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Donkey Kong is the first hugely successful platformer.

A platformer is a video game genre where the player controls a character that is gravity-bound to platforms which he or she can walk along and jump or climb to other platforms. Traditional platformers are viewed from a side perspective, take place in a single screen, and require the player to maneuver from platform to platform while avoiding hazards. Although some game historians make jumping a requirement for the genre, I see this as arbitrary definition. Games like Space Panic and Crazy Climber, which were published in 1980, are among the first platformers, but the game to really bring the genre into the spotlight was Donkey Kong in 1981. It's popularity made sure the following year would be packed with platformers including Pitfall!, Popeye, Kangaroo, Donkey Kong Jr., and Miner 2049er. The quantity of platformers increased further in 1983 and continued to increase for another decade. The genre's core mechanic, walking along platforms, was quickly extended with scrolling backgrounds, and most new games in the genre adopted it as the standard.

As additional game mechanics were added into platformers, it became necessary to classify them in sub-genres. Mixing elements from the shooter genre resulted in the platform shooter, and evolving it further by making larger game worlds and power-ups created the Metroidvania. Later developers would combine sandbox elements, puzzle elements, Rouge-like elements, and pretty much everything else. Some genres incorporate the platform mechanic quite naturally because of their setting, like beat 'em ups. The platform genre reached its peak popularity in the mid-1990s, after which it was supplanted by the 3D platformer as new hardware made them possible. Although hardware now has moved well beyond what is necessary to make a humble platformer, the genre still remains a staple video game mechanic, and platformer games are still being developed to this day.


By the time I started playing video games, around 1985, the genre had already seen years of growth and hundreds of platformers existed across various sub-genres. However, despite the growing popularity of the genre, I rarely had access to new video games as my family had only an Atari 2600. At the time, my favorite traditional platformer was Pitfall!. I recognize the traditional single-screen platformer as a hugely important video game genre, I'm not a very big fan of it. To me, the games tend to lack depth, and it wasn't until the advent of increased memory and the smoothness of the scrolling platformer, and its evolution to the Metroidvania, that the genre finally became interesting. The platform genre is one of my favorites, and it has strongly influenced my idea of how a video game should function.


This is a list of platformers that are important to me, for all platformers, see the category.

Title Released Sub-Genre Developer
Axiom Verge 2014-03-21 Metroidvania Thomas Happ Games
Bionic Commando (NES) 1988-07-20 Platform shooter Capcom
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon 2001-03-21 Metroidvania Konami Computer Entertainment Kobe
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night 1997-03-20 Metroidvania Konami
Cave Story 2004-12-20 Metroidvania Studio Pixel
DuckTales 1989-09-?? Scrolling Capcom
Freedom Planet 2014-07-21 Scrolling GalaxyTrail Games
The Goonies (Konami) 1986-02-21 Scrolling Konami
The Goonies II 1987-03-18 Metroidvania Konami
Limbo 2010-07-21 Scrolling Playdead
Mega Man II 1988-12-24 Platform shooter Capcom
Metroid 1986-08-06 Metroidvania Nintendo
Metroid Fusion 2002-11-18 Metroidvania Nintendo
Pitfall! 1982-04-20 Traditional platformer Activision
Risk of Rain 2013-11-08 Platform shooter Hopoo Games
River City Ransom 1989-04-25 Beat 'em up Technos
Super C 1990-02-02 Platform shooter Konami
Super Mario Bros. 1985-09-13 Scrolling Nintendo
Super Mario Bros. 2 1988-10-?? Scrolling Nintendo
Super Mario Bros. 3 1988-10-23 Scrolling Nintendo
Super Mario World 1990-11-21 Scrolling Nintendo
Super Metroid 1994-03-19 Metroidvania Nintendo
Super Win the Game 2014-10-01 Metroidvania Minor Key Games
Terraria 2011-05-16 Sandbox game Re-Logic
VVVVVV 2010-01-11 Metroidvania Terry Cavanagh
Wonder Boy In Monster World 1991-10-25 Metroidvania Westone


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