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It is the final story level in the game, the timer starts at 800 seconds, the stage starts out with items on either side of a red boss door, which leads to the main part of the level, the main part of the level consists of a platform falling down towards the bottom of the keep.
Each section has a platform that is blocked by some stone blocks, a large ! switch must be activated to destroy it, there are 3 of these and will land right on the stone blocks later to be moved again to under these stone blocks.
The first section has some red blocks and bowser statues, if mario stands on any of the red blocks, the statues will breathe fire, it also contains the 1st Star Coin, surrounded by the red blocks, you must jump onto the bowser statur without triggering the statue bowser's fire to obtain the coin without any damage being taken, the first required ! Switch is located at the end.
The second section (pictured) consists of bone fish jumping out of the lava and this room also uses a different version of the lava falls background recolored to match the castle backdrop. There are also some balance rocks in the level which if touched on it can fall over. The 2nd star coin is also found here, by bouncing off the fire bro located between two balance rocks, the 2nd ! Switch required is found at the end and will lead to the third section.
The third section consists of lava rollers rolling around the platforms, the final star coin is located under a platform, you must go under the platform when the lava roller is out of the way to obtain the star coin.
After clearing all 3 sections, you drop down into a room at the bottom of the keep, the halfway checkpoint is found here, there are also 2 items to prepare you for the boss, there is also a large blue boss door, which leads to the boss.
After entering the door, you must navigate through a corridor. bowser will launch fireballs at you. Once you reach bowser, you must pass under him to hit to switch, but this time, hitting the switch will only make a spike ball fall on bowser's head, therefore, you must pass under bowser 3 times to make him fall off. The final phase of the fight consists of you being in a clown car, while chasing down bowsers airship. you must avoid asteriods in the air and bowsers thwomps & hammers. you must also fire canonballs from your clown car to damage bowser, and after hitting him enough times, he will breath a long burst of fire one last time before losing control of his airship, thus defeating bowser.
The level ends with a cutscene, where mario ground pounds on a switch which releases Peach from her cage, the credits will then roll.
Bowser can be defeated quicker with 2+ players, 1 player needs to pass under bowser and hit the switch, and player 2 can stay on the other side, when player 1 hits the switch the switch will appear on the other side, therefore allowing player 2 to hit it. this can be done repeatedly to beat phase 1 of the fight quickly.