Elemental Challenge – Day Two: 2D Platformers

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Welcome back, NPCs, for Day Two of our month-long self-imposed Challenge! Yesterday we stepped into our transportive chronometer and went back in time to the arcades. Today, we haven’t gotten much further forward in history as we’ll be addressing 2D platformers and talking up our favorites in that category.  We are assuredly plowing forward through time but 2D plats are evidently a big part of our childhoods and a big part of the past. Though we’ll still see new ones now and then hit the market, today’s list is like the 90’s with Sonic versus Mario all over again.

 

FF3-NES-Summoner2.png  The Green Screen Mage

Sonic the Hedgehog is by far one of my favorite 2D Platformer games. Granted, I never beat the game, but I was pretty young and I spent hours running and jumping through levels. Eggman was just so hard!

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blackmage  The Black Humor Mage

Yoshi’s Island has to be my favorite 2D platformer. It’s an upgrade to the Super Mario World formula (another favorite 2D platformer), and it’s so much fun throwing the eggs at enemies. I love all the different Yoshi colors too. I had this game for the Gameboy Advance, and I played it so much that I wanted it on the Wii Virtual Console. I could not do that because the original version on the SNES has some sort of copyright. Sure the Wii U has it on Virtual Console now, but the music and visuals are much better on the SNES version. So, now I cannot wait for the SNES mini which includes the original version.

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FF3-NES-Magus2.png The Red Hot Chili Mage (Stuff and That Reviews)

Rayman Origins: I’ve always been a lover of 2D platformers, as I was infatuated with the early Sonic games for years and have always stated that this is my favourite genre. Rayman Origins, for me, is the crown jewel of them all, and is actually my favourite game of all time, undoubtedly. It’s a masterpiece of madness, with quirky stage designs, characters and soundtrack all in-your-face and expertly crafted by the developers, to bring a challenging, ridiculously fun and perfectly controlling platformer. It can be enjoyed equally single player or with friends, as while playing alone you can explore all the quirks of the game and develop your skill individually, whereas with friends, the fun factor along with the challenge are ramped up to oblivion.

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mystic_knight1 The Midnight Mystic Mage (Sublime Reviews)

Super Mario World. I almost thought about choosing a different title, but the amount of fun and time put into this game during my childhood is just completely unrivaled by any other 2D Platformer. I believe the Mario games to have set the standard for platformers and this game is a shining example of what all can be done right with the genre. You got the cape, you got Yoshi, the graphics were a huge jump forward at the time and still are very beautiful to this day. (Honorable Mentions – Trine, Super Meat Boy, Sonic the Hedgehog)

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spoonybardmageright.jpg The Spoony Bard Mage (Nerd Speaker)

To me, nothing beats Super Mario Bros. 3. The creativity, the skill, the gorgeous world… Nintendo achieved perfection in 1989.

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FF3-NES-Geomancer1 The Five More Minutes Mage (Gamegato)

My favorite 2D is a game called Phoenotopia. You’ve probably never heard of it, but it’s a really neat online action platforming adventure game I really enjoy.

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finalfourteenthmage.png The Final Fourteenth Mage (Cilla vs. Games)

One of my favourite childhood activities was going to my Grandmother’s house as she had a vast array of games during the DOS era. Jazz Jack Rabbit was a particular favourite of mine and one of the first games that I ever beat. I thoroughly enjoyed making my way through each planet with my bird side kick as I tried to find the princess. This time she wasn’t in another castle but another planet entirely! I’m really fond of bonus levels in games that are vastly different to the main games gameplay. If done right not only does it feel like a reward but also a breath of fresh air. Jazz Jack Rabbit’s bonus level had you running on a speedway at impossible speeds in an attempt to collect a certain amount of blue diamonds in the allotted time period. Successful completion resulted in an extra life which back in that day was something incredibly important. In the end the evil turtle was no match for the gun wielding hare and after making my way through the game we had the ultimate showdown.

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HandheldMage1 The Hopeful Handheld Mage (Retro Redress)

Sonic the Hedgehog (Master System). There’s probably some confusion as to why I haven’t answered with ‘Super Mario Bros. 3’. Basically I’m a Sega kid who started with the Master System and its version of Sonic is what I was addicted to. One day I’ll play SMB3 properly, but until then Sonic’s 8-bit adventure will be my 2D platformer of choice. Sega cleverly dialed back the speed of the Mega Drive original and replaced it with more platforming, to great effect.

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 The Rage Mage

Ms. Splosion Man. I’m so confused. What by? By trying to figure out which is better: the vocals that sound like Mickey Mouse strapped to Revolver Ocelot’s torture table on extreme mode, or the game’s purely academic use of the word “badonkadonk” in song.

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rmage2.jpg The Well-Red Mage

How is this one even harder than yesterday?! We’re only on Day Two and picking a favorite in such a category is nigh impossible! During my formative years, platformers may have been the dominating genre for home consoles. There are so many excellent titles to name but for me it comes down to a handful… Mega Man X, Earthworm Jim, Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, Yoshi’s Island, Symphony of the Night, Shovel Knight, DuckTales: Remastered, Super Metroid, Mega Man II… okay, so maybe it comes down to an overflowing handful. Even with all those incredible games, I’m just going to cheat and go with Mega Man Legacy Collection: six classic Mega Man titles perfectly emulated on modern systems. It just narrowly beat out MMX Earthworm Jim, which is a phenomenal and unique platformer, but Mega Man has been my boy since I was a wee mage. Legacy recalls some of the most iconic platforming and 8-bit music of all time, and this is one of my favorite images ever.

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Well, that’s it for Day Two. What genre are we looking at tomorrow? That’s for me to know and you to come back and find out, but I can tell you this: it represents another step forward in the history of gaming. Thanks for reading!
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48 thoughts on “Elemental Challenge – Day Two: 2D Platformers

  1. You and your evil questions! *shakes fist* the Spoony Bard Mage picked what I think may be the greatest platformer of all time SMB3, but World is a damn fine follow up.

    I have to go with my very first video game obsession SMB2. I know it takes a lot of heat, nor do I think it’s the best platformer, but I love that quirky, little game. I even made up words to the BGM about just the same thing 😆

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree that it is difficult to select one game, but I suggest Sonic 3 and Knuckles. This game maintains the high speed gameplay of the Sonic series (which includes a short snowboarding sequence), along with good quality graphics, detailed, layered backgrounds, an unique Special Stage and smooth music. Each level was also unique and the bosses were different and enjoyable. This game also used some ideas that differentiated it to other Sonic games, such as an alternative story for the Knuckles character, different background designs for each level act, an added level after collecting all the Chaos Emeralds and each playable character can become “Super” and have unique powers. I also find some parts of the game are still very memorable to me, such as seeing the Death Egg in the top of the Lava Reef Zone, Sonic leaping from the collapsing Sky Sanctuary onto the Death Egg (which was slowly rising into the sky) and the planet in the background of the Death Egg Zone. Most importantly, Tails was actually useful.
    What specific Mega Man game would you choose? What is unique about the Earthworm Jim game?

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Tails as actually useful.” Sounds like I need to play Sonic 3! I would probably go with Mega Man II or IV, since those are my favorites in the classic series. Earthworm Jim is about an invertebrate in a supersuit flying around the galaxy shooting a plasma gun at crows, termites, mucus, and a professor who has a monkey for a head. So in other words… everything is unique about Earthworm Jim. We also reviewed that one, so definitely check it out.

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  3. I love your cheat and going with Mega Man Anniversary Collection – good call!

    To somewhat piggyback, I need to go with Mega Man 2. The NES’ “Abbey Road”, there isn’t a flaw to be found… gameplay, soundtrack, overall experience is just immaculate. It has aged so well. Even Mega Man 3, which I think is in the conversation for best games ever as well, and (arguably, technically speaking) superior to 2, just lacks that certain something that makes the second entry the pinnacle gaming experience it is. Great question to pose!

    (Speaking of Mega Man, is shameless self promotion welcome in thee comments? I’m currently ranking all the Robot Masters on my blog here!: https://returnto8bit.com/2017/06/30/ranking-the-classic-mega-man-bosses-part-1-46-30/)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh Kermit, Mega Man 2 is so great. It’s “magic” that you’re thinking of. That sense of magic. Thanks for sharing your link! I’m not adverse to other talents sharing their work here since I often think of TWRM as a place where our WP community can come to interact with each other, especially during events like this Elemental Challenge. It’s fine… so long as Storm Eagle gets the love he deserves. And I’m not sure of which one you’re thinking but I can make the case that the Legacy Collection is head and shoulders above the Anniversary Collection, if you life. 😀

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      • Whoops! Yes you are definitely right – the Legacy Collection was the iteration that really did the series justice. Anniversary Collection was a bit of a mess, but got the job done until Capcom finally wised up and gave the classic run the send-up it deserved. I fully agree, that graphic that accompanied it is mighty cool!

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        • I remember how excited I was for Anniversary but after I got it, it was kind of just… bleh? Then years later I got Legacy and I was blown away by it. It’s up there as one of my favorite retro collections next to Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection and Disney Afternoon! And man that graphic.. I want it as a poster.

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  4. If we’re talking 2D platformers, I’d say my favorite one is Donkey Kong Country 2. A lot of thought went into crafting unique levels to the point where some gimmicks only show up for a single one. It almost seemed to predict the common design process that went into many 3D platformers.

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  5. It was fun reading about everyone’s favorite in this genre and what they liked about them!
    I must say, I’ve never been a platformer. I find these games stressful and often avoid them. When I was a kid, I played a few of them that I enjoyed, and I think that of these, the second Sonic game was my favorite.

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  6. The Great Giana Sisters. What at a quick glance seems like a simple Super Mario Bros. clone is actually an excellent Super Mario Bros. clone, that takes many of its own liberties with the formula. It has a great cast of characters, as the sisters enter the Dream World, to free A giant, magical gem from the clutches of the dragon (who in later installments would be called the Gurglewocky) as it’s the only way for Giana, and Maria to get back from the Dream World. It shares some similarity with SMB. You still bash blocks for items, and money. You jump on enemies to kill them, or if you find the lightning bolt, shoot them with dream bubbles.

    But GGS does more than just borrow a base game play concept. Jumping feels much different, as it’s brilliantly set for the use of a traditional joystick. After getting any given power up, a hit doesn’t revert you, it kills you. There are many more power ups too. Upgrades for your shots. A time stopper to stop the clock temporarily. A smart bomb. A water drop that lets you run through fire. The whimsical, and urgent soundtrack from the legendary Chris Huelsbeck also makes things even more special. With so many other titles over the years that tried to out Mario Mario, Armin Gessert’s game would come the closest. In fact, the legend of Nintendo of Europe noticing it, and threatening a lawsuit leading to it being pulled from shelves only bolstered the popularity. At least in Europe. Here in the US most of us discovered it by way of a ROM hack that made its way into public domain software catalogs. As such Stateside owners of the Commodore 64 thought we were playing a homebrew, as the character sprites were changed, and the wonderful intro removed.

    Be that as it may, GGS showed the world that platformers could be a success on home computers. It’s consistently in top C64 game lists, and did see ports to the Amiga, Atari ST, and some European computer platforms before it’s abrupt disappearance. These days, if you have an original copy of the game, guard it with your life. It’s very expensive going anywhere from a few hundred dollars to well over a grand many of the few times it shows up on ebay. The original German release usually going for more than the UK release as it has the original artwork on the box, which is amazing.

    Interestingly, in 2009 long after Rainbow Arts (publisher) had been gone, and Time Warp was a distant memory, Armin Gessert was one of the big guys at Spellbound. Spellbound had buried the hatchet with Nintendo, and Giana Sisters DS was made. It is a continuation, of the original C64 game. Sadly shortly after it came out he passed away. Spellbound closed, but many of the staff re-emerged in the creation of Black Forest Games. In 2012 after a successful Kickstarter, they released Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams, which completely pulls itself away from the SMB tropes, and brings the characters into an even deeper experience with an excellent Light/Dark world mechanic required to solve puzzles, and defeat certain enemies. I almost call this one my favorite, but with the uptick in visual fidelity it’s more a 2.5D platformer.

    So yeah The Great Giana Sisters for the Commodore 64. An important moment in video game history on one of the most important platforms in video game history.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alright! So at last you’ve named something that I’ve actually heard about. Haha! 😉

      Now admittedly I’ve never made it around to actualy playing it, but after your apologetic it’s yet another Deviot recommendation that I’m going to need to hunt down. The problem/joy is hunting down a C64 for it. Or maybe I should just drop a grand on it…

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      • Well the folks at Lemon64 did get permission to post the game. If you’re not opposed to emulation. http://www.lemon64.com/giana Though I recommend anybody get a Commodore 64. Even if you don’t invest in the Disk Drive, or a Cassette Drive, some early games came on cartridge. I wrote a buying tips article a while ago. Plus there’s the SD2EIC which will let you run disk images from an SD Card. Lots of awesome stuff still being made for the thing. But I don’t want to hijack the comments section so I’ll leave it there.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Nonsense! Hijack away and always feel free to promote your work here. I consider TWRM to be a hub of sorts for all kind of talents. I’d like to check out your buying guide, too. I’m getting a hold of a Saturn and a Vectrex in the next month or so, and then after that I can resume the lookout for a C64.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Hrrrm…

    I grew up with a SNES, so believe me picking a -platformer- was pretty hard! One little gem that I’m very fond of, though, is Run Saber, a 2-player action platformer with a fair difficulty curve and a good soundtrack. The game’s setting is… admittedly cheesy (you play as one of two elementally-aligned cyborgs trying to free the Earth from an evil scientist and his newly mutated legions), but, I got to enjoy it with my brother regardless. It took us a number of tries to complete it back then, so I came back to it about… early 2016, and eventually picked up on speedrunning it. Eventually I hope to beat most of the runs currently on YouTube, and still practice it in between loading screens on whatever else I’m playing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, the masked mystery mage is back! And wow… that moment when somebody names a Super Nintendo game that I don’t know about. I love and grew up on the SNES and it’s my favorite console, so this is a revelation. I’ll have to look it up to play.

      …And you’re a speedrunner!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Tough one! I’m going to have to go with Donkey Kong Country. Loved the music, the stunning environments, and the animations were spectacular. Honorable mentions to Super Mario World and Yoshi’s Island.

    Liked by 2 people

    • A three of those are amazing games. I don’t like Donkey Kong, the character, but I really like the Donkey Kong Country games, especially the second one, which I think someone else in the comments nominated as a fav! Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. So going by your rules, you can’t use Mega Man I-VI now right? 🙂

    For me, this would be a very hard choice if one game didn’t exist. But Super Mario Bros.3 does exist and as such, this one is very easy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am a mage of my word and rules certainly are not meant to be broken! Knowing all the categories in advance also helped me in getting stuck without a classic Mega Man game to bail me out. 😛 hehehe! SMB3 is one of the very few games I can think of that is actually perfect. It’s the only game I’ve ever reviewed that got a perfect 10. It’s the best example of a platformer and an icon. But I just love me some Mega Man 😀 otherwise it’d be on my top spot.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Kinda want to look up Ms. Splosion Man, kinda afraid of what I’ll find.
    The no repeats thing might get me before long, because my favorite 2D platformer is definitely Mega Man X. So many fond memories of that game! I do enjoy many of the Mario games mentioned here but all the time I played them put together probably still wouldn’t touch Mega Man X.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The no repeats thing makes this challenge a challenge! 😉 I hope it doesn’t paint me into a corner toward the end of this event. Mega Man X almost scored my top spot. My word, I love that game so much. That’s a game I too have played so much that it feels like going home whenever I turn it back on.

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    • That’s (thus far) the only game on this blog that achieved a score of a perfect 10. In my opinion, SMB3 is actually and describably and objectively perfect. Physics in an NES game? Check. Inventive level design? Check. A wide inventory of items in a platformer? Check. Tons of secrets? Check. Iconic beyond all get-out? Psh. Check.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It is just so magical. It might be because it was such a leap from Super Mario Bros. 1 and 2, but I just absolutely adore this game. Maybe by the time Super Mario World and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island came out I was already jaded :p also, huge agreement with all the DKC 2 and Mega Man mentions.

        Liked by 2 people

        • SMB3 is an example of how well some retro games hold up in our modern era against modern games. I mean, it’s got a better sense of physics and timing than some games I’ve played that came out decades later.

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