Created By: SaniOKh on August 11, 2013 Last Edited By: Arivne on April 30, 2014

Last Level, New Rules

The final level of a video game discards or alters some of the core gameplay mechanics.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Formerly "Final Level Simplication".

A game has a set of rules. These rules define the player's progression through the game, the way the main character fights, regains health, upgrades his or her gear, accesses bonus levels, wins or loses, and are constant throughout the game.

But sometimes, to drive home the point that the hero just reached The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, passed the last Point of No Return, raise the stakes or help the player, or simply to make the final level more memorable, some games alter some of the key game mechanics or remove them altogether. These alterations can be justified by an ongoing threat being at least partially thwarted, or the hero getting an Eleventh Hour Superpower or a gameplay-altering item... or just come out of nowhere, as it is often the case in old-school games.

All of the sudden, the hero can't get any more money (which at this point would be useless anyways) , his loyal sidekick is no longer there, the items he would normally have to collect to advance are completely out of the picture, a handicap imposed on the hero throughout the entire adventure can suddenly be gone as well, or a new one can appear. Usual distractions, such as bonus stages, become off-limits, and new Anti-Frustration Features can suddenly come up to let the player focus on ending the game. Sometimes, even the HUD is altered to reflect the changes.

To reflect the variety of possible changes to the rules of the game, precise types of rule change had to be identified. It is entirely possible for the same stage to exhibit rule changes of two of more types at once.

Contrast Final-Exam Boss, where every gameplay element introduced throughout the game is used in order to complete the level and fight the boss, although it is possible for the two to overlap. If done poorly, can contribute to the final stage becoming a Disappointing Last Level.

Examples

  • A lot of MMORP Gs in general do this. Most of them offer plenty of ways to enjoy the game: questing, dungeons, Pv P, crafting, exploration. But to experience the end of the story and get the best equipment, you will almost always have to raid. Raiding appears similar to doing normal dungeons, except with stricter gameplay (often offering no room for mistakes), an increase of the number of players that more or less requires the use of a big guild over friends (and coupled with the former point makes a significantly more 'serious' and potentially toxic atmosphere), and oftentimes a new group UI to make up for the increased group size. According to even famous companies like Blizzard, these differences are enough to make sure that raiding is only ever done by single-digit percentages of the playerbase.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
    • Some 2D games disable access to Special Stages past a certain point:
      • The 16-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog disables them during the last full Zone, Scrap Brain Zone. In the first act, it's done mostly for technical reasons. Act 2 actually uses this limitation to make the act completion segue into a cutscene.
      • Its 8-bit counterpart does this as well, even though Scrap Brain isn't its last Zone.
      • Sonic 3 & Knuckles stops placing Giant Rings (that lead to Special Stages) in levels from Hidden Palace Zone onwards.
    • After Sky Base act 1 in the 8-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic becomes an One-Hit-Point Wonder for the remainder of the game: not only are the rings nowhere in sight in act 2 and 3, the ring counter is gone from the HUD as well.
    • The 16-bit Sonic the Hedgehog 2 features an example if one plays as Sonic & Tails. For the majority of the game, a second player can pick up the controller and easily kill bosses, since Tails is invincible in this mode. At the beginning of Wing Fortress Zone, their plane gets shot down, with Tails still inside, leaving the more vulnerable Sonic tackle the remainder of the game alone.
    • The 8-bit Sonic the Hedgehog 2 removes the search for Chaos Emeralds in the last two zones, Scrambled Egg Zone (where it's the boss who gives out the Chaos Emeald upon defeat) and Crystal Egg Zone (which doesn't have a Chaos Emeald at all) .
    • The last zone, Panic Puppet Zone, in Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island. For the majority of the game, Sonic had to break open enemy robots to free the Flickies contained inside, and lead them to the Goal Ring in order to advance to the next stage. In Panic Puppet Act 1, Flickies are contained in immobile capsules; in Panic Puppet Act 2 they are completely absent.
    • Sonic Unleashed the final level contains no Sun or Moon medals Sonic normally has to collect in other stages.
  • Kirby games love an Unexpected Shmup Level for the final level and/or the final boss, after an all-platformer/beat-em-up game. Also, the only Copy Ability you usually have access to is the Eleventh Hour Superpower.
  • Wonder Boy
  • The Legend of Zelda
    • The final levels in the first and second installments can exhibit this trope if Link collects the Magical Key, which completely removes the need to explore the final dungeon for keys, allowing the player to concentrate on finding the final boss.
    • In Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, after losing all lives, Link respawns at the temple with the sleeping princess Zelda. But if he does so inside the final dungeon, he will respawn at the dungeon's entrance.
    • Once Link travels to the final level of the game (inside the Moon) in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, time stops being important to the game and the clock disappears from the HUD.
  • The final level of Half-Life 2 takes away all your weapons, leaving you with just the overcharged Gravity Gun to fend for yourself.
  • When fighting Bowser in Super Mario World, the time limit is disabled and no more points can be earned. This is removed in the Updated Re Release for the Game Boy Advance, in favor of an extended time limit.
  • The final chapter of Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus is the only one without the optional hint bottles and vaults.
  • Throughout Tower Of Heaven, new complications to the gameplay were added as you progress (you are not allowed to walk left, you must avoid touching the sides of the walls, etc.). In the final level, these complications are removed.
  • Alan Wake's final chapter takes place in a created fantasy where there are no enemies (and so no weapons) and they only thing the player can do is shine their light on hovering written words to make them appear.
  • In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, the last area gives you infinite Hyper Mode, which normally requires you to burn one energy tank to use.
Community Feedback Replies: 50
  • August 11, 2013
    IAmATropist
    Not sure if this counts, but when fighting Bowser in Super Mario World, you cannot earn points and there is no time limit.
  • August 11, 2013
    Chabal2
    • The single-player mode of Super Smash Bros contains a lot of platformer levels, where moving and drop-through platforms are common. The last level takes place on Final Destination (of Abridged Arena Array fame), a long, flat surface.
    • When fighting Ganon in a linked game of Oracle Of Seasons / Ages, you don't use any items other than your sword, in contrast to the fight with Twinrova.
  • August 12, 2013
    Arivne
    Italicized work names.
  • August 12, 2013
    Koveras
    • The final level of Half-Life 2 takes away all your weapons, leaving you with just the overcharged Gravity Gun to fend for yourself.
  • August 12, 2013
    DAN004
  • August 12, 2013
    Jokubas
    I'm not quite sure if this counts, due to me not exactly clear about how Unexpected Shmup Level wouldn't count if it ended on it, but I'll post it so you can decide.

