It can be said that there’s hardly a gamer around who hasn’t been exposed to the fun and phenomenal platforming action of Super Mario Bros. Mario, Bowser, and Princess Peach are more than likely the first video game characters many players are introduced to, and they’ve been a staple of the genre since 1985.
That being said, one can get too comfortable in the Mushroom Kingdom and seek to explore other worlds. Fortunately, Mario was not only a pioneer, but he was an inspiration for many to come, as well. Often imitated but never duplicated, there are legions of games for Mario fans still looking to scratch that platformer itch.
Cuphead might be a run-and-gun platforming title, but this beautiful and difficult gem deserves mentioning for the notes it takes from Nintendo’s flagship franchise. It features two brother protagonists, a bevy of levels that wouldn’t be out of place in the Mushroom Kingdom such as the forest and the funfair, and they even have to save a damsel in distress on occasion.
Although its challenge and art style are far from what might be expected from Nintendo’s plumber, the influence simply cannot be denied. Now if only players could jump on enemies.
Sega does what Ninten-don’t—or at least that’s how the slogan went. Mario has been in a rivalry with Sonic since the early 90s, and, while the man in red might still wear the crown, the Blue Blur has definitely given him a run for his coins.
Sonic earns a spot on the list for the magnificent Sonic Mania, a return to form for Sega’s blue ball of fun. The game takes everything from the original Genesis titles that made Sonic wonderful, what more can a gamer want?
While it might focus on more puzzle elements than Mario might, Trine is an absolutely gorgeous fantasy platformer that’s easy to pick up but hard to master. Instead of one character to get from A to B, players are given a trio of traditional questing heroes to lead on a great adventure.
It has the simple left-to-right platforming mechanics of an early Mario game, but it throws in skills, puzzles, and creative level designs to make it stand out from the standard title. It’s a therapeutic experience, if nothing else.