A trope found in most fantasy setting Role Playing Games. No matter what all you will have to accomplish between the beginning and the end—whatever continents you must cross, whatever oceans you must ford, whatever planets you must visit—you will always have to climb a Tower.
True, towers make for great defenses in times of war. However, one can easily see that the purpose that it exists is solely to make the player traverse not only far, but up in order to accomplish the goal. More often than not, the tower will either be three-quarters of the way through the game or will consist of the final dungeon itself. If the tower is not the final dungeon, then you can guarantee that when you finally do reach the top and fight the boss you're in for some pretty dialogue-heavy plot sections usually involving some kind of twist that changes the direction of the protagonist's mission.
See also Climbing Climax.
Clock Tower is a closely related trope, especially in a Bell Tower or Cathedral. Oddly, you rarely see residents having to climb a Mage Tower, perhaps because it would highlight how impractical it is for old men.
Final Fantasy IV has at least two towers that serve as dungeons: The Tower of Bab-il and the Tower of Zot, where Golbez runs his operations. You also have to enter the Tower of Bab-il no less than three times.
Final Fantasy V has the Barrier Tower, the Phoenix Tower (30 stories tall), the Fork Tower (in which you have to divide your party in order to knock down both sides at the same time), and Walse Tower (home to the water crystal).
Final Fantasy VI has the Tower of Fanatics. Kefka's tower is an inversion for the most part, as you're descending into the depths to fight Kefka (except for a few bits) and then climbing back up to escape it.
Final Fantasy VII has Shinra Headquarters. While it is not a literal tower in the castle sense, the skyscraper feel to it certainly would classify it as a tower. Especially if you have to take the stairs... A more classical example would be the Pagoda in Wutai, which, while only five levels tall, is 100% tower and has a guardian on each floor.
At least one Second Life FFVII RP sim's players have taken to calling it "Shin Ra Tower" and during the Junon sim's existence, put a fanmade one inside the support structure for the canon.
Final Fantasy VIII has the optional Centra Ruins, the Dollet Radio Tower, the Desert Prison at the beginning of disc 2, and Lunatic Pandora.
Final Fantasy IX has Memoria. However, the fact that the laws of physics aren't strictly followed here makes it more difficult to say "upstairs".
Final Fantasy XI has Delkfutt's Tower, the top of which plays an important part in the Rise of the Zilart expansion, and offers a few special fights... for anyone who had the time and money to go to the Fan Festivals.
The Nyzul Isle remnants may count. It is 100 floors and was originally planned to go further up and descend. However, it is not clear what exactly is going on since the layout of the non-boss floors are random and all of the Alzadaal Ruins is Alexander's body.
Final Fantasy XII had the 100-story Pharos. You skip maybe 27 stories by teleporting, but the rest have to be climbed. It also has three basement floors, solely for Bonus Boss sidequests. However, it should be noted that the definition of "story" is stretched to its limit. Most of those stories are better defined as "landings between sets of stairs".
Final Fantasy Mystic Quest had Focus Tower, which was literally (and outright stated to be) the center of the world. It is the final dungeon, although the player gets to pass through parts of it at several earlier points in the game. In fact, at one point you get a glimpse of said final dungeon while retrieving a hidden item.
This was almost the entirety of Magic Sword: Heroic Fantasy: After the heroes go through the village and defeat the first boss, the rest of the game is a 50-story tower.
Ditto for the original Ys and all of its remakes, nearly half the game consisting of climbing Darm Tower in pursuit of Dark Fact.
Ys Origin took it to its logical conclusion: the entire game is a tower climb.
The Spring of the Sky and Tower of the Goddess areas in La-Mulana.
The Tower of Druaga. Essentially the entire game is climbing up a 60-floor tower. The Animated Adaptation takes this Up to Eleven: the original NES game is available as an arcade game on one of the floors, which are divided in multiple groupings of floors filled with monsters and traps. And then there's another tower on top of this one where the trueBig Bad resides.
Tales of Eternia had the optional Glimmering Spire, a tower of puzzles on each floor. At the top awaited the boss battle with Valkyrie and a ton of chests.
Tales of Symphonia includes the Tower of Mana, which you have to climb twice. The second time includes a bit of No Fourth WallLampshade Hanging on the tediousness of this sort of thing... the characters mention how annoying it is that they have to go through the area again, and Lloyd asks why there couldn't be a "quick jump" option, confusing Regal. (Quick jump is an option given to you at other points in the game which allows you to skip through long dungeons you've been through before if you need to get to the other side for a plot event. The lack of one in this case is done deliberately, as there is a Point of No Return after you go through it the second time.)
