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What are some of the most amazing levels in video games?


Astro Bot

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In the original GameCube version of Super Monkey Ball 2, the final stage (Master Extra 10) is a giant GameCube. Sadly, it had to be replaced with the easier and less-exciting "Destiny" (a dice stage) in other versions.

Edited by MegaMan52
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Administrator · Posted

The Polaris / Ashtray Maze portion of Control was really great.  Both the music and the maze/gameplay itself were refreshing and interesting during the game - it was super fun to play through.

It was a nice surprise for me during the game - so if you don't wanna spoil yourself and plan to play the game, maybe skip the video, but it's a really cool portion of the game.

 

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All of Leyndell in Elden Ring, including the hidden dungeons below the city (and secrets further down). Just absolutely fantastic design for this sort of game. Makes you wish most of what's outside of this place wasn't openworld stuff.

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  • Super Mario Bros, Stage 1-1 - It amazes me how well this one knocks it out of the park.  It's a perfect design of balance and learning.  It's quite possibly one of the best first stages ever created as an introduction to a game, and it only becomes more fun as you start learning to speed run it and try to get the fireworks too.
  • Super Mario Bros 3, World 4 - Practically the whole world, but especially 4-1.  Man, seeing those over-sized sprites was so fun back in the day.  It blew my little mind. 
  • Duck Tales (GB), The Moon - To me, this was peak Game Boy platforming. I know it's also on the NES but I have a sweet-spot for this game since it was the version I owned. The music is the best in the game too, but this one really pulls together everything that makes the game great.
  • Mario Kart 64, Yoshi Valley - There's a lot of good tracks on that game, but I Ioved that you had to figure out the shortest path, plus dodge the giant, wobbling Yoshi egg.
  • Final Fantasy VII, Gold Saucer - So unbelievably unnecessary and yet it's so charming and fun.
  • Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, Welcome to the Jungle - Maybe it's a stretch call this a level, but this wasn't my favorite song in the entire GH catalog, but it was the perfect balance of being on of my more favorite songs, paired with how it was keyed into the game.  I remember a bunch of my college buddies got together at a friends house for a weekend gaming party, maybe, 5-6 years after we graduated. I played this song on insane, just having fun, and pretty much the whole room looked at me like I was a God.  Haha... I didn't realize other people weren't as obsessed with these games as I was. I mean, it's hard but it's not THAT hard (if you've put hundreds of hours into the game like I had.)
  • Super Mario Odyssey, New Donk City - I have no clue how you guys felt about this one but something  this one was just too novel and fun.  I wouldn't have appreciated it as much if the first couple of levels hadn't been more traditional Mario style levels, but since this was the 3rd or 4th level, I really appreciated the change of pace of playing in a city, compared to the more cartoony, traditional levels.  And it wouldn't work, but they give it the Donkey Kong type of theme.  The only thing that would have made it better is if, some how, one of the objects would have been to capture a moon from DK himself.
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5 minutes ago, Astro Bot said:

Dinosaur encounters are always so memorable, this game has so many great moments I had a hard time deciding which ones to choose:

 

Ever played Dino Crisis?  I started it but never got to get back too it. I'm curious.  It's definitely 100% like CAPCOM said "Resident Evil has gone gang busters, but how can we replicate it without making another zombie game?"  Well, zombies won out too this day, but I like the idea of rogue dinosaurs tearing apart a faciilty.

 

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  • Palace Midas in the original Tomb Raider.  This level is extremely huge, and non-linear.  It has extremely beautiful level design, and several really cool puzzles, including one with a nice surprise for those familiar with the story of Midas.  
  • Floating Islands from Tomb Raider II.  This is an extremely unique level for the Tomb Raider franchise.  Another level that is non-linear (at least the first half) and mixes extremely beautiful level design with a very creepy atmosphere.  
  • The minecart levels in Donkey Kong Country.  Those were always my favorite and a lot of fun.
  • The boulder chasing levels in Crash Bandicoot.  This was a nice change of pace, and a bit of a surprise for me playing one of my first 3D games and having to run towards the screen.
  • The hog riding levels, also from Crash Bandicoot.  Very similar to the minecart levels from DKC, so it's natural that I would love these.
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2 minutes ago, RH said:

Ever played Dino Crisis?  I started it but never got to get back too it. I'm curious.  It's definitely 100% like CAPCOM said "Resident Evil has gone gang busters, but how can we replicate it without making another zombie game?"  Well, zombies won out too this day, but I like the idea of rogue dinosaurs tearing apart a faciilty.

 

I love the first two Dino Crisis games, especially the first one. It has that classic RE style. The second one got more action oriented, kind of like Resident Evil did years later with RE 4. It's fun too.

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1 hour ago, RH said:
  • Super Mario Bros, Stage 1-1 - It amazes me how well this one knocks it out of the park.  It's a perfect design of balance and learning.  It's quite possibly one of the best first stages ever created as an introduction to a game, and it only becomes more fun as you start learning to speed run it and try to get the fireworks too.
  • Super Mario Bros 3, World 4 - Practically the whole world, but especially 4-1.  Man, seeing those over-sized sprites was so fun back in the day.  It blew my little mind. 
  • Duck Tales (GB), The Moon - To me, this was peak Game Boy platforming. I know it's also on the NES but I have a sweet-spot for this game since it was the version I owned. The music is the best in the game too, but this one really pulls together everything that makes the game great.
  • Mario Kart 64, Yoshi Valley - There's a lot of good tracks on that game, but I Ioved that you had to figure out the shortest path, plus dodge the giant, wobbling Yoshi egg.
  • Final Fantasy VII, Gold Saucer - So unbelievably unnecessary and yet it's so charming and fun.
  • Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, Welcome to the Jungle - Maybe it's a stretch call this a level, but this wasn't my favorite song in the entire GH catalog, but it was the perfect balance of being on of my more favorite songs, paired with how it was keyed into the game.  I remember a bunch of my college buddies got together at a friends house for a weekend gaming party, maybe, 5-6 years after we graduated. I played this song on insane, just having fun, and pretty much the whole room looked at me like I was a God.  Haha... I didn't realize other people weren't as obsessed with these games as I was. I mean, it's hard but it's not THAT hard (if you've put hundreds of hours into the game like I had.)
  • Super Mario Odyssey, New Donk City - I have no clue how you guys felt about this one but something  this one was just too novel and fun.  I wouldn't have appreciated it as much if the first couple of levels hadn't been more traditional Mario style levels, but since this was the 3rd or 4th level, I really appreciated the change of pace of playing in a city, compared to the more cartoony, traditional levels.  And it wouldn't work, but they give it the Donkey Kong type of theme.  The only thing that would have made it better is if, some how, one of the objects would have been to capture a moon from DK himself.

Awesome list!

The Pit - Mortal Kombat (Arcade): Absolutely iconic interactive background.

The Dead Pool - Mortal Kombat II (Arcade): Same as above

Streets of Rage 2 (Gen) - Go Straight Level 1: Iconic AF

Intro Stage - Mega Man X (SNES): Iconic AF

More later!

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5 minutes ago, NostalgicMachine said:

The Pit - Mortal Kombat (Arcade): Absolutely iconic interactive background.

The Dead Pool - Mortal Kombat II (Arcade): Same as above

 

Good choices.  As a general rule, I always enjoyed any MK level that allowed a specific stage fatality.  MKII also had a stage with spikes on the ceiling that you could be punched into during a fatality.  

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27 minutes ago, TDIRunner said:

Good choices.  As a general rule, I always enjoyed any MK level that allowed a specific stage fatality.  MKII also had a stage with spikes on the ceiling that you could be punched into during a fatality.  

It makes me happy to see this post/MK level design getting the love it deserves!

For the record, my favorite stage fatality is The Subway from MK3/UMK3 😎.

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Ghostbusters: The Video Game really nailed it with the first proper level, letting the player return to the Sedgewick Hotel chasing Slimer and several other ghosts. There were a lot of great moments in that game but I think it's no accident that the Sedgewick was chosen as the way to kick things off. It just hits all the right notes.

Dark Carnival from Blood is also good fun.

Fort Frolic in Bioshock and that nutcase, Sander Cohen.

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Mega Man 2 - The final cavern before fighting Wily.  It's a bit subtle but I really enjoyed it.

After all the jammin' tunes and epic levels, the game becomes silent, no music. You spawn falling 4 screens down, landing in a mysterious room.  In the distance, the sounds of only ambient drips and drops from the nearby cavern.  There is only one way out. 

Something about that sequence felt really special for an action game of the time.  It was a cinematic effect told through the game's environment.  Thereafter, the ultimate fight begins!

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Posted (edited)

I find it pretty interesting that by far the majority, in fact nearly every single one, of the suggested levels in this thread were mentioned based on their theme and setting, rather than actual level design and gameplay.

Edited by Sumez
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3 hours ago, Sumez said:

I find it pretty interesting that by far the majority, in fact nearly every single one, of the suggested levels in this thread were mentioned based on their theme and setting, rather than actual level design and gameplay.

Dis you read mine? #1 is 1-1 of SMB and it is 100% this. I’d say the same is true for Moon for DuckTales.  I mentioned the music but that’s just icing on the cake.

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