This is a total rip-off of Roger Ebert's Glossary of Movie Terms, but I thought it would be fun to do something like that for video games. Uncredited entries are mine. For the others, I've given credit to those who submitted them.
Aeris Death - When a main character is unceremoniously killed, completely out of nowhere, in a scene with no suspense leading up to it. (Ex: Aeris in FF7; Foster in Ninja Gaiden 3)
Alien Rule, The - All sci-fi games must have at least one enemy that resembles H.R. Giger's Alien. (Pero the Cat)
Almost There Regression - When you're so very close to completing a very difficult part, but you just barely blow it, you will have to try again many, many times before you even get that close again. When you do get to that point, you will most likely win, but there is a chance that you could lose again, and so, it starts all over again. (Sotenga)
Armageddon Rock - A very large object that is going to crash into the planet and destroy it. (Ex: Naju in The Guardian Legend; the meteor in Final Fantasy 7; the moon in Majora's Mask)
Barrel-Rolling Car, The - Whenever a car in a driving game hits an object on the side of the road, it will roll over several times, sometimes on the ground, but preferably in the air.
Battle of Attrition - A battle in which it's virtually impossible to avoid being hit, and your opponent can take a lot of damage. However, you can absorb a lot of damage as well, and you eventually win the battle by outlasting your enemy. An example would be the Kraid fight in Metroid. (Crawl and 1000)
Beginner's Luck Phenomenon - In any given RPG, the place where the hero starts out will always be infested with the weakest possible monsters. (Oxnard Hamster)
Blinking Body, The - Whenever a character dies, his/her body flashes several times and then disappears. In recent years with modern games, they slowly fade away instead. In either case, no physical body can ever be left behind.
Blonde in a Red Dress, The - A high percentage of women kidnapped by gangs in beat-em-ups are blondes in red dresses. What's up with gang members and their obsession with blondes in red? (Ex: Double Dragon, Final Fight, Bayou Billy, Silent Dragon, Riot City) (Johnny Undaunted and Prime Op) See Prime Op's Minus World for more about this one.
Boss Only Stage - A stage that is just one huge boss battle. (Ex: R-type Stage 3, Contra: Shattered Soldier, Thunderforce 2, Alien Soldier, Giga Wing, and Giga Wing 2) (Sotenga)
Boss Rehash Stage - A stage at the end of a game that has you fight a series of bosses in a row that you'd beaten previously. (Ex: Seen in Gaiares, most Mega Man games, Astyanax, Bonk's Adventure, etc.) (Crawl and 1000)
Cameo and Reference Law, The - In just about any game, there will be a reference to another game made by the same company that made both games. For example, Konami has Moai Heads, first made famous in Gradius, in just about every game they made. See the Cameos Database. (Sotenga)
Character Alzheimer's (aka Mega Man Syndrome) - When characters forget skills or weapons they had in previous games. Why can't Mario breathe infinitely underwater in Super Mario 64 when he could in all the previous games? What happens to all of the weapons and items Link and Mega Man accumulate between games? (Deathamster)
Cinematic Lightning - Ligntning that only flashes behind castles, bosses, or during other cinema sequences to heighten the mood. It is never followed by an actual storm.
Circling Enemy Rule, The - Small round enemies (usually fuzzy or electric) that circle platforms are invincible. Metroid games are an exception to this. Some examples are Castlevania 3 and Super Mario World. (Magical Yard Gnome)
Crumbling Castle, The - If a castle is shown in a cinema scene, it will be shown falling apart in a cinema scene at the game's end. (Ex: Castlevania, Ninja Gaiden, Alundra, Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
Cyclops Law (aka The Elle Driver Rule) - Enemies that have one big eye are not vulnerable anywhere on their bodies except in the eye.
Dangerous Black Birds - If there's a black bird seen flying around, chances are that bird WILL attack you. (Ex: Battletoads, Friday the 13th, Wally Bear and the No Gang, Ninja Gaiden.) (BeamYosho)
Death Cheater - A character who cheats death by placing a copy of his personality into a robot or clone. (Ex: Belthasar in Chrono Trigger; Leonard in SaGa Frontier; Anubis in Metal Combat; Andross in the Star Fox comic.) (Troy Demetrius)
"Destroy the Core!" Rule, The - This applies especially to large spaceships, but is not exclusive them. If a boss has a part that might be interpreted as a "core", it can be destroyed only by attacking the core. The core will usually be protected by some kind of barrier, or will only appear momentarily. (Magical Yard Gnome)
Deus ex Han Solo - When characters are saved from certain doom out of nowhere by another character who had previously disappeared from the plot. (Ex: Dekar in Lufia 2, Samson in Arc the Lad 4) (Flying Omelette)
Diminished Power of Royalty - Just because you are a prince or princess, that doesn't necessarily mean you'll have power over anybody in your kingdom. (Ex: Marle in Chrono Trigger, Alex Kidd in High Tech World)
Doki Doki Panicked - When a game that already exists has its graphics and/or characters changed and is released as another game. (Ex: Doki Doki Panic/Super Mario Bros. 2; Wonder Boy/Adventure Island; Anmitsu Hime/Alex Kidd in High-Tech World; Sunday Funday/Menace Beach; Puyo Puyo/Kirby's Avalanche/Mean Bean Machine)
Door Maze aka Warp Maze - A maze that consists of a number of similar objects that act as warps between two points. Taking the wrong warp sends you back to an earlier part of or the beginning of the maze. (Ex: Castle of Odeals in Final Fantasy; Owzer's House in Final Fantasy 6; Blinder's Way in Knights of Justice; the mansion in Monster Party; the mirror maze in Gargoyle's Quest 2; the knight maze in Shadowgate 64; the door maze in Astyanax.)
Doppelganger - A boss in a game that is a clone or can make clones of the character(s) you play as. (Ex: the Shadow in Zelda 2; Dark Link in Ocarina of Time; Sage Joch's Test in Secret of Mana; the Mt. Ordeals "boss" in Final Fantasy 4; the final boss of Axelay; the Mega Man clones in MM1 and 3; the Shades boss in Koudelka; Belome in Super Mario RPG; the forest bridge boss in Secret of Evermore; the Ryu clone in Ninja Gaiden 3.)
Exploding Car, The - If a car appears in a point-and-click adventure game, sooner or later it will explode. (Ex: Deja Vu and Uninvited; The car in Maniac Mansion doesn't explode, but it can launch into space, causing roughly the same amount of damage around it as if it had exploded.)
Fake Bottomless Pit Rule, The - When a main character falls into a bottomless pit, he or she will simply reappear safely on land close to the pit with a minor loss of health. This is mostly only true of RPGs and Adventure games. (Oxnard Hamster)
False Game Over - If you engage a character in battle early in the game, who is to become a boss later, he is impossible to beat and you'll be wiped out. But instead of getting a "Game Over", you'll continue playing. Usually you'll be rescued by a tertiary character. When you engage the same character in the final battle of the game, despite how many monstrous forms he morphs into, he is now easy to beat. (Ex: Morag in Magi-Nation; Golbez in Final Fantasy 4; Lavos in Chrono Trigger, Gades in Lufia; Ashura in Skyblazer)
False God Syndrome - In most RPGs and the occasional other genre, there is a character striving to become a god or goddess. (Ex: Kefka in FF6; Zeal in Chrono Trigger; Zio in Phantasy Star IV; the Kaiser in Blasting Again) (Codie Martin)
Faraway Heroes Rule, The - Whenever a villain is threatening to conquer/destroy the world, the only person in the world capable of defeating said villain lives at the farthest away possible point in the world from the villain's lair. Never does the villain show up right where the hero lives. And never can he/she just go straight to where the villain lives. (This applies to all kinds of games, including RPGs, sidescrolling platformers, and shoot-em-ups.)
Flashing Body Part Rule, The - An enemy's weakest spot is the part that's flashing. (Pero the Cat)
Floating Island of Doom - When a floating island appears in the sky, it means the end of the world is near. (Ex: The tower in Crystalis; the Mana Fortress in Secret of Mana; the Fortress of Doom in the Lufia games; the Black Omen in Chrono Trigger; the floating continent in Final Fantasy 6) (Setzer the Great)
Flying Sphere-Dropper - An enemy in a game (usually a bird) that carries a rock, bomb, egg, or other heavy round object and drops it as it flies over you. (Ex: ActRaiser, Super Mario Bros. 2, Rygar, Mega Man 2, Rescue Rangers, Indiana Jones Greatest Adventures)
Gradius Syndrome - The phenomenon where it's very easy to play a game for a long time without dying, but if you ever do die, it becomes very easy to subsequently die repeatedly. This is usually because the death caused the loss of a vital power up. This phenomenon was originally known as Galaga Syndrome because of the effect that occured when you'd lose your double ship in that game. (Crawl and 1000)
"Guess Who?" Character - A main character in a game who later reveals him/herself to be another main character. (Ex: Sheik in Zelda 64; Mr. X in Mega Man 6; the "Red Mage" NPC in Final Fantasy Adventure; the Prophet in Chrono Trigger; the wizard in Mystaria; the raccoon in Link's Awakening; Magic of Scheherazade)
G-word Shooters - Although it's not a law that a shooter's title has to be a single word that begins with the letter "G", there sure are a lot of them. (Ex: Gradius, Gyruss, Galaga, Gaplus, Galaxian, Gunbird, Gun.smoke, Gun-Nac, Guardic, Gaiares, Gorf, Grindstormer, Granada, Gunhed)
Harbringer of Doom - An inanimate object that brings about doom and destruction if removed from its resting place. (Ex: The treasure the rat steals in Shining Force 2; the Mana Sword in Secret of Mana; the crystal ball the Dragonlord stole in Dragon Warrior; the Goddess Statues in Final Fantasy 6; the Sanakara stones in Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom) (Troy Demetrius)
Horrible Starter Pack Law, The - The place where the hero starts out will sell the most horrendous equipment imaginable. This is especially funny in games where the starting city is supposed to be one that's technologically advanced, like Corneria in Final Fantasy 1. (Oxnard Hamster)
Hylian Law of Imprisonment, The - When one breaks out of an enemy jail cell and is recaptured, the enemy will place you back in the same cell without batting an eye, as many times as is necessary until you make your actual escape. (Fenrir X)
"If You Build It, They Will Come" Rule, The - Whenever anything is under construction in a video game, it will be attacked or taken over by monsters. (Ex: The mine in Kartia; the Mana Fortress in Secret of Mana; the towns in ActRaiser; the construction sites in Donkey Kong; SimCity when Bowser comes)
Immortal Main Villain, The - The main villain in any given saga can't die and will always return in a sequel. (Oxnard Hamster)
Inevitable Doppelganger, The - When a crime is committed by a character who could not possibly have committed that crime, the culprit will turn out to be a doppelganger. (Ex: Ninja Gaiden 3, Mega Man 5, Mischief Makers, Chrono Trigger [chancellor], Robotrek [mayor], Albert Odyssey [Gryzz])
Inevitable Soccer Ball, The - Whenever there is an enemy/object that may be kicked or otherwise rendered airborne, then it will eventually be used as a soccer ball. (Ex: the ServBots from Mega Man 64, the koopa shells from Mario games) (Lord Draco3 and Darian Antilles)
Irritating Elf Rule, The - People with the word "Elf" (or a similar spelling) in their name tend to be very irritating. (Ex: Selphi from Azure Dreams, Selphie from Final Fantasy 8, Elfie from Blaster Master: Blasting Again) (Codie Martin)
Kabuki Curse, The - If a game has a kabuki character in it, it will most likely suck. (Only known exception: the Samurai Shodown games.)
Keep-Away - Character in a fighting game who plays "keep-away" by staying on the opposite end of the screen and shooting projectiles over and over again. (Deathamster)
Label Border Rule, The - Each video game company had some kind of border or background that is used on the sticker of almost every game they made for the NES. (Codie Martin)
Law of Ammunition Distribution, The - In any FPS game, if you are low on ammo, there is some around the floor in the next room. And if you are playing a multiplayer game, that ammo will always reappear for no reason other than to be collected again. (Mercury Crusader)
Law of Beat-em-ups, The - All street gangs are comprised of groups of individuals that all have the same names, dress the same way, have the same moves, and basically look and act exactly alike. Only the gang leaders are unique.
Law of Bosses, The - Usually, a boss is the only kind of that monster in the world. (Doveblob)
Law of Character Power, The - Whenever one of your characters turns against you, they are over 10 times stronger than when you had them. (Ex: Kain from FF4) (Lord Draco3)
Law of Clone Characters, The - In almost any game in which you can pick from a large number of different characters, there is usually at least one pair that are "clones", ie, identical in either abilities or similar in the way they look. This applies mostly to fighting games and racing games. (Kairobi King)
Law of Crazy Inventors, The - Inventors in video games are either evil or forced to work for evil.
Law of Cute Character, The - The cutest character, or otherwize smallest, is normally the most powerful if used properly. (Ex: Mog from FF6; Domingo from Shining Force) (Lord Draco3)
Law of Darkness, The - The evil side always has more things to play with, so to speak, than the good guys' side, yet the good guys always win because the evil side's AI is severly low, and can only win if they start out way higher than you, and I mean WAY higher (one mission in C&C where you start out horribly surrounded, and with no money at all, with only a stealth tank to get around in) or if you are the evil side. (Ex: C&C, Shining Force, and just about any game where you are horribly outnumbered/outclassed) (Lord Draco3)
Law of Disguises, The - If you put on any kind of disguise, no matter how ridiculous you may look, no one will be able to recognize you. (Ex: Mr. X in Mega Man 6; Mike Jones in StarTropics) (Pero the Cat)
Law of Divine Leadership, The - Whether you choose the "good guys" or the "bad guys", you will always be able to defeat your opponents with equal ease, and your opponents will be as dumb as rocks. (Ex: Most any game with multiple sides) (Mercury Crusader)
Law of Exploding Villain Domains, The - Defeating the final boss of a game will cause his castle/fortress/tower/planet to explode. (Ex: Way too many examples to count, but a few are Castlevania, the Mega Man games with Skull Castle, the Gradius games and various other shooters, Metroid.) (Doveblob)
Law of Fatalistic Inevitability, The - The hero has a finite amount of time to reach a particular point, or else he dies. For no particular reason but he took too long getting to that destination. (Loogaroo)
Law of Female Dancers, The - If an RPG has female characters, it is required that at least one of them be a dancer, even if it has no bearing on their personality or battle skills. (Ex: Albert Odyssey, Kartia, Final Fantasy 5)
Law of Female Pirates, The - A female pirate in an RPG must first be mistaken for a man. (Ex: Final Fantasy 5, Mystaria/Blazing Heroes.)
Law of Governmental Diversity, The - The government forms "The Republic" and "Democracy" are the same in most respects. The only difference between the two is that "The Republic" can go to war more easily and "Democracy" is immune to spies. Similarly, "Monarchy" and "Communism" are the same in most respects, except that "Communism" has spies and "Monarchy" doesn't. "Fundamentalism" is always the most powerful form of government. (Ex: Most turn-based stragety games) (Mercury Crusader)
Law of Gravitational Preference, The - If the hero can jump, they will usually jump up to and around three times their own height. Similarly, enemies that can jump will usually only jump equal to or half their own height. (Mercury Crusader)
Law of Inevitable Confrontation, The -
You must fight at some point a teammate/relative/yourself in order for you to gain a certain power, beat a certain enemy, or gain the specific character(Katt in BoF2, Cecil, Kain, and Golbez in FF4/2, Mizuki in Tenchi Muyo! RPG, Rola in Metal Combat [for the bad but quick ending], Bowser from Super Mario RPG, Gilgamesh from FF5, Shadow and Umaro in FF3/6, anyone in the Yu Yu Hakusho games [YYH, YYH2, YYH Tokobetheun, YYH Final], many people from Ogre Battle, and Tifa from Arcana.) (Lord Draco3)
Law of Military Strength, The - If your city is defended by three Phalanxes, statistically, they will be able to destroy a Battleship or Tank with no problem. Similarly, you can invade a city defended by Riflemen and Cannons with an Archer and a Chariot. (Ex: Civilization, Civilization III) (Mercury Crusader)
Law of Modern Sports Games, The - Modern sports games require the player to go through a huge manual. The game ends up being too confusing and complicated for anybody who doesn't actually play the sport regularly in real life. (Oxnard Hamster)
Law of Multiple Weapon Usage, The - No matter the situation, if you pick up a second copy of a weapon you have at your disposal, you will only get ammunition from it and nothing more. If you want to use two machine guns at a time, you will have to kill an enemy that has two machine guns, and pick them both up. (Ex: Goldeneye, Perfect Dark) (Mercury Crusader)
Law of Ninja-esque Agility, The - If the hero is a ninja and can jump, they will always do a flip, varying from one flip at the height of their jump or around twenty flips starting from where their feet stop touching the ground. (Ex: Ninja Gaiden) (Mercury Crusader)
Law of Not-So-Destructive Spells, The - Whenever a character does some special attack that normally would devastate the Earth or Universe, it
just does damage to an enemy and nothing outside the battle is touched. (CloudStrife0280)
Law of Nuclear Winter, The - No matter how many nuclear weapons you detonate, the blast won't be as large as you imagine, radioactivity will be minimal, and if the environment does suffer at all, it only turns tundras into grasslands and grasslands into swamps. (Ex: Command & Conquer series, Civilization series) (Mercury Crusader)
Law of Overconfident Commanders, The - In any RTS game, if you have just infiltrated enemy territory and are building a base in the middle of said territory, the enemy will know of your presence. Even though the enemy will have every super-weapon at his disposal such as a Nuclear Missile Silo or a Cyborg Commando and the most powerful tanks and infantry units in the game, they will only attack periodically with weak units and only use their most-powerful weapons to attack a not-so-vital structure such as a War Factory instead of a Construction Yard. And no matter how well their base seems defended, they always leave their power source horribly vulnerable and they will seldom repair injured units or damaged buildings. (Ex: Warcraft games, Command & Conquer games) (Mercury Crusader)
Law of Petrified Objects, The - You may be able to fell dragons, demons, and even mighty machines with your weaponry, but most other objects around you cannot be damaged at all, even in cases when trees and rocks block your path.
Law of Player Immortality, The - There's always an item that can bring your dead friends back to life, but for whatever reason only works on people the player can play as. (Ex: Final Fantasy 3/6 with General Leo) (Codie Martin/Lord Draco3)
Law of Power Balance, The - There is always a super powerful person who you will get to use/have help you but will eventually die before the end. (Ex: Zero from the MMX games; Leo from FF6; Buzz Buzz from Earthbound) (Lord Draco3)
Law of Princesses, The - Princesses exist only to be kidnapped by game villains.
Law of Protagonist Vulnerability, The - While the enemies of a video game typically can take insane amounts of damage, the hero can only take one. And while bosses often don't die unless they are hit with 1452 laser blasts from the hero, the hero dies if the enemies do so much as flick a booger onto him or his ship. (Loogaroo)
Law of RPG Endings, The - An RPG ending will typically show all the characters in their hometowns in reverse order of when they joined your party. (Troy Demetrius)
Law of Shoot-em-ups, The - Whenever earth is under attack by a large alien army, no more than one ship may counterattack. (Well, maybe two if there's a second player.) Never can an entire army defend the planet.
Law of Special Items, The - If there is an item where there are only a very few or one in the game, but is worthless to your mission, then that item may be sold for a ton of money, yet when there is something that is required for you to gain at one point, then there is no one that will buy it even after you have used it, or they will buy it for an insanely low price. (Ex: RuneScape) (Lord Draco3)
Law of Steel Skin, The - No matter how many times you get cut with a razor sharp sword or something else such as a monster, you will never actually get cut/cut anything, you will instead just lose health. (Ex: anything with swords, mainly Zelda series) (Lord Draco3)
Law of Supercomputers, The - Supercomputers, especially if they are built to control the world or the world's weapon supply, will always malfunction and try to take over and wipe out humanity. (Ex: Phantasy Star II, Silhouette Mirage, Power Blade, Chrono Trigger, Kabuki Quantum Fighter) (Codie Martin)
Law of the Mysterious Villain, The - Whenever a villain in a game has the perfect chance to kill the hero, but suddenly stops before doing so, and sometimes asks a question to the effect of, "Who are you?", that villain will turn out to be the hero's brother. (Ex: Golbez in Final Fantasy 4, the Sinistrals in Lufia, Proto Man in Mega Man 3, the shadow in Aidyn Chronicles)
Law of the Oversized Cranium, The - Large brains are always evil. The bigger they are, the more likely they are to try to conquer the universe. (Magnus Crowe)
Law of the RPG Hero, The - If you are the hero, you can never recruit a member of your team that looks exactly like you, even if you can recruit 3 of the same person if they are a different class. (Ex: Dragon Warrior 3) (Lord Draco3)
Law of the Series' Second, The - The second game in a series (usually on the NES) is completely different from any other game in the series. (Ex: Super Mario Bros. 2, Zelda 2, Castlevania 2, even to a certain extent Final Fantasy 2j because it's the only true FF game with its kind of stat-building).
Law of Tiny, The - Whenever somebody's name is "Tiny", they're actually rather large. (Ex: Clay Fighter, Tin Star, Secret of Evermore, Wrath of the Black Manta) (Codie Martin)
Law of Triplicate Livelihood, The - Carpe diem! You only live three times! (Loogaroo)
Law of Twin Heroes, The - In many games that can be played by two players, the heroes or spaceships are always indentical to each other except for palette swapped colors. (Ex. Super Mario Bros. 1, 3, and Super Mario World, the TMNT games, Little Ninja Brothers, Darius Twin.) This is true even in cases where the heroes are not related to each other (the Contra games), or when the spaceships have been built by different people on two completely different planets (Life Force).
