What is a Platformer? [Gaming Definition, Meaning]


In the world of gaming, there have been plenty of genres that have been around for quite some time but none come close to the platforming genre. Regardless of what console—portable or home based—you owned, it’s guaranteed that you’ve at one time either played or owned a platform based gaming title. However, maybe if you’re just entering the gaming world you’ve never heard of the title and there’s nothing wrong with that. We here at Honey’s Anime pride ourselves on teaching those new to games the diction that will help them become master gamers. Thus that’s why today we’re presenting our What is a Platformer article.

Now as we stated earlier, platformer games have been around for ages. These gaming titles have evolved as time and technology has advanced but a platformer’s main core is still always the same. For our examples, we have three video game titles that show a timeline of sorts to have platforming has changed but also to show you folks what a platformer looked like then and what a platformer looks like now. By the end of this What is a Platformer article, we know you’ll never again be confused on what constitutes a platforming game and or learn what the definition is to pass on the knowledge to other new gamers. Now then, ladies and gentlemen let us begin with our explanation.

Jump to win

If you aren’t jumping in a platformer then it’s most likely not a normal platformer. The idea of any platform based gaming title is that you need to jump onto various platforms or jump on certain enemies to kill them. Our first prime example of this is Super Mario Bros. Here we have the player taking control of the now iconic Mario as they jump onto enemy’s heads and jump to gain coins, power-ups and to land onto other areas. The gameplay format seen in Super Mario has been around for ages and has been seen in other gaming titles with obviously slight variations but Super Mario Bros is clearly the main inspiration.

1. Super Mario Bros.

  • System/Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo R&D4
  • Release Date: Sept 13, 1985

When the peaceful Mushroom Kingdom comes under attack from King Bowser and his Koopa Army, it’s up to Mario to save the day. Mario must not only reach the evil King Bowser but he must also save the now kidnapped Princess Toadstool. Along his path, Mario will have to defeat various enemies as well as traverse dangerous environments to make his way to the castle where the princess is being held at. Can Mario be the hero the Mushroom Kingdom needs? If you wish to find out enter the world of Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Bros is the shining example of a classic platformer with no bells and whistles. Players only had two buttons—aside from the directional buttons—to maneuver Mario across dangerous traps and enemies. This is how most platforming titles worked in the yesteryear, simple mechanics that really were more about timing and learning to master the game’s simple controls. If you are a complete novice to the platforming world, then our recommendation is start off with a title like Super Mario Bros. While Super Mario Bros can be tough at times, this is the best way to get into a platformer and learn the very basics.

Timing is key

A few years after games like Super Mario Bros entered the gaming world, platformers began to evolve slightly by adding more elements than just simply jumping. Games began to add guns, weapons and made jumping more about timing than just pressing the button. Precision melded with combat and jumping to become a more robust type of platforming experience. That being said, we here at Honey’s Anime now are going to dive into another iconic hero and his iconic series called Mega Man. This is where we consider platformers to become slightly tougher and sometimes more infuriating all while still being a blast to play.

2. Mega Man

  • System/Platform: NES
  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Developer: Capcom
  • Release Date: Dec 17, 1987

In the near future, humanity has become more technologically advanced. Thus humans like Dr. Light began to create robots to help make the life of the everyday man and woman even easier. However, Dr. Wily had other plans for robots and began to take over Dr. Light’s various creation to turn against the human race. With no other robot to turn to, Dr. Light asked his helper robot named Mega Man to see if he could defeat the now evil robots, collect their powers and stop Dr. Wily by any means. Now it’s up to the small robot to save the human race and put an end to the nefarious scheme being unleashed by Dr. Wily.

Mega Man would change the platforming game forever once it released in 1987. While it’s not the first to include shooting and jumping in equal measure, it was where players needed to learn how to properly time shooting enemies and jump over dangerous platforms. The Mega Man series would continue way beyond the first entry and each title would add more enemies, new powers and even harder level designs to test player’s patience. While we here at Honey’s Anime love the Mega Man series, we always warn those new to gaming to learn how to be patient while playing Mega Man. Once you’re able to master titles like Mega Man, you’ll be on your way to fully understanding what platformers can be at their toughest. Though games like Super Meat Boy and Spelunky might be titles you’ll want to hold off on if you’re still having issues with Mega Man.

Exploration, combat and jumping

Finally it’s important to note that while platforming is still relevant in the current age of gaming there has been obvious altercations that have changed the game. Sure you have titles like Ratchet & Clank, Jak and Daxter and several others, but even now, platformers are adding more new age mechanics all while echoing the past gaming eras. Platformers are more complex than ever before but still retain the idea of either jumping around to kill enemies and or having to explore various areas to obtain treasures and new abilities. Let us now examine one of the more popular platforming titles to really cement in what platformers look like in the year 2017. Though this title released in 2014, it will show you what we mean so don’t worry.

3. Shovel Knight

  • System/Platform: Amazon Fire TV, PC, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch, OS X, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Wii U, Xbox One
  • Publisher: Yacht Club Games
  • Developer: Yacht Club Games
  • Release Date: Jun 26. 2014

Shield Knight and Shovel Knight were originally on an adventure together. At one point the two discover a large tower called the Tower of Fate and decided to explore the looming tower. While exploring inside, Shield Knight comes across an odd amulet and the two discover that the amulet is cursed and takes over Shield Knight while throwing Shovel Knight out of the tower locking him out. Hit with depression and feeling as if he failed his partner, Shovel Knight goes off to mop and his failures. However, when the so called Enchantress appears and begins to cover the land in darkness, Shovel Knight realizes he needs to stop her and her evil army known as The Order of No Quarter. This time Shovel Knight knows failure isn’t an option.

Shovel Knight is where we end our What is a Platformer article to show off a title that has the heart of a platformer as well as an adventure title. Players control Shovel Knight as they explore various lands—all on a 2D side scrolling adventure—to defeat various foes and find numerous collectibles and treasures to upgrade their hero. Shovel Knight is what gamers now consider an action platformer and is the norm for most modern platformers. Shovel Knight clearly takes inspiration from titles like Metroid—another platformer from the past—as well as games like The Legend of Zelda to truly create an awesome platforming hybrid that gamers are really loving more and more in the current generation. If you think platformers are too simple then we advise you picking up Shovel Knight.

Shovel Knight Trailer HD

Final Thoughts

Don’t feel bad if you couldn’t figure out what a platformer is nowadays. With so many gaming titles that seem to be getting more and more advanced, it’s hard to understand what games can still be considered a platforming title. Now that we have concluded our What is a Platformer article, we are confident you know how to spot what constitutes a platformer from just a puzzle game or adventure title. As always folks let us know in the comments down below how we did and if you have some recommendations for other What is articles. Don’t jump off our site for too long though folks, we have more articles like this to increase your gaming knowledge and make you a true master of gaming.

Super-Mario-Bros-game-Wallpaper-700x420 What is a Platformer? [Gaming Definition, Meaning]


Author: Aaron

Hey everyone I’m Aaron Curbelo or Blade as I’m called by my YouTube Subscribers. I’ve been an anime/manga fan since I was a young kid. In terms of anime I have watched nearly a thousand shows and have read hundreds of manga series. I love writing and honestly was so happy to join Honey’s Anime to get a shot to write articles for such a wonderful site. I’m a firm believer in respect in the anime community being the most important embodiment we should all have. We all love anime and we have varying opinions of series but we should respect one another for those differences! Life is too precious to spend it making needless arguments in a community that should be the shining example of loving an amazing medium. I hope as a writer for Honey’s Anime I can bring you folks some amazing articles to read and enjoy!

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