Pick your locomotive poison
Movement is an easy thing to take for granted. As gamers, we've collectively saved the universe about a billion times--and we'd wager nearly every instance of heroism involved moving a character through a virtual space. Sometimes traversal merely involved walking; others, super abilities. Others still were modes of transportation that would work only within the realm of a video game.
Of course, that's part of the fun of games--they let us do things that we couldn't otherwise experience. And those experiences often leave us wondering: "How would this work in the real world?" What follows are a few methods of locomotion that, while plausible in a virtual reality, aren't really in ours.
Pipes (Mario Bros. series)
All video games typically demand from us a suspension of disbelief--especially ones involving a plumber that can travel through sewage pipes to magical, otherworldly lands. Following the logic of Mario games, folks might expect that a brief trek through liquid fecal matter could lead to hidden treasures and plenty of gold coins. All it would really lead to, though, is an introduction to E. coli, the Ebola virus, permanent pink eye, or a host of other poop-related diseases.
Then there's the bit about fitting into a pipe. Obviously there are pipes large enough to accommodate for a human's exploratory needs, but they're typically closed into circuits through which we cannot pass. And, even if we could, they would almost certainly lead to nothing but stinky tragedy.
Rope arrows (Tomb Raider)
Tying a rope to an everyday arrow, shooting said arrow into the face of a nearby cliff, then climbing that rope to cross a chasm is one of the silliest ideas ever conceived. Why? Because attempting such a feat would end in failure 100 percent of the time.
For starters, you'd actually need the arrow to pierce a surface--sometimes rock in the case of Lara Croft--deep enough to withhold the weight of a human body. What's to keep the arrow from snapping in half under that kind of pressure, or the rope from sliding off its cylindrical form? Arrows are effective at killing things from a distance, to be sure, but they certainly aren't grappling hooks.
Grappling hook (Just Cause 2)
While we're on the topic of grappling hooks, let's take a closer look at the one used by Rico Rodriguez in Just Cause 2. He has access to a magically self-replenishing coil of grappling rope housed in his fancy wrist launcher, which he frequently uses to tether objects together or go parasailing while attached to a car. It's less a grappling hook and more of a grappling spike.
Limitless rope supply aside, a real grappling hook just wouldn't work the way Rodriguez's does. Even if it could be launched from some sort of propulsion device, it's highly unlikely the hook would have anything to latch on to when fired at moving vehicles--it would just bounce off a car's chassis. In the small chance it did connect, you might as well say goodbye to your arm. And if you shot it at a human being? The unlucky sap might get a black eye or a crushed nose, but it would pretty difficult to tether the victim to much of anything without resorting to a good ol' fashioned hog tie.
Clouds (Mario Bros. series)
The Mushroom Kingdom is a curious place--a land where otherwise impossible feats are commonplace. We've already covered the impractical application of pipe travel in the real world, but there's another mode of transportation that we can't quite fathom: cloud riding.
Lakitus are famous for their mobile cloud companions, upon which they fly through the air like Aladdin on his wonderful magic carpet. But a carpet is a tangible thing; clouds are merely water droplets and gases hanging out in the atmosphere. You could ride a cloud as much as you could ride a fart--which is to say, you can't, so don't try.
Skyrails (BioShock Infinite)
We get that sky-hooks have some mega powerful magnets in them, which would theoretically let you hop off a floating fortress city and grab on to the nearest rail like it's no big deal. But if a sky-hook's magnets are strong enough to pull you to a rail, you'd still have to launch yourself within a certain range for that to happen. That's a tall order for a species that can't even safely board a stopped train without falling into the tracks every now and then.
Another thing: If the magnets are that powerful, how the hell does the sky-hook even move on the rail? Assuming there was some way for it to do so without a reverse in polarity (which, consequently, would be powerful enough to launch you to your death), you'd still have to be physically strong enough to hold on to the sky-hook while sliding around at blistering speeds; that thing isn't exactly bolted to your arm. Assuming all that goes well, there's still collisions and other accidents to consider, not to mention that sky-hooks would probably tear guns from people's hands and the fillings from children's rotten teeth.
Stars (Kirby series)
Those stars might look cute and cuddly, but attempting to even get close to one would mean certain death, even for Kirby. The thing about stars is they're kind of hot. Like, millions-of-degrees hot. Try to set foot on one and you'll melt into nothingness.
But let's say that you could get on a star without instantly incinerating. First of all, those things are typically pretty giant; you wouldn't just gently hug the thing and hop off at your leisure, because gravity. Nor is it possible to command a star to move. We're talking about giant balls of plasma, here--there is no magical control center awaiting your input.
Go-karts (Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing)
Yes, Go-karts are perfectly acceptable vehicles for getting around--but not when Sonic the Hedgehog is driving them. Why does he even need to? At most, they go, like, 40-50 miles per hour. He's the fastest thing alive, so he ought to be able to outrun a tiny recreational car.
Sonic riding a car would be like Superman flying in a plane. Sure, he needs to keep up the guise of reporter and everyman Clark Kent, but Sonic doesn't have that excuse. He has no secret identity to protect--he could just get out of his dumb car and run laps around the other suckers. But no, apparently Sonic would rather burn fossil fuels, ruining the environment instead of just jogging for a few minutes.