Platforms of all shapes and sizes have already impressed gamers during the first few months of 2021, and here are the best ones to play right now.
For many, the platformer is an early gateway to the larger world of gaming. Often starring cartoonish heroes like Mario and features simplistic storylines, the best of the genre often attracts players young and old. Despite its fundamental roots in video game history, the platformer ebbs and flows in popularity as time passes. As of now, the genre has reached a high mark due to a nostalgic revival of 3D platformers and the continued production of great 2D options in the indie scene.
2020 was a great year for platformers. Crash Bandicoot fans finally saw him return in a full-blown sequel dubbed Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. PlayStation fans were in for a big surprise with Astro Game Room, a nostalgic 3D platformer that was one of the best reasons to have a PS5 at launch. Nintendo, a publisher that has faithfully stuck with platformers year after year, even put together a collection of Mario’s biggest 3D hits on Super Mario 3D All-Stars.
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In the first quarter of 2021, there have already been a number of critically acclaimed new entries in the genre. While big companies like Nintendo are among those responsible, there are also several independent studios finding their balance with platform games that have impressed gamers and critics alike. From January to April, here are the best platform games of 2021 that have been released so far.
The best platforms of 2021 so far: Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
Nintendo kicks off the selection with a new, improved version of a 2013 Mario adventure that was initially quite underrated on the Wii U. Combining the throwback Mario level design Super Mario 3D Land with the multiplayer fun of New Super Mario Bros. created an imaginative mashup in which no two levels share the same trick. From cherries cloning Mario to players jumping between changing red and blue platforms, this is a quality Nintendo experience, but the remastered version adds even more love.
Next to Super Mario 3D World on Switch is Bowser’s fury, an open world Mario game that feels like a testing ground for future major installments in the series. While there are set levels scattered throughout the island, Mario is free to navigate between them when the player sees fit, collecting cat bells to complete home-like objectives in a game. Mario play. Add in kaiju-style boss fights with a terrifying new form of Bowser, and this is a sweet short single-player story that platformers shouldn’t miss out on.
The best platforms of 2021 so far: It takes two
The third release from game developer Josef Fares, It takes two It took many players by surprise thanks to its quality 3D platforming and unique cooperative mechanics. Fares has always focused on cooperative play in its games, but the addition of more surreal platforming sections and gameplay elements has seemingly struck a chord with many players who have discovered this relatively new title.
The best platforms of 2021 so far: Little Nightmares 2
A continuation of an unexpectedly great horror game from Tarsier Studios, Little Nightmares 2 sends players platforming through a bite-sized 3D world. The addition of a new playable character and even scarier horrors for players to overcome make it a worthy successor to the original and a great option for anyone looking to combine their platforming with a spooky aesthetic.
The best platforms of 2021 so far: Kaze and the savage masks
Those who want to play a new traditional 2D platformer should look no further than Kaze and the savage masks, a 2021 version developed by PixelHive and published by SOEDESCO. The titular Kaze is a “rude bunnywhich can transform into an eagle, lizard, and shark in 30 main levels and over 50 bonus levels. While the gameplay looks like something straight out of the 90s, the pixel graphics are refined in a modern style, which gives players of all ages the best of both worlds.
The best platforms of 2021 so far: Cyber shadow
published by Shovel knight creators Yacht Club Games Cyber shadow shows as much love for his ninja action predecessors as the blue digger for Megaman. As the last survivor of his clan, the protagonist Shadow must leap across mechanical platforms and use his sword to smash through enemies on his way to victory. While the NES-style presentation (and difficulty) may not be to everyone’s liking, Cyber shadow It’s a highly honed experience straight out of the genre’s first golden age, and fans of retro platformers will probably want to check out.
The best platforms of 2021 so far: Olija
For those looking for a 2D platformer with a more modern approach to gaming, Devolver Digital and developer Skeleton Crew Studio have the perfect game. Olija tells the story of a castaway named Faraday who tries to escape from a hostile land and return home.
Faraday’s only weapon is a harpoon that allows him to move from place to place, allowing players to take down enemies and then use them as a means of leaping to new heights. From its minimalist art style to its atmospheric levels, Olija is featured as one of the best platformer games of early 2021.
The best platforms of 2021 so far: Narita boy
Released in late March by developer Studio Koba and Team17, Narita boy draws attention in a very specific tone. With his synth music, a weapon called Techno-sword, and some very Tron-esque art reveals, it definitely has a nice 80s feel to it. Still, Narita Guy delivers that nostalgic goodness with colorful neon worlds and quick runs, jumps, and slashes that should also appeal to platformer fans in 2021.
The best platforms of 2021 so far: Mail mole
Circling the 3D platformer space, Mail mole offers an alternative to the big names with a charming protagonist of a postal worker who has just delivered the merchandise. While the game hasn’t been a huge hit with everyone who has tried it, 3D platformers of this type are still relatively rare on the indie scene. Fans of the genre could do a lot worse than watch this animal-filled adventure from Talpa Games.
While platform icons like Mario And Sonic can still grab the spotlight, there are some great platformers being created by smaller indie studios right now. Whether fans are looking for a nostalgic game with an ’80s look Narita boy or a more modern title with a fun art style like It takes two, there is something for everyone in 2021.
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