Platformers have existed from the very birth of gaming industry, back in the 1980s, and many of us can probably name a favorite of our own. They bring challenge, get the adrenaline flowing, and require a ton of patience and perseverance to get through.
From the creators of Towerfall, Celeste is a new and particularly beautiful title released in the January of this year (and you can check out our review of it here). We embark on a complex journey with Madeline, the daring protagonist, as she makes it to the top of the mysterious Celeste mountain.
The platformer is unique, fluid, and riveting fun to play. You immerse yourself in the beautiful world Madeline lives in, as well as the background story and –best of all for platformers — the simple controls. It has so far been in the spotlight with great reviews and produced many happy gamers.
That said, it’s also difficult as hell (however difficult hell is) and you will die again and again and again (and again) until you reach the top. It seems impossible, but the magic of the game is that it keeps you wanting to try again.
If you’ve already played it or don’t like the price point of the new release, never fear! Here are a few platformers that go head to head with Celeste in terms of challenge and enjoyable play.
Super Meat Boy
Interestingly, Super Meat Boy shares initials with Super Mario Bros. the king of all platformers. And it’s not difficult to see why. The concept is fairly basic and reminiscent of the NES days, much like SMB — our fleshy, slabby hero Meat Boy is on his way to save his beloved Bandage Girl.
He must overcome bothersome enemies and rough terrain, one of which includes a haunted hospital, reminiscent of Mario‘s haunted houses, but without the Boos…and in a hospital. Anyway, Super Meat Boy is a fun and wild ride from start to finish, packed with more than 300 levels of pure single-player frustration. Because you most certainly will be frustrated with some of these levels. Like Celeste, though, you just can’t stay away for long.
Sinister but childish-looking, with a pleasant early-20th-century technicolor cartoon aesthetic, Cuphead is a golden-age platformer with grotesque, eerie boss battles and next-to-impossible levels that seem like they’ll never end. Fortunately, if you need some help, you can play as Cuphead and his pal, Mugman on either single or double player mode.
Its hardcore feel is both enjoyable and formidable, and the ’30s soundtrack will suck you into the dark universe of our protagonists. Cuphead is all one-shot levels, built around the run and gun concept and rapid health depletion that will leave you desperately running for your life.
I Wanna Be The Guy
I think we can all remember what we aspired to be from our prepubescent years, and I Wanna Be The Guy is possibly an exaggerated representative of how impossibly naive those dreams were.
IWBTG is as cute as it is horrifically difficult, playing as “the Kid” on his wild journey to become “the Guy,” equipped with nothing but a gun and a cape. He must overcome six different bosses at random, cleverly so too, as there is no health bar to give you a second shot. You snooze, you lose. Tight controls and a classical interface make for a playable game enjoyed by many.
Fast-paced and rhythmic, N++ is vibrant, minimalist and has been captivating audiences for quite a while. Anyone familiar with N and its sequel, N+ would know the game is infamous for its difficulty, the customizable level sequences and physics-based gameplay. N++ is relatively similar to its predecessors, but is an enjoyable challenge nonetheless.
Rain World has you playing as an adorable slug-cat in a dystopian universe and is a beautifully crafted survival platformer that quite literally preys on the natural selection concept (pun intended).
You must protect your peculiar protagonist from the vicious world of creatures who are more than willing to eat you alive. Rain World would have been a relatively manageable play if there had been adequate checkpoints to save your progress, but there aren’t. Eventually, you will lose your patience — but not until you’ve had your fill of the excitement and scenery.
Speaking of Celeste, TowerFall: Ascension, from the same developer, is an exciting, multiplayer party platformer that’s actually more enjoyable when playing with friends. It’s a hardcore local play, with a competitive, near-impossible combat mechanism. You have only one arrow to shoot, tons of traps and other players to avoid, and to shoot again, you must retrieve the original arrow. Possibly what makes TowerFall such a great game, apart from the frustrating play, is the fact that you can hit it up with your friends in a room together, which, sadly, isn’t much of a thing anymore what with wireless play and all.
I don’t think platformers will ever get boring — or easier — with time. What makes them so enjoyable is the classic visual interface, simple controls, and the unexpectedly challenging obstacles that keep us coming back to the charm and challenge of old-school gaming. They are a timeless experience for the young and old alike.
What are some of your favorite platformers? Share them in the comments below!