What Is Your Favourite Game Level?

Super Mario Odyssey did a fantastic job melding a nostalgic love for the older retro Mario titles and its more modern 3D games. Its levels are inspired, creatively designed to balance a sense of wonder with a good challenge.

Screen Grab Credit: Narelle Ho Sang

New Donk City's Traditional Festival is the perfect example of that. Mario takes part in the celebrations while Mayor Pauline from the original Donkey Kong sings a jazz tune. Mario rides a warp pipe to a 2D construction site straight out of the original game, jumping over barrels and fiery oil cans. The 3D shifts were an amazing reminder, not just of Mario's history, but the evolution of gaming since its arcade origins. The song, "Jump Up, Superstar", hearkens back to Mario's identity as Jumpman. The inverse state where Mario jumps upside down is emblematic of how everything has been turned upside down. The final sequence recreating Donkey Kong is simply wonderful.

There's so many areas of Odyssey that I loved. And when I think about my favourite levels I've played in the past year, there are numerous instances. By level, that can also include dungeons, quests or side missions. I think of the witch mecha stage from Bayonetta 2, the sidequests of Nier: Automata, and the incredible labyrinths of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Persona 5's palaces were strange and twisted, while some of the Fallout sidequests had me questioning my humanity. I even wrote about one of my favourite classic levels in Mega Man 2's Quick Man Stage.

The question today, Kotaku readers: What is your favourite game level?


Comments

    Goldeneye 64 - Dam and Archives
    Super Mario Kart - Ghost Valley
    World of Warcraft - UBRS

    That's hard.

    One thing I'll always have fond memories for was Thief: the Dark Project's Constantine's Manor. It's also hard not to put The Haunted Cathedral from the same game as well. The sound of ghosts was terrifying as a kid. But Constantine's Manor really messes with you but constantly playing with your sense of proportion.

    Dishonored... and specifically Dishonored 2 comes close with The Clockwork Mansion and A Crack in the Slab. That attention to creative level design is why I'll always love Arkane Studios.

    Notable mention goes to the haunted house from Bloodlines. Maybe the ship from Alien Isolation. Maybe the ship from System Shock, but Prey arguably might be the better game when it comes to that anyway.

    Hrrm. One of my earliest multiplayer experiences, replicating the Vader vs Skywalker duel in multiplayer on Jedi Knight on the multiplaer map set on that narrow beam in, I think, cloud city.

      I recently finished Dishonored and thought it was a masterpiece! Picked up dishonored 2 for $15 the other day, so looking forward to playing The Clockwork Mansion and A Crack in the Slab missions.

        One of my favourite series, and the influence from Looking Glass style design is noticeable. I'm always happy to see another person loving Dishonored.

        Also, the Dishonored 1 dlc has amazing level design. The whale abattoir straight off the bat is incredible, and the witch's mansion is impressive too.

        You'll love Dishonored 2. I'd recommend going with Emily first, as she feels very fresh to play. After your first playthough, try doing a no powers run and you notice that the levels are designed even around allowing that sort of playthrough, impressively enough.

          Consider playing some old Thief games :)

          Yep, I played Dishonored: Definitive Edition, so played both DLC's. The Whale Abattoir & Brigmore Witch mansion were both awesome.

    The nuclear plant in Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl.

    Or more classically, 2Fort.

      I like these a whole lot.

      I miss Stalker and the thick atmosphere that game had, though I like the plot of Roadside Picnic more.

    A few things come to mind:

    - Final Warthog sequence in Halo
    - Revival in Journey after the ice mountain sequence (that was breathtaking)
    - Click Clock Wood in Banjo Kazooie
    - Through the Fire and Flames in Guitar Hero 3 (I'm counting that as a 'level')
    - 'All Guillied Up' in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
    - Inferno II and Let's Get Physical from Trials HD

    Sorry, first time using the spoiler function and I mucked it up!

    Last edited 16/01/18 1:57 pm

    Hmm, that is a tough question, but I'm going to go with 'Bald Mountain' quest from The Witcher 3. This is the quest where we finally get to kill the Crones and we get to knock of Imlerith as an added bonus.

    There was just something about this quest that just felt absolutely epic and it has stuck with me ever since. There have been numerous moments in games where I have felt absolutely enthralled and pulled into the game, but none more so than this one.

    The winner for me is AC4a's "Defeat The Spirit of Motherwill", with runners up being Halo 1's "Blood Gulch" and VtMB's "Hollywood".

    It is odd that the most "Souls" moment for me was found in Armored Core 4a, but nothing has ever blown me away as much as speeding up to Motherwill for the first time and noticing all the individual enemies moving along her body like ants guarding an ant hill.

      Spirit of Motherwill was beyond intense. I don't think I've ever come away from a fight in a game with palms as sweaty as that, and that includes stuff like Bayonetta's final boss on NSIC.

    This is a really difficult question to answer. So much to choose from. Brain...overwhelmed.

