An obstacle, frequently a broken bridge, that prevents you from progressing to the next Adventure Town and advancing the plot further. Once this plot advancement has occurred, the bridge is fixed.
This is often a method of "Railroading", as it allows the game designers or GMs of Tabletop RPGs to follow a specific path until the plot has reached the desired point.
Not necessarily a literal bridge — the trope applies to any random obstacle that exists just to keep you from going Off the Rails. Some of the more common non-bridge examples:
Avalanche or large boulder blocks the mountain pass.
Impassable body of water, and the boat is currently unavailable.
A Locked Door blocks your path, and cannot be opened, bypassed, or destroyed until you get the proper key.
Adorable little kid asks for your help with some random task, like saving his lost brother or finding medicine for his mom. One or more of the members of your party (usually The Chick) will feel pity for him and, since they can't resist random chivalry, demand that you stop and help. If you try to leave anyway, they'll whine and stop you.
You've been declared an outlaw in a particular place, and can't return there until you've cleared your name.
You're supposed to meet an NPC in a particular place, but they either haven't arrived yet or have gone off somewhere for a brief while. They won't show up until after you've wandered around town for a while and gotten yourself into trouble.
You've commissioned an NPC to make an essential item or perform some other task for you, but they warn you that it's going to take a while. Since you can stand around for days or weeks without the requisite time passing, the time elapsed in-game is instead measured by the plot advancement.
A strong enemy that is utterly invincible against your abilities stands in your way. If you follow the plot railroad properly, then you will either get an upgrade that allows the undefeatable enemy to become beatable, someone else will come along to defeat it, or it will wander off.
If you're lucky, the removal of the Broken Bridge will logically follow from solving the Fetch Quest (i.e., the person who removes it will be the one you helped in the Fetch Quest), but many game designers aren't that devoted. Often the Fetch Quest is just a Solve the Soup Cans puzzle, and the Broken Bridge just happens to be solved independently while you're off retrieving the girl's necklace or whatever. Another logical solution is to use The Great Repair on a damaged transport.
If the heroes go off to fix the bridge, there may be villains to defeat or some plot twist revealed.
Tool used by designers to keep you on The One True Sequence. Event Flags are how they implement this. A poorly-designed Broken Bridge (from a mechanical standpoint) will often be the victim of clever gamers. Don't go crying if there's an Empty Room Psych on the other side though.
See also Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence. Border Patrol is a variant on the "impossibly strong enemy" idea mentioned above. In mythology, a similar concept is called Threshold Guardians and finally the Beef Gate for when the threshold in question can be overcome if your character(s) have become strong/skilled enough to overcome the aforementioned threshold.
While they both use monsters, Beef Gates are different in that a Beef Gate could be beaten by level grinding, skilled play, or exploits. If the monster is made of invincibility until the plot says otherwise, it's a Broken Bridge.
If something appears to be a Broken Bridge, but never actually lets you by at any point in the game, see Missing Secret. Ability Required To Proceed is a subtrope of Broken Bridge. In this case, gaining new powers serves as a way to "repair" the bridges and move forward in the game.
If a broken bridge or other obstacle prevents you from returning to earlier areas, it's a Point of No Return.
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A blizzard prevents Bill Murray from leaving Punxsutawney in the 1993 Film Groundhog Day
All sorts of obstacles (including a faked nuclear accident and a forest fire) are contrived to prevent Truman from leaving his constructed reality in The Truman Show
A literal destroyed bridge prevents Ash from escaping the woods in Evil Dead 2.
Ecstatica starts with the player entering a village only connected by a bridge, and trying to head back will result in the bridge breaking, even though in the final cutscene the bridge is restored and perfectly usable with no explanation.
In the WesternGTA clone Gun, the main character is trapped in the initial town because the only bridge over the canyon was destroyed by Native Americans and he can't progress until he undertakes a mission to protect the bridge builders from further attacks.
Legend Of Kay features a very literal broken bridge: the items you have to go get in the Fetch Quest are precisely the items needed to extend the bridge.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has a couple of interesting subversions, such as a literal Broken Bridge that will not be fixed until after you figure out how to cross over it anyway, and an NPC who can be commissioned to do something for you that, when he tells you to wait a few days for it to be done, actually means it. No plot advancement necessary. Just wait a few days, really. And you can speed this up with your ocarina. That said, the game does have some classic Broken Bridge scenarios, such as King Zora being directly in the way of getting to the third Spiritual Stone dungeon until you bring him a note from his daughter that convinces him to move out of the way, Sheik standing directly in front of the Master Sword's pedestal to prevent you from returning to the past until after you've got the Forest Medallion, various Kokiri boxing you in during the beginning of the game until plot points are fulfilled, etc.
The Groundhog Day LoopingThe Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask had a variation where a pass blocked by an rock would, if you waited for workers to clear it, only be opened after it was far too late. You had to show up with a huge bomb once you unlocked it and blast it open ahead of time.
Note that the looping three day time also meant that the time variant is averted on most occasions (whereas Ocarina just had a select few instances). When the blacksmith tells you your sword will be ready tomorrow morning, he means it; just skip time to tomorrow and it's all primed and ready.
In fact Majora's Mask is worse on this matter than just that. You want to go the Swamp? Just dandy! Wanna go to the mountains? Well you have to shoot down an icicle with an arrow (found in the swamp) that breaks the ice blocking your path. You wanna to go the beach? Well you're going to need a horse (which can only be gotten by going to the mountains to get a big enough bomb to unclog the path) to jump over a fence. Wanna go to the canyon? Get ready to write this one down. You're gonna need to find the horse to hop over fences, then ditch the horse and use the hookshot to get past a cliffside, and then, here's the kicker, use ice arrows to freeze octoroks so you can cross the river. (Fortunately, as with OoT, when you reach a new area you can learn a warp song that flies you back as often as you want.)
Similarly, at the beginning of the game you're stuck in Deku scrub form, so the guards bar you from leaving town because it's too dangerous outside the walls...until it's too late and they have bigger things to worry about. You can only pass by completing the first quest, retrieving your Ocarina of Time and escaping deku scrub form. However, even once you do this, the guards will continue to stop you from leaving town if you're in the wrong form.
In the first case, if you save and quit at the wrong time after the bridge is stolen, you will be reloaded on the wrong side of the bridge, making the game Un Winnable, as all other paths are blocked by indestructible barriers or other broken bridges at this point.
Another one happens in the Forest Temple, where Ook cuts down the central bridge with the Boomerang and you have to rescue the captive monkeys throughout the temple to cross.
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass does this right at the beginning. As soon as you're told (and allowed) to go off to the east, the bridge crumbles from an earthquake. The two people you can talk to about it say "Oh, the bridge is broken? Well, the only safe thing to do is to wait for it to be repaired, don't even think of going up north..."
While the The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games often allow minimal sequence-breaking in the form of collecting items in a dungeon, ignoring the boss, and moving on to the next dungeon, there are a few hard-wired Broken Bridges that stop this for no discernible reason. One of the most frustrating examples is an old man NPC in Oracle of Seasons who is supposed to give you a jewel used to access Tarm Ruins; for no adequately explained reason, he will refuse to speak to you if you have not collected a certain number of the game's otherwise useless MacGuffins, the Essences of Nature. This is in spite of the fact that Link's only goal in this game is to collect the Essences; there's no in-universe reason why he should need to collect them in a particular order, and there are no plot events that would be missed if the One True Sequence were broken.
Similarly, in Minish Cap, boulders, grass, and people block off all passages away from the path directly north to the castle. New areas can only be accessed once the player gets an item or skill that remove the obstacles.
The Simpsons Hit & Run inverts this trope by having the bridge blocked off at the end of the game. The final level takes place in the same area as levels 1 and 4 but part of the circuit is blocked off, leaving a direct route that most of the missions focus on going from one end to the other (and sometimes back again). The signs at the blockade indicate that the in-world reasoning is due to the current crisis.
Avoided in Scarface: The World is Yours, where the whole of Miami can be accessed by Tony from the start of the free-roaming, but plot-important missions in the later turfs cannot be accessed until preceding missions are complete.
Landstalker has the classic version of this, which you are informed of just as you leave the first town.
In the first God Of War, there's a drawbridge that works perfectly, but somebody on the other side refuses to lower it because he's afraid of all the monsters on Kratos' side. The solution? Go get Zeus' Lightning and kill him, which causes his corpse to conveniently fall on the lever that lowers the bridge.
Used a couple of times in Okami, most directly in the form of 'curse zones', which (if stumbled into) turn the background rather trippy, and slowly chip off Amaterasu's health (unless escaped from, or her 'health-bubble' runs out). There are also a couple of literal broken bridges, some of which you immediately fix.
An interesting example is the broken staircase that leads to Orochi's lair. Amaterasu must travel through a set of caves as an alternate way to reach Orochi. The interesting part is that, much later on, Amaterasu winds up traveling back in time to before the staircase was destroyed and uses it to confront Orochi again, this time without getting sidetracked.
Also there is the held up bridge at the City Checkpoint and the closed bridge in between the Commoners and Aristocratic Quarters. Funnily enough they were invented by the same person.
The Firemen has this is spades - most of the length in any given stage comes from trying to find your way around jammed or locked doors, or piles of rubble. Completely justified in this case since you are working your way through a burning chemical plant. Also lampshaded when the player character (the fire unit's chief) calls the architect out on the convoluted design, unreliable doors, and lack of fire safety measures.
StarWars Episode I: The Phantom Menace has a literal one: In the fourth level, Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and Jar Jar are only a bridge away from Theed Palace. It promptly gets blown by a Trade Federation Tank, and Obi-Wan is forced to find a way around through the Theed Gardens, where the droids are landing. The following level has this as well, when Obi-Wan and Amidala are immediately seperated from the others and are forced to take a longer route to the hanger.
Fridge Logic kicks in when you realize that Padme was already through and the "Queen" that Obi-Wan is protecting was the decoy.
Blaster Master tends to have wide maps and supposely be non-linear, but you still have to travel though the levels and beat bosses in an order because you don't have required equipments and upgrades for your tank that let allow you to traverse though levels freely.
Titan Quest fairly early on has a literal bridge that would make it possible to cross a river from the first major geographical area in the game world (Greece) into another one that you go to later... if it wasn't broken. The bridge even has some workmen pretending to be hard at work to rebuilt it whenever you talk to them.
Dungeon Siege 2 has several broken bridges (in some instances literal bridges) that either stay broken, forcing you to go the long way around, or send you on a quest to figure out how to repair the mechanism that extends them over the chasm.
In the first installment of The Legend Of Kyrandia there are several broken bridges that stop you getting to the next area until you have completed a specific thing, ranging from an actual broken bridge that is repaired by an NPC to a frozen cave mouth and several bottomless pits.
The Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney games use this in abundance during the investigation sequences. Advancing the story is typically a result of speaking with the right people. However, to ensure the game never becomes unwinnable, people tend not to appear until the player has obtained all the necessary evidence. Perhaps the most notable example is your client at the detention center, who will always initially be "away in questioning." Once you talk with the right people and gather the requisite information and evidence, however, he's finished and ready to let loose The Reveal. What a coincidence. In one case, there actually is a broken bridge that can't be crossed until the player does other things before it is fixed.
Peasant's Quest has a guard blocking the way, which requires certain conditions before he lets you up to fight the final boss (basically, three quarters of the game is to prove to this guy that you're a for-real peasant).
In Escape From Monkey Island, Guybrush is framed for a crime and stuck on Lucre Island because they give him a cursed Voodoo anklet. It would become very uncomfortable if he tried to leave.
One in Fantasy Quest takes the form of a literally broken bridge, which you eventually fix with a bow, hammer and nails.
In The Game Of The Ages, a wide desert keeps you from progressing until the plot sees fit to offer you a horse and a map.
Kings Quest I has a bridge guarded by a troll, and to cross you must find a billy goat, just like in the fairy tale. Another area is cordoned off by uncrossable water, and you have to hitch a ride from a condor to reach it.
)]]. Once you clear one of the campaign tiers, you get a message that simply says the next borough is open. Sort of makes sense, since the game also uses holo-barriers to define the corners at road intersections.
Ironically, a broken bridge at the end of Most Wanted is what allows you to escape the police at the game's final climax as you jump over it. Even so, the road with the broken bridge (the only one leading out of the city) has its own figurative Broken Bridge: being blocked off by boulders until you get a call about the bridge three minutes into the final chase.
Need For Speed: Undercover has no limitations on where you can go, allowing access to all four "boroughs" from the beginning of the game. However, since you're trying to infiltrate specific criminal organizations, races and missions are restricted to that gang's borough until you've "cleaned up" and moved on. During races, there are a number of inexplicable road dividers painting the race pathway, and casually blocking off roads for illegal street races.
In 3rd grade, you have to complete a bridge to get across a slime river, then the final activity is a bridge-building activity similar to Dominoes where the words have to have something in common with the word they are touching. (Such as synonyms or antonyms, etc)
In 4th grade, the player has to spell words to form a catwalk.
The Dominoes-esque games and Spelling Catwalks is re-used in 5th grade, along with a hanging lampshade:
Owen: "Why is it that wherever we go, we always find large pits to cross?
6th grade features building a bridge by putting plants with dates in the correct order.
Search & Solve: Later in the game, the player has to build bridges out of Tantrix tiles to form a line of one colour from one end to the next.
The Incredible Toy Store Adventure: One has to decode words on toy crocodiles so they could form a bridge.
Most of the castle in Slime Forest Adventure is blocked off by having unimportant NPCs in the way. Sometimes justified, as the NPC will be a guard who will flat-out tell you that this section of the castle is off limits. Other times, not so much, as the NPC will just be a "confused old man" who can't remember where he's going, so he just stands there, in your way.
The Call of Duty series has these in spades, as the player can't open doors and must wait for a superior officer to open them for him. It also features other variations such as minefields and 'pockets of radiation' keeping you on the Plotted Line. However, the conclusion of Call Of Duty 4 takes this to a ridiculous extreme. It's set aboard an airplane in mid-flight, and the level starts by the strike team using a cutting torch to cut a piece of the roof of the lower floor so they can drop in from above. The team then progresses across the entire plane, up the back stairs to the second level, and moves back across the plane to where the hostage is being held. It's not enough that there is a staircase leading directly here blocked by a couple of suitcases, but as it turns out, the end room of the level is directly above the start of the level. Thus, the strike team started the level in the hostage's room and cut a hole to the lower floor of the plane!
Sometimes, the plot creates broken bridges such as doors locking behind you, forcing you into a more dangerous alternate path.
Half-Life 2: Episode Two: Several examples. In the beginning, Gordon and Alyx stop in a communications shack to try to contact the headquarters of the resistance, and in the back of the shack is a "locked" door that cannot be opened for any reason, which, after the communications have taken place, mysteriously swings open on its own.
Episode Two also features a literal broken bridge, near the end of "Freeman Pontifex"; it's not otherwise an example of the trope, though, since the bridge's only relevance to the plot is that the player has to retrieve a car from the other side of it and jump (in the car) back.
Subverted in the mecha-anime-based FPS Shogo: Mobile Armor Division . At one point in the game, you need to get through a gate, and the old lady who lives in the control building stands in front of the open-lever, refusing to let you pull it until you've found her missing cat. You can solve the problem by finding her cat, yes... or you can shoot her in the head (and her enraged husband, who is no more dangerous), then pull the lever yourself. There are no story penalties for doing this, and indeed the game makes no further mention of your heinous crime at all.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky featured a literal broken bridge. Not much of an obstacle in an open-world FPS game, right? Wrong. The player character went beyond Super Drowning Skills and even touching the water with the tip of your toe meant instant death. You needed to find a guide that would lead you around it.
These take two forms in Borderlands. First, there are the area transition stages, which usually don't work until a quest unlocks them. Most of these have a Claptrap next to them who tell you that "your DNA Sequence has not been cleared for this area." In Rust Commons East, however, there are a pair of literally broken bridges (well, raised bridges, anyway) which can't be lowered until you've finished a certain part of the main quest.
Jedi Academy features a level which starts with the enemy blowing up the bridge between you two. The rest of the level is going around.
Medal of Honor: Frontline: In Eye of the Storm, the last truck you have to destroy doesn't appear until you acquire the delivery schedule. Destroying it collapses part of the scenery, creating a bridge to the next level. In Yard By Yard, you have to clear each checkpoint for the medical truck before the door to the next part of the level unlocks. In Derailed, the door to the last area and exit is locked until you blow up the fuel depot, at which point it magically opens. Allied Assault also has a few locked doors that are opened in scripted events, either by enemies or allies. In one level, your path is blocked by an impassable window until an enemy tank blows up the wall. The tank level has a number of literal broken bridges to railroad you.
In the Exeunt Omnes level of FEAR a pair of Bouncing Betty landmines blocks your path. Shooting them will only take out the fuse box and block the way again with electrical discharges, so you have use a nearby Air Vent Passageway instead and deactivate the electricity from the other side. At other times, your immediate path is blocked by security shutters, immovable furniture, insurmountable fences, jammed doors, etc.
Guild Wars has a lot of these in the factions and Nightfall campaign. Factions uses doors to stop people entering mission outposts before they have completed the primary quest leading to that outpost. Nightfall will block players from entering regions ahead of their point in the story. Both games also use doors during missions, to keep the mission area smaller than the explorable area it takes place in.
These techinques were not used in the original campaign, leading to a thriving economy of high level players getting payed by low level players for their Sequence Breaking services, such as the Droknar run which made use of a long, dangerous path which nevertheless led straight from a low level to a high level area with no story missions in the way.
In the browser-based MMORPG Travians, the hero is forever running on paths, a game mechanic that probably makes the game much easier to program (since you don't have to deal with as many possible path-finding options). However, this gets really irritating when you get to the Broken Bridges, since they're a broken cart in the middle of the path and a stick in the middle of the path... and it's obvious that the hero could just step sideways onto the grass and waltz around them. Or take the shortcut from the top of the screen to the bottom across the grassy field, avoiding the path entirely. But the game won't let you.
Only occurs a few times in zOMG, and they're mostly justified. (For example, the entrance to the The Very Definitely Final Dungeon is sealed off for most of the game because It's a whirlpool, and you'd drown without the Water-breathing blessing you get from the ruins.) Most Broken Bridges can be avoided by crewing with a player who already has completed the requirements to pass it.
The Stonewrought Pass in could be considered a subversion, as well as a variation on the Beef Gate theme. It connects the Loch Modan zone to the much higher-level Searing Gorge, but the NPC guarding it refuses to give you the key until you get to the Searing Gorge by a different, roundabout path through the Badlands, with no Alliance settlements on the way, and kill a specific monster in a secluded location there. By the time you actually get into the zone by other means, you can just pick the flightpath at Thorium Point and forget about the passage entirely. Though it was a great timesaver in Yon Olden Days before Thorium Point was introduced to the game.
She now tends to parody the former situation in that she'll still insist that you can't get through the pass until you get the key, but the gate blocking you is gone. When you mention this to her, she just shrugs and wishes you a nice death at the fangs of the colossal glass spiders on the other side.
A rather long term example existed with the path from the Eastern Plaguelands to Quel'Thalas; before the release of the first expansion it was completely blocked off by boulders. A similar situation exists at the time of this writing with the Greymane Wall gate to Gilneas which will be opened in the Cataclysm expansion.
The areas that haven't been used in-game yet tend to be this. Pre-Cataclysm, Mount Hyjal was separated by a broken rope bridge. Although, most of these actually were accessible if the players were creative enough, there just wasn't anything to do there.
Several dungeons are full of these. Grim Batol, for example, has at least four. While it sounds annoying, it's actually a very effective way to keep the dungeon linear and simple, without looking like Railroading.
City of Heroes has security gates throughout Paragon City that formerly kept characters out of hazard zones if they weren't high enough level. With the Issue 16 changes to the sidekick system, most now allow characters of any level through. Ironically, the only one that still works looks like it shouldn't: the shattered, unmanned gate that leads to The Hive, home of the Hamidon.
Wakfu has four nations, and you're meant to do the bulk of your early adventuring in the nation you first immigrate to; you're given a passport that only allows you into your own country (having in this respect somewhat reduced functionality compared to real passports), while the other three are closed to you once you've made a choice. There are routes from within your own nation to take you to the other three, but they're cannons that shoot you there, and you need to make the gunpowder yourself (which will take extensive adventuring to find ingredients, and a certain amount of level grinding to level up the proper skills high enough).
The Metroid games are usually pretty flexible, but now and then a Broken Bridge creeps in:
In Metroid: Zero Mission, if you try to explore Norfair without collecting the Power Grip, you find an invincible biological wall. The only way to destroy these things (as you had to figure out earlier) is to grab some bugs and make them eat it. There are no bugs around, so you have to go get the Power Grip instead — and when you come back, the wall is gone.
After Metroid Prime was utterly violated in its first release, Retro made some changes for future versions. Most of these were just bug fixes, but one was a blatant cheat. The Player's Choice version prevents you from getting the Plasma Beam before the Grapple Beam... by magically locking the necessary door. There's no message explaining the lock, but if you see it, you know what you were trying to do. Go get Grapple, you damn outlaw.
The Metroid Prime games can actually be pretty bad in this department. There's a lot of materials that can inconveniently only be broken by one certain weapon. There's always free side quests, but the main plot uses a lot of these.
Psychonauts has a literal Broken Bridge before the first level. In order to prevent you from wandering around camp before you even enter the first level, the bridge that connects the rest of camp with the kid's cabins area is broken, and Ford will always be "fixing it" until you happen to complete Basic Braining. There's also the lake—you need to get to one of the docks out in the water for one of the levels, but since Raz can't swim, you need to find an Oarsman's Badge in order to use a boat...
Another Broken Bridge is inside Waterloo World. You have to get a carpenter to fix it before moving your pieces across.
Though it should be said that the player can cross the rivers just fine. It's just that the level doubles as a board game, so only the pieces aren't allowed to cross them.
In Jak and Daxter, there's an island you need to get to from your hometown. There's a boat there, but you can't use it unless you talk to the right NPC after completing a mission involving him in the nearby jungle. You can try to swim, whereupon a fish eats you. There's a segment on the island set over a lagoon, and the only way around the lagoon is on your hover-bike. You can swim it too, but guess what happens then?
Then, you run-jump like the hounds of hell are nipping at your heels and don't screw up. You can actually get around doing that, if you're fast enough. (Hint, you get three steps before you fall in and get eaten)
The series was rife with these. Fixing them in 1 was Keira's job and the main reason for hunting power cells. 2 had invulnerable security walls around Haven City that you had to get the right clearance to go through; hilariously, they were just as broken for the Krimzon Guard, meaning that you could set off an alarm and watch as the KG jetbike slammed into it and exploded. 3 had an array of interesting gadgets and super powers that you needed to get before you could enter certain areas.
Moneybags in the Spyro the Dragon series. Throughout Ripto's Rage, you must pay him in order to access some bridges, portals, etc. It's the same way in Year of the Dragon, except that he goes a step further and charges you to access the other playable characters. At the end of Year of the Dragon you get a chance to get revenge and retrieve all the money he extorted from you. He only appears once in Enter the Dragonfly, and in A Hero's Tail he does not directly block you from going places, but operates a chain of item shops where you get supplies. Given the humor style of the Insomniac trilogy, this does get lampshaded during the second game.
"I've found that the elevator business is one of my most profitable... behind bridges of course."
The Feather which gives you a Double Jump, is resting on the Surface in plain sight. What blocks the path to it is a blue giant named Algol, invulnerable until you've obtained a specific item buried deep within the ruins.
Even straighter examples are the Endless Key, Pochette Key, Dragon Bone, and Crystal Skull. Unlike most other items, these give you no new abilities; their only purpose is to remove several Broken Bridges scattered across the game world.
A more literal example is a room in Hell Temple which is impassable until you figure out how to make a bridge appear. Of course, right in the middle of the bridge is a Fake Platform to fall through.
Tomba! 2 has a giant ice pig early on Kujara Ranch. It guards the entrance to Kujara summit, and he cannot be destroyed by any means... Unless you use the Fire Hammer on it.
In The Fancy Pants Adventure: World 3, the NPC variation of this trope appears in Pirate Cove. A number of enemies decide to make a pyramid to block your progress, as during that part of the game, you can only defeat enemies with Goomba Stomping or a running slide, which neither will fetter that pyramid. Instead, you have to search underwater for a pencil, used as a sword, to knock the enemies down.
In Portal 2, trying to explore areas that are not where the game is trying to railroad you into, often leads into discovering instant death triggers and invisible walls. Sometimes blatantly annoying, as the jump to the platform that kills you instantly for no reason at all might be shorter than some jumps you perform regularly while performing tests.
