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Green Hill Zone

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A calm, colorful (usually green), vibrant land that may have tropical elements. Thanks to the Sorting Algorithm of Threatening Geography these are often the very first level (or world) and usually easier than the other stages, to let the player get used to the controls, powerups, and enemies, 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.

While these are often found in Platform Games, Green Hill Zone can exist in other genres as well. In non linear games a grassy nature themed area is typically The Overworld.

Kind of like the video game version of Ghibli Hills, except a lot more dangerous.

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Named for the first stage of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Compare Palmtree Panic, a beach-themed area that's also a common choice for the first stage (later Sonic games often had elements of both), and The Lost Woods, a forest themed area. See also Noob Cave for a similar warm-up area in less level-based games.


Examples:

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     Action Adventure 
  • The starting locations in various entries of The Legendof Zelda are such, with a particularly 'grassy' example being the Great Plateau from The Legendof Zelda Breath Of The Wild.
  • 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.
  • The Shantae series has Scarecrow Fields/Lilac Fields. It's a flat area found immediately to the east of Scuttle Town filled with tall grass, easily killed Scarecrow enemies, and only a few Bottomless Pits to jump over. It's commonly the first overworld area that Shantae must travel through in the games.
  • Thorntail Hollow in Star Fox Adventures.

     Action Game 
  • Gunner begins in some grassy field, with some bushes you can interact with, before proceeding into the more urban area.
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     Adventure Game 
  • 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.

     Fighting Game 
  • The Super Smash Bros. series has the actual Green Hill Zone from the Sonic games as a fighting arena in several games; however it's not the easiest stage, the dips, hazards and collapsing middle make it quite complicated. The stage Battlefield from Brawl onwards also fit; being largely peaceful grassland with trees devoid of any obstacles.

     First-Person Shooter 

     Hack and Slash 

     Party Game 
  • Mario Party:
    • Windmillville from Mario Party 7.
    • Wiggler's Garden from Mario Party DS.
    • Toad Road from Mario Party 9.

     Pinball 

     Platform Game 
  • 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 tutorial level of the first game. It returns in Banjo-Tooie although it's significantly gloomier thanks to the events of the game's intro and has been heavily ransacked by Gruntilda's minions.
    • Mumbo's Mountain, the first actual level of the first game, and Mayahem Temple, the first level of Banjo-Tooie (with an added Mayincatec theme).
    • Click Clock Wood is the penultimate level of Banjo-Kazooie, it has a surprisingly gentle and happy feel to it despite it being one of the most difficult levels in the game and the last "normal" level before you face Gruntilda.
    • Cliff Farm in Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge (with a farm theme). Also Spiral Mountain returns as the game's Hub Level.
    • Nutty Acres in Nuts & Bolts serves this role in terms of gameplay though its setting has a twist: 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).
  • Cave Story:
    • Grasstown 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.
    • Occurs again in Croc 2 with the Sailor village, mixing this with Palmtree Panic thanks to the beachfront/jungle theme, with two cave levels to boot. Gets spiritually inverted with the bonus levels: you revisit the same locations, only now they're filled to the brim with Dantinis and traps.
  • Donkey Kong
  • The first couple of levels in Eversion.
  • First level of Flower.
  • Pangu Lagoon in Freedom Planet. Unusual in that this is a late-game stage (with difficulty to match). Dragon Valley, the actual first stage, has some shades of this, but is much more rocky and mountainous than more examples.
  • Gex: Enter the Gecko had the Toon TV levels which true to the Trapped in TV Land gimmick of the series were also parodies of Screwy Squirrel cartoons.
  • Sandover Village in Jak and Daxter.
  • The planet Diamondus in Jazz Jackrabbit.
    • JazzJackrabbit 2 would have this, but Jazz has to escape the castle dungeon first. If you go on an episode-by-episode approach however, it's fulfilled with the Flashback episode, which has Jazz revisiting the same worlds from the first episode of the original game in the same order, meaning Diamondus is up first yet again.
  • The first sector in Jumper Three. Sector 5 is the rainier version of this.
  • Kirby:
  • Klonoa:
    • The first level of Klonoa: Door to Phantomile fits this exactly. Lush fields, simple gameplay, and overall idyllic.
    • The first level of Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil is an inversion, however: it's a rocky and cliffy area, set in the middle of a huge storm.
  • 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.
  • In Psycho Fox, despite its name, Zone 1 (Mystical Mountains) fits this trope.
  • The first forest levels of the original Rayman game before the game becomes Nintendo Hard.
  • Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc has the Fairy Council, surrounded by a quiet forest where the game starts off.
  • Planet Flora from Ristar.
  • Shovel Knight, as a tribute to the classic 8-bit platformers it was based on, starts in one of these, a level known as "Plains of Passage."
  • The Trope Namer comes from the first game of the Sonic the Hedgehog series, this type of level showing up in almost every game as the first level often near the ocean and mixed with Palmtree Panic. It's easier to list the exceptions.
    • The Sega Genesis version of Sonic 2 throws a little twist on the "Green Hill" trope in the Hill Top Zone. It is the fifth zone in the game, and combines it with Lethal Lava Land and Death Mountain.
    • Sonic 2 for the Sega Master System/Game Gear is the earliest exception: it's first level is underground and 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 Adventure 2 has the original Green Hill Zone as an unlockable, but during the main game the similar levels appear about 1/3 in and are more Jungle Japes. The first levels of the two stories are a city for the Hero side, and a prison base for the Dark side.
    • 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, and could be played later than that thanks to having the option to do certain stages out of order.
    • Plant Kingdom in Sonic Rush Adventure is a mix of this and Palmtree Panic. As is Leaf Storm in Sonic Rush to a lesser extent.
    • Along with the Trope Namer, Sonic Generations features other iterations of this trope from previous Sonic games. In the HD version in particular, the Seaside Hill stage that originally appeared in Sonic Heroes as the first stage goes more towards Underwater Ruins and is stage 6, while Planet Wisp from Sonic Colors is the last level in the game and aside from a minute or so of greenery, has the main focus be on the Eternal Engine, much like the original.
    • Windy Hill Zone in Sonic Lost World is this, featuring plenty of archetypes from the Green Hill Zone. Sky Road Zone is also this to a lesser extent, as it takes place high up in the clouds.
    • The titular Green Hill Zone reappears in Sonic Mania. It pays homage to the original Green Hill Zone but with added features and a midboss.
    • It appears once again in Sonic Forces, although this time it appears to be mixed with Shifting Sand Land due to Dr. Eggman's industries taking over the area.
  • The Spyro the Dragon games make use of this trope, with the exception of the Legend of Spyro games. In Spyro the Dragon, much of the Artisans homeworld and two of its subworlds are this; in Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!, it's the Summer Forest homeworld; and in Spyro: Year of the Dragon, it's the Sunrise Spring homeworld.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • The series is the Trope Codifier and most games place the first level here, serving as a relatively quiet setting with some occasional underground and high-altitude levels. In certain games, later (or even post-game) levels are unusually green and leafy, but this does not mean they are easy (see Worlds 3 and 5 in Super Mario Bros. 2, the first half of World 5 in Super Mario Bros. 3, and some of the levels from Special Zone in Super Mario World).
    • Super Mario 64: The first stage, Bob-omb Battlefield, combines this setting with some subtle Remilitarized Zone elements. Aside from the giant Chain Chomp, none of the regular enemies are big or threatening. There's also the grassy area outside Princess Peach's Castle, though it's devoid of enemies and technically not a level.
    • Bianco Hills in Super Mario Sunshine is a standard green area, but it has a small mountain village and a large pond present as well.
    • 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 Hornet Hole.
    • Yoshi Star Galaxy in Super Mario Galaxy 2 consists of planetoids made of plain grasslands and/or marble platforms, and only one is a mountain filled with fossils that has to be climbed.
    • The very fist stage of both the normal and special quests in Super Mario 3D Land are both Green Hill Zones, then further stages are scattered through the game. In Super Mario 3D World, the map of World 1 and many of its levels are grass-themed as well (plus some levels from later worlds, such as Sprawling Savanna).
    • Cascade Kingdom in Super Mario Odyssey is actually the second world visited in the game, but even Cap Kingdom, the true first world, is more of a Gray Hill Zone.
    • Yoshi's Island:
      • Two of the first stages that can be selected in Yoshi's Story are "Treasure Hunt" and "Surprise!"
      • The first world in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, its two sequels and Yoshi's Woolly World. In all of them Yoshi and Baby Mario venture through plain grasslands where the biggest threats are the larger enemies (such as giant Chomps). Caves and underground areas are occasionally present as well.
    • Wario Land:
      • Wario Land II has several levels with this theme in Chapter 2 ("SS Tea Cup") and the alternate Chapter 2 ("Invade Wario Castle").
      • Wario Land 3 has "Out of the Woods" and "The Vast Plain" among the first few levels you trek through.
      • Wario Land 4 has "Palm Tree Paradise" and "Wildflower Fields" in the Emerald Passage, though whether these are the first levels you go through or not is up to you due to the nonlinear structure of the game.
    • Beanstalk Way from Wario World is a lush, grassy valley filled with flowers, beanstalks, and other plant life. It even features monstrous trees that get in the way. Contrary to the usual expectations of this trope, it's a late-game level, being the sixth of eight.
    • Super Princess Peach has the first world, Ladida Plains.
  • Mario Fangames
    • 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.
    • Piranha Grassland and Piranha Hill in Super Mario World: Piranha Island. They are the first two levels in the game. They are unique in that they introduce Mario to the main gimmick: an abundance of Piranha Plants and Munchers. To make matters worse for Mario, piranha pollen is in the air for both levels, making it hard for Mario to see the fireballs from the Venus Fire Traps.
  • This is a common theme for the earlier levels in Super Monkey Ball.
  • Acme Acres in several Tiny Toon Adventures video games, including the NES game of the same name, Babs' Big Break for the Game Boy, and Scary Dreams/Buster's Bad Dream for the Game Boy Advance. In particvular, Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive has two of these examples. The first is in the grassland levels, which have few level hazards, and enemies such as clones of Roderick Rat, Shrews riding balls (from the short, "To Babs or Not to Babs" from the TV series episode, "Weirdest Story Ever Told"), and Ravens that drop apples. The second is in the forest levels, which have pipe-like trees, ziplines, and wrecking balls Buster can use as platforms, as well as enemies such as The Wolverine (from the episode, "Buster and The Wolverine"), and Tomato-Throwing Trolls (from the short, "Day For Knight" from the episode, "Brave Tales of Real Rabbits").
  • Bunny Hop Meadow from Wonder Dog.
  • In Quik the Thunder Rabbit, the first level is Angel's Meadow, where the ground is covered in green grass and jumbo-sized trees, flowers and mushrooms.
  • Bol-Dor's Realm in Snake Pass is the first world which is a lush grassland.
  • Jellyfish Fields in SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom
  • Akane the Kunoichi has the Akamatsu Plains. They're the first (and easiest) of the game's five acts, and they're brighter and more colourful than subsequent environments.

