History

A Timeline…

Here’s a timeline consisting of major platform games over time with focus on milestone games that set new precedents and expectations of the genre.

1981
Donkey Kong
Nintendo
Donkey Kong
Created by legendary designer Shigeru Miyamoto, Donkey Kong stars a character known as Jumpman (who would later become Mario) who must climb a very tall building to save Pauline from the menacing Donkey Kong. Many of the genre’s conventions can be seen here, in the first true platformer, as the aptly-named Jumpman leapt across platforms, jumped over barrels and other obstacles, climbed ladders, and fought with hammer items to rescue a fair maiden.

1982
Donkey Kong Jr.
Nintendo
Donkey Kong Jr.

Pitfall!
Atari
Pitfall

1985
Super Mario Brothers
Nintendo
Super Mario Brothers
Probably the most influential game in the genre, many concepts now taken for granted were developed in this game, another Shigeru Miyamoto masterpiece. Unlike most previous platformers, Super Mario Brothers did not take place on a single screen, but instead scrolled smoothly through varied environments. Its clever jumping puzzles and many hidden secrets make it an inspiration for many future platformers.

Ghosts n’ Goblins
Capcom
Ghosts n Goblins

1986
Super Mario Brothers 2 (Japan)
Nintendo
Super Mario Brothers 2 Japan
Wonder Boy/Adventure Island
Sega/Hudson
Wonder Boy
Alex Kidd in Miracle World
Sega
Alex Kidd
Kid Icarus
Nintendo
Kid Icarus

1987
Mega Man
Capcom
Mega Man

1988
Super Mario Brothers 2 (USA)
Nintendo
Super Mario Brothers USA

1989
Super Mario Brothers 3
Nintendo
Super Mario Brothers 3

1990
Super Mario World
Nintendo
Super Mario World
Bonk’s Adventure
Hudson
Bonk’s Adventure
Commander Keen
id Software
Commander Keen

1991
Sonic the Hedgehog
Sega
Sonic the Hedgehog
For the launch of their Genesis console, Sega gave its developers the task of creating a mascot that could sell one million units and give Sega a head start against Nintendo. After going through a number of ideas, Yuji Naka (programmer), Naoto Oshima (character designer), and Hirokazu Yasuhara (game designer) came up with a blue hedgehog. Unlike the Mario games, Sonic was built around the idea of speed. Sonic uses this speed to combat the evil Dr. Eggman, who is kidnapping Sonic’s animal friends and using them as energy sources for his robots. Sonic’s cool design led to an entire subgenre of 1990s platformers starring animals with attitude.

1992
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Sega
Sonic the Hedgehog 2

1993
Kirby’s Adventure
Nintendo/HAL Laboratories
Kirby’s Adventure
Created by Masahiro Sakurai and Satoru Iwata (who is now the president of Nintendo), the Kirby games are less about precision platforming (Kirby, who can float indefinitely, is rarely in danger of dying from falling) and more about clever use of items. Kirby can suck up enemies, many of which will give him a unique ability.
Rocket Knight Adventures
Konami
Rocket Knight Adventures

1994
Jazz Jackrabbit
Epic Games
Jazz Jackrabbit
Donkey Kong Country
Nintendo/Rare
Donkey Kong Country
Sonic the Hedgehog 3
Sega
sonic3.jpg
Sonic and Knuckles
Sega
sonic4.jpg

1995
Super Mario World 2 Yoshi’s Island
Nintendo
Super Mario World 2 Yoshi’s Island
Rayman
UbiSoft
Rayman
Rayman, by Michel Ancel, is a 2D platformer…
Jumping Flash!
???
Jumping Flash!

Bug!
Sega
Bug!

1996
Crash Bandicoot
Naughty Dog
Crash Bandicoot
Super Mario 64
Nintendo
Super Mario 64
Just like Donkey Kong and Super Mario before it, Super Mario 64 is an important milestone in platform games. It is the foundation upon which most other 3D platformers are built. It introduced analog control, a hub world from which other levels are accessed, and wide open levels built for exploration.

1998
Banjo-Kazooie
Rare
Banjo-Kazooie

1999
Sonic Adventure
Sega
Sonic Adventure
Sonic’s move to 3D once again moved in a different direction than Mario. Despite using a similar hub word, the levels in Sonic Adventure were more linear, and again, focused on speed. Also introduced were a number of new characters, designed to mix other play styles with the traditional platformer.
Rayman 2
UbiSoft
Rayman 2

2000
Banjo-Tooie
Rare
Banjo-Tooie

2001
Sonic Adventure 2
Sega
Sonic Adventure 2
Jak and Daxter
Naughty Dog
Jak and Daxter

2005
Psychonauts
Double Fine
Psychonauts

2007
Super Mario Galaxy
Nintendo
Super Mario Galaxy

Genre Fusion

Some platformers over the years have included mechanics usually associated with other genres.

Action Adventure
Exploration-based Platfomers
Metroid
Nintendo
Metroid
Castlvania: Symphony of the Night
Konami
Symphony of the Night
Knytt
Nifflas
knytt.jpg

Shooter
Run and Gun Platfomers
Contra
Konami
Contra
Gunstar Heroes
Sega/Treasure
Gunstar Heroes
Ratchet and Clank
Insomniac
Ratchet and Clank

RPG
Super Paper Mario
Nintendo/Intelligent Systems
spm.jpg

Licensed games
Platfomers are one of the most popular genres used in the making of licensed games; that is, games that are based on some existing property. Licensed games have a reputation for not being very good, but there have been some quality titles.

Disney’s Duck Tales
Capcom
Duck Tales
Aladdin
Virgin Games
Aladdin

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4 Responses to History

  1. Tim says:

    Nice list, but where’s Metal Slug?

    Also, that Crash shot is of the third game.

  2. zennized says:

    I hear psychonauts is a very good game, Liked rayman aswell..

  3. Bullshit says:

    you are completely missing Turrican!

  4. G.N.R.S.U says:

    wow ! They almost are all my best favor !!

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