Created By: Koveras on November 4, 2012 Last Edited By: Koveras on May 6, 2013
Troped

Dueling Player Characters - PLEASE REVIEW

The player must fight one player character with another in a single-player video game.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Most single-player video games have a single Player Character whom the player steers throughout the adventure. Some feature more of them, with the player controlling each one of them in turns. And then there are some that pit one player character against another, controlled by the player and the AI, respectively.

If the battle is fought to the death, it can become a powerful Player Punch, especially if preceded by a Sadistic Choice wherein the player must decide which character lives and who dies.

Not to be confused with Player Versus Player, which is specific to multiplayer games. See also Fighting Your Friend.

Examples:

Action Adventure
  • In Legacy of Kain: Defiance, one of the boss fights is a duel between the two protagonists, Kain and Raziel. For the first half of the fight, you control Kain trying to beat Raziel into submission, before control switches to Raziel half way through.
  • In LEGO Star Wars, you play through most of the last level of Episode III with P1 as Obi-wan and P2 as Anakin. Come the last stage, Anakin becomes a boss and you can only control Obi-wan.
  • Deadly Creatures has a few portions where the tarantula and scorpion cross paths and you have to beat one with the other.

Adventure Game
  • In addition to the whole "one character leaves clues, the other two find them" mechanic in Fahrenheit, there is an episode where Carla and Tyler spar at the police gym. Notably, not only can you decide whom to control during the sparring, but you can also lose (even on purpose), which is helpful because the winner gets a boost to their Sanity Meter (which Carla usually needs more than Tyler).
  • Likewise, in Heavy Rain, Ethan, Madison, or Norman (whoever is alive at that point) must fight Scott a.k.a. the Origami Killer in the endgame. You control the former but you can still lose and have your current character killed.
  • Not a physical conflict but in Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, when April and Kian meet for the first time, they engage in a heated argument over the Azadi politics in the Northlands. Notably, you can select both characters' responses, so it is possible to either convince April to reconsider her views on Azadi, or force Kian to take a good look at his superiors. Too bad it doesn't really lead to any Story Branching.

Fighting Game
  • In the single-player story mode of X-Men Vs Street Fighter, after defeating Apocalypse, the player takes control of whichever character landed the final blow and must then fight his tag partner in a one-on-one match. This turn of events goes unexplained.
  • In Injustice: Gods Among Us, the single player campaign has you swapping characters at the end of most chapters, and every so often you'll end up in a fight with a character you controlled in a previous chapter.

First-Person Shooter
  • Happens often in Tribes: Vengeance. First is when Victoria fights and kills her lover Daniel after he is tricked into killing her father. Then subverted when Julia chases after Jericho, only to be one-upped by Mercury (who is also a player character) but played straight when she fights and kills Mercury himself.
  • There is a brief level in the original Call of Juarez where Ray finally catches up with Billy and guns him down (though Billy survives).

Platform Game
  • In Mega Man X 5, if you can save Zero from going Maverick then X and Zero get into an argument that escalates into a fight (with you playing whomever you took in to the level). If Zero goes Maverick then you have no choice and X has to destroy Zero.

Role-Playing Game
  • In Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits, you spend the game alternating between controlling two parties; a party of human characters led by Kharg, and a party of deimos led by Darc. In the final chapter of the game, both parties meet each other and you have to choose one party that you control in order to defeat the other (shortly before the Big Bad appears and forces them into an Enemy Mine situation).
  • Happens repeatedly during Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. Add to it when you fight an alternate team, they keep the levels and items from when you were last controlling them. If you manage to keep both teams around the same power its an even match-up, but if they're not balanced you'll spend half the levels plowing through 'yourself' and the other half running away from 'yourself'.
  • In Fortune Summoners, there's a brief section where you play as Stella in a flashback explaining how she got to the section of dungeon you just reached. When you reach the present she challenges Arche to a dual, serving as a Boss Fight (something of a Curbstomp Battle, since she's a Squishy Wizard and the battle takes place in a small arena), before joining the Player Party.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, an Imperial Flashpoint sees you hunt down and eliminate the protagonist of the original Knights of the Old Republic. Needless to say, Darth Revan puts up a hell of a fight.

Third-Person Shooter
  • The finale of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron involves the player selecting to control either Optimus Prime or Megatron as they have their final battle before landing on Earth.

