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Best Mario level? Hands down it's Hands-On Hall

June 11, 2017 2 min read

E3 is here, it’s queer and we should all get used to the next few days of video game journalists shooting a load at every trailer and demo that publishers throw their way. It’s the point of origin for the many hype trains that will soon be leaving the station on a one-way trip to Success City, Failsville or Forgettable Falls.

There is so much to anticipate out of these next three days and one of the games I am most looking forward to is Super Mario Odyssey. I’ll admit I had to come around on this one. At first, I was super excited, calling it my most anticipated game of this year. Then that reveal trailer hit and I frankly didn’t know what to think. There are a lot of oddities with it I still am unsure about, but I have yet to be let down by a 3D Mario so I’m still very much thrilled.

With Odyssey seemingly going back to the open levels of Super Mario 64/Super Mario Sunshine, it got me thinking about what type of Mario levels I enjoy. This is a series that has been around for 30 years and probably has more than 1,000 levels to date. There are so many to choose from, but for me the choice is obvious. It’s Hands-On Hall.

I could write a novella on why I think Super Mario 3D World is the greatest Mario game to date, and perhaps the greatest video game I have ever played, but I’ll save that for another date and time. Instead, I want to marvel once more at Hands-On Hall. Found up in the clouds in the World 6, Hands-On Hall, or The House of a Thousand Touchscreen Doors as it is known in German, is arguably the best example of 3D World’s approach to level design.

The concept of Hands-On Hall, Mario & company infiltrating an ancient Chinese Goomba temple, disguising himself as a Goomba at a certain point, sneaking up behind his prey and assassinating them before they react feels like it would belong in a game starring Agent 47 rather than the world’s most famous plumber. What a sight it is to see Princess Peach sneaking around this stage wearing a big Goomba head. With its touch screen doors and secret way to skip half the level, it embodies everything I love about Super Mario 3D World: a unique and innovative level bolstered by a clever concept, amazing design, and top-notch execution.

Hands-On Hall is hella good, and I doubt any other Destructoid writer or reader will be able to name one better.

Best Mario level? Hands down it's Hands-On Hall screenshot

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