Air Bubbles ( are large bubbles filled with oxygen that appear in the 気泡 Kihō ) ? . Air bubbles usually appear in Sonic the Hedgehog series underwater-themed levels where they are seen periodically rising in small clusters from cracks in the floor. These bubbles provided extra air for the playable character to breathe, and are needed by the player to survive being underwater for longer periods of time. Without using air bubbles underwater, the playable character will eventually drown, thus causing the player to lose a life.
The Air Bubbles first appeared in
and have since appeared in almost every water-themed level in the Sonic the Hedgehog (1991) Sonic the Hedgehog series. While the air bubbles' purpose and functions have remained the same in all games, there has also been cases in several games where they have aided the player in other ways.
Sprite of air bubbles.
Air bubbles are always found in sections of the Zones that are submerged in water; though, they do not appear in all underwater sections. In these sections, air bubbles can usually be found emerging periodically from the ground in small clusters. In cases such as
Carnival Night Zone Act 2 though, air bubbles can also found by popping balloons whilst underwater. Once an air bubble has emerged, it starts rising up to the surface until it reaches it or simply disperses.
When a playable character has to stay underwater for longer periods of time without drowning, the player has to make the playable character make physical contact with an air bubble, before said playable character drowns. This will make the playable character automatically inhale the air bubble and cause it to vanish, thus restoring the playable character's oxygen supply, and extend the time the player can remain underwater. The extended time underwater that air bubbles grant the player is limited though, and the playable character will eventually start to run out of air once more.
While numerous air bubbles of all sizes are always released from their point of origin, it is only the biggest of them that the player can use to restore the playable character's oxygen supply, while the smaller ones goes unnoticed by the playable character. As such, the player often has to wait until a large enough air bubble pops out of the ground to be inhaled.
Air bubbles are not necessarily needed by the player when passing through underwater sections, and a player can make it through a Zone without using them at all. However, because some underwater pathways in the Zones can be so long that the playable character cannot make it through them without getting at least one fresh supply of oxygen, air bubbles are usually necessary for the player's survival underwater.
Sonic drowns after the countdown sequence.
In numerous games in the series, including earlier main games for the
Sega Genesis, if the player is in an underwater section and does not get an air bubble within eighteen seconds, the countdown sequence will start. A small two-note jingles can be heard between five, ten, and fifteen seconds before the countdown sequence. When the countdown sequence begins, the game will display a countdown from five to zero on the screen. If the player does not get an air bubble or get back to the surface before the alarm music ends and counter reaches zero, then a second later, the playable character will drown and the player loses a life.
The alarm jingle, that signifies that the player is about to drown, is believed to be composed by
Yukifumi Makino, the sound programmer of Sonic the Hedgehog (1991) and it has since then been used in many later games through the series. The following audio track presents how the alarm music sound like in both the 16-bit version of the original [Note 1] and Sonic the Hedgehog :
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Other game appearances
Sonic being absorbed inside the Air Bubble in
. Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble
Air Bubbles' functionality and their purpose have remained constant throughout the majority of the
Sonic the Hedgehog series, but there has been some cases in the games where they have had other functions. In games such as the 8-bit version of and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 , there are larger air bubbles that can surround the player. Whilst inside this type of air bubble, the player cannot drown and will float slowly to the surface, while the player can move left and right as well as changing the speed of ascent by pressing up or down. This bubble can be popped by jumping out of it, hitting Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble spikes, hazards and colliding with a wall. At Water Palace in for the Sonic Generations Nintendo 3DS, there is a gimmick where player can rotate the wheel to create large air bubbles for the playable character to bounce on to get to the other side of stage.
Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood
Air Bubbles appeared in the
last chapter of when Team Sonic and Tails enters Perfect Charyb's lair of Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood Nocturne. Perfect Charyb appears and floods the lair with water. While moving around the submerged lair, the player's party will gradually lose POW Points (PP). The player can refill their PP using the air bubbles. Once a character's PP reaches zero, that character's HP will then deplete until it reaches one.
Appearances in other media
Sonic the Comic
Fleetway's , some stories depict Air Bubbles in flooded zones and locations. As getting trapped by debris, Sonic the Comic Sonic tries to reach Air Bubbles, but he's unable to do so until the giant stone Sentinel rescues him from drowning. One time  Grimer invents a trap that catches Sonic located in the waters of Labyrinth Zone. Sonic was ambushed by new spider badniks that shot fire and fell into the water. After fighting a pair of Spiker badniks, he found a vent of Air Bubbles where the trap was located and was engulfed by a impenetrable bubble of ultra-tough plastic. This trap similar to the larger air bubbles in the 8-bit games, albeit with limited air and without buoyancy. He escapes the trap using the flames of the new spider badniks.
Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog
In the episode "
Robotnik, Jr." of , Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog Doctor Robotnik and his son manage to drop Sonic in the sewer, but he is later seen inhaling Air Bubbles to survive underwater for a longer period of time.
One time in the
Archie' miniseries, Sonic the Hedgehog Sonic was about to drown after keeping himself from being pulled into an underwater Roboticizer by Jaws. Fortunately, thanks to a distraction provided by Tails and Rotor in the Bathysphere, Sonic was able to get some air from some Air Bubbles they made, and destroyed the Roboticizer.
An Air Bubble appears in the episode "
The Light in the Darkness" of the anime series . It helped Sonic X Sonic and Amy out of Final Mova.
In most of 3D games, the player instantly dies when falling into the water. He/She can, however, run across the water at a certain speed and at right angles.
Despite that has underwater sections, it does not have any air bubbles.
Sonic Rush Adventure There are certain games in the series, which don't feature the infamous alarm music at all. Many of those games include Master System and Game Gear games, while as it isn't featured in , where instead eerie bubbling sound starts playing in the background during the countdown. At Sonic the Hedgehog CD Water Palace in the Nintendo 3DS version of , the alarm music isn't featured as well.
↑ Drowning theme along with
Chaos Emerald jingle, is not known to be composed by Masato Nakamura. Any of these two jingles aren't featured in album, as these jingles can be assumed to be composed by Sonic the Hedgehog 1&2 Soundtrack Yukifumi Makino.
Navigation Templates to Air Bubbles
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Japanese voice actors
Jun'ichi Kanemaru ( | Sonic) Kazuki Hayashi ( | Tails) Nobutoshi Kanna ( | Knuckles) Chikao Ōtsuka ( | Eggman) Taeko Kawata ( | Amy) Shun Yashiro ( | Big) Kaori Asō ( | Tikal) Jōji Nakata ( | Gamma) Tōru Ōkawa ( | Pachacamac) Kaho Kōda (Station Square Train Voice) | Nobutoshi Kanna (Mystic Ruins Train Voice) | Elara Distler (Default Menu Voice) | Tomoko Sasaki (
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English voice actors
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Japanese voice actors
Jun'ichi Kanemaru ( | Sonic) Chikao Ōtsuka ( | Eggman, Eggman Nega) Ryo Hirohashi ( | Tails) Sayaka Aoki ( | Cream) Nao Takamori (
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Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II
Sonic Lost World
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English voice actors
Roger Craig Smith ( | Sonic) Mike Pollock ( | Eggman) Kate Higgins ( | Tails) Travis Willingham ( | Knuckles, Zavok) Cindy Robinson ( | Amy) Kirk Thornton ( | Orbot, Master Zik) Wally Wingert ( | Cubot) Liam O'Brien ( | Zazz) Patrick Seitz ( | Zomom) Stephanie Sheh ( | Zeena) Sam Riegel (
Japanese voice actors
Junichi Kanemaru ( | Sonic) Chikao Ōtsuka ( | Eggman) Ryo Hirohashi ( | Tails) Nobutoshi Kanna ( | Knuckles) Taeko Kawata ( | Amy) Mitsuo Iwata ( | Orbot) Wataru Takagi ( | Cubot) Jōji Nakata ( | Zavok) Yutaka Aoyama ( | Zazz) Yumi Tōma ( | Zeena) Mugihito ( | Master Zik) Chafūrin ( | Zomom) Yūki Tai (
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Without Boundaries: Sonic Lost World Original Soundtrack
"*" Exclusively to
Wii U version "**" Exclusive to Nintendo 3DS version "^" Exclusive to the Wii U version and downloadable content.