Kirby in Kirby and the Forgotten Land.
Image Source: Nintendo

The 10 Best Platformers of the Generation So Far

Talk about a 'Generational Leap'!

The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series systems have been home to thousands of new games, in every genre, in the four years since their launch. Chief among these, despite its perception as an outdated genre, is the platformer. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to dig through all the good, the great, and the amazing, to find the very best platformers of the generation so far.

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10. Sonic Frontiers

Sonic Frontiers
Image Source: Sega

From his days standing toe-to-toe against Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog has had a struggling history. These have ranged from sword-wielding adventures and werewolf-inspired character designs to gritty sidekick titles wielding firearms.

To be a Sonic fan was, for the longest time, a slow slog from one disappointing title to the next. Then, in 2022, Sega took a gamble; to publish their first truly open-world Sonic adventure, Sonic Frontiers.

And Sonic’s snarky charisma had never been as well-earned. Players darted between key areas to rescue the blue blur’s friends and defeat the location’s boss. These key areas, the open-world elements of Frontiers, are crammed full of things for the player to do. The plethora of platforming challenges, puzzles, and minigames ensure that.

“The best Sonic levels have always been those that provide the player with not just a high level of speed, but a high level of fluidity as well … through the open world in Frontiers, Sonic Team has found a way to execute this feeling on a larger scale than ever before.”

Justin Mercer, ‘Sonic Frontiers Review – A Boost in the Right Direction’

Although the jump into 3D has been Sonic’s downfall for the longest time, Sega has crafted an excellent Sonic title and a masterful open-world fast-paced action-platformer.

As such, while Sega’s return to Sonic’s 2D origins in Sonic Superstars was appreciated, make no mistake – Frontiers is Sonic’s next-generation title.

9. Sackboy: A Big Adventure

Sackboy completing a platforming level.
Image Source: Sumo Digital

A game from a preexisting franchise already has a tremendous amount of weight on its shoulders. Add to that the presence of being a launch title for a new generation of consoles, and you’ve got a tenuous situation to be in. Yet, where other platformers may have bucked, Sackboy: A Big Adventure holds its weight – and then some.

Carrying over the undeniable charm and appeal of the LittleBigPlanet world – including Sackboy, the face of the series – the PS5 title is a solid solo outing for the character.

I’ll be honest; Sackboy: A Big Adventure doesn’t reinvent the platforming genre, nor is it astoundingly difficult, or slowly revealing an intricately designed narrative.

But it gets the one thing all platformers need, just right: it’s just a heck of a lot of fun to pick up and play.

Sackboy: A Big Adventure is one of a couple of standout platformers that have launched alongside the PlayStation 5.

Tom Hopkins, ‘How Long Sackboy A Big Adventure Takes to Beat’

Sackboy: A Big Adventure constantly gives the player new objectives to chase, from stage to stage, and its accessible nature makes it a far cry from other, less user-friendly titles on this list. So, don’t let the entry-level difficulty turn you off from – there’s a lot to love in this PlayStation exclusive. Because Sackboy: A Big Adventure isn’t just big in its title, but big in heart as well.

8. Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course

Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course review
Image Source: Studio MDHR

When Cuphead was originally released through Microsoft’s ID@Xbox program, gamers were immediately enamored with its concept, from the 1930s Disney-esque aesthetic to the game’s crushing difficulty.

Then came the 2022 release of the expansion Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course. In it, gamers were treated to more of the polished platforming perfection of the original. Beyond that, they also had access to arguably the best bosses in the series.

“Ultimately, the new DLC is a great example of quality over quantity and is an easy blanket recommendation for any fans of the original game.”

Dylan Chaundy, ‘Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course Review – Bake The World a Better Place’

Fluid, precision-based, hard-as-nails platforming is the name of the game with Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course. Even as the ‘souls-like’ genre is led down the path of over-use, Cuphead showcases why it’s the best-in-class.

The Delicious Last Course proves exactly how the genre’s formula can still be as fresh as it was 15 years ago. As such, its adherence to quality platforming proves exactly why Cuphead, Mugman, and Ms. Chalice should be the ones to lead the charge!

7. Kirby and the Forgotten Land

kirby alivel mall doughnuts
Image Source: Nintendo

While it might not seem like it, the Nintendo Switch has spent a superbly successful seven years on the market. As a result, the excellent sales of the hybrid system has been the platform on which Nintendo has revitalized many of its first-party franchises.

The Legend of Zelda, Mario, and Pokemon have all exploded back into the conversation like never before. In 2022, Nintendo proved that it was Kirby’s time to enter the spotlight in Kirby and the Forgotten Land.

Accessible co-op play, fluid controls, approachable difficulty, engaging enemies, and solid world design can make or break a title. Yet, Kirby and the Forgotten Land manages to swallow all these design principles and seal them with Nintendo’s trademark polish.

“Kirby and the Forgotten Land is easily the best Kirby game that’s been made in the series and is an important step forward for the franchise”

Andrew McMahon, ‘Kirby and the Forgotten Land Review – Kirby Sucks, & It’s Amazing’

Kirby made its fully 3D inaugural debut in Forgotten Land. Through its release gamers were presented with not just a phenomenal Kirby game, and not ‘just’ a Nintendo title, but a landmark platformer for the industry.

Kirby’s 2D adventures were stellar entries and will continue to be cornerstones for the platforming genre. However, in its jump to the third dimension, Forgotten Land trumps them in almost every category.

6. Psychonauts 2

raz running through mind world
Image Source: Double Fine

Microsoft and Double Fine – a peculiar duo if there ever was one. While Microsoft’s name has become synonymous with its struggle to produce quality software, Double Fine Studios is the exact opposite. As such, the news that the studio had been acquired by Microsoft was met with cautious optimism.

Gamers were hopeful that the deep pockets of Microsoft would promise an end to Double Fine’s financial struggles. However, the threat of micromanagement did loom ever closer as gamers worried the studio’s independent spirit might be squashed by the unquenched thirst for titles from Xbox.

However, that reality did not come to pass. Double Fine has reportedly managed to continue developing its experimental style with limited supervision from its new benefactor.

As such, Psychonauts is not just the poster child for Double Fine’s creative vision going forward, but the result of a happy marriage between the two companies.

“Psychonauts 2 is an absolute joy to play. It’s hard to put down not only because it’s a solid game from top to bottom, but also because it’s just so damn charming.”

Ed McGlone, ‘Psychonauts 2 Review – Doubly Fine’

The platforming genre is one which is almost as expansive as the industry itself. Some titles are solely platformers, and some titles place action at the forefront of their experience. However, Psychonauts 2 delivers something else entirely. Psychonauts 2 is a narrative platformer.

It’s a psychedelic proof-of-concept which is a tight and fluid gameplay experience. But it’s first and foremost a narrative journey that you simply cannot get anywhere else.

5. Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart

rift apart ryno
Image Source: Sony Interactive Entertainment

The launch of any new piece of hardware is a tenuous time for the video game industry. Yet the reveal and launch of a new generation is nothing short of nail-biting, as was the 2020 launch of the PlayStation 5 systems.

But every good console needs good games. In Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, Sony was given one of the best, which they released within the PS5’s launch window. An all-new action-platforming adventure from the 2002 buddy-cop-like eponymous duo Ratchet and Clank was what was delivered.

Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart sports all of the hallmarks of a launch title release. It showcased the PS5’s burgeoning tech and presented all the advancements of the new console while being a platformer worthy of its 20-year heritage.

“Rift Apart looks set to push the PS5’s to its limits with instant load times, a swathe of DualSense features utilized, and Pixar-like levels of animation bringing the beautiful, futuristic world to life.”

Chris Jecks, ‘Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart Guide Wiki’

The series’ high-octane silliness is on full display in Rift Apart. From the comically over-the-top weaponry to the quipping narrative from our protagonists, this is a game that doesn’t need to be overly praised. While ‘tethering’ from one area to the next through the game’s portals is impressive every single time, Rift Apart is a title that is quietly confident in itself.

At the end of the day, this is Sony firing on all cylinders – and in recent years that has become as synonymous with quality as Nintendo’s shining seal.

4. It Takes Two

Two characters in It Takes Two
Image Source: Hazelight Studios

In one sentence, It Takes Two is utter cooperative action-platforming brilliance. I cannot truthfully say that, besides one other title on this list, any platformer from this newest generation has provided a smile around every corner like It Takes Two has.

The game follows a mother and father who have become disillusioned with their marriage, and their young daughter who hopes to see them work out their differences. The game may be offputting at first glance due to the heaviness of its subject matter. However, the natural conflict this creates between the two playable characters is superb.

While EA’s 2021 title is a platformer at heart, by the end of the 14-hour runtime the lines do begin to blur together. Compelling friends and family to work together, through natural platforming gauntlets, it’s a gaming tour de force!

“The game’s refreshing gameplay loop and heavy focus on cooperation and timing results in some of the most satisfying puzzling, platforming, and combat I’ve seen in a very long time.”

Andrew McMahon, ‘It Takes Two Review – Precise Cooperative Brilliance’

One player might be wielding a fire-tipped matchstick gun, gravity-defying shoes, or the ability to clone themselves. On the other side of the screen, the second player can control time or swing with a grappling hook.

The density of the ever-changing features of the title can be exhausting. However, at its heart, It Takes Two is just good old-fashioned fun. The only issue is finding someone to play with – although, with how good the game is, that shouldn’t be too hard!

3. Little Nightmares 2

little nightmares 2 co-op multiplayer
Image Source: Tarsier Studios

Little Nightmares II is unlike anything else on this list. It’s not a double-jumping adventure or a platforming boss-rush gauntlet. In fact, it does everything in its power not to be. The Little Nightmares duology of games has a focus on atmosphere and tone more similar to Silent Hill than Sonic the Hedgehog.

Little Nightmares II’s dual protagonists may be appropriately, well, little, but they are heavy in a way classic platformer characters just aren’t. This weight is something that is played with throughout Little Nightmares II; from dragging boxes to solve a puzzle to – yes – platforming across precarious gaps in the floor.

Little Nightmares II is my favorite game of 2021 – which is quite the accomplishment considering how much of a huge coward I am. 

Andrew McMahon, ‘Little Nightmares II Review – Grotesquely Beautiful Fun’

While Tarsier Studios’ title is a solely single-player affair, it has an intrinsic emphasis on collaboration. Starting up the game, you begin to play as Mono, a little boy with a paper bag over his face. However, you are soon introduced to the protagonist of the first game, Six.

Although you are both distrusting of each other at first, you soon learn to rely on one another to cross ever-expanding gaps. This leads to some heart-in-your-mouth trust falls where you can only hope you’ll be caught by your partner.

Little Nightmares is a dark and twisted franchise, which does everything it can to unnerve the player. However, especially in the platforming genre – surrounded by family-friendly games – that alone is a massive difference.

2. Astro’s Playroom

Astro Bot on a beach in Astro's Playroom.
Image Source: Sony Interactive Entertainment

It’s difficult to better yourself when you’ve already achieved greatness. This is an issue that Sony has been struggling with since the release of the PS5. Astro’s Playroom was initially thought of by fans as a cute little addition – a ‘thank you’ for buying Sony’s latest console. What gamers didn’t expect was to receive this title. A game that is not just a generation-defining platformer, but still, four years on, the quintessential PS5 title.

The game excels at showcasing the DualSense controller’s futuristic feature set. In Astro’s Playroom, players control the adorable Astro through platforming gauntlets attributed to all of the PS5’s major innards.

A cutesy marvel to witness, and addictively agile to control, Astro held players by the hand. It then took them on an adventure that validated the PS5’s existence more than any hour-long conference or investor’s meeting.

 “[Astro’s Playroom] happens to be pre-loaded onto every single PS5 console. You can jump into the charming and adorable 3D platformer as soon as you boot up your system, allowing you to experience all of the DualSense controller’s new features.”

Greysun Morales, ’27 Awesome PlayStation Easter Eggs in Astro’s Playroom’

Sony has clearly seen the success of its newest platforming protagonist, and the love the player base has for them. As such, it’s releasing a full-blown adventure later this year in Astro Bot. If it comes anywhere near to meeting the surprisingly large expectations Sony’s built-in bombshell has left, then we’re ready to be impressed!

Honourable Mentions:

New Super Lucky’s Tale

The word ‘new’ has such fragile meaning in the video game industry in 2024. From ‘new’ features being added which were missing at launch, to ‘new’ games which are obvious re-treads of previous titles. However, New Super Lucky’s Tale is a sequel – despite the slightest of name changes from its predecessor, and a new cross-platform release.

A sequel to the Xbox One console exclusive Super Lucky’s Tale, this game was originally released on the Nintendo Switch in 2019. As such, it was unfortunately cut from the lineup of this list – although it did later release to PlayStation and Xbox systems in 2020.

New Super Lucky’s Tale is a retro-inspired 3D platformer at heart. However, the game takes the fluidity of modern platformers and infuses it with designs of the past to create something truly magical.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Ori, the cat-like bipedal phantom of its eponymous duology, is one of the most unique new IPs we saw from Microsoft’s last generation. In the original 2015 game, Ori and the Blind Forest, we saw the creative spark of something truly magical.

In 2020, only eight months before the beginning of the generation, we saw the tremendous result of that nurtured potential. Every system – from lighting to movement, combat, and music – was improved tenfold. However; releasing so close to the end of the last generation, the title was quickly ported to Microsoft’s Series systems to showcase their improved horsepower.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps may not be a ninth-generation game due to the circumstances of its release date. However, it is arguably the very best from the eighth – and definitely worth looking at.

1. Super Mario Bros. Wonder

super mario bros wonder friends
Image Credit: Nintendo

Who else would be here, but Nintendo’s platforming plumber? While the series’ 2D efforts have lagged behind in recent titles, Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a testament to Nintendo’s revitalized focus on fun.

Microsoft and Sony are clearly hot on Nintendo’s heels. Both companies are doing their best to pump out platforming efforts from all angles, however Mario still has plenty of life left in him. Super Mario Odyssey revolutionized the series once again and helped the launch of the Nintendo Switch. Unfortunately, we’ve had to wait for the console’s entire life to be treated to a new 2D Mario platformer.

That’s not to say that the Mario name alone carries it to greatness. Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a new title, not just because it hasn’t been released before but because, in everything it does, it does something different.

“I simply loved playing Super Mario Bros. Wonder and don’t think another game this year has made me smile as much as this one. It … continues Mario’s 2D legacy into the future with fresh design concepts and gimmicks you wouldn’t have seen a mile away.”

Matthew Carmosino, ‘Super Mario Bros. Wonder Review – Platforming Bliss’

Super Mario Bros. Wonder is quirky, fluid, and fun like any other Mario game before it. However, the game’s introduction of the new ‘Wonder Flower’ presents the player with mind-bending, game-changing alterations at the rate of a mile a minute.

These immediate alterations when the item is picked up, can range from visual tweaks to stampedes of enemy characters. Regardless of the outcome, the game is constantly keeping the player on their toes.

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Image of Connor Wright
Connor Wright
Connor is a Freelance Writer at Twinfinite. Hailing from the east coast of Scotland, with experience in the development and retail spaces of the industry, he uses his passion about games and Scottish charm to write features and guides. When he's not writing, Connor loves dissecting his favourite fictional worlds and plundering on the virtual open seas.