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Anatomy Of 2D Side-Scroller Lecturer Picks Favorites

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the push-screen-debutantes dept.

Classic Games (Games) 104

Thanks to GameSpy for its column discussing some of the choicest 2D side-scrolling games of all time, as discussed in a lecture at the recent Game Developer's Conference in San Jose. Some of the "ten games from the past that have something to teach the aspiring platform game designer" listed included "Batman (1989, NES): Best wall jump ever (and game over music, he noted)", as well as "Ghouls 'n Ghosts (1988, AC/Gen/etc.): 'If your game is harder than this, you're in trouble.'", and even "Super Mario All-Stars (1993, SNES): Everything you need to know in one cart." What are your favorite 2D side-scrolling platformers of all time?

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Viewtiful Joe (3, Interesting)

IIEFreeMan (450812) | more than 10 years ago | (#8760904)

on the GC

It really is great
Quite hard but very rewarding
Lots of Cool moves
Great cutscenes
Stylish cellshaded graphics.

Best platformer on the GC, no doubt about it.
I also have a fond memory of supermarioland on the GB but it also was one of my first games so I might be biased :)

Re:Viewtiful Joe (1)

Masem (1171) | more than 10 years ago | (#8761116)

I'd also include the 2 Klonoa games for PSX and PS2; while beautifully rendered in 3d, the game plays much like a 2d scroller. And the challenges of that game (mostly figuring out how to use the props (monsters, etc) on the level to jump from one place to another) are very similar to other scrollers.

Re:Viewtiful Joe (1)

Rallion (711805) | more than 10 years ago | (#8761976)

When I think side-screlloer, I think Viewtiful Joe immediately. Definitely one of the best single-player experiences I've ever had. They actually managed to make it fun for me--I never liked any of those brawlers, including Double Dragon.

Re:Viewtiful Joe (1)

Ayaress (662020) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762089)

Yes, indeed. I never thought I'd see another commercially developed/sold sidescroller again. Viewtiful Joe really proves that even the old genres can still make it.

Re:Viewtiful Joe (2, Interesting)

CashCarSTAR (548853) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762958)

Strange. I didn't find VJ all that difficult except for a few parts. A lot of other people did. I find that kind of odd.

It's a great game 'tho. Best platformer to come out in years. The thing is, production values DO count for soemthing, and VJ had that in spades.

Re:Viewtiful Joe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8763477)

New gamers who have grown up NOT training to deal with the problems of old games (insidious jump puzzles that rely on obscured player perspective, for example) are obviously going to have trouble with such games. The "problems" that game pundits see in the old games are what forced gamers of that day so adept at pattern recognition, timing, manual dexterity, and (get this) attention span.

I've said it before: The gamers of the 80s and early 90s are more skilled than those of today, because their games required it. Easier games sell better, and unfortunately all of the game companies have discovered this.

This is why I find my Super Mario All-Stars, Super Mario World, and SMW2: Yoshi's Island cartridges so dear. I may not be a speed-run caliber player, but I take pride in having seen every inch and corner of all of these games without relying on outside help.

Re:Viewtiful Joe (1)

MilenCent (219397) | more than 10 years ago | (#8764263)

It's interesting, I've not found it *excessively* hard either, except in places (Bosses from Another Joe on, and some rooms in the last level).

I'm currently taking a break from the game, but I have a game at Fire Leo on Ultra-V mode, which is probably the hardest thing in the game according to GameFAQs, because his pattern is somewhat chaotic, and the only way to get good damage on him is to dodge his tornado attacks to make him dizzy, and in Ultra-V rated, there are no skull marks to warn you whether he's attacking high or low. You have to rely on the (somewhat subtle) differences in the sounds he makes before each attack.

I think the game is well-balanced, with Kids and Adult mode for casual players, and the two V-Rated modes for obsessives like myself. Kids mode really isn't that hard, I'd say. And lest you still believe Japanese gamers get harder games than the U.S., they released an updated version of the game with an *even easier* mode in that market.

Re:Viewtiful Joe (2, Informative)

FreeForm Response (218015) | more than 10 years ago | (#8766887)

Jumping into his tornado and doing a diving kick (with Zoom) will often hit him right out, and almost always gets in a few hits with the splash damage. Holding Slow during the dive will allow you to dodge in the event that he is swinging at the level you happen to be at, at the time you happen to be there.

This method is slow as molasses, but easy to repeat once you've had a little practice, and it works just fine for me to defeat Fire Leo.

ack! (1)

GregoryD (646395) | more than 10 years ago | (#8760905)

Ghouls 'n Ghosts is without a doubt the hardest game of all time.

Man did that game give me nightmares.

Why do people always reference Ghouls 'n Ghosts? (4, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 10 years ago | (#8761032)

Have you not played Ghosts and Goblins? I mean, it's actually possible to beat Ghouls 'n Ghosts. You only have to be human, and have a lot of time. I managed to beat Ghouls 'n Ghosts on the Genesis many years back. Ghosts and Goblins stayed unbeaten until emulation added a "save state" feature. The swooping-red-demons-of-death-on-ladders were finally tamed by moment-to-moment saves and a truly ludicrously low fps. Even the Ghouls 'n Ghosts "Statue Tongues" level was nothing compared to that beast.

In all fairness, Ghouls 'n Ghosts was a better game. But that doesn't make it the harder of the two.

Missing options (as usual) (5, Insightful)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 10 years ago | (#8760906)

I can't believe they managed to pick ten platformers and not a single Castlevania among them.

It'd have been nice to see a nod to the Commander Keen series, too... very different to anything on a console, and truly remarkable given that the PC of the day still wasn't taken seriously as an arcade platform.

Re:Missing options (as usual) (1)

MilenCent (219397) | more than 10 years ago | (#8764324)

Yep, I'd definitely have put the original Castlevania on the list, maybe Castlevania III. Both games are special, in my mind, because the player is so *limited* in them. You can't jump that high, can't run fast, can't change direction in mid-air, are extra-vulnerable on staircases, and one stray enemy hit can kill if you're by a pit. If it weren't for the ability to trick medusa heads into appearing high, and the satisfying long reach of the player's weapon and subweapons, the game might be unplayable. As it is, I can just beat the first cycle without having to continue if I'm having a good day.

Symphony of the Night and Aria of Sorrow (the best Metroid-style CVs) wouldn't make the list however, not because they aren't great but because Metroid's already there, having pioneered their innovation years ahead of time.

Interestingly, I've played nine of the ten games on the list (Ghosts & Goblins is the one I've never seen), and agree with what he said about every game. (Though Mega Man 2 may have been a better choice, Mega Man was a little too frustrating in places.)

One other notable absense is Blaster Master. The Metroid-style dynamic coupled with a slightly more rigid world structure and some of the best graphics of the NES era. And car is lots of fun to control.

Re:Missing options (as usual) (1)

DarkZero (516460) | more than 10 years ago | (#8764864)

Symphony of the Night and Aria of Sorrow (the best Metroid-style CVs) wouldn't make the list however, not because they aren't great but because Metroid's already there, having pioneered their innovation years ahead of time.

Castlevania introduced on-the-fly variable difficulty (RPG-style levelling system) and moderately independent computer-controlled allies (familiars), as well as demonstrating how a wide range of playstyles, including dozens of very different weapons, fighting game-style magic attacks, and even multiple different character transformations could work well together. It not only introduced a lot of new things to the 2D sidescroller, but is arguably still ahead of its time, because even the new Castlevania GBA games haven't demonstrated the same depth and wide range of play styles that Symphony of the Night did.

Not only should SotN have been in that list, but it should've been displayed very prominently. The creators of modern 2D sidescrollers still haven't learned many of the lessons that it had to offer, nor have they created anything that's half as ambitious.

Re:Missing options (as usual) (1)

MilenCent (219397) | more than 10 years ago | (#8766651)

Castlevania introduced on-the-fly variable difficulty (RPG-style levelling system)

Not true, other games did it first. Zelda II for the NES, bastard stepchild of the Zelda series, for example.

and moderately independent computer-controlled allies (familiars),

Maybe.

as well as demonstrating how a wide range of playstyles, including dozens of very different weapons, fighting game-style magic attacks, and even multiple different character transformations could work well together.

I agree that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, that it isn't the individual features in the game but the inclusion of ALL of them that makes the games great. But each or these things were seen in other games: transformations in Mario 3, weapons (in a way) in Mega Man and even the original Castlevania (subweapons), magic attacks controlled like fighters... well, I don't remember right now, but it was somewhere. Probably something by Capcom or something.

SotN and AoS still impressed through sheer scale, however. You can bet it took a damn flexible engine to have all those possibilities in it, and that's what no other game has really accomplished. (Though really, most of those weapons and souls go unused most of the time in that kind of game. Who really uses the curry-slinging Waiter Skeleton attack that often in Aria of Sorrow?)

It not only introduced a lot of new things to the 2D sidescroller, but is arguably still ahead of its time, because even the new Castlevania GBA games haven't demonstrated the same depth and wide range of play styles that Symphony of the Night did.

I disagree, I think AoS matches it, although it had a smaller castle.

Not only should SotN have been in that list, but it should've been displayed very prominently. The creators of modern 2D sidescrollers still haven't learned many of the lessons that it had to offer, nor have they created anything that's half as ambitious.

I agree there's nothing else like them (for AoS is similar), but maintain that most of its elements come from Metroid and the original Castlevania. Which it's perfectly allowed to borrow from, mind you, and it wouldn't have been out of place if it had appeared on the list.

no discrimination!! (0)

RichardK (459623) | more than 10 years ago | (#8760911)

Let's not discriminate against all other parallax type games. A great example of an "up" scroller is Galaga, which will always have a humble home in my heart. Those were the days...

But if you're really picky about mentioning side scrollers, then I'd have to admit I quite enjoyed Donkey Kong Country.

River City Ransom (1)

GregoryD (646395) | more than 10 years ago | (#8760926)

River City Ransom would also get my vote for best side action scrolling game.

Double Dragon is the innovator, but River City made the fighting side scroller genre complete.

What?!? No Sonic? (1)

wheresdrew (735202) | more than 10 years ago | (#8760964)

But that's the franchise that introduced the world to "blast processing!"

my write-in vote (1)

paranoos (612285) | more than 10 years ago | (#8760970)

my vote goes to Gunstar Heroes for the Genesis. It had four unique weapon types, and you could pair them to create another 10 possible weapons.

Another stand-out feature was the board-game level, where you threw the dice to move along the board, fighting different mini-bosses, solving puzzles, and getting bonuses on the way to reaching the level boss at the End.

Great game. I've played through it several times.

Re:my write-in vote (1)

Kaali (671607) | more than 10 years ago | (#8761038)

I'll have to agree with paranoos about Gunstar Heroes. I have played that game over and over and over again, it really never gets boring. Another title that should be mentioned is Alien Soldier. Which is also one of the top side-scroller games. Mazin Saga was also great with it's Street Fighter -style boss fights.

Don't forget throwing in general (4, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 10 years ago | (#8761067)

Treasure understood that if you want to create dramatic tension in your players, you have to force them to come as close as possible to danger.The player in Gunstar Heroes had the ability to run up to any enemy, bomb, friend, or object, and throw them as a projectile weapon. It forced a dramatic tension between fleeing and running in, resulting in lots of running in. Narry an object was too large to be thrown, including all of the bosses. Additionally, there was a close-range repeated attack that did tremendous amounts of damage on a jump-in, and a weapon whose sole purpose was to do high damage at close range.

The two player aspect was also well-played. Like all of the best multiplayer cooperative games, you could really tick off your friends. Despite the fact that it doesn't really hurt them, very few people like to be spiked into enemies. Likewise, the spacecraft level had one player controlling the ship and one controlling a rotating turret, but the turret had the ability to jerk around the main craft for short, annoying distances. Furthermore, any dead player was entitled to 1/2 of the surviving player's life. It was this ability to irritate though not destroy that made Gunstar Heroes one of the best side-scrollers of all time.

