Follow TV Tropes


Small Reference Pools / Video Games

Go To

  • To most people, Pong was the first video game ever made. Never mind that the nebulous origins of video games date back even farther, or that there was a console before the Atari 2600.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario Bros., often merged with Donkey Kong. It's wholly possible to meet people who think they're the same game. And good luck finding anyone who knows that there was a Mario Bros. arcade game before there was SUPER Mario Bros., or that Donkey Kong arcade had not one, but two sequels.
    • Advertisement:
    • Mario Kart is the only kart-racing game. Non-gamers also tend to refer to the entire franchise as "Mario Kart" as if the series only consists of the Kart series, specifically Mario Kart Wii.
    • You're lucky if you get a reference to a game past Super Mario 64 and the Nintendo 64 era.
  • Any action-adventure game is almost automatically deemed a clone of The Legend of Zelda (usually Ocarina of Time).
  • Halo is the only Xbox franchise. Gears of War, Fable, and Forza Motorsport might get a mention.
    • On the topic of Halo; all weapons are from the first game, except for the Battle Rifle and Energy Sword (which are from the second game), and the Gravity Hammer (from the third game). Same thing goes for all the vehicles.
  • Rhythm Games:
    • Dance Dance Revolution and Just Dance are the only dancing games.
    • Mobile Phone Rhythm Games? The only ones people ever play are Love Live! School Idol Festival and THE iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls Starlight Stage.
    • Advertisement:
    • Similarly, DDR is the only BEMANI game in the West, due to being the only BEMANI game to see more than a small handful of Western releases, unlike other games such as jubeat and Sound Voltex which are arcade success stories but have only seen very limited releases outside of Asia (an under-the-radar tablet version for the former, limited export runs to specific arcades in the case of the latter).
      • And there's those who see DDR as the only property Naoki has ever had a major hand in, ignoring Dance Masters and his departure from Konami to work on CROSS×BEATS and later SEVEN's CODE. It gets worse on Facebook where he regularly posts about the latter game and people still demand BEMANI-related things to him in the comments anyway as if he's in any position to do so.
      • Pick any longtime BEMANI composer, particularly ones who left Konami at some point to make songs for other rhythm games such as SLAKE, NAOKI, or Tatsh. Only their BEMANI works will be referenced.
    • Advertisement:
    • Rhythm games with plots are usually not on the radar, however if they are referenced it's probably Parappa The Rapper considering how it is.
    • Do not expect any Americans to be acquainted with any rhythm games that aren't BEMANI, a dance game, or a band game. Even if the game in question is not a victim of No Export for You.
  • The only IPs Konami had going into The New '10s were Silent Hill and Metal Gear, and now Konami has no games left. While justified in that a lot of their other modern, still-active IPs are Asia-only arcade games, it can still be jarring to be a fan of the aforementioned BEMANI series, Quiz Magical Academy, or the like and hear your American and PAL-region friends complain about how "Konami doesn't make games anymore".
  • Any arcade game that was wildly popular in the 1980s. Specifically, the ones you see the most often are Pac-Man, Space Invaders (which was actually introduced in 1976), and Frogger, and maybe Donkey Kong, but mainly because that's how Nintendo got its start (it actually began as a hanafuda card company almost a century before they started making video games in 1889, and even then they made the Game & Watch system a year before Donkey Kong).
  • To most gamers, especially in the West, arcade gaming is seen as a subset of retro gaming; any arcade games after the 90's don't exist.
  • If the subject is censorship, expect Grand Theft Auto and Mortal Kombat to show up.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog, known among non-gamers only for the classic Mega Drive/Genesis titles, and maybe the Dreamcast games, and chances are if a classic Sega game is brought up, you can always expect Sonic the Hedgehog to be mentioned, and a few other significant Sega classics like Golden Axe or Columns if they're really, really on the ball.
  • SimCity, The Sims, and their spinoffs are the only simulation games. Occasionally Animal Crossing gets referenced.
  • Tomb Raider. The only thing that non-gamers know about the game series is that it features a certain very busty heroine.
  • Doom; in fact, people used to call the First-Person Shooter genre "Doom clones". Mostly because there was a short period after its release where almost every FPS was a Doom clone.note 
  • Pokémon:
    • Anything after Gen 1 will rarely be featured, also the anime's characters are better known than those from the games, so parodies are MUCH more likely to have Ash than Red (with his Pikachu by his side, of course), contain Pokémon Speak, and be blatantly Merchandise-Driven. If not to the anime or to some nonexistent hybrid of the anime and games (Super Smash Bros. says hi), then references will inevitably be to "Pokémon cards" or Pokémon GO, which brought the series back into the mainstream after several years of being a more low-profile subculture.
    • Even though there are at least 150 basic Pokémon species, the great majority of non-game/anime fans have only heard of Pikachu, most likely because of its mascot status. Squirtle, Bulbasaur, Charmander, Charizard, Jigglypuff, or Eevee might also be mentioned. Pokémon introduced after Gen 1 mentioned would be the Pokémon that were in Super Smash Bros. like Lucario, Greninja, and Incineroar. It's also not widely known that Pokémon evolve and that Pikachu's "upgraded" form is Raichu, who is orange instead of yellow.
    • Some 'mons are based on mythical beasts that would be well-known to those in parts of Asia, but are totally unknown in, say, the United States. For example, Pokémon "God" Arceus is possibly based on a hoofed chimera called a Qilin, but Westerners have memetically compared it to a llama or a goat.
  • Call of Duty and Modern Warfare. Remember the aforementioned "Doom clones" example? If you're a first-person shooter, let alone a 'modern' or 'near future' shooter, expect to be called out as a Call of Duty clone.
    • On the topic of Call of Duty itself, there weren't any installments before the fourth game.
  • Dungeons & Dragons or a Brand X version thereof—Sometimes this is assumed to be the title of a video game, by people who have heard the name and have no idea that tabletop roleplaying games exist.
  • World of Warcraft—The preceding Real-Time Strategy games do not exist.
    • Real-time strategy games in general probably don't exist, but if one does, it is almost certain to be Warcraft, especially since its MMO spinoff became such a huge success.
    • Blizzard Entertainment has only created three franchises, Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo. As of 2016, Overwatch can join that list.
  • Pitfall!. Few non-gamers might know the game's name, but the basic image of a stick figure-like man swinging on vines over lakes and pits seems to be rather familiar to people in general.
  • If you're lucky enough to find a work that references a fighting game, it's Street Fighter or Tekken. Otherwise it's a generic anime-styled combo-fest. Mortal Kombat, too, if people remember that it's a fighting game and not a gore simulator.
    • As for the Street Fighter, all characters from Street Fighter II. Ryu and Chun-li are practically household names. Ken, Guile, and Zangief are well-known too, though not to the same extent. Blanka, Dhalsim, and E. Honda aren't so lucky. While all the original bosses are well-known, only Cammy of The New Challengers is widely recognized. And last but not least, Akuma of Turbo. Of the Alpha sub-series, only Sakura and Dan are known by all.
    • As for Tekken, it's a little better since Tekken 3 is widely considered to be the best of the series and introduced a plethora of new characters including series protagonist Jin Kazama, so there's more characters that can be referenced. Also, the Updated Re-release of Tekken 5 introduced Lili, who quickly became one of the most popular characters in the series. Other than that, expect possible references to Heihachi, Kazuya, Yoshimitsu, Nina, King, Paul, Law, Xiaoyu, and Hwoarang, but anything else however will go over most people's heads.
    • Fighting games with fanservice? Obviously Dead or Alive. That is, assuming people remember that it is indeed a fighting game and not a Jiggle Physics simulator. Also, there are no males characters in the series (except for Ryu Hayabusa, by virtue of being the star of the well-known Ninja Gaiden series). The Soul Series is also starting to head in this direction for its increasingly infamous fanservice. Other than that, it's best known for its many guest characters.
  • If you're lucky enough to spot a JRPG reference, it's going to be either Dragon Questnote  or Final Fantasynote . Any reference to the latter will almost invariably be to the seventh game. Pokémon pops up on both sides but more rarely because many remember the anime first.
  • In the West, if you're lucky, you might find people who can name Shin Megami Tensei games that aren't Persona 3, 4, 5, or their spinoff works.
  • Hero Shooters? You obviously mean Team Fortress 2. As of 2016 however, Overwatch can seriously become a contender as well. If a character from either game is referenced, it's very likely to be Heavy and Tracer, respectively.
  • For landmark puzzle video games, Tetris will always be the go-to reference point, and sometimes Dr. Mario or Puzzle League will be mentioned.
  • Within the Tetris series, only the Game Boy version or current versions will be known.
  • The Elder Scrolls series has become the go-to reference for Western RPGs by non-gamers. In increasing order of reference pool size:
    • Morrowind was the first Multi-Platform (XBox and PC) release in the series, and at the time, was one of the very few Western RPGs to receive a console release in many years. It introduced a massive Newbie Boom to the series in addition to being the Breakthrough Hit for the series.
    • Oblivion built onto Morrowind's success, being one of the first major RPG titles of the the 7th generation of consoles, making full use of the Xbox 360's and Playstation 3's technical capabilities.
    • Skyrim's massive popularity brought the series into a place among video game royalty, just behind legendary series including Mario and The Legend of Zelda. Skyrim also arguably put the rest of its own series into this category, especially among younger audiences. It's not uncommon for someone to have heard of Skyrim without having heard of any other game in the series.
  • To the majority of people, Bethesda has two franchises: The Elder Scrolls and Fallout. Even fewer realize that Fallout didn't originate with Bethesda.
  • As aforementioned, the common connotation of video games is that of eight-bit Atari/NES games or gory M-rated shooters.
  • When you ask a random gamer to name one of the worst games ever made, people will usually think about E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial for the Atari 2600, Custer's Revenge, Superman 64, Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing, the Nintendo-licensed CD-i games, the two infamous Sonic disasters ('06 and Rise of Lyric) and occasionally Pac-Man for the Atari 2600, but do not expect them to know about any other terrible video game ever made... unless, of course, they're a fan of The Angry Video Game Nerd. (Plumbers Don't Wear Ties, anyone?)
  • When Grand Theft Auto III launched and became a success, any non-GTA open-world game released afterwards was instantly labeled a "GTA Clone" until about the late 2000s.
  • The only two video game glitches are Missingno and The Minus World.
  • Super Smash Bros.: Because of the female Wii Fit trainer's memorable reveal for Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U, many people forget that the game also had a male trainer. Despite the fact that he was an alternate costume for her in the series, it has still yet to fully reverse these perceptions.
  • Video games with female protagonists? Tomb Raider or Metroid.
  • Simulation racers? Gran Turismo. Forza Motorsport might get a mention, due to being on the rival platform.
  • Nintendo's only franchises are Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Pokémon, Animal Crossing, and maybe Metroid, Kirby, Fire Emblem, and Splatoon. Also Super Smash Bros., which is the only reason people know about their other franchises.
    • Mainstream fan works seem to be tailor-made to kids growing up in The '90s and exclude any post-90s franchises while treating dead franchises as if they're still relevant. For instance, F-Zero and EarthBound are front and center while Splatoon is nowhere to be found. Animal Crossing is the sole exception.
  • Similarly, Sony's only franchises are Gran Turismo, Ratchet & Clank, Sly Cooper, Jak and Daxter, God of War, Resistance, Killzone, Twisted Metal, Uncharted, and The Last of Us (which is, as of 2015, just one game). Strangely, Metal Gear (often referred to as Metal Gear Solid) and Final Fantasy will often get a mention, despite being third-party and having long abandoned exclusivity.
  • The Sega Dreamcast is widely seen as one of the greatest consoles of all time, despite having failed and ultimately killed Sega as a console manufacturer. Despite this, the only games people are likely to name are Sonic Adventure (and its sequel) and Shenmue. Crazy Taxi, Jet Set Radio, and SoulCalibur might get a mention if the person in question is trying to be different.
  • Games with extreme graphics? Crysis.
  • Licensed games that are good? GoldenEye (1997), numerous Star Wars games, or the Batman: Arkham Series.
  • There weren't any Grand Theft Auto games before Grand Theft Auto III.
  • Ace Attorney. Phoenix Wright is the only protagonist of the series, in fact they're often called the "Phoenix Wright games". Also, don't expect a non-fan to be able to tell you anything else about the series besides the Objection! meme. If another character will be referenced, it'll be Edgeworth and nobody else.
  • World of Warcraft is the only MMO in existence. Maybe Guild Wars or Runescape will be referenced if someone is trying to be different.
  • Darkstalkers. The only thing people can remember about that game is the Morrigan Aensland, the sexy succubus who has appeared in more Capcom vs. games than her own. The only other characters people might remember are Lilith (by virtue of being Morrigan's moe sister) and Felicia (who is a near-naked cute monster cat girl). Good luck finding a non-fan who can name another character, or can remember that the actual protagonist of the series is Demitri Maximoff. As you can tell, Darkstalkers is Best Known for the Fanservice, and almost nothing else.
  • "All video games are violent/inappropriate and are therefore a bad influence. Therefore, they must be subject to more regulation than movies/TV/music/books/the internet." And remember kids, if a game promotes religion it should get an immediate E-rating. Violent video games promoting Judaism/Christianity/Islam/Buddhism... don't exist.
  • Space Invaders, Raiden, and Touhou are the only Vertical Scrolling Shooters. Gradius is the only Horizontal Scrolling Shooter. Touhou is additionally the only Bullet Hell game series (and for many within the fandom, the only shoot-em-up period) and even then it's described as "Space Invaders (or Raiden) on steroids." If you're lucky, you might run into someone who is familiar with CAVE.
    • Darius Twin is the only Darius game in existence. Though with the worldwide multi-platform release of Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours, this might get a little bit better.
    • There are only four Gradius games in existence: Gradius (NES), Life Force (SNES), Gradius III (SNES), and Gradius V (PS2). Note that the first three examples are ports of arcade games.
  • On the topic of Touhou arranges, the only arranges that exist are IOSYS arranges and "Bad Apple!! feat. nomico". This is particularly evident on arcade music games, where any time a game gets Touhou arranges for the first time it will almost always be those songs that appear before any other arranges.
  • Shooters that don't scroll: Defender.
  • The only reputable PC game distribution platform is Steam. DLsite? Playism? What are those? If a PC game has been released, but it's not on Steam (yet), as far as the general public is concerned it doesn't have a release at all.
  • Minecraft was the only game Mojang ever made.
  • Rovio only makes Angry Birds games and nothing else.
  • Looking for a modern Nintendo Hard game? Dark Souls is the go-to example, to the point where many players will call other challenging games "The Dark Souls of <series or genre>".
  • Any time Harvest Moon gets referenced it'll always be a Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town or Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life reference. The protagonist is always male and is always Pete (better known by his Fan Nickname, "Jack").
  • Newgrounds is the only website that hosts online flash games.
  • 3D platformers rarely get referenced compared to 2D sidescrollers (and even then most references are of the original Super Mario Bros. or Green Hill Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog). When they do it's almost always Super Mario 64. Crash Bandicoot (1996) or Banjo-Kazooie might get referenced if you're lucky.
  • Nippon Ichi games and RPGs with ridiculous stat and damage numbers? The only thing that will likely come to mind is Disgaea.
  • Mega Man is only ever portrayed as the 8-bit incarnation, most notably in Super Smash Bros., where he's in-line with his 8-bit proportions, but every other character from the franchise (Including Protoman and Bass from the Classic series) is shown with standard proportions.
    • In a strange twist, the mid-2000s had fan works mostly use Mega Man X as "Mega Man" despite being a different character.
  • Due to it not being as popular in the West, most references to the Kirby series in Western fan works will be limited to whatever is represented in Super Smash Bros. or maybe Kirby Super Star, much to the ire of fans.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: