The Health Meter is an onscreen indicator of how much health the player character currently has left. It usually appears somewhere on the top of the screen as part of the HUD, but it can also appear in other locations on the screen as well. The Health Meter varies from game to game on how many sections it has.
Super Mario series
Super Mario Bros. 2
In Super Mario Bros. 2, the Health Meter (known as the Life Meter or Life Gauge) appears in the top-left corner of the screen at the start of each level, and consists of two hexagons arranged vertically. These hexagons were later changed to hearts in the Super Mario All-Stars remaster of the original game as well as in Super Mario Advance. Each section of the Life Gauge represents one hit point each. Normally, the hexagons or hearts will be red. When the player is damaged, however, one health section will be lost, and will turn white instead of red (in the All-Stars remaster and the GBA remake, it will turn concave and empty). The character will shrink when they have one hit point left; this state persists between levels and is the starting form for each life in Super Mario Advance.
Sections of the Life Gauge can be replenished by collecting small hearts (which are bigger in the GBA remake). These hearts can often be found floating upward from the ground after eight enemies have been defeated (in the original and All-Stars versions) or floating in place, appearing after a thrown object beats two enemies in a row, from Big Shy Guys or Big Ninjis thrown to the ground or beaten, from enemies beaten with shells, from beaten Ostros, or by pulling them up from grass (in the GBA version).
In most levels, there are up to two (three in Super Mario Advance) Mushrooms hidden in Subspace which will refill the Life Gauge and each increase its sections by one, up to a maximum of four (five in Super Mario Advance). It will then revert back to just two health sections at the beginning of the next level.
Super Mario 64 / Super Mario 64 DS
In Super Mario 64, Mario's Health Meter (known as the Power Meter) is normally not displayed on the screen until he takes considerable damage from falling or touching enemies, etc. When it does appear, it is displayed on the top middle of the screen. When Mario takes damage, it appears by popping up at a short distance below from the top middle of the screen, and shortly, it moves to the top middle of the screen. Once it is full again, it disappears, except when Mario is in water. In this game, it is a wooden profile shaped like Mario's head, with a circle in the middle that displays eight wedges. When he takes damage, some of the wedges gradually disappear.
As some of the wedges disappear, the color of the wedges changes to correspond to the number of wedges that remain:
- Blue: when there are eight or seven wedges
- Green: when there are six or five wedges
- Yellow: when there are four or three wedges
- Red: when there are two or one wedge
Mario can refill his Power Meter by collecting various coins: Yellow Coins replenish one wedge, Red Coins replenish two wedges, and Blue Coins replenish five wedges. He can also refill it by running through Spinning Hearts, which can be found in most if not all of the levels. The faster he runs through them, the more health he regains. The Power Meter will also automatically refill immediately after Mario exits a level after collecting a Power Star if it is not already filled.
In this game, Mario's Power Meter also acts as his breath meter when he is floating on the water. When he enters the water, the Power Meter shows at the top middle of the screen, even when he is on the surface of the water. After he goes underwater, the wedges gradually disappear. On the flip side, if Mario remains in the water with his head above the water, the Power Meter will completely refill to eight wedges. The freezing water in Snowman's Land and Chief Chilly Challenge (Super Mario 64 DS only) depletes his wedges three times faster than normal water, even if he is on the surface of the freezing water, and the Power Meter cannot be replenished when Mario has his head above the freezing water.
When the Power Meter has one or two wedges remaining, Mario begins to pant when standing still on ground. This is only a cosmetic effect as he can still perform moves. When Mario is underwater, an alarm goes off. If the Power Meter runs out at any time, Mario will lose a life and forcibly exit whatever level he is currently in (excluding the Mushroom Castle, where he is just placed outside the building). When Mario lands on the ground after he is forced to exit the level, the Power Meter refills all of the wedges starting from one wedge. If Mario loses his last life, he will be given a Game Over.
In Super Mario 64, when Mario gets swallowed by Bubba, all of the wedges remaining disappear simultaneously.
The Power Meter appears again in the remake, Super Mario 64 DS, now with a black outline around it. It acts the same, though with two additions: When the player changes characters or when they grab a Power Star that does not force the character out of a level, such as Bowser stages' Red Coin Stars or 100-Coin Stars, the Power Meter fully refills. Also, if the player is under the toxic cloud and there are one or two wedges left, the alarm that sounds while underwater will sound. The Power Meter depletes or replenishes multiple wedges at a slower speed than in Super Mario 64.
While the Power Meter shows only eight wedges, Mario's health actually ranges from 0 to 2,176, with each wedge representing 256 units of HP. In most cases, the lower limit is 255, at which point Mario loses a life.
Super Mario Sunshine
In Super Mario Sunshine, Mario's life meter is shaped like a stylized sun, with a polygonal spiral shape at the center. Again, it will not visibly appear onscreen until Mario takes damage. When it appears, it is positioned in the top right corner of the screen. There are once again eight sections of health, with each section represented as a sunray around the central spiral.
It is normally a golden-orange color when completely filled, and each individual section will "flash". When Mario takes damage, the rays of the sun will gradually become blacked out to signify the loss of energy. When they have been blacked out, they will no longer flash. He can regain energy by collecting normal Coins, which will refill one section, or Red Coins and Blue Coins, which will refill two sections. Energy can also be regained by collecting a 1-Up Mushroom, which will completely replenish every section of the life meter immediately upon collection.
When the life meter has lost five sections of energy, an alarm will start to sound for the remaining three sections of health. As each section after this is gradually lost, the alarm will sound faster, and the energy sections will flash to match its warning. As it gets gradually lower, Mario will start to droop lower and lower, visibly getting weaker from the lack of energy. When it has been completely depleted, Mario will lose a life. If he has no remaining lives, he will receive a Game Over. The life meter will automatically be fully depleted if Mario falls in lava or toxic water, gets crushed, fails a timed Red Coin challenge, or loses a race to Il Piantissimo. Also, if Mario touches open flames or spikes in Corona Mountain, his health will be rapidly depleted, usually resulting in quick death.
Unlike in Super Mario 64, there is a separate meter for Mario's air meter when he is underwater. This meter is blue, and the health sections continually deplete underwater. Air can be replenished by surfacing, touching air bubbles, or by collecting coins or 1-Ups (which restore air at an equivalent rate to health). Mario will also flash red and an alarm sounds as the meter depletes. If the air meter is fully depleted, Mario immediately dies, regardless of his remaining health. When the meter is depleted to three sections, an alarm will sound as it gets steadily lower, and will continue to do so until Mario collects a coin, 1-Up, returns to the surface, or dies.
Super Mario Galaxy / Super Mario Galaxy 2
In Super Mario Galaxy, the life meter appears in the top right hand corner of the screen if Mario or Luigi's health is not at three, or after Mario/Luigi has remained inactive for a certain period of time. It is shaped like a circle and has a total of only three health wedges as opposed to eight in the previous two games. However, in exchange, any damaging event that is not an instant kill will only remove one health wedge (as opposed to the variable amounts of damage that attacks can inflict in 64 and Sunshine).
One of the new features of this game involves the inclusion of a new item called the Life Mushroom, which will increase Mario's life meter from three to six when it is collected. However, if at any time the health sections drop back below four, the life meter will revert to a maximum of three sections until another Life Mushroom is collected.
The coloration of the regular life meter in this game is as follows: three sections are cyan, two are yellow, and one is red. The additional three sections that are added as a result of the Life Mushroom are all colored in green, and they do not change the color unless the life meter drops below four.
As in previous games, coins can be collected to refill one section of his life meter, and can be found by stomping enemies and hitting certain Brick or ? Blocks, among many other methods. Purple Coins do not affect the life meter in any way.
When the life meter drops below two (and there is only one section left), a warning alarm will begin to sound. This will continue until Mario is able to pick up at least one coin, which will fill it up again. Also, as in Super Mario Sunshine, the life meter is separate from Mario’s air meter when he swims underwater. The meter that does appear when he is underwater is similar to the meter that appears when Mario is flying as Bee Mario. Mario will only start taking damage underwater when his air gauge has been fully depleted, at which point his life meter will be quickly depleted as well.
At the beginning of every Daredevil Comet mission, Mario's life meter is automatically decreased to just one health wedge (the only difference being that no alarm will sound under these conditions), forcing Mario to complete the mission without taking damage once.
The life meter in Super Mario Galaxy 2 looks and behaves in the same way as it did in its predecessor, although this time the black outlines surrounding the numbers are thicker. One minor difference is that if the player collects another Life Mushroom while one is still in effect, and all six sections of the life meter are filled, he will receive a 1-Up. If the life meter is at less than six sections, it will instead be refilled to that amount.
In both games, Mario's life meter will be depleted immediately if he falls into a black hole, is crushed by a Thwomp, Whomp, Rhomp, Tox Box, or solid objects colliding with him stuck between them, falls into quicksand or poison, touches dark matter, or fails a timed Purple Comet, Speedy Comet, or Romp Comet challenge.
Super Mario Odyssey
After an absence in Super Mario 3D Land and Super Mario 3D World (due to those games using the power-up system of the 2D Mario platformers), the Health Meter reappears in Super Mario Odyssey with three sections of health, as in Super Mario Galaxy. This time, Hearts are required to restore lost health instead of coins. Collecting Power Moons, touching a Checkpoint Flag, or going inside the Odyssey can also restore health. It can be extended to six with a Life-Up Heart. Unlike prior iterations, the meter has a flat, solid-color appearance, and the cyan and green colors are swapped from their Super Mario Galaxy positions. As in Super Mario Sunshine and the Super Mario Galaxy games, Mario has a separate air meter while underwater. Upon dying, Mario will lose ten coins instead of a life, as lives and Game Overs are absent in this game.
In Assist Mode, Mario starts with a default of six health wedges, which is extended to nine when he collects a Life-Up Heart. Also, the Health Meter refills itself if he is idle, and if he falls into a pit, he only loses one section (instead of all of them and ten coins) and is sent back to his previous location in a bubble (instead of the most-recently activated checkpoint). When the meter is at 6 sections, it will be green; 5 is lime green, 4 is yellow, 3 is amber, 2 is orange, and 1 is red.
In Yoshi's Story, the Smile Meter (or Smilometer) is a version of the Health Meter depicted as a smiling flower with white petals and a round nose that appears in the upper left-hand corner of the screen during gameplay. Normally, the Smile Meter has a total of eight sections, signified by the eight white petals positioned around the circular center of the smiling flower. In addition to displaying the health of the Baby Yoshis, the Smile Meter also represents their current mood.
When a Baby Yoshi takes damage from touching enemies or other hazards or consuming certain items or enemies such as peppers or Black Shy Guys (unless it is the Black Yoshi or White Yoshi), the petals gradually fall away from the center of the flower, starting with the topmost left petal and going counterclockwise. The color and expression of the flower also change. The face when the meter is at full health is red with a big smile, at partial health is yellow with a slight smile, and at no additional hit points remaining or the Baby Yoshi's loss is blue with a frowning, lip-biting face with hair-like filaments on it. Two additional expressions for the flower are available: One expression involves its eyes being closed while wearing a huge grin with its petals rapidly shrinking and growing when the Baby Yoshi is Super Happy, and the other expression is a green, shocked expression used as a transition when the last few (or all if a Baby Yoshi falls down a pit or otherwise instantly loses) hit points on the meter are lost before the flower's face turns blue and frowns. The music in the levels is also affected by certain states of the Smile Meter. The music remains unchanged when the meter is at full or partial health, but when there are no petals remaining, the music slows down to a slower, more lethargic and somber version of the level's music. Conversely, attaining the Super Happy status changes the music to a rock arrangement of the level's theme.
The Baby Yoshis can take damage only up to eight times, and being hit one additional time while the flower's face is frowning results in the Baby Yoshi fainting and being captured by Baby Bowser's Toadies. The Baby Yoshis can regain their health by eating fruit or enemies or collecting a Special Heart, regenerating lost petals and making the flower begin smiling again.
The Game Boy Advance tech demo featuring Yoshi also features the Smile Meter, which functions identically to its appearance in Yoshi's Story, though the faces used, all of which are also from Yoshi's Story, for the different states of the meter are different. At full health, the Smile Meter's face is its Super Happy face, seven to five petals is its face at full health, four to one petal is its face at partial health, no petals remaining is the same as in Yoshi's Story, and Yoshi's defeat is its transitional shocked face.
In Yoshi Topsy-Turvy, the Smile Meter appears in the top-left corner of the screen as a smiling orange sun with eight white triangle shaped rays around it. Each of these triangle rays represent one section of health, for a total of eight sections. This variation of the Smile Meter is very similar to the one from Yoshi's Story in both shape and color.
When Yoshi touches an enemy or other obstacle, health is lost, signified by some of the white triangle rays falling away from the sun in a counterclockwise direction. As more and more health sections fall away, the loss of energy will begin to be reflected by the sun's expression. It will start out being orange with sunglasses and a large smile. When some rays have been lost, its color will fade to yellow, it will lose its sunglasses, and its smile will diminish slightly.
If Yoshi sustains more damage, the expression of the sun will remain the same, though more of the sun's rays will be lost. When no more of the sun's rays remain, the face of the sun will turn blue and begin frowning. If Yoshi sustains any more damage after this, the face of the sun will turn green, then gray, resulting in Yoshi losing a life, or a Game Over if Yoshi loses all of his lives.
Yoshi's Woolly World / Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World
In Yoshi's Woolly World and its 3DS port, when Yoshi takes damage, the Health Meter appears around Yoshi as a circle of hearts. One heart represents one health section, up to 20 hearts. When one heart is left, the heart will look cracked and the Health Meter will always show, alerting the player to get more hearts. If all hearts are lost, the player must restart the level from the beginning or the last checkpoint they touched.
In Classic Mode on both Wii U and 3DS, the player begins each level with 10 hearts and lose five hearts every time they take damage, unless they have 2-5 hearts left, in which case they go down to one heart. In Mellow Mode, the player begins each level with 20 hearts and lose five hearts in the Wii U version, but only one heart in the 3DS version when they take damage.
Yoshi's Crafted World
The health meter in Yoshi's Crafted World looks the same as in Yoshi's Woolly World, except the hearts are made out of paper to match the game's style. If Yoshi completes a level with all 20 hearts, he receives a Smiley Flower.
Super Princess Peach
In Super Princess Peach, the player's Health Meter starts with three hearts on it, but the player can get more from Toad's Shop, although each level is only started with three full hearts filled in. When the player takes damage or falls into a bottomless pit, they will lose half of a heart on the Health Meter. When Princess Peach's Health Meter is fully depleted, the Game Over screen appears, and she must return to the map screen to try again. Perry refers to health as HP.
Mario Sports Mix
The Health Meter in Mario Sports Mix is used only in dodgeball matches, as well as the dodgeball mini-game Bob-omb Dodge. It is shaped like a circle with a black line going down the top half of its middle and ending at the circle's center. Depending on the character that the player is currently using, the icon shown in the top corner of the Health Meter will change accordingly. The player should note that in this game, the Health Meter will appear along the top of the screen for every character that is currently playing. This Health Meter also appears in the game's final battle against Behemoth and the Behemoth King.
When the player's character is hit by a dodgeball or another item, such as a Bob-omb, some health will be lost. The amount of health lost will depend on the item the character is hit with, as certain items will cause more or less damage than others. In any case, when a character is hit with an item, the chunk of health that is lost will flash red briefly before disappearing completely, leaving a black space in its place. If a character catches the ball before it hits the ground, the character that was hit by the ball will not lose health. If a character is hit by a special attack, a large amount of health will be lost. When their health is fully depleted, they will be out, and be sent into the box (rest of the mini-game if Bob-omb Dodge is played). The character's health will be instantly depleted if they fall into the water in DK Dock. To get back in, the player in the box must hit their target. When they do so, they will be back in and get a small amount of their health regained. Getting hit even once will cause them to be out again.
Super Smash Bros. series
In the Super Smash Bros. series, the Health Meter always appears at the bottom of the screen, except in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, in which it is displayed on the touchscreen. It acts as a damage counter which displays the amount of damage that a particular character has taken as a percentage. The higher the percentage goes, the more damage the character has taken. As the character takes more damage, the color of the percentage will gradually change from white to a dark red, with yellow being a middle gradient introduced in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U, and the character will simultaneously become easier for the opponents to KO them. The highest amount of damage a character can possibly take is 999%. Food, Heart Containers, Fairy Bottles and Maxim Tomatoes can help reduce the amount of damage that a character has taken. In all games, the Health Meter appears for each character that participates in a match. Starting in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U, characters with 100% of damage or higher will begin to emit smoke. Starting in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the percentage is displayed to one decimal place.
Aside from displaying the damage of a character, the Health Meter will also display other information. For example, in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the name of the character will always be displayed directly under the damage percentage, and an icon of the character's face will be displayed to the left of the damage percentage (at the top in the earlier games). The symbol signifying the series that the character comes from will appear behind the damage percentage. In Stock matches, up to five circles (represented as character heads in every game except Super Smash Bros. Brawl) will appear above the damage percentage representing the amount of Stock that the character currently has left. One of the circles will disappear for every time that the character is flung off the screen. When the character has no circles left, they will be defeated and the character will be out for the remainder of the match. In Time matches, the number of KOs is shown above the damage percentage. A point is earned or lost if the character KOs an opponent or gets KO'd, respectively. In Coin Matches, the number of coins in hand is displayed.
There is a second type of damage counter in the series, hit points (HP). This is used for some bosses (like Master Hand and Crazy Hand), and starting in Super Smash Bros. Melee, players in Stamina Mode. When a character is hit by an attack, their HP will decrease. If a character's HP reaches zero, they will enter a fainting animation. Bosses will be defeated, and players will lose their stock.
Mario Party series
The Health Meter appears in various boss minigames throughout the Mario Party series. It can be represented as hearts or a bar. In most boss minigames, the boss's health is at least halfway gone when the health bar drops past the white line in the middle and turns red. Once the boss's health is depleted, the minigame is won. As of Mario Party 9, the player who deals the final blow will get an extra point bonus to their score. In some minigames, players also have a Health Meter, and when they lose all health, they will lose the minigame.
Donkey Kong Country series
In Donkey Kong Country Returns / 3D, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, and its Nintendo Switch port, the Kongs' health is measured in hearts. Donkey Kong naturally has two hearts – two more if he carries a partner with him, as well as an additional one if a Heart Boost is equipped. Banana Juice adds ten (five in "New Mode" in 3D) non-refillable hearts to the Health Meter. Each time the Kongs get damaged, they lose one heart from their Health Meter. If all of their hearts have been depleted, they lose one life. Their health will be instantly depleted if they fall into a pit, hit anything while riding the Mine Cart or a Rocket Barrel, or if they fall into lava. Hearts can be found along the way and are used to replenish the primates' health bar. The latter game also has separate Health Meters for minecarts and Rocket Barrels, with two hearts each; in Donkey Kong Country Returns / 3D, they had only one heart each, despite the Kongs' current health.
In volume 16 of Super Mario-kun, which is mostly adapted from Super Mario 64, the Power Meter occasionally displays Mario's power level, usually at a very low point.
Names in other languages
|Power Meter (Super Mario 64)|
Smiley Meter (Yoshi's Story)
Heart (Wario Land Advance)
Life (Wario Land Shake)
|French||Jauge de Vie||Life Gauge (Wario Land 4)|
|German||Herzleiste||Heart bar (Wario Land 4)|
Cardiometer (Wario Land 4)
|Spanish||Medidor de Corazón||Heart Meter (Wario Land 4)|
- The Health Meter in the pre-release version of Super Mario Galaxy originally had a total of eight sections, like in the first two 3D Super Mario games. It featured the same coloration as in Super Mario 64, although later the green and blue colors were switched.
- The Health Meter in the pre-release version of Mario Sports Mix looked very similar to the Health Meter from Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel, except it had four sections instead of just three.
- Super Mario 3D Land and Super Mario 3D World are the only 3D Mario games not to include a Health Meter, opting instead to use the power-up system of the 2D Super Mario platformers (except for Super Mario Bros. 2) and, as such, are the only 3D Mario platformers to feature the Small form.
- Super Mario Bros. 2 is the only game to feature both the Small form and a Health Meter, as well as the only 2D Super Mario game with a Health Meter.
- Super Mario Advance manual, pg 18.
- Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition manual, pg 31.
- UncommentatedPannen (July 21, 2016). HP. YouTube. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
- TheMightyTammos (October 15, 2017). Super Mario Odyssey - Travel Hints and Map. YouTube. Retrieved October 15, 2017.
- Official UK Nintendo Magazine Issue 65, page 28.
- Super Mario 64 Japanese instruction booklet, pages 16 and 17.
- Wario Land Advance: Yōki no Otakara Japanese instruction booklet, page 16.
- Wario Land Shake Japanese instruction booklet, page 16.
- Wario Land 4 European instruction booklet, page 52.
- Wario Land 4 European instruction booklet, page 32.
- Wario Land 4 European instruction booklet, page 112.
- Wario Land 4 European instruction booklet, page 92.