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Awesome: Video Game Levels N To S
aka: Video Game Levels N-S
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    Necrovision 
  • This game is possibly the only First Person Shooter that lets you fly on a dragonnote . And it is amazing.

    Need for Speed 

    Net Hack 
  • The Castle. To begin with, the architecture is a welcome change from the seemingly endless dungeon maze above it (and a bit of a relief after the tense fight with Medusa). The drawbridge can be opened by playing a musical game of Mastermind (or just blowing it up, your choice), and inside you will find dozens and dozens of soldiers and a handful of dragons, all of which you should be well equipped to handle by this point. Once you've cut your way through the horde, you will find plenty of treasure, including a guaranteed Wand of Wishing...and a trapdoor that leads to Hell and the rest of the game.

    Nights Into Dreams 
  • NiGHTS Into Dreams: Twin Seeds, the game's final 'Dream'. Brilliant throughout, but the very beginning features a moment where the player's character is thrown away from the Ideya Palace by Wiseman, leaving them stranded on a small island at the levels edge, floating thousands of feet above the city and completely cut off from NiGHTS, with whom the characters join in order to fly. The player is given no more clues as to what they're supposed to do. What's required? The player must, of their own realisation, make a leap of faith from the island's edge. At that point, the character will fall, and disappear out of sight, the music dies, and for all intents and purposes the game appears to be about to go Night Over. .. And then with a sudden, violent revival of a far brighter bgm, the character comes swooping back up into the air, flying under their own power, having finally gathered the confidence and faith to fly alone. And then, at level's end, the second character meets the player's, unexpectedly joining together two apparently disconnected plotlines as Eliot and Claris work in unison to free NiGHTS and go on to fight Wiseman. This happens entirely in gameplay, without a word of dialogue or hint of a cut-scene, effectively dragging the player straight in alongside their character.
    • Bellbridge from the sequel. Best results come from playing Helen's story first. While the beginning of the stage isn't nearly as dramatic as Twin Seeds, there is just before the third course of the level...The lights go out...Helen screams...Her red ideya is taken from her, and she falls...only to be saved by Will as the city lights up again, and the two of them fly the last course together as the musical embodiment of The Power Of Love plays. But if you play Will's story first, it's less breathtaking and more odd and out of nowhere.
    • NiGHTS is actually Sega's interpretation of the psyche. Each level representing a corner of the mind. Twin Seeds (the Growth) is the character realising they no longer need the Renegade Nightmaren Jester to hold their hand and dualize anymore. The "jumping to your doom" part is probably either belief that one can do it on their own, or just remorseful suicide. It's also here that Claris and Elliot first properly meet each other, despite Visitors (dreaming humans) are supposed to be isolated.
    • Christmas NiGHTS also had Sonic the Hedgehog's first 3D Debut (Sonic: into Dreams), with Sonic performing the goals with running. The boss? Eggman imitating the Puffy boss.

    Nintendo Wars series 
  • Battalion Wars 2 has Operation Nautilus. The first part is a navy war where you must sink a Dreadnaught, a few Frigates, and several Submarines and Battleships, with a limited number of your own vessels. The second part is a simple battle through infantry, static turrets, and helicopters. All this while good music plays in the background.
    • In Advance Wars 2, the Great Sea Battle. The battle will typically be extremely long (will usually go for hours), and it could have easily been the scrappy level with all the Black Cannons and the game breaker factory on the enemy side. However, the way the three allied armies work together and the intense satisfaction that comes when the level is finally defeated, makes it the Crowning Level of Awesome.
    • Battalion Wars has Call Sign Eagle where you play as Air Cover and you get to pwn everything flying with a Strato Destroyer
    • Also the Tundran Bonus Level with the Heavy Tanks and the badass Missile Vet with Sputnik on his back

     Nippon Ichi Games 
  • Pretty much any level with a sports theme.
    • In Disgaea, there is a baseball level where the entire opposing team are Prinny, who are perfectly positioned to be thrown into each other to explode.
    • In Makai Kingdom, There is a soccer level, with two teams of enemies who will attack each other, and you.

    No More Heroes 
  • In No More Heroes, Bad Girl may be That One Boss for some, but the level leading up to her is pure fun. Not only do you get to take your motorcycle over sweet jumps, but the whole mission takes an absurd comic tone when you drive your bike onto the baseball field and mow down mooks for five minutes straight while getting rah-rah music and a chorus chanting "SPORTS! ...SPORTS! ...SPORTS!"
  • The stage before the Rank 4 fight with Margaret in the sequel, when you're in the Supermarket parking lot. Some people get bored with fighting countless foes. More enemies mean a better chance to turn into a tiger, though.
  • The Letz Shake level in the first game. A nothing level, basically, but it introduced us to MISTER SIR HENRY MOTHERFUCKER.

    Novastorm 
  • Novastorm, in which the first level of the last act had all its action perfectly timed to a techno beat that was made of Awesome. Closing bay doors, waves of enemies, high-speed flybys of space architecture, and it just keeps getting better right up to the end.

    Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan/Elite Beat Agents 

    Pac-Man World 
  • Pac-Man World 2 gave us Blade Mountain. When you're not going for 100% Completion on it, it goes from being one of the That One Level to one of the most fun in the game. You ice skate down a mountain at high speeds with menacing music to back you up. It gets even better when you go soaring through the air off of ramps, especially during the extremely long jump at the end of the level.

    Painkiller 
  • Painkiller, the spiritual successor of Doom, was praised for its levels. In particular the levels "City on the water", which was a remake of Venice, "The Haunted Monastery" the last level before the best level in the game: Hell. Hell was composed out of pieces of the game up to that point. Which made it the celebration of all the good leveldesign.
  • The Bridge also qualifies.
    • And the final boss battle took place inside a nuclear explosion!

    Pang Ya 
  • Silvia Cannon in Pang Ya, a golf course set on a freaking battleship fleet.
    • The Ice courses. Icy slopes = huge Overdrive bonuses + Super Pang multiplier = massive Pang.

    Panzer Dragoon 
  • Panzer Dragoon Orta: "Eternal Glacies". That beautiful snowfallen landscape accompanied by some gorgeous brass instrumentation; the moment before the boss fight where Orta's dragon regenerates his wings; and a reprise of "Ancient Weapon 1", one of the best boss songs Sega has ever composed.
    • Compared to the "Gigantic Fleet" immediately preceding? Hah! Single-handedly destroying swathes of imperial battleships in full 3D air-combat, taking down largescale attack-platforms AND the enormous mothership, all to the sound of grandiose war-music. And all capped off by an epic second boss battle against the Dragonmare squadron.

    Phantasy Star 
  • Phantasy Star IV has several awesome levels that manage to look downright gorgeous despite their outdated graphics, including...
    • Garuberk Tower, a Womb Level that manages to be surprisingly off-putting even by the standards of that trope.
    • Kuran Station, where you can see the stars outside the windows, pick up some awesome weapons, and have your first glorious fight with Dark Force.
    • Rykros, a planet that can't be seen without an artefact fans of the series will have met before, where everything is made from crystal and home to some of the hardest enemies and nicest equipment in the game, along with the Best Optional Boss Ever.
    • The Abyss where the final boss lurks, a howling vortex of bright colours, deep darkness, and the random chance to run into a feckin' evil foe who is actually HARDER than every boss barring the Profound Darkness herself.
    • Even Birth Valley has its moments, being the moment the game goes from "fairly standard if entertaining fantasy" to "epic science-fantasy that will send you across the entire system and end with a seriously awesome final boss who can and will kick your ass".
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 has its fair share of memorable fields, a firm favorite among most players being the subterranean tunnels of Lillipa, which is crawling with a wide array of mechanical baddies, all in preparation against the universally adored boss of the game, Big Vardha.

    Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney 
  • Not only is the first case in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials And Tribulations long and very well written, it's also connected to the fourth and fifth cases of the same game, which are also awesome in their own right.
    • The fifth case that was the most awesome of Awesome Levels: where we get to play as Edgeworth.
    • There are multiple reasons that can be listed for why the last case of the trilogy is awesome but but twigging the identity of the murderer was a real "oh snap" moment.
    • Not to mention the truth of what was going on with Iris. The HSQ was high with this case.
  • The fourth case of the first game. Taking down Manfred von Karma was more satisfying than any other villain. Especially as he has been standing on the other side of the courtroom, throwing objections at you for the last three days.
  • The fourth case of Justice For All. Nail-biting suspense, far more so than almost any other case.
  • The fifth case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. It featured two Ice Queens, tied in a brutal serial killer, and you get to deconstruct about half the cast, including Police Chief Gant, from jovial joker to asshole of the highest calibur. The various tragedies throughout the case make the victory and resolution all the better. Watch it fully acted here.
  • The fourth case of Investigations is in the running for the canon fans, since it's a flashback to before Edgeworth even began prosecuting and features the world's most unexpected cameo from Manfred von Karma.
  • The second case of the first game counts just for the ending, where all seems lost until Mia returns from the dead for the first time, to point out a crucial piece of evidence Phoenix had overlooked. This allows you to actually walk into the courtroom knowing exactly what to do to take down the defendant, a quite goosebump-inducing moment.
  • From Dual Destinies, the Mood Matrix sequences of Simon Blackquill and the Phantom. The former starts relatively normally, but ends up with noise levels increasing as the witness piles lies on top of lies in response, and ends with an outright contradiction pointed out and every emotion overloading at once! The latter is less epic, but the gameplay is truly brilliant, involving all emotions pulsing intermittently as that witness tries to control their emotions. It feels like a personal Moment Of Awesome for the player when you finally spot the odd emotion.

    Point Blank 

    Pokémon 
  • The Distortion World from Pokémon Platinum. The laws of physics do not apply here, fool.
    • Heck, Mt. Coronet in any of the Gen. IV games is worthy in its own right. Climbing up a snowy mountain with great atmospheric music, taking down Galactic Grunts, and when you get to the top, a double battle fighting alongside your rival.
      • In Platinum, they introduced wild Absol to this area. So while the plot is rushing towards its climax, you can take some time out to grab youself one of the best-looking Gen. III Pokémon as well.
  • Silph Co. from the original Pokémon Red and Blue/Yellow. Awesome music, set-up, and tons of battles, including against your rival and Giovanni.
  • The Sevii Islands from Pokémon FR/LG, particularly the ones after the Elite Four. Seeing all of those gen II Pokémon for the first time alone makes these islands amazing, but they're also absolutely beautiful.
  • Pokémon Gold and Silver, second half - so, you beat the eight Gym Leaders, you trounce the Elite Four, and are thinking "Okay, so what now?". You go back to Kanto three years after the first generation, get all the badges, and fight Red, the main character from the first generation. That's great until you realize you can't go to the Safari Zone, Silph Co, or Seafoam Islands. Not to mention there's no story to follow in GS Kanto, no Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres, or Mewtwo, and the Gym Leaders are all underleveled. Enter HeartGold and SoulSilver, where many first generation areas have been re-added, the Gen. I legendaries can be caught, the Gym Leaders can be re-fought at higher levels, and a new Safari Zone has been added. Awesome.
  • From Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia, we have the Cargo Ship (no relation to the trope). First of all, until this mission everything has been small scale for you, mainly beating on some Dim Sun punks who're messing around with the Pokémon in Pueltown or digging in the cliffs for no readily apparent reason. Now, you're boarding the cargo ship that they've been using to kidnap Pokémon - and your leader, Barlow! - from. You get on, awesome music begins to play, and then you work your way around the ship, freeing captured Pokémon, defeating goons, and rescuing your leader, who smashes down a door for you and joins you for the rest of the mission. You finally get to the deck, and learn that the captain of this ship is none other than a teacher from the Ranger School, Mr. Kincaid! He sends a wave of minions at you and Barlow, which you both fend off. He then calls in a second wave, but Barlow decides to go after Kincaid himself, who summons a Drapion to attack. After you beat the second wave, you find that Barlow has lost, and get to take on the Drapion yourself, which is a Awesome Boss with Awesome Music as well as the first boss major enough to get a mugshot+title. But it doesn't stop there! Kincaid responds to his loss by ordering the ship sunk; he escapes by summoning a Gliscor which he flies away on, leaving you and Barlow on the ship with many captured Pokémon and only a few minutes before it sinks. While you do your best to stop the water flow, Barlow steers the ship and eventually runs it into the pier near the school, saving everyone. While you (and the rest of your team, who arrived at the crash site) ponder whether Barlow survived or not, Barlow himself answers that question by climbing up on the highest point of the wrecked ship triumphantly, stiking a Victory Pose and telling you "Mission Clear!"
  • From the third Ranger game, we get Blue Eyes' submarine. After an intense Chase Scene to even reach it, you slowly work your way towards the sub's control room, where Blue Eyes sends a Feraligatr to fight you. Shortly afterwards, you learn that there's a third Pokémon Pincher leader. Then the grunts decide to activate Plan Z. Cue an escape level (alongside Blue Eyes, no less) from a quickly-sinking submarine that's taking on water, and fast.
  • In Pokémon Black and White, the final segment after getting the eighth badge is unbelievably epic. First, you travel through Route 10, which combines Scenery Porn with Awesome Music. Then, you arrive at the badge check gates, where you can walk on air among other things. Finally, you arrive at Victory Road, which takes the form of a large mountain, with cliff faces you can slide down. Next, you reach the Elite Four tower, which actually lets you choose the order you fight the Elite Four! Then, you have an epic walk up to a temple where Alder resides, only to find Alder defeated by N! Suddenly, a huge castle emerges from the ground! You climb to the castle, and learn the darker side of Team Plasma, then climb to the final floor, followed by an epic Boss Rush where you fight your version legendary, N, and Ghetsis, before an epic ending. Truly one of the best Pokémon conclusions ever.
    • Also has Relic Castle, when visited later in the game. Has cool ghost type Pokemon, and in the end, you find a Volcarona, a powerful Bug/Fire type that can actually learn fly.
    • Giant Chasm, one of the post areas and has a good variety of old gen Pokemon, such as Dittos, Metangs or even Metagrosses. The effect is greater when played in any season other than winter. Especially the Summer. Because when you make your way through the cave, there's an opening that leads to a forest. And it's snowing all over. Regardless of the season.
  • Citadark Isle, The Very Definitely Final Dungeon of Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness. The previous game's final dungeon was just a shiny tower. This is a massive, half-constructed criminal complex situated atop an active volcano. It has rematches with nearly every boss in the game, it has tons of Mooks with variable Shadow Pokémon, they are happy to show you how Dangerously Genre Savvy the Cipher organization is, and at the top you fight the Big Bad who has not one but four corrupted LEGENDARY POKÉMON serving him, and all while one of the most underrated and awesome final dungeon tracks in history plays.
  • In Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, the entire second half of the game can qualify, from the moment you've defeated your father's gym. You get to start surfing, and so it begins. You start finding all of the cooler locations for secret bases, and the scope becomes a lot wider.
    • The second-half is also seen as a Disappointing Last Level for some due to having to traverse the large water routes all mushed together forming one giant ocean after departing Lilycove City; spanning the final two badges and the Pokémon League. Not to mention, surfing was slow and having to deal with Goddamned Bats in the form of Tentacool and Wingull if you didn't stock up on plenty of Repels.
  • Pokémon Emerald however, went to great lengths to fix this flaw regarding the later portions of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. Not only does Team Magma actually have a new volcano hideout that better suits them over the Lilycove base, and surfing became a breeze due to a major speed increase. Not to mention, it's this game that first implemented the Battle Frontier; one of THE best end-game features ever added to a pokemon franchise.
  • The Pokémon World Tournament in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, which lets you battle nearly every gym leader and champion from the previous games along the line.

    pop'n Music 

    Portal 
  • "The Weighted Companion Cube will accompany you throughout the test chamber."
    • Testchamber 19 is pretty swell as well. While the game has been slowly stripping away its clean, lab experiment facade, 19 rips it right open. You go through the observation chambers, cube-dispensing vents, offices, and a massive turret ambush until you reach GLaDOS, who is a very fun boss that dispenses some of her best monologue (that's saying something) in the game.
      • Really, this is all after Testchamber 19 proper. It's really the entire second half of the game.
    • The best part of Chamber 19 (aside from the boss battle, of course) is the big turret ambush room. Of everything in the game, it shows the most useful aspects of the portal gun as you use it to ambush the turrets who were supposed to ambush you by portaling in behind them and gleefully tipping them over the edge. And once you're done with that, you get to fling yourself happily about in the single largest space in the game. Whee!
    • Portal 2 has several Levels of Awesome as well, of course. The first part of the second act (the old levels, up to the point where you open the first giant door) has beautifully done atmosphere, both boss battles (especially that last one...sheer lunacy.), and any and every level involving repulsion and propulsion gels.
    • There's also experiment room 16 with the most sighted-turrets of any other, allowing for ridiculous levels of inginuity about how to knock them down.
      • Once, that level was viewed as a Scrappy Level. But if you figure out the shortcut and the trick to aiming it becomes loads of fun for the trials you can avoid.
  • The only thing more fun than blowing up turrets with Frickin' Laser Beams is drenching them in Repulsion Gel to send them careening around the room. Particularly if it's about a dozen or so at once.
  • Your fast-paced escape attempt in Portal 2, from busting out of the test chamber and getting away from GLaDOS's sights, to sabotaging her weapons, to the second boss fight.

    Prince of Persia 
  • The Tower of Dawn, the final level of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, is everything great about the game in one dizzying climb - fast pacing, fun puzzles, fights that are fun without bogging the game down (thanks to your brand-new One-Hit Kill weapon), extra challenge from not being able to rewind time, and Awesome Music.

    Professor Layton 
  • Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, Puzzle #138. where you finally open the Elysian Box as it is meant to. It's not a difficult puzzle at all, but, weird as it sounds, it is a beautiful puzzle. ''"The sun rises when you and I meet, and when the wind blows, you will know my heart."
    • Possibly the best part is how you solve it; After arranging the icons according to the message, for the first and only time, you have to blow into the microphone. Moreover, the game further cements this moment with an unspoken clue: for the first and only time, the music gets softer. Noticeably so. It requires thinking outside the box without being counter-intuitive.

     Project X Zone 

    Psychonauts 
  • The best was probably the Meat Circus, whoever thought of that one is a genius, or the Milkman Conspiracy, which is also full of Funny Moments:
    • Boyd: "I am the milkman, my milk is delicious."
    • Definitely the Meat Circus. What's better than the Moments of Awesome we get from the boss fights in the Funny Game topped with a Tear Jerker ("Is that really how I look in your mind?) and a Heartwarming Moment? Not counting a sequel, that is— but we all know how unlikely that's been looking for the past five years.
  • Also, the level immediately preceding Mikman Conspiracy, an extended kaiju parody: "Lungfishopolis." Seriously, those two levels back-to-back are the funniest part of the game.
  • Entering Edgar's mind is enough to cause a sensory overload of the best kind. It's creative and suitably...artsy, the backstory manages to be both a bit sad and a bit dorky, and much as the alleys are hated, you get the hang of them, and the dialogue, especially surrounding the miniboss and boss fights, definitely makes up for it ("Um, I always...loved you more?").

    Ratchet and Clank 
  • Planet Sargasso in "Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction". Huge level with lots of places to explore, cool enemy designs, access to the second most powerful weapon in the game...and to top it all off, you can use Ratchet's hypnotizing disco ball weapon to force the giant T-Rex style enemies to dance. Complete with waves of their little T-Rex arms.
    • The Robo-Wings alone make Sargasso and Kortog classic levels.

    Rayman 
  • The Rayman 2 level The Precepice. You ran along these thin boardwalks attached to the edge of a cliff face over a huge drop as they fall away behind you...and then the gunship arrives and starts shooting at you and you must work your way around and down the cliff face while staying one step ahead of the cannons and the falling walkway while the games best track plays full blast making you feel really heroic.
    • And then of course the part where you run inside a giant cave followed by a huge fall, with the music changing to a more mysterious track. All this before going back to the chase.
    • The Iron Mountains. You treck through what appears to be one of the Pirates' last strongholds on a mountain, before helicoptering down a flowing river and onto a balloon which takes you to a pirate base. You infiltrate it, ride one of the Shells through the base, free the Globox Kids trapped in there, dodge the giant robot-thingy and make it to a polluted fjord. As you traverse the fjord, you find Globox's wife and a pirate ship which you then use to go on a rescue mission to free the rest of her children! And everytime you rescue a horde of Globox Kids you hear an amazing theme that makes you press forward! It culminates with you getting the last mask you need and ready to attack Razorbeard's Prison Ship at any moment! Immensely satisfying level!
    • Examples from other games could be Allegro Presto in the first (you know sliding is fun!) and the Land of the Livid Dead in the third (a level which includes a magic tower of light and an underwater battle against a giant mechanic tripod).
    • Clearleaf Forest is arguably the best part of Rayman 3. Yes, it's near the beginning, but you get all the fun of having Globox follow you around and comment on everything (he's very funny at times). Added to that is the fact that the enemies aren't so hard that you want to rage quit, but aren't so easy that you can fly through the level. The environments are also very beautiful, and on your first playthough you get to discover the joys of some more of the washing powder power-ups (3 of the 5 are encountered for the first time in Clearleaf Forest). Finally, the boss at the end is simply awesome, and once you defeat him, you get to use his weapon to defeat waves of enemies!
  • Rayman Origins has 10 Tricky Treasure levels that are extremely difficult yet fun. They even unlock a bonus level, The Land of the Livid Dead, in which you'll need to use everything you learned from the game. They're even getting an upgrade in Rayman Legends, where they're played in sync to music.
  • Speaking of Rayman Legends, Castle Rock. It's a level synced perfectly to "Black Betty" by Ram Jam.
    • All the musical levels from that game. Special mention goes to the 8-bit remixes, an extra special mention to the 8-bit Granny's World Tour.

    Repton 
  • Repton 3, originally released for the BBC Micro and now converted for the PC, has a few levels that despite their difficulty are highly regarded amongst fans for their skilful design. These include Oceans H, Africa G, Baby G and Work H. Amongst the PC-only levels, Medieval Level 7 also qualifies.

    Resistance 
  • The final level in Resistance 2 has got to qualify, after taking out a giant, floating, PSYCHIC, evil octopus/alien thing you ditch your gun in favour of your new psychic power, namely being able to explode enemies by gesturing in their general direction. Did I mention this takes place on an enemy hovership that is currently plummeting towards the ground?

    Revelations: The Demon Slayer 
  • Revelations: The Demon Slayer. The raid on the Zord Headquarters. Back to Back Boss Battles. No Space fleas in sight. You're welcome.

    Rez 
  • Area 5 in Rez takes you through the entire history of life from the simplest of single cell organisms, through evolution, extinction, resurgence, and eventually into space, with gradual and appropriate changes in the complexity and themes of the accompanying music, a remix of breakbeat DJ Adam Freeland's Mind Killer. The effect is nothing short of astounding.
    • And it only gets better if you're playing in Direct Assault mode— which is the entire game, in sequence, non-stop. Even though going from the first mooks of Area 1 clear through to the Boss Rush and Puzzle Boss final battles takes only about an hour, it's an Hour of Awesome.

    Ridge Racer 
  • In Rage Racer, after completing the first two classe, the next class introduces the Extreme Oval, a six-lap high-speed oval track. Buy one of the high-speed Assoluto cars and just let loose on the straightaways.
  • R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 has a Spiritual Successor to the Extreme Oval in the form of Shooting Hoops, the final course of GP Mode. When playing it in GP Mode, you get one final new car for the GP with a top speed of at least 180 mph, and the race is set on New Year's Eve of 1999. As you cross the finish line to go into the final lap, the clock strikes midnight and fireworks go off to celebrate the new year.

    Road Rash 64 
  • Beat Down, race 3 of level 4, is the most unique level in the game. It has only six racers (including the player), but it compensates for this by having about ten cops. While it makes it a less-than-extreme level if you simply ride away from the action, the kicker that cements it as the best is that it's not only possible, it's LIKELY that by the time you reach the end ALL of the other racers will have been busted.

    Rocket Robot on Wheels 

    Saints Row 
  • Trojan Horse (and the cutscene half way through) from Saints Row. Driving a Carnales truck you stole earlier into one of their factories, and leaping out with about 10 other men to conquer it. Surprise, motherfuckers!
  • http://deckers.die. From the intro sequence with Kinzie's avatar reboots, to the Text Adventure and Tank sequences, to the boss battle with Matt Miller, EVERYTHING about this mission is perfect, save that you can't revisit the area afterwards.
  • Saints Row IV knows how to start things with Zero Saints Thirty, a parody of contemporary gritty military shooters that culminates in disarming a nuke before it can destroy Washington, all while Aerosmith's Don't Want To Miss a Thing plays.
    • Let's set things straight and let's just say that the entirety of Saints Row IV falls under this trope in some way or another. Wreaking havoc in a simulation of a quiet '50s town? Check. Escaping from an exploding spaceship while blasting out "What is Love" by Haddaway? Check. Going on a rampage on a mecha? Check. Rescuing your friends from their own simulations which capture their primal fears? Check. And so on, and so on...

    Scarface: The World is Yours 
  • The first level of Scarface: The World is Yours, a recreation of the famous final shootout of the original movie. Turning around and blasting the shotgun-wielding thug sneaking up behind Tony (the one that killed him in the finale of the movie)...Few moments are quite as vindicating as that. And then you march through Tony's mansion, gunning down anyone and everyone who dares stand in your way, shooting head, kneecaps, and even balls off the invaders.

    Scott Pilgrim vs. The World 
  • The third stage of the downloadable Scott Pilgrim vs. The World game probably qualifies as the Scrappy Level the first time you do it, since it's nothing but wave after wave of Mooks and Elite Mooks, has only one poorly-stocked shop, and ends with a triple boss battle. But once you've levelled up and unlocked more moves, it's the best stage to revisit and just pound bad guys to a pulp, as well as grind for money and experience.

    Serious Sam 
  • Great Pyramid from Serious Sam: The First Encounter and the Grand Cathedral from Serious Sam: The Second Encounter are Awesome Levels just for the sheer weight of enemies.
    • And continuing a proud tradition, Serious Sam 3: BFE adds The Guardian of Time. Now with crates of infinite rockets!

    Shadow of the Colossus 
  • The fifth Colossus in Shadow of the Colossus is a colossal bird, you have to kill. By stabbing the wings. While its flying. With you holding for dear life to said wings.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon is amazing. You travel far to the south, in search of the final colossus. You reach a huge area, with a big platform surrounded by a river far below. After reaching the final save and walking up some stairs, you have to quickly cross a bridge using Agro (the horse) as it falls to the river below, and then Agro falls to her death after saving Wander from falling as well. After that, you climb to the top of the platform as a storm starts, and when you reach the top, you see a huge fortress in the distance. The fortress starts moving, revealing itself as the final colossus, and then the final battle begins.

    Shin Megami Tensei Series 
  • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne features Kabukicho Prison. It used to be some sort of warehouse or apartment complex in the previous world, whereas now it is being used as a prison which traps its occupants in a "mirage". The trick is that the mirage is the exact same building, only upside down, and has to be navigated backwards and forwards in and out of the mirage in order to advance. One of the requirements for escape even involves talking a prisoner into digging a hole in the ceiling (which then becomes the floor) toward the boss' chamber, and attempting to speak to people outside the mirage while you are inside results in their bewilderment at seeing someone stuck to the ceiling, if they notice you at all.
    • The Third Kalpa of the Labyrinth of Amala, specifically the Dante Chase Event. If this doesn't get your adrenaline going, nothing will.
  • Persona 4, another from the Shin Megami Tensei line, brings us the Void Quest dungeon: a 3D representation of 2D dungeons from 8-bit games, complete with retro-sounding music, awesome door-opening animation, and a fitting boss (who is unfortunately also That One Boss as well).
    • The fight against Adachi and Ameno-Sagiri. After going through what looks like a twisted version of Inaba's streets your party is finally escorted to an Amazing Technicolor Battlefield, only to have it slowly sink in that you are fighting for the sake of your hometown in the skies above it.
    • Naoto's dungeon, the Research Lab. The dungeon gives you the impression of infiltrating a secret hideout, with a P.A. system periodically warning of an "intruder alert".
    • Nanako's dungeon, Heaven. Not only was the design for the area well done, but it's theme song also has beautiful lyrics (there is in fact only one other dungeon theme song with lyrics, namely Strip Club).
  • Digital Devil Saga has the Airport, an awesome dungeon with an amazing track by Shoji Meguro playing and a Labyrinth structure that isn't too confusing, but still fun to explore. Well done Atlus.
  • The final sector in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, while it has some annoying points (the dark maze full of one-way doors comes to mind) makes up for it with a whole collection of new gimmicks and setpieces, some seriously nice music, a map that's complex without being unnavigable, and tons of plot as you officially decide which of the Multiple Endings you're going for. It also has some very cool monsters (Tzitzimitl, anyone?) and bosses that, depending on the route, range from "excitingly challenging" to "OH GOD PLEASE MAKE THE PAIN STOP." In the latter case, you then get to bask in the knowledge that you have successfully beat the snot out of an Eldritch Abomination.
    • Though it's well within Love It or Hate It territory, Sector Eridanus well before that brings in love for its downright sadistic design. One way doors, poison floors, sleep floors, dark corridors, pitfalls, hidden doors, a teleport maze, a few hidden quests and decent amount of plot before falling prey to Disaster Cycle — the devs did a damn fine job of tricking you into thinking it was the The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
  • The final dungeons in Shin Megami Tensei IV, Purgatorium and Lucifer's Palace, are both pretty cool, if just for their amazing architecture and awesome music alone. Earlier, the first trip to Camp Ichigaya is also impressive, at least if you chose to follow Walter during the first Route split, as it has you up against several of the National Defense Divinities.

    Shinobi 
  • In Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master, the surfing ninja level.

    Silent Hill 
  • The Silent Hill series, well known for having truly terifying levels, doesn't mean that they can't also be a blast to play for a Nightmare Fetishist.
    • The Hilltop center in Silent Hill 3 is when the scare factor really starts getting ramped up, as the mall level was mostly designed to ease players in, featuring Numb Body enemies, and going relatively easy on the disturbing imagery. The Hilltop Center has some truly haunting music, claustrophobia inducing enemies, horrifying imagery, and the Nightmare Fuel inducing watcher at the end of the level. One of the best moments is when Heather finds the magic words to defeat the monster...in a room absolutely soaked in blood.
    • In Silent Hill 2, the Hotel level. Full of great spooky ambiance, and some of the biggest plot revelations in gaming history, this level is as terrifying as it is heartbreaking.
      • The Prison and Catacombs together display the series' ability to drown you in despair and oppression without strictly resorting to overt blood and rust imagery. The two levels, back to back, are a sterling example of mindfuck physics and incessant terror brought on almost entirely by the environment itself.

    The Simpsons Game 
  • The final level of The Simpsons Game has to qualify, although most of them are also awesome. After Lisa builds a Stairway to Heaven, you reach the pearly gates, where you have to fight William Shakespeare. You fight every type of Mook from earlier in the game, Bart fires Halos as weapons, and you build a Starbucks for benjamin Franklin. Then, for the final boss, you challenge God to DDR. AND WIN.

    Skies Of Arcadia 
  • The Dark Rift. It somehow manages to both be an Eldritch Location and have incredible amounts of Scenery Porn (even by today's standards), plus there's the fact that you're carrying the hopes of everyone who failed to make it through - and just to emphasize that point, the treasure chests take the form of shipwrecks.
    • Speaking of Scenery Porn: Glacia. It's a beautiful Shining City, only it's made entirely of ice. Not to mention being upside down. How is that not awesome? It helps that at the end of it all, you finally get to see Drachma get closure.

    Sly Cooper 
  • The free-roaming pirate ship segment in Bloodbath Bay, from Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves. It has a special one-off control scheme that allows you to run around the ship firing the cannons, shoring up damage, and also steer the ship at the same time, and it really works.

    Sonic The Hedgehog 
  • Emerald Coast for Sonic Adventure. Breathtaking by its day's standards— and beautiful even today. Beautiful (although glitchy) platforming in a 3rd-person view made it seem as though Sonic works most thrillingly when you could see a horizon (read: rushing toward a beautiful skyline). The whale chase was epic. But the halfway point took us into a cove; the music changes, and now we have this upbeat, heart-warming, spine-tingling, incredibly inspirational tune...Few moments in gaming make the player feel this on-top-of-the-world. It's one of Jun Senoue's best masterpieces in music, and it belongs to one of the most awesome levels of all time in the Sonic series.
  • The Casino/Pinball levels in most Sonic the Hedgehog games.
    • Except in Sonic Heroes, due to the pinball level, like every level aside from Mystic Mansion, being choked to death by bottomless pits. Not to mention the near-uncontrollable slides in BINGO Highway.
    • Though these kinds of levels go from happy to scrappy should you get three Robotniks on one of the slot machines. And the boss of Casino Night Zone of Sonic 2 can be awful, specially with Knuckles (unless you know to cling to one wall so you're level with the boss's hull and glide from one side to the other; you go right through him, hitting him on the way).
  • Speaking of Sonic Heroes, the last two levels with Team Sonic qualify. In these two levels, you get a sense of what the game could've been if all effort had been focused on Team Sonic, instead of making three other pretty much identical teams. In the first there's speed, killing things, flying...makes you like the concept of the game more. The last stage isn't as much of that, sure, but the music is cool and it looks awesome.
  • Despite the second part of Chemical Plant in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 being a Scrappy Level, the first part is amazing, mostly because it's easily possible to go fast enough that the camera can't keep up.
  • Star Light Zone in Sonic 1.
    • Speed Highway as Sonic in Sonic Adventure. Not only is it 95%, well, speed, but you also get to run down the side of a building. This was big back in the day and reused in some of the other 3D entries.
      • While Speed Highway does a great job highlighting the "run really fast" aspect of the Sonic concept, Sky Deck really makes you feel as though you're foiling Robotnik's plans as you tear apart the Egg Carrier. Good times.
  • Stardust Speedway in Sonic CD, especially with the original Japanese music (or with the American version's music, depending on where you lived at the time).
    • And Collision Chaos. So trippy.
    • Any Good Future level. So stunningly beautiful.
  • Green Forest in Sonic Adventure 2. Probably the level that best shows off Sonic's mad skillz (both speed and grinding), really cool music, and bungee-jumping with a vine.
    • Its Shadow counterpart, White Jungle, is at least as gorgeous and has likely the best music in the entire game. You only get the full experience if playing the GC version though.
    • Also from Sonic Adventure 2, Cosmic Wall. This level alone justifies the inclusion of Eggman as a playable character. This level shows how to do low-gravity right. It's not just a few sections that have low gravity. It's the whole level. It's just about impossible to die from a fall here. The difficulty comes from the enemies' sheer numbers, many of which are the game's main Demonic Spiders...on any other level. Here, there's a lot of room to avoid everything they throw at you. It's so much fun killing them all and getting utterly insane amounts of points for it. An A-rank on most levels is around 15,000 points, but here, getting five times that is common, and six not unheard of. And all this right after Mad Space!
      • The low-gravity of this level was really well implemented. Through the course of the game, Dr. Eggman gets a jet booster upgrade to his Egg Walker, which normally slows your descent. In this level, however, Eggman is now able to ascend for a little while by using it, and doing so is required for the level's insane platforming.
    • "Radical Highway", which is a lot like "Speed Highway" only better, as it has some of the best music in the whole game and you can grind down freaking suspension cables, SOOOOO much fun!
    • Final Rush. Rail grinding at its best in the series, a bajillion alternate routes, some of which are epic shortcuts which give nice bonus points, good usage of the jump dash for platforming with the rails, a lot of speed, and of course, great music.
    • Green Hill Zone, the reward for 100% completion.
    • Most of the bosses felt like this in Sonic Adventure 2. You were fighting G.U.N. mechs, with the controllors wondering how a hedgehog(or bat)could be so powerful, a giant golem, THE FREAKING KING OF GHOSTS, your final duels with your rivals, and the final boss. Good Lord, the final boss. The only time Omochao has ever given you good information, the Awesome Music, and that moment you realize that you can switch between Super Sonic and Super Shadow while fighting the prototype of the ultimate life form, which is what one of your characters is.
    • City Escape is the first level for Sonic, and it's a good one. It begins with a landboarding section down San Francisco style streets. After that, it's mostly platforming and high speed down hills and a fast pace. At the end of the level, a giant truck chases you. This level is set to return in Sonic Generations, and the truck has BUZZSAWS on it this time round.
      • The buzzsaws are just in Act 2, but Act 1 is no lightweight either; here the GUN truck drives around demolishing platforms and trying to ram into Sonic. Generations also has Rooftop Run Act 2, which is peppered with a few challenging areas; the rest is a high-speed wonderland of rails and lane changes.
    • Pyramid Cave. Fun gimmicks, fair difficulty, and undoubtedly AWESOME music.
  • Any level that plays around with the gravity. This includes Sonic 3's "Carnival Night Zone" (Barrel of Doom be damned), Sonic & Knuckles' "Death Egg Zone" (not to be confused with the Sonic 2 level of the same name), Sonic Adventure 2's "Crazy Gadget", and Sonic Advance 3's Cyber Track Zone.
    • Death Egg in particular because in Sonic 2, it just served as battlegrounds for Silver Sonic and Robotnik and nothing else, but in Sonic 3, it's been fleshed out to a full zone.
    • Dead Line: Sonic Rush. Not only does the level mess with gravity, instead of keeping with the honored tradition of "doomsday" music, this level substitutes in Awesome Music. Said music is so awesome, in fact, that you'll find that the menu screen uses a remix of it.
  • Sonic's Casinopolis level in Sonic Adventure. NiGHTS Pinball set to Message From Nightopia? Heck yeah!
  • City Escape. Rollin' around at the speed of sound...
  • Despite being critically reviled, Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) has some pretty awesome levels itself
    • Wave Ocean with its peaceful music and the homage to the whale chase from Sonic Adventure, which takes it one step further with the whale HURLING you with its tail.
    • Crisis City with its gorgeous post-apocalyptic Scenery Porn and the final section where you outrun a tornado that hurls everything including the kitchen sink at you.
      • Crisis City returns with a better gameplay engine and new level design in Sonic Generations.
    • Flame Core, best described as Red Mountain's distant cousin with KILLER music and insane corkscrews.
    • Sonic's version of Kingdom Valley, featuring lush vegetation in the first section, breathtaking castle ruins everywhere else, the ability to ride on the talons of an eagle and impressive for the time water effects in it's mach speed section. It's no wonder why Sega showed this level off more than any other during Sonic 06's development and featured it on the cover art and title screen of the final game!
    • Aquatic Base, a refreshing change of pace in that it's a final level that's actually fairly easy compared to some others, so it manages to provide JUST the right amount of challenge without being too hard or too easy, plus it has the best music in the game.
    • The Very Hard DLC for the 360 manages to tone down the cheapness and offer truly difficult stages in interesting permutations (Doing the first part of Sonic's Wave Ocean backwards for starters.)
  • Most Daytime levels in Sonic Unleashed. Breaking mach barriers on will has not yet been seen in ANY Sonic the Hedgehog game . Want an example? You have two three.
    • Spagonia - Rooftop Run, Act 1: Running along a rampart with three laser-toting robots keeping pace, just keep hammering down the Ring Boost and fling other bipedal robots at them. Dodging spiked wine kegs, catapulting up and running around Spagonia's giant clock, only to grind back down again at speed.
      • Rooftop Run Day, also known as the ultimate test of muscle memory!
    • Holoska - Cool Edge, Act 1: Where a good few minutes of the course are devoted to being in a bobsled and mowing down enemies (and hopping to blow up the airbound badniks). Just when you see a lake, a damn whale surfaces so you can slide along its back. Wanna dismount the bobsled? Crash it into a ledge and it'll explode, despite being composed of carbon fiber and metal.
    • Chun-Nan - Dragon Road, Act 1: Where everything great about this game comes together in one neat little package. Great music, quick reflexes, a beautiful background, and a whole bunch of fast-paced fun along the way. You know you're in something awesome the moment you fly into the head of a dragon-statue, only to grind all the way down its back.
    • Eggmanland is made of equal quantities Awesome Level and Scrappy Level. Both versions. No exceptions.
  • Sonic Advance 2 had awesome levels, Especially Sky Canyon Zone which was the first time the physics defying mid-air boosts had to be used. All the levels become this if you go fast enough.
    • Sonic Rush Adventure's levels are similar, but with much more level specific gimmicks and quirky themes. Riding dolphins in Pirates Island as giant anchors try to crush you? The minecarts and stunning visuals of Coral Cave? Being shot out of a cannon and then chased by another pirate ship in Haunted Ship? The giant mushrooms and a massive t-rex robot for the FIRST BOSS in Plant Kingdom? Or the steampunk Machine Labyrinth? And then you have Blizzard Peaks with the snowboarding as is standard in ice levels but done really well, and Sky Babylon with you rushing up 60 degree hills as the platforms crumble very quickly behind you, before you spiral up another road. Awesome.
  • Ice Cap Zone from Sonic The Hedgehog 3. The music alone makes it a worthy reward for finally getting past the Carnival Night Zone.
    • Hydrocity, also from Sonic 3. It's an underwater ruins level, so if you've played the previous games, you're expecting a hard, long slog, right? You'd be wrong. It's a blitzingly fast wild water ride with Sonic blazing across the surface of the water, bouncing everywhere with the bubble shield, rolling down hills at ludicrous speed, getting caught in currents that fling you miles into the air, and AMAZING music.
  • Sweet Mountain in Sonic Colors. Rockets filled with jelly beans come crashing down on you, drilling through cake and in one act, you can see the entire area as you're grinding.
    • If you think the jelly bean rockets alone are awesome, just try turning into Super Sonic and BLASTING THROUGH ONE OF THEM HEADFIRST!!!
    • If not Sweet Mountain, then the awesome beauty and platforming of Planet Wisp, or even Aquarium Park's underwater vastness, where you can drill to your heart's content, and better still, the music gets muffled underwater, making it surprisingly engaging.
    • Starlight Carnival. Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Take all the bright lights, games and roller coaster tracks of a Vegas carnival, and add the expansive limitlessness, glitter and gravity screw of a Space Zone level, and add some more sparkle. It's a fun level that's even gorgeous to look at. Even Asteroid Coaster, the same thing but with Yellow and Purple instead of neon, can barely contain the vibrancy.
    • Remember how we were just talking about the "running down the side of a building" mechanic? Well, Terminal Velocity takes it Up to Eleven. Basically, Eggman's amusement park is EXPLODING thanks to your heroic efforts and Sonic and Tails are making a mad dash down a Space Elevator shaft to get back on the planet.When Sonic and Tails get to the last available Space Elevator, Eggman tries to intercept our heroes in his new Egg Nega Wisp Armor. Sonic gets a CMoA for himself by getting Tails into the elevator and sending him to safety while he confronts Eggman. Sonic then proceeds to open up a can of whoop-butt on Eggman, freeing the Wisps he's using for a power supply in the process. Once they're all free, they combine their power so Sonic can perform the FINAL COLOR BLASTER! On the mech, destroying it. The final level features Sonic trying to outrun a black hole made of hyper go-on energy and getting rescued by the Wisps and reunited with Tails.HECK YES!
  • Sonic Generations is built around this concept. SEGA took one of what fans consider the best levels from each game in the series and remade them for one fanservice laden package. Chemical Plant Zone? Speed Highway? Rooftop Run? They're all in the game, along with six other well-loved zones.
    • Among the modern Sonic stages many would agree that Sky Sanctuary is the best due to the fact that it mixes the 2D and 3D sections better than any other zone.

    Space Invaders 

    Spyro the Dragon 
  • Because sometimes, it helps to be reminded that the world really is worth saving: The Valley of Avalar from The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon. In addition to just being plain old gorgeous, it's soothing and fun to just fly around and find all the nooks and crannies hiding goodies. Jumping and climbing your way to the top of the big waterfall and looking out over the valley just makes you feel good inside.
  • The original Spyro the Dragon has Tree Tops; it's That One Level to many people but once you figure out how to complete it, it becomes extremely fun to play through.
  • More or less the entire Magic Crafters' World from the first Spyro game. The levels start to become truly challenging without being too obnoxious, the music and scenery is all beautiful, and awesome game mechanics like supercharging and fairy kisses make their first appearances. Probably the game's "sweet spot" in terms of difficulty and reward.

     Splinter Cell 
  • EVERY level in Conviction, with special mention to Third Echelon HQ. Sam returns to his former workplace, blows up the garage, takes out the new Splinter Cells and scares a receptionist. Also has one of the best endings EVER, courtesy of DJ Shadow.
  • The final level of Double Agent. All throughout the game, you've had to work with terrorists, earning their trust and placing yourself further from your old comrades, resulting in some very dirty work. Depending upon your choices, you may even have had to kill Lambert. Now, you get to take out these bastards once and for all. It's awesome.

     Star Craft series 
  • The first StarCraft (notably Brood War) had "Patriot's Blood" as its mission. It's as if Blizzard drew its inspiration for Tychus Findlay from the UED marines' personalities.
  • In StarCraft 2, the mission "Breakout". You essentially do a pseudo-DotA mission with a perma-stealthed Knight in Sour Armor who busts open a planet made specifically to hold political prisoners. Raynor's remark that no one has busted out of New Folsom in the 50 years of its life and they "broke it in an afternoon" is especially something worth crowning.
  • "The Dig". Your team is charged with retrieving a Xel'naga Artifact from a massive temple complex. To cut through the temple doors, you are given a massive, building-mounted Fricking Laser Beam — "the power of a sun at your fingertips". When the Tal'darim protoss attack your base, you are given direct control over this beam with explicit instructions to burn the attackers down as quickly as possible. The boring way to complete the mission: dig in with traditional troops and fire-support from the BFG, while it cuts through the door. The interesting way: build up a balanced force and wipe those smug Tal'darim bastards off the face of the map. The awesome way: using a cheap spotter (If you've unlocked Orbital Command technology, scans are wonderful for this), systematically incinerate their bases with your own personal Death Ray. (Also, this is the mission that unlocks Siege Tanks.)
  • "Media Blitz". Raynor's Raiders intend to hit up Korhal to force the local media to broadcast some dirt on the Emperor. Their ace in the hole? The Odin, a building-sized siege walker that the Dominion think is on their side. After giving them a Barrage-shaped wakeup call, the Odin gets to stomp through their bases for several minutes before they respond; then it retreats home so you can do it again with backup.
  • "All In". The Very Definitely Final Mission, so it had better be. You have an entire army, and a superweapon in the form of the completed Xel'naga Artifact, versus three of the most enormous zerg bases imaginable, enormous beasties, Nydus Worms or flyers galore, and Kerrigan herself. Your mission? Hold the Line!
    • "In Utter Darkness". Think: it is a vision of the future by the first game's Big Bad that shows the FREAKING APOCALYPSE , in which you get to control an absolutely HUGE Protoss fleet, that comprises ALL of the Protoss heroes, who constantly over-ham each other while the Bigger Bad gives them an equally grandiose Hannibal Lecture, all this while fighting an infinite army which includes units that, in the only other two missions they appeared in, were something akin to immortal bosses.
  • In Brood War, there's a terran mission where your go is simple. Use an elite strike utilizing marines, medics, tanks, ghosts, and NUKES. Capture the Battlecruisers. At the end, destroy General Duke's fleet of battlecruisers with your new armada. A little difficult, but OHOHOHO so satisfying to get all the battlecruisers and proceed to use 24 yamato cannons.
  • From Heart of The Swarm the "Enemy Within". It is kicked off by Kerrigan proving that she's still a Magnificent Bitch and creatively using a captured prisoner to destroy an escaping protoss ship, and from then it's Alien, except that you play as the Alien picking off the ship crew one by one.

    Star Fox 
  • Fortuna in Star Fox 64: "Can't let you do that, Star Fox!"
    • Venom I. Gotta love that feel of Andross deploying every ship he has left, trying to keep you away. Crazier still is Venom I on Expert Mode.
    • Area 6 gives a whole new meaning to 'target rich enviroment'. TA Sers have been able to eke out, say, 400 hits on Expert in Venom 1. Area 6? Over 800. Furthermore, it feels like you're just hitting up cannon fodder in Venom 1, whereas Area 6 you are bearing down on AN ENTIRE FLEET. And you can even take out the frigates. "We gonna break through that fleet!" Oh yes we are.
    • But neither of these tops the epic feel of MacBeth - getting the opportunity to take out bits of the train throughout the entire level, and then seeing it careen to its death is just fantastic. It also takes the Landmaster, which is slow and out of place in the game proper, and makes it a lot of fun.
    • The train crash in MacBeth is THE reason the rumble pack was invented. So awesome. "NO! Hit the brakes!" *slam, slam, slam, slam* "...I can't stop it!!!" *CRASH*. Cue Chain Reaction Destruction.
    • The massive dog fight on Katina. Followed by an Independence Day sized UFO. Also; whether you win or lose, you're still treated to an Earth-Shattering Kaboom.
    • Bolse was pretty awesome, also, although going there means missing out on Area 6 and the better version of Venom. For starters, everything starts out with impenetrable shields, and you have to blast away the shield generators. Then the bogeys start streaming out. Then, the core appears, and right around the same time (unless you beat them on Fortuna earlier in the game), the Star Wolf team appears. Then once you start shooting at the core, it starts shooting back. Dealing with all of those lasers flying around (from the busted panels of the core and from the Star Wolf team), it's quite exhilirating. Finally, once you bust all of the panels of the core, the entire planet-sized satellite blows up. There are a lot of large explosions in this game—the Saucerer on Katina, the Katina base if you don't take down the Saucerer, the weapons factory on Macbeth, the bosses of Solar and Area 6, Great Fox getting smacked with a Copperhead missile in Sector Z—but none of them are quite as big as the entire Bolse satellite. Almost makes missing the better ending worthwhile.
    • Zoness was pretty fun.
    • Solaris. It takes place on the smaller sun of the Lylat system. Your health is very slightly going down but that doesn't matter as there are plenty of health rings. There are also huge lava waves that you break up with your bombs, and you can even create some.
  • Aquas. You're in a submarine through the ocean and it keeps getting darker. What makes this level great? To quote Slippy: "Keep firing! We got lots of torpedoes!" These torpedoes take the place of your bombs, light the area up and home in on enemies. Yes, they are infinite. You end up blazing a path of destruction through the ocean as you just rapidly fire your lasers and torpedoes and doing barrel rolls, and watch the legions of ocean dwellers sink before your might.
  • The second course Venom 2 in the original Star Fox, blasting your way through a space highway right into Andross' back door.
  • Also in the original, the alternate final level, Out of this Dimension, is absolutely amazing. It's a fantastic Mind Screw with one of the most interesting Final Bosses in history at the end.
  • Dragon Rock in Star Fox Adventures. From the beautifully sinister atmosphere, to the shooting segments, to the boss fight with Drakor, etc.

    Star Trek: Klingon Academy 
  • Star Trek: Klingon Academy. Play skirmish and take your pick: fighting in the debris ring of a planet? Inside the atmostphere of a gas giant? The corona of a star? Hell yes! Most awesome is the fight set at the edge of a Black Hole accretion disk, turned up to eleven when you decide to create a battle somewhat closer to the event horizon of that same black hole. Possibly the scariest as well, once your engines are dead you will fall faster and faster into the black hole...

    Star Trek Online 
  • Cutting The Cord is this for a lot of people, a big urban battle against Hakeev and the Tal Shiar with the Romulan Resistance at your back. You end killing Hakeev, destroying a giant Iconian Gateway and then face off against Sela and her Scimitar.
  • Boldly They Rode is this as well. It was the first mission an EVA component (which sadly now makes the first half a Scrappy Level) and then went on to have you take down the Jem Hadar on Deep space Nine alone, then take on their fleet in orbit with the U.S.S. Defiant and the brand new U.S.S. Enterprise-F as your back up.
  • New Romulus, a beauty expanse of nature and a newly built city and it has adorable creatures like the Epohh and the Nanov.
  • The new Solanae Dyson Sphere qualifies as well, great art direction and dinosaurs with freaking laser beams.

    Star Wars 
  • Star Wars: Battlefront II has a level where you get to play as Anakin Skywalker and fight a bunch of Jedi alongside Clone Troopers. Fuck. Yes. Granted, it's less fun if Anakin dies, as the chance to play your Hero doesn't come back up in Story Mode, but the thrill of an epic lightsaber battle will be enough to have you SAVE A SEPARATE GAME JUST FOR THAT LEVEL.
    • There was also the mode where you could just have an awesome all-out battle between heroes. Han Solo and Obi-Wan vs. Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine? Awesome.
  • Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire for the Nintendo 64 was the first Star Wars game to feature a fully 3D playable version of the Battle of Hoth, both in a snowspeeder and on foot. According to the Gametrailers Star Wars Retrospective, many gamers never played past the first level, simply replaying the Hoth battle over and over again. This is probably the reason there have been Hoth levels in every Star Wars game since that could fit one in, and the inspiration for the Rogue Squadron games.
    • The Asteroid Field mission was pretty fun, too. And so was Gall, where you got to play with a jetpack...
    • Though it was added in at the last minute and rather unconnected to the main story, the Battle of Endor in X-Wing Alliance is quite exhilarating. Up until you look across the cockpit of the Millennium Frikkin' Falcon and see your robot buddy in the copilot seat...
  • The Bespin level in Rogue Squadron II deserves a mention, if only for the gorgeous scenery. And their version of Endor isn't too shabby, either...
    • Mmm, fighting two Star Destroyers.
    • The final level, Strike at the Core, deserves a mention. Trying to get a gold medal in this level on Ace Mode, while piloting the Millennium Falcon...it might also qualify at That One Level, but you seldom get such an adrenalin rush in any Star Wars game.
  • Speaking of Star Wars, the level where Admiral Harkov turns on you in TIE Fighter is made of awesome. You're sent out there in an unshielded TIE Interceptor and have to survive until reinforcements come to pick you up...Hard, but awesome.
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed pretty much all the way through, especially against the larger enemies (AT-STs and their bastard brethren AT-KTs in particular), and the whole "pull a goddamn cruiser out of space" bit.
    • The best level is obviously the First, where you play as DARTH FREAKING VADER and then proceed to tear the ever-living shit out of everything in your path. The rest of the game almost seems like a bit of a let-down in comparison.
  • Korriban in Knights of the Old Republic, especially on a light side runthrough as you play every Sith on the planet like a fiddle.
    • For that matter, the Battle of the Star Forge. Its like Return of the Jedi when you have to storm the Empire's very engine of Mass Destruction/Construction to blow it up. Except you have to kill Darth Malak first and either kill or redeem Bastila first. Along the way though? You fight elite mooks, several minibosses, whole armies of Dark Side Acolytes, Adepts, and Sith Masters, whole armies of the best 'normal' troops, a mecha army, and at times ALL AT ONCE. If you go Dark Sided, you conquer the entire galaxy at the end (only to lose it in the sequel), if you go Light Side (which can arguably be better than Dark Side), you redeem Bastila, defeat the Sith, and become the Prodigal Knight of the Republic. Either ending is satisfying, and it is really fun to bring Malak down. What is it with Bioware and awesome final levels?
    • Malachor 5 in KOTOR II is pretty damned impressive, even without a lot of the content.
      • The return to Onderon; the whole damn thing, from the Tomb to the palace Throne Room.
    • For that matter, Korriban in Jedi Academy.
  • Lego Star Wars II: The last two Empire levels (the showdown with Darth Vader, and the escape from Bespin), and the last three Jedi levels (all three story-lines in the climax; breaking into the shield generator, the fight against Palpatine, and, of course, the battle over Endor and inside the Death Star).
  • The more intuitive missions in Jedi Academy qualify (with the exception of Belenjeel). But the best is probably the one with the speeder bikes.
  • Star Wars: Empire at War: First Rebel mission. A bunch of CR 90 Correllian Corvettes (think Tantive IV) plus the Sundered Heart (a heavily modified CR 60, CR 60s being the predecessors to CR 90s) destroying 5 space docks, countless TIEs, a couple Tartan-class corvettes, and crippling a MOTHER F-ING IMPERIAL STAR DESTROYER. With no losses.
    • The final battle of the Forces of Corruption campaign. If you've been conquering planets to raise your unit cap in the galactic view, you can stock up a massive fleet and take on five, fully upgraded Imperial space stations with your Rebel allies while Imperial ships are constantly pouring in. Capture a massive ship equipped with a superlaser that can destroy capital ships in one hit, just for it to break down when the Empire send in their Super Stardestroyer...

    Streets of Rage 

    Super Mario Series 
  • World 2-3 in the original Super Mario Bros. comes right after the first water level, and perhaps the best strategy was to run like hell across the bridges and avoid the Cheep-Cheeps that jumped at you.
  • The Lost Levels, of all games, has World 7-3. 7-1 had the Bros. faced with numerous pipes filled with Red Piranha Plants, as well as several Hammer Bros. 7-2 not only had Lakitus, but also fire bars (which in the first game only appeared in castles). This level? Flying over much of it using strong winds and green trampolines.
  • Part of the reason for Super Mario Bros. 3's continued status as one of the most beloved games in the series is its many awesome levels.
    • World 5-3, and one of the coolest powerups in the series, Goomba's Shoe. Although Mario can only move by hopping rather than running, he can kill every enemy in the level by jumping on them - even Spinies and Piranha Plants - and doesn't take damage from walking on Munchers. (The only downside is that Mario has to give up Goomba's Shoe at the end of the level, and cannot get it in any other level.)
    • Then there's that level in World 6 with the hundreds of coins frozen in ice blocks. You defrost them with your fireballs. There are also Munchers frozen in some of the ice blocks. Normally a bad thing, but there are a cluster of Munchers over top of a pipe, and recall that hitting a P-Switch turns Munchers temporarily into coins. When you eliminate the Munchers and enter the pipe, there's a Hammer Brother suit inside, and that Hammer Brother suit is one thousand times more satisfying to wear than any other in the game.
    • The quicksand stage in World 2. An angry sun that you can kill with a shell! Take that, Sun!
    • And the whole of Big Island.
    • The Coin Ships which replace the Hammer Brothers if you finish a level in Worlds 1, 3, 5, or 6 with a particular coin tallynote , scorenote , and time left on the clocknote . No enemies (except for a token Mini-Boss against two Boomerang Brothers at the end), just lots and lots of coins. It's like winning the lottery every time it appears. The easiest level to test it on is 1-3, because there's convenient bricks and coins (and a pipe to reset them) right at the end of the level in case you screw up.
  • Super Mario World has plenty of awesome levels.
    • Vanilla Dome 3, where you ride a skull coaster on lava while dodging a googly-eyed lava monster (who is named "Blaarg").
    • The Sunken Ghost Ship, where you (as Mario) revisit the Airship from Super Mario Bros. 3, and culminates into a massive drop through a long tunnel where you can rack up extra lives and points (completing the level opens up the gateway to the Valley of Bowser, and cuts out the music for the only time in the game).
    • The secret exit to the Valley Ghost House, where you literally have to build a staircase out of coins and a P-Switch. Takes some practice to get it right, but the idea is one of the coolest for a secret exit in the game.
    • All of Special World counts. The whole World is a Nintendo Hard ROM Hack of itself, forsaking all logic in favor of the Rule of Cool. As if it could get better than that, after you beat it, the whole Game becomes a Halloween Episode.
      • Even the Scrappiest of Scrappy Levels, Tubular, has you fly through an entire level as a living balloon, which, once you learn how to navigate the darn level, is actually pretty fun.
      • The final course in the Special Star World, "Funky". After making your way through the level, eating berries with Yoshi to increase the time limit, you pass a massive yellow pipe going into the air. After this point, the enemies disappear, and you continue heading to the right, only to find the message YOU ARE A SUPER PLAYER!!. Written entirely with coins. Pure awesome.
  • Any level with the Metal Cap in it in Super Mario 64.
    • Bob-omb Battlefield was a beautiful first impression with that cool mountain and the Chain Chomp's cage. This should've been the Throwback Galaxy. That and Snowman's Land.
    • Any level with the Wing Cap in it. (Except maybe for the Goddamn Over The Rainbow star.) The best one is the final one, outside the castle. You shoot yourself out of the cannon into the floating "?" box...and you just fly. And it's gorgeous.
    • The "Bowser in the..." stages. The default (and pretty much only sane) camera angle and heavy emphasis on platforming made it a fun throwback to the classic Mario games, and it has one of the best musical pieces in the game.
    • Tick Tock Clock, though potentially frustrating if the player doesn't know what the position of the hands on the clock face does to the mechanics of the level, is still very creatively designed, and, as long as the platforms are not moving at top speed, has plenty of platform-jumping fun.
    • Any level with a slide - Peach's Secret Slide, Cool Cool Mountain, and Tall Tall Mountain. There's something very exhilarating about zooming down those slides, grabbing coins and 1-ups.
    • Hazy Maze Cave. An awesome remix of the "underground" theme from Super Mario Bros. (also heard in Wet-Dry World), and a maze-like level with many hidden rooms and passages.
    • Chief Chilly Challenge from the DS remake. It has the slides, the platforming and the whole place is focused around Luigi!
    • Shifting Sand Land. Especially when top of the fricking pyramid comes off!
  • Any of the "Secret of..." levels in Super Mario Sunshine. Pure 3D platforming bliss. The music alone justifies putting these levels here
    • The Awesome Music level that is Noki Bay, complete with gorgeous cliff sides and awesome boss battles. It gets even better when you play level 8, and go underwater.
  • One star in Melty Molten Galaxy from Super Mario Galaxy has you traversing a floating lava area on a rolling ball while a meteor shower is falling and a hell remix of the ball theme is playing in the background.
    • The entirety of Melty Molten Galaxy applies.
    • The "Freeze" portions of Freezeflame Galaxy. There's just something about ice skating and Ice Mario.
      • For that matter, the whole Lava Core Planet is beautiful and the Mission "Freezeflame's Blistering Core" feels like a great, classic adventure.
    • Also, pretty much every That One Level is incredibly fun once you're good enough to beat it.note  note 
    • Gusty Garden Galaxy; especially in the first mission, which has you flying from planet to planet on dandelions and traversing floating apples by way of giant caterpillars. All to one of the best orchestrated tracks in the series.
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2 gives us Cosmic Cove Galaxy. It has a beautiful theme and the level "Exploring the Cosmic Cavern" is a 2D water level, complete with flying water. The galaxy also features some cool skating. Also, Honeybloom Galaxy, completely 2D and pure Bee Mario Bliss.
    • Sky Station Galaxy. An amazing and grand return to the galaxies with an easy level that sets you up to basics while going through a somewhat whimsical rescue mission. The music is amazingly orchestrated and cinematic as well. If you never experienced Galaxy 1, you're in one hell of a ride.
    • Fluffy Bluff Galaxy. Amazing music, beautiful scenery, and just downright fun to play. In the same vein, Cloudy Court Galaxy.
    • "To the Top of Topman'snote  Tower" in Space Storm Galaxy. A souped up version of Buoy Base, complete with time-slowing effects? Hell yes!
    • Wild Glide Galaxy. The gorgeous scenery, which features Mario gliding through a mountain pass with lush foliage and pouring waterfalls, combined with the awesome music, it's easy not to notice how difficult the level can be.
    • Slimy Spring Galaxy. The ambience is amazing, it can be fun but challengingnote , and the sunset seen at the end of the level is just Scenery Porn incarnate. Captain Toad nonwithstanding.
    • Say what you will about the second mission, but the first mission in Melty Monster Galaxy is oh-so very deserving of the title "The Magnificent Magma Sea". The level is absolutely epic. We're talking cascading walls of lava, people! A worthy Spiritual Successor to Melty Molten Galaxy.
    • Throwback Galaxy. An epic remix of the stage music from Mario 64, and the Whomp King even says his lines from 64 word-for-word!
    • The Mario Kart inspired Rolling Coaster Galaxy. Difficult, yes...but at the same time, it gives the player a real adrenaline rush to go rolling down a rainbow slide then shooting through the air on their momentum.
    • Flip-Swap Galaxy. It's amazing, the series is in its third decade now and they're still finding clever new approaches to platforming.
    • Beat Block Galaxy. The panels appear and disappear alternately according to the beat of the music. Purely amazing.
    • How's this for a bold choice...Grandmaster Galaxy. Sure, it's extremely challenging (and that's not even mentioning the daredevil run), but not in a way that ever feels unfair. The adrenaline rush that kicks in while you play it is amazing, and if you actually beat it...your day week month year is made!
  • Super Mario Land's Submarine and Airplane Stages. Unexpected Shmup Level? Yes. However, this is surprisingly done well to the point that they become the two most enjoyable levels in the game, and the peppy music helps too. Also, both are Breather Levels compared to the previous one.
  • Tree Zone 2 in Super Mario Land 2, where you swim through gravity-defying jello.
  • Level 7-3 from the New Super Mario Bros. 1. The entire level, except for the beginning and ending areas, takes place on the back of an ENORMOUS Wiggler. This Wiggler can't hurt you; it just walks along, its segments rippling and possibly flinging Mario into the air a bit. Then you get to the first Starman block...and if you want, you can break the entire rest of the level by running through everything while invincible, or you can go back and get some of the tons of blue coins that are being created behind you. Okay, so Star runs are nothing new, but the giant Wiggler...that's just cool.
    • While world 8-8 might be seen as That One Level to some but if you use the shell it becomes one of the single most satisfying experiences in the series. It's a relatively flat stage so there's no need to stop your momentum to get to high platforms, just flying through the level as flaming rocks that destroy everything fall around you.
  • New Super Mario Bros. Wii has the hidden level 8-7. It's a nonstop thrill ride over lava atop a series of skeletal dragon roller coasters that screech at just the right times. Reflexes and instincts are all you need to get through this level; even the Star Coins are not hidden. Finally, going through this level lets you bypass 8-4.
    • While a lot of people say 8-1 is That One Level with all of its obstacles, it can be a huge adrenaline rush to charge headlong into the fray without stopping to beat the level and collect all of the Star Coins on the first try. Not only that but the level itself is very reminiscent of the many similar levels found in the Genesis platformer, Kid Chameleon, complete with Advancing Wall of Doom.
    • New Super Luigi U has an ice cave level in the Frosted Glacier that gives you a penguin suit and consists of basically nothing but slopes to slide around on. Pretty easy, but a lot of fun.
  • Glitzville in Paper Mario: TTYD was definitely one of the highlights of the game, competing for a championship belt reminiscent of pro wrestling, complete with a Mr. McMahon-like promoter in Grubba.
    • Also the Excess Express.
  • Super Mario 3D Land brings the stage and the special stage where the ground comprises 8-bit platforms of various Mario series characters. The music that plays when you grab the flag is even a remix of the original SMB victory theme. There's also the last Bowser's Castle, which has you ride on skeletal platforms, dodging fireballs that come at you, before shooting yourself with cannons up to where Bowser has Peach taken hostage. And then begins an awesome boss battle.
  • Paper Mario: Sticker Star gives you World 4-3, otherwisely known as "The Engimansion." Given the fact that the level is full of Awesome Music, pretty humorous moments and gives you the Flashy Infinijump sticker.
    • There's also the Chomp Ruins, which has creative puzzles, culminating into tricking the boss into knocking down a wall for you!

    Super Monkey Ball 
  • The treble clef floor in the original's Advanced mode—easy shortcut, red goal, skip seven levels. But even aside from that, the design was nice and the idea of chasing the goals down a relatively forgiving path was a nice twist at that stage.
  • The Master floors in the original. Yeah, most of them were ridiculously hard and probably cost us all multiple continues when we first played them, but the monkeys are in banana heaven and some of the level designs were very interesting (e.g. dodging the Dole blocks as opposed to riding them, such as in floors like Expert 6).
  • Nintendo in Super Monkey Ball 2: the final Challenge Mode level is a rotating Nintendo GameCube, down to the little cracks, and you're surrounded by the "G" as seen in the console startup screen. Tough as nails but what a great way to finish Master Extra.

    Super Robot Wars 
  • Super Robot Wars Destiny, level 16, Jupiter route. The pure exhilaration of re-enacting the only sequence in Getter Robo more awesome than the Stoner Sunshine sequence knows no bounds. With Shin Getter Robo, Getter Shin Dragon, Judau and the ZZ Gundam, and Ru and the Gundam Mk. III facing down a horde of Eldritch Abominations, Shin Dragon effectively evens the odds single-handedly with a horde of Game Breaker powers. Even the game notes this, and makes sure that it requires extensive upgrades for the next chunk of the game.
    • Episode 30 of Super Robot Wars Original Generation 2 also counts. Sure it's a top moment for Sanger Zonvolt, and you get two of the most awesome mechs in the game as well. But after the episode name and number splashes across the screen you have the boss break the 4th wall with a "Episode 30? What the hell does that mean?!"
    • Super Robot Wars Z, stage 36: Operation Angel Down. Only instead of just pitting Shinn against Kira, it's hero vs. hero for the entire cast. Mazinger Z vs. Getter Robo? Aquarion vs. God Gravion? Xabungle and Walker Gallia fighting Gundams? Yes, yes and yes.
  • Super Robot Wars Z2 gives us stage 48: Daybreak's Bell. You knew it was coming. It can either be a scramble for survival, fighting off GN-Xs while protecting your Celetial Being crew from all angles...or one kickass Curbstomp Battle if you upgraded you're CB Gundams enough, watching Exia, Kryos, Dynames and Virtue chew through every enemy thrown at them. Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do to save Lockon.
  • The final scenario in the first chapter of Super Robot Wars Z3: Gurren Lagann finale. It's also notable for being the first SRW game in a long while to have a licensed character as the Final Boss.

    Supreme Commander 
  • The final UEF mission in Supreme Commander, Operation Stone Wall. The Aeon and Cybrans are within spitting distance of taking out Black Sun, the UEF's final hope of winning the Infinite War, which isn't even finished yet. You are in the center of the map. There are off-screen enemies absolutely surrounding you. You're given a bit of a breather at the beginning, which you will need, because once the mission gets rolling, the Cybrans and Aeon will be throwing absolutely everything in their arsenal at you - stealthed transports to capture the Black Sun control center, nuclear missiles aimed everywhere, fleets arriving regularly with monstrous battleships at the head, massed raids by strategic bombers and air superiority fighters, waves of Monkeylords...

    Syphon Filter Series 
  • The first Syphon Filter opens during a massive simultaneous terrorist attack on Washington D.C., and the main character is literally sprinting from hot spot to hot spot to try and get things under control. When you finally get a lead on the leaders, you chase one of them on foor through active Metro tunnels, dodging subway trains and exchanging shots the whole way.
    • The Pharcom Warehouses level, with a Męlée ŕ Trois between you, the Pharcom Elite Guards, and Rhoemer's troops, and possibly the best music in the game.
    • There is also Rhomer's Base, which you can either sneak through or fight against constantly respawning enemies, take inventory of the base's missiles, fight against an experimental attack chopper, and then try to escape the base within three minutes while being hunted down by the rest of the soldiers on the base.
  • It's the second game in the series where the most awesome levels are most packed, starting with a firefight against special forces troops in the cold peaks of the Colorado Rockies as you're looking for the downed wreck of your C-130 that crashed just before the game started. There is also the firefight in the Russian night club to some of the most awesome music ever.

    System Shock 
  • System Shock 2 and the coolant tunnels in Engineering. You've made it through Med-Sci, and now it's onto the next - Aggh! Alarms! Maze! Zombies! Radiation! Intense techno! Crazy woman shouting at me! And right before you can get used to a shift from moody, narrative horror to fast paced survival horror, it just stops.
  • The last level of System Shock 2, which is a retread of the first level of System Shock 1. "You walk in my memories" indeed!
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