This is subversion of the control the developers have on the players. Basically, the player finds ways to play the game that the developers and designers did not intend. In extreme cases, this can involve using normal game mechanics in some insane manner that the developers did not foresee, such as taking advantage of enemy spawn points to rack up extra lives through drops/point allotted extra lives, and effectively achieve infinite lives. (When an element is intentionally
fudged in the player's favor, it's an Anti-Frustration Feature
will use this constantly. "Stop Having Fun" Guys
are as likely to use Fake Skill
as they are to complain about it, albeit for very different reasons.
Contrast Fake Difficulty
, caused by control or other design problems.
- In plenty of platform games, it's possible to gain two or more extra lives in a single level, commit suicide, restart the level, gain 2-3 more lives, commit suicide again... basically the platform equivalent of grinding/powerleveling.
- Twinking (exploiting the help of a higher-level character) in MMORPGs is the very essence of this.
- Exploiting Mercy Invincibility to use Spikes of Doom as a platform, especially if if leads to a shortcut or normally inaccessible area.
- Scrolling enemies off the screen to make them disappear. One example is Hard Man's stage in Mega Man 3: scrolling the bees offscreen is such a time-honoured trick that the hint mode in later releases* actually suggests it to you.
- Sequence Breaking in general falls under Alternative Skill, though it can fall under true Fake Skill at times.
Examples from specific games:
- Parodied in 3D Dot Game Heroes' Spelunker mode. Dashing into a wall results in a fake death....and deliberately exploitable invincibility frames.
- In Shank, when using the dual pistols, you can block to reset the pistol firing animation, allowing you to skip the time-consuming reloading animation.
- I Wanna Be The Guy has the Kraidgeif glitch, which was deliberately left in (though not intentionally programmed). Though it WAS tweaked to require shot counting and perfect timing or a lot of luck.
- Using the one-frame save or numerous warp glitches on Impossible.
- Roguelikes have Final Death: once a character dies, its save files are automatically nuked... but Save Scumming by backing up the files is easy. A couple of games catalog deaths and will erase a character that already died, making reloading a bit more difficult. (Dungeon Crawl turns the dead into 'bones' files, however, that can be looted by lower-level characters.)
- Blaster Master had the grenade + pause bug that killed the bosses in the certain dungeons.
- Street Fighter IV has Zangief's Tornado Piledriver, a powerful, high-priority move that had previously been offset by the difficulty of using it, due to its 'full circle' command - but now, easily mapped to a shoulder-button. Thus, the hard boss and harder challenges were easily overcome by continuously Piledrivering with Zangief.
- Softtouch from Spelunker HD.
- Exploiting the pause button glitch in Mega Man 1, which allowed you to deal damage multiple times with a single shot, especially with Elec Man's power.
- Predictably, many players in table top roleplaying and war games will find certain builds which require little to no thought in game play - but are extremely powerful. Some of these players come up with it themselves, while others just look them up on the web. The Game Master or opponent has several options - talk it over with the player on the grounds of sportsmanship, let the player realize how boring being a Boring Invincible Hero can be, nerf the offending ability, give the player a dose of his own cheese, live with it, or ask the player to move on. Or, well, Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies.
- Secret missions in Devil May Cry series are usually crafted for testing a certain skill, like jumping, precise aiming or avoiding damage. However, many of them can be easily passed by using some legitimate ability that was not indented to be used in that mission. Examples include:
- Using a certain weapon's special ability to fly over a timed Temporary Platform path.
- In a mission that requires you to kill a group of Puppeteer Parasites before they can take over a regular foe, you can grab the escorted creature and carry it to a place the enemies can't reach.
- DMC3 and DMC4 also have the infamous "Jump-Canceling" technique For more skilled players which involves pulling off air and ground combos, jumping off of the enemy (Therefore reseting the combo) and rinsing and repeating the technique allowing you to keep the Style Counter and combo going without immediately dropping.
- In Spyro the Dragon 2, the level Breeze Harbor had an easy-to-pull off glitch that allows Spyro to swim through the air, making it simple to just swim over the entire level. It's also possible to use the glitch to skip a difficult task that involves riding a hard-to-control cart and collecting gears, since you can simply swim through the track, collect the gears, and have it register and give you the orb.
