Giving a tutorial to a player in a game is not particularly easy to do well. Even many better-done Justified Tutorials have to resort to Painting the Medium via on-screen text or the like to get across the fact that you must push button X to do action Y.
Then you have game tutorials where both the Fourth Wall and Willing Suspension of Disbelief are jarringly thrown out the window. When the instructions for the button presses come right out of the character's mouths, it's clear that He Knows About Timed Hits.
Obviously, given the fantastical settings of most games, the characters in it should not have any way of knowing that they are in a game, or even what a video game is in many cases. Because of this, even the game designers are prone to hang a lampshade on it.
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Action Adventure Games
Several games in the Zelda series, most particularly the The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening and The Legend of Zelda Oracle games, had some grating early-game areas where people cryptically explained the interface (for example, a child tells Link, "Hey, to save the game, press all the buttons at once! Eh? What does that mean? I don't know, I'm just a kid!").
Made especially confusing by the fact that the button combo in question - A+B+Select+Start - is used on most other Game Boy games to force a Soft Reset.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past had some castle soldiers that would talk to you at the beginning of the game when trying to free Zelda from prison in Tutorial form - "I bet you can't wait until you're old enough to use a sword! (Press B to use your sword once you get it.)" Unfortunately, this was rarely noticed as the player was trying to avoid detection, not to mention that the first thing the soldier says is "Hey hey! You're not allowed in the castle, son! Go home and get some sleep!"
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time had an NPC that would tell Link "Please! With C! Sell me something with C!" What he means is he wants one of your C button items to buy, but is vague on what exactly he wants. He only wants fish, bugs, and poes. Potions and milk won't work since Link drinks it instead.
Later versions clarify (slightly) by having him specify, "Sell me the contents of a bottle".
OOT leaps headlong into this, hilariously. The tutorial portion has the Know-It-All Brothers explaining the game mechanics, equipment screen, etc. as if it's all normal but without truly getting into Medium Awareness. Once you return to the forest later in the game, one of them will even say "Show me some fancy fencing! All I've done is tap B all my life!"
Majora's Mask: Had the Curiosity Shop Guy do the same thing. Others said "show me something with C".
The Wind Waker: Aryll, when she teaches Link how to use her telescope; Sturgeon, both in person and in his notes; Orca, when teaching him swordsmanship; and Niko, when teaching him how to swing. Also, Sturgeon's granddaughter Sue-Belle tells you how to pick up, throw, and put down pots so you can tell Aryll how.
Twilight Princess: The kids, when they clamor for a demonstration of Link's skill with sword and slingshot; Midna, in instructing him about his powers; and The Hero's Spirit, when teaching him new skills. Also, Jaggle tells you that his kids don't seem to grasp the concept of Z-targeting (or L-targeting in the Gamecube version) to talk to somebody from a distance.
The original game would show you the basic plot of the game and a list of all the items Link could find, and closed with Link holding up a parchment that said, "Please look up the manual for details."
A lampshade is also hung in Astérix & Obelix XXL 2: Mission Las Vegum, where the characters will audibly wonder about who their advisor is talking to, and express explicit concern over a certain "button" he keeps mentioning.
In the first six games of Tomb Raider series, Lara Croft herself tells the player how to control her, always mentioning which button to press and staying in character throughout.
In Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, Lara's guide Verner Von Croy tells Lara the controls for the game throughout the first level, while she simply listens without noticing anything odd.
In The Simpsons Hit And Run, the tutorial missions are narrated by an extremely bored Bart. (as well as commentary on unlocked achievements and any new item type).
In The Simpsons Game for next-gen systems, the tutorials are entirely justified, as the various characters find out they're in a video game that they found the manual for, so when they learn about a new ability, they just read the manual to find out what to do. And the manual they're reading is the same manual included with the game, so you can read along.
It's then subverted later in the game when Bart starts pointing out various videogame tropes, like the fact that an alien UFO shoots four lasers and then exposes its weakpoint that they can hit. The aliens are listening in, question why the hell they do that, correct the mistake, and then go off and destroy some stuff.
In Cave Story, there's Cthulhu at the very right side of Grasstown who gives you advice to hold down the jump button while on vents to float higher. Later, there's Booster and his instruction on how to use Booster 0.8.
Booster's instructions could be referring to buttons on the device he's showing you how to use.
The first few logs you find in Iji are from Dan, and detail the controls, moves, etc. Dan himself will chime in a the very beginning of the harder Difficulty Levels, explaining how they're different from the "Normal" difficulty. Then, you find this log:
Author: Tasen Scout KT581:PKBE Subject: What's a `Pause menu`? Seriously. Commander keeps telling us, 'if you ever forget about your weapons, enemies or abilities, check the Pause menu by pressing Escape'. If this is some new helmet interface upgrade, I bet the Soldiers are keeping it from us Scouts.
In the Dragon Ball Z game, Buu's Fury, there is an area in the beginning of the game where several characters are training, and they tell you the various commands.
Hilariously lampshaded by one guy who says something along the lines of:
NPC: What are all these guys talking about a buttons and b buttons and hp bars? Do they think we're in a video game or something?
In Ōkami, Exposition Fairy Issun will lead the player around by the nose at first (almost literally). Thinly-justified since he's dealing with a goddess in the form of a wolf who has been a statue up until about five minutes ago.
Jables's Adventure features a few tongue-in-cheek tutorials. For example, to explain that you press X to fire the gun:
Squiddy: Have you noticed how much the trigger looks like an [X]? Jable: The resemblance is uncanny!
In Star Fox Adventures, some of the Earth Walkers at Krazoa Palace tell Krystal how to go into Head View, how to roll, and how to sidestep; and The Warpstone tells Fox to press the Control Stick to go to one of the three places he makes it possible to go to, or to press B so he can go back to sleep.
In the first Buffy game on the Xbox, Giles has Buffy go through training. Where the vampires come from is explained as being all a dream. Chaos Bleeds revolves around an attack on the Magic Shop, where Buffy is guided by Giles, Xander is guided by Anya, Willow is guided by Tara and Spike is mocked by Buffy.
Dust: An Elysian Tail uses this as well, though the game being fully voice-acted leads to the text showing you a picture of the right mouse button while the voice-over calls it 'the secondary attack button' which can be jarring. The game plays with this early on, however, to help establish your support character as a loudmouth.
Fidget (text): "If you press [middle mouse button]..."
Fidget (voice): "If you press the super mega awesome Fidget attack button..."
In the game adaptations of the first two Spider-Man movies, you begin as Peter Parker getting a tutorial on running, jumping, locking on, attacking, web-slinging, and the works from a rather humorous narrator (voiced by Bruce Campbell) who appears to be speaking in the point of view of an audience member, or, in this case, a player. At one point, he leaves the tutorial to go get a sandwich - his next voiceover starts with him smacking his fingers.
"Go ahead, just jump off that building. No worries, go ahead, do it. ...wow, you actually jumped off. Do you always do what people tell you? Well, in order to avoid you hitting the ground at terminal velocity, I suppose I should tell you how to keep from becoming road pizza."
(if you shoot a webline before he berates you) "Huh. Guess you're smarter than you look."
(If you try to crawl down the side of the building instead) "Yeah, funny how when I said 'jump', I actually meant 'jump', not 'crawl'? C'mon! Do it right!"
Ultimate Spider-Man. Peter Parker is naturally chatty, which the programmers use. Straight up text-commands on the screen combine with Parker's rambling to provide a tutorial. But to really make it noteable, in the context of the game, Parker notes that his double-jump completely violates the laws of physics. "Along with everything else I do."
Mentioned again in the game adaption of the third movie during the tutorial sequence once again narrated by Bruce Campbell. After being instructed on how to double-jump Campbell states how this is also known as 'completely breaking the law of physics.'
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions: Amazing Spidey is tutored in the ways of the controls by Madame Web and onscreen instructions, but Spider-Man can't help lampshading this. "This quest involves jumping!?"
Lampshaded in The Emperor's New Groove Playstation game: the children giving control instructions have no idea exactly what they're talking about ("I can't find my square button...") and the main character repeatedly wonders how the kids keep beating him to wherever he's going, among other things. (Which they simply answer by admitting that they're tutorial characters.)
Legend of Kay gets around this, somewhat. The game features both on-screen text and voice acting for nearly everything, but in the beginning, when teaching Kay the basics of fighting, the voice acting for the characters describe everything that Kay needs to do, but only the text itself references specific button pushes.
