The 10 Best 2D Platformers On Switch

Highlights

  • The Nintendo Switch offers a wide variety of 2D platformers, from big-budget titles to hidden gems, making it the ultimate platform for fans of the genre.
  • The Switch’s 2D catalog extends beyond Mario and Sonic, with innovative and creative games like Donut Dodo and Inside providing unique experiences.
  • Metroid Dread stands out as the best Metroidvania game on the Switch, combining atmospheric gameplay, stealth elements, and suspenseful storytelling.

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The Nintendo Switch is home to many outstanding 2D platformers. Whether you’re looking for big-budget triple-a titles, innovative indie games, or spectacular hidden gems, Nintendo’s beloved hybrid console is the place to look. Nintendo’s legendary career started with 2D platformers back on the NES.

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The company has had its ups and downs but never lost sight of the value of 2D games and the talented studios that make them. 2D platformers are some of the most creative and groundbreaking video game titles. If you want to experience the wonder these games can provide, the Nintendo Switch has your back.

Updated September 6, 2023, By PJ Molloy: It’s a great time to be a fan of 2D platformers. Switch owners are buzzing with excitement thanks to the hype surrounding Super Mario Bros. Wonder and Sonic Superstars, proving that even near the end of its lifespan, the Nintendo Switch is still the best place to go if you’re looking for 2D platformers. However, the Switch’s 2D catalog is much more than just Mario and Sonic, and new innovative games continue to launch for the console. If you’re looking for the best 2D platformers on Switch, plenty of games provide hours of content and new fun ideas.

15 Donut Dodo Is Perfect For Arcade Fans

Donut Dodo - Baker Billy Burns Running Through A Level Filled With Enemies And Fire

Here’s a hidden gem in the Switch’s catalog. Donut Dodo is right up your alley if you like 2D platformers from the arcade era. This game combines elements from classic arcade machines like Donkey Kong, Burger Time, and Pac-Man with modern quality-of-life improvements to create a nostalgic yet fresh experience.

The goal is to collect all the donuts scattered throughout the level while dodging enemies, climbing ladders, and grabbing fruit for bonus points. While it’s a short game, the smooth controls, catchy soundtrack, and unique levels make it one of the best 2D platformers on Switch.

14 Inside Is A Spooky 2D Platformer

Inside - A Boy Hides From A Robot In A Dark Wearhouse

Inside is a spooky puzzle platformer where you explore a macabre world filled with viscous parasites, zombie-like humans, and twisted science experiments. No matter where you go, there’s bound to be a spooky surprise to give you goosebumps.

The gameplay is simple, allowing you to focus on puzzling solving without needing to learn a lot of mechanics. The mysterious lore is thought-provoking and will keep you speculating about what this bizarre world represents. The game is a refreshing change of pace from the platforming genre’s usual cartoonish tone.

13 Kaze And The Wild Masks Is A Love Letter To The Super Nintendo

Kaze And The Wild Masks - Kaze Posing On A Grassy Hill

It’s hard not to compare Kaze And The Wild Masks to the Donkey Kong Country trilogy on Super Nintendo. The game has you running and jumping through colorful levels, collecting items, finding secret bonus rooms, and using masks to grant you temporary abilities.

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The gameplay, level design, and difficulty curve nail the feeling of a Donkey Kong Country game, with gorgeous visuals and quality-of-life updates to give the experience a modern feel. It’s a must-play if you like Donkey Kong or Super Nintendo platformers in general.

12 Metroid Dread Is The Best Metroidvania On Switch

Metroid Dread - Samus Sliding Past An EMMI

When it comes to 2D Nintendo Switch games, it doesn’t get more atmospheric than Metroid Dread. This game combines traditional Metroidvania gameplay with stealth segments to create one of the most suspenseful experiences on the Switch.

Samus is stuck on a remote planet where she’s hunted by a ruthless pack of indestructible robots called EMMIs. You explore several stunning areas, using a mix of shooting and close combat to take out massive bosses and find new abilities. If you like Metroidvanias, you owe it to yourself to play this one.

11 Kirby’s Return To Dream Land Deluxe Revives A Wii Classic

Kirby's Return To Dream Land Deluxe: Kirby, Meta Knight, King Dedede, Bandana Waddle Dee, And Magolor Jumping In The Air

Kirby’s Return To Dream Land Deluxe is the perfect choice if you want a casual platformer to play with friends. This game is a remake of a Wii title with new content and a fresh coat of paint. You and up to three others can explore quirky levels, find secrets, and gobble up enemies to steal their abilities.

If you played the original on Wii, there’s enough new content to make this remake feel unique. Throughout your adventure, you find new copy abilities, a new side mode featuring minigames from the series’ history, and a new campaign starring Magolor.

10 Bloodstained: Curse Of The Moon Is A Throwback To Castlevania

Bloodstained Curse Of The Moon - Zangetsu, Miriam, Alfred, And Gebel Posing In Front Of A Spooky Castle

Bloodstained: Curse Of The Moon is not just a tribute to the NES Castlevania trilogy; it’s an improvement. It takes the best elements of Konami’s beloved classics and updates them for the modern era. It’s a short game, but it has cleverly designed levels and a lot of replay value.

You meet several characters throughout your journey, and each one comes with a choice. You can add them to your party, giving you access to new routes and secrets, or you can kill them and steal their powers, expanding your move set. These decisions affect the story, gameplay, and ending.

9 Katana Zero Is An Action-Packed 2D Platformer

Katana Zero - The Assassin Leaping Through The Air To Attack A Group Of Bad Guys

If you’re looking for a fast-paced action platformer, Katana Zero has you covered. You’re an assassin tasked with carrying out a series of killings. Levels are separated into short, timed segments involving wall jumps, kicking down doors, slicing through enemies, and leaving no survivors.

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While the concept may sound intense, the game doesn’t take itself too seriously, adding plenty of humor to balance out the action and drama-heavy story. You can even take a break from your onslaught of bloody murders to pet a kitten. Who said assassins can’t be wholesome?

8 Sonic Mania Plus Celebrates The Series’ History

Sonic Mania Plus - Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles Posing On A Yellow Background

Sonic Mania Plus showcases everything that makes the Blue Blur great. Sonic and friends have never felt better to control, the gameplay is fast and exciting, and the levels are a mix of fan favorites from the Genesis and brand-new stages.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a game with this much love poured into it. There are Easter Eggs and references around every corner, such as the Sega Saturn-esque 3D models in the special stages and a boss fight in the style of Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine.

7 Yooka-Laylee And The Impossible Lair Pays Homage To Donkey Kong

Yooka-Laylee And The Impossible Lair - Yooka And Laylee Jumping Through The Air While Capital B Watches From The Background

Yooka-Laylee And The Impossible Lair is a spiritual successor to Donkey Kong Country with some new twists. Levels are reminiscent of the classic Rare platformers from the Super Nintendo, and each one comes with a variant. Things you do in the overworld will affect the levels, including changing the layout and adding new gimmicks.

Similar to Breath Of The Wild, you can challenge the final boss at any time. Beating levels just extend your health to make the final battle easier. The difficulty level is up to you, making this a perfect choice if you’re new to 2D platformers.

6 Super Mario Maker 2 Offers Endless Possibilities

Super Mario Maker 2 - Mario And Luigi Building A Level

Super Mario Maker 2 comes with all the chaos you’d expect from a Mario level editor. Whether you’re creating levels or playing someone else’s, the possibilities are limitless. Want to stack three Bowsers on top of each other? How about recreating worlds from Super Mario 64 in a 2D environment? You can do all of that and more.

Seeing the effort and creativity people put into designing stages is astounding. Some levels innovate the traditional Mario format in ways the New Super Mario Bros series only dreams of doing. Overall, Super Mario Maker 2 offers endless hours of content with new surprises around every corner.

5 Gris Is An Emotional Journey

Gris - A Woman Closing Her Eyes While Lit With Red And Blue Lights

Gris is not just a game; it’s an experience akin to stepping into a watercolor painting. It appears simple on the surface. You can run, jump, and gain new abilities as you progress. But there’s more to it than that.

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Gris starts with a young woman being robbed of her voice while the world is stripped of color. You explore breathtaking hand-drawn environments to restore color to the land. When you unlock a new hue, the character will burst into tears. How you interpret this story is up to you. Gris doesn’t tell you what to think. It lays everything out and lets you decide how it makes you feel.

4 Cuphead Is A Charming, Yet Brutal 2D Platformer

Cuphead - Cuphead And Mugman Fighting Baroness Von Bon Bon And Her Evil Castle

Only the minds at Studio MDHR would think of an idea as bold and interesting as Cuphead. This is a run-and-gun boss-rush platformer in the style of 1930s animation. Such an unprecedented idea is beyond refreshing and filled with charm.

Cuphead is famous for its ruthless difficulty, but it never feels unfair. The game does a great job of motivating you by having a variety of weapons and abilities to experiment with if you get stuck. It even includes a progress bar that shows how far you got before you died. Cuphead is the master of making you say, ‘Just one more try.’

3 Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove Pays Tribute To Retro Platformers

Shovel Knight Treasure Trove: Shovel Knight Standing With Shield Knight, Enchantress, And The Bosses

Shovel Knight combines the best elements of classic NES titles with new twists to create a beautiful love letter to retro platformers. The game is split into four non-linear campaigns, featuring gameplay that’s a mix of Mega Man, Castlevania, DuckTales, and Zelda 2.

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Shovel Knight stands out for its many innovations to the traditional platforming format. The ability to destroy checkpoints to earn extra money is a genius risk-versus-reward system that allows you to adjust the difficulty to your liking. Shovel Knight was an instant classic when it launched and is still one of the best indie games on the Switch.

2 Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze Is Breathtaking

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze: Official Art Featuring Donkey Kong, Diddy, Dixie, Cranky, And Funky

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze is a masterclass in level design. The levels are bursting with imagination. One minute, you’re riding a rhino through a raging tornado; the next, you’re hopping across giant popsicles in an ice cream factory or outrunning a massive buzzsaw in a collapsing warehouse.

There are five Kongs to choose from, each bringing something unique to the table. You can play the game single-player or grab a friend for co-op. The creativity and stellar levels easily make it one of the best 2D platformers on Switch.

1 Celeste Is The Best 2D Platformer On Switch

Celeste: Madeline Looking Out Over A Cliff

If someone argues that video games can’t be considered art, show them Celeste. This is one of the most beautiful games on Switch aesthetically and narratively. Madeline has challenged herself by climbing Mount Celeste. There are no enemies and no bosses. It’s just you and the mountain’s platforming challenges and secrets.

The mountain is a metaphor for anxiety and depression, which are depicted tastefully and accurately. There’s even some excellent LGBTQ+ representation. While the game is challenging, it never feels unfair and uses its difficulty to express a powerful message about not giving up.

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