Some platform games (both 2D Mario-style and 3D Quake-style) try to be cute by making the player take damage from colliding too hard with solid objects. This damage can range from one health point to instant death. Some say that this enhances the game; others say too much realism merely cripples the gameplay.

  • Donkey Kong (arcade, NES): fall more than 2 m and die. (This is just wrong; even I've fallen farther than that without a scratch.)
  • Donkey Kong (Game Boy): fall more than 6 m and be momentarily stunned; fall more than 12 m and die. Hit your head while riding a conveyor belt and die.
  • Tomb Raider: similar to Donkey Kong's system.
  • Super Mario 64: 25% to 50% when falling on hard ground; stun when falling on powder.
  • Doom, Quake: some damage (generally less than 5%) depending on height
It's not limited to platform games:
  • Descent: 1% for hitting a wall.
  • Gradius and other similar shooters: touch a wall and die.
  • Star Fox: 10% or more for hitting a wall; wings can break off.
In many 3D games - particularly those that emphasize realism, like Urban Terror, Counterstrike, and Action Quake 2 - fall damage plays a major role in determining the flow of gameplay on a map. For example, Action Quake's popular Urban series is set in a (duh) urban environment, complete with high-rise buildings that are fatal to fall from. The careful designer will place a shorter building, a parking structure, a bigass truck, etc. next to a high rooftop, providing a one-way exit from a cozy camping spot. Conversely, bounce pads or elevators can be used to limit a player's escape routes, tilting the odds a bit in favor of the anti-snipers.

The presence or absence of fall damage drastically changes the feel of a game. If players' downward movement is completely unrestricted, high-up locations become even more advantageous, and the gameplay moves much more quickly, as those on lower levels can easily be rushed from anywhere on the map. With even a moderate amount of fall damage, the game takes on a much more rhythmic feel; tactical play becomes essential, and long hunts, punctuated by excited flurries of action, become the rule.

To sum up: understanding the importance of fall damage can provide a critical advantage to the online gamer. Recognize how it affects the movement of both yourself and your opponent, and you will be that much more prepared when the gauntlet is thrown down.

Doom, by the way, does not have falling damage.

Let us not forget about falling damage in roleplaying games.

Almost all RPGs feature some form of falling damage. From the ultra realistic games (Champions), that factor in acceleration, terminal velocity, and wind speed. To the unrealistic, but easy to calculate (AD&D), with a simple method based on distance. (AD&D used one six sided die for each 10 feet fallen to determine damage, with a maximum of 20D6).

Falling damage rules are part of every roleplaying game that has complete rules. Heroes are constantly falling out of windows, off cliffs, etc. Especially be wary of falling with a weak character in a non realistic game. The average beginning D&D character may be killed by a mere 10 foot fall. While the average Hero System character would not even suffer any real damage from that same fall. Differences in falling damage rules change RPG tactics just as much as they do computer game tactics. A beginning D&D thief will probably be scared to climb even 30 foot walls, as a fall could very possible kill him. But the equivalent character in Hero System wouldn't think twice, as he knows he would most likely survive the fall.

In real life falling damage is highly variable. I survived a forty foot fall when I was younger, but only because I impacted something on the way down, and it slowed my fall. But even a twenty foot fall may be enough to kill someone. So, be careful.

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