The 10 Best Platformer Games on Xbox Series X / S

Platformer games are a tried and true genre dating back as long as gaming has been alive. Running, jumping, dashing, rolling, and shooting are all staples of the platformer genre.

Simple controls that are easy to pick up but difficult to master are the name of the game here. There are a ton of platformer games available on Xbox Series X / S that have both been released recently or retro games that can be downloaded.

Regardless, we are here today to look at the best platformer games of any generation that you can play on your Xbox Series X / S right now.

So, without further ado, let’s get started!

10. Celeste

Celeste is one of the most unique platformer games of recent memory. However, unlike a lot of other platformer games, Celeste leans much more so into its narrative.

In this game, you play as a young girl on a quest to reach the top of Celeste Mountain. However, along the way, you will be forced to confront and combat your inner demons.

Celeste’s story really gives weight to each action you make in-game, and meeting with new and interesting characters is half the fun.

Celeste’s gameplay is deceptively simple. On the surface, you can only jump and dash, among a few other movement options.

However, as the platforming sections increase in difficulty, you will need to perfectly master these actions and execute them perfectly to make it through each level.

Celeste is a great indie game with an amazing art style and soundtrack to back it up. It definitely deserves to be checked out by any avid gamer.

9. Sonic Mania Plus

Sonic Mania is a Sonic game developed by fans for fans. Sonic Team has continuously tried to push out as many Sonic games as they can, often with lackluster gimmicks meant to make money.

For every gem like Sonic Generations, we received several hollow titles like Sonic Boom. It seems that Sonic Team refused to listen to fans about what makes a good Sonic game or what they want in a new Sonic game.

Well, a group of spirited developers took it upon themselves to create their own Sonic game, and it’s very telling that their creation is easily one of the best 2D Sonic games ever created.

Sonic Mania showed so much potential that Sonic Team themselves decide to assist with the production and commercial release of the game.

Sonic is back to basics here, zooming through levels at super-fast speed while taking part in highly-reactive and tricky platforming challenges.

Several of the older zones from previous Sonic the Hedgehog games have been revamped here to pay homage to the games of yesteryear while also keeping things fresh.

The music as well has been remixed to where it retains the same catchiness and upbeat groove of the original games while introducing even more melodies unavailable in the base games due to hardware limitations.

Sonic Mania Plus is a great game and the return to form for the Blue Blur that everyone had been waiting for.

Hopefully, Sonic Team learn their lesson and continue pumping out Sonic games with the same overall care, quality assurance, and passion behind them that Sonic Mania Plus does.

8. Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight is not only one of the best platformer games on Xbox Series X / S, but also one of the best Metroidvanias on Steam, PS5, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox alike.

The game boasts sprawling underground worlds in which players will traverse, collect items, and take down enemies.

Like most other Metroidvania games, players will be traveling between screens and backtracking quite a lot.

As such, a key component of any successful Metroidvania is to keep things interesting. Luckily, Hollow Knight manages to accomplish this not only with its great gameplay but its overall aesthetics as well.

Hollow Knight’s somber atmosphere really draws players into its world. The music also goes above and beyond at every opportunity to evoke emotion, whether it be tension, excitement, or anything in between.

Hollow Knight is a must-play for any fan of the platformer genre. Hollow Knight’s long-awaited sequel Hollow Knight: Silksong is right around the corner, so make sure you play through the original before it comes out.

7. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair

The first Yooka-Laylee title was a major disappointment, especially to those who had been waiting for a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie for years.

The game felt more like a fan project someone had cooked up by themselves with a bunch of friends, as opposed to a game made by professionals with a $2,000,000 budget.

Thankfully, Playtonic Games went back to the lab and really worked hard on what made Yooka-Laylee so underwhelming.

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair takes inspiration from 2D platformers like Donkey Kong Country.

The gameplay is much tighter, with levels being better designed as well. Something great about this game is that players are free to take on the final level at any time they choose.

The titular Impossible Lair is a sprawling level with tons of tricky platforming challenges and tough enemies to defeat.

As you play through the game, you will increase your overall health, thereby allowing you to take more hits in the Impossible Lair without receiving a game over.

However, those with the skill to take on the Impossible Lair without ever getting hit are free to do so!

Playtonic Games should be praised for switching up what didn’t work in their original formula and striving to provide their fans with a game they can be proud of.

6. Cuphead

Cuphead is a game that pushes the boundaries of what makes a good platformer. Not only does this game have some of the tightest controls and fun gameplay of any platformer currently on the market, but it has one of the most unique art styles ever imagined.

