I have been basking in the wonders of the platform genre ever since I was a kid. Super Mario Bros. contains some of my earliest memories of gaming and it was the first platform that I ever played. I'd go on to experience the genre deeper with Sonic the Hedgehog, Crash Bandicoot and a plethora of other games. Platformers still remain one of my favorite genres.
Dark Ruins - Ape Escape (PSone)
Monkey business has never been more fun that it was with Ape Escape. It was the first game that required play with Sony's at the time new Dual Shock controller, which has become the standard for all Sony systems. The goal in Ape Escape is to well, catch those monkeys. These can be some crafty little critters. Some of theme even come at you touting machine guns so needless to say, they have no intention of getting themselves caught. One of my favorite platform games, Soichi Terada's music helped me get sucked into the world of Ape Escape all the more.
Betillia the Fairy - Rayman (PSone, SAT)
If you know a gamer that needs to have his or her ego checked, have them play the original Rayman. This game throws everything at you including the kitchen sink. Having said that, even after all these years, the first Rayman game looks and sounds positively gorgeous. Like Rayman Origins, you earned abilities by meeting up with fairies, but in this case it was a single fairy named Betilla, who was given what I can only say is one of the most relaxing, peaceful, soothing themes I've ever heard. I'd actually linger around her after she gave me my power-ups so I could keep listening to her theme.
Boulder Dash - Crash Bandicoot (PSone)
I remember renting the original Crash Bandicoot in 1996 and then buying it in 2000. Playing through the game all the way revealed just how challenging and sadistic it could be. Looking back, I'm amazed that I finished the game, even if I didn't do it 100%. What would become a trademark of the series was Crashing running away from boulders. Unlike Indian Jones, Crash had it far more rough. In these levels you actually ran towards the TV screen so it looked like you were playing the level backwards. The music piece that plays during these boulder assaults make these levels unforgettable.
Voltage Algorism - Pulseman (Genesis)
Never played Pulseman? Hope on the Wii's Virtual Console and download it. It's one of the best Genesis games that never saw a proper release outside of Japan. Developed by Game Freak, Pulseman takes you on a quest to stop your mad doctor father from surprise, surprise, taking over the world. There aren't a great deal of enemies to dispose of in the levels but this game was more about using Pulseman's unique electric abilities to navigate the stages.
Splash Down!! - Ristar (Genesis)
I actually forgot to mention this one when I did Water Themes on Favorite Tunes. Developed by Sonic Team, Ristar shows of some of the best visuals the Genesis has ever seen. The audio is also quite exceptional. Splash Down!! is probably my favorite track in the whole game. The bubble sound effects are a very nice touch. This track was used in the excellent rom hack Sonic Megamix.
Cool Edge: Night - Sonic Unleashed (PS2, PS3, Wii, 360)
Ask anyone what the worst part of Sonic Unleashed is and you'll get the same answer: the Werehog stages. While the Werehog is slow and combat boils down to mashing the buttons, I honestly don't find the Werehog that much of a chore to play with. If you've never played Sonic Unleashed, you may think the Werehog was given some rock themes to more match his appearance. In actuality, the Werehog themes are more laid back and I think these tracks are just as good as the day themes. I've always been fascinated by he spectacle that is the Northern Lights and it was great to see it in Holoska.
Bonus Level - Cool Spot (SNES, GEN)
Cool Spot was one of those rare licensed games in the 16-bit era that actually did not suck. Tommy Tallarico composed the game's music and gave us the greatest bonus level music of all-time. Being in a 7Up bottle bouncing off bubbles was trippy but that bonus level music? I had to make sure I made it to the bonus level after every stage just so I could hear it. Since I know there are people that prefer one version over the other, the Genesis version is here.
Angry Aztec - Donkey Kong 64 (N64)
Donkey Kong 64 soured me on platformers for sometime. It's overabundance of collecting was more than I could stand and after four worlds of it, I'd had enough. Be that as it may, I still adored its soundtrack. Angry Aztec is the token desert world of the game, which just so happens to have my favorite theme.
Castle Lololo - Kirby's Dream Land (GB)
The first Kirby game is easily the shortest. With only five stages, it can be completed in under 30 minutes. But if you're looking for a true test of skill, you can play a much harder version of it upon completion. Despite the game's length, Kirby's Dream Land is home to some of the most memorable tunes of the whole series. One that gets overlooked is Castle Lololo. If you're a HAL buff, you may recognize the stage bosses of this level. That's Lolo and Lala, two characters from another HAL series.
Junk Galaxy - Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)
There are many sights to behold in the vast galaxies of Super Mario Galaxy. But one that never ceases to amaze me is the endless sea of stars in Space Junk Galaxy. There would be times where I would stop and stare out into space while this lovely tune played. YouTube is often filled with stupid comments but Corybean1 wrote one of the most insightful things I've ever read.
"I think it's called Space Junk Galaxy because of the overall mood of the level. It is quiet and lonely. All this debris used to be something; a part of a ship or something significant. Now it is all in some remote, cold location in the universe. This wasn't a happy-go-lucky Mario level; it was slower, are much more fascinating than that. Calling it all "junk" helps amplify a sense of loneliness and abuse all this forgotten debris has gone through. That's what I think Space Junk Galaxy is."
Well said, fellow gamer. Well said.