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39 Best Side-Scroller Games Too Good to Put Down


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Once upon a time in gaming, there were only a few options in how you could make levels. You could see it all at once or you could have the player scroll to the side in order to learn what came next. Thus was born the side-scroller genre, one that lives to this day. As difficult as the endeavor was, we sat down to compile our list of the best side-scroller games of all time.

#39 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

Platform: PC PS4 Xbox One PS5 Switch
Release Date: June 16, 2022

Cowabunga! Are you ready to jump back into the sewers and beyond to help the heroes in a half-shell and their allies? If so, then Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is some of the most fun you’ll have, whether you’re playing alone or with friends!

Based on the classic cartoon and the associated games, the title puts you as one of the turtles, April O’Neill, Splinter, or Casey Jones, as they work to stop the latest plot of the vile Shredder!

Every character has a unique ability to use on the battlefield, and you can have six players in one campaign go against the Foot Clan! So turtle up and kick butt ninja style!

#38 Record of Lodoss War-Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth-

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X and Series S, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 5

Record of Lodoss War is one of many Metroidvania titles you’re going to see on this list. In it, you’ll play as Deedlit, an elf who awakes in a place she doesn’t recall. With no idea how she got there or why she’s there, she must travel through the strange place, fighting monsters while discovering the truth. You’ll be able to use swords and sorcery throughout the game. Swap out what works for you and what doesn’t and fight all sorts of enemies until you make it out or die trying.

#37 Grime

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Google Stadia, Macintosh operating systems

Grime puts you in an unforgiving world where the only way to survive and grow is to be rather unforgiving yourself. Your one true weapon is one that grows and thrives after it absorbs the enemies you kill. It’ll mutate and shapeshift in battle to give you all you need to survive. As you grow through the remains of the fallen, you’ll get even more unique skills. Figure out how far you can push yourself and your abilities and how much grime you’re willing to wade through.

#36 Momodora: Reverie Under The Moonlight

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, PC

The 4th installment in the franchise, Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight acts as a prequel. Players play a priestess who must fight through hordes of monsters in order to reach a queen in a quest to try and save her world. The game balances both a lot of fun, style, and frenetic gameplay in order to deliver a fresh experience while adhering to what came before. Not just that, you can play in the casual mode to just enjoy the game and all it has to offer. Or, you can ratchet up the difficulty and put your skills to the ultimate test!

#35 Touhou Luna Nights

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One

Here’s another Metroidvania game for you! This time, it’s Touhou Luna Nights.

“Remilia Scarlet, head vampire of the Scarlet Devil Mansion sends her maid Sakuya Izayoi with no warning to a world much like Gensokyo, but not quite.” With a description like that, how can you not want to dive in?

Players will have special abilities like “Time Stop” in order to get the jump on enemies. You’ll get other abilities that can you help in a pinch, so go out and explore.


Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One

DISTRAINT 2 may not look it, but it’s a psychological horror game mixed with adventure elements. In it, you play as a man named Price who sold his soul to get something he wanted. Now, you must wade through the world that is being made for you in order to solve puzzles and restore hope to your character. This game might not look like much, but it has a dark story with impressive humor and other elements that won’t be for everyone.

#33 Mark of the Ninja: Remastered

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows

One of the all-time classic ninja games, Mark of the Ninja: Remastered gives players what they loved before but with better graphics, gameplay, and presentation.

In this game, you are a ninja, and you have to act like one. You’ll be able to use your cursed tattoos in order to heighten your senses and deliver incredible damage to your enemies. How will you go about your journey? Will you be the threat that no one sees coming? Will you slowly pick off your foes so you can advance? Or will you be an army of steel in the night?

Mark of the Ninja: Remastered went full tilt with making everything better. The art, the animations, the cutscenes, the music–they’ve all been remastered to be 4K levels of greatness. So jump in and see what being a ninja is really like.

#32 ICEY

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Macintosh operating systems

ICEY mixes fast-paced gameplay with a rather meta story. You play as Icey, a girl whose world is talked about by a narrator who’s always there. He’ll try and guide you on your path, but whether you listen to him or not is up to you. This is your story as well as Icey’s, so figure out what path to take, or want to take so you can uncover your own truth.

You’ll be able to take down all sorts of cyborg enemies and bosses in this quick title. The combat is fast, the story is deep, and you’re in for a fun time.

