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Signpost Tutorial

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"Why, thank you, conveniently-placed sign of a video game controller and me!"
When a video game offers in-game instructions on how to play through some feature of the game world. The instructions may be advertised on some part of the background, or the player can stop to read them in a manner similar to Story Breadcrumbs.

This serves to make tutorial levels self-guided and less obtrusive than having NPCs interrupt the gameplay and try to explain the controls while maintaining character. Just don't ask us who the heck is responsible for building and placing those things out there.

Compare Instructive Level Design.


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    Action Adventure 

    Miscellaneous Games 
  • The tutorial level of Cortex Command features monitors that turn on when you move a Remote Body near them, showing playing tips.
  • The Glider PRO "Demo House" does this with instructions printed over the background graphic.
  • The Dead Mines: The first Apocalyptic Log-style note the player finds explains the controls.
  • Slap City: The first level of story mode includes signs explaining how to double-jump, etc.

    Platform Games 
  • Braid uses free-standing signs that depict a button and the action that your character will perform.
  • Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced: In the first "tutorial" stage, you'll find "hint squares" that will teach you how you do things.
  • In 2021 Garlic, black signposts will show the capabilities of the main character and how to perform the moves.
  • In Horatio The Third Senior Manjensen With Knuckles, the first level features signposts that tell you how to play.
  • Iji: The tutorial is given by reading floating logbooks.
  • The Jumper games give instructions to the player in form of unobstructing text, except for Jumper Two, which puts them away in blocks that Ogmo has to bump from below to read.
  • Kirby:
    • Kirby's Epic Yarn has the tutorial stage, Patch Castle, laden with signposts that demonstrate what certain buttons do in specific scenarios like when he transforms into a tank or a saucer.
    • Kirby's Return to Dream Land, which provides the page image, has large signposts in the background of the first few stages that demonstrate controls and actions with pictures. If the player follows directions, the sign shows a checkmark (international)/O mark (Japanese) and the game plays a chime. They were also featured in Dream Collection Special Edition, Triple Deluxe, Planet Robobot, Battle Royale and Star Allies.
  • Level Up: The tutorial is given through touching speech bubbles with question marks inside them, that lay on the ground.
  • The Lost Vikings uses squares with question marks that show an instructional text box when pressed. The very first such block activates automatically to explain how to read the other blocks.
  • In Marvin's Marvellous Adventure for the Amiga, the ground is strewn with Speech Bubbles saying "HELP." Hints from the Professor pop up when you walk over these.
  • Pizza Tower has a few signs in the background during the tutorials illustrating the actions the player can make.
  • Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? and its sequel have multiple signs scattered throughout the tutorial levels which cover the main mechanics of the game, such as jumping, attacking, marking checkpoints and even boss fights.
  • Purple's stage 1-1 features billboards that give instructions on moving around.
  • Putty has the Gym, a simple beginning level with signs showing where the Stretch, Bounce, Jab, Absorb and Inflate moves can best be used.
  • Shovel Pirate has signs marked with "!" . Going near these displays a tutorial message.
  • Super Mario 64 contains a number of signposts scattered throughout the Castle, and a few more in the levels themselves. They cover all of the basic moves and gameplay elements, but you can skip them if you want.
  • The signposts return in Super Mario Galaxy under the name of Bill Board, and they also cover the basics of gameplay.
  • The fangame Super Mario 63 conveys the majority of controls and hints to you from signs in the tutorial levels.
  • Super Mario World occasionally has message blocks that Mario can bump into that give playing hints, captioned "-Point of Advice-" (or "Tourist Tips" in the Advance remake).
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose! has wall signs in the first level pointing out where to "DASH!!" and "JUMP!!"
  • Toe Jam And Earl: Panic on Funkotron, for playing tips, recommends examining the funky fountains along your path.
  • Wario Land: Shake It! uses signs in the background of the tutorial level to show the controls.
    • Wario Land 4 has the Hall of Hieroglyphs, which teaches players in much the same way, only through the eponymous hieroglyphs.
  • In Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, message blocks similar to Super Mario World appear whenever a new gameplay mechanic is introduced that you can read for hints on what to do and how to do it. Some even have illustrations.
  • You Have to Burn the Rope has the game's only instructions written on the wall in the background.

    Puzzle Games 
  • In World of Goo, the signposts scattered around the stages will tell you how the new type of goo works if you encounter one, as well as give hints on how to clear the stage. It's also where most of the story is contained.

    Racing Games 
  • Need for Speed: Underground 2 has a series of info coronas laid around the Airport and City Center (the only two sections of town accessible at the start of the game). Driving through these gives you some information on the game and a small amount of cash.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • The tutorials in the Dark Souls games are given through messages on the ground. They outwardly look the same as the player-written messages, but once you read them they can be distinguished by unique art, inability to be rated, and not conforming the usual templates.
  • In Holy Umbrella, signposts in the Side View levels say which way the player should go, which techniques to use here or how the player needs to use them.
  • Present in any Pok√©mon main series game: Signposts may contain in-universe information (location names, etc.), or they may contain "Trainer Tips!" which provide tutorial-like information to the player.
  • Undertale mostly prefers He Knows About Timed Hits to this trope, but a few examples do occur:
    • Parodied with the first freestanding signpost in the game which reads "Press [Z] to read signs!"
    • A straight example is the piano puzzle in Waterfall, where the buttons to press are crudely drawn on the wall above.

    Simulation Games 
  • Black & White has literal signposts littered throughout the lands and clustered around your temple that remind you of how to do basic deeds, though there are actual advisors who explain the principles as well.

    Third-Person Shooters 
  • The early missions in Warframe feature tutorials in the form of black in-scene rectangles providing instructions for what you need to do. Interaction prompts likewise appear as tiny 3D models appearing near the objects.

    Non-VideoGame examples 
In Little Runmo a living signpost named Pikit gives a tutorial to Runmo, telling him that falling into pits will kill him. However, he later goes on a tangent about wondering where in the pit do the victims actually die, kicking the plot in motion.