Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Best Levels in Gaming History - Volume Seven

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

SuperPhillip Central is back with more incredibly designed and/or simply fun levels from gaming's glorious past. Some of these games and levels are from further in the past than others, but they're all terrific feats of level design. For Volume Seven, we have a five more levels to present to you from games such as The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Rayman Origins, and Mega Man X. We'll get to the masterful levels, but first, here's the other six installments of Best Levels in Gaming History to get you caught up.




Ancient Cistern - The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)


Immediately as you enter the fourth dungeon of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, you get a glance at something glorious. The Ancient Cistern is modeled after a Buddhist temple, complete with a large statue in the center of the main lobby of the dungeon. It is the water-themed dungeon of Skyward Sword, and one full of wondrous beauty. However, that's just the top of the dungeon, where ornate statues, flowing water, and floral life call their home. Down below lies a totally different place, where Cursed Bokoblins dwell, wanting nothing more than to keep Link permanently down there. There's a section where Link must climb up a chain while being pursued by the Cursed Bokoblins who wish to drag him back down.

Ancient Cistern's treasure is the Whip, a helpful item used to cross over chasms, as well as to literally disarm the dungeon's boss, Koloktos. If that name is familiar to you without playing Skyward Sword, perhaps you saw the boss appear in one of our Best Boss Battles in Gaming History segments?

Land of the Livid Dead - Rayman Origins (Multi)


This is the greatest challenge in Rayman Origins, an already challenging game as it is. It is the Land of the Livid Dead. Once you have collected all ten skull teeth from the ten running stages (great levels all to themselves), you unlock one final level, a series of platforming obstacle courses that put your Rayman Origins skills to the ultimate test. You have to know when to slap enemies, know when to bounce off enemies, have perfect timing as you slide through narrow gaps and glide from point A to point B.


Every facet of the platforming in Rayman Origins is represented in the Land of the Livid Dead: bouncing off enemies, wall running, wall jumpiing, free-falling, swinging, gliding, and of course, running like a bat out of hell.


Each room is its own challenge. One has you constantly in a need to keep running at all times as you leap on and off a snake platform which dives in and out of hazardous obstacles and bodies of poisonous water. Another has you needing to avoid flames that spew from all directions as you make your descent down a fire-filled corridor. The level ends with a boss battle, a deadly affair that requires just as much platforming prowess as the preceding rooms. The Land of the Livid Dead may get you to pulling out your hair in frustration, but when you finally clear it, it's such a rewarding feeling. For a full look at the level, check out this link.

Rainbow Road - Mario Kart 7 (3DS)


Since the series's inception with Super Mario Kart, the final race in the final cup of each Mario Kart game takes place on the old Rainbow Road. Each installment creates a new track and setting for players to fall off constantly as they learn the course. Our favorite edition of Rainbow Road comes from Mario Kart 7, a Super Mario Galaxy-inspired track where you race on the rings of a planet, race on the face of a moon, and speed through the stars.

My Rank Up! - Mario Kart 7 feature says it best:

"The ultimate track in Mario Kart 7 and the final Special Cup track, Rainbow Road keeps the trend of extravagant track designs for the series of courses going strong. Like Wuhu Loop and Maka Wuhu, Rainbow Road uses the three section structure. From racing around whole planets to driving on the face of a low gravity, Chomp-covered moon, Rainbow Road is a wild ride. The majority of the track has no rails, so falling off is especially easy to do. The final part of the course is by far my favorite as it allows players to glide through star gates a la Super Mario Galaxy, speeding through the air instead of dealing with the hazardous, gap-filled track below. The last incredibly dangerous turn can make or break a race for a given player. Make sure your nerves are calm, your drifting is true, and you driving skills are top of the line. Mario Kart 7's Rainbow Road takes you through an epic intergalactic adventure through the boundaries of space all within the time span of three minutes."

Central Highway (Opening Stage) - Mega Man X (SNES)


Mega Man X is one of our favorite games of all time. We've previously included the Storm Eagle air base level in a previous volume of Great Levels in Gaming History. Now, we're going to focus on the very first level X enters into with the highway opening stage of Mega Man X.

This level isn't just great because of its setting, or how it throws you directly into the action. No, it's a great level because it teaches the player how to control X without tossing a load of tutorials their way. Don't understand what we mean? No problem. How about the section of level where after you defeat the blue bee robot and it crashes downward, making the platform X is on fall with it. There seems to be nowhere to go as X is trapped between two walls. With a little experimenting, players will find that they can actually scale the wall with simple wall jumps. This isn't told to the player. Instead, the player must learn to do this themselves, and it isn't as needlessly convoluted a process as what you'd find in Super Metroid.


Then there's the climax, which has X taking on a robotic armor-wearing Vile, who X is no match for. As X is being firmly held by the armor's grasp, a beam slash comes in, severing the arm and freeing X. It's none other than the bad ass known as Zero. (How many reploids can you think of that are bad ass with a long blonde ponytail? None, we answer.)

Ripsaw Rage - Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble (SNES)


We continue with our Super Nintendo kick with one of Rare's final titles for the system, Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble, a real mouthful of a title. You may notice we have a lot of Donkey Kong Country series levels in these various volumes of Great Levels in Gaming History. That's because there's so many terrific levels in the series that we cannot help ourselves!

Regardless, one of our favorite levels that we can remember clearly is in Kremwood Forest, Ripsaw Rage. This level is a vertical climb between two tall trees. That would be cool enough normally, right? However, in Ripsaw Rage, as you can probably guess by the title, a giant saw pursues Dixie and Kiddy Kong as the screen slowly scrolls upward. There's some time to react to the upcoming challenges, but you need to keep the pace. Secret areas abound where you need to carry a barrel and blast a Buzzer (the green bee enemy with a circular buzzsaw for its "stinger") to reach a bonus area, or to drop into an invincibility barrel, riding the saw to reach that ever-elusive DK Coin. Ripsaw Rage is one of the best levels in Donkey Kong Country 3, and it's one that we love playing (even if we were scared to death by that saw when we were kids).

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That wraps up yet another installment of Best Levels in Gaming History. Stay tuned tomorrow, as SuperPhillip Central's celebration of five years online begins! We hope you're as excited as we are. See you then!

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