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 Legend of Zelda:
- The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening: The Rapids Ride, located in the eastern area of Koholint Island, has you collect items as you ride across the river with a raft while dealing with high-current rapids and waterfalls.
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: The rafting minigame in Zora's River, where you need to shoot targets and steer your boat (one or the other), losing points as you slam into things.
- 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 Oregon Trail: The ending sequence of the games have you guiding your wagon down the Columbia river.
- The Amazon Trail: Half the gameplay in the game is canoeing down the titular river, filled with logs, whirlpools, and other boats.
- The Yukon Trail: The second-to-last section of the game 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.
- Mario Party 6:
- The minigame Cash Flow has all characters ride across wide slides in the coast where water is flowing, and along the way they can gather coins and coin bags. One player is riding alone in a slide while driving a Koopa shell, while the other three characters are riding together in another slide, swimming on their own. Along the way, they must avoid Spiny shells (the solo player is only stunned for a brief while, but if any of the other three is hit then they'll be eliminated).
- The minigame Wrasslin' Rapids has all characters fighting against each other in a square-shaped raft that starts travelling through an underground river, which includes a large skeletal fossil whose bones begin falling one by one; the raft then reaches the cave's exit to reach a jungle, and keeps traversing the river while several Ukikis throw spiky fruits onto the players, and then it reaches a section next to a rail path traversed by a train whose passengers (Shy Guys) shoot projectiles from the wagons' cannons onto the players. Neither the punches from the players nor the external hazards are lethal, but whoever gets hit will be stunned; being thrown into the water will result in an elimination, however. The last player standing in the raft wins, though it's possible for more than one to win of they make it to the end of the raft's ride.
- Mario Party 7: The minigame Mad Props has two dueling characters drive hovercrafts to race across the rapids of a forest; due to the water's speed, they have to keep an eye on the large rocks to avoid clashing against them. Whoever reaches the goal line first wins. The minigame Fish & Cheeps takes place in a part of this save river, but the water flows less rapidly so the dueling players can swim more easily; the main hazard, in this case, is the incoming Cheep Cheeps that must be evaded, as touching one will result in an instant elimination and render the other player victorious (though if both resist during 30 seconds, the minigame ends in a tie).
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Provides the page image. The second level (Down The River) is an overhead autoscroller that takes Tom up the river. He can steer his raft to dodge whirlpools and jump over obstacles. At the end he battles a giant crocodile.
- 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 has 4-6, Current Capers. In it, Donkey Kong and his frienda have to activate certain mechanical gizmos to open their path to the exit while dealing with both the underwater currents and the harmful objects that move due to them. A few other water levels have currents on occasion, but they are the main feature of this one.
- 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.
- Several Mario Kart games have levels of this kind, like Piranha Plant Slide and Koopa Cape; though it's mostly you guiding the kart down the tube and trying not to slam into the walls/your opponents/whatever they're tossing at you.
- Etrian Odyssey: The Undersea Grotto, an aquatic dungeon in The Drowned City and Nexus, features underwater currents that have to be dealt with as the player's character party makes their way to the lower parts of the Yggdrasil (in the former game) or the eventual entrance to Yggdrasil itself (in the latter game). Not all these currents are detrimental, however: Some are helpful to succesfully avoid certain FOE monsters. At one point, a mystical sphere is collected and, when placed to its pedestal, it will shut down all currents across the labyrinth.
- 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.
- Pokémon Red and Blue: There is an aquatic maze based on this concept, and it 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 and Pokémon Black and White. There are surfing areas which are often broken up by still water where you must choose the correct next part of the current. Some parts 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.
- 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.