If the very existence of Super Mario Maker has taught us anything, it’s those beautifully brilliant 2D Mario levels we indulged in growing up are easy to pick up and design, but definitely fun to master. No matter how limited the quest to run from left to right might initially seem, throughout the years the fine folks at Nintendo have treated us to some absolute gems of 2D Mario levels and such we thought we’d look back at some of the most memorable stages everyone’s favorite plumber has been tasked to overcome.
You won’t find any 3D platforming stages here, that is for another list! Whether through testing our skill, timing or simply by introducing a masterful new art-style we simply didn’t see coming, these are the 10 best 2D Mario Levels we all took pride in completing:
World 1- Castle “Iggy Koopa” (Super Mario World)
When saddling up to the very first castle in SNES classic Super Mario World, needless to say we had no idea what would be waiting for us. It wasn’t too long before we realized that the rule book had been thrown out of the window, requiring players to not only avoid Koopas, shells and fire but immediately shuffle themselves across metal caging, only to be greeted by a gigantic stomping pillar.
The level’s low and bass-like music only served to add to Iggy Koopa’s overall sense of dread, bringing an immediacy that made us want to get fresh outta that castle as soon as humanly possible, back into the safety of the mushroom kingdom.
World 5-3 (Super Mario Bros. 3)
Sometimes you literally just have to kick back and let nature take its course. This we learned from the third level of Super Mario Bros.’ fifth world as Mario literally found himself giving the usual platforming format the boot, dancing atop of dangerous spikes as he does so. What’s even more amazing is that this entire level is missable, specifically for those that fancy themselves a more fortress-like level.
Once entering Kuribo’s shoe you’ll be able to break and crack almost any object standing in your way, making this level a great one for players wanting to finally let loose and really stick it to those pesky enemies, in style of course!
World 6-6 (New Super Mario Bros. Wii)
New Super Mario Bros Wii on the Wii helped introduce a wild new sense of play style thanks to the introduction of frantic four player co-op, but it’s really in World 6-6 where this element of trust and teamwork is truly put to the test. This level sees players ride a raft through a dimly lit cave of darkness as you constantly need to avoid a series of obstacles that threaten to knock you off at any moment.
The beauty of this comes from the fact that you choose where in the level the little light shines, letting you reveal secrets that you might otherwise miss on the way. It’s not all just about jumping ya know!
World 1-1 (Super Mario Bros.)
We couldn’t very much complete this list without mentioning the one that started it all now could we? World 1-1 in the original NES Super Mario Bros. effectively set the template that all other 2D side-scrolling levels would strive to replicate, being a masterstroke in game design that immediately teaches the player how to jump, run and avoid enemies all within the first 10 seconds.
World 2-3 (Super Mario Bros.)
Continuing on with the brilliance of the franchise’s original entry, Super Mario Bros.’ third level of the second world took us high up into the skies of the mushroom kingdom as we traversed a near endless segmented bridge. This level is all about survival, tasking you to avoid all of the flying cheep-cheeps as if your life depends on it in a brief yet all too frantic manner.