Videogame logic is not your everyday logic. Sometimes they allow you to do something suicidally dangerous (or at least utterly pointless) and, far from forcing you to face the consequences of your actions, they reward you for this behavior. This is a Violation of Common Sense; one does not expect to be rewarded for otherwise nonsensical actions.
Sometimes this is an unexpected result of Video Game Physics, but just as often it's deliberate solution to a puzzle or a way to collect useful items. As always, Tropes Are Not Bad — a Violation of Common Sense can be entertaining and amusing when well-executed, just as it can be confusing or annoying when not properly set up.
Compare and contrast both Press X to Die (where an obviously stupid action has harmful results) and Stupidity Is the Only Option (where the player is forced to do something stupid in order to continue the game). Also compare Moon Logic Puzzle (where the solution to a puzzle makes absolutely no sense from a normal standpoint). Examples of things that make no sense in general (but that we accept because it's a video game) belong in the work's Headscratchers tab or in one of the Acceptable Breaks from Reality subtropes.
This trope is not to be confused with Insane Troll Logic.
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Video Game Examples:
Rocket Jumping. One would generally expect deliberately detonating explosives at your feet would have no effect beyond converting your legs to mush. But instead they let you soar through the air, allowing access to places that jumping alone won't reach.
Notably, in Iji, some secrets require you to get hit by enemy rockets in just the right spot, and one requires you to blow yourself up with one of the game's BFGsnine times. The latter is so stupid that Iji herself comments, "There BETTER be something good up here."
In World of Warcraft the only way for most characters to reach a certain rare spawn is to detonate explosives directly at their feet, blowing them across a room and onto an otherwise inaccessible ledge.
In Team Fortress 2, it's even an integral part of gameplay for two of the classes, as the developers created them with rocket jumping in mind.
A version of this can be utilized in Modern Warfare3 in the multiplayer Terminal map. Throw a grenade under the inflatable emergency slide on the airplane to get on top of the aircraft. It makes a good sniping spot if you survive the damage.
Walking on really, really thin ledges. As in, ledges that are thinner than one of the character's feet. If the game's collision detection is simple enough (2D games that internally use rectangular boxes rather than the visible sprites inside; many 3D games), expect to see them planting their other foot firmly in the air.
Take the Mega Man games. Our 2D hero can balance his entire weight on half of one foot, and just stand there without reacting. Doing this is necessary for some platforming puzzles.
The original Quake played with this. One example: a staircase about half an inch wide, protruding from a wall. The level designers probably expected people to pass by and never notice that it led up to a secret area you just passed under. Not just because it looked like a wall decoration rather than an actual staircase, but also because players of the day likely hadn't considered the possibility of rooms-over-rooms yet.
In Pokémon you can't walk on the thin railings. You can, however, bike on them... in fact, your character is innately good at making the bike jump sideways from a standstill, and miraculously landing on an equally thin railing, without ever tipping over.
In the same games, the only way to climb up little cliffs that can't be higher than half your size is also to use a bike — and bunny hopping on something that looks like a line of rocks, or possibly stumps.
One Half-Life 2 Speedrun featured Gordon climbing up to some normally inaccessible power lines ... but he didn't walk on them. Oh, no, since that model was supposed to be far enough away to be inaccessible, it allows you to stand several meters above the impossibly thin line!
In Opposing Force, an expansion pack to the original game, you are required at one point to tightrope-walk across a high-tension power line, and you are able to do so more or less as if it were a wide catwalk.
Nightfire had a level with working cable cars. However, because they traveled fairly slowly, and there were only a couple of cars on the cable, it was easy to spot someone using one and attack while they had no room to maneuver... so people would typically climb up and run along the cable instead.
Even Mega Man is a wimp compared to Max Payne, especially in the first game. The trapeze acts and leaps of faith he had to make everywhere, everywhere, were just ridiculous, and as often as not with enemies shooting at him at the same time. And there's the ever-infamous blood trail levels. Detective work? I wouldn't wish this on a 10-year Army Ranger!
Characters in Unreal Tournament 2004 can walk across any object that's level enough, even if it's a single game unit wide. Some maps, especially indoor Deathmatch maps, have decorative trim along the walls, fancy doorways, and other aesthetic details like pipes and light fixtures. Since these features tend to A) be solid and B) stick out at right angles from the wall, they are indistinguishable from flat ground as long as you don't walk all the way off. User-created "Trial" maps, which tend to focus on tests of movement skills, often take advantage of this quirk.
ROM hacks tend to use this trope often to make the game they're modifying harder.
To get inside the castle of Kaizo Mario 64, you have to die so you respawn inside a cubical fortress that you can't get in without doing so. You then have to talk to a Pink Bomb-omb which you can't see that will unlock the doors to the fortress you're in and the door to the castle.
Bunny hopping, i.e. hoppity-skipping everywhere because your character can jump faster than they can run.
In Thief, each successive hop increases your speed. In a wide enough space, you can take "falling" damage by hopping into a wall.
In all the God of War games, it's possible to move faster by holding down the right stick and tapping Square, making Kratos somersault everywhere as if he were Dan Hibiki. Yahooie!
Or, if you bought the shoulder bash move in the first game, you can hold the right stick and R1 to chain together rolls and shoulder bashes. There's less Button Mashing and it's almost as fast.
Super Mario World has an interesting variation. Mario's running speed actually oscillates between three different values, but if Mario is in the air and the D-pad isn't pressed, his speed remains constant, and so maximum speed can be attained by getting to the highest of the three speed values and then constantly jumping. Because this requires frame-perfect reflexes (among other considerations), it's quite impractical for a human player, but tool-assisted speedruns use it like it's going out of style.
