Thursday, June 1, 2017

Blast to the Past - Top Ten 3D Super Mario Levels

It's been over a whole year (and an extra month and half a week) since I posted my favorite levels on the 3D Mario games. And since it's a Thursday, I thought I might do a little throwback out of total boredom. But here, I've decided to change things up a bit with both my photos, all while adding more detailed descriptions on my entries on the countdown since it basically hasn't changed. Whether or not you feel there's a point to re-post this when there's no change in it whatsoever, I thought I might also look back on my favorite levels of the 3D games before the next installment on the Nintendo Switch; Super Mario Odyssey finally hits stores from around the world, so there's more than enough reasons for me to look back on one of my favorite posts I've ever had fun making. Without further delay, let's now look back on my favorite levels of the series...

I tend to enjoy a lot of lava or fire-themed levels in video games like Metroid Prime's Magmoor Caverns and especially the Fire Temple of Ocarina of Time. With Mario however, there's a lot I can enjoy so much. While I could've gone with 64's Lethal Lava Land, or Galaxy 2's Melty Monster Galaxy, I chose Melty Molten Galaxy of the first Super Mario Galaxy for it's more challenging missions, and Fiery Dino Piranha boss battle. There is of course the rolling ball section that could often drive you to insanity what with the annoying controls of only tilting the Wii Remote around and around while avoiding giant holes in the rotating tunnel of lava, but other missions like the galaxy's boss, and planets where you either have to climb a giant spire to get one of the level's stars, or even the starting planet what with the big volcano at least make up for that. A small planet of Thwomps and a U Tower planet also add to the level's creativeness, not to mention a Hungry Luma that can form into a Lava Sea Planet (where you collect five Silver Star pieces to collect one of the level's stars) when fed enough bits, but that's not to say the rest of Mario's lava levels throughout the series (and the franchise in general) are bad as pretty much any level with that theme is good.

The level's music is especially epic and more than backs all of Melty Molten Galaxy's cool factor, so there's more to a great level than just how fun it is to play throughout.

Snow levels have to have the most beautiful environments of their respective games they come from, and this fifth level of 3D World's sixth world is no exception. You begin the level platforming on a snowy mountain, avoiding being blown off by big Ty-Foos in the process. And I strongly suggest you hitch a ride in a big Ice Skate by defeating the Goombas riding in them first before collecting the green stars and the stamp within the level because they involve platforms with spikes that pop out often (fast or slow), and you wouldn't want to lose your power-up while making your way through the level (not to mention having to risk your spare power-up just to survive random enemy attacks from the ice skating Goombas). And prepare to encounter annoying walleyes along the way as well cause while they are annoying enough to try and block your path, they're pathetically easy to get past when you quickly run the opposite direction of them (just like tricking Wallops in Super Mario 3D Land by jumping up right before you make your way around them).

Its music is beautiful too, but it IS a remix of the Snow Theme from 3D Land however so that really isn't say much. Whichever version you prefer of the song, you're still to get a kick out of the levels the theme itself plays in. Enough's been said about this awesome level from me, so let's move on...

Pinna Park is easily the best level of possibly the most divisive game of the whole franchise of Mario in general; although that really isn't saying much either. But getting back to the level itself, Pinna Park is the very best for many reasons I think any of you can name by now. The Mecha-Bowser boss battle, the secret hidden within the Yoshi-Go-Around, those spinning ship rides, the Ferris wheel that spins around like crazy during the level's 5th mission to collect the Shine Sprite, and the catchy music that plays when you enter the park. The second and fourth missions aren't as interesting as the rest since that's when the park's closed and you instead have to either help a bunch of sunflowers, or defeat a monty mole in a cannon, but all other good things considered, this Disneyland of Mario levels is a bundle of fun from start to finish.

I'd just like to forget about those cutscenes both before and after you fight Mecha-Bowser because based on the dreadful dialogue and acting, they're nothing but cringe-worthy and unwatchable on a personal level.

