But every so often, you get a video game level that is a little closer to home. Enter a Metropolis Level.
A Metropolis Level is a type of Video Game Setting taking place in a bustling city, complete with a maze of streets to get lost in and buildings to enter and climb on. Because of how complex these levels can get, some common themes include platforming across skyscrapers, running on streets filled with crazy traffic, vehicles being included as a game mechanic one way or another, and even missions that take the form of mundane everyday jobs.
Expect enemies to be police officers, street thugs, disgruntled or drunken civilians, organized crime syndicates like The Mafia, stray cats and dogs, and sometimes (depending on the genre), monsters, zombies and robots.
Basically, in a Metropolis Level, anything that seems mundane in reality can be turned into a game mechanic. As a result, it often comes early to mid-game at most in the Sorting Algorithm of Threatening Geography.
They may be based off cities from Real Life. In which case, expect developers to either base them off cities they're familiar with, or just use popular picks like New York City and Tokyo as main sources of inspiration.
Metropolis Levels often come in two distinct flavors: Modern (as we see them around the turn of the millennium or 20 Minutes into the Future), and Futuristic (having a more sci-fi aesthetic to them with a lot of advanced technology). Occasionally, you may get historical variants as well, taking cues from the 19th and early 20th Centuries.
Compare Graffiti Town, the more grungy urban variant, and Skyscraper City for the non-video game version. Commonly overlaps with Absurdly Spacious Sewer, Construction Zone Calamity, Down in the Dumps, Down the Drain, Amusement Park, Casino Park and Studiopolis. In RPGs, this often overlaps with Dungeon Town. If the city itself takes up the entire video game, it could be a City of Adventure.
Not to be confused with Layered Metropolis.
- Bug Fables has the Termite Capitol. While the other settlements look more like smallish towns nestled within their natural environments, the Termite Capitol is an almost entirely artificial city full of skyscrapers (or at least the bug-sized equivalent), conveyor belt walkways, televisions, elevators, and neon lights. It's also the only place where you can buy modern-style fast food. The Forsaken Lands where the city is located have also become very hazy and barren as a result of the pollution.
- Final Fantasy VII: The first portion of the game takes place in Midgar, a futuristic dystopia in which everything is controlled by the Shinra Corporation, who serve as the main antagonists until Sephiroth enters the picture. The city has numerous areas to explore that each have a distinct culture and atmosphere, and for first-time players, the fact that the story moved outside Midgar at all could be quite a surprise.
- The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel: The capital city of Heimdallr is the largest city in not just Erebonia itself, but the entire Zemurian continent, both in sheer size and population density. Many orbal cars and trams dot its ancient streets at a rapid pace, and because the city is still transitioning from the Orbal Revolution, it still retains its old Medieval feel all over, creating an Anachronism Stew. Some of Class VII's missions take them inside the capital, where there are a lot of shops to visit, locals to interact with, and monsters roaming in the catacombs below to defeat. In Cold Steel II, Heimdallr becomes a war zone in the wake of the Erebonian Civil War, being taken over by the Noble Faction and becoming the location of the Infernal Castle.
- Pokémon Black and White: Castelia City is the largest city in the game, heavily inspired by Manhattan. It includes four streets that connect to a central plaza, towering skyscrapers populated by businessmen (including the Game Freak employees you can battle), more NPCs walking past you in the street than in any other area, several ocean piers, a seasonal shop to buy special ice cream, and a connection to an extensive sewer area.
- Pokémon X and Y: Lumiose City is similarly structured to Castelia City, with tall buildings and a bustling city atmosphere full of people walking the streets, but the layout is even larger. To help trainers get around, there's a taxi cab service where you can ride between the boulevards and avenues for a small fee. There's also a system of alleyways running through the larger city blocks, where you're likely to be challenged by passing street thugs.
- Tokyo Xanadu: Most of the game takes place in Morimiya City, a fictional district of Tokyo that serves as the main Hub Level. Between going into the Eclipse to defeat the Greeds, you can spend time talking with the residents and helping out with their tasks, as well as bond with Kou's friends. The city is divided into several districts to explore like Morimiya Academy, the Central Square, the vintage Brick Alley, the park, the entertainment district, the mall, and even Morimiya's signature tower. By the final chapter, Morimiya becomes a Dungeon Town as it gets overrun by Greeds after the Princess of Doom awakens.
- EarthBound: Fourside. The biggest city in the game, the place is clearly modeled after New York, complete with lookalikes of both the Empire State Building (the Monotoli Building) and the Chrysler building (a department store). Enemies on this area include mad taxis and killer traffic signs.
- Kingdom Hearts has many, usually overlapping with Dungeon Town.
- Kingdom Hearts has Traverse Town, which harbors refugees from destroyed worlds. The first district is a safe zone that has all the (usable) shops. The rest of the town is infested with Heartless, and is mostly devoid of human activity, with the exception of the Final Fantasy characters and the 101 Dalmatians' houses, which are located in unsafe zones.
- Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories introduces Twilight Town, a town in perpetual sunset that has a mysterious connection to Sora. In Kingdom Hearts II, it's shown in more detail as the player begins in control of Roxas, a resident of the place. As Roxas, Twilight Town is a seemingly normal town without any Heartless or hostile Nobodies (at first, outside of story events), but it turns out there is much more to it than meets the eye. When you return there as Sora, it's more of a normal Dungeon Town with a safe shopping area and monster-infested streets.
- Kingdom Hearts II changes the first game's Hollow Bastion from a Big Fancy Castle level to this, as the focus changes from the castle itself to the town around it. Once again, you have a safe commercial area, and a dangerous residential area (although the dangerous zones have a security system, the Claymore, that keeps things safe for the residents). Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep also features the city, this time by the name of Radiant Garden.
- Part of the final level of Kingdom Hearts II (and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance), The World That Never Was, is a large city where it's Always Night. Sora arrives through a portal in a back alley, then makes his way through some streets before spending the rest of the level in the Organization's castle lair.
- Disney Town from Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep seems to be the town where Classic Disney Shorts characters live, although the main characters receive lifetime passes, implying that it's also an Amusement Park themed around this trope. The town is a Minigame Zone where you just have to complete one minigame to proceed with the story, but seeing the rest of the world requires you to fight (or avoid) Unversed as you travel through the streets.
- Kingdom Hearts III has San Fransokyo, a huge, fully explorable city. Here, the safe area is Hiro's garage, from where you can choose to either explore the city during the day (with prevents enemies from spawning) or night.
- Lethal League: Most of Lethal League Blaze is set in Shine City, of which shares elements of Cyberpunk. The stages that embody this trope the most, however, are New Rise District, Central Streets, and Abandoned Pool, where a number of buildings are visible as far as the eye can see.
- Super Smash Bros.: There are a number of stages based off of metropolitan cities from various games, including Fourside, New Donk City Hall, New Pork City and Saffron City. These typically take place on top of skyscrapers, with their rooftops and hanging girders providing platforms for fighters to stand on and divided by steep bottomless pits.
- BioShock Infinite: Except for small portions at the beginning and ending, almost all of the game takes place in the floating city of Columbia. The city includes skylines which allow quick travel around an area, occasional crowds of people and buildings that can be entered and explored.
- Metroid Prime 2: Echoes: Sanctuary Fortress is the center of a massive fortified city on a cliff located at the site of where the Luminoth first settled the planet Aether. While the place is devoid of Luminoth in the game's present due to them either being killed by the Ing or going into protective cryosleep in the Great Temple, the robots and other machinery they built still function, and Samus must fight the former and manipulate or traverse the latter as she navigates the area. The lower half of the skybox texture also features an even larger grid-based city that the player doesn't visit.
- Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped: Future Frenzy and Gone Tomorrow take place in a futuristic city, with pathways between skyscrapers so tall that the ground can't be seen from the playable area. The Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy remake adds the level Future Tense, where lab assistants driving flying cars can be seen in the background in addition to all the skyscrapers.
- Donkey Kong Country: The final world of Donkey Kong Land is Big Ape City, an urban world on the tropical and otherwise wilderness-dominated Donkey Kong Island.
- Freedom Planet: Shang Mu is this trope combined with Wutai, a bustling city whose highrise skyscrapers seem inspired by China's Imperial Palace. The action stage associated with the location, Fortune Night, has the player characters running on the streets, across buildingtops, and defeating enemies themed on traffic lights and construction equipment.
- A Hat in Time has Nyakuza Metro, a retro Cyberpunk-esque metropolis taking inspiration from modern Japanese culture. Hat Kid gets drafted into the local Nyakuza by the Empress to search out for Time Pieces scattered across the city for her business, and the main gimmicks include platforming across Mega Neko-driven trains and interacting with the feline locals. Collecting Time Pieces unlocks different sub-sections of the level by rewarding you with tickets to bypass certain station barriers.
- Kirby: Planet Robobot: the 2nd world Resolution Road takes place in a suburban town while the 5th one, Rhythm Route, is located inside a bustling city at night.
- Kirby: Canvas Curse takes Kirby through Tiny Town and Paletto Polis, which have a futuristic, stylized look to them. Unique to these stages are winding tubes that suck Kirby in at an entrance and spit him out at an exit.
- Nihilumbra has the desolated City, which is the only level with all kinds of man-made machines trying to stop you.
- Polyroll has Polyrolyopolis, a metropolis-themed world with numerous skyscrapers visible in the background and traffic light platforms that move or stand still depending on whether they're lit green, yellow, or red. Even the boss of the world is a giant traffic light that attacks Polyroll by controlling the cars in the stage.
- Featured prominently in the Sonic the Hedgehog series:
- The original Sonic the Hedgehog has Star Light Zone, where you run around on metal girders with the lights of a nighttime cityscape in the background. (Various secondary sources have claimed this stage is an "unfinished highway" to justify the loops and other stage hazards.)
- Sonic Adventure has Speed Highway, a level taking place within the bustling heart of Station Square. It starts off with loop-de-loops on highways and precise platforming across the city skyline before transitioning to the main plaza on ground level via running down a building. Hazards include cars to avoid and Eggman's Badnicks mimicking the police.
- Sonic Adventure 2 has a few levels in the Central City. City Escape takes place in a San Francisco-esque neighbourhood complete with running down streets and escaping from a giant GUN truck, while Mission Street and Radical Highway are located within the city highways above the skyline, both include running away from authorities.
- Sonic Heroes: The Grand Metropolis and Power Plant levels take on a more futuristic aesthetic with flying cars doting the background. The pathways are constructed of translucent energy flowing through pipes, and some of them are blocked off by Eggman's robots, which need to be defeated in order to progress.
- Shadow the Hedgehog has three - Westopolis (the first level, which every playthrough starts with), Lethal Highway (reachable by completing the Hero mission of Westopolis), and Central City (reachable by completing the Dark mission of Cryptic Castle). All three take place at night, in cities that are being devastated by the Black Arms, and you can choose whether to help fight them off, or side with them and make things worse.
- Sonic Advance 3 opens with Route 99, a colourful highway littered with obstacles, with numerous modern skyscrapers filling the background.
- Sonic Rush has Night Carnival, a city with lots of decorative lights suggesting a festival is going on there. The skyscrapers have architecture reminiscent of the American Deep South, suggesting it may be the Sonic universe's Fantasy Counterpart Culture to New Orleans.
- Sonic the Hedgehog (2006): Crisis City combines this with Lethal Lava Land to create a large, ruined city with buildings and roads twisted from the destruction to justify the usual loops and other such speed-platforming gimmicks like half-pipes. It's also implied to be what Soleanna becomes in Silver's Bad Future.
- The HD versions of Sonic Unleashed have Empire City (the game's analogue to New York City), also known as Skyscraper Scamper. The day stages focus on running across highways while the night stages focus on platforming across skyscrapers.
- Sonic Generations neatly demonstrates just how common this level type is in the franchise: the console and PC version includes Speed Highway, City Escape, and Crisis City, while the 3DS version includes Radical Highway.
- Sonic Mania has Studiopolis Zone, which takes place in a city filled with colourful skyscrapers. The first act takes place on a neon broadway with the buildings in the background. The second act goes into one of the buildings, which is a TV studio seemingly owned by Dr. Eggman.
- Sonic Forces has Metropolis, which, unlike its namesake in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, actually is set in a city. This game gives it a Crystal Spires and Togas look, full of tall, narrow buildings with a bright and vibrant look. Unusually, the stages under the "City" category in this game are less applicable to this trope, as they have a more rustic appearance.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom has Downtown Bikini Bottom, which has open-ended streets infested with Plankton's robots, the rooftops where you glide across them as Sandy, and the towering Sea Needle where you can bungee down from the windows. Mrs. Puff tasks SpongeBob with a Fetch Quest to collect all steering wheels around the city in order to get the citizens to evacuate from the ensuing chaos.
- Super Mario Odyssey: New Donk City is a Skyscraper City based off of metropolitan New York City, where Mario must navigate a vertical maze of stairways, construction frameworks, skyscraper exteriors, precipitous drops and hanging girders, all while dodging enemies such as giant flies and Goombas in hard hats. It especially stands out not just in the game but in the entire franchise for having very few cartoony elements and looking very much like a real city complete with more realistic-looking humans.
