Mario is one of the most popular characters in the gaming world. Not only is Mario Nintendo’s mascot, but since his debut as Jumpman, he’s been seen in over 200 games. Not only that, but the Mario franchise remains the best-selling video game franchise of all time, beating out Pokemon, Call of Duty, and Grand Theft Auto.
Game designer/producer Shigeru Miyamoto created Mario in 1981. Originally, Miyamoto wanted to create a Popeye game with the famous love triangle featuring Popeye, Bluto, and Olive Oyl. However, he wasn’t able to obtain rights and the game would later become the first Donkey Kong. As Mario ascended throughout history, he established the platform game genre; guiding a character to jump between platforms. The endlessly fun Mario games will have a special place in the heart of (nearly) every gamer. But what most people don’t recall is how bad some of the Mario levels are.
Some Mario games have some uninteresting, mediocre, and boring levels. While other levels, like the Airships on Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario Galaxy’s perfect run, are painful to think about and nightmare inducing for many gamers. That’s why we wanted to make a list.
Here are the 20 absolute worst levels in Super Mario History. While there are plenty more hard levels, these will get you want to toss your controller through the television. Let us know which Super Mario level you find most difficult.
20 Super Mario Land 2: Space Zone
Super Mario Land 2 was one of the first Mario games for Game Boy. It also saw the debut of Wario, along with some awkward levels, like this one. At least, the beautiful music made it somewhat easy to go through this crappy stage.
You can only access the Space Zone through a soap bubble in the Hippo Stage. The problems of this zone start early on when you discover that gravity is messed up. While that allows higher jumps, it also means Mario slows down. You must choose your jumps wisely as the landings are not always as easy as they sound. Plus, as usual, you have to avoid a swarm of enemies while trying to control yourself in an awkward situation.
This level is unnecessarily strange, Mario is hard to navigate, and the spikes don't help, making it a terrible stage.
19 Super Mario Sunshine: Corona Mountain
One of Mario’s final levels to give you a headache is Super Mario Sunshine’s Corona Mountain. The level is tedious, and the boat navigation is annoying.
In this stage, you’ll face things like pits of fire (that have to be sprayed), flaming Cheep Cheeps that jump from the lava, and spikes. Not only that, but once you clear those, you have to navigate a boat across the lava. To steer the ship, you have to spray F.L.U.D.D. in the most awkward ways. It’s oddly challenging, time-consuming, and could easily turn into half an hour trying to get across.
There’s a reason Super Mario Sunshine appears on the list more than once. The game is a great GameCube title, but the silly navigation makes for a horrible level.
18 Super Mario Run
While this is a list detailing the worst Mario levels, the entire Super Mario Run finds its way onto the list. The app is Nintendo's second attempt at the mobile market after Pokemon Go which faced rapid decline. While the app can be fun, it wasn't worth the original $10 price tag.
Super Mario Run is an auto-running game similar to Sonic Dash. While it's initially fun, games like this get boring quick, as all you can do in this scenario is tap to make Mario jump. While games like Flappy Bird force you to save the bird from falling by strategically tapping, Super Mario Run features a continuous running Mario.
While Super Mario Run had some potential, it's flat out annoying. The constant need for an Internet connection is also annoying, as it shouldn't need one.
17 Super Mario Bros.: World 6-3
Super Mario Bros. is the first game in the Super Mario series. The highly influential title assisted in resurrecting games after the economic video game crash of 1983. We will always remember the traditional platformer, but the game's third level in world six is a snooze fest.
The best thing about Super Mario Bros is its ability to be both entertaining and slightly challenging. World 6 3, however, isn't a challenge. The level has one enemy in it, Bullet Bill, an easy enemy to dodge. Other than Bullet Bill, you make a couple jumps in the entire level. One of those jumps is a slow moving platform. However, that's it. The level ends quicker than it starts.
Although this is Nintendo's first Super Mario game, that doesn't make it an excuse to paste a lazily made level towards the end.
