Project Overview

World's Hardest Platformer 2

World’s Hardest Platformer 2 is a skill-based 2D platformer game that builds on the idea of challenge in a way that is not unfair or frustrating, but fun.

The World's Hardest Platformer series started with the idea of, "What if Super Meat Boy was on mobile devices?" Its development was ambitious and tricky, and I initially released a prototype named World's Hardest Platformer on the Play Store. Unexpectedly, the game was an instant hit and had accrued over 50,000 downloads in two months with zero advertising.

WHP had little features and only 24 levels, and I knew I could do better. The goal with World's Hardest Platformer 2 (WHP2) was to create the ultimate platforming experience on mobile devices. I implemented every platforming feature that I could think of, and even an in-game level editor for players to explore their creativity. I worked with several ambitious level designers, and we increased the number of playable levels to a total of 200.

WHP2 officially released June 11, 2014 for Android, iOS, and Windows, and was received with positive media coverage. As of 2019, WHP2 is no longer available to download on the Play Store or the Apple Store. However, you can still download and play it for Desktop. (Keyboard controls: arrow keys to move, space bar to jump). Have fun!

Download for Desktop

Gameplay Screenshots

Game Design

What makes a game challenging, yet not frustrating? How do you make a very difficult game, that is also fun? These were the questions that I had to answer for WHP2 to succeed as a game. Luckily, there were a number of existing successful hardcore games available for me to study the game design of. I found a common pattern between those games; they all had:

  • Consistency and predictability in mechanics. The game should behave in an consistent manner, so the player is can fully predict cause and effect. For the player's every failure, he should be able to deduce or realize what resulted in it.
  • Small levels, and frequent checkpoints. This minimizes the downtime between re-tries after failures.
  • A feeling of progress. Players should be able to feel themselves improving in their skill. Alternatively, having in-game upgrades to progress also works.

The game's design follow these three principles very strictly. In addition, our level design process also took into account how fun a level was.

A secondary challenge of the game design was how to balance the game for both hardcore audience and casual audience. The intended target audience was hardcore gamers. However, we knew that we would also draw a small amount of casual gamers, who should also be able to enjoy the game as well.

The solution WHP2 went with was to add Star Ratings to each level. A high Star Rating can be achieved by finishing the level in a fast time, and by collecting all the collectibles in the level. Hardcore gamers would max out on the Star Ratings, while a casual player would aim to just complete the level. In addition, having a high amount of Star Ratings per World would also unlock the "Hell" (harder) version of the World. This allowed hardcore gamers to quickly access some of the hardest levels the game has to offer -- as opposed to having to manually grind out the level campaign to get to the harder levels.

Postmortem (2019)

Postmortems -- reflections on the design and development of the game -- are common in the gamedev industry. 5 years later after the release of World's Hardest Platformer 2 -- and after maturing a lot as a developer, I'd like to share my postmortem on WHP2.

World's Hardest Platformer was my very first programming project, and I developed it during high school while still learning the basics of Computer Science. It was very much a learn-as-you-go type of thing: I would constantly run into a problem or get stuck on a feature, and then have to do research on how to solve it. However, I don't want to give the impression that it was frustrating -- it was actually a very enjoyable process. I was constantly learning, while also carving out my vision piece-by-piece. Looking back, I actually attribute my love of programming, problem solving, and design to this project.

One of the things I felt I did a very good job on was limiting the scope. Its scope was ambitious, yet also manageably so. I was adamant about creating a full game experience, instead of just another game that felt like a prototype. I ended up deciding on a 2D tile-based bullet dodging platforming game.

I spent a lot of time playtesting the game, and thinking of new features However, one of my biggest failures was I neglected the importance of UI. As a designer now, there is a lot I can critique about the UI/UX of the menu and level navigation system in the game. Even back then, I was aware that the menu system was not great, but I just did not place a high value on UI. The UI is how the game presents itself, and is on an almost equal importance with the actual gameplay.