"Here's a little bonus roomThe friendly Bonus Stage (not to be confused with the less friendly Bonus Dungeon and Brutal Bonus Level) is a level or area in a video game that has all or many of the following traits:
'Cuz I know you've had it tough,
And here's a little bonus tune
'Bout collecting real cool stuff..."
'Cuz I know you've had it tough,
And here's a little bonus tune
'Bout collecting real cool stuff..."
— "The Li'l Bonus Room," Skullmonkeys
- Does not need to be accessed/completed to complete the game (though it may be needed for 100% Completion).
- Is entered after the end of a regular level, or at points within a regular level.
- Usually hidden, or requires a certain level of performance or number of pickups, but in some games they always appear at set points.
- Contains opportunities to get large amounts of points, One Ups, continues, Power Ups, and even Bonus Stage Collectables.
- Typically, it is a Mini-Game, or differs significantly in some other way from normal gameplay.
- If it's possible to die at all, it will only kick you out of the bonus stage without taking a life.
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- Battletoads in Battlemaniacs had continuous scrolling bonus stages following the second and fifth levels. The object was to collect the bowling pins or dominoes for points and avoid the black ones and enemies.
- The Battletoads Arcade Game had a Street Fighter II-like timed stage after the third level to demolish a Rat Fighter like the one from Battletoads and Double Dragon.
- Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu has hidden bells in many places. When Jackie picks up a bell, he is instantly transported to a "special stage," where he can win points, by punching/kicking things or jumping on clouds, that can be spent on health, continues, and Psycho Waves. There's a show of fireworks for a perfect score.
- In between certain stages of Dynamite Dux, Bin must fight Pin in a boxing ring for points. If only one person is playing, Bin fights a computer-controlled Pin; if two are playing, they must duel.
- Jaws has a bonus stage involving bombing jellyfish from a plane.
- Street Fighter
- Super Smash Bros. has a few staple bonus rounds, the most enduring one being "Break the Targets". Others have included "Board the Platforms" and "Race to the Finish". In the 3DS game's Smash Run, these bonus rounds were repurposed into bonus challenges for power-ups (in the case of Break the Targets) and endgame rulesets (in the case of Race to the Finish).
First Person Shooter
- Star Trek: Elite Force 2 has a Bonus Stage which is a direct pastiche of Super Mario Bros.; you even have go drop down a giant pipe to get to it.
- Batman Doom, unusually for a vanilla Doom mod, has one of these. During your first boss fight with the Scarecrow, mayor Kroll is tied to a ticking bomb in the vicinity. If the bomb explodes, the level ends and you go to the next one (map16) like normal. But if you manage to actually defeat Scarecrow before the explosion, you go to map31. It's a big, empty (and thus somewhat creepy) city map where you're trying to collect a bunch of random bonuses before you can access the exit and continue onto map16. This is also where you can access the Secret Level.
- Devil World has the "Bonus Box" at the end of every round, where Tamagon searches for a 1-Up hidden in one of six boxes. As the Devil has flown away, Tamagon can for once control the direction of scrolling by stepping on arrows.
- Lady Bug for the ColecoVision had the Vegetable Harvest Screen as a reward for spelling S-P-E-C-I-A-L, while the arcade original simply gave the player a free game credit.
- Saturn Bomberman had "Bomber Catcher," a Power-Up-grabbing crane game.
- Wrecking Crew has a find-the-coin bonus minigame after every fourth stage.
- Super Mario Bros.
- Mario Bros. had the enemy-free "Test Your Skill" stages, where the objective was to collect coins within the time limit.
- In the original Super Mario Bros., going down certain pipes or climbing up hidden vines would take you to hidden areas filled with coins. Later games in the series kept these in-level bonus areas but added entirely separate levels, sometimes hidden, sometimes not, in which you could get loads of points, lives, or items.
- Super Mario Bros. 3 has an even larger number of different kinds of bonus area/level. Underground coin rooms, beanstalk coin rooms, the slot-machine Mini-Game, the Memory Mini Game, the treasure ship, etc.
- Super Mario World has, in addition to coin rooms, a Mini-Game where Mario must hit various cycling blocks and try to get 3 shapes in a row to win 1-Ups. It is accessed by accumulating 100 stars via breaking the tape at the end of the main levels (they're absent in Fortresses and Castles).
- In Super Mario Land on the Game Boy, in addition to coin rooms, taking the harder-to-reach exit to a stage would lead to a bonus game where, depending on your timing, you could get lives or a power-up. One room, notably, exaggerates this trope by having all of the space in the room except for the floor and exit pipe filled completely with coins. It was impossible to collect all coins unless you used a thrown Super Ball (which, unlike other Mario games' fireballs, can collect coins, bounce at a 45-degree angle upon hitting a surface, and are unaffected by gravity). A few of the coin rooms have Spikes of Doom, allowing you to die in a coin room.
