Created By: superfroggy on November 2, 2009
Troped

Half-Assed Bonus

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Okay class, here's a hypothetical situation for you all to chew on. Imagine, if you will, an anonymous troper; let's call him/her Report Siht. Our new friend Report likes video games.

Report is currently playing through the timeless classic "The Legend of Alice and Bob: Hilarity Ensues". Up until the point he/she is at in the game, Alice and Bob were the sole playable characters, but suddenly, a message appears on screen:

"You have achieved 100% Completion! That Troper has been unlocked!"

Mildly curious, Report goes to the character select screen to investigate...

What's this!? He only has three weapons! He can't even do most of the levels! WHYYYY!?

Poor Report has become a victim of this trope.

At its most basic, this is when an extra feature present in a game or other medium
  • Lacks functionality compared to other aspects of the game
  • Does not work properly in the context of gameplay, often struggling to complete basic tasks other characters easily do (in the case of an extra character) or not meshing well with the rest of the game (in the case of bonus levels or items)
or

Note that in this case "bonus" and "extra" refer to something that may not be found in normal gameplay; if you're not sure, a good litmus test would be the question "Could I conceivably play through the entire main game from beginning to end (100% Completion notwithstanding) and not once find or utilize this feature?"

This most likely occurs due to a Cosmic Deadline-induced case of They Just Didn't Care. With the Almighty Deadline looming inexorably in the near future, many sensible developers would probably do the logical thing and make sure the game as a whole works properly and the main playable characters and scenarios are as complete as possible before working on giving Awesome McCool Name The Unlockable Anti-Hero Bringer Of Death some toys to play with.

Compare Dummied Out, where the extra stuff was axed entirely. Contrast Show Within a Show, where the extra content is a full-fledged game in and of itself. Characters afflicted with this tend to devolve into SpoonyBards.

Examples of this trope at work include:
  • The unlockable Mission Mode characters in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, who each get only five or six usable weapons, compared to the normal characters who each have more than 20
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2 lets you play as Tails, who is identical to Sonic in every way. (He gained his signature flying ability in 3, as well as lowered jump height and running speed)
  • In an odd example, Sonic Advance 2 let you unlock the Tiny Chao Garden by meeting certain conditions in the game... Even though the first Sonic Advance had the exact same mode available from the start.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask give us Bombchus, delightful little crawling mice-bombs that are difficult to find and are required for one throwaway puzzle in Oo T, and are not used at all in Majora's Mask; the one thing they can do that normal bombs can't is blowing up the seldom-seen Iron Knuckles from a safe distance.
    • They fit this even better in the Oracle games, where they exist solely as an unlockable bonus in a New Game+, are not particularly useful in any situation, and, worst of all, are limited in supply; once you use all 20, they're gone for good.
    • They finally Took a Level in Badass in Phantom Hourglass, where they are among your most useful items.
  • Old Axe Armor in Castlevania Portrait of Ruin is a solo character instead of a team of two, has only two special moves (one of which is used solely for navigation) and is simply a Palette Swap of an existing enemy. However, it is very likely this was intentional.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is a two-in-one combo. It has several unlockable characters; Some of these are unique characters that cannot change classes or learn new abilities, while others are merely normal units with special sprites.
  • The Legendary Starfy has a multiplayer mode that lets another player control Starly. This can only be used in a few specific areas of the game.
Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • October 30, 2009
    Iron Salticus
    Regarding the bombchus: First of all, since when were bombchus a bonus? They're just an ordinary weapon that can be found in chests or bought in shops that you can choose to use or not use. In the Oracle games, they fit, but in Oo T and MM, you may as well add Deku Nuts to the list as well. Second of all, Bombchus are required for one section of Majora's Mask: The fourth Moon Dungeon requires them twice.

    • Sonic Adventure DX has Metal Sonic as the all-emblems reward. However, he is identical to Sonic in every way, and can only be used in Trial Mode.
  • October 30, 2009
    batfan
    Wow, this is pretty thorough for a new YKTTW. it's desciption is great, so that's not a problem, and it has plenty of examples. The trope name is a little iffy, though. I didn't know what was meant by "bonus" at first glance until I read the description. I'm trying to think of something better. Something about Unlockables would be more accurate, I think. Unesesary Unlockables? Unlockable Feature Failure?

  • October 30, 2009
    superfroggy
    I placed the 'chus under this because, save that one puzzle in Oo T, they were useless as far as I could tell and the player could possibly go through all of Majora thinking the "Real Bombchu" is an agent of the Department Of Redundancy Department. And I forgot about that Moon Dungeon X_X

    I didn't include Nuts because they at least serve their own function before the Boomerang and Hookshot upstage them. Chus seemed like they were just bombs with an extra function that didn't really improve them much. I love Chus, though. Phantom Hourglass made me very happy =)

    D'accord, I wasn't sure about the title myself... I figured that I could get a better title later. I sort of like Unlockable Feature Failure...
  • October 30, 2009
    Alucard
    The two bonus characters in Star Ocean: Till The End Of Time: Director's cut may count. Adray is really just a less capable wizard (a spot already filled by Sophia) with a weapon set nearly identicle to Albel's, while Mirage uses effectively the same attack set and play-style to Cliff, but 40-50 levels lower. The player has the opttion to gain Adray early into the game when he would be at a similar level to the then-party. But if you opt to gain him at the next opportunity (much later near the end of the game), he'll still be at that level (lv 19 when the party is roughly 55-70).

    In the original, buggy version of the game sold in Japan, the four "optional" characters (Albel, Nel, Peppita, Roger) were required. Meanwhile in the North American release, only two of them can be chosen while Mirage and Adray are necessary.
  • October 30, 2009
    Superhal
    Supported by about 50% of the quest rewards in Diablo 2.

  • October 30, 2009
    FreezairForALimitedTime
    You can get more Bombchus in the Oracle games easily. Just give the password to the NPC who gave them to you again. Voila. Top-up.
  • October 30, 2009
    superfroggy
    I think I tried that, although apparently I didn't try hard enough.

    Eh, that's neither here nor there. Thanks for the tip.
  • October 30, 2009
    BlackDragon
    Warriors Orochi 2... There's a HUGE roster of officers to unlock, and while several of them have suspiciously similar movesets, each of them is, at least, a BIT original. However, the hardest character to unlock, by an order of magnitude, is Orochi Z - his appearance in your rooster basically signifies that you have achieved 100% Completion and then some. (You have to spend DAYS just grinding levels, well after you have finished completing every scenario on every difficulty, to unlock the last Dream Scenario - and then beat that to unlock Orochi Z.)

    Now, Orochi Z is basically the Final Boss, so that's awesome. He's not JUST a Palette Swap of Orochi either, having different hair. However... firstly, he's doesn't have his own set of weapons, like everybody else does - he just uses the same set as Orochi. Second, his moveset is less than half the size of anybody else, and he never learns new moves - though, granted, those few moves he DOES have, are pretty powerful. Finally, every other character has a series of artwork - various design-sketches, posed character-models, screenshots from cutscenes they're in and the like - that are unlocked as you use them. Orochi Z has none. So effectively, once you've taken him into combat ONCE to check out all 3 of his moves, there's literally no point in ever using him again - especially since, by that point, you've already done basically everything in the game.
  • October 30, 2009
    Unknown Troper
  • October 30, 2009
    MatchooKnot
    Let's not forget Super Mario Galaxy's reward for getting all 120 stars with Mario. Playing as Luigi just means you're slippy and jump a tad differently. Also, you get a ton of extra lives for no reason with Peach's letters. It's just artificially doubling the game's length. Alternatively, it could be viewed as an excuse to re-play the game, since it was so awesome the first time anyway. However, if Luigi doesn't count for this trope, than surely the full 241 Star prize of a congratulations picture to be messed with in the Wii Photo Channel will.
  • October 31, 2009
    superfroggy
    I'm a bit dodgy about Luigi... Luigi's whole gimmick throughout the series is that he's Mario with bad traction, but higher and longer jumps. It'd be weirder if he wasn't a clone. Granted, the whole "two Luigis" thing and the letters still being addressed to Mario seemed like a huge epic fail on the part of the designers... I say we vote on it.
  • October 31, 2009
    DracMonster
    What Kind Of Lame Bonus Is Art maybe? Since bonus artwork is probably part of this trope.
  • October 31, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Also potentially in Super Mario Galaxy... the Grand Finale Galaxy. It's just a level based on the game's intro scene with all the characters present, with nothing to do other than collect purple coins.
  • October 31, 2009
    Superhal
    Oops, I just wanted to see how the code was done, I didn't change any text.

  • October 31, 2009
    superfroggy
    Actually, you did.

  • October 31, 2009
    Cidolfas
    I agree with Adray re: Star Ocean 3, but not with Mirage. Yes, she was functionally identical to Cliff, but she was still just as useful, and a fun character. She may have been slightly unnecessary, but she wasn't in any way worse.

    • Almost every Metroid-ish Castlevania has an unlockable mode where you play as another character who can't do most of what the main character can (e.g. can't open the menu, can't collect items, can't level up sometimes).
      • Symphony of the Night: Richter mode
      • Harmony of Dissonance: Maxim mode
      • Aria of Sorrow: Julius mode
      • Dawn of Sorrow: Julius mode
      • Portrait of Ruin: Sisters mode, Richter mode, Old Axe Armor mode
      • Order of Ecclesia: Albus mode
  • November 1, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    The Force Unleashed has this trope. You can play through levels as a number of different duel characters -- Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, Darth Maul, etc, etc -- but you can't view cutscenes if you do, which makes it all kind of pointless.
  • November 2, 2009
    superfroggy
    Think I should launch this soon? I'm thinking of calling it "Bonus Feature Failure", because some of the stuff here doesn't have to be unlocked.

    So, what does the Tv Tropes collective unconscious say? Launch now or wait for more examples and/or a better title?
  • November 2, 2009
    Superhal
    How about: Gift Of Suck, Rewarded With Lame, or Tah Dah Blah?

    Oh more examples:
    • Subverted in Warlords 1, 2, and 3. The bonuses on items could vary from +1 to +3 in several different categories, but since there were more heroes than items, even +1 items were valuable.
    • In Master Of Magic, the best quest rewards were: extra masteries, extra spell books, rescue of an elite hero, or an elite item. If you had the maximum number of spellbooks, heroes and masteries, the game was forced to give you some crap like an Item of Lame.
    • In Mech Commander, it is quite common to kill wave after wave of elite mech's without salvaging a single one, but the single scout in the entire level does get salvaged.

  • November 2, 2009
    castaghast
    In the PS 2 Shinobi, Joe Musashi can be unlocked as a playable character, his bonus being that he has unlimited shruikens and no life draining tate bar. The pro to this is that you don't have to worry about getting huge combos to keep your life and damage enemies, and you can just continually chuck shruikens at some hard to kill enemies. The downside is that there are some bosses that pretty much require you to get huge combos in order to defeat them in a timely fashion, however you can also chuck shruikens at them continually. A perfect beginner character...only you don't get him until you've beaten the entire game, gotten nearly all the hidden coins, and explored all the hidden areas.
  • November 2, 2009
    Majutsukai
    • In Mega Man X 8, the navigators Alia, Palette, and Layer are unlockable as playable characters. They are basically clones of X, Axl, and Zero, respectively; however, Alia cannot get X's capsule upgrades, Palette cannot copy enemies, and Layer cannot use Zero's most powerful weapon (I think? Confirm/deny?). You also have to purchase all of X, Axl, and Zero's purchasable upgrades a second time in order to access them on Alia, Palette, and Layer. Additionally, using even one of them when running a stage will forbid you from choosing a navigator for that stage.
    • Proto Man is unlockable via DLC in Mega Man 9; however, his mode has no story, and he cannot unlock achievements or access the item shop.

    My title suggestion is And Your Reward Is Suck.
  • November 2, 2009
    superfroggy
    I'll be launching this in about 3-4 hours under the title "Bonus Feature Failure" if everyone's okay. I liked batfan's title, it's succinct, mildly amusing, and has the word "fail" in it, which I like. A couple of these examples don't have to be unlocked, though, so I think "bonus" is more accurate.
  • November 2, 2009
    Superhal
    Imho, bonus feature failure doesn't capture the idea of "quest reward."

  • November 2, 2009
    superfroggy
    Shhhh. That's a secret.
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