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Ship Level

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"Rusty Bucket Bay! Next our heroes find themselves aboard the HMS Gruntilda, and there will be no mistaking this ship for the Love Boat in a Rusty Bucket Bay. Everything onboard seems to have something against yah', and if you're not careful, you'll definitely go down with the ship.
Banjo-Kazooie Promotional Tape

Many video games, particularly stealth games and First Person Shooters (oftentimes in multiplayer maps), feature levels that require the player to navigate the inside of a ship. From a game design perspective, there are good reasons why a level taking place in a ship is convenient, some of which overlap with the reasons why it might be fun to play hide-and-seek on a ship:

  • Ships are generally surrounded by water (unless they're in drydock), giving the level convenient boundaries, eliminating the need for arbitrarily-placed Invisible Walls and the like by having an endless ocean surrounding the ship, which is more convincing.
  • Below deck, ships have narrow corridors and sneaking through a well-lit corridor is quite a challenge.
  • The corridors also facilitate linear level design very well due to being, well, corridors.
  • A ship far out at sea is surrounded by water, which can be used to make the game world seem very large (with less effort than creating an epically-sized game landscape, for example). Additionally, having gameplay take place on a large ship that is steadily moving through water can convey that great distances are being covered, which can give the feeling of progressing through an epic journey.
  • Ships can be sunk! This can make for convenient plot excuses to have the level take place on a ship (either sinking or saving a ship from sinking), thus taking advantage of all of the aforementioned aspects of ships. However, it is hard for an individual video game protagonist or even a team to sink a ship and the lengths that must be taken to do this can also prove convenient from a game design perspective (for example, as in Deus Ex, the player might have to plant explosives at specific points to sink a ship, necessitating that the player navigates through the ship and also forcing the player to leave the ship afterwards). This can also make for a transition into an underwater level or something similar if it is not possible to leave the ship before it sinks.

Note that airships and landships are covered here as well, especially if they look like typical sea ships for whatever reason.

A specific subtrope of this is Gangplank Galleon. Related to Down the Drain in that a sewer level and a ship level can share some qualities, such as maze-like design and aesthetic similarities. It does not necessarily coincide with Get on the Boat. Contrast Battleship Raid, which takes a similar idea in a different direction.


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  • ANNO: Mutationem: Ann travels to The Walter Raleigh, a decrepit old freighter ship nearby Harbor Town owned by the Factio Pugni to retrieve her brother's stolen ROM.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: Even though the game is a set in an ocean-filled world, there are only two ship levels, Tetra's Ship and the Ghost Ship. The former is boarded twice, and in both cases Link must complete a challenge offered by Niko to obtain a reward. The latter is accessed upon collection of the Ghost Ship Chart, and inside Link has to defeat a group of enemies in order to claim one of the Triforce Charts.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass: There are several small boats Link can board, as well as Jolene's Ship and the Ghost Ship. Each of the small boats is located in a quadrant of the World of the Ocean King, and there's a late-game Chain of Deals sidequest involving the characters who respectively pilot them. Jolene's Ship is a Boss-Only Level, as all you do when you're ambushed by it is to defeat Jolene in a Mini-Boss fight (always on Linebeck's behalf). The Ghost Ship is a proper dungeon, and in it you're searching for Tetra while dealing with the haunting enemies that roam it (the Reaplings).
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: The Sandship that protects Nayru's Flame is this and a Ghost Ship, though not simultaneously. The 'ghost ship' parts involve the fact that several bits of the ship are smothered in quicksand, It regresses into a standard Ship Level when the Timeshift Stone is tripped - complete with Technoblin crew.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: The Wind Temple of this game is a giant airship (it's alternate name is "The Legendary Stormwind Ark") that resembles a Viking longship complete with dragon-headed prow and huge "oars" going up and down its sides.

    Beat 'em Ups 
  • The stage where Drake is fought in Final Fight 3 is one of these, but it's stationary.
  • The fifth stages of Streets of Rage 1 and 2 are set on some.

    Fighting Games 
  • Fatal Fury 2: Andy's stage is set on a boat in the channels of Italy, and Mai is fought on a large raft.
  • The King of Fighters:
  • The later ports of Street Fighter Alpha 3 move Karin from a nighttime version of Sakura's stagenote  to one of these.
    • There's also the Cruise Ship Stern stage in Street Fighter IV which, as the name implies, takes place on a cruise ship full of cheering spectators.
  • Marvel vs. Capcom 2 features a stage that takes place on the deck of Ruby Heart's flying pirate ship.
  • Debuting in Super Smash Bros. Brawl is the Pirate Ship stage from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Combatants fight on the ship as it sails across the sea, with tornados, rocks and the ocean itself as environmental hazards.
  • These are a staple of the Guilty Gear series, where they're the home stage for May and Johnny of the Jellyfish Pirates. However, their ship is a flying mechanical airship in the style of a traditional pirate ship.

    Platformer Games 

    Racing Games 
  • Mario Kart: Double Dash!! has Daisy Cruiser. It features a private pool which works as a bottomless pit, moving tables in a restaurant and a hidden passage leading to the boiling room with a cannon to escape. Pictured above is the Mario Kart 7 reiteration, which holds little differences: because of the underwater mechanic, the pool can be crossed as a shortcut and the boiling room becomes a coral private suite (this also holds true for its reappearance in Mario Kart Tour).

    Stealth Games 
  • In the Metal Gear series:
  • In the Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell series:
    • The second level of Chaos Theory takes place on a small ship called the Maria Narcissa. The level is very linear and the player must use ventilation shafts and the like to avoid being detected in the narrow corridors and to find and assassinate Hugo Lacerda.
    • In Double Agent, one of Sam Fisher's missions is to infiltrate a cruise ship and blow it up with a bomb from the JBA, though he can choose to disable the bomb if siding with the NSA. Another one of his missions in that game is to board and seize a Russian supertanker for the JBA by knocking out or killing the crew.
    • In a variation, both the first game and Pandora Tomorrow feature sections that take place inside submarines, in the Vselka DLC and the latter half of Komodo Island, respectively - although the subs are surfaced when you explore them, an objective in the Komodo mission involves coercing an engineer to forcibly raise the sub so it can be boarded in the first place.
  • Alpha Protocol has a mission set on a yacht.
  • Part of an early mission in Thief: Deadly Shadows involves sneaking through the zombie infested wreck of a ship near the docks to retrieve the captain's diary.
  • Hitman: Blood Money features a level taking place on an old-timey Mississippi steamboat, where Agent 47 is tasked with eliminating a drug-dealing Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit and his entire gang.

    First-Person Shooters 
  • From the Call of Duty series:
    • The first game had a level where the player must infiltrate the German battleship Tirpitz. The map is also used in the multiplayer.
    • The first mission of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, "Crew Expendable", is a raid on a cargo ship. The multiplayer map "Wet Work" is based on that level.
  • From Unreal Tournament and its sequels:
    • A map in UT, "DM-KGalleon" (Koos Galleon), is modeled after a ship, as is its continuation in Unreal Tournament III, "DM-KBarge."
    • Also from the first game, the Assault map, "AS-Frigate," is about infiltrating the eponymous frigate and taking control of it.
  • The E3 demo of Half-Life 2 took place on an abandoned icebreaker called the Borealis. The level didn't make it into the final release, though Episode 2 makes clear that Episode 3 will feature the Borealis. The mod Missing Information recreates the level from the concept art and makes it playable.
  • Cryostasis takes place entirely on a shipwrecked icebreaker called the North Wind.
  • One of the levels in episode 4 of Duke Nukem 3D is set in an oil ship.
  • A level of Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth takes place on a Coast Guard cutter.
  • Command & Conquer: Renegade's fifth mission has the player rescue prisoners from a Nod ship whose commanding officers are Shout Outs to The Love Boat and Gilligan's Island.
  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2: Although the level is in a cargo airplane, it's huge enough to practically be a ship, plus serves all the purposes listed in the trope description. There's another level that at least has you exploring the wreckage of various ships that ended up in the desert.
  • The Halo series is made of this trope.
    • Halo: Combat Evolved kicks it off with four explicit ship levels: evacuating the Pillar of Autumn (1) as it prepares to crash into Halo, the assault on the Truth and Reconciliation (3) in Halo's atmosphere, assaulting the Truth and Reconciliation again (9) to get Keyes's activation codes, and finally the return to the "beached" Pillar of Autumn (10) to blow it up and destroy Halo. Substitute space for water and they hit just about the whole checklist in the first game. Most of the indoor parts of the Halo itself feel like this, and for very loose interpretations of "ship" (for the sake of this trope space stations are admirable "ships"), practically the whole game could be considered this.
    • In Halo 2 you don't fight in any ships per se, but Cairo Station, the Forerunner Gas Mining Facility, the mobile Covenant capital of High Charity, and Delta Halo all have that feel. The Scarab feels like one too, though it's a walker and not even technically a ship.
    • In Halo 3, when you return to High Charity, it feels like this (again, loose definition of "ship").
    • In Halo 3: ODST, your team is planning on this (leading your squad's marksman to complain when the CO forces him to carry a sniper rifle), but the slipspace jump that you first saw Regret pull back in Halo 2 upsets that; you actually spend the game fighting in a city.
    • In Halo: Reach, you attack, maim, board, and commandeer the Ardent Prayer as part of Operation: Upper Cut. You use it to destroy the supercarrier Long Night of Solace.
    • Halo 4 begins with you fighting off Covenant remnant boarders in a broken-off section of the Forward Unto Dawn. Later you help defend the UNSC Infinity from Covenant and Promethean boarders. Then you try to defend Ivanoff Station. And finally you get to do a little boarding yourself by single-handedly storming the Mantle's Approach in order to nuke it from the inside. For its part, Spartan Ops has you defending the Infinity (again), and storming a Covenant Harvester (though it's technically a walker).
    • Halo 5: Guardians: The first Blue Team mission has you investigating an ONI research ship, while Fireteam Osiris at one point has to board and destroy a Covenant Kraken (basically a giant floating squid mecha).
  • GoldenEye has the Frigate level, where you must rescue hostages held by terrorists and place a tracker on a helicopter about to be stolen. The 2010 remake likewise has the second half of the Dubai: Carrier level.
  • Far Cry
    • Early in the PC version of Far Cry, the player has to fight their way through the wreck of a Japanese World War II aircraft carrier. With an army of mercenaries and a helicopter on the deck.
    • "Piece of the Past" from Far Cry 3 follows suit. It's the first in a series of missions where the player is searching out an ancient dagger, and the first lead is on a cargo ship that's been captured by pirates. You end up getting below deck, downloading some information from a laptop, which promptly sets off explosives to scuttle the ship.
  • In Battleborn, the whole story arc of the DLC story operation "Toby's Friendship Raid" takes place across the DLC villain's fleet of factory ships with the Rogues infiltrating each ship one after the other per playthrough. Due to how operations work, it's handwaved that the factory ships are practically identical though the leopard seal argues that since each ship of his has minor cosmetic differences, they're not all the same. This however doesn't stop other characters from commenting how completely identical the ships are.
  • ULTRAKILL: "SHIP OF FOOLS" in the Wrath Layer is a gigantic wooden vessel sized and set up like a galleon/cruise ship hybrid. The Ferryman was forced to upscale after The End of the World as We Know It turned the Styx into an outright ocean, and so you end up with narrow corridors, cabins full of Husks and larger party/stair halls wrecked by hectic combat within a ship so huge it's one of the game's longest levels. And true to form, it capsizes by the end as the Leviathan introduces itself and gets set up as the Layer's boss.

    RPGs and other games 
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow feature the S.S. Anne. Other Pokémon games have the player go on ships, but usually there is not as much to explore as in the S.S. Anne.
    • Pokémon Gold and Silver and their remakes feature the S.S. Aqua, which has different trainers to battle depending on whether you're going from Johto to Kanto or Kanto to Johto.
    • Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald have the Abandoned Ship and SS Tidal.
    • Pokémon Black and White has the Royal Unova in the postgame, which is rather large as well.
    • Then there's a more action packed one in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, the Team Plasma Frigate, where several boss battles will take place.
    • Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness has the SS Libra, which is wrecked in the middle of the desert. There are only a couple trainers/Cipher Peons aside from the old guy who's living on the ship, but you have to navigate a bunch of levels with crates and look for a missing Bonsly. The trouble is at the end, where you'll get knocked out and your Snag Machine stolen.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: Three sidequests take place in ships, one where a ship which is used as a hotel is hijacked by a gang of bandits and another where the player must retrieve an NPC's family heirlooms from a haunted ship. The final of these side quests takes place on a pirate ship docked in the Imperial City where, early into the Dark Brotherhood questline, the player must assassinate the captain (though you can also kill his crew).
  • Devil May Cry has mission 12 take place on a ghost ship. On it, Dante is attacked by Griffon for the second time.
  • You make your way through a Ghost Ship early on in the first Grandia.
  • Dubloon begins with Russel raiding Navi's ship in search of the Golden Chest.
  • In Eternal Sonata, you go from Prince Crescendo's ship to the pirate ship Dolce, where you fight a bunch of pirates, and eventually, the captain and her lieutenants.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, you board a ship with a literal skeleton crew in search of a piece of the Beanstar.
  • Final Fantasy:
  • The freighter version of Grand Theft Auto V's Merryweather Heist has the crew attacking a freighter ship owned by the mercenary group known as Merryweather. You sneak around and place sticky bombs as Michael, provide support with a sniper rifle as Franklin, and retrieve the treasure in a minisub as Trevor.
  • Resident Evil:
  • Chrono Trigger has you abroad an airship where your weapons are taken away. Depending on if the character Ayla is in your party will determine how you can get around. If you do not have Ayla you have to get around by stealth but with Ayla you can fight your way out, without weapons.
  • Secret of Mana has a flying desert ship, in which the heroes get split up.
  • Realms of Arkania (part 3 - Shadows over Riva) has the party being kidnapped to pirate ship, and later has them descending to the bottom of the sea where they fight in the remains of a sunken ship.
  • Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception has one set aboard a luxury liner commandeered by pirates.
  • Halo Wars has you fighting on top of your command ship, because slipstream is for sissies who aren't Spartans.
  • One task force in City of Heroes has the characters assisting the US Navy in fighting off an extra-dimensional invasion. A good part of the first mission takes place on board a squadron of Destroyers (fighting Giant Robots on top of the ships and clearing out teleporting invaders inside).
  • Endless Ocean has a sunken ship level. Its location moves between three spots in the game and is entered through a floating ghost ship. You can spend much longer than you'd think swimming around in it, because it's the only place certain marine species and game treasures can be found. Fortunately, the sharks swimming around the top of the ship won't hurt you, though the occasionally appearing huge great white will act displeased if you attempt to pet it. The only thing you have to watch is your air, to avoid being automatically brought back to the surface.
