(Spoilers) What is your favorite level in a platforming game?

  • Super Mario Bros. 1-1

    Hey Allies,

    I'm looking for recommendations on interesting platforming mechanics and hazards. Off the top of your head, what has stuck with you as a particularly memorable feature you ran/jumped/smashed or scrambled across?

    As for me, I always got a kick out of Rocket Knight Adventures. There is one zone in that game where rising and falling lava is causing you to scramble upwards to safety, but most of the safe area is obscured by objects in the foreground. So you have to read your reflection in the lava below to figure out how to safely negotiate the areas the lava is driving you up into.

    Rocket Knight Adventures

  • Touch Fuzzy. Get Dizzy.

  • Rooftop Run in Sonic Unleashed and Studiopolis in Sonic Mania.

  • @Yoshi Excellent, yeah this is exactly the sort of recommendation I'm needing!


  • @DeweyDTruman A 3D Sonic game on a list of favorite platformers?! Now THAT'S what I'm talking about! I've never seen Rooftop Run before, this looks like joy in a box.

    I'm still chewing on Sonic Mania, I remember Studiopolis having a TON of crazy ideas in it. Going behind the scenes to find secret areas in that level felt so clever, but this bossfight was the bane of my existence.

  • SM3 5-1
    Don't kill me I've played way too many platformers over the years to remember my favorite level in any of them combined, but off the top of my head what has struck me as a particularly memorable feature in a game is World 5 Stage 1 from Super Mario 3, a level that puzzled me as a child as you can clearly see that the entire level is rising like a bridge but you cannot see over what. Even more teasingly, midway through the stage you spot clearly breakable blocks, but you cannot break them from above in any way. Another set of clearly breakable blocks teases you once more as you approach the end of the bridge and the stage. I jumped around this stage for ages as a kid looking for a hidden block with a Switch in it , so I could turn the blocks to coins and see what lies below, but of course I never found anything.

    Now obviously, looking at the map above the solution becomes very apparent, but that pipe was never visible as a kid. Reaching that pipe is quite difficult, as none of the parts of the level allow you to build up enough P-Speed to fly up to it as you would in other stages. Well, that's half-true. If you are to use a Tanooki Suit, the statue transform ability allows a skilled player to KO the Chain Chomp guarding the beginning of the level who'd knock your power-up off easily if you were running around down there trying to accumulate speed. Heck, you have to take out the breakable blocks first to even attempt this making yourself a speedway that's still challenging to get up to max speed with even with the Chain Chomp taken out of the equation. As a kid, I was never willing to use a valuable P-Wing on this stage to see if anything was going on above, especially since I wanted to go below, but that's eventually how recently as an adult how I discovered this pipe.

    Already kinda weird, but what you see when you get through the pipe is even weirder. As a kid this room would've freaked me out. The only possible way to reach the room is with powerups, there's no enemies in the room to lose your powerups on, but there's clearly a path that requires a smaller Mario to get through. Well thankfully as an adult I'd been through the hell that is Super Mario Maker Expert/Super Expert levels, so I was intimately familiar with what the game was asking of me, some platforming that's much harder than what Mario games normally ask of the player. One must get a running start, then crouch jump into the one high block path, maintaining their speed while repeatedly jumping while also dodging the fall gaps to continue advancing through the path until it opens up to their reward, a music box which ends the level. But that's not the only way to end the level.

    The much easier, apparent, and in my opinion worthwhile path for this room inside the pipe simply easily drops down to another pipe to enter. This pipe takes you where exactly? It takes you where kid me always dreamed of going when I played this level. It takes you to the section below the "bridge" of the level. Here you are so generously rewarded with FOUR 1-ups, and from that point all that's left is to fly out and finish the level as you would normally.

    Except remember those breakable blocks? Remember how there were mysteriously two sets of them? Well now that we're below them all with a nice long runway to gain P-Speed with, it is nice and easy to fly up and finally break those teasing blocks as revenge for years of the mystery held within then. But what is this? As you try to break one of the blocks it actually yields a Switch instead. We don't need this Switch anymore, as we're already approaching from below, so why? Well that's because this level has one last secret waiting for you, and that's two giant 3s made of blue coins that last as long as the Switch timer, celebrating this game as Super Mario 3, a game of many secrets of which the puzzling platforming of this level is merely just one example of.

  • @Mbun Oh man, thanks for sharing this one. I love the puzzle-y aspects to the layout, I can pretty much assure you I never found my way into that pipe entrance up there myself either, nor would I have a change of getting the secret music box in the extra room. The payoff for exploring in this zone is legit.

    Those breakable blocks are really enticing, but having found them I don't know if I would have thought to look all the way up in the air back at the beginning of the zone. The pathway in is REALLY hidden.

    I love looking at Super Mario 3 courses, so many of them are SO compact. That's almost always a good thing, keeping levels short, especially if you're asking players to linger over them and explore every nook and cranny like 5-1 here.

  • I'm sure if I really thought about it and took a look at all of my games I could come up with more levels, but these are the ones that immediately come to mind.

    The Woah Zone: Super Paper Mario: World 4-4
    I haven't played Mario 64, and I've only played 1 2D Mario game, but of all the Mario games I've played, the Woah Zone is a favorite. It's not my favorite area in Super Paper Mario, that would be Merlee's Mansion or The UnderWhere, but The Woah Zone holds a special place in my heart and in my memory for truly mystifying 10 year old me. Of the Mario games I've played, and of basically all the platformers I've played, the Woah Zone works the best as a maze level. If you haven't memorized the correct path or at least have a good memory for where you've already been , it is very confusing. There was a time when I thought The Woah Zone was just difficult for me because I was young, but since I played it recently, I can say that the challenge remains. Part of what makes it so easy to become lost is that all the areas look alike, and mid-way in to the area gravity starts to get altered. There are basically 4 things to consider when trying to find your way: 1.Should I be looking at the area in 2D or 3D. 2. Am I using the right character? 3. Am I on the right plane of gravity? 4. Am I using the right Pixl? By this point in the game, you have 3 main characters to choose from and between 7 and 10 Pixls to choose from. The level does a good job of forcing you to swap characters and Pixls to find the correct way through.

    Gamble Galaxy: Kirby Squeak Squad: All the levels because I can't pick one that's better than the others. (Except for the Final Boss, it sucks.)
    Basically, Squeak Squad was my first Kirby game, and probably my first 2D platformer. I got it as a present for I think my 10th birthday and I treasured it. For years, Squeak Squad made up about 80% of my gaming time. In the car? Time for Squeak Squad. Can't sleep? Time for Squeak Squad. School is boring? Time to covertly play Squeak Squad. To be honest I haven't enjoyed any pure 2D platformer as much as I've enjoyed Squeak Squad. Not even other Kirby games match up to me. Yeah, the game isn't terribly difficult, but it doesn't have to be to be fun. The levels are well designed, the pixel art is beautiful, and it introduced some great copy abilities (Animal, Bubble, Ghost, Metal, and Triple Star) as well as ability scrolls which opened up new ways to play by expanding on the copy abilities. I get mixed reviews on the game when I read about it online, some people say it's great and that it's their favorite (or at least the #2 Kirby game), others say it's nothing special. I can't conclusively say if the game is truly the best 2D platformer I've ever played since I'm sure nostalgia has a great deal of an effect on how I view it (I have been playing it for about a decade now). The reason I picked Gamble Galaxy is that I think it A) looks beautiful, and B) does a good job of summing up the rest of the game in terms of game play and ability usage. The final boss as anyone will tell you is a huge disappointment, so I don't consider that as a part of the world.

    Oni Island: Okami: Second Arc
    I know that Okami is technically a Zelda-style action adventur game, but I think it should also be considered a 3D platformer. A good chunk (like 70%) of what you do in game to traverse the world is platforming, I mean it even has a double-jump. So it that regard, I think mentioning a dungeon from Okami is appropriate. I decided on Oni Island, but I could have just as easily picked The Moon Cave or Wawku Shrine. Both of those Dungeons are excellent and the final dungeons of their respective arcs, but I have to give it to Oni Island since I spent the most time there. I was really convinced when playing through this dungeon that it was the final dungeon of the game. The stakes had been raised greatly, the story had been seemingly building up to this point, the music is intense, the puzzles and challenges are more difficult than in previous areas. All signs pointed to endgame. This, thankfully is not the final dungeon. Not that if wouldn't have made a great final dungeon, I just enjoyed Okami so thoroughly that I was glad it wasn't over. The layout of the dungeon is very complex and the puzzles are all very engaging. The races that Amaterasu has to complete amp up in difficulty in a satisfying way, if I remember correctly the slow-time brush technique doesn't work on your opponent so you have to actually try to beat them. The only complaint about the dungeon I had was that one of the guard walls was practically impossible to beat so I had to spend an hour trying to figure out a way to glitch past it. The Thunderstorm brush technique isn't used often outside the dungeon, but it is utilized well within it. Overall one of my top 5 Okami dungeons, and a memorable moment for me. Plus, the boss is great (I mean all the Okami bosses are great so that's not saying much).

