Simply put, air bubbles that float up from the sea floor in games with Ordinary Drowning Skills
. Grabbing them restores some or all of your Oxygen Meter
Exactly how they're made underwater, and how they could contain enough oxygen to allow the character to breathe longer, is virtually never elaborated on... You just have to not worry about it too much
, because chances are, you'll need these bubbles either way to keep yourself from drowning when you're underwater.
If the character is somehow able to breathe underwater in ways that should actually be impossible for them to do (such as a human character with an overall lack of any scuba gear), then you have Super Not Drowning Skills
Common in Video Games
where there's no other way to survive underwater besides surfacing for air. Compare with Artificial Gill
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Action Adventure Games
- These could be gotten from oysters in Ecco The Dolphin, although sometimes you would get a poisoned bubble if you weren't careful.
- There were also bubble vents available in some places, especially in Defender.
- Although the oyster ones are deceptive — they don't give you more air. They restore health, instead. Which, if you had a corridor full of oysters, could in theory serve a similar function as you restore health faster than it drains, but that doesn't ever happen so you'd better find the surface.
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has these for its underwater segments, as well as poisoned purple bubbles that drain a ton of your breath meter, almost assuring you'll drown if you don't surface ASAP.
- An Untitled Story features oxygen bubbles in DeepDive, although their purpose is more for bouncing off from, especially since there are much more reliable jets of oxygen found in the same area that don't take a while to appear.
- In the underwater levels of Duke Nukem Forever, Duke can replenish his oxygen meter by swimming through air bubbles rising from ruptured pipes. There is even a Boss Fight where you have to dart between ammo dump and bubbles while avoiding the boss' attacks and shooting at it.
- Forty Winks has underwater vents that spew breathable bubbles. Just running through them is not enough, however; you have to linger on them to get a full-sized gulp of air.
- In Banjo-Kazooie, one area in Clanker's Cavern has a huge pit you need to swim into, but it's very, very deep. A friendly fish named Gloop appears down there who spits out oxygenated bubbles. He appears nowhere else, however, making him a Unique Helpful Mook.
- Oxygen bubbles pop up in an underwater level in Karoshi 2.0; of course, this being a game about comitting suicide, you're supposed to avoid them so that you can die.
- Little Big Planet 2 has bubble generators which you can swim by for bonus air.
- Kirby Mass Attack has those bubbles since it's one of the few games where Kirby cannot breathe underwater infinitely.
- Rayman 2 normally uses Blue Lums to restore air underwater, but Carmen the Whale produces air bubbles that work identically. Rayman Revolution replaces the Blue Lums with bubble vents.
- Every 2D game in Sonic the Hedgehog (plus the Sonic Adventure Series, Sonic Colors, and Sonic Generations) that contains a water level of some kind.
- While coins in Super Mario 64 somehow gave you some of your air/health back, inhaling an air bubble would fill it up completely. Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel also have air bubbles, but ironically, Super Mario Sunshine only has them appear in one specific instance: the battle against Eely-Mouth.
- Vexx has bubbles in The Below (and a side-area in Dragonreach) that refill your air. Vexx can hold his breath a long time without them, though.
- One of the puzzles in The Time Warp of Doctor Brain had you controlling a lungfish in an underwater maze. As you swam, your oxygen would gradually run out, but you could refill it by sucking up bubbles or by finding air pockets.
- The underwater area in MOTHER 3 is one of the very few cases where an RPG features underwater oxygen meters with refillable oxygen. However, this game parodies this trope by having the oxygen refillers be not bubbles, but big-lipped mermen who deliver oxygen via a kiss. Everyone stands around blushing afterwards. One of these oxygen supply "machines" also appears later in the Empire Porky Building, this time as a centaur, just for laughs.
- Some areas in World of Warcraft have fissures which spew enough oxygen for your character to breathe underwater.
- Tales of Maj'Eyal has a few underwater levels with stationary (and depletable) bubbles that you have to travel between to avoid suffocation.
- Real Life example: some types of diving beetle (and one diving spider) trap a thin layer of air against their bodies and use these to breathe. The spider even makes an underwater web to trap air in, allowing it to live most of its life underwater.