We’re inundated with games that play on retro nostalgia these days, but surprisingly, not many developers have tried emulating the game design of one of the most famous: Sonic. Freedom Planet does just that, with momentum platforming heavily inspired by the blue blur. In fact, it originated as a Sonic made fan game, but then became its own franchise. There are all the hallmarks of Sonic packed in its accomplished levels, with a host of cartoony characters that execute similar abilities like spinning and wall jumping. If you’ve just come from Sonic Mania, give this one a go.
Guacamelee is heavily inspired by iconic games of yesteryear, but it does more than enough to forge its own legacy. The game’s charming art style, memorable characters, and oodles of charm make this a must-play side-scroller. Part Metroidvania 2D exploration game, and part action-platformer, Guacamelee is a complete joy to play. You can even have a buddy join you for cooperative play if that’s your thing.
Spelunky challenges players to navigate its myriad of randomly generated levels, full of traps and treasures, beckoning you to keep playing to see what interesting loot lies ahead. Progress is always earned in Spelunky, with ever-present danger lurking around every corner. The design of the game is incredibly flexible. It never tells you where you can or can’t go, and a destructible environment and multiple routes give you an endless freedom to explore its hive-like caves. You could sink hours and hours into this brilliant side-scroller.
Rogue Legacy is a nostalgic re imaging of past classics like Castlevania, but it puts a new spin on the formula by adding rogue-like elements. Each time you die, your character is gone for good but his off spring continues the quest. Although the castle environment resets, your collected gold is passed down the family tree for you to upgrade him. Gameplay itself is an excellent blend of platforming and role-playing. Rogue Legacy really encourages you to experiment with your character builds and adapt your style with each run. It’s a truly innovative title in a saturated genre.
Mark of the Ninja’s measured stealth gameplay is quite the departure from the fast pace of something like Sonic Mania, but it’s every bit as intense. This is side scrolling stealth done perfectly, maintaining a lovely ebb and flow to its gameplay while including all the nuances you’d expect to see in more complex 3D offerings. You can hide bodies, perform aerial takedowns, bait enemies towards you by manipulating the environment, and then there are the satisfying one-hit kills… Mark of the Ninja is the definitive 2D stealth game.