We earn commission if you purchase items using an affiliate link. We only recommend products we trust. See our affiliate disclosure.
Just like water levels, the lava level is a rite of passage for video games. Almost every game has one—for what reason, I don’t know. It’s not like we have to hop from platform to platform to avoid lava on a daily basis.
Lava levels are typically characterized by an environment made of magma and rock, with lava pits that will instantly kill you. In other words, they’re extremely frustrating. Here are some of the most infuriating lava levels in video game history.
1. Norfair (Super Metroid)
Norfair is one of the most memorable levels in the Metroid series, and even makes an appearance as a stage in several Super Smash Bros games. This fiery cavern lies underground on the planet Zebes. You’ll need the Varia Suit upgrade before you even think about progressing to the blazing Norfair—without it, Samus will die.
Even with the Varia Suit, you’re still not immune to the scorching pools of magma that run underneath the platforms. Norfair houses fire-resistant enemies such as fire lizards as well as the fearsome, multi-eyed crocodile boss, Crocomire.
2. Dodongo’s Cavern (Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
After blasting a hole through a cave in Goron Village, you’ll reach Dodongo’s Cavern (and you’ll probably wish that you never did). Lava runs beneath your feet and even drips down walls. If you touch the magma even in the slightest, your Deku Shield will burn to a crisp, and you’ll take some damage.
Dodongo’s Cavern also contains one of the most annoying enemies in the game: Beamos. Walk into its line of sight, and it’ll trace you with a laser beam. At the end of the fiery level, you’ll have to defeat King Dodongo himself, a monstrous reptilian that spews fire.
3. Lava Lagoon (Donkey Kong Country 2)
In Lava Lagoon, you risk burning alive if you don’t swim through the water fast enough. Boiling hot water flows underneath the platforms, and you must swim in it to get to the other side. The only way to cool the water off is by enlisting the help of Clapper the Seal—just hop on his head for an instant cooldown.
When Clapper cools down the water, make sure you get in and get out quickly, as the water will heat up again shortly. In addition to the risk of falling into boiling water, you’ll also encounter heat-resistant enemies such as Neeks, Klampons, and Click-Clacks.
4. Lava Reef Zone (Sonic & Knuckles)
Unfortunately, the Lava Reef Zone is the lengthiest Zone in any Sonic game on the Genesis. The Lava Reef Zone weaves through a series of mines and lava pits that you’ll have to jump over in order to avoid. Pick up a flame shield, and you can easily defend yourself from fire-based attacks and you won’t take any damage from falling into lava.
When you finally reach the end of the Lava Reef Zone, you’ll meet the boss, Dr. Robotnik. As he emerges out of the lava, he’ll shift the platforms beneath you, and try to make you crash into his machine.
5. Lethal Lava Land (Super Mario 64)
The Lethal Lava Land of Super Mario 64 is synonymous to that childhood game where we used to pretend that the floor is lava. The only way you can complete the course is to hop on one rocky platform to the next, while trying to avoid falling into the pools of magma beneath you.
At the end of the course, you’ll actually have to jump inside of a volcano. There, poor Mario will have to scale poles in order to reach the top. Try not to take a dip into the lava, or you’ll have to start at the beginning of the volcano.
6. Solar (Star Fox 64)
Having to walk through an area made of fire is bad, but flying through it is even worse—this Starfox 64 level takes place on the molten planet Solar. If you happen to fly too close to the planet’s surface, the Arwing’s shield will start to decrease. Swing side to side to avoid the waves of lava, and watch out for any airborne rocks.
Don’t Get Too Fired Up
It’s easy to get frustrated when traversing a land filled with lava. With one misstep, you’ll either die or lose a ton of health. The next time you attempt a lava level, try to remain cool-headed.
For more challenges in gaming, check out the most difficult video games of all time.