Will go under Videogame Tropes.
Community Feedback Replies: 57
  • November 4, 2012
    Koveras
    I am thinking of NOT including following:

    • Cases where the player character fights a playable character, i.e. one that they have never controlled in the current playthrough (I imagine this is common in Fighting Games).
    • Cases where NPC members of Player Party turn on the player and the rest of the party: even if it is possible to micromanage party members, they are still NPCs
  • November 4, 2012
    Astaroth
    Action Game
    • In Legacy Of Kain: Defiance, one of the boss fights is a duel between the two protagonists, Kain and Raziel. For the first half of the fight, you control Kain trying to beat Raziel into submission, before control switches to Raziel half way through.

    RPG
    • In Arc The Lad Twilight Of The Spirits, you spend the game alternating between controlling two parties; a party of human characters led by Kharg, and a party of deimos led by Darc. In the final chapter of the game, both parties meet each other and you have to choose one party that you control in order to defeat the other (shortly before the Big Bad appears and forces them into an Enemy Mine situation).
  • November 4, 2012
    BlackMageJ
    • Happens several times throughout the Sonic The Hedgehog series, usually between Sonic and Knuckles. Sonic Adventure 2 had the most examples, as it involved playing as both the heroes and their villainous counterparts, with each character acting as a boss for their opposite number at least once.
  • November 4, 2012
    StarSword
    Action Adventure
    • LEGO Star Wars has the Obi-wan/Anakin fight as the last stage of the last level of Episode III. Until that stage, Anakin is a controllable character (though they do exchange blows in cutscenes) and the two have to work together to get out of the damaged Mustafar control center.
  • November 4, 2012
    Damr1990
    It happens in the second-to-last level of Megaman X, while depending on the way the story progressed there are three diferent causes, it all boils down to a final encounter where the other character fights you and uses some Secret AI Moves,
  • November 4, 2012
    acrobox
    Happens repeatedly during Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn. Add to it when you fight an alternate team, they keep the levels and items from when you were last controlling them. If you manage to keep both teams around the same power its an even matchup, but if they're not balanced youll spend half the levels plowing through 'yourself' and the other half running away from 'yourself'
  • November 4, 2012
    Koveras
    ^^^ So do you control Obi-Wan in the fight against Anakin, even though you controlled Anakin the whole time until then?

    ^^ Can you please elaborate which characters are involved? Are they both controllable before that?
  • November 4, 2012
    StarSword
    ^*checks Game FA Qs to be sure*

    For most of the level P1 is Obi-wan and P2 is Anakin. Since in story mode you can switch freely between characters not occupied by another player, it's entirely possible to play through the level as Anakin. Then at the end, Anakin becomes a boss and you can only control Obi-wan. I've never played the level in co-op so I don't know what happens if there's a person controlling P2.
  • November 4, 2012
    StarSword
    Also, IIRC in Final Fantasy IV Kain at one point got brainwashed by Golbez, but I don't remember if they had to fight him or not.
  • November 4, 2012
    Lightblade
    In the Touhou Project game Imperishable Night, the boss of the 4th stage is either Reimu Hakurei or Marisa Kirisame. I haven't actually played the game (or any other in the series), so I don't know what criteria determine which of the two you face, so someone who has would be able to give more detail about it than I can.
  • November 4, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ^^ In FFIV there was a scripted Cecil vs. Kain battle which you lost.

    @Damr: You mean specifically Mega Man X 5. If you can save Zero from going Maverick then X and Zero get into an argument that escalates into a fight (with you playing whomever you took in to the level). If Zero goes Maverick then you have no choice and X has to destroy Zero.
  • November 9, 2012
    Koveras
    More examples, title suggestions, hats?
  • November 9, 2012
    KingZeal
    • Devil May Cry 4 has Dante facing against Nero several times, and the story is initially told from Nero's POV, with him playing the part of Audience Surrogate, having no idea who Dante is or anything that's going on.
      • Devil May Cry 3 has Dante facing off against Vergil, though Vergil is only playable during one battle (the teamup against Arkham, and only if the second player presses start) and didn't become fully playable until the Updated Rerelease, and even then it has no affect on plot or story.
  • November 9, 2012
    DracMonster
  • November 9, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ In my first post, I pointed out that party members are not included because they are NP Cs, not P Cs...

    "Protagonists" is too generic because non-interactive media have protagonists, too.

    Battle of the P Cs sounds like a flip side of Console Wars. :D

    You Played Him Now You Must Fight Him gets the point across but is bulky and sounds a bit like a Stock Phrase (I know it isn't, but it sounds like it).

