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Gameplay and Story Segregation
"I like games where the story and gameplay go hand-in-hand, while in most JRPGs, story and gameplay are kept on either side of a wrought-iron fence made of TIGERS."

This occurs whenever there is inconsistency in how things work or behave between the gameplay and storyline sections of a video game, the latter of which generally consists primarily of cutscenes and dialogue. While this is generally forgivable due to technological limitations, egregious instances can result in the shattering of the player's Willing Suspension of Disbelief. Typically, it's done to try and make a more interesting game, since simply getting a One-Hit Kill all the time like in that cutscene would be utterly boring, while having a person who can't open doors like in that last cutscene would make the game needlessly frustrating. Accordingly, it's sometimes excused by Acceptable Breaks from Reality, but by no stretch does that justification cover all of the flat-out weird mismatches perpetrated by game makers over the years.

Since large-scale cutscenes and extensive dialogue have only been present in games the last twenty years or so, gameplay and story segregation is far more prevalent from the 16-bit era onwards, especially ones in which the storyline is a focal point of the game.

The technical term for this is "ludonarrative dissonance", a term coined by Clint Hocking (a former employee of LucasArts). "Ludonarrative" is the portion of the story told through the gameplay ("ludo" comes from the Latin word meaning "play" or "game"), so ludonarrative dissonance is when there are logical inconsistencies between what is conveyed through the gameplay and what is conveyed through the story, or when the gameplay is presenting one message while the story is presenting another.

Gameplay and story segregation is the more egregious half of the Sliding Scale of Gameplay and Story Integration. See that article for common templates and examples from the opposite side of the scale: gameplay and story integration.

Forms of Gameplay and Story Segregation include:

  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit
    Arbitrary requirement that stops you from having too many characters in a party or unit.
    • Lazy Backup
      If you're only allowed three out of eighteen party members, and those three are killed, you get a Game Over even though the rest are still alive.
  • Commonplace Rare
    When a seemingly common item takes an excessive amount of effort to acquire.
  • Cutscene Incompetence
    The character can destroy giant monsters in battle, but in cutscenes, they're just normal.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max
    The character is incredibly powerful, but only in cutscenes; in gameplay, their stats are about average.
  • Day Old Legend
    Even though you just made that item using the crafting system, its flavor text gives it several hundred years' worth of backstory.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?
    You may have saved the world or completed impossible quests, but that won't stop you from being given extremely meager quests and generally treated like crap.
  • Fight Like A Card Player
    The story has almost nothing to do with cards, but a lot of the gameplay revolves around them.
  • Follow the Plotted Line
    You somehow always end up where the plot says you should be, no matter how little sense it makes that you should be there.
  • Improbable Power Discrepancy
    Enemies in RPGs are given statistics based on how powerful you are expected to be at that point, not how strong that enemy would be based on common sense.
  • Irrelevant Sidequest
    In RPGs, people have an alarming tendency to entrust powerful items to random strangers for doing the most mundane of things, and regardless of whether the stranger has any meaningful level of skill at the random thing in question.
  • Menu Time Lockout
    The inventory menu allows you to pause the game and change your armor and weaponry to immediate effect in the middle of a battle.
  • Overrated And Underleveled
    A character introduced as being really powerful ends up, statistics-wise, as being weaker than the main character.
  • Plot Coupon That Does Something
    A form of aversion of this trope, where a story important item also influences the gameplay.
  • Plotline Death
    All cutscene deaths are final; your "revive" spells and items won't work here. Nor will you be revived if you have extra lives left.
  • Redemption Demotion
    Upon defeat, a villain joins the party considerably weaker than in the previous struggle. The weakening of the villain is not explained, rational, or justified.
  • Schrödinger's Player Character
    The game offers multiple characters to choose from with various backstories, but only the character you choose as your PC ever appears in the game.
  • Selective Condemnation
    The slaughter of a single NPC is a tragedy; the slaughter of one thousand mooks is a statistic.
  • Separate, But Identical/Cosmetically Different Sides
    In strategy games, some sub-factions are said to be different in composition, outlook etc., but ultimately only differ in their color palette.
  • Simultaneous Warning And Action
    Enemy NPCs will always attack you, even when they yell things that indicate they're going to arrest you.
  • Solve the Soup Cans
    A puzzle with bizarre and disconnected elements included in a game purely to serve as an obstacle to the player.
  • Space Compression
    Lores and tales of the world tell about the history of large cities in the size of small villages and vast lands which can be crossed within minutes on foot.
  • Statistically Speaking
    No matter how high your strength, speed, etc. goes, you still will not be able to do certain mundane things, like moving that chair out of your way. It must be glued to the floor.
  • Story Overwrite
    When the storyline ignores, overwrites or retcons one of the player's in-game accomplishments.
  • Take Your Time
    You can take as long as you want to finish your sidequests, and that world destroying meteor will just hang in the sky till you're done.
  • Took a Shortcut
    You spent all that time going through the dungeon and beating all the puzzles, so how the heck did those NPCs get here first?
  • Underrated And Overleveled
    A character whom the plot provides no reason to be particularly strong turns out to be quite powerful in statistical terms when they join your party.
  • Video Game Lives
    If mentioned in the plot, death is treated as permanent.
  • Video Game Time
    Fake use of a time scale means that empires rise and fall in the time it takes to take the trash out.
  • Timed Mission
    When a mission is timed without presenting any reason for it in the story.
    • Always Close
      The cutscenes that follow a timed mission don't reflect the actual amount of time the player had left to complete it; they always treat it as if the player escaped at the very last second.
  • You Have Researched Breathing
    You have to research things that have no logical reason to even need to be learned.

See also RPG Anime and New Rules as the Plot Demands.


Examples of gameplay and story segregation:

    open/close all folders 

    Action Adventure 
  • In Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, you start off with one character and can get one of three partners to join you, or finish the game solo. If you have a partner and sign up a new one, the old one leaves. It is also impossible to encounter all three characters during a single playthrough (without a cheat code, anyway). Yet, according to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Trevor fought Dracula with the help of all three of his allies.
  • In Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, for pretty much for the entire first half of the game, you get warned about how having Jonathan or any other non-Belmont use the true power of the Vampire Killer will drain their life force and eventually kill them if they overuse it. But when you do actually unlock its power in game, you can whip it all day long with absolutely no consequences whatsoever. Justified, as it takes longer than the events of the game for the user's life force to be drained.
  • Tomb Raider III: The leader of the Damned, men left horribly disfigured by resident Vain Mad Scientist Sophia Leigh, claims that he and his men are immortal, and even attempting suicide doesn't work. Yet Lara can lay waste to them using her weakest weapon in-game.
  • Tomb Raider (2013):
    • Throughout much of the first half of the game the story implies that Lara is hanging on and only surviving the hell she's being put through by the skin of her teeth, while the first time she kills another human being is a quite traumatizing event. It's not until around the time of her escape through the shanty town after rescuing her friends that Lara decides she's had enough and actively starts taking the fight to the Solarii. Actual gameplay, however, glosses over Lara's reaction to killing, and she subsequently slaughters mooks by the hundreds after the first time she picks up a gun. The player will also blast their way without effort through encounters that Lara claims to have only barely survived.
    • Some of Lara's equipment upgrades stretch the Willing Suspension of Disbelief to its breaking point. Sure, duct taping two clips for a machine gun together so you can reload faster is completely plausible in Lara's circumstances, but turning a WWII-era Japanese Type-100 submachine gun into a frelling AK-47 with nothing but a couple spare parts? Many of the upgrades Lara is able to cobble together at camp from random bits of scrap and parts taken from animals she hunts (bow strings or wrapping the limbs with sinew? Believable. A silencer for a Colt Model 1911? Not so much). would require not only specialized equipment but machining skills as well. Handwaved by Rule of Fun, but still pretty egregious.
  • In the Lego The Lord of the Rings game, it repeats Gimili's "You'll have to toss me - don't tell the elf." part during the Battle Of Helm's Deep, which is all well and good... expect for the fact that throwing Gimili is a gameplay mechanic (you even defeat a boss using it), and by that point Gimili has most likely been thrown all over the place by all manner of characters.
  • Lampshaded in the auction minigame of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. If you lose the auction, you may leave the room and re-enter it immediately, at which point the auction will begin afresh. The auctioneer's preamble will then begin: "Today's lot is... a treasure chart. Yes, this is exactly the same treasure chart we had last time, but for some reason, Anton, who won the auction, has decided to return it."

    Action Game 

    Adventure Game 
  • Woodruff And The Schnibble Of Azimuth: Using the Discerning Formula on the three cup man makes Woodruff realize that the man is cheating, and how he does it. However, up until that point, it is completely possible to win against him by abuse of Save Scumming, which shouldn't be possible if he was actually cheating.

    Beat Em Up 
  • Streets of Rage 3 starts with a cutscene where the five characters decide to shake up the mooks for information. After a few levels of assaulting mooks by yourself, everyone else appears for another cutscene and says "This is useless. No-one told us anything." How could they? I just kicked the crap out of anyone who came close. And where the hell have you been, anyway?
  • In the arcade version of Double Dragon 3, there is a third Lee brother named Sonny, plus three different sibling teams consisting of three brothers each (the Chin, Oyama, and Urquidez brothers). However, only Billy and Jimmy are shown in the opening and ending, and only a single member of each of the other sibling teams are shown in the ending.
  • In Final Fight, you can beat the final boss Belger with any of the three characters or with two characters in the 2 player mode, and the character that gives the final blow (that can be a simple punch or a special move) will throw Belger through the window. However, in Final Fight 2, it is revealed that Cody was one who rescued Jessica and threw Belger out with an uppercut (the final move of his combo). Also, no mook is seen lying on the ground, despite the fact that you fight truckloads of them while fighting Belger.

