Mobile platforms have always struggled with touchscreen controls. For a long time, it seemed like this genre just couldn’t work on mobile devices. Clever design and streamlined gameplay ultimately proved otherwise. Many mobile platformers use the touchscreen so well to compete with a traditional gamepad.
games like classic sonic cd and Mario Run are proof that platforms belong to mobile platforms as much as any other genre. Meanwhile, original designs like Cat Bird and bean dreams are examples of the uniqueness of the best mobile platforms. While the genre isn’t exactly vibrant right now, the future of mobile platforms is certainly exciting.
ten soul hunt
soul hunt is a retro platformer about a pixelated blue knight who must catch his soul. Meanwhile, players must juggle environmental hazards, enemies, and the army of ghosts catching up to them from the left side of the screen.
soul hunt maybe aSimple platformer, but it has a solid twist. Instead of racing against the clock, players race after one ghost and try to run away from another. It doesn’t take long before the levels start to get harder, while each level is kept short and sweet, perfect for a mobile game.
9 arashi ninja
arashi ninja sells itself as a platformer/RPG. In reality, this 2D action platformer rarely turns combat into a challenge. Even the RPG elements are forgettable, which amounts to minor stat increases like critical chance or skill duration.
Which makes arashi ninja worth trying the minimalist layout, where everything but the background appears as a black silhouette. The game also stands out for its kaizo-lite design, where enemies and the environment hide deadly traps. arashi ninja received a sequel which is more or less the same, just more difficult.
8 bean dreams
Released in 2014, bean dreams is one of the oldest smartphone platforms still available for purchase. But unlike many early mobile games, bean dreams plays comfortably with touchscreen controls. It’s a serious requirement for a genre so dependent on precise inputs like platforms.
In this physics-based platformer, players control an adorable bouncy green blob wearing a cowboy hat. This blob, presumably named Bean, will never stop bouncing no matter what. It’s up to players to get Bean to the end of the level and catch as many fruits as possible, the game’s main collectible. Each level also has a minimum number of bounces, for those looking for an extra challenge.
7 classic sonic cd
Sonic needs no introduction, nor does his Sega CD debut, sonic cd. Following the success of sonic the hedgehog 2the 1993 sequel brings high-fidelity audio and multi-layered scenes to the landmark series.
classic sonic cd, the mobile port, offers a few advantages over the original. Not only does it retain all of the content from the 1993 release, but it adds the ability to choose between Japanese and American soundtracks. Additionally, the port adds widescreen support, an absolute necessity for a game that moves as fast as Sonic.
6 ball league
ball league doesn’t try to hide his inspiration, and he shouldn’t. The action-platform battle royale bears more than a superficial resemblance to the genre’s staple Fortnite, both in design and presentation. At the same time, it adds more than enough originality to make up for it.
ball league is primarily a 2D Flash game memory-platform shooter. It also has many unique mechanics, like floating in the air while shooting down, ala History of the cave. ball league can be played online and offline, in battle royale mode as well as classic deathmatch.
Indie darling of the 2010s LIMBO has a new home on Android and iOS phones. The 2022 port of the cult story-driven platformer is a faithful adaptation of the original. LIMBO is a simple horror platformer that works perfectly even on touchscreens, redeemed by a striking presentation and an untold story.
While the story of LIMBO may not sound as impressive to new audiences, there’s a purity to this short game that remains appealing to this day. The lack of dialogue or character building makes it the perfect narrative platformer for mobile gamers.
4 Xolan’s Sword
is a free-to-play game released on mobile in 2015. Although quite old for mobile standards, it is still one of the most feature-rich and completely free-to-play platform games. The presentation may be mixed in quality, but the pixel art has its charm and the voice acting is as cheesy as the story.
The premise of Xolan’s Sword is simple: the hero’s village has been invaded by zombies and monsters, and the villagers have been kidnapped. While he can just head for the exit and defeat the bad guy, he should find the hostages hidden in each level for a nice little bonus. The game is quite long, with its three acts of 10 levels each, each crowned by a boss fight.
3 Classic Rayman
This is not the right time to be Rayman. Ubisoft’s historic mascot hasn’t had a game of his own since 2013. Today, he’s reduced to a guest role in his spin-off’s spin-off, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope. There was a time when the name Rayman meant something different, and Classic Rayman is around this time.
Classic Rayman is a port of the original PlayStation 1 Rayman. Unlike the rest of the Rayman trilogy, this 2D platformer lacked edgy action and plot, relying on simple challenges and charming characters. Even if the challenge is minimal, the world itself is a joy to explore, full of bright colors and lively animations.
2 Mario Run
While one could argue that Mario Run belongs to the realm of endless runners, it’s easy to feel the weight that the platformer series had on this game. Mario himself is the platformer’s mascot, and the game pushes the limited controls accordingly.
In Mario Run, players have only one button: Jump. Mario will race for them, never stopping but occasionally being knocked back by wall jumps or when interacting with certain blocks. Using these options wisely and choosing the right path through the level is where the game gets interesting, even if the difficulty never reaches the heights it should.
1 Cat Bird
Cat Bird is easily the most adorable platformer on mobile. The protagonist himself, the titular Cat Bird, sounds and moves much like Yoshi. And just like Nintendo’s cute and silly dinosaur, Cat Bird can almost fly. It even makes a nice similar noise to accompany its glide.
Cat Bird uses only three buttons: Left, Right and Jump. By holding down the jump button, Cat Bird will slowly slide down instead of falling. While the gameplay can get quite challenging, the star of the show is always the presentation. Cat Bird chirps happily as it slides and puffs up dirt as it falls to the ground. And the worlds are all adorable cat-shaped planets, what more could you ask for?
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