What are the best water levels you have ever played?

Maybe you think Ocarina Of Time’s Temple Of Time is the best water level ever. It’s probably the hardest. And it’s definitely one of the most memorable.

But what about Rayman Origin’s Sea Of Tranquility? It’s a gorgeous looking level with some of the best gameplay ever seen in a platform game.

Or. I know. What about Koopa Tropper Beach from Mario Kart 64? Do you remember that one?



Through the decades water levels have been one of the most memorable types of levels in games. Some games have got it terribly wrong, like the water level in TMNT The Arcade Game. In that game you will drown if you misplace a single breaststroke. and what about the water level in the first Sonic  The Hedgehog? My God what a nightmare that was.


You don’t need a degree in game design to know that water levels are one of the hardest levels to create. Many game developers have failed horribly. And the average water level is a pain in the butt. That’s why , any time you get to a good water level it really impresses you. Just think about when you played Coral Capers in Donkey Kong Country. Stunning.

So here is to all the game designers who have done the impossible and made a truly great water level. Raise your glass to these guys.


The Best Water Levels of All Time

9: Koopa Trooper Beach (Mario Kart 64)

Mario Kart 64 is a timeless game that will bring a tear to the eyes of older gamers and will thrill younger gamers, even now, the first time they play the game. Mario Kart 64 was one of the most fun multiplayer games of all time. The Battle Mode was a laugh, but the real gem was racing in four-player mode.

There are many amazing tracks in Mario Kart 64, among the best being Mario Stadium, Wario Stadium, Rainbow Road (the jump was epic) and this excellent course, Koopa Trooper Beach.

Part of made Mario 64 epic was the jumps. You could be in last place and make the right jump to get yourself into first place and win the race. That meant that the game was constantly exciting. One of the best jumps was found in Koopa Trooper beach.

Though Mario Kart 64’s Koopa Trooper beach jump was easy, what made it fun was the fact that if you had  a red shell you could stop your opponent from making the jump, thus totally wrecking their race.

The blue shell you got from the long ramp was also a nice touch

Check out the Mario Kart 64 Koopa Trooper Beach world record

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8: The Water Temple (The Legend Of Zelda: The Ocarina Of Time)

The water temple in The Legend of Zelda The Ocarina of Time is one of the most famous levels in any game. Most gamers will remember it for its difficulty. The water temple required you to use the Iron Boots and the Hook Shot to traverse the level, while constantly changing the levels of the water to access different areas.

Completing Ocarina of Time’s water temple would take at least an hour (though, if you’re not very good at puzzles, probably longer).  And once you get to the end of the temple you face one of Ocarina of Time’s best boss fights: Dark Link. Dark Link was one tough fight and he only got tougher as the fight progressed. Worse, Dark Link reacts to your moves, making it feel like you’re fighting a mirror. You’re going to need tons of potions in order to beat Dark Link!

What made the water temple so amazing, however, wasn’t it’s difficulty but its creativity. It was one of the most unique temples and made you have to think in creative ways to solve its puzzles.


7: Hydrus: Shadow Of The Collosus

Shadow of the Colossus is one of the most loved games of all time. In it you find yourself lost in a giant world with sixteen huge bosses to battle, of which one of the best is Hydrus.

What makes Shadow of the Colossus such an amazing game is the sense of freedom and exploration. you find yourself lost in a giant field with nothing to do but ride to the next colossi and fight. In any other game that might sound boring, but Shadow of the Colossus has such an amazing atmosphere that you’ll love freely riding about. The music is stunning too.

All of Shadow of the Colossus’s bosses have their own strengths and styles. Hydrus’ is about water. The fight begins inside the water versus Hydrus, the 70 foot monster. To defeat Hydrus you need to dive down deep and grab Hydrus’ tail. Hydrus then dives underneath and above the water as you try to run and stab the spikes of electricity on the monster’s back.  The battle feels absolutely amazing, with Hydrus being one of the best bosses in Shadow of the Colossus.

 6: Hydro City (Sonic The Hedgehog)

Sonic the Hedgehog’s Hydro City is one of the best level designs in any Sonic game.

Hydro City features two acts, of which the second is probably the better. It’s also the only level in Sonic 3 with air bubbles. 

In Act One, you land in a massive water pool and have to navigate around pits, enemies and spikes, like in most Sonic levels, but it’s harder because of the water mechanics.

Some areas of the level allow you to gather speed so you can race right through the zone if you have the skill. There are breakable walls that lead to jets of water that push you forwards.