     Puzzle Game 
  • Geolyte from Meteos is the planet/level that best resembles Earth (the rest of the planets are an aversion of All Planets Are Earthlike) and is usually the first level in Star Trip mode. What's worth noting is that while it doesn't have any special quirks like later levels, Geolyte isn't necessarily the easiest.
  • World 1 of Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition is set in a grassy meadow, as per Mario tradition.
  • The first world in Scribblenauts is in a forest.
  • The Realm of Life in The Spiral Scouts consists of a forest with some straightforward puzzles to sort out, and is also where the Spiral Scouts' main HQ is located.
  • The peaceful-looking and green first chapter of World of Goo is even called "the Goo-Filled Hills".

     Racing Game 
  • Gran Turismo's iconic track High Speed Ring appears in every games but GT Sport. Said track is surrounded with grass and hills around and it's usually your very first track to race.
  • Horizon Chase Turbo's first track in World Tour and Endurance is Grass Hills from San Francisco USA stage.
  • Pokémon Dash has plenty of Green to be seen. The tutorial area takes place on a grassy field as does most of the first cup.
  • The Mario Kart series has the many versions and incarnations of Mario Circuit, Donut Plains and Luigi Circuit, all set in quiet grasslands with no major hazards aside from occasional moats.
  • Sonic Drift:
    • In the original game, the Trope Namer appears as the first track of all three GPs, differing only in layout.
    • In Sonic Drift 2, Emerald Hill Zone appears as the first track of the Purple GP, and the sixth and final track of the white GP.

     Role-Playing Game 
  • Child of Light has the Plains of Rambert.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • The green, temperate Ascadian Isles in Morrowind, in very great contrast with the Bitter Coast swamps, or even worse, the Ashlands and Molag Amur. Also subverted by the Grazelands, which appear green and peaceful, but are dotted with rogue Ashlanders camps, Daedric shrines full of insanely powerful monsters, and the occasional wandering monster out in the wild.
    • Falkreath Hold in Skyrim appears to be a relatively peaceful boreal forest surrounded by wartorn mountains, tundra, swamps, and glaciers.
  • The city of Onett from EarthBound is a very green and grassy town which is also the First Town since it is Ness's hometown.
  • The Grassy Plains from Fantasy Life are literally the first area with any enemies that gets unlocked.
  • Final Fantasy
    • 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.
  • Guild Wars
    • 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.
  • Kingdom Hearts
  • In MapleStory, these levels are Maple Island and Lith Harbour.
  • Miitopia has the sunny Easin Hills, the first area of the game.
  • Each Monster Hunter game has one grassy, relatively hazard-free mainland that doesn't have any hot, cold or toxic zones. Forest and Hills in the first generation's games, Great Forest in Freedom Unite, Deserted Island in the third generation games (though it also has some Under the Sea and Death Mountain zones), Ancestral Steppe in 4 and 4 Ultimate, and Verdant Hills (a modernized version of Forest and Hills) in Generations and its Ultimate expansion.
  • 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.
  • Phantasy Star
    • Phantasy Star Online Episode 1 starts you off in the forest area, filled with mostly harmless mooks.
    • 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.
  • 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 Rift, the first Guardian leveling zone outside the Noob Cave is one. And it's swarming with nasty faeries.
  • 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.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • 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 on the other hand 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.
  • Xenoblade
    • Colony 9 in Xenoblade Chronicles is the very first area the characters have access to, which is also the hometown of Shulk, Reyn, Dunban and Fiora. The area is just some green hills and a large lake, even the enemies are mostly small insects, bunnies, bats and frogs. Gaur Plains, the first "real" area in the game, is also an example, being an enormous, sprawling green field.
    • The continent of Primordia in Xenoblade Chronicles X is mostly green plains, but a fair amount of beaches give it some Palmtree Panic and a swampy land makes for a touch of Bubblegloop Swamp.
  • Interplay's adaptation of The Lord of the Rings (1990) has a region literally called "Green Hill Country" in the Shire. (The name and the region are taken straight from the book.) Being just south of Hobbiton, it's likely the first place you'll visit that has any danger.
  • The Reach, the first region in Sunless Skies, is a former star system where, without the guiding influence of a sun, plant life has grown so wild and untamed that it has formed an immense free floating tangle of life. Location within it include a dark, sprawling forest, ancient ruins overgrown with idyllic grassy fields, and an artists' commune built atop an enormous flower.

     Shoot 'em Up 

     Simulation Game 
  • Wonderland in Theme Park World, which takes place entirely in a lush grassy field.
  • The River stage in Pokémon Snap even though it is not the first stage.

     Strategy Game 
  • 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.

     Wide-Open Sandbox 
  • Planet Explorers has the lush, green Plains biome.
  • TerraTech has the grassland biome where players begin their journey.
  • Trove has the Peaceful Hills and Medieval Highlands biomes.
  • Minecraft always spawns you in a biome like this. The unluckiest you're likely to be is to be close to a Deep Woods (where monsters can spawn in broad daylight) or on an island with no trees surrounded by the ocean.
  • Terraria often spawns you in a forest biome, complete with trees to chop down and weak slimes to slice up. Sometimes though, it might spawn you next to the snow biome due to how close it is to the spawn point.
  • Starbound; the first planet you always start on is the lush biome, with trees and weak enemies galore. In earlier versions though, this wasn't always the case.

     Non-Gaming References 
  • 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".
  • The Green Zone in Digimon Xros Wars is an idyllic landscape comprised of hilly grasslands and forests, though it does have more cliffs and floating islands than most examples. Two of the main Digimon of the series have a hometown there and it's the first Zone that the protagonists arrive in when they get trapped in the Digital World. Fitting, since all of the other Zones they visit are essentially stock video game settings.
  • Ironically, an In Name Only variant exists in the Sonic the Hedgehog movie adaptation. The main setting of the film is Green Hills, a small rural town located in Montana and is meant to be a homage to the Green Hill Zone. Otherwise, there are no connections between the two settings.


Alternative Title(s): Ghibli Hill Zone, Emerald Hill Zone

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