Damn You, Muscle Memory!

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"What bothers me about this game is just one simple problem: They swapped the buttons! B is Jump and A throws shells! How did they fuck up the controls for a Mario game?! Why change what we grew up with? Why change what's been firmly planted in our brains since childhood?!"

There are many, many Video Games out there. With so many video games, it stands to reason that most will be somewhat similar, and have similar control schemes.

But then, if they're merely similar, it also stands to reason that they're somewhat... different. And maybe this difference is what completely throws you off your game.

Any game where you can change the control scheme will obviously avoid this by default, though the effectiveness depends on how far the game will let you remap its controls. PC games generally let the user reassign the controls, so this is very much a console problem. Emulators, special controllers and 3rd-party utilities can function as a workaround of sorts as well. Of course, allowing you to change the control scheme in a game with different characters who need different schemes can lead to this within a single game.

This is why we have Stock Control Settings.

See also Reflexive Response, Wikipedia Syntaxer. Contrast Noob Bridge, which occurs when a game's control scheme has an extra aspect that's non-standard.

This is sometimes done intentionally as a game effect; see Interface Screw. This can go beyond gaming, as examples below show. Any control system for a device which can be easily confused for another falls into it.

Psychologists call this negative transfer.


Examples of Damn You, Muscle Memory! include:

Video game Examples[edit | hide | hide all]

Action[edit | hide]

  • Saints Row 2's Xbox 360 gamepad default is to have sprint on RB. Try using that same button to sprint in Saints Row the Third or The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and you'll either throw a grenade or use a power/shout, respectively, because sprint is on LB. Then you go back to Saints Row 2, wonder why you're not sprinting at all when mashing LB, and then realize it's the "grab human shield/throw" button. Same goes for Crysis and Crysis Warhead, for anyone that would play them on PC with the gamepad. This isn't even getting into the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare standard of having sprint on LS, to add further confusion; there, LB throws special grenades.
    • On top of this, Saints Row 2 has melee on LT, zoom on RS, reload on A, and jump on X. Saints Row the Third is much more Call of Duty-like with melee on RS, zoom on LT, jump on A, and reload on X. Taking human shields is now mapped to Y, since they needed to free a bumper for a dedicated grenade throw bind.
    • Car/bike controls have also changed. Saints Row 2 follows the older Grand Theft Auto convention of using A to accelerate and X to brake, leaving the triggers free for shooting. Saints Row the Third instead opts for the Grand Theft Auto IV approach of using RT to accelerate and LT to brake, moving the shoot button to LB.
  • Mirror's Edge on consoles tends to have this effect. 1. When you play the game after having played any platformer ever, it's hard to get used to using the left triggers for jumping and crouching. 2. When you play any platformer after Mirror's Edge, expect lots of deaths from pressing the wrong button and attempting to wall-run when you can't.
  • Devil May Cry has a radically different button arrangement between the first game and all the others. Any player who claims they didn't press Triangle in an attempt to jump at least once in the third game is lying to you.
    • For people who played the second game before the third, they probably didn't hit Triangle. DMC2 may not have been great, but at least Capcom got the jump button right that time.
    • Even worse if you did the opposite, and played three first.
    • Going from almost any game with "jump" and "attack" buttons since the SNES to the first Devil May Cry. It was and is the accepted standard to have the bottom button of the diamond be jump and the left button attack. For some unknown reason, Capcom decided to make the top button jump and the right button attack.
    • Whoever thought it was a good idea to use the Triangle button for jumping, and not give you the chance to customize controls, deserves to die a painful death.
    • Thankfully, Devil May Cry HD Collection changes the first game's control scheme to match the rest of the series.
  • Rampage on the PS3 is a perfect port of the old arcade title. But the Square button is mapped to jump and the X button to punch, a total reversal of the system's conventions.
  • Super Metroid is especially problematic - the default control scheme uses A to jump and X to shoot. (X is located in the top corner of the SNES controller.) Thankfully, Super Metroid is also one of the first games to allow you to remap every button on the controller to your liking and save your preferences for later.
    • How about going from a 2D Metroid (A to jump, B to shoot) to one of the Metroid Prime games (A to shoot, B to jump)?
    • It at least makes some sense: On the Game Cube controller, A is a much larger button than B, and much better placed for rapid mashing—something necessary for a game primarily about shooting. Still, first time you pick it up...
    • At least Prime 3 allowed you to reverse the buttons. But because the B button is a trigger on the Wii remote, you'd think it'd be the default fire button. It isn't.
      • Unfortunately, the switch buttons option is broken - it makes A jump and B shoot, but only in regular mode. In morphball form, A reverts to dropping bombs, which makes a confusing mess. Maybe they'll fix it for Metroid Prime Trilogy?
    • In Super Metroid, L aims downward diagonally, and R aims upwards diagonally. In Metroid Fusion, L aims diagonally (both up and down, controlled by the D-pad) and R selects missiles. Get ready to waste a few missiles by mistake early on.
  • Go from Metroid Prime to any other First-Person Shooter on the Game Cube. Not only for buttons or (most of the times) lack of auto-aim, but also because you have to use both analogs to walk properly.
    • This Troper's review of Metroid Prime drives this point home.
  • Ninja Gaiden Trilogy, a compilation of all three NES games in the series released for the SNES, had the attack and jump buttons assigned to B and A, just like on the 8-bit NES. However, the button layout of the SNES controller is a bit different from the NES, and since the X and Y are used as alternate buttons to perform the same functions, this results in a counter-intuitive control scheme since most SNES action games used Y for attacks and B for jumping.
  • Go from playing Viewtiful Joe to Super Smash Bros. Melee. Attack goes to Jump, Jump goes to Attack.
  • Go from a Super Smash Bros.. game to any other fighter. Smash Attacks are a fine strategy... in Smash Bros. only. And what do you mean holding the triggers doesn't block like they do in Mortal Kombat?
    • Hell, only going between the three different Super Smash Bros. games themselves is hard! Just try to go back and play the original game after getting used to Brawl and then realize that the original has no side-B special move. Even playing as the same character in all three games, there's very noticeable differences between move sets, timing, and hit boxes between the different installments.
      • Forget side special, the original has no up/down throw, no airdodging, and no C-stick!!
  • The Legend of Zelda Oracle Games do this, because their graphics are so similar to those of the earlier The Legend of Zelda Links Awakening, but your sword starts out on the opposite button from that of Link's Awakening. The real problem, though, is that the button combination used to save in Link's Awakening is used to reset the game in the Oracle games. A player who started playing the Oracles immediately after just finishing a run of Link's Awakening could end up losing quite a bit of progress...
    • A+B+Start+Select was always the standard "Reset" gesture for Game Boy games (since the GB didn't have an actual reset button); Link's Awakening was the deviant here.
    • Link's Awakening and the Game Boy games also had a problem for some gamers: most of the console Zeldas have a button for sword attack, while the portable Zeldas turn the sword into one of the items that can be mapped to the action buttons.
    • While the N64 games and The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker had three configurable instant-use item buttons, the GCN version of Twilight Princess hardcoded the "Z" button to the Exposition Fairy, typically resulting in a trip to the item selection screen several times in the same fight to swap out one of the two item slots left.
      • Another major difference between The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess and the other GC Zelda games (counting the The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time remake) is that instead of having all of the menu components simply under the Start Button, it was spilt into two: the D-Pad was used for switching equipment and the Start Button only went to a basic menu that allowed for viewing collectables/stats, saving and changing outfits/sheilds. In Wind Waker and Ocarina Of Time the D-Pad was used for controlling the mini-map.
    • Then there's The Legend of Zelda the Minish Cap, which used the R button for lift/throw, which had been A in The Legend of Zelda a Link To T He Past, and wasted the L button on the game's fusion function.
    • There is also the port of A Link To The Past to the GBA, which awkwardly had the inventory mapped to the Select button and the save dialog to the Start button—the inverse of the SNES version.
      • The inverse of most games, in fact, and definitely more than most Zelda games. It's very hard to go from playing this port and then playing the Game Boy Zelda games.
    • In The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword the A-button is not for rolling, but instead for running. Shaking the Nunchuk while running triggers rolling. Almost the same result, but still... Good thing running is more efficient than rolling, once the player has gotten used to it.
      • People who were used to the very basic motion controls of Twilight Princess had some difficulty adjusting the the more precise controls for Skyward Sword.
        • And then difficulty adjusting back to the waggling of Twilight Princess after getting used to Skyward Sword.
    • Zelda's Lullaby in Ocarina Of Time was "left-up-right-left-up-right." Is was this on the N64, the Game Cube, and the Wii. For the 3DS version, the song is "X-A-Y-X-A-Y." To put that in terms of the button's positions, the song is now "up-right-left-up-right-left." All the other songs have also changed accordingly.
    • For the 3D Zeldas, you can Z-targeting as either as a click the button to auto-lock or hold the button to lock on. Skyward Sword forces the latter, making it a little annoying for those who prefer the former.
      • Which isn't a completely huge problem, since the Z button does not require much force to press down compared to the other Nintendo controller shoulder buttons. The huge pain comes when they forced it on Ocarina of Time 3D as well, a game that was originally designed with a switch targeting system, and is now on a clunky portable system. Even worse is that often, you have to hold both the L and R shoulder buttons on the 3DS because holding up your shield is a common technique against enemies.
  • Assassin's Creed I has the exact same problem with its camera stick, being the opposite of what is expected on the X-axis. Adding insult to injury, you can only invert the axises in the "look" mode. They too fixed the problem in the sequel, though it means that once you've started playing the sequel, you can never go back to the first game, not just for the controls, but also for all the fixes that you'll be missing.
    • Revelations compounds the issue by changing the "head" button (previously toggling Eagle Vision, taunting in combat or speaking to NPCs) to the projectile-shooting button (projectiles previously were used with the attack button), the renamed Eagle Sense moved to a left-stick click, and the formerly "off-hand" button (pushing, shoving, dropping or grabbing) also serves as the button for Ezio's new hookblade weapon/tool... which is mounted on his weapon hand.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV presents a doubly-frustrating example: on foot, if you've grown acclimated to typical FPS/TPS controls a la Call of Duty, your instincts will get you killed. (Jump! Nope, that's a melee attack. Reload! Oh, hang on, that's jump. Fire, goddamn it, fire! Oops, that's take cover.) Then, to compound the aggravation, the driving controls place the handbrake in a very counterintuitive spot for anyone who's grown used to Burnout-or-Need for Speed-style controls; get ready to fail a lot of car chase missions and police escapes. And there are a whopping two controller layout options, both equally unimpressive. What the hell happened to letting players assign button layouts?
      • On PC, this is even worse as GTA IV no long allows to customize the controls like you could in GTA III, VC and SA every PC game of the post-DOS era and many before it.
      • And when GTA came out for the Xbox, first in the double pack with III, Vice City and then San Andreas separately they had completely different controls. When driving, what was attack in San Andreas was now handbrake in III/Vice City... so imagine coming up on a motorbike at top speed, about to fire your Uzi and instead hitting the handbrake and spinning out of control.
    • GTA IV on Play Station 3 also causes major problems for players weaned on GTA III-era games (especially San Andreas) on the PlayStation 2. Primarily, the driving controls are completely different and use the Play Station 3 controller's triggers for acceleration and braking (as opposed to the buttons in the earlier games). Which pretty much guarantees you'll run someone over and get the police after you the first time you attempt to do a chase. Or you'll find yourself shooting out the window when you don't want to. Or bailing from the vehicle...
    • Saints Row 2 has closer controls to the PS2 GTA games, except moving around the controls for attacking, weapon switching, running, looking behind, handbrake, and entering missions is the same button as entering/leaving vehicles. It's not so bad, but it does make for confusion, and frustration for the final placement.
      • Just Cause 2 is an equal offender. The driving controls are pretty much identical to Grand Theft Auto IV, with one difference. The button or key for the handbrake in GTA IV is the same as the command to deploy the player's parachute in Just Cause 2, which can be problematic when you are driving someone somewhere and instead of stylishy doing a handbrake turn you jump out of the car and watch it spiral into a wall.
      • Helicopter controls among the three games, especially the PC versions, will also vary enough that you will have trouble flying one of these things in another game for a while.
  • Namco switched two buttons between Ace Combat 5 and Ace Combat Zero: The select button switched weapons and the square button toggled the minimap in Ace Combat 5 and vice versa in Ace Combat Zero. X does the same as Zero.
    • Try going from Ace Combat 5 to AC 6. For the most part the controls are the same...except the "change to special weapons" and "display map" buttons are swapped.
      • Try Ace Combat 6 to Tom Clancy's HAWX. In AC6, A is cannon and B is missile. In HAWX, it's the other way around. Countless missiles were wasted.
      • A lot of weapons in HAWX work just slightly differently than their counterparts in Ace Combat, also leading to wasted ammunition when switching between the two.
    • Between 4 and 5, down on the D-pad changed camera view for 4, but 5 uses R3. Down on the D-pad for 5 affects the order given to the wingmen, while R3 for 4 turns the camera to be face-on with the plane and thus allow the player to see behind the plane.
  • Going to Airforce Delta games after playing Ace Combat games has this effect until you change the control scheme.
  • In Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, the C button sheaths your sword. In Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, C throws your alternate weapon, and there is no "sheath sword" button.
    • Well technically you are sheathing the weapon into an enemy... or a wall.
  • Variation in Bionic Commando Rearmed after just about any other 2D platform game. You will instinctively try to jump, despite the complete lack of a jump button.
    • Same for the original Bionic Commando. Much of the challenge of the game is derived from that very inability to jump, which Rearmed 2 finally does away with.
  • Play Resident Evil 2 or 'Resident Evil 3: Nemesis on the PS1. Now, play Resident Evil Code Veronica X on the PS2. Just so you know, that button you are hitting to open the inventory does the same as the X button. It's Start now, so the only way your are not going to be disoriented is if you JUST came off the very first game.
  • Play Resident Evil 4 a lot using the sniper rifle. Notice how you zoom in using the c-stick and use the y-button to open up your inventory. Now play Killer7 and use the sniper pistol. The y-button is used to zoom in a pre-set distance, but that's no problem. Unfortunately the c-stick is used to reload, which is a fairly lengthy process. Not fun when you're in a tough fight.
  • The original Metal Gear Solid has the circle button to confirm decisions and the X button to cancel. This remained true for the sequels until Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, where X became the confirm button and circle was now cancel. This is made worse in the HD versions of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Players of the original PS2 versions are likely going to have a hard time for a few minutes adjusting to that, even if they've played MGS4.
    • Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes is a remake of the first game built on the engine of the second. However, since MGS2 was originally on the PS2 and Twin Snakes is a GameCube game, the controls were changed to compensate for the GameCube controller's lack of analog buttons. For example, the player has to press the Y button while holding the A button in order to let go of their character's aim in Twin Snakes, whereas in MGS2 this was done by gently releasing the square button.
    • In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, there's a brief dream sequence at the beginning of Act 4 where the player is thrown into the Heliport from MGS1, with the same graphics, engine, controls and everything, and the this can get the player killed if he's not careful.
    • The Windows port of MGS 2 has a totally different keyboard layout from the port of the original... and the key customization doesn't quite work.
  • Max Payne 1 & 2 on the Xbox: All the same actions, entirely different button layout. The third game, despite more closely resembling Gears of War-style cover shooters, has NO Regenerating Health. Until you get this into your head, expect to have much trouble due to being over-reliant on that mechanic.
  • The various Parkour based games, particularly Assassin's Creed, Prince of Persia, In Famous and Prototype, all have separate ways of navigating your way around the city. It can be quite jarring to jump from Assassin's Creed, with its semi-realistic approach, to Prototype, where the protagonist can run up walls at will.
    • Going from Assassin's Creed 2 to Uncharted ended with a lot of platforming sequences ending with the thought "Why didn't Drake automatically jump that gap?"
    • Even going from Assassin's Creed 1 to Assassin's Creed 2 can be a bit annoying; despite how similar their controls are. One difference that comes to mind is the legs button(A). Remember how pressing the legs button would make you slow down to a halt, pretend to be a(heavily armed) scholar, and allow you to brush past paranoid guards? In AC2, trying to pull that move off will end up with you pick-pocketing said guard.
    • Infamous has a parkour system based on jumping- press the jump button to jump up and grab, or to push yourself up a wall. You'll automatically grab any handholds and balance on any ledges you come across. This is a jarring contrast with Prototype's wall running.
  • Some Driv3r players found it difficult switching over to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as in Driv3r pressing the triangle button applied the breaks, but in San Andreas it made you enter/exit the car.
  • In Prototype, if you wanted to do a Stealth Consume on someone, you needed to hold the right shoulder button and press B (on the 360 controller). In Prototype 2, they now just have you do the same motion that you would for an in-battle consume, and pressing the right shoulder button results in dropping your disguise and using your shield. If you're used to the first game's stealth consume mechanic too much, be prepared to accidentally cause a few alerts as you demonstrate powers in front of military personnel in the sequel. Also, P2 uses Back/Select for the menu and Start for the map whereas many other games do the opposite.
  • In Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, try playing as Maria for a while, and then switch to Richter. It can really throw you off, since pressing the jump button in midair makes Maria do a Double Jump, while Richter does a backflip. You will send yourself back into enemies/Bottomless Pits many times before you'll get used to it.
  • Double Dragon II: The Revenge features directional-based attack buttons where one button causes the player to attack to the left and the other to the right. Thus, one button does a standard punch combo, while the other button does a back-kick, depending on the player's direction. This is a huge contrast from the first game, which featured a more conventional "punch or kick" system. As a result, many players who were used to the controls of the first game and then jumped straight to the sequel had difficulty adjusting to the new control scheme, since the buttons for punching and kicking are switched whenever their character change directions. Technos also used a similar system in their older beat-'em-up Renegade.


Fighting[edit | hide]

  • The two most prominent Mixed Martial Arts games available, Electronic Arts' MMA and THQ's UFC Undisputed 2010 use completely different control schemes that, oddly, both feel intuitive once you "get" them. The start of the animation to shoot for a takedown looks exactly the same in both games. You'll be flicking the right analog stick backwards futilely in an attempt to stop takedowns for hours, should you make the transition from UFC to EA.
  • Try playing Mortal Kombat on the PS Vita. Now go back to Midway Arcade Classics on the original PSP and play any of the Mortal Kombats. Watch as you do a crouching highkick everytime you try to uppercut someone.
  • Super Smash Bros.. Brawl can do this just within itself. Try playing the Boss Rush mode on Intense so many times in a row that you become an expert at it, then switch over to any easier setting, even Very Hard. All those bosses that can't hit you on Intense will get a lot more hits in.
  • Samurai Shodown 2 on the Wii Virtual Console played on the Classic Controller. It wouldn't be so bad if one could remap the buttons from those old games, but here Samurai Shodown 2 shows two problems. One was the original Street Fighter-like attacks. Six levels, but four buttons - so if you want the heavy shot, you hit both slash or both kick. Well, that's true to the original. But then the kick and punch buttons were reversed, causing..issues.
  • You spent years learning how to play as Voldo in Soul Calibur? You perfected his move set in Soul Calibur 2? Well, good luck with 3 and 4: he's got almost all the same moves, but for no good reason all the inputs are changed.
    • They did the same thing with Ivy!
    • Talim is much slower, and her moves have been reassigned.
    • Taki's original ground spark move change a couple of times. In SC1, the move made the opponent fall behind her. In SC2, the opponent fell in front of her for more combo opportunities. In SC1 and 2, the moticn was back+B+K. From SC 3 and on, the motion became back+A+B.
  • Done intentionally with the Punch-Out!! series. All your opponents are right handed save Soda Popinski. As such he marks the point in the games where you need to start relying less on instinct and more on strategy.
  • A number of fighting games have similar control schemes but radically different systems and methods. There's no way in which you can suck at Guilty Gear that cannot be aggravated by having spent a long time playing Bleach: Blade of Fate.
    • Going from Melty Blood's four or five button setup to other, similar games can have similar results, from the merely annoying (Arcana Heart, with extremely different non-attack buttons) to the aggravating (Fate/Unlimited Codes, where the combo system tends to leave one open to counterattack).
  • The Touhou fighting games Immaterial and Missing Power versus Scarlet Weather Rhapsody; the control schemes and sprites are just similar enough for you to be familiar while still being different enough that some controls are forgotten.
  • The Street Fighter series has you hold the opposite direction (backwards) to block. The Mortal Kombat series has a block button.
    • And the same thing goes for two Namco series: Tekken, and Soul Calibur.
    • Back to Street Fighter: the throw commands are all different between titles. In Street Fighter II, tap the stick in the desired direction while pressing HP (Fierce) or HK (Roundhouse). In Street Fighter Alpha 3, it's two punch or two kick buttons. In Street Fighter III and IV, it's LP (Jab) + LK (Short), and two punch or kick buttons is used for EX special moves. That same vertical arrangement would start a custom/variable combo in Alpha 3 if using V-ISM.
    • And when moving to IV, remember that Ultra moves are done with all three punch or kick buttons simultaneously. Same goes for Marvel vs. Capcom 2, where some special moves require both punch or kick buttons simultaneously. Alpha and Capcom vs. SNK 2 Mark of the Millennium just use one button for all specials, with the L/M/H distinction determining how strong a super is (and also how much meter it uses).
    • Also try playing any of the SF3 series or the P-Groove in Capcom vs SNK 2. Then try playing SF2, SF4 or another Groove in Capcom vs SNK 2. With no parry (done by tapping forward in time with enemy attacks) to counter the enemy, the character will actually drop their guard and walk forward into attacks!
  • Guilty Gear: Pressing all the face buttons at once sets up for an Instant Kill attack.
    • BlazBlue: The system is similar to Guilty Gear, but now pressing all face buttons at once performs a Barrier Burst, which in Calamity Trigger cripples your defense for the remainder of the round. Also, some moves' inputs were changed between Calamity Trigger and Continuum Shift; for example, Tager's Astral Heat is now 720+ D rather than the bizarre hold A+ B+ C and mash D it used to be.
  • In Capcom vs. Whatever games, the Shinkuu Hadouken is performed with Hadouken motion + two Punch buttons. In Street Fighter titles, it's done with two Hadouken motions + one Punch button. Going between the two series can be confusing.
  • Dragonball Z games have this between the Budokai and Budokai Tenkaichi series on the PlayStation 2. In Budokai, square is punch, triangle is kick, circle is Ki Attack, X blocks/dodges, and 'double tap in a direction' is for dashes. In Budokai Tenkaichi, which is a fully 3D arena fighter unlike Budokai, keeps square as punch, but also adds kicks and other moves in combos, swaps triangle for Ki Attack, circle for blocking, and X is now dash. Many times, you will find yourself getting punched repeatedly in the face as you forgot how to DOOOOODGE!
  • In the King of Fighters series, the LP+LK command has changed a few times. In 94 and 95, it was a standing sidestep. In the rest of the series, it became the more popular rolling mechanic. The trope really comes into play in 99 and Capcom Vs SNK series. In 99, backwards rolling popped you forward straight afterward, while accidentally press a button during forward roll brings you back into the line of fire. In the Cv S series, there was no backwards rolling whatsoever, so KOF veterans got messed up by this.
  • WWE '12 Revamped the controls from the previous games, moving grapples from the right stick to the X(Play Station 3) button, run from L1 to L2 and action from X to L1 while the right stick was re-purposed for manipulating the enemy position.


Platformers[edit | hide]

  • Super Meat Boy is a game dedicated to deconstruct this and Player Tics by killing you whenever you fall into this.
  • Super Mario Galaxy players reflexively use their Spin Attack to get an extra jump. Super Mario Galaxy 2 exploits this in several galaxies where doing this will cause you to plummet to your death.
  • In Sonic Unleashed, the Homing Attack was changed from the A button to the X button (going by 360 controls).
    • The X button is also the Boost button. With the Air Boost Shoes you need to be careful executing Homing Attacks, especially if you're traversing over bottomless pits.
    • To add insult to the injury, there´s the stomp move. In both versions of Unleashed, you can use it to quickly cancel jumps and land on grind rails, in order to save time. However, the Wii version of Sonic Colors makes you FALL THROUGH THE RAILS should you stomp on them, so, by instinct, you´re gonna try to stomp on them and therefore falling to your doom. This is excusable in the DS version, since being a mostly 2D game, sometimes you actually need to get through a rail to go down.
  • In Sonic Adventure 2, shoulder buttons had controlled the camera. In Shadow the Hedgehog, the C-stick took over this function and the R button allowed the useless function of strafing. Grr... Cosmic Fall.
    • Try playing the Sonic Advance titles after playing Sonic Rush Series or Sonic Rush Adventure...and NOT continue to attempt trick actions.
    • Sonic Colors on DS pulls a similar kind of control system change, in this situation done to bring it closer to the Wii version's controls. This makes going between Rush and Colors even more jarring because they use the same engine, and one expects consistency.
    • The PC version of Sonic Adventure DX is difficult to get used to, as Z is to spin dash and X is to jump.
    • Sonic Generations seems expressly designed to invoke this trope, with its switching between classic Sonic (who can spin dash, but not do a homing attack) and modern Sonic (vice versa).
  • In most Kirby games, you can rapidly tap A to fly. In Kirby's Adventure, you can only fly by holding Up.
    • Then came Kirby Squeak Squad, which made B use your power, while Y and A made you jump.
  • Psychonauts, to an extent. You learn several Psy Powers as you progress through the game, but you can only bind 3 powers at a time (to either Q, E, or the right mouse button) -- thus forcing you to swap them depending on what you're up against.
    • Want to Shield yourself? Whoops, you just wasted a Confusion Grenade.
  • In the Super Mario Bros. series, A is usually used for jump. However, many DS Mario games use B to jump and A to attack/throw fireballs, meaning that someone coming from Super Mario Galaxy to, say, Super Mario 64 DS, or from a past Mario game can seriously end up slightly confused playing a DS port/series game. Then there's the page quote at the top, if you ever find yourself playing Mario Clash on the Virtual Boy.
    • Yoshi's Island is pretty much under this as well, the original (at least the GBA port) used A to jump, B to eat enemies, R to throw eggs, and L to lock the aim. The DS sequel, keeping with SNES controls, uses B to jump, A to throw eggs, Y to eat enemies, and X to lock the aim. Particularly problematic if the player forgets and picks a tough level to randomly play in either of said games. However, the player can change Yoshi's Island DS controls to the GBA remake's layout.
    • The exclusion of the long jump in Super Mario Sunshine annoyed many gamers who had to go through the retro stages without the aid of FLUDD.
    • If you know what's good for your DS, you won't play New Super Mario Bros. after the Wii version. Hint: what gimmick are Wii games famous for? [1] Not only that, but it often saves your life, so you'll be in the habit of doing it after almost every jump.
    • Old-school gamers may remember when Super Mario World first came out. In all the NES Mario games, A was jump and B was run/shoot fireball/etc., but here A became spin-jump, B became normal jump, and Y became run/shoot fireball/etc. (probably changed because of the way one's hand sits on the SNES controller). Many gamers would reflexively spin-jump everywhere, or accidentally jump because they wanted to start running, causing a lot of deaths because Mario wouldn't jump high enough, or jump into an enemy. Avoiding this trope was the major reason why Super Mario All-Stars for the SNES let you switch between two control methods, where you could have B and A be jump and Y and X be run/pick up, or have B and A for run and jump, simulating the old NES style, with Y and X both used to run. This was also later used in New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS, though X would be a secondary jump instead of run.
  • Many people, after having played Cave Story, will frequently press Z to jump in other games. For example, in Maple Story, Z is the letter for picking up items.
  • An infamous example is the Game Cube release of Mega Man Anniversary Collection, a compilation of ten classic games from the Mega Man series, all of which had the jump and shoot button positions switched from their original release.
    • Mega Man X Collection fixes this...which makes going from Anniversary to X Collection a new problem because now you're used to the reversed controls.
    • Mega Man 9 has a different problem (on the Xbox 360); they mapped the subscreen (where you select your weapons) to "Select" instead of "Start" like in, oh, every other game. "Start" instead brings up the options menu, which you are far less likely to use while playing. This is a royal pain because shots disappear if you pause for any reason. So if you hit Start, you have to hit it again, then Select to swap weapons.
  • Try going from playing Super Mario World to playing a SNES Mega Man X game, or vice versa. In Mario World, A is spin jump, B is normal jump, and X and Y are both run/attack. In X games, B is jump, A is dash and Y is fire, while X has no function. Have fun spin-jumping while trying to make a run-up to cross a large gap in Mario, or dashing into an enemy when trying to kill it in Mega Man X.
    • At least in X, you can also dash by double-tapping the D-pad in the direction you want to dash, so that takes some of it out. Though, you still need the A button if you're going to super-jump off walls.
  • Although the feature is usually passed over, X actually had customizable controls, averting this somewhat if you notice the "Options" menu on the start screen.
  • Mega Man ZX and Mega Man Zero. While both games have customizable controls, the default set for ZX maps the attack button from Zero as the jump button and the jump button to the OIS System. Given that the latter uses a gauge, this can get frustrating very quickly.
    • It's not quite so bad when you play ZX on a DS Lite, when A is so frustrating to hit without contorting your hand.
    • Similarly, X has the dash button in the same place as ZX's OIS System.
  • Any number of JAMMA platform games, where you have a button for jump and one for fire. Swapping between the two control layouts is frustrating.
  • The C button of the Sega Genesis controller was used as jump button for just about every Genesis platformer. However, every Simpsons game on the system awkwardly used the B button to jump, and none let you change the button assignments.
  • Try swapping between Jak and Daxter and Ratchet and Clank games without tinkering with the controls. It'll cost you a fair amount of Ratchet ammo, because you'll be using the Jak punch button to shoot, and you'll crouch every time you try to fire with R1 if you're up to Jak II.
    • Even within the Ratchet and Clank games. The later ones had optional, or sometimes default, lock-strafe mode. Then you go back to the first one, and that option no longer exists.
    • Ratchet is an interesting case though. After getting used to the rather unusual "lock-strafe mode" that became the default in Deadlocked, you realize it is actually far more adapted for combat: since the shoot and jump buttons are not under the same finger as the right analog stick you can move and aim a lot more freely while shooting. And thus you will likely start to use it back in the second and third game, where it was optional but you wouldn't use it before because it was too disorienting.
    • Using the Plasma Striker in A Crack In Time takes a little getting used to for those used to the previous games' sniper rifles. In 2 and 3, R1 zooms in, R2 zooms out, the right stick aims and O fires. In Crack, the right stick zooms, the left stick aims and R1 fires. Be prepared to waste a lot of ammo trying to zoom.
    • In the classic series, R1 has always been a secondary fire button, but most players used O instead. In All 4 One, R1 is the only fire button, and O is now mapped to the Vac-U. Hilarity Ensues if playing multiplayer and you keep sucking up your teammates when trying to fire.
  • Spyro the Dragon. It used to be that Square was Charge and Circle was Breath ability. They change it almost every game. In Legend of Spyro, R1 is charge, Square is breath and Circle is Melee combat.
    • In A Hero's Tail, they didn't even give you the nice fancy extra things to take the place of these buttons and give a reason for moving them - they just switched the charge and breath. For no freakin' reason.
  • One of the major complaints of Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness was the fact that not only were the roll and jump controls completely reversed (Jump was Square and Roll was Circle in the previous games), but the huge problem that there was, unlike the previous games, NO WAY TO CHANGE THE CONTROLS.
    • Although no immediate examples come to mind, several of the controls swap between Legend and Underworld.
      • On PC, the default Jump key changed between right-click, and the Space bar.
  • If you have a Game Cube, and you enjoy action-adventure games of a persuasion similar to The Legend Of Zelda, heed this advice: playing Star FOX Adventures and then going straight to playing Beyond Good and Evil (or vice versa) is very unwise. Why?
    • Both games feature staff-based combat. However, the "Attack" button (as well as the "break crates" button) in Beyond Good and Evil is "A." It's "B" in Star Fox Adventures. The "dodge" command is similarly swapped. Also, both games use entirely different styles of combos.
    • The action-adventure-game-standard forward roll is X in SFA. In BG&E, X is mapped to item use, and B is a forward roll.
    • The Z-button enters first-person view in both games. However, to fire a projectile attack in first-person, you press B in BG&E. In SFA, you press Y.
    • In BG&E, R is "run." In SFA, R is "stop dead in your tracks (to shield)."
    • You select items and change the one you have set with the C stick in SFA. In BG&E, you use the D-pad.
    • Finally? In SFA, your NPC partner controls are mapped to a menu. In BG&E, they're hard-coded to the Y button and context-sensitive. While you can set a partner command to the Y button in SFA, it remains the same, regardless of context. The Y button in SFA can also be used for items (which are always set to X in BG&E).
      • So do yourself a favor—either put some time between each of these games, or don't play the 'Cube version of BG&E if you've been playing SFA, or else your fingers will hate you.
    • Many cross-platform platformers are this. A classic example would be the the movie tie-in game The Lion King. On the Genesis, Roar is mapped to the A button, which is the leftmost button on the controller. Jump is mapped to C which is the rightmost button. On the SNES, Roar is also mapped to A... which happens to be the rightmost button instead. And there is no C- jump is mapped to B instead. On the Genesis, B performs a paw swipe, which is mapped to Y (which so happens to be the leftmost button on an SNES controller) on an SNES. Switching from one platform to another results in hilarity, and perhaps copious amounts of the name of this trope being dropped. And you're completely messed over if you're playing the PC version with a keyboard. Yes, the controls can be reconfigured (and in the PC's case, a Gravis 4-button pad can be added, which makes the control no different from the SNES version instead), but most people jump straight into the game, thinking "I can handle change!", only to have this trope served to them.
  • Alex Kidd in Miracle World, a Master System platformer released to cash-in on the success of Super Mario Bros., had the Jump and Attack buttons switched from the order they're laid out in Nintendo's legendary platformer. This was done on purpose by the Miracle Worlds designer, Ossale Kohta, in a misguided attempt to set his game apart from Nintendo's. Zillion, another game he designed, also used the same button layout.
  • When underwater in The Legendary Starfy, Y is spin and B is dash, but when out of water, Y is both spin and dash, while B is jump.
  • Maze of Galious and Vampire Killer on the MSX used up to jump (and climb ladders/stairs), which might surprise players used to consoles like the NES; indeed, the NES counterparts of those two games used A to jump.


Rhythm[edit | hide]

  • The Guitar Hero series and Rock Band have similar "guitars", but totally different timing. In particular, Guitar Hero III has a larger timing window and a completely different hammer-on system than Rock Band. In GH3, there was no limit to how early you could hit a hammer-on or pull-off as long as it came after the previous note.
    • There's also different timing windows between the various Guitar Hero games themselves. Switching from Guitar Hero III, with its relatively large timing window, back to GH2 or forward to one of the more recent titles can cause some frustration.
    • That's just the guitar parts. The drum controllers for Rock Band and Guitar Hero have different layouts for the pads (Rock Band has 4 pads, Guitar Hero 3 pads and 2 raised cymbals), so switching between them can be a lot of trouble.
      • In Rock Band while drumming, the noteboard shakes every time you successfully hit a bass kick. In Guitar Hero, the noteboard shaking means that you missed a beat. That can really mess you up.
    • When Guitar Hero and Rock Band share a song, due to differences in note charts, players can be royally screwed over if they're used to playing the song in one game but not the other. A severe example of this is Motorhead's re-recorded version of "Ace of Spades", which appears on both Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero: Metallica; the note charts for it have absolutely nothing in common.
    • It gets worse when you mix Guitar Hero/Rock Band Guitars and ACTUAL Guitars.
      • Reversed when you consider Rock Band 3, for which you can choose to use an actual guitar for a controller. After heavy playing in the game, the sudden realization that you can play guitar away from the game is some serious Fuck Yeah Muscle Memory.
    • In a much less aggravating example, in Rock Band 2, when you browsed the song list, hitting the yellow button scrolls you to the next section of songs. In Rock Band 3, it's the orange button that does that, and the yellow one brings up the online leaderboard for the song.
  • Another Guitar Hero example: After getting decent at riffs of songs like "Cliffs of Dover" on Expert, it becomes impossible to play them on Hard.
  • The version of "The Spirit of Radio" in Guitar Hero 5 is in a different key than the album version. Lots of luck singing it right the first time.
  • Dance Dance Revolution and Pump It Up are two Rhythm Games which are played by stepping in arrows, but the disposition and quantity of arrows in each one for songs of seemingly similar levels can be very different. And Pump It Up introduces mines and hand plays much earlier.
    • Pump It Up’s arrows are on the dance-pad equivalent locations of the 1-3-5-7-9 keys of a standard keypad. Dance Dance Revolution’s arrows are where the 2, 4, 6, and 8 would be.
    • Making things even worse, sometimes a song is used on multiple games between different game series. These songs can be essentially the same but have drastically different steps. Sometimes this happens even with the same song in a series as the company "tinkers" with the song steps to make things harder or easier. Orion.78, for example, has totally different timing in later Dance Dance Revolution games than it did in earlier versions.
  • Dance Dance Revolution in particular has multiple menu control schemes for different platforms. For examples:
    • Arcade (SuperNOVA 2 and older): Left triangular button to go up or left, right button to go down or right, square button to confirm. Hold both left and right buttons then press square button to sort songs (some versions only require left + right) or go back at options menu. Down arrow twice to increase difficulty, up arrow twice to decrease difficulty. Right arrow twice to switch to edit data for currently highlighted song, left arrow twice to back out of edit data selection. To access options menu, hold square button when confirming a song selection; exiting the options menu starts the song.
      • DDR X now has a new cabinet with added vertical triangular buttons for menus, meaning Left+ Right+ Start is still sort at the song selection menu, but no longer works for the options menu because it's been replaced by the up button.
    • PlayStation 2 (Japan, DDR EXTREME and older): Left to go up or left, right to go down or right, O or Start to confirm, X to go back or toggle in and out of edit data selection, hold X to quit. Up twice to decrease difficulty, down twice to increase difficulty. Hold O or Start when confirming song to access options menu, and exiting the options menu starts the song.
    • PlayStation 2 (Japan, DDR SuperNOVA and newer): Same as above, but to access the options menu, move difficulty selection past the bottom of the list and hit confirm while difficulty is on "Options". Exiting the options menu kicks you back to the Song Select menu. Edit data is usually in its own folder.
    • PlayStation 2 (US): Same as PlayStation 2, Japan, SuperNOVA and newer, except X or Start to confirm, triangle to go back.
  • DJMAX Portable 2 is a rhythm game; in 4 button mode, the middle columns use the 'upmost' buttons on both sides of the PSP, and in 6 button mode the middle columns use the right button on the d-pad and the left button on the right. Moving from 4 to 6 was annoying because when I swapped from one middle column to the other I kept trying to hit the up button instead of the central one, and if it went one column outward again I'd be hitting the outer button. I drilled it into my head eventually, though.
  • A typical Beatmania IIDX cabinet has the turntable on the left side of the keys for player 1, and on the right for player 2. Now, play on one side for a few weeks, then try playing on the other.
    • Thankfully, the official home version controller has its keys on a detachable faceplate that can flip 180 degrees, emulating either the left or right side of the arcade version. Players with two controllers can leave one controller as is while flipping the faceplate of the other to experience the joy that is 14-key.
    • If you're adept at turntable-left style, going from IIDX to beatmania III, where both players are in turntable-right setup, can be jarring. Those making the transition in the other direction can at least specifically choose Player 2 side.
  • Going between Guitar Hero and Rock Band, particularly with the drums. For Rock Band, there are four drum pads laid out in an arc. For Guitar Hero, there are 3 drums and 2 cymbals positioned above the drums. And even if you use one drum set for both, it'll really mess with you because the drums are charted differently (in Rock Band', pretty much each drum other than the red can be a tom or a cymbal, while in Guitar Hero each will only be a tom or a cymbal, meaning that using the Guitar Hero set while playing Rock Band can require you to play a tom roll on a cymbal, which just seems completely wrong), meaning that a song will have a completely different feel from one game to another.
    • And god forbid you have a chart almost memorized in one game and you try to play the same song in another game -- the charts are different even if the songs are the exact same, meaning that some songs where you almost need to memorize the chart to get a high score on (such as Through the Fire and Flames in Guitar Hero 3 and Guitar Hero: Smash Hits), going from one to the other will take a few runs through the song before your hands stop playing the wrong chart. The problem is even worse on drums, for reasons noted above.
  • Auditory example in DS Rhythm Game Rhythm Heaven. Some songs feature Suspiciously Similar Song versions of real life songs - specifically, Shoot 'Em Up is Hotel California, Frog Hop is I Feel Good (more noticeable in the sax arrangement from tier 7) - which screws up people who automatically try and follow those songs, instead of the actual beat.
    • Similarly, in Elite Beat Agents, one of the levels is the song "Rock This Town". What can catch a player off-guard is that it's based on the Brian Setzer Orchestra version of the song, not the original Stray Cats version. The two have similar rhythms, being the same song, but the former is swing and the latter is rock, making them just different enough to wreck you if you get confused.

Racing[edit | hide]

  • For the Gran Turismo series specifically, the fact that reversing in the GT series requires you to hold square to brake until you stop, then hold triangle to actually reverse, in contrast to just about every other driving game ever, where you just hold square.
    • Keep in mind, that is a sim. Remember the first license test that involves braking? Using a "hold square to reverse" scheme wouldn't be a good idea.
  • The PlayStation installments of the Wipeout series seems to change it's mind over control layout between games. It's egenrally accepted that X is accelerate but beyond that the remaining buttons move about a lot. Fusion was the worse, when it took fire from one of the face buttons (it's traditional place) to a shoulder button for some reason.
  • Although not messing with the interface, Mario Kart takes full advantage of this by including "Mirror Mode". It's the hardest difficulty level, and the only difference between it and the next one down is that all the tracks are flipped horizontally; forcing the player to relearn the courses and make left turns where they previously took rights, and vice-versa.
  • Speaking of kart racers, try and play Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing on the PC, Xbox 360, or Play Station 3. It's a faithful Mario Kart clone with a completely different button layout [2] and no option to change the settings (even when playing with a keyboard on the PC). The Wii version averts this, though: its button layout is identical to Mario Kart Wii's.
  • An example within a game: Track Mania United Forever has 7 environments with 7 cars with completely different handling. Most Trackmania servers have a playlist of tracks on all environments in random order. Going from Desert to Stadium or from Snow to Bay will cause you to overshoot the first turn. Going from Coast (100 kph average speed) to Island (many tracks are pegged at 999 kph all the way) is worse.
    • It Gets Worse: today there exist hex edited tracks that have the cars from one environment in another environment, and even if you get the speed intuitively right, the gravity is different between car types. Cue repeatedly faceplanting the landing ramp of 'easy' jumps with a Snow car in Stadium because it dropped like a brick - before the server switches over to another Stadium track, this time featuring the Coast car and its moon gravity.
    • The track editor in Track Mania has two distinct modes. The one where you place track pieces, which uses the arrow keys or mouse to move around, Pg Up and Pg Down to change the elevation of your cursor, right click to rotate the piece and the scroll wheel zooms in and out. And the one where you place SFX blocks ("Mediatracker"), which uses the arrow keys to move and strafe in some sort of primitive flight sim approximation (+ and - control movement speed), right click and hold to rotate the camera, and the scroll wheel changes the elevation of your cursor. Yet in both modes you do the exact same thing: select a location in three-dimensional space and place something there. GRRRRRRR.
  • Play some kind of arcadey racer with drifting and whatnot, and then try to play a very realistic sim racer like Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo.


