The platform genre of games has proved incredibly durable. It is almost 30 years since classic titles like Manic Minor first brought the platform format to the attention of the general public. And here we are, three decades later, in a time of unparalleled variety in the games on offer, and we still can't get enough of platform action.
One reason for the genre's continued popularity is that game developers have become increasingly inventive in what they are doing with platform games. There are indeed now so many weird and wonderful platform games out there that you almost need to have sub-genres to categorise them all.
Well, that is what we are doing here. Over coming weeks, we will be presenting you with the top action platform games, the top adventure platform games, and the top fighting platform games. We are starting here with the top 10 platform puzzle games. Enjoy!
Winner of the 2010 IGF Student Showcase Award, Ragtime Games's inaugural game Continuity brilliantly combines the fun of platform gaming with the head scratching challenge of sliding block puzzles. As with many platform games, your aim in Continuity is to escape from each level by finding a key and opening the exit door. But unlike most platform games, each level is not made up of a single space but is split into a number of blocks. These blocks can in turn be rearranged in the same way as with sliding block puzzles. This might not sound particularly radical but it is; it adds a completely new dimension to the escape-from-the-room platform experience, one that breathes new life into what was becoming a rather tired genre. Play Continuity here.
Game designers Edmund McMillen (of Super Meat Boy fame) and Eli Piilonen have come up with one of the most outrageous - not to mention revolting - ideas for a game. In Spewer, you play an ugly blob-like creature that has pretty much nothing going for it... except that it can at a moment's notice unleash a torrent of vomit. Rather than jumping over gaps, you fill the space up with sick, and when you have navigated the gap, you suck all the vomit back in. Disgusting, yes, but also absolutely genius. If you can stomach it, play Spewer here.
John Cooney, head of development at Armor Games, has a reputation for creating games that completely reinvent existing genres. So when he recently turned his attention to platform games, we were anticipating something special from him. He didn't disappoint, creating the brilliant and unique platform puzzler This is the Only Level, a game where you play the same level multiple times, each time aiming to complete it in a slightly different way. John has since built on and refined this idea with the game we are featuring here - Achievement Unlocked. Play the game here. You may also want to check out the sequel here.
This is another platform game with a brilliant premise (possibly inspired by Schrodinger's legendary cat conundrum). In Closure, parts of the world not illuminated by light do not exist. It is not that they just cannot be seen - they are not actually there. So for example, if you walk on ground that is not cast with light, you will fall through it. Similarly, a wall that is not illuminated can be traversed. To help you navigate your way around, the game provides you with a number of glowing orbs that you can carry with you like a torch or place in strategic locations. Play Closure here.
This legendary game takes the standard platform objective of surviving at all costs and turns it on its head. Your aim in Super Karoshi is to die and your task is to find ever more difficult and inventive ways of doing so. Great music, jet black wit and fiendish puzzles make this game - in its many incarnations - a joy to play. Play Super Karoshi here. Other versions of the game can be found here.
Reading the author's description of this game almost put me off - there was mention of complex stuff like additive color theory. Sounded a bit too taxing on the brain for my liking. Had I given into the urge to pass the game up, however, I would have missed out on one of the most interesting platform puzzle games on the web. And, as I quickly learned, the 'complex stuff' in the author's description turned out not to be that complex after all, especially after I had checked out this link. Color Theory can be played here.
Things really are black or white in this hugely popular platform puzzle game. Each level in Shift is actually two levels, one in which the physical objects are black and the space white, and one in which the colors are reversed. You can switch between the black and white worlds by pressing the shift key. This simple concept has made Shift something of an internet phenomenon. No less than four versions of the game have been made. You can play the first game here. The second, third and fourth versions of the game can be played here, here and here.
8Thomas Was Alone
Don't be put off by the simple graphics in this game, because - beneath its plain facade - Thomas Was Alone offers some of the most interesting platformer puzzles we have come across. What makes the game so interesting is the collaborative nature of the game-play. You are put in charge of a number of characters, each of which has its own unique abilities, and you have to get them to work together to ensure that they all get to the exit. You can play Thomas Was Alone here. If you enjoy this kind of collaborative game play, you may want to check out Home Sheep Home, a physics game which offers similar game play.
Computers can be frustrating enough even when they are doing their best to be helpful. Who, then, would want to play a game in which every bit of advice is a deliberate lie? Surely, it would be excruciatingly annoying. Surprisingly, Depict1 by Kyle Pulver is actually a lot of fun, in spite of its every effort to lead you astray, from telling you the wrong keys to use to control your character to giving you incorrect instructions on how to complete a level. A Flash port of Depict1 (by Miroslav Malesevic) can be played here. The original downloadable game can be found here. Honest.
10My First Quantum Translocator
You know a game is going to be hard when the developer has to give you the option of skipping levels. My First Quantum Translocator has the skip level option and, yes, it is also very difficult, perhaps a little too much so. However, the interesting teleportation-based game-mechanic is novel and appealing enough for you to want to invest the effort to master the game. My First Quantum Translocator can be a little frustrating in places but it is worth persevering with - or, if you're really stuck, using the skip level button - because it has a neat ending. We won't spoil this by telling you anymore. Just play through the game here and find out yourself.
As usual, if you have been playing any other great platform puzzle games, or would have ordered the list differently, please tell us all in the comments section below.