- This article is about the general overview of levels. For a directory of every level, see Category:Levels and its subcategories. For the growth mechanic, see Level up.
Platform games generally have multiple levels (also called courses or stages), which contain obstacles, enemies, items, and the like. Mario, Luigi, or another playable character (or characters) must pass through levels to access more of them and ultimately complete the game. However, some levels may be optional to complete, such as due to a secret method that allows them to be skipped (such as a Warp Zone) or the level itself being a secret.
List of level themes
In the Super Mario franchise and its "cousin" series, such as Wario, Yoshi, and Donkey Kong, there are many different levels, each with different themes. Each theme appears in different games. Themes usually have different elements to challenge the player. Some levels are mixtures of themes, such as Perilous Pokey Cave in New Super Mario Bros. U being a desert-themed underground level. The theme of the level often depends on the world it is placed in. Although most level themes usually take place in the daytime, they can occasionally occur later in the day, such as Night Falls on Really Rolling Hills in Super Mario 3D World, a grassland-themed level taking place at night, or Spiky Mount Beanpole, also from Super Mario 3D World, taking place at sunset. Nighttime-themed levels are also a mechanic in Super Mario Maker 2.
- See also: Category:Grasslands
This theme often features grass, hills, trees, and slopes. It is usually the easiest kind of level theme, as it is normally the first level or world theme encountered in each game. It is common for this level theme to introduce common level features and mechanics, such as jumping, breaking blocks, and new power-ups. Common enemies here include Goombas, Koopa Troopas, Piranha Plants, Hammer Bros, Shy Guys, Spinies, Rexes, and Chargin' Chucks. Bottomless pits are some of the more dangerous features in these levels. This level theme often has secret areas that lead to sky- or underground-themed locations. In 3D games, grassland levels offer more exploration and typically feature an easy boss battle.
- See also: Category:Underground areas
This theme takes place underground and is usually found during the first or second level in the game. Common archetypes for this level are Goombas, Koopa Troopas, Piranha Plants that come out of pipes, Buzzy Beetles walking on the ceiling, Swoops flying towards the player, and bottomless pits. Different kinds of underground levels include sewers/pipe mazes or mines, while other times, these levels might have water or poison to get across. Some underground levels cross over with other themes like the ice, desert, or lava themes. Underground levels usually have an arrangement of the Underground Theme from Super Mario Bros.
- See also: Category:Sky areas
This theme takes place in the sky, typically with many clouds and pipes. Common enemies here include Spinies, Piranha Plants, Paragoombas, Koopa Paratroopas, Lakitus, Biddybuds, Flame Chomps, Fuzzies, Foos, Ninjis, and/or other sky-based enemies. Mushroom Platforms are very common in these levels, as are auto-scroller segments. Sometimes, Mario has to ride a moving platform across the sky. This theme sometimes overlaps with the grass, snow, or desert themes. This theme usually has fast-paced music.
This theme takes place in one of many towers, fortresses, or castles that the Koopa Troop built or conquered. They are typically encountered at the midpoint or end of a world, with Bowser's Castle normally being the last challenge in the game the player must face. Towers are always vertical-scrolling, while castles and fortresses are usually horizontal-scrolling. Enemies such as Whomps, Thwomps, Thwimps, Magikoopas, Dry Bones, Bone Goombas, Bony Beetles, Amps, Sumo Bros, Grrrols, and Lava Bubbles are very common here. Castles are usually lava-themed and have lava for the player to avoid, but other types of castles such as water castles or ice castles can also be found in some titles. Other obstacles found in these levels are also typically varied, featuring Snake Blocks, Spike Balls, Spinners, Skewers, Grinders, Fire Bars, fire- or laser-shooting Bowser Statues, Pendulum Platforms, or moving ledges. Bosses, including Bowser Jr., the Koopalings, and Boom Boom, are normally fought at the ends of these levels. Castles and fortresses are typically the hardest genre of levels in the game, aside from post-game content. In the final castle, Bowser himself is fought.
- See also: Category:Deserts
This theme takes place in a desert and often features quicksand that slows down and sucks in the player, palm trees to jump on, pyramid ruins, and bazaars. The Angry Sun, tornados, Pokeys, Fire Snakes, Spikes, Sand Geysers, and Lakitus with Spinies are common obstacles faced in these levels. Bottomless pits and blocks are also fairly common here. 3D games typically feature pyramid temples for the player to explore.
- See also: Category:Aquatic areas
This level theme takes place underwater, featuring many underwater enemies, such as Cheep Cheeps, Bloopers, Torpedo Teds, Jelectros, Urchins, Mines, Maw-Rays, Sushi, and other enemies depending on the game. The player is often given a limited air gauge in 3D games. This theme sometimes overlaps with the underground theme. Strong currents and auto-scrolling in the 2D games are common and make navigating these levels difficult.
- See also: Category:Beaches
This level theme takes place on beaches, islands, or other types of coastlines, with water often submerging the bottom of the level and palm trees on the islands on top of the water. Unlike underwater levels, beach levels offer the option to travel above or below water. Sometimes, Cheep Cheeps and/or Porcupuffers jump in and out of the water to attack the player, whilst Urchins, Huckit Crabs, Skeeters, and Water Geysers are also common. Beach levels are often found near underwater levels, and so the level themes often overlap.
- See also: Category:Haunted areas
This level theme features ghosts as its main enemies, such as Boos, Peepas, Eeries, and Broozers. Bat, pumpkin, and rat enemies such as Swoops, Splunkins, and Scaredy Rats are also fairly common. This level type usually takes place in a Ghost House, often rife with ghosts and full of unusual objects such as fake doors and/or possessed objects. However, this theme can also take place in a spooky forest with dead trees and Crowbers to dodge or even on haunted shipwrecks with intertwined water mechanics. These levels often feature maze-like navigation and secret exits.
This level theme takes place in a jungle with poisoned water, vines to swing from, and exotic enemies such as Wigglers, Scuttlebugs, and Bramballs. Forests and jungles may require the player to get across a swamp, such as riding Dorrie. Forest levels in 3D games often feature treetops that challenge the characters' jumping skills. In the Donkey Kong Country series, jungle levels typically serve as the beginner stages, similar to grassland levels in the Super Mario series.
- See also: Category:Snowscapes
This level theme features slippery ice that hinders the player's movement, as well as snow-themed enemies such as Cooligans, Snow Spikes, Snow Pokeys, and Mr. Blizzards. Another common feature of these levels is icicles that fall from the ceiling, stopping the player from crossing safely. In 3D games, skating across ice is an option. Sometimes ice levels overlap with other course themes, including the underground theme in Donut Secret 2 from Super Mario World, the jungle theme in World 9-7 from New Super Mario Bros. Wii, or even the volcano theme in Freezeflame Galaxy and Shiverburn Galaxy in the Super Mario Galaxy games.
- See also: Category:Mountains
Mountain, cliffside, and rock-themed levels typically feature Rexes, Ninjis, Fuzzies, Monty Moles, Stone Spikes, Dino Rhinos, Bill Blasters/Bullet Bills, Chain Chomps, and Waddlewings and sometimes have underground segments. Sometimes, it is required to climb on thin ledges on cliffsides to avoid falling to the player's death. Other common obstacles include bottomless pits, Bill Blasters, and Fire Bars. In 3D games, mountainous levels require exploration to reach the very top of the level. This theme sometimes overlaps with the sky theme.
- See also: Category:Volcanic areas
Volcanic and lava-filled levels are typically later levels faced in the games. They feature lava and debris falling from the sky (usually being shot from background volcanoes), and they often swarm with some of Bowser's stronger minions. Lava creatures and enemies such as Blarggs, Bullies, Crowbers, and Lava Bubbles are very common here. As lava levels are faced later in the series, they are generally among the hardest levels in the game. The underground theme is a common overlap here, with these types of levels usually portrayed as taking place inside volcanoes themselves. Bowser's castles usually take place here and are also full of lava.
- See also: Category:Cosmic areas
Space levels are rarer levels within the Super Mario franchise, as they rarely appear outside the Super Mario Galaxy games. Space levels often feature low gravity that affects jumping and planets that pull the player in. Space levels have some of the most diverse enemy types in the games and are often combined with different level themes, such as the sky theme.
- See also: Category:Airship areas
These levels usually take place on a flying airship, usually built to accommodate some of Bowser's armies. Common obstacles and enemies here include Bob-ombs, Rocky Wrenches, Cannons, Bill Blasters/Bullet Bills, Burners, and Mechakoopas. Bosses and allies of Bowser, including Bowser Jr., the Koopalings, and Boom Boom, are fought at the ends of these levels. Airships are normally auto-scrollers with many obstacles, and they are an alternative to castles and towers. Sometimes, the level is based on a different kind of military-based automobile, such as tanks, battleships, and/or military trains.
- See also: Category:Factories
These levels take place in a metal fortress or factory-like area, often featuring Warp Pipes, Conveyor Belts, electrical hazards, and robotic/metal enemies such as Goombeetles, Topmen, Bob-ombs, and Mechakoopas. Factory levels are rare in the mainline Super Mario games, though they often appear in the Donkey Kong Country series.
- See also: Category:Food areas
These levels are composed primarily of giant-sized food, which acts as platforms for Mario to climb on or obstacles that get in Mario's way. Candy and sweets are the most common type of food, as seen in levels such as Sweet Sweet Galaxy from Super Mario Galaxy, Sweet Mystery Galaxy from Super Mario Galaxy 2, Cakewalk Flip from Super Mario 3D World, and Maw-Maw Mouthful from Super Mario Bros. Wonder, though some levels use other types of food. For instance, the Luncheon Kingdom from Super Mario Odyssey is stew-themed, while the Golden Temple from Donkey Kong Country Returns is fruit-themed.
- See also: Category:Pirate areas
These levels take place on a pirate ship or boardwalk with an armada of warships in the background. These usually overlap with common water themes due to their location. Pirates and aquatic enemies are most common here, with cannonballs and bombs being common obstacles. Climbing on masts and ropes are usually the way across these levels. These levels often appear in the Donkey Kong Country and Wario Land series.
Ground theme icon in Super Mario Maker 2
- Eurogamer (August 31, 2023). We Played Super Mario Bros. Wonder - NEW GAMEPLAY AND IMPRESSIONS! Super Mario Bros Wonder Switch. YouTube. Retrieved September 5, 2023.