Role-Playing Games[edit | hide]

  • Many fans of the Golden Sun series will find themselves playing through Golden Sun: Dark Dawn holding down B to run, even though your character is now always running.
  • In Dragon Quest V, the X will do many things, including talk to people, open doors, and searching; it's convenient compared to the menu, so you'll probably use it a lot. Dragon Quest VI remaps this to the Y button; you'll accidentally be remembering a lot of conversations instead if you're used to the X button.
  • Going from Monster Hunter Freedom Unite to any other third person game on the PSP will cause much confusion. The camera is controled with the D-pad, the shoulders control running and camera reset, and the joystick controls movement. This a setup unique to the one game, and attempting to play Renegade Squadron or Valkyria Chronicles II afterwards is very confusing.
    • Going from the Monster Hunter Freedom games on the PSP to Monster Hunter Tri on the Wii or backwards can be very frustrating at first. While the actual controls in battle are more or less exactly the same, the confirm (A on Wii, X on PSP) and cancel (B on Wii, Circle on PSP) are shifted around. Also, bringing up the menu (done by pressing the Start button on the PSP) is done on the Wii by hitting the Minus button. The Plus button is another attack button.
  • In Star Ocean 3, the Item Creation system was completely changed. Instead of consuming special items and waiting a few seconds for the result, in this game you instead pile in several people to make the items. The muscle memory comes in with a vengeance when you realize that certain items can only be created with a certain creator at a certain price range, sometimes single digit differences between what you want and something else.
  • The US release of Final Fantasy Tactics uses O for confirm and X for cancel, while the other PlayStation Final Fantasy games use the reverse (in Japan, they all work like Tactics). This is more or less endemic; most US games default to X to confirm and O to cancel, and most Japanese games do the reverse.
    • The PSP remake of the original game reversed the reversal, making X confirm and O cancel leading to some problems for fans of the original since actions can not be canceled after being selected.
    • Final Fantasy VII had the same problem as Tactics, making the set controls the Japanese version. Unfortunately, though you can change the control scheme, the chocobo menu wasn't coded properly for the changed controls, meaning that you can't navigate it if you switched X and O as a fan of a later Final Fantasy would almost certainly do.
  • In 99% of PlayStation 2 games, the right joystick controls the camera. This is almost true in Final Fantasy XII, where it controls the view. In other words, to pan the view to the right, you push the joystick to the right. Sounds intuitive to you? WRONG! In many third person action games, pushing the joystick to the right moves the camera to the right, thus the field of view is expanded on the left. Same goes for up/down controls.
    • The same complaint goes to Skies of Arcadia, at least the Game Cube port.
    • Fortunately, many, MANY games now allow players to select how they want that axis to function. Which is really standard and which is really inverted, however, is yet to be decided, leading to guessing before starting a game.
  • In Final Fantasy X, Triangle causes you to guard. In Persona 4, Triangle puts your party in Rush Mode (an auto-Attack! Attack! Attack! mode). This is even better if you're playing P4 on Expert difficulty.
  • For years, Start in the Pokémon games opened the menu, and an inventory item could be assigned to the Select button as a shortcut. Diamond and Pearl changed this completely; Start and Select are not used, the X button opens the menu, and the Y is the shortcut button. Damn You, Muscle Memory! will inevitably occur when switching between Diamond and Pearl and any previous-generation Pokémon game on a Nintendo DS.
    • There is at least an option to reenable Start as a menu button...but not in Pokémon Black and White. Although there, the menu is always on the bottom screen, so it's not so much of an issue.
    • Worse still, Pokémon Conquest reverted to using Start for the menu... and X ends your turn! (fortunately it asks for confirmation first, but still...)
    • Diamond and Pearl also messed with the battle screen so that you no longer pressed left + down to run, adding hours to the time spent getting away from Zubat.
    • Another example is your bag. Once upon a time, you could scroll quickly through your items using the arrow buttons. Now the arrow buttons move as quickly as a fat kid playing in mud and you have to use the touch screen to rotate a Poké Ball. And it takes FOREVER when you need something from the bottom of your bag and you have an snot-ton of items. And frequently you'll miss using the touch-screen, which becomes gradually more irritating.
      • This was avoided in the old games by having a cap of how many items you could keep in your bag. Any others could be stored on the player's section of the PC. Now, if you want to store items so the scroll list isn't as daunting, you have to attach them to Pokémon, which can make finding a stored item difficult and irritating.
      • If you press Select to move an item, you can scroll much faster through the list, even faster than you can spin the Poké Ball. If you press B when you arrive where you wanted to go in the list, you'll stay where you are and the item won't be moved. Sadly, TMs and berries, being numbered, can't be moved this way.
        • HeartGold and SoulSilver fix this problem by partitioning the bag into blocks of six items per screen. You only have to scroll on the touch screen a few times to get to the item you want. Also, you can scroll backwards from the first screen to reach the last set of items in your bag quickly.
          • This of course is infuriating when coming from Diamond, Pearl, or Platinum to HeartGold and SoulSilver, or vice versa. The bag, the menu, even the storage!
  • A rare example of muscle memory failure within a game: in Achaea, there are multiple worldwide chat channels. Each message typed is directed according to the prefix at the start. This can lead to players getting used to automatically rattling off their favourite channel's prefix - which is fine...until they're trying to say something private, and forget not to do it.
    • This is true for most any MUD, MUSH, or MUCK that has worldwide channels, and it's frequently hilarious.
  • Tales of Innocence looks and handles not unlike Tales of Symphonia in battle, but Innocence takes a page from Abyss's book and allows the player character to free-run by holding R.
  • Final Fantasy VIII, (unlike almost every other game with a save function) defaults to the last save slot that you saved to, not to the one you loaded from. This makes it ridiculously easy to save in the wrong slot, especially if you're sharing a memory card with someone else.
  • The most irritating thing about the PSP game Legend of Heroes IV: A Tear of Vermillion is saving. The confirm button in-game is the cancel button when saving, and vice versa.
    • This problem crops up a lot in PSP games, as they use a standard save/load API built into the firmware- if the game and XMB disagree over which button is accept and which is cancel, the controls will normally switch here.
  • Moving between Roguelikes is always a harrowing experience because all the monsters and classes are different, but this trope makes it even worse. As an example, some of the more crippling differences between ADOM and Nethack, two of the more popular roguelikes:
    • In Nethack, you can use yuhjklbn to move. In ADOM, you have to use the numpad.
    • In ADOM, all equipment management is done on the [i]nventory screen. In Nethack, you have to [W]ear and [T]ake off armor, [P]ut on and [R]emove jewelry, and [w]ield weapons. But in, ADOM, T changes tactics, P, W, and R display different kinds of statistics, and w turns a subsequent move into a long walk.
    • Perhaps the worst: In Nethack, you can to [Q]uiver your missiles to make shooting them easier...but in ADOM, Q is Quit.
    • Both in Nethack and ADOM is the possibility to reprogram the keybindings, though, so you can make them similar.
  • A few RPGs between the late 90's, early 2000, decided to be different and totally screw up the button mapping for no real reason. Examples:
    • Final Fantasy VIII's default mapping was as follows: X - Accept, O - Menu, Triangle - Cancel/Run. Funny when it's predecessor used the Japanese default controls and the successor used the US default controls.
    • All of the Breath of Fire games past 2 use something like: X - Accept, O - Run, Square - Menu, Triangle - Cancel/Special Action. A few of Capcom's other games followed this pattern too.
  • Go play The Elder Scrolls Oblivion on the 360. Now go play Fable II. Try to open your menu screen in the middle of a crowded town square. Lemme know what happens. If people aren't running away from you scared, and the menu screen pops up... you did it right.
    • Nevermind the differences between Fable II and the predecessor. Sprint became magic, and one button got at least three more functionalities, depending on context (which are easy to miss...how many times did you accidentally jump over, jump off, or dive into something?)
  • Switching between normal and arcade modes on Dissidia Final Fantasy can invoke this within the same game, since the characters available in arcade mode have fixed moves and button placements while normally both of these are available for customization. Protip: Either don't use the same character for each mode or match your moveset to the fixed one ahead of time and practice with it.
  • Most games use the X button to confirm, the O button to back out of a given screen; Xenosaga flips the two, resulting not only in moments of confusion while playing but also similarly irritating mixups while playing other games. Also, the Save Points and Menu? Reached with the Triangle button.
    • The fact that this particular problem (the standard functions of X and O are swapped in the East and West) is mentioned four times on this page should tell you something about how annoying it is.
  • Jade Empire's controls reset whenever the player runs the game. This is incredibly annoying since any custom scheme has to be remapped every time, and because the game is so old, it will never be patched.
  • Kingdom Hearts manages to use three different camera control schemes in all three PlayStation 2 games that have been released to date, as well as three different battle schemes (although KH1 and KH2's are relatively similar).
    • The final boss of Kingdom Hearts II has a final attack you must alternate pressing X and Triangle to defend against. Everything else in the game uses Triangle.
    • On top of that, when Kingdom Hearts came out, the only other real Squaresoft action-RPG (not counting the RPG minigame in Ehrgeiz) was Vagrant Story. The movement controls are the same. The camera controls are exactly flipped.
    • Not to mention using "X" to attack and "O" to jump is exactly opposite of...nearly every other PlayStation 2 game with a jump function.
    • 358/2 Days manages to switch the attack and jump button from its console counterparts. Cue frustration and deaths. Then, after mastering Days and feeling proud, try going back to the console games. Go on.
    • Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep has controls pretty similar to KH2's yet everything that was done with the Triangle button, opening chests, activating Save Points and talking to NC Ps, is now relegated to the X button, with triangle being what you use commands in your command deck, making it really easy to waste a potion.
      • And then Re: coded came along, using a variant of Birth By Sleep's Command Deck system. The DS use 4 buttons on its right side, arranged in a cross, much like the PSP. However, Birth By Sleep uses X (the bottom button) to perform basic attacks, and Circle (the right button) to jump. coded uses A (the right button) to jump, and B (the bottom button) to attack, inverting this, which can trip up people coming directly from Birth By Sleep. Also, the Air Dash has changed from hitting "dodge" in the air to hitting "jump" in the air.
  • The controls in the PC port of Mass Effect were as follows: E activates objects, L-Shift lets you sprint (or "Storm," as it is called in game), and holding Space brings up the power wheel. Mass Effect 2 completely reverses this, making the leap from 1 to 2 quite jarring: Space is now both the activate and sprint key, while holding L-Shift brings up the power wheel. E is then used to command one of your squad members. Fortunately, the keys are re-mappable.
    • In a similar vain, the PC port for Mass Effect 1 had R as the default key for...throwing grenades, the key that EVERY. SINGLE. OTHER. FPS uses for reloading! Granted, Mass Effect 1 doesn't require you to reload, but muscle memory for FPS players will make you hit R every time you have a break in the action, meaning usually you've just wasted a grenade, or are going to have to run for your life.
    • In Mass Effect, the B button would take you out of the galaxy map entirely, however muscle memory from other games indicates that this should have zoomed out a level instead. Mass Effect 2 switched this around, but it was too late for those who had managed to train themselves on the original control scheme. Once suitably unlearned, though, it made Mass Effect 1's galaxy even worse.
    • The console version of ME1 has an in-game example: during normal mode, the right bumper brings up the "powers" menu, pausing the game. During vehicle sections, the right bumper fires the cannon. Players with a biotic Shepard could easily train themselves to hit the right bumper whenever combat started, only to find that in vehicle sections that instinct made them waste cannon shots firing into the side of a mountain...
  • Considering the work gone into importing save games in Mass Effect 2, it's surprising that pause and run are now on opposite keys. In fact, pause is now on a completely different key to every other recent BioWare game. Going from ME2 to ME1/DragonAge/KOTOR results in pressing the Shift key repeatedly, until you realise you should be pressing Space. Also: going back to ME1? Don't press R... in ME2 it's reload, in ME1... grenade.
    • Also, grenades only exist as powers in ME2. See that cluster of enemies that have grouped up in one convenient blast radius? I hope you like reloading.
    • Similarly, when going back to ME1, players who where fond of melee attacks in ME2 will find themselves holstering their gun of the middle of the fight. A lot.
    • Hold X to change guns? When most shooters use Y instead?
  • Speaking of BioWare, switching between Dragon Age Origins and Mass Effect on the Xbox360 is a pain.
    • Dragon Age: Start = Pause menu (save/load/options/etc); Select Back = Game menu (inventory/equipment/quests/etc)
    • Mass Effect: Start = Menu (save/load/options/etc AND inventory/equip/missions/etc); Back = throw a grenade.
    • In Mass Effect 2, Start pulls up the menu, and Back holsters your weapon. In ME1, you holster your weapon by pressing B. In ME2, B is the melee attack. (Which, in ME1, you automatically do when you press RT while standing directly in front of an enemy. Now, in ME2, RT always fires your equipped weapon, no matter how close you are to an enemy.)
  • In Metal Walker, throughout the game you've been bouncing your partner off of walls to make bank shots and inflict the most damage. In the last dungeon, however, the walls are electrified and will hurt you. It's easy to forget this.
  • Heck, Dragon Age does this between its own games. While the controls remain mostly the same, the radial menu that handles most tactics has had its layout strongly altered between games. Strangely, most of the 8 items haven't changed, but only one of them (Talents/spells) is in the same place in both games. Most irritatingly, "Quick Heal's" spot in Origins is "Quick Mana/Stamina" in the sequel, so you may wind up burning your Lyrium potions/Stamina draughts as you die messily.
  • A series that can do this within itself is the Mario & Luigi series. In the first game, the Start button switches leaders from Mario to Luigi, and Select opens the menu. In the second game, you can't switch leaders, and Start merely pauses the game - however, you can separate from the babies, and you switch between them by pressing one of their buttons (A or B for the adults, X or Y for the babies). I guarantee you you will try to switch from babies to adults or vice versa by pressing Start. In the third game, Start switches leaders between Mario and Luigi again, and you switch to and from Bowser the same way that you do the babies in the second game. The second game also has the added confusion of having the hammer in battle mapped to X and Y, rather than A and B like all the other games. Even worse, later on in the third game Bowser gains the ability to jump... by pressing Y.
    • Enemies can do it too. Just get used to dodging attacks from endgame enemies, which usually require inhuman reflexes, and then try to fight ordinary Goombas. You will try to dodge MUCH earlier than you actually need to.
  • Dwarf Fortress did this to itself. In versions 40D and previous, Space pauses and unpauses. Space exits most menus. F9 exits menus with text entry. In versions 31.X (the numbering scheme was changed after 40d) Space pauses/unpauses, Escape exits all menus. The idea was to simplify the interface and allow menus to stay up while you toggle pause. It was recieved poorly.
  • Eternal Sonata attempts to do this within itself. For most of the game, using the Xbox 360 controls, B is for defense when attacked, A is for attacking, as well as counterattacking in special defense circumstances, and Y is for Special Attacks. Achieve Party Level 6 and opt to use it, however, and these three buttons are subject to what's known as the Moving Command: every time you use a Special Attack, including at each point in a Harmony Chain, the functions are randomly reassigned. (All other buttons, including X for item use, retain their functions.) Why would you put yourself through Party Level 6? Well, that gives you the ability to chain 6 Special Attacks (usually both attacks for the appropriate light level for each character) together, as opposed to only 3. Players are thereby encouraged to check the onscreen control scheme each time they activate one.
    • Gaining the ability to (for Xbox 360) press A to counterattack after training your thumb to press B to block for over two-thirds of the game can be frustrating.
  • The original Mount & Blade default controls used 1 to select everyone, 2 for infantry, 3 for archers", 4 for cavalry and 5 for "Others", i.e. those who aren't selected at that moment. The expansions added depth and changed the tactical interface, and thus, the controls: 1 is to selct Group 1 (normally, infantry), 2 for Group 2 (archers), 3 for Group 3 (cavalry), etc., with 4-9 being customizable groups, which means that when you would have wanted your archers to hold ground while cavalry and infantry charged, your archers and an empty group are charging, your cavalry is holding ground and your infantry is given no new orders. Of course, it is editable, but still.
  • The vast majority of MMORPGs use a fairly standard control scheme, with WASD reserved for normal movement while Q and E are for strafing. For reasons unknown, City of Heroes uses a default scheme wherein Q and E 'turn' rather than strafe, thus leading to infinite frustration if you're accustomed to other MMO schemes. It doesn't help that the game's right-click mouselook locks the camera into place after you release the key.
  • Play any modern first person games, then go back in time to Ultima Underworld. W is run forward, A is turn left, D is turn right, so far so good. S is walk forward, X is walk backward, E and Q are fly up and down, and J is Jump. Conventions hadn't really solidified yet at the point that this was released, and now it can be really difficult to get the hang of.
  • Tales of Symphonia has a couple, one with a contemporary game, one with a later game on a different system:
    • The battle system in Symphonia handles very similarly to Super Smash Bros Melee in the most basic respects: you angle the control stick and press A for normal attacks, B for special attacks. But in Symphonia, guard is mapped to X by default, while in Melee, X causes you to jump, and guard is mapped to the right shoulder button...which in Symphonia causes you to switch targets. Going from one to the other becomes frustrating very quickly.
    • In Tales of the Abyss, which is on PlayStation 2 instead of Game Cube, the special button is O, while the guard button is the square. The positioning of these buttons on the controller is more or less exactly reversed from the Game Cube controller's B (special) and X (guard) buttons. Fortunately, they can be swapped around by the player.


First-Person Shooters[edit | hide]

  • The vast majority of shooters on the Xbox 360 use either X or the right bumper to reload. While this makes switching between Gears of War/Halo and Call of Duty minorly irritating, it doesn't compare with the handful of games (Red Dead Redemption, Left 4 Dead) that insist on making B the reload button. Worse yet, the games that use B typically lack a control scheme option that puts reload on X or RB.
  • Also, shooters on the Xbox and Play Station 3 tend to use completely different control schemes. The Xbox uses the trigger buttons for shooting/punching and the shoulder buttons for secondary actions, which on the Play Station 3 it's the other way around. The "standard" settings for the four pad buttons (reload, use, jump, grenade) are also different positions between the Xbox and Play Station 3.
  • A particularly infuriating example is BioShock (series) 2; in the first game, when dealing with one of the game's Little Sisters you could choose to either save (for a good ending) or harvest (for a bad ending) her, which was done by hitting one of two buttons. The feature returns in the sequel, but for an inexplicable reason, the buttons are switched...
    • The BioShock (series) series in general uses a completely reversed control scheme compared to 90% of other console shooters. The use button and jump button and swapped, etc.
  • Start up Half Life (on the PlayStation 2) for the first time (ever) after playing any other game in history. If you've just been playing 360 nonstop for the past few days, remembering that the Left-Stick and the Keypad are in completely different places can be tricky, but you'll get used to it. But the fucking jump button? It's L1 (or as the 360 people call it, "LB"). What the heck kind of configuration?! Hope you like re-mapping it (thank God you can!) or just flailing about confusedly as you run about, since Gordon apparently lacks the ability to walk.
  • In a lot of First Person Shooters (all Valve shooters, for example), on the PC, the Q key switches weapons between the current weapon and the last weapon used. In Far Cry 2, the Q button throws a grenade. In all Call of Duty games, the Q button makes you lean to the left (except later Modern Warfare games, where it instead throws a special grenade).
    • On the same note, players who play Garrys Mod may find themselves bringing up the spawn menu when they wanted their previous weapon.
      • Pressing Q in Minecraft drops whatever the player is holding. So a player attempting to switch between items in their inventory might instead toss their diamond pick into lava.
    • Tribes 2 defaults to ESDF for movement, not WASD like damn near every other modern FPS, mostly because of all the dedicated binds for important things like throwing grenades, land mines, and beacons that need to be within easy reach. There is a stock WASD configuration, but players will have to set it manually. What makes this really Egregious is that Starsiege Tribes, Tribes: Vengeance, and Tribes: Ascend default to WASD, and the latter has a voice command menu and loadout shortcut menu that can't be rebound to ESDF.
    • In addition, Vengeance and Ascend have dedicated skiing keys and merged jump and jet key options, while skiing in Tribes 1 and Tribes 2 consists solely of holding down the jump key. This is partly because the skiing mechanic is an Ascended Glitch, one that was just mentioned in the manual in Tribes 2 before becoming a more distinct mechanic in later games.
    • Playing the Starsiege Tribes series and then playing its spiritual succesor Fallen Empire: Legions can screw you up indefinitely.
      • First of all, Legions has omnidirectional jetting and jetting on the ground. In Tribes, you can only jet upwards. Combine this with the faster gamplay, different button controls, and downjetting, and you get a totally confusing experience.
  • A common problem with console FPS, in particular in relation to aiming and inverted controls. The "normal" controls are generally tilting the the joystick up to aim up and to aim down you tilt the stick down, simple right? Well turn on the "inverted" option and suddenly up becomes down and down becomes up. While it comes down to personal preference which set-up is the "better" option, it can become jarring when the game doesn't give you the chance to choose between the two.
    • Even worse is switching back and forth between two people who play with opposite controls. Prepare to spend the first 30 seconds every time your turn comes up navigating menus to switch everything back to your play style.
    • The same problem appears in PC FPS with mouse control. A player who's used to flight simulators will probably choose the inverted mouse.
      • The worst part of all? Not everyone agrees on what "inverted" aim is! Build engine FPSs (Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, Blood, etc.) consider "push up, aim up, and vice versa" to be inverted!
      • This is specially jarring in games in which, for whatever reason, you can switch from third-person perspective to first-person. Or, more specifically, from moving-mode to aiming-mode. Many gamers prefer the moving camera and the aiming camera to have a different configuration while playing with gamepads, as it feels more natural, but some games force the same one. It's specially bad when a game's idea of "inverted" camera is only inverting one axis while other games consider "inverted" camera to invert both.
  • Clive Barker's Jericho has the primary and secondary fire switched. Left click shoots the grenade launcher, the shotgun, and throws grenades; right click does the standard actions.
  • Very bad idea: try going from Sniper Elite to any FPS or TPS. Not that you will face big problems... Until you get your hand on a sniper rifle. You'll never hit anyone, because you'll try to aim above their heads! (Sniper Elite features realistic sniping, and at long range you have to compensate for gravity, and aim a little above their heads. Very few other shooters simulate bullet drop at long ranges, with the possible exception of Battlefield: Bad Company and ARMA.)
  • Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 came out roughly at the same time. The controls are similar with the very important change that Halo's "pick up weapon / reload" button became "drop grenade" in Call of Duty. This led to multiple instances of one blowing oneself up, or other players.
    • Additionally, attempting to aim down the sights makes you go prone in every non-Call of Duty FPS.
      • Subverted by almost every FPS with iron sights released in the wake of Call of Duty 4. The default controls are almost exactly the same as Call of Duty 4s, with Circle/B as crouch and L1/LT is sights. In addition, many games that did not have Iron Sights in previous installments added them in.
      • The L Trigger, which is used to aim down the sights in Call of Duty, is used to throw a grenade in Halo 3. Ouch.
    • A similar "blow yourself up" bit appears when switching between Halo 3 and Rainbow Six: Vegas 2.
      • Or even between Halo 3 and the rest of the series.
    • Crysis 2 and the Call of Duty games both use L1/LT for sights and R1/RT for firing, Crysis 2 uses LB/L2 for armor and RB/R2 for cloak. What are L2/LB and R2/RB. for the latter? Throw 'nades. Oh dear. Also, go from the former to any other recent game. Sprint and then crouch. Wonder why you aren't sliding.
    • In addition, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on the PC moved "melee attack" from V to E. When pounced on by a dog in either game, there is a quicktime-like event where the player must hit the melee attack key with a specific timing to prevent death. It's very easy to hit V, miss the window, and get one's throat torn out. (Not that the dogs ever played fair with the timing anyway.)
    • And now we have Halo: Reach's default controls, which are quite a bit different from the default controls in any other Halo game. While the default controls place reload/action on X like it was in Halo 1 & 2, which can be easy to adjust to if you still play those two regularly, the biggest change is the placement of melee on RB and grenade toggle on B. Melee had previously always been on B by default, while RB was the default reload/action button in Halo 3. If you've been playing Halo 3 exclusively, you might find yourself meleeing when trying to reload or switching between grenade types when trying to melee. Fortunately, there's the "Recon" control layout, which is very close to Halo 3's default layout, with RB being reload/action and B being melee. However, even it differs from Halo 3's default controls, as grenade type toggle is on X instead of LB, while LB now activates armor abilities (in Halo 3, LB toggled grenades while X deployed equipment). Confused yet?
      • Not to mention if, while playing Reach, you get used to being able to zoom in with a pistol, or use night-vision—because you may find yourself stupidly trying to activate the latter in Halo 3, or wondering "where's the little crosshairs?" for the former. And don't even start with the differences between Reach's and any other Halo's Assault Rifle. What is this box-like thing I'm wielding?! (However, in its defense, the H3 pistol is insanely powerful.)
    • Also, Resistance: Fall of Man. Resistance was already hard. Stop making me go back over a section because you put 'throw grenade' where 'whack enemy across face until dead' used to be!
      • Especially aggravating because the player has seconds to sit and realize just how badly they screwed up before the grenade goes off. In an ironic twist, Resistance's grenades have decent and realistic splash damage as compared to other games' 'bunny fart' grenades. There's no way in hell you're getting away in time even with the three second delay.
        • Even worse with Killzone 2, where Resistance's grenade button becomes 'use'.
  • The Orange Box includes Portal and Half-Life 2, where pressing E picks up objects and opens doors, and Team Fortress 2, where it calls for a medic. Though, to be fair, TF2 doesn't have pick-uppable objects or non-automatic doors, and the other two games don't have medics.
    • Also, in The Orange Box on consoles, Snipers have a Medic addiction—because clicking the right stick calls for Medic rather than scoping in.
    • Try playing Portal, where both mouse buttons fire different portals, and then try playing the Flash game, in which Q and E fire one color each of the portals, the left mouse button fires alternating portals, and right click opens the useless Flash menu (which to be fair, can't be deactivated from within a Flash application).
    • Or go from HL2 to the first Half-Life 1 (even the rehashed Source version). You're being machine gunned, you want to sprint into shotgun range, you press shift... and start walking very slowly.
    • Play a Valve shooter, any Valve shooter, after playing Left 4 Dead. Whoops! You just blew yourself up with a grenade while trying to punch a Combine soldier with your MP7! Putting "bash zombie-skull with weapon" on the right mouse button was enough to cause this effect when moving from Left 4 Dead to any other PC shooter in existence, it seems.
    • Portal 2's controls include zooming in (on PC/Mac, it's set to the mouse wheel), something that doesn't exist in the first one.
  • The Metal Slug titles use the 'Fire' button to confirm all selections on menus. In the PlayStation 2 ports, this is the 'Square' button. Nearly every other game on the system uses the X.
  • The Xbox Live Arcade version of Ikaruga alters some enemy placements and bullet patterns. Not a big deal if you're just casually romping through the game, but when you're trying to go for those S++ ranks...
  • The 3rd Person Shooter Dirge of Cerberus decided to invert the camera control. When you push the right joystick right, the camera pans left and you get a view of the right, this is the exact opposite of the majority of TPS and is one of the main complaints of the game.
  • NES Shoot Em Ups Sky Shark and 1943. The former uses B for bomb and A for fire, and the latter flips them around.
  • Try playing this Flash version of Doom if you've ever played the original. I promise you, you'll be shooting at doors and trying to open enemies...repeatedly.
  • Battlefield is rife with this.
    • Battlefield 1942, Battlefield: Vietnam, and Battlefield 2 have the parachute on a separate key from jump. Battlefield 2142 onward merge jump and parachute into one bind.
    • Battlefield: Bad Company 2 does not allow you to go prone, unlike all the other games in the series. Also, you pick up kits with the same key used to enter vehicles, whereas BF1942 through BF2142 used a dedicated key for picking up kits.
    • BF1942 and BF: Vietnam use number keys 1 through 6 for switching seats in vehicles. BF2 and BF2142 use F1 through F6, because those seats that allow use of hand weapons use the number keys for weapon switching.
    • The worst offender? The number keys used for weapon switching. BF1942 through BF2 are pretty consistent, but then BF2142 puts the hand grenades on 7 and the medkit on 4 (along with defibrillator on 5), whereas the grenades always used to be on 4! This also messes up the order when scrolling through with the mouse wheel. With Bad Company 2, it's even worse now that hand grenades and the knife are not selectable items, so they moved secondary and primary weapons to 1 and 2, along with class extras like the medkit and defibrillator to 3 and 4! Trying to grab the right weapon by using those keys will now be an exercise in frustration if you don't remember to remap them first!
    • Bad Company 2 and BF: 1943 use the exact same control scheme except that the melee and switch weapon buttons have been reversed. Going to stab someone and accidentally pulling out a bazooka can end unpleasantly for everyone.
    • The gadget buttons have been switched between Bad Company 2 and Battlefield 3, leading to instances where you pull out your defibrillator when you meant to drop a medkit.
  • Two common actions in PC FPS games tend to be swapped around for some reason. For example, the "Use" command tends to be either E or F. (If you were playing Thief, System Shock 2, or Deus Ex, it'd be right-mouse-click, which will likely prompt an immediate remap.) The other is crouch, which is mapped to Ctrl or C. Another common action, if you're a multiplayer nut, that gets moved around is the chat command and the scoreboard command. For example, in Quake-engine based games, it's normally Y. However, in Unreal-engine games, it's T. For scoreboards, it's Tab in Quake and F1 in Unreal - Tab in Unreal brings up the quick console.
  • Just about everyone who went from Turok: Dinosaur Hunter to Golden Eye 1997 on Nintendo 64 switched the controls to 1.2 Solitaire. This lets you move with the Control Pad or C buttons and aim with the Control Stick like in a modern shooter.
    • A lot of people do the opposite, remapping modern shooters to play like GoldenEye's default setting, which like older shooters puts walking forward and back and turning on the Control Stick and aim up, aim down, and walking sideways on the Control Pad or C buttons. There seems to be two distinct camps on this, with neither one understanding how the hell the other can possibly play like that.
    • It can be particularly aggravating for anyone proficient in the Turok/Solitaire control scheme to move onto contemporary console FPSs. With the Solitaire scheme, the left thumb directs the player's view while the right thumb moves your character using the C-pad. Nowadays, the left thumb handles movement, and the right thumb directs the view.
      • You didn't put your left thumb on the D-Pad and the right on the analog stick with that control scheme? Problem solved if you can't get used to southpaw controls. Sure, it's a bit of a reach to the B and A buttons, but nothing too unmanageable.
  • More of a 'Damn you ingrained response' situation, but it turns out going straight from SWAT 4 to Call of Duty 4 is a bad idea, regardless of the identical numbering. Having your default response to a hostile be 'Shout compliance, shoot to scare' rather than 'kill em' doesn't work too well when F is now use and enemies don't surrender.
    • Similarly: Call of Duty 4 does not give civilians a weaponless running animation. Hence, in the mission "Death From Above" where you see everything as a thermal image, there's a pair of civilians the SAS team carjacks who on your first play through you'll probably end up shooting and getting sent back to the last checkpoint, simply because you were expected to realize that a pair of featureless white/black humanoid shapes running as though they have assault rifles without the SAS team's IR strobes are not actually enemies.[3]
  • Between two of the Splinter Cell games, they decided to change the "hanging from a pipe" controls. Everywhere else, jump was still jump and crouch was still crouch. When hanging from a pipe, where you once had to press crouch to jump down, or jump to pull your legs up, you now had the choices to crouch against the pipe or jump off... to your inevitable doom, as you shout "Don't jump in the sea! Why would I want you to jump in the sea!?"
  • For a devoted player of Time Splitters 1 and 2, picking up Mercenaries 1 or 2 is especially painful. Timesplitters uses R2 for main fire, while Mercenaries uses R1 to fire and R2 is change weapon. Timesplitters is an FPS, and Mercenaries is a TPS, so there's no problem... Until the first sniper mission, because using the rifle switches to a first-person camera.
    • Let's not forget Timesplitters 2 and Timesplitters: Future Perfect for the Game Cube, in which Future Perfect decided to swap many of the controls in the map editor, even though they function nearly exactly the same, feature-wise. They really didn't even add any new controls, just moved them around.
      • They also removed the secondary fire button (making you actually have to switch to secondary mode on weapons) and replaced it with grenade throw...
        • It's hell for anyone who picked up TSFP first, and then tried to play TS2. The C-Stick is used to aim, sure, but it won't stop moving back to the center of the screen! The option for a crosshair doesn't normally have a zoom-in feature, and melee just isn't possible (which made those damn zombies a hell of a lot harder to kill while reloading).
  • Fallout 3 especially, for it runs on the same engine as Oblivion (and the rest of the controls are the same, except for the buttons for taking out your weapon and going into third person mode are also reversed by default).
  • Hopefully you didn't play through Resident Evil 4 just before 5 came out. Your shoot and reload keys have been swapped.
    • Oh, its even worse than that. The standard control set (type D!) has you aim with left trigger, shoot with right trigger, and you STRAFE if you hit left or right.
  • The default controls in the PC version of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon put sprinting on the right mouse button. The Shift key, which is usually how you sprint in any other FPS, brings up the command map.
  • Fallout 3 and Left 4 Dead came out within a couple months of one another. Woe to anyone who went straight from one to the other, for in Fallout 3, the right bumper pauses the action and zooms in on the enemy for a quick kill, while in Left 4 Dead, the same button does a quick 180 degree turn.
  • System Shock (the classic original) came out shortly before WASD became the standard, and as a result, uses ASDX instead. It also pre-dates remappable controls, of course.
  • Dead Space 2 has several differences to Dead Space: Reloading is now X instead of Lt+A, Quick Heal is now B instead of X, Stasis is now Lt+Y instead of Lt+X and the inventory is now accessed by pressing Back instead of Y. This can lead to situations where the player tries to stasis an enemy, only to reload his weapon while said enemy proceeds to chew off his face. The layout can not be changed either.
  • Bodycount: R1/RB is throw grenade. L1/LB is lay mines. Melee isn't R3 like pretty much every other current FPS, it's O/B. R3 is Crouch.
  • Fur Fighters: the PlayStation 2 version had a control scheme that flew in the face of most if not all other shooters on the platform.
  • Xbox 360 shooters use Left Trigger and Right Trigger, the analog shoulder buttons. Play Station 3 shooters default to L1 and R1, the digital shoulder buttons. Red Dead Redemption used the 360 defaults, even on the Play Station 3, and Rockstar later released a patch to allow players to use L1 and R1. Also, X is jump, B is reload, A is run/sprint. You can see why this might be a problem.
  • In Deus Ex Human Revolution, the B / Circle button is the hand-to-hand takedown button. The problem is that it is also the "Back out of a conversation" button in nearly every other game in existence. So, a common occurrence is for a player to totalk to an NPC they didn't intend to, hit B to back out, and wind up accidentally cold-cocking the poor sap.
  • Call of Duty: World at War's tank controls. In the earlier games, the tank controlled like, well, a tank (strafe keys turned the tank's body, turret would turn with the body). In World at War, the tank controls were overhauled to work more like the on-foot controls (strafe only turns the tank until the body faces the direction you're holding, at which point it moves forward, and the turret stays oriented where you're aiming regardless of what direction you drive).
  • Serious Sam 3: BFE has an achievement for completing the campaign once through without sprinting, aiming down iron sights or manually reloading. Problem is, if you've played pretty much any recent shooter, you might easily slip up.
  • Not so much in the actual video game of Half Life, but when watching the Machinima Freeman's Mind the creator is using a character with a large amount of health, so it can be jarring to a person who has their own system of play when he skips medpacks, batteries and even weapons.
  • Players trying to interact with the environment in Rage may find themselves inadvertently reloading, since "use" and "reload" are assigned to different buttons. It doesn't help that the "use" button, X/A, is normally used for jumping, which in turn is mapped to Triangle/Y, normally used for switching weapons.
  • The remake of Syndicate has enough similarities with fellow EA-published Crysis, including the sprint-into-slide and automatic ledgegrabbing, that you might be confused when it isn't. L1/LB is Breach, not Maximum Armour; R1/RB is DART Overlay rather than Cloak. The real kicker, though, is when you double-tap Y/Triangle to get your 'nades out and wonder why they don't show up. It's hold Y/Triangle here.


Sports Games[edit | hide]

  • Several straight iterations of the PlayStation 2 and 3 versions of football games FIFA and Winning Eleven have had identical default control schemes...EXCEPT that the "shoot" and "cross" buttons are reversed. Cue a patient 20-pass move to get your player through on goal, and then facepalm when he crosses instead of shooting.
    • FIFA 12 takes this to whole new extremes by completely changing the style in which you have to defend. So players, having used the same simple button set for years, have to learn (what might be) new terminology just to avoid conceding.
  • Very confusing for the Gretzky NHL (2005) port on the PSP at least, in which in-game menu navigation uses X for enter and triangle for back, while the system menus (which do pop up in-game when loading or saving stuff) are X and O.
  • A fairly annoying occurrence in Madden '05 for the PS2 when the R1 and L1 buttons that were traditionally used for jukes were changed to the right analog stick. At first you were allowed to revert to the old system, in '06 however. They removed being able to change it to pre '05.
    • Also another occurrence from a few years later in Madden '09 would be replacing the kicking meter that used to work by pressing X 3 times in succession, to a brand new one that, yep, used the right analog stick again. Leading players to bring up the help screen whenever they pressed X. While fairly less annoying or damaging than the above example. It still took a while to get used to.
  • Who here has played Yooyuball on Neopets for any of the past five Altador Cups? Of those people, who are scoring a lot less this year than those past years?
  • Played The Smackdown vs. Raw series of games for a while? FINALLY gotten used to the "Ultimate Control" grappling system they've had in the last 5 installments? Well here comes WWE '12 which throws all that out the window and introduces an even newer grappling system. Good Luck making that transition!


Strategy[edit | hide]

  • In general either left mouse moves your units and right mouse selects/deselects, however in older games, like the early Command & Conquer games, it is the exact opposite. For example: playing Supreme Commander then finding Command & Conquer at a thrift store and playing it then loosing your Mammoth Mk. II because you were trying to tell it to attack the enemy and instead selected a group of light infantry.
  • The Total War series never settled on one set of controls for all of its games. Most aggravating are the camera controls, which for some God-forsaken reason in Napoleon (the newest one) went from the standard commands in Medieval II and Empire to Rome's (the earliest 3D game.)
  • In Famicom Wars / Advance Wars, you hit the primary key on an empty square to get the end-turn menu, because the series started on button-limited consoles (NES). Disgaea, on the other hand, started on the PlayStation, so it has a dedicated menu button. Going from playing Advance Wars: Dual Strike on the DS to playing Disgaea on the PSP is nice and confusing. Thankfully, they're both turn-based games, so you don't get killed because you're hitting the wrong button.
    • The Disgaea remakes fix this; you can open the menu whichever way you prefer.
  • Similarly, going between Disgaea and Final Fantasy Tactics, which are both isometric-perspective-based, is difficult, because the default d-pad layout is set up differently. In one, pressing "up" moves you up and to the left, in the other, pressing "up" is up and to the right. Forunately, you can change this on an options menu in both.
  • As another Strategy example, after playing X-COM, much difficulty will be had in other games of similar design, like Rebel Star and UFO: Alien Invasion due to the similar weapons names, differences in stats and AI, and the subtly different controls and mechanics involved. Expect much cursing as a soldier who'd normally survive in X-Com somehow gets picked off in UFO.
  • Most RTS games have a technique that lets you save a selected group of units with Ctrl-1 (etc.) and then just hit 1 to call them up again. Total Annihilation had this, except that you have to hit Alt-1 to call them up again, which is an awkward and scarcely used combination. So many people complained about pressing numbers out of habit and getting nothing that Cavedog changed it in the last patch before the company went bust.
    • TA uses Left Mouse Button= Move, attack, reclaim, what have you. Right Mouse Button= Deselect current unit or group. Spring, the 3D remake, reverses this.
      • Similarly, Command & Conquer games traditionally used the first scheme and Blizzard's (Warcraft and StarCraft) used the second...until Tiberium Wars, when EA inexplicably switched to something reminiscent of the Blizzard scheme...with some small differences like the "attack in this zone" command. Thankfully, starting in Kane's Wrath and Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, there is an option for classic C&C controls. Glorious!
  • The first two Age of Empires could be played with one mouse button (C&C Style), or two (Warcraft/StarCraft style). Age of Mythology had only the two-button option.
  • Compare trying to make units do something in Starcraft/Warcraft and Age of Empires to accidentally deselecting them in C&C Red Alert 2—the left mouse button and right mouse button got switched.
  • The changes between Homeworld and Homeworld 2 can be very irritating. Homeworld uses the left mouse button for selection and actions. Homeworld 2 uses left for selection and right for commands. It's also frustrating to forget that you can't pan in Homeworld, where you could in Homeworld 2.
    • Not to mention starting to play Homeworld 1 after being used to 2. In the second game, the "S" key orders your currently selected ships to stop, while Shift+Ctrl+X orders them to scuttle (instantly destroying the selected ships). In the first game, the S key..... issues a scuttle order. Cue my entire combat fleet self-destructing during mission 1. Not good.
  • In Command & Conquer, the "S" key is "Stop". In the first two Homeworld games, double-tapping the "S" key is "Scuttle".
  • Civilization 4 has an annoying example. In earlier versions of the game, if a unit in a city was active, the "enter" key would open the city screen. This was changed to the little-used "insert" key, which is not very convenient to reach, whether playing with both hands on the keyboard or with one on the mouse.
    • Civilization 5 has one before getting into the game. In Civilization 4, "Play Now" was used to set-up a standard game; you would choose the map type, size, difficulty, etc. In Civilization 5, a single click of "Play Now" starts a new game with the last options picked, into a long loading screen which cannot be cancelled out of.
  • Sword of the Stars II's interface is so different from the first that veterans may be even more confused than those new to the series.
  • Star Ruler mouse-based camera controls are... different.


