2D platformer games are not the latest cutting-edge technology in graphics design. They have been around since the 1970s with the introduction of the Magnavox Odyssey. Even the very first mobile game was an iteration of the popular Tetris by EA. The ease of development and rich history ensure the popularity of two-dimensional games even to date. Thus, it is very common that Android, the most popular operating system today, has many 2D games anyone can enjoy. Any developer can contribute games to the Google Play Store, the leading apps and games vendor on Android. This brings about variety and innovations even into the realm of 2D gaming. Thousands of 2D video games have been released on the Play Store for Android to date, and we’ll list the very best in the list below.
The Mario series is one of the most successful and popular video game series in the entire history of gaming. It was introduced in 1981 with the Donkey Kong video game and then launched on Android and iOS as Super Mario Run. It was developed and published by Nintendo in 2016. Part of the game is completely free, while some courses require money to try. That isn’t to say there aren’t a lot of free courses with a simple underlying story for players to enjoy. This keeps gamers playing and makes every moment spent a delightful experience.
Nintendo has developed Super Mario Run to be the best version of Mario on smartphones. Mario sprints and vaults over small obstacles automatically. Players are required to jump over bigger obstacles and ditches voluntarily. This is acceptable for a portrait game that must be played using a single hand. Overall, Mario Run has and will be the best 2D game to ever be released on Android, as it represents a culmination of over 30 years worth of development.
LIMBO is a unique game, piece of art, even, among the leading best 2D Android games. It follows an unnamed boy who searches dark and dangerous landscapes for his sister. The game has a very deep meaning and core, and the developers emphasize that. Developer Playdead baked in a hit-and-trial method into the gameplay. This requires the players to try all the given paths before searching for the correct way out. Oftentimes, this involves dying multiple times within a matter of a couple of minutes. LIMBO was praised for its dark and creepy aesthetics and innovative gameplay. The game was released on Android in 2015 and will run on pretty much every Android smartphone out there. However, the game isn’t free; it costs $4.99 on Google Play. Overall, the title will keep you engaged for hours and is a hot recommendation.
3. Blackmoor 2
Blackmoor 2 is a mixture of several genres. It is a 2D platformer at heart but simultaneously mixes elements from beat-’em-up and arcade action games. It launched in 2018, and the base version of the game is free. Keep in mind there are a lot of in-app purchases but none of them are too expensive. The game also comes with an interesting but simple story. There are numerous boss fights and plenty of action happens to keep the players engaged. Players can also create their dungeons, and such custom-created dungeons can be shared online within the Blackmoor 2 community. All of these features make this game a must-try. Along with these, the game also comes with a fun PvP (Player vs. Player) and a co-op mode.
Levelhead is a distinct but great entry into the 2D platformer genre, making it one of the most beloved games in quite some time. The game’s idea is very simple. The player assumes the role of a delivery robot and is tasked with training the machine to deliver packages. The game also comes with an included campaign mode with several levels. Players also can speed run the game, mainly because it runs at 60 fps on any decent device. However, the feature that makes the game interesting is its level creator.
Players can create their levels, but also download and play levels created by other players. This enhances the lifetime of this game i.e., boosts replayability, and adds a factor of interest to it. However, there is a catch – the game isn’t free and costs $6.99 on Google Play. Thankfully, this mobile title is also available with the Google Play Pass. In conclusion, the price factor shouldn’t scare you away, as the game will be a treat to any platformer fan.
Shadow Fight 2 is undoubtedly the best entry in the series developed by Russian but Cyprus-based developers, Nekki. The game is the last in the series to maintain the flavor the predecessor started with. Shadow Fight 2 adds shadow abilities and introduces 3D characters. Those are great, but this creative decision takes away the nostalgia and feels from the series. Shadow Fight uses the old character style of silhouettes. The gameplay is solid and represents an awesome mix of beat-’em-up and RPG mechanics. Players invest hundreds of hours in this game, and there are lots of levels and boss fights to pass. The game also comes with in-app purchases, but none of them are crazily priced. It is highly rated in Google Play and the Apple App Store, and we wholeheartedly recommend it to any smartphone user.
6. SEGA Forever Games
SEGA Forever Games is not a single game. Instead, it’s a collection of several old SEGA games that launched on the eponymous consoles in the past. You could call it a console port, even. Some of a plethora of included games include Kid Chameleon, Sonic the Hedgehog, Gunstar Heroes, and Ristar Classic. All games have changes that make them distinct compared to originals. For instance, while free to play, the games come with advertisements, meaning you must pay $1.99 to remove the ads. SEGA also sells some newer Sonic games like Sonic 4 and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for money. There are no free-to-play versions of these games. SEGA Forever Games is a great way to stock up on some classics without paying a premium and buying the original consoles and games.
7. Dead Cells
Dead Cells is a title from a genre whose days are over. It is described as a “roguelike” game with a resemblance to “Metroidvania” in its gameplay. Metroidvania is a sub-genre of action-adventure, and the name has been borrowed from two genre-defining titles: Metroid and Castlevania. Throughout the game, players control a mass of cells that take over a dead prisoner’s body. Players collect weapons, abilities, power-ups, skins, and money. The combat feels alright, the game is filled with features like teleportation, and, perhaps most notably, mixes RPG elements in the form of character customization.
Dead Cells focuses more on gameplay. The story, although present, is a very basic thread connecting the gameplay aspects. The game costs $8.99 on both Google Play and Apple App Store and is gratis with a Google Play Pass subscription. It also comes with some in-app purchases of $3.99 per item. Overall, this game is a solid take on a retro genre and has our honest recommendation.
The Shadow Fight series is one of the best in the mobile gaming scenario. Nekki has developed several superb games that players can enjoy. The rather unique beat-’em-up approach towards gameplay makes the game playable on smartphones with weak hardware as well. Shadow Fight 3 packs better graphics, shadow capabilities, and a more complex story compared to its predecessors. Shadow Fight 3 was released in 2017, and, although it isn’t truly 2D as the characters are complete 3D models, it retains the 2D feel of its forerunners. The game was critically acclaimed at the time of release, and we advise anyone to give it a try.
Terraria is a 2D sandbox and exploration-adventure video game developed by Re-Logic and published by 505 Games for Android and iOS in 2013. It sports 16-bit graphics like in the SNES days, and the gameplay style resembles that of the Metroid series and Minecraft. Terraria focuses on exploration as it puts players in a procedurally generated two-dimensional world with very little health and mana. They then can collect upgrade items, defeat other creatures and bosses, and build their structures. The game was critically acclaimed for its sandbox approach and tools, and the extensive scope of modification makes the game even more fun. It costs $4.99 on both Google Play and the Apple App Store and is available for free with a Google Play Pass subscription.
Teslagrad is a side-scrolling puzzle-solving game developed by Rain Games. It was released in 2013 and critically praised for its nostalgic music, brain-bending puzzles, and hand-drawn artwork. Players must use magnetic and electromagnetic powers to get through a steampunk-inspired version of 19th century Europe in a city called Teslagrad. The name is derived from the name of the great inventor, Nikola Tesla, and the Slavic word grad which means “city”. Players control a small boy who runs away after his family is caught by the king’s guards and ends up in the mystical Tesla Tower, where he finds the roots of the conflict and the king’s tyranny, The game costs $6.99 on both Google Play and the Apple App Store and is also available on the house through the Google Play Pass subscription.
11. Flappy Bird
Flappy Bird became a phenomenon when it launched in 2013. It is a remarkably simple but hard and addictive game. It became so intoxicating that its creator, Dong Nguyen, took the game down from Google Play and App Store in 2014. However, the game is still playable for free through the URL: “www.flappybird.io”, which allows players to log in. The title still maintains the original feel of the game, and players can tap the screen on a phone to navigate Faby.
Also, while players can submit their scores to compete against others, Flappy Bird is an equally awesome way to kill some time. However, if you spend a lot of time in it, it will become extremely addicting. Several players have reported it began to take over their lives when it was available on the aforementioned mobile application distribution services.
Oddmar is a 2D platformer based on Viking lore. It portrays the character of Oddmar as he struggles with his village life. The title is animated in the form of a motion comic, and the presence of an underlying story further enhances the time you spend playing it. Oddmar mixes elements of both platformer and physics-based puzzling solving games. It has bagged a respectable 4.8 stars rating in the Apple App Store and 4.5 stars in Google Play. Unlike the iOS version which asks you to pay straight away, the first level is free to play in the Android one. Furthermore, the game isn’t priced heavily – you can get access to the full version for just $4.99.
PewDiePie: Legend of the Brofist is a game based on the YouTuber’s life and follows a narrative based around his daily life. It is a 2D side-scroller with strong action-adventure and platformer aspects. The entire game is woven together by a strong story that enhances gameplay even more. The game includes several of Felix Kjellberg’s YouTuber friends – Markiplier and Jacksepticeye, to name a few. The game is set in a fictional world where an army of barrels tries to steal PewDiePie’s YouTube fans to acquire the Legendary Brofist. PewDiePie: Legend of the Brofist was critically acclaimed for its 8-bit style of graphics, references to YouTube and games, and overall gameplay and story. The game costs $4.99 on both Google Play and the Apple App Store.
14. Angry Birds 2
Angry Birds 2 is a great slingshot 2D game. It has unique gameplay aspects and represents a noteworthy entry to the Angry Birds lore. Players use slingshots to control projectiles, which are different types of birds. The end goal of each level is to kill every pig, the main antagonist in the Angry Birds series. If a player fails to do so, he has to replay that respective level. However, if the player passes, he will be rewarded stars based on his score.
The maximum number of stars that can be obtained is three, and the lowest one. Players will unlock new missions based on the total stars they have managed to collect. Angry Birds 2 was developed and published by Rovio Entertainment in 2015. The base version of the game is free on both Android and iOS devices. However, the game comes with a lot of in-app purchases. Some can be purchased using the in-game currency while many others require a payment using real money. With that said, prices start from $0.99 and go up to $99.99.
15. Summer Catchers
Summer Catchers is a rather unique game where you drive a wooden bike in several distinct landscapes. The game follows the story of a small girl who has never seen summer. Thus, she traverses distant lands, from the snowy and dark north to the oceans in the south. The game was critically lauded for its 8-bit pixel art and interesting worlds. However, the gameplay mechanics could have been a bit more comprehensive. Also, it feels extremely hard at times. Fortunately, none of these change the fact that the game is extremely rewarding and fun to play despite demanding lots of effort and attention. The game costs $3.99 on both Google Play and the Apple App Store and can be acquired for free using a Google Play Pass subscription.
Dandara is a Metroidvania and 2D platformer title from the Brazilian developers Long Hat House. It is based on the Brazilian mythological character of the same name. When a “Golden Idea” starts sending Dandara’s people into Oblivion, she arises as her establishment’s last hope and fights to prevent her people from falling into the Oblivion. Dandara is yet another proud member of 2D action platformer side-scrolling Android games. Players navigate the world by jumping from one white wall to another. The combat is fluid, pleasant to look at, and improved by the presence of three boss fights and a level-based navigation system. The title can be obtained for free through Google Play Pass or purchased for $3.99 on Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
Witcheye is an innovative game. It fits the platformer genre in many aspects but also stands out in others. For instance, it allows players to move freely around the entire 2D world, separated by rooms with locks. Players must evade and optionally kill various enemies to collect lives, diamonds, or keys, allowing them to progress to the next locked area. The game is very interesting, and the fact it innovated to provide a completely different gameplay style is satisfying enough. Players control the eye of a witch, thus the name of the game is “Witcheye”. Also, events in the game are woven together by a simple yet substantial story, which heightens interest further. The game is available for $2.99 on both Google Play and the Apple App Store.
Swordigo is an awesome Metroidvania game that mixes aspects of an action role-playing game and an action-adventure title. It is a 2D platformer game at its heart, and players have to make their way through various landscapes and kill several creatures to accumulate coins, lives, and other collectibles throughout the game. Swordigo focuses heavily on a strong narrative. The underlying story is awesome, which makes the game far more fun. However, the game is far from easy. In fact, some fights can reasonably require quite a few tries to win. The game was developed and released by Touch Foo in 2012 and is free of charge on Android and iOS devices. It also offers in-app purchases, none of which are irrationally priced.
19. Dan the Man
Dan the Man takes a different approach. The game initially started rolling out as a YouTube series from Halfbrick Studios. They released seven episodes, dubbed as “Stages”, on YouTube. The game picks up from the end of Stage Seven. Dan the Man hinges on a strong narrative based on a fantasy kingdom where the king makes the peasants run on treadmills to light the streetlamps.
Dan, two old Geezers, and his army of red-suit rebels speak up for these poor peasants, finally dethrone the king, and end the hardship for the peasants. The game comes with three modes: Survival Mode, Weekly Mode, and Story Mode. The Story Mode has three Prologue Stages, twelve Normal Stages, and a few Hard Mode Stages. The game was developed by Halfbrick Studios in collaboration with StudioJoho. It can be downloaded free of cost on iOS and Android but comes with optional in-app purchases that vary from $0.99 to $59.99.
Hill Climb Racing is among the most frustrating but satisfying 2D racing games for iOS and Android. It is very basic, though. The player simply needs to drive a vehicle of their choice through a rough, hilly landscape. The game gets extremely challenging at times but remains a fairly enjoyable experience. Players can purchase new stages and vehicles. and fine-tune their specifications to extract the maximum out of their virtual engines. Along with that, players can purchase in-game currencies with real money. Overall, the game is pretty casual and won’t require constant attention.