All The Worlds Are A Stage
This is when levels
come Back for the Finale
. The final level is made of parts from and/or in the theme of most to all past levels, or at least it has a section like that. It's a good way to extend the final level and make it feel more epic, as the player is required to revisit their past challenges. There are a few guidelines for this trope:
- The level parts may or may not be lifted directly from the levels they are from, but they do have to include enough distinct design elements and/or distinct gameplay (such as types of platforms or vehicles); including the unique enemies encountered there can help support the argument. (If there's something that directly tells you it's a part based off a level, like a sign or symbol, then it's indisputable; however, if the content doesn't match the label, the developers had better have some good reasons when accused of false advertising.)
- The level parts can be encountered linearly, at the player's choice, or a mixture of both (with a forced starting or finish level part, for instance). If linearly, they may or may not be played through in the same order as played through in the game.
- The level parts can be jammed together or separated with novel content connecting them together. The new content, basically the actual final level itself, has a theme different from the others—for instance, that Very Definitely Final Dungeon theme you were all but promised in the above situation. As such, it doesn't matter whether or not you enter the final level itself in an original part or a level part.
- This trope does not need to apply to the entire final level; in this case, it's usually just a major area where the level parts are all together.
- If the level parts don't have visual elements from the past level they're from, they at least have geography/layout from the level. Think of it as reskinning a level.
- Just because you're revisiting past stages you got the items and abilities from already doesn't mean you're going to find nothing new to grab. Don't get your hopes up, though.
Next, this trope comes in a few different flavors.
- Memory Lane: Within the final level, there's an area comprising linear, jammed-together or in-rooms/warped-to level sections. Bonus points if the level sections are direct extractions (with possible changes). Often has players using the item/ability they got in a level a lot during that level section.
- Ganon's Tower: Nonlinear Memory Lane. Named for the final dungeon in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the first half of which consists of an in-rooms version of this. Sometimes leads to boss re-fights.
- World Terminus: Memory Lane with direct extractions, but they're actually just arenas for gauntlets where you have to fight a horde of enemies to clear each level section. Named for the area in the first Kingdom Hearts.
- Final Exam Stage: A natural method of doing a final level, the Final Exam Stage places the player at the start of a linear Death Course comprising level parts, often in game order, often challenging them to apply everything they have learned and gained as they go along. This makes up the entire final level. The level equivalent of the Final Exam Boss.
- Multiple-Choice Final Exam Stage: Nonlinear Final Exam Stage.
- Muscle Memory Lane: Unique (usually platforming) sections from previous levels appear, but you won't notice at first, because the aesthetics pretty much otherwise fit with the main final stage. Then you play it and it feels familiar. A cool bit of subtlety that has to be fairly obvious to qualify. Guideline #5 in action.
- Zant Stage Rush: You're fighting the final boss when, suddenly, you're warped to a location in a past stage for some reason or another. You go back to the main ring before going to the next level section, or you progress to them one after another. Often an illusion. Named for the fight against Zant in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
- Viewtiful Joe Boss Rush: Kind of reaching, but... A Boss Rush where you start out in the beginning of the room they're in (or a facsimile) before fighting each one. Named for the style of Boss Rush in the main Viewtiful Joe series.
- Remember Me Level: When a level so old, it's from a previous game, is used. Only applies when said previous game is from earlier in the same storyline/character's history.
Related tropes include The Very Definitely Final Dungeon
, which this trope often still has elements of, and Hailfire Peaks
, going along the theme of different terrains in one level. When it's made, the trope for any level with more than two types of terrain (Hailfire Peaks
but more) will be a supertrope. See also Remixed Level
, for a repetition of a single map.
The trope name is a play on "All the world's a stage", the famous Shakespeare
quote from As You Like It
- Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow has the Chaotic Realm, made up of various parts of all the previous areas.
- Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) has the infamous End of the World stage, set in seven of the nine previously played levels as the world gets more screwed up. Final Exam Stage type.
- Scrap Brain Zone from Sonic The Hedgehog 1 has enemies from the game's previous stages. In addition, Act 3 is a re-colored, more difficult version of Labyrinth Zone.
- Eggmanland in Sonic Unleashed is a giant gauntlet of some of the most difficult platforming challenges from both the Sonic and Werehog sections, including most of the game's enemies, a bobsled-esque portion like one from earlier in the game, a skydiving section, and generally recalls all your abilities that you've needed to use.
- Most Dragon Quest Bonus Dungeons are made up of repeated parts of other dungeons.
- Chocobos Dungeon for Wii also had this in the Bonus Dungeon. Justified as the theme was memories and the Bonus Dungeon was about Chocobo's memories—which of course would include the dungeons he explored during the game.
- In The Legend of Dragoon, the final level consists of elements of previous areas put together.
- The Great Maze from Super Smash Bros. Brawl is a mashup of previous levels, all interconnected. Integrated with the story, as these levels were captured by Subspace bombs throughout the game (before this point, the assumption was that the areas were just blown-up, but it turns out Subspace bombs are different). Multiple-Choice Final Exam Stage type.
- Halfway through Magicka you fight the Big Bad in a "mental battle" which consists of teleporting through several islands and defeating groups of mooks. Zant Stage Rush type.
- A Super Mario World Central Production has this in Bowser's Castle — specifically, the part where you first enter the Void. You can go through any room of your choice. Each is thematically based on the eight main worlds of the game, but there are new gimmicks present (for example, spin jumps in the Mountain room switches on/off the red and blue blocks). Ganon's Tower type.
- The first Kingdom Hearts is the source of the World Terminus type. The final dungeon includes a series of platforms with portals to other worlds - the one for Halloween Town takes you back inside Oogie's Manor, an area you can't actually get to in the "real" town at that point. It also includes the Hundred Acre Wood, but that's the one area without any enemies.
- A variation: the lower-left corner of the Overworld Not to Scale in Zelda II The Adventure Of Link is based loosely off of the first game's Hyrule.
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is the source of the Ganon's Tower type. Has six sections on the bottom floor corresponding to each medallion. (Interestingly enough, this means the only one that actually isn't a past dungeon is the Light Medallion section, as there is no dungeon to get that medallion.)
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is the source of the Zant Stage Rush type. Zant teleports you to arenas from a number of past dungeons and imitates the boss or miniboss in some way.
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has the moon as an example of the Ganon's Tower type. You go through mini-dungeons themed after the main four dungeons of the game. Noteably, all 4 of these are optional. That said doing them all and handing over every mask awards the infinity+1 mask
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has Ganon's Tower. Guess which type it is. (Zelda likes this type, apparently.) Has Dragon Roost Cavern, Forbidden Forest, Earth Temple, and Wind Temple sections before you must fight the boss. You are also reduced to whatever items were available to you when you originally went through the dungeon. Also crosses over with the Viewtiful Joe type as at the end of the segments you fight a black-and-white version of the respective boss for the original dungeon, complete with reconstructed boss rooms.
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has Sky Keep, which is yet another Ganon's Tower type. Except for the entrance lobby and the Silent Realm rooms where you collect each piece of the Triforce, every room has the aesthetics and music of all the previous dungeons.
- Viewtiful Joe is the source of the Viewtiful Joe Boss Rush type.
- Viewtiful Joe 2 does this as well, but also plops the bus section from the first game right in the middle of it.
- The final level of Bayonetta, "A Tower to Truth", features every single enemy in the game, up to and including the bosses and minibosses. (Excluding Jeanne, whose final fight occurs in the level prior to this one. Also excluding the bosses that come after this stage.) The only enemy not to make a return is 'Irenic', the car-shaped Angel that ferries enemies along the road in "Route 666", making a marathon of a Final Exam Stage.
- Prior to this stage, however, is a level literally titled "A Remembrance of Time", which is made up of pieces of past levels, making up a Memory Lane Stage (unique from others in that this level is only about halfway into the game). Ingeniously disguised in that most of the pieces that are reused from past levels are flipped around, so that you'll be exploring from back to front. As most of the game's levels never require any sort of backtracking, a simple flip is enough to make the reused levels feel more like callbacks than just straight-up rips.
- The Wonderful 101 has Operation 008: Blossom City: State of Emergency. The stage is made up of pieces from past levels (primarily the Blossom City levels, for obvious reasons) and consists of almost nothing except back-to-back fights of past enemies, most of which are the kinds of enemies that require specific use of certain Unite Morphs, making this a mix between Memory Lane and Final Exam.
- Rocket: Robot on Wheels contains Jojo's World, a gauntlet of the Final Exam Stage type.
- Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones has this at the end during the final battle, having the Prince revisit places in his past. Zant Stage Rush and Remember Me Level types.
- Goemon's Great Adventure has Dream Castle, which is a merciless mashup of segments based on the previous four castles. The really hard parts. Final Exam Stage type.
- Kirby's Dream Land uses the Ganon's Tower type in Mt. DeDeDe, with doors leading to areas based on the previous stages, as well as rematches against the bosses, that you have to go through to reach the last boss.
- Kirby's Adventure features a variant of the "Remember Me Level" in Stage 7-6. The backgrounds and music are borrowed from Kirby's Dream Land, but the stage segments are not copied from areas in the original game. And Kirby himself remains pink, although almost everything else is Deliberately Monochrome.
- Level 6-3 and level 6-6 in Kirby Triple Deluxe both take you through a sequence of areas based on the previous worlds.
- Super Paper Mario has such a sequence near the end where the protagonists pursue Dimentio through sections of previous levels. The pause menu even says which level you're in.
- Tiny Toon Adventures: Montana's Movie Madness has a Final Exam Stage type, putting you through four mini-stages (literally and figuratively: there are spotlights and movie cameras scattered around them) themed off of the previous levels before going up against the final boss.
- Sanitarium has a penultimate Memory Lane subchapter called "The Gauntlet" right before the final Puzzle Boss subchapter with Dr. Morgan. In it, you find yourself in a mishmash of elements of all of the earlier non-"real world" chapters. Not only that, but to solve various puzzles you have to switch between Max and all of his alter-egos as well.
- The first game of Death Jr. has its final level as the Memory Lane typege
- The sequel to the NES game StarTropics is one of the rare "Remember me levels" in that the last stage of the game has you return to the first stage of the first game. There's even an undead version of the first boss of the first game.
- Final Fantasy V has the path to the depth of the Void, which is said to consume the world and so contains many locations that, if they aren't the actual previous locations that have been absorbed, are similar to previous locations.
- Final Fantasy VI features this in Kefka's Tower. The tower itself is mostly a collection of ruins, but there are elements of the destroyed Imperial capitol of Vector and the Magitek Factory, and some rooms are exactly like they were when the player first visited them.
- Final Fantasy VIII features this in the battle with the sorceresses during the Time Compression. As you defeat the sorceresses, the battle background changes, going through various locations you've visited during the game.
- Dissidia: Final Fantasy, the prequel Dissidia 012 pits the player against a barrage of enemy types from the ten previous Chapters in the Epilogue of Light to All. Furthermore, enemies in each individual Chapter tended to use the same accessories over and over between each other, in the Epilogue many of those accessory builds return in one or two gateways each. And of course there's all ten villains come back to fight again.
- Final Fantasy Mystic Quest has Doom Castle, where each of the four floors the player visits are thematic recreations of the final dungeons of the four regions, complete with powered-up versions of their bosses.
- A lot of Mega Man (Classic) games have the Viewtiful Joe-style Boss Rush.
- Interestingly, Mega Man 5 is the only game that had the sense to actually reuse the original rooms you fought the bosses in, complete with the Boss Corridor door behind Mega Man.
- Mega Man 10's Wily stages consist mostly of elements and enemies from the Robot Master stages, all mashed together. These stages frequently combine something from one stage with something from another to make a more difficult combination.
- This also applies to the Mega Man X games, most notably X5. Zero Space, the final area of the game, consists of Remember Me and Memory Lane levels, including Quick Man's stage elements from Mega Man 2, a boss fight with the Shadow Devil, a new version of the Yellow Devil fought in the first Mega Man 1, and a retooled version of Sigma's first fortress stage from X1, with a boss fight against Rangda Bangda from the second fortress stage at the end.
- The first Mega Man Battle Network has a multi-part final stage where each part is a smaller copy of the main Net areas you've been to previously, with each containing the same level gimmicks as its corresponding levels, only generally harder (i.e. melting fires with ice blocks in the FireMan copy, opening doors with numeric passcodes in NumberMan's area, etc.). Final Exam Stage.
- The final area in the sixth game does the same thing, having you go through a short segment based on each of previous boss areas in the game.
- The fight against Xion in Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days is one of the Zant Stage Rush variety.
- Silent Hill 1 has Nowhere, which is mostly comprised of corridors reminiscent of the Alchemilla Hospital connecting rooms from other parts of the game, such as Midwich Elementary School's classrooms and the Green Lion Antique Store.
- The final form of Lavos in Chrono Trigger randomly switches between time periods, the psychedelic background taking on the image of an area in that time period while Lavos uses attacks particular to enemies found in that era.
- In the later stages of Freedom Force, Time Master produces opponents and backdrops from earlier in the game to harass our heroes.
- The final platforming level of Stinkoman 20X6 takes everything from the rest of the game and throws it in a blender. Everything is a mishmash of stuff that has been seen before, such as the ground being made of the ground sprites from all the previous levels all next to each other, both kinds of ladders, and music which mashes it all together. Add in some wonky behavior (it is supposed to be a glitch level) and a boss made of platforms, spikes, and monsters, and you have the recipe for an epic finale.
- In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, the penultimate sector, Grus, is made up of sections modeled after all of the previous sectors, changing from area to area with no apparent pattern to it. This is explained as being the sector's Mother, Maya, drawing from the worst memories of the Investigation Team - which given what's happened to them is their memories of the Schwartzwald up to this point.
- In Athena, the final world is made up mostly of bits and pieces of the previous levels strung together, including the bosses.
- Tasty Planet Back for Seconds has multiple Final Exam Stages with an added twist ending in each.
- The aptly named Labyrinth of Memories in Tales of Vesperia is comprised of sections of various locations throughout the game including towns, and everything is colored in sepia tones to give it an antiquated look. Powered up versions of the story bosses can be found roaming around, though they aren't necessarily fought in the same place they were originally.
- In Rockman 4 Minus Infinity, Wily Stage 3 is a Ganon's Tower type, as it's a maze that uses graphics from every previous level, fitting the whole Boss Rush theme.
- In Bastion, while going through Jawson's Bog, the Kid finds himself traversing a rather dark variant of Memory Lane.
- Kid Icarus: Uprising features a Ganon's Tower type in "Chapter 9: Medusa's Final Battle". It's part of what makes its status as a Disc One Final Dungeon so convincing.
- The final level of Henry Hatsworth In The Puzzling Adventure combines the Memory Lane and World Terminus types. (You have to go through a short segment based on a previous level, which always ends in a arena gauntlet)
- Phantasmagoria 2 provides an unusual Adventure Game example. The Battle in the Center of the Mind at the end of the game brings back locations and characters from earlier in the game, some slightly twisted, and the rest outright nightmarish.
- In Journey, two levels near the end do this, Final Exam Stage-style (sans the death course). One is a vertical ascent with each 'floor' making you use the different kinds of cloth creatures you met in each previous level, in the same order. The relevant part of the journey is depicted as a wall glyph on each floor. The entire series of glyphs is then displayed in narrative order as a flashback of your journey during the cutscene. The very final level does this again (adding a section for the previous example itself) and also imitates the environment of each level in succession, but subtly enough that it's more of a Muscle Memory Lane.
- The final boss of Sonic Generations does a variation of the Zant Stage Rush. The debris floating around the arena is from the previous stages and the era they're from changes each time you hit the boss. (i.e. Classic Era at the beginning, Dreamcast Era after the first hit, and Modern Era after the second hit.)
- The Zero Escape series has used this.
- Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, has Zero's Workshop as the last puzzle room (but not the last puzzle) in the true ending. It is believed by the characters to be where Zero tested their puzzles and machinery before building them into the other rooms, and contains variants of puzzles the player has seen previously. The final puzzle also foreshadows the fact that the final "9" door actually needs a digital root of 8 to pass through—and exactly which players will be passing through it.
- The final puzzle room of Virtue's Last Reward, Q, also consists of a series of puzzles the player has seen previously. Additionally, the last puzzle of the level concerns the Ambidex Game, a central theme of the game.
- Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon's final dungeon has rooms with themes corresponding to the four previous areas.
- The GBA version of Crash Nitro Kart (but, interestingly enough, not the console version) has a Zant Stage Rush in the final race against Velo in which you teleport between four different track sections, each based on one of the four main worlds in the game.
- The final world of Mario Adventure has seven levels themed around the previous seven worlds before the final battle.
- Hel's Castle from Boktai has four towers that resemble the four dungeons you had to go through and each end with a powered-up version of the boss character. The puzzles are so notably Nintendo Hard that one of them has a "loser switch" you can press to solve it for you.
- Both the original Croc and Croc 2 have this with their final stages. Many of the level portions in the Crystal Island levels of Croc 1 are similar to earlier portions of the game, while Croc 2 quite literally uses the same level structure, only with radically different (and more difficult) placements of objects. In both games, the levels also have a much higher amount of enemies in them and other dangerous obstacles (even in the hub levels!).
- The Game Mod Death Wish for Blood contains a Secret Level called "Nightmare", which is made up mostly of fragments of previous levels, all stitched together and floating in a black void and illuminated by a sickly red light.
- The Doom Game Mod Scythe 2's final level, "Haunting Dreams". The map involves visiting (via teleporters) five areas, each taken from a previous level, but with stronger monsters.
- In Chapter 1 of Last Legacy, the credits level is made up of pieces of the other levels.
- The Dimension's Hasp in Bravely Default is an illusory realm conjured by Sage Yulyana. The level consists of replicas of areas of past dungeons, making this a case of Memory Lane (and a slight Ganon's Tower): The floors are, in order: Vestament Cave, the Anchem Ruins, the Wind Temple, Mount Fragmentum, the Witherwood, the Garderns, Starkfort, The Underflow, Central Command and the Everlast Tower.
- Rune Factory 4 has the Forest of Beginnings. which the protagonist travels to twice. The first time it is a nigh-lieral Ganon's Tower (though only of the areas s/he traveled to previous, not the ones after, save Leon Karnek). The 2nd time it becomes a Megadungeon called the Rune Prana and much be accessed from Leon Karnek. Rune Prana is more Final Exam type with a different take on the World Terminus type (the area replicas are bigger than the one area per stage for examples).
- The last world of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a review of every world in Donkey Kong Country Returns, which each stage being based around the most iconic challenges found in that particular area in the prequel.
- The first of the three final rooms, "The Chase", uses the Final Exam Stage variation of this trope. After spending most of the game solving puzzles with your matter gun and blocks, this room brings back most of the elements from the earlier puzzles, including jump pads, bounce pads, transporter windows, eye walls, riot balls and vanishing platforms (most of these mechanisms seldom appear after you've acquired the blue gun). It even brings back the red and blue staircases from the "Many Paths to Nowhere" room (one of the very first rooms).
- The "Failing Forward" room mentioned in the Empty Room Psych entry does this too, using all of the mentioned mechanisms (except for using laser beams and doors instead of bounce pads), which contributes even more to the anticlimax feeling at the end of the room.
Ah, but the memories.