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A video game level where you have to keep ascending to avoid a hazard that rises from below the screen.

The hazard may be water (due to Super Drowning Skills), a rising Lava Pit (with Convection Shmonvection, naturally), toxic waste, or anything else that will injure or kill you if you fall in.

May overlap with Auto Scrolling Levels.

Compare Down the Drain and Outrun the Fireball. The reverse is Descending Ceiling. Sideways you get an Indy Escape or Advancing Wall of Doom. See also Lift of Doom where the rising threat is solid rather than fluid. A form of Escape Sequence.

Examples of Rise to the Challenge include:
  • Psychonauts. Probably qualifies as justified due to Raz's family curse.
    • "The Meat Circus", which features the rising water level, is frustrating. This is mainly due to the game engine's inability to deal with the precision platforming being demanded.
  • Jak and Daxter had levels flooding with toxic Dark Eco.
  • "Slime Climb" in Donkey Kong Country 2 is like this, except that since the DKC series doesn't feature Super Drowning Skills, the actual reason the player has to avoid the water is the Invincible Minor Minion piranha lurking in it.
  • Rayman 2: The Great Escape also employed the piranha justification.
    • Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc did this with lava.
    • The original Rayman had a jungle level and a mountain level with plain old regular water that was rising, but there was also a mountain level where the hero was trapped between slowly descending water and a quicker Descending Ceiling. The idea was to use Rayman's hair-helicopter to cut through ropes tied to this ceiling so the weights attached to the ceiling would drop into the water, and the ceiling would stop descending before it pressed Rayman into the water and drowned him.
  • Sonic Heroes did this with "energy."
    • Sonic the Hedgehog 2 had a twist on this in Chemical Plant Zone. Mega Mack doesn't instantly kill Sonic, but Sonic can't breathe in it, so the further up you go, the worse it is when you fall, to the point where falling to places you could once survive is now your doom.
    • Hill Top Zone, in addition to rising floors, also had rising lava.
    • The infamous Labyrinth Zone "boss" for the original Sonic the Hedgehog game was nothing more than you chasing Robotnik up one of these, water rising behind you with no air bubbles to save you if you lag behind. And lag you will, as the way is also lined with retracting spikes and fireball-throwing gargoyles. The game does show some mercy, however, as once you reach the top, Robotnik runs away, leaving Sonic to hit the end-of-zone animal cage and head for Star Light Zone. You ARE able to defeat him if you're good, though.
    • Near the end of Knuckles' version of Launch Base Zone, from Sonic 3 & Knuckles, the water level rises, and you have to rush to avoid drowning.
    • Sonic & Knuckles has an interesting twist on this concept. In Sandopolis Act 2, there is a section where you must climb your way to the top quickly, lest you get crushed by rising sand (which acts as a solid surface for no explained reason). The twist is that the source of the sand is plugged up, until you bust it open yourself. You must do so, however, because it's impossible to reach the ledges above without the rising sand.
    • Sonic Advance 3 has the boss for the Twinkle Snow Zone, which combines this with Platform Battle for extra frustration.
  • Mega Man X often does this with magma.
    • A segment of Flame Stag's stage in X2 immediately comes to mind.
    • And the ending of X3.
    • Blaze Heatnix's area in X6 combines this with yet another battle against a hovering donut-shaped miniboss, which you end up having to fight about four or five times throughout the entire stage.
    • X8 did this both ways (I mean up and down!) with fire.
    • Predates the X series, and inverted all the way back in Mega Man 2 with Quick Man's infamous laser death trap.
  • Comix Zone inverted this. The Big Bad set the comic book page on fire, and you had to race downward.
  • The Brinstar (acid) and Norfair (lava) stages in the Super Smash Bros games. Norfair also includes giant waves of lava from the sides and background. It's ironic because Brinstar in the Metroid games is of course an Underground Level that doesn't involve this at all, though Norfair does have lava.
    • In the original Metroid, Brinstar did have acid lakes. Super Metroid, on the other hand, did not have them.
  • In Marathon 2: Durandal the fourth mission has you plunge down a lengthy pit and locate and destroy some controls in a geothermal power plant. Natrually the result is that the place is flooded with lava, so you're 'encouraged' to make best speed heading up and out.
