Think you're the good guy?
Your quest is so right,
You can't go left.
In a video game, Ratchet Scrolling occurs when the game screen only scrolls in one direction and prevents the player from backtracking.
This is similar to an Auto-Scrolling Level
, except that the scrolling does not occur by itself, but in response to the player's movement through the level. Like the nature of a mechanical ratchet
, it scrolls forward freely as the player moves, but 'locks' in place and prevents the player from backtracking.
Lesser versions may allow the player some degree of backtracking, but only to a certain distance or recent checkpoints, while the most extreme versions will keep your character near the left edge of the screen, giving them very little room to move around without ratcheting the screen further.
This is often a Classic Video Game Screw You
, especially when the screen is ratcheted vertically, where any platforms that disappear even a few pixels off the screen edge may leave Bottomless Pits
in their wake, in defiance of all logic.
In early video games, Ratchet Scrolling was a way to improve performance. If the player could only scroll in one direction, game objects and enemies could be created when they enter the screen and erased as soon as they scroll out, reducing memory usage. A Forgotten Trope
now, but was once common, particularly in Platform Games
Note that the name has nothing to do with a certain Autobot Medic
or the Ratchet & Clank
open/close all folders
- Battletoads for the Game Boy, NES, etc. However, some levels were free-scrolling.
- Almost all Beat-em-Ups and Action Games with platforming elements in the arcade will do this to you.
- All Nintendo-era Contra games featured both varieties of this. Not funny when in a vertical shaft, and you fell off the platforms...
- Super Castlevania IV has vertical ratchet scrolling, making for a few obnoxious challenges if you jump to an area and it ratchets due to overjumping.
- Metal Shark Player's level of Mega Man X6, the second section has you ratcheted, in contrast to the rest of the game (note that if taking the "alternate" second section, it will be auto-scrolling instead.)
- Kick Master doesn't let you go backward; while it's a largely linear game, there are many hidden items that can be missed.
- Layla for the NES, which can lead to some unwinnable situations.
- Amagon featured this as well, one of the last NES games to do so (released in Japan in December of 1988).
- The original Glider had this.
- Pretty much all Action 52 side scrollers. Can get you stuck in an Unwinnable situation, as in Dam Busters and Non Human.
- Super Mario Bros.
- Usually averted in the Sonic the Hedgehog games, but the Master System version of the first game has Bridge Zone Act 2 and Jungle Zone Act 2; the former automatically scrolls right and the latter doesn't scroll down. The latter is thankfully averted in the Game Gear version.
- One subversion is in the original trilogy, where when you get to the end of a level or to a boss fight (the latter of which is easily identified by the last checkpoint), there's a point of no return coded in so you can't backtrack.
- Syobon Action abuses it to torment the player.
- Ren & Stimpy: Space Cadet Adventures
- A LittleBigPlanet level entitled "When things don't go right, go left" is effectively a basic platformer, apart from the fact you scrolled left.
- The Kaizo Mario inspired level of Pickory will only scroll to the right, but you can backtrack up to half a screen. One trap can only be avoided by exploiting the scrolling and the fact that anything that goes off the left side of the screen is destroyed.
- Adventure Island I and III feature this. II has arbitrary points after which the screen couldn't scroll backwards anymore, but otherwise scrolling is two-directional. III has two-directional vertical scrolling and the only time there was two-directional horizontal scrolling was in stage 2-6.
- Kid Kool, obviously modeled on the example of Super Mario Bros., disallowed going backwards. Its Spiritual Successor Psycho Fox followed suit.
- Kid Icarus is notorious for its vertical ratchet scrolling - if you fall (and don't have a feather) you die instantly and have to repeat the level. Even if there was a platform just off the screen. Your little wings are no good for flying. This was removed in the sequel, Of Myths and Monsters.
- The escape from Wily's castle in Rockman 4 Minus Infinity uses this, though granted there's no reason for backtracking anyway.
- The platforming stages of Alex Kidd: High-Tech World. (Other stages require backtracking.)
- The Super Mario World Game Mod Hammer Brother Demo 3 has this. Unfortunately, it sucks as a result, because you have to go left or backwards at certain points, making it extremely easy to get stuck at random.
- The level called Kinder Surprise in Something uses this particular gimmick. It makes dodging the Kinder Surprise eggs much harder. Also, Mario can take the wrong path at some points, but fortunately the are reset doors available.
- All of the platformer games in Action 52 use this. One of it's top view games, Dam Busters, also has this, and it can easily get you stuck in an area that keeps you from moving forward, forcing you to reset the game.
Shoot Em Up
- Done in the Video Mode for Gottlieb's Super Mario Bros., which features a simplified Super Mario Bros. video game.
- The Video Mode for Harley Davidson: Third Edition has an isometric scrolling road that only goes forward.
- Done in the Video Mode of Doctor Who, done similarly to the Mario example above.