Originals

10 Best Platformer Games

This list can give players a good idea of what to play if they are looking for a great platformer game to sink their teeth into.

July 31, 2022

Platformers are known for mechanics that feel as smooth as a bird idling in the air. They take players into worlds that captivate their imaginations. Platformers, like symbiotic beings, are also constantly changing in ways that shape and help to restructure future platformers.

In this list, there will only be one game from each series that appears. This ensures that many different titles get the recognition that they deserve. Some of the games are the best mechanically, but other titles will be those that have paved the path of platformers years after their creation.

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10/10 30XX

30XX is a real hidden gem. It’s an ode to Megaman games but with a roguelike twist that makes for endless hours of replayability. The game has two characters to choose from: one, Nina, that’s reminiscent of Megaman, and another, Ace, that plays like Zero from the Megaman series.

As players scour through 30XX they find different augments that are exclusive to the character they’re playing. The 8 worlds are gorgeous and play like reimagined Megaman worlds each with its own mini-boss and main boss. The biggest problem with this game is that Nina’s augments feel dry and enemy variety is sparse.

9/10 LittleBigPlanet

LittleBigPlanet was a pleasant surprise when it came to the PlayStation 3. It was a physics-based puzzle platformer with a lot to offer. Weaved into each level are tons of collectibles to get that range from stickers, player cosmetics, and materials that players can use when creating their levels. 

Online level creation is something that gamers are used to now, but LittleBigPlanet was partially responsible for its start. It’s not that LittleBigPlanet was the first game that had level editing available. The tools that the game provided were sharp and LittleBigPlanet’s story levels were designed by the developers using the materials players could collect which showed the community what was possible and caused a creative push for an endless amount of quality community-based content. Sadly, the servers were closed down for good last October and the gameplay is a little dated.

8/10 A Hat in Time

A Hat in Time is all-around quirky in its story and style. The game centers around Hat Kid, a little alien girl wearing a top hat, trying to return to her home planet. In terms of its platforming mechanics, it offers much that’s reminiscent of old-school platform games while providing refined mechanics. A Hat in Time provides missions that are unique to each of the worlds in which the mission takes place. 

There are tight time-based missions, missions that feel like survival horror, and missions that center around the game’s hat mechanics.  Collecting collectibles known as yarn allow the players to craft new hats with new abilities. While the game is cute and fun it doesn’t offer anything completely different and rather focuses on having clean precise controls and enticing settings.

7/10 Super Meat Boy

Super Meat Boy is the hardest game on this list but also one of the most satisfying. The controls are simple as all a player can do is run and jump. Along with the controls, the player only has one life per level which makes the game unforgiving. The simplicity of the controls allows for the level design to do most of the talking.

There are 6 main worlds with many levels and challenges. In one world the game introduces buzzsaws then, in another, it’s shooting black demons at the player that explodes into eight other black demons when they hit a surface. All gamers who want to be challenged should try Super Meat Boy. Players that want something more laidback and calm should probably stay very far away. Its strict learning curve is really all that holds this game back.

6/10 Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time did a great job at redesigning the Crash Bandicoot brand. The developer, Toys For Bob, succeed in keeping a lot of the core mechanics that the original games had. They also ensure that new mechanics were implemented skillfully with the addition of quantum masks that grant Crash different abilities.

The game offers areas that are varied in style and platforming structure such as the post-apocalyptic Hazardous Waste dimension and the blossoming Tranquility Falls dimension. Crash Bandicoot 4 is an amazing platformer, but, as a predominantly linear platformer, the game’s mechanics aren’t as interesting as other titles.

5/10 Ratchet and Clank (2016)

The Ratchet and Clank remake has all the original had to offer along with updated graphics. The worlds pop with gorgeous scenery in every direction. Its gameplay feels like a never-ending loop of vibrant chaos. There is constant action on the screen as robots explode around players turning into hundreds of bolts.

The weapons are extremely impressive and, while many share qualities with the original game, they are unique to this 2016 remake. There’s the Grooviton that shoots a disco ball, a Pixelizer that disintegrates enemies into pixels, and so much more. Ratchet and Clank is a treat, but the change in its original storyline to have it resemble that of the movie that came out the same year makes it kind of bitter-sweet.

4/10 Super Mario 64

For a game that’s over 25 years old, Super Mario 64 still manages to hold up against any modern platformer. Though Super Mario 64 was not the first 3D platformer to exist, it paved the path for what modern-day platformers include. It created the emphasis on collectibles being used as the means to unlocking new worlds that most modern-day 3D platformers use. Super Mario 64 allowed players to traverse a mansion that left them with curiosity through the opening of each door. 

The way a player accesses levels by having Mario go into paintings that are hidden around the mansion is in itself symbolic of the art that each world brings when it’s discovered. It’s not that this game is the most mechanically sound Mario game but that it’s the most genre transformative.

3/10 Fez

Fez is about the protagonist, Gomez, living in a two-dimensional (2D) world until he witnesses the breaking of a cube and the tearing of space and time. He receives a Fez hat from the sky and is then able to see the world as being three-dimensional (3D). If this sounds mind-boggling that’s because it is and that’s also the baffling basis of Fez’s gameplay.

Fez allows players to move its 8-bit areas in a 90-degree motion while exploring each 90-degree angle with 2D movements. This allows for a confounding 2D experience in a 3D world. The areas are vast intricate works of art full of secrets. Collecting pieces of the broken cube unlocks new areas–this keeps players continuing to play in the search for the next piece of mystical eye candy.

2/10 Psychonauts 2

Psychonauts 2 takes what Psychonauts presented, revamps it, and creates an immeasurably profound experience. The game’s plot focuses on the protagonist, Razputin, helping the characters of the game heal from a shared traumatic experience. Psychonauts 2 has sensitive subject matter yet humor is flavorfully sprinkled throughout.  

Psychonauts 2 is touching and with its story come levels that are as vibrant in design as the game’s writing. Each level is unfamiliar and strange but marvelous. The abilities are similar to those in the original game but upgradeable. Every enemy type has a specific ability that defeats it, so all of the abilities feel useful unlike in the original. The movement is also as clean as ever adding hours of platforming fun. Psychonauts 2 takes everything its masterpiece of a predecessor did and manages to come off a cut above.

1/10 Banjo-Kazooie

Though Super Mario 64 was Banjo-Kazooie’s Nintendo 64 predecessor and changed the trajectory of the 3D platforming genre, Banjo-Kazooie continues to be one of a kind in its presentation and playstyle.

The amount of pleasantly introduced movement options that feel great in this game varies drastically. One of the game’s main mechanics uses Mumbo, a shaman, to transform Banjo and Kazooie into different forms that fit their environment like an ant that can climb up different surfaces. Everything from the cute characters to the pleasant sound design–everything from music and dialogue–feels perfect. Even the swimming levels the game has, though challenging, feel fair. This is a platforming experience that’ll create a nostalgic aroma in new players and reignite the one in fans.

Originals
Elias Rodriguez
@dokidarth

Elias Rodriguez graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in English and got his Master's Degree in Secondary English while serving two years in Teach for America--a program to help children in low-income communities get educational equity. He is an Evergreen Article Specialist with a love for video games spanning all of the genres. Elias began playing video games on the Nintendo 64 when he was four years old and has devoted much of his life to different gaming pursuits since then. From High School into his adult years, he's made skits and reviews on different games that he's loved. Once he finished his Teach for America Corps time and a third year of teaching, he decided to follow his dreams and make video games his work which is what led him to DualShockers.

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