Navigating the Pixelated Wonderland: The Best 2D Platformers

In the vast realm of gaming, 2D platformers stand as timeless classics that continue to captivate players with their pixelated charm and challenging gameplay. Whether you’re a seasoned gamer or just diving into the world of pixels, this comprehensive guide explores the best 2D platformers that promise thrilling adventures, nostalgic vibes, and hours of entertainment.

The Best 2D Platformers

  1. Celeste
  2. Shovel Knight
  3. Hollow Knight
  4. Super Meat Boy
  5. Cuphead
  6. Rayman Legends
  7. Sonic Mania
  8. Braid
  9. Ori and the Blind Forest
  10. Katana Zero
  11. The Adventure Pals
  12. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze


Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Stadia, PS4, Nintendo Switch

Join Madeline in her quest to climb the titular mountain, Celeste, in this indie gem that beautifully blends challenging platforming with an emotionally resonant narrative. With tight controls, ingenious level design, and a heartfelt story, Celeste stands as a shining example of the power of indie game development.

Shovel Knight

Platforms: PC, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, PS3, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, FireTV

Embark on a retro-inspired adventure with Shovel Knight, a 2D side-scrolling platformer that pays homage to classic games. As the valiant Shovel Knight, wield your trusty shovel to defeat enemies, dig treasures, and traverse a beautifully crafted world reminiscent of the golden age of gaming.

Also Read: The Best Mobile Platformers

Hollow Knight

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox Cloud Gaming, Xbox One

Dive into the atmospheric world of Hallownest, where you control the titular character on a quest to unravel mysteries in this critically acclaimed Metroidvania. With stunning hand-drawn visuals, challenging foes, and an immersive storyline, Hollow Knight is a masterpiece that takes players on an unforgettable journey and is one of the best 2D platformers you should give a try.

Super Meat Boy

Platforms: PC, Android, Wii U, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox 360

Brace yourself for a relentless and fast-paced platforming experience in Super Meat Boy. Known for its challenging levels and precise controls, this game is a love letter to hardcore platformer enthusiasts. Navigate through perilous obstacles as the meaty protagonist, Meat Boy, and rescue your bandaged love, Bandage Girl.

Also Read: The Hardest Single Player Games


Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4

Step into the vibrant, hand-drawn world of Cuphead, where 1930s animation meets challenging run-and-gun gameplay. With its unique visual style and energetic jazz soundtrack, Cuphead, one of the best 2D platformers, offers a distinct gaming experience as you face off against eccentric bosses in a quest to repay a debt to the devil.

Rayman Legends

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PS3, PS4, Wii U, PS Vita, Stadia, Xbox One

Embark on a whimsical and visually stunning adventure with Rayman Legends, a critically acclaimed 2D platformer that brings the iconic limbless hero, Rayman, back to the forefront. Developed by Ubisoft, this installment in the Rayman series introduces players to a vibrant and enchanted world known as the Glade of Dreams. Known for its captivating art style and lively soundtrack, Rayman Legends invites players to navigate through intricately designed levels filled with imaginative landscapes, quirky characters, and challenging obstacles. 

The game’s intuitive controls and cooperative multiplayer mode make it accessible to players of all skill levels. With its seamless blend of platforming excitement, rhythmic gameplay elements, and a delightful sense of humor, “Rayman Legends” stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of classic 2D platformers in the modern gaming landscape.

 Also Read: The Best Platformer Games for Android

Sonic Mania

Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One

Sonic Mania is a nostalgic celebration of the iconic blue hedgehog’s golden era, combining the classic Sonic gameplay with modern enhancements. Developed by Christian Whitehead, Headcannon, and PagodaWest Games, this 2D platformer captures the essence of Sonic’s early adventures. 

Players can race through familiar zones, encountering revamped versions of beloved levels from Sonic’s past, along with new and imaginative stages. The game introduces new playable characters, including Tails and Knuckles, each with their unique abilities, enhancing the overall experience. With its vibrant pixel art, energetic soundtrack, and precise controls, Sonic Mania delivers a delightful blend of retro charm and contemporary polish, making it a must-play for both longtime fans and newcomers to the Sonic franchise.


Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3

Braid is a critically acclaimed puzzle-platformer that stands out for its innovative gameplay mechanics and artistic design. Developed by Jonathan Blow, the game takes players on a journey through a painterly world filled with visually striking environments. 

What sets Braid apart is its time-manipulation feature, allowing players to rewind and manipulate time to solve intricate puzzles. The protagonist, Tim, embarks on a quest to rescue a princess, and as players progress, they uncover a narrative that explores themes of love and forgiveness. 

The hand-painted art style, coupled with a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack, creates an immersive experience. Braid challenges players’ intellects and perceptions, making it one of the best 2D platformers, celebrated for its creativity and emotional depth.

Also Read: The Best Japanese Games for Android

Ori and the Blind Forest

Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Ori and the Blind Forest is a visually stunning and emotionally captivating platformer developed by Moon Studios. Set in a magical, enchanted forest, players assume the role of Ori, a guardian spirit, on a quest to save the dying forest from impending doom. 

The game seamlessly blends challenging platforming with heartfelt storytelling and an evocative musical score. Players navigate through a hand-drawn world filled with lush environments, encountering puzzles and enemies along the way. The emotional narrative is a focal point, exploring themes of friendship, sacrifice, and resilience. 

With its breathtaking visuals, emotional depth, and engaging gameplay mechanics, Ori and the Blind Forest has earned acclaim as a modern masterpiece in the platformer genre.

Katana Zero

Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One

Katana ZERO is a fast-paced, action-packed indie game developed by Askiisoft. Set in a neo-noir world with a pixel-art aesthetic, the game follows the story of a samurai assassin known as The Dragon. What sets Katana ZERO apart is its emphasis on precision and timing, as players must carefully plan and execute their moves to progress through challenging levels. 

The game’s unique mechanic allows players to slow down time, creating a cinematic experience as they deftly dispatch enemies with a katana. The narrative unfolds through a branching dialogue system, where players’ choices impact the unfolding story. With its stylish visuals, intense combat, and a gripping narrative filled with unexpected twists, Katana ZERO has garnered praise for its innovative approach to storytelling and gameplay.

Also Read: The Best Samurai Games of All Time

The Adventure Pals

Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, Amazon Luna, Xbox One, PS4

The Adventure Pals is a whimsical and colorful indie platformer developed by Massive Monster. In this lighthearted adventure, players embark on a journey with a young boy and his giraffe, exploring a vibrant world filled with quirky characters and challenging puzzles. The game features a unique blend of platforming, combat, and exploration, with players riding their giraffe, using its tongue to swing across gaps, and battling quirky enemies.

The charming art style, coupled with a humorous narrative, adds to the game’s appeal, making it suitable for players of all ages. The Adventure Pals, one of the best 2D platformers, stands out for its delightful aesthetics, creative level design, and the endearing relationship between the protagonist and his giraffe companion, offering an enjoyable and family-friendly gaming experience.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Wii U

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a critically acclaimed platformer developed by Retro Studios and published by Nintendo. Released for the Nintendo Switch, the game is an enhanced port of the original Wii U version. In this installment of the iconic Donkey Kong franchise, players embark on a side-scrolling adventure across diverse environments, battling enemies and overcoming obstacles. 

The game introduces new characters, such as Dixie Kong and Cranky Kong, each bringing unique abilities to the gameplay. Renowned for its challenging levels, tight controls, and stunning visuals, “Tropical Freeze” combines nostalgic elements from the classic Donkey Kong games with modern design. The dynamic levels and creative boss battles contribute to the game’s reputation as a must-play platformer, offering both a nostalgic nod to the past and a fresh, engaging experience for contemporary gamers.

Whether you’re seeking an emotional journey, a test of precision, or a dose of retro nostalgia, the world of 2D platformers has something for every player. These handpicked titles showcase the diversity and excellence within the genre, inviting you to embark on pixelated adventures that transcend time and continue to define the magic of gaming. Get ready to jump, run, and explore your way through these captivating 2D wonders!

Written by Maya Robertson


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