Platformers are one of the oldest gaming traditions, and though their initial golden age is over, they’ve had something of a resurgence lately.
The definition of a platformer is spotty at best, so there may be some contentious picks here, too. MetroidVania style games count, as do 3D roaming platformers, and obviously the classic 2D efforts as well.
To keep the list varied and stop a Mario monopoly forming, I'm limiting entries to one title per franchise. There are so many brilliant titles around, but a lot of them get suffocated by the brilliance of Nintendo's flagship mascot. The Italian plumber obviously does feature here, but it only seemed fair to give others a slice of spotlight alongside.
Ostensibly more relaxing, casual games than blood-soaked first person shooters, platformers can turn your palms sweaty and your knuckles white. Whether it’s a ledge you keep missing, a projectile you can’t dodge or just that one crate you’ve missed somewhere, this genre brings out the perfectionist in all of us.
A staple of gaming since its early days, modern platformers are pushing boundaries in new and inventive ways, but is this enough to knock the classics off the top of the list?
Limbo is one of the most atmospheric games, and while its lack of plot, abrupt ending and simplistic style might stop it from climbing any higher, it’s still a wonderful game worthy of recognition. As much a piece of art as it is a platformer, Limbo is beautifully eerie.
Minimalism at its finest, Limbo sees you control a simplistically designed boy against a black and white backdrop. Moving left to right, you must solve puzzles and flee chasing animals, with little to no explanation given but survival.
The act of ripping legs off a spider repeats itself throughout the game, with again no real explanation. It’s somewhat similar to a platform boss, in that the attacks initially make the beast stronger and angrier, before you eventually defeat it. Others have interpreted the player character to be the villain though, invading this spider’s home just to torture it.
It’s the feeling and presentation of Limbo which really makes it stand out. Plenty of indie games come and go with decent mechanics, clever puzzles and simple controls used to their full extent. Limbo though climbs above them through virtue of its resonance; a mean feat for a game as basic as this.