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Ranking The 10 Best Side-Scrolling Games Of The 2010s

Although Metroidvania and side-scrolling games bear similarities, and a game can be both, there is a distinct difference between the two. Metroidvania is a subclass of video games that refers to action-adventure games similar to Metroid and Castlevania. On the other hand, side-scrolling games refer to games from any genre that play horizontally and have a camera view from the side angle.

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Side-scrolling games are practically the definition of a video game. Solving puzzles, conquering bosses, and navigating through levels are why we love side-scrolling games in the first place. This is ranking the 10 best side-scrolling games of the 2010s.

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10 Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze

As a sequel to smash-hits like Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze stands as one of the greatest side-scrolling games of our time.

Its integration of couch co-op makes is a bonus to the already enjoyable campaign of Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze. As a result of the games wide acclaim on the Wii U, it was re-released for the Nintendo Switch. The Nintendo Switch version has higher resolution, shorter load times, and the option to play in portable mode.

9 Ori and the Blind Forest

This side-scroller surprised us when it released in 2015. In Ori and the Blind Forest, players must save the forest from a catastrophic event. After being revived by the Spirit Tree, Sein puts Ori on a path to save the forest by obtaining the elements: water, warmth, and winds.

It's not surprising that a sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest is scheduled to release in 2020. The sequel will be called "Ori and the Will of the Wisps," and it will only be available on Xbox and Microsoft Windows. So far, the gameplay trailers for Ori and the Will of the Wisps looks promising, and we couldn't be more ecstatic.

8 Shovel Knight

When we think of Shovel Knight, we get a sense of a game that is from the Super Nintendo era of video games, but with a higher resolution and more detail. Shovel Knight is a 2D side-scroller that is reminiscent of games from the '80s and '90s but is much more fluid with a dynamic camera and advanced gameplay mechanics.

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Naturally, the game is very difficult for novice and experienced gamers. Stay persistent, however, and you can finish Shovel Knight in about seven hours.

7 Rayman Legends

A lot of people are getting a chance to play Rayman Legends now that it is a game for the Nintendo Switch. Rayman Legends is considered by many to be the strongest entry in the series. Its level variety and platforming are incomparable to other side-scrolling games.

Rayman Legends is for casual gamers who won't have a problem picking the game up and replaying old levels even after they've beaten the game. With over 100 playable maps in 4 players local co-op, there is a ton of value to warrant the purchase.

6 Metroid: Samus Returns

Metroid: Samus Returns is an enigmatic remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus for the Nintendo 3DS. Had Nintendo decided to remake Super Metroid, this game would likely be the best in this list. Even though it isn't Super Metroid, the changes put into Metroid: Samus Returns make it exceptional.

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Due to how inspirational The Metroid series is, it is partly credited for the creation of a new genre called "Metroidvania." Metroidvania games consist of games that are similar to the two-dimensional Metroid and Castlevania games.

5 Sonic Mania

When we think of Sonic Mania, we think of what Sonic's best developers would dream to put into a new Sonic game. As a side-scroller, Sonic the Hedgehog is put into an almost perpetual motion until he reaches the end. It combines the best elements from previous Sonic games to make a truly sensational experience.

Playing with memorable Sonic characters and on maps that took inspiration from levels like Green Hill Zone, Chemical Plant Zone, Oil Ocean Zone, and brand new levels is why we love Sonic Mania. Many would consider Sonic Mania to be the best Sonic the Hedgehog game to date.

4 Dead Cells

Dead Cells is a must-play Metroidvania that had a wide release across most current platforms. One aspect that will deter players is the fact that Dead Cells forces players to restart when they die. Being able to save progress would have been a nice feature, but that won't stop many people from enjoying Dead Cells anyways.

Putting its flaws aside, Dead Cells is a smart side-scroller that allows players to customize their experience by paving their own path. The amount of secrets to uncover gives the game immense replay value.

3 Super Mario Maker 2

The new Super Mario Maker 2 listened to the requests of fans of the first game by adding a story-mode campaign with over 100 built-in courses. Building levels in advanced ways using new tools and parts is why Super Mario Maker 2 is a substantial improvement on the first Super Mario Maker.

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You can even play couch co-op to build with family and friends. The amount of courses that can be downloaded through Nintendo Switch Online's Course World gives Super Mario Maker 2 tremendous replay value.

2 Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight is a 2D side-scroller, and there are a plethora of reasons to explain why it's one of the strongest entries on this list. Hollow Knight's level designs are smart and beautiful. Being able to use a map (a feature rarely seen in a side-scroller) adds to the enjoyability of Hollow Knight.

The game has aspects that are comparable to From Software's Dark Souls. Traversing through foliage and other environments is a joy in Hollow Knight. This indie game created by Team Cherry deserves recognition as a quality side-scroller.

1 Cuphead

Cuphead's design was largely inspired by classic animated television series from the 30s, 40s, and 50s. The artwork of Cuphead goes above and beyond and is truly inspirational. Although it looks like it should be a cakewalk, Cuphead is challenging for the most seasoned gamers. Fighting enemies like ghouls, flowers, and a giant onion make Cuphead a sensational wild ride.

The game is humorous but can also be downright terrifying. It's always a surprise with Cuphead, and you won't be disappointed if you buy this game.

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