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Cranium Ride
Neuron is a friendly guy,
Use his head to ride up high.

The act of jumping on an enemy's head and riding one, allowing safe passage across environmental hazards, usually floor spikes. It works because the enemy's wearing a pair of Kuribo's Shoes, and you aren't.

The enemy won't even care that you're hitching a ride on its head. It will continue to wander back and forth mindlessly.

Doesn't work on enemies that you can Goomba Stomp, obviously (unless they function as Goomba Springboards). That, and Collision Damage has to be disabled for the top of this specific enemy. Compare and contrast Goomba Springboard.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Action Adventure 
  • I Wanna Be the Guy has a part where you have to ride on a giant 8 bit Link to progress. Unfortunately you're not in the clear yet, because occasionally he'll stab upwards and kill you if you aren't expecting it...
    • More annoyingly, one of these is at the exact point where you're coming down again after jumping over a spike. Gibs ensue.
  • In Dead Rising, the main character Frank West can gain the ability to jump up on a zombie's shoulders and proceed to walk across a crowd of zombies, often allowing him to avoid having to walk through said crowd.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, in order to reach the source of the river that feeds Lake Hylia, Link and Midna must make use of one of the enormous Twilight avians. Once Link has subdued the creature, Midna jumps onto its head and takes control of it to make it fly them past a series of otherwise impassable obstacles.
    • You also have to ride boars at several points to advance. It's just like riding Epona. Until you dash...
  • Metroid games sometimes feature this trope. Super Metroid has creatures called trippers which function as moving platforms. Some (usually the ones that fly over lava pits) will slowly sink when stood on. There's also a large turtle-like creature that will start to bounce around when you stand on it, and can be used to reach an item expansion. Metroid Prime and Prime 2 have enemies that have to be stunned by shooting so that you can use them as platforms. And then there's the Ice Beam, which allows enemies to be frozen temporarily and used as makeshift platforms.
  • In Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, you can turn flying eyeballs into stone or ice and use them as platforms.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum allows you to do this whenever you stun a Titan. While riding on his back Batman can lead him towards other enemies, who will get injured from the dazed Titan stumbling around and flailing his arms. Eventually he'll snap out of it and throw you off.
    • Hitting enough enemies while doing this will also award you the "Freakshow Rodeo" achievement.
  • Featured in Shadow of the Colossus. Although you can technically ride on the head of every colossus, there's one particular one that stands out. He has special stones growing out of his head, and if you hit them, he changes direction. You have to direct him to different platforms in the arena.
    • This game is also the Trope Namer for Colossus Climb, which is basically when this trope gets expanded into a massive platforming stage.
  • One of the Army of Darkness games for the Xbox. Apparently your magical zombie midget sidekick has the power to overide the minds of giants.
  • In the Taz-Mania game for the Sega Genesis, there are ambulatory rocks with angry faces that serve as enemies. Taz can (and must for one level) ride these monsters across hazards such as quicksand. Unlike other examples of this Trope, however, they do mind, and will try to swat Taz off them if he stays up there for too long.
  • Cars can be used like this in Grand Theft Auto. The drivers won't mind, and will drive around as if it were completely normal to have someone on the roof of your car or even on the hood, blocking their view.
  • The only way to get away from Manhattan in Prototype is to somehow jump on the helicopter's tail. As in the above entry, the pilot will not notice you unless you set the alarm off, and eventually will fly away from the island. It's quite useless, as there still is nothing to stand on - well, nothing at all after you leave the skybox. See if it works in the sequel...
  • This happens a lot in the SNES game Smart Ball. Especially since Jerry doesn't usually take damage when sitting on top of enemies. So he can ride on birds to fly across gaps (and in one case in a desert level, a giant flying worm), ride on balloons or bunny heads to reach high places, and at one point in an ice world, ride on a penguin across some spikes. Of course, Jerry can ride practically any enemy (except fireballs and dinosaurs)—these examples are the most useful ones.

    Fighting 

    Platform 
  • In the second level of The Lion King video game, you have to cross a body of water by jumping on the heads of some giraffes. Whether or not the giraffes can be considered enemies probably depends on the player, although their habit of dumping their future king into his watery demise should he stand on their heads too long does seem rather questionable...
  • Super Mario Bros. 2 is one of the first instances. There was a stage where you had to jump on a Shy Guy's head and ride them across some spikes to safety. There was also an area where you had to do the same thing with an enemy vehicle, and another place you had to ride on an enemy projectile across a large body of water.
    • Basically, Goomba Stomp is out and Cranium Ride is in for this game. Standing on top of things and picking them up (or riding them) is your main means of combat in this game. If it's not hot or spiky, you can ride it.
  • Required in a few places with the giant mole enemies of Super Mario World.
    • And in Platform Hell hacks, it's required in many more places to cross lethal pits by repeatedly spin-jumping on a Spiny-kind enemy.
  • In Wario Land 2, you needed to bounce off of enemies to cross spikes in one level and platforms that only enemies could stand on in a later one.
    • In the original Wario Land, you could ride on Thwomps.
  • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island has birds that you had to ride across large gaps. The same game also featured Poochy and Muddy Buddy, who could be ridden across spikes or lava. They were good guys instead of enemies.
    • And the ever-helpful Support Ghost from Sluggy the Unshaven's fort, who makes an appearance in the Yoshi's Island stage of Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
  • Super Mario Bros. 3 features the Parabeetle, a red, winged version of the normal Buzzy Beetles that can be ridden on, though doing so would cause them to also fly up as well as straight ahead. (A Palette Swapped green version appeared in a few Dummied Out levels.)
  • Super Mario 64: In Snowman's Land, Mario can ride across the bridge on the giant penguin's head to avoid being blown off. However, it may or may not work, so the player can also walk beside the penguin as it blocks the wind.
    • You can ride the head of the sea monster in Hazy Maze Cave. In fact, to reach the Secret Level in the back, you need the extra height to jump high enough. And in the DS version, you need to climb up there to get the Wario hat.
  • In New Super Mario Bros. Wii, penguins slide on their stomachs. Their momentum means they can cross gaps Mario and friends can't, so it's useful to jump on their backs. (Sometimes, of course, they can't cross gaps either, in which case that would be a mistake...)
  • Mega Man X 3 also had something similar: dragonfly enemies that you can stand on to reach higher areas. The twist with them, though, is that this only works when you're not firing your weapon; start shooting, and they start shooting, too, making your moving ledge useless.
  • Rayman and Rayman 2: The Great Escape let you ride on some enemies' heads—but only if you've knocked a giant plum onto them first. Otherwise...
  • Cave Story lets you "ride" on nearly any enemy, assuming you can survive Collision Damage.
  • Occasionally the solution to levels in Hyper Lode Runner—this technique's even given the name Robot Rodeo. Made harder by the fact that your character might not move with the robot heads...
  • A Cranium Ride was possible in the Pharoah's Tomb series; you could theoretically ride on top of any monster... but YOU had to keep up, otherwise the monster would move out from under you and you would die.
  • The Commander Keen series features at least two cranium-rideable creatures - the harmless though annoying red Bounder in episode 4 and the somewhat hazardous Gik in episode 6, which Billy can ride, but only when it is upright. If not being ridden, it will jump at Billy and slide upside-down on its shell, with lethal intent. Gik riding allows the player to cross slime puddles easily.
  • In Hammerin' Hero, you have to do this with a mecha to get a Thank-You Letter from it for your storage. This is actually harder than the alternative, though, as you can't move, just ride the mecha as it proceeds forward, and the attacks against it are now aimed directly at you, rather than incidentally in your path — you have to knock them away as they approach.
  • In A Boy and His Blob, dropping the Banana Anvil on the head of both the giant, pacing enemies and the smaller, cannonball-shaped enemies with make the anvil stick. You can then hop on top and use their anvil-adorned heads for safe passage across spikes. But watch out—while the cannonballs can't attack you with the anvil on, the big blobs can...
  • Parasite both justifies this and turns it horrific. When the titular alien abomination jumps on another creature, it pokes its tentacles through that creature's skull and steers it like a vehicle. Jumping off the now mindless, drooling creature makes it explode into Ludicrous Gibs.
  • In Purple, rolling barrels can be jumped on for as long as you like, thus letting you "ride" them. It is necessary to reach one diamond early in the game.
  • With Kirby's Epic Yarn you can do this with almost all of the enemies as very few have collision damage which is very handy for getting to higher platforms. You also ride on a dinosaur's head to get across a strong current river.
  • In Tesla The Weather Man, Tesla can hop on top of shoosters to get a ride across Spikes Of Doom.
  • In Lode Runner, enemies' heads can be walked across, though this is generally not safe if the enemies are moving left or right; they should either be stuck in a pit or falling.

    Puzzle 
  • The NES game Solstice used this as a mechanism to achieve a fair bit of secrets, including the hi-jump boots. Although, you had to first push a box onto the enemy's head, or else you'd die.
    • Solstice had a Spiritual Successor, Altered Space: A 3-D Alien Adventure, which generously provided box-headed robots you could stand on for this purpose.
    • Solstice also had a genuine successor, the SNES sequel, Equinox. Again, you had to push boxes onto the heads of enemies in order to ride them safely. This was more of a genuine tactic rather than a method to find secrets, as you had to do it several times in order to complete the game.

    RPG 
  • Legacy Of The Wizard allowed you to do this, although you continuously took damage while doing so. One of the playable characters, being a monster itself, would not be hurt from riding enemies.
  • In Landstalker, this is an easier way to solve one particular puzzle. You'll still take some damage, but hey.

    Shooter 
  • Alien Hominid does kind of allow this, in that jumping on an MIB's head causes him to run around screaming, right past barriers that stop you but not the enemy. To make things even better, when you're done with the guy, you get to bite off his head.
  • Omega Boost had this in a bonus stage you could unlock. You had to ride on the head of the first incarnation of the Sand Worm and shoot enemies.
  • An interesting (but largely useless) trick in the Halo games was the ability to "surf" on top of Sentinels. This ability had a practical use when it was applied to vehicles or allies. It's easiest to preform the Sentinel version on levels where they are friendly, such as the Arc on Halo 3 (immediately before you open the door for the Marines, but just before the Scarab battle).
  • This is the Jockey's main ability in Left 4 Dead. He jumps on a survivor's head and "rides" it into hazards or away from the group, laughing maniacally all the way. Slightly subverted as the survivor definitely doesn't wander back and forth mindlessly- the Jockey controls them instead.


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