Rail shooter

From Academic Kids

A rail shooter or on-rails shooter is a specific form of game play in an action-based video game. In a rail shooter the player control is limited to directing where to fire a virtual gun; the player does not have control over the ultimate path their avatar takes from the start to the end. The player's viewpoint moves as dictated by the game. It is commonly viewed as the player being tied to a rail, similar to a roller coaster. Although the strictest definition of rail shooter includes genres such as a scrolling shooter and lightgun game such as Operation Wolf, in practice the term is used mostly to describe games that don't fall within those two genres.

Usually the player's sole defense against enemy attacks in the game is shooting the enemy first. Enemy projectile attacks such as missiles or thrown knives usually move slow enough for the player to destroy or deflect in midair with a shot. Input from the player may come in the form of aiming a toy gun or moving a joystick. The toy gun versions may detect the player's aim by synchronizing to the refresh rate of the screen (light guns), or attaching the gun to a movable base that measures rotation. Modern arcade games are more likely to use specialized guns. Silent Scope, a sniping arcade game, features a small screen in the eyepiece of the toy rifle. The player uses the main screen to locate targets and the magnified view in the eyepiece to line up shots.

Rail shooters can be played from a first person perspective (Time Crisis, Silent Scope) or third person perspective (Rez, Panzer Dragoon), but first person is more common.

Some rail shooters move players along a generally continuous path, others pause the player at a particular location until all enemies are defeated.

Early rail shooters include Space Harrier and Lethal Enforcers. Motion in early rail shooters was often simply left and right. Some rail shooters display enemy targets against prerendered video backgrounds, this includes games like Area 51; others, like the Virtua Cop series, use 3D graphics. Modern rail shooters move the player's viewport in three dimensions; these include shooters such as Panzer Dragoon Orta.

Very early games in the style did not move the viewpoint at all and would typically not be termed rail shooters, but they are clear predecessors.

Like all game play styles lines are not strict. Many first person shooters feature brief rail shooter scenes in which the player's avatar mans vehicle mounted weaponry while the game controls the vehicle. Some rail shooters (notably the Time Crisis series) allow the player to control a single aspect of motion: the ability to hide behind a barrier.

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