    Fighting Game 
All fighting games fall under this trope to some degree. Due to balancing, no character (except maybe a SNK Boss) is as powerful or weak as the storyline says they should be.
  • Street Fighter:
    • The special moves "Hadouken" (Surging Fist), "Shoryuken" (Rising Dragon Punch), and "Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku" (Hurricane Kick) are moves with the potential to severely injure opponents (Ryu's Shoryuken left Sagat heavily scarred, for example, although that particular incident was exceptional). These moves are toned-down versions of the original "murderous techniques" (which Gouki/Akuma uses and Gouken knows) that can actually kill an opponent (the "Gou Hadoken", "Gou Shoryuken", and the "Tatsumaki Zanku Kyaku"). Since it would obviously be unfair to make any move lethal, all of this is heavily toned down in the games itself. The canonical power of the moves limits their frequency in anime versions, promoting the Hadouken (for example) from "something Ryu routinely throws out fifty times in two minutes" to "final, fight-ending strike of destiny".
    • Lampshaded by the "Shin (True) Shoryuken". It's a massive, destructive super, a good indication of the kind of damage the technique does when the gloves come off.
    • The infamous scarring Shoryuken deserves special mention, as it not only struck one of the least vulnerable parts of the human body (especially for a massive bruiser like Sagat), judging by the length of the scar, it didn't even connect solidly. Sagat would be in considerable pain but shouldn't have been defeated at that moment. In Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, where Ryu's fight with Sagat is seen in the opening, Sagat isn't defeated by the Shoryuken; he charges at Ryu in a rage, prompting Ryu to charge up a Hadoken to finish him.
    • It's worth noting that while they're fairly weak from Street Fighter II onwards, in the first game, the special moves were very powerful, with a successful hit knocking a third of an opponent's health off. Each hit was also rated from one to three stars, and this acted as a damage multiplier; it was entirely possible to one-shot someone with ridiculous luck.
    • Akuma's Shun Goku Satsu attack only seems to kill opponents in the story. This indirectly led to one of the most surreal moments in the series. In the special ending for Street Fighter III 2nd Impact, Gill (who'd just been SGS-ed by Akuma) does his Resurrection. In other words, an attack that doesn't actually kill, but did in that particular instance, was foiled by a power that doesn't actually allow one to return from the dead, but did in that particular instance.
    • Dhalsim and Oro are very powerful according to the storyline. However, that power doesn't translate into gameplay unless a person really knows how to control them. Nobody got it worse than Oni; at least the original Akuma used to be a terror, and even the watered-down playable version had a truckload of combos and a withering pressure game. Oni, supposedly Akuma's ultimate form, has only a few effective combos, does piffling damage, and takes about 50% more damage than anyone else. In his debut.
  • WWE games with career modes fall victim to this. Your status as a face or heel is solely dependent on the choices you make during storyline cutscenes, meaning your actual behavior in the ring is entirely irrelevant. For example, you may play your matches dirty, doing things such as using weapons, removing turnbuckle pads, delivering low bows, and taking advantage of the Easily-Distracted Referee, but as long as you make the corresponding decisions during cutscenes, the game will act as if you're a straight-up face. Some games will penalize you by taking away momentum (the stuff that lets you perform special moves) for using tactics that don't match your alignment. However, you can still do them at any time, and the storyline will never acknowledge it. Though losing momentum, especially considering the sheer amount that you lose, is a pretty powerful deterrent to breaking type. Unless it's a complete mismatch, you need those finishers.
    • WWE career modes every now and then like to have you beat an opponent, and then have them get back up and pin your wrestler in the following cutscene, or some such thing. It should be a normal part of kayfabe, except that you're then stuck with a real loss that goes on your wrestler's statistics record, even though you put in the effort of winning the friggin' match. In the later games, particularly the Smackdown vs. Raw series, the losing cutscene has a requisite that's actually easier than winning a match of that type (cover for a 2-count, set a ladder anywhere pretty close to the belt and climb, etc.). Afterward, the game will say that you lost, but you get the normal reward for a win and the loss isn't counted in your stats; at worst, it's a no-contest. Weird league, weird trope, weird gaming moments.
  • In BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger, no matter how many times you activate Ragna's Blood Kain in gameplay, it doesn't count in the story until a certain cutscene in the True Ending. And no matter how hard you lay the curbstomping on Hazama/Terumi in Arcade Mode, he is still just warming up.
  • In Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, after a game of Let's You and Him Fight Superman and Raiden finally put aside their differences, realize there's a greater enemy to face, and turn, together, to fight Dark Khan in unison. You then proceed to fight him alone, your ally having mysteriously vanished without a word of explanation.
  • Dissidia: Final Fantasy:
    • In the cutscene before the final battle, all ten of the heroes line up in front of Chaos to fight him. You then proceed into a three-round, one-on-one battle. Somewhat mitigated in the sequel/prequel, when you enter the battle with four more party members that can take your initial character's place if/when they die, plus one Assist Character, who is chosen at random from the remaining five heroes.
    • In the final chapter of Scenario 013 in 012, the boss cutscenes show the Chaos's warriors being challenged and after a battle being defeated by their Cosmos counterparts. Despite this, you can challenge them with any character and you'll still see the cutscenes. In the first game, this was averted; you had to have the character relating to the boss to get both cutscenes, which means you'd have to memorize who's in what chapter and do it multiple times with each character.
    • During gameplay, the Emperor's ground Flare is a painfully slow, homing projectile, yet in Chapter 4 of the 12th cycle in Dissidia 012, he fires one at Yuna during a cutscene that flies out much faster than usual. If that's how the Flares worked gameplay-wise, the Emperor would easily be one of the most broken characters in the game.
  • In the Soul Series, one can unlock the Soul Edge as a weapon for any character. It may have a negative effect like random stats or depleting your HP, but it does not drive you crazy unless your character actually uses it in a cutscene. In some endgame cutscenes, it's possible to watch your character use their Soul Edge that you unlocked to destroy the Soul Edge dropped by the final enemy; or throw their Soul Edge away, pick up the other, and get corrupted.
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • Vicious killing moves as the main attraction, yet nearly everyone shows up alive and well by the next game.
    • In Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, Scorpion and Sub-Zero are unlockable as player characters in the Story Mode. Unfortunately, neither of them actually has a storyline and the game just acts as if you're playing as default protagonists Liu Kang and Kung Lao, even when you're fighting Boss Battles against Sub-Zero and Scorpion. The DLC characters in Mortal Kombat 9 play a similar role. While they all have Arcade Ladder endings, none of them contribute to the canonical story (Skarlet cameos in crowds a few times, Kenshi is called to fight at the end of one of the chapters but never directly seen, Rain is given a background cameo in The Cathedral stage, Guest Fighters Kratos and Freddy Krueger add nothing at all to the plot).
  • Dragon Ball Z games:
    • Averted rather oddly in Dragon Ball Z Budokai 3 with Yamcha. Likely as a Shout-Out to his death in the manga, and a similar death in the story mode, Yamcha is programmed to die instantly during a fight if a Saibamen opponent manages to use its Suicide Attack on him regardless of his health, while every other fighter will survive it if they have enough health. This is also the only attack in the game which will instantly kill the person it was used on like it did in the anime.
    • A recurring factor in any game that has a story mode is that you have to play through most of the fights that happen in the series. The issue is that it's entirely possible that the difficulty won't match what "should" happen: your character should be able to win the fight in their sleep, but it's infuriatingly difficult, only to then continue on like nothing happened; alternately, you win a fight in 13 seconds with a "PERFECT!" rating, only to immediately view a cutscene with your character on the edge of death and the enemy wondering "Is that all?"
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle follows the manga so closely that similar to the Yamcha example above, if two characters use story-specific moves against each other, they will play out as they did, such as Dio's steamroller being countered by Jotaro's time-stop.
  • Any time the Gundam franchise has been put into a fighting game (such as Battle Assault or the Gundam Vs Series) this has happened, as weapons that shredded enemy mecha in a single hit in the anime will now simply do a healthy amount of damage. Weapons like Wing Zero's twin buster riflenote , the Double X's twin satellite cannonnote  or the Turn A Gundam's Moonlight Butterflynote  are not only survivable, but can be completely blocked by a mundane shield. The Vs. Series does attempt to retain some semblance of anime-accuracy with its built-in Character Tiers, which makes it so that Mooks like the Zaku II have fewer Hit Points and weaker attacks than protagonist-piloted Gundams, but can respawn more often. However, even low-tier machines can be devastating in the right hands, which is itself true to the franchise's roots; just ask Bernard "Bernie" Wiseman.

    First Person Shooter 
  • The 1998 PC game Si N has this in spades. A number of bizarre gameplay elements include: the main character (John Blade) being turned into a half-naked mutant late in the game, then being changed back to his original human self, weapons, armor, and all; not being able to walk into a testing facility early on because you have police attire on, but the moment you switch into a work uniform, the few employees at the building won't recognize who you are; the opening two levels revolve around an unsuccessful heist to retrieve a document, but if the player finds the item wanted by the terrorist, it is simply an empty envelope that doesn't factor into the rest of the story; walking into a building and being captured, even if you have full health and enough ammunition to waste its entire group of occupants; falling into a trap door in a random room at a secret base that only serves to dump you into a meat cart for the final boss battle, and many other minor infractions.
  • In Metroid Prime 3, Samus must ultimately find at least 7 Galactic Federation energy batteries in order to activate enough doors on a wrecked cruiser to get a code that unlocks the last area of the game. However, she's working for the Galactic Federation. And at the end of the game, they're waiting on her to do this. Surely, she could just let them know that she needs a few batteries. No, she must scour the landscape of four worlds for batteries from Federation installations, crashed ships, and the like.
  • Halo:
    • All the weapons are much more lethal in the books. The plasma pistol melts huge holes in flesh and can kill anything in one hit, and the needler does exactly what one would expect a weapon that fires exploding glass to do. In the actual game, though, they're the two weakest weapons; the plasma pistol is only good against shields and the needler only becomes a real threat if you shoot out half a clip. Gameplay-wise, even a standard marine or grunt can take plasma pistol and needler shots to the face and not be all that harmed by it.
    • Master Chief can dive from the stratosphere in cutscenes, but the game kills him instantly if he falls too far in-game, which acts as a barrier against Sequence Breaking and Unwinnable situations.
    • In Halo 3: ODST during a cutscene, Romeo fires three shots at an enemy, and when gameplay starts, he's missing three rounds. But at the end of that segment, the cutscene has him wielding a sniper rifle, regardless of what he was using an instant earlier during gameplay. This is necessary for the Rookie to be able to find the rifle later. Throughout the game, cutscenes tend to show the squad with their signature suppressed SMG rather than whatever they had during gameplay.
  • BioShock 1:
    • This was the game which caused game designer Clint Hocking to coin the term ludonarrative dissonance. The game is, as per standard in a First-Person Shooter, a very linear and tightly controlled affair. While the game is designed to hide the fact (again, as per usual in the genre), you are essentially walking down a straight tunnel, with little ability to alter your course or direction. This is cleverly justified by the revelation that you are mind-controlled, conditioned to perform any action prefaced with the phrase, "would you kindly". This clever deconstruction of the genre earned praise, but Clint Hocking pointed out the problem in it: Once the mind control is lifted, the gameplay does not change. You should expect to be able to choose any path you now wish, but you're as tightly controlled as ever, despite allegedly being free.
    • ADAM is described by NPCs as a substance you need to have injected into you to make plasmids and gene tonics work, and after that regular injections are required to prevent physical and psychological damage. In the game itself, it is simply treated like a currency you use to buy said plasmids and tonics, which cost no actual money besides. The game also features the corresponding EVE, which acts as fuel for the plasmids, and is never touched on in the narrative. One of the Public Service Announcements might be lampshading this: "A Rapture reminder: We all have bills to pay, and the temptation to break curfew to make a little extra ADAM is forgivable..." So, wait, you can pay your bills in ADAM instead of dollars?
    • ADAM is supposed to be overwhelmingly addictive, along with a classic case of With Great Power Comes Great Insanity; most of the splicers attack the player because they think he's someone else, or in the hopes of getting more ADAM. None of these detrimental effects ever affect the player character, despite injecting liters of plasmids over the course of the game.
    • While the player gets no bad side effects from ADAM, almost no splicers get good effects. While Jack shoots lightning, fire, bees, and ice from his finger tips, only Houdini splicers (who can vanish and shoot flames) and Spider splicers (who can walk on walls) seem to have any rare abilites. The much more common Thuggish splicers and Leadhead splicers all rely on weapons to kill you.
  • In a similar vein to it's predecessor, BioShock Infinite has a total of 8 Vigors. Several of these vigor containers can be found lying all over Columbia, one even appearing as a component of a game at the Columbia Raffle and fair, but only 3 of these Vigors are used by your enemies, and of those enemies, only a Unique Enemy used 'Shock Jockey'. Also, the other two enemies who use Vigors, known as Firemen and Crows have severly upgraded/modified versions of the Vigor; Firemen can release a blast of flames around themselves which is a kamikaze attack when they're low on health, and Crows, unlike Booker, can turn into ravens but only use them to attack in a cutscene, relying on a sword all other times.
  • It's a plot point in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat that anomalies move. In the game itself, however, none of them ever leave their positions.
  • You will never see anyone firing anything other than the boring 'ol handgun in a Time Crisis cutscene, despite the fact that machine guns, shotguns, and grenade launchers have all been standard equipment for some time. The funniest example would be Giorgio Bruno taking a few shots at a swarm of Terror Bites... this after you've taken out the last wave with a machine gun. Then there's Alicia Winston threatening Jake Hernandez with a handgun and firing a warning shot next to his head... the same head you've blasted several dozen times to get to this point, raising the obvious question of what the hell good one more is going to accomplish.
  • Bill in Left 4 Dead is stated to have suffered a knee injury from shrapnel during his tour of Vietnam, which makes it hard for him to walk or go up and down flights of stairs. In the game, he can run just as fast as the rest of the survivors. Adrenaline is a heck of an anesthetic.
  • Coach goes through a similar thing in Left 4 Dead 2. Coach suffered a knee injury during college football and he hasn't been the same since then. Admittedly, being a defensive lineman doesn't necessarily require a lot of running, and the other three survivors clearly aren't more fit than he is, even if they're slimmer.
  • No matter how injured Gordon Freeman gets in Half-Life, he can always be healed by health kits, and Alyx Vance has regenerating health which makes her almost as tough as Gordon. Then near the start of Half-Life 2, Episode 2, Alyx gets stabbed by a Hunter, leaving her critically injured and apparently comatose. Of course, Gordon has to go get larval extract from Antlions, as neither Health-kits, a medic, her regenerating health or four Voritgaunts can do anything more than stall her death.
  • Dallas in PAYDAY: The Heist is a chain smoker and is always out of breath, but that doesn't happen at all while you play as him, which is a good thing since you will be running around a lot.