In the adventure game Titanic: Adventure Out of Time, upon first trying to leave your state room, the steward Smethells will prompt you for a tutorial and proceed to tell you how to move about and examine things using the arrow keys and mouse.
The Book of Patterns included with the LucasArts adventure game Loom is written entirely in the style of an authentic in-universe document, except for the iconic instruction: "A wise spellweaver always writes in pencil."
Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures has Bonifacio, a man sitting near a fountain whose only role is to provide you a tutorial. He very quickly breaks character by telling you about how to walk, push objects, or pick up items with your mouse, and finally how to adjust the difficulty in the options menu.
BlazBlue: Continuum Shift has a tutorial consisting of vampire-girl Rachel giving game advice in the most sarcastic and insulting way possible. ("Goodness, you managed to walk forward! I may faint from surprise," and "Do try to let this information permeate that mass of rotting meat you call a brain.")
Mortal Kombat Deception has Konquest Mode, something of an adventure mode that leads to either training or defeating the playable cast (barring any console exclusives like Shao Kahn or Blaze). For the tutorials, they have characters teach the Player Character, Shujinko, how to perform the attacks, fighting styles and combos at their disposal.
First Person Shooter
Half Life has this of course with the holographic woman giving you primers on basic actions and specifically mentioning button presses. Curiously, in the expansion pack Opposing Force you get to visit the wreckage of the training area and the hologram is playing, although the tutorials she recites are completely in-character and make no mention of button presses.
And, oddly enough, her detached and vaguely smug personality was an influence on another Valve character, GLADoS. She was even made a playable character in Half-Life: Decay.
Averted in the sequel. Valve put heavy effort in making the tutorial sections as natural as possible, going for onscreen prompts and naturally obstacles rather than actual dialogue.
Played with in Portal2 where Wheatley asks you to say apple, and the usual onscreen prompt tells you that the space bar causes Chell to speak. Instead, you jump, and Wheatley concludes that you've had massive brain damage.
Reyes on the keyboard controls in Deus Ex's tutorial.
Receiver's plot revolves around the player character finding and listening to tapes explaining the situation. Given that Receiver's whole shtick is giving every single function on the gun a corresponding button, one of these tapes tells the player character to refer to diagrams labelled things like "LMB" and "RMB" to perform various tasks.
Done often in the WarioWare games when starting levels for a new developer. Smooth Moves interrupts gameplay periodically to show you how to use a new form, with a narrator speaking in a relaxing tone about that particular style, complete with soft piano in the background. Example:
"The Remote Control. Hold the Form Baton straight with the tip pointing forward. This simple stance reflects one of life's greatest - and fiercest - sports: channel surfing."
In Star Fox 64, most instructions exclude button presses from the verbal part: the character will simply say "Do a barrel roll!" while pictures of the buttons to be pressed appear in the text box but are not spoken. However, there is a part where Peppy says, "To barrel roll, press Z or R twice!"
The cat in the Wii Photo Channel explains how to use the B button to scroll, but has no idea where to find this B button. (It's on the back of the Wii remote.)
The tutorial in Achaea does its best to have a fourth wall - being a text game, the only hints about controls are that anything the player actually needs to type in to progress will appear in CAPITALS when the guide says it.
Some non-player characters in RuneScape explain some of the game's controls, minigame rules etc. and especially when it comes to keeping password safe.
World of Warcraft recently re-did the beginning of the game so that your trainer gives you a specific quest to use your first learned abilities, either on training dummies (for damage-dealing classes) or on wounded comrades (for healer classes). This provides a plausible way of showcasing your class's abilities without breaking the fourth wall. Before this, the start zones were not implemented as an explicit tutorial but the in-game engine included tutorial windows, souped up in a patch in 2009, which by default appear every time you start the first new character on a new server.
City of Heroes relegates much of its tutorial to a strangely serene voice that interrupts the frantic police chatter of the minor apocalypse you're going through in order to tell you how to control your character. However, the fourth wall is rendered semi-transparent in the ongoing Tutorial missions available from Twinshot and Dr. Graves. The dialogue about experience points, chat channels, and enhancements are written in such a manner as to seem plausible in the four color comic book world City of Heroes takes place in. Flambeaux's excitement over finding an enhancement that ensures the stability of her hair is particularly memorable, though.
While it isn't a tutorial mission, one of the random tips you can find during the Valentines Day event strongly implies that the color based threat ranking system used in the UI is a canon element so prevalent, that even the extra-dimensional invaders use it.
The tutorials from the Sly Cooper series mention button names in-character, and no one bats an eye. It's gotten to the point that the oft repeated "Jump and press the Circle Button," tutorial has achieved something of a memetic position with both the creators and the fandom.
Practically every Nintendo DS game in existence needs one of these, given the unusual control scheme. Expect many, many NPCs teaching you how to walk with the stylus. A few games, such as Kirby Canvas Curse, have an in-game device, representing the stylus.
In Super Mario Sunshine, FLUDD, your talking water pump, gives you a tutorial that mentions the L and R buttons.
Possibly justified in that FLUDD is a machine and could be referring to buttons on its...body?
Kirby Super Star featured the "Beginner's Show", where a narrator taught Kirby and the player basic game functions in front of a live studio audience.
Although this returns in Kirby Super Star Ultra, it takes a step backwards by not giving the player any opportunities to test the controls in the tutorial itself.
Narrator: "This is the controller! It's the gray thing with the purple buttons!"
In the second, third, and fourth Spyro games, the first level is devoted mostly to teaching you how to play the game. As such, you will be stopped quite often by characters such as Hunter, who will yell at you things like "Press the JUMP button to glide! If you press the TRIANGLE button, you will hover! Remember, hold L2 and R2 to center the camera behind you! Do you like the Active Camera mode, or shall I change it to the Passive camera mode?" In fact, they're so overly enthusiastic about telling you how to use the buttons on your controller that it makes you wonder if they're lampshading this trope.
In The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning, the main character is given tutorials by the Dragon Elders. This is, however, an avoidance of the trope, as listening to the background noise while the text instructions come up on the HUD allows you to hear standard martial arts training.
Mega Man X5 has a tutorial explaining the basic controls of the game. It might have been justified since the inclusion of ducking, for the first time ever in a platformer-style Mega Man game, though gamers would have been able to read the damn manual or press down instictively.
However, since it was optional, gamers who jumped straight into the main game were greeted with Alia, a navigator that wouldn't stop interrupting youat the worst times about the most inane things. Yes, I see the spikes up ahead. No, I did not plan on trying to walk on them. Her commentary could not be skipped, unfortunately. Thankfully, in X6, though she returns, listening is optional.
Ironically, she actually had some plot-relevant things to say (especially pre-boss fight) in X6.
Conkers Bad Fur Day begins with an in-character tutorial/explanation involving both the player squirrel and other NPCs talking to each other and to the player. Possible subversion as many of the characters, including Conker himself, are drunk and rambling. There is also the implementation of large 'B' buttons in the game world where the user is prompted to 'Press B' for context sensitive actions. (The NPC who explains this mechanic flounders humorously. "It's sensitive to... to contexts.") Later on the player will have to buy a manual to explain some of the more complex moves to both himself and the player. ("Ten dollars. Manual love you long time.")
This even occurs when fighting the final boss, if you listen to the ship's AI.
Ship AI: "Did you know you can block? Hold down the Z-trigger. Idiot."
In the Sonic the Hedgehog series of games, especially the newer, three-dimensional incarnations, there is often a helper character who explains basic controls in a somewhat grating fashion. In Sonic Heroes and Shadow the Hedgehog, it's a helper character or a non-active member of the team. This is usually grating and irritating, especially in Heroes' tutorial mode, but Shadow used the trope to help characterize Sonic and Knuckles. Sonic and Knuckles explain guns to Shadow but remark about how they wouldn't use them.
Throughout Rayman 2: The Great Escape, characters occasionally tell you button commands in the usual throwaway manner (usually whenever you get a new power up). However, this particular exchange stands out:
The Banjo-Kazooie games are a pretty odd example: the different moves are taught by various mole characters who always address the eponymous duo, never the player (even though the fourth wall is broken a lot in general) yet still make references to the controller buttons. Jamjars' sequences in Tooie are particularly noteworthy because they rhyme, and given that one N64 controller button is Z, some of the rhymes only work if you use the British pronunciation (zed).
What makes it funnier is that the controls have been changed in the XBLA version, yet Jamjars recites the same instructions with the new controls inserted. Obviously, it no longer rhymes.
Mega Man Zero 2 has a very bizarre and depressing example where a resistance soldier tells Zero to press up on the D-pad to talk to people.
In the Flash game Colour My Heart and sequels, B+W City contains signs telling you to use the arrow keys to move, and the mouse to interact with objects. Well, it's better than the signs telling you to give up now...
The Flash game Elephant Quest has other elephants explaining to your elephant that he can move with the arrow keys, shoot with the mouse and press the down key to talk. Then one of them adds "What's a down key?"
In the DS version of Super Mario 64, Bowser says this during the first fight with him: "A wimp like you could never throw me out by circling the touch screen! Never!"
In Wario World, some of the Spritelings explain some of the controls upon being freed.
Hotel Mario features Mario blatantly Breaking the Fourth Wall and saying "if you need instructions on how to get through the hotels, check out the enclosed instruction book". The cutscene even pauses for a few moments, presumably to give the user time to find said instruction book.
Done quite cleverly in Fixation, the prequel to The Company Of Myself: The player character is meeting a therapist, and as the player is learning the controls of the game, the character (who's suffered a mental breakdown) needs to learn to do simple stuff like breathing and talking all over again.
Therapist: Try to forget about your problems for a second. For now, let's just think about either the S or Down Arrow Key.
Real Time Strategy
In the World in Conflict tutorial, you are a West Point graduate undergoing additional training before being sent to fight in the war against the Soviets. However, that doesn't stop your instructor from mentioning the various mouse and keyboard controls. A particularly surreal moment occurs in the first part of the training where you instructor promps you to move the camera in every conceivable way culminating in a section where you must move it through floating red rings and finally claiming that "They DO teach useful things at West Point". Not being American, this editor didn't realize the lack of training in camera control skills were such a controversial issue in the American military, but is glad such serious issues are being adressed in video games.
Narrator: "Now hit the space bar. No! The space bar! The big key below all the little keys!"
In Space Channel 5 (particularly in Part 2), Fuse, the director of the in-game newscast, does this frequently. For example, he says, "Press the X button when you hear 'Chu!'" and "Press down on the directional arrows, you've got a guitar, too!"
Role Playing Games
The Trope Namer is Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, where early in the game Toad offers to teach Mario how to use items and Timed Hits. If the player declines to listen to the (optional) tutorial, Toad tells The Goomba that has shown up (for the sole purpose of being a teaching aid) that Mario already knows about Timed Hits, causing it to run away in fear.
Lampshaded in Super Paper Mario: whenever one of these comes up, it becomes clear that Mario has no idea what the person is talking about, and they simply say something about how the "great being who watches us from another dimension" will understand it. This game also has a character that professes to have hot tips on how to make your quest easier, but serves as another lampshade when they turn out to be things like "You can press 2 to jump!" more than halfway through the game. It's really there to set up the guy in his place in Flopside who is much less confident in his much better advice about hidden areas and such.
Played with in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. In the third chapter of the game, Mario is given a tutorial on how to challenge opponents in the Glitz Pit. When Mario is signed up for the tournament, a Toad named Jolene gives Mario in-depth instructions, button commands and all. Later, one of the fighters in the tournament is force to retire, and a newcomer comes to take his place. Jolene takes the newcomer in and gives him the exact same instructions as she did to Mario, once again including button commands.
You're also asked to meet certain conditions in each match in order to advance. These usually include "Appeal three times," "Don't attack for three rounds" or "Only let your partner attack." The newcomer's instructions are to "do a move with a triple backflip while making a cat noise."
The best example has to be from the modern update of The Bard's Tale where an old man NPC appears out of nowhere in a basement to explain the game's basics- but to the Bard and not the player. The bard assumes the man completely insane and basically plays along while the man gives the tutorial.
Lampshaded in Persona 4, where in one instance one of the NPCs tells you how to use the square button to fast-travel, and then follows up with something along the lines of "Do you think I'm weird for saying these things...?"
Something similar occurs in Persona 3 Portable, where a character explains that you can fast travel by using the square button and says "...though I don't know where you'd find one of those."
Atelier Iris interrupts the story for a long series of amusing "Popo's Fourth-Wall Lecture" tutorials whenever a new skill or technique becomes relevant. Popo will occasionally call other characters to help him explain things.
