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Crate Expectations

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Maybe the Ark is in there somewhere...

"Ah, the crate. As seen in everything."
Comic Book Guy, The Simpsons Game

The crate is extremely common in video games, even if you rarely see them in real life. Some games have entire warehouse levels filled with these crates. And for a good reason: they're so convenient and multipurpose they are literally building blocks for lots of gameplay elements and even entire genres.

Crates may allow players to hide from patrolling Mooks or shelter from enemy fire.

Crates can often be broken open to reveal a Power-Up or treasure, though usually only one per crate and much smaller than the crate itself. (It's a mystery why even small objects get a whole crate and surprising that most of the items manage to stay at the center of the crate. It is never explained why the item is always in perfect condition no matter how fragile it is and how violently you smashed open the crate.) Finding money and items in a nearby crate can help defuse the Money Spider problem: players wonder why the giant spider was carrying 31 gold pieces, lacking such amenities as pockets, but are often happy to loot the crate in its lair.

Crates are sometimes filled with explosive, blowing up in the face of players conditioned to bash everything breakable with a crowbar. Such crates can be quite helpful, however, if shot while an enemy is standing next to them.

Crates are often arrayed to form a Container Maze, or feature in Block Puzzles, where they must be slid or carried into place, to hold switches down or to form a staircase to otherwise inaccessible areas. Wreaking Havok often involves throwing crates around.

Crates are easy to render in 3D: six flat sides that can take a flat texture without causing too much comment (their simplicity also makes them one of the first objects 3D modelers-in-training learn to make, if not the first). When standing up, crates are likewise easy to create in 2D graphics: their proportions can be scaled to a predetermined tile size, and hit detection is simple for rectangular objects. This adds to their popularity with game developers since the earliest days of computer gaming. They are generally popular with players, too, who are willing to overlook such things as big crates behind small doors and a general absence of pallets and forklifts. Plus, it gives them something to smack around with their melee weapon besides enemies.

A common type of crate in fiction is made of wood that is trimmed on edges and has one (or less commonly-two) diagonal reinforced wooden bars on at least one of its faces. Such type of crate is not very common in real life. In real life, more common type is a wooden crate that is not fully enclosed, having spaces between individual planks. Usually, cardboard or metal is preferred to fully enclose desired object instead.

In some games (particularly pirate-themed ones), rectilinear crates are replaced with old-fashioned wooden barrels. The curvature of barrels makes them a bit less space-filling and more amenable to being rolled than being pushed around, but they're just as good for containing items, loading with explosives or tossing at enemies.

In short, crates satisfy three of our basic monkey drives: climbing, finding things to eat, and breaking things. They are so widely used that humor website Old Man Murray coined the term "Start-to-Crate", referring to the length of time between starting a game and encountering the first crate or barrel - most games don't rate especially high. Tropes Are Tools: crates have too many gameplay uses to ever die.

Outside of video games, films, TV shows and animation also use crates. The Syndicate or La Résistance use crates for their Venturous Smugglers to hide illegal weapons, Black Market goods, and items that Fell Off the Back of a Truck. They also appear in military and science fiction settings where our heroes are on an expedition; any Bleak Border Base, remote Antarctic facility, or desolate planet's base will have crates scattered around. Some crates may hold a mysterious, priceless MacGuffin, and everyone may be searching for that one crate. In action movies, crates are an inexpensive set dressing for the obligatory Abandoned Warehouse chase, fight and shootout sequences.

See also Die, Chair, Die!, Inexplicable Treasure Chests, or Rewarding Vandalism.


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  • ANNO: Mutationem: At Freeway 42, to get by metal debris blocking the path, Ann needs to move a metal crate nearby to climb up over the ruins.
  • Crates in Star Fox Adventures tend to be of the "contains one food item" variety. A couple are completely empty.
  • The Legend of Zelda: This series mostly splits the crate trope into two parts. Breakable spheroid pots containing health, money, or ammo are ubiquitious in almost every game; dungeons often contain cubical objects for Block Puzzles, which are usually made of unbreakable stone. But there are a few straight examples.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, one crate in Kakariko contains a Cucco. And then there's the boxes inside Lord Jabu Jabu (the giant whale-god of the Zoras) that you can break open to get hearts and other items.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker notably contains crates (with Triforce logos) in the Tower of the Gods, one of the game's dungeons. It makes you wonder if the Hyrulean gods are really the executives of a shipping company.
    • Link comes across randomly located crates in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which he can destroy with his sword (or, if you're a wolf, your claws) to reveal hearts and Rupees. These crates are found all over the place; there are even crates, for no discernible in-game reason, on small islands in the middle of Lake Hylia.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has them scattered throughout the enormous overworld. While usually found next to enemy camps, they're also occasionally inside ruins or near NPCs, and are a good source of arrows and apples.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, crates are also found throughout the overworld, as well as the depths and sky islands. Like many other objects, they can be freely manipulated for different purposes by Link using the new abilities: Ultrahand, Fuse, Recall, etc.
  • Beyond Good & Evil has crates employed in various uses: broken to get money, pushed into mines to destroy them, used to block lasers, etc.
  • In the various One Piece games, crates contain powerups or golden coins.
  • Shadow Complex uses these from time to time. Most contain health, but a few do not, and a select few also cannot be aimed at without large amounts of luck. Excluding the prologue mission, the StC is pretty high, though.
  • Skip the fancy book opening animation and moody cutscenes at the start of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, and you'll be whipping boxes within two minutes of game start.
  • Act 3 of Shenmue has Ryo getting a job at Yokosuka Harbor which consists of using his trusty forklift to transfer crates to and from different warehouses, with pay determined on a per-crate basis. It's a pretty logical place to find crates, all things considered, and there is money in them; you just get it in a more realistically mundane way than usual.

    Action Game 
  • Levels in Broforce are littered with destructible wooden crates. They can crush enemies and marked crates contain ammo and other pickups when destroyed. There are also larger containers that can also crush the player.
  • Halo Zero has many crates, all with a use. Namely, jumping on them.
  • Destructible crates appear in Huntdown. They are mainly used as temporary cover and take a beating before being destroyed.
  • Lampshaded in The Matrix: Path of Neo during a training level in which Neo remarks: "Crates, how original".
  • Madworld has crates all over the place. Lampshaded by the commentators often.
    Howard: Y'know, for something designed to hold stuff, these crates sure break apart easily.
    Kreese: Actually, they're designed like that, so that weaker contestants feel good about themselves that they can break stuff.
  • In the Tomb Raider games crates get pushed, used as weights, used as platforms to climb on, and broken open for fun and profit. In Tomb Raider: Legend you can even launch a crate into the air!
  • In Batman: Return of the Joker for the NES, you see your first crate as soon as you enter the first level. Crates in that game contain powerups.
  • The main objective of Super Crate Box is to collect wooden crates.
  • Thunder Fox is full of wooden crates, which can be destroyed for points, and metal crates, which are indestructible.

    Adventure Game 
  • In Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, Episode Five: Eight-Bit Is Enough'', Marzipan goes totally Lady Crate-Ape and starts throwing crates around. In the next screen over, there's a whole pile of crates, one of which you have to smash to get at a plot-critical item. Later, if you smash it again, there's that same plot-critical item you already have. Strong Bad rejects it on the basis that he has the original, and doesn't need any lousy respawned copy version.
  • Deftly justified in Discworld Noir, where the protagonist is looking for a MacGuffin that has been smuggled on a ship, hence the many possible crates to check.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Indy goes behind a theater which has several crates stacked behind it for an unexplained reason. Indy uses them to hide from someone.

    Beat Em Up 
  • Burning Fight includes crates, whose name on the Status Line is "Wooden Box."
  • Double Dragon II has crates in the background at the very start of the game, and soon after an enemy picks up a different crate and throws it.
  • God Hand: Like most games there are vases and other breakables but crates are the first you run into. Amusing because the game is in a desert.
  • In River City Girls, crates can be picked up to damage enemies until it fully breaks.
  • War Dogs: Red's Return: There are creates present in the games that Red can break to get items.

    Fighting Game 
  • Crates in the Super Smash Bros. series show up in order to be broken to get the items inside (or to throw at the other players). One must be careful though as some of them explode. Also in Brawl the crates and barrels are themed to the level and some come with wheels. Brawl also has a specific explosion crate that can be triggered early by fire attacks. Fire-based characters might want to keep their distance.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • The Half-Life series features several crates, mostly empty, although some have items. As of Half-Life 2, the ones containing stuff have a distinct appearance (and are much smaller), and both kinds (among other items) can also be thrown at enemies with the Gravity Gun, not to mention be used as platforms to float on. Half-Life's copious amounts of crates make sense, considering the game's signature weapon is a crowbar. Which you use to bludgeon the crates open, Gordon being a busy man. Interestingly, Half-Life 2 also features a lot of pallets, but the crates are never actually placed on the pallets - suggesting the designers realize crates and pallets have something to do with each other, but aren't familiar with their exact relationship.
  • Ridiculously parodied in Too Many Crates!, wherein a warehouse has become "dangerously infested" with crates... but only one man in this city owns a crowbar.
  • Parodied in No One Lives Forever 2, which featured as enemies "Man-Crates", enemy Mooks who have been pressed into crate-shaped form for displeasing their boss. Their attacks consist simply of awkwardly rolling towards you and trying to bite you, while begging you to kill them.
  • Doom: About two-fifths of Episode 2 Map 2 is a maze made of crates. And if you abuse the Doom engine, you can go Crate-Jesus and run along the tops of them as if they were side by side. The multiplayer sourceport Skulltag has a skin which is a crate.
  • System Shock 2 has high-tech looking crates. Fairly reasonable, since supplies have to be stored somewhere on a starship. In an arguably pleasant turn of events, however, the region of the game with the highest crate-density is one of the tensest, most terrifying, and generally survival-horror oriented in the game. (Especially if you didn't already activate the bio-reconstructor on the engineering bridge.)
  • Quake has a Time To Crate of zero since every episode begins next to a pile of crates. There's also a Game Mod for Quake that replaces all the player models with crates.
  • GoldenEye has towering piles of crates Made of Explodium. Sometimes there are guns inside. Special mention goes to the crate on the penultimate level which holds a smaller crate, which breaks open to reveal an even smaller crate, and that one can then be broken to find an even smaller crate, and in turn that one holds a TV that's larger than the previous crate itself, and inside the TV is the only pair of dual-wieldable assault rifles in the entire game.
  • Deus Ex Universe:
    • Deus Ex features both supply crates and climbable crates, with some of the latter becoming useful only later in the game, depending upon how you choose your nano-augmentations. Go for extra arm strength, and you can move and position crates that would otherwise be too heavy to lift. Augment your legs, and you can leap onto crates that would otherwise be too high to climb.
    • Deus Ex: Human Revolution features crates and boxes of various sizes throughout the game, though they're all empty. They can be very useful as makeshift walkways, staircases, and for blocking the view of security cameras and guards while hacking. If you upgrade your arm prosthesis, you can even toss heavy ones to take out enemies.
  • Lampshaded in SiN Episodes: Emergence with signs in industrial areas reading: "When in doubt, use crates." "An overuse of crates can lead to anger." and "Pipes: The new crate."
  • The second Star Trek: Elite Force game features a secret area with a boss made of crates.
  • Escape from Butcher Bay has very noticeable crates. The STC time is very short, but the crates themselves are not real. The first level, the obligatory training level, is a dream and, of course, so are the crates. Since the game is fictional, the crates are doubly not real. Oooh, now my head is spinning.
  • Serious Sam series:
    • Parodied in Serious Sam: The Second Encounter, in which Sam's starship crash-lands after being hit by a crate transport ship - not a ship designed to transport crates, but a transport made out of wooden crates. The player can find the crashed crate-bus as an Easter Egg a little later into the first level, which will cause Sam to announce how much he hates crates. Aside from using crates as a joke, the games are surprisingly barren of them otherwise, and Old Man Murray, the website that coined the term Start to Crate, was one of Croteam's few vocal supporters during the game's development. Early in First Encounter, there is a secret area containing a massive 'pyramid' made of crates.
    • Serious Sam II plays it straight with wooden and metal crates found in lots of places and majority of them containing an item or a monster. Metal crates do require explosives to break.
  • The Metroid Prime Trilogy has crates in areas occupied by Space Pirates or the Galactic Federation. They're not wood though but metal. And they contain ammo and health. Other areas have non-crate storage items with these and a few offer justification when scanned as to why they don't always have items inside. There are also forms of "living crates", which are plants, cocoons, or even balls of premature nightmare monsters, which act exactly the same as crates except for the fact that they're not cubes.
  • Red Steel 2 has enough crates for the protagonist to be called the second coming of Gordon Freeman.
  • In Team Fortress 2, Supply Crates that contain a random weapon or item drop sometimes for players randomly. You need a key to open these crates, and frustratingly enough the keys can only be bought from the Mann Co. Store for $2.49 a pop (Frustrating because unlike any of the items that are potentially inside the crates, the keys cannot be acquired from the random drop system or crafted). Of course in the normal game itself, there are also plenty of crates and boxes visible in the official maps, most of which are just a part of the scenery.
  • Blood II: The Chosen adds crates everywhere after the original game lacked them. Several have weapons and ammo in them, often being the only way of acquiring ammo for some weapons (most commonly the shotgun, which enemies don't use outside of the expansion), but after the first chapter a lot of them just explode and kill you if you try to knife them open.
  • CULTIC has a lot of classic wooden crates that can be broken up. Majority of them do not contain anything (though breaking some reveal hidden locations) and covered crates cannot be broken at all.
  • DUSK features both wooden and metal crates. Wooden crates can easily be broken but metal crates require explosives to break. Crates usually contain items. Both types can be carried around and thrown.

    Hack And Slash 
  • Both the Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors series hide money, powerups, and weapons in crates. Which are often just standing in the middle of an open field or mountain path for no apparent reason.
  • Diablo II is unique in the gaming world for having precisely one real interactive crate in its entire length - in the Countess' Tower Cellar, in the left-hand treasure trove, at the base of the tower, lies a single, lonely, breakable treasure crate. There are plenty of other crate-type objects in the game, including several dozen that are simple environment objects, but only one real crate. Crates will also rarely spawn in the Barracks.
  • Skeletal Avenger: There are plenty of barrels and crates for the skeleton to break.

  • Most villain lair types in City of Heroes come liberally furnished with crates, the style of which inevitably matches the flavor of the lair (high-tech, warehouse, neo-Fascist base...). The default MacGuffin when on a "find X" mission is a glowing crate most of the time, at least at the lower levels. Unlike their counterparts in many other games, though, COH crates are invulnerable to all damage and superglued to the floor. City of Heroes used to give several Cosmetic Awards depending on the number of times a character clicked on or destroyed a glowing crate (or barrel, or computer, etc) in its Mission Architect. As of issue 15, this was downgraded to giving one badge per type of action (clicking/destroying).
  • Lampshaded in Kingdom of Loathing, with a reference to the Start-to-Crate review system. One of the first areas encountered by a new player, Noob Cave, is a zone full of "combats" with crates for you to smash (while they do count as combats, the crates can't touch you, since they're, well, crates):
    You're a little nervous about encountering a crate this early in the game.
  • Crates are a staple of the browser based game The Nethernet. They're the main tool of one of the six player classes, with various upgrades available.
  • Trimmed wooden crates are present in many places in Runescape. A few can be searched for items during quests or minigames, the rest searchable ones contain nothing. For the non-searchable ones, some can be examines while others are just a background decoration.
  • In Second Life the default primitive is a cube with a wood texture on it—not precisely a crate, but close enough. Also, in the all-water sim ANWR, there is an oil rig that produces the wood cubes.
  • In The Secret World, there are several different crate models with very distinctive logos. However, since this is a game about occult conspiracies, the crates can actually be important hints as to game lore. Once you break the way other games have trained you to ignore crates, you can end up going to the other extreme and driving yourself insane trying to figure out all the connections suggested by crate placement.

    Miscellaneous Games 
  • Glider PRO has milk crates, but being furniture they do nothing good for paper airplanes.
  • Speed Runners utilizes crates along with various other props such as barrels and even old TVs as tripping hazards. They don't actually contain anything useful though.

    Platform Game 
  • All of the games in the Ratchet & Clank series had dozens of crates that were usually there to be broken for bolts. The game also featured red exploding crates, that counted down when Ratchet so much as touched them, ammo crates that were full of ammo, Nanotech crates that contained health, and metal crates, which could only be broken by explosives (or the Walloper). The third game introduced the multiplier crate, which for a short while doubled the amount of bolts Ratchet got from other crates, enemies, and the environment in general, and the Inferno crate, which turned Ratchet into an unstoppable dual-wrench-wielding engine of destruction. In Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, there's the camo crate, which was almost invisible, and had more bolts than average crates. It should be noted that crates went through a huge graphical update during the transfer to HD, especially the rubble they leave around, so this is hardly due to laziness on the part of the graphic developers. This trope is given a huge lampshading in Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One, when the main characters come across a crate factory in their travels. As the Mission Control says, "They have to come from somewhere!"
  • Crash Bandicoot: Though they were actually added late in the original game's development as a cheap way to break up dull stretches, crashing through crates became one of the series' defining gameplay elements, as well as the origin of the protagonist's name. Many of the series' platforming elements are built around a variety of different types of crates, from the normal crates, to bouncy crates, to time-delayed TNT crates, to Nitro Crates. They're so iconic to the series that Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled actually made a crate playable.
  • Jak and Daxter titles also make use of crates.
    It looks like Scout Flies are only in red boxes!
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario Bros. 3 has crates stored on some of the airships, many times larger than Mario. They can be jumped on, and run in front of. The wooden ones that appear in the airship levels of New Super Mario Bros. Wii and U can be broken with a Ground Pound, and have coins and poweups within.
    • Super Mario Sunshine has a fair few crates. They can be broken with a ground pound. Two of the game's 120 Shines require the player to break an arrangement of crates within a time limit (and both Shines are acquired through the exact same minigame, but in the second play there are more and have a more difficult arrangement as well).
    • Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2: There are crates in several levels, which can be broken up with spin attacks or fireballs (via Fire Mario). In the second game, there are two minigames in which Mario and Luigi use fireballs to break crates under a time limit.
    • Crates appear in Super Mario 3D Land and 3D World, and are easily breakable. This extends to their inclusion in the 3D World game style of Super Mario Maker 2 (which, in turn, also has an unlockable powerup that allows Mario and his friends to create their own wooden boxes).
    • Super Mario Odyssey uses wooden crates to hide coins, small hideouts, and on rare occasions Power Moons. Fortunately, Cappy can be thrown to break them.
  • Taz: Wanted: The game rewards the player for breaking lots of stuff, especially creates and boxes.
  • From the 8-bit, 2-D era, the Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers NES game has crates as a primary means of defeating enemies (either by throwing them, or hiding inside and waiting for an enemy to trip over it). They come in two varieties— disposable wooden crates and stackable metal ones. All small enough for a chipmunk to lift.
  • In Spelunky, supply crates are the most reliable way of getting useful items throughout the game, as shop prices are exorbitant and their owners are well-armed crack shots.
  • A fair few Sonic the Hedgehog games from Sonic Adventure 2 through to Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) have crates. In Sonic Adventure 2 you can get power ups to be able to break metal crates, and in Sonic Heroes only the power formation can break the metal crates. Sonic The Hedgehog (2006) is the worst offender though as they are everywhere, usually used for Silver's physics puzzles. The crates are even 200 years in the future, in Crisis City and Flame Core, both ravaged by Iblis's flames. Made even funnier when objects such as robots and ancient stone towers can be taken down with a simple wooden crate. Even Sonic Adventure had some. There were a few at the very beginning of Red Mountain, though they weren't really used for anything other than somewhere to put a couple of robot monkeys.
  • The Simpsons Game as part of its mission to lampshade every gaming cliche going, supplies you with plentiful crates of various types and designs to destroy, while giving you cliche points for using them.
  • Banjo-Kazooie has a living crate as a boss. It's an Asteroids Monster to boot.
  • Trine goes so far as to have a spell to summon crates. They don't contain anything, but they're useful to step on, and if you're feeling violent you can drop them on the baddies' heads.
  • Hammerin' Harry features many crates that you can smash with your hammer or throw against enemies to kill them. One level, the docks, is partially set inside a warehouse full of them and with a couple of forklifts. There are also enemies disguised as crates.
  • The Donkey Kong Country games have barrels everywhere, but they're still not without crates. Every game in the series has crates containing animal friends, but the second game also has throwable crates. In Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, crates can contain things ranging from a single banana to a puzzle piece.
  • The Jetsons: Cogswell's Caper! justifies this by setting its first level in a "Packing Factory," but crates are prevalent throughout the game, and throwing them is your principal attack.
  • In Tesla: The Weather Man, crates seem to be conveniently common around the game's various secluded mountains, lakes, and deserts.
  • Iji has crates that are mostly just used for cover. They can be broken, but, as the beginning tutorial explicitly states, there's never anything in them.
  • In Earthworm Jim, the very first Boss Battle involves knocking dropped crates back at the boss. Unusually, they have fully animated sprites.
  • In Mickey Mania, the first level, which takes place on a dock, involves much climbing over crates and riding moving crates, as well as avoiding falling crates and things falling out of crates.
  • In LittleBigPlanet, depending on how you built your crates in Level Editor, what material it's made and what it's contained, you can play this straight, subvert or avert this trope.
  • In Animaniacs for the Sega Genesis, crates appear early and often as pushable and pullable stepping stones for the Warners.
  • Ninja Five O has crates all over the place, but they're just obstacles to jump over.
  • Nihilumbra: There's crates in places you really wouldn't expect one, like in the middle of icy wastelands or just by a lava floe. They make decent button-pushers.
  • In Gamer 2, crates are among the falling debris Hailey must dodge during the falling level.
  • Ascent Crash Landing: There are crates in the game that Bluu can break for items.
  • Tamarin has crates you can break by shooting them.
  • Moon Raider has crates. Break them by shooting them, and you will get stuff.
  • Mighty Aphid: There are crates in the game that Avery "Aphid" Cavor can shoot for stuff.
  • Mail Mole: There are crates in the game that Molty can destroy with either a Ground Pound or Dash Attack.
  • Haunted Halloween '86: The Curse Of Possum Hollow: The game has crates (that come in either brown or green for some reason) that Donny and Tami can pick up and throw. They break on contact with either the ground, or with any enemy they hit.
  • Pizza Vs. Skeletons: The "rescue the puppies" levels have an ubandance of crates in them. Luckily, the pizza can smash them.
  • Smashroom: Among the objects that the Player Character can blow up, there's crates.
  • Tiny Hands Adventure: There are plenty of crates in each level for Borti to break. Some contain meat, some are empty. The green ones contain extra lives, and the yellow ones explode. There are also purple ones with "Safe Zone" written on them that serve as checkpoints.
  • Castle on the Coast: There are plenty of crates in the game that'll block George's path. Luckily a Spin Attack smashes them in one hit.
  • Prison City: Crates can be seen laying throughout the game, with diagonal reinforcing bar. Destroying them often rewards the player with items.
  • Inspector Gadget: Adcance Mission has classic wooden crates in all levels, often forming stacks.

