With the inception of many new and advanced videogames, the term ‘Platform Game’ has become somewhat ambiguous. Here are some of the subtypes of platform games:
Hop & Bop
This is the most common subtype of platform game. The main goal is to defeat enemies by jumping on their heads (hence the term “hop and bop”). These games are known for their cartoon aesthetic, where the characters and visuals are usually colourful and tacky. Examples include Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong, and Sonic the Hedgehog (1990) (Boutros 2006).
These games follow many of the fundamentals of hop and bop games. The goals of this subgenre are to accomplish levels by completing or solving puzzles that the player comes across in their game play experience. The player still hops and bops and runs and jumps from platform to platform, but they must complete puzzles in order to move on to the next level. Examples of puzzle platform games include the Wario Land (1998 – 2001) series and Mario vs. Donkey Kong (2004) (Densetsu 1999). Recently, there has been a revival of the puzzle platform game. They can be found in Braid (2008) and Portal (2007).
Run & Gun
Run and gun platform games, or ‘platform shooters’, follow the same principles as puzzle and hop and bop, yet there is more of an emphasis on shooting enemies or targets rather than jumping from platform to platform. Run and gun platformers are a cross between hop and bop and shooter video games and are known to be difficult to finish. Examples include Mega Man (1987) and Earthworm Jim (1994) (Greenslade 2006). This genre has tended to become slightly popular on online free flash-based game sites, such as Addicting Games and Miniclips.
Cinematic platform games are a blend between hop and bop, puzzle, and run and gun platformers. These games are different due to the characters smooth, life-like movements. The player must solve puzzles, jump from platform to platform, and defeat enemies while they play the game. Jumping and other characteristics of the characters are similar to real-life, where the player can hang from ledges and side-step. Most cinematic platformers focus on this idea of trial and error, where the player learns from his or her mistakes (NationMaster Encyclopedia 2003). Prince of Persia (1989 & 2008) is best known for fitting this genre, where the player must learn their surrounding world and accomplish various tasks and defeat enemies to progress through the game.
Comical Action platform games are differentiated by levels that are only one-screen, and offer no scrolling or exploring for the player, making space very limited. Comical action platformers utilize two player features, where two people can work cooperatively to complete levels. Levels are generally completed when all enemies or targets have been defeated. Bonus objects are typically found in this genre, where fruit or coins will fall from above when a level is completed (NationMaster Encyclopedia 2003). These games are predominately seen in Japan where they originated. Examples include Snow Bros. (1990) and Zupapa (1994) (Arcadeflyers.com 2001).
Isometric platform games involve levels or game play which utilize two-dimensional graphics, yet depict a three-dimensional environment. This genre is characterized by navigating through indoor arenas of game play, and includes puzzles that the player must complete in order to move forward. Isometric platformers heavily focus on adventure storyline plots and are known to influence popular adventure games such as The Legend of Zelda (1986) and Little Big Adventure (1994). Isometric platform games include Congo Bongo (1983) and Mystic Towers (1994) (Forman).