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Leeroy ST

Were there scrolling platformers before Super Mario Bros with decent graphics?

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Posted (edited)

Now with computers having the power and hardware back in the day it's clear there are plenty of scrolling platformers before SMB (Colecovision too).

 

But I'm wondering if there are scrolling platformers that actually looked decent graphically that came out the same time as smb (1986) or before.

 

I ask this because despite great graphics in other genres, many platformers specifically seem to have low detail simplified graphics on computers for a long time, which always seemed strange to me, so I was wondering if there were any scrolling platformers that took advantage of graphical hardware before the 16-bit computers started taking over?

 

 

Edited by Leeroy ST
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Posted (edited)

There was the Great Giana Sisters on C64 before Nintendo sued them...

 

 

Though this was 1987...

Edited by DragonGrafx-16
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Montezumas revenge for colecovision in 1984.

It looked awesome and made the coleco feel like a whole new level :)

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I don't think there really was much.  Before we had Doom, Wolfenstein or even Commander Keen, the Johns of iD Software had whipped up (Carmack really) a clone of SMB3 for the PC/DOS environment both to prove a smooth scrolling platformer could be done, and also in some dreamers pitch to try and get Nintendo to let them put the game on PC.  It was a huge deal as coders at that time felt it was impossible to do on current PC hardware and this demo proved otherwise.  Post that engine/game being whipped up, game using the technique (like Keen) started to appear.  Their argument was it sucked Nintendo could smoothly scroll a game around the screen in whatever direction, and the PC was supposedly crap and had to basically move the screen in chunks, or page after page as you hit the edge and wanted to prove otherwise (and obviously did.)

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44 minutes ago, Tanooki said:

I don't think there really was much.  Before we had Doom, Wolfenstein or even Commander Keen, the Johns of iD Software had whipped up (Carmack really) a clone of SMB3 for the PC/DOS environment both to prove a smooth scrolling platformer could be done, and also in some dreamers pitch to try and get Nintendo to let them put the game on PC.  It was a huge deal as coders at that time felt it was impossible to do on current PC hardware and this demo proved otherwise.  Post that engine/game being whipped up, game using the technique (like Keen) started to appear.  Their argument was it sucked Nintendo could smoothly scroll a game around the screen in whatever direction, and the PC was supposedly crap and had to basically move the screen in chunks, or page after page as you hit the edge and wanted to prove otherwise (and obviously did.)

Yeah but this is where the separation of PC and Home Computers begin to become an issue before 1993.

 

Like say Kings Quest, at the relevant time Commander Keen was somewhat of an achievement, on PC, but the 16-bit computers already had plenty of scrolling platformers by the time keen came out. Even before then with C64 and A8.

 

However I'm curious if the older computers had scrolling platformers that matched detail of SMB before or around the same time. Not better (though that's a plus) but comparable. I ask because for other genres you can see the older computer hardware pushed, but for platform games SPECIFICALLY for some reason the genre seemed rudimentary in graphics, at least for the games I know of, which is an oddity. So I was hoping someone more knowledgeable of 86 downward Home computer gaming would know if there are/were better looking platformers. (Or even consoles too but that may be more limited)

 

But talking about PC as you have, yeah PC wasn't the best gaming machine for any genre in the 80's, it only started improving around 89. Smb3 was 90 in us, so yeah unlikely PC could handle scrollers earlier than that. After 90 it could and that's likely what Carmack was thinking, as you noted. Even though PC could do 3D, for example, after 90 it took Carmack to mainstream the idea (along with 4D sports and Aline in the dark) with Doom. 

 

59 minutes ago, stupus said:

Montezumas revenge for colecovision in 1984.

It looked awesome and made the coleco feel like a whole new level :)

Doesn't scroll. (CV BC Quest 1 and 2 do though, but part of the character controls automatically.)

 

However one could argue Montezuma is a so called Metroidvania 3 years before Metroid. But that's another topic.

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1 hour ago, DragonGrafx-16 said:

There was the Great Giana Sisters on C64 before Nintendo sued themhough this was 1987...

So yeah I meant before SMB. Or the same year.

 

I'd think there would be some before since C64 apparently has scrolling built in like the A8, if not mistaken.

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Yep, totally missed the scrolling part lol sorry!

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Posted (edited)

I think one of the side scrolling platformers most closely predating SMB would be Nutcraka by Software Projects (C64 etc). Also games like Snokie, Fred and Frak! could be worth mentioning even though neither really resemble SMB.

