Top 25 best platformers for iPhone and iPad (iOS)
Updated on April 19, 2023 - re-checked the list.
"You can't play platformers on a mobile phone". Just one of the many things you used to hear all the time from snobby console types.
You don't hear it quite so much these days. Why is that? We've got 25 reasons why in the following article, and there are many, many more.
Those developers cracked the mobile platformer codes years ago. They figured out the sticky matter of touchscreen control and got to grips with the unique requirements of playing in short, sharp snippets.
But they also figured out that they don't have to be too beholden to the past. All of these games tip their hats to the platforming genre greats in some way or other, but many also dare to branch out in interesting new directions, or to embrace those smartphone attributes as a feature, not a bug.
It also helps that smartphone technology has come on leaps and bounds, with huge, sharp screens and powerful laptop-level processors. There aren't too many areas of compromise in these 25 games.
Have we left your favourite iOS platformer out? Let us know what you'd include in the comments section below. When you are done with this one, you can hop into the list of best platformers for Android!
Original article by Jon Mundy, updated by Artur Novichenko.
Traps n' Gemstones
A rare mobile-only metroidvania on the App Store. This one lets you explore a massive great pyramid as you unlock new tools, uncover secrets, and generally just get lost for hours. Fun!
Dead Cells is one of the greatest action platformers to be launched on any platform in recent years, so the fact that this slick roguelite is available right here on mobile in perfect form (provided you hook up a controller) is wonderful.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Alongside Super Metroid, this is the game that defined the Metroidvania genre. It's a brilliant, sprawling, ocean-deep action-platformer with absorbing RPG elements. Marvelous.
Shinsekai Into the Depths
Arguably lost among the vast initial batch of Apple Arcade games, Shinsekai: Into the Depths is a really quite stunning underwater Metroidvania that makes the environment your biggest enemy.
A Gunbrick is a square tank that rolls clumsily from side to side, using its oversized cannon to propel it to higher platforms as well as for taking out baddies. It's also the name of one of Nitrome's best ever games.
Super Mario Run
We never thought we'd see the day, but Nintendo has made a Mario game for mobile - and it's brilliant. Super Mario Run takes the one-button mechanic of your average endless runner and app
A truly top notch platformer made by some of the talent behind Rayman Legends, and beautifully inspired by the classic Journey to the West.
You generally want to avoid falling down holes in platformers, but Downwell turns it into a whole game. Shoot baddies with your gunboots whilst freefalling down a bottomless hole.
Super Fowlst 2
While it looks like a traditional platformer, Super Fowlst 2 really messes with the formula. You're essentially bouncing off thin air and into, rather than away from, enemies. It's great.
One of the most beautiful games on the App Store, Oddmar's viking-flavoured 2D platformer is a polished delight.
This spiritual successor to the marvellous Limbo goes even further with its spookily immersive world and engrossing platform-puzzler gameplay. Beautiful, strange and slightly icky.
A quite literally dizzying platform-puzzler that sees you messing with gravity to a degree and a sense of ingenuity that would make Christopher Nolan's head spin. And boy does it look stunning.
Run left, run right. Those are all the controls you need to worry about in this brutal bize-sized platformer, which takes N++ and Super Meat Boy and strips them back to the bare essentials.
You don't get many first person platformers - it's hard to get them right. And Hot Lava is a proper platformer, a game of fantasy online parkour with a delicious sense of inertia. Provide you use a controller, that is.
It is an exciting platform game with a retro pixel art style. The game has an endless amount of brilliantly designed levels, each with its secret locations, skins, and weapons. Upgrade your character and destroy your enemies in this fantastic game.
The closest thing to a Super Mario Maker for mobile, Levelhead is a startlingly well realised 2D platformer level creation and sharing tool - and a darned fun game to boot.
The latest in a series of super-slick auto-runners starring Ubisoft's limbless hero, made even slicker for its Apple Arcade debut. Smooth.
Super Fancy Pants Adventure
Don't let the sketchy graphics fool you - Super Fancy Pants Adventure is the real deal, largely thanks to its thrilling sense of weight and momentum.
Grimvalor takes the Dark Souls games as its major inspiration, with a dark fantasy world and crunchy bladed combat, but it owes just as much to the side-scrolling Metroidvania platformers of the 16-bit era.
This clever platform-puzzler has you controlling two characters simultaneously through a series of deliciously escalating challenges.
Super Cat Tales
Super Cat Tales looks an awful lot like the 16-bit platformers of the '90s, but its pared down controls and bite-sized levels are pure smartphone magic.
World's End Club
Another supremely polished Apple Arcade game that places the emphasis on story and character over head-bopping kicks. Think of World's End Club as a simplified side-scrolling adventure game with bags of anime-inflected charm.
There aren't many 3D platformers on iOS, but Suzy Cube is like a little slice of Mario 64 (or rather Super Mario 3D Land) right here on your mobile.
Little Orpheus is a deeply cinematic platformer that places far more emphasis on story than most games of its kind. Guide your little cosmonaut through a series of flights of fancy.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap
A wonderful reinvention of the classic adventure-platformer, with beautiful hand-drawn graphics and an orchestral soundtrack. Yes, it's a port with non-optimal virtual controls, but the underlying game is fabulous.