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When a player spawns into a level, many videogames expect you to go in a certain direction. In 2D games, this is generally to the right. In 3D games, this is in the direction your character starts out facing.

However, many games that involve collectables will occasionally throw you a curve. That is, if you go in the opposite direction, instead of a wall or an unmoving screen, you'll find a hidden item.

Note that this Trope only applies in situations where:

  1. It is at the beginning of a "level". That is, you just spawned in.
  2. There is a path that you are expected to take.
  3. There is a path that you could take, which leads to someplace that was not immediately visible which holds a useful item.

Sometimes it can even make the entire level easier to finish, making for an Easy Level Trick.

Related to Behind the Black. Not really an example of Guide Dang It; all it requires is going the other way. It can be one, however, if the game goes out of its way to convince you that going left is a bad idea yet is Unwinnable if you don't.

Examples of Offscreen Start Bonus include:

  • The Ur Example: Metroid 1, Super Metroid, and Zero Mission all put the Morph Ball off the left side of the screen. A required item; you'll either be Genre Savvy and find it immediately or you'll let your Mario instincts take over and you'll have to back-track for it two screens later. As a result, it acts as a tutorial to teach the player that they can move to the left.
  • The Lego Star Wars games loves to stick things behind the camera when you pop into a new zone.
  • I Wanna Be the Guy does this. In addition to the obvious route down and the slightly-less-obvious route up from the first screen, there's a hidden tunnel leading to the left. This being I Wanna Be The Guy, there is no indication that it's there at all, but the screen it leads to is easier than the other two.
    • There's also a tunnel going right, but it just leads you to a later point in the upper path so it's never necessary to use it.
  • Goldeneye in the Cradle level when you fight Trevelyan. You start off facing down a long narrow walkway, but if you circle around the tower behind you, there's some very useful body armor.
  • In the first space-station level of Duke Nukem 3D, if you go backwards you teleport into your ship, where there is hidden a rocket launcher.
  • In the second level in Time Splitters 3 you could pickup the flare gun the protagonist used in the opening cutscene if you checked the boat you came with.
  • In the old Apogee platformer Bio Menace, you start the first mission after being shot down over a city filled with menacing bio-monsters... if you go left from the start, you'll find your crashed aircraft, with a bunch of grenades and extra ammo ripe for the picking.
  • One of the clever things in Mega Man X 6 was the armor part in Infinity Mijinion's level. The player simply had to go left one screen at the starting point, where most stages didn't allow movement in that direction.
    • It was done in X2 as well, and it was particularly devious, since the life upgrade was to the left, up a wall, and hidden behind the foreground. Only skilled explorers need apply.
  • Doom 2, Chainsaw Good, first level.
  • The Donkey Kong Country games did this a lot.
    • One particularly hard stage in Donkey Kong Country can be skipped by going back into the cave you come out of at the beginning, which will transport you directly to the stage exit (but miss some secrets).
    • Another notable example is in the Rickety Race level in the second game. When you first land in the cart to start the race, logic tells you to go forward, lest you fall off the edge of the track. However, if you do go backwards as soon as the race starts, you eventually hit a booster that speeds you up significantly and makes the level quite a bit easier.
    • One level has an entire level section to the left of the starting point. At the end is the level's DK Coin.
    • Donkey Kong Country Returns absolutely loves this trope, with probably half of all the levels featuring a hidden alcove, usually hiding a puzzle piece or a plethora of bananas, to the left of where you begin.
  • Dawn of Mana had at least one stage that hid a bonus this way.
  • Kirby 64 has one Crystal Shard that appears on top of one of the areas you come out through in Dedede's Castle. Many items are also hidden behind the start of the level, usually being a star or food.
    • The Kirby series is fond of this; as early as Dreamland there was a part where you go through a door, and the only way to find that level's secret is to figure out that the door you're next to on the next screen ISN'T the one you just came through - the first was a one-way door, the other leads to the secret. D'oh!
  • This is extremely common in the first two Oddworld games, Abe's Oddysee and Abe's Exoddus. Very often there is a secret exit from the first screen of the level, which leads to hidden Mudokons.
  • A couple levels in Super Mario 64 had 1-Up Mushrooms or other power-ups right behind the starting point.
    • Happens frequently at the beginning (or end) of levels in Super Mario Bros. 3 with hidden 1-Up blocks, although those were generally hidden above the start point.
    • Whacka is hidden far northwest of the start point of the fifth chapter in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, whereas the player is clearly expected to go a short distance east and out of the screen to continue.
    • Yoshis Island, Sluggy the Unshaven's Fort. Heading left at the start would put you in a seemingly pointless room with a single Chain Chomp, the only one of it's kind in the game; using a Pow Block to defeat it would unlock a cheat allowing you to play the Bandit battle mini games directly from the world select screen.
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2 has one at the beginning of the final Bowser stage, having you go left, then climb a pole to find a Life Mushroom.
  • In Tomb Raider 3, there's a shotgun obtainable right from the start, so long as instead of sliding down the ramp from the get-go, you move to the right to line yourself up, then jump into some vines that don't appear traversable.
  • MDK has a health pack. It's even the super-charging variety, the kind that sprouts legs and runs away screaming, and it's trapped in a corner.
  • Akuji: the Heartless.
  • James Pond 2: Codename Robocod. The first exit is found either four levels to the right, or two seconds' travel to the left.
    • The first level of James Pond 2 has an extra life just to the left of where you start, but the screen doesn't scroll there until you reach the edge.
  • Happens a few times in the Crash Bandicoot series, items will be placed directly behind the starting point.
  • The first Track Mania game has a level that can be cleared in 3 seconds if you hit the reverse.
  • Wizards and Warriors: Fortress of Fear for the Game Boy had on on its first level.
  • It isn't intentional, but if you immediately slide left when Castlevania: Symphony of the Night starts, you can access a secret deleted area and increase your map percentage.
    • Speaking of Castlevania, in Curse of Darkness, right as the game starts, if you go all the way backwards, you come across an area with a few potions and, if you have a Lament of Innocence save file in your memory card, a statue head that restores all your health when used.
  • An extremely plot-important character in Astro Boy Omega Factor is hidden to the left at the start of one area.
    • Another one is hidden several screens upwards, in an otherwise ordinary looking area. Making things even more confusing, this happens only when you visit said area a second time (the first time around, there's an invisible wall).
  • In The Force Unleashed, levels often hide hidden items behind your starship after you land.
    • If you go inside your ship in certain levels of Bounty Hunter and Shadows of the Empire, you're also able to get a few more rounds of ammo. Same in one of the Jedi Knight games at one point, if I remember correctly.
      • Specifically in the Hoth level of Jedi Academy. You're supposed to follow some light beacons only barely visible in the fog after you land, but if you go in the opposite direction, you'll find a small cave behind your Z-95 with some items. And an angry wampa.
  • The first fortress level in Mega Man 4 has a hidden E-tank to the left of the starting point.
  • In one level in Serious Sam, there is an open door behind you that leads to a secret area with powerful weapons. However, the door starts closing the moment you spawn so you must run backwards immediately to get through the door. The courtyard is shown to be empty in the cutscene of the previous level, and it is unreachable in Co-op games.
    • First level of the first game, instead of going IN the temple, you can backtrack in the desert for some bonuses scattered around a palm tree. There are also a few other secrets before that.
    • First level of the second game, instead of going along the valley, turning back gives you some items and a secret phone booth. Additionally going down gives you the rocket launcher.
  • This happens a lot with collectibles in the 2009 version of Bionic Commando. Helpful hint: before moving, always rotate the screen alllll the way around.
  • The Turbo Grafx flagship series Bonk liked to this on the very first level and usually at least one later level, every game.
  • Turbo Esprit on the ZX Spectrum gives you a city to drive around in, hunting down color-coded cars worth various amounts of points. You start on one of the main streets and if you go forward, nothing happens. If you put the car into reverse, one of the highest-scoring cars will spawn behind you and overtake you.
  • This is done often enough in Loco Roco and its sequel that it's usually to your benefit to backtrack a little ways from the starting point just to check.
  • Indiana Jones and The Staff of Kings has a collectible hidden this way in the very first level. Just turn around and follow the path.
  • Severance: Blade of Darkness has at least one example of this, in the Forge of Xshathra level you can get a healing potion if you go back where your character was shown to have come from in the introductory cutscene (the area turns out to be a dead end corridor with a skeleton in it).
  • The second stage of the first Viewtiful Joe game uses and subverts this; if you go left instead of right, you'll encounter a whole bunch of enemies, right at the beginning when you don't have any film canisters or hearts. But, beating them all gets you a ton of points, so it's definitely a bonus if you can live through the fight.
  • Gish has a few secrets hidden in that way. In the first level, going straightly left will reveal a hidden room with some treasure. In world 1-4, quickly going left will lead you to a warp zone which takes you to the world 4-3.
  • In the Play Station 2/Wii/PSP version of the Iron Man video game, you can destroy stockpiles of Stark Industries crates to unlock bonus content. In one level, one of these stockpiles is hidden in an area behind where you spawn in.
  • Wolfenstein 3D, level 2. If you turn around you find a series of doors holding treasures until the last door, which holds an irate Nazi. Bizarre as you usually spawn near the elevator. Might be specific to a re-release.
  • Super Demo World: The Legend Continues, a ROM Hack of Super Mario World, has a level (Sky World 3) where the secret exit can only be reached by entering the level with a cape and flying over the gap to the left of the starting platform.
    • Super Demo World also has one level where the only way to get to the secret goal is to turn back left and go back in the pipe you just came out of. This will lead you to an area that is completely identical, except the regular goal is replaced with a secret goal and the pipe you spawn from can't be re-entered.
  • Super Monkey Ball has Beginner 2 and Advanced 6, both of which have V-shaped guardrail with a tiny ramp in the middle leading up and over the ramp, directly behind the starting point. Directly underneath the ramp is a small platform with a secret goal that gives you a big score bonus and warps you to the next bonus level (Beginner 5 or Advanced 10).
  • Sonic Unleashed Wii/Playstation 2 uses this for unlockable pictures/sounds/etc. at least once.
    • In the Emerald Coast stage from Adventure, there are a few ring monitors right behind the beginning of the stage.
    • In the Game Gear version of Sonic 1, going left at Bridge Zone Act 3 will show you a 1UP. Too bad in this one they only appear once and don't re-appear when you die...
    • There's also an Invincibility monitor right behind you in Mushroom Hill Zone Act 1 of Sonic and Knuckles.
    • Also happens in Sonic Colors. One of the levels in Aquarium Park features a Red Ring that can only be reached by going the "wrong" direction at the start of the level.
    • In Sonic Adventure 2, in Cannon's Core, if you move up the ramp Sonic spawns on, fighting the current with homing attacks, then you will be rewarded with jumping immediately into the semi-final boss.
  • In No More Heroes, you start each level leaving this motel. The hidden path behind the motel has a bunch of Lovikov balls that can be traded for power ups.
  • One of the animal orbs in Castle Crashers can only be found after proceeding forward into a cave (seemingly starting the next level) and then walking back outside the cave to where you once were.
  • Limbo has an achievement called "Wrong Way" for walking offscreen to the left as soon as the game starts.
  • Aladdin Virgin Games for the Sega Genesis, in the desert and prison levels.
    • In computer versions, the Mickey hat Easter Egg in the desert required you to go back to the start of the level to pick up the 1-up.
  • In the Fan Remake of Streets of Rage, called Streets of Rage Remake, this trope also rears its head. On the rooftop stage where you fight the jetpack dudes, there is a 1-up (extra life) to the left of the screen, just behind the lorry engine.
  • In Vay, if you go behind one of the curtains in the throne room where you start, you'll find a trio of treasure chests contains 1500 gold pieces, a Broad Sword (a powerful early starting weapon for The Hero Sandor), and a Phoenix Heart (an item that completely restores one's HP, or can be sold for a hefty sum).
  • Two worlds in Vexx--The Neverglades and the final level--get crafty with the Wraithheart hiding. Although your first instinct in both cases is to proceed forward from the start point, The Neverglades has a cave hidden behind the entry gate that holds some extra lives and a Wraithheart puzzle, while the final stage has two hidden areas directly behind it (one of which is the entry to the castle the level takes place in).
  • Final Fantasy XIII likes to teleport you into an area after a cutscene, with a hallway behind you that you supposedly just came through. Backtracking will often get you a treasure sphere. Lampshaded at least once when, if you backtrack, a secondary party member says "Hey! Where are you going!?"
  • Crisis Core has a few of these in the missions, either hiding directly behind you or in a room backwards of where you start. Players may get used to twirling the camera at the start of each mission.
  • While it doesn't have "levels" per se, the fixed camera in God of War likes pointing you down corridors just as much as the level designers like putting stuff underneath the camera, just out of sight until you run up to it.
  • In Dark Colony there is a mission where moving the troops through the main path ends in heavy Martian opposition, while following an inconspicuous side path lets you easily bypass most enemies.
  • The second mission in 1998's Sin (if the previous mission succeeded) starts with the player character standing in a hallway in a bank after rappelling down from the roof. Most players will look around before moving forward through the linear path up to the main offices (wherein the level becomes more open) - however, if you turn around at the beginning of the level and walk back, you can access an ATM that (once you get the code later in the level) allows you to transfer millions of dollars from Big Bad Elexis Sinclaire's bank account to Blade's in a cool Easter Egg.
  • For whatever reason, it was common in Knights of the Old Republic to have lootable crates scattered around the Ebon Hawk's various landing zones through the game. They typically didn't have anything all that valuable, but it was always worth your while to look.
  • Gears of War 3 starts in Marcus' cabin, facing the door. Turning and looking at the desk instead of the door will reveal the campaign's first collectible--the $20 Dom owes Marcus from a bet he lost before the war.
  • Rayman Origins likes to hide small groupings of Lums and hearts near the starting areas. Not only do you have to go left, you also typically need to wall jump.
  • Several levels in Trine have a small ledge just above the starting point, with an experience vial or two.
  • There's one in the second-to-last level of Kid Icarus: Uprising, and if you go for it you trigger an extra bit of dialogue in which this trope is actually discussed. It leads to one of the Zodiak Chambers, and afterwards you get an explaination of what Zodiak Chambers actually are. Which is weird, because given how late you are in the game, the average player will have already discovered several by now.
    • Another late-game Zodiak Chamber requires you to backtrack across the grind rail you used to enter the area, which would seem counter-intuitive to most players.