Still, it is rare that Strider and Bionic Commando get their dues, so to see this Hardcore favorite left off of the list isn't too heartbreaking.

Re:Don't forget throwing in general (1)

kisrael (134664) | more than 10 years ago | (#8763104)

But what I really want to say is any Treasure fan should get a copy of Bangai-O, for DC or optionally for N64...it has that "you have to force them to come as close as possible to danger" aspect IN SPADES...the more things are around you and just about to touch you when you release your super bomb, the more weapon you send out. Do it right, an you kill enough stuff to replace the super bomb you just used.

It's a brilliant game -- from my FAQ on it [gamefaqs.com] :

Bangai-O! What a great game! The level exploration and enemy generators of Gauntlet combined with the action of Smash TV, all in a veneer of Metroid with a touch of the control of Joust...sounds like a mess but it's brilliant. A 2D game where level design really really matters, that throws hoards and hoards of enemies at you and gives you the hardware you need to take it all on...plus, a huge heap of Japanese weirdness.

PS Another vote for Blaster Master, and a shrug that Castlevania didn't make it...never did a lot for me.

Re:Don't forget throwing in general (1)

mrseigen (518390) | more than 10 years ago | (#8763673)

I didn't expect much from Gamespy, so to see most of my favourite 2D games left off wasn't surprising. I absolutely loved Gunstar Heroes. Throwing your friend at enemies, throwing your enemies at your friends, throwing enemies at enemies... I don't think I used the gun much, to tell you the truth.

On the Genesis, don't miss Dynamite Headdy, it's a definite classic of 2D gaming.

I Second (2)

August_zero (654282) | more than 10 years ago | (#8763189)

Treasure has always been one of my favorite design teams and any company that is even half-heartedly contemplating the production of a 2-d shooter should check out their work. When they shine, they shine like no other:

Gunstar Heros
Raidant Silvergun
Guardian Heros
Bangai-O!
Ikaruga
Sin and Punishment (import this game! one of the best shooters ever)

I mean, they have had some bombs too (stretch panic anyone?), but who hasn't?

Who Could Forget? (0)

illuminata (668963) | more than 10 years ago | (#8760977)

You can never make a platformer list without mentioning Bad Dudes! If anything for the sense of accomplishment you get when being commended by none other than Ronald Reagan!

Play games, stay off the drugs, and do your duty to your country. Could a game ever provide more?

Re:Who Could Forget? (2, Funny)

minusthink (218231) | more than 10 years ago | (#8761771)

I thought it was jesus [buffalo.edu]

Re: your sig (1)

BTWR (540147) | more than 10 years ago | (#8772252)

I set it to make all "funny" comments lose 4 points, so a "+5, funny" comment at least has a chance of being read by me, at +1. It has made /. so much easier to read

Another analysis. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8761020)

An interesting take on the 2D scroller is here [spacker.net] .

Cosmic Avenger? (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8761068)

No mention of my favorite one; "Cosmic Avenger". This one was very much like "Scramble", one of those 2-d side scrollers that always forced you to move to the right. Unlike Scramble, you had some control over the path how the bombs you dropped.

Psygnosis... (3, Informative)

IDigUNIX (544392) | more than 10 years ago | (#8761070)

...The Killing Gameshow, a great game w/awesome soundtrack.
...Shadow of the Beast, merely a fun game, but the soundtrack was quite erie and cool. One of the few games where I think the soundtrack would make a good standalone audio CD.
P.S.: I'm talking about these games on the Amiga. I cannot address, nor condone, any PC ports that might have taken place.

Re:Psygnosis... (1)

Ayaress (662020) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762102)

Ugh... Shadow of the Beast had to be one of the worst games ever. The only good thing about it was the screen it showed every time you died, which was very well done. On the subject, what does the 8 mean in the continue screen? It says "Continue: 8", but it's not a countdown, since it stays at 8. And it isn't how many continues you have left, because you only have like 4...

Re:Psygnosis... (1)

raygundan (16760) | more than 10 years ago | (#8765154)

Yeah, I had a copy, too. In my misguided youth, I thought it was a great game solely because of the spectacular graphics. In retrospect, it sucked. The gameplay and control was terrible. But at least it was pretty while it was sucking.

I probably played PocoMan (a sokoban clone) roughly 100 times more than Shadow of the Beast, and Monkey Island for the Amiga is my standard for adventure games to this day.

Re:Psygnosis... (1)

FreeForm Response (218015) | more than 10 years ago | (#8763916)

Oh hell yes, I remember now..

Psygnosis released a game called Wiz 'n' Liz for the Genesis. Man, that game was awesome.

The premise was that you played as one (or two in horizontal-split-screen) wizard(s) who had to run around levels collecting their lost rabbits. When collected, the rabbits would grant random items like extra time, stars (money), or fruit. The wizards could then use the fruit to cast spells, which did all sorts of cool things. As I recall, there were twelve kinds of fruit, and 144 specific interactions depending on how you combined them.

I'd spaced it, but that is definitely one of my favorite platformers ever. =)

Re:Psygnosis... (1)

FromWithin (627720) | more than 10 years ago | (#8766730)

And both the Killing Game Show and Wiz'n'Liz were both by Martin Chudley who went on to form Bizarre Creations [bizarrecreations.com] who recently produced Project Gotham 2 on the Xbox.

My best... (1)

black mariah (654971) | more than 10 years ago | (#8761089)

Mickey Mania on the Sega CD. Excellent graphics, hard as fuck, and super mega ultra fun.

McDonaldland Adventures on the Genesis. Yeah, you heard me. A licensed MCDONALDS game, and it was great. Why? It was developed by none other than... TREASURE! Developers of such greatness as Gunstar Heroes, Alien Soldier, and Radiant Silvergun. I beat it the second day of my rental, but it wasn't easy (I was just DAMN good at the time. :D ).

Re:My best... (3, Funny)

Andy Smith (55346) | more than 10 years ago | (#8761616)

Mickey Mania ... Excellent graphics, hard as fuck
Was that the review quote used on the box?