Edited by carlsson

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Posted (edited)

BC's Quest for Tires had great graphics for it's time AND scrolling! Pitfall II and Montezuma's Revenge are both excellent platformers but lack the scrolling. The only other scrolling platformer that comes to mind is Mountain King, but it's graphics are lacking and the game is frustratingly difficult.

But now that I'm thinking about it... Would Jungle Hunt be considered an early scrolling platformer?

Edited by EmuDan
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There was Trollie Wallie for the c64 from 1984.

Also great character and music :)

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Part of Jungle Hunt lets you move on your own, while other parts more remind me of Defender, Moon Patrol or perhaps Choplifter, which both are side scrolling but far from any platform games. Wikipedia though lists its predecessor Jungle King as an early side scrolling game, together with Jump Bug (1981) which is kind of a vehicle platform shooter.

 

In the platformer genre, Wikipedia further mentions Pac-Land and Flicky, which both were released in 1984 and thus predate Super Mario Bros. Flicky kind of reminds me of Doraemon (1985) on the Super Cassette Vision, or a side scrolling version of Keystone Kapers.

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, stupus said:

There was Trollie Wallie for the c64 from 1984.

True. I also forgot about Wanted: Monty Mole and Son of Blagger. Both are scrolling in all directions and platform games, but not really the side scrolling kind that SMB represents.

 

Besides those I mentioned before, Caverns of Khafka on the C64 also is a scrolling adventure game and completely different from the Atari 8-bit game with the same name and by the same publisher. But alas it is hard to categorize it as a SMB type platformer, just as little as I would consider Montezuma's Revenge or Pharaoh's Curse to be in that genre even if they would have smooth scrolling.

Edited by carlsson
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8 hours ago, Leeroy ST said:

However I'm curious if the older computers had scrolling platformers that matched detail of SMB before or around the same time. Not better (though that's a plus) but comparable. I ask because for other genres you can see the older computer hardware pushed, but for platform games SPECIFICALLY for some reason the genre seemed rudimentary in graphics, at least for the games I know of, which is an oddity.

I don't understand why you would see this as an oddity. It all comes down to one question: Does your machine feature hardware-based scrolling? The NES has hardware-based scrolling, which means the programmer only needs to manipulate a few registers in the graphics chip of the machine in order to generate scrolling. This frees up the CPU to run a bunch of instructions on each screen refresh cycle, so the programmer can manage a lot of objects on the screen, including collision detection with walls, platforms and multiple moving objects.

 

If your machine doesn't have hardware-based scrolling, then the programmer can either use tile-based scrolling (which usually moves in 8-pixel increments and looks choppy, like Zaxxon, Mountain King or Boulder Dash on ColecoVision) or if he really wants smooth scrolling, the programmer must develop a fancy scrolling engine which takes up a lot of resources in terms of graphic data and CPU time, and run that on top of game logic (collision detection, etc.). It should be no wonder then that scrolling platformers on pre-NES gaming machines would look "less impressive".

 

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Predating the NES PPU, at least the STIC (Intellivision), VIC-II (C64) and I presume the ANTIC/CTIA combo (Atari 8-bit) had hardware smooth scrolling. I know that the TI VDP doesn't, and neither does the VIC-I (VIC-20). There is a list of home computers by video hardware but unfortunately it doesn't have columns for whether scrolling, hardware sprites etc are available. Thus there certainly were candidates to have smooth scrolling games prior to the NES, and as already indicated by a number of entries in this thread - mainly for the behemoth called C64 - quite a number of games implemented it. Perhaps not as distinct, colourful and cartoony as Nintendo made SMB, and perhaps not with the same gravity feeling in case of jumping, but look and you will find some examples of what might come.

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Namco made Pac-land and Dragon Buster in 1984.  They might be the earliest examples of this style of game, Dragon Buster has multidirectional scrolling and didn't come out on home systems until a few years later.  Pac-land was on home systems in 1985.

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3 hours ago, mr_me said:

Namco made Pac-land and Dragon Buster in 1984.  They might be the earliest examples of this style of game, Dragon Buster has multidirectional scrolling and didn't come out on home systems until a few years later.  Pac-land was on home systems in 1985.

This. PacLand was cited by Shigero Miyamoto as a major influence on SMB.

