5 best 2D platformers available on the Nintendo Switch

Ranging from serene adventures to hardcore experiences, these are some of the best 2D platformers on the Nintendo Switch (Image via Studio MDHR)
Ranging from serene adventures to hardcore experiences, these are some of the best 2D platformers on the Nintendo Switch (Image via Studio MDHR)

When one thinks of Nintendo systems, specific genres always come to mind. These generally involve RPGs, party games and, yes, platformers. This is obviously referring to 2D platformers, to be precise, since the first-party developers at Nintendo are all-too familiar with the genre. After all, they are one of its earliest pioneers.

So, it should come as no surprise that the Nintendo Switch is arguably the best platform for these kinds of games. However, new players may need some assistance in figuring out which are the best platformer games to play on the Switch. Note that Metroidvania games will not be included, just to give other sub-genres a fighting chance.

These are the best 2D platformers to play on Nintendo Switch

5) Yooka-Laylee & the Impossible Lair


One of the newer games on this list, Impossible Lair makes a 180 to the formula introduced in its prequel. Instead of a 3D collect-a-thon, this Unity-driven game focuses its design into smaller but more refined systems. The result is a 2.5D sidescroller that sees the chameleon-bat duo once again try to take down the evil Capital B.

The gameplay sees the duo traverse beautiful levels in the titular Impossible Lair. They are packed with enemies to beat, quills to find and obstacles to hop across. The varied level design and good pacing keeps things interesting and the challenge can even ramp up in areas like underwater levels.

4) Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition


One of the best games of 2013 gets even better on the Nintendo Switch with a Definitive Edition. Rayman Legends sees the Ubisoft mascot return to 2D in his latest adventure to save the Teensies from the Magician. It retains the UbiArt engine introduced in Rayman Origins for the Wii as well as the artstyle and core gameplay.

Players will traverse fantasy hand-drawn worlds as Rayman and other characters. Each world has different levels as well, although most of them are A to B romps with many collectibles along the way, from the standard Lums to 5 hidden Teensies. They are also pierced by set-pieces like chase sequences based around musical numbers or engaging boss fights. The sheer variety and ingenuity of the level designs and whimsy makes Rayman Legends a must-play for any platformer fan.

3) Katana Zero


Indie games have seen massive success on the Nintendo Switch thanks to the console's portable nature. So, it is far-fetched to see one make this list. Katana Zero is a unique pixel-art platformer from solo developer Justin Stander. It takes place in a futuristic setting with the player controlling Subject Zero, a katana-wielding assassin tasked with murdering targets assigned by his psychiatrist.

The gameplay sees the killer move from room to room, slaughtering foes with a slice of his blade. However, the same is true for Zero as well as he can die in a single hit. Thankfully, his time abilities allow him to rewind to the last checkpoint and even slow down time to counter enemies, resulting in a zen-like flow reminiscent of games like Hotline Miami.

Additionally, the game's narrative is interesting, featuring dialog choices that can tweak certain elements of the story, including optional boss encounters. This game is definitely a must-have for those who love challenges.

2) Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze


Originally released in 2014 for Wii U, the latest entry in Nintendo's Donkey Kong Country series of 2D platformers is arguably the best in the franchise. This time, Donkey Kong and the gang must save their home, Donkey Kong Island. The invading Snowmads have turned the place into a frozen landscape and they must be defeated.

Akin to previous entries, Donkey Kong and Diddy must traverse numerous levels, collecting bananas and taking down enemies. Signature items make a comeback, like barrels to jump gaps. While Dixie and Cranky are playable too, each with unique abilities, the Nintendo Switch version adds Funky Kong, whose gameplay style makes it an easier experience. The series is renowned for its high level of challenges, boasting nerve-wracking set pieces and boss fights. As a complete package, Tropical Freeze also shows that Metroid Prime developer Retro Studios still have a few surprises up their sleeve.

1) Cuphead


Studio MDHR blew gamers away with their announcement of Cuphead, a 2D run & gun platformer inspired by American animation of the mid-90's. Cuphead and Mugman find themselves making a deal with the Devil after losing a round of gambling and must take down "debtors" to capture their souls.

This sees the duo rush through platformer levels, shooting down foes in a Contra-esque design. There are several islands to go through, all of which have levels, including tough boss fights which will test the player's countering abilities. Interestingly, the stellar artstyle makes it feel more like an interactive video or show than a video game. Cuphead features two-player co-op on Nintendo Switch, even using the split Joycon method.

Also, fans should keep an eye out for the upcoming DLC, The Delicious Last Course, featuring a brand new playable character.

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Edited by Atul S
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