Celeste throws you into the shoes of Madeline, a young girl who struggles to stay focused on her mission up a mountain due to her anxiety.
This difficult yet forgiving 2D platformer requires the player to pull off some pretty sweet maneuvers in order to traverse across what feels like dozens of stages. You’re going to die a lot but that’s okay. The game always brings you back to the start of the stage that you’re in, letting you try again immediately.
And when you do die, the game pushes you to try and try again. The developers made the game difficult on purpose in order for the player to get a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction upon progressing in the game. It’s a beautiful thing to have in a game like this – not surprising that it managed to get an honorable mention on our GOTY list.
Shovel Knight is a major throwback to classic pixelated platformers of the past like Ducktales and Mega Man (with spike traps and “cane” attacks as well).
The knight that the player controls can use his shovel to attack enemies, dig up treasure from rocks and bounce off of objects by aiming it downwards during a jump.
Since the launch of Shovel Knight from Yacht Club Games back in 2014, there have been way more games sporting an 8-bit or 16-bit art style – they all must’ve taken inspiration from Shovel Knight because that’s just how good it was.
Ahh, can we all just go back in time to the 90s when Sonic games were actually fantastic sidescrollers instead of wonky 3D adventure games with horrid camera controls?
Well, Sega’s throwback to the past with the release of Sonic Mania a few years ago proved to be quite the success with Twinfinite giving the game a 5/5, which is exemplary on our rating scale.
We adored the excellent remixed soundtracks, new stages, polished old-school design, and the excellent replay value that Sonic Mania has to offer.
What starts off as a simple action platformer, The Messenger throws the player for a loop the further they progress into the game, allowing you to time travel between different periods.
By time traveling, the Messenger switches up its graphical style from 16-bit to 8-bit and vice versa.
The game essentially becomes a Metroidvania as well, ditching the formulaic action platformer theme and instead, letting the player discover secret abilities, secret levels, and branching paths.
Gris is presented to us with an awe-inspiring watercolor art style, with the main character reminding us of yet another emotional adventure, which is Journey.
In Gris, you play as a girl lost in her own world, who is trying to bring back color using her special abilities. Gris’ serene and calming story can be played by anyone due to the game pretty much not having any sort of text. Tutorials and objectives are all done visually, which is quite impressive.
Thanks to the melancholy soundtrack, forgiving gameplay, and lite-platforming, Gris is an experience that is hard to forget about, even though it only takes a few short hours to complete.
In this 2D procedurally generated roguelike adventure, you play as a brave knight. But since this is a roguelike, your character will be replaced every single time you die.
It’s not just a random character that takes over for you, no no no. You actually get succeeded by your children, passing your traits to them, in turn, making them stronger than you ever were.
Every child that comes into the new role is unique and can come out with different abilities, different eye-colors, or can even be an actual dwarf – the possibilities are endless.
Guacamelee 1 and 2
In both, Guacamelee 1 and 2, you’re in control of a powerful luchador who is pretty much a superhero in his town. He can punch enemies into the ground, body slam all of their heads in, and perform a very hard-hitting headbutt.
Guacamelee isn’t just about the combat though (even though it’s super fun), there’s also a ton of difficult platforming segments that require the player to use all of their skills in their arsenal.
Like any Metroidvania, you continue to unlock new skills and abilities to progress through past areas that you might not have had access to when you first pass by. There’s always that sense of progression in Guacamelee, the feeling that a new power-up is always in reach.
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
New Super Mario Bros. U originally released on the Wii U during the launch of the system, but now you can have fun with this sidescroller on the Switch, anywhere you’d like.
The sidescrolling formula that Nintendo has somehow perfected still works fine to this day, with Mario and Co. controlling like a dream. The new items and the inclusion of the Luigi-focused campaign with harder, time-based levels, makes New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe the platformer to beat.
You’ll spend dozens of hours attempting to fully complete each stage by collecting all three star coins hidden in each one. The wacky four-player mode can be a bit messy but still has a fun factor thanks to that Nintendo magic.
Mutant Mudds is a simple little platformer that started out on the 3DS and was later brought to consoles. With only having the ability to jump, hover, and shoot, there is little room for error when it comes to figuring out the controls.
But even though it may be simple to learn, Mutant Mudds’ difficulty amps up on the later sections of the game, making for some precision-based platforming that requires you to be pixel perfect and well-timed with your jumps.
You can also jump into the background and foreground of the game by running into special portals, creating a sense of depth that other platformers typically don’t attempt to recreate.
This challenging Metroidvania puts you in the control of a little Hollow Knight who is traversing through desolate and downright creepy caverns with strange bug-like creatures that will slow your progress down.
Since there isn’t a straight and linear path to follow, Hollow Knight lets the player discover and take the path less traveled by. Who knows? You might find a secret item or power or something.
Uncover the secrets of the underground world and get lost in Hollow Knight, just don’t throw your Joy-Cons if you end up dying a lot – I told you it was challenging.
Yoshi’s Crafted World
Yoshi’s Crafted World might not pose a challenge to new players, but instead, you’ll get to experience a lovely crafted environment after environment, full of interesting gameplay mechanics and tons of objects to hit with your eggs.
Yoshi’s signature flutter jump, egg toss, and ground pound all feel excellent in the dinosaur’s newest adventure on the Switch. And once you complete the main story, I hear that there is a secret world full of painstakingly difficult platforming stages, at least for a Yoshi game.
Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze
Even though Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze is a port of the Wii U game with the same name, it still stands as one of the best 2D platformers of all time, and not to mention, the new Funky Kong mode makes the game way more accessible to young ones or newcomers.
These newer Donkey Kong platformers are known to require quite a bit of platforming skills and fast reflexes, but when you complete a stage that’s been kicking your ass over and over again, the feeling is immediately satisfying.
You can also pass the second Joy-Con to a second player and enjoy some good ‘ol cooperative multiplayer. They say two heads are better than one, so if you’re having trouble in the game, why not get some help from Diddy Kong?
Rayman Legends took everything that made Rayman Origins so great and took it up several notches.
Having crazy rhythm-based musical levels, four-player local multiplayer, a gorgeous watercolor art style, and tons of different stages to play through, Rayman Legends lays at the top of the list of best multiplayer platformers on the Switch.
With over 100 maps to play through with secrets to find in each one, Rayman Legends is no slouch when it comes to content.
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse
Shantae the genie uses her long purple hair to attack foes in this upbeat, retro-styled 2D platformer. In the Pirate’s Curse, Shantae finds herself losing all of her magical abilities.
Due to her lacking tons of power, she has to put on a smile and team up with her nemesis, Risky Boots, to save Sequin Land from a greater evil.
You get to unlock some really cool abilities for Shantae’s hair and new fighting moves as you progress further into the game. Shantae is one girl that you don’t wanna mess with, but still, play her game – she’ll appreciate it.