Codex Gamicus

2D platform video games
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Basic Information

2D platform games, are a variation of platform video games that were a very popular genre of video games. 2D platformers originated in the early 1980s and in the mid 1990s, platformers made the transition to 3D.

At first, platformers took place on a single screen, where the player would have to overcome certain obstacles. With the advent of Super Mario Bros., the 2D platform games began to introduce scrolling levels, where the players scrolled left to right, with the playable character viewed from a side angle. The character climbs up and down ladders or jumps from platform to platform, fighting enemies, and often has the ability to gain powers or weapons. Later on, the term came to describe games where jumping on platforms, as opposed to shooting, was the main gameplay focus. These include games like Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong Country. However, many platform games feature projectile weapons, including the Mario and Castlevania franchises.

Platform games are one of the most well-known types of video game outside the gaming community, which could be the reason games based on movies, television shows, and comic books tend to be of the platform variety.


Platform games appeared at the beginning of the 1980s. Because of the technical limitations of the day, early examples were confined to a static playing field, generally viewed in profile. The earliest video games to feature jumping were sports games based on basketball. Taito's Basketball (1974) represented jumping with simple paddle controls.[1] Another early game to feature a jumping character was Taito's 1978 arcade game Trampoline, which featured a jump button, but like Bastketball above, the character was limited to jumping on the same spot.[2]

The first platformers were Space Panic (1980) and Donkey Kong (1981). The first scrolling platformers were Jump Bug (1981), Jungle King (1982) and Jungle Hunt (1982).

Namco took the scrolling platformer a step further with the 1984 release Pac-Land. Pac-Land was an evolution of earlier platform games that had more than simple hurdle jumping game like some of its predecessors. It was not only a very successful title that was later ported to many consoles,[3] it resembled later scrolling platformers like Wonder Boy and Super Mario Bros and was probably a direct influence on them. It even had multi-layered parallax scrolling,[4] an effect that would become much more common during the second generation of scrollers.

1984 continued to be a big year for scrolling platformers. Taito released Legend of Kage,[5] which offered levels that extended both horizontally and vertically. Sega released Flicky,[6] a simple platformer with horizontally scrolling levels that featured the company's first mascot character. Namco followed up Pac-Land with the fantasy-themed Dragon Buster,[7] a game notable for introducing the hub level system similar to ones used in later two-dimensional (2D) Super Mario games.[8] By the end of the year, the scrolling platform game was firmly established, but it was not until such games made their way to home consoles that the genre would be propelled to a new level of mainstream popularity.

Chronology of significant 2D platform video games[]


  1. Basketball at Museum of the Game
  2. Trampoline at Museum of the Game
  3. Pac-Land at the Gaming-History database
  4. Sean. Namco History Vol 4. Anime Densetsu. Retrieved on 2006-11-24
  5. Legend of Kage at the Gaming-History database
  6. Flicky at Museum of the Game
  7. Dragon Buster at the Gaming-History database
  8. Buster 2D platform video games at Allgame via the Wayback Machine