Vernacula-X

I've resurrected this old area of the site for two reasons. It's mostly a small glossary of various video game terms. The second reason is that I have a bad habit of using unfamiliar slang including a few that I just made up myself. This area is still under construction and I apologize in advance for spelling errors, mistakes and just out-and-out stupidity. This is meant only as a quick 'oh, THAT'S what that means!' resource. Links to much better sites (many of which are referenced for the more technical bits here) are included at the bottom.

Jump to letter:

0-9 A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z

0-9

1-UP/1UP (item) (Full page here.) - An extra life given as a bonus, often found in the form of an item or point bonus.

1 Hit Wonder - (see One Hit Wonder)

A

Action RPG (Full page here.) - These are action games with a lot of elements (character stats, item management, puzzles, world maps, etc.) borrowed from tabletop role-playing games, computer text adventures and early RPG computer games. Examples include Adventure, Tower of Druaga, Gauntlet and The Legend of Zelda. Another variation of these games play just like an RPG, but then switch to an action game engine during enemy encounters (like Actraiser). Other Action RPGs include Golden Axe Warrior, Cadash and Beyond Oasis. The whole genre is often described incorrectly as Zelda Clone, though there are enough true Zelda Clones to be a true genre.

Area - A section of gameplay. Many times, area is used as a sub-section of a level or stage (like Level 1 Area 2 or Level 1-2), but some games use the term just like Level or Section. Area is often used to describe places on maps as well.

Auto Scroll - When the play area automatically moves in some direction without any control by the player. This is more common in shooters, but appears in side-scrollers like Altered Beast. Sometimes, auto scrolling is specific to certain levels of a game. Examples include the underwater sections of the 2-D Mario games, the A.P.C. scenes in Capcom's Alien vs. Predator and the chase scenes in Alien Storm.

B

Beat-em-up (Full page here.) - This offshoot of the side-scrolling platform game is all about the combat and places less emphasis on platform jumping, puzzles or other elements. IREM's Kung-Fu Master and Jordan Mechner's Karateka laid the groundwork, but Technos of Japan were the early pioneers as most of this genre's trademarks come from Renegade/Nekketsu Ko-ha Kunio-kun and Double Dragon. For the purpose of this site, the term 'beat-em-up' refers to games were close quarters combat is far more important than all other gaming elements. Other beat-em-ups include the Final Fight, Streets of Rage, the Rushing Beat Saga and the TMNT arcade games.

Bomberhea - One of the possible negative side-effects of picking up the skull icon in a Bomberman game. This one makes lose control of all bodily bomb-dropping functions and forces you to poop out your maximum number of bombs all at once. Usually all you can do is run around defecating deadly bombs all over the board until the effects wear off or you trap yourself with your own bombs and get blown up real good.

Boss - The boss is the character that you must defeat or pass by in order to go further in the game or end the game. These characters are almost always more dangerous than the drone enemies and usually require a special technique or item to defeat. The different types of bosses get obvious names from where they appear. A Level Boss or Stage Boss appears at the end of a stage, a Mid Boss appears in the middle of a level and the End Boss or Final Boss appears at the end of a game.

Boss (Full page here.) - The boss is the character that you must defeat or pass by in order to go further in the game or end the game. These characters are almost always more dangerous than the drone enemies. The different types of bosses get obvious names from where they appear.

Bonus - Extra points, life or abilities given upon the completion of a game's task. Common bonuses include replenished life or points given for the remaining time after beating a level and points given by special items or defeating special and tricky enemies.

C

Coin-Op - Coin-op, short for 'Coin Operated', is another name for an arcade game.

Cheap - Any tactic in a game that causes unavoidable damage. In fighting games, cheapness can be used by both human players and the computer controlled opponents. In nearly every other game genre, it refers to the game itself resorting to both intentional dirty tricks programmers add to make the game more difficult or unintentional programming errors that punish the game player.

CPS/CPS-1 - Capcom Play System was Capcom's arcade machine board standard of Capcom starting in 1988. It has a resolution of 384 x 224. Examples include Captain Commando, Final Fight, Fogotten Worlds, Magic Sword, Mercs, Mega Man: the Power Battle and Street Fighter 2.

CPS-2 - Capcom Play System 2 was Capcom's arcade machine standard starting in 1999. Games include Alien vs. Predator, Battle Circuit, Darkstalkers, X-Men: Children of the Atom, Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel vs. Capcom, X-Men vs. Street Fighter, MSH vs. Street Fighter, the Street Fighter Alpha series and Super Street Fighter series.

CPS-3 - The third incarnation of the Capcom Play System. Titles include Street Figther III, Warzard/Red Earth and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.

D

Drones - These are the common, lower tier enemies who aren't bosses. Think of them like Stormtroopers, Hydra agents, Cobra Vipers or those floppy guys that the Power Rangers beat up by the hundreds. They're the cannon fodder that the enemy throws at you to wear you down by sheer numbers. In a few games (especially beat-em-ups), an enemy can appear as a boss first, then reappear later as a drone enemy. Sometimes, the sprites of a drone enemy are palette-swapped or slightly-altered to create a boss (like Abigail from Final Fight or the mohawked Abobo from Double Dragon).

Doppelgänger - The German term (literal transtlation of its parts: double goer) is commonly used to describe someone who could be or is the double of another person or a ghost with the appearance of a still-living person. These are usually enemies in games who use the same sprites or 3-D model as a playable character. The point is that you have to battle an opponent with access to most or all of your skills, and sometimes even more. Characters who share sprites or a model with a playable character is either colored very differently and behaves very differently is rarely considered a doppelgänger as much as they're just a palette swap. These battles are often called "Mirror Matches" when dealing with just one opponent (especially in fighting games). Some game doppelgängers include the Doppelgängers from the Castlevania series, Doppel from Capt. Commando, the Shadow/Doppelgänger from Double Dragon II, Mirror Rick from Splatterhouse and Break from Streets of Rage 3.

E

Emulator - A program written on one machine to mimic the inner workings of another machine.

Experience Points - Often called 'EXP.' in games, these points gained that usually go towards enhancing the character in some way once they reach certain milestones. These points are usually given during combat although most turn-based RPG's give them to players after the combat scene is over. Usually, the stronger the enemy, the more exp. you get from defeating them.

F

Fighting Game - A game in which the goal is to fight and defeat another opponent (or sometimes multiple opponents) controlled by either the game itself or another player. This is usually on a stage that can be moved about freely and not a level that is progressed through.

Games which have players fighting multiple CPU opponents until reaching the end of the stage and beating a boss are sometimes grouped into the fighting game label, despite the fact that one-on-one fighters branched off from sports-style games (especially Karate Champ) and scrolling beat-em-ups branched from platformers (Kung-Fu Master).

G

H

Headswap - To create an enemy with a slightly different look while saving precious memory space in the game, extra sprite tiles can be made of alternate heads of characters. Some examples include The Lee Brothers and various Abobos in Double Dragon, various drones and Andore/Abigail in Final Fight, the female ninja and karate fighters in The Punisher arcade game and Ryu & Ken from the Street Fighter games.

Hack and Slash (Full page here.) - This is the nickname for action games in a Sword-and-Sorcery setting in which the game play is heavy on the combat like a beat-em-up while retaining many other play elements like platform jumping and exploration. Games like Golden Axe, Rastan, King of Dragons and Legend (by Seika for the SNES) are prime examples of this.

I

J

K

kunoichi
A female ninja.

L

level
1.) A section of a game which can also be called a stage. In some games, levels are broken into parts that are often called areas.
2.) Indicates the power of a character, a character's ability, etc. Higher levels are usually gained from points, experience points, completing tasks or obtaining items or power-ups.

M

M.U.G.E.N. - A fighting game created by Elecbyte that allows for nearly limitless customization, including character and stage creation, number of CPU opponents, select screen layout, etc. Most fan-programmed characters are conversions of pre-existing game characters, but there are many others that have been made from edited sprites, hand-drawn sprites, created from 3-D models and even a few live-action characters. MUGEN creator sites often have sprite edits that are done either just for fun or as potential future projects.

mugens - A nonsensical term that refers to many things. It usually refers to items that can be used in a M.U.G.E.N. game such as characters or backgrounds. Sometimes it refers a complete M.U.G.E.N. game. For some reason, some people call sprites and sprite edits as mugens because some developers also have sprites and sprite edits on their sites. This makes absolutely no sense because you can't just stick the .gif and .png files into any M.U.G.E.N. and expect them to work.