    • The sequel makes it a bit harder. The sharks will try to attack you, and require you to whip out the pulsar gun to calm them. When they smack you, your air supply goes down a bit. And the biggest shark, Thanatos, is nearly impossible to do anything with, gun or no gun.
  • Deus Ex Universe:
    • Late in Deus Ex, the player must destroy a Chinese Supertanker hidden in a New York naval base by scuttling the weld points in its hull with explosives.
    • The DLC for Deus Ex: Human Revolution, "The Missing Link", starts on a cargo ship heading for Rifleman Bank Station. Since you start completely depowered and without weapons or equipment, the first section almost enforces stealth, while there's an achievement for getting through the entire ship without being detected.
  • Tends to happen once per game in the Fire Emblem series. These chapters usually feature limited defensive terrain, cramped confines, and a lot of chokepoints (typically wooden bridges between your ship and the enemy's). Flying enemy reinforcements are also common. Fire Emblem Gaiden, the first game with ship chapters, is particularly infamous for its Act 2 consisting almost entirely of them.
  • In An Untitled Story, the path to the boss of DeepDive leads through the wreckage of SS Eternity. There's also a wreckage of another wooden ship on the other side of the area which cannot be explored, but has a bunch of collectibles underside, including quite appropriately a treasure chest.
  • XCOM Terror From The Deep had 2-part Terror Missions set on cruise ships: One part on deck, and the second part clearing out cabins, engine room, holds, etc. down below. Because the ships have narrow corridors and multiple levels, these terror missions are generally considered the hardest in the game, taking upwards of an hour to complete.
  • Armored Core 3 has one mission where the player must pilot a mech into a sinking ship to retrieve valuable cargo and escape before it finally goes under.
  • One dungeon in Cthulhu Saves the World is an Ultharian spaceship which Cthulhu and his companions infiltrate with the help of an Ultharian defector, Paws.
  • Persona:
    • In Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, the cruise ship Nichirin-maru, which also happens to be the lair of the NWO. Their conference room is briefly glimpsed in the prologue.
    • The seventh dungeon of Persona 5 is a cruise liner with the Tokyo parliament building on it sailing atop Tokyo. The dungeons of Persona 5 are shaped by the twisted perceptions of the people the Phantom Thieves target and this particular dungeon is based on the target's political ambitions, and how he'd let the entire country sink under him in order to prop up those ambitions. Several climactic battles are fought here, including the Sixth Ranger Traitor who tried to sell out the Thieves and betray the Big Bad.
  • The Arctic Cruise in A Hat in Time. Act 3 combines it with Slippy-Slidey Ice World, as you crash the ship into an iceberg and it capsizes and fills with freezing water, with you having to rescue passengers inside and on the ice around the ship.
  • Haunt the House has the Cruise Ship in Terrortown. Enjoy haunting a massive cruise ship with luxuries like a fountain, a kitchen, and a casino.
  • Splatoon 2: Manta Maria, a decommissioned ship being used as a multiplayer map. When talking about the stage, Pearl mentions she got a similar ship for her sixth birthday.
  • Chantelise: The Lonely Ship Bonus Level is a ship on the water with monsters on it.
  • Battle for Wesnoth: The fourth scenario of Secrets of the Ancients takes place on a ship, where barrels are the equivalent of village used for income and healing. The other, more important, gimmick of the scenario is a lower deck that can only be accessed from two "stairways".
  • Golden Sunthe Lost Age: Before you can Get on the Boat, you first need to clear it of the sea creatures infesting it (Piers was certain he'd locked the door before leaving). Any skipped items and battles inside aren't Lost Forever since you can dock the ship much, much later.


Daisy Cruiser

Daisy Cruiser as appearing in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

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