The Best Platformers for Nintendo Switch
Nintendo consoles have been synonymous with great platformers ever since Super Mario Bros. defined the genre back in 1985, and the Switch is no exception. Nintendo's hybrid machine is host to all varieties of platformer, from pixelated retro throwbacks to expansive 3D adventures. Whether you're looking for old faithfuls like Mario, Sonic and Mega Man, or you want to experience something brand new, here are the Switch platformers that will have you (literally) jumping for joy.
Super Mario Odyssey
You can't talk about platformers without talking about Mario, and Super Mario Odyssey is one of the iconic plumber's best outings yet. This colorful 3D adventure plays like a modern version of Super Mario 64, but with one big twist: Thanks to his sentient hat Cappy, Mario can capture and transform into anything from a Goomba to a full-on tank. The result is one of the most joyously inventive Mario games ever, with brilliantly designed levels that encourage constant experimentation while still delivering the tight platforming you'd expect from Nintendo's mustachioed mascot. — Mike Andronico
If The Messenger stopped at being a gorgeous, airtight homage to classic NES platformers like Ninja Gaiden, it still would be one of the best action games on Switch. But Sabotage Studio's excellent 2D adventure doesn't just indulge our nostalgia — it completely twists it, transforming from a straightforward 8-bit side-scroller into a sprawling 16-bit Metroidvania as you progress. Factor in a satisfying upgrade system, hilarious fourth-wall-breaking humor and some of the best pixel art and chiptunes you'll find in a modern platformer, and The Messenger is an absolute must-have for any Switch owner. — Mike Andronico
Credit: Devolver Digital
You may not live long in Dead Cells, but at least you'll enjoy every minute of it. Dead Cells is an appealing mix of the Metroidvania and rogue-like genres, casting you as a nameless prisoner who must explore a dungeon whose layout is constantly shifting. You'll start off with a rusty sword and a single level to explore, but as you unlock more items and abilities, you'll begin to discover hidden skills, alternate level paths and deadly weapons. When you die, you'll lose almost everything in your possession — except for a handful of potentially game-changing upgrades, which you can purchase with the hard-won "cells" of defeated enemies. Dead Cells is fast-paced, fun and easy to play in half-hour windows. — Marshall Honorof
Credit: Motion Twin
Mega Man X Legacy Collection
If you're hunting for a quality platformer, you can't beat the classics. The Mega Man X Legacy Collection gathers up Mega Man X through Mega Man X8 in two appealing packages. In Vol. 1, you can follow Mega Man X and Zero through their first four adventures, hunting robotic Mavericks and taking down the evil mastermind Sigma, again and again. Vol. 2 is more of the same, but with better graphics and slightly more ambitious gameplay. Either way, you can expect plenty of running, gunning and stealing enemies' powers to add to your own arsenal. The Mega Man X series has some of the tightest gameplay around, but there's also a pretty interesting story to follow. — Marshall Honorof
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze
A criminally underplayed Wii U gem, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is even better on Nintendo's portable console. This modern take on 2D Donkey Kong plays like your rose-colored memories of DK's Super Nintendo outings, as you'll roll, swing and ride minecarts through a ton of creative, co-op-ready levels. While Tropical Freeze retains the series' notoriously brutal difficulty, the Switch port packs a new, easier Funky Mode that lets you breeze through levels as everyone's favorite surfboard-riding ape. — Mike Andronico
Developed by the creator of Towerfall, Celeste is a simple yet endlessly challenging platformer that tasks you with clearing hundreds of hazard-laden areas with little more than a jump and a dash. Despite the basic concept, Celeste manages to tell a moving story about overcoming mental illness, and wraps it up in beautifully minimalist pixel graphics and a serene soundtrack. — Mike Andronico
Credit: Matt Makes Games Inc.
Rayman Legends Definitive Edition
Though true creativity is hard to come by, Rayman Legends is chock-full of the stuff. Not only is it a brilliant extension of Rayman Origins, but it also includes the bulk of that game's levels while also offering up its own full-size serving of original content, including musical ballads where you platform to the beat of classics such as Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger," Ram Jam's "Black Betty" and a host of other memorable tunes. Beyond the music levels, Legends is also jam-packed with plenty of incredibly well-designed, immensely crafty "standard" stages that test your platforming prowess while also providing some of the most satisfying fun in all of gaming. And did I mention the game supports four-player co-op? The fine-tuned physics, immaculate level design and almost-tangible soul of this game all come together to provide an experience that can't be beat. — Robert Carnevale
What would you get if you combined the NES incarnations of DuckTales, Castlevania and Mega Man? You'd get a tough-but-fair, super-precise platformer with a killer soundtrack, gorgeous graphics and inventive gameplay. And that's exactly what Shovel Knight is. In this retro throwback to the platformers of yore, you'll take control of the eponymous Shovel Knight as he attempts to rescue his partner, Shield Knight. From there, you'll explore pleasant countrysides, daunting castles and fearsome airships. There are plenty of upgrades and secrets to find along the way, but the big draw in Shovel Knight is its pixel-perfect gameplay and memorable boss characters — some of whom you get to play as in the game's expansions. — Marshall Honorof
Credit: Yacht Club Games
In case you haven't heard already, Sonic Mania's pretty darn great. Featuring classic 2D Sonic gameplay (and I mean classic in the Genesis sense of the word) and imaginative zones that plop the blue blur in locales such as Hollywood film studios and zany chemical plants, there's zero reason not to fall in love with this retro-themed masterpiece. It's got all the hallmarks of a great platformer: high speeds, boundless creativity, brilliant soundtrack and a substantial amount of content (including a competitive multiplayer mode!). If you never got over Sonic going 3D, it's time to slide back into Comfort Zone: Act 1. — Robert Carnevale
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is one of the most impressive remasters to date because of how much effort and detail was put into revamping the visuals of this classic platformer. Yes, you will be running toward the camera (occasionally). And, yes, you will be questioning your depth perception on a jump-by-jump basis. But nothing is better than a challenge where all the odds are against you and it's still somehow feasible. For $40, you can own three full-length games that maximize its replay value by forcing you down a dark rabbit hole filled with colored gems and time trials. Still not sold? Well, let me introduce you to the now full-time playable character: Coco, aka the real hero of the Crash Bandicoot Extended Universe. — Rami Tabari
N++, an indie darling, is a perfect fit for the Switch's small screen. In this game, you dash, jump and bounce off the walls and floors of a dangerous, booby-trapped facility, trying to make it out alive. That means gauging your leaps and knowing the game's physics, as you've got to manage your speed and understand how to ricochet off walls and platforms. — Henry T. Casey
Credit: Metanet Software Inc.