    Mafia Town: A Hat In Time: Basically the whole thing, but the lava level is great.
    What can I say about a A Hat In Time. Other than, the beta was one of the most well designed and fun to play 3D platformers I've ever played, I've got nothing. I'm still in the middle of playing the game, I'm about halfway through Chapters 2, 3, and 4, and I'm nearly finished with Chapter 1, which is Mafia Town. It's the level I've played the most of since it was available in both the Alpha and Beta, and yet I'm still constantly finding new things in the world. The level itself is pretty big, and it has lots of different locales. The music even changes depending on where you are. I'm not sure how to express what makes this level unique. Compared to the other worlds this one is pretty normal, I guess, I mean as normal as an Island covered in Mafia Chefs who's nationalities are ambiguous. The entire level is open to explore in every act and it's just a good way to test out new techniques and abilities. Every time I get a new hat or badge there's a new way to explore this level. I might change this entry once I finish the game, but for now the area I know best is Mafia Town and I think it deserves to be mentioned.

    I was thinking about putting a Super Mario Galaxy (1 or 2) level here, but I'm honestly having a hard time deciding which to pick. They're all great, I for the most part enjoyed all of them. I'm just not sure how well I can speak to the way that they're designed.

  • Way too many amazing platforming levels. I'll give a couple of my favorites, both from my favorite platforming franchise: Donkey Kong Country

    Horn Top Hop - Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

    I love the music here and its implementation into the level design. There are owls in the background blowing giant horns, and the updrafts created from the rushing air provide lift for platforms. It's all performed in sync to the music, and when combined with the autumnal aesthetics of the level, it results in platforming perfection.

    Web Woods - Donkey Kong Country 2

    This is a pretty lengthy level, and pretty unique in that you play through the majority as Squitter the Spider. There are plenty of diverse enemies and challenges, but the uniqueness comes from having to create platforms out of webs as you progress. You find yourself having to battle enemies while simultaneously maintaining your fragile network of webs over large chasms. It changes up the gameplay, but does not feel like a simple gimmick. It's a challenging and enjoyable trip through a haunted woods that represents the creativity of Rare when designing these games.

  • I'm playing through Rayman Legends for the first time on Switch and it's loaded with cool ideas, the most famous one being the music levels where you constantly run forward and have to time your actions with the music. They're exhilarating to go through. I'll try to remember more!

  • @Axel Wow that level is so awesome! It's amazing that they were able to sync the gameplay to the music.

  • @isosceles I'm all about Sonic. Honestly it's a hard call between the Unleashed and Generations version of Rooftop Run but they're both my favorite 3D platformer levels in general. I'd even go so far to say it's top 5 levels/areas period.

  • This seemed so much more dramatic when I did it years ago than watching it now, but it's still a goodie.

  • @DeweyDTruman Hell yeah I'm gonna be booting Unleashed up this week to check it out. Watching a video of that level makes it look sooo satisfying to blast through.

  • I started gaming as a kid in the later 90s, so yeah, my platforming experience is limited. But you guys have proven that I really need to take the genre more seriously. It just wasn't my attraction growing up. Just Mario 64, Sunshine, Banjo, Crash 3, Spyro 1-3, Ratchet & Clank, Rayman 2. That's about it...

    My pick here isn't based on gameplay. It is just amazing vibes. The music, cute characters, fun secret hockey mini-game, the chanting guy is an adorable little chant I'll say in my head time to time.

    Spyro 2 - Colossus


  • I have now successfully beat A Hat In Time, and can speak to the quality of the rest of the game's levels. I honestly want to feature all of them since they are all so unique and well designed.

    A Quick Note About The Videos Attached: I chose these videos because they were the only ones that focused on specific levels rather than entire chapters. The issue with these videos is that they are a little misleading about how the game actually plays. First, the game runs much smoother than this video would have you think, even on my pathetically under powered laptop. I think the low frame rate on the video must have something to do with the capture. Furthermore, the person playing is a little impatient. The game is fast paced at times, but also requires to stop and think about how they will traverse a level by throwing in lots of different platforming challenges. The issue with always trying to rush is that the player was constantly messing up jumps and other maneuvers. The game isn't actually that hard, it's challenging and makes you think. You might have to attempt a jump multiple times, but it isn't unfair. I'm not saying that they were a bad player, but they would have gotten things done faster if they hadn't rushed. So I hope that explains the low frame rate and the amount of falls.

