Every person has, at some point in their life, looked at a tall thing and thought, "I wonder if I could climb that." Swiftly followed by a visit to A&E.
Not to worry, though; these games let you scale the heights in complete safety, blessed with the superhuman athletic prowess that only a games console can provide.
Shadow of the Colossus (2006, PS2)
Sony's eerie, affecting adventure is a true original, quite unlike any other games out there. You're a humble little man, wandering alone and confused for ages until you happen across an enormous and seriously colossal monster. Which you then climb up and attempt to kill with a sword. The colossi are landscapes in themselves, lumbering behemoths that you have to scrabble across, antlike – and while the mechanics are simple and the plot stripped back to bare essentials, it delivers a killer twist later in the game.
Prince of Persia (1989, Apple II/PC/Amiga/Atari ST)
Introduced sword fighting to the world of the platform game, with the player navigating those spiky death pit things and pulling off difficult leaps of faith – only to get run through with a sword on the other side should you survive. The game was notable for its fluid animation style; creator Jordan Mechner used a technique called rotoscoping, tracing video frames of his brother leaping about to create his sprite animations.
Tomb Raider (1995, Sega Saturn/PlayStation)
Before it became more about shooting and pressing buttons quickly, there was actual adventuring in Tomb Raider. It was an exploration puzzler, involving jumping, climbing, hanging off things and general Triple-A athleticism. As well as gracing the world with Lara Croft, the First Lady of video games, Tomb Raider's cinematic action would inspire later 3D platform puzzlers like Uncharted.
Donkey Kong (1980, Arcade)
Another of Nintendo's Jurassic era gaming smashes, this marked the first time its platforming challenge play would captivate the world. You had to scale a single screen's worth of traps and platforms, in pursuit of a big monkey and your lady love – only for the ape to climb to the next screen when you made it to the top. It was all about timing, precision, precise timing and being very… accurate. And precise.
Assassin's Creed II (2009, Xbox 360/PS3/PC)
Every entry in Ubisoft's stab-'em-up series has you scrambling over rooftops and up trees – but Assassin's Creed II really made the most of the extra dimension opened up by its free-running hero. As Ezio Auditore, you could fling yourself gaily across the skyline of the Renaissance Italian city-states, like Batman with an even more swish cape. Assassin's Creed III, with its boring forests, wasn't quite the same.
Spider-Man 2 (2004, PS2/Xbox)
Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can. And with this movie tie-in game, so could you. The first game to truly capture the feeling of being everyone's favourite web-slinger, this third-person actioner let you swing across the concrete chasms of Manhattan and scale skyscrapers, battling criminals including Doctor Octopus and the Rhino.
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