Lots of games are hard. Some of those are Nintendo Hard, and some games are simply impossible. And, every now and then, the dev team takes notice and decide to give the player a little help. These would be situations in which the Devs actually try to subvert Guide Dang It!.
For example: let's say The Hero MUST use the Sword of Plot Advancement on the Final Boss in order to avoid Gameplay and Story Segregation. Simple enough, right? However, some players won't catch on, and instead use the Infinity +1 Sword on their final duel with the Big Bad, prompting a Curb-Stomp Battle by That One Boss as a result. The players instantly cry out "BULLSHIT!!" and get ready to start over...
Pay note that in order to qualify as Player Nudge it must be something that the player would otherwise easily miss. Telling the player to stock up on Fire Spells because the opponents on The Maze are all weak to it does not count because it will become obvious in a matter of seconds (or at least hopefully). To qualify, it needs to be something that will make you go "Oooh, snap. I should have done that instead," preferably after you get a Nonstandard Game Over.
- One of the earliest examples is in Super Mario Brothers. The dev team was afraid the audience would confuse the mushrooms for something hostile and avoid them. To prevent this they structured the first level so that it was nearly impossible to avoid the mushroom after it was spawned, ensuring the players would see it was not harmful when it struck them.
- In Devil Survivor, if you pick Yuzu's Route, you end up fighting Loki, who chastises you for picking the "easy route" and not taking into account Naoya's suggestions to open up to the other people inside the lockdown. This is done so that lazier players realise that to open up the other Multiple Endings, they need to stop and talk to the other characters instead of simply zooming through the game. And if you let Haru die the one time the game doesn't instantly give you a Game Over for it despite the forewarning, the game does not stop reminding you that this was a bad idea.
- In Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, if you do not equip a certain piece of equipment prior to entering a certain room, the Downer Ending ensues. Afterwards, a short scene appears with Julius and Genya outside the castle. Genya laments, saying: "I had assumed he would have equipped the talisman from Mina...". Cue Face Palm by the player.
- Zig-zagged with the 'books' in Dawns' predecessor, Aria of Sorrow. It's played straight in that they're just subtle enough to point towards how to get the good ending without outright stating it, but also subverting the trope by being hidden themselves, and also not saying when they're needed. They hint towards the three souls you need to equip when fighting the final boss, but they don't hint towards the when fighting the final boss part. note
- Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, if you don't rescue all the villagers, you get the bad ending halfway through the game. This bad ending pans over all the villagers you failed to rescue, although since only the room they're in is shown and some of them are in hidden rooms behind breakable walls, it's largely up to player to remember where exactly they ran into rooms with such a design.
- Kingdom of Loathing:
- In the old version of the Sorceress's Tower, a puzzle required you to enter the Konami Code. If you fail, the game prompted you to concentrate a little harder. Similarly, dying against the Tower guardians gave the player five increasingly blatant hints on the key item to use against them.
- In the new version, after passing the entrance competition, you're joined by a floating skull named Frank, who tells you the safest (but not fastest) way to get through the Hedge Maze, and then gives you hints on how to beat the new (not random) Tower guardians if you lose to them. If you then lose to the Sorceress's "actual true form", he'll explain about the Wand of Nagamar, and help you find it in the Misspelled Cemetary.
- If you die to a boss in Iji and choose to retry, you'll generally get some sort of hint message in the dialogue right before the fight starts again.
- In Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, the Dark Prince gives the player nudges during boss battles.
- Not so much after a Game Over, but if you fall off the platform when fighting Ganon in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, you see a telepathic tile telling you that you need Silver Arrows to defeat him; it's possible to not even have Silver Arrows yet.
- One of the more infamous puzzles in the Water Temple in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time involved jumping down a gap that you can only see during a cutscene, which many players missed and got frustrated over. In the 3DS remake, said cutscene now makes that gap glaringly obvious so players didn't miss it again.
- In Makai Kingdom, getting any ending other than the good ending will give you a hint telling you how to avoid that ending. It's also the only Nippon Ichi game that does that, the rest going into Guide Dang It! territory at times.
- There's one mission early in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 where you are supposed to jump into a humvee in a convoy. If you don't catch the none-too-subtle hint (the humvee pulls up in front of you and the Afghan trooper inside opens the door for you), you get sniped as you try to run across the bridge, and the Nonstandard Game Over will tell you that it'll be safer if you stay with the convoy.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum: Every time you die, you get a game over screen with a hint about the section you died in.
- If you get stuck for a while in Telltale's Sam & Max games, someone (usually Max) will mutter a vague hint or two about your next move.
- In another of Telltale's games, Tales of Monkey Island, Guybrush will occasionally say something about what the player should be doing if you take too long.
- Another Telltale game, Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, hanging around for a while will cause Strong Bad to drop a hint as to what the player should be doing. It's actually possible to adjust the frequency/blatancy of the hints in the options menu.
- If you die in Tsukihime, you'll get a little lesson from Ciel giving you a hint about how to do it right the next time.
- Fate/stay night has the Tiger Dojo, which gives you a hint about how to do it right the next time.
- In Mahou Sensei Negima!, the "Bad End" drawn by Haruna in the Battle For Mahora arc parodies this.
- If you're having trouble with one of the battles in Shadow of the Colossus, the Voice of the Legion starts to drop cryptic hints. If the fight continues to drag on, the tips get less cryptic and more blunt.
- Metal Gear series features NPCs giving hints via the codec if a boss battle starts to drag on.
- There's a sequence in the first Metal Gear Solid where you're trapped in a prison cell, and can escape by one of three ways. If you don't think to hide under the bed when the guard leaves for a little bit, Otacon sneaks in and gives you some food supplies that include ketchup. Fail to escape by either of these means for even longer and Gray Fox just busts the door open for you.
- BioShock will generally pop up a little message offering hints if it looks like you're dragging your feet on any goal. The game more or less hands you the answers to any puzzles you may encounter. And the whole thing is Justified and possibly Deconstructed by your character being mind-controlled into advancing the plot for the majority of the game.
- Metroid Prime's hint system basically highlights the room you should be heading towards if you take too long to reach it, usually with a clumsy Gameplay and Story Integration computer analysis.
- Super Metroid had two encounters with a Ridiculously Cute Critter that taught special moves. The ostrich-like Dachora showed the Shinespark (a Charged Attack involving the Speed Booster) and the Etecoons, the Wall Jump.
- Sonic Adventure 2 has Omochao giving more and more obvious hints every time you respawn against a boss. Sega did their homework, and let you throw it at the boss for massive damage.
- Mitsumete Knight has a Hint System that works this way. When failing to score a girl and getting the Bad End, a Hint screen will appear after the credits, giving you slightly veiled hints on the things you could have missed. A good example of this system is Linda's Hint Screen:
If you couldn't form a couple with Linda, it could be said it's because of bad luck. After all, she's a nouveau riche, and the heiress of a conglomerate... If she doesn't fall back to a low social status, it'll probably be impossible to be with her. Well, if something like a bomb explodes and her conglomerate crumbles, you may have a chance.
- Since most players go for the easy first girl heroine in their first playthrough, and her storyline contains a major Event where there's a terrorist attack on the Theater, this is the hint for the players to replay the game with said heroine in their girl roster, so they can get to see this Event and thus get Linda's Ending.
- The Descent series had a lot of these. Usually they were subtle, the devs might put e.g. a Smart Missile in a place where using it would be a good idea. This worked best when the player was already full on Smarts. A good example was level 22 of the original game, in the shaft leading to the red key.
- In Hotel Dusk: Room 215 and its sequel Last Window, if you get a Game Over, usually Kyle will flash back to the conversation that triggered failure, unless it's an interrogation scene. There's also a subtle hint during interrogations: if you are asking questions that will lead to a game over, the character will have a red shadow slide over them. You get the choice of either continuing to press them or to backtrack.
- In Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, there's a late game boss fight that turns out to be hopeless unless you have a certain character in your party - a character which any sane player would have kept out of their party. So the average player will fight the boss, lose, and get a Game Over. But right before the game ends, they'll get a brief hint about what party member they need to bring, once they reload an old save. But wait! We're not done yet! There's another required character for this fight, though at least in this case, it's one of the better characters, so many players might have them anyway. But if not, they'll face another Game Over and get another nudge to bring this character along as well. At this point, the boss fight finally becomes winnable. But even after all this, in a straight Guide Dang It! that's hinted at nowhere in the game, the only way complete the boss fight without Golbez suffering a Plotline Death is to bring yet two more characters along for the fight. (If you're curious, bring along Cecil and Golbez to complete the fight, and also Ceodore and Rosa for the best outcome.)
- Radiant Historia handles this reasonably well: After getting a bad end (and you will), the children in Historia explain your mistake and offer some advice to improve your odds. Incidientally, a Downer Ending does not mean Game Over, and in most cases the way to proceed either involves picking the other option in the most recent Dialogue Tree and/or hopping over to the other timeline until you figure out what you need to do to proceed in the current one.
- Hotel Mario loved this trope:
"It's hard to see through those clouds! I hope we can get rid of them! Get the hint?"
- A non-gaming example: on Wheel of Fortune, host Pat Sajak will sometimes do this. The most frequent variant is if a contestant asks to buy a vowel and still has enough money to buy another, at which point he will say "You can buy another" if the puzzle still has at least one vowel unrevealed. Also, if a player calls a right consonant on the highest dollar amount and is holding a Wild Card, he will often remind them that they can use the card to call a second consonant for the same amount.
- If a contestant hits a Daily Double on Jeopardy!, Alex Trebek will usually say "You have $x more/less than your opponents" to give a hint as to how much they should wager on it if they feel confident enough in doing so (particularly if they want to go "True Daily Double" and wager all their winnings). He also drops similar hints leading into Final Jeopardy! This is as much to prompt large wagers and therefore more drama as it is to help the contestants, however.
- Alex sometimes subverts it for laughs as well, by jokingly suggesting that a contestant with a commanding lead go True Daily Double.
- In the Rhythm Heaven games, if a player's having trouble following the music's rhythm, they can usually track it via one of the objects on screen. In addition, while the game is known for covering the visuals, several of the stages that do this will move the blockade out of the way if the player misses a beat.
- In TaskMaker, if you return to the title ruler without having picked up the latest item in his Fetch Quest, he will demand that you try again, and drop a hint or two on how to find it.
- The Tales of... games sometimes use the skits to give hints either on what the player should do next (or outright tell you) or about any sidequest they have the opportunity to do at that moment. In Tales of the Abyss, if you die on a boss, you get an extra option on the Game Over screen that lets them view a skit where the characters lament over their failure and then try to think of a strategy for when the player tries again. You don't need to fight the boss this way, but it helps a lot.
- In Demon's Souls, the Storm King is a gigantic, gigantic flying manta ray. If the player is smart, they would be armed with either magic or arrows to beat it and its spawn. If they are melee-only, there will be developer-placed messages on the ground pointing to a specific sword (the Stormruler) that has exactly the kind of power required to beat the boss.
- During the between-night minigames in Five Nights at Freddy's 3, the West Hall will contain a hint as to what you need to do during the next night for the good ending.
- Advance Wars (and some of its sequels) will give you an outline of a strategy to beat a map if you surrender on it. (Later games in the series made this a menu option instead, complete with amusing and often fourth-wall-breaking dialogue.)
- BlazBlue: Continuum Shift has this twice - a line of dialog usually during the game which hints at a choice or action the player has to make or a special segment that plays after each character's bad endings called 'Help Me, Professor Kokonoe' which breaks the Fourth Wall and give even more blatant hints on getting the True End of the route, although she often just hints at what you have to do (telling Ragna that he should listen to Rachel and win the battle against her or telling Makoto to avoid fighting Relius). She also blatantly tells the player that, unlike the last game, they don't need to intentionally lose in some fights to get the good ending.
- At one point in the Ruins, the player needs to press a switch hidden behind a pillar. If they walk past the pillar enough times without pressing the switch, the game will flat-out tell them that they can see a switch behind the pillar.
- You can spare every monster you encounter by using ACT commands until the first proper Boss Battle with Toriel, where using the only ACT command available ("Talk") repeatedly will result in the game flat-out stating that ACTing won't escalate the battle any further. If you killed her in a previous play (a bit too easy to do), the game will instead offer a pointed strategy hint: "Can you show mercy without fighting or running away...?"
- If you keep getting hit by Papyrus's attacks after he turns your SOUL blue, he'll explicitly tell you to press Up to jump.
- If you keep getting hit by Undyne's first attack during the battle against her, she'll explain more clearly about what she means by "face danger head on".
- Asgore destroys the MERCY button before the fight with him, indicating you have no choice but to FIGHT. If this doesn't convince you (there are monsters that can be spared without touching the MERCY button, but Asgore isn't one of them), the only available ACT is "Talk", which if tried persistently enough will just tell you "All you can do is FIGHT."
- Mario & Luigi:
- If you die in battle in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team and then retry, a Hint Block will be added to your rotation for the battle, which will give hints about the enemy's attacks and how to counter them. Reading it doesn't take up any turns, so it's useful for learning the best strategies for defeating the enemy.
- Dying to a boss in Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam and retrying will also add a Hint Block to the brothers' battle menu, which will give hints on how to counter the boss's attacks. This also doesn't take up a turn.
- In String Theory 2, if you're taking too long on a level, one of the characters will say something casually like "I feel like we have to do this in the right order" or "If only there was a way to stop me from rolling" to clue you in on how to solve it.
- In one of the motorcycle levels in Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, you can see a bird fly into a road sign. Hitting said road sign yourself is how the player enters the secret level, Hot Coco.
- Near the end of Absolute Despair Girls, the player has to choose a door that Monaca is hiding behind. One will advance the game, the other two kill you. If you get it wrong, upon choosing to retry, Komaru and Toko will have a conversation that results in a flashback that drops an obvious hint as to which door is correct.
- At the end of the cutscenes that follow a very tough boss battle in the fangame Pokémon Uranium, you're standing next to a Ranger who praises you thus:
"I can't believe it... you SAVED the day. I knew that you could SAVE us. ...Why am I shouting SAVE, you ask? Well... I just think it's good to SAVE things!"
- Done with camera angles in both Life Is Strange and its prequel, Before The Storm. When the player attempts something that doesn't work, a different possible solution will often be in the shot showing the player that it didn't work. For example, a shot showing that Chloe failed to open the hood of the wheel-clamped truck in the junkyard during Before The Storm Chapter 2 is framed to show Chloe, the still-closed hood and the hood release button in the trucks' interior.
- In Act 3 of Doki Doki Literature Club!, Monika describes how easy it was to delete the other girls' .chr files, detailing exactly the steps one would follow to do so (which vary slightly depending on what platform you're playing the game on). The intent being to encourage the player (who may or may not be especially computer-savvy) to see what happens if they try deleting the one remaining .chr file themselves...
- After defeating the final boss in Super Mario Odyssey, Cappy will start commenting whenever the player enters a bonus room they've been to before, letting them know if there are still power moons or regional coins to be found or if they place has been cleaned out, saving the player from having to do some fruitless searching.
- In 20XX, several of the Glory Room setups require you to use a power's secondary effect, and fill all your power slots with that power to force you to figure that secondary effect out. "Lock the Blocks" challenges require you to figure out how to use the Shadespur to solidify disappearing platforms; "Disable Traps" may require you to short out lasers with the Force Nova or shut down fireball devices with the Splinterfrost; and "Destroy" challenges straight-up demand that you blow up Death Lotus's mortar buds with the weapon that does bonus damage to Death Lotus. Some boss fights also have a "?" pop up next to damage dealt by the weapon that counters them but in an indirect way - Vera will get question marks when fired at Kur, because the point of the gun is to fire it at Kur's Quint Laser projectiles to deflect them back into him.
- Xenoblade Chronicles 2: While most new levels of the Tiger Tiger! minigame become available upon completion of a chapter, the final one becomes available at a seemingly random point. It just so happens this point is the same point that a sidequest to upgrade Poppi's final form becomes available, and the sidequest marker just happens to be right next to the Tiger Tiger! machine, ensuring that the player won't miss it.
- Dark Sun, open world games from early 1990s, had a trader Notaku, whose Fetch Quests sent players in the required direction. Don't know where to go next to advance the main plot? Ask Notaku where are the ingredients he wants or the client waiting for the delivery.