After the release of Super Mario Bros., the fireball-shooting, Goomba-stomping, brick-breaking plumber instantly became the most famous character in all gaming.
Living in a world where technology keeps evolving with motion controls and VR, how has Nintendo's moustachioed mascot maintained his reputation after nearly 40 years?
It's not just because of the catchy music and cute Tanooki suits. Super Mario's secret weapon is the level design. Even though we have masterful games like Breath of the Wild and The Last of Us filled to the brim with creativity and innovation, the opening stage of Super Mario Bros. is still the most famous video game level of all time.
But after Nintendo created thousands of Mario courses over the years, a handful have garnered a legacy for being a bit rubbish. I'm not talking about frustrating stages like Super Mario World's Tubular or Super Mario 3D World's Champion's Road. These courses aren't poorly made; they're designed to test die-hard gamers.
When a stage is tricky because it requires precision and timing, that's fine. When a stage is hard because it has imprecise controls or unfair mechanics, that's bad level design. Let's have a look at the absolute worst Super Mario levels that Nintendo has ever made.
10. Loopdeeswoop Galaxy - Super Mario Galaxy
Super Mario Bros. was revolutionary for its time because of the precision of the controls. Players could control how far or how high they wanted Mario to jump based on how hard they pressed the buttons. This may be a universal concept nowadays, but it was a rare mechanic for its time.
Because this is how the franchise earned its reputation, it's a pity when Mario games suffer from imprecise controls. In the Loopdeeswoop Galaxy in Super Mario Galaxy, the title character needs to ride a manta ray through a gravity-defying river.
Mario Galaxy may boast exquisite gameplay and fluid controls, but the ray in this level is very stiff to manoeuvre. Sometimes, you tilt all the way to one side and the ray barely moves. Other times, you rotate slightly, causing the manta to fly off the course. More often than not, you will be falling to your demise, due to the janky controls rather than sloppy gameplay.
If you think you can get around this by taking your time, guess again. You have to complete the course within a time-limit. The countdown forces you to rush through the level, which is unfair when the controls work against you.