Platform shooter

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Despite its theme, Ghosts 'N Goblins is one of the very first platform shooters.

A platform shooter, often referred to as a run and gun, is a genre of video game which became very popular in the mid-to-late-1980s which functions as a hybrid between platformers and shooters. The player controls a character on the screen and must avoid enemies and shoot them with projectiles — like a shooter — and the player's character is gravity-bound and must jump over obstacles and onto platforms — like a platformer. Famous archetypes of the platform shooter genre include Contra and Metal Slug.

Many gaming databases use the term "run and gun," but I prefer "platform shooter" because it more accurately distinguishes the game's mechanic from its theme. For example, Gun.Smoke is frequently referred to as a run and gun since your character runs on the ground and shoots a gun, but mechanically it has far more in common with a shooter like Gradius than a platform shooter like Contra. On the flip side, Ghosts 'N Goblins, which uses a Gothic fantasy theme, has a game play very similar to Contra. Many gaming databases also don't distinguish a platform shooter from a traditional shooter, but, in my opinion, the inclusion of a jumping mechanic creates a significant enough difference in game play to warrant a distinction.

A prototype for the genre which mixes elements of shooters and platformers is Moon Patrol, released in 1982. You shoot at enemies while also moving along the ground and jumping over obstacles. However, unlike subsequent platform shooters, there are no platforms beyond the lunar surface to which the player can jump and scrolling is still forced on the player rather than letting the player control the rate of advancement. The first popular platform shooter I have been able to find which really fits the mold is Ghosts 'N Goblins, released in 1985. Also, while a scrolling background is extremely common in platform shooters, Bubble Bobble demonstrates how you can have a platform shooter without scrolling.

Because the platform shooter is a hybrid genre, there is some overlap between it and more "pure" platformers or shooters. For example, when you have a fire flower in Super Mario Bros., the game functions as a platform shooter, but this is not the primary game mechanic. Also, as games moved from the arcade to the home, more complex elements were expected like exploration and storytelling. Games like Metroid and Blaster Master have the basic platformer shooter elements, but are expanded into the Metroidvania genre.

The platform shooter is one of my favorite video game genres. I grew up on the Contra and Mega Man franchises. However, as the Metroidvania genre began to expand, I gravitated toward it because the game play is less dependent on fast reflexes and more about adventure.

Games

This is a list of platform shooters that are important to me, for all platform shooters, see the category.

Title Released Developer
Bionic Commando 1987-??-?? Capcom
Black Tiger 1987-??-?? Capcom
Bubble Bobble 1986-??-?? Taito
Contra 1987-02-20 Konami
Contra (NES) 1988-02-09 Konami
Ghosts 'N Goblins 1985-09-?? Capcom
Kid Icarus: Angel Land Story 1986-12-19 Nintendo
Mega Man 1987-12-17 Capcom
Mega Man II 1988-12-24 Capcom
Mega Man III 1990-09-28 Capcom
Moon Patrol 1982-??-?? Irem
Rolling Thunder 1986-12-?? Namco
Shinobi 1987-??-?? Sega
Super C 1990-02-02 Konami
Wrath of the Black Manta 1989-11-17 A.I

Links

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