Leaps of Faith: Four Platformers That Influenced My Gaming Career

I love platformers. If asked what my favorite genre was, sandbox and action-adventure would be high on the list, but they would hide under the shadow of the platformer. From my humble gaming beginnings at the age of 4, I can remember playing platformers almost exclusively. While I’ve branched over the years, there’s still something about jumping around in a virtual world that keeps me coming back. So much is my love for the platformer, that I believe it to have changed how I think about games. Here are a few platformers, which, not only are influential to me, but I believe still hold up fantastically over time.

Super Meat Boy

This is the face of death.

In terms of affect on my gaming career, Super Meat Boy is the least influential. I figured I could work my way backwards through time through these games. Regardless, this game is awesome. After almost 20 years of playing games, I met a meaty, brick wall of almost insurmountable challenge. I always considered myself really good at platformers and games until Super Meat Boy came around to kick my butt. Of course, it started off by pretending to be my friend, but soon enough, it had its way with me and my sanity. This is when I learned that I was a masochist. It’s great.

There is in no way this kind of thing should be fun, but it I can’t get enough of it.

Super Meat Boy presented to me the ultimate platforming challenge. With tight controls and brilliantly difficult level design, I was in heaven. If I died, it was due to my folly. Never before had I walked the razor’s edge in such a manner as I had in this game. However, as frustrating and utterly exhausting the game was, I never tired of it. In fact, the reward of finally beating a level is unlike any other feeling I’ve had from a game. Also, this game is perfect for expanding one’s vocabulary in the cursing category. Thanks to all the bombs of the ‘F’ variety, I would have friends gather around to watch, laugh, and cheer with me as I played the game. It made me feel like a king in my own living room. Since I’ve played this game, I’ve had an itch for hard games that is oh so difficult to scratch.


Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest

Only the 90’s could birth such wonderful icons.

I’m a collectionist when it comes to games. I can safely say that began with DKC2. The first Donkey Kong Country was a terrific experience for me. It was loads of fun, especially when playing as Diddy. To me, Diddy was super cool and the best of the simian duo. When the sequel arrived, I was blown away. Not only were the controls and abilities expanded on, but they added two very important factors- Bonus and DK coins. It’s the addition of these two collectibles that started an addiction to mastery of games that I have not let go of since. While DKC did have bonus levels and a completion percentage, the coins made the completion more tangible. Once I had a more obvious visual representation, I was hooked. The icing on the cake was the reward for the collection in the form of more levels and a hidden ending. My gaming experience was never the same again.

Just look at all those juicy extra levels. Well, except Animal Antics. That one is extra juicy.

However, there’s more to this game than just collecting things. Every stage is an amazingly crafted piece of art. There is no banana in excess or any set up to kill you. The levels guide you flawlessly and, in their perfect design, encourage you to go off the beaten path for greater rewards. Many times a banana, a hook, or a rope will be just slightly off-screen to catch your eye. Soon enough, the game becomes a scavenger hunt, but never is it an obligation. Unlike later Rare titles, finding the extras is rewarding and not a chore. Combine that with some really great ‘gimmick’ levels, new animal buddies, and a glorious soundtrack, DKC2 perfects a formula that I have yet to see replicated.

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  1. Super Mario World is the greatest game ever made. That’s not just an opinion, that’s a fact so don’t even try arguing. It had everything from cool power ups to secret worlds out the wazoo! The more recent Mario platformer entries have been good, but they just don’t compare to SMW and the replayability.
    Also, Yoshi’s Island (which just so happens to be Super Mario World 2) ranks right up at the top too. You want to try to collect things? Try getting 5 flowers, 20 red coins, and 30 star in every level.

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