  • In most Worms games, after the round timer expires the land often begins to slowly sink into the water.
  • In The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker, you have to climb a spiraling ramp around the inside of a tower, avoiding both rising water and the Helmaroc King. You fight him when you get to the roof.
  • On the NES, Ninja Gaiden 3. Oh god, Ninja Gaiden 3.
  • Conkers Bad Fur Day offers an interesting take: One level features a large cylinder that suddenly starts to fill up with water, which wouldn't be a problem if not for the loose wires that seem to be hanging out of the walls, which instantly electrify the water on contact. To advance, the player needs to make it to a safe spot and cut the wires to make the water safe to swim in again, then get to another safe spot before the water rises enough to touch another wire, and repeat the process. Exactly how cutting off exposed wires prevents them from electrifying the water is not explained.
    • Notably, this is one of the most difficult levels in the entire game, because there is a wire right behind the first Context Sensitive Button which many players have difficulty to spot in the first playthrough, so they may think they're safe with cutting down the wires ahead of them, but as they try to get across to the next platform... the water zaps them to death. All because of that tricky wire right behind you.
    • Also, later in the game, you have to outrun toxic waste while hurdling small pools of the same substance.
  • A few levels in New Super Mario Bros.
    • There's a code that enables "Challenge Mode". When used on side-scrolling stages, it disables scrolling left, making the experience more like the first Super Mario Bros game (as well as allowing you to occasionally get into an Unwinnable situation). In vertical-scrolling stages however, it turns falling off the bottom of the screen at any time into an instant death, making those vertically-scrolling stages into Rise To The Challenge levels that move at your own pace.
  • Super Meat Boy: Levels: 7-13 and 7-13X (Rising liquid), 7-6X (Walls disappear) and 7-20X (Ceiling of sawblades)
  • There is a lava one in Super Mario Galaxy, too. It's technically because of the ground sinking instead of the lava rising, but functionally it plays like any regular example. Then, you have to redo it with only one HP...
    • There is another that is somewhere between this and Descending Ceiling. Mario is upside down to the player so it is hard to say whether the sand is the floor or the ceiling.
  • The entire gameplay gimmick of The Killing Game Show, otherwise known as Fatal Rewind.
  • The early Castlevania games loved this trope:
  • Kid Icarus has all of the climbing levels (2/3 of the game) do this --- falling off the bottom of the screen causes your death. Even if there would be a platform an inch below the screen.
  • Ice Climber on the NES did this rather lamely: the screen scrolled up as you climbed, and no matter what might have been below that floor before, if you fall off the screen you die.
    • The same goes for the Ice Climber themed stage in Super Smash Bros. Melee. In this case it's more like the other ones because it's auto-scrolling rather than only scrolling up as you climb (though climbing makes it go faster), but the frame of reference still determines where you die. Sometimes, just to confuse the player, the scrolling reverses, and you have to descend for your life. Not many people like to play on these levels.
    • Brawl replaced it with a merely rising Rumble Falls. But since it only goes up it has not received the hatred Icicle Mountain did.
  • One of the bosses in the Metal Slug series obliged you to dodge its various shots, outclimb it, and shoot it until it dies.
    • The Slug you get at the beginning is almost totally useless as well: not only can you not press jump and shoot at the same time or the slug explodes, but the speed is only fractionally faster than that of the boss, which means you have to constantly jump to avoid death.
      • You know, it only takes a moment to switch from one button to the other.
    • In the Hunt, a Shoot'Em Up game created by some of the staff who later on started the Metal Slug series, also has one: a living statue that chases you up a sea ruin.
    • Also, there's a level in the first game where you have to go up. The screen doesn't scroll automatically, but since the game doesn't allow you to backtrack, any piece of soil that was left behind gives way to Bottomless Pits.
  • The final boss battle of the first Sly Cooper game has a phase in which you must climb up a tower that's sinking in lava in order to reach the boss.
  • Mickey Mania, a video game in which you play through the settings of several classic Mickey Mouse cartoons, featured a memorable stage near the end (in the Prince and the Pauper world) with groundbreaking special effects in which you race up a spiral staircase to escape rising flames. (Why you're trying to get to the top of a tower while the rest of the building is on fire is anyone's guess.)
    • The first Prince and the Pauper stage also has rising fire in what may well be the most rapidly-rising non-cutscene instance of ths trope.
  • In another Mickey Mouse game, Disney Epic Mickey, one of the later stages has Mickey in a scene from Fantasia trying to outpace a rising flood of paint thinner.
  • A level in Kirby 64 attempts to bury you in sand, while a level in Kirby Canvas Curse has you outrunning lava.
  • Bionic Commando on the Game Boy Color included a level where you had to destroy a fuel station. Destroying the system controlling the station caused it to start filling with flaming fuel which would kill you if you touched it.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on the Sega Genesis had a level where destroying a computer caused the level to fill with a flaming liquid.
  • The 16-bit Disney game Maui Mallard had a few of these, notably trying to out-swim a vortex in a shipwreck and climbing away from a cloud of death in Hell.
  • The first The Smurfs game for the SNES had a volcano level with rising lava (Act 12).
  • Trine does this with the last level, with the addition that the boss is constantly following you, conjuring objects to block your way, to screw with your jumps or to break platforms.
  • 'Splosion Man does this periodically, with the justification that since you're a creature made of fire, water isn't so healthy for you.
  • Two instances in Ratchet and Clank:
    • In Blackwater City in the first game, you have to outrun the rising water in a tunnel. Ratchet can both swim and hold his breath, but not for long, and gets realistically slowed down when swimming or wading. The only chance to get out before drowning is to keep ahead of the water. Annoyingly, not so long after this passage, he gets scuba gear...
    • The last of the Qwark vid-comics in Up your Arsenal justifies this as you're outrunning rising acid.
  • Super Metroid's version of Norfair has several rooms where lava rises as soon as you enter. (Or in one case, as soon as you grab an upgrade at the far end.) There's also rising lava in part of the final Escape Sequence, but it's kind of redundant since you're already running to escape an exploding planet, and because it's at the end of the game, your suit's been upgraded enough that the lava doesn't restrict your movement, and you have so many spare energy tanks that the damage inflicted by the lava is negligible, so it's really only there to make you panic.
  • The classic arcade platformer Rainbow Islands has you moving one of two (previously cursed) boys named Bub and Bob up a series of seven sinking islands, with a harsh time limit and some Super Drowning Skills to speed you on your way.
    • Rainbow Islands: Towering Adventure is similar, except instead of water, the floor is replaced with a Mad Scientist's killing machine, which changes weapons as you race up the tower.
  • The recent freeware Platform Hell game Flood The Chamber consists of a large room that is slowly being filled with water. Touching the water results in an instant KO, forcing you to restart
  • Several levels in Super Mario Bros 3 had rising and falling water, usually accompanied by the Demonic Spider Boss Bass.
  • As with Ice Climber and Kid Icarus, in most vertical stages in the Contra series, you die if you touch the bottom of the screen. Same with most any Ratchet Scrolling vertical level.
  • In Indiana Jones Greatest Adventures, one level involves Indy scrambling to reach the top floor of the Raven Saloon to avoid an ever-rising sea of flames. Said saloon is rather ridiculously tall.
  • Half Life: Opposing Force had an early room where a faulty circuit pierces a tank of biowaste and then proceeds to blow large chunks out of the floor, eventually releasing a metal beam leading up to the maintenance walkway above while the waste level is still rising. The G-Man eventually opens a door leading out of the room.
  • Legacy of Kain: Defiance has the early moment in Raziel's viewpoint, as he escapes from the Spirit Realm. The Elder God cynically asks, "Where are you going, little soul?", after which deadly mist rises up and the player is forced to outclimb it.
  • The gameplay of Catherine is split between Vincent hanging out at the bar and his nightmares, which takes the form of him climbing a tower of blocks in order to outrun whatever monstrosity he's dreaming of.
  • During the Firewalker mission in Mass Effect 2, Shepard and his/her squad escape from a research station nested inside a volcano as lava rises. Thankfully, they're in a vehicle built to handle brutal environments.
  • Jackie Chans Action Kung Fu has this as part of the Lethal Lava Land stage. Naturally, the lava starts rising faster and faster as you frantically struggle to jump up the platforms.
  • The Wall Jump-unlocking area in Fancy Pants Adventures has ink spilling from a pipe while you try and use your new-found wall-jumping ability to avoid it.