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- The Legend of Zelda:
- The first game features the Raft item, which is used to reach a pair of island locations. Regardless of which quest you're playing, the next dungeon in the listed order after the one that holds the raft is located on one of those islands.
- In Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, a raft in the third dungeon lets players use a single dock to travel to a corresponding dock on the other half of Hyrule, granting access to the other four dungeons. Despite the difficulty of getting it, this is the item's only use.
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, which is set in a Hyrule that has long since been flooded and has turned into the Great Sea. Played straight at the beginning of the game, where the King of Red Lions won't let you board until circumstances are met (getting a sail, getting the pearls), but after that, you're free to go where ever you want (except where the King of Red Lions says you can't).
- In Takeshi's Challenge, you have to buy a ticket for a plane trip. If you don't get some things right before boarding the plane, the plane will explode in mid-air.
- The Monkey Island series uses this trope often, unsurprisingly as it is a pirate series set in the Caribbean. In each game the player has to look for a ship at some point in order to leave the first island.
- The Longest Journey has a boat that the player character has to take over the sea. Naturally, it sinks before you reach your destination, but this time it's all because of you (and it turns out to be a good thing eventually, for you anyway).
- The first sequel in the Leisure Suit Larry series, Leisure Suit Larry goes Looking For Love (In Several Wrong Places), involves Larry winning an oodle of cash and a luxury cruise for two in the first ten minutes of gameplay, and the story proper continues as soon as Larry gets on the boat. Of course, getting on the boat serves as one of the first bottlenecks in the game, seeing as you need the Grotesque Gulp, the sunscreen and the swimsuit to progress later on, and you can't go back and get them after you get on the boat.
- Subverted in King's Quest VI: Due to the Evil Chancellor's machinations, the ferry has ceased to operate. The reason for Alexander to board it anyway is to hear the unemployed ferryman tell him of a magic map that can take him between the islands.
First Person Shooter
- Every major mission in Deus Ex required to you take a boat or a helicopter to get to the next one. There is a point where if you don't do an event, your helicopter blows up. However, it's a moot point by that time, as you're already at the final area. It really just depends on how much you like the pilot, and how much you wanna hear some hilariously poorly acted dialog. Saying "A bomb." in a monotone voice was one of the Deus Ex fan favourites.
- An interesting note about piracy: The way the boat/helicopter worked required to have a player finish saying a line of dialog before the trigger happened. However, pirated copies often had unimportant audio (and sometimes, all audio) removed from the game to lower the overall file size for the slower connections of the day, causing pirates to be in an unwinnable situation. Obviously, dialog that never started can never finish. With cheating, the game could be finished, but not very enjoyably, as this affected all the Infolink conversations, making it very hard to know what you're supposed to be doing.
- Despite being a straight-up FPS unlike the above, the elevators in First Encounter Assault Recon bear a striking resemblance to this trope. When any elevator is both powered up and not chock full of hostiles, it will inevitably be the only way to progress. In at least one instance the player must advance past and then backtrack to the elevators after accomplishing a poor excuse for a Fetch Quest. The elevators never take you where you need to go. Most of them shut down partway through, much like a ship that sinks with the player on it. Another stops at each floor to let the Replica shoot at you, reminiscent of the Golden Sun example. The only elevator ride with no complications drops you off about 0.2 seconds too late to stop a very important civilian NPC from driving away without you.
- Borderlands 2's introductory area is on an arctic island. One of your first major missions involves defeating the local bandits so you can gain access to a boat that takes you to the mainland.
- Civilization is a 4X example. On the standard maps, you'll meet some of the other civilizations on your continent; you'll need to learn how to build ocean crossing units to meet the rest (and take their land).
- The Europa Universalis also doe this, as you'll need transport ships to ferry your armies to islands and other continents, as well as faraway countries (it's a lot faster and more convenient than having to slog it on foot through a bunch of foreign provinces).
- A lone boat can be found on a riverbank in the text-based The Hobbit game. As soon as Bilbo gets into it, it'll start moving, even if Thorin or Gandalf has used that turn to climb back out.
- RuneScape has quite a few fixed boat routes: Al-Kharid or Taverley to Daemonheim. Port Sarim to Karamja, Entrana, or the Void Knight Outpost.* Port Phasmatys to Braindeath Island, Dragontooth Island, or Mos Le'Harmless. And so on.
