Videogame optical illusions

This illusion is a take on the classic “wagon-wheel” effect, that silly asynchronicity in filmmaking that makes wheels look like they’re spinning backward. Observe our Super Mario version: all the fire spinners below are rotating in the same direction and at the same speed.

When strobing occurs at the same rate as the rotation, the fire spinner appears motionless (lower left). When the strobe occurs at a slightly slower rate than rotation, the direction appears to reverse (upper right).

Freezing rotation

Look at the Poke Ball in the center of the image. Does it rotate smoothly or incrementally? Watch what happens when we take away the background. Voodoo!

When the ball and the background rotate the same direction, it creates the illusion that the ball has stopped rotating (or at least slowed down, depending on the individual.) In fact, the Poke Ball rotates at a constant rate.

Impossible objects

While we’re on the subject of Pokémon, did you know that the Platinum Edition contained an entire MC Escher-themed area? Distortion World relies on many of the perceptual tricks Escher popularized in his famous images of impossible architecture. Take a tour of Distortion World in this narrated walkthrough video (skip ahead for the good stuff, including an upside down waterfall.)

In videogames, the motion and depth we take for granted are just elaborate illusions based on the physical properties of the eye and the way our perception is hardwired into our brains. You know, like a broken robot! Kindly redirect your lazerbeams to our uniform resource locators again soon.

June 3, 2010