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
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
. Some games may even use a "life counter" with numbers instead.
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:
I have a lot of life left..." but it isn't nearly as much as you think.
- The Warriors uses a standard life meter designed as a circle around your character. It starts out at green and changes colors from yellow to orange to red as you get injured, and the characters themselves also suffer bruises and cuts and grow in number and intensity when their health grows lower. Strangely enough, all those visible injuries magically vanish once you use some Flash.
- Whizz has the Energy Mushroom, which loses color from the top down.
- The life meters in The World Ends with You are vertically-oriented bars, and extend into both screens along the right side. Either half of the meter could be gone, gone, gone, but you're both still fighting until the whole thing is gone. It refills after every battle (counting a chain reduction battle as a single one). The bar itself is green, with empty sections of bar as gray. Bosses also have a life meter that depletes from each side of the screen and has a second, yellow bar over the green one.
- The colors for bosses go farther, too.
- Players can easily be confused by the life bar. It's shared by both Neku and his partner... but the gap between the two screens is not counted in the bar. So it's pretty easy to think "Oh * Ever since Smackdown: Here Comes the Pain and WWE Day of Reckoning (at least), the WWE-based Professional Wrestling games on consoles have had a variant on the health meter: it's represented by a humanoid figure with four sections (head, torso, both arms, both legs). As each region gets worked over, the meter goes from no damage to, normally, yellow-orange-red. Submission holds have better chances if you're working them on a red region, and if the head is red (on a male), certain headshots will cause bleeding.
Non-Video Game Examples:
- 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.
- Hyperball, a Shoot 'em Up pinball game, requires the player to defend his base from attacking lightning bolts. The game ends when all of his "Energy Centers" are destroyed.
- Samus has one in Metroid Prime Pinball, and can die instantly if it is depleted.
- The pinball machine Revenge from Mars uses these during the "Secret Weapon" mode, which is an Unexpected Gameplay Change to a Fighting Game.
- In Stern Pinball's Star Trek, the Vengeance is shown with a Life Meter during "Vengeance Multiball"; it takes damage based on how many points the player scores.
- Used during the Jedi/Sith duels of Star Wars Episode I
- Capcom's unreleased Kingpin has the Power Meter, which is built up during regular play by making Power-Up shots. At the end of the last ball, the game enters "Sudden Death", where play continues while it runs down, with the flippers becoming slower and weaker as it decreases. Making more Power-Up shots add more Power and playtime, but once it's depleted, the flippers die and the game ends.
- 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.
- In the Original Character Tournament Sanctum OCT, every contestant has one above their heads, which is visible to other contestants. Justified because they're in a virtual reality tournament of sorts.