Vertically scrolling video game

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A vertically scrolling video game or vertical scroller is a video game in which the player views the field of play principally from a top-down perspective, while the background scrolls from the top of the screen to the bottom (or, rarely, from the bottom to the top) to create the illusion that the player character is moving in the game world.[1] Like side-scrolling video games, vertical scrollers may employ parallax scrolling for a more realistic simulation of motion.

Continuous vertical scrolling is designed to suggest the appearance of constant forward motion, such as flight. In such games, the game sets a pace for play, and the player must react quickly to the changing environment.

Vertical scrolling is common in the shoot 'em up subgenre of action games. It is also sometimes employed in racing video games with 2D graphics.

The vertical scroller as a genre materialized in the mid-1970s. Perhaps the first vertical scroller was Hi-way (1975), a racing video game developed by Atari, Inc. for amusement arcades. Hi-way was also the first Atari arcade game constructed with a "cockpit-style" cabinet.

Caverns of Mars for the Atari 8-bit computers was a popular vertically scrolling shooter released in 1981.

Activision's River Raid (1982) for the Atari 2600 video game console helped to establish the "vertical shooter" subgenre.[2] River Raid succeeded two other vertical scrollers developed by Activision for the Atari 2600: Sky Jinks (1982) and Skiing (1980).

In the early 1980s there was sub-genre of games where the player character struggles up a mountain or skyscraper. Examples include Alpiner (1982), Crazy Climber (1982), and Spider-Man (1982).

Bottom-to-top scrollers[edit]

Most of the first bottom-to-top scrolling video games are alpine skiing simulations. The first of these was Alpine Skiing!, which Magnavox published in 1979 for their Odyssey² game console. Alpine Skiing! has three modes of play for one or two players: Downhill, slalom, and giant slalom.[3]

In 1980, the same year Activision published Skiing, Bob Whitehead's slalom skiing simulation for the Atari 2600, Mattel published a different slalom game, also called Skiing, for their Intellivision console. This game was developed by APh Technological Consulting; Mattel sought to differentiate it in the market by paying for the use of the United States Ski Team logo on the game's packaging.

In 1981, Taito published Alpine Ski, a more technologically sophisticated arcade game that offered players three modes of play: An alpine ski course with various obstacles; a slalom course; and a ski jumping ramp.

One early non-skiing title is S-Racer (1980), a text mode racing game for the Commodore PET. In this game, the player steers an object slowly through a single winding race track. Depending on the player's skill, the race can be completed in about 30 seconds. Since the PET has a monochrome monitor, the game's color scheme is limited to green on black.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lecky-Thompson, Guy W. (2007). Video Game Design Revealed. Boston: Charles River Media. p. 258. ISBN 9781584505624. OCLC 176925220. 
  2. ^ Bogost, Ian; Montfort, Nick (2009). Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System. Cambridge: MIT Press. p. 6. ISBN 9780262012577. OCLC 233798827. 
  3. ^ "High Tech / High Touch". Skiing (CBS Magazines) 36 (4): 98. 1983. ISSN 0037-6264. OCLC 320541702. Retrieved 22 May 2013.