"A flashy feature that has limited usability for victory."
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In many Bleach fighting games, Soi Fon has an attack in which she can use her Suzumebachi to, as in the anime, get a two hit KO - if she hits an opponent with the attack twice in one round, they instantly die. The impractical part comes from the fact that the attack is usually slow and hard to hit with, uses up a ton of spirit pressure, or both; and that the first hit usually does no damage. At best, using this attack can serve as a sort of alternate fighting style, as using it can be an all-or-nothing strategy.
In God Hand, the main character has a variety of "guard breakers", attacks that stun a blocking opponent. These range from sobats to flying kicks to haymakers to spinning backfists, but the best guard breaker throughout the entire game... is the basic, boring overhead chop. Plus it somewhat adheres to Real Life in that misuse of the powerful-but-slow moves usually gets you punished.
The biggest offender as far as God Hand is concerned is definitely Yes Man Kablaam, a ridiculously slow and uneffective punch that leaves Gene completely defenseless as he turns his head and smiles to the invisible crowd after the attack. Its only major advantage is that if the punch connects, it raises your Tension bar by a lot, but it's generally not worth it...unless you learn to dodge-cancel out of the recovery.
The trick is stunning the enemy first; Dodge-cancel lets you not so much recover from it, but spam it, filling up your tension bar from a single enemy most of the time, so given the circumstances, it is quite useful (and an actual necessity on HARD).
Instant Kills in the Guilty Gear games do exactly what the name suggests: finish the round in favor of whoever connects one. Most of them look pretty cool, too. Unfortunately, to keep them from being gamebreakers, they can only be used once, they're extraordinarily difficult to hit with unless your opponent isn't paying attention (you have to switch into a "sudden death" stance, complete with a glowing outline, making these better suited for Mind Games and last-chance desperation attacks), and if you attempt one and miss, you can't use any move that requires meter for the remainder of the round. And because this is Guilty Gear, which places a lot of strategy on meter management and aggression, chances that the Instant Kill you just missed will cost you the match are about 99%.
Long, flashy combos in general get this, as the game's engine actually decreases the damage of each hit the longer a combo gets.
The IKs in the original Guilty Gear was a Game Breaker in that a successful hit not only won that round, it won the match and were easy to do, so IKs got [[nerf nerfed]] HARD.
Guilty Gear's spiritual successor BlazBlue has this in Astral Heats: gigantic finishing moves that guarantee victory if they connect. Unfortunately, in order to do one it has to be the absolute last round of a match, with the opponent's health at