Jumping or falling on top of an enemy and bouncing off it to reach an otherwise unreachable point is a ludic motif in Braid: It is clearly recurring, being necessary to complete just below half the game’s levels. It is also salient – the motif stands out by being kinesthetically interesting, requiring focus and timing to execute, and by often being the last step in a chain leading to the collection of a puzzle piece.
In addition, several challenges rely on having the player move the enemy some distance to get the opportunity to bounce on it at the right spot – making the motif stand out due to the effort it takes to enable it.
Like many motifs in Braid, [bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] references games in the Mario series, where the same motif can often be produced by the player, though it is usually not necessary in order to progress through the game. (Super Mario Bros 3 even demonstrates the motif in its title sequence)
[bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] is first introduced in level 2-1, where the player must jump on an enemy to reach an otherwise unreachable puzzle piece. This happens shortly after the player encounters an enemy for the first time, linking enemies to traversal from the get-go. Following this, the player may bounce off one enemy, then another to collect a puzzle piece even further out of reach.
[bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] –> Puzzle piece
[bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] -> [bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] –> Puzzle piece
Here we are already seeing transformation of a phrase by addition, specifically a linked repetition of the motif. Having thus solidly established the motif with a clear initial statement and a repetition, the game incorporates the motif in more complex phrases:
[Move enemy to a different area using controllable platform (on puzzle piece)] -> [bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] -> Puzzle piece
Drop off ledge -> [bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] –> platform
2-3 is our first example of a spatial context change, as well as a new goal. While the motif remains conceptually unchanged, the fact that the enemy is placed on a platform below rather than on the same platform as the player changes the timing and spatial reasoning necessary to successfully carry out the phrase – as does the fact that the goal is now to reach a platform, rather than a puzzle piece.
Level 2-3 is also the first expression of the [Hunt] motif, which will be discussed briefly in relation to level 4-3.
[Move enemy to area using controllable platform (by lever)]
–> [bounce-on–enemy-to-reach] -> Puzzle piece
2-4a is a variation of 2-2, but as that phrase is not in fact solvable until the puzzle piece from 2-3 has been collected (the puzzle piece itself is used as the controllable platform), 2-4a is likely to the first instance where the player encounters the idea of moving an enemy by moving a platform. It is also conceptually much simpler than 2-2, since 2-2 combines incorporates the puzzle solving view in addition to the regular game world.
The change in how the platform is moved constitutes a context change transformation, and there’s a spatial inversion as well, since the enemy must move right and down in 2-2, and left and down in 2-4a.
[bounce-on-enemy – (in mid-air) – to-reach] -> platform with puzzle piece
This is a variation of 2-1a with a context change: The enemy is being shot out of a cannon and therefore the player must time their jump exactly right to bounce off the enemy.
[Manipulate time such that obstacle does not hit time-unbound enemy] ->
[bounce-on–enemy–to–reach] – > Puzzle piece
The first phrase including this motif where time manipulation is essential. Variations of this phrase serve as an opportunity for the player to demonstrate their grasp of each time-ruleset near the end of a world – see 4-5 and and 6-4.
[bounce-on–enemy – (in mid-air) -to-reach] -> [bounce-on-enemy – (in mid-air) -to-reach] -> platform with puzzle piece
4-2 is the first use of the motif to require a change of horizontal direction as the motif unfolds.
[bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] > platform
4-3a is similar to 4-2, but with a new goal: The player is now simply trying to reach a point to the left in an effort to utilize the time = space rule of the current World, resetting the lever without going to the lower platform.
[bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] -> across wall
Another utilization of the motif, this time with the new goal of crossing a wall
[bounce-on-enemy-to-reach (in mid-air)] -> platform
[bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] –> platform
[bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] –> platform
[bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] -> [bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] – platform
Level 4-4 repeats the [hunt] motif first presented in 3-2, which combines a spatial layout of enemies, platforms and doors with a motif-specific rule which allows a door to open only when all enemies have been revoked from a level. As such, we see an exact repetition of 2-3 in 4-4a. A rule change introduces additional phrases, a spatial inversion of 2-3 in 4-4b, as well as a context changed 2-1b in 4-4c, where the player is able to bounce twice on a single enemy.
[Manipulate time such that obstacles do not hit time-unbound enemy]
-> [bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] > Platform with puzzle piece
In 4-5, a variation of 3-5, the player must rewind at high speed in order to both affect the obstacles and reach the right position to be ready to bounce.
[bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] > platform > [Move lever to open gate] > Rewind time > [bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] > platform with puzzle piece
A longer phrase, merging two recurring phrases that have been presented previously, with the lever interaction and rewind added in the middle
[Move enemy to a different area using controllable platform (by lever, including shadow platform)] > [bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] > Puzzle piece
Another variation on the theme of moving enemies by platform to bounce off them, also present in 2-2 and 2-4a
Kill enemy > Rewind time > [bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] > platform
Here the player must kill the enemy, then rewind and allow the shadow player to kill the enemy while the player takes position, getting ready to bounce.
Stand under enemy such that it bounces off you > Rewind time > [bounce-on-enemy-to-reach (in mid-air, after bouncing off your shadow)] > Platform with puzzle piece.
This phrase has a humorous double-inversion of the motif, since it is now first the enemy that bounces of you, before you then bounce of the enemy, bouncing off your shadow. The inversion is intentionally highlighted by sharing the springy sound effect with the regular bounce expression.
Place time ring to slow player relative to canon fire speed > [bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] > [bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] > Puzzle piece
This is a variant of 2-1b enabled by local time manipulation. The context is also new – this is the first time we see linked bounces on enemies being shot from a cannon.
[bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] > Platform > [bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] > Platform with key
[Manipulate time such that obstacle does not hit time-unbound enemy] > [bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] > Puzzle piece
[Bound on enemy to reach] > Cannon
[Manipulate time such that obstacles does not hit time-unbound enemy]
> [bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] > [bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] > Platform with puzzle piece
We’ve seen variations of this phrase in 6-4, 4-5 and 3-5 as well – but since the necessary time manipulation is different for each one, they are highly varied and require different approaches. They are, in other words, affected by context transformations. This final variation of the phrase ups the ante by incorporating two enemies, since a linked repetition of [bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] is needed to reach the platform.
[bounce on enemy to make it change timeline] > [bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] > platform with door
[bounce on enemy to make it change timeline] > climb ladder > [bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] > platform with door
[bounce on enemy to make it change timeline] > [bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] (repeatedly) > platform > [bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] > platform with door
While the final levels introduce an interesting new time-motif, the only development in terms of [bounce-on-enemy-to-reach] is the long string of linked repetitions in 1-2, which serves as a last hoorah for the motif.