Looking for a list of the best platform games on PC in the 1990s and early 2000s? The PC has developed a reputation as a sort of wasteland for this one particular genre, and we owe that in large part to the rise of independent games that have flooded onto digital platforms over the past decade. Our fair platform is now bursting at the seams with solid platform games.
With all that said, platform games have acquired a reputation for requiring mechanical skill and sublime timing to enter. Developers continue to push the genre forward by incorporating gameplay elements from puzzle games and metroidvanias. Today, you can even play through a beautiful narrative in a platform game, thanks to releases like Celeste and Ori and the Blind Forest.
The best platform games
The greatest platform games are:
- Super Meat Boy
- Hollow Knight
- Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
- Knytt (Series)
- A Hat in Time
- Ori and the Will of the Wisps
- Sonic Mania
- Shovel Knight Treasure Trove
- Another World
- Spyro Reignited Trilogy
The Playdeads expressionist, monochrome classic, one of the best platform games around, has had many tense jumps over desolate pits and whirling buzzsaws.
The stark black-on-black artstyle makes a solid impression, and the terrible traps that your child avatar falls prey to still have the ability to shock you, makes the violence all the more disturbing. Despite its short lifespan, it's a haunting, elusive experience that'll last you for longer than many of the best horror games that rely on jump scares to keep you awake.
Super Meat Boy
The Binding of Isaac, a roguelike interpretation of the Zelda top-down strategy, was the catalyst that put Edmund McMillen on the map, and it was Super Meat Boy, a platformer who launched it on sheer difficulty, that made it one of the most well-known platforms games.
You must rescue Meat Boy from screenful after screenful of cruel and devious obstacles in order to save his beloved Bandage Girl, as demonstrated by several other platform games on this list.
Celeste is far more than a collection of challenging video game levels. When played as a whole package, it might be the finest game on this list. From bubbles that whisk you into obscurity to clouds that give you a boost if you jump at the right time, each of its demanding courses provides a new level of difficulty for you to master.
Celeste is a unique platformer that overcomes its greatest difficulty by reimagining its playable character Madeline, who must overcome insecurity and mental health difficulties in order to reach the titular mountain. There are also accessibility options that make it possible for anyone to tackle Celeste Mountain.
Hollow Knight, like its forerunners in the metroidvania genre, adds so many action elements to its core hop-and-jump gameplay that youd be forgiven for putting it on another list. Yet beneath its kinetic melee combat and array of challenging bosses lies a robust platformer, complete with double-jumps and super-dashes.
Hollow Knight is a game that encourages an old-school mindset, sometimes to a dismal extent. You must find a nebbish cartographer to obtain the map of each of its twisty-turning areas, which encourages a sense of perpetual exploration. Even for tough bosses, you are not given a health bar in the game.
There's a luscious world of hidden treasures and obscure figures to explore for those who can stomach these retro touches. However, to get one of the better endings youll need to defeat an ivory world of sparkling buzzsaws and tricky platforms in order to get through.
A second sequel is in the works, called Hollow Knight: Silksong, in which you can play as Hornet, a character from the original game. Weve been promised 150 new enemies, acrobatic combat, and on-the-fly healing while we await the Hollow Knight: Silksong release date.
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
The Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is a cross-platform platform game series that remasters all three original games: Crash Bandicoot, Cortex Strikes Back, and Warped. There are heaps of hidden items and collectables in this new level, as well as a finished and polished version of the original game.
Crash is a platforming game with a lot of secrets that you can't get rid of when you're younger. You'll spend hours in some levels, attempting to remember every jump sequence and where every enemy is, or wandering off the beaten path in search of more Wumpa Fruit.
The Knytt series, which is based on one-man developer Nifflas, harkens back to a different era for PC games, when the best indie games were relegated to freeware download sites or Flash portals, neither Knytt Stories nor its sequels (Knytt Underground) require incredible twitch reflexes from the player instead, making these a chill-out game.
The Knytt series is a story of pure exploration in a space defined by otherness and whimsy, with plenty of shortcuts and hidden routes threaded throughout. Knytt Underground is the most ambitious of the three due to its fact that it costs money, unlike its predecessors, but for our money, the original Knytt is the real standout platformer.
There are no nasty guys to stomp or levels to conquer in this game. Youre just a tiny creature attempting to gather ship parts to bring home. It only takes a few hours to complete, but its an experience that will last for you.
Terry Cavanagh has produced a number of excellent games since the Indie boom, but his first hit was a feat sufficient to eliminate the jump button altogether. Instead, you navigate the environment by flipping from one gravity field to another, threading your way through technicolored space debris and other hazards on your way to the ceiling/floor.
A Hat in Time
PC platforms with 3D platforming are slim compared to Nintendo Switch platforms. There have been a few notable initiatives in recent years, but A Hat in Time remains by a long shot the best.
