Link: Dude, if I just thrash around in the grass, money appears. Money literally just shows up out of nowhere. Citizen: I watched a living skeleton decapitate my parents. Link: These vases, they have money in 'em too!
In the third sequel, they removed it after it proved to be not just barrels of fun, but also very profitable.
Castlevania series is filled with candles and torches ready to be whipped. The American manual for Castlevania III explained that Trevor Belmont, one of the first Belmonts to fight Dracula, made a deal with a benevolent spirit called the Poltergeist King so that he would hide beneficial items and equipment throughout Dracula's castle. Note that the Poltergeist King is never mentioned in the original Japanese manual, as he was strictly a creation of the game's American localization and no other game in the series contains any reference to him.
In Symphony of the Night, Alucard requires a Relic to accomplish the same feat, but that does not seem to be a problem for other non-Belmont vampire hunters in the castle.
In Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, it was said that Walter left all those items lying around for the added challenge. Otherwise, adventurers died too easily.
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap explains that there are tiny little people called the Minish who hide money under plants and other objects for heroes to find. This is a weak justification at best; the entire series is a prime abuser of this trope. Hey, in The Minish Cap, you must knock down huge trees, smash the mayor's valuble mask collection, and of course, break into houses and open chests to steal rupees and Kinstones, and nobody says a thing.
Twilight Princess lampshades the tendency for players to smash jars to find what's inside by having one shopkeeper note that some people like to smash jars. If you bump into the walls to try to get the jars on her shelf to fall, she'll kick you out and won't let you back in until you apologize.
There is also an old man who will berate you if you smash a pumpkin near him.
TP also had a minor tweak on the Die, Chair! Die! pattern: a few barrels, usually located around goblins, are marked with a big white X and apparently contain gunpowder (they explode when disturbed, which causes damage if you're standing too close).
In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, a room off the drawbridge to Castle Town contains NOTHING BUT several dozen jars and boxes... and a bored guard who is happy to let you smash them to let off some steam. It only appears when you're a kid, though.
Actually, it also has gold Skulltulla hiding in one of the crates. And it's still there as an adult, it just doesn't have nearly as many jars and is far creepier; a creepy ghost person is there now, and asks that you give him the souls of some ghosts.
In The Legend of Zelda and again in the The Legend of Zelda Oracle games, it was possible to burn some bushes/saplings. Some of them had old men who would yell at you for burning down/destroying the "door" to their hiding place and would take some of your money to have it repaired. This is justified by the fact, that most of these people were probably hiding from all the monsters roaming the overworld: with their door gone, they are completely exposed. There were also Moblins who, if you you found them, would bribe you not to give away their hiding place, accompanied by the words "It's a secret to everybody."
Similarly, in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, there are thieves who, if you use a bomb to destroy a wall and reveal their hiding place, will give you 500 rupees and the words, "Let's keep this between us, okay?"
In Oracle of Ages, there's one point where burning a sapling in one time period will result in the owner charging you. however, burning the same sapling in the other time period will result in the owner giving you rupees.
In Ocarina of Time during the final battle (and during the Iron Knuckle fights in the Spirit Temple), you can even trick the boss into smashing some rubble for powerups. Similiarly, part of the final stretch of battles in Twilight Princess has the boss running around smashing pillars in the room that also leave behind power-ups.
A number of underground grottoes in The Wind Waker contain pillars and Darknuts. Using the Darknuts' swords to smash the pillars tends to release large amounts of Rupees. You could also use the Skull Hammer.
In Skyward Sword, breaking the chandelier in the Lumpy Pumpkin earns you a heart piece... And a job topay off the damages you've just incurred. Eventually double-subverted, since completing all the (rather trivial) jobs given by the owner of the Pumpkin earns you another heart piece, and you can't get either one without breaking the original chandelier.
A significant feature of the Lego Adaptation Game series, in which many things can be reduced to their component Lego bricks for fun and profit, which you then rebuild into something that lets you proceed further into the level.
The 1991 Atari driving game Road Riot 4WD rewards drivers for running over things, as evidenced by the recurring phrase "Hazard pay for Red/Blue!"
Most levels in the Ratchet & Clank games are just full of stuff that releases bolts(the game's currency) when destroyed. From light fixtures, to innocent cars flying by. The games often even have an item whose sole purpose is to allow the player to smash every object in sight with one Ground Pound.
You can occasionally earn Skill Points by breaking everything in a specific area.
Parodied in Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools Of Destruction. At one point in Apogee Station, breaking a pile of boxes causes one of the crotchety war bots trying to keep Ratchet out to complain "I just stacked those, you vandal!"
Avoided in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time; it features myriad objects scattered throughout the game that can be smashed, but there is never anything to gain by this (unless said objects are blocking your path, which is rare). The sequel games Prince of Persia: Warrior Within and Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, on the other hand, both included pots and urns that contained Sands of Time (the game's only real collectible with gameplay value) with no in-game explanation for this given. Also, weapon racks in the later games would spill temporary off-hand weapons for The Prince to use.
One of the best ways to crank up your Tequila Bomb meter in the John Woo game Stranglehold is to shoot up the environment in ways that take out bad guys in the process. To facilitate this, everything you come by in the game can be destroyed.
In the Crusader series of games, destroying the scenery is a feature...but you have to be careful. You might blow up a footlocker containing valuable equipment, though you'll never blow up anything vital. You can also blow up doors, but that sets off the alarm. In the plot, your character is basically out to annoy the hell out of the Big Bad, so destruction is a given.
The entire premise of Katamari Damacy. Find whatever public or private property (or animals, or people, or gods, or countries...) that you can and roll it up to add it to an increasingly huge ball of junk. And then let your father set it all on fire and put it in the sky.
Although reckless destruction of scenery may deny you useful goods.
Justified in Overlord. The major point of the game is to lead your army of goblins, plundering and looting your merry way across the land. The game doesn't quite explain who exactly you pay with the gold when you spend it. But who cares? It's loads of fun!
The Harry Potter games involve, peripherally to the story, smashing up vases, cauldrons, suits of armor and so on, for a cascade of Bertie Bott's beans, cauldron cakes, pumpkins. The Order of the Phoenix game is weird about this - it rewards you for tidying up Hogwarts, but you also get to rebel againstUmbridge by vandalizing the school.
Aside from the typical goodies-in-containers, Outcast lampshades this with a pottery merchant that rewards the player for having destroyed so much pottery and encourages him to do so in the future as well. After all, people always have to buy new ones to replace the broken ones...
Similarly, A Bard's Tale has a barrel merchant who pays you one silver for every barrel you break besides his. The catch is that The town he's in, the very first one, is completely destroyed by undead about 3/4s of the way through the game. By the time most people think to go back and collect on the obscene amount of money, it's usually too late. Of course, by that time you never need to worry about money anyway, whether or not you have the Treasure Hunter talent.
The Streets of Rage series always had boxes, garbage cans, tables, chairs, or barrels that contained food, money, and weapons. Though one has to wonder if eating an apple from a garbage can was really worth it and how could you stuff a money bag in a chair or hide any of the above items inside a visibly empty phone booth?
The third in the series actually has some of the enemies eat foodstuffs. Most frustrating if it was the full heal chicken.
The Warriors gave you points for simply smashing anything that could be broken. Trash cans and the like always dropped more weapons like bottles when broken.
Not only that, but you're often times rewarded with coins from blocks that are ? blocks, just unmarked and made to look like bricks. Now if only real life worked this way...
Subverted in Super Paper Mario, where upon destroying a vase, Mario is forced into indentured servitude to pay for it.
He also gets major complaints for hitting ? blocks in Bowser's Inside Story, mostly because the person in question is a large sentient block himself whose major problem with Mario's power-up gaining antics is the fact that hitting them decreases their value, which he doesn't approve of because he collects them.
