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Rather than just give an enemy - or occasionally your character - a generic Life Meter, or show the exact number of hit points, some games will show the enemy taking damage on screen. Sometimes this makes sense and looks good, other times, not so much. The bad guy's armor having bullet holes in it is all well and good, but weren't you using a sword?

Sometimes, this can even affect gameplay. Damage the enemy's laser cannon enough, and you'll disable his most powerful attack. Or perhaps discover that he's not left handed, or make him angry, and proceed to get your ass handed back to you.

There are three main variations of showing damage:

  • Color change: The simplest form of showing damage is changing color palette. Flashing when being on low health also counts in this category. Usually many older and simpler games or games needing to keep age ratings low belong to this category.
  • Particle emit: Characters and objects emit or spawn things when they're damaged. For an example, damaged character may start sparking, smoking or being on fire. This is usually more of mechanical objects and characters. Damage Is Fire also fits here.
  • Real signs of damage: The character or object shows physical signs of damage. When the game uses 3D models, they go into 2 subcategories:
    • Retexture: Texture Swap: this frequently occurs in polygonal 3D games, with characters getting more and more bloody as they take more damage through the use of so-called "painskins", one or more replacement surface textures (skins) that get swapped in when a creature or individual body part/article of clothing/armor reaches a certain amount of damage. Newer games instead have partially transparent "decals" that are composited over the exact areas that damage occurs.
    • Model change: Full model swap: it's when besides seeing different textures, a model or sprite will be changed even more. Can be a source of Nightmare Fuel in some cases.

While the boss may Turn Red, and get a power boost, it doesn't necessarily have to do so. Note that Shows Damage is not mutually exclusive with Critical Existence Failure, which makes it all the more hilarious when the two overlap. In RTS games, this is typically shown via Damage Is Fire, at least for buildings and vehicles.

See also Flash of Pain.

Examples of Shows Damage include:


Type 1

Action Game

  • In Tank Force armored tanks and bosses will turn redder as they're damaged.
  • The final boss in Jackal turns mysteriously red when damaged.

Beat'Em Up

  • The evil exes in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game start flashing yellow when their health gets low. When just a few more hits will finish them off, they flash yellow and red.
  • In Jump Super Stars and its sequel, the arena where your characters fight is designed like the pages of a Manga. Likewise, the controllable characters lose their color the more damage they take: when at 50%, their colors are more muted than at full health, when they have less than 10% HP they're basically black and white linearts.

Platform Game

  • Bosses in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES games will start to flash when low on health.
  • The penultimate and final bosses in the NES version of Jackie Chans Action Kung Fu change color when low on health.
  • The Ristar bosses do this... well they Palette Swap a bunch of times at any rate, blurring the line between this and Turns Red (and yes, they tend to get harder as they take damage).
  • In the first Contra game, 2 minibosses on stage 5 and the boss of stage 6 change color when damaged.
  • Almost every boss and mini-boss in the 2-D Metroids show damage, mostly through changing colors. One notable example is the SA-X in Fusion which, like all X-Viruses, must concentrate to stay in its copied form when hit (this is shown by a blurry effect). As it takes more damage, the blurry effect becomes more pronounced.
  • In Kirby Super Star and its remake, Kirby will flash red if his health gets very low. Helpers also flash at low health, and so does Meta-Knight when you play as him in the remake.
  • In the Super Mario Bros. series games, Mario/Luigi will actually shrink after taking enough damage before dying. This is actually reversed with the "Small Fiery Mario" glitch from the original Super Mario Bros (which is triggered by touching both (a fake) Bowser and the ax at the same time at the end of the first seven castles) where big Mario/Luigi will die if taken a hit, while small Mario/Luigi will be the stronger form, causing him to grow if taken damage. As a result, if Mario/Luigi gets a Fire Flower, he will turn into Small Fiery Mario/Luigi!

Shoot'Em Up

  • The core of the core ship of the first Gradius game changes its color when low on health.
  • Capital ships in NES version of Zanac start out as blue, then turn yellow and finally light red.
    • Consequently, many units and bosses in Zanac Neo blink red when damaged.


Type 2

Casual Game

  • The robotic punching bag from Rhythm Boxing in Wii Fit will emit smoke after punching it enough times. More landed punches increases the number of places it emits smoke. Regardless of the number of blows, it breaks down and one of its arms fall off after completing the exercise.

MMORPG

  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: During space combat, the player's ship will start smoking and, eventually, will catch on fire should you take enough hull damage. Other ships show this as well, to varying degree - interceptors start smoking after one or two solid hits, frigates and destroyers will start gushing smoke and fire when one of it's hardpoints is blown up, and elite NPC's (which fly ships that players themselves fly) will show the exact same damage that players of the same ship would.

Platform Game

  • In Sonic Unleashed, both the Egg Cauldron and the Tornado starts to smoke and then catch fire when low on HP.
  • Robotnik's and Tails' mechs in Sonic Adventure 2 start sparking and smoking when low on HP.
  • The Death Egg Robot in Sonic Generations also falls in this trope, showing sparks and smoke as the battle goes along.

Real Time Strategy

  • Same goes for Starcraft, where the Protoss buildings start catching on blue fire, while the Zerg buildings bleed. This is also played with on Terran buildings: once you damage them beyond a point, they catch on fire, and the fire will slowly damage the building more and more until it explodes. This is balanced by the Terrans being able to repair buildings, and therefore stabilize a critical structure.
    • One nice touch with the Zerg bleeding is that the Terran Nuke uses a red dot to indicate its target...which tends to appear just underneath the bleeding, making it hard to tell the difference between "that building is bleeding" and "holy crap, two-thirds of that building's maximum health is doomed unless I can get an Overlord in there fast!"
    • The HUD diagrams (wireframes for Terran/Protoss, something that resembles a thermal imaging reading for Zerg) for selected forces turn yellow, then red, to ostensibly indicate areas of the unit that've taken damage.
  • Many vehicles in Command and Conquer series start smoking and sparking when damaged.
  • Far Gate's Proximan ships start smoking, then catch fire after they've taken enough damage. When the ship finally blows, pieces of the mesh fly in different directions, the speed varying with the size of the unit. Those pieces then themselves explode.

Shoot'Em Up

  • All enemies in Galactix start smoking when they're a few shots from death.

Stealth Based Game

Western RPG

  • The Mako in Mass Effect starts to smoke and catch fire when critically damaged.

Hack and Slash

  • In Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 (and maybe the first game), boss mobile suits start throwing off sparks as you do damage.


Type 3, 2D

Platform Game

  • The aptly named Nightmare boss in Metroid Fusion. As you damage it, its mask begins to crack; then its mask breaks, and as you attack it, its face melts as you damage it. It's almost indescribably freaky.
  • Some enemies (mostly machines) in Cannon Dancer break apart as Kirin hits them. Most notably, the second boss Gamran falls apart as the player strikes specific parts of its body.
  • Dracula from Castlevania Bloodlines in his One-Winged Angel mode, at one point will Turn Red, but then afterwards will change into more decaying colours until he reaches a pale bone white. And by which point hitting him from that point onwards will cause bones to fly off his body.

Real Time Strategy

  • In the 2D Command and Conquer series, buildings show damage.
  • Buildings and some vehicles in Patapon series look broken when damaged.

Role Playing Game

  • Enemies in Final Fantasy Mystic Quest have different sprites. All enemies have "healthy" and "damaged" sprites. Minibosses have a "severely damaged" sprite, while crystal guardians have "grievously damaged" ones. So to sum up: mooks have two, minibosses have three, bosses have four.

Shoot'Em Up

  • Most of the bosses in the Metal Slug series show damage, having bullet holes or damage to their armor appear.
  • The War God from Forgotten Worlds gets his armor cracked and starts losing chunks of it as the battles goes on.
  • Most bosses in Chariot, one of the three games forming part of Three Wonders, fall apart the more damage they get, some times in rather creepy ways.
  • Bosses in UN Squadron show damage by having parts explode or start burning.

Beat'Em Up

  • In Little Fighter 2 a fighter will bleed a bit from the mouth if he has taken sufficient damage.


Type 3a

Driving Game

Fighting Game

  • Warpath: Jurassic Park for the Playstation 1. As the fight goes on, cuts, lacerations, and even missing flesh (with ribs exposed if on the body) appear on the dinosaurs. The amount and speed of the damage depends on what part of the opponent you attack most often (if you bite at the head a lot, the snout and cheeks become bloody; body blows and throws cause exposed ribs and bleeding sides, etc).
  • Punch Out for Wii shows Little Mac and his opponents getting black eyes, missing teeth and bruises depending on where, how often and how hard they get hit. Winning a match while in the worst state of "hurtness" prompts Doc to comment "He can always take a whoppin'"
  • In Mortal Kombat, ever since Deadly Alliance, characters start showing bruises and marks after a certain health loss. While it started off as a simple face texture swap, later games elaborated more on the details, like Scorpion losing his mask in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe.
  • In both Bushido Blade games' Story Mode, after each death the player character shows up with bandages over the struck areas.

First-Person Shooter

  • In Quake II, the enemies get bloodier when their hit points drop. However, the blood will always show up on the same spots, since stock painskins are used.
  • Team Fortress 2 does this in a neat way. If shot, spots of blood will appear on player models, and if you have the luxury to look close enough while in the middle of frantic multiplayer combat, their facial expressions become increasingly worried as their health drops.
  • Subverted in the original releases of both parts of Serious Sam I when they were dropped but played straight in the HD release of these games where they have painskins.
  • The new Alone in The Dark has the worst use of this imaginable. The injuries look more like stickers applied over someone's clothes, rather than actual injuries.
  • In the Red Faction series, most enemies only show blood decals, but the nano-zombies in the second game can be dismembered piece-by-piece.

Wide Open Sandbox

  • Used effectively in Scarface the World Is Yours where almost every character model has a "bloody" skin than shows streaks of blood as they take damage. Tony himself has about four or five skins per the suit he is wearing.

Type 3b

Action Adventure

Fighting Game

  • In Soul Calibur IV, if you deal enough damage to a particular region of your opponent's body, that part of the body loses its armor.

Platform Game

  • Nightmare makes a return appearance in [MetroidOtherMMetroid: Other M]. He does the face-mask cracking from Fusion, but there is no face-melting in the second fight.

Real Time Strategy

Role Playing Game

  • SD Snatcher had enemies that would show visible damage the more you hit them. In addition, hitting certain parts would decrease specific stats.
  • Too Human does this with Trolls -- you can blow off the outer armor plating of various parts, then destroy the internal components. Their arms can actually be destroyed altogether.

Vehicular Combat

  • In the Twisted Metal series, cars change into a "battered" version after getting enough damage. They magically return to their "shiny new" version after picking up a Health icon.
  • Same for the tanks in Battle Tanx.


Multiple

4X

  • Sword of the Stars has Type 2 plasma fires show how damaged a ship section in. When a segment explodes, it undergoes a Type 3b model swap.

Real Time Strategy

  • In Command & Conquer Generals units will smoke, slow down/limp when damaged.

Simulation Game

  • The Mechwarrior series uses this trope extensively:
    • Type 2: 'Mechs start to emit smoke and sometimes even visible flames when they are heavily damaged.
    • Type 3a: in MW3, 'Mechs show exposed wires when damage is focused on certain areas, and taking head damage can cause fractures on the cockpit glass along with a quite loud and surprising "*CHING*". MW4 uses scorch marks instead.
    • Type 3b: Limbs (and in MW4, missile racks as well as various gun mounts) can be blown off entirely, leaving only twisted bits of metal and wiring hanging from the stump.

Wide Open Sandbox

  • Prototype vehicles and destructible buildings are mixed.
    • Buildings and armor are 3A until destroyed, which then become 3B. 3B'd armor are debris able to be picked and thrown.
    • Aircraft are also 3A. Once popped, they undergo 3B until they descend to several meters above a surface, then undergo 3B yet again to become debris that can be picked and thrown.
    • Civilian vehicles are type 2 and 3B. These vehicles, which can be picked and thrown right away(except the coach/bus and the garbage truck), will undergo deformation and finally catching fire before blowing up as they take damage.


Uncategorized

Action Adventure

  • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, during the Ganondorf battle, Ganondorf's cape gets more tattered as Link damages him.
  • This was a major feature of the game for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, occurring to Wolverine himself. The more damage he takes, his clothes start to get tattered, and then his flesh starts being ripped up and bleeding. No wonder it ended up M.

Action Game

  • The Statue of Rhodes from God of War 2 is fought three separate times, with each time causing it to become more and more damaged.
    • The Minotaur in the original God Of War is also an example, with bonus credit for also having a health bar that shows damage (the armour on the health bar slowly breaks away as damage is added... the bar itself doesn't start going down until all the armour is removed).
  • Dr. Tongue's final form in Zombies Ate My Neighbors is a giant head. As damage is dealt, it starts to mutate, then begins to break. This would be prime Nightmare Fuel, if it weren't for the fact that the head is revealed to be an android.
  • As you progress in Batman: Arkham Asylum, the Batsuit shows more and more damage. By the end of the game, there are noticeably a tear at the chest, a few tatters and holes in the cape, a cut on Batman's cheek and a few bullet holes.

Adventure Game

  • The zombies in Wax Works will lose their arms and head if hit in the right spots.

Beat'Em Up

  • While a Life Meter is used, The Warriors also shows damage to characters by increasing the amount of bleeding, cuts, and bruises on the bodies as they get hurt more.
  • The modern remake of the classic horror action game Splatterhouse has the hero lose flesh and even body parts as he takes damage. He can use this to his advantage somewhat in that if his arm is removed (he'll grow it back quickly), he can pick it up as a weapon.
  • As Bayonetta deals damage to her enemies, more and more of their skin and angelic accoutrements are flayed off until they're little more than bone, muscle and writhing internal organs.

Driving Game

  • Many driving games will at least have your car become emit smoke and pained noises when on its last legs, and usually the cars become battered and lose parts.
    • Some games that don't have a damage model, usually for technical reasons or because the licensing contract says the game can't show damaged cars, resort to showing scraped paint, bare metal and shattered windshields.
  • The original F-Zero has your machine blink red, shake, and emit smoke when its life meter gets low. To make matters worse, your top speed will decrease.
    • Interestingly, if your life meter drops to zero, you'll regain all your top speed. One more tap, though, and you suffer Critical Existence Failure.

Fighting Game

  • The Gundam 2D fighter Gundam the Battle Master (or Gundam Battle Assault in America) has the mecha show damage if you pound them in one specific area enough times. For example, performing a lot of sweeps will eventually make the armor on your opponent's legs break off, exposing the internal mechanisms.

First-Person Shooter

  • Especially after Halo 2, vehicles will get broken, have large pieces fall off, and begin sputtering sparks and smoke as they're damaged.
    • In the finale of Halo: Reach Noble Six's visor shows damage as his condition deteriorates.
  • One of the trademark touches of Id's FPS series like Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake is the presence of a floating representation of the Player Character's head in the middle of the HUD, which will become more badly wounded as you soak up damage.
  • The "vivisection point" of which the game Vivisector: Beast Inside is named for has the enemies lose big chunks of their armor and flesh with each hit. However, since killing them falls into the Critical Existence Failure category, said damage won't actually affect their performance until the killing shot.
  • The "gore zone" system in Soldier of Fortune allows players to destroy individual body parts of enemies, e.g. severed limbs, shattered skulls, and disembowelment, usually causing instant death.

MMORPGs

  • Kingdom of Loathing: First Ed The Undying gets a rip in his hat, then a knocked-out tooth, then another rip, then an arm knocked off, then another rip and a couple more knocked-out teeth, and finally knocked-off legs. And even after that, he's still technically alive.
  • Maple Story: Zakum, a huge, eight-armed statue, does this twice. By the end, it'll have quite a few huge cracks and its teeth will barely be there.
  • Eve Online ships catch fire when they start to take structural damage.

Platform Game

  • Most bosses in Banjo-Tooie were like this. Targitzan is a totem pole, a layer of which falls off each time he takes damage. Old King Coal's arms and head fall off over the course of the fight. Mr. Patch's patches come off with each hit, in the first half of the Lord Woo Fak Fak battle his boils explode with each hit (leaking blood into the water), and Mingy Jongo's plating comes off each time he takes damage, revealing more of his true robotic self.
  • In Super Mario Galaxy, while the player has a lifebar, bosses are visibly affected when damaged. For example, Dino Piranha starts inside an eggshell, which shatters after the first attack. Subsequent attacks remove petals, and also causes the boss to Turn Red.

Real Time Strategy

  • The Homeworld series, for all its scientific accuracy, shows the larger battleships on fire when they are damaged before they finally go boom. In the second game, they don't just blow up; smaller explosions, hulls being ripped off by the explosions, debris flying, and then the ship goes kablooie.
  • Brutal Legend has this during the stage battles; the stages have ten lights which represent health, and as they take damage the lights break (healing the stage will restore one light)

Role Playing Game

Shoot'Em Up

  • Just about every enemy in the sadly-obscure shooter Einhander, provided they take more than one shot to kill. The very first miniboss, in fact, has a weapon in each arm that you can destroy. It then pulls out a two-handed energy rifle. Blow that up, and it retreats. Blow up its propulsion source, and it falls to the ground while throwing out parting shots.

Simulation Game

  • While not an enemy, the normal ax in Animal Crossing gets more and more cracked as you use it, until it finally breaks.
  • In Star Trek Starfleet Command, if too many phaser hits got through your shields you'd start leaking glowy purple plasma trails. In the sequels, you'd see scorch marks, electrical cracklies, and bits of your ship on fire.

Sports Game

  • UFC Undisputed shows damage through bruising, bloody noses, and cuts on the face. Land a solid punch and you can open a gash across your opponent's cheek.
  • Every fighter in Punch Out Wii, including Little Mac, will show all manners of bruises and bandages as they come closer to getting KO'd.
    • The original NES game also had it, showing the battered characters inbetween rounds.

Tabletop Games

  • Unknown Armies for a tabletop example. Players do not keep track of how many hit points they have left. Instead the GM does it and tells them how wounded they are, eventually giving them penalties due to the pain of their wounds.

Wide Open Sandbox

  • Vehicles in Saints Row demonstrate this quite well. Ramming things damages your bumper, shooting the tyres makes the wheels spark as you drive, and you can snipe off doors or panels with the right weapons.
  • Same for the later Grand Theft Auto games, especially IV.
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