#31 The Legend of Tianding

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Macintosh operating systems

The Legend of Tianding is a very unique game because of its content. It’s based on the legendary Folk hero Liao Tianding, known as the Taiwanese Robin Hood. In the game, you’ll go and rob the rich, feed the poor, and lay the smackdown on the authorities who don’t have the welleing of the people in mind.

The gameplay is fun, fast, and has a manga style that really makes it pop out. You’ll also get to use a mix of both weapons and martial arts styles in order to take down your foes. When you’re ready for a break? Hang out with friends and play cards!

#30 Tukoni

Platforms: Android, Microsoft Windows

Not every side-scroller needs to be filled to the brim with action (though it does help at times). In Tukoni, you’ll play as a creature on a journey to explore his world. The point-and-click adventure is meant to give you more of a sense of awe and wonder than stress and button mashing.

As you go through this “world of kindness,” you’ll need to figure out puzzles, craft items to help you reach new areas, and more. Along the way, you’ll be meeting new friends and seeing just how wondrous the land can be.

#29 Skul: The Hero Slayer

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Macintosh operating systems

If that name throws you off, don’t worry, we’ll explain. In this world, humans have banded together in order to try and wipe out the demon hordes that inhabit it. You’re one of the few left standing after their onslaught. Thus, you are Skul: The Hero Slayer, whose mission is to save his king from the “heroes” that are trying to wipe out your race. It won’t be easy, but nothing worth doing is, right?

The beauty of this title isn’t just in its unique world and hard-hitting combat. Skul can change his style and makeup by wearing the literal skull of a fallen enemy or friend, so mix and match your own skills with theirs and see what happens. You’ll need those gifts to fight tough bosses and ensure your king’s safety.

#28 Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, macOS, PlayStation 3, Wii U, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360

One of the best in the genre over the last couple of years, Guacamelee! combines the unlockable open-world of the best Metroidvanias with a combo-based combat system from brawlers. As the game progresses, you find new abilities to use against enemies that deepen the solid fighting system. Guacamelee! is also downright gorgeous. It’s a whimsical, colorful world with masterfully-crafted characters and animations set in a world of Mexican folklore. As Juan, you are resurrected as a magical luchador wrestler and must save El Presidente’s daughter from an evil skeleton from the Land of the Dead. It manages to treat its subject matter respectfully without ever taking itself too seriously.

#27 F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch

Platforms: Steam, PS4

F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch is another Metroidvania title, but one with a few twists. The game takes place years after a war that sent your main character, the rabbit warrior Rayton, into seclusion. Then, when his friend is arrested, he loads up with his mechanical fist and sets out to reclaim both his friend and his lost home of Torch City. But that’s only the beginning of a deep story that will showcase just how deep a certain conspiracy goes.

The world of this game is beautiful, and you’ll be wandering and battling through various areas in order to get to the truth and get your friend. You’ll have three weapons at your disposal to master, and if you want, you can mix and match the weapons in battle seamlessly in order to have a more versatile and flowing gameplay style.

#26 Infernax

Platforms: Switch, PC

While not as showy or modern as other titles on this list, Infernax is attractive for its nostalgia factor alone. Developer Berzerk Studio calls it “a cursed game about a curse,” and a “2D splatterfest homage to NES action games with…so much blood.” Available on pretty much every system for a bargain, those wanting to embark on a quest to purge the lands of unholy magic shouldn’t miss this one. It’s tough, it’s smooth, and it has an absolutely killer soundtrack.

#25 SpeedRunners

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, iOS, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Linux, macOS, Macintosh operating systems

Speedrunners is a competitive racing game in which players are taking the role of characters that have grappling hooks. It’s all about staying ahead of the pack by using your grappling hook to swing forward and jump over obstacles. Since the camera focuses on whoever is in the lead, the characters that end up getting out of frame are killed off. However, it’s very easy to catch up and gain the lead since the person in front has far less view of what’s coming up ahead. This means those that are in the back have a heads up on just what obstacles they’ll need to avoid going forward.

#24 Broforce

Platforms: Console, PC

Broforce started off as a Game Jam entry that ended up getting continuous developer support. Players are ‘bros’ who fight terrorists with a team of other players just as manly as you. Every level is a destructive wonderland that ends with you having to hoist up an American flag and leave via helicopter while a cinematic explosion goes on in the background. The characters are all parodies of actors and action stars like Chuck Norris and John Rambo which definitely makes the game all the more fun.

#23 Terraria

Platforms: Android, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, etc.

Terraria is a very special title in that it truly gives you the freedom to do whatever you want in a side-scrolling world. For example, you can choose the path of exploration and see what this world has to offer, as well as dig into its depths to see what mysteries await you. Or, you could choose the path of combat, craft yourself some armor and weapons and take down every enemy you find. Or you could build yourself a nice home on the planet and just make sure you can survive there. It’s your choice!

In each playthrough, the world is randomly generated giving you plenty of things to do no matter how you play.

#22 Yoshi’s Woolly World

Platforms: Wii U, Nintendo 3DS

Yoshi as a character has had a series of unique games over the years. During the Wii U/3DS days, the dev team went down a different path and made Yoshi’s Woolly World.

In the game, you’ll play as Yoshi in Woolly form and progress through a number of adorable levels. At your side is Poochy, a new character that will make things even more fun for you. It’s not the deepest of games, but it was never meant to be. It was meant to be a Yoshi game that would be fun for players to dive into and a visually enticing title, and it is exactly that. This one is perfect for gamers of all ages!

#21 Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Android, Xbox One, iOS, Microsoft Windows, Google Stadia

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night gained quite a bit of attention when it was first announced, as the project was led by former Castlevania series producer Koji Igarashi. This Metroidvania title invites players to explore, craft new weapons, and find new armor as they engage with a stunning narrative. This story follows an orphan named Miriam who has been cursed by an alchemist and is slowly finding her skin turned to crystal. To stop the curse, she must explore a castle to find the one behind it, Gebel, who, as it turns out, had suffered the same condition. It’s been a long wait for Castlevania to make a big comeback, but this game should appease some fans.

#20 Mega Man 11

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Amazon Luna, Xbox One

The Mega Man franchise received a brand new installment in 2018, once again featuring Mega Man as he embarks on a quest to defeat Dr. Wily. Within the game, Dr. Wily has his eight Robot Masters ready to stop players as they progress through the game. However, it looks like Mega Man has a few new tricks up his sleeve such as the ability to manipulate time along with delivering more powerful attacks than ever before. Players will also find that there are a few game modes such as Time Trials and Missions. Likewise, you can find yourself battling it out with your friends or other players on the Global Leaderboard.

#19 Katana Zero

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Xbox One, Macintosh operating systems

One of the more recent titles on this list, Katana Zero is a fast-paced action/side-scrolling game where you’ll be defeating enemies in the blink of an eye. Players can fight enemies head-on or choose stealth to take them down with explosions or other sneaky methods. Katana Zero weaves story and gameplay together in a way that will keep you guessing right up until the very end. Give it a try and see how you will wield your sword.

#18 Rogue Legacy

Platforms: PS3, PS4, PSV, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, PC

Nothing gets a games website comments section going quite like the improper use of the word roguelike. Regardless of how it’s categorized, Rogue Legacy is a great entry into the Xbox One’s catalog of platform games. Dungeons are procedurally-generated and are full of increasingly deadly enemies, traps, and gigantic bosses. You’ll pick up coins by defeating baddies and smashing furniture. Here’s where Rogue Legacy gets interesting: you use the loot you pick up on dungeon runs to buy better armor and weapons for your character, who will be the son or daughter of whoever you died as on that run. You’ll pick from three random progeny, and they’ll each have a set of quirks that can change the way you play – sometimes they’ll be nearsighted, prone to cursing, or abnormally tall or short.

#17 Super Mario Maker 2

Platforms: Nintendo Switch

The most fun thing about Super Mario Maker 2 isn’t the fact that you can create levels using different templates and items from classic Mario games, it’s the fact that you can play with your friends. Players can create levels and share them online for people to play at their leisure. Creating insanely difficult levels and sending the codes over to your friends is a blast, and there’s an endless amount of levels that you could design and play. Up to two players can create stages together at the exact same time, and up to four players can play the levels together.

#16 Inside

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Xbox One, iOS, Macintosh operating systems

The Room series is a set of games that will test you as your character falls into madness. In the games, you’ll play as someone who is trapped in a house (then a dimension and other places) where you must solve clues in order to figure out what’s going on. If you take too long to get to the bottom of the mystery, your mind will begin playing tricks on you, eventually becoming too much to handle. This darker title is best for older audiences.

