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The Lost Levels? Seems more like making this jump is a lost cause...
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When a franchise has been running for over 35 years, has countless installments, and features the most prolific video game character in history, you would expect it to have one or two tough moments. But these take it to another level.

Please refrain from adding any Brutal Bonus Levels, That One Sidequests, or Self Imposed Challenges.

Mario Party examples have their own page.


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2D Platformers

    Super Mario Bros. 
  • World 2-3 (and, by extension, its "revamp" as World 7-3). At first it seems like you can just run across the bridge and outrun the Cheep-Cheeps, but then you get to just before the end, where there are three small platforms. If you don't slow down, you can easily miss all of them and lose a life. However, if you slow down too soon, you will get snagged by a leaping Cheep Cheep. NES Remix forces you to do this level full speed the whole way. Additionally, in Super Mario Bros. 35, these are especially difficult because not only do you have to focus on the Cheep Cheeps ... you also have to focus on non-native enemies sent by other opponents too, which could include Piranha Plants, Hammer Bros, and even Bowser himself. Better hope your 20 coin roulette gives you a Star.
  • The original Super Mario Bros. had many gamers' firstnote  That One Level: World 4-1. You can't warp around it. It presents Mario with his first encounter with Lakitu, who is hard to kill, throws infinite enemies on you, and if you do kill him, he respawns ten seconds later. In an interview, Shigeru Miyamoto suggested that World 4 would have been the first world in Super Mario Bros. if they hadn't rearranged things late in the development. This is a truly scary thought.
  • World 4-4, the first of three maze castles. In the original NES version, there is no indication that you are taking an incorrect path other than seeing the same layouts again and again. Thankfully, the All-Stars version and the Deluxe port put in audio cues to inform you if you're on the right or wrong path.
  • World 7-4 employs the concept of 4-4 in a nastier way, as to advance you have to pick three correct paths to get to the next segment; do it wrong and you have to guess the three paths again. This is where the ports' audio cues really come into play; good luck not timing out this level without a guide in the original version.
  • The entirety of World 8. For starters, none of the levels in this world have midway points and power-ups are either hidden very well or don't exist at all. To go into detail:
    • World 8-1. The whole level isn't that difficult. But there's one leap that you have to make by perfectly timing when you let go of the run button while still moving and jumping at the right time to land on a platform that's only as wide as Mario is between 2 of the biggest gaps found in the entire game that are meant to be clear-able. This is also the longest level in the entire game and you only have 300 seconds to complete it, and even though there's a Starman a ways in, there's no other power-ups to be found.
    • World 8-2 has you facing Lakitu again, mixed with dodging a barrage of Bullet Bills and loads of green Paratroopas. There's also a long pit to jump over with a one-block wide pit just before that. At least it's much shorter than 8-1 and gives a 1-Up Mushroom early in the level, so you can keep trying multiple times as long as you don't miss it.
    • World 8-3 might take the title of nastiest level in the game. It looks simple enough, but there are Hammer Bros. all over the level, 8 to be exact, half of them on flat ground. You can't wait for them to get on a higher platform and knock them off; you can only run under them, jump over them, kick a Koopa Troopa shell into them if any are available, or have a Fire Flower (and good luck keeping one at that point in the game). Fortunately, there are two power-ups in this level, but they are both heavily guarded by the first two sets of Hammer Bros., and you only have 300 on the timer.
    • World 8-4 is basically a maze beyond a maze, with not a single power-up in any of it. There are loads of pipes to take in the castle, and going down the wrong one can take you back to the start. Even after you've conquered the maze, there's still an underwater section where you have to dodge Bloopers and Firebars, and to top it off, there's one last Hammer Bro to deal with on completely level ground before Big Bad Bowser himself.
  • The Vs. arcade game replaces the Hard Mode Filler stages with insanely difficult new stages that were later incorporated into The Lost Levels, where they fit perfectly. Three are particularly sadistic; World 3-2 (TLL 2-2), with lots of Bottomless Pits and precise jumping puzzles; World 6-3 (TLL 4-3), an athletic level from hell with extremely long gaps, one of which requires a blind jump to a Koopa Paratroopa to cross, and narrower moving platforms than its TLL counterpart; and World 7-3 (TLL 6-3), a long bridge level that combines the flying Cheep-Cheeps and Paratroopas from the original bridge stage with many narrow platforms. To rub more salt into the wounds, the Warp Zones to Worlds 7 and 8 have been removed, so no skipping these challenges for you!

    Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels 
  • Worlds 2-2 and 8-2, not so much for being hard platforming-wise (they both become pretty easy once you've beaten them once), but for how difficult they are to figure out how to beat. 2-2 introduces the player to required Invisible Blocks needed to pass certain areas. Meanwhile, 8-2 abruptly ends with a pipe that puts you back earlier in the level until you figure out that you need to jump off of a Paratroopa to hit a block containing a vine, something that only leads to a coin bonus in other levels. Said Paratroopa jump is very risky as well, as not only is it above a Bottomless Pit, but you're given a Star before it, so a careless player may still try to jump on the Paratroopa, only to kill it and fall to their doom.
  • World 5-3 introduces a devious new concept in the form of adding the gimmick where the level loops unless you take the right path, normally only seen in castles, into regular overworld levels, easily confusing first-time players.note  Even after the right path is found (which requires a chain of Paratroopa jumps into a pipe), there's a very difficult jump near the end (as seen in the page image) where the player must jump from a moving platform onto a Paratroopa to bounce up to higher ground, while also dealing with an airborne Blooper as well as randomly spawning Bullet Bills. There's still some jumps on very small falling platforms before the flagpole, and even if you mess up there, you end up at the very beginning, since this level has no checkpoint.
  • World 7-3. Those green springs that propel Mario and Luigi so high they go offscreen for several seconds? They're now on tiny platforms spaced really far apart over Bottomless Pits, followed by a couple platforms that are only several blocks wide with firebars. There's some wind too, and it abruptly stops near the end, easily throwing off an otherwise successful jump.
  • World 8-3. Not only is there a low-altitude Lakitu as soon as the level kicks off, but you also have to make big jumps and dodge Hammer Bros. Running Hammer Bros that are also encountered on completely level ground, just like 8-3 in the first game. In addition, there are Invisible Blocks designed to trip you up, one of which contains a Poison Mushroom. The final stretch even requires some invisible blocks to be found in order to reach pulley platforms that must be weighed down as much as possible to make the level's final jumps.
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    Super Mario Bros. 2 
  • World 3-2 has an underground segment where you have a limited amount of bombs to blow up several walls. Running out of bombs and having to reload the section can get tedious really fast.
  • World 4-2. You first have to survive a unrelenting Zerg Rush of Beezos on two heartsHint  before making your way to the next area, where you have to jump on slippery platforms and whales spouting up water (which hurts you unless you stand on top of the spout). The whales make for very small platforms, meaning precision is an absolute must and to make matters worse, there are Blue Shy Guys running on top of the whales to give you even less room. In the final area you're faced with a long stretch of spikes, and theres no way to cross without using the Cranium Ride on an enemy, all leading up to an encounter with a Red Birdo... on ice.
  • World 5-1, where you have to cross a vast waterfall by hopping on falling logs and the heads of rising and sinking Trouters, is a nightmare if you try to complete it with anybody other than the Princess (who can simply soar from platform to platform). If you really want to punish yourself, try it with Toad and his horribly weak jumps. It is also the introductory level for the green Birdo, which doesn't spit any eggs, only fireballs.
  • World 5-3. The entire level is a hornet's nest of Bob-ombs and Sparks, and the majority of it has you hopping up and down and across a bunch of platforms trying to dodge said Sparks and Bob-ombs with hardly any room to maneuver thanks to the low ceilings. The first part of the stage has you jumping over blockades while an endless blitzkrieg of fast-flying Albatosses constantly bombard you with Bob-Ombs, forcing you to constantly dodge to stay alive, and that's the easy part of this stage. Next there is a underground section littered with Bob-ombs and a Red Panser waiting for you. Then there's a vertical platforming section where you have to dodge not one but two Blue Pansers (thankfully not on the same screen) rolling down the platforms, that respawn when you fall down a screen and climb back up, while showering you with fireballs. Just like you, both the Pansers and their fireballs wrap around the edges of the screen. Once you get past all that, you have to ride two Pidgits' carpets past a bunch of dive-bombing Beezos without getting knocked into the abyss to reach a red Birdo to kill before the actual boss of the level, Clawgrip. Having three or more hearts still won't get you out of trouble: there are Shy Guys and Snifits roaming the place, trying to knock you straight into a bottomless pit.
  • World 7-2, if you don't know where you're going. It's the final level, so the difficulty is justified, but it's also a Marathon Level and The Maze, especially if you want to get both power-up mushrooms. Depending on which paths you take, you'll also be facing up to three sub-bosses before Wart (the only other levels to have multiple bosses were 5-3 and 6-3, and just one extra one in both cases).

    Super Mario Bros. 3 
  • Worlds 3-3 and 3-8. In both of them, there is water at the bottom of the screen, and most of the platforms in the level rise and fall at intervals. The problem is, Boss Bass is swimming across the bottom of the screen, ready to leap up and swallow the player whole in an instant. This is, by the way, the only enemy in the game that can instantly kill Mario or Luigi when they're not small. The game tries to help by giving you a Frog Suit in the Toad House to the right of 3-3, but the abundance of Cheep-Cheeps means that you may lose this valuable item very quickly. It doesn't help that one of the White Mushroom Houses is triggered by 3-8... In conclusion, Sea Side is a place where many a controller has been thrown.
  • World 5 is where the game pulls the Difficulty Spike and starts displaying difficult levels more often:
    • The first Fortress has tricky jumps a-plenty, and Thwomps and Roto-Discs all over the place, used in tandem in some particularly devious ways that make it very difficult to get through without taking a hit. Fortunately, it's totally optional, as it's part of a split path (the other option being Level 5-3), and clearing it only creates a shortcut to the start of the world. (Which is only useful if you were to Game Over and continue.)
    • The second Fortress has lava on the ceiling. Although it's not deadly, there are Podoboos that come down from the lava and then "fall" back up, with no indication of where such Podoboos are located. Jump at the wrong time and you may be in for a nasty surprise.
    • World 5-9. What makes already difficult platform jumping more difficult? Diagonal autoscrolling. Once you think you've mastered that, Fire Chomps will appear and make sure things will only get harder.
  • World 6-5. The only way out is to grab a Koopa shell, fly up a narrow hole in the ceiling (which there are many of, but you have to figure out which one is the right one via Trial-and-Error Gameplay) and throw it at the Nipper plants and Brick Blocks blocking the exit pipe. The worst part? The ground is cluttered with block-throwing Buster Beetles that you have to clear out first, and you can only hold the Koopa shell in your hands for so long before it eventually breaks free and instantly hurts you. There's a room that provides a powerup every time you enter and respawns the Koopas to prevent you from getting stuck with no method of flight and/or Koopas, but it also respawns the Beetles, naturally.
  • All of Pipe Maze, especially either of the levels blocking the crossroads:
    • World 7-4 is an underwater Auto-Scrolling Level which herds you through a veritable maze of deadly, immobile, invincible Jelectros while several Blooper Nannies follow you, spawning Little Bloopers. Spiked Cheep-Cheeps and Lava Lotuses are thrown into the mix as well to only make the journey more treacherous. Hopefully you have a Frog Suit in your inventory, or the journey won't be an easy one.
    • World 7-7. You get a Starman at the start, but the ground is made entirely of damaging Munchers, so you have to run to the next ? Block before the invincibility expires to release another Star. Even then, if you immediately collect the Star when it appears, you won't have enough time to get to the next one - you'll have to let it bounce on its own for a little bit first. It's not too bad until the pipes start to get in the way, including one near the end where you have to crouch-slide underneath it if you aren't small.
    • The second Fortress in World 7. Have fun having to constantly time jumps on pipes, which of course are inhabited by Piranha Plants and Venus Fire Traps. The pipes are tiny platforms, giving you a hectic time to juggle between between timing jumps and avoiding shots from the Fire Traps, and waiting for the Piranha Plants to retreat. The level also throws two tricky jumps involving Thwomps, and to make matters worse, the stage throws Boos at you to give you even more obstacles and distractions to manage. Unless you've been saving up those Hammer Bro suits, you're most likely in for a rough time.
  • World 8 (Castle of Koopa):
    • All of the Hand Traps. If a hand drags you down, you are forced to play the level you're on. The first one features all variations of the Hammer Bros., the second involves jumping and dodging lots of Podoboos, and the third is a nightmare due to all the jumping Cheep-Cheeps. Clearing them nets you Super Leaves, which will greatly help in the following levels (at least if you've Warp Whistled past all the preceding worlds and your inventory is empty). Incidentally, these hands irrevocably ruin 87.5% of speedruns that make it that far, because each one has a 50% chance of triggering and wasting time you don't have no matter what you do.
    • The Airship level, following the Hand Traps, is a real nightmare: compared to the airship levels which end every previous world, it scrolls a lot faster and the "ships" are much smaller and spaced further apart, which is why you were awarded Raccoon Leaves in the previous levels. Even if you are in Raccoon form, it won't be easy to keep, as nearly every miniature airship is piloted by a Rocky Wrench that can fill the screen with airborne wrench projectiles due to the way the autoscroll works.
    • The Fortress. A textbook example of The Maze, with a countless amount of doors to pick from, and only one leading to the boss. If that weren't enough, not only do some of the doors put you on conveyor belts that will near instantly push you into lava unless you have good reaction time, but the boss is found through a door that is only accessible for a brief time by using a P-Switch. There is no indication of this, so first-timers will often time out. Even worse in the SNES version, where the two sides of the fortress are the same colour. Many a player has saved a Lakitu's Cloud for the whole game just to skip this level.

    Super Mario World 
  • Butter Bridge 1 can be quite irritating due to being an Auto-Scrolling Level with small rising and sinking platforms (thankfully, the only ones that appear in the game), that absolutely tests your precision. It even has parts in the level that can be rendered Unwinnable. For instance, it's easy to screw yourself by raising a platform too high for you to reach and thus doesn't fall fast enough before the screen catches up, forcing you to exhaust a life. One screw up, and you're doing the whole thing over again.
  • Soda Lake is an underwater level that features Torpedo Ted, a type of enemy that is (thankfully) only seen in this stage. Torpedo Ted is a longer Bullet Bill that's invincible and underwater. There are several spots that spawn them, they're quite fast (much faster than a swimming Mario, at any rate), there's almost no room to dodge them, and some spots require you to swim right through where they spawn. Those spots often require the utmost perfect timing to get through without taking a hit. To even unlock this level, you have to reach the Cheese Bridge Area secret exit by flying under the normal exit, or float under it with Yoshi and jump off him, sacrificing the poor creature.
  • #5 Roy's Castle. This level marked the birth of a notorious Super Mario Scrappy Mechanic in the form of the Snake Block, a series of blocks that moves quickly in a set pattern, usually over a Bottomless Pit or One-Hit Kill lava. In this case, it's lava, and where there's lava, there's pesky Podoboos leaping out at just the right time to scorch an unsuspecting plumber. Podoboos that bounce diagonally on terrain are thrown in as well, and due to how they spawn, they can get caught in between the Snake and the ceiling, restricting movement further. When that's over with, there's still jumps on retracting and expanding platforms over a pit and Bowser statues shooting flames before Roy himself.
  • Chocolate Island 3. The level itself isn't that bad, but the first exit (the one you'll probably use first) will just lead you in a circle that puts you right back on the level. You need to fly over or under the first exit and then fly across a gap to the second exit that will allow you to progress. There are only subtle clues (in the form of three arrow signs in a row) to the existence of the second goal.
  • #6 Wendy's Castle in Chocolate Island, until you get used to it. The bone-throwing Dry Bones and the Grinder buzzsaws will be the least of your problems, what with the spiked pillars (which, by the way, are not treated as normal hazards, but rather as solid walls, meaning they will kill you instantly if you get caught under them and you cannot run your way through them. Even after the midpoint, there's still a precarious platforming section with shifting terrain and many Li'l Sparkies and Hotheads rotating on the perimeters.
  • Valley of Bowser 2 can be difficult the first time you go through it, especially in the block maze on the second section, where one wrong move will lead you to getting crushed. You can skip this for the normal exit if you have Yoshi, since his wings are right before the block maze, but you must go through it to find the secret exit, which is where no one would think to look on the last screen as well. Your reward for finding the secret exit is...
  • ...the Valley Fortress. Not only does it have the same deadly spiked pillars as #6 Wendy's Castle, but toward the end of the level they move up and down equally quickly, requiring more than usually sharp timing and positioning. If you have a Cape, it becomes even more frustrating unless you can force yourself to tap the Jump button instead of holding it for even a fraction of a second longer than necessary; otherwise, Mario/Luigi will float for a while and throw off the timing. There's still one last Reznor fight to deal with at the very end, too. This level also lacks a checkpoint in the SNES version, which the GBA port later rectified.
  • Valley of Bowser 3 is the only level in the game to feature the timed platforms, so the exclusive gimmick has to be grasped quickly in order to avoid many unnecessary deaths. Towards the end, there are even Banzai Bills thrown into the mix that take risky leaps in order to be stomped.
  • #7 Larry's Castle is not too difficult per se, but you only have a time limit of 300 and nearly half of that will be lost just riding the Snake Block to the second room unless you have very impressive skills with a Cape Feather and are able to skip this part. The second room is long and contains the ever-annoying Magikoopa. If you don't have the Cape Feather by this point, you'll be waiting for Magikoopa to blast through the turn blocks so you can advance, and this can take time if you accidentally take Magikoopa out. If you find the hidden midway gate and you lose a life, however, you can retry the level at the end of the first screen without the time issue being too big of a deal. "If" is the key word here, as said midway gate is in a small alcove at the bottom of a long chasm where the Snake Block's path ends, so the average player would avoid it thinking that it's a Bottomless Pit.

    Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins 
  • Wario's (or rather, Mario's) Castle has many jumps that are nigh impossible without bunny ears. There's swinging pendulum maces, propeller platforms over lava that have very wonky hitboxes, bone platforms that either rise/fall or almost instantly break, trap tiles that release fast-moving spiked fists, and more. It's also the longest level in the game by far, and has no checkpoint. Die while fighting the three-phase final boss (or at any other point for that matter), and you're doing the whole damn level over again from the beginning.

    New Super Mario Bros. DS 
  • World 8-4. The entire level is filled with Scuttlebugs, Giant Spiders that constantly drop down from the ceiling and chase after you; and a good chunk of the level involves moving platforms over bottomless pits. You're going to have a rough time if you don't have a Fire Flower on you to compensate; and even then, the Star Coin placements are enough to throw most players through the wringer. Trying to get that last Star Coin in particular without dying is CRAZY hard since that requires the use of a Mini Mushroom, the power-up that makes you a floaty One-Hit Point Wonder. The Starman certainly helps, but it is not a free ticket to victory.
  • World 8-Tower 2. The ENTIRE level takes place on a moving platform reminiscent of Castles 5 and 7 in Super Mario World. It's unpredictable, tedious, and nerve-wracking. Of course, as if the task of staying on the platform weren't difficult enough, Everything Trying to Kill You, whether it be spikes, Firebars, or rolling spiked balls. The very last Bowser Jr. fight at the end is also the harder version.
  • World 8-Final Castle is a difficult final level in the series, but not because of enemies or tricky platforming, but rather its gimmicks. The first half of the level is a confusing, gravity-flipping maze that feels out of place in a 2D Mario game, while the second half is a path-picking level reminiscent of the original Super Mario Bros. where the wrong paths leave you in an infinite loop, and the one correct path is usually the most dangerous one to take.
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    New Super Mario Bros. Wii 
  • 2-1 and 2-2 aren't that difficult if you're just playing through normally, but become this if you try to get all the Star Coins. The third Star Coin in the first can really be a pain to get, especially if you're not very good at timing a throw of a shell. In the second, it's the Spikes who will give you trouble.
  • 2-4, also known as the level with that wretched sandstorm. A good chunk of the level will be spent pinned down against a wall, waiting for the wind to stop blowing. Just getting through the level is a pain, but getting all the Star Coins and the secret exit as well is an exercise in patience, considering how easy it is to slip up and die, ruin your chances of getting them, or both. It doesn't help that the secret exit is at the end of the level.
  • Getting used to the ice can make for a Difficulty Spike in 3-1 that can make it seem like a That One Level.
  • 3-4 is also known to be difficult, since it takes place mostly on giant moving blocks of ice. One wrong slip and you'll be crushed or fall into a bottomless pit. Because of a thing the developers did with the secret exits, you're forced to play through it twice. Thankfully the second run is much easier than the first.
  • 3-Castle is very difficult when you have to deal with the ice-covered snake blocks. It's even worse in multiplayer!
  • World 5, especially the acid river in 5-4, and especially if you're a moderately talented first-timer who found the secret exit in 1-3 and decided to skip ahead...
  • 7-6, in addition to being relatively hard to find, is an auto-scroller that has you jumping on the heads of large Para-Buzzies for the entire level. There's rarely any solid ground, and most of the Para-Buzzies aren't that big, so one slip will usually send you back to the beginning. Oh, and no midway flag. Enjoy.
  • Ludwig's Fortress, in single player. It's clearly a stage designed with groups of people in mind, since it is hell trying to juggle tons and tons of Bob-ombs raining down on you by yourself while you slowly rise left and right.
  • 8-1. A massive Difficulty Spike with an Advancing Smog Of Doom, constant rocks raining down, lava plumes everywhere all make the hellscape scenery look authentic. Just see what happened when the Freelance Astronauts decided to try it with four players... Hilarity Ensues.
  • Either as a coincidence or a Four Is Death kind of thing, 8-4 is also pretty unbelievable. Black Out Basement... underwater.
  • 8-5 has you riding on a moving platform controlled by tilting the Wiimote. You have to do this while avoiding lava plumes and Bob-ombs raining down, and good luck getting all the Star Coins.

    New Super Mario Bros. 2 
  • The Dash Mario (cannon) levels are extremely difficult (albeit a bit short) on-the-fly high-speed madness. You have to make extremely precise jumps across platforms through lines of enemies without being able to stop and take a moment to plan your maneuvers because Mario can't stop running. The worst of the bunch is World Flower-Cannon, where you have to time a bunch of jumps off parachuting Bob-ombs which sway from left to right as they fall, plus all the rotating Amps you have to deal with. If you time your jumps off the Bob-ombs correctly, you'll dodge the Amps automatically, but it's extremely difficult because there is absolutely no margin for error. Using Raccoon Mario does take some of the edge off, however; you can immediately refill your Power Meter due to the constant running and spend most of the stage just flying.

    New Super Mario Bros. U / New Super Luigi U 
  • New Super Mario Bros. U:
    • Frosted Glacier-Ghost House/Swaying Ghost House, just for the sheer Guide Dang It! factor. The door to proceed is hidden behind a false wall—with no indication that said wall is anything but a wall, especially considering it feels perfectly solid if you don't have a P-Switch activated—in not one but two rooms, although the second at least gives you a hint...hidden behind another wall. The secret exit is even worse: the room it's in requires being fairly fast just to get to the regular door, and getting to the secret door allows you only a very small margin of error...even if you figure out that this time, the door is hidden behind the ceiling.
    • Soda Jungle-Tower/Snake Block Tower. "Snake block" levels are nothing new, but this time, you have two sets of blocks to keep track of, one normal-sized and one giant, and they move around lots and lots of Amps and Ball 'n' Chains, some of them in configurations that are nearly impossible to dodge. The Star Coins? Easy enough to find, but good luck getting them all without taking a hit.
    • Peach's Castle-1/Meteor Moat. The level in and of itself isn't that bad, until you get past the checkpoint. After that, you start getting bombarded by the meteors, while at the same time dealing with rising tides of lava and a crap load of Dry Beetles. It gets worse if you're going for the star coins, especially the third. But if you're trying to get at the secret exit, good luck not raging.
    • Peach's Castle-Castle 1/Red-Hot Elevator Ride. The entire level takes place on a rising platform that can be controlled by tilting the Game Pad or Wii Remote, but this one stops moving if more than one thing is on it. Goombas, Bob-ombs, even coins can bring it to a halt until they are disposed of if they land on it. This wouldn't be so bad, but you must also contend with constantly rising lava below, meaning that if the platform stops rising for too long, Mario will instantly die from the lava. Like Snake Block Tower, the Star Coins are in plain sight but very difficult to get and remain unscathed. The level has no midway point either, so if you die from the lava, a bolt of electricity, a wayward Bob-omb, etc., enjoy starting the level over from the beginning and losing any Star Coins you happened to collect.
  • New Super Luigi U:
    • 3-T (Shish-Kebab Tower) is almost impossible to complete as anyone but Nabbit. The pillars move in and out at insane speeds. This, combined with the time limit, Luigi's high jump, and slippery physics, can easily end your game.
    • 8-2 (Magma River Cruise) takes the annoying acid moat level from Wii, puts it in a lava world, and adds the most annoying enemies in the game. It's a good thing that you can skip this level, though.

3D Platformers

    Super Mario 64 
  • To single out a level which requires the Wing Cap, "Wing Mario Over the Rainbow" is one of the hardest levels in the game. The player has to collect eight Red Coins in the air. Solid ground is minimal, and due to the angles, it can be really difficult to gauge safe landing spots. The Wing Cap must be refreshed every so often to have enough time to collect all the coins. That's not even mentioning the fact that if you fall off the stage (which does not actually cost you a life), you end up outside the castle, and have to go all the way back up to the top to try again. The DS version takes some of the sting out of this - if you need to land, keep an eye on the lower screen and activate a Ground Pound when the Mario icon is directly over an island. Even this is not foolproof, though - the lower map gives no indication of height, so if you rely on it too heavily you may Ground Pound while under an island instead of over it - and if you are too high up when you Ground Pound, Mario will lose two or even four units of health.
  • Tick Tock Clock is a nightmare. The level is long and painfully linear, and it's one continuous tricky jump after another after another, made worse by the fact that most of the level takes place on very thin platforms which are really easy to fall from. Plus, if you don't know the "trick" for entering the level, the whole level can end up requiring insane timing. Even if you do know the trick to stop the clock, two stars all but require the clock to be in motion so that the hands of the clock can carry you to the stars, at least in the N64 versionnote . The level is also subject to randomly-spawned invisible walls that will most likely kill you if you're unfortunate enough to hit them on a risky jump. In the DS version, if you play as Luigi, all eight stars (including the 100-coin star) can be obtained while the clock mechanism is stationary.

    Super Mario Sunshine 
  • "The Sand Bird Is Born", a notoriously difficult level that is likely to be one of the first missions attempted by first-time players. Thought collecting 8 red coins was annoying enough? Try doing it on a moving object with flapping wings which, combined with the game's wonky physics, is very easy to fall off of! When it turns sideways, good luck getting to a safe location in time. To make matters worse, if you think it's too difficult, it's actually one of the easiest of the infamously difficult sub-levels.
  • Sirena Beach as a whole has left a bad taste in many a player's mouth. The first mission is a fight against That One Boss that eventually becomes a Zerg Rush that would rival that of Serious Sam's encounters; this is followed by a romp through a brutal secret stage. Then you have to navigate the maze-like hotel with the first step in it bordering on Insane Troll Logic, followed by a Luck-Based Mission with wonky physics leading to another secret stage, followed by a luck-based boss fight, followed by a boring clean-the-goop mission with a strict time limit, followed by chasing Shadow Mario through said maze-like hotel, and then finishing off with finding 8 red coins in the resident Timed Mission... again in said maze-like hotel.
  • The Secret Levels, in which every other platform is either moving, has tons of holes in, or is disintegrating beneath your feet, and in some cases the camera is swooping around so much that that jump you judged you'd make has now sent you plummeting off the edge. You also lose access to F.L.U.D.D. on your first visit to these Secret Levels. They all share the same catchy tune. Some secrets aren't notorious for the levels themselves, but for how cryptic their means of entry can be, such as with Gelato Beach, whose secret level is the first which involves dune buds. You might be misled by the shine sprite glowing in the distant cabana, but that's actually for the region's final shine sprite, "The Watermelon Festival" (see above). The hardest Secret Levels are the following:
    • "The Hotel Lobby's Secret", the second episode of Sirena Beach. Getting to it involves some tricky platforming while spraying the Pink Boos with water. In the actual Secret Level, you start off having to use multiple Winged enemies as Goomba Springboards, wall jump through some brick blocks, go on a narrow path of sand blocks, then ride a rotating platform to the end. Ironic in that its other secret level is a cakewalk by comparison in terms of the secret level proper.
    • "The Shell's Secret", the sixth episode of Noki Bay. This is the longest secret level in the game, with nearly every obstacle showing up at least once, other than the Chucksters and Sand and Ice Blocks. Thankfully, there's enough 1-ups that you probably won't get a game over unless you botch the first couple of jumps, but it's still a long, frustrating, drawn out slog that demands you make a lot of ridiculous jumps, sometimes over the bottomless pit.
    • "The Secret of the Village Underside", the fifth episode of Pianta Village. Yoshi controls terribly anyway, but you have to somehow jump down to a platform you can barely see. Then you get the actual Secret Level, which instead of actual platforming, you just have to be thrown by Piantas. Sounds easy, but you have to be DEAD ON in your positioning and how you move the control stick, otherwise you're screwed! Actually, you may still be screwed anyway. At least the Red Coin mission is much easier thanks to F.L.U.D.D.'s presence.
  • By far the worst Sunshine mini-stage is Delfino Plaza's "Lily Pad Ride". First, you have to ride Yoshi across 3 barges to get to the island the entrance is on without falling into the water, and that's just to enter the mini-stage! Once you get in, you'll find that you have to grab 8 Red Coins (many of which are in mid-air) while floating down an instant-death river on a barely-maneuverable lily pad that will dissolve when it's been active long enough. Oh, and the river is floating in the clouds, meaning everything outside of the stage is a bottomless pit. The best ways to finish this one are either to grab as many of the Red Coins as you can with the lily pad and then walk along the super-thin railing back to the start, or just try and jump to the coins from the railing and use the Hover Nozzle to land back on the ground.
  • "Pachinko Game". You have to retrieve eight Red Coins in a giant pachinko board (which, for those unfamiliar with the game, is essentially an upright pinball game with no flippers). However, you have extremely limited movement with F.L.U.D.D., and a good half of the coins are in really hard-to-reach locations. Should you happen to miss all the pockets and fall to the bottom of the board, you're immediately chucked out the bottom where you fall to your death. Should you happen to bring the Rocket Nozzle with you instead of the Hover Nozzle... good luck getting more than four coins. The worst part is that you can't go left. Not past a certain point, anyways. Those two ball-returns on the left side of the board? You have to cheat your way into them, because once you hit the center section, you can't go back. If you're on the left, you can only move right, and the plunger will always shoot you past the top-left cup. The only real solution is to wall-kick up the starting chute and hope you can get just high enough that you can hover over. On top of everything else, the stage is buggy: The pins also seem to have random kinetic effects if Mario touches them, sometimes catapulting you across the pachinko machine in a random direction. Others seem to indicate the position of an invisible wall.

    Super Mario Galaxy 
  • Sling Pod Galaxy requires precise aiming of the namesake Sling Pods, or else you will drift off into space or get sucked into a black hole. Star bits in excess of 9,000 (not joking) were earned, thanks to the developers always making sure there were enough of them to give you an extra life every time you died.
  • The three Trial Galaxies are called that for a reason.
    • The Loopdeswoop Galaxy. Ray, a large manta ray steered using the Wiimote, returns from the similarly-named Loopdeloop Galaxy, except that this course is narrower and has harder turns, with some sections also being much faster. There are many 1-Up Mushrooms scattered throughout the track.
    • The Rolling Gizmo Galaxy, which forces you to cross very thin platforms, dodge Bob-Ombs, and ride moving platforms while rolling on a ball and crossing the void. To add insult to injury, you're required to hop on a block that rotates around the platform to get to the final Star Ball blaster, which is an extra tricky bit of maneuvering.
    • The Bubble Blast Galaxy. The bubble, already a hard-to-maneuver One-Hit Wonder, must be navigated through a maze of electric fences. The first objective is to collect five Star Chips within five different areas, all featuring you riding the bubble. Then after you collect them all, you'll be launched to an area where your bubble has to dodge Bullet Bills that home on to you, as well as guns that shoot electric balls.
  • Several levels rely on a hard-to-master Spring Mushroom, which can easily result in you falling to your death. The one in Matter Splatter Galaxy is particularly hard, since the third section requires you to bounce up an effectively Auto Scrolling level where platforms appear and disappear as a patch moves up a tall tower with no walls.
  • The sole mission in Snow Cap Galaxy involves chasing and catching several Star Bunnies within 150 seconds, on a planet that is is covered almost entirely with snow that will slow Mario down to a crawl.

    Super Mario Galaxy 2 
  • Fleet Glide Galaxy. Fluzzard from the Wild Glide Galaxy is relatively hard to control, and you die if you hit a wall. A key difference is that there is lava everywhere, so you will want to collect the Life Mushroom to stay alive. The hardest thing about the level is obtaining the Comet Medal: Like before, you have to pass through five gates to get the medal, but all five are out of your way, and you have to skip the Life Mushroom to pass through the first gate.
  • Clockwork Ruins Galaxy has you traversing a series of giant rotating cogs. Gravity does not keep you in place, so you have to keep moving around the edges of the platforms in order to stay in a position where you don't fall to your death. The Prankster Comet for this world requires you to collect 100 Purple Coins on the two cogs of the first planet, within 5 minutes.

    Super Mario 3D World 
  • World 3-2 (Chain-Link Charge) will probably be one of the first levels that you will seriously rack up the deaths on. It has many segments with moving fences, most of which block your way or force you to make quickly-timed jumps if you don't have the Super Bell. If you do, you can climb on the fences... but you can't climb on forever. The second Green Star is brutal, since you have to make some very tricky jumps past two moving fences right before the checkpoint, so if you mess up you're doing the level from the start again. After that it goes upwards through segments where the fences move against you over clouds and a lot of enemies. Oh, and by the way, it's an auto-scrolling level!
  • 5-6 (Cakewalk Flip) isn't so hard if you're just playing through. If you're going for the collectibles (especially the stamp and third Green Star), on the other hand...those bleeping Ring Burners in conjunction with flipping platforms ...and that's with one player. Any more than one player, and the level becomes unmitigated chaos, with the platforms flipping every time anybody jumps.
  • 6-Tank (Bowser's Bob-omb Brigade). You will need to know where to throw bombs and how to do it quickly if you want most of the items here.
  • World Castle-3 (Red-Hot Run). This level consists of boost panels that speed you up during the level. Sounds fun, right? Nope. Big problem here, the ledges are somewhat thin, and it's very easy to lose control and accidentally fall off the path at no fault of your own, leaving only a small margin for error. It may be merely hard on its own, but getting 100% completion on this level (meaning getting all 3 Green Stars and the Stamp) is an absolute recipe for disaster, as they are located in the easiest areas to fall off. You also only have 100 seconds, meaning that the margin for error may become smaller at any point. Of course, there are obstacles here as well that can hinder you drastically. Also, there's no checkpoint.
  • Castle-Castle (Bowser's Lava Lake Keep), if you're going for all collectibles in one run. The second star requires a Cat suit (which isn't even available in this level, so you have to enter while wearing one, and if you lose it, you have to leave and acquire another), while the third can only be retrieved with the boomerang suit, and the only ones in this level are far before and far after where the star is. So you have to juggle two different powerups past firebars, fireballs, bombs and Demonic Spiders. The icing on the cake is that the checkpoint is located just before the narrow fireball-infested bridge leading to the third star, so you have to skip the checkpoint and go back and activate it after retrieving the star, lest the star becomes unobtainable until clearing or leaving the level if you die or lose the boomerang suit.
  • Bowser-7 (Grumblump Inferno) is the lava equivalent to Guts Man's lifts. This level is the last regular level in the main game, and it lives up to the position. The gimmick of the level is large rectangular blocks in lava that tumble end over end and force you to keep running to the next side. They tumble rather quickly, and you must be pretty careful with your positioning and timing when running; too far forward or back, and say hello to the lava. The cubical blocks are bad enough, but some of them are rectangular, so the distance you need to move isn't always the same. They don't just move in straight lines but go along twisty paths that make frequent 90-degree turns. And because Nintendo just loves you, you will have to do all this while dodging Hammer Bros and Fire Piranha Plants in some places. Then there's the collectibles... Let's just say one of them is hovering above a one-block thin pillar, with a Hammer Bro on it. The only mercies you're given are that the level at least gives you a Tanooki Suit ...and the music is great. It says something when the final castle (boss included) is substantially easier than this insanity. Whatever you do, do not ground pound the blocks, even out of frustration — if you do, they get angry faces and move faster (though you have to do this if you're attempting a speed run).

    Super Mario Odyssey 
  • The Lost Kingdom is full of poisonous water that instantly kills you, it's made up of islands that are easy to get lost in and provide little to no sense of direction, most of the enemies are either spiky or immune to your cap, the latter of which throw Cappy back like an explosive (which has a very tight time limit to dodge or jump over and is required to get to some areas and Moons, but can be easily crouched under) and the entire island plays a piece of music that can quickly become annoying. The tone of the level is set nicely when you arrive and Klepto makes off with Cappy, and you can't even to go to previous kingdoms until you've collected the quota of Power Moons. Likely a deliberate example as Bowser sends you crash-landing here after the game promised the highly promoted Metro Kingdom as your next stop.
  • The Luncheon Kingdom is surrounded by lava, and, as usual, falling in causes Mario to go flying in pain. Unfortunately, you cover a lot more distance than you did in older games and Mario isn't as easily controlled. This is not good when the map is full of small platforms, so it's entirely possible to overshoot the platforms completely by mistake. (Or worse: Fall off, then Mario goes the opposite direction.) What's more, there are also several areas with very narrow platforms you must hop onto, and if you miss, then you fall into the lava — which might as well be an instant death trap since you'll likely not have any way to recover (at least, not without accidentally hitting the lava again). There is also the primary gimmick of navigating the area with Lava Bubbles. A captured Lava Bubble will disappear if it hits anything other than lava. Naturally, this means any slip-up in sections requiring you to jump over solid ground are likely to send Mario into the lava.

Spin-offs

    Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker 
  • Mummy Me Maze Forever is similar to the Mummy Me chases earlier in the game. Except for one thing: Now you have to clear 50 rooms while avoiding up to three Mummy Mes, and other enemies that get in your way. Like all the other Mario brutal bonus levels these days, if you die, you must start the whole thing all over again. What sets it apart from Mario's other brutal bonus levels, however, is the fact that you cannot run out of lives, meaning your frustrations with this level can GIVE you extra lives if anything, though 99 lives is the maximum limit.

    Super Mario Maker 
  • "Zig-Zag Lava Bubbles" fills the entire screen with bouncing Lava Bubbles. Extremely precise movement through thin corridors is required, or you will die.
  • "Be Brave & Get Up Close!" has a row of ? Blocks in front of a huge tower of giant Chain Chomps. You have to try to get the invincibility star placed in the very last block so you can use it to knock out the Chain Chomps and jump over the remaining tower of Chain Chomp pegs and hit the goal, but the somewhat erratic behaviour of the Chain Chomps makes this practically a Luck-Based Mission. You also have a short timer on this level as well, so you can't take forever either.
  • "Even Trampolines Dream of Flying" consists of mostly nothing but a bottomless pit with winged trampolines as your only means of getting across, it doesn’t help how not only are they constantly moving, hardly give you any time to position and bounce properly and bouncing on trampolines is extremely wonky. You will die A LOT while playing this level.
  • This trope is actually exploited by the game itself. In the 100-Mario Challenge, courses are pulled from the Course World based on their completion rate.note  On Expert and Super Expert difficulty, the courses usually have a completion rate in the single digits, meaning that players will receive levels that are considered That One Level by other players.

    Super Mario Run 
  • Black coins:
    • The second black coin in 1-4 requires doing a perfect leap and spin off a Dry Bones from ground level. There's no room for error, and it's counter-intuitive since you actually have to time your leap so you hit it just before you finish vaulting over the Dry Bones. Easy if you have Luigi, though.
    • The fourth and fifth black coins in 3-3 are each awful for their own reasons. The fourth actually requires you to use the bubble mechanic to redo part of the stage after smashing a block to allow a shell through, while the fifth requires using a spring to bounce through a one-block hole. Doesn't matter what character you're using here, it's frustrating all the same.
    • Getting the second black coin in 4-1 is easily the most frustrating special coin in the entire game. It requires jumping off a P-switch, wall-jumping onto a single brick, jumping towards another single brick, wall-jumping off of that, and back up onto the pipe containing the coin. The timing window for this is simply a few seconds and allows for absolutely no error, requiring a full restart of the stage for every attempt. The Yoshis make this easier as their Flutter Jumps make it easier to access the pipe.
    • 6-4's first black coin is hell if you're playing as anyone but Toad. It's in a ? block situated over a gap just high enough that a regular jump will clear the block. You need to carefully time your jump to clip the edge of the block. Too little and you miss. Too much and you vault over it. As Mario and Luigi, grabbing a Mushroom makes doing it even harder. Toad's higher speed makes it easier to hit the block, as he can get right under it.
  • Toad Rally:
    • The airship. It combines Ninjis, gaps, and cannonballs to make a run where even the slightest mistake will hurt or kill you. This is the bare minimum. If you've beaten the World Tour, add flame spouts and Rocky Wrench to the list for added annoyance.
    • The ghost house is tolerable at first, but once you've beaten the game it gets a lot worse. The puzzle aspects from the later versions are tacked on, so you have to figure those out on top of trying to get coins. It's also fairly stingy with Toads, owing to the lack of tricks you can pull off.
  • Unlocking Star World levels. Of all the challenges necessary for unlocking the levels, the challenge for Star-6 tops them all. You have to collect 400 coins in 1-2, a level where they're separated into different paths and an absolutely optimal strategy will get you 426. There is no margin for error here. You have to backtrack and make the run perfectly to achieve it. Toad alleviates the problem slightly, but not by much.
  • Remix 10:
    • A few of the Remix courses require you to use the back swipe mechanic to slow your character if you want the medals, which is incredibly unreliable on smaller devices.
    • Of particular note is a variation on Wall-Kicking it Underground, which has the medals placed in such a way that the second medal requires a pixel-perfect jump to avoid getting stuck on an alternate path where you can't reach the third. If you're very lucky, you'll wind up there with a Starman and avoid the headache, but it's usually the first or second of the ten just to make sure you can't use that trick.

    Super Mario Maker 2 
  • "No Jumping Allowed!" takes the most basic mechanic from the series away from you. You cannot jump a single time (unless you grab the flag before you land), and if you do, you will automatically fail the level. It's not just jumping - falling off a ledge or even stepping down a single block is instant failure. Mario's feet cannot leave the ground under any circumstances or it's a failed level for you.
  • "Chain Chomp Chiller" takes the same concept as "No Jumping Allowed!", only this time you have to run past a whole field of Unchained Chomps without any use of headgear to protect yourself from them. While the winged Chomps have a higher jump, allowing a bigger (but still not an awfully big) timeframe for you to run past them, the final parts of the level pit you against Unchained Chomps without wings, leaving you only some springs for you to use, meaning you either have to backtrack to get more springs, or run at nearly pixel-perfect timing. Assist Mode might just be the only thing that'll get you through this level if you're not very good at dealing with Unchained Chomps.
  • "Dash On, Dash Off" is one of those levels where you have to, as suggested by the name, rush through it and activate ON/OFF switches, and perhaps jumping over some large gaps. What adds to the challenge is there's a strict 30-second time limit, and you better not screw around as much or otherwise, the timer will run out on you by the time you make that jump to the last switch.
  • "March of the Rookie Toads", tasks you with bringing ten Toads over to the goalpole, who follow eiher you to your very move, or behind another Toad doing the same thing, who can get trapped in a bubble in one hit. If that doesn't sound hectic enough, Fire Piranha Plants on Lakitu Clouds also shows up as well, meaning if you aren't very careful with how you jump, half of the time you'll spend on this level is dealing with the Toads who were caught by the Sun swooping down on them, if they weren't caught by a stray Goomba or any other enemy that shows up throughout the level. However if you use Assist Mode and steal the Lakitu's Cloud with Starman, it suddenly becomes a breeze.

Yoshi series

    Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island 
  • Level 5-7: "Shifting Platforms Ahead" deserves mention, as the need to time your jumps to avoid falling into the abyss while dealing with the moving platforms makes reaching the exit a frustrating ordeal, and completing it 100% a bigger nightmare.
  • "The Very Loooooong Cave" is a long level that requires a steady sequence of very precise jumps, which due to the continuous auto-scroll, you have essentially no time to prepare for. One especially aggravating sequence is when you have to ride a rolling boulder across a lava pit to reach an alternate exit door. The very end of the level autoscrolls especially fast and has a series of pillars that you need to Ground Pound to collect the last red coins. If you miss, you will reach the goal and be forced to start over from the beginning.

    Yoshi's Island DS 
  • Any of the autoscrolling levels are often considered this by many.
    • World 2-6, "Donuts and Eggs", is a long autoscroller that sometimes loops, and although there is checkpoints in the level, it is often considered the worst level in World 2.
    • Most of World 3-1, "Up The Creek", is a standard level, but at the very end of the level autoscrolls up a waterfall against the player's own will. It's a short section in a large level, but can be frustrating if you don't know what you're doing.
    • The very next level, World 3-2, "The Goonie Coast Isn't Clear", is quite often considered one of the worst levels due to the fact that it scrolls the entire level. It's not the first section of the level that gets most, although it is a little frustrating ; it's the latter section that many consider to be extremely frustrating because this section is several times as long as the first section in the level and also partially loops in the fourth ship, if you plan on getting all secrets and a 100% for the stage. It doesn't help that some players consider the level's music to be an annoying and empty tune that seems to be taunting the player.
  • World 4-7, "Teeth-Chattering Chill Zone". Let's see: You use Bouncies in combination with ice to slide past the crushing rocks, BUT those things fall and rise INCREDIBLY fast, so you're likely to DIE. Then, you have to do a tricky platforming section with lots of Bumpties and Bouncies to avoid, as well as some moving platforms. These Bumpties and Bouncies, combined with it being an ice level, often lead to you falling to your death. This section is so hard, some gamers never even get past this part before giving up in frustration. The final section is a ski jump section, which normally is a Scrappy Mechanic, but here, it's actually the easiest part of the level.
  • World 5-1, "Rompin' Stompin' Chomps":
    • The level features three different versions of the Chomp enemy, and they're all nasty. In the first section, you have to dodge huge, fast-moving Chomps which jump up and down in place while trying to collect red coins by throwing eggs really high into the air. Doesn't sound so bad? The screen is AUTO-SCROLLING while you're trying to do this. In the second section, you have to hover over gaps while even bigger Chomps are raining down on you from above. If you can manage to get past that, there's the final section, where one of the "eats everything in its path" Chomps from the first game chases you, and he's much faster than the ones in the original game. If you're going for 100%, be sure not to miss the very inconveniently placed coins and flowers while you're scrambling for your life!
    • The Baby Mario coin deserves special mention. First off, you need to know it's coming, because if you instinctively jump from the ledge above, you'll overshoot the coin with no way to get back. Then, because it's completely surrounded by breakable material, you have to shoot an egg at exactly the right angle; if you're a tiny bit off, you'll either destroy the ground underneath the coin or you'll leave a barrier blocking your way forward. Once you've cleared a path the coin, you must jump in, grab it, jump out onto a moving platform, and then get through the rest of the level (if you die, you lose the coin). All of that, while being chased by a Chomp with Rubber-Band A.I..
  • World 5-5, "The Cave That Never Ends", is an obnoxiously difficult forced-scrolling stage that very nearly lives up to its name. The level is a constant barrage of challenging platforming sections that are far too complex to make split-second maneuvers practical, yet that's what you have to do... you know, because of the autoscroll and all. There are several spots where you have to clear a path to a coin or flower and then backtrack so you can follow the path, only to find that you can no longer get to it because you didn't stay quite far enough ahead of the scroll. Then once you do finally get to the exit ring, you'll find out you passed it quite a while ago, but the scrolling wouldn't let you go to it until just now.
  • Stage 5-7, "Super Hard Acrobatics", lives up to its name and then some. Unsurprisingly, it's composed of vicious jumping puzzles and dodging on moving platforms. If this weren't bad enough, unless you specifically set yourself otherwise, you're probably carrying Baby Donkey Kong into the stage,note  which cripples your speed and aerial ability.
  • Bowser's Castle (of course) gives you five different ways to go through it, depending on who you have on your back. Every one of them is Nintendo Hard.
    • Mario's route has you outrunning a giant Tap-Tap across small platforms. You have to keep running in order to avoid being hit, and your jumps have to be precise so that you hit all the collectibles as well as avoiding falling to your death. It's the most hectic route, but also the shortest, and isn't so bad if you can make your Sonic the Hedgehog instincts kick in.
    • Wario's route depends on puzzle-solving ability rather than platforming skills. It's confusing, long, and tedious. There isn't much in the way of stuff that's likely to kill you, but you can easily ruin your chances of 100% Completion if you're not really careful how you progress through the level.
    • Peach's route is essentially this game's equivalent to "Animal Antics" from Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest. You have to use her parasol to ride the breezes through sections lined with instant-death spikes, being very careful not to let the wind blow you into right into them. A particularly nasty section toward the end forces you to ride the breezes upward through a long diagonal shaft. It ain't over after that; you still have to do some careful falling and fluttering through more spiked passages to finally reach the door that takes you to the next section.
    • Bowser's route has you crossing a bunch of tiny ice platforms, in some places bouncing off Koopas to progress, all while being constantly besieged with Gusties coming at you from all directions. They're usually right on top of you before you see them, giving you very little chance to attack or dodge them.
    • Finally, Donkey Kong's route is probably the most difficult of them all. It involves a lot of swinging on ropes while dodging firebars over a bunch of, you guessed it, instant-death spikes. If you're going for 100% Completion, there are two flowers in this section that are a real pain to collect. One of them forces you to throw an egg up a vertical shaft while swinging on a rope; the hard part is lining up and making your throw without letting the rope's momentum swing you into the spikes. The other is surrounded by spikes in the middle of a zip-lining section. If you don't know it's coming, you probably won't have time to grab it by the time you notice it. Even if you do know it's coming, it's very difficult to grab; you have to slide toward the bottom of the rope (otherwise you won't be in range to hit the flower with an egg), nail the flower with an egg, then very quickly climb back up the rope so that you won't hit the next set of spikes.
  • The secret level "Welcome to Yoshi Tower!". Rising lava, only just enough stars to max out your counter, loads of hazards, and no checkpoints.

    Yoshi's New Island 
  • Most of the secret levels in the 3DS game are also very hard, though 4-S in particular stand out as it has the dreaded return of Poochy combined with loads of thorns and barely enough time to jump over them.
  • "Slime Drop Drama" is normally fine to beat, but doing it without taking damage with 30 stars can be really annoying, the first room might have a crate of five stars, but you might just have to get red eggs, enter and exit a locked door over and over again and pin down the Shy Guys or Snifits. And there is barely anything besides the middle ring and three Snifits tucked within walls during a moving platform segment to supply you with stars in the second room. Kamek can easily become That One Boss trying to get through without getting hit.

    Yoshi's Woolly World 
  • 5-6: Up Shuttlethread Pass. This stage is mazelike, and requires the player to constantly shift between the "front side" and "back side" of the level. However, since you can't see between the two sides of the stage and your perception of the level is mirrored every time you flip sides, it's very easy to become disoriented. It's also a vertical level, so accidental falls can undo loads of progress.
  • 5-8: Snifberg the Unfeeling's Castle. Almost the entirety of the stage is covered in Frictionless Ice, and it's filled to the brim with ice blocks that slowly roll on an axis like the giant blocks in Shifting Sand Land. Expect countless deaths from getting pinched by one as it rolls over while you're trying to get out of its way. Then they become enormous and then they roll fast into the foreground in such a way it's difficult to judge their depth. The collectibles aren't easy to reach, either. At least the boss isn't that bad once you figure out his weakness.
  • 6-5: Yoshi, the Terror of All Boos. The level is filled with Frame Boos, which you have to hit with yarn balls to create platforms in order to progress. The problem is that these enemies turn intangible when you face them, meaning that you have to look in the opposite direction and ricochet a yarn ball off the wall to hit them. However, the Boos will chase Yoshi while his back is turned to them, which can mess up their position and lead to the creation of useless platforms. The level also contains stationary Boo Platforms that work similarly, but only last a few seconds. One particularly annoying room has three rows of Boo Platforms, with the player being required to perform a series of precise egg tosses to nail the correct ones in order to reach the exit.

Paper Mario series

    Super Paper Mario 
  • If you don't just hop on GameFAQs, Chapter 2-3 is the ultimate in Scrappy levels. To wit - you have to play out extremely long, unbearably boring minigames to run up 1,000,000 Rubees to pay for a vase. Even though you really only need about 10,000 (the rest can be found once you've got that), it takes forever and a year just to get that much, and if a player does not talk to people much, then it is theoretically possible to go for the full million. Thankfully, every bit of that minigame work can be skipped over if you just hop on the Internet and figure out how to get the hidden stash of them without worrying about paying NPCs to tell you.
  • Chapter 3-3 has those damned Crazee Dayzees in a rather annoying jump-centric level. They hit you when you're in the middle of a jump, and there's a good chance you will be knocked down and forced to do large chunks of the level again. When you finally make it out of there and deal with this level's miniboss, you still have quite a bit of jumping to do ...and it's possibly made worse by having a few Lakitus roam the sky, which you likely won't see until it's too late.
  • The entirety of Chapter 4 can be very annoying, due to being a Space Zone chapter that uses Unexpected Shmup Level in both 4-1 and 4-3. 4-1 is also The Maze, and all the rooms look almost identical to each other. On the other hand, 4-3 is nothing but a pointless fetch quest that deprives you of your ability to attack until you complete it. While 4-2 doesn't use either of those elements, it's still annoying, as it is a long level with space physics. Once you reach the end to get a key item, you're forced to backtrack all the way to the beginning to proceed. To put the annoyance into perspective, 4-4, a Gravity Screw The Maze Marathon Level, is probably the least annoying level in the Chapter. As a bonus, your guide through the chapter is a Jerkass who treats your characters like dirt, only adding to the annoyance.
  • Chapter 5-3, a mine level that centers mostly around one long, enemy-filled room with so many branching pathways, several of which are hidden, that it becomes extremely easy to get lost and forget which doors you've already explored. Not to mention the fact that at one point, in order to progress, you must go through one of the automatic Minecart Madness sections while flipped to 3D. The player doesn't find out about this until the end, at which point they're forced to ride back, flip to 3D, and go through it again, meaning they need to sit through the minecart ride two more times.
  • Chapter 7-1 is a definite breather, but 7-2 will have anyone grinding their teeth. Does a vertically-ascending Marathon Level sound bad enough? No? Well, how about setting it in a Blackout Basement and including a fetch quest that forces you to redo the bulk of the level? You're gonna enjoy this one.
  • 7-3 isn't any better. It's even longer than 7-2, it's very jump-centric, and the entire level revolves around finding the right apple to free Peach from a sleeping curse. Luckily, the Guide Dang It! can be mitigated by hopping on the Internet to find out which apple it is. Also, it's vertical. Don't forget that.
  • The entirety of world 8 can fall into this. A monochromatic maze where every door is the same, and going into the wrong one is punished by an enemy. Even then, 8-4 stands out: You only have access to Mario, so kiss Bowser's OP fire blast goodbye. Half of the maze is a never-ending 3D loop of doors. Running out of 3D deals damage to you, so you're punished by taking damage. At least the very last boss is not too hard.

    Paper Mario: Sticker Star 
  • 1-5 is a fairly moderate level, but trying to get past the Lakitu throwing Spinies everywhere can be frustrating for some gamers because you're more than likely to end up touching one; and you can't jump on them, since they have spikes. They also deal 5 damage a hit, when the most health you can have at this point is 25 HP. Hope you've saved non-jumping stickers up for these moments.
  • 2-3, "Sandshifter Ruins". The level is a large, confusing mess of paths and chambers that mostly relies on trial and error. Go down the wrong route, and you're shot all the way above the ruins and you have to start all over. To make matters worse, it's the only level in its world that has multiple exits, and both of them are mandatory.
  • World 3. The world is so long that it's not an exaggeration to say it's longer than the previous two worlds combined.note  Most of the entire world is spent backtracking and trying to find the four pieces of a Wiggler, all of which run away and try to fight you at one point, and love to dodge your attacks (though, at only 15 HP apiece, they aren't that bad). Also, nearly every single level in the world is covered in poison, which hurts you to step in it (and if you battle while in it, expect to randomly take damage and screw up your perfect bonus), and infested with Ninji. The creepy music starts to get old after a short time. Leaflitter Path is a Blackout Basement because of how dark and foggy the place is, which makes it easy to walk into poison. The Bafflewood is The Maze (though you can set markers for the first few path branches). In Rustle Burrow, you lose your hammer, Kersti, and your stickers. All of them. And the local Scuttlebugs are all over the place, and the miniboss of that world can't be hurt except by destroying its web, and each attempt will be responded with an unblockable 8 damage. Gauntlet Pond is also really long, and has segments with jumping on swinging logs across a huge poison lake. Then in Whitecap Beach you have to fight Gooper Blooper, who, like all the bosses in this game, is ludicrous without abusing its weakness. Yeesh.
  • 4-3 "The Enigmansion", no doubt. You have to defeat 100 Boos in order to complete the level. Fortunately, some are fought together as a group... but they're hard to defeat. The hardest Boos to defeat are the five that battle you disco-style, and the sheets of 82 Boos combined together (you find two conveniently-located Flashy Infinijumps in the level, for good reason). It's a large level, and it can get extremely frustrating trying to find that Last Lousy Boo. Once you've gotten all 100 Boos, you're done with this level, right? Wrong. Now you have to put the book away in the basement. But then Kamek appears and turns all 100 Boos into one giant Big Boo, who only has one attack: jumping onto you and grabbing you. Sounds easy at first, but then the lights come on and you can't directly attack it. Hope you have lots of Spike Helmets or the Vacuum for this battle; you'll need either one of them. What a long, frustrating mess it is.
  • 4-5. Not too bad at the start, but the ski lift part is really annoying. First off, there are so many enemies (mainly Paragoombas and Fuzzies), and to avoid them, you have to sway left and right, but swaying your ride only lasts for a few seconds. Also, to collect coins or hearts, you have to press the A button when the top of your ride is under that item, and the ski lift part is really long.
  • 5-3. You've got an annoying Cheep-Chomp trying to eat your raft. If it eats all five logs of the raft, it's game over. If you're swallowed whole, it's game over. Yes, the name of the level is right (Long Fall Falls), the level is long. Worse yet, to access the secret exit of this level, you have to face the Cheep-Chomp again. If you get the secret exit before the normal one, or if you get both and still have stuff to get in the level, the fish's AI improves, making the level even harder.
  • 5-6, which is the home of the World 5 boss, Petey Piranha. It seems to be easy at first, but then when you get to the bridge, Petey Piranha appears and eats Kersti. Without Kersti, you can't paperize (so attaching the secret door of this level to its rightful place can't be done until Kersti is rescued). Then you cross half the level, and it's easy until you reach the Chain Chomp you have to battle. It can't take damage no matter WHAT item you use. You have to use a Baahammer to put it to sleep and then run off. Then you have to battle it again. You have to use useless items before it wakes up. Once it does, it goes ramming across the screen (you have to have more then 10 HP here, since the Chain Chomp runs into you with no stopping, and you lose 10 HP for that). Then finally, you reach the boss, Petey Piranha. He has 300 HP. It's hard. But what makes it worse is that you can't use the Battle Spinner, because you need Kersti to operate that, and Kersti is in Petey's body. With the royal sticker on his head, your stickers do little damage to him. Your only bet on beating him is to use Infinijumps stickers. At least you get Kersti back at the end of this level.
  • Getting the Toad from 1-4 back to Decalburg counts as this. If you fall off the ledge, start all over again. If you touch an enemy, start all over again, holy crap!. The Toad won't jump over the enemies either. You have to fight them to get the Toad back to Decalburg. You'll have an easier time at the World 1 boss than this crap.

    Paper Mario: Color Splash 
  • Dark Bloo Inn, although to a lesser extent than the following ones. The level has you finding six ghost toads and helping them by doing fetch quests. The problem is that one of the toads can only be found in a specific time frame, the toads are invisible and can only be found by painting them and it is slightly difficult to tell where they are (you have to look for something moving on it's own) and some of the fetch quests are annoying. Finally, the level is actually a Timed Mission. It will reset if you take too long and the game does not tell you this until after the loop occurs once.
  • Colbalt Base revolves around a memory game. Completing it normally is not too difficult but in order to get the Thing that is in the level (which is required to defeat Wendy) you have to complete the whole thing flawlessly. Hope you have a good memory and you also need to have the right cards to answer the questions. These are given to you by a friendly blue Sniffit at the start of the level but he is easy to miss and will not give you the cards if you do not have space for 30 cards.
  • Violet Passage, probably the most irritating of the three. Featuring an Unexpected Gameplay Change where you take control of a ship and complete a series of tasks that require precise timing with controls that make this harder than it should be. Additionally, your hints for what to do use nautical terms and are a little vague at times. Thankfully, there is a Mercy Mode if you fail too many times.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong series

    Mario vs. Donkey Kong 
  • Beating the base high score in 4-3 in the first Mario vs. Donkey Kong to get its star is much harder than doing it in the surrounding levels. The first area of the level is extremely cycle-based due to the line-guided Lifts that you have to ride to get anywhere, which severely limits the possible time bonus note  you can get if you don't maximize your efficiency within these cycles. If you aren't opening the key door before the first section's timer goes below 90 seconds, you'll be rushing through the second half to wring out those precious few seconds in the hopes of even meeting the base high score of 31500, though even with good cycle management in the first half (~94 seconds entering the key door), it's highly likely you'll only be about 1000 points above the original score.

    Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! 
  • Just try to 100% complete S-1 in plus mode. Almost the entire level is made of girders.
  • The Expert levels are no walk in the park, either, especially X-6, complete with those Thwomps out of stone. Worse: the goal is on top of one of those removable blocks. Just try to complete it, especially in Plus mode.
  • World 7, Cannon Cove is a nice breather level after the hell that was World 6, even in plus mode. That is, however, until you hit the nasty brick wall of 7-7 with a hellish puzzle with Capture Kongs and an almost guarantee of getting your Minis in the door out of order. That level is by far the hardest level in the game outside the Brutal Bonus Level set, and even then, it's harder than most of the Nintendo Hard bonus levels.

Unofficial Games

     ROM Hacks 
  • Brutal Mario has "Titanic", a Ghost House level with the reappearing Boos, combined with a very strict time limit, makes for one hell of a time.
  • Newer Super Mario Bros. Wii has a few.
  • Something Series:
    • Boss Bass is the gimmick within Dat Bass and to make it worse, it is immune to fireballs. He's even found in the Switch Palace exit.
    • Chateau du Vent. The wind tries pushing Mario to the left, which makes moving to the right much more difficult, especially with obstacles in the way.
    • Hell Ship in the Sky is difficult because of the Homing Pidgit Bills. They're fired by the ship's cannons and they will always aim for Mario's position, no matter what. Later on, Spikitus start throwing them. Another one joins and makes things worse.
    • Spikitu Castles 1+2 in Something Else are difficult because of the Spikitus. They are immune to Luigi's arsenal of tricks.
  • Sui Mario.
    • Many of the levels have ice physics, but a big offender is Clavinet Plateau Fortress. Fireballs, Sawblades, Thwomps, and Magikoopas. Even the hint block at the start says it's a bullshit excuse that all the surfaces were waxed.
    • For the Completionists; Bass Cave Ghost House takes the cake as the Alternate exit requires you to go to the end, get a P Switch after hitting 2 invisible blocks to show up for you to get said P Switch, all the while spin jumping on Boos to regain your footing, then taking said P Block all the way back to the start, also the floors are made of ice blocks, so the usual slipping BS too.
  • Super Mario Star Road is one of the most ambitious, creative rom hacks of Super Mario 64 ever created, but it's also one of the hardest due to some fiendish level design that assumes that you have mastered the controls and quirks of the game. There are many hard levels in it...
    • ...but few of them reach the hair-pulling insanity that is The Hidden Palace, which is pure Platform Hell. It will push your skills to their limits—you need well timed triple jumps, frame perfect wall kicks, risky jump dives, tiny platforms to navigate (including a very small platform that you have to triple jump off of), the works. A lot of it is set over a bottomless pit, so you have no room for error after the beginning. Oh yeah, and there's a Replica Star hidden directly above the main star on the roof of the top of the level, meaning you have to play through it twice to complete it!
    • Gloomy Garden is an early example of how tough this hack can get. The whole level consists of narrow walkways over a dark Bottomless Pit that enemies can easily knock you off of if you're not careful. Skelux himself has acknowledged this and said he would redesign it so that it was much more fair in the DS version.
    • Mad Musical Mess is another particularly notorious level. It's also another level made of platforms floating over a bottomless pit and contains a lot of tricky jumps. It's also the first level to introduce the bee enemies, which are hard to hit and can effortlessly knock you to your doom.
    • Colossal Candy Clutter is another frustrating level as well. Star 5 in particular, because you need to make a few perfect pole jumps combined with wall kicks, along with a few perfect long jumps across very small platforms to complete it, and one slip up will either make you have to start over or will send you flying to your death.
    • Bob-Omb Battle Factory. It demands precision platforming and has lots of spots where you can easily fall to your death and some tricky narrow platforms. It also throws in a Kaizo Trap warp pipe that will throw you into a pool of instant-death gunk if you jump into it.
  • S Mario. This hellishly hard hack played by raocow has a few awful levels best mentioned here for their obnoxiousness...
    • World 3 castle makes a previous level's gimmick even worse. No going left, no spin jumping (you die instantly if you try), with ice physics, with water physics (in places) and with such 'fun' obstacles as on/off switches and homing Bullet Bills.
    Azentiger: ...NOOOOOO! No left! No Spin Jump! ON ICY FLOOR!? YOU! GOTTA BE! KIDDING ME!
    • The final castle, which had the frustration of random wind physics. Imagine an already hard level. Now imagine every time you move or jump, you could be pushed left or right at random, and the direction changes every second or so without warning. Not an enjoyable experience.
  • The final level in Japanese hack Luigi of Shadow. What's worse than a Marathon Level that's ludicrously difficult? How about one which is also The Maze? Yes really. The place is littered with doors, and they go to every single room in the place at what seems like random. Often a room you've been to and completed ten minutes ago, which means a lot of back tracking if you have no save states. Oh, and the game's actually trying to trick you into opening them, with some positioned at points where they look rather like what would normally be the door to the next area...
  • Kaizo Mario 64 is a hack that, while not quite on par with the notoriously hard ROM hack it's named after, has some levels that will tear every hair from your skull. The most notable is its take on Bowser in the Sky, if only because the entire level is invisible!
  • Super Mario 74 Extreme Edition is the sequel to Super Mario 74, the first complete Super Mario 64 hack not to be based on the levels from the original game. It's regarded as being even harder than Kaizo Mario 64. One particularly noteworthy pair of levels are Veneno-Sphere and Crudelo-Sphere, which are based on a pair of levels from the original hack, Luminum-Sphere and Ombru-Sphere (which were plenty difficult in their own right). Ombru-Sphere was an upside-down version of Luminum-Sphere; the Extreme Edition versions literally turn them on their side (and add in tons of lava, just in case the levels weren't already difficult enough). Extreme amounts of wall-jumping are needed to complete the stages, and to make things worse there are 14 red coins to collect in Veneno-Sphere and 20 in Crudelo-Sphere. This hack definitely lives up to its name.

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