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An infrequent method for Painting the Medium in video games is to disguise a menu interface as a level unto itself, which the player can navigate using their game character and actual gameplay controls.

So, instead of navigating an abstract cursor across a set of icons and text labels that correspond to the various menu options, the protagonist essentially is the cursor, and the player approaches and interacts with menu options the same way they would interact with actual, in-universe objects. "New Game" and "Load Game" might be presented as literal doors for the player character to walk through, literal buttons to stomp on, literal crates to smash, literal blocks to slide around, or so on. Even if the main menu isn't presented this way, this might be applied to other menu-like features, particularly Difficulty Level selection.

Subtrope of Interactive Start Up.

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  • Several I Wanna Be the Guy fangames that use I Wanna Be The Engine or its variations as a base. But not those that throw you into the game DIRECTLY after the game starts running.
    • I I Wanna Be The Shrine Maiden you have two options to choose from: "Start" and "Tutorial". "Start" is self-explanatory, but when you try to jump on "Tutorial"... Splat. Okay, let's just say the main menu is the first level after all.
    • I Wanna Be The Better Er- Engine has a regular Load Game menu, but, at the same time, allows its users to have difficulty selection passages, as well as the point where you may redefine the controls "on the fly".
    • I Wanna Be The Fangame starts the player out in a difficulty selection room. The harder the difficulty, the more Spikes of Doom you have to jump over to get there.
  • Takeshi's Challenge, from the creator of Takeshi's Castle. Moreover, you don't even have to leave the menu in order to get an ending! Just punch the title screen 20000 times and you're done.
  • Spelunky's menu is a large cave chamber... with only two doors (and the Hub Level, if you unlocked the shortcut), a flare you can toss around and logo you can jump on and off (you can't die this way, no matter how much you try). The remake has an ordinary menu (the large chamber is still there, now purely the main mode's Hub Level).
    • There is also a button in the Scores door where you have to push a block down a path to push the block onto it. The button resets the game's progress.
  • Katamari Damacy to some extent: the save game select screen uses the in-game controls; and while the Level/Character/Operation select system (Select Meadow, Space Mushroom, etc.) do not, they are playable in their own way.
  • The ship selection screen in Rogue Leader is a hangar that you explore on foot with your character.
  • In the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Arcade Game, gameplay begins with a screen in which Indy selects Easy, Medium or Hard difficulty by entering one or three doors. Naturally, the "Hard" door is the least simple to reach.
  • In Pitfall 3D: Beyond the Jungle you navigate Harry through the menu selection. Heck, even the cheat-menu is playable.
  • Knytt Underground combines this with Hub Level, as the transporter to each Chapter is in a separate room you have to navigate to, along with a fair share of secrets and Easter Eggs.
  • The Wolf and the Waves: The main menu takes place on the player character's raft before he reaches the island. You can wander around, throw rocks into the ocean, and even hit a lilypad.

  • Time Traveler: If this is your first adventure, select "Learn"! Or, if you won't move him left to the tutorial, Marshal will automatically enter the "Play" portal.

  • The Time Warp of Dr. Brain had a Space Invaders clone for its main menu. Occasionally two different rocket ships would cross the top of the screen; shooting one got you the main game's high scores, while shooting the other got the game's credits.

  • Duck Game uses this trope for all of its menus, bar the player gallery and the options screen, allowing you to try out the smaller techniques within the platforming, as well as some of the weapons, in the case of the wait screen.
  • Kasumi Ninja on the Atari Jaguar has a variation of this for its single-player mode, where you walk around a round dungeon-like room and go up to statues of the game's characters to select them. First the one you want to play as — you only have Habaki and Senzo to start with, but you unlock more as you beat them — and then the one you want to fight.
    Announcer: Entering... the combat zone!
  • Mortal Kombat: Up to the 2011 game, the Krypt is presented in a traditional menu, where you pick extras you wish to buy/select. In X, you now control a character who navigates through various areas of the Krypt, meaning that instead of simply moving the cursor, you have to proactive approach the designated things to see the extras. Also, while the 2011 game has jumpscares that only serve to shock the players, the jumpscares of the playable Krypt can kill you if you don't fight them.
  • Super Cosplay War Ultra, partially as the result of being programmed on Fighter Maker 2002 engine, allows you to choose one of the four singleplayer modes... by hitting cosplayers that represent these modes. Oh yeah.
  • A bland Street Fighter knockoff on the NES made by ASDER, called Fighting Hero, also has a similar feature for the country selection. Only this time, it didn't work.
  • Virtua Fighter 2 has you enter your initials for a high score by beating down letters the size of your character.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • The first Quake has you choose the difficulty level by entering one of three portals in a spooky castle. After that, there's the episode select room with a secret Nightmare difficulty portal.
    • With this game's multiplayer support, it can be taken to the next level by allowing you to play the difficulty select level in deathmatch mode.
  • In Sauerbraten you not only point at the menu buttons with your crosshair... you may actually freely walk around them. Remember, though, like in Cube, Time Keeps On Ticking.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops — the main menu actually has the player strapped to a chair, with the options appearing on a TV nearby, though it acts more like a traditional menu once you select one of the options. You can also repeatedly hit a button to break out of the chair and explore the room you're in.
  • Hard Reset's upgrade interface has you control the Player Character... while he uses a point-and-click menu. Your mouse cursor controls the cursor on his screen.
  • Call of Juarez: The Cartel does this for the multiplayer lobby, setting it in a precinct that you can walk around to select the different options (such as changing up your weapon loadouts by going to the firing range).

