Platformer games are one of the oldest and most popular genres of video games, dating back to the early days of arcade gaming in the 1970s. In these games, players must navigate a series of obstacles and enemies to reach the end of each level, often by jumping, climbing, or running through a variety of environments. Platformer games can be two-dimensional or three-dimensional, and they typically feature vibrant graphics, colorful characters, and fast-paced action.
One of the defining characteristics of platformer games is the presence of platforms, which are surfaces that the player’s character can stand on, jump off, or climb. These platforms can be stationary or moving, and they can be placed at different heights and distances from one another. Players must use their platforming skills to navigate these platforms and avoid obstacles such as pits, spikes, and enemies.
Many platformer games also feature power-ups and items that can help the player progress through the levels. These can include items that increase the player’s health, speed, or jumping ability, as well as weapons or other tools that can be used to defeat enemies or overcome obstacles.
In recent years, platformer games have evolved to include more complex gameplay mechanics and a greater emphasis on exploration and open-world environments. Some of these games feature non-linear level designs that allow players to explore and discover hidden paths and secrets, while others offer a more linear experience with a clear progression from one level to the next.
Types of Platformer Games
There are several different types of platformer games, each with its own unique gameplay mechanics and style. Here are some of the most common types of platformer games:
- Side-scrolling platformers: These are the classic platformer games that feature 2D side-scrolling gameplay, where the player controls a character that moves from left to right across the screen. Examples include Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, and Mega Man.
- 3D platformers: These games feature 3D environments and often offer a greater degree of exploration and freedom than side-scrolling platformers. Examples include Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, and Spyro the Dragon.
- Metroidvania platformers: These games feature interconnected worlds with non-linear progression, where players must explore and acquire new abilities to unlock new areas. Examples include Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Hollow Knight, and Ori and the Blind Forest.
- Puzzle platformers: These games focus on solving puzzles and using logic to progress through levels, often featuring physics-based mechanics and environmental puzzles. Examples include Limbo, Inside, and Braid.
- Endless runners: These games feature endless levels that are automatically generated, challenging players to survive for as long as possible while dodging obstacles and enemies. Examples include Temple Run, Jetpack Joyride, and Canabalt.
- Action platformers: These games feature fast-paced combat and a focus on action, often blending platforming elements with other genres such as hack-and-slash or shooting games. Examples include Ninja Gaiden, Mega Man X, and Gunstar Heroes.
Each of these categories has its own fanbase, but as a whole, the genre is well-loved within the community. All that being said, let’s take a look at the top ten best platformer games out there.
10. Hallow Knight
Hollow Knight is a popular indie game developed by Team Cherry and released in 2017. It is a 2D action-adventure game with a dark, atmospheric world to explore. The game follows the story of the Knight, a small insect-like creature who ventures into the abandoned kingdom of Hallownest to uncover its secrets and battle against the various creatures and bosses that inhabit it.
One of the main draws of Hollow Knight is its stunning hand-drawn art style, which creates a beautifully eerie and immersive world to explore. The game also features a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack that adds to the game’s overall atmosphere.
Gameplay-wise, Hollow Knight is known for its challenging combat mechanics and exploration-focused gameplay. Players must navigate through a labyrinthine world filled with hidden paths, secret areas, and difficult enemies. As players progress through the game, they will unlock new abilities and upgrades that allow them to access previously inaccessible areas and take on tougher foes.
Hollow Knight also features a deep and engaging lore that slowly unfolds as players explore the world and interact with various characters and creatures. The game’s story is told through cryptic clues and mysterious characters, which adds to the game’s sense of mystery and intrigue.
Therefore, if you enjoy challenging action-adventure games with a focus on exploration, beautiful art, and a hauntingly atmospheric world, then Hollow Knight is definitely worth playing. It’s a game that has received critical acclaim and has gained a dedicated fanbase, and it’s often considered one of the best indie games of all time.
9. Super Mario World (1990)
Super Mario World is a classic 2D side-scrolling platformer game developed by Nintendo and released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in 1990. The game follows Mario and his dinosaur friend Yoshi as they explore the colorful and diverse world of Dinosaur Land and rescue Princess Toadstool from the clutches of the evil Bowser.
Super Mario World is often considered one of the best games of all time for several reasons. First, it introduced a number of new gameplay mechanics that have since become staples of the Mario franchise, such as the ability to ride and control Yoshi, new power-ups like the cape feather that lets Mario fly, and the inclusion of multiple exits in each level that lead to different paths and secrets.
Second, Super Mario World features tight controls, an imaginative level design, and a memorable soundtrack that all contribute to its enduring popularity. The game’s 2D graphics have also aged remarkably well and still look great today.
Finally, Super Mario World is special because of its longevity and replayability. With over 70 levels to explore, each with its own unique challenges and secrets, the game offers hours of gameplay and rewards players who take the time to fully explore and master its world.
Overall, if you’re a fan of classic platformer games, then Super Mario World is definitely worth playing. It’s a timeless classic that has aged extremely well and remains a beloved favorite among gamers of all ages.
