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
- 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.
- 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: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.
- 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.
- 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: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: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.
- 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.