A video game trope, most often seen in platformer bosses. The enemy will be preparing some sort of attack, and a crosshair or some other target marker will appear on the screen and follow the player around, showing where the attack will land. Sometimes this can make sense when used with "Jaws" First-Person Perspective
, but usually there's no reason for the target marker to be there apart from making the attack easier to avoid. May also manifest as a Laser Sight
. It's one of the Acceptable Breaks from Reality
provided by video games, because an attack that's impossible to know where/when it's coming would be Fake Difficulty
for the player.
A variation of this would be a shadow on the ground
, indicating an object that is going to fall on that spot. This is sometimes the case with enemies that throw rocks or other heavy objects, or ones that jump up and try to land on you from above.
This term may also apply to NPC enemies that seem aware they have been targeted, when they would realistically have no way of knowing they were being aimed at
. Enemies may be target aware if they move or change direction suddenly as the player's crosshair crosses or pauses on them when they were not "watching" the player at the time.
The non Video Game
version is the Bond Gun Barrel
Beat 'em Up
- In Bomberman 64, the mecha boss Cerberus telegraphs its machinegun attack by sending out a laser; when it touches Bomberman, a set of crosshairs flashes around him, and then the boss starts shooting.
- The True Final Boss of Cave Story has a lightning attack preceded by a crosshair to show you where it's going to hit. He also uses a crosshair to indicate where his One-Winged Angel form is going to land.
- In Deadly Creatures, while fighting the shotgun-toting Struggs, a red crosshair marks the spot where he's aiming — when it turns brighter, he's about to fire.
- Quadraxis in Metroid Prime 2 has a variant: The target marker appears on Samus' visor. In Morph Ball form, it shows up as a laser.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, that frog-thing uses the "shadow that tells you where it's going to land" variation. Hopefully, it misses by at least a tad.
- Another boss, Blizzeta, relies on the player using the reflection in the ice floor Link is running on.
- Also done with one of the late game bosses in Wind Waker.
- Also occurs in The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks; during the boss battle with Byrne, purple crosshairs appear on Link right before Byrne launches his claw at him.
- In the tournament stages of the Hiryu No Ken series, a target marker will appear on your fighter to warn you what you need to defend. This also works in reverse: a target will appear on your opponent when you have an opportunity to make a certain attack.
Hack and Slash
- In Section 8: Prejudice, red hemispheres appear on the ground to show the path that the bomber Thorne's called in will attack. The blast radius is bigger than the hemispheres, though.
- In No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, Halfway through her fight, Rank 4 leaps onto a high platform and starts sniping at you. She tracks you with a laser sight, which grows much more opaque just before she fires.
- Tree of Savior: It is very common for bosses to telegraph where they're going to hit with their attacks using red-glowing danger zones and arrow lines. The first bosses fought provide plenty of warning, but as time goes on the grace period shortens, and bosses start forgoing the use of these danger zones entirely.
- World of Warcraft: Many bosses and encounters feature effects that broadcast the locations of attacks in advance. Regularly, bosses create areas that will damage the player. Bad juju, harmful magic, fire pits, and collapsing earth are just some examples of things you need to watch out for. The colloquialism for these areas is "Not standing in the fire."
- Getting hit by an attack that telegraphs itself like this is generally a sign of being Too Dumb to Live (which is appropriate, because the attack will probably kill you).
- In Cataclysm, Blizzard introduced an Achievement called "Stood in the Fire" as an homage to World of Warcraft's reliance on this mechanic in raids and dungeons, however the achievement itself is not an example of this; it is actually for being randomly killed by the expansion's Big Bad out in the world when he carpet-bombs a zone. The Skyship battle in Icecrown Citadel is a better example, as the rockets fired from one ship to another during the fight put target markers on the ground where they'll land.
- The not-quite-not-quite-final boss in Ape Escape fights you with some Jaws camera action.
- The Great Mighty Poo in Conker's Bad Fur Day throws balls of...well, guess. These show shadows on the ground where they will land to allow you to avoid them, since there's no way to see them off the top of the screen.
- The first boss of Crash Twinsanity.
- Some of the bosses in Dynamite Headdy have an arrow with a tone to give the player a hint on how to avoid damage. The first boss that does this uses it in this trope's fashion.
- Done beautifully on Gex: Enter The Gecko like the example above with the final boss, Rez. After a while, the perspective switches to Rez's eyes (while you still control Gex) with Rez firing rockets after he locks on to you.
