Platforming games was my first entry into video gaming, starting out with the NES where the first games I played was Super Mario Bros, Circus Charlie and Castlevania and I've liked platformers ever since.
Nostalgia can have a lot to do with everyone's favorite games list compared to what people define as the "best" games overall, either way I will have some odd games that not everyone else has or even played. In my list I have some games that's old yet gameplay-wise triumph most of modern platformers. I do suggest everyone to at least check all these games out and maybe try some of them.
Super Mario 64 DS
Super Mario 64 was a game that was revolutionary for its time. It changed the platformer genre forever of what we could expect a game could be in a 3D environment. It was the first time I experienced how a controller hindered my enjoyment and experience of a game as the N64 controller was a very badly designed so playing it on Nintendo DS many years later was a joy.
This game got released during a time when Parkour had become a trend, especially over the Internet and I loved how this game re-imagined the speedrunner formula of games, as you now play in a first-person perspective running up walls and you gotta go as fast as possible, finding hidden paths and was very refreshing experience at the time.
#10. Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D
I first debated if I would choose this or Donkey Kong Country 3 on SNES, both is excellent games but I felt this game was more true to the original game and felt like a SNES game re-imagined for the 3DS with great gameplay and soundtrack. I would say that the sequel for WiiU "Tropical Freeze!" is just as an excellent game that does improve a lot of mechanics, but I never got as invested or emotionally encouraged with it as I did with the 3DS game.
Originally released on the Wii and developed with motion controls in mind. Me and many others think a platformer should have a good controller as well as a good D-Pad depending on the game. The Wii version has slighty better graphics with higher framerate (which I never noticed) but the 3DS has the 3D mode, co-op and some more levels.
This game was one of the games I held of from getting, but a friend bought it and it looked very fun so I eventually bought it as well. This game is a perfect fit for 3DS where the controls like many great platformer are simple, but its all up to you how to master it as the levels gets more challenging and more complex which even tho the game look beautiful and light-hearted, it's brutal at times.
#9. Jazz Jackrabbit
I grew up with PC gaming but PC during the 90s was very magical time as you got games that you couldn't imagine on consoles at the time and this game, however Jazz Jackrabbit, developed by Epic Games who got inspired by games like Sonic and Mega Man, made one of the first proper side-scrolling platformer games on PC and sometimes called "Sonic with guns" which is quite accurate. It shares great colorful graphics like Sonic games had as well similar 3D bonus-stages. You can tell by many small details that the game was created by nerdy gamers with PC on its mind. The things you collect in this game is; Floppy disks, Microchips, Gamepads and of course Carrots because you're a rabbit.
The story of this game is documented in the manual as well a summarization of each planets etc. which is a bit funny. It's a reference to the "Tortoise and the Hare"; 3000 years into the future and the leader of the 'turtle terrorists' has kidnapped the rabbit princess 'Eva Earlong' in order to create turtle domination. You can read all the lore about each level in the manual.
"When you're a little rabbit, carry a BIG gun!"— Jazz Jackrabbit
The gameplay was excellent for its time. The developers knew exactly how a platformer should feel and probably was huge fans by the genre. This may have been my most played platformer game during the late 90s as my father used to have it installed on his laptop and I installed it on some school computers.
This was one of the first games I played that was in 60fps but with a very fast camera movement so you could tell a difference on lower/older performing computers as it would suffer from screen tearing. It was a very different game experience especially even compare to something like a Sonic game and when you get one of the power-ups 'FAST FEET' the game as well music tempo overall would speed up even more for 20sec duration. So what they did was adding a slow-motion mode for players that couldn't handle the speed (which I didn't knew about until many years later.)
They made a sequel to this game that was drastically different and it shows how far PC gaming had become in just a few years as the graphics was vastly improved, the animations was better, zoomed out camera, detailed backgrounds etc. so in the end for me and others it felt more as its own standalone game, yet a very good game but my favorite is still the first one due to my love the classic side-scrollers.
This was the game that made me take a second look at the PSP some years after it's release. (Both this and the seqel was recently remastered on PS4). This platformer was very different and original from any other platformer a made lot of innovative gameplay mechanics that later would become the norm with a lot of mobile gaming. This game you control the camera tilt with L and R buttons (on mobile that would become you turning the device left or right).
I liked how happy and light-hearted this game was to play. You're a smiling blob that can jump and grow by eating berries and you can use a special ability to become smaller to fit tight places. It's a colorful world with a soundtrack which both is very interactive with the gameplay of you progressing in the game. Your goal is to find as much fruit and Mui Mui making you replaying the stages and is very fun to do so to find all the secrets a level has. There's no real difficulty spike in this game other than progressing trough and explore the levels.
#7. Mega Man
The original Mega Man was one of Capcoms first games on a home console and some of the arcade legacy still exist in first Mega Man game with the points system that was later removed. This game may not be in any way or shape a technical archivement compare to the upcoming five games that was also on the NES but as of this moment it's the most iconic and classic Mega Man game and is the one I've played the most a long side Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge on Gameboy.
This game is about Dr.Light, a famous robot designer but one day his robots get out of control and attacks the population. The evil mind behind this is his old rival Dr.Wily who plans to take over the world. His assistant robot Mega offers him self to converted into a fighting robot, making him into Mega Man to defeat Dr.Light's creations.
What I loved with the original game was the P-shooter, so that made the sequels instantly less interesting as it's more focus on gaining weapons and use them very efficiently. I've continued to play some of the mega man games but the difficulty ramps up fast when the game expect you to use other weapons.
if I was more invested in playing the series and using different weapons as of most playthroughs I've watched, Mega Man 3 would probably be the one I liked a lot more, and is the game I like watching others play the most.
#6. Little Big Planet
This game reinvented the 2D or more so the 2.5D platformer during a time where most others focused on 3D platformers or moved away from 3D platformers into more adventure games in general. These days we see a lot of bad 2.5D games, but some 2.5D games are really great games. This game gave us the creativity to create our own platforming levels, share them with the world, recreate old game levels and made a never-ending fun experience.
The presentation of this game is incredible. It has a lovely art style with your main character being Sackboy, who you can customize. As a light-hearted fun game you can control his emotions with the D-Pad making him happy, scared, angry and sad with some other hand motions making you connect with the little fella a lot more.
The graphics and art style in this game goes beyond your regular 2D platformer, it has 3D depth in levels with great focus and unfocused backgrounds and feels very interactive, has three different plains on depth on the stages and tries to switches between the plains at times automatically. The real physics of this platformer isn't as precise as what you would find in a Mario game so it can take a bit to getting used to in the beginning but at the same time it's a slower-paced game so it's not as crucial. It has a great soundtrack overall and has some songs that is very indie sounding. This is a game for everybody to play and search for levels online to find your favorite level.
The sequel of this game Little Big Planet 2 improved everything and what I and many would argue is the best game in the series, but for me Little Big Planet 2 wasn't the game I went back to play some more, it was Little Big Planet 1 I went back to play and was the game I wanted to play it with others. I went back to Little Big Planet 2 for the user-created levels thanks to the very improved level-creator that allowed you to create mini-games in levels, having bots and what was really fun was a lot of real games was recreated in Little big Planet 2.
#5. Ratchet and Clank
Ratchet and Clank is what I call a definitive modern 3D platformer that continued the evolution of 3D platformers from after Super Mario 64 and other collectathon games. Every Ratchet and Clank has always had great controls, great camera controls, a good balance of difficulty but also story integration. And that's what I loved over Mario games, because Mario games usually was same lack of story most of the times.
Up to this point most platformers such as 'Spyro the Dragon' which Insomniac games had done before lacked proper story telling as an adventure game and Ratchet and Clank changed that with having a good and well-written story which you often found in Pixar and Disney movies but also feature great gameplay, proving that you can have both and still giving you this great gaming experience without suffer as a 3D platformer had made in the past. Other developers at the time also had begun to make the same decisions, such as Naughty Dog with Jak and Daxter.
You're on an adventure with a Lombax mechanic called Ratchet and a robot called Clank. Most of the time you're in control of Ratchet but at times you do take control over Clank in more of puzzle-focused areas. The plot was a bit changed with the remake in 2016 but overall your mission is very similar where you seek down a leader called Drek of Blarg who want to create a new planet by destroying all other plants in the process, along the way you get help from a superhero known as Captain Qwark. A lot of humoristic cinematic along the side that we see in modern cartoon, Pixar and Disney movies, making the story fun and engaging to see what's happening next as there always was some big event waiting around the corner.
The game also included some mini-games such as hoverboard racing and hacking and puzzle-solving with Clank that mixed up the gameplay a bit and suited well for its story integration.
Aside the 2016 remake, there is a HD Trilogy remaster on PS3 that I highly recommend playing.
#4. Super Mario 3D Land
For me who's a lover of Super Mario 3 I was instantly hooked when people kept referred it to a reimagination, a reboot, or just influenced by Super Mario 3. As it stands, it was a modern Mario game with several influences from Super Mario Bros, Super Mario 3 and Super Mario 64, all games that I loved. I never played Super Mario Galaxy/2 due to it was made for motion controls, but it's the same developer who made Super Mario 3D Land so I can see several modern influences that made it a more joy of playing.
What I dislike Nintendo in general is their tendency to implement gimmicks in hardware and games rather than just improving the games with power-ups, suits, story etc. As of modern Mario games, Super Mario 3D Land is what I feel has the least kind of gimmicks since Super Mario 64 where I feel games like Sunshine is good, but could had been so much better without the water nozzle power. In 3D Land you have the 3D mode, but that's optional as you can turn it off.
This game has both 2D plains as well 3D plains and at times in the same level and make a great usage of the game modes. It's a fun experience to defeat Bowser in what is a recreated boss level from the original Super Mario Bros on a bridge.
They did took back some of my favorite power-ups I love and wished more Mario games had more of them such as the Tanooki-suit, P-wing etc. In this game they added back Statue (originally tanooki-ability), but also gave us the Boomerang flower and the Propeller box both which is really awesome.
Sometimes it feels that you have become a bit over-powered with the Tanooki-suit as some level goes from hard to easy, but there's still a good balance of difficulty overall as the game doesn't become really that hard until you beat it and play the stages again against the clock. One of the things I loved was that when you unlock 'Kitsune' Luigi to play which looks more as a fox suit but has same powers as the tanooki-suit the difference being as in many other Mario games that Luigi jumps a little lighter and higher and a bit more slippery to control, which for me that was how Super Mario 3 was and for me that my favorite way to play Mario.
After you beat the levels you can replay all levels as Luigi and beat the time of the levels as well unlock the special world with tons of more levels. Overall it's a really good Mario game. One of the best ever.
Later on they made Super Mario 3D World for WiiU that was more influenced by Super Mario 2, more focused on co-op play and removed the suits and made them into cats which just wasn't for me. What I would had wished for instead was what they did with New Super Luigi U which was the same game but harder and more levels of the same game.
#3. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
Crash Bandicoot 2 was my first Crash game actually I finished and I just love playing the game. There's not much to say about the game that not already has been said over and over how excellent the game is. I still playing it to this date on PS4 and is the main reason it's so high on this list; it's just so fun to play, try to beat your record, try to get some more crystals and so on. I think a huge part of it is that I feel this game has very well-balanced stages, while the extras, time trails and secret crystals is the real hard part.
What made me like the sequel a lot more was that it removed all the rough edges the first game had with a lot better level design. In this game the you have some new moves making the gameplay a bit different end more enjoyable. This is a game that can be very enjoyable and frustrating at the same time.
#2. Sonic Generations (Sonic 20th Anniversary)
This game was a celebration of the series made for fans of the series such as me. This is a game I've played a lot, at least 40-50 hours and for me it was a perfect Sonic game that I had wished for ever since the 90s, and now last year we got a Sonic Mania that was the perfect classic celebration of the series for those who wanted that style.
The stages in the game was picked by an internal poll for employees as well a poll online asking the fans of the series of what was the most popular stages. The stages was divided by the console and handheld games. So to get the full Sonic Generations experience you technically had to buy both games. For me, it felt I got more of what I loved with Sonic Generations rather than a dumbed down version of the same game and stages.
The story of the game is fairly simple (yet a little different in the 3DS version) and looking back at it, it was a good decision even tho it was highly criticized in reviews, I feel it was partly because it's your typical time travelling excuse to create something that other-wise don't make sense. From what we did get is after the events of Sonic Colours, Dr.Eggman discovers the Time Eater and want to use its power by joining up with his past to defeat Sonic. As Sonic is celebrating his 20th birthday Time Eater sucks in Sonic and his friends in and by Sonic joining forces of his past-self they can rescue Tales and their friends by running trough acts and in the end learn that the Time Eater weakness is Chaos Emeralds.
The gameplay of Sonic Generations is what I would define as the best of modern Sonic yet Classic Sonic is more of a preference if you like the modern style and physics or prefer the classic style as Sonic Mania. For me I prefer the Classic Sonic in Sonic Generations as the camera is dynamic and more zoomed-out. The skills, boost mechanics and power-ups in the game was very fun as it added to the speed of the game. For me my most used skill was the double-jump, it saved me so many times as well getting me to hard to reach shortcuts.
For the console release you got 9 main acts that has modern and classic versions of each stage as well several side-challenges. On the 3DS version you got 7 acts and some Special stages. Several stages have references to other classic sonic games that's not from the same level, such as Sonic CD, Sonic 3D Blast, Rivals etc.
The 3DS version of the game gave me more than what I first expected. It felt more of an extension of the console game as this game had new exclusive content, new acts, new songs to unlock yet both Classic and Modern Sonic is playable in 2D. The core gameplay feels a lot like an updated version of the Sonic Rush/Colours games on DS which I thought was very good games. Some people online seem to prefer the handheld version over the console version. So I think if you like Sonic, then definitely give this a try if you own a 3DS.
#1. Super Mario Bros. 3
My favorite platformer of all time, Super Mario Bros. 3. This is a classic game that needs no introduction. Even tho Super Mario Bros introduced us to what a platformer was, I felt Super Mario Bros. 3 perfected the formula in many ways in how it evolved as a game. It was the game that made me not only think of video games as a fun thing, but something I really wanted to invest my time as it was something that stood out from the crowd. Seeing that yellow box was quite special and then seeing the intro screen for the first time was an amazing experience of how colorful and great design it had with the black shadows and animation of the curtain. What's funny is that I never noticed the Tanooki shadow behind the number 3 until 20 years later!.
At the time there was also the Super Mario Bros. 3 TV Show dubbed in Swedish that really made me invest more into the game as you could see how the same patterns, same art style went into the daily life of Super Mario Bros. 3. It was more than just a game, it was a different world which did make connections to the real world in the tv-series at times. I highly recommend you watch it if you like cartoons back in the day, a lot of games and tv-series went hand in hand back then into video gaming culture such as Sonic, TMNT, Mega Man, Batman etc.
The creativity that went into Super Mario Bros. 3 was very impressive compare to the original Super Mario Bros. One of the things Nintendo did that was very creative was the new world map where you don't went from level after level but instead you could take your own path trough the adventure and play a mini-game at times and so on. All worlds has its own theme, all the stages has a their own personality and it introduced many new enemies, power-ups, suits that changed the fundamental gameplay. One being the auto-scrolling stage with the fixed sun that everybody remembers. And worlds like 'Giant Land' is what added a lot of fun to play around in and replaying several of the stages especially when you get the Tanooki or Hammer suit.
Super Mario Bros. 3 does always remind me of the comparisons between the launch games and some of the later games during a console generation. How much developers can push out of a console with the limitations of the system.
I've read and heard a lot of people debating which game is superior, Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World. For me even tho World added a lot of new features and as a kid I played it trough and did everything in that game and spent hundreds of hours, they removed my favorite parts with Super Mario Bros. 3 such as the fun suits, the out of level items etc. And one thing that I never understood was that they added a lot of enemies that did not fit in the same world, example 'Chargin' Chuck' which is an american football guy which was just so odd to me as a european, and I did not know it was balls he was throwing at me, I thought it was a hockey dude throwing pacifiers!