Say a video game developer wants you to do some interesting, complex, impressive challenge. But they don't want to be too hard on you; they want to make the challenge as approachable as it can be without compromising its complexity. But what if it isn't enough to just streamline the challenge? What if lots of playtesters are still getting stuck on the cool setpiece? What can the game designer do to allow them to keep their cool thing, but not have to frustrate players? This is where an "antepiece" comes in handy.
An antepiece is a seemingly-innocuous task that precedes a great-big-difficult-challenge, and gives you subtle hints about how you should deal with the great-big-challenge that you're about to confront. It's present in the form of a challenge that is paired with a "version" of the same challenge that is in some way "easier". In architecture, a small room that acts as an entry point to a larger room is called an antechamber. An antepiece is an antechamber for a video game setpiece. Crucially, all antepieces are VERY easy/nonthreatening, often things the player simply breezes past and may not give a second conscious thought to.
This is a form of Instructive Level Design, allowing a game to maintain a state of "Show, Don't Tell"; instead of the game explaining through text or voice how something will work, the player experiences the semi-new thing directly. Compare with Training Dummy. Contrast with Recurring Boss, where you have a boss or maybe a certain set of challenges that are related, with some kind of quantitative change (like health, or number of moves). The change from an antepiece to a setpiece is different to that though; it is a qualitative change rather than a quantitative change in difficulty — the antepiece won't have anything resembling the same challenge involved in the setpiece it is paired with.
Valve developers, who use antepieces a lot, have things called "mechanic reminders", which are a subset of antepieces. An antepiece may tell you something quite new, while a mechanic reminder simply reminds.
Contrast Noob Bridge, where a newcomer to a game is forced to figure out a recurring, trivial design element of a game on their own without any obvious hints or instruction.
- Used with Astro Bot Rescue Mission in several instances. Nearly every Gadget in the game will have easy gameplay segments to open them before they are later used in more involved ways. For example, you tightrope Astro across ropes before getting the Hook Shot Gadget and being able to cast them yourself, or you can use the Shuriken on in-consequential spider webs before having to use them to hit targets to stop a booby trap. Even the VR nature of the game is accounted for: the first level includes stairs and slides on the left and right sides to pre-empt the level design leading Astro to your sides.
- In Axiom Verge, the first use for any new weapon or coat powerup you find is usually to escape the very area you found it in.
- Bayonetta series:
- The game has you fight Fortitudo twice before battling him for real in Chapter IV. The first fight is in a flashback, and introduces fireball dodging and dodging the two heads as they try to eat you as well as dodging the tail. The second fight, while mainly another head fight, gives you a taste of what you're in for when you fight him on the ground, with lunging attacks being added to the fireball mix.
- The two statues you encounter early on are a tutorial on how to use Witch Time, dodging the lightning at the very last moment in order to activate it and get across an expanse of water. Later, you will have to do the same thing in order to get through doors and cross bridges that don't stay up long enough for you to get across normally.
- Bayonetta 2: The segment where you ride on Diomedes opens up with a pair of static Inferno-trees to avoid, one to duck under and one to jump over. The game even pauses for a moment to allow extra time for you to make the right imput. These serve as simple obstacles to get players used to the new controls before putting them in to a more complex course.
- Falling Damage is an easy way to die, given Jason's jump height in Blaster Master Zero 2 can deal damage just from jumping one block above the ground. As such, Planetoid C-2 is a giant deathtrap requiring you to jump from ladder the ladder while avoiding anything that will cause Jason to drop to his immediate death. Some programmer must have realized how hard this could be, because you're given a small room of ladders with no obstacles and water (which stops you from taking fall damage when you land in it) where you can practice your ladder jumps with no danger while you prep for the real challenge.
- Bloons Tower Defense liberally uses this trope to teach players about special bloon properties and stratagies.
- The first few rounds immediately establish that popping a high level bloon spawns some lower level bloons. The first round is comprised entirely of red bloons, which can be destroyed in a single hit. The next round introduces a few faster blue bloons, which turn into a red bloon upon being hit. This prepares the players for how bloons will behave without being overtly challenging.
- Rounds 4-15 establish bloon ordering; the fastest ones called pink bloons turn into slightly slower yellow bloons, which turn into green bloons, and so on. It also establishes the important concepts of pierce and damage by having many bloons clustered in a single spot, requring high pierce towers to be able to destroy them all.
- Round 24 establishes the presence of special Camo bloons, which are invisible to most towers. This prepares the player for the onslaught of camos that will appear from round 33 onwards.
- Round 28 also introduces the lead bloon, which is resistant to nearly all regular attacks. This is to make sure that the player is ready for how the game will begin to liberally use them to both act as shields and block weaker attacks.
- Rounds 40, 60, 80, and 100 contain exactly one MOAB. This is to familiarize players with the MOAB's properties without straining their defenses by adding extra enemies.
- Round 55 has a few groups of ceramic bloons. While these are pretty easy to deal with, they act as an introduction to the far more brutal round 63, which has many more bloons packed much more tightly.
- Bounty of One: A few minutes before you face off a Sheriff, you'll come across that particular Sheriff's minions so that the player gets a feel of the upcoming boss' attacks. Skeletal Hounds attack by shooting their head out before it returns to them, and their sheriff Rex, Cupcake and Brutus can launch his three heads out in succession. Mole Men attack by throwing dynamite that explodes a circular area after a few seconds, and their sheriff Crazy Denzel throws out similar dynamite, but with bigger explosions and in far greater quantities.
- Braid: In an underground scene in World 3, there is a puzzle about complex interactions between keys and doors, some of which are affected by your power, some of which aren't. There are two puzzle pieces: getting the first one can be done without thought or understanding, there are only two doors and one key. But solving the three-door-two-key puzzle that follows requires reflecting on the simpler situation.
- An important feature of the Call of Duty series is the grenade danger indicator: which shows you the location of live grenades in your vicinity. One ability many players don't know about is picking live grenades up & throwing them back. Call of Duty: WWII teaches you this in the first mission (set during the landings on Omaha Beach); with the Player Character slowed down by being forced to drag one of their allies to safety, running from the live Stielhandgranate thrown at them is impossible. Instead, a prompt appears saying "Throw Back", indicating to the player that they can pick the grenade up & throw it away. Even if they player doesn't catch on at first and dies, this is a scripted sequence, meaning the player must learn how to pick up & throw live grenades to advance; a useful skill for other parts of the game.
- Many levels in Crash Bandicoot go around the same theme. You're likely to encounter 2, 3, or even 4 of a same level theme, one early with fewer pitfalls, enemies, and boxes, and one later with more complex or precise versions. Examples from each of the main series:
- Crash Bandicoot: Jungle Rollers (antepiece) —> Rolling Stones; Lights Out (antepiece) —> Fumbling in the Dark.
- Crash Bandicoot 2: Snow Go (antepiece) —> Snow Biz (antepiece) —> Cold Hard Crash; Road to Ruin (antepiece) —> Ruination.
- Crash Bandicoot Warped: Tomb Time (antepiece) —> Sphynxinator/Tomb Wader (antepiece) —> Bug Lite; Makin' Waves (antepiece) —> Tell No Tales (antepiece) —> Ski Crazed / Hot Coco.
- Chapter 1:
- Early after entering the Dark World, Kris comes across some strange objects that wobble when walking in front of them. Soon after, darker variations of the objects show up that fire projectiles when they wobble.
- Zig-zagged with the game's first battle. At first, the game throws you in at the deep end by giving you Lancer, a miniboss, as your first encounter. Fortunately, Lancer is quite easily defeated through trial and error, and after that, Ralsei takes you over to a training dummy to teach you the controls and mechanics properly.
- Chapter 2 has three of them:
- Early in the chapter, Queen forces you to play a Punch-Out!!-inspired arcade game against her. She tells you the controls outright, and even if you lose against her, she'll insist you keep playing until you win. This seemingly random event is, in fact, practice for the chapter's Final Boss fight against GIGA Queen, which functions exactly the same as the arcade machine.
