Recently I’ve rediscovered a love of swimming in the wide-open sea. Salt spray and bracing cold are surprisingly effective at making me feel at ease! Since I am still a massive gaming nerd, I’ve decided to take this newly acquired Poseidon like mindset and apply it to a much-hated area of the gaming world, something which makes even the most hardened gamer quake in their flippers. Water levels!
These aquatic adventures can bring a game to a grinding halt and scupper your feelings to a title, but they won’t be going anywhere soon. Luckily, I’m now here to tell you all about my five favourite water levels in games.
All of it – Subnautica
Okay so this might be cheating right off the bat, but Subnautica is a fantastic undersea adventure from start to finish! A very refreshing change from most survival titles, Subnautica drops you feet first into a giant ocean playground with nothing but a life pod to hide in and a knife to chip away at the scenery. Exploring this watery sandbox (waterbox?) you’ll start to accumulate all the bits and bobs you need to survive and explore even further while finding all manner of fascinating and terrifying creatures! Of course, there are limits, so be sure not to explore too far beyond the map as you might not like what you find!
Dire Dire Docks – Super Mario 64
Ah Mario 64, you did so much for platforming! Hopping into yet another painting you will find yourself in the Dire Dire Docks, a wide-open area topped up with water for you to paddle about in as you make sure to keep Mario nice and oxygenated with…coins? Whatever, my point is that the level is fun to explore, with a few manta rays and hidden chests to keep things interesting, though on the other hand there is also one of the scariest enemies in any video game ever: the Goddamn giant eel! The first time I played this level I encountered said beasty and very quickly switched off the console just to be sure it couldn’t get hold of me.
Hydrus – Shadow of the Colossus
Alright alright maybe this one is more of an enemy than a specific level, but seeing as each creature in Team Ico’s monster slaying title Shadow of the Colossus gets its own area to battle in, water based Hydrus can have a spot on this list. Encountered after you’ve killed seven of its brethren, Hydrus makes its home in a large dark lake and yep, you’re hopping in to give it a damn good shanking. The battle is great fun as this eel like boss can discharge electricity over the lake surface to zap you and every now and then will dive down into the pitch black depths. If you manage to hold your grip on its algae covered back you get a wonderful trip under the surface as Wander holds on for dear life! Though the water is murky and hard to see through, it’s still a great environment and makes excellent use of the water around you!
Maridia – Super Metroid
With Metroid Dread doing the rounds now it would be foolish not to include a neat little tie in! Maridia is, as the name vaguely hints at, inspired by the deepest depths of our own Earth’s oceans. While Samus doesn’t swim, instead preferring to just run and jump slower, you must still traverse most of the area underwater as you avoid all manner of terrifying deep sea monsters. Metroid is a series known for its creepy music and that is once again the case here with the tones giving you an unsettling vibe throughout and making you hope you can find a way out, though not before you battle the horrifying Draygon…
Coral Capers – Donkey Kong Country
Oh yes, we’re digging into the Nintendo barrel again kids! Coral Capers is the first proper water level I can remember playing and it still sits nice and high on my list of favourite gaming experiences! A departure from the last few levels of DK and Diddy hopping around the jungle, Coral Capers drops you into a reef lined maze as you swim about seeking the treasured bananas and jamming out to David Wise’s sick tunes! Most importantly you will get the opportunity to hop on the back of a marlin and stab sharks through the face! Seriously what else do you want you needy bastard?