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Levels Take Flight

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A video game area that takes place in a flying vehicle or animal of some sort in the air, much like Bubbly Clouds. Be careful not to fall off. May overlap with Gusty Glade.

On large transport aircraft, the backdoor will often open midair and cargo will slide out (whether intentional or as an Emergency Cargo Dump), presenting a hazard for players to avoid. Another thing to worry about is keeping said flying object in the air, as things as pressure drops, weather, etc. threaten it, its occupants, and cargo.

See Locomotive Level for stages on moving land vehicles.



  • The fourth level of Freedom Planet is called "Sky Battalion," and it requires the player to take out three different airships before facing the level's boss. It's one of only two levels in the game to have Bottomless Pits, and it's justified here since the ships are thousands of feet in the air.
  • The Cloud Realm in ZanZarah: The Hidden Portal is situated on giant platforms hovering a few kilometers over the north-eastern lands.
  • The final sector of Jumper takes place on a plane (if you can call it a plane at all) from which Ogmo must escape, as usual.
  • There are many examples in the Sonic the Hedgehog series.
    • The aptly named Sky Chase Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Despite the mellow groovy background music and relaxed pace, it's harder than it looks, particularly if you've collected all the Chaos Emeralds: Super Sonic is very prone to running off of the wings of Tails's plane and falling to his death, while regular Sonic isn't fast enough to do so. The level immediately after it, Wing Fortress Zone, also qualifies, it's one of the most difficult levels in the game. Sky Fortress in Sonic the Hedgehog 4 combines both of those zones together, as its name suggests.
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    • Flying Battery Zone from Sonic & Knuckles features a few segments where the player must navigate the outside portions of Eggman's ship.
    • Sky Chase Zone (in a slightly modified form) also reappears in both Sonic Adventure and Sonic Pocket Adventure. The latter is closer to the original stage, but the former also allows Tails to actually fire upon incoming enemies with his Tornado.
    • Fire Bird, the second board from Sonic Shuffle takes place on a giant mechanical bird which is actually The Phoenix.
    • Egg Fleet and Final Fortress from Sonic Heroes. The former involves the player hopping from airship to airship as they gradually tear through Eggman's aerial armada before landing on his flagship.
    • Air Fleet from Shadow the Hedgehog, where Shadow has the option to either cover the President's escape from the Black Arms (Hero), find the Chaos Emerald (Neutral), or assassinate the big man himself (Dark).
      • Most of the stage called The ARK and parts of Cryptic Castle can be spent with Shadow riding on a dragon-like creature. The ride is required in Cryptic Castle, but Shadow can change objectives on The ARK and hop off the creature, going through the stage normally.
      • Sky Troops is also an aerial level, and it's the only stage in the game which has objectives for both Black Doom and Eggman, the latter of which is the "good" path.
    • Tails transports Sonic on his biplane once more in Sonic Unleashed for the two Tornado Defense stages.
    • Levitated Ruin in Sonic and the Secret Rings is set on a flock of rukhs. The stage gets its name because they carry the ruins of small cities on their backs.
    • Three stages in Sonic Colors' Wii version, one in Starlight Carnival, another in Aquarium Park, and the last in Asteroid Coaster, feature Sonic needing to keep up with some flying device with springs at its top, causing Sonic to constantly bounce. It flies slowly but steadily to the end of the stage. Starlight Carnival itself is a spaceborne variant of this trope, with the stage made of a series of brightly lit spaceships traveling through outer space, with Sonic traveling from one to the next either via Hard Light pathways or by finding ways to launch himself from one ship to the next. The Nintendo 3DS version also features one very large flagship that's bigger than the rest of the fleet combined.
    • Both Sonic Rush games have levels like this for their sixth stage: the first game's Altitude Limit, and the second game's Sky Babylon.
    • Aerobase in Sonic Pocket Adventure.
    • Oddly enough, in Sonic Lost World, Sonic himself is seen soaring through the skies in both Tropical Coast Zone ? and Sky Road Zone 3.
    • In Sonic Mania, in Mirage Saloon Zone, Act One of Sonic and Tails' story has the two riding the Tornado, leading to a train driven by Dr. Eggman.
  • Bayonetta has the level in Ithavoll Group's huge cargo plane, with even a listing camera during the fight against Jeanne (on top of the flying plane!)
  • Mega Man (Classic):
    • Mega Man 8 has Tengu Man's second stage and the third part of Wily's Castle, where you have to use the rush jet in those areas.
    • Mega Man 3 did it in the revisit to Needle Man's stage and the second Skull Castle stage.
  • In the Mega Man X series, the stages for Storm Eagle (Mega Man X1), Storm Owl (Mega Man X4), The Skiver/Spiral Pegacion (Mega Man X5), and Wind Crowrang (Mega Man X7) all involve (in some way) their personal armadas, with the actual battle against these Mavericks usually taking place on their personal aircraft/flagship.
  • At one of the turning points of Mega Man Zero 2 (right after the failed attack on Neo Arcadia and Elpizo's Face–Heel Turn), Zero has to cross an entire air fleet of Neo Arcadian vessels in order to hijack and stop a missile launched at the Resistance Base.
  • Mile High Club, the Brutal Bonus Level from Modern Warfare.
