PC gaming made a breakthrough in the genre. Commander Keen , released by id Software , became the first IBM-compatible PC platformer to feature smooth scrolling graphics, thanks to a technique developed by programmer John Carmack called " adaptive tile refresh ".
These games helped fuel the shareware model, which would drive PC gaming to greater relevance in the early to mids. Decline of 2D[ edit ] The abundance of platformers for bit consoles continued late into the generation, with successful games such as Vectorman , Donkey Kong Country 2: Yoshi's Island , but the release of new hardware caused players' attention to shift away from traditional 2D genres. The 2D Rayman was a big success on bit consoles.
Symphony of the Night revitalized its series and established a new foundation for later Castlevania games. Oddworld and Heart of Darkness kept the subgenre born from Prince of Persia alive. The difficulties of adapting platform gameplay to three dimensions led some developers to compromise by pairing the visual flash of 3D with traditional 2D side scrolling gameplay.
These games are often referred to as 2. The game featured levels and boss characters rendered in 3D, but retained 2D gameplay and used pre-rendered 2D sprites for regular characters, similar to Donkey Kong Country. Its sequel improved upon its design, featuring some 3D effects such as hopping between the foreground and background, and the camera panning and curving around corners. Meanwhile, Pandemonium and Klonoa brought the 2. In a break from the past, the Nintendo 64 had the fewest side scrolling platformers with only four; Yoshi's Story , Kirby Games that have 3D gameplay but 2D graphics are usually included under the umbrella of isometric platformers , while those that have 3D graphics but gameplay on a 2D plane are called 2.
The first attempts to bring platform games into 3D used 2D graphics and an isometric perspective. These games are nearly as old as the genre itself, one of the earliest examples being Sega's Congo Bongo in The first platformers to simulate a 3D perspective and moving camera emerged in the early-mids.
An early example of this was Konami 's platform game Antarctic Adventure ,  where the player controls a penguin in a forward-scrolling third-person perspective while having to jump over pits and obstacles. It was notable for being one of the first stereoscopic 3-D games. It allowed players to move in all directions, but it did not allow movement along more than one axis at once; the player could move orthogonally but not diagonally.
Its characters were pre-rendered sprites, much like the earlier Clockwork Knight. The game played very similarly to 2D platformers, but it was considered a true 3D title, and let players walk up walls and on ceilings. It was a moderate success, and spawned a sequel called Bug Too!. Entitled Fade to Black , it was the first attempt to bring a popular 2D platform game series into 3D. While it retained the puzzle-oriented level design style and step-based control, and bore a strong resemblance to its predecessor, it did not meet the criteria of a platform game, and was billed as an action adventure.
Fade to Black would set the stage for other series, such as Metroid and Duke Nukem , that would gradually shift away from the traditional platform formula while retaining many of its gameplay conventions.
There was a great deal of pressure on Sony, Sega, and Nintendo to release mascot platformers before the holiday season. Sony chose to adopt an existing project by developers Naughty Dog , a small developer at the time, who had recently released the questionable Way of the Warrior. The move paid off; their game, Crash Bandicoot , beat Nintendo's new console to market in North America and was released in time for the holiday in Japan. Crash would remain Sony's unofficial mascot for the next several years before switching to multi-platform releases in the following console generation.
Sega did not fare as well. Their project, titled Sonic Xtreme , was to have featured a radically different approach for the series, with an exaggerated fisheye camera and multidirectional gameplay reminiscent of Bug!. Its development was rocky, due in part to conflicts with Sega Enterprises in Japan and a rushed schedule, and the game never made it to market.
The game was a fully 3D polygonal first-person shooter hybrid with a pronounced platform jumping component. Players piloted a frog-like mech that could jump and then double-jump or triple-jump high into the air, as the camera panned down to help players line up their landings. In addition to shooting, jumping on enemies was a primary means of attack.
The frog-like mech was traded in for a more cartoony rabbit mech, called Robbit. Beyond this, the level design had an even greater focus on platform hopping, and it was released in Europe and North America as a launch title , helping it gain a much higher profile.
The title was successful enough to receive two sequels, and is remembered as the first 3D platformer on a console. Floating Runner used D-pad controls and a behind-the-character camera perspective.
Nintendo released Super Mario 64 in Before then, there was no established paradigm for bringing platform games into 3D.