Living Your Best Life (Bar)

Hey, what are some cool life bars (aesthetically, mechanically, conceptually, or otherwise)?

I appreciate life bars that borrow some of the aesthetics of the game, but really only if they stay readable at a glance. I find it at least a bit repulsive, personally, but the blood and guts of the Primal Rage life bar certainly fit the theme...complete with exploding organs:

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Part of my inspiration for this was a game @"exodus"#3 mentioned on an old show that featured candles as a life bar (I'm pretty sure it was Samurai Ghost), but it reminded me of the rad life bars from the otherwise mediocre Battle Monsters for the Saturn. Look at that unnecessarily lavish detail!

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Moving on from aesthetics, I appreciate any game that tries to give a diegetic justification for its life bar, such as Dead Space (OK, maybe not _any_ game...the Jurassic Park Trespasser heart tattoo is a bit gratuitous lol):

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How about mechanically interesting life bars? My immediate thought is the "[rally system](" from Bloodborne, which provides a 5 second window to regain a segment of lost health if you successfully damage an enemy:

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Some life bars are really only interesting because of some personal connection...for me the little tiny segmented life bars of your troops in StarCraft are significant because I would see a sea of them ticking down when I closed my eyes for hours after most play sessions...

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@“Dunkr”#p38868 There's a great Ahoy episode about something very similar, the Chicken-o-meter:

Similar to Dead Space, I love the non HUD based watch health status in RE7.


I generally find games with minimal HUDs to be really appealing, and being able to use the in-game visuals to convey necessary info to the player is something that just feels "right" to me.

Half Life: Alyx does this really well too:

@“fetus8”#p38873 that first example reminds me of the iconic GoldenEye pause menu watch—pretty cool, especially if you imagine Mr Brosnan smashing himself in the face with it every time you hit the start button

@“fetus8”#p38873 Racing games where you can condense the entire HUD down to the dash or steering wheel are good examples of this too.

Do the portraits of BJ and DoomGuy in Wolfenstein 3D and Doom / Doom II count?

Surprised no one said Trespasser yet.–%20Jurassic%20Park%3A%20Trespasser/Replay_tresspasser_600.jpg



@“kory”#p38864 (OK, maybe not any game…the Jurassic Park Trespasser heart tattoo is a bit gratuitous lol)


I'll be the one to say it:

No More Heroes has a very pleasing life points indicator, the way it adds new color as your max health increases.

Can’t post the image right now* but the reason that life bar is interesting isn’t visual so I can share the comment anyway. Just picture a screenshot of F-Zero Climax in your head.

I dig the excellent game design rule, introduced by F-Zero X, of [combining the ship’s health and boost fuel]( into a common energy gauge in the F-Zero series. It has since been included in all F-Zero games and you would be forgiven for forgetting it was not already there [in the original Super Famicom game.]( This health = boost mechanic has completely changed the game’s design, making it simultaneously more complex, intuitive and dynamic.

I was thinking about F-Zero again last night because I am currently replaying [Earth Defense Force 2 on the Switch]( and the Pale Wing soldier class has a similar “trade” mechanic with most of its weapons using the same energy gauge as its jet pack, forcing the player to carefully consider how much mobility they are ready to sacrifice at any given moment.

I am always partial to games that allow players to manage any kind of resource in different ways, but health is very rarely the resource that games dare use in such cases. One example that comes to mind is old “belt scroll” brawlers that allowed trading life for a super move, although that often felt like a cheap trick intended to favor arcade operators rather than genuinely providing an interesting choice to players.


@“chazumaru”#p39016 One example that comes to mind is old “belt scroll” brawlers that allowed trading life for a super move, although that often felt like a cheap trick intended to favor arcade operators rather than genuinely providing an interesting choice to players.

This is the example I immediately thought of when I started reading your post...I have to admit I _hate_ this particular implementation of the system. It really disincentivized the use of these special moves, though I suppose that's the point. It makes sense to create a system in which they are only used in moments of desperation, but in those moments there's a very good chance that what remains of your life bar is most precious! I like the F-Zero example a lot, though, because it seems like it is designed to allow for riskier higher level play for players who think they can handle it (and a nice slap in the face when their vehicle explodes as a result of their hubris!).

A very similar system was out in place in Wipeout 3. I loved the hyper thrust consuming shield energy, and felt like it added a tactical layer on top of the excellent Wipeout racing.

_Many_ wipeout fans disagree with me. Or at least, they did at the time in the wipeout community forums! 2097/XL was the clear community favourite, but I always preferred W3/W3SE.

Also on the aesthetics front, everything wipeout is great, including the W3 “health” bar.

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I'm wondering if there are any games that have mini-games that take place within the life bar. Something like Gauge or Line Wobbler or a swing meter from a golf game. Like a pinball lcd mini-game but more one dimensional. Maybe this is a dumb idea but I kind of want to see it.

@“Dunkr”#p39099 I'd be into it!

I could've been talking about Samurai Ghost, but I could've also been talking about Battle Monsters, with its extremely overanimated and over the top candle flame life bar

I used to hate the stat bars in pocket fighter because I didn't like the gem pickup mechanic, but now I think it's kind of cute if you're just playing around and not trying to get serious? It sure is a lot of information to look at.

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I was gonna show y'all an example of the how the overanimated candle flames block your ability to see low kicks and stuff, but in my brief search I found a level whose entire foreground does that regardless lol. what a game.

what a good example, you can only take two hits (usually) and you sure do appear vulnerable when you go from suit of armor to heart boxers.

IMHO dude is wearing the wrong armor if it shatters that easily and completely.

@“exodus”#p39119 dang, I forgot how aggressive the scaling/zooming in that game was


Those Virgin games are notorious for that. Genesis Aladdin with the lamp smoke life bar is egregious.

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I really liked Hollow Knight's approach to player health and especially health recovery, and think it is one of the many testament's to how well I believe the game is balanced. Hollow Knight's health and health recovery system is even more sophisticated, imo, than the games that they were inspired by, Dark Souls and even more so Bloodborne.

  • - Health is represented by Masks, of which, at least not including buffs and debuffs, is basically an integer value.
  • - A small minimum and maximum is available throughout the game, too. You start with 5 and with full upgrades you have 9. An action-y but nevertheless illustrative example of one of my favourite things, Small Numbers in RPGs.
  • - The vast majority of enemy damage deals the same amount of damage: 1. Thusly, for the most part^1^, you can basically see your remaining health pool more as the remaining number of mistakes in dodging or blocking damage.
  • - In _Hollow Knight_ your access to secondary abilities is using a resource called Soul.
  • - Soul is stored in Soul Vessels, and can upgrade your capacity over the course of the game, from 1 to 4.
  • - Unlike Masks, Soul Vessels aren't just integers. They're better thought of as 4 separate tanks of 100 points of Soul.
  • - Many secondary attacks use less than a full tank of Soul, but for your primary usage of Soul is to use Focus.
  • - Holding the Focus button makes The Knight start charging up and consuming Soul at a rate that quickly accelerates. Once you consume 100 Soul without interrupting the Focus, you get 1 Mask of health back. If you continue holding it you will continue consuming Soul, still at a fast rate, and for each 100 Soul you use you get 1 more Mask back (e.g. you can heal 1 HP with 1 second, 2 HP with 1.5 seconds, numbers made up but you get the picture).
  • - So in essence you only have between 5 and 9 HP points, and you also only have between (again, without modifications) 1 and 4 HP points stored up in reserve, which you can also use to do secondary attacks and abilities.
  • - The fun part is that Soul is gained by striking a hostile with a regular sword strike. It's kind of like _Bloodborne's_ Rally system in retrograde and combined with Blood Vials. Instead of having a brief window to regain health after being hit, you have an ongoing health point reserve which you can either stock up on to recover health after/during a fight, or you can maximize your damage output by blowing it on offensive spells immediately.
    -Character modifications can do fun things too like add max health, but also add a lot of max health upfront that only gets replenished at safe points and you can't recover it with Focus, convert one of the health points you've lost into a point that will recover in a short time if you don't get hit again, and then there's also mods for how much or how fast your Focus recovers health, even a fun one that ||turns you into a little slug when you use Focus so you can move a little bit while using it.||
  • It's simple but well designed imo!

    ^1^ - I say "for the most part" because frankly speaking one of the parts of the game that I find most annoying is when the difficulty of a certain enemy or attack is arbitrarily increased just by making them do 2 or 3 points of damage instead of 1. This is a little too common and doesn't always feel all that logical, like, you just have to accept that some attacks do double or triple damage while not exactly being telegraphed as being any more dangerous than any other attack. Team Cherry, if you're reading and it's not too late into the development of _Hollow Knight: Silksong_, at least add some sort of consistent graphic to denote attacks that do more damage than almost everything else in the game... Mostly, though, they err on the side of making things hard to dodge rather than heightening the punishment from failing to dodge which I think is just more exciting gameplay-wise.