Let’s kick things off with one of the granddaddies of awesome fire and lava levels. It doesn’t really matter which entry in the FPS series you’re playing, you’ll still find yourself mowing down countless demonic denizens, eventually stepping foot into that fire-filled dimension yourself.
Each rendition is filled with multiple passages, deadly pools of lava, bursting flames, and, of course, demons. It took shooters to the next level. While so many were busy dealing with aliens, Doom gave us a much more ancient foe and let us duke it out surrounded by flames.
Melty Molten Galaxy (Super Mario Galaxy)
The Super Mario series has brought players some of the most creative levels in all of video games, so it shouldn’t be surprising to see one of Mario’s best outings: Super Mario Galaxy. Melty Molten Galaxy is as lava-filled as you’d probably imagine with a name like that.
Avoiding steam vents, jumping over rivers of liquid fire, dodging eruptions and and blasting between islands is loads of fun. The intricate obstacles and unique enemies keep the action fresh, and for a second you may even forget that one false move will leave you burning in a horrible death.
I hope you’ve been practicing your balance, because using a ball to get across a moving obstacle level is not the easiest task.
Magic Carpet Lava Run (Aladdin)
One of the most challenging video game levels on the SNES, this side scrolling depiction of what hell would most likely be in the Disney universe is absolutely amazing. Moving obstacles are usually nothing as long as you’re on your trusty Magic Carpet but oh, just in case you forgot, there’s a huge wall of lava chasing after you.
The music in the background of this level doesn’t help matters either, as it ensured that the intensity of the situation never died down, not even for a moment. You had to masterfully navigate your way through this hazardous obstacle course or find yourself forgotten in a wave of flames.
If you’re going to fight Diablo himself, you may need to end up taking a trip or two to his world. Hell in the Diablo series is a lot more serious than it is anywhere else. Here you will see endless torment as demons writhe in agony, creatures burst from hiding, and flames rise from the ground as if they were alive.
While you won’t be able to fall into a pit in the new game, plenty of traps scattered around will make sure you feel the burn of the lava around this world. Navigating hell in these games requires vigilance and some really powerful gear, or else you may as well get used to the location because the evils will not let you leave.
Lava Reef Zone (Sonic & Knuckles)
Sonic has been through a lot. He’s had to hold his breath in ancient underwater ruins, infiltrate an airship while the wind blows him away, get tossed around by pinball machines, and much more. You would think Sega would cut the fastest hero in their lineup some slack. But of course, now that he’s proved he can run on water, how about some lava to really test how quick he is?
Once this level’s amazing music sets in and you find yourself ready, you’re thrust into a world full of lavafalls, breaking platforms, missile attacks, tight jumps, and plenty of falls. It all comes to a head in act two as you fight on top of a shifting lake, avoiding mines tossed out by Dr. Eggman. Perfect utilization of heat and some technical mastery make this one of the greatest gaming levels ever to have used fire and lava.
Iron Keep (Dark Souls II)
The Iron Keep is an area built seemingly to make Dark Souls II even harder. One of gaming’s biggest challenges gets an extra push towards the extreme with moving platforms, terrible enemies, powerful bosses, and more threats than you could ever hope to survive. Why is this area so full of fire and lava?
Well if the intimidating structure of the Iron Keep wasn’t enough to keep you away, how about the thought that it is so heavy that it is actually sinking into the lava beneath its foundation? Yeah.
It’s more than just temperature that earned the Iron Keep a spot on this list, though. Its intricate design requires care while moving about and platforming. The way you fight must also be adjusted so that you don’t send yourself hurtling into an embarrassing death.
Solar (Star Fox 64)
Flying around in an Arwing is pretty badass. Pulling off barrel rolls and blasting fools as you fly through space is also pretty exciting, but everything gets even crazier when you throw in a bit of heat.
Solar keeps the pressure on by keeping the heat up and slowly sapping your life. If you thought the constant heat was bad enough, throw in plumes of fire, huge waves, molten rocks and a nonstop influx of dangerous enemies. It’s also amusing to hear Slippy complain, as if that was anything new.
Either way, this proves to be one of the most intense segments of Star Fox 64 thanks to great design and tons of red.
Hailfire Peaks (Banjo-Tooie)
It’s pretty interesting how one of the greatest fire and lava levels in gaming is half ice. That’s exactly what you get with Hailfire Peaks in Banjo-Tooie. On one side you have snowy slopes, slippery ice floors, and other cold things to deal with. But that all changes once you cross over to the Lava Side.
Huge stone structures, an active volcano, and tons of obstacle to overcome on foot or in flight. Oh, and there are dragons you have to fight. Actual dragons. Banjo-Tooie took a turn for the more dangerous when designing this fiery platforming masterpiece, and we will be forever grateful.
Dodongo Cavern (Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
Poor Link, one of gaming’s most beloved silent protagonists has to go through some serious obstacles in order to save Hyrule. You would think having to wield a sword as a young child would be enough, but no. The developers felt like throwing a bit of lava into the mix.
That’s exactly what happens in Dodongo Cavern when Link tries to obtain the Spiritual Stone of Fire.There’s not only lava within a temple, but tons of lizard enemies roaming about wanting nothing more than to push you in. Oh, and mind the explosions. What’s deadly gaming without lava and explosions.
Lethal Lava Land (Super Mario 64)
Mario can do anything. Seriously, it doesn’t matter what obstacle you give him, he’s going to get through it. Ice levels? Check. Castles? Check? Huge lakes of lava and fire with floating platforms, enemies, and tricky traversal mechanics? Yeah, he can handle that too.
Lethal Lava Land was the mustachioed hero’s first foray into 3D volcano navigation. Jumping over things in 2D was easy, but with new threats and physics, this was a welcome challenge.
You will have to balance on a rolling log, solve puzzles, and manage tipping platforms that will dip a non-careful player right into lava. Enemies here are a bit different as well, as they want nothing more than to push you off of platforms into the deathly liquid around you. Ah the Bullies, you proved to be the most headstrong of enemies.
What are some of your favorite fiery levels?
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