16 Super Mario 64: Wing Mario Over the Rainbow
Super Mario 64 was revolutionary. Not only was it the first 3D Mario game, but it was also one of the first two games for the Nintendo 64. And while it had its good intentions, certain levels in the game were challenging in the most uninteresting of ways. Wing Mario Over the Rainbow is one of those levels.
The signature Wing Cap was one of the highlights of the game, as getting to sore over worlds using a cap with wings sounded like a dream come true. However, the secret level, Wing Mario over the Rainbow, didn't make great use of it. The objective was to collect eight red coins across the level on clouds.
The tricky part was navigating Mario across the level. You had to do it with perfection; otherwise, you’d land outside of Peach’s Castle and have to start from the beginning. It's difficult to an annoying degree and enough deaths will make you move on.
15 Super Mario Land: Hard Mode
Super Mario Land was Mario's first game on a handheld. It also marks the first major appearance of Princess Daisy, who Mario has to save in this game. Super Mario Land removed Mario from the typical Mushroom Kingdom and put him in Sarassaland. While the title was entertaining, the Hard Mode barely sufficed.
After players beat the main game, the mushroom on the title screen changes into Mario's head. After selecting it with Mario, Hard Mode activates. Hard Mode in Super Mario Land may as well be a carbon copy of the standard mode. The mode presents one challenge: more enemies. That's it.
While Hard Mode sounds intimidating, it was a disappointment and incredibly bland. If a game uses a Hard Mode label, it should live up to its promise.
14 Super Mario World: Forest of Illusion 3
Super Mario World is easily one of the best games of all time. Although it's 2D, the level design, music, and difficulty are still enjoyable. However, the legendary title has a few levels that are plain boring and too easy. One of those levels is a secret one, Forest of Illusion 3.
First and foremost, the enemies are floating around in bubbles. None of them are ready to duke it out with Mario unless purposely popped. Second, if you have a cape, the level is a piece of cake, as if you float above most of the level and it's a piece of cake. So easy that you can clear it under two minutes. There's no fun in that!
Although Super Mario World is one of the greatest, levels like Forest of Illusion 3 could've been better.
13 Super Mario Bros. 2: World 7-2
Super Mario Bros. 2 is like the lost brother of the Super Mario Bros. family. That doesn’t mean the game isn’t good, however. By the same token, that doesn't mean that there weren't some terrible levels in the game that might end with a controller in a TV as opposed to a clear. One of those levels is World 7-2.
This large trap-laden castle was excruciatingly annoying to get through. Things like spike pits, conveyor belts, and traps are all over the place. However, the ringer was the Sparks that floated around the air, vying for your death. The balls of lightning floated around walls and obstacles to shock you if you touched them. Not good if you just made it across a pit of spikes. There's hard, then there's annoying hard for the sake of being hard, which this level nails.
Almost every part of this level was a death trap, whether it was things floating in the air or pits below.
12 Super Mario 3D Land: Special World 2-1
Super Mario 3D Land was Mario's first 3DS title. Since Super Mario 64 DS was a remake, Super Mario 3D Land is also the first 3D Mario game for a handheld. The game introduced several new Mario transformations and incredibly exciting levels. However, Special World 2-1 proves to be unoriginal and boring.
Most of the Special Worlds in Super Mario 3D Land are carbon copies of their regular counterparts. But Special World 2-1 was a clone of its counterpart, one of the least challenging levels in the game. Nintendo sneakingly threw in a Cosmic Clone to chase players through the level, but it's not original and it gives an odd sense of deja vu.
The handheld platformer is fun and engaging, but the unoriginality in the Special Worlds makes it feel like you're playing the game again. 1 2 is exceptionally boring since its counterpart wasn't that entertaining.
11 Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels: World C-3
Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels was completely lost in the US, as it wasn't initially released in the United States! Nintendo saw the game as too difficult for Americans, so that proves the game is already an annoying game. But there’s one level, in particular, that's so confusing it's absurd.
