Combos as a Means of Traversal

What are some examples of games where a fluid sequence of actions will move you across the world? They don’t have to be combos explicitly so long as they feel like combos. I get such a feeling of satisfaction whenever I’m able to do things just right in these types of games. Maybe it’s my secret favorite genre?

A few I can think of:

Kirby’s Dream Course
You can use an enemy’s power to move further than your putt allows and even better, you get a new opportunity to use a power every time you hit another powered enemy. This leads to hole-in-one shots like this,

Wall-running, air dashing, and well-placed series of enemies put me in such a state of flow. The whole game is designed around efficiently and completely taking out enemies in a room. Stage 5 demands that you do this.

Sonic Adventure 2
You already know.


paper mario has awesome movement tech:

legendary (hope this counts haha):

tony hawk’s pro skater et. al


Taking your thread title literally, this was actually my favorite part of playing One Piece: Pirate Warriors 1. It’s a Dynasty Warriors game themed after the manga One Piece, so it plays a lot like Dynasty Warriors but has some additional mechanics. In the story mode you only played the main character and he had this special ability where you can hold down any button press to charge up your attack and it would enhance the strength of whatever combo string you did. I started the game on the hardest difficult and was severely under-leveled for the strength of the enemies, so after a certain point I straight up stopped causing hitstun on enemies unless I was doing the charged attacks (and sometimes not even then- though it still caused more damage than a regular attack). At the same time they would deal massive damage to me, killing me in only a handful of hits, so that moment of standing still charging my attacks were too dangerous. I should also mention the game has this dash button that give you a quick dodge in any direction, and you could cancel any grounded attack into a dash.

What I eventually figured out was that if you do a charged combo but dash cancel it before you finish the combo string, your character actually retains that charged attack visual effect for a few moments before you return to the neutral standing animation. And if you canceled the dash’s recovery animation into a new combo string, it actually retained the charged attack status too, letting you cancel one charged attack string into another, as long as you don’t let any of those strings naturally end.

What this meant was that halfway through the story mode it turned into this game where I had to figure out how to utilize my various combo strings to not only attack whatever enemies I was fighting but also to move myself around the map while retaining my charge. Your moveset contained a good variety in its utility, some attacks having good AOE, some doing good single point damage, and some really giving your forward movement, so it actually became really fun figuring out how to manage this to overcome an overpowered swarm of foes. You still had parts of recovery animations between attacks and dashes so you still had to plan your timing and spacing, because you could die in, like, only three hits.

I died a lot, losing half an hour of progress on a level, but I really enjoyed the challenge. It was also one of those things that didn’t feel intentional, like I figured out a way to game system and beat the odds. But I’m sure the dev did notice it and decided to keep it in, even if it wasn’t present in the following games.


Dragons Dogma has a lot of combat techs that move you around the battlefield by springboarding off of your allies weapons/shields or launching off of enemies, which is extremely fun when combined with the giant monster fights where you can grab them and crawl around on them

You can also get a “sprint” technique where you tap a button combo to immediately rush forward like 20 feet with your twin daggers held behind you like a Naruto or a Sonic. This can be cancelled in a number of ways, including a sliding tackle that can knock any man-size or smaller enemy off their feet. You can also just repeat it over and over to zip across the countryside and ramp off boulders and shit which is how i do it most of the time


The Messenger has a double-jump contingent on hitting the attack button mid-air

Devil May Cry series has Stinger

Proto-Poor Answer: Gears of War series has a lite version of fast-travel with hopping to cover-to-cover that’s about as fast as roadie running (with even more camera jerking) but really depends on the environment

SOTN (and other IGAvanias?) has the headstomp


Sunset Overdrive has traversal combos built in - switch from grinding on power lines to bouncing off of cars to weird air dashes to ground pounds that send you flying into the air to build a combo, get points, and higher damage. It’s the best part of the game, hands down.


i should really buy sunset overdrive already

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This is amazing

Celeste is pretty much entirely this, isn’t it

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In that case SNES Aladdin has some places where you can basically never touch the ground if you want to flex like that

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Oh yeah, especially with the fact that you are mostly in the air with no floor beneath you. Platformers at large can fit into this concept but there is certainly a degree of intensity to it. I think something that had separated the Super Mario Bros. games from most other platformers of the time was how you can chain movements. A lot of platformers could be improved by making enemy heads springy.


the undersold glory of Donkey Kong Country, and only some of their levels even realized it


Doom Eternal is basically an aerial ballet of double jump, double airdash, jump pads and ramps, and in-air glory kills to reset your jumps & dashes


This stage took me like 3 hours

I’m gonna mention Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat while being too lazy to go into details. I do know that in at least some of the levels you could avoid breaking the combo for the entire level (which I believe involved either not or only minimally touching the ground).

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I never got far enough in any Umihara Kawase game to know how common it is but I believe in some harder levels you need to recast your fishhook in midair to keep moving or get across huge gaps. Or maybe I’m misremembering and you can’t cast more than once after your feet leave the ground? After actually paying attention to the game I think you just reel your line in and you can cast it again, so it would be a sequence of moves.

I’m also reminded of speedrunners mashing the run button on stairs for faster movement in some classic-camera Resident Evils but that’s just one button (and a direction input).

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Nier Automata has totally tapped into that potential, since it is basically impossible not to dash/cancel/jump/dash-dash-dash/jump/dash/cancel your way around each place, up to the point where e. g. traversing some platforms, you actually never even touch some because you just dash over them.

and it feels so satisfying to do this that you just. cannot. stop. doing. it. all. the. time.


ginjirou in guardian heroes ginjinrou in guardian heroes ginjirou in guardian heroes

One of my favorite ninjas in any game ever, totally underappreciated. All of his attacks launch him in these weird angles - when you first start using him you will just be constantly zooming 50 feet through the air and totally whiffing as you try to kick a skeleton guard in the face with your tiny hit boxes, but once you git gud, oh man, it really is the most fun crowd control in any belt scroller imho~~~