Five platform games I still play today

January 30th, 2024   •   By Faith Johnson

I'm a huge platform game fan, it's right up there as one of my favourite genres. I love them all from 2D adventures with Sonic and Mario, right through to collect-a-thons such as Donkey Kong 64. It's not just the variety in types of platformers that make it such a great video game genre either. The skill you need to get good at them combined with the imagination it takes to make a great platformer means it's one of the genres that seems always to push gaming forward.

During the 90s, every game publisher wanted its own platforming mascot and we were treated to some of the best games created. Since then, platform franchises have continued to evolve and the buzz around a new Mario, Crash or Sonic game always creates waves with gaming fans. The genre is still as popular today as it was when Jumpman first took that first leap in Donkey Kong. I've picked five platform games that I feel still play well today and would be a great addition to any collection.

Super Mario Galaxy

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No list of platform titles would be complete without a Mario game. Nintendo's plucky plumber has been the leading light for platform games since he was first introduced in the 80s. Since then he has appeared in hundreds of video games and one of his greatest is Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii.

The game revolves around tight levels, set in space, that twist and rotate, using the Wii controller to create a unique platformer. Your task is to find the Power Stars and take down bosses in traditional Mario fashion. Each level has different gravity forces that mix up how you must tackle it. This is a standout classic and arguably the Wii's best game.

Crash Bandicoot: Warped

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Crash Bandicoot was Sony's answer to Mario and Sonic as it entered the console race with the original PlayStation console. In his third outing, Crash continues his battle with Dr Neo Cortex and must again stop his plans to gather the crystals needed to take over the world. Crash Bandicoot: Warped uses a unique 2.5D style that adds to the appeal.

Its lush scenery, ingenious gameplay tropes, and excellent soundtrack make this stand out as one of the best games of the golden era of platformers. It's also one of the best-looking PlayStation games and helped Crash establish himself as one of gaming's most loved characters. It's also a tough challenge so will keep you busy for a while.

Banjo-Kazooie

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The N64 is certainly home to many great platformers and following the release of Super Mario 64, it didn't seem possible to get a better platforming adventure. Leave it to Rare, and its ability to move gaming forward, to topple Mario from his perch. Banjo-Kazzoie is one of the greatest 3D platformers of all time and remains the gold standard of collect-a-thons.

The unique gameplay mechanic of having two characters to control opened up the world of platformers. This new way of playing also gave the dynamic duo more moves that allowed different ways to tackle each level. It wasn't just the great gameplay either, the worlds are beautiful, the characters entertaining and simply it's a magical ride from start to finish.

Sonic Advance

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When Sonic made his debut on the Game Boy Advance, it felt like a breath of fresh air. Although the fast-paced nature of traditional Sonic games had been held intact, there was a new emphasis on exploration. The game was also designed to utilise the GameCube GBA Link Cable and it connected with Sonic Adventure 2: Battle's Chao Garden mode.

There are four different characters to control, Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy Rose, and the level design is one of the best in any Sonic title. It's quite easy to complete the main game, but to fully finish it you will need to find all the Chaos Emeralds which is a tough ask. This is a Sonic game that any platform fan should play through.

Tomb Raider

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Before the mid-90s, video games were mostly seen as toys for children. There weren't many games aimed at adults and politicians were trying to get games like Mortal Kombat banned. Things seemed to change when a new hero entered the fray in the form of Lara Croft. Her Tomb Raider adventure seemed to take gaming into a new era.

From appearing on the front cover of serious magazines to being shown on the mainstream news, Lara helped gaming grow up. And it wasn't just her charisma that made that possible. The original game on the PlayStation, Saturn and PC, was a true classic and helped evolve the platform genre with a deeper story and advanced mechanics.

Faith Johnson

Faith Johnson

Game journalist and historian. I write about games in books, magazines and online. Sega, especially Sonic, is my favourite.