- For other uses of the term, see Lava Reef (disambiguation).
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
Lava Reef Zone is the tenth Zone in the Mania Mode of Sonic Mania and Sonic Mania Plus, and the eleventh Zone in the Encore Mode of Sonic Mania Plus. This Zone is a re-imagination of Lava Reef Zone from Sonic & Knuckles for the Sega Mega Drive.
The Zone takes place in the deep underground of Angel Island, as a sprawling labyrinthine cave system filled with mining machines and seemingly random spiky objects strewn around. Adding to the danger, the Zone is filled with magma and fire-based trappings.
Act 1 is once again a magma-filled mining area with the addition of loops and slopes. There has also been put more emphasis on this Act's hazardous mining environment with the inclusion of metal fences and "KEEP OUT" signs. At the top of the Act, one can see that the Act has an open sky, revealing volcanoes and mountains in the horizon.
Act 2 is drastically different in appearance, and now takes place in a huge and open crystal cavern. There are traces of Hidden Palace Zone around the Act, with ancient structures starting to show up. The Act also borrows artistic visuals from Quartz Quadrant, down to the background being based on the background for the underground of Quartz Quadrant's Good Future. Despite the local magma being newly cooled and turned into igneous rocks, there are even more mining tools that are seemingly more dangerous; even to the point that the Badniks are not safe. The night sky and Little Planet is also visible through the cracks in the ceiling where the Death Egg used to be. The cavern also seems to be the launch sight of a giant Rocket Ship bearing Eggman’s Insignia that can be seen in the background, set to launch towards Little Planet.
Somewhere in Lava Reef Zone Act 2 is the shrine for the Master Emerald and the Super Emeralds that were seen back in Sonic & Knuckles. This shrine houses both the real Master Emerald and cracked stone relics of the Super Emeralds that have been created in the absence of the real Emeralds.
In their search for Dr. Eggman to foil his plans with the Phantom Ruby, Sonic, Tails and Knuckles ride a flying submarine from Oil Ocean Zone that crashes into a nearby pit of lava in the Lava Reef Zone. Fortunately, the trio gets off the submarine before it is destroyed. Midway through the Zone, after taking care of the Drillerdroid, the trio use a Transport to descend deeper into Lava Reef Zone.
Arriving at the bottom of the Transport's shaft, Sonic and co. find themselves on Hidden Palace Zone's grounds. Along the way, the crew gets split up. Sonic and Tails hitch a ride on top of Eggman’s rocket ship, only to arrive into the arms of the Heavy Rider and Jimmy. However, the heroes are able to defeat them. After the Heavy Rider’s defeat, Little Planet, which has once again appeared over Never Lake in its mechanized state, lights up, as Sonic and Tails ride the rocket towards the miniature planet. Meanwhile, Knuckles arrives at the Master Emerald's local altar, just as the Heavy King tries to steal the massive gem. Recalling how Eggman tried to steal the Master Emerald once before, Knuckles stops the theft and manages to make the Heavy King retreat, despite the robot empowering himself with the Master Emerald. Knuckles then uses a Warp Point to catch up with his friends.
While Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Mighty and Ray ride a flying submarine from Oil Ocean Zone, they crash into a lava pit in Lava Reef Zone. Before the vessel is destroyed though, Sonic and co. manage to get off it. From there, the heroes continue their search for Dr. Eggman to foil his plans with the Phantom Ruby. Halfway through the Zone, Sonic and co. overcome the Drillerdroid when it attacks them. Afterward, they use a Transport to descend deeper into Lava Reef Zone.
Reaching the bottom of the shaft, Sonic and co. discover that they have reached Hidden Palace Zone, but nonetheless proceed forward. From there, there are two outcomes for this Zone:
- By taking the upper path, Sonic and co. reach the top of a rocket ship. As it takes off, they come under attack by the Heavy Rider and Jimmy. After defeating the duo, Sonic and co. spot Little Planet, which has once again appeared over Never Lake in its mechanized state, as they ride the rocket towards the miniature planet.
- By taking the lower path, Sonic and co. arrive in the Master Emerald's shrine, just as the Heavy King tries to steal the massive gem again. Sonic and co. manage to stop the theft however and make the Heavy King, who tries fighting back using the Master Emerald's power, retreat. Afterward, the group uses a Warp Point to travel to Little Planet.