- "Spawn Trapping" in competitive shooters. By exploiting bad level design, one team can win by preventing the other from ever advancing out of their spawn area. This is very noticeable in places like Call of Duty: Black Ops's Demolition mode (where both teams have two fixed spawn points and is the source of the infamous 500+ kills video) and Battlfield: Bad Company 2 (which makes the area around the other team's spawn point a soft-kill zone, but there are often terrain features that allow restricted lines of fire and blind corners ripe for camping).
- Team Fortress 2 ingeniously implemented counters to this strategy, such as Spies (Who can leave the spawn unnoticed and take down the campers) and Ubercharges (which let the "besieged" take the enemy down while invulnerable).
- Ratchet And Clank Future Tools Of Destruction. Hoo, boy. Combining Jump Physics, Good Bad Bugs, and a little Dungeon Bypass know-how, the Razor Claws become the ultimate in fake skill. They allow a player to not only climb walls, but essentially FLY IN MIDAIR by boost jumping with the heli-pak. The details are a bit much to explain, but the tricks are easy enough to pull off to keep this out of the Alternative Skill range, as all a player needs to do is know how a level is shaped/designed (which you probably do know, unless you plan on doing this the first time you ever play through the game), climb over a wall, and glide to the end, or walk over the entire level's ceiling.
- Jet Set Willy had a sequence break available with a trip to the game's version of Minus World; if you travel out of a room in a way the game hadn't anticipated (e.g. right through an impassable wall, or up through an unreachable ceiling, etc), it warps you straight to Room 0 in the room table, "The Off Licence". Given the difficulty of traversing "The Bridge", "The Drive" and "At the Foot of the MegaTree", compared with the ease of reaching the ceilings in "The Watch Tower" and "Rescue Esmerelda", this is by far the easiest way to get there.
- DJMAX Technika's way of handling chain notes and tap notes is very loose.
- Each point of a chain note is counted as a separate note, and you're only scored for how well you time each segment. As such, you can actually tap individual points of chain notes instead of dragging them. This normally qualifies as an Alternative Skill, although there are some segments where tapping can be easier (and less blister-inducing) than dragging the notes, such the zigzag chain notes in charts like Fury (Hard) and A.I. (Hard).
- The game does not distinguish between tapping a note to trigger it and dragging your finger from some other lane onto the note to do so. As such, you can drag individual tap notes as long as they are not on the same lane, which makes charts like Voyage (Normal), Airwave (Hard), and Thor (Hard) easier.
- Touhou has Marisa B's Illusion Laser Glitch on Mountain of Faith. The only thing you had to do to pull it off is to have Marisa's Illusion Laser formation in a power level between 3 and 3.95 and play unfocused. In exchange, you could practically skip all spell cards that were not survival-oriented. Then again, Imperishable Night granted us Malice Cannon, which consisted on just tapping the focus button to alternate between Alice and Marisa, yet it dealt devastating damage to anything it touched.
- Exploiting the Wreaking Havok physics in Banjo-Kazooie Nuts And Bolts to fly. To do this, find one vehicle parts crate, put it on your trolley, then pick up the trolley with your wrench. The player can lift himself up by his bootstraps and get a lot of rare parts early.
- Any limit break in Final Fantasy VIII could be accessed by keeping your HP low and repeatedly hitting the O button though this may have been intentional. What's clearly not intentional is abusing this with Selphie's limit break then opening up the cover of the Playstation which causes the game to go into a pause like loop where you continued to scroll through her normally random skills until you got one you wanted. Considering 'The End' even worked on bosses it made the entire game pointlessly easy.
- Final Fantasy Tactics has the AIs reaction to confused enemies. Basically, the AI will never attack a confused character if they cannot kill that character in one or two hits. Under normal circumstances, this is a good idea. However, in the Self Imposed Challenges allowing only one character (out of the usual five), this can be a fatal flaw. Basically a single character has no allies to accidently attack, and if they have enough health, they will never be attacked in retaliation. Oh, and did we mention that most of the hardest bosses in the game can cause confusion?
- The glitch in the Maka Wuhu track in Mario Kart 7. After reaching the first checkpoint, players discovered by driving off the cliff on the right side by the mouth of the cave and falling at a certain angle, they could trick the game into being placed back on track miles ahead of everyone else by the castle area (the distance between the 1st checkpoint and the castle is at least 1/4th of the track's length). This exploit was soon used by nearly everyone online and in time trials, so unless you did the same thing, you would never win. As of May 2012, Nintendo has patched the exploit in the online modes.
- Sonic is an absolute magnet for this trope. Tricks, glitches and physics can be mastered in almost every game in the Blue Blur's series to speed through levels.
