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Arbitrarily Serialized Simultaneous Adventures

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In most games, you steer a single character through a continuous adventure. This is about when a game allows you to sequentially take control of multiple characters on chronologically simultaneous adventures in any order you desire. This can happen at the beginning (overlapping with Multiple Game Openings) or in the middle of the game (possibly after a Let's Split Up, Gang!), but you always have to complete all of them before proceeding to the next stage. The key component here is that the player can choose the order to complete the individual story branches (especially relevant if they have varying difficulty) and, occasionally, may even switch between them at any time.

A continuity-specific subtrope of Branch-and-Bottleneck Plot Structure. Contrast Synchronous Episodes, where the order you play the parallel adventures in is predetermined, and Multiple Game Openings, where you only play through one of the parallel intros while the others remain unseen.


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    Adventure Games 
  • Resonance introduces the four main characters in this way.

    Fighting Games 
  • Although each character's arc in The Black Heart has a chronological order, the order they can be played in is entirely up to the player.

    Platform Games 
  • Little Samson introduces each of the four player characters in a solo stage. These can be played in any order, but from then on progression is strictly linear.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic Adventure, you have six playable characters whose individual stories you have to complete before unlocking the final story that connects all six.
    • Likewise, in Sonic Adventure 2, you play through two stories, which all take place simultaneously, each with three characters, and a final story that connects the two.
    • Ditto in Sonic Heroes, with four stories, each with three characters, and a final story that connects all four.
    • Once more in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) with three campaigns (Sonic/Tails/Knuckles, Shadow/Rouge/Omega, & Silver/Blaze/Amy) and a final segment that is unlocked when completing all three.

    Puzzle Games 
  • Chapter 3 of Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 has Arle, Amitie, and Ringo splitting up to help free their brainwashed friends. The player is then given three branching routes to take on the stage select, but all three must be completed before advancing in the story.

    RPG — Eastern 
  • Final Fantasy:
    • One of the main points of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years (though slightly averted, as the game forces the order of some chapters - for example, Ceodore's Tale has to be played first, while Lunarians' Tale just before taking on the Final Chapter). Also, it manages to do this in a single chapter. At the beginning of Edge's Tale, the Eblan Four splits up and you have to play through a few short dungeons with each one of the ninjas. Interesting part is that they can actually die permanently and be lost forever.
    • Final Fantasy VI includes multiple instances of the party splitting up, but only the first time, after fighting Ultros on the raft, really fits this trope. You have three scenarios which you must complete before everyone reunites in Narshe: Terra, Edgar and Banon's, which is short and easy, Sabin's, which is long and of moderate difficulty, and Locke's, which is medium length but most difficult. Later split-ups (in the Phoenix Cave and Kefka's Tower) don't fit the "serialized" part of this trope, as they involve you switching repeatedly between your multiple parties.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep lets you play each of the 3 characters in any order.
  • In Live A Live, you are initially allowed to play through seven different stories that take place at different points across time, linked by the common thread of a villain whose name is some form of "Odio". After that, you unlock the medieval chapter which explains Odio's origin story, and after that you unlock the final chapter which brings everybody together for one last showdown with the Big Bad.
  • In the second half of NieR: Automata, i.e. after playing through 2B and 9S' routes A and B, respectively, you play as A2 and 9S instead. However, you can now switch between their routes after each major story mission, with the implication being that these occur simultaneously, but the circumstances and their Pods conspire to ensure they are never in the same place at the same time until the ending, where their narratives finally come together.
  • Suikoden III features three main protagonists and three smaller, side-scenarios that can be unlocked. The player need only tackle the main storylines, and must complete three chapters of each hero's story in order to unlock the fourth chapter, where the threads come together.
  • In Treasure of the Rudra, you have to play through the simultaneous scenarios of three main characters (Sion, Surlent and Riza) before they all converge into Dune's scenario that completes the game. Unusually, you could switch between their stories at any time from the loading screen.
  • In Wild ARMs, you have a choice of three possible player characters but actually have to play through all of their origins, which all converge at the initial Castle.
  • Likewise, Wild ARMs 3 has four main characters and you have to play all of their starting stories before they all meet during the Train Robbery.