By collectibles, I mean objects that you collect mainly for the sake of collecting them, not to power up. Think coins in Super Mario or bandages in Super Meat Boy.

I've seen a few platformers that do not have any collectibles and it's the platforming itself which is challenging (my platformer itself is challenging), but I think adding collectibles will add extra challenge and re-playability, especially if some of the collectibles are really well hidden. Tradition would dictate that you should have collectibles, as it's a way for players to gain extra lives or even gain points, but that would not be the only reason to have collectibles.

I'm not interested in making features for feature sake. I'm purely wanting an opinion on whether collectibles should be included in a game and what should the collectibles do when you collect enough? Is a simple +1 life fine? Should there be some cool object you get? Possibly should collecting really change something hectic, like collect 100 coins and your character is invincible?

How do I decide if my platformer should have collectibles?

Closed. While I disagree with the closing as according to the FAQ What should be asked game design (level design, gameplay, mechanics, etc). I got some nice pros and cons from everyone. I have updated the question slightly to be more specific.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Whatever works for your game, man. Like you said, if the gameplay is challenging enough, it might be fine not to have any. \$\endgroup\$ – user1306322 Mar 19 '13 at 7:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you look at the mario games... You collect coins for score and also to increase your free lives count... so it's not as if they are purely there for aesthetic reasons right? :) They do have a purpose and it is entirely up to you \$\endgroup\$ – Savlon Mar 19 '13 at 7:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ummm... Super Meat Boy does have collectibles: Bandages \$\endgroup\$ – chaosTechnician Mar 19 '13 at 7:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah apologies, I've corrected the post. \$\endgroup\$ – Vincent P Mar 19 '13 at 8:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Voting to close a not constructive for your title question, the question in your body is essentially: gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/3657/… \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Mar 19 '13 at 13:15

You don't say anything about what your game is, so it's hard to know whether you should or shouldn't have such collectibles.

Some platformers do have additional tokens to collect, and some don't. There's no tradition that requires they be included in a game. What matters is if they fit in how your game should be played. I imagine you're more likely to be able to think of games where there's some sort of reward for collecting them. Some games offer extra lives for collecting enough things, others allow unlocking additional features (areas, characters, all sorts of stuff). If there's a purpose to them, they can add additional replay value or extra goals for skilled players.

The Super Mario Bros. games award extra lives (among other things depending on the title) for collecting enough coins, giving them a specific purpose and a reward. The reward for players skilled enough to collect more coins, is that they earn additional chances in-game. Mario games are more arcade-style gameplay, and the player benefits directly from being able to earn additional lives.

Metroid, on the other hand, does not feature similar non-upgrade collectibles. Your tokens are either direct upgrades (new armor, weapons, etc.) or health and ammo. There are no extra things that exist solely to be collected. This doesn't hurt the game because the game isn't designed around the need for such collectibles.

Both of these series are considered classic platformers, one has them, the other doesn't. The list could go on, of course...

Look at the design of your game and determine what the purpose for collectibles would be. If you think your game would benefit from them, try it.


Definitely maybe.

Good platformers that have collectibles (and how they're used):

  • Nintendo's Super Mario (coins, Shine Sprites, mushrooms...) Very frequent coin pick-ups, with some games featuring collectibles that are harder to find.
  • Team Meat's Super Meat Boy (bandages). Always very difficult to get, but optional to winning. They're still visibly dangled somewhere nearby to tempt you.
  • jmtb02's Achievement Unlocked (coins). Taking it to ridiculousness, as usual. Important but fairly infrequent collectibles.
  • Mossmouth's Spelunky (gold, gems, lost ladies). The whole point is to collect treasure. Frequent game-critical pick-ups.
  • DICE's Mirror's Edge (runner bags). 3D example! Much like Super Meat Boy, in that collectibles are hard to get and optional. However, they are never pointed out and must be discovered through exploration.

Good platformers that don't (and why not):

  • Nifflas' Knytt and Night Sky. Their gameplay relies heavily on skillful platforming. Both games also have a quiet atmosphere, with lots of emphasis on the environment. Collectibles would be distracting.
  • Adam Atomic's CANABALT, where the focus of both the gameplay and art is on escape to somewhere as far as possible. Collectibles would be distracting from the overarching theme. Interestingly, Temple Run has taken a very similar idea, but managed to add collectibles!

There is much to be learnt from history.

It's a matter of game design. Collectibles are common in platformers, but they are not necessary or traditional. Even when they are used, they are used in very different ways as to gameplay.

Use them wisely, if at all.

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    \$\begingroup\$ In fact, LIMBO does have collectible eggs (well, actually you break them). Similar to Mirror's Edge, they are difficult to find. \$\endgroup\$ – Tapio Mar 19 '13 at 10:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @T True that! I've removed it for clarity. \$\endgroup\$ – Anko Mar 19 '13 at 11:55

Placing collectibles in hard to reach places adds an additional challenge to the game, but it's an optional challenge the player doesn't necessarily have to complete in order to progress. That allows you to challenge the player without frustrating them by blocking their progress should they be unable to complete it.

Collectibles can also be used to communicate hints to players. They can "suggest" players to perform certain actions. Look at this screenshot from Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams. The goodies here mark the ideal jump trajectory over a pit. They tell the player "That's how you have to jump":

enter image description here

Goodies can also tell the player if they already were in a certain location before or not (when there are still goodies around, the location must be new). So they are also a valuable navigation help, especially when your level design is complex and you lack the graphic design resources to make each location sufficiently unique.


Would you like to have collectibles in your game? If so, have them. If not, don't.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Or rather "would your players like collectibles in your game?" :) \$\endgroup\$ – user1306322 Mar 19 '13 at 8:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. \$\endgroup\$ – Anko Mar 19 '13 at 15:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Anko You changed the question after this answer was written. Downvoting this answer for having answered the original version of the question instead of your modified one (which hadn't even been written yet) seems a little unfair. \$\endgroup\$ – Trevor Powell Mar 19 '13 at 21:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Trevor I didn't downvote and my comment was auto-generated by a review queue action. I tried hard not to change the question with my edit. I'm sorry if I've caused misunderstanding. \$\endgroup\$ – Anko Mar 19 '13 at 22:13

If you are looking into designing the platformer, consider other parts of platformer design too, as mentioned in this blog post:


Collectibles arent necessary in platformers. They are a choice decision by the game designer, in the overall design of the platformer gameplay.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the link. Thats a hefty read, but really thorough. \$\endgroup\$ – Vincent P Mar 19 '13 at 8:17

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