The Best Platformers On Nintendo Switch

Platformers and Nintendo go hand in hand. They practically changed the game with Super Mario all those years ago and they’re still going strong with remasters and reimaginings of old classics on the Switch, as well as giving a bigger platform to some pretty great indie games and stuff from smaller teams.

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If you’re looking for a platform game on the Nintendo Switch, you’re not going to have to go too far as there’s a tonne of them to choose from. It’s a lot to sift through if you’re just looking for something quick to burn through or that next big challenge to lose some hours on. To help make your choice of what to play a little easier, here are some of the best platformer games on the Nintendo Switch.

Updated October 23, 2023 By Matthew Mckeown: Platformers and the Nintendo Switch are a match made in heaven. This powerful handheld is ideal for these kinds of quick, light, and arcade-style games that test your reflexes with tricky platforms and tough puzzles as they are always good for a few quick sessions.

There’s a plethora of platformers to pick out in the Nintendo store and most of them guarantee a good time as well as a suitable test of your abilities. If you’re itching to show off your digital athletics skills or fancy a new challenge with something different, then try out some more of the best platformers on the Nintendo Switch.

15 Cuphead

Cuphead: The Egyptian Level Boss Fight Featuring Pillars And Planes

Cuphead

Released
September 29, 2017

Developer(s)
Studio MDHR Entertainment Inc.

Publisher(s)
Studio MDHR Entertainment Inc.

Cute classic cartoon characters they may be, but don’t let Cuphead fool you. It’s a hard-as-nails platformer that can be pretty brutal at times, especially in some of its boss fights. Open to two players, you and a friend are in debt to the Devil and you’ll need to reclaim some of his contracts if you want to escape.

There are plenty of levels to clear including fun mini-games and to power up your characters there are unlockable enhancements and bullet types. If you need more platforming chaos there’s also a DLC story with more characters and even more bosses to beat. A true mark of skill if you can beat it, Cuphead is a great platformer to try out.

14 Human Fall Flat

Human Fall Flat: A Group Of Sackboys Scaling A Building

Human Fall Flat

Released
July 22, 2016

Developer(s)
No Brakes Games

Publisher(s)
Curve Digital

Fun in solo but even better with a group, Human Fall Flat from No Brakes is a chaotic physics-based platformer that requires a bit of lateral thinking sometimes. You play as a wobbly Sackboy who has to waddle their way through various levels and physics puzzles to get to the end.

You can customize your sackboy and if you bring in some friends then get ready for some chaotic teamwork and anarchy. Plus, the Dreamscape worlds you’ll be crossing are all varied and the game is still regularly updated with new maps, skins, and more chaotic things to try.

13 Cave Story

Cave Story: Encountering Various Creatures In The Cave System

Another classic platformer that got a lot of love, Cave Story from Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya is a challenging Metroidvania with an adorable aesthetic and ear-worm of a soundtrack. You play as a young amnesiac hero who finds a hidden land beneath the ground.

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From there you’ll have to stop the demented doctor that’s terrorizing this subterranean world, recover your memories, and save the locals. Featuring tons of exciting weapons, a heart-wrenching story, and some genuinely charming gameplay moments, Cave Story is a cute classic worth chewing on.

12 Rayman Legends

Rayman Legends: A Group Of Heroes Fighting A Robotic Dragon Monster

Rayman Legends

Released
August 30, 2013

Developer(s)
Ubisoft Montpellier

Publisher(s)
Ubisoft, Nintendo

A great game on its own, but absolutely brilliant with a group, Rayman Legends takes the classic platformer formula and leans hard into the weird. Surprisingly difficult at times and filled with tons of levels and replayability, you’re going to lose a lot of hours in Rayman Legends.

There are a bunch of characters and skins to unlock, exciting set pieces with a few that are musically themed, and plenty of opportunities for co-op backstabbing. All in all, it’s a cult classic character in a solid platformer that deserves a home on your Nintendo Switch.

11 Owlboy

Owlboy: Owlboy And His Companion Taking On A Dungeon Boss

A cozy Indie platformer Owlboy from D-Pad Studio was a critic’s darling for all the right reasons. You play a mute Owlboy who has to carry their friends and explore the wide open skies that fill this unique world. Travel through ruins, gorgeous vistas, and deviously complex puzzles as you try to save the world.

Friendly characters come with unique bonuses and abilities that will aid your flights around the world and there are plenty of large dungeons with equally massive bosses to take on. It’s an absolutely gorgeous game that’s a love letter to old-school platformers, Owlboy definitely deserves a spot on your Switch.

10 Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey: Mario And An NPC In New Donk City

Let’s get the most obvious choice out of the way first as you can’t have a collection of platformer games by Nintendo without mentioning Super Mario. There are so many of them with plenty of spin-offs, but the platformers are where it’s at. They’re mostly all great choices, but if you want one of the more recent ones then try out Super Mario Odyssey.

Odyssey took the tried and trusted Mario format of colorful worlds and creative characters and made a game that’s a nice slow burn across fully explorable worlds in a way that was reminiscent of Mario 64. With a stellar soundtrack, absolutely gorgeous levels and a wide collection of costumes that let you play dress-up with everyone’s favorite Italian Plumber, Odyssey was a big hit and is a great platformer for your Switch.

9 Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight: The Knight In An Empty Area

Hollow Knight

Released
February 24, 2017

Developer(s)
Team Cherry

Publisher(s)
Team Cherry

Don’t let its dark and cutesy exterior fool you. Underneath that sparkly insectoid shell beats the heart of a challenging Souls-like experience that won over a lot of people. You play as the Knight, a nameless insect man on a quest to explore the ruined kingdom of Hallownest beneath the crumbling town of Dirtmouth.

Aside from the almost Eldritch aesthetics, what really sold Hollow Knight to a lot of people was its gameplay. It had a surprising amount of depth and the boss fights were varied and in some cases, a real test of your skills. Controls were tightly tuned and with over 130 unique enemy types to face off against, there’s never a dull moment on that subterranean adventure into the darkness.

8 Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight: Shovel Knight Having A Boss Fight With Kratos

Shovel Knight

Released
June 26, 2014

Developer(s)
Yacht Club Games

Publisher(s)
Yacht Club Games

A cult classic from Yacht Club Games, Shovel Knight came out of nowhere and was an overnight success. Channeling pure old-school platformer energy, its Saturday Morning Cartoon cast of villains was a nostalgic dip into familiar waters for many. Plus its soundtrack is really catchy.

It garnered more success when its DLCs dropped, expanding the characters of the Shovel Knight universe with plenty of challenging levels and buckets full of charm. Throw in all the different armor types, unlockable abilities, and hidden stuff and you’ve got a good time.

7 Ori: The Collection

Ori: The Collection - Ori Resting At A Checkpoint In The Forest

There have been a couple of Ori games over the years. Though the sequels may have not quite recaptured the magic of the first game, they’re all now in one place thanks to the release of Ori: The Collection. So you can go through the series and compare them for yourself pretty easily.

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This great collection of gorgeous games tells the full tale of Ori, a young orphan creature that sparkles in the dark forest. This stunning platformer takes you through hand-painted levels, boss fights that can turn into grand set pieces, and some genuinely difficult platforming sections that will test your reaction speed and push your abilities to the absolute limit.

6 Disney Illusion Island

Disney Illusion Island: Goofy, Donald, Mickey And Minnie Meet A New Character

The perfect platformer for a group of pals, Disney’s Illusion Island has gone down an absolute storm with Disney fans. Channeling World of Illusion energy, splashed with Rayman multiplayer mayhem, this 2D platformer has a lot of charm and plenty of challenge.

