Platform Hero may be a tech demo, but it’s one that offers plenty of fun and creativity
This is one of those games where the score can be quietly disregarded. Platform Hero is so far outside the usual remit of Facebook game design that comparing it to anything else out there is awkward at best. Platform Hero is actually a programming project by undergrad student Scott Curtis that lets users design, upload, and play each other’s 2D platformer levels. Like the handful of other Facebook platformers out there, Platform Hero features simple movement controls that use the WASD keys and one mouse button to fire projectiles at enemies.
Platform Hero‘s humble origins give it a very Minecraft feeling. Though only a few levels are yet completed, there’s a few brilliant ones in what users have already submitted. The level editor lets players include up to 10 screens of bottomless pits, floating platforms, enemies, and stars to collect. The points you gather don’t really have any long-term significance now, but certainly enhance the feeling of playing a side-scrolling platformer. Right now most of the completed user levels tend to be very challenging, but during the test period no levels were encountered that were simply impossible to complete.
The level editor is also very easy to use, which should hopefully increase the number of available levels to play in the future. It has simple mouse-driven controls for creating the terrain, placing enemies, and determining a level’s length. The only part of the editor that is a little difficult to use is the interface for changing the colors of objects. Most level creators to date don’t seem to have messed with it much, aside from creating extreme “Tron” levels that place neon characters against a dark background. There’s plenty of flexibility for creating levels that feel distinct in other ways.
It’s worth noting that Platform Hero controls a little bit oddly by 2D platformer standards, though. The main character, which has a Robin Hood sort of appearance, can’t jump higher than his own height. This was typical in more action-oriented side-scrollers like Mega Man and the Castlevania games, but unusual in the Super Mario Bros. type of platformers that Platform Hero seems to be emulating. The main character also has a lot of momentum and seems intentionally difficult to stop. The more challenging player-made levels exploit this.
In terms of appearance and music Platform Hero is fairly simplistic. It’s also one that lacks for variety at this point in time, with only a handful of enemy and hazard types available. Maps can’t be made multiple screens deep or made to scroll vertically. It’s still a very solid framework that could easily be expanded in the future, when it’s perhaps more than an undergrad programming project.
Even within the current constraints, creating levels can be an absorbing task. Platform Hero is a creative independent game that’s definitely worth checking out.