Pixel-Art Platformer: Mum & Dad’s 70 Year Arcade Game

Jun 17, 2024

I wanted to do something a little different for my parents’ joint 70th birthday, the result was a pixel-art retro game.

“Pat & John’s 70-Year Race Through Life,” mimics the gameplay of arcade classics like Mario, Sonic, and Flappy Bird, allowing players to jump over life’s hurdles from 1954 to 2024, with challenges being a mix of global, local, and personal events. The game was a hit during our family weekend away, sparking a friendly competition and a fai few laughs.

Game Mechanics and Design

The game offers players a choice between two characters: Player A (Mum) or Player B (Dad). The game features straightforward mechanics—players can perform a single jump or a double jump to navigate obstacles. The objective is to jump over as many hurdles as possible, each representing significant life events from the past seven decades.

The game design features buildings and landmarks from my parents’ hometown of Middlesbrough, adding a personal touch and nostalgic element, and the characters themselves are pixel-art versions of my mum and dad.

The obstacles are predefined in an array, making it easy to add or modify events. Here’s a simplified example of the obstacle array used in the game:

1: { year: 1954, difficulty: 5, name: “Born” }
2: { year: 1970, difficulty: 7, name: “The Beatles break up” }
3: { year: 2020, difficulty: 8, name: Covid 19 Pandemic” }

The array can be customised to include various life events and milestones, and I’m considering making the game open-source if there’s interest from others who want to create their own life-event platformer.

Family Weekend and Competition

For their birthday celebrations we had a family weekend away where the game was an open-competition for everyone. It was set up in the living area, and family members could play whenever they had a few minutes to spare. This casual setup led to a family-wide competition, with everyone vying to achieve the highest score.

You can watch some gameplay footage over on my Instagram page.

Unintentionally my blog has become very game-centric lately with the release of my first game Tripleopolis too. There’s plenty more design and development projects for me to write-up, so I’ll be back in my wheel-house soon enough :).

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