    • A lot of MMORP Gs in general do this. Most of them offer plenty of ways to enjoy the game: questing, dungeons, Pv P, crafting, exploration. But to experience the end of the story and get the best equipment, you will almost always have to raid. Raiding appears similar to doing normal dungeons, except with stricter gameplay (often offering no room for mistakes), an increase of the number of players that more or less requires the use of a big guild over friends (and coupled with the former point makes a significantly more 'serious' and potentially toxic atmosphere), and oftentimes a new group UI to make up for the increased group size. According to even famous companies like Blizzard, these differences are enough to make sure that raiding is only ever done by single-digit percentages of the playerbase.
  • August 12, 2013
    KingZeal
    • The final level of many classic series Megaman games is usually free of difficult enemies and instant death traps. Megaman 10 does this to an extreme (aside from one bed of spikes). The final portion of the stage is pretty much a long "drop" (actually launch, since you're upside down and gravity is reversed) into space.
    • The final stretch of most Castlevania games is a stairway hike to Dracula's lair.
    • The final parts of Metroid and Super Metroid have no exploration or item collection. Just follow the path to the end and kill all the Metroids (and other enemies) in your way.
  • August 13, 2013
    henke37
    • Tower Of Eden - The last levels throw away the rulebook that you had to follow during the game.
  • August 13, 2013
    Larkmarn
    I think "Simplification" isn't quite the right word.
  • August 13, 2013
    SaniOKh
    Hence the tag "needs a better name" :)
  • August 13, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    As a side note: do we have a trope for the opposite of this? I mean a last level where you have to use every skill and ability you have gathered thus far in order to finish the game.
  • August 13, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Final Exam Boss? Specifically, the bit about how you have to use all your powers in The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
  • August 13, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ Ah, thanks. I was pretty sure I had seen that somewhere but couldn't find it. Those two tropes should also be mentioned in the description of this one.
  • August 13, 2013
    videogmer314
    In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, the last area gives you infinite Hyper Mode, which normally requires you to burn one energy tank to use.
  • August 13, 2013
    DAN004
    In Pac Man World (the first one), in the final battle with Toc-Man, the Pac family that Pac-Man has rescued earlier (if you managed it, that is) will help you by giving you some health pickups.
  • August 13, 2013
    Jallen
    • Alan Wake's final chapter takes place in a created fantasy where there are no enemies (and so no weapons) and they only thing the player can do is shine their light on hovering written words to make them appear.
  • August 13, 2013
    IAmATropist
    • When fighting Baby Bowser in Yoshis Story, the fruits growing on the Super Happy Tree can only be used to regain health, not to finish the level. (Which is justified, considering you have to eat 30 fruits to begin boss fights.)
      • In addition, rather than having to break a Bubble Pop or eat 6 honeydews to get a Heart Fruit, they also simply grow on the Super Happy Tree.
    • When "fighting" the Masked Man (Claus) in MOTHER 3, Duster, Boney, and Kumatora are unconscious (if revived, the Masked Man will immediately knock them unconscious again). In addition, Lucas will not attack because the Masked Man is his brother. To win, Lucas must survive until Claus commits suicide by firing a bolt of lighting at Lucas and having Lucas' Franklin Badge deflecting it back at him.
    Not sure if this last one counts.
    • In EarthBound, Giygas' third phase and onward can only be damaged via Paula's Pray command.

  • August 15, 2013
    TalonisWolf
    In 007 Legends on some of the Moonraker Missions, they've added zero-gravity, which effectively eliminates jumping, sprinting, and most cover.
  • August 15, 2013
    Koveras
    Contrast Final Exam Boss, where you have to use every kind of gameplay in the final battle.
  • August 16, 2013
    NESBoy
    In Icarus Proudbottom Teaches Typing, you normally have 20 hearts, which show how many mistakes you're allowed to make before you lose the game. During the climax, the Big Bad takes away five of your hearts at the start of each passage, so by the time you get to the third and final passage, you only have five hearts left, leaving very little room for error.
  • August 16, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ That's complicating, not simplifying. :/
  • August 18, 2013
    SaniOKh
    I'll add the fitting examples later down the road, I have to define the trope a little more precisely (and maybe rename it) .
  • August 18, 2013
    NESBoy
    Okay, I've got a better example.

