Nintendo’s Super Mario is the undisputed king of platforming games. Whether it’s 2-D or 3-D, the series has hundreds of levels to its name, with many of them unique in their own special way.
However, not all levels are created equal. There are short ones, lengthy ones, and some set in the most unexpected of locations. Many Mario courses are fairly easy to complete, but some prove to be quite the challenge. These Mario levels are among the hardest in the series and may give some veteran Mario players bad memories.
10 Grandmaster Galaxy (Super Mario Galaxy 2)
It’s clear that platforming is the name of the game in Grandmaster Galaxy, as this final level has moving platforms and gravity wells galore. If that isn’t enough, the bounty of pitfalls and lasers will certainly keep Mario busy. From doing Yoshi swings with the Wiimote to completing a maze while jumping on clouds, this challenge will throw everything at the player.
Grandmaster Galaxy also comes with a Daredevil Run, where one has to make it to the end without taking any damage. Only one hit point is allotted, and the lack of checkpoints forbids you from saving your progress.
9 Champion’s Road (Super Mario 3D World)
Undeniably the hardest level in Super Mario 3D World, Champion’s Road is absent of both checkpoints AND power-ups. Players have to be absolutely perfect to beat this level while navigating through teleporting blocks, swinging spikes, difficult platform sections, and other obstacles to reach the end.
Timing is key, as the plethora of obstacles and enemies are enough to keep Mario moving. And if one wanted to truly beat 3D World, they would have to beat Champion’s Road with all five playable characters, as if the part of unlocking the level itself (completing every level with all five characters) wasn’t hard enough.
8 7-Castle (New Super Mario Bros. DS)
Much of World 7-Castle is dominated by Snake Blocks, which Mario has to stay on to avoid falling to his death. Many enemies stand in his way, including Amps, Thwomps, and Ball ‘N’ Chains. With a healthy amount of platforming skill, the player can get past these enemies and obstacles without a hitch.
And if that doesn’t sound hard enough, World 7-Castle also comes with a boss at the end in the Lakithunder. This Lakitu throws Spinies just like any other Lakitu but also rides on a storm cloud that shoots lightning at Mario.
7 World 9-7 (New Super Mario Bros. Wii)
World 9-7 is famous for one thing – the entire ground of the stage is smothered with ice blocks. Inside these blocks of ice are Munchers, invincible enemies that are revealed when the ice thaws out. At least 400 Muncher blocks litter this infamous level.
On top of that, there are Fire Piranha Plants at every corner, spitting fireballs that thaw out the Muncher blocks if they come in contact. The only way to defeat these plants is by pelting them fireballs – which only releases more Munchers from their icy prison.
6 8-Airship (Super Mario Bros. 3)
Autoscrollers are a pretty common thing in Mario, and this one is easily the most notorious of the bunch. World 8-Airship moves awfully fast for an auto-scrolling level, keeping Mario constantly moving, and the small platforms make the jumps rather tricky.
On top of that, the player has to watch out for the flames and cannonballs, as well as the Rocket Wrenches that will fill the screen by tossing their wrenches. Coupled with the daunting, apprehensive music and stormy atmosphere, World-8 Airship is not exactly a pleasant experience for any Mario fan. (Unless they come equipped with a Raccoon Leaf, that is.)
5 World 5-1 (Super Mario Bros. 2)
As the Princess, beating World 5-1 is no problem. Playing as anyone else, however, can prove to be quite the headache. The player has to travel up a large waterfall, hopping on falling logs and Trouters to progress. At the end of the level, there’s a boss fight with a green Birdo who will spit fireballs rather than eggs.
Those who wish to challenge themselves can try to beat the level as Toad, who is doomed by his short, weak jumps. Otherwise, they can play as either Luigi or the Princess and just move from platform to platform with no trouble.
4 World C-3 (Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels)
This level is so hard, it was even held back from the Western release for Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels – which is already a very hard game to beat. World C-3 comes with springs that send Mario high above the screen, making it hard to see where the plumber would land with the landing spot out of view after the jump.
In essence, the player has to make constant leaps of faith to navigate through the level, with gusts of stormy wind messing up their trajectory and landing spot. A Lakitu throwing Spinies will also fly through the sky on his cloud, obstructing Mario’s path if he isn’t defeated early on.
3 Pachinko Machine (Super Mario Sunshine)
Super Mario Sunshine is no stranger to hard levels, with some stressful enough to make one pull their hair out. Sunshine’s Pachinko game, while unique for a Mario level, is also infamous for being the hardest level to beat in the game.
To move through the pachinko board, which consists of a maze with giant pegs and blocks, Mario has to rely on his F.L.U.D.D. to maneuver upwards. The launcher makes landing difficult, and attempting to collect all eight red coins can prove to be quite the hassle. Sunshine’s camera controls only exacerbate the problem.
2 Darker Side Kingdom (Super Mario Odyssey)
Super Mario Odyssey offers one final challenge at the end, in the Darker Side Kingdom. It’s a daunting gauntlet full of obstacles, moving platforms, lava, and enemies, with Mario having to make the most of every creature to capture along the way. This kingdom is completely devoid of checkpoints, so one bad move could bring you back to the start.
At the start, there is a Heart that doubles your health. However, there’s really no point in taking it given that there’s instant death at every step of the way. A whole lot of precision and even patience is required in order to clear this challenge.
1 The Impossible Pack (New Super Mario Bros. 2)
Coming in a pack of DLC courses, The Impossible Pack definitely lives up to its name. It’s a trio of stages – the first one on a beach, the second being lava-themed, and the last one a castle with a poisonous lake. And each one comes with its fair share of problems for Mario, with lava, spikes, and pitfalls.
All three levels have no coins or power-ups, and the time limit will give players a strong sense of urgency. Flawless precision is necessary to beat these three levels, as one mistake or hint of hesitation would mean game over.