Platformers have been around since the dawn of the games industry. Whether it’s a moustached plumber or a speedy blue hedgehog, the art of jumping and dashing across ledges and bopping on enemies heads is a staple of the medium. There are ALOT of games in the genre, but there are a few that even if you don’t like platformers are some of the best in the business and will be worth your time.
With that said, here are 5 platformer games that are worth your time and money, even if you don’t like the genre. These are in no particular order, and If you think I missed one, feel free to comment below and let me know!
Sonic Mania – The Speedster’s Epic Return
Let’s speed into this list with a game by fans, for fans.
Sonic Mania is a platformer that embodies the classic feeling of 90’s gaming. You play as the iconic Sega character Sonic the Hedgehog and his friends’ Tails and Knuckles. Featuring the classic gameplay and style from the original’s, you’ll be dashing and jumping your way through as you work to stop Dr. Eggman and his robotic henchman the Hard-Boiled Heavies in this celebration of the Blue Speedster inspired by the original Sega Genesis game’s.
This game is a perfect example of nostalgia done right. With involvement from developers in the Sonic fan community, it feels nearly identical to the early games in the series, with a few extra mechanics, new features and ideas, and all the trappings of modern development. I’ve spent many an hour reliving my youth with this entry, and it manages to retain the same fun and frantic experience that feels just as exciting as it did in the ’90s.
It’s got beautiful pixel art that whilst being more polished and cleaner, still captures the retro feel of the originals. Levels are a mixture of classic and remixed stages as well as brand new ones that all feature vibrant and colourful settings with tons of charm and flair. Most importantly, the gameplay is top-notch, with players getting to dash through levels frantically like the classics whilst also testing their platforming skills as three characters all with different abilities.
Add to this the great level design which encourages freedom, an incredible soundtrack, and DLC that adds two more characters, Mighty and Ray. To top it off, there is even additional mode, stages, and animated cutscenes, and you’ve got a stellar game that oozes style, fun, and nostalgia.
Whether you are new to Sonic or have been a lifelong fan, this game is a great showcase of what made the Blue Blur the icon he is today.
Downwell – It’s Going Down
This next entry is so simple, yet oh so addictive.
Downwell is a platformer with a mixture of elements that makes for an incredibly engaging experience. Players control a simple avatar that decides to jump into a nearby well, armed with his gunboots. As you descend you’ll collect treasure, kill enemies and avoid hazards in randomly generated levels to gain high scores and unlockables in this blend of platformer, scrolling shooter, and roguelike.
The beauty of Downwell comes from its simplicity, yet still feels engaging and fun. Its been one of my favourite games in recent years, and it is all down to how easy it is to play and the intricacies you learn as you become a better player. Seriously, I’ve played this for hours on end, it’s addicting.
The controls are easy and precise, with simple movements and attacking that makes the game easy to pick up and play. Linear levels still manage to have varied looks and randomly generated layouts to keep things fresh. Enemies are plentiful and behave in different ways that make for more dynamic and varied gameplay with each run. Upgrades can be found and bought that change your weapons and add skills to mix up the experience, ranging from shotgun style blasts to drone assistance for extra damage. Along with some unlockables, it’s an easy to learn, hard to master offering that is a prime example of less is more.
Those who fancy a pickup and play experience with some great replayability would do well to check out this no-nonsense offering.
Super Mario Odyssey – A CAP-tivating Adventure
We can’t talk about platformers without mentioning the world’s most iconic plumber.
Super Mario Odyssey has players take control of the famous Nintendo mascot Mario. With the help of his new ally Cappy, a literal living hat, must journey across the globe in this 3D collectathon masterclass collecting power moons and saving Princess Peach (again) in a perfect blend of old and new.
Nintendo knows how to make platformers, that much is clear at this point. But Mario Odyssey is the perfect showcase of why Nintendo are the best in the business when it comes to this genre.
The levels are HUGE, with tons of places to discover like a city of skyscrapers to a food-themed volcano. Controls are top-notch, with the perfect amount of weight and precision that gives platforming a satisfying feeling as you wall jump, dash, roll, long jump, spin, and a litany of others. Then we have Cappy, who as well as being a useful attack and platforming tool comes with his ability to take control of enemies and objects, completely changing up the gameplay to suit your needs. Can’t make a high jump? Grab an Uproot with long legs to make up the height. Want to swim quicker? Capture a Cheep Cheep and dash through the water with ease. Or you can just become a T-Rex if you fancy it.
It’s Nintendo doing what they do best, and easily one of the best platformers to release in the last years, maybe even ever. If you aren’t a fan of 3D platformers or the genre in general, don’t be surprised if this entry will likely be the one to change that.
It Takes Two – Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Here we have a co-op adventure that’s so good, it was my pick for last year’s KeenGamer game of the year list.
It Takes Two has two players take control of Cody and May, who are in the midst of a failing relationship who thanks to their daughter and a bit of magic, are turned into living dolls. With help from a talking book and a host of delightfully weird and wonderful characters, players must traverse the fantastical world whilst maybe even repairing their fractured relationship as they try to get back to their normal bodies.
This game is a stellar example of a developer who truly loves the co-op experience. Gameplay is filled with a ton of different challenges that constantly keep you on your toes. Each of them offers unique ideas to overcome whilst giving players abilities and skills that are just as diverse as the obstacles. The story is written in a way that feels original and authentic, with stellar voice acting that brings all the characters to life with humour and depth. And more importantly, the game is a true co-op experience that from the ground up is made to play with a friend or partner, with each aspect of design and story only reinforcing this point, with it all coming together into a truly incredible package.
It Takes Two‘s gameplay, narrative, and excellent execution do more than enough to show why this is considered one of the best games to release in recent years. So yes, you should play it.
Shovel Knight – Platformer Games Bright and Deserving Star
Now we get to the indie darling that carries the platformer flag high and proud.
Shovel Knight is a 2D side-scrolling platformer where players take control of, well, Shovel Knight. This adventurer must travel across the land to do battle with the Enchantress and her minions “the Order of No Quarter” to free the kingdom from her evil grasp whilst also hoping to save an old friend in need.
Inspired by the NES era of gaming, it’s a love letter to the classic platformers of old. With its firm, fair, and fun gameplay, Shovel Knight tests players abilities in a way that feels so damn rewarding. Through intense platforming section’s that needs precision and patience, or in the boss battles that will have you utilising every mechanic you have at your disposal, it never feels unfair. You have some incredible pixel art and music that oozes retro charm throughout the experience. It’s filled with great level design, tones of items for more gameplay options, as well as upgrades and skills to unlock with the treasure you collect on your journey,
Just to top it off, it has also had three additional story DLC which let you play as even more characters, a VS mode, and it’s the first indie game to have its own Amiibo made by Nintendo. That’s quite a sign of recognition.
I could spend hours gushing over this brilliant Platformer and it still wouldn’t do it justice. Honestly, it’s one you need to play for yourself, and I can assure you will not be disappointed.
Think I missed any? Any other games in the genre you think should be on this list? Let me know in the comments below!