Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Best Levels in Gaming History - Volume Eight


Welcome to volume eight of one of our favorite segments here at SuperPhillip Central, Best Levels in Gaming History. No, your eyes do not deceive you. We're retroactively changed the name of our segment from Great Levels in Gaming History to Best Levels in Gaming History. Oh, the nerve of us. Regardless, we continue our look at levels that we deem the greatest in design, most fun to play and most memorable of all. Today we have some of the most entertaining games of all time to share with you-- many of which were listed on SuperPhillip Central's Top 100 Games of All Time ten week event.

If you've missed a previous volume of Best Levels in Gaming History, check out the links below:

Volume One
Volume Two
Volume Three
Volume Four
Volume Five
Volume Six
Volume Seven

Phazon Mines - Metroid Prime (GCN)

Things get much hairier for Samus Aran when she enters the Phazon Mines, the center of all Space Pirate activity on the wondrous planet of Tallon IV. With the heavy pollution, massive amounts of machinery, and radioactive Phazon that will damage Samus upon contact unless she is wearing the ultimate suit in the game, the conveniently called Phazon Suit.

The Space Pirates are certainly up to no good in the Phazon Mines, mining Phazon, pollution the sky into a pink haze, and keeping multiple Metroids locked up (but not for long) under quarantine.

Phazon Mines is so awesome because you feel like the Space Pirates are putting everything they have in stopping Samus from venturing into the depths of the mines. There's automatic turrets, cloaked drones, different elemental varieties of Space Pirates, Elite Pirates, and the most menacing creature of them all, the Omega Pirate, delivering one heck of a boss battle for players. Then there's how vertical the area is, offering plenty of fantastic first-person platforming action and adventuring. The Phazon Mines are indeed a very cool sight in a game that is full of magnificent areas.

Click Clock Wood - Banjo-Kazooie (N64, XBLA)

The final world of the Nintendo 64's greatest 3D platformer (in SuperPhillip Central's opinion at least), Banjo-Kazooie, is one that requires players to visit each of its seasons. It is none other than Click Clock Wood. You start off in a wooded area with four doors, only one which is accessible to Banjo and Kazooie, Spring. Through finding the switch to open the next door containing the next season, you can venture from Spring to Summer, and then Fall and Winter.

The fun of Click Clock Wood is how doing something in Spring will affect the next season, and so on. One Jiggy objective requires you to perform actions across all four seasons to obtain it. There's a squirrel to gather its acorns in the fall so he can hibernate for the winter, a beaver whose home is blocked by a giant rock that Banjo can destroy during the summer (when the moat surrounding the central tree structure is barren), and the ability to freely fly around the spring version of Click Clock Wood thanks to Mumbo Jumbo's bee transformation. Click Clock Wood is a terrific way to cap off Banjo-Kazooie, and it's a highly creative world, too.

Cronos - God of War III (PS3)

What's great about this level is that it works as a level AND a boss fight. We're choosing the former to represent Cronos from God of War III. After Kratos got Pandora's Box, Zeus banished the titan Cronos to the Pits of Tartarus, and this earth-based colossus is pretty pissed about it.

The sheer size of Cronos makes the bosses in Shadow of the Colossus even envious of him! Kratos is but a bug to him, as seen in the screenshot above, nestled between the titan's two fingers. Kratos, however, gets the upper hand... and arrives on Cronos' upper hand, where he does battle with summoned enemy fodder. He battles these foes while dodging the humongous hand and fingers of the boss.

This level, this boss encounter, is one that is truly unforgettable, as it has Kratos scaling up the behemoth body of Cronos, as if he were climbing a wall, slamming his chained blades into the titan's flesh, swinging around, dodging Cronos' advances. Perhaps Cronos' undoing is when he swallows Kratos. Unfortunately for him, Kratos uses his blade to carve a path out of the titan's chest. After impaling Cronos with his own crest, Kratos leaps up to the titan's forehead, slams his sword straight into his skull and wins another battle. Absolute coolness... and icky, too.

Tower of Babel - Final Fantasy IV (Multi)

One of the most memorable dungeons for us in the earlier Final Fantasy titles is Final Fantasy IV's Tower of Babel (or as it is called in the Game Boy Advance version, Babel Tower). It's a hulking structure that stretches from the inside the earth all the way up higher than airships can fly. The tower features multiple hidden pathways and rooms that lead to some terrific treasure. Unfortunately, a lot of these treasures hide monsters inside, and deadly ones at that. Regardless, when the encounters are as challenging and as fun as the ones in this towering dungeon, we really can't complain. It's a dungeon so nice that Cecil and his party just so happened to visit it twice.

Katina - Star Fox 64 (N64, 3DS)

Unlike the other levels previously mentioned in Best Levels in Gaming History, Katina from the brilliant Star Fox 64 does not have our heroes on rails. Instead, Katina is a 360 free-flight mission, and the immense number of enemies and friendlies that soar in the sky around the center base is a pure adrenaline rush.

Taking a page straight of Independence Day with Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum, an enemy mothership enters into the fray about a minute into the mission and hovers over the resistance base of Katina's forces. The goal is simple, destroy the four hatches on the underside of the mothership when they show themselves. Then the core will appear, requiring Fox and the team to destroy it before it can obliterate the base with a massive energy beam.

Whether you succeed and go to Solar or fail and go to Sector X (I usually succeed and opt to go to Sector X anyway, as I like that level more), Katina is a mission that is just spectacular, flying with your buds, engaging in intense dogfights with enemy ships, and "accidentally" shooting down friendlies. "Wait! That's one of ours!" You said it, Peppy. You said it.


Which levels have you played in the past that you think should hold a spot on a future volume of Best Levels in Gaming History? Think about it for a little bit, and then return here with your thoughts.

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