The Exciting History of Ladders in Video Games

The Exciting History of Ladders in Video Games

19th February 2020

Video games are now a huge part of life, with more than 1.2 billion gamers dotted across the planet. If we look back through the history of these games, we can see that ladders have popped up time and again in crucial moments.  

The Early Ladder-Based Platform Games

Many of the earliest PC games were platform adventures. This meant climbing ladder to move around the screen. One of the earliest examples comes with Donkey Kong, where the main character had to work his way up through a construction site to save the damsel in distress.

Jet Set Willy added more variety to the genre by mixing ladders, stairs and swinging ropes. They help the player to move around and clean up his house after a party. Not being safety ladders however, the hero can fall off at any time. 

Mario also had to climb his fair share of ladders. The heroic plumber even inspired a board game called Super Mario Bros, The Great Ladder Race Game, in which Mario and Luigi race each other to the bottom of a ladder. 

Tomb Raider and the Fallen Ladder Puzzle

This classic video game makes good use of ladders too. For instance, in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Lara Croft is racing against time to save the world again. 

In the Judge's Gaze Challenge Tomb section, you need to raise a fallen ladder and climb it in order to complete the tomb. This is done by carrying out a sequence of moves that lets you finally climb the ladder to success.

In other instalments of Tomb Raider, Croft has to climb ladders to reach new and challenging destinations. 

The Strange Ladder-Climbing Technique in Counter-Strike 

Counter-Strike first appeared as a Windows game in 1999. Since then, this multiplayer first-person shooter has sold 25 million units. While it has proved to be hugely influential in the genre, many players have complained about the rather strange mechanics of ladder-climbing. 

The game’s map is filled with ladders of different lengths, but the soldiers can zoom up and down them effortlessly. Even with a weapon in his hand, a player can fly up a ladder as though they have been fired out of a cannon. 

Nevertheless, the ladders still add extra excitement to the game, as enemies can pop up rapidly or disappear down them. 

Grand Theft Auto 5 and the Difficult Ladders

This title from Rockstar Games was released in 2013 and instantly become a classic. It earned $800 million in its first day on the market, meaning that it became the quickest-selling entertainment product ever seen. By 2019, it had sold 110 million copies.

Climbing down ladders has proved to be a hugely dangerous task in this action-packed game. Numerous fans of GTA have pointed out that they regularly plunge to their deaths while trying to use a ladder. To make matters worse, the game notes this as a suicide.  

The open world concept makes this an engaging game where players can roam freely. However, even scuba diving and BASE jumping seem to be safer than using one of their ladders. According to experts players, the key is in doing it very slowly while facing the ladder, which, to be fair, sounds like common sense.