8. Rayman Legends
Rayman Legends is a 2D side-scrolling platformer game developed by Ubisoft Montpellier and released in 2013. It is the fifth main entry in the Rayman series and follows the titular character Rayman as he and his friends embark on a quest to save the Glade of Dreams from the evil creatures that threaten it.
Rayman Legends’s stunning visuals and creative-level design are very intriguing. The game features hand-drawn graphics that are bursting with color and detail, and the levels are filled with imaginative environments, obstacles, and enemies. The game’s soundtrack is also noteworthy, featuring a mix of original compositions and licensed music that perfectly complements the game’s whimsical aesthetic.
Gameplay-wise, Rayman Legends is known for its tight controls, challenging platforming mechanics, and focus on exploration. Players must navigate through a variety of levels, each with their own unique challenges and secrets to discover. The game also features a cooperative multiplayer mode that allows up to four players to play together on the same screen.
Another standout feature of Rayman Legends is its use of music and rhythm-based mechanics. Some levels are timed to specific songs, and players must jump, slide, and punch to the beat of the music to progress. These levels are some of the most memorable in the game and add an extra layer of excitement and challenge to the gameplay.
If you enjoy platformer games with creative-level design, stunning visuals, and challenging gameplay mechanics, then Rayman Legends is definitely worth playing. It’s a game that has received critical acclaim and is often considered one of the best platformers of its generation.
Celeste is a critically acclaimed 2D platformer game developed by Maddy Makes Games and released in 2018. The game follows the journey of a young woman named Madeline as she climbs a treacherous mountain called Celeste. Along the way, she must overcome a variety of obstacles, both physical and emotional, and confront her own inner demons.
One of the main draws of Celeste is its tight and responsive gameplay mechanics. Players must navigate through a series of challenging levels filled with hazards, enemies, and puzzles, using Madeline’s abilities to run, jump, climb, and dash through the environment. The controls are simple and intuitive, but the game’s difficulty gradually ramps up, providing a satisfying challenge for players who are willing to put in the effort.
Celeste also has a deeply emotional aspect and storytelling. The game explores themes of anxiety, depression, and self-doubt and does so with a level of nuance and sensitivity that is rare in video games. The characters are well-written and relatable, and their struggles feel genuine and authentic.
Celeste also features a beautiful art style and an incredible soundtrack that perfectly complements the game’s themes and atmosphere. The game’s pixel art visuals are colorful and expressive, and the music is a mix of atmospheric ambient tracks and catchy chiptune melodies.
Generally, if you enjoy challenging platformer games with an emotional story and a meaningful message, then Celeste is definitely worth playing. It’s a game that has received widespread critical acclaim and has won numerous awards for its gameplay, storytelling, and artistic direction.
6. Super Meat Boy
Super Meat Boy is a 2D platformer game developed by Team Meat and released in 2010. The game follows the journey of Meat Boy, a small, cube-shaped character, as he attempts to rescue his girlfriend, Bandage Girl, from the evil Dr. Fetus. The game features fast-paced, challenging gameplay, with players navigating through a series of increasingly difficult levels filled with hazards and obstacles.
Super Meat Boy is known for its precise and highly responsive controls, which are easy to understand yet challenging to master. As players progress through the game, the difficulty level increases, offering a rewarding experience for those who are willing to invest the effort. Furthermore, the game includes a variety of power-ups and unlockable characters, enhancing its replayability.
In addition, Super Meat Boy features a nostalgic art style and sound design that pays homage to classic 8-bit and 16-bit platformers. The game’s graphics are reminiscent of retro games, while the music is a blend of upbeat chiptune tracks and atmospheric ambient pieces.
Super Meat Boy is definitely worth playing if you enjoy challenging platformer games with a high degree of difficulty. The game’s fast-paced gameplay and responsive controls make it a satisfying experience for players who are looking for a challenge, and the retro-inspired art style and soundtrack add to its overall charm. However, players who are easily frustrated by difficult games may find the game’s high level of difficulty to be a turn-off.
5. Ori and the Blind Forest
Ori and the Blind Forest is a critically acclaimed 2D platformer game developed by Moon Studios and released in 2015. The game follows the journey of Ori, a white guardian spirit, as he explores a beautiful and magical forest filled with danger and mystery.
Ori and the Blind Forest is renowned for its breathtaking art style and immersive visuals, which are meticulously hand-painted with an abundance of color and detail. The game’s soundtrack is another highlight, featuring a stunning orchestral score that complements the game’s emotional narrative and ambiance.
Gameplay-wise, Ori and the Blind Forest is known for its challenging platforming mechanics and exploration-focused gameplay. Players must navigate through a variety of levels, each with their own unique challenges and secrets to discover. The game also features a variety of upgrades and abilities that allow players to access previously inaccessible areas and take on tougher enemies.
