59 levels to play before you die: A - D

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night PSone, XBLA, PSN) | Granfalloon/Legion
It takes a lot to stand out in a game that's so beloved. But no piece of Dracula's castle was as impressive or revolting as Granfalloon, a gigantic enemy composed of rotting, bloody corpses. Striking the ball o' bodies causes an avalanche of man meat, thereby cementing this encounter as one of the creepiest of all time. Ick!

ChronoCross (PSone) | Lynx and Serge trade bodies and Lynx moves into a painting
With its whopping cast of more than 50 playable characters, ChronoCross takes its "Epic RPG" label to heart. However, the best part of the game centers upon only three: the main good guy Serge, his cute, hillbilly-talking girlfriend Kid, and the Darth Vader-meets-Cat in the Hat baddie Lynx. SPOILER ALERT: This entry reveals a pretty big plot twist.

It starts like any other RPG battle: three good guys versus three bad guys. And of course the good guys win. But something tragic and befuddling happens at the end. While Lynx lies incapacitated, Serge smiles wickedly, dashes forward, and drives a dagger half the size of a skateboard deep into the lovely Kid's stomach. She grimaces and slumps to the floor, motionless, her eyes voicing the confused betrayal we all feel as we yell brokenheartedly at the TV, "What the HELL, Serge!?"

Turns out, Lynx somehow switched bodies with Serge at the end of the battle. So the main bad guy is now running your army and you're banished, in his fuzzy, feline physique, to some bizarre, yet gorgeous alternate dimension that looks like a Picasso painting. And there you set about recruiting an army of new friends to help get you back home - where they will almost undoubtedly get their asses beaten into gravy by your old friends the minute you all arrive because you're trapped in the body of the most evil dude in the universe. The whole sequence is bizarre, beautiful, moving, and even slightly existential - everything we love in an RPG. 

Contra III: The Alien Wars (Super NES, Virtual Console) | Level 3
This intense shooter spends just as much time enveloping you in its thick atmosphere as you do blasting aliens. Seriously, it's one of the most cinematic, engrossing shooters of all time. Still, even with such stiff competition, our favorite moment of the whole world-saving bunch is level three. Foreboding music, an attack from the sky while you're forced to move hand-over-hand across huge pits, a robot assault while climbing a skyscraper, plus a final boss that rips the background away and blasts fire in your face. Whoa.


  • Gingerbread - October 23, 2008 1:50 a.m.

    I've played 5!
  • dukethepcdr - June 28, 2009 5:07 p.m.

    Nice to see defender getting some love. That is one of my favorite games of all time. Like the Ninja Gaiden games after it, it has punishing difficulty, but it is so much fun you don't care that is kicking your butt.
  • UsernameAlreadyInUse - May 17, 2009 4:38 a.m.

    I pleyd the COD4 which was awesome and i killed leigion in aria of sorrow does tht count?
  • polopa - April 26, 2009 9:11 p.m.

    ive played 3 :D
  • demo117 - April 24, 2009 9:01 p.m.

    i ahve played all and im 13
  • sprog - April 17, 2009 11:37 p.m.

    39 for me. Some pleasant memories in there. Shooters like Axelay and Thunder Force, they put hair on your chest.
  • Sinsational - April 15, 2009 1:28 p.m.

    I've played 15 overall.
  • Forsakenday - April 14, 2009 11:31 p.m.

    I've played 3.
  • lorchan - June 29, 2009 4:24 a.m.

    I actually just did Acre Cathedral yesterday. It's so... It just really does deserve being on this list. I got assassin's creed about a month ago, and now that school's out I've been playing it A LOT. I plan to beat it tomorrow, actually :) Can't wait for Assassin's Creed II!
  • solsunforge - June 9, 2009 3:56 p.m.

    Sure you have demo and you werent even a thought when some of these games were around.
  • shadowdahuman - May 8, 2009 9:10 p.m.

    Here 3
  • disnayatx - April 16, 2009 10:31 p.m.

    5 in here
  • shadowleon - April 3, 2009 1:24 a.m.

    Yes but only if you played them in less then 2 weeks if not you are a gamer and a geek and remember geeks get it done nerds don't
  • RebornKusabi - February 8, 2009 11:50 p.m.

    I have played almost all of of the 59 levels- does that make me a nerd? The answer would be...
  • Bronxx - December 14, 2008 8:31 p.m.

    I've played 2!

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