Techniques for Hiding Routes

In Brief

  • Finding hidden routes can be a magical experience.
  • The classic games use 6 technqiues for hidding routes.
  • The hidden routes required player effort but were not impossible to find.

The benefits of hiding routes

Hidden routes are secret routes and finding them is very rewarding.

The experience of finding a hidden route, particularly if the player did not noticed it on previous play sessions, is magical. It generates excitement, as the discovered secret route effectively extends the game by ‘adding’ a new space to the level.

Key features of hidden routes

  • Hidden routes should require a small level of cognitive effort to be found. This makes them more rewarding, as the player knows that s/he has ‘earned’ them.
  • Hidden routes should not be impossible to find. Indeed, a semi-skilled player of the classic games could find many of the hidden routes on his/her second or third play of the stage.

Hidden routes in action

Sonic 3 & Knuckles is well renowned for its replay value. Player’s replay the game multiple times to find all the hidden routes, which were cleverly hidden using a number of techniques.

Techniques for hiding routes

The classic games use six techniques for hiding routes:

Going against stage flow
Going against instinct
Sharp eye
Sharp skills

Hidden routes in the modern games

As discussed, modern games tend to contain hide short cuts instead of true hidden routes.
Finding the shrotcuts often requires little effort.
Futhermore, shortcuts not rewarding to find, as they barely offer anything ‘new’ for the player, as the shortcut returns to the main route almost instantly.


  • Modern games rarely contain hidden routes
  • Although they may contain hidden shortcuts, these aren’t as rewarding to find as they barely offer anything new.
  • Hence, much of the magical experience of the classic games is lost.

◄◄ Previous Section Index for this page Next Section ►►
A Classification of multiple routes Creating Choice through Level Design Choice from the Perspective of Developers (Section Index)


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