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The Top 10 Weirdest Levels in Gaming

by Sasha Erfanian Jun 5
Thumbnail image courtesy of theScore esports

There are some areas you just expect to show up in every game. Lava level, sewer level, underwater sequence, et cetera, et cetera.

However, every now and then you encounter an area that breaks the mold. One that's so inventive, interesting and unique that it makes you feel like you're playing a video game for the first time.

Then there are some that are just really, really odd. Here are the weirdest, wackiest levels in games.

10. Skies of Honor - Street Fighter V

For a franchise called "Street Fighter," oddly few Street Fighter stages actually take place in — y'know — streets. In fact, SFV's DLC Skies of Honor is about as far from a "street fight" as you can possible get, as it all takes place on the wings of a private jet circling around Dubai.

The personal stage of series newcomer Rashid, the bored, social-media loving scion of a wealthy Middle Eastern family, inviting people to fight you atop your family's Gulfstream seems a touch excessive even man richer than God.

9. Inside Jabu-Jabu's belly - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

In every Hero's Journey, there comes a time for the protagonist to enter the Belly of the Whale, though the concept is rarely so literal as in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, where one dungeon is a literal whale's stomach.

In order to save the less famous Princess Ruto, Link has to venture inside the body of Lord Jabu-Jabu to kill a parasite and carry her back up through the beast's gullet.

Along the way, you will have to kill a lot — and I mean A LOT — of stomach worms.

8. ISO 9000 - Earthworm Jim 2

The Earthworm Jim games — in which the titular earthworm dons a "super suit" and fights monsters like "Psy-Crow" and "Queen Slug-for-a-Butt" to save "Princess What's-Her-Name" — features a decidedly absurdist sense of humor.

Take ISO 9000 for instance, The Planet of Paperwork. A Kafkaesque nightmare of sentient filing cabinets and BDSM lawyers. Traverse mountains and mountains of TPS reports and rejected vacation requests in order to reach the exit which withdraws further and further away from you. Symbolism!

7. Flat Zone - Super Smash Bros.

Speaking of Kafkaesque nightmare lands, Flat Zone in the Super Smash Bros. series features the colorful roster of Nintendo stalwarts doing battle in the soulless 2D, 2-bit plane of an old fashioned Game & Watch. If you don't know what that is, think of it as the precursor to the Gameboy, but with only game pre-loaded and about the size of a small calculator.

The stage is the home of Mr. Game & Watch, the terrifying black silhouette haunting SSB with his ominous black bell and awful shield. Don't let the cutesy graphics fool you, Flat Zone is the purgatory of obsolete hand-held hardware and if you stay too long within its confines, you might not be able to leave.

6. Raptor News Network - DmC: Devil May Cry

Okay, fine, this selection is a bit of a cheat because its just a stage for a boss fight, but the Raptor News Network of 2011's DmC: Devil May Cry deserved a spot on this list for giving you a chance to beat the crap out of a Bill O'Reilly knock-off inside of a Fox News style graphic.

Say what you will about the rest of the game and its edgelord protagonist, fighting trash mobs inside cable news-style helicopter footage was pretty hype.

5. Land of a Thousand Fables - The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine

The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt has been lauded from all quarters for being the darkest, grittiest, most mature fantasy game to come out of the post-Soviet malaise of Eastern Europe.

However, CD Projekt RED turned that distinction on its head in the game's Blood and Wine expansion, where Geralt of Rivia finds himself trapped in a fairy tale dimension populated by smarmy versions of beloved characters like a hung over Big Bad Wolf and a drug dealing "Little Flint Girl."

However, before you think the idea is a little too cutesy, you do get to fight ravenous unicorns and the tortured ghost of Rapunzel.

4. Steamy Bathhouse - Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4

Considering the Persona series takes place largely in the subconscious of hormonal Japanese teens, there's no shortage of strange levels to be found.

However, when the Persona 4 gang dive into subconcious of tough, leather-clad biker Kanji, they discover a sexually-confused young man terrified that everything he thought about himself was wrong. It just happens that this sexual confusion takes the form of a 10-level sauna populated by monster wrestlers.

Oh, and Kanji's "Shadow Form" runs around in a towel speaking with a cringe-worthy lisp.

3. Upside Down Castle - Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is one of the best remembered games of the series for its interesting RPG elements, playing as Dracula's half-vampire son Alucard and its innovative level design.

Featuring one of the craziest twists in gaming history, halfway through the game, just when it seems victory is in your hands, a demon inverts the castle and you have to go back through the entire game upside down.

2. Nude Raiden - Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

Picking out weird sections in the Metal Gear is like picking needles out of a needle stack: it's really, really easy.

Less of a level than a segment, nevertheless the sequence in Metal Gear Solid 2 where Raiden is taken captive and has to escape completely naked takes the cake.

No one is quite sure why the Sons of Liberty felt the need to strip their most dangerous foe completely nude. Were they concerned about hidden weapons? Was it a humiliation tactic? Was it Kojima's misguided attempt to bring in more female players?

The answer has been lost to time, but never forget that this is a thing that happened in a Triple A release.

1. Meat Circus - Psychonauts

Tim Schafer's Psychonauts could easily fill every entry on this list, however we decided to limit it to the game's final level: the Meat Circus. True to its name, the stage is a circus made out of meat and features a bone trapeze, steak platforms and mangled Bunny Demons.

On top of being absolutely grotesque, the Meat Circus had the distinction of being the hardest level in the game, with a half-way impossible escort mission and reflex-testing platforming sections. Oh yeah, you had limited lives to do it all in.

Honorable Mention: Nightmare of Mensis - Bloodborne

The final area in From Software's Bloodborne, the Nightmare of Mensis, isn't that weird on the surface — apart from being the collective dream of a cult of eldritch sorcerers who wear tall cages on their heads.

However, when you start to think about Bloodborne's strong themes around birth and reproduction, then suddenly the "School of Mensis" (re: menses) and the fact that the map is shaped roughly like the female reproductive system take on a whole new meaning.

Oh yeah, and there's a disgusting brain monster hanging from a castle that drives you insane from across the area that you can mercy kill.

What do you think? Were there any bizarre levels we missed? Chime in on Twitter or Facebook!

Sasha Erfanian is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

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