Water levels are the bane of my existence. I can think of nothing that can ruin a game faster for me than a Water level. The terrible controls, slow movement and sometimes a breath meter. Whoever thought water levels were a good idea needs to be slapped. Another contributing factor to why I have such a disdain for water levels is the sense of drowning. It's something that I don't like to experience. But being shot, crushed, mauled, dismembered, or falling to my death are completely fine.
Over the entirety of my gaming career, water levels have generally ruined my overall experience. By either being excessively difficult or just a complete waste of time to extend the length of a game. So I'll go over some that were good and some that were bad.
First up, is where it all began. 1983's Alley Cat developed by Bill Williams and published by Synapse Software. Alley Cat had a fishbowl that you would jump into. Once inside you had to swim around and catch all the fish while avoiding electric eels. As well as being sure not to run out of breath.
Next up we have Super Mario Bros. In 1985 Shigeru Miyamoto felt he should spread the joy of water levels. There was no breath meter and the overall water levels were a major pain if you didn't have the fire flower power up. Dogding Bloopers and Cheep Cheeps was almost entertaining. But tapping the swim button one to many times resulted in so many unnecessary deaths.
Now this water level, may be the very reason I hate water levels so much. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles dam level. You had to swim around and disarm bombs. Now granted they don't give you a breath meter. Maybe because your a turtle and don't need to come up for air very often. Instead they make it a timed level. Why would you do this to someone? But wait there's more. Lets make it hard to control your character and add some areas that are virtually impossible to swim through without taking crap loads of damage.
Devil May Cry tricked me into thinking the Abyss water level was going to be cool. But of course it wasn't. The controls were atrocious and they took away your ability to use your sword and guns. But at least it could go into first person so you got away from those annoying locked cameras from the rest of the game. This level felt like it had just been tossed in to mix it up a little. It should have just been left out.
Ecco the Dolphin was a game based entirely underwater. You had to swim around looking for items while constantly making sure you didn't run out of breath. I did find the way that you regained health pretty neat. You had to charge fish to eat them. Which in turn gave you back life. Overall I found the game extremely frustrating even with the ability to swim fast and charge. Theres just something extremely annoying about hunting for spots to breath while your trying to complete objectives or explore.
Even Blizzard had to get in on the underwater concept. So in the new World of Warcraft expansion Cataclysm they added an entire zone that was underwater called Vashj'ir. That's right folks you get to spend several hours underwater. At least they did away with the breath meter in this zone. They also gave you the ability to move faster while on the sea floor or on the new sea horse mounts. The new zone was actually nice to look at. But it still had that awful underwater feel to it.
I know this is just a few examples but I really don't know of any water levels that made we go "wow!!!" that was fun. So all that I'm saying is that I'd love to see water levels evaporate into history. Until they either put a little more effort into their creation or change some of the fundamental mechanics. Until then let me know what you think about water levels either in the comments or on the forums. Also we discuss our distaste for water levels on Episode 62.