This is when the player controls a party of walking characters
in a video game
by controlling only one of them, usually the main hero. The rest of the party follows obediently in a line like ducklings after their mother. This is also known as caterpillaring.
Often the other party members will copy the leader's movements exactly, but sometimes they act as if they were connected to the hero with a rubber band, so that when the leader starts to run, the other characters start to run only after they start falling behind. In the rubber band variant the other characters will also not follow every zig and zag the leader makes, but head straight to the leader's current position.
Almost always, the leader is able to walk right through his/her allies, as otherwise the player could be confronted with the most pathetic Unwinnable
situation ever, leading this to an Acceptable Break from Reality
. You can't talk to them like you could an NPC, though. Again, partly to keep a party member in your way from blocking you from doing something else occupied on the same space/in the same area.
Contrast Party in My Pocket
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Action Adventure Games
- Your partner in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin can either wait in your pocket or follow you around, matching your movements as closely as possible. Hilarity Ensues when you've got speed-up boots on just one character. There's also a marvelously broken Good Bad Bug based on switching to your partner in mid-jump.
- The Super Famicom title Marvelous: Another Treasure Island has this, though occasionally the following characters will stop to perform a quick "breather" animation before hurrying to catch back up to the leader. You can also opt to separate the party and have the leader go on alone, in which case the other characters will sit down and stay put until called to team back up. By the way, every time you switch who the leader is, the party automatically separates.
- In Overlord, your minions, when not attacking, being swept, or otherwise busy, will follow the Overlord anywhere and everywhere (except water if they are not Blue minions.)
- In Mickey Mousecapade, the player controls Mickey Mouse, and Minnie Mouse follows along behind him, repeating his actions exactly a moment after he makes them (so that Minnie doesn't jump until she reachest the point where Mickey jumped, and therefore doesn't fall to her death). This has the interesting side affect of letting you make Minnie stop in midair by standing still when you land after a jump. It's also vital to beating some of the tougher end bosses - Minnie doesn't take damage from enemy attacks, so you can sometimes run just to the edge of the area the end boss's attacks can reach, then immediately double back and duck into cover, leaving Minnie out in the open where she can shoot at the end boss while Mickey stands where he can't be hit.
- Resident Evil
- Resident Evil 4: Ashley Graham will trail behind Leon wherever he goes when in follow mode. To keep her out of danger you often have to stash her somewhere secluded, like up a tower, in a dumpster, or on the opposite end of a choke point, and give her the wait command.
- Can be played straight in Resident Evil 5 with Sheva Alomar, your co-op partner. If you don't have a second controller and a skilled friend, Sheva will be controlled by the AI. Granted, she won't do anything completely boneheaded like walking into a crocodile or firing an explosive at a close-ranged enemy, the AI has no concept of flanking maneuvers, preferring to practically glomp you instead. (Then again, have you seen Chris Redfield lately?) This can make fights like Popokarimu and the final Wesker fight practically one-on-one fights with an AI spectator, whereas two human players could run literal circles around such foes and shoot them in their squishy backsides.
- Throne of Darkness: While you can set formations for your party, all positions are absolute (instead of relative) to your facing, and need constant resetting if the party doesn't fit into a particular turn. The feature ends up being mostly ignored.
- In many Harry Potter games, you control Harry with Ron and Hermione following behind him. Ron and Hermione back you up in Boss Battles, but will say It's Up to You if you have to do anything more complex than that.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, the Bremen Mask allows you to lead young farm animals around in this manner.
- In the game based on Star Trek: The Next Generation for the SNES and Genesis, the characters you don't control will stand still, even if attacked. By using the "Command" and touching the character, they will mimic your walking exactly (they still won't fire their phasers or anything, however).
- Despite being a racing game, Super Mario Kart had the AI follow behind each other perfectly and would never speed up or slow down unless they are out of position they were in previously (example: if Mario is currently ranked at 4th place in the standings, he will stay in 4th unless you interfere). They would also never deviate from their pre-determined path unless you shoved them with an item.
- If you look at older PennyRacers race demos or AI's movements, you'll notice that every car will follow each other in a line, except in the large straight lines where the line may split up into 2.
- In Custom Robo (the one for the GameCube), the story mode you usually just control one person. However, occasionally someone follows you somewhere, and has an extremely annoying habit of getting in the way as their movement is slaved to yours. At one point, roughly six to eight people are following you in what fans have affectionately dubbed the "World's Worst Conga Line." Arena has this also, but you can walk through your party, thankfully.
- Super Smash Bros.
- Olimar. Thankfully, because he is pretty much useless without his Pikmin.
- Also from Super Smash Bros. are the Ice Climbers, who fight as a duo. One of the climbers is AI-controlled and mimics the player's movements very closely. This is essential, as their special attacks are pretty weak when separated, especially their recovery move, which is next to useless unless they are together. Very good players are able to deliberately desync them to perform extremely effective strategies that would normally only be possible in team battles, for example letting one of them throw the enemy and the other to knock him back, only for the first one to grab him again, which can repeated for a long time.
- Also the Pikmin themselves in the original games (even when it would not be a good idea for them to do so), though in larger numbers it's not so much in a line as a swarm, and the player can control their swarming behavior with the C-stick.
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Tails follows Sonic like this in many of the games, though with partial delay. He also attacks enemies, sometimes proving himself useful (Grabbers in Chemical Plant Zone), sometimes not (Special Stages in Sonic 2).
- In Sonic Heroes the the other members of your team follow you around like this in the Speed and Power formations, through in the Power formation the characters will generally try to stand in a V behind the Power characters and auto-attack weaker enemies for you.
- Likewise the Flickies in Sonic 3D Blast follow Sonic to the letter. Having the chain of Flickies get hit would cause them to separate, as would having Sonic get hit, though you don't lose rings if a Flicky takes a hit. This was based on the game Flicky, which had the same principle, albeit in 2D, and you played as a mother bluebird named Flicky, not Sonic.
- Kirby Super Star also has enemies you barf back up act somewhat like this when a second player isn't controlling them.
- The same happens in Kirby's Dream Land 3, with Gooey.
- Averted in Kirby and The Amazing Mirror, with the rest of the Kirbys going their own way entirely, through completely different rooms and even in the opposite direction. Except when you called them to you.
- Donkey Kong Country games are known to have two playable characters in the player's command at the same time, with one active and the other following just behind until you switch their positions.
- This is the basic idea behind Lemmings; the eponymous creatures march, in line, en masse, across the screen, and the player has to assign special abilities to certain ones in order to scale obstacles and bridge chasms. While technically each individual lemming walks in a straight line heedless of the others, this still tends to result in the All In A Row effect, largely due to it being (usually) the most effective way to play.
- The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games have your party follow your every move in the field and in dungeons, they'll try to stay on the panels directly adjacent to you unless ordered otherwise.
- Also in Pokémon Ranger and Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia, where your current party will trail you around until released. On some missions, you will be accompanied by human NPCs as well.
- And NPCs in Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, when traveling with you, travel like this.
- The sidekick in the original Pokémon Colosseum, travel partners in the D/P/Pt games, Pokémon in Amity Square and Pikachu in Pokémon Yellow (that is, Special Pikachu Edition), but it's not so bad since there's only one at a time (even if the pathfinder for Rui was fairly dense). The first party Pokémon in HeartGold/SoulSilver follows the player as well. Note that anyone this doesn't apply to is part of a Party in My Pocket instead.
Role Playing Games
- All Growlanser titles use this trope. The party members follow the protagonist at all times.
- BioWare is rather fond of this trope. Mass Effect and Knights of the Old Republic have two party members flanking the player character at all times, Neverwinter Nights and Jade Empire have a single party member following the player in a less organized fashion, and Dragon Age and Baldur's Gate avert this by allowing the player to jump between controlled players and even command multiple party members at once. One way or another though they end up adhering to your shoulders like bipedal pauldrons during conversations.
- Secret of Mana and Seiken Densetsu 3 use the rubber band version in its single player mode. The game won't allow anyone to be scrolled off the screen, however, meaning you can find yourself unable to move further if they get distracted by an enemy and get trapped between a wall and the edges of the screen.
- Lufia & The Fortress of Doom in its entirety and Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals and Lufia: The Ruins of Lore in town areas, with the last two using Party in My Pocket elsewhere (Lufia: The Legend Returns uses Party in My Pocket during the entire game).
- Most Final Fantasy games stick with Party in My Pocket, but the following do this:
- In Final Fantasy III, your main party adheres to Party in My Pocket, but any NPC who joins you follows while lagging behind.
- Final Fantasy VIII. So much so, it has become the thing of parodies.
- Even lampshaded in-game, when Selphie and two others break into a missile silo dressed as guards. A guard will commend you for walking in single file.
- Final Fantasy XIII you follow your party members, who will always walk towards where the plot needs them. They often comment on you dawdling and going off the wrong direction.
- In Final Fantasy XIII-2, Noel will follow Serah around (or vice versa if you're controlling Noel), and Mog hovers around both of them. Your Mons stay hidden outside of battle, though.
- Penny Arcade Adventures.
- All main installments of the Dragon Quest series after the first one (which only had one player character to show on the screen period), excluding Dragon Quest VIII, which for some reason uses Party in My Pocket (this isn't due to the 3D graphics because Dragon Quest IX renders party members and the environment in 3D on less powerful hardware, but brought back All in a Row like II through VII). In a little twist, there is often a button that lets you talk to your party members, who will comment on the surroundings or tip you off about where to go next. And if any of your character's died, you ended up dragging their coffins behind you, still All In A Row.
- All three MOTHER games, which isn't surprising since other elements of their gameplay are similar to that of Dragon Questnote . Earthbound mixes the two variants. Only Mostly Dead characters become a weird mix of angels and ghosts (except in Mother 3, where they just slouch and drag their feet). It's kinda strange really, you can give them a revival item to bring them back, but if you revive them through the hospital the doctor's act as if they've been rushed to the hospital a while ago. No matter which one you go to. This also applies in the fangames Mother: Cognitive Dissonance and Mother 4. Cognitive Dissonance follows the Mother and EarthBound trend of floating ghost angels for defeated party members.
- In Ultima VII, the characters showed their dedication to the Avatar by electing to walk through explosive traps and stand in campfires rather than fall out of formation with him.
- Ultima VI does this as well.
- In the excellent oldie Hard Nova, the entire party walks single-file... though of course when flying only the spaceship is shown. In this case, the party even fights in the same single file, and creative backstepping to change party order is crucial to distribute damage optimally.
- In Chrono Trigger, characters followed each other a bit more realistically, although they would immediately jump into battle position when entering combat mode. The Only Mostly Dead problem was moot, since they are bumped back to 1hp after the battle. Same thing goes for Chrono Cross, albeit without characters jumping into battle position due to the fact that combat takes place on a separate screen in Cross.
- In Live A Live, where the other party members would follow behind in various formations depending on how many there were. Lampshaded in Prehistoric Chapter when the hero, caveman Pogo, falls down a pit and his faithful gorilla, Gori, sees nothing better to do than just jump with him.
- All the Breath of Fire games until Dragon Quarter displayed your current battle party all the time. In most games, they simply trailed the leader's movements by 1-3 tiles, and you could cycle through your party, as only the special abilities of the one on point could be activated on the Overworld Not to Scale. This could lead to the odd animation of party members passing through each other if you suddenly reversed course.
- In Breath of Fire III, the party members tried to find their own paths, often taking a few seconds to catch up if the leader was running. They could get caught up on obstacles, whereupon they faded away and suddenly appeared beside them. Especially bad at getting stuck was Garr, who, being much larger, could not pass through small spaces. Like Chrono Trigger, there was no problem with Only Mostly Dead, as dead characters were bumped to 1 Hit Point (with reduced Maximum Hit Points) after battle concluded.
- Breath of Fire IV reverted to the 1-3 tiles behind method.
- The Kingdom Hearts games has the other two party members following Sora around, and they don't follow you around perfectly... they often lag behind, having to catch up when you stop. And they will sometimes fight Heartless when you don't. They also tend to fall into holes, or try to climb obstacles when you're not.
- Kingdom Hearts II is a bit better with this: When you enter an area without Heartless-encounters, Donald, Goofy and any world specific Party Member will start to act like NPCs and kinda do their own thing, instead of following Sora around. This also gives Sora a chance to talk to them.
- In 358/2 Days, the Organization members will teleport to catch up if they fall behind. Sometimes they like to teleport to you while you're in mid jump. You cannot run through them. Guess how helpful this is.
- Your dream eater allies in Kingdom Hearts 3D will start wandering around if you idle long enough, and frequently forget to start following you again. Fortunately, they simply teleport over to you if they get too far away or if you enter combat. You can also have them do it whenever you wish by holding L and R.
- The first two Paper Mario games had Mario's current partner follow him and jump when he did; Otherwise, they go under Party in My Pocket. They still occasionally get stuck on things or fall in the water, but this simply causes them to warp back to Mario's side a moment later.
- Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga obeyed this trope by necessity as a part of the game's puzzles and platforming: you controlled the player in front with the directional pad, and the other brother followed closely behind. However, you had to command both brothers to do any other action, such as jumping. The sequel, Partners in Time, did this with four characters in a piggy-back style control method.
- As well as Dungeon Siege.
- The Phantasy Star series' entries (prior to the Dreamcast-and-later online MMORPGs) all feature this trope. In IV, you could even have a giant penguin follow you around in town, just for the hell of it.
- The Phantasy Star Online games follow this trope as well. If you have more than one NPC companion, they'll follow you in a line when not in combat.
- The Lunar games generally follow this rule, although the 32-bit remakes changed it to where the support characters were "swallowed up" into Alex or Hiro's bodies in hostile areas.
- The X-Men Legends and Marvel Ultimate Alliance games have you controlling one of four characters, and switching between them. The AI controls the others in single-player mode, and makes their movement a bit more natural-looking than the "duckling" behavior the trope describes, though they will (for the most part) stay close to you. They are ''usually smart enough to avoid walking off cliffs or into fires and so on.
- After initially using Party in My Pocket for the Exile games, the Avernum Video Game Remake series switched over to this following Nethergate. Since the games don't just lack Fight Woosh, but go to the extent of having combat take place exactly how you're laid out, whatever caravan-like jumble your party is in is exactly how you're arrayed when you go into combat mode.
- Geneforge, from the same company, does this as well. Creations can be scattered half-way across the map when the party freezes with that 'shnickt!' sound that passes for Fight Woosh.
- However, Geneforge gives you a choice of what "formation" to use for your party. You can have the characters line up, form a T, form a triangle, and so forth.
- Evolution: The World of Sacred Device had the other characters follow Mag perfectly.
- Grandia pulled this trope not just for your team, but for enemies as well. Groups of enemies would appear in a line like your team, and you could even hit the back members of the enemy groups in order to get the initiative on them. Of course, enemies will also get the initiative on YOU if they hit anyone besides main character Justin.
- Grandia II also did this but they were affected by the environment, or maybe they were just copying you being affected by the environment.
- Persona 3, when exploring Tartarus or on any other sort of mission where combat is involved. They have a tendency to get stuck when you make sharp turns or walk beside ladders. You can actually order them to explore on their own, whereupon they leave you entirely and will wander the map until ordered to return; they'll even engage in combat and open treasure chests by themselves (giving you the loot when they come back).
- Persona 4 had the characters follow you around, but with much more distance than Persona 3's party members.
- Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura uses a rubber-band effect but for the most part only noticable with slow members such as armored dwarfs and mechanical spiders, and everyone else is quick enough (and has smart enough path finding for the most part) to keep up.
- Done in .hack games, but since you can't have more than three people (and hence two teammates) at a time, it's not that bad. Also, they only follow you in the field; they go off on their own in the cities (or, in GU, hang out in a predetermined spot). GU however illustrates why this trope is not very favorable: trap rooms and stupid AI.
- While not always using this trope, RuneScape is also a noteworthy All-in-a-row user. In-game, there is an option to follow another player. Overuse of this may result in a line of twenty people following each other. This case follows the rule of "Drop behind and spring back like rubber."
- But it became funny when two players followed each other. They would either dosey-do back nad forth, or sidestep while facing each other like they were about to have a duel of some kind.
- A little known Super Famicom and Sega Saturn game called Albert Odyssey actually had a rather interesting take on this trope. The party members follow the hero, but they don't all follow him in a row. The sprites frequently overlap with each other, characters wind up clustering around doors, and some even walk at different speeds. This actually leads to it almost looking like the characters are pushing each other out of the way to get to the front of the little mess. It can also be a bit amusing when a party member gets stuck behind an object or a barrier on the field map.
- Retro Game Challenge, a DS game that has mini-games that resembles a series of NES-like games, has a Dragon Quest/Final Fantasy-like RPG called Guadia Quest. All party members are visible, however, and follow the lead character around, unlike the aforementioned games.
- Jays Journey does this, a rarity for games made with RPG Maker 2000, which mostly adhere to the Party in My Pocket principle.
- The Legend of Dragoon.
- Digimon World 3 has this, with your Digimon following exactly in your footsteps. They do not maintain a minimum distance, meaning that if you insist on running into a wall, the party will fold up on you like a concertina. They will also fold up during cutscenes, so afterwards you need to take a few steps to unfold them.
- Tales of Destiny used this somewhat on the world map. The other members of the fighting party didn't follow you on the map itself, but there was a small window at the bottom of the screen that showed a profile shot of the rest of the party following the hero. In the Japanese version, this window was used for small mid-journey conversations between the characters, which were removed from the English version (due to a lack of voice acting).
- Knights of Xentar: Rolf and Luna happily runs along in a nice line behind Desmond. It may be that they are just careful not to get in front of him.
- Xenogears also did this, with a slight delay in jumping actions.
- Xenoblade uses the rubberbanding variant, and while your party members are tangible, you can push them out of the way rather easily (And off cliffs, if you feel like it, since they'll get better quickly enough).
- The first few Fallout titles has your followers do this, much like the Arcanum example. They usually spread out a little.
- In the later games, this is played straight as a line.
- Also played straight in The Elder Scrolls, especially when you happen to have multiple followers at once. Quite fitting, since they also tend to have the brains and common knowledge of ducklings.
- The Spirit Engine 2, like Hard Nova, even has characters fight in a line. (It helps that the game's sidescrolling, so there aren't any angles to deal with—the only impediment is when they have to turn around, in which case they walk through each other.)
- The party in Magical Starsign. All six of them.
- The MARDEK series.
- Dubloon exploits this in one of the puzzles where you have to position correct party members on correct tiles in order to pass. Meanwhile, the enemies do the exact opposite.
- Played perfectly straight in Okage: Shadow King. Two of your party members stay behind you, and the ones not present walk in temporarily during cutscenes when needed.
- Your party members in Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light use the rubber-band variation.
- KQ (the obscure Lufia-inspired game, not King's Quest) has the rubber band variant of this trope, complete with companions that are capable of passing through stone walls if they fall far enough behind.
- Used on the 2D maps of Albion.
- Sorcerian is an unusual example of this in Side View.
- Inazuma Eleven mixes this and Party in My Pocket. Normally, three people tag along behind the leader for random matches, and the other twelve members can be swapped in.
- Cthulhu Saves the World has your party members follow behind Cthulhu in all their pixelated glory.
- For 7th Dragon your party follows whoever is in the first slot in your party and will not appear different if they are dead or have a status effect.
- Ragnarok Online used this for pets, though you can only have one at a time. It shares your space if you just changed maps or teleported (visibly overlapping, not waiting in your pocket), but otherwise stops a square behind you. And if you manage to trap it behind an obstacle or outrun it, it fades away and reappears at your side.
Shoot 'Em Up
- In Star Jacker (a 1983 Arcade Game by Sega), the player controls a fleet of ships that fly in a straight formation. Only the lead ship gets an open line of fire unless it starts moving to the side.
Turn Based Strategy
- In the Dark Sun games you could toggle freely between this mode and Party in My Pocket.
- Shining Force II does this whenever a character joins or a key NPC is traveling with the party. Almost always it is at least Bowie and Peter, then it's Oddler, then replace Oddler with Astral. on the world map, a transportation vehicle also follows, and they take a formation. (of course this is more like Dragon Quest).
It also gets rather ridiculous if the player returns to Creed's mansion. By that point they will have two permanent followers. Since you had the choice of one party member out of four, you can recruit the additional Optional Party Member (s) there and there will literally be five people tailing Bowie.
Wide Open Sandbox
- When you interact with fish varieties you have already "befriended" in Endless Ocean, assuming they don't move "on a track", they will start to follow you everywhere. It looks really strange when your diver is surrounded by everything from parrotfish to sharp-toothed barracuda.
Non-video game examples:
Anime and Manga
- Referenced in a Sketchbook strip: Sora's friends visit her when she's sick and her brother shows them to her room. They silently follow single file as he walks through the house, leading to him to comment that he feels like an RPG hero.
- The "Formation Lap" in Future GPX Cyber Formula is basically a take from real life motorsport's safety car rule. It is usually led by the racer who takes the pole position in the qualifying races and is being followed by a safety car until the blue signal light lights up.
- Ducks and geese lead their young around in this manner.
- This is actually the easiest way for several people to navigate through a thick crowd (which is common in the most populated areas of Japan). Walking side by side is frequently impossible.
- And also by early hunting parties as a means of avoiding snake attacks in long grass. A hidden snake will often dodge sideways in order to avoid larger animals as they approach.
- Before an actual race in F1, racers follow a safety car around the circuit once without breaking the formation before lining up on a starting grid. Also, if an accident happens and a yellow flag is being waved, all machines must avoid speeding up or passing each other, and must follow the safety car until the green flag is waved.
- NASCAR races often take the shape of two or three long lines of cars almost bumper-to-bumper, riding in one another's slipstreams to conserve fuel.
- Racing lines sometimes create this image. They are routes in racing tracks that are calculated and proved to be an effective way racers can make the best out of their running time. The result of every racer trying to follow the same racing line is that it seems they are driving All in a Row, even though they are not.
- This is how young children are instructed to walk when navigating a school or anywhere else as a group, in order for their teacher or other authority figures to ensure that no one is missing or can just run off without being noticed.