Created By: billybobfred on August 25, 2012 Last Edited By: billybobfred on July 9, 2017

Nerf Axed

A sequel/remake/whatnot nerfs something, sort of, by not having it at all.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
  1. Is this even common enough to be split off from regular old Nerf?
  2. The description still needs work.
  3. Title: Acceptable? (Initially submitted as "Nerf By Removal".)

An overpowered ability, tactic, or item is not available in the sequel/remake/whathaveyou. Most often occurs after a Bag of Spilling incident; while you eventually recover the things the devteam deemed balanced, the Game-Breaker is mysteriously nowhere to be found.

A sure sign that this has happened is a "new" ability which is suspiciously similar to the old one, but much less powerful. But sometimes, you don't even get that.

Subtrope of Nerf.

Examples (may contain Rolling Updates)

  • Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance does not have the Magnet spell series, which trivialized battles against enemies not immune. Zero Graviza has a similar effect, but has notable weaknesses in comparison.
  • Towards the end of Infamous, you gain the ability to summon lightning storms to devastating effect. Come the second game, this power is replaced with Ionic Storm, which is noticably less satisfying.
  • In Ultima VII, as in quite a few games in that series, you can find the Armageddon spell, which kills nearly every NPC in the game, leaving it Unwinnable by Design. In Ultima VII Part II, it's replaced with Imbalance, which is rather less hilariously overpowered.
  • The original Super Famicom version of Shiren the Wanderer had an infinite power loop involving a Jar of Duplication and a Scroll of Expansion. The Nintendo DS remake contains neither of those items.
  • Nu-13 was killed off at the end of BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger, replaced with the weaker Lambda-11 in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, and both of them are entirely absent from Blaz Blue Chrono Phantasma pre-release material.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has had to nerf items a lot, usually because of unanticipated interactions with other items. But only one item has ever been completely removed from the game because of its game-breaking power: the sober pill. That's right, the ability to not be drunk anymore was a game-breaker (it made powerleveling far too easy, and that was before years of Power Creep).
  • Sid Meier's Civilization II introduced the "Fundamentalist" form of government, which halved research efficiency on the one hand, but allowed a civ to support a huge number of military units at no charge on the other. A few AI civs would adopt it as soon as they could, but almost invariably, once an AI had reached the end of the tech tree, they'd immediately adopt Fundamentalism, since what gameplay drawback there was to this government was no longer an issue. Plus, with tech trading (especially with the ease it's done between AI civs), the research drawback could effectively be nullified anyway before the tech tree ran out. Fans of the game saw this as creating too much game imbalance, and so this government form didn't reappear in Civilization III.
  • The Elder Scrolls series removed the teleportation and levitation spells from Oblivion and onwards as they were too effective at letting players break the game.
Community Feedback Replies: 33
  • August 25, 2012
    HonestGent
    You could mention how this might come about if the description needs work. Say, the sequel rolls around and Bag Of Spilling is in full effect, but once you've collected all your old gear the overpowered item just... isn't regained. Or is replaced by more balanced weapons. I also think Nerfed By Omission has a better ring to it.
    • Example in the Infamous series, where towards the end of the first game you gain the abilty to summon lightening storms to devastating effect. Cone the second game, this power is replaced with Ionic Storm, which is noticably less satifying.

    If someone could check over that though, I'd be grateful, as it's been a while since I've played either game.
  • August 25, 2012
    NimmerStill
    Never mind.
  • August 25, 2012
    billybobfred
    ... A sub-par replacement isn't meant to be vital to the trope, by the way, though it's a sure sign that it was removed as a nerf, rather than some other reason.
  • August 25, 2012
    MorganWick
    It's not really a nerf if it's removed entirely, is it? Dropping The Game Breaker?
  • August 26, 2012
    billybobfred
    Not quite the same, I suppose, but the same spirit. Thing too powerful, make thing less powerful. Being completely unavailable is certainly a drop in power.
  • August 26, 2012
    TrollBrutal
    The dropping the game breaker thing is done with the sequels of Tie Fighter re Missile Boat and Tie Defender IIRC and the work page is correct there.
  • September 9, 2012
    Arutema
  • January 3, 2013
    Ryusui
    I also prefer Dropping The Game Breaker - "it was too powerful, so the creators left it out (or took it out)." On that note, I think it should also apply to cases where something is removed via a patch or other means as opposed to restricting this to sequels.

    • The Yu Gi Oh Trading Card Game has the Forbidden/Limited List, which can restrict or ban entirely the use of certain cards for tournament use. Some famous examples on the Forbidden List include Yata-Garasu, which could be used to prevent the opponent from drawing at all for the rest of the game, and Butterfly Dagger - Elma, an Equip Spell Card whose self-recycling effect could be used in tandem with Gearfried the Iron Knight (which instantly destroys any Equip Spell Card attached to it) to abuse effects that trigger when a Spell Card is activated.
  • January 3, 2013
    Stratadrake
    Almost too bad we can't call it a Nerf Axe (as in "it got the axe").
  • January 3, 2013
    elwoz
    Kingdom Of Loathing has had to nerf items a lot, usually because of unanticipated interactions with other items. But only one item has ever been completely removed from the game because of its game-breaking power: the sober pill. That's right, the ability to not be drunk anymore was a game-breaker (it made powerleveling far too easy).
  • January 18, 2013
    elwoz
    Bump for additional examples -- right now I'm thinking this should just be an internal subtrope of Nerf.
  • January 18, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Sid Meier's Civilization II introduced the "Fundamentalist" form of government, which halved research efficiency on the one hand, but allowed a civ to support a huge number of military units at no charge on the other. A few AI civs would adopt it as soon as they could, but almost invariably, as soon as all workable techs were researched by an AI civ (i.e. their next available tech was "Future Tech 1"), they'd go from Democracy or whatever to Fundamentalism, since what gameplay drawback there was to this government was no longer an issue. Plus, with tech trading (especially with the ease it's done between AI civs), the research drawback could effectively be nullified anyway before the tech tree ran out. Fans of the game [and I think even Meier himself, IIRC] saw this as creating too much game imbalance, and so this government form didn't reappear in Civilization III.
  • April 20, 2013
    Noah1
  • April 20, 2013
    Bisected8
    • The Elder Scrolls series removed the teleportation and levitation spells from Oblivion and onwards (mods notwithstanding, of course) as they were too effective at letting players break the game.
  • April 20, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
    I like the suggestion of Nerf By Omission, but Dropping The Game Breaker works too.
  • April 20, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    The last sentence of the description sounds dangerously close to just a plain old Nerf. The idea is that the player recognizes the feature as something that didn't exist before in order to make the replacement obvious, correct?
  • October 30, 2016
    billybobfred
    For some reason after three and a half years I suddenly remembered that this exists.

    I'm not clear on what the problem would be with calling it "Nerf Axe" so I'm changing it anyway (though I chose "Nerf Axed" because the obvious verb form seemed to make the idea clearer). I'll switch it back if "Nerf By Removal" or something else gets more approval, though.
  • January 18, 2017
    Noah1
  • January 18, 2017
    Arutema
    Current working title sounds like something about giant foam axes. "Nerf by removal" was fine.
  • January 19, 2017
    ZuTheSkunk
  • January 19, 2017
    Dravencour
  • January 23, 2017
    KingZeal
    Street Fighter V removed almost all forms of reversal-canceling, as a common complaint in the previous title was that the ability to cancel reversal attacks discouraged aggressive play, since a defender could throw out a reversal and then cancel at the last second to avoid being vulnerable. Not only can you not cancel most reversals in V, but if your opponent blocks or avoids it, they can hit you with a guaranteed stun to inflict massive damage.
  • January 21, 2017
    StarSword
    Game Breaker Removal?

    Compare Obvious Rule Patch.

    First Person Shooter:
    • Halo 2 dropped the Sniper Pistol from Halo Combat Evolved, replacing it with the burst-firing Battle Rifle and the less-powerful Magnum pistol. The original pistol and the Battle Rifle are both scoped and do the same amount of damage, but the pistol would have been eligible for Dual Wielding (a new mechanic).
  • January 23, 2017
    longWriter
    New Super Mario Bros: In Super Mario World, the Cape Feather was easily the strongest powerup, able to destroy enemies that the Fire Flower couldn't harm at all. The next 2-D Mario platformer didn't have it or any other flight-item at all, and subsequent installments had a different flight-item besides the Cape Feather (Propellor Mushroom, Super Acorn, or Super Leaf).
  • March 18, 2017
    Getta
    • Mega Man ZX: The secret Model Onote  from the first game is the only Biometal that doesn't reappear in the second game. Then again, it can only be attained after beating the game's story and beating the Bonus Boss, and also not intended to be a major part of the story.
  • March 18, 2017
    Tuckerscreator
    • Zigzagged with Halo 5 Guardians. Armor Abilities in Halo Reach and Video Game/{[Halo 4}} were largely criticized, most of them being much too overpowered (such as Armor Lock giving consequence-free reusuable invincibility) or just too Boring But Practical to seek out but not avoid. As a result, Halo 5 cut the most overpowered Armor Abilities while making the basic ones like Sprint and Evade built in, so everyone could fight on the same level.
  • March 18, 2017
    Bisected8
    What about Bumped Off For Balance ?

    Compare Story Breaker Power and Deus Exit Machina for when something is removed for narrative purposes rather than gameplay purposes.
  • March 18, 2017
    Chabal2
    • Warcraft II: Both sides have an Action Bomb unit (demo teams and goblin sappers for humans and orcs), neither of which can be turned invisible without exploding. In Warcraft III, the spell simply isn't cast rather than killing the unit.
    • Warcraft III: In the first game, dropping sappers (now a mercenary unit) from zeppelins was a perfectly acceptable if expensive tactic, to the point where one level (and a strategy guide) actively encourages you to do so. The sequel prevents Sappers from being loaded into Zeppelins at all, and retroactively applies this to the original game as well (showing an error message if you try to follow the game's advice).

  • March 18, 2017
    Getta
    Blazblue example stops fitting after the third game, lol.
  • March 18, 2017
    Wunderbolt
    In the Dragon Age series, healing spells undergo this. The first game had a Heal spell, a Heal Over Time spell, a Group Heal, and an aura that could heal anyone around the mage. The second game had the Heal, the Group Heal, and the Aura. The Third game only has one healing spell at all, combing the Group Heal and Healing Aura into a Limit Break for the Knight-Enchanter spec for mages.
  • April 17, 2017
    KingZeal
    Is this YKTTW still alive?

    • In Mass Effect Andromeda:
      • Warp, a biotic power which both primes and detonates combos, has been completely removed. Now, very few abilities can do both, and those that can have to be specialized in that manner via the Skill Tree.
      • Hacking and Dominate, powers that allow the player to temporarily convert an enemy to their side have also been removed, with no analogous ability.
      • Stasis, a biotic power that ignored all defense to prevent an enemy from moving in any way, has been removed.

  • April 18, 2017
    Getta
    Marvel Vs Capcom 3: One of the Game Breakers of the second game, Cable, is the only one who doesn't reappear in this game.
  • July 9, 2017
    MememasterFlex
    Subverted in Titanfall 2 as the Smart Pistol was made into a temporary powerup instead of a permanent weapon.
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