Platformer games have an ancient history in the video game industry, dating back to the first “true” platformer, Nintendo’s Donkey Kong, released in 1981 for arcades and later ported to the NES, as well as home computers. Other notable titles in platformer history include Pitfall!, Wanted: Monty Mole, and tons of other platformer games released in the 80s and early 90s.
Fast forward to the present day, and platformer games haven’t changed all that much. Game development software kits make creating platform games easier than ever before, and while platformers retain the same “run and jump” gameplay that defines the genre, developers can focus on adding more unique gameplay elements. If you play .io games, you’ll also notice a lot of inspiration from classic platformers, as indie devs generally focus on a more nostalgic retro-gameplay style.
But of course, developers often draw inspiration from previous decades, so it’s easy to find similarities between today’s mobile platform games and much older titles that defined the genre. As some of the most popular platformer games were on the Sega Genesis and other Sega systems, we’re going to take a look at how Sega games have influenced modern iOS mobile platformers.
Sega Forever brings classic Sega titles to mobile
We should start by talking a bit about Sega Forever, a service available for Android and iOS that allows you to play classic Sega titles on your mobile device. Sega’s end goal for this service is to create a Netflix-style catalog for their games both past and future, as Sega monitors game usage statistics as a metric to determine which franchises may be revived into new games in the future.
For example, endless runner games are very popular on mobile devices, with games like Temple Run and Subway Surfers being at the top of the charts and reigning for quite some time. However, we can easily trace Endless Runner gameplay to Sonic the Hedgehog, released by Sega in 1991. While Sonic was not an endless runner, but more of a platformer that used running mechanics, it influenced the endless runners today, with coin-collection and powerup mechanics.
Sega released their endless runner version of Sonic, Sonic Dash. It’s been downloaded over 350 million times across Android and iOS, and a competitive online multiplayer endless runner titled Sonic Forces: Speed Battle, which has been downloaded over 50 million times by April 21, 2020, and has amassed USD 4.2 million in revenue.
A couple of years after Sonic Dash, Nintendo also released its endless runner, Super Mario Run. While Super Mario Run has been the more commercially successful of the two, Sonic Dash holds a higher Metacritic user score, with Sonic Dash at 7.3 and Super Mario Run at 6.3.
Another popular mobile series, the Adventure Island series of games, is a clear adaptation of Sega’s arcade game Wonder Boy, which was released in 1986 by Sega for arcades, and the fifth title in the franchise, Wonder Boy in Monster World, was published on the Sega Genesis in 1991. The Wonder Boy series is known for its Metroidvania style of gameplay that encouraged exploration and was remade in 2016 with Wonder Boy Returns, released on Microsoft Windows, PS4, and the Nintendo Switch.
Adventure Island was released by Hudson Soft in 1986 for the NES, as a licensed adaptation of Wonder Boy, and is now actually owned by Konami. The last mobile release was Adventure Island Quest by Takahashi Meijin in 2010 but was released only in Japan. But truly, it’s interesting how one iOS platformer based on a popular Nintendo series can be traced back to an original Sega game.
Another example of mobile games that are direct adaptations of Sega classics, albeit not a platformer, is a space-shooter for iOS, Hyperburner iPhone. It is another clear adaptation from a Sega classic, After Burner.
If we consider other genres besides platformers, a clear influence from Sega can be felt even in first-person shooters. The popular Nintendo 64 game Goldeneye 007 was originally conceived as a rail shooter heavily inspired by Sega’s Virtua Cop series, and now we find the influential mechanics of Goldeneye in modern FPS games and even browser-based titles like Shell Shockers IO, which you can play on CrazyGames.
For example, zoomable sniper rifles and gun reloading found in Goldeneye influenced the future of the FPS genre, but Goldeneye took these mechanics from Sega’s Virtua Cop.
Sega also had a major hand in popularizing the zombie-shooter genre, as House of the Dead was released to arcades in 1996, the same year as Resident Evil. However, popular zombie shooters for iOS like Zombie Frontier and Dead Trigger take a lot more influence from House of the Dead, with a more linear-progressive level design and an abundance of unique undead creatures.