- General Tor, the final boss of Iji, has at least two attacks which causes blinking crosshairs to appear: A rain of missiles, with the crosshairs appearing with equal spacing all over the rooftop you're fighting on (and then between those an instant later on Hard or his later attacks); and a row of large, instant explosions that trigger once the crosshairs end their "locking on" animation.
- In Intrusion 2 crosshairs indicate where Humongous Mecha boss MACE's fists will land and where his electric field attack will form.
- In one fight, Baron Praxis from Jak II: Renegade uses a Macross Missile Massacre attack that does this.
- Mega Man:
- Mega Man Battle Network uses this very often. The most common form of it is making panels briefly flash yellow to indicate which ones are about to be struck. The crosshair variant is also seen frequently, the various cannon viruses, some Navis (Search Man in particular), and a number of battle chips making use of it. The shadow variant shows up as well and almost always is used as a warning sign for falling rocks.
- Also used as a game mechanic in the later games, where attacks with crosshairs will hit an invisible target or one with Mercy Invincibility.
- Burai from Ryuusei no Rockman 2 takes it a step further. If you lock on to him, he will actually break the targeting cursor.
- Search Man from Mega Man 8.
- Blast Hornet from Mega Man X3 will use this as a Desperation Attack, making bees home in on you. Cyber Peacock from X4 locks onto you before he fires his homing explosive Feather Flechettes.
- Deerburn the Gazelleroid of Mega Man ZX Advent points out the exact location where he plans to do his rocket headbutts and diving kicks. It's supposed that he's a tutorial on attack patterns for newbies to the genre.
- In the arcade game Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters, an attack Wily performs when his health is reduced is a ring of explosions, the location of which is identified by a crosshair. It's about to fire when the crosshairs read "ROCK ON!" (Pun or Japanese Ranguage? You decide!)
- Ratchet & Clank does this a few times, some examples have about thirty missiles, and the target goes from white to red to show how long till they hit. One is easy, but the swarm they use can be tricky if you're also avoiding other attacks.
- At one point you actually see the cross hair through the boss' eyes.
- The battle with Razoff in Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc involves parts where you are locked in a room and forced to hide behind furniture while a giant crosshair of his rifle dominates the screen and follows you.
- In Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, crosshairs appear during the boss fight with Wilbur (a giant memory-eating Sand Worm) to indicate where it will shoot its eye at you.
- The Death Egg Robot from Sonic the Hedgehog 2, seen above, uses this with its jump attack.
- Both of the mecha bosses in the Dark story Sonic Adventure 2 use this with their laser.
- In Vexx, the second fight against the sumo boss equips him with a pair of bracelets that can... control flying rocks, for some reason. (Just run with it.) When he's about to summon from stones from the sky to hit you, a crosshair appears on the ground, telling you to get away.
- Yoshi's Island has this for the final boss's fireball attacks (and small red arrows showing where rocks fall and make holes in the platform).
- Yoshi's Island also had it for a couple minor enemies, such as the baseball dudes that would throw eggs at you.
Shoot 'em Up
- Completely inverted in Contra: Hard Corps. One of the bosses, a Combining Mecha, has a move where a crosshair appears on the floor, and then it fires out a lot of explosives into the air. Seconds later, the explosives land on the entire floor EXCEPT the crosshair. Needless to say, if you were standing/jumping outside the crosshair, prepare to be blown into bits.
- Fraxy has the Remote Blast part. Bonus points for going at 3 different speeds, including instantaneously. If the part is looped, even better.
- Green's Seven Force's Tiger Force in Gunstar Heroes uses these. It either uses a small crosshair, which indicates where it will fire a small beam to, a very large crosshair which indicates where it will fire a large explosive (that covers the entire area of the crosshair), or a dotted line that indicates where it's going to shoot a laser beam.
- Some bosses in the RAY Series use these to telegraph attacks such as Macross Missile Massacres.
- A laser from a Touhou boss is usually announced with a thin white beam you must stay away from.
- On that subject, Most Valuable Vajra, Shou's ridiculously hard spellcard does this. When a circle appears, one of the pairs of lasers is going to move its origin point there! While still rotating. The spellcard is borderline impossible to capture on anything above easy (and even then, it's only capturable on easy because the easy version only has one pair of lasers, not two).
- Inverted in Lotus Land Story, where one of Yuuka's spellcards has a circle show up. That circle is the safe spot; everything else is filled with bullets.
- In Double Spoiler, Satori is crosshair aware, knowing where the crosshair for your photo viewfinder is and avoiding it. Justified in that she's a mind reader.
- During the sniper battle with The End in Metal Gear Solid 3, occasionally there's a short period where you're looking at Snake through The End's scope, just before he fires. This doesn't happen very often, but when it does it's a serious Oh, Crap! moment.
- The weapon of the final boss of Ball Revamped III: Gemini has visible crosshairs that try to target you. If you touch them, the boss immediately shoots you to death.
- In Ultimate Crab Battle, the eponymous crab can at one point fire a laser out of a giant eye. A crosshair appears, telling you where to dodge.
- In Total War: Shogun 2, naval strikes are marked with a flaming arrow. Initially, nearby units ignore the marker, but after a few seconds, they realize what's about to happen and start fleeing in every direction.
- The snipers in Team Fortress 2 use laser sights of their team's color (along with their scopes), so you know whether that crosshair is protecting your exit or pinning you down.
- The normal and rocket sentries in Portal have laser sights as well.
- The cannons on the Egg Fleet in Sonic Heroes have crosshairs that appear on the ground. Apparently the characters can see them too: "Get away from those target markers!"
- One type of Heartless in Kingdom Hearts II has a target marker that looks like a Heartless emblem appear on the ground.
- Donkey Kong Country
- Donkey Kong 64 features a non-boss example in a haunted temple, accompanied by a very creepy voice that growls "GET OUT", and you have ten seconds to do so before the ghost sniper (?) focuses on you and fires a shot.
- The level "Krak Shot Krok" of Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! has you constantly stalked by an offscreen Kremling sniper. The crosshair flashes for about a second before he takes a shot, and it briefly pauses as he actually fires. There's also a bonus level where you play as the sniper and blast enemies, and eventually shoot the coin to collect it.
- Another later level does a variant with lightning. There is a flash of lightning in the sky to indicate where the lightning is going to land on the ground. Which is very necessary, as the lightning anticipates your movements and fights fairly intelligently.
- Donkey Kong Country Returns has a level where you're riding on a rocket barrel and a bunch of pirate crabs take aim at you with a big on-screen crosshair, before firing some kind of anchor-chain projectile that ends up wrecking their own ship.
- The cannon on the Halberd stage in Super Smash Bros. Brawl occasionally tracks one of the players with these.
- A player who assembles the Dragoon gets to aim his instant death attack with a crosshair as everyone else evades. Snake's Final Smash is similar.
- I-No's Megalomania attack in Guilty Gear XX has warning boxes labled 'danger' in the pattern the attack will hit. Of the three versions, blocking still results in tons of damage, and one can only be dodged by double-jumping outside of the danger zone.
- In a game based off The Lost World: Jurassic Park, you play as various dinosaurs and human characters. In one level where you play as a compsognathus, you have to avoid a human hunter trying to shoot you by staying out of the targeting circle.
- That inconspicuous blinking targeting laser for the Terran nuke in Starcraft. The only attack that has both an early warning and a counter. In StarCraft II, the player doing the launching sees the full crosshairs - everyone else just sees the dot.
- The kangaroo Noise in The World Ends with You have target markers to indicate where they'll land.
- In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, the cursor for setting a Tingle Bomb appears on the screen so you'll know where to get away from when he sets it.
- In most of The Legend of Zelda games post-NES, there is a shadow that appears to warn the player of the Wall Master that is about to drop down from above.
- Covenant Elites in Halo appear to be aware of the player's crosshairs, as they can be standing perfectly still with their back to the player, and all of a sudden start moving the second you have a headshot lined up.
- The snipers in Agent Under Fire have some very conspicuous laser sights. You get shot if you happen to cross them.
- In N, the gauss turrets have visible crosshairs that try to follow and target you.
- Dragon Quest Swords for the Wii is played from the first-person perspective, and any ranged or magical attacks thrown by the enemy will show their point of impact on the screen, where you are then supposed to move your shield to block it. In addition, the point of impact's color tells you what type of attack it is: red is blockable, orange is magical, and blue is repellable - if you hit a blue projectile attack just before it would cause damage, you send it back where it came from. Some enemies (read: a lot of enemies) can only be killed by successfully repelling a ranged attack.
- Half-Life 2 has a couple of examples. The snipers have visible laser sights, and at one point the player must bypass an energy weapon which takes time to charge a shot. An expanding pool of light appears where the shot is about to hit, giving an alert player just enough time to avoid it.
- The engine itself supports triggers based on where you look, among other things.
- Pretty much the same thing happens in Unreal II: The Awakening. The Drakk robots will track you with a laser, and then zap whatever is painted by that laser. You better get away before that happens. Of course, the entire laser beam is visible...
- Sometimes in the Berlin levels of Walker, you'd move to a new area with no-one in it, just a flashing crosshair on the ground. That would be the Luftwaffe on a bombing run, then. Best not be underneath. In the Los Angeles level, enemy suicide bombers will run from your crosshair if targeted.
- Freedom Force vs. The 3rd Reich when you're in Cuba and Russian bombers are attacking. A target appears on the ground where the bombs are dropped. Its best to avoid standing in that target.
- The Meteor skill in Diablo II places a flaming bullseye on the ground where the meteor will impact. While this applies both to the monsters' and players' meteors, monsters aren't bright enough to know they should avoid standing on a big flaming target.
- In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3: Uprising, the Allies have an artillery vehicle called the Pacifier FAV. Before shooting its slow-traveling but long-ranged and EXTREMELY explosive shell, it marks the target area with crosshairs. Getting inside the crosshairs may be hazardous to your health.
- R-Type III has an inversion of this trope. In stage 4, a metal melting plant, a crosshair appears at certain points of the stage. You must make an effort to position yourself INSIDE the crosshair◊ or else you will be crushed by a HUGE metal compactor.
- Thunder Force IV (aka Lightening Force) has the Air Raid stage. At various points in the stage, multiple crosshairs will attempt to lock onto your character. If they do, one of the battleships in the background or foreground will fire directly at you.
- Resident Evil 4, if you're aiming at a Ganados head it'll cover their face with its hands or move out of the way. Justified in this case as they can probably see the laser sight shining into their eye.
- Ashley also seems to know whenever you're pointing your gun at her, as she'll duck or move away.
- To justify the Wii version, since it uses a pointer crosshair and not a laser sight, the Ganados can probably see you pointing a gun at their face.
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine features a short passage in which the player has to fight his way through a bunch of mooks while seeing himself through the scope of Nord's sniper rifle. Just a bit later he has to evade Nord's sniper rifle again, this time in the normal third person perspective but with a clearly visible red laser sight showing where the sniper is aiming.
- Max Payne: When sniping enemies who have their backs facing the player said enemies sometimes "hear" the gunshot from the sniper rifle, despite the rifle firing a super-sonic bullet, and turn to engage the player, sometimes avoiding the bullet or shooting Max before dying.
- Hitman 2: Silent Assassin displays a message when a sniper spots you.
- Metal Gear Solid 4: you'll be able to see where a Gekko is aiming if Snake is wearing the Solid Eye.
- In at least the second and third Syphon Filter games, the player receives a warning in the form of screaming red text if an enemy is aiming a headshot at the player character.
- In Final Fantasy IV, the Trap Door enemies in the Sealed Cave will track down a party member in one round, then cast Nth Dimension (formerly Disrupt) on him or her. Then it will move on to the next party member... While this attack can be reflected, you need good anticipation, because the crosshair and spell are two parts of the same action.
- In the Sega Genesis game X-Men 2: Clone Wars, there's a mutant with a jetpack in the background who tries to shoot you during most of the Asteroid M level. You can see his crosshair. He actually does become the level boss at the end, but by then he's in the foreground and he no longer has a visible crosshair.
- In Spider-Man on Game Boy, when climbing buildings, your spidersense tells you when something's about to fall on you.
- Rolling Thunder 3 for Sega Genesis does this to you. If you take too long in a mission before the exit or boss, there will be a sniper that will try to kill you with crosshairs marked. This is averted in the plane hijack level for obvious reasons.
- Time Crisis 2 and its successors have the "Crisis Sightings"—red expanding circles that appear around a bullet about to hit you. When one appears, release the pedal or you will lose one life.
- Crisis Zone has something similar, and accompanies it with a beep. The delay between a sighting and the damage is much shorter than in 2.
- Razing Storm colors the sightings red or blue to indicate which player will take damage, and yellow triangles signify incoming missiles or grenades.
- In one level of Rayman 2: The Great Escape, an out-of-range robot pirate is throwing explosive barrels at you, and a crosshair appears on the ground where one's going to land. You actually need to get the robot to throw a barrel onto a certain breakable section of the ground in order to move forward, which makes the crosshair quite useful for determining whether it's going to land there or not.
- Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions: Part of the first Amazing Spider-Man level is viewed from the sniper scope of Kraven the Hunter.
- One of the Tau Commander units in Dawn of War: Dark Crusade can call in an orbital strike anywhere in a radial area, which manifests itself in a beam of light that grows wider and then pretty much obliterates any forces unlucky enough to be standing there; those units having about, oh, half a second to move as soon as they see the light.
- Speaking of which, the Skyray Missile Gunship places some HUGE crosshairs when it opens fire, although I'm pretty sure they're only visible to the player who ordered it.
- The Imperial Guard can call in Earthshaker artillery strikes, manifesting as a canister emitting red smoke. The command squad's strafing run, however, is not highlighted.
- A bizarre crosshair symbol appears whenever the Force Commander calls in an orbital bombardment (as if the Pillars Of Light appearing weren't a big enough clue).
- Anytime a unit is teleported to the battlefield, the location shows up as five red triangles on the ground. The more reactive players will time it with a Crosshair Aware attack of their own.
- Most bosses in Dawn of War II highlight the ground with a glowing symbol a few seconds before hitting it with a devastating attack.
- The Spitfire class in Dungeon Fighter Online has a skill called "Neil the Sniper" where they take control of an offscreen sniper and use him to fire 3-5 powerful shots.
- In Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures, the escape from Club Obi-Wan at the beginning of "Temple of Doom" has you avoiding crosshairs that try to pelt you with machine gun fire. Luckily, there are plenty of tables and pianos to hide behind.
- Action Doom 2: Urban Brawl does this briefly at the beginning of a sequence where you run across a field, hiding behind hay bales from a sniper hiding in a tree. It's used to notify you about the sniper's presence and position in the first place. After his first shot, though, the game switches back to first-person perspective.
- This is the main disadvantage of flashlights and laser sights in Battlefield 3, though they can be switched off in order to facilitate an ambush.
- Crosshairs indicate where missiles will land during Intrusion 2 's snowboarding stage.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim NPC archers will strafe from side to side to make themselves hard to hit with ranged attacks and NPC mages will leap to avoid ranged attacks ... sometimes even when you're supposedly hidden from them.
- Messiah: A crosshair appears on your person whenever you're targeted by someone with a firearm (much like the crosshair that appears on the people you are targetting.)
- A few champions in League of Legends have abilities that telegraph where they're going to land, such as Veigar's Dark Matter, Xerath's Arcanopulse, Pantheon's ultimate Grand Skyfall, and Caitlyn's ultimate Ace in the Hole (which, for bonus points, uses an actual crosshair over the champion whom she's targeting)
- In Persona 4: Arena, Naoto's One-Hit Kill attack summons several floating, glowing crosshairs onto the screen. If the opponent so much as brushes up against one of these, the attack triggers.
- Hilarious example from BlazBlue. When Kagura goes up against a female fighter (except Rachel, Kokonoe, Makoto or either form of Tsubaki), his match intro shows three crosshairs coming up over the girl in question, followed by a little readout that gives their BWH measurements. He then makes a comment and starts the fight. Check it out.
: "Do you believe in destiny...?" against Nu-13
: "How touchy." against Taokaka
: "Aren't you hungry? How about dinner on me?" against Litchi
: "Now this... is a fine specimen." against Bullet
: "Now, that's... pretty amazing." against Noel
: "If I win, I get to take you to dinner." against Platinum
: "This isn't good." against Aname
: "Not another dude
..." against Nirvava/Ada
: "Is this... legal?"
- Taken to ridiculous extents, crossing with Computer Is a Cheating Bastard and The All-Seeing A.I.. When you respawn from being KO'd in battle, you select your location - seems useful if you want to distance yourself from the fray, right? Wrong. The enemies can see your crosshair before you respawn and will chase you down. It's okay if you're going against Chaos, not so good if it's... anyone else, really.
- In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer, a red target marker appears on the player's radar when an opponent calls a drone strike.
- In Hany on the Road for the PC Engine, the volcano stage has shadows appearing where lava rocks are about to fall.
- Turrets in Space Engineers highlight the targeted component with crosshairs visible to both the target and the turret's ship.
- In The Secret World, whenever an enemy uses a ground-based area of effect attack, the visual cue is an expanding white circle or cone in the targeted area, which 'fires' when it reaches the outer border. Foes which use mortar-based attacks which fill up half the screen in waves are also fairly common, especially amongst bosses.
- The Oracles of Tree of Savior can use Forecast to see danger zones prior to every enemy's attack, allowing them to move out of the way beforehand.
- Final Fantasy XIV also indicates AOE attacks with markers on the ground. Players targeted for certain attacks or mechanics will get a marker floating over their heads. Some bosses in the Heavensward expansion have attacks which mark a character or location with bright orange arrows, indicating the party needs to stack on them to avoid damage (or instant death).
- The enemy snipers in Mass Effect telegraph their shots with a laser beam that stretches between them and their target. Very handy as their shots tend to be very deadly.
- In Star Wars Battlefront (2015), Greedo's lock-on ability has a reticle appear on all enemies in range and ends with Greedo firing his shot at any that don't find cover.