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Ambidextrous Sprite
Behold, the mystery of the flipping scar, eyepatch, light source and hand wraps.
"Hey, I'm pretty sure it was the other headlight that was broken when I left."
Detective Inspector Hector, Hector: Badge of Carnage

Sprites are pixel art characters used in video games. Unlike a 3D model, you can't simply rotate a sprite to get a new view of it. Additional clothes, poses, and each frame of animation for actions have to be made almost entirely from scratch. For this reason, artists will usually make sprites perfectly bilaterally symmetrical. That way, any poses or actions made facing left could simply be flipped to make the same poses and actions facing right. There were also memory size concerns on earlier platforms. It was often more efficient to mirror the sprite than to store the opposite poses.

However, sometimes the concept for a character doesn't lend itself to symmetry. It might have an object in one hand or an eye patch or scar on one side. Whatever it is, simply flipping the sprite causes the feature to "change sides." In the most blatant examples, the sprite will have letters or numbers on it which flip with the sprite.

Sometimes, developers will take the time to make a separate sprite for both the left and right facings. Usually, though, they won't bother.

This isn't limited to 2D games, although it is most common there. Older 3D games store the views of the character positioned in 45-degree increments, but will stop at 180 degrees and make up the three remaining views through mirroring. In addition, some modern 3D fighting games mirror the character animations intentionally to resemble their 2D precursors.

With the advent of Flash as an animation platform, this is starting to leak from video games into animation as well; compare Cheated Angle.

Since this is a ubiquitous trope, please only note examples where it is either glaringly obvious or averted.


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Examples

    Action Adventure 
  • Puzzle Bobble 3 a.k.a. Bust-A-Move '99 (or 3) had Lunaluna (or, since the names were not outright revealed, "that one fortune teller lady with the crystal ball and affinity for tarot cards"). Her hair was made so that the left side of her head was covered with a very long bang that covered quite a bit of length of her body. The other side was barely shoulder length. All artwork depicting her throughout the game had shown her with the long hair to her left, including splash screens, the ending, etc, but there was one problem. When playing her as Player 1, she is flipped so her long hair is on the wrong side and can't be fixed. It is only fixed when you face her (but you aren't the one in control) or when you play as Player 2 (in which her hair is now green).
    • Something similar happens with Lip's hair in Panel de Pon; she has a swirl on the right side of her head and a flipped-up part on the other. Naturally, this gets reversed when any of her sprites are mirrored. For bonus points, her Vs. Mode artwork is only displayed in its "correct" orientation if player 2 selects her in multiplayer!
  • Link is left-handed, but in the first few The Legend of Zelda games his sword and shield will switch hands depending on which way he's facing. The player's guide for A Link to the Past mentioned how Link superstitiously kept his shield between him and Death Mountain. Actually averted in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening since Link will always have his sword in his left hand and his shield on his right if equipped.
  • Metroid - In the original NES game, Samus' arm cannon would spontaneously switch arms, depending on which way she's looking. Notable because every sequel averts it, even Metroid II: Return of Samus for the Game Boy.
    • Even the original game has unique left-facing sprites in the ROM, but they're unused.
  • Muramasa: The Demon Blade justifies this with non-player characters by giving them turning animations, allowing them to move whatever objects they're holding around so that they look the same facing the other direction (like Torahime switching her bow from one hand to the other.) Averted in one of the DLC chapters: one character's Distinguishing Mark on his shoulder, normally hidden by his clothing, does disappear from his sprite when he takes off his shirt and turns around in the hot spring.
  • Werewolf: The Last Warrior had a hilarious usage where certain types of guards would see the player and shout "OH!" before going for their guns. If they were facing a certain way, their cry of alarm, exclamation mark and all, would be totally flipped around (!HO).

    Action Game 
  • It's not just limited to sprites, either. Gears of War mirrors your character's skeleton if you put your back to cover in a way that'll make your character use his left hand. Even some of the weapons magically mirror scopes, bolts etc.
  • Contra: Hard Corps - Brad Fang has a cybernetic arm on the side closest to the background and a gun on the foreground side. While even the different endings are not consistent, the promotional illustrations depicts his left arm as his gun arm.
  • Rastan Saga - The enemy guards in the castle stages are demon-headed humanoid warriors that have one half of their skin in green and the other half in white flesh tone.

    Beat 'em ups 
  • Most games in this genre do this whenever a character is holding a weapon. They change hands when they look in a different direction. This is especially noticeable in weapon-based belt-scrollers like Sega's Golden Axe and Capcom's Dungeons & Dragons games.
  • Final Fight
    • The suspender on Mike Haggar's pants tends to switch sides depending on whether he's facing right or left. In most official artworks and character select profiles, it is shown going around the right side of his chest. This is averted in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, where his suspender is always on the right shoulder.
    • The enemy grunts J and Two P have designs on the back of their jackets that are flipped whenever either of them change directions. It's particularly notable with J's jacket, who wears an atomic symbol on his back that has the word "BAD" written atop of it, which is mirrored when J is facing to the right.
  • Alien Vs Predator Capcom - All the player characters have asymmetrical designs (as shown on the game's brochure) that differs in-game depending on whether the player is facing left or right.
    • Linn Kurosawa has a large studded shoulder guard on her left shoulder, as well as knife holster on her right leg. Strangely, they're switched by default on her in-game sprite, since all the player characters start the game facing right. The hilt of the katana she carries on the back of her waist also switches sides to the opposite of her current direction.
    • Dutch Schaeffer has a cybernetic right arm that switches to his left arm (the arm closest to the foreground) when facing left.
    • Both of the Predators wield weapons that they hold on their right arms by default (a spear for Predator Warrior and a halberd Predator Hunter). Hunter also wears a claw on the same hand he uses to wield his weapon.
  • Double Dragon
    • Machine Gun Willy, the final boss, wears a single spiked shoulder pad which switches from his left shoulder when facing left and to his right when facing right. The promotional illustrations for the arcade and Famicom versions clearly shows Willy wearing his shoulder pad on his right shoulder.
    • The cardboard box that appears in the beginning of Mission 2 in the NES version has "TJC" (the initials for Technos Japan Corp.) written on it. The letters are flipped whenever the cardboard is "facing" to the left.
    • In the arcade version of Double Dragon II, the enemy character Rowper wears an eyepatch which switches to his left eye when he's facing right and vice-versa. He didn't wear it in any other installment in the series.
    • Despite featuring polygon models instead of bitmapped sprites, Double Dragon Neon also utilizes sprite mirroring. The Lindas in particular have a tattoo above one of their breasts that changes from her right breast when she's facing right to her left breast when facing left.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Video Game - When Matthew Patel is facing left, his hair covers his left eye, but when facing right, his hair covers his right eye. Also, Knives' highlights will move to different sides of her hair depending on the direction she's facing.
  • The Punisher (Capcom) - The two player characters, Frank Castle and Nick Fury, both have a gun holster on one of their legs. The official brochure depicts them wearing the holsters on their respective right legs. Oddly enough, Nick Fury's eye-patch averts this by always appearing on his left eye, no matter which direction he is facing.
  • Growl - Nitroman, the Round 1 boss, wears a shoulder pad and an armband on the side that he's not facing.
  • Riot City - Paul (the Player 1 character) wears white bandages around the arm closest to his front side.

    Eastern RPG 
  • Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories - Not only are the battle sprites flipped, making characters wield their weapons on different hands depending on which way they are facing, the overworld and talking sprites are also mirrored. The latter is usually not a problem, since most of the characters are rather symmetric... except with Zexion, whose right eye is (supposed to be) covered by his hair. The mirroring of his sprites is thus a little bit more noticeable.
  • EarthBound
    • The Runaway Five's van doesn't do a particularly good job of this. During part of the trip, when it's driving left, it reads YAWAИUЯ.
    • Ness's sprites when walking horizontally or diagonally are mirrored. However, he's also the sole character whose "walking towards the screen" animation doesn't use simple mirroring.
  • One Piece has several characters that are asymmetrical. Despite the aversion(s) listed below, earlier games often had only one sprite set for Sanji, a character that very distinctively has one eye covered by his hair, and the other one has a curly eyebrow. Other characters that should have issues are Luffy, with his scar under his eye, Zoro, with his chest scar, Nami with her tattoo, Chopper who technically has one of his antlers reattached, Franky, who has different weapons on different sides and are named as such (IE Weapons Left), and at one time Brook had a crack in his skull. I don't think any of the other ones have been issues, either due to clothes covering them up, the details being too pixelated to tell anyways, or the character simply not having been around long enough to have been in a Gameboy game.
  • Paper Mario - Some characters have ambidextrous designs. Quite possibly done intentionally, seeing how the fact that all the characters literally ARE 2D is a selling point.
  • Luminous Arc tried very hard not to flip one character's chat portrait since she was basically Fashionable Asymmetry embodied and ludicrously over-accessorized. Whenever she's flipped, heterochromia, star-shaped beauty mark on one breast, and so on, and so forth, are all reversed, and it's distractingly obvious. You'd think someone on the design team would keep that whole "sprite flip" thing in mind, but no.
  • The World Ends with You has this issue when it comes to the larger sprites during cut scenes. Most noticeable is Sho's sprite. His tattooed arm is on his left when facing the west but on his right when facing the east. We're still not completely certain which of Sho's arms is black...
  • In Final Fantasy V, the pirates have eye patches. Whether they're looking left or right, the eye patch is always over their visible eye.
  • Happens to Sion in Treasure Of The Rudras after his eye is taken out early in the game. His right eye gets taken out, but if he's walking right his eye is left un-patched, a mirror to his sprite when walking left.
  • Inazuma Eleven had this hold true in the overworld sprites of their DS games, which is jarring when hand-in-hand with Peek-a-Bangs characters such as Kazemaru and Edgar, or those with eyepatches like Sakuma.
  • Radiant Historia has a partial exception. One of the party members, Rosch, has a mechanical prosthetic in place of his left arm, and it stays on his left whichever way his sprite is facing. However, it will magically migrate over to his right arm whenever his portrait is facing the other way, as well as when you have to fight him, causing his battle sprite to be mirrored as well. Otherwise, done completely straight; in particular, the main character's shield has a nasty habit of switching arms whenever he turns around.
  • A somewhat bizarre case in Pokémon is that some Pokemon flip aspects of themselves between their front and back sprites... which are not mirror images of one another. For example, Marowak holds its bone in a different hand, and the off-center gear on the Klink family is always on the viewer's left side.
  • Made by the same company as the above-mentioned Muramasa, Odin Sphere also utilizes turning animations to try and justify this trope.

    Fighting Game 
  • In general, 2D fighting games (even titles created in a 3D engine) are designed so that the characters do not turn their backs to the camera, as 1) giving characters two unique sprite sets puts extra work on the development team, and 2) characters can gain/lose an advantage from being on a particular side, which can lead to combos not working (or, worse, can create infinite combo opportunities.) Always having one sprite set evens up the odds of victory.
  • Sagat from the Street Fighter series has had a diagonal scar across his chest (due to Ryu defeating him with a Shoryuken) since the first Street Fighter II installment, along with an eyepatch he has worn over one of his eyes since the original game. However, the eye and direction of the scar change depending on which side of the stage he's on. While all the illustrations since Street Fighter II depicts Sagat's eyepatch on his right side, some of the original art for the first Street Fighter depicts Sagat with the eyepatch on his left eye.
    • Guile has the American flag tattooed on both of his shoulders, but the Stars and Stripes mirror backwards depending on which way he's facing. When they redrew his sprites in Alpha 3, they got it backwards, and now his uber-patriotic tattoos are wrong no matter which way he's facing.
      • This is something of a Truth in Television. Guile's tattoos mimic the flag patches on military uniforms. Since the U.S. flag has no lateral symmetry, there are certain rules as to how the patches are worn. Notably, the blue field and stars are supposed to be oriented toward the front of the wearer, meaning a patch worn on the left shoulder looks like normal U.S. flag, but a patch worn on the right shoulder is mirrored. It's symbolic of the flag flying backwards as the soldier charges into battle.
    • Vega wields a talon on his right hand. The talon switches hands depending on which way he's facing. It even happens in Street Fighter IV, which is in 3D. Incidentally, both Vega and Sagat actually avert it (other than the talon) in that game: Sagat's eyepatch and scar finally stay correctly aligned regardless of which way he's facing, as do Vega's dragon tattoo and asymmetrical sash.
    • However, characters' move sets in Street Fighter IV are still mirrored so that they never turn their backs on the camera. Old habits die hard.
    • Tyler Wilde of GamesRadar had a field day with Oro from Street Fighter III, who binds his right arm to stop himself from killing his opponent. This didn't stop him from being subjected to this, however.
    • Dee Jay's pants have MAXIMUM printed on them, instead of something else less vertically symmetrical (like MANTIS), for this very reason.
    • While Cammy for the most part was symmetrically designed, she had a few issues with mirroring. In Super Street Fighter II, the red triangle on her chest and leg camouflage would switch locations. She wore a different costume for X-Men vs. Street Fighter, where she now wore asymmetrical gauntlets. Her jumping heavy punch has the elbow guard on the opposite arm.
  • In Marvel vs. Capcom 3, despite featuring 3D models, the biggest example is Spencer's bionic arm, which changes sides depending on whether he is facing left or right. Amaterasu, when using her Rosary Weapon (that's the whip weapon for non-Okami-ites), will, for one button, slam them from above her, to in front of her, then to behind her. This switches sides depending on which way she's facing, always facing away from the camera on the second attack.
    • Characters like Wesker that shoot a single-handed gun will also change their firing arms.
    • While not as much a problem as Spencer's, in Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age Of Heroes Cable's bionic arm will also switch sides depending on which way he's facing. Also, characters that wield weapons will swap hands when they turn around.
  • Baiken from the Guilty Gear series has a missing eye and arm, which periodically swap sides.
    • Dizzy's wings flip, too. If you use that Overdrive with Necro, you can even see the coffin is flipped.
  • Genjuro from Samurai Shodown has a diagonal scar on his back. Yagyu Jubei has an eyepatch. They flip when the characters turn around.
    • That's not the worst of it. Haohmaru doesn't look as bad as some others (two-handed grip can just shift). One-handed weapon wielders (Charlotte, Cham Cham, Ukyo) can be handwaved by saying they're holding it in their other hand. Some two-handed wielders can get away with this too (Wan-Fu and Caffeine Nicotine especially—Nicotine's an old man with a staff, and Wan Fu's huge stone pillar probably gets heavy). Then there's Gen-An and Neinhalt Sieger, with their huge GLOVE weapons. Those..don't switch that easily..
  • In the 2D Bleach Fighting Games for the DS Chad's "Right Arm of the Giant" will switch places with his left depending on which way he faces. The sequel averts this.
  • Ragna the Bloodedge of BlazBlue canonically carries his sword in his left hand, and the Azure Grimoire on his artificial right hand. In-game, the Azure is always on the hand closest to the "camera" and the sword always in opposite hand. One of his Too Many Belts changes sides as well.
    • Similarly, Sol Badguy of Guilty Gear holds Fuuenken with his left hand, but that's only reflected in-game if he's on the left side of the screen.
    • Carl's hat hat and Nirvana's ring also dance from left to right.
    • Nu's Eyepatch of Power is completely covered by her Murakumo unit visor, possibly to avoid such issues.
    • Litchi's hair ponytail location also switch between left to right at times. However, in story modes, each of her poses are never flipped, thus averting the trope.
    • And, despite using 3D models, Freed of Battle Fantasia has a giant hook for one hand that blatantly switches from left to right.
  • Kano's bionic eye in Mortal Kombat always faced the camera until the series went into 3D.
    • Mortal Kombat 4 (despite using 3D models instead of digitized sprites) would still employ mirroring if the characters reversed sides. It was especially noticeable with weapon-wielding characters, and also with Sub-Zero's scar switching from his right eye to his left. Word of God confirms that this required a special routine to be implemented and was absolutely intentional, since normal 3D models don't do that.
  • The King of Fighters also had a plenty of these. First, we have another bionic eye example, except the one who has it this time is Rugal. Next, Brian Battler's... thing on the shoulder. But well, those were early examples, thanks to the fact they both were in KoF94... but then they were harmlessly re-implanted in KoF98. And 2002. And Capcom VS SNK, except Battler is nowhere to be seen in the last two.
    • More recent example: K'. May not carry this illness at first, but you may notice that he wears a red glove on one of his hands. Look closer and you'll never figure out on which exactly.
    • Even more recent example: Bonne Jenet, who was carried into the series (for a short time) from Garou: Mark of the Wolves. Even if this game had really smooth animation, it couldn't fix the problem with mirroring for some reason, so now her dress with Jolly Roger drawn on it is either on the left side, or the right, depeding on which side she's facing.
  • The Rave Master game for the GameCube uses 3D characters, but the scenes between fights uses 2D images, which it flips, of course. For some characters, this is just fine, even on Musica one might not notice that his piercings moved to the other side of his face, but the tattoo that takes up half of Sieg Hart's face or, worse, the tattoo that covers half of Go's body are impossible to miss.
  • Heart Aino of Arcana Heart wear ribbons on one of her wrists. Which wrist varies according to which side of the screen she's on.
  • In Touhou 12.3: Hisoutensoku:
    • Utsuho has the same problem that Mega Man does: her control rod/arm cannon is suppose to be on her right arm, yet it switches sides depending on which way she's facing.
    • Suika's ribbon on one of her horns.
    • Yukari's umbrella.
      • The yin-yang on Yukari's dress.
    • Both Patchouli and Alice's books.
    • Reimu and Sanae's gohei.
    • Reisen's ears.
    • Aya's fan.
    • The ribbon in Remilia's hat.
  • The American flag on the back of Geese Howard's gi in the first Fatal Fury.
  • Persona 4 Arena has this, given most characters are armed, it's quite clear:
    • Even Akihiko, the boxer is subject to this due to his asymmetric design.
    • Due to the necessity of making characters face the camera, this trope makes The Southpaw Akihiko and Royal Rapier-using Mitsuru use their non-dominant hands when they're player one.
  • Skullgirls has a few cases of this.
    • Parasoul has her weapon always in the hand closest to the opponent while she's facing the screen, as well as her Peek-a-Bangs changing which eye it covers. This one isn't as bad as the other examples as she has specific animations of her changing hands and hair whenever the opponent crosses over her.
    • Valentine is a little more on the weird side in comparison, as she has an eyepatch, making her issue similar to Sagat mentioned above. In addition, the handle of her saw somehow magically flips sides while still stored inside her fanny pack.
    • Squigly is the most absurd example in the game. Not only is she also missing an eye that she covers with Peek-a-Bangs, she also has an arm that's completely decayed to the bone, and has her parasite Leviathan come out of one of her two Girlish Pigtails, and all of the above flips sides sides depending on where she's facing. Ironically, some concept art had her averting this trope, with everything on one side, hinting that she might have been created for the sole reason of averting this trope...and yet it's played straight anyway.
    • This is partially explained - during Squigly's "turning around" animation, Leviathan withdraws into her head and pops out on the opposite side. There's no such justification for her skeleton arm and the remaining pigtail (the one that didn't fall off), though.
  • Played straight in Guilty Gear Xrd despite the fact that the game uses 3D polygons instead of sprites. When characters change sides, their entire model flips.

