Top Free Platformer Games for the PC

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Top Free Platformer Games for the PC

Boy playing PC game
Junophoto/Getty Images

While it's true that many of the best platformers never seem to make it over to the PC, there are plenty of original homebrew and classic remakes that show the genre does have a life on the PC. The list of top platformers for the PC that follows details just a few of my favorites.

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1. Cave Story

Cave Story - Free PC Game
Cave Story - Free PC Game.

Cave Story is an additive and completely original free side-scrolling platformer game released in 2004 for the PC and developed by Japanese developer Daisuke Amaya (aka Pixel) and translated into English. The gameplay is a combination of your favorite platformer games from such as Metroid, Castlevania, MegaMan and more. In it, players control the character either through the use of keyboard or gamepad and they progress through various levels as they try to escape a cave within a floating island.

Since its release, the game has been ported to the Nintendo Wii, DSi, 3DS, OSx and Linux operating systems. There was also an enhanced PC version released titled Cave Story+ which is a commercial game available for purchase through Steam. This version contains all the game modes that were included in the WiiWare port. Cave Story 3D is another version of the game that was also released which is a 3D version of the game for the Nintendo 3DS version. The original free version of Cave Story is still readily available for free download.

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2. Spelunky

Spelunky
Spelunky.

Spelunky is a free action adventure platform game for the PC that was released in 2009. In it players take on the role of a cave explorer or spelunker as they wind their way through the dark, underground caverns collecting treasures, encountering enemies and rescuing damsels in distress along the way. Players are equipped with a whip and can find a wide array of items throughout the caves, including ropes, bombs, guns and other special equipment and artifacts.

Spelunky features a total of 16 cave levels in 4 different areas. The freeware version of the game has been renamed to Spelunky Classic and a commercial/retail version of the game has been released named Spelunky HD, it includes a special bonus area not found in the free version.

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3. You Have to Win the Game

You Have To Win The Game Free PC Game
You Have To Win The Game Free PC Game.

You have to Win the Game is an exploration platformer that is available for free download for Windows, Mac and Linux-based PCs. Released in 2012 the game features an option to display the game in nostalgic four color CGA graphics with old time PC speaker sounds or you can go high-tech with beautiful 16 color EGA graphics. The gameplay is very addictive and both the 4 and 16 color modes look fantastic. Players will run and jump through the ruins of a lost world avoiding enemies and traps as they search for treasure and ancient artifacts. The game is available for free download through Steam or directly through the developer's website.

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4. Super Mario 3: Mario Forever

Super Mario 3: Mario Forever
Super Mario 3: Mario Forever.

Super Mario 3 Mario Forever is a PC remake of the original Nintendo Entertainment System classic platformer game. There are dozens of Super Mario remakes out there and this one is easily the best that I've seen. Graphics and gameplay are top-notch and virtually identical to the original. The game is also updated fairly regularly and a recent update was released in March 2015. If you're looking for more Mario fun then you'll want to give this one a try.

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5. Eternum

Eternum - Free PC Game
Eternum - Free PC Game - Sir Artur on a quest in the sequel to the Ghosts' n Goblins series.

Eternum is a free plaformer game that is inspired by the classic Ghosts 'n Goblins series of arcade games from the 1980s. There are two main games in the Ghosts 'n Goblins arcade series, Ghosts 'n Goblins and Ghouls 'n Goblins, Eternum is set after the events of these games. Sir Arthur is now old and sets out on one final quest into the underground world of Samarnath in search of eternal youth. Eternum was released in 2015 and is a worthy tribute to the series with all the classic 16-bit graphics and gameplay that made the arcade games popular. It contains 25 levels each offering different enemies and boss fights.

The game is controls using either the keyboard arrow keys but it is also compatible with many PC gamepads. The game is completely free to download and play from the developer's website Radin Games

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6. Bio Menace

Bio Menace - Free PC Game
Bio Menace - Free PC Game. © 3D Realms

Originally released in 1993 Bio Menace is a side-scrolling platformer action game in which you take on the role of CIA agent, Snake Logan. Mutants have overrun Metro City and it's your job to destroy and find the source of these mutants. The game features old EGA graphics that look good for when the game was developed, it also utilizes an early game engine designed by Id Software. The game was developed by Apogee Software and released as a commercial/retail game, it was released as freeware back in 2005.

Bio Menace contains plenty of levels, power-ups, and mutants to keep you busy in this action filled game. it has more than 30 enemies to fight and uses a fairly basic control system of the four keyboard arrow keys. The game also does include some limited support for PC gamepads.

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7. Icy Tower

Icy Tower - Free PC Game
Icy Tower - Free PC Game. © Free Lunch Design

Icy Tower is probably one of the most addictive games I've ever played. The arcade style platformer game has a fairly simple objective; jump from one floor to the next for as many points as possible. Bonus points are awarded when Harold the Homeboy skips one or more floors with a combo jump that include bouncing off the walls and flips. The more consecutive combo jumps you perform the more bonus points you'll be awarded. After it's all done, save your game and upload it to the fan site to see how you compare with the rest of the world.

