Platformers are a cult genre in the world of video games. Achieving success and playing at a high level in a platform game just has a different feel and level of difficulty that is hard to find anywhere else. All three console brands have great platformers, from Nintendo with Mario to PlayStation with Astro Bot, and Xbox is no exception.
Rare and Double Fine are now part of Xbox Game Studios and both have a long history of stellar platform games. With backwards compatibility, as well as some Xbox-exclusive enhancements, the Xbox Series X|S is a great choice if you’re into platformers.
Banjo-Kazooie is one of the best platform games of all time, not to mention the best on Xbox. Released after Super Mario 64, Rare contributed to the then-nascent platform collecting genre. The art style is fantastic and still looks vibrant today, especially with HDR enabled. Personality with a cast of characters galore, and the level design is so good that you rarely, if ever, get lost.
With one exception, you can collect everything on the first game in the world, which keeps the pace of the game. It’s like Resident Evil 4 when you start playing for the first time in years and all of a sudden you’ve beaten the game again. The entire Banjo trilogy is excellent, but the original cannot be beaten.
9/10 Psychonauts 2
A notable contender for the 2021 Game of the Year award is Psychonauts 2, the long-awaited sequel to the 2005 cult classic. First crowdfunded in late 2015, Psychonauts 2 took almost six years to release, but it was worth the wait. The excellent platforming gameplay remains unchanged from its predecessor, and the collectible aspect feels much better in this polished game from Microsoft.
The first Psychonauts had a lot of collectibles that were off the beaten path, which could get tiresome. Thankfully, collectibles are less accessible in the sequel, and the game’s checkpoints are much more forgiving. Boss battles are the low point, but bosses tend to be the aspect many platformers struggle with anyway. In terms of recent Xbox Game Studios releases, Psychonauts 2 is one of the company’s best games.
8/10 Yuka-Leyli and the Impossible Lair
The first Yooka-Laylee was a hugely successful Kickstarter game that unfortunately didn’t live up to the standards of the Banjo-Kazooie games many of the Playtonic team worked on. However, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is one of the most surprisingly good sequels in recent memory. Instead of a 3D collectible, the game is now a standard 2D platformer and much more enjoyable to play. Not only is the game fun and offers solid level design, but it also has a neat gimmick.
The Impossible Lair is the last level, but it can be accessed at any time. Completing each normal level grants you a Bitallion, which serves as an extra hit point in the Lair. You will probably finish all the levels to have the maximum hit points, but if you are brave, you can complete the last level earlier.
Celeste is one of the most popular indie games ever made. It’s a platformer that’s easy to learn but hard to master. Completing the game before the end of the eighth chapter is a challenging and enjoyable experience. It’s one of those games where you’ll be completely focused on it during a tough game, to the point where hours will fly by before you notice it.
The story itself is really well told and can deeply interest members of the LGBTQ+ community. However, if you don’t care about the story, one platformer will be enough to keep you satiated. Celeste’s tempo and music is also fantastic. This game is a must-buy not only for fans of platform games, but for everyone who loves games.
6/10 Alice: Madness Returns
Alice in Wonderland is one of the most popular public domain stories to be adapted and reworked in the media. American McGee’s Alice is a computer game from the early 2000s that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny now. In the first level, you can even get stuck and blocked easily if you jump into a place at the wrong angle. The sequel, released in 2011, is a completely different story.
The visuals in Madness Returns are much better today than in its predecessor and show an interesting twisted take on the popular story. The platforming and combat sequences are fun and engaging, the pace is pretty good, and the story never drags on. While the first game is playable in Madness Returns, it’s hard to go back to it. The second game will allow you to quickly get used to the story, so don’t worry about missing key plot points.
5/10 Merging Tests
The Trials series from RedLynx and Ubisoft is one of the best platforming series, but Trials Fusion is the most content-packed. This is another title that seems simple, but the gameplay has a lot of depth. Even when you play very well, you can always get better and can always go a little faster than the next player on the leaderboard.
The full package includes eight additional events. While you’ll be aiming for a gold or platinum medal on every track, there are also three challenges you’ll need to complete. These wonderful tasks require you to do a lot of unusual things, like playing tennis with a penguin. Since Trials is Ubisoft’s series, this game goes on sale quite often and is a must-buy.
4/10 cluster truck
Sometimes the most fun platform games are the easiest ones, and Clustertruck is a perfect example of this. In this game, you just get to the goal as fast as possible by jumping on trucks. If you fall, you must start over. Despite its simplicity, this game is easy to get hooked on and you will most likely be determined to play it.
The last few sections of the game are quite challenging, but Clustertruck has Super Meat Boy speed where you can jump back into the game when you fail. Unfortunately, the online leaderboards are only on the Steam version, so you’ll likely end the game and move on to something else. However, the Clustertruck is a great time while it lasts.
The sequel to Limbo or Playdead, Inside is often cited as two of the best indie games of all time. While Inside is great, Limbo is more like a platform game. The highlights in Limbo are much more memorable, and the puzzles and challenges are fairer.
In some moments, it can be quite unpleasant inside, and death happens much more often. The puzzles were also much more intricate and challenging than the previous Playdead game. Limbo is the more versatile of the two games, but both are worth checking out if you like the style.
2/10 Jet Set Radio
The two Jet Set Radio games are among Sega’s most popular iconic titles, and it’s easy to see why. The title has a lot of style with its shaded graphics and amazing soundtrack. The gameplay of Jet Set Radio is unique: at the standard level, you have to color all the marked places while avoiding the police.
The starting levels are simple but quickly become more difficult, forcing you to work harder to find tag locations. This game is amazing, but it can get difficult and the last few levels are too long and tedious. However, most of the game is excellent and a must if you’re a platformer or Sega fan.
1/10 Sound Generations
Xbox Series X is the best way to play Sonic Generations, period. On Series X, the game has FPS Boost running at a steady 60fps and is one of the rare 360 backwards compatible games that run at close to 4K resolution. Sonic Generations is one of the best Sonic games out there. You play as both classic Sonic and modern Sonic and the levels are amazing.
The game is short, with only nine worlds with two levels each, but you can’t complain given the quality on offer here. Stages are so fun to speed up and speed up your way to the finish line. Sonic Generations is one of those games that you can play from start to finish from time to time and you will always enjoy it.
NEXT: Platformers You Probably Haven’t Heard Of