Rampage, the granddaddy of all Rewarding Vandalism games. Punch out windows, steal the valuables inside, and eat innocent bystanders, all while mutated into a giant lizard or ape = win.
Paperboy: You got bonus points for smashing the windows and knocking over the trash cans of people on your route who didn't subscribe to the newspaper!
The Mayhem Missions in City of Villains, where you not only rob a bank and beat up the hero who tries to stop you but also gain extra time and achievement badges for beating up cops, destroying cars, robbing pawn shops and diamond stores, burning down buildings, and generally smashing everything in the area than can be destroyed.
Somewhat justified in the game adaptations of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After all, if Buffy is in quick need of a vamp-dusting stake, what quicker way to improvise one than by smashing a nearby box or barrel for the wood?
You can find rewards in pretty much anything in Ōkami, but things grow back, no matter how many times you destroy them.
Shooting harmless objects in Time Crisis earns you a few points and keeps your combo going. In fact, it's how some of the best players achieve high scores, particularly in Time Crisis 4 where you get a bonus for every 10 hits. If you destroy explosive objects, they kill nearby enemies and, in titles with point systems, earn you a point bonus.
In Shadow the Hedgehog, if you fire rapidly at everything you see, you'll smash an awful lot of scenery and charge up your Chaos Blast gauge - which, by using, smashes more scenery and charges up your gauge a bit more. Incidentally, by the time you come back they've fixed it all - so you can do it again.
The Sonic the Hedgehog series started out with power-ups contained in monitors. You then broke those monitors to get the good stuff. Subverted to an extent in the case of the Robotnik/Eggman monitors, which, when destroyed, damaged you as if you were hit by an enemy or spikes.
Pretty much the premise of Elebits, which involves throwing furniture around to find the eponymous tiny hidden electrical sprites. Some stages force you to not smash too many breakables or make too much noise, but generally you can be as chaotic as you like. Eventually you can start throwing cars and entire houses around too.
Christmas involves unwrapping presents in boxes, right? Well, when Final Fantasy XI had its 2008 You Mean Xmas event, they decided to let the players get such action by... er, beating up giant crates until they exploded, sometimes dropping sweets or event items.
Half Life 1 uses this straightforwardly - any objects you need to maneuver around Black Mesa's Elaborate Underground Base are indestructible, so smash away! The sequel, however, occasionally forces you to use destructible items to move forward, so you need to be more careful where and how you swing your crowbar.
In Half-Life 2 (and the episodes) you just ignore the larger crates most of the time, and destroy the smaller "supply" crates (a couple whacks with the crowbar or a short toss into the ground/wall with the gravity gun will do it).
Jazz Jackrabbit scores lots of points for razing the structures of Devan Shell's turtle army.
Gungrave encourages you to shoot any objects in the environment, which keeps your Beats going. This allows you to gain enough power for Demolition Shots and gives you a good score at the end. Objects even go through several states of breakage before they are destroyed completely. One early stage in the second game has you wreaking major havoc in a ''supermarket''...
This applies just as well to its three sequels Armed Police Batrider, Battle Bakraid, and Ibara.
Most of the battlefields in Dissidia: Final Fantasy have elements that can be destroyed in the heat of battle ranging from statues to walls to roofs to whole cliffsides. Certain items can only be obtained by actively destroying the surrounding environment.
In Twisted Metal, you are encouraged to destroy the arena. Doing so lets you access hidden areas and power-ups.
Vandalism is actually required in the final boss fight of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Harry has to cast magic spells at the decorative pillars in the room to make them fall on Voldemort.
Any good that results from destroying a Load-Bearing Boss could be considered an extreme example of this.
Any inanimate object (and plenty of the animate ones) which can be destroyed in Team Buddies will grant you ammo, health or frequently both. One of the few games in which the enemies take advantage of this as well.
Red Faction: Guerilla. And how. In addition to providing salvage, the closest thing the game has to money, destroying certain buildings or objects can raise morale or lower EDF control — both essential to success. Additionally, since nearly everything short of the actual terrain is destructible, it's also rewarded in less concrete ways, such as being able to knock down a wall for an ambush or quick escape, or break fences or pipes to find alternate entrance to a secure area.
Although the actual example of this trope does not occur in this game, World of Warcraft take this to a literal example. During the yearly Midsummer Fire Festival, you are given a chance to vandalize the opposing side's bonfires, and gain a large amount of experience from doing so.0
In the 2008 Ghostbusters game, you can blow stuff up with the Proton Stream. As an added bonus, the Xbox 360 version gives you an achievement just for blowing up every single thing in a room, while the PS3 version gives you a trophy for causing enough property damage in the game.
In the Dynasty Warriors games, you can pick up things like health boosts, extra arrows, and temporary buffs by smashing crates and urns found around the battlefield. Somewhat justified in this case, as it's not entirely implausible for the various armies to keep supplies like this on hand. Also, only about one in every three or four smashable objects holds an item.
Lost Planet rewards vandalism with thermal energy. Destroy cars, trucks and even Akrid eggs to find more energy.
Jak and Daxter: the first game rewards you with health for randomly smashing barrels and crates everywhere. The second game has health and ammo in specific Krimzon Guard crates, and in the third, breaking pots reveals hidden Precursor orbs and Metal Head skull gems.
In Spelunky, there is often gold or gems locked away in pots and in the walls. By destroying these objects, you can get more money. In the City of Gold level, all the walls are made of gold, so destroying them is extremely profitable if you don't mind destroying the archaeological dig of the millennium.
Subverted somewhat in that pots sometimes contain enemies. If you are too close when breaking one you will take damage. You also generally don't want to throw pots to break them, as a spider coming from one can be a real nuisance. It's a mistake you won't make many times.
Played straight in Fable I, where breaking barrels and pots would get you gold and/or basic items. Lampshaded and averted in the sequel, where a loading screen says something along the lines of "You didn't think you'd get anything out of those random barrels, did you?"
Played straight as an arrow in Dungeons & Dragons Online where a "breakables" bonus is given at the end of quests. It has three different tiers: Mischief, Vandalism, Ransack, reached at different levels of destruction (or in some cases not possible at all) depending on the dungeon.
Subverted, however, in the early solo quest Arachnophobia, where you automatically fail if you (or the spiders you're fighting) break ten sarcophagi.
In The Godfather: The Game, breaking stuff in a shop allows you to put extortion pressure on their owners. You can also gain a bit of cash from the cash register. You can destroy certain objects to deny enemies their use as cover. Some crates in certain missions also hide extra moneybags.
The Metroid Prime games have crates, pots, Stationary-non violent Ing etc... that provide ammo and health scattered everywhere, often with reasons why (and in one case, why you sometimes don't get an item)
In Tomb Raider: Underworld, secrets can be found by smashing various pots and things in the ruins around the world.
King's Knight had power-ups hidden among the environment, which you had to shoot in order to uncover. The four spell tokens required to complete the last level are also hidden this way, and need to be collected by all four characters in order to be used at all.
Portal has an achievement for dislodging a certain amount (20?) of Aperture Science Surveillance Cameras from the walls.
Spyro the Dragon: Most things Spyro absolutely needs, i.e. quest objects and treasure, are free-standing or found in things you can reasonably expect to be allowed to open, destroy or otherwise mess with. But in the third game, Year of the Dragon, there were Skill Points, extra lives you got for doing something particularly "skillful" or unexpected. A few rewarded vandalism, such as "smash all Piranha signs" in a swamp level where there were many warning signs telling you the water contained piranha.
Dragon Quest games since III has pots, drawers, dressers, etc. in people's houses and dungeons containing items and money. Nobody seem to mind you breaking into their houses opening their drawers if anything value inside. With the "nose for treasure" ability, you can find how many treasures left unopened. In IX, items can appear again in the same pots and drawers previously searched if you wait for a while.
An Untitled Story lets you destroy pots strewn throughout the game world to earn money.
In Purple, you can destroy TVs (which are everywhere) to get food and hearts.
Played straight and averted in The Simpsons Hit & Run. You get coins from blowing up cars, and some missions actually require destruction— but do it too much, and the police come after you and potentially take coins/destroy your car.
Jade Empire gives you money and gems for smashing earthenware vases.
In Target Terror, destroying sufficient objects and windows earns you medals such as "Duke of Destruction" and "Window Wrecker".
A Flash web game called Minotaur China Shop has you playing as a minotaur, staffing a shop in a mall that sells glass- and earthenware to various other mythological creatures. Normally, knocking over display items on the shelves on the way to getting them for the customers takes money away from your score. But break enough things, and the store gets to collect on its insurance policy, netting even more money than just filling orders. Though, once you reach that point, you have to fend off mall security, sent in to stop your rampage...
Darksiders: Apparently parking meters have souls...
Maybe demons are inserting souls in them in lieu of hard currency?
Dungeons of Dredmor has statues of Dredmor littered about. Smashing one gives you EXP in accordance with the floor you are on, every floor they are worth 50 EXP more than the previous. You also get a cheer of "Heroic vandalism!" each and every time by the announcer.
Averted in Bioshock. Smashing up the stores in Fort Frolic immediately sets off an alarm, security bots promptly fly in to shoot you and a public service announcement will chime in to inform you that only parasites commit vandalism.
In Rock of Ages, rolling your boulder into your opponent's soldiers and structures (except for cows and elephants) gives you gold.
Hiding powerup crates in buildings is a longstanding Command & Conquer tradition. Usually, these feature most heavily in commando-style missions, where you have no base and must carefully manage a few units, and a bonus health or veterancy crate can make or break the mission. A particularly bizarre example occurs in Red Alert 3, when invading Santa Monica — a section of otherwise-perfectly-normal houses on the beach yield money crates when blown up despite being a traditional base-building mission. Presumably, this represents looting the Scrooge McDuck-style money caches in all the stars' homes.
All of the LEGO games (Star Wars, Batman, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones) are littered with random stuff like plants and lighting fixtures that can be destroyed to reveal studs (the game's currency).
Saints Row The Third has Mayhem and Tank Mayhem missions whose purpose is to destroy as much as possible to reach a property damage value goal. Mayhem missions are on foot with temporarily infinitely-stocked explosive weapons, the tank version is the same thing with a tank. If you happen to have a tank handy, you can turn one into the other.
Justified in The Saboteur as the player character is... well... a saboteur working for the French Resistance and is rewarded for destroying Nazi lookout posts, turrets, tanks, refuel depots, checkpoints, loudspeakers, and other such installations.
Zigzagged in Drakensang: the first game played this trope straight, with breakable barrels, crates and jars containing useful materials and sometimes even gold. In the second game, useful stuff is mostly found inside normal chests and barrels, with gold avaible only in large chests. Breakable containers are usually filled with trash, though the jars in certain ruins will have ancient coins (worth a lot) inside.
In Dawn of Mana, there's destructible terrain and throwing things at enemies panic them and cause them to drop more stat-boosting items. Mana spirits (needed to cast spells) also reside in things like bonfires, so you have the incentive to destroy everything.
In Star Fox 64, the Star Fox team is written a check based on the score you got, which went higher the more things that got destroyed. Now, most of the time you are vandalizing the enemy, not the people who paid you, but I'm sure the Cornerian citizens are probably at least a little unhappy that their tax money went to paying a bunch of mercenaries who blew up just as many buildings, if not more, than the invaders.
Certain statues in NetHack have a chance of containing a spellbook which can be retrieved by smashing the statue with a pickaxe.
An element so prominent in Just Cause, that it becomes a mandatory action in order to progress through the story in it's sequel.
In Running With Friends, breaking police barricades, barrels, traffic cones, boxes, and hay bales in your path will earn you stars. In many cases you'll earn more stars by breaking stuff than by simply running through the tracks of stars.