Usually, when a Damsel in Distress
needs to be rescued, half the adventure is figuring out where she is, and then getting there. But in this case, you already know where she is--in fact, you talked to her five minutes ago. Unfortunately, she's anything but "rescued".
In this trope, the hero needs something or someone else to truly get the damsel out of distress. They're not so much kidnapped as they are bound, bewitched, enchanted, enfeebled, or in other dire straits. But other than that, same rules apply--The Hero
needs to go on an adventure to save them.
Often, when this occurs, the distressed person may double as Mission Control
or otherwise assist the hero that's trying to save them. This has the benefit of giving the protagonist the ability to interact and speak with the distressed person and let the audience grow on them. In games, it sometimes provides a cozy hub to return to while acting as a constant reminder to the player what's at stake.
Contrast Your Princess Is in Another Castle
- Sometimes used in The Legend of Zelda games.
- In Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, the sleeping Princess Zelda is the first thing you see when you start the game. Every time you run out of lives and continue, you start back at the same palace where she's been sleeping for hundreds of years. This is a stark contrast to the original game, where all of the characters named in the backstory were unseen and mysterious until the very last fight of the game.
- In Wind Waker, Link's sister is in the first dungeon you visit, which is easy enough to traverse. ...But the Big Bad's drag--er, giant bird, prevents her rescue because Link isn't strong enough. You have to attain the Master Sword before she's finally rescued.
- In Pandora's Tower, the protagonist's girlfriend, Elena, is turning into a beast from the very beginning, prompting the hero to go on a quest to save her. The game revolves around building an affectionate relationship with Elena as much as it does adventuring.
- In Shadow of the Colossus, Mono is dead as the game begins, and Wander's deal with the deity Darmin is that it will resurrect her in exchange for Wander destroying each of the Colossi. You return to the central temple where she rests every time you defeat one.
- Princess Gwaelin of Dragon Quest I is in the Marsh Cave that you enter early on in the game. The reason you can't rescue her the first time you enter is because one, you do not have a key, which is required to open up the door to her cell; and two, there's a dragon guarding said door that you won't be able to beat at your current level and equipment.
- In Zeliard, Princess Felicia la Felishika is turned to stone by the villain, and she's being kept in a shrine in the first town where you can visit her whenever you like. There's no dialogue and, while you can go back to the first town at any point if you want to, there's no reason to ever go to her. She's saved remotely by defeating the final boss at a town very far away.
- Scribblenauts Unlimited is all about saving your sister from a curse of petrification. She's at your home the whole time, waiting patiently for you to collect enough Starites to break the spell. (Not that she has much choice.)