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Tide Level

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"The sudden and irregular changes in the water levels are a rare phenomenon found only in this area. The cause is as yet unknown, and is the subject of much research throughout the academic world."
Salmonid Field Guide, Splatoon 2

A level or world in a game in which some type of liquid or object or hazard rises and falls in intervals. This comes in three flavors:

  • Water Height: Water (or something which a character is able to swim in, like Mega Mack) rises and falls throughout the level and is sometimes needed to reach certain treasures, all while affecting the floating platforms on top of it. This may either happen periodically in seconds or through a mechanism that changes the water level when activated (and depending on how the level exploits the latter method, the player may have a Toggling Setpiece Puzzle at hand). Usually found in Under the Sea or Palmtree Panic levels. Compare Rising Water, Rising Tension.
  • Lava Tide: Lava (usually, sometimes it's something like poison or lots of enemies) rises up and down, often indicated by scorch marks or an abrupt change in color on the platforms. For extra difficulty, the platforms may sink. Frequently found in Lethal Lava Land levels.
  • Spiky Scenery: This one is that the platforms themselves are the hazards. May involve the platforms sprouting spikes, turning glowing-hot, baddies bursting out of the platforms, etc.

See also Down the Drain. For instances where the water rises without going back down, see Rise to the Challenge.


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  • Alwa's Legacy has a water dungeon where Zoe must activate mechanisms to raise the water level and the platforms floating on it that are needed to advance through the area.
  • The Legend of Zelda
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has the Water Temple, where Link must raise and lower the water to three different levels to progress through the dungeon.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games:
      • In Oracle of Seasons, lakes dry up in summer and freeze over in winter, allowing access to different areas.
      • In Oracle of Ages, navigating through Jabu Jabu's Belly requires finding switches to raise and lower the water level, opening some paths and closing others as the water level changes.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: The water in the entry level of the Tower of the Gods raises/lowers periodically, and adapting to the changing water level is key to eventually gain access to the higher levels of the tower.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: The Lakebed Temple's main mechanic is redirecting the flow of water to different areas of the temple to power waterwheels and other mechanisms to progress.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: The Speed of Light Shrine involves you pushing a wheel, which turns a laser to hit a crystal which floods the room when on and drains it when off.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: In a cave located in the far southeast shore of the Lanayru region, the water periodically raises and lowers its level. There's a sidequest taking place here which has Link use a raft to help Sasan reunite with a Zora friend (Finley) at the end of a cave. As he does so, Link has to keep an eye on the water's level, because there are rocky pillars that obstruct progression when the level is lowering. When Link reunites the two characters, he receives a reward. A Shrine is also located in the cave's end.
  • Metroid Dread has rooms in Artaria and Burenia that require you to shoot holes in the walls of bodies of water to drain them in order to progress.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • The Marathon 2: Durandal level "Bob's Big Date" starts in a room with greenish water that rapidly fills and drains while enemies shoot at you from above. Fortunately, flipping a switch in another room keeps the water at waist level.

