Top 10 Best Levels in Shadow the Hedgehog

If you didn't already know I really like the game Shadow the Hedgehog, and the game has many great levels (with a few exceptions). Whether it's due to the missions being fun, the design being unique, or just being a blast to romp through here are the levels I consider the best.

Feel free to add any others as it was tricky for me to only include 10.
The Top Ten
1 Sky Troops

Seeing the factions in this going to war, jumping between the sections on a mech, flying on a black hawk through a storm - this stage breathes spectacle and it results in one of (if not) the best stages in the game.

This level has it all. Fast paced running, platforming, vehicle sections, a blend of large and small enemies, the works. The Hero mission involves taking out the 5 power jewels that keep the temple floating, and the Dark mission involves taking out 5 of Eggman's ships (yeah, ironically Eggman is the Hero in this scenario). The platforming sections with the walker are really fun as is the bit where the weather turns stormy and you have to ride on a Black Hawk to get across to the other side. All of this is backed by an awesome music track as well.
Just an all round fun level.

2 Lava Shelter

This level is perfection. Branching pathways, an interesting level gimmick of the rising lava and a S-Tier soundtrack to cap it off.

Eggman's final stronghold lies in un underground bunker with pools of lava that is an insta-kill. The Hero mission involves you and OMEGA getting the chaos emerald, but the Dark mission is where things get interesting. You have to activate all 5 of Eggman's volcanic defense machines that cause the lava to rise, this makes going through the level more tricky as the platforms disappear under the lava. This forces you to adapt and play the level in a different way than you had to do before, also the A rank is one of the more challenging ones.

3 Final Haunt

Another level where the route you take depends on what mission you do. The Hero mission involves you and Sonic getting to Black Doom (not to mention Sonic comes useful in defeating bigger enemies), and the Dark mission has you activating force-fields which alternate the paths to take and block you from doing the Hero mission.
Alongside treacherous areas and a unique gimmick involving the vacuum gun this level ranks as one of the most memorable of the lot.

4 Air Fleet

A level taking place in a floating GUN Air fortress where the President is making his evacuation. The Hero mission has you and Tails taking out all the Black Aliens, the Dark mission has you taking out the President's flagship. His flagship ain't no regular enemy as it's built like a tank. It'll take a lot of bullets to bring that thing down. What makes this mission so fun is it provides a lot of challenge, some good secret areas with plenty of ammunition and it puts a lot of your platforming skills to the test.

5 The Last Way

The very last mission in the game involves Shadow chasing down Black Doom. Similar in design to Final Haunt this level is just as perilous with many tricky enemies along the way. There are certain areas where you can't progress but with an infinite number of enemies you have to kill enough to fill up your hero gauge and use Chaos Control. The stages music is also epic and really emphasises a race against time.

6 Mad Matrix

One of two cyberspace themed levels, Mad Matrix is in my eyes the more unique one. The Hero mission involves you and Espio activating all of the power terminals which can be found in the Blue, Yellow, Green and Red towers. The Dark mission involves travelling round the circuits that connect the towers and destroying all 30 of the bombs (it's easier once you realise the circuits are in perfect symmetry with one another). The only real annoying thing is if you're doing Espio's mission you can't defeat any of Eggman's robots, he keeps trying to imply that it's a stealth mission.
One of the game's most non-linear levels and with an attractive colour aesthetic this stage is indeed a memorable one.

7 Lethal Highway

Of all the city levels I like this one the best. The Dark mission involves escaping the city and grabbing the Chaos Emerald, and the Hero mission involves you and Sonic chasing down the Black Alien's spaceship and shooting it down. This is one of the levels that best implements the speed, and it's more hazardous and interactive than something like City Escape. This is also the only level (to the best of my knowledge) that has the bike (which is pretty much useless). The other great thing about this level is the music which perfectly compliments the speed of the stage with it's funky guitar groove.

8 Space Gadget

A level aboard the Space Colony Ark. The Hero mission involves racing Sonic to the Chaos Emerald (if you want to do the Normal mission you have to lose to him on purpose), and the Dark mission involves taking a slightly different route to take down 6 of the Ark's defense units. What makes this level interesting is the constant switching of gravity, one of my personal favourite platforming mechanics if done right. You might have a hard time trying to find your footing (or head for that matter), but once you get around that this level is loads fun.

9 Circus Park

This level takes place in Eggman's carnival based theme park (what is that guy's obsession with theme parks? ). The Hero mission involves you and Tails collecting 400 rings, an ordeal that would've been hell in the previous games, but here getting hit only takes away 10 rings as opposed to all of them, and there are more than enough opportunities to get rings what with balloon mini-games and rings of fire. The Dark mission is where you assist Eggman in taking out all the GUN soldiers.
This mission very much feels like a breather level where you can just have some fun and games, and it's not too frustrating, though ironically it's one of the tougher levels on Expert mode.

10 Glyphic Canyon

An interestingly designed level. The Hero mission involves you and Knuckles taking out all the Black Aliens (though there are extra ones if you find all the secret keys), and the Dark mission involves touching all the power jewels to bring the temple to life. Pretty standard missions, but there are good instances of running fast through loops and the tornado blowing you off to another section of the level as well as chucking debris at you very much reminded me of Windy Valley from 'Sonic Adventure'.
It's a nice well rounded level despite it's linearity.

The Contenders
11 Prison Island

Getting to go back and explore this area again after the explosion in SA2 was cool. The rivers of toxic waste were kinda challenging to navigate but fun.

The unique presentation of this stage and the branching pathways means revisiting this stage is always fun.

12 G.U.N Fortress

The atmosphere and vibe of this level are a flawless way to finish the pure dark route. The branching paths for the two missions, along with the swarms of enemies, makes for an interesting stage.

13 Cryptic Castle
14 Lost Impact

The whole flashback idea and getting to explore the ARK was pretty cool. The aesthetic design of this level was cool too (I'm thinking the green transport energy beam and the architecture).

15 Westopolis

This level is a decent start to the game. However, it has to be played a minimum of…..TEN. TIMES. If you want to get the true ending to this game, you have to play thorough Westopolis, TEN TIMES! That is nuts. It's not a hard level, but seriously? Why 10 times?

16 Digital Circuit

The fast-pace sections in light-speed circuit are fun and the missions in this level are straight forward enough but with a decent challenge.

Completing the Dark mission in Westopolis brings you to this quirky level, with exciting sections of platforming and fast paced action in the light speed circuits. Avoiding the firewalls to keep hold of rings makes this level extremely unique. Rouge The Bat makes a welcome appearance too!

17 Iron Jungle
18 Cosmic Fall

Extreme is the definition of this level, there is extremely intense music, extremely cinematic platforming, extreme stakes (Honestly the stakes in this level are some of the highest and the stakes are the most personal.) Great game, great level.

19 Devil Doom
20 Death Ruins
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