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Overworld Not to Scale

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Despite appearances, Crono is not the size of a house.
A traversable representation of a Video Game's region at large, or 'overworld', slightly abstracted and depicted at a much smaller scale than the other areas of the game, so that the player can travel between distant areas faster than they could if it were all depicted "to scale". That distant town that's said to be 100 miles up yonder mountain range? You'll get there in just a few minutes of walking by map.

Largely an RPG trope, made famous by Eastern-style RPG's like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy where (especially in the days of tile-and-sprite based 2D graphics) the party character(s) were always rendered the same onscreen size, regardless of the overworld map's actual scale.

Like other areas in the game, the player is free to travel anywhere on this map they have access to, with Chokepoint Geography being the only (or at least primary) thing to prevent them from potential Sequence Breaking (no, you can't walk around that plot-important town to reach the mountain range behind it). Also like other areas of the game, expect to be ambushed by Random Encounters as you travel across it. For the sake of convenience, most of these maps ultimately 'wrap around' in all four directions; that is, if you can travel indefinitely in the same direction, you'll end up looping back to where you started.

Don't expect to find many scripted events or NPC's to interact with, or places to shop (or rest and heal) directly on the overworld map — this world map exists for Travelling at the Speed of Plot between point A and B, nothing more. So if you know you're about to embark on a long, cross-continent trip, better stock up (and save your game) before you leave town. On the other hand, many RPG's will allow you to save your game anywhere on this map, where you'd otherwise have to find a specific Save Point to do the job.

Note that despite its small scale, traveling between two very distant destinations can still take awhile (mostly due to aforementioned Random Encounters) — one of the reasons you can look forward to getting your hands on a Warp Whistle or Global Airship.

If the game reveals that there is a second world (dark or otherwise) or time period with its own map, see Alternate World Map.

Compare The Overworld proper which is more detailed and closer to scale, and Point-and-Click Map, which is abstracted even more, and you basically just click on the destination you wish to enter. For even one more step in the abstract direction (popular with non-RPG games) to the point that the map is essentially cosmetic trimming, see "Risk"-Style Map. See also Portal Endpoint Resemblance, which also involves the entry point of a level essentially being the level in miniature.

Tangentially related to Units Not to Scale, which is more of a Strategy Game trope than RPG. See also Thriving Ghost Town.

Not to be confused with the Fantasy World Map often included in works of literature set in a Constructed World.


