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A Sub-Trope of Guide Dang It, where the game itself - through NPC advice, tutorials, in-game hints, etc. - tells you how to proceed, but their advice is either substandard (better ways are available at that point) or an outright lie (and not for plot based reasons, either). This is often due to a bad translating job, or faulty programming, where what the developers intended doesn't line up with what is actually said. Sometimes the lies are meant to invoke Artificial Difficulty and sometimes They Just Didn't Care.

See also The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard, Moon Logic Puzzle (where the answers are there, but the logic isn't). For a similar trope in other media, see Unreliable Narrator.

Examples of The Computer Is a Lying Bastard include:


  • This is actually a very common thing for most online games and MMOGs. Because the games are updated and the Metagame changes, the manual and most tutorials are not. So as a result, people who don't know jargon (which is rarely defined) or common tactics people nicknamed are left confused, and in a few games, the players respond to these by cussing the players into oblivion or vote-kicking them from the game. Part of the difficulty curve is simply learning things that the game cannot tell them about.
    • This was especially bad about games centered around exploiting glitches or shortcomings in the game engine.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, first-time players could find the first boss to be difficult as hell, because Barret's message "Attack while its tail's up [and] it'll counterattack with its laser!" was split into two dialogue boxes with "and" omitted because the in-battle boxes have fairly limited space. This meant that players saw "Attack while its tail's up" for several seconds before seeing "it'll counterattack with its laser!". Since they already had "attack while tail is up" in their minds, many people interpreted it as "attack while its tail's up or else it'll counterattack with its laser", the exact opposite of the intended message.
  • In the computer game Yukon Trail, the woman who runs the plate-shooting game promises to reveal the secret location of a buried "river of gold" if you win. Too bad the location she tells you isn't any better than the location your partner suggests.
    • Because a dubious woman running a plate-shooting game rather than claiming the "river of gold" she supposedly knows about is a totally reliable source. Perhaps the lesson is "Don't believe everything you hear?"
  • In Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, many NPC hints about obtaining important items were misleading or incorrect. As a Hand Wave, game manuals warned that some NPCs would try to "mislead" or "deceive" the player, requiring the player to determine (sometimes experimentally) which clues could or could not be trusted (some weren't possible to even follow in-game!). Hilariously in a schadenfreude kind of way, for a long, long time people assumed the "hints" were the product of a poor translation, due to translation standards of the time. Many years later, it turned out that, no, the Japanese version was just as incomprehensible.
  • In Viva Pinata, many of the things Leafos says when selected are false (e.g. the way she claims certain piñatas transform is impossible), and some of the things she decries as ridiculous are true (you can, in fact, have a four-headed Syrupent after the two-headed version).
  • Accidental example: the original Pokémon games you are told more than once that the Psychic type was weak against Ghost; in practice, it was actually immune to Ghosts due to a programming oversight that was fixed in the next versions. Nonetheless, Yellow version abridged an instance of somebody saying that Psychics feared only bugs and ghosts to only include bugs. (Of course, it's not like you'd even try to use Ghosts against Psychic types anyways; the only ghost move that deals damage that isn't fixed is too weak to use.)
    • Because of a mistake in the game text, a man in the Great Marsh in Diamond and Pearl says that throwing bait and mud do the exact same thing. This was fixed in Platinum.
  • In Super Mario Bros 3, one of the "letters from the Princess" tells you that there is a warp whistle hidden to the right in World 3. In fact, there is a warp whistle hidden to the right in level 3, World 1. There is no warp whistle in World 3. This eventually got fixed in Super Mario Advance 4, where she said it was hidden behind the third level, not that this would help you find it.
  • E.V.O. Search for Eden: At the beginning, one of the rules given is don't head back, only go forward. However, you need to go back in evolution if you temporarily want a viable form to more quickly gain EVO (i.e. your Evo points are stored in a Bag of Spilling if you change from a Fish -> Amphibian -> Reptile -> Bird -> Mammal), and you may have to go to earlier stages/sections if you need to harvest EVO points.
  • Breath of Fire 3: A segment of the game sees the protagonists making a multi-day trek through a huge desert, with only the stars available as a navigation aid. If you get hopelessly lost and/or run out of water, you need to restart from the beginning of the segment. Problem is, one NPC says you need to head east at one part, but a paper stored in your tent says you should head west. East is the correct way, but try remembering that if you save in the desert, stop playing for a while, then come back and look to the paper for guidance[1].
  • The text you get in the Pleasure Dome ending of Total Carnage implies there is one last secret ending if you collect every items to be found in the Pleasure Dome. However, someone scanned the game's file and it turns out there are no additional endings, it's just a lie to get obsessive players to spend a few more quarters.
  • Zigzagged in Nethack. Eating a fortune cookie will give you a hint. The hints come from two files, rumors.tru, containing such Infallible Babble as "Kill a unicorn of your color and you kill your luck," and rumors.fal, containing such lies as "A cockatrice corpse is guaranteed to be untainted!" as well as completely useless (but entertaining!) junk like "So when I die, the first thing I will see in heaven is a score list?". Protip: blessed cookies draw only from rumors.tru.
  • The The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy Interactive Fiction game. As DNA himself puts it, this is "the first game to move beyond being 'user friendly'"... "It's actually 'user insulting' and because it lies to you as well it's also 'user mendacious,'"
  • In the DS remake of Final Fantasy IV, when facing the CPU boss, Fusoya tells you to attack the defense node first instead of the attack node (but not both, or else the main CPU will spam a strong attack and then regenerate the nodes). That was fine and dandy on the original version, where the defense node healed the CPU by a lot and the attack node had weak offense, but in the DS, it's the other way around, the defense node gives crap healing instead and the attack node obliterates you, so you need to go for the attack node instead. The line should have been changed (That, or they did left it on purpose to screw players of the original version).
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: "Higher willpower allows you to defend against magical attacks."
  • With one exception, every time X3: Terran Conflict tells you you need to board a ship with marines during a plot mission, it's lying. The first boarding target will be given to you for free if you wait a while, the second one will get boarded by NPCs if you wait a while and the third time you can just eject in your spacesuit and claim the target like an abandoned ship. This is significant, as training marines to the point where they could actually capture anything is a very expensive and time-consuming process, far beyond the scope of anything in the campaign missions.
    • The one exception is the Orca you have to capture during the HQ plot. That one actually does require you to board it.
  • The loading screen in Divine Divinity shows various tips and advice for the game, some of which are blatant lies. For example, one says you should kill Otho's pigs since he likes that - Otho will kill you if you do that! Humorously, one of the tips you can see is "Don't trust everything you read"...
  • In Star Control II, Admiral Zex informs you that you can find a powerful beast in a constellation which translates as, ""the long, thin creature who has swallowed the huge beast." Serpens, the serpent? Draco, the dragon? Why no -- it's Lynx! Surely you can see the long thin creature who has swallowed the huge beast at the top-center of the map, right?
    • This is actually a reference to one of the Feelies that came with the original game. Now that it's a freeware game downloaded over the internet, you just have to rely on FAQs.
  • Depict 1 takes this trope and runs with it. Most of what is said to the player is outright lies.
  • The first Gear boss in Xenogears tends to become a That One Boss to some people because of this: right before you fight it, you're given an option to upgrade your Gears for the first time, which is mandatory to do throughout the game since for the most part their stats aren't dependent on your level. However, since the maximum Fuel for the default parts and only upgrade the game offers you at this point are the same, the game will give you a pop-up message about the new parts being equal or worse than the ones you already have, even though the apparently minuscule increase of Attack they provide actually ends up increasing the Gears' damage by a lot at this point of the game: without the upgrades, you'll be lucky to be doing 2 digit damage to the boss, who has around 1500 HP and you have no means to heal your Gears this early in the game.
  • When taking Katie Zhan out driving in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, she will constantly urge the player to go faster, despite the fact that her happiness meter will rapidly decrease if the player exceeds a relatively low speed.
  • In-universe in Sonic Adventure 2 where the Hint System consists of actual computers; and in Mad Space they are likely to be this. Even then, the hints on some of the Emeralds are completely irrelevant to their actual locations.
  • In the H-game The Sagara Family, the dialog trees to gain the affections of the various girls is pretty straightforward. With the exception of the mother, Maria. She blatantly and repeatedly tells you that she likes manly men who refuse to help with housework. This is a lie and if you follow this advice (refuse to help her when she asks), it's a Bad Ending for you.
    • I always took this as her being too proud to ask for help, and her denying her own feelings for the player......
  • In Recettear, the price ranges suggested by your loan officer partner are too high to be properly strategic. Whether this is simply poor advice informed by the experiences of a loan shark who's never tried lowering prices before, or deliberate bad advice from the game designers overriding her sensible characterization to force player creativity/frustration? You be the judge.
    • While Tears advice is useful for obtaining the most money from a sold item (or paying as little as possible for a purchased item), Recette and the shoppers gain more experience for deals that are lower than the most they'll pay. For example, you might be able to sell an item for 120% it's base cost, but selling it for 107% will net bonus XP for the player and the customer. For the player, this means a number of useful new options. For the customer, this means they'll have more money, and thus be able to make bigger purchases. Tears advice will get you more money in the short term, but offering better deals will pay off in the long term.
    • Exploring dungeons is offered as an alternate way to get items to sell in the store. While this is true, you can make a much larger profit (outside of New Game+ anyway) by simply buying wholesale in town and manning the store.
  • Left 4 Dead has numerous loading screen hints, most of them valid; however, the hint originally meant to explain the Tank's control mechanic (you lose control of the Tank if you don't do damage or maintain line of sight for long enough) encouraged players to rush directly in to do as much damage as possible, which in versus games against even marginally skilled players was a recipe for a dead Tank and probably a pissed off team. The message has since been amended to simply advise players of the risk of losing control.
  • Some of the puzzles in the Professor Layton series end up being incredibly difficult only because the the puzzle setup and hints are misleading or omit crucial information. An example in the second game is the "Boys Club" puzzle, which is difficult only because the instructions don't mention that you're supposed to skip over the portraits you cross out as you're counting. Since it's a straight up logic puzzle, it's impossible to solve if you follow the instructions at their word.
    • The third game subtly lampshades this with the first puzzle challenge, where Layton's opponent places four aces face-down with a few rules attached to them (for example: "the heart is next to the diamond") and tells Layton to find the spade...except that the opponent never said "there is only one of each ace", making the puzzle unsolvable if taken strictly at its word, and the real test for Layton was noticing this.
  • Some Civilization games (5 for sure) say that one of the difficulties is the "balanced" difficulty where neither the computers or players get an advantage, but really the computer does cheat in some ways; most notably, in Civ 5 they get more happiness, and only 60% of all unhappiness, which means, all other things equal, they can have a civilization double the size with more happiness than the player, and they'll make sure to rub it in your face.
  • Rune Factory 2: Herman will tell you explicitly that one of his favorite foods is pineapple juice. But if you give him some, he gives the "I hate this" reaction. Turns out, this was just a programming glitch: he does like the stuff and his friendship points do go up. (Possible inspiration for opposite speaking Sherman in Rune Factory 3?)
  • Following the in-game advice for Valkyria Chronicles--move with caution, cover your advances, don't try to be Rambo, etc.--will ensure that you never receive a high mission rank and the extra rewards it offers; all the game tracks is how long you took.
    • The mission briefing for Selvaria's Last Stand states that she will probably dodge head-on attacks, which is true, but then recommends you circumvent that by getting behind her. If you try this, she'll turn around every time, even if she couldn't possibly have seen you coming, and she can dodge attacks from behind just as well as attacks from the front.
  • Dark Void has an achievement that tells you to "kill 10 airborne enemies using grenades." What you actually have to do is kill 10 enemies using airborne grenades -- that is, the grenade must be in the air when it explodes, not the enemy.
  • Golden Sun Dark Dawn's infamous Capricorn puzzle in the Craggy Peak tower. The game gives you the hint "THE GOAT LEAVES NO TRACE BEHIND". The goat statues do leave a trail when you push them around... the puzzle is that they do not cross each other's trail.
  • In Nie R, the tutorial on how to fish tells you to press the 'X' button, and then use the analog stick to reel in the fish. Doing that will result in Nier yanking the hook out of the water every single time, leaving you with no fish. The trick is to move the stick whichever way Nier leans, and not to hit the button until the fish's health is worn down.
  • After defeating the Final Boss of Persona 4, you get a nice epilogue section where you get to travel all over the town and say goodbye to all of the friends you've made. If you try going to the place where you enter the TV dungeons, the game explicitly tells you there's no more reason to go there. If you try again, the game reiterates that seriously, there's no reason to go, and even pushes you towards wrapping up your business and going to trigger the end credits. It's lying. Keep trying and you'll unlock the actual final dungeon and True Final Boss.
  • Quite a few quest givers in Morrowind gave wrong compass directions

Notes

  1. To make up for this, there's actually a very good piece of armor if you follow the wrong directions
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