It doesn't matter how old you are, how long you've been gaming, or how you see yourself on the spectrum of casual to hardcore—there's nothing quite as special as a well-made platformer game.
The experience ranges from the classic 2D side-scrolling platformer to the exploration-inspiring 3D platformer, including the increasingly common 2.5D platformer. But they all share this in common: run, jump, repeat.
If you still think platforming is the same as what it was when a certain Italian plumber first descended down a massive pipe, you'll be pleasantly surprised by what's on offer via Xbox Game Pass.
Here are my picks for the best platformer games on Xbox Game Pass, which you can play right now if you're already subscribed. And if you aren't? Well, you should definitely jump on that!
In many ways, ClusterTruck is a deconstruction of the platformer genre. You're running and jumping, but you're not on a massive adventure or a journey to save a princess—you're just hopping from truck to truck, ones that are driven by some truly awful drivers.
Similar to a game like Super Meat Boy, this is a "just one more try" run to the end. ClusterTruck is a simple idea, but that doesn't make it any less fun.
9. Unravel Two
Unravel Two hints at the gameplay right in its title. Yes, sure, this is a sequel to the first Unravel, but it also introduces a second playable version of the game's main character, Yarny. You can play the entire game single-player, of course, but it's much better if you play it with a friend.
Both the original and the sequel are worth playing, and both are on Xbox Game Pass. But if you're only going to play one? Play the sequel.
Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is the kind of game that seems like it's actually a remake of a PlayStation 2-era cult classic platformer, but that's not the case! While it isn't exactly new, it isn't that old either, as it was released on the Xbox One in 2013.
This is a 2.5D puzzle platformer with Pixar-style graphics and a Disney-inspired story. The end result is a world of puzzles that aren't brain-breakingly difficult, at least until the end when it ramps up.
Human Fall Flat is what I like to call... a comedy physics game. There isn't much of a story to speak of, but that's okay because the humor comes from the act of trying to do literally anything.
The game has intentionally imprecise controls, which means you'll fail over and over again—and that's totally fine, because you fail so ridiculously and so spectacularly that you can't help but bust out laughing.
You may never actually finish the game. That isn't the point. Human Fall Flat is a platformer game unlike any other on Xbox Game Pass.
Don't be confused: Xbox Game Pass has both Super Lucky's Tale and New Super Lucky's Tale, and it isn't immediately clear what the difference is.
Basically, New Super Lucky's Tale is a much more polished version of the original game, so you should just stick with this one.
New Super Lucky's Tale is a 3D platformer in the tradition of Mario, complete with plenty of running, jumping, and collecting shiny objects. It doesn't add much new to the formula, but it's a solid game overall.
Its somewhat divisive art style aside, Hollow Knight has earned a deserved reputation as one of the best Metroidvania games ever made.
Hollow Knight: Voidheart Edition is just the name for the Xbox and PlayStation versions. There's virtually no difference between this and the original game except that it comes with all four content packs (instead of needing to download them separately).
Compared to most of the other games on this list, Hollow Knight is far less whimsical in its tone. Looking for a platformer that doesn't look like every color of crayon was thrown at the screen? This one's for you.
You can tell a game has been crafted well when tons of people are playing it despite having a name like Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth. But it's based on an anime series, so I suppose there's no avoiding it.
Don't let that turn you away! While there's plenty in Record of Lodoss War for fans of the anime, you don't need to be familiar with the anime to enjoy the game. You'll have fun even if you've never heard of the anime.
The game is strongly influenced by Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, right down to the art style, but it has plenty of its own ideas as well.
Do you like Metroidvania games but prefer it to be less anime-ish than the aforementioned Record of Lodoss War? Then you'll probably have a better time with Ori and the Will of the Wisps.
This game is more of a traditional Metroidvania and less of a Symphony of the Night clone, and the art is absolutely gorgeous. Following up Ori and the Blind Forest, it's a sequel that offers tighter and more satisfying platforming (but can still feel a bit frustrating in the on-rails segments).
When the original Psychonauts came out, people loved it. The bizarre characters mixed with quirky art, tone, and level design made for a uniquely lovable experience—especially for 2005.
So, of course, Psychonauts 2 sounded like a good idea... but as development dragged on, it felt more and more like a game that would never release. Fortunately, that wasn't the case! Indeed, the wait was worth it, with Psychonauts 2 surpassing the original in nearly every way.
Most importantly, Psychonauts 2 improves on the platforming. The writing and environments are as sharp as ever, but the gameplay is much tighter this time around, making it a must-play platformer game.
Tinykin is the rare example of a game that mashes two genres together that would never work on paper, but somehow makes it work.
You've probably heard Tinykin described as a mix of Nintendo's Pikmin series with 3D platformer mechanics, but it certainly leans more toward the platformer angle than the Pikmin angle.
Sure, you're guiding armies of tiny creatures around, but that's really just a side mechanic; the main focus is platforming. The end result? Tinykin is one of the most original platformers to hit a non-Nintendo system in years.