It is a button. You jump into it. Things happen that let you move forward.
Ah yes, lava. Lovely lava. Stepping in it (understandably) hurts. A lot of the platforms in this level will either crumble away or (in this case) slowly sink into the lava.
I hate these things. They're actually easier to destroy than they look, but they make their entrance by bursting out of the wall. There is one occasion later on where I'm running fast and suddenly I get hurt because of this little bastard. Sorry mate, but you're not as cool as Caterkiller.
Fireballs. There's a little yellow hole just behind where it says "TIME" where a fireball shoots out at intermittent intervals, easy enough to dodge...doesn't stop me getting caught by them half the time.
See that rock with eyes? They're PATHETIC! What they do is explode into little pieces of rock. If you have a shield, they just bounce off you. It's honestly a little sad, poor guy's sacrifice is always in vain. Even without a shield, they take a few seconds to explode so you can run far enough away.
This is what we want. A fire shield. Now lava is about as dangerous as a sponge, and a few other aspects of the level is so much easier.
Not this part though, this is just another unique elevator of Robotnik's own design. You have to spin dash in a certain direction to go either up or down. You usually wanna go down, especially on a Saturday night.
This fella drops in out of nowhere and tries to...
Sacrifice itself to kill us. Even if we weren't standing on the only surviving piece of rock, our fire shield allows us to walk on lava. Stupid robot.
These elevators can be a right pain...literally if you get stuck underneath it.
SO MUCH LIFE! (there's actually another extra up a little bit later, but I was getting chased by a giant spiky ball at the time).
This part is quite intense, hence the lack of photo from me and if you're not careful you will end up in an area where you've already been, but with an extra life. If you die after this, you can keep grabbing the extra life from the picture above and this one and farm for lives, but c'mon son, that's now how we roll.
After finding the right path, a couple of minutes later we bump into our mini-boss.
It's...uhhh...not these. These are a pain though and you want rid of them. They will pop out and shoot out little bullets that almost blend in with the wall of lava behind you. They only take about four or six hits each to blow up and once they go away they stay away. However, the real boss is this...
I've got to 'hand' it to Robotnik, he almost got me with these one. I lost just about all the lives I'd gathered up over the Act because I kept dying to this hand. I don't want to point the finger at SEGA, but at times I swear I clipped through the finger instead of attacking it and got hurt. Still, eventually I hit the nail on the head and...
I had the boss eating out of MY hands. Or exploding...look at that clock as well. That didn't help me, having to rush the boss.
Thankfully the goal post unearthed a fire shield for me. Beautiful!
Act 2 is a lot more chill, the music is nice and the overall feel is just a bit more chilled out.
It's the blue. Flamethrowers kind of ruin the mood, but you can stand in them with this shield. Have I told you about how useful the fire shield is yet?
Robotnik, what's wrong with normal elevators? In fact, if this is just a trap to catch Sonic...put spikes ALL over it? That would be a plan, yes?
Now, this is the last Act with Special Rings in it, so if you have just one or two to get, this is your last chance. I ended up in one and...
...I actually find them easier once you start going faster. If I do decide to play this again to show off the true final level, I feel slightly more confident that I can do it. A perfect earns you 50,000 points...in other words...an extra life. I don't know if you get one for getting 100 rings in this special stage, I never noticed until this next picture...
...so I got one for a perfect (21), one for getting a 100 rings normally (22), so I'm guessing I got one for 100 rings in the special stage? If anyone can clarify, that'd be grand!
KNUCKLES! Time to get my reveng-
Now I know how Keith Richards feels...
This takes us to technically another Act...
This drone will shoot out missiles that will destroy the platforms. This is one where the screen forces you to move on (though mostly prevents you from moving on quickly).
With the fire shield you can easily stand on the lava, but this is not an advantage as eventually you will get caught by the bottom of the screen when it starts rising. Not long after this though we meet Robotnik...
This is a very similar boss to the one from Oil Ocean in Sonic 2.
The lava will rise and you have to jump from platform to platform, avoiding the spiked mines and letting them hit Robotnik. With the fire shield this is a bit easier, but I would get in the habit of jumping on the platforms just in case you lose your shield. And then your rings. Not speaking from experience or anything...
I forgot? I FORGOT!?! To capture the glorious moment when I made Robotnik go BOOM? HOW DARE I! I have let you all down. I must run away never to return!
...or redeem myself with more explosions next time in Hidden Palace!
Lava Reef Act 1
Lava Reef Act 2 (recommended listen)