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Vent Physics

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"I'm soaring like a candy wrapper in an updraught!"
Homer Simpson when jumping onto a vent, The Simpsons Hit & Run

Sometimes, Jump Physics aren't enough to give you the vertical boost you need in a video game level. That's when conveniently placed air vents could come in handy — just be sure that they're switched on first. There may also be fans to blow you sideways.

If you're much smaller than the environment, being able to hover over air vents makes sense. In other cases, just trust that the vents are powerful enough to keep you buoyant.

If the vents are being harmful rather than pushy, see Steam Vent Obstacle. See also Gusty Glade where there are no fans visible. One of the ways to make a Spring Jump.


Action-Adventure Games

  • Grasstown in Cave Story has a number of fans to help you get up to otherwise out-of-the-way places. In the Final Cave, players considered to be maskers have some spikes replaced with fans to allow progress to the end.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: The Shadow Temple and the forest route of Ganon's Tower use giant fans for this purpose. Wearing the Iron Boots will keep Link from being blown around and even let him advance through the gust. At one point, however, you have to use the Hover Boots so you can be safely pushes airborne towards a distant spot without falling into the pit in-between.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Link gets the 'sailcloth', a small square of fabric that miraculously works as well as a parachute. It has the side bonus of lifting him high into the air whenever he steps over an air vent.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has the paraglider. With a certain ability, Link can even create his very own (temporary) updraft.
  • The Simpsons Hit & Run has a few of these to boost you farther than your Double Jump can go. Homer says "I'm soaring like a candy wrapper in an updraft!"
  • Raziel from Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver can do this by spreading his wings over air vents. This is necessary for several puzzles.
  • Bob from Messiah is a cherub who, being small and light, can be propelled upwards by fans.

Beat 'em Up

Edutainment Games

  • Even though it was an educational game about physics, Super Solvers: Gizmos & Gadgets! featured air vents as a way to progress through the platforming sections.

First-Person Shooter

  • Half-Life
    • There's one area where Gordon has to turn on a big fan, which propels him up to crash against the ceiling. Yet despite "falling" up about 100 feet and slamming into a set of wood boards, he's not hurt. Freeman's Mind does claim that he got the breath knocked out of him upon impact.
      Gordon: [wheezing] I though you had to be wearing MC Hammer pants and a poncho for that to work!
    • Black Mesa goes on a simpler, more logical route: after Gordon soars a certain height, he's merely suspended in place by the updraft, just enough to reach into the correct Air-Vent Passageway.
  • The Halo games have this from Halo 2 and 3 multiplayer onward. If a map is supposed to be human in design (as opposed to Covenant), it'll have vents that push you to the next floor. Bungie did this because Ladder Physics are just problematic and silly. The third installment also introduced the Man Cannon, capable of launching you forward for about a hundred yards. The Covenant and Forerunner maps have actual gravity lifts instead of vents.
  • In the Supertanker of Deus Ex, JC Denton can ride the updraft of a fan in order to reach two air vents.
  • In Shogo: Mobile Armor Division, Sanjuro has to reverse the air flow in Shaft B so that it will slow his MCA as it falls down to a ledge below, then ride another air shaft upward to escape. He has some doubts about this method when Hank proposes it to him. Later on, after Ryo betrays him, he jumps into an air intake tube in order to re-enter a facility.
  • Several areas in the Jedi Knight series use this. In Jedi Academy, Kyle even explains them to Jaden.
  • In the Dystopia map "Silo", Corp deckers can turn on fans while Punks are in the vents to send them flying into a laser grid.
  • Primagen's Lightship in Turok 2 has giant fans that propel you both vertically and horizontally. Getting sucked into one generally results in death.
  • The Wind Tunnels level in Quake. Quake II also had a few air shafts with fan currents, including one instance where you had to deactivate the fan to descend the shaft, lest you get chopped up.

Miscellaneous Games

  • Vent Physics was the defining gameplay mechanic of the Glider series, in which you play as a paper airplane that can only increase altitude when over a vent or other source of hot air.
  • Ballance has the fans, which work only for the Paper ball and sometimes force you to make some complex maneouvers in mid-air.
  • Air vents are used a lot in level design in Scribblenauts.
    • They can also be used by the player to push faraway items around, making them a Game-Breaker.
  • The Angry Birds spinoffs have started to incorporate this:
    • The "Red Planet" level of Angry Birds Space has volcanic vents that can either help or hinder you based on the screen design.
    • The Cloud City episode of Angry Birds Star Wars has large air vents in several levels that alter bird flight paths and send used birds and debris flying around.
    • Angry Birds 2 has fans in several stages that have the same effect as the vents in AB Star Wars.
  • Kirby's Dream Course features air vents on some levels, which give Kirby a lift when he ends up above one.
  • Season 3 of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout introduces giant fans, whose winds can blow players away. They are usually placed as hindrances on race levels to push players back, or in the case of Freezy Peak, to lift players high up in the air.
  • One of Ghostrunner's early-levels is filled with massive wind turbines that you can lift you way up in the air and aid your platforming. The problem is that some of the vents also risk pushing you off platforms, or if they're above, shoving you straight down a bottomless pit.


  • Super Mario Galaxy 2 has levels where Mario or Luigi has to deal with powerful blowing fans with the Cloud Flower. The Solid Clouds formed with that powerup will be pushed by the wind gusts.
  • Star Fox Adventures: Happens in the Krazoa Palace due to the numerous air vents, since the dungeon itself is themed around Gusty Glade. And some doorways in the Cloudrunner Fortress feature them, too.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • This happens in Sonic The Hedgehog 3 in Hydrocity Zone with fans that are often placed on the bottom of the water. Occasionally you will even encounter walls of fans that blow you uncontrollably in a general direction which may even end up being straight up to the top of the level depending on the grade of slopes in your way.
    • Ditto for Sonic Adventure 2—actual visible fans in Security Hall and invisible air drafts keeping you aloft in one part of Radical Highway.
    • In Sonic Heroes, these vents appear in several levels, but you'll just tumble uselessly a few feet above them unless you switch to Power formation and use the Triangle Dive.
    • In Shadow the Hedgehog, there are giant fans that blow you up into the air in at least one level.
    • As seen in the page image, this happens a lot in Sonic Rush Adventure.
  • Comes up in several levels in Drawn to Life
  • Very frequent in Bionic Commando. Also quite necessary since the game lacks an actual jump button.
  • Mega Man has encountered vent physics many times. Everybody's favourite example is Air Man, a Mega Man 2 boss who cannot be defeated thanks to the giant fan in his stomach. MegaMan.EXE had a similar encounter with AirMan.EXE in Mega Man Battle Network 2.
    • In Mega Man 7, there is a boss battle where there are fans giving you that extra height to your jumps.
  • Metroid Prime 3 makes use of this trope for sections when Samus is navigating her way through mazes while in Morph Ball form. The vents themselves often have to be activated with a bomb.
    • The original Metroid Prime also had a very few segments where you navigated underwater mazes in morph ball form, and currents were very important.
  • In Jak 3: Wastelander, there are some floor structures in some areas of Haven City that shoot you high into the air...if you're riding a hoverboard.
  • Vents allow Bartman to fly in The Simpsons Game.
  • In Jazz Jackrabbit there are fans of various strengths that will propel you into the air which can be overcome by pressing the down key.
  • Thermal vents are used to fly across some levels of Icycle, with the player often sinking out the bottom of the screen and rising again.
  • The Hospital in Super Meat Boy has several levels based around using fans for movement. There are also a few in the Brutal Bonus Level.
  • In Psychonauts, there are fans, soap bubbles and rotting pieces of meat which are used in this way.
  • Bug! has this in some levels, where the springs are gas vents that propel him upwards.
  • American McGee's Alice and Alice: Madness Returns have vents that allow Alice to ride the currents with a Parachute Petticoat effect.
  • These exist in Yoshi's Island DS, where you have to use Baby Peach's parasol to ride the updrafts/gusts of wind across large gaps/past mazes filled with spikes.
  • Blade Kitten also has vents - both horizontal and vertical varieties.
  • Subverted in Contra Force, where the vents in the first level do this, but it's easier to blow them up and reach the platform manually instead.
  • Punky Skunk has visible air currents which Punky can ride by using the Paraglider.
  • Tomba! 2 has this as a major means of navigating around the Pipe Area. Each vent requires Tomba to freeze and then knock off a Capper residing on top of it so that steam can come out.


  • The Talos Principle: The fan operates its own set of physics which are distinct from the more realistic rules used otherwise in the game. Any bot or block, including items carried by such, placed directly in front of the fan is flung along a specific fixed trajectory, regardless of the target's total weight or its momentum prior to entering the fan.


  • In Pokémon Black and White before going to the Victory Road, you need to pass through a series of doors/gates. To pass you need to prove you have the gym badge and you can proceed. Each room has a theme which resembles the gym type. One of them has no floor, just wind...
    • Skyla's gym in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 plays with this. The fans will blow you the wrong way if you aren't careful, but along with the stops, they must be utilized to navigate the puzzle and reach her.
  • Mass Effect 2's DLC mission "Overlord" features a few steam vents that can lift your Hammerhead tank to otherwise out-of-reach places.
  • Undertale: Hotland has quite a lot of steam vents that can be used to jump between platforms, complete with a satisfying "Whoosh" sound. One room has a puzzle where the direction in which the steam vents take you keep changing based on where you land, which can be hard to solve, especially if you end up on the Inconveniently-Placed Conveyor Belt that takes you back to the start.

Third-Person Shooter

  • Dead Space has grav-panels that push things up...with enough force to pulp you.
  • Shogo: Mobile Armor Division had one level set in an enormous ventilation system with a gargantuan fan at the bottom providing lift and an easy way to kill yourself. How big exactly? Well, big enough to accomodate (and send flying) the Humongous Mecha that you're piloting.

Real Life