The Evolution of Platform Games

Video games have come a long way since ‘PONG’, Atari’s 1970s dot and two sticks.

Atari’s ‘PONG’: one of the world's first arcade video game
Though single-screen-movement games grew steadily in popularity through the seventies, the world’s first true platform game wasn’t developed until 1981. Nintendo’s Donkey Kong sparked a revolution in gaming technology, prompting a number of scrolling-movement platform games like Jump Bug and Pac-Land.
And then Super Mario Bros was released for the NES back in 1985 and no one looked back. Ever. This pioneer of the platform industry remains one of the best-selling games of all time after Nintendo shifted over 40 million copies, establishing themselves firmly on the gaming map and setting a whole new precedent for platform releases. The leap in standards is clear to see; Sega responded with Sonic the Hedgehog in 1991, whilst Sony’s PlayStation saw great success later on with both Rayman (1995) and Crash Bandicoot (1996).
After an early attempt at 3D with World Runner in 1987, the mid-90s saw Nintendo create the first true 3D platform game in the form of Super Mario ’64, winning platform games a 15% share of the gaming market.

Pioneering the In-Flight Market  
A recent collaboration between games specialist GUE Tech, and in-flight entertainment provider IFE Services has brought in-flight gaming up to speed by introducing a number of high-quality games to the airlines. This includes titles developed for Playstation, Xbox360, Wii, iOS and Android - many of which are of the platform variety.
So, which platform classics are bringing in-flight entertainment into the gaming world?

  1. Qwak (1989)
A true old-skooler, Qwak was released in 1989 for BBC Macro and Acorn Electron. Armed with orange eggs, the premise of the game is to guide your green duck through 80 levels of puzzle games by collecting gold and silver keys whilst stocking up on fruit and gems for extra points.

  1. Satan (1990)
Released in 1990, Satan is a classic battle between good vs. evil, with your protagonist turning to wizardry to defeat a dark overlord. The aim of the game is to locate three magic scrolls, before journeying on to rescue other wizards by defeating a series of deadly foes.
Throughout the game, you must collect magical powers, swords, and lightning bolts to defeat enemies (mutant demons) on the way and prevent them draining your power. Vanquished foes release coins, which can be spent on rechargers, shields and tele-porters along the way.

  1. Soccer Kid (1993)
Developed originally for the SNES, Soccer Kid sends players on a 2D adventure to collect all five missing pieces of the World Cup trophy, stolen (naturally) by an evil alien pirate. Not forgetting your football, your protagonist’s weapon of choice, Soccer Kid must retrieve the pieces from all over the world, making sure to collect pizza and ice creams along the way for optimum points.

  1. Alien Carnage (Halloween Harry) (1993)
Hallowe’en Harry is on a mission to save the world from aliens, who plot to take over Earth by turning humans into green-skinned zombies. Harry needs to rescue hostages scattered in each level, picking up coins to buy ammo for his flamethrower and jetpack, and feasting on junk food to power up.

  1. Earthworm Jim (1994) 
Originally designed for the Sega Mega Drive in 1994, Earthworm Jim soared to success and even had a sequel made in 2010 for PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade: Earthworm Jim HD. Another 2D sidescroller, players must successfully navigate our unlikely earthworm hero and his human ‘super suit’ through many a battle in a bid to free the unfortunate Princess What’s-Her-Name, whose life is swiftly extinguished upon rescue.

Though platform games’ share of the market dropped from 15% to 2% between 1996 and 2006, there’s no doubt that these classics still have an important place in the hearts of many a gamer. With airlines introducing these well-loved oldies to their in-flight offering, perhaps the gaming world’s love affair with the classic 2D side-scroller will be reignited.
What do you think? Which platform classics would you like to see on-board your next flight?

Author Bio:
This article was contributed by Laura Moulden on behalf of IFE Services, a leading in-flight entertainment provider.

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