- The player fights against Sweet Cap'n Cakes in a fight designed to teach the player about everyone besides Kris getting their own actions, assuming you're going through it passively. You're shown that you need to make everyone dance through your ACT action, but it won't work because none of the three enemies dance long enough to win the fight. Instead, Susie questions why she needs to have Kris tell her what to do, prompting Susie to learn S-Action and Ralsei to learn R-Action. You then have to use these special actions to win the battle.
- Throughout the Chapter, the player encounters a number of teacup rides, many of which require the player to rotate them to grab orbs that move them further upward; one late into Queen's mansion instead has the player rotate the ride to avoid various laser orbs. The latter ends up being a tutorial for a much harder teacup ride obstacle course in the mansion basement, which Kris must complete as part of Spamton's sidequest (though nothing will stop the player from completing the harder ride first).
- Chapter 1:
- The Tower of Latria in Demon's Souls has you traversing a lot of balcony-style hallways overlooking a huge empty pit, with such poor lighting that you often can't see the floor in front of you. In one spot, the floor ahead of you is broken, leading to a drop to instant death if you don't spot it in time. (And you won't unless you're inching forward and letting the Augite of Souls you're wearing light the way.) To ensure that this wasn't completely unavoidable, the devs put in two more broken bits of floor that won't kill you, as warnings. The first has been haphazardly "repaired" by bending the broken railing around it, turning it into a dead end. The second sends you down to the floor you started on, causing no fall damage but wasting your time.
- Devil May Cry:
- As soon as you enter the castle in the first game, your first objective is to sacrifice 45 Red Orbs to open a red sealed door. The task is simple enough as there are exactly 45 Red Orbs in that room (not counting the hundred awarded if you manage to balance on top of the knight statue's halberd). Later red sealed doors would require you to sacrifice hundreds of Red Orbs which have to be farmed first by defeating nearby demons if you don't have enough to spare.
- Devil May Cry 4: All platforming types start off with an easy version to let you get the hang of their required mechanics, but then the later missions arrive with their more difficult variants:
- The first Grim Grip / Continuum Pad section in Mission 2 simply lets you grapple from Point A to Point B, but the next ones involve chaining your grapples from multiple Grim Grips in mid-air, then on the later areas and higher difficulty modes, some Grim Grips move on their own. Sanctus also summons flying objects that suspiciously look like Grim Grips during his boss fight, allowing you to get close to him by grappling on those things.
- The first Gyro Blades section in the Fortuna Castle simply tasks you to destroy a special door behind you, then the next versions require you to move Gyro Blades across a large portion of the room, such as a hallway.
- The first vanishing floor section in the Mitis Forest is just a straightforward walk over a short gap, then a later version involves a chasm with the floors appearing and vanishing at seemingly-random patterns.
- The first Chrono Slicer section in the Order of the Sword HQ just requires you to slow down time to cross the fast-moving lasers nearby, but the next laser traps are more complicated, require more skill to cross over, and the Chrono Slicers are placed in tricky spots encouraging trial-and-error.
- Devil May Cry 5:
- In Mission 2, the first Nidhogg Hatchling is found right next to the Qliphoth growth that it is supposed to destroy so that you can move forward to the main path. This simply serves as a tutorial section for letting you know the purpose of these hatchlings. In later areas and missions, the hatchlings are placed far away from the Qliphoth growths, often with battles and backtracking along the way, or the Qliphoth growths themselves are deemed optional barriers to side areas instead.
- Mission 3 starts off with a simple tutorial and platforming sections letting you familiarize yourself with Nero's ability to hook himself towards the floating Grim Grips. A spot then requires you to shoot a Grim Grip and grapple at least two of them consecutively. All of these are put to the test as the boss fight at the end of that mission, Artemis, encourages you to shoot and grapple on the Grim Grips that it summons.
- Missions 1, 3 and 5 contain sections where enemies spawn right next to red explosive tanks which deal heavy damage when attacked or shot. The latter two missions provide antepieces that are nearly impossible to miss because those tanks are placed conspicuously on the main path, so the game expects you to blow them up and see what happens. During the boss fight in Mission 6, Gilgamesh can walk over several explosive tanks, which topples and stuns the giant if you shoot those right under its legs.
- Donkey Kong:
- Donkey Kong Country: "Mine Cart Carnage" has Kritters in mine carts in the second half that you must jump over. The first you encounter, though, is on a rail below the one you need to get on, so it's easy to avoid yet foreshadows the Kritters that will be on the same rail as you.
- During the True Final Boss fight of Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, Kaptain K. Rool will fire a series of purple clouds in a pattern; touching these clouds reverses your horizontal controls, but is otherwise harmless, giving you a relatively low-risk chance to familiarize yourself with the pattern. Then he fires a similar pattern, but with Spike Balls of Doom that will hurt you if they hit you.
- Dragon Age: Inquisition introduces the player to (optional) Hamiltonian path puzzles in the Temple of Mythal, which consist of stepping on each floor tile only once, by requiring them to do a simplified version (where the tiles form a single ring, so the "puzzle" consists of just walking around the shrine once) in order to proceed with the mission.
- Elden Ring:
- Most tough encounters with multiple foes will be prefaced by a single enemy to allow the player to get a handle on their moveset and to safely practice on them. For example, individual Godrick Soldiers can be fought in the woods outside the gatefront Ruins where a large number of them are located, and a single troll can be fought just west of the starting area before encountering groups of them later on.
- Dungeons start off small and simple, introducing the player to a few enemies and simple mechanics (i.e. turning levers to open doors to boss rooms) and get longer and more complicated the further from the starting area the player ventures.
- The Elder Scrolls:
- In Morrowind, the very first mission of the main quest sends you into a nearby Dwemer ruin to obtain a specific item. In order to get into the ruin, you need to turn a crank a short distance from the door. At the very end of the main quest, the Very Definitely Final Dungeon is in another Dwemer ruin and requires that the player turn a crank once again to enter.
- In Skyrim, you'll be sent to Bleak Falls Barrow to recover an item early in the main quest (and may have completed it even earlier as a sidequest in the First Town sends you there). It has less-threatening, less-complex examples of the enemies (bandits, draugr that appear to be dead but then start to move when you get close, Giant Spiders dropping from the ceiling, etc.) and puzzles (traps, a Dragon Claw lock, a boss draugr who comes out of a stone sarcophagus, etc.) that you'll face in similar barrows throughout the rest of the game which are frequent quest destinations. (Every faction questline will send you into at least one, plus several more in the main quest, and countless more in sidequests.)
- Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City: There's a unique case regarding how gameplay influences the story progression. During the first two dungeons, the game's idea of changing the course of the story due to the player's actions and decisions is showcased with the misadventures of a guild whose two characters will see their lives affected depending on how the player's party attempts to help them (namely who survives after a certain tragic outcome, though it's possible to Take a Third Option and try to ignore them altogether to avoid employing any sort of influencenote ). This idea is revisited after the completion of the third stratum, where a series of events occur and a player can choose to remain loyal to the Senatus of Armoroad and confront the faction of the Deep City, or side with the latter faction and betray Armoroad; and once again there's an obscure method to Take a Third Option and look for a neutral path. In any case, the decisions taken will affect how the rest of the game will continue, and the stakes will be raised accordingly. For those interested in seeing all possible outcomes (both for the antepiece and for the real deal), the game offers a New Game Plus option available once the story is cleared.
- In Faria, the only way to proceed from the first room in Gelve Tower is to move the stone statue, which demonstrates the importance of moving every stone statue in a tower. (There are three more statues in Gelve Tower after this one, which apparently doesn't count since a NPC says that the tower has three statues.)
- Final Fantasy VII Remake contains several of them in the Crazy Motorcycle sequence near the end of the game to prevent it from feeling like an Unexpected Gameplay Change. The first few enemies are easy to beat, allowing you to get the hang of the controls for the sequence while taking them out. Then, an armored truck pulls up which targets you with a machine gun, letting you know both that there will be enemies that take several hits to defeat as well as showing you that there will be things you need to dodge. Finally, just before reaching the tunnel, a helicopter fires warning shots to let you see how its shots work and how they're going to land. Red XIII fully heals you when you get to the tunnel, which is where the training wheels come off and multiple elements you just learned about get thrown at you all at once.
- This is how pretty much every major boss works in Final Fantasy XIV. If a boss uses a new ability that isnt signed with one of the standard Notice This markers it uses for like attacks, then chances are the boss will use the attack by itself to allow you to come to grips with how it works, then later in the fight use the same ability in conjuction with another ability you have been shown or in a new way.
- Most Fire Emblem games ease the player into the Weapon Triangle by pitting them against axe-wielding bandits in the early chapters. Since most early-game units wield swords, they automatically have advantage over these bandits. Afterwards, when it's time to go up against more organized forces, lance units are introduced, which sword-wielders are disadvantaged against, forcing them to break out their few axe units.
- Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach: When you enter the Pizzaplex's daycare, you encounter the "Sun" version of the Daycare Attendant, who is benevolent but won't leave you alone and let you move unless you knock over objects, which serve as a distraction as the Attendant is compelled to pick them up. Once you turn out the lights and trigger the Daycare Attendant's "Moon" persona he becomes deadly and will kill you if he catches you. However, the "Moon" version of the Daycare Attendant is just as compelled to pick up objects you drop, so the strategy that gets you away from the Sun can be used to give you breathing space against the Moon.
- In the Steven Universe fangame Flawed Crystals, the boss of every area uses abilities introduced to you through the enemies leading up to them. (For example, the enemies in the Kindergarten use weak Counter Attacks to prepare you for the boss, which revolves around a much more dangerous counterattack.) Each boss also uses similar abilities to those they use when they are healed and join your party, giving you an idea of how to use them yourself.
- The Floor is Jelly has no in-game tutorials, so first time players may have trouble getting used to the bouncy jelly physics of the game world. Four screens into the game, a jumping frog shows the player how to bounce high by timing their jumps.
- There is a level in Flower which sets up some challenges that try to convince the player to move in a spiral for a later challenge. First you move in a circle around some haystacks, then in a area-filling wavy curve on a flowerbed.
- In the second level of Gamer 2, the player finds a baseball. It doesn't kill enemies directly, but it lets the player practice the throwing mechanics they'll later be using extensively with the derezzer weapon.
- God Hand:
- Stage 5-8 seems to be an interesting antepiece for the very difficult boss fight that is stage 5-9. The boss is an enormous entity compared with previous enemies, a ball-shaped thing that is very tall and wide, which is intimidating because your area of attack is really kinda small. You NEED some training, something to get you comfortable with the idea of an object so big that it requires several side-dodges to get away from. So they have you push a large metal ball the same size as the boss up a hill. You learn "hey, I don't have to be DIRECTLY in front of this thing to kick it!", for example.
- There are doors with mustache faces and club hands which are an antepiece for the dodge cancel mechanic, and the weave dodge in general. They require the player to hit them quickly in order to turn the face from green to red, and if left alone will recover back to green, but while hitting them their arms will shake regularly and clap you, so you can't just hit them uninterrupted, and the weave dodge gives upper body invincibility to avoid this, but the sidestep doesn't give enough invincibility to get through the clap easily, leaving you in the way if mistimed and the backflip gives the door time to recover. This usually teaches players to use the faster weave dodge instead of the slower backflip like they might be used to since the backflip is very invincible, but also very slow. It can also help clue them in on the dodge cancel, since they will likely dodge in the middle of one of their attacks to avoid getting clapped, and dodge cancel by accident.
- God of War:
- In God of War (2018), the Valkyries are this to their leader, Sigrun. While the preceding Valkyries have their own behvaiours and movesets, Sigrun has all of them, is unpredictable, and performs them faster. But if you've been paying attention, you'll already have learned the proper countermeasures when encountering them with the earlier Valkyries.
- God of War Ragnarök repeats the above trick with the Berserkers, who again have different move pools to teach you the full moveset used by the final one. Deliberately averted however with Valkyrie Gna: she's even tougher than Sigrun, half her moveset was not used by any of the Valkyries in 2018, and she's the only one in the game, meaning the only way to learn how to fight her is to fight her.
- Half-Life 2:
- An early setpiece: There are a bunch of barnacles on the ceiling with their tongues hanging down. There's an explosive barrel near you. If you pass the barrel to a tongue, the barrel will be pulled up to the ceiling, and you can shoot it, and it will explode near the barnacles, and they will all die in a satisfying way. BUT moving objects around and collaborating with a tongue is a pretty elaborate plan to be expected in an FPS...
So, just prior to entering this room, there's a part where you must elbow your way through a bunch of (nonexplosive) barrels. When you do this, one of them will fall down a slope and slide into a small, non-threatening group of barnacles where, in full view of the player, it will be picked up by a tongue. The player now knows barnacle tongues pick up barrels upon touching them. And even further before that, when you encounter your first barnacle, a nearby crow flies into its tongue, showing you that barnacles will pull you up and eat you should you touch the tongue. This is described in more detail, with pictures, half way through this article.
- A similar thing occurs during the airboat section. There are a number of rickety scaffolds that some Combine officers shoot down at you from. They collapse when you ram them. The first one you encounter is placed directly in front of a ramp at the top of a short hill, just low enough that you won't see it until you're already airborne, so you're likely to hit it by accident just because you wanted to take the boat off a sweet jump.
- At the very start of "Route Kanal" it's necessary to pick up the crowbar to progress, because the path is blocked by wood planks, showing that the crowbar is useful for smashing certain objects. Seconds later a Combine City Scanner flies up right in your face. It's harmless, save for a bright flash. Most players instinctively smash it with the crowbar, showing that it's also a good weapon for bashing in enemy faces. Soon after two Metrocops block the path and it's necessary to beat them to death with the crowbar to venture forth, reinforcing the lesson learned earlier.
- Not too long after in "Route Kanal" is an Airvent Passageway necessary to progress further in the level. Said airvent is also blocked by a supply crate. It's necessary to demolish the crate with the crowbar to continue, which will drop some goodies, showing that those special crates note can be a useful source of supplies.
- Ravenholm contains two examples. One, at the beginning, is a doorway that has sawblades in the frame, which you have to remove with the gravity gun. As soon as you pick one off, a headcrab zombie shuffles directly into your field of view. It could not be more of a sitting duck - you are likely to discharge the sawblade accidentally, teaching you to use the sawblade as a weapon. This is backed up by the fact the first room you enter has the top half of a zombie on top of an impaled sawblade.
- The other example is a room containing a headcrab zombie trapped in a cage. You can fill this cage with gas and then cause sparks to appear - this introduces you to gas-expelling tanks and allows you to connect it to fire and sparks without the zombie, or the fire you create, presenting you with a threat.
- During the Quiet Drama Scene in Black Mesa East, Gordon is given the Gravity Gun and instructed in its use in a variety of methods of varying levels of subtlety. One that fits firmly in this category is the game of "fetch" with Dog. Dog's "ball" is actually a Rollermine, a type of enemy that recurs later and can only be manipulated with the Gravity Gun.
- Combine Snipers, a powerful but immobile enemy, are introduced by having Gordon sneak up on a sniper nest that's pointed the wrong way on a covered bridge — that is, it can only shoot on the far side of the bridge. This means the player can see the Laser Sight and learn the proper way of dealing with the sniper (grenades) without being exposed to any real harm.
- Early in "Route Kanal", you pass a bunch of explosive barrels that are just set around a gate you need to go through. You then encounter a room where the door out is blockaded with pallets and explosive barrels. You're likely to shoot the barrels in the process of trying to get through the door, teaching you they explode. As soon as you pass through the door, you encounter Combine soldiers... standing next to an explosive barrel. In three rooms, you know what explosive barrels look like, that they explode, and that enemies are vulnerable to those explosions.
- An early setpiece: There are a bunch of barnacles on the ceiling with their tongues hanging down. There's an explosive barrel near you. If you pass the barrel to a tongue, the barrel will be pulled up to the ceiling, and you can shoot it, and it will explode near the barnacles, and they will all die in a satisfying way. BUT moving objects around and collaborating with a tongue is a pretty elaborate plan to be expected in an FPS...
