The 25 best platform games ever, in no particular order, are…
Notoriously difficult, but Strider was also beautiful and innovative. Sliding through tight gaps, cartwheeling across gaps or slicing opponents with your plasma sword were all done with grace and style. Numerous power-ups made things interesting – and were absolutely essential to progress.
Super Mario Bros. (1985)
The game that made Nintendo a household name and properly introduced Mario the plumber, who’d already made his debut in the Donkey Kong series. Save Princess Toadstool from the evil Bowser – and have plenty of bouncy fun along the way.
Few games in recent years have set tongues and imaginations alight like Limbo, the moody monochrome tale of an anonymous boy in search of his sister. Initially exclusive to Xbox Live Marketplace, it’s now available on PlayStation Network and is coming to Steam on 2 August.
Turrican 2 (1991)
The first Turrican game was received as the finest platform shooter ever – and the sequel was even more awesomer. Tons of innovative, destructive weapons, varied enemies, terrifying bosses and some of the most polished graphics of the era combined with slick gameplay and just the right difficulty level to birth a true classic.
James Pond 2: RoboCod (1991)
The underwater agent‘s second fishy outing was superior to the first in every way, and even added a secondary pun to the title. Using his robotic suit, our slippery hero has to liberate Santa’s workshop from the clutches of the evil Dr Maybe.
Bubble Bobble (1986)
Twin bubble dragons, Bub and Bob, blow their way through myriad levels of enemy-filled fun. Cute bubble-blowing fun that’s even better in two-player mode.
Super Metroid (1994)
This SNES classic is widely considered Samus Aran‘s finest hour. We wouldn’t disagree.
Jet Set Willy (1984)
Starring Miner Willy from the classic Manic Miner, this built on that simple platform formula with perfectly judged difficulty and just enough reward for progress. Despite having less colour than a black & white photo of an albino corpse.
Chuckie Egg (1983)
One of the games that established the popularity of platform games. As Hen-House Harry you had to climb around levels to collect the eggs before the timer ran out or the hens got you.
Super Mario 64 (1997)
This N64 launch title was one of the first 3D platformers and revolutionised gaming with its camera angles and analog control. Luckily it was also bloomin’ good fun, guiding Mario around Princess Peach’s castle (no sniggering at the back) and defeating Bowser.
Flashback was a visual tour de force. The engrossing story of a futuristic secret agent trying to recover his lost memory was made wonderfully cinematic by the super-realistic movement of the main character. It was hard not to ooh and aah when you first saw him pull himself up a ledge or do a wild leap to a distant platform – like Prince of Persia with far lusher scenery.
Donkey Kong (1981)
Whether it was on the arcade machine, the Game & Watch handheld or the NES, the gameplay was supremely addictive. Hours could be spent guiding Mario – in his first appearance – up the ladders and along the girders, while avoiding barrels thrown by the malevolent Donkey Kong. So simple, so genius.
Prince of Persia (1989)
It’s spawned countless sequels and a rather forgettable movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal, but this gorgeous 2D platformer for the Apple II is where it all started. The realistic animation of the hero was achieved using rotoscoping, and the swordfighting was a real departure from the projectile-based combat in its contemporaries.
You’re Simon Belmont, a man with a whip and a mission: to traverse the perils of Dracula’s castle and eradicate various ghouls and monsters before contending with the arch-bloodsucker himself. Tricky and often frustrating, but Castlevania is an essential old-school challenge.
Tomb Raider (1996)
Simultaneously showcased the capabilities of the PlayStation while flaunting the remarkable assets of its heroine, the sublime Lara Croft.
Rick Dangerous 2 (1990)
The Indiana Jones-style swashbuckler Rick Dangerous completed an Indy-style adventure in the first game, and came back with a laser-guided bang in the sequel. After a UFO lands in London, Rick goes all superhero on their alien asses.
Bionic Commando (1987)
For anyone who dreamed of swinging through life in a Spider-Man stylee, Bionic Commando was a Godsend. The title character’s bionic arm could be fired at far-off areas to grapple and swing across gaps, as well as pound enemies into submission. Unusually for a platformer, the hero couldn’t actually jump.
Treasure Island Dizzy (1987)
The egg-shaped adventurer, Dizzy, had his biggest challenge in this, the second game of the series. Collecting a variety of items was key to finally getting off that dastardly puzzle-filled island.
Rainbow Islands (1987)
The sequel to Bubble Bobble saw Bub and Bob in human form, no longer blowing bubbles but producing solid rainbows they could use to dispatch enemies or bridge gaps.
Impossible Mission (1984)
Stop Professor Elvin Atombender from hacking the world’s security computers by infiltrating his robot-guarded lair and finding the scattered pieces of the prof’s password – hacking was a bit more amateur back then. Revolutionary for its use of randomly generated room layouts.
Rolling Thunder (1986)
We’re convinced Rolling Thunder has the best lead character sprite ever. In fact, everything about it is stylish and generously sized – no squinting to see who you’re shooting in this classic scrolling platformer.
Ghosts ‘n Goblins (1985)
If ever you wanted proof that young ‘uns have got it easy, get them to play this. Trying to get Sir Arthur through this epic knight’s tale with his armour and dignity intact is surely one of the toughest gaming challenges ever.
The sequel to Sabre Wulf – we’ll try not to roll our eyes at all this deliberate misspelling – sees Sabreman traverse a castle and numerous caverns to escape the Underwurlde. An old-school classic.
LBP’s sleeve-filling trick was the ability to create your own levels and share them online, establishing an amazing gaming ecosystem that was strengthened by the launch of an equally awesome sequel. And one of the cutest characters ever in Sackboy.