As much a trope in and of itself as it is a category.
Videogames, especially Platform Games
, take place in a wide variety of different environments. As time has gone by, some of these environments tend to get used quite regularly. Many are more common to one genre than others, while some are almost universal, taking different forms depending on the genre. These almost always have their own style of music to match the level theme.
See also Law of Cartographical Elegance
, Sorting Algorithm Of Threatening Geography
and Videogame Geography
. Not to be confused with the kind of settings which alter some aspects of the game.
- Abandoned Laboratory
The deeper you go into the lab, the more likely you will find the horrors of unethical science.
- The Alcatraz
The inescapable prison that the protagonist will inevitably break out from. Or possibly into.
- All The Worlds Are A Stage
When the game's levels come Back for the Finale.
- Alternate World Map
More than one map, more than one world.
- Amusement Park
A level where the roller coasters are obstacle courses, the stands are mini-games, and the haunted house is the villain's hideout.
- Athletic Arena Level
A sports-themed level. Expect to see hockey players kicking baseballs at you in the middle of a basketball stadium.
- Automatic Level
A level that plays itself.
- Auto-Scrolling Level
A level in a Platform Game where the screen continually scrolls and you must keep up with it. Falling off the side of the screen could be fatal.
- Big Boo's Haunt
A haunted or otherwise creepy level. It's spooooooky!
- Big Fancy Castle
A huge labyrinthine castle with far more rooms than seems physically possible.
- Blackout Basement
A level where the lighting is inconsistent or flashes on and off.
- Bleak Level
A level where everything's scarier or more depressing.
- Bonus Dungeon
An optional level where the enemies and challenges are typically harder than the Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
- Bonus Level of Heaven
A level where you get to beat up angels and possibly God.
- Bonus Stage
An optional, often hidden level with lots of Power Ups or treasure, sometimes involving a Mini-Game.
- Boss Corridor
It's quiet... Too quiet.
- Boss-Only Level
A level that consists entirely of a Boss Battle.
- Breather Level
An easy level between two hard ones.
- Brutal Bonus Level
An incredibly difficult "extra" level not required to beat the game proper.
- Bubbly Clouds
A level which takes place in the sky. Didn't you know clouds are solid? Anyone can walk on them!
- Bubblegloop Swamp
The swamp level. Soggy.
- Build Like an Egyptian
A big, old, sandy pyramid.
- Cave Behind the Falls
Where are the secrets hiding? Look behind the waterfall. Can be a small feature in another level type or a level in and of itself.
- Chokepoint Geography
A dungeon that must be passed through in order to continue on to other areas.
- Container Maze
A labyrinth of crates or containers in a warehouse, storeroom or dock.
- Cyber Space
The internet as a physical level.
- Dead End Room
Once you enter, you can never leave.
- Death Mountain
A stage that takes place on a high, rocky mountain. Watch for falling rocks.
- Decade Dissonance
Two cities side-by-side which are complete opposites.
- Derelict Graveyard
A place with a lot of burned-out, ruined, rusty, or generally abandoned ships or trains.
- Disc One Final Dungeon
A dungeon that pretends to be the last one in the game, but is nowhere near it.
- Disconnected Side Area
A side area that looks like it's part of the current level, but actually can't be reached except via a long way around.
- Doomed Hometown
The hero's home town is most probably going to be destroyed in a fiery blaze, generally by the Big Bad.
- Down in the Dumps
A level that's based on a landfill or a scrapyard.
- Down the Drain
Amazing how little poop you see in these large, airy underground spaces.
- Drought Level of Doom
A level that's devoid of powerups or equipment, making you ration your loot.
- Dug Too Deep
A mine filled with evil!
- Dungeon Shop
An item shop subsisting somewhere in the dungeon.
- Dungeon Town
For when the monsters bring the fight to your front door instead of conveniently waiting for you to enter the world map.
- Dream Land
A world comprised of dreams...or nightmares.
- Elaborate Underground Base
Underground is the best place for villains to hide.
- Elevator Action Sequence
When you find yourself on a big, spacious elevator, rest assured you're going to have an extended multi-combatant smackdown.
- Eternal Engine
A vast factory complex or machine that can fill up a building, a city or even a whole planet.
- Fantastic Nature Reserve
A zoo, wildlife reserve, or other home for supposedly extinct or mythical creatures.
- Final Boss, New Dimension
You have to enter a different "dimension" to fight the final boss.
- First Town
The city you start out in, a fairly large and central area.
- Floating Continent
An otherwise-normal place that's floating in the sky, often for no adequately-explored reason.
- Four-Seasons Level
A level that has multiple versions of itself, each one themed after a different season.
- Game Level
Hopefully when you finish one, your princess is not in another castle.
- Gangplank Galleon
A pirate-themed area. ARR ME MATEYS!
- Gimmick Level
A level where some aspect of the game is radically changed, but the overall gameplay/genre stays the same.
- Graffiti Town
An urban area with chain-link fences and lots of colorful graffiti.
- Green Hill Zone
A calm, colorful (usually green), vibrant land that may have tropical elements; often the first level.
- Gusty Glade
A level with winds or currents that push you around to make things more difficult.
- Hailfire Peaks
A level that has two settings in one, e.g. half of the level is full of ice, the other half is full of fire.
- The Hedge of Thorns
The pricklier relative of The Lost Woods and Jungle Japes, where the player must keep from getting stabbed by the massive spikes in the maze of pokey plants.
- Hidden Elf Village
A village filled with slightly mystical beings who don't really want anything to do with the outside world.
- Hornet Hole
A level filled that takes place inside of a beehive like setting. OH GOD THE BEES!
- Hub City
The biggest city in the game, the center of everything.
- Hub Level
The space between the levels, sometimes as elaborate as a level itself.
- Island of Mystery
An island containing much strangeness.
- It's All Upstairs from Here
At some point in your quest, you will have to climb a tower.
- Joke Level
A level that feels out of place from the entire rest of the game, and is usually silly. Often a bonus/secret level.
- Jungle Japes
Tropical jungles. Flora and fauna are most probably dangerous.
- Lethal Lava Land
A stage taking place in a volcano or factory with red-hot metal involved.
- Levels Take Flight
A level taking place in the air on a flying vehicle, animal, etc.
- Lighthouse Point
Spooky haunted lighthouse.
- Locomotive Level
A level inside a train.
- The Lost Woods
A huge, shadowy, sometimes creepy forest.
- Macro Zone
An area where either the enemies are giant or you are tiny.
- Marathon Level
An incredibly long level that takes a huge amount of time to complete.
- The Maze
You will get lost here.
- Meat Moss
The walls are covered with flesh.
- Medieval European Fantasy
Fantasy stories inevitably take place in a pastiche of medieval Europe.
- Minecart Madness
You ride a minecart and have to avoid obstacles.
A dungeon or stage whose scope and content is smaller than those of a full-fledged one.
- Minigame Zone
An area in a videogame that is host to a number of minigames where the player can win items or cash.
- Minus World
Areas of the map a player can reach only by glitching or hacking.
- Mirror World
A level in a video game which is an alternate version of an area you were in earlier.
- Monster Arena
Arena, often in the first or second big city visitable, where the party can fight slightly more advanced monsters at their leisure.
- Monster Town
Baby monsters have to grow up somewhere, after all.
- Noob Cave
The first place where players actually begin Dungeon Crawling.
- No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom
Level architecture that forces the player down a linear path.
- Nostalgia Level
A level or area is designed in such a way as to evoke memories of a previous game in the series.
- Obstacle Ski Course
There is no such thing as a leisurely trip down the slopes.
- Ominous Floating Castle
A villainous base floating in the middle of absolutely nowhere.
- One Time Dungeon
A location that can't be revisited.
- The Outside World
Typically the vast explorable world beyond the tutorial, starting town or setting; narratively can be outside a place of confinement or seclusion.
- The Overworld
Usually an open field or whatever the 'neutral' terrain is for the genre, used as a go between for other points of interest.
- Palmtree Panic
A level on the beach. Sit back and relax, as long as you don't get killed by the Goombas.
- Patchwork Map
When the game world is considerably smaller than it would be in real life, you have to pack in a bunch of different biomes in a very small area.
- Peninsula of Power Leveling
A location with powerful enemies which lets you speed through Level Grinding.
- Pipe Maze
Not only do you have to get to the end...you'll probably be soaked by the time you're done.
- Planet Heck
A level of fire, brimstone and men with pitchforks.
- Player Headquarters
A location in a video game that serves as a base of operations.
- Port Town
It's a city that's got boats to get on.
Oogah! This place with cavemen! And dinosaurs!
- Randomly Generated Levels
When the computer generates a random map, dungeon, or level.
- Recurring Location
A place which is not the main hub or boss area in a series, but which appears over and over again within the same series.
- Remilitarized Zone
A level that suddenly is full of artillery, bombs, and fighter planes.
- Remixed Level
A level you've already been to, but which has changed in some way.
- Level in Reverse
...in some cases, by flipping it upside down and/or making you run it in the other direction.
- Roaring Rapids
A watery level where you get dragged along fast.
- Scenic Tour Level
Any form of scene setting in a game that allows you to explore a very limited area of the setting while getting a tour of the level.
- Secret Level
An optional level that isn't required to finish the game, and often has some gimmick involved with its design.
- Shark Tunnel
A transparent underwater tunnel. Common in Racing Games.
- Shifting Sand Land
The desert stage, where it's flat and immense and the heat is intense...
- Ship Level
Sneak or blow your way through the narrow corridors and tight spaces of a ship, which may or may not still be floating by the time you're done with it.
- Sinister Subway
It's a subway, but haunted and spooky and dripping with stale water and monster-infested.
- Skate Heaven Is A Place On Earth
You can skate anywhere, everywhere, and in fact must do so.
- Slippy-Slidey Ice World
The ice level. Less friction, more penguins.
- Ice Palace
A big, shiny palace made out of ice. Look out for ice spikes.
- Space Compression
The solution to dealing with limited rendering tech and potential player boredom with extremely large game worlds.
- Space Zone
The space level. Needless to say, does not follow actual laws of physics.
- Swamps Are Evil
They go into a swamp...but they never come out.
- Techno Wreckage
A dilapidated high tech zone.
- Temple of Doom
An ancient temple or city, complete with ancient traps designed to anciently behead or disembowel you.
An inexplicably technologically-advanced area in a place where it obviously doesn't belong.
- Underground Level
Lots of rocks and stalactites and stalagmites and critters with glowy eyes.
- Under the Sea
And of course we never run out of air, because that would ruin the fun.
- Underwater Ruins
Majestic, decrepit ruins of something or other surviving under the sea for millenia. Probably with fully-functioning treasure chests.
- The Very Definitely Final Dungeon
OK, given how far you're into the game, and the vibe you're getting from that skull-shaped fortress...yep, this is the final dungeon.
- Where It All Began
When the location where the game ends and the location where the game begins are one and the same.
An especially whimsical, surreal, or nonsensical area in a videogame.
- The Wild West
In the good ol' frontier, alongside the Wutai of Ninjas and Gangplank Galleon or Pirates
- Womb Level
You're inside a big monster. Watch out for the spleen - it spits acid.
Obligatory East Asian pagoda-filled analogue. Expect to see ninjas, samurai, kung fu masters, geisha, and/or The Thing That Goes Doink.