Sometimes it is kind of refreshing to get your butt kicked. Before I am labeled some kind of masochist let me elaborate: sometimes losing a few times really helps make beating the game worth it. This is especially true in games like Ghosts 'n Goblins, a 1985 side-scrolling platforming nightmare. The game is notorious for being one of the most difficult games of that time – and that is saying something considering how they were made more difficult as to have the players play a small amount of content in as long as the developers could make them play. This is easily seen in Ghosts 'n Goblins where, (minor spoiler) after defeating the final boss, the player must beat the very same difficult game again from the start.
Steering away from the extremities, Super Mario Bros. tends to have the occasional challenging world or level as to keep the player interested, motivated. From my own experience, I can say that this formula tends to lead to the best results because, face it, nobody wants to lose to the same boss or level for days on end. Having a little difficulty in the formula is vital for any platformer that wants to leave players feeling empowered after finishing it.
Just as the sky is almost always blue, platformers almost always have their fair share of moving platforms. This ties in directly with the degree of difficulty that many successful platforms have due to what can only be explained as something in between awful timing and Murphy's Law. Mega Man is notorious for having numerous moving platforms and, well, it really helps make the game less boring. Moving platforms just seem to be at the heart of the platforming genre.
Despite the generic Mario stories being widely accepted, some platformers such as Uncharted, Castlevania, and Metroid have intriguing stories that go behind why the surroundings look how they are, why the protagonist is there, and sometimes even follow an original linear story. In other words, Castlevania and Metroid are more than just some person running through an area in attempt to make the area desolate and Uncharted is more than just jumping from here and there and shooting this or that. Instead, they develop characters and take lots of characteristics that are commonly found in RPGs to make the platformer more than a simple game of leap frog. A great story gives the player a reason to jump onto that ledge or fight that monster other than the generic “save the princess.”
From grandparents to kindergarteners, anyone who has just a little bit of experience playing Mario will remember the catchy tune that plays in the background – and while this is quite frustrating at times, this proves to be a useful tool in making the game more fun. Other games like Shovel Knight also excel in this area. Adding the 8-bit music to the already beautifully retro game just makes Shovel Knight that much more enjoyable to play. Although music is complimentary, it can be what makes or breaks a platforming game. Mario just wouldn't be the same if there were no sound effects or its theme song playing in the background.
Platformers bring a lot to the table, but one of their most impressive feats is their tendency to be able to utilize the graphics they are designed with. Whether it is some 8-bit game or a game like Little Big Planet or Yoshi's Island with its own unique style, platformers are able to be greatly enhanced by using a certain aesthetic. There are numerous games that show just exactly how graphics can help change the way a platformer plays or even feels, but there is a new, upcoming title that really fits the spot. This game is none other than the indie game, Chester United, a platforming game that is innovative in a terms of perspective and graphics. With multiple different in-game “styles,” each of which adds its own bonus, the player can explore the mysterious, vast world that the “chesters,” or characters, inhabit. Players can choose to play the game in its vanilla, dark-romantic environment or in a variety of other ways such as 8-bit and “sketch.” Although this game is only playable through a demo that was just released to the public, the game proves quite beautiful and nearly begs to be explored.
Interested in Chester United? Check out their site here.
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