Created By: longWriter on April 15, 2013 Last Edited By: longWriter on April 29, 2013
Troped

Balance, Power, Skill, Gimmick

When there are 4 choices of who to play as, there is a balanced character, two characters at either end of a scale of stats, and a gimmick character

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Trope
When there are four choices for who to play as in a video game, often, one of the choices (usually your first pick) is a balance of whatever stats the game plays with. The second choice is at one end of the stats scale, the third choice is at the other end, opposite of the second, and the fourth choice is somehow set apart from all three by having a completely different gimmick, often one that doesn't directly tie into the stats scale.

Note that this doesn't have to be power vs skill as the name suggests; it can be just about anything, from magic vs. physical power, range vs. melee, jump height vs. run speed, offense vs. defense, speed vs. power, or other things.

Related to Faction Calculus. Subtrope of Competative Balance. The Gimmick is often a Master of None.

Examples:


[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Beat-Em-Up Games]]

  • Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles: Leonardo is consistently a Jack of All Stats, but how the other turtles stack up isn't always consistent. Often, Raphael is a Fragile Speedster, Donatello is either a Stone Wall or a Mighty Glacier, and Michelangelo is the gimmick.

  • In Streets of Rage 2, Axel is the regular street brawler, Max is the hulking wrestler, Skate the is fast kid using spinning techniques, while Blaze has catfighty moves with high range and a better knife swing.

  • Ninja Baseball Batman: Captain Jose is the Jack-of-All-Stats, Twinbats Ryno is the Fragile Speedster, Beanball Roger is the Mighty Glacier, and Stick Straw is the Glass Cannon. What makes Straw the Gimmick is the half-screen range of some of his basic attacks and a wide variety of throws -- both valuable tools in a Beat 'em Up.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Flying Games]]

  • In the Star Fox Assault multiplayer, Fox has average stats, while Falco is fragile and has the best Arwing skill, Slippy has a lot of health and has poor Arwing skill, and Krystal has medium-low stats and tends to get barriers a lot (the gimmick).

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Hack And Slash]]

  • In Gauntlet, the Valkyries tended to be Balanced, Warriors emphasized heavy damage, Archers emphasized speed, and Wizards were the gimmick, emphasizing magic.

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Platform Games]]

  • Super Mario Bros. 2: Mario is balanced, Luigi has jump height on his side, Toad has movement speed and lifting power on his side, and the Princess is different from all three in that she can hover for a short period of time.

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Racing Games]]

  • Super Mario Kart: The playable characters are grouped into pairs: Mario and Luigi are balanced, Bowser and Donkey Kong Jr. have slow accelaration but high top speed, Yoshi and the Princess have fast accelaration but low top speed, and Toad and the Koopa Troopa are the gimmick with high traction and low weight.

  • In the F-Zero SNES game, there are four cars to play as. The Blue Falcon is average, the Golden Fox has fast accelaration but is fragile and has low grip, the Fire Stingray has high top speed and is durable but has low accelaration, and the Wild Goose is durable and corners well, the gimmick.

  • Wave Race 64: Ryota is Balanced, Ayumi has low speed but high acceleration (Fragile Speedster), Dave has high speed but low acceleration (Mighty Glacier) Miles has medium stats but extremely high turning (gimmick)

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real-Time Strategy Games]]

  • In Warcraft 3, the four playable races were Humans, Orcs, Undead, and Night Elves. Orcs emphasized the brute force of their units, while the Undead emphasized strength in numbers. Humans struck a balance between these two, and the Night Elves were different from all three in that they emphasized magic and ranged combat.

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Shoot-Em Up Games]]
  • The four playable teams in Touhou ~ Imperishable Night somewhat counts:
    • The balanced Boundary Team has the standard setup: Human Reimu attacks with weak, spread-out shots for weak enemies and the Youkai Yukari has strong, focused shots for bosses. They also have their own small gimmick in the form of homing attacks.
    • The hard-hitting Magic Team has Marisa, who has stronger, but less spread-out shots, as the human, while Alice, the Youkai, shoots a strong laser that can hit multiple enemies. They also have the Good Bad Bugs, nicknamed by fans as MAlice Cannon, which allows them to basically attack together at the same time for heavy damage.
    • The Scarlet Team's human side Sakuya has very spread-out, but very weak shots, while the youkai side Remilia has focused shots, but she also have familiars capable of hitting as hard as her attacking other places.
    • Then there's the gimmicky Ghost Team, which reverses the usual setup, but making the attacks stronger than other teams. It's the half-human Youmu who has the focused shots, while the Youkai side Yuyuko is the one with spread-out shots. They're also the only team whose Youkai meter maxes at 50% Human.

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]

  • The recommended party build in most editions of Dungeons & Dragons is to have a warrior, arcane caster, divine caster, and skillmonkey (usually a fighter, wizard, cleric, and rogue, though there are any number of other permutations). Which character is which depends on how the individual characters are built, but the arcanist is almost always the Power and the skillmonkey is usually the Gimmick.

[[/folder]]
Community Feedback Replies: 17
  • April 15, 2013
    StarSword
    The strategy games examples are covered by Faction Calculus and A Commander Is You (which are practically the same thing).
  • April 15, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    The description of Fighter Mage Thief also includes a glacier/cannon/speedster comparison. Similar to A Commander Is You is the snowclone An Adventurer Is You.
  • April 15, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
    ^ The other way around, actually. An Adventurer Is You came first.

    Oh good, Faction Calculus was already mentioned.

    Can I suggest a different name, given that two of the titles are about speed, which is explicitly stated to be less important in the description? Something like Power Skill Balance Gimmick might work better.
  • April 15, 2013
    TrueShadow1
    • The four playable teams in Touhou ~ Imperishable Night somewhat counts:
      • The balanced Boundary Team has the standard setup: Human Reimu attacks with weak, spread-out shots for weak enemies and the Youkai Yukari has strong, focused shots for bosses. They also have their own small gimmick in the form of homing attacks.
      • The hard-hitting Magic Team has Marisa, who has stronger, but less spread-out shots, as the human, while Alice, the Youkai, shoots a strong laser that can hit multiple enemies. They also have the Good Bad Bugs, nicknamed by fans as MAlice Cannon, which allows them to basically attack together at the same time for heavy damage.
      • The Scarlet Team's human side Sakuya has very spread-out, but very weak shots, while the youkai side Remilia has focused shots, but she also have familiars capable of hitting as hard as her attacking other places.
      • Then there's the gimmicky Ghost Team, which reverses the usual setup, but making the attacks stronger than other teams. It's the half-human Youmu who has the focused shots, while the Youkai side Yuyuko is the one with spread-out shots. They're also the only team whose Youkai meter maxes at 50% Human.
  • April 15, 2013
    longWriter
    There's definitely some overlap with Faction Calculus here, and maybe some with Fighter Mage Thief, but this is specifically when you have four choices of two to play as, and there's a balanced choice, a choice at one end of a stats spectrum, a choice at the other end, and then the fourth choice is something gimmicky. It's not quite the same thing as Fighter Mage Thief, where you have three choices.

    Power Skill Balance Gimmick would work just as well as or better than Balance Glacier Speedster Gimmick, but again, Power vs. Skill is just another possibility for what the sliding scale of stats could be. It can be other things as well.

    I've thought of two more examples: Star Fox Assault's multiplayer, and F-Zero SNES. I'll add those in...
  • April 15, 2013
    StarSword
    Agree with Power, Skill, Balance, Gimmick.

    Tabletop Games:
    • The recommended party build in most editions of Dungeons And Dragons is to have a warrior, arcane caster, divine caster, and skillmonkey (usually a fighter, wizard, cleric, and rogue, though there are any number of other permutations). Which character is which depends on how the individual characters are built, but the arcanist is almost always the Power and the skillmonkey is usually the Gimmick.
  • April 16, 2013
    longWriter
    Updated the title from Balance/Glacier/Speedster/Gimmick to Balance, Power, Skill, Gimmick. I kept Balance first because game companies have a tendency to make your first pick the Jack Of All Stats.
  • April 16, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
    ...that's a good point, but I think it throws off the reader / meter a bit.
  • April 16, 2013
    hevendor717
    In Streets Of Rage 2, Axel is the regular street brawler, Max is the hulking wrestler, Skate the is fast kid using spinning techniques, while Blaze has catfighty moves with high range and a better knife swing.
  • April 18, 2013
    longWriter
    Added the D&D and Streets of Rage examples.

    Here's hoping there are enough examples to make this a trope; I'm wondering how many is enough, and I keep seeing this pattern every time I see four playable choices in a game...
  • April 19, 2013
    longWriter
    Added the Touhou example; sorry I missed that earlier.
  • April 19, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    Well, my apologies for doubting the value of this proposal.

    Seems to me like I've seen a lot of examples at Hardcore Gaming 101, so I'll take a look. I also expect there are a lot of examples of three-character games that drop the "gimmick" role but retain the rest.

    Ninja Baseball Batman: Captain Jose is the Jack Of All Stats, Twinbats Ryno is the Fragile Speedster, Beanball Roger is the Mighty Glacier, and Stick Straw is the Glass Cannon. What makes Straw the Gimmick is the half-screen range of some of his basic attacks and a wide variety of throws -- both valuable tools in a Beat Em Up.
  • April 19, 2013
    acrobox
    Wave Race 64: Ryota is Balanced, Ayumi has low speed but high acceleration (Fragile Speedster), Dave has high speed but low acceleration (Mighty Glacier) Miles has medium stats but extremely high turning (gimmick)
  • April 19, 2013
    StarSword
    @OP: You know you can copy commenters' wiki markup straight out of their comments? Click the pencil and copy the text, and if you're dealing with a bunch of comments at once, paste it into a text document so you can work with it easier.
  • April 21, 2013
    longWriter
    Thanks for the advice, Star Sword---I'm pretty new to making tropes, though I've read this site for over a year.

    Added the Wave Race 64 example and the Ninja Baseball Batman examples.
  • April 25, 2013
    longWriter
    You guys hink I have enough examples to launch this?
  • April 25, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    I do like the variety of genres that the current examples cover. The one thing I suggest is to organize those genres before launching, otherwise it may end up on the list of Pages Needing Example Sorting. If you need help with the markup for headers or folders, check the Text Formatting Rules.
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