Law of Unfairness to the Hero's Graphics, The - In NES games that have well animated and drawn enemies, the hero is always either poorly drawn and well animated, or well drawn and poorly animated. (Codie Martin)
Law of Universal Possession, The - This is where two or more separate parties have universal access to the same collection of items, even over long distances. (Ex: FF6 and FF9 provide good examples of this). (Ragnorak-X)
Law of Villainous Complacency, The- The main villain will never set out to kill the hero as soon as possible. Rather, he will send out his weakest flunkies to attack the hero at the outset, increasing the toughness of his troops the closer the hero gets to the villain's hideout/fortress/whatever. (Loogaroo)
Laws Don't Apply Rule, The - Why is it that in practically every RPG/adventure game, the hero can go into any dungeon, house or shop and freely steal anything useful to the mission, unless it is clearly for sale, a piece of wall decor or something that someone REALLY CARES about? (There are rare exceptions, like in the original GB Zelda game or where getting caught moves the plot along.) (jup)
"Let There Be Light" Rule, The - Ever notice that in most RPG's/adventure games, no matter how old and abandoned a cave/dungeon might be, it tends to have candles/torches/lanterns going to supply light with. (Unless, the place was intended to be dark, in the first place.) It's one thing if intelligent life comes through on a regular basis. But, it doesn't fully make sense if the only thing that's been living down there for years are roaming monsters. (jup)
Life-Giving Dolls - If you ever come across a doll that looks like the game's main character, it's a one-up. (Ex: Bionic Commando, Strider) (Codie Martin)
Lizards in Disguise - If there's a human with the word "Dragon" or a word that looks like it in his or her name, their true form is a dragon. (Ex: Dragonlord, Draygonia) (Codie Martin)
Locked Door Law, The - Locked doors with no keys are either opened by:
A) Defeating all the enemies in the room, or
B) Placing a heavy object on a floor switch
C) Lighting all the torches in the room. (Thanks to James FP for this one.)
Lost Persons Rule, The - A lost character will always drop some personal belonging that either A) gives away the fact that he/she is missing and/or B) leads the hero to where he/she is. (Ex: Will finds Lance in Illusion of Gaia by following the trail of necklace stones; Celes discovers Locke is alive when she sees his bandana on a dove in FF6; Crono finds Marle's pendant after she disappears in the beginning of Chrono Trigger; Adol finds Robert's lost pendant in the mine in Ys 3.)
Lousy Space Ships - In shooting games where you must upgrade your car/ship along the way, the car/ship becomes useless if you die. (Codie Martin)
Lovers in Space - A game that ends with the hero and love interest saying their goodbyes while floating in space. (Ex: Illusion of Gaia, Ocarina of Time)
Magical Mirrors - Mirrors never appear in games unless they have some magical property. They are never used for grooming purposes. They are used to reveal someone's true form (Dragon Warrior 2 & 3); take you to another world (A Link to the Past); as a warp between two points (Gargoyle's Quest 2); to speak to ghosts (Breath of Fire); to hypnotize people (the "Wicked Mirror" spoken of in ActRaiser); to reflect someone's true feelings (Shadowgate 64 & Lufia 2); create illusions (Young Merlin); reflect light beams to solve a puzzle (SaGa Frontier & Ocarina of Time); or to create a boss from your reflection (Final Fantasy 4).
Magical Water - If you see a puddle of water in an area where there is no other water, drink from it because it'll heal all your wounds.
Mal-distribution of Heroes Phenomena, The - In most RPGs, castles and towns you come across will be crawling with soldiers and wizards, yet none of them seem to be helping out despite the fact it's common knowledge that a villain is at large who wishes to destroy the world or take it over. (Oxnard Hamster)
Metal Gear Plot - When a villain reveals that he/she's been helping you succeed in your quest all along because you were unknowingly helping him/her collect some object or complete some task. (Metal Gear; Metal Gear Solid; Legion in Shadow Man; Jade in Breath of Fire; Ganondorf in Zelda 64; Clancy in Ninja Gaiden 3)
Millennium Falcons - When you defeat a powerful being of evil, it won't die, it'll just go away, then come back in 100 or 1000 years. I guess evil just really loves the base ten number system. And the period of the earth's rotation around the sun. (Ex: Shining Force, Phantasy Star, Alundra, Castlevania, Arc the Lad) (Codie Martin & Crawl and 1000)
Mine Cart Rule, The - Whenever a hero enters a mine, he/she will escape by way of a mine cart. (Ex: Super Mario RPG, Alundra, Alundra 2, Donkey Kong Country, Indiana Jones)
Mono Weapon Effectiveness Rule, The - Sometimes, only one weapon is capable of hurting regular enemies or bosses. (Oxnard Hamster)
Mono Weapon Effectiveness Rule Antithesis: The Fallicy of the Mono Weapon - This is when you are told that only one weapon will destroy a boss, when in actuality, it may be perfectly vulnerable to other things.
Ex. 1: I once read that only Erdrick's Sword could beat the Dragon Lord in Dragon Warrior, but I beat him with the Flame Sword.
Ex. 2: The princess tells you that you can't beat Sardius without the Goddess bracelet in Super Ghouls n Ghosts, but if you use the stage select code to go right to Sardius, you can beat him with the lance.
Ex. 3: There's a boss in SaGa Frontier for which your entire quest revolves around gaining enough magic power to be able to defeat him. However, he is much easier to beat with strong physical attacks than any magic skill.
Ex. 4: To a lesser extent, this applies to Magus in Chrono Trigger. Although the Masamune certainly helps in the battle, he can be beaten without it.
Musical Doorway - A door or gate of some kind that can only be opened by playing a musical instrument nearby. Tons of games have something like this. Probably the most famous example was Captain Bell's organ in StarTropics. Koudelka, Alundra, and Chrono Trigger also had a part where playing an organ opened a door. In Link's Awakening, you played instruments to open the Wind Fish's egg. The ocarina on OOT also opened the way to Zora's Domain for you, as did the flute in Rygar open the way into Ligar's Castle. The Lute in Final Fantasy opened the path to the final area, and there were several parts in Illusion of Gaia where playing Will's flute revealed a passage.
Musical Treasures - Treasure chests that play a short, simple musical diddy when you open them, or items that do the same when you pick them up. (Ex: Zelda, Ys, Metroid, Lufia)
Myth of the Exploding Room, The - If a character sacrifices himself by entering a room that's going to explode, locks the door, and then doesn't exit, he will appear alive and well later on in the plot. (Ex: Yang in Final Fantasy 4; Dekar in Lufia 2)
Myth of the Inescapable Dungeon, The - When a hero is locked up in a dungeon or jail, he/she will inevitably escape by either finding a hole in the floor, wall, or a pipe, or by tricking the guards into opening the door. (Magnus Crowe)
Myth of the Most Powerful Enemy, The - This rule states that, no matter what the story or dialogue says, the main villain/final boss is not the strongest enemy in the world. Those little things that circle around platforms are.
Ninjas Falling From the Sky Game - A game in which ninjas (or other similar enemies) endlessly pour out of the sky. (Ex: Legend of Kage, Demon Sword, Fist of the North Star [NES])
No-Fault Death - No-fault deaths are when you, due to some aspect of a game, are killed without being able to avoid it. (Ex: In the first level of Ghosts 'n Goblins, those burrito ghosts sometimes materialize right on top of you.) (Facilitypro)
Not Knowing Your Own Strength Phenomenon - Especially for RPGs. Parties can beat up tough monsters who come in large groups, have high HP, strong spells, etc. etc., yet when lowly guards or whatever catches them, the party obliges meekly when they could likely take their captors out without even trying. (Oxnard Hamster)
Ocean Movie Game Seashell Law, The - Whenever there is a game based on a movie that takes place in the ocean, the goal of the game will be to collect seashells. (Ex: Jaws, Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid)
Opponent Car Invincibility Rule, The - In most driving games, if you touch another car, you go spinning out of control, while your opponent is perfectly fine, no matter from which direction you come at him. (Oxnard Hamster)
Optional Fight Law, The - Usually applying to RPGs, there is a boss somewhere (almost always close to the end of the game) that is ungodly strong. Sometimes, it is stronger than the final boss. If beaten, you get one or both of these things:
1. Bragging rights for all of eternity.
2. A very powerful item, usually the best of its kind.
This also describes certain fighting games. (Ex: Emerald & Ruby Weapon in FF7, Jinx in Super Mario RPG, Son of Sun in Chrono Trigger, Dario in Chrono Cross, Akuma in Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Kuroko in Samurai Showdown) (Sotenga)
Overlord Syndrome - When a game goes WAY overboard in trying to stack the odds against you, that it either becomes (at worst) unplayable (as in NES Overlord) or (at best) unbeatable (as in Atari 2600 Solaris). (Flying Omelette)
Pack Mule Rule, The - Your characters can carry an insane amount of equipment, which neither hinders their mobility nor their combat skills. (Oxnard Hamster)
Pac Man Attack - When you can see ahead of time you're about to be squished to death, but you're trapped or too slow or otherwise unable to evade death. Named after the hopeless situation in Pac Man when you're stuck in a tunnel and ghosts close in from both sides. Also appears in other games, such as space shooters - especially shooters where your ship is somewhat slow. (Crawl and 1000)
Parallomax Scrolling - When almost all of the bosses of a game are the exact same thing, maybe with one or two small alterations to them i.e. number of hits they need, one additional attack they have, or a pallete swap. The final boss is normally excluded from this. I called it that because it's like you're just "scrolling" the boss into different parts of the game, and I've complained about Lomax's bosses enough that it's what I think of when I hear "identical bosses". (Ex: Adventures of Lomax, Legendary Wings, Gradius, Super Mario Bros.) (Codie Martin)
Perpetual Polygonal Motion Law, The - This is the law that states that no polygonal person in a game can ever become completely motionless. Even when just standing around, he/she must bob up and down, sway back and forth, wave his/her weapon around, or otherwise act like he/she really needs to use the restroom.
Plot Alzheimer's - When characters in a plot, or the writing itself, forgets that certain events have already happened. (Ninja Gaiden 3 forgetting that Ryu already arrived at Castle Rock Fortress three times in a row; Lufia 2 forgetting all about the Sinistral leader Arek; the characters in Mystaria forgetting about the final boss they just beat and talking on and on about Lord Bane who they defeated several boss fights ago.)
Power to the Pyro Law, The - Fire is the most effective weapon, not guns, rockets, or grenades. (Ex: C&C series, and to some extent Shining Force, RuneScape) (Lord Draco3)
"Practice Makes Perfect" Rule, The - The longer your franchise exists, the more insanely powerful you become with your trademark abilities. In fact, if you exist REALLY long, you can jump to the top of a bell tower or run so fast you make cars flip over. (Ex: Sonic & Mario games) (Bomberguy221)
Propellor Rule, The - Anything that can be spun like a propellor will enable you to fly. (Ex: SMB3, DKC2) (Pero the Cat)
Pulling a Phantasy Star III - When a game spends a lot of time getting you to like one or more characters, then gets rid of them. They are usually replaced by people who have no personality, or so little personality you're not willing to try to like them because you're still angry with the game for killing off the guy you really liked. This usually leaves a bad taste in the player's mouth. (Ex: Phantasy Star III, Dragon Valor, Lufia 2) (Codie Martin)
Pulling a Half-Phantasy Star III - Like Pulling a Phantasy Star III, but the new guy(s) have personality, the old guy(s) come back, you weren't meant to get attached to the characters in the first place, or a mix of these. Usually doesn't leave too bad a taste in the player's mouth. (Ex: Fire Emblem, Eternal Darkness) (Codie Martin)
Punch-Out!! Syndrome: When the final boss of a game is clearly several times harder than any other part of the game. (Facilitypro)
Push-Away - A boss that can only be defeated by pushing it backwards off the edge of something, sometimes into a pit or a pool of lava or water. (Ex: Yoshi's Island, DKC3, StarTropics, and Super Metroid all have such bosses.) (Deathamster)
Record of Lodoss War Syndrome - When your character can be knocked down by the enemy, and upon immediately getting back onto his/her feet, can be knocked right back down again by the enemy. And there is nothing you can do to prevent it. This entry was named after the Dreamcast game, Record of Lodoss War, in which this is a major problem. It's also prevalent in some other games, such as Ballz.
Repeating Room Maze - A maze formed by one room (with multiple exits) repeating over and over indefinitely, unless you go through the exits in the proper order. (Ex: the Lost Woods in The Legend of Zelda, or the mazes in Metal Gear) (Crawl and 1000)
Revenge Syndrome, The - In many fighting games, at least one fighter wants revenge against the final boss for the death of a friend or family member. (Magnus Crowe)
RPG Battle Music Curse, The - Generally speaking, the battle music in RPGs tends to be one of the weakest, or worst, in the game. Examples: Earthbound, Final Fantasy 6, Breath of Fire, SaGa Frontier, Chrono Trigger, Super Mario RPG. (Note that this does not apply to boss battles).
RPG Protagonist's Weapon Rule, The - Any main character of an RPG with any medieval element in it HAS to wield a sword. This main character is unable to use ANY OTHER weapon but the damn sword. While it's possible that he/she can pick up other weapons as well, the most that could be allowed are blade-types, like knives and daggers. Under no circumstances should a hero be wielding a blunt weapon (staff) or a projectile weapon (crossbow, gun) as his/her main weapon, although they can be used as desperation moves/limit breaks/aura breaks/skills, etc. (Ultimate Chicken)
R-Type Curse, The - The probability of a person experiencing a game in the R-Type series is inversely proportional to how good it is. Probably the two most common (and commonly played) R-Type games are Super R-Type and R-Type DX...and they're also the worst. For whatever reasons (a lower price tag and perhaps even its feature on a demo disk could have contributed), it even seems as though more people have experienced R-Type Final than R-Types or R-Type Delta. (Crawl and 1000)
Rule of Kings, The - There are many, many kings in the world, but very few queens. And when you find one, chances are, she's evil. (Pero the Cat)
Rule of Precognition, The - Any visions seen in crystal balls or precognitive dreams will eventually come true.
Rule of Red, The - An enemy that's very close to being defeated will turn red. (Pero the Cat)
Ryu Rule, The - In games associated with karate, ninjas, or dragons, there is always a character named Ryu (Ex: Street Fighter, Little Ninja Brothers, Breath of Fire, Ninja Gaiden). (Troy Demetrius)
Scooby Doo Law, The - Similar to Roger Ebert's "Law of Economy of Characters", this is when final boss of the game is not the character who has been the main villain for the entire rest of the game, but is instead, either a character who only had minor appearances in the game before, or a boss who comes completely out of nowhere. This law was named after Scooby Doo, in which the culprit was always the guy who had less than a minute of screen time, rather than the character(s) you'd suspect the most. (Ex: Ninja Gaiden 3, Mystaria/Blazing Heroes, Final Fantasy 9)
Seasonal Forest - A forest in which you can experience spring, summer, fall, and winter by visiting different sections of it. (Ex: Secret of Mana; Banjo-Kazooie; possibly the ending of Mega Man 2 fits this description.)
Second Law of Player Immortality, The - Player characters can only be killed for good by a certain enemy. (Ex: Final Fantasy VII, Phantasy Star II) (Codie Martin)
Self-Sacrificing Robot - When a robot (usually a very large one) sacrifices himself because he no longer wants to be used by humans to perform "evil deeds". (Ex: The Stone Robot in Breath of Fire; The secret optional boss in Albert Odyssey; The Terminator in Terminator 2)
Serpentine Rule, The - Serpentine enemies, be they snakes, dragons, worms, etc., can only be harmed by attacking their heads. On rare occasions, they will be vulnerable only at the tips of their tails. (Magical Yard Gnome)
Shadowgate Effect, The - Challenging games can become easier with practice (or, in the case of mysteries, once you know their solutions). The Shadowgate Effect is that a once-challenging game is still more satisfying on replays than an easy game is when played for the first time, even if they now take roughly equal amounts of additional effort, perhaps because the once-challenging game reminds you of your earlier trials and successes with it. (Crawl and 1000)
Shooter Boxart Law, The - Space Shooters, particularly from the 8-bit and 16-bit era, often have things pictured on their boxart that do not actually appear in the game. Some examples: The weird caped robot with detached metal hands on Zanac's cover; the giant alien on Super R-Type's boxart; the old man on the SNES Phalanx boxart; the X-Wing on the HyperZone boxart (no ship in the game looks like that); the spaceship on Bio Hazard Battle (the "ships" in the game are actually insects); both the ship and the alien on SNES R-Type 3's boxart.
Sidequest Rule, The - No matter how many monsters are about to attack you, destroy your ship, etc., there is ALWAYS time to do as many side-quests as you wish, or just run away and linger about. (Lord Draco3)
Silent Hero Rule, The - The law that states that the main hero character of a game is the one with the least personality (usually applies even in cases where the hero is not silent.)
Skull on the Map Rule, The - Whenever the final level of a game is marked by a skull on a map, it's not the final level. (Ex: Mega Man 2, 3, 4, etc.)
Small World Rule, The - In adventures and RPGs, only a small fraction of the world is accessible at the start. Something will always impede your progression into other areas of the world until you complete a quest. (Ex: Final Fantasy 1's lack of a bridge to the mainland, the guards in the beginning of A Link to the Past) (Oxnard Hamster)
Snow Goons Principle - This is when a character in a game learns a lesson or moral that is inapplicable in real life. For example, Dreamcast Record of Lodoss War's moral that men shouldn't interfere with evil goddesses. Or any plotline that involves becoming one with the forest, or animals, or plant life, a sword, a spirit, or giant mechs, etc. (Ex: Jade Cocoon). (This entry was named after a Calvin & Hobbes comic strip.)
Sporadic Threshold of Pain Rule, The - Especially during RPGs. A given character can be beaten up by monsters twice his or her size, have huge nuke spells cast on him or her, yet later, something in the story will kill or seriously injure him or her that is nowhere near as powerful as stuff he or she has withstood during regular battles. (Oxnard Hamster)
Stage Three Law, The - In a game that goes by stages, the first two levels can be handled well by most gamers. Stage three is where the difficulty takes a turn for the worse, and novices to the game will have lots of trouble getting through it. Every stage after three will be varied in difficulty. (Sotenga)
Star Wars Episode 1 Plot Twist - When a prequel's story tries way too hard to explain or connect people, things, and/or events in its predecessor's story. The only game example I can think of at the moment is Lufia 2, in its efforts to explain things like the Hope Ruby and Priphea Flowers.
Suicidal Invulnerability - An enemy might be covered with an impenetrable outer shell, and can only be hurt when it opens part of it. If the enemy wouldn't open it, it couldn't be killed, but it will open it so you can blast and kill it. (Ex: Star Fox 64) (Crawl and 1000)
Switched at Birth Law, The - If you try to come up with an original-looking character, there's always a look-a-like somewhere out there (just go to Switched at Birth). (Codie Martin)
Talking Hero, The - Although your hero can never say words other than "...", or "!!!" or the occasional "yes" and no", if there is a sequel where that hero is no longer the main character, they talk quite often. (Ex: Isacc from Golden Sun) (Lord Draco3)
The 255 Law - The law where the maximum crap you can hold is 255 (especially NES). (Red Clawbot)
"Timing is Everything" Rule, The - Whenever your party is perfectly positioned for disaster to strike, THAT IS WHEN whatever it is (boulder/book/brick/door/whatever) decides to fall or occur. (Ex: Disaster Report is an extreme violator of this one.) (jup)
Top 5 Rules of Wise Old Men:
1. They already seem to know exactly what it is that you're trying to do, and will give cryptic clues on how to do it.
2. They talk like Yoda.
3. They are the most powerful magic users
4. They live in caves, mountains, and other hard-to-reach places, and seem to have no problems living there, despite that the youthful strong hero has to defeat a bunch of monsters, elude traps, make daring jumps, and/or solve puzzles to get there.
5. They will give you some item or weapon vital to your quest.
Translation Rule, The - In any game translated from Japanese to English, there is always at least one part of the dialogue that doesn't make any sense. (Pero the Cat)
Trap A, Trap B Syndrome - When a specific part of a game is designed so that getting hit by "Trap A" makes you fall into "Trap B". An example: Getting hit by an enemy makes you fall onto a bed of spikes. (Inspired by a post made about ActRaiser 2 by jup a long time ago.)
Underused RPG Music Syndrome - Some RPGs have a lot more music than you might think they do after having played through them once, because much of the music is only used in one part of the game. For the rest of the game, you hear one dungeon and/or battle theme repeated all the time, or there is a majority of areas that use only ambient sound effects. The two major offenders of this I can think of are SaGa Frontier and Secret of Evermore. Both of these games have A LOT of music programmed into them, but many of the pieces are only heard once. In SaGa Frontier, you mostly hear the battle theme and dungeon theme everywhere, while the other songs are used for specific events and places. Secret of Evermore has the same problem, except that instead of repeating a dungeon theme, most major areas only use sound effects for background.
Unicron Wannabe - A large alien monster that feeds on and consumes entire worlds. (Ex: Zelos in Life Force; Parasitis in Abadox; Lavos in Chrono Trigger)
Up the Anté! - When something tragic happens near the end of the game to make the threat of the villain(s) seem greater, and the quest to destroy him/her/it all the more important. (Ex: Onett's invasion near the end of Earthbound, the appearance of the Mana Fortress near the end of Secret of Mana, the Meteor in Final Fantasy 7, the fate of the Baby Metroid in Super Metroid)
Village Idiot - There is always some moron who has absolutely NO reason to be there other than to be stupid, and does not progress the storyline whatsoever. (Ex: the man who thinks Alaron is a monster in Aidyn Chronicles, too many in Earthbound, the guard protecting the high magus's room in Shining Force, etc.) (Lord Draco3)
Villain's Cape, The - When there is a climactic face-off between the main hero and the main villain of a story, the villain will remove and toss aside a cape. (See M. Bison in Street Fighter 2). Sometimes, this cliche is so predominant that it happens in situations where the villain wasn't even wearing a cape in the previous cutscene (the Imperator in Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller).
Wall Boss - A large, stationary boss that forms a wall on one side of the screen. (Ex: Doom's Wall in Secret of Mana; Rafflasher in ActRaiser; EvilWall in FF4; the Gradius games and other shooters have various wall bosses.)
Walk-Through Wall Puzzle - A wall which appears to be solid, but you can (and often must, to beat the game or get something important) walk through it. (Ex: Seen in Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest, Donkey Kong Country 2, the second quest of The Legend of Zelda) (Crawl and 1000)
Warehouse Syndrome - Games, usually 3D or first-person games, that take place almost entirely inside nondescript buildings with repeating wall textures. (Vampyrus)
Watched Pot Rule, The - Any game where you can, for a significant amount of time, take your eyes off the screen or otherwise not pay attention, with no adverse effects, while the game is being played (as opposed to, for example, if the game is at a menu screen) is de facto not a good game. The greater the accumulated time that can be spent not paying attention, the worse the game is. (Ex: Lunar or SimCity) (Crawl and 1000)
Waterfall Rule, The - Whenever there's a waterfall in a videogame, something is always hidden behind it.
Wizard of Oz Syndrome - When the hero of a game is somehow sent to a mysterious new world, and despite that it's a world full of wonders, ripe for exploration, where you can learn magic spells and weapon skills, find valuable treasures, and you become powerful enough to slay godlike beings so you could practically rule the world, yourself, and it would be a news story worthy of the Pulitzer Prize, the only thing on the hero's mind is finding a way back home. (Ex.: Secret of Evermore, Magi-Nation)