Genre Mash-Up: Creating the Ultimate 2D Platformer

Alex runs down the recipe for the potentially greatest 2D platformer ever made.

Erik Norrisby Erik Norris


Not too long ago I pulled together the ultimate recipe for a zombie game.  Now I’m taking that same idea and crafting the Ultimate 2D Scrolling Platformer!  Here’s my recipe for the tastiest platform concoction my brain can create:

  • 2 Cups Super Mario Bros. 3 (or substitute with New Super Mario Bros.)
  • 1 Cup Mega Man
  • 1 Cup Sonic the Hedgehog
  • ½ Cup of Donkey Kong Country
  • ½ Cup of Braid
  • 1 Tablespoon of Ms. Splosion Man
  • 1 Tablespoon of Super Meat Boy
At the base of any great new platformer has to be a good amount of Super Mario Bros.  I’ve taken Super Mario Bros. 3  for my recipe because it had the greatest polish of the first set of NES releases.  Not only is this one of the best selling games of all time, Super Mario Bros. 3 is still a perfect game. Cribbing off this game will set any developer off on the right direction. If you’re looking for a more modern taste you can substitute New Super Mario Bros. It tastes different but provides new features like co-op play that make the new flavor profile acceptable.

After grabbing Super Mario Bros. 3, you’ll need to add 1 cup of any Mega Man game (1-10).  I’d skew you towards Mega Man 1 or 2, but the formula is pretty much the same throughout the series.  While Mario will provide the basic needs for any platformer, Mega Man adds some much needed violence to the mix.  When Mega Man is blasting his way through enemies with his specialized guns he has no peers (suck on that, Metroid!)  This ingredient also brings to play a challenging difficulty that makes your new game worth playing for sure.

Now that you’ve got a mix of fantastic gameplay and violence, you’ll need a burst of speed. Thankfully, Sonic the Hedgehog has you covered.  Toss in a cup of Sonic and you’ll be blazing through levels in no time. Sure there are some silly bunnies and foxes that hang around the blue streak, but when push comes to shove, no game can compare to the perpetual motion that is Sonic. Speed goes especially with the challenging gameplay you’ve placed at the core of your recipe.

A lot of other recipes feature Castlevania and Metroid, but I’m comfortable with the abundance of retro flavor we already have. Some might call that blasphemy, I’d like to call it selective composition. A great recipe can’t have every ingredient, just those that can work well together.

After mixing these three ingredients, some bananas are a must-have. Therefore, I am including ½ Cup of Donkey Kong Country. While the graphics are painful to look at, the game represents a bridge between generations. It kept 2D platforming alive in a 3D generation without sullying tradition. Plus, it had awesome collectibles like bananas and allowed you to pick Donkey Kong or Diddy Kong. What’s not to like?

Next, a dose of modern flavor is required. Really there was no debate in mind, Braid is the perfect modern 2D scrolling platform game. It was smart, innovative, and different from any other game before it. Braid will provide a blast of flavor to this concoction, akin to a shot of hot sauce in a glass of milk.  Any recipe for a 2D scrolling game without any influence from Braid is going to result in a deficient game.

Finally, to accompany the new school flavor of Braid, I’ve thrown in two spicy tablespoons of Super Meat Boy and Ms. Splosion Man. Super Meat Boy will provide a much needed dose of gore and blood that all modern games should aspire to. Ms. Spolsion Man is thrown in the mix to let the ladies know that they are welcome to have a blast with this game.  Plus, if some of the explosive goodness of a Spolsion Man game seeps into this game, we’ll take it!