With Mario becoming the poster boy for platforming side-scrollers, a lot of great games often went unnoticed. Although games like Sonic the Hedgehog, Adventure Island and Megaman have also proved their mettle, some great releases do not get the attention they deserve. So, let’s look back at some of the best yet lesser known platformers that rock.
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- Disney’s Aladdin (SNES, Genesis)
There are two renditions of this game. One released by Virgin Games and the other by Capcom. While there are some key differences in the two, both are incredible platformers. Virgin Games’ Aladdin was released for Sega Genesis while the other was for Super Nintendo with both getting critically acclaimed and became the bestsellers for their respective consoles. Genesis version however had better animation and was favored by Shinji Mikami, the legendary lead designer for Capcom over their own version.
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- Donkey Kong Country (SNES)
Have you been pissed that most platformers only focus on single player missions? Well, Donkey Kong Country on the Super Nintendo totally changed that along with some insane graphics for its time. Despite of its 2d side-scrolling gameplay, the backgrounds were 3D-eqsue, like Killer Instinct. It featured a co-op gameplay where both players control Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong respectively and can switch between the two anytime in-game. The gameplay was also much faster than Mario and far more interactive and challenging than Sonic the Hedgehog, with several minigames that kept gamers satiated for months.
- Duck Tales (NES)
Extremely underrated 8-bit era game, despite of its fantastic and smooth gameplay that was far superior to Mario or Megaman. The player controls Scrooge Mc Duck who attacks enemies with his trusty cane and break open various in-game objects. Even though it only had 5 stages, the game’s true ending could only be unlocked by beating all stages and the highest amount of treasure collected. The game was an immediate commercial success but didn’t reach the same iconicism as Super Mario Bros. simply due to the lack of decent follow-ups.
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- Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PlayStation)
Symphony of the Night didn’t see the same success initially as the series classics simply due to poor publicity in US market. The story is set right after the events of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood where Richter Belmont defeated Dracula and has claimed the castle as his own. Richter Belmont plays the primary villain for this game as the protagonist Alucard must defeat him to reclaim Dracula’s legacy and end the curse. The game also replaced the standard weapon ‘Whip’ to a vast array of melee weapons and armor along with attributes that must be enhanced through experience points. It’s unique combination of side-scrolling platformer, hack and slash with RPG elements and a huge (insanely huge!) map make it one of the best games to have ever surfaced.
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- Skull Monkeys (PlayStation)
It’s hard to believe how underrated this fine game is. Skull Monkeys released on the PlayStation 1 is a sequel to an even lesser known point-n-click adventure ‘The Neverhood’. This game however removes the point-n-click controls in favor of a fast-paced side-scrolling platformer and is renowned among hardcore gamers for its difficulty. Truly an underrated gem that will definitely break your thumbs and wits.
- Sly Cooper (PlayStation 2)
After the Crash Bandicoot franchise died (admit it! PS2 titles weren’t nearly as good) out with PlayStation 1, PS2 certainly had a dearth of challenging platformers that could fill the void. Sly Cooper did exactly that, only better. Instead of the tried and tested side-scrolling gameplay, Sly Cooper features 3d environments like Maximo and stealth elements like Splinter Cell to make an incredibly unique platformer. The player controls a humanoid racoon ‘Sly Cooper’ who is a master thief and must perform various heists across the world. The game’s art and gameplay was certainly unique among platformers along with long storylines that will provide plenty of hours-worth gameplay.
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The abovementioned games might not be as famous as the bestsellers. But their innovative gameplay and design made them instant favorites. If you feel there are titles that deserve to be on this list, please feel free to post your suggestions in the comments section below.