It's all well and good that characters with empathy
or Super Senses
can tell the fighting strength
or Power Level
of an opponent, and even get the heebie jeebies or outright faint
when the penultimate evil
shows up, but how do you transmit that to viewers without stilted dialogue
and stentorian theatrics?
Whether it's thanks to a Robo Cam
, a mystical talisman, or a cyborg eye
, the character is privy to an Enemy Scan
that shows their opponents height, weight, age, fighting style, blood type
and preferred brand of chewing gum
. Expect any readings to be a Random Power Ranking
; if the opponent is weaker, expect Trash Talking
(and eating of crow once it turns out they're Not Left Handed
) and if they're much, much stronger cries of "It's Over Nine Thousand!!!
" with the prompt overloading
of the device.
Stylistically, expect a circle around the target or a shaded silhouette, and an architects line (a horizontal line which then inflects at an angle to a box of text). Other than the raw power being in big numbers, all the other stats' and trivia is usually very small, possibly in alienese
. If you're watching it on a DVD that can pause and Zoom
it will be loaded
with Easter Eggs
. Rapidly fluctuating bar graphs happen too.
Newer videogames (including those based on Real Life
or real history) will often have enemies' stats displayed when they are clicked, moused over or take a hit. This often comes in the form of a Hit Points
bar above or around the crosshairs that changes appearance depending on the condition of the enemy. Older games and MMORPGs
will have an enemy status display in the same format as the player's which appears in the same situations.
See also Enemy Scan
and Sensing You Are Outmatched
This is the Sci-Fi Counterpart
of Aura Vision
See Also Augmented Reality
, ongoing Real Life
research towards making this trope reality
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Anime & Manga
- Dragon Ball Z used the scouters for this. Fell out of use, however, as people were starting to throw around Power Levels measured in the millions... A less numeric method of sensing a enemy's strength is used, however.
- Pokedexes serve this purpose in both the Pokémon anime and the Pokémon Special manga.
- The Monitor Cyborgs employed by Shadaloo in Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie (and related game... NOT the arcade game featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme) feature this ability, shown to the viewers as a Terminator-esque green screen. Apparently they can measure lung capacity, among other physical stats.
- Shinigami eyes in Death Note allow one to see a person's name and eventual lifespan.
- The Street Fighter IV OVA, The Ties That Bind, also features S.I.N.'s agent deploying antenna-like devices to scan Cammy and Ryu as they fight C.Viper, which transmit the data to Seth's base kilometers away. Funnily enough, when Ryu awakens the Satsui no Hado, the scanners read 9999999999999999.
- Dororo in Keroro Gunsou executes this as "Assassin Magic" without using any external device. And it comes up as a digital display instead of Shinigami Eyes or anything non-technical.
- In the later episodes of YuYu Hakusho, in the demon world, demon energy levels were rated using a scouter-like device; 12k was considered to be high, in the A-S rank level.
- Nijima from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, uses his "Nijima Vision" to calculate an opponent's strength. The manga even parodies Dragon Ball Z: When he attempts to scan a master-class martial artist his Nijima Vision "explodes" just like a scouter.
- The Siestas in Umineko: When They Cry. It comes in handy when showing that Battler's Anti-Magic level is so high they can't hurt him.
- In Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force, having the Eclipse infection go unstable leaves the infectee only able to see the world in this, which is bad enough since it partly obscures one's sight, but the infection also automatically classifies anyone that this mode reveals as a potential threat, including friends and allies. With Lily serving her role as his Reactor Plug, she could turn this on and off for him as needed, making it much more useful.
- Hanzo (the Ninja Maid in Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls) has glasses that show opponent's power levels.
- In Maburaho, there are devices that can detect how many uses of magic a person has left.
- Like the Persona 4 example below, Persona 4: The Animation has Rise Kujikawa's powers function this way. There are times where it shows you what she sees, too. In addition to the actual stats, it also includes some other comments. Examples include when Yu was being controlled and was summoning Beelzebub, "It's that giant bug thing!" and "DANGER! It's that really big attack!"
- In one episode of The Case Files of Yakushiji Ryoko, a berserk security robot displays this trope, using it to identify potentially hostile people with weapons and important objects.
- In Digimon, the Digimon Analyzer sequence is sometimes just for the audience's benefit and clearly not seen in-universe. However, in some seasons, the Digivice can scan opponents.
- As the Genre Deconstruction of the Fighting Series Played for Laughs, Muteki Kanban Musume parodies this when Burger Fool Megumi scans all her clients to find the right time to attack The Rival Miki unnoticed by them.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, turbo duelists have helmets that provide stats for enemy monsters.
- Iron Man typically invokes this trope by scanning opponents. One issue includes a scan of The Sentry which concludes he has no weaknesses. No "I-shoot-him-just-right-and-the-problem-is-solved-weaknesses" that is. Tony is mentioned as having a few plans for this type of thing (specifically asked by Bob, nonetheless). In the end, he hacks Sentry's robot, which informs him of disasters he could be stopping, so that it puts out hundreds of fake messages. Unable to deal with deciding what to do first, Sentry collapses.
- French comic Les Blondes briefly used this as a sight gag, with the Dumb Blonde heroine explaining to a friend how she keeps seeing black splotches in front of her eyes ("Have you seen an optician?" "No just the splotches.") Besides the splotches 'Vanessa Vision' helpfully has arrows pointing up and down in case she mixes the two up.
Films — Live-Action
- Resident Evil
- The Red Queen's stat readouts of the soldiers. Funnily enough, it listed every single one of them as carrying an MP5K regardless of what they actually carried.
- Used in Resident Evil: Apocalypse with The Nemesis.
- The Rundown has Beck (Dwayne Johnson) comment on the entire offensive line of Notre Dame with various sports commentator stats showing up for each of them. After he mops the floor with them when they try to stop him from collecting a loan's collateral, his own Badass stats show up. He likes cooking.
- The Terminator franchise is the Trope Codifier for this, with the target judgements that appear in the vision of the various Terminators, including the T-800 from Terminator 2. In the "Minigun vs. Policeforce" scene, particularly, it seems to measure the total combat-strength of the entire platoon. The only model never given a point-of-view shot is the liquid metal T-1000.
- In the Iron Man 1 movie, one point-of-view shot reveals that the heads-up display in Iron Man's suit can determine the difference between civilians and terrorists, and labels them as such (likely through A.I. identification of armed terrorists vs. unarmed civilians).
- Mitsuru's staff has this power in Brave Story.
- In Ulillillia's book The Legend of the 10 Elemental Masters, using a Scan spell summons a status screen akin to one from the more recent Final Fantasy games. The status screen is actually a physical object.
- Snow Crash has a subversion of the trope: Hiro Protagonist at one point nearly gets killed because he's too busy reading the model numbers and specifications of the guns that are being shot at him. He turns the gear off so he can run away properly.
- The Buffybot in Buffy the Vampire Slayer sees like this with information about Buffy's friends displayed on screen when they're in its line of sight. Having been programmed by Warren to specifications given by Spike however, the information is extremely basic or displays a laughably 2D idea of the characters. For instance, Willow's screen reads: "Best Friend. Gay (1999-Present). Witch. Good with computers.". Also displayed on screen are the Buffybot's two primary objectives in life, "Locate Spike" and "Make Spike Happy". The latter has a drop-down menu of files with titles like "kissing" and "position-1" and so on.
- In the "Aerodynamics of Gender" episode of Community, we see the world as Abed sees it. In addition to scans for weak points in people, he has a memo screen, a list of the upcoming dates of his female friends' "cycles", and a synopsis of the current episode, updated as the show progresses. His memos have all been referenced in subsequent episodes, and his tracking of the "cycles" became a plot point in a later show.
- In Sherlock, the viewer is occasionally treated to a first-person Sherlock Scan from the man himself. The conclusions Sherlock draws are usually displayed as white-fonted labels floating in the air next to whatever he's scanning.
- In "His Last Vow", a computer text version of all Charles Augustus Magnussen's blackmail material appears onscreen whenever the audience is seeing his point of view. Sherlock and the audience are led to believe the info is being displayed on the inside of Magnussen's glasses, but in reality, it's merely the very organised way in which he processes and views information within his own head, rather like Sherlock himself, and foreshadows the ending of the episode.
- In Warhammer 40,000 there is an old piece of fluff regarding Kharn the Betrayer's helmet incorparating a kill counter. It makes a beep every time he takes a skull. Throughout the story, they are thrown in between describing what is going on, with more "BEEPS" occurring in between sentences over the course of the story. It breaks.
- Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition has a magic item called the "Goggles of Aura Sight", which tells the user how many Hit Points a monster has left.
- Armored Core V
- Deus Ex
- Available as an augmentation, and superimposed over Denton's vision. It even increases weapon damage.
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution has all sorts of useful information including persuasion level, if the target is unconscious or dead, the amount of time it take for a target to get bored looking for you, the vision cones of enemies and the last place enemies were looking for you. A targeting reticule, whether someone's a civilian/prostitute/soldier/mercenary/employee/etc., how much noise you're making, another person's personality type and quirks, whether or not there's anything to loot from a body or drawer, how close you are to death...
- Various Final Fantasy games have this, typically as the effect of the Scan/Libra/Peep ability/spell.
- TRON 2.0 : The Profiler subroutine. Fully upgraded, it gives a Program's name, armor level, hit points, and inventory.
- Persona 3 apparently has this as an explicit power of Mitsuru and Fuuka's Personae. Rise's powers in Persona 4 are like this too.
- The Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System in Fallout 3.
- The Awareness Perks of Fallout 1 and 2 are probably more accurate examples, as they actually do give stat details. The VATS only gives health levels of body locations, so it's just an extension of the HUD's ability to show overall health. Of course, this is only supposed to be an indication of the Player Character's skill at evaluating others, expressed to the player as S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats.
- Some Fallout: New Vegas mods give the player a version fitting the trope more closely with the ability to scan targets and display stats like Awareness, Threat level, and combat type, as well as health, both in stat form and showing how damaged various body parts are. It takes a moment to work, so it's Awesome, but Impractical for most purposes.
- The combat display in Mass Effect provides identity, shield and health information for whatever enemy your targeting reticle is resting on.
- The Scan Visor in the Metroid Prime games is a textbook example.
- Later Castlevania games, notably Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin and Order of Ecclesia, feature either an item, a soul or a glyph that allows the player to see the stats of whatever enemy they're attacking at the moment. They're displayed on the top screen of the DS, while the game is on the touch screen.
- Any recent Dragon Ball Z game uses Scouters for the Life Meters and other information.
- Rosalind has a spell in Summoner that allows her to see the stats of enemies.
- The Solid Eye in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, which displays health, affiliation, carried weapons, and emotional state (as expressed through the game's simplified four-emotion system).
- Juni in Street Fighter Alpha has this ability and forms the majority of her quotes in the Japanese version.
- In Aliens Vs Predator (2010), the Predator can enter "Focus Mode" which allows him to identify his enemy's equipment. Mostly useless, except to find out if an NPC Marine is equipped with a motion tracker.
- In C-12 Final Resistance, Vaughan's cyborg eye gives him information about objects he is looking at, including their health percentage.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum gives you Detective Mode, which includes information on your enemies displayed in convenient text boxes. Unfortunately, this information consists primarily of the target's pulse and mental state which, while amusing (watch them go from "Calm" to "Terrified"), is less than helpful in combat. The only important information on an enemy that Detective Mode presents is their location via X-ray vision and whether or not they have firearms.
- Humorously done in Season 3 of Sam & Max: Freelance Police.
- Done somewhat in Team Fortress 2. Players can see their allies' health, the health of allied buildings, and the charge level of allied Medics. Medics always see their charge level and the health of their healing target. With the Solemn Vow equipped, they also see enemies' health. Spies can see the health of enemy players and buildings, and show a fake health level while disguised when enemies look at them. When you're killed, the killcam shows the health of your killer. Unlike most of these examples, the game doesn't even attempt to explain away any of these abilities.
- This is one of the standard features on the Demonica in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey. However, it has to scan a demon multiple times in order to incorporate all of their information. The first time you fight one, it can't even see them properly.
- In Distorted Travesty, clicking on an enemy brings up an analysis screen.
- In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, wearing the Hero's Charm reveals the enemy's life bar.
- Jango Fett has one in Star Wars: Bounty Hunter. Among other things, it indicates whether you can make extra money by capturing a given NPC.
- Shows up in the Visual Novel of Fate/stay night: All Masters in the Holy Grail War are able to read and store information such as the status and abilities of all Servants they've encountered. It's also explicitly stated that there is no unified system for it: No two Masters see this info in the same way and each have their own system for actualizing this data in a way they can understand. Shirou uses an A to F grading system somewhat like in a fantasy RPG.
- Of course, in Fate/Zero, everyone suddenly speaks in terms of A to F, because its what the fans are used to.
- In Erfworld, wizards and warlords can see unit stats natively, except for the Trapped in Another World Parson, who needs special help to do so. No-one can see Parson's stats, however they do figure some of them out by how the bonuses he grants affect other units.
- In 8-Bit Theater, Red Mage uses what appears to be a Scan spell in the strip titled "Wherein No One's Power Level Is 9,000".
- In Goblins, which began as a straight-up spoof of Dungeons & Dragons from the goblins' point of view, all of the characters are Genre Savvy to the point of worshipping the Dungeon Master, consciously levelling up, and, in particular, being able to see numerals representing negative hit points hovering over unconscious or wounded characters.
- Parodied in Recess where resident bully Gelman's vision is shown like this when he's looking for Gus. It's parodied right down to the stark "night vision green" color and the synthesized voice.
- Parodied in The Simpsons where Homer is searching for a husband for Aunt Selma. He sees co-workers Lenny and Carl, and Principal Skinner, in green-tinged Terminator-style Stat-O-Vision.