Everything about platform games. Part 3: Maturity

We have already seen the beginnings of platform games and how they evolved in the following years. Now we are going to see how they jumped to the 3 dimensions, although they did not stay long there. Let’s go!!!


The arrival of the next generation of consoles made the public focus their attention on the new 3D capabilities these consoles had. It looked like the platforms genre was coming to an end, as its technique and its gameplay mode were not much compatible with 3D real-time generated graphics. Or were they? Games like Rayman, Mega Man and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night proved that this was still possible and kept platform games‘ flame alive through the 32-bits generation.

Even games like Yoshi’s Island were still very successful in the 64-bits generation, although it looked like the wick was consumed. In order to solve this problem, developers found a compromise between the better power of new available technologias and platform games’ gameplay, which had sold so much in previous generations. The idea was keeping a 2D gameplay structure, but somehow using 3D real-time generated graphics. Therefore, what is known as 2.5D was born, that is, something half-way between 2D and 3D. Very interesting creations arouse, like Clockwork Knight for Sega Saturn (late 1994) and Pandemonium for PlayStation (late 1996) which, still keeping a 2D gameplay mode, they added 3D visual effects like camera turns or using depth in stages. This new branch of games extended until not-so-far dates, with games like Viewtiful Joe in 2003.


Actually, saying “last jump to 3D” is not completely correct. Even though real 3D come by the hand of the las generation of consoles, back in early 80’s we could already find samples of platform videogames with isometric views, that is, with an angle perspective instead of the typical frontal perspective of 3D games. In those years games like Congo Bongo from Sega and Ant Attack were released, both in 1983. Even games for MSX, like Antarctic Adventure, already presented tridimensional scroll in third person while we made the main character jump, a cute penguin.

But if we stick to 3D real-time generated graphics instead of the camera view, the first game of this type would be Alpha Waves (in some places known as Continuum), published in 1990 for Atari ST, Commodore Amiga and PC. In this game we could see 3D graphics, 3D movement, variable camera… all this for the first time in a game of this kind. In the world of home consoles, the first example we can find is Jumping Flash!, released in 1995 for PlayStation.

Until that moment, the platform genre had been vastly developed. That also applies to the 3D. But no one had been able to capture all the essence of platform games with the latest 3D technologies. That was about to change radically. In 1996, years after a development initially thought for the Super Nintendo console and its expansion capabilities with the Super FX chip, the 3D platform game par excellence arrived for the Nintendo 64 console: Super Mario 64. It showed a real 3D world for which an analog stick was again needed in order to be able to navigate through it with the right accuracy. A lot of you will know that this game was a categorical success for Nintendo and it created the rules for what nowadays is a real 3D platform games, therefore making Super Mario 64 the star and father of the genre using 3D technology.

With this new post we have arrived to the current times. In the next and last post we will see how platform games look like and where are they going to nowadays. Jump, jump, RetroGamers!!!

You can also read: Everything about platform games. Part 1: The beginnings

You can also read: Everything about platform games. Part 2: Evolution

You can also read: Everything about platform games. Part 4: Current times


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