Super Mario 64 was the very first 3D Mario game. It had the challenge of reinventing the series by creating many new locations in an entirely new perspective. The end result included 15 full worlds, 3 boss worlds, and a few small side worlds.
The DS remake fixed some issues that some worlds in the original had, while also adding a few additional stages, but most of them are very small. This list will highlight the best stages in Mario 64 while taking into consideration both versions of the game.
10 Tick Tock Clock
Most stages in Mario 64 have a more or less static world. Tick Tock Clock is completely different, however. The hour and minute hands of the clock move in the hub world. The hands inside the stage will move at a different speed depending on where the hands were pointing when Mario jumped inside. This can make the world easier or harder depending on when the player chose to enter.
Despite this interesting concept, the stage had some issues. Tick Tock Clock contained a lot of locations where falling once would result in instant death in the original Nintendo 64 version. The DS remake fixed this by adding a large platform at the bottom that can give players an extra chance to climb back up. This improved the world, but it is still a very vertical world that is easy to fall down.
9 Princess Secret Slide
Out of all the small secret worlds, this is one of the easiest to find and complete. The Princess Secret Slide is located in a stained-glass room near the start of the game, and it can be completed in less than 30 seconds.
There are only two stars in this world compared to the seven that full-sized worlds have. It’s a simple and fun beginner course with little to complain about other than its size being small. If there was more to do here it would be higher, but as-is it’s a solid secret location.
8 Goomboss Battle
Goomboss Battle is a world exclusive to the DS remake. It is an eerie forest filled with poison. There are only two stars here, so it is considered a small world, but it is actually similar to most normal-sized worlds.
Goomboss is a new boss fight designed around Yoshi’s unique tongue and egg-growing mechanics. Defeating him will give players the ability to play as Mario. This location also contains a Red Coin Star.
7 Whomp’s Fortress
Whomp’s Fortress is one of the earlier worlds in Mario 64. The layout is much more random than most levels, but that doesn’t make it poorly designed from a gameplay perspective. Most jumps are forgiving, and it’s filled with unique obstacles.
This stage is a shining example of what makes speed running Mario 64 popular. The Shoot into the Wild Blue, Fall onto the Caged Island, and Blast Away the Wall stars can all be obtained faster than normal by using precise movement and glitches.
6 Wet Dry World
Wet Dry World is one of Mario 64’s three main water worlds, but it manages to stand out from the others by having players raise and lower the water level. Some parts of the map become easier to reach when the water is high, while a few stars are only available when the water is low.
The most interesting part of this world is a flooded city section hidden behind a cage in the corner. Not many Mario 64 worlds have buildings, so an entire town being at the bottom of the ocean gives a very mystical feeling. The sky box is a little hard to see in this level, but it is an entire city sitting at the bottom of the ocean.
5 Big Boo’s Haunt
Big Boo’s Haunt is a haunted mansion filled with ghosts, traps, and surprises around every turn. From a merry-go-round in the basement to a living piano, this stage has many rooms that make it very memorable.
This stage has a few problems, such as the slippery roof making it difficult to climb up to a star that spawns in an awkward location, but the atmosphere makes up for it. The remake even fixes some of these issues by adding a new.power-up to at lets Mario float up to the star.
4 Jolly Roger Bay
Water levels in video games often get a lot of hate due to underwater movement being less fun. Nearly a fifth of the worlds in Mario 64 are water themed, making it easy for the levels to bleed together, but they do actually manage to feel distinct.
Jolly Roger Bay begins on a secluded beach with a light fog that hangs over the water. There’s a sunken ship, an eel that became well known for terrifying kids, and a small cave area that all make it very memorable compared to the other water levels. Unlike Dire Dire Docks, it doesn’t suffer from slow sections. It’s very easy to get from one side of the map to the other.
3 Cool Cool Mountain
Snow levels in video games often contain slippery ice, but Cool Cool Mountain doesn’t contain ice physics. Instead, it has slopes that Mario can slide down. The spawn point is near the very top, so the slippery mountainside makes it fun to get down.
There is another snow world in Mario 64 called Snowman Land, but its layout is more basic. It’s mostly flat except for the Snowman in the center. Cool Cool Mountain’s slides, bridges, small cliffs, and more simply have more to offer.
2 Bobomb Battlefield
Bobomb Battlefield is the very first world that players are introduced to. It’s a simple grassy field level, but that’s actually what makes it so good. It’s a relatively easy level with no major downside. There’s no instant death endless pits, and it doesn’t take forever to cross.
The worst thing that can be said about this stage is how basic it is, but even then it still has great points of interest, such as the twisted mountain, floating island, and the Chainchomp’s yard. Bobomb Battlefield is simply an all around well-designed level.
1 Lethal Lava Land
Lava worlds are often saved for the finale of video games — especially in the Mario series. Lethal Lava Land is the rare exception. It is a course in the middle of the game. Additionally, the lava isn’t an instant game over like it is in other Mario games.
Lethal Lava Land has some challenging parts, but nothing too difficult. It is a well-designed course that is easy to get around. The Bowser puzzle board, active volcano that can be jumped into to reach a separate location, and being able to ride a Koopa Shell to surf around the map make it a very charming and iconic world.