- Sonic 3 & Knuckles often employs the use special glitches to get one character into another's level (Lava Reef Act 2 comes to mind) and skipping platforming segments and bosses. (The Lava Reef Act 2 glitch is mainly to get Sonic to finish the level from Knuckles' version of the level's exit. Why? Because Knuckles doesn't even have a boss in this level.)
- Sonic Unleashed has become a bit famous for these sorts of tricks, such as tricking the game into not transitioning to 2D and combining other skills to trick the physics engine into letting Sonic keep his maximum speed.
- Infinite Flutter in Super Mario Galaxy 2, especially for gathering Green Stars.
- Players who learned to reliably master certain jumps in Super Mario 64 almost required this at times, what with the way the camera randomly jerks from one angle to another one 150 degrees offset from it.
- Using Wall Jumps in Super Mario 64 to get to the top of the castle, especially if done before 120 stars are gotten.
- Repeated again in Super Mario 64 DS, technically with all the characters, but easiest done with Luigi. With a bit of practice it is possible to exploit a character's special skills to make their way to the top of the castle even without obtaining all the possible stars first (for example, Luigi's hovering jumps that can be done backwards to climb up the slopes to the left of the castle). Luigi is particularly beneficial in addition to easier due to the fact one of the rabbits he can collect is hidden at the top of the castle.
- Leg Sweeps on SNK Boss targets that are vulnerable to them.
- SNK even admits that their notorious "SNK Boss Syndrome" is designed to root out Fake Skill. Once you find the one trap a boss is susceptible to (it can be a lot of things, but they all have that one key to their downfall) they crumble, albeit anti-climatically.
- Using the 2 Player B mode trick in Double Dragon 2, though only to an extent. It only gives you a few extra lives and you get attacked by more enemies throughout as a result of having picked one of the two-player modes.
- There are a number of examples in the Metroid games (some covered under Sequence Breaking). One of the best is the dash-jump in Metroid Prime; intended for dodging, it turned out to be incredibly useful for platforming. Its most dramatic use was in getting the Space Jump immediately after landing on Tallon IV, which breaks the game wide open. The rereleases made this trick harder (though not quite impossible), and the dash was Nerfed somewhat in the sequels.
- Snaking in Mario Kart DS. It does give you an advantage, but most of the time, it's easier to memorize the circuit than learn to snake. Most people snaked in the game when it came to online so you had to do it as well if you wanted to have a shot at winning.
- It should be noted, however, that snaking was a feature deliberately implemented into MKDS (and before that, F-Zero GX) by the developers with the intention of having players "discover" this technique (by no means an easy feat), so make of that what you will.
- Similarly in Mario Kart Wii, popping a wheelie with bikes. The mechanic of the wheelie is you get more speed while being hit slows you down greatly as a trade off. The mechanic was intended to be used on long and straight roads, but people started to pop wheelies anywhere as long as they weren't turning a corner. This resulted in everyone flocking towards bikes and abusing the wheelie mechanic, which put karts in the dust since their mini turbos weren't powerful enough to keep up with bikers that popped wheelies everywhere. This is probably the reason why bikes were not included for Mario Kart 7.
- There's also a sort of meta-strategy that's used online to avoid the dreaded Blue Shells by abusing how the mechanics of that item works. They always target the player in first, so in games where you can check what items other players are carrying, players in first who see someone that has it will deliberately brake and let the player behind them pass and take the hit. If there's no one else nearby, then people will often choose to jump into a nearby pit instead, since you can at least get a quick speed boost after getting placed back on a track, but getting hit by a shell takes much longer to recover from. It's unlikely that the developers intended for the item to cause players to go to such lengths to avoid it.
- People who get the infamous item also began to use another trick with it by never using it at all. Since Mario Kart DS and 7 lets you see what item everyone is carrying, people will try to do everything they can to make sure they are not the target of the spiny shell. However, a player that holds onto the shell instead will have control over the race since he can use it at any time he wants and the others know of it, turning the entire pack into a game of cat and mouse.
- Skilled DOOM and DOOM 2 players used Strafe Running and Wall Strafe Running. The former allowed for a 44% increase in speed when running diagonally, the latter allowed for an over 300% boost if done just right along a wall.
- Using the infamous Prehistoric "Tower/Prophet" turtle in Empire Earth. For the most part, the strategy is perfectly legit, except for the fact that it exploits the finiteness of food in the prehistoric epoch and the fact that prophets start off already at pretty much full power in the prehistoric epoch, versus other units that start off weak.