    • Throughout Tower Of Heaven, new complications to the gameplay were added as you progress (you are not allowed to walk left, you must avoid touching the sides of the walls, etc.). In the final level, these complications are removed.
  • August 25, 2013
    SaniOKh
    Feel free to debate the defined types (and whether they are needed) and the new name.
  • August 25, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ It's a good thing to list forms of this trope, but I don't think it has to be fit into "types". Just write some of them and note "this isn't an exhaustive list/but not limited to".
  • August 25, 2013
    Chabal2
    • Dawn Of War II: during most of the game, you need to decide which 3 squads will accompany your main character, leaving two of them behind. In the final mission, they all show up having been evacuated from the exploding strike cruiser Armageddon, and you are joined by Gabriel Angelos. During the game, there is also a great deal of emphasis on keeping your units alive, here you also get an ability that makes all your units invincible.
    • Final Fantasy X: After beating the Final Aeon, you must summon and fight all of your own Aeons to prevent the Big Bad from possessing them. During this battle, all your characters are given Auto Revive even after they die, meaning you almost can't lose even if you try.
    • The last level of the Human campaignof Warcraft III gives you a max-level paladin who can turn invincible, heal and ressurect/deal huge damage to his allies/enemies, has ridiculously high armor, and thanks to his Unholy Holy Sword, deals very high damage against everything. It's very much possible to have Arthas solo the mission once he obtains it, even if the sword did take the life of his dwarven companion before he took it. The other factions tend to have it harder for their final missions (Night Elves never get Chimeras for theirs, Undead have to Hold The Line against three bases with top-tier units with only one hero, Orcs are repeatedly attacked by demons that can land anywhere, including the middle of their base).
      • The expansion's Orc campaign starts with basically an open-world RPG, the second sightly less so with some Real Time Strategy, the third is a Defense Of The Ancients-style map with four stupidly-high leveled, awesomely-equipped heroes.
      • For most of the expansion's Undead campaign, Arthas actually loses levels as the Lich King loses power. On the last mission he finally can start gaining levels again, and has a high-level tank hero to protect him.
    • Thanks to its random-generation system, the grottoes of Dragon Quest IX can have a boss that is vastly inferior to the monsters it contains.
  • August 25, 2013
    Beed28
    In Wario Land 3, normally Wario is completely invincible and cannot die regardless of how much he gets hurt. However, the Final Boss can actually kill Wario by crushing him inbetween his Giant Hands Of Doom, complete with a Game Over screen.
  • April 21, 2014
    NESBoy
    • Super Smash Bros Brawl's Adventure Mode mostly consists of traditional "go from point A to point B" levels. The final level, however, is a Metroidvania where you have to find and fight all the game's bosses and the playable characters' doppelgangers in order to enter the final boss's room.
    • In Angry Birds Star Wars, when you do enough damage to Emperor Palpatine in the final level, Darth Vader will get on the slingshot so he can finish him off himself. If you miss, Vader will get back on the slingshot, so you can fire him as many times as you'd like without consequences. Of course, the only way to clear the level is to actually fling Vader at Palpatine.
    • The final level of Alfred Chicken does not contain Water Cans or Pots of Jam. You still need to peck all the balloons in the level to progress, but the level itself is much more linar than the others.
  • April 21, 2014
    needsanewhobby
    Compare Unexpected Gameplay Change, to which this is a subtrope.

    Also Kid Icarus turns from a platformer to a schmup in the last level.
  • April 21, 2014
    Someoneman
    Mighty Switch Force revolves around using a "switch" mechanic where pressing A will make some block solid and some blocks immaterial. In the last level of both games, switching is instead done automatically every few seconds and cannot be controlled.
  • April 21, 2014
    zarpaulus
    The last bit of Mass Effect 3 has Shepard alone, with nothing but a pistol that inexplicably has unlimited ammo, and staggering painfully slowly.
  • April 21, 2014
    somerandomdude
    Diablo III forces the hero to face the titular Final Boss alone after having spent virtually the entire quest with one of three companions by their side.
  • April 21, 2014
    Someoneman
    Also, please remove the "Type X" from the various ways this can be done, as it encourages tropers to write "Type X" instead of describing the example.
  • April 21, 2014
    Chabal2
    Warhammer 40000 Space Marine: Most of the game is a Third Person Shooter, but the final boss is a freefalling series of Quick Time Events.

