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View Full Version : 1985 - 1995: The Search for well designed Western Platformers


Kayin
09-14-2010, 12:42 AM
Western game design on the console front has traditionally lagged behind American developers until modern times. Even back in the day, their best efforts have always seemed to be away from the traditional platformer structure that was common at the time. Western platformers, even when competent have also always suffered in the area of level design in all genres until the coming of Doom. So as someone who is interested in the development of game design, I propose the question...

What are the best Western (or simply non-asian) platformers made between 1985 and 1995? This represents the era between Super Mario Bros 1 and Donkey Kong Country 2, where Rare learned from their mistakes in DKC1 and made a game with excellent, robust levels, yet the same time where developers moved to 3d and the PS1. This gives a 10 year period for us to look and try and see 'who else got it', or, at the very least with examples like Prince of Persia, who had solid ideas in a different direction. What trends and differences can we notice between the two? In this 10 year stretch there should be a few wonderful sleepers sitting around and I want you to talk about them!

And to not be so stuffy, feel free to mention later or older games as long as you note that they fall outside this range. Still, the primary focus should be on this 10 year range and what certain games did right.

Bongo Bill
09-14-2010, 12:51 AM
Commander Keen (1990) began as a clone of Super Mario Bros. 3. Its most prominent competitor was Duke Nukem (1991). On the subject of clones, we mustn't neglect to mention the Great Giana Sisters (1987).

Wikipedia claims something called Zool (1992) was on the Amiga and was meant to be that platform's answer to Sonic.

I don't know if Monty on the Run (1985) is earlier or later than Mario 1. I also don't know if it's good, but the music is awesome.

Getting into more original concepts, Exile (1988) is much-beloved by those who were around to play it, and would make an excellent companion piece to the original Metroid. Ecco the Dolphin (1992) comes from Hungary. And Prince of Persia (1989) is a milestone for the genre. Out of this World/Another World (1991) has been LPed on these very boards.

Wizards & Warriors (1987) is one of Rare's early entries.

Somebody's sure to mention Plok (1993). Jazz Jackrabbit (1994) is one of Epic's surprisingly numerous forays into the genre.

I figure that ought to be enough to get you started.

shivam
09-14-2010, 12:52 AM
Commander Keen is the easiest, and best example, followed by half a dozen awesome apogee games like crystal caves and so forth.

ArugulaZ
09-14-2010, 12:55 AM
I dunno. I knew a guy who really had a thing for Flink. Then they more or less made it into a Lemmings game a couple of years later, but I don't know if that was within the time frame you had set.

I always WANTED to like Psygnosis games, but they were mercilessly hard and the only thing that holds up about them now are the graphics, which look like the world's longest Yes album cover. There was also Kid Chameleon, which was Super Mario Bros. 3 if Super Mario Bros. 3 had been designed by hateful, sadistic bastards. (It's less fun than it sounds!)

Merus
09-14-2010, 12:58 AM
A lot of the problem, I suspect, is that the Western developers doing good games at the time were, by and large, not working on consoles. Consoles, and thus platformers, were kid's games, and few developers would choose to work on platformers when they could work on games that the adults on PCs would play as well.

There are a few PC platformers, almost all shareware, but the best of them outside of Prince of Persia was the Commander Keen series and thus it's very unlikely for there to be hidden gems among them. (Although I have a soft spot for the Keen games.)

Still, it's clear that many PC platformers took cues from Keen - specifically, many Apogee platformers involve heroes that have ranged attacks as part of their base moveset, something that doesn't crop up much on consoles. Commander Keen's stungun, Jazz Jackrabbit's... raygun (yeah, the only original game Epic's made in its history is the terrible Dare to Dream), Hocus' fireball in Hocus Pocus.

DemoWeasel
09-14-2010, 01:00 AM
http://i21.ebayimg.com/02/c/000/77/76/6d8f_32.JPG

Super Tim Allen fights dinosaurs with a sonic-boom chainsaw and a nailgun.

Andrew
09-14-2010, 01:05 AM
As it was mentioned before in a previous discussion, one of the biggest stumbling blocks for Western-developed (i.e. European) platformers was sacrificing responsive play control for smooth animation. Some of this may have been the dominance of the Amiga in Europe. Seeing stuff like the Amiga Aladdin (basically the same as the Megadrive game, but prettier/sounding better), it's easy to understand why folks could get hung up on the technology.

I'd actually name the Virgin Aladdin as among those games, but a lot of people hate it. It has those sort of control quirks that aren't a problem early on, but get frustrating later on.

I think the DKC series is one of the few that got its cake and ate it, too. The control always felt really smooth, responsive, and predictable.

On the other hand, I looooved Earthworm Jim 1 and 2. (Jim 2 was 96, BTW). Good action, animation, controls, level design, the whole package. There were some brutally hard parts (the last level in Jim 1, The Flyin' King in 2), but I felt that parts I screwed up on were my own self sucking. I played a *lot* of Jim 2, especially.

Commander Keen's stungun, Jazz Jackrabbit's... raygun (yeah, the only original game Epic's made in its history is the terrible Dare to Dream), Hocus' fireball in Hocus Pocus.

