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Celeste to Cuphead, 6 platformer games to challenge your reflexes

If you're looking to hope on some casual platforming fun, here are some recommendations.

Written by Rahul Chettiyar | Mumbai |
February 8, 2022 6:53:56 pm
Platformer games, best platformer games, cuphead,Celeste to Cuphead, 6 platformer games to challenge your reflexes. (Image credit: Cuphead)

Back in the day, only RCA-enabled consoles had the benefit of running great platformers. “Over 9000” pixelated games would come packaged in dust-ridden, plastic cartridges that had to be blown into before you could get a display on-screen.

The genre took a dip in the mid-2000s, as many publishers moved on to create 3D open-world shooters. However, the indie segment has managed to keep that spark alive, and over the past decade have flooded digital platforms with some solid entries. If you are looking to relive past memories and want to try out some modern retro platformers, here are some recommendations.

Celeste

The challenging levels of Celeste are isolated from its narrative that moves you into tears. Set on a fictional interpretation of Mount Celeste, the story follows Madeline, a young woman who attempts to climb the mountain while facing her inner demons. Throughout their run, players will encounter over 700 screens of hardcore challenges, and hidden locations teeming with a charming cast.

best platformer games The sombre soundtrack does well to complement the emotions Celeste tries to convey. (Screenshot)

The narrative deals with self-discovery and mental illness through ingenious levels that encourage you to keep trying and master new moves. Also, the respawn time is ridiculously fast here, ensuring you don’t get frustrated each time you die.

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Jump King

On the surface, Jump King looks like a simple platformer – you leap across stages and make it to the top of the world to kiss a “Smoking Hot Babe.” The only issue is, every movement is accurate to the highest degree and requires a lot of patience to master. One mistake could lead to you losing hours of progress, urging you to think about each step, jump height, and timing.

best platformer games According to the “legend” in Jump King, there’s a ‘Smoking Hot Babe’ at the top of the world. (Screenshot)

The higher you jump, the harder you fall, making for a tough yet addictive experience. Every bit of progress and fall is automatically saved and the snappy pixelated animation adds a touch of nostalgia. It’s essentially the Dark Souls of jumping games.

Cuphead

Drawing heavy inspiration from 1930s cartoons like Looney Tunes, Cuphead is a tough run and gun platformer that’s heavily focussed on creative boss battles. Players take control of the titular protagonist and enter strange worlds to fight a range of foes such as a giant carrot with sonic powers, a duo of hooligan frogs, an evil genie, and more, in hopes of collecting enough souls to repay the Devil.

best platformer games The retro 1930s animation in Cuphead evokes strong nostalgia. (Screenshot)

Players can purchase new weapons and skills over time, and even take part in fun mini-games to earn enough currency. The jazz soundtrack is solid here, and it also features an additional ‘Expert’ difficulty for those up to a new challenge.

Inside

From the creators of the iconic indie game Limbo, this platformer relies more on your common sense and puzzle-solving skills than quick reflexes. Hunted and alone, a boy finds himself in the midst of a dark project, involving docile pigs and zombie-like test subjects. The title is extremely silent and moody, evoking a sense of horror, as you evade wild dogs, tranquillizer darts, and security machines.

best platformer games, inside, Inside is another masterclass of a puzzle platformer from the creators of Limbo. (Screenshot)

All deaths are presented realistically and are often graphic, with horrid animations that may or may not soften the blow. Clocking in at around two or three hours, it’s one of the shortest games on this list, brimming with ingenious puzzles that have a direct effect on your survival.

Mark of the Ninja

Fans of the Dishonored series of games will love this one. You play as a present-day ninja and run across the rooftops of an enemy clan – sneaking past guards, throwing a shuriken into street lights to dim your surroundings, and dropping onto unsuspecting enemies from vents. All guards exist in different states of alertness, forcing you to come up with different tactics to bypass each of them.

best platformer games, mark of the ninja, Mark of the Ninja is essentially Dishonored on a 2-dimensional plane. (Screenshot)

Despite being equipped with a range of shinobi tools, players are free to take the pacifist route and go through levels without killing anyone. Either playstyle has its own rewards, and the new remastered update adds some gorgeous scenery and flowing animation to the mix.

Mirror’s Edge

In the 3D space, Mirror’s Edge promises a smooth platforming experience, as you sprint and parkour your way across tall structures. Inspired by the chase scenes in Casino Royale and the Jason Bourne films, the game features hundreds of first-person animations to convey Faith’s movement and reflexes as she grows more agile with each upgrade.

best platformer games, mirrors edge, Mirror’s Edge set the benchmark from every forthcoming parkour based game. (Screenshot)

There’s a surrounding story element as well, though the fun lies in simply jumping between rooftops, climbing pipes, and running along walls while some techno music blares in the background. Similar to Dying Light 2, there is no sprint button here. So, you’re required to be precise in your movement and in time, build enough momentum to zip past enemies with ease and flair.

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