- Using the checkpoint dash tactic in Mass Effect 2.
- In the Touhou games, several patterns have safe spots where you can sit without fear of getting hit. Safe spots that are generally barely larger than your hitbox and entirely unmarked.
- Forgiveness "Honest Man's Death" can be cleared in one of two different ways. The relatively simple method involving minimal movement to avoid a simple laser, or nausea inducing circle around the boss that, technically speaking, bypasses most of the difficulty.
- The Infinity feature in some official Tetris games, which allows you to move or rotate a piece as many times as you want while it is on the stack or floor before locking it in place. Careful planning is still needed to be able to, for instance, max out the score, but Infinity gives you as much time as needed.
- Tetrisfriends.com uses the SRS rotation system, which allows the player to pull off T-Spins, which in turn are ways of filling a row with a T block that could not be slid in under normal circumstances. Tetrisfriends also implements a back-to-back bonus system (which rewards for pulling off Tetrises or T Spins the same maneuver twice in a row), as well as a combo system for clearing several lines one after the other with each tetromino that falls down. By planning out all moves carefully, one can reach ludicrous highscores in Marathon mode by manipulating these bonuses. As a result, the top twenty or so of the All Time Top 100 are playthroughs that used very few doubles/triples... and 0 Tetrises. In a game bearing the official logo of Tetris. (Explanation: A Tetris does score more points than a 4 line clear combo, but a tetris deducts 12 lines from the maximum lines you can score before clearing a Marathon. 4 lines in quick succession do not deduct bonus lines, and T-Spin Triples have a better score/line deduction ratio)
- One early test chamber in Portal has a way to bypass all of the puzzles in it and go directly to the exit. According to the Commentary Mode, this act of Sequence Breaking was only discovered during one of the later gameplay test passes, and that normally they would have adjusted the level to prevent it. However, they left it in because they had to admit that being able to figure out how to do it arguably requires a better understanding of portal techniques than that level was trying to teach. However, the advanced version of this chamber removed the shortcut, since they made changes to the rest of the chamber to make it harder.
- Having trouble getting the right times in Left 4 Dead's Survival mode? As most of the survival maps are just portions of a campaign, and the devs were apparently too lazy to delete the rest of the map, it is entirely possible to get OUT of the survival area and hole up in a place where the zombies aren't coded to look for you. This can take many tries to get right, and frequently involves an understanding of how the physics engine works.
- Mortal Kombat 9 has the teleport-spam and projectile spam methods of beating Shao Kahn. They don't count as True Fake Skill only because they aren't 100% effective and one needs to watch for his super armor to activate, at which point one needs to evade him at a moment's notice.
- There are quite a few in World Of Goo, the most notable being ball bouncing/throwing. Note that the devs were aware of this at least by some point in development, as these skills are required for achieving some of the OCD challenges.
- In Halo: Reach, it is possible to use the exit animation on the forklift to clip through certain walls, skipping difficult segments of the game.
- In the Starcraft Protoss Campaign mission 5, it's possible to win in under 5 minutes by using hallucinate to make illusion clones of a transport ship, load Tassadar and the two zealots into the real one, and then fly them straight to the Zerg base-defended beacon they're supposed to be unloaded at to win the mission.
- Similarily, in Starcraft Brood Wars, the Terran campaign mission 6, it's possible to win even without landing your buildings, by simply loading the siege tanks you're provided with at the beginning and flying them up to the corner of the map and let them rain destruction on the command center you're supposed to go through a base to destroy.
- This Warcraft III faq details a very advanced strategy to win the final mission of the base game's campaign. Normally, you have to survive the onslaught of the relatively overpowered enemy for 45 minutes while they attack and destroy you and your two allies bases in succession. This is completely feasible as you have plenty of resources available, some free mercenaries, and can of course construct your own defences inside their bases to turtle the 45 minutes out. The faq's strategy however, involves exploiting the fact that when the enemy razes one of the bases, it destroys its old one completely and replaces the razed base with a new one. This is done by knocking down the trees around the first base, hiding lots of siege weaponry and some flying units there, taking out the human main building thus triggering the base raze and replace, followed by knocking down the new buildings with the hidden units while using Crowd Control units to keep the superoverpowered enemy heroes from interfering. Once you've kept them from getting their new base up, the only way to lose is to destroy one of the remaining bases yourself.
- In Diddy Kong Racing, the characters are balanced with high acceleration/maneuverability and low top speed on one extreme, and the polar opposite on the other. However, it turns out that tapping the accelerate button rapidly lets one ignore the top speed limitation, effectively turning the former types into masters of all three. It's a common strategy for beating the more difficult races without switching to an innately faster but harder to control character.
- Many God Of War games feature a way to jump infinitely high (generally by alternating aerial attacks that change your momentum), allowing you to escape most fight and Sequence Break to various extents by jumping over the fight walls or through the ceiling. In Ghost Of Sparta, for example, throwing a spear and then blocking while in mid-air allows Kratos to jump again in mid-air, repeat ad nauseum; this trick can be picked up with some practice (itself an example of Alternate Fake Skill), and is an effective method of bypassing the really tough fights since you can attack constantly while flying out of enemy reach, but requires another Fake Skill in judging which criteria are necessary for causing the next zone to load correctly (since the game doesn't always load the next zone until it needs to).
- Combos in Street Fighter II. An Ascended Glitch that takes the game to an entirely new level.
- By timing repeated jumps perfectly in Half-Life games, Gordon can accelerate to ridiculous speeds and leap hundreds of feet through the air. This physics-engine oddity is, of course, constantly exploited in Speed Runs.
- PAYDAY The Heist has a few strategies that the developers did not foresee players using:
- Being released from police custody puts you back in the game with full health and ammo (sometimes you come back with half of your max ammo instead). On Overkill1 145+ difficulty, players who are low on health and/or ammo may deliberately go down and be captured in order to be exchanged later on and get a free health and ammo refill, which saves the use of the limited ammo and doctor bags.
- The ARG event that went on for a short time forced players to play on Overkill 145+ and wait two hours to gain access to a secret vault. Rather than fight the cops normally, players chose to hide inside small alcoves within the walls, which caused the enemy AI to get confused and/or stuck, but still allowed a few cops to trickle in and attack. Since players had to send video footage of their attempt at the vault to the developers, the developers did take notice of the exploit and stated it was fair game since the players were still at risk of being attacked by the cops.
- In Prototype, the various Events, save the timed race ones, required you to kill a certain amount of enemies in a specific time period in order to achieve a better medal. The game advertises that you should target the ones marked on our minimap, but any member of the targeted faction (military or infected) is a valid target. As it is quite impossible to achieve gold and platinum without exploiting this, the claim is likely intentionally misleading to force the player to think outside the box. However, they probably didn't take into account that any tanks you've stolen still count as valid military targets even if no one is driving them, allowing you to park several in a row for military missions and artificially inflate your score a good fifty points, making the medals trivial to earn.
Examples within fiction:
- A non-game example exists in a Light Novel (and Anime, by extension) Sword Art Online. One of characters, Kirito, has a unique skill <<Dual Blades>> from the game Sword Art Online. When he got out of the game and started playing another game called Alfheim Online, he lost the skill but managed to use it by chaining one-handed abilities with each of his hand, controlling both of his hands separately by using muscle memory and calculating his skill use timing with the skill cooldowns. It was not supposed to happen at all, but he does have the excuse of having the best reflexes in Sword Art Online (which is why he got the aforementioned unique ability) and had to learn how to fight efficiently due to being a solo player.
- Another example is him using the blade his character got during its creation in Gun Gale Online (another thing that was not supposed to happen) to deflect bullets shot by other characters with help of their own targeting markers. After returning to Alfheim Online, he started using his blades to deflect spells as well.
- A different non-game example exists in a Light Novel (and Anime/Manga as well) Accel World and is called <<Incarnate System>>. It is part of the system itself, but not part of the game but rather something placed in the layer above it; using it allows the one who learned it to move faster, make themselves impervious to damage done without using <<Incarnate System>>, dealing damage that can only be stopped with <<Incarnate System>>, and augmenting their various abilities beyond their usual limits, all of it without any in-game cost. It is however considered a Dangerous Forbidden Technique (because overusing it changes players' characters noticeably) and thus only known by a handful of players because it is unlikely for any player to learn to use it on his own and those who know it don't want others to use it unless it's strictly necessary.
- In the Star Trek novel The Kobayashi Maru, a young Scotty faces the famous "unbeatable" simulation and uses a trick like this to do much better than he should. He employs a battle tactic* which mathematically should work, but doesn't in practice (as Scotty knows full well since he was the one who tested it). The admiral in charge of the test, not amused by this cheeky solution, boots Scotty out of the command stream... and into pure engineering, which they both know is what he really wants anyway.