The Video Game Level Hall of Fame

Levels are the staples of most video games, new and old. Throughout my life, there are video game levels that are so iconic that they have left a permanent imprint on who I am as a gamer. Whether it’s the challenge, the design, the music or the sheer fun factor, the best video game levels manage to be both memorable and entertaining, thrilling gamers for hours on end.

In this new regular feature, The Video Game Level Hall of Fame, we induct a few of our favorite video game levels of all time to an ongoing list. Since there are too many awesome levels from video games past to include, we thought that would be a good way to handle it.

So, here are the first five video game level inductees into our Hall of Fame, in no particular order.


Sonic the Hedgehog 2: Casino Nights Zone


While any number of levels from the Sega Genesis Sonic titles could be included, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 had some of the more memorable ones. In particular, the Casino Nights Zone really sticks out in my mind as the most fun level to play in this great, great game. For a 16-bit entry, it was rich with colors that you didn’t always see in gaming, and the music really set the casino mood for the whole zone. Combining the speed of the Sonic games with a setting that allowed you to bounce around like a pinball really paid off, and stands out to me as one of the better side-scrolling levels ever made.


Halo: Combat Evolved: The Maw


Once again, great games tend to have multiple great levels, but The Maw is a really special one in the first Halo game, and the whole series in general. One of the things that made Halo such a unique FPS for its time was the vehicle physics, which up to that point had only been tackled with mixed success in previous attempts. To end an epic first person shooter with a ridiculous driving sequence was not only ballsy, it was cool as hell. Driving away from the explosions and through the Pillar of Autumn was a remarkable sequence, and set a new standard for FPS games in terms of vehicles.


Elite Beat Agents: You’re the Inspiration


I know, it sounds kind of crazy that a Chicago song in a handheld game would make it into the Video Game Level Hall of Fame, but don’t knock it until you’ve experienced this heart-touching stage for yourself. Elite Beat Agents is a DS music game that has you touching the stylus to the screen with the beat of the song. The Agents are trying to help people out as you do this in (typically) hilarious cut scenes.

However, this song features a little girl whose father has passed away. While her and her mother deal with this loss, you as the player are to make sure their memories are happy. Every time you fail, you feel like total crap as the two cry and miss this man that meant so much to them. It really is pretty gut-wrenching, but is incredibly rewarding when you complete the song and see them watching the father walk off into heaven. Check the video out if none of that made any sense.


Link to the Past: Link’s Uncle


The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past is arguably one of the best games of all time, and it’s intro is completely befitting of a game of that caliber. The game starts with Link awakening in his bedroom, and his uncle leaves on a mysterious errand. Once you choose to follow him, you wander through a village during a stormy night.

After some exploration, you fall into the sewers and find your dying uncle, who bestows you with the sword and shield that will guide you through the game. What follows is a battle in the wind and rain, which for that time were unbelievable graphically, and running through the castle’s dungeons in order to find the princess. It’s an epic start to the game, and one of the best openings of all time, as well.


Call of Duty 4: All Ghillied Up / One Shot One Kill


If you’ve played Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, you totally know what “the sniper level” is. As the game sends you back 15 years, you find yourself in a ghillie suit in the heart of enemy territory, darting to cover silently and taking soldiers out with the utmost skill. The mood in this level is simply stunning, and I remember holding my breath while running through open areas, getting around enemy strongholds as you move closer and closer to the goal.

Eventually, it culminates in a couple of heart-pounding moments, including a group of tanks rolling past you, taking sentries out in tandem, and assassinating someone from nearly a mile away. It’s honestly one of the best levels of a video game I’ve ever experienced, and might even be the best of this generation.


So there you have it, our first inductees into the Video Game Level Hall of Fame. Have you guys played the levels on this list? What are some of your favorite video game levels for future consideration? Go!

Written by

I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

31 thoughts on “The Video Game Level Hall of Fame”

  1. Carnival Night from Sonic 3
    Tick-Tock-Wood level from Banjo-Kazooie.
    Bank from Splinter Cell:Chaos Theory.
    Police Station from Resident evil 2.
    Dam from Golden Eye.
    Air Force One from Perfect Dark.
    Ghost Ship from Star Wars: Republic Commando.
    Site Zero from Break Down.

  2. Casino Nights was awesome. I loved the intro to A Link to the Past, it felt like I was totally immersed in the world.

    But Super Mario Bros World 1-1??? Where is it?

  3. Played Zelda a Link to the Past and honestly, I don’t feel that the part where you meet your uncle is that epic or memorable because everything is so fast paced and you don’t have a clue of what’s going on in that part of the game. It’s like “wheres mah swords?! oh hai uncle thanks 4 teh sword bye bye”.

  4. All Ghillied Up / One Shot One Kill are, in my opinion, THE best levels ever. They are what COD5 lacked: Good levels. IW really did a great job with those. Also The Maw kicked ass. I’ve never played EBA, but a similar music game I loved was Gitaroo Man. I don’t know how how many of you have heard of it (it sold very poorly here in the UK) but the last two levels were great. The music was fantastic and the story was heartwarming.

  5. Sorry for the double post, had stuff to do (eat dinner). Other faves include the Dam from Goldeneye 007, Act 4 of MGS4, Mardi Gras in Hitman Blood Money both from a technical standpoint and because your targets were dressed as birds and in Assassinโ€™s Creed when you chase the archer from the warehouse through the busy street. I loved that one as the route he followed gave you a perfect series of points to jump across, swing from or climb just for you to land on your target in the most stylish way possible, *SHWING-SQUELCH*.

  6. Yeah, Goldeneye definitely has some things for consideration for a future list. Also, the level in Gitaroo Man when he’s at a carnival or something, I think, has one of the coolest songs ever.

  7. In shadow of the colossus when u have to fight the colossus with the giant stone sword

  8. [quote comment=”6452″]Ghost Ship from Star Wars: Republic Commando.

    I really have to agree with that. SW:RepCom was my first Squad-Based Tactical Shooter that I’ve ever played. It was absolutely great! If anything, it should remade for the 360 so I can get me some Achievements. But truly, I love that game.

  9. In Half-Life 2, the level where you get the Zero-Point Energy Field Manipulator and play catch with Dog. It’s so awesome when you play it for the first time. Also, try to score a basket with the rollermine. I dare you, I double-dare you! ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. As i got to #4, I immediately thought… hey, why isn’t All Ghillied Up/One Shot One Kill from CoD4 on this list? Seeing where the list was headed I almost worried if it was maybe a little out of it’s league, then BAM lol #5!

    It’s definitely an experience I’d never expect from a CoD game. Epik pwnage IW!

  11. Man, nearly every level of Half Life 2 could be on one of these lists. Maybe there will be a Half Life edition of the Hall of Fame.

  12. I played the GBA version of Sonic 2, and Casino Night was one of my favorite levels, too! The colors, the speed, the lulz; it was a true Sonic zone.

    The Maw was just pure fun. Nothing measures up to outrunning explosions, hordes of flood, and doomed grunts in a Warthog, the symbol of incredible vehicle controls. I played the Maw at least two dozen times, probably more. I also liked that they went with a similar level design for Halo, the last mission in Halo 3. That brought back so many memories when I played that the first time.

    I never played Elite Beat Agents, but my friend who did get it said it was an awesome game. I’m just not into rhythm games I suppose (because I suckzorz) but it looks fun.

    Link to the Past with its rain, wind, combat, and story blew me away, and it was pure awesome the whole way through; start to finish, man.

    Definitely the best mission in CoD4, easily the best of the series, probably the best of the year, arguably the best of the genre. I didn’t replay All Ghillied Up and One Shot One Kill more than a couple times, but that was simply because I had finally completed the levels of Veteran and then wanted to finish up the prestige in multiplayer. Anyway, All Ghillied Up was pure fun since you had to remain…very…still… as the tanks rolled past, inches away from pwnin’ your ear. That was intense the first time I played it. My eyes were wide-open with fear, my hands got sweaty, my heart was beating like crazy, and I had to remind myself how to breathe.
    But it got even better in One Shot, One Kill. I replayed the assassination portion a dozen times, although I rarely continued the mission because it was so friggin’ hard! I did, however, get good and lucky enough and completed both levels on Veteran, and I was thoroughly ecstatic with my accomplishment. I got the “Booh-Dink” and everything, and was as happy as I was when I finished LoZOoT.
    So that’s why CoD4 was so awesome.

  13. Have to agree with the COD 4 level, i’ll never forget how much my friends and I talked about it.

    What I want to know is where is the Hotel level from Hitman!! The first Hitman… I cant remember how many times I played that level, with the console open, manituplating time and having a full arsenal..

    And yes eddy, every level from HL2 belongs in here. I’ll never forget jumping off the trains early in the game when you just have the pistol / meet the combine, and that super sick bass starts playing. I remember thinking “wtf, Music in half-life?”. Lets just say I got super pumped up.

  14. (forgive double, cossacks post wasn’t up when I posted)

    [quote comment=”6474″]
    Anyway, All Ghillied Up was pure fun since you had to remain…very…still… as the tanks rolled past, inches away from pwnin’ your ear. That was intense the first time I played it.[/quote]

    You know the part where you’re in the metal crate and he says “on my go” and you whip open the doors and sprint to the line of vehicles and crawl underneath? You can actualy knife 2 or 3 of the guys on your way and no one notices, its pretty awesome =).

    sorry had to share.

  15. SOCOM 2: Crossroads

    Halo CE: Assault on the Control Room

    Shadow of the Colossus- Boss battles…seriously

    Starfox 64: First Level

    SuperSmash Bros.: Corneria

  16. @Jules: I was surprised to hear music in HL2 as well, considering I hadn’t heard any when I played through HL1. You know why? To get the music to play in HL1 on non-Steam copies, you had to have the CD in the drive. Otherwise the game just had no music. The copy you can play on Steam has all the music in it without having to have a CD in your drive.

  17. [quote comment=”6469″]Man, nearly every level of Half Life 2 could be on one of these lists. Maybe there will be a Half Life edition of the Hall of Fame.[/quote]

    ’nuff said.

    (Eddy, if yiu ever need anything Half-Life related, count me in, i’d love to help)

  18. [quote comment=”6477″]Halo CE: Assault on the Control Room[/quote]

    I absolutely HATED that level. Took me forever to finish. If anything it’s either Pillar Of Atumn or 343 Guilty Spark.

    The PoA is just cool becuase like the first level in every game, it sets the story, and it did that AWESOMELY!

    And 343 Guilty Spark is cool becuase there’s this sense of OSHI-! Something’s gonna jump out at me! Something’s gonna jump out at me! Something’s gonna jump out at me! Oh my GOD something jumped out at me! Boom! Hey, the SHOTGUN RULES!

  19. my votes go to
    – forest temple – legend of zelda OoT
    – anti-citizen one – half life 2
    – the leviathan – kotor
    – gobi’s valley – banjo kazooie
    – tick tock clock – super mario 64

  20. The Maw is definitely probably one of the best levels in the whole Halo franchise. If we’re counting the cutscenes along with the gameplay, then hell yeah. The Chief crashing the Banshee, and climbing into the hull of the ship, and of course how awesome it was just to see him silently tossing a grenade up and down in his hand. While Halo on Halo 3 was a good homage, it could not outdo the original.

    Has no one stated Dark Energy of Half-Life 2? Awesome level! It’s like a kid playing with an awesome new toy!

    And definitely Hailfire Peak from Banjo Tooie

  21. Maybe next you can create a list of top 5 video game levels that make us cringe in pain the most.
    You know? The ones that people have nightmares about the following day…?

  22. Have everyone forgotten about Anomalous Materials and Unforseen Circumstances from the original Half-Life?

    Those 2 levels succesfully set the mood for one of the best FPS’ ever.

  23. [quote comment=”6488″]Maybe next you can create a list of top 5 video game levels that make us cringe in pain the most.
    You know? The ones that people have nightmares about the following day…?[/quote]

    The Library from Halo 1 and Cortana from Halo 3 are two that would be on that list.

  24. Final hours of Mass Effect. You know once you hit the jump to Ilos, you’re about to experience something like know other. It kicks off with the sex scene (lol Fox News) and ends with one of the coolest cutscenes in a videogame. Not to mention awesome gameplay and some great story. Oh and BTW, where is the original Halo’s Library level? /sarcasm.

  25. Well, pretty much every Valve’s game has levels that will blow your mind.
    HL2. You wake up, talk to people, and pretty much the next thing you do is running away from about 5 cp’s on the roof. I could go on for hours.

    Portal- every level. The firs ones are really designed so the game feels easy all along. Have you ever tried to start Portal with like the 15 chamber ?

  26. “Follow Freeman!” from Half-Life 2. Posting in the greatest games you’ve never played article made me think of this level, and how great it was. Just thought I should post it here as well.

  27. My favourites? Tough to say… But I’ll hazard these…

    007 Goldeneye – The Facility
    Super Mario 64 – Tall, Tall Mountain (That stupid monkey)
    Any level from Banjo-Kazooie or Tooie
    SSBM – Flat Zone!!!
    LoZ:OoT – Shadow Temple

    and that’s all.

  28. Bob-Omb Battlefield really sticks out to me, if not for awesome music alone. It was one of the first levels I did on my cousin’s N64 when I was about 6, and that chain chomp friggin terrified me. Now, I see it as an awesome level that you can have a lot of fun just running around on. Plus, its one of the few levels that allows you to Koopa Shell Surf. ๐Ÿ˜€

    There’s also in awesome stage in Croc 2 on the original Playstation that had you running around chasing a train on the tracks, weaving through caves and around Mountains, with a pit to your right and falling rocks helping you to your death, and at the end, you had to quickly flip a switch that would cause the train to divert its path into a wall. Otherwise, you had to start the level over.

  29. [quote comment=”6514″]My favourites? Tough to say… But I’ll hazard these…

    007 Goldeneye – The Facility
    Super Mario 64 – Tall, Tall Mountain (That stupid monkey)
    Any level from Banjo-Kazooie or Tooie
    SSBM – Flat Zone!!!
    LoZ:OoT – Shadow Temple

    and that’s all.[/quote]

    Flat zone! I laughed at that one haha. Hmm. I’d have to agree with the Banjo and Kazooies. I remember first getting a VHS tape promoting that game in the mail. I think I still have it somewhere, actually..technically every boss battle in S.o.T.C. was kind of like a level, no? The parts where you were on the birds and under water more than constitute as epic, and were amazing, especially the first time you played them.

  30. [quote comment=”6469″]Man, nearly every level of Half Life 2 could be on one of these lists. Maybe there will be a Half Life edition of the Hall of Fame.[/quote]


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