A video game's opening stage or starter zone has an extremely important role: it sets the tone for the rest of the game. Getting it right is essential. Below, we've collected some of the best-looking and most iconic starting zones, first stages and opening missions.

Green Hill Zone in Sonic

Central Highway in Mega Man X

Welcome to Rapture in BioShock


Contra III Stage 1

Metal Slug Mission 1


City 17 in Half-Life 2

Make Eggs, Throw Eggs in Yoshi's Island


Comix Zone Chapter 1

Ikaruga Stage 1


Post your picks for the most intense, best made and most beautiful first levels below with visual support.

sources: SEGA Wiki, ThePressStartProject, BioShock Wiki, Primeevi's LP, Gustavo Costa's LP, SectorW, Ericthestickman, VideoGamerParadox, kirgeez