The 15 Best Platformer Games on Switch
Platformer games have been around since the original conception of Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros. Games in this genre are all about performing precise acrobatic moves to reach the end.
Great platformer games demand two main elements to succeed: butter smooth controls and fantastic level design. These two elements rely on each other to bring out the best of the game.
While basic running and jumping are present in most games, this list will only contain those that have it as their core gameplay. It will also vary in complexity, so you’ll find a game for you, whether you’re a casual or an avid speedrunner.
From indie titles to beloved franchises, here are the 15 best platformer games on Switch you can get today.
Blue Fire shares many similarities with some of the best Zelda-like games on Switch. It has dungeons, exploration, and even light combat elements. But, the game’s core gameplay focuses on challenging platforming gauntlets.
Assume control of a mysterious white-haired character who looks a little too much like Link in Ocarina of Time. Blue Fire sets you on an adventure to explore the abandoned ruins of a land called Penumbra.
Blue Fire is clearly inspired by 3D Zelda and one of the best metroidvanias of all time, Hollow Knight. It pays respect to its inspirations while being competent on its own.
There are massive dungeons in the game, filled with tricky platforming trials. As you play through the game, you’ll unlock more abilities to expand your move set. For instance, you can grab a wall run ability later in the game, which will be important for smooth platforming.
Blue Fire’s platforming is undoubtedly fun when everything comes together. While the game isn’t notoriously hard, there are many moments where you’ll have to make several attempts to complete it.
The game features dedicated platforming gauntlets called Voids— special isolated zones with amped up difficulty. These zones showcase why Blue Fire is one of the best platformer games on Switch.
Since Super Meat Boy’s popularity, there has been a surplus of fast-paced 2D indie platformer games. Splasher stands out from crowd with its unique idea, appropriate challenge, and flawless execution.
You’ll play as one of the Splashers, a specialized clean-up crew, working at an evil megacorporation called Inkorp. After discovering what the paint factory’s boss is up to, you’ll take it upon yourself to brave the area and save as many of your co-splashers as possible.
As a platformer, the protagonist has a simple move set: the ability to run fast and jump. However, it becomes frenetic and complex fast because of the game’s core gimmick: paint.
Paint alters surfaces and properties. For example, red paint will let you stick to the surface, while yellow paint will let you bounce off it. It’s very similar to the concept used in Portal 2.
In the early levels, you’ll have no influence on applying paint to surfaces. As the game progresses, you’ll acquire these tools yourself, and then the game truly becomes a challenge.
Traps, enemies, and your own misjudgments will send you back to the last checkpoint. Splasher offers a decent difficulty curve that will often see you repeating segments until you master it.
The game is fun, well-made, and rewards players who want to replay stages and attempt to speedrun them. Splasher is definitely one of the best platformer Switch games.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated
Originally released in 2003, SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated is a remastered version of the original game. This 3D platformer collect-a-thon contains cut content from the original, and a few new additions too.
After Plankton releases a horde of rogue robots into Bikini Bottom, SpongeBob and his friends must stop the robots from taking over the town. You’ll get to meet the loveable cast of the show during your adventure, as well as see the reimagined sights and locals.
You can play as either SpongeBob, Patrick, or Sandy to platform through the levels. These characters have different specialties; for example, Patrick is the strongest of the cast and can lift heavy objects.
There’s light combat to freshen up gameplay. Furthermore, there are even fun boss fights to overcome.
Battle for Bikini Bottom is a relatively straightforward and casual game. The game is fun, and writing sure does hit, but the game never becomes more in-depth than expected. You’ll mainly want this game as a SpongeBob fan first and a platformer enthusiast second.
Even so, Battle for Bikini Bottom deserves a spot on this list for the sheer fun and enjoyment you’ll from it.
Yoku’s Island Express
Yoku’s Island Express is another odd title on this list. It’s an indie Metroidvania platformer where you move the protagonist around levels like a pinball.
Assume control of a dung beetle named Yoku, who works as the Postmaster on Mokumana island. The story of the game is practically non-existent, as it simply follows Yoku on its way to deliver mail. It’s a relaxing and fun game in all its aspects.
Forget what you know about traditional platformer games. You’ll control Yoku by flinging it around levels using pinball paddles.
If you love or dabble in pinball, then this game is for you. If not, you’ll have to look at other games on this list since their core gameplay revolves around it. While there are Metroidvania elements, it all serves to enhance the pinball experience.
The larger world is broken down into bite-sized pinball zones. Each with its own ramps, bumpers, and alternate paths to chuck Yoku into them. Again, every facet of this platformer is centered around pinball, so you’ll immediately know whether this game is for you.
New Super Lucky’s Tale
New Super Lucky’s tale is a remake of Super Lucky’s Tale, which was first released in 2017. This 3D platformer game stars a happy young fox named Lucky, who is guaranteed to have you smiling with its antics.
An evil faction called the Kitty Litter is attempting to steal an ancient artifact called the Book of Ages. Lucky must travel into this mystical book and explore the different worlds contained inside it to stop them.
These worlds will serve as self-contained open-world play spaces for you to explore. You’ll have to collect clovers, some straightforward while some hidden, to defeat the boss of the area. These stages are also replayable in case you need to come back to search later.
Lucky has a straightforward move set, such as a double jump. Since Lucky is a fox, it can also burrow into the ground and swipe with its tail. Lucky doesn’t have a complex arsenal of acrobatic moves, but it fits the charming and fun vibe of the game.
Some levels also have you leading Lucky through a 2D side-scrolling segment. There are also other puzzles that play with gimmicks or physics, providing a refreshing break from the core gameplay.
New Super Lucky’s Tale is a relaxing experience that’s great for all ages. If you love simple 3D platformers, this is one of the best platformer games on Switch for that niche.
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair
The first Yooka-Laylee game is a 3D platformer made from Playtonic Games, a group comprising of major members from Rare, the developers of Banjo-Kazooie. The second entry, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair, is a 2D side-scrolling platform game that stands toe-to-toe with its inspirations.
Play as a green chameleon named Yooka and his bat companion named Laylee. Your main objective is to surpass the impossible lair and defeat the final boss; however, that goal isn’t too easy.
The Impossible Lair lets you attempt the titular gauntlet from the very beginning, at any point you wish. However, just because it’s accessible doesn’t mean you can complete it.
It truly deserves its title since it feels impossible to complete, although you can. But, if you fall or get hit by an obstacle, you’ll be sent right back to the very beginning. And this gauntlet is fairly lengthy.
It’s best to play the game first and collect different items to power up the duo. For example, you save bees hidden throughout levels to gain extra lives for the final gauntlet.
An important currency to collect is hard-to-reach coins that let you progress through the overworld, unlocking more levels. Speaking of the overworld, the Yooka-Laylee lets you travel between levels with an isometric point of view.
The overworld also comes with a few platforming puzzles of its own and some secrets to find too. While the first Yooka-Laylee had a mixed reception, the Impossible Lair is undoubtedly a great title.
Rayman Legends is the fifth entry to the beloved franchise. First released in 2013, this 2D jump-and-run platformer is a sequel to Rayman Origins.
Up to four players can enjoy local co-op to blaze through Rayman Legends’ spectacular levels. It’s always a blast running through Rayman’s epic set pieces with your friends as you all attempt to reach the end alive.
Rayman and his friends have a very simple move set, such as fundamental running and jumping. They can also dish out a simple attack combo to take down enemies.
Where Rayman Legends truly shines is in its fantastic level design and momentum-based flow. The game has a knack for putting you in a zen state where it feels like you’re flowing through the levels.
This is most evident during the game’s musical levels, which are so much fun to play. Each melody, musical notes, and beat are lovingly represented on screen, and you have to keep in time with it to complete the level. There are also 8-bit remixes of these levels that you can unlock.
The game has been released on most major consoles, but the Nintendo Switch version is the definitive edition. For instance, it has all the exclusive skins from previous consoles. Additionally, it also has 40 levels from Rayman Origins.
Rayman Legend’s graphics boast detailed art that allows the game to continue to feel modern as time goes on.
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze
Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze was originally released for the Wii U in 2014 before coming to the Nintendo Switch on 2018. Donkey Kong’s side-scrolling games like Donkey Kong Country have always been high-quality platformers, and Tropical Freeze continues that tradition.
The events begin after Donkey Kong and his family were attacked in their peaceful island paradise by the Snowmads. The Snowmads used a magical horn to freeze the island, and it’s up to the DK crew to save it.
Assume control of the loveable Donkey Kong as you traverse through the island. It’s unbelievable creative how much mileage they’re able to get from one setting. There are even many cinematic moments that are a treat for the eyes.
Donkey Kong isn’t as nimble as other platformer protagonists. He’s weighty and has a clunky time repositioning, which means that platforming must be much more precise.
However, Donkey Kong is quite powerful, able to ground pound to break surfaces or roll through enemies. You’ll have to get used to his weight and momentum to reach the level’s end.
