The Power of Platformers

Unlike today, where the powers of 3D graphics have taken over the majority of games, there was a time when the platformer genre ruled the earth. For those who are not familiar with this category of game, the main feature of platformers is jumping. In fact, Wikipedia refers to them as “jumping puzzles.” Of course this is an oversimplification, as platformers took on many forms, but during the time of the 2D gaming consoles this genre was a dominant gaming format.

Depending on your definition of “platformer,” arguably the first platform game created was Donkey Kong, a game which involved, (yes you guessed it!) jumping over obstacles and on to platforms in order to save the princess and defeat the EVIL Donkey Kong. This was our first introduction to Mario (then named Jumpman), who is one of the most iconic videogame characters of all time.

Donkey Kong

Platformers in general were hard to play and hard to beat. As I am going through my mental rolodex of NES platform games, every one that I can think of pretty much had the same characteristics. They were HARD, usually unforgiving to the slightest of mistakes and the cause of major frustration at a young age. That being said, platform games came in many varieties, and due to their popularity I played a lot of them. Some of the more notable platformers for the NES were the Super Mario Bros games (of course), Contra, Ninja Gaiden 1, 2, 3, six Mega Man games, Castlevania I & II, and so on and so fourth.

Castlevania II and Ninja Gaiden
Here are some of those platforms I was talking about, in Castlevania II and Ninja Gaiden

Mega Man II and Contra
…and here’s Mega Man II and Contra; what platforming goodness!

Being one of the most popular genres for the NES with arguably its most famous icon in Mario, it would do our fine readers a great disservice to not at least take a small glimpse into THE WORLD OF PLATFORMERS — something I will be exploring further in coming columns.


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Author: George Brandes View all posts by

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