N

Ninja (Full page here.) - A fighter, spy and/or assassin trained in the mysterious, unconventional arts of ninjutsu. They often use weapons, tools and uniforms from the time of the ninja arts' creation and abilities that range from genius-grade sneakiness to full-blown fantasy magic. Ninjas in games with more than one playable character usually have low health and low attack power balanced with blinding speed to avoid damage and special techniques built around their agility.

O

One-Hit Wonder (Full page here.) - The game-specific version of this term refers to a game in which the player character dies after one hit from standard attacks.

P

Password - A group of letters, numbers or images given by a game for a specific purpose. Most passwords let players return to a later part of a game without having to play through the earlier parts again. Using password systems allowed game makers to let players save their place in a game without using battery backup. This reduced the cost of manufacturing the game. Nintendo introduced passwords with Metroid and Kid Icarus for the NES. After Memory Cards became standard for video game consoles, the password features were no longer neccessary and seem to have disappeared one system generation after the Memory Card's birth.

Pow (item) (Full page here.) - Not to be confused with P.O.W. (Prisoner of War), POW is a power-up item symbolized by a large capital P with the letters o and w following in lower-case form. Its effects depend on the game and include things like improving a weapon, a smart bomb attack and transforming all enemies into helpful items.

Power-up (item) - A power-up is an item in the game that causes a change in the player character's abilities. While most of them have positive effects, like power pellets in Pac-Man and Magic Mushrooms in the Super Mario games, some have negative effects, like poisoned cider in Gauntlet, poisonous mushrooms in Magic Sword, and the infamous 'Bomberrhea' item in the Bomberman games.

Palette (Full page here.) - An ordered set of colors used by a piece of raster graphic data. Most sprites and other pixel-based game graphics are actually maps (bitmaps and pixmaps) and each pixel has a palette index color assigned to it. Example: if the pixel at column 4, row 2 (X:4, Y:2) is color 3, the system will draw it using the color in the third palette slot. (See much more in the full definition)

Palette Swap (Full page here.) - Graphic objects that use the exact same graphics as another object, but are colored differently through the use of an alternate palette. This allowed programmers to add more characters, items and stages without using precious memory space to add more sprites and tiles or more development time. Famous examples of this are Billy and Jimmy Lee from Double Dragon, the Lin Kuei ninja from Mortal Kombat and even the Ghost Monsters from Pac-Man.

Platformer (Full page here.) - This genre of game ruled the much of the mid and late 1980's thanks to two of it's earliest ancestors: Lode Runner and Donkey Kong. Before that, most character-based games didn't even have floors, but depended on navigating mazes. Most platform games feature lots of jumping from platform to platform and usually end with reaching the exit of the level or defeating a boss.

Power-Up - An item obtained during the game that has a positive effect for the player. Effects include enhancements like temporary invincibility, automatic rapid-fire and upgraded attacks or jumping power. These items can appear in many places in a game such as being dropped from defeated enemies, destroyed background elements or provided by friendly characters. Famous examples of the power-up include Pac-Man's power pellets, the Magic Mushrooms in the Super Mario games and the running shoes from Sonic the Hedgehog.

Q

Quick Timer Event - These are events in games in which the screen prompts the player to perform some sort of action (usually a button press) in a certain amount of time or face the consequences (usually damage or instant death). The player has no control of their character other than the required command. This is similar to the Full Motion Video games of the mid-1980's like Dragon's Lair and Space Ace.

R

Resolution - The image size of the game that is usually described as 'width x height' in the number of pixels. Some arcade machines put out a higher resoultion than the monitor. Some arcade games (including Capcom's CPS-series games) are processed wider horizontally than the arcade monitors are and this gives the games a lot of having higher details. That's also why Capcom sprites images look 'fat' when displayed at their normal resolution (384) instead of the monitor width (320).

Risk-Reward (Full page here.) - Many games reward players for using riskier methods of play that usually require skill (or, sometimes, luck) to perform correctly. It can be found in combat techniques, harder stages with bonus item rewards and equippable items with bad stats but great bonus effects. Combat-based risk-vs-reward game play often involves techniques that require letting the enemy get so close that a missed attack will give that enemy a chance to hit with its own attack. The rewards are usually things like bonus score points, gold, experience points, and stat enhancements.

S

Scroll - To scroll is to move the screen. That doesn't seem like much now, but most games before the mid 1980's were just a screen that didn't move at all.

shinobi shozoku - The well-known, baggy jumpsuit ninja uniform. Some scholars say that these these black or dark uniforms were worn by crew members in ancient Japanese plays. These people were meant to blend in with the background or be ignored by the audience as they moved objects. They also played ninja since they were already supposed to be considered invisible. Then again, maybe that's all just another ninja trick to lull you into a false sense of security.

Sidbilly (Full page here.) - A male character added to a game to replace a female character. Example: Sid and Billy replace Poison and Roxy in the SNES version of Final Fight.

Side-scroller - Although this would seem to describe any game that scrolls to the side, this term is mostly used to describe platformers and beat-em-ups where the player scrolls the screen in the desired direction by walking that way.

Sprite - The simple answer to this would be to call it a frame of pixel-drawn animation. In most older game systems and engines (especially gaming consoles), each sprite is broken down into a group of smaller squares. Those smaller squares have many benefits, including the use of less memory. Another bonus is the ability to change small parts of characters like a head or the back of a jacket just by having a few extra squares with alternate parts. In some games, sprites are layered over each other for various reasons. In games like Cadash or Magic Sword where equipped items are seen on the sprites, these items have their own sprites that are layered over the main character. This is much more practical than redrawing the sprites for every possible weapon and armor combination. For most console systems, sprites are limited to a limited number of colors called a palette that can be manipulated. Due to the high number of MUGEN sites that display sprite galleries, some people mistakenly call sprites “Mugens”.

Sprite Edit - An existing sprite that has been modified or edited. When done by the original company, it's usually to give an alternate outfit to a character (like Chun-Li in Street Fighter Alpha). Usually, these are fan creations that use pre-existing sprites to show what a character may look like in a particular game's drawing style. Sometimes they're modified for the purpose of fan and tribute games as well.

Stage - Much like the term level, this is usually a section of a game. Sometimes, stages are divided into areas. Almost all fighting games and versus mode menus refer to all of their backgrounds as stages because not all forms of gameplay there lead to a final battle and most of the backgrounds have names instead of numbers.

Storyboard - Item for M.U.G.E.N. that can serve as an introduction or ending for either characters or entire games.

T

Tile - A block of graphic data used in a game. Frames of object animation and backgrounds are made up of arranged tiles. The best thing about using tiles is that you can use them over and over again for different things, especially with backgrounds. It also allows for the easy customization of sprites by just making alternate tiles for extra heads (see headswap), clothing or weapons. Such examples save a lot of memory space in the game for more important things. Also, the programmers saved a lot of precious memory space by not having to use up the space that would've been taken up by large, open areas in some sprites (like characters with their legs spread far apart.

Top-down - This is a viewpoint that has you looking down at the playfield. In most other art forms, it's called a bird's eye view. Top-down shooters usually scroll vertically (up and down instead of right and left), but not always. The viewpoint is mostly used in shooters (Commando, Ikari Warriors, Mercs, Gain Ground, Axelay and Gun.Smoke) and certain styles of action RPG's (Legend of Zelda and Golden Axe Warrior) but is sometimes used for beat-em-ups like Capcom's Avenger.

U

V

Versus Mode/VS. Mode (game mode) (Full page here.) - A play mode that's usually made for one player to fight another player, a single CPU-controlled opponent or multiple CPU-controlled opponents. The term is often used to set it apart from the main play mode and this distinction is more important when the main game isn't a fighting game. A few games and series, like Bomberman (starting with Bomberman 2), have Versus Modes great enough to eclipse the main game mode.

W

X

Y

Z

Zelda Clone - All major hits inspire their own wave of similar games that range between complete rip-offs to games that are great in their own right. Nintendo's 'The Legend Of Zelda' was such a smash hit that other companies were rushing to copy every element of that game. These 'clones' featured the same top-down viewpoint, labyrinths, maps, and so on. Many of these games were poorly made and have been forgotten by most people. The more well-done examples, like Golden Axe Warrior for the Sega Master System, get a bit more respect, even if they aren't as widely recognised as the Legend of Zelda. Oddly enough, Zelda II plays NOTHING like the Legend of Zelda, but inspired another imitator in the Golden Axe series called “Ax Battler”.

External Info sources and references:
CPS-2 Shock
System 16
Vidgame.net

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