One of the most important considerations in game design — particularly action game design — is how the player character is going to be able to move within the game. It may seem hard to believe now, but during the medium's infancy, giving players a wide range of movements simply wasn't possible due to hardware limitations. At one point, simply being able to make your character jump was considered state-of-the-art game design.
Today, however, massive improvements in both gaming hardware and coding tools have left game designers able to make characters move in any way imaginable. Even so, the way game characters move has remained somewhat consistent over the decades.
Consider a movement as basic as sliding. For the purposes of this trope, "sliding" refers to a deliberate action the player can take to make their character slide along the ground, usually for a quick burst of speed or to travel under a low-hanging obstacle. It doesn't include merely slipping around on ice or low-friction surfaces (although that can certainly make a slide maneuver more effective and/or dangerous), nor does it refer to characters that have loose, slippery movement physics by default.
Types of Sliding Moves
While the number of games where you can pull off some kind of sliding maneuver is so large as to be nigh uncountable, most sliding moves in gaming fit into roughly three different types: the Baseball Slide, the Downhill Slide, and the Slide Technique.
Possibly the oldest form of sliding in video games, the Baseball Slide works more or less the same way baseball sliding works in real life. A character gets a running start, and then slides (or ducks) and lets the momentum of their movement carry them through a tight spot.
The Downhill Slide, of course, refers to a character sliding down a slope or incline of some sort. Asides from being a fast and interesting way to traverse hilly or uneven terrain, it can also create opportunities for new moves, or even ways to dispatch enemies.
Finally, there is the Slide Technique. The Slide Technique is an actual, dedicated move that a character can use to slide across the floor. This may be nothing more than a simple sliding movement, or it may confer useful attributes such as temporary invincibility. If the Slide Technique is primarily useful as an attack rather than a movement option, it's a Slide Attack.
Common Characteristics of Sliding Moves
It's worth noting that sliding in video games tends to fall onto the lower end of the realism scale. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as games generally do have to set aside what's realistic in favor of what's actually fun to play. For a prime example, it's very common for a slide to be faster than running, which isn't how it works in real life. Runners in baseball slide because it's harder to tag a sliding person; the friction from the ground actually makes a slide slower than running.
Some other ways in which Video Game Slides frequently diverge from reality include:
- Allowing characters to slide with impressive speed and distance from a complete standstill;
- Traversing down rough slopes like a grassy hillside as smoothly as a theme-park water slide;
- Gracefully gliding along the floor in a really awkward crouch stance;
- Being able to chain a ground slide seamlessly into a jump or other maneuver without getting back up
- Making a character immune to attack damage
- And countless more...
- Metal Slug 5 introduced a sliding ability which allows you to shoot during the slide and/or jump immediately afterward. Interestingly, however, none of the later entries in the series kept the sliding mechanic.
- Pepsiman is a third-person runner where sliding is one of the title characters' few tools to traverse the ridiculously crowded streets of the city (and wherever else he ends up). It's required for getting under low objects, breaking through walls or objects, or even knocking hapless bystanders out of the way.
- Strider was one of the first games to feature a sliding move.
- Assassin's Creed introduced sliding in the fifth installment (Assassin's Creed 3) as a quick way to get under low obstacles such as holes at the bottom of fences or scaffolding. There are many such instances in both Boston and New York, especially in the underground tunnels. Though such openings can be hard to spot during free-running, utilizing one is a good way to put a lot of distance between you and any chasing opponents, since they cannot replicate the move. Sliding is triggered when running full-speed into a suitable obstacle.
- Sliding downhill also occurs in this and previous games in the series, but is typically part of scripted missions and thus not manually-triggered.
- In Batman: Arkham City, Batman's sliding skills are so great he can slide up a flight of stairs. But then, so can Robin, Nightwing, and Catwoman. Catwoman's upstairs slide is especially hilarious considering she slides on her knees.
- You can Baseball Slide for an extremely long distance in Horizon Zero Dawn, especially considering how much momentum you need to do it.
- Mid-way through Illusion of Gaia Will gains a Slide Technique as an extension of his psychic powers.
- The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap has rolling which is a commonly fast way of traveling, and it's also assigned to a Context-Sensitive Button.
- The first-person action game Mirror's Edge and its reboot Mirror's Edge: Catalyst make extensive use of sliding as part of their parkour-inspired movement mechanics.
- Ninja Gaiden 3 (2012) has a sliding move that is useful as a dodge , an offensive technique to put enemies off balance, and a way to get under obstacles. It completes the trilogy's list of dodge moves with the first game's Unnecessary Combat Roll and the second's Flash Step.
- Along with his ice powers, Sub-Zero from the Mortal Kombat series has a sliding kick among his arsenal of moves. It debuted in the first Mortal Kombat and appears across many other entries in the series. Later entries often justify it by him using his ice powers to freeze the ground beneath him as he slides.
- Most characters in the Battle Arena Toshinden series have a baseball-style slide move of some kind. While they're technically Slide Attack moves, most are so telegraphed and easy to dodge that it's tempting to use them as an evasive move instead.
- Dhalsim of Street Fighter II could slide by pressing Roundhouse Kick while ducking. While primarily a Slide Attack, it also allowed him to avoid enemy projectiles by sliding under them, something no other playable character could do. Vega's was similar, but not quite as low as Dhalsim's, meaning it couldn't avoid all projectiles, but it does go under some. Bison's slide, on the other hand, is a pure Slide Attack since he doesn't crouch at all while doing it.
