Let’s make one thing clear first; this is a list of the best 2D platformers for Nintendo Switch, so it’s 2D games only! We do have the list of best platformers on Nintendo Switch if you are interested in 3D too!
Platformers are one of the most classic genres of video games, right alongside shmups and arcade fighters, and you know we’ve already seen a lot of them pass through the Switch’s doors.
With the Nintendo Switch a year and a half old, it’s always impressive to see how far the system has come and how well developers have been responding to it.
Since we know there are some knock-out 3D platformers on the market at the moment, we wanted to focus solely on which 2D (or 2.5D if you’re being really picky) platformer games on Switch you should think about picking up.
Not because we want you to throw money away, but because we know you’ll be getting a fantastic experience. At the end of the day, that’s all we want as gamers, isn’t it?
Emily Sowden, updated by Jupiter Hadley & Cristina Mesesan.
1. Adventure Pals
The Adventure Pals is a side-scrolling action 2D platformer for Switch where you need to rescue your Papa from being turned into a hot dog. Between that and your faithful giraffe, you need to traverse a series of tricky levels and take on the world’s many adorable foes. It’s one of those cute games you could play on your own, laughing at jokes and beating up hotdogs, but it’s even more fun in two-player co-op where you both can explore.
The graphics from The Adventure Pals is super cute and leans towards a Japanese style. It will put a smile on your face, so if you want a great (and kinda derpy) game, make sure you give this one a shot.
You need to help Madeline journey to the top of Celeste Mountain in this hand-crafted platformer. Made by the same folks who brought us Towerfall its controls are simple, but the going is hard and each failure will be a lesson in itself. Celeste is quite a challenging 2D platformer for Switch, but it’s one well worth playing if you are up for the challenge and think you can master it!
The 8-bit graphics in this game will take you back to some old retro games, and the tough levels only make it a must-play for genre enthusiasts. It’s one of the best 2D Switch platformers that doesn’t give any signs of getting outranked anytime soon. We made a couple of Celeste tips to help you out!
3. Cave Story+
In Cave Story+ you wake up in a dark cave with no memory of who you are or how you got there. Despite your personal dilemma, however, it’s up to you to save the people of Mimiga Village from a maniacal scientist. There is a lot of action – dodging bullets, taking on posses, and using your gun to boost you up to higher heights. It’s polished, addictive, tricky, and a little bit retro.
Furthermore, you’ll also have a pretty fun narrative to dig into. Cave Story+ is one of those games that will remind you why a platformer is one of the best genres you can immerse into on your Switch.
Outrun a terrible storm in SHU and get help from a wide variety of characters (and their own useful talents) to make it past each challenge. Work through 21 levels across six lands, collect trinkets, and grab the best time possible if you’re all about the figures. The art style in SHU is quite nice to look at and there are some really tricky platforming moves!
Much like many other Switch 2D platformers, it will only get better (and harder) as you advance. It’s a nice game that will satisfy the over-achiever within with all of the secrets and collectibles you can discover.
If you’ve got a few pals around, Runbow is an excellent 2D platformer on Switch with some really neat, stylish twists on competitive play. You’re racing to get to the finish line, dodging and weaving through the level’s many obstacles, but there’s a catch – colourful platforms disappear and reappear if they match the background colour, so be careful.
The game is simple and has all of the key elements that make up a good platformer. It never gets boring, so rest assured – you can pick it up and re-play it as often as you like!
6. Dead Cells
Dead Cells isn’t going to hold your hand and that’s one of the greatest things about it. Playing as a failed alchemic experiment, you need to figure out what’s happening on the seemingly cursed island around you. Each time you die, you can use it as a learning experience, so hopefully, in the future, you can make it further.
Enjoy challenging enemies, tricky levels, permadeath, and more. This is not your ordinary 2D platformer on Nintendo Switch. It’s a game that will give you a lot to work towards and even more to enjoy. Read all about how you can get the Gardener’s Keys and a Cavern Key if you decide to dive into this one, believe us, both will come in handy.
7. Steamworld Dig 2
Head off on an epic mining adventure in this platformer/reverse platformer. After an old trading town needs help following a series of earthquakes, it’s up to you to help them recover and figure out what darker forces are at work. The graphics in Steamworld Dig 2 are really lovely, and there are plenty of traps, upgrades, and strange machines to keep you exploring.
It is full of action, puzzles, and tons of other elements that elevate it from a simple 2D platformer on Switch to something much more. It’s, simply put, brilliant!
8. Hollow Knight
Not only visually stunning, in Hollow Knight you’ll journey deep into a ruined world and discover a variety of characters and settlements residing in the cursed kingdom. Branch out to find hidden paths, reap rewards, and fight bosses amidst a labyrinth of caves and curiosities.
Adorable looking characters, cutesy but deadly monsters and a not-too-friendly environment make up the entirety of this fun little game. There is a lot to discover in Hollow Knight, and it’s one of our favourite picks and also one of the best 2D platformers on Switch ever released!
9. Ori and the Blind Forest
Of the four years that went into creating Ori and the Blind Forest, Moon spent a year and a half just fine-tuning the mechanics. This time is definitely not wasted: yes, Ori looks very beautiful, but first and foremost it is still an exceptional platformer – balanced, thoughtful, and complex.
At the heart of Ori and the Blind Forest is the exploration of the vast world and the solution of platform puzzles. Not intricate puzzles, as in Braid, but those that test your reaction first of all.
Tiny Ori is tasked with saving his native forest from an impending disaster, and for this, he must find three elemental spheres: water, air, and fire. Ori is accompanied by the firefly Sein.
10. Touhou Luna Nights
This Metroidvania title places much emphasis on the free exploration players can dive into when playing it. It’s a platformer unlike many others, and action-packed to the brim. The game looks great, follows a pretty nifty 8-bit graphics line and merges creatively with anime characters full of personality.
You can explore the various levels and uncover the captivating story within the game, so make sure to give it a shot. It’s one of those underrated Switch 2D platformers that only keeps getting better and better as you play.
Stand up to the paint factory’s villainous boss, Le Docteur, and save the Splashers in this inky platformer. Each colour you shoot from your paint cannon will grant you special Portal-esque powers to help you manoeuvre tricky levels and fool enemies. Dodging around, walking on the ceilings, and otherwise making sure you stay away from hazards becomes very fast and fun in this game!
The genre feels at home in the cartoonish world of Splasher, and it only enhances the fluid gameplay one can enjoy in this amazing Switch platformer.
12. Sonic Mania
Sonic returns, bigger and better than ever. Race through re-imagined classic levels as you bring the fight to evil Dr. Robotnik, and discover never-before-seen paths and shortcuts. Relive Sonic 1-3 and play as Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles in your adventures. Careful, though. It’s harder than you remember. It’s one of the classic 2D platformers on Switch that you’ll love.
The game is certainly one of the best 2D platformers on Switch, even in 2022. It’ll be even better if you catch it on sale – a must-buy.
13. The Messenger
When a young ninja journeys across a cursed world to deliver a super-important scroll, this seemingly simple action platformer may just blow your mind. You’re sucked into an awesome time-travelling adventure filled with exciting twists, turns, upgrades, humour, and branching paths alongside some really neat characters.
The game has a pixelated graphic style sprinkled with amazing backgrounds, characters and a truly immersive environment, so if you want a retro game that still follows a pretty contemporary concept, The Messenger is the ideal game.
14. Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition
Rayman Legends follows Rayman and his friends as they discover a tent filled with strange paintings hidden away in an enchanted forest. Run, jump, and fight your way through different worlds as you try to discover the secrets behind each artwork and save the world, of course. Rayman Legends can be played in local co-op mode, with each player helping to “pop” the other players who have died, bringing them back to life for another chance at the game.
It really gives the proper vibe of a truly great 2D platformer on Switch, so don’t miss out on it in case you have someone to play with. It’ll be an experience to remember.
15. Monster Sanctuary
Monster Sanctuary is a lovely, pixelated platformer where you will find loads of different monsters that can help you explore the world, find new areas, defend yourself and survive. There are skill trees allowing you to upgrade your attacks and yourself to best suit your strategy, which provides quite a variety of gameplay! You need to build and defend your own Sanctuary – it’s just up to you to do it your way.
For a game that is as fun and adorable as this one, it definitely feels at home on the handheld console. That alone makes it one of the best 2D platformers on Switch out there.