Icy Tower was developed game designer Johan Peitz and his company Free Lunch Design back in 2001. It proved extremely popular and has been downloaded millions of times since its release. The game has also been enhanced over the years to include a browser-based version, mobile versions as well as sequels of Icy Tower 2, Icy Tower 2: Zombie Jump, and Icy Tower 2: Temple Jump. These later versions all include the same basic gameplay concept but also feature in-app purchases and updated graphics.

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8. N

N - Free PC Game
N - The Way of the Ninja Screenshot.

N is a slick looking (and award winning) side scrolling free platormer game released in 2005 that was been inspired by Lode Runner game that was released in 1983 by Broderbund. In N, players control a ninja as they explore various levels, each level contains platforms, springs, curved walls and obstacles which players use to make their way through the door to the next level, all the while trying to collect as much gold as possible. Movement is fairly simple using the four arrow keys but it can be made more complex by combining them on the different terrain on each level.

As of this writing, the latest version of N (v2.0) features 100 episodes each of which includes 5 levels for a total of 500 different screens/levels. 50 of these levels are user created levels that were selected by the game's developer Metanet. The game is also regularly updated and the next version N 2.1 is currently in development.

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9. The Desolate Hope

The Desolate Hope Screenshot
The Desolate Hope Free PC Game Screenshot.

The Desolate Hope is a free game for the PC available through Steam digital distribution platform that mixes a number of different gameplay mechanics including traditional platformer and top-down dungeon crawl. Set on an unknown planet in an unmanned station there sits four huge computers know as Derelicts, running various simulations if and when Earth becomes uninhabitable. In the game, players control a robot named Coffee, who is technically a walking and talking coffee maker with a mind of its own as he tries to keep the station and Derelicts running smoothly.

The gameplay is a mix of styles with four simulations, one on each Derelict, that play as a platform game. These games then have sub-games which include arcade style games such as an 8-bit overhead dungeon crawler. Each level/area is completed with a boss fight against a virus. The game completely free to play and download through Steam.

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10. The Expendabros

The Expendabros Free PC Game Screenshot
The Expendabros Free PC Game Screenshot.

The Expendabros is a crossover game that features the game play of Broforce with characters from The Expendables 3 film. It was released in Augus 2014 with a planned limited free release through the end of 2014, but as of July 2015 it is still available for free. The game features ten missions that include a multitude of enemy soldiers and traps as you play as one of seven soldiers from The Expendables. The main objective is to take down notorious arms dealer Conrad Stonebanks in Eastern Europe. Each character in The Expendabros have unique attacks and abilities and the game includes a single campaign mode that can be played in local co-operative mode with up to four players.

The game is only available for play through Steam.

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11. Super Mario XP

Super Mario XP
Super Mario XP.

Super Mario XP is a fan-made freeware Super Mario-based game that was developed by CnC Darkside in 2003. It combines gameplay elements from the original Super Mario Games with some from Castlevania. The main characters available to play are the classic Super Mario characters but the eight levels feature new and unique boss fights. The Castlevania-like features included in Super Mario XP include weapons such hammers and boomerangs, which is not something featured in the original Super Mario Bros games. Super Mario XP is available for download from various sites detailed on the game page

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12. Stick Soldiers 1 & 2

Stick Soldiers 2 Screenshot
Stick Soldiers 2 Screenshot.

Stick Soldiers is a series of free platfmer games for the PC that feature sidescrolling deathmatch gameplay. There are two games in the series in which players control a pencil like drawn stick soldier as they blast their way around levels firing a wide array of weapons to kill other stick soldiers. The primary objective is to meet a pre-determined kill number. The first Stick Soldiers was extremely popular and a sequel, Stick Soldiers 2 was released. Stick Soldiers 2 expands upon Stick Soldiers 1 with animated movement, more weaponry and a full editor which allows for fan-made content.

There was a Stick Soldiers 3 planned for release but this was ultimately canceled in 2007. Both SS1 and SS2 games are available for free download and do offer slightly different mechanics making them both worth trying out to see which one you may favor.

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13. Jetpack

Jetpack Free PC Game
Jetpack Free PC Game.

Jetpack is a free platformer game for the PC that was originally released in 1993 under the shareware model. It has since been released as freeware and is one of the most popular "old school" free platform games available for the PC. In the game, players fly their character around using jetpacks to collect green emeralds that are scattered throughout each of the levels. Once all of the emeralds have been collected advancement to the next level is possible. While the objective seems simple enough, it's not quite that easy as there are obstacles and challenges that stand in your way.

The game includes a number of power up and special items/abilities such as a phase shifter that allows you to pass through some walls. Jetpacks will also run out of fuel so it's vital for players to collect fuel whenever possible. In addition to the basic single player mode, there is also a local multiplayer mode with support for up to eight players on the same PC.

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14. Happyland Adventures

Happyland Adventures Free PC Game
Happyland Adventures Free PC Game.

Happy Land Adventures is a 2D side scrolling platformer game from Free Lunch Design, the same developers of Icy Tower. In Happyland Adventures players control a dog who will explore numerous levels jumping over pits, collecting hearts and fruit, and recruiting some companions along the way who will follow you. Free Lunch Design was recently acquired by another company so the status of their games including Happyland Adventures is not yet known, but there are a number of third party websites that offer the freeware version of this game for download. Be sure to take a look at the Happyland Adventures game page for more info.

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