Created By: Stratadrake on September 20, 2012 Last Edited By: Stratadrake on November 6, 2012
Troped

Player-Guided Missile

A player has direct control of a weapons projectile.

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Trope
Needs a Better Description - too tired to give this some pizazz at the moment.


Ever watch a homing missile suffer yet another Hero-Tracking Failure and think to yourself, "hell, I could fly a missile better than that" ? Now you can!

The Player-Guided Missile is any Video Game projectile attack or weapon which the player can manually steer or guide toward their desired target using their player movement controls. These can be more dangerous than ordinary homing missiles (at least in the hands of a skilled player), although they do have a tendency to leave the user susceptible to attacks while the player is busy piloting the missile.

The projectile can take many forms - an actual missile or Precision-Guided Boomerang being two of the most common. 3D games frequently include a Missile Cam so the player can steer the projectile from its own point of view -- which also makes it usable not just for combat, but also for general scouting and recon.

There is some Truth in Television here: wire-guided missiles do exist and trail thin wires connecting them back to the launcher, so the operator can steer the missile in flight; but unlike their Video Game counterparts, they require extensive regular training to use effectively.

Note that this only counts if the player has more or less direct control of the projectile during use -- simply "locking on" to a target and the projectile tracks the target from there doesn't count.


Examples

  • While it is obviously not a flying "missile", the RC Car in Ape Escape is capable of being used as a weapon - it can stun monkeys for capture. There is no separate camera from the RC car's point of view, but the player can still maneuver themselves while using it (it is operated via the second analog stick).
  • One of Batman's upgrades in the Batman: Arkham Series is a remote-controlled Batarang, and it's essential for solving certain puzzles.
  • The yellow "Psychic Hat" in Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg allows the player to steer the egg after shooting it.
  • The Guided Missile in the Descent series is slightly slower but more powerful than a normal homing missile. The game's options screen allows the player to select whether the its Missile Cam is shown on the main screen or a smaller popup display.
  • Elemental spells in Legend of Mana with "Control" type aiming allow the player to steer the spell's area of effect to any location on the battlefield before activating the spell's effect.
  • Although magic boomerangs are a recurring item in The Legend of Zelda series, only the version in The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons can be controlled in mid-air. Boomerangs and Bombchus in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks are similar in that the player can sketch out a custom flight path with the stylus, though they have no control over them during flight.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker introduced the ability to control seagulls after feeding them a special fruit. They could then be guided to hit switches and collect rupees and other things. This gameplay mechanic was further expanded upon in...
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has the Beetle, a mechanical flying insect drone which the player can launch to explore various places, retrieve objects or hit switches, pick up and drop bombs on enemies, or even attack some enemies directly.
  • Various weapons in the Mega Man series can be steered mid-flight, generally in a limited manner only:
    • Mega Man 3's Hard Knuckle can be steered up or down while in flight, but only by a small amount.
    • Mega Man 5's Gyro Blade fires horizontally, but the player can make it veer up or down in flight.
    • Mega Man 10's Commando Bomb is similar to the Gyro Blade, but the player can change its direction multiple times in flight (and it produces an explosion on impact).
    • Mega Man X2's Magnet Mine can be steered up or down while in flight.
    • Mega Man X5's F-Laser is fully steerable, at the cost of not being able to move X at all until the missile hits something (or X takes damage).
  • The Metal Gear series has a few segments where the player must use a Nikita missile, usually to solve an electrified-floor puzzle. In the 8-bit games, the missiles travelled and steered at right angles.
    • Snake even sports a Nikita Missile launcher in his Super Smash Bros. appearance; the player can control the missile in flight, though it does travel faster in straight lines.
  • The Missile Launcher in Star Fox Assault's multiplayer matches provide the player with remote-control missiles, though it has less ammunition capacity than the normal Homing missile launcher.
  • The Visibomb gun in Ratchet & Clank is steerable, but its Missile Cam loses reception (and gives out) beyond a certain range.
  • Several characters in the Super Smash Bros. series have steerable projectile attacks:
    • Ness and Lucas both have PK Thunder - a bolt of electricity that can be steered in various directions, courtesy of their Psychic Powers. They also sport PK Flash/Freeze, in which they can steer its area of effect before it detonates.
    • Pit's Light Arrows travel very fast, but can also be steered in various directions after firing.
  • Two characters in Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure can earn this attack as an upgrade:
    • Warnado can learn "Guided Twister", which allows the player to steer their tornado attack using their movement controls.
    • Drobot's Series 2 toy can learn the ability to combine two of his Bladegears into one large, remote-controlled gear -- something that his original ("Series 1") version cannot.
  • The "Doomerang" in all three Ty the Tasmanian Tiger games. In the first it is merely an Eleventh Hour Superpower used exclusively to defeat the Final Boss, but it shows up as a purchasable (if very expensive) shop item in the sequels.
Community Feedback Replies: 47
  • September 20, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
  • September 21, 2012
    Koveras
    The Redeemer rocket in Unreal Tournament series can be steered manually once fired.
  • September 21, 2012
    MrRuano
    • The new Twisted Metal has a few of these as special weapons, as well as the Nuke when someone manages to launch it.
  • September 21, 2012
    Astaroth
    With the Agents of Change DLC installed, Operatives in Brink can deploy micro UAVs that can be manually piloted towards enemies and detonated.
  • September 21, 2012
    abk0100
    left out the word "series" after "Super Smash Bros."

    ^^^^you have to use the special remote-controlled batarang.
  • September 21, 2012
    saintdane05
  • September 21, 2012
    Chabal2
    • The Legend Of Zelda Skyward Sword has the Beetle, a flying insectoid item-retriever / switch-activator / orbital bombardment platform controlled by the player. Sadly, it's never used for a boss fight, as Link is left completely helpless while flying it.
    • In the cancelled Starcraft FPS Ghost, apparently Firebats would have had the ability to pilot rockets to their target.
    • Also from Super Smash Bros, Samus' missiles are slightly steerable, though it mostly comes in handy on the "shoot the targets" stage.
  • September 21, 2012
    PsiPaula4
    The Ness and Lucas example should say that it's justified; Ness and Lucas have psychic powers and thus use their mind to steer the PK Thunder.
  • September 21, 2012
    TheCuza
    • The rocket launcher in the Half Life series has a laser sight that functions as a guidance system. The rocket will travel to where the laser is pointing. In Half-Life 2 and its episodes, Combine gunships (which can only be damaged by rockets) will try and shoot your rockets down, forcing you to steer the rocket around to avoid the shots and hit the gunship.
    • In Bulletstorm, your sniper rifle does this. When you fire it, you go into Bullet Time and Bullet Cam and steer the bullet towards your target. When you use the alt-fire, and hit your target, you get to drag the corpse around for a little while and then detonate the bullet in a large explosion.
  • September 21, 2012
    captainsandwich
    this trope, in a real life weapon. [1]
  • September 21, 2012
    captainsandwich
    snake's missile can be steered in Super Smash Bros.
  • September 22, 2012
    Stratadrake
    I'm not sure whether to consider Half Life an example as you're not directly steering the projectile, just painting whatever target you want it to strike.
  • September 22, 2012
    Siegvardr
    I remember the Secret Weapons of WWII-expansion for Battlefield 1942 had the Wasserfall missile, which fits the trope.
  • September 22, 2012
    saintdane05
    Rearranged one of the Brawl entires to go by character. That way, the near duplicate entries are together.
  • September 22, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Anyone got more detail about Star Fox Assault beyond "it has one" ? Even though this trope is more or less Exactly What It Says On The Tin, try to provide some info about how it appears in the game (name of attack, etc).
  • September 23, 2012
    tryourbreast
    About the name: Perhaps Missile Driving?
  • September 23, 2012
    Kellor
    Rogue Trip had one. Critical Depth had an underwater torpedo version.

  • September 23, 2012
    abk0100
    Didn't the original Metal Gear have one? or was it metal gear 2?
  • September 23, 2012
    abk0100
    Turns out they're in basically every game, even Snake's Revenge. In the 2d games, you control it using the directional buttons and it takes perfect instantaneous right-angle turns. Mainly used for puzzles with electrified floors.
  • September 23, 2012
    ronelm2012
    Does Sayuka's Danmaku in Touhou - Perfect Cherry Blossom, count as one?
  • September 23, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Only if it's a player attack. An enemy/AI using one would be indistinguishable from normal homing missiles....
  • September 23, 2012
    Koveras
    • Unreal: Return to Na Pali had a rocket launcher whose rockets changed course to wherever the player was aiming at once fired.
  • September 23, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Maybe I should count that as a variation? You don't have direct steering over the projectile, but you can change its target midflight for a similar effect.
  • September 23, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Can pigeons guiding a missile from the inside to a target in a fixed location count? because USA developed that in WWII, sadly the military couldn't bring themselves to accept having a missile steered by a bird.
  • September 23, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ^ Project Pigdeon

    It wouldn't be an actual example, though. Part of the requirement is the interactive tradeoff: You can guide the projectile to target yourself, but your character may be left vulnerable to other attacks in the meantime. The interactive nature is inherently limited to Video Games - anything else would be a tangientially related concept, but not an actual example.
  • September 25, 2012
    Stratadrake
    YKTTW Bump. I'm still wondering whether or not the "laser-guided" system (e.g. Half Life) should count as a variation. It's not as common (depending on genre) and it just doesn't control the same as when you're steering the missile yourself.
  • September 25, 2012
    Folamh3
    • One of the upgrades in the Batman Arkham Series is a remote-controlled Batarang, which is essential for solving certain puzzles.
  • September 25, 2012
    Shnakepup
    ^^I'd say it doesn't count, but that's just me. Seems like this trope is for when things go into Arrow Cam mode and you directly control the trajectory of the missle/whatever, rather than simply guiding it.

    More examples:
    • In Call Of Duty:
      • The Modern Warfare games feature a "Predator Missile" killstreak. When the player activates it, the player character is shown pulling out a laptop. The view then switches to a camera on a missile which is fired from above the map, flying straight down. The player can see the enemies highlighted bright white on the map and they can steer the missile as it's flying, in order to hit one of the enemies. At any time the player can hit a boost which greatly speeds up the missile as well.
      • Black Ops features a "Valkyrie Missile" killstreak. When the player collects it out of a care package, they have a large rocket launcher (that looks similar to a Javelin launcher). The player manually aims it wherever they want, but when they launch it the camera switches to the missile's point-of-view and the player can steer the missile.
      • Black Ops 2 features a "Hellfire" missile that is similar to Modern Warfare's Predator missile. The player controls a missile fired straight down from a bird's-eye perspective. However, when the player hits the trigger, the missile then fires out several smaller missiles in a cluster.
    • Singularity has a special gun that, when fired, shows a from-the-bullet point-of-view. The game goes into Bullet Time and the player can steer the bullet as it flies.
  • September 25, 2012
    MicoolTNT
    Star Wars Battlefront 2 has missiles similar to the Valkyrie available to certain heroes and as an unlock for the anti-tank class, as well as being used on a couple of spaceships.
  • September 29, 2012
    captainsandwich
    I think MCLOS real life weapons in general deserve some attention as i believe some wire guided systems are at least semi-autnomous.
  • September 29, 2012
    Stratadrake
    That's ... "missile-control-line-of-sight" or something if I recall correctly?
  • October 1, 2012
    tryourbreast
    I think this trope counts for all missile that can be controlled by man, not only entirely by a homing algoithm. So Arrow Cam, laser-guided system, and such should all count.
  • October 1, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Statadrake, your close. Manual Command to Line of Sight. (honestly I found out about the category a few days ago)
  • October 1, 2012
    Damr1990
    Another Megaman example

  • October 2, 2012
    Shnakepup
    Added another Call Of Duty example to my above comment
  • October 2, 2012
    abk0100
    I think Half-Life should count. You can't call a trope "player-guided missile" and then only include certain types of player-guided missiles.
  • October 2, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Hmm ... the key point here is that you can guide the attack in progress. In that case Half Life might count (I haven't seen it in action personally), but (say) The Legend Of Zelda Phantom Hourglass where you simply sketch out a flight path and have no further input or control would not. Tropes Are Flexible, but expand this too much and all we'll have left is "player can aim their attack in various directions", which would be bad.
  • October 3, 2012
    GeminiSparkSP
    In Perfect Dark, this is the secondary fire mode of the Slayer Rocket Launcher.
  • October 27, 2012
    Stratadrake
    What do you guys think about giving this article two sub-types?

    • Classic type: You steer the projectile mid-flight and it explodes on (or damages) the first thing it touches.
    • Sketch type: You can steer the attack's intended area of effect or sketch out a custom flight path for the projectile, but you have no further control over the projectile once it's launched. (E.g. Bombchus in The Legend Of Zelda Phantom Hourglass, Ness's PK Flash)

    Both of these involve a similar cost: Whatever time you spend guiding the projectile (or specifying its flight path) means you leave your character vulnerable in the meantime.
  • October 27, 2012
    acrobox
    Ness's PK Flash is the classic type. Bomchus are the sketch type. Right?
  • October 27, 2012
    StarSword
    • Missiles in Liero can be guided to their targets with the left and right keys. By fiddling with the reload rate in the game settings, it's quite easy to produce a circling pinwheel of missiles that will fly off in all directions when you let up the button.
  • October 27, 2012
    MattStriker
    • The TOW missile in the 1990 helicopter sim LHX Attack Chopper behaved like that.
  • October 27, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ^^ Ness's PK Flash actually isn't, because it the projectile doesn't inflict Collision Damage (like his PK Thunder does).
  • October 27, 2012
    DRCEQ
    • In Super Battleship for the SNES, some ships would have a very limited supply of tomahawk missiles to launch. Justifiably so because hitting a ship with the missile will sink it regardless of what it was. The game gives no indication that you're suppose to guide it though, so you may be confused why it just flew off into the wild blue yonder. Even when you control it though, you still have to hope that you're guiding it towards your target, which won't show up until just before it hits.
  • October 29, 2012
    PsiPaula4
    Forgot to mention Lucas's PK Freeze, which is pretty much the same as Ness's PK Flash, except that PK Freeze moves faster and has a larger aiming range.
  • October 29, 2012
    acrobox
    but you still actively control PK Flash/PK Freeze while the character stands still. They just dont explode on impact. There's no drawing a line.
  • October 29, 2012
    Stratadrake
    That's why I'm debating whether to expand the definition to include both types.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=cg9urwdy470qpuk1ckqaejl8&trope=PlayerGuidedMissile