The second Dark Cloud game has a tutorial given by Donny, who shatters the fourth wall talking about buttons and menus. Max acts completely normal. This is really the only time the fourth wall is absolutely broken during the length of the game.
Additional tutorials can be accessed during the game from the menu, but these are standalone scenes. The first few tutorials are given in regular dialog and just seem really out of place.
Most Final Fantasy games have a "Beginners Hall", where you are taught about various in-game functions. They try to do it in character, particularly in Final Fantasy VII where Cloud, as an experienced fighter, does the lecturing, but talk about slots and buttons still makes it in. An extra bout of comedy can be gained by talking to other students and their instructors, often being told the same thing: "No, dummy, you press 'X' to attack." Cloud even converses with the map cursor above his head at one point: "Huh? Finger? What the hell?" He also makes a sarcastic remark about one of the status effects, and talks about how to use the buttons to force one of his allies (who he has a certain rivalry with) to do more work. This game also has the infamous "If you press the Cancel Button (earlier marked X) to run," which like most such Engrish was corrected in the game's PC port.
Final Fantasy VIII also tries to work the tutorials around the characters and plots. Most of the tutorials are given to you by your teacher, so it makes a certain amount of sense that she would be lecturing you on the basics... except that the tutorial sequences all happen either immediately before or sometime after the second half of your final exam (the written portion having already occurred a week before the game began) so there's really no point at which you're told anything that the characters shouldn't already know.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance has Mr. Leslaie and Ritz for the movement. While the Laws and JP are introduced by Montblanc and the Judge. Its sequel has Cid's clan mates which are a Nu Mou Black Mage and a Viera White Mage.
In Crisis Core various characters talk about the menu and the buttons with straight faces.
Technically this is averted. He will hold your hand through the first sections, but he only breaks the fourth wall if the player asks for help or stands still for too long. So if you know what you're doing, it is possible to play through the tutorial without this trope coming into play.
Sort of played straight and lampshaded at the same time in the sequel when introducing the new NPC influence feature. Someone says something, then the HUD explains how the influence system works in place of where dialogue would normally go, as the camera looks at various characters standing there. Afterwards, someone asks if you're ok, since you just stood there blankly for the duration of a line, and you get a chance to try influence.
Pokémon, in any incarnation, does this a lot. NPCs all over the world tell you initially about game mechanics and what buttons to press by means of pleasant conversation, and later explain the intricacies of certain attacks and strategies. FireRed/LeafGreen, remakes of the first games, turn it more into a Justified Tutorial by providing items such as a "Teachy TV" which allows you to watch an irritating TV presenter go through game mechanics.
A variant of the "I'm saving my game" person has also been in both the second and third generations of Pokémon games, though in the fourth generation they do try to keep in-character by explaining it as writing down your data in a journal. This all makes more sense in the Japanese versions of the games, where the "Save" command has always been known as "Report".
There are several pairs of NPCs in various locations who claim to be trading their Pokémon while holding Game Boys.
Even your mom has to teach you how to run: at the start of the games, she gets you a pair of "running shoes" which... include their own manual! Naturally, your mom proceeds to "read the instructions".
In Tales of the Abyss the hero's martial arts teacher, who has been teaching him for years, goes over how to use the controller and attack. The concept of teaching him the very basics after years of training and practice is strange enough, but him naming the controller buttons to push sounds even sillier than you might think.
Tales of Symphonia has Genis fulfilling that role towards Lloyd when a wild monster wanders into the village. Even sillier because Lloyd is a self-learned swordsman and should probably know these things already, whereas Genis is a wizard who's had no part whatsoever in Lloyd's training.
Tales of Phantasia has several NPCs who keep mentioning D-Pad combinations to use when a certain item has been found and much more general instructions on how use Rheiards.
Tales of Vesperia and Tales of Graces both subvert this, doing away with immersion-breaking tutorials because all of the characters involved are seasoned warriors (and in Vesperia, everyone except Yuri and Karol are some variety of Magic Knight, leading to homogenized movesets.) Game controls are instead explained through on-screen hot tips during or after battles.
Nearly averted in The Misadventures Of Tron Bonne. Tron goes to great lengths to explain the mechanics one of the game modes in almost believable in-universe terms to one of the Servbots, and then reassures him that he can press START to retry if he doesn't understand.
