59 levels to play before you die: M - S

Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure (PS2, Xbox, PC) | Going for a Tram Ride
Bloc Party's song "Helicopter" can make anything amazing, but it didn't have to work too hard during the tram-ride sequence in Getting Up. Say what you will about the game, but frantically leaping between four aerial cable cars and shimmying around their edges to spray paint a single giant message - all while dodging machinegun fire and tossing riot cops off the tops of the cars - felt overwhelmingly badass the first time we did it. Add a soundtrack that wailed "Are you hoping for a miracle?" over roaring guitars, and the only other stage that was anywhere near as cool involved creeping hand-over-hand around the outside of a blimp in mid-flight.

Mario Kart 64 (N64) | Rainbow Road
In every Mario Kart game since time immemorial, the Rainbow Road track has been the final circuit track. Its vivid colors and grueling pace are enough to make it memorable on any system, but the N64 incarnation – rendered in lurid 3 dimensional graphics and set to the most mesmerizing music ever – goes down in history as THE level of THE game you HAVE to play on N64, if nothing else. Clocking at an average 8 minutes, and fraught with roving Chain Chomps that’ll send you flying into space, this isn’t a level to be taken lightly, but boy is it sure pretty:

Hint: You can shave entire minutes off your time if you execute a jump just before the drop at the starting line – but watch out or you’ll go careening off the track:

Metal Gear Solid (PSOne) | Meryl Rendezvous
Metal Gear Solid is awesome for many reasons, one of them being that there’s weren’t really “levels” so much as “shit you have to do” sections punctuated with awesome cutscenes. The defining “shit you have to do” moment summed up by the Metal Gear experience is when you’re tracking down fellow operative Meryl Silverburgh, ferreting her cross-dressed form out from several other soldiers patrolling a room. Encounter her and she’ll run away – if you follow her fast enough, you get the famous “panties” Easter egg:

Definitely a level you can’t afford to miss before your PSOne is gone for good – but you could also get your fix from the GameCube port, Twin Snakes.

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