What Makes an Awesome Mobile Platformer
The platformer is considered one of the oldest and most well-known video game genres of all time. Many successful titles during the first years of video games You can say that is has evolved along with the devices it has been played on. While a standalone platform adventure delivers quite well on its own, it successfully blends with other genres, like shooters, to add a completely new twist to the gaming experience. PCs or consoles are no strangers to this franchise; there is always a good platformer pick among the game libraries. Now that the mobile market is opening its doors to games, the selections are wider than before.
While all praises can be sung to attest to the venerable gaming category, what should we look for to say that a platforming game has made a new home on mobile?
You’ll do a lot of jumping, dashing, and rolling as you work out the levels. Nothing breaks a platforming immersion faster than a jump function that responds too late when making a leap of fate (and dying in the process). Many a gamer gets vexed when a power move is wasted on a weak enemy just because you pressed the attack button a second longer than you should. Touchscreens have an iffy record when it comes to registering multiple taps – and you’ll be doing this a lot on platformer games. Fortunately, for there are titles that do get the needed responsiveness down pat. While this is a work in development for the majority of titles, smooth controls are not impossible and make gameplay truly satisfying.
Properly-spaced/sized buttons and directional pad
The directional pad and the attack button are usually given the biggest buttons since these are used the most while playing. Smaller ones are given to special attacks and skills. Spacing matters a lot, especially if the platformer title allows the use of button combinations for special attacks. Controls that are clustered too close makes you open to mistakes, while those too far apart can obstruct the view of a level. Buttons that are too big (above 72 pixels) let your hands occupy the screen more than it should. The case with buttons below 40 pixels will make you miss that crucial tap and can cost you the game.
Good and entertaining story
A good story in a platformer game does not have to compete with RPGs when it comes to plot complexity. It can be as simple as a minute-long telling of the protagonist’s quest, random cutscenes of what the protagonist is thinking, or an introduction to the setting. Well-crafted games let you feel the story as you traverse through the stages. While some may be too busy perfecting jumps or maximizing character stats, players pausing to an outstanding narrative pushes the immersion up a notch.
Theme and setting play a big role in making memorable platformers. Both factors have to be presented and made felt early in the game to promote a sense of attachment to the player. It plainly makes no sense when the previous stage is set in space and the next is underwater and the game doesn’t show why. You may also have a dark, sci-fi themed title but some stages house pastel enemies ripped straight out of a fantasy book. Justifying these won’t leave a dent if the narration has to pick up the pieces. While points on games with absurd themes can slip past this, that inconsistency has to be backed with something that keeps you playing.
The love for the classic gaming-era difficulty is a big reason for players to count on the platformer genre to deliver. After all, playing a game where everything seems to go against you demands high skill levels with just as many rewards. The title has to force complete awareness to you, or you simply lose. Enemies can have complex movesets but are predictable enough for anyone to adapt and master against. Terrain can have difficult jumps or obstacles yet it can still be conquered if enough focus on the layout is given. No love for the game is made when everything can be finished with brute force, or by using a single tactic. That mindset of expecting the game to whoop butt if you’re careless should be present at all times.
This ends our shortlist of what we think makes a great platformer game on mobile. Got other ideas? Tell us what you think.