Side Scrollers – Why They Rock!

Mark Stephens

With this week’s release of Monkeybin’s classic side scroller game Jumpship Thrust Control 2 – for the iPhone, iPad and iPod – we thought it would be good to take a look at side scrollers in general and why they remain popular….then give you our thoughts on the genre.


Side Scroller Basics

Side scroller games are those with a “camera” view from the side of the action where the characters move from left to right across the screen.

They started with the technological breakthrough of using scrolling computer graphics instead of single screen or flip-screen graphics – and this represented a huge breakthrough that helped to herald a new dawn in gaming in the early 1980s, though there were a few side scrollers around before then at the end of the 70s.

Popular Side Scrollers

If you don’t know Super Mario then you’ve probably been in a coma for the past 25 years or so – it’s probably the most famous of all side scrollers and fits into the “platform games” genre, which has been popular over the years.

Double Dragon and Battletoads are other examples of side-scrollers in the “Beat ‘Em Up” genre; then there’s R Type and Jets ‘N’ Guns shooter games that use the same format and racing games like Jumping Cross and Rally X that you may know.

Development of Side Scrollers

Arcade games and Nintendo’s Entertainment System were the first areas to see side scrollers become widespread and in fact Nintendo had a huge advantage over Sega in the early 1980s because of this.

They featured strongly and were developed during the later years of the 80s and throughout the 90s; lately they have become less popular partly because of the advance of computer graphic technology for PCs and game consoles, and particularly the growth of 3-D games where characters can move in all directions.

Also, with gaming going more mobile and being designed for social media platforms and hand-held devices, there is a comparatively smaller share of side scrollers released these days.

However, Nintendo DS and Gameboy Advance still feature these, partly because these hand-held devices don’t have the memory necessary for the more advanced 3-D games.


Jumpship Thrust Control 2

We don’t really like to follow all the trends at Monkeybin; we always loved the old video action games more than the slow-paced social games more common now; that’s why we stuck with side scroller formats for both Jumpship Thrust Control and Seagull’s Revenge.

We feel that they are ideal for handheld devices because they are simple to play and understand, they can still feature awesome graphics, soundtracks etc but without the need for hugely powerful processors, graphics chips, memory or battery power; mobile devices are limited in all these respects, so game developers have to keep this in mind as well as keeping on top of new developments.

With the release of the new version of Jumpship we feel we’ve delivered a top notch side scroller to the world, which is simple enough for most people to play but hard enough to make it tough for even expert gamers to master. All the new levels and difficulty modes make it a vast improvement on the original version.

Can you tell we’re proud of it?

Hope you like it! Let us know!