They made Gears of War, a shooter/horizontal platformer!

I dunno. I knew a guy who really had a thing for Flink. Then they more or less made it into a Lemmings game a couple of years later, but I don't know if that was within the time frame you had set.

I always WANTED to like Psygnosis games, but they were mercilessly hard and the only thing that holds up about them now are the graphics, which look like the world's longest Yes album cover. There was also Kid Chameleon, which was Super Mario Bros. 3 if Super Mario Bros. 3 had been designed by hateful, sadistic bastards. (It's less fun than it sounds!)

The Lemmings game was Adventures of Lomax/Adventures of Lomax in Lemmingland/Lomax, which was 96.

Gamefan really hyped up both Flink and Lomax. They were pretty, but...yeah...it felt the controls did not work right, and it would really bite you in the ass a few levels in.

There are a few PC platformers, almost all shareware, but the best of them outside of Prince of Persia was the Commander Keen series and thus it's very unlikely for there to be hidden gems among them. (Although I have a soft spot for the Keen games.)

Keen was pretty awesome, yeah. I also fondly remember [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7E-P4VJbdg&feature=related]Jill of the Jungle (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ok30lXVXqlk). In fact, I totally forget it was Epic until just now! The funny thing is, I *remembered* the developer was "Epic Megagames" but never made the connection that they were the same company. I guess their games aren't Mega anymore, but still Epic.

Also, before he was kicking ass and chewing bubblegum in 3D, Duke Nukem (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sF3OFNGngag) was an old school 2D platforming run and gunner (or brisk-walk-and-gunner) back on PCs in '91. Still had an 'attitude', but was a lot more family-friendly back then.

Kayin
09-14-2010, 01:16 AM
A question I have to those who played the iD/Epic Mega games/Apogee era shareware platformers -- do these games ACTUALLY hold up? It's been a long time for me, but I can't think of one that didn't feel janky with ultra generic levels. Some other genres of this generation of gaming held up better I think (Tyrian) but the platformers always seemed a way behind, design consideration wise.

Andrew
09-14-2010, 01:22 AM
A question I have to those who played the iD/Epic Mega games/Apogee era shareware platformers -- do these games ACTUALLY hold up? It's been a long time for me, but I can't think of one that didn't feel janky with ultra generic levels. Some other genres of this generation of gaming held up better I think (Tyrian) but the platformers always seemed a way behind, design consideration wise.

Keen does, because I played it way more recently. The rest--ya got me.

liquid
09-14-2010, 01:24 AM
The Lost Vikings still hold up pretty well.

I remember enjoying Mickey Mania, but I haven't played it in years.

Does Metal Warriors count as a platformer? Because that is still absolutely amazing.

Kayin
09-14-2010, 01:27 AM
Metal Warrior kinda blows my mind. I forgot it was a Lucas Arts game. The game was clearly made by some anime fueled japanophiles. The art that appeared in that game was top notch and I wonder who they got to do it. The game has a real authentic japanese feeling. It's not necessarily the greatest game ever, but it does not feel western at all.

liquid
09-14-2010, 01:29 AM
It's not necessarily the greatest game ever
Have you played the multiplayer, Kayin?

Have you thrown down?

Kayin
09-14-2010, 01:53 AM
Multiplayer is totally broken and is based in the long run on a lot of luck and camping. It's a shame too because I put a lot of time into that game and got really good at it but it just doesn't hold up.

I've actually been tempted to remake the multiplayer as some sort of fan project though but I doubt that'll happen.

Octopus Prime
09-14-2010, 02:00 AM
Nobody mentioned Prince of Persia? Oh for shame.

...though I think the best version of the original was developed in Japan.

Kishi
09-14-2010, 02:01 AM
One of the Japanese versions certainly got the best cover art (http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/princeofpersia/pop-sfc.jpg).

But Prince of Persia is okay until you get to a guy with a sword and you die.

Googleshng
09-14-2010, 02:13 AM
Prince of Persia was mentioned in the opening post. That whole subgenre's good though. Flashback, Out of this World, the two Oddworld games (past the range here) made before they pulled a 180 on their whole mission statement... I can't talk about Blackthorne first-hand.

Past that there's Earthworm Jim, and... you know what? I'm actually going to sit here and defend A Boy and his Blob. I mean, yeah, it's some sort of up-jumped Atari game, but the central gimmick was pretty ambitious and well-executed. The problem was just the general sadism of navigating a huge maze with plenty of instant death and few chances to backtrack.

ArugulaZ
09-14-2010, 02:17 AM
The Lost Vikings still hold up pretty well.

I remember enjoying Mickey Mania, but I haven't played it in years.

Does Metal Warriors count as a platformer? Because that is still absolutely amazing.

No, it doesn't. It was designed by Masaya/NCS, creators of Assault Suits Leynos. There was a sequel to it on the Super NES called Cybernator, which was gorgeous but murderously hard! Come to think of it, all the games in that franchise were tough... Target Earth on the Genesis was the same way. So was Assault Suits Leynos 2 on the Sega Saturn. It's a struggle just to reach the third stage!