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga: Several sets of Koopas on board the Koopa Cruiser seem to be ignoring you while engrossed in lessons about basic things like switching the lead character, jumping, and so on. And you see them accomplishing these actions. Presumably the guy at their controls has nothing better to do than to keep pressing their buttons.
Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story does this normally with many tutorials, although the strangest one is where Fawful warns Bowser's opponent about the timed hits Bowser is supposed to do. Do not press X now! and BADNESS! If you are holding back your punch to the last second, pressing X, that is BADNESS! Do not have naughtiness and press X at that timing!. Of course, doing what Fawful says not to do makes Bowser hit Midbus twice as hard.
Several Mega Man Battle Network games have particularly grating examples of this trope (a couple justified it, but not much). Each time, Lan and MegaMan talk their way through a three-round battle with basic enemies — and Lan, whose NetBattling skill has repeatedly saved the world, always forgets at least one essential point. Most annoying of all, the first game is the only one where you can skip this, even though it's also the only one where you're likely to need it!
During the prologue of MOTHER 3, Hinawa's father Alec interrupts Lucas and Claus's playtime to explain how dashing works ("Try to imagine something called a B button!"); after the Mole Cricket battle, he breaks the fourth wall to explain how to save (by talking to frogs.)
In one of the game's most defining scenes, the player is directly asked to suspend their disbelief during a tutorial.
Live A Live attempts an exceptionally strange variation on this in its Prehistoric chapter, where a village elder attempts to explain Pogo's ability to the player despite the fact that their storyline predates spoken language. To solve this, the elder holds up a giant rock with a letter "B" engraved on it to indicate "press B to activate the ability." This, combined with an absurd amount of pantomime, resulted in an explanation that confused as much as it helped. Akira's chapter has a more normal version of it where Akira himself explains how to use his telepathy.
Justified in Kingdom Hearts, where the tutorial intro is a dream sequence with an otherworldly narrator of some sort explaining the controls to Sora.
Gothic averts this by not explaining to you the new timings or key presses when you get training, leaving you to figure out how to use a few of its trick moves and what perks you've gained from this training. The dialogue the NPCs do give seems to be a more realistic approach to accomplish the training - not holding a one-handed weapon with two hands, a mistake your character had been previously making and corrects himself on for the rest of the game - rather than a meta-game technical "press (buttons) to perform (moves)".
The trainer also explains how to do more complex maneuvers, such as after striking forward twice, you should spin around, as this often confuse opponents.
Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus features a pre-monsterized Vincent (still in the Turks) undergoing "simulation battles" for training purposes. The female computerized voice (if I recall correctly) doesn't reference buttons, but does ask you to do specific actions in order to pass to the next tutorial level.
Eternal Sonata has Polka do the first part of the tutorial by talking to herself. In the later parts, Allegretto teaches Beat to fight. But of course he's still talking about user interface and button presses instead of anything in-character.
Prelude of Neverwinter Nights lampshades it a bit by starting in Academy and all that, though it's still impossible to do in-character.
Magna Carta II: The characters will go over gameplay basics both in the optional tutorial and in the story proper without any attempt at integrating it into the plot whatsoever. They seriously sound like they're reading the instruction manual themselves!
While raiding the ship in Dubloon, there are question-marks that give instructions on how to play the game. Once you're finished however, further instructions are given by signposts and people.
The .hack//G.U. Games have an odd example of this. The game is set in an MMORPG, and so it make sense for other people to instruct the player how to play the game, except that their instructions are for a PS2 controller, and cut-scenes show that people play "The World R:2" mostly via wearable computers with chorded keyboards.
Actually they are using ps2-like controllers, and Atoli even mentions having to get a new specialized controller at one point.
In Last Scenario, a villager who teaches you about Hex mentions that you have to press the shift key to challenge someone for a game.
The first Baldur's Gate game had a tutorial section set around Candlekeep before you leave with Gorion, which even incorporated an illusionist who conjured up extra party members to help you learn how to fight as a group. This was a pretty purposeful invocation of the tutorial trope, though: the inhabitants of Candlekeep know you are going on a journey and are teaching you survival skills. The second game has a long-ish prologue where you fight your way out of imprisonment, meet the characters from the first game who were ported to the second, and acquire new, level appropriate equipment, but it's not a tutorial as such and it's assumed you know something about how to play the game.