In Riven, there is a raised drawbridge you encounter early on with an apparent trigger button on the near side... which doesn't work until you figure out a way to turn on the steam power to the island, and by then you've managed to get to the other side by another path.
A recurring theme in the Myst series, in fact; the only way to fix a Broken Bridge is by circumventing it, and the only reason to fix a broken bridge is that you're going to be backtracking once or twice and it's nice to have a shortcut.
In Company of Heroes, several skirmish maps feature literal destroyed bridges, which can be renovated by engineers, sappers and pioneers. This process is somewhat lengthy and potentially expensive, but oftentimes the strategical advantages gained by this process can grant the player a more direct route to victory, so it's essential to start work on one side of the bridge before the enemy.
In the US campaign, however, there is a broken bridge in the truest sense of the trope, which gets blown up (alongside your supposed recon) in the opening cutscene by a remote-controlled Goliath, and forces you to make a large u-movement over another river crossing.
In Age of Empires II the first mission of the Joan of Arc campaign leaves you separated from your destination by a conveniently broken bridge, requiring a ridiculously long slog with a ludicrously tiny army.
B.C. Kings starts the game with a broken bridge, to justify a tutorial of heading to a different map and collecting resources. Once the bridge is repaired, you get to head north, build your main base, then crush the enemy.
In the first Soviet mission in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, you're in the midst of invading Washington D.C. when you come across a broken bridge. To get across, you need to train an Engineer to repair it. All in all, this broken bridge takes no more than a minute of your time to cross and isn't that big an obstacle, but it does teach the player the crucial gameplay mechanic of using engineers to repair structures and bridges.
In the second tutorial mission of Warcraft III, a Broken Bridge separates the player's orc base and the human village. The humans always finish repairing the bridge immediately after the player completes the first main quest.
Resonance of Fate takes this trope Up to Eleven. The game takes place in Basel, a tower big enough that it contains several cities, but pretty much all of the walkways are powered down so you'll have to restore them with energy hexes. Certain chokepoints or areas are blocked off with coloured hexes, required an appropriately-coloured energy hex, which of course won't be available until you're far enough into the plot.
Some side-quests in the game are even based around fixing the Broken Bridgeyness of Basel, to the tune of 'fix me a path to <place>'.
Baldur's Gate: The bridge into the eponymous city will only open once you've done some other quests.
Chrono Trigger: there is a literal Broken Bridge that is repaired as soon as you've progressed enough.
...Though the soldiers still block your way until you make a brief sidetrip to the castle.
There is also an example of a Broken Bridge mechanic in the opening scenes with Marle, when you stop for candy, Marle will constantly stop if you try and run away. If you do, this is used against you later in your kidnapping trial.
And yet again with the Haunted Castle near the end-game. It's in disrepair, so you have to get a group of guys to repair the holes in the floor. You have to repeat this several times because of the monsters that must be killed for them to progress.
The Lost Sanctum in the DS version contains a literal broken bridge in 600 A.D. that will only be completed once the Reptite Village in 65,000,000 B.C. is saved from the Archeofangs.
An irksome string of these starts in Dragon Quest VIII when you find a magic ship. It's stuck on the shoreline, and you have to go to the Trodain Castle to find out more about it. This far into the game, you might have forgotten that the bridge to the east of the castle is gone, so you must keep going past where you found the magic ship. Obviously, information on the magic ship would be in the library, but when you arrive at the castle courtyard, the front entrance of the library is blocked by impassable vines, and the side door is locked from the inside, so you have to use one of the other entrances (potentially missing the chest with a map of the castle) and find the library that way. When you find the book regarding the magic ship, a door to the Moonshadow World opens, which you can enter to ask the soon-to-be-irrelevant NPC Ishmahri for help. He attempts to cast a spell with his harp, but it breaks. You now have to find the Moonshadow Harp for him, which another previous NPC will tell you is in Ascantha. When you get there, King Pavan shows you to the vault where the harp should be, but it's been ransacked. You then need to go through the tunnel in the wall, which leads to a peninsula with the entrance to the next dungeon, a mole tunnel. Here you have to defeat Don Mole to reclaim the Moonshadow Harp, which Ishmahri will then use to carry the magic ship onto the water, finally enabling you to use it.
Also in Dragon Quest VIII, your route back to Trodain is blocked by a LITERAL broken bridge. The real irony is that one of your party members is the one who destroyed it.
In Etrian Odyssey on the first floor of the Labyrinth, a guard stands posted at the entrance to a particular area to keep you from progressing to the second floor until you wander the rest of the current floor and create a perfect map for it to prove your worth (or something to that effect), despite the fact that there must be a million maps of the first floor created by the countless other exploration groups that came before you. It should be noted that drawing your own maps of the floors as you go is half the work of the game, with the other half being the encounters you can face. Justified with almost the same quest in the sequel. The guards explain that if you can't survive long enough to draw a map of the first floor, you're guaranteed to die if you go any further.
In Fallout 2, the player character's home village is eventually wrecked by the big bad. Not that there was much to begin with. The only way into the village was on a rope bridge over a canyon. Guess what happens to that bridge.
In Fallout 3 the main route into Vault 87 is blocked by lethal radiation (and the entrance door is inoperable anyways), so the only way in is via Lamplight Caverns, which has its own set of broken bridges to solve.
In The Legend of Dragoon, a path to a house in one town needed to progress the plot is blocked by a house cat. Hopping over the cat or picking it up is entirely out of the question for our band of armored legendary heroes, and in the end the cat must be lured away by placing food nearby.
In Final Fantasy I, the main characters are trapped on one continent until they defeat Garland and save the princess. Their reward: the king finally fixes that Broken Bridge to the north. Later, you have to bring an explosive to dwarves so they can build a canal.
Parodied in 8-Bit Theater, where the the Light Warriors decide that "King Steve's Kickass Bridge" is an incredibly sucky reward for saving a princess.
In Final Fantasy IV, Mt. Hobs is blocked by a pillar of ice and Mt. Ordeals is blocked by a pillar of fire. The right spell-casting party members destroy these obstacles at the appropriate times.
In Final Fantasy V, a door in ExDeath's castle leads to upstairs. Early in World 2 you're captured, subsequently break out, and will find the door is locked. A few minutes later, you find ExDeath has erected a huge energy barrier field around the castle, and you cannot get anywhere near it. Some time later, you go through the process of disabling the barrier by climbing a huge tower, defeating an inter-dimensional wormhole, and a friend sacrifices himself. Should the party, in grief, decide to go see ExDeath right away and let him have a piece of their mind, they'll find their progress impeded by the same locked door. Later on when the party member really goes to challenge ExDeath, the door has been unlocked for no reason whatsoever.
In Final Fantasy VI you cannot enter the imperial palace because a massive robot bars your way. If you're foolish enough to fight it, you'll find you can do no damage, and your death is assured unless you run away. Justified in that the Emperor is a military dictator of a police state, and doesn't want riffraff bothering him in his home*
The use of Invincible Minor Minion is also justified: the Guardian robot is only invincible as long as its legs and chassis are standing still
Final Fantasy VII did the "commission-an-NPC-to-do-a-job-for-you" gambit — attempting to ignore Cosmo Canyon caused your vehicle to break. While you can run around on the Overworld Not To Scale without it, you can't cross the river you need to cross to head towards the next town, Nibelheim, without it, forcing you to enter Cosmo Canyon, where a man in a builder's hat will fix your buggy free of charge and only get it finished when you've finished the Backstory-important quest in the town.
In a strange case, if the buggy breaks down and you don't talk to the guy, it will magically be fixed. If you enter Cosmo Canyon willingly, the buggy never breaks down, but the same guy will offer to fix it for you!
Final Fantasy XII, which allows the player to explore a much larger and interconnected world than most previous Final Fantasies, employs this trope nearly everywhere to keep players from getting too far away from the plot. The route is blocked by tree, a "roiling mist" is too thick to pass, an Imperial edict prevents you from entering the further deserts, a ferry has mysteriously stopped working, boulders blocking, and so on. Largely averts Solve the Soup Cans, however, in that the opening up of the areas figures in neatly (if oh-so-conveniently) with the story.
Hilariously, in the International Zodiac Job System, there are several licenses on each class's grid cut off from the rest of it, requiring either a Quickening or an Esper to bridge the gap. The latter is a little problematic because an esper can only be assigned to one person at a time, and if two people need a certain esper to access one of these "floating" licenses, well...
