Top 10 Sewer Levels
One of the most hated levels in video games is the sewer levels. This is probably because they’re similar to water levels, dark, and they all tend to look the same with flowing green water, bricks, and rusted metal. They’re not pleasing to the eye, and definitely not fun to play… well most of them are not.
Some sewer levels are not bad. Either they are not the traditional sewer levels, or they are but they still have some interesting mechanics or gameplay that make them fun. So, I decided to count down the best of the worst. Remember, only one level per franchise and only retro games can be on this list. So, here are MY Top 10 Sewer Levels in Gaming.
10.) Sewer Zone – Frogger
We all know the classic Arcade Frogger game however there was another released in 1997 that was in 3D! It was released on the original Playstation however, I played the PC version when I was a child. This version of Frogger was similar to the original in that the goal was to collect 5 different colored frogs in a level, but was different in that the same map wasn’t recycled over and over again. Instead there were numerous zones with their own themes and obstacles.
One of these zones was the Sewer Zone. The Sewer Zone was one of last zones in the game and one of the toughest. I remember I didn’t get to this zone a lot as a kid, because the game is unforgiving. The sewer zone levels were some of the best though. They had numerous traps such as green toxic water (what is that anyway?), exploding barrels, slugs and more. In addition, the sewer zone has one of the most laid back themes in the entire game. If you can get there, it was worth it just for the atmosphere and music.
9.) Stage 3 – Batman
The NES version of Batman might be one of my favorites. It’s definitely better that Batman Returns or Batman Forever. The NES version of Batman was developed by Sunsoft and is loosely based off the excellent movie directed by Tim Burton and even features some cutscenes inspired by The Killing Joke comic, so it’s gotta be good right? Well… Right!
The game is fantastic even if it makes some odd choices. I understand why Batman has the Batarang, but why a spread shot and gun? Also, why does he jump from wall to wall like Ryu Hayabusa ? The world may never know, but it doesn’t really matter. Stage 3 of Batman is one of the most frustrating. It’s a sewer level with numerous gears and spikes. In addition, this level is where you must master the wall jump and items if you want to live. In addition, this level introduces Hoppers, frog-like enemies that are quite tough. It all culminates in a run through a cave and then a boss fight with the semi-forgotten DC villain, the Electrocutioner.
8.) Demolition Drain-Pipe – Donkey Kong Country 3
I was going to include the level Surf’s Up from the Gameboy Advance version of Donkey Kong Country 3, but that’s not a retro title technically, so instead I’ll be talking about the similar Demolition Drain-Pipe. First off, if you haven’t played, ignored, or dislike the third Donkey Kong Country game then you need to give it another chance because it’s a solid platformer and one of the best looking.
Demolition Drain-Pipe is similar to the minecart levels of the original game. Except in this game you ride around in a toboggan. This toboggan can ride along the bottom of the pipe or attach to steel pipes suspended in the air. The toboggan is fast, and there are numerous Buzzes and Knik-Knaks scattered through the level. Not much else to say, but this is a tough but fun and memorable level in the Donkey Kong Country series.
7.) Toad Man’s Stage – Mega Man 4
If it’s a list by me, there has to be an entry from the Mega Man series on it. Originally I was going to include Shadow Man’s stage because an unofficial source on the internet says it’s a sewer level. However, the water in that stage is red, so I think someone has bloody poop or it’s a mistake. So instead I gotta include Toad Man’s stage from Mega Man 4.
Toad Man’s stage was the first one many gamers visited because it was one of the easiest and Toad Man himself is probably the easiest robot master in Mega Man history. Luckily it’s one of the most memorable. The stage begins with rain and heavy winds hindering your progress while robotic frogs and birds attack. Then you make your way down below. Down here there are water currents that can screw with your sense of direction and speed. Then you fight two giant snail mini-bosses and numerous other enemies that make this one of the most memorable levels in all of Mega Man.
6.) Sewer Access – Chrono Trigger
There, I included an entry from the Chrono Trigger series. Now the fans will forgive me for that whole Magus’ Castle malarkey. Nevertheless, Chrono Trigger is an awesome SNES RPG about time travel and a giant space tick.
In this game you travel to numerous locations and time periods, but one of the most fun and challenging is Sewer Access or Abandoned Sewers. This has all the common sewer tropes of being dark, and mazelike. However, there are some things added to make this fun. First off you got the boss Krawlie and his minions who are entertaining. Then the game decides to mess with you with fake save spots and cats that manage to call in enemies to swarm on your location.
