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ABSTRACT

A method is provided for controlling a multiplayer competition video game for use with the system which includes a video display screen, a graphics controller, digital memory and user input devices, the method comprising the steps of: providing a first region of the video display screen in which a scrollable playfield can be displayed; providing a second region of the video display screen in which the scrollable playfield can be displayed; displaying a first character in the first region; displaying a second character in the second region; scrolling the playfield in the first region to show progress of the first character in traversing the playfield; scrolling the playfield in the second region to show progress of the second character in traversing the playfield; displaying an exchange object in a portion of the scrollable playfield displayed in at least one of the first and second regions; activating the exchange object; interchanging respective playfield displays in the first display screen and the second display screen such that following said step of interchanging, progress of the first character in traversing the playfield and progress of the second character in traversing the playfield are exchanged.

Inventors: Yuji Naka, Masanobu Yamamoto
Original Assignee: Sega of America, Inc.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION


1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates generally to video games, and more specifically, to video games that employ a playfield that scrolls relative to a game character in order to show character motion through the playfield.

2. Description of the Related Art

Video games are well known in which a game character, or sprite, follows a prescribed path through a scrolled playfield in response to the commands of a user who is playing the game. The user operates an input device which includes a control console which may include a "joy stick" used to control character movement. A user command issued through the input device for the character to move right results in the playfield scrolling to the left which creates the impression that the character is moving to the right relative to the playfield. Conversely, a user command for the character to move left results in the playfield scrolling to the right which creates the impression that the character is moving to the left. During such scrolling the character image ordinarily remains fixed near the center of the screen display despite the appearance of movement relative to the playfield.

In typical video games, the input device permits the user to command the character to perform numerous activities such as to jump or to crouch down or to speed-up or to slow-down. Often, a game character takes on different appearances as it engages in different activities. For example, when the character moves at slower speeds, its legs, arms and torso may be fully visible as the playfield scrolls slowly. However, when the character speeds up, most of the character image may be portrayed as a blur with only the character head being fully recognizable while the playfield scrolls rapidly. Moreover, the character may have one portrayal when it crouches and another portrayal when it jumps. Additionally, there may be special character antics that involve a series of images, such as tumbling, throwing a kick or "flying" through the air.

A challenge associated with video games is to provide a competition mode in which two video game players independently control two game characters as the characters traverse the playfield. For example, the players compete by trying to have their characters traverse the playfield fastest while accumulating the highest number of points by overcoming obstacles or slaying enemies or gathering "magical rings". One problem associated with competition games is that the character controlled by one player may get far ahead of the character controlled by the other player as the two characters traverse the field. In order to make the game more exciting and challenging, it can be desirable to have two characters in closer competition.

Thus, there has been a need for a method and apparatus in which the lead that one character has achieved over the other can be changed or reduced when one character has outdistanced the other. The present invention meets this need.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION


A method is provided for controlling a multiplayer competition video game for use in a system which includes a video display screen, a graphics controller, digital memory and at least one user input device. In a current embodiment, a split screen display is provided in which a top screen displays a first region of the playfield and a bottom screen display displays a second region of the playfield. A first character is displayed in the top screen, and a second character is displayed in the bottom screen. The first playfield region in the top screen is scrolled to display progress of the first character through the playfield, and the second playfield region in the bottom screen is scrolled to show the progress of the second character through the playfield. An exchange object is displayed in at least one of the top and bottom screens. The exchange object is activated, and as a result, the respective playfield displays in the top and bottom screens are interchanged such that after the interchanging process, the top screen displays the first character in the second playfield region, and the bottom screen displays the second character in the first playfield region.

Thus, by activating the exchange object, the positions of the first and second characters are reversed. A character which once was far out in front of the other character now is far behind that character. The present exchange object, therefore, adds additional strategy factors to the video game play.

These and other purposes and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description in conjunction with the appended drawings in which: