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Steam Vent Obstacle

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Francis: Hey, watch out for that steam pipe.
Zoey: Man, I love Steam.
Francis: Yeah, steam's alright, I guess.
Left 4 Dead, "Crash Course" DLC campaign

Steam vents are somewhat common as obstacles in video games. Typically, they produce a cloud of hot steam right in front of themselves; this is the actual obstacle.

Such obstacles range from being minor inconveniences to being damaging. They are typically static or intermittent obstacles, but seldom move around, since the pipes attached to them don't. They may become Goddamned Bats if their hit detection is badly programmed. If they are minor inconveniences, they act as such by causing Interface Screw.

These obstacles can be most commonly found in Eternal Engine setting. Sometimes they also come out from broken pipeworks.

If the vents are being pushy rather than harmful, see Vent Physics or Springs, Springs Everywhere, depending on how they propel the player upwards. See also the Flame Spewer Obstacle, where flame instead of heated steam is used as a hazard.


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  • Huntdown: In Teddy Taxman's stage, there are pipes that regularly vent out damaging steam.
  • Terminator 2 on the NES: Foundry stage has broken pipes that regularly vent out steam.

    Action Adventure 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: At Freeway 42, the underground city of the outcasts' holds a number of pipes letting loose steam for a few seconds.
  • Axiom Verge: In Zi, there are pipes that vent out damaging steam.
  • Brave Fencer Musashi has an area outside Grillin Village known as Steamwood Forest, where random steam pipes spew high-pressure streams of hot air. Some shoot out steam at regular intervals to provide temporary obstacles, and others continuously fire to create impenetrable barricades. After you repair the system that regulates the steam vents, Steamwood (you have to do this twice during the story), the vents cease to be a problem.
  • Sporadically used in The Legend of Zelda games. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess not only has a few around Death Mountain, but while it's enveloped in twilight, a Goron even laments that the appearance of one particular fumarole makes the path "impassable".
  • Metroid:
    • Metroid Prime: Steam vents produce steam that can clog up Samus's visor temporarily.
    • Super Metroid: In the intro level, Samus needs to escape a space station, while avoiding gushes of steam coming out from practically everywhere. If you get hit by the steam, you lose precious time to escape. It happens again during the escape from planet Zebes, only the steam's escaping from the ground itself.
  • ODT: Escape, or Die Trying had a level where pipes constantly leaked steam. And you had to use the pipes for moving.
  • Mirror's Edge had steam vents in a few levels, requiring you to stop, find a nearby valve, and shut it off. The lengthy valve-turning animation turned these into some of the game's most irritating obstacles, as this is a game built around going fast
  • Mission: Impossible (Konami): Open discharge valves with steam spewing out at regular intervals are a common stage hazard. Fortunately, they do only one unit of damage if they hit. The trap even gets a write up in the instruction manual.
  • Some in LEGO Star Wars, at least the ones that release very cold air.
  • Tomb Raider: Anniversary: Damaged pipes occasionally blowing bursts of steam are seen in Natla's Mines. The steam is blown at regular intervals, meaning Lara can easily climb past. Should she get hit, she'll merely lose some health, while staying attached to the pipe.
  • Infamous has a couple of sections where Cole MacGrath must avoid some vents slewing some steamy ooze.

    Beat Em Up 
  • The alien ship in Castle Crashers has an area where the floor is covered in air vents that periodically shoot out high-pressure gas. The damage they inflict is negligible, but they knock you high up in the air, and you're on a Timed Mission.
  • In the third level of Viewtiful Joe 2, an air vent serves as an obstacle in a puzzle. There are two settings you can activate. Either can block the path below, or let you ride the wind inside it, depending on which side you come from.

    First Person Shooter 
  • Steam vents appear in Half-Life games as obstacles. You have to time your passage through some, but others are static and you have to find a valve to shut them off with.
  • There is a steam vent puzzle in Duke Nukem Forever that doubles as a Take That! at Valve Software.
  • Blood II's first sewer level consists near-entirely of finding switches to turn off a series of steam vents blocking you from crossing a bridge to the exit. A warning sign with a stick figure being skeletonized by a steam jet shows up very early in the level, warning the player of what they can expect.
  • Played around with in First Encounter Assault Recon. Steam itself is rarely directly harmful to you, but half the time when you do see it, something invariably explodes near it and replaces it with fire, which is the real obstacle you need to get around.

    Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game 
  • Remnants of Skystone has steam vents as obstacles, despite their supposedly having been untended for nearly two hundred years, often acting just to make you schlep all the way around to try a particularly tricky threading-the-needle series of spikes and nasties.
  • Guild Wars 2 features steam vents as one of the more common obstacles in Inquest and Aetherblade bases. All cause some damage while a few will knock down the player as well.

    Platform Game 
  • Another World had deadly steam vents in the area where you're rolling your way through pipes.
  • Batman Returns for the Sega Genesis has annoying steam vents throughout the collapsed building level.
  • Battletoads has vents producing small puffs of poisonous gas that travel a short distance before dispersing harmlessly.
  • There are a few steam vents in the Inferno Cavern of La-Mulana, especially along one vertical shaft that hides a way to the chain whip upgrade.
  • Crash Bandicoot games have them too; they range from classic steam vents in factory levels to volcanic craters working the same.
  • First level of Cyber Shadow features steam outlets most prominently, some venting steam periodically while others vent steam constantly. Steam hurts upon contact.
  • Glimmer In Mirror contains steam obstacles, curiously enough, in the underground caverns and not the factory stages, where it at least makes sense. There are areas with cracked walls that spews steam which can damage your health, you need to time jumps to avoid getting hurt.
  • In Lords Of Exile, red pipes in the first stage periodically vent out damaging steam.
  • Maze Of Galious has spots on various platforms that produce periodic bursts of steam.
  • Mega Man 5 features damaging puffs of steam appear in Wave Man's stage. They also appear in Neptune's stage in Mega Man V.
  • The Messenger (2018) has a level called Music Box. One of the most common obstacles there are pipe outlets that vent out dangerous steam.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2 has whales in World 4 that spray geysers of water out of their blowholes. Touching the water spray from the side is dangerous, but standing on the spray is safe.
  • Rastan uses the fantastic equivalent of gargoyle-like stone blocks that release jets of blue flame.
  • The SpongeBob Movie Game features hazardous steam geysers, most notably in the desert and Planktopolis stages. They do damage most of the time, but SpongeBob's "Spongeball" form allows him to harmlessly ride the gusts of air instead.

    Puzzle Game 
  • In Rock 'n' Roll by Rainbow Arts, explosions act like this; they can occur when the player sets off bombs, but it's far more common for them to naturally occur on certain tiles at a constant interval.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • StarCraft II features these on a number of multiplayer maps - they do no damage, but serve to break line-of-sight.

    Role Playing Game 
  • One springs up in Martian Dreams once you've gotten the steam power working. It prevents you from shortcutting to the exit, and that's all.
  • The dungeon rooms in .hack//G.U. sometimes will have these alongside other booby traps. They reduce your SP when you're hit.
  • One mission in Mass Effect 2 takes place on an abandoned space station where the only real danger are a few damaged pipes that emit powerful jets of steam.
  • Undertale: The steam vents in Hotland are actually useful, as the steam rising from them helps you jump between platforms. However, there is one puzzle where the directions in which the steam vents send you keep changing depending on where you land, and getting past it can take a while. There is also another room with lots of platforms with steam vents that can be quite hard to navigate your way around.

    Shoot Em Up 
  • Thunder Cross II has them in the fourth level. Unlike most of the examples on this page, you can destroy them.

    Simulation Game 
  • In the World Adventures EP for The Sims 3, this is one of the traps in the tombs.

    Stealth Based Game 
  • Hitman: Absolution: 47 can take advantage of the valves in the Rosewood boiler room; release a flame cloud to incapacitate Wade, who staggers around blindly before dropping dead at last.
  • In Metal Gear Solid, there's a blast furnace full of leaky pipes where you can pick up the optional body armor.

    Survival Horror 
  • Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth has several. They are damaging and can cause interface screw if they are releasing toxic gas; they are part of a puzzle in one location where they need to be turned on in the correct order.
  • A puzzle late in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis involves shuffling active leaks in steam pipes. Successfully clearing a path nets Jill the Rocket Launcher.
  • Penumbra has a number of ruptured steam pipes, and one area is an entire grid of steam vents with a gated-off valve, that you have to cross in the right order.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • Warframe features Grineer shipyards, where smoke and fire leaking from pipes serve as minor obstacles. Similarly, Alad V's gas cities feature distressed pipes, which will release a nasty jet of fire; as well as door scanners made to surprise reckless intruders by releasing noxious gases.

    Turn Based Tactics 
  • Odium has you activate a steam vent to remove some slime off a walkway. The steam then becomes an obstacle itself, to be deactivated by a different switch.

    Non Video Game examples 
Films — Live-Action

Live-Action TV

Tabletop Games

  • In Exalted, it is explicitly noted that the Autocthonians don't believe in factory safety, and the wild lands of their mecha-world are even worse, because they aren't supposed to be traversed by humans at all. Therefore, damage statistics for this trope and several magical steam-breathing monsters are included.


Video Example(s):


Spring of Rainbows path Part 1

In this portion of the path, there is steam that can interfere with Mario. There is an optional part where you can plug up holes on the steam valves to raise a platform leading to a chest.

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