- Upon landing in New Mombasa at the start of Halo 3: ODST, you have to exit your drop pod from a height that forces you to take unavoidable Falling Damage. This shows the player that, unlike the preceding Halo 2 and Halo 3, you have Regenerating Shield, Static Health, the latter of which can only be replenished at Optican stations (one of which is conveniently right there).
- Hotline Miami includes Elite Mooks who are immune to melee weapons and can only be hurt with guns. They are introduced surrounded by armed mobsters in a large room with one entrance and a nearby stash of guns, meaning the obvious tactic is to slowly pick off all the enemies using said guns from outside the room. Later on they are encountered in close quarters where they are far more dangerous, but by then you already know how to defeat them.
- Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy features a level - The Geyser Rock - which has no enemies or bottomless pits or equivalent and teaches you the basics of the game - collecting Precursor Orbs and Power Cells, attacks (on dummies), collecting Scout Flies and so on. The sequels lack such mercy.
- The entire tutorial section of Kingdom Hearts has plenty of these. In addition to teaching the controls, the station of awakening allows you to fight Shadows and Darkside without any worry of getting a game over. Once you're on Destiny Islands, the sparring matches you can do with the other kids don't penalize you for losing at all, and each fight gets you used to the timing and effects of different types of parries. In addition to that, the group fight helps you practice crowd control and dividing your focus on a group of enemies, while the Riku fight introduces the concept of Revenge Counters. Whenever you're done playing with them and you decide to advance the plot, all bets are off: you'll fight Darkside from the Station of Awakening again but he'll actually give you a Game Over this time if you die, and almost all later fights will do so too. The Riku sparring match should also get you used to the fights against him later, which build off his moveset.
- Kingdom Hearts II: The tutorial section with Roxas makes great pains to get you prepared for all sorts of situations later in the game by practicing on mundane tasks. Almost all the jobs and wonders of Twilight Town each introduce and let you practice a concept while you're currently in no danger of game over. Every one of these concepts become important in the later parts of the game, especially on higher difficulties.
- Cargo Climb only is about making sure you're attacking from the right position, but also introduces Revenge Counters and reacting properly to them- in this case, parrying, which clears the mini game faster and gets you more money.
- Grandstander is blatant in what it lets you practice: air combos. You get scored on how many hits you get before the ball touches the ground, getting you more money.
- Poster Duty is a platforming exercise- you have to jump around to all the poster spots in town without worrying about enemies or fights.
- Bumble Buster pits you against waves of enemies that spawn in groups but whose attacks don't do any damage, they merely slow you down, letting you practice efficient crowd control.
- Junk Sweep is similar, but since it scores you more for using fewer attacks, on targets that can only be destroyed with combo finishers, you're taught the importance of combo finishers in crowd control and repositioning your targets.
- Mail Delivery is a simple exercise in Reaction Commands; the window you have for delivering the mail is very short if you go by the target at full speed, but the only penalty for missing the window is having to backtrack and losing a couple seconds on the clock.
- The Friend Beyond The Wall not only teaches you about dodging attacks while closing in on a target without any worry of taking damage, it also teaches you the importance of the recently learned Aerial Recovery ability, which not only helps you regain control after getting launched, it also parries the balls.
- The Moan From The Tunnel is a slightly harder version of Bumble Buster. This time you have many more enemies with stronger attacks appearing faster, but since they all have 1 hp, you can keep yourself from getting overwhelmed by properly practicing your crowd control skills.
- The Doppelganger puts you in a one-on-one fight on an enemy with equal footing, but there still isn't any worry of game over, and his attack pattern makes it easy to land parries on him if you're aggressive, showing you how important parries are against individual enemies.
- The Animated Bag is another Reaction Command exercise. This time, the window to pull one off is smaller, but paying attention to the animation of the bag lets you know when a reaction command will come up, making it much easier to pull one off if you're paying attention.
- The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky. During the Tournament Arc, you get to watch the other teams' matches play out as scripted battles, which give you an idea how their skills work before you have to deal with them yourself.
- The Legend of Zelda:
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: During the prologue, Link is transformed into a Deku Scrub, which changes the control scheme. Thus, when Link enters the second room, Tatl teaches him about the Deku Flowers and how to fly with them. There's no bottomless pit here, so Link can practice the flight controls here safely; in the following room, there's a huge chasm, so Link will need to show he has gotten the hang of flying. This is repeated with the Goron and Zora transformations, as in the respective nearby areas where they're obtained there's plenty of space to practice their unique abilities (curling in the snowy slopes, swimming in the wide waters of Great Bay), so Link can subsequently venture into more dangerous areas that require them (curling to jump large chasms to reach Snowhead, swimming through the narrow, explosive-guarded underwater passageways in the Pirate's Fortress).
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages:
- The first floor of Dungeon 8 features a simple puzzle you must solve to open a tomb and descend to a lower level. One of the lower levels is a giant, sprawling maze where the puzzle is to eventually open a similar tomb to gain access to the final floor.
- Dungeon 8 has a second antepiece before the boss battle: the corridor before the boss room has four obstacles that need to be cleared with four different items (Sword, Bomb, Seed Shooter and Power Glove). You need to use those items in that order in each of the boss' four phases. One of the reasons said boss is considered among the hardest of the game is that most players didn't notice that said room gives you hints to beat it.
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: A large part of Lanayru Province is based on how the concept of the Timeshift Stones gradually increases its complexity and importance: The first such stone, found in Lanayru Mine, is in a hazard-free area where Link can activate it to revive some robots and use the now-functional electric minecarts, so he can quickly familiarize with how time travel works with these devices; subsequent stones have to be activated to sort bigger obstacles like quicksand, pitfalls and spiky obstuctions. By the time Link reaches the Lanayru Mining Facility, he'll deal with stones attached to magnetic carts that move when they're activated, meaning that he has to perform the corresponding actions quickly to avoid being outrun and having to repeat the process. As the game progresses and more areas of Lanayru Province are unlocked, Link will face bigger challenges like navigating through a Sand Sea by using a motorboat that turns any nearby sand into water (which also brings back enemies and hazards that no longer exist in the present, so it's by no means a harmless ordeal), using a Timeshift Orb to make the surroundings of the Pirate Stronghold regress into their past form as Link walks past them, using only one Timeshift Stone available in the Sandship (by shooting it from different angles and locations) to change everything between past and present at once, and finally transporting a normal Timeshift Stone with a cart that moves through the gigantic loop of Lanayru Gorge (filled with all sorts of enemies, pitfalls, obstructions and hazards) to take it to the remains of the Thunder Dragon to revive him.
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds revolves around a mechanic that allows you to merge into walls and travel along them. The boss of the Thieves' Hideout dungeon must be defeated by merging into his shield, waiting for him to hold his arms out while looking for you, and then emerging and hitting him in the back. This would seem unintuitive, since shields aren't walls. Fortunately, a hallway earlier in the dungeon is lined with those same shields, and they have hearts or rupees drawn on them, indicating that you can merge into the shield to collect them. Also, immediately before the boss, there is another shield moving back and forth across a gap, which you must merge into in order to get to the treasure chest containing the Big Key (required to even access the boss).
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: The first Guardians you encounter are stationary Decayed Guardians in the ruins of an abbey on the Great Plateau. After a brief cutscene showing one activating when you approach the area, you'll soon find that the walls of the ruins easily allow you to hide behind them to avoid the Guardians' lasers. This provides a relatively safe opportunity to get used to the attack patterns of Guardians before you encounter all the variants off the Great Plateau that aren't stationary and aren't blocked by walls or other things.
- There are antepieces to help you get used to the mechanics needed to combat the Divine Beasts in Breath of the Wild:
- For Vah Ruta, you'll need to swim up waterfalls to get high enough to activate Link's Bullet Time so you can fire Shock Arrows into the orbs at its shoulders. You can get some practice for the timing by swimming up the waterfalls around Zora's Domain and aiming at the surrounding wildlife.
- For Vah Naboris, sand seals are needed to get close enough to shoot Bomb Arrows at its feet. The area needed to trigger the event is far enough to get used to sand seal surfing.
- For Vah Rudania, the only way to corral it into Death Mountain's crater is to fire Yunobo into it using the cannons found all over. While they aren't too complicated to use, there are still plenty of those same cannons found across the Abandoned North Mine that teaches the player that they can be fired while in motion, thus allowing the player to pick off any Sentries they find up ahead.
- For Vah Medoh, Link's Bullet Time skill is also needed to shoot Bomb Arrows into Medoh's cannons. The Flight Range can be used as a means of target practice.
- The Mega Man (Classic) games have their share of antepieces. Egoraptor describes a bunch of them in this video - an obvious example is the flicky platforms in Guts Man's stage that turn whenever they hit a gap in their line. The first flicky platform is an antepiece - when it doesn't do any flicking at all, so being on it is trivial. It's clear, when you see a nearby platform flick, that the flick is caused by a gap in the line.
- Mega Man X does this in levels for their individual gimmicks, with the SNES games in particular being a masterclass on the subject.
- The first level of Mega Man X uses antepeices for all the new mechanics added to the game, some of which are also highlighted in the aforementioned video by Egoraptor. It uses Spiky, Crusher, and Gun Volt enemies early on to show the player how to avoid damage, and to give them an opportunity to learn how to use X's Buster in combat. If the player hasn't figured out how to charge the Buster by the time they get to Vile, Zero will demonstrate the mechanic for them in his Establishing Character Moment. The stage also gives players a pit with no immediate danger present, giving them a safe place to discover and practice the new Wall Jump mechanic.
- The stages in Mega Man X are a series of antepiece mini-tutorials preparing the player for that stage's boss fight. Let's take Flame Mammoth as an example. Most of his stage is teaching the player how to stay alive against him, especially when he starts jumping around. The conveyor belt you'll be fighting Mammoth on is one of the first setpieces you encounter. The player has to jump over the junk and Scrap Robos and run/dash under the chutes dropping them to proceed, which establishes the importance of timing in avoiding Flame Mammoth's attacks. The Dig Labour enemies throwing pickaxes at you from all directions emphasize dodging and quick thinking; Flame Mammoth will be moving around the room near-constantly, so you need to be on your toes. The section of Rolling Gabyoalls teaches you to jump over oil puddles Mammoth will drop and try to ignite, with the lava drips enforcing the need to watch out for Mammoth himself trying to jump on your head. The Hoganmer enemy's reach with their mace is about how much distance you'll need to keep between yourself and Mammoth to give yourself room to dodge. And finally, as an added bonus, the Dig Labour part of the stage has a lot of low-hanging ledges and platforms that the player can jump up to, and then Wall Jump on top of. If you beat Mammoth before going after Chill Penguin, you'll find a similar ledge about halfway through his stage, where you'll find ice bunkers to practice using your new Fire Wave weapon on before using it on Chill himself (and you even get rewarded with a Heart Tank!).
- Magna Centipede's stage in Mega Man X2 has searchlights that trigger defense systems if they see X, dropping turrets from the ceiling and causing some floors to fall away, but the first area of the stage with these hazards has platforms over all of them, so players aren't in any real danger yet. Crystal Snail's level has large shards of crystal that break free and slide toward X when he gets close, and they can crush and kill him if they force him into a wall, but the first such crystal is encountered with a small pit in front of it, giving players a chance to observe how it works without any danger. Overdrive Ostrich's stage has a ramp in the first part that falls over when you shoot it, a necessary skill for the rest of the stage when riding the Hover Chaser.
- A cutscene variation exists in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, just before you battle the massive Metal Gear Sahelanthropus. The boss is kind enough to use each of its attacks on the XOF force arrayed against it, so that when you're fighting it yourself you aren't surprised, for instance, by the massive laser whip that causes spikes to jut out of the ground.
- This game is hard, but the devs will sometimes precede hard parts with easier versions of the hard part to give you some safe practice. It also doubles as Instructive Level Design.
- The area where you find the Morph Ball is right next to a high wall that you can jump over from one side, but traps you on the other—the only exit out is a small space that Samus can't crawl into. The only way out is to grab the power-up and then use the new power to go through it, a warm up for the next crawl space up ahead that's littered with enemies. This entire sequence also teaches the player that, while obvious in hindsight, unlike near every other platformer at the time you won't always be able to proceed by going right and will need to head in all directions in order to make progress in the game.
- As soon as you go right, you'll be attacked from above by Skrees. They move too fast for you to stop in time by shooting them from the side, teaching the player that they can shoot up to attack them. The Reo and Waver enemies also encourage the player to learn how to time Samus' flip jumps in order to dodge their patterns of movement, as the move is crucial to survival throughout the game.
- In this game — and Metroid: Zero Mission — there is a difficult shaft you must climb at the very end. At the start of this last level, there is a similar shaft with wider platforms.
- Even the vertical chamber in Brinstar that leads to Tourian's entrance could be considered another antepiece, given that it familiarizes players with ascending tall shafts with careful jumping and platforming.
- The same shaft is revisited in Super Metroid without the time limit. The first time through, you just fall down as you explore the ruins of the old Tourian. But when you backtrack after getting the Morph Ball, said ruins are swarming with Space Pirates. Your initial fall through that shaft was meant to let you get a feel for the layout before you have to face enemies at the same time as you jump up it.
- Super Metroid:
- The game features animal friends that show Samus how to do various moves, such as the Wall Jump and the Shinespark, typically in advance of when you actually need to use them.
- In the second room of the Ceres research station, the first area of the game, there's a small step you have to jump up on, in contrast to the many stairs in the rest of the area. This forces you to jump at least once and get a basic understanding of how the jump mechanics work, before you're pressed by time in the escape out of the area. You also meet Ridley there in a mock Boss Battle to test out your shooting skills, as the fight will end either when you damage him enough, or you lose too much health.
- The first Metroid has a vertical tunnel at the start of Tourian that requires you to drop down the numerous platforms; the final vertical tunnel during the timed escape sequence is nearly identical, except the platforms are narrower and require you to jump up them under a time limit. The latter tunnel is revisited near the start of Super Metroid and used in a similar fashion: you drop down the platforms on your way to collect the Morph Ball, and making your way back requires you to not only carefully jump up the platforms but also dispatch the Zebesians that are now jumping across the walls.
- A classic Metroid puzzle involves getting through an area with tough obstacles then getting an ability that trivializes such obstacles, such as the Speed Booster in Super or the Screw Attack in Fusion.
- When you visit the Sanctuary Temple in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, you'll see the uncompiled components of a big Luminoth security robot strewn about the room. You'll eventually be able to use the Spider Ball to go up one of the legs of this machine and use the Boost Ball to propel off of the legs onto another Spider Ball track. Upon reaching the Dark Aether equivalent of this room, the Hive Temple, you'll discover that the Ing have compiled parts similar to those in the Sanctuary Temple into the boss robot Quadraxis. The final phase of the Quadraxis battle involves using the Boost Ball to jump off of its damaged legs onto its floating head.
- Metroid Dread: To destroy the E.M.M.I. robots, Samus must first defeat the nearby Central Units and get the Omega Cannon from them. Exiting the Central Unit rooms requires you to take out the door using the Omega Cannon so you have an idea to use the new weapon without fear of death.
- Anna Anthropy used antepieces in Mighty Jill Off. There is a particular one-screen challenge which contains three individual, challenging, movements. Each movement has previously been presented to the player in isolation. This gif shows the room and the three previous parts of the game. Anna describes the whole thing in this lecture.
- In Montezuma's Revenge, the first screen◊ is a low risk environment meant to instruct you on the game's basic mechanics and jump physics. You can't leave the room without grabbing the key, and in your path is a rolling skull that you can't attack and will kill you instantly on contact, and it requires a very precise running jump to avoid it, since you can't jump on the treadmill above it, and jumping while standing still won't let you avoid it, since it moves too slowly. You can't simply drop down ahead of the skull from the upper floor, since any fall from more than a couple feet will kill you. The game does give you the option of using the ladder in the center of the room to let you bypass the skull by just climbing down, but since you can't jump back up to it, you're going to have to jump over the skull anyway. The little stairs near the key also give a subtle indication of how your jump and movement mechanics work, even in little situations like these that will pop up later on.
- The puzzle game Music Of The Spheres uses an antepiece towards the end of the game. The final puzzle of the game involves a strategy that will allows you to detect the movement of an off-screen enemy. The levels before that final puzzle are very similar in structure to it, except that you CAN see the place that will later be hidden from you. This allows you to get accustomed to the structure of the challenge before the challenging part is actually introduced. Other examples of antepieces can be seen at the bottom of this article.◊
- Mystery Quest for the Nintendo Entertainment System has a simple pit for unwary players to fall into. This pit is harmless, but requires Wall Jumping skills to get out of. This prepares for a mandatory Wall Jump later on.
- Patrick's Parabox: Whenever a new world introduces a puzzle element, it does so with a puzzle that is easy to solve.
- The mid-eighties puzzle game Pitman (aka 'Catrap') has very clear antepieces. In this image the left puzzle is the antepiece for the right one.
- While Pizza Tower features a new mechanic (or even multiple) in virtually every stage, the game does a very good job of creating antepieces to safely introduce each gimmick. The first room that displays any given transformation, mechanically unusual enemy, or other new thing will generally be hazard-free and straightforward, with increasingly complex variations and combinations as you progress through the stage until at the end you're interacting with the gimmicks under the time limit of Pizza Time. For example, the first time you have to use a bomb to defeat a Stupid Rat in The Ancient Cheese, the bomb spawner is right next to the rat; By the end of the stage, you need to carry the bomb across several platforms over a big pit while the escape timer is ticking down.
- Poptropica teaches you how to use the crossbow through some obstacles throughout Vampire's Curse Island. First, you use it to climb and reach a plant in a low-stakes scenario, then you use it to scale the castle for Mandrake Root in a much more challenging bit of platforming.
- Portal was designed to have as many antepieces as possible. Test chamber ten is a three section chamber. The second and third sections are about throwing yourself down a pit into a portal at the bottom and flying out of a wall. But the FIRST section of chamber ten is barely a puzzle at all; it's just a panel and a staircase. All the player has to do to keep moving is make a portal anywhere and go into it. But it introduces a structure that is going to be immediately built upon to get more thoughtful puzzles. As a side note, the developers felt it was a failure that they had to explicitly tell you how to use momentum, since there was no way to convey it through an Antepiece.
- In the developer commentary of Portal 2, they mention instructive level design about bombs. The final battle of the game requires creative use of taking the bombs the boss throws and portalling them back. However, the bombs show up one level before, ejected out of a pipe in a controlled repetitive fashion, so the player can get used to their trajectory.
- Purgatory (RPG Maker): To access the room containing the first elevator, you must push three levers, and once you push a lever, the button on the other end will activate, and you must push the button. This sets the player up for the fight against the Butcher, where they must push all the levers and buttons to win.
- A few gimmicks in Shovel Knight are introduced with antepieces. For example, one room in Pridemoor Keep has a large Spell Book which when struck conjures temporary platforms from pages which must be used to get on an otherwise unreachable platform to progress. What follows is a long hallway where you use these books to cross yawning Bottomless Pits.
- Many Splatoon single-player levels are set up like this, with a new mechanic being introduced at the beginning of the level in a relatively low-risk environment, and then ramping up the difficulty and complexity as the level goes on. For example, a level's gimmick could be sponge platforms that grow in size as you shoot them with ink, but shrink if they're shot by enemies. The first sponge you encounter will be sitting on a large platform next to a few weak enemies, giving the player plenty of time to learn how the sponge works. Fast-forward to the last challenge in the level, where you'll be platforming and climbing over a series of sponges floating above a Bottomless Pit while being barraged by several enemies.
- In Starbound, you obtain the first set of techs (dash, pulse jump, and distortion sphere) by testing them out in training areas set up by their developer - the idea is that he wants to see if they work properly. The training areas, of course, allow for ample opportunities to experiment and fail as much as you need (in a safe environment) until you've familiarized yourself with everything.
- Super Mario Bros.:
- Super Mario Bros.: According to Word of God, the entire first stage is designed to be this for the game as a whole, providing a sort of tutorial on how to play the game without the usage of words. One such example within the stage itself provides the page picture. In this case, the challenge is "jump up a staircase and land on the top step. Maintain enough momentum control that you don't over jump and end up in the pit". That is what you MUST do to get past the staircase on the right. Getting past the one on the left is easier, because you're allowed to fall in the pit without dying. So the first staircase is not any kind of challenge in itself, it's simply a stern warning about what's about to come.
- Super Mario Bros. 2 does this not only with its level design, but also with the boss battles:
- The very first screens of the game establish right off the bat that the game mechanics are different from the original Mario game in three visual ways: First, you drop down from a great height and scroll vertically through several screens, unlike the original game, which only had horizontal scrolling. Second, you find out immediately that you can't hurt enemies by jumping on them, and since a player will be familiar with the run button (which worked as the Fireball button in the previous game), they will likely find out right away that you can pick up an enemy when you're moving or running on them, and since a second enemy is nearby, the player may realize they can attack him by throwing the Shy Guy they're holding. Naturally, this new discovery may encourage the player to see if they can grab other objects, such as the nearest patch of grass, which gives you a throwable vegetable. And third, moving left to right on the screen will loop you around to the other side, immediately tipping off the player that the Ratchet Scrolling of the original game has been dropped, and alerts the player that the only way to exit the screen is by figuring out how to use the nearby door.
- At the end of the first level, players face their first encounter with the Pink Birdo. There are no items or even enemies to grab in her boss room. After being taught that enemies can be defeated by grabbing and throwing things at them, the player has to figure out how to defeat Birdo without nearby things to throw. They will discover that they can only defeat Birdo by grabbing the eggs she spits at them and throwing them back at her, which showcases and teaches the very different and dynamic boss encounters the game offers compared to the original. And each level will gradually increase the complexity of the Birdo fights so the player needs to hone their combat skills: The fight in World 1-2 reduces the space of the battlefield (thus requiring quicker reflexes to grab the eggs), the fight in 2-1 takes place in a perilous area where both end sides have Bottomless Pits, the fight in 2-2 pits you against Red Birdo (who is now red and will shoot both eggs and fireballs, hence why the use of Mushroom Blocks to attack her is advised), the fight in 3-1 has Birdo and a bottomless pit, 4-2 removes the Mushroom Blocks and brings back the pit while also adding slippery ice, 5-1 has Green Birdo (shoots fireballs only) and only one Mushroom Block, etc.
- Super Mario Bros. 3 does this between two levels in World 7, as explained in this video. In the third numbered level, there are blocks that usually just give coins when hit, but if Mario or Luigi is under the effect of the Super Star powerup the hit block will release another Super Star, allowing them to prolong their invincibility status; the level is designed around this concept, allowing the player to attempt a full run while being invincible. Later in the world, but in the seventh numbered level, it's no longer an optional luxury: You have to employ this concept to be invincible at all times because all pipes are overrun by Munchers, so if you fail to reach the next Super Star in time (again, the blocks will only drop single coins if they're hit without the invincibility being active), you'll be doomed to lose a life.
- Super Mario Land also has a few antepieces. In this image, you can see the third boss on the far right, who tries to crush you by throwing bouncing stones. On the far left, positioned just before you will encounter him, you can see one of those bouncing stones. That anticipatory stone presents no real danger, because it only bounces beneath the question boxes, which you can jump onto. The purpose of the stone is to warn you about what is ahead and maybe give you the opportunity to practice dodging and jumping on them in an enclosed environment.
- Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island uses antepieces frequently. An example: Naval Piranha's castle features several rooms teaching the player how to ricochet eggs off walls to collect items. This is the only way to damage the boss at the end of the stage.note
- Super Mario 64 uses antepieces as well.
- The Castle's "Secret Slide" (easily accessible from the lobby) is a very short and easy challenge, as the slide has barriers around most of it that keep you from accidentally falling off—the only "challenge" imposed on the player is a sharp turn and a brief part of the slide with no barriers midway through. Even then, the slide doesn't penalize you for losing by taking away a life—it just sets you back in the lobby. Later on, you encounter two more slide levels in Cool, Cool Mountain and Tall Tall Mountain, where the training wheels come off and you're forced to do slides over bottomless pits, with no safety barriers and plenty of sharp turns—one of them even has you do a penguin racing match! The first slide is also an indicator that there are many more secret stars hidden in the castle, including one hidden in itself—a second star appears if you beat it in less than 21 seconds, which is tricky for beginners, but far from unfeasible, and it allows you to practice before the aforementioned penguin race in Cool, Cool Mountain. And on top of all that, the slide has 80 total coins, and getting 50 nets you a 1-Up on getting its stars, on top of a 1-Up Mushroom riding along the middle part of the course, encouraging the player to practice get used to the slides physics.
- The Tower of the Wing Cap and The Secret Aquarium likewise prep you for the task of practicing flying and swimming, two aspects of the game with fairly high learning curves, by placing you in obstacle and enemy free environments where you only goal is to acquire Red Coins, which you can replay at any time.note
- In "Bob-omb Battlefield", even before King Bob-omb gives the idea that you have to pick up and throw him, players can discover that you can pick up and throw his minion Bob-ombs earlier, giving a hint on how to best him ahead of time.
- Whomp's Fortress has three of these; first, a series of moving walls (Bomps) that just push you off the first ledge of the levels main route and onto the nearby ground, which is a warmup for the moving platforms above a bottomless pit straight ahead. Just after that, you'll find a small bridge that collapses as soon as you run across it, positioned at a height that isn't particularly dangerous for Mario (and getting back up there to retry takes mere seconds). It's a low risk challenge on it's own that you can skip via a thin ledge nearby, but it preps you for a similar collapsing bridge in Big Boo's Haunt, which is even smaller, locked in a tricky camera angle, and on top of that, sends you straight into the basement if you fall off it, forcing you to backtrack all the way back upstairs. And finally, you encounter Whomps shortly before you fight King Whomp, which show his attack pattern, although they are much smaller and easier to dodge than him, and only take one hit to kill.
- Super Mario Sunshine:
- The sinkable mud boats are first found in Noki Bay, where you can practice using them without fear of punishment for crashing them. They are not mandatory to completing any level in Noki Bay, but are very handy for collecting a number of blue coins scattered above the waters. However, a mandatory mud boat section later shows up in Corona Mountain (the Very Definitely Final Dungeon), where crashing the boat will get you killed due to the lava.
- A similar, more relatively short-term example are the lily pads in Bianco Hills. Most of the time, you have ample time to practice using the lily pads to float around the lake. Since they are more durable than the mud boats, you can cruise around the lake at your leisure, going to places with blue coins in the water. When the lake gets contaminated though, the lily pads will eventually expire, forcing you to find a replacement, and this is one of two routes you'll need to use to access the episode's obstacle level (the other is a triple jump from the windmill spire). This also comes back during the infamous storm drain secret level in Delfino Plaza.
- The first few fights against Polluted Piranha Plants teach the basic mechanics of F.L.U.D.D.- namely that the timing and direction of F.L.U.D.D.’s spray matter when trying to deal effective damage against bosses. The areas these enemies are fought in are open spaces surrounded by water so the player can experiment with low stakes. The first fight against Petey Piranha is fought in a smaller and enclosed space with no water, but the physical similarities between these two bosses clues the player in that the general strategy of beating these bosses should also be similar.
- The Bowser pad on the lighthouse roof. These are littered around the edges of the final boss arena and are used the same way; if you didn't do the one on the lighthouse, you might not have known immediately what to do. But then again, it doesn't appear in any place other than the two mentioned.
- Super Mario Galaxy: Nearly every boss level features a game mechanic or enemies with unique defeat strategies (if the boss is a King Mook) that will be used to defeat the boss.
- King Kaliente's Good Egg Galaxy encounter will see you fight some Octopus enemies who spit coconuts before he can proceed. Defeating them involves spinning their coconuts back into them, teaching you how to beat King Kaliente, whose fight consists of playing tennis with him when he shoots a non-flaming coconut.
- The Kamella's Airship Attack level revolves around throwing Koopa shells to break chests and progress through the level. Kamella is defeated by throwing the shells she summons at her.
- Major Burrows' minions are the Undergrunts, enemies you have to ground-pound to get them out of the ground, and then jump on them/spin them to kill them. Major Burrows is a very large Undergrunt, so naturally, the same strategy is required, though you have to chase him once he's out of the ground.
- Baron Brrr is an enlarged Li'l Brrr. The Li'l Brrrs are defeated by spinning them (they float) to extinguish their ice cloud and bring them to the ground. They will turn darker and bounce around the ground, trying to fall into ice water to revive themselves. If you kick them by walking into them in this state, they will be defeated, and drop a coin. Their Baron is very much the same, but with added attacks.
- An example between levels comes with Bonefin Galaxy, featuring the Kingfin boss fight. The fight takes place underwater while you ride Koopa shells and throw them to hit the boss. Drip Drop Galaxy precedes the level, teaching you about this style of fighting as you're tasked with hiting three Gringills underwater with Koopa shells. In fact, Bonefin Galaxy only becomes available after clearing Drip Drop, ensuring the player has a safer tutorial for underwater fighting before they take it to the boss.
- The first mission in Toy Time Galaxy has Mario either screw or unscrew setpieces that are attached to walls and floors, which can be done by shaking the Wiimote (or the Joy-Cons in the 3D All-Stars version); and in the second half, he begins using the Spring Mushroom to jump onto high areas. When time comes to storm Mecha-Bowser at the end, Mario has to disable its parts by screwing some parts and unscrewing others, and eventually he has to reach the head by using the Spring Mushroom so he can Ground Pound it and destroy the whole structure.
- Sand Spiral Galaxy only becomes available after completing the first mission of Ghostly Galaxy (which introduces the Boo Mushroom that Sand Spiral prominently features in its first half)note . The Hungry Luma leading to Sling Pod Galaxy is only unlocked after the third mission of Space Junk Galaxy (which introduces the titular Sling Pods). The Hungry Luma leading to Drip Drop Galaxy itself is only unlocked after the first mission of Beach Bowl Galaxy (which teaches the player how to swim underwater). And lastly, Matter Splatter Galaxy is only unlocked after the first mission of Toy Time Galaxy (which introduces the Spring Mushroom that is required to use for part of Matter Splatter).
- Throughout, in various levels, there are rolling geode/boulder obstacles that can be destroyed by spinning their red crystalline cores. In the final battle, Bowser takes on a boulder covering, and due to the boulders before, the player should have learned by this point that spinning his exposed face breaks it. This might work the other way, however- it's not the most intuitive to try to break the giant invincible boulders, so the final boss may instead suggest that the obstacles are vulnerable.
- Super Mario Galaxy 2 features a level that involves Yoshi spitting Bullet Bills at glass domes to break them. The concept is introduced with Bullet Bills firing in a slow, predictable pattern, and the glass dome being stationary. Later, the Bullet Bills are aimed, and Yoshi must spit out the Bullet Bills while on a moving platform. This leads up to fighting a boss using the same techniques, while in a hectic environment.
- Mario Kart 7:
- Toad Circuit has an optional ramp with a glider launchpad, usually only used after the first lap. Using it doesn't take your kart very far (it's actually better to ignore it), but it lets the player get used to the gliding controls. Then the next level, Daisy Hills, has a larger gliding section at the end, with more obstacles to avoid (and the lake below acting as a Bottomless Pit) and its launchpads are mandatory to progress.
- Partway through Rainbow Road, a glider launchpad leads directly into a large star ring that gives the racers a small speed boost. In the final third of the race, the track opens into an open gliding section where racers have to avoid floating asteroids and fly through a series of smaller, spread-out star rings to stay in flight.
- Super Mario 3D World:
- The game has the Hisstocrat boss, which requires you to climb up his fellow snake monsters with the Cat Suit so you can jump from them onto his head. Before all this, there are stone pillars in non-boss levels that resemble the snake monsters and have arrows up their bellies that encourage you to climb up them, foreshadowing the boss fight.
- Bowser's Highway Showdown is littered with bombs shaped like soccer balls that you can kick to light them and make them explode, either to defeat enemies or break open certain brick walls. Initially, there are a couple just laying in the middle of the path to be kicked, but are seen later being shot out of cannons already lit and rolling toward you. This foreshadows the more complex dodging and kicking of the bombs required to take down Bowser himself.
- The level Cakewalk Flip in World 5 introduces the flipping platforms first seen in Super Mario Galaxy 2. The first set of such platforms are above safe ground, which helps the player practice with the concept of these platforms without any risk. The next thing shown is flipping platforms over a chasm, and by that point the player must be more careful with dealing with them to avoid dying. See here for a visual explanation of this example.
- Super Mario Maker has different antepieces than usual; the tools in the game are unlocked gradually, day by day. Whenever a new set of tools in unlocked, the player gets the option to play a sample level which showcases the objects they just unlocked. Sample courses available via the 10-Mario Challenge are also partially designed to give players ideas as to how they can use the tools creatively.
- Super Mario Odyssey: Each kingdom typically follows a predictable layout: introduce a new type of gameplay mechanic or capture ability and let players experiment around it, then present some more difficult challenges for the player using that mechanic, before finally culminating in a boss fight which uses it. For example:
- In the Sand Kingdom, players are given the ability to capture Bullet Bills, which behave like steerable rockets. They are first given the chance to try hitting some cacti and Goombas with them to test them out. In the Inverted Pyramid, they must navigate Bullet Bills through moving obstacles. Finally, players must use what they've learned in the boss battle against Knucklotec, where they must capture his fists and punch him right in the face to defeat him.
- In the Luncheon Kingdom, players are able to capture Lava Bubble enemies and swim through lava. The kingdom's overabundance of bubblegum-pink lava and cannon cauldrons lets players fool around and get familiar with their controls. Later in the kingdom, players must climb Mount Volbono as a Lava Bubble by jumping from one puddle of lava to another, and use then use them to defeat the Cookatiel boss by swimming up the lava streams which it spits out.
- In Bowser's Kingdom, players can capture Pokios, birds with spear-like beaks. They'll need to use them to attach to walls and then spring up them to get to the top of the level, as well as deflect bombs that roll throughout the area. At the end, they must use what they've learned to disable and scale the gigantic RoboBrood mech to reach and defeat the Broodals piloting it.
- Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon: A couple of mechanics appear to train the player for their use against bosses.
- Gloomy Manor's penultimate level focuses on burning the spiderwebs that have taken over the house, allowing you to practice with web balls and attached web sacs, which are used to clear out larger webs. These skills are necessary to force the Grouchy Possessor out of his spider host in the boss mission.
- The Tough Possessor haunts suits of armor, who must be knocked onto their backs by pulling rugs out from under them. The first mission of the Treacherous Mansion features a couple of Greenies with the same tactic and defeat strategy so you know what to do when you eventually face the boss.
- The Boos you capture throughout the game should have you well prepared for the Big Boo fight, which requires a similar approach.
- The Tales Series loves doing this, particularly with one-on-one fights or otherwise fights against enemies or bosses that have complex movesets that would take a couple of tries to get used to reacting.
- Tales of the Abyss does this with Asch, who fights the main character in a one-on-one battle where it doesn't matter whether or not you lose, the game progresses more or less the same afterwards. You also get a cutscene during battle upon doing certain moves, said move happens to correspond to an effective strategy on the boss. You'll have this and other opportunities to study his moveset, and it's important, because you'll have to fight him in a one-on-one fight for real in the final dungeon.
- Tales of Vesperia would pull this off again, by having you run into Flynn in the colosseum at Nordopolica. There's no risk of game over in the fight, and it interrupts with cutscenes, but it does offer a glimpse of his general strategy and his expansive moveset alongside the idea of having to fight him alone, which comes in handy when it comes time to actually one-on-one him near the end of the game. This is then subverted in that you don't need to win the Setpiece either, it just gives you greater reward to do so.
- Tales of Xillia has a long term one. About halfway into the game you get a boss fight against Gaius after a gauntlet of enemies. While he's really tough and has a moveset that's hard to react to the first time you see it, he stands out among other boss fights in that the game doesn't actually care whether you win or lose-the cutscene plays out the same, and as such, there's no danger to failing the fight. being able to see his moveset and get used to it is important, because he's the final boss.
- Tales of Xillia 2 would use this as well, with the first thing you do on a new game is a fight against a character you won't normally face until much later in the game... but there's no HUD and no worry about losing. This gets you used to how fights feel in general as well as that specific opponent's moveset.
- Tales Of The Rays does this in the tutorial. The tutorial not only serves as an antepiece that lets you get used to how the game controls in general, it also gives you a nice sneak peak at the game's Climax Boss. You can't lose the fight here, but he'll have the same moves and strength when it comes time to actually battle him in the story.
- Underhero: Before you can fight El Salserissimo, you have to get his attention by making some spicy salsa for him. This is done via a minigame that involves climbing up a rope to a conveyor belt and waiting for specific peppers to appear before jumping on the buttons they're attached to and making them fall into the pot below. Then the boss fight itself involves doing the same thing on a larger scale in order to drop bombs into his mouth and stun him.
- After Toriel saves you from Flowey, she guides you to a training dummy and tells you to practice talking to it. The dummy itself doesn't attack, allowing you to experiment with the different buttons. If you fight it, you'll win the battle all the same, but Toriel will be upset with you, clueing you in that fighting is going to be frowned upon in this game.
- Napstablook's second attack says "Not really feeling up to it right now. Sorry." This text floats right over the player's SOUL, but does absolutely nothing. This clues the player in that there will be a lot of different kinds of moves.
- Doggo is the first enemy in the game to use blue attacks, which don't hurt the player if their SOUL isn't moving. Doggo only uses blue attacks, explicitly states that he can only see moving things, and the attack fills the entire space the player can move in order to make them stay still to avoid it. All of this is done to clue players in that blue attacks don't hurt them if they're not moving.
- After meeting Alphys, the player is introduced to orange lasers. These are the opposite of blue attacks; whereas blue moves can only be dodged by staying still, orange attacks can only be dodged by moving through them without stopping. The lasers are set up in such a way that they alternate between orange and blue to give the player an idea as to how to dodge orange attacks.
- VVVVVV: In the room "Playing Foosball", the player moves from left to right, through a field of lines that automatically flips gravitynote . To get through the room they can just hold right. The next room, "A Difficult Chord", is the same thing but made much trickier by the addition of extra spikes, but the player has a pattern in mind to help them.
- One recurring obstacle in Wario Land 3 is a security door that Wario cannot pass through unless he is invisible. The first time you find one of these doors, there is conveniently a Mad Scienstein right next to it who can turn Wario invisible and immediately allow him to pass. Later challenges would require Wario to preemptively become invisible and try to reach the security door without losing his invisibility.
- The Witness: Most areas begin with a short set of puzzles, which are so simple that can be solved without understanding the area's rules yet, but usually show the player how future puzzles in that area will work. What's more, the game's starting area is composed of basic maze puzzles which serve as the basis for every following puzzle in the game, and right after leaving the starting area, there are two set of puzzles that teach about squares and dots respectively, which are involved in lots of puzzles in the laser areas.
- World of Warcraft:
- The game has many trash mob/mook encounters in its dungeons and raids that often, but not always, have a toned-down version of the next boss's "mechanics" or set of skills, introducing the group of players to some of the more crucial things to watch out for in the coming battle.
- In one wing of Naxxramas, there exist several gargoyle enemies that spit out poison, and if you take too long to kill them once they've hit a certain percentage, they'll turn to stone and regenerate all their health. Because these mechanics combine to create a difficult encounter for the unprepared, the first gargoyle you encounter doesn't do the poison spit attack, so that you learn about the health regen move in a less strenuous situation.
- Yo! Noid 2: Enter the Void:
- In Plizzanet, you're required to go to the Noid Core to get a key, and this area has new gravity physics, as it's a small spherical platform. After using the key to ride a rocket to the Noid Roid, you'll have to deal with the same gravity, but with actual platforming this time.
- One section in the final stage requires you to break a glass monitor, which requires grabbing one of the nearby dice with the Noid's yo-yo and spinning in circles to launch it with enough force to break the screen. This comes right before a boss fight where you have to do the same thing in more tense circumstances.