If anybody ever tells you that cartoons can’t be art, don’t listen to them. Some of the greatest TV and movies of all time have been animated fare; from Avatar: The Last Airbender through to traditional hand-drawn Disney works, “cartoons” are such a broad church that you’re bound to find something you love no matter what your tastes might be. With that in mind, there are also plenty of excellent cartoon games to check out on PS4, and some of your favourite properties might even have great games that are worth looking at. Here are the 15 best PS4 cartoon games to play right now.
This free-to-play platform fighter boasts some of the best Warner Bros properties as part of its roster. Have you ever wanted to beat up Game of Thrones’ Arya Stark with Bugs Bunny? How about taking down Wonder Woman with Steven Universe? In many ways, MultiVersus is the ultimate crossover fighter; while it can’t quite give Super Smash Bros a run for its money in terms of mechanics or lineup, it’s still an extremely solid proposition, and what’s more, unlike Smash Bros, it’s on PS4!
Imagine MultiVersus, but it has Nickelodeon characters at its core instead of Warner Bros properties, and you have Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl. The mechanics are slightly wonkier than Warner Bros’ game, but it’s still perfectly playable, and it has cartoon stalwarts like SpongeBob SquarePants and Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender among its roster, too. If you love Nickelodeon properties and want to watch them all smash each other to bits, this is definitely a solid game to try out.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is very much not for children. It’s an adult RPG with Paper Mario-style turn-based combat, and it takes place in the world of the cartoon, so expect lots of incredibly profane and irreverent jokes. There’s a lot of dialogue to enjoy if you are a South Park fan, and if you’re not, you probably won’t be interested anyway, so suffice it to say that this is probably the best game based on South Park that’s ever come out. Of course, given that it’s not exactly a crowded field, that may not be high praise.
Do you see what they did there? Titterworthy name aside, The Fractured But Whole is another worthy addition to the South Park RPG canon, giving the animated show yet another game that it should be proud to call its own. This time around, the focus is on superheroes rather than fantasy characters; you’ll meet many superhero-themed twists on classic South Park characters and unravel a narrative that feels very much like an extended episode of the TV show.
To some extent, the biting, sharp humour of the original Rick and Morty series is lost in this VR extravaganza, but it’s a fun and high-quality experience, so that doesn’t matter quite as much as it should. You are a cloned Morty, and you must help Rick Sanchez with various menial tasks around his lab. Those tasks increase in complexity as you go, so you might be helping him do the laundry one minute and then craft an item the next. There’s plenty of great character dialogue to enjoy, too, if you’re a fan of the show.
Do yourself a favour and give the original Nickelodeon Kart Racers a very wide berth indeed, because it’s not worth your time. This sequel, however, elevates the gameplay to “basically fine”, so it’s worth a look if you’re looking for a Mario Kart-style way to kill a few hours with your friends. It has lots of Nickelodeon characters to choose from, including disproportionate representation for SpongeBob SquarePants, and some fun tracks to race around as well, so it should be good party entertainment.
Cuphead isn’t technically a cartoon game, in that it didn’t come from a cartoon, but it did eventually get an animated adaptation, so we’re including it. This brutally difficult game has some incredible animation; getting splatted by bosses over and over again has a delightful charm to it thanks to the Max Fleischer-style old-school fluid visuals, and the bullet hell combat is varied and challenging throughout. The recent DLC pack, The Delicious Last Course, is also very much worth your while if you like the original game.
This is an old-school PS1 platformer that dates back to the late 90s, but it’s available via PlayStation Plus if you subscribe to the Premium tier. It’s a surprisingly accomplished effort that can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best platformers of its era, like Banjo-Kazooie or Spyro the Dragon. As Buzz Lightyear, you must explore a series of open-ended levels, completing tasks and collecting whatever the level calls on you to collect. Toy Story 2 also has a surprisingly great soundtrack, so don’t mute it!
There were some surprisingly excellent movie adaptations back in the 90s, and Disney Classic Games Collection contains three of those titles. The Lion King, Aladdin, and The Jungle Book are all here for you to enjoy, and they’re all superlative 16-bit platformers with a surprisingly high difficulty level. The animation is sumptuous, as you’d expect from Disney, and the mechanics are tight throughout these games’ running time. There are also museum features available, so you can take a trip down memory lane.
And for the second part of the one-two punch, it’s The Disney Afternoon Collection. This one boasts six classic 2D sidescrollers, two of which are undisputed classics. The original DuckTales is a masterpiece, and well worth experiencing to this day, and Darkwing Duck is a great, overlooked platformer that has a lot to offer to the 2D connoisseur. The other games vary in terms of quality, but they’re still worth checking out if you’re into retro Disney platformers and action games.
We’re really stretching the point with this one, but we’re still going to count it. Since the Netflix Castlevania show was based loosely on Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse, which is also included in this collection, we’re including it on this list, which is primarily an excuse for you to play some fantastic 2D action games (and a few absolute duds). Castlevania, Castlevania 3, and Super Castlevania IV are all undeniable classics, but you’ll get diminishing returns out of the others. Still, the collection is worth it for those three.
The original Battle for Bikini Bottom was a flawed gem, and since this remaster polishes up the visuals and tightens up the mechanics a little, that qualifies it to be a superior release, so check this one out instead of seeking out the original. It’s a classic collectathon platformer in the vein of Super Mario 64, but it has all of the off-kilter SpongeBob humour and characters you’ve come to know and love. It’s the closest you’ll ever get to actually being in an episode of the show!
The Kingdom Hearts series is a pretty confusing one to get into, but if you’re looking to enter into this rather baffling franchise, then start here. There are a wealth of Disney worlds available to explore, and you’ll get to meet classic Disney characters like Tarzan, Jack Skellington, and Simba. However, Kingdom Hearts is also an accomplished action RPG in and of itself, with tight and responsive combat and great exploration mechanics that open up more of each world as you explore.
Dotemu’s love letter to the classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons (and the sidescrolling brawlers they spawned) is a worthy addition to the canon it so venerates. You can choose from any of the four titular Turtles, all of whom have different abilities, and you can also play as Turtles-adjacent characters like Splinter or April O’Neil. Each level has a wide variety of objectives, both mandatory and optional, to complete, so make sure that you explore each stage carefully while you’re whacking bad guys across the face.
Technically, Dragon Ball is a manga before it is an animated show, but since Dragon Ball FighterZ takes the general animation style from its animated counterpart, we’re going to put it on the list. This is a fast, fluid, and frenetic fighter full of all the characters you know and love from the Dragon Ball series, and if you’ve ever wanted to participate in an actual, honest-to-goodness fight from Dragon Ball, this game will more than fulfil that wish. There might be just a little too much DLC for our liking, but it’s still a worthwhile game that should take pride of place on your fighting game shelf.