Contrary to what may might think, there was a time when 2D platformers were the kings of the hill (well; many gamers do know that already. I'm just messing with you...). Since the beginning of the Playstation and other fully 3D-capable systems, these games met a somewhat bitter decrease in popularity as everyone went for the 3D games, but they hardly descended fully into oblivion; there's no such think as a game too old to be cool (really; there isn't), and so these games now (and also back then) always enjoyed a cherised place in our retro hearts. This Top 10 goes for the best 2D platformers, and follows these basic rules:
- One game per franchise: each entry somewhat covers the whole franchise the game belongs to. Most of the time the selected game is the biggest thing, but that doesn't mean the others are dung.
- Retro games: no franchises from the 2000 onward. That doesn't mean the selected game isn't more recent than that; just that the franchise must be oldie.
- Must be 2D: it cannot get any more simple than that.
- And must be platformers: that means lotsa jumps, lotsa platformings and these are supposed to be the big thing of this game, or at least one major hurdle ingame.
Got it? So let's get going.

Not the very best 2D platformers of all time (that's why it is number 10 in this list), but sure these games exude cool through all their pores; you just can't go wrong with a game that has you on a search to kill a vampire overlord and a throng of undead goons. Add to the mix branching levels (some old Castlevania games don't have them, but this does) and Nintendo-hard difficulty level (enemies and bosses pack a punch here, and health-ups are next to nonexisting), and you'll see this game is a must buy. Also, as an added bonus, this game of the series (a remake actually) has Symphony of the Night as an addictional game - a masterpiece if you ask me, even though I prefer the old vocals over the new ones.

A really, really big entry from the indiest branch of 2D platformers: the puzzle-ish ones (the ones that have you solving puzzles and don't have a weird jumping physics that enables you to jump several stories high and/or fall several meters down without a scratch). This one is perhaps the very best of the bunch: cheesy plot (you'll have to go through the first game to get a better grasp on it though), magnificent gimmicks (talking to NPCs just never stops amusing, and possessing them is outright crrrazy!!) and really, really nasty difficulty (you're sooo bound to get yourself killed... a gazillion ways...). Add to the mix some replayability (several endings, and that save all your alien buddies thing) and you've got yourself a winner. Also did I mention the player character is a rather cheesy wacky skinny alien buddy?

You really cannot help it. I concede it's not the greatest nor the most thrilling platformer ever (I'm soo getting many, many people really mad at me for what I just said, I know), but for a game with hardly any more gimmicks beside jumping this sure is damn fun! Also, trying to get the invisible ?-Boxes and the secret sewer tubes is nonetheless fun. And that Sorry Mario, but your princess is in another castle! motto sure is damn trolling!!

Welcome to the apeist entry of this list; this game sure is a monkey business! The good old 2D platforming tropes (namely jumping and jump-on-the-goon for enemy kill) with a slight of variety in-between, secrets and bonuses going to the hundreds, a helluva levels and no-nonbusiness difficulty level sure make for a nice game, and extra characters sure don't hurt. Many people might prefer Mario over this, but for me I think I prefer this over the stinky paws of a filthy human.

In a time where 2D platformers were the biggest thing in home consoles (with roughly half of the best games per system being platformers), the best way to have one game stand higher than the others was for it to have something unique, and Earthworm Jim sure obligued, with it's combination of mainstream platforming with gung-ho action (also healthy doses of ultra-wacky humour aren't unwelcome). Both Earthworm Jims were (are) nasty pieces of good old 2D gaming, and either of them is unreplaceable (anyway, I like the second most, so it gets the spotlight). Have these games a good example that annelids make for good stars in videogames!

Among all things 2D Sonics, this is by far the biggest, sickest thing ever - this game is simply the very best of every other Sonic from the Genesis mashed together in a truly epic game: lotsa playable characters (3 of them; and it pretty much doubles as difficulty settings: Tails would be easy - flying is broken; Sonic would be normal; and Knuckles would be hard - hasn't anyone noticed this red rasta-critter actually jumps somewhat lower than the others?), expansive levels, a throng of boss fights (and this time they do pose a challenge), several endings, cheesy bonus levels, somewhat addictive multiplayer (even though the split screen is pretty annoying - but it's not like you can ask too much from a game from 1994, don't you think?). This Sonic is the very best of them all!

Just the holy mother of all things puzzle platformer games! You control three player characters, each one with it's own share of abilities (and most of the time, you get to stick with just one jumpman - a rare scarcity of jump-ittude for a 2D platformer, but it's cool enough), and you get to guide all three of them to the exit collecting your share of items (you'll need three specific items to get to the end of each level). So far so simple, save for the fact that this is far, far from simple! Magnificently insane difficulty (specially past level 3) and lotsa obstacles sure make for a really, really cheesy game, and voiceovers sure don't disappoint (just try to remember how many animals do everyone take the werewolf for). A real marvel.

If Treasure Games Inc. (the creators of the Gunstar Heroes franchise) is known for one thing, it's for its perchant for unconventional playstyles and gung-ho action, and if you ever want these in a 2D platform game, sure you won't find anything better than this piece of a game! The classic gameplay here is cool and cheesy enough, with marvelous powerups, throngs of impossible puzzles, and full to the brim with boss fights (expect almost each level to have at least one miniboss - some of them even more!); and that's the conventional levels, which roughly make up for half of the game, or even less! The other levels are even cooler if that's even possible! It's a total shame this game hadn't spawned any sequels (that sure reduced its score in this list).

Amazing game indeed (calling this a 2D platformer might be quite a fringe call, but it actually involves 2D and platform-jumping, so it's fair enough to me). This entry not only goes for Metroid series, but for almost every other game with it's template (most Metroidvania Castlevanias, for example). These games are just the gods of cool-backtracking (or at least are the best at making backtracking cool) and secret-hoarding. Hardly any other 2D platformer will be any more lasting than these!

Now this is the real, real winner of this Top 10: while other 2D platforming franchises sure have cooler and/or cheesier player characters (as far as mascots go, this Rayman just doesn't stand against... say... Sonic, Crash or Jim), but no platformer really can beat this battlecruiser in the one thing this game is real king: gameplay! Far, far more complex than the old classic get to the end of each level killing any enemies in-between, with thousands of secrets and also the fact that you have to rescue critters around (actually this game, despite being a 2D game, plays pretty much like a 3D game á la Mario 64 does, and better than most). Add to the mix among the very best maps ever designed for a 2D game, and a cheesy map editor (sold separately, but chances are if you ever buy this thing you'll get it packaged) that sure is engaging enough to sate your LittleBigPlanet-ish thirst. No Platformer fan can go without this jewel of a game!

2D never dies, and in the modern times where people are kind of weary of games focusing on realistic and slender 3D graphicks over gameplay, chances are it won't die anytime soon. A good thing of these games is that, if you ever are gonna get these, you'll hardly have to spend a helluva money; retro is not only good - it's also cheap. Sure; most of these games are hardly as lasting as any modern game (a seasoned player may finish them in a single day - specially if it's one of these games without game save), but that's countered by the fact that these games hardly get weary. Also, if you really want variety, noone is forbidding you to get the whole franchises at a budget price (that pretty much settles the shortness thing). So here you are; enjoy.

List by HighEntomologist (10/08/2013)

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