Re:My best... (1)

black mariah (654971) | more than 10 years ago | (#8761774)

Probably not, but it's the most apt description for it. The later levels in the game were DAMN hard, even for my "I beat Sonic 3 in my first extended play of the game" ass. At the time I was total hardcore platformer KING UNPARALLELED and the bonus levels in that game just completely DESTROYED me.

Please note I make no claim as to my platforming skills right now. It's been years since I last bounced on an enemies head. ;-)

Re:My best... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762217)

Maybe I'm remembering a different McDonald's game, but I there was one where a certain power-up would reverse the gravity for the player.

Very cool gameplay mechanic that I still haven't seen anywhere else :)

Re:My best... (1)

jx100 (453615) | more than 10 years ago | (#8763727)

I think I might've seen that in an old 2d Duke Nukem game

Megaman (1, Informative)

HoneyBunchesOfGoats (619017) | more than 10 years ago | (#8761107)

The Megaman series, especially 2, and Megaman X series. They took up so many hours in my childhood...

Re:Megaman (1)

ksiddique (749168) | more than 10 years ago | (#8761743)

I'd have to agree with Megaman 2, moreso for the music than the actual gameplay.

Coincidentally, that very game took up so many hours of my Saturday and Sunday a few weeks back. :) A friend of mine bought the orginal NES cart so we fired up the NES and went through it a few times.

Re:Megaman (1)

crackshoe (751995) | more than 10 years ago | (#8765390)

I spent 3 hours and dozens of stops to finally find a working nintendo (one of the neo-top loading ones) just so i could play two games - ninja gaiden 9the original, not the crappy sequals) and bubble bobble. the latter is, by all rights, a crappy game, but i love it anyway. the former is, in my opinion, one of the best side scrollers on nintendo outside of megaman.

Re:Megaman (1)

ksiddique (749168) | more than 10 years ago | (#8765518)

I had some good times with Bubble Bobble. And after all those hours of playing, the music never got old. :)

Re:Megaman (1)

Rethcir (680121) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771017)

www.minibosses.com Nuff said

Blaster Master and Rocket Knight Adventures (4, Interesting)

cgenman (325138) | more than 10 years ago | (#8761128)

Since my usual harps have been mentiond (Bionic Commando, Strider, and Gunstar Heroes), I'll throw in two here for Blaster Master and Rocket Knight Adventures. Blaster Master is notable because A: it took the Metroid formula and created something that didn't play or feel anything like Metroid and B: it sacrificed graphics (and story) for gameplay. Modern designers would be well-heeled in these two lessons: Learn what works in a successful game and implement the high-level of what made it fun, rather than the low-level of how the fun was implemented, and anything can be made to fit gameplay, but not the other way around.

Rocket Knight Adventures was a greatly underrated Konami game for the Genesis. It had an excellent gameplay hook, the jetpack, but it also implemented many things that a modern designer would be well-heeled to abide by. For example, while taking damage enemies cannot damage you. This leads to many circumstances where you jump in with a hope and a prayer, and slice the enemy to shreds. Another example is the raw strength of the player. Everybody enjoys playing a character that mows through enemies, though not one whose power is so unlimited as to present no challenge. RKA handled this exchange very well, and to this day one of my favorite images of gaming are the hordes of pigs in underwear running from our intrepid hero.

Bionic Commando (2, Interesting)

baywulf (214371) | more than 10 years ago | (#8761883)

Bionic Commando was such a unique platform game because your character couldn't jump. Instead he had a mechanical arm you could swing out and grab on to things. You would have to grab the wall or ceiling to get around the most basic obstacle but over time playing the game, you would learn it and it becomes second nature. Some instances you had to grab things while falling through the air or do a grab-swing-release move to travel forward. The graphics in this game were top notch... I really which Capcom made a new version.

Re:Bionic Commando (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762401)

I really which Capcom made a new version.

They actually made a "new" version for the Game Boy Color, a semi-rare cartridge that featured the gameplay we love and truly terrible artwork. While the level designs aren't quite as inspired as the first, they are still a lot of fun. Now if it only would stop corrupting my saves...

There is also the Arcade game which can be Mamed, featuring even better artwork but far worse gameplay.

And yes, it is time for a 3D update. All of the people I've spoken to in the industry love the idea, but don't want to be the ones stuck programming it. Maybe with Capcom's numbers so low, they would consider reviving old franchises...

Re:Bionic Commando (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8763858)

Sure, Elite Forces on the GameBoy Color is a worthy member of the Bionic Commando legacy of games, but Capcom didn't make that one. It was Nintendo Software Technologies (NST) in Redmond who developed that game.

As for a 3D Bionic Commando, I only wish that whoever does it doesn't screw the license up. We've seen other takes on the extendable arm (NES/PS2 Rygar's diskarmor, Zelda's hookshot, Wild 9's thing-a-ma-doodle), but a true Bionic Commando sequel would have to take it to a whole new level in order for it to be worthy of the name.

Re:Blaster Master and Rocket Knight Adventures (1)

acxr is wasted (653126) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762453)

I'm glad somebody else out there actually played Rocket Knight Adventures. One level I remember quite vividly involved platform-hoping, but stalactites blocked the view of your character. The rapidly rising and falling water beneath you reflected everything you couldn't see upside-down. Quite a unique level, in my experience. Jumping at an enemy and button-mashing as rapidly as possible was great fun, too. The game could sure use a GBA rerelease.

Re:Blaster Master and Rocket Knight Adventures (1)

MilenCent (219397) | more than 10 years ago | (#8764356)

Bite your tongue! Blaster Master had great graphics for its time. You can bet a lot of work went into intricately dithering all those character tiles pixel by pixel. And the attention to detail on the car, with the spinning wheels... that was eye-popping quality at the time, right there.

I've often wondered how people decide what graphics are good and what's not. These days people might complain about Mario 64's dated look, considering were a generation beyond it now, but I still think it looks perfect except for occaisional pop-up.

The stills were good but the blitting was terrible (2, Informative)

cgenman (325138) | more than 10 years ago | (#8764533)

Sunsoft decided to push the NES further by drawing directly to the screen. This meant that any time an enemy fired a barrage of explosive balls, or the player passed near another moving object, the two would overlap and flicker. The effect is most pronounced in the 1st area, where flying bombers are everywhere and sprite overlap is near constant. They'd use the same trick along with some of the same sprites on their next, less successful game, Festers Quest.

Sun took a shortcut that caused a terrible, constant graphical glitch, in exchange for a whole lot more going on the screen at one time. I'm not saying the graphics were terrible, I'm saying that they made a conscious decision that lowered the overall graphics fidelity in order to have a better playing game, and it shows in both departments.

One of the best looking NES games, Crystalis, made the same tradeoff, but because of the nature of the action RPG it wasn't as much of a problem. It also, amusingly enough, stole sprites from Blaster Master.

Re:The stills were good but the blitting was terri (1)

MilenCent (219397) | more than 10 years ago | (#8766594)

But lots of NES games did this, c'mon. Anyway, I'm not an NES developer, but I'm *pretty* sure that the NES used hardware sprites, not a framebuffer, so "writing directly to the screen" has no meaning. The flickering is a symptom of the system being asked to put too many sprites (which are only 8x8 anyway - most game elements consist of multiple sprites next to each other) on the same horizontal line, which it only supported eight without flicker.

As for putting a lot on the screen at once, well, to do almost anything interesting on the NES you had to live with it. At least flickering was better than the alternative, and the hardware didn't just drop sprites.

Interestingly enough, the emulation of the original NES Metroid included with Metroid: Zero Mission *emulates the flickering*. You can either call that attention to detail or honesty above and beyond the call. Either way, I think it rocks.

Dropzone (1)

geordieboy (515166) | more than 10 years ago | (#8761166)

Dropzone for the C64 was pretty ace. And all those ungulate based Jeff Minter things (e.g. Iridis Alpha) were damn hard but good once you got the hang of it, and had the added bonus of titillation for those of us with a bovine fetish.

Top Hat Willy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8761186)

My favorite is Top Hat Willy [pastrytech.com] for the Amiga... near goddam impossible.

Based on good old Jet Set Willy (play it in java here [twinbee.org] ) which WAS goddam impossible. (One had to hack the code to win the first ZX Spectrum and C64 versions, which were originally impossible as released.)

Midnight Resistance (2, Funny)

rbstark (692983) | more than 10 years ago | (#8761379)

Two things made this game a winner for me. 1. The rotating joystick, and 2. The rotating joystick

Ecco the Dophin (1)

hrieke (126185) | more than 10 years ago | (#8761399)

Some of the best game play and challenges that I had as a youth.

Those where the days.

Somebody loved their Nintendos (2, Insightful)

xf (738362) | more than 10 years ago | (#8761523)

Aw, almost everything there is NES/SNES. Given, there were some awesome scrollers on the console, but what about such classics such as the Sonic series on other platforms?

Re:Somebody loved their Nintendos (2, Insightful)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 10 years ago | (#8761791)

Sonic needs to be mentioned, if at least for the perfect treatment of parallax scrolling.

This isn't a list of best... (5, Insightful)

Snowspinner (627098) | more than 10 years ago | (#8761531)

It's a list of important. Or, more to the point, it's a list of games with important and unique features. So I take it that the reason Castlevania was left off was that there was nothing especially unique to it - it was merely really good. Similarly, no one actually argues that the first Mega Man is the best.

In that spirit, I'd offer Lode Runner or Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle as a variation on the sidescroller/platformer that really works, but isn't mentioned.

I would argue MegaMan is important. (2, Informative)

Inoshiro (71693) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762599)

MegaMan was the first game to give you the "Have it your way" gameplay coupled with much faster action than SMB typically had. With the exception of the warp-zones in SMB, no other game had the majority of its gameplay in a non-linear fashion. You could do the bosses in any order you wanted (although some orders were easier than others). A lot of the fun of a new MegaMan game was exploring a robot's world and seeing if you could take out the boss.

Castlevania 2 would be the other one worthy of mention because of its excellent action/RPG elements. I don't recall there being another 2D action RPG that was sidescrolling that was as fun. Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link was very close, but had a completely different feel because of the sword vs. whip and different universe.

I haven't read the article so... (1)

Andy Smith (55346) | more than 10 years ago | (#8761663)

I don't know if these have been mentioned but on first thought I'd say Turrican 2 on the Amiga, Metal Slug on the Neo Geo, Rygar, Jet Set Willy and (don't laugh) Chuckie Egg on the Spectrum, Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands on everything, and another one that bizarrely I can't remember the name of and my mate isn't answering his mobile so I'll have to leave you wondering...

Re:I haven't read the article so... (1)

wornst (317182) | more than 10 years ago | (#8763461)

Rygar was a great game I can't believe I forgot about it. Awesome pick.

Sonic the Hedgehog (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8761945)

What about sonic? Sonic is at least worth a mention. This was one of the only reasons I was jelous of my friends who had Segas.

The Killing Game Show (2, Interesting)

derinax (93566) | more than 10 years ago | (#8761958)

Hands down. Why this is considered an underrated game:

1. Presentation. Two 880K floppies, and a 3 minute FMV at the beginning (although most of that was time spent loading from disk...). This was one of the first FMVs ever to begin a credits sequence.

2. Graphics. This was available on the Atari ST and Genesis, but the platform of choice was the Amiga, which used the Copper extensively. Parallax scrolling and acid-pool effects were outstanding.

3. Gameplay. When you died, you could replay your movements through the level and take over at any point. The replay supported three different speeds.

4. Concept. You were a prisoner sent to fight your way through a deadly prison with a rising acid pool beneath you. Your legs were cut off, your flesh sand-blasted off, your head encased in a new skull and your bones coated with titanium and steel. You ran around on your hands, ferchrissakes. Twisted.

Beautiful game. Screenshots are an adventure in frustration. Try GIS, or read the developer riff on the game here:

http://www.nostalgica.nu/k/killing_game_show-the .h tml

aka: Fatal Rewind (the worst game ever made) (1)

Gamelore (570005) | more than 10 years ago | (#8764691)

I'm a 25 year old, well-played in Pong, Atari, Commodore, NES and everything since, so I consider myself an excellent video game critic. On behalf of the sanity of gamers everywhere, I can't let the parent get away with praise for "The Killing Game Show."

Honestly, I've never heard of anyone actually "liking" this game, let alone hyping it in this way. I own the Genesis version. This particular game just so happens to be my absolute *least* favorite game of all time. Rock bottom. My mini-review on ign.com which I wrote about a year ago:

"Worst. Game. Ever. Folks, this is ATARI E.T. level bad. Constantly rising lava. No way to learn the escape routes without dying endless times to rising lava. No way to save the game. The game is pure torture. Ironically, the only reason I still have it is because I couldn't manage to sell it."

My Ratings [ign.com]

I'm simply amused that someone out there actually enjoyed this game. Influential? Possibly in "how to torture your players and make them scratch their eyes out and ram their heads into the television"; But, seriously man, it was $19.95 for a reason.

Cybernator never gets the love it deserves. (3, Insightful)

robson (60067) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762215)

Just because it didn't have cute characters? Bah!

Cybernator [gamefaqs.com] for the SNES, and its unofficial sequel Metal Warriors [gamefaqs.com] .

Re:Cybernator never gets the love it deserves. (1)

extensis (665596) | more than 10 years ago | (#8766507)

Well I have never played Cybernator, but Metal Warriors has some of the greatest, and most tense multiplayer moments of any game.

More than nearly any game, the characters were so truly different. They had nothing alike, so much replay value.

For my money (4, Informative)

dancingmad (128588) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762237)

The best 2D platformer, in my humble opinion has been Yoshi's Island 2, for the Super Nintendo. The game changed the Mario formula, by having you place as Yoshi, carrying a baby Mario on his back. When you got hit, instead of dying, baby Mario would fly off and if you didn't catch him within 10 seconds or so, he'd be captured by enemies.

The game itself was gorgeous, the first SNES that really had a really different art style (outside the crappy Donkey Kong country games), as it sported this pastel/children's story book look. The puzzles were classic Miyamoto (read: subtle yet fun) and the game had the charm of Mario 3 and Super Mario World. It had the great aspects of the Mario series, but added a new twist to the whole affair. It was probably the one of the last great games for the SNES - unfortunately it came out at the same time as Donkey Kong Country 2 and it didn't get noticed much. I ended up renting it and wishing I had bought YI2 instead of DK2. The joke's on Rare now though; YI2's on the GBA and a whole new generation of gamers are enjoying it - DK2's not on the gba (I heard some talk of a port) and Rare's with Microsoft.

There have been some other great 2D games (Castlevania, Metroid, though they're not really platformers in the truest sense), but to me, Yoshi's Island 2 has been the pinnacle.

Re:For my money (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8764060)

I agree. Yours is an opinion that is shared by almost everyone who has played the game, including posters here in the past. And honestly, I consider the game to be a gaming skill litmus test: If you've beaten it 100%, that says a lot about how good of a gamer you are, because no matter how many FAQs you read or whatever, you have to actually be good to get through the game.

The details of the game are among the best of any game ever:

1. The timer you mention is actually extended by the number of star pieces you accumulate. So if you haven't been doing your job of finding stars, you could get in trouble because you have less time to recapture Baby Mario (and the way Mario screeches, you don't really want that). After grabbing him back, if your star count is lower than 10, the timer slowly grows back to a minimum of 10, even if you have no stars, but you are forced to be careful while that timer grows, just to be on the safe side. Brilliant. And if you're going for a 100% game, you have to try not to get hit at all, or else you have to backtrack to find some stars, or create red eggs with which you can recapture two stars per egg.

2. The aiming mechanism for Yoshi's eggs can be locked, so you can prepare yourself for perfect throws during jumps. You can also position yourself for making those angular ricochet shots to hit obscured flowers and enemies.

3. Yoshi's kick-hover can keep you out of trouble, or it can force you to overestimate the ability of your jumps. Doing it over and over can trick you into thinking you might be able to maneuver out of a hopeless situation, too, which is hilarious. Again, brilliant.

I own both the SNES and GBA versions (just because playing it on the road is a killer app for me), and the GBA version is very faithful to the original, with the additional sound effects being the main difference. Highly recommended to skilled gamers, or as gifts to gamers who only think they are skilled.

Sega (1)

wornst (317182) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762384)

I liked Target Earth a lot as a kid. Also Stryder and let's not forget Golden Axe. Speaking of axes, Legendary Axe on Turbografix was really good too, as was Bonk.

(2|3)D engine vs (2|3)D game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762516)

There's also the distinction between 2D and 3D graphics--sprites versus polygons--and 2D versus 3D games--2 degrees of freedom versus 3. Usually 2D games means 2D engine (and vice versa) except for the first few 3D games where the engine couldn't handle that many polygons (like Myth, and Doom, to the extent that Doom is 3D).

But Super Smash Bros. and Viewtiful Joe (and others, of course) show that that there's an advantage to 2D games using a 3D engine.

2D games versus 3D games is definitely a design choice rather than an advancement, but I think 3D graphics prolly will replace sprites even in 2D games, since you get things like zooming, angle changes, and a potentially infinite number of frames with only one model (rather than having to draw each frame individually).

Now that graphics cards are approaching the level where 3D models can handle the details that sprites can show, it makes more sense to use a 3D engine even for 2D games.

Still... the art in some old sprites is beautiful... it'll be hard to get models *that* good. Maybe there is still room for both.

Re:(2|3)D engine vs (2|3)D game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8764270)

Modern 3D software engines and processing hardware are already so good that you can make models of seamless animation-quality 2D caliber. Look at Tales of Symphonia on the GameCube and DQ5 remake on the PS2. And other than the games you mention, it's notable that almost every shmup created in the past few years (all 2D games) relies on a 3D engine.

I'd say that 3D has already supplanted 2D, even for 2D games. Lighting effects, smooth animation, and texture flexibility are just a few of the advantages that are automatic with a 3D engine. But, just like paint will never go away just because CG modeling is comparitively easy, so do I think that it's important that 2D game illustration never die. Particularly for portable machines, I think the in-built economy of storage space, RAM, and processing power that are part of 2D engines is very important to maintain, lest all gaming (including otherwise simple games) fall victim to bloatware glut.

Hello? Ninja Gaiden? (1)

PedanticSpellingTrol (746300) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762730)

I can't believe nobody else has mentioned it yet, especially with the resurgence on X-Box recently. Of course 3 sucked, but meh. The others were greatness,

Re:Hello? Ninja Gaiden? (1)

MilenCent (219397) | more than 10 years ago | (#8764400)

Actually, I'd say the only real advancement Ninja Gaiden gave us was the cinema scene.

The game's basically double-speed Castlevania with no whip, annoying wall-jumps, no shot-multipliers, too-expensive subweapons and (even more) annoying enemies. And I've played through the both first two (though not since their original release).

I recently watched a friend play through a few levels, and had to say to myself, "I used to like this?" Because I did like it, back when I first played it, but I can't say it holds up these days.

My Top Three That Weren't Mentioned (1)

swdunlop (103066) | more than 10 years ago | (#8763062)

3. Kenseiden -- A sleeper for the SMS as well, Kenseiden required a good sense of timing instead of super-fast reflexes. A nonlinear solution path was presented, as well.

2. Wonder Boy 3 -- RPG meets Action Side-Scroller. Great story, and with the use of powerups, each level has several paths through it, depending on your form. Absolutely gorgeous graphics, even on the Sega Master System version.

1. Abuse -- Not a console game, but probably the damn hardest side scroller I've ever played. Keyboard control of movement, and mouse control of firing was extremely demanding considered to other side scroller control schemes, yet, once mastered, was very fluid. Also beautifully animated, and user scriptable.

Too bad, Crack dot com tanked soon after..

My list... (1)

CashCarSTAR (548853) | more than 10 years ago | (#8763075)

How many I can think of, in no particular order.. #1. Viewtiful Joe. Great 2D gameplay, a very unique feel to it. As well, the game was just beautiful in pretty much every way, from the graphics to the music to the little extras. (The old-style movie posters in the credits, the little jokes on the pause screen, the different take on the DiD story.) #2. Yoshi's Island. Just absolutly amazing. Still is. Throwing eggs around requires a lot of skill. Every stage brings something new to master. #3. SMB 3. The classic. Best NES game ever, in reality was a 16-bit quality game on a 8-bit system. #4. Super Metroid. Very short, but I think that was a bit of the charm. You could beat it, go from weak to powerful, in one sitting (2:57 is my best time..I got that time about 20 times..the EXACT same time) #5. Castlevania SotN. Best of the Castlevania games by far. Metroid style gameplay with a lot of charm #6. Bubble Bobble. Best old school platformer. The engine in it gave a lot of little tricks you could do with the physics. I still play it. #7. Guardian Heroes. Best Genesis game (next to Mean Bean Machine) Lots of action and a fair style of gameplay.

Prince songs not included. (1)

August_zero (654282) | more than 10 years ago | (#8763138)

Some interesting choices on that list.

Batman? I thought i was about the only person that remembered and loved that game. Sure, besides having characters from the comic/first movie it had almost nothing to do with the film, but it was fun. And hard as hell.

Hah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8763533)

What no Altered Beast?!

Best side-scroller IMO... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8763648)

is 'Fred' for Atari 800 XL/XE. You can still find that image here and there.

Ghouls And Ghost -- Difficult? (1)

Icephreak1 (267199) | more than 10 years ago | (#8763718)

Ghouls and Ghost, hardest game of all time?

Hell no.

Robotron: 2084 and Actraiser were both exponentially more difficult. And that's for example.

- IP

Re:Ghouls And Ghost -- Difficult? (1)

Rocky (56404) | more than 10 years ago | (#8765630)

Actraiser wasn't hard in the least.

If you're going for hard, go for something like Super Cobra...

Re:Ghouls And Ghost -- Difficult? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8766489)

I beg to differ.....

THE_HARDEST_GAME IMO, was the great ET for Atari 2600 /sarcasm

Re:Ghouls And Ghost -- Difficult? (1)

ReyTFox (676839) | more than 10 years ago | (#8766524)

Robotron can be marathoned. The difficult maxes out.

Mario Allstars? (2, Informative)

miyako (632510) | more than 10 years ago | (#8763738)

As much as I love the mario games, I'm not really sure that the deserve to be mentioned.
Super Mario Bros and The Lost Levels (Super Mario 2 in Japan) were fine games, but AFAIK did nothing all that revolutionary.
Mario 2 (US) was not originally a mario game, but was a different game in japan that was reskinned with mario characters and sold outside of japan as Mario 2 because they thought the lost levels would be too hard.
The game which became Mario 2 in the US (I can't remember the name of it, anyone else know?) was certainly revolutionary, although it wasn't untill Klona and Klona2 that I saw another game use a similar formula.
Mario 3 was, in my opinion, the best 2D mario game ever, though it was deffinitely more evolutionary than revolutionary. The overworld that it introduced was a first for mario games, but had been done before in a number of games (Bionic Commando sticks out in my mind), and the 357 or however-many powerups were nice, but just taking the concept farther than the series had taken it before. Even the idea of selectiong powerups before entering a stage and the semi-linnear level design (choices between going to stage 3 or 4 for example) had been done in previous games.
In fact, the first mario game that I can think of that had any real huge and lasting effect on the rest of the industry was the first forey into the world of 3D with Mario 64, which I think is one of the best games ever made.
I don't think anyone would argue that the NES/SNES mario games were fun, but their fun came from good level design, and very refined play, though they were never more than evoultionary.

Re:Mario Allstars? (1)

FreeForm Response (218015) | more than 10 years ago | (#8763967)

The game which became Mario 2 in the US (I can't remember the name of it, anyone else know?)

Doki Doki Panic [nesplayer.com] .

Re:Mario Allstars? (1)

miyako (632510) | more than 10 years ago | (#8764114)

Ah thanks for the link, I couldn't for the life of me remember what it was called.
Maybe you or someone else happens to know... Was Doki Doki Panic a Japan-Only release, or was it skinned as SMB2 just for the US?
In other words, did the eurpoeans get this game under the name Doki Doki or SMB2?

Re:Mario Allstars? (1)

drwiii (434) | more than 10 years ago | (#8764161)

Doki Doki Panic was a Japan-only disksystem release. It was rebranded as Super Mario Bros. 2 for US release, which was later re-released in Japan on cartridge as Super Mario Bros. USA.

Re:Mario Allstars? (2, Insightful)

MilenCent (219397) | more than 10 years ago | (#8764465)

Er, how was Super Mario Bros. not revolutionary? If it's not the first scrolling platformer then it's certainly the earliest I can name. It also pioneered what I'm suddenly going to call "casual secrets," with almost every level having *something* cool hidden away somewhere, ranging from warp zones to six extra coins on world 1-4.

For the record, Lost Levels *was* too hard. Period. One of the most frustrating things I've ever seen Nintendo produce.

Mario 2's very good, but not as interesting to me now as Mario 3.

Mario 3's great innovations were the incredible, even by today's standards, variety of powerups and the way that a level can be a completely difference experience depending on what you have going in, the sheer variety to the levels, and how all the different aspects came together as a whole.

Re:Mario Allstars? (1)

clu76 (620823) | more than 10 years ago | (#8764965)

As much as I love the mario games, I'm not really sure that the deserve to be mentioned.

I consider Super Mario Bros. to be the definitive 2D side scroller. Great then. Great now.

Re:Mario Allstars? (2, Insightful)

miyako (632510) | more than 10 years ago | (#8766532)

I certainly agree that for its time, and for a long time afteward, Super Mario Bros. was the best executed game of it's genre, however being a good game is not the same as being a revolutionary game.
The fact is that there were sidescrollers before Mario Bros. and Mario Bros. did not add any revolutionary features to the genre, the only thing it did was take existing ideas and refine them to make one hell of a good game.
In general, revolutionary games are not the games we remember, because they tend to suck. It takes the developers a few tries with a given formula to figgure out how to best apply it.
There are of course exceptions, but in general we tend to remember Best of Breed, not First Of Breed.
The article was about games that were revolutionary, games who did something first and effected the rest of the genre.
None of the games in the mario allstars packages really did this. It was not untill Super Mario 64 that the Mario series introduced a concept that was revolutionary.

my favorite... (1)

nomel (244635) | more than 10 years ago | (#8764078)

sidescroller for PC is Soldat [soldat.prv.pl] .

Bucky O'Hare (1)

say__10 (768448) | more than 10 years ago | (#8764177)

Great sidescroller, pretty tough as I remember, based on a short lived cartoon. Pretty fun, rescue all the characters and use them through the game, all have different specialties you need to beat the game... quite fun and worth the probable $5 for a copy of the NES cart.

Re:Bucky O'Hare (1)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 10 years ago | (#8765054)

I had that game, too. Not well known, but it was cool. I never did really understand what the duck's special power was. He just sort of convulsed. Bucky, the rabbit, jumped real high with his special power. The cat chick had the flying ball o death. The kid did something, and the robot was gay.

No Metal Slug? (1)

TheVoice900 (467327) | more than 10 years ago | (#8764432)

Honestly my favorite 2D side-scrollers would have to be the Metal Slug series of games. The graphics are absolutely gorgeous, the game is hillarious at many points (I just love when your character becomes super fat from eating too much, then stabs the enemy with a fork!), and the game play is just downright fun. Not to mention the world interaction, I'm always finding new stuff to blow up, and new ways to blow things up every time I play through the games. The bosses are some of the most original I've seen in platform games (I love the big chomper thing that eats the tower you are climbing).

While it looks like this article is about console games, remember that Metal Slug was on the Neo-Geo console as well as in the arcade :D

Apple II+ games (1)

Mark Pitman (1610) | more than 10 years ago | (#8766611)

Does anyone remember the original Choplifter! game on the Apple II+?? That had to be around 1982 or something. I had never seen anything like it on the Atari 2600 or other consoles. How about Captain Goodnight and the Islands of Fear? I think that game pushed the capabilities of the old Apple II to the limit.

authentic NES price? (1)

Jacek Poplawski (223457) | more than 10 years ago | (#8767121)

from article:

4. Go on ebay and sell my soul for $400+ for an authentic NES

Is NES really so expensive on ebay?
Here in Poland on auctions you can buy them for price of Atari/C64/Amiga. Funny thing is that ZX Spectrum is much more expensive (cost of cheap PC mobo) than Amiga.

Re:authentic NES price? (1)

leland242 (736905) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770189)

That guy must be crazy. A front loading NES with a ton of games is probably anywhere from $50 - $75 depending on what accessories and games are included. A barebones system is most likely $25 bucks. A top loading NES is generally above $100 for just the system. For $400 that better include sealed original Zelda's and Metroid's and a prototype or two!

Amiga people rejoice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8767921)

I'm surprised nobody mentioned Team17's excellent platform game "Superfrog" for the Amiga...

MetalStorm and the Halfshell (1)

md.LeadG (768592) | more than 10 years ago | (#8768199)

Oh yes, with the gravity-manipulating M-308 Gunner: besides smooth animations and cool music - your basic action sidescroller. But I loved the 360 deg. shooting, and the gameplay was very fluid. Also, TMNT !!! Spent many hours on this one. One of the few games that had relatively big success along with the film(s). I would mention Goonies, but I don't remember much from that game.

What about Duck Tales? (1)

leland242 (736905) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770228)

Okay, I didn't RTFA since Gamespy is blocked at work, but if it wasn't mentioned, Ducktales is an excellent NES game that deserves mention. I tried part 2 but couldn't get to a certain level on an emulator. D'oh!

wizards and warriors (1)

wop9psu (768741) | more than 10 years ago | (#8772427)

Wizards and Warriors for the NES. Great game, but memories of jumping up a long, long wall only to miss that last block still haunt my dreams. Ah, not really, but the game is worth a mention.
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