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A kind of Broken Bridge.
Deserts in video games are a hassle. Not only are these places dangerous and full of Random Encounters, they are also difficult if not impossible to enter without the right accessory, artifact or skill. Be it glasses against the sand, a map to avoid getting lost, seven league boots to walk on quicksand, you'll never be able to "just" enter the desert.
Anime & Manga
- In the virtual-reality RPG arc of the Yu-Gi-Oh anime, the heroes had to find a Niwatori card that would allow them to pass through the desert. A card that, in the actual card game, is one of many mediocre Com Mons.
- In Talisman, a character will lose a life (leading to death if they are on their last life) whenever landing in a desert square, unless they have the water bottle, Holy Grail, or Profane Relic objects.
- In The Sandman, travellers lost in sandstorms sometimes end up in the Shifting Places, a seemingly infinite desert region of the Dreaming in which past, present and future overlap. The only way to get out and return to the waking world is for the titular character to intervene magically.
- Invoked in Lawrence of Arabia with the Nefud. "It cannot be crossed!" Yes, it can.
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has a deadly desert that turn everything it touches into sand, making it effectively impossible to enter without some trick (e.g., a infinite carpet).
- The desert between the nations of Ephebe and Omnia in Small Gods was widely believed to be impassable for an army. Unfortunately the book's Big Bad was enough of a Diabolical Mastermind to figure out how to do it: the Omnian army sends a detachment out into the desert, they march as far as they can, leave a cache of supplies, then turn back. The next detachment does the same, using the supplies left to go further, then turn back while also leaving supplies. Do it enough times (and sacrifice enough of your own men along the way) and a small army can in fact cross the desert.
- Dune features an entire planet that's an impassable desert. People are forced to inhabit only a few cities and crossing the desert without stillsuits and thumpers (to confuse the ginormous sandworms) will be certain death. Even the Fremen can't cross without stillsuits though they've learned to manage without thumpers.
- Breath of Fire III has the aptly-named 'Desert of Death'. It's made even more annoying by a translation error in the directions for crossing it. There's also one in Breath of Fire IV, but it's not quite as irritating.
- In the original Breath of Fire I, the desert region can only be entered when you have a (very expensive) item in your inventory.
- In Dune, you have to get a special suit to avoid dehydration.
- In the first God of War game, you couldn't get through the Desert of Lost Souls until you'd tracked down and murdered all of the Desert Sirens. Fortunately, it's a really tiny desert.
- In Golden Sun, the desert will make you overheat and lose HP (represented by a bar which fills with every step you take, and the odd complaint from party members). You need to use Reveal to see hidden oases so you can cool yourself off.
- A later desert in the same game doesn't have a heat meter, but it does have tornadoes that will fling you back to the start unless you use the right spell to get rid of them.
- In Half Minute Hero, you have to follow a pattern of the cacti to get through a desert that will, otherwise, spit you back out near a town. For a game with an insanely small time limit, this is infuriating occasionally.
- In the first Kingdom Hearts game, You can't pass through the desert in Agrabah without first freeing carpet from Aladin's house.
- In King's Quest III, Gwydion cannot enter the desert without defeating Medusa, which requires using the right item.
- Patapon: You can't cross the desert without the rain juju, because just walking on the ground hurts your patapons.
- In Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, the desert is impassible (because of a perpetual sandstorm) until your character's friend gives you a pair of "go-goggles". Even then, any battles you have will take place in a sandstorm which damages your non-rock/earth based pokemon.
- In Quest for Glory II, you were heavily advised to purchase a Saurus before entering the desert, because you could command the Saurus to "go home" and it would return you to the city. You could still traverse the desert alone if you wanted, but with no map to chart your location with it was up to you to remember where the town was; forget, and you could become permanently lost as the desert extended infinitely with no landmarks to guide you. If you stubbornly refuse to buy the Saurus when the saurus salesman shows up, the game drops a bridge on you.
- The game actually averts this; you can get to Raseir before the caravan departs near the end of the game, if you know where to go and have all the gear you need (the Saurus, plenty of food and water). However, you aren't allowed to enter the town yet so while you can do it, there's no reason to do so; it's mostly just The Dev Team Thinking of Everything.
- In Star Ocean Till the End of Time, crossing the Mosel Dunes requires the player to jump between several distantly separated oases. This is represented as a water-filled meter on the side of the screen. There's a chest containing a key item called the Aqua Veil that let's the player cross the desert without the threat of dehydration.
- In The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, you need several items to successfully cross the Haunted Wasteland (the Longshot or Hover Boots, and the Lens of Truth).
- In Super Robot Wars: OG Saga: Endless Frontier, the only way to pass the desert is by a giant cat-shaped tank that carries a city.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, one of the three areas of the Dune Sea on Tatooine requires a map to enter, presumably to avoid getting lost. However, once you enter the area, it has the same boundary-marker posts as the other two areas...
- The Desolation in Guild Wars Nightfall feature sulfuric sand that gives off fumes toxic to any living, non-demonic creature that tries to pass. The way to successfully pass is to tame the undead junundu wurms and have them swallow you.
- Dragon Quest IV: The desert is surrounded by a mountain range, leaving an inn as a choke point. You can't cross until you obtain a wagon.
- In Wasteland, the map edges are described as endless desert reaching as far as the eye can see. The in-map deserts require a canteen or your player will take heat damage, but this isn't a problem because everyone starts with a canteen.
- You can't cross the snow plains in Final Fantasy II until you recruit Josef and acquire his snowmobile. Not a desert, but the same principle.
- The Desert of Shifting Sands in Final Fantasy V can't be passed until the party learns of and defeats the sandworm in the area (which somehow makes linear paths through the moving sand).
- Nie R features a desert that is mostly safe to traverse (save for the random monster attacks). Unfortunately, the portion of the desert that contains the local dungeon holds to this trope. You need a local guide to lead you to the dungeon's entrance, though you can eventually earn the power to cross on your own to perform sidequests there.
- Tales of Vesperia has one you can't enter before receiving canteens. You then have to constantly collect water from cacti to avoid death as you cross it. But after you cross it once, you can then cross it again freely with no requirements.