  • April 21, 2014
    VampireBuddha
    Wrath of the Black Manta is a side-scrolling platformer, but the last level has some first-person bits.
  • April 23, 2014
    Bionicman
    In the first God of War game, the final battle with Ares abandons the combat mechanics the entire game was built around, replacing them with a much slower and clunkier system. The sequels mercifully avoided this.
  • April 25, 2014
    StrixObscuro
    • In the last level of Prince Of Persia: The Sands of Time, the main character loses his time-controlling dagger, but gains a large sword that disintegrates enemies with one hit.
  • April 25, 2014
    surgoshan
    • The end of the original Half Life takes place in the world of Xen, with different gravity.
  • April 25, 2014
    Eddy1215
    Towards the end the second game of The Legend Of Spyro Trilogy, you are stripped of your elemental powers and must fight the final boss with physical attacks, which questions the point of the choice of upgrading the powers.
  • April 27, 2014
    aurora369
    In Final Fantasy VIII, Ultimecia's Castle (the final dungeon) is sealed by eight seals which are guarded by eight guardians. Each seal bans you from using one of the gameplay mechanics such as cast spells, draw spells, use items, save the game, etc. When all eight seals are in place, the only thing you can do is Attack Attack Attack. If that's fine with you, you can ignore the guardians and proceed to battle the Big Bad with no tactics. If you want your tactical solutions back, fight the guardians, break the seals and get your powers back.
  • April 27, 2014
    Unown
    • Lufia Curse Of The Sinistrals
      • Just prior fighting Daos, Sinistral of Terror and final boss in Lufia Curse Of The Sinistrals, the player is finally given the Duel Blade: a sword with the unique ability to temporarily stop time, an ability that said final boss shares. At no point apon claiming the blade is the player told that they can do so.
      • Furthermore in the New Game Plus, you must face off the True Final Boss using another unforshadowed technique in addition to the Duel Blade's timestoppingableness: [Sword Beam sword beams]
  • April 27, 2014
    Howzers
    Crash Bandicoot 2 turns its final boss fight into into a flying mission where you effectively race around meteors. Its mechanics are not seen in any other level and the fact that you are racing is never explained to the player.
  • April 27, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ the flying mechanic does appear in 2 levels...
  • April 27, 2014
    OmarKarindu
    • The final Boss Battle in Yoshis Island adds elements of Third Person Shooter mechanics to the Platform Game as you fire giant eggs into the background to take out Baby Bowser.
    • in the Franchise/Metroid series, the famous catastrophicCountdown sequences that end most series games are the only portions of the game that work as a Timed Mission.
    • In Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, the level containing the True Final Boss, Chaos, is a strictly linear level with no side paths or areas, diverging considerably from the Metroidvania mechanics of the rest of the game. Additionally, the boss removes your various soul powers at first, removing one of the central gameplay elements for the early part of the battle.
    • In another Sonic example, the Final Boss in Sonic Generations works as a flying level obstacle course with a strict time limit.
    • Many of the games in the Videogame/Gradius series end with some sort of accelerating Obstacle Course level in which there are few if any enemies.
    • The final level of Double Dragon introduces a number of Booby Trap obstacles previously unseen in the game, including the infamous extending bricks and, in al versions other than the NES and Atari2600 ports, statues that attack with One Hit KO spears.
    • In an especially infamous example, the final level of Renegade introduces a "pick-the-right-door" puzzle as part of a maze in which [[Scrappy Mechanic choosing the wrong doors can even send you back to previous levels].
    • In the original Super Smash Bros, the Final Boss, Master Hand, is the only opponent in the Fighting Game game who uses a Hit Points system instead of the usual damage percentage mechanics.
  • April 27, 2014
    Folamh3
  • April 27, 2014
    IndirectActiveTransport
    Disappointing Last Level is not a trope to compare it two. Unexpected Gameplay Change would be.
  • April 27, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^ DLL is more of a result.
  • April 27, 2014
    Folamh3
    Recommend sorting the examples by genre as quickly as possible.
  • April 28, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    • In SNES rendition of Yoshis Island, otherwise a 2-dimensional platformer game with occasional non-crucial minigames, last boss fight and only last boss fight involves throwing eggs away into the background rather than left and right. Them flying in parabolic trajectories rather than in straight lines becomes another new.
  • April 30, 2014
    boone
    Third-Person Shooter:
    • Near the end of Mass Effect, you fight up the outside of a space station, using grav boots in a zero-gravity environment. You can deal with foes by throwing or lifting them, so they drift off into space.
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