In Act 2 a wall on the left hand side of the screen constantly pushes forward, meaning you have to race. This makes the level very hard, especially as you have to take oxygen into account.

Take a look at one of the best levels in Sonic 3 with this video.


5: Jolly Roger’s Lagoon (Banjo Kazooie)

Banjo Kazooie and Banjo Tooie are two of the best games for N64 and pioneers of the 3D platformer genre. Some people even argue that Banjo Kazooie is better than Super Mario 64, though that’s open to debate.

Jolly Roger’s Lagoon is the fourth level of Banjo Tooie and is a tourist resort that’s fun for all the family. Mayor of Jolly Roger’s Lagoon is, of course, Jolly Roger, a flambouyant character whose friend has gone missing. It’s up to Banjo and Kazooie to find her.

Jolly Roger’s Lagoon is  a beautiful level with excellent music and some really funny characters. It’s also fairly difficult but never frustratingly so. This level–and Banjo Tooie in general–should remind us all of how amazing video game developer Rare were in their heyday.

 4: Bubble Man Stage (MegaMan 2)

MegaMan 2 is one of the best NES games and while Bubble Man is not the best Robot Master, he still makes for a great water level.

Bubble Man’s stage begins with you leaving Bubble Man’s fortress, which happens to be near a waterfall. Shortly you enter the water part of the level where the physics completely change, Mega Man jumping twice as high. Okay, so that doesn’t seem amazing today, but it  did at the time!


3: Down The tubes (Earthworm Jim)

Earthworm Jim was one of the most original SNES games and it had one of the best underwater levels ever.

Earthworm Jim is genius just in its design. At a time when animal character were all the rage, with Banjo the bear, Kazooie the bird, Aero the Acrobat, Sonic the Hedgehog and so on, Shiny Entertainment parodied every platformer by making a game about an Earthworm.

Earthworm Jim was one hell of a character, the cross between a worm and an intelligent and powerful suit of armour, he was definitely. . . different. Down the Tubes was one of the best levels from the game. In it you begin exploring a bunch of underwater tubes, then gain access to a tiny submarine-type vehicle so you can enter the sea.

There are tons of great monsters under the sea, too, some of which can be killed with guns, others that you need to hide from. Though this level isn’t quite as good as the bungie jumping level, it’s still one of the best underwater levels in games.

2: Coral Capers (Donkey Kong Country)

Donkey Kong Country was a SNES game far ahead of its time, with great level design, including the awesome Coral Capers


The fourth level in Donkey Kong Country, Coral Capers is the first underwater level in the game. It’s easy, but looks absolutely beautiful, with some of the greatest graphics game developer RARE ever accomplished.

Coral Capers is a clam and relaxing levels with mellow music that makes you truly feel like your relaxing in a beautiful see. . . until you get hit by an urchin.  You even get to swim around on your friend swordfish.

At the time of Donkey Kong Country’s release for SNES, very few games evoked the same sense of relaxation and calm that this level achieved.  If you played the game at the time, you can probably still remember that beautiful music today.

1: Sea Of Serendipity (Rayman Origins)

Our choice for the best water level ever: Rayman Origins’ Sea of Serendipity.

So, what makes Rayman Origins’ Sea of Serendipity so good? Well, to start off with, Raymen origins is awesome, being like a wacky version of Super Mario World. It’s a truly colourful gaming experience; not only in the sense that it’s bright, but that’s its creative, unique and a whole lot of fun too.

The background in Rayman Origins’ really stand out of the screen, the animations of the characters are extremely smooth and expressive, and it’s got awesome level design.

Sea of Serendipity is like a culmination of all the best aspects of water levels. The swimming itself is extremely playable with great controls, you’re also able to stay still in place with pushing a button, meaning you can chill out a take a breather.

The level starts in a shanty town when you’re attacked by pirates and must escape through a sea cave. Here you get to see the beautiful marine life. You deeper you dive the darker it gets  until you reach pitch black. To be able to see and to avoid monsters you need to follow glowfish  until you reach an opening from where you get a view of the entire ocean.

With amazing music, beautiful graphics, and unique and masterful level design, Rayman Origins’ Sea of Serendipity is the best water level of any game ever.

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Paul Harrison

Paul M Harrison is an entertainment journalist, novelist, and blogger, and a specialist in the theory of storytelling. Paul Harrison can be contacted via his personal website or on Twitter or Facebook.


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