- F-Zero features Mute City, which almost invariably appears as each of the games' first level. Maximum Velocity, which is set twenty-five years after the other games, features Bianca City as a substitute.
- Jak X has tracks set within the cities of Haven (including its Absurdly Spacious Sewers), Kras and Spargus. The first two are quite modern-looking while the third is much cruder with buildings made of stone (due to having been founded by exiles from Haven).
- Mario Kart:
- Mario Kart: Double Dash!!: Mushroom City is a racetrack taking place in a busy city at night. The track has several different roads for racers to take, though they all lead to the same place. The roads are also crowded with other vehicles that cause racers to spin out if hit.
- Mario Kart 7 has Neo Bowser City, a racetrack set within a futuristic city with Bowser's image heavily present. It has many curves that make driving difficult and, due to the rain, there are also water puddles that cause drivers to spin out of control and waste time. Part of its music is a nod to Toad's Turnpike from Mario Kart 64. It makes a return in Mario Kart 8, and again in Mario Kart Tour, as a Nostalgia Level.
- Mario Kart Tour: Most tracks are directly inspired by real-life cities — New York Minute, Tokyo Blur, Paris Promenade, London Loop and Vancouver Velocity — and have you race through routes that follow real-life streets through the city centers, passing multiple notable landmarks on the way.
- Sonic the Hedgehog racing games also use this theme a lot:
- Sonic R: Radical City is a racetrack in an empty city at night. It also has casino elements. The stage's music is "Livin' In The City," an upbeat pop song about, well, living in the city.
- Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed has Graffiti City, set in the same Tokyo-to where Jet Grind Radio takes place. Most of the track consists of highways, though later parts involve jumping and boosting between rooftops.
- Sonic Riders has Metal City and Night Chase, set in a very technologically advanced area full of holograms and hovering cars. The latter is named because of an incident in the story causing Metal City's streets to be full of police cars. Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity would have three sets: Megalo Station and Nightside Rush, which are set in and around a gigantic train station in a similarly advanced city; Aquatic Capital and Tempest Waterway, a City of Canals with a similar technology theme; and 80s Boulevard and 90s Boulevard, which look like a combination of Times Square and central Tokyo, with the track going into subway stations and atop trucks. Sonic Free Riders does not have any new themes but brings back Metal City.
- Wacky Races (2000): Wacky Races Starring Dastardly and Muttley has an area called "the Big Apricot", which consists of city based tracks, said tracks including a dock, a subway, a park, an airport, and a construction site.
- Resident Evil: Some games in the series have been set in the fictional Raccoon City, which saw its civilians turned into zombies or killed by monsters called Bio-Organic Weapons as a result of a T-Virus outbreak, resulting in its destruction by a nuclear missile.
- In Bloons Tower Defense 6, one Advanced map is called High Finance. It's set in a city with a lot of under-construction buildings. If you pay some in-game money, you can repair them and place towers on them. The Bloons follow a road path in the shape of a dollar sign.
- Knights of the Old Republic starts you off in the City Planet of Taris before letting you out into the Green Hill Zone of Dantooine.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic has several regions set on City Planets, where all gameplay is set against urban backdrops. These include Coruscant and Dromund Kaas (capital cities of the Republic and the Empire, respectively, and the second worlds players of the corresponding factions visit), Nar Shaddaa (the central moon of the Hutt Space), and Corellia (the final planet of the main campaign). Players also revisit Taris from KotOR, but seeing how it has been bombed into oblivion by the Sith in that game, it is a mix of toxic swamps and Urban Ruins in this one. The expansions add a few more, including Ziost until the Emperor eats it, Zakuul (capital of the Infinite Empire), and Mek-Sha (another seedy town where slavery and black markets run rampant).
- NiGHTS into Dreams...: In NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams, Delight City is Will's final stage unique to him. Part of it is an enormous playground, but the rest of it is a dense cluster of skyscrapers with bright neons constrasting the dark buildings. Said neons float in the air and become solid platforms when lit.
- "Episode 4" of Phantasy Star Online 2 added two new areas for ARKs to explore, Tokyo and Las Vegas. Unlike previous ares, which were randomized which each visit, Tokyo and Las Vegas keep the same layout with each visit. Theyre closed off from the public so that ARKs operatives can deal with the Phantasms appearing in the areas.