  • Astro Bot Rescue Mission: Feed Willy takes place inside of a whale, where there's a tide to allow Astro to reach higher areas. Due to having a life preserver on him, this means that he'll be floating on the water the whole time, meaning you'll also need to steer clear of obstacles like jellyfish.
  • Banjo-Kazooie has Click Clock Wood, which has the lake in the level change depending on the level's season.
  • Castle of Illusion: In the Genesis and Mega Drive version, one part of the ancient ruins is a corridor that periodically floods, drowning you when it gets deep enough. You have to rush to the next elevated platform whenever the water lowers.
  • Celeste: Parts of The Core involve the threat of a lava pool below, and a ceiling of ice spikes above. You flip switches to toggle which one advances and which recedes, and this whole section is basically a constant rush to the next switch before the lava or spikes get too far.
  • Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped: The level Tomb Wader has the water rising up and down at intervals in certain sections. Crash cannot swim, so when the water goes up, he has to quickly find a tall footing or a floating platform to keep himself safe.
  • Inverted in Jak 3 and its Spargus Arena challenges, where the platform you fight on sinks partially and temporarily into lava instead. The outcome is the same however; you have to find higher ground in time or you'll burn.
  • Mega Man
    • Megaman 4: In Dive Man's stage, water rises and falls at regular intervals in some sections. You must use the extra jump height from rising water to help you navigate the stage, but beware spiky sea mines which float on top of the water.
    • Megaman 7: Burst Man's stage is filled with some orange liquid which rises and falls. Unlike regular water, Mega Man floats to the surface of this goo. You have to use this to reach high platforms at high tide, but the goo drains far enough at low tide to drop you into Spikes of Doom at the bottom.
    • Megaman Zero 3: When the water rises in Volteel Biblio's flooded library, it makes contact with exposed power cables, shocking anything in the water, but it is safe to pass through the water as it falls below them.
  • Outer Wilds has a variant with the Hourglass Twins, a binary planet whose bodies exert enough gravitational force on each other to have a column of sand falling from one to the other. This fills the caverns and canyons of Ember Twin, cutting off passages and putting you in danger of being crushed against the ceiling if you get trapped in a dead end, while the draining sand on Ash Twin exposes Nomai structures buried beneath it, opening up new things to explore. This is supposedly a cyclical process, but you only see the sand flowing one direction over the course of the game.
  • Rain World's Downpour DLC has versions of Drainage System and Shoreline's path to Subterranean where drainage machninery is still active enough to make the water levels repeatedly rise and fall. This was implemented to allow traversal by the Artificer, an explosion-attuned Slugcat whose lungs detonate if she stays underwater for more than five seconds.
  • The second revisit of Aranos in Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando has tunnels with raising and falling lava inside a flying laboratory.
  • In Stage Three of Rocket Knight Adventures, there is a rising and falling pool of reflective lava that instantly kills Sparkster if he falls into it. Since crystals block the view of certain platforms, Sparkster needs the lava to see his reflection and cross the platforms safely. He also needs to charge his jet pack and time his charge perfectly so that he can safely make it under the lower paths when the lava is at its lowest. Later in the same stage. Sparkster comes to a rising and falling pool of water, and he needs to charge his jet pack, timing the charge perfectly so he can make it under low spiky ceilings when the water is at its lowest.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario Bros. 3 has World 3-3 and World 3-8 where the player is persistently chased by a big jumping Cheep Cheep swimming in oscillating water.
    • In Super Mario World:
      • Wendy's Castle, found in Chocolate Island, has various rocky platforms rise and lower periodically while keeping the standard floor and ceiling static. These platforms can kill Mario and Luigi instantly.
      • Mondo in the Special Zone is the water version of this trope. As the water's level varies, so does the difficulty of dealing with enemies (especially Cheep Cheeps and Amazing Flyin' Guys).
    • New Super Mario Bros.: World 6-2 has water whose level changes. It's not a completely continuous change, as the water does pause when it's at the minimum as well as at the maximum. When it rises, the Spinies retract into their shells, becoming floating hazards.
    • New Super Mario Bros. 2: Rising tides of poison appear in the 3rd level of Coin Rush mode's Impossible Pack.
    • New Super Mario Bros. U: The level Rising Tides of Lava (World 8-3) has exactly that, with floating Big Buzzy Beetle shells for save passage.
    • Super Mario 64 has Wet-Dry World. There are multicolored devices interspersed throughout the level that raise the water to their level when touched once and drain it back to the previous level when touched twice.
    • Super Mario Galaxy: Melty Molten Galaxy has a hidden star that has you collect Silver Stars on a planet that has a rising and falling lava tide.
    • Super Mario 3D World has Simmering Lava Lake, the penultimate level of World Castle before taking on Bowser for the final Sprixie Princess. The player has to make their way through a lake of lava that rises and falls. You have to wait until the tide lowers in order to pass through.
    • Super Mario Maker 2: When making a course in the Forest or Castle themes, you can choose to set the liquid level, how fast it goes up and down, and the maximum and minimum heights it can reach. The liquid is water for the daytime version of Forest, lava for Castle, and poison in the night version of Forest.
    • Pump Works from Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story involves Bowser guzzling water on the outside to allow the bros. to swim around by filling it with water, as this is his body's version of the kidneys (they process liquids)- It also changes some of the enemies there: Bubble Bloopers are in the Pipe Works when it's wet and Dry Bloopers (which are essentially dehydrated Bubble Bloopers) when it's dry.
  • In Tiny Toon Adventures 2: Montana's Movie Madness, the Samurai Saga has a rising and falling pool of One-Hit Kill water in the bath house. Buster must travel across the lower path when the water is at its lowest, but get to higher ground when the water rises.

    Role Playing Games 
  • Bug Fables has Stream Mountain, where Team Snakemouth must raise and lower the water levels using crystals in order to traverse its interior. Water Strider enemies are found here, and how obstructive they are to the party depends on the water level.
  • Cthulhu Saves the World features the water shrine where levers allow for draining pools or filling them back in. Draining them allows Cthulhu's party to walk on their bottom, but it also drops the rafts which are the only way to certain upper level areas.
  • Golden Sun: The penultimate puzzle in Kolima Forest involves moving logs around an empty basin, then flooding it to walk across the logs to new areas.
  • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn: Ayuthay can be fully explored once you fix the Alchemy Well to lower the water surrounding it, letting you access some underwater items and revealing a heretofore-unseen dungeon.
  • Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire has Shoal Cave, a cavern that alternates between high tide and low tide during different parts of the in game day. During high tide, you can use Surf to reach areas normally too high to get to during low tide, and during low tide, the flooded parts of the cave drain out, allowing you to walk in them. There's even a secret Slippy-Slidey Ice World accessible at low tide where one can find the then-elusive Snorunt.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty: The mission "The Devil's Playground" is set on a planet that is flooded with lava every few minutes. Essential resources are found only in the flood zones, requiring the player to rush their gatherers in and out of the affected areas in a timely fashion, which is made possible by the Terrans' mobile bases.
  • Hey! Pikmin: The Treacherous Currents level has a tide system, forcing Olimar and his Pikmin to make a balance between underwater and land mobility.
  • Empires of the Undergrowth: The beach-themed levels, which consist of the 2.X story missions and Towhead for Freeplay, have periodically changing tide levels as a major hazard. For the story missions, the tide rises as night falls and lowers as the sun rises, with the low tide providing players time to gather up insect carcasses on the beach to restock their food supples. Towhead, meanwhile, has tide changes as a hazard for extra points which will completely wash away anything stuck on the exposed beaches but does not restock your food stores.

    Tower Defense 
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time has the notoriously difficult Big Wave Beach levels, in which the sea periodically inundates the area you have to defend, requiring you to support most plants with lily pads and causing some of the zombie types to become more dangerous.

Non video game examples:

    Tabletop Games 
  • Pathfinder: Xin-Grafar is a long-lost City Of Gold — which is to say, magical canals of molten gold overflow at regular intervals to fill the city walls, courtesy of a buggy defense mechanism. Players need to get in and out before the cycle repeats or have some means of surviving the horribly lethal conditions.

  • Old Kingdom: The Afterlife Antechamber of Death takes the form of an infinite misty river divided into nine "precincts", each with its own unique hazards. Necromancers have to sprint through the Third Precinct or else be caught up in a sudden surge of water that will carry them deep into Death and distort them into monsters.

    Real Life 
The Mont Saint-Michel monastery in France is cut off from the mainland at high tide, with many a pilgrim or besieger drowned by the incoming water (proverbially said to be as fast as a galloping horse).


Rising Tides of Lava

Exactly what you'd expect.

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