Metroid: Samus Returns: The return of the 2D side-scrolling platformer

Owen Hughes runs down the best 2D scrollers...

Ever read Edwin A. Abbott’s Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions? In it, the protagonist is a two-dimensional square (known as A Square) who enters the worlds of one-dimensional and three-dimensional beings.

“I call our world Flatland, not because we call it so, but to make its nature clearer to you, my happy readers, who are privileged to live in Space.”

We privileged creatures of the third dimension have marvelled at the world of 2D ever since its heyday in the 1980’s and early 90’s where the side-scrolling platformer was king. Body-shaming an Italian plumber by forcing him to eat magic mushrooms so he would no longer be short on his quest to save a princess from a turtle seemed like the pinnacle of gaming for generations of players.

As consoles became more sophisticated with the arrival of the fifth generation and the likes of the Sony Playstation, Nintendo 64 and Sega Saturn, the side-scroller seemed antiquated and purely nostalgic. Have you even seen the graphics of Croc: Legend of the Gobbos, man? Exactly.

Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Banjo Kazooie and even ol’ Mario himself with his own much-loved N64 classic put to bed the notion of old school platformers ever being relevant again. Right?

Well, maybe. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t good (and even many great) ones still out there. Not least of all with the release of Metroid: Samus Returns for Nintendo 3DS this past week, the much-anticipated remake of Gameboy’s Metroid II. After the brilliant first-person Metroid Prime series for Gamecube and Nintendo Wii, Metroid: Samus Returns sees the galactic bounty hunter go back to her side-scrolling origins. And it’s not just Samus Aran who is back in Flatland, with Sonic Mania and Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap both joining her too over the past year.

Here are a few of Set The Tape‘s other favourite modern 2D platformers.

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