World C-3 looks simple to start, but it’s the opposite. The objective of this level is to jump from platform to platform with springboards in-between aimlessly. The downfall? You don't see where you're going. Where's the fun in that?
Some of the other contenders on the list aren't as annoying, but this one certainly is. Can't see where you're jumping? Come on, Nintendo.
10 Super Mario 64: Dire, Dire Docks
Super Mario 64 was a great game. However, like a lot of titles on this list, it had some ridiculous special levels like Wing Mario Over The Rainbow, which we already discussed. Although it wasn't a special level Dire, Dire Docks was another horrible course.
The underwater level is nothing like Zora's Domain, in fact it's the complete opposite. While most of the courses in Super Mario 64 provide robust challenges, Dire, Dire Docks feels endless. Most of the stars in the course are easy to get, but getting the job done seems endless. Going underwater, facing a countdown, getting back on the submarine to get another star, it becomes a snooze fest.
This level could've been a lot more innovative. Instead, it's a seemingly endless underwater tunnel that you travel over and over. Dire, Dire Docks is certainly one of the worst.
9 Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door General White
Paper Mario was Mario's trip to RPGs. With a more open world and turn-based style of play in these games, players were able to step into RPGs, Mario style. While Paper Mario has its series, one of the quests from Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door lands on the worst levels list.
The last crystal star is hidden on the moon. To obtain it, players must find a canon to shoot to the moon in Fahr Outpost. Once you locate the cannon, you must find Goldbob and General White, two bob-omb in charge of the canon. Finding Goldbob in Poshley Heights is easy. However, one could spend hours looking for General White. The game makes it so hard to find him that you almost want to rage quit. Where's the fun in that?
This Chapter in Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door could use a tune up. There's nothing wrong with a challenge, but this one will tire you out.
8 Super Mario Galaxy: Dreadnought
Super Mario Galaxy was a wildly fun title and many regard it as one of the best Mario games. It might be shocking, but there's one particular galaxy that made its way on the list. That galaxy is the Dreadnought.
Dreadnought puts some "dread" into Super Mario Galaxy. The level has some of the most annoying challenges to get the purple coins. Some of the "challenging" puzzles are complex in the weirdest ways. It's as if this level was designed to challenge you, but it didn't do so in a particularly fun method. Not only that, but the galaxy is incredibly long, more so than some of the others.
While most of Super Mario Galaxy is a delight, Dreadnought is a low point in the game.
7 Super Mario Sunshine: Sirena Beach
Super Mario Sunshine is a fun game, but some of the levels are terrible. For some levels, it seems like F.L.U.D.D. isn't enough. Corona Mountain is one level like this and another is Sirena Beach, where it feels like you need a hose.
On Serena Beach, the monster Phantamanta flooded the famous Hotel Delfino with electric goop. You're tasked with stopping Phantamanta, the giant Manta Ray, and clean up his electric goop. Sadly, it's one of the worst levels in Mario history. Whenever you spray Phantamanta, it splits into doubles of itself. Two becomes four, four becomes eight, eight becomes sixteen, etc. It occurs until each piece gets too small. Not only that, but you must avoid all the goop that's spreading as it shocks you.
This challenge is terrible simply because it's flat out annoying. Having to take out so many little monsters that squirm and scurry around before you can take them out gets old after a while.
6 Super Mario World: Tubular
Sometimes when playing Super Mario World, you wonder if jumping is enough because Nintendo decided to develop a level that's nearly impossible to get across, the Secret Zone's Tubular.
The stage is set up to make you fail. This Mario World level is a bottomless pit with a few tubes here and there. With the help of Yoshi and a cape, you navigate yourself to a certain point in the level. Once you get to that point, the only way to get across is with a magical “P” balloon. The balloon makes Mario round enough to float in the air and the trick is continuing to break blocks and get the balloons, while baseballs are being flung at you.
