Water Levels... Love/Hate?

  • So I'm playing the latest Monster Hunter with my brother and a friend, and we see the mighty Lagiacrus: a terrifying leviathan, the Lord of the Seas. Except he's on land only. Water-combat has been removed. I mentioned how much I miss water-combat and wished for its return, and was vehemently disagreed with. The three statements were "water levels are unwieldy and control like hot garbage", "you're the only person who likes them", and "there are better forms of verticality."

    What do ya'll think? Are there good examples of water stages in video games? Are you annoyed by most of them? Are they terrible in principle? Is there some untapped value?

  • Dire Dire Docks.

  • I LOVE water levels – there are literally no better forms of vertical play space.

    First comes the simple aesthetics factor, which Monster Hunter 3's Deserted Island has in spades. It's no mystery why Sunshine looks better than Galaxy in most levels (and the levels where Galaxy pulls away are the Penguin and ghost water levels).

    Besides Twilight Princess' drippingly atmospheric Lakebed Temple, games with wholesale water levels are usually the odd stepchild. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is a great example. Tovus Bog's hydrodynamics ring is an area I'll never forget. Filled with unique bosses, Torvus Bog' brackish water clouds your visor in a literal and figurative immersion.

  • I love water combat more than I love verticality and everything that's come with that like broken as hell mounting/jump attacks.

    If I had to choose between them I'd choose water in a heartbeat, but I'd also be happy if they both went away. Talking about Monster Hunter here of course.

  • Banned

    Water levels suck.

    It has all the floatiness of space with all the baggage of gravity and your vision is severely hindered.

  • I've played so many different water levels that it's hard to say overall if I like or hate them. I mean, for every Hydrocity Zone there's a Labyrinth Zone, for every Undertow there's one of those moments from MGS2 where you have to manage to avoid drowning.

  • Spyro 2 and 3. Decent movement, nice environments, attacking isn't a pain in the ass. Good times. I do recall the manta ray challenge from Spyro 2 being pretty hard.

  • Wave Race 64 and Blue Storm have good water levels :^)

    Most of them suck though, they are basically natural time limits in games that don't normally have time limits, at least in games where you lose air when submerged. I don't hate them as much as ice physics though, ugh.

  • It depends. Adding a ticking time bomb element is usually never fun for me. And slowing down the pace of a game is not fun for me either. These are two elements often associated with water levels that bring me the most dread.

    Mario 64 water levels are beautiful. I remember the first time playing them and just loving the movement. It just felt free. Sure there's a time element but coins/air is plentiful.

    Sonic the Hedgehog water levels are awful for me. It's the antithesis of what the series is about. You go from blazing fast side scrolling platforming to a pace that is barely crawling. And the panicky music when you get down to your last seconds of air is heart attack inducing.

    Donkey Kong Country water levels are so-so. Just a change of pace.

  • I may be alone on this one, but I loved the water temple from Twilight Princess.

  • There's a certain vulnerability about being in the water. Usually, your attacks and movement are limited, and certain aquatic creatures are just plain terrifying. If you can avoid making these portions annoying, I believe they can provide a sense of tension and/or atmosphere that few other settings can match. It runs contrary to the desire of many players to feel powerful, but I love it.

    I agree that breath mechanics can be terribly annoying... Monster Hunters have unnaturally strong lungs, so it's not really an issue there. It helps in old Mario and DK to not have to deal with it.

    @Haru17 Those are some of my favorite examples! I love Sunshine so much, and that section of Torvus Bog was very well crafted. Getting the gravity pack (I forget the name) felt great, but I'm glad to have that before/after effect. Oh, and it breaks my heart to see Deserted Island in Generations and not to be able to hop in the water.

  • I mean its a toss up. In some games it feels like outlier patchwork but in others it is a great change of pace.

    Like I HATE fighting mudcrabs in Oblivion or mirelurkers in Fallout and just getting a ton of rads and constantly pausing the game the take aids.

    But then I think about how much I enjoyed the jet ski scene in Uncharted Drake's Fortune, or the technical management of oxygen in MGS2.

    I suppose I like them...

  • More often than not Water levels in games are complete horseshit, mostly because they're designed to be overly complicated and/or controls underwater are horrible. Although some games do them right, for example Mario 3 has water levels done right, and even has frog suit for even better playability in them, but I'd like to give shoutout to Aquaman stage in Megaman 8. Most people overlooked this game, because of horrid voice-acting, but it's actually pretty good. And Megaman 8 did water controls right.

    In summary, Water stages can be good, if they're done right and the controls are done well.

  • I want to say that I hate water levels...

    But then if I think about it I realize I was hurt as a child playing that level in the TMNT NES game....

    So it depends on the game. Overall I hate water levels where I feel rushed either due to quick drowning, or some other timer.

  • I tend not to enjoy water levels. It really depends on the theming, music, setting and most importantly gameplay/controls. A perfect example is Banjo Kazooie since I'm playing through it for the first time right now. I was going crazy battling the controller and trying to swim around in Clanker's Cavern.. it was horrible.

  • I like water levels. I hate breath meters.

  • I feel like people who resolutely hate water levels were irrevocably broken as children and will be forever unable to provide any kind of true moral leadership in society.


  • The most time I've spent in water was collecting those toxic waste barrels with submarine in GTA V. Twice. I don't know, I guess it was kinda peaceful.

    But in general water can be a good element in games. I enjoy it on a surface level (heh) while boating or something. It often offers beautiful visuals. But then in some (older) platformers etc. water levels with time limits or oxygen meters have never been my favourites.

  • The water-world from Primal(ps2)... I think it was called aquatos? You get a special transformation, the levels are complex and you get to navigate as a skilled swimmer or a gargoyle that sinks to the bottom & walks.

  • Water and sewer levels are the worst. Especially in the old Sonic games. Then again, it's kinda awesome to see Sonic drown and die.