Types of Platformer Games: A Comprehensive Guide

If when you were a child you have ever stolen your parents’ Nokia to play Bounce or Prince of Persia, we want to congrats you.

You may ask: ‘Why?‘. And we’ll answer you: because you were part of the huge gaming world culture even before it turned out to be something so developed and progressive.

Both of these games belong to the platformer genre. They are characterized by their focus on precise movement and some outstanding mechanics, such as jumping. One of the unique features of platform video games involves navigating through a series of platforms and obstacles. The main objective for the gamer is to move the character between points in an environment and control their movements. The completed level depends on dealing with various goals while avoiding hazards and enemies.

Types of platformer games, different level designs, platform video game

But what is cool about platformers is that they are still extremely popular even after 43 years since the release of the first project in this genre. But there is nothing strange in the huge success of platformer video games. Due to their nostalgic appeal and engaging gameplay, many people still enjoy these games a lot, share them with the young generation, and develop the world of platformers. And of course, there are so many types of platformer games that everyone can find something special for themselves.

Today, we’re going to tell you about the most famous platformer games, their dazzling mechanics, and the stories that made these games so fascinating and popular. Let’s dive into this engaging tale together!

Classic Platformer Games

If these classic platformer video games never existed, we would have never had an innovative modern gaming world and different genres of amazing games. These two guys influenced the design of many contemporary platformers and changed the world forever.

Mario platform video game, 2D art style scene from a classic platformer video game featuring floating platforms and abstract characters

Super Mario Series

As everyone knows, Nintendo is one of the most professional game-developing companies that have ever existed. So there is no surprise that The Super Mario series was created by them. The adventuring story about two brothers, Mario and Luigi, won the hearts of millions of gamers of all generations. Everything is perfect in this game: creative bright design, memorable charismatic characters, and a wide range of power-ups that enhance gameplay. Because of this, we can truly say: the impact of Super Mario games on modern platformers is impossible to overestimate.

Stylized, simplified game level design with clean lines and flat colors, sonic the Hedgehog is 30 years old today

Sonic the Hedgehog Series

Not doing any less, the Sonic the Hedgehog series is an extremely popular video game franchise created a long time ago by Sega. The story is about a speedy blue hedgehog who has the power to run at supersonic speeds. It’s easy to understand but the gameplay focuses on the pacing and side-scrolling, emphasizing speed, momentum, and collecting rings. Even if nowadays it’s a 3D platformer game, the original Sonic franchise created a huge fan base, making it one of the enduring icons of modern video gaming.

Modern Platformer Games

Inspired by classic platformers, these modern games showcase the genre’s ongoing diversity and innovation in all its glory. Depending on the gamers’ preferences, new game companies offer a wide range of experiences, but jumping, exploration, and creative level design remain the highlight of all types of platformer games.

Hollow Knight

Indie game developers can create amazing projects, and Hollow Knight is a great example of that. This Metroidvania-style platformer game was released in 2017 and tells a story that takes place in the mysterious and beautifully hand-drawn underground world of Hallownest. Nowadays, the game is known for its sometimes challenging gameplay with evocative art style, and deep interesting storytelling.

Digital art piece with a minimalist aesthetic, elements of 'Hollow Knight', Tim Burton-like character in Hollow Knight

Our game art image is a piece of work that very much captures the essence of the “Hollow Knight” game’s aesthetic. It features a stylized environment with a central character that strongly resembles the iconic protagonist of “Hollow Knight” platformer game. The art is characterized by monochromatic tones with subtle gradients, creating a moody and atmospheric setting that is evocative of the game’s underground world.

Our game art piece could be described as “Hollow Knight concept art” due to its artistic representation of the platformer game’s environment and character. The intricate details and shading techniques are reminiscent of “Hollow Knight drawings,” with the background art showcasing the game’s distinctive environmental design. The character’s pose and the silhouette are instantly recognizable to fans, indicative of “Hollow Knight character art.”

As “Hollow Knight fan art,” it pays homage to the original art style of the game, employing similar themes and motifs. The environment depicted is beautifully rendered, with towering structures and dripping stalactites that contribute to the cavernous ambiance, fitting for “Hollow Knight background art.”

Overall, our image is a testament to the unique visual style of “Hollow Knight,” from the character’s design to the surrounding landscape, capturing the cool, quiet, and introspective atmosphere that the game is known for.

Celeste

In our list, this is another outstanding indie platformer game. It is about a young woman named Madeline as she embarks on a journey to climb the titular mountain, Celeste. Storytelling here is on the next level: emotional and meaningful, it feels even more special for gamers because of the pretty pixel art style. Difficult levels filled with hazards are an additional demonstration of the designers’ prominent job.

Our image is a beautiful example of pixel art reminiscent of the visual style seen in the game “Celeste.” It features a serene, sky-high environment with floating platforms and a towering monolith, capturing the essence of the challenging and atmospheric levels that players navigate in the game.

Celeste game level, great platformer, 2D snow pixel art, 2023 2D Platformers

Our scene could be identified as “Celeste game art” due to its distinctive art style, employing a limited pixel palette to create a sense of vastness and tranquility. The small character standing on one of the platforms is our nod to Celeste game characters, representing the game’s protagonist, Madeline, on her journey up the mountain.

As “Celeste art style” illustration, it displays the game’s signature blend of simple yet evocative pixel art that conveys emotion and narrative without the need for detailed graphics. The careful use of shading and color gradients in the sky and clouds gives depth to the scene, which is a hallmark of the game’s art direction.

Our Celeste game fanart showcasing the admiration and inspiration drawn from the original game’s artwork. It is a tribute that captures the challenging yet reflective experience of “Celeste” through the medium of pixel art.

Ori and the Blind Forest

This story about Ori, the guardian spirit, is a visually stunning platformer video game released in 2015. Ori and the Blind Forest is known for the huge magic world created in breathtaking art style with a beautiful story about friendship and sacrifice. The gameplay is filled with enigmatic puzzles, acrobatic maneuvers, and dangerous adversaries. These fascinating details make the game a standout title in the platformer genre.

Metroid-inspired platformer, ethereal forest level design, Ori and Blind Forest

Our image evokes the enchanting art style of Ori and the Blind Forest, with its lush forest setting bathed in soft, ambient light that filters through the tall, slender trees. Our concept art for the game, which showcases the serene beauty and mystical atmosphere that the game is known for.

The artwork captures a tranquil moment in the forest, characterized by the game’s signature palette of blues and greens, creating a peaceful and otherworldly glow. The game background is rich with flora, and the mysterious, glowing crystals add a magical element to the scene, much like the environments explored in Ori and the Blind Forest.

As Ori game art, this image encapsulates the visual storytelling and environment design that is central to the game’s experience. The use of light and shadow, along with the detailed layers of the forest, give depth to the scene. Our Ori and the Blind Forest concept art not only reflects the artistic vision of our designers, but also celebrates the captivating visuals for which the game is known.

Cuphead

One of the most intriguing releases among platformer games is Cuphead. It is an indie run-and-gun video game but the art style is on the next level. Distinctive 1930s cartoon art style instantly allows the gamer to dive into the beauty of classic animation and boss battles. The gameplay is fast-paced and demanding. It focused on pattern recognition and precise timing. Due to the memorable mechanics, this game is one of the best in the genre of modern platformers with classic graphics.

Types of Platformer Games

There are many types of platformer games: roguelike platformers, endless runners, combat platformers, etc. But the most popular and versatile stays 2D and 3D platformers because they can perfectly showcase the huge potential and opportunities of this genre.

Stylized, flat platforms, concept of 2D platformer games, Jump Through Platform

2D Platformers

2D platformers are loved by people all around the world because of their classical visual style and distinctive gameplay. In these games, the action takes place on a two-dimensional plane, typically with a side-scrolling perspective. Nowadays, the most convenient way to showcase the potential of classic visual graphics and gaming mechanics is 2D game art outsourcing

Talking about the gameplay, usually, players control a character who moves from left to right across the screen, navigating various obstacles, jumping between platforms, and defeating enemies. There are some popular subgenres of 2D platformers: traditional side-scrolling, Metroidvania, and puzzle platformers.

  • Traditional Side-Scrolling

This is the perfect example of a classic video game genre where players move from left to right, jump between platforms, avoid obstacles, and fight enemies. Games like the original Super Mario series fall into this category.

  • Metroidvania

Metroidvania platformers combine exploration and platforming. Gamers often have to backtrack and use new abilities to access previously unreachable areas. A small interesting fact: the name is derived from the Metroid and Castlevania series, which popularized this genre a lot.

  • Puzzle Platformers

Puzzle platformers focus on problem-solving elements alongside platforming challenges. Players must use logic and timing to progress through levels. Games like Limbo and Inside are the successful examples of this subgenre.

3D render, array of platforms at varying heights, Screenshot Platform Game Design

3D Platformers

Unlike 2D platform video games, which occur on a flat, 3D platformers provide players with a fully immersive 3D environment to explore. 3D art outsourcing doesn’t play the last role in the success of these games: professional designers create open-world environments where gamers can freely interact with various objects, and characters, and enjoy the atmosphere of the game. 

This type of platformer game allows players to use a huge variety of gameplay elements, such as exploration, puzzle-solving, combat, and collection. Iconic examples of 3D platformers such as Super Mario 64 or Spyro the Dragon are the additional approval of the importance of such games. 

  • Open-World 3D Platformers

Have you ever played games with an interconnected world? It is a memorable experience! The game world in such platformers is filled with side quests, hidden secrets, and diverse environments. Good platform game examples are Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

  • Collectathon Platformers

The primary goal in collectathon platformers is to gather a wide variety of items or collectibles scattered throughout the game world. These games are engaging and interesting because players can find and collect so many strange objects and things, like in Banjo-Kazooie and Yooka-Laylee games.

  • Action-Adventure Platformers

Action platformers combine platforming with elements of action and adventure. Soaking up the adventurous spirit, players engage in combat and puzzle-solving quests in addition to navigating through bright 3D environments. The most perfect examples of such games are Ratchet & Clank and Sly Cooper.

Cartoon Stylized 3D Zombie characters, post-apocalyptic setting

Platformer Game Characters Types

Every game has its special characters with unique thoughts, ideas, and goals. Some of them are kind and honest, and some of them are bad and violent, but everyone has their charm and charisma, especially in various types of platformer games.

Protagonists

Protagonists usually are the central characters who are controlled by players in platformer games. We can imagine them as heroes whose actions drive the game’s plot and main goals. Mario in the Super Mario series is a typical example of the protagonist in the platform genre.

Antagonists

Antagonists are the primary adversaries that protagonists should fight with and overcome. They are responsible for insurmountable challenges, obstacles, and conflicts for the player to resolve. For example, Dr. Robotnik serves as the primary antagonist in the Sonic the Hedgehog series and keeps the Sonic from achieving his objectives.

Sidekicks and Allies

Everyone needs some support, and protagonists aren’t exceptions. Sidekicks and allies are supportive characters who assist the protagonists on their journey. They often provide guidance, special unique abilities, or just pleasant companionship that all of us need from time to time too :) A good example of an ally is Daxter in the Jak and Daxter series. Every time this character appeared on the screen, he the whole atmosphere and made the game engaging and unforgettable. 

Comic book stylized artwork, dynamic environment, 2D Platformer background

Platformer Game Art Types

Some people may think that platform games are simple and don’t require any visual outlandishnesses. But thinking like that is a huge mistake. While developing different types of platformer games, art and design is very significant for shaping the gamers’ experience.

Visual Styles

What encompasses the overall look and aesthetics better than visual styles in games? Nothing! From realistic 3D graphics with modern elements to stylized 2D pixel art with nostalgic charm, visual styles set the tone and atmosphere of the game, conveying the mood to gamers. We’ve already told you about Cuphead and its amazing 1930s cartoon-inspired visual style, but it’s so inexpressibly beautiful that we’re happy to talk about it again and again.

Character Design

Creating unique game character design with outstanding details is extremely significant for all designers. Protagonists, antagonists, sidekicks, and other in-game entities should be memorable and catchy to boost the audience’s emotions. For instance, Mario’s iconic mustache in the Super Mario series is an emblematic example of bright and unforgettable character design.

World Design

The game’s environments and levels are the most important elements of good platformer game development. This is the reason why it’s important to appeal to professional game environment design services.

2D game environment design services can provide engaging level layouts, backgrounds, and platforms for games with classical style.

In return, the 3D environment design services can be responsible for intricate obstacles and interactive elements for modern games. As a result, due to a responsible design approach, gameplay mechanics and level progression turns into an interesting and engaging adventure that makes gamers play the platformer more and more.

Two cartoon characters engaged in the process of creating a 3D platformer game

Platformer Game Developers

Every game-developing company has its style and features. There is no two designers with the same ideas or professional view. And this is the beauty of the gaming world: one game company = many small masterpieces. 

Nintendo

Nintendo is one of the most renowned developers and publishers of platformer games. Everyone heard about it at least once in life. They set industry standards and created a whole new gaming world. They are the creators of iconic franchises like Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Donkey Kong.

Rare

Rare is a British video game company, that is famous for developing classic platformer games such as Banjo-Kazooie and Conker’s Bad Fur Day. They set the level for developing engaging characters with unique details and innovative gameplay with outstanding mechanics.

Team Cherry

This indie game development studio is known for its critically acclaimed platformer game, Hollow Knight. After that platformer release, Team Cherry gained recognition for its unique approach to world design, developing challenging gameplay, and rich lore.

RetroStyle Games

RetroStyle Games Studio is a game-developing company well-known for its creation of platformers with a retro art style. They produce dazzling platformer titles that pay homage to classic games and pixel art aesthetics. This is the perfect way to combine old mechanics and visual style with modern innovations and new creative decisions. Maybe, exactly this approach won the hearts of our fans ;)

Key Elements of Platformer Games

It’s time to talk about things that make different types of platform games engaging and enjoyable: about gameplay! This is what makes this genre so special because nothing has so memorable mechanics. But the two main ones are movement and abilities. we’re going to talk about them in detail.

Minimalistic 3D platformer scene, classic hand-drawn animation, Unique Gameplay Mechanics In Platforming Games

Gameplay Mechanics

  1. Jumping and Movement

The core mechanic in platformers is the ability to control a character’s movement, including walking, running, and, most importantly, jumping. Developing precise jumping is very significant for gamers to navigate through levels, avoid obstacles, and reach platforms. Game developers should do everything to master the timing and control of the character’s jumps to make progress in the game easy and intricate at the same time. What’s important is that every level should be built to become more difficult with the next levels. This mechanic will help the gamers to master their skills and coordination.

  1. Power-Ups and Abilities

The developers of platformer games frequently feature power-ups, items, or special abilities that boost the player character’s abilities and skills. For instance, it can be temporary speed boosts, invincibility, increased jump height, or projectile attacks. A very common situation is when power-ups provide new ways to tackle challenges and become a key part of the gameplay progression. For example, in the Super Mario series, gamers can collect items like the Super Mushroom to grow in size if it’s necessary for special levels.

A game artist, in cartoon style, working on the design of 3D platformer levels with creativity and imagination

Level Design

  1. Obstacles and Challenges

No one can imagine a modern good platformer game without obstacles and challenges. These essential elements can include various hazards such as pits, spikes, moving platforms, enemies, and environmental traps. One of our level design tips: strategically place these elements to create a sense of progression and difficulty. As players advance through the game, obstacles should become more complex and demanding, requiring precise timing and coordination. 

  1. Secrets and Collectibles

Secrets and collectibles encourage exploration and reward through gamers so it’s important to integrate them into the gameplay. Perfect examples are hidden pathways, power-ups, extra lives, or special items that are not required to complete the level but make the game more interesting and engaging. Also, collectibles contribute to the game’s replayability because players will boost the level of excitement and they will come back again and again trying to find all hidden items.

Various devices, including laptop, tablet, and smartphone, displaying the secrets and techniques for designing the perfect level in a video game

Platformer Games Across Platforms

For different gamers, there are different platforms. Someone may prefer consoles because they would like to relax after job sitting on the sofa. Other people enjoy playing mobile games because they travel a lot and don’t have access to a PC. Everyone has their reasons but it doesn’t matter that some platformers are better and some are worse.

Console Platformers

Console platformers are often associated with major gaming consoles like Nintendo, Sony PlayStation, and Microsoft Xbox. Iconic titles such as the Super Mario series (Nintendo), Ratchet & Clank (PlayStation), and Banjo-Kazooie (originally on Nintendo 64) are well-known examples of console platformers. These games are specially designed for big screens and have gameplay tailored to specific console hardware.

PC and Indie Platformers

The widest range of titles is available on PCs including both classic titles and indie games. Indies have made a significant impact on the platformer genre with titles for PC games like Hollow Knight, Celeste, Ori and The Blind Forest. These games showcase unique mechanics, art styles, and storytelling.

Mobile Platformers

Mobile platformers are designed for smartphones and tablets. These games are adapted to touchscreen controls and are often more accessible for casual gaming. Titles like Sonic Dash, Rayman Adventures, and Monument Valley offer platforming experiences specifically for mobile devices, with shorter levels and simple controls for touchscreens.

Platformer Game Types Key Takeaways

There are many types of platformer video games but the most popular are 2D and 3D platformers with some unique subgenres.

Game art outsourcing is essential if you want to create a memorable world with unique characters and environments.

Stunning visual style and interesting gameplay mechanics are very important for the quality successful game.

There are various platforms and companies for platformer game development and what to choose depends only on your preferences and goals.

Platformer Game Recommendations

Last but not least are our team game recommendations ;) If you want to play some good classic games with nostalgic animation, Hollow Knight and Super Mario Odyssey are your best friends. If you want to try something modern with an open world, we think you may like Open-World The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or A Hat in Time. And if you don’t have much free time at home try these mobile games: Sonic Dash and Monument Valley. And don’t forget to discover new iconic platformers by yourself!