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A Detailed Cross-Examination of Yesterday and Today's Best-Selling Platform Games

August 4, 2006 Article Start Previous Page 29 of 31 Next

The results of the analysed data are summarised as follows:

  • A big head-to-body ratio on a character is likely to increase the probability of it becoming memorable to a large audience.
  • Giving the player a power-up almost immediately is likely to increase immediate player enjoyment and perhaps your review scores.
  • A tropical environment, jungle or any other excuse to display lush, rich colour compositions is a popular choice for any first level.
  • To allow players to see their character – and a good amount of what lies ahead - you need to make the character between a 5th or 6th of the screen high if in a 2D game or side-on scrolling view. If your game is full 3D, it is advisable to add a look-around button and the ability to zoom out as far as possible with the default camera angle set so the character’s height fills a 6th of the screen.
  • 3D software cameras in platform games are still largely imperfect when the player changes direction quickly or jumps from room corners - thus this feature could benefit from more R+D time in all cases.
  • Constant flow and smooth transitions between and throughout all moves is a popular design choice throughout all games.
  • The majority of the critically acclaimed titles and the most successful ones choose to use as few buttons as possible for movement and action. Median average of maximum buttons used was three.
  • The current generation of games choose the newer reward system of token quotient activated bonuses. They also tend to favour rewarding the desire to explore over a player’s overall gameplay skill and performance.
  • In terms of gameplay variety within the first ten minutes, the 2D games were the most varied in gameplay types. Being as they are the all-time best sellers, that may be a clue as to how we can recapture the astronomical sales figures of past. Most of the varied gameplay in the 2D games also grants reward, whereas in the newer game, there is less reward – with none in some cases – per minor task accomplished.
  • Control tutorials are non-existent in the early generation games analysed. Only the latest games – 3D ones - contain them.
  • *All* platform games have input-sensitive control – even the ones that were released with digital controls.
  • Most popular pick-up types are: Finance, Extra Life, Power-up and Hit-point-up.
  • A unique power-up system is a great way to add further distinction to your game.
  • Average power-ups per level for puzzle-based platform games, was four. Jak and Daxter is the only action-based platform game and contains between 4 and 15 per stage.
  • Game ending rewards that promote replayability in any shape or form are a popular choice throughout.
  • Permanent upgrades are used in many varied ways throughout the analysed titles, and when used, they have proved successful in their execution.
  • In most of the games, Hazards early on regularly consist of floor touch/kill hazards, a few Kill-zones and enemies that have a part of their body protected. Hurt-hazards are also common and in the current generation of platform games a surrounding area of water or empty space where your character can be drowned or instantly killed is the common choice.
  • Scores are being weeded out in favour of Token collection. This has also introduced unlockable bonuses relative to your total collected quotient. Exploration and patience rewards are now being favoured over skill based rewards.
  • Re-occurring HTR area exploration bonuses consist of Quota tokens, Extra lives, large chunks of Finance, Portals to a bonus level and Platform visibility triggers.
  • Most recurring pick-up bonus is the granting of an Extra life for every 100 finance tokens collected. Interestingly, a lot of the games use finance as a dual-property pick-up – mainly having finance double up as a hit-point-up or as a Quota Token to grant entry into a Bonus area.
  • The most popular bonus for completing levels is an Extra life. This is often subject to meeting a certain score or quota condition. The other popular reward, which is standard throughout all games, is gifted access to newer levels in the game. The games explored herein, do not show any other similarities in regards to level-end rewards, but their individual takes are very interesting – particularly SMB3’s roulette block, Sonic Adventure’s A-Life feature and Crash Bandicoot’s immensely tough to achieve box-smash bonus.
  • Task types present in the first ten minutes are often rewarded with finance or token bonuses upon completion – at least in the best sellers. The only exception where around 40% of tasks are without financial or token reward is Mario Sunshine.
  • All games analysed contain the following: Finance collection, Jumping over Kill-zones - aka bottomless pits - Breaking open containers and jumping over moving floor hazards.
  • A majority of the games contained HTR areas that contained rewards relative to the level of player skill required to reach the area.
  • Some games use finance as a key to enter bonus rounds. The key is often a set quotient requirement, Example: Sonic 2 requires 50 rings are in player possession to enter the bonus round and Rayman’s bonus entry quotient requirement changes as the game progresses.
  • Action-based gameplay is favoured over puzzle-based gameplay in initial stages, with puzzles only appearing later in the game, or exclusively in bonus levels

Article Start Previous Page 29 of 31 Next

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