The Computer Is A Lying Bastard
(one test-solving later)
Fantastic. You remained resolute and resourceful in an atmosphere of extreme pessimism.
of Guide Dang It
, where the game itself - through NPC advice, tutorials, in-game hints, etc. - tells you how to proceed, but their advice is either substandard (better ways are available at that point) or an outright lie (and not for plot based reasons, either). This is often due to a bad translating job, or faulty programming, where what the developers intended doesn't line up with what is actually said, or if during development a gameplay feature is altered/removed and someone forgot to update the accompanying information. Sometimes the lies are meant to invoke Artificial Difficulty
and sometimes They Just Didn't Care
Usually, it's just a common symptom for when a game gets a metagame
. When there are several ways for scissors to cut rock
that the developers didn't anticipate, the Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors
tutorial isn't going to have the best advice.
See also The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard
, Moon Logic Puzzle
(where the answers are there, but the logic isn't). For a similar trope in other media, see Unreliable Narrator
- This is actually a very common thing for most online games and MMOGs because the games are updated and the metagame changes, the manual and most tutorials are not. So as a result, people who don't know the jargon and nicknames coined by players are left confused, and in a few games, the players respond to these by cussing the players into oblivion or vote-kicking them from the game. Part of the difficulty curve is simply learning things that the game cannot tell them about.
- This was especially bad about games centered around exploiting glitches or shortcomings in the game engine.
- In Final Fantasy VII, first-time players could find the first boss to be difficult as hell, because Cloud's message "Attack while its tail's up [and] it'll counterattack with its laser!" was split into two dialogue boxes with "and" omitted because the in-battle boxes have fairly limited space. This meant that players saw "Attack while its tail's up" for several seconds before seeing "it'll counterattack with its laser!". Since they already had "attack while tail is up" in their minds, many people interpreted it as "attack while its tail's up or else it'll counterattack with its laser", the exact opposite of the intended message, or just saw "Attack while its tail's up!" and attacked straight away.
- In Final Fantasy VI, there are some hidden items on the ground in the main room of Cave to the Sealed Gate, but when you pick them up, the game tells you you obtained something other than what you really got. Fortunately none of these items are required and none of them are especially useful in the first place.
- In Castlevania II Simons Quest, many NPC hints about obtaining important items were misleading or incorrect. As a Hand Wave, game manuals warned that some NPCs would try to "mislead" or "deceive" the player, requiring the player to determine (sometimes experimentally) which clues could or could not be trusted (some weren't possible to even follow in-game!). Hilariously in a schadenfreude kind of way, for a long, long time people assumed the "hints" were the product of a poor translation, due to translation standards of the time. Many years later, it turned out that, no, the Japanese version was just as incomprehensible.
- Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has the Gold and Silver Rings, required to reach the second half of the game. Their description says you must use them at the Clock Tower, but the right room to use them is the central clock room in the Marble Gallery. Thankfully that room is suspicious enough for players to not fall for this error.
- In Viva Pińata, many of the things Leafos says when selected are false (e.g. the way she claims certain pińatas transform is impossible), and some of the things she decries as ridiculous are true (you can, in fact, have a four-headed Syrupent after the two-headed version).
- Accidental example: the original Pokémon games you are told more than once that the Psychic type was weak against Ghost; in practice, it was actually immune to Ghosts due to a programming oversight that was fixed in the next versions. Nonetheless, Yellow version abridged an instance of somebody saying that Psychics feared only bugs and ghosts to only include bugs. (Of course, it's not like you'd even try to use Ghosts against Psychic types anyways; the only ghost move that deals damage that isn't fixed is too weak to use. Also, it didn't help that the only Ghosts at the time were weak to Psychic anyway thanks to their secondary Poison type.)
- Because of a mistake in the game text, a man in the Great Marsh in Diamond and Pearl says that throwing bait and mud do the exact same thing. This was fixed in Platinum.
- In the first generation, there is an NPC who trades you his Electrode for a Raichu. If you talk to him after the trade, he remarks "The Raichu you traded me went and evolved!". Raichu, of course, doesn't evolve, but this nonetheless spawned rumours about a secret third evolution of Pikachu (Pichu, Pikachu's pre-evolved form, was unknown at the time). It turns out this was simply a localization mistake - in the Japanese version of Pokémon Blue, the NPC trades you his Graveler for a Kadabra - both Pokémon that evolve by trading - and his line afterwards was meant to be a hint on how to obtain their final forms. The American Pokémon Red and Blue were actually the Japanese Pokémon Blue hacked to have the distributions of the Japanese Red and Green, which had the Raichu-for-Electrode trade. When localizing, they remembered to switch the trade back to Raichu and Electrode, but forgot to change the dialogue about the evolution.
- In Super Mario Bros. 3, one of the "letters from the Princess" tells you that there is a warp whistle hidden to the right in World 3. In fact, there is a warp whistle hidden to the right in level 3, World 1. There is no warp whistle in World 3. This eventually got fixed in Super Mario Advance 4, where she said it was hidden behind the third level, not that this would help you find it.
- E.V.O.: Search for Eden: At the beginning, one of the rules given is don't head back, only go forward. However, you need to go back in evolution if you temporarily want a viable form to more quickly gain EVO (i.e. your Evo points are stored in a Bag of Spilling if you change from a Fish -> Amphibian -> Reptile -> Bird -> Mammal), and you may have to go to earlier stages/sections if you need to harvest EVO points.
- Breath of Fire III: A segment of the game sees the protagonists making a multi-day trek through a huge desert, with only the stars available as a navigation aid. If you get hopelessly lost and/or run out of water, you need to restart from the beginning of the segment. Problem is, one NPC says you need to head east at one part, but a paper stored in your tent says you should head west. East is the correct way, but try remembering that if you save in the desert, stop playing for a while, then come back and look to the paper for guidancenote .
- The text you get in the Pleasure Dome ending of Total Carnage implies that there is one last secret ending if you collect every item in the Pleasure Dome. In fact there is, but a bug prevents it from ever being seen, and the normal ending you get by default is actually the better one.
- Zigzagged in Nethack. Eating a fortune cookie will give you a hint. The hints come from two files, rumors.tru, containing such Infallible Babble as "Kill a unicorn of your color and you kill your luck," and rumors.fal, containing such lies as "A cockatrice corpse is guaranteed to be untainted!" as well as completely useless (but entertaining!) junk like "So when I die, the first thing I will see in heaven is a score list?". Protip: blessed cookies draw only from rumors.tru.
- The The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy Interactive Fiction game. As DNA himself puts it, this is "the first game to move beyond being 'user friendly'"... "It's actually 'user insulting' and because it lies to you as well it's also 'user mendacious.'" In one notable instance, when you first arrive on the bridge of the Heart of Gold, the computer will repeatedly tell you there's nothing to see. If you type "look" a third time, it will admit "Oh, all right, there's a few things..."
- In the DS remake of Final Fantasy IV, when facing the CPU boss, Fusoya tells you to attack the defense node first instead of the attack node (but not both, or else the main CPU will spam a strong attack and then regenerate the nodes). That was fine and dandy on the original version, where the defense node healed the CPU by a lot and the attack node had weak offense, but in the DS, it's the other way around, the defense node gives crap healing instead and the attack node obliterates you, so you need to go for the attack node instead. The line should have been changed (That, or they did left it on purpose to screw players of the original version, which was pretty much the mission statement of the DS remake).
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: "Higher willpower allows you to defend against magical attacks."
- With one exception, every time X3: Terran Conflict tells you you need to board a ship with marines during a plot mission, it's lying. The first boarding target will be given to you for free if you wait a while, the second one will get boarded by NPCs if you wait a while and the third time you can just eject in your spacesuit and claim the target like an abandoned ship. This is significant, as training marines to the point where they could actually capture anything is a very expensive and time-consuming process, far beyond the scope of anything in the campaign missions.
- The one exception is the Orca you have to capture during the HQ plot. That one actually does require you to board it.
- To a lesser extent, the way how fighter drones work in the X3 trilogy, the information states that only TS and TM-class freighters can carry fighter drones and is made evident in gameplay with these ships offloading them when they're under attack by hostile ships. Yet this information doesn't hold water and omits the capability of other ships to carry these drones; fighter drones can actually be carried by ships of any size as long as they're capable of carrying cargo that is higher than S-class. In other words, a ship ranging from a small interceptor to a big destroyer can carry them as long as they have space in their hold. This makes fighters drones Disc One Nukes in some sort.
- The loading screen in Divine Divinity shows various tips and advice for the game, some of which are blatant lies. For example, one says you should kill Otho's pigs since he likes that - Otho will kill you if you do that! Humorously, one of the tips you can see is "Don't trust everything you read"...
- Depict1 takes this trope and runs with it. Most of what is said to the player is outright lies.
- The first Gear boss in Xenogears tends to become a That One Boss to some people because of this: right before you fight it, you're given an option to upgrade your Gears for the first time, which is mandatory to do throughout the game since for the most part their stats aren't dependent on your level. However, since the maximum Fuel for the default parts and only upgrade the game offers you at this point are the same, the game will give you a pop-up message about the new parts being equal or worse than the ones you already have, even though the apparently minuscule increase of Attack they provide actually ends up increasing the Gears' damage by a lot at this point of the game: without the upgrades, you'll be lucky to be doing 2 digit damage to the boss, who has around 1500 HP and you have no means to heal your Gears this early in the game.
- When taking Katie Zhan out driving in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, she will constantly urge the player to go faster, despite the fact that her happiness meter will rapidly decrease, causing her to end the date, if the player exceeds a relatively low speed.
- In-universe in Sonic Adventure 2 where the Hint System consists of actual computers; and in Mad Space they are likely to be this. Even then, the hints on some of the Emeralds are completely irrelevant to their actual locations.
- In the H-Game The Sagara Family, the dialog trees to gain the affections of the various girls are mostly straightforward. However, Maria repeatedly states that she likes manly men who refuse to help with housework—actually, she's just too proud to ask for help, and she accepts it when offered.
- In Recettear, the price ranges suggested by your loan officer partner are too high to be properly strategic. Whether this is simply poor advice informed by the experiences of a loan shark who's never tried lowering prices before, or deliberate bad advice from the game designers overriding her sensible characterization to force player creativity/frustration? You be the judge.
- While Tear's advice is useful for obtaining the most money from a sold item (or paying as little as possible for a purchased item), Recette and the shoppers gain more experience for deals that are lower than the most they'll pay. For example, you might be able to sell an item for 120% its base cost, but selling it for 107% will net bonus XP for the player and the customer. For the player, this means a number of useful new options. For the customer, this means they'll have more money, and thus be able to make bigger purchases. Tear's advice will get you more money in the short term, but offering better deals will pay off in the long term.
- Exploring dungeons is offered as an alternate way to get items to sell in the store. While this is true, you can make a much larger profit (outside of New Game+ anyway) by simply buying wholesale in town and manning the store.
- Left 4 Dead has numerous loading screen hints, most of them valid; however, the hint originally meant to explain the Tank's control mechanic (you lose control of the Tank if you don't do damage or maintain line of sight for long enough) encouraged players to rush directly in to do as much damage as possible, which in versus games against even marginally skilled players was a recipe for a dead Tank and probably a pissed off team. The message has since been amended to simply advise players of the risk of losing control.
- Some of the puzzles in the Professor Layton series end up being incredibly difficult only because the the puzzle setup and hints are misleading or omit crucial information. An example in the second game is the "Boys Club" puzzle, which is difficult only because the instructions don't mention that you're supposed to skip over the portraits you cross out as you're counting. Since it's a straight up logic puzzle, it's impossible to solve if you follow the instructions at their word.
- The third game subtly lampshades this with the first puzzle challenge, where Layton's opponent places four aces face-down with a few rules attached to them (for example: "the heart is next to the diamond") and tells Layton to find the spade...except that the opponent never said "there is only one of each ace", making the puzzle unsolvable if taken strictly at its word, and the real test for Layton was noticing this.
- Some Civilization games (5 for sure) say that one of the difficulties is the "balanced" difficulty where neither the computers or players get an advantage, but really the computer does cheat in some ways; most notably, in Civ 5 they get more happiness, and only 60% of all unhappiness, which means, all other things equal, they can have a civilization double the size with more happiness than the player, and they'll make sure to rub it in your face.
- In 4, the default and "most balanced" difficulty, Noble, actually gives the computer a slight advantage. The actual difficulty where stats are "balanced" is Warlord, 1 rank below.
- Rune Factory 2: Herman will tell you explicitly that one of his favorite foods is pineapple juice. But if you give him some, he gives the "I hate this" reaction. Turns out, this was just a programming glitch: he does like the stuff and his friendship points do go up. (Possible inspiration for opposite speaking Sherman in Rune Factory 3?)
- Rune Factory 3: When Micah asks Collette what particular foods she likes the most, she states that her favorites are rice-based dishes. Her actual favorites (the gifts that will raise her relationship points the most) are curry-based. Only one curry dish contains rice: Curry Rice.
- Following the in-game advice for Valkyria Chronicles—move with caution, cover your advances, don't try to be Rambo, etc.—will ensure that you never receive a high mission rank and the extra rewards it offers; all the game tracks is how long you took.
- To be fair, this is perfectly sensible advice when you're just beginning the game, since your starting lineup is fairly weak and can be easily killed. It's not until the later stages of the game or in the New Game+ that your soldiers are strong enough to power through A-rank missions.
- The mission briefing for Selvaria's Last Stand states that she will probably dodge head-on attacks, which is true, but then recommends you circumvent that by getting behind her. If you try this, she'll turn around every time, even if she couldn't possibly have seen you coming, and she can dodge attacks from behind just as well as attacks from the front.
- Not quite true: Selvaria does have a blind spot in which she can't dodge attacks, she just has a much wider cone of vision than any other unit. She has about a 320-340 degree field of vision, leaving a very narrow cone directly behind her in which she can't dodge. Of course, she spends most of the battle facing directly towards your units, and even if you do get someone behind her, she'll instantly turn around after your shot to make her counterattack. Killing Selvaria usually involves alternating fire between a sniper in cover on the other side of the level (so the sniper isn't instantly killed by her return fire) and a tank about three feet away from her (which is thankfully immune to her machine gun), each placed on an exact line through the center of her character model.
- Dark Void has an achievement that tells you to "kill 10 airborne enemies using grenades." What you actually have to do is kill 10 enemies using airborne grenades — that is, the grenade must be in the air when it explodes, not the enemy.
- Golden Sun: Dark Dawn's infamous Capricorn puzzle in the Craggy Peak tower. The game gives you the hint "THE GOAT LEAVES NO TRACE BEHIND". The goat statues do leave a trail when you push them around... the puzzle is that they do not cross each other's trail.
- In NieR, the tutorial on how to fish tells you to press the 'X' button, and then use the analog stick to reel in the fish. Doing that will result in Nier yanking the hook out of the water every single time, leaving you with no fish. The trick is to move the stick whichever way Nier leans, and not to hit the button until the fish's health is worn down.
- After defeating the Final Boss of Persona 4, you get a nice epilogue section where you get to travel all over the town and say goodbye to all of the friends you've made. If you try going to the place where you enter the TV dungeons, the game explicitly tells you there's no more reason to go there. If you try again, the game reiterates that seriously, there's no reason to go, and even pushes you towards wrapping up your business and going to trigger the end credits. It's lying. Keep trying and you'll unlock the actual final dungeon and True Final Boss.
- Persona 3 Portable has a similar example with Shinjiro's Social Link for the female protagonist. After maxing it out, the game tells you your bond can't possibly get any stronger. You have to say you'll spend time with him once more (and be very persistant in your dialogue options) in order to start a Relationship Upgrade. There's a good reason for this: Shinjiro doesn't want you to get close to him since he's Secretly Dying.
- Quite a few quest givers in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind gave wrong compass directions
- When fighting the giant squid boss in Epic Battle Fantasy 3, the characters suggest killing the tentacles. Problem: The boss can regenerate the tentacles to full health. Whenever it feels like. As a free action. Suffice to say, killing the tentacles first note is borderline impossible at the level the characters are likely to be at, and not worth attempting regardless of level.
- Dark Souls:
- The description of the Tiny Being's Ring is a complete lie because of a translation error. It claims that when equipped, it makes your health regenerate over time. What it actually does is give a tiny boost to your maximum health.
- An intentional example is the Pendant, another gift you can choose at the start of the game. Ever since the Japanese release of the game, the producers hinted about this starting gift being of great importance, but without revealing what it would be. After the international release, months spent on using the Pendant in literally everywhere and related boards on the internet working nonstop in every possible way to figure out this item's significance... It was an intended hoax. To sneak some salt in the wound, said reveal was made during the release of the DLC Artorias of the Abyss. Which revolves about an Eldritch Abomination frantically tearing up the space-time continuum to acquire an item key in accessing said DLC area, which is... a different pendant.
- Dark Souls II started listing the poise damage that weapons do in addition to the poise granted by armor and that you have in total. The actual amount of poise these weapons take away with even the most basic attacks tends to be around three times the value listed in-game.
- When hackers analyzed the source code for the original Samurai Shodown, they found out that the "sword clash" mini-game arbitrarily chose which fighter won via a random number generator. Mashing the buttons as directed did absolutely nothing.
- The loading screens of Silent Hill: Homecoming all give you hints, and most of them are valid. Except the one that tells you a head shot is the fastest and easiest way to deal with needlers. In reality, shooting them at all, let alone in the head, is nearly impossible since you tend to hit their bulletproof legs no matter how you aim. Thankfully most gamers found that a quick dodge and a swipe with the fire axe will leave them vulnerable to an instant kill almost every time and didn't end up wasting all their ammo.
- As part of its "Tetris from Hell" ethos, Wesleyan Tetris has a "next piece" window that lies just seldom enough that you can't afford to ignore it.
- Jade Cocoon: Korus tells you, before you've even fought a single monster, that "you must never kill a minion" (A minion being a monster). However, your own captured minions gain levels by killing monsters, and there is no punishment for doing so, and you wouldn't even make it past the Masked Man unless you grind your monsters.
- This one is the result of a "Blind Idiot" Translation. The Japanese version makes it clear that Levant himself must never kill a minion since it's a complete waste: he only gains experience from capturing so you should always fight with minions so they'll get the combat experience.
- Super Robot Wars Original Generation: A minor, but possibly accidental example. By default, Bullet uses a Real Robot with a Wave Motion Gun, but isn't a ranged-combatant and should be in a melee-based machine; you are much better off sticking him in the Wildschwein or some other available, non-exclusive unit with a strong melee attack. The computer is made a lying bastard, however, by the fact that it just loves to stick him back into the machine he's terrible in, and sometimes it feels like you have to club the game over the head to get Bullet into a machine that isn't god-awful for him. Rectified in the sequels once he gets the RyuKoOh.
- Mass Effect 2: the free Firewalker DLC apparently had its keys remapped at some point without anyone telling the person writing the instructions. Pop-up boxes will tell you that the right mouse scans or mines and the shift key is used to jump. Nope! The jump key is E, and the data/resource retrieval uses V. Except when it doesn't; the system remaps virtually at random if you've reset some keys, and sometimes even if you haven't.
- Rolling Thunder APPEARS to give you eight hit points, as shown by the Life Meter...but you only ever lose 4 or 8 hit points at a time; therefore you really only have two hit points. The sequels and the NES port avert this by using an honest life meter that shows just one block per hit point instead of four.
- The "attack" and "defense" stats listed in Etrian Odyssey aren't actually used in any damage formulas, they're just a broad indication of how much damage you'll do and take.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, the Gossip Stone that runs Harrow Island will not tell you that you can (and are likely to) lose money beyond the usual fee until you have already paid the latter. Even worse, it claims you can randomly find a Treasure Map regardless of whether this is actually the case or not. There are several, and there is no way to tell how many there are left (and that some of them won't appear at all until you have completed the Sea Chart).
- Earth 2150: The general info in all campaigns is always "Do not rely on mass warfare, opt to save experienced units instead." While this is viable for the LC and UCS campaigns, seeing how they get the technology needed, for the ED it's a straight-up lie: the AI opponents always have the best available versions of units, always are several tech levels ahead (You got machine guns and tank turrets? They got grenades and missiles. They are using energy weapons? Yeah sorry, you don't get to use shields yet.) and always opt to use these two as soon as possible. Most ED missions can only be won by mindlessly spamming tanks and helicopters in the hope that the enemy will run out of resources sooner than the player.
- In the last chapter of the third part of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, you are told that the victory condition is to kill all the enemies. Observant players will also note a mysterious counter in the upper-right of the screen that goes up when any unit dies. The actual victory condition of this chapter is to let the counter reach 80, at which point the plot moves forward - the eponymous Fire Emblem, which is said to house a dark god, will unleash the god if mankind continues to war. The counter reaching 80 is the seal's breaking point. Tropes Are Not Bad at its finest!
- In Freespace 2, the tech room description for the Artemis D.H states it is more maneuverable and faster than the regular Artemis. However, examination of the game's code reveals both ships have the exact same stats.
- In World of Warcraft, you will sometimes find errors in the quest map tracking encouraging you to search a specific location when your target can only spawn in another place, such as "Legacy of the Ancient" where Loruk the Ancient will only appear if you cut lumber in the northernmost parts of Gorgrond while the map tracking will urge you to cut timber only in the middle parts of the map.
- Some quests will also give strategy that seems sound on the surface, but in practice will make execution difficult if not impossible to achieve. "Tarnished Bronze" in particular where you must assist Archmage Khagdar and the gnome-disguised bronze dragon Chromie fighting a rogue bronze dragon down. You will be asked to select a role between damage, tank or healer with Khagdar defaulting to tank and Chromie defaulting to healer if you select damage. The problem is that Khagdar does nothing to tank the adds and Chromie is a piss-poor healer so selecting damage is a suicidal choice if you're a damage dealer with little to no healing of your own. The recommended tactic is to select healer regardless of your actual group role, forcing Chromie into the damage role where she excels. Even as a paper-armored mage with no healing at all, the combined group damage is sufficient to easily win before accumulated damage becomes problematic.