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The Best Platformers Of 2021

Most gamers can probably appreciate a good platformer. Platformers have pretty much always been around, and there have been some well-known platformers that have swept the gaming community off its feet in the past few years, including challenging titles like Celeste.

Platformers have been some of the most impactful games in the video game industry. Take the Mario games, for example. The popular Nintendo franchise that's been around for over three decades, and its influence on the whole gaming industry cannot be understated. One of the first entries in the series, Super Mario Bros, actually saved the video game industry in the United States, according to CBR

Platformers have been a staple in the gaming world for quite some time, and 2021 has seen some great releases in the genre. Be ready to sink some hours into these adventure-filled platformers, and grab someone to enjoy them with. Whether you're playing alone or in co-op mode, the platformer genre has something for everyone.

It Takes Two

It Takes Two was arguably one of the most anticipated platformers to arrive in 2021, and critic reviews proved that the game did not disappoint. As the title would imply, It Takes Two is co-op only, meaning you'll literally need a friend to get through the game.

The game follows Cody and May, a couple who are forced to "overcome their differences," as the Steam page puts it. With favorable reviews on Metacritic and a director who has personally guaranteed fans that they will never be bored, It Takes Two is beyond worth it for platformer lovers.

The 3D artwork and unique design were a breath of fresh air when compared to other popular platformers, and the gameplay kept players sticking around. Within the first three days of release, the game saw over 1,700 overwhelmingly positive reviews on Steam. The EA game can be played in split-screen mode, or with a remote friend using EA's Friend's Pass system.

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury

The beloved Super Mario Bros universe saw a remaster and a new game all in one, thanks to Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury. This release featured two separate games that fans enjoyed with two very different feels. It also gave people an opportunity to play Super Mario 3D World for the first time, since many people missed the original release when the Wii U flopped.

Super Mario 3D World feels like a traditional Mario platformer, which Nintendo fans have come to know and love. Meanwhile, Bowser's Fury feels a bit more like Mario Odyssey with its open world elements and intense final boss battle. Critics responded positively to both games, and it's easy to see why. 

The game can be played with up to four friends, and in Bowser's Fury, someone can join in as Bowser Junior. With over 100 positive critic reviews on Metacritic, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury was an early contender for best Nintendo Switch exclusive.

Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time

Despite some of the controversy that surrounded Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time, it was still loved by critics across the board. In fact, the PS5 version of the game didn't receive any mixed or negative reviews on Metacritic.

The single-player platformer is the first entry in the mainline Crash Bandicoot main-line series since 2008, when Crash: Mind Over Mutant was released. While there was a remake of the original Crash trilogyCrash Bandicoot 4 was the first installment that wasn't a racing spin-off in nearly a decade. In other words, it truly was about time that a new Crash Bandicoot game hit the market.

The game lets players experience the time-warped world created by the villains Neo Cortex and N. Tropy. Crash and Coco are in a race against time to stop the multiverse from collapsing, and plenty of familiar faces from the series are along for the ride. Platformer lovers will get a kick out of this game, especially if you're a fan of the original series.

Cyber Shadow

Cyber Shadow makes its way to the spotlight with its classic, 2D side-scrolling platform playstyle. For long-time gaming fans or for those that enjoy the sense of nostalgia that retro-style games can bring, this might just be the game for you. In Cyber Shadow, players have to battle against machines as the main ninja, Shadow, to find out what actually happened to the now-ruined world.

The majority of the reviews on Metacritic for this indie platformer have been positive. According to Neal Ronaghan from Nintendo World Report, the game is reminiscent of a classic NES title. Ronaghan writes that Cyber Shadow is an "excellent old-school ninja action [game] with enough modern niceties."

In true modern-day platformer style, it's known for its excellent music and great visuals. It doesn't have a long playthrough time, sitting at about 6 hours (according to Ronaghan), but it's definitely worth snagging if you're a fan of retro-style platformers. 

Olija

Released in early 2021, Olija is an open-world 2D platformer with a unique sense of design. With lo-fi (yet intricate) graphics that captivate and draw players in, the indie game was well-received by critics, according to the majority of the reviews on Metacritic.

The story follows a shipwrecked man who's trying to get home with the help of other castaways. The new land they're in is hostile and offers plenty of platforming challenges to get through. The aesthetic is much darker than the other games on this list, so don't go in expecting anything like the bright, poppy world that Mario and his pals exist in. 

According to the Steam page for the game, this Asian fantasy story is "about facing the unknown in adversity." Olija stands out among platformers because of its mature storyline and visuals, and it's definitely a great choice if you're interested in bright, retro-style games that don't shy away from dark topics, like Undertale