In Morrowind, it was easier and faster to jump around than to run; also, jumping was useful to, um, jump. Obviously, this resulted in players constantly hopping to get anywhere. There was even a mod that automated constant jumping.
Pelit (a Finnish gaming mag) poked fun at this:
"If you see a person jumping down the street, you can tell his preferences by shooting at the guy. If he starts whining, he plays Counter-Strike. If he charges you wielding an axe, you just interrupted a Morrowind player buffing his Acrobatics."
Bunnyhopping also works in PO'ed, a rude n' crude but innovative FPS for the PlayStation, PC, and 3DO. However, beware of using it on staircases of certain heights. Each time you 'touch' the very tip of the stair you 'jump' again. But the effect doesn't pull off until the very last. You can actually kill yourself this way by throwing yourself hundreds of meters into the air if you move up a staircase fast enough. Backflipping near a ledge of the appropriate height also can work.
It works in Lugaru, but it's justified since the characters are rabbits and make huge, Mars-style jumps.
In Elsword, the titular character Elsword, as well as Raven, Chung, and Ara all move faster during running jumps than simply running on the ground. As a result, it's rare to see experienced players of these characters ever touching the ground for extended periods of time.
In Team Fortress 2, it's preferable to jump around so that enemies have a harder time hitting you, especially the scout. Try this in a real gunfight and you'll probably find yourself lacking a limb or two.
Spent half the ammo in that magazine in that last firefight, soldier? Not sure what's around that next corner? Why, all you gotta' do is reload! The bullets will somehow end up back in your inventory, even if you drop the whole magazine down to the ground and never even so much as look at it again! A few games go out of their way to avert this, but more often than not this is a universal feature of every clip or magazine-fed weapon in Video Game-land.
Games where you have to traverse up and down stairs. Depending on the game, it's faster to just repeatedly jump up or down the stairs than running.
Other times, depending on how the health system of the game works and the distance between floors, it's faster to jump over the railing, avoid the steps entirely and take some fall damage than take those precious seconds rushing down the steps.
Lampshaded in Ōkami at certain points, usually when Amaterasu has to jump down a hole. This is done to the point of Issun claiming that their motto is "Leap before you think." This would be justified by the fact that Ammy is a god, but there are some falls that won't kill you and some that will. Sometimes Issun reciting his motto is the only indication that you won't die if you jump right there.
At one point in Cave Story, you see Professor Booster in mortal peril, and you have the option to either go help him, or just leave him to his fate. Your decision determines whether he lives or dies from his injuries. Except the results are the opposite of what you would expect: If you go to help, he gives one last speech and then dies; but if you leave him, he recovers on his own and catches up with you later. In fact, the only way to get the best ending is to ignore him.
Though it does have a degree of logic to it. There's a busted teleporter at the bottom of the hole he's stuck in, seeing as he teleports to you should you ignore him, it's implied that if you two never meet there, he clings to life and moves around a bit, discovering the teleporter and using it to get to safety and living long enough to upgrade the jetpack. However if you meet him at that time he gives you the jetpack he currently has and dies there thinking he's done all he can do for you. Of course, there's absolutely no way to know this before hand hence the violation part.
This puzzle is actually much, much harder to any modern gamer than it was at the time, since "With what? Your bare hands?" has become the default response to attempts to kill something without specifying a weapon (it was in Adventure, too, but at least it was new enough there to make players think about it — today, nobody is likely to consider treating it as a real question).
Several actions the Monkey Island adventure games require you to take are questionable in their wisdom. Over the course of the series, Guybrush has: ridden a rope across a chasm using a rubber chicken (with a pulley in the middle), deliberately mixed medications to put himself in a coma (twice), fired himself out of a cannon (thrice), triggered a volcanic eruption at point-blank range, soaked an irritable undead pirate with root beer... Thankfully, the games make it almost impossible to lose, no matter what you do, so the player can experiment without fear.
Let's face it, the Monkey Island series was one big Violation Of Common Sense. You're supposed to start the game, solve the first puzzle, realize that common sense just doesn't work in the Monkey Island world, and then gleefully throw all good judgment out the window and just try the most outlandish things you can think of. It's more fun that way.
In the InfocomThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, to pass one obstacle you first had to remove your common sense in order to be carrying both tea and no tea at the same time (something your common sense tells you can't do).
You are required to enter in an illegal command at a certain point in the game. As anyone who plays a text game can tell you, normally, you do not want to do that.
Douglas Adams loves this trope. His adventure game Starship Titanic also has several examples.
In King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, the player must cross a boiling pond, defeat a living statue, and cut down an ever-growing hedge, all without a good reason. The owner points out that he clearly wanted privacy, and the player character can only suppose that he breaks through traps because it's what he does. The owner's had enough adventures to know how they go, so he sighs and accepts the explanation.
In the white chamber, you're required to collect a body's worth of loose body parts, without any motivation. Once you have the complete set and assemble them on a hospital bed, the protagonist will remark that she had no idea why she did all that.
In the Ace Attorney series, you hang on to items long after they've seemingly lost their usefulness, only to have them turn out to be useful evidence later. For some items it's just minorly odd, for items like Trucy and Little Plum's panties it seems outright bizarre that you wouldn't give them back immediately.
Obsidian mostly takes place in artificial worlds based upon the dreams of the protagonist and her boyfriend. As the game's tagline lampshades: Your rules do not apply here.
Some fighting games will allow you to gain super meter energy by simply swinging your limbs around (or in gameplay terms, repeatedly mashing attack buttons so that you keep throwing out attacks that miss), regardless of if they actually make contact with your opponent.
In the Super Smash Bros. games Ness and Lucas' PK Thunder attack have them launch a steerable ball of lightning. It can be guided toward opponents and destructible items, or it can be steered into the user, turning them into a human missile that can damage opponents and be used to recover.
Fighting the Cruel Melee or Brawl? Not good enough at playing hit-and-run (or other defensive) tactics to defeat even one foe fair? Abuse the hyper-aggressive AI by jumping off the stage - the drones will follow, and your character will have a recovery move that will get you back to the platform, but the drones don't unless you're good enough at the mode in Brawl, where you have to fight another character instead of a Fighting Alloy for the 25th opponent.
In Counter Strike: Source, at least, if you run around with the less powerful of the two snipers (The "Scout"), you actually move slightly faster (though not by much) than the knife... despite the fact that the 100 rounds of ammo alone should weigh more than the knife. The rifle is obviously much less maneuverable.
Left 4 Dead has a few of these. Is a survivor in black and white and will die within the next hit or two, but you don't want to waste a health kit on them because the safe room is right there? Justkillthem! They'll come back in the next level with 50 health. Mobbed by a swarm of zombies and no place to escape? Get that Molotov out and set yourself on fire!
Similar to the fire example, blowing yourself up with the Grenade Launcher if you get swarmed will do some damage to you and clear out the zombies, which can be far better than trying to melee them off and suffer more damage from the attackers.
Left 4 Dead 2 makes it even dumber by adding the defibrillator, meaning that the best thing to do when one survivor is in black and white, and you find a defibrillator, is to kill the survivor, and then revive him/her with the defibrillator, allowing the survivor to return to 50% health and not lose any of their equipment.
The Witch will instantly kill players on Expert and/or Realism mode. However, if someone startles the Witch and they go down before she attacks them, she will then attack the downed survivor for damage and not kill them in one shot. Some people will shoot a player who disturbed the Witch until they are incapacitated so that they won't die instantly from her and the rest of the team can bring her down.
Similarly, a player that disturbs the Witch can force themselves to hang from a ledge, which counts as being immobile by the game. Due to this, the Witch will still damage the player, but once the Witch is dead and the player is helped up, any damage taken from the Witch while hanging will transfer to the player's overall health. This means that the player, if they use this method, will suffer some damage instead of being knocked down instantly.
This is standard for the most of the gameplay in Team Fortress 2. Apart from Rocket Jumping (available to four of the nine playable classes), you can set allies on fire if you suspect them of being a disguised Spy (which, if they really are teammates after all, doesn't hurt them), hit enemies in melee combat with a handheld grenade and stand still in the middle of battle to regain health by eating a sandwich.
The grenade one is even lampshaded, saying a sober person would just throw it. Ironically, it's an even bigger Violation of Common Sense than the flamethrower: It's the perfect spy-checker since it will definitely kill the interloper, but who goes around smacking his friends with a pressure-trigger grenade?
Spy-Checking is also lampshaded in the Meet The Spy video. The BLU Soldier blows the head off of a BLU Spy with a shotgun. When his teammates react with visible shock, he defends himself with "What?! It was obvious! He's the RED Spy!" He then acts confused when the BLU Spy does not turn red after a few seconds. Valve is aware of how shooting at your teammates to find Spies is completely insane - appropriate that they used the most psychotic member of the cast to show us this.
Several of the cosmetic items of the game would be extremely impractical and/or dangerous to wear in real life, and this is often lampshaded in their descriptions, such as the description for the Head Warmer pointing out that since the Pyro wears it in combination with his gas mask, the combined heat would cause hallucinations and eventual brain death, and the Googol Glass Eyes pointing out that unclean pieces of metal in his eyes would cause serious infection.
In the Half-Life mod They Hunger, there is ammunition for the revolver. In a fire. Jump in and out to collect those six rounds!
Battlefield 2 has some questionable airplane mechanics:
Besides ejecting from a jet fighter, you can also get back into the same plane in midair.
And then if you need to fill an empty seat in a two seater, tell a buddy you are coming to pick him up, dive at him, fly five feet above the ground and zoom at him at 300 MPH. He will either get ready and hit the enter button, comfortably ready to help you destroy your enemies or you get docked for fratricide. If it is the later, oh well, just tell him to try it again when he respawns. Note that this was an accepted tactic in Battlefield 1942.
One of the Face Off downloadable maps for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, "Vortex", has Delta Force and Spetsnaz fighting over a ranch house while a tornado rages on within viewing distance.
It gets better for Black Ops II on 'Magma', where you fight in Japanese village, being ravaged by lava no less. One would think that this is insane.
Most games that support cooperative play and have friendly fire tuned off will have loads of these. Like Killing Floor. Buddy of yours swarmed by zombies? Eh, toss a grenade in there, it won't even ruffle his lapels as it reduces the zombies to a fine mist. Or, if you're a Firebug, just hose him down with your flamethrower. He'll be fine. Seriously. And if he's taken damage from the zombies? Jab him with your Healing Shiv. You'll get money for healing him.
Best way to deal with those Chainsaw Good Scrakes? Charge at him with a sword, it stunlocks him.
Near the end of Borderlands 2's main campaign, there's an optional quest where Handsome Jack asks you to off yourself by jumping off a cliff. You can choose to decline by getting counseling from a hotline located on a shack near the cliff and save on the thousand or so dollars you'll be charged to respawn, or you can go through with it and get paid 12 Eridium. Jack lampshades this, calling you a sellout.
Jumping from a ludicrous height, as in contrast to more realistic shooters you take absolutely no damage from the fall. This is lampshaded late-game when Brick suggests you simply jump off the tallest structure in Sawtooth Cauldron to get out of the area faster, and he'll be impressed if you comply.
This may well be because in Brick's native game, there was fall damage. He may be genuinely impressed that you landed from that absurd height without issue, while he'd be short a few thousand on respawn fees if he attempted it.
The secret level exit in Doom level Mt. Erebus is contained within an enclosed space that can only be accessed from above - namely, by standing at close range to a particular wall (with a reasonable amount of health left), firing the rocket launcher and propelling your burnt self backwards into the enclosure.
There are two Invincibility spheres in the level, mind you.
In World of Warcraft, a number of quests depend on this, like that quest in Howling Fjord where you shoot a harpoon off a cliff and over a very cold lake, and ride it like a surfboard into the town below. While it's on fire. The NPC at the bottom lampshades this, pointing out that you're absolutely out of your mind.
The fast exits from the boss rooms of several dungeons also require leaping off intimidating cliffs or into shafts dropping straight down. Later dungeons add water pits at the bottom to soften the blow. Earlier ones require considerable faith that the fall will merely be massively damaging instead of instantly fatal.
Blackrock Spire does this best, it has a pitfall that you can jump into and exit the instance. There's one ledge from Upper Blackrock Spire (connected to the Rookery), where the fall would normally kill you, but the loading screen for exiting the instance cancels the fall damage.
The quest chain before you meet Matthias Lehner has you helping the Argent Crusade infiltrate Icecrown Citadel and ends with you activating highly volatile explosives. When you realize you need to get away from the ensuing explosion (they don't actually go off after you activate them of course) you're encouraged to jump down the shaft in front of you and hope the fall doesn't kill you... not that it does because there's water below.
There actually is one drink (the world's most unappetizing beverage) whose intended purpose is to make you 'Literally Insane' ... since only someone literally insane would deliberately drink their own hair dissolved in depilatory cream.
The game does have the advantage of being consistent. If it's bubbly - or fizzy, or the like, then it'll let you recover MP. This does become rather insane, though, when one's snorting beer-soaked teddy bears.
City of Heroes has a rather interesting instance of this- in one game event, Rikti (evil alien) ships fly over the city, bombing the hell out of it. It's brutally difficult, but just barely possible to kill the bombers. Only thing is, that doesn't give you anything (other than a fairly spectacular lightshow), and what you're actually supposed to do for the event is to hunt down bombs that failed to detonate on impact. And then beat them to death with your bare hands (or whatever weapon your hero favours).
In Mabinogi you can mine sulfur ore and fossils from the sulfur pits in Zardine. If you stay too long you'll get sulfur poisoning which will take your health down past "Deadly". Common sense would tell you to leave before this happens, but if you stay long enough for it to happen you'll get a Title for it.
In Dragon Nest you can get titles for accomplishing certain achievements which can provide you with some extra stats. One title requires you to collect 8 other seemingly pathetic titles that provide no stats whatsoever. To get them, you'll have to kill a goblin you're supposed to protect, get killed by a hound, get run over by a minotaur, get killed by a stone thrown by a blue goblin (whose aim is so bad you actually have to run into the little pebble yourself, get killed by an ogre boss, get killed by hounds again and lastly, get killed by an orc challenger who is afraid to even actually hit you, especially if you're a little higher levelled. And after all this, what do you get? One of the best -if not the best- titles you can get in the game; providing you with 20-25 stats and 40 damage and magic attack!
Star Wars: The Old Republic: In the boss battle against Project Sav-Rak, the players face him on a platform suspended high above lava. Bad enough, but he also utilizes a Shockwave Stomp that sends players flying, possibly over the edge. So the only safe place? Right where he lands! How far you go flying is based on how far away you are from his impact point. Letting a two-story tall fifty-ton mutant land on you will result in 94% less being dead than staying as far away as humanly possible.
The socially accepted way to ask for a lift in a friendly vehicle while playing Planetside 2 is to shoot it. In a game where Friendly Fireproof is most certainly not in effect. The reasoning behind this is small arms do Scratch Damage to vehicles, and it lets the driver know that it's him specifically you're trying to catch, whereas the "I need a ride!" voice command could be address to anybody in the general area, so most people ignore it.
The Super Mario Bros. series has quite a few examples of ridiculous things being necessary to grab coins or other goodies, ranging from jumping off the top of a mountain to leaping into a volcano or allowing yourself to sink into quicksand.
One particularly excellent example occurs in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. After Luigi obtains the power to create electricity from his hands, you open a warp pipe leading to the bottom of the ocean. In order to proceed, you have to give power to a conductive object. Underwater. The game doesn't seem to have any problem with this. Nor with Mario setting things on fire while underwater.
In Super Mario Galaxy, what do you have to do to get the last two purple coins in the Freezeflame Galaxy Purple Coin mission? Apparently, you have to do a long jump off the summit of a mountain to some conveniently placed columns a good hundred meters below. Considering the sheer amount of black holes and instant death pits around the rest of the mountain, this is more than a little suspect, even when the Toad at the summit actually encourages you to jump.
In Super Mario Galaxy 2, several hidden stars require you to make suicidal leaps of faith. For example, one hidden star in the last stage of World 1 has you jumping into lava, causing Mario to bounce high enough to reach it.
In 3D Mario games, the best way to avoid falling damage is to do a Ground Pound, which makes you fall even faster. It happens because the Ground Pound pauses your momentum but still.
Super Mario 64 has Mario slowly lose life while underwater for long periods of time, then have it restored to its full level when he surfaces. This causes a rather fun loophole where the best cure to being beaten to a pulp is to dive underwater for about a second, then surface, where Mario will gain all his health back from said beating. (Future games in the series fixed this loophole by adding a separate 'air' meter.)
In the otherwise somewhat-kinda realistic alien shooter Contra III, what's the best way to destroy a giant flying alien ship? Chase it with motorcycles, and then cling to a cruise missile that's heading for the ship! And then leap from missile to missile in the salvo as they impact uselessly on the alien's shield. Considering that you've mostly been running along the ground, climbing walls, and riding tanks so far, it's an unusually... brazen choice of attack.
In the Treasure game Mischief Makers, you fight the wolf-man Lunar twice. The first time is very normal, but for the second one he's riding his transformable cerberus bike. Your solution: ride a cat. This is further improved by the fact that said cat can jump on Lunar's missiles, riding them like flying surfboards. Go Reality!
In that game, you're generally encouraged to grab things which are fired at you... bullets, missiles, even huge sustained blasts from laser cannons... and throw them back.
Sometimes you'd want to give those lasers a good shake first.
Wario makes Guybrush look sane in his absolutely hilarious violations of common sense. These range from setting himself on fire to destroy obstacles in his path, getting crushed to the point of being flattened to go through tiny spaces, being stung by bees to float to higher places... Though it helps in two of the games that Wario is invincible throughout both games.
Ristar has to do the following in the first stage of Planet Sonata - carry large blue metronomes through elaborate puzzles, in order to then throw them at the giant sleeping bird found after each puzzle, waking it up and causing it to fly out of his way and sing part of the stage's theme. Wait what?
Many of the levels in N force you to do this to pass a deadly trap by running full-tilt into another, or using a deadly trap as a lift.
In Sonic the Hedgehog CD, Wacky Workbench contains some large gray blocks in narrow corridors that slowly descend, then quickly slam against the ceiling. These do not crush you, as similar objects in other Sonic games (and later in the same game) do, and are not only completely harmless, but useful: Letting them push against the ceiling will drop you into an area below. It's even necessary to use one to reach the Robotizer in Zone 1.
In Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, one of the parts you can attach to your vehicle is a sail that lets you move around (slowly) without fuel (or wind, for that matter). The nonsensical part is that the sails work like jets, providing drive force no matter what direction they're facing. So when you point the sails face-up like wings so that the drive force pushes you up, you can turn your slow-as-molasses car into a cheap, perpetual flying machine.
The Donkey Kong Country games have a lot of this - you often find secret areas by jumping into bottomless pits or other improbable places.
The second stage of advergame Pepsi Man has the titular hero being told about a bunch of people trapped on the roof of a burning building. His mission is now to deliver them Pepsi. Instead of, you know, rescuing them.
Works in War Wind as well, though out of combat they can be healed so you have to be fast in combat to micro a weak guy on your side then swap back to shooting the enemy.
In any RTS with an arbitrary headcount limit it is often advantageous to blow up your own troops or send them on suicide runs in order to open up more space for superior units.
In the late-game, this generally turns out to be your working class.
In Battle For Middle Earth, as production buildings leveled up from experience (earned from making units), had to be high level to make top tier units, and had a very low headcount limit. It was required to send waves upon waves of your lower level units repeatedly to their deaths. Ironically, this was especially necessary for Gondor, which relied heavily on its high level units, and less so for the forces of evil, which functioned on a We Have Reserves basis.
One of the more prominent Metagame tactics in Rock Band and Guitar Hero (as well as earlier Harmonix games like Frequency and Amplitude) is called "Squeezing", where hitting notes just before they're supposed to be played, but still within the timing window, allows you to "squeeze" more notes into a bonus multiplier. Yes, playing slightly off-rhythm in a rhythm game gives you a better score.
In the eyes of a newbie, playing any rhythm game with a speed multiplier. Why would you make the notes harder to read by making them speed up? Because counterintuitively, this makes charts with dense patterns easier to read and often times easier to score better as it allows you to be fixated on a note for lesser time trying to get the proper timing.
Elona, being what seems to be a kitbash of Ancient Domains of Mystery and The Elder Scrolls with anachronistic tech, has many occurrences, from randomly generated quests to the 'solutions' to many seemingly mundane problems and enemies. Dyes have so many uses... Also, if impregnated by an alien, you drink poison/dye to kill the child in your belly. Considering they attack with acid there's no indication something that simple will work. Also, the best non-cheating way to clear out respawning monsters in a city? Nuke it. If something is vulnerable to fire, one may also bring their pet next to hit then feed it molotovs, as a thrown molotov's fire will count as an 'attack' if any friendlies step on it. Having your pet burst into flames which consume the entire city, however, doesn't affect your karma in the least.
Increasing your karma decreases your taxes. Want to double your maximum karma? Repeatedly murder the little girl named "Gwen the Innocent", and she'll eventually drop the necessary rare item. Don't worry, murdering an innocent little girl has no impact on your karma.
In Nethack, reading certain scrolls while confused actually has a good effect. Similarly, certain scrolls and potions have useful effects if used while they're cursed.
If you want to get rid of a metal ball which has been chained to your leg, bury the metal ball. Instead of chaining you to the spot where it was buried, the chain comes loose.
Role Playing Game
In practice, Stat Grinding falls into this because a practical way to get your stats up would be to do stuff you normally do not want to do. Want someone with low health to get more? Why, intentionally put them in harm's way, of course!
In Fallout 3, just about every single thing Moira Brown asks you to do, from relatively minor things like collecting books from a library that happens to be crawling with raiders to insane things like intentionally breaking your bones and poisoning yourself with radiation! Especially as the stated reward is...a copy of a book explaining how to survive in the Wasteland without doing any of those things. Seems like it would be simpler to just write 'Don't do anything Moira asks' on a piece of paper and follow that advice. (You do get some [potentially quite good] bonuses, at the end, though, but you don't know that in advance.)
Ultimately though, her book, The Wasteland Suvival Guide, becomes a Survival skill book in Fallout: New Vegas. It's not only very helpful, it was popular enough to be mass-published and make it to the west coast. Ultimately, the trope is played out but to benefit of all mankind, ghouls and super mutants.
In fact, if you go the extra mile and get Moira the comprehensive data by really putting yourself in harm's way (e.g. severe radiation sickness), you not only stand to get the most rewards from that very fun questline, but a thankful wanderer practically worships at your feet for your part in writing what he considers a sacred scripture that led to him learning how to adequate food, water, shelter, etc. to not only survive in the wasteland, but to really have a chance at living. Moments like this make you feel like you really earned that Messiah status on your Karma meter.
Numerous Final Fantasy games have an ability that makes your characters' attacks heal their target. While this would hurt undead, for what reason would you do this? Free heals as you club your own party members over the head and hit them, of course!
In Final Fantasy II, what is the most efficient way to level up your party members' stats? Why, beat up your own party members. Of course!
In Final Fantasy VI, after your party splits up into 3 groups, the only way to advance in Sabin's part of the story is to jump down a waterfall. The game even Lampshades this, since the menu option if you're not ready to advance is "You crazy!?"
At the D-District Prison, when Squall is being tortured for information he does not actually have, the player is given the choice between "I'll lie... I must live..." and "Just let me die...". Choosing the latter causes some friendly monsters to help you out later on, while you get nothing for lying.
The chances of being able to perform a Limit Break, as well as the strength of these Limit Breaks, is dependent on how much danger your characters are in. The more danger, the better. Clever players will realize this and invoke the hidden power of Squall and Co. by having them be beaten to within an inch of their life; as long as they never stop to heal their life-threatening wounds, they can easily use these god-tier attacks once per turn. Even casting the Aura spell, which allows players to use Limit Breaks just as frequently without being put in mortal peril, is not enough to dissuade this tactic. In fact, characters with Aura and low health will be able to unleash their most powerful Limit Break variations every time. Goodbye difficulty, goodbye common sense!
In Jeanne d'Arc, Marcel or Bellatrix can learn an ability that heals someone...by shooting them with an arrow. What makes this a violation of common sense is that normally, you'd expect to want to avoid any arrow coming at you, not standing in the path of an arrow from your own ally and hope it's going to be a healing arrow.
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. After reclaiming one of the seven pieces of Star Road, you are met by the "townspeople", who turn out to be agents of Smithy in disguise. Saying "Get serious!" to his demands results in them tortur—okay, tickling, the town's elder, who's holed up in a shack with the rest of the real townsfolk. You then have to fight a second boss battle to get it back. It ends up being a case of But Thou Must, and the real townsfolk share their unhappiness with you later should you continue answering negatively. However, the reason it counts as a Violation of Common Sense? If you willingly give up the star you are rewarded handsomely by the elder; allow the people to be "tortured" five or more times, and the elder shows his displeasure by "rewarding" you with a single coin.
Ein has the opportunity to do many stupid things in Riviera. One of the more notable? Stick your hand in a blazing (blue) torch! Multiple times! What do you get for being an idiot? Why, increased stats of course.
In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, you have to drown yourself at one point in a quest. As in, wait for your Oxygen Meter to run out and then keep waiting until your health is drained to 0. You get better. It is a test of faith, though.
There is a similar quest the sequel, Oblivion. A daedric lord (basically meaning a demon/god) tells you to corrupt a man by provoking him into killing you with a cursed weapon, and he'll reward you by giving you a mace. As an added bonus, he states that he'll probably stop you from actually dying in the process. You can choose to actually do this, which might not be all that bright, or to mess it up, and thus irritate an evil god, which could invoke any number of horrible fates. (Given the reputation he has, you have probably invoked this trope from the moment you put yourself in a position to be asked...)
Learning the properties of alchemy ingredients consists of you eating said ingredients you gather from the wild. While a few are strange but doable such as wildflowers and raw birds eggs, some are flat out dangerous such as Nightshade and others are just absurd. The Dragonborn can apparently chow down on deer antlers, bear claws, saber cat teeth and the parts of ghosts/ethereal beings whole and raw with the only possible consequence being the loss of an atom of health/magic/stamina.
There's a particular waterfall by the name of Bard's Leap, and if you take a dive off the ledge and survive, a ghost will pop up and commend you for pulling it off, rewarding you with a free boost in Speech.
One of the quests in Neverwinter Nights presents you with an altar that supposedly leads you to the spirit world. How do you get across? Stab yourself in the heart! Also, there's a skeleton on the altar. Also, there's no clue on how you get back.
Persona 4 rewards you with stat bonuses for eating some rather... suspect things from the fridge. For what it's worth, the stat it boosts is courage. Not that this explains why it would even occur to the main character to eat Nanako's science project, which was a container of dirt with grass growing on it.
Tales of Graces: In order to use Blue Earth? You have to make the Fodra Queen chain seven of the Maxwell extensions on you, typically something for overkill when you use it. If you do it right, you'll have several hundred thousand points of damage accumulated on your characters, so if you mess up, you get a game over. Then you counter with Blue Earth and end the battle. Now why on earth would you want to goad the boss into chaining SEVEN mystic artes on you when only one deals enough damage as is?
