At least in the US, the ideas and concepts presented in side-scrollers usually center around Super Mario Bros. However, one of my favorite games of 2009 is a dead-simple side scroller called Canabalt, which strips the game down to a single button: press space to jump. Inspired by Canabalt's retro graphics and simple gameplay, I decided to create my own.
I don't have much of it done, but development is proceeding relatively quickly thanks to the Allegro library. Its a pretty simple library that handles a lot of the typical game stuff (loading sprites, blitting, etc.) I'm considering just repurposing one of the examples that already has the loading & rendering code written, but I would rather not at this point since I want to have that learning experience.
The general game plan is to have the player start in the city, where everything is dark and grey, and as they gain speed, color enters back into the world as they start to move into the countryside. As with Canabalt, it only needs one button (forward movement is automatic, the only thing you need to do is jump).
Hopefully it'll be done by the end of my upcoming break.