main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Spread Shot

When you're fighting a group of Mooks, sometimes, a rocket launcher or a machine gun may not be be able to cut it, as the enemies are far too spread out.

The Solution? The Spread Shot!

The spread shot can come in three different flavours:

Initial Burst: The attack is fired out in a spread of bullets forward, usually in a uniform spread. This makes it easier to hit enemies spread out too far. Furthermore, these attacks can usually be shotgunned into a larger Mook, possibly causing more than three times the damage. If you are doing this with a bow, you are doing a Multishot.

Spray Burst: Only one bullet is fired out at a time, but in rapid succession. Unlike an ordinary machine gun, the shots are spread out a lot more.

Exploding Shot: The player fires out an initial shot. When it hits an enemy or a wall (or given enough time), a burst of shots come out and the initial projectile disappears. Recursive Ammo can be this.

Usually, this sort of attack can lead to a Game Breaker weapon, especially in games where most of the mooks die in one hit, such as the Spread shot in the original Contra. In other cases, getting point-blank to the enemy and firing will result in very fast kills (though this is usually suicidal for the inexperienced). The problem arises in games where each individual shot is weak, and therefore, a point-blank shot may actually be the best option.

See also Shotguns Are Just Better.

Examples of the Initial Burst:

  • The famous Game Breaker spread shot in the original Contra mowed down enemies effortlessly.
    • The flash game Super Mario Bros Crossover includes Bill from Contra as a playable character. Fire Flowers give him the spreader, which is, if anything, even more of a game breaker in what is supposed to be a Mario game.
      • A trailer for the game's first update was going through the upgrades each of the heroes got. When it got to Bill, they just showed a montage of him destroying everything with the Spread Gun and concluded that Bill doesn't get an upgrade because he doesn't need it.
  • Shoot Em Ups are rife with these, for both the player and the enemies.
    • Recca has the 'V' weapon and the 'F' weapon. When fully powered up, 'V' fires 5 shots in a forward spread while 'F' fires a 3-way forward and a 2-way backwards.
    • Touhou games have a few examples:
      • The homing-shot type Reimu has on older Touhou games (9 downwards) is heavily spread. She has a primary three-way o-fuda shot and a secondary o-fuda shot that spreads all over the screen and home on the nearest target. Later installments have her with both streams shooting straight-forward instead of spreading. The blue o-fuda still homes, though.
      • Sakuya A on Perfect Cherry Blossom gets knives that spread all over the screen and home on the nearest target, but only if the target can be found within a 60º arch from Sakuya. Sakuya B, though more focused, still spreads terribly and the shots rotate with Sakuya's movement; given the fact that focusing fixes the position of some of the knives, it's possible to cover great portions of the screen in knives.
      • Sakuya on Imperishable Night gets a wide-spread shot that doesn't home, which comes to balance the heavily focused shots Remilia has. Similarly, Yuyuko gets a dense butterfly wall for a shot type, in opposition of Youmu's precise slash shots.
      • Reimu C's Youkai Buster formation on Mountain of Faith gets her a non-homing variation of her previous formations, where she shoots purple o-fuda on at least 5 different directions and covering much of the screen, but just as long as she's focused. While unfocused, this same shot behaves as a non-homing variation of Reimu A's shot.
      • Marisa A gets a couple of burst-type formations if she chooses Patchouli as a partner — the water formation in particular covers most of the screen in front of Marisa at higher levels. She can also get a widespread shot formation when selecting Alice as a partner, but her shots are only spread when Marisa focuses.
      • Marisa B on Undefined Fantastic Object gets "Super Shortwave", which lets her cover most of the screen, even certain sections behind her, as long as she's unfocused.
      • Sanae's shot in Ten Desires is similar to the Super Shortwave example above, except she doesn't cover behind her as well.
    • The red weapon in the Raiden series.
    • The blue weapon in Fire Shark, which looked and acted very similarly to the red weapon in Raiden.
    • Bio Metal has one, which was actually surprisingly effective against many of the weaker Mooks (given that Spread Shots usually tend to be weak).
    • Steel Saviour had one of these as your secondary weapons.
    • Einhänder has the spreader gun.
    • Tyrian has countless- the Multi-cannon, the protron, the fireball, the sonic impulse, etc.
    • Traditionally the second (blue) ship in the Dodonpachi games has this as its rapid-fire weapon.
    • Bubble Tanks has 3-way spreads, 5-way spreads, and Sticky Bursts which shoot a circle of shots that immobilze enemies.
    • The red ship in Mars Matrix has this for its main weapon.
    • Many foes in Gatling Gears use this. Your Cannon weapon temporarily becomes a very damaging triple spread when you pick up a Cannon Booster.
    • Your regular shot in Heavy Weapon turns into one of these when you get Spread Shot powerups. More powerups = more bullets per spread.
    • The player's ship in Figure Of Eight shoots in a very wide 3-way spread, which narrows when the ship is slowed down.
    • And sometimes, the enemies use this waaaay too much.
  • The Mega Man (Classic) series had quite a few of these:
    • Mega Man 2 had the Air Shooter, which travelled upwards in a spread.
    • Magma Bazooka from Mega Man 9 combined this with Charged Attack. A point-blank charged shot was one of the most painful things for MiniBosses and the most painful thing against Hornet Man.
    • Mega Man 10 had the Triple Blade. It sliced through regular Mooks like butter (especially when shotgunned), and it felled Strike Man easily. note 
    • The Thunder Beam from the first game is not a Spread Shot, as the side projectiles do not move in a forward direction compared to the main projectile.
    • Rockman 4 Minus Infinity had Pharaoh Shotgun, a version of Pharaoh Shot which spreads in five different directions, but can't be aimed. It also has Drill Torpedo, which fires one drill ahead, one on the ceiling, and one on the floor.
  • Mega Man X and company get a few of these too, like the Twin Slasher, Drift Diamond, and X's charged shot with the Homing Torpedo from Mega Man X and the Hermes Armor in Mega Man X8. Even Zero gets in on the action with Mega Man X4's Rakuhouha, Mega Man X5's C-Flasher, ad in Mega Man X6; If you use the Overdrive Limit Part (which temporarily lets X spam fully-charged shots), Zero's Z-Buster shoots a five-way spread until it wears off.
    • The buster upgrade from Mega Man X3 allows the player to charge up both arms and fire the shots so that they overlap and make a spread shot with the right timing.
    • Mega Man Zero 3 had the EX Skills V-Shot, which split your normal shots into two, and Blizzard Arrow, which generated three ice needles from a charged shot.
    • Mega Man ZX Advent has Buckfire's flaming arrows, and Hedgeshock's sparks from her Charged Attack.
  • Mega Man Legends has the Spread Buster, which fires a spray of grenades. High damage but terrible accuracy and limited ammo make it Awesome, but Impractical, though it does tremendous damage at point-blank range.
  • Alien Soldier had the Hunter Force. Unfortunately, it had a slow rate of fire, and it became pretty useless near the middle of the game where it started bouncing off everything. The Lancer, Sword, Flame and Homing Forces pretty much outclassed it.
  • In addition to loads and loads of shotguns, Borderlands has the Double Anarchy. It's a sub-machine gun that sprays 4 bullets with each shot, while retaining the SMG's best-in-the-game rate of fire. The result is devastating in close quarters.
  • Fallout 3 combines this with No Kill Like Overkill with the Experimental MIRV. It fires eight miniature nuclear warheads with each shot. The ammunition's so rare that actually firing it goes way into Awesome, but Impractical territory, especially since pretty much all enemies can be taken out with one or two mini-nukes from the weapon's single-shot cousin.
  • The Wide Beam in some of the Metroid games. It launches a projectile above and below the one fired (each one retains the same upgrades that Samus has already collected), which has the useful side effect of allowing you to shoot along a platform while you hang from its edge. Also the Spazer Beam, to a lesser extent.
  • Descent features this with the aptly-named Spreadfire Cannon. In Descent 2, there's an even more powerful version known as the Helix Cannon. Unfortunately, it eats through your energy reserves like popcorn.
  • Plants vs. Zombies has Threepeaters. Like their name suggests, they fire out 3 shots to cover 3 rows. Starfruit also count in a way as they fire forward double diagonal stars (besides the one behind and two vertical).
  • Being modeled after Plants vs. Zombies, Mini Robot Wars has the D.Shotgunner, an expy of the Threepeater. The only difference is that its shots spread out diagonally, instead of attacking three individual rows. Upgrading the D.Shotgunner allows it to fire out five shots at one go.
  • Any given shotgun in a First-Person Shooter is likely to follow this trope, even though real shotguns generally have a much narrower spread. However, the rocket launcher in the original Unreal Tournament deserves special mention for its ability to fire a spread of six rockets, each of which is as powerful as a single rocket from any other shooter (albeit slightly slower).
  • Spread Frisbee in Purple throws a normal frisbee along with four fake ones flying alongside.
  • The Amazon in Diablo II has Multishot, which fires a spread of arrows. The Demon Hunter in III will have something similar.
    • Hunters in World of Warcraft have a similar Multishot ability; however, hits are generated like regular area of effect attacks, striking everyone in a given radius of the target rather than shooting a fixed number of projectiles.
  • Artillery in Empire: Total War and Napoleon: Total War can either fire their standard shots or a spread of musket balls similar to a buckshot at a considerably shorter range which devastate infantry or cavalry that are closing in. In Napoleon, the Barrage ability allows cannons to temporarily increase their rate of fire, making this even more effective. This does not work with mortars, though.
  • The "Multiple" weapon in the Turrican series fires a Contra-style flared spread shot. In Super Turrican (and fan game Hurrican), the "Laser" weapon is a parallel spread shot.
  • The original Bionic Commando had two weapons that fired three shots at once, one at 45-degree angles, the other at right angles.
  • Ludwig adds a 4-way spread of fireballs to his repertoire when you re-fight him in his castle in New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
  • The Spread Pulse gun in Expendable, though only after it is upgraded.
  • The Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable games has Hayate's Balmung and Lord Dearche's Doombringer moves, which launches swords in a 5-way spread.
  • Some of the allies' attacks in Magic Sword, especially the Ninja.
  • In Pocky & Rocky, blue orbs give you two, then three angled streams of projectiles.
    • In Pocky & Rocky With Becky, this is Miki/Becky's unique ability.
  • In Star Soldier, enough powerups will eventually allow the player to fire in five directions at once (three forward and two backward). The music changes when this happens.
  • In Chelsea and the 7 Devils, Chelsea starts out shooting a single bullet, but her attack gains more bullets in different arrangements (some parallel, some flared) as she defeats Devils.
  • In Tempo, the title character can increase the number of shots he fires at once by collecting special gloves. Unlike most Initial Bursts, he fires one shot backwards — in fact, the backwards shot is the first to be added.
  • In Bubble Symphony, you can charge up the bubble shot to shoot three bubbles at once. Each character shoots them in a different arrangement.
  • In Twin Cobra, the blue weapon gives a 3-way forward spread, which can be upgraded to a 5-way spread. The Blue Smasher in Twin Cobra II is similar; it can fire missiles in a 7-way spread.
    • Player 1's Thunder Claw in II is a variant of this- at maximum power, it shoots six small missiles to the sides and one large one forward. If the large missile makes contact with an enemy, it becomes a "lock-on", and the six smaller missiles will converge into that enemy.
  • The Ratchet & Clank series has various shotguns, but the Magma Combuster from Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools Of Destruction is a more classic example, firing three shots at different angles with each pull of the trigger.
  • In Animal Crossing: Wild World, unlike its predecessor, in order to get flying presents, get something from Gulliver, or talk to Pete, you have to shoot the intended target with a slingshot. If you shot down enough presents, the next one you shot down would be a golden slingshot, which shoots three shots in a spread, making it more likely that you'll hit your target.
  • Dynamite Headdy has the Lotsa Heads power-up, which lets you shoot three heads at once, as well as the Air Head during the Unexpected Shmup Level.
  • One of the two regular weapons you could obtain in Out Zone.
  • All three of Jad's attacks and one of Ben's attacks in the upcoming Abmneshi: The Prophecy. Jad's unfocused attack is a very wide 7-way spread, his focused is a much tighter 5-way spread, and his hyper is an 11-way spread, combining the two by being very wide but much denser at the front. Ben's unfocused is a 2-way spread. (His focused is also an example, but a Spray Burst)
  • In Bloody Wolf, the player's shotgun fires in a 7-way spread. The first boss's "hot bullets of shotgun" have a 5-way spread.
  • Sol-Feace has an adjustable 3-way spread.
  • Ether Vapor's Winder attack is a spread shot that can have its angles adjusted.
  • Hellsinker has Kagura's Infernal Sabbath equipment, which sacrifices a subweapon in exchange for being able to adjust the spread of its main shot from anywhere between a linear shot and a near-180-degree angle.
  • Evolva: The Spike weapon's secondary attack allows you to throw several spikes at a time, much like a bow multishot.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds lets you upgrade your Bow into the Nice Bow, which fires three arrows in this manner.
  • A number of Skylanders have this as their projectile attack, often obtained as an upgrade.
  • Jean Rambios of Super Time Force has a Charged Attack which fires a rapid-fire spread shot.

Examples of the Spray Burst

  • Mega Man X3 had Neon Tiger's Ray Splasher.
    • X also got two more weapons like this- Grizzly Slash's Crescent Shot in Mega Man X5, and his normal shots with the Shadow Armor in X6.
  • While activating the Time Stopper, Flash Man from Mega Man 2 fires out buster shots this way.
    • Later, in Mega Man 4, Bright Man also does this, firing a spread of shots at a somewhat slower speed and wider spread than Flash Man, but much more often, even without using his Flash Stopper special weapon first.
    • While not a traditional Mega Man game per se, in Street Fighter X Mega Man, Dhalsim can spit a ego-shriveling-ly large wave of Yoga Fire with this kind of spread pattern, as each individual flame sprite is considered its own projectile in that game.
  • Mega Man Legends has the Machine Buster, which starts out tight but becomes more of this as you upgrade its Special attribute. This actually makes it Awesome, but Impractical since it makes many shots go wide. Without spread it's a borderline Disc One Nuke.
  • Mega Man ZX Advent has Rospark's thorns (usable only while on poles) and Model P's shurikens.
  • Contra: Hard Corps had Fang's rapid-fire shot, which had quite a bit of spread.
  • Rambo would fire his machine gun in a spreading pattern if he stood still and fired in Rambo III for the Genesis.
  • Diablo II's Amazon also has the Strafe skill, which fires a rapid stream of arrows.
  • The double Force shot in Gunstar Heroes
  • Warning Forever has your character's only weapon, which fires rapid bullets randomly (but restricted to an angle). The angle of fire can be widened/narrowed by moving.
  • The plasma, fusion, and anti-matter projectors in Sword of the Stars fire a large burst of energy blasts in a cone pattern. Most effective on ships up-close. There is also a rapid-firing version of the standard mass driver that fires in bursts, as well as a similar version for dumbfire missiles.
  • Sayo/Pocky's first power orb in Pocky & Rocky 2 gives her magic cards this effect.
  • The Battle Rifle in Halo 2. Double kills in any gametype with teams and no shields were relatively common.
  • The Mighty Grapes in Spiritual Warfare fire in alternating shots straight ahead and at opposing 45-degree angles. Pretty useful for converting enemies you'd rather not be standing in front of.
  • Dynamite Headdy also has the Bird Head during the Unexpected Shmup Level.
  • In Abmneshi: The Prophecy, as can be seen from the preview videos so far, Ben's focused attack is one of these.
  • Oriko's airborne down+X attack on Magical Crusaders Matagi Magica develops into a rapid succession of fast-paced shots that spell out doom towards any enemies that happen to be below the area of effect. Effectiveness may vary, but it tends to work best on witches with large hitboxes and enemies directly below Oriko. Then there's her up+X special attack, which takes 100MP to cast, is sustained for as long Oriko has MP to spare and is best described by the phrase "OBLITERATE EVERYTHING!!!". Naturally, she's the only Magical Girl with such an amazing firepower, but it's balanced out by the fact that she relies on most of her shots actually hitting her intended target, leaving her nigh useless on the trickier boss fights, such as Izabel's.
  • The machine gun in Bionic Commando (NES) fires five short-range bullets in a wide arc in rapid succession.
  • In Gatling Gears, your basic Gatling gun temporarily becomes this when you pick up a Gatling Booster, along with increased damage. A number of Mooks and bosses also fire in this pattern.
  • In World of Warcraft, the hunter talent "Barrage" fires extremely rapid low-damage shots. These alternate between hitting the player's target and a random other target in a 30-degree cone, creating the effect of a stream of projectiles sweeping back and forth.
  • In Adventures of Dino Riki, Riki's weapon becomes a Flame Shot when fully upgraded, firing five fireballs in a cone formation ahead of him. Unlike his other weapons, Riki can shoot this one rapidly simply by holding down the attack button.

Examples of the Exploding Shot:

  • Super C for the NES had the flame weapon, greatly improved over the original game's. It shot a large fireball that exploded into 4 (or 8, if you charged it up) smaller fireballs on contact with the ground or an enemy.
    • This was, in turn, based on Super Contra's Bomb Gun, which shot an explosive that burst into two fireballs that traveled horizontally a short distance when it hit something. It could be upgraded so that the projectiles exploded into four fireballs instead.
  • The BFG from Doom worked in a slightly different variant- it fired traces from the player's location in a 90-degree arc after the main projectile hit.
  • Mega Man 4 had the Dust Crusher.
    • Mega Man 5 had the Crystal Eye.
    • Mega Man 7 had the Freeze Cracker.
    • Mega Man & Bass had the Spread Drill.
    • Mega Man 8 had the VERY broken Arrow Shot.
    • Mega Man V for the Gameboy had the Salt Water, which exploded into three projectiles upon hitting the floor/wall.
  • Mega Man X had the Shotgun Ice which exploded on contact, and the Chameleon Sting which started off as one projectile but split into three after half a second. Mega Man X2 had the Silk Shot, a projectile similar to the Dust Crusher. X3 had the Acid Burst, which functions similarly to the Salt Water mentioned above.
  • Mega Man Zero 2 had the Triple Shot and Spark Shot EX Skills, both of which split your charged shots into multiple shots upon hitting an enemy.
  • The Spreader family of chips in the Mega Man Battle Network series work like this, though the direction of the spread varies by chip.
  • In the Hunt had the green power-up, which allowed your submarine to fire out a torpedo that exploded into a spread of shrapnel. Similar to Contra, it was a Game Breaker as it killed many enemies quickly.
  • Borderlands had the Orion sniper rifle. Shots that hit surfaces instead of enemies would split into 3 or 4 shots.
  • UN Squadron includes the Bullpup, which does an initial and exploding spread. Each shot fires a bunch of missiles in a spread, then the missiles split into more shots so it covers an even wider range.
  • Space Megaforce (aka Super Aleste) has the Scatter Shot, which fires large shells that explode into small shot bursts upon contact with an enemy or structure.
  • Gunstar Heroes has the Force + Fire combo. The fireballs explode when it hits something solid or in mid-air when you stop holding the fire button.
  • Sword of the Stars has the Burst Shot, which fires a large round that explodes near the target into a hail of small rounds. Useful against tightly-grouped destroyers. Also, if one happens to hit the hull, this can be a One-Hit Kill, as all small rounds are somehow directed at the same ship. Likely a bug.
  • The Descent series loves this, with the classic Smart Missile in the first game (which was retained for the next 3), the Earthshaker Missile and the Smart Mine in the second game, and the Napalm Rocket and Cyclone Missile in the third game.
  • Metroid Fusion has the Diffusion Missiles, which do this when charged. Other M had a Diffusion Beam which worked much the same way.
  • Cluster Frisbee in Purple cracks into 16 smaller shots if thrown at a large distance.
  • Bubble Tanks has the Starburst Cannon, which explodes into a circle of shots if the initial bullet travels a distance without hitting anything.
  • The "Bounce" weapon in the Turrican series splits into two shots that bounce back upon hitting a wall.
  • The boss Thugly from Donkey Kong Country Returns had a move where it spat out a fireball which exploded into three, then one of those three exploded into another three, and finally one of those would split into three yet again.
  • Angry Birds has the blue bird, which splits into three when the screen is tapped.
  • Sanae B in Undefined Fantastic Object has exploding frogs. Marisa's Magic Napalm shot on Ten Desires behaves similarly. The spread is minimal, but lingers long enough to make repeated damage and/or harm any other enemies that waltz towards their area of effect.
  • Bug! had the Abominable Snowbug boss, who threw a huge snowball that split into five when it hit the floor.
  • Heavy Weapon has two instances. The green jets drop cluster bombs that explode into a burst of four shots, while Kommie Kong/Gorillazilla has "Bursting Rockets" that explode into six.
  • Any Recursive Ammo weapon in Escape Velocity uses this behavior.
  • The Fragmentation Bomb Launcher and Cluster Flak Array from the X-Universe series. Unfortunately they're really only effective if you hit the guy before the shot fragments because the developers forgot to add AoE damage to the fragments, rendering them annoyingly useless. Unless you take the CFA and combine it with the Ion Disruptor, which can use the fragments to jump between targets. The resulting ionized flak is effective but friendly-fire-heavy.

Spent Shells ShowerGuns and Gunplay TropesStaged Shooting
Sniping MissionVideo Game TropesSprings Springs Everywhere
Spontaneous Weapon CreationWeapons and Wielding TropesStat Sticks
Evil Is VisceralImageSource/Video GamesBig Dumb Body

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy