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Level In Reverse
!OG TRATS
Subtrope of Remixed Level.

With the cost of development for video games going up, it's understandable that the dev team would want to find a way to cut corners. As such, a lot of game content becomes recycled. It's easier to miss and/or explain with small things, but with something as large as a whole game environment, players might start to catch on.

Some decide to cut corners elsewhere. Others try to hide the recycled geometry better.

The two major ways that developers try to hide re-used level geometry are:

  • Flipped levels, where the level geometry is flipped (left-to-right, upside-down etc.). This also qualifies if the level axes have been flipped (i.e. floors become walls).
  • Flipped paths, where the direction the player traverses the level is changed (i.e. the player starts at what was the end of the level, and has to move towards what was the beginning.)

Note that these two methods are not mutually exclusive, and indeed several games have utilised both methods, sometimes simultaneously.

There are several reasons why the development team might re-use the level geometry in this manner:

  1. The level really has potential for re-use, as much of the environment can be played very differently from a different angle and with little alteration (for example, the first level has the player get in a ship, which starts to sink during intermission, so the second level has a whole level tilted and partially flooded, making the once easy-to-access entry way become a lethal trap and force the player find another way).
  2. The level description requires the use of previous level geometry, with different enemy placements, objectives etc. (for example, the player is going back to an area previously visited, except that they are approaching it from a different angle/entrance, or in the case of flipped geometry, a literal interpretation of a Mirror Universe situation.)
  3. The dev team was lazy.
  4. The dev team ran out of time to develop unique geometry for every level.
  5. The level contents (items, enemies etc) are randomly generated, including start and end points.
  6. The level is a Nostalgia Level, and this is used to give a twist to the original design.
  7. The dev team needed to keep file sizes down.

In addition to the flipped geometry small alterations can be made to the level itself, either to accommodate extra features not present in the original level, or to justify the re-use of the level geometry by showing how the level has changed in comparison to the last time it was used, such as damage or new background objects left behind by people/creatures that have occupied the area since you were last there.

Compare Backtracking, where the level is exactly the same as before, only you're going through it in the opposite direction.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Action Adventure Games 

    Driving Games 
  • Racing games tend to have reverse versions of circuits, as driving the circuit in one direction quite often has different challenges to it than driving it in the opposite one.
    • Need for Speed 2 had a setting which, if checked, meant you drove every track backwards.
    • The Mario Kart games have the Mirror Cups, which require the player to race on the reversed versions of tracks to win. An extremely nasty version of the Mirror race is in Mario Kart 64's Toad's Turnpike. The traffic, which you raced alongside with, is now in reverse.
    • Re-Volt featured a particularly jarring version of this trope, having not only levels that were back to front, but also mirrored levels (swapped left-to-right). As well as reverse mirrored levels. The San Francisco Rush games also had these settings.
  • LEGO Racers has three levels which are previous levels, inverted left-to-right.
  • The first Green Plant course in F-Zero GX is shaped like a Mobius strip, meaning you traverse each section both rightside-up and upside-down.
  • Test Drive 4, 5, and 6 all have reversed versions of their point-to-point courses.
  • Jet Moto 3 has reverse courses that also have their names reversed.

    First Person Shooter 
  • Modern Warfare 3 does this with its Spec Ops levels, with several of them being areas you play through in the campaign, just played from the 'end' of the level to the 'start'.
    • This trend started in the original Modern Warfare, notably "All Ghillied Up/One Shot, One Kill"(former is stealth, latter is action) and "Safehouse/Heat"(fighting your way uphill to reach Al-Asaad, then storming back downhill through the territory that the Ultranationalists recaptured, due to the landing zone being moved), however it was justified then as in between the levels that shared the geometry, the player character for these levels had not moved, but new enemies had arrived.
    • And further back in Call of Duty Classic, there was Burnville and Dawnville. The first was at night and had you clearing the German AA guns from the occupied burning town, hence the name. The second, during the day with the fires burnt out and some areas blocked off by rubble, consisted of pushing back the German counterattack and taking out their mortar crews.
  • The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct does this with its randomly generated scavenge missions.
  • Halo: Combat Evolved had the first half of the game playing through various levels, and the second half playing those same levels backwards, as you were fleeing/fighting the Flood.
    • This trend seems to be somewhat popular with the Halo series. Halo 3 had The Floodgate and The Storm being reverses of each other, and Halo: Reach had the levels The Package and ONI: Sword Base sharing similar geometry, but with different start points.
  • Left 4 Dead 2 has a campaign called Hard Rain, which has the players reach a gas station half-way through, and then go back along the path they used to get there, except now a monsoon has hit, imparing vision and communication.
  • RAGE has several instances of having to go back to previous areas in order to retrieve something not gotten the first time, such as the two visits to Dead City. Once for an upgraded defibrilator, the other to get info on The Authority.
  • Duke Nukem 3D has an addon pack called Nuclear Winter, in which the first two levels are the first two levels of the standard game, played backwards and with a christmas theme.
  • The level immediately following your acquisition of the dual-portal device in Portal 2 is the final test chamber of the original Portal, only in reverse and in disrepair.
  • In the second-to last level of The World Is Not Enough(N64), "A Sinking Feeling", you infiltrate a submarine. The final level, "Meltdown", starts where the previous left off, but the submarine is sinking and turned vertically, so you have to climb upwards out of it, invoking both versions of this trope.
  • In Doom 3, you have to backtrack to Marine HQ in Mars City after the demons are unleashed, with many doors and stairways blocked off by the damage.
  • Datadyne Central: Defection and Datadyne Central: Extraction in Perfect Dark. The former is a standard espionage mission, descending the skyscraper, while the latter is an Escort Mission back up to the rooftop, with tons more enemies, including a Future Copter and Cassandra's Amazon Brigade. Later, there's the Area 51 Rescue and Escape levels. Perfect Dark Zero has Laboratory Rescue/River Extraction and Trinity Infiltration/Trinity Escape.
  • Marathon: Fell does this multiple times. "We Corpses All Sing" revisits "A Merging of Shadows" with a different starting point and without the vacuum conditions, "The Face Below The Puddles" begins at the endpoint of "Nox Quondam" and retreads some of that level's geometry, and in "Vessel in the Depths" you start on the large ship from "No Whisper a Man Could Hold" and go through space to a smaller ship mostly identical to the one in the original level.
    • The Marathon 2 level "Sorry Don't Make it So" reuses the geometry of the M1 level "Pfhor Your Eyes Only", with the player starting at the opposite end of the map and several new rooms added. In turn, "Hang Brain" from Infinity is a reversed and remixed version of "Begging For Mercy Makes Me Angry" from M2.
    • In Marathon: EVIL, the penultimate level "Schmackle" has a mirrored version of itself occupying the same space as the normal version. The final level, "Life's End", uses the reversed path variation, both in respect to the previous level and in the fact that you have to backtrack through the whole level to the exit after triggering a Collapsing Lair scenario, with a few Monster Closet ambushes along the way.

    Massively Multiplayer Online games 
  • Toontown Online has a section called the Goofy Speedway, where you race on one of 18 tracks. 9 of these tracks are reverse versions of the other 9 tracks.

    Platformers 
  • Super Mario 3D Land has several of the special stages using geometry from the regular stages, played in reverse.
  • Transformers Convoy No Nazo: Stage 6 is Stage 3 going down instead of up, and Stage 10 is Stage 8 going up instead of down.
  • Both types show up in NES Remix.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) uses this in Shadow and Silver's iterations of the same levels Sonic went through. Shadow's Kingdom Valley has a part that is Sonic and Silver's done backwards, while the End Of The World level is made up of various different pieces of previous levels, sometimes played backwards.
  • VVVVVV has an unlockable Flip Mode, which flips the game world vertically.

    Role Playing Game 
  • The Dragon Age series:
    • Two of the DLC packs for Dragon Age: Origins used the Cadash Thaig area, except one started at the southeast exit and ended near the statue in the northwest, while the other started at the statue and ended at the southeast exit.
    • Dragon Age II does this with its dungeon environments, although sometimes you don't get the full expanse of the level, but you can still tell it's the same geometry, as even though you can't get there the minimap still shows the rest of it.
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has two versions of this in one: The inverted castle is not only played with the same level geometry, only upside-down, but you start the inverted castle from the Dracula fight room, and work your way 'upwards', thus utilising both methods of masking the reused geometry at the same time.
  • The Disgaea titles have Dark World and X-Dimension map variants that may or may not rearrange the placement of the Base Panel and monsters.
  • In Gurumin, the levels 4 and 5 of each world are reversed versions of level 2 and 1.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, if you side with the Legion, the path through Hoover Dam is reversed from the other allegiances.

    Sandbox Games 
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas had two levels inside Madd Dogg's mansion, one near the end of the game, and one near the start, with both levels having you go in opposite directions through the mansion itself. (Although this may have been more for the sake of consistency than saving on art assets.)

    Shoot 'em up 
  • A notoriously tricky section of R-Type III on the SNES requires you to fly through a convoluted set of pipes while dodging magma streams, fight a miniboss, then do it again backwards.
  • Gradius 1's fourth stage is an upside-down version of the first stage, with many more enemies and bullets.
    • The Fortress stage in Gradius IV turns sideways halfway through.
    • Stage 6 in Gradius V has the level geometry tilt in various directions, followed by scrolling backwards.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • In Transformers Prelude To Energon (The video game based on the Transformers Armada TV series) has one level where you fight your way through a space ship. The next level is the same ship, only the ship is now nose-down and you start in the bridge, which is where the last one ended, fulfilling both methods implied with this trope.
  • In the first level of Syphon Filter 1, you rush to the bottom platform of a Metro station in an attempt to disarm a bomb. In the second level, you climb out of said station after the bomb goes off, while dodging Men on Fire. The trope recurs throughout the series, such as in Rhoemer's Base, also from the first game, and Aljir Prison and the Agency Biolab from the second game. Also in the second game, you revisit Pharcom Expo Center, and the route you take is roughly the reverse of that in the first game.
  • In Duke Nukem: Zero Hour, the third stage, "Nuclear Winter", is a reversed post-apocalyptic version of the first stage, "Mean Streets". After that is an alien-occupied version of the intro stage.
  • P.N.03 has this at the end of Level 9, itself a remixed version of Level 6, where you have five minutes to retrace your steps to the previously-locked exit after defeating the Load-Bearing Boss, and new enemies have appeared along the path.
  • In Mission: Impossible (N64), the second half(action) of the Embassy mission is a reverse of the first half(stealth), and the final mission revisits the submarine base from the first mission with a reversed path.

    Miscellaneous Games 
  • BIONICLE Heroes for the DS has a level which is one of the previous levels, only upside down.
  • Once the player has beaten all the planets on Thrust, they then get to replay them, except with gravity pulling the ship upward rather than downward.
  • The Magic Mirror in the Glider PRO room "Looking Glass" leads to an upside-down version called "ssalG gnikooL".
  • Pangya where several courses are other courses with tee and green swapped.


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