Favorite platformers

I'll admit I'm not one much for platformers. Oh, I had great fun with Super Mario Bros. and all, but it took several days of renting a Game Genie from the video store for me to have even the remotest chance of making it to the end and seeing that dang princess rescued. (On the other end of the spectrum, there's this guy.) I enjoy the occasional arcade-type game, but give me a good adventure game any day. Well, except today.

Today is devoted to those select few platformers that I find especially worthwhile, owing to their artistic sensibilities, innovative scenarios, clever mechanics, and minimal levels of frustration (and the importance of that last stat is not to be overlooked).

At Autofish.net, designer clysm presents an impressive selection of games he's created, along with a smattering of art and other media. By far my favorite is the delightful Seiklus, a simple, beautifully designed platformer set in a colorful, low-res world with bright, blippy music. The locales are charming and nicely varied, the gameplay is smooth, and there's even a puzzle or two. There's no one outstanding feature (although if pressed, I suppose I would have to cite the adorable graphics), but everything is well-done and the whole makes an incredibly engaging package.

Brad Borne of Borne Games is the creator of The Fancy Pants Adventures, a humorous, terrifically fun game where you play a spiky-haired stick figure sporting some very bright, flashy pants. The scribble-style graphics are cute, but what really gets the thumbs up are the smooth mechanics. The character is satisfyingly speedy and agile, effortlessly doing leaps and backflips and zooming through a complex, multilayered world with Sonic-the-Hedgehog-esque ramps and loops, and is such a breeze to control that even the most leaden-thumbed player can feel like an arcade whiz. Plus, you can change the color of the pants, which just shows how in touch Borne is with the needs of the modern gamer.

There are currently two "worlds" available for play: Fancy Pants Adventures: World 1 and Fancy Pants Adventures: World 2.

At Nifflas' Games, you'll find a trio of utterly charming games, Knytt, Knytt Stories, and Within a Deep Forest, each a challenging platformer with bitsy, pixellated graphics that are simultaneously very cute and quite atmospheric.

Adam Westerman is the creator of Nevermore 1 and Nevermore 2, a fine pair of flash games with some truly gorgeous artwork. The detailed backgrounds are drawn with unusual care, and the dark, glowing-eyed sprite bounces and floats around them like Princess Peach during her rebellious goth phase.

Shadow Factory is a bit of a strange beast. It takes a bit of doing to figure out how to work your springy cog-wheeled buggy successfully without ending up embarrassingly spinning on your back like an overturned bug, but once you get the hang of it, it's wonderfully engaging. You must navigate your peculiar vehicle through a tangled environment of gears and fans and belts and moving machinery in some kind of grungy, industrial, steampunky, vaguely menacing factory. There's no music, but distant echo-y clangs and the hissing of venting steam set the mood nicely. Good luck -- you'll need it!
Via Brass Goggles.

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