#15 Spelunky

Platforms: Console, PC

In Spelunky, players control a spelunker in search of treasure within a series of different caves. While underground, players are susceptible to enemies, traps, and, of course, damsels in need of rescuing. Spelunky is eternally entertaining and unique as levels are randomly generated with four distinct areas that increase in difficulty. The second installment only adds to the fun, with more treasure to loot, dangerous caverns to explore, and people in need of rescue. Best of all, the sequel added cooperative gameplay with secondary player options available both locally and online.

#14 Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Platforms: Wii U, Nintendo Switch

One of the best side-scrolling platformers on the Nintendo Switch, Donkey Kong must take back his island from the Snomads. These arctic and antarctic animal invaders are led by Lord Fredrik to seize the island for themselves. Fredrik also has access to a magical horn that has thrown the tropical island into perpetual winter under a blanket of snow. Firmly in the “easy to learn, difficult to master” category, getting 100% will mean lots of Snomad smashing with your partner Diddy, Dixie, or Cranky being able to grant different abilities to DK himself.

#13 Rayman Legends

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, ETC

It’s been a little while since we had a new Rayman title release onto the market. This long-running franchise has quite the fan base and you’ve likely enjoyed some of the earlier titles. If not, Rayman Legends is still a great jumping point if you’d like to play a fantastic platformer.

Overall, the game narrative is simple: a dark force has taken over the lands and captured the princesses. Now, it’s up to Rayman along with his friends in order to rescue them. The gameplay is simplistic and involves defeating enemies along with solving some puzzles that will allow the players to progress further into the campaign. What makes this a great co-op game is that the title will allow players to seamlessly drop into the level at any point.

#12 Dead Cells

Platforms: Android, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, iOS, Xbox One, macOS, Linux, Microsoft Windows, Macintosh operating systems

An action-based platformer that’s inspired by Metroidvania, Dead Cells is a highly enjoyable roguelike that’s packed with engaging combat and a highly-detailed pixel art style. By fighting your way through a labyrinthine castle that’s constantly changing, Dead Cells gives players a chance to progressively explore a word that’s ever-shifting and filled with monsters. Of course, there’s the high replayability factor that comes with all roguelike games, and the ongoing fear of permadeath to add into the mix. In Dead Cells you’ll find combat that’s reminiscent of a Souls title, only in colorful 2D and a range of new challenges to face on each run.

#11 FEZ

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows

Easily one of the most beloved games of the last decade, Fez puts you into the role of Gomez, a 2D being in a 2D world that suddenly becomes very 3D. Gomez is about to find out why. The game mixes classic and modern puzzles along with a narrative that’ll help you expand what you think you know about this world. You’re encouraged to look at this game with different perspectives to not just solve the puzzles, but learn secrets that flesh out the narrative.

#10 Metroid Dread

Platforms: Nintendo Switch

There are many Metroid games that could’ve been on this list (and many would argue we left the best ones off) but we want to give Metroid Dread a nod here because, quite frankly, it was a true return to form that wasn’t a remaster.

Never forget that it was Metroid that helped make the Metroidvania style happen. With Metroid Dread, the team at MercurySteam created an original story that takes place after Metroid Fusion and puts Samus once again in a side-scrolling title that is deep and fun. The new world of Dread provides plenty of new foes, including the EMMI robots that will hunt you down in key areas, as well as new abilities for Samus to use. If you’re a fan of Metroid, you owe it to yourself to get this title.

#9 Celeste

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, macOS

Celeste is a platformer developed under Matt Thorson and Noel Berry. The video game is a fast-paced platformer where players take control of a young girl named Madeline. Overall, the goal within the game is to climb up a massive mountain known as Celeste Mountain. This is an addictive platformer where players will have to make quick maneuvers around each level to avoid obstacles along with gathering collectibles along the way. There is also an engaging story that will pull players in as they find out more about the mountain and our heroine.

#8 Sonic Mania

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows

Sonic the Hedgehog is a video game staple. Decades have passed since the first Sonic title was released, but Sonic games are still being pumped out. Sonic Mania is a side-scrolling platformer that fans of the original Sonic the Hedgehog game will love, keeping the original platforming setup and the speed that fans of the blue hedgehog love. However, gamers can expect new boss fights, expanded levels, and elements new to the franchise.

#7 Super Meat Boy

Platforms: Console, PC

Some side-scrolling platformers are meant to just truly test your mettle and skills, and Super Meat Boy is easily one of the best examples of that. You play as a block of meat who is trying to save his girlfriend. Why not?

The game will put you through the wringer as you’ll have to deal with over 300 levels of madness as you try to not die. That doesn’t even put you in the realm of the boss fights, the level editor, and more. The title is jam-packed with content, and if you’re looking for a game to break you, here you go!

#6 Cuphead

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Macintosh operating systems

Cuphead is seeing a resurgence in popularity following the recent Netflix television series. You play as the titular Cuphead while a second player can take control of his brother Mugman as you’re taken through several levels and boss fights to repay your debt to the Devil. The game utilizes an incredible hand-drawn aesthetic and features a soundtrack that will absolutely be remembered for years to come. A new DLC titled The Delicious Last Course was released in June, where you can enjoy a new story–and some challenging new battles–with your buddies.

#5 Ori And The Blind Forest

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows

A masterclass in platform game design, Ori and the Blind Forest combines the fluidity of character movement with brilliant level design in a large Metroidvania-style adventure about a tiny, glowing woodland creature who is trying to heal a diseased land. The controls are Swiss-clock precise, making Ori feel wonderful, and each new move you learn gives you new ways to float and fly around the world while making new areas accessible in a classic Metroidvania fashion. It’s all very carefully designed, and each move, enemy, and hazard fits together into a seamlessly cohesive whole.

It’s also one of the most jaw-dropping beautiful platform games ever made. The environments are richly textured, conjuring up the forest from Don Bluth’s The Secret of NIMH, and the music and story set a somber tone that underscores the blight that’s fallen upon your woodland home. Ori and the Blind Forest is definitely a game that you’ll want to play multiple times.

#4 Shovel Knight

Platforms: Console (all of them basically), PC

Shovel Knight is a love letter to the classic era of gaming. This old-school feeling 2D hack and slash title follows Shovel Knight on a grand quest to save his partner, Shield Knight, who has been stuck in a sealed tower. With the tower finally open once again, Shovel Knight takes his chance to defeat the enemy bosses and hostile creatures along the way in hopes of making a daring rescue. As mentioned, the game feels like an old retro title that might have come from the Nintendo Entertainment System era, and with its tight controls, it’s a game that’s tough to put down.

There are several campaigns to enjoy, so you’ll have plenty of content to enjoy with the available expansion packs. Thanks to an update, there is now cooperative gameplay in which a secondary player can join in as another Shovel Knight to help out in battle. Players will be able to share the same resources that are collected along the way, and there’s even the ability to revive a fallen player.

#3 Super Mario World

Platform: SNES

Super Mario World is by and large one of the best video games ever made. Not just by side-scroller standards, but simply one of the best games period. The story is just as basic as you’d expect–Mario and Luigi have to save Princess Toadstool (not Peach, yet) from Bowser after she was captured in Dinosaur Land.

From there, players go on an awesome 16-bit adventure that features some legendary level design, mechanics, and boss fights. It’s here that Yoshi became a staple of the franchise, as well as the look and feel of certain other mechanics like the Super Cape. The game was fun to play then, and it’s fun to play now, and in the end, isn’t that what’s important?

#2 Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Platform: Sega Genesis

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is arguably the best Sonic game ever made. While the first one was made to be a counterpoint to Mario in every way, it was Sonic the Hedgehog 2 that expanded the lore and dialed in not just the look and feel of Sonic, but what this franchise could be.

It was in this game that Tails was introduced, the Spin Dash was made, and the Chaos Emeralds made another appearance. This game was a blast to play, and it would continue the trend of not just people loving Sonic, but wanting to play Sonic games.

#1 Super Mario Bros 3

Platform: NES, SNES

Some of you might be mad that this is at the top of the list. Super Mario Bros 3 was the end of an era in many ways, and yet, it was something that showed just how grand and fun the side-scroller genre could be. This was largely due to its improved graphics, vast levels and worlds, new challenges, new abilities like the Tanooki Suit, and more. Many of the most iconic things that Mario did as a franchise came from this game. Classics never go out of style.


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