In Final Fantasy IV, the first fight against Rubicante. His title is the Fiend of Fire, he's red and wears all red, and his special attacks are all fire-based. Sounds like he'd be healed by fire attacks, right? Well, they do... but since he believes in a fair fight, he'll turn around and heal you if you cast even the weakest Fire spell on him. Common sense goes right out the window, however, when he puts his Cloak of Flame up - because rather than give him immunity to ice in addition to absorbing fire, it flips his elemental affinities, and the Fiend of Fire somehow becomes weak to his own element.
OFF has you climbing a huge smokestack at least three screens tall, then jumping inside. While it's still spouting smoke, mind you. Luckily, the Batter seems to be immune to sudden stops.
When your house is completely on fire in TheMirrorLied, what are you supposed to do? Go upstairs and sleep in your bed!
Ace Combat is either in love with Airstrike Impossible missions or owes the trope money. There's at least one a game, and nearly always compounded by things other than the dam/ravine/tunnel walls to crash into trying to splash you.
The hunt for aces and parts in X: Skies of Deception uses this too. Rush through an area filled with Instant Death Radius radar coverage circles on full afterburner? Ignore Xbox-huge Frickin' Laser Beams to go dogfight with enemy pilots? Why the hell not?!
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon: In Dubai, it's possible to engage an enemy plane in Dog Fight Mode, which will lead you through the arch of the Atlantis The Palm hotel. We're talking about an archway that is only a few feet wider than the wingspan of your average fighter jet. This rewards you with the appropriately titled "Checking In" achievement, but your wingman Guts will call you out on it. It would have easier and safer to just fly right above the hotel to continue the chase instead.
Also, one of the best ways to force a pursuer to shoot past you is to intentionally stall your own aircraft; this relies on aircraft being much easier to recover from a stall than real life.
Air Force Delta takes it above and beyond, due to taking the basic Ace Combat mechanic and injecting it full of Nintendo Hard situations. The most notorious seems to be a Shout-Out to UN Squadron/Area88 as it is a dogfight both inside and outside a CAVERN buried deep in a mountain. All the mission targets are inside the mountain, but at least there's no instant-SAM-locks outside. However, you will run out of time attempting to draw everyone out one at a time. Thank goodness the unfinished weapon hanging from the ceiling doesn't move, at least.
In Pharaoh you are tasked with designing towns in ancient Egypt. The basics involve marking certain areas for housing (which causes immigrants to appear and settle automatically) and providing amenities such as food, pottery, entertainment and so on to increase the happiness of your population. Most levels have objectives to build a sufficiently impressive monument or pyramid and to stockpile/trade certain resources along with targets for either population or happiness. If the game gives you a target for population but not happiness then once the other objectives are complete you can simply create massive, infrastructure-free slums that contribute nothing to your city but that automatically fill up with bodies to push you over the population limit. The inhabitants will be living wretched, pointless lives but at least they push your numbers up. The flip side is when the game asks for a high average happiness level. You could provide much-needed infrastructure to help your population... or you could start demolishing, starting from the poorest houses and working your way up, effectively kicking the sad people out of your city and therefore raising the average level of satisfaction.
Ditto stunts in the SSX series of snowboarding games, many of which require detaching the board and reattaching it in midair.
The king of implausible stunts is the Guillotine. You not only take the board off, you make it spin around your neck.
The Magician involves sawing yourself in half!
In EA Sports' NHL Hockey series, online games use an accelerated clock. However, to emphasize penalties, the clock winds slower when a team is on the power play. So, for a team that is losing in the final minutes, it is to their advantage to have a less offensively-inclined player commit an intentional foul. This not only gives you more time to even the score but it allows the shorthanded team to leave a cherry picking forward up ice without fear of accidentally icing the puck.
In Blood Bowl, if you get the "blitz" kick off event, it is entirely possible for the person who kick the ball to run over where the ball will land, and catch it.
As Brotherhood shows us, performing a leap of faith is part of becoming an Assassin. Ezio even makes his sister do it, who has never been trained to do this.
In the second game in the series your 'health' does not regenerate. The sane solution is to go out of your way to find a doctor and pay him to patch you up. However, if your character dies at any point then you will respawn in more or less the same place with full health and suffer no penalties whatsoever. Therefore the quickest and cheapest method of getting your health back is to get yourself killed.
In Black Flag, you have the option of battling legendary ships, which are ships that spawn in each corner of the world and are much tougher than the other ships you can battle. One of these fights, in the northeast corner, pits you up against two ships, so naturally, on their own they are much easier. Well, if you kill one, you get 10,000 Reales. If you die, you just start the fight over... with all that money. Which means the best method to grind for money and supplies is to get yourself killed by the same ship over and over.
In Hitman: Codename 47, the tutorial level required the player to take down a guard and use his uniform as a disguise. It seemed reasonable to assume that shooting him would spill blood on said uniform and render it useless as a disguise, plus one still had a garrote in the inventory. It seemed that it was best to attempt to sneak up on the guard and kill him without spilling blood, but he would always discover the player character and disable him with a taser. Turned out, you were just supposed to shoot him, and wear the mysteriously spotless uniform as a disguise.
Getting the Silent Assassin rating on the final mission of Contracts requires you at one point to mug a paramedic for his clothes. The problem? There are at least a half-dozen civilians standing right behind the paramedic, looking straight at him as you subdue him. No one thinks to call the cops.
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. You are a martial arts expert. How do you avoid being choked to death by a wrinkled old doctor? If you guessed "getting out your Remote-Controlled Missiles and shooting them around yourself so that they hit the person choking you" or "Step on a mine because that scientist on your back is a wuss", or "throw gas grenades upwind so that they blow back into your face" you've just won the boss fight. Congratulations, you're as completely insane as Hideo Kojima.
In the second Syphon Filter game there is a level where a drugged Lian has to escape from a hospital, with all her equipment having been stolen. The main objective is to reach an escape chopper whilst the secondary objective is to find a silenced weapon to aid your escape. It is actually possible to reach the extraction point without first recovering the weapon, whereupon the game will show the helicopter whisking the player off to safety... followed by a Game Over screen because you failed the objective to collect a weapon that you no longer need!
In Silent Hill 2, there's James' famous "I'll just stick my hand into this filthy toilet and fish around for a bit" decision.
In Silent Hill 1, getting the Good+ ending can only be achieved by using a certain object on a certain person at a certain time. It happens to be during one of the game's most dangerous boss fights. You are given absolutely no indication that there is an alternative outcome to the obvious solution of beating the boss with force. The item needed is found hours before, and the game only makes an effort to hint to the player what that item's purpose is in the game after it's too late to matter to the player. Perhaps partially in recognition of this fact, the second-best ending is officially the canon ending.
In Rule of Rose, the only way to get the good ending is to deal with the final boss in the most counter-intuitive manner possible (though it fits the game's theme very well): hand over a gun, the only firearm in the whole game, to an Ax-Crazy murderer who just slaughtered an orphanage full of children. He is overcome by guilt and shoots himself on the spot.
Turn Based Strategy
In the Updated Re-release of the first Fire Emblem game, Shadow Dragon, some of the secret missions are blocked to you if you have too many units in your standing army, forcing you to get some of them killed in order to access them. Others require you to do yet more self-destructive acts like losing the Falchion and getting Tiki killed. The problem is that most anyone who played the previous games has been taught by experience that losing a unit is a bad, bad thing (to the point of Save Scumming an entire mission whenever a unit dies), so deliberately leaving your allies to die comes across as this trope.
In Master of Orion II, you can, eventually, be able to terraform any planet all the way from a barren (Moon-like) or irradiated (Moon-like plus heavy radiation) rock to a paradise world. With one exception - toxic worlds. Apparently, clearing a world of toxins is infinitely more difficult than building a planet out of asteroid chunks like a giant jigsaw puzzle. So, some savvy players have figured out that, if you want to capture an alien colony but don't want to have a toxic un-upgradable planet, just blow it up with a Stellar Converter, colonize a planet in the same system, and rebuild the destroyed planet as a barren world. Easy, right?
The best part is that no matter the original size of the planet (Tiny, Small, Medium, Large, or Huge), the one reconstructed from the resulting asteroid belt will always be Large.
In the Final Fantasy Tactics games, using any ability that can hit multiple targets in an area…while your own units are in range as well. If your units can take the damage without trouble however, then you probably won't mind the friendly fire damage anyway.
Wide Open Sandbox
In Grand Theft Auto IV, jumping up/down stairs is actually a quicker and more efficient way to navigate stairs compared to taking the time and slowly walking up/down them. Try that in real life, and you'll wish you had just acted like a normal person in the first place.
Just Cause 2. If you're falling from a great height, you don't need your parachute! Simply fire your hookshot at the ground, and it will pull you down to safety, even though all it should do is make you hit the ground faster. In fact, it's better than the parachute, since you're easier to shoot when you're slowly drifting through the air.
In order to progress through a tutorial, you have to take a ride with a guy to get to your destination. Oh no! The police are here! Do you think Rico Rodriguez would jump into the passenger seat and shoot from there? Hell no. He hops onto the roof, leaping about on a rapidly moving car like a deranged gibbon to dodge incoming fire.
If you try to land an airplane (you know, the thing people normally do with planes when they're done with them), you're likely to end up roasted to death in a flaming fuselage. The safest, and fastest, way to exit a plane is to leap out of it in midair and parachute or grapple to the ground...yes, even if the plane is only a few meters up and moving horizontally at top speed.
In Need for Speed: Underground 2, There are drift races that takes place on a mountain side. You gain more points by drifting near pedestrian cars, and Mountain barriers.
In Dead Rising 2, Chuck Greene is depicted as a loving, responsible single father of a young daughter. What loving, responsible single father gives his young daughter a fully grown bengal tiger as a gift? One that has been surviving on a diet of human flesh?
In Minecraft, you have to punch trees with your bare hands in order to get the tools you need to survive. And that's just the start.
Starbound: You think you can build a processor board outright? Nope. You gotta build a robot with a Brain in a Jar and various parts, activate it, have it go apeshit on you, beat the tar out of it, pry the board from his corpse and only then can you have your board.
Non-Video Game Examples:
The objective of Whirlwind is to guide a tornado to your area. No explanation is given as to why this is a good idea.
In Avatar, the "Final Battle" Wizard Mode requires the player to hit enough targets on the playfield, then shoot the Unobtanium target for the Jackpot. If the player chooses instead to let the ball drain down an outlane with a lit Unobtanium light, the Jackpot is increased and the ball is automatically returned to play.
The Tiger Dojos in Fate/stay night, actually encourage the player to act like this. Frequently after you get a Bad End, they advise you to go back and choose the more reckless, immature option.
Except when they don't, which can make a player that has recieved a bunch of "take risks and go for it!" try to do that such as attacking the shrine and they get punished and die for it, then try to play it safe like not venturing into the basement of the church and get punished and die for it, rather irritated because it seems like the game can't make up its mind if it wants you to play cautious or reckless.
During the first chapter of Hakuōki, Hijikata informs Chizuru on more than one occasion and in no uncertain terms that if she tries to escape the Shinsengumi, he will kill her without hesitation. Trying to run away at the first possible opportunity not only does not lead to any negative consequences, it earns Chizuru affection points with Hijikata.