Well, it’s time to end our celebration of outstanding platform games.
As we’ve seen so far, the best platformers have lots to offer players: exciting gameplay; enough challenge to keep driving you on; and a unique style or structure These qualities help platformers win audiences again and again – just look at the way in which Donkey Kong and other decades-old classics are kept alive by devoted fans.
Whether it’s Sonic the Hedgehog on the latest smartphone or a new 3D adventure on the most cutting-edge console, platform games keep players, and developers, coming back for more. The final five in our list are a mix of the old and the new, with spies, ninjas, and underwear-clad knights aplenty …
Gamers of a certain age will remember Impossible Mission with a blend of joyful nostalgia and horror.
As one of the biggest games of the Commodore 64 / ZX Spectrum era, Impossible Mission boasted then-innovative features, such as digitised speech and randomised room-layouts. While the original looks great for its age, Impossible Mission has been remade several times since, with its most recent face-lifted version appearing on the Nintendo DS and Wii.
Impossible Mission lives up to its title, too. Players have just six hours to complete the game, in which time they have to find 36 pieces of a puzzle. Sounds hard? Well, whenever you steer the hero off of a platform or get zapped by one of the many enemy robots, each death takes 10 minutes off your allotted time.
And you thought modern games were hard.
Ghosts ‘n Goblins
It’s no coincidence Ghosts ‘n Goblins follows Impossible Mission here.
This monster-themed platformer is still regarded as one of the genre’s toughest, with hero Sir Arthur only able to take two hits before he loses a life. Once this happens, he’s sent right back to the respective level’s beginning, or the halfway mark assuming you actually reach that point. The first hit also strips Sir Arthur of his gear, forcing him to carry on in his underwear.
Sounds too easy? Okay, try this: each life has a time limit of around three minutes. Spend too long on your platforming and monster-slaying, and you’ll lose a life. The game also must be played through twice in order to see the ‘real’ ending.
Still, despite this frankly cruel structure, Ghosts ‘n Goblins is a fun, addictive game – but it’s not for amateurs.
The Revenge of Shinobi
When most players think of ninja-based video games, Shinobi is still one of the few names that spring to mind. The Revenge of Shinobi is perhaps the strongest in the franchise, and its popularity has seen it appear in numerous compilations since its first release back in 1989 (including one of the mighty Mega Games packs for the Sega Genesis / Mega Drive, along with Streets of Rage and Golden Axe).
The Revenge of Shinobi is a fast-paced platformer featuring swordplay, magic, and shurikens – essential ingredients for any ninja game. While nowhere near as challenging or rage-inducing as Ghosts ‘n Goblins or Impossible Mission, The Revenge of Shinobi is still incredibly tough. It’s fun, though, and the range of locations keeps the action feeling fresh.
Mega Man 2
Mega Man is one of the platform genre’s biggest characters, almost as iconic as Sonic and Mario. He’s jumped over into other mediums, including comic books and anime.
Mega Man 2 is regarded by many fans as the best entry in the franchise, and it’s still great fun today: the visuals are super-colourful and gorgeous; the action is fast and kinetic; and the difficulty level is more lenient than some other games of the era. It’s definitely worth a revisit for fans.
Super Meat Boy
Super Meat Boy is a hugely-popular, widely-acclaimed indie platform game with a pretty gruesome style. Playing as the bizarre Meat Boy, players are sent on a quest to save his girlfriend Bandage Girl (wrapped in, you guessed it, bandages) from the villainous Dr. Fetus. There are more than 300 levels to plough through, and the distinctive visuals are a joy to behold.
While the game has a pretty high difficulty, players do at least have infinite attempts to crack each level, though having to restart from the beginning of each upon dying can easily become irritating for some. Still, it’s one heck of an achievement for an indie team, and fans are awaiting the forthcoming sequel eagerly.
Well, this brings our celebration of 20 of the greatest platformers ever made to a close. It’s been a blast, so thanks for reading! We’ll catch you next time.
Which are your favourite platform games of all time? Let us know!