    Hack And Slash 
  • In Drakengard, you're only allowed to take one party member with you into battle, and he doesn't follow along with you on the battlefield, no; you transform into him for a predetermined amount of time. Contrast this to the cutscenes, which show all the party members present in the battles when applicable. Dragonfire kills anything human in a single blow, but not so for some higher-end Mooks in-game. Caim wields a relatively smallish BFS as his default weapon in the cutscenes, but his default weapon in-game is realistically proportioned to be used by a human being. Manah can obliterate armies in cutscenes, but never displays this sort of power when fighting you in-game. And so on in that order.

    Miscellaneous Games 
  • You'd think Retro Game Challenge averts this, because the story IS gameplay. However, the in-game games have some in-game cheats that don't work in free play mode, even though it's supposedly the same game both times. Most likely this is because in the story mode, you unlock new games by beating their challenges, and the makers didn't want players to miss out on the later games if they can't beat the challenges; but in free-play, you're just challenging your best performance, so cheats would make the scores inaccurate.

    MMORPGs 
  • This trope is pretty much universal and constantly active in MMORPGs — typically in the "infinite-lives bosses", the "what do you mean, resurrect spell?", and the "we desperately need level 1 fighters even though we have level 70 shopkeepers" varieties.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • One of the more nonsensical examples is in the Caverns of Time dungeons, where PCs are sent back in time by the Bronze Dragonflight to various famous incidents in past Warcraft titles. In many cases, most of the current playable races could not have been present for various reasons (Horde characters in particular, but also Night Elves and Draenei). So in those dungeons, those characters get hit with a illusion buff that disguises them as a Human for the duration of the dungeon. You would think this would make it an inversion of the trope, except that it also applies to Blood Elves—who all would have been Alliance High Elves in those days, and so could have been present for all these events. Turning them Human is just odd, when a simple eye color change would suffice. It's especially nonsensical in the Culling of Stratholme instance, where you see a variety of Warcraft 3 units represented at the front gate of the city, one of which is a High Elf Priest. It turns specially weird when you take into account that classes aren't disguised in any way, so you can have Warlocks and Death Knights helping Thrall escape from Durnholde, shapeshifted Druids running about, and Humans casting Shaman spells. But no High Elves.
    • In the game, four playable classes can remove curses and/or cure poisons and cast resurrection spells that will restore to life any player character they are cast on. But in the storyline of both tie-ins in other media and in the stories of the game's own quests, curing each type of disease or poison requires multiple unique components, death is feared like in Real Life, and resurrection (not counting Came Back Wrong) is almost unheard of. For example, there's one quest in Northrend where you find a poor poisoned goblin and have to run around killing giant spiders until one of them barfs up a poison sac. Never mind that at least three classes can easily cure poisons, as well as anyone with high enough first aid has the ability to make antivenom out of those self-same spiders, or (by the game mechanics) if he died, four classes could easily resurrect him, and any engineer would have the ability to at least try. This problem is addressed somewhat in some later quests involving healing NPCs, in which you are given items that can heal their wounds, but also told you can use your healing skills if you so desire.
  • City of Heroes has a rather glaring example of this in the Freedom Phalanx. The premier superheroes of the setting, akin to Superman, Batman, Captain America, and other A-listers... sit around waiting to give you quests, and generally do absolutely nothing else, with poor excuses for why they never fight at your side. In the few times you DO team up with them, they're generally as bad as any of the other NPC allies, and die in short order, while their villainous counterparts will kick your butt all over the surrounding environs, generally being some of the most dangerous bosses in the game. Even more confusingly, when you face the same heroes in City of Villains, you can do so in single combat, and they're now, like their counterparts, the hardest bosses in the game. Apparently the only time the game can give these people the powers they're storyline-wise credited with is when they're beating on you instead of random mooks.
  • zOMG!:
    • Your appearance is purely cosmetic. No matter which race you choose to make your avatar (And there are a lot), you'll still be treated as a normal human. The most blatant instance of this is if you choose to make yourself a vampire. Gaia Vampires are weakened by sunlight (though not killed), do require blood (though mostly drink a soy based substitute), and are weak against most of the traditional vampire weaknesses. And yet you can run around in broad daylight killing animated cloves of garlic with no side effects.
    • If you carry actual weapons on your avatar, none of them can be used. This is explained in the prologue "manga" to the game; regular weapons just plain don't work on the Animated. You have to use the rings and their powers to fight them. In the "manga" a powerful and popular knight tried to kill an Animated with "My ANCIENT KATANA!"... and got torn to pieces because it failed to harm it; and yet there's a Ring that creates a katana, which does work.
    • One story from GAIA mentions vampires:
      Sunlight doesn't hurt me, but it does make me really cussy!
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic:
    • Companions' roles in combat don't always mesh with their capabilities in the story. This is particularly notable with the healing companions, only three of which have medical training (the rest are slicers, archaeologists, or the like). Melee-based companions for non-force users also suffer from this; Torian Cadera is a sniper when you first meet him, while Tanno Vik is actually a demolitions specialist. The trooper's ranged damage companion also deserves mention; while Jorgan is a former member of the Deadeyes, when he joins he uses... An assault cannon.
    • That boss you just defeated and made peace with? You're still gonna have to fight past all her Mooks on the way out.
  • Star Trek Online: The Engineer class's "Orbital Strike" power suffers rather noticeably from this, considering that it even works deep underground and aboard space stations without blasting holes in the ceiling.

    Party Game 
  • Some games, such as the WarioWare series, take this to such a blatant extreme that it starts making sense again by having the gameplay and the story literally have nothing to do with each other.

    Platform Game 
  • Done both ways in Jet Stingray's stage of Megaman X 4. The plot has you chasing a fleeing unit of the Repliforce, and you do just that in the level: including Jet Stingray, who actively attacks you during the chase. Although difficult, you can land hits on him during the chase and he'll start the boss battle with some damage, and after defeating him, he is absent on subsequent playthroughs. On the other hand, the rest of the fleeing unit is there and fleeing from you each and every time you replay the stage.
  • The Super Mario Bros. series has an odd case of this. From the very beginning, Princess Peach has been the Distressed Damsel... but on almost every occasion she's been playable, she's been quite capable, whether as a fighter, athlete, or go-kart driver, and largely a match for Mario... which raises the question of how she continues to be kidnapped and require Mario to save her when she's as good as him and more than capable of defeating swarms of angry Koopas or even Samus Aran when she needs to. At this point, Nintendo seems to simply have fun with its artifacts.
  • In Super Mario Sunshine, the entire goal of the game is to retrieve magical Shine Sprites which have scattered all over a tropical island. The Sprites are the source of the good weather that gives the island prosperity, and therefore vitally important to everyone on the island. However, most of the Sprites you'll find are being held by random inhabitants of the island who give them to you as rewards for trivial tasks like winning a squid race. One merchant in town happens to possess a full 20% of them. Not a single inhabitant seems to realize that it might be a good idea to return the sprites themselves.
  • According to the instructions manual for the original Super Mario Bros. game, Buzzy Beetles are enemies that act exactly like Koopa Troopas except that they can't be killed with fireballs (though you can stomp them and kick their shells, however). But despite this fact, only one Buzzy Beetle can be killed with fireballs: the Fake Bowser at the end of World 3.
  • Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus has a jarring example at game's end. One of the safes containing a page of the Thievius Racoonus can only be opened by defeating the game's final boss, and the level containing the safe must be replayed to actually get to the safe. For some reason, the level is also one of the few levels in the game where Sly encounters his nemesis Carmelita Fox. Therefore, if the player wishes to collect all of the pages in a game, then Sly and Carmelita have the same conversation twice, with it making absolutely no sense the second time around.
  • Rockman 4 Minus Infinity:
    • In at least two cutscenes near the end of the game, Mega Man fires a charged shot without having to charge up first, the first time happening when he destroys Kalinka's cell and the second time happening when he shoots down the alien cave projector.
    • The Wish Star adaptor uses up its entire energy bar when used, even after rescuing Kalinka in Wily Stage 3 and she attaches a device to Rush that halves the usage costs of the Rush Search and Rush Cannon adaptors. Even if the player uses the Wish Star adaptor to defeat the Wily Machine, Mega Man is still able to immediately use it again afterwards to destroy Wily's escape pod.

    Puzzle Game 
  • In Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, players can siege and conquer any town of the map, which allows them to collect income once per month when passing them and using them as a base, but this is completely separate from the story. If they rebel, however, you can't continue with the story if the town in question has the next storyline quest. Since the cities count as mechanical creatures, you can even get the dwarf Kalkus to aid you in besieging his own homeland.
  • Casual games can be even more prone to this trope than conventional video games. In the Hidden Object game Escape The Museum 2, the protagonist has to find several plot-irrelevant items in order to acquire pieces for a homemade battering ram, then assemble them correctly, in order to bash through a wooden door. One of these superfluous items, which you're not allowed to use for anything? A chainsaw.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • Warcraft:
    • One of the cutscenes in II depicts a human footman commandeering an orcish catapult and using it to destroy a goblin zeppelin. In gameplay, catapults can't even attack zeppelins, let alone strike them down in one hit.
      • In the Human ending to the "Tides of Darkness" campaign: No matter how you destroy the Dark Portal to end the war against the Orcs, the cutscene will always show the Arch Mage Khadgar using his magic ritual to destroy the portal. This can be quite noticeable, if you decided to use a force of Gryphon Riders to get the job done for the mission, and no Land troops were present on the land mass where the portal resides.
    • In III, Arthas sells his soul in exchange for power by picking up the runeblade Frostmourne. In spite of this however, he goes from being a level 10 Paladin in the last human mission to being a level 1 Death Knight in the first undead level, leading to a massive drop in in-game stats. Similarly, Illidan also sells his soul for power by consuming the Skull of Gul'dan. When he shows up later in Frozen Throne, his appearance has changed and he boasts about how powerful he is... but his stats aren't any different from that of a typical level 10 Demon Hunter.
  • According to the backstory of Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars, some of the heroes should be nearly invincible, and most of them should all already have tons (in some cases, literally eons) of battle experience. Yet they all start at level 1 with almost no spells available.
  • StarCraft:
    • In all the games, Carriers and Battlecruisers are huge capital ships in all cutscenes, story sequences and novels, but in gameplay they are the size of a truck and can be shot down by rifle-wielding Marines, although it does take a somewhat appropriately large number of them.
    • In one cutscene in Episode II, we see half a dozen or so Terran Marines kill at least that many hydralisks before succumbing to their superior numbers; in gameplay Marines are far weaker. Note also that Ghosts are never seen wearing any kind of helmet or breathing apparatus, despite their routine deployment in hard vacuum (probably not a case of Batman Can Breathe in Space because cutscene Ghosts are always shown in an atmosphere or pressurized ship).
  • Lost Magic has a field day with this; Bosses use special Runes they aren't supposed to have ''at all' as they're their respective Sage's secret power, Useless Useful Spells work better for the bosses then for you, and then comes the Cutscene Power to the Max. Or not.
  • Dawn of War:
    • Space Marines and Imperial Guard are supplied with buildings and troops via orbital or aerial drops, and have abilities to call in artillery barrages, bombing runs, or Orbital Bombardment. All these work just fine even if the current mission is deep underground, or on a space ship.
    • One of the mandatory missions in the second game's campaign requires an industrial district be defended. There is no time limit despite the apparent urgency, it can be failed (all squads incapacitated) multiple times with no consequences, and while the huge and seemingly impenetrable gate is pretty sturdy not only are there two highly visible holes in it near the edges of the map, but Tyranid Carnifexes (of which there are plenty) are specifically designed to easily ram down such fortifications. And in the expansion Chaos Rising, there is the option to destroy them and can be done with a single satchel charge. Huh.

    Rhythm Game 
  • In PaRappa's playthrough of Um Jammer Lammy the story and gameplay have NOTHING to do with each other. That, combined with the choppy framerate of cutscenes, makes it very easy to assume the game is glitched and skipping over the plot.
  • Due to the generally metaphorical nature of the BIT.TRIP series, this is excusable. Up until the fourth game, there seems to be absolutely no correlation between the storyline and gameplay, save, maybe, for some elements in the background.

    Role Playing Game 
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The Umbra Sword is described as an evil Empathic Weapon that slowly corrupts and drives mad the person who wields it. The player can use it for the entire game after earning it and suffer no ill effects.
    • In Skyrim, a big deal is made about how Khajiit are strictly forbidden from so much as setting foot in a Hold's capitol city. However if the player is a Khajiit, they can freely enter and exit even Windhelm (where even Argonians aren't allowed) without any trouble aside from the occasional rude comment. While this can be Hand Waved after the player goes to see the Greybeards and it's revealed that they are The Chosen One, the player can go straight from the tutorial in Helgen to Windhelm with no trouble at all.
    • In the same game, the Skeleton Key can unlock much more than just locks, including the mind and Nord puzzle doors, Mercer even collapsed a tower with it. In the battle against him, he also used two of the Nocturnal abilities, one of them constantly, while normally a person can only possess one and it can't be used contantly. In the player's hands, it can only be used as an unbreakable lockpick and can't pick unpickable locks. The player character doesn't see the Skeleton Key the way Mercer does, though.
    • One mission in Morrowind requires the player to rescue an Argonian being bullied and threatened by racist Dunmer. The Argonian says they refuse to listen to anything he says because of his race. Despite this, the player character can talk to the Dunmer and convince them to leave the Argonian alone, even if the player character is an Argonian him/herself. The racists don't even mention this.
    • In Skyrim's Dawnguard DLC, one quest of the vampire questline involves turning the moth priest into your thrall. The player uses vampire's seduction and then feeds on him to make him a thrall. The player can feed on almost any NPC like this, but it never makes a thrall.
    • Skyrim features a lengthy sub-quest which can end with the player becoming arch-mage (read: head honcho) of the College of Mages. All the students and professors at the college will praise the character's intense magical abilities. Amusingly, however, the missions involved in the quest are fairly generic and don't require magical expertise. You can roll through the entire quest staving in heads with your warhammer while arrows bounce off your heavy armor, then have a distinguished professor of magic explain that you're the only magician skilled enough to lead the college. Also, despite being Arch-Mage, you still have to pay to get back in if you murder one of your students.
    • The quest Forbidden Legend has you reforge an amulet that was reputed to be powerful and dangerous enough that even split into three it caused problems. This amulets power? +30 to health magicka and stamina, useful but not that powerful.
  • In Phantasy Star II; Rolf is unable to use the teleport station in Paseo to go directly to other cities at the start of the game. It's required to visit a city once before you can teleport there from other cities. This creates an odd paradox since he's unable to go directly to Piata. A city he had travelled to in the past, right before a rather important story-related event unfolded.
  • Summons or other spells with extensive animations that never affect reality in the RPG world. The earthquake spell never takes out any buildings, Bahamut Zero can fly out of space and zap your enemies even when you're underground, and the most infamous offender, Final Fantasy VII's Supernova, destroys Earth's whole solar system, doing some damage to the characters but leaving them and the planet (which is not even Earth) intact (the attack is implied to be an illusion, though, which would make it make more sense). Moreover, the villain can cast it multiple times. On the other hand, Little Girl Rydia summons Titan in a battle-cutscene and creates an entire mountain range (long before she learns how to summon Titan, at that). Likewise, in Final Fantasy IX summons are pivotal to the plot as the beasts enact massive actions in cutscenes; apparently, their attacks are much more surgically precise during gameplay.
  • Final Fantasy VI has a cutscene where character uses a smoke bomb to escape from a fire; in-game a smoke bomb only escapes battle (leaving you in the same location), a Warp Stone is what you use if you want to escape a location.
  • In Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, much of the Level Grinding takes place through a menu-based 'SOLDIER Mission' system, where you undertake various missions for Shinra Inc at any save point. However, you're still able to use this system during the latter leg of the game, where Zack is on the run with Shinra Company hunting him down and gunning for his blood. In fact, it is completely impossible to avoid this segregation by finish all the side missions early. There are missions released only after the Nibelheim incident.
  • The Buster Sword in Final Fantasy VII. Its attack power and materia slots are some of the lowest in the game, but Cloud is always depicted wielding it in cutscenes, no matter what he's actually equipped with. This also applies to the rest of the characters-no matter what weapon they're equipped with, official art and cutscenes always shows them with the crappy, low-rent equipment they started with.
  • Final Fantasy VIII:
    • The player's character gets a regular paycheck from his organization, Seed (based in Balamb Garden), based on his Seed rank. This works fine, until about halfway through disc 2, the player is made the commander of Balamb Garden. You would think that this would give you a pay raise. But no, your rank doesn't so much as rise a single level when you are promoted, and it is still possible to be demoted and receive a pay cut. Never mind the fact that, story-wise, you're the highest ranking person in the Garden. You can even be demoted in the few areas where you only control Rinoa, the only member of the party who isn't working with SeeD, near the end of Disc 1. Even more confusing, after time starts compressing at the end of the game and you are thrown out of time into the future and can no longer interact with towns and most NPCs, you still are paid at regular intervals. That's a pretty impressive banking system.
    • Rinoa becomes a Sorceress later in the game. The Sorceress are able to naturally use magic, without needing to Draw spells from monsters. Obviously, this doesn't apply to Rinoa (she can do this during her Limit Break, though, but the same applies to Selphie as well, who is not a Sorceress).
    • One interesting case comes up during a Self-Imposed Challenge in which the player doesn't use the Junction system. One person doing the challenge reflected on how, after learning that the Guardian Forces caused memory loss, the heroes acknowledged that they only got this far because they used them, and pointed out that this was not the case.
  • In Final Fantasy X the intro cutscene is dozens of hours into the story, yet the pile of weapons it opens looking at includes Yuna's original staff (which you likely ditched after the first temple, if you got the Destruction Sphere). It also has Wakka's bright blue Official Ball, at a point where your primary weapon for Wakka is most likely either wrapped in iron rings or encrusted in Spikes Of Doom, but it wouldn't be out of character for him to have brought a spare ball for practice; hard to do that when a bad catch will turn you to stone.
  • In Final Fantasy XIII characters seemingly pick their cutscene weapons at random.
  • Fallout 3:
    • In the ending Project Purity must be activated but the person who does so will receive a lethal dose of radiation. This completely ignores the fact that players, at this point in the game, have enough items/perks to render themselves nearly completely resistant to radiation. Oh and your super mutant and robotic party members (who are completely immune to radiation) and your ghoul party member (who is healed by radiation) won't step in to save the day either. To accommodate the Broken Steel DLC's extended main quest, this was changed such that the radiation only puts you in a coma from which you wake up two weeks later. You can also ask your radiation-immune followers to step in for you, though for whatever reason this still gives you the "cowardly" ending cutscene.
    • The main path to Vault 87 is impassible due to incredibly high levels of radiation and a jammed door beyond that. However, the Enclave is able to enter when they capture you after you retrieve the GECK.
  • During one cutscene of Atelier Iris, The Stoic swordsman asks to talk with the main character while the cook is making dinner. They go out to the woods where the swordsman "tests" the main's progress by beating him within an inch of his life. They then return to have dinner, and the other characters calmly ask what the two were up to. They accept the response that they were "taking a walk", and no one seems to notice any distress or injury from the character. Given the various common ways one can heal in the game, and the fact that the main character is an alchemist who can produce healing potions, one might generously think that perhaps he healed himself to avoid worrying his friends... except that after the cutscene, he's still at 1 HP. Apparently in this world, no one bleeds when they get hit by swords.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days: Emblem Heartless are said, in the story, to release hearts whenever they are defeated by a Keyblade. In the Organization, only Roxas (and later Xion) can use the Keyblade, making them invaluable to the Organization. In Gameplay, though, the hearts are collected when any of your allies defeat an Emblem Heartless, even if it was defeated by someone without a Keyblade. You also get the hearts if you (or an ally) defeat them with magic instead of a weapon.
    • In Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, you may have leveled up any or all of the 3 main characters to the point where any of them can defeat Xehanort and/or Vanitas in their numerous boss battles in about 2 seconds, yet they will STILL kick all 3 characters' asses repeatedly during cutscenes both before and after these fights.
  • Generally, lots of things that the Pokédex in Pokémon says directly contradict gameplay. Ironically, some examples were done correctly. One example is the Shedinja actually "shedding" from a Nincada, others could include a Mantyke requiring a Remoraid to evolve. If they were all Hand Waved, one could just assume they kept the games simple... but when half of it is correct, it turns weird.
    • Drowzee/Hypno are said to live off of dreams; it's their defining trait. Yet they can only learn the attack Dream Eater by TM (or, in later games, via breeding). You'd think they'd be able to learn it by leveling up, but...
    • Abra is said to sleep through most of the day, teleporting away from danger in its sleep, yet the Sleep status affects it just like everything else.
    • Cubone is said to lose its mother as it is born and wears its skull as a memento. Breeding for a Cubone, however, doesn't cause any ill effects for the mother, whether or not it is a Marowak.
    • Evolving Nincada into Ninjask also earns you a Shedinja, but only if you have a slot free in your party and an unused Poké Ball in your bag. For some reason you can't just ship the thing off to your PC like everything else you catch. And staring into Shedinja's backhole is supposed to mesmerize and then steal the soul of the victim. All of its player-side battle sprites have the backhole clearly visible, but nothing unusual happens to you when you fight others with it.
    • Pichu is said to hurt itself whenever it uses a lightning based attack; however, this doesn't happen in the games unless you use Volt Tackle. Unfortunately, it does happen in Super Smash Bros. Melee, and is a significant drawback to using Pichu.
    • The games insist on judging your power by number of badges, regardless of the level of your Pokémon. Mt. Silver should be no problem for a trainer with six Pokémon of levels 80-100, but you can't get to it unless you have 16 badges. Of course, the same argument could be made at that point that getting those badges should be rather easy.
    • Supposedly, Charizard's fire breath is hot enough to melt boulders. Still doesn't have much effect on Rock types. It's also stated that the surface of Magcargo's skin is hotter than the surface of the sun. Somehow, the Earth and everything else around it aren't becoming instant slag. Spiritomb is 108 souls sealed in a stone, but it can breed and create more Spiritomb. Arcanine is renowned for its impossible speed, but there are a lot of mons that have higher Speed stats, including its counterpart, Ninetales.
    • Metapod and Kakuna are supposed to be totally immobile and only know Harden. And ones you fight in the wild do only know Harden. Where this trope comes into play is that a Caterpie or Weedle you evolve yourself will still know the moves it did before. Pupitar, on the other hand, are flat out stated to be fully mobile.
    • Regice is stated to be so cold that dipping it in magma would not harm it at all and instead freeze the magma solid. Just being near it exposes you to the intense aura of near-absolute zero air surrounding it. Yet its opponents suffer no ill effects from biting it, punching it, kicking it, wrapping their bodies around it, etc. And fire is still super-effective against it.
    • In Gen 1, only Pokémon with the bird-like overworld sprite could learn Fly. This meant that you couldn't fly on the back of a Charizard or Dragonite, but a tiny Pidgey had no problem ferrying you from one side of the region to the other. Venomoth and Beedrill can clearly fly but are not classified as flying types. Doduo and Dodrio are said to have poor flying skills and have no visible wings, nevertheless, they can learn Fly.
    • Qwilfish is often refered to as a bad swimmer, but can learn Surf and has Swift Swim as one of its abilities.
    • The Pokédex entry for Escavalier says it flies around at high speed. Turns out it is one of the slowest Pokémon in the game.
    • Many Pokédex entries for the Slowpoke line make mention of Shellder biting onto a Slowpoke's tail/head in order to evolve. While it is like this in the anime, one does not even need to see a Shellder to evolve Slowpoke into Slowbro (evolves via leveling up) or Slowking (evolves via trade while holding a King's Rock) in the games.
    • In X and Y, the single Poké Ball factory for the region is attacked by the villains, who steal "all the Poké Balls" before the player character can chase them off. After that one worker, worried, says that this is bad, it'll start getting so hard to get Poké Balls and they might end up a lot more expensive. Another says they've started producing more but it's not enough. Then when the player leaves the factory they get a Holo Clip newsbyte with someone saying that despite the thefts, this will not effect products sold in stores - and indeed, the player can still buy in bulk for the same price.
    • Nidorina and Nidoqueen are unable to breed, perhaps originally due to a bug in Gold and Silver, four major engine rewrites and fifteen years ago. This is despite the fact that their Pokédex entries mention (and in the case of the latter, make a major point out of) them taking care of their young.
  • The Tales Series is generally pretty bad about plot-based injuries and the fact that you're usually carrying around a ton of medicine or food items that you can cook with. It's often Hand Waved by the healers, trying First Aid for a couple seconds and going "there's nothing I can do" or "they're too far gone." And then all the games have their own little quirks...
    • In Tales of Symphonia while Colette can fly, you can't move differently than waking in any meaningful way in battle and the only time you ever have her fly to press a switch is the one time it is absolutely necessary, rather than the dozens of times it would be VERY useful (Notable in that one time does happen, so we know it's possible but they choose not to).
    • In Tales of the Abyss, Guy, one of the protagonists, has a crippling fear of women (to the point that being glomped by one early in the game is sufficient to give him a momentary Heroic BSOD.) This doesn't seem to pop up when in battle, even against female enemies. It's indicated that he can overcome it given sufficient motivation, like when he grabs Anise's arm to pull her up when she almost falls off a cliff, so it's possible battle is one such case (or else, that he never physically comes into contact with them during it).
    • In Tales of Legendia, once Grune gets her memory back and is revealed to be an all-powerful Physical God, you'd think she'd get stronger now that she actually knows who she is, what her powers are, and how to properly use them. Nope. Although there is some Integration here, as her battle quotes (and even the pitch of her voice!) all change to reflect her sudden change in personality.
  • The World Ends with You: In Another Day, the game takes place in a parallel world where Neku, Shiki, and Beat are not part of the Reapers' Game, do not know each other as True Companions (which is mercilessly mocked in one plotline), yet you can battle like it's any other day by scanning with your still-present Player Pin. Also, when you unlock the chapter select feature, you can partner with any character on any day, even if, in the chapter you select, the character has not met Neku yet or has vanished. The exception is New Game+ boss battles, which you're required to win to obtain the Secret Reports — you'll be forced to play with the appropriate partner, even if you'd really, really, really prefer to use someone else. It's also averted in the 11-battle Boss Rush challenge, which swaps your partners every few battles. Built up a fusion attack but didn't use it yet? Too bad, that partner is long gone. (Or you could learn what you're up against beforehand).
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines is based on the tabletop RPG Vampire: The Masquerade. Of course, for gameplay reasons, disciplines work differently in the game than in the RPG... except in cutscenes. For example, in one scene, Beckett uses his Protean discipline to change into a wolf, which is a perfectly valid usage in the tabletop RPG but something you can't do even with maxed Protean in-game. Later on, a vampire uses Presence to seduce a mortal: Again, perfectly valid in the RPG, but in the game Presence is entirely useless to you outside of combat. Likewise, an empty dumpster or wooden crate shouldn't be able to stymie your progress toward the end of the game, by which time you have Strength and Potence 5; in the actual tabletop game, you could deadlift a truck at that point.
  • Valkyria Chronicles has a bunch of these. The mission where Alicia sprains her ankle and must hobble around the map to find a plant that Welkin can use to gradually heal it. The player can still use Ragnite to heal the wounds she gets during the mission, but it does nothing for the sprain. The teamwork themes occasionally suffer, since the game can't predict whether or not any of Squad 7 may die, so it's likely that many of the player's favorite squad members have no impact on the plot and don't appear in cutscenes. After Alicia becomes a Valkyria she has an existential crisis over her new ability to kill enemy soldiers and tanks... except she's a powerhouse on the field, and can easy rack up a higher body count than most of your shocktroopers because of her extremely high accuracy and headshot rate, which means she's apparently okay with taking Mooks down execution style, but not with a laser. And after having taken Marberry Shore, during this and all other missions, your troops can take an anti-tank round to the face at point blank range and be rescued by a medic, but in the cutscene Isara takes a shot in the back and neither the medic nor ragnaid is a benefit.
  • Dragon Quest IV: During the fourth chapter, you have to search for some gunpowder in order to make a loud noise and scare the Chancellor of Palais de Leon. Never mind that Maya already knows a spell called "Bang" that creates a big explosion...
  • Dragon Quest VIII:
    • At one point you cannot get past a northern checkpoint because the game involves going around with a king who has been transformed into a monster, and they won't let a monster in. However, at this point the hero has learned a spell to teleport him and his party to any city he has been to. If the story treated this spell as existing, he could go through the checkpoint alone, reach the next city, return, then teleport back to the city with the king and party. For that matter, half the stores in the game sell an item that has the same effect (Chimaera wings), so it wouldn't necessarily have to be the hero who could go alone. Heck, they could find a random guy who's been to the city and pay him to transport them there. If the game's plot considered this, though, then keeping borders secure would be nearly impossible.
    • The main plot involving the villain's murder spree, complete with you being forced to sit through a funeral for one of the victims. Instead of, I don't know, dragging the victim back into the church to be resurrected like you did all the times someone in your party has been killed in random battles.
  • The opening scene of Phantom Dust has a team of espers scorch scores of monsters with single attacks when two of said monsters would be challenging to the player. This may be justified by the fact that some of the monsters look a little more sickly they do in the game proper. Another example is characters performing feats like telekinetically hurling what appears to be half a sky scraper at you when the player, who is easily the most powerful esper in the game, has no such abilities.
  • Anachronox has the main character in trouble with a local mob boss who he owes a large amount of money to. However, being an RPG you can make huge amounts of money from fighting monsters. Alternately, the next locale you visit has trading robots which you can use to make a fortune with. Problem is, you cannot use this money to pay back the mob boss - the option simply doesn't exist and the debt comes back to bite you later on.
  • Used very painfully in Baten Kaitos, where almost all the characters have wings and are shown to be fully capable of flight over reasonably short distances [depending on their wing shape] in cutscenes. There are still a lot of Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence and Broken Bridge puzzles, at heights and distances that cutscenes and battle animations (and ladders in Origins) show that the characters are perfectly capable of flying over. The series does have some good moments of Gameplay and Story Integration, but not enough to balance out the wings problem.
  • Magneto is one of the X-Men's most powerful foes, who can control all metal at whim. Yet in games like X Men Legends, Marvel Ultimate Alliance and most other Marvel games, he can end up getting his ass kicked (as a playable character or boss) by the likes of Colossus, Crimson Dynamo, Iron Man, Lady Deathstrike, Ultron, War Machine and Wolverine, when story-wise they shouldn't be able to move, let alone fight. Likewise, in nearly every game in which he appears, you can make Juggernaut stop charging and fall over by hitting him enough. Nothing stops the Juggernaut... except a punch or two.
  • At one point in the RPG Odium, your team medic gets attacked and poisoned by an invisible monster, cannot be cured, and dies at the end of the battle (and states that the grotesquely deformed bodies you found earlier are, too, victims of this poison). Near the end of the game, you battle a group of these monsters, but their poison can be cured away and only does minor damage like any other monster's poison.
  • In Parasite Eve Aya can be wielding a shotgun, rifle, machine gun, grenade launcher, or even a damn rocket launcher, but these weapons are never rendered outside of battle. Aya is always shown using a handgun on the overworld maps and during cut scenes.
  • Baldur's Gate:
    • In this and other Infinity Engine games, there are a number of resurrection spells and items that can bring your group members back from the dead. However, when the plot calls for a character to die, they die... and the option of resurrection is never even brought up.
    • Irritating example: The background fluff claims that lots of people prefer carrying handy little gems instead of weighty gold coins. For the player, the utility is reversed: Gold is weightless and its value is precise, while gems' values are unknown and they clutter up your limited inventory space.
    • Occasionally Justified in-game when the writers can be bothered. If the PC offers to resurrect Khalid at the start of BG2, Jaheira refuses, and will leave the party if the PC tries to insist.
  • Knights of the Old Republic:
    • Despite the Sith guards on Taris supposedly looking for Bastila, they'll never comment on her presence even when she walks past them in her Jedi robe wielding a lightsaber. Maybe they're just that stupid, which might explain why Malak so quickly opted to destroy the entire planet.
    • In the sequel, Nar Shaddaa is home to the Jekk'Jekk Tarr, a bar that caters to aliens and sports a piped-in atmosphere toxic to humans. When the Player Character goes there as part of the game's overarching story, he/she is informed that a breathmask will be insufficient protection and a full-body containment suit is called for, as the poison can be absorbed through the skin. This will come as a surprise to any player who already completed an earlier sidequest by, yes, putting on a breath mask and just walking around as normal. And when you actually enter the JJT, you walk in, nearly asphyxiate, and then Kreia teaches you a Force power called Breath Control, which makes you immune to poison. But you don't even have to use it if you just... equip a breath mask.
  • In Inazuma Eleven every soccer player can jump almost as high as Saiyans in a soccer match to create super natural moves, but none of the members in your team thinks of jumping across a small river to get to pieces of wood to create a bridge so that their van can cross, and you have to go around the whole maze-like forest.
  • In Eternal Sonata people who suffer from incurable illnesses develop the ability to use magic. As you advance into the game, you see that in fact everyone in your party is capable of using magic in battle; each character has "Magic" as a value in their stats. Still, the game says that just Polka and Chopin are ill and the only ones in your party that can use magic. Some characters even praise that capacity.
  • Mass Effect 2:
    • Jack, AKA Subject Zero, is supposed to be the most powerful human biotic alive, which is shown in a cutscene where she one-shots three YMIR Heavy Mechs, which are some of the deadliest foes in the game. In the game itself? She's terrible, and probably the weakest biotic on the team. She only has three abilities (Warp Ammo, Shockwave, and Pull), none of which deal even moderate damage or have any effect on enemies with armor/shields (guess which defenses YMIR Heavy Mechs have?). This is especially noticeable if you bring her on the mission where you actually do fight three of those mechs; none of her attacks do anything to them and she will usually be killed a minute into the mission.
    • The Quarian fleet only allows Tali, Shepard and one other squadmatenote  to board their flagship. You know, the race known for being the most extreme germophobes in the universe? Shepard has to wear his/her helmet at all times, and most of the squadmates do the same - except for a select few (Jack, Samara, Miranda, Jacob) that are apparently able to waltz onboard with nothing more than a breathing mask, walk around without anyone commenting and sit in the middle of the crowd during Tali's exile hearing.
    • Shepard walks around toting an Avenger assault rifle throughout the game - this will occur even if you've been using another primary weapon, never equipped the Avenger for a mission or didn't specialize in assault rifles in the first place. In addition, several of your squad members use assault rifles for most group scenes in the Suicide Mission, even if they weren't seen disembarking the Normandy with one or if they didn't have the requisite training.
    • The Krogan treat fighting a Thresher Maw on foot like it's a big thing. In the first game, a sufficiently well-grinded character can defeat like a dozen of them on foot over the course of the game.
    • On a couple occasions you and your squad can kill Krogans (the huge, hulking species with redundant organs, extremely thick hides and extreme regeneration abilities) in a matter of 2 seconds with the Shuriken Machine Pistol (does the least amount of damage in the game, and is especially weak against armor, which some Krogans have) in cutscenes. In gameplay Krogans take a rather long time to take down even with powerful weapons like the Phalanx.
    • No matter how powerful a biotic you are, no matter how strong all your biotic abilities are shown to be... you are never even considered for the position of the one who holds the biotic shield at the end of the game. You could have skills comparable to (if not greater than) an Asari Justicar (which you have in your party, by the way), but you are not even considered as a biotic. Until Mass Effect 3, all cutscenes showed Shepard as a soldier without using any fancy tricks, like biotic powers or engineering tricks... which most of the character classes you can choose from would have.
    • Heat sink technology was brought in during the two years between 1 and 2, based on geth technology salvaged after the final battle, yet the ten-year-old wreck of the Hugo Gernsback has a plentiful supply of heat sinks. In addition, heat sinks are supposedly interchangeable between all geth and Citadel species weapons, yet your ammo supply will be neatly divided into a certain number of rounds per gun, and you can't use, say, a spare heavy pistol heat sink to buff your sniper rifle ammo; once it's assigned to a specific gun, it can't be applied to any other firearm.
    • The M-920 Cain heavy weapon uses mass effect technology to propel a 25-gram slug to 5 km/s speed, which helps the explosion greatly, as said by the lore. If you actually use the weapon in game, the slug travels very slow, it's surprising the slug doesn't fall to the ground after a while, luckily the weapon's power is not affected.
  • Mass Effect 3:
    • During the final confrontation with Kai Leng at the Cerberus Base, it's possible to blow him into nice, meaty chunks using an incredibly powerful rifle (the Black Widow is good for this). Even though he's supposedly been blown apart, he magically appears alive and well in the following cutscene when he struggles to stand up.
    • Shepard will always end up holding an unmodified Carnifex pistol with unlimited ammo in his/her hand after Harbinger destroys the team running towards the Conduit, even if you never bothered to equip him/her with one or if you had a modified Carnifex. Of course, given the state of his/her armor, it might be a bit optimistic to expect his/her weapons to be useable — it might well have been somebody else's Carnifex.
    • The player can listen to the problems of various people onboard the Citadel, and do assorted sidequests for them, which will reward you with resources and increased combat readiness values. The problem is that the effects are immediate, so the dialog can get a bit weird. When you recover a fossil of a Krogan war mount that has been extinct for 2000 years and talk to the guy who wants it that you've got one in your cargo bay, he thanks you for your trouble, and then a few seconds later, you overhear him saying they've cloned the things and the Krogan are currently riding them into battle.
    • Much like the previous game, Shepard and his/her squadmates will always be seen carrying either an Avenger assault rifle or Predator pistol in cutscenes. This can get taken to absurd lengths - during the Grissom Academy mission, Shepard runs into the room where Jack and the students are hiding, and fires on a mech while using an Avenger and having up to five weapons stored on his/her back. This became official policy after complaints about some cutscenes in Mass Effect 2 doing weird things by depicting Shepard's actual loadout, such as taking a mercenary's Shuriken, having it transform into a Locust in Shep's hands, and back into a Shuriken when handed back. At least as the various default weapons are Alliance standard issue, there's an excuse for them being everywhere.
    • When Kai Leng gets away, even if your Shepard is a Vanguard who has the ability to nearly instantly teleport to any enemy, he is never shown doing so. Nor do your companions (or yourself) cast Stasis, which would freeze him in his tracks.
    • Allies can be killed by insta-kill moves by certain enemies like the Brute, Banshee, Atlas and Phantom. These insta-kill moves are pretty brutal and the fact that in the multiplayer segment they prevent you from being revived by medi-gel or team mates coming to your aide. These moves range from being picked up by a hulking mech and being crushed to having a large, razor sharp hand thrust all the way through your chest. This won't stop your squad from simply standing back up as soon as the fighting has stopped and walking around as if nothing happened.
    • If you confront the Virmire Survivor without building up trust between them and Shepard, and are forced to kill them, they succumbing to a pistol shot, nevermind that they are likely wearing armor and survived an attack from a powerful gynoid prior to that.
  • Deus Ex (a game that accounts for an absurd number of variables and player choices) nonetheless has a few moments where this trope is played firmly straight:
    • Due to the way NPC's are coded, characters can be baited into fighting with each other, even if it doesn't fit with the way they're portrayed. Some examples include:
      • Paul is noted to stress non-violent enemy engagement (in his very first dialogue with JC, no less). However, what happens most of the time is that immediately after this conversation, one of the NSF soldiers will stray too close to the Liberty Island dock, causing Paul to whip out a plasma rifle and go to town on any terrorists in the vicinity.
      • The Silhouette members in Paris are all just trying to hunker down and survive when JC encounters them, and they state that most of their members retreated from a fight with MJ12 without firing a shot. However, this doesn't stop them from whipping out guns and attacking MJ12 forces if they're near the bunker, even though it normally results in the deaths of several members.
      • Nicolette DuClare has been keeping a low profile, and doesn't have anything to do with the resistance beyond her relationship with Chad before JC visits her. However, she can be baited into taking out an entire team of MJ12 commandoes at the DuClare family crypt by herself, just before flipping back into her passive persona and telling JC about the area.
    • In both the Hell's Kitchen and Airfield levels, it's possible to massacre all of the friendly UNATCO troops. However, Manderley is never concerned with it (and is most concerned with Anna's death, if she died on Lebedev's jet).
    • Anna Navarre is always treated as dead after the UNATCO Escape mission, even in the unlikely event that the requisite Boss Battle was skipped by exploits (a possibility the game itself even acknowledges, via Gunther's changed dialogue after the fact).
    • Silhouette are encountered two-thirds of the way through the game. Normally, they exist to mainly give some information and provide JC with a key that allow him access through a sewer system to enter the downtown district. However, there's nothing stopping the player from massacring all of them, yet the plot still continues as though Silhouette is still alive and fighting. Additionally, even if Chad is killed, JC can later tell a pair of women at a club in Paris that Chad is still alive and fighting.
    • At one point JC comes across his brother Paul severely weakened and dying from his activated killswitch. Paul is so bad he cannot even climb out of the open window, so he urges you to flee through said window and leave him. You do that - he dies offscreen. But you can also refuse to flee and instead vouch to battle the assaulting UNATCO squad to clear the escape route for Paul. Whereupon he whips out a machine gun and maws down the baddies like it's going out of style. Maybe he just didn't feel like doing it alone.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, when fighting the second boss, you can tazer her until she collapses and...then bleeds to death in a cutscene. The third boss you can non-lethally knock out, whereupon he immediately dies for no reason in a cutscene.
  • Kaelyn the Dove in Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer calls herself a doomguide, but has no levels in that Prestige Class since it wasn't added to NWN2 until the Storm of Zehir expansion. Furtheremore, Doomguide, in addition to being used for priests of Kelemvor with special Kelemvor-suited training (IE, having levels in the Doomguide prestige class), is also used as a term for priests of Kelemvor — which Kaelyn the Dove ( no longer) is.
  • Caster from Fate/EXTRA states that she's just a normal girl in terms of physical prowess. She's not even heavily skilled in melee combat by normal, real-world standards. Doesn't stop her from physically striking iron-bodied servants that can move faster than sound and actually hurting them.
  • Lampshaded in NieR. As part of a story event, a smith gives you a broken sword and promises to fix it. He does this again on a New Game+, which carries your inventory over. Nier asks if he doesn't have it already. Weiss just tells him this is how things happen the second time through.
  • Chrono Cross has a feature where in New Game+, you can pull all of the characters you had in your party whenever you had previously beaten the game; even the ones who are in contradictory path. While some might have a special attack or two; they do not interact. (Especially huge is being able to bring Harle back.) Somewhat justified, since the existence of parallel worlds is one of the main story points of the game.
  • In Valkyrie Profile, two late-game bosses are directly responsible for two of your einherjar's deaths much earlier in the game. If you bring either of these characters into the battle with their killer, neither will say anything.
  • If you use a character enough in Recettear, you get their "True Card" which lets you have them in your party immediately in New Game+. This includes having them fight themselves in battles where they are originally antagonistic. Or you could just go on the boss rush with the character that appears at the end (and sometimes the middle) of the rush.
  • At the end of the second part of Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia, Lady Shurelia sings Suspend, a spell that shuts down the Tower except for basic environmental and self-maintenance, and Aurica and Misha confirm that they can no longer use song magic. Shortly thereafter they Hand Wave magic as simply "much weaker," but even when you use it in Phase 3 before reawakening the Tower, spells are no less powerful than before and you can still use one that involves painting a target lock for the Tower's own energy cannons.
  • Neverwinter Nights: Your character tries to get into a palace by claiming to be an emissary from Mulhorand (the local Egypt-equivalent.) The guard doesn't fall for that, as Mulhorandi emissaries are dark-skinned and wear ornate garb. He says this even if your character is, in fact, dark-skinned and dressed ornately.
  • In Superhero League of Hoboken, superpowers comes in two types: the ones that work in fights, and the ones that work in puzzle screens. Even though they show up in the lists of available powers on puzzle screens, combat powers are waved off with a limp "that power only works in combat" message. Even when it's a power that should be devastatingly effective in that puzzle screen, like "put animals to sleep" when the problem you're facing is the villain preparing to unleash a horde of mutant pigeons or rat-horses.
  • In Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory they make a fairly big deal out of Neptune not being a CPU in the alternate dimension, and the first chapter of the game is devoted to finding the object that can restore her power. The same is done for her sister, Nepgear, and she isn't playable until she receives the CPU Memory from Vert. However, it's never brought up again, and when Uni, Ram, and Rom join the team at the end of the Good/True Ending route, they're able to flip back and forth between dimensions just fine.
  • In the Game Boy colour adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry may have Ron, Hermione, and at one point even Neville following him. They'll never help him out.

