It’s not a Nintendo console without some classic jumping games. Mario was even originally called Jumpman, back when he was rescuing Pauline from Donkey Kong in the arcades. So Nintendo consoles have always felt like the home for platformers, and as the years go on, the Nintendo Switch has amassed an incredible library of stellar titles.
The Switch isn’t just home to Mario and his mates, it now houses several platforming icons previously locked to other consoles, it’s got some of the finest classics from the SNES and NES if you want to experience the history of the genre, and some recent indies are pushing the genre forward (and upward) better than any big publisher out there!
So, if you enjoy collecting coins, jumping on enemies, visiting different worlds, and the occasional power-up, you’ll have a blast with our list of the very best Switch platformers you can find. Grab some friends, stretch your skills, and get ready to do a whole lot of very precise jumping.
Here is our guide to the best Switch platformers:
The little platformer that could! After a phenomenal Kickstarter campaign, Shovel Knight brought back classic pixelated platforming with a bang, and thanks to that success, has been ported to every console under the sun.
Developer Yacht Club Games has been busy adding several additional campaigns to it over time, all promised in the Kickstarter campaign, each of which added significantly more hours of fantastic retro fun. Each mode in Shovel Knight looks fantastic, has great music, and controls like a dream. This huge collection of perfect platforming should be in everyone’s library.
Normally platformers don’t ask you to think, they just ask you to collect 100 bananas and get to the end of the level. But Celeste is very different. You play as Madeline, a girl who has set herself the challenge of climbing mount Celeste, but it’s a challenge she can’t complete without overcoming some serious obstacles, both physically and mentally.
A beautiful metaphor for mental health, wrapped in some of the toughest but most satisfying platforming you could hope to find, Celeste was critically lauded upon release and for very good reason. It’s also worth playing for Lena Raine’s stunning score on its own!
Sonic Mania Plus
If I had to describe Sonic Manic Plus in two words; pure joy. This remix and reinvention of the series takes what fans know and love from the Mega Drive classics and injects it with a metric ton of energy thanks to the work of modder Christian Whitehead and the rest of the development team.
Asking fans responsible for several fan games and mods to actually create a Sonic game was a bold move, but it paid off handsomely as every frame is filled with adoration for the impatient blue hedgehog. Fantastic levels, great controls, and a soundtrack that seriously slaps. If only every Sonic game could be this good.
Previously thought to be an Xbox exclusive, Cuphead made its way to Switch a couple of years ago, and it may have found the perfect home. A hand-animated platformer based on the classic cartoons of early Disney and Fleischer Studios, this loving homage practically leaps off the screen, with stunningly colourful levels and enemy design.
Cuphead and Mugman themselves are fantastically designed characters, and luckily the game is platforming heaven, even if it is a little hard. This might not be a game for kids, despite its appearance, as bosses are brutal and take some serious skill to beat, but if you’ve got the patience, you should definitely check out Cuphead and it’s gorgeous, painstakingly animated art style.
Rayman has been quiet for a few too many years now, which is a shame because his latest adventure (not counting those Rabbids) was easily his best. Rayman Legends is a joyous platformer with up to four-player multiplayer, and it feels like the devs had as much fun making it as you do playing it. Rayman controls with a floating fluidity that other games don’t often manage, but it means it feels like he glides through levels. And once you’ve got the hang of this movement each level is a blast to make your way through. Full of clever level design and a few fantastic extras to unlock, Rayman Legends is an easy pick for a new family favourite.
Crash Bandicoot 4 – It’s About Time
After the fantastic remakes of Crash Bandicoot’s early adventures with the N-Sane Trilogy, it was finally time to bring the mad marsupial back with a bang. It’s About Time picks up where the originals left off, but gives them a modern look and injects some great new ideas.
The game is, funnily enough, about time, as Crash and co travel to different eras, trying to thwart the latest nefarious plans of the evil Dr Neo Cortex. It’s got all the challenge of the originals with some modern conveniences, and it’s a game designed for speedrunners to play on repeat. If you loved the originals, this latest entry has all the charm and challenge in a brand-spanking-new package.
A Hat In Time
It’s hard to recapture the magic of a certain era, but A Hat In Time is one of the few titles to really pull it off. Designed as a love letter to early 3D platformers like Super Mario 64, Croc, Banjo Kazooie, and more, this fantastic indie game has some great ideas and feels absolutely amazing to play.
Playing as Hat Kid you must explore several wide-open levels without a time limit, using your magical hats and powers to find collectables and complete your missions. It’s not often that a game pulls off the same magic as the games that inspired it, but developer Gears For Breakfast absolutely nailed both the aesthetic and gameplay they were going for.
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze
You think of platformers, and you think of Mario right? Well… you’d be missing out. After the successful relaunch of the Donkey Kong Country series on Wii, developer Retro Studios followed it up with a Donkey Kong game that surpasses even the SNES classics. Tropical Freeze is some of the best designed 2D platforming ever created, and Donkey Kong and friends control with a satisfying weight but a fantastic sense of momentum.
The amount of detail in each level and enemy is stunning, and David Wise even returned to knock out a stellar soundtrack to accompany the monkey mayhem. There are also options for multiplayer, for the little monkeys in your life, and the inclusion of Funky Mode if you’re struggling with some challenges, making it the best version of one of the best platforming games ever made. Utterly essential.
Super Mario Maker 2
When one Mario level isn’t enough… how about millions? Following on from the huge success of the WiiU original, Super Mario Maker 2 brings level building to the Switch with some snazzy new features. There are more themes, with the wonderful Super Mario 3D world and its iconic Catsuit making the jump. There are new user interface changes suited to the Switch, and there is even a controllable NES Link with new abilities, that opens up even more possibitlies. It’s a huge amount of Mario for your money, and it even includes a selection of levels made by Nintendo themselves.
Super Mario Odyssey
Alright, we had to include Mario somewhere didn’t we? Super Mario Odyssey is the latest in the moustachioed plumber’s adventures, but presents a more open-world adventure similar to the sandbox platformers Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine. With his latest friend Cappy, Mario can possess and control almost every enemy under the sun, and several other items, giving him a huge move set and plenty of platforming to enjoy.
Odyssey also looks incredible, thanks to smart design choices and the developers at Nintendo getting every ounce of power out of the Switch. Each different world has incredible secrets to discover, outfits to unlock, and some deviously difficult platforming challenges to master. Super Mario Odyssey is the best Mario has ever been, and any Switch owner should own it, no matter your age.
So there you go, that’s our guide to the best Switch platformers, and we hope you’ll be jumping for joy with these acrobatic adventures. Switch owners, you can also check out our guide to the best Switch sports games if you want to work up a sweat.