Final Fantasy XIII features Taejin's Tower, a literal Broken Bridge connecting Gran Pulse to the highland areas of Oerba and beyond. It is some sort of space elevator/Tower of Babel thing, only the elevator cars are out of alignment and the power is cut, and there's a Beef GatePhysical God roaming around inside for players to deal with.
Kings Field II (the first one released in the US) had one or two of these in the form of NPCs who would block your way into an area (sometimes just a house, but a key item would be inside) until certain tasks were completed. Because the NPC characters were not invincible (though the significant amount of damage required to kill one and the lack of a proper death animation suggests that this vulnerability may not have been intended by the developers), ruthless players could slash their way through instead.
Lunar The Silver Star has two literal broken bridges that need NPCs to fix. Fixing the first bridge, connecting Caldor Isle to the mainland, requires a Fetch Quest. The second bridge, in Meryod, is actually broken by your party when they try to walk over its rotten planks.
In the first act of Neverwinter Nights 2, the player must go through a lengthy quest chain just to gain very limited access to the closed Blacklake District of Neverwinter (only two plot-relevant buildings). In the second act, the district is conveniently opened to everyone without the player's intervention.
Not to mention a literal broken bridge, between the starting towns and Aideo which is repaired after you get Rika, a wall of rock which you need a character to blast through, town guards that won't let you procure medicine, and numerous other examples. This game's full of them!
Pokémon is a prime abuser of this trope, using it quite often and in quite ludicrous fashion at times.
The worst is when a uniformed Mook will stand in front of a door and effectively block your way; even though he isn't any different from the other sixty Mooks you just took down.
And the fact that you can't seem to fit between two people. As if they're so fat that you can't possibly, say, crawl between their legs. Or just ask them to move.
And then there's the mandatory HMs Cut, Surf, Rock Smash, Strength, Rock Climb, Dive and Waterfall. All of them are there to cross Broken Bridges, but can only be obtained after certain plot events and (almost) always require a Gym Badge to use outside of battle.
Surf and Fly are particularly egregious. Everyone else in the game just seems to swim wherever they want, plus you can only use Fly to return to already visited locations.
You can't leave Viridian City unless you deliverOak's Parcel because the exit is blocked by an old man. In the Japanese versions he's passed out drunk. Why can't you just walk around him? In the American release he's merely grumpy and hasn't had his coffee. Amazingly, by the time you obtain the Pokédex, the man has had his coffee and will let you pass.
The guy outside Pewter City who won't let you pass until you win the Gym's badge. Although he kinda-sorta implies he's blocking the way for Brock.
On your quest to deliver a mysterious egg (because apparently a pair of old folks are too senile to tell if an egg is edible or a Pokémon egg), two trainers are in the middle of a battle and blocking the path that would lead to Violet City. Once you're done with the egg business, however, their battle has finished.
Just like in Pewter City in Gen I, a guy outside Violet city won’t let you pass until you defeat the local gym leader. Either these guys honestly have nothing to do with their time other than denying people access to the road beyond, or they are secretly being hired by the Gyms to try and bring in more competition.
The Pokémon Sudowoodo is blocking your way from Goldenrod to Ecruteak. To wake it up, you have to squirt it with water - and no, you can't get your Totodile to use Water Gun on it, you have to obtain a particular Squirt Bottle from a certain NPC. The woman won't give you the bottle until you defeat the Goldenrod Gym Leader. Why? Because it's too dangerous to give a 10-year old with mons that could destroy cars a watering can! (Think about how much damage that could do in the wrong hands!) Not to mention that, to even get to that NPC, you have to go all the way around Union Cave, Azalea Town, and Ilex Forest, plus the routes in-between. In terms of geography, that's a detour through nearly half of Johto just to get around a damn walking tree.
A man won't let you proceed to Blackthorn City by stopping you every time you try to leave Mahogany Town and trying to sell you candy. HGSS are especially bad about this. After you buy the Rage Candy Bar and try to pass, he will admit he is nothing more than a Broken Bridge and advise you to complete some Fetch Quests so he will move. The thing gets especially stupid after you beat Team Rocket in Goldenrod. Then the guy will tell you that he has no candy left, but he will keep blocking the path for no reason whatsoever until you get seven badges. (Even worse is that in the original games, you could reach Blackthorn before taking on the Rockets, and level up your Pokémon along the way. The Gym would just be blocked, though.) At least in HGSS, the Rage Candy Bar is a Key Item used for getting a TM in Kanto.
Or how about the guy in the Ice Path who complains about losing his HM and won't let you pass until you get it? He literally shoves you back if you try to go past him. And once you get it, he basically just lets you keep it and does nothing.
Don't forget when the remakes actually made an Optional Boss required. In Gold and Silver, you could just stick to the main quest and leave Ho-Oh/Lugia alone, but the remakes make it an involved mandatory part of the game.
Mt. Silver is this as well. There's a guard who won't let you in because 'Scary strong wild Pokémon live there', until after you beat the Elite Four and Champion and talk to Birch, who will then call ahead to tell them to let you through. However, the Pokémon aren't really any stronger than what you've already faced. You probably would end up on the wrong end of a Curb-Stomp Battle with Red, though, if you went in too early.
What's in Kanto really isn't that tough, but you can't go there either until you defeat the Elite Four.
At the very start of the game, your mother won't let you out of your room until you set your clock.
A Pokémaniac won't let you take the exit out of the second town that leads to the third because he's found some rare Pokémon footprints and doesn't want anyone disturbing them. He won't be finished examining the footprints until you get the Pokédex. Amusingly, it turns out that they're his footprints.
A sandstorm prevents you from taking a shortcut through the Impassable Desert and catching some useful Pokémon until you get some goggles.
If you reach the Seafloor Cavern before you obtain the Dive HM, a Team Aqua grunt will tell you to mess around with Team Magma, even if you already did.
Random people block your way for no legitimate reason. Route 212 is blocked from the northern side, even after you've beaten Hearthome City's Gym. And they disappear once you reach Pastoria. All this does is make you take a longer path. No badges, no special events, nothing.
Route 210 is blocked by a group Psyduck, which you could defeat easily, but instead you have to get a Secret Potion because they have headaches. (Then again, with other Pokémon media's implication of what happens when a Psyduck gets a headache, they'd probably curbstomp you. That or there's just a metric ton of them.)
A man next to route 222 won't let you pass because of a blackout in Sunyshore City until after you've beaten the Big Bad. (Slightly justified by the fact that it would have shut down the gym.)
In Platinum, a battle is blocking the entrance to Canalave City if you manage to Surf there before picking up the HM from Celestic Town.
Also in Platinum, after you escape from the Distortion World, you're placed outside the entrance to Turnback Cave. Cynthia just happens to be standing in front of the entrance, and will remain standing there until you defeat her at the Pokémon League.
When trying to exit Opelucid City from the east before defeating the final plot portion, a man stops you and says something like "Something came up, the road's blocked. Turn back." It's like they just gave up.
Also, if you try and get to Opelucid before going back to Relic Castle, your path will be blocked by two Plasma Grunts who talk to each other about how they're currently doing things at Relic Castle.
If you try to leave Nimbasa City in any direction other than south, two guards will stop you and say that the bridge is being checked. Elesa has to use some political muscle to lower the Driftveil Bridge so you can head onward once you've bested her.
If you try to enter Pinwheel Forest to head to Castelia City before fighting Lenora, you will be walled off by more Plasma Grunts. Also serves as Foreshadowing, as they steal the Dragon Skull once you've defeated Lenora, and not a moment sooner.
You can't enter Chargestone Cave outside of Driftveil City until you've beaten Clay and gotten the badge. There's a Galvantula nest in the cave mouth, and it's only after you beat him that he'll show up with his Krokorok to take it out.
The roadblocks do feel particularly egregious in Gen V. In earlier games much of the limit on your progression was due to terrain obstacles that required an HM, so a Pokemon could get you past them, but in Black and White there's only one point early in the game where you need an HM. Instead there's a ragtag of random reasons to limit your progress. Oh, and some of the earlier games gave you a fair bit of choice in the order you tackled things in, for example in Gold and Silver you can choose which of Mahogany Town or Olivine City to visit first. Black and White keep you strictly and obviously on-rails, due to the map itself being more linear than previous games.
Since they use mostly the same map as Black and White, but have you access areas in a different order, there are a lot of extremely lame excuses to prevent you from accessing certain areas. At one point your progress is blocked by a line-up of random dancing fat men, who lampshade the whole thing by stating that they're there for no reason at all and will eventually leave, also for no reason.
Not too far from the line of fat men, the road to Nimbasa City is blocked by a random line of boulders. And just in case you were wondering, there's even a worker nearby that explains that they can't be moved with HM Strength for whatever reason.
At one point, entering a new town cuts off your path back out by having an elevator break.
You're actually allowed to enter Chargestone Cave this time before you fight Clay... However, you can only access a part of the first floor; the rest of it will be blocked off by Bianca and a random worker until you get the Quake Badge.
Of the five bridges in Unova, three of them are inaccessible until postgame: Skyarrow Bridge is undergoing the aforementioned inspection, Marvelous Bridge is under maintenance, and Tubeline Bridge is in the middle of a social experiment to see how many people can fit on it.
Another pair of Plasma Grunts block off the Giant Chasm while having a conversation about the group meeting up at Route 21, which is a clue to get you to return to Seaside Cave and use the Colress Machine that you got a short while back to get a Crustle to move out of the way and open the path to where the Plasma Frigate is docked. That's a Broken Bridge inside another Broken Bridge, and a reference to an earlier Broken Bridge.
In Suikoden II, there is a block on the Matilda Kingdom because the leader is being a Jerkass. However, if you push on the block, you can go from Muse to Matilda at level 7, and, with enough luck and skill, gain Humphrey and Futch out of sequence.
, there's an area about two feet away from the starting town. When you visit it, the main character remarks that he has no reason to be here and just immediately leaves. You visit it later as a reasonably high-leveled dungeon, but the character never shies away from random places at any other time in the game. Justified since that dungeon is the sight of some serious trauma for the game's main characters. I doubt Reid and Faraha would want to visit the place that led to the destruction of their town, the death of their parents, and the release of the Goddess Nereid, the driving force behind the plot.
Tales Of Rebirth plays the broken bridge scenario for laughs. The Dark Wings decide to destroy the game's first bridge, to stop Veigue and co. and show their mightiness. Which is pretty mean and evil... until the bridgebuilders show up and get pissed off because of it. They force the Dark Wings to fix the bridge themselves. You still have to take the long detour to get to the city over the bridge, but at least you know those responsible for it are being properly punished (the bridge eventually gets completed and saves a lot of walking later).
Earthbound will put everything and its mother in your way, including policemen, rocks, ghosts, timid cactus people, even a traffic jam in the middle of the desert. And let's not forget inexplicably placed statues. However, to its credit, it lampshades it liberally. The police force in Onett repeatedly talk about how their claim to fame is that they are constantly erecting road blocks, to the point where they don't actually bother to deal with real crimes. They actually do have a broken bridge in Peaceful Rest Valley when you arrive. Guess what gets repaired by the time you've rescued Paula?
Mother3 often uses the Ultimate Chimera, a boss that instantly kills you without even entering the battle screen. Also the following, in a few places: "There are ants at your feet. If you go any further you might step on them." The ants are not even visible, and they're just gone by the time you're supposed to go to those places.
The computer RPG Arcanum Of Steamworks And Magick Obscura uses this (sort of) to get past the first town you visit. To cross rivers while walking on the world map, you generally have to use bridges marked on the map. The first town is in a triangle enclosed by two merging rivers and a mountain range. The only bridge is blocked by a group of thugs demanding a toll; you have to pay, fight (hard) or talk (also hard) your way past them to continue on.
Official Hamster Republic Role Playing Game Creation Engine
game Wandering Hamster, there are rocks blocking the path out of town until you talk to James. These are explicitly referred to as "Plot Boulders." If you look at them before you talk to James, there will be a message saying you must do so. If you then talk to James, he denies they ever existed. Yeah, it's that kind of game.
Grandia II had you attempt to get across a massive crevasse via a Sky Rail which won't depart until you had saved the town from the curse of food not having any taste.
Realms Of Arkania: Star Trail half-follows this trope. You can murder a local in Gashok to gain a couple powerful weapons, but if you don't clear your name, bad things will happen: you'll be lynched if you stay the night in any inn, and trying to enter or leave will require you to fight past half a dozen armed guards.
In Super Mario RPG, Bowser's Keep is rendered inaccessible by a literal broken bridge, which cannot be crossed until the end of the game.
Parasite Eve has a few broken bridges. One example is when Aya goes to the basement of the hospital, Eve cuts the cables on the elevator Aya is in and to make sure Aya stays stuck, Eve slashes the power cables to shut off the power to the building so that the other elevator won't work and some of the doors are sealed due to no power. If that wasn't bad enough, trying to take the stairs will make Eve come and collapse them. You'll spend a good portion of your time looking for fuses and card keys before you can go back upstairs.
In Persona 3, several floors throughout Tartarus act as dead ends which halt progress through the dungeon, but each becomes a regular floor after the relevant plot-related events occur. While not necessary to advance in the game, in The Very Definitely Final Dungeon of Persona 2, there's a section of the dungeon that holds a valuable item. Unfortunately for you the door is guarded by a powerful demon called Ahzi Dahaka, which is invincible against ALL attacks, even almighty (!!). The only (and vaguely hinted upon) way to make it killable is to equip Faeriedone on an active party member, and then attempt to fight it. Faeriedone and the enemy have a conversation, which berserks the character who summoned Faeriedone but makes the Ahzi Dahaka vulnerable to attack. It becomes a Boss in Mook Clothing (though rare encounter) soon after you beat it.
In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, there's a bridge that will remain broken (they're fixing it as fast as they can, honest!) until you talk to the Sledge Bros. who will charge you with getting a Hoohoo block so that they can make the Mario Bros. a pair of hammers. In fact it is more than that. You have to speak to a few certain NPCs, as well as witness Fawful block your path with a stone statue that you need the hammers to break (the Sledge Bros. aren't even home until this happens). There's also a broken bridge, both literal and in the form of large stone barriers, in Beanbean Castle Town, that blocks access to the eastern half of town until you clear Chucklehuck Woods.
Ahriman's Prophecy: Problem: the bridge isn't actually broken. There's someone standing on it, but you can just walk around them. The person disappears after you rescue the princess anyway, thus proving it isn't intentional.
There's a Broken Bridge done differently — a drawbridge is raised, and the guy who would gladly lower it for you...is cursed so now he's...a tree. Not like you were going that way anyways, because the villains you were chasing were at the place you need to go to cure the guy's curse anyways.
A cuter example of a "broken bridge": "There are puppies playing here. Let's not disturb them." (or words to that effect)
There's also a a literal broken bridge that prevents you from accessing an area you'll reach by an incredibly roundabout way too early. The bridge is repaired once you reach it.
An aversion after you cross the inland sea. You can literally reach the final town before going through all the relevant plot. It's not easy, though.
Carver's Camp in Dark Dawn takes this to literal extremes. The bridge to Bilibin has been severely damaged (as in, the middle plants are missing), and repairs are suspended due to the Vortex nearby. Carver uses a Lumberjack Bridge variant to catapult across the gap and away from the Vortex, but nothing significant comes of it. Sadly, you never get to see the bridge repaired, as the Konpa Ruins get blockaded off once you're through them and Border Town is on lockdown due to armistice. The game has too many to count, but that stands out in particular.
Played with in Fable II, where there is a broken bridge destroyed by bandits. However, instead of finding an important plot point, you easily just dive into the water that the bridge was over and take a detour through a dungeon full of hobbes. Also, before completing the first quest, the road to Bowerstone is blocked by guards, as it has been overrun by Bandits.
Goombella: "There's a guy like this in every town, huh? If there weren't, you'd go wherever you want and beat the game so fast... Hee hee! Never mind. Let's never speak of it again.."
Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals (pictured above) has a lot of these. The first five or six towns are connected by warp shrines; each time, something prevents you from moving on until the next quest is done: locked door, broken bridge, royal permission...
Magi-Nation featured this in the Game Boy Color game, where the bridge in question needs to be built. In order to do that, you must first obtain a specific Dream Creature, which essentially means seeking them out and beating up enough of them to get enough randomly-acquired animite to have someone forge it. Once you get it, the bridge can be built... and collapses immediately afterwards. Some bridge.
One of the quests in the PC adventure game Darkstone involves a literal broken bridge. It becomes necessary for the resolution of the quest for your character to reach Bartaman's Island, which is accessed only by a small broken bridge. There's a man wandering around with an axe who is willing to work in exchange for food. You have to steal a fish out of a fisherman's basket and give it to the man, who will then repair the bridge for you.
Mega Man Battle Network uses this a lot. Sometimes it's justified, sometimes it's not, and sometimes you can only stare in wonder at the lunacy. An example of the last is in the sixth game, Central Area 3. The hub of that game's internet with direct access to every other net area except the Undernet. Sky area is blocked by a cloud, ACDC area is blocked by a guy behind a desk asking for a pass, Green area is blocked by a tree, and Seaside area is blocked by a puddle from a leaky pipe.
Though the leaky pipe is fixed after you beat Blastman.EXE the first time, Mick finds a penguin and brings it to the school in the game, and you have to find a plumber navi to fix the pipe so you can find out about the penguin.
Nothing can justify the fact that the guy who asks for the pass later turns out to be papier-mache. DIGITAL papier-mache. You could have walked right by at any time.
A few justified ones. In 3, the second most powerful figure roaming the net, first after you beat the game but that could be debated, is roaming around the undernet when you need to go there, and when you get near the place you are heading to, the figure is close by and the amount of energy he pours out of himself breaks part of the net that he is near, and that net was already implied to be unstable.
In Secret Of Mana, the hero is banished from his hometown after pulling the Mana Sword from its resting place, as this action is seen to have brought disaster own the town; in other places, further progress is blocked until you have found the correct weapon (the Axe to chop down rocks and the Whip to jump gaps that have poles on either end).
Why did he pull the sword out, you ask? He needed it to clear away some Insurmountable Waist Height Shrubs, of course.
In Seiken Densetsu 3, as soon as you get the Booskaboo (by which point you'll have four out of eight elementals), you're told where the remaining four elementals are. You can get Undine and Salamando in either order, but a bush blocks your path to Luna for no apparent reason until you get those two. And a giant flower blocks the path to Dryad, which can only be removed by using Luna.
Simultaneously parodied, lampshaded and averted in The Witcher. At one point in the game, there is a literal Broken Bridge that you cannot cross. Geralt (the player character) points out that the bridge is over a stream that doesn't look very dangerous - it should be crossed very easily without a bridge. Lastly, while you can complete a quest for the craftsman who is supposed to repair the bridge, the repair will not be completed for several more months - you, the player, never get to see what is on the other side, because you leave quite soon anyway.
Shows up in Xenogears, where the completely impassible obstacle is... a child's stuffed animal. The characters immediately declare that they must find the child and get her to move it, otherwise they'll never be able to pass. To add insult to injury said "stuffed animal" is actually a sentient creature that is capable of speaking and understanding human speech and yet just decided to remain in front of the door despite people wanting to get in for no apparent reason.
Ys VI opens with Adol on Quatera Island, which used to have a bridge to nearby Canaan Island before it was sabotaged. The only way to Canaan is through an underground tunnel; the bridge isn't rebuilt until much later in the game, becoming a Door To Before. In a bit of a relief from "Sorry, you have to wait here, and don't think about going via X", nobody knows about the tunnel until the game's first boss smashes through the wall in front of it.
Ys V has a similar Bridge to Before that doesn't get fixed until you've been to the other side the long way.
In Ys III, your passage through Valestine Castle is blocked by a statue that later becomes a boss; you must find the Bracelet first to pass.
The first game has invisible doors that require the Mask of Eyes (which has the side effect of making enemies invisible) to pass through. Another "broken bridge" in II isn't really broken, but you must first rescue the bridgekeeper's son before he'll lower it.
Enchanted Arms is a notable subversion: Early in the quest, a general blows the hell out of a bridge which you need to cross. In a Crowning Moment of Awesome for the game's designers, the epic quest you have to undertake to bypass this obstacle is walking down to the riverbank and swimming across. The game does feature legitimate Broken Bridge-type scenarios, but this one subversion makes them all worth it.
There is a drawbridge in the middle of Palm Brinks. It remains raised all during Chapter 1, blocking you from the other half of the town. However, in Chapter 2 it is lowered, and it is never raised again for any reason.
Furthermore, the train tracks just past the stations in Chapters 2, 3, and 4 are either blocked by boulders or broken, preventing the train from going to the next Chapter's area. The train's crew works on repairing the track while you explore the dungeon, rebuild the future, and defeat the boss. Coincidentally, they finish fixing the track right after you do everything that needs to be done in that area.
Destiny Of An Emperor: Somewhat lampshaded in the NES RPG. In the town of Bo Hai, half of the town is initially blocked off from the party by a woman who is standing in the path and pining for a man named Xu Zhe. When you recruit him and bring him to her, she'll snap out of her funk, and will suddenly realize that she is blocking the only path through town (apparently for the first time!) Then she'll apologize and allow you to pass. (Amusingly enough, if you leave the town afterward and come back in again, there she is, pining, until you bring Xu Zhe to her again. Short memory?)
In Albion, a guard is blocking the entrance to the office of the local mining town's leader, only saying You shall not pass! You won't get pass him until you need to speak to the leader directly.
Played for laughs and only explained after it's opened in Digimon World DS. Almost all of the Digital World can be reached through a warp in front of the main building of the Hub Level. The only exception requires the player to pass through the Chaotic Gate, which is the inconspicuous piece of floor a plot-important NPC was standing on which you're unlikely to have realised by this point was a warp.
A less amusing variant is from Digimon World 3. The bridge to Amaterasu City is guarded by a squad of Knightmon which can't be beaten by any attack unless you show them the relevant passes.
Dawn and Dusk use these in the form of walls of data, used to prevent you going too far off the main path if the mission only requires you to explore part of a zone, or to make sure you don't gain access to parts of the game you shouldn't be able to access yet when using the warps.
Though, even after you completely beat the game several data walls will remain in the Data Zone. That's propably because it would connect all the areas and turn it into a gargantuan maze.
There is also a Starmon in the Coliseum that blocks the way to a teleporter, saying that it's forbidden to unauthorized person. You actually never get the permission to use it, and Starmon will not let you pass even after completely beating the game.
In Mass Effect 2 you start in the same system as the Omega 4 relay, which leads to the Collectors' base. However, unlike other relays, you don't have the option to jump through since you are informed that no non-Collector ship that passed through the relay ever returned and thus presumably your crew won't cross it until they have a better idea of what's on the other side. This turns out to be a wise decision since the aforementioned base turns out to be in the Galactic Center. You remain unable to cross the relay until you aquire a piece of technology that allows the Normandy to use it without being sent flying into a black hole.
In Dragon Age: Origins, there's a literal broken bridge in the Deep Roads that never gets fixed because it's possible to just go around it. There are also several paths that are blocked by fences, barriers, rubble, locked doors, and NPCs with arbitrary reasons, until some sort of advancement in the plot. Most of the reasons make at least some sense, such as "you must obtain permission/a key to come here". Some, however, are completely ridiculous. During the first Denerim plot it is impossible to enter the Alienage because a riot is being put down. The same guard who stops you the first time will then cheerfully let you through during the second Denerim plot, even though this time round there is an outbreak of plague and the king is secretly selling its citizens as slaves.
Skies Of Arcadia has pretty standard broken bridges in terms of RPG mechanics. What makes them noteworthy is the design of the game itself; as a game taking place on a World in the Sky that gives you a Global Airship at the start of the game just to get around, the bridges are obviously going to be a little more visually unique than other games. Sky rifts (hurricane force wind paths that essentially form mid-air walls) and stone reefs (Asteroid Thickets in the form of floating walls) are the two main types. Upgrades received over the course of the game that allow you to bypass these bridges include a ship-sized Harpoon Gun, an engine strong enough to punch through the winds, and altitude modifications that allow you to travel through the top of the stratosphere.
Ecco The Dolphin has barrier glyphs, which force you to retrieve the correct password song before you can get through. Without it, they'll repel you and the message will read "YOU MAY NOT PASS YET".
Parodied in the spanish RPG Maker game The Bad Guy, where the it takes "exploring the forest, killing the boss and going back to the bridge" in time to repair it
Freelancer first prevents you from leaving the New York system by not giving you the access codes to the Jump Gates. You can travel to the California, Colorado and Texas systems after clearing the third mission; however, you can't travel to the rest of the Sirius sector until you clear the fifth mission, only to declare you an outlaw in Liberty until you clear the game. In addition, you must also be above a certain level in order to be able to get a job at some bases, thus rendering many systems accessible but useless.