    Lets You And Him Fight is not necessarily the cause. The characters may genuinely be antagonists.
  • November 10, 2012
    Diask
  • November 10, 2012
    TBTabby
    In Prototype 2, Alex Mercer has become the villain, with new protagonist James Heller on a quest to kill him.
  • November 10, 2012
    MrRuano
    The finale of Transformers Fall Of Cybertron involves the player selecting to control either Optimus Prime or Megatron as they have their final battle before landing on Earth.
  • November 10, 2012
    shimaspawn
    This needs a clearer name.
  • November 10, 2012
    StarSword
    Coming off one of DracMonster's suggestions, how about Dueling Player Characters?
  • November 10, 2012
    shimaspawn
    All of the examples so far sound like you're talking about two player fighting games where player one fights player two.
  • November 11, 2012
    Koveras
    @TB Tabby: AFAIK Mercer is not playable in the second game, which would make it more of a Rogue Protagonist than this.

    @Star Sword: That works.

    @shimaspawn: I believe that I have not neglected sorting the examples into correct Video Game Genres sections, have I?.. I also have a line in the write-up differentiating this from Player Versus Player. This is where the AI controls a character you previously controlled in the game to fight you.
  • November 11, 2012
    StarSword
    Do NPC party members count? Or is that Fighting Your Friend?

    Role Playing Game
    • Neverwinter Nights 2:
      • The original campaign's Very Definitely Final Dungeon allows the Player Character to pull a Face Heel Turn and join the Big Bad, whereupon any party members you can't convince to join you by Influence checks (i.e. all good-aligned party members, as well as Zhjaeve) will be enemies. It's also possible to fail Influence checks and lose party members to the Big Bad if you stay loyal to Neverwinter. In particular Qara's and Sand's rivalry means it's impossible to keep both of them (you'll keep the one with whom your Influence is higher).
      • The Expansion Pack Mask of the Betrayer similarly allows a Face Heel Turn whereby instead of invading the Fugue Plane, you fight against said invasion. Kaelyn the Dove leaves the party and becomes an enemy, and is replaced as party cleric by Araman.
  • November 11, 2012
    Stratadrake
    [[quoteblock]]Do NPC party members count? Or is that Fighting Your Friend?[[/quoteblock]]
    I'm tempted to say it does count if you have equal control over each member in the party (a la Final Fantasy).
  • November 12, 2012
    Koveras
    I'm tempted to say it doesn't because this trope is about Dueling Player Characters, and NPC party members are NPCs...
  • November 12, 2012
    Stratadrake
    But where and how do you draw the line?
  • November 12, 2012
    saintdane05
    The Sonic Adventure examples don't really work, as they are not in the playthrough (Knuckles vs. Sonic stories, Dark and Hero stories).
  • November 12, 2012
    KingZeal
  • November 12, 2012
    shimaspawn
    @ Koveras: The trope and examples are clear. The suggested titles still all sound like pvp still.
  • November 12, 2012
    Koveras
    Sorry, I accidentally blanked Bisected8's post. :( I did copy the example from it, though!
  • November 12, 2012
    Koveras
    @Stratadrake: I'd say that the Player Character is the character who has been under the player's control from their introduction onward. NPC party members usually start off controlled by the AI before the player can micromanage them, so they are granted a degree of autonomy from the start. This trope is about situations where you (the player) think you are in full control of a character but then the AI wrenches said control from you and makes you essentially fight yourself.

    @King Zeal: In your examples, does the player have to play as both Jimmy and Billy in a single playthrough? Ditto about the four characters from the other game?

    @saintdane05: Thanks for pointing that out. I haven't played the game, so I could only judge from the example write-up...

    @shimaspawn: Yes, they do, but I don't have anything better to offer yet. :(
  • November 12, 2012
    Astaroth
    I don't think the Devil May Cry examples qualify either; in a standard play-through, Dante in 4 only becomes a playable character a few missions after the second (i.e last) time Nero fights him, and Vergil in 3 only becomes playable if you beat the game with Dante and start a new game file from scratch (plus you need the special edition).
  • November 12, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ Makes sense.
  • November 12, 2012
    Stratadrake
    @Koveras: "NPC party member" is very often an oxymoron - NPC is used to describe characters who are not part of the party, and an NPC who later does join the party (for a more or less permanent basis, at least) is no longer viewed as an NPC.
  • November 12, 2012
    KingZeal
    What are the rules of this trope? Because if Devil May Cry 4 doesn't count, I don't know what to tell you.
  • November 13, 2012
    Koveras
    How is this for a guideline, then: The player must fight one of their primary projections into the game with another? In the games with a Player Party, the primary projection (focus character) is the player-created party leader, so other party members do not count.

    ^ DMC 4 may still count, since both Nero and Dante are the player's primary projections, however, they are not this at the same time when they fight.
  • November 13, 2012
    KingZeal
    Define "primary projection".

    The problem with using uncommon language is that you have to explain what it means. If the character must be a Player Character AND the primary Protagonist/Deuteragonist, then say so.
  • November 13, 2012
    Stratadrake
    And I still think the distinction is needless and arbitrary. If you normally have a Player Party with everyone under equal direct control and then you're made to fight one against the other I think that counts in spirit.

    Not sure what you think about this one, but in Odin Sphere you have five books (whose stories interlock to form a continuous setting) with each book told by a separate protagonist. You do, however, occasionally fight another one of the protagonists in a boss battle: Gwendolyn and Cornelius both fight Velvet and Mercedes; Mercedes fights Oswald and Velvet also fights Mercedes.

  • November 14, 2012
    Koveras
    ^^ & ^: How about "The player must fight him/herself" then?
  • November 14, 2012
    KingZeal
    I'm not trying to be difficult, but I still think that's vague. I can see a LOT of misuse coming about from the way you're trying to define it. So, how about we simply start with what you WANT this trope to be?
  • November 14, 2012
    TBTabby
    Deadly Creatures has a few portions where the tarantula and scorpion cross paths and you have to beat one with the other.
  • November 14, 2012
    Koveras
    ^^ I want this trope to be about games that exploit the player's attachment to/identification with their characters to force them to root for both sides in a fight. Ideally, an element of Sadistic Choice (which character wins) should be present, as well as a massive Player Punch if the fight leads to a Plotline Death.
  • November 14, 2012
    KingZeal
    In that case, it seems like there's two tropes here. One objective and one subjective. The first one is when a current or former PC is forced to kill another current or former PC. The second is when this is a Player Punch, which is subjective.
  • November 14, 2012
    Koveras
    I am not a fan of subjective "tropes" so the Player Punch part is entirely optional. However, you definition still doesn't resolve the big question just who is a PC in a party-based game.
  • November 14, 2012
    shimaspawn
    The laconic is really "You fight against a character you once controlled." I don't think the one player thing matters as much.
  • November 14, 2012
    Stratadrake
    [[quoteblock]]I want this trope to be about games that exploit the player's attachment to/identification with their characters to force them to root for both sides in a fight. Ideally, an element of Sadistic Choice (which character wins) should be present, as well as a massive Player Punch if the fight leads to a Plotline Death.[[/quoteblock]]

    Now that's a much clearer picture ... and I don't see any particular need to restrict it to a Player Character (in the D&D-based sense of the term, where it's the one character you play as). The player can become attached to any character in their party, heck, sometimes even any character in the plot.

    Along these lines, where the point is that the fight is tragic:

    • In Legend Of Mana, during one mission Daena and Escad come to blows with each other over what to do about a demon who wants to destroy the world and an elderly priest who fell in love with him. When you walk in on this argument, Daena demands you pick a side to be on - hers or Escad's. (Naturally, you end up fighting the other, and they are not seen again.)
  • April 30, 2013
    Koveras
    Is this one still salvageable?
  • April 30, 2013
    StarSword
    Don't see why not.
  • April 30, 2013
    Koveras
    What needs to be improved in order to make this launchable, then? The tags say "more examples", but it already has enough for launch, and "better title", but I don't know how to express the idea any better and need creative suggestions...
  • April 30, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    ^ You can't remove tags without admin intervention, even if you're the sponsor. Not sure why that is, but it means a little more work articulating when you're satisfied with the writeup. I'm happy to add a hat, but I also have an example to suggest:

    Fighting Game
    • In the single-player story mode of X-Men Vs Street Fighter, after defeating Apocalypse, the player takes control of whichever character landed the final blow and must then fight his tag partner in a one-on-one match. This turn of events goes unexplained.
  • May 1, 2013
    Stratadrake
    ^ I hear it was because people were removing tags that were actually justified, just because they didn't like them.
  • May 1, 2013
    Koveras
    The problem is that tags and hats are not personalized. Anyone can hat and tag YKTTWs anonymously and then just forget about it.
  • May 4, 2013
    StarSword
    Adjusted the LEGO Star Wars example.
  • May 5, 2013
    Adbot
    Fighting Game
    • In Injustice Gods Among Us, the single player campaign has you swapping characters at the end of most chapters, and every so often you'll end up in a fight with a character you controlled in a previous chapter.
  • May 5, 2013
    AmyGdala
    Interesting trope. Have a hat!
  • May 5, 2013
    StarSword
    Wow, just realized I hadn't already hatted this.
  • May 6, 2013
    Koveras
    OK, thanks. :)
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=eh7ukun76ysf7dv2dua1tv41&trope=DuelingPlayerCharacters