Kayin
09-14-2010, 02:21 AM
No, it doesn't. It was designed by Masaya/NCS, creators of Assault Suits Leynos. There was a sequel to it on the Super NES called Cybernator, which was gorgeous but murderously hard! Come to think of it, all the games in that franchise were tough... Target Earth on the Genesis was the same way. So was Assault Suits Leynos 2 on the Sega Saturn. It's a struggle just to reach the third stage!

I'm not saying Wikipedia is right, but it says

"The gameplay mechanics and level design are very similar to Assault Suits Valken/Cybernator, but this game is not a sequel to Cybernator as many users tend to believe. Cybernator and Metal Warriors are completely different games made by different companies.The confusion comes from the fact of Konami being the publisher of both games for the US."

liquid
09-14-2010, 02:24 AM
Yeah, Metal Warriors wasn't part of the Assault Suits series. (http://www.gamespite.net/talkingtime/showpost.php?p=89112&postcount=31)

ArugulaZ
09-14-2010, 02:28 AM
Hmm... Hardcore Gaming 101 seems to confirm this. Is it possible that LucasArts used Masaya's engine and built a new game around it? It really doesn't seem like the kind of game they, or another Western game developer, would make, especially in the early 1990s when they were kind of bad at it.

Kayin
09-14-2010, 03:27 AM
Looking at some of the art by their concept artist (Harrison Fong, but good luck finding more than some scraps), I can definitely see the strong old school anime influence. The game was also pretty late to the party -- 1995, barely missing the cutoff of DKC2. Also the same guys who made Zombies Ate my Neighbors, so they clearly had a great grasp on design. I'm tempted to try and track down an email address to shoot off some questions. Anyways, despite not being a spectacularly excellent classic, Metal Warriors definitely has to be high on the list of down right polished, mature and well designed western platformers. I think it does what it does better than anyone else, as all the more important games like PoP and it's ilk are sort of a different and very western subgenre.

Torgo
09-14-2010, 04:14 AM
The realistic physics and context-sensitive control scheme takes some getting used to, but Flashback is still pretty awesome.

I'm a little blinded by nostalgia, but I hold that Super Return of the Jedi is still pretty solid. Uninspired perhaps, but ultimately solidly built with satisfying action.

ASandoval
09-14-2010, 06:28 AM
Most of anything I would have named has been named, but I'm going to jump on what Demo said (even if it was facetious) and say that Home Improvement is surprisingly not bad if you get around the weird ass license attached to it.

Olli T
09-14-2010, 07:24 AM
Zool, the ninja from the nth dimension, was not a bad mascot-based platformer. It was no Sonic or Mario, but it tried really hard to be.

Rick Dangerous (and its sequel) was kind of a thing of its own. It was sadistically hard, not just Nintendo hard - you had to memorize virtually every screen on the game to have any chance of not dying from any number of unpredictable traps and enemies. Still, that was kind of its thing - it was unfair, but it never lulled you into a sense of false security for more than a second or two before kicking you brutally in the nuts again. There was a very strong "one more try" element with that kind of gameplay.

James Pond: Underwater Agent (and the sequels) was a surprisingly good fish- and spy-themed platformer.

I don't know if Flood counts as a platformer, but it was totally rad back in the day. The ending was a real downer, though.

I have not the equipment to visit these games anymore, but if I had, I totally would. Except maybe Rick Dangerous, because I don't hate myself that much.

KCar
09-14-2010, 07:48 AM
The Apogee games back in the day were largely notable because of their graphics and sound. They were fun, but yes, the level designs were not particularly good. What they did do fairly well was the whole "keycard" thing, which should not be overlooked - all of those games had levels where exploration was necessary, where you might find a red door earlier in the level and know you have to look for the corresponding key. It's a simple gameplay conceit, but it is very Western. It's the reason why Ninja 5-0 really reminded me of the old Apogee games.

discoalucard
09-14-2010, 08:20 AM
I'd actually name the Virgin Aladdin as among those games, but a lot of people hate it. It has those sort of control quirks that aren't a problem early on, but get frustrating later on.

On the other hand, I looooved Earthworm Jim 1 and 2. (Jim 2 was 96, BTW). Good action, animation, controls, level design, the whole package. There were some brutally hard parts (the last level in Jim 1, The Flyin' King in 2), but I felt that parts I screwed up on were my own self sucking. I played a *lot* of Jim 2, especially.

I was always rather fond of those Virgin-developed Genesis games, I believe they were all programmed by Dave Perry. Pre-Aladdin, Pre-EWJ, there was Mick and Mack Global Gladiators and Cool Spot, both food/drink-based licensed products which were better than they should have been. They suffered from overtly long and repetitive level designs, and it had some erratic scrolling issues, but they controlled well, looked nice and had some great music.

Netbrian
09-14-2010, 08:35 AM
I've always been really impressed with Super Turrican, which hails from about this era.

ajr82
09-14-2010, 08:57 AM
A lot of people seem to have good memories of the Dizzy series. I'm sure there are a bunch of Spectrum/Commodore/Amstrad/BBC Micro/Amiga games I've never heard of that were at least good.

Sven
09-14-2010, 09:06 AM
I can't talk about Blackthorne first-hand.

It's one of those games that has a great first few levels, but quickly runs out of new stuff to show off.

Although killing helpless prisoners with a behind-the-back shotgun blast will NEVER get old.

As for other stuff: The Super Star Wars games are all pretty fun, although more interesting from technical standpoints than anything else. Jedi's the best, but only because Empire was SO FREAKING HARD.

Wolf
09-14-2010, 10:44 AM
A question I have to those who played the iD/Epic Mega games/Apogee era shareware platformers -- do these games ACTUALLY hold up? It's been a long time for me, but I can't think of one that didn't feel janky with ultra generic levels. Some other genres of this generation of gaming held up better I think (Tyrian) but the platformers always seemed a way behind, design consideration wise.

I didn't play a lot of PC platformers, but the ones I did seem to have held up decently. Let me pull up D-Fend, though, and see...

Commander Keen was always good, though I tend to prefer the later entries due to better sound and smoother mechanics.

Duke Nukem is also surprisingly fun for this day and age. It does do one thing I don't like, which is relegate the actual gameplay to a framed window on the screen (kind of like the older Ys games do), but it plays surprisingly well. It requires exploration within most of the levels (somewhat reminiscent of Drill Dozer, now that I think about it), but the levels are short enough that the action still moves along at a nice clip. And the graphics, surprisingly, still hold up well, due largely to being executed well and making good use of the common resources of the day.

Duke Nukem 2 actually isn't quite as fun as its forerunner. Sure, there's better sound (no more scratchy PC speaker!), there's music, and a bigger color palette, but honestly the graphics just seem awkward, as if there wasn't much effort put into them. Also, the screen seems very "busy", visually, and I constantly find myself getting hit by things I didn't notice because they were difficult to differentiate from the background (or destroying powerups on accident for the same reason). Still relatively fun, though.

Alien Carnage/Halloween Harry is a slower-paced platformer with more open level designs that are geared toward exploration, and it has the sort of higher-end VGA graphics that hit the nostalgia sweet-spot for me. The environments get pretty copy-and-paste in any given level, though. Also, I get a bit irritated that it fuels both your jetpack (primary means of vertical navigation) and your flamethrower (first and primary weapon) from the same source, when other weapons have their own ammo, but otherwise it's a fairly interesting game.

Jill of the Jungle is a pretty solid game, although the graphics have the same problem as Halloween Harry: too much copy-and-paste, only the graphics for Jill of the Jungle are even simpler (though never so much so that you get really lost in a level). Also, her choice of weapon is a set of daggers (you can upgrade the amount periodically) that can be thrown, and that come back to you, although they have a tendency to get stuck on things on their way back and force you to go retrieve them. Jill manages some variety, though, by occasionally being required to use non-standard weapons (those weird bouncing blades) or metamorphosing into other forms for some levels or parts of levels.

Xargon is another Epic game, and is basically Jill of the Jungle 2.0. Different hero and better graphics (and behavior of your weapon in my opinion), but otherwise it's a better-looking package of more of the same (right down to the enforced alternate weapon usage and transformations). It's pretty easy to say that anyone who liked Jill of the Jungle could get into Xargon pretty easily.

This thread makes me think of the good old days.

MCBanjoMike
09-14-2010, 11:19 AM
Oh my god, Wolf's post just reminded me of Dangerous Dave in the Haunted Mansion. It was a fairly typical PC shareware platformer where you played as a country boy fending off the undead with his trusty shotgun. The one that that stood out was the fact that your shotgun was an instant-hit weapon (meaning that you don't see the bullets traverse the screen), something that you don't see too often in 2D platformers. It was pretty fun, actually, but really hard and fairly unforgiving with its lives/checkpoints. I'll have to track that down and give it another try.

The Commander Keen games, particularly 4-6, have always been my standard for good PC platformers. I got into them enough to crack the alien language (a simple substitution cypher) and translate the letter at the end of the 5th game. Yeah, I was a huge nerd, big surprise. I've always loved the pogostick mecahnic in those games, and they had some catchy music, too.

Kishi
09-14-2010, 11:22 AM
The one that that stood out was the fact that your shotgun was an instant-hit weapon (meaning that you don't see the bullets traverse the screen), something that you don't see too often in 2D platformers.

The Earthworm Jim games also did this, excepting certain special weapons like the mega plasma or homing missiles.

MCBanjoMike
09-14-2010, 11:24 AM
The Earthworm Jim games also did this, excepting certain special weapons like the mega plasma or homing missiles.

More recently, Shadow Complex did it as well. It's probably one of my favorite things about that game.


EDIT: Would you look at that, Dangerous Dave (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dangerous_Dave_in_the_Haunted_Mansion) was actually a game by John Romero and John Carmack. No wonder it was good.

KCar
09-14-2010, 11:28 AM
Just watched a video for Xargon - what's with the crotch lasers?

RT-55J
09-14-2010, 11:46 AM
Didn't the Genesis Sonic games have a lot of Sega's American staff working on them?

Shagohod
09-14-2010, 11:47 AM
Blue Sky software had half decent Genesis titles in Jurassic Park and Vectorman. Not great titles, but certainly playable. Vectorman had that pseudo 3d look as well. Do Ecco games count?

Wolf
09-14-2010, 11:49 AM
It's some weird quirk with Epic, I think; Jill from Jill of the Jungle didn't actually have an attack animation, either. The daggers she threw just came out of the middle of her. The hero of Xargon occasionally gets boulders to throw as weapons, too, and these seem to generate from somewhere in the vicinity of his shoulder or neck and go arcing up.

It never occurred to me to pay attention to where those lasers come from, so thanks for that.

Kishi
09-14-2010, 11:51 AM
Didn't the Genesis Sonic games have a lot of Sega's American staff working on them?

Sega Technical Institute assisted in developing Sonic 2 and contributed music to Sonic 3 & Knuckles. They also made Kid Chameleon and Comix Zone, among other things.

RT-55J
09-14-2010, 12:44 PM
Kid Chameleon is boss. Probably my favorite game on the Genesis.

Googleshng
09-14-2010, 12:58 PM
The Genesis had a fair number of western platformers that we're all pretty familiar with, but they were all kinda terrible. Kid Chameleon had a fun premise but rather than design something interesting around it they just slapped together something like 100 levels with no thought behind them whatsoever. Here's a dragon-goomba just sitting here. Here's some bouncy bricks that don't especially lead anywhere. Now let's have a slope leading into a wall of spike shooters that... go away and then there's a little water monster just kinda sitting here. OK, that's good enough for a level, we're done. Comix Zone had style, but after a few minutes of basically playing Double Dragon you just kinda get blindly thrust into situations that are likely to cause instant death or at least nearly unavoidable damage, with only 2 lives to get through the whole game? 3? The Vector Man games WOULD be the most bland and uninteresting platformers ever if not for the gimmick of upsizing everything in the game so at any given point you're looking at only 1/4 of what I have to assume the developers were looking at when working on the level designs. Seriously those games are the platformer equivalent of playing a bugged out version of the original Dragon Warrior that leaves the 3x3 radius of dungeon vision on the whole time.

Falselogic
09-14-2010, 01:13 PM
Halloween Harry is one of my fav old-school games as is *mind blanks* some other platformer shooter that I'll have to look up at home tonight...

Merus
09-14-2010, 01:19 PM
A lot of people seem to have good memories of the Dizzy series.

Dizzy! Man, now there is an interesting series. Anyone up for a combination platformer/adventure game?

Egarwaen
09-14-2010, 01:32 PM
I remember Jazz Jackrabbit actually being pretty good, though I haven't played it since early high school, so I can't be sure. It seemed to do a good job of capturing the feeling of constant, just-barely-controlled speed that Sonic was always aiming for but never hit.

Metal Warriors and Lost Vikings have already been mentioned, but both games were brilliant. They were solid, creative, and incredibly playable.

Daikaiju
09-14-2010, 02:08 PM
Good to see Plok is remembered.

B.O.B. was another good entry. The variable weapons, animation and funny writing made for some fun. Never did finish it though. Got stolen along with a good chunk of my SNES games (chrono trigger & Super Mario RPG).

:(
Depresed now...

liquid
09-14-2010, 03:20 PM
Comix Zone had style, but after a few minutes of basically playing Double Dragon you just kinda get blindly thrust into situations that are likely to cause instant death or at least nearly unavoidable damage, with only 2 lives to get through the whole game? 3?
Comix Zone makes a lot more sense when you approach it as a puzzle game rather than an action game. There are very few situations where just punching things is the best option.


So has anyone here played Giana Sisters DS? Is that worth picking up?

Andrew
09-14-2010, 03:43 PM
Blue Sky software had half decent Genesis titles in Jurassic Park and Vectorman. Not great titles, but certainly playable. Vectorman had that pseudo 3d look as well. Do Ecco games count?

I'd beg to differ. Vectorman was awesome. Hard, but awesome.

Jurassic Park was pretty decent, but I haven't replayed it in ages. JP Genesis was actually the first game I ever beat! I beat both Grant and the Raptor games! Raptor's high-jumping and long-jumping mechanics made for a pretty uniquely awesome experience, IMO.

This has the tendency to eclipse the dedicated 16-bit thread...

ArugulaZ
09-14-2010, 03:59 PM
Comix Zone makes a lot more sense when you approach it as a puzzle game rather than an action game. There are very few situations where just punching things is the best option.


So has anyone here played Giana Sisters DS? Is that worth picking up?

Yes. It's decent but not fantastic. The level design in particular is a little suspect... stages are either extremely linear and focused or extremely open-ended and aimless, without much middle ground. As you'd expect, the gameplay is extremely derivative of Super Mario Bros., and hasn't evolved much in the twenty plus years since its Commodore 64 debut. Bubble gum and soda give you special touchscreen activated powers, but those are the only new power-ups.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Kvpm4t4A1o

You know what Western platformer strived for total awesomeness and very nearly reached it? Ruff 'n Tumble for the Amiga. It's like the love child of Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, and Metal Slug if you can imagine such a combination. The visuals are gorgeous, but the system's one button joystick knocks the control down a peg. It's never fun to jump by pressing up in a platform game...

Bongo Bill
09-14-2010, 09:36 PM
Nobody mentioned Prince of Persia? Oh for shame.

...though I think the best version of the original was developed in Japan.

I mentioned it.

Donny
09-14-2010, 09:45 PM
So has anyone here played Giana Sisters DS? Is that worth picking up?

Its very...not good. Its the very definition of generic platformer.

ProfessorS
09-27-2010, 06:54 AM
Just wanted to drop in and say that Prehistorik Man (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYSiur70nXA) is a damn good, if unspectacular little platformer. It was released post-DKC so it was pretty ignored back in the day for looking "outdated."

Thinaran
09-27-2010, 07:22 AM
I freaking loved Blackthorne by Blizzard. Now I want to play it again.

Traumadore
09-27-2010, 07:26 AM
Abuse first came out in 1995. I always loved the mouse controlled aiming independant from your movements. I was young and sucked too hard to see much of it when I played it over ten years ago.

Olli T
09-27-2010, 08:38 AM
Abuse first came out in 1995. I always loved the mouse controlled aiming independant from your movements. I was young and sucked too hard to see much of it when I played it over ten years ago.

It was pretty good! Kind of ahead of its time, really.

Pheeel
09-27-2010, 01:13 PM
Just wanted to drop in and say that Prehistorik Man (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYSiur70nXA) is a damn good, if unspectacular little platformer. It was released post-DKC so it was pretty ignored back in the day for looking "outdated."

Wow, I'd totally forgotten that one. I had a demo version of it in it's earlier Amiga/ST incarnation, when it was just called "Prehistorik".

I kind of have a love/hate affair with the Dizzy games. I enjoyed them at the time, but now I think they compensated for the lack of challenge in the puzzles by putting loads of horribly unfair jumps and traps. That combined with the clumsy jumping mechanic resulted in many, many unfair deaths. I think "Treasure Island", the first one, only gave you one life for the entire game. One slip, that was it. Do the whole thing again.

Here's some other decent Amiga platformers that I can remember. There are probably others which have slipped my mind for the moment.
First Samurai (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohFptVJ1LYY)
Gods (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yD1RK9gOoms)
Magic Pockets (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlqDeeM4bzQ)

PT
09-27-2010, 01:53 PM
First Samurai (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohFptVJ1LYY)

...which received a SNES port and was also featured on GameCenter CX (http://www.crunkgames.com/?p=87&page=96), a strange honor for such an obscure game. All I know is that it looked clunky (even when realizing that Shinya Arino will forever suck at video games) and was completely insane. (Jumping multiple times into the past and to the future? Sure. Fighting a boss that looks like an evil, demonic home theater? That totally makes sense...why not do it?)

--

I mentioned this briefly in the demo thread, but I feel the just-released Blade Kitten looks/feels/plays like a early to mid-90s PC shareware platformer. The fact that you can pay to "unlock" the next chapter only makes the comparisons more apt. It's not a bad game, but that type of game (floaty platforming, HUGE maps with tons of secrets) is not for everyone.

David331
09-27-2010, 11:31 PM
The games I had in my head have all already been mentioned. Some of my personal favorites included Commander Keen in Goodbye Galaxy, Jazz Jackrabbit, Jill of the Jungle, and Out of this World.

I'm not sure I'd actually recommend Out of this World to anybody though. I liked it at the time sure, but looking back, I suppose the game would be much more frustrating than its worth. Never did play the sequel.

blinkpen
09-27-2010, 11:39 PM
I did a lot of shareware gaming on an IBM PC in that year-range. One of the titles that stands out in my memory is Crystal Caves (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iE9GVn2mjs8), I believe by Apogee.

Ossobucco
09-28-2010, 12:32 AM
The Adventures of Batman and Robin on Genesis is pretty fantastic, though it might be more accurately classified as a run 'n' gun instead of a platformer. The game shares some similarities with Gunstar Heroes, including a few really cool and imaginative boss fights (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAGXJE1krqY&feature=related). Badass soundtrack as well, if you like Genesis synth.

Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow is a game that I really liked a lot as a kid. I only rented it a few times and haven't played it since, so I have no idea how good it really was. Mickey Mania falls into this category as well, though I'm a bit more doubtful about how that one holds up. I think I'll go ahead and play Maui Mallard some time within the next few days and see how that goes.

I'm also going to say Gex even though I might be the only one who thinks so. I only sorta-liked it as a kid, but I also sorta-liked it when I replayed it a couple years ago. It's a decent platformer for sure, at the very least.

EDIT: Forgot about The Lion King while I was thinking about Disney stuff. Definitely should have remembered it, since it's a really great game. Probably one of my favourite Disney platformers, Western or otherwise.

Donny
09-28-2010, 12:44 AM
The original GEX was decent save for some very bull shitty methods required to save your game (either finding and beating a level with a VHS tape in it or writing down a fucking too long password). Crystal Dynamics was forced to cut the game down considerably (the 3DO version has a slew of levels cut out from the game available with a cheat code) and it shows in the end.

The sequels though, are the worst kinds of post Banjo Kazooie collect-a-thon 3D bullshit.

MetManMas
09-28-2010, 01:07 AM
Just wanted to drop in and say that Prehistorik Man (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYSiur70nXA) is a damn good, if unspectacular little platformer. It was released post-DKC so it was pretty ignored back in the day for looking "outdated."

I have sadly never played Prehistorik Man, but I approve of games with cavemen.

Speaking of which, anyone tried Prehistorik Man's DSiWare port? I'm thinking of giving it a shot if it's a decent enough port.

ArugulaZ
09-28-2010, 05:41 AM
I can vouch for the GameBoy Advance version if that helps!

(er, probably not.)

Spuuky
09-28-2010, 05:50 AM
Seriously those games are the platformer equivalent of playing a bugged out version of the original Dragon Warrior that leaves the 3x3 radius of dungeon vision on the whole time.Man I'd play this. Of course, I mapped the cave under Garinham with no light source using sound. :|

I don't understand why it matters to people what country a game was made in. Sure, you might be able to glean some tendencies from the genre history in that area, but it seems much easier to just learn about any game you may be interested in.

ajr82
09-28-2010, 09:37 AM
I don't understand why it matters to people what country a game was made in. Sure, you might be able to glean some tendencies from the genre history in that area, but it seems much easier to just learn about any game you may be interested in.

I do think that people sometimes go overboard with identifying game designs with particular countries/regions, but on the other hand there are often genuine differences in how different counties approach fundamentally similar game mechanics. Personally, I think that more regional character in games is a good thing, and something that should be encouraged.

Egarwaen
09-28-2010, 12:04 PM
I do think that people sometimes go overboard with identifying game designs with particular countries/regions, but on the other hand there are often genuine differences in how different counties approach fundamentally similar game mechanics. Personally, I think that more regional character in games is a good thing, and something that should be encouraged.

In particular, there was a distinct difference in character between regions at the time. Compare American, European, and Japanese platformers from this era, and you'll see a lot of variation emerge. I'm not sure I'd be able to accurately characterize it, but it seemed that American design was largely aimed at shareware PC shooter-platformers, Japanese design was pursuing very elegant console platforming experiences, and European design was focused on high-quality graphics and animation.

RT-55J
09-28-2010, 01:02 PM
The Adventures of Batman and Robin on Genesis is pretty fantastic, though it might be more accurately classified as a run 'n' gun instead of a platformer. The game shares some similarities with Gunstar Heroes, including a few really cool and imaginative boss fights (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAGXJE1krqY&feature=related). Badass soundtrack as well, if you like Genesis synth.
That game looks amazing, but everything I've seen of it also indicates that the stages are horribly (horribly (horribly)) padded. I'm still debating whether I should bother playing it or not.

Here's a longer and higher-quality video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTuQMdG1vKs) of that boss.


On a tangentially related note, would "Thust-type" games such as Solar Jetman and Sub-Terrania count as platformers?

Ossobucco
09-28-2010, 05:13 PM
That game looks amazing, but everything I've seen of it also indicates that the stages are horribly (horribly (horribly)) padded. I'm still debating whether I should bother playing it or not.
This is definitely a huge problem with the game: most of the levels drag on for about two or three times longer than they should. It's not so bad once you get good enough to move through them quickly, but the shmup segments of stages 2 and 4 are excruciatingly tedious no matter what you do.

Kayin
09-28-2010, 07:05 PM
I don't understand why it matters to people what country a game was made in. Sure, you might be able to glean some tendencies from the genre history in that area, but it seems much easier to just learn about any game you may be interested in.

When you look at things at the back end of this time line and you see how America totally sucked dick at making console games and how Japan ruled hard and look at today you really can go "Wow what the fuck happed" and dig into it a bit to find some interesting tidbits.

Lets take a moment to consider that people who got it early on and made decent PC platformers (id and Epic) went on to kick tons of ass in the FPS genre and were hugely successful. Thats actually a pretty interesting thing to note I think.

blinkpen
09-28-2010, 07:28 PM
The Adventures of Batman and Robin on Genesis is pretty fantastic, though it might be more accurately classified as a run 'n' gun instead of a platformer. The game shares some similarities with Gunstar Heroes, including a few really cool and imaginative boss fights (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAGXJE1krqY&feature=related). Badass soundtrack as well, if you like Genesis synth.

Hooo man, that music is so incredibly Genesis it's like I'm back in 1993 just listening to it.

Spuuky
09-28-2010, 10:12 PM
I can certainly understand wanting to look at it purely as historical information which is interesting to know and study, I merely don't think it has value in making judgments about individual games.

Tato
09-29-2010, 10:33 AM
I feel like the SNES version of Batman and Robin is ultimately superior because of the padded nature of the Genesis game. Not only is the Genesis game almost too difficult to complete because of its length, but it's really really boring in parts. By the 10th minute of the level 2 shooting stage, I was wondering if the level was a big loop and if I had to collect some special power-up to make it end, like in Robowarrior. I think they were really proud of that Jesper Kyd soundtrack and wanted to force you to listen to the entirity of each musical track.

The SNES version is less of a shooter and more of a Kung-Fu style beat-em-up. Each level gets its own title card like in the animated series and there are some pretty cool set pieces, like the Joker level in which you fight through a theme park or The Riddler level where you're stuck in a giant maze.

As far as Western platformers go, I've always been kinda fascinated by the stuff DTMC published in the early 90s. They published Lester the Unlikely and The Adventures of Dr. Franken, which I both think are frustrating but interesting titles. Lester gives you an unusual protagonist in a Prince of Persia style game and it's pretty neat to see him gradually progress and get better abilities throughout the game. Unfortunately, the awful combat becomes really hard to slog through in the cave portions of the game.

Dr. Franken lets you select from different levels on the world map and each stage is fairly large and open ended. You have to collect four pieces of a body part in each level and then find the exit. Some of the levels are actually really clever and some of the art design is nice. Unfortunately, it's undermined in the same way as Lester because of its controls. Franken's attacks leave him way too vulnerable to the enemies and the hit boxes are very, very unforgiving.

On a final note, I'm not sure if Cosmic Spacehead really counts as a platformer, but for some reason I really dig that game, awful sidescrolling sections and all. I think I just have a soft spot for shitty Camerica/Code Masters games like Super Robin Hood and Boomerang Kid.

Red Hedgehog
09-29-2010, 10:24 PM
Abuse first came out in 1995. I always loved the mouse controlled aiming independant from your movements. I was young and sucked too hard to see much of it when I played it over ten years ago.

Ooh, and Abuse was most likely inspired by the 1986 Mac platformer Dark Castle which first used independent mouse aiming and totally stands up today (I just replayed it a couple years ago). It had a sequel in 1987, Beyond Dark Castle that added incremental improvements, and a new sequel Return to Dark Castle that came out in 2008.

Merus
09-29-2010, 11:35 PM
Man, I remember Gods. That game was brutal, and it had really weird physics.

Kishi
09-29-2010, 11:43 PM
and European design was focused on high-quality graphics and animation.

Lionheart doesn't look very fun, but holy crap Henk Nieborg pixel art (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeBVhq1IEqA).

Sven
09-30-2010, 08:40 AM
I feel like the SNES version of Batman and Robin is ultimately superior because of the padded nature of the Genesis game. Not only is the Genesis game almost too difficult to complete because of its length, but it's really really boring in parts.

This is true, but as a Japanese developed game, it's not really germane to this thread.

The SNES game is six levels of utter brilliance bogged down by one horrible, HORRIBLE driving level. The Genesis game is a rather typical Genesis action / shooter, but it doesn't capture the feeling of the show nearly as well as the SNES one does.

I maintain that the level where you track down Hostages in a museum is one of the best SNES sidescrolling levels. It's not even that action-packed (you fight maybe a couple dozen enemies in 10-15 minutes), but it would have made for a great episode in and of itself.

(I'd cite the Riddler level as well, but, well, that WAS a BTAS episode.)

On the country-of-origin thing, I think American devs were content to let the Japanese control the platformer market, for the most part, and focused on things that they knew / were good at. European devs didn't seem as willing to lay down, but, as noted, their sensibilities always seemed to be attuned more to presentation than to gameplay. I think we've gone over numerous examples of European Overanimation Syndrome here, but it hit its peak in the SNES days.

Ben1842
09-30-2010, 09:36 AM
Startropics was made in the west.... by Japanese people mostly though I think...

Also Commander Keen 4 (http://www.retrowaretv.com/GameQuickieFront/GameQuickieCommanderKeen4/tabid/382/Default.aspx)

Kishi
09-30-2010, 10:19 AM
StarTropics was made in Japan for an American audience, like Snake's Revenge. (Except, you know, better than Snake's Revenge.)

Shagohod
09-30-2010, 12:44 PM
The Genesis X-men games were enjoyable. They had good graphics and interesting ideas. Shoddy level design though

Sven
09-30-2010, 12:53 PM
StarTropics was made in Japan for an American audience, like Snake's Revenge. (Except, you know, better than Snake's Revenge.)

I dunno... there's only so much tile-by-tile jumping puzzles you can do before Snake's Revenge starts looking more interesting.

RT-55J
09-30-2010, 01:01 PM
M.C. Kids, despite the license and slightly slippery controls, is a generally well-designed game. Granted, I've only played through the first world, but from what I played the levels were genuinely well-designed and Actually Clever. If the game actually manages to maintain this level of quality, I'd say that it very deserving of a spot in the NES canon.

Also, the music. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhYM63nfMNA) So good... @_@