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Roboteching
Said of missiles or beam weapons that fire along trajectories that are at an unlikely angle off of their target, streak along for a fair distance, and then make sudden synchronized turns in order to actually bring themselves to bear and hit it. The individual missiles of a Macross Missile Massacre almost always robotech on their way to a target. Often, it seems the best (or only) way to avoid this or a Macross Missile Massacre is to perform a High-Speed Missile Dodge.

Named for the "adaptation" of several anime known as Robotech, in which the behavior was first seen in the West. Has nothing to do with the method in which said series was created.

Subtrope of Homing Projectile. When lasers do this, it's Homing Lasers. See also Magic Missile Storm, which is likely to involve this trope.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Used in Project A-Ko — though, oddly, a freeze-frame reveals the missiles to be cans of Coca-Cola.
  • In Transformers Energon, Wing Optimus's "Meteor Attack Mode" fires a Beam Spam along with a small Chest Blaster, which then absorbs the individual streams of energy to form an insanely powerful Wave Motion Gun.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, Piccolo becomes irritated at Android 17's ability to dodge his attacks, and develops the Hellzone Grenade, which fires a swarm of small energy blasts at seemingly random angles. They hover in a rough sphere around the target, at which point Piccolo exclaims "Try dodging this," and it goes boom.
    • Predictably enough, in the various Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi games the attack is perfectly dodgeable as long as you time it right.
      • Not in the Dragon Ball Z Budokai games (entirely different set of games, believe it or not). In those, you can only dodge the initial combo that triggers the cutscene-based attack. The only way Piccolo can screw it up then is if he fails the quicktime event, and even then, it only results in fewer grenades, not a dodge.
    • Another example with Piccolo occurred much earlier when he was still an antagonist in the 23rd Tenka'ichi Budokai, when he fires a powerful ki attack at Goku, leaving him to run and fly around the arena. Goku, however runs towards him, and Flash Steps out of the way, severely injuring Piccolo. Though, this is the first time Goku learned that it wasn't much of an inconvenience for Piccolo...
    • Goku was once able to control where his Kamehameha was going against Raditz.
      • He did it much earlier against Piccolo (the original one) in the first part of the series.
    • Yamcha's So Ki Dan (Spirit Ball in the English dub) which he could continuously redirect at its target.
  • In Space Runaway Ideon, the missiles Ideon fires act like this. When they are powered by the god-like Ide, they then fire off as beams of light, with 90-degree angles.
  • In her Pactio powered-up form, Chachamaru from the Mahou Sensei Negima! anime is seen using a roboteching Beam Spam attack that emerges from her back.
    • Most of Negi's magic missiles act this way too.
  • Done in Vandread with any kind of missile spam. The Nirvana does this with energy shots that can dodge friendly vehicles when properly targeted on the way to the enemy. An extreme example of gravitational lensing perhaps, although given the abilities of the shows Applied Phlebotinum, the Pixis, it could easily not have even a dubious scientific explanation. Then again, the standard guns of the Dread fighters display a more limited, but similar, principle.
  • In Gundam ZZ, the Psyco Gundam Mark II is supposed to do something similar with its beam weapons. It releases "mirrors" which are used to redirect the beam weapons around obstacles and from angles which regular pilots wouldn't expect.
    • Perhaps the first straight forward example of this for beam weapons goes to the Forbidden Gundam from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED which featured the deadly ability to curve it's beam cannon shots using its Mirage Colloid technology to bend the particles around the attack. On the flip side, it did the same thing to incoming beam attacks, bending them away from it so they couldn't hit.
    • The same system appears again in Gundam Unicorn, as part of the Shamblo. Here, as well as using it to confuse the opponent, it was also used to reflect incoming beam attacks back at the attacker.
    • This was touched on again in Gundam 00, where Louise Halevy's Regnant is shown to be extremely dangerous due to the fact that that the shots from its main beam cannon were able to change their paths multiple times.
      • From the same series, the Fangs: basically funnels with beam sabers built into them, designed to slice their target to pieces in close combat. It takes Soma Peries and a Bigger Stick mobile suit's inhuman reaction speed to even hit them.
    • Gundam AGE continues it with SID's beam weapons, which robotech all over the place. Justified in that SID is using Lost Technology that is far more advanced than what anyone else has.
  • Eureka Seven's Nirvash type theEND has a barrage of homing lasers. They all robotech. Sometimes they gather together and re-robotech. Pick any fight between theEND and anyone else. See for yourself.
  • The Divine Shooter/Axel Shooter spell of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha—magic missiles whose individual flight paths Nanoha can control to streak towards different targets.
  • The beam fired by the Psychogun in Space Adventure Cobra can swerve around obstacles to strike unerringly its target. Justified by it being a completely mind-controlled weapon, projecting his Qi life force as deadly beams.
  • In Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, Gokudera's Rocket Bomb attack does this with hand-thrown dynamite by having secondary and tertiary charges explode to allow him to control the trajectory. At least some mention is made of how difficult a technique this is.
  • TenRyuJin's 'Hikari to Yami no Mai' in GaoGaiGar FINAL does this — she fires off chaff missiles, then bounces maser shots off the chaff (based on an attack the first Bigbad of the series used). And yes, she does comment on how hard the calculations are. When EI-01 used it originally, he was using every computer in Tokyo as a distributed computing network to handle them.
  • Many of the ships in Gall Force do this too, as lasers will be shot out at right angles to their ship, and once clearing the hull profile, make a 90-degree turn forward to bombard their target.
  • In Strike Witches the neuroi attack using beams that robotech, even when the targets are very close.
  • In Pokémon Special, the Elite Four all have special powers from out of freaking nowhere, and Lance's is that his mons' Hyper Beams can robotech.
    • Even when they're not controlled by the computer, the Elite Four are cheating bastards!
    • And then in Best Wishes, we have the recent two part special wherein Landorus' Therian Forme uses Stone Edge, and the rocks fly all over the place seeking out Iris' Dragonite. Especially bizarre given no other Stone Edge has been shown to have this...effect.
  • Hikaru's Flame Arrows in Magic Knight Rayearth. Much more egregious in the OAV continuity where, even though they're shot straight at an enemy, the fire bursts robotech around and past the target and then strike it in the back.
  • In Uchuu Senkan Yamato, Gamilus uses mirror satellites to direct their reflex cannon at the Yamato even when it is on the other side of a planet from their base. Fridge Logic asks, if they have something that Frickin' Laser Beams just bounce right off of, why not use it for shields? Eventually the good guys do exactly this to defend against the Desler Cannon. It's a pretty awesome Deus ex Machina, but it doesn't explain why the Gamilusians didn't think of it first.
    • Of course, any surface that can reflect combat lasers is scientifically wrong. Only partially focused beams would be reflected easily (which is how mirror sattelites would work); fully focused beams used to cause actual damage would roast any mirror in microseconds.
  • The recent Neon Genesis Evangelion remake features a bunch of missiles fired at Ramiel that behave this way—fired straight up into the sky and suddenly execute a 90-degree turn to aim at the target.
    • And the third film follows right up with an Angel-like entity that behaves not unlike a funnel, repeatedly pulling off downright insane high-speed turns as it charges at Unit-02.
  • Similarly, some robot-controlled planes in RahXephon are launched straight upwards and suddenly turn downwards to attack their target from above.
  • Beams fired by Nobles' ships in Wolf's Rain will maneuver quite extensively to track their target, if they don't hit it straight. At one point, a single beam splits in two to hit different targets.
  • The missile attacks in the third episode of Martian Successor Nadesico are intentionally choreographed to the point of outright parody as part of the show's affectionate tweaking of classic super robot anime tropes.
  • In Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, Shigure managed to pull this off with shuriken!

    Comic Books 
  • A deliberate ability of Darkseid's Omega blast, from The DCU. He targets exactly where he wants it to go, and it will avoid obstacles in the way.
  • Also seen in the Ultimate Nullifer in the Marvel Universe.
  • In the earlier issues of Image Comics' Stormwatch, Flashpoint (one of the members of Stormwatch Prime) also had the ability to control the direction and intensity of his eye blasts. It was very cool. Too bad the character was a prime Jerkass and The Mole (actually, all three members of Stormwatch Prime were moles, but he was the only one who enjoyed it and stayed evil. He got his in the end, too.)

    Film 
  • The Fifth Element has a BFG that, among other functions, does this with bullets.
    • Notably though, one has to make the first shot connect. After that, aiming becomes irrelevant.
  • In the film adaptation of the comic book Wanted, this is the power of all the main characters. They do it with bullets. Fired from regular guns.
  • District 9 does this in the climactic battle involving with MNU against the Powered Armor—the missiles it fires Robotech around the buildings hitting near the mercenaries.
  • The film Runaway includes a handgun that fires target-seeking minimissiles.
  • There looks to be some of this in the upcoming Battle: Los Angeles

    Literature 
  • The Honor Harrington novels portray the anti-ship missiles as having to make various last-second maneuvering to counter their targets' attempt at a High-Speed Missile Dodge (usually involving a ship either pitching or rolling to interpose their impenetrable wedge), though the descriptions of this gradually disappear from the narrative over the course of the series. Later books introduce multi-stage missiles and off-bore firing capacity, allowing both broadsides to be delivered to a target without fancy maneuvers to bring them directly to bear. Later Apollo Technology is designed with very long range control allowing the missiles to go ballistic before engaging the third drive allowing Roboteching over several light minutes. However, there is no "vertical" launch system for missiles because there is not enough clearance to activate the missile drive before it crashes into the ship's own wedge.
  • The Sten novels feature a sniper rifle capable of curving the trajectory of its bullet. It's used to shoot people who are hiding behind corners.
  • In Vernor Vinge's The Peace War, the Tinkers have come up with smart bullets that can be fired from a machine pistol. Lock in your targets, blind-fire one burst in their general direction - and twenty Technology Gestapo hit the ground minus their heads!

    Live-Action TV 
  • Red Dwarf: The episode Polymorph features bazookoid weapons that fire heat-seeking laser bolts, which are eventually trapped going round and round in a circle on a deserted deck and eventually pop up as a Chekhov's Gun to kill the enemy. Unusually, the novelization still calls them laser bolts and does not substitute something more scientifically accurate, which it does for several other technologies from the series.
  • One episode of Airwolf had a missile fired in very approximately the direction of the enemy ground troops. They laughed when they saw the missile's flight path wouldn't bring it near enough to hurt them. Then the gunner activated the terminal-guidance laser....
  • Kamen Rider Double's Luna Trigger form fires Roboteching energy bullets; its Maximum Drive, Trigger Full Burst, fires a barrage of them.
  • In the Stargate Verse, Ancient Drone weapons are mentally controlled by the one who fires them, and are extremely maneuverable, resulting in some seriously impressive Roboteching at times. They've been known to loop around friendlies, blast through enemies, then turn around to hit them again.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Tau Smart Missile Systems in Warhammer 40,000 are said to work like this. Units with a Markerlight can designate a target, allowing a nearby Skyray to shoot it even without line of sight.
    • Several other factions have their own analogues, like the Imperial Hunter-Seeker missiles or Ork Grot Bomms. That latter is particularly notable since it is actually piloted by a Grot, each one is a volunteer that the Ork meks conveniently forget to tell, or just won't bother informing, that it's a one way trip.
  • Rare fantasy example: The Egyptian-themed undead Tomb Kings in Warhammer field archers equipped with magic arrows that, in the fluff, do exactly this- at some points they even soar past the target entirely, only to change direction in mid-air and hit enemies in the back. In the actual game, this is represented by their having no positive or negative modifiers to hit, ever.
  • One of the Champions rulebooks has statistics for an energy beam that follows the target until it hits. The rules were complex enough to defy even Champions attack powers, so the designers wrote it up as a summoned creature instead.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has a (fairly high-level) effect that modifies a normal ranged spell to keep trying if it misses the target. Under the right set of circumstances, you can have Disintegrate rays doing loops around a target until the duration expires or the target is hit.
    • This is also often an explanation given by GM's and some source materials as to why the spell Magic Missile (and, in certain versions, some higher level versions) ALWAYS hits its target.
  • Mutants & Masterminds supports three different feats for this. Indirect lets you explicitly avoid obstacles between you and the target. Ricochet allows one bounce per level. Homing makes the attack continue trying to hit after you fire it off.
  • While standard BattleTech missiles are generally not depicted as doing this, capital missiles (used by large spacecraft) of the tele-operated kind maneuver more like fighters and can execute course corrections for as long as their fuel lasts. Strategic Operations adds more options such as bearing-only launches (where a capital missile flies to a predetermined waypoint and only then goes live and locks onto the nearest eligible target).
  • Star Fleet Battles either averts this or plays it straight, depending both on how many drones (missiles) are used, and how clever you are at utilizing the rules. (The rules require that drones always move towards their target at every opportunity, which limits Roboteching. However, if there are a lot of drones, there's a number of tactics involving small, transporter-layed mines that can really spoil your day that Roboteching can seriously blunt.)

    Video Games 
  • In Gunstar Heroes, the chaser weapon homes in on enemies. Combined with lightning, you have a laser that makes constant 90 degree turns.
  • In Angry Birds, the main gimmick of the boomerang bird is to do this.
  • Project Sylpheed, in this game there was a dumb fire rocket with no visible exhaust that after a couple of seconds would explode into 4 smaller homing missiles with huge streaking contrails. You could truly robotech by firing dozens of the dumb fire rockets at a time with missiles targeted to home on multiple different enemy fighters.
  • The Annihilator Beam in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is capable of this.
    • Also occurs with missiles and the wave beam in the first.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The Temple Of Elemental Evil had the Magic Missile spell animated like this. Considered a very cool effect for the spell by even table-top D&D players. The effect is similar to the spell's depiction in Baldur's Gate, and Neverwinter Nights.
  • Similar to the Magic Missiles, one of the Ghost elemental mage spells, Soul Strike, in the MMORPG Ragnarok Online summons a varying number of white glowing orbs which then streak towards the target.
  • The swarm-firing missiles in space sim Descent: Freespace and its sequels. More advanced versions even corkscrew all the way to their targets. Later games in the Wing Commander series also included this trope.
  • Zone of the Enders and its sequel had Jehuty, the player's Humongous Mecha, equipped with a laser weapon whose beams Roboteched out of thin air to home in on locked targets, in a bright-blue rendition of a Macross Missile Massacre.
  • A weapon type in the Galaxy Angel games known as a "laser phalanx" is a Roboteching beam shot. Forte Stollen's Limit Break is a whole Macross Missile Massacre of them.
  • Jumpman has projectiles that move slowly from the side of the screen. Once they get a clear aim at him (i.e. save horizontal/vertical position), they accelerate and move in.
  • Several warships in the Xenosaga series fire beams at angles away from the ship, which then make a sharp angled turn straight ahead.
    • This also occurs in the anime Gall Force, although the "lasers" may actually be cheaply-animated missiles.
      • No, their missiles Roboteched the traditional way. Those were definitely beams. You could even see them tearing through the ships they hit.
  • Taito's Ray Series (Ray Force, Ray Storm, and Ray Crisis) and several other shmups by them have Roboteching lasers sometimes fired by enemies.
    • Crimzon Clover took heavy inspiration from this, but with more lasers - an adept player can fire about 30 homing lasers in one second.
  • Command & Conquer Red Alert 2 had the Russian Dreadnoughts do this when they were facing away from their target. It would make more sense if they tracked...
    • MLRS units can also do this in some games of the series, as well as in other games. World in Conflict, for example.
    • This is a default behavior for games using the Red Alert 2 / Tiberian Sun engine. If an ordinary missile (ie. one that does not have a model like V3s) has its target destroyed before impact, it will Robotech vertically upwards and explode harmlessly.
  • Quake IV has a modification to the nailgun that allows doing this with nails.
    • One of the recurring enemies, that looks like a Spider Mech, does a two-rocket version of this to you. What said barrage does in quality-per-missile makes up for its quantity.
  • In the Super Robot Wars Original Generation Divine Wars (yes, that's the title) Cybuster's Cosmo Nova special attack is depicted as a Roboteched Beam Spam.
  • You can Robotech the shots of the RPG in both Half-Life and Half-Life 2 by waving the laser targeting. It's actually necessary in the second generation, as gunships will try to shoot your missiles down, and they will succeed if you aim them in a straight line.
  • Shows up in Devil May Cry with the "Hysteric" cluster micro missiles of Kalina Ann and the missile platform mode of Pandora's Box.
  • Ikaruga features a cluster of lasers fired from the back of the ship, which arc around towards its targets.
  • The Homing Laser in Lost Planet does this, but with four lasers at once.
  • In Unreal Tournament 2004 (through the ECE Bonus Pack) and Unreal Tournament III, the Cicada's rockets robotech somewhat madly, but, if given enough time, usually end up at the spot crosshair.
    • Likewise in both games, the AVRiL anti-vehicle missiles only home in to a vehicle while you're aiming at it, allowing you to turn them at the last minute, making them harder to dodge or shoot down. Further, the target only receives a "Missile Lock" warning when you are tracking them, making it a viable strategy to dumb-fire a rocket to near the target and only lock on when it is close by.
  • A late weapon in the X-Com games was a guided rocket launcher that you set waypoints for the rocket to pass through before striking its target. More specifically, the first game had the Blaster Launcher while the second had the similar Disruptor Pulse Torpedo Launcher.
    • The weapon wasn't perfectly accurate, which caused Robo Teching to actually be the most effective way to use it. Many players will give it a waypoint twenty feet above the target's head, then another waypoint right on the target, causing the missile to arc over them and then slam down, so that even if it misses by a few squares, it still hits the ground and explodes.
    • X-Com Interceptor had a missile with vector thrusters. It was designed to be capable of extremely sharp 180° turns thus outmaneuvering it is impossible.
    • For that matter, Metal Gear Solid 2 had a missile that, once fired, the player would control in first person view. One puzzle required the player to guide said missile through a maze of ventilation ducts.
  • Shows up to an extent in the early Harry Potter games, where spells will curve toward the nearest available target.
