Becoming one of the vaunted few dirtbags on an episode featuring one of my favourite recurring guests, Matthew “Dirtbag Destroyer” Kumar, only for him to admit I’d got his number, and then skillfully used the word frisson, means I can die happy.
“Escape from the big dramatic screenfilling danger coming from the left side of the screen” is an interesting choice for mention of a good autoscroller, not necessarily because I hadn’t thought of it as some clever use of the trope before, but because for whatever reason I hadn’t really thought of those as autoscrolling sections at all. One of those situations where a good execution of something is, I guess, good because you don’t really notice it is what it is. The imminent sense of danger takes you have something to be preoccupied with besides waiting around for the game to happen, and maybe in the best executions the autoscrolling allows you to focus on maneuvering through smaller scale obstacles without having to worry about larger scale navigation, you don’t need to worry about going the wrong way because the only wrong way is into the mouth of a giant werewolf and that’s pretty obvious.
Another good autoscroller enhancer that Matthew Kumar brought up is ones that give you a real sense of speed, and makes you forget that your movement is in actuality being restricted. Inspired by the results of our recent Video and Game Poll and from listening to the old Genesis GOAT episode, I treated myself to a quick and extremely gratifying playthrough of Gunstar Heroes. The autoscrolling mine level with the cool weird gravity cart and the cool weird morphing boss with all sorts of different forms is as boring as it gets environmentally, but it’s exciting anyway, because of the sense of speed you get from the Genesis’ mindblowing Blast Processing™.
I can’t think of too many applications of auto-scrollers in 3D games, but one application or at least a closely related trope is the elevator gauntlet. God of War (2018) has a really excellent and exciting one with a lot of exhilarating cinematic twists.
For an unorthodox interpretation of what an autoscrolling section is, I also thought of stuff where movement is restricted entirely in something like a JRPG and battles just get brought to you. Chrono Trigger has a few that are kind of frustating, one is also an elevator gauntlet on an actual elevator, but I have to give a special shotout to the postgame area Geno Dome, which is a fantastic spot to powerlevel because it brings high XP and AP battles to you automatically and you can just spam Luminaire.