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Themed Cursor
Genuine World War 2 era cursors.

The thing hanging around your screen right now. It's probably just an arrow, but arrows are boring, and if you're playing a video game, you don't want to watch boring things. So, the developers simply made your cursor into something related to the game and voila, every click is now a step toward immersion!

Most commonly, the cursor is a crosshair or a character's or creature's hand. A staple of Real-Time Strategy games.


Examples:

  • Golden Eye 1997 has an out-of-game crosshair cursor.
  • In the WarCraft (RTS) series the cursor is the hand of whatever race you're currently playing as. Some characters are quite aware of the fact that they are being poked by a hand.
  • In Command & Conquer, when you have a unit selected, your cursor becomes a sonar-like pattern when hovering over passable terrain, a "no" symbol when over impassable terrain and a crosshair when over enemies. The first Red Alert subtly alters the crosshair design to indicate whether your unit is already in range of its target or not (which obviously only works if only a single unit is selected).
  • StarCraft has... some fiddly scifi thing... for its "click me, I'm selectable" cursor. And the standard arrow is green with a dash of Tron Lines.
  • In The Neverhood, the cursor is your standard arrow—but like everything else in the game, it's made of clay.
  • The somewhat obscure game Lab14 has a standard cursor... except on one level, you're using your mouse cursor as a platform to jump on.
  • In Myst, it's your hand.
    • Myst IV takes it even further. Not only is the cursor actually your hand, you can use it to interact with things that are ordinarily useless by tapping on them to hear the sound they make. Also, some objects can't be touched (usually due to high voltage), causing the cursor to recoil and the screen to shake (since the orientation of the screen is pretty much tied to where the hand is at).
  • In some games the cursor itself exists in universe.
    • In Mario & Wario, it's Wanda the Fairy, the player character.
    • In Wonder Project J the cursor is Tinker. In the sequel, the cursor is Bird. In both, they serve as your line of communication to Pino and Josette, respectively.
    • Your cursor is also the player character in Bubble Ghost.
    • In Sonic Battle, the cursor is an arrow ''and'' your character.
    • In the Creatures series, the cursor is known as the Hand—it is, in fact, shaped like a hand. It's actually treated as its own separate entity in the game, and you can name it, and even have Creatures interact with it!
    • In Black & White, your pointer is pretty much your own godly hand, which you can use to pick up and drop stuff, throw things, and even pet or slap. It'll also change depending on your alignment.
    • The hand in Dungeon Keeper work like those in Black & White and Creatures. Though more so, the hand can, in fact, possess said creatures and become their minds. The Dungeon Keeper series example would be one of the most extreme examples of this trope.
    • In Anachronox your cursor is in world, but still arrow like, but is in fact Fatima, your dead secretary brought back to life in a Life Cursor.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has Navi as the Wiimote pointer. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks used sparkles as an indicator of where you touched and The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass used Ceila (or Leaf/Neri if you were using their powers) to do the same.
  • In Mario Paint, the cursor is shaped like Mario's glove.
  • In MS Paint and such programs your cursor is simply whatever tool you have selected.
  • Jewel Quest 3 has a cursor that looks sort of like a gold fountain pen nib.
  • The Flash Game Hedgehog Launch has an equipment upgrade screen as well as the playing field for hedgehog-launching. The upgrade screen is trying to look like an ancient black and green monochrome computer screen and uses — a primitive-looking green arrow. (Imagine if a Speak And Spell had an arrow cursor.)
  • The Dungeon Of Doom turns the cursor into a broadsword.
  • For some reason, the battle cursor in Mother 3 is a feather pen...
  • In The 7th Guest, you have a few "horror"-themed icons to show different actions. A skeletal hand will beckon or point when you can move somewhere and wag when you can't. When you find a "hot spot" the cursor is an eyeball, and a puzzle is indicated by a skull with an exposed, pulsing brain.
  • In the Touhou fangame Mari Ari, the cursor is one of Alice's dolls.
  • Sburb from Homestuck has a cursor shaped like its logo.
  • In Odin Sphere the cursor is your current character's weapon.
  • RuneScape implemented that in 2010.
  • The cursor in Discworld was a spark from a magical accident that happens at the end of the first cutscene.
  • The Age of Empires series usualy had an arrowhead cursor for navigating the game map which changed to a hand if workers were selected and it was held over a resource and changed into a sword when held over an enemy.
  • Live A Live has a different one for each chapter. The cursor for the final chapter depends on which character you decided to be the main hero.
  • Kanon has a blue feather, referring to the theme of wings in the game, and CLANNAD a branch, referring to the tree on the title screen.
  • Heavy Weapon has a neat, radioactive sign-like crosshair for its cursor during gameplay.
  • The Quest for Glory games have fairly generic cursor icons for actions like Walk, Look, Use, etc....except for Quest for Glory IV, which takes place in a Darker and Edgier setting rife with undead and Eldritch Abominations. In keeping with this theme, the Look icon is a disembodied eyeball, the Use icon is a severed, zombified hand, and the Talk icon is a mouth with vampire fangs.
  • The old Nintendo Entertainment System emulator NESticle turns your cursor into a bleeding, severed hand.

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