Platformers are among some of the most enjoyable experiences in gaming. There have been many platformers that have graced consoles and provided some of the best and most recognizable characters the industry has ever seen. Today we look at the top 10 console platformers of all-time!
*This will be first top 10 here on FYIG and as such, we have a few rules all top 10s will abide by. Only one game per series will be featured and it will only be games that experienced first hand by the author. No second hand experiences here. Games are open for debate in the comments section if you agree or disagree but, please be respectful.*
10) Tomba! (PS1)
Tomba! was released in 1997 in Japan and 1998 in North America for the PlayStation. Tomba was a pink haired caveman type character who didn’t talk and was on a quest to find his grandfather’s bracelet after it was stolen by some evil Koma pigs. I played the demo for this over 12 years ago and it always held a soft spot for me after I played the full game. It’s just different than most platformers and played in a 2.5D manner that added a lot to what is usually very linear gameplay. The worlds were colourful and vibrant and the characters were plentiful. Couple those with a great story with a lot of different abilities and items to collect that helped you along your journey. If you haven’t played this game yet, give it a try on June 19th when it comes to the PlayStation Network.
9) ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron (Genesis/Mega Drive)
Let’s be honest here, there probably aren’t many of you who remember ToeJam and Earl. They made early appearances on the Genesis and a later one on the Xbox but, are relatively unknown in most of the gaming world but they shouldn’t be. They were awesome. The soundtrack was simply perfect and the worlds were so oddly coloured and completely different from anything we’ve seen before. The whole idea was to capture Earthlings who had stowed away on T&E’s spacecraft when the returned from Earth to Funkotron. It’s hard to explain it, and even fewer understood it, but it just worked so well and was a joy to play through. Check it out on the Wii Virtual Console.
8) Donkey Kong Country (SNES & GBC)
Rare has done some incredible things as far as pretty much any type of game goes but, Donkey Kong Country was a great platformer for it’s time. Featuring some great pre-rendered 3D graphics on the Super Nintendo hardware and the beloved Kong characters from the series. There were K-O-N-G letters to collect in each level, the lush jungle setting, animals to ride, and the ability to switch characters in-game. While there were more than a few great direct sequels and series sequels like Donkey Kong 64, the original stands out in my eyes. It’s definitely an SNES classic. Play it on the Wii Virtual Console.
7) Crash Bandicoot: Warped (PS1)
Crash Bandicoot: Warped was similar to a lot of platformers on the surface but, it’s under the surface where this game shines. This was the third game in the original Crash series and it was by far the best blending some elements that weren’t necessarily considered platforming (like driving) with the tried and true formula of Carsh Bandicoot. There was no shortage of obstacles, bosses, and bottomless pits to encounter and varied level design. Crash was a very well-known character for a reason, the games live up to the hype and this one is my pick for the best of the bunch. Pick it up on the PlayStation Network.
6) Sly 2: Band of Thieves
Sly Cooper was a great concept at the time. It combined stealth elements with the platforming genre and gave gamers a new way to play a familiar type of game. Sly 2: Band of Thieves took the greatness of the first game and brought bigger and better levels, tougher enemies, more items to collect, better puzzles, and the introduction of ThiefNet to add new abilities to Sly’s arsenal. With all of that, Sly felt more like and RPG in a plaformer and gave us a game type that hasn’t really been duplicated since. You can play this one on The Sly Collection for PS3 and there’s a new Sly game entitled ‘Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time’ coming to the PS3 in the near future.
5) Earthworm Jim 2 (Genesis/SNES/PC/Sega CD)
Earthworm Jim was fun. Trying to rescue Princess Whats-Her-Name proved to be a great new experience but, it was the second time around that was the best. Along with your friend ‘Snot’ which you can use to stick and wing or parachute, the adventure felt never-ending and it was hilarious. While predominantly a platformer, it rolled a lot of other elements all into one and it was the product of the developer caring about making a fun game experience to play and that’s what we play games to do. Earthworm Jim is extremely underrated. You can purchase this one on GOG.com, Steam, or the Wii Virtual Console.
4) Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time (PS3)
A controversial, it might be but, Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time was a spectacular game. Many would consider some of Insomniac’s earlier attempts or even Spyro the Dragon as better choices but, ACIT is mine. It took everything and streamlined it. You still had all the imaginative weapons, incredible environments, and even armor for the players that want to get better as the game goes on but, more than that, you got a deep story told through cutscenes and real-time events in-game. There was brilliant platforming with not just jumping but, gadgets too and a ton of stuff to go back and do after you’ve finished all your main goals. R&C might not be a traditional platformer but, it still fits the bill to me as it gets #4 on the list. You can find this in stores on the PS3.
3) Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (Sega Genesis)
This one was tough, Sonic 3 is just as deserving here but, I had to go with Sonic 2. Platforming at its best. I remember being totally immersed in this game, I’ve probably beaten it 5 or 6 times in my life but, it really never gets old. Tails makes his first appearance, the levels may just be the best in the series, Robotnik’s creations are as extravagant as you can imagine and Sonic has never seemed faster. This game paved that way and many developers over the years have told stories about how influential it was to them. The bright bold, quickness of the Blue Blur served direct competition to a certain plumber who will make an appearance on this list in our next spot. For all these reasons and more, Sonic takes the #3 position. You can buy this game on pretty much any platform you wish including mobile phones!
2) Super Mario World (SNES)
A couple notes here. Super Mario Galaxy, Bros., and 64 were great games in their own right but, Super Mario World is the one I felt did the most for the series. Yoshi made his first appearance and captured the hearts of many, Mario could drill blocks with his body, the levels had enough variation to keep players interested even after playing for hours. There were even shortcuts and secrets and this game, to me, felt like one of the longer retro Mario games. Mario 64 brough Mario into 3D, Galaxy was a spectacular showing on the Wii, Bros. introduced the plumber to the world but, Super Mario World showed everyone that Mario was here to stay and that they developers weren’t running out of ways to differentiate the series anytime soon. Almost 20 years later, he’s still going strong. You can pick this one up on the Wii Virtual Console.
1) LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3)
The ultimate platformer. Nobody knew who Media Molecule was but, following 2008’s LittleBigPlanet, they do now. The second game in the series is even greater though. This is the greatest platformer ever made because of one simple reason; they give you the tools to create it, and you can make any level you want to, any way you want to. With millions of levels and customization options, there has never been a bigger game in the history of gaming, and it grows every day. LBP 2 is fluid technically, beautiful visually, and a masterpiece in every sense of the word. Months of fun can be had in just this one single game. Mario started it, Sonic continued it, LittleBigPlanet 2 perfected it. You can buy this one in store or on the PSN.
There you have it, my list for the top 10 platformers of all-time. Now I know a lot of you want agree, so tell me respectfully how you would rank them and which ones you would swap out for something new in the comments section.