When I got access to every NES ROM ever dumped, I began to play more Nintendo than previously thought possible, studying how games squeeze every last ounce out of the hardware. I noticed a few annoying design flaws repeating themselves; some are so common that they're almost clichés.
Climb a ladder to the top of the screen, just so much that a new map section loads. You'll end up one measly pixel above the bottom of the screen. Now jump off to the side. Because the map sections are linked only by the ladder object and not by physics, you fall to your death. Guilty: Super Mario Brothers 2; Ninja Gaiden; Vice: Project Doom; Donkey Kong Country. Not guilty: Cat Nin (NES).
Inconsistent water. Unless you're in a swimming level, you can't swim and touching water is fatal. Guilty: Bucky O'Hare; Super Mario Brothers; Pinocchio. Not guilty: Contra; Super Mario Brothers 3. lordaych points out that one of the early levels in SMB 3 world 8 appears to let you swim in lava, but that's mud.
In a minecart (boat, raft, ostrich, etc.) riding level, if you jump off your ride, even onto a previously safe type of floor object, you die. Guilty: Mickey Mania; The Lion King. Not guilty: Kirby Super Star.
Areas that are impossible to escape from without pressing the reset button. Guilty: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 if you start going real fast and hit a slope or corner just right; Super Mario Brothers's minus world; many independent games with lower quality control standards. Not guilty: Crystal Mines/Exodus, Super Mario Brothers 2, or any other game that has a button to commit instant suicide and revert to a safe starting spot.
You're not carrying any weapons, but if you miss a jump, you cannot grab the platform and pull yourself up. Guilty: Super Mario Brothers; too many others to list. Not guilty: Prince of Persia; Aladdin for Super NES; Pinocchio; Super Mario 64; Tomb Raider; Metroid Fusion.
If you even touch something moving, even from the back, you die because the programmers forgot to put in an animation for (e.g.) "turtle bites player's head off" or "enemy soldier knifes player." Guilty: Super Mario Brothers; Contra; Sonic the Hedgehog; too many others to list.
Kill an enemy, move a few game meters, and come back to where the enemy spawns. It will have respawned because of the healing power of offscreen. Especially annoying if the enemy knocks you back a meter, you kill it, and you scroll back. Guilty: Mega Man/Rockman series (thanks Koutetsu); Ninja Gaiden; Super Mario Brothers 2; Kirby series.
If you break things that hold up other things (e.g. the sides of bridges), the other things don't fall. Guilty: Super Mario Brothers 3; most Tetris clones; Sonic the Hedgehog. Not guilty: Dr. Mario; freepuzzlearena Tetanus; Mega Man X; Boulderdash
See also: Nintendo Logic
| videogame cliches
I don't want this to turn into a "getting to know you" node. If you only have one addition, /msg me instead of adding a writeup. Of course, if you have several, that would be worthy of a writeup. But if this node gets too long, I will add the information in the weaker writeups to my own and have them nuked.