  • The 4th level of the Modern Warfare 3 campaign is set on the Russian equivalent of Air Force One, with the player as part of the Russian Presidential security detail.
  • The Celestial Castle from Valkyrie Profile. It's not long, but includes a mandatory portion that consists of tiny platforms with nothing below them, and booby-trapped treasure chests that explode and can knock you off the edges. The game has a time limit, and every time you fall off you end up outside, and have to spend more time going in again.
  • Kirby:
    • The Battleship Halberd, especially in the Revenge of Meta Knight game mode in Kirby Super Star.
    • A minor example: Stage 3 of Grape Garden in Kirby's Adventure takes place on multiple airborne blimps.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • Many stages are just floating somewhere, including the basic Battlefield, Final Destination, and the Animal Crossing stage, Smashville.
    • Super Smash Bros. Melee has Poké Floats, some parts of Rainbow Ride, the F-Zero levels (especially Big Blue which takes place entirely on racing hovercars and the like), and the Starfox levels which take place on the Great Fox.
    • At one point in Subspace Emissary in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, you're working your way across the side of the Halberd to get to the deck of the flying ship. Also, you're dealing with a constant wind in your face, slowing you down.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario Bros. 3:
      • All of the airship stages are presented as auto-scrolling obstacle courses above the clouds. Oftentimes, the player has to cross bottomless pits using bolt lifts, which require you to jump repeatedly to move them forward.
      • The "air force" stage in world 8 simulates the player leaping from plane to plane. The small size of the "planes", the frequent differences in height between one "plane" and the next, and the drastically faster auto-scrolling speed make it one of the hardest levels of the game. A P-wing is never misused in this level.
      • There is a level taking place almost entirely on the backs of flying Buzzy Beetles in World 5.
    • Super Mario 64 has Rainbow Ride, an assortment of odd floating structures way up high. Much of the level involves riding on the set paths of magic carpets, struggling not to fall from hitting the obstacles in the way.
    • Gelato Beach's "The Sandbird is Born" episode in Super Mario Sunshine, which has Mario riding the titular bird through a cloud filled course to collect red coins. The Sand Bird returns in Super Mario Galaxy 2's Slipsand Galaxy.
    • New Super Mario Bros. Wii has two examples: One in World 5 involves Mario navigating across a flock of large flying manta rays going in his direction, and one in World 7 has Mario crossing a swarm of flying beetles smaller than the rays (but still very large for bugs) going in the opposite direction from him.
    • Super Mario Maker and Super Mario Maker 2 allow you to choose the Airship theme for any course you'd like. The staff created Airship themes for games that didn't have them, like Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3, though selecting Super Mario 3D World yields a Circus of Fear theme instead. In Maker 2, when these levels are played in night mode, all enemies and items behave as if they were underwater (for example, Goombas and Cheep Cheeps swim in the air), but Mario and his friends move normally.
  • Yoshi's Island:
    • There is a good portion of a level in Yoshi's Story that takes place on a flying dragon.
    • In Yoshi's Crafted World, "Altitude Adjustment" involves Yoshi standing on a flying plane (which, given the game's style, is made from a paper towel tube), whilst collecting coins, battling Shy Guys (including those on enemy planes) and popping balloons. The plane will fly lower if Yoshi stands on the front end, and it will fly higher if he stands on the rear end.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Sky in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is traveled across with Link's Loftwing, be it to reach any of the islands floating or to descend to any of the areas of the surface.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Divine Beast Vah Medoh is a giant mechanical bird flying in a circle around Rito Village. You must team up with the Rito warrior Teba to take out its cannons in a spectacular aerial battle so you can climb aboard and free it from Ganon's corruption. As a dungeon, Vah Medoh requires you to tilt it left and right while also using the fan-generated streams of wind to reach higher sections of the mechanism.
  • The final level of Bulletstorm takes place on an evac dropship escaping Stygia.
  • SkyTown from Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is a Floating Continent built withing the sky of a stormy gas planet named Elysia.
  • Ecco the Dolphin's sequel, The Tides of Time has a tube version of this, requiring Ecco to swim up the tubes while avoiding the open air areas that will send him plummeting back to Earth.
  • Resident Evil – Code: Veronica: Claire and Steve have to fight a Tyrant in the cargo plane they used to escape Rockfort island.
  • Resident Evil 6: Sherry and Jake have to deal with Ustanak on the BSAA transport helicopter they're traveling on. Leon and Helena have to contend with a C-Virus outbreak on the plane they were using to travel to China, all the while trying to keep the plane flying in the air.
  • The two levels aboard the CAS Revenant airship in Blood II: The Chosen, one on the exterior of it and another inside the ship. In both levels, falling off to your death is a real danger in certain areas.
  • The Hindenburg-like airship in Ninja Gaiden(Xbox). After defeating the boss, the blimp goes down in flames, in a pattern similar to the real Hindenburg.
  • The third level of the NES Double Dragon II The Revenge takes place inside the helicopter that you spent the previous level chasing. The level itself consists of a single room in which you must fight a continuous wave of mooks to completion while a door to the outside periodically opens and closes. When it opens it pulls anything—items, enemies, and of course, yourself—out of the helicopter into certain death, requiring you to keep your distance and push against the vacuum.
  • Shadow Warrior: Wanton Destruction has the large "Airplane" level. At one point, you have to leave the plane to precariously walk atop the roof and make a dangerous jump to get a key which happens to be on the tail.
  • Playstation All Stars Battle Royale:
    • There is a level which re-enacts the plane segment from Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, except the plane can stay up indefinitely and remains incredibly stable throughout the battle. Even the Songbird crashing upon the players isn't enough to shake this stage.
    • The Invasion stage is briefly like this, recreating the introduction to Killzone 2 when the ISA are landing in Helghan on their Intruders. Unlike the above example, this one is quite shaky and staying on the stage becomes a part of the battle.
  • The Chase level in the SNES version of The Rocketeer is a rocket pack shmup level, followed by the Armada which is more of the same by pusher plane, then finally the Zeppelin, which is a Beat 'em Up on an airship.
  • In Tiny Toon Adventures Buster Busts Loose, the Buster's Sky-jinks level is built around this. First, Buster is sent up into the air on a giant balloon provided by Calamity. Then, he has to hop across some bubbles, provided by Hamton in a plane, as well as some more balloons. Eventually, he reaches a blimp which appears to be promoting the show the game is based upon, which he must ride while attacking some buzzards. The blimp eventually pops and Concord Condor airlifts Buster to the pinball temple, where the script for the next episode (leading to the final level) is. This level is entirely omitted from the "Children" mode.
  • The endgame chapter of Fire Emblem Awakening takes place in the sky. Specifically: the level is the Big Bad, the Fell Dragon Grima. Not just the boss; the entire level. He's so insanely massive that the stage fits atop his back mid-flight.
  • One of the stages of the Dragon Soul raid in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm takes place on Deathwing's back as he flies towards the Maelstrom.
  • Propeller Knight from Shovel Knight owns a massive airship which Shovel Knight must traverse to meet him in person.
  • In Snoopy's Grand Adventure, the "Skies of Paris" levels involve Snoopy flying his doghouse through the stormy skies of Paris, and firing at enemy planes. There's even a battle with the Red Baron himself.
  • Shantae and the Pirate's Curse has Propeller Town. As the name indicates, it's a massive structure flying thousands of feet in the air, requiring several careful jumps across flying platforms and hanging chains, and a few areas where you must use Risky's Hat to navigate through some air currents.
  • Mass Effect 2 DLC Lair of the Shadow Broker culminates on the eponymous Shadow Broker base, which is massive airship flying in the perpetual thunderstorm, hidden from the rest of the galaxy.
  • In Theta vs Pi 7, a couple of the levels require you to fly through the sky in what are described as “egg cups”. You have no control over them and can’t jump out until they start to fall away at which point you have to jump quickly to the next one.
  • Sly Cooper:
    • The final level of Sly 2: Band of Thieves, "Anatomy for Disaster", is located on Arpegio's Blimp - a massive airship comprised of huge balloons, rickety platforms, and whirring turbines tethered together. One false move and you'll tumble to your death.
    • The "Flight of Fancy" level in Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves offers a few examples. In one mission you borrow a catapult in order launch yourself high enough to land on some low-flying blimps. Later you're tasked with piloting a prop plane in an all-out dogfight. Finally, the boss battle forces you to brawl with the Black Baron on the wing of a large supply plane - while it's in flight.
  • Contra III: The Alien Wars has the player traversing a level by hitching a ride on a series of missiles flying toward the Big Bad's airship, all the while shooting down enemies and attacking the airship's force field so the missiles can do their job. It is exactly as badass as it sounds.
  • Contra Force has you (however absurdly) running across a few in stage 4—Even stepping to the next ones when their wings touch.
  • Much of the fight against Bismarck, in Final Fantasy XIV, takes place on a floating island stuffed with aether crystals — that the protagonists constructed, simply to lure the whale-like primal in for a seemingly easy snack. A part of the fight also has the party leap onto Bismarck itself, after reeling it in with a few harpoons.
  • "Bird Houses", the fifth and final level of Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool has Chester riding a butterfly through the sky. At the end of the stage, he battles Mean Eugene in his helicopter.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown
    • The Temple Ship is boarded mid-flight. At later stages in it, you have a clear view of the ocean roiling calmly below.
    • The final mission of the "Slingshot" DLC is "Gangplank", where you board a full-scale Battleship mid-flight. The main objective is to disable the capacitors so it can be landed safely.


Video Example(s):



Mario takes an anchor up to an airship.

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