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The fireball[1][2] (火の玉[3][4] Hinotama?), also known as the Volcanic Bullet (火山弾[5] Kazan-dan?), is an obstacle that appears in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. It is a fiery ball that can damage playable characters.


Akin to common, generic fire-themed obstacle found in platformer games, the fireballs' appearance in games comes in multiple forms despite being basic a flaming ball. Sometimes, they are simple spherical bullets of fire and other times, they are bubbles of lava/magma. On one occasion, they have even been referred to as orbs that generate a lot of energy.[2]

In gameplay, fireballs can be found in the playable levels, most commonly in the fire theme ones. Here, they usually pop out of lava pools or are being fired from wall cannons in a linear pattern. Should an unprotected playable character make contact with the fireballs, they will take damage. However, the fireballs' effects on the playable characters can be negated with the right Item Box power-ups, or a super transformation. The Flame Shield in particular makes the playable characters immune to fireballs in their entirety.

Game appearances

Sonic the Hedgehog (16-bit)

Fireball cannons in Marble Zone, from Sonic the Hedgehog (16-bit).

In Sonic the Hedgehog (16-bit), fireballs[1] (火の玉[3] Hinotama?) or flying balls of fire[6] appear for the first time in Marble Zone, where they are either found leaping from small lava pools or shot from thin, purple-colored cannons attached to the walls and ceilings in the Zone's interior sections. Similar cannons also appear in Star Light Zone, where they are slightly wider and green-colored.

In gameplay, the fireballs' pattern is linear, as they leap into mid-air and then drop back down into their lava pools to repeat the pattern a few seconds later. Some fireballs leap either low or high in terms of height and they can suddenly catch up to the playable character. The small cannons on the other hand shoot fireballs every third second, which fly either sideways or down in mid-air based on the direction the cannons are facing. However, fireballs cannot inflict damage if the playable character is Invincible or equipped with a Flame Shield in the 2013 re-release of the game.


In Labyrinth Zone, there are similar obstacles called Gargoyles[7] (火を吹く 石像[8] Hiwofuku sekizō?, lit. "Fire-Breathing Statue"), which are head-shaped sculptures on walls that are commonly placed on top of high ledges. Unlike the fireball cannons in Marble Zone and Star Light Zone, Gargoyles are repeatedly blowing small fireballs[8] in front of them once the playable character gets in front of them. Gargoyles also appear in underwater sections, where their fireballs can also damage the playable character despite the logic of being placed underwater.

Sonic the Hedgehog (8-bit)

In Sonic the Hedgehog (8-bit), fireball-spewing Gargoyles are found in Labyrinth Zone. Here, they work much like they did in Sonic the Hedgehog (16-bit). Scrap Brain Zone Act 2 also features fireball cannons similar to those in Marble Zone and Star Light Zone, which only appear on the walls of the first hall section with Conveyor Belts. These fireballs, which are fired from these cannons every third second, fly laterally for a small distance before disappearing completely.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (8-bit)

Fireball in Under Ground Zone, from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (8-bit).

In Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (8-bit), fireballs are small obstacles found in the lava pits of Under Ground Zone. When hopping out of the lava, they usually leap very high into mid-air before dropping back down into their lava pits, only to repeat this linear pattern every third second. Regardless, the player has usually enough room to move below the fireballs when they reach the apex of their leaps.

SegaSonic the Hedgehog

In SegaSonic the Hedgehog, the playable characters will be chased downhill by a large rolling lava ball at the beginning of Volcanic Vault. Also, after falling down on a large seesaw in the level, the lava ball will drop to the other side of the seesaw, sending the playable characters flying up to a higher section in the level. Also, towards the end of Landslide Limbo, multiple lines of fireballs will roll downhill during the horizontal uphill section. The player can either run around them or use the Spin Jump to leap over them. Touching the game's lava ball or its fireballs will set the playable character's backside on fire for a short time and take away a small amount of their health.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles

Fireballs in Lava Reef Zone Act 1, from Sonic & Knuckles.

In Sonic & Knuckles and the lock-on game Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles, fireballs (火の玉[4] Hinotama?) appear in Lava Reef Zone Act 1, where they serve the same function as in Sonic the Hedgehog (16-bit). In this game, Fireball cannons are placed on rocky walls or blocky wooden stairs along cavern routes. These devices will fire fireballs in linear directions. However, if the playable character is equipped with a Flame Shield, the fireballs cannot damage them.

Tails Adventure

In Tails Adventure, fireballs are featured in Volcanic Tunnel and Polly Mountain 2. In this game, they are tiny flames that make small vertical leaps from lava pools. The Linear cavern routes with lava pools below the floors in Volcanic Tunnel also have small fireballs popping out of their lava pools, so the player has to carefully when navigating these routes.

