The most recognizable video game character of all time got his start side-scrolling his way to the top to save the princess. Since then we’ve seen many others take up the task both successfully and not so much. Below you’ll find my five favorite side-scrolling titles that define the genre.

This series will pick apart the five games from each gaming genre that helped define my gaming persona. You, too, have your own.

#5 Castlevania (NES)

One of the earlier side-scrollers on the home console, Castlevania was one of the first games I’ve ever played. Equipped with just a whip, the scarcity of save points made the game frustratingly difficult. The lust-worthy upgrade came as you upgraded your whip, making the game significantly more manageable with each length increase. To this day I’ve yet to defeat the final boss but that doesn’t change the fact that Castlevania is one of my all time favorite side-scrollers.


#4 Kirby Dream Land (Game Boy)

The Game Boy wasn’t home home to as many stellar titles as most consoles were but it led to it’s fair share of well-known franchises still in business today. Dream Land was Kirby’s first title, introducing the power stealing hero to the world. Despite the absence of color, Kirby’s Dream Land will live on in my memory as the birth of one of Nintendo’s greatest franchises.

Kirby's Dream Land

#3 New Super Mario Bros. (Wii)

It’d be easy to pick one of the original Super Mario titles for this top five list but since the release of the New Super Mario Bros. last year, I’ve never had more fun with a side-scrolling Mario title. After playing through this title with a couple people, you wonder what took Nintendo so long to bring multiplayer to the core of Nintendo’s success.

New Super Mario Bros.

#2 Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (SNES)

In most cases, the addition of Yoshi is spot on and there’s no other title that proves such a point like Super Mario World 2 for the SNES. On a mission to protect Baby Mario from being kidnapped, Yoshi sets out across the Mushroom Kingdom chasing down the stray floating Baby Mario after any wrong move. One of my favorite Mario games of all time, SMW2 will always have a place in my memory.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island

#1 Viewtiful Joe (Gamecube)

The Gamecube was one of Nintendo’s less successful consoles for a number of reasons. On that list, you’re not likely to find Capcom’s Viewtiful Joe, a fast paced side-scroller that was severely overlooked. Viewtiful Joe had an arcade feel with the creativity and originality so many games lack. If side-scrollers are your thing, you might want to consider traveling back in time for my favorite of all time.

 Viewtiful Joe

Even with today’s emphasis on stunning graphics and massive 3D worlds, it’s nice to see developers pay tribute to the earliest of gaming genres. Think back and remember your favorites. Once you do, share your top five in the comments.