Chain Chomps are some of the most frustrating enemies in Mario history, and it's not hard to see why; they chase and bark at you like a ferocious dog, and they rang in different sizes (from large to small) - not to mention sometimes you can't defeat them (at least depending on which Mario game you're playing)... With Chompworks Galaxy however, they can be useful to help you get from one galaxy to another. It does lose a few points of awesomeness for that annoying Spring Mushroom mission to get the second star, but when you have to guide a Golden Chomp to another hole by activating platforms for a short time (to either rise up or drop down briefly) to get a star on a chomp-shaped planet, you have something innovative within this level to look at.

The level's music track tends to be a bit overshadowed, but by no means does that diminish the galaxy's "awesome" factor. Still, with or without the Spring Mushroom power up, I just can't help but give Chompworks Galaxy a major honor for 3D Super Mario level.

Circuses are so much fun to attend (even though I've never had the chance to, but I'm sure to experience one someday), and the same can be said for playing a lot of particular levels in games of various genres. With Tricky Trapeze Theater in World 5 of Super Mario 3D World however, there's more than enough fun to be had. There are plenty of enemies that populate part of the level; from those electric Fizzlits appearing just before a bunch trapezes that you must swing on to make it through the level, to over a dozen Piranha Plants on a big platform (that spins around very slowly) after you reach the Flagpoint - which you can defeat them all very quickly by grabbing the Mega Mushroom in the middle of the rotating platform in a hidden block, there's more than enough excitement to feel when playing through this funland.

With even a song that varies its tune depending on where you progress in the level as you eventually reach the end, its hard not to enjoy listening to the music track itself. What more do you need to make such a colorful and innovative level that's pure eye candy so good?

Even if I'm more of a kid than I am a full grown adult, toys are so much fun to play with and look back on. You have toy trains you must board when you start (at least) the first mission of the level, another giant Mecha-Bowser you must climb to the top of and destroy to get the very first power star, and an 8-bit Mario Bros. planet consisting of a lava-tiled Mario sided with a poison water-tiled Luigi where you either collect five silver stars or collect 100 purple coins (each for a power star obviously). And though we also have another lame Undergrunt Gunner for a boss fight (that fires electricity instead of water bubbles) after the first one in Golden Leaf Galaxy, there's still more charm and awesomeness to it even if the Spring Mushroom sections feel just as annoying as the rest of the same thing throughout both Galaxy games.

The music track - acting as another remix of the main Super Mario Bros. theme, may not be anything new (which also happens to be remixed a little more in Supermassive Galaxy in the preceding game), but with more awesome missions and so much exploration throughout them, it's just so much fun to play. Man, just talking about this makes me wanna go play Super Mario Galaxy again right now!

One of the very first few levels/galaxies of the game, Yoshi Star Galaxy is a high entry on this list since you get to play with my favorite character since he comes in handy at anytime you saddle on him. Although you may not get to squirt juice from the adorable dinosaur, nor do a high jump after two straight jumps doing three in a row on the last one like Super Mario Sunshine, you still get to use Yoshi's handy tongue to grab things like all the big berries (to collect more star bits...obviously), swing off Flower Grapples, and obviously swallow enemies. With another fun boss fight consisting of Giga Lakitu (who looks very similar to that of Lakithunder from the first New Super Mario Bros. game), even if the boss himself gets a little frustrating on the last hit, and a fun mission of taking out tons of Spinies via an invincibility Rainbow Star (within a time limit... not surprisingly), it just makes it hard for me not to enjoy this second level of Super Mario Galaxy 2.

The green stars you have to collect in a random area, as with every last level before the Grandmaster Galaxy at the end of the game, are completely nonsensical no matter how much it's required to complete the game, but with fun missions, another awesome song that seems as bouncy as Super Mario World (and its music), a fun boss battle, and of course Yoshi himself, Yoshi Star Galaxy is just impossible to dislike as a level...

I always seem to have a thing for rainbows and the most colorful levels ever in gaming. And while it's not entirely something like that of Mario Kart's Rainbow Road tracks, Rainbow Run, acting as the very first level of the special world, is certainly a blast to play through. When you start it off with traveling down a path of colorful yarns that resemble a rainbow, you have something clearly special on your hands to say the very least. With all three green stars to collect, you start with the first one by climbing up a wall, assuming you're powered up with a Cat Bell, to a room where you must revenuer balls to goals on each side of the room with two different P-Switches. After you ride Plessie across a pool with colorful panels at the bottom, you must fire up two torches with fireballs via a Fire Flower, then be blasted out of a cloud canon and light up a ton a floor tiles in order reveal an 8-bit Link of The Legend of Zelda series to get the second green star. And after activating the Green Star ring, you must collect all eight green coins (much like red coins in both 64 and Sunshine) in order to get the last. Hands down another great moment in the level comes from a coin shower that allows you collect any coins you can grab whenever you're under it (I know it's impossible to get all of them, but it's still cool)

The song that plays in it is yet another Super Mario Bros. theme remix that also plays in two other retro-themed levels in 3D Land, but with tons of coins, a colorful layout, and a sprite that pays homage to The Legend of Zelda series as I said, there's no way you CAN'T have fun playing this stage.

And here we have my favorite level from my favorite video game of all time, let alone that of the plumber. Tiny-Huge Island may take place on the same island with the only difference being the size of them both when jumping in the warp pipes scattered around the level, but by no means is it not good fun. The enemies themselves obviously range from big to small as well depending on which island you jump to from pipe to pipe, there's that tunnel near the top of the island with a giant Wiggler for a boss, there are secrets hidden throughout the smaller part of the island that lead up to another power star, and there's even Koopa the Quick in the third mission whom you must beat once again after the first time (on the second mission to obtain a power star) in Bom-omb Battlefield. It's all very satisfying to be stomping on your enemies and trouncing them, huge or tiny, and even with the red coin mission in Wiggler's cave, you're sure to be having lots of fun completing the level with all it's missions of power stars.

Not surprisingly (at least nowadays it isn't), it's the level with the most coins to collect at a high score (with a total of 192 if you count two invisible coins you collect in a particular sense or two), and that backs up more than enough of the Tiny-Huge Island's "awesome" factor. Insert the same catchy song that plays in a few other levels (besides Bom-omb Battlefield of course) beforehand into the mix...

Before I get to my top pick, here a few

No surprise that neither my top favorite level nor any of these entries on my countdown (as I said), let alone my Number 1 haven't changed even in the slightest, right? But looking back on my favorite level of the 3D Super Mario games only (go figure), I can still enjoy playing it. I pretty much love everything about Space Junk Galaxy to be precise; its missions consisting of even more boss battles (between both a giant spider-like Scuttlebug Tarantox, and a big purple female Magikoopa Kamella) and a bunch of pull stars that help get you from planet to planet - insert some awesome cosmic comet missions into the level also (consisting of both collecting purple coins in one mission, and a speed run on the other). Add to that the planets you platform on, like a rocket, and those planets shaped like a T, or even that inner, glassy, crystal orb-surfaced maze - which, by the way, also features a Hungry Luma who will transform into a planet the shape of Yoshi's head filled to the brim with furious Goombas that you must take out in order to nab another secret power star.

Let's also add that its song is very beautiful and soothing so much that it fits the beauty of space perfectly (which I myself wish I could experience the depth of space someday), it's replayable what with all the fun missions besides just the bosses and the comet stars, has enough calming environments within all the planets you platform on, with or without the small amount of enemies you can defeat while progressing, and makes you feel as if you yourself are really in space when you're so gripped on it. So with every great thing I just mentioned about it, it all adds up to my favorite level of the 3D games in the main Super Mario series even to this day,...and I'll just have to see if something from Super Mario Odyssey later on this year can beat it out.

Do you agree with my picks?
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