The Most Unique Gameplay Mechanics In Platforming Games

The platforming genre has been around for the better part of three decades, covering almost every single console that has been released. From 2D platformers to 3D platformers, and everything in between, the genre is both chock full of great games as well as consistently innovative. Platforming games, by nature, are pretty easy to pick up and play, mostly because the aim of the game is to run and jump your way through myriad stages.

While there are plenty of "by the books" platforming games, there are also dozens upon dozens that eschew traditional platforming mechanics in favor of pure creativity. They may include the basics of jumping, double jumping, and collecting all manner of items, however, there are some that find ways to bring a creative twist to the genre as a whole. Here are some of the most creative platforming games that offer you some unique mechanics.

8 Slithering Around – Snake Pass

Snake Pass is a truly one-of-a-kind platforming experience, one that doesn't have any "traditional" platforming movement mechanics. Instead of jumping and running, you must maneuver your snake around like snakes do, slithering, sliding, and coiling around objects.

Snake Pass is truly unique in that you must navigate your way through each highly interactive stage, collecting items, and reaching the goal point without ever jumping once. It's a tough game to get to grips with, mostly down to the bizarre controls. However, once you get into a snake-like rhythm, it's an utterly fun and endearing game.

7 Swinging Like Crazy – Crumble

You likely haven't heard about Crumble. This small indie platforming game isn't really discussed in the platforming discourse, something that is quite unfortunate given how fun and creative the game is. In Crumble, you play as a sentient blue ball who uses his tongue to grab onto various surfaces.

The blob-like hero of Crumble is able to roll across each stage, jumping when necessary, but ultimately relying on his sticky tongue to grapple and glide across the vast platforming expanses. There is something thrilling about the pure sense of speed and momentum in this game.

6 Vines And Flowers – The Gardener And The Wild Vines

Another criminally underrate and overlooked indie game, The Gardener and the Wild Vines takes the platforming genre and throws in some garden shears and vine-based platforming action. In this wholesome game, you play as the titular Gardener as he searches for his one true love, namely, the Prince.

The platforming game here is based on ascending medieval towers, castles, and structures via cutting through flowers and vines. Each cut of a vine or flower gives the Gardener a new platform and a new way to ascent the various towers set across a beautiful fantasy land. Timing, precision, and speed are highly important aspects of the creative platforming this game offers.

5 Cappy – Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey likely needs no introduction given that it's a Nintendo Switch platforming juggernaut. Apart from the creative, open stage designs, the quirky characters, and the gorgeous presentation, it's the fantastic capture mechanic that sells this game.

Mario's companion in this game is Cappy, a sentient hat that gives Mario the "unique" power of capturing his foes. Each new world offers new ways for Mario to capture his foes in order to use their powers to his advantage. It's a mind-boggling mechanic and often feels quite harrowing when you stop to think about how it actually works. However, you can't deny it makes for a fun and creative platforming experience.

4 Playing As A Glove – Glover

Glover, the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation 1 era 3D platforming game is nothing if not bonkers. Glover tasks you with playing as a large glove, one that must guide a colorful ball across a multitude of stages. If that premise alone doesn't at least intrigue you then it's hard to know what will.

While Glover isn't exactly renowned for its gameplay, often coming across as tedious and repetitive, it's hard to argue with its pure ingenuity. The sheer idea of playing as a giant glove who can ride atop a ball is something straight out of the 90s. It's bonkers and fun in equal measures.

3 Pinball Shenanigans – Yoku's Island Express

Yoku's Island Express is a remarkable platforming adventure game that mixes in a hefty and enjoyable dose of Metroidvania goodness. Yoku's Island Express has you play as a humble dung beetle who must deliver the mail to the residents of the tropical island paradise he finds himself at.

The unique and creative platforming mechanics in this game come in the form of how you move through large parts of the game, specifically, via pinball sections. While you can roll and hop through certain parts of the island, the majority of the exploration has you guide Yoku through pinball gameplay sections. It's so darn charming and fun and will likely keep you hooked for the entirety of the game. Here's hoping the game receives a sequel one day.

2 Using Your Hats – A Hat In Time

A Hat in Time is a mostly iterative and simple 3D platforming game, however, dig a bit deeper and you get to the real heart of the game. The gameplay here is all about Hat Kid's various hats. While the title of the game might give that away, it's an utterly enjoyable part of this unique love letter to all things 3D platforming.

Hat Kid heads off, pun very much intended, through various worlds such as Mafia Town and Subcon Forest while equipping various hats. These hats are not just for looks since they give her powers such as riding a scooter, freezing in place like a literal ice sculpture, plus many other abilities. If you missed out on A Hat in Time then you owe it to yourself to see how the hats in this game up the creative ante for the genre as a whole.

1 Arts And Crafts – Kirby's Epic Yarn

Kirby's Epic Yarn might just be one of the most wholesome and charming platforming games ever. Hyperbole aside, this game provides a deep and nuanced 2D platforming experience. The world you explore as the pink blob is quite literally crafted and stitched together via yarn, as well as a host of other crafting materials.

While much of this yarn-heavy presentation is for presentational purposes, Kirby does get to swing from yarn, transform into new yarn characters, and even unravel parts of the stage in hopes of finding secrets and hidden goodies.

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