Sonic 3D Blast

Lines of four fireballs leaping on a lava pool, from the Sega Mega Drive version of Sonic 3D Blast.

In Sonic 3D Blast, fireballs appear as lines of three or four flaming balls that burst out of the lava pools in Volcano Valley Zone. In gameplay, these fireballs come in two types: the first type of fireballs usually leap upwards and then drop back down in linear patterns, while the second type of fireballs hop around on the lava pools' surfaces or leap between two small lava pools that are separated by small landmasses. If these fireballs come into contact with Flickies, the latter will spread out and stop following Sonic, leaving the player has to regather them. However, fireballs cannot damage Sonic or the Flickies when Sonic has the Red Shield equipped.

Sonic Advance

In Sonic Advance, fireballs are called Volcanic Bullets (火山弾[5] Kazan-dan?) and appear in Secret Base Zone. In gameplay, these generic fire obstacles burst out of lava pools. As a small twist however, once a fireball has reach the apex of its leap, it will explode into two projectiles, both of which can damage the playable character if they touch them. After that, another Volcanic Bullet will burst out of its lava pool to repeat the pattern.

Sonic Heroes

A fireball next to Team Sonic, from Sonic Heroes.

In Sonic Heroes, fireballs[2] are depicted as floating, red-orange fireballs. In gameplay, fireballs act as obstacles that are found solely in Power Plant. They are usually placed on the automatic-moving roads as well as on the floor and in midair. Physically touching a fireball will destroy it, but also damage the playable character making contact with it.

Sonic Lost World

In the Wii U version and PC version of Sonic Lost World, fireballs appear in the first 2.5D segment of Lava Mountain Zone 3, where they are depicted as round magma balls with glowing fire particles around them. In gameplay, they leap from and drop back down into lava pools, dealing damage it touched. Towards the end of the 2.5D segment with vertically-lined lava pools, fireballs will also move from one lava pool to another in a linear pattern.

Sonic Mania

Fireballs in Lava Reef Zone Act 1, from Sonic Mania.

In Sonic Mania, and its expansion Sonic Mania Plus, fireballs appear in Lava Reef Zone. They function exactly as they did in Sonic the Hedgehog (16-bit) and Sonic & Knuckles. The player can as well equip themselves with the Flame Shield to negate the damage fireballs will otherwise inflict.


  • Larger Gargoyle head-shaped sculptures in Labyrinth Zone also appear as a part of the Zone's backdrop, serving as fountains forming waterslides in gameplay. These same sculptures are also seen in the Labyrinth Zone of Sonic the Hedgehog (8-bit).
    • In Sonic the Hedgehog CD, similar fish-like face statues are found Tidal Tempest. These statues are placed on walls near the floor. Unlike Gargoyles though, these statues fire a constant stream of water blasts that cannot damage the player when touched, but they can push the playable character away from them in a linear direction. Usually, this forces the player into a pit leading to lower pathways.







  1. 1.0 1.1 (in English) Sonic the Hedgehog 1 & 2: Sega's Official Player's Guide. Compute; Expanded edition. 1993. p. 23. ISBN 1-55958-335-5.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Sonic Team (27 January 2004). Sonic Heroes. PlayStation 2. Sega. Area/Level: Power Plant. "Tails: These fireballs are generating a lot of energy. Stay away!"
  3. 3.0 3.1 "ZONE2 MARBLE ZONE" (in Japanese). ソニックジャム オフィシャルガイド. SoftBank. 2 October 1997. p. 20. ISBN 978-4797303377.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "ZONE 10 LAVA REEF ZONE" (in Japanese). ソニックジャム オフィシャルガイド. SoftBank. 2 October 1997. p. 84. ISBN 978-4797303377.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "ギミック紹介" (in Japanese). ソニックアドバンス必勝パーフェクトガイド. Aspect. 8 February 2002. p. 23. ISBN 978-4757209145.
  6. Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega Genesis) United States instruction booklet, pg. 7.
  7. (in English) Sonic the Hedgehog 1 & 2: Sega's Official Player's Guide. Compute; Expanded edition. 1993. p. 39. ISBN 1-55958-335-5.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "ラビリンス・ゾーン". ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ 公式ガイドブック. Tokuma Shoten. September 1991. p. 81. ISBN 978-4197410903. "壁の石像はただの飾りじゃない。 口から火の玉をはきだして、ソニックが進むのを邪魔する。 石像が火の玉をはきだす間隔に注意して、タイミングよく通りぬけよう!!"
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