[[quoteright:256:[[VideoGame/DonkeyKongCountry1 http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/followthemoney2.bmp]]]]
[[caption-width-right:256:Well, that's not suspicious.]]

->''"Where are you getting all this money, Spyro? ...Heh heh... It's not just lying around on the ground, is it?"''
-->-- '''Moneybags,''' ''VideoGame/SpyroYearOfTheDragon''

Most {{Platform Game}}s feature a type of very common [[SelectiveGravity gravity-defying]] pickup item that levitates in the air and populates all the game's stages. They're always small, shiny, and make a catchy sound when you grab them. Additionally, there's always a counter, usually shown on-screen, of how many of these items you've currently picked up. Levels can contain ''hundreds'' of these items just begging you to [[GottaCatchEmAll grab them all]], and you may see ''tens of thousands'' of them over the course of the entire game.

They always look the same whether you're jumping through the Intro Level or the [[TheVeryDefinitelyFinalDungeon Final Castle]], and no explanation is ever offered as to what they're doing floating in the air throughout the whole of the game's world and why hasn't anyone else collected them already. They're just ''there'', and you just ''grab them''. It's just what you do. Also, don't ask [[HammerSpace where your character stores all of them.]]

The name comes from the coins in the ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros'' series, unarguably the most well-known version of this type of pickup. [[FollowTheLeader You might even say the rest of the games ripped them off.]]

Normally, there will be some sort of reward for collecting many of these. The standard reward is a OneUp for [[LawOfOneHundred 100]] of them.

It is common for level designers to use these coins as a guiding hand, drawing paths with them to show you which way to go. Hence, FollowTheMoney. You will undoubtedly find yourself jumping, soaring, and falling through streams of these coins as you traverse the level.

Sometimes, they might tip you off to things that aren't immediately obvious, such as the location of an invisible path or other secret. They also might visually demonstrate just how the heck you're supposed to pull off that tricky jump. Sometimes there are even arrows drawn out of these items to guide you.

Ironically, sometimes these coins are just about the only thing the game can think of to reward you with. Found a secret nook in a wall? Followed that obscure, tricky path of coins into a previously unnoticed "treasure room"? Surprise, it's filled to the brim with -- you guessed it -- more coins! If not, it might contain a OneUp or two (Wait, aren't those what the coins are supposed to be for anyway?)

BeatEmUp and FirstPersonShooter games use something similar on occasion - can't find where to go? Look for enemies, the closest equivalent to money.

The supertrope of the LawOfOneHundred. No relation to discovering secrets by tracing finances; for that, you want ForensicAccounting.


[[folder:Action Adventure]]
* In the first ''VideoGame/HarryPotter'' game for the PC, Harry had to escape from the rampaging troll set loose in the school on Halloween. The route he must follow is extremely dangerous, and includes a staircase with many holes in the floor. Luckily for the player, someone has already traced out the safest path using a trail of Bertie Bott's Every-Flavour Beans (the game's currency), so all he needs to do is dash along, scooping up beans.
* In the ''VideoGame/LegoBatman'' game, a trail of studs can often show you exactly how and where Batman's Glider suit is best used.
** In fact, all the LEGO games do that and sometimes lead to minikits, from whom there are 10 in every level, which give you... MORE STUDS.
** Inverted with the unlockable extra "stud magnet", where money follows you.
* ''VideoGame/RuleOfRose'' has a very cruel version of this, where sometimes trails of health restoring items can lead you to get swarmed by a group of enemies.
* Parodied on [[Radio/GTARadio Chatterbox FM]] in ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIII'', where a caller complains about how video games are teaching children to go around chasing money.

* It could be said that ''VideoGame/PacMan'' uses this Trope, as his pellets were chiefly undefined and were basically just collected like games which made heavy use of this trope in more modern ways (Mario's coins, for example).
* In the ''VideoGame/PacManWorld'' series, certain pellets cause Pac-Man to automatically devour his way across a twisting path of pellets. It's like Follow the Money on autopilot.
* ''VideoGame/{{Glider}}'' has clocks as bonus items, though none of the games keep count (in fact, ''Glider PRO'' allows them to be destroyed by triggers).

[[folder:First Person Shooter]]
* The developer's commentary in ''VideoGame/HalfLife2: Episode 1'' reveals that the designers place health and armor strategically through the more hectic parts of the game so that the player will run in the right direction, if a certain path or jump wouldn't otherwise be obvious.
* ''VideoGame/{{Turok}} 3: Shadow of Oblivion'' had Life Force, floating, rotating yellow diamonds. Collecting 100 of them would actually [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin increase your health]] by 20, but for the most part, they often lead you on the obscure paths forward, including climbing up and walking across the girders of a building under construction to jump onto a rooftop in a small section of city whose focus is on the zombie-ridden streets.
** ''Turok: Evolution'' would use a more subtle version of the trope with small ammo pickups.
* ''VideoGame/{{Doom}}'' uses a variation at one point: a secret area in [=E1M6=] is pointed out by an arrow made up of small armor pickups pointing towards a wall.
* ''VideoGame/SeriousSam'' uses a different variation, where picking up a health pill or armor shard will spawn another one just ahead, continuing for a short while until the player is lead into an ambush.

* In ''VideoGame/LittleBigPlanet'', one can place Score/Prize Bubbles anywhere in Create Mode, so it's possible to go this route. It also works for multipliers-5 score bubbles, prize bubbles, or enemy brains increases the multiplier by one.
* The coins in the ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros'' games. It was subverted in ''VideoGame/LuigisMansion'', though: trails of coins would lead you to traps.
** ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy'' adds Star Bits, but keeps the coins, making it one of the few examples of a game having multiple kinds of this. Coins refill your health meter, while star bits can be used as weapons and chucked at enemies, are the game's currency and give you extra lives if you pick enough of them. Oddly, the first ''Galaxy'' has very few coins around, which looks odd on a Mario game; the sequel has more coins.
** ''VideoGame/SuperMarioWorld'' had this with the standard coins and Yoshi Coins, the latter giving you a OneUp if you found five in a level. Some levels even had more than five, giving you additional lives for each extra one.
** The coins in ''VideoGame/SuperMarioLand2SixGoldenCoins'' certainly performed the main functions of FollowTheMoney, but instead of automatically cashing in for extra lives every time you accumulated 100, you could hold up to 999. A cave near the castle has four wheels within, each of which allows you to trade a different amount of coins for prizes (items or extra lives) which you spin up on the wheel.
** In ''VideoGame/SuperMarioBros2'', the coins (pulled out like vegetables while in Sub-Space) are used for extra turns on the slot machine.
** The coins in ''VideoGame/YoshisIsland'' point out exactly where you need to throw eggs to ricochet them off walls and into bonus items. In addition, some coins are actually disguised red coins, which are needed for HundredPercentCompletion (the others are only used to get extra lives, like normal ''Mario'' coins).
* The rings in the ''Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog'' games. In addition to the typical uses of this trope, these also help Sonic avoid dying in the first place, as enemy attacks normally just make him drop the rings he's carrying. Rings are also used to turn into Super Sonic, provided you have all the Chaos Emeralds.
** Beginning in ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure'', Sonic (and other hedgehogs for some reason) can perform a technique called the Light Dash, in which Sonic would collect a line of rings by automatically flying through them, even if they were in mid-air. This sometimes made literally Following The Money the only way to get to certain areas.
** Also started in ''Sonic Adventure'' were missions where you'd have to collect a certain amount of Rings.
** The Ring Races in ''VideoGame/SonicHeroes'' do this as well.
* The bananas in the ''VideoGame/DonkeyKongCountry'' games. One of the rare situations where the bananas (but not the floating) is explained: in the [[VideoGame/DonkeyKongCountry1 first game]] the bananas were the colossal mess the Kremlings made while trying to steal DK's Banana Hoard and get away with it. In the later games they were dropped by the kidnapped DK to lay a path, making this an InvokedTrope. Throughout the series, Bananas are often used as hints to where the bonus stages are; in some areas, they spell out letters suggesting a specific controller button to press. Chances are if grabbing that banana will be [[ViolationOfCommonSense hazardous to your health]], it may be prepping you for a LeapOfFaith.
* ''VideoGame/DonkeyKong64'' takes this to a new level by having different colors of bananas - one color for each playable character, which can only be collected by the matching character. The bananas end up not only outlining paths, but also indicating which character you have to use for each area.
* Bananas are in ''VideoGame/SuperMonkeyBall'', but it's not necessary to get them to do well, since every stage is a very tightly TimedMission.
* The tings and lums in the ''Franchise/{{Rayman}}'' games.
* Musical notes in the ''VideoGame/BanjoKazooie'' games, though collecting them is justified by certain numbers of notes being needed to open {{Locked Door}}s in ''Banjo-Kazooie'' and acquire necessary moves in ''VideoGame/BanjoTooie''.
* Pearls in the ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendaryStarfy Densetsu no Starfy]]'' games.
* Coins in ''VideoGame/SlyCooperAndTheThieviusRAccoonus''; while they still exist in later games, the move towards a stealth-platformer discarded this trope. Interestingly, the coins have different designs on their faces in each stage.
* Wumpa Fruit in ''Franchise/CrashBandicoot'' would often guide the way through various platforming setpieces and the quickest route through a multi-path level. Certain areas in the original game would only hint at a secret path [[GuideDangIt by leaving some Wumpas floating in mid-air]], implying invisible platforms.
* Gems in the ''Franchise/SpyroTheDragon'' series, which can lead players into more covert areas, whereas much of the game itself is very free-roaming in nature. The origin of the gems is briefly explained in the first game: [[AlliterativeName Gnasty Gnorc]] has turned all the gems into monsters. Guess who has to get them back. Picking up the gems on the floor also presumably prevents further monstrism.
* Used with Precursor Orbs in ''VideoGame/JakAndDaxterThePrecursorLegacy''. The game doesn't have lives, but you trade orbs for power cells.
* Opals in ''VideoGame/TyTheTasmanianTiger''. They changed color depending on the area for the first game, but obstinately stay red in the second and third.
* Dream Stones in ''VideoGame/Klonoa2LunateasVeil'' give you a OneUp when you get 100, but if you collect 150 in one level then you unlock bonus stuffs.
* The frozen bubbles in ''VideoGame/{{Icycle}}'' are just there to guide you and for OneHundredPercentCompletion, though they were apparently the inspiration for the game.
* Diamonds in ''VideoGame/KidChameleon''. Unique in that they gave you unique powers depending on what [[MaskPower mask you were wearing]]. Also unique in that there was a 99-diamond cap, after which point no more could be collected.
* ''VideoGame/ToyStory'' had Tin Stars (as in, the kind of star a sheriff might wear on his vest). There were about 50 of these in each level; collecting 50 would earn an extra life, and about every 100 would earn a Continue.
* In ''Videogame/TeslaTheWeatherMan'', these take the form of parts and raw materials, and collecting enough of them allows Tesla to [[RPGElements research an upgrade]].
* Inverted with ''Streemerz'' on ''VideoGame/{{Action 52}}'', where [[EverythingTryingToKillYou the money kills you]].
* In ''VideoGame/DisneyPrincessEnchantedJourney'', gems serve no purpose other than telling you where to go.
* In ''VideoGame/DisneyPrincessMyFairytaleAdventure'', gems often show you where to go and can also be collected to customize the castle.
* ''VideoGame/KaoTheKangaroo'': The coins in the first and second game. In the latter, it's even pointed out by the ExpositionFairy right before a chase sequence.
* The Brazilian game ''VideoGame/AritanaAndTheHarpysFeather'' uses guaraná scattered through the levels, pointing to places of interest or revealing secrets when collected. The ones in the Spirit World are really just there to confuse you, though.

* In an unusual RPG example, ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'' features mini-games in 100-Acre Wood where you have to guide Sora through some sort of obstacle course. In each case, following the "honey spheres" which line the way is the best way to figure out how to avoid obstacles.
* The collectibles in ''VideoGame/{{Xenoblade}}'' bear similarities to these, appearing as glowing blue orbs that are scattered all over the landscape, occasionally in lines and trails. You get a random item from each one you pick up, which can then be used to fill out a collection page for rewards, given as gifts to party members, traded to townsfolk, or sold for money. It can be a little hard to resist the urge to gather every last one of them. In one instance, they are actually used to provide a clue to a secret area, however. [[spoiler: There's one levitating off the edge of a particular platform in the Mechonis Field that's indicating a spot you can safely jump off at for the purpose of reaching an unique monster far, far below.]]

* In ''[[VideoGame/BackyardSports Backyard Skateboarding]]'', collecting 150 coins on each level unlocks [[CosmeticAward T-shirts]].

[[folder:Third Person Shooter]]
* ''VideoGame/FurFighters'', a third-person shooter for Dreamcast, later the UsefulNotes/PlayStation2, and recently various iOS platforms, had the [[SarcasmMode inventively-named]] Tokens. Little golden pyramids, they both provided health and opened the route to later levels, with each level requiring a certain number to unlock (meaning you sometimes had to replay levels to find Tokens you missed). Since the game's levels were huge, and often partly non-linear, the Tokens often indicated the way you should be headed next.