High Speed Intense Action & Waiting!: Auto Scrolling In Video Games

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Not much to break the pace than have the pace be defined by the slowest camera you’ve ever seen, I was kind of having fun before you know. The auto scrolling stage asks you to plod along slowly, inching towards each obstacle as you can only go as far as the camera allows. Cruel sounding as it may be, it’s usually worse as there might be off screen obstacles that can strike you within a moments notice. Perhaps you have to wait even longer because the next platform will drop after some time and you need to see ahead, invoking incessant crouching to the beat of the stage theme. God I hate the Airship Theme.

What possesses someone to put this into their game? One of the greatest joys of being able to run at your own pace is everything is at your pace, with the auto scroller you will be shuffling along instead waiting to progress and lamenting failure as it guarantees you will have to do it all again at speeds that would make a snail cringe. Don’t make snails cringe game developers, they got a tough enough life already.

Oh but there are some contrarians who decided that to solve the issue we should have auto scrolling stages that go really really fast, which then makes me rush or panic when I don’t know how to navigate what is ahead of me, often because the camera is hiding it away. Usually if I’m collecting extras in the levels I will happily kill myself getting it to spite the game, you rush me I’m just gonna look at you with haughty derision.

They come in many varieties beyond the speed, the most common is the sideways that is the most defining element of the airship stages in Super Mario Bros 3. Yeah they got cannons and flamethrowers and they bob up and down but I feel the most defining element is the god forsaken auto scrolling, I’m waiting most of the damn time. There are also vertical scrollers that have you climb upwards surprisingly enough, with an often added quirk of being allowed to go ahead of the camera, even though it only comes in handy if you know a stage perfectly….blind as well.

If the moving along at such a stilted rhythm provided a positive purpose I might not feel such disdain when I see it implemented. The level format exists entirely to pad out the game with arbitrary length, sorry this level can only be done in 3 minutes and no shorter because you can’t zoom ahead for reasons.

They invoke a survivalist mentality as you fear the hazards that you must spend extended amounts of time in front of, pushing ahead at the risk of being blindsided or play dodgeball with cannons and enemies roaming. If they really wanted to scratch that rail shooter itch with a camera movement like this I’d happily enjoy it in a separate game, they do not belong and are the bane of impatient players as well a speedrunners.

The moving stages in Smash Bros. that leave people behind if they aren’t keeping up or are left to die due to horrible jumping. The Maze in Ecco The Dolphin that goes at various speeds in various directions with fake outs, lasts for five god forsaken minutes and is where you go when you die against the boss. I even recall seeing a small game known as Kid Chameleon played by a friend, a level with giant drills slowly coming in on you ends in a two way split that is total guesswork, one being a dead end. I can’t fathom the reason why the developers insisted on being so mean.

All this is bad yes, however there is one little thing I almost forgot: Rubber Band Walls Of Death. Yeah if you go too far off the screen in these stages you might get killed by the following mass that justifies the camera speed. Oh wait I can get quite a bit far ahead as the camera moves with me, now I can….oh wait the lava just suddenly raised at incredible speed and slowed down again within a set distance of me. It is stalking you within a set distance so you always have the instant death hazard on your heels. Rubber banding AI is one thing as it is a sense of sudden improvement, this is a straightly played, visual demonstration of “magic lava”.

if you’ve never played a game with auto scrolling or don’t understand the problem, imagine reading this post where the next line pops up every 15 seconds. It’s so much fun I’m gonna go tell my therapist how great it is.

What games do you loathe the auto scrolling section? Are there any games where you think it was somewhere near the description of fun? What other pace controlling systems do you know of that ruin your fun? Thanks for the read and I’ll see you later.

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  1. #1 by cary on May 19, 2015 - 1:25 pm

    Just seeing that picture of the airship in Super Mario 3 makes me cringe with anger. I *hate* every single autoscrolling level in any Mario game…ever. Which would mostly be the platforming Mario games. When an autoscroll level first showed up in Super Mario 3D World, I almost called it quits. Whether the levels scroll up or sideways…nope, nope, and nope. Hate it all.

    Like

    • #2 by Prof.mcstevie on May 20, 2015 - 5:57 pm

      Nintendo sure does like to make a bunch of levels a slow plod to victory don’t they.

      Liked by 1 person

    • #3 by cary on May 21, 2015 - 11:34 am

      Indeed, and aggravatingly so.

      Like

  2. #4 by hutchwp on May 19, 2015 - 6:08 am

    Ha ha ha! Love the article!

    Like

  3. #6 by Cirsova on May 18, 2015 - 6:50 pm

    I hate scrolling levels. If there’s something going on on the back of the screen that’s going to kill you, like that one Wario Land level with the wave of lava moving across the level at a constant rate but you can go ahead as far as you want, that’s one thing, but being restricted from moving forward for no reason at all is the pits.

    Like

    • #7 by Prof.mcstevie on May 18, 2015 - 7:21 pm

      Recent game hunting reminded me of the first bonus world in Yoshis Island, a scrolling stage that goes slow, insta kill lava, lots of hazards and an awkwardly controlled ridable dog that can run faster than the damn screen if you aren’t careful. This is the FIRST bonus stage.

      Like

    • #8 by Cirsova on May 18, 2015 - 7:24 pm

      That’s… insane.
      I quit playing some PS1 megaman game that had some rocket ski wily fortress level that required incredibly precise timing on jumps. And being a megaman game, there weren’t any checkpoints. It was one of those games that just kinda makes you want to take out the disc and smash it.

      Like

    • #9 by Prof.mcstevie on May 18, 2015 - 7:43 pm

      From what I understand there are many auto scrolling levels in the Megaman X series that get on peoples nerves tremendously, it usually brings back nightmares of Battletoads for me personally.

      Like

    • #10 by Cirsova on May 18, 2015 - 7:51 pm

      Yeah, definitely shades of Battletoads. I remember that some of my friends used to joke that after the jetski level, Battletoads turned into a point & click adventure game followed by a sequence similar to Columns. And who were you to deny it? You never got past the jetskies, did you?!

      Like

    • #11 by Prof.mcstevie on May 18, 2015 - 10:29 pm

      Errrr…ye-yeah I played that, I got 4 lines in a row once but then the final boss came and talked about the save data I had on my er….memory card? Yeah suuure,

      Like

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