Five Super Mario World Levels I Dread


Super Mario World has to be my favorite video game of all time. And I’m sure many others can say that as well. It was the first game for the first system I ever owned, the beloved SNES. I was too young (or too stupid, whichever you prefer) to beat it when I originally had it. Then, when it came out for the Game Boy Advanced, I snatched it up and beat it. Later, I beat it on the original SNES.

But as much as I loved everything about the game, I must admit that there were a handful of levels I never looked forward to playing.

5. Soda Lake

soda lake

It’s a secret level in the Twin Bridges area that either takes a cape or the sacrifice of a Yoshi to unlock. Before I figured out how to get to Soda Lake, I wondered how one got to the Star Road entrance on that little island in the middle of the ocean. I also wondered, when watching the ending credits, who on earth Torpedo Ted was. I’m not happy I found out.

First of all, it’s a water level, which explains some of the problem—limited mobility, slow movement, difficulty in maneuvering character accurately.

But those Torpedo Teds are a bitch, too. There are released quickly and in such a way that makes it extremely difficult for Mario to dodge them. Even if he could, he almost can’t swim fast enough.

Other than that, I don’t have an issue with the level. I always take a power-up or two just in case.

4. Chocolate Island 2

Chocolate Island 2

The reason I hate this level has nothing to do with enemies or physical obstacles. Normally, this level isn’t even an issue. But when I’m trying to unlock the correct exit, that’s when this level infuriates me.

There are four parts to this level. The first part is always the same. When you take the pipe into the second part, it will spit you out into one of three areas depending on how many coins Mario has collected. When venturing into the third part, there are a few different places Mario may end up depending on how much time he has left. Finally, when passing into the final section, there are two different places Mario may end up based on the number of Dragon Coins he has.

While this makes for an exciting and ever-changing level, it becomes increasingly frustrating when seeking out the secret exit because it only appears once. And until I did a little research, I only knew that the path Mario ends up taking is based on coins and remaining time. I didn’t know how to force the outcome I wanted. I felt like I was in “Groundhog Day,” just playing and replaying the same level over and over. Now I know, so I suppose this level isn’t much of an issue anymore.

3. Star World 5

Star Road 5

This level is a pain in the ass. It starts Mario off facing several platforms that fall when touched. Fine. Hop over them. No problem. But then there’s a wide open space, which you can fill with a block snake (using a coin snake and a P-Switch).

Once you’ve crossed the chasm, though, getting the secret exit is extremely difficult. Sure, you can manipulate the blocks to put you closer to the key, but doing that from memory seems impossible. The opening is so small, and the fall is so great that Mario would likely die several times before getting the key.

My solution? Blue Yoshi.

2. Outrageous


This level is, well, outrageous. It’s labeled the second-hardest level in Super Mario World, but it’s difficult to believe it’s not the hardest. Mario spends the entire level dodging Bullet Bills, little fire-snake-things, Flyin’ Hammer Bros., and a metric shit ton of other enemies.

At this point, you could try to have Mario knuckle his way out of the fray, but it is probably quicker and easier to just plow forward, taking hits left and right. It’ll hurt, and you’ll definitely want to bring a handful of power-ups, but it’s the best way (in my opinion).

1. Tubular


F*** this level. Hands down the most difficult level in the game. Low ceiling, large chasms, well-placed enemies with accessories (Chargin’ Chuck’s football, Volcano Lotus’s fire balls, etc.), and physical obstacles make this level ten times harder than Outrageous.

I have never beaten it without cheating. Never. I got right to the end one time, but died as I was about to pass through the gate. Sure, they give you some Ps to float through the level with, but one hit, and Mario is done.

My solution: Blue Yoshi. Fly through the whole damn thing.

Are there any levels you hated?

  • DocDoom

    YES! My tie for best game of all time! Great stuff.

    Personally, I always dread “Butter Bridge”, where you have to get to the secret exit by flying underneath the first, or the castle in Bowser’s area where you need to the secret to make the path going straight up to the back door. You know which one?

  • trashcanman

    Anyone who lists a non-SNES system as the console GOAT is a noob and a charlatan. NO exceptions. I hate platformers as a general rule, but 2D Mario is always an exception to that rule. I’ve sacrificed many a Yoshi to the gods of the abyss, and have never regretted it.

  • Afghan Whig

    I agree 100% with Tubular. I don’t even remember what the second hardest level for me in this game was, but whenever I think of difficult Mario levels, this one comes to mind.

  • The Dude Abides

    I have an old buddy who was sick and laid up in the hospital for a couple years where all he did was play super mario world. He’s stupidly good at the game and can play through tubular in about 17 seconds. It’s insane to watch footage of, his youtube channel is sillyjakechan if anyone here is interested in checking out some of his SMW vids.

  • TotesMcGotes

    It’s cliched to say Tubular is the hardest,but it’s true. I did beat it without cheating though,and I’m proud of that.

    I love that game. My favorite 2d Mario by far. Wish they did another one more like it. I didn’t play NSMBU yet,plan to,but I wish they stopped with the ‘New’ Mario thing and do a huge,badass new 2d Mario with the same polish as the Galaxy games. (which I love,as well)

  • Pepe

    well, I was 12 when I got my snes and I completed the whole game without any cheat though I have to agree with you, tubular and outrageous are the most difficult levels.

  • Darg

    I was laying on the floor twitching for 5 minutes from the PTSD this list brought up in me.
    I did eventually manage to finish every level in SMW without cheats, but the ones listed here are hard as balls!
    Thanks for the nostalgic trip down childhood trauma lane lol!

  • Man I love all those levels because they take some effort. Most of the game you can breeze through on autopilot, but I like those you mention and a couple more that never become easy no matter how many decades you spend playing.

    The level I hated for the longest was the ghost house in Valley of Bowser, though I didn’t know that was what I hated until the day I found the secret exit I didn’t have any idea was there which finally gave me that perfect score of 96. That was in like 2008.

  • Fahrenheit

    Hah! My solution for Star World 5 was always a cape to fly across and eventually land on the platform with the secret exit. There was *just* enough space to take off at the very beginning of the level if you made sure to avoid the parakoopa. Never thought to bring a blue yoshi through Tubular, though…I’ll have to try that next time.

  • bstamour

    I know this is an old post, but my trick to beating Outrageous is to simply fly through the whole thing. There’s enough space at the beginning to ramp up, and nothing to stop you from flying above everything straight to the end.

  • Jessica Nichole Lynch

    My least favorite is the castle in vanilla dome. I always had a hard time with it.

  • Alayna Stanislav

    totally agree with you on Tubular – I almost beat it once by sheer luck with no yoshi, but I was like two inches away from the final platform where the finish line is and fell to my death. GREAT

  • K2L

    Another one that is douchy is Valley Fortress.

  • Max Beckett Everhardt

    Both the Butter Bridge levels are a pain, but doable.

  • Tom

    5) You can swim under the whole level if you time it correctly

    4) Not hard, really don’t have anything to add. I believe there are two exits. One good and one bad. Just go fast and get lots of coins for the first and just screw around for the second to get 96

    3) Blue Yoshi ftw

    2) You can fly through Outrageous

    1) Tubular is pure timing and requires a certain degree of trial and error