Video games often stimulate the imagination. The gaming doesn’t stop once we shut off our console or PC, and our minds often race with possibilities for games while we are going about our daily lives. Sometimes this manifests itself in new ideas for games we come up with ourselves.
Many modern titles, like Minecraft and Roblox, let gamers flex their creative muscles in different ways. This is not a new idea, however, as the entries below show. The level editors in these classic games vary in depth, but they were all ahead of their time by letting players create their own maps and play them either alone or with friends.
Free Radical Design was made from a handful of developers from Rare. Its first game, TimeSplitters, has a lot of DNA from Rare’s FPS games like Perfect Dark and GoldenEye. One way it one-upped its spiritual predecessors was the addition of a level editor. Making maps was quick and simple, and allowed you to play all the game’s competitive multiplayer modes in them.
Being a PS2 launch title, it was a good way for players to spend their days while waiting for more games to come out on the console. The two sequels also had the map maker, and the third game even featured the ability to make story levels. If TimeSplitters comes back, here’s hoping it still includes a map maker.
Excitebike is one of the few Nintendo games not built around a cute mascot. It is a more traditional extreme sports game where you race on a dirtbike, adjusting the vehicle to best overcome obstacles.
The controls are simple and easy to understand. If you want more out of your experience with the NES game, then you can design your own levels to play. A 3D version for the N64 was also launched with a track editor.
Stunts differs from other racing and driving games where the object is typically to compete against several other cars on the map. Stunts is more about simply achieving the best lap times on the tracks.
True to the name, these maps have some intense loops and require you to drive over hazardous terrain. It had a fairly advanced physics system for the time, making for a realistic driving experience. Gamers can also create their own levels and also adjust the tracks that came with the game.
5 Lode Runner
Lode Runner is not like other platformers from the 1980s, as it’s more puzzle-oriented. Instead of simply reaching the end of a level, you must collect all the gold on a screen before completing a level. Players also have to learn how enemy AI works, and exploit it to solve harder levels later in the game.
If you are feeling inspired by the levels already provided by the game, then you can try your hand at making a level yourself with the level editor. It is notable for being one of the first examples of a level editor in gaming. Even the Game Boy version, titled Hyper Lode Runner, included the feature. Oddly enough, you couldn’t save your levels in this version.
Dezaemon takes level editing to a whole other place, essentially letting you create every facet of a shoot ’em up. You design the backgrounds, enemies, and even compose your own music all using the tools that come with the game.
There’s nothing easy about making games, but Dezaemon was one of the first titles to streamline the process for people at home. The only similar game from the era is probably RPG Maker. Released in 1991, it would be well over a decade before games like Little Big Planet similarly let you create in-depth levels and rules for different genres.
Scalextric is a licensed game based on a popular brand of racing car toys. Some may also recognize this game from its bootleg version, Slot Car Racers. Regardless of which version you played, they all came with a level editor, letting you create your own racetracks before driving on them.
The inclusion of split-screen multiplayer makes creating your own tracks especially entertaining and rewarding, though you might have an unfair advantage if you know the ins and outs of a track when your friend has no idea what is coming around the next turn.
Tenchu lets you live out your dreams of being an assassin in feudal Japan. The first game in the series was launched in 1998 on the PlayStation, which made it a good year to be a stealth fan since it is also the same year Metal Gear Solid was launched.
It goes above and beyond the other stealth game because of its level editor. This feature was not included in the original Japanese version, only the western release. If the series comes back, a new level editor would be a fun addition.
1 Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
The first Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was an incredible foundation for a series. The sequel essentially perfected the formula with smoother controls, the addition of the manual to string together combos, and a park-and-skater editor.
The editor was especially helpful in extending the game’s replay value. Almost every future game in the series would also feature it, including the remake. Other titles had even more customization options, such as the ability to create a trick and a personalized graffiti tag.
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