Other Games[edit | hide]

  • In The Sims and its sequels, you can speed up game time by pressing 3. If you've been playing quite a lot (and since the game is a black hole into which many weekends disappear), don't be surprised to find yourself reflexively reaching for the 3 key to speed up slow processes on your computer - including the loading screen of the game.
  • In most PC games, pressing the "Esc" key will pause and pressing it again will un-pause. In Cave Story, pressing "Esc" once will pause and pressing it again will exit the game.
    • That's nothing. Earlier versions of MAME (the original one, not any of the spinoffs) quit immediately if you hit escape, unless you're in a tab menu. In that case, it goes back one menu. On the main tab menu, it closes the menu. Careful not to hit that key too many times, especially because most arcade games do not have any form of game saving aside from save states and high scores, so you're SOL if you quit without making a save state. For those curious, the P key pauses, but it's not absolutely clear without checking the default binds.
    • Even worse combination: From the pause menu, Cave Story uses F1 to go back to the main game and Esc to quit. Spelunky uses Esc to go back to the main game and uses F1 for the SUICIDE COMMAND.
    • A lot of Japanese PC games do this. So if you ever play a Japanese PC game, never press the Esc key unless you intend to quit!
  • In the Independently developed 'Ace of Spades' where Minecraft meets WWI. The 'Exit Game' function is the ESC key, which, in almost every other pc game ever brings up the menu screen. Often times resulting in accidental quitting.
  • First of all, we all know the pause button is the Start button, right? Well, some games have pause on the Select button, like Turtles in Time on the SNES and any Neo Geo game in home mode.
  • The Sega Saturn has a light variation. A and C are always "accept/confirm" buttons, while B is always "back". The problem is that games don't always agree on whether A or C should be the confirm button. Guardian Heroes is one particularly notorious case; A works fine in the menus, as does C, but scrolling through dialogue ONLY reacts to C. And if you use an Action Replay 4M Plus cart, only A accepts, never C. Hitting C on the Start Game screen sends you to the CD player menu instead.
  • Most Nintendo platformers copy Mario games in having the A button be the "jump" button and the B button be attack. The occasional game that switches things, such as the Metroid series and Mario Clash of all things, can be jarring, to say the least.
  • Any 3D game with camera control, because both X and Y axes can either be inverted or not - and many games don't allow you to change this setting, while others only allow you to change one axis.
    • This is confounded further as different games differ on what they consider to be 'normal' and 'inverted'.
  • Some early games that used isometric views had trouble getting the keyboard (or, I suppose, joystick) control straight. It is somewhat weird to press "up" only to have the character move to the top right direction. Examples include Q-Bert and Cadaver.
    • Q*bert strongly advises players to rotate the joystick so the fire button is at the top, so that the direction you moved the joystick corresponded with the direction the protagonist moves, at least on the Atari 2600 version.
  • The controllers for Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft consoles all have an X button. It is in a different position on each controller.
    • To make this simple to understand, the SNES (and Nintendo DS) buttons reading clockwise from top are X A B Y, while Xbox and Dreamcast are Y B A X.
      • Try using one, then going back to the other. Unless you know the game, you'll probably find yourself pressing the wrong button when prompted by the game.
    • Taken to the extreme by the Game Cube: not only are all of the buttons in a different place, but they are irregularly sized and placed in an irregular arrangement. Y and X are pushed over as the no-longer-circular top and right buttons, B is the smaller round button to the bottom left, and A is the bigger round button in the middle.
      • To make things worse, if you try and play a Super Nintendo game on the Wii Virtual Console with a Game Cube controller, the buttons are the same for each letter, not button placement. The SNES X becomes the GCN X, which makes certain games completely impossible. Take Contra 3 for example where Y shoots, B jumps, and A uses bombs... yeah just try jumping and shooting with that big bomb button in the way. The controls have no customization options at all, so you better own a Classic Controller.
      • Though games with custom controls like Super Metroid made the GCN controller more bearable.
        • The default controls though, were insanely hard to adjust to, requiring uncomfortable thumb-twisting and finger maneuvering.
      • The Donkey Kong Country series is basically impossible to play without a Classic Controller; the configuration on a Game Cube controller goes beyond muscle memory and into sheer insanity. Y rolls and runs, B jumps, and the giant button in between them switches characters and gets off animal buddies.
  • In Japan, the standard for Playstation game menus is O to select or confirm, and X to go back or cancel. In North America, the standard is X for select/confirm and O (or triangle in older games) for back/cancel. Even some games like Sonic Heroes got released here with the menu scheme. Makes sense when these symbols have a meaning in Japanese culture. O (maru) means yes and X (batsu) means no.
    • Just try to play Japanese version of any Playstation game, and then switch to English version of exact same game. You'll be screwed.
    • On the Play Station 3, the circle button is now the back button, and the triangle is extra options (in the XMB).
  • Space sims don't all use the "like an airplane In Space" model of Wing Commander, Star Wars: X-Wing, and the like. In more realistic games that have at least make a passing nod to Real Life physics. For those who use both methods, depending on the game, it can be confusing to attempt a maneuver in one Game Engine physics model, while actually using the other model.
    • A particularly good example is Free Space 2, specifically the fan-built Source Code Project engine upgrade. One release implemented Newtonian physics as an option, essentially just to prove they could (It's since been used by a couple of mods). Switching this on in the main campaign would result in hilarity, as the AI pilots no longer had any idea how to fly their ships.
  • Switching between Animal Crossing: Wild World and the DS game Magician's Quest: Mysterious Times can cause some serious awkwardness in the An Interior Designer Is You segments. In Animal Crossing, the A button moves and flips furniture, as well as activates certain items. Others (like chairs and beds) can be used simply by walking into them. The B button picks up furniture. In Magician's Quest, though, the A button picks up furniture, while the B button is the one used to move and flip it. To make it more confusing, the Y button is used to activate it (such as opening dressers), and to sit in chairs or lie down on beds.
  • A good way to start an argument on an indie game design forum is to put the jump/shoot functions on 'Z' and 'X' "backwards". Which way is considered backwards? Whichever way you're using. Do yourself a favor and just make the controls remappable.
  • You can edit the control scheme for the original PS 1 version of Tales of Destiny, but its default setting has O as select/attack and X as cancel/special skill- the opposite of every other Tales game released in America on a Sony console.
  • The Xbox controllers have two buttons, black and white, and every controller has them in radically different places. My personal favourite was they were over the triggers, on either side. For this reason, someone using this will use triggers with their middle fingers, and use their index fingers for the black and white buttons. However, on other controller designs, they can be on the lower left, lower right, upper right, or possibly elsewhere.
    • Many fighting games with six attack buttons were obviously designed with the original (giant) Duke controllers in mind. Quite a nuisance on other controllers, where you have to reach all over the place for those extra two attack keys.
  • This was endemic enough among the DOS Side Scrollers that games assigned jump to up, space, Z, X, control, and shift, and shoot to any of those except up.
  • This trope can cause Fatal Frame players to panic when switching from the first game to the second (or vice-versa), especially when the ghosts manage to come right up to you as you try to figure out just which button is for raising the camera.
    • Additionally, the developers also screwed players for the sequels, since they removed the "quick-turn" function while in viewfinder mode. The function disappeared completely for some reason and the button for it is used for whatever it's mapped for in subsequent games.
  • Besides the points above, the Nintendo DS is almost a whole game system that's guilty of this trope. Again, the system has the exact button layout as the SNES. However, most Nintendo-published games for the system have elected to make the A button the main/jump button for each game, even though back in the SNES era, B button was your main/jump button and Y was your second most used action button. Nintendo has a bad habit of not giving you any way to remap the controls, either, since Viewers are Morons. It's most glaring in the above mentioned Kirby examples, especially in Super Star Ultra, which is an Updated Rerelease of an SNES game that use the B/Y controller style and forcing you to use Nintendo's now preferred A/B style. It's also very annoying when you play a Game Boy Advance game on the system, since they have to saddle you with the A/B style since some players might get confused if they had the option to remap the controls to B and Y, so it's partially justified.
    • Not to mention the trouble switching from GBA to the DS Phat layout. On the GBA, you can mash the D-Pad's "Up" button with wild abandon (tends to be when walking/running somewhere in a game). Move your finger a little too high on the DS Phat, and congratulations! You've just shut your DS off! (often times, without saving what you just did). At least this is rectified on the DS Lite model, where the Power button is now conveniently moved to the side as a switch instead.
    • Note, however, that third-party titles tend to avert this, as their developers are either clearly fans of the old SNES B/Y style, have options to remap your controls, or both; such as the DS Castlevanias or the Mega Man ZX games.
      • Unfortunately, the ability to remap your controls in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow only works during the regular gameplay. When playing in Julius Mode your controls cannot be changed. This is annoying when you've played through the original twice with the controls in a particular way, then you decide to play as Julius.
  • The Looking Glass Studios sneak-em-up games Thief: The Dark Project and its sequel The Metal Age allowed the player to save their key bindings under a specific name. It also came with several popular sets already pre-installed. These had names such as "Quake" and "Half Life", mimicking the controls in those games.
  • Any PC game that assigned particular meanings to CTRL and ALT (such as many FPS including Wolfenstein 3D and Doom using them for "fire" and "strafe") was subject to this when the "Windows" key first appeared between CTRL and ALT on new keyboards. Depending on what OS you were running, accidentally hitting the Windows key instead of CTRL or ALT would at best do nothing, and at worst switch you out of the game entirely (such as when running a DOS-based game under Windows 95).
    • Also, press Shift 5 times in a row, and be ready to leave your game due to a window warning you of StickyKeys...
  • Tetris the Grand Master 3:
    • Classic Rule: Pieces spawn horizonally pointing down. First button rotates counterclockwise, second rotates clockwise, third rotates counterclockwise.
    • World Rule: Pieces spawn horizontally pointing up. Four of the seven tetrominoes have their colors shuffled around. First button rotates clockwise, second rotates counterclockwise, third rotates clockwise. And the first and second parts also apply to any "official" modern Tetris game.
      • This isn't Arika's fault, notably. The guideline requires that the rightmost rotation button be CW. Before Arika was simply following their established convention, and kept it with the classic rotation rule.
    • Tetris: The Grand Master 4 is slated to replace the third rotation button, used by some players to achieve a quick 180-degree rotation, with an instant autoshift button. This Is Gonna Suck.
  • Shooting games, notably First Person Shooters, tend to mush up button assignments for commonly used actions.
    • Between Play Station 3 games and Xbox 360 games, the button to shoot is typically on the same side, but swapped. On PlayStation 3, it's normally the shoulder button that shoots. On the Xbox 360, it's normally the trigger button that shoots. There are some PlayStation 3 games that use the trigger to shoot though.
    • Similarly, grenades and secondary firing.
    • As a video game specific example, the Uncharted series uses the R2 button to reload. Most First Person Shooters use Square.
  • Switching from Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers to Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers leads to some confusion. They're both 3rd person adventure games, but the position of the camera adjust and the menu have changed. The camera adjust is the d-pad in FFCC (which serve as taunts and other things) while it's -/+ in BZS. Menu is 1 in FFCC (special in BZS) while it's 2 in BZS (which is the camera function in FFCC). I'm sure most people probably don't have that issue since BZS is a pretty obscure game, and all the reviewers have a thing against it...
  • Try switching from an RPG on the Nintendo DS, where the confirm button is on the right and the cancel button is on the bottom, to one on the PSP, where confirm is on the bottom and cancel is on the right. Or, better yet, don't.
  • Visual Novels vary in keyboard controls. The most common control scheme has down advance to the next line, up scrolls back to the previous line, and spacebar hides/shows the dialogue window. However, some games (Type Moon games in particular) use spacebar to advance to the next line, and only use down to scroll down through the lines you've previously read. Whether page up and page down function the same as the up and down arrows or have their own unique function also varies from game to game.
  • The Nintendo Wii's Classic Controller. Unlike the Game Cube controller (with the analog stick in the upper left and the D-pad below it and to the right), it has the D-pad in the upper left and the analog stick below it and to the right.
    • One other issue, if you try to switch between the Classic Controller and a Game Cube controller, is that the Z button is in front of the R button on the Game Cube controller, but the Z button(s) is to the left of the R button on the classic, and at the middle. As an example, even if the other button placement issues are worked around, someone experienced with using the Game Cube controller in Super Smash Bros. Brawl will continually block when trying to throw and vice-versa. There is a Classic Controller Plus, however, which is slightly bigger and easier to hold, and moves the Z buttons to be more like the left & right bumper/L1 and R1 on the other consoles' controllers.
    • Also, the way the Classic Controller's handles angle out instead being in a straight line like every other freaking Nintendo controller in existence! It's not much of difference, but it's just of enough of a change to make you have to relearn how to move the control stick for classic games.
  • Don't download any Super Nintendo games on the Wii Virtual Console unless you're prepared to buy a Classic Controller, because the button configuration on the Game Cube controller is so different that the controls may as well have been given a triple swap. For example, it's nearly impossible to jump and run at the same time in the Donkey Kong Country games. It's tempting to save the money and just tough it out, but seriously, it's not worth it.
  • Who here wants to bet that, at least once, they'll shut their 3DS down instead of pressing 'start'? Putting the power button where 'start' and 'select' used to be might not have been such a great idea...
    • Not even a bet. To make matters worse, it takes you to a screen where you have the option of either shutting it off or putting it into Sleep Mode. Since it then instructs you to do what most people do when they want to enter Sleep mode (for example, closing the system) this is not only redundant, but unlike closing the system, you're booted out of the game with no way to get back but to restart it.
      • How about someone admit that at least once s/he scratched the side of the console only to remember that stylus is behind it?
  • Do not try to play Minecraft after playing the similar yet 2D Terraria. In Terraria, you use the left mouse button to place items. In Minecraft, this is used to attack things. You will also get into the habit of pressing Esc to open your inventory. A lot.
    • Considering that in Terraria, it can also be used to attack things, it's not too big of a transition. Ignoring the escape button, of course.
    • Also, do not try to play Minecraft after playing any game where multiple attacks on a single object require multiple presses of the attack button. At least, not if you want to actually collect wood.
    • Many multiplayer servers have commands you can use to teleport, which are often used to warp away from trouble. Have fun going back to an unmodded single player world and trying to type /home when you're being mobbed by Creepers.
  • After Atari's buy-out on Humongous Entertainment, they tried to recreate Pajama Sam and Putt-Putt. Not only did they fail, but they changed the key for skipping cut scenes from Escape to Enter (with Escape now functioning as an additional way to access the Main Menu). This left many under the impression you could not skip cut scenes.
  • In Touhou, go play Fairy Wars for a a while and then go back to the main series. Then die a dozen times before remembering that you can't freeze enemy bullets in the main games.
    • Going from the photography games to the others is the most 'fun'. You don't directly attack enemies in the photo games, which can really screw up your dodging reflexes, and the way it handles focus[4] can lead to forgetting to fire.
    • In the photograph games, the correspondence between the buttons in game and in the menu are inconsistent with the rest of the games:
      • Shoot the Bullet has Shot, Slow and Cancel (no bomb button). In game, Cancel pauses, being the only game where this happens. Slow also cancels in menu, the rest of the games cancel with Bomb.
      • Double Spoiler, like Shoot the Bullet, let's you cancel with Slow, as well as a with the new Rotate button. Unlike Shoot the Bullet, neither of them pauses the game, just in case you were getting used to that.
  • Bullet-Proof Software's version of Tetris for the Famicom used the down button to rotate (counterclockwise rotation only, of course). A dubious choice, even considering that this was the first console version of Tetris ever.
  • Bomberman usually isn't too bad with this, but try going from Bomberman 64 or The Second Attack!, where double-tapping A drops a bomb and then Bomb Kicks it from a stationary position, without having to move off of the bomb and back into it, to Saturn Bomberman or Bomberman Generation's Battle Mode, where that does Line Bomb instead! (And speaking of Saturn Bomberman, all control configurations use C as the bomb button, not A.)


Examples from other Media:


Automobiles[edit | hide]

  • An example that could prove slightly dangerous for your health is when you travel outside your home country to somewhere where people drive on a different side of the road. Which also puts the steering wheel on the other side of the vehicle. You might want to take a while to get used to this before driving in city traffic.
  • The rising popularity of semiautomatic transmissions has caused this trope to occur somewhat. With the center console shifter, some have you pulling back to shift up (like racecars) and others push forward (push up, gear up) and I think some even operate by moving the shifter sideways. The paddles may operate differently as well. On some, pulling one paddle shifts up and pulling the other shifts down. On others, pulling either paddle will shift up and pushing either paddle will shift down, or vice versa. Plus, on some cars the paddles are stationary and on others they rotate with the steering wheel.
  • Most vehicles with automatic transmissions have a brake pedal that's one-third-again to twice as wide as that provided on manual versions, with the extra width going well into the zone where the clutch pedal would be. Result? If you're used to Driving Stick but occasionally drive automatics, you will clip the brake pedal while going down for the clutch that isn't there, at least once.
  • Anyone who has a regular, daily commute will, at least occasionally, get in the car to go somewhere in the evening or on the weekend—and automatically start going to work.
    • And one more - most cars have the indicator stalk on the side of the steering wheel opposite the gear lever (theoretically to share out the work of changing gears and indicating, although that's less of a problem with automatics). This isn't normally swapped when a car is changed to right or left-hand drive - with the result that most English and Japanese cars have indicators on the right, and American and European cars have them on the left. Cue starting one's windscreen wipers before changing lanes...
      • Australia has a similar problem, albeit worse when a model is initially designed in Europe and released with that setup, then converted to the English/Japanese layout for a couple of years, especially if its being manufactured in Australia, and then switched back because of a re-design by the original team, or the Australian plant is now producing primarily for export to those countries while reducing overall output of that model to make way for a new one...
      • This must be an English trope, since the U.S. Government mandates all cars sold here have turn signal stocks on the left: antiques, customs, and gray-market imports are the only exceptions.
    • Speaking of windshield wiper switches, some cars have them laid out with "off" as the uppermost position, others have "off" as the lowest one, and some have it in the middle, with seemingly no rhyme or reason as to which is which.
    • Not to mention older cars that put the gear shift on a steering wheel-mounted stalk. That's not just embarrassing; it's dangerous!
    • And just try having a different gear layout in a manual car than you're used to...
      • In particular, a lot of permutations exist in the reverse gear of manual gearboxes, as evidenced by the Driving Stick page image. Some cars require you to pull a catch up into the top of the gear-knob with your first two fingers, before sliding the gear-stick to the left (past First Gear). Others have the reverse gear underneath Fifth. Still others have it to the right of Fifth. God help you if get that wrong.
    • Or motorcycle. Most modern ones have a sequential gearbox that has the (foot-operated) lever on the left, with 1-neutral-2-3-4-(5)-(6), moving the lever up to select a higher gear. The right foot operates the rear brake. Some not quite that modern ones have the lever on the left but the sequence reversed (down to select higher), and a fair number of older British bikes have the lever on the right (with either pattern), the rear brake on the left.
      • Or try going from a motorcycle to Driving Stick in a car. Your shifter goes from left foot to right hand, the clutch from left hand to left foot, the gas from right hand to right foot, and the brake you usually usse from right foot to left foot. Needless to say, I can't drive stick. Without giving people heart attacks.
  • You move to a different part of town and you still drive to the old place.
  • In countries that drive on the left hand side (if you're used to the right hand side) may get into the passenger seat of those cars. A fun trick in case you do happen to make this mistake to make it seem like you're not a total idiot is to "check the glove box"
    • If you're visting a foreign country and decide to call a taxi, you may find yourself getting into the driver's seat instead of the passenger's if you have family sitting in the back.
  • Either going from regular steering to the much softer hydraulic power steering (just pushing the wheel a little bit can make a car change lanes) or the inverse (the strength used with hydraulic steering isn't enough for an effective turn).
  • As a crossover, spending too long playing driving games can be really bad for you behind the wheel, since there'll be a little voice in your head saying you get out of reverse by accelerating.
    • And God help you if the first thing you did before getting in a car was playing a Grand Theft Auto game...
  • Many automatic transmission trucks and vans with automatic transmissions have the emergency/parking brake as a foot pedal, small and close to the outside of the car. Sometimes, there is a release lever above the pedal, under and to the left of the steering wheel. Sometimes, the "release" is achieved by pressing on the pedal a second time. In the latter case, car engineers still like to stick a lever in the same place as the "parking brake release lever", but instead of releasing the brake, it instead pops the hood.
  • Driving different cars may take some time to get used to. For example, driving a car with a brake pedal where the stopping power isn't as gradual, then driving a car where the stopping power is. Even after driving the first car for an hour or so, you may stop the second car with more push on the brakes than necessary.
  • Buy a little sportscar after years of older, larger sedans and get ready for a month of close calls as the freakin' car changes lanes by itself every time you reach for the radio or look in the side mirror. Then, once you get used to the near-telepathic steering, rent a large U-Haul truck... more close calls as the behemoth stolidly insists on boring straight ahead into walls, fences, and the less-attentive children.


Computers[edit | hide]

  • Sometimes muscle memory can prove to be not so bad - especially when your friends decide to switch some keys for fun. Then all you have to do to ruin their joke is just not look at the keyboard, and you'll type like normal.
  • Macintoshes use the open Apple (A.K.A.: Command) key as their standard "meta" key for keyboard shortcuts, while Windows spreads most of the same shortcuts between Control and Alternate. Home/End goes to the start/end of a line in Windows, but to the beginning/end of a document on Macs (Apple-Left/Right goes to the start/end of a line.) Damn them.
    • Worst is when you're used to using Apple, and you ARE using an Apple, but the Microsoft program you're using changes the behavior of the keys. Or even a Microsoft web application. In Hotmail, command-left is intercepted by the page's JS and sent to the browser as a warning dialog reading, 'You have work on this page. Are you sure you want to go back to a previous page?' even though if they just left the normal text editor behavior in place it wouldn't be a dangerous operation at all! (for example, you can command-left in the subject bar to get to the beginning of the line).
    • The QWERTZ layout for Windows has/used to have @ on [alt gr]-Q. Apple's standard shortcut for the keys in the same position on quits the program.
    • While we're in PC-to-Mac typing, good luck writing in an accentuation-heavy language in a Mac (the keyboard doesn't have all the accents in separate keys, the programs don't accentuate automatically, and it's usually done with key combinations - and how do you find them out without instructions?).
  • Any switching between different keyboard layouts, especially where the key printing and system setup differ will be extenuatingly frustrating. This is most noticeable in non-alphanumeric characters, obviously.
    • This is just one of the reasons why the "Dvorak" keyboard layout has never really caught on; everyone's too used to the standard "QWERTY" layout.
      • Well, everyone except those who are used to "QWERTZ" or "AZERTY".
    • You'll find yourself in a whole new world of pain when you start trying out foreign language keyboards. Often the letters and numbers are the same but the punctuation is different. For example: Japanese keyboards use the capslock key to switch between romaji and hiragana. Apostrophe is shift-7. It makes sense when you're typing in Japanese, but...
      • Even worse than Japanese is attempting to type Cyrillic on a Latin alphabet keyboard. When typing Japanese, you can get away with typing the 'romaji' and letting the computer translate it into hiragana for you. No such luck for Slavic languages. For the longest time you're going to hunt and peck at a snail's pace until you fully memorize which letter on your keyboard represents the letter you need.
    • Fortunately, phonetic keyboard layouts, which map the Cyrillic letters to their Latin equivalents, exist. Or just use the on-screen keyboard.
    • Even if the keyboard happens to follow the QWERTY design, punctuation marks can be messed around with, making things annoying when half the keyboard is the same, but the other half is totally mixed up e.g the Japanese layout. While it makes sense that say double quotes is where @ would be, it gets jarring to use the layout when typing English. Also the space bar is a little smaller due to extra function keys next to it.
    • Switching Keyboards between France or Belgium (using AZERTY) and most other European countries (using QWERTY) can be a pain since so many keys are still at the same place, just not all of them. Especially frustrating when you're typing your password.
  • It's fairly common for small laptops to have slightly smaller keyboards (90% size or similar). It's amazing how difficult this apparently small change can make it, especially when one is a reasonably fast typist on normal keyboards.
    • Relatedly, even the resistance of the keys can affect your typing. When switching to a less resistant keyboard, it's easy to end up holding the button down too long. Switching to a more resistant keyboard makes it likely that some keys won't be pressed down hard enough.
    • This is true for switching between almost any keyboard. While many keyboards are built very similarly, it only takes a small change in key size, spacing, or even just key texture to completely screw with your muscle memory.
  • Switching between standard and ergonomic keyboards, even if they have the same key layout (i.e. qwerty), can be difficult because of the way the keys are positioned, their sizes, and the elevation of an ergonomic keyboard. Ergonomic keyboards aren't produced very much any more.
    • If you're a fairly fast touch-typist, it's entirely possible to hit the central plastic divider-thing between the two halves of the keyboard hard enough to be physically painful when going for a 'g' or an 'h'.
  • Some modern keyboards have three extra keys: "Wake Up, Sleep, and Power." The "Power" key is located right above the pause key.
    • Even worse example - these keys as a third row under Home, End, Delete, Page up, page down block.
    • IBM (now Lenovo) Think Pad keyboards have an annoying Back key above the left arrow, and forward key above the right arrow. Imagine: You are playing a game on the Internet and want to hit the left arrow key. You accidentally hit the back key. Damn. Now you have to start all over. Even experienced Think Pad users get caught out by this one.
    • Better yet: what about a tower case that has the reset switch on the upper right-hand side, right next to the optical drive eject switch?
    • And how about one that has a big, fat, round, reset button right where the power button is on others, and looks a lot like one, while the power button looks as un-power-button-like as possible? The trouble starts when you try to turn it on. "GAAAH WHY ISN'T IT WORKING?!?" Cue Face Palm when you discover the power button.
  • Some mouses have "back" and "forwards" buttons on the left side of the mouse. For anybody who tends to clutch the mouse and isn't used to this setup, this can be very frustrating at times.
    • Also, you can't turn them off without installing the correct drivers, but even then they don't always work, so you're stuck with them.
  • ANY keyboard that has "Fn" where Control is supposed to be.
    • Likewise, keyboards that put caps lock where control should be.
    • Speaking of the Fn key, there is a keyboard that has F9-F12 default to play/pause, stop, skip back, and skip forward respectively, forcing the user to hold Fn for F9-F12. What, they couldn't make new buttons on the side for those?
      • Try the Dell Inspiron 1545. Not only do the F9-F12 keys require you to hold Fn, ALL OF THE FUNCTION KEYS (besides F6) DO. They could have easily switched controls to holding Fn for the extra commands. On the flipside, Fn does mean function. I guess they wanted their keyboard to make sense, literally. At least the Inspiron Mini 1012 lets the user switch this behavior in the BIOS settings.
        • Though, if the 1545 is anything like the 15R (which I have), you can change it so you don't need the Fn button to use F9 as opposed to, say, increasing the volume. I'm not sure the exact whereabouts of it, but a quick search in help files (or google) could help you find it.
      • The Apple Aluminum Keyboard does this for F1-F4 and F7-F12, but it can easily be set to use Fn+key for the special functions.
      • As far as the PowerBooks go, the WallStreet PowerBook G3 and prior had the function keys default to actual function keys, though a system preferences option would allow you to invert this. The later Lombard PowerBook G3 inverted this to make the function keys act as brightness and volume controls, among other things (partially because those functions no longer had dedicated switches like the WallStreet did), and it stuck for Apple 'Books since.
    • Try adjusting from a Commodore computer. The function keys are not only shift-key-sized and to the right of the main keyboard, but they're doubled up. F2 is Shift+F1, for instance.
      • Ever tried to write up CBM BASIC code on the PC... You'll be trying to push Ctrl and/or open the Windows Start menu a lot when actually the Shift-Key is what you wanted...
    • On an Apple MacBook, Fn+F1 turns down the brightness. On a Dell Vostro laptop, Fn+F1 puts the computer into hibernate.
  • Each keyboard has a different shape for the Enter (carriage return) key. The thing is, the [| \] key is placed in a different position depending on the Enter key's shape. The first two examples are shown here.
    • If the Enter key is rectangular, the [| \] key is a shorter rectangle key on top.
    • If Enter is in an upside down (inverted) L shape, [| \] is a square key to the right of the [" '] key and under [{ [] and [[} ]].
    • If Enter is in a backwards L shape, [| \] is a square key to the left of Backspace, shrinking it.
    • Some IBM compatible keyboards from the late 80's had vertical ENTER keys.
  • Speaking of the [| \] key, some keyboards have an extra [| \] key just to the left of the Z key, which unfortunately takes up half of where the left Shift key should be. As if one [| \] key wasn't enough. \try hitting the left \shift key on those keyboards and not accidentally typing like that.
    • There also have been regular keyboards where the left half of the space bar is replaced with an extra backspace key. This does not refer to ergonomic keyboards.
      • The person who thought up putting in a left hand bottom backspace key will be subject to a nasty accident involving as many of those keyboards that haven't been obliterated by their users already, and the contents of the "ergonomics" section of several well-stocked booksellers.
  • Some keyboards have a long Backspace key, roughly the size of three regular keys, while some have a short one, the size of ONE regular key. If you're accustomed to the long key and switch to a keyboard with the small one, prepare to constantly keep writing while you're actually trying to erase.
  • The laptop that I am writing this on has the end key to the right of the up key. So just a while ago, I was going to look at something when I went to the end of the page JUST BECAUSE MY FINGER SLIPPED!
    • Similarly some laptops have they Home key directly to the right of Backspace, making it far too easy to find yourself at the beginning of a document while trying to fix a typo.
  • Some operating systems and other security systems can be configured to require that users periodically change their passwords, a common policy on corporate/government/university networks. Guess what usually happens the next time that user tries to log in...
  • Keyboard numpads usually have 7 at the top-left and 1 at the bottom-left. Numpads for entering PINs to access bank accounts at ATMs or telephone dialling have 7 at bottom-left and 1 at top-left. If you use a letter-based mnemonic to remember your PIN/password and do online banking, well, I think you don't have to be a Genius to see where I'm going with this.
  • Common in most Latin alphabet keyboards, but especially annoying on British keyboards if you're American. All the keys are in the same place, although shift+ 2 gives you quotation marks, not @. (the apostrophe+ shift key gives you @.) The left shift key is twice smaller than an American one to make space for a `/~ key right next to it. Typos, confusion, and rage ensue every time.
    • Oh, and to make things worse? Apple lays things out completely differently to every other manufacturer. " and @ are in their American locations on Apple's British keyboards, # is Alt-3 rather than a separate key, and ~` and \| are all juggled around. Being a user of both Mac and Windows is confusing enough as it is, but it's doubly confusing in the UK.
    • You can see this change happen right before your eyes in Acorn's lineup. The A3010, made in 1992, gives @ from its keyboard's shift+2. Fast-forward just two years to the Risc PC, and they're the other way round.
  • Some keyboards have a new "lock" function, known as F-Lock. By default, F-Lock is off, which pressing any of the F keys will do one of the special functions. Turning F-Lock on allows the F-keys to perform as they should. This is fine for people who usually never mess with the F keys, but for most of the world, it's jarring to find out that pressing a commonly used F key will instead eject your CD/DVD tray. Thank goodness for the Fn key.
  • German and English keyboard layouts. Perfectly the same except that Y and Z are switched, the ( ) are moved one space, and some other minor things. Can get quite confusing if you have to use em both.
  • And of course there is the original QWERTY design itself. It was designed by Christopher Sholes for the explicit reason of keeping people from typing too fast. Keys next to one another, if pressed together in succession, would jam together. This was solved by placing common letter pairs (such as "SH" or "TH" and separating them on the keyboard. This also had the side effect of slowing typists who were unfamiliar with the keyboard layout, also helping to hide the problem until better mechanisms were introduced.
  • Some smart phones rearrange buttons slightly on different iterations. While the QWERTY layout was the same on both the Samsung Blackjack II and the later iteration, the Jack, which ones did which symbols when the Function key is hit changed. Most annoying when you're trying to unlock your phone (which requires hitting S on the Blackjack II, but Z on the Jack).
    • Android phone's keyboards leave the little-used voice entry button right next to the end-of-every-sentence period.
  • Some keyboard layouts group the F keys in sets of three instead of the usual four. This is usually an issue with those that use the F keys constantly and go by feel of the grouping. For example, accidentally pressing the F3 key when meaning F4 (because it's at the end of the first grouping), or F4 when meaning F5 (at the beginning of the second grouping).
  • Perhaps the most horrendous problems is going from mechanical typewriter to electronic or, worse, straight to PC. It is entirely possible to hurt you finger by both thinking that keys on the upper lines should be substantially higher than those on the bottom lines combined with the force you would automatically hit the mechanical key with.
  • Graphing calculators are all over the place with layouts:
    • Most people start on the Texas Instruments TI-83/84 line, since it's the only one allowed in lots of US high school and college math courses. Then you move up to the more powerful TI-89 line, and not only has the keypad layout changed fairly significantly (if you use trig functions, for example, you'll now find that sine, cosine, and tangent are 2nd shift functions on the Y, Z, and T keys, with their inverses being diamond shift functions), but the general OS layout and interface has, too.
    • Then there's the Nspire line, which has interchangeable keypads; the original ones had the letter keys tucked in between the usual keypad keys, but the touchpad ones have a completely different layout that moves all the letter keys to a thumb keyboard at the bottom and consolidates the trig functions all into one button, among other things.
    • Hewlett-Packard calculators not only have a completely different layout and OS interface (where changing things in the mode screen requires one to hit F2 to choose what option to adjust and Enter just exits, among other things), but are often centered around Reverse Polish (postfix) notation, NOT algebraic (infix) notation. (Fortunately, both are supported-just go into the mode menu and switch it there.) Good luck transitioning between them and most other calculators (though you may not even want to if you're used to RPN).
      • Besides, if you're used to RPN, good luck using any calculator which works in algebraic mode.
  • Learn to type, in English, on a standard QWERTY keyboard. Take Mavis Beacon's classes, and pass all the tests with flying colors. Improve your skills over the years until you can type seamlessly and effortlessly. Now travel to another country which doesn't speak English, but uses the same alphabet. And flail in anguish trying to work out the new keyboard letters.
  • On versions of Windows with different languages for default the keyboard shortcuts are different. It's not uncommon to press Ctrl+A repeatedly trying to select all with no results, only to realize that in Portuguese "All" is "Tudo" and the shortcut is Ctrl+T.
  • On Linux, and other Unix-like operating systems, Ctrl-D at a shell prompt will generally cause the shell to log out (generally closing the window if you're using a terminal emulator, or returning to a login prompt on a virtual console or serial line). On Windows, Ctrl-D at a command prompt just prints ^D.
    • Ctrl-D stands for "end of transmission".
  • Also, if you've gotten addicted to mouse gestures in Opera, using other browsers can invoke this trope.
  • This troper is right-handed, but runs a mouse left-handed to free the more-dextrous hand for writing and numeric entry. After seven years of this, using a co-worker's computer is maddening! One can't rearrange others' workstations for a ten-minute operation, but it's like trying to throw a baseball left-handed while aiming in a mirror.

Internet, software, and related[edit | hide]

