Platform games were plentiful during the 16-bit era. But with their unique ideas and mastery of the Mega Drive, could Treasure’s contribution to the crowded genre be something truly special?
Developed by Treasure
Published by Sega
Released in 1994
As someone who regularly writes thousands of words on old games, I do occasionally wonder if I’m ever in danger of over-analysis. I’m a firm believer that game developers, even thirty years ago, put thought into what they created. Yes, some games may well have been the result of designers throwing things together and seeing what sticks: the abstract nature of the ‘James Pond’ and ‘Paradious’ series are certainly guilty of this. Yet equally there are games where subtle nuances and seemingly inconsequential oddities meld together into a convincing theory. For years many claimed that the game ‘Super Mario Bros 3’ was actually depicting a theatrical production starring Mario. It opens with a curtain raising, stages end with Mario “exiting stage right”, background blocks have shadows and floating platforms are hoisted up by cables suggesting they hang from a theatre’s lighting rig. Some people scoffed at this idea, arguing that theorists were finding a truth that simply wasn’t there. But it was ultimately the cynics who were made to look foolish when, in October 2015, Mario designer Shigeru Miyamoto addressed the myth on Twitter. When asked “Was ‘Super Mario Bros. 3’ all just a performance?” His response was an enthusiastic nod of “Yes”.
6 years after the release of ‘Super Mario Bros 3’, another game took centre stage and was much less subtle about its theatrical influences. ‘Dynamite Headdy’ is a platformer developed by Treasure, their spiritual successor to the incredible ‘Gunstar Heroes’.