Lava Reef Zone is a hostile Zone filled with dangerous fire hazards and various spiky obstacles.
Act 1 features harmful lava pools, fireball launchers, and magma springs. Other gimmicks and obstacles here include blockades that can be lowered with Switches, walking platform mechs that can barge through any obstacle and enemy and Transports. Throughout the Act, the player will also come across Rock Drills that cause tremors and create pitfalls for the player; these robots, while attackable, cannot be destroyed by any means available to the player.
Act 2 shares many of Act 1's elements, but is even more tricky, with flamethrowers that are set in the most inconvenient of places, strings of iron balls that move around, and switchable Conveyor Belts that carry things like iron balls and Iwamodokis with them.
Act 1 features elements from the first Act of the original Lava Reef Zone in Sonic & Knuckles, but with a few features borrowed from other Zones. Midway through the Act, one of the Rock Drills will cause an earthquake that makes the local magma levels rise, forcing the player to climb up to higher ground. Otherwise, the Act is a modifed version of its Sonic & Knuckles counterpart.
Like the original Lava Reef Zone, the second Act segues into an area that is considered a "third" Act altogether, only this time it is set in Hidden Palace Zone. When playing through this Act with Sonic or Tails, the player takes the top entrance (which was originally Knuckles' entrance) that takes them to a boss fight atop the rocket ship against the Heavy Rider. When playing through as Knuckles however, the player will take a different entrance that leads through some of Sonic's original Zone layout, to his boss fight with the Heavy King.
The boss of Lava Reef Zone Act 1 is the Drillerdroid, an updated version of the Rock Drill. Throughout the battle, the Drillerdroid will attempt to drop down on the player and cause tremors that release either hazardous rocks or iron balls. To beat this boss, the player first must lure it into burning off its own armor by drilling into magma pockets. After that, land six hits on it and it will be defeated.
The boss of Sonic and Tails' edition of Lava Reef Zone Act 2 in Mania Mode is the Heavy Rider, one of the Hard Boiled Heavies. The battle begins when the player arrives in her special racing arena on top of Eggman’s rocket ship. A few seconds after blasting off, Heavy Rider swoops in to attack the player. During the fight, the Heavy Rider will drive amok through her arena on Jimmy in an attempt to run the player over while swinging her mace. The player must strategize where to hit the Heavy Rider, as hitting Jimmy will only bounce the player back. In addition, the Heavy Rider will use stationary flamethrowers to her advantage. To win this fight, the player must hit the Heavy Rider eight times.
In Encore Mode, the player can choose to fight the Heavy Rider instead of the Heavy King, and can use any character against her. Otherwise, the fight is the same as in Mania Mode.
The boss of Knuckles' edition of Lava Reef Zone Act 2 in Mania Mode is the Heavy King, the leader of the Hard Boiled Heavies. The fight begins after Knuckles arrives at the Master Emerald's shrine in Hidden Palace Zone and stops the Heavy King from stealing the gem. During this battle, the Heavy King will jump atop the Master Emerald and use its power to hover around the shrine and unleash lasers, spheres and bullets from his scepter. Land a total of eight hits on the Heavy King in order to defeat him and make him retreat.
In Encore Mode, the player can choose to fight the Heavy King instead of the Heavy Rider, and can use any character against him. Otherwise, the fight is the same as in Mania Mode.
- Lava Reef Zone features several references and Easter eggs:
- The walking platform mechs in Lava Reef Zone Act 1 and 2 originate from Metallic Madness in Sonic the Hedgehog CD.
- The Rexon, an enemy that appears in Lava Reef Zone Act 1 and 2, originates from Hill Top Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
- The magma plumes in Lava Reef Zone Act 1 and 2 are similar to the same plumes from Marble Zone in the original Sonic the Hedgehog.
- The wooden shuttle loops and walkways in the underground caverns of Lava Reef Zone Act 1 may be a nod to the Endless Mine Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
- In Lava Reef Zone Act 1, Rock Drills appear as both obstacles and as a mini-boss in the form of the Drillerdroid. Those same robots originate from the original Lava Reef Zone in Sonic & Knuckles. They also tunnel around the Act like the Tunnelbot from Marble Garden Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
- During the battle with the Drillerdroid in Lava Reef Zone Act 1, falling debris appear when the boss digs into the ground. The same thing occurrs during the respective boss fights with the Drill Eggman II in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and the Tunnelbot in Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
- The sequence in Lava Reef Zone Act 1 where internal earthquakes cause the lava levels to rise and chase after the player might have been inspired by the similar sequence from Hill Top Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
- The controllable Conveyor Belts in Lava Reef Zone Act 2 are based on the same gimmicks from Quartz Quadrant in Sonic the Hedgehog CD.
- The Heavy Rider's boss arena lifting off into the sky during the fight in Sonic and Tails' version of Lava Reef Zone Act 2 (as of version 1.04 of Sonic Mania) is a reference to the same thing that occurs during the final boss battle in Launch Base Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
- In Sonic and Tails' version of Lava Reef Zone Act 2, the Heavy Rider swings around a giant mace, horizontally, via a chain. This is a reference to the similarly-arranged iron ball obstacle from Marble Garden Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
- The sound effects used by the Heavy Rider in Sonic and Tails' version of Lava Reef Zone Act 2 are taken from Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball.
- In Lava Reef Zone Act 2, there is a 1-Up Item Box on a Conveyor Belt that, if not collected in time, will fall off and disappear. A similar occurrence happened in Scrap Brain Zone in the 8-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog.
- The layout recreation of Hidden Palace Zone in Knuckles' version of Lava Reef Zone Act 2 is made in the image of the original Hidden Palace Zone in Sonic & Knuckles.
- The emerald shrine with the Super Emerald replicates and the Master Emerald in Knuckles' version of Lava Reef Zone Act 2 is the same one seen in Hidden Palace Zone in Sonic & Knuckles.
- During the cutscene in Lava Reef Zone Act 2 where the Heavy King attempts to take the Master Emerald, Knuckles will reminisce the event from Sonic & Knuckles where Dr. Eggman takes the Master Emerald and electrocutes Knuckles when he attempts to retrieve it in the form of a thought bubble.
- The thoughts are presented in a crude drawing style, which is a reference to Knuckles' flashback scene from the one-shot comic, Sonic: Mega Drive, which was also presented as crude scribbles. This thought bubble was drawn by Tom Fry.
- During Knuckles' boss fight in Lava Reef Zone Act 2, the Heavy King will harness the Master Emerald's power the same way Mecha Sonic did in Sky Sanctuary Zone during Knuckles' final boss fight in Sonic & Knuckles.
- The Warp Point Knuckles used at the end of his version of Lava Reef Zone Act 2 is an object that first appeared in Hidden Palace Zone/Sky Sanctuary Zone in Sonic & Knuckles
- In Encore Mode, Lava Reef Zone Act 1 takes on a redder hue and features a new heatwave effect, replicating the way Lava Reef looked during the original version’s Act 2 boss.
- Like its predecessor in Sonic & Knuckles, Lava Reef Zone is the only Zone in the Level Select menu with more than two listed Acts; the boss arena in the Hidden Palace is listed as Lava Reef Act 3.
- Little Planet's appearance in the background of Lava Reef Zone Act 2 might have been intended as a clue to the next Zone.
- This was confirmed in the 1.04 update as Little Planet now plays a key role in the new transition from Lava Reef to Metallic Madness.
- This version of Lava Reef Zone has the same level number it had in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles.
- This Zone and Angel Island Zone are the only Zones in the game where Dr. Eggman himself does not physically appear.
|Lava Reef Zone (Act 1)||Tee Lopes, Falk Au Yeong (mixing)||2:12|
|Lava Reef Zone (Act 2)||Tee Lopes||1:58|
- Live Sonic Mania Developer Playthrough. Stealth (20 August 2017). Retrieved on 22 August 2017.
- Sonic Mania OST - Lava Reef Act 1. YouTube. Sega (30 August 2017). Retrieved on 7 September 2017. “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...
Music: Lava Reef Zone - Act 1
Arranged by: Tee Lopes
Mixed / Mastered by: Falk Au Yeong”
- Christian Whitehead on Twitter (30 August 2017). Retrieved on 30 August 2017. “Christian Whitehead: They're stone relics, created in their absence when the Chaos Emeralds once again drifted off into the Special Stage Dimension”