Furthermore, Ori and the Blind Forest is known for its touching storytelling and exploration of themes like love, grief, and selflessness. The game’s story is conveyed through poignant cutscenes that delve into subjects such as the importance of companionship, family, and finding one’s place in the world.
As a whole, if you enjoy platformer games with a focus on exploration, emotional storytelling, and beautiful visuals and music, then Ori and the Blind Forest is definitely worth playing. It’s a game that has received widespread critical acclaim and has won numerous awards for its gameplay, storytelling, and artistic direction.
4. Donkey Kong Country
Donkey Kong Country is a classic 2D platformer game developed by Rare and released in 1994 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). The game follows Donkey Kong and his nephew Diddy Kong as they embark on a quest to recover their stolen banana hoard from the evil King K. Rool and his Kremling minions.
Donkey Kong Country is highly regarded for its innovative graphics and visual effects, which feature pre-rendered 3D graphics that were groundbreaking for their time and remain impressive today. The game’s levels are visually striking, with detailed backgrounds and an array of obstacles and enemies to overcome.
In terms of gameplay, Donkey Kong Country is recognized for its precise controls, imaginative level design, and challenging difficulty. Players must navigate through various levels, each with their own unique set of challenges and secrets to uncover. Additionally, the game includes a range of power-ups and animal companions, adding to the variety of gameplay.
Furthermore, Donkey Kong Country boasts an unforgettable soundtrack that features a blend of upbeat, catchy tunes and atmospheric music. The game’s music complements the visuals perfectly and contributes to the game’s overall charm.
If you enjoy classic platformer games with tight controls, creative level design, and challenging difficulty, then Donkey Kong Country is definitely worth playing. It’s a game that has stood the test of time and remains a beloved favorite among gamers of all ages.
3. Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog is a classic 2D platformer game developed by Sega and released in 1991 for the Sega Genesis console. The game follows the adventures of Sonic, a blue anthropomorphic hedgehog with the ability to run at incredible speeds, as he navigates through a series of levels filled with obstacles and enemies in order to defeat his arch-nemesis, Dr. Eggman.
Sonic the Hedgehog’s high-speed, fast-paced gameplay is one of its main attractions, as it allows players to control Sonic’s ability to run, jump and spin-dash through levels at incredible speeds, creating a sense of excitement and thrill. The game’s levels are specifically designed to take advantage of Sonic’s speed, with obstacles such as loops and ramps providing a challenging but rewarding experience.
Additionally, Sonic the Hedgehog’s catchy and upbeat soundtrack is another notable feature of the game. Its electronic tracks and memorable melodies complement the game’s colorful visuals and fast-paced gameplay, contributing to the overall enjoyment of the game.
The bottom line is, if you enjoy classic platformer games with high-speed action and a memorable soundtrack, then Sonic the Hedgehog is definitely worth playing. It’s a game that has stood the test of time and is still beloved by fans of all ages.
2. Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. is a classic 2D platformer game developed by Nintendo and released in 1985 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The game follows the adventures of Mario, a plumber, and his brother Luigi as they journey through the Mushroom Kingdom to rescue Princess Toadstool from the evil Bowser.
One of the main draws of Super Mario Bros. is its innovative gameplay mechanics. The game introduced a number of new features to the platformer genre, including the ability to jump on enemies to defeat them, collect coins and power-ups to gain new abilities and explore hidden areas and secrets throughout the game’s levels.
Another standout feature of Super Mario Bros. is its charming and colorful graphics. The game’s visuals are bright and colorful, with each level featuring its own unique design and enemies. The game’s soundtrack is also a memorable feature, with catchy tunes that have become iconic in the gaming world.
In general, if you enjoy classic platformer games with creative gameplay, memorable characters, and charming visuals and music, then Super Mario Bros. is definitely worth playing. It’s a game that has stood the test of time and remains beloved by fans of all ages and skill levels.
1. Crash Bandicoot
Crash Bandicoot is a classic 2.5D platformer game developed by Naughty Dog and released in 1996 for the PlayStation console. The game follows the adventures of Crash, a genetically enhanced bandicoot, as he sets out to stop the evil Dr. Neo Cortex and his henchmen from taking over the world.
Crash Bandicoot is known for its distinctive gameplay mechanics that blend traditional platforming with exploration, puzzle-solving, and racing segments. Players control Crash, who can perform various moves, such as spin attacks, body slams, and a tornado spin, to tackle obstacles and enemies creatively.
Moreover, the game’s vibrant and exaggerated art style is another notable feature, with each level boasting its own unique design and enemies. The game’s soundtrack is also a standout, with its upbeat and catchy tunes that match the game’s cheerful and entertaining tone.
Crash Bandicoot is also notable for its challenging difficulty level and its replayability. The game features a range of hidden secrets, collectibles, and bonus levels that encourage players to explore and replay the game multiple times.
So, if you enjoy classic platformer games with a unique mix of gameplay mechanics, charming visuals, and a memorable soundtrack, then Crash Bandicoot is definitely worth playing. It’s a game that has become a beloved classic and has spawned multiple sequels and spin-offs.