Cuphead’s art style is the first thing that will catch your attention. Each frame of animation in Cuphead is hand drawn. For some bosses with hundreds of different attacks and abilities, we struggle to think just how long it must have taken to get everything looking as smooth as it does.

This isn’t to say that a great art style is the only thing going for Cuphead by any means. Cuphead has some of the slickest gameplay out there.

While there are several sidescrolling modes that can be found in Cuphead, the real joy comes from taking on the many challenging bosses.

Each boss fight in Cuphead has unique mechanics and telegraphed attacks that you must learn and react to in real-time.

On the surface, Cuphead’s controls are fairly simple. You can equip several different weapons, but only one button is used to attack. On top of this, you can also jump, dash, parry, and unleash a super attack.

However, as boss fights increase in difficulty the further into the game you progress, mastering when to use each of these offensive options becomes vital in surviving to the bitter end.

Cuphead recently released its thought-to-be final DLC, The Delicious Last Course. This DLC adds tons of new bosses, including those that can only be defeated via parrying.

Furthermore, the introduction of Ms. Chalice helps to spice up the gameplay even more, as she plays entirely differently than Cuphead and Mugman. Her extra starting health also gives newer players struggling to defeat certain tricky bosses a little boost.

All in all, Cuphead is one of the tightest platformers ever made, and you should definitely check it out if you have not done so already.

5. Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy

The Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy is a wonderful remake of the original three Crash Bandicoot games.

Every game has been given a fresh coat of paint, and in most cases, several new gameplay elements have been added to each title as well.

Crash is back and looking better than ever in these games, as not only is his character model modernized, but so are the enemies and levels as well.

Additionally, elements from later Crash Bandicoot titles (such as the Time Trials) now also make an appearance in the first game.

However, it should be stated that these levels were never designed with time trials in mind, so it can be tricky at times to make it through the earlier stages under a time limit.

That being said, more content is always appreciated, and Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy has this in spades.

The game is incredibly difficult at times, offering some of the most tricky platforming challenges seen in recent years.

Not only is Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy easily one of the best platformers on Xbox Series X / S, but one of the best platformers on Steam, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch as well.

4. Banjo-Tooie

Banjo-Tooie is the highly praised sequel to Banjo-Kazooie. Despite this game being a direct continuation of the previous game. almost everything about this new entry is changed or expanded upon.

The story of Banjo-Tooie takes a much greater focus this time around. The first hour or so of the game is nothing but cutscenes. It is clear that the developers wanted to try their hands at a more compelling story compared to Banjo-Kazooie’s captured princess narrative.

Because of this, things start off a little slowly in Banjo-Tooie, but luckily the witty writing keeps things interesting even during these slower sections.

The biggest difference between Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie would have to be the levels themselves.

Each level this time around has been drastically expanded, so much so that the team felt the need to include warp points and fast travel.

Additionally, these worlds feel more interconnected than ever before. In Banjo-Kazooie, there is one instance where an ability from a later world is required to acquire a jigsaw piece from an earlier one.

However, in Banjo-Tooie, events in one world will directly impact events in another. Whether it be dropping an ice cube out of the sky to melt a pool of boiling water, freeing a dinosaur to reunite with its family, or sneaking past a guard in order to reach the top of a mountain of treasure, you will be backtracking to past worlds a lot in this game.

Banjo-Tooie also includes far more boss battles. There weren’t really any boss battles in Banjo-Kazooie aside from the final fight against Gruntilda.

This time around, boss battles are found in every world, complete with their own mechanics and theme music.

Speaking of new additions, tons of new content can be found in Banjo-Tooie. Right from the outset, all your moves from the previous game have been retained, while lots of new moves can be learned as you progress through the game.

Transformations return but now vary between animals, appliances, and vehicles. Additionally, new mechanics such as the first-person-shooter mode, the soccer and on-rail minigames, and multiply playable characters (like Mumbo) only add to the overall fun.

It seems like the team at Rare wanted to see how many new mechanics they could cram into Banjo-Tooie.

At times, this does make the game feel a bit bloated, especially if you decide to play this game directly after Banjo-Kazooie. The worlds themselves are very sprawling, and it can be annoying to pace through them at times as well.

However, for any minor shortcomings the game has, Banjo-Tooie is by far one of the greatest video game sequels to ever exist. It stays true to everything great about the original game while expanding things as much as possible.

3. Spyro: Reignited Trilogy

Spyro is a franchise that has been through some tough times over the years. After an amazing trilogy of games on the PlayStation, the purple dragon could never reach the same highs as he had done back in the day.

Instead, the popular Spyro brand was passed around in order to see if anyone could recapture the magic.

Spyro seemed destined for a life as nothing more than a Skylanders toy. However, after the success of the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy, it was only a matter of time before Spyro received a similar kind of redemption.

Spyro: Reignited Trilogy is just as expertly crafted as Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy. All three games have been masterfully reimagined with a fresh and modernized art style.

The gameplay has been left relatively untouched, allowing both veterans and newcomers to experience the new set of games as originally intended.

Spyro has always had a dedicated speedrunning community, but a lot of the old tricks and glitches cannot be used in this version.

Luckily, there exists a host of brand-new glitches and exploits for people to try out in Spyro: Reignited Trilogy.

Now, people can have the choice to speedrun whichever game they prefer, whether it be because of the art style, controls, or shortcuts.

Spyro: Reignited Trilogy is an extremely fun set of three classics that we can’t recommend enough.

2. Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is both the gaming completionist’s dream and worst nightmare.

There is so much content in this game that collecting everything in this game is not for the faint of heart. Crates, crystals, and gems all make their return in Crash 4 with an increase in quantity.

Arguably, there is far too much content available here, and casual players will definitely feel turned off by how much time investment is required to achieve 100%.

Additionally, crates are often placed in locations no sane person would think to look and occasionally require leaps of faith to find without a strategy guide.

However, aside from these two gripes, Crash 4 is a glorious return to form for the orange marsupial and one of the best 3D platformers released in recent memory.

This game is no slouch when it comes to tough platforming challenges and will test even the most hardcore of gamers to breaking point.

Thankfully, there are several quality of life improvements that have been added to Crash 4 to make things far easier.

The biggest of these has to be the shadow that can now be found underneath Crash every time he jumps. Such a simple addition goes a long way to ensuring that your jumps are precise and reducing the number of cheap deaths on the part of a wonky perspective.

Crash Bandicoot as a franchise is no stranger to multiple playable characters, but now there are more than ever before. You can play as Crash, Coco, Cortex, Dingodile, and more!

Each character comes with their own abilities and, oftentimes, entire levels built around their unique mechanics.

Speaking of level design, Crash Bandicoot 4 has some of the most visually appealing levels in any Crash game.

Not only do the base levels look sublime on the Xbox Series X / S, but some levels in Crash 4 switch up their art style when replayed in different modes such as Time Trial.

All of these aspects come together wonderfully to make Crash 4 one of the best 3D platformers of the past decade.

1. Banjo-Kazooie

Banjo-Kazooie is the pinnacle of 3D platforming and has been since its original release more than two decades ago.

For a game series with only two mainline entries, it is a testament to the game design of these two titles that the bear and bird duo are still being talked about today.

Not only is Banjo-Kazooie mentioned in conversations about 3D platformers, but is still actively impacting the gaming world today.

While Banjo-Kazooie has been available through Rare Replay on Xbox for some time, the game has finally made its way to Nintendo Switch Online after the pair appeared as DLC fighters in Super Smash Brothers Ultimate (something only possible due to an outcry from fans since Super Smash Brothers 4).

What can be said about Banjo-Kazooie that hasn’t been said already? Where Super Mario 64 laid the foundation for what makes an excellent 3D platformer, Banjo-Kazooie perfected it.

More than anything, Banjo-Kazooie is a collect-a-thon. However, each level is designed in such a way that each collectible (be it jigsaw pieces, notes, or honeycomb pieces) guides you to various key locations across the map.

Each level in Banjo-Kazooie is incredibly unique, with a beautiful score created by the one and only Grant Kirkhope.

Gameplay in Banjo-Kazooie varies from simple exploration, combat against enemies, tricky platforming challenges, or solving various puzzles.

Thankfully, there are a ton of moves for you to learn which will help you in different situations. These include a faster movement option, flight, invincibility, and more!

Furthermore, most levels come with a unique transformation where Banjo and Kazooie are morphed into different animals. These transformations help spice up the gameplay even further as they provide different platforming challenges and unique minigames.

Finally, we couldn’t talk about Banjo-Kazooie without praising its excellent dialogue.

Despite this game having a paper-thin damsel in distress storyline, interactions between characters are filled with so much dry British humor and personality.

Kazooie is such a joy to listen to whenever she berates those around her into coughing up their valuable jigsaw pieces.

All in all, Banjo-Kazooie stands at the very top of the 3D platforming genre and will continue to do so until it is one day dethroned by the long-awaited Banjo-Threeie.

We can only dream.

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