- In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Mega Man and Joker have a sliding kick as tilt attacks, while Bayonetta has a sliding kick as a special move. Mega Man and Bayonetta also had these moves in the previous installment.
- The First-Person Shooter Bulletstorm has a dedicated slide maneuver that's much faster than crawling and great at evading enemy fire. With a little practice, it can help players get from one safe zone to the next with little danger, but it comes at the expense of being unable to use your weapon.
- Halo 5: Guardians: The Sprint function can be maneuvered into a slide for a brief increase in speed, at the cost of ending one's sprint. However, by ending the slide with a jump, one can immediately resume sprinting as soon as they land, then repeat the cycle to remain moving faster.
- In Paladins, Combat Slide is one of Lex's abilities. It's his main mobility move, pushing him forwards at high speeds even when used from standstill or going uphill. He can also shoot while sliding.
- Prey (2017) has a baseball-style slide, accessed by sprinting and crouching. This is about as fast but doesn't cost stamina.
- Sliding is an extremely important movement option in the Titanfall games, and by extension Apex Legends. You cover an incredible distance extremely quickly, and if you slide down a hill, you'll build enough speed to easily cross parts of the map.
- In Borderlands 3 the player characters can perform a slide maneuver that can be augmented by Relics so that it has secondary effects such as firing projectiles or leaving behind a trail of magma.
- In ULTRAKILL, the Killer Robot protagonist V1 can slide as one of their two options for fast movement, the other being Video Game Dashing. While V1 can slide indefinitely, sliding stops stamina regeneration.
- In Batman: Return of the Joker, Batman has a sliding move that's useful mostly for dodging projectiles. It's one of his quicker moves, but there's very little in the game that demands its use.
- A number of Castlevania games contain sliding abilities. Maria Renard in Rondo of Blood was the first character in the franchise with an innate sliding ability, and she (along with Richter Belmont) retained this ability in Symphony of the Night. Several subsequent entries in the franchise would also include a sliding ability, though many require the player to find an item in order to use it.
- In Drawn to Life, the player is able to slide down hills or slopes. Any enemy they run into on the way dies, and it also helps to get around a little faster.
- Spaz in Jazz Jackrabbit 2 has a special move called the Sidekick, which is a sliding maneuver. It's more of an attack than a defensive maneuver, but there's a pause before the move starts so care is necessary when trying to use it.
- In Kaiketsu Yanchamaru 3 — a Japan-only sequel to Kid Niki Radical Ninja — has a Technique Slide that can reach otherwise out-of-reach places.
- Since Kirby's Adventure, Kirby can perform a slide that damages common enemies but not bosses. Later games made the Stone ability able to slide on slopes, and changed the standard slide such that it makes Kirby trip and roll if used on slopes.
- Starting with Mega Man 3, the Mega Man (Classic) games have had a slide move, used mostly for dodging, getting through tight spaces, or speedrunning. While the Blue Bomber generally can't use the slide to attack enemies, Mega Man 5's Charge Kick requires Mega Man to slide in order to use the weapon — the only weapon in series history to do so.
- Sonic Advance gave the blue hedgehog a sliding move as a finisher for his three-hit attack chain. This was just for flavor, as the purpose of a sliding move was already filled by his Rolling Attack since the very beginning of the franchise.
- The Super Mario Bros. games have quite a few different examples:
- The original Super Mario Bros. has a rudimentary baseball slide — as Super Mario, you can get a running start and duck to slide through short gaps you couldn't otherwise pass through. (Small Mario has no slide move as none is necessary in that state.) This move has endured in some form throughout all subsequent 2D Mario games.
- Starting with Super Mario Bros. 3, Mario could slide down almost any hill or inclined surface, taking out whatever enemy happened to stand in his way. In some areas, he could even use his slide momentum to rocket through the air with a Slide Jump. Again, this move has persisted through all future 2D Mario games.
- In New Super Mario Bros. Wii and its direct sequel, New Super Mario Bros. U, the Penguin Suit allows Mario to slide along ice and water, attacking enemies and breaking blocks along the way. Also, the New Super Mario Bros series has augmented Mario's regular baseball slide with the ability to walk while crouching, to prevent Mario from getting stuck after a misjudged slide.
- In his 3D games starting with Super Mario 64, Mario has the Dive maneuver, also known as the Belly Slide. It works a bit differently from most sliding moves — Mario actually starts from a jump, flops onto the ground, and slides on his belly like a penguin. While fast, it takes some practice to master.
- The Wario Land spinoffs feature a different downhill slide. Wario will briefly slide, then curl up into a ball - breaking certain blocks and knocking away enemies - until he hits a solid surface.
- Tiny Toon Adventures for the Nintendo Entertainment System has a Baseball Slide and a Downhill Slide modeled after those found in Super Mario Bros. 3.
- In Warframe, all Warframes are able to slide along the ground by hitting the crouch button while in motion. This is useful for getting through small crevices to traverse the map more quickly or to cut the ending lag before a heavy landing. Certain mods can increase sliding speed and distance, and Nezha's passive ability, Frictionless, gives him a boost to sliding innately.
- Vanquish has a rocket-powered slide performed by hitting a button. It's the most useful move in your arsenal, as it's much faster and safer than running, you can shoot in Bullet Time while doing it, and if you collide with an enemy, you'll perform an extremely powerful melee attack. The only downside is that using it too much will cause you to overheat, leaving you completely vulnerable.
- Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle has a rare non-action-game example. Characters can slide into enemies and certain obstacles during movement by selecting an enemy before selecting your destination. Sliding deals damage to opponents, but it also is the only way to pass through enemies if they're completely blocking a path.