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Selective Gravity

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A: They're more like giant cherries...

Could be considered the video game version of Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress.

Simply put, in just about every video game ever created, most notably platformers, gravity is applied only to some things whilst everything else is completely immune to it. Sometimes, gravity will even apply differently to different things. Where you will always plummet down, everything else could be completely inert, or maybe they could fly directly at the player with no explanation, or perhaps they could even fall up.

While gravity in a game can clearly exist, you and your enemies being susceptible to it, you will find that special objects, projectiles, power-ups, rows of blocks, coins, entire platforms and even some enemies can simply levitate motionless in the air with no wings or otherwise believable means of overcoming gravity's supposed pull. This is especially prevalent in space levels. Even objects that are on the ground, lie in a position where they should fall in Real Life, for an example, coins being upright. And then there's objects that selectively fall only when you're directly underneath, for no apparent reason.

You, on the other hand, can rest assured that you will always plunge to your death if you step off the edge of a cliff. The player is always gravity's bitch. (Except if you happen to be playing a Digging Game; then it works the other way around entirely.)

Not to be confused with specific gravity.


    open/close all folders 

  • Clonks, animals and objects fall, buildings and the ground itself float happily. Oddly, Floating Platforms can still fall apart due to earthquakes.
  • Glider: Only the player's glider is really affected by gravity, which simply gives it a constant falling velocity. Any enemy that appears to be influenced by gravity (e.g. basketballs) is just moving in a fixed pattern.
  • Metroid:
    • Samus' bombs of all things. Jump up, lay one, and witness as it simply floats stationary in midair before exploding. Samus isn't hurt by her own bombs, but she still gets knocked back by them when in morph ball mode... or knocked directly upwards if she's directly on top of one. The games expect you to do a few bomb jumps here and there, at least until you get another upgrade that allows you to jump normally, but more ambitious players can learn the infinite bomb jump (IBJ) technique, where good placement and timing means you can chain bomb explosions together to continuously gain height. IBJ is one of the key tools for Sequence Breaking in nearly every entry of the series, alongside the more difficult, but often game breaking optional technique of Wall Jumping.
    • In Metroid Fusion, you fight a boss named Nightmare who changes gravity on you partway through the fight, changing your jump and movement speed and effectively rendering your missiles useless (unless you get really, really close).

    Eastern RPG 
  • Final Fantasy XIII has Cocoon, a giant rock that sits in one place (while being inside the atmosphere of Pulse, the main world) with a civilization on the hollowed out inner walls. The source of light and heat comes from a fal'Cie floating in the center, though there's also big chunk of the shell that was blown off during a war. (Information can be seen here) Somehow, water is visibly falling from Cocoon on to Pulse. Considering this is Final Fantasy, it's best to say a fal-Cie did it.
  • Strangely done in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team with gravity changing abilities. You can flip the gravity in four directions with Luiginary Gravity and even turn it off altogether with the Luiginary Nebula... but only Mario and a couple of things in the environment are affected. Enemies? They just keep mulling along on what was previously the ground without seemingly noticing that they should either be flying off into space or floating in mid air about now.

  • In EverQuest all computer controlled characters are immune to falling damage. This is to prevent players from exploiting it to kill monsters. Casting levitation on yourself and leading a monster chasing you off a cliff would be too easy.
  • In World of Warcraft, some game objects, like ore deposits and treasure chests, have collision properties (you can stand on them), but despawn after being consumed or after a period of time. This leaves a character who was standing on them apparently hovering in midair until they make any movement, at which point gravity notices them and they fall normally. Similarly, in older versions of the game, corpses became instantly immobile upon death. If a player died while airborne, their corpse (and later skeleton) would hover at that exact spot in calm defiance of gravity. This can still be observed under certain circumstances.

  • The Outer Wall from Cave Story. The player character falls down like normal, but the hopping enemies and any powerups affected by gravity fall sideways, against the wall.
  • Delicious fruit OF DEATH that falls up or sideways in I Wanna Be the Guy: The Movie: The Game.
    • Everyone also forgets that Spikes can fly in every direction as well. Including ones that it isn't pointing at.
  • In Jazz Jackrabbit 2, powerups usually float, but if you hit them with your weapons, they will start to be affected by gravity.
  • Averted most of the time in LittleBigPlanet: All collectibles (Score and Prize Bubbles, and Player Enhancements) obey the physics engine (though a level creator can simulate this trope by attaching String to a bubble; used frequently), as well as nearly all Materials, Decorations, Gameplay Elements, and of course Sackboy... except for one single material: Dark Matter. No, not the stuff science tells you about. This kind of Dark Matter is easily visible, fully touchable, and floats. Not just regular old floating (you're thinking Floaty Materials there), Dark Matter is literally anchored in place. It just doesn't move. It can't be destroyed, it won't move if attached to something (though things attached to it do move if it's like a Piston or something as the connector), and no amount of force can change its position. The only thing that can move it? Sackboy's Popit Cursor (and only in Create Mode). Before patch 1.07 was released, it was possible to change the texture of a material without changing its properties (though the glitch is now fixed). You would have to make an object the size you want with the desired properties, use the Horrible Gas Tool on it, then Material Changer it to the desired texture (the material you wanted to show), then delethalize it. Grabbable Wood, a piece of Dark Matter that responded to a Motor Bolt, you name it. This video of a level appropriately named "What's the Matter?" takes the glitch to its fullest. Now, the only way to make regular Materials float this way is to glue them to Dark Matter. Still works, but not as cool-looking.
  • Gravity Man's stage in Mega Man 5 has barriers that change the direction of gravity when Mega Man crosses them, affecting Mega Man and some enemies but not others.
  • In Metal Storm, your Humongous Mecha possesses the power of Gravity Shifting, which enables it to switch gravitic orientation between right-side up, upside down and vice versa at will. This is an important mechanic to get through many levels of the game, and one power up enables you to use Gravity Shifting as a charging fireball attack.
  • Monkey Shines: Bonzo is the only thing that falls. Power-ups, keys, fruits, and mooks can float or even walk in the air. There's a screen in "Spooked" where you walk on Temporary Platforms and have to dodge a zombie gorilla, and after you jump over it, it keeps walking on where the disappeared platforms were.
  • In the platforming game N, the player character is pretty much the only element in the game that gravity applies to - the enemies, terminals, and even the gold all float regardless of gravity.
    • Can be partially explained by having stuff mounted on the wall, since the game is strictly 2D.
  • Rick Dangerous has a variation. In certain areas, if you place a bomb next to a movable block, then the explosion will cause the block to fly away towards the bomb.
  • Sonic The Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic & Knuckles's Death Egg levels, there are switches that reverse gravity and let the player walk on the ceiling; yet they only affect the player and one boss, not any other enemies.
    • Sonic Adventure 2 has the infamous Mad Space stage where three of the floating land masses have a gravitational field, with meteors orbiting them and all. The controls on the land masses however...
    • Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 & Knuckles have a bizarre, possibly unintentional variation: if you go to a place where the screen loops vertically and there aren't any slopes or obstructions, it's possible to keep falling endlessly, and you keep constantly accelerating as you do - but because of the way falling is coded, if you fall too fast, you get integer overflow and start rocketing ''upwards,'' decelerating rather than accelerating, until you stop completely and it starts all over again.

  • Boulder Dash: Boulders and diamonds fall (and roll off other boulders and diamonds), but no other objects fall, and Rockford has unrestricted movement.
  • The Incredible Machine series is made of this trope. Every item is basically either affected as normal by gravity, or floats immobile in the air. Whether an item floats or sinks is based far more on gameplay considerations than logic: for instance, paint buckets, cats, baseballs, and candles fall; baskets, alligators, 8-balls and lava lamps don't.
    • 8-balls obey gravity, it just presses them agains your monitor's surface... The rest of floating things is supposed to be attached to the monitor's surface, apparently. Just imagine a wall-mounted alligator.
    • Sid & Al's Incredible Toons also has selective gravity for gameplay purposes. For starters, Sid and Al are affected by gravity, but none of the other animals in the game are. Food and most balls (marbles being the exception) are affected by gravity, as are pianos, but machines aren't.
  • Manifold Garden: A key part of solving some puzzles: the cube "fruit" of the trees are immobile unless you match the direction of their gravity, and this can be used to support different-colored fruit.
  • Repton: Similarly to Boulder Dash (which Repton was inspired by), rocks and eggs fall, but Repton does not. A notable difference from Boulder Dash is that diamonds do not fall.
  • Tetris pieces descend into the well and lock into place once they've remained motionless for a half second. A row of the well full of blocks empties out, and then the blocks above it move down by exactly one row. It turns out that there are ways to clear lines and leave blocks completely unsupported. Only a few games have "recursive" or "cascade" modes that allow groups of such blocks to fall into gaps below them, which allows the sort of chain reaction seen in other games like Dr. Mario and Puyo Puyo.

    Sandbox Game 
  • In Minecraft, only certain types of blocks (sand, gravel; partially, fluid blocks) are affected by gravity. Other block types are not, allowing them to float in midair and creating the well known "Why are the trees floating?" for those new to the game that aren't familiar with how it works.
    • Sometimes the blocks that aren't supposed to float might still do so if they were generated that way. Such floating blocks typically fall as soon as you do something affecting them, though.
      • Basically, if these blocks are generated as floating when they're not supposed to, then breaking those blocks will cause their sister blocks to fall down as normal and can cause a chain reaction.
  • In The Powder Toy, gravity only applies to powders, liquids, radiation, and some gases.


  • Flavour text from Heroic Armies Marching reveals that the Daevas are immune to gravity because of their magic.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • Warframe: in the first few tiles of the Infested Hive Ship tileset - your 'frame is clearly on the ground. Those crates clearly are not.

    Western RPG 
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • In Morrowind, all items work like this. It is possible to make a stack of items, then remove the items on the bottom of the stack to leave the top items floating in midair.
    • Oblivion:
      • The game contains one of the most startling examples: paintbrushes can be picked up, placed into and removed from containers, and so on, but aren't affected by physics. A dropped paintbrush will remain hovering in midair wherever you placed it. This bug leads to some entertaining possibilities for the canny player, such as building stairways to otherwise inaccessible locations and setting up sniper's nests where melee attackers can't reach you. The paintbrushes are particularly dangerous as they are cheap and can be used to sequence break the whole plot.
      • Interestingly, this paintbrush bug unintentionally makes up for the fact that the player-levitation spell was not carried over from Morrowind. Naturally, both the spell removal and the inclusion of physics effects for all objects were intended specifically to avert different aspects of this trope.
  • Coded from the same engine as Oblivion, Fallout: New Vegas has a similar levitating object in its DLC Dead Money. Complementary Vouchers are holodisks (think giant cassette tape) that float in mid air if dropped. Unfortunately, the complementary voucher is intended to give the player free money every three days, so every voucher you carry with you to game break and don't spend on vending machine chips is a tactical choice. Players love to combine this glitch with one of the facts that 5mm ammo (intended to be used for the minigun) appears as a rather large ammo crate when dropped, regardless of if it's one bullet or a hundred. Players can build diving boards, stairs and even houses with these two items.