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Everyone knows that water levels are an abomination. They’re completely unnatural, and they usually make no sense in the context of the game.
Why would game developers create water levels when the game’s main character can’t breathe underwater? I’ll answer that for you: to torture gamers around the world. Let’s review some of these terrible water levels that you’ve probably ragequit over.
1. Water Temple (Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
You either love or hate Ocarina of Time‘s Water Temple—there’s really no in between. If you played the virtual console version on the Wii U or Nintendo 3DS, you probably didn’t face as much frustration. However, gamers who’ve played it on the original system experienced all the quirks that come with using an N64.
The Water Temple is exactly what it sounds like: a temple filled with water. You can’t enter without your iron boots, as you must use these to sink to the bottom of the water within the temple. If that doesn’t sound annoying enough, please note that this level contains several different water-filled floors that you have to find a way to access.
You can’t just stroll into each room. Instead, you’ll have to complete puzzles and change water levels several times in order to enter all the essential parts of the temple.
2. Clanker’s Cavern (Banjo-Kazooie)
When you reminisce about your Banjo-Kazooie days, Clanker’s Cavern probably isn’t one of the levels that you remember fondly. It takes place in a sewer filled with (surprisingly clean) water.
Unfortunately, you won’t find a Zora Tunic laying around in this game, so you’ll have to stay underwater for a limited amount of time. You have six air bubbles that deplete the longer you stay underwater. When the bubbles run out, you die, which makes it especially hard to reach distant underwater areas.
Let’s not forget about Clanker, the poor mechanical shark/whale creature who serves as Gruntilda’s garbage disposal. You’ll actually have to enter Clanker towards the end of the level if you want to collect all the jiggies.
3. Aquas (Starfox 64)
Landing on Aquas gives you a much different Star Fox experience—instead of piloting the Arwing, you’ll man the Blue-Marine submarine.
In this notoriously annoying level, General Pepper orders the Star Fox team to visit Aquas after finding out that its population of sea creatures has been mutated into vicious monsters. Since Aquas is covered entirely with water, there’s no hiding from these creatures.
The level doesn’t seem so bad at first. You have unlimited torpedos that you can launch at nearby enemies. As soon as you reach the darker part of the level, you’ll probably regret your life choices. You’d think that the Blue Marine comes with built-in headlights. However, that’s not the case—you can only use your torpedos to light the path ahead.
4. Labyrinth Zone (Sonic the Hedgehog)
Sonic the Hedgehog is the last game that you’d think would have an underwater level. Since Sonic can’t run very fast in water, then what’s the purpose of having him swim?
The Labyrinth Zone consists of solid platforms separated by pools of water. Sonic must traverse the treacherous waters, avoiding swinging maces, deadly sea creatures, and sharp spikes. You’ll also have to keep an eye out for air bubbles, which prevents Sonic from running out of oxygen. You’ll come up for air on occasion, but you’ll need to remember to pick up those bubbles when you see them.
It’ll take you awhile to complete this level. Not only will you drown several times, but Sonic’s sluggish speed won’t make the level go by any quicker.
5. Atlantica (Kingdom Hearts 2)
Kingdom Heart‘s Atlantica might take place in the world of The Little Mermaid, but it still doesn’t inspire a feeling of cheeriness. After Donald Duck uses his wizardry to transform Sora into a mermaid, you land in Atlantica, only to find out that swimming requires different (and more awkward) controls than walking.
The wonky controls coupled with that dreaded loop of “Under the Sea” is enough to make you lose your patience and your sanity. To make matters worse, you later gain the ability called “mermaid kick.” While this speedy move may seem like an improvement, it actually makes your gaming experience even more terrible. You can easily slip up and press the wrong button, which triggers the mermaid kick and propels you into disaster.
You’ll gain the mermaid kick after defeating Ursula for the first time. The second battle actually gets harder with the globally hated addition of the mermaid kick.
Water Levels Are Nowhere Near Refreshing
No one likes water levels, and I doubt that anyone ever will. Unless there’s some kind of water level revolution, they’ll continue to remain as a sad excuse for a decent addition to a game.
You might’ve noticed that I failed to mention the Dam Level from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Although the Dam Level could’ve easily made this list, I included it on another article outlining the hardest video game levels of all time—so check that out if you’re interested!