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Exploring the Origins of Platform Games: Who Invented This Timeless Genre?

Step into the world of gaming and you’ll find a treasure trove of thrilling genres, each with its own unique style and gameplay. But one genre that has stood the test of time and continues to captivate gamers of all ages is the platform game. From Super Mario to Sonic the Hedgehog, these games have become household names and are loved by millions. But who exactly invented this timeless genre? Join us as we embark on a journey to explore the origins of platform games and uncover the minds behind this gaming phenomenon.

Quick Answer:
The origins of platform games can be traced back to the early 1980s with the release of games like “Donkey Kong” and “Super Mario Bros.”. These games were developed by Nintendo and marked the beginning of the platform game genre. Since then, the genre has evolved and expanded to include numerous titles across various platforms. The inventor of the platform game genre is widely considered to be Shigeru Miyamoto, a Japanese video game designer and producer who worked for Nintendo. He is credited with creating some of the most iconic platform games, including “Super Mario Bros.” and “The Legend of Zelda.” Miyamoto’s innovative designs and creative vision have had a lasting impact on the video game industry and have helped to establish platform games as a timeless and beloved genre.

The Early Years: Pioneers of Platform Gaming

The Birth of Video Games

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, video games emerged as a new form of entertainment that captured the imagination of people around the world. The early video games were simple and crude by today’s standards, but they laid the foundation for the development of platform games and other genres that would become popular in the following decades.

One of the earliest video games was “Spacewar!”, which was created in 1962 by a team of students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). This game involved two spaceships that were controlled by different players, who had to maneuver their ships to fire torpedoes at each other. Although it was a simple game, “Spacewar!” was an important milestone in the history of video games because it demonstrated the potential of computer-based entertainment.

In the late 1970s, video games began to evolve rapidly, thanks to the development of more powerful hardware and the introduction of new game consoles like the Atari 2600. One of the most popular early games for the Atari 2600 was “Pong”, which was released in 1972. “Pong” was a simple game that involved players controlling a paddle to hit a ball back and forth across the screen. Despite its simplicity, “Pong” was a huge success and helped to establish video games as a popular form of entertainment.

Another important early game was “Super Mario Bros.”, which was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985. This game featured a plumber named Mario who had to navigate a series of platforms and obstacles to rescue a princess from a castle. “Super Mario Bros.” was a breakthrough game that combined elements of platform games, action games, and puzzle games to create a new and exciting gaming experience. It quickly became one of the most popular video games of all time and established Nintendo as a major player in the video game industry.

Overall, the birth of video games marked a major turning point in the history of entertainment and laid the foundation for the development of platform games and other genres that would become popular in the decades to come.

Early Platform Games: The Advent of Super Mario Bros.

In the early 1980s, the world of video games was revolutionized by the release of Super Mario Bros., a game that would go on to become one of the most iconic and beloved platformers of all time. Developed by Nintendo and designed by legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, Super Mario Bros. was the first game to introduce a number of key elements that would come to define the platform genre, including the iconic red-capped character known as Mario, the addition of a secondary character in Luigi, and the inclusion of power-ups that would enhance the player’s abilities.

Super Mario Bros. was also notable for its innovative use of level design, with each stage featuring a unique layout and challenges that required players to navigate obstacles, avoid enemies, and collect power-ups in order to progress. The game’s emphasis on platforming mechanics, such as jumping and running, made it a standout title in the gaming world, and its popularity led to a string of sequels and spin-offs that continue to be released to this day.

However, the success of Super Mario Bros. was not just due to its innovative gameplay mechanics. The game’s bright, colorful graphics and catchy soundtrack, composed by Koji Kondo, helped to create an immersive and memorable gaming experience that captured the hearts of players around the world. In fact, the game’s music has become so iconic that it is often cited as one of the most recognizable video game soundtracks of all time.

The impact of Super Mario Bros. on the gaming industry cannot be overstated. It established the platform genre as a mainstay of the video game world and set the stage for countless other titles to follow in its footsteps. Today, platform games remain a beloved and enduring genre, with new titles continuing to be released to this day. However, the legacy of Super Mario Bros. lives on, and the game remains a classic that is still enjoyed by players of all ages.

The Innovators: Designers and Developers of Platform Games

Key takeaway: The birth of video games marked a major turning point in the history of entertainment and laid the foundation for the development of platform games and other genres that would become popular in the decades to come. Early platform games like Super Mario Bros. combined innovative gameplay mechanics, level design, and storytelling to create a new and exciting gaming experience. The legacy of these pioneering platform games can still be seen in modern games today.

The Rise of Indie Game Developers

In recent years, indie game developers have gained prominence in the gaming industry, with many of them making significant contributions to the platform game genre. These developers are often small teams or individuals who create games without the backing of large publishers, and they have brought a fresh perspective to the genre.

One of the most notable indie game developers in the platform game genre is Team Cherry, the creators of the popular game “Hollow Knight.” Team Cherry is a small Australian game development studio that was founded in 2014 by three friends who had a passion for creating games. Their game “Hollow Knight” has been praised for its challenging gameplay, charming art style, and engaging story.

Another indie game developer who has made a significant impact on the platform game genre is Supergiant Games. This small game development studio is responsible for creating games such as “Bastion,” “Transistor,” and “Hades.” These games have been praised for their unique blend of action, storytelling, and music, and they have helped to redefine the platform game genre.

Indie game developers have also been responsible for reviving classic platform game franchises. For example, the developer Retro Studios brought back the “Donkey Kong” franchise with the critically acclaimed game “Donkey Kong Country Returns” in 2010. This game was praised for its retro-inspired gameplay, stunning graphics, and catchy music.

In conclusion, the rise of indie game developers has had a significant impact on the platform game genre. These developers have brought new ideas, perspectives, and styles to the genre, and they have helped to keep it relevant and engaging for gamers today.

Platform Game Designers: A Look at the People Behind the Creations

While platform games have evolved over the years, the creative minds behind these iconic games have played a significant role in shaping the genre. From early pioneers to modern-day designers, this section delves into the lives and contributions of the individuals who have left an indelible mark on the world of platform games.

Pioneers of Platform Games

  • Nintendo’s Donkey Kong (1981)
    • Created by Shigeru Miyamoto and starring Jumpman (later known as Mario)
    • Influenced the platform game genre with its innovative gameplay and storytelling
  • Pac-Man (1980)
    • Designed by Toru Iwatani and developed by Namco
    • Pioneered the maze-based gameplay, combining elements of arcade and platform games

The Legacy of Nintendo

  • Super Mario Bros. (1985)
    • Created by Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka
    • Established Mario as a cultural icon and introduced power-ups, hidden areas, and multiple paths
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)
    • Developed by Sega’s AM7 team, led by Yuji Naka
    • Introduced lightning-fast gameplay, immersive worlds, and a memorable protagonist

The Rise of Independent Developers

  • CastleVania (1989)
    • Created by Konami’s Koji Igarashi
    • Combined platform gameplay with exploration, RPG elements, and intricate storytelling
  • Celeste (2018)
    • Developed by Matt Thorson and Noah Sasso
    • Showcased a modern take on the genre, featuring challenging gameplay, atmospheric art, and a poignant narrative

Modern Masters of Platform Games

  • Team Cherry (Australia)
    • Developed by a small team of indie developers
    • Created Hollow Knight (2017), a critically acclaimed Metroidvania-style platformer
  • Insomniac Games (United States)
    • Known for their Spyro and Ratchet & Clank series
    • Developed Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018), which blended platform gameplay with open-world exploration

The platform game designers highlighted above have not only contributed to the development of the genre but have also left an indelible mark on popular culture. Their creations have inspired countless developers and gamers alike, paving the way for the evolution of platform games and the enduring appeal of the genre.

Platform Games Through the Decades: Evolution and Innovation

The 1980s: The Golden Age of Platform Games

The 1980s is widely regarded as the golden age of platform games, a time when the genre was evolving and innovating at a rapid pace. This decade saw the emergence of some of the most iconic and influential platform games of all time, many of which are still enjoyed by gamers today.

One of the most significant developments in platform games during the 1980s was the introduction of more complex level designs and challenging obstacles. Games like Super Mario Bros. (1985) and Sonic the Hedgehog (1991) featured intricate, interconnected levels that required precise timing and spatial awareness to navigate successfully. These games also introduced new gameplay mechanics, such as the ability to perform multiple jumps and the use of special abilities to overcome obstacles.

Another important trend in 1980s platform games was the increasing emphasis on storytelling and character development. While earlier platform games typically consisted of little more than a series of unconnected levels, later games in the decade began to feature more complex narratives and well-defined characters. Games like Castlevania (1986) and Mega Man (1987) introduced ongoing storylines and recurring characters, creating a sense of continuity and investment in the game world.

