Making this 6 Best Platformers Without a Jump Button list was hard. Platformer design is pretty tried and true at this point: run, jump, don’t die on spikes. Even minimalist platformers like Cannabalt have a jump button. However, we scoured the world of both indie and AAA titles to find real games with real platforming action that don’t let you jump on command. These are the 6 Best Platformers Without a Jump Button.
Our first entry on our list of 6 Best Platformers Without a Jump Button, is on the list because it may be the first platformer ever created. Space Panic allowed you to climb, dig, and fall, but you couldn't jump. As was the case with many proto-platformers, half the challenge in this game was doing your best to not be trapped by your own actions.
Most really early proto-platformers didn't have a jump button because they didn't realize how useful it was. Instead they looked at games like Donkey Kong and thought that ladders were the key gameplay mechanic. That's how we got platformers like Burger Time, where you hobbled up and down ladders in order to step on gigantic burger ingredients while dodging mutant hot-dogs and eggs. Platformers were really weird back then.
Marble Madness was an incredible platformer in which the main purpose of the game was to fight against the controls. This may sound horrible, but seriously give it a try. Moving your marble over tiny ledges, hitting ramps just right, and making sure you aren't dissolved in puddles of acid is a ton of fun. Marble Madness also gets extra points for being a top down isometric platformer -- in addition to being a platformer without a jump button -- two incredibly rare genres!
Did you know that Donkey Kong was originally meant to be a Popeye game? Eventually it became its own IP and we got this Popeye game instead. Popeye had to use stairs and ladders to get around while Brutus, his long time arch rival, who actually could jump to take him out. Your goal was to always away from Brutus while collecting hearts from Olive Oil. You could also find cans of spinach which would give you the temporary ability to knock Brutus out, but the spinach never gave you the ability to jump.
VVVVVV was a 2D retro platformer that went beyond not having a jump button. It didn’t even have a jump. The only thing you could do in this game was invert gravity. Effectively, this meant that you could jump if you quickly inverted gravity and then inverted it back as long as you touched another surface, however that wasn’t really necessary for most of the game's puzzles. All you really had to do was avoid the spikes by flipping gravity at the right time… but that was easier said than done.
Finally, we have the #1 Best Platformer Without a Jump Button: Bionic Commando: Rearmed. A remake of Bionic Commando for the NES, Rearmed once again put you in the shoes of Rad Spencer. Spencer had to navigate his way across several platforms without the use of jumping. Rather, his only tool was his grappling hook arm. The puzzles and missions in rearmed were incredibly addicting and highly challenging, and they reinvigorated the Bionic Commando enough to eventually see him getting added to Marvel vs. Capcom 3 as a playable character.
next: 25 best 2d platformers