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The 10 Best Side-Scrolling Games Of All Time, According To Ranker

Much-awaited titles like OXENFREE II: Lost Signals and Hollow Knight: Silksong are proof that side-scrolling games remain a popular genre. These games, popularized in the early years of video games, are characterized by the side-view camera angle and scrolling graphics, and the influence of the earlier hits in the genre continues to influence games today.

On the website Ranker, users have voted and chosen the best side-scrolling titles in video game history. Unsurprisingly, most of the site’s gamers have shown their support for older, classic titles that still hold up well today despite their age.

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10 Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers


Art For Super Street Fighter II The New Challengers

The Street Fighter franchise has spawned many iconic characters, including Ryu, Chun-Li, and Zangief. Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers feature many of the beloved World Warriors and exciting combat gameplay that its predecessors had. It also introduced new characters that would make more appearances in the franchise such as T.Hawk, Fei Long, and Cammy.

The arcade game was ported to home consoles like the Sega Genesis and SNES. It was received warmly by critics for its diverse cast of playable characters and exciting combat mechanics.


9 Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island


Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island

The Super Mario World series is known for its exciting lineup of 2D sidescrolling games. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, serves as a prequel to Super Mario World and follows Yoshi as he transports Baby Mario and rescues Baby Luigi from the forces of Baby Bowser.

The art for Super Mario World: Yoshi’s Island stands out among other Yoshi games as it uses the Super FX2 graphics chip instead of pre-rendered graphics. The game continues to gain fans as it’s available to play for players who have access to Nintendo Switch Online.


8 Ninja Gaiden


Ryu Hayabusa rises from a flaming city in Ninja Gaiden.

Ninja Gaiden was originally released by Tecmo as a coin-operated arcade video game in 1988, and then later ported to the home console NES to make it more accessible for gamers. The game follows a ninja who is on a mission to defeat an evil cult in order to prevent the world from ending.

The side-scrolling game allows for two players to beat up enemies alongside each other. Ninja Gaiden is commercially and critically successful due to its vibrant animation, fast-paced gameplay, and interactive backgrounds.


7 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time


Turtles in Time arcade game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The arcade game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time is a beat ’em up sidescroller based on the classic animated TV series. In the game, players assume control of anthropomorphic turtles, Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael, all of whom are trained in the art of ninjutsu.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time is considered one of the best classic games from developer Konami as it is a step above its predecessor by improving its music, gameplay, and graphics.


6 Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night


An image of the player fighting a gargoyle like creature in Castlevania Symphony of the Night

The Castlevania series is known for its excellent platforming sequences and enthralling narrative. The 1997 entry in the series, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, took the franchise in a new direction by introducing RPG elements and non-linear exploration mechanics.

Some of the beloved main characters in the Castlevania franchise also make an appearance in the game, including Dracula’s son Alucard and vampire hunter Richter Belmont. While the game didn’t make a splash during its release, it eventually gained a cult following due to its inventive gameplay, stunning visuals, and memorable soundtrack.


5 Mega Man X


Mega Man X box art featuring the titular hero fighting Launch Octopus.

After a successful series of games for the NES, Capcom continues Mega Man’s story for the SNES in Mega Man X. The game follows the titular character and his partner Zero as they go on a mission to take down a fellow android who has plans of destroying the human race.

Retaining the side-scrolling elements from its predecessors on the NES, critics note that Mega Man X has successfully reinvented the series by adopting a more mature storyline and improving the gameplay mechanics.


4 Super Mario Bros.


Super Mario Bros. game still from the NES.

Super Mario Bros. is the sequel to the successful 1983 Nintendo arcade game Mario Bros. In the game, the titular character and his brother Luigi are on a mission to save Princess Toadstool from the grips of King Koopa.

Super Mario Bros. is an instant hit with gamers due to the various and diverse side-scrolling stages that featured various traps and enemies like the Bullet Bills, Koopa Troopas, and Little Goombas. Gamers today are still able to enjoy the classic side-scroller as it is a part of Nintendo Switch Online’s retro library.




3 Super Mario Bros. 3


Super Mario Bros. 3 doesn’t divert a lot from its predecessors. In the game, players are still tasked with saving Princess Toadstool using either Mario or Luigi. Being released on the NES, Super Mario Bros. 3 does have a better level design, improved graphics, and superior replayability.

Some gamers found the game to be impossible to put down as it tested their brains and reflexes in challenging platforming stages. Because the 2D side-scrolling platforming is still beloved by gamers today, some consider Super Mario Bros. 3 to be one of the best games Nintendo has ever made.


2 Donkey Kong Country


Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong dangle from a rope in Donkey Kong Country.

Donkey Kong is one of the most popular characters from game developer Nintendo. In 1994, Nintendo rebooted the Donkey Kong franchise and released Donkey Kong Country for the SNES. The stars of the game are the titular gorilla and his nephew Diddy Kong.

The main objective of the side-scrolling game is to take back the stolen bananas that the crocodile king has stolen. Donkey Kong Country is a great game to play with family and friends as it also boasts a multiplayer mode where players can either race each other or work together to defeat the crocodile king.


1 Super Metroid


super metroid cover

The 1994 game Super Metroid has influenced a whole genre and a slew of modern games. The side-scrolling platformer is known for its innovative graphics, incredible weapon and tool design, challenging platforming sequences, and moving story.

In the game, players assume control of an intergalactic bounty hunter who needs to recover a Metroid from a space pirate. Super Metroid has received critical acclaim and commercial success, due in part to its immersive and enjoyable content that allowed for immense replayability.

NEXT: 10 Best Platformers That Aren’t Mario Games, Ranked By Metacritic

Split image of a ghost from The Haunted Mansion and Leon Kennedy from Resident Evil 4


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