Because the majority of Assassin's Creed takes place inside a computer interpretation of Desmond's ancestral memories that requires Desmond to complete one set of memories to unlock others, areas that cannot be accessed are simply blocked off by transparent walls of DNA memory codes. Although never stated outright in the game, it's implied that, because Desmond's ancestor did not go to the part of the city at that particular time, there are no memories to fill in the city.
In some of the alternate canon 'Snake Tales' of Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance, the game map is round, so there should be two routes to each sector. At least one of the missions sees the game regularly close the door leading to the quick route to force the player to go the long way.
Clock Tower 3 uses what is possibly the most flimsy broken bridge of all. This LetsPlay describes it quite well. Alyssa is a girl who was violently pulled through time by magic, and ends up in London during World War II in the middle of a bombing run. She then runs towards a concert hall, but can't enter because a flyer on the door says "Entry by invitation only. The Management." Let me reiterate. Bombs are going off in the streets. She has seen no one besides ghosts. There is no magic seal or anything on the door. And she still won't enter because she doesn't have an invitation.
In Resident Evil 0 and Resident Evil 4 broken bridges actually force you to keep going. Though Leon needed to go on I'm sure Billy and Rebecca would have rather got out of the freaky leech filled mansion. RE 4 is also notorious for breaking bridges behind Leon, thereby preventing the player from returning to previous areas. Most notable are the bridge out of the village, the castle drawbridge, and the boat ride with Ada.
In Resident Evil Code Veronica, there is one room protected by a metal detector, and to enter you must place your metal items in a box that is not connected to any of the normal item boxes. Don't leave anything behind, such as the fire extinguisher, which is required to fix another (semi-optional) broken bridge later, or they will be Lost Forever when you pass the Point of No Return. Same with any items you are carrying when you play as Claire for the last time.
Final Fantasy Tactics A2 opens up new areas as you progress through the story missions. While the mission in question is fair deal (for instance dealing with the bandits blocking the way), you can only get the mission after you got far enough in the story. Additionally, most regions also contain hidden subzones that only become accessible after you do the right mission, often also spawning a sudden surge of new quests that involve the area. Oh, and there is a literal Broken Bridge, too, but it's just a shortcut and not mandatory.
In Tsukihime, you'll sometimes find yourself unable to avoid death on a given day. Why? Because of something you did one or two days earlier; if you'd acted differently then, you'd get a choice now. Sometimes there's a clear connection, but not always. For instance, a certain battle in Ciel's route can only be won if Shiki keeps his glasses on and tries to make peace — but if he misbehaved the day before, he's simply not offered this choice. Fortunately, the hint corner usually helps.
Fate/stay night has some of these situations too. In each route, there's an event where you'll be killed if you don't have enough points with the heroine. In the cases of Rin and Sakura, it's not at all obvious that this is the reason — and in Rin's case, the Tiger Dojo chooses that moment to be very unhelpful (albeit hilarious), turning into a parody of radio advice shows.
Grand Theft Auto III prevents you from heading to the other boroughs of the city before you're supposed to with the oh-so-popular Broken Bridge (the first is blown up by your starting escape, but the subway is out, too.). Of course, once you complete the required missions, it's fixed. There are ways to circumvent this, but since the other boroughs aren't "activated" until the bridge (and later the subway) is fixed, they're empty save for traffic and thus completely pointless.
Grand Theft Auto Vice City also prevents you from reaching the west island by issuing a storm warning, causing every bridge to be closed. Once you finish the required missions, the storm warning is mysteriously repealed. *
Again, numerous tricks are known to get over nonetheless. This time it's very useful.
Grand Theft Auto San Andreas has a series of broken (or closed) bridges that block you from the rest of the state, initially from an earthquake warning. It is possible to cross over by swimming, but your wanted meter immediately shoots up to four stars, and won't go down until you're dead. Or, alternatively, get back to territory you can legitimately access, and lower your wanted rating normally; getting out is just as hard as getting in. *
Inverted later in the game; there's a period of time where you are basically banished from Los Santos and receive a wanted level for trying to return.
Grand Theft Auto Liberty City Stories handles this a bit better; as a prequel to GTA 3, it's set when the bridge and tunnel are under construction, and the ferry workers — about to be put out of a job — are on strike. It's still essentially the same trope, but the issue is worked into the plot, with the Mafia manipulating the union throughout the strike. Also, the timing isn't quite as nicely convenient as usual; there are still several feet missing from the bridge when you first cross it, forcing you to make a daring stunt jump to lose the police.
Grand Theft Auto 4 handles this very simply; at the beginning of the game, the Mayor has raised the terror alert to "Magenta", or some such colour, and the bridges are closed as a result. You can run the blockade, but you get an instant 6 star rating for your trouble. This is (slightly) handwaved in-story as Niko is an illegal immigrant. Johnny and Luis, the stars of the DLC, are Americans and are under no restriction even though Niko is at the same canonical point in time.
Thankfully avoided in Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars - you can cross any bridge to any island at any time. (Though the cops are still called if you pass without paying a toll bridge.)
In Red Faction: Guerrilla, you are prevented from reaching the final sector (Eos) because the only way to reach it is through the Free Fire Zone. The name is pretty self-explanatory. A large part of the storyline missions involve finding a way through it.
In Famous strands Cole on the island of Neon, part of Empire City, where he fights Reapers. A certain amount of plot later, and he's stranded in the Warrens, where he fights Dust Men. Then he helps repair the bridge between the two, and can travel freely between them. And so can the Dust Men and Reapers. A few missions from then on involve the two factions fighting for dominance.
Subverted slightly in this game as well. Like many wide-open sandbox games, Empire City is made up of three islands connected by damaged or raised bridges, which get repaired or lowered as the player progresses. A very early mission has Cole try to storm the main bridge to the mainland which isn't broken - it's just blocked by a wall of automatic guns he has no chance of getting past. If you try to go back to the bridge afterwards you'll find it's completely closed off. Justified because the entire city is under quarantine, with the water surrounding the city mined and patrolled by the Navy.
A more subtle example is the use of power outages in sections of the city. While Cole can technically go to these places, he has no source of recharging himself and is quickly killed.
Crackdown and its sequel, unusually for sandbox games, subvert this. All three islands are accessible from the start and the player is free to complete any of the game's main objectives in any order they choose. The restriction comes from the fact that the enemies are tougher on the second island and even tougher on the third, and the player will not have the skills or the weapons to take them on. In addition, the buildings get higher on each island, so lower level players won't be able to climb them.
Averted for Prototype, as the bridge is never broken, but anyone who tries to cross it during quarantine will get a massive missile strike rained down on them. Surprisingly however despite the amount of missiles, the bridge cannot be damaged.
Attempting to cross over before the quarantine comes into full effect just results in an obvious invisible wall at a certain point of every bridge. The game even tries to discourage exiting via bridge progressively, such as stalling the camera's position at a certain point, disabling gliding and air-dash, etc.
The Godfather thankfully averts this. While at the beginning the game is clearly set up like GTA in a section-after-section of the city way, after some poking around the player can very quickly discover that they can get to any point on the map even at the start of the game. Played regrettably straight in the sequel, however. A surly ticket agent refuses to speak with you until you've beaten Carmine Rosato, only after which you can go to Florida. There is a similar issue with Cuba. Furthermore, some fronts just don't register on the map until a certain point in the plot is reached.
Red Dead Redemption has literal broken bridges that prevent you from accessing areas of the game (Mexico, West Elizabeth) before you've completed missions that unlock those areas.
Homestuck features a literal broken bridge on this page. It's presumably there to prevent the player from facing their final boss too early, though Terezi has another plan to engage in a bit of Sequence Breaking.
...demonstrating that sometimes the broken bridge is there for a reason.
In Problem Sleuth, doors are frequently blocked by gigantic stone busts of Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller, and Snoop Dogg for no apparent reason.
In Kid Radd, at one point the title character and two others are traversing an RPG called Mofo. They discuss skipping a good deal of the game, which is meant to build their characters up for the ending; they themselves don't need/can't use the extra levelling. Naturally, they run into a literal broken bridge, and have to spend several hours questing just to get past it.
College Saga parodies this (and many other tropes): "A huge chair blocks your path." The chair is regular sized, made of plastic, and could be walked around if the heroes would walk on grass.