My word it’s been a great few years for platforming hasn’t it? Rayman Origins, Kirby’s return to Dreamland, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Super Mario 3D Land, Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Sonic Generations and colours.? That isn’t counting the indy games doing the rounds such as Super Meat boy, VVVVVV and of course Cave Story. Whilst first person shooters rule the sales world these days it was back when I were a lad that the king of gaming was the platformer. You want to make a platformer? Well here’s a list of things that you need to have in a platform game.
What’s in a name?
Whilst FPS’ and RPG’s go for something simple but complicated such as the final fantasy we shall call Final Fantasy or the quest involving dragons called Dragon Quest platformers keep it to the basic of basics. Think of ten platform games from ten series’ throughout time and unless it’s a modern indy game it will be named after the main character. Mario, Sonic, Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, Kirby and Rayman will vouch for me.
Water way to go
This is key to a platform game, there needs to be water and lots of it. There needs to be tiny lakes here and there as the game progresses to there being a world or at least a few levels worth of the blue stuff. This needs to slow your character down a lot however the rest is up to you. You can either breathe underwater or have bursts of bubbles there, Mario games will allow you to shoot fire whilst others stick to physics. The call is up to you.
This is a gaming law that you have to have something that makes you stronger: weapons, armour or exp points are the usual way of doing it but in this genre it’s the power up. So how do these work? You have a mix of really common and rare ones, common ones include a basic firing device or the ability to run fast. Slightly rarer is the ability to go invincible and the rarest of all is something that gives you the same powers as the enemy. Simples.
You need one or two enemies that you encounter all the time that are really easy to defeat with a few harder ones dotted about. These will include flying versions of earlier enemies, reinforced versions of said enemies and the crème de la crème of platform enemies that is a must: an enemy with spikes on its back that you can’t kill by jumping on it.
Ice Ice baby
Just like the water world this is also a must, firstly the ice has to be a bit of a whitey blue colour mixed with music offering sleigh bells. Then there’s also the enemies which are earlier enemies we’ve seen but in snowman form oh and the ground is slippy. The slippery ground causes all sorts of problems such as standing still but falling into a hole. Bad form.
So really when a retro gamer complains that FPS’ are all the same these days, just remember how platformers used to be.