    Puzzle Game 
  • Baba is You has a BOX object, resembling wooden crate. What it does is determined by the rules present in the level. They first appear in Temple Ruins.
  • Ballance involves crates in its puzzles often. For one, your ball cannot push crates while it is in the Paper form. Also, there's the puzzle where you have to push a crate from under a raised block so that it drops, but keep your ball from going all the way under the block lest you get stuck on the other side.
  • CrateMaster was a puzzle game available on the Old Man Murray website. The purpose was to score points by clearing horizontal row of crates. In addition, crates could be stacked on top of each other.
  • Handshakes features wooden crates as a common object to be pushed around, either onto a Pressure Plate or in later levels, something to get rid of.
  • Limbo has quite a few crates. Mostly for climbing on.
  • Mad Age & This Guy: The levels of the game are all chock full of pushable blow up-able crates.
  • The test chambers of Portal usually had dispensers to give you crates as you needed them for Block Puzzles, though the game's love of Expospeak Gags meant that these weren't just crates but "Aperture Science Weighted Storage Cubes". This particular Valve hero didn't get a crowbar, so we don't know what what was in them - except that one of them was probably full of love for you. The sequel's cooperative play ups the ante with the "Aperture Science Edgeless Safety Cube", which the untrained observer might mistake for a sphere.
  • Quadrax comes close with the stone blocks, which are main element manipulated in the game. They come in different variants, from daily classic, obligatory ice blocks and blocks that shatter upon impact to levitating ones and blocks that fall up. Some games even introduce a teleport that can change their type to more convenient one.
  • Scribblenauts has a merit called "Old School." The requirement to get it is to make an object commonly used in classic video games. Its icon is a crate.
  • Sokoban's gameplay is entirely based on crates. The title, after all, is "warehouse keeper" in Japanese.
  • Wonderland Adventures contains some barrels.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • In Achron the resources are kept in highly advanced containment devices that can safely store materials which should by rights destroy the continent by a teleporter mechanism that continuously teleports its contents back into the center of the container faster than they can leak out. They still look like crates though.
  • Crates are a mainstay in Command & Conquer, although they aren't very common.
    • When moving a unit over it, the owner receives money or bonus units, or other effects such as improving the units speed, defense or level (after Tiberian Sun). However, there is also a chance for them to explode.
      The crates got a sci-fi redesign in Tiberian Sun and are also seen in Tiberium Wars; they also made it possible to select a crate and tell what it would give you. However, Red Alert 3 not only reverted the design to a more classic look, it also made it easy to tell what type of crate it was at a simple glance, and made it so you had to specifically order a unit to grab a crate.
    • Command & Conquer: Generals does not have these "powerup" crates, but the main resource of the game were crates. The game never details what's in those crates, the content directly translates into money. It also had crates that had U.N. stamped on them that represented foreign aid supplies that gave you a nice cash boost. One of the funner GLA missions had you attacking towns being supplied by U.N. convoys to reach a certain amount of money; you're specifically told to kill the people and destroy their houses to get the supplies hidden there.
    • The GLA also adhere more to this trope than expected: destroyed enemy vehicles leave crates behind, which can be looted to upgrade your own vehicles with better weapons. This mechanic was then applied to more units in the Expansion Pack Zero Hour.
  • Stacking and smashing crates is one of the main gameplay elements in Team Buddies.
  • Dawn of War II has crates that if shot at with highly penetrating and explosive bolts by the heroes reveal supplies of bombs, grenades, mines and other munition.

  • In Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead, this trope is Zig-Zagged depending on where you found the crate. In the back room of certain shops, you might find crates packed with useful items, but in basement shelters the crates simply serve as an improvised barricade made by the previous inhabitant of the house.
  • Dwarf Fortress. You get barrels and bags with items you buy in the expedition planner, or just get barrels for the sake of getting barrels, and part of the game's recursive Inventory Management Puzzle involves the construction of barrels, bins, and bags to organize the endless clutter you will produce. Crates and bins are simply very useful, but barrels are essential for a fortress. Any player who does not take getting barrels seriously is in for a world of Fun. Without enough barrels, no excess food will be stockpiled, and no alcohol can be brewed. A lack of either can literally mean the death of your fortress. The player can save on the wood that would be needed to make barrels by making stone pots (which can also contain food and booze) instead. After all, if you're in a biome with few trees, you'll need the wood to make beds, as your dwarves apparently can't make beds from anything else.
  • RemiLore: Lost Girl in the Lands of Lore: You can find and break crates in the game. Doing so will yield you dessert points.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The series in general typically averts the standard format of this trope in several ways. Crates are never breakable or mobile, they typically only store realistic amounts of stuff, and you can put things into them as well as take them out. They're also not usually very useful for platforming. That said, they are still visually presented as the classic "sealed packing crate", perhaps so players recognise them on sight.
    • In Morrowind, crates, barrels, urns, and all sorts of other containers are found throughout the game. They can contain anything from low-end Shop Fodder to consumables to items of real value and weapons and armor. Unlike most examples, they aren't breakable, cannot be moved, and are rarely used as climbing platforms. In fact, the game doesn't give you time to orient yourself before you see your first crate; you wake up in a ship's cargo hold. The game also But Thou Musts you into interacting with a barrel just a few minutes later during character creation.
    • The Market District of Oblivion's Imperial City is packed with crates.
    • Skyrim:
      • Every building seems to have a basement filled to the brim with crates and barrels full of vegetables. Inverted during a certain Thieves' Guild quest, when you get to kill someone by placing poisoned fruit in a barrel.
      • There is a mod that allows you to assemble simple chests, ornate chests, drawers, closets, barrels, safes... And crates. While all of these allow you to store items, crates can be stacked and then used as makeshift stairways.
  • Tokyo Xanadu: Each labyrinth has boxes inside which can be broken to obtain blue energy to heal, yellow energy to recharge your X-Drive gauge, and other additional goodies like consumable items and crafting materials. In fact, part of the final grade you get from completing the labyrinth goes to destroying all of the boxes.
  • FromSoftware
    • Subverted in Dark Souls, there are various crates in Undead Burg, but breaking them wouldn't net you anything good unless a Vagrant is hidden within them. Although some PvP invaders would use Chameleon spell to disguise themselves as those crate, smashing everything that breaks is the best way to reveal them.
    • Smashing crates becomes much more meaningless in Dark Souls II, while Chameleon spell still exist, Vagrants can no longer be found in Drangleic.
    • By the time of Bloodborne, the Chameleon spell is replaced by Messenger's Gift, which only has one disguise as Messengers. Crate smashing is completely meaningless.
  • Subverted and lampshaded in Fable II: smashable crates and barrels are everywhere, but are invariably empty. (About halfway through the game you do start seeing the occasional Exploding Barrel of gunpowder, but they're rare.) One of the loading screen's earliest helpful hints is (approximately):
    Smashing crates and barrels is good fun, but you don't seriously think people would keep anything valuable inside, do you?
  • Common in the Tales of... games. Crates are used to make paths, press buttons, destroy obstacles, etc. Typical video game stuff. There are also mini-game warehouses that have you re-arrange crates.
  • The various Kingdom Hearts games contain crates, of the jump-upon and break-for-lootz varieties. The level that gives the strongest Fridge Logic is Monstro, set inside the giant whale himself. Monstro has intact crates strewn through all of his major organs. Having intact ones in his stomach is even a stretch.
    • Kingdom Hearts coded and Re:Coded are particular examples in that pretty much everything breakable is a crate. Some bosses even require crate breakage to be beaten.
    • Oddly, the wooden crates blocking paths in Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance]'s version of Traverse Town can't be broken by attacking them in a conventional fashion, instead having to launch something at them with a reality shift.
    • There are also a lot of wooden barrels in Olympus Coliseum. Breaking them is part of a timed obstacle course, and you also have to throw them at Hercules when you're fighting him.
  • A typical Might and Magic game is loaded with crates. Most of them are usually booby-trapped, as well.
  • In Neverwinter Nights you can freely hack open any crate, rendering lockpicking mostly useless. In the second game though you can break the items inside.
  • Golden Sun has crates and barrels everywhere.
  • Vagrant Story, so much. There are half a dozen different types used in the Block Puzzles, ranging from standard wooden crates to magnetic cubes which attract or repel each other.
  • The Mass Effect series is part RPG and part cover-based shooter, so it's full of both lootable crates and inexplicably bulletproof chest-high crates, with a few "fragile" (i.e., breakable; one sidequest in Mass Effect 2 has some of the quest items you have to obtain in crates you have to break) and explosive ones thrown in to mix things up.
  • Dragon Age: Origins has crates everywhere (as well as barrels). Usually they're just there as scenery (in storehouses, warehouses, caravans, etc.) but sometimes they're lootable. They may serve as cover against missiles, but they aren't climbable or movable.
  • Several Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness areas have them as roadblocks and you need to push them around to navigate. One level has you push them onto symbols to open a door.
  • In the second Endless Ocean game, you frequently dig up crates while diving for treasure. The appraiser lady tells you what's inside.
  • In Ravensword: Shadowlands, here and there you can run into breakable crates, though they only contain small amounts of gold.
  • Ring Fit Adventure allows you to break crates by pushing in on the Ring-Con. This is sometimes required to clear your path but others can be broken for ingredient drops needed to make smoothies. There's also a crate-breaking mini-game designed to specifically give your arms a good workout.

    Shoot Em Up 
  • Chaos Heat have crates everywhere which can be shot for power-up and points. While finding crates and containers in warehouses and loading bays is expected, somehow you can also find similar crates in office conference rooms for no reason other than just because.
  • Crates, barrels, containers, G.I. Joe is just littered with them throughout each stage usually stocked with power-ups.

    Simulation Game 
  • The standardized crates from Startopia. All the same size and shape, but their texture maps indicate their contents. Their complete interchangeability is important when it comes to animation and game mechanics, since it's about as big as a Scuzzer droid could hope to carry, and fills one slot in the standard cargo hold.
  • Naval Ops - Crates containing ship parts, cash, or ammunition may float up from sunken enemy ships. Other drops are also generally crate-like in appearance.
  • Crates turn up in a few missions in Armored Core 3 (and maybe other titles in the series). They generally contain nothing the player can use, but your employers may pay a bounty for destruction.
  • Crates in MySims Agents come in two varieties: the kind that you open (for clothes, paints, objects, and so on), and the kind that are useful for climbing, especially when you get a piece of equipment that allows you to move them around in certain places. The former could be seen really early if you go behind the restaurant you start in; in fact, opening one of them is necessary to solving the very first case.
  • In Viscera Cleanup Detail crates and barrels are scattered around every level. The player can earn bonus points on their evaluation by storing them in marked cargo zones. Some levels have crates or barrels themed after the level, such as medical waste containers, and there are explosive barrles which will spread soot if burned in the furnace or with the welder.
  • Barn Finders: The areas you can explore to find stuff to sell at the pawn shop contain a lot of crates. You will need to move them around if they are blocking your way.

    Survival Horror 
  • Dead Space: Lying around the Ishimura are glowing metal boxes filled with goodies great for healing or blasting necromorph ass. Unfortunately, the Extraction version doesn't give the player enough time to use his levitating weapons to break all the boxes.
  • The Long Dark features small crates that can be broken apart for a small amount of firewood.
  • Ninja Outbreak: There are crates in the game that you will need to break to get at what they're blocking you from.
  • Resident Evil: Revelations: You open crates by attacking them with your melée weapon. This usually means stabbing them.
  • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard has crates you can break open for random items. After a certain point in the game, Lucas starts rigging crates with explosives, forcing you to either spend ammo shooting them open or gamble with taking damage every time you break one.
  • Present in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. titles. They'll absorb a few rounds before they break (which obviously can be useful during firefights), and in the first game the standard wooden box will occasionally have some goodies inside, but you're more likely to find useful gear in indestructible lockers or boxes. There are also metal boxes that almost always have ammo or healing items inside, but they're more rare. You can't pick up any of them or move them around except by running into them, though.
  • In Unturned, crates are not as common as in other games. However there are a still a few inexplicable crates in the sparse towns of PEI. Rewarding Vandalism is averted as the crates are unbreakable. The crate is the first and simplest container a player can craft, so it's up to you to fill the world with wooden boxes of loot.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • The first level of Oni takes place in a warehouse full of crates.
  • Used and lampshaded, of course, in Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard. Later in the game, you even go to the warehouse where they make the crates.
  • The first Destroy All Humans! video game had crates appear quite late into the game, and if you have the opportunity to read the mind of a dockworker, one might be thinking, "I hate my job! Climb crates, push crates, jump on crates, destroy crates...that's not fun!"
  • 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand has crates crammed full of bling (money). The crates are even Color-Coded for Your Convenience to indicate how much money a crate contains.
  • The Splatoon series features wooden crates littered throughout its single-player campaigns. They can be destroyed and may contain Power Eggs or other collectables, but there's not much more to say about their usage in the series — until Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion came along with all kinds of creative applications for this gaming staple. One level might task you with carefully destroying only the correct crates to match a three-dimensional shape, while another asks you to set off a chain reaction that destroys a tower of crates using only a single well-placed shot, and still others use crates as the floor, forcing you to mind where you're shooting lest you run out of footing. The Octo Expansion also introduces a new variation of special "target" crates, which usually appear in tests where the ultimate objective is to destroy a certain number of them.

    Turn-Based Tactics 
  • Crates are parachuted into the battleground in the Worms games, presumably by the same air force responsible for the air strikes, napalm strikes, mail strikes and concrete donkeys. They can give weapons, tools or health, and explode if you shoot them. Also, depending on the game, if there's an animal inside a weapon crate, destroying it might also release a sheep, which will also explode if it touches solid ground.
  • Odium has a lot of small crates strewn around the city, which usually inexplicably contain military-grade weaponry. Big, unopenable crates are also sometimes found on battlefields and can be used as cover; they can also be moved around, one square at a time, but it's a waste of turns usually.
  • Russian Aid in Shattered Union. Either boost units, is a trap, or gives player a random Russian unit.
  • Jagged Alliance 2 has a few scattered around, but subverts the trope by requiring the player to spend action points forcing them open rather than shooting or smashing them apart. A crowbar helps, but unlike Gordon Freeman you have to use it for its intended purpose.
  • These have been present in the Disgaea series starting from the third game. They're most frequently used to make steps to get over walls with, but they can also be attacked and destroyed for the purpose of filling the bonus gauge. The Thief class is able to generate them at will to be used for either purpose.

    Wide-Open Sandbox 
  • In The Godfather: The Game you have both destructible and indestructible crates lying around, as well as explosive-filled ones. Sometimes the destructible ones may contain cash.
  • Grand Theft Auto (Classic) features wooden crates, usually in the middle of the sidewalk. These crates contain items such as weapons and powerups.

Non-video game examples:

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Doomsday has an underground bunker full of crates. Fortunately, there's also a checklist of what's inside all of them. One particularly large crate holds a perfectly preserved and road-ready 2007 Bentley Continental GT Speed, which the protagonist proceeds to use in the Mad Max-eque car chase/ battle sequence climax. One of the characters even comments on the amount of boxes they find:
    Dr. Ben Stirling: Jesus. What've they got in here, the lost ark?
  • Fulltime Killer: Tok stocks a warehouse with crates containing weapons for his final confrontation with O, obviously intending to live out a real-life game of Metal Slug. O, in spite of himself, is appreciative.
  • Averted in Future War, but the production's budget troubles likely precluded the use of crates. Plenty of cardboard boxes though...

  • The Amateur by Robert Littell. The protagonist's best friend in the CIA is a "crateologist", whose job it is to study photographs of crates and work out what's in them. At one point he deduces that a well-guarded stash of crates contain a shipment of black-market condoms, and is unamused when the protagonist suggests the Soviets are shipping classified material in condom crates.
  • Death Lands. The group find some sealed crates in a secret government stockpile and J.D. starts going into Gun Porn detail over what exotic weapons might be in them. Everyone (except J.D.) bursts out laughing when the crates turn out to be full of thousands of plastic zippers.
  • In John Dies at the End, John predicts that a warehouse they must enter will be stocked with crates containing weapon powerups, along with other video game cliches.

    Live Action TV 
  • SAS: Rogue Heroes. During the siege of Tobruk an officer levers open a crate on the docks marked British Zoology Society: Dangerous Reptiles! to reveal it's packed full of parachutes. Given the price of silk on the Black Market it's not surprising they want to discourage people from opening it—and the officer is stealing the contents himself, after having bribed a dock worker to let him know when any parachutes turned up. Though he does want to use them for jumping out of airplanes.


    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • The Onion has an article about the fictional video game Crate Stacker, which is designed to have no impact whatsoever on kids' behavior. Gameplay is entirely limited to stacking crates in an otherwise featureless room.
  • As discussed under the Serious Sam example, Old Man Murray considered crates to be lazy game design, and created "Start to Crate" as an unbiased review method. The longer one went before seeing the game's first crate meant the more ideas the designers actually had.
  • Done with boxes instead, but the first battle between the Angry Video Game Nerd and the Nostalgia Critic mocks this.

    Western Animation 
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars uses distinctive crates as set dressing in many episodes. They have a circular indentation in each side — unless the rendering team forgot to flip the (CPU-intensive) "round" switch, in which case they're hexagonal indentations.
  • "Crate Expectations" was the title of an episode of The Completely Mental Misadventures Of Ed Grimley (Hanna-Barbera, 1988). Ed accidentally gets crated up while searching for a birthday present for Miss Malone.

    Real Life 
  • If you've ever been to a warehouse, you know these things are there somewhere; just not in the amount usually depicted in media. No one in their right mind would keep money in them either.
  • In real life, cardboard boxes are way more common, being considerably cheaper and lighter. Beyond that there are always wooden pallets with the contents held together by plastic wrap, which would be very similar to a wooden crate.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Start To Crate


Toad Town warehouse

This place contains quite a few crates, some of which are breakable. Mario has to break a crate to get the manhole hook he needs.

How well does it match the trope?

4.75 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / CrateExpectations

Media sources: