Nyarko: If we had a vehicle like this at the beginning of the story, we would be too mobile. Seafaring vehicles belong in the middle. Flying vehicles—at the end. It's common practice.Mode of transport late in the Action-Adventure and Role-Playing Game genres that allows you to travel to nearly any location on the world map fairly quickly. This is almost always something that flies. Often, it's far beyond the Technology Level of the rest of the world, having been created by the resident Mad Scientist, or taken from an ancient civilization. Not to be confused with airships found in Real Life. This is usually awarded after you've visited every part of the map in the course of the plot except one, where you will face the Final Boss. It allows the player to quickly access unfinished sidequests while avoiding the tedium of Random Encounters and the maze-like terrain of the map. Airship acquisition may also open up many hours worth of sidequests. May fall under Cool Airship. Rarely does media present this trope with the logical conclusion of just letting you fly a simple airplane, possibly because they may not be cool enough. An RPG trope, especially console RPGs. See also Warp Whistle, Hub Level and Magic Map.
Mahiro: [slaps Nyarko vigorously] I hate it more than anything when people are holding back like that.
Mahiro: [slaps Nyarko vigorously] I hate it more than anything when people are holding back like that.
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Action Adventure Games
- Terranigma gave you a fairly mundane airplane... if it wasn't for the fact that it's the world's first, and the Wrights built it with your direct assistance. In a nod to reality, you have to touch down at airports (which you also must help create.)
- Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! starts you off with a boat, then a hovercraft that can travel across rocks, then jet ski which may travel up rapids. The ultimate craft, however, is a helicopter which lets you travel anywhere in the entire map. While unlocking it requires enough coins that it can be considered strictly a Bragging Rights Reward, it is the only way to reach the secret ending.
- Solatorobo starts you off with one (the Asmodeus), as the game is set on an archipelago of Floating Continents. However, you can't go to various towns until the game says you can.
- Little Big Adventure:
- About halfway through the southern hemisphere in the first game, you get to purchase your own catamaran which allows you to sail the entire hemisphere for free. About halfway through the northern hemisphere (you see the pattern), you meet a flying dinosaur which will take you nearly anywhere in the northern hemisphere.
- Downplayed in Little Big Adventure 2. While you still have your flying dragon at home, once on the alien planet, you have to rely on rented or hijacked transport.
- In a late chapter of King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride, Valanice gets a magic flute that can summon lord Tsepish's horse Necromancer, which can take her from anywhere in the game to Etheria, from where she can travel to any of the game's major locations.
Hack and Slash
- Half-Minute Hero pays homage to this by giving you a dragon late in the game, complete with a Mode 7 imitation effect while you're riding it.
- Jagged Alliance 2 has three examples. In the approximate order you find them:
- A helicopter, which becomes usable if you can find and recruit a particular NPC. Costs a stupid amount of cash to run and can't approach a large chunk of the map unless you can capture a particular objective.
- An ice-cream van you can acquire in a Random Encounter, which is a hilarious Brick Joke if you read some of the in-game fluff. (Hamous, a recruitable character from the first game, stole it in Paris and was last seen headed for Istanbul. How he ended up in Central America along with the same vehicle is left to the player's imagination.) It's restricted to proper roads and needs refueling, but petrol is incredibly hard to find.
- A Humvee, which can be acquired by talking to another NPC in a specific area of the map. Has the same limitations as the ice-cream van but the same NPC will provide free refuels. Unfortunately, by the time you get that far you probably only have the capital city left to attack.
- World of Warcraft has flying mounts that players at level 60 or above can purchase. Recently they have become a correct example of that trope, as now you can fly across the whole explorable world, not only Northrend and Outland.
- The RCS (basically a Shinkansen) in DROD 5: The Second Sky. It appears earlier in the game, but only at the end do you have full access, allowing you to visit anywhere on the map and tackle the optional levels.
- The Final Fantasy series don't share a world for the most part, but one of the recurring parallels is a character named Cid, who provides an airship in the late game. Some games in the series actually provide you with an airship early in the game, but impose limitations on it (such as being unable to land in most terrain or unable to fly over mountains).
- Final Fantasy III actually goes through several models, ending up with a veritable behemoth of an airship complete with shop and inn, but which still can't fly over most mountains. Another type doubles as submarine and is faster, but can't pass over mountains. It's one of the few games in the series where random encounters can happen while flying the airship. The dock serves as the battleground. The largest of the airships helps you out in those random encounters via cannon fire.
- The airships in Final Fantasy VI were acquired through party member Setzer. VI's Cid was a completely different, non-playable character who for once had no connection to airships. It's one of the few airships to suffer from a random encounter, if only one.
- Final Fantasy VIII gives you Balamb Garden halfway through Disc 2, which functions more like a hovercraft; towards the end of Disc 3 you get the spaceship Ragnarok, which plays the trope straight.
- Finalfantasy X: You see the Fahrenheit at the very beginning of the game, when it's underwater and being salvaged by the Al Bhed. It shows up later to allow your escape after a major revelation (for the main character, the player might be significantly less clueless), fight an airborne boss or two, and is responsible for the most ridiculously awesome cutscene in the game. While you can't control it precisely (working more like a Portal Network), you can input coordinates to drop you off in secret locations.
- Final Fantasy X-2 has the Celsius, which is manned by Rikku's brother... Brother. Her rival Leblanc most likely also has one, but it is never shown.
- Final Fantasy XII has Balthier's airship which was a prototype model scheduled to be scrapped, but he obtained it before Archades could do so. But the building of the ship itself was probably on Cid's orders. Seeing as Balthier is Cid's son, this is probably close enough.
- Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings starts you off with an absolutely massive airship. The player can custom name this airship, and it is gradually added onto throughout the game, eventually containing the "Sky Saloon" a massive market/eatery area. On top of this, as the game goes on, people gradually move in, and you have what amounts to an entire community on your hands by the end of it.
- Played with in Final Fantasy IX, where by the time you get the second airship, the world has been flooded by Mist and there are only a few accessible locations left in the world. The first airship, however, does allow you to explore the world at your own leisure.
- Also played with in Bravely Default, which gives you an airship at the end of the first chapter, which seems to be Opening the Sandbox except that you can only disembark at seaports, and only a handful of those are still operational at the moment. Soon after, the crystal that allows airflight is destroyed and you've basically just got a boat for the next long stretch of the game. And if you're expecting the crystal to eventually get restored, it doesn't. You end up needing a different airship to get over the mountains and enter The Empire. And the one you end up getting is an entire floating city, which wasn't known to be an airship until your party stumbles on the engine room.
- Not a ship so much, but Borderlands allows you access to the "Fast Travel Network" moderately late in the game, after you "fix" it. You can only use it to visit places you've already been (and DLC, presumably to prevent "I BOUGHT IT AND IT DOESN'T WORK" complaints), and there's a bit of Fridge Horror when you realize that, since it uses the New-U stations to teleport you around, it's really just killing you in one place and recreating you in another.
- Chrono Trigger has the Epoch (which may be called something else), which not only can fly you to any part of the map, but can allow you to travel to any of the game's preset time periods. It doesn't start out as an airship until Dalton puts wings on it. Before that, it's a time machine that's rooted in place; it's still known as the "Wings of Time" because it can fly across time but not space.
- The car from Fallout 2 allows you to cross the map quickly, but it still leaves you vulnerable to Random Encounters and terrain.
- Breath of Fire:
- Breath of Fire III ditches the standard Global Airship of the series for a series of teleporters throughout the land. It cuts down on travel time, but not by much...
- The first Breath of Fire had Nina's giant bird transformation instead of an airship.
- Breath of Fire II had Nina's sister in giant bird form, or a small floating continent.
- Common in the Tales Series.
- Tales of Phantasia and Tales of Symphonia had the Rheiards, and Tales of the Abyss had the Albiore. In both cases, they are important parts of the storyline and are acquired around the third of the way, far before you reach The Very Definitely Final Dungeon — although in the Albiore's case, it had to be powered up through late-game Side Quests before it was truly able to go everywhere.
- Tales of Vesperia also had this, with a normal sea-going ship hooked up to a flying whale.
- Tales of Graces has an unnamed shuttle which functions as a global airship. And yeah, that's shuttle as in space shuttle. Awesome.
- Secret of Mana had a cannon-based travel agency in the early parts, but later the heroes acquired a flying white dragon as their Global Airship.
- Seiken Densetsu 3 includes ships, a limited cannon-travel system, and a giant sea-turtle before procuring the use of the flying white dragon which appeared in Secret of Mana.
- The remakes of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire let the player character ride Latias or Latios and even land in the middle of a route. Some areas of the game are only accessible this way. As an added bonus, the player can even perform useless but cool-looking tricks, like loop-de-loops and somersaults.
- To a lesser extent, the recurring Fly HM move; though that one counts more as a Warp Whistle as the player doesn't get to control the flying Pokémon directly, unlike the above example. Also as many fans will affectionately point out, this move can be used by many creatures far too small to easily carry the protagonist's backpack, let alone the protagonist, or across a region of a country. Typically, Flying-type Com Mons are capable of doing so despite their initial forms being tiny (to the point that some actually have the world "tiny" in their species descriptions in the Pokédex, such as Pidgey being a Tiny Bird Pokémon and Pidove being a Tiny Pigeon Pokémon).
- In the Knights of the Old Republic games, the player has a literal global spaceship, the Ebon Hawk, which can instantly transport the party between planets. However, there is usually no quick transportation between locations on the same planet (except for the "Return to Ebon Hawk/Transit Back" instant travel function in the first game). Also, in the first game, interplanetary travel was prone to random enemy starfighter encounters with a mandatory arcade sequence.
- In Skies of Arcadia, which takes place on a collection of islands floating in the sky, airships are a standard method of transportation, and you literally can't go anywhere without one. The "airship effect" of avoiding random battles and getting to places quickly is achieved by obtaining an improved engine which allows travel in the upper atmosphere. Your airship doesn't start out as "global", but various upgrades allow you to reach progressively more areas of the game until you can go everywhere.
- SaGa 3 has a special airship: a time-and-dimension-travelling stealth jet of sorts called "the Talon". Repairing the Talon is the major focus of most of the game, and after the midpoint the Talon is finally back in the air, heavily equipped with Cannons, Missiles, shops, a free Inn and whatever other weapons and clever doohickeys the player can find scattered throughout the worlds. Unfortunately, it breaks down when you use it to enter the world which serves as The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
- In Dragon Quest VIII, the party eventually gains the ability to transform into a magic bird (collectively, it would seem) and fly about. Before this, a certain sidequest lets you obtain a bell you can use to summon a Great Sabercat to ride, enabling faster ground travel. As part of the story before obtaining the bird power, you find a magic ship that's stuck on the shoreline. After a tiresomely long series of events, the ship is finally brought onto the water, and can be used to travel across the sea. As a nice touch, all three modes of transportation (Sabercat, ship, bird) have a unique music track.
- Same goes for Dragon Quest III, although this is explicitly the party riding a magical bird, and you can't use it for the World of Darkness.
- Dragon Quest IV lets you obtain a hot air balloon.
- In Dragon Quest V has first a magic carpet, then a flying castle, and eventually a dragon.
- Dragon Quest VI the plot will eventually upgrade the horse that has been traveling with you since the beginning of the game into a flying Pegasus that will carry you around the world. Before that we get both a flying bed and a flying carpet which will also avoid any random encounters but are impeded by mountains, forests and small hills.
- Dragon Quest VII has a ship you get early on in the game to explore the world (and which is upgraded late in the game), which is sufficient to get almost anywhere. For the remaining 1% of the world, you eventually get a flying rock that will take you there.
- Dragon Quest IX starts with the ship, but later in the game you get to fly the Starflight Express.
- Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals had first a boat, then a submarine — which, while slower and underwater, did fulfill many of the same functions as an airship, namely the ability to avoid encounters and access the next areas of the game. Eventually, of course, the sub got another upgrade and was an airship as well.
- The Gummi Ship in Kingdom Hearts starts off needing to go through a rail-shooter sequence everytime you move a space on the world map. You later get a part that lets you skip this in spaces you've already visited. The second game makes this instantly available, but also makes the Gummi sequences much more fun to play.
- Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep has the protagonists transforming their Keyblades into their transport (Although it's not an actual, ship, per se). Gameplay-wise, it functions similarly to II's.
- In Blue Dragon, when Zola rejoins the party shortly after you defeat the Rockwind Wolf Ghost, she arrives in a Mechat that you can then use to go anywhere you want.
- Golden Sun: The Lost Age gives you a ship at about the one-third point, but it's a normal sea vessel, and you still have to deal with random encounters (just mermen and scallops). It's not until about two-thirds through the game that you get an airship, which is essentially the same ship you've been using with wings arbitrarily attached. You now get the option to choose to sail or fly, but while flying gets rid of random encounters, it also drains your Mana Meter constantly (and the ship is incapable of flying over mountains or even trees).
- Even with the wings on the ship, travel across the world takes a long time. However, in the last segment of the game, travel becomes much easier with the Teleport Psynergy; conveniently, when using it to travel to a town, the ship ends up docked at the nearest beach outside said town.
- Somewhat subverted in a rather humorous scene in Xenogears, where the party acquires a massive, high-tech flying machine, only for it to be shot down by an oblivious friend. The party gets a more permanent airship later in the game.
- Arc the Lad has an airship in every game.
- In the fourth game, you can call your airship for fire support during battles.
- The Wild ARMs games (the first three, at least) usually have some form of airship or flying mechanical dragon that serves the function of a Global Airship. The second game also had a flying castle at one point.
- The first game just gave you a biplane, which fit the theme of the series much better than flying dragons.
- Sailor Moon: Another Story has the Ark in Chapter 5, however due to the incredibly linear nature of the game, you can't really use it for anything besides advancing the plot (being in the past, there isn't really anything interesting at the places you went to in the previous chapters.)
- You can find a balloon late in the game in Ultima IV, tho you typically have to wait for the wind to shift to a favorable direction.
- Ultima V has a magic carpet that can travel to nearly anywhere on the map, but can't pass mountains or tall buildings. It returns in Ultima VII, where it can be obtained shortly after the third town. Unfortunately, using it to travel over certain areas can cause the game to become Unwinnable by Mistake.
- Baten Kaitos Origins has the Sfida, acquired shortly after the Hassaleh chapter of the game, which can travel wherever it wants so long as 1) you've been there before or 2) the plot demands.
- Doesn't apply to the past world, however.
- In the first Baten Kaitos, you are given Diadem's best ship for transportation. However, you can't leave the continent that you are on once you land on it until you finish your business there, and even then you are only allowed to wrap up your questing in that continent at your leisure, as the game automatically directs your travelling towards the next continent once you do choose to leave. However, after doing a short puzzle, later the game plays this trope straight by giving you The White Dragon to use as you see fit.
- And it should be noted that in both games, transportation is limited to between the Floating Continents, and since there are no giant flying menaces anywhere in the sky between the continents, the use of your Global Airship is indeed limited to doing every Side Quest there is once you have it, and accessing The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
- Common in the Phantasy Star series.
- Star Ocean: The Second Story At the halfway point in the game the party will set to tame a wild Synard. After taming it, it will act as a flying transport that can quickly take you to any location on Nede (except one, which is conveniently blocked off by a force field), and will avoid all random encounters.
- Ember the dragon in Cthulhu Saves the World lets Cthulhu and his companions fly anywhere in the world, allowing access to two final dungeons and a few optional ones.
- Shin Megami Tensei IV has the Ameno Torifune, the barge of the Shinto gods. You are given the right to use it by gathering the Three Imperial Treasures and using them to restore Amaterasu. Using it opens several otherwise inaccessible locations, such as Tokyo's southernmost harbor area and certain parts of Ikebukuro.
- Xenoblade Chronicles X doesn't have an airship per se, but every Skell functionally becomes this after obtaining the flight module. It allows you to fly anywhere, and thus reach previously inaccessible places, as well as make navigating the treacherous landscape much easier, especially when used in conjunction with the quick travel feature.
- The Grancypher from the online game Granblue Fantasy takes you around the World in the Sky, but it is limited to the places you've visited. It can even be improved by spending currency on it.
- In Fallout 4, if allied with the Brotherhood of Steel, you can signal for Vertibird transport, which is particularly useful in the overhauled v1.5 Survival Mode, where normal fast-travel is disabled.
Shoot Em Ups
- In Star Control 2, hyperspace travel between planets is equivalent to a normal RPG's wilderness travel between towns, complete with Random Encounters. One particular alien race, if befriended, gives the player character advanced technology allowing access to a different type of hyperspace (called "QuasiSpace") where travel is faster, more fuel-efficient, and Random Encounter-free; the catch is that although you can enter QuasiSpace from anywhere, you can only leave in one of about 20 pre-defined locations, and must continue from there the normal way. One of the pre-defined locations is, naturally, right near The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
- Tradewinds: Legends has several inland 'ports' which can only be visited by the flying dragon-ships acquired late in story mode, and are necessary to complete the plot. Unfortunately, since you are a pirate/trader captain whose entire fleet travels together, it's necessary to spend a while saving up to replace all your sailing ships with airships. And that's without even mentioning the expensive upgrades they need so they don't get instantly
Wide Open Sandbox
- In Grand Theft Auto IV, Brucie's friendship bonus is a helicopter airlift to anywhere on the map. However, the game has several other public transport options including trains and taxis, so while the chopper is a fair bit faster it's not revolutionary.
- Grand Theft Auto V takes this to new levels with the taxis: while the previous game had taxis that could near-instantly transport the player anywhere in Liberty City, GTA V allows the player to call up a cab from any road in the entire game world (countryside included) for the instant transport.
- Red Dead Redemption gives you stagecoaches at towns and campsites that can be set up anywhere in the wilderness. While both ostensibly only let you travel to previously located destinations (like a Warp Whistle), they don't fit fully into the trope as they can be set to drop you off at any custom destination.
Non-Video Game examples
- In The Order of the Stick, the Mechane takes this role, although the Take Your Time part of the trope is explicitly defied.
Bandanna: No, just 'cause you have an airship now does not mean that the main plot will stand still while y'all fly around and finish up all the sidequests you missed. Why does somebody always ask that?
- The Boeing 777-200LR plane is the world's longest-range commercial airliner, with a range of more than 17,000 kilometers, and in theory could connect almost any two airports in the world.