• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.

IGN: Top 10 Best Super Mario Levels of All Time


NeoGAFs Kent Brockman

After 36 years, there have been a lot of Mario games, with hundreds of levels between them and most of them are pretty great. So we decided it was time to comb through the treasure trove of stages and poll our entire staff to find out which levels have stood the test of time better than all the rest.

Please note, while certain members of the staff championed to include wonderful levels from games like Paper Mario, and even Super Mario World 2 (which is undoubtedly part of the Yoshi series), we opted to stick with games from the main series So expect to see levels from Super Mario 64, Super Mario Odyssey, Super Mario Sunshine, and even Super Mario Bros. for NES!

The Best Mario Levels Ever​

For 36 years, the Mario franchise has produced countless games with hundreds of levels, and most of them are considered to be great. However, there are some levels that have stood the test of time better than others. In this article, we will be combing through the treasure trove of stages and pulling out the best Mario levels ever created.

Bowser's Fury​

Bowser's Fury is a new addition to the Mario series, but there is no denying that it is something really special. It is one part new school 3D exploration-based Mario adventure and one part old school Mario platforming charm. You explore one giant map where you seamlessly migrate between levels and challenges. It feels like the next big thing for Mario, and while it's true that games like Sunshine, Odyssey, and even 64 have been described as open world, this is on a whole new level.

Donut Plains 1 (Super Mario World)​

When we think of the Mario franchise, the first thing that comes to mind is Donut Plains 1. Grabbing that first feather and realizing that the cape would let you fly was nothing short of revolutionary and turned everything we thought we knew about Mario on its ear. Mix this with the catchy steel drums and tuba soundtrack, secret exits, and bonus block puzzles, and you've got a template for not only the rest of Super Mario World but a great evolution of the structure of a Mario level. There are more complex levels in Super Mario World, but Donut Plains 1 is a shining example of a game teaching you its own rules and how to break them to perfection.

Sunken Ghost Ship (Super Mario World)​

Another level from Super Mario World, the Sunken Ghost Ship, is no normal level by any means. Sitting isolated in The Waters at the center of Dinosaur Island, the stage combines the foreboding atmosphere of Super Mario World's ghost houses with clever references to Super Mario 3's airships, which have been noticeably absent in this world. Though somewhat short, its vast hordes of underwater booze that literally fill the screen make for a lasting impact, as does the subtle storytelling of falling down a seemingly bottomless void with no traditional goal post in sight to raise the gaping jaws of a giant Stone Bowser up from the depths. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better introduction to a final boss's secret lair.

Giant Land (Super Mario Bros. 3)​

The levels in Super Mario Bros. 3 are full of clever ideas and fun surprises, but perhaps the biggest surprise (pun intended) occurs the moment you enter World 4-1. In this level, the enemies, blocks, pipes, and clouds are just enormous and about four times bigger than usual. The first time you play this level, you probably had no idea the game could even do this. What's great with Giant Land, though, is the strength of all great Mario levels. It offers a perfect combination of surprise and delight. It has the same precise and satisfying Mario gameplay, but in a creative new package that can make even the most veteran players crack a smile.

Bianco Hills (Super Mario Sunshine)​

Super Mario Sunshine made a daring choice with its setting, a tropical island divided into individually themed biomes all centered around a relaxing vacation gone wrong. Bianco Hills is easily the most iconic of these, especially as it's the first level you visit. This believable, pleasant little Pianta town invites the player to test out our new flood capabilities throughout its multiple layers. There's a town side and a Lakeside, ground areas, water, and aerial bouncing wires that allow you to climb and climb and climb. What's more, its topography changes from episode to episode as new areas become available, adding to the challenge and variety of gameplay. The game's art style is bright and colorful, with cute and quirky character designs. The game also features a dynamic soundtrack that changes based on the player's actions and movements. Overall, Balancelot offers a fun and unique take on the platformer genre, with challenging gameplay, charming graphics, and an engaging soundtrack.


Jim Ryan Fanclub's #1 Member
This stage will be always in my mind and heart

and also




1-2 for me. Taking what you gained from the first level and running with it e.g. music kicks in, fireball some dudes, the game gets dark, tricks everywhere with warp rewards and pathing for gaming the game. Endlessly replayable with nuances each replay e.g. linear fashion, go coin runss, hidden blocks, warp zones, classic platforming and really the sum of its parts just excels this level beyond anything to withstand the test of time. It's the real basis of the game, 1-1 is a tutorial. 1-2 is where the fun really starts and the player gets choices to lay the foundation for the rest of the game.



Gold Member
I need to re-play Odyssey, so much good stuff in that game.

There are a lot of Galaxy levels I love. Beach Bowl Galaxy has always stuck with me for some reason.

Gusty Garden is fantastic as well. Also love Puzzle Plank from Galaxy 2.

Loads of good stuff in Mario 64. I’m not big on Sunshine, but there’s some great stuff in there as well.
Top Bottom