A meter, usually a coloured bar, that displays the Hit Points
of a character. If this shrinks to nothing, Critical Existence Failure
is the result.
In single-character games, this is found on the HUD
. In strategy games, this appears next to selected units, often over their heads, and by their portraits in the HUD
. Sometimes, they are invisible most of the time, only appearing for a moment whenever your character loses or gains health.
The color of the life meter is often determined as a major stylistic point for the game. Red is a very common color, being strongly associated with blood and flesh, as well as the ubiquitous red-crossed health packs
. Sci Fi
life meters often change color as health declines, from green, to yellow, and down to red. Other colors usually indicate something unique about the character or game. The life meter may also change color to reflect status ailments, such as poisoning. An alternate menu may note how many Hit Points
that meter reflects. Fantasy games tend not to have the meter change color, and will instead have it remain a blue or green color. It may flash red when the PC reaches a critical threshold.
A Life Meter
may also be made of a line of symbols rather than a bar. Frequently, hearts are used for this purpose
If your life meter also comes with an alarm sound to indicate low health, that alarm will likely be the Most Annoying Sound
Running out can either lead to a Game Over
, or simply losing one of the Video Game Lives
Video Game Examples:
Non-Video Game Examples:
- The pinball machine Revenge from Mars uses these during the "Secret Weapon" mode, which is an Unexpected Gameplay Change to a Fighting Game.
- Used during the Jedi/Sith duels of Star Wars Episode I
- Samus has one in Metroid Prime Pinball, and can die instantly if it is depleted.
- The Champion Pub has the player fighting various opponents, both of which have life bars. You start out with three points and have to get more by training; filling it up completely lets you start a fight.
- Parodied rather well at the climax of Problem Sleuth. The final boss, Demonhead Mobster Kingpin, has three forms, each with its own health bar. The first regenerates slowly. The second has two which regenerates two times faster than damage can be inflicted. The third, however, starts with three bars that literally must be broken themselves. Right before Problem Sleuth can activate his Bad-Ass Finishing Move, DMK literally GROWS an infinite number of life bars, which are physically real and break through the Earth's surface all the way down to Hell.
- An interesting variation from Homestuck: Health is represented by a colored bar suspended inside a clump of gel, called a "Health Vial". As you take damage, the bar is forced out of the gel, and falls to the ground and shatters when your health is depleted. When leveling up, instead of gaining a longer health bar, you get a more viscous gel.
- In RWBY, Scrolls have an app that shows a person's remaining Aura, and it is used to this effect.