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The best platform games ever (that aren't Mario)

6. LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3)

Sackboy may be available on PS4 (with some amazingly cute friends), but it's his second PS3 adventure that remains the definitive LBP experience. The built-in levels are more imaginative than those of the original, and the joyous presentation not to mention Stephen Fry's lovable narration make just moving around this craft-themed world a pleasurable experience.

But it's the creation suite that really makes this indispensible. You can create regular levels, as you could in the first game, sure, but now you can actually make different genres of games. Yes, making games in a game. What a time to be alive.

5. Super Meat Boy (XBLA, PS4, Vita, PC)

Some games are built to reward skill. But few have such a sadistic slant, encouraging you to die a hundred times in preparation of nailing a level with a perfect run. In fact, it even celebrates your catalogue of failures, with an incredible, climactic cascade of replay Meat Boys all dying around that one, lone survivor.

All of this would be for nought if the game played badly, but Super Meat Boy's controls offer incredible precision. When you die, it is simply because you didn't perform well enough. Granted, the graphics are basic by today's standards, but that's because there needs to be no margin for error. A platform is a platform, a wall is a wall. This is ultra-purified platforming action and it's the meat in the sandwich that matters, not how prettily the bread is cut.

4. N+ (PSPS, DS, XBLA)

Proof (as if proof were needed) that it's the way a game plays and not how it looks that makes it either a great experience or an also-ran. N+ is all about momentum. It takes some getting used to, certainly, but the potential for perfect runs makes this a mouthwatering prospect for anyone with an eye on getting the best score.

It's mega-hardcore, too. A single wrong move and you're dead, forced to watch a chain reaction of explosion around the screens as pieces of debris (and you) fly around, detonating more explosives. It's this knife-edge of tension juxtaposed against the beauty of a clean run that makes N+ such a delight.

3. Super Metroid (SNES)

Metroid was pushing all the boundaries when it first released on NES back in 1986, but it was rougher than tree bark with a sore throat and a hangover. Yes, that is rough, you're right. But Super Metroid cemented that formulative er... formula so perfectly a few years later, it spawned two decades of imitators. The level design and control set are perfectly married, ensuring every area has something new to offer every time you learn a new ability.

The 16-bit visuals may look, shall we say, 'functional' by today's standards, but the music remains some of gaming's best and actual tunes are used brilliantly sparingly. Super Metroid is designed to give you a sense of melancholic isolation and it gets under your skin. The series translated into 3D perfectly with Metroid Prime, but while Prime is the better game, Super Metroid remains one of the best platformers ever made.

2. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (PS2)

Is PoP a platformer? Yes. Environmental traversal makes up so much of the game, and requires dexterity and quick-thinking to keep your character from a fall, just like Sonic or he-who-must-not-be-named. But if you do fall well there's PoP's best stuff.

Being able to rewind time is a brilliant concept and even though it was relatively new when Sands of Time came out, it was done in exemplary fashion. Indeed, play the game too much and you start reaching for the undo button in other games. And even real life. Hit by a bus? That's OK, just rewind time and oh yeah. Damn.

1. Rayman Legends (Multi)

Rayman Legends is simply the best platform game ever made that doesnt have Mario in its name. With sublime, intuitive controls that see you sprinting, sliding, wall-jumping, swimming and thwacking enemies into next week, this a joy to play and easy to pick up if you're a newbie. It works best on Wii U, which is no surprise considering it was designed to be exclusive to that console, before going multi-platform late in development. The HD art is beautiful, the minigames an absolute riot (Kung Foot is worth the asking price alone) and the level layouts are a masterclass in game design, with secrets everywhere and constant rewards for skilful play.

As if that wasn't enough, the multiplayer co-op is exceptional, combining the best of helpfulness and bastardry as you race each other to gather lums, cut a rope to send your mate down a hole to their death or, y'know, actually work together to 100% each level. It's massive too, even going so far as to include levels from Rayman Origins. It's impossible to be disappointed with this game. If you have any interest in platformers at all, you need to play this. Just as soon as you've played Super Ma...(snip!).

Justin worked on the GamesRadar+ staff for 10 whole years. Imagine that. Now he is a contributor, specialising in racing games, retro, and Sanic.