Let’s Talk About Platformers

It’s that time again. I cover a topic that nobody was really asking for because I have a personal interest in it. That’s why I got my own blog in the first place, so that I could write for fun and people could maybe enjoy it. Now the thought that popped into my head this time is that I think there should be a distinction between platformers. I know that sounds confusing, but hear me out for a bit. Platformer itself is a pretty broad term. It can encompass any game that has jumping from one place to another as part of it’s core gameplay. Obviously most games have a jump button, but that doesn’t make every game a platformer. Also, a game can have platforming segments without being a platformer. Game developers usually love doing this kind of thing, but that is really what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about a distinction between different types of platformers. You see, there are two types of platformers in my opinion. There are platformers that focus on movement and there are platformers that focus on combat. As an example let’s look at the Crash Bandicoot series and the Spyro series. In the Crash Bandicoot series, the game it centered around platforming and once you complete all the platforming challenges, then you clear the level. Most of the upgrades that you unlock for him make it easier to platform and add new techniques to attempt more platforming challenges. In the Spyro series, you are platforming in different levels, but the gameplay is more geared towards fighting enemies. I would consider them both platformers, but they are very different styles of game.

I think the main way to differentiate the two types are the way enemies are used in the game. For instance let us take the example of the Goomba. If you aren’t aware of what a Goomba is, that must be a very comfy rock you are living under. The first enemy you face in the Super Mario Bros. series, the Goomba is an iconic enemy and remains one of the least threatening enemies in any videogame. The reason is because they function more as obstacles than as enemies. Usually you don’t even have to bother fighting them, they are just there to be in the way. However, in games like Mega Man, you are meant to clear the enemies in order to proceed with the stage and they will stop as nothing to eliminate you. The point is that you cannot avoid the enemies as obstacles because if you don’t defeat them, you will meet an untimely demise. Here’s another way to think about it. How do you clear a stage in a platformer? Is the requirement to win passing through the obstacle or is it beating up enemies at the end of the stage? Mario usually jumps on a flagpole or axe, Sonic usually runs into a signpost or ring, they just move through the stage and anything along the way is just extra points. Whereas in Mega Man, you aren’t beating the robots and the robot master at the end of the stage by jumping over them. In Castlevania, you aren’t getting by without taking out bosses as you go through the game. I am not really trying to say anything amazing or profound here. I just want to say that there are two different types of platformers. One where you jump and another where you jump and shoot. There is nothing wrong with that.

So, then why did I bring this all up. Well, the reason I wanted to make this distinction is because I feel like I have a preference and I realized this as I have played games over time. Personally, when I play a platformer I like to usually have the game stay structured more around platforming than combat. You know, like when you get upgrades that make platforming more interesting. Does anyone even enjoy doing combat while platforming? I am rarely in a situation where I enjoy fighting on a moving platform. Maybe I am just bad at games, but I am allowed to complain a bit right? Anyway some games I feel like it enjoy doing the platforming more than I enjoy fighting enemies in them. However, there are some platformers that feel as if they need more enemies to impede progress because as things stand there isn’t a lot of challenge otherwise. This is noticeably rarer, but it can still happen. I can’t think of a good example off the top of my head, so I won’t try and overheat the one wrinkle on my brain. Instead I will talk about a game that I would have enjoyed more platforming as less combat. Ori and the Blind Forest is a game that has a beautiful design and story, but the platforming was the most fun part of the game for me. Some sequences in the game were pretty cool, like when you had to escape the water in that tree. Yeah, that is as specific as I will be. If you know, you know. The thing that I felt was the most lackluster part of the game was the combat because the combat felt kind of loose to me. The thing is that your character feels so acrobatic that I wanted to have more diverse platforming, but I feel like the game held itself back a bit too much by focusing on combat. The sequel game isn’t something I played so I can’t be sure, but I am willing to surmise it was about the same. Whether or not it is true doesn’t really matter to me though. What matters it that a game makes clear what the focus is going to be. Sometimes I see platforming in the trailer, but then the game offers up combat sections for no reason. Sometimes a game has a good combat flow going, but then it has an annoying platforming section for no reason. I am not saying you can’t have both, but I just want a warning is all. Okay, the mini rant is over now. That’s all, so see you next time. I will probably sound just as crazy so look forward to that I guess.

Published by thatguy377

Nothing much to say. Just a guy who enjoys talking about games and has too much free time on his hands.

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