Granted, almost every moment in the Mario games is great. But when I sat down to plot out my favorite moments, I came up with a list of the levels that first popped into my mind as I thought about the series' various games. These are the levels that most made an impression on me, and I think in a way, that makes them the best. I mean, for one thing, they were the experiences that most made a mark on me. But also they're the levels that required me to research the least. I do hate research. Although, that research would've just been playing Mario games.
I've made a huge mistake.
In any event, here are the all-time best Mario levels!
There's a feeling of terror that washed over me in the Minus World, a feeling that what I was seeing was out of the realm of traditional Mario dangers like turtles and Hammer Brothers and into the more metaphysical dangers of the unknown. It was exciting, because the danger was suddenly real. Would I find code that turned the Princess into a monster? Would I legitimately break my NES? Would the game give me the exact time and date of my own death? THE HORROR OF THE MINUS WORLD IS THAT THE ANSWER TO ALL THESE WRETCHED QUESTIONS WAS JUST AS LIKELY TO BE YES AS IT WAS TO BE NO.
Tick Tock Clock
Why was this such a great level? I really liked the jumping-into-the-clock-at-specific-times-to-speed-up-or-slow-down the platforms thing. What a great idea. This level worked upwards. It seemed that each progressive star was HIGHER in the clock than the last. So by the time you were at the sixth star, you were climbing through a damn clock mountain. I felt like there was no end to the height of this level, and to this day I forget that there's an end. In my head, I can keep climbing higher and higher in this level forever. And isn't that the true majesty of a Mario level? The sense of wonder? Of possibilities? Of infinity?
No, it's just about power-ups? Yeah, okay. This level didn't have any power-ups so it SUCKS.
World 4-1 from Super Mario Bros. 3
Um. this level had GIANTS in it. They were like regular bad guys except GIANT. It's like, which is better — a pie? Or a GIANT pie? The answer is giant pie ten times out of ten. Unless it's a poison pie. And I literally don't understand why there would ever be such thing as a poison pie. Maybe if you hated your relatives and wanted to bump them all off over Thanksgiving. Okay, I got a little off track here. THE POINT IS, giants are rad and this level is rad and my family HAS to go.
MAN what a fortress Whomp's Fortress was! This is, like, the canonical Mario level. The green grass is growin', the piranha plants are bitin', and the sun is shinin' down. It's pretty exciting when you get to a place with no gimmicks, no added fluff. It's just Mario versus some piranha plants. And at the end you run into — spoiler alert — Whomp! MAN what a fortress Whomp's Fortress was!
Between the electricity traps, floor puzzles you spin to activate and spiked monsters This, the last level of Super Mario Galaxy 2, is without question the hardest level in the history of Mario levels. It's designed by a masochist. It's for the type of person who wants to hurt themselves. It's for someone who likes to be tied up, tortured, bound, beaten, gagged. Who finds themselves.drawn to PAIN. Someone who finds... PLEASURE... in pain.
Oh wow. This Mario level has really taught me a lot about myself.
Donut Plains 1
This is the first level where you a. get a cape and b. find a secret level exit. Do you know what this level meant to Mario fans? EVERYTHING. This is the origin point. What started it all! Baby, this is the beginning of everything! I love everything about this level — the music, the sound, the introduction of the cape, to the secret exit, to the football guy, to the exploding fire plants, to EVERYTHING. This level is the Citizen Kane of Mario levels. God actually played this level and was like "whoa, good job Mario guys" and that's why everyone who worked on this level woke up the next day with hair made of gold because God can do ANYTHING!
What's your all-time favorite Mario level? Let me know on Twitter at @mikeyfromsu or in the comments below!