Today, we're going to learn how to make an easy Cross the Road game on Scratch. In this game, the objective is to get your character across a busy road without getting hit. If you make it to the other side unscathed, you win!

This is a fairly popular game, and a fairly popular iteration of this game places you in control of a chicken trying to avoid getting hit by a car. You've probably heard the joke a thousand times, "Why did the chicken cross the road?" You know who else has heard that joke a thousand times? The chicken, and it's pretty sick of it, if not in fact just a little angry.

So for our game today, we'll be trying to get a car across to the other side of the road, and avoid being caught by angry chickens.

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Discover how to make an easy cross the road game on Scratch

In order to build our game today, we're going to draw our own backdrop, and use a lot of 'if-then' blocks in Scratch coding to both check and see if two sprites are touching, and also allow ourselves to control a sprite with the arrow keys on our keyboard. Here's a link to the Finished Project.

1. Draw your backdrop

Under ‘choose a backdrop’, we’ll select ‘paint’. We can start by drawing one big green rectangle over our entire backdrop, then draw a smaller black rectangle for our actual road. Now we need to give our road lines. Let's give our lines a thickness of ten; once you draw one, you can just copy and paste for the rest. We want 4 white lines, and 2 yellow ones.

Pro Tip: If you place the white lines first, before you place the yellow ones, you can easily create the spaces in the lines by drawing black lines over them!

Draw backdrop
Line thickness

2. Pick your sprites

We'll have 4 chickens in our game (one to run in each lane), and a car to cross the road. Scratch conveniently offers us 4 types of chicken sprites to choose from. The "Hatchling" sprite has one costume with a baby chick popping out of the egg. We'll pick that costume, and delete the egg parts to isolate the chick.

Pick sprites

3. Customize your sprites

We have to resize all of the chickens to fit within the lines, make the car smaller, and rotate the car as well so it faces the right direction. You can change the color of the car too, if you like. We chose red! Also, we can't forget, these chickens mean serious business. Let's draw eyebrows on them to indicate this.

Customize sprites

Now that we have our game properly set up, it's time to start writing code!

4. Make a chicken move

Let's start with the Hatchling. We just want it to move side-to-side, by itself, when we click the green flag. A 'move' block, 'if on edge bounce' block, and a 'forever' loop will achieve this for us. Let's set its rotation style to 'left-right' as well, or else our Hatchling will turn upside down when it bounces off an edge.

Make the chicken move

5. Make all the chickens move

All of our chickens pretty much do the same thing. We can copy code between sprites by clicking and dragging the code we want to copy over the picture of the sprite we want to copy it to. We'll give all of our chickens the same code, except each chicken will move just a little quicker than the last. The more steps we tell our chickens to move, the faster they'll go, and the harder our game will be!

Make all the chickens move

6. Control the car with the arrow keys

In order to control the car, we can use an 'if-then' block to check and see if an arrow key is pressed. If it is, we'll tell the car to point in the direction of that arrow key, and move a few steps. We have to make sure to put our 'if-then' blocks inside a 'forever' loop, so Scratch knows to always be checking if these keys are pressed. If we want our car facing the same way no matter where it moves, we can set its rotation style to 'don't rotate'.

Control the car

7. Lose condition

Our game should end if one of the chickens catches our car. Let's write in our car to check and see if it's touching any of the chickens. We can use some 'touching' sensing blocks and some 'or' operator blocks to check this. If our car is touching a chicken, we'll stop the car from moving, play some sounds, and stop the game. The 'stop other scripts in the sprite' block is responsible for stopping the car from moving. 'Scripts' is just a fancy word for code blocks.

Lose condition

8. Win condition

Now that we can lose, we must also be able to win! Let's edit our backdrop and draw a big red line on the other side of our road. In our car sprite, we'll check to see if it's touching the color of that line, and if it is, we know we've safely made it to the other side of the road. We can relish in our triumph with a positive sound effect, and then stop the game.

Win condition
Stop the game

Now our game should be functioning, so this is a good time to add some polish! We're going to animate our chickens, make our game easier to replay, and add some background music.

9. Animate chickens

We can animate any sprite using the 'next costume' block, but only if the sprite has multiple costumes, and only if those costumes make sense to animate with. This is the case with our Chick, Hen, and Rooster. We'll have them cycle through their costumes, and use a 'wait' block to control how fast we do it. We're also going to have our chickens stop moving if they catch the car; this code will go in all four chickens.

Animate chickens

10. Move car to a start position

If we lose the game, and try to play again by clicking the green flag, we'll likely lose immediately, because our car is still in the road. We can tell our car where to move when we click the green flag using its X and Y position. X and Y tell us where our sprite is in the project space. If you move your sprite, notice how the X and Y change. We'll move the car to where we want it to start, check the X and Y position, and tell it to go to that same position when we click the green flag.

Move car to start position

11. Add background music

An essential part of any game: a catchy tune to fit the mood. We can add this code in the Backdrop, since it doesn't really relate to any particular sprite. If we use a 'play sound until done' block inside of a 'forever' loop, it will keep playing our music over and over again.

As an optional final touch, we can stop the music when the player wins by using broadcasting. When we Broadcast a message, we can send a signal from one sprite to another sprite in order to trigger code. We'll create a new message, 'Win', and broadcast it when our car gets to the other side of the road. When our Backdrop receives the message, 'Win', it will stop playing the music.

Add music in Scratch
Add music to Scratch crossing the road game

Remixes for your chicken crossing the road game

We've built a pretty cool game today, but it doesn't have to stop here! There are lots of ways to improve this game and make it even more fun with Scratch coding.

1. Add chickens

If you didn't think 4 lanes was hard enough, you can always draw another backdrop with more lanes, and add sprites. What other sorts of sprites could we avoid when trying to cross the road?

2. Add levels

To make our game more interesting, we can add levels. At level one, maybe the chickens move more slowly, and our game can get extra hard as we increase in level. This is a good use case for Variables in Scratch. We could create one to say what level we're on, and another to determine how fast our chickens move.

3. Add lives

This is another great use for a Variable. These chickens can be pretty relentless; maybe the game would be more fun if we got a second chance, or even a third. You can create a Variable, 'Lives', set it to 3 when the green flag is clicked, and decrease it by 1 every time the car touches a chicken.

4. Add a ‘Game Over’ screen

Game Over screens are a great way to indicate to the player that they have in fact lost the game. You can create one by drawing another backdrop, or by painting your own sprite. In order to give the player a little hope, you can also encourage them to ‘Try Again’ on your Game Over screen.

Looking for more ideas? This page of projects on Scratch is full of Cross the Road Games, and many of them have implemented some of the ideas above. You can always remix a project in Scratch to not only look at, but also change the code. This is a great way to learn how other people build their games!

Get started on your easy cross the road game on Scratch

Today we built an easy Cross the Road game in Scratch. We used 'forever' loops, and learned about 'if-then' blocks and how to control a sprite with the arrow keys. This game also involved us drawing our own backdrop, and editing our sprite costumes. Great job!

If you thought building this game was fun, try remixing some other peoples’ projects too. And if you want to build more games like this, take a look at our beginner-friendly Accelerated Scratch class (Grades 5-9) or Scratch Ninja class (Grades 2-5), which will teach you how to take your games to the next level!

Up next, check out how to create a clicker game on Scratch for another fun tutorial.

Written by Ian Kuzmik, a Create & Learn instructor with a Bachelor's Degree in English from Tulane University. He's been teaching grades K-8 since 2019, with a focus in the subjects of ESL and Computer Science.