Tuesday, January 04, 2011

My Top 10 Favourite Levels on Platformer Games

Hey everyone,

I got motivated to write this very quickly, it was just a thought bubble in my head last night that developed over the 24 hours that has gone. Don't worry, the Noughtie series is still very close to my head and probably around 85% ready, but I still have a few more articles I want to write before I do that. I just have so many things I want to do and not enough time to do it in! Anyway...

This is my personal favourite levels from some of the best platformers to grace our television screens. I'm sure you know what a platformer is, but just in case you didn't, a platformer game is a game that generally requires jumping from platform to platform. The most popular platformer is undoubtedly Mario, Nintendo set the seeds over and over again on how to make a perfect platformer. That being said, my favourite platformer of all time is Sonic, and if I were to be completely honest, at least 5 of the Top 10 in this would be from the Sonic series. But I've set a limit to one level per major series, some are just individual games anyway. Without further ado, here's #10...

#10 The Volcano's Base - Wario Land 3 (Game Boy Color)
This level starts off the Top 10 because it's great as it's the first time you can really use the roll function in the game to great effect. Wario has many powerups in the game but the basic roll is very effective too, if done properly as this level requires you to master. At first it's difficult, but you try and try again, and eventually you'll be able to roll and jump your way to many coins and hidden areas. It's also home to the first boss too, although he's quite easy.
Keep rollin' rollin' rollin' rollin'.
#9 Magic Carpet Level - World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck (Megadrive)
There are no names for the levels in this game but the first time you get yourself on the magic carpet in this game is a wonderful feeling. This game is full of imagination as well as great two player action, but this level stands out as my favourite.
#8 Cloud Spires - Spyro: Year of the Dragon (Playstation)
It's hard to pinpoint one level once again on any of the three original Spyro games, they're beautiful levels really, but my best effort is Cloud Spires in the third and best instalment. There's a lot to do in this level despite it being one of the first in the game, there's lots of clouds and angelic elements, it just looks wonderful and is a blast to play in too, with all the gliding opportunities.
#7 Street (Stage 3) - Michael Jackson's Moonwalker (Megadrive)
I don't know why, but this game lacks the popularity it deserves, maybe it was the court cases, maybe it was the fact that gamers didn't like the idea of an MJ game, but it was great. The best level is definitely the Street level, with "Beat It" playing in the background. The third stage in particular, is fun to play, the highlight being the boss battle, when you have to take on a hoard of vicious dogs, with the ringleader white dog, and you can use MJ's special powers to make them all dance with you. Great stuff.
How did this game not get popular?!
#6 Tokyo (Stage 2) - The Revenge of Shinobi (Megadrive)
Maybe I've included too many Megadrive/Genesis games, but I truly believe it gave us the best platformers, this being one of the best. This level is just so much fun, taking on other ninjas, particularly the ones dressed like nuns, testing your mettle. The funky music in the background definitely helps, and the skyscrapers you have the opportunity to walk under or over. This is truly a brilliant level.
He worked very hard to get his 999 shurikens.
#5 Chapter 6 - LIMBO (XBox 360 Arcade)
LIMBO is just one very long level with no pauses, but if you load the game up you can start from certain "chapters". In chapter 6 of the game a moment really stands out for me and I thought it deserved inclusion, despite the game not being out very long. A large spider tries to get the better of you, but you dodge a huge rock and it knocks the spider out. All that remains is his body and one leg. But oh no, he's still alive! His one leg tries to get you one last time, but if you dodge that, he gets it stuck in the ground! Haha! Sucker! But oh dear, you're trapped! There's a platform to your right, but it's too far away and spikes are below. So what does our young hero do? He goes to the spider, now dead or just trapped, he yanks off his ENTIRE leg, spider juices flowing, leaving just the spider's main core, and he rolls this body into the pit of spikes, even more spider juices splatting everywhere, so you can climb on the body and over to the other platform! It's gross stuff, but hey, who said platformers are only for kids?
The spiders in LIMBO are really scary.

#4 Egypt - Quackshot (Megadrive)
Quackshot was a game that required you to travel over the world and getting items from one part can unlock sections of others. That's why when you see a scribbled note saying "1. Sun 2. Moon 3. Star" that you have for ages. You think "Wha?! What is this for?!" Then, when you get to Egypt, it all makes sense. You enter a tomb and all of a sudden the door shuts behind you, and the ceiling is closing down! You panic, and all of a sudden, you see three placards on the floor, appropriately they're the three shapes mentioned on your note! So you quickly step on them in order, and your life is saved. The rest of the level is great too, you have a mining cart ride amongst other things, but the sheer horror of failing to solve this puzzle haunted me for hours. Until I checked that note!
I can't find a screenshot of the level so an angry duck will have to do.
#3 Space Zone (Stage 2) - Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins (Game Boy)
I love this level so much. It's truly a magnificent feeling, going through space as Mario in your little space outfit... avoiding all the evil nasties... and all the horrible walls... getting as many coins as possible... sorry I reminisced too much! It's actually one of the hardest levels in the game, especially the end bit before the boss. The best thing about the level though, is the music, it's definitely my favourite song in the game, and it's exclusively used in this level too.
#2 Un-Bearable - Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (Playstation)
This is the level that inspired me to write this list. It's just the best Crash level ever. In Crash 1 and Crash 2, to have these levels that start with you going downwards - most levels make you go upwards. These levels tend to be you running away from a large spheric rock, dodging everything along the way. They're great levels. But just over half way through Crash 2, you have a humongous polar bear coming after you! It's a harder level too, with even more obstacles than before. However, that's not the end, oh no. The end, is this super-fast version of the bear! How am I meant to run away from that?! Well, the solution is, you hitch a ride on a baby polar bear cub and run off! It's just so much fun, so much mayhem and it's one of the best levels in gaming history.
Run little polar cub run!!
#1 Hydrocity Zone Act 2 - Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (Megadrive)
Here we are, my favourite level of all time. This level is just flawless. The first act was fun enough, but the second one, full on with a remix of the original song, is just full brim of loop de loops, above water, under water, running ON water, running through gushes of pressurised water. It barely stops. It's just truly a magnificent ride that you barely control, you mainly watch, and it just epitomises what was good about the old Sonic games. You really have to see it to believe it, it's the best platforming level of all time.
Sonic may look scared but trust me, he's having fun.

There you have it, it may be Megadrive/Genesis game happy, but as I said, I really believe the Megadrive had the best platformers. I was going to include the first level from Super Mario Bros, just for how memorable and popular it is, but I wanted to explore other games, besides a Mario game has been featured. Thanks for reading.


  1. the space zone in mario is my least favourite, so infuriating!! and number one is a sonic underwater level which just stresses me out!! but good list mo, well done!! x

  2. Good list dude, but I prefer Ice Cap to Hydrocity (although Hydrocity does have the best music). The best platform level of all time though is (I presume you haven't played it?) Shifting Sand Land from Super Mario 64. Exploring that one (quite big) level encapsulates everything that's wonderful about that game, although trying to collect the 8 red coins is probably the closest I've ever come to throwing my pad through my TV (oh no, wait, I forgot, Tick Tock Clock was even worse).

  3. cool dude i like those as well.