  • 1/1 Heroine (or RPG Heroine Who Looks Giant On The World Map But Actually Is That Big) is an animation series that subverts this. As the title implies, YUU-chan really is as big as she appears to be on the overworld. Hilarity ensues as she ends up in typical RPG situations that don't account for this size change, like fighting Mooks that are smaller than her heels, or recruiting party members that are regular-sized and trying to find a good role for them.
  • Chrono Trigger has the world map loop at the edges, giving the impression that what you see is the entire world (and shaped like a donut).
  • Chrono Cross is set entirely on a single archipelago, so its map is limited to the archipelago, but it is freely explorable (and with no Random Encounters!) and there are a variety of destinations.
  • Dragon Quest is the Japanese Trope Codifier, using some variation of it in almost every game to the series. Averted with Dragon Quest VIII, whose world map is drawn to roughly the same scale as the areas inside it. You can still explore anything you can access on foot, and you do have a Warp Whistle (the "Zoom" spell) at your disposal from early in the game.
  • In adventurer mode of Dwarf Fortress, you can walk from one town to the next by walking in fully zoomed-in modenote , and it will take the same amount of in-game time as walking across the fully zoomed-out map, so in this case it really is nothing more than a convenience for the player (not just in saving in real-world time, but also in navigating across long distances). When near or in a town/city, the "overworld" map has a zoom-factor between the two extremes, letting you see the overall layout of the town and letting you quickly move down long streets (though you still have to shift down to the to-PC-scale map to do anything but move).
  • The Final Fantasy series has used one in most of its games, the first nine in particular. The aversions come from Final Fantasy X (and its sequel), which don't have one - your Global Airship travels by Point-and-Click Map. Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XII don't have any either. The latter game does have distinct world map areas, almost completely bereft of friendly Non Player Characters and littered with monsters to keep you entertained. However, these are entirely to scale. One quickly comes to appreciate the numerous fast-travel options provided when the sidequesting begins in earnest.
  • The Glory of Heracles games have world maps as such. Uniquely, the world map in Glory of Heracles III does not loop around, and at one point in the game, you have to fly off of the world map entirely to reach the Underworld.
  • Golden Sun also features it: the first game only takes place on one-and-a-half continent with no other means of transportation than your feet, but the second lets you visit the entire flat world (aside from the parts available in the first): after a while, you gain a Cool Boat, then wings to put on your boat, then a Teleport Psynergy in the Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is a fairly straight example, in keeping with its RPG Elements: About the only purpose it serves is to connect existing locations, with occasional wandering monsters to harass you. In fact, the entire map of the previous game fits into a small plot of land south of Death Mountain.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: The Geat Sea averts the trope, because it is depicted at the same scale as the islands occupying it, leading to long sequences of sailing across blue waves from point A to B with nothing but the occasional monster harassing you (or ocean storm) to break up the voyage with. The Wii U remake makes travel faster, though.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword use a hybrid approach; you can freely go anywhere the ocean water (or train tracks, or sky) permits you, and there are a few things to keep you occupied (like shooting rocks or monsters) in the process, but these maps exist primarily to facilitate travel, and most actual gameplay interaction is inside each given destination.
  • The Lufia series uses this, too.
  • Lunarosse has its world map as such. It's mostly notable if you pay attention to how long ocean voyages are supposed to take once you get your ship. A ride to the nearest continent from your island base is supposedly an hour and a trip between two continents is indicated to take a day, yet you can accomplish both within seconds if you know where you're going.
  • In Mass Effect, you control a planet-sized Normandy as you go around the galaxy doing stuff.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2 got an overworld of this type in its second expansion Storm of Zehir. Random encounters and the party are modeled very much out of scale with the map and the locations, though at the start of an encounter the action shifts to a smaller map of correct scale.
  • Implied in the Pokémon games, as Non Player Characters will occasionally mention how long it takes to go from place to place, or note how far away the player character's hometown is. For example, Norman mentions that it takes him about 30 minutes to get from his gym in Petalburg to his home in Littleroot in the Hoenn games. You can run that distance in about thirty seconds, if you don't take your time to fight some wild Pokémon along the way. (And that's to say nothing of the anime, where it can take weeks to travel from town to town.)
  • Quest 64 has what could be considered a world map, but it's built to the same scale as the rest of the game instead of being shrunken down (as in, say, Final Fantasy VII). Played straight in the Game Boy port Quest RPG, though.
  • Early maps of Rakenzarn Tales worked like this. The day/night cycle did help create the illusion that the distance was bigger than it seemed, but you'd still be plodding through the regions at a fairly fast rate. This was later dropped in version four for a Point-and-Click Map.
  • Skies of Arcadia has you literally fly around the overworld in whatever airship you have at the time. It's the only time you can save freely, the world itself is scaled down to fit, and it's actually notoriously bad about the high random encounter rate, which the Gamecube port fixed a bit.
  • In Star Trek Online, ships are huge in sector space compared to stars and planets, planets are huge compared to their stars, and everything is huge compared to space itself (the stars ought to be pinpricks compared to each other at the distances given, and nothing else even ought to be visible). Justified: Sector space is implied to be a depiction of an actual map in your ship's stellar cartography or astrometrics lab, rather than what someone on your ship would actually see out the window as you travel. This was made a bit less severe with the revamping of sector space in Season 10.
  • Super Mario World uses this, and it gets a homage in both Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game and I Wanna Be the Guy: Gaiden.
  • The Tales Series, excepting Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World and Tales of Xillia, which use a Point-and-Click Map instead.
  • In Terranigma, Walking the Earth (the Earth) is made easy by the small-scale overworld, with Chokepoint Geography being the only obstacle to travel.
  • The Legend of Heroes "Trails" series uses an interesting variation: it avoids making the entire world seem too small by limiting its various game sub-series to typically single countries or parts of countries, like the Liberl Kingdom, the Crossbell Free State, etc. and making the "overworld" seem more conventionally walkable, with multiple zone maps between towns. However, the zone maps themselves are still not quite to scale; as one example, the first trip the Crossbell hero team takes out of the city is a walk that will take about 10-15 minutes of playtime, while the narrative treats it as if it was a multi-hour hike that leaves two team members — a former dilettante and a computer science nerd — completely exhausted, and even the other two fairly winded.
  • Ultima I or Akalabeth (depending on how you figure things; Akalabeth is pretty abstract in how it handles the world map) is probably the Trope Maker here, unless somebody can come up with something that predates 1981 or 1980, respectively. Starting with Ultima VI, the series' overworlds became to scale and seamless.
  • Games created with Unlimited Adventures can include "overland" levels, which is basically a big, static map with a white token representing the player party which can be moved around.
  • In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, this is actually where almost the entire game takes place: while the characters appear at reasonable size within the castle, that's just a base for preparations and the arena, with the vast majority of the game taking place directly on the massive overworld. Without Fight Wooshes, the units fight tactically across the map squares, and Word of God is that players should assume that each unit actually represents a whole battalion of soldiers.

Alternative Title(s): Traversible World Map