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Ah, Hub Worlds. The little area in games that connect every level together. It’s surprisingly easy to take this areas for granted, and many people don’t even realize how important they are until they play a game without them. Would a Super Mario 64 without Peach’s Castle be as magical? Would a Spyro 2 without Summer Forest have that same awe?
Well, I think it’s finally time to give these levels their due! No one per franchise rule, just gushing about the best of the best. This list will include mild spoilers for Dark Souls and Silent Hill 4: The Room, so if you have plans to play either of those unspoiled stop reading here.
For those of you left, lets cut the chit chat and get this started!
Firelink Shrine (Dark Souls)
The great thing about Firelink Shrine is that you don’t even know its a hub until you’re about a fourth of the way through the game. Every major area has a ‘link’ (No Pun Intended) back to Firelink Shrine, which saves you a lot of unnecessary tears of frustration. Taking the elevator from the Parish or climbing into the sewers from the Depths, Firelink Shrine was one of the only places in Dark Souls where you could feel safe. Well, at least until the flame goes out.
Lego Hogwarts (Lego Harry Potter)
Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 is a bit of a buggy mess at times, but what made it worth playing was the absolutely brilliant hub world. Every single chapter is accessed through this large magic castle, and with new characters you can find new secrets. If you don’t want to tackle the game’s campaign, you can tackle side challenges to get gold bricks and new characters. While other Harry Potter games such as Chamber of Secrets for PC are better overall games, the magic of Hogwarts really shines in this one.
Grunty’s Lair (Banjo Kazooie)
Yes, this is an obvious and somewhat obligatory answer to ‘Best Videogame Hub World’. Grunty’s Lair had steep competition with Peach’s Castle for best N64 hub, but I personally prefer this mountainside cave. The theme of Grunty’s Lair is what really sells it, honestly sounding much more exciting than ‘Inside the Castle Walls’ from Super Mario 64.
Delfino Plaza (Super Mario Sunshine)
Many people may prefer Peach’s Castle, and while I can fully see why, I’ve always been more of a Delfino Plaza guy. I can’t really explain why, but I just prefer tropical settings over almost any other. Just running around a picturesque island resort is one of my favorite memories of the good ol’ Gamecube. It’s just a shame this colorful paradise was dulled for Smash Bros Brawl.
Room 302 (Silent Hill 4: The Room)
Normally, a hub is a safe haven. For a good portion of Silent HIll 4, this is true for Room 302. It isn’t until later in the game where weird things will start happening. The faucet will spray blood. Cracks will appear in his bedroom walls. His shoes will move, tracking bloody footprints into the kitchen. Not even the hub world is safe from the cosmic horrors of Silent Hill, and that’s what makes Room 302 so great.
Lego Island (Lego Island 2)
Lego Island 2 is my childhood. No, it was not my first PC game, but it’s the one I spent the most time in. I was horrible at the main minigames, so I spent most of my time just strolling around the titular island and just having a blast. I can’t even begin to tell you how many hours of my childhood were spent on this island, and even though I haven’t played the game in years, I can still remember the Island like the back of my hand.
Rogueport (Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door)
Rogueport is just fantastic. Every single inch of this seaside town is pure genius, from the turf wars in East Rogueport to the Mafia’s lair in West Rogueport. It’s really a slimy place, and you can tell from the music, the visuals, and the sidequests inside. You can be robbed by a Bandy Andy, mugged by Gus the guardsman, or encounter a chalk outline of a toad in a house. Yeah…
Aside from the atmosphere, the music is just brilliant. Hey, I called it the best Paper Mario Song of all time in my previous blog, and I still will stick to my guns with that. It’s the best out there, and maybe the best Mario song to boot.