  • The MediaWiki software used on Wikipedia and Wikia inherited much of its markup from the markup used on the UseMod wiki software, which is used on MeatballWiki and was used in the early years of Wikipedia. MediaWiki eventually became so all-pervasive that many editors automatically start using its formatting tags on Wikis using non-standard software... like TV Tropes. And we have a trope for that.
    • And of course it works the other way around, if you've spent enough time on here.
      • And it only gets worse the more types of wiki-like software you use. TiddlyWiki, for instance, formats its pot holes as [[text|page to send to]], which is the exact opposite of most other Wikis. Even Everything2, which has been around for ages, put the target first.
    • Then go the forums: Most forums use BB Code, while the TV Tropes forum uses wiki markup.
  • An ancient example: in the 80s, the prominent word processor was WordStar, which defined several standard controls that the present Windows editing controls are based on, such as WASD. Their scheme was based on control+ letter for functions, and interestingly was written before cursor arrows became prominent on keyboards. Then in the late 80s / early 90s, the up-and-coming text editor was WordPerfect. WP took advantage of the rapidly expanding computer market to push their own standard instead of supporting existing ones. The result is that anyone familiar with WS is completely incapable of handling WP, and vice versa. F1 for help? Nope, that's F3. ^Q for quit? No, better try F7. And so on and so forth. The scheme relies on control/alt/shift+ F1-F10 for literally everything. About a decade later, Microsoft pulled the same trick with expanding markets to push the Word standard, but at least that one is comprehensible to a novice.
    • WordPerfect's keyboard shortcuts were so complex (and, at times, unintuitive) that there were overlays one could put above one's function keys as a reminder of which key combinations did what.
    • These are also popular in ProTools, simply because there are so many available key commands.
  • Non-Home Editions of Windows of NT-based Windows OSes made CTRL+ ALT+ DEL act differently. Instead of bringing up the task manager by default like "DOS-based" versions of Windows, they bring you to a "lock out" menu, where you can choose to lock the computer, open task manager, switch users, etc. CTRL+ SHIFT+ ESC brings up the Task Manager on all Windows NT based computers. Also this works sometimes on public computer when CTRL+ ALT+ DEL is blocked and the admin had an oversight.
    • With Windows Vista (and 7) this behavior is consistent across all edtions, but the resulting menu takes up the entire screen. It's a little unnerving the first time you press CTRL+ ALT+ DEL expecting the task manager, only to have your entire desktop disappear.
    • Back in early Windows OS's (like Windows 3.0), CTRL+ ALT+ DEL didn't open a Task Manager dialogue, it simply rebooted your computer. At least in Windows 3.1 it occurred to someone to ask you for confirmation first. Meanwhile, to get to the Task List (what eventually grew up to be Task Manager), you pressed CTRL+ESC. In Windows 95 or later, CTRL+ESC opens the Start menu.
  • The MIDI composer Anvil Studio uses Ctrl+ S not to save (like every single other Windows program), but to create a new audio track.
    • Band-in-a-Box, possibly because it originated on the Atari PC before key commands were standardized, is absolutely brutal with these. It's near-universal in audio/MIDI programs for the spacebar to activate the "Play/Pause" transport function, but this one uses "Ctrl-A" and "Esc" for these. It can be very awkward moving between Band-in-a-Box and other programs.
  • Black and White features gesture recognition, including the ever useful ability to shake your mouse left and right to get rid of whatever special mode or spell you have attached to the cursor/hand of god. A decent number of people have tried to do the same thing to get out of zoom mode while using Microsoft Word.
    • The majority of the game is controlled by combinations and gestures of the right and left mouse buttons. Imagine the frustrations caused when B&W2 switched the function of those two.
  • GUI: Ctrl-C is copy-to-clipboard. Command line: Ctrl-C is terminate process. Oops!
    • Ctrl-C is terminate process at shell prompts in both Windows and Unix operating systems, and is copy-to-clipboard in GUI applications (at least most of the time in modern Unix applications). It's consistent between the two operating systems, but still well falls under this trope (just try copying from a Windows cmd shell, or worse; a UNIX ssh session running on a Windows desktop).
      • Ctrl-Insert and Shift-Insert for copy and paste, respectively, tend to work fine both in GUI apps and in shells. Microsoft has discarded any reference to these, because they originate in the bastard child they had with IBM: OS/2.
    • Similarly, Ctrl+z is undo in Windows. Except in Emacs (even the Windows versions) where Ctrl+z is minimize-window.
    • In Mac OS' Finder, Cmd+ D creates a duplicate copy of a file. In Windows Explorer, Ctrl+ D deletes a file.
      • In Finder Enter renames a file. Instead of opening it, which is obviously Cmd+ O.
  • Windows Command Prompt (and earlier MS-DOS): dir to see the contents of a directory. Unix shell: ls to see the contents of a directory. This becomes very frustrating when using the command prompt to navigate files in Unix and then trying the same in Windows. It's made slightly better because some Unix distros humor Windows users by aliasing "dir" to "ls."
    • Moreover, the default output for the commands is different. "ls" generally gives a list of just filenames in as many same-width columns as will fit onscreen, while "dir" puts one file on each line with detailed information like last-modified date and file size. You need to add an extra option--"dir /w" or "ls -l"—to get the version for the other system.
  • Also, in Microsoft Word (or the Office software group), sometimes people may find that the text to the right of their cursor suddenly gets eaten up by whatever they're typing next. This is because the Overtype mode often comes on without them knowing they accidentally hit the Insert key, which is right next to the Backspace key. Good thing at least one keyboard type doesn't have an Insert key (except for zero when Num Lock is off).
  • Anyone that has ever got used to vim surely has filled lots of files opened in other editors with "jjjjjjjjjjjjjkkkkkkkkkkkkkk" trying to scroll down.
    • Another sign that you're a vim user is typing either ":wq" or "ZZ" at the end of documents opened in other editors. (Both those keystroke sequences are ways to save-and-quit in vim).
    • And for those gVim users out there? Don't get too used to using Ctrl+s to save your files, even though gvim gives you the option. Because one day, you'll be working in regular vim in a PuTTY session and you'll hit Ctrl+s to save all those awesome changes you've just made, and...AUUUUUUGH! Fortunately, Ctrl+q can get you out of that jam.
  • Speaking of scroll bars: Windows has up and down buttons on each end of the scroll bar. Mac has both button at the bottom end of the bar. It's a good thing that in both cases, the bar itself can be dragged, and users can still click past the bar for a page up/down effect.
    • Mac OS X provides an option, under System Preferences -> Appearance for scrollbar arrows to be located at the bottom end of the bar, or up and down buttons at each end. The former is the default setting, though. In 2011, OS X Lion took the arrows out back and shot them. With arrows, presumably.
    • Another example of a scrollbar is provided by Google Wave, where the arrows are located on the upper and the lower end of the bar. Clicking these will achieve a a page up/down effect indeed, instead of skipping lines. Moreover, you can't operate this thing carefully, because there is no line on which it would move, so you can't click past the bar. By dragging it, the scrolling delays until the shadow of the bar (?) catches up with the body of the bar, completely disorienting the user. You will end up dragging it randomly and ending up at the right place in the wave with a great deal of luck - the effect is simply ridiculous.
    • There are times in which pressing the down arrow on a scroll bar does nothing, and the reader is expected to press up to scroll down and push the content up, and vice versa.
  • More scroll bar shenanigans: Mac OS X Lion inverted the default scrolling direction on trackpads, which makes things consistent with Apple's touchscreen interfaces (swipe down = move document down as if it were paper = scroll up) but throws you off of what Apple's trackpads have been doing for years, which matched arrow key and mouse scroll wheel behavior (swipe down = pan view down as if it were a camera = scroll down). But this switch also applies to mouse wheel behavior, making it the opposite of what you would get from the same mouse on a PC's default settings. Also, if you get used to this, and on occasion use arrow keys to scroll, you will probably hit the wrong arrows a few times.
    • To make things even more confusing, despite Lion shipping with an upgraded set of Windows drivers, those haven't been rewritten to use the new scrolling direction. Have fun if you're dual-booting your Mac.
  • Microsoft Word and Hotmail: Ctrl+ I is italics. Other pages on Internet Explorer and Firefox, even ones that let you write: Ctrl+ I opens the Favourites bar, with very few exceptions (such as a rare few message boards).
  • Microsoft Office products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) use Ctrl+ Y to redo, whereas plenty of other programs use Shift+ Ctrl+ Z.
    • To make things worse, Shift+ Ctrl+ Z resets the formatting of the current selection in Office. Which then makes it impossible to redo what you had planned to redo.
  • Most Internet forum systems have "Submit" on the left and "Preview" on the right when posting, while others have the opposite. This can get really annoying when you impulsively click on the left button only to find yourself with a preview of your post.
  • The emulator SNES9x requires you to pause your emulation before saving or loading a state. On a Mac, this is done by pressing Cmd+ R, and then Cmd+ F or Cmd+ D depending on whether you want to freeze or defrost a state. However, other emulators generally skip the pausing part, so to save a state all you do is press Cmd+ F. What does Cmd+ R do? Reset the emulation! Extra fun because the instinct to press Cmd+ R then Cmd+ F in rapid succession can easily result in not only losing the progress you were trying to save, but making the whole save file useless because you just made a save state of the title screen. Hope you've been using the in-game save system!
    • Or you could use the shortcut keys (F1-F10 to load a state, Shift-same to save).
  • Dialog boxes on most systems (including Windows and most Linux distros) always place the OK button to the left and the Cancel button to the right, but dialog boxes on Mac OS X usually place Cancel to the left and OK to the right. It's admittedly pretty easy to get used to the Mac way...until you have to use X11 apps that use the standard placement.
  • From Windows 95 to XP, choosing "Shut Down" or "Turn Off" from the Start menu would take you to a confirmation screen where you can choose to shut down, reboot, or cancel. In Windows Vista, the default button was changed to "Hibernate" (which looked like XP's "Shut Down" button but yellow), forcing you to open an extra menu to shut down without hibernating.
    • Windows 7 changed the default to Shut Down, this time with a written label instead of the universal power symbol. And, unlike Vista, the action you set for the button does not appear in the menu. It also removed the separate lock button.
  • In the Firefox browser, Ctrl-N starts a new window. However, if you happen to be using Hotmail, Ctrl-N starts a new email message.
  • Homestar Runner once had a link to the Store to the front page of its website. The "Watch Intro" button was where "Come On In" was for over 5 years.
  • When you open or save a file in some programmes, there is a sidebar with a number of default folder options; however, what exactly those options are and where can differ based on the application and operating system. Compare, say, Microsoft Word 2000's to Adobe Photoshop CS3's.
  • With an earlier version of the FanFiction.Net website, clicking a button at the bottom-left of a page allowed you, by default, to post a review. A newer version moved the review button to the bottom-centre of the page, while the default setting for the button at the bottom-left adds the currently-being-read story to favourites. You can see how a veteran used to the older version of the website might trip over it.
  • Switching between Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and RuneScape's clan chat gets frustrating: To chat in IRC, it's just typing in letters and pressing enter. In Runescape, you have to type a forward slash and then what you want to say. What does a forward slash do in IRC? Commands. This situation gets you having to trip over sentences because the client mistakes them for unknown commands, or accidentally typing what you wanted to say in clan chat out loud.
    • Likewise, switching from a MUD to IRC results in lots of sentences starting with the word "say"
    • Chat functions in video games. Enter-message-enter is a common one, but you may also find space-message-enter and one particular game had T-message-T.
    • Actually, with IRC clients it can vary by client; some require space before each message, for example.
  • When you do a text search, Firefox puts the search bar in the lower-left, and Google Chrome puts it in the upper-right.
    • ... And Internet Explorer puts it in the upper-left!
    • Also for Chrome: "Open new tab" is the first option in the right-click context menu. For Firefox and IE, it's the second.
      • In the Firefox 4 beta, "Open new tab" is now the first option in the context menu. Cue thousands of Firefox users opening dozens of windows instead of new tabs.
  • Some browsers let you type a Google search string into the address bar, others have their own bar for this and produce an error if you don't put an url into the address bar. Gnarfbl.
  • 3d Software is absolutely awful for this. There are at least a few programs which could be considered industry standard so just learning how to operate in only one is limiting. Given the time projects take and how many shortcut keys are needed this is extremely confusing. Plus since you probably use the same shortcut 100 times in an hour, enjoy going to other programs. There's been so many times I tried Alt + Click which is the pan camera control in Maya while using Photoshop only to bring up the eyedropper tool.
    • And tools in different software packages which have similar-sounding names or in similar positions don't do anything at all alike, while tools that are pretty much the same have completely different names and are buried in different menus.
  • The newest version of Ubuntu (10.04 "Lucid Lynx") had the brilliant idea of moving the minimize, maximize, and close buttons from the right side of the window, where they are on Windows, to the left side of the window, where they are on Mac OS X. This was pretty much only done to show off the new gconf option that enables the user to move those buttons around at will, although you wouldn't know that reading the official statement on the matter, which cites it as a bold and innovative and [a bunch of meaningless buzzwords] idea that will help encourage creativity and [a bunch of other meaningless buzzwords] in users. Needless to say, nearly every user who doesn't also use a Mac has since moved them back to the right.
  • Someone using both Vocaloid and its freeware derivative UTAU can get easily frustrated. The interfaces are similar, but the methods of drawing notes, doing pitch bends, creating vibrato, etc. are very different, causing a likelihood of extreme aggravation (especially when one tries to use the Vocaloid editor and click elsewhere to create a note from your current point to where the mouse is clicking, but instead starting a new note where the click is).
  • In most computer programs, if you try to quit with unsaved work, it will ask you if you want to save before quitting. Saying Yes will save first, possibly pulling up a Save As dialog box. Saying No will quit immediately. But in Microsoft SQL Server Profiler, a Magical Database debugging tool, the equivalent question is if you really want to quit with an active trace still running. Saying Yes is the "quit immediately" option, while "No" sends you back to the program.
    • And for keyboard users, Windows. Vista. In previous versions, you could answer "Yes" or "No" to this question by pressing Y or N. Then someone had the bright idea to change this to "Save" and "Don't save". It's even worse in French, where the shortcut for "Ne pas enregistrer" (yes, they seriously chose the "R" for that) doesn't match the one for "Non".
      • Except that in Windows Vista & 7 you can still hit the Y key to save, thus subverting this trope.
  • Most console emulators have a speed up function (or rather, emulate as fast as you can function). This is handy because it can go through boring scenes really fast, and for disc-based platforms like the PlayStation, it decreases load times without affecting anything. Cue going back to the real world with any software and trying to speed up the process by pressing the keys to activate it in the emulator.
    • A related phenomenon may be the desire to hit the quick-save key any time you're about to do anything, even in real life.
    • F4 - Repeat Command in some Office tools. Make your changes to one text box or shape, click on all of them in order and press F4 after each click. Cue that deflating feeling when you try it in pretty much any other program and it doesn't work.
  • The "scroll wheel" on mice is an extremely useful shortcut for scrolling up and down in a document. Unless you're on Google Maps, where scrolling "up" doesn't take you further north, like you'd expect, it zooms in.
    • Scrolling up to zoom in is reasonably common in mapping or drafting software. The one that gets me is ESRI's ArcGIS- where scrolling "up" actually zooms OUT.
    • Many programs will only zoom in/out if you press Ctrl along with the rolling. And Adobe InDesign does the reverse of the majority (Ctrl + Roll down zooms out, Ctrl + Roll up zooms in).
    • And going back to a mouse without a scroll wheel is WEIRD.
  • The middle mouse button pans in AutoCAD, but doesn't in Adobe software. This results in a few moments of stupidly staring at the screen wondering why it isn't changing.
    • Try using MicroStation after a few years of only using AutoCAD. Then, for giggles, try teaching yourself Google Sketchup. Where the heck are all my tools? And why can't y'all settle on names? Drop Complex=Explode=the default way something's drawn?
  • Tool shortcuts in Adobe, especially Flash and Illustrator. R is the rectangle tool in Flash, but the rotate tool in Illustrator, where M is the rectangle tool. Oval tool: Flash - O, Illustrator - L. Pencil tool: Flash - Y, Illustrator - N. For two such similar programs it's a huge pain in the ass.
  • Ever wonder what Scroll Lock did? Microsoft Excel is one of the few programs that uses it. In the off-chance you might enable Scroll Lock and use the arrow keys, the actual page will scroll around, rather than the cursor moving.
    • Another program that uses Scroll Lock: FL Studio. Toggling it changes whether the view on the main sequencer scrolls with the position indicator or not.
  • The menu bar shared by various branches of Google is inexplicably different on Google Groups, with the link back to the regular Web search jumping from the far left to the middle (and vanishing completely when viewing Groups search results.) The other links are also randomly jumbled.
  • Ever made a forum post only to find a garbled mess of the wrong-shaped brackets staring you in the face? Exacerbated by the fact that HTML and BB Code use a lot of the same tags, but those brackets...
  • Ctrl+Shift+T in Mozilla Firefox brings back a closed tab, but in Yahoo! Mail it opens the SMS feature.
  • On Mozilla Firefox, when right clicking on a link, the second menu option is "Open link in new tab" where as in Google Chrome, the first menu option is "Open link in new tab" and the second is "Open link in new window", which makes a big difference on slower computers.
    • Made even worse in Firefox 4 - it has "open in new tab" as a first option, like Chrome but unlike earlier Firefox versions, adding to the confusion. It's incredibly annoying.
  • Yet another Firefox example: In version 3.6, new tabs open directly to the right of the one you're browsing rather than at the far right like they have previously.
  • killall in Solaris and HP/UX is not the same thing as killall in Linux. In Linux it means 'kill processes by name' In Solaris and HP/UX, it means 'kill all processes'. Many sysadmins which are used to Linux only realize it when it's too late.
  • As of March 2011, when responding to posts on Facebook, hitting the Enter key will complete your post, rather than line break (in which case you have to hit Shift+Enter).
  • In Windows 95 to Vista, the "Show Desktop" button, which minimizes all windows, is an optional part of the Quick Launch toolbar, found on the lower-left corner of the screen next to the Start menu. On Windows 7, this button is fixed to the far lower-right, next to the date and time, and it's not even labeled. Once you start using it on one OS, juts try going to the other.
  • The Avant and Orca browsers use a right-click-and-drag gesture system (not unlike Black & White) as an alternative to buttons or menu commands. Naturally these gestures do nothing in Internet Explorer, which may take several failed attempts to register in the mind of someone used to them.
  • If you ever bothered to remember the shortcuts on Photoshop (especially all of them), it becomes frustrating when a new version comes up and you install it and find that almost every single command has been changed, so you're forced to remember the shortcuts again. This happens every single time a new version of Photoshop comes out.
  • It's often difficult for users of Adobe Photoshop and the freeware GIMP to switch between the two.
    • Similarly, one who works between pretty much any of the Adobe Suite will confuse themselves when switching softwares.
  • Code::Blocks (a free integrated development environment) uses CTRL+F to activate the Find function. In the Italian version of Notepad, the Find function is CTRL+T because the combination has been localized for Italian ("find" in Italian is trova). Unfortunately, CTRL+T in Code::Blocks switches the positions of the current line and the one above it. Try finding something in CodeBlocks after using the Italian version of Notepad for a while and you're guaranteed to ruin your code, as you'll switch the positions of two lines and type the search string as a new, third line.
  • Email providers: Do you add multiple addresses with commas or semicolons?
  • In Linux, you can copy and paste by selecting the text you want to copy, and middle-clicking where you want to paste. Attempting this on Windows results in nothing happening.
  • If you're a shortkey fan, switching from Windows in English to Spanish or other languages or viceversa will severely cripple you the first few days or weeks, as most of them change according to the language. For instance, while CTRL+F is the command to find in the English version, it changes to CTRL+B in Spanish. CTRL+A is "Select All" in english, while in spanish it's the "Open File" command, as "Select All" is CTRL+E. It becomes increasingly unnerving if you use, for instance, Windows in English and Office in Spanish, as you have to switch back and forth between shortkey commands as you work.
    • Also, try using MS Office in a localized version, then using Open Office (which does not localize shortcuts).
  • Filter Keys is an accessibility option in Microsoft Windows which is activated by holding down the SHIFT key for 8 seconds- this is especially frustrating because many people absent-mindedly keep the shift key held down as they think about their next sentence - because they know the first letter of which will be capitalized.
  • So many sites have the top level domain ".com" that going to a site with a different one like ".org" or ".net" (including this one) can be annoying (unless you have it bookmarked).
  • The Eclipse development environment has quite a few completely non-standard keyboard shortcuts. Want to search for the next occurrence of something you've already found? Nope, not Ctrl+G, the most common shortcut for that function in text editors. It's not F3, either, which is a common alternative in Windows apps. Nope, the shortcut to do that in Eclipse is Ctrl+K!


Music[edit | hide]

  • Often happens to pianists who switch between full sized pianos and small keyboards. Whilst the size of the keys may only differ slightly, it's enough to throw you off completely.
    • Pianists also must deal with the differences between individual pianos. Using one piano while practicing at home and another for a performance is really hard without adapting to the new piano. Especially differences in resistance in the keys throws you off.
      • Differing resistances between pianos is nothing compared going from practicing on a full piano (with very resistant keys) to playing a keyboard (with unweighted keys.) The upside is that you can then play much faster on unweighted keys if you practice with weighted ones.
      • There's also a major difference in functionality between many electronic keyboards and traditional pianos: on traditional pianos, and electronic pianos made to emulate them, when you press a key the whole key goes down. On most electronic keyboards, however, only one end of the key moves down, in a swinging motion. This can easily result in skilled pianists whiffing notes if they start playing up in the black keys.
      • Guitarists can have very similar things happening. Sometimes you need to change the key based on your singer. Works simple, right? Just replace the chords. Until you remember the fact that you need to accommodate the open strings. This can result in you having to retune the guitar, because the new key is a lot harder.
        • Isn't that what capos are for?
          • Yes, but this can cause another problem: Capos brings the key up. A song that is in a low key, like E will lose most of it's bottom, since you are bringing the key up and sometimes thus "ruining" the sound. But this can create problems for other instruments. If playing a song that is normally with a capo, only the guitar has a capo. Say you want to bring it down, this can make the work hard for the bass player, if he's playing it in such a way that it's hard to move it (often the case if using open strings).
          • Furthermore, as you move up the neck, the frets get slightly smaller; capo up one fret, it's not that big of a deal, but capo up five? Your fingers have significantly less room at that point.
        • Averting this is a key skill for jazz musicians. There are certain keys that sound best for certain instruments, and in a five piece jazz band, it's possible that every single instrument would like to play the song in a different key (except the drummer, obviously). Most often, it's the guitarists and pianists who will change to play with the singer or horns, so they have to be able to transpose complex chords on the fly.
      • Playing guitars in different tunings. Some tunings, like Eb standard or D standard, will just put you in the wrong key. Then you get to tunings where the usual string intervals are removed, like Drop D, Open E, or DADGAD. All of your usual chord shapes and scale patterns no longer apply.
    • Pianists are also likely to completely wreck any harpsichords they try to play, since the rate of change in key resistance is different and the keys are a lot easier to knock out of place.
    • Sometimes also the resistance of the sustain pedal can throw people off. A pianist may be accustomed to a piano with a really firm pedal that allows the foot to rest on it even when it is not in use, only to do the same thing on a different piano and be accidentally applying the pedal for no reason!
  • People who switch between similar instruments (for instance flute/recorder/tin whistle) have to perform really awesome mental acrobatics to remember to prod the right bits.
    • And recorder players have to adjust to the very-slightly-different fingering of the Baroque and German recorders, which also happen to look and feel exactly the same.
      • Try switching between soprano and alto recorders. The notes are suddenly a fifth down/up from what they were (which screws with you especially when you're reading music), and the holes are a different distance apart. Expect to miss a lot.
      • This is a real Mind Screw when switching between the tenor and alto saxophone, and the clarinet in Bb and A, despite that their fingering systems are identical to each other.
  • Percussionists have a similar problem when switching sticks. The slightest difference in weight or shape can throw you off completely. When playing snare drum, this difference in dynamic or rhythm could make for a very embarassing entrance into the piece.
    • In a similar vein to the piano example, marimbas versus vibraphones versus xylophones, and so on.
    • Also similar to one of the piano subexamples, a drumset player switching between various drumsets for self-practice, group rehearsal, and performance. At home, I have 2 rack toms and 1 floor tom, along with one crash and one ride. For jazz band at school, the drumset there has more cymbals (this is the drumset I like to play most). For most performances, there's less cymbals and only one rack tom. This is beyond annoying and can frequently completely screw up a tasty fill you typically play at one part of a song.
  • Try learning to play the viola and then trying to play a contrabass.
    • To clarify, the contrabass is a viol, which is actually a different instrument family than the violin, viola and cello, and tunes in fourths instead of the fifths that the others do. This means that the entire fingering system of the instrument is different from that of the other three, which could be a Mind Screw to adjust to, aside from the physical difficulty of pressing down on those steel cables that the contrabass calls strings. And the bow alone probably weighs more than a violin.
    • On a similar note, trying to learn to read music written for the viola, one of the few instruments that uses the Alto clef, as opposed to the more widely used Treble or Bass clefs.
  • Handbells. Going from bass (F3-B3) to the bottom of the treble clef (D5-E5) mid-concert means that hand location for damping has moved about a foot backward, not to mention the care that must be taken to avoid tossing the bells across the room.
  • Going from a bass trombone with dependent valves to one with independent valves can be tricky; there are techniques that you can use on one that will not work on the other.
    • Also going from a tenor trombone without an F attachment to one with an F attachment or a bass with just an F attachment or one with two attachments.
  • It can feel very strange playing bass for awhile and then changing to a guitar.
    • Or switching between classical, steel-string acoustic, and electric guitar.
  • When Yamaha introduced the DX7 synthesizer in the 1980s, it was a big seller due to being the first fully-digital synthesizer, with all the convenience of being able to save sounds for later use (as opposed to having to manually set them with knobs every time), and perfect tuning stability. The tradeoff? It was a completely different method of synthesis than that used in earlier synthesizers: it was much less intuitive, and the results were much less predictable. Additionally, the replacement of knob controls with a digital menu that was paged through with buttons made it impractical to adjust sounds during performance. Many musicians simply treated the DX7 as a "preset machine", and didn't even bother trying to learn to program the thing.
    • On a related note, altering the sound of a subtractive-synthesis versus an FM-synthesis machine. Very different systems.
  • Not technically muscle memory, but perhaps ordinary memory or pitch memory: going from an instrument written in one key to one that's written in another. For example, going from a sax (E-flat) to a clarinet (B-flat), or from trumpet (B-flat) to horn (F) has major Mind Screw potential. "Concert B-flat" (a common tuning note) is a B-flat on C instruments, an F on F instruments, a G on E-flat instruments, and a C on B-flat instruments, but they're all the same pitch.
  • Young French Horn students going from single horn to double horn. Starting at C# and going up, the fingerings differ between the two. Then, a few years later, when the student reaches high school and has to switch to mellophone for marching band, the fingerings go back to single horn except for the notes below F, which were constant between single and double horns. It's manageable when you're playing the music your director gives you, but if you feel like learning something by ear it's more of a problem.
    • Don't forget that, when going from French Horn to mellophone, you control the valves with the opposite hand! On French Horn, your left hand presses valves and your right hand goes in the bell. On mellophone, your right hand presses valves and your left hand supports and controls slides, like with trumpet.
  • Learning to play the piano (which uses both treble and bass clef) after playing an instrument which uses only one of those clefs, will have you be far more proficient in one hand than the other for quite some time.


Sports[edit | hide]

  • English-style riding (also known as classical or European style riding, and is the type seen at the Olympics) places a lot of emphasis on the rider looking like they're doing nothing at all. This isn't a factor in Western riding. So, to use a bending (weaving in and out of poles/around barrels) exercise as an example, an English-style rider will touch the horse's left flank very gently with their heel to get them to turn to the left, and increase the pressure depending on how much of a turn is required (pressing firmly with the calf will usually get a well-trained horse turning almost 90 degrees.) In Western style riding, all steering is done with the reins; touching your heels to a horse or applying pressure with your legs will only tell it to move faster.
    • On a more basic level, every horse is an individual and even similarly trained horses will respond differently to the same set of cues: One does NOT cue a hot thoroughbred the same as a phlegmatic warmblood... not if you want to live, anyway.
  • Speed skaters and roller derby players often find that they spend so long going anticlockwise around the track (the direction races and bouts go in) that they stumble over basic footwork when going clockwise. It's very frustrating.
    • Certainly not as much a factor in running track, but still present: after doing so many laps going counterclockwise, it's just plain weird to go clockwise.
  • Professional wrestlers have said going from trying not to hurt each other while performing to getting into an actual fight can be damn awkward.
    • In the UK wrestlers post [5] on the thigh, close to the knee, US wrestlers post on the hip. Also, English speaking wrestlers always work the left arm, and on the left side, but Mexican wrestlers work the right arm, which just feels...wrong. Also, in Japan lots of moves have different names - an arm drag is completely different over there.
  • Though cricket and baseball share some basic similarities on first sight, they each require some different skills, and everything from the way you hold the bat to how the ball is thrown is different. You can transition from one to the other and become a decent player, it just happens to be frustrating.
    • This is also a tactic in cricket. Since by the rules of the game require the bowlers (roughly equivalent to a pitcher in baseball) to alternate between overs you can alternate between left and right handed bowlers to keep the batsmen from getting too comfortable.
      • Of course, the batsmen can do this as well if both a left and right-hander are in. By scoring single runs, they switch ends, not only forcing the bowler to adjust, but making the fielders change positions.
  • Taking advantage of this is a crucial element of fencing. Most good fencers will attack, parry, and move reflexively, so variations in your technique will throw the other combatant off. The 1, 3, 7, and 8 parries are slightly more difficult to pull off than the 2, 4, 5 and 6, but the techniques to avoid them are different.
    • This can also be a problem when switching from foil fencing to epee. The weapons vary in weights and length, but more importantly the target areas are different. New epee fencers will be frustrated by how often they get hit in the knee or arm.
    • A similar problem occurs when switching between one of the other blades and sabre (or vice-versa), as the majority of attacks in sabre are delivered with the edge of the blade, instead of the point. Adjusting for the extra step (swing blade down from guard to cut as the arm extends) can take a little while. Added to that, the standard guard in sixte (for example) has a radically different angle of blade when used in sabre to either of the other weapons, so people tend to find they're using the wrong guard stance and leaving themselves open.
  • Sometimes seen in players moving between field hockey and regular ball or ice hockey; in field hockey you aren't (except for a goalie) allowed to touch the ball deliberately with your body, whereas in ice or ball, you are allowed to block with your body, knock down high shoots with your hands, and kick the puck/ball (except to score). The method of stick-handing is also significantly different in that field hockey doesn't allow you to use both sides of the stick to hit the ball. And then there's the size and shape of the stick...
  • Most professional sports, at least in America, have some rules that are different than their college equivalents, some of which are common, everyday occurrences at both levels. For example, in college football, a receiver only needs to get one foot in-bounds after making a catch to make it count. In the NFL, a receiver needs to get BOTH feet in before touching out of bounds. Rule changes like this are why positions such as wide receiver have some of the toughest transitions from one level to the next.
  • When American Football players get their team penalized yards because someone on the opposite team faked them into crossing the line of scrimmage before the play begins, they're grumbling this trope at themselves.


Televisions and related[edit | hide]

  • TV and DVD player remotes can vary drastically between different brands—not just in layout, which is frustrating enough, but even in how correspondingly labeled buttons behave.
    • What is the "Top menu" button anyway? How is that different from the plain Menu button which is more used? Or, sometimes, the regular menu button is above left of the arrow buttons, and sometimes it's on the above right.
      • The top menu is the main screen, where you have access to the usual options (play movie, select chapter/episode, set-up, and special features). It's confusing, because usually, the "plain" menu button will take you to the main menu if you're watching the movie or episode, but to a sub-menu if you're watching special features. Either way, you get yanked out of whatever you were watching. The newer Blu-ray high-definition format uses this in a much more logical manner, where the top menu button functions more or less identically, but the regular menu button merely brings up the usual options above, but as an overlay while the content continues playing with selections made on the fly. It's much easier to use when changing audio or subtitles, or finding a specific chapter or episode.
        • Unless the Blu-ray disk uses Java and has gotten creative with the buttons...
    • This is especially when you switch from watching movies on DVD or Blu-ray on your Playstation 3. The menu and control configuration is different on almost all buttons.
    • While on the Play Station 3 manufacturer, if you own both a Sony DVD and BD-Player, watching a Blu-Ray might get you to the menu because you pressed "Stop" when you wanted "Pause".
  • The standard TiVo remote control and the DirectTV-branded version are identical in all respects other than markings—and the placement of two buttons. One of them turns your TV off.
  • Not to mention most modern TV's no longer have buttons lined up on the front of the set, but rather a cluster of them on the side of the TV instead. This is supposedly for aesthetic reasons. Apparently the designers forgot the first rule of engineering and design: design for ease of use, not because it looks nice. Which is why you don't let artists design electronics or any home appliance for that matter.
    • And the cluster will never be on the side that you try feeling first. Operating any unfamiliar TV always means having to give it a little pat down as you run your hands along the top and sides. Eventually, they're just going to put the buttons on the back of the TV.
    • When the batteries on your remote have expired, you'll still point it at the screen and push buttons for a good ten seconds before realizing that swearing at the set (or smashing the remote against the wall, for that matter) is not going to work, at which point you remember that you need to change the batteries.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Any RC modellers will experience this at least once. On an RC controller, left stick Y-axis is throttle, while X-axis is yaw. Right stick is roll/pitch on X/Y-axis, respectively. Enter the Playstation. Left stick is pitch/roll, and throttle/yaw are usually relegated to the shoulder triggers. This is especially detrimental when attempting to hover RC helicopters - which is far more difficult than flying at any speed in any direction, for those that have not tried it.
    • The preferred/default stick layout also can vary between regions, with the above example layout (called mode 2) being common in North America, while European modelers will more commonly know mode 1 (left stick is yaw/pitch, right is roll/throttle). Other modes also exist. Add to that wildly inconsistent programming interfaces (even among the same manufacturer) and different styles of auxiliary switch arrangements.
    • RC car modellers are slightly better off, in that most racing games have accelerate/brake mapped to the right stick as well as L2/R2. The reversed sticks still don't help.
  • Anyone ever flushed the toilet while someone was in the shower due to this trope?
  • A classic one: reflexively glancing at your wrist only to feel like an idiot because your watch is stopped/in for repair/sitting forgotten on your bedside table/on the other wrist. Then doing the exact same thing less than a minute later.
    • Also checking your watch, someone asking what time it is and you answer by checking the watch again.
    • Also, getting used to a watch with a light-up watch face, then switching to one without one. You'll spend several moments wondering if the Indiglo on your Timex has died, only to remember you're not wearing that watch that day. Or switching to a watch where the backlight button is in a different place.
  • Trying to push your glasses up the bridge of your nose only to remember you're not wearing glasses. No dramatic effect there. It even works if you just have a job where you wear safety glasses.
    • Not as common but far worse: You try to grab at the edges of your frames to move them, only to jam your thumb into your eye. You look stupid AND it hurts.
      • Even more perilous: Wearing contact lenses, putting on non-prescription sunglasses, getting a little itch in your eye, and reflexively reaching behind your glasses to scratch it. Now your contact lens is pushed up into your eye socket, you're half blind, and whatever important task you had been concentrating on is careening out of control. May compel you to reconsider laser eye surgery.
    • And every glasses wearer is familiar with spending the entire time they have lost their glasses and are searching for them fighting the impulse to put on your glasses to look for your glasses easier. PROTIP: Keep your old pair in a place you can always find them easily when you need to find your new pair.
  • On some construction equipment you use your hands to control the travel and your feet to control the bucket, on others it's just the opposite. Can lead to some interesting results when you have to use both types on the same job site.
  • Oh joy, it even happens with firearms.
    • On the M1911A1, moving the safety down turns it off. On the Beretta M92F, the same motion puts the safety on. Then there's the issues of finding the safety and the bolt releases on various Mausers, Springfields, Lee-Enfields, and Mosin-Nagants...
    • You want a real nightmare? Try going from anything but a Glock pistol to a Glock. I'm not entirely certain you can even call the Glock "Safety" safe. For the record, a Glock has two "triggers" slightly offset (kinda like a Accu-trigger) when you go to shoot, the first trigger you encounter is the safety, the second one fires the weapon. Pray it doesn't get caught on a tree branch. Or how about going from a AR-15 style mag release (on the side of the magazine well) to one like and AK-47 (on the back of the mag well) then to one like on most hunting rifles (in front of the mag well.) There is a reason they have Special Forces shoot thousands upon thousands of rounds through their weapons just to practice.
    • And even when you've got the motions for whatever weapon you carry down pat, if you ever get surprised or startled while not carrying it, expect to find yourself reaching for it anyway as part of your "startle/flinch" response.
    • ...and the FN Five-seveN (Protip: safety is above the trigger, use your index finger)
    • This troper's father has been shooting for almost sixty years—his revolver-trained hand NEVER remembers to unlock a safety on the draw, resulting in a useless yank or two on the locked trigger. "There's nothing safe about a little switch that gives a punk time to kill you!" he says.
  • Getting used to a Tivo DVR means you use the 'jump back 6 seconds' button a fair amount. You find yourself trying to use it on everything electronic...
    • Similarly, getting used to a PC media player like MPC or Zoomplayer will have you reaching for a keyboard to press the 'back 5 seconds' key combination on everything electronic.
      • Or worse, real conversations.
    • Or when visiting someone who does not have a DVR-equipped TV set, confusedly mashing the fast-forward and rewind buttons to no avail.
  • On a similar note, watching a VHS tape when you're used to DVD controls. DVD players allow changing the speed of rewind and fast-forward by tapping the button again, and you press Play to return to normal speed. Some VCRs have the same feature, especially if a tape is recorded in long play mode. But other VCRs just take you out of rewind or fast forward when you press the button again; you have to hold the button to make it go faster.
    • Some DVD/VHS combos do both.
  • Any txt-oholics who change phone brands suffer from this. Manufacturers sure like to use completely different keys for commands like "space". This happens especially with dumbphones but can also happen when Apple or Google rearranges the on-screen keys in an operating system update.
  • Trained martial artists have gotten seriously hurt against knife-users because of reflexively trying to block the blade, which is impossible for normal humans. It's slightly better if you were taught to parry at the wrist than outright block, but still no guarantee.
    • Which is why most training centers with an emphasis on self-defence teach knife defense. Of course, the best way to avoid dying in a knife-fight is to not get into one.
  • Most strategies in modern fencing consist of trying to work out what reflexive reactions you can provoke from your opponent and how best to exploit them.
  • If your workplace requires you to hit other numbers before you can dial to external lines, for quite a while you'll find yourself forgetting to do so and end up accidentally calling anyone from the Chief Janitor to the Big Boss and generally embarassing yourself. After you've gotten used to the system, you'll reflexively start doing the same thing at home or on the cellphone/handphone, dialling wrong numbers and referring to the person who answers as "Dude! I got tickets for the game! Who's your daddy, bitch?" only to realize that no, that's not your best buddy on the other end of the line.
    • Ask any 911 dispatcher: the typical call from a business isn't an emergency, but because someone thought they had to dial '9' before the real phone number.
  • Does your culture/nation/society/whatever have family name first and given name last or vice versa? Either way, if you go somewhere that has it the other way around, confusion will ensue. Even within the same "whatever", you can encounter this problem with certain websites, like Danb*oru.
    • Happened when Koei switched from the Last First method in Dynasty Warriors to the First Last method in Samurai Warriors.
  • If you've gotten used to living in a same gender dorm / hostel / house with a bunch of your buddies, you might be surprised to find that doing things like walking out of the shower and dripping water all over the floor with just a tiny towel around your waist, leaving smelly socks and clothes all over the place, leaving old pizza boxes and food cartons around until they start growing stinky mushroomy thingies on them and living without hygiene in general is not considered acceptable behaviour in society. Be wary if you visit your parents while on this phase.
  • Have you ever been confronted by a large chunk of text and caught your eyes heading toward the upper left corner of the page in pursuit of the "Find on Page" function before realizing you were looking at a book and not a web browser?
    • Likewise, automatically skipping over banner ads before realizing you're reading a text book and all the brightly coloured, highlighted boxes are in fact "important key information" notes.
  • Likewise, holding your finger on a word in a paper book, or trying to scroll to it, to look up the meaning.
  • Hand gestures tend to vary from culture to culture. In the U.S., waving your hand at someone is a way to say hi, but to the Japanese it means "come here". Also, in the U.S., the thumbs up is a signal of approval, but raising your thumb in Kenya is akin to flipping the middle finger.
  • Some people, when gesturing that something is to their liking, automatically give the "okay" gesture of curling their thumb and index finger together and raising the other three. Plenty of others, however, just give a thumbs up. If you're one of the latter half, you're going to have trouble if you learn to scuba dive - the "okay" signal is the one for "everything's fine", but if you accidentally give the thumbs up underwater, it signifies that you intend to surface, and by implication, that everything is NOT fine. Thumbs down is less likely to be an issue, because it's a signal you give on the surface meaning "let's descend". However, the "so-so" gesture of holding your palm parallel to the ground and rocking it from side to side means "something's wrong" underwater (usually followed by pointing at the problem). Whilst a lot of signals are fairly intuitive (since they should be easy to learn and remember), because they tend to be things that are easy to do with your hands, we usually already have some mentally preassigned meaning to them, and so some of them do require overcoming your natural (surface-based) muscle memory to remember the correct way to say something underwater. And let's not even get onto the fact that different dive operations in different parts of the world can use slightly varying signals - it's part of the reason that the safety procedures involve making sure everyone is familiar with the signals before each dive.
  • People who ride different types of bicycles on a regular basis can fall victim to this. One example might be someone who owns an 18-speed mountain bike and a 21-speed one. If they are coasting real fast down a hill on their 18-speed, they will often try to switch into the seventh right-hand gear... only to quickly remember that there are only six.
    • Another (more painful) example might be someone who rides a bike with regular gears, and then try to ride a fixed-gear bike. Many new fixed-gear riders (including a lot of would-be thieves) quickly find out that no, the bike they are on does not coast like their regular one. Many spills have happened because of this.
      • And the reverse (typically when growing up and going from a fixed-gear bike to, say, a 3-speed) and you discover that backpedalling no longer stops the bike...
    • What's worse is that they're different braking schemes for bikes. Most people grow up with the "back pedal to brake" style brakes. Then transfer them to a bike with lever braking, and you'll be guaranteed they'll try to back pedal at least once in order to stop.
  • When your body changes noticably in a short amount of time (haircut, getting a cast off, and so forth) you will find yourself still acting as if it was the older version for some time.
  • Ctrl+Z is undo in Adobe Photoshop and other drawing programs. Making the Ctrl+Z motion in your sketchbook causes screams of disgust at an inanimate object for not working right.
    • Also, several programs use Ctrl+Shift+Z as redo, while an almost equal number use Ctrl+Y as redo. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what might happen.
    • Similarly, people having to switch between online textbooks and literal textbooks find themselves desperately making the Ctrl-F motion to find certain parts of the text.
  • Some telemarking firms have you dial out on the computer keypad, which is inverted from a typical phone pad (1-2-3 is on the bottom instead of the top.) If you work there long enough, you'll start dialing all phones upside-down.
  • People who work in high volume call centers or other jobs that require answering the phone a lot with a standard greeting will sometimes find themselves answering their home or cell phones with their job's greeting.
  • Spend all of your time drawing on a tablet. Switch to pencil and paper. Wonder why Ctrl+Z does nothing.
    • Alternatively: Try and move your pencil over your sketchbook (or worse, your tablet!) in order to move the cursor on your computer. Again, wonder why it does nothing.
  • The number pad on PCs (and pocket calculators) has "123" on the bottom row. The one on ATMs (and telephones and television sets) has "123" on the top ones.
  • Rotary phones in the U.S., Canada, and Japan have the numbers going 1 through 0 in ascending order [1]. In most European countries, however, they go from 0 to 9 [2]. Even worse is that the numbers may be printed in reverse order, such as in New Zealand! [3] [dead link]
  • One this Troper discovered from her time cosplaying: Going from Chest Binding to Corsets during costume changes. See, the problem is how you breathe: with binding, the top half of your torso is constricted, so you find that the only way you can breathe is through your stomach (i.e. you puff out your belly to breathe) However, anyone who has worn a corset knows that it mostly constricts the lower half of you torso, and so you breath through your chest. Doing a quick swap between can lead to several moments of absolute panic as you stand around unable to understand why you can't breathe before you realise you're doing it wrong...
  • Men's bathrooms in countries such as Britain and Germany use timed flush urinals instead of manual flush, where all the (handle-less) urinals are connected to one slowly refilling tank of water that eventually flushes all of them every few minutes. This can be very wasteful, but men in those countries are so used to the timed flush system that attempts to switch have failed since they forget to flush.
  • Those who work in retail can attest to this: Ever went to the grocery store you work at to get some milk but you decided to punch in only to realize that you're not supposed to be working that day?
  • Going from reading on a tablet like the iPad to any Kindle that doesn't have "Touch" in the name leads to you swiping your finger uselessly across the screen to turn pages, or pressing the sides when going Kindle-to-tablet.
  • Go to a country where nodding means "no" and shaking your head means "yes" or vice versa. Confusion ensues.
  • In countries with Cyrillic alphabet switching the keyboard layout from Cyrillic to QWERTY and back is done usually either by Ctrl+Shift or by Alt+Shift. Using the computer, where the needed combination is different from what you've accustomed to, can be very annoying.
  • Attempting to use the car radio's volume control to make human passengers louder.
  • Completely losing your balance on non-moving escalators. Moving ones are fine. Stairs are fine. Escalators that ought to be moving but aren't are confusing.

Hardware-specific[edit | hide]

  • Any Game Boy Advance game when played on a Nintendo DS, since the A and B buttons are laid out differently on the DS and the system's setting offers no choice for button config for GBA games.

In-Universe Examples[edit | hide]

Comicbooks and Manga[edit | hide]

  • Western comics read left to right, and manga reads right to left. This leads to at least one person who has read a conversation as "Fine, thank you." "Good, and you?" "Hi! How are you doing?".
    • The same problem occurs to students of the language. Westerners reflexively start at the top left, so new students of Chinese and Japanese occasionally wind up staring at the end of a piece of writing.
      • It doesn't help that Japanese and Chinese can be correctly written left to right, going to the next line at the end of a row (like English) OR up to down, starting in the upper-right corner and moving left at the end of a column. Luckily you can usually tell pretty easily since up/down writing tend to be spaced in a rather distinctive way.
      • This is why some manga are published in a flipped format. Of course, if you just finished reading an unflipped series...
      • Other translated manga have an extra page at the left side of the book which says something like "STOP! You're about to spoil a great story! The beginning of this story is on the other side of the book!"
    • Much worse when the manga artist deliberately flips the language for absolutely no reason at all.
    • Manhwa are written left-to-right too. So unless you read them often and remember that it's not a Manga or Manhua, you'll end up reading it the wrong way.
    • Arabic writing is backwards to Latinic or "western" writing too.
  • Shougo from Holyland: Despite his time on the street, he was trained in karate first rather than street brawling. When he gets into trouble in a certain fight, he instinctively falls back on his karate base, which only makes things worse.

Film[edit | hide]

  • In Burn After Reading a US Marshall talks about how muscle memory is pounded into people who went through the same training as him so they just react without even thinking. This turns out to be a massive Chekhov's Gun when he later shoots and kills another major character who he thinks is a burglar. He doesn't even realize what he's done at first, because he frantically flees downstairs and only goes up to investigate long after the "intruder" should have been coming after him.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • In Dune, Paul is used to attacking slowly while sword-fighting in order to circumvent the deflector shields that are common in the empire. (His defenses, on the other hand, are appropriately fast.) When forced into a knife-fight to the death against an opponent who had never fought with a shield before, despite being clearly far more skilled than his opponent, Paul couldn't make a killing blow as he kept slowing his strikes (which would be perfect for getting through a shield, but a burden here). Unfortunately, this leads spectators to believe that he is being incredibly cruel by dragging out his opponent's inevitable death.
    • Although part of this can be attributed to him having never killed anyone before. This is pointed out by his mother at the time.
  • In the Katharine Kerr novel Snare, Zayn has absolute perfect memory. Most of the time this is useful (except for the social stigma that his culture places on Recallers), but it interferes with his archery skills. He was trained to the longbow, so when traveling with the Comnees, who use the horsebow, he tries to handle it like a longbow without thinking. The only time he ever uses a Comnee bow and manages to hit something, it's because he was drugged, and unable to rely on muscle memory.
  • In World War Z, soldiers fighting Zack find it difficult to stop aiming for center of mass even after they learn that only headshots work.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Jaime Lannister's dominant hand is amputated, and he has to learn to fight with a sword in his left hand instead. It goes about as well as you'd expect.
    • Dany finds out that riding a horse is very different from riding a dragon. For example, she mentions that whipping her horse on its right flank makes the horse go left, because a horse's first instinct is to flee from danger, but whipping a dragon on its right side makes it veer right, because a dragon's first instinct is always to attack.
  • In the Magic: The Gathering novel Future Sight spectral murderer Dinne-il-Vec is beaten by Radha due to this. His strategy of blinking in and out of existence and heckling her with shallow cuts, rather than simply offing her with a decisive blow when given the opportunity ends up being his undoing.
  • Allegiance has a stormtrooper's drilled-in self-defense techniques - such as disarming someone who's at close range and pointing a blaster at him, and then shooting when said someone threatens him - result in killing a superior officer, forcing him to desert.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • An episode of The Sketch Show featured an office worker switching from a typewriter to a computer for the first time, then pushing the monitor off the desk as if she were still typing on a typewriter.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, this is used to explain why Snake suddenly knows how to use CQC (added to the series in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, a prequel). He apparently knew how to do it all along, but never felt comfortable using it, due to Big Boss' betrayal of FOXHOUND. However, Big Boss' files were declassified by the Pentagon, and his CQC techniques became widespread enough that practically every soldier in battle at least knows about it. Snake finds himself using it again because his first response to someone using it on him is to respond in kind.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • MediaWiki, see those buttons at the top of the page and the links down the side? Sometimes, during a site update, they get rearranged. Then you find yourself adding something to your watchlist when you want to see a trope's edit history.
    • The keyboard commands are (normally, unless the administrator damages something) still the same though (use whatever key is used to access "accesskey" attributes in a HTML document; commonly ALT+SHIFT+letter; the letter can be "e" for edit, "t" for talk, "r" for recent changes, "x" for random, etc)
  • Manga Fox for some reason switched places of Bookmark and Forum. So most of the times when trying to see if the manga you read has updated, you will accidentally send yourself to the forum.
  1. shaking the controller.
  2. right shoulder button to accelerate, left shoulder button to drift, A button to shoot items
  3. If there's any indication at all in-game, it's that they run away from the SAS rather than towards them.
  4. Shift+Z is a superfocus mode. Z is normally used to attack
  5. Posting is supporting your weight on the other persons body to make it easier for them to lift you.