59 levels to play before you die: S - Z

Super R-Type (SNES, Virtual Console) | Giant ship level
Old-school shooters were all about odds - one against a million, usually. But R-Type turned the tables every so often, pitting your one ship against one enemy. The catch? That one enemy was actually the entire level, a capital ship that filled multiple screens and required several passes to destroy. Any given R-Type will deliver, even the arcade original, but we chose the SNES version for its less-annoying sound effects. It's one thing to stop wave after wave of flimsy fighters; it's quite another to successfully obliterate a shadow-casting hunk of space metal.

Tenchu: Stealth Assassins (PSone) | Mission 1: Punish the Evil Merchant While the original Tenchu was a pretty cool game for its time - being the first to introduce us to realistic ninja stealth action - we never had quite as much fun with it as we did in its first level. The objective was simple: quietly infiltrate the rich merchant Echigoya's castle-like compound, track the fat bastard down and stab him in the throat. But the compound was big, pretty, open to exploration and filled with dark spots to hide in, and we were free to tackle it however we liked. Granted, that almost always involved sprinting across its rooftops and zipping around on a grapple line, but we were also free to creep through its buildings and alleyways, dodging or stealth-killing Echigoya's idiot guards - or just fighting them head-on, if we were feeling suicidal.

Pre-Metal Gear Solid, this was unlike anything we'd ever done before in a game, and it was incredible. Compound that with Tenchu's uniquely moody music and the satisfaction of killing Echigoya himself - a fat, vile, gun-toting slob who's chasing a terrified woman around when you confront him - and not even the game's prototypical pirate vs ninja level could keep us from coming back to this one over and over again.

The Darkness (360, PS3) | Jen's Apartment
This is just a beautiful, heart-warming moment. An unexpected slippers-and-snuggles snapshot of the relationship between goth-headed mobster Jackie Estacado and his doting girlfriend, Jenny Romano. A new apartment, a birthday cake, closing a window, cuddling on the sofa, watching TV, kissing, needing to pee... the whole scene is dramatically mundane and anyone who has ever been in love will be able to relate to the tender interplay between the young couple. It seems such a shame that it all has to turn so totally shit-shaped for Jackie and Jenny...


  • barrage7667 - April 7, 2012 7:47 p.m.

    ive played 39 of these
  • Darkhawk - October 14, 2010 5:54 p.m.

    25/59. I realise everyone is going to have levels they wish made it, but for me Zone of the Enders: the Second Runner's massive battle is one of the best ever. 100s of enemies on screen, with you dashing around the field to lend support to your allies, and Gradius's Vic Viper (!) as your backup. Also: there was a time a couple years ago when I could play Contra III’s first level without looking at the screen, I had played it so much.
  • Kordocwaffle - December 13, 2009 5:05 p.m.

    16 for me not bad
  • Nannoo - November 4, 2008 2:34 a.m.

    The New Gettysburg Starcraft mission is an awesome addition to this article. Although I must say, a better one from Starcraft: Brood War to pick would have been the last Zerg mission. Which is IMPOSSIBLE.
  • Gingerbread - October 23, 2008 1:55 a.m.

    I've played 4!
  • LePsycho - July 6, 2009 7:19 p.m.

    12, though a couple of the older ones I'd forgotten about playing till this article :S
  • lukel127 - June 22, 2009 6:21 p.m.

    Ive played 4. Pscyconaughts, Simpsons, Flatout, and raven holm which is scary as hell! Plus, why is the glados fight not in here?
  • thomashalpenny - June 7, 2009 11:49 p.m.

    ive played 8 . u 4got sum of de classic crash bandicoot levels.
  • Florniels - June 2, 2009 5:40 p.m.

    12!! :D
  • Supermanoh - May 21, 2009 11:15 p.m.

    ... 14, but why not harold & bob the talking tree (think that's his name) from Fallout 3? c'mon! and no secret level from mario that i can never remember the name of... from the very first!
  • Matgta - May 20, 2009 3:31 p.m.

    17 For me, must try harder!
  • dreamgor - May 6, 2009 12:39 p.m.

    NOOO!!! i want to play some of them but i have played only ½ of one... it is the simpsons game but it was for DS... i have played some of the games at my friends but i never got so far w8... DYNASTY WARRIORS i have played DW 5XD whew... MUST GET DS PORT OF CHRONO CROSS AND FFVII when they come-.-
  • TheGreatestNightmare - April 27, 2009 2:47 a.m.

    I've played about 9 or 10. But man, I love Timespliters. But I think the Chicago or the Notre Dame levels were better.
  • FrozenImplosion - April 16, 2009 2:19 a.m.

    I've played 13 And I'm actually in the middle of "We Don't Go To Ravenholm". It's freaky :D and lol recaptch = bumpiest spine
  • IronicBob - July 8, 2009 8:24 p.m.

    I'm surprised you've left out the Tanker Level in MGS 2.
  • Gamedude-9 - July 1, 2009 5:33 p.m.

    I cant believe they did not put the mission from the Dark brotherhood on Oblivion htat was awsome
  • sklorbit - June 17, 2009 10:02 p.m.

    only 10... i think you forgot a couple great ones...
  • isaacthejust - June 4, 2009 9:36 p.m.

    thats great but i beat re4 on the pc and its not listed as a pc game wierd guess they didnt know it was on the pc too.
  • PekoponTAS - May 31, 2009 4:11 a.m.

    I haven't played ANY of these! o_o
  • Matgta - May 20, 2009 3:36 p.m.

    Hold on why isn't the final section of fallout 3 here, y'know the bit with the giant robot? Liberty prime I think?

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