Ever wondered exactly what a platform game is? The clue is in the title, but it isn’t just a game with platforms, as you may think…
You may have heard the term ‘platformer’ when talking with someone about video games, but what exactly does the word mean? We’ve written this short and straightforward guide to the term platformer, so you know exactly what the name refers to and where its origins come from.
What Is a Platformer?
Platformer refers to a genre of video games, typically primarily focused on the act of completing jumping challenges to progress. A platformer can take place in 2D or 3D, with the only fundamental requirement for a game to quality as a platformer being a focus on jumping around platforms and not fitting into another genre for some reason.
For example, although some games contain platformer gameplay sometimes, they’re not thought of as 3D platformers. Take the case of games like Uncharted. This game certainly has platforming elements with long-winded climbing sections.
Still, most don’t consider it a platformer because the gameplay is a mixture of gun combat, stealth, and other adventure elements.
Why Is a Game Called a “Platformer?”
So you know what it is now, but where did the name come from? Simply, we call them platformers because the player is usually controlling a character that is jumping and running around platforms. Usually you interact with enemies and collectibles, all of which will distract you from the running/jumping to put you off and add difficulty to the game.
The word ‘platformer’ has also given rise to other terms, such as platforming, a verb to describe this jumping and challenge-based gameplay often found in platformer games. A review of a game may talk about “platforming elements” for example.
Other Platformer Genres
As with many mediums, we often split gaming genres up into sub-genres, which is also the case with platformers. As well as regular platformers, there are several common variants that you can read more about here:
A 3D platformer is a platformer that takes place entirely, or mostly, in 3D. These games often have much more complex jumping challenges because of having more freedom of movement and exploration elements.
This genre is a platformer with a heavy emphasis on fast-paced, action-oriented gameplay. Examples of this would be the Mega Man series or Contra games.
Puzzle-platformers are platformer games with puzzles to solve. This genre focuses on thinking things through, rather than solely relying on reaction times, such as with games like Braid.
Cinematic platformers feature more realistic characters and movement. Typically, a character in a cinematic platformer will have realistic human fragility and will have to drag themselves up onto ledges rather than jumping effortlessly like a cartoon.
The original Prince of Persia or original Oddworld games are good examples.
So Now You Know What a Platformer Is in Gaming
You should now have all the basic knowledge of exactly what a platformer is. Next time the topic comes up in conversation, you won’t have to feel lost anymore. Heck, you’ll even be an expert in recognizing the different sub-genres to boot.
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About The Author
William Worrall (42 Articles Published)
A gaming, cybersecurity, and technology writer who has been building computers and tinkering with software since he was a teenager. William has been a professional freelance writer since 2016 and has been involved with prestigious websites in the past, including TechRaptor.net and Hacked.com