What are your favorite ways games have ended levels?

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Marscaleb
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What are your favorite ways games have ended levels?

Post by Marscaleb » Wed Dec 18, 2019 11:43 pm

I'm just kinda wondering what responses people might have to this question.
What are some of your favorite ways that a game has presented a "level goal" to the player?

To clarify what I'm talking about, the most well-known examples:
In the original Super Mario Bros (And in any Mario game this century) to end a level you jumped on a flag pole and lowered a flag. In Mario 2 you picked up an orb and made a giant bird head open its mouth and walked in said mouth. In Mario 3 the whole background turned black with this triangle border and you touched a block that gave you a card.

Some games had a lot of character to how the end of the level was conveyed/executed to the player. Some games kept it simple with just having the player walk offscreen after passing some sign that said exit.

Personally, I have always favored the games that showed creativity and originality. Mario 3 and Super Mario World may be my favorites because they were very unique, but also offered bonus rewards for some skillful tricks when you clear the level. You get bonuses for having enemies or items on the screen when you hit the goal; in Mario 3 you can get more lives every three levels with correct timing, or in SMW getting correct timing AND enough height earns you more stars to reach that bonus level, with enough skill you could theoretically get it every two levels.

Second to them would be the Mega Man games; something about jumping through those gates was fun, and that hallways to prepare yourself before a boss fight is just such a good idea both mechanically and emotionally. And especially in the first 3 Mega Man X games; with the way the door shut behind you with that dramatic sound cue, oh man you knew that s*** was about to go down.

Third favorite goes to Duke Nukem 3D. Not really for the level end itself (though it was pretty cool to smash a self-destruct button within an iconic symbol) but mostly because each level ended with where the next level started. (Or vice versa, really.) It wasn't exactly the same like the game just paused a moment to load, but there was a distinct connection where you can generally tell how you got here from there. Each level still felt individual and unique as opposed to being one continuous world, (like with Half life or Unreal,) but you still got that connection between the levels that made the experience feel connected. For a game of its style in that era, that just wasn't done, and I always loved that touch.

But those are just my opinions. What about you folks? What are your favorite ways a game has ended its levels?

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tokumaru
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Re: What are your favorite ways games have ended levels?

Post by tokumaru » Thu Dec 19, 2019 12:28 am

Being the huge Sonic fan that I am, I can't pass the opportunity of mentioning Sonic 3 (& Knuckles) on the Genesis: When you touch the end-of-level sign you can hit it from below and have it bounce around and give you items depending on where it lands. Then the game counts all your points and such, and the next Act of the same Zone starts right away, as if the two levels were connected back to back (they're not, the maps are stored separately in the ROM), making the game world feel larger than it really is. The game also has transition animations between Zones, to help make the switch from one type of environment to another more believable.

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Re: What are your favorite ways games have ended levels?

Post by calima » Thu Dec 19, 2019 2:30 am

I like the continuity too. Dead Space's elevators come to mind.

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Re: What are your favorite ways games have ended levels?

Post by gauauu » Thu Dec 19, 2019 8:09 am

I like games that let you control your character and "show off" a bit while the level-ending sequence is happening. In Ninja Gaiden 1, we'd always try to see how far up the wall you could wall jump before it finished the ending sequence. Yars Revenge on the Atari was fun to fly and dance around the explosions when you kill the Qotile.

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Marscaleb
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Re: What are your favorite ways games have ended levels?

Post by Marscaleb » Thu Dec 19, 2019 7:11 pm

gauauu wrote:
Thu Dec 19, 2019 8:09 am
I like games that let you control your character and "show off" a bit while the level-ending sequence is happening. In Ninja Gaiden 1, we'd always try to see how far up the wall you could wall jump before it finished the ending sequence. Yars Revenge on the Atari was fun to fly and dance around the explosions when you kill the Qotile.
This reminds me of how I'd always try to "Strike a pose" in most Castlevania games when I pick up the orb after beating a boss, so I'd look really cool when the image freezes while they show my score.

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Re: What are your favorite ways games have ended levels?

Post by strat » Thu Dec 19, 2019 9:10 pm

That's especially fun to do with the backflip in Rondo of Blood.

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Re: What are your favorite ways games have ended levels?

Post by Pokun » Fri Dec 20, 2019 3:56 pm

Yeah and in Super Castlevania IV you can jump up and make a very impressive pose with the whip if you time the button right.

I agree with OP that Mario games are probably the best examples by using flagpoles, slot machines or actual goal posts with finishing tape as in SMW. Super Mario Land has normal doorways but they make a point of it by having the higher one (which you usually only have one chance to get to) of the two allowing for a bonus game. SML2 does something similar by touching a bell to enable the bonus game.

For other games I like Rainbow Islands where you end with a treasure chest with lots of goodies in. In Alex Kidd you satisfyingly end a level on an onigiri, and in Joe & Mac (original arcade game) you get a reward that satisfies another primal need.

The most common type of level finish though is probably to just end the level soon after the winning condition has been fulfilled. Like defeating all enemies, defeating the boss (possibly even if underlings are still standing like in Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-kun arcade version), Pacman eating all dots or Donkey Kong Jr reaching the key etc. I guess the flagpole and other goal marks in Mario games could be said to be evolved from the key or Pauline in earlier Mario/Kong games. When the winning condition was just to get from point A to B on a much larger level, there still had to be something that marks the end. Using a flagpole with a type of minigame (getting more points the higher up you jump) was an excellent idea I think.

The creative goals used in Mario games kind of requires that the game recognizes itself as a game (especially a platform game). A realistic game that avoids breaking the fourth wall as much as possible might look weird if you need to jump on a flag at the end.

If I make a somewhat abstract platform game or similar I would definitely include some kind of goal marker and possibly a mini game like in Mario and Sonic games, and some kind of intermission/cutscene.

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Re: What are your favorite ways games have ended levels?

Post by pubby » Sat Dec 21, 2019 4:35 am

Bubble Bobble does a clever trick of animating the character moving between levels. It's not just for show though. It guides the player where to look at the start of the level.

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Re: What are your favorite ways games have ended levels?

Post by Pokun » Sun Dec 29, 2019 4:23 pm

Ah yeah that's an important thing to do, it shows both the starting positions of both players and all enemies while the game is briefly frozen. In Shinnyuushain Tooru-kun the same thing is done by flashing Tooru-kun's suit while the game is frozen for a while after entering a new room. You enter rooms from various directions so this gives time for the player to see which character is Tooru-kun.


I just remembered another excellent example of a goal! Marvel Land has this huge target board that you have to jump through at the end of normal levels. Kind of like the flagpole but instead of getting more points the higher you jump, you get more points the closer to the bullseye in the middle you get.

Reminds me of DKC2 which also has a target board, although it's really more of a strongman machine. DKC3 actually has a flagpole kind of like SMB.

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Re: What are your favorite ways games have ended levels?

Post by Bananmos » Tue Dec 31, 2019 9:35 am

I can't help to think of the Megaman series...

First game had you pick up an energy tank to play the end fanfare and supposedly acquire the robot master's powerup(?) This explanation of always felt a bit redundant to me compared to MM2's more minimalistic victory fanfare followed by a teleport - no need to have that item that you can't choose NOT to pick up anyway. The freezing of the character in MM1 also felt a bit unsatisfying in comparison to MM2.

I think with Megaman3 they also added back a need-to-point-out-how-Megaman-acquires-the-new-weapon, by absorbing the robot master's explosion. While it's a neat visual cutscene, it always felt like a bit of an anticlimax that slowed down the high after the victory fanfare.

So sometimes less is more. While MM1 / MM2 are both my favorite entries in the series, I think in many ways MM2 perfected the game formula while later games really struggled to bring any mew excitement to the series. And the robot master victory sequence really exemplifies that as well. :)

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Re: What are your favorite ways games have ended levels?

Post by Pokun » Tue Dec 31, 2019 11:05 am

Yeah I also think the orb is supposed to be the weapon module of the robot (rather than an energy tank) which is then installed to or copied by the variable tool/weapon system. But I think it makes more sense to show how he gets it and the first game is only game that seems to do this way (I just wished they showed in the menu the new weapon refilling when collecting it to confirm it).
Absorbing their "soul" feels kind of weird for a robot, but it goes well with how other things works in the series (Rockman X installs new parts from a capsule in a kind of energy beam way rather than a physical installation of parts or wire connections, and also the teleportation that all robots can do transforms you into a fluid energy beam). I think MM3 perfected the series with sliding, Rush and more challenges (MM2 is a bit too easy), it kind of goes downhill from there though. MMX perfected the X formula mostly, I just wish Zero was playable.

The crystal orb in Castlevania feels more redundant since it seems that it serves no purpose in most games. It's usually said that it recovers life energy, but recovering life between levels is normal, there is no need for an item to do this. It would make sense if it was some kind of crystallization of the enemy's soul or something that is sealed or used by the Belmonts in some way to increase their power, but in most games it does really nothing but ending the level.

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Re: What are your favorite ways games have ended levels?

Post by tepples » Tue Dec 31, 2019 11:04 pm

Boss battles in Super Mario Bros. 3 have the same conceit as those in the first Mega Man. Wandering Hammer Bros. drop chest, Boom Boom drops :?:, Koopalings drop wand. Likewise in Super Mario 64, where most bosses drop Power Stars, except for the first two Bowser encounters that drop a castle key.

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Re: What are your favorite ways games have ended levels?

Post by Pokun » Wed Jan 01, 2020 4:59 am

Yeah and they are all basically spoils of war. The ?-ball you get from Boom-Boom I've always thought of as the key that unlocks the paths blocked by the fortress (keyhole tiles and the fortress tile itself). Mechanically they all have the effect of a level ender object.

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Re: What are your favorite ways games have ended levels?

Post by TmEE » Wed Jan 01, 2020 8:14 am

Ristar has a swinging mechanic used throughout the game to reach high places and whatnot and it is used at end of the stages to gain additional bonus that increases with height of going off screen.

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Re: What are your favorite ways games have ended levels?

Post by rainwarrior » Thu Jan 02, 2020 11:23 am

Surprised nobody's mentioned Kirby's dance.

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