The game also subverts this in that the actual villain Evil Tower of Ominousness is not climbable - it only has one real floor of interest, which you access by teleporter.
But you do have to descend it at one point (no, twice actually- the basement portion soon after the first descent).
The OVA version of it had a giant spiral staircase leading to the room with the teleporter. Good thing that it wasn't in the game.
The final stage in Tales of Innocence is the Tower of Dawn. It happens to be divided into three parts, with three boss rooms at the end of each segment and a save point just before each boss.
The ending of the first Max Payne, which has the title character storming the Aesir Corporation tower to take on the Big Bad behind the murder of his family.
The first two games in the SaGa (Final Fantasy Legend in America) series both revolve around climbing up worlds-spanning towers. Whatever the protagonists' initial motivation was, the ultimate purpose of the tower-climb ends up being essentially to punch the local deity in the face when you get there. Take that, Almighty!
In the second game, after reaching the top of the tower, you must descend inside of it for the final battle.
The third SaGa game has two tower dungeons, but without a God to punch at the top. Though if you replace Master with Old Ones, you'll feel better and understand the game a whole lot more.
Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne had a few, including one incredibly tall tower you had to clear once, which was then crushed by an even bigger tower. Thankfully, it skipped a lot of floors going up, so although the game said you were on floor 600, you didn't trek up those many floors.
Persona 3, a spin-off of the above series, had the 260+ floor Tartarus, which exemplifies this trope. Tartarus wasn't just the final dungeon, it was pretty much the only dungeon. The game divides into about 45% climbing Tartarus, 45% Social Links, 10% Full Moon Operations.
This is a big part of Catherine. Vincent's Nightmare Sequences involve him attempting to climb a series of hazardous towers to escape to "freedom". Falling or dying by any other means will kill him in the real world. The story making it a spin-off of Persona, doesn't make it much of a surprise.
Digital Devil Saga includes a massive tower in each game, one of which is located on or in the sun.
Shin Megami Tensei I is stuffed to the gills with them, but the most notable is the final dungeon, a gigantic, multi-storied cathedral built to summon God into it. This is subverted however if you choose to take the Law path. You go down through the underground part of the cathedral instead. On Neutral, you go both down and up, in either order.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey includes a tower at the very center of Sector Eridanus, atop which the dimensional distortion between Earth and the Schwarzwelt is found. Much less ominous but a lot more terrifying is Mithra's Palace of Pleasure in Sector Bootes, a nightmarish construction where Mithra and his demonic cronies imprison and experiment upon the human crew of the Elve and even fellow demons.
The Endless Staircase from Super Mario 64 (which is only endless so long as you don't have enough stars to engage Bowser in the final battle).
The third area in Kirby's Adventure, the Butter Building, uses a tower as a Hub Level. As you clear each stage, another floor of the tower is revealed; in two of the levels, there's a sequence where you must run up a revolving staircase on the outside of the tower while enemies pursue you. At the tower's top, you fight the area bosses, Mr. Shine and Mr. Bright, who look like the sun and a crescent moon respectively.
There's also a level in which you must get to the top of a tower; you must fight a miniboss in each floor. There's a hidden level which is similar but the minibosses are different.
Terranigma begins with the misleadingly cliché quest of conquering five towers...which you discover control the resurrection of the very continents of the world above (ours). There's two more towers in the game as well (one is the last proper dungeon), but both are unrelated to these five.
Zelda loves their towers. We also have the Tower of the Gods and another Ganon's Tower in The Wind Waker, and the Temple of Time and the Palace of Twilight (not technically a tower, but close enough) in Twilight Princess.
Also in Twilight Princess, there was the final area of Hyrule Castle. While considerably smaller than the other towers in the series, it made up for by having large sections of missing staircase, necessitating quite a bit of puzzle solving just to travel a few feet up the damn thing.
There was also a Ganon's Tower in A Link to the Past, as well as the Tower of Hera and Hyrule Castle Tower in the same game.
Don't forget Eagle's Tower in Link's Awakening, which was probably the trickiest dungeon in the game.
And one of the most fun, considering you got to collapse a floor of it by hurling a large iron ball at 4 load-bearing pillars.
The Playstation RPG Azure Dreams is a good example of this- all of the action in the game takes place in a giant tower, with the town below, the only other accessible location, consisting of shops and dating-sim style character interactions.
The Pokémon RPGs tend to have quite a few towers, especially in Pokémon Gold and Silver's Johto. There's a lighthouse, a radio tower, two dated spires in Ecruteak City, the Sky Pillar in Hoenn, and a tower that was supposedly a giant Bellsprout at one point.
Team Plasma's Castle at the end of the game also qualifies. You actually start off more or less on one of the middle floors and make your way up to the top floor.
Metal Gear Solid 3 has an incredibly long ladder which the player is required to climb. The ladder is so long, in fact, that there's enough time to play a sizable chunk of the game's theme song.
The long ladder is justified; the bottom of the ladder is in a jungle, while the top is on a mountain. If it wasn't ridiculously long, some of the realism would've worn off. Then you start to wonder why they didn't just have an elevator, or simply Fade to Black and then skip to the top, or something. The bottom line is that justified or not, it's a rare game that would make the player climb a ladder for several minutes to proceed, but MGS does it proudly.
Not to mention the almost unbearably long Comms Tower stairs, on which Snake must fight a running gun battle against an infinite supply of Mooks, in the first Metal Gear Solid (and in the MSX game Metal Gear 2, for that matter.) Fortunately, the other Comms Tower has a (mostly) functional elevator.
A tower marks the final endgame of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, with areas large enough to hold the appropriately epic tactical battles that take place inside.
Another Fire Emblem example pops up in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, with an optional tower full of monsters that can be used to level up your weaker units.
In Professor Layton and the Curious Village, there's a creepy slapped-together-looking tower overlooking the village, noticed soon after the start of the game and mentioned by multiple characters. Guess what you have to do in the climax.
Professor Layton Vs Ace Attorney has the great archives and more importantly, the Storyteller's tower, and if that wasn't enough, there are smaller towers at the top of the main tower.
NetHack is a game where you descend 50-odd levels into the underworld. Even so, there are a couple of sublevels where, yes, you climb a tower. And in the end, you have to climb all those 50-odd levels back up.
Similarly, Dungeon Crawl's primary branches are 27+5 levels, which you then climb back up once you have what you came for.
Starting from 0.5, Stone Soup also has Ziggurats. Pay to enter, 27 levels, traversed from top to bottom. You can leave them any time you make it to the exit of a level, but going back a level - or reentering a Ziggurat you've exited - is impossible. Each individual level is a small room, filled with a bunch of monsters that guard a pile of treasure and the exit. Room sizes, numbers of monsters per level, average monster nastiness and amount of loot per level go up as you delve deeper into the Ziggurat. Monster generation follows themes; each time you enter a new level the game randomly selects a theme, which determines what monsters get generated. Some themes are notably much more nasty than others, leading to a large variance in difficulty. On average Ziggurats are probably the most dangerous crawl branch, beating out such nice places as the Hells (finite demon-filled wastes) and Pandemonium (infinite demon-filled wastes). They are an effective source of both loot and experience - but in general, if you can reliably survive them, you don't really need any more of either.
The Sunspire in Unreal I is very tall, and you get a good sense of scale when you get to the top, thanks to the game's level design and fairly powerful 3D engine.
The Tower of the Naughty Sorceress in Kingdom of Loathing, with a different guardian to defeat on each level.
One part of Blood 2 involves climbing the CabalCo tower, but you get to ride an elevator most of the way.
Pork City in The World Ends with You. During Another Day, you must make your way to the top by using only one of the game's 13 brands of pins on each level if you want to fight the game's toughest enemy on the highest floor.
Half-Life 2 also lets you use an elevator when you go up the Citadel during the last part of the game, and the last battle of the game takes place at the very top of the tower.
Parasite Eve has a tower as the bonus dungeon. Of course, just for shits and giggles, it's the Chrysler Building. With Chaos Architecture for even more fun!
Averted in Ultima II. While the game has plenty of towers, they (along with dungeons) are completely irrelevant to the plot. There is nothing in them that you can't get from random encounters on the surface world and there's never any reason to visit any of them.
In Ultima Underworld II, the first alternate world you visit is a tower ruled by goblins. Since it's early on, it's not the final dungeon, but you do learn some important things about your quest at the top.
