Nintendo’s flagship Mario games have long been a gold standard within the gaming industry. They take the classic platformer genre—running and jumping—to new levels. But there are other great games out there, if you’re looking for something new to scratch that itch.
Twist on a Classic
This game takes 2D, side-scrolling platformers to creative new heights. Ubisoft
Platformer games are some of the oldest and most beloved in the history of video games. Generally when we talk about platformers, we’re talking about games in which getting from point A to point B—often via jumping on platforms, hence the name—is the main goal. 2D platformers have you going from left to right in a flat environment, like the original Mario games; 3D platformers have you exploring a more open world. Other games play up different elements: some are heavy on collecting items, others on combat, and others on narrative and atmosphere.
Made by the folks behind the beloved Banjo-Kazooie franchise, this modern twist is all about exploration and collection. Sold Out
Platformers may have hit their peak as the defining genre of games on consoles like the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation 2, but they’ve come back in a big way recently. Today, you can find revivals of those classic games, as well as artier indie games with compelling stories, innovative mechanics (like time manipulation or creating your own levels as you play), and difficulty levels anywhere from super easy to maddeningly difficult.
Among the best-reviewed games of its year, this one finds the famous gorilla back in action. Nintendo
If you’re particularly obsessed with the platformer genre, the Nintendo Switch is probably the console for you. Thanks to games like Donkey Kong Country, New Super Lucky’s Tale, and, of course, Mario Odyssey, the Switch is home to more high-end platformers than any other console. That said, both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have great platformers available, too: many games are available on all three devices.
Featuring a cute digging fox, this game is an ode to classic platformers. Playful Corp
One valuable part of the Mario experience is that the games are appropriate for all ages, unless you have a moral objection to butt-stomping sentient evil mushrooms. Many, though not all, platformers follow that lead: these are family-friendly games, even the really difficult ones.