 

 

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16 hours ago, EmuDan said:

BC's Quest for Tires had great graphics for it's time AND scrolling! Pitfall II and Montezuma's Revenge are both excellent platformers but lack the scrolling. The only other scrolling platformer that comes to mind is Mountain King, but it's graphics are lacking and the game is frustratingly difficult.

But now that I'm thinking about it... Would Jungle Hunt be considered an early scrolling platformer?

Jungle hunts case depends of if you consider ropes platforms.

 

3 hours ago, aaron1677 said:

This. PacLand was cited by Shigero Miyamoto as a major influence on SMB

I hear this but have never found out where it was quoted from.

 

6 hours ago, mr_me said:

Namco made Pac-land and Dragon Buster in 1984.  They might be the earliest examples of this style of game, Dragon Buster has multidirectional scrolling and didn't come out on home systems until a few years later.  Pac-land was on home systems in 1985.

It was only on the jp famicom in 1985 from what I see so that wouldn't really be accessible until the west until 87 and 88 from what I can find.

 

10 hours ago, Pixelboy said:

I don't understand why you would see this as an oddity. It all comes down to one question: Does your machine feature hardware-based scrolling? The NES has hardware-based scrolling, which means the programmer only needs to manipulate a few registers in the graphics chip of the machine in order to generate scrolling. This frees up the CPU to run a bunch of instructions on each screen refresh cycle, so the programmer can manage a lot of objects on the screen, including collision detection with walls, platforms and multiple moving objects.

 

If your machine doesn't have hardware-based scrolling, then the programmer can either use tile-based scrolling (which usually moves in 8-pixel increments and looks choppy, like Zaxxon, Mountain King or Boulder Dash on ColecoVision) or if he really wants smooth scrolling, the programmer must develop a fancy scrolling engine which takes up a lot of resources in terms of graphic data and CPU time, and run that on top of game logic (collision detection, etc.). It should be no wonder then that scrolling platformers on pre-NES gaming machines would look "less impressive".

 

Because there are various genres on computers with scrolling or partial scrolling in other genres that all look notably better or as good as NES games, yet only platformers seem to fall short graphically. Sometimes BC Quest 1 on CV can give some of these computer scrolling platformers a run for their money in graphics despite the power gap. And several computers DO have the hardware.

 

CV has no hardware scroll, making it more odd. I'm not even sure the ADAM had it.

 

17 hours ago, carlsson said:

I think one of the side scrolling platformers most closely predating SMB would be Nutcraka by Software Projects (C64 etc). Also games like Snokie, Fred and Frak! could be worth mentioning even though neither really resemble SMB.

That Nutcracka is a pain to find information on but it seems that is an example. From what I can find.

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2 minutes ago, carlsson said:

I was specifically trying to find the date.

 

However it seems I added an extra "C" behind the "K" for some reason, just like in my last response to you. That is why I was having problems finding it.

 

Slow but yeah it's 1984. Curiously, the platform tops and mountain designs are similar to smb, and the grass tops on the brown grid pillars too. I wonder what game introduced the art style since so many platform games used it in the 80s. I originally though that was a style taken from SMB but several platformers present and before it also use it. Even some "ladder" games.

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I suppose it could've been a coincidence, or there was some arcade game with this style of graphics that several borrowed ideas from.

 

In any case, I think it is safe to assume that Shigero Miyamoto did not get any inspiration from a barely known UK game for the Beeb and C64. Besides the scrolling, I wonder about the jumping on enemies mechanism. Of course already in Mario Bros, we have this method of knocking turtles over and kicking the shell so probably it came natural in SMB.

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I thought of it too but arcadia jump bug doesnt scroll like its arcade version does. Which is probably the first scrolling platform.

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3 hours ago, Leeroy ST said:

It was only on the jp famicom in 1985 from what I see so that wouldn't really be accessible until the west until 87 and 88 from what I can find.

Pac-land was accessible in north american arcades in 1984.  The NES and Super Mario Brothers wasn't very accessible in 1985, it didn't make it out to most areas in north america until 1986 or 1987.

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11 minutes ago, mr_me said:

Pac-land was accessible in north american arcades in 1984.  The NES and Super Mario Brothers wasn't very accessible in 1985, it didn't make it out to most areas in north america until 1986 or 1987.

The thread is about home though, and I mentioned 86 or before in the OP addressing your second point. I never mentioned 85 for SMB.

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