We’re most likely all familiar with 2D platformers. Who hasn’t heard of the likes of Super Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, Mega Man and many more? Suffice to say many games get under the radar, which is a shame because there are many good ones out there that only a handful amount of people know of. I am known for playing obscure games on any platform so I thought to myself hey, why not start a hidden gem series of articles I can make to fill the diversity gap every now and then?
For this list, I am looking at five Steam 2D Platformer hidden gems. I split it up specifically into this genre because making a list about hidden gems on Steam in general would be too drawn out. Don’t worry, I’ll get to other genres and consoles later on. I am also trying to keep the games Steam only, but there might be a few on here that have appeared on other consoles later on. Regardless, they’re still hidden gems so the thought counts. I’m also looking at just 2D Platformers, so no 3D Platformers or Metroidvanias for this list. Lastly, this is not a countdown, so listings are not ranked and instead put here alphabetically. This also enables me to make more hidden gems on the same topic later on, because I could go on and on about hidden gems. Without further ado, here are the five hidden gems I would like to talk about today!
Adventures in the Tower of Flight
Steam page: Adventures in the Tower of Flight
Exclusive to Steam: Yes
We’re starting off the list with Adventures in the Tower of Flight, a game where you’re allowed to fly instead of jump. As a result, it is also more vertically oriented as the main protagonist must climb to the top of the tower to become the ruler of the world! That’s an ambitious plot if I’ve ever heard one for sure. It has an 8-bit art-style reminiscent of the Gameboy Colour era if not the NES era, and reminds me of games such as Kid Icarus for the NES. It features loot-hoarding gameplay with many hidden treasures which can be exchanged for items to make your journey easier like health upgrades. And that’s actually what makes this game just a tad more enjoyable than your regular platformer; there are so many different secrets and routes which all lead to benefits helping you through the game. Combat also gets mixed up eventually with different weapons, or upgrades to weapons already in possession. It also uses the Castlevania map system after every noticeable checkpoint which is a neat touch as well. Honestly, Adventures in the Tower of Flight is a very enjoyable journey and definitely worth the low price.
Curse of the Crescent Isle DX
Steam page: Curse of the Crescent Isle DX
Exclusive to Steam: Yes
This is essentially Super Mario Bros. 2/Doki Doki Panic in indie format, and with that I mean the ability to grab enemies and throwing them. The twist here however, is that the enemies you grab have abilities in themselves. You are the king or queen of the Crescent Isle, a peaceful island befallen by a curse which turns all of its residents into monsters. That’s correct: you’re actually using your subordinates to pass obstacles or kill other enemies. Nice ruler you are, but I guess you’ll be forgiven if you do end up lifting the curse..? Curse of the Crescent Isle DX is a short, charming game with a level-to-level structure and a boss fight at the end. You’ll probably beat it in less than an hour, but it is time well spent. I actually speedrunned this game as well! I have no recording, but I did end up pretty close to the world record. I might try to go for that record someday actually, not that it’s too impressive since nobody has even heard of this game but that’s where I come in. I’m literally trying to create my own speedrun rivals. It’s literally 80 cents on Steam; you absolutely can’t go wrong with this game. Definitely a recommendation if you’re looking for something that uses the mechanics of Super Mario Bros. 2 and adds its own flavour.
Steam page: Insanity’s Blade
Exclusive to Steam: No (Wii U)
This is probably the most far-fetched entry on this list because yes, while this game is technically a platformer, it also has a lot of action and RPG elements. Then again, the same could be said for many platformers like one of its biggest comparisons, Castlevania. Though I also don’t feel it plays that much like a Castlevania game. A game called Rastan would probably be the best comparison there is; a 90’s arcade total carnage platformer where everything in your path must die. Heck, even the User Interface looks like it could have been an arcade game. It is not the most polished game on this list but the gameplay is very satisfying. There is a massive difficulty spike at the second boss which coincidentally is also the toughest challenge the game has to offer, at least for me. If you are able to get past that difficulty spike however, you have a fun game reminiscent of old arcade games with satisfying combat, multiple weapons and decent platforming as well. The story has some darker moments which I like because the game adapts well to its atmosphere. I mean, you’re literally a father who lost his wife and child and actually travel to hell to kick the devil’s sweet booty. This truly is a 90’s game huh.
Steam Page: MagiCat
Exclusive to Steam: No (Nintendo Switch)
Whoops, that was dark alright, let’s so back to something adorable again: a cat with a wizard hat! If this didn’t sell you yet I don’t know what will. Probably a dog with a wizard hat because dogs are better but I digress. This is probably the most true-to-nature Platformer on this list. It doesn’t just look like a game from the 16-bit era; it feels like a game straight from the 16-bit era. I don’t know why but I have the tendency to compare this game to Do-Re-Mi Fantasy, a Japanese exclusive platformer on the SNES. You’re playing as a cat who can jump on enemies to kill them or throw balls of wool at them because cats. You’ll also unlock various skills over the course of the game to make it feel like you’re not constantly being the same cat. But what I love most about MagiCat is that almost every stage has their own unique puzzle gimmicks, and every stage also ends with a boss that incorporates some of these gimmicks. Even if you fight the same boss with a new skin, the gimmicks are what make them feel fresh. I have not yet beaten this game and honestly, I question myself why because I thoroughly enjoyed this game. I’ll just have to take my time for it I suppose because MagiCat is a long game, easily taking about 15 hours just to beat. And for the 5 bucks price tag, it would almost be a crime not to try this out.
Super Life of Pixel
Steam Page: Super Life of Pixel
Exclusive to Steam: No (PlayStation 4, PS Vita)
For the final game of today, we have Super Life of Pixel. There are many games on Steam that use older generations of gaming for their inspiration in creating a game, too many to count. Super Life of Pixel is admittedly one of them, but goes a step beyond. Instead of just being an 8-bit or 18-bit platformer, it takes the art styles from almost all consoles that happened before 3D arrived. It’s not just a reference to the NES and SNES which a lot of games do, but instead also more uncommon consoles like the CPC464, Mac 128K and far more. Not only does it reference the consoles, but also some of the stand-out hits from said generations and uses them as level designs. It is a wonderful love letter to true retro gaming beyond the most well-known consoles. The gameplay itself is not necessarily outstanding but functions well regardless, with various power-ups and secrets to find. Every console consists of a set amount of levels which have to be finished to move on to the next, and it set in chronological order. It is a fun throwback and definitely worth checking out.
And there you have it, five 2D Platformer Hidden Gems for Steam! Like I’ve said before, I could go on and on about this topic so if you feel there’s a game missing, let me know down below! Depending on the interest this might become a regular series on the website as well. Also, I might eventually take a look at all games independently but for now, I would like to gauge the interest in what game you would like to see reviewed first, which is done through a Straw poll! When the winner of the poll is known, I will work on the review and will very likely attach a giveaway of said game to the article, so be sure to let me know! Hopefully I’ve managed to introduce you to some games you might have never heard of before.
Straw poll: http://www.strawpoll.me/17546098