The best platform games are a great way to get your 2D side-scrolling fix no matter which device you play on. That’s because platformers remain incredibly popular across the gaming spectrum due to their simple mechanics, playful graphics, and nostalgic vibes. Moreover, the genre has been embraced by indie developers and major studios alike, ensuring a huge range of awesome games to choose from.
But– with so many great options to choose from, how do you pick the right one? Well, this article takes you through the best platform games for every major console. We’ve also included platformers with subgenres that range from role-playing to adventure, to puzzle, and more. The result? An expansive list that’s sure to deliver.
10 Best Platform Games in 2021
We chose the following games for our list to give you an expansive range of the best platform games on the market.
1. Rayman Legends
Our pick for one of the best 2D platformers
- Website: https://www.ubisoft.com/
- Platform: Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Vita
- Genre: Platform
- Developer: Ubisoft
- Release: 2013
The fifth installment in the hit series by Ubisoft, Rayman Legends is an exciting platformer that features plenty of adventure. The goal is to make your way through the levels to collect Teensies while protecting yourself from enemies and traps. Rayman Legends features over 120 adventure-filled levels, each with its own unique obstacles and challenges. The game is available on PC and all the major consoles and has been met with critical acclaim by critics and consumers alike.
2. Shovel Knight
Our pick for one of the best platform games of all time
- Website: https://yachtclubgames.com/
- Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, 3DS, Vita
- Genre: Sidescroller Platform
- Developer: Yacht Club Games
- Release: 2014
Shovel Knight is widely considered one of the best indie platform games of all time due to its playful mechanics and humorous storyline. Players assume control of the Shovel Knight as he progresses through levels, taking down every enemy that stands in his way. In the process, you’ll collect treasure and unlock new abilities, powering up the Shovel Knight and outfitting him with powerful new upgrades and weapons. But be careful! The dreaded Order of No Quarter is set on ending Shovel Knight’s quest and will stop at no lengths to end him. Think you can beat ‘em? Check out Shovel Knight today.
Our pick for one of the best 3D platformers
- Website: http://fezgame.com/
- Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, PS4, Vita, iOS
- Genre: Puzzle Platform
- Developer: Phil Fish
- Release: 2012
If you’re a fan of puzzle platformers chock-full of innovative mechanics and action-packed play, Fez is definitely the game for you. What’s so special about it? Well, Fez is a 2D platformer that takes place in a 3D world. The game begins when the main character Gomez is confronted by the breakup of the Golden Hexagon, an artifact that maintains the balance of space and time. This cataclysmic event opens up new worlds that take place from both 2D and 3D viewpoints. Grab your iconic fez hat and travel through the stages, completing puzzles and unlocking the mystery of your world along the way.
4. Ori and the Blind Forest
Our pick for one of the best platformers Xbox
- Website: https://www.orithegame.com/
- Platform: Windows, Xbox One
- Genre: Platform Metroidvania
- Developer: Moon Studios
- Release: 2015
Jump into the breathtaking world of Ori and the Blind Forest for incredible exploration and unbelievable sights. The game features an immersive storyline, beautiful artwork, and a stellar audio track that sets the stage for a grand adventure. Travel across the map and solve puzzles to bring balance and restore the forest that Ori calls home. Ori and the Blind Forest is an incredible Microsoft-exclusive title that offers everything you want in a platformer Metroidvania video game.
Our pick for best platformer on Android
- Website: https://terraria.org/
- Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, 3DS, Vita, Mobile
- Genre: Adventure / Sandbox / Platform
- Developer: Re-Logic, Pipeworks Studio
- Release: 2011
If you’re seeking an action-adventure title that also happens to be one of the best platform games on iOS and Android, look no further. Terraria is a Minecraft meets Zelda type of game that relies on procedurally generated maps for boundless exploration and creativity. Players are free to explore, mine resources, build forts, and more– all to their heart’s content. There is no shortage of secrets to be unlocked, and goals are available to guide and direct players towards new areas. Terraria maintains an active community and the game is continually ported to new consoles.
Our pick for one of the best platformers on Steam
- Website: https://playstarbound.com/
- Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux
- Genre: Adventure Platform
- Developer: Chucklefish
- Release: 2016
Earth has been destroyed. Your fellow friends and mentors back at the Terrene Protectorate Academy are dead. Now it’s just you, drifting through space in a rogue shuttle with no power or fuel. Until a planet comes into view!
Spacebound is a thrilling 2D adventure game that’s fueled by procedurally generated maps and an epic sci-fi storyline. Gameplay consists of mining resources, crafting, defeating enemies, and surviving the night. There is also a linear questline to follow that helps you learn more about yourself and the events back on Earth. Hop into Starbound and see what you can dream up.
7. Hollow Knight
Our pick for one of the best platform games PS4
- Website: https://hollowknight.com/
- Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
- Genre: Metroidvania Platform
- Developer: Team Cherry
- Release: 2017
Following the rising popularity of Metroidvania titles, Hollow Knight was released in 2017 for PC and the top gaming consoles. The gameplay is centered around a knight who goes on a quest to discover the lost secrets about a kingdom known as Hallownest. Assume control of the knight and use your mighty sword to take down foes and unravel the mysteries of the world. The game features a range of popular mechanics including in-game currency, boss raids, and a comprehensive spell system. Perhaps the most noticeable thing of all? The breathtaking graphics that keep you immersed in the vivid gameworld for days at a time.
8. Super Meat Boy
Our pick for one of the best indie platformers
- Website: http://supermeatboy.com/
- Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, PS4, Switch, Vita
- Genre: Platform
- Developer: Edmund McMillen
- Release: 2010
Super Meat Boy is an acclaimed and innovative title that changed the platform gaming scene for the better. In it, players take control of Meat Boy, a red square character that’s on a mission to rescue his girlfriend from Dr. Fetus. The game features incredibly challenging level designs that require precision control over the character, lest he is ground up and forced to restart the level. Super Meat Boy features over 300 levels, with numerous secret areas and boss stages to take part in. The game is perfect for casual players and hardcore gamers alike.
9. Axiom Verge
Our pick for one of the best platformer games PC
- Website: http://www.axiomverge.com/
- Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Vita
- Genre: Metroidvania Platform
- Developer: Thomas Happ Games
- Release: 2015
Take control of Trace, a discredited scientist who suddenly finds himself in a strange land surrounded by an ancient high-tech civilization. Explore the environment and collect over 60 items and powerups to aid you on your journey. Axiom Verge is heavily inspired by classics such as Metroid and Castlevania, but it also borrows elements from the more recent platform and indie adventure titles. The game is certain to deliver your gaming fix, and it’s available for PC, console, and mobile devices to boot!
Our pick for one of the best classic platform games
- Website: http://www.cupheadgame.com/
- Platform: Windows, Mac, Xbox One
- Genre: Run & Gun Platform
- Developer: Studio MDHR
- Release: 2017
Ever wish you could go back to the days of early animation and simple graphics? Well, Cuphead is just the ticket! It’s a run & gun platformer that’s heavily influenced by Walt Disney’s original works, and it features vivid cartoon characters obsessed with exploration. Take control of Cupman or Mugman and fight your way through the challenging stages to repay your debt to the devil. The game features quick, action-packed levels that eventually lead players to a mega boss fight. Do you have what it takes? Check out Cuphead by Studio MDHR today.
What are Platform Games?
A platform game is a 2D video game that’s distinguishable by its side-scrolling or side-view graphics. The genre involves player-controlled characters navigating the environment, often making use of floating platforms that players can jump or climb to. This platform-filled environment introduces many popular game mechanics like jumping, grappling, and bouncing. Combined, it all paves the way for exciting maps composed of various elements and terrains that are ripe for adventure.
The genre itself originated in the 1980s and became a gaming sensation overnight with titles like Donkey Kong and Mario exploding onto the scene. Shortly thereafter, second-gen consoles hit the market and vivid 16-bit platformers continued the genre’s massive appeal. Games like Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario World, and Prince of Persia cemented platform games as a staple of mainstream gaming well into the ’90s.
However, the advent of 3D games caused the platform genre to wane in popularity. All the popular new titles were making use of powerful three-dimensional models, and 2D games seemed to be a thing of the past. To keep up, developers introduced 3D platformers that feature 3D graphics on a two-dimensional plane. This sparked a lot of interest, but not quite enough to save the genre from decline. However, in the late 2000s, smartphones brought platformers back into the mainstream where they remain as a staple among indie developers and major studios alike.
General Thoughts on Platform Games
We’ve written some general thoughts on the history and mechanics behind platform games to offer a comprehensive look at the genre.
1. There are countless subgenres.
Platformers feature an insane amount of sub-genres including side-view puzzlers, run & gun games, isometric titles, and more.
2. Mobile devices have restored interest.
Similar to other game genres, the introduction of smartphones and mobile devices saw the creation of countless new platformers and reinstated them as popular mainstream titles.
3. Enemies lurk just out of sight.
In sidescrollers, developers make use of the hidden areas just out of view to plant nasty surprises like booby traps and enemy monsters.
4. The 80’s and ’90s were a golden age.
The 1980’s and ’90s are considered a golden age for platform games thanks to megahits like Donkey Kong and Mario. It’s estimated that platformers comprised nearly a third of the market share during this time.
5. 3D platform games add a new dimension.
3D platformers integrate both the side-view platformer mechanic with more modern 3D models to create an entirely new and unique gaming experience.
Thanks for checking out our list of the best platform games! Be sure to view our other roundups for more gaming goodness: