151/365 – Meditation Games #151 – Platformer Training

Developer: Adam Boyne, Kevin Macleod

Launcher Quote: “On May 31st, 2008, Usain Bolt broke the world record for the first time in New York at the Reebok Grand Prix meeting. By running 100 meters in 9.72 seconds, he had achieved a goal many others can only dream of; becoming the fastest person alive. While we won’t all run 100 meters in under 10 seconds, what we can do is consider everything that went into those 9.72 seconds. The hard work, the effort, and the sheer dedication is something we can all look to emulate while striving to achieve our own personal goals. In this meditation, I wanted to reflect on how repeated effort and small improvements can help us to achieve an overall goal. To do this, I’ve created a simple platformer where you have to get across the high ground by obtaining new moves. However, in honour of this record-breaking day the player only has 9.72 seconds to achieve their goal on each run. Good luck and happy meditating!”

Platformers have always been punishing to me even when I was a wee little gamer trying to find out what genre of games I enjoyed the most (and thus trying out everything). I’ve talked about this before during writing about this project, but many of the platformers I played were harsh lessons in being able to get good at the mechanics of jumping, making gaps, being smart about getting around or killing enemies in my way. So it was a real ingenious thing to see a platformer that actually allowed you to put in some progress beyond having to start all over.

The point of this entry is to highlight an amazing athletic feat while at the same time provide a game that showed how that feat may have been reached – through a mixture of hard work, repetition, and focused will. What’s charming and cool and about how this was achieved is through picking up power up abilities in the course of trying to get further along in the platformer environment, meaning you get to learn how to jump farther, higher, and with an additional bunch of moves every time you use up the 9.72 second time limit and you end up picking one up. It eventually allows you to make it all the way through, using your set abilities and what you’ve learn to win, which means that it introduces a kind of RPG-like progression while staying true to its platformer roots.

More importantly, there’s reward for moving forward even if you don’t get all the way to the end. You’re not only teaching yourself like a normal platformer but you’re powering up at the same time when you pick up something that will help you the next go-around. It’s the kind of thing that we take for granted in most games today, which tend to start you over with a little more of a boost in addition to your intangible knowledge. It’s also something that tends to be missing from simple platformers. Blending this plus the message, and making sure that you come away both educated about Usain Bolt’s achievement and how he did it is one of the best of the ways I’ve seen developers present their game in this project yet.

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