My love affair with the 2D platformer


I’m not a gamer by any means, but one thing that dawned on me this morning is the love affair I’ve had with 2D platformers.

What is it about them?

They’re so simple in their controls, but provide an unparalleled amount of exhiliration, frustration and reward. The precarious wait, counting in your head, analysing the moving parts, looking for the obstacles, and then, JUMP! It’s magical.

I’ve been racking my brain, trying to think of the first 2D platformer I played, and I just can’t, but one that I had fond memories of, and came preloaded with the first computer we owned—a mighty 286—is Joe & Mac.


I played this game to death, and thought it was pretty much the greatest thing ever.

Alex Kidd, Wonder Boy, Sonic, Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong Country, Lode Runner, Earthworm Jim, Abe’s Odyssey. A 286, a Master System, a NES, a Gameboy, a Pentium 75, a Playstation.

Ah, nostalgia, you wonderful thing.

There were no doubt countless others I played. But then it stopped. For a good decade I don’t think I touched a platformer. Then I discovered Braid recently.

Braid made me fall in love with the genre again. It might have a few more bells and whistles than your standard platformer, but it is pure genius, and a visual delight.

Braid gave me the kick I needed, and I went back to playing the original Donkey Kong, just, in a browser window this time :/

I started scouring the net for platformers, and stumbled across Super Meat Boy. *sigh*

I really tried to play Super Meat Boy. It was way too unforgiving a game though, or maybe I just lost the patience and skill. I last played it January this year, but dammit if this speed run below doesn’t make you sit back and smile in admiration!

You’d think after my failed Super Meat Boy experiment, I’d settle for something simpler. Nope. Recently, I’ve been playing VVVVVV.

VVVVVV has a nice, sadistic statistic telling you how many times you’ve died while playing the game. My last count, 3 hours or so into the game, was ~800.

Talk about depressing.

Yet I persist with this darn game! It offers just enough hope, and though you may die a good 30 times in a couple of minutes, you can come back to it the next day and get past it. Well, that’s how it’s been up until now anyway… I really do hope I can finish VVVVVV at least, and maybe that’ll give me the confidence to play Super Meat Boy again.

And what inspired the writing of this post? The newest addition to my platformer bookshelf – LIMBO. Thanks for describing it so wonderfully and getting me to buy it, Harry Mann!

Doesn’t it look amazing?! Can’t wait to play it.


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