Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The Tuesday 10s - Best 2D Platformers of the Past Ten Years

It's been quite a while since their last appearance on SuperPhillip Central, but The Tuesday 10s are back for a new edition! This time we're checking out the best 2D platformers of the past ten years, similar to how we looked previously at the best 3D platformers of the past ten years over a year ago. Will you be surprised at some of the picks? Well, let's run and jump straight into the list so you can find out!

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (NSW, Wii U)

Let's start with the great gorilla, the massive monkey, the awesome ape--Donkey Kong! His most recent adventure from 2014, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, saw him teaming up with the rest of the Kong crew, specifically Diddy, Dixie, and new to the playable roster Cranky Kong--each with their own unique platforming abilities--and taking on the evil Snowmads who took over Kong Island. Bad for the Kongs, great for us, as we got to enjoy Retro Studios' amazing artistry and level design throughout the six world (technically seven, counting the bonus world) adventure. Whether playing solo with your choice of Kong-panion riding on DK's back, or playing with the Kongs separate from one another in local co-op, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze brought a banana slamma' to the Wii U and then eventually the Switch with added Funky Kong as a playable character.

Hollow Knight (Multi)

Caution: Your gaming and platforming skills will be put to the ultimate test with this next game. Our first Metroidvania on this list is also the most challenging of the games listed on The Tuesday 10s this time around. It's none other than Hollow Knight, an open-ended Metroid-esque adventure. Offering a punishing difficulty, vast world to explore and become lost in, exciting and brutal boss battles, plenty of side quests and secrets to uncover, and loads of longevity and replay value, Hollow Knight delivered one of the most unexpected but welcomed indie surprises of 2017. We eagerly await Silksong, wherever it may be in its development since going AWOL after being announced during a Nintendo video presentation two years ago.

Metroid Dread (NSW)

Speaking of difficult Metroid-style games, how about we give props to the originator of the sub-genre of platformers with Samus Aran's latest and arguably greatest, depending on your stance? It's Metroid Dread, released this past October exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. Samus Aran has never felt better to control in this game, offering an unrivaled since of agility, mobility, and overall movement, at least in the Metroid series. I love the way the game subtly points you and directs you around its otherwise easy-to-get-lost world with smart power-up placement and through its level design. The game is challenging, too, more so than any other Metroid game, in my opinion. Thankfully, Samus possesses her move set from Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS), including that spectacularly swift counter ability, as well as picks up several new moves to make for a fresh, awesome, and exciting Metroid game from start to finish.

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe (NSW)

While the original New Super Mario Bros. U released alongside the Wii U in 2012 and a DLC platforming expansion starring Luigi called New Super Luigi U launched the summer after, the two games would receive a splendid compilation on the Nintendo Switch that only left out the Wii U GamePad-controlled challenges and asymmetrical multiplayer options. Both New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U offer the same excellent level design of the original games, and really, some of the best designed levels in 2D Mario history. Not even speaking hyperbolically here. The aesthetic and overall presentation is indeed sterile and bland, but gameplay and design-wise, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is a masterclass.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps (XBS, XB1, PC, NSW)

We took a quick detour from Metroidvania-styled games for some Mario, but now let's briefly return to the sub-genre of platformer with Ori and the Will of the Wisps. The game is as breathtaking in design as it is utterly gorgeous to look at. The story is equally heartfelt and heartwarming, and the world is a joy and delight to explore. The addition of side quests didn't feel like filler to pad the length of the game; instead they felt organic and enjoyable to complete. The various locales Ori could explore were filled with impressive sights, sounds, and platforming challenges that really utilized Ori's move set in truly innovative and clever ways. And those intense escape sequences and boss battles? Phew, dear! I need to sit down just thinking about them, as they were totally tense and awesome in all the right ways. 

Rayman Legends (Multi)

Whether playing solo or in co-op, Rayman Legends is a brilliant 2D platformer, especially the Wii U original version, offering its Murfy levels being controlled by the Wii U GamePad. These Murfy levels had one player using said GamePad to move around and interact with obstacles and objects in levels via the touch screen to help the other players through them. Things could get rather dicey rather quickly if players didn't work together well! Not only did the Wii U version offer one of the best uses of the Wii U GamePad, but even on other platforms, the game was just phenomenal a platformer. Colorful, crisp graphics, terrific control and feel, creative levels, and a superb soundtrack all added up to make Rayman Legends a marvelous game.

Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove (Multi)

The original Shovel Knight released in 2014 from Yacht Club Games. Since then, the game has become its own series of spin-offs featuring bosses from the game seeing themselves as the main characters, complete with unique move sets and more. Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove is a compilation of all of these adventures, including King Knight's and Plague Knight's, and the package is well worth the price of admission. The original Shovel Knight was a retro-inspired platformer with dashes of Mario, Mega Man, and even DuckTales somewhat in its gameplay and design. A masterful game if there ever was one, and the addition of even more Shovel Knight goodness via the aforementioned expansions make for a package that is absolutely irresistible. Seriously, if you "dig" platformers, you'll most likely love Shovel Knight as well, if you haven't already!

Sonic Mania (Multi)

The Sonic the Hedgehog series perseveres after decades of ups and downs in quality of the Blue Blur's games, but Sonic Mania stands (or rolls around at the speed of sound, I guess would fit better) as one of the hedgehog's greatest titles, not just in the modern era of Sonic (that's not too difficult a task) but overall as well. It rivals the Genesis games, if not simply just surpassing them in multiple areas. After SEGA's multiple failed attempts at bringing Sonic back to basics (looking at you, Sonic the Hedgehog 4, you utterly contemptible pile of vomited-up chili dog), Sonic Mania absolutely succeeded where those games failed, delivering tight controls, excellent physics that mirrored the Genesis classics well, astounding level design with multiple paths to explore, and a stellar soundtrack from Tee Lopes, like a cherry on top. Sonic Mania is the gold [ring] standard of 2D Sonic the Hedgehog games.

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair (Multi)

From some of the developers and designers of the original Donkey Kong Country games, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair brought so much excellence and creative ideas into its DKC-styled adventure. From the clever 3D overworld to explore--complete with environmental puzzles to solve, to the genius that was the Impossible Lair, where players built up a collection of "hits" by completing the other levels in the game, Yooka and Laylee's second outing was a fantastic one. The ability to use Tonics to alter the play experience to make the game as easy or as hard as you wanted (also rewarding a quill multiplier for doing so) made it so you could enjoy the game however you desired. The way levels had two different versions based on how they were altered in the overworld, was also a brilliant idea and implemented wonderfully, too. All in all, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair was a treat to play with exceptional controls and feel, sensational levels, and well executed ideas.

Yoshi's Woolly World (Wii U) 

I might get grief for this, but I will stand by my argument that Yoshi's Woolly World is a better and more enjoyable game than the original Yoshi's Island from the Super Nintendo. I know, I know. It's blasphemy for some of you out there, but consider this: not only is the game lovingly made with a wool and yarn aesthetic, even going as far as to be implemented into its level design and puzzles, but it also doesn't require you to collect everything in one go to get 100% in a level. Thank YOU, Good Feel! Not only this, but I enjoyed the levels more, the grander variety of music, and just the adventure from beginning to end, as both a player and a completionist. Yoshi's Island is a fantastic game as well, but Good Feel's magnum opus just outpaces and outshines the SNES classic by a thread.

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