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Auto-Scrolling Level

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♫ Tanks kept a-rollin' all level long... ♫
"There's a stage where the screen keeps scrolling up. If you're caught at the bottom, you die. In Trevor Belmont's world, what killed him? The T.V. Screen?"

A level in a Platform Game where the screen scrolls at a constant rate (like in rail shooters), no matter where the player runs or jumps to. This doesn't make any sense at all, but since you didn't care when you were 12, why start now?

Generally, the gameplay in these levels shifts from exploration towards a more "survivalist" task of avoiding a combination of fixed and moving obstacles. The player must choose between moving forward early, at the risk of running afoul of some not-yet-seen obstacles, or waiting to move later, where they run the risk of being forced to move by the level's scrolling at a moment when the obstacles are more dangerous.

Often you will be mortally crushed if you get caught between the advancing side of the screen and a stationary wall, making the screen boundary a kind of Advancing Wall of Doom. Only occasionally are these kinds of levels coupled with an actual Advancing Wall Of Doom, providing some justification for the enforced scrolling. Some of the time it is stated or implied in the story that there is an offscreen Advancing Wall Of Doom. It might also just mean that there is a limited amount of time for the character to reach his destination and running short of that is tantamount to failing. In vertical-scrolling levels, there will be an ever-rising bottomless pit, and solid platforms that fall below the edge of the screen will be consumed by an unknown force.

These levels can be a bit aggravating to play.

Often times, you can't simply fast-forward the scrolling by advancing in the direction of it, forcing you to deal with whatever speed the screen is moving at. As such, Auto-Scrolling Levels are the bane of many speedrunners and impatient players.

When the entire game is one of these, it's an Endless Running Game. Whether Minecart Madness is a subtrope is debatable; similar to endless runners, these levels force the character to move a fixed speed, challenging the player to jump, duck, and/or attack at the right times. If this occurs during a boss battle, you may be fighting an Advancing Boss of Doom or a "Get Back Here!" Boss.