Sewer Access is mostly memorable because it’s the only on land route to get to Death Mountain. Death Mountain is one of the most memorable locations in the game and story, so a prelude to that has to make this list.
5.) Stage 1 – Sonic Spinball
Sonic Spinball was an odd game back in the day. Every one of my friends who owned a Genesis owned this game, but it seemed like a step backwards. Now Sonic was always known for his speed, sure some levels required you to slow down, but SEGA really pushed the speed in their ads, so then they put Sonic in a pinball game… I just don’t see the connection.
Now I’ve never beat Sonic Spinball, but I did start it a lot. As stated above, Sonic Spinball is a pinball game. Sonic takes the form of the ball and is on a mission to collect the chaos emeralds and defeat Robotnik’s pinball based security system… wow this is a dumb game. The first level is a sewer and one I remember fondly. I remember draining the slime, destroying the robot alligator (I think that’s what they were) heads, riding down the minecart, paddling across the slime in a barrel, and finally taking down that creepy Robotnik spider thing at the end of it all.
Terrifying, but memorable.
4.) Clanker’s Cavern – Banjo Kazooie
You knew this entry was coming, especially if you saw the header image for this blog. I actually never beat this game either because I was at the final boss, and then my save file got deleted. I know I need to because it’s a Rare gem, and I need to play the sequel, but that’s for another day.
Clanker’s Cavern is another stereotypical sewer level. It’s got the green water, rusted pipes, and dark atmosphere. However, this level is really dark. There are spikes and evil creatures hiding in the grates. Nothing really stands out except for Clanker himself. When you begin the level you crawl through a small pipe and come face to face with a giant metal shark monster, that is somehow bloody, known as Clanker. This thing is a behemoth. You actually have to jump on top of it and crawl inside it to beat the level.
He’s a giant set-piece, but also a memorable character. When you first see him, you can’t tell if you’re in for a surprise, a boss fight, or something entirely different. Every gamer’s first experience with Clanker is memorable.
3.) Sewer Surfing – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time
This game really needs to be in more of my lists, because it is that damn good. Same goes for Hyperstone Heist, but this list is about the SNES. TMNT IV is a classic sidescrolling beat-em-up where you punch ninjas and go right.
This monotony is broken up by one of the most fun levels in the game. I don’t know what the level is called specifically, but I’m calling it after its music: Sewer Surfing. (Speaking of the music check out this With Lyrics video from brentalfloss). This level takes away all the bad things about sewer levels. It’s brightly colored, you can’t get lost (because you’re surfing through the sewers on a fixed path), and it’s quick.
Plus, how can you not like the music in this game. It’s sooooo….. good.
2.) Sewer Speedway – Crash Team Racing
Crash Team Racing is my favorite Kart racing game of all time. You can have your Mario Kart or Diddy Kart, my favorite is with the insane, orange marsupial. It has a story mode, battle mode, and some of the most memorable levels and power-ups of all time. Seriously, I love this game and will DESTROY any of you in it.
Sewer Speedway is one of the best levels in the game even though it does rely on some common sewer tropes. It’s dark, it’s got barrels, glowing blue-green water, and rusty metal. However, it’s a perfect racing level. There are obstacles in the form of rolling barrels. There’s a shortcut secret that’s impossible unless you have an item of have mastered the slide turbo. There are hairpin turns, straightaways, narrow passages, branching paths, and everything else that makes a great racing level.
Sewer Speedway is arguable the best level in the game, it might be the best kart racing level, and it’s the second best sewer level in gaming.
1.) Mario Bros.
You knew that a Mario game had to be on this list. They are plumbers for crying out loud! I was debating on which one to put on this list, but I had to base my decision on nostalgia and its effect on gaming as a whole.
That sewer level is the first level in the original Mario Bros. arcade game. In this game Mario and his brother Luigi rid the sewers of New York City from crabs, turtles, and giant flies. This is a fun, but simple arcade game where you defeat enemies and can screw over your partner. I can’t really explain this game, you all know it and have played it.
The first level has sewer pipes where the enemies come out from and return, it’s full of bricks, fire, and it’s dark. Besides all that, it’s iconic. We all know it and love it, so it has to be the best sewer level in all of gaming.
Next time… something seasonal! WHOO-Ho-Ho-Ho!