Monday, September 19, 2011

Best Levels in Gaming History - Volume Five

We've reached the fifth installment of Best Levels in Gaming History, and I have five more of my favorite levels to share with the SPC community. Whether they have unforgettable set pieces, dynamic backgrounds, awesome design, or anything else you can think of, these levels shine high above the rest. If you missed out on a previous entry of this series, click on one of the following links:

7-6 Switcheroo - Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii)

Part of world seven which is a factory-themed world, Switcheroo is an immensely challenging level where crossing over blue and red lights switches which colored blocks are thrust out from the background. Donkey and Diddy Kong must carefully navigate their way through this labyrinth of switches, climb and swing on vines, avoid touching the incorrect switches, and not get hit by enemies that want nothing more than to shock the pair. This level is especially difficult on a speed run where quick thinking saves the day. One must always be planning one step ahead or else they meet a bottomless pit as their fate. Thankfully, there's plenty of checkpoints so redoing portions of Switcheroo isn't too terribly frustrating.

Macbeth - The Forever Train - Star Fox 64 (N64)

"Detach the rear vehicle", "Step on the gas", and "No! Hit the brakes" are common lines heard by the villain who operates Andross's train which attempts to head to Venom's supply depot. It's up to Fox McCloud, piloting the Landmaster tank, to stop it. The first part of the level has Fox taking the train out from its right side. The train will unload a myriad of boulders to get in the Landmaster's way. A few charged shots and not only will you clear a path, but you'll also gain some valuable bonus points towards your total high score for the planet. The 150 enemy fighters downed acquirement is pretty easy to manage.

Soon the camera will shift upwards toward the sky. It's here where you'll see your wingmates of Falco Lombardi, Peppy Hare, and Slippy Toad dog-fighting against Andross's flying forces. You can feel free to help them as well. Next it's a line of boulders rolling towards Fox's machine. Either hover over them or blast them away to clear a path. If you haven't done so yet, take out the rear vehicles of the train or else it'll shoot bombs at the Landmaster.

Once the Landmaster drops down, it'll cross under and overpass. Falco will have a bogey on his tail. Quickly do away with this target, and the cocky bird will "thank" Fox in a way only Falco can. You'll then enter a tunnel where iron bars come from the walls. Hover over each set to avoid taking damage while destroying the back parts of the train. Following this is the checkpoint ring, and then you'll reach the fuel bunker on the right side which will fully heal any damage given to the Landmaster.

Peppy will then advise Fox to change all eight upcoming switches ahead to open the lock that changes the path of the train. These are located on both the right and left sides of the tracks. However, most of the switches are situated on the right portion of track. Did I mention you have to deal with the boss of the level, the flying machine Mechbeth, while doing this? If all eight switches are changed, a lock will pop up. Dodge Mechbeth's attacks, shoot the lock, and the train will change tracks, zooming straight into Venom's supply depot. A glorious series of explosions will occur, signaling the end of this supremely enjoyable mission. If you fail to shoot all eight switches or miss hitting the lock, you'll be forced to take out Mechbeth. Careful though as there is a time limit. Those who do not defeat the boss in a timely fashion will have it crash into the Landmaster, ultimately annihilating it.

Battle of Hoth - Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II (GCN)

This title still impresses graphically to this day. The compelling and adrenaline-pumping space and land battles still send chills up my spine. This is one of the quintessential Star Wars gaming experiences this side of the Battlefront series. Battle of Hoth is a tremendous example of this. Pilots begin by soaring straight through a snowy ravine until they arrive at ground zero where all the action is happening. The Rebels are fighting a losing war here, and it's up to assist them in evening the odds. For maximum kills, go after the soldiers on the ground leading up to the battle zone, take out the AT-STs, and then trip up the gargantuan AT-ATs by looping around their legs with a tow cable thrice.

Once all AT-ATs have been obliterated to pieces, switch vehicles to the X-Wing. Now your job is to protect the Rebel dropships from the Imperial Forces who wish nothing more than to destroy them. Multiple swarms of Tie Fighters jet around the battleground. Shoot as many down as possible until the signal is clear and the dropships can escape without worry. As soon as this task is finished, the Battle of Hoth has been won by the Rebels. Nonetheless, and as Star Wars enthusiasts know, the war is far, far from over.

Metal Harbor - Sonic Adventure 2/Sonic Adventure 2: Battle (DC, GCN)

Sonic's second level in Sonic Adventure 2, Metal Harbor is located nearby Prison Island. It's an industrial and military zone for G.U.N. forces, but Eggman's baddies have infiltrated and infested the beautiful backdrop. Sonic starts out by speeding through the twists and turns, loop-de-loops, and can grind on the rails for a faster time. Sonic eventually gets to a point in the level where he must carefully navigate across a watery grave. How does he do it? By homing attacking enemies conveniently hovering over the ocean. Sonic can opt to detour and grab a 1-up which also hangs over the crystal blue, serene waters.

As the fastest thing alive nears the conclusion of Metal Harbor, he reaches a rocket ship ready to launch. He must quickly jet up ramp after ramp, doing away with Eggman's badniks, and collecting rings. To get the maximum amount of points available, the blue blur must reach the top of the rocket before it launches. Otherwise, he must start anew at the last checkpoint he got to. Once Sonic rides the rocket, he lets go, skateboards through a vent duct of sorts, launches from a speed ramp, and hits the goal ring, thus completing this super-cool level.

Snowpeak Ruins - The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii, GCN)

From the outside, Snowpeak Ruins looks like a glorious and majestic mansion situated over a wintery chasm and mountainside. Exploring inside and our hero Link finds out that this mansion isn't every thing it's cracked up to be. Monsters have inhabited the yeti couple's home, and Link must discover a way to relinquish them. From the slippery floors to the infamous block-pushing puzzles on solid ice to swinging from chandeliers, Snowpeak Ruins is a masterful, if not devious, dungeon.

The main treasure of this mansion is the powerful Ball and Chain weapon. With it, Link can hoist it over his head, clobber enemies, rock-hard icicles that were previously unbreakable, and reach sections of the dungeon that were originally unreachable. Just watch out for wolves, Ice Keese, and many more monsters. The boss, too, is no pushover. Thankfully, Link has the Ball and Chain to knock some sense back into the possessed female yeti who was overcome by the power of Twilight. As the evil spirit takes its final breath, it disappears, and peace is once again restored to Snowpeak Ruins.


Wrapping up Volume Five, what levels are your favorites that haven't yet been mentioned on Best Levels in Gaming History? I've purposefully left out popular ones for future editions. Did I leave your most liked out? Let everyone know in our comments section.

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