The 1980s also saw the emergence of several iconic platform game franchises that would go on to shape the genre for years to come. Games like Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, and Mega Man became household names and established platform games as a cornerstone of the gaming industry. These games not only set the standard for platform game design but also inspired countless imitators and innovations in the years that followed.

Despite the many advances and innovations of the 1980s, platform games remained relatively simple in terms of their core mechanics. Players typically controlled a character who could jump, run, and occasionally use special abilities to overcome obstacles and defeat enemies. While these basic mechanics would remain at the heart of platform games for years to come, the 1980s saw significant evolution and innovation in terms of level design, storytelling, and character development.

In summary, the 1980s was a pivotal decade for platform games, marked by significant advances in gameplay mechanics, level design, and storytelling. This period saw the emergence of several iconic franchises and established platform games as a defining genre of the gaming industry. As we continue to explore the origins of platform games, it is clear that the 1980s played a crucial role in shaping the genre as we know it today.

The 1990s: 3D Platformers and the Evolution of Gameplay

In the 1990s, platform games continued to evolve and innovate with the introduction of 3D platformers. These games revolutionized the genre by providing players with a three-dimensional playing field, offering new and exciting gameplay possibilities. Some of the most notable 3D platformers from this era include Super Mario 64, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Banjo-Kazooie.

Super Mario 64

Super Mario 64, released in 1996 for the Nintendo 64, was one of the first 3D platformers to hit the market. The game featured an open-world design, where players could explore various areas and complete objectives in any order they desired. This freedom of exploration was a significant departure from previous Mario games, which had a more linear structure.

Super Mario 64 also introduced new gameplay mechanics, such as the ability to jump, crawl, and swim, as well as a unique camera system that allowed players to view the game world from different angles. The game’s success led to a wave of 3D platformers that followed in its footsteps.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic the Hedgehog, first released in 1991 for the Sega Genesis, was another early entrant in the 3D platformer space. The game’s speed and momentum-based gameplay, coupled with its distinctive graphics and soundtrack, made it a standout title in the genre.

Sonic the Hedgehog was notable for its “loop de loop” level design, which involved rolling and jumping through loops to build speed and perform stunts. The game also featured a unique “Spin Dash” move, where players could spin in place to gain momentum and break through obstacles.


Banjo-Kazooie, released in 1998 for the Nintendo 64, was a platformer that combined elements of exploration, puzzle-solving, and combat. The game’s protagonists, Banjo and Kazooie, were a bear and a bird, respectively, who teamed up to navigate a fantastical world filled with obstacles and enemies.

One of the game’s standout features was its ability to let players fly using Kazooie’s feathers, which allowed for extended glides and greater exploration of the game world. Banjo-Kazooie also introduced a variety of unique abilities for both characters, such as Banjo’s bear hugs and Kazooie’s egg-shooting attacks.

These 3D platformers and others like them revolutionized the platform game genre by providing players with more immersive and interactive worlds to explore. They set the stage for the future of platformers, with new and innovative games continuing to push the boundaries of what was possible in the genre.

Cultural Impact: How Platform Games Shaped Popular Culture

The Phenomenon of Platform Games: Why They Captivated the World

Platform games, also known as jump-and-run games, are a genre of video games that gained popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s. These games are characterized by their 2D side-scrolling levels, precise platforming mechanics, and simple yet addictive gameplay.

One of the main reasons why platform games captivated the world was their accessibility. Unlike other video games of the time, platform games did not require expensive hardware or complex controls. They could be played on a variety of home consoles and computers, making them accessible to a wide audience.

Another reason for their popularity was their innovative gameplay mechanics. Platform games introduced new ways of controlling characters and navigating levels, which were unlike anything that had been seen before in video games. The precision required to complete certain challenges, such as precise timing and spacing, was both challenging and rewarding for players.

The characters and environments in platform games were also designed to be memorable and iconic. Characters like Mario, Sonic, and Link quickly became household names, and their distinctive designs and personalities helped to create a sense of nostalgia and affection for the games. The worlds in which these characters lived were also designed to be visually stunning and immersive, with detailed backgrounds and lively animations.

Finally, platform games were also successful because they offered a sense of progression and accomplishment. Players could unlock new levels, find hidden secrets, and earn rewards for their skills, creating a sense of achievement and satisfaction. This sense of progression was further enhanced by the inclusion of leaderboards and online multiplayer, which allowed players to compete with friends and other players around the world.

Overall, the phenomenon of platform games can be attributed to their accessibility, innovative gameplay mechanics, memorable characters and environments, and sense of progression and accomplishment. These games continue to be popular to this day, and their legacy can be seen in the many modern games that draw inspiration from their design and gameplay.

The Legacy of Platform Games: From Arcade Classics to Modern Masterpieces

Platform games have had a profound impact on popular culture, with their influence extending far beyond the gaming world. The legacy of these games can be seen in the evolution of video game design, as well as in the broader cultural context.

Evolution of Video Game Design

The legacy of platform games can be seen in the evolution of video game design. Early platform games laid the groundwork for many of the mechanics and conventions that are now commonplace in the genre. As technology advanced, so too did the complexity and sophistication of platform games. The early side-scrolling classics gave way to 3D platformers, which in turn gave rise to more open-world games that incorporated platforming elements.

Cultural Context

In addition to their impact on video game design, platform games have also had a significant impact on popular culture more broadly. These games have inspired countless movies, TV shows, and other forms of media. Many of the tropes and themes that are now ubiquitous in science fiction and fantasy can be traced back to the worlds of early platform games.

Furthermore, the characters and iconography of platform games have become ingrained in the cultural consciousness. Characters like Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog are now recognized around the world, transcending the boundaries of language and culture. Even those who have never played a platform game are likely to be familiar with these characters and their distinctive visual styles.

Overall, the legacy of platform games can be seen in the countless ways in which they have influenced popular culture. Whether through their impact on video game design or their pervasive presence in the wider world, these games have left an indelible mark on the modern imagination.

Influences and Inspirations: Other Media and Genres

Platform Games and Animation: The Influence of Cartoons and Anime

The Rise of Cartoons and Anime in Popular Culture

In the early 20th century, animation became a popular form of entertainment, with the first animated feature film, “Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” released in 1937. Cartoons and anime quickly gained a massive following, with audiences entranced by the colorful and dynamic worlds that these animated films and television shows presented.

The Connection Between Platform Games and Animation

The connection between platform games and animation is evident in the visual style and storytelling of these games. Many early platform games, such as “Super Mario Bros.,” drew inspiration from the vibrant and expressive worlds of cartoons and anime. These games featured characters with exaggerated expressions and movements, and the levels were designed to mimic the action-packed environments of animated shows and movies.

The Impact of Animation on Platform Games

The impact of animation on platform games cannot be overstated. The visual style of these games, with their bright colors and dynamic animation, has helped to make them some of the most recognizable and beloved games in the industry. The influence of cartoons and anime has also helped to shape the narratives of these games, with many platform games featuring storylines that are reminiscent of popular animated shows and movies.

The Continued Influence of Animation on Platform Games

Today, the influence of animation on platform games continues to be strong. Many modern platform games, such as “Ratchet & Clank” and “Crash Bandicoot,” still draw inspiration from the visual style and storytelling of cartoons and anime. These games continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in the genre, with developers incorporating more advanced animation techniques and storytelling elements to create immersive and engaging worlds for players to explore.

In conclusion, the influence of animation on platform games cannot be overstated. From the earliest days of the genre to the modern games of today, animation has played a key role in shaping the visual style, storytelling, and overall appeal of these beloved games.

Platform Games and Literature: The Role of Mythology and Fairy Tales

The Role of Mythology in Platform Games

  • The Hero’s Journey: One of the most significant literary influences on platform games is Joseph Campbell’s concept of the Hero’s Journey. This narrative framework follows a hero who goes on an adventure, faces challenges, and emerges transformed. Platform games often utilize this structure, with the player character embarking on a quest to save the world or rescue a princess.
  • Mythical Creatures: Another way that mythology influences platform games is through the inclusion of mythical creatures. For example, many early platform games featured monsters and beasts from mythology, such as dragons, griffins, and cyclops. These creatures added a sense of wonder and adventure to the games, transporting players to fantastical worlds filled with magic and danger.

The Role of Fairy Tales in Platform Games

  • Folk and Fairy Tales: Platform games also draw inspiration from folk and fairy tales, which have been passed down through generations and often feature protagonists embarking on perilous journeys. Many platform games, such as Super Mario Bros., feature elements of fairy tales, including enchanted kingdoms, wicked witches, and magical transformations.
  • Reinterpreting Classic Tales: In some cases, platform games reinterpret classic fairy tales, giving them a new twist. For example, games like LittleBigPlanet and Minecraft allow players to create their own adventures, reimagining familiar stories in unique ways. This DIY approach to storytelling has become a hallmark of modern platform games, enabling players to engage with familiar narratives in fresh and exciting ways.

Overall, the influence of literature, particularly mythology and fairy tales, on platform games cannot be overstated. These narrative traditions have inspired the creation of iconic characters, worlds, and storylines that continue to captivate players today.

The Future of Platform Games: Trends and Developments

The State of Platform Games Today: What’s Popular and What’s Next?

  • In recent years, platform games have seen a resurgence in popularity, with many new titles being released across various platforms.
  • One of the most popular trends in modern platform games is the inclusion of procedurally generated levels, which provide a unique experience for each player.
  • Another trend is the incorporation of cooperative multiplayer, allowing players to work together to complete levels and overcome challenges.
  • Virtual reality technology has also been integrated into some platform games, providing a more immersive experience for players.
  • The increasing popularity of mobile gaming has led to a surge in platform games designed specifically for smartphones and tablets.
  • Some developers are also experimenting with incorporating elements of other genres, such as role-playing games and puzzle games, into platform games to create a more diverse and engaging experience.
  • Overall, the future of platform games looks bright, with a wide range of innovative and exciting new titles on the horizon.

The Future of Platform Games: Predictions and Possibilities

The Evolution of Platform Games: How Technology is Driving Change

As technology continues to advance, it is likely that platform games will continue to evolve and incorporate new features and mechanics. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are two technologies that have the potential to greatly enhance the platform game experience. VR could allow players to fully immerse themselves in a digital world, while AR could add a layer of interactive elements to the real world.

The Rise of Mobile Platform Games: Convenience and Accessibility

Another trend that is likely to continue is the rise of mobile platform games. With the widespread adoption of smartphones and tablets, mobile gaming has become a popular and convenient way to play games. Mobile platform games offer the convenience of being able to play on the go, and the accessibility of being able to play on a device that is always with the player.

The Continued Popularity of Retro-Style Platform Games

Despite the advances in technology, many players still enjoy the classic, retro-style platform games that were popular in the 80s and 90s. These games often have a simple, addictive gameplay mechanic and a charming, pixelated aesthetic. As such, it is likely that retro-style platform games will continue to be popular in the future.

The Influence of Indie Developers on the Platform Game Genre

Indie developers have had a significant impact on the platform game genre in recent years. They have brought new ideas and innovative gameplay mechanics to the genre, and have helped to keep it fresh and interesting. As such, it is likely that indie developers will continue to play a major role in shaping the future of platform games.

The Importance of Community and Social Interaction in Platform Games

Community and social interaction have become increasingly important in the world of gaming, and platform games are no exception. Online communities and social features, such as leaderboards and multiplayer modes, have the potential to greatly enhance the platform game experience. As such, it is likely that platform games will continue to incorporate more social features and online communities in the future.


1. What is a platform game?

A platform game is a type of video game in which the player controls a character who runs, jumps, and interacts with a two-dimensional environment. The character typically moves from left to right, and the goal is to navigate through various obstacles and enemies to reach the end of each level.

2. When was the first platform game created?

The first platform game was created in 1980, and it was called “Space Panic.” It was developed by Japanese company, Universal and was released in the United States by the company, Stern.

3. Who invented the first platform game?

The first platform game was invented by a Japanese company called Universal. The game was called “Space Panic” and was released in the United States by the company Stern.

4. Who are some of the most famous platform game characters?

Some of the most famous platform game characters include Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Donkey Kong.

5. How has the platform game genre evolved over time?

The platform game genre has evolved over time by introducing new mechanics, such as double jumping, special moves, and new types of enemies. Additionally, the graphics and sound have also improved over time, making the games more immersive and visually appealing.

6. What are some popular modern platform games?

Some popular modern platform games include Super Mario Odyssey, Sonic Mania, and Rayman Legends.

7. Is there a difference between platform games and side-scrolling games?

Platform games and side-scrolling games are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Side-scrolling games can include games that don’t involve jumping or running, while platform games are specifically focused on the player controlling a character that jumps and runs through a two-dimensional environment.

The History of Platform Games

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