Friday, February 15, 2019

Best Levels in Gaming History - Volume Twenty

Best Levels in Gaming History, like SuperPhillip Central, took a bit of a hiatus, but now it's back for a historic volume number twenty! This time around this long-running segment of SuperPhillip Central returns with some blockbuster games like God of War, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and more.

Take a look at all 19 past entries of Best Levels in Gaming History with these helpful links:

Volume One
Volume Two
Volume Three
Volume Four
Volume Five
Volume Six
Volume Seven
Volume Eight
Volume Nine
Volume Ten
Volume Eleven
Volume Twelve
Volume Thirteen
Volume Fourteen
Volume Fifteen
Volume Sixteen
Volume Seventeen
Volume Eighteen
Volume Nineteen

Lake of Nine - God of War (PS4)


SuperPhillip Central's Game of 2018, God of War features some truly impressive level design (well, technically, area design), but nothing most fascinated and impressed me than the area positioned right smack dab in the middle of the game's map, the Lake of Nine.

Other than the tremendous scope of the Lake of Nine--which to itself is a monumental and mind-blowing feat--the aspect of this aquatic area that I love the most is how it evolves over the course of Kratos and Atreus's adventure. This is seen as the water level drops more and more throughout the game, revealing not only new locations to explore on the lake, but also new entrances to previously accessed areas.


The Lake of Nine itself is littered with appealing points of interest, places to scour for treasure, areas to uncover and complete side quests, and so much more. Just how astonishingly expansive the Lake of Nine grows from its already amazing size and scope when Kratos and Atreus first arrive at the location to the end of the game makes for superb execution of smart, well planned out level design. That makes the Lake of Nine a tremendous location in one of the best games of this generation of gaming platforms.

Hyrule Castle - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (NSW, Wii U)


Going from SuperPhillip Central's Game of 2018 to SuperPhillip Central's Game of 2017, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has too much greatness in it to mention just one section of the game, but if I had to choose my personal favorite, it would have to be infiltrating Hyrule Castle in order to defeat Calamity Ganon.


Hyrule Castle can famously be visited at any point in Link's adventure--even after getting off the tutorial area of Breath of the Wild, the Great Plateau. Of course, reaching the throne room where Calamity Ganon resides is considerably no easy task, much more even surviving the several boss battles foolhardy players would encounter if they went directly to Hyrule Castle. Nonetheless, it is very much possible (though incredibly difficult) to beat the game as soon as Link exits the Great Plateau.


And that's what makes The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild so great--the freedom of the game. Much like the overall structure of Breath of the Wild, Hyrule Castle is completely open to explore, and you can reach the throne room a myriad of ways--whether it's meandering around the perimeter, around the outside and indoors of the castle, to simply calling upon Revali's Gale a couple of times to reach the castle's top and do battle with Calamity Ganon immediately. The tense music only further drives home how absolutely dire the situation at the castle is and how much is at stake.


The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild's Hyrule Castle is a complex and sensational final destination for players, and the many ways one can go about taking it on is in the sensational spirit of freedom within the overall game.

New Donk City Festival - Super Mario Odyssey (NSW)


After all of the hubbub from Bowser's unwelcome arrival and subsequent assault on Super Mario Odyssey's New Donk City, Mayor Pauline asks of Mario to round up the members of her band for a special performance. This performance is a cherry on top of one of the best levels within Super Mario Odyssey, and creates a magical Super Mario experience all in one. It's the New Donk City Festival.


Here, fireworks explode in the bright, festive nighttime background of New Donk City as Mario takes a nostalgic trip back in time to his Donkey Kong-defeating days, as the citizens he saved in the city cheer him on. This is all the while the super-catchy "Jump Up, Super Star!" plays, the main theme of Super Mario Odyssey.


In a delightful display, Mario enters a warp pipe and finds him from his three-dimensional self into his old 2D form. The goal of this level is to make it through each 2D room--some of which wrap around the sides of New Donk City's skyscrapers--and reach Pauline at the very top to be rewarded with a Grand Moon for all of Mario's efforts. It's a perfect presentation and display of just how special Super Mario Odyssey can be. Even after multiple play-throughs of this specific section of Super Mario Odyssey, I find myself smiling from ear to ear while platforming through the New Donk City Festival.

Tomb Wader - Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC)


We go to a game series that was once a bitter rival to Mario, and that's Crash Bandicoot. It's just absolutely wild that the original PlayStation trilogy's remakes were brought to the Switch for Nintendo fans to play. I absolutely could not imagine that growing up during the "Listen up, plumber boy" days of Nintendo vs. PlayStation.

Regardless, coming from Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped within the Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy is the Tomb Wader level, a clever pun on Lara Croft's series. Speaking of things that are clever, Tomb Wader as a level itself presents Crash with a temple trial with rising and lowering water at specific intervals at specific parts of the level, requiring Crash to stay safely above the water or else drown. There are also doors to be opened by performing a spin maneuver into wooden wheels, enemies with shields that must be defeated with a slide or else they're otherwise impenetrable, and even possesses a Death Path for those who survive until the halfway point of the level.

Tomb Wader is an exceptionally fun and creative level within Crash Bandicoot 3 that brings a clever mechanic that doesn't overstay its welcome. While a punishing level for those who wish to rush through it, Tomb Wader makes for a wild and wet ride from beginning to end.

Fly Me to the Moon - LEGO City Undercover (NSW, PS4, XB1, PC, Wii U)


The final mission of LEGO City Undercover, the game I easily place on my list of best LEGO games, Fly Me to the Moon is an interstellar missions that takes place in outer space--more specifically, the moon and a space base.


What can you say about a level that has you platforming and solving puzzles in low gravity, doing battle in Aliens-style mech suits against Rex Fury, facing off against said boss on top of a gigantic piece of falling space debris that slowly rips asunder as it approaches the earth, and ending in an epic free-fall towards Earth with haunting choir music playing? Is this a LEGO game or Mass Effect here!? Anyhoo--I know what you can say about a level that has all of this awesomeness in it--it's absolutely astounding.


Fly Me to the Moon is a memorable mission that hyped me from beginning to end, and it was a exciting exclamation point to a solid open world game in LEGO City Undercover. If you're looking for a great, original LEGO game, LEGO City Undercover is such a game--and is at the top of its heap.

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