The holidays may be over, but the snow keeps falling and the temperatures are still way too cold for comfort. So what better way to warm up during these cold winter months than taking a stroll through some of your favorite fire levels? These places will heat you right up!
What makes a good fire level? Pools of lava, volcanoes, flames licking at your heels… fire levels are imminently dangerous and tricky to navigate. They’re often designated as the final area of a game, or at least near the end of the game, due to how dangerous they can be.
Can you take the heat?
10. Flame Man’s Stage – Mega Man 6
The cool thing about Flame Man’s stage is that the fire comes solely from the enemies. The stage takes place on an oil field, with pools of oil stretching throughout the level and platforms to jump above it. You can run around in the oil all you want, but make sure there are no enemies nearby.
If an enemy’s flames hit any part of the oil pools, the entire pool will erupt and kill you! But if you’re careful, you can probably kill all the enemies in the level before they can ignite the oil, leaving you with a fire level that essentially has no fire in it.
9. Hell – Spelunky
The Hell levels of Spelunky were once like a myth to me.
As if beating the game normally wasn’t hard enough, in order to access Hell, you have to beat the final boss, Olmec, after acquiring a long list of items throughout the entire game. Once you finally make it into Hell, you’re in for the challenge of your life! Demons, imps, succubi, vampires, and magma men are all trying to kill you, while deadly traps like lava pits and spiked ball-and-chains are around every corner. Then you must face off against King Yama, the ruler of the underworld!
I’m a little ashamed to admit that I’ve never actually beaten Hell myself. I’ve made it there several times now, and I even made it to King Yama’s lair once, but one of his henchmen kicked me in the face before I could fight him. It’s one of my personal goals to beat Hell in Spelunky at least once.
8. Barrel Volcano – Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
After visiting the cloud kingdom of Nimbus Land, Mario and friends go searching for the next star piece by jumping into a volcano. Literally. You actually fall off of a cloud and land directly in the heart of Barrel Volcano. Talk about an exhilarating sky dive!
Once inside the volcano, you’ll be fighting tough enemies, jumping carefully around hot magma, and facing off against the Czar Dragon, a formidable boss who comes back to life as a skeleton. You can also stay at an inn run by a weird Toad named Hinopio, who makes you sleep on a pile of wooden crates. Who runs an inn inside of an active volcano, anyway?
But the main reason Barrel Volcano made this list is because of the second boss fight which takes place as you’re exiting the volcano. The Axem Rangers are, without question, the best boss in the game. They steal the star piece you earned from beating the Czar Dragon and escape to the rim of the volcano, where you fight them after jumping onto their airship, Blade. They’re a parody of the Power Rangers, and they’re hilarious! “We fight for evil! We live for disorder! We like what we do! We struggle for chaos! We are… the Axem Rangers!”
7. Create a Bonfire – We Love Katamari
In We Love Katamari, there’s a level where you roll a fireball around a campsite, engulfing everything around you in flames as the fireball grows larger and more powerful. That may sound sinister, but your goal is actually quite charming. You’re just trying to create a nice, big bonfire for everyone to sit around so they can relax and sing songs! I’d say that’s worth destroying an entire campsite over, right? Plus, you get to hear this nice little acoustic tune whenever you succeed.
6. Solar – Star Fox 64
One of the coolest levels in Star Fox 64 has the crew flying around a star called Solar, the surface of which is composed entirely of an ocean of molten lava. You’ll have to maneuver around waves of lava undulating right towards you while you try to stay as far from the surface as possible to keep your Arwing from overheating. Then you have to fight the boss, a colossal beast with scythe-like arms that lurks in the lava, making more and more waves to try and take you down.
Solar is almost too hot for the Star Fox crew to handle (especially Slippy), but they still manage to keep cool and fly to victory!
5. Lost City – Shovel Knight
Lost City is Mole Knight’s stage. He resides in an underground cavern of stalactites, ancient ruins, and cascading magma, as well as some weird green goo that turns the magma into a Flubber-like substance that you can bounce on. It’s a neat way to incorporate the shovel-bouncing mechanic into a fire level. There’s also these giant, magma-dwelling Hercules beetles that you can ride around on, which are just the coolest!
Plus, Mole Knight is a pretty awesome boss. He digs around underground, bursting forth from the walls at ridiculous speeds, and shoots lava out of his head like a volcano. To be fair, though, every member of the Order of No Quarter is pretty awesome.
4. Gourmand Land – Rayman Origins
Gourmand Land is an area of two distinct, clashing environments. One part is a frozen glacier of cocktail delights, while the other part is a fiery inferno of ovens and spicy foods. The fire levels of Gourmand Land are inhabited by fire-breathing dragon chefs, and filled to the brim with earthenware pottery, stone ovens, chili peppers, bowls of spices, and other hot things. It’s like running through an intensely hot Mexican kitchen.
I hear the dragon chefs can whip up some legendary chilaquiles!
3. Iron Keep – Dark Souls II
The Souls series has always had really cool fire levels. Stonefang Tunnel and Lost Izalith were some particularly treacherous locations, but my favorite has to be Iron Keep from Dark Souls II.
Seeing Iron Keep for the first time was breathtaking; a grand iron fortress surrounded by lava, with an orange, cloudy sky above. The area looks formidable, and it’s definitely no cake walk. Be prepared for a volley of arrows from the Alonne knights lurking around every corner. And good luck grabbing those chests sitting on the hardened lava, taunting you to try and open them. Too bad there’s no Orange Charred Ring this time around!
Plus, the bosses in Iron Keep provide great fights. Smelter Demon is one of the most difficult bosses in the game, providing a fierce challenge while also being a fun fight based on reflexes and speed. The Old Iron King is a little easier to take down, but the fight against him is impressive nonetheless, watching him emerge from the lava as he proceeds to pummel you with fists and fire. It’s a much better final area boss than the Dragon God or the Bed of Chaos, anyway…
2. Norfair – Super Metroid
Norfair is possibly the coolest-looking area in Super Metroid. It’s a sweltering cavern of magma, which Samus cannot comfortably traverse without the Varia Suit to withstand the temperatures. The area is home to some nasty aliens which dwell in the extreme environment, including the super creepy eight-eyed boss, Crocomire, who is curiously killed by falling into the magma (perhaps it has some acidic properties).
The best part is Ridley’s Lair in Lower Norfair, a fiery, alien temple that looks as if you’ve descended into the depths of Hell itself. Plus, who doesn’t love Ridley? He’s just an awesome boss!
Norfair also gave birth to one of my favorite stages in Super Smash Bros., although everyone else seems to hate it, haha.
1. Fire Temple – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Fire Temple in Ocarina of Time will always be the first thing that comes to mind for me when thinking about fire levels in games. The temple resides beneath the volcanic Death Mountain, and the temperatures inside are so hot that Link will quickly perish without the proper equipment. It’s riddled with lava pits, flamethrowers, geysers, and enemies like bats, slugs, and skulls that are all on fire. Not to mention the final boss is a gigantic, flying fire dragon!
I think they reached a perfect level of difficulty when designing the Fire Temple. None of the puzzles are so obtuse that they become frustrating (I’m looking at you, Water Temple), but it’s not going to be a walk in the park, either. It’s also satisfying once you figure out what to do, and you get to smash that giant pillar with your hammer and watch it fall down into the lava below. It’s easily one of the most memorable fire levels in videogames.
Lethal Lava Land – Super Mario 64. I can never not fall into the lava while playing this level!
Amazonia – Twisted Metal 2. In Amazonia, you duke it out with Minion, a demon driving a tank that rises out of the lava.
The Escape – Aladdin. As a kid, I could never beat this game because of this level!
Volcano – Pokémon Snap. You get to bump Charmeleon into a lava pool and watch it evolve into Charizard to get its revenge. Sorry, Charmeleon!
Flame Mammoth’s Stage – Mega Man X. You can actually freeze this place over by beating Chill Penguin first. Nifty!
Fire Spring – EarthBound. Watch out for those Soul Consuming Flames!
What are some of your favorite fire levels? Let us know in the comments!