    Simulation Game 
  • In Ace Combat 6, it's possible to spend most of the mission running for your life, calling in Allied Attacks or Allied Cover against all the other planes, and yet reinforcement pilots can still claim that the protagonist was responsible for shooting down everyone.
  • In Syndicate Wars you control your agents from an airship. The last levels are in a space station and on the Moon, but don't mention how you see them.
  • In Air Force Delta Strike You pull several missions that supposedly deal heavy blows to the enemy's logistics network, but their ability to field aircraft, tanks, ships, and wildly powerful contraptions of all manner is unaffected.
  • In the Spore Galactic Adventures expansion, when playing adventures in the Space stage, they will be assigned to the locations of un-visited planets. It doesn't take into account the habitability of the existing planet before placing an adventure there, so you can have a planet that claims to be a T0 but ends up being a forested world with lots of wildlife when you actually land. Also, occasionally, player-made adventures will do things such as giving a name to the planet you're on, or being part of a series that assumes you've done the previous adventures, but they leave the captain unlocked so you can play them in Space stage where these details no longer make sense.

    Sports Game 
  • EA's skate suffers from this trope. At the beginning of the game, your skater gets hit by a bus after skating out into the street, and needs surgery in order to skate again. Later on in the game, however, there is a mission for Thrasher Magazine which requires you to break four bones in order to proceed. This, along with any other time in the game where you break bones is briefly commented on, but your character can get right back up and keep skating right away.

    Stealth-Based Game 
  • Metal Gear:
    • Just about every enemy in the games can be defeated non-lethally, either with your fists or a tranquilizer gun, and yet the bosses will all die in the following cutscene regardless. Similarly, if they're supposed to escape and appear again later, the player can pump dozens of bullets into the boss' head and they will still won't be dead in the next cutscene.
    • Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid 3 is a normal boss in his boss fight, able to tank multiple bullets to the head (though he can't quite be killed). But during the earlier Virtuous Mission, Snake knocks him out in a cutscene. Afterward, it is perfectly possible to kill him while he's lying there, at which point you get a Non Standard Game Over with Col. Campbell berating the player for causing a Time Paradox.
    • Metal Gear Solid: Campbell insists that Snake can't shoot Sniper Wolf. Who is in the Communications Tower well within the range of his FAMAS rifle. The one the storyline gives him. Granted, it's not a good idea to take on a sniper with an assault rifle using iron sights from that range, but it's still possible.
    • In the cutscenes of Metal Gear Solid 4, Snake is in pretty bad shape. He's in pain, suffers seizures, collapses and fumbles about, and can hardly stand let alone walk. But for those rare occasions you actually get to play, he runs, jumps, climbs, shoots, and does judo with absolutely no problems. Though the cutscenes usually have him taking his medication when his symptoms manifest.
    • In Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, Paz is forced to undergo some horrific Meatgrinder Surgery to remove a bomb in her stomach, with The Medic insisting that 'there's no time for anaesthetic'. Snake begins the story mode of the game with a tranquilliser pistol that is shown to be able to knock out any non-boss characters instantly with a single headshot and no ill-effects.
  • In Metal Gear Acid 2, Venus is revealed to have luck-based powers. These only affect her in the storyline, where she uses them to dowse and repeatedly make a coin come up heads. They also affect her in her boss battle, where she gets a significant bonus to her accuracy compared to Snake. However, when she's a playable character, they don't affect her at all. The cutscenes also show her killing soldiers with shurikens stored in her suit, but in-game she's limited to using cards as weapons just like Snake, even in her boss battle.

    Survival Horror 
  • Resident Evil:
    • If the plot actually mattered where the gameplay was concerned, the playable characters would very quickly run into a big problem the first time they took damage - since one zombie bite is all it should take to turn one into the walking dead. Amusingly, in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, one of Nemesis's attacks finds its mark on Jill during a cutscene, which naturally does infect her.
    • One wonders why the characters don't just kick the doors in or shoot the locks. The REmake has an even more obnoxious example: One of the doors is so rickety that after you use it a few times, the knob falls off. Both of the characters are wearing combat boots but can't just kick in the door. Satisfyingly, Leon does this all the time in Resident Evil 4, shooting or cutting with his knife simple locks or simply kicking the door open. At the very least, their inability to shoot the doors is explained in the books as being due to the ever-present risk of ricocheted bullets. Granted, the books exist on a different plane of canon than the games, but this should still hold up.
    • What we should be wondering is why the mansion doesn't burn down in REmake when you're running around setting defeated zombies' corpses on fire (with kerosene haphazardly poured on them that certainly had to have splashed about) and shooting incendiary grenades at whatever you like... in a mansion built primarily with wood floors, walls, doors... just about everything, really. You'd think they'd all be burnt to a crisp long before the endgame.
    • In RE 4 you have to escort President's daughter Ashley, and the zombies will try to steal her and carry away. Should they leave the current gaming area, even if Leon is like, two steps behind, game is over. Later in the game Ashley is kidnapped by some flying monsters who carry her in unknown direction, and Leon just... goes further in search for her, like nothing happened.
    • Leon in Resident Evil 2 gets shot by Annette in a cut scene and passes out from the shock. When he wakes up some time later, he can run around perfectly fine and his health doesn't get lowered from the gunshot wound, despite the fact that Leon was hit in the chest. Leon does collapse from his wound moments later, but he gets patched up with bandages and is fine for the rest of the game.
    • Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis both show the police in cutscenes attacking zombies with strong weapons like shotguns and machine guns, yet the zombies barely flinch as they make their move on their victims. In the actual gameplay, your shotgun can greatly stagger zombies (or make their heads explode with a headshot) and machine gun type weapons can shred zombies in three seconds while pushing them back. Because of those factors, zombies appear to be stronger in cutscenes than actual gameplay.
  • In Dead Rising, but really in every game that involves zombies just about, the zombies can grapple with your character, and if you don't button mash to get way fast enough, they bite you, which has no effect other than lost health. and yet, in cutscenes, a bite is certain infection. It turns out Frank does get infected if you progress to Overtime mode. Though then Gameplay and Story Segregation kicks in in the opposite way: Even if you spend the entire game not getting injured once, you're still infected.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Tabletop Games usually avert this trope as much as possible when playing. Nothing irks players faster than an arbitrary screw by the GM; if the mechanics are good for the goose, they almost always are good for the gander. It is after all people interacting with other people, and illogical plot holes and actions can be readily pointed out and adjusted as necessary. A few games even allow players to intercede at the level of narrative, not character, but doing so usually has a mechanic behind it (aside from buying the GM pizza.) However, the mechanics of dice rolling for actions can often lead to bizarre, illogical and frustrating inconsistencies at times.
    • The Grappling with Grappling Rules page details all the trouble with making realistic grappling combat mechanics while still being easy to play.
    • A GM making someone roll for an incredibly simplistic action and the player critically failing it can lead to a character who was merely checking to see if they were being followed to stop and stare at the sun and blind themselves.
    • A string of critical failures on gunfire can have the entire party's guns jamming, misfiring and exploding suddenly.
    • On the other hand, games with automatic successes can have characters attempting to pull off impossible actions with a lucky roll.
    • NPCs who should be wiser, more experienced and even outrank the players will constantly defer the actions of the party to the player characters, even when it would make no sense to do so.note 
  • Most of the factions in Warhammer 40,000 have, according to the lore, a vast array of abilities and assets that would make them virtually unstoppable. A single Space Marine is a veritable One-Man Army, protected in nigh-impervious Powered Armor and firing what is essentially a semi-automatic grenade launcher. Eldar have reaction times so fast that humans appear to be moving underwater, and technology that makes the rest of the galaxy look like Stone Age nomads. Necrons are as advanced compared to the Eldar as Eldar are compared to everyone else. Tyranids have almost literally limitless numbers. Orks can take absurd damage before dying and are more numerous that any species in the galaxy except for the Nids. Followers of Chaos bind daemons into weapons, vehicles, even themselves, providing tremendous power. And daemons themselves not only warp reality around them and corrupt people by their very presence, but are also largely invulnerable to conventional weapons. But aside from a bare few exceptions none of this is represented in the mechanics, and those that are present are nowhere near as powerful as the lore suggests.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Capcom's arcade game Shadow Over Mystara introduces two new characters to the playable party, and the plot acts as if they've always been adventuring with them from the start. One of them even pulls out a Plot Coupon from the first game that they "stole" to allow the party to access the final leg of stages.
    • The rules book Elder Evils states that the elder evils are so powerful that even the gods would think twice before standing against them, but a comparison of the statistics of some of the elder evils in that book to the gods' statistics in Deities and Demigods shows that the gods could easily crush the elder evils (well, the ones who you can grasp the true form of, anyhow). Likewise, the Epic Level Handbook's claim that even the gods can't stand up to a certain monster described in that book seems questionable when the statistics are compared.
    • Elminster in the novels is one of the most powerful wizards in the world, had an affair with the goddess of magic (and is one of her Chosen), and is functionally immortal. However, his character stats as presented in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting... well, let's just say anyone who has a passing familiarity with Dungeons and Dragons can make a better epic-level wizard.
    • Magic armor and clothing are "one size fits all" in order to keep players and DMs from having to juggle different equipment sizes in addition to everything else. Of course, some common-sense exceptions exist; generally, if there's a size difference of two or more categories (ie. Small to Large or Medium to Huge), the rule probably doesn't apply.
    • This trope is a common criticism of the fourth edition, which is chock full of effects where the rules text ("crunch") doesn't match the descriptive text ("fluff"). For instance, an inspiring speech that gives you a buff even if you cannot hear it; a One-Hit Kill that deals exactly as much damage as other attacks of the same level; a particular swordfighting maneuver that you can only do once per day for no reason, and can never learn to do twice; an infamous spell that lets you teleport an enemy into hell, but only if you teleport him right back (again, doing exactly as much damage as other attacks of the same level); and numerous archery moves and bolt spells that allow you to shoot at two creatures, but never at the same creature twice. That some people mind this and other people don't is precisely why it's a Base Breaker, of course.
  • The Saga Edition of the Star Wars RPG has far fewer guns on ships than has been previously established. However, this was made as a concession to the fact that if they did, rolling for each individual ship gun/battery would translate into hundreds of rolls, especially with bigger ships like the Super Star Destroyers. Besides, game mechanics are already of dubious canon.
  • Magic: The Gathering: All over the place. While it's mostly understandable that you can summon creatures from hostile factions to your aid without them trying to stab each other, given that you are magically copying them and not calling the original, this turns up with the planeswalkers. To give just a few examples: you can have both cursed!Garruk and Liliana out in a BG deck, even though Liliana was the one who cursed Garruk and he spent most of Innistrad block trying to either kill her or make her withdraw it; and you can call upon planeswalker!Karn and Venser at the same time, even though the latter's death was what gave Karn back his planeswalking spark! You can even have Elspeth and Ajani Steadfast out at once, in the same colour, even though the Steadfast-era Ajani is wearing the former's signature cloak as a Tragic Keepsake. There are also a lot of strange interactions between cards, most notably the possibility - in the right deck - of having a snake equipped with a full suit of armour, sword, shield, and even wearing boots.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • In Odd World: Stranger's Wrath you play a bounty hunter saving up for a life saving operation. The surgery bid given to you by Doc in the first town says the price is roughly 20,000 moolah (the games currency). You collect this money by exchanging outlaws at the bounty store. However, gameplay wise Moolah is only used to purchase ammo and upgrades. You can collect hundreds of thousands of moolah, or use cheatcodes for infinte moolah, yet Stranger won't be able to afford his operation until he finishes the New Yolk City missions and take the ferry to Doc's Retreat. Of course, you find out the Big Bad's mooks have killed Doc, and you are overtaken by previously easily defeated outlaws. Your equipment is stolen, all of your moolah is taken away, you're hit with a Tomato Surprise, and then Moolah isn't used or mentioned for the rest of the game.
  • Dead Space:
    • In the animated prequel, the zombies cannot go near the Artifact of Doom that was dug up. But when it comes to be your turn to escort the thing, all manner of baddies can come right up to the thing with no issue. And by extension, you.
    • The Valour. Sure, Pulse Rifles are weak against Necromorphs, and maybe the soldiers needed a while to grab their guns, but seriously. One slasher - the weakest type of Necromorph - manages to kill and infect an entire ship stocked to the brim with trained soldiers wielding Pulse Rifles and wearing advanced body armour that is as good or better than Isaac's Level 5 suit. (In fairness, some of the marine corpses clearly were killed by the crashing of the ship and not a necromorph, plus, according to one of the logs you can find on the ship, most of the marines actually survived until after the valour crashed into the Ishimura and were killed in a running battle against a horde of necromorphs that were attracted to the ship by the crash.)
    • Necromorphs are, in-story, impossible to kill. The reason you cut off their limbs isn't to kill them, its to dismember to the point that they can no longer attack. In gameplay, however, shooting them in the chest enough will kill them eventually, albeit taking up a lot of ammo.
  • One of the most bizarre examples ever has to be the PS3 game MindJack. Basically, the premise is that you're a secret operative going around hacking into people's minds and controlling them. After a few hours of this, in a cutscene, the female lead presents to the protagonist the concept of mindhacking... and he has no idea what that is. Y'know, the thing you've been going around doing for the past four hours.
  • The Retro Lancer in Gears Of War 3. According to the story, it was abandoned because of the bayonet's tendency to break when used, or its inability to pierce armor. Gameplay-wise? The bayonet never breaks and that armor part is solved by the bayonet charge.

    Turn Based Strategy 
  • Nippon Ichi:
    • Ridiculously silly in Phantom Brave is how the sweet, kind and innocent Marona, who is an All-Loving Hero, gains powers for herself and her equipment. She does this by "fusing" her party members (admittedly they're phantoms, so already dead, but still) into herself and her equipment. This results in them having Final Death as far as the game is concerned. The plot completely ignores this.
    • Disgaea 2: Adell is the only human being in Veldime! Except for, you know, those humans that his sister summoned. But they don't count, nor are they turned into Demons by the Curse.
    • Justified Trope in Phantom Brave and Makai Kingdom, where certain characters' shadows join your party as phantoms; while they themselves do not. (Lampshaded by Ash in The Hermuda Triangle; in gaining the future astrally projected soul of Castille who is stuck in Makai Kingdom. "Um...won't this affect the future?")
    • Soul Nomad & the World Eaters: If you beat him as a Bonus Boss, you can get Median the Conqueror as a party member. Even if you can only summon him for battles, his presence on the battlefield should have a massive impact on the plot and should prompt immediate reactions from numerous characters, yet is totally ignored. And, of course, you can use him to fight his future self.
    • Cla Dun's character create system/editing allows you to have any NPC as the main character or Player Mook, even the one who died in story.
  • Nintendo Wars:
    • While Advance Wars in general can be bothersome about it, Dual Strike has one case that takes the cake. SEVEN Aircraft Carriers, each loaded with a Stealth, and near a somehow important Black Hole fortress no less. Bear in mind that Aircraft Carriers and Stealths are among the most expensive units in the game AND the Aircraft Carriers are support units, not to mention that (because the units were top secret before) Black Hole does not recognize the ordinance in the first place, so it's a wonder how they got trapped. Because of this suggestion that the Allied Nations is absurdly rich to the point that these units could even be around, let alone top secret, when they have been lucky to have had only ONE Megatank (a unit that isn't as expensive as any of the Aircraft Carriers) in the next mission, never mind that they have been having troubles with having reasonable forces, it's a wonder how the Bolt Guard trashes most of the Allied Nations' facilities in a massive ambush before they could even respond.
    • When Allied Nations reinforcements arrive (mostly to help introduce new characters, such as when Jess brings Javier to the fight with her), they usually want to see the skills of Jake et al. Ergo, they demand some kind of "practice" match, and while it's vaguely implied that no soldiers are actually hurt, in-game battle scenes clearly show people getting blown away and tanks exploding. This is all ignoring the obvious: the Bolt Guard is destroying the very land underneath them, and there's really no time to clown around. Without these "practice" matches, you'd be stuck fighting against the same few COs for the entire campaign, but later matches have you fighting clones of Drake, Olaf, and Andy anyway.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics:
    • Dying enemies either turn into crystals or drop an equipment box if they've been dead long enough. In cutscenes, bodies will hang around long after they should have changed into the aforementioned items.
    • The first battle against Miluda has the Instant-Win Condition of defeating her, at which point Ramza will call for the others to surrender, claiming that he'll spare them if they do. He'll still say this if the player has elected to kill all of Miluda's minions first.
  • Super Robot Wars uses story overwrites near constantly. Major enemies will never die unless it's part of the mission, your units will display both startling incompetance and skill when you're not in control of them, and characters just suddenly glide to certain spots at the map when necessary.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • In Fire Emblem Tellius: Radiant Dawn, it turns out that two characters acted the way they did because they were bound by magical contracts that would kill everyone in their respective countries if they disobeyed. The only way to render such a contract null and void is for the physical contract to be destroyed and one of the signers to be killed by a third party. In the endgame, the player gets to kill the man who forced the other characters to sign the contracts; however, it is entirely possible to have him killed by one of the signees which should render the contracts unvoidable, but if this happens, it plays out the same as if he was killed by anyone else.
      • Micaiah used her Sacrifice ability to bring Lehran back from the brink of death, if certain conditions were met first. Afterwards, Yune mentions that Micaiah is too weak to fight in the next battle. Yet not only is she present for the next fight, there is absolutely nothing wrong with her. No lowered stats. No damage taken. No status effects. This could be that Yune took over Micaiah's body for the whole battle, but even so, it's her BODY, and her name is still displayed as "Micaiah".
    • In Genealogy of the Holy War, despite being told that only Naga's power (and therefore only Julia) can beat Julius, you can kill him (or at least land the killing blow) with anyone, even your dancer.
    • In Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, a support conversation between Garcia and Dozla has the two talking about their failed attempt to practice archery, including Dozla trying to swing his bow like an axe, and Garcia putting the arrow in backwards. The two decide archery isn't for them. This is ignoring that it's very possible that Garcia promoted to a Warrior by this point, and can use a bow quite competently.
    • In the overall series your chance to land a critical hit is usually displayed during battle. In Fire Emblem Awakening, during the scripted battle between Khan Basilio and Walhart, each had a 0% critical chance. They both landed a critical hit on the other.
      • Thanks to Awakening's extensive reclassing system, dissonance will pop up when you reclass your characters and they still talk as if they're in their base class - for example, Kjelle begins as a Knight (a defensive class with heavy armor), and many of her supports and tile conversations mention it. She will still talk about it, even when reclassed as, say, an Assassin. This particularly applies to Cherche, a Wyvern Rider with a very affectionate bond to her wyvern, Minerva. Minerva tends to join her in her supports, and her six-plus stat increase level up quote refers to Minerva as well. This will always happen, even if she is reclassed as a Cleric (no mount), a Troubadour (rides a horse), or promotes into a Griffon Rider (Exactly What It Says on the Tin).
  • In Tears To Tiara 2, Before your final encounter with them, battles with Izebel and/or Laelius always have a timed survival or some form of escape as the winning condition, with defeating them being a bonus option. But no matter whether or not you defeat them, the story always pretend you took the escape option.
  • Valkyria Chronicles:
    • Special codes in Valkyria Chronicles II can let characters like Maximilian, Selvaria, and Isara join your party; despite being on the other side and/or dead from the first Valkyria Chronicles. There isn't even a handwave justifying this. Naturally nobody reacts to the previous Imperial Prince and his champion fighting for Gallia.
    • There's also other characters from the first game; who are explicitly stated by the plot to be staying out of the Gallian Civil War to prevent a diplomatic issue; but that's a smaller wonk than the above.
    • Even without codes, after you get enough medals, Juliana and Leon join your party, and they died in game. You can even use them to fight themselves.
  • In the PSP Updated Re-release of Tactics Ogre, there is a function called "The World System", similar to New Game+; it lets you take your characters back in time to any decision made and let's you pick a different choice and follow a different path. This allows for situations where you can have characters who joined your party in one timeline help you kill their alternate selves who opposed you in another in gameplay. Plotwise, though, you'll grieve the death of a character even with them still in your party.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, the Eldar are supposed to have the most powerful psykers, with the possible exception of Chaos. In Rites of War, however, the Eldar have the weakest psykers. Eldar psykers have to get to level 8 before they can use all four Eldar psyker powers, but Space Marine librarians can use all four of their psyker powers at level 1, as can Tyranid magi, zoanthropes, and hive tyrants. Granted, once an Eldar psyker has been leveled up, the four Eldar psyker abilities are comparable in power to the abilities of the other factions. Also, arguably justified since the Eldar are the player race, at least in the campaign mode. Still, it's a little weird, since you eventually get to recruit Space Marine librarians, which are more powerful at level one than your own psykers are at level seven.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
This is inevitable in any open world game with a well-developed, linear story. The wide array of things to do in the sandbox will inevitably result in the player engaging in actions contrary to the character's beliefs, personality, or motivations according to the story.
  • Grand Theft Auto:
    • None of the protagonists can technically be killed. If one's health bar runs out, he is said to be "Wasted!", and will return to the gameworld outside the nearest hospital. The implication being that the player character can always recover swiftly from any injury, including being trapped inside an exploding vehicle. Furthermore, when pedestrians are killed, they can frequently be revived by paramedics. Of course, when the plot calls for it, any character can be Killed Off for Real.
    • You can go on a mass-murdering destructive rampage, literally killing hundreds of civilians, police officers, SWAT officers, and US military personnel. Whether you get shot down or captured, you immediately get away with it, either by just being released from the hospital or, the even funnier part, being released on bail. Vice City at least implies that the police force and legal system are so corrupt that your Mafia ties and crooked lawyer companion get you off. In GTA 2, when you got arrested, you respawned riding in the back of a cop car, and you had to jump out and run away from the cops.
    • In San Andreas, the player can willingly murder hundreds of cops (and get away without even being killed/arrested), yet all cutscenes still portray the player character as innocent. As the plot goes on CJ is shown in a more and more positive light and seems to be trying to "get away from" all of the illegal activity in order to start a good, honest life. And even though you can constantly murder police officers in cold blood and get away with it, much of the conflict of the story centers around a couple crooked cops threatening to frame CJ for the murder of a single police officer that he didn't commit. What about the dozens of cops he DID murder? Even if the player doesn't go on their own spree (which is unlikely), there are many storyline missions that seem to canonically involve CJ murdering people out in the open.
      • There's also the money issue: cutscenes show CJ being dead broke after 'Green Sabre', yet you can have millions of dollars and a lot of property even at this early point of the game (and without cheating).
      • It's entirely possible for a patient player to win the gang war with the Ballas and Vagos before 'Green Sabre'.
    • Victor Vance from Vice City Stories, and Niko Bellic and Johnny Klebitz in IV are shown having the same goals and have calm personalities, but sound like ravenous maniacs if you decide to go after NPCs full-force. And this same bloodlust disappears when you start the next mission cutscene.
    • In Grand Theft Auto IV, Niko is portrayed as a jaded individual who is haunted by bad things he has done in the past, and is trying to make a new life for himself in Liberty City. Like in San Andreas, you can wantonly murder all the people you want, and in a way it's even more disturbing listening to Niko say things like "Stay down, my friend! I don't want to hurt you!" as he continues to stab an old lady as she writhes around on the ground screaming. Also "I don't want to use this! BAMBAMBAMBAMBAM Don't make me kill you friend! BAM"
  • Saints Row:
    • In Saints Row 2 allies can be revived by the player and non-allies can be revived by paramedics. The way that you and other characters act is a lot less segregated as shown by Johnny Gat's trial for over 300 counts of murder, though that's probably a little low too.
    • Saints Row: The Third, most notably in the final act, where zombies continue to inhabit one of the Luchadore-controlled islands even after you do the mission wherein you remove the source of the virus, and the ability to call in Shaundi, Viola, and Burt Reynolds as homies even if you skip rescuing them from the bomb at the statue to chase after Killbane in the final mission.
  • In The Godfather: The Game, after Sonny's death Don Vito calls a truce with the other four families, saying that unless pushed he will not be the one to break it. This doesn't stop you as Aldo Trapani from continuing your quest to take over businesses for the Corleones and kill enemy mobsters.
  • PROTOTYPE is similar. Alex Mercer is depicted as heroic and actually willing to risk his life to protect people during the cutscenes and comic book tie-in and willing to let people live and just tell him what he wants to know, In gameplay, he can do much more than kill people for little to no reason and will just take the information for himself instead of listening to them. Thought you don't have to do this, and you actually get an Achievment for acting humanely. Averted in the sequel, however, where Alex has done a Face-Heel Turn.
  • In The Amazing Spider-Man (the game tie-in to the movie), one mission has the player investigating a bank robbery, which leads to the capture and arrest of Felicia Hardy (The Black Cat). Depending on how late the player does this mission, one could conceivably finish it, and then find out seconds later in an e-mail that Hardy has not only broken out of custody, but somehow found the time to rob a pawn shop and write a letter to Spider-Man instantaneously.
  • The dialogue rich game Scarface: The World is Yours has Tony Montana talk about how he wants the Big Bad dead. He does this even after the Big Bad is dead.
  • In Dwarf Fortress, according to the storynote  the only things that demons can't bust through are semi-molten rock and raw adamantine, since that's what the gods used to trap the demons in hell. However, once you release the demons from hell, walls made of anything will stop them short (even walls made out of soap).
  • In L.A. Noire the huge twist of the level "Manifest Destiny" is that Cole's affair is splashed across the newspapers to distract the media from a LAPD corruption scandal, derailing his career and getting him demoted to arson. But the level itself is a completely chaotic bloodbath, with nearly Cole's entire Marine unit being massacred by the mafia in broad daylight with stolen US army guns, revealing a mob mole inside the LAPD. This makes the "twist" nonsensical, as those murders should have easily taken precedence. The game justifies this by having the upper echelons of the LAPD focus on Cole's issues rather than the case because he was getting too close to uncovering their corruption. In theory, the case would still be investigated, and later cutscenes make it clear that Roy is now heading the investigation, but because Roy's corrupt too, it never actually goes anywhere. Which is exactly what the LAPD wants.

Fridge LogicConsistencyHandwave
Cutscene IncompetenceShow, Don't TellInstructive Level Design
Error IndexVideo Game TropesGaming Stat Tropes
Gallows HumorWe Are Not Alone IndexGangsta Style

alternative title(s): Story And Gameplay Segregation; Game Play Story Segregation; Gameplay And Story Separation; Canon Shadow; Ludonarrative Dissonance
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