CGR's Games of the Decade - Platformer


What makes a game stand out against its peers? Honestly? Often it's because if how it resonates with the person more than how it may compare in a by the numbers game.

Continuing on our two week gush fest to celebrate Chalgyr's Game Room's 10th anniversary, here are our top Platformers!

Super Mario Odyssey

I could have put down any number of Mario / Nintendo titles here and made a great case for them, so why one that is so new? Sure, it did almost everything right from start to finish, but I've almost come to expect that from a Nintendo platformer. I think what impresses me most is that after all of these years, there are still fresh ideas being injected into this long-running series. 

Guacamelee!

The Metroidvania formula is alive and well in this bright, colorful action / platforming title. This is one of those genres that just has a knack for rubbing me the wrong way at times, but I played this from start to finish and then fired up a second go-round to boot. 

Shovel Knight

This game blended some RPG / roguelike elements into a challenging platforming experience that somehow managed to both feel incredibly fresh while surprisingly retro. Those things should not go together, but they did. Released on pretty much every platform imaginable, Shovel Knight helped remind people what made older, challenging platformers so great - all while still managing to bring some new twists to the adventure.

Shovel Knight

10/10, would platform again. Shovel Knight just did everything right. It captured the nostalgia of my childhood, it held itself to modern-day gameplay standards, and it was just amazing to listen to. Add in some wacky bosses and an almost Super Mario Bros. 3 world map? The only thing left to say was that I was doubly spoiled by having played it on the Xbox and gotten to face off against Rare's Battletoads.

Shantae Half Genie Hero

This is a series that I was seriously late to. While the lastest Shantae was less Metroidvania and much more platformer, it still held pieces of where the series has come from alongside a good story, excellent character cast, and amazing mechanics. The only thing that I would say other than needing to re-play it all over again is that I need the recently announced sequel!

Guacamelee!

While I may not have reviewed it here, Guacamelee was definitely on my GotY list when it hit. Hell, I still get shivers from just how damned good it was. Platforming wonders meshed with Metroidvania challenges, and this Player 1 was a very happy luchador.

Portal 2

Where would we be without Portal and Portal 2? Well … probably in a corner somewhere praying to the Valve Gods for Half-Life 3. Now, many might call me a heathen, but I didn't actually play Portal 2 until (wait for it) 2018. Shocking, right? Well, I'm kicking myself now for it, because I could have had a whole piles' worth of years' time in game but nope, I'm an idiot and waited nearly a decade after the franchise's debut to really give it a spin. Well, the snarky AI, challenging puzzles, and mind-bending gameplay is well worth every minute spent in game. Excellent voice acting, solid audio, engrossing world … Portal 2 nearly has it all. It is just a shame that we have yet to see a VR implementation of the Portal franchise as it would be an amazing experience (though likely not one for those easily nauseated by rapid perspective changes). Still, few games can dominate the puzzle / platformer field the way that Portal and Portal 2 can; ten plus years on and players are still pouring through it, challenging themselves and others, in Portal. The biggest concern I have is that we will never see a number three … For a franchise that is an instant classic with a fast-pass to the gaming hall of fame, Portal and Portal 2 have staying power that is as timeless as they come.

Little Big Planet 2

I know, right? Little Big Planet 2 beating out the Mario games? I am quite confident that I have lost all credibility with you (assuming you've gotten this far), but hear me out. Mario in the past 10 years was such a departure of the Mario of the 80's and 90's that it was quite difficult for me to really engage with a single notable exception that I mention below. Little Big Planet 2 though? A gorgeous sidescrolling platform adventure that my daughter and I could sit down and play any time, in a world that is far more interesting for its stuffed animal-like appeal, big smiling faces, and gameplay simple enough that an 8 year old could play it while challenging enough that an old curmudgeon like I could still enjoy it. That is an incredibly fine line that is extremely hard to walk, but LBP2 does, and does it well.

New Super Mario Brothers

The Mario Brothers games changed drastically with the N64's Super Mario 64; breaking from the then-norm with the tantalizing Princess and her persnickety plumber friends. Deviating from the sidescrolling excellence that was Super Mario Brothers 3 and Super Mario World, Super Mario 64 changed the franchise … and not in a way that I was all too fond of. 20+ years later and New Super Mario Brothers releases on the Nintendo Wii and it is chalk-full of nostalgia in its sidescrolling antics, bubble-bouncing goodness, and deeply challenging missions. But what made it truly special? Just as it had in the 80's and 90's, the Mario Brothers was a title that put my family back on the couch, together, playing games, together. There are few titles that can truly bring people together, and New Super Mario Brothers is one of them.


Portal 2

I'm generally terrible at Platformers. Truly. But Portal 2 is one of my all-time favorites because the robots are hilarious, Chell is committed to saving the companion cube, and there is a multiplayer component. The puzzles in Portal 2 require players to think differently about movement because of portals. Sometimes they are required to place a portal on the ceiling which makes players loopy at first, but it makes sense quickly enough. I also found that I really enjoyed the characters GLaDOS (whose voice was featured in Pacific Rim - a movie I might not have been interested in if it wasn't for that fact and a couple other reasons...) and Wheatley. The music at the end of both Portal 1 and 2 make me laugh ridiculously, and was the best few hours I've ever spent in a video game for a puzzle platformer. Also, some of the player-created multiplayer maps can surprise you, so there is that. Needless to say, Portal 2 is by far the only puzzle platformer I put on this list.

Iconoclasts

MMM. This game was absolutely great. With solid and interesting platformer mechanics, a small but expressive cast, I bad guy I actually felt bad about beating, and a bunch of collectibles and areas to explore, I absolutely loved Iconoclasts. The character designs were cute, I loved the art style, the music was on point, there really wasn’t much I had to complain about the game. While the last boss may have come out of left field, but I thoroughly loved the time I spent with Iconoclasts. I would definitely recommend adding this to your platformer repertoire.

A Hat in Time

A game touted as invoking a sense of nostalgia without being a cringey faux-retro game? Why yes, yes it is. A Hat in Time is a great platformer in the vein of super Mario sunshine, consisting of a bunch of hub worlds with genre ADD that vary anywhere from the standard super Mario 64 style to open-world platforming to a murder mystery event. A Hat in Time does a wonderful job of invoking that nostalgic feeling without actually being a rehash or overly dependent upon a predecessor. With some great boss fights, a good soundtrack, and a wonderful feeling of gameplay, A Hat in Time definitely deserves a spot on this list, despite the many glitches I encountered while playing and the short length.

Hollow Knight

A 2-D soulsborne done right, Hollow Knight is like if you took a 2D Dark Souls and gave the main character all the maneuverability of Samus from the Metroid games. A tale of bugs (literally) that drew me in way too much, Hollow Knight is a great platformer. With a bunch of DLC and a whole underground kingdom to explore, Hollow Knight will have you bashing your head off the wall labeled “tough bosses” for quite a while, which is what I’ve come to love and hope for in these style games. I can assure you, I’m definitely excited about Silksong.

Forgotten Anne

A special gift of a game I was handed for review that turned out to be a lot of fun. It was different from other platformers I had played up until that point. The characters were unique in design and the story almost felt like I was in a steampunk version of Beauty and the Beast. It was a story that I couldn't put down until I finished it.

Little Nightmares

Walked into the local game shop to find this cute little collectors edition sitting by the window. Having never heard of it, I was intrigued by the tiny little girl in the yellow raincoat. Turns out this game was a lot darker then I though, which was a good thing. It's creepiness kept my curiosity going and fed my need to explore. A short yet sweet little title.

Hollow Knight

Watched a friend play this game and was pleasantly surprised by its design. Sure it choice in colour where gray, black, white and more gray, but it's simple characters and beautiful somber score pieces made the games atmosphere ominous. You can feel the sadness and loneliness as you progress through the massive landscape, but with a large area to explore comes some of the best and challenging boss battles I have ever fought.

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