    Film 
  • Live action version of sorts: In the third Harry Potter film, there's a visual gag in which the camera flies "through" a mirror and "into" the scene being reflected. This causes the scene to become a mirror image with Harry's scar on the wrong side of his forehead.
  • The animated film Astro Boy was an interesting case. In the manga, Astro Boy's asymmetrical hair spikes face the same way no matter which way he faces. The film was CGI, meaning Astro Boy needed a 3-Dimensional model. This left them with the problem of his hair looking awkward or even backwards when viewing him from the wrong side. They solved this by giving Astro Boy multiple models with his hair on either sides, and switched them between cuts if necessary.
  • In Wreck-It Ralph, classic video game hero Fix-It Felix, Jr. is a straight example in that his hammer switches hands whenever he turns around, but Ralph averts this to keep the single suspender strap of his overalls on his right shoulder at all times. However, official Defictionalizations of their game leave out many frames of animation and substitute mirrorings of other frames, which shifts the strap onto Ralph's left shoulder in some poses. Stock 3D renders of the characters are also reversed sometimes, though in Felix's case, his name badge is flipped back into its correct place.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Unreal Tournament 2004 gives the option for players to have their guns appear in the lower right (standard), center, or left of the HUD. Left-handed guns are mirror images of the standard view—which wouldn't be noticeable except that some of the guns have serial numbers on them, which are backwards on the left-handed versions.
  • Team Fortress 2 is guilty of this, as well, in terms of the quality of left-handed viewmodels. Most weapons don't have text on them, but those that do are reversed, as this video of a ЯƎϤϤAϨ-OЯTϽƎ˩Ǝ illustrates.
    • Demoman's icon placed next to his health bar has his eyepatch over his left eye, when it's supposed to be his right eye.
  • Serious Sam does this for some weapons, too: text on the laser gun, for example, reads "XL-2" on the left side and "S-˩X" on the right.
  • Counter-Strike counts; the original designer of the gun models was left-handed and as such modeled the weapons being used left-handed - and, to save the mostly right-handed playerbase from being disoriented by this, mirrored the models rather than making separate right-handed models for them. This results in a number of anomalies in the models, such as ejection ports on the left side of multiple guns throwing spent brass into the player's face; however, some weapons were explicitly modeled to be used right-handed, such as the Source version of the MP5.

    Massively Multiplayer Online RPG 
  • In MapleStory, every piece of equipment will follow this trope.
    • Also happens in the suspiciously similar MMORPG La Tale.
  • Ragnarok Online has this with its 2D sprites, though some headgears are not flipped/mirrored(Such as the ribbon).
  • AdventureQuest Worlds, being a 2D MMO, also follows this trope.

