Lava Reef Zone (Sonic Mania)

From Sonic Retro

Sonic Retro emblem.svg Sonic Mania
Lava Reef Zone
  • Act 1
  • Act 2
Lava Reef Zone
Tenth Zone, Sonic Mania
Number of Acts: 2
Location: Angel Island
Level themes: lava/volcano, underground/cave, industrial
Sub-boss: Drillerdroid
Boss: Heavy Rider
Alternate boss: Heavy King
Non-English names:
  • JP: ラバーリーフ Rabārīfu
Oil Ocean Zone | Metallic Madness Zone

Lava Reef Zone is the tenth Zone of Sonic Mania, which is based on Lava Reef Zone from Sonic & Knuckles. As of v1.04, this Zone opens with the player riding on the submarine from Oil Ocean Zone at high speed, which then crashes into the lava and sinks.


Act 1 is once again a magma-filled mine-type level with the addition of loops, slopes and extra details to suggest a hazardous mining environment in the vein of Endless Mine such as metal fences and "keep out" signs. By climbing to the top of the stage, the player can now see that the cavern now has an open sky, revealing volcanoes and mountains. There is also a section where one of the upgraded Tunnelbots causes an earthquake that makes the magma slowly rise, forcing the player to climb up to higher ground in a sequence reminiscent of Hill Top Zone.

After defeating the Drillerdroid, the player rides a Spin Dash elevator down to Act 2, which is once again set in a crystal wonderland with flamethrowers and spiky things, along with several elements adapted from Quartz Quadrant such as switchable conveyor belts and the background being reminiscent of that Zone's Good Future. High up in the Zone, the player can see holes in the ceiling that give a glimpse of the night sky as well as the Little Planet, serving as a clue to the next zone.

Like the original Lava Reef, the second Act segues into a "third" Act that's considered part of Act 2, only this time it's set in Hidden Palace Zone. Sonic, Tails, Mighty and Ray take a top entrance (which was originally Knuckles' entrance) that immediately takes them on-board a rocket that lifts off and to the Little Planet, followed by a boss fight against the Heavy Rider. Knuckles however takes a different entrance that leads him through some of Sonic's original level design, eventually reaching the Emerald Shrine where he fights the Heavy King instead. The Emerald Shrine houses not only the Master Emerald, but also the Super Emeralds which are now cracked and completely drained of their power.

Encore Mode

In Encore Mode, Lava Reef Zone appears to have become even hotter, as Act 1 now features reddish palettes and a heat shimmer effect similar to that seen in Sandopolis Zone and in the Hot Mobile's area in the original Zone. Act 2 has the rocks in the background and foreground become a more brownish colour, becoming reminiscent of the Act's original colour scheme from Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Limited Edition prototypes such as Sonic 3C 0408.

Additionally, the player now has the choice of which boss they would like to fight at the end of Act 2, and both bosses can be reached with any character as both routes leading to the bosses have been redesigned to allow all characters to reach them.


Welcome back to Angel Island's active volcano. Things are hotter this time with the volcano fully active following the Death Egg's attack in Sonic & Knuckles. Would be a shame if the volcano were to erupt...

— Theme trailer description[1]


Iwamodoki Mania.png
Iwamodoki — Self-destructing Badniks posing as rocks. From the original Lava Reef Zone.
Fireworm — Caterpillar that shoots fire from its back and has spikes on its belly. From the original Lava Reef Zone.
Toxomister — Smokestack that releases poisonous clouds. From the original Lava Reef Zone.
Rexon — Plesiosaur Badnik. Sits in lava and spits projectiles at the player. Once destroyed, its body can be used as a platform to stand on, and this time the body can be destroyed by the walking platform mechs. From Sonic the Hedgehog 2's Hill Top Zone.

References and Easter eggs

Reference Appears in Source Game Source Level
Wooden Loops and walkways in an underground cave. Act 1 Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Endless Mine
Walking platform mech. Act 1, Act 2 Sonic the Hedgehog CD Metallic Madness
Rexon's appearance. Act 1, Act 2 Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (16-bit) Hill Top Zone
Gushes of lava resembling those seen in Marble Zone. Act 1, Act 2 Sonic the Hedgehog (16-bit) Marble Zone
Tunnelbot's appearance both as an obstacle in Act 1, as in the original Lava Reef Zone, as well as an armored mini-boss. Act 1 Sonic the Hedgehog 3/Sonic & Knuckles Marble Garden Zone/Lava Reef Zone
Falling debris when mini-boss drills into the ground. Act 1 Sonic the Hedgehog 2/Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Mystic Cave Zone/Marble Garden Zone
Internal earthquakes that cause lava to boil and increase its volume thus chasing the player. Act 1 Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (16-bit) Hill Top Zone
Heat shimmers in the background and foreground. Act 1 (Encore) Sonic & Knuckles Sandopolis Zone
Controllable conveyor belts. Act 2 Sonic the Hedgehog CD Quartz Quadrant
An Extra Life monitor is moved along a conveyor belt, and must be collected before it falls off and disappears. Act 2 Sonic the Hedgehog (8-bit) Scrap Brain Zone (8-bit)
Spike ball on chain as the Heavy Rider's weapon, swinging horizontally. Act 2 (Sonic/Tails) Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Marble Garden Zone
Sound effects used by the Heavy Rider. Act 2 (Sonic/Tails) Sonic Spinball
The Motobug used by the Heavy Rider called Jimmy. Act 2 (Sonic/Tails) Polygon Jim/Motobug the Badnik in Sonic the Hedgehog
Heavy Rider's boss arena lifting off into the sky during the fight (as of v1.04). Act 2 (Sonic/Tails) Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Launch Base Zone
Layout recreation of Hidden Palace Zone. Act 2 (Knuckles) Sonic & Knuckles Hidden Palace Zone
Emerald Shrine with the Super Emeralds and the Master Emerald. Act 2 (Knuckles) Sonic & Knuckles Hidden Palace Zone
Knuckles' flashback to the Master Emerald theft scene from Sonic & Knuckles in a comic-style thought bubble. Act 2 (Knuckles) Sonic & Knuckles Hidden Palace Zone
The thought-bubble flashback and the art-style used within. Act 2 (Knuckles) Sonic Mega Drive 1
Master Emerald's power being absorbed by the Heavy King, just like Mecha Sonic in Sky Sanctuary Zone during Knuckles' final boss fight. Act 2 (Knuckles) Sonic & Knuckles Sky Sanctuary Zone
Orb teleporter after completing Act 2 as Knuckles. Act 2 (Knuckles) Sonic & Knuckles Hidden Palace Zone/Sky Sanctuary Zone



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