Lava is a hazard in many parts of Mushroom World, especially inside castles. When Mario touches lava, it will more often than not cause him to leap high into the air and - if not killed outright before landing - run around almost uncontrollably in pain. Depending on the game, contact with lava either results in Mario losing some health (as seen in Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel, and Paper Mario), or causing instant death on contact (as seen from Super Mario 3D Land, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door in Bowser's intermission after getting the Garnet Star, Super Mario Sunshine in Corona Mountain and most 2D platformer Mario games, such as Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario World). Even a Star cannot protect Mario from the effects of lava. The effect lava has on Bowser varies as well, ranging from not affecting him at all to actually killing him at least once. This may imply that there are different temperatures (or even separate types) of lava in the Mushroom world.
Super Mario series
Super Mario Bros.
Lava first debuts in Super Mario Bros., where it appears in the castle level of each world. If Mario or Luigi falls into the lava, they will instantly lose a life. At the end of the level, Mario or Luigi must destroy the bridge that either Bowser or a False Bowser is standing on, causing him to fall into the lava.
Due to the graphical limitations of the NES at the time, the "lava" is actually red-colored water, and is only a background object (proven by characters falling through the lava and not dying the moment they touch it).
Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
Lava reappears in Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, where it has the same appearance and purpose as it did in Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. 3
In Super Mario Bros. 3, lava occasionally appears in the Fortress levels in some worlds, usually appearing at the bottom of the level but sometimes appearing on the ceilings. Contact with lava is proven fatal to Mario and Luigi regardless of what power-ups they are wielding when they touch the boiling fluid.
Super Mario World
In Super Mario World, lava appears in the fortress and castle level. Once again, Mario or Luigi will instantly lose a life should they fall into the lava. In certain caves, there is a brighter color of lava which frequently have skull rafts on them; these rafts are the only way to complete these levels. If Yoshi, a power-up, or a monster falls into the lava, they will slowly sink into the lava and eventually disappear: if Mario is riding Yoshi at the time, he will lose a life. There is also a grey lava which is found in Chocolate Fortress and Chocolate Island 4; this lava functions exactly the same as normal lava and may simply reflect color palette restrictions in the game.
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
In Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, lava appears in Pipe Vault, Barrel Volcano, and Bowser's Keep. Contact with lava causes Mario to jump high in the air with smoke coming out of him (predating similar reactions in Super Mario 64 and other 3D games), and typically warps him back to the entrance of a room. In the two platforming challenges in Bowser's Keep, which Mario gets ten chances to complete, falling into lava will take away one of his chances along with several coins, and warps him back to where he left off.
Super Mario 64
In Super Mario 64, lava appeared in Lethal Lava Land and Bowser in the Fire Sea, and covered much of the stage. This lava would bubble and release Podoboos and Fire Snake-like clumps of fire. Unlike the 2D Mario games, when Mario touches lava, he jumps into the air with smoke and fire coming out of him, and quickly loses three wedges of health instead of dying instantly. In his Capless Form, Mario would lose four wedges instead, meaning that in his capless form, Mario will lose a life in just two hits from the lava. Both lava stages feature enemies referred to as Bullies that would try to knock Mario into lava and which could be knocked into lava themselves for coins.
Super Mario Sunshine
In Super Mario Sunshine, lava is only found only in Corona Mountain. It covers the entire bottom of the stage, and serves as a major stage hazard in that level. If Mario touches the lava in Corona Mountain, he instantly loses a life.
Although normal lava is only found in Corona mountain, another substance known as Fire Goop serves a similar function throughout most of the game. This 'lava', which was painted by Bowser Jr. (a.k.a. Shadow Mario) with his Magic Paintbrush, will cause Mario to leap in the air while losing health similarly to Super Mario 64. However, Mario covers little horizontal distance during these jumps, and death may thus still be inevitable if Mario falls in a large pool of the goop.
New Super Mario Bros.
In New Super Mario Bros., lava appears in the most Castle levels and few levels in World 8; some levels feature rising lava as a major hazard. As like with the other 2D platformer Mario games, when Mario falls on the lava, he instantly loses a life. Mega Mario is also vulnerable to lava if he somehow manages to fall in it.
Super Mario Galaxy
In Super Mario Galaxy, lava is found mainly in each Bowser and Bowser Jr. level, where it comprises most of the landscape (with a few exceptions of course). In fact, Bowser Jr.'s third level in Super Mario Galaxy is actually called Bowser Jr.'s Lava Reactor, and features considerably more lava than the other Bowser or Bowser Jr. levels. Other galaxies, while not entirely comprised of only lava, do rely heavily on the presence of lava as a major obstacle in some areas. Like Super Mario 64, when Mario touches the lava, he would catch fire and jump into the air uncontrollably, losing 1 wedge of health. However, Ice Flower allows Ice Mario to skate across lava without taking any damage.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
In New Super Mario Bros. Wii lava does return in most castle levels, in most World 8 levels and in Bowser's Castle. As one would expect, Mario, Luigi, Yellow Toad and Blue Toad will instantly lose a life if they touch the lava.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Lava serves a similar function in Super Mario Galaxy 2 as it does in its predecessor, damaging Mario and sending him flying high in the air.
Super Mario 3D Land
New Super Mario Bros. 2
Lava appears once again in castle levels, especially in Bowser's Castle. In the final battle, Bowser gains the ability to summon rising lava. Once again Mario (or Luigi) will instantly lose a life if they touches lava.
New Super Mario Bros. U
Lava also appears in New Super Mario Bros. U, especially in castles like Iggy's Volcanic Castle. Although Peach's Castle, thanks to several renovations via Bowser, does include lava, lava is not involved at all in the final battle with Bowser.
Super Mario 3D World
Lava appears again in Super Mario 3D World, appearing as a major hazard in some stages. Like Super Mario 3D Land, contact with lava is fatal to Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Blue Toad, and Rosalina, resulting in losing one life. Some stages have a type of blue lava that acts identically to normal lava beyond appearance.
Mario Kart series
In the Mario Kart series, lava appears in many race courses, most frequently Bowser's Castle. Falling into lava delays the racers, as they must wait for a Lakitu to pull them out to continue the race.
Paper Mario series
Despite lava appearing in almost every Mario game (or almost every video game for that matter), Lava is rarely seen in the Paper Mario series. In Paper Mario there are only two areas to feature lava; the first is inside the volcano Mt. Lavalava, and the second is inside Bowser's Castle. In this game, if Mario falls into the lava, he loses five hit points, and on most occasions, he needs to have Parakarry carry him over it or have Lakilester float over it. Lava appears again in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. In this game, it is only found during the two Bowser events; the first around Bowser's Castle, and the second in a stage reminiscent of Super Mario Bros.. Mario himself never encounters any lava at all in this game. In Super Paper Mario, there is no lava at all, save the lava around Bowser's Castle in the introduction screen. The tattle for the Lava Bubble, however, says that the player must avoid them while the player is jumping over lava.
In Paper Mario Sticker Star, lava appears in W5-5, Rugged Road, and in W5-6, Rumble Volcano. In the first area of W5-5, Mario can't go over the lava rising, so the player must use a freezing type Sticker to cross the frozen lava. In the other areas, Mario uses rock pieces floating on the lava to cross. In W5-6,lava can also be seen, but Mario just has to avoid it, not cross it. If Mario falls in the lava in Paper Mario Sticker Star, he loses 3 Heart Points.
Mario Party series
Most Bowser-related game boards in the series involve lava in some way.
Mario Party 2
The minigame Hexagon Heat from Mario Party 2 involves moving over to the colored spot Toad indicates using the flags he holds. The platforms will slowly fall into lava as a different one is called. Another minigame in both the original and the sequel, Handcar Havoc, involves steering a handcar, and leaning so it does not tip over the edge of the tracks and into lava, however it's impossible to fall off the edge in the Mario Party 2 version, which is in the sky and doesn't have any lava. Lava Tile Isle involves pushing players off the sinking tiles and into lava.
Mario Party 4
The minigame Chain Chomp Fever in Mario Party 4 involves staying out of the way of the Chain Chomp, while also avoiding falling into the lava. The mini-game The Final Battle! involved getting to and fighting Bowser by solving puzzles and, once again, avoiding falling into lava.
Mario Party 6
Mario Party 7
Despite not having lava as a hazard, the minigames Treasure Dome and Tunnel of Lava! from Mario Party 7 is filled with it. The minigame Magmagical Journey! contains much lava that acts as an obstacle.
Mario Party 8
Mario Party 9
In Mario Party 9, lava appears in Magma Mine, as one of the most dangerous obstacles in the board, taking half of the captain's Mini Stars when he or she touches it. In Magma Mayhem, the players must knock their adversaries out of a tilting platform, making them sink into the magma. It also appears in the minigames Tumble Temple, Bowser Pop and Double Pounder, as an aesthetic element. In the Boss Battle Spike Strike, the players and Spike are inside a volcano, on a rock surrounded by lava. In the second half, the lava rises, giving less time to the players think. In Chain Chomp Romp, the volcanoes in the background are in eruption,
and lava is seen running down them.
Mario Party Advance
In Mario Party Advance, the mini-game Stompbot XL involves trying to avoid the lava heading towards the player, while avoiding obstacles like walls, rocks, and small patches of lava. Also, the mini-game Go-go Pogo has the player using a pogo to get to the end while avoiding the lava below and other obstacles.
Donkey Kong series
Lava is, like on Earth, a naturally occurring and dangerous substance in the Donkey Kong universe.
Lava's first appearance in a Donkey Kong game was in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, where it was an obstacle found primarily in the area Crocodile Cauldron, a large volcanically active area.
In Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! lava makes a small appearance in the hidden world, Krematoa. Here, a small pond of lava can be seen and oddly enough, swam through after Krematoa's ancient volcano is re-activated.
This same pond of lava can be seen in Donkey Kong Land III, the pseudo Game Boy sequel of Donkey Kong Country 3.
Lava also appears later on the Donkey Kong series in games such as Donkey Kong 64 and Donkey Kong Country Returns, again as an uncommon, yet dangerous obstacle. The Kongs lose all of their health when they fall into it. In Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, lava only appears in levels Spinning Spines, Meltdown Mayhem and Volcano Dome.
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