    Maze Game 
  • Lady Bug had a playable high score name entry screen, where letters were entered by walking the insect over them.

  • Psychonauts has this for the main menu, in the form of the brain with several doors.
  • Super Mario Sunshine's file select screen has Mario on a 2-D plane, with the files selected by hitting blocks. Mario can use all his regular platforming moves to play around the blocks.
  • McKids allows you to control the character on the main menu this way also.
  • Happens in Concerned Joe from website Armor Games, starting with the logos, going through the main menu, and finishing with the ending. There's not much of a No Fourth Wall.
  • The Mega Man Anniversary Collection has a game selection menu where the player controls Mega Man and has him enter doors leading to the various games (though you can't jump or shoot, only walk around and enter the doors.)
  • In Sonic Generations, bonus content is known as the Gallery and takes the form of a long hallway with displays like an art museum, which Sonic can freely walk around in. It's located directly underneath Sonic's house. Omochao also has a kiosk nearby, where you can acquire upgrades and other goodies.
  • The title screen in Gamer 2 also doubles as a Training Stage, with tooltips and a harmless zombie to practice combat on.
  • In Desert Demolition Starring Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, after you select your character on the title screen, the options menu has you play as that character and customize the options by having them pull switches.
  • In the SNES version of Sparkster, the password menu has you play as Sparkster and input the password by hitting the boxes with his sword.

  • Antichamber: The room you start in acts as an overworld map, a settings page, a place to track all the quotes you've found so far, and the place you can escape to anytime when stuck.
  • The menu of Scribblenauts doubles as a sandbox mode.
  • Subverted in Baba is You. The world maps are set up to look like the game's puzzles, even going so far as to contain rules that can be viewed on the pause screen like with normal levels. However, since the actual objects they describe don't exist, it's all mostly there to look pretty. Double subverted when you start solving levels by creating "Level is [Object]" rules, which transform the level into objects that can be manipulated by the maps' rules. And then there are the Depths and Meta, which both require you to make levels into objects to progress further within!

  • The pause menu of Fable III is an extradimensional space (complete with butler). The player character moves around inside to manage inventory, check quests, and examine the map.
  • Magi-Nation uses it. You can even reach the New Game Plus option by a secret area that you need a later-game item to access.
  • System Shock 2 has character creation/background chosen by several stages of walking into one of 3 exits. Complete with specific cutscenes.
  • Odin Sphere features this as part of its Framing Device: you get to control a little girl named Alice, who must pick up a character's book to read it. You can also pick up her cat Socrates to review your archives, or just wander around the attic.
  • In Terranigma, the pause menu to change your equipment and spells is a Hammerspace library of three rooms, that you can wander around in.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • The iPhone-based Portal clone Wormholes has this for a level select screen. You spawn in a room with doors along every wall, each of which lead to a different level. Open doors indicate levels you have unlocked, while closed doors block access to levels you haven't legitimately reached. A Bottomless Pit in the center leads to the first level.

  • Practically the norm for Virtual Reality games to dump you in a starting room where you can select options and modes with your controllers, be it pointing at them or physically interacting with buttons.
  • The Treehouse in Ultimate Chicken Horse. You use a cursor to select your animal, but after that, you select everything else by jumping and running onto various platforms with the same controls used in-game.
  • The Boxcar in The Blackout Club combines functions of main menu, trophy room and in-game help. Everything else is moved to a more typical settings menu.
  • The first five PlayStation installments of the Namco Museum series have their menu screens take the form of a literal museum, played in a first-person 3D perspective, where each game has its own exhibition room. The exhibits include development information and game-related merchandise, as a real museum would, while the games themselves are played by interacting with replicas of their real-life cabinets. Game options are accessed by interacting with a receptionist at the front entrance, and additional rooms house miscellaneous content: a library includes magazine scans and concept art while the Sound Test is accessed via a jukebox. The games can also be accessed through a more traditional list-based menu, which subsequent Namco Museum installments also use.

Alternative Title(s): Walk Over Here For Options