- Super Mario Galaxy 2 has scattered Warp Pipes that lead to various rooms with free stuff available. Some contained dice which can give coins, Star Bits, or OneUps. Others contain many coins that, if collected soon enough, give a 1Up.
- In Ristar, each level contains a secret entrance to a bonus stage where you must complete a task within a time limit to get a special item; collecting enough of these would unlock passwords that you could enter to modify various aspects of gameplay.
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- In the original Sonic the Hedgehog, the Special Stage consisted of a rotating maze with the objective being to reach the end and collect the Chaos Emerald. They were accessed by jumping into a giant ring that appeared at the end of the first two acts of each zone when you had at least fifty rings.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2 featured a race through a pseudo-3D halfpipe with the objective of collecting enough rings to pass through three checkpoints while dodging bombs. These were accessed via Star Posts: having fifty rings when touching one would create a halo of stars, jumping through which begins the stage. This style of Special Stage was brought back in Sonic 3 D Blast and Sonic Pocket Adventure.
- In the 8-bit (Master System and Game Gear) game, the Chaos Emeralds were hidden in the levels but collecting enough rings gave you access to the bonus stage full of rings, extra lives and one continue per stage.
- Sonic 3 was unique for having bonus stages dedicated to the Chaos Emeralds (3D mazes where you must "Get Blue Spheres"), as well as three less elaborate bonus stages for the express purpose of farming rings, lives, and shields — the Gumball Machine, sort-of-Pinball, and Slots.
- The bonus stages were brought back for Sonic Heroes, which was notable because the other 3D games (both before and after Heroes) just automatically gave you the Chaos Emeralds over the course of the main plot. Of course, those Emeralds were still necessary to reach the final story...
- SonicRush did the same thing, but only for Sonic's story - Blaze got a Sol Emerald automatically after every boss fight. The Chaos Emeralds AND the Sol Emeralds were both necessary to access the final stage in this case.
- Earthworm Jim
- As sort of a weird example, in Earthworm Jim, each regular level would be followed by "Andy Asteroids?", a race with Psy-Crow. Beating him would allow you to go on to the next stage without incident and possibly rack up an extra continue, while losing to him forced you to fight him before going on to the next stage.
- In Earthworm Jim 2, the same was done with a minigame where you had to use a giant marshmallow to bounce Peter Puppy's puppies to safety after Psy-Crow throws them out of a window. If you drop too many, Peter transforms into his Superpowered Evil Side and attacks you.
- In Skullmonkeys, the bonus rooms are accessed by collecting the "Swirly Q"s and entering a special exit at the end of the level. It's most remembered for the song that plays there, which must be heard to be believed.
- Donkey Kong Country and its sequels have loads of secret areas filled with goodies, some of which behave more like part of a normal level and some of which behave more like levels in their own right.
- Donkey Kong Country Returns has hidden rooms that contain many bananas, banana coins, and balloons. Collecting everything reveals a Puzzle Piece necessary for 100% Completion. Falling off does not result in death.
- In Cool Spot, collecting 75 Cool Points in a level unlocked a bonus stage after the level was finished in which you could get 1-ups and continues.
- In Dynamite Headdy, putting on the Liberty Head transports you to a bonus game where you try to shoot a certain number of basketballs through moving hoops within a time limit. Each time you successfully complete it, you get one of the characters in the four-character password needed to unlock the Bonus Boss after the end credits. You are transported back to the same point in the main level when the bonus game ends.
- The first Crash Bandicoot has bonus stages that are gotten to by collecting three of certain items. The later games have one on each level, which you just have to step on a pad to get to. Some levels have a second pad that only appears if you get that far without dying, or have the corresponding colored Gem in your hands, which leads to a more-dangerous-than-normal-play Death Stage.
- Jazz Jackrabbit had a variation where, after each world, you would get a bonus round, where Jazz would run around (in Third-Person Shooter mode, minus the shooter part, rather than Side Scroller mode) in a semi-3D maze collecting gems. If you met the target within the time limit, you got a 1-up.
- Every world in Purple has one bonus stage which can be unlocked by finding a hidden switch. These stages contain lots of 1-ups.
- Bug! has two kinds. The first plays like the regular game itself (except you had to collect gold objects for extra lives). You could die in those, if that happened you'd exit the bonus level. The other is a Pass Through the Rings bonus, with an extra continue should you make it to the end.
- Aladdin games
- The Lion King has bugs that can be collected to play bonus games as Timon or Pumbaa.
- In Nuts & Milk, the third of every set of five levels was a timed bonus round. Yogurt would be waiting on a box in the middle of the screen instead of in a house at the top left, Nuts was replaced by fireballs that moved slowly around the screen, and collecting fruits were optional, but they otherwise played like ordinary levels. However, dying in a bonus round wouldn't affect the number of lives.
- Bubble Bobble
- Bubble Bobble Part 2 for the NES: In each bonus game after each Boss Battle, Bub must play volleyball or one-on-one basketball (both Luck-Based and Timed, and there's a really weird twist to the "basketball" game in there) or get more of a certain item than his opponent. These games are very Nintendo Hard too, and the player will lose more than he/she would win. Bonuses range from various point bonuses to a huge item and/or five extra One Ups.
- Getting more of a certain item than the opponent does, however: that's a Shout-Out to the original game which has a bonus game - In the first Bubble Bobble, the player(s) race to get the most of a type of item on the screen in a time limit.
- Mighty Bomb Jack has the unusual inversion of this trope, a Penalty Stage. Players who get too greedy collecting Mighty Coins or Mighty Drinks will be sent to a torture room, which has enemies but no prizes or exits. Escape is obtained by jumping fifty times.
- Disney Princess Enchanted Journey has Belle's world, unlocked after beating the game.
- In The Adventures of Lomax, when you defeat 50 enemies, the exit at the end of the current level will bring you to a bonus stage, where you have a limited time to collect loads of money. The stage itself is entirely made out of money, too. No enemies to be found, and dying only brings you to the next level.
- The Smurfs (1994): Collecting enough stars in all but the Gameboy Advance version will take you into a bonus level.
- Gon for the Super Famicom has three timed bonus minigames: "Gon Eats Apples," "Gon Makes a Sculpture," and "Gon Steps on a Crocodile."
- In Freedom Planet, collecting a yin-yang token would take you to a bonus room where spheres you collected up to that point could be redeemed to roll a die to win more spheres, shields, or extra lives.
- In The Cat in the Hat, collecting four keys and taking them to a Bonus Door would take you to a room where you'd have to outrun some Advancing Wall of Doom (either horizontal or vertical) to collect a gem. These gems could be used to unlock the super secret bonus level.
- Milons Secret Castle has hidden music boxes that transport Milon to an area in which he collects musical notes to earn money.
- The credit rolls of the Tetris The Grand Master series have you continue playing. Some modes have you simply continue playing as the credits roll, with no effect on your score or grade. Some others, like TGM2's and TGM3's Master mode, have the "disappearing roll," in which pieces vanish 5 seconds after locking down; in TGM3 clearing lines during this part will add a small fraction of a whole grade. Then there's the infamous "invisible roll" in which pieces vanish upon locking; in TGM2, this is required to earn the Grand Master rank (failing will net you an M grade instead), and in TGM3, this nets even more grades per line clear, and clearing enough lines and surviving are just part of the requirements for TGM3's Grand Master rank.note Finally, TGM3's Shirase credit roll has you playing with fully-visible double-sized pieces, but has no effect on your grade.
- You access these in Angry Birds by hitting the golden eggs in some levels.
- In Binary Land, the third stage out of every five was a bonus level where the goal was to collect hearts.
- Destroy The Godmodder has had a few. Team Fortress 2 mode in the second game, as well as the first intermission.
Shoot Em Up
- A classic example is the Challenge Stages of Galaga.
- The US manual for Deathsmiles advertises the Ice Palace in MBL as this. Under normal conditions, it is exceptionally easy to rack up points and max out your lifebar (scores of over 11 billion from the stage by itself are not unheard of, making it the single high-scoring stage). Unfortunately, if you happen to be doing too good, the background will be red instead of blue, and you'll have to contend with it at Rank 999, where accumulating points is much more difficult.
- Space Invaders
- Space Invaders Extreme has bonus rounds that are activated by shooting red or flashing UFOs. Inside, you have to shoot a certain number of armoured or evasive invaders within a time limit. Your reward? When you exit, your cannon becomes a Wave Motion Gun for at least 15 seconds.
- Space Invaders Extreme 2 streamlines this feature by having the main stage keep going while the bonus stage takes place on the top of the screen, which you have to shoot upwards to.
- In Space Harrier, stages 5 and 12 have you leap onto a friendly dragon and score points by flying into everything in sight.
Turn Based Strategy
- In Oasis, bonus stage where most of the map consists of large oasis. There is also a single town. Once the glyph and the city is discovered, victory is guaranteed.
- Crüe Ball has a hidden game where you play Breakout against exploding skeletons.
- In American Football, the "extra point" and "two-point conversion" come after a major score, and failure usually has no consequence other than not getting the extra points. However, in extreme cases, it's possible for the other team to score. Much the same applies to a conversion in Rugby Union.
- Most modern Pinball games have a Video Mode, which temporarily suspends the playfield action for a short video game.