Whether in 2D, 3D or somewhere in between, video game platformers are a video game genre that while simple to pick up and play take pride in the fact that they can at times be hard to master. At the platformers most basic level they propel you forward jumping platform to platform, sometimes gathering items, sometimes not. The truth is that if you’re a fan of well-made, expertly designed and innovative platformers with the odd literal pit—fall here or there, you’ll take heart in the fact that there is plenty to go around. Here are our 10 best platformer video games released since 2000.
10. Shovel Knight
Shovel Knight is essentially a love letter to fans of 8-bit 2D side-scrolling platformers (try saying that when your drunk!) that simply understands what made those original types of games such a blast, fluid gameplay. Shovel Knight imposes restrictions on itself on purpose: the lack of voice acting, a chip-tune soundtrack and 8-bit art style that all adds to the game’s charm. For some it might be considered simple “nostalgia-bait”, but it does it so brilliantly you can’t help but enjoy your time with this platformer.
9. Sly Cooper: Thieves in time
A somewhat underrated platformer gem coming in at the tail-end of the PS3 era, Sly Cooper: Thieves in time perfected all of the gameplay and story elements developed in the previous three games, even though it was handled by a different studio. Full of whit, charm and just oozing with style, the game is a time-travelling romp that although linear makes great use of its cell shaded art style and welcome boss fights to satisfy any fan of 3D platformers.
8. Rayman Origins
Rayman Origins arrived to consoles at a time when it was thought that both its central franchise and level format had long since died. Rayman had been overtaken by Rabbids and fast-paced platformers outside of Mario were a dime a dozen. Cue not only one of the most colourful and vibrant 2D experiences ever to grace PS3 and 360 but a video game with some of the most varied and interesting level design, that lets players blitz their way through more levels than you can shake a stick at.
Backed up by a mesmerising synth score composed by Disasterpeace, Fez is the brainchild of passionate game developer Phil Fish who through 5 tortuous years fine tuned one of 2012’s most well received games, solidifying it as one of the best 2D platformers. There is no clear objective in the game other than to collect various cubes which proceed to restore certain sections of the world, but don’t let that bother you. Sit back relax and lose yourself in Fez’s art style and music.
6. Super Meat Boy
Let’s not beat around the bush, Super Meat Boy is a lot of wonderful things, it just so happens that it’s defining feature is that it’s hard. Thankfully this unique sense of challenge which sees the mighty Meat Boy and friends beat you and your morale down into a pulp is what makes that final feeling of accomplishment something worth chasing. Don’t be fooled by its Mario-esque platforming name, Super Meat Boy is the Dark Souls of 2D platforming and definitely one of the best platformers since 2000.
5. Super Mario Maker
The 2D platformer to end all platformers, Super Mario Maker is the ultimate reason to jump in and purchase a Wii-U, providing more than enough value thanks to the prospect of user-generated levels in no less than four beloved Super Mario art styles seen in previous games. You have the opportunity to be as mean or as kind as you’d like by creating your own levels, but if you simply want to relax and while away the evenings into the early hours of the morning Super Mario Maker will never fail to impress.
4. Braid (2008)
Single-handedly kick-starting the downloadable game market as we know it, Braid is the ingenious brainchild of independent developer Jonathan Blow who seeked to weave the idea of rewinding time into the fabric of a game’s play style. Although falling slightly more into the genre of a puzzle-platformer, Braid takes the tried and tested character motivation of ‘rescuing a princess’ to deliver a truly unique and memorable experience wrapped in a gorgeous art style.
3. Ratchet and Clank (2016)
One of the best entries in PlayStation’s beloved intergalactic platforming series (let’s not mention the movie), 2016’s rebooted version of the original Ratchet and Clank truly lived up to Insomniac’s original promise of delivering a playable Pixar movie. Short but sweet in a neat little package that doesn’t outstay its welcome, Ratchet and Clank never ceases to surprise players with it’s interesting worlds, loveable characters and imaginative weapons that make for one of this decade’s best 3D platformers.
2. Sonic Advance
Upon release, Nintendo’s beloved Gameboy Advance was no stranger to a whole breadth of 2D side-scrollers which seemed to dominate the platform throughout its entire lifecycle. Who knew that one of the best examples of this would manifest itself as a return to form for everybody’s not so beloved hedgehog speedster Sonic, in the aptly named Sonic Advance. A thrilling adventure reminiscent of the series’ previous Genesis titles, Sonic Advance is colourful, vibrant and a blast to play in small chunks.
A delightfully whimsical and inventive 3D platformer from the creative minds at Double Fine, Psychonauts was an underappreciated gem when initially released yet has since developed such a passionate cult following that we’ll be seeing a fan-funded sequel relatively soon. In Psychonauts you’ll play as young telepath Raz as he attempts to prove himself worthy of a place at Whispering Rock Summer Camp through expertly designed levels and an inventive story like nothing else out there!