The fact that you have to blow up and float through the air is idiotic. If you’re fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to unlock this secret level, good luck.
5 Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island: Poochy Ain’t Stupid
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island is the first game you get to experience playing as Yoshi. Once you pass all the levels at 100%, you get a gift; Yoshi gets to ride a puppy. While it sounds fun, it isn't and it had to make it on our list for the worst levels.
This level is awkward, as with Yoshi’s balancing baby Mario on his back, he must ride on the back of Poochy, a dog that appears to be on drugs. You must make it through the level on Poochy to get over the lava. The catch comes when Bullet Bills, enemies, and obstacles are coming from every angle while you are trying to balance on Poochy. This is absurd; you're already pretty much riding a dinosaur, why be a dinosaur riding a dog?
While Poochy seems cute, he’s impossible to balance, making this level one of the worst.
4 Super Mario World: Outrageous
Outrageous is another Super Mario World level with an awful name because it plays like it sounds, outrageous. Most of the secret levels in Super Mario World are no joke and are incredibly difficult. Outrageous is filled with tons of obstacles to keep you busy and distracted.
As if Tubular wasn’t enough, this secret level presents a forest theme with tons of pipes, Bullet Bills and Wigglers everywhere. The dumbest part is carrying an outrageous springboard through most of the level, as if holding items wasn't awkward enough in this game. Toss in trying to dodge enemies at the same time and you’ve got more problems than you can count.
The most irritating part of this level is the fact that you can drop the springboard at any moment. You could be nearing the end of the level when suddenly, you let go and the springboard falls into a pit.
3 New Super Mario Bros. Wii: World 9-7
New Super Mario Bros. Wii was a revolutionary game for the Nintendo Wii. It’s still the fourth best-selling game for the Wii and brought Mario’s side-scrolling adventures back to life. The refreshing reboot was fun to play, all up until World 9-7, where things got annoyingly difficult.
The craziness of this level is unmatched, which is what makes it one of the worst. In many cases, you have to jump between pipes to avoid not one, but two Fire Piranha plants while also trying to progress passed Prickly Goombas and Munchers. Another twist happens when Fire Piranha Plants start destroying the icy ground beneath you, making it even harder to finish the level.
While it does provide a challenge, this level is ridiculous and sloppy. Nintendo could've easily made this level a little smoother.
2 Super Mario 3D Land: Special 8 Crown
Another final level of a Mario game, Super Mario 3D Land’s Special 8 Crown delivers a hard punch. It is the most difficult level in the game and rewards no star medals. Not to mention the 500 second (roughly 8 minutes and some change) time limit, which is a decent amount for most Mario levels, but not this one. Sadly, it rewards no star levels, making it kind of ridiculous.
While the bosses are only Boom Boom and Pom Pom, what it takes to get to the final bosses is frustrating. You must make it through various platforms while dodging Hammer Bros. and Boomerang Bros. After that, you’re rewarded with a boss fight between you and Boom Boom along with Pom Pom. Then, you’re on another rollercoaster ride trying to get through the level. It never stops and it's more frustrating than amusing.
1 New Super Mario Bros. U: Don’t. Touch. Anything.
This challenge is one of the most aggravating of any Mario game. New Super Mario Bros. U had a painfully awkward final level. However, the Don’t. Touch. Anything. Challenge takes the cake for most difficult in the game.
The level seems simple; as the title suggests, don’t touch anything. You play as Mario in his small form. Unlike the majority of Mario levels, however, you cannot jump on enemies. Furthermore, you can only collect up to six coins before failing the level entirely. Touch an enemy or get seven coins and the game is over. This is what makes it one of the worst, as this level defies the very objective of Mario. Changing the goal to the complete opposite is trying a little too hard to be different.
Mario games date back to the 80s and are considered to be some of the best games of all time. While the Mario franchise is legendary, plenty of levels in the game were terrible. Which level did you dislike the most?