The other day we watched a clip on YouTube called 10 Best Modern 2D Platforming Games by WhatCulture. We like the channel and enjoy its videos, but this list made our blood boil! Super Meat Boy the best 2D platformer in a decade?! The mediocre Braid second?! NOOBS! NOOBIE SCUM! Those noobs got it all wrong, forcing us to rage quit and sit in the corner blubbering.
Top 10 MODERN 2D Platformers!
Once we’d calmed down, we gathered ourselves and realised it was important to point out WhatCulture is noobie scum and we know best. It’s the mature thing to do and we’re all about maturity. As we have a particular love for side-scrollers (better known as 2D platformers), a marvellously inventive genre, we’ve created this list to sing their praises. Hunt them down and enjoy!
10. Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
This endless runner is an unusual take on 2D platforming, but it’s still an enduring classic four years after release (on this very day back in 2013!). Runner2 sees you star as Commander Video and it’s your task, as he dashes heroically to the right, to guide him up, over, around, and beyond obstacles. Sounds simple? It isn’t. It’s addictive, intuitive, compelling, brilliant, beautiful, joyous, and there’s a pulse-pounding soundtrack. Oh yeah!
Like a Studio Ghibli film in game form, Owlboy is a lovingly crafted masterpiece released in late 2016 and seemingly ignored by much of the gaming media. Insulting, really, as this is an absolute gem with Metroidvania attributes, lovable characters, an excellent artistic style, and another glorious indie game soundtrack.
8. Axiom Verge
It’s essentially a reworked Super Metroid, but there’s nothing wrong with that… if it’s done properly. Axiom Verge does just that by the something full and it was created by one man! It’s Metroidvania at its finest with retro run-and-gun sensibilities mixed with exploration, mesmerising power-ups, and one heck of a full on challenge.
7. Super Mario Maker
Whilst Nintendo usually busies itself with 3D adventures these days, there’s still plenty of room for traditional 2D romps. Super Mario Maker is the result, allowing players to create Mario courses and upload them online for the whole world to try out. It’s quite possibly the most bat**** crazy, surreal, mental game of all time and it’s all the better for it! Endless 2D Mario courses? Yes, please.
Although it launched to critical acclaim, Teslagrad has since been swallowed up into a world of nothingness due to the relentless release of new titles. Developer Rain Games has a cult following and a new title on the way thanks to it, which is excellent news, but the Soviet-era tinged poignancy of Teslagrad remains a stunning achievement (even if it is insanely difficult).
This astonishing creation is one hell of a scary experience. INSIDE is a dystopian tale of an unnamed boy in red running away from the state, which ultimately builds to one of the most confounding, surreal, disturbing, and grotesquely brilliant finales in recent memory. It was our pick for Game of the Year 2016 and is already something of a classic.
4. Shovel Knight
The indie title which keeps on giving! Shovel Knight was developed by Yacht Club Games who keep using Kickstarter to fund extra DLC content. There was the brilliant Plague of Shadows add on first, with the Specter of Torment DLC arriving shortly after, and there’s one final adventure on the way for 2018! Put simply, the games are NES-era inspired and the result is 2D platforming at its finest.
3. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
What is it with the games press and this title?! Whilst Destructoid rightly handed Tropical Freeze 10/10, others stumbled drunkenly into a cesspit of 6/10 reviews. Retro Studio’s forgotten masterpiece is a slice of genius, powered along by a glorious David Wise soundtrack as gamers take to an epic scale adventure and revel in the masterful level design. Marvellous!
2. Rayman Origins
Seemingly forgotten of late as it’s a cutesy 2D platformer and, like, that’s for noobs and kids, Rayman Origins is another ignored masterpiece. Flat out one of the best games from the last generation of consoles, the sheer scale of Ubisoft’s imagination is unleashed in this wonderfully vibrant, charming, funny, and challenging adventure. It’s flat out 10/10 perfection and, my word, the soundtrack is beyond belief.
1. Ori and the Blind Forest
A masterpiece of the highest order, Ori and the Blind Forest is a fine example of what video games can achieve. This thing is a work of art: the soundtrack, graphics, story, challenge, and emotional impact are all flat out exceptional. Play with your earphones in and it’s an overwhelming experience, with the music swelling and lovable Ori heading out on his intrepid adventure. Our pick for one of the best games of the ’00s and you may not challenge this statement!
Addendum #1: Dead Cells
Oh, hey! Don’t forget there’s the early access gem Dead Cells which was, positively, one of the best gaming experiences of 2017! It’s mental, it’s crazed, it’s berserk, it’s intense, and it’s brutal. Get this one on Steam, but it’s also coming out on the Nintendo Switch in 2018. Hurray!
Addendum #2: Hollow Knight
After much dithering, we’ve added Hollow Knight to this list. Team Cherry’s metroidvania epic is infuriatingly difficult at times, but also massively rewarding, beautiful, and quite the emotive experience. Buckle yourself in for this one, PC and Switch owners, as it’s a tough old ride, but well worth your perseverance.
Addendum #3: Celeste
One of the first indie gems of 2018, Celeste is a tough but brilliant platformer that’ll test your jumping skills, wow you with its creativity, and dazzle with its SNES era style graphics, charm, and interesting story. It’s available on pretty much everything and was critically acclaimed.