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In video games, flip-screen (sometimes also known as flick-screen or page-flipping) is a principle whereby the playing environment is divided into single-screen portions (usually viewed from above, though sometimes from the side, or, more seldom, via an isometric
Isometric projection
Isometric projection is a method for visually representing three-dimensional objects in two dimensions in technical and engineering drawings...

 view). Players see only one such screen at a time, and normally move to the next screen by having the player character
Player character
A player character or playable character is a character in a video game or role playing game who is controlled or controllable by a player, and is typically a protagonist of the story told in the course of the game. A player character is a persona of the player who controls it. Player characters...

/vehicle exit the current screen via one of the display's edges. At the point when the screen-to-next-screen move is performed, the picture abruptly "flips" to the next screen, hence the technique's name.


This mode of gameplay was very common in 2D
2D computer graphics
2D computer graphics is the computer-based generation of digital images—mostly from two-dimensional models and by techniques specific to them...

Platform game
A platform game is a video game characterized by requiring the player to jump to and from suspended platforms or over obstacles . It must be possible to control these jumps and to fall from platforms or miss jumps...

 and maze
A maze is a tour puzzle in the form of a complex branching passage through which the solver must find a route. In everyday speech, both maze and labyrinth denote a complex and confusing series of pathways, but technically the maze is distinguished from the labyrinth, as the labyrinth has a single...

 games on 8-bit home computer
Home computer
Home computers were a class of microcomputers entering the market in 1977, and becoming increasingly common during the 1980s. They were marketed to consumers as affordable and accessible computers that, for the first time, were intended for the use of a single nontechnical user...

s and video game console
Video game console
A video game console is an interactive entertainment computer or customized computer system that produces a video display signal which can be used with a display device to display a video game...

s during the 1980s. The flip-screen technique was particularly common in games originally made for ZX Spectrum
ZX Spectrum
The ZX Spectrum is an 8-bit personal home computer released in the United Kingdom in 1982 by Sinclair Research Ltd...

, such as Atic Atac
Atic Atac
Atic Atac is a ZX Spectrum video game developed and released by Ultimate Play The Game in 1983. It takes place within a flip-screen castle in which the player must seek out the "Golden Key of ACG"...

, Jet Set Willy
Jet Set Willy
Jet Set Willy is a computer game originally written for the ZX Spectrum home computer. It was published in 1984 by Software Projects and ported to most home computers of the time....

and Starquake, due in part to the Spectrum's display limitations
Attribute clash
Attribute clash was a display artifact caused by limits in the graphics circuitry of a number of early color 8-bit home computers, most notably the Sinclair Research ZX Spectrum, where it meant that only two colors could be used in any area of 8×8 pixels...

 which meant that full colour scrolling was difficult to implement convincingly - Light Force
Light Force (video game)
Light Force is a shoot 'em up game released by FTL in for several home computer systems.-Plot:The Regulus system is under attack by aliens. A single Terran fighter of the "Light Force" of Galactic Fighter Command must defeat the invaders and rescue their hostages.-Gameplay:The game is a...

 being a notable exception. Monochrome scrolling instead was frequently seen in games, such as the early Penetrator
Penetrator (computer game)
Penetrator is an early Sinclair ZX Spectrum game made by Melbourne House programmer Philip Mitchell, one of the early hits. It was released in 1982 as a clone of the Scramble arcade game....

, the later Bounder
Bounder (video game)
Bounder is an action game developed and published by Gremlin Graphics in 1985.-Gameplay:The player controls a tennis ball which is used to navigate courses, composed of numerous tiles, which are suspended high above ground...

, and Gunfright
Gunfright is a ZX Spectrum video game developed by Ultimate Play The Game for U.S. Gold in 1986. The game makes use of the same scrolling isometric projection engine used previously in Nightshade. The player takes the role of sheriff in the town of Black Rock. Some outlaws are headed into town...


These limitations were not exclusive to the Spectrum, many early MSX
MSX was the name of a standardized home computer architecture in the 1980s conceived by Kazuhiko Nishi, then Vice-president at Microsoft Japan and Director at ASCII Corporation...

 and PC
IBM PC compatible
IBM PC compatible computers are those generally similar to the original IBM PC, XT, and AT. Such computers used to be referred to as PC clones, or IBM clones since they almost exactly duplicated all the significant features of the PC architecture, facilitated by various manufacturers' ability to...

 VGA games also used the flip-screen technique. While it was possible to implement full-screen VGA scrolling, this required very precise programming and in many cases this meant sacrificing graphical detail. Examples of flip-screen PC games include the first two Prince of Persia
Prince of Persia
Prince of Persia is a platform game, originally developed by Jordan Mechner and released in 1989 for the Apple II, that represented a great leap forward in the quality of animation seen in video games....

games and Flashback. The flip-screen method was also used for early MSX computer games, including the stealth games Metal Gear
Metal Gear (video game)
is an overhead military action-adventure video game originally released in by Konami for the MSX2 computer standard in Japan and parts of Europe. Considered to be the progenitor of the stealth game genre, it was also the first video game designed by Hideo Kojima, who also directed many of the...

and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
is an overhead stealth action game that was originally released by Konami in for the MSX2 computer standard exclusively in Japan. Metal Gear 2 was directed and written by Hideo Kojima, who also designed the MSX2 version of the original Metal Gear...


With the maturing of the graphics programming state-of-the-art on existing platforms, as well as the industry's move to more powerful third-generation
History of video game consoles (third generation)
In the history of computer and video games, the third generation began on July 15, 1983, with the Japanese release of both the Nintendo Family Computer and Sega SG-1000...

 consoles (beginning with the NES
Nintendo Entertainment System
The Nintendo Entertainment System is an 8-bit video game console that was released by Nintendo in North America during 1985, in Europe during 1986 and Australia in 1987...

) and 16-bit computers, the flip-screen technique was gradually replaced by playing environments that scrolled
In computer graphics, filmmaking, television production, and other kinetic displays, scrolling is sliding text, images or video across a monitor or display. "Scrolling", as such, does not change the layout of the text or pictures, or but incrementally moves the user's view across what is...

, that is, those where the player remains in the centre of the screen while the environment "moves" past. Oddworld
Oddworld is a comprehensive fictional universe presented in video game form, created by game developers Oddworld Inhabitants under the direction of Lorne Lanning. Throughout games set in the Oddworld universe, Oddworld's peaceful nature is in danger of being consumed by the industrial ambition of...

games on the original PlayStation are an exception.

There were also games that had some, but not all, of the earlier-mentioned aspects. The Legend of Zelda, for instance, also divides its environment into separate screen-sized sections (or rooms), as do the games in the same series made for the original Game Boy
Game Boy
The , is an 8-bit handheld video game device developed and manufactured by Nintendo. It was released in Japan on , in North America in , and in Europe on...

 and Game Boy Color
Game Boy Color
The is Nintendo's successor to the 8-bit Game Boy handheld game console, and was released on October 21, 1998 in Japan, November 19, 1998 in North America, November 23, 1998 in Europe and November 27, 1998 in the United Kingdom. It features a color screen and is slightly thicker and taller than...

. However, instead of instantaneously flipping to a new screen when the player reached an edge, the transition between screens is achieved by rapid scrolling. A few games scroll normally within a small area but scroll rapidly to flip from area to area; these include The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, known as in Japan, is an action-adventure video game developed and published by Nintendo for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System video game console, and the third installment in The Legend of Zelda series. It was first released in Japan in 1991, and was...

and the Nintendo 64 and Nintendo GameCube versions of Animal Crossing
Animal Crossing
The Animal Crossing games have garnered positive response. The first three games are among the best-selling for their respective consoles. Animal Crossing has sold 2.321 million copies; Wild World 10.79 million; and City Folk 3.38 million...


External links

  • Flip-screen, Giant Bomb
    Giant Bomb
    Giant Bomb is an American video game website and wiki that includes gaming news, reviews, commentary, and video, created by former GameSpot editors Jeff Gerstmann and Ryan Davis in collaboration with Whiskey Media...