The Infinity Engine games mostly avoid this. In fact, while there were towers that could be plundered in Baldur's Gate, the most conventional of them - Ragefast's tower - was in no way necessary to the plot. The largest dungeon in the game, Durlag's Tower, only has two towers aboveground, and they're only barely necessary to explore the meat of the dungeon, which is of course underground. The Iron Throne headquarters is mostly a tower, and it's important enough to be visited twice and to nearly count as a Disc One Final Dungeon. The final battle, however, takes place beneath the sewers, in a forgotten temple underneath the eponymous city. It helps that it is based on Dungeons & Dragons, which, as the title implies, takes place underground a lot.
Icewind Dale averts this right up to the end, where you have to climb a tower of ice to fight the bad guy.
Baldur's Gate II avoids this even more. It gets all metaphysical. The last battle takes place in a place that's half inside your mind and half in hell. It's awesome.
One boss battle in Throne of Bhaal, however, comes at the end of climbing to the top level of his fortress.
The bonus dungeon added by Throne of Bhaal is a 5 story tower, however, you start at the top.
Icewind Dale II has no towers until the final chapter which consists entirely of a large tower with four more towers coming off of it.
Shiren the Wanderer has the dungeon split into two halves: the first goes down, while the second (Table Rock) goes up, with the final boss at the top level.
In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the Sigil Stone needed to close an Oblivion Gate is always at the top of a tower located inside the gate in question.
Annoyingly the big cool tower in the Imperial City can not be climbed. You can use cheats or glitches to get up there but roof isn't solid.
In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you have to accend the Seven Thousand Steps, the path circling around the tallest mountain in all of Tamriel that can be seen in the distance from almost any point in Skyrim. Somewhat unusual as you have to climb the mountain near the beginning of the game to get your powers as The Chosen One. You'll have to return to the peak later in the story, but that time you can simply skip most of the ascend by fast traveling to the monastery just below the top.
The Gaiden Game, The Elder Scrolls Legends: Battlespire, took place largely in the off-shore tower where the Imperial Battlemages are trained, which has been overrun by Demons, er, I mean "Daedra".
In Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines most of the endings have your character fighting his/her way up a skyscraper. You've been to the top several times earlier in the game, but the elevator is no longer an option.
The Lufia series absolutely loves these. In Lufia 2, half the dungeon crawls actually take place in towers, and this includes just about all the ones that are actually plot-relevant instead of hunts to fix a Broken Bridge (Which tended toward caves instead). There's nearly as many random towers littering the landscape as there are villages.
The Golden Sun series is based around the lighting (or stopping the lighting) of magical beacons on four lighthouses, making for at least two by-the-book uses of this trope in each game, though there's usually even more. A few of the optional dungeons, in a reversal of form but a similar usage, have you traveling downstairs through suspiciously inverted-tower-like underground cave systems.
Oh, come, now. There's many more than that. There's Mount Aleph, the enormous tree in Kolima, Babi's Lighthouse, The Temple of the Sea God, Tundaria Tower, and Ankohl. You could argue that the Great Gabomba is one, too, since you do have to do a bit of climbing. Not to mention some actual mountain climbing sections.
The insane asylum in Psychonauts. You climb up, working under the assumption that you'll be facing a hard boss fight against the evil Doctor Loboto. Instead, the only thing you actually do up there is solve a few puzzles and watch cutscenes. The actual boss battle doesn't come until much later, after the whole place has blown up.
Serious Sam inverts this. In the second encounter, You start the Babylonian section at the top of a Ziggeraut and must descend to continue on a ground level. At the end of the section, you reach the Tower of Babel, but instead of climbing, you circle around it to open the door and then go into the basement to fight a boss.
The old Ghostbusters game on the NES: To reach the end boss, players would have to climb a tower 22 stories tall. Then again, the film did the same thing.
The roguelikeADOM has the tower of elemental flames, which is not only mandatory but also very hard because the hot atmosphere burns both the hero and his items (without appropriate protections)
Played straight in the end, just before the final boss battle. After ascending to the top of the Khrimalith, all three of the split-up parties open ominous doors to find...
Karn: Stairs. And Outer Space.
Infinite Undiscovery features Vesplume Tower (among many other multilevel areas). Vesplume is interesting that there are 3 entrances and routes to the top and although you have to split your party to make your way through, you only have direct control over the main group, though you do interact with or see the other groups at different times.
The Spiral of Dreams in Dark Cloud 2 is a massive, crystal staircase that stretches up from the Moonflower Palace and high into the sky (with the implication that it leads into another dimension.) The Dark Element awaits at the top.
Slayers has the heroes climbing down into the sub-sub-sub-(whatever) basement of Rezo the red priest. Lina got increasingly irritated as each door they opened lead to yet another set of stairs. They'd later do the reverse in Slayers NEXT.
Subverted near the end of the first story arc where, when faced with a giant spiral staircase, they just flew up.
Non-RPG example: Devil May Cry 3 revolves around ascending then descending then reascending the Temen-Ni Gru; a giant demon tower.
Breath of Fire III had several locations called 'towers' but due to the odd technical limitations the game had (seemingly no floors or even bridges/overpasses allowed) they were all actually ziggurats and pyramids. Why they didn't just call them that is the question...
Castlevania: Curse of Darkness has two such towers, the Tower of Eternity and the Tower of Evermore. Both are optional bonus areas, the latter accessible only through the former (and a properly upgraded pet) and starts from the top, but contain uber-XP enemies with extremely rare crafting components. Knowing what to do with those components is another matter entirely...
Nearly every Castlevania features a Clock Tower, most famous for the Medusa Heads that mess up your jumps so you land on very sharp spikes.
It is a rare Castlevania game that does not have a long staircase leading to the topmost tower of the castle where Dracula (or a wannabe) resides. The castle keeps in general are often designed with going upwards in mind.
Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow features the Condemned Tower, with a boss at the top. The boss shatters half of the floors, making you both plummet right to the bottom, and you have to climb it again to save and get the Tower Key that opens up the staple Clock Tower.
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon actually lacks the staircase up to the throne room, but it has the staple machine tower, as well as a particularly tall chapel tower.
Mirror's Edge has many towers: given the fact that there's a lot of Le Parkour going on, you have to be on top of very tall buildings in order for failure to have the appropriate road pizza end. There's an inversion and a subversion, however: in the second last chapter, you're trying to run down a spiral staircase to get to the street as quickly as possible, and the last chapter requires you to get to the top of the highest building in the city...but there's elevators! Yay!
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is pretty much going up on a castle. In the PS2 remake, the floors are actually used to subdivide the cutscene in the Theater Mode. And there are thirteen floors. Get it? Organization XIII, thirteen floors? Yeah. Although you just face 6 of them anyway.
Xenogears: You need to get to Shevat. Naturally he's on top of Babel Tower.
You spend much of Xenoblade climbing upwards, first to reach the top of the Bionis for the sake of unlocking the Monado's true power, then later ascending the Mechonis for the sake of stopping the Mechon invasion.
World of Warcraft generally manages to avoid this, but Karazhan is the haunted Tower of one of the settings most powerful mages. While the lower parts are more elaborate and include a cellar and stables, the progression boils down to getting to the top of the tower.
The raid dungeon Icecrown Citadel is also basically just a three-tiered tower, and in most wings, you have to go upstairs to fight the final boss of each wing. The Big Bad is at the peak.
MapleStory has two in Ludibrium, both 100 floors and if you're not smart, no way to get back up once you've gone down.
This only applies to Eos (western) Tower, which has about 60-odd floors since you climb down the outside in several sections. The eastern tower (Helios Tower) has about five floors and a lift for the resulting 95, presumably because they couldn't be bothered to make another 70 maps. There's also the 30-floored Orbis tower, which takes you from a flying fairy kingdom, through a frozen village and ends underwater.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King has a secret dungeon called the Infinity Spire. While King Leo never actually visits it, he can send adventurers to explore it, and it can be seen from the town.
Ar tonelico - The entire habitable gameworld for both games is a single tower, and the floating continent/scaffolding surrounding it. The first one (Elemia) throws a mild twist to it by having the Big Bad actually sleeping very close to where you started the game, near the middle of the tower, but the second game (Metafalica) puts the Big Bad right at the very top, which happens to be an orbital satellite that you have to extend the tower up to reach.
The penultimate area of Mother 3 was the Pig Mask headquarters, which was literally a 100-story skyscraper with the Pig King himself at the top floor.
Fortunately there are elevators so you don't go through each of the 100 floors.
With that said, you're told that every floor that an elevator leads to is the 100th floor, only to be told that that was a lie at its end, until you reach the true top. They even put frogs at the start of each of those floors, regardless of how short they are, to make you think that this one might truly be the 100th floor.
Coach: Who the hell... puts an evac station...up 30 flights of goddamn stairs.
No Mercy has the hospital climb as the last stage of the first episode. Left 4 Dead 2's first episode "Dead Center" starts with your team on the roof of a blazing hotel, having to fight your way down.
Parodied in Conkers Bad Fur Day: 'Oh no! Where did the windmill go? I was sure that was the final level!'
In Crackdown, the last gang leader is on the top of one of the tallest buildings in the city. You end up running through the inside of the building, climbing the levels as the horde of Mooks ineffectually try to put you down.
Baroque. You're in town, or climbing the tower. Best part, you don't know why you're climbing the tower, other than because a creepy angel told you to.
The final section of Prey involves climbing up the kilometres-tall tower connecting the surface of a spherical, planetoid-sized spaceship to its centre. A good portion of the climbing is done via shuttlecraft, but the game still ‘cheats’ by using teleportation portals to make the climb manageable.
Shadow Hearts: Covenant has the Man Festival, which consists of multiple tiers of combat that Joachim engages in. He climbs the tower by jumping. Though there are a hundred floors, you skip from the twenty-sixth to the mid-eighties... at which points Anastasia immediately asks where the other floors went.
World of Mana loves towers: The tower in the City of Gold in Secret of Mana and the Luna Tower in Seiken Densetsu 3; the Tower of Leires in Legend of Mana isn't quite all going upstairs, but it may as well be. An entire chapter of Dawn of Mana is dedicated to climbing the ruins of an ancient superweapon and trying to stop the bad guys from activating it.
The last stage in Sigma Star Saga was pretty much a big tower/palace climb.
The first level of Perfect Dark inverts this trope, having you descend a skyscraper from the rooftop helipad in order to access a laboratory in the basement. The game plays it straight two levels later, though, as you now need to escape the tower by ascending it back to the helipad for evac. And this time, the guards are ready for you.
Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard features the Yggdrasil Labyrinth, which climbs steadily upward. By constrast, the first game had you making your way down.
Dragon Age: Origins has three - the first real dungeon of the game is a tower at Ostagar that is home to the game's Wake-Up Call Boss, while later the party must fight through the ruined tower of the Circle of Magi. The Very Definitely Final Dungeon of the game is also a tower, but despite its height, it only actually consists of an outdoor section, two floors, and the top.
In Demon's Souls, you not only climb one tower, but several ones on the same level. Home to Gargoyles and annoying Octopus guards.
The Haunted Tower in Bonk's Revenge. Bonk's Adventure had a similar level near the end.
Guild Wars subverts this. The game is full of towers, some of which look incredibly inviting: from the mysterious floating castle in Kessex Peak, to Kaineng City's many sardine-can flats, to the beautiful architecture of Vabbi... but you can't enter a single one of them.
The VVVVVV level "The Tower" isn't just a tower, it's a scrolling tower. With Advancing AND RETRACTING Walls of Doom. The rooms "Panic Room" and "The Final Challenge" are similar, but Panic Room is an It's All Downstairs From Here.
Shippu Mahou Daisakusen has a rare shmup example: In one of the three possible final stages, you fly into a tower and fly out through the top, into space.
While not a tower, the Sanctuary arc is Saint Seiya can be seen as this. Climb stairs, fight boss, repeat twelve times.
Inversion: in Hunter × Hunter, one of the trials Gon and his friend have to accomplish is to descend a tower, starting at the top and going downstairs from there.
In Yu-Gi-Oh! R, Yugi and his friends have to make their way up the Kaiba Corp skyscraper, battling the Card Professors along the way, in order to rescue a kidnapped Anzu at the top floor. Jounouchi and Honda have it even worse, since they fell through a trap door early on and ended up in the basement. Subverted for Kaiba and Mokuba, who came in through the roof.
In The First Law, characters hav to climb the Tower of the Maker at one point. This example is unusual in that while they do climb to the top, there are no literal stairs, or even other visible means of ascending. They just keep going through it and end up at the top. The first to notice there were no stairs is Glokta, who spent significant time prior to the Tower scene complaining about stairs. He actually finds it extremely disconcerting that they aren't there.
The final three areas of the Tabletop Game themed "Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep" DLC campaign in Borderlands 2 have you walking up a mountain, and then up (and up, and up) a castle... and then you fall down a trap door and have to get back up top all over again, before finally getting to the tippy-top of the tower at Dragon Keep, where the final boss awaits.
Saint Seiya has been described as "A bunch of guys running up some stairs for about a hundred episodes". To be fair, there's also a lot of fighting going on. And the stairs during the Hades saga actually lead down...
The Saint Seiya version of this trope was actually parodied in one of the Ranma ˝ movies, when Ranma and his companions (Ryoga, Shampoo, Mousse, etc) have to go through a similar settlement to rescue Akane from a prince who wanted to marry her.