    I'm gonna say Armored Armadillo's stage from MegaMan X and almost anything from GoldenEye or Perfect Dark. Also, if dungeons count as stages then many many things from The Legend of Zelda's library of brilliant dungeons. But then I don't want to exclude the 'stages' from Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo Tooie. Then what about everything from SMW and SMB3? Turok 2? Too hard, Kotaku. Too hard.

    Would have to be one of the levels from Psychonauts
    Basic braining was the first real level so has a special place. Setting the tone and concept plus it has bacon plants.
    But favourite level is probably the Napoleon wargame level

    Some of the older stuff:

    Tomb Raider 2: Venice & Bartoli's Hideout
    Crash Bandicoot: All the forest levels
    Crash 2: The polar bear levels
    Crash 3: The Egypt levels
    Star Wars Episode One The Phantom Menace: Mos Espa (it was pure SW RPG)
    Halo CE: Assault on the Control Room
    MGS2: The Tanker
    MGS3: Groznyj Grad
    SoTC: The whole game is one entire level!
    The Last of Us: Tommy's Dam

    Soldier of Fortune. The first level in the subway.

    Alex Kidd in Miracle World - Mt Eternal. The game starts off with a downward descent into a water stage. That's some ambitious 8-bit shit. Alex punches a bunch of pterodactyls. This level was my introduction to videogames.

    Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - The water temple. Pre-internet videogame discussion I was free to believe this temple was an incredible, mindblowing and worthy challenge. These days it's almost illegal to day the temple doesn't suck. Get this - half way Link fights a fkn dark version of himself and the final boss battle is maybe the best in the entire Zelda series. The level rules.

    Last Ninja - Palace Gardens

    The tranquil yet exotic music (even on the C64) along with the wonderful gardens with their colourful foliage, fountains, statues and rivers (and water dragon!) just bewitched me.

    In fact, the first three levels of The Last Ninja were all I really wanted to play. After that the game lost a little bit of its shine for me.

    Honourable mention to Central Park in The Last Ninja 2 (that music!)

    Undead Burg- Dark Souls

    All of the Old Hunters DLC- Bloodborne

    Sewers- The Last of Us

    Ravenholm- Half Life 2

    Fav is probz undead burger tho

    For me it's always been the Area 51 secret level in Ep. 4 of Duke Nukem 3D. That whole "The Birth" episode was chock full of great references, but the ID4 references in Area 51 were super great fun for a sci fi fan.

    Mass Effect 2: Suicide Mission

    Epic music, cutscenes & speeches. Not to mention the need to upgrade the Normandy and pick the right specialists for certain "jobs", to make sure everyone survives. I was exhausted the first time I went through it...

    Honourable mentions:

    Vampire the Masquerade - Bloodlines: Haunted House
    Half Life: Blast Pit
    Halo 3: Final mission (Warthog Run)

    -Suicide Mission: Mass Effect 2
    -Baldur's Gate 2 mission where you get shipwrecked and end up underwater in the lair of the mind tentacle creature thingos. (Note. this is a random encounter).
    -Witcher 3, the Leshan Quest! Friggin scary as!
    - Vampire Masquarade Bloodlines - The Haunted Mansion
    -XCom 2 + Expansion - Every fking mission because it's awesome to die after missing a point blank shot!

      The haunted mansion in VtMB is super divisive. Some people love the atmosphere, while others hate just how little loot there is and how long it takes.

    World 8-1. It was made for speed running before speed runs were even a thing.

    There are three levels from Star Wars Jedi knight dark forces 2 that I really liked. Level 6 - into the dark palace made it feel like I was in a scene in Star Wars, infiltrating an imperial base. Level 21 - Jerec: the force within was my most favourite final boss battle ever, as it took everything you'd learnt during the game and made a freaking hard mess out of it, requiring precise timing and trying to keep him out of the healing tube in the middle. Then there was the best level in video game history. Level 15 - the falling ship. This had you running through a ship falling into the valley of the Jedi, blasting storm troopers and trying to find a way out. I died so many times on this level from going the wrong way and the terrible lighting from 1997 games did not help. But this made me keep on trying, and to me, that's what a video game level should do. Make you fix your mistakes in order to teach you something not only about the game, but something in life. Never stop trying people. Be the best you can be. Good night. *Quiet applause from audience of three people*

    Not so much a level ( i suppose perhaps it could be "levels" ) but an area. World of warcraft, Nagrand. Not sure what it was, the floating islands, lush green hills or waterfalls but it just appealed to me. It's a lame choice, considering im in my late 30's and have played just about every game out there. It just seems that where I was in life, at the time I played that area in that particular game, they were good times.

    Let's make it fun! The level names without the game names, how many can you get? These are the ones that really stick out in my memory right now.

    Assault on the Control Room
    Halo CE
    Silver Lake Southbound
    Burnout 3
    Requiem
    Hitman Blood Money
    Cult Sighting - Chandrila
    Jedi Academy
    Ash Lake
    Dark Souls
    Recovery
    Crysis
    Whodunit?
    Oblivion
    Paris
    BI: Burial At Sea

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