    Platformers 
  • Drawn to Life makes an interesting case of this. It's played straight in the Rapo of Heather, who has a face that's half yellow and half black (think like Two-Face), yet inexplicably, when she turns to either side, you always see the yellow side. However, since the player makes the player sprite himself, whether it uses this trope or not is up to him or her.
  • Mega Man (Classic) switches hands with his gun depending on which way he faces, even while charging.
    • An upgrade in Mega Man X2 and Mega Man X3 took this to its logical conclusion, and let you charge both arms simultaneously.
    • Note that the original Mega Man, in one cutscene, did in fact fire charged shots from both arms, with Big Bad Dr. Wily displaying a major Oh Crap expression at the sight.
      • Interestingly enough, this is referenced in Super Adventure Rockman, where Rock uses the twin Mega Busters to defeat the Big Bad.
    • This animation error carries over to X's knock-off Expys, Pantheons. They have arm cannons on one hand, but it always gets switched every time they change direction.
    • This was actually lampshaded in Bob and George. George, who is a recolored Mega Man, has to wear an eye patch and realizes that the thing changes what eye it's on depending on the direction he's facing (Stupid sprite comic).
    • This is sort of handwaved in Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age Of Heroes. Apparently he can turn both of his hands into busters. Also somewhat handwaved by Roll, who pulls out a buster and attaches it to her arm.
    • Somewhat averted with the games bosses, as bosses with Arm Cannons will usually have two.
  • Cave Story plays this straight and averts it.
    • Played straight: The main character Quote always holds the current weapon in his left hand when facing right, and visa versa.
    • Averted: Ballos has his white eye when facing left and red eye when facing right.
  • In Klonoa's side-scrolling platformer games for the GBA, the Pac-Man logo on his hat changes sides. This is made more obvious by story scenes and some of his front and rear sprites showing that it only appears on one side.
  • In The Lost Vikings II, Baleog's robotic arm would switch arms depending on which way he was facing. A bit more obvious when climbing ladders.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the Crawl badniks always have a shield on whichever arm is closest to the screen. Sonic the Hedgehog 4 actually animates them switching the shield from one arm to the other when they turn around.
    • Sonic & Knuckles has Tails' plane reading SONIC in reverse during the ending, where it is flying left after dropping the Master Emerald off at the Floating Island for Knuckles.
  • Super Paper Mario does this; some examples are: Count Bleck (watch his monocle) and Dimentio (his masks colors switch when he faces different directions). Justified in that they literally are two-dimensional entities that literally flip over when they turn around.
    • Luigi and Mr. L are noticeable aversions: Luigi's insignia always faces the correct way; Mr. L's is always backward.
    • Scribblenauts does this, as well; the rally car inexplicably named "GEORGE" has a 5 on it, which is reversed when facing left.
  • Rare 3D platformer game example: Rosalina from Super Mario Galaxy normally has her Peeka Bangs cover the right side of her face, but from certain angles, her bangs will cover the left side of her face instead.
  • Happens to Stinkoman in Stinkoman 20X6 whenever he's wearing the stone fist he got from defeating Stlunko while he's still in Level 4.
  • The GBA Crash Bandicoot titles do this. The final boss of the first game has a metal helmet over half his face, which switches if you somehow get past him. The second-to-last boss of the second has a whacking great projectile claw on one arm and is designed to face both ways in his battle routine, but does this anyway.

    Puzzle Game 
  • The most egregious example in The Lost Vikings would be Baleog's bionic arm in the second game. However, the first game has a curiosity: Baleog's character portrait (which faces right) shows his sword in the opposite arm from his right-facing sprites.
  • In Ace Attorney Investigations, the front-on sprites used in the Phoenix/Apollo arcs are changed to sprites seen from the side (as if conversing with each other). This results in Franziska's mole and jacket buttons changing sides. Gumshoe's band-aid, Kay's scarf, Calisto Yew's jacket... the list goes on.

    Racing Game 
  • Mario Kart 64 does this with Luigi. The "L" on Luigi's cap in his avatar after the race is over gets mirrored when the game shows what place everyone came in.
  • In the Amiga version of Outrun the driver and passenger swap seats when turning right. Oddly the number plate on the car doesn't flip over.
    • The original arcade Outrun kept the car occupants on the right sides but the horse hood ornament was always flipping.
  • In Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, the spinning record symbol on the back of Beat's shirt is facing the wrong direction. In the game he's from, the record is spinning to the right, but here, it's spinning to the left.

    Simulation Game 
  • Due to its Isometric Projection, SimCity 2000 takes this trope to the next dimension. Though each building in the game has only one sprite, there are four different viewing angles. This is made especially glaring as most of the buildings are obviously asymmetrical yet appear exactly the same when viewed from the north or south. When viewed from the east or west, the sprites are simply mirrored.
  • Whoever designed the main characters in Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar did not think about how they would be affected by this trope. They have a feather that they wear on one side of their hat, and a small bag they carry on one side of their body, both of which constantly switch places as they change direction.

    Strategy Game 
  • Really obvious in the Super Robot Wars Original Generation games with the Alt Eisen. In the Rampage Ghost attacks in the second game, the autocannon and revolver stake will magically switch places halfway through the attack, in the case of the stronger variation you actually get to see the change as it happens onscreen. Also in a scripted event midway through the first game you see Kyosuke say that the left arm is unusable before proceeding to use an attack which uses a weapon usually on the right arm, but as he's an enemy for that mission it appears on the left.
  • The Final Fantasy Tactics series uses this and you can see it when a unit uses a weapon. They will use the weapons in either hand, similar to Link from the Zelda games.
  • Used in the Heroes of Might and Magic games until HoMM IV, which averted it. The walking dead from III is a particularly noteworthy example; it's a zombie with one of its arms rotted away, and can switch which of its arms is missing based on the direction its facing.
  • Wookiee aircraft from Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, for whatever reason, have engine pods hanging off one side, but not the other. Which side, ehm, depends. Every other non-infantry unit (and most of the infantry, for that matter) are symmetrical, though, so they manage to avoid this.
  • In WarCraft: Orcs and Humans and Warcraft II , the units are mirrored when they look from left to right. Massively obvious is the Elven Destroyer, whose sails get switched around.
    • Also happens in Starcraft, though it's only obvious with the Terran Marine and Ghost units (and the Hero Units based off them), where their weapons will inexplicably change hands.
  • Battle for Wesnoth's sprites have this a lot, due to having different weapons in each hand for the most part.
  • Nippon Ichi games have this for all characters.
  • Played straight in Vandal Hearts, which has sprite characters in 3D environments. Pretty noticeable seeing as no model is symmetrical

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Since the ponies are made of Flash objects, they—or parts of them—often appear mirrored. It's more complicated than a simple flip, though. The ponies seem to have a "good side" that, in nearly every shot, starts out facing the camera. When a pony turns around while visible in a shot, all of her features remain left-right consistent, and the other side shows—unless they turn around very quickly, in which case the Flash object gets flipped, and the "good side" stays to the fore.
    • This is especially prominent in the case of Fluttershy and Rarity, whose manes can obscure their faces. They always begin every shot with their bangs out of their faces, whether facing right or left, except when the shot calls for Fluttershy to look extra shy or Rarity to look worried or depressed.
    • Around 30% of shots with Rainbow Dash in them show her mane's colors in the wrong order. Generally speaking, the red stripe is on her right, but the mistakes have no discernible pattern.
    • In It's About Time, Twilight's eyepatch frequently changes sides, though it spends the majority of time on her right eye.
    • Averted in Gameloft's mobile device game where the 3D models were used instead.
  • The Problem Solverz, another Flash-animated show, is quite obvious about this. Sometimes it isn't too noticeable, as most of the characters have symmetrical appearances, but it just looks weird when a question mark on their shirt is backwards.
  • On The Amazing World of Gumball (partially flash-made), this happens to Gumball's whiskers (he always has three on one side and two on the other, but they often flip sides) and Carrie's asymmetrical Peek-a-Bangs.
  • The original Mickey Mouse cartoons had a strange feature where Mickey's ears would always face the front, no matter which way his body was facing. This has since become such an iconic part of Mickey's character design that his 3D model is meticulously animated to maintain the same orientation.

    Western RPG 
  • The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall allows your character to switch between a weapon in his left hand and one in his right hand, even switch hands while fighting completely unarmed. Despite this difference, the animation for your chosen weapon hand always appears on the right side of the screen.
  • In Marvel Avengers Alliance this applies to every sprite and dialogue picture except The Incredible Hulk's World War Hulk armor, where the metal guard is correctly on his left arm even when the sprite is facing right.
  • In Baldur's Gate the characters always hold their off hand closer to their screen than their main hand, leading to characters changing from right- to left-handed depending on your direction.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • In Tomorrows Nobodies, Ben’s heterochromia occasionally switches eyes due to the nature of flash animation.
  • In the Flash series TV Tome Adventures, Zetto's character has one robotic arm, and it switches sides when he turns around.
  • Many of the characters in Happy Tree Friends have aspects that switch from side to side due to the image being flipped. For instance, Lumpy has one inverted antler; Russell has an eyepatch and hook hand; and Nutty has a lazy eye. All of them tend to switch from side to side, repeatedly within the same episode even.
  • This happens occasionally on Homestar Runner. In the Cheat Commandos shorts, the Blue Laser Commander's eyepatch will switch sides every time he turns around, as a parody of the old GI Joe-style animation it's based on.
  • The avatar sprites on Gaia Online do this often. It's very noticeable if your avatar is holding an object in one hand, or is wearing something asymmetrical.
  • Spoofed in the final battle of The New Adventures of Captain S.
  • Played straight with the tears on the characters' clothes in DarkMatter2525's video Afterlife is Meaningless Without Afterafterlife, but the 66 on one of them stays the same no matter which way he's turned.

Aversions

    Action Adventure 
  • Iji averts this wholly and completely. The developer actually used 3D model animation renders to get all of the character graphics (except the giant mecha final boss), both right and left versions, so averting this was geometrically guaranteed.
  • Illusion of Gaia avoids this: Will always wields his flute with his right hand, Freedan uses his sword right-handed, and Shadow slashes with his right arm.
  • Soul Blazer does as well; Blader is exclusively a righty. Even his crabwalking animations are exclusive to each cardinal compass direction.
  • In Cave Story, Ballos' right eye is always red while his left eye is always white. Malco does fall for this trope, though.
  • While 2D Zelda games usually include this trope, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening has Link carry his shield in the correct hand (his right, since he's left-handed) when he has it equipped but not active, regardless of direction faced. When blocking with it, he falls under this when facing left or right, but up or down has the shield closer to his right side.
  • In the MSX2 Metal Gear games (Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake), Big Boss's eyepatch is always drawn on the right side of his face, regardless of which direction he is facing. Oddly enough, the character illustrations in the Japanese manual of the first game depicts Big Boss wearing an eyepatch on his left eye, which is inconsistent with his in-game sprite.
    • Solid Snake himself and some of the enemy soldiers also have separate sprites when they're facing east or west. However, the original game plays this straight when Snake is unarmed (this was corrected in Metal Gear 2).
  • From Metroid II: Return of Samus onwards, Samus has different set of sprites depending on which direction she's facing, with a short animation of her pivoting in place when changing directions. Sprites for facing the other direction existed in the first game's data, but went unused for whatever reason.
  • Averted in La-Mulana by a single whip frame, and also when he's coming down from a jump (he holds his hat in place with his left hand regardless of which direction he's facing). Other than that, his sprite is quite ambidextrous. The remake, for the most part, fixes this by apparently making him actually ambidextrous: he uses main weapons left-handed and subweapons right-handed. The sprite where he faces the screen to hold something aloft always has him holding the item in his right hand, which can look a little awkward in the transition from facing sideways.

    Action Game 
  • Two-Face, in the Batman Forever Beat 'em Up for the Sega Genesis/Megadrive, possesses not only separate sprites but entirely different movesets depending on which way he's facing, as a nod to his dual nature.
  • The main concept of Silhouette Mirage is an aversion of this trope, as main character Shyna is one of few beings in the game who is half Silhouette and half Mirage - literally, being split down the middle with one attribute on each side. Since she generally faces left or right during the game, only one half is seen at a time, and the visible half determines the affinity of her attacks. Sprite mirroring is still used, since she has the ability to swap her Mirage and Silhouette sides in order to use their attacks in opposite directions.
  • In Wolfenstein 3D, all the regular enemies have all eight views stored and used for all movement poses. Some later ports of the game also avert this by storing just one view, making enemies always face the player.
  • Partially averted in Doom and Doom 2. Some enemies store all eight views, while others (including human players in deathmatch or co-op) only store the minimal five.
  • Marathon has this all over, which leads to confusion about which freaking hand the guy's pistol/shotgun is in.
    • The correct answer is both.
  • In the SNES Jurassic Park game, all eight views of Grant depict him holding his weapon on his right side.
  • In the Hokuto no Ken 2 game for the Mega Drive, Kenshiro wears bandages around his left arm and an armband on his right. The bandages and armband are drawn accordingly based on the direction Kenshiro is facing. Note that this was changed in the game's overseas version of Last Battle, where Aarzak wears bandages on both of his arms.

    Eastern RPG 
  • Averted in Pokémon. When viewing the status of the Pokemon in your party or your PC, or looking at them in the Pokedex most asymmetrical Pokemon like Absol or Roselia aren't flipped like symmetrical ones are. However, even though the bubble pattern on Azumarill's stomach isn't symmetrical, it still gets flipped.
    • And in the first Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games, the Absol that joins you is the only one to have two different portraits.
      • In Time/Darkness/Sky, Darkrai also has two different portraits.
    • But in D/P/PT, (at least) when running or riding your bike, the part of your scarf that hangs off your neck switches sides depending on whether you're going east or west. And yes, it is supposed to be on only one side, as you can see by going north or south.
    • HeartGold and SoulSilver have a mechanic where your lead Pokemon follows you around throughout the game. Asymmetrical Pokemon get different "walking west" and "walking east" sprites. Bizarrely, they did that for the Pokemon but STILL not for the human characters.
    • Pokémon Black and White averts this with the PC sprites (scarves and such), as well as Ghetsis' (because of his weird...monocle thing).
  • Every Dragon Quest game ever.
    • The Japanese version of the first one (and only the first one) cheated its way out - the characters always face the screen... as in, they move around like pieces in a board game (Dragon Warrior fixed this by giving everyone separate walking sprites for each of the four cardinal directions).
    • This is sometimes used as an odd visual form of Nominal Importance. Important characters will have sprites that switch directions, unimportant NPCs will not.
  • In The Reconstruction, fortians always have their eyepiece covering the correct eye, even in the in-battle portraits (which flip depending on whether the character is the target or attacker). Other non-symmetrical features on other characters are also on the proper side.
  • Roddick's sprite for the Enhanced Remake of Star Ocean: First Departure has this, but instead of wielding the sword in one-hand he's always shown wielding the sword with two hands. (As opposed to just one) Other characters like T'Nique and Welch wield their weapons in two-hands, and Ilia attacks with her fists (Which can be drawn from either side and make sense) but other characters switch hands a lot.
  • Rena's sprite in Star Ocean: The Second Story has the crescent-shaped pin swap sides whenever she turns.
  • Xenogears has ordinarily left/right-swapping 2-D character portraits for all the bilaterally symmetric characters, but both Bart and Sigurd have patches over their eyes. Each character has two different portraits depending on whether they are being viewed from the left or from the right, which is slightly plot-important as their eyepatches are on different eyes from each other and this enables them to both simultaneously use the Fatima Jasper retinal scanner during a Cut Scene. This asymmetry is even lampshaded in one scene, where Bart and Sigurd are noticed to both be wearing their eyepatches on the wrong eye—this is a practical joke on their part.
  • Since Tales Of The Drunken Paladin uses Party in My Pocket, you only see Anebriate, whose character sprite always has his spear in his right hand. It doesn't show up if you're facing left or up.
  • Zappa's portrait in Chrono Cross always keeps the correct eye scarred over... though each world's Zappa is missing a different eye.
  • Averted flawlessly in Yume Nikki. Any asymmetrical features of the protagonist are correctly placed no matter which direction she faces. This is most prominent with the knife effect, because you can even switch which hand holds it.
  • Mother 3 has many enemies who have been cybernatically enhanced, so parts of their faces and bodies are metal. So when they switch directions, their sprite shows either a metal side to them, or a biological side. This is clearest with the Return of Octobot enemies based on EarthBound's'' Octobots, since they're almost all shiny metal on one side and almost all dingy metal on the other.

    Fighting Game 
  • Gill from Street Fighter III was designed specifically to show that the CP System III (the arcade board the game ran on) could be used to avert this problem. The red half of his body always faces to the left of the screen, and the blue half always faces to the right, no matter which direction he turns. His special attacks even change depending on which way he's facing. His secretary, who shows up in his win poses, has an asymmetrical haircut for this reason as well.
    • And then they played it straight with Oro in the same game, as noted above.
  • All of the character models in the Street Fighter EX series were modeled with right-handed stances, and kept this even on the right player's side (their back would face the screen).
  • Dee Jay is another Street Fighter example. His pants read "MAXIMUM"... because that's a symmetrical word when written vertically, so he doesn't need a separate right and left sprite. Originally it was meant to say "MANTIS."
  • Neo Geo Battle Coliseum may not have aversions at the first glance, but should you only look at Ai's baseball cap and it all comes obvious.
    • Ai has an aversion, but not Shiki which was carried directly from SvC Chaos. Well, you know. Her eyes.
  • Jax in Mortal Kombat 3 has two bionic arms instead of the one his designers had wanted, for the reason that it would have taken more work to stop his bionic arm changing sides when he turned around.
    • The same trick is used to solve a similar problem in Mortal Kombat 9. The characters in that game are 3D models, solving the ambidextrous sprite problem. Guest Fighter Freddy Krueger is given two bladed gloves to make his fighting style symmetrical.
    • Drahmin averts this in Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance, with his club-arm always being on his right.
  • In Naruto: Clash of Ninja 2, during the Super Move Portrait Attack, the portrait is slightly different depending on what side you're facing. This is done because the Leaf headbands would look odd when mirrored, and some characters have accessories (like bandages) that are on one of their arms but not the other. The other games just show the characters flashing straight-forward in the middle of the screen.
  • In the first Dragon Ball Z Budokai game, The character's portrait poses in the selection screen were mirrored. However, Only the pose was mirrored. One-sided objects and accessories (like the Saiyans' scouters or that red band on Raditz's left forearm) remained on their proper side.
  • The Soul series completely averts this by having character's backs face the screen. You will see the front or back of your character depending on what player you are.
    • Raphael is, however, left handed solely so he can face the screen when wielding his rapier when selected by player one.
  • Sprite based fighting games based on One Piece, such as Gigant Battle, always make an exception for Sanji, whose hair prominently covers one of his eyes.

    Platformers 
  • Interesting case of aversion in Donkey Kong: King of Swing: Towards the end of the tutorial segment, Cranky Kong turns to the opposite direction and walks away. His sprites are mirrored, of course, but in his turn-around animation, he actually switches his cane to the other hand, making the sprite-flipping seamless.
    • However, it's played straight with K. Rool, whose larger eye switches sides when he turns. This happens in numerous other games in which he's appeared as well.
    • Donkey Kong also does this in Donkey Kong Country Returns. He holds barrels one-handed and switches hands when he turns around.
    • This also happens in Odin Sphere. If you look closely, you can see your character, whoever it may be, switch their weapon in their hands so the sprites can work while mirrored.
    • And the 2D Metal Slug games.
    • Also, in Mega Man Zero 4, whenever Zero turns around while hanging from something by one hand, there's a quick animation of him switching hands.
    • Kirby's Dream Land 3 does this with the Love-Love Stick during the final boss fight.
    • This also happens with the protagonist's gun in the ZX Spectrum game Zub, specifically because this trope annoyed the developers.
    • Scrooge McDuck follows Cranky Kong's example in DuckTales Remastered, putting his cane in his other hand in the new turn-around animation.
  • Commander Keen averts it, even though Keen is mostly symmetrical save for the Computer Wrist and raygun holster he wears. The games do so primarily to keep the lighting consistent — Keen is always lit from the right of the screen.
  • In the Master System game Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap (and its TurboGrafx 16 remake, Dragon's Curse) the main character (Bocke Lee Temjin) goes through a series of transformations, and has no less than six sets of sprites. Each form has separate left- and right-facing sprites for all of Bocke's forms that depicts him holding his sword on his right hand and his shield on his left. The positions of his arms are different facing left and right to keep his shield forward and reach consistent.
    • Only one of Bocke's forms (a fire-spitting Lizardman) has his sprites mirrored.
    • However, Mouse-Man uses the wrong sprites when climbing a left-facing wall or a ceiling.
  • In Alter Aila Genesis, one of the main character's eyes is different from the other, and if you look at the sprites you can see it changes depending on which way he's facing.
  • Kagirinaki Tatakai, a Japanese computer game brought out of obscurity by Hardcore Gaming 101, features multiple technical innovations for the time it was made. Among others, it averts this by featuring separate sprites for facing left or right, in a game stored on cassette tape (meaning there wasn't much memory to work with) and written for the Sharp X1 computer in 1983.
  • Freedom Planet largely plays this straight, but has an aversion with Milla Basset; her outfit is largely symmetrical, but she wears a green bracelet and orange anklet on her right side, while wearing an orange bracelet and green anklet on her left (although given she's almost always slightly facing the camera, her right side is her sprite's left side, and vice versa). Special care was given to ensure this small case of Fashionable Asymmetry is consistent for all her sprites, regardless of which direction she's facing.

    Sports Games 
  • The switch-hitters from Backyard Baseball have mostly mirrored sprites and gimmicks when they come up to bat, but the face is never mirrored.

    Strategy Games 
  • In Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword, Nergal's turban always hides his right eye. No points for guessing what he reveals under it in the last chapter...
    • Idenn of Sword of Seals has heterochromia.
    • Prominent instances of it being played straight:
      • Vaida, with a huge scar over her eye. Concept art shows it on the left eye, but her portrait is flipped repeatedly during conversations.
      • And Priscilla. The portrait and the animations show her wearing a feather behind her left ear, but when she's mirrored it gets flipped too, meaning that in some conversations she appears to be wearing white feathers behind both ears.
      • Most obvious for Canas, who wears a monocle that always flips. His concept art shows it on his right eye.
    • Fire Emblem Awakening has the first complete aversion in the series: The Hero Chrom has two different portraits for facing left and right. Everyone else however plays this straight.
  • Mech Commander has consistent sprites for all Battlemechs. This is no small feat because while many of their designs are symmetrical as the source material dictates, that same source material means several of the 'Mechs are also extremely lopsided. This is most notable with the Hollander, which goes for broke in the Shoulder Cannon department. The cannon is consistently shown to rest in the 'Mech's right shoulder. The game is also notable for remembering which pieces of a 'Mech are destroyed; for instance, if a particular 'Mech's right arm is blown off, the game will permanently remove the right arm from all angles of display for that 'Mech (instead of accidentally removing the left arm by mirroring), including its the sprites for its death animations.

    Western RPG 
  • Averted during one part of Tales Of The Drunken Paladin. The trope is mainly played straight when the main character Anebriate faces left or right because he has no asymmetrical features showing. One area of the game changes his sprite because he dons a winter parka to deal with the harsh cold weather. During this part, he carries his spear with him, and it stays in his right hand regardless of facing up, down, left, or right.

    Non-Video Game Examples 
  • Despite the examples above where the trope is lampshaded and exploited, it's also averted in Homestuck on this page(Warning: very large Flash animation!). The character sprites are not only asymmetric, but also are also different depending on whether they're facing left or right.note 
  • An Older Than the NES example; Li'l Abner had an odd design quirk where the part in his hair always faces the viewer, no matter which direction Abner is facing. When asked “Which side does Abner part his hair on?," creator Al Capp answered, “Both.”
  • In Garfield, it's been repeatedly shown that Odie has a spot on both sides of his body.


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