    Toilet of Doom: Not a platforming level really, just a boss fight. But, what I will say is that all the game's boss fights are very well designed. They were all challenging enough that they kept me engaged and made me have to attempt them multiple times, but also not so long that they got boring. Plus the phases of each boss are very different from each other and swap rapidly, keeping things interesting.

    Train Rush: I've loved this level since the Beta. It was the only level from the chapter back when it was still chapter 3 and not chapter 2, and was still called A Trainwreck of Science instead of Battle of the Birds. I've played this level so many times and it really never gets old. It's so hectic that even if you've practiced the level 10 times, if you react a half of a second late your whole run is thrown off. The fact that this is one of the levels that gives you a score also helps the replayability. In chapter 2 you find yourself switching between 2 very different courses of levels. Which course you score higher on determines what the final act of the chapter is. I wanted to get a particular ending, but had ended up doing much better on the course I didn't want to win. I found myself 8 points short of what I needed to get the ending I wanted (with overall scores around 1100), so I needed to up my game somewhere. I was having trouble upping my score on the first level of the course, so I switched to Train Rush, the second level. It took me about 15 tries but I was eventually able to shave off about 5 seconds on my time and get the points I needed.

    The Big Parade: I just really like the gimmick of this level. Your being followed by a parade band and they hurt you if you touch them, meaning that you have to be constantly moving and never backtrack. The level is more about how long you can keep that up than about actual platforming, but it was interesting and fun.

    (The 3 Levels I Just Mentioned)

    The Wind Mill: This "level" is an area in the chapter Alpine Skyline. Alpine Skyline unlike the other chapters, is not broken down in to acts but is rather just an extremely large sandbox. You basically get to go around and do whatever you like. The sandbox has 4 "levels" in the sense that they are individually designed areas with challenging platforming, they remind me of a powered up Okami dungeon (Twilight Bell in particular). The "levels" must all be completed to unlock the second (or fourth) act, but you can tackle them in any order and do them all continuously without being booted back to the hub between "levels". I chose The Wind Mill, not because it's my favorite area in Alpine Skyline, but because it's the only one with video of it. It was the first area I tackled and it was were I had a shift in perception of Alpine Skyline. I initially didn't like the chapter, I think having a sandbox is fine, but I prefer distinct levels. The Windmill showed me the excellent game design displayed in the chapter, even though it isn't the most well designed of all the areas (once more, that would be The Twilight Bell). I just had a really good time, and it seriously gave me Okami feelings, which is a good thing.

  • Really tough to answer

    Music wise it's Green Hill Zone from Sonic 1

    Gameplay and level design wise from a 2d game I loved the airships in SMB3, still tough to pick any out because there are a lot of fun ones. Sonic 2 and 3 have some great and memorable stages like Hydro City and Casino Night

    The platforming in Gunstar heroes is fast and frantic and more shooter, but there is a lot of jumping around, so it kind of doesn't count.

    3d, the special stages in the Mario galaxy games and Sunshine, just pure platforming fun and often a good challenge.

    I've enjoyed the rocket level/parts in DKCR, they are tough, but usually short enough to where if I fail, I don't feel like I was set back too much

  • I'm seeing some love for A Hat in Time here, and I just want to toss my hat in the circle too. I've completed the game, and I think Mafia Town (World 1) is one of the best-designed stages in any 3D platformer I've ever played.

    The boatload of charm of whimsy aside, the world manages to excel in movement. Fluid movement is key to any good platformer, and one of the big advantages of 3D over 2D platformers in this regard are the multiple decisions on how to platform. In order to cross a gap, you can do a long jump-slide, you can climb the roofs and hop over, you can jump off some balloons, you can go high, you can go low, you can use umbrellas to gain height then over, etc. Every time you go from point A to point B in that level is a new experience, where the level is your toybox, and your moveset is your toolkit. Mafia Town even manages to top many of the Mario 64 and Sunshine worlds in this regard.

    Its the type of thing where, when watching a video, you won't "get" it, but when you play the game and your brain is making all of these micro-decisions on how to move every second, you'll see how huge the impact of this small-scale freedom can be

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