The other Kong family members also make an appearance as partners to assist you. For example, Diddy Kong can hover over wide gaps with his Barrel Jet. He can also shoot peanuts at enemies with his iconic pistols.
Tropical Freeze is a challenging platformer, bordering on frustration at times. Don’t expect to smoothly clear a level on your first time through, as it will take memorization and tight execution to pass the trials.
There are also secret rooms hidden throughout the level that will give you tough challenges. Additionally, you can also collect four letters located in hard-to-reach areas throughout the level. Getting all of them unlocks a stage with a great reward.
Funky Mode is basically an easier mode for those who love the game but aren’t up to the challenge, so it offers playability for gamers of all abilities.
Sonic Mania is a love letter to the iconic franchise and a must-play for any devout fans of the blue hedgehog. This is also a fantastic introduction to Sonic’s greatest hits and more for newcomers to the franchise.
Sonic Mania leans a bit too heavily on nostalgia for the past games, as most zones are repurposed ones from the past. Gameplay is also a pure form of the classic title with a few stage gimmicks here and there.
The lightning-fast 2D side-scrolling formula of the original still works, and there’s no need to change it. Sonic Mania is one of the best platformer games on Switch, even if it’s based on much older, original 2D games.
Play as either Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles as you blaze through obstacles and enemies to reach the end of the zone. Each zone has tons of secrets and multiple paths to go through, making it a replayable experience.
The playable characters have different unique skills, such as Knuckles being able to climb walls. Additionally, there’s also a light multiplayer system so you and your friend can blast through the levels together.
Present in Sonic Mania are hidden areas used to find Chaos Emeralds and unlock the game’s true ending. Updating the graphics while keeping the classic gameplay fresh makes Sonic Mania a true delight.
Neon White is a unique puzzle platforming game on Switch because it combines first-person shooter elements to it. The main difference with other games is that these two gameplay elements are seamlessly blended with each other.
You’ll play as an assassin taken from hell for an annual competition in Heaven. You and other sinners are given a chance to take down demons infesting the area. Whoever has the fastest time and highest score will get to stay there for eternity.
The premise screams speedrunning, and the gameplay follows. As creative director Ben Esposito said, Neon White is a game that will appeal to “freaks.”
Each hand-crafted level encourages you to complete it as fast and efficiently as possible. You’ll do this by clearing the area of all demons and then reaching the end.
Barring a few boss fights, each stage should take less than a minute on your first try and a few seconds after repeated attempts.
Neon White’s stand-out feature is that the weapons you’ll use are cards with two functions. First, a simple primary shot with a limited resource. And second, you can discard the card to activate a platforming action.
For instance, the basic pistol card will function as expected when shot. However, discarding it lets you perform a double jump.
Outside of that, Neon White tells its story like a visual novel with a light dating sim element. Honestly, the dialogue is overly corny and may not appeal to most audiences. Despite that, its uber-tight and polished gameplay mixed with the game’s electric soundtrack is more than enough to hook players into entry-level speedrunning and a lighthearted laugh.
Snake Pass is a unique platformer because the protagonist doesn’t move like other main characters. Gone are traditional dashing and jumping; in this game, you’ll interact with the world like a snake.
You’ll play as a colorful and cute coral snake named Noodle accompanied by a talkative bird partner named Doodle. Snake Pass has you collecting keystones to save their home jungle, Haven Tor.
Snake Pass’ primary appeal is its physics-based puzzle platforming. You’ll have a few simple controls to move around Noodle’s scaly body, such as rotating its head and commanding Doodle to lift its tail.
Therefore, in order to move faster, you have to slither around like a snake. Furthermore, you’ll have to coil and wrap yourself around objects to pass through them or climb upwards.
Snake Pass is initially frustrating, but stick to it and you’ll eventually get a hand with the controls and how physics works in the game. Even so, expect the occasional mistake to send you back to the nearest checkpoint.
Snake Pass is fun and intuitive, perfect for players who prefer a more cerebral approach to their platformers rather than quick reflexes. It’s one of the best platformer Switch games, and it’s a unique one too.
Ori and the Blind Forest
Ori and the Blind Forest has many cinematic inspirations. For example, its story draws homage from The Iron Giant, and the mesmerizing hand-painted visuals were inspired by Studio Ghibli films, especially Princess Mononoke.
The coming-of-age story features a young guardian spirit named Ori. After a cataclysmic event drains the sacred forest of life, Ori must venture out to save it.
Ori is one of the best platformer games on Nintendo Switch because of its emphasis on precise platforming. As the game progresses and you’ll collect more skills, the challenge and complexity of levels also increase.
For example, one of Ori’s most useful ability is called Bash. Once you’re near a lantern or an enemy projectile, you can redirect it away while propelling yourself in another direction. You’ll use this layered ability in both combat and platforming.
Ori has a unique saving system where you’ll decide to make your own checkpoints. Since this uses up a valuable and limited resource, choosing where to save is an important and risky decision.
The highlight of Ori and the Blind Forest is the punishing platforming gauntlets which can last up to several minutes. These intense set-piece sequences are as tricky as they are visually stunning. One wrong move and you’ll be booted back to the very beginning, demanding complete mastery from you.
A Hat in Time
A Hat in Time is a lighthearted collect-a-thon platformer that’s oozing with charm and good vibes in every moment on screen. Despite its kid-friendly design approach, A Hat in Time has enough complexity and challenge to lure in veterans of the platformer genre.
You’ll play as the mysterious alien girl known only as Hat Kid, who is currently on a return trip to her home planet. After a freak encounter with the mafia, her valuable Time Pieces were lost on the nearby planet.
You’ll be going through different themed open world levels to look for these Time Pieces. These platforming playgrounds are not only a visual and thematic treat, but they’re also fun platforming playgrounds.
The second chapter will forever stay in my memory because of its creativity and excellent execution. The narrative of that chapter features two clashing movie directors and how you’ll help either of them win an award in the final act.
While exploring, you’ll come across yarn to craft different hats. These hats grant unique abilities such as full-on sprints or throwing projectiles. You’ll eventually learn to weave these new abilities seamlessly while platforming.
A Hat in Time also features light combat using your trusty umbrella. Like the rest of the game, these boss fights are creative and fun to play.
For those seeking harder platforming challenges, there are secret areas you can find that take you to an isolated void. These sub-levels are similar to Super Mario Sunshine’s secret levels.
A Hat in Time is great for long-time fans of 3D collect-a-thon platformers like Banjo-Kazooie and Super Mario 64.
Super Mario Odyssey
It wouldn’t be a legitimate list of platformer games without the iconic plumber himself, Mario. There are many great Mario titles on Switch, but Super Mario Odyssey is in a higher league of its own design.
Mario pairs up with a sentient cap named Cappy, as they both seek to stop Bowser, who kidnapped Princess Peach (as tradition goes). Along the way, Mario travels to different themed Kingdoms to find power moons to fuel their hat-shaped ship called the Odyssey.
Mario is in his best shape in years with all the expressive moves he could pull off. It’s seamless and fluid to triple jump, roll, long jump, perform wall kicks, and many other tricks to grab those collectible power moons.
It all comes together when you incorporate Cappy into your move set. For example, Mario can throw Cappy mid-air to change his direction, or even belly flop on top of Cappy for some extra distance and height.
Mario games are famous for their unique gimmick throughout their games. In Super Mario Odyssey, Cappy can take control of other units in the environment, gaining their special powers. For instance, possessing a frog will let you leap high into the air.
Super Mario Odyssey appeals to both casual players and hardcore platformer veterans. After all, you don’t need to learn Mario’s advanced moves to finish the game. However, for those who do, there are harder moons to collect if you’re up to it. Furthermore, there are tons of secret challenges for those who really want to test their skills with the plumber.
Celeste is an amazing indie title that took the gaming world by storm because of its buttery smooth controls and brilliant level design. For any fans of the genre, this is a must-play platformer.
You’ll play as a young woman named Madeline, who decided to climb up Mount Celeste in an effort to overcome her personal struggles. The game’s themes center around her depression and anxiety, especially learning to live with it.
They incorporate these personal struggles themes to put you through difficult platforming levels. As more mechanics get slowly introduced, so do the challenge and complexity.
However, unlike action games like Dark Souls, Celeste doesn’t take pleasure in defeating you. Instead, it encourages players to keep going despite hardship—for example, having a lightning quick respawn time so players can attempt again.
Madeline doesn’t have a wide array of movesets like a character like Mario does. You’ll get by through jumping and dashing. But as mentioned previously, these two fundamental moves will be put to their limit through the game’s clever level design.
Celeste is notoriously challenging, and each chapter has a B-side or a more difficult version of the base game. For those truly craving a challenge, an ultimate challenge awaits those who can master the game’s hidden advanced mechanics.
Surprisingly, Celeste is also an accessible game. The game offers customizable sliders to fine-tune your experience with the game if you’re finding it hard to continue.
Let’s not forget Celeste has a truly amazing, melancholic and hopeful soundtrack. Honestly, this is such an easy game to recommend for those that have made it all the way to the end of this list, so be sure to give it a try.