While many of the top games today are open-world and games from other genres, it was platformers that led the video game industry during the '90s. Revolutionary technology that allowed a character to jump from platform to platform in two dimensions—and, for the first time, three dimensions—is what changed video games as we know them. Interestingly enough, the earliest 3D games used a blend of 2D and 3D.
Many of us have heard of or played them, and now, it is time to rank them. Careful consideration was made to include as many of the greatest platform games as possible. This is ranking the best '90s platform games. Enjoy!
10 Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!
Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! improved on its predecessor with smarter level designs and thrilling boss battles. Many people consider Spyro: Year of the Dragon to be the best Spyro game, but it was released in the year 2000, so it does not qualify for this '90s platformers list.
Many others consider Ripto's Rage to be the superior platformer for being the only game to incorporate new abilities as the game progresses. Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! is included with the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, a remake of the first three Spyro games.
9 Tomb Raider II
Video game music from the '90s is hard to compare, but Tomb Raider's music fits the games perfectly, and new songs were made by reputable music composers. Tomb Raider 2's various locations and enjoyable gameplay stand out in the Tomb Raider series as well.
Although the amount of detail in Tomb Raider 2 is inferior to today's games, at the time, it was spectacular. Swimming underwater, completing puzzles, and varying enemies such as dogs is why Tomb Raider 2 worked. The gameplay of Tomb Raider has evolved but the core elements remain the same as in Tomb Raider 2.
8 Donkey Kong 64
One flaw of Donkey Kong 64 is its clunky character swap system. Sure, the ability to change between members of the Kong family is a cool feature, yet it was poorly executed because of how tedious it was. Stopping in the middle of a level to head to a character-changing barrel becomes repetitive as the game goes on.
Despite its flaws, Donkey Kong 64 is an inventive game and one of the most important platform games in video game history. The story is engaging, and the multiplayer is a blast. Now, where's that sequel?
7 Super Castlevania IV
Castlevania is now a Netflix TV series, but it might not have been if it wasn't for the impactfulness of Super Castlevania IV. Super Castlevania IV is widely considered to be the best game in the series. Released for the Super Nintendo in 1991, it offered unprecedented visuals and stellar gameplay.
From the developer Konami, Super Castlevania IV takes players 1691's Transylvania, where Dracula must be defeated. The difficulty of this game was high, but it was so, so satisfying to beat.
6 Crash Bandicoot: Warped
Based on the bandicoot animal, Crash has won its way into our hearts for being a positive outlier in video games. In respect to its platform element, Crash Bandicoot: Warped stands out for having first-rate jump mechanics and for being the most fun game in the series. The amount of hidden paths that were part of creative map designs makes this game too fun.
Crash Bandicoot is three-dimensional, yet it somehow has as much platforming as two-dimensional games. The difficulty of this game is above-average. The best way to play Crash Bandicoot: Warped is in the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, which has an even higher difficulty than the original.
5 Super Mario World
Some may consider Super Mario Bros. 3 to be the best platform game of the '90s, but it was released in Japan in 1988 and North America in 1990, so we consider it to be an '80s platformer. Super Mario World released for the Super Nintendo in 1990 in Japan, 1991 in North America, and 1992 in Europe.
It was the highest-selling game for the Super Nintendo because of its impactful enhancement in visuals during the 8-bit era. Often heralded as one of the greatest games of all time, Super Mario World contains genius level designs and introduced Nintendo's loveable character, Yoshi.
4 Banjo Kazooie
It's difficult to compare today's platformers to games like Banjo-Kazooie. Few video game developers are willing to invest the amount of time and dedication required for a three-dimensional platformer like this. Yooka-Laylee is the closest to Banjo-Kazooie, and it was an utter disaster.
It is unlikely we'll see a three-dimensional platformer as enjoyable as Banko-Kazooie anytime soon. The series went downhill when they released the third game in the series, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. It's still possible to revitalize what many consider to be a superb platform series, but there are no plans yet.
3 Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Moving fast is conducive to completing objectives in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. This time around, players can play as both Sonic and his friend Tails. The first Sonic the Hedgehog was impactful, but the second game had improved stage variety.
Also, the Sega Genesis' Sonic the Hedgehog 2 supported competitive multiplayer, allowing players to choose between Sonic and Tails in an array of stages. The improvements seen in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 are why it is one of the best platformers of the '90s.
2 Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong's Quest
For having an awesome soundtrack and genuinely awesome gameplay, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong's Quest stands out as being one of the best platform games of the '90s.
In Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong's Quest, players play as Diddy Kong and Dixie Kong who try to rescue Diddy Kong's uncle, Donkey Kong. It was audacious for Nintendo to base a game on relatively unknown characters, but it seemed to work. Don't miss out on this spectacular '90s platformer; it still holds up by today's standards.
1 Super Mario 64
Super Mario 64 is an enigmatic video game that revolutionized video games as we know them. Levels are challenging without being overly confusing. For example, the map "Dry Dry Desert" has a pyramid with secrets and complexities, but the level design wasn't overly confusing. A map like "Tick Tock Clock" changed its pacing depending on the time you jumped into the level.
There is a wide range of skill levels between players that used to play the game. You can customize your play experience by completing objectives in several different ways. If there's one video game you should play on this Earth, it would have to be Super Mario 64. It's easy to say that Super Mario 64 is the best platform game of the '90s and, possibly, all time.