People have been making video games for a long time now, and whether you like it or not, people are creatures of habit. Patterns are bound to emerge in game mechanics, storylines, maps, dungeons, and puzzles. However, some of these patterns repeat over and over again until they lose all meaning, and we are left with nothing but a pile of overused clichés. We narrowed down the list of gaming clichés to the 100 most overused, and we'll be posting twenty per day until we reach number one.
100. Everyone Hates Humans
Many games portray humans as scoundrels that ravage the environment and declare war for no particular reason. As such, pretty much every other sentient race hates them. If it's a fantasy game, you can be sure the elves and dwarves have chips on their shoulders. If it's a sci-fi game, nearly every alien race will despise humans for some reason for another. Heck, even non-human villains hate humans, sometimes as their primary motivation. Humans either look at themselves as superior and are treated as a bunch of pretentious jerks for it, or are viewed as being a largely inferior race of intolerant and violent hairless apes. Sometimes it's both. Let's just say humanity tends to get a raw deal in video games.
99. Bullet Time
Ever since The Matrix came out, the ability to slow down time has just been this thing that action heroes could do. Whether it's some form of magic, like Amaterasu's Veil of Mist, or just finely-tuned instincts, like John Marston's Dead Eye ability, if you are an action hero, chances are you will be able to slow down everything around you while muffling the sound and running the graphics through a different colored filter. From Batman to Bloodrayne to Bond, nearly every modern day action hero has the ability to go bullet time, even if there's no good reason for it.
Somewhere down the video game evolutionary line, a game designer figured out that some players were just too good; direct threats to their characters weren't doing enough to impart a sense of danger. Thus, the protection side quest—called the "escort quest," in some circles—was born. Now, the gamer had to not only protect themselves, but also a phenomenally stupid A.I. companion with a habit of running right into danger at the worst possible times. We've seen protection side quests in countless game franchises, ranging from Resident Evil to Kingdom hearts. Heck, we've even seen entire games made around this premise. Neverdead is an upcoming example. Honestly, it would be a lot better if our danger-prone companions would just stay home and let us do our action hero jobs.
Sooner or later, no matter the game genre, you will come across a switch, and no matter what, that switch needs to be pulled. Otherwise, why would there be a switch there in the first place? Silent Hill—pull the switch to activate the elevator to get out of the hell world. Final Fantasy—pull the switch to lower the bridge to face the final boss of the water dungeon. God of War—pull the switch to unleash the Cerberus so that you can decapitate it three times. Point-and-click adventures, first-person shooters, even kart racing games have switches for you to pull, and they're never in the correct position when you find them.
96. Incredibly Convenient Dungeons
I may keep an extra key to my house under my doormat, but Gannondorf keeps an extra key to his dungeon in a treasure chest behind a wall of vines protected by a giant spider after a trapped room. Luckily enough, he also keeps a boomerang in the dungeon which lets you hit the switch to disable the trap to fight the giant spider with the new sword you also found in the dungeon. Afterward, you can light the vines on fire with the fire magic which, by the way, you also found in the dungeon. That sure is nice of Gannondorf! Don't worry, if you get lost, he also included a map and a compass to help you find your way as well as numerous health pickups, arrows, and cold hard cash stored in randomly placed clay jars. You'd think it would be easier if he just left the door open in the first place.
95. Red Herring Deaths
No one ever dies off screen. This is a rule of movies and TV and it's a rule of videogames as well. Remember Final Fantasy IV? Nearly every member of that cast "died" at some point, and everyone except Tellah came back in the end. Heck, sometimes deaths are red herrings even when a character dies on screen. How many times has Kratos died and gotten better? Long story short, if it seems strange for a character to die, then they are probably still alive.
Side note: Villains never ever die when there's the possibility of a sequel.
94. The FMV
The original PlayStation ushered in an age of discs, and with it came an age of full motion video. When a particular scene just can't be expressed with a game's in-engine graphics, the FMV does the rest of the job. Back in the days of the PSOne, it was easy to see why we relied on FMVs. The best looking characters we were able to render still looked like they were made of origami. Now, we can render stunningly realistic scenes without FMVs, and yet we still use them. Maybe it's just done purely out of tradition?
There sure are a whole lot of spikes lying around. Sonic has to cope with spikes randomly sticking out of grassy fields. The Prince of Persia has to cope with spikes jutting out of the walls of what should be perfectly normal palace hallways. Mega Man has to cope with spikes just about everywhere he goes. In fact, Wiley's fortresses have so many spikes in them, I'm surprised Wily himself is able to get around without getting impaled. Yet, he still hasn't lined a boss room with nothing but instant-death spikes and put a flying robot master in it. Problem solving skills, Wily. Problem solving skills.
92. Side Quests During the Apocalypse
Well, the world is going to be destroyed in a few minutes, so let's so find this girl's missing cat. The apocalypse is always impending in video games, and time always seems to be of the essence. But no matter how long you wait, you can just spend as much time as you'd like finding treasure, exploring new lands, completing optional dungeons, and level grinding. The apocalypse will always wait patiently for you to stop it. In fact, the apocalypse always seems to come right before a game ends, and this is often the part where the most side quests are available to you. It's almost as if games are actually asking you to waste time in the face of certain doom.
91. Killing God
What has God ever done to you? Why do you always have to be picking on him? He only created the universe and made you in his own image. Sure, he might have gone a little crazy locked in isolation up in his magic space techno-fortress, but that's just because no one ever pays him a visit. Now this spikey-haired kid comes waltzing in his front door to jab a sword in his eye. Not cool! Then again, being an omnipotent, omniscient god and all, he probably shouldn't have made a universe that had spikey-haired god-killing protagonists in it. Also, he probably shouldn't have waited for you to complete all those side quests before raining down fire and brimstone upon you, and he probably shouldn't have kept the key to his space fortress in that treasure chest right outside the door that was opened with the big blinking switch.
By Angelo M. D'Argenio
CCC Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*