What began as the 'infinite runner' gameplay mechanic has subtly evolved to become a great way to turn any genre into fast and efficient smartphone fun.
But as much as we've been enjoying that gradual evolution of the concept, it hadn't really dawned on us that things were changing until we played the beautifully retro styled Platform Panic.
This game takes everything that pixel lovers want in a pseudo 16-bit title and blends it smoothly and harmoniously with this new type of touchscreen mechanic.
Expect a lot of excellent clones in the near future, but for now, get Platform Panic downloading while we tell you more about its shining brilliance.Pixel pushing perfection
At first, and as its name suggests, this appears to be a return to the age-old platform game. And it is. But it also really, really isn't.
Your wee robot drops from the top of the screen and embarks on a flip-screen journey through various devilishly designed rooms while leaping about on the eponymous platforms.
However, you're not faced with tackling an on-screen d-pad here. Your robot never stops moving, so all you can do to keep him alive is swipe the screen to change his direction, and slide a finger upwards to make him jump.
These are the only controls at your disposal and you'll use them to make perilous jumps, avoid spikes that shoot out of the floor, leap over roving enemy robots, dodge missiles, and run out of the way of falling bombs and ceiling-mounted spikes.
It's all very familiar territory that would have played superbly in the days of the Mega Drive and SNES (and a generation earlier, for that matter, or on the home computers of the 80s).
It's appeal is wide and rich in nostalgia for retro gamers of all ages, and that alone should be enough to put Platform Panic on your home screen.
But there's more.Room running
For the longest time we thought Platform Panic was making use of procedurally generated levels. The first room is always the same at the beginning of each game, but thereafter you're faced with very different challenges.
As it happens, and after several hours of heroin-like gaming addiction, we came to realise that these levels aren't actually being generated. Not a huge surprise, given some of their complexity.
But there are a hell of a lot of them, and they're delivered in a completely random order, so it takes some very fast twitch reactions to get through them, since you've no idea what to expect as you head out of the door.
Some rooms even exit from the left, and flip familiar levels on their horizontal axis, which feels akin to suddenly playing left-handed. A great way to effectively double the number of levels, and to really put your gaming chops to the test.
It's this notion that makes Platform Panic so playable. If you were tackling the levels in the same order every time, it'd be very short lived.
But by throwing you a continual stream of surprises and curve balls, the game remains lively and addictive far longer than it could otherwise hope for.
So far, we haven't found the bottom, which is unusual for the infinite play sub-genre, which generally has a hard-hitting yet equally short appeal.
By mixing the classic retro platformer with the new "keep playing forever or until your die" smartphone trope, Platform Panic has harnessed the best of both worlds to create something new, fresh and very indulgent.Free running
Best of all, the game's free, and it's not remotely greedy in its IAPs. You collect coins as you're running around the diverse platform-strewn levels, which can be traded in when you die for a quick continue, effectively buying you an extra life.
Or you can use your coins to unlock more characters, which all give a nod and a wink to famous retro faves. These don't really add anything to the gameplay, but it's nice to swap them about and indulge your nostalgic cravings even more.
Interstitial adverts pop up on occasion between games, but aren't particularly frequent or invasive. These can also be removed with an IAP.
Thus far we've taken a hell of a lot from the free version of Platform Panic without dropping any real coins in the slot, and it hasn't hampered our enjoyment one bit.
So if you're looking for something to occupy your fingers while the family is visiting this Christmas, or you want to recapture the game-filled festive season of your youth, look no further than Platform Panic.