List of level themes
In the 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. Some levels are mixtures of themes, such as Perilous Pokey Cave in New Super Mario Bros. U being a desert-themed underground level.
This is a grassy world with hills, trees and slopes. This 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, or new powerups. Common enemies here include Goombas and Koopa Troopas. 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.
This theme takes place underground, with stone or occasionally icy floors. A common archetype for this level are Piranha Plants that come out of pipes, Buzzy Beetles walking on the ceiling, or bottomless pits, so the player should time their jumps to get across. A different kind of underground level includes a mine or sewer, with water or poison to get across.
This theme takes place in the sky, typically with many clouds and pipes. Common enemies here include Piranha Plants, Koopa Paratroopas or occasionally Lakitus, Flame Chomps or cloud-based enemies. Mushroom platforms are very common in these levels, as are autoscroller segments. Sometimes, Mario has to ride a moving platform across the sky.
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 the player must face. Towers are always vertical scrolling, while castles and fortresses are usually horizontal scrolling. Thwomps, Whomps, Dry Bones, lava, and Lava Bubbles are very common here. Castles are typically varied, featuring Snake Blocks, Spinners, pendulum platforms, or moving ledges. Bosses, including Bowser Jr., the Koopalings and Boom Boom, are normally fought at the end 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.
This level theme often features quicksand that slows down and sucks in the player, palm trees to jump on and pyramid ruins. Tornados, Pokeys and Lakitus with Spinys are common obstacles faced in these levels. Bottomless pits and blocks are also fairly common here. 3D games typically feature temples and caves for the player to explore.
This level theme takes place underwater, featuring many underwater enemies such as Cheep Cheeps, Bloopers, eel enemies and Urchins. Strong currents and autoscrolling make navigating these levels difficult. The player is often given a limited air gauge in 3D games. This theme often overlaps with the underground theme. Autoscrolling in the 2D games is common.
This level theme takes place on beaches or the coastline, with water submerging the bottom of the level. There are palm trees on the islands on top of the water. Unlike underwater levels, beach levels offer the option to travel above or below water. Crab enemies, Porcupuffers, and Urchins are common here. Sometimes, there are Cheep Cheeps that jump in and out of the water. Beach levels are often found near underwater levels, and so the level themes often overlap.
This level theme features ghosts, such as Boos, Peepas or Broozers. Pumpkin and spider enemies such as Splunkins and Scuttlebugs are also fairly common. This level type usually takes place in a Ghost House, often rife with ghosts, full of unusual objects such as fake doors and possessed objects. However, this theme can also take place in a spooky forest with dead trees or even underwater. These levels often feature maze-like navigation.
This level theme takes place in a jungle with poisonous swamp water, vines to swing off of, and exotic enemies like Wigglers, Piranha Plants, and Shy Guys. Forests and jungles often require the player to work out a strategy to get across the swamp, such as riding Dorrie to get across. Forest levels in 3D games often feature treetops and jumping skills.
This level theme features slippery ice that hinders the player's movement, as well as snow-themed enemies such as penguins and snowmen. Another common feature of these levels are icicles which fall from the ceiling, stopping the player from crossing safely. In 3D games, skating across ice is an option. Sometimes ice levels overlap with the volcano theme, such as in Freezeflame Galaxy and Shiverburn Galaxy.
Mountain and rock themed levels typically feature Monty Moles, Bullet Bills, Chain Chomps, and 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 Firebars. In 3D games, mountainous levels require exploration to reach the very top of the level.
Volcanic and lava-filled levels are typically later levels faced in the games. They feature lava and debris falling from the sky, and often swarm with some of Bowser's stronger minions. Lava creatures such as Blarrgs, Koopa Troopas, Hammer Bros. and Lava Bubbles are very common here. As lava levels are faced later in the series, they are generally the hardest levels in the game. The underground theme is a common overlap here. Bowser's castles are also full of lava.
Space levels are rarer levels within the Mario series, as they rarely appear outside of the Galaxy games. Space levels often feature gravity which affects jumping, and planets which pull the player in. Space levels have some of the most diverse enemy types in the games, as they are often combined with a different level theme, such as the sky theme.
These levels take place on a flying airship, usually built to accommodate some of Bowser's armies. Common enemies here include Rocky Wrenches, Cannons, Bullet Bills, Burners and Mechakoopas. Bosses and allies of Bowser including Bowser Jr., the Koopalings and Boom Boom are fought at the end of these levels. Airships are normally autoscrollers with many obstacles, and are an alternative to castles and towers.