A Video Game trope.
The marine equivalent of Gusty Glade. Instead of wind currents blowing you all over the place, there are fast-moving currents in a river, ocean or other body of water. The player character usually either has to simply ride them out or maneuver whatever he or she is riding on to hit the correct current for the location they're traveling to. Mess up, and they're pushed way off course. If you're really unlucky, you may wind up stuck in a whirlpool.
Another variation, found in underwater levels, is that the current requires speed boost phlebotinum or help from another character to get past them or block the current off. Alternately, they may serve as a Broken Bridge or Chokepoint Geography to force the character in a certain direction in the game, or be something like a one way street. In this case,making a mistake can get you blown all the way back to the beginning. Sometimes, the liquid in question can be something other than water as well.
In both cases, fast reflexes are usually required to avoid missing your turn and keep you going in the right direction. Often leads to the Inevitable Waterfall. Compare River of Insanity, a level where you have to traverse or cross a dangerous river, usually on foot.
- Ecco the Dolphin has the underwater type, requiring Ecco to push a rock ahead of himself to bypass the fast currents.
- Endless Ocean has a few of these where the character has to hold onto their dolphin partner to swim against them. In other cases, you get blown back with a "The current is too strong" message.
- The rafting minigame in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, where you need to shoot targets and steer your boat (one or the other), losing points as you slam into things.
- As well as the minigame in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, which has you collect items.
- In Tomb Raider III, the Madubu Gorge level in the South Pacific features whitewater rapids that can only be traversed by kayak.
- Dragon's Lair has a level where Dirk falls into an underground river and has to weave through rapids and whirlpools.
- The Waterway from Cave Story. You can't fight the current underwater; all you can do is let it carry you and time your jumps to avoid obstacles.
- The ending sequence of the The Oregon Trail games have you guiding your wagon down the Columbia river.
- Half the gameplay in The Amazon Trail is canoeing down the titular river, filled with logs, whirlpools, and other boats.
- The second-to-last section of The Yukon Trail has you navigating three sets of rapids, filled with rocks and whirlpools. Unlike Oregon Trail or Amazon Trail, you have to actually turn the whole boat to get out of the way. You barely get any room to see any upcoming rocks, and heading straight on (with the best boat) sends you hurtling too fast to notice and steer away from the obstacles in time. And they turn your boat towards them if you get too close. There are two consolations: the rapids aren't randomized, and you can steer into the wall of black behind you to slowly edge away from problem areas ahead of you.
- Wario Land II has segments where the water will sweep Wario in the opposite direction if he falls in. This requires either careful jumping across (moving) platforms or inching across on the back of a turtle who is able to paddle over the surface.
- Donkey Kong Country:
- The Game Boy Advance remake of Donkey Kong Country 3 added an extra world to the game, and one of the levels in that world was called Ripcurl Reef. It focused entirely on underwater currents.
- Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze had 4-6, Current Capers. A few other water levels had currents on occasion, but they were the main feature of this one.
- Super Mario Bros.
- Paper Mario: Sticker Star: The Jungle Rapids require Mario to steer a raft down a quickly flowing river and down several waterfalls enemies. Long Fall Falls has the same gimmick, except the main obstacle is a single giant Cheep-Chomp.
- Paper Mario: The Origami King: Eddy River in the Blue Streamer region is a rapidly flowing river connecting Autumn Mountain, Shogun Studios, and Sweetpaper Valley. Mario must navigate a boat past rocks, logs, and whirlpools at least once to reach Shogun Studios; after that, the river can be navigated for an optional minigame to collect all the coins and fill in all the Not-Bottomless Pits for 100% Completion.
- Pokémon has these in both Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire and Pokémon Black and White. They're surfing areas that are often broken up by still water where you must choose the correct next part of the current. Some also involve small jumps or areas of shallow water or land. Items will often be resting or floating there, along with trainers looking to battle. Fortunately, the Goddamned Bats leave you alone while you're whipping along at high speed.
- It's also part of the maze in Pokémon Red and Blue that must be navigated to catch Articuno. Rocks are pushed into the water through holes in the floor above to block the fast water.
- Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire have probably the largest one,since Hoenn region has so much water, and good luck shooting for the tiny area you have to dive into to get the Regi sidequest started.
- Golden Sun: The Lost Age. You need to navigate the whirlpools and currents in order to get to Lemuria. By going around the whirlpools in the correct sequence, you move along the correct path, as others will simply take you back to the beginning.