Actually, there is a whole separate tutorial mode in the second game.
Comes up in TCT RPG; during a bout of childhood imaginary battling, Alex explains the controls to Kyle while he plays superhero and she a supervillain. Later on, children claim to have been visited by angels in their sleep... telling them stuff relating to the controls.
The first Shadow Hearts game subverts this altogether as all the tutorials are done entirely via Infodump through the Help option in the main menu. Both Covenant and From the New World do feature tutorials addressed to the player about the new and improved battle system, though.
Tutorial of Babylon 5: I've Found Her does it in-character and lampshades head-to-toe.
Vega Strike has in-character tutor. GNN says "Cephid Security Initiative (CSI) is offering training for pilots with the purpose of enhancing flight safety". That turns out to be one guy, Oswald on a LIHW light fighter hanging near the Player Character's starting point, to explain ship controls and give tutorial mission objectives. PC being an independent Privateer in open space, it's of no consequence whether player follows his instructions or simply ignores him and continues to accelerate until the little nuisance is beyond communication range.
MechWarrior 2 uses this in its tutorial missions. The keyboard is explained away as a "control console" but...it's a keyboard. Complete with keys such as Ctrl and Tab.
Robot Alchemic Drive justifies it because, as shown in an early cutscene, you're controlling your giant robot with an exact replica of the PS2 controller.
Many recent Harvest Moon games feature a very lengthy introduction, often peppered with various tutorials regarding game mechanics. Sometimes, these tutorials are optional... sometimes, not so much. The information is usually often kept on a bookshelf in your character's house, as well, for later reference. Unlocking new things to do will also often lead to more tutorials (like buying an animal, planting a crop, unlocking a paddy, etc).
Stealth Based Games
In Metal Gear, Otacon tends to talk about buttons and memory cards to Snake, who doesn't break character and assumes his fellow is just being nuts. Then again, in the MGS-verse, everyone does this, at least once, without batting an eyelid. Pressing buttons to hear Snake's thoughts on Otacon's button-ramblings usually results in a snappish, irritable "I know all this, I'm the main character!" and a torture minigame is introduced with a creepily cheerful button exposition sequence, culminating in the torturer looking straight at the screen with a growly, "Don't even think about using Auto-Fire, or I'll know." The MGS series is probably the only one to actually implement this trope as character development as much as player tutorial, and its No Fourth Wall instruction sequences are regarded very fondly by fans.
Would-be cheaters should be advised that Ocelot's warning against using a turbo controller is not an idle threat.
After the Tanker chapter is finished, Raiden's introduction includes the exact same tutorial that Snake got. For the record, that's a plot point.
In Metal Gear Solid 3 The Boss gives a complicated and difficult sounding explanation of how one would move silently in real life. However, Snake is speechless for a second and The Boss settles for saying "But all you need to do is press the directional button in the direction you wish to move," since the real life info is pretty much useless to the player.
And in Metal Gear Solid, where Miller describes how to 'stalk' over a 'noisy floor', giving a long description of how to adjust weight and move feet and so on, and then suggests he could wear his socks over his shoes as well. Snake complains that he can't do any of that, so Miller suggests he presses X to crawl.
Resident Evil Outbreak File #2 contains an entire scenario, "Training Ground", devoted to explaining the mechanics of the game as well as updates from the first game's controls, using partner characters and sudden changes in status to let you perform the functions it asks of you.
Wonderfully done in Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, where Etna gives the tutorials and stays perfectly in character throughout. This tends to involve bullying the hell out of Laharl. At one point, the game automatically plays through a battle sequence, resulting in Laharl getting killed - he complains that he doesn't like this tutorial. When Etna comments that only an idiot would do that, he yells at her for 'making' him do it.
Disgaea 2 does basically the same thing with Adell and Rozalin.
At the start of Makai Kingdom Overlord Zetta says "I'm going to ramble on for a bit." then proceeds to deliver a tutorial to the player. (There's nobody else listening.) But Zetta's Netherworld seems to lack a Fourth Wall to begin with.
Non-Video Game Examples
In the French Game Book series Les Messagers du Temps, the protagonists' mother Chronada will explain to them and the reader about how to use their dice to roll for their statistic points and fighting.
Parodied in the RPG webcomic Adventurers!! in which one of the characters complains that he doesn't have an "X button."