11 Charming Platformer Games Like Mario Odyssey
From his first Goomba stomp on the NES to his pioneering foray into the third dimension, Mario defined the platform game genre. Even in the dire aughts, when interest in 3D platformers waned and rivals like Sonic and Crash Bandicoot fell by the wayside, Nintendo’s little red mascot was a constant, unstoppable force.
In 2017, Super Mario Odyssey redefined the genre again. Players and critics alike heaped praise onto Mario’s largest, most ambitious adventure to date, reveling in the free-flowing movement and captivated by its inventive level design.
In the years since, we’ve seen a revival of the 3D platformer. There’s also been a deluge of new properties that have each taken this genre jumping into wild new directions.
Done with Odyssey and need a new game to fill that plumber-shaped hole in your heart? You’ve come to the right place. This list of 11 charming platform games like Super Mario Odyssey has some of the very best modern 3D platformers just for you.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury gives you two Mario games for the price of one. Neither game is as expansive or lengthy as other games like Mario Odyssey, but together, they make a formidable package with dozens of hours of content.
The meat of this mash-up is in Super Mario 3D World, which offers an interesting mix of old and new mechanics. It’s a side-scrolling platformer in the vein of classic Mario but with 3D stages and a gimmick for each of the game’s worlds.
You’re not limited to Mario, either; Peach, Luigi, and the gang are all here with their own unique abilities.
The second game, Bowser’s Fury, plays like a smaller, tighter Odyssey. There’s one spicy twist: every few minutes, Bowser goes nuts, unleashing jets of fire and conjuring a rainstorm of glowing blocks. King Koopa’s irregular tantrums interject moments of insanity amidst the familiar platforming; quite the contrast from the self-paced exploration of Odyssey.
Yooka-Laylee is a love letter to the platforming collect-a-thons of the ’90s and early 2000s. Playing as its adorable chameleon and bat duo, players traverse a series of large stages, grabbing collectibles and smooshing baddies along the way.
Those who grew up with an N64 have already guessed the heavy Banjo-Kazooie inspiration (the name Yooka-Laylee is an overt homage to Rare’s platformer, too). Like in Banjo-Kazooie, players will have to switch between Yooka and Laylee in order to solve puzzles and overcome obstacles. This copied mechanic feels new thanks to the clever move sets of the hero duo.
In keeping with mascot platformer tradition, the dialogue is snarky and sarcastic without delving into the crass or rude. It’s lighthearted with attitude; classic cartoon fare from an era before the industry became obsessed with the gritty and unsentimental.
Yooka-Laylee has been criticized for borrowing too much from the classics, but who says you have to reinvent the wheel? The fun abilities, satisfying platforming, and hilarious, tongue-in-cheek writing style more than make up for any shortage of vision. Fans of games like Super Mario Odyssey will love this game.
A Hat in Time
Indie darling A Hat in Time ticks all the boxes of a great open-world platformer à la Super Mario Odyssey. A loveable protagonist? Huge sandbox levels? Hat-based powers? Check, check, check. And it did it all two weeks before Odyssey released on Switch.
While Super Mario Odyssey thrives on the mobility of its hatted hero, A Hat in Time is a display of creative set design. One chapter sees Hat Kid play detective on a murder mystery train. In another, she’s caught up in a feud of rival directors. The episodic structure and zany scenarios make you feel like you’ve stepped into a great Saturday morning cartoon.
Light and breezy with a clever plot and excellent writing, this sets the new standard for modern platform games. The hat powers feel fresh and fun, and the levels are full of all sorts of secrets to discover on subsequent play-throughs.
Any self-respecting platformer fan should have A Hat in Time in their library. It’s one of the most impressive games like Mario Odyssey to liven up the indie niche on the Switch.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy
The Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a faithful remake of the PlayStation platformer series that introduces a new generation of gamers to the colorful, fantastical world of Spyro.
In an era where massive game spaces are ubiquitous, you’d think the ability to glide through the skies would lose some of its luster, but developers Toys for Bob know not to fix what ain’t broke. The remaster’s fluid, free-flowing movement perfectly recreates the feel of the original; further proof Spyro’s timeless appeal.
With all-new cutscenes and a visual overhaul, this is the best way to experience the plucky purple protagonist’s Dragon Realm escapades. If you’re like us, you’ll find yourself just taking in Spyro’s vivid and vibrant world, awash with nostalgia for one of the best PS1 games ever.
The Reignited Trilogy does more than simply bring the series’ visuals up to modern standards; it faithfully recreates how we remember the game looking and feeling. So, you’ll feel that magic, whether you’re an old hand or experiencing Spyro for the first time.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is a reboot-slash-sequel that continues where The Wrath of Cortex left off. Fans of games like Mario Odyssey will love it.
The platforming is as delightful now as it was when the first Crash Bandicoot came out in 1996. Crash’s double jump, ground slam, and spin attack all return, as do the stages that will test your platforming mastery.
These familiar mechanics turn on their head once you mix in the new Quantum Masks, which allow Crash to bend gravity and slow down time. These are simple gimmicks but their effect on the flow of the Crash 4’s stages is immense. A single gravity switch could let you skip a line of baddies or send you flying into the void.
There’s a compelling mishmash of old and new ideas here that blend together seamlessly, making for a Crash game that milks nostalgia while also moving the series forward.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is yet another new game in a longstanding series. This time, the last Lombax in the universe and his mechanical companion travel through dimensions to stop the abominable Dr. Nefarious and repair the fabric of space and time.
Ratchet & Clank may be an old franchise but this new adventure feels as radical as ever. Built from the ground up to showcase the PlayStation 5’s new tech, A Rift Apart is a sterling showcase of the power beneath the hood of Sony’s console.
The dynamic duo’s trip through the multiverse takes them to a stunning selection of memorable sites, from a crowded future-metropolis to lush and vibrant jungles, all brought to life with ray tracing and dazzling art direction.
Although the stakes are massive (literally the fate of all the dimensions), Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart keeps you hooked with its intimate tale of a Lombax lost in space, time, and self. Its cast of characters, both old and new, is the series’ most colorful to date, and each individual has their role to play in Ratchet’s journey of self-discovery.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Nintendo’s always treated Kirby as a guinea pig for gimmicks.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land breaks away from this tradition of experimentation, offering instead a refined rendition of Kirby’s tried-and-true puffball platforming. Float, jump, and eat bad guys to steal their powers; it’s classic Kirby, but bigger and better than ever.
While Super Mario Odyssey taps into the freewheeling autonomy of Super Mario 64, Kirby and the Forgotten Land takes us all the way back to the series’ side-scrolling platformer roots. Except for the hidden areas, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a largely linear experience, but it works because it’s tightly packed and expertly paced.
Platformer veterans will roll their eyes at the excessive handholding, but this isn’t a game for the over-serious gamer. Give your non-gamer friend (or kid, or boomer parent, etc.) the second controller and be their guide through the wild and wacky world of Kirby.
New Super Lucky’s Tale
Like Kirby and the Forgotten Land, New Super Lucky’s Tale takes a back to basics approach to the 3D platform game genre.
Rather than overwhelm you with a diverse move set, Lucky only has four skills: jump, double-jump, tail attack, and the ability to burrow. This does away with the complex movement sequences of Odyssey, returning focus to platforming over mechanical skill.
The small move set also allows you to quickly come to grips with Lucky’s repertoire, which cuts down the learning time so you can concentrate on just exploring the colorful world around you.
Fun characters exist all throughout the game’s numerous worlds, offering tidbits of lore and story to complement the running, jumping, and collecting.
Hardened gamers will find New Super Lucky’s Tale’s short duration and lack of difficulty irritating, but it’s clearly aimed toward the young’uns (both kids and your inner child). Maybe more importantly, it’s always good for a smile. Who doesn’t want that?
With its oddball characters and quirky-weird concept, it’s a wonder Psychonauts got a sequel at all. Picking up right where the first one left off, Psychonauts 2 again follows Raz, a freshly initiated Psychonaut intern who must undergo intense training to become a full agent.
You start your adventure in the stuffy confines of the Psychonaut facility but are quickly allowed outdoors to explore the grounds. It’s quite the sight, with a beautiful lakeside view, campgrounds, and a network of secret caves. Scattered throughout the area are collectibles, fun side quests, and all sorts of colorful characters to speak with.
Of course, the Psychonauts’ campus is only a hub zone; you’ll be spending most of your time inside the minds of others. Each of these psychic worlds takes elements from the personalities and psyches of its character. No two worlds look or feel the same, and the objectives you complete tie into the mental ailments that trouble their owners.
Psychonauts 2 is part Invader Zim with a pinch of Gravity Falls—a light childhood romp that’s just creepy and weird enough to make you sit up and take notice.
Kao the Kangaroo
The 3D platformer renaissance hasn’t just given a second wind to neglected genre classics; it’s breathed new life into some obscure gems you’ve probably never heard of. And you’d be forgiven for never having heard of Kao. It released on the Dreamcast near the end of the platformer boom, long after the market had become saturated with low-effort Crash clones.
Fortunately, the platforming holds up, though it has Crash Bandicoot to thank for that.
Like Crash, stages have one main path with multiple side paths. And every once in a while, you’ll find yourself in the middle of a cinematic set piece, running toward the camera and away from some chasing foe.
The original Kao the Kangaroo came out in 2000, and it shows, even with the remaster’s fancy new visuals. The dialogue teeters between tolerable and cringe-inducing, and the corny voice acting certainly doesn’t help.
Yet, there’s an earnestness to Kao that’s endearing, and it’s a solid enough offering that you can’t help but wonder what could have been if Kao had come out at a different time on a different console.
Poi: Explorer Edition
Released in 2017 amidst a tumult of retro platformers (capped off by a certain globetrotting Odyssey starring Big Red himself), Poi: Explorer Edition fell under the radar and largely out of sight.
Playing as one of two aspiring explorer siblings, you set off on a jet-setting adventure around the globe in search of the long-lost medallions of an elderly explorer.
Poi: Explorer Edition wears its influences on its sleeves. The retro platforming harkens back to the heyday of mascot collect-a-thons with their large, open spaces, moving platforms, and pixel-perfect jumps. One particular Italian plumber was clearly the biggest inspiration. Poi’s move set of backflips and triple jumps come right out of Super Mario 64.
This tribute to ’90s platformers set out to emulate games from that golden era, and it nails the look and feel. Poi: Explorer Edition might even be overly derivative—its unbending dedication to the retro can make it feel outdated, at times. That isn’t wholly a bad thing; there’s a certain spark the classics had that Poi gets just right.
If you’re a fan of games like Mario Odyssey, you’ll love this game. It’s a gem. It’s one of the best platform games on the Switch too.