Mario has been the face of Nintendo since the 80s and he’s been wearing his gloves on the platforming genre for decades. A joyful jaunt through the Mushroom Kingdom is pretty much one of the first adventures most players experience, but after a while things start to get a little too routine.
That being said, Mario’s timeless nature is what makes his games so successful, but sometimes fans want something different. Luckily, the Nintendo Eshop is full of other platforming adventures ready to scratch that itch. It might not all be pipes and warp zones, but there are tons of games out there for those who need a break from Mario Bros.
If there’s one genre that Nintendo has made more than adequate use of, it’s Metroidvanias. The Eshop is home to dozens of exploratory platform experiences, but few stand out as much as Hollow Knight. While the Hallownest Kingdom is certainly darker and more dreary than the Mushroom Kingdom, players will still have monsters to fight and even encounters with poisonous mushrooms.
While some fans will compare it to something like dark souls, Mario fans will find the expansive levels and creature designs more than appealing. After all, there are only a limited number of smiley clouds a player can take before things get weird.
Cuphead is a game for gamers looking for that old “Nintendo-Hard” feeling of games of yore like Contra and Gradus. Although it is not lost levels, the game will test the platforming skills of the most experienced players.
A tribute to retro-hardcore games of the past, including some from Nintendo, Cuphead will cause some players to break their Joycons in half. For those patient enough to get into the groove like they would a Mario title, however, it’s a one-of-a-kind platforming experience that fans and vintage gamers alike can get.
These fantastic puzzle platformers are sadly overlooked by legions of fans. Not only does it take elements from classic platformers like the Mario Brothers. games, but it adds a quirky puzzle-solving element paired with absolutely gorgeous art design that compels players to keep going deeper and deeper into this mystical realm.
Easily one of the most gorgeous fantasy games out there, it combines classic platforming elements with a familiar fairytale setting that’s as comfortable as it is engaging. With a dash of RPG elements among the traditional mechanics, it’s definitely a different flavor of 2D platformer.
Sega does what Nintendo doesn’t, as the old saying goes. Sonic has always had something of a friendly rivalry with Mario, and his return to form in Sonic Mania continue to support this claim. This retro-inspired throwback is a mix of different elements from some of Blue Blur’s best games, and it’s ideal for anyone looking to keep that vintage vibe out of a Mario title.
If there’s one advantage Sonic has over Mario, it’s speed. Levels can pass at lightning speed, and there are enough rings and bonuses to collect to make a player’s head spin. Retro gamers looking for an alternative to Nintendo’s portly plumber won’t be disappointed.
The Mega Man Collections
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that almost every Mega Man game is ready and available on the Nintendo Switch. For those looking for a platforming experience with a bit more action, they wouldn’t be wrong to partner with the Blue Bomber itself. From original titles to X series and beyond, there’s practically a Mega Man for every appetite.
This mix of run-and-gun with traditional challenging platforming action is ideal for those looking for something with a bit of an edge, but still accessible to those coming out of a mushrooming frenzy with Mario. Even some of the modern Mega Man entries have continued to retain that 8-bit and 16-bit flavor that keeps drawing the retro crowd in for more.
Those who know the original Gaiden ninja you’ll feel right at home with Yacht Club’s cyberpunk platformer. Cyber Shadow takes on the ninja-inspired action seen in games like Gaiden ninja and shinobi and drops him into a retro-inspired 16-bit world of robots, laser beams, and deadly traps.
Mario wishes to have the Shadow bonus packs on his 8-bit inspired journey, and the developers have done more than acknowledge the genre that inspired the game’s creation. From its conception to the progression and flow of the experience, Cyber Shadow is essentially what would happen if an 80s 8-bit action platformer was made in the modern era.
Similar to Cyber Shadow, The messenger is a love letter to retro platformers from the golden age of gaming. Only instead of paying homage to the only 8-bit era, the game goes all the way by referencing classic platformers like Gaiden ninja with the genre Metroidvania as well.
One of the game’s most defining features is its transitions back and forth from 8-bit design to 16-bit design, bringing together the best of both worlds in a retro-fusion title. Reminiscent of several famous vintage games, its palette of inspiration draws from enough classic sources to make any retro gamer feel right at home.
Kaze and the Wild Masks
Although it might look like something out of the Sonic the Hedgehog universe, Kaze and the Wild Masks actually takes more games like Mario and donkey kong country than the drawings might suggest. With a design that is a mix of Sonic and an early Rayman game paired with gameplay reminiscent of the previously mentioned donkey kong country series, Kaze and wild masks certainly has a lot to offer.
If it weren’t for the modern graphics, this game could easily pass for a classic Nintendo title. Players collect various shiny objects, unlock bonus rooms, find bonuses, and even bounce on evil plant enemies that could be inspired by the visuals of Super Mario 2. Simply put, it’s a solid platformer that knows what fans appreciate the most.
Legends of Rayman
the Rayman The series is perhaps one of the easiest Mario substitutes to pick up. Its cartoony world and menagerie of strange creatures will bring a sense of familiarity to those digging into the Mushroom Kingdom, but there’s a much more satisfying action element added that Mario platformers don’t always have.
Although Origins is a favorite, Legends of Rayman offers just as much cartoonish platforming with a bit more spit and polish to its designs. At its core, it’s still the same classic Rayman experience that fans of any platform title can easily hop on and enjoy.
If there’s one game that was made to scratch every platformer itch imaginable, it’s the iconic Shovel Knight. Drawing inspiration from Nintendo platforms across the board, the game brings a sample of everything from Mario Brothers. for duck tales for an enchanting ride through an 8-bit realm.
There are heavy elements of Super Mario 3 which make it the heart of the game, but there are also some nuanced and new additions to the formula. It follows the love interest backup scheme but adds a colorful wry voice with a sharp gaming experience with all the bells and whistles a champion of the genre deserves.
NEXT: 10 Best Modern 3D Platformers, Ranked
Elden Ring Player killed while beckoning an invader
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