A Hat in Time is a game that wears its influences on its sleeves, with a rich color palette and a wide range of motion options that evoked the N64 era of open-level platformers, complete with a mid-air dive right out of Super Mario 64. It's not the easiest level to recreate, but it's quite fun to play.
It's a game that's lasted a dozen or so hours, but it's still a game that's worth attempting to complete. Right down to the haunted toilet you fight in Act 3
Ori and the will of the wisps
Ori and the Will of the Wisps, the eagerly anticipated sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest, takes the stunning beauty and atmospheric heft of its predecessor to new heights. Combat has been improved, and there are even more abilities to use as you assist Ori in his battle against evil.
Both games are more metroidvania than a straightforward platformer, with a fair amount of backtracking and plenty of abilities to unlock. Instead there's a more focused on challenging boss battles in Will of the Wisps, as well as a stunning orchestral soundtrack, Ori and the Blind Forest will stay with you long after the credits roll.
The original Sonic games are still popular to this day, but they are still a love-it-or-hate-it proposition, especially if you didnt grow up with the blue blur. Sonic Mania blends everything that worked from the original trilogy and mixes it into a blender, producing perhaps the best game in the series ever, or certainly the finest since the 1990s.
This greatest Sonic remixes popular Sonic levels as well as infusing some new ones into the series. Mania knows how to savor your nostalgia while also retaining the spirit and charm that made the blue hedgehog a culturally-embedded character that could stand the test of decades of poor performance.
The first act of every zone reminds you of the basic mechanics of a level you likely played a long time ago. Add in a fantasticly throwback remixed soundtrack, and you have one of the greatest retro games of all time.
Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
Shovel Knight, designed to look, sound, and feel like a lost 8-bit game created with today's technology, is a marvel of retro engineering. Like the best throwbacks, its not afraid to remove some of the more outdated aspects of NES-era design lives are replaced by a Souls-like system where you retrieve your loot from your corpse, and the difficulty is significantly higher than some older platform games.
The Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove includes expansions for the Plague of Shadows, Spector or Torment, and King of Cards, which allow you to play as three of the original games' bosses. Each expansion is a complete game, complete with brand new bosses, areas, and backstories to some of Shovel Knight's most famous characters.
The Shovel Knight character is an amalgamation of several of the greatest era's heroes. He can pogo on his shovel like Scrooge in DuckTales, or simply swing it around like Link in Zelda. It's a testament to an 8-bit aesthetic, which has largely been sublimated by other games in recent years.
It Takes Two
To overcome It Takes Two's delightfully quirky platforming challenges and minigames, unlike Hazelight Studios' previous game A Way Out, It Takes Two is co-op only. You and your partner play as May and Cody, a married couple whose relationship is on the verge of catastrophe.
Their daughters' displeasure has transformed them into doll versions of themselves, and they must learn to work together to reestablish their relationship in the process. Each gleefully absurd level is perfectly adapted to co-op gameplay, while also thoughtfully exploring various obstacles in the couple's marriage.
Another World (or Out of This World in the US) is perhaps the most notable PC platformer of the early 1990s. Prince of Persia might have spawned a multi-million dollar franchise, and Flashback had a more cohesive narrative, but nothing quite beats the moment-to-moment innovation of Eric Chahis' best work.
Another World, a platform game that was created by an unreliable experiment, is a game about battling and outgunning your alien overlords at every turn. Some aspects of the game show their age, especially its glacial, finicky platforming, which takes some getting used to, but the fact that it constantly reinvents itself gives it a vitality few players possess.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy
The Spyro Reignited Trilogy overhauls all three original Spyro games, finally bringing the beloved dragon to PC with a polished new appearance, but the same complex levels, and beloved characters.
The Sypro Reignited Trilogy is a nostalgic journey into the colorful world of our beloved dog, built from the ground up by artists Iron Galaxy and Toys for Bob. Spyro is a hybrid of new challenges and tricky platforming that kept us hooked for so long.
Achieving this tough platformer, inspired by 1930s cartoon characters such as Looney Toons and Betty Boop, is no easy feat. Its meticulous hand-drawn animation takes our wide-eyed heroes on a run and gun side-scrolling adventure through difficult levels and boss battles all set to the brash beats of an original jazz, early big band, and ragtime score.
As you progress through the game, playing as Cuphead or Mugman (youll be playing as player two if you're in co-op), you'll encounter strange bosses, such as a carrot with sonic powers, a boxing frog, and a fiendish sunflower. All while earning HP and time bonuses to help you progress further
The top PC platform games, from narrative-driven adventures and combat-heavy metroidvanias, to platformers that break the genre rules completely. Or check out our list of the best free online games, which includes a few fantastic platforming games.