You join Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy as they explore the colorful island of Monoth to recover stolen Tomes. Plenty of unique biomes await and each level has some secret reward that you’ll need to work together to earn. With plenty of bosses to beat and special abilities to unlock, Illusion Island is a great time on your own or with friends.

5 Metroid Dread

Metroid Dread: Samus Facing Off Against An EMMI Droid

Metroid Dread

Released
October 8, 2021

Developer(s)
MercurySteam

Publisher(s)
Nintendo

Another in a long line of Metroid games, Dread kept things close to the roots of the original with the now iconic 2D approach to exploration. Grueling dungeons and garish monsters stand in your way, and to make matters worse, there’s a hyper-advanced killer droid on your tale.

You explore the ruined remains of planet ZDR to eliminate the last of the deadly X Parasite strain before it can spread into the rest of the galaxy. But on your tail are the E.M.M.I. A relentless type of combat droid that stalks the planet and comes in a number of unique forms. The classic run of bosses, abilities, and different levels are all there, but it’s the E.M.M.I. that throws an interesting curve ball into the works to keep you on your toes.

4 Kirby And The Forgotten Land

Kirby And The Forgotten Land: Kirby Sucking In A Fox Creature

There’s been a ton of Kirby games over the years, but Kirby and the Forgotten Land really took it off the deep end. Some of the ways everyone’s favorite pink blob could interact with the environment using his sucking ability were creative, fun, and just downright bizarre. With plenty of memes making the rounds because of it.

In Forgotten Land, a strange vortex appears in the sky one day, sucking our hero in whereby he discovers a lost civilization and a ruthless gang known as the Beast Pack. They’ve captured the Waddle Dees and it’s up to Kirby and his new mystical friend Elfilin to go off on an adventure to rescue them and get back home to Planet Popstar.

3 Super Meat Boy

Super Meat Boy: Meat Boy Clinging To A Wall Below Buzzsaws

Super Meat Boy

Released
October 20, 2010

Developer(s)
Team Meat

Publisher(s)
Team Meat

A hard-as-nails platformer that’s best played with a controller lest you launch the Switch out of a nearby window, Super Meat Boy is synonymous with masochistic levels of difficulty. Truly a platformer not for the faint-hearted, its cute exterior gives way to oodles of gore, blood-covered buzzsaws, and devilish platforming.

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A speedy reload from death and the chance to see all your failures play out at once when you finish a level, there’s quite the incentive to push through the pain. Follow-up DLC added a race mode to compete with friends and its sequel Super Meat Boy Forever got a lot of praise for reinvigorating the familiar gameplay of its predecessor.

2 Dead Cells

Dead Cells: The Warrior Fighting A Boss

Dead Cells

Released
May 17, 2017

Developer(s)
Motion Twin

Publisher(s)
Motion Twin

An action-packed rogue-lite from Motion Twin, Dead Cells is a 2D Metroidvania-inspired game with no checkpoints. Death means a full restart, so watch your back and keep your guard up. You play as a lone warrior that must brave this monster-infest island and hopefully escape.

Featuring seventeen levels, five bosses, over 150 weapons, and four unique and distinct abilities to use, there’s plenty to sink your teeth into with Dead Cells. The learning curve is steep, but patience, practice, and a bit of luck make the rewards all the sweeter. Also, the levels may be connected, but there’s no linear path, so exploration is encouraged.

1 N++

N++: A Zoomed Out View Of A Level

A legendary platformer that sorts the rookies from the pros, N++ is infamous in certain circles for how tricky it can be. This simple stickman-based game sees you navigate a labyrinth of rooms as fast as possible whilst avoiding deadly and deviously placed traps and other pitfalls. It’s a mark of skill if you can master this game but will take a lot of trial and error before you’ll be able to get there.

There’s split-screen PvP and Co-Op up to four players as well as over four thousand levels to fling yourself around. There are 63 electronic tracks that keep that beat going and with Hardcore Mode you can prove who is the best ninja around. There’s also a level editor with plenty of player-made maps to try out if you want to see how creative the community can be.

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