- World of Warcraft has many boats for cross continental travel — woe the traveller with low RAM or a shaky internet connection, though, because the loading screens that result often leave the player stuck on the boat, unable to get off at their destination.
- Another amusing bug would cause the character to spawn into the zone after the boat had moved on, either dumping into the ocean thousands of yards offshore or, with the Horde airships, dropping you from a perilous height.
- During a period in 2005 when bugs were causing the boats to spawn improperly, Blizzard removed them from the game and replaced them with "Captain Placeholder", an NPC who teleported players between continents on request.
- Right around launch time in 2004, there was yet another boat/zeppelin bug in which the transfer of player characters to the other world server (usually accomplished via boat or zeppelin) would fail due to overpopulation. When this happened, the boat or zep would just disappear out from under your character, plopping you down in some very hospitable fatigue-inducing waters.
- Although the expansion world of Outland goes by completely without ships. In fact, one can avoid the ships on the old world entirely with access to the capital city, which has teleporters to every of the eight capitals (you can't go to the capitals of the opposite faction, of course). Burning Crusade did see the addition of one new boat, which travels from the Draenei starting islands to the mainland of Kalimdor so Draenei players can get out into the rest of the world and off their conspicuously-separate world server.
- The second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, adds new boats and zeppelins to transport players to the new continent of Northrend. An entire new harbor area was even added to Stormwind to facilitate this (the Horde just got new zeppelin towers). In addition, former boat routes were changed so Night Elf players could travel straight from Auberdine to Stormwind without having to trek through the Wetlands (finally).
- Ragnarok Online has airships that leave at specific times and travel around the world in a loop.
- MapleStory has airships as well. One of them is occasionally attacked by a high level boss (that low level characters can avoid by simply staying inside the ship). The addition of the Aqua Road allows the especially cheap players to swim across the oceannote rather than take a specific airship.
- The main way to get around the Rogue Isles in City of Villains is by ferry. A few zones in City of Heroes are accessed mainly by boat as well.
- The Elder Scrolls Online has a few islands, nicknamed the "starter" because that's where the players would start after the tutorial, and they were unable to leave until they completed the island's main quest and were given the option to be ferried to the mainland. This was changed during beta due to players getting bored with being contained to such a small area for so long; they now start in the first main city on the mainland for each alliance, and now those islands can be accessed at any time, by speaking to a boatswain.
- Each class in Star Wars: The Old Republic obtains a ship of their own after completing their origin world and their faction's capital world. The Smuggler is especially notable in that they start the game on their ship — only for it to be stolen in the first class mission.
- Spyro the Dragon games had transports that took you between worlds (and involved Loads and Loads of Loading) but you often couldn't get on them unless you'd done something (rescued a certain amount of Dragons/Dragon Eggs, had a certain amount of Gems, defeated a boss, etc.)
- Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! uses Funky Kong's vehicles for this. Appropriately for this trope, you start with a motorboat that can only take you to the game's first continent. By beating various bosses you can gain parts that Funky can use to build the next vehicle that you need to progress, including a hovercraft, a jet ski, and when you're close to 100% Completion, a helicopter.
Real Time Strategy
- "Island maps" are fairly common in RTS games that include sea and/or air travel. By forcing the player to tech up to the point of transports before finding and engaging each other, they serve as a barrier to early-game rushes and encourage longer, more expansive matches.
- The demo campaign in Warcraft III involves Thrall taking some orcs and getting on a boat, promptly crashing it on an island and recruiting a tribe of trolls there before being chased off the sinking island. Thrall fixes his boats, and sails to the continent of Kalimdor, which he crashes into. Orcs don't seem to be big on sailing.
- The tutorial campaign in the released version of the game consists of Thrall breaking his allies out of a human prison and stealing their boats... which segues directly into the above.
Role Playing Game
- Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords has four space ships with the player onboard end up being gunned down and crashing. One of them is the Global Airship, which actually crashes twice throughout the game.
- Some Final Fantasy games give you control of the boat, and some don't. They all have one at one point or another, though.
- Final Fantasy IV gives us an example of the boat that never gets to its destination.
- Final Fantasy VI has ferries that serve as boats. In the Updated Re-release for the GBA, you fight a Bonus Boss on the ferry route in the World of Ruin if certain conditions are met.
- Final Fantasy VII:
- The first boat is an example of a boat that always gets there, doesn't represent a Point of No Return because you can literally get back on it the second you get off it, and becomes entirely worthless but still present by the halfway point of the game. And actually getting back on the boat is necessary to get Aeris' last limit break, at least while she's still alive.
- The next, a broken-down seaplane called the Tiny Bronco, is sort of a midway point between the Boat and a Global Airship. Although you can, with some difficulty, circumnavigate the globe with it, its flight capability is broken making it good for sea travel only, and it can only dock on beaches and thus grants access to only a handful of places you couldn't already go.
- Final Fantasy VIII has you get on a boat early on to do one dungeon, and then you get right back on it to go home. You actually travel internationally regularly via train.
- Final Fantasy IX has a boat where nothing extraordinary happens. It acts just like an airship, only confined to water. In fact it is retrofitted into the party's first Global Airship because of how reliable it is. From there it survives all the way to the end of the game (even after your party replaces it with another Cool Ship). The trope is initially subverted when the party leaves the first continent originally using underground tunnels. They don't Get on the Boat itself until the 3rd disc.
- The boat in question still cleverly provides broken bridges even without sinking, because the party can only get off it on low, smooth coast areas, thus preventing the player from accessing the Forgotten continent at all. The first airship is a boat too, in a sense, as it can only land on grassy areas.
- Final Fantasy XI features boats that travel between the game's continents. These boats are sometimes attacked by powerful sea monsters. Hilarity Ensues for low-level players who are just trying to get from point A to point B.
- One exception is Final Fantasy XII, which doesn't have the party boarding any sea-faring vessels at all because the game is contained entirely to a single body of land. There are a couple air-ships which fill a similar role plot-wise, but not exactly.
- Final Fantasy X had two boats; both of them got to their destination, you explored the inside of the boats instead of having control over them, you couldn't get back on because of the game's linearity, and while the first one was attacked by Sin, the second one was uneventful.
- Final Fantasy V has two as well: one is the pirate ship that Faris uses, which you lose fairly early on. Later there's the fire-powered ship, which is your main mode of transport until you get the Global Airship.
- You have control of the boat in Breath of Fire III as well.
- Vandal Hearts 2 has this without the boat. The hero, in fact, flings himself through a closed window into the water.
- Romancing SaGa plays with this during Albert's opening quest, you have to take the boat to go to Rosalia from the Bafal Empire but during the trip a storm hits the boat and throws Albert into Valhalland (Southern Frigid end of Mardias). The reason the ship was hit by the storm was because the package a man was carrying on the ship was a Nymph statue stolen from one of Yucomb's temples, more or less saying, Yucomb was pissed off. This only comes into context if one does the Nymph statues quest, learned about the statue's origins and then plays Albert's scenario. Also later on If you completed the First mummy quest, when you leave the port on the same boat with the merchant selling the corpse on to Melvir, the Mummy will come back to life that night and wreck havoc on the passengers of that boat, failing to inform them makes the fight with the mummy harder since every victim it attacks turns them into the undead, said merchant is the first to die though so you have to fight one other zombie regardless
- Lunar: The Silver Star: Alex and his friends Get on the Boat to Meribia after acquiring a sea chart for a captain who lost it to a reclusive witch. In the original game, Luna doesn't join Alex on the boat, but she does in the remake Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete.
- Done in every game in the Dragon Quest series, starting with Dragon Quest II. In the first game, the kingdom of Alefgard was completely surrounded by water. This subversion is transparently justified in that the DragonLord's castle is within seeing distance of your own. You just have to do a lot of traveling on foot to get there.
- Tales of Phantasia sees the protagonists take a cruise on the boat a few times, the first of which gets disrupted when Dhaos manages to turn one of the passengers into his minion.
- Tales of Symphonia had several boats, including normal sailboats, small tubs whose unreliability was a Running Gag, and a land vehicle that was converted to a ship via Magitek. The party's aquaphobic member was none too happy with any of these.
- Tales of Vesperia has the party cross the ocean in a villain's ship the first time. It sinks half way across and you have to get rescued by Flynn. For the next trip they get their own boat, which is eventually upgraded to Global Airship by strapping it to a giant flying whale.
- In Grandia II, the party is required to get on the good ship 50/50. As the world is split by huge crevasses, the sea has a massive waterfall in the middle of it (don't ask how this didn't get filled in the 10,000 years since its creation) and the boat must fly over it. When stating that 50/50 is an odd name for a ship, the owner replies that "that's the odds, sink or swim".
- Wild ARMs 1 had a lengthy Fetch Quest required to convince the merchant ship Sweet Candy to carry you to where you needed to go. This included the female lead pretending to marry the ship's captain to appease the gods of the sea and fighting off the Goldfish Poop Gang. It eventually gets destroyed by a Bonus Boss and is ironically fixed for your use by the Captain's rival.
- Wild ARMs 3 introduced the sandship, a necessity given that the world's "oceans" were really vast expanses of oddly soft sand. It even had its own combat system.
- In the original Baten Kaitos, Kalas and Xehla used commercial ferries to cross between continents until they saved Diadem, after which the King lent them the use of his personal cruiser as thanks. In Baten Kaitos Origins, Verus gives you the high-tech Sfida ship after you begin working for him.
- The main characters of Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade enlist the help of good-hearted pirates to carry them to the Dread Isle of Valor.
- Golden Sun
- The original game had a lengthy arc which consisted of you defending a ship as it crossed a monster-infested sea. Sailors were knocked out during the voyage, and the characters had to make various NPCs take up the oars. A certain combination of NPCs would send you off-course, to Crossbone Isle. At the end of the game, your party finally gets on the Lemurian ship... and the game ends, and when the sequel came around, And Now for Someone Completely Different happens.
- The sequel had two Get on the Boat arcs — the first required you to save Piers, who'd been Wrongly Accused of thievery, so you could use his boat. The second involved upgrading the boat into the Global Airship once you're reunited with the first game's party. What happened to their ship is never explained.
- Dark Dawn gives you a ship, but the explorable area is vastly reduced compared to The Lost Age.
- Occurs late in Fallout 2, where you run a series of quests to get a decommissioned oil tanker, the PMV Valdez, operational again so you can take it to the final area.
- The Fallout 3 DLC Point Lookout has the Duchess Gambit ferry that transports you to the titular location, which takes a month of game time. Unlike the other DLC's where you're locked in until you complete the main quest there, you can travel back anytime if you have the caps.
- Ultima IV is one of the strongest aversions to this trope. Not only can you reach many of the important places in the game without ships, but once the ships appear, acquiring one is a matter of letting one come to shore and winning an easy battle against its crew. Since the pirates spawn continuously, you can keep stealing their ships and build your own private navy, and it is common to jack a ship just to cross a short distance with less hassle. The game essentially treats ocean-going vessels as quick, disposable transportation, the way Grand Theft Auto treats cars. The only requirement to get a ship is to reach level 4, which does not take much time.
- In Ultima IX, you will travel between islands in a ship piloted by the story's love interest. Near the end of the game you also learn to sail the ship yourself.
- This is a staple of the Ys games, though they tend to start with Adol getting on the boat rather than making it a mid-game rite of passage.
- In the first two Paper Mario games. In first this is somewhat subverted as you travel on a
tunawhale rather than a boat, played more straight in the second where the ship gets wrecked, but you get to come back on another one.
- Baldur's Gate 2 has the player take a ship to the magical asylum of Spellhold. On the way back, the player has a choice between taking a portal to the Underdark or taking a ship back to the mainland; the ship, however, will be captured by Githyanki and sunk.
- In Chrono Trigger, there's a ferry service between the first two continents, except you can travel between them by foot anyway. There are no Random Encounters, either, so travel by foot is not nearly as time-consuming as it is in many other games of its time.
- In EarthBound, you can take a ferry which gets ambushed by the Kraken.
- In the Sonic Chronicles RPG, you're frequently hustled onto the (space) ship and on to the next zone upon beating a boss, with the ship usually disabled immediately when you arrive.
- The first three islands in Albion are left this way. Before you can do that you must solve a Murder Mystery, Fetch Quest and Racial Conflict fueled by a Government Conspiracy. The fourth island has a teleporter and a Barrier Maiden who can use it.
- Inverted in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. The game starts as the player is a prisoner on a boat headed to the titular province, once there you get off the boat and it goes away. Smaller boats offer some local transportation as well, but they're more of a Warp Whistle.
- The expansions (and some mods) move closer to this. Tribunal is a non-literal boat (a teleporting service to and from Mournhold) but is the only way there, Bloodmoon suggests you take a ship to the isle of Solstheim but you can swim there if you're patient enough. Province: Cyrodiilnote has the player travelling by ship as the way to get to (and from) the covered area, Skyrim: Home of the Nordsnote has the player go there by teleportation but get back by boat, and while it is theoretically possible to go there by swimming, the currently covered areas are on the far side from Morrowind, with the unimplemented areas between being miles and miles of water.
- While the boat in Pokémon Gold and Silver does get to its destination eventually, you have to fight several trainers and find a gentleman's missing daughter before it will arrive.
- And Mr. Briney's boat serves as Ye Boat for the Hoenn region games (requiring first one Fetch Quest to access the boat at all, and another to get to what should ostensibly be the first destination you could reach had it not railroaded you to the plot).
- Subverted in the original games. You board the S.S. Anne to obtain HM01 (Cut) to clear trees that impede further progress, but the boat doesn't go anywhere until you get off.
- In Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, you have to take the boat run by Roxie's dad to get to Castelia City the first time.
- Common in the Phantasy Star series, although given the sci-fi fantasy setting the "boat" is as likely to be a hovercraft, ground-based tank or sandcrawler that serves effectively the same purpose, although you still get Random Encounters.
- Shining Force II uses a boat fairly early as a point of no return, but the whole town goes with you and resettles on the new continent. After that, you'll have to acquire a raft, a "caravan", and a fancy precursor airship to access the more advanced areas.
- This happens very early in Might and Magic VII, as the Noob Cave (and Justified Tutorial) is an island, and you don't learn teleportation magic until quite a bit later in the game. So, once you've won the scavenger and possibly done the sidequests, you step on the boat and get teleported to the mainland, right in front of your new castle.
- Partially averted in Titan Quest; you do have to get on a boat to reach Egypt, and another to reach China, but once you get there, you can still travel back to the towns on previous continents via the portal system. Not that you'll have much reason to.
- Diablo II plays this the straightest at the end of Act II, where you have to take a ship to travel from Lut Gholein to Kurast — but not until you've reached Tal Rasha's tomb. In a similar fashion, you have to take the caravan from the Rogue Encampment to Lut Gholein itself after killing Andariel in Act I. In both cases, however, you can return if you wish via Waypoints. Diablo III does the same thing for the first three acts, taking the caravans from New Tristram to Caldeum (Act II) and then to Bastion's Keep (Act III). The fourth act has you using the portal Diablo opened up to the High Heavens to go after him. And much like the other game, you also have waypoints from place to place.
- Most mission locations in Dishonored are reached via Samuel Beechworth's riverboat, the Amaranth.
- In The Last Story, Zael, Calista, Yurick and Mirania get on a Gurak boat after fleeing from an invaded Lazulis City.
- In Terranigma, your first voyage from Europe to North America is scripted, but a later quest gives you a ship with which to explore most of the world. After Will invents an airplane, airfields also start popping up in various places, including one previously inaccessible but afterwards important region.
- Subverted in Faria. There are three boats in the game, and even though two of them open up new continents to the player, all of them travel fixed routes.
- Each of the ''Lufia games makes you work for your first boat ride, though you usually get one of your own in time.
- Lufia & The Fortress of Doom requires you to return a lost ship to its owner to get a ride to Lorbenia, after Aguro's ship gets destroyed by monsters.
- Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals has you retrieve a special wood for ship-making before you can get a ride to the next continent—and the Bonus Dungeon.
- The ship to the Lidal Continent in Lufia: The Legend Returns only resumes its schedule once you beat Gades.
- In Lufia: The Ruins of Lore, the heroes have to chase down the captain of a crew of pirates to cross the ocean.
- After Cthulhu in Cthulhu Saves the World finds the cure for the plague in Kingsport, he gets to hitch a ride to Alhazred, a town plagued by a dragon dwelling in the volcano.
- Holy Umbrella has the Pickle Express, technically not a boat but a Cool Train. It first gets attacked by pirates and then swallowed by a whale.
Wide Open Sandbox
Non-video game examples:
Anime and Manga
- Sinbad the Sailor was famous for having a shipwreck almost every time he sailed, but each wreck led to a huge adventure before he could return home.
- The entire plot of Pericles, Prince of Tyre revolves around an improbable number of shipwrecks as characters travel from place to place. While not directly related to Get on the Boat as a Videogame Trope, it shows that the device is still Older Than Steam.
- P.D.Q. Bach's The Abduction of Figaro: At the end of first act of the opera, the protagonists set sail, and immediately their ship is seen sinking in the mother-loving sea.