It's so easy to bump into one cliché after another no matter what video game you are playing. Most video games are riddled with many, many clichés hidden or not. Why do they pop up? Once a game is made and has some measure of success, other gaming companies "borrow" ideas and put them into their own games, which is why damsels, crazy laughing villains, and young heroes are found in almost half of all video games. These are the most frequent clichés found from Japanese titles to American. Most are so redundant that you wish they were never put into motion.
The White Haired Pretty Boy Villain
In almost every Japanese RPG, there is the main antagonist or a lackey who is cunningly evil. They usually have long silky white hair, they're dressed to impress, and they have a certain feminine quality about them. You could say that Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII started this whole formula, but there have been villains in anime long before him that had the same style. Any fan of a JRPG might find them a little boring and overused now, especially since they all have the qualities of being a clever sociopath. Some other examples include Albedo from Xenosaga and Ansem from Kingdom Hearts.
Burned Down Village and/or Hero is an Orphan
This is the most common video game cliché in role playing games, but it has reared its ugly head in a few action games as well. Either the hero’s town has been burnt to a crisp or he has lost his parents tragically…or both. The burning down of villages has been known to appear in many games in the 1990s and 2000s, including Legend of Dragoon and Xenogears. Almost every RPG has an orphan hero, such as Shadow Hearts, Final Fantasy VIII, and a game hardly anyone knows — Ephemeral Fantasia.
There are also some action games that give the same formula, most notably the Devil May Cry games and Metal Gear Solid 2. This stereotype was formed early on but it has shown up in almost every 90's RPG one can think of, so surely it's only a matter of time before it falls from the face of the earth.
The Delicate and Pure Heroine
This has been around since Mario the plumber had to save Pauline in the original Donkey Kong game. Now it has been overused by almost every game you can think of, being popularized by Final Fantasy. Girls with this demeanor are quiet, in a man’s shadow, have an innocent beauty, and are kind to everyone they see, even the enemy if they are hurt.
This is usually a stereotype found in Japanese RPG games, since it seems to be in tune with their culture of having an innocent woman that will cater to the needs of a man. Most gamers are really tired of this cliché, but at least it seems to finally be fading in some respects as we see a new wave of much stronger women characters coming through.
Barrels That Magically Explode
Exploding barrels are a hot commodity in the world of action games. Barrels with dangerous waste and explosive material do not blow up in real life, so why must they in video games? This is one of the biggest questions in the gaming industry and there really is no answer to it. The most logical answer would be that it looks cool and it works well with explosive action video games.
Although they have been around the scene for a while, some of the most popular games of today have been using them more often. Some of these games include the Metal Gear Solid series, Uncharted, Bad Company, and Resident Evil 4 and 5. They are also one of the most common FPS conventions you'll find, but gamers aren’t complaining because it sure does look awesome when a single gunshot detonates a barrel and takes out a group of bad guys.
Collecting Items for Completion
Collecting points has been around since Pong and it has turned into so much more than that these days. You now have to find such things as medals, emblems, secret coins, rare materials, and of course the heart pieces which appear in The Legend of Zelda. If you are a completionist, you will find yourself up against some heavy duty collecting if you are playing games such as Assassin’s Creed 2 or Star Ocean 4.
Never Ending Cliches
Some video game clichés are finally dying down, but developers are bringing about new ones that might get a little out of hand. The lesson learned is that no matter what the game, one of these clichés or something similar will surely pop out at you at any given moment.
All references from author's own experience and screenshots from respective games.