Exploring the Fundamentals of Platformer Games: What Does It Mean When a Game is a Platformer?

Welcome to a thrilling world of video games! In this article, we will delve into the exciting and adventurous genre of platformer games. We will explore the fundamental question, “What does it mean if a game is a platformer?” So, get ready to jump, climb, and run through different levels as we uncover the secrets of this amazing gaming genre.

Platformer games are known for their unique gameplay style that involves navigating through different levels by jumping, climbing, and running. These games often feature a protagonist who must overcome various obstacles, defeat enemies, and collect power-ups to progress through the levels.

So, what does it mean when a game is a platformer? Simply put, it means that the game has been designed with a focus on exploration, movement, and platforming mechanics. The player must use their skills and reflexes to navigate through the game world, overcome challenges, and reach the end of each level.

In this article, we will explore the history of platformer games, their defining features, and the various sub-genres that have emerged over the years. We will also take a look at some of the most popular platformer games of all time and what makes them so beloved by gamers.

So, grab your gaming gear and join us on this exciting journey as we explore the fundamentals of platformer games and discover what it means when a game is a platformer.

Quick Answer:
A platformer game is a type of video game where the player controls a character that runs, jumps, and interacts with a two-dimensional environment. The player must navigate the character through obstacles, enemies, and other challenges to progress through the game. The defining characteristic of a platformer is the emphasis on precise controls and timing, as the player must carefully manage the character’s movements to succeed. Some examples of popular platformer games include Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, and Rayman.

What is a Platformer Game?

Defining the Genre

A platformer game is a type of video game that is characterized by the player controlling a character that moves and jumps between different platforms. These games typically feature obstacles and enemies that the player must overcome or defeat in order to progress through the game. The defining characteristic of a platformer game is the use of platforms as a central gameplay mechanic.

One of the key elements of a platformer game is the use of jumping mechanics. This is often achieved through the use of a jump button, which allows the player to make their character jump from one platform to another. Jumping is a core mechanic in platformer games, and players must master it in order to succeed in the game.

Another important aspect of platformer games is the use of obstacles and enemies. These can take many forms, from simple pitfalls and spikes to more complex enemies that require strategic thinking and timing to defeat. The obstacles and enemies in a platformer game are designed to challenge the player and add an element of difficulty to the game.

Platformer games can be played on a variety of platforms, including consoles, computers, and mobile devices. They are often 2D games, although some modern platformer games feature 3D graphics and gameplay. Regardless of the specific platform or graphics style, the core mechanics of a platformer game remain the same.

Overall, the defining characteristic of a platformer game is the use of platforms as a central gameplay mechanic, with a focus on jumping and overcoming obstacles and enemies. These games are designed to be challenging and engaging, and they have been popular among gamers for decades.

Key Characteristics

A platformer game is a genre of video games that emphasizes the player’s character navigating and interacting with a two-dimensional (2D) environment. These games are known for their focus on precise timing, timing, and control, which often requires the player to jump, climb, and maneuver their character through obstacles, enemies, and other challenges.

Here are some key characteristics of platformer games:

  • Jumping and climbing mechanics: Platformer games typically feature characters that can jump and climb, allowing players to navigate their environment by scaling walls, leaping over gaps, and accessing hidden areas.
  • Enemies and obstacles: Platformer games often have enemies and obstacles that the player must avoid or defeat. These challenges may include moving obstacles, deadly traps, or enemy creatures that must be overcome to progress through the game.
  • Collectibles and power-ups: Many platformer games feature collectibles, such as coins or items, that the player can collect to increase their score or unlock new abilities. Power-ups may also be available, which can temporarily enhance the player’s character with additional abilities or strength.
  • Precise timing and control: Platformer games often require precise timing and control, as players must time their jumps and movements carefully to avoid obstacles and enemies.
  • A 2D environment: Platformer games are typically set in a 2D environment, although some modern games may include 3D elements or backgrounds. The player’s character and environment are usually rendered in a 2D perspective, however.
  • Simple controls: Platformer games typically have simple controls, which make them accessible to players of all ages and skill levels. The controls are usually limited to a few buttons or keys, allowing players to focus on the gameplay mechanics rather than complex controls.
  • A sense of progression: Platformer games often include a sense of progression, as players unlock new levels, abilities, or content as they progress through the game. This sense of progression helps to keep players engaged and motivated to continue playing.

Overall, platformer games are known for their engaging gameplay, precise timing and control, and sense of progression. By mastering the gameplay mechanics, players can overcome challenges and unlock new content, making platformer games a popular and enduring genre in the world of video games.

The Evolution of Platformer Games

Key takeaway: Platformer games are characterized by the use of platforms as a central gameplay mechanic, with a focus on jumping and overcoming obstacles and enemies. They are known for their engaging storylines, challenging gameplay, and variety of levels and collectibles. Platformer games have evolved over time with technological advancements, leading to the emergence of 2D and 3D platformers, as well as mobile platformers. They are popular among gamers for their engaging storylines, challenging gameplay, and variety of levels and collectibles.

Early Beginnings

In the realm of video games, the platformer genre has a rich and storied history that spans several decades. It is a genre that has evolved and changed significantly over the years, with new innovations and mechanics constantly being introduced. To truly understand what it means for a game to be a platformer, it is important to delve into the early beginnings of this genre and examine how it has evolved over time.

One of the earliest examples of a platformer game is the 1980 game “Space Invaders” developed by Taito. While not a traditional platformer in the sense that it did not feature jumping or climbing mechanics, it did feature a character that moved horizontally across the screen and shot at invading aliens. This early game laid the groundwork for the mechanics that would become synonymous with the platformer genre.

In 1983, the game “Super Mario Bros.” was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). This game is widely considered to be one of the first true platformer games, as it featured a character named Mario who could jump and run across various platforms and obstacles. The game also introduced the concept of power-ups, which allowed the player to gain temporary abilities such as the ability to jump higher or shoot fireballs.

The success of “Super Mario Bros.” led to a surge in popularity for the platformer genre, and many other games were developed that followed in its footsteps. These games often featured similar mechanics, such as jumping and running across platforms, as well as the introduction of new mechanics such as double jumping and wall jumping.

Overall, the early beginnings of the platformer genre were marked by the introduction of mechanics such as horizontal movement, jumping, and power-ups. These mechanics laid the foundation for the genre as we know it today, and have influenced countless other games in the years since their introduction.

Technological Advancements

The Emergence of 2D Platformers

The origins of platformer games can be traced back to the early days of video gaming, with the advent of 2D platformers. These games featured simple graphics and limited animations, but their gameplay mechanics were innovative and engaging. Players controlled characters that could run, jump, and interact with the environment, overcoming obstacles and enemies to progress through levels.

The Arrival of 3D Platformers

With the rise of 3D graphics and more powerful gaming hardware, platformer games evolved into a new dimension. 3D platformers introduced a sense of depth and complexity to the gameplay, allowing players to move in multiple directions and explore more detailed environments. Games like Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, and Crash Bandicoot popularized this genre, with intricate level designs, creative power-ups, and diverse enemy types.

The Influence of Technological Advancements

Throughout the years, platformer games have continued to evolve alongside technological advancements. As consoles and PCs became more powerful, game developers pushed the boundaries of what was possible in terms of graphics, sound, and physics. For example, games like Rayman Legends and Limbo showcased stunning visuals and intricate animations, while titles like LittleBigPlanet and Minecraft emphasized player creativity and open-world exploration.

The Rise of Mobile Platformers

In recent years, the rise of mobile gaming has led to a new wave of platformer games. These games are designed specifically for touchscreens and often feature simpler controls and more accessible gameplay. However, many mobile platformers still retain the core elements of the genre, such as running, jumping, and platforming, while incorporating unique mechanics and innovative gameplay ideas.

The Impact of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

The introduction of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies has also brought new possibilities to the platformer genre. VR platformers like Superhot VR and Moss offer immersive and intuitive gameplay experiences, where players move and interact with the environment using motion controllers. Meanwhile, AR platformers like Pokémon Go blend the real world with virtual elements, creating a unique and engaging gaming experience.

Overall, the evolution of platformer games has been driven by technological advancements, with each new generation of consoles and gaming devices pushing the boundaries of what is possible. As technology continues to evolve, it is likely that platformer games will continue to innovate and expand in new and exciting ways.

Why Platformer Games are So Popular

Engaging Storylines

One of the key reasons why platformer games have remained so popular over the years is due to their engaging storylines. Unlike other genres of video games, platformers often have a narrative that is woven into the gameplay, creating a more immersive experience for the player. Here are some of the ways in which platformer games excel in storytelling:

Memorable Characters

Many platformer games feature memorable characters that players can relate to and connect with on an emotional level. These characters often have distinct personalities, backstories, and motivations that drive the plot forward. Whether it’s a plucky hero on a quest to save the world or a lovable sidekick with a unique set of skills, players are drawn to these characters and become invested in their journey.

Emotional Connection

Platformer games often create an emotional connection between the player and the characters. Through well-written dialogue, expressive animations, and poignant story moments, players feel a sense of empathy towards the characters they are controlling. This emotional connection is what drives players to continue playing the game, even in the face of difficult challenges or obstacles.

Dynamic Worlds

In addition to memorable characters, platformer games also feature dynamic worlds that are filled with rich storytelling opportunities. These worlds are often filled with hidden secrets, Easter eggs, and unexpected plot twists that keep players engaged and invested in the story. From vibrant environments to intricate level design, platformer games create a sense of wonder and discovery that keeps players coming back for more.

Interactive Storytelling

Finally, platformer games excel in interactive storytelling. Unlike other mediums, such as movies or books, players have the ability to control the narrative and make choices that impact the outcome of the story. This sense of agency and control creates a unique storytelling experience that is tailored to the individual player. Whether it’s choosing a different path or making a critical decision that alters the course of the story, platformer games offer a level of interactivity that is unmatched by other genres.

Overall, the engaging storylines found in platformer games are a major reason why they remain so popular. By creating memorable characters, emotional connections, dynamic worlds, and interactive storytelling, platformer games offer a unique and immersive experience that keeps players coming back for more.

Challenging Gameplay

  • Mastering Skills and Reflexes
    • Platformer games are designed to challenge players to master certain skills and reflexes, such as precise timing, spacing, and spacing.
    • Players must navigate through levels that are often filled with obstacles, enemies, and hazards, requiring them to react quickly and make split-second decisions.
    • This type of gameplay can be very rewarding for players who enjoy overcoming challenges and improving their skills.
  • Overcoming Obstacles
    • In platformer games, players must navigate through levels that are often filled with obstacles, enemies, and hazards.
    • These obstacles can take many forms, such as bottomless pits, spiked traps, and moving platforms.
    • Players must use their skills and reflexes to overcome these obstacles and reach the end of the level.
    • This type of gameplay can be very challenging and satisfying for players who enjoy a sense of accomplishment.
  • Precise Controls
    • Platformer games often require precise controls, such as precise timing and spacing, in order to navigate through levels successfully.
    • Players must be able to accurately jump, climb, and move in order to avoid obstacles and enemies.
    • This type of gameplay can be very challenging for players who are not used to precise controls, but can be very rewarding for those who master them.
  • Variety and Replayability
    • Platformer games often offer a variety of levels, each with their own unique challenges and obstacles.
    • This variety can make the gameplay feel fresh and exciting, even after multiple playthroughs.
    • Additionally, platformer games often offer online leaderboards and challenges, which can encourage players to continue playing and improving their skills.
    • This type of gameplay can be very addictive for players who enjoy a sense of competition and progression.

How to Play Platformer Games

Controls and Mechanics

Platformer games are known for their precise controls and intricate mechanics, which require players to navigate their characters through various obstacles and challenges. In this section, we will delve into the details of how platformer games are played, focusing on the controls and mechanics that are integral to the genre.

Jumping and Movement

One of the most fundamental mechanics in platformer games is the ability to jump. Players must master the art of timing and spacing their jumps to overcome obstacles such as gaps, pits, and enemies. In addition to jumping, players may also need to perform other movements such as sliding, wall-jumping, and double-jumping to navigate the game world.

Platforming Puzzles

Another key aspect of platformer games is the inclusion of platforming puzzles. These puzzles challenge players to use their platforming skills to solve various challenges, such as navigating through a maze or avoiding traps. Players must use their wits and reflexes to overcome these obstacles and progress through the game.

Combat and Enemies

In many platformer games, players must also engage in combat with various enemies that they encounter throughout the game world. Players must use a variety of attacks and defensive moves to defeat enemies, often while navigating through the game’s platforming challenges.

Collectibles and Power-ups

Platformer games often include collectibles and power-ups that players can pick up to enhance their character’s abilities or unlock new areas of the game. These collectibles and power-ups can range from health upgrades to weapons and special abilities, and players must use their platforming skills to reach them.

Overall, the controls and mechanics of platformer games are designed to challenge players to master a variety of skills, from precise platforming to combat and puzzle-solving. By mastering these mechanics, players can enjoy the full potential of platformer games and experience the thrill of navigating through challenging environments and overcoming obstacles.

Mastering the Basics

Playing platformer games requires a certain set of skills and strategies that can be mastered with practice. Here are some of the basics that players need to understand to excel in platformer games:

  • Character Controls: Understanding the character controls is essential for playing platformer games. This includes learning how to move the character left, right, up, and down, as well as understanding how to jump, climb, and perform other actions.
  • Obstacle Avoidance: Platformer games are known for their challenging obstacles, such as pits, spikes, and enemies. Players need to learn how to avoid these obstacles by timing their jumps and movements correctly.
  • Power-ups and Upgrades: Many platformer games offer power-ups and upgrades that can enhance the character’s abilities, such as increased speed or strength. Players need to learn how to identify and utilize these power-ups to progress through the game.
  • Platforming Precision: Platformer games often require precise timing and spacing to navigate through levels successfully. Players need to learn how to precisely time jumps and movements to avoid obstacles and reach hidden areas.
  • Boss Battles: Many platformer games feature boss battles, where players must face off against powerful enemies. Players need to learn how to identify boss patterns and weaknesses, as well as how to dodge and attack effectively.

By mastering these basics, players can improve their skills and become proficient in platformer games. However, platformer games can also be challenging and frustrating, and it’s important for players to learn from their mistakes and keep trying until they succeed.

Popular Platformer Games

Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Bros. is a classic platformer game that was first released in 1985 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The game follows the adventures of Mario, a plumber by trade, and his brother Luigi as they navigate through various worlds, each with its own set of obstacles and enemies.

The gameplay of Super Mario Bros. is centered around the ability to jump, run, and climb over obstacles and enemies. Players must use these abilities to navigate through the game’s levels, which are often divided into multiple stages, each with its own unique challenges.

One of the defining features of Super Mario Bros. is its use of power-ups, which give players special abilities that can help them overcome obstacles and defeat enemies. For example, the “Super Mushroom” power-up allows players to grow in size, making it easier to jump over obstacles and defeat enemies. Other power-ups include the “Fire Flower,” which allows players to shoot fireballs at enemies, and the “Starman,” which grants players temporary invincibility.

In addition to its innovative gameplay mechanics, Super Mario Bros. is also known for its colorful graphics and catchy music. The game’s levels are filled with vibrant colors and imaginative designs, and the music is catchy and memorable, helping to create a sense of excitement and adventure.

Overall, Super Mario Bros. is widely regarded as one of the greatest platformer games of all time, and its influence can still be felt in modern gaming. Its simple yet addictive gameplay, colorful graphics, and memorable music have made it a beloved classic among gamers of all ages.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic the Hedgehog is a popular platformer game that was first released in 1991 for the Sega Genesis console. The game follows the adventures of a blue hedgehog named Sonic, who is able to run at high speeds and roll into a ball to defeat enemies and navigate through obstacles.

The gameplay of Sonic the Hedgehog involves navigating through a series of levels, each with its own unique design and challenges. Players must use Sonic’s abilities to avoid obstacles, defeat enemies, and collect rings, which serve as both a form of currency and a measure of Sonic’s health.

One of the key features of Sonic the Hedgehog is its fast-paced gameplay, which requires players to react quickly and make split-second decisions in order to succeed. The game also features a unique soundtrack, composed by Yuji Naka, that has become iconic in the gaming world.

Overall, Sonic the Hedgehog is a classic platformer game that has been beloved by gamers for decades. Its fast-paced gameplay, unique design, and memorable characters have made it a staple of the platformer genre, and it continues to be popular among gamers today.

The Future of Platformer Games

Emerging Trends

Emphasis on Narrative and Character Development

As platformer games continue to evolve, developers are placing a greater emphasis on storytelling and character development. Players can expect to see more complex and nuanced narratives that delve deeper into the world and lore of the game. This includes not only the story of the main character, but also the stories of side characters and the world itself.

Incorporation of Multiple Genres

Another emerging trend in platformer games is the incorporation of multiple genres. While platformer games have traditionally been focused on action and platforming, many new games are blending platforming with other genres such as puzzle-solving, adventure, and even role-playing. This allows for a more diverse and dynamic gameplay experience, as well as the opportunity to explore new mechanics and gameplay elements.

Virtual and Augmented Reality Integration

As technology continues to advance, virtual and augmented reality integration is becoming more prevalent in platformer games. This allows players to immerse themselves in the game world in a more intuitive and interactive way, with the ability to move around and interact with the environment in a more natural way. This also opens up new possibilities for gameplay, such as incorporating physical movement and gesture-based controls.

Focus on Accessibility and Inclusivity

Finally, many developers are placing a greater focus on accessibility and inclusivity in platformer games. This includes features such as adjustable difficulty settings, support for different control schemes, and the inclusion of diverse characters and representation in the game world. This allows for a more inclusive and welcoming gaming experience for all players, regardless of their background or abilities.

New Technologies

The future of platformer games is exciting, with new technologies paving the way for more immersive and engaging experiences. Some of the key technologies that are shaping the future of platformer games include:

Virtual Reality (VR)

Virtual reality technology is becoming increasingly popular in the gaming industry, and platformer games are no exception. VR allows players to immerse themselves in a fully realized 3D world, providing a more engaging and realistic gaming experience. Platformer games can take advantage of VR technology by incorporating more interactive environments, allowing players to explore their surroundings and interact with objects in new ways.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented reality technology is also making its way into the gaming industry, and platformer games are well-suited to take advantage of it. AR allows players to interact with the real world, while overlaying digital elements on top. This technology can be used to create platformer games that are more seamlessly integrated into the player’s environment, making the gameplay more intuitive and natural.

Cloud Gaming

Cloud gaming technology is another exciting development for platformer games. With cloud gaming, players can access games from any device with an internet connection, without the need for expensive hardware or software. This technology has the potential to make platformer games more accessible to a wider audience, while also providing smoother and more consistent gameplay.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence technology is also being used to enhance platformer games. AI can be used to create more dynamic and responsive environments, as well as more intelligent and challenging enemies. This technology can also be used to create more personalized gaming experiences, by adapting the gameplay to the player’s individual preferences and skill level.

Overall, these new technologies are poised to transform the platformer game genre, providing players with more immersive, engaging, and accessible gaming experiences. As these technologies continue to evolve, it will be exciting to see how they shape the future of platformer games.

The Enduring Appeal of Platformer Games

Platformer games have stood the test of time, remaining popular among gamers of all ages. The enduring appeal of these games can be attributed to several factors, including their simplicity, accessibility, and nostalgic value.

  • Simplicity: Platformer games typically feature a straightforward gameplay mechanic: the player must navigate their character through a series of obstacles to reach the end of the level. This simplicity allows players to quickly pick up the game and start playing, without the need for extensive tutorials or complicated controls.
  • Accessibility: Platformer games are often designed to be accessible to a wide range of players, with simple controls and low barriers to entry. This accessibility makes platformer games appealing to players of all skill levels, from casual gamers to hardcore enthusiasts.
  • Nostalgic Value: Many platformer games are remakes or remasters of classic games from the 80s and 90s, which hold a special place in the hearts of many gamers. These games evoke feelings of nostalgia and bring back memories of childhood, making them an attractive option for players looking for a trip down memory lane.

Additionally, platformer games often feature colorful graphics, catchy music, and memorable characters, which contribute to their enduring appeal. These games are often seen as a form of escapism, allowing players to immerse themselves in a fun and carefree world.

In conclusion, the enduring appeal of platformer games can be attributed to their simplicity, accessibility, and nostalgic value. These games continue to be popular among gamers of all ages, and their appeal shows no signs of waning.

Exploring New Frontiers

The platformer genre has come a long way since its inception, and developers are constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible within the genre. One area that has seen significant development is the exploration of new frontiers in platformer games.

Open-World Platformers

Open-world platformers have become increasingly popular in recent years, with games like “Spider-Man” and “Assassin’s Creed” leading the charge. These games offer vast, expansive worlds for players to explore, filled with a variety of different challenges and activities.

One of the key benefits of open-world platformers is the sense of freedom they offer players. Instead of being confined to a linear path, players are free to explore the world at their own pace, discovering new secrets and challenges along the way. This adds a level of replayability to the game, as players can always go back and discover something new.

Platformer Puzzles

Another area where platformer games are being pushed is in the realm of puzzles. While classic platformers were often focused solely on jumping and dodging obstacles, modern platformers are incorporating more complex puzzles into their gameplay.

Games like “Portal” and “The Talos Principle” have proven that platformers can be just as much about problem-solving as they are about physical skill. These games challenge players to think creatively and use their wits to overcome obstacles, adding a new layer of depth to the genre.

VR Platformers

Finally, the rise of virtual reality technology has opened up new possibilities for platformer games. VR platformers offer a truly immersive experience, allowing players to physically move around in a virtual world and interact with their surroundings in a more natural way.

Games like “Superhot VR” and “Beat Saber” have shown the potential of VR platformers, offering players a unique and engaging way to experience the genre. As VR technology continues to improve, it’s likely that we’ll see even more innovative platformer games in the future.

Overall, the future of platformer games looks bright, with developers constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible within the genre. Whether it’s through open-world exploration, complex puzzles, or VR technology, there’s no doubt that platformers will continue to evolve and offer exciting new experiences for players.


1. What is a platformer game?

A platformer game is a type of video game in which the player controls a character that runs, jumps, and interacts with a two-dimensional environment. The goal of the game is typically to navigate the character through various obstacles and enemies to reach the end of the level or complete a specific task.

2. What are the characteristics of a platformer game?

Some common characteristics of platformer games include the use of jumping and running mechanics, the presence of obstacles and enemies that the player must avoid or defeat, and the use of a two-dimensional environment that the player must navigate. Other elements that may be present in platformer games include power-ups, collectibles, and various types of enemies and obstacles that become progressively more challenging as the player progresses through the game.

3. What are some examples of platformer games?

There are many different examples of platformer games, including classic games such as Super Mario Bros. and Sonic the Hedgehog, as well as more modern games like Rayman Legends and Ori and the Blind Forest. Some platformer games are also specifically designed for mobile devices, such as Temple Run and Subway Surfers.

4. What is the difference between a platformer game and other types of video games?

While platformer games are a specific type of video game, there are many other types of games as well. For example, action games focus on combat and violence, while puzzle games focus on problem-solving and logic. Role-playing games (RPGs) focus on character development and storytelling, while sports games focus on simulating real-world sports. Platformer games are unique in that they focus on navigating a character through a two-dimensional environment using jumping and running mechanics.

5. What skills do I need to play platformer games?

To play platformer games, you need to have good hand-eye coordination and timing, as well as the ability to quickly react to changing situations. You should also have good problem-solving skills, as many platformer games require you to figure out how to navigate through levels and overcome obstacles. Finally, you should have patience and persistence, as many platformer games can be challenging and require multiple attempts to complete a level.

What is a PLATFORMER? – Gaming Glossary

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