Video games

  • 8th Man has the "Chase Levels", where you activate your dash mode and start speeding forward to pursue enemies in their getaway vehicles while avoiding obstacles in your way.
  • All the levels of Aqua Jack, because you're on a motorboat moving forward at max speed. Though you can make it slower to avoid obstacles by holding down.
  • Many levels in most Super Mario Bros. games are of this type.
    • The Super Mario Bros. Game & Watch from the 80s is fixed scrolling, the first example of this trope in the Mario series.
    • Super Mario Bros. 3: The auto-scrolling levels include 1-4, 3-6, 5-6, 5-9, 6-2, 6-7, 7-4 and all the airship, tank and navy levels. The air force level auto-scrolls significantly faster than any other level in the game.
    • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island: The auto-scrolling levels include 1-5, E-1, 6-5, 6-Secret and parts of 2-1 and 6-8. Yoshi's Island DS has these in 2-6, 2-Secret, 3-1,3-2, 4-1, 4-3, 5-1, 4-Secret and 5-5. In both games, the scrolling screen will go in all sorts of different directions, crossing the same part of the level more than once in more than one different direction, and there's no justification of any sort.
    • Super Mario Galaxy: Only a part of the level is manifested physically, meaning that stepping outside the solid area drops you in a bottomless pit. Since the part of the level that is solid ground moves constantly, this gives the net effect the same as a fixed scrolling screen.
    • Super Mario World features auto-scrolling in some athletic, underground and castle/fortress levels, but they're otherwise scarce. Some castle levels have crawling block platforms instead.
    • New Super Mario Bros.: Justified in level 7-3, where the entire level takes place on the back on a giant Wiggler.
    • Super Mario 3D Land and Super Mario 3D World, both playing exactly like the 2D Mario games except on a 3D plane, have these.
    • Super Mario Maker lets you create these in its course creator. There are three speeds to choose from, represented by a tortoise, a hare, and a cheetah respectively. Super Mario Maker 2 allows this to the added vertical areas as well (the scrolling speed is represented by, in rising order, a hot-air balloon, helicopter and an UFO), and also makes customized auto-scrolling possible in the horizontal areas.
    • Mario Party 9: Skyjinks and Polar Extreme are minigames that challenge players to navigate through platforming stages and traverse obstacles while the screen automatically scrolls forward, forcing them to keep up.
    • Mario Party 10: Several minigames challenge the players to move around and avoid obstacles while keeping up with the screen as it constantly moves forward. Minigames of this type include Snake Block Party, Peepa Panic, Spiked Ball Scramble, and Fuzzy Fliers.
    • Mario Party: Star Rush:
      • In Acornucopia, the screen moves forward constantly, and the players walk down a dirt path while carrying a plate of five acorns over their heads. The players must avoid wandering Goombrats that charge at them, as getting hit will cause them to lose one of their acorns. When the players reach the end of the path, the player with the most remaining acorns wins.
      • Bowser's Fire Hazard slowly moves to the right automatically, as the platforms closer to the left side of the screen fall, potentially taking players that fail to keep up with them. Players must move to the right to survive, all the while avoiding the fire stream attack from Bowser's Clown Car.
    • Super Mario Party: Follow the Money has players navigating a course as the screen moves forward constantly, pushing them forward. Each time the minigame is played, different types of enemies will appear that the players must avoid in order to hold onto the coins they collect, which appear at different points throughout the course.
  • Many stages in Kirby's Dream Land 2 and 3. Kirby Super Star had two sections like this in "Revenge of Meta Knight", as well as one such section in "Dyna Blade", a hidden room in "The Great Cave Offensive", and the Nova Shootout section in "Milky Way Wishes". And then there was that horizontal section in Stage 1 of Rock Star in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards.
  • Daze Before Christmas have you playing as a Badass Santa, and levels where you're on a reindeer-drawn sled will have you flying through major cities on automatic, avoiding hazards while dropping gifts down chimneys.
  • In the obscure Toaplan game Demon's World, every level is one of these. The screen only stops scrolling during boss battles.
  • Donkey Kong:
  • Distorted Travesty 3 has plenty of these segments. Always justified by being chased, or an Advancing Wall of Doom or riding something.
  • Frogger's Journey: The Forgotten Relic:
    • The boss fight with the Leviathan has the screen slowly moving forward automatically at all times. Frogger must keep up with the screen and wait until the spiky fruits appear over Leviathan in order to get his chance to drop them on it using the Mega Claw.
    • The final boss fight with Eric has him moving around a vast arena while Frogger is surrounded on all sides by an energy barrier. The screen follows Eric, so Frogger has to hop around in the same direction to keep up so the barrier doesn't run into him, all the while avoiding lava tiles scattered across the floor. Eric's movement becomes faster after each time he is hit.
  • Shantae: Half-Genie Hero: Cape Crustacean's first part, where Shantae has to make jumps with some speed and precision over gaps.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
  • In Angel Island Zone, Act 2 of Sonic the Hedgehog 3, there's a portion before the Boss Battle where the screen starts scrolling to the right, then Robotnik's airship starts dropping bombs at you. If you let off the speed for a second, you'll drift too far left and get hit. All you have to do is hold right for a few seconds until the barrage stops.
  • In Sonic & Knuckles, during the Boss Battle in Mushroom Hill Zone, Act 2, the screen scrolls right, forcing you to leap over spiked hurdles to pursue Robotnik. Later in the same game, the screen starts scrolling to the right during the boss battle of Lava Reef Zone, Act 2. The real danger of this area is simply jumping from platform to platform to keep up with the screen.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) features areas of Sonic's levels where Sonic is forced to run forward, jumping and dodging obstacles, and can not leave his assigned course by too much or get hit by too many objects unless he wants to breakdance into oblivion.
  • Sonic Lost World throws in one more, for old time's sake: Desert Ruins Zone 4 scrolls forward at a slow pace with a whirlwind at the back that will kill Sonic if he touches it.
  • The 8-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog on Master System and Game Gear featured an auto-scrolling level in Bridge Zone Act 2. YMMV on whether this was a welcome variation to the regular gameplay or not.
  • Mega Man
    • Mega Man (Classic)
      • The fixed scrolling in Stage 1 of Dr. Wily's Castle in Mega Man 2 is brief, but very annoying the first time. 80% of the level scrolls normally, until the end when it suddenly begins to move on its own at a rate that's only slightly slower than the player's movement. The transition seemingly happens in the middle of a jump between two one-block-wide platforms and if the unprepared player doesn't simply miss and fall into the bottomless pit, he'll soon be knocked in anyway when a giant dragon that takes up 1/3 of the screen flies in behind him.
      • In Mega Man 4, the third level of Dr. Cossack's fortress is one of these. It had a decent number of ways to slow you down to the screen's speed and was for the most part a pretty decent level. The Awesome Music doesn't hurt, either.
      • In Mega Man 5, there is a section at the latter half of Gyro Man's stage that is exactly this, and you must dodge the spikes that you are approaching.
      • The jetboard sections in Mega Man 8 are particularly irritating.
      • The first section of Tengu Man's stage in Mega Man & Bass auto-scrolls, and you must hop on fast-popping balloons to boot.
    • From Rom Hack Rockman 4 Minus Infinity:
      • Sections of Skull Man's stage. It has every kind of platform from the Mega Man series. Plenty of lives will be lost on those sections.
      • Wily Stage 2's second half. It has an Homage to the Gradius series' High Speed Zone stages. It even comes with the shutting doors and a song from the NES Gradius 2 soundtrack.
    • Mega Man X
      • The Ride Chaser levels, introduced in Mega Man X2 and has appeared in almost every game since (with the exception of X3 and X6). X8 has two of them.
      • In Mega Man X6, the Brutal Bonus Level of Metal Shark Player's level has a crushing ceiling AND forced scrolling!
      • Burn Rooster's stage, also from Mega Man X8, has three auto-scrolling segments: two separate descending variants (first at the beginning and then in the final stretch to the boss), and a Rise to the Challenge after defeating the boss.
  • Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair alternates between autoscrolling platform stages and Shoot 'Em Up boss battles.
  • In Shonen Jump's One Piece Rogue Town Part 2 is basically this, replete with enemies, obstacles, spike pits, falling platforms and some tricky jumps. Missing any of the various platforms means falling to your doom.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • The series features entire arenas that scroll through a continuous loop of level elements, including:
      • Icicle Mountain in Melee.
      • Rumble Falls and Mushroomy Kingdom in Brawl.
      • Dream Land and Pac-Land in 3DS and Wii U, respectively.
    • One assistance character in Brawl, the Devil, makes non-scrolling stages suddenly start scrolling in random directions for a little while. This is the only Interface Screw that can hurt the computer, because if you get scrolled too far off of the screen you'll die.
    • Some of the most annoying platforming segments in the Subspace Emissary mode of Brawl featured this too. The worst ones also included traps that would fling you offscreen if you made one misstep. Even if you can keep up with the scrolling camera admist the hordes of Goddamn Bats, trying to collect the trophies and other goodies to earn 100% at the same time almost reaches controller-breaking levels of frustration - especially on the hardest difficulties, with more traps, more knockback, and faster scrolling.
  • Every level in Balloon Kid is one of these.
  • The Subwarine levels in Wario Land: Shake It! are these. The first Wario Land has one of these as the first level in the Oven Canyon zone.
  • Preceding the Final Boss in Ecco the Dolphin is a forced-scroll level combined with The Maze; it takes place underwater and scrolls up, down, sideways, doubles on itself, and lasts a good five minutes. The only break the game cuts you is the level also continually regenerates your health, due to it being a giant meat grinder. Unfortunately, losing to the boss sends you back to the maze again... It even actively tries to fake you out at certain points, making you think you have to go a certain way and then turning back and trying to crush you when you do go that way. Or even making a tiny part of a chamber the only safe place where you won't get crushed. Almost no one will make it through the first time, due to the need to memorize the correct path in some places. The sequel Tides of Time has at least four on hard mode. All other modes at least two.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose! for the SNES has some levels where the edge of the screen kills you.
  • Little Nemo: The Dream Master gave us House of Toys, a level that took place on the back of a moving toy train set where you had to survive divebombing toy airplanes, bombs dropped by toy hot air balloons and plenty of instant death spikes on descending ceilings. Cloud Ruins has a section where the screen suddenly starts scrolling up, and then where it goes back down again; in both cases the bottom of the screen becomes deadly.
