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Ludicrous in-game explanations for normal in-game mechanics

Videogames do not work like real life. They can't. There are certain rules and necessities of game design that prohibit it. We know this, we accept this, and we just get on with playing, because after all, a 100% realistic game would barely be any fun anyway.

But some games can't let it go. They feel the need to justify things that don't need justifying. They go out of their way to "plausibly" explain why you can't go over into that area just outside the map, or why you can't spam that uber-weapon quite as much as you'd like to, or why the level is laid out the way it is. The more extravagant the attempt at believability, the sillier it gets, until eventually things go so far that someone writes a feature about the whole phenomenon. That someone is us and that feature is this one.

  • In an attempt to pass off its massively linear city-based environments as a living, breathing open world, the new Bionic Commando fills them with clouds of radioactive gas. Gas which coincidentally always borders the route the game wants you to take. It seems there is no wind in Ascension City.
  • Wander too far into Far Cry 2's outer desert and heat exaustion will kick in, forcing you to return to the main map. Strangely, only the desert near the limits of the map has this effect. Presumably the proximity of mission objectives lowers the ambient temperature elsewhere.
  • Crysis' ocean doesn't have invisible walls. It has a very visible shark. And he just loves the taste of nanosuits.
  • Earthbound limits your path with police roadblocks. The reason there are so many? The PD is trying to break the world record for setting them, naturally.
  • Yet another reason to hate mimes. In Family Guy, you can meet one who has used his "art" to create an actual, real invisible wall.


  • The Legacy of Kain series explains away the lethality of water by simply making it a (rather crap) supernatural property of its vampires. Which raises the issue that a water-soluble race of walking corpses who fundamentally can't wash must absolutely reek.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert's Soviets deliberately don't train their troops to swim, in order to minimise desertions. Because a drowned soldier is loads more useful than one who has simply run away.
  • Psychonauts has some fun with this old platforming cliche. It's explained early on that Raz's family are the victims of a lethal water curse, meaning that they'll die if they go near it. But rather than drowning like Mario or Sonic, going for a paddle will see Raz instantly beaten senseless by a large tentacle. Made of water.


  • Why are alien worlds in Metroid games almost always constructed out of obstacles tailor-made for Samus' suit's abilities? Easy. The planets are usually of Chozo origin, as is the Power Suit. And if they're not, then they're the worlds of races who've stolen Chozo tech. Given the proliferation of Morph Ball pipes throughout the galaxy, the Chozo really should have looked into patenting.
  • Similarly, the ever-changing, massively inconvenient layout of the castle in Castlevania is explained in Symphony of the Night by the building being a living creature of chaos. And we thought Drac had just really pissed off his architect.
  • Does Burnout's Paradise City seem just a little too conveniently filled with jumps and ramps? Apparently it's the fault of a lazy City Works dept. Lazy is one thing, but those guys seem positively trained never to finish a job.
  • The Mars base in Doom might be laid out in a way which would make day-to-day operation a ludicrous undertaking, but that's only because Hell's encroachment has twisted it out of shape. Satan just loves his keycard puzzles, it seems.
  • Some of the floating platforms in the Metroid series are justified by the addition of small jet boosters. Because jet boosters turn fantastical videogame staples into hard science.

51 comments

  • blacknight51792 - September 30, 2010 5:15 p.m.

    ONe of my favorites worth mentioning is the explanation for the unending inventory in the Tomba games: tomba swallows the items he recieves, then spits them back up as he needs them.
  • Metroidhunter32 - November 24, 2009 12:07 a.m.

    No Okami on the respawning one? Come on, mirrors that store your memories. That is quite contrived. And when has Link ever acted emo? And one final stab, IT TAKES YOU 40 HOURS TO BEAT A ZELDA GAME? YOU SUCK!
  • wiiking8 - August 2, 2009 2:40 a.m.

    I wonder how they explain the animal crossing pockets?
  • reaperman22 - June 19, 2009 12:15 p.m.

    DAM YOU MIMES AND YOUR INVISIBLE WALLS!
  • JTDC007 - June 6, 2009 11:06 p.m.

    Actually, vampires traditionally are vulnerable to running water, being unable to cross it. So nix the Legacy of Khaine one.
  • Madvillain - April 27, 2009 9:56 p.m.

    This article is great, always funny to try and put vgs in reality. The metroid shit in particular is hilarious!
  • battenfelder - April 27, 2009 2:44 a.m.

    non Chozo doors just dont make sense to Samus lol
  • Meatwad8888 - April 26, 2009 6:31 p.m.

    What about Giant's Knife (i think that's what it's called) from Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time? Doesn't it break when you hit something with it?
  • GreyDay - April 21, 2009 9:43 p.m.

    hahahaa. good images for this one.
  • Eo1spy - April 21, 2009 4:21 p.m.

    @Tomsta666 I remember that game! you could make your own dirt tracks. The boundaries of the map were cliffs, and somehow you could drive vertically up them, then when you kept driving forward then whooshing and flying back to the map occured.
  • nadrewod999 - April 21, 2009 5:29 a.m.

    No, everyone KNOWS that all people who have to save the world get their own air bubble (which is why they can't be instantly poisoned), and while some air bubbles don't filter out water (making them drown in water), every air bubble that can be used to double jump allows the user to push off the bottom of the bubble as it rushes up to follow the user. Yes, I did just make that up. nadrewod999 FTW!
  • Person5 - April 21, 2009 4:38 a.m.

    in GTA IV it was a terrorist threat I like in Earthbound the Onett police are famous for their roadblocks Also if you go too far out of the area in Halo 3 multiplayer you'll get shot by turrets
  • IceManYEA - April 21, 2009 4:22 a.m.

    Also in the GTA series, if you travel to a part of town you havent unlocked yet you get 4 stars for no reason. But i guess this was never justified or ludicrously explained so watever. Meh
  • NotSteve - April 21, 2009 2:59 a.m.

    Magic, double jumps are always magic. Or jets.
  • The_Zanger - April 21, 2009 1:34 a.m.

    Everyone knows that Link stores all his equipment in his hat. Its also filled with helium and is part leech, which stops it from falling of.
  • octagons - April 20, 2009 11:33 p.m.

    I remember in the original Far Cry if you tried to escape by boat a helicopter with a sniper on it would come out of nowhere and kill you in one shot.
  • Mavarious - April 20, 2009 11:24 p.m.

    Wait a minute, nobody called first... that means it's still technically up for grabs... in that case.... FIRST Has any game except the ones with powersuits explained how you can take 50 bullets to the face and still be in fighting shape?
  • Spybreak8 - April 20, 2009 8:57 p.m.

    Lol the doom Satan keycard statement made me think of probably having to play against him in Monopoly in Hell. "Do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars, MUHAHAHAHA". It is funny when you play an old game and smash into an invisible wall with a car or your face!
  • cookanator - April 20, 2009 8:13 p.m.

    nice article for never ending pockets should have added fable 2
  • jamminontha1n2 - April 20, 2009 7:53 p.m.

    I especially like how they explained deathmatches in unreal tournament 3 where each respawner only has enough power for a certain number of respawns. They should invest in a larger battery for those things.

Showing 1-20 of 51 comments

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