  • Homeworld 2's Vaygrs love to use missiles. Their missiles often overshoot their targets. What does the missile do? Robotech their way to the original target. Original target died before the missiles reach? Robotech again to the nearest enemy craft.
    • Eh, not really. The missiles of the Hiigaran Torpedo Frigate are the only ones which find a new target if the original is gone. Vaygr fusion missiles are not that advanced. On the other hand, missiles in the first two games also did this, though the Missile Destroyer's Secondary Fire greatly decreased their Roboteching capabilities in favor of a higher output rate.
  • In Fable, the arrows generated by the "multi-shot" spell do this on their way to the target.
  • Drakengard's Dragon has a lock-on attack that fires several fireballs that robotech. The Chaos Evolution of the Dragon has fireballs that robotech in straighter lines with more angular turns.
  • Worms 2 and Armageddon have a homing missile which does this — the best method is to fire it straight up in the air at maximum power, then watch it lock on and abruptly change direction half a second later.
    • Armageddon also has the Magic Bullet that is Roboteching set to eleven.
  • The Drunken Missile launcher in Rise of the Triad fires a salvo of missiles which fly in random directions until they sense a target, at which point they converge on the target from all angles making it difficult to avoid all of them.
  • Missiles in Sword of the Stars are one of the few weapons that don't need a direct line of sight to the target and robotech to their target after clearing the firing ship. Beware that they don't crash into other ships before they can start turning if your formation's too tight, though. Planetary defense missiles take it further: they not only robotech after launching from the poles of the planet, but if their target is destroyed, they glide for a bit, criss-crossing where the last target was if they were close enough, and robotech to the next target. Against a fleet of weak destroyers, a planetary defense missile may do this several times before hitting something.
  • In Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare the Javelin missile launcher does this, quickly popping up after being fired and then slamming down on the targeted tank from almost directly above; see Truth in Television examples.
  • Higurashi Daybreak has this, in the form of Rika's charged ranged attack. She fires a bunch of purple missiles that robotech to the person you're currently locked on to.
  • Every single ranged attack in the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game Cityof Heroes, without fail, will do this if the mob moves. Then again, this is less deliberate than the result of locked-on targeting — even if the damage of the attack misses the animation usually won't.
    • Especially obvious if the target teleports while the attack is in flight; partnering a sniping power with Teleport Foe often resulted in the over powered attack making u-turn.
    • The Bullet Rain power in the Dual Pistols set does this whether or not the target moves; your character fires a spray of bullets in a cone, which then all arch back toward your target, hitting them and the targets around them.
  • Used by the Galbadian ICBMs in Final Fantasy VIII.
  • The Wind Laser in Axelay shoots four beams from the aft of the ship, then they curve forward to hit what's in front.
  • Hit detection for non-ballistic long-range attacks in World of Warcraft is done upon firing. If the target moves, the projectile will track the target until it hits, even ignoring obstacles. In earlier patches, this also applied to beam-type spells like the warlock's Drain Life or the mage's Arcane Missiles. As long as the magic-user could start casting the spell, it would continue to hit the target, no matter how far the target moved.
    • Fun fact: a player on an upgraded flying mount (which allows one to travel at about 4x normal speed and... well, fly) is faster than most spell "missiles". It's possible to actually string missiles along behind you if you fly far enough. You'll take damage from the spell pretty soon even if it doesn't catch you, but the visual effect will keep following.
  • Mechwarrior 2 and 3 do this with Long Range Missile pods and guided (Streak) Short Range Missiles. 2's expansion pack especially - the player can tag the target Beagle Active Probe, turn 180 degrees away, and fire the pod, and missiles will immediately do a "Fifth Element" impression. In MechWarrior Living Legends, one can easily make missiles Robotech by turning on the TAG laser guidance beam once the missiles are already airborne - which will cause the missiles to abruptly swerve to hit the TAG beam. Or you can simply toss a NARC missile beacon on yourself and fire your missiles for maximum Macross Missile Massacre.
  • This is the key ability of the Ace Combat QAAMs, given how wimpy the standard missiles are at tracking and staying with targets. Some anti-ground missiles also make sharp turns to hit their targets from above. You also sometimes have cruise missiles leading you on a rather spinny chase.
    • A better example would be the CFA-44's All Direction Multi-Purpose Missiles from Ace Combat 6, which launch at unlikely angles at the target.
  • The early Mac game Airborne! (lone anti-aircraft gunner in the corner vs. the world) gave you the option of guided or unguided shells. With the former, the mouse controlled all friendly bullets on the screen as a unit, turning them into an undulating wave.
  • This trope is practically Kefka's entire moveset in Dissidia: Final Fantasy.
    • Also, if Jecht's Limit Break is successfully pulled off, rather than simply kicking a meteor into an opponent it splits into several fireballs which all robotech into the opponent for massive damage.
  • R-Type. Your "lasers" sure do make some fancy designs when they're fired. For example, red lasers fires twin, interlocking sine waves of red and blue energy, blue lasers bounce around the environment, and yellow lasers Wall Crawl the floor and cieling. Later installment include powerups that include green lasers which change direction 45 degrees to hit enemy ships, and grey lasers that act like shotgun shells. By R-Type Final, every one of 101 ships have some physics-defying effect that comes from a so-called "laser", although this may have something to do with filtering the light through a colored crystal and a baby Eldritch Abomination.
  • Infantry anti-tank missiles in Battlefield 2 and 2142 can be guided in-flight by the player. While their turning ability is limited, it is quite possible to jink them around corners and low walls to hit a target behind it. The helicopter-mounted TV-guided missiles in the hands of a skilled player is capable of some pretty impressive roboteching, such as turning around and hitting targets behind the helicopter, and maneuvering around buildings to hit a hiding tank.
    • In Battlefield: Bad Company 2, players can unlock a dart gun that allows friendly engineers to lock their missile launchers on to enemy vehicles... Or other enemy players. Because the dart gun is so accurate, it makes it an effective way of dealing with snipers.
      • The fact that the Tracer Dart would appear as a giant flashing light in the Sniper's screen would also make him well aware of his inevitable fate.
  • Battlefront 2 plays this trope straight and averts it. Interceptor fighters' and Imperial and CIS shuttles have small guided missiles that can sometimes dodge around things to catch their targets (though their targets are more maneuverable), while normal anti-tank rockets mostly just travel in a straight line. Though, both of them can curve automatically with a lock-on, so its not wholly unjustified.
  • The Bullseye of Resistance does this with bullets much like The Fifth Element. You shoot a tag onto an enemy and all bullets head directly to said target regardless of trajectory.
    • A particularly amusing trick is as follows: tag a wall. Fire off a clip or so and watch as the bullets swarm around the tag. Tag an enemy and see all the bullets head to their new target en masse.
  • Tyrian calls these 'semi-seeking missiles'. They fly vertically down the screen, in the scrolling direction, then when they're level with the player, they turn through 90 degrees and fly towards him.
  • In Red Dead Redemption, thanks to a Good Bad Bug that involves the lead character's Bullet Time, you can induce this behavior in thrown projectiles and explosives, making them perfect anti-air and anti-ground weapons.
  • Genetos, as a homage to Ikaruga, features the same style of weapon, simply called Laser, and unlocked in stage 3.
  • Otomedius features Roboteching in the form of Anoa Aoba's Dynamic Burst, which combines roboteching lasers with Stuff Blowing Up.
  • In the FunOrb game "Arcanists," several arcane spells fire homing energy attacks that can turn on a dime to hit enemies around a corner.
  • In the Metal Slug series, certain weapons (both player and enemy) are capable of this, such as those from Morden's gunship, jetpack bombs (MS 3), and BIG Enemy Chasers.
  • In the Panzer Dragoon series, the player characters and the forth game's final boss do this with their "homing lasers" (telekinetically-guided blasts of plasma).
  • In Conduit 2, Shrieker shots can be steered by the player after firing.
    • Also, the Hive Cannon allows targets to be tagged with sticky bait; subsequent shots will veer around obstacles as needed.
  • In Shadows Of The Damned, The Teether's final upgrade, The Dentist does this.
  • Rare non-missile example: the Raiden series has a roboteching laser, which is able to twist and turn in all sorts of improbable shapes to hit targets once they've been locked on.
  • Another non-missile example is shown in Mega Man Network Transmission. Both Brightman and Bass use lasers that adjust angle mid-flight; Bright's lasers adjust themselves once by 45-degree angles, and Bass's twice by 90-degree angles.
  • In Bulletstorm you can robotech your sniper rifle bullet, in Bullet Time.
  • All ranged and magic attacks in RuneScape follow this trope when attacking a moving player or monster.
  • Guided missiles in the X-Universe games fire from ventrally-mounted, forward-facing tubes (or flank-mounted tubes, in the case of missile frigates) and immediately curve off after the target. Leads to some spectacular visuals when you're dealing with swarm missiles, which tend to fly in a spiral pattern and close in on their target from all directions.
  • Missiles in Escape Velocity likewise fire forward, then curve off after their target.
    • Averted in the open-source EV clone Naev. Missiles require a lock, and a lock requires a ship to be pointing in the target's general direction. Due to the difficulties capital ships have with this, if they carry missiles they're usually mounted on turrets.
  • In Syndicate (2012) the gauss gun's rounds can do this, although too radical turns are impossible.
  • Missiles and other homing projectiles in P.N.03 usually behave like this.
  • The Missile weapon in Fester's Quest.
  • The scram cannon in Oni does this. The small macross missiles fire out lazily in an unfocused ring, then after about half a second the warheads arm and the missiles lock on to anyone nearby.
  • In Kingdom Hearts 3D, the Thunderaffe dream eater's Refract Beam attack does this constantly, pausing each time it moves to readjust its trajectory so it's heading straight for the target.
  • Minogame's "Reality Hedge" from Hellsinker cranks this trope up a notch. Not only dont the lasers fly straight, they home in on targets and when they reach one they stick to it and tears its health down until the target dies. After that the lasers disslodge themselves and then moves over to other targets and repeats the cycle.
  • The Bradley-Hercules satellite in Fallout 3: Broken Steel fires missiles in this manner, as seen when it destroys Liberty Prime and when you use it on the Enclave's Base on Wheels at the end.
  • Rollcage has the Leader missile, which will home in on the first car in the race. It has perfect guidance and follows the track exactly, cannot be diverted or shot down, and when it reaches the leading car it'll overtake, pull an instant 180° and slam into its target. If you hear the telltale warning sound and you're first, you can either allow someone to pass you or try to get as much distance between you and the second as you can so you can recover in time. Needless to say, firing the Leader missile when you're the leader is... counter-productive.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Fate/stay night, Lancer has the ability to do this with his lance! To be more specific, his Noble Phantasm, Gae Bolg, reverses cause and effect: the opponent's heart is pierced, and then the lance strikes. Reality literally rewrites itself so that no matter what, the lance will hit. It is impossible to dodge, although having an insane amount of luck may mean that it "only" impales you and misses your heart, rather than piercing the heart directly.

    Webcomics 
  • We see a Medieval Bamboo Technology version of this in Tales of the Questor, here.
  • Schlock Mercenary touches on this behavior at some points, with a possible justification. Missiles can be fired in "random walk" mode, presumably involving repeated and sudden changes in velocity as they close with their targets, in order to make it harder for point defense to shoot them down.

    Western Animation 
  • Subverted in an episode of Powerpuff Girls. A humongous mecha tries to perform a Macross Missile Massacre, but all of the missiles just fly straight past its target, or in some cases, curve wildly and hit anything else.
  • Occurs pretty frequently in the DCAU. In one episode, they were lasers fired out of a disco ball. In both Justice League and Superman: The Animated Series, Darkseid shows off his zig-zagging Omega Beams mentioned in the comics section.
    • In the Superman series, he uses this to pull quite a Player Punch moment, as before Darkseid is forced to leave he lets out a final blast that heads towards Superman (who we had seen it would merely hurt, not kill), then it zig-zags right around him, keeps going, and disintegrates "Terrible" Turpin.
    • Of course, Batman being the goddamn Batman that he is, he manages to dodge them. Darkseid is really impressed.
      • To drive home that point, Batman has to do a lot of evasive maneuvering and a blind jump to evade it. And then he still needs to let a Mook take the hit. And he's so close to the impact that he's blown into a pile of rubble. Still Darkseid gives Batman props.
  • Following the precedent established in earlier D&D video games, Raistlin's Magic Missile spell does this in the animated version of the first Dragonlance novel.

    Real Life 
  • Despite public perception to the contrary, certain missiles actually behave almost like this. While they are not fired in massive salvos, as in Robotech, often a missile will waver back and forth in flight a moment as its guidance system makes gross corrections.
    • More directly analogous, many missiles launched out of vertical tubes on warships will robotech almost exactly: the missile goes straight up (to clear the ship), then abruptly change direction. On their final approach to a ship, they will "pop-up and dive" onto the top of the vessel. Some anti-tank missiles will do the same thing, flying over the tank then dropping straight down.
    • The AIM-54 Phoenix long-range air-to-air missile was designed to climb to high altitude immediately after launch, in order to take advantage of the thinner, less draggy upper atmosphere. When approaching the enemy it would perform a diving attack from high altitude, striking the unfortunate target before it knew what was coming.
    • American cruise missiles became famous for traveling to Baghdad, flying down a street, then almost stopping at a cross street while slowly turning to face another direction before streaking to the target.
      • The BBC's Foreign Affairs Chief John Simpson reported seeing a cruise missile in Baghdad fly "down the street and turn left at the traffic lights."
      • A Bloom County comic strip even depicted a missile stopping to ask for directions, "Excuse, please, which way to Saddam Hussein?"
      • This is pretty much the entire point of cruise missiles.
    • The AIM-9 Sidewinder missile series reputedly got its official designation from the side-to-side wavering performed by early models, similar to that of the Sidewinder snake. "Top attack" missiles designed to fly straight to a target, climb to a high altitude nearby, and "drop" on top of enemies are a standard of NATO military forces, under the rationale "people don't armour the top sections of tanks as much as the front or sides."
      • The top of the tank is almost always the weakest point, and tanks have not been redesigned since these missiles have begun to be deployed en mass. However, it is likely that newer tank designs will sport significantly stronger armor on the top because of this trend.
    • The latest variant of the Sidewinder, the AIM-9X, has an ability to be aimed via a helmet-mounted sight and obtain lock-ons from almost 90 degrees off the direction of the firing fighter's nose. Furthermore, it can robotech a full 180 degrees off its rail to pursue a target. Check it out here.
    • The Russian Vympel R-73/AA-11 Archer is also aimed by a helmet-mounted sight, can can "see" targets up to 60° off the missile's centerline - and entered service 18 years earlier. After NATO learned about the capabilities of this missile, development of the AIM-9X, the IRIS-T and others was started.
      • The Archer doesn't quite have the same ability to dog a target from hilariously unlikely angles as the -9X, that said. But again—18 years earlier.
    • Any of the swarm rocket launchers or calliopes from WWII did this — though not on purpose, because of technical limitations on the rockets themselves (designed to be cheap, easily-produced area denial weapons). This is lampshaded in the histories by saying that the weapons "were not terribly accurate". Examples being the Katyusha rocket launchers from Russia, the Nebelwerfer rocket mortar from Germany, and the Calliope tank-mounted rocket launcher of the Allies.
    • Pretty much the point of guided weapons period.Thrust vectoring and hover/loiter capabilities on newer missile designs will most certainly take future ordnance in this direction.
    • One of the most impressive examples hitherto documented on video: the IDF Iron Dome countermissile system, shown here intercepting a multitude of unguided rockets at once.
  • Modern torpedoes behave like this. The United States Navy's ASROC weapon system fires a rocket off a destroyer/cruiser on a ballistic path that drops a torpedo into the water miles away. The torpedo will then go around in one of several search patterns so the torpedo's sonar system can lock on to the target sub before finally closing to attack.
  • The AGM-114 Hellfire antitank missile can be launched without a target lock. In LOAL (Lock-On After Launch) attack mode it will shoot high (up to 2300 feet (700 meters) in the LOAL-high attack mode) and after the aircrew or a land-based crew designates its target it will robotech downwards to attack the target from above. Very handy if the helicopter pilot wants to hide behind a mountain to avoid enemy Anti-Air defenses.
  • The CBU-07 Sensor Fuzed Weapon. It dispenses 10 submunitions, each containing 4 individually auto-targetting, self-guiding skeets. They have a VERY complicated way of maneuvering themselves at each stage so that they can effectively saturate an armored force over a substantial area.
  • The M982 Excalibur is a GPS-guided artillery shell that can robotech mid flight to curve around obstacles. In one of the tests the shell was deliberately fired 4 miles off target and was still able to strike within a few feet of the bullseye.
  • The Russian P-700 Granit takes the missile swarm thing one step further. While it's possible to fire just one, they are meant to be fired together in packs: One will take the lead and pop up now and then to acquire targets; the others stay as low as possible. When they get close, they get assigned different targets and veer off to hit theirs.
  • Any missile with a top attack mode, like the FGM-148 Javelin does this to a certain degree. When firing in top-attack mode, missile go up a long way, then shoot back down to hit the top of tanks, but they aren't fired in that trajectory. They just first straight, then the missile does the rest.
  • The latest in Homing Projectile technology is a self-guiding bullet equipped with a targeting laser, an eight-bit CPU, and movable fins.
  • The EXACTO project funded by DARPA is this for bullets, and they've even tested working prototypes.
    • In the meantime, the Italians already field it for their Super Rapid 76mm and 127/64 Lightweight multi-purpose naval guns (the guided munitions are for long-range point defence).
    • And to continue the long Italian tradition of Combat Pragmatism in an era where some of the earlier tricks are done by everyone or would be war crimes, Iveco (maker of the Centauro tank destroyer) and OTO Melara gave us the Porcupine: a prototype consisting of a Centauro chassis mated with a 155/39mm howitzer capable of firing homing shells to targets up to 60 km away. And the ability to hit the poor target with four of them at the same time. Let's face it: when they go at war, the Italians are assholes.
  • A gravity turn is visually similar even if the intended outcome is a bit different.

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alternative title(s): Swerving Projectile; Projectile Swerve
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