  • The first Rayman game has a few of these, semi-justified by a raising water level or some big enemy chasing you (Moskito with a huge spiked ball, and Mr. Stone in a later level).
    • An interesting variation: soon after acquiring a temporary flight powerup from a hippie, the start of one part of the level immediately places the eponymous hero in a situation where he has to use his helicopter hair to cut the frayed sections of two ropes, in order to drop the rocks they carry into the slowly sinking water beneath, before they drag the faster-falling ceiling below the surface... Perhaps it's better to show than to tell? (starting at around 2:25 in this video)
    • In Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc, after you blow up the furnace in Hoodlum Headquarters, you have to climb up a tall tower while lava rises below you.
    • Rayman Origins has some too, especially in the Tricky Treasure challenges. Once again, semi-justified by having the level start falling apart behind the treasure chest.
    • The music stages in Rayman Legends, which are justified because of their gimmick.
  • Cave Chaos replicates the effect, but at the same time shows you what the hell's happening: the floating platforms behind you are constantly breaking apart and dropping into the depths below. And to keep you from getting too far ahead, the ground ahead of you is constantly assembling out of pieces coming from offscreen. Get particularly far behind, and you may find yourself jumping from falling piece to falling piece just before each vanishes off the bottom of the screen.
  • The overhead River stage in Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and the Boss Battle in the Sky stage.
  • The final level in Braid.
  • The final stage of Jumper is a vertical version of this.
  • The Tower, The Panic Room, and The Final Challenge in VVVVVV. Spikes of Doom appear when you near the top or bottom of the vertically scrolling screen. Also, The Tower is one of the stages available as a Time Trial.
  • Kid Chameleon had a few of these that are Advancing Walls Of DRILLS, including a cruel one that had a choice of two paths at the end, not knowing where they go. One path leads to a sign saying "TOO BAD" with no exit and you just get squished by it.
  • Purple features this in stages 2-3 and 5-2, with the latter even having multi-directional scrolling.
  • Commando: Steel Disaster begins with one of these, where you're on a weaponized snowmobile moving at full speed infiltrating the enemy's hideout and shooting everything in your way.
  • Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse has several automatically scrolling vertical shafts. In the case of Blocks 5-0B and 9-03, the scrolling is discontinuous—every few seconds the tower trembles and sinks a bit into the ground.
  • Putt-Putt Goes to the Moon has the minigame Bear Stormin', which plays this straight for the entire game. This was later recycled as Circus Stormin' in Putt-Putt and Fatty Bear's Activity Pack. Despite being in games made for children, they can get brutally difficult.
  • Distorted Travesty loves this trope, forcing you to race through already sadistically brutal Platform Hell sections while a wall of instakill spikes follows behind or beneath you so fast a single mistake will force you to repeat the whole section.
  • Seen in New Super Marisa Land. Which makes sense as it's essentially a Super Mario clone.
  • The first cave escape stage in Aladdin (Capcom). Actually both cave escape stages scroll automatically, but only the first has platforming.
  • Klonoa Advance 1 and 2 have some auto-scroll levels.
  • Atomic Runner Chelnov is entirely made of these (Boss Battles excepted), being essentially a Horizontal Scrolling Shooter/Platform Game hybrid.
  • Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu has a few stages where the screen starts scrolling to the right, with pillars shooting up from the ground in places.
  • Though a top-down non-platform game, Devil World features this as its main gimmick. The Devils on the edges of the screen move a frame over the maze, trying to crush Tamagon between the frame and the maze walls.
  • Super Mario Fusion Revival
    • World 2-S5: Arabian Night. It takes place in the rooftops of an Saudi Arabian village at night. Watch out for the saber-tossing mooks and the crows.
    • World 3-4: Venomous Void. It is full of dangerous electric seaweed and electric jellyfish.
  • This is every level in the vertically scrolling Raptor: Call of the Shadows, in which the player pilots a fighter jet through enemy territories. It is at least somewhat justified, as an airborne jet can hardly be expected to remain stationary with respect to the ground.
  • Occurs in Playstation All Stars Battle Royale on Alden's Tower, though at least it's done periodically.
  • Multiple levels in Nihilumbra have you chased by The Void.
  • The collapsing castle stage in The Jungle Book for SNES.
  • Batman: Return of the Joker for NES has auto-scrolling in Stages 1-2 (Roof Hopping while being bombarded by an airship), 4-1 (Traintop Battle) and 6-2 (tank battle). The Lift of Doom areas are also inescapable until the lift stops rising.
  • One Way Heroics is a Roguelike that operates on this principle. You're forced to keep moving forward to avoid getting swallowed up by the encroaching darkness. Every move you take, whether it's to attack, talk to NPCs, use items, or change your equipment, moves the level forward. If you get caught on the left side of the screen, you die, and the game is over.
  • Something series:
    • The secret exit route in Skulls Cave.
    • Perilous Ice, which is made even more dangerous because of ice physics. Luckily, Yoshi is there to make things easier. You need him for the Switch Palace Exit.
    • Vertical Chao, where Mario has to ride on a tiny platform and has to dodge many enemies and obstacles.
    • Vile Vine, where Luigi has to climb a green apple vine and dodge obstacles at the same time. To get the secret exit, Luigi has to beat the green apple vine in a race.
    • Above the World is found in the Special World. Luigi has to dodge Flying Wigglers and use acorns to climb to the top. It's also a Marathon Level.
  • In The Flintstones: The Rescue Of Dino & Hoppy, the sewer section of the Bedrock level features as horizontally scrolling section where you ride a boat. Later, in Rockula's castle, there is a vertically scrolling section where molten lava rises upwards, forcing you to remain above it.
  • The MCP mission in Bally/Midway's TRON arcade game.
  • In TRON Maze-a-Tron, the maze constantly scrolls in one direction, with the player changing directions whenever he touches a Flip-Flop chip. Being scrolled off the screen doesn't cause you to lose a life, but it does put you back at the level's starting point.
  • Two of the levels from Ubisoft's The Smurfs 2 constantly scroll upwards, forcing the player to move upwards to avoid falling off the screen.
  • In The Adventures of Lomax, the boss stages in the first 3 worlds are like this.
  • Shovel Knight has three auto-scrolling screens, each containing unique mechanics to up the frustration.
    • Clockwork Tower: The bottom of the screen has rockets that knock you off the ladder and platforms, half of the platforms move across the screen, and the other half are conveyor belts pointed the wrong way.
    • Flying Machine: A wind is constantly blowing against the direction of travel, slowing you down. Most of the platforms are also temporary and will fall seconds after you touch them.
    • Tower of Fate: Half of the screen has slowly moving platforms that will block you from continuing and move slowly, meaning a missed opening is quickly fatal. The second half consists of digging your way upwards through the dirt while dodging exploding rats.
  • The first part of the final level of Papa Louie 2: When Burgers Attack contains an actual Advancing Wall of Doom, complete with pickets on top.
  • To dodge the thorns and Munchers at the beginning of Muncher Mountain in Super Mario World: Piranha Island, Mario must board a rocket pipe barrel and navigate his way to the end of the segment. Like the rocket barrel segments in Donkey Kong Country Returns, Mario dies if the pipe touches anything hazardous.
  • "Raw Fish Rampage" in The Angry Video Game Nerd II: ASSimilation, with added challenge provided by conveyor belts.
  • The Atari 2600 game Entombed by U.S. Games, where you must escape a series of scrolling mazes without being trapped in them.
  • The (sorta) surgery sim games Trauma Center Under the Knife/Second Opinion and New Blood have Pempti and Soma, respectively, be called this. Pempti can only be damaged when it takes an action, and only for a single point of damage each time, meaning the operation is essentially the same speed every time. Soma can be constantly drained and is essentially harmless unless you aren't paying attention, meaning most of the fight is just holding A and keeping the drain on it.
  • The Dennis the Menace Licensed Game for the SNES features two auto-scrolling levels in the second world, The Park. While dodging enemies, you have to make sure that Dennis' dog, Ruff stays close, because you will need him to make certain jumps. If you fail to make these jumps, you'll have to start the level from the beginning, and because the time limit doesn't reset when Dennis loses a life, it may run out, resulting in Dennis losing all of his lives. These levels go on for about five minutes if you don't lose a life. If you do, they can go on for over twenty minutes.
  • Levelhead: Levels like "Dune Doom Dream" and "Quick Fire" require the player to keep up with the camera or die off-screen.
  • In JumpJet Rex, the screen moves on its own in the level "Scrollway" and the bonus sections of some other levels. Touching the back of the screen will hurt Rex even if he isn't caught between it and an obstacle.
  • In Kolibri, autoscrolling levels take up around half of the game, usually acting as transit zones between the different biomes Kolibri travels to in order to purge them of the dark crystal's influence.
  • Ultraverse Prime have two levels where Prime takes flight to pursue a moving container truck and a train, moving forward automatically as he avoid missiles and punch aerial mines, drones, and mooks on jetpacks in his way.
  • This is how Yoshi's levels in Yoshi Touch & Go play. Yoshi continues to walk and that keeps the screen moving.
  • Densetsu no Stafy 3 has three:
    • After meeting Mad Piero in stage 3-3, the room begins scrolling to the left.
    • The first section of stage 5-1 automatically scrolls slowly to the right.
    • 8-3 has three autoscrolling sections once you trigger the security systems; one with Starfy and two at the level's end with Starly.

Other media

Asian Animation

  • In episode 7 of BoBoiBoy, Adu Du traps BoBoiBoy and Gopal in the latter's Papa Zola video game, and they have to Win to Exit, but not without help from someone to control them. When Hanna chickens out of fighting enemies in the game due to being too afraid to defeat them and causes Gopal to go backwards, Adu Du has his computer make the level auto-scroll to force BoBoiBoy and Gopal to proceed.


Cranky Kong: "A bit aggravating," they call these auto-scrolling levels? Back in my day, we didn't have any scrolling whatsoever — just one static screen, maybe a different static screen for different levels! And we liked it, by gum!


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Forced Scrolling, Auto Scrolling, Fixed Scrolling Level


Powerpuff Girls: Zom-B-Gone!

Protect the girls from the magical threats in this automatically scrolling Flash game!

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / AutoScrollingLevel

Media sources: