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Green Hill Zone
A calm, colorful (usually green), vibrant land that may have tropical elements. Very often the first level and usually easier than the other stages, to let the player get used to the controls, powerups, and enemies. Often the first area of a Platform Game, and typically the home of the Warmup Boss. Some games have lots of levels with this theme, usually mixing around the time of day or adding other elements so these levels don't all look the same. A more cheerful subtype of Green Hill Zone is a flower-themed level.

Kind of like Ghibli Hills, except for the whole Everything Trying to Kill You thing.

Named for the first stage of Sonic The Hedgehog 1, which pretty much defines this trope.

Compare Palmtree Panic, a beach-themed Sister Trope.

Examples:

  • The first Ape Escape has Fossil Field: small, easy level with green grass and palm trees.
  • Athena: World of Forest, the first level.
  • Banjo-Kazooie
    • Spiral Mountain, Banjo's home and the starting area of the first two games.
    • Mumbo Mountain, the first level of the first game, and Mayhem Temple, the first level of Banjo-Tooie. (with an added Mayincatec theme)
    • Nutty Acres in Nuts & Bolts fits this trope to a tee save for one important detail: everything is synthetic, including the trees, ground, and even the sky.
  • The first two levels of the Binary Boy are set in a peaceful grassy field, during midday and at dusk, respectively.
  • Insectia in Bug!, a grassland level which is obviously full of insect Mooks (and the occasional snail).
  • Grasstown in Cave Story is one of the earlier stages, but its difficulty level is a notch above easy.
    • The Mimiga village might be thought of as an example; it's greener than most of the other areas and gives you a chance to practice jumping at the beginning, with a Warmup Boss and some easy enemies in the Cemetery.
      • And to practice firing downwards (Jump then hold down), on one enemy who's weapon blocks attacks.
  • N. Sanity Beach and the surrounding tropical forests in many of the Crash Bandicoot games.
  • Croc's first world is like this, though its levels do contain lava and underground sections.
  • Act I of Diablo II takes place in the forested areas between the Rogues' encampment and their Monastery.
  • Donkey Kong 64 has Jungle Japes, a basic tropical forest themed level where you first learn about many game mechanics and acquire basic moves.
  • The first few levels of every Ecco the Dolphin game, albeit in Blue Water Zone form...
  • The green, temperate Ascadian Isles in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, in very great contrast with the Bitter Coast swamps, or even worse, the Ashlands and Molag Amur. Also subverted in the Grazelands, dotted with rogue Ashlanders and Daedric shrines full of insanely powerful monsters, with the occasional monster out in the wild.
    • Falkreath Hold in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim appears to be a relatively peaceful boreal forest surrounded by wartorn mountains, tundra, swamps, and glaciers.
  • The first couple of levels in Eversion.
  • Besaid Island in Final Fantasy X being the first location in Spira, and having a tropical feel.
  • New Bodhum -003 AF-, where Final Fantasy XIII-2 starts, is an idyllic seaside town with lots of greenery and hills. It is populated by a large number of monsters, but then again, it's located on Gran Pulse.
  • First level of Flower.
  • Two of the Guild Wars starting zones are this type of terrain: Pre-searing Ascalon and Shing Jea island.
    • Guild Wars 2 has Queensdale, Metrica Province and Caledon Forest — the human, asura and sylvari starting zones, respectively.
  • Gunner begins in some grassy field, with some bushes you can interact with, before proceeding into the more urban area.
  • In Jables's Adventure, the first area you encounter is the green fields outside the town. Ironically, it may be one of the harder areas in the game, as you start off with few health points and no weapon—and the path to the weapon has a number of erratically-moving bird enemies.
  • Sandover Village in Jak and Daxter.
  • The planet Diamondus in Jazz Jackrabbit.
  • The first sector in Jumper Three. Sector 5 is the rainier version of this.
  • Destiny Islands from Kingdom Hearts provides the tropic-themed Doomed Hometown Sora starts up from. It's all downhill from there on.
  • Most Kirby games have such a level, usually titled Green Greens after the first game's example.
  • The first level of Klonoa fits this exactly. Lush fields, simple gameplay, and overall idyllic. Klonoa 2's first level is an inversion, however: it's a rocky and cliffy area, set in the middle of a huge storm.
  • In MapleStory, these levels are Maple Island and Lith Harbour.
  • Freeware Ninja Senki has Scenes 9 and 10, which entirely take place in the tree tops of the large forest. Interestingly, the platforms aren't natural but are the result of enemy Red Ninjas using automatic circular saws on the trees. You even get to see some trees with the bark cleanly stripped off the trunk.
  • Blue Lagoon in Pangya, and Pink Wind to an extent. Averted with Blue Water, which is Blue Lagoon with more obstacles interfering with shots, most notably the rock pillar on hole 6.
  • Parum in the Phantasy Star Universe series. Its improbably idyllic, Ghibli Hills-esque nature is actually lampshaded and justified in Phantasy Star Portable: it's all artificially created. All of Parum's real wilderness was destroyed in the backstory's 500-year-long war between the races.
    • Phantasy Star Online Episode 1 starts you off in the forest area, filled with mostly harmless mooks.
  • In all main series Pokémon games, the first area outside the player character's hometown is a grassy area with low level trainers and Com Mons.
    • The tutorial and first several races in Pokémon Dash take place on a series of lush, green islands.
  • In Psycho Fox, despite its name, Zone 1 (Mystical Mountains) fits this trope fairly well.
  • The first forest levels of the original Rayman game before the game becomes Nintendo Hard.
  • In Rift, the first Guardian leveling zone outside the Noob Cave is one. And it's swarming with nasty faeries.
  • Planet Flora from Ristar.
  • The first world in Scribblenauts is in a forest.
  • The first world in Sigma Star Saga is the Forest Planet.
  • This is a recurring theme in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, showing up in almost every game. It's easier to list the exceptions.
    • Sonic 2 for the Master System/Game Gear is the earliest exception: its own Green Hill counterpart, imaginatively titled Green Hills, doesn't appear until the fourth zone. It's hardly a warm-up level either; the third act contains a series of blind jumps which makes the player lose lives like water in a sieve.
    • Angel Island starts out as a textbook example of this, until halfway through the first act, when the miniboss sets the place ablaze.
    • Mecha Green Hill, from Sonic the Hedgehog Chaos on Master System, is a Green Hill Zone mechanised by Eggman, with polluted streams choked with oil and chemicals, and exploding coconuts falling from mechanized palm trees. Complete with a reworked version of the music from the previous game's Green Hills. The Japanese Sonic CD theme was also a reworked version of Green Hills.
    • In the time-traveling Sonic CD, the Good Futures of Zones are generally garden-like paradises or clean hi-tech utopias completely devoid of enemies, with technology working in harmony with nature. They are also the easiest versions of the levels to pass through. The Bad Futures on the other hand are hideously polluted nightmares that are much more difficult to complete.
    • The Labyrinth of the Sky from Sonic Labyrinth.
    • Sonic Advance 3 is another exception. The first zone is Route 99, a city level. The Green Hill Zone comes afterward.
    • Sonic Colors has Planet Wisp, a mash-up of Green Hill Zone and Eternal Engine. Unlike most examples, it's the fourth zone of six in the game.
    • Plant Kingdom in Sonic Rush Adventure is a mix of this and Palmtree Panic. As is Leaf Storm in Sonic Rush
  • The Spyro the Dragon games make use of this trope, with the exception of the Legend of Spyro games.
  • Corneria in the Star Fox series.
  • Wonderland in Theme Park World, which takes place entirely in a lush grassy field.
  • Most Super Mario Bros. games place the first level here, being usually set in a cutesy magic fantasy kingdom of sorts. Still, just because later levels are unusually green and leafy doesn't mean they aren't harder (see World 3 in Super Mario Bros. 2 and the Forest of Illusion in Super Mario World).
    • In Super Mario Galaxy, the first planet of Good Egg Galaxy is your standard grassy fare, but the rest of it is a hodgepodge of various elements. Honeyhive Galaxy is this trope overlapped with The Lost Woods.
    • Frequent in the Mario & Luigi games:
    • Mario Adventure has the first world, Koopa Plains.
    • Something series:
      • Night Of Spikes in Something. It's unusual because it takes place at night and it has a lot of spikes.
      • Where Are My Coins? It is a level where Mario somehow lost his coins and must retrieve 75 coins in order to reach the normal exit.
      • The Flower Island in Something Else. A major portion of World 5 takes place on said island.
  • This is a common theme for the earlier levels in Super Monkey Ball.
  • Beanstalk Way from Wario World, although it's the sixth of eight levels.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl has a stage called Green Hill Zone, from the Sonic game, and it fits visually; however, the dips, hazards and collapsing middle make it quite complicated. The stage Battlefield fits this trope better.
  • Titan Quest at first appears to play this straight, but as the game progresses it turns out most of the environments are actually fairly pretty and welcoming.
  • Lampooned in Toothpaste For Dinner on October 18, 2009: Water, ice and lava are OK for later world themes, but the first world must always be just "outside world".
  • Warcraft 3 begins with the human campaign, the first part of which takes place in green and pleasant farming country before progressing to some noticeably more hostile environments.
  • Bunny Hop Meadow from Wonder Dog.
  • In World of Warcraft, Mulgore (starting area for Tauren), Elwynn Forest (Humans), Eversong Woods (Blood Elves) and Azuremyst Isle (Draenei) are straight examples, being lush, green rolling hills, with varying degrees of forest cover and untamed wilderness. The Lost Isles for the Goblins are more tropical (complete with exploding volcano). Meanwhile the Night Elf areas have a more Lost Woods flavor. The other starting areas are quite different. Some other areas such as the Arathi Highlands and Hillsbrad Foothills qualify.
  • The planet that the player, Colonel Lifeson crash-lands his ship on is this in The Crystal Key. He even comes back to it later with a stolen alien ship, and lands right behind his own craft.

Ghibli HillsTropes of NatureGarden of Evil
Graffiti TownVideogame SettingsGusty Glade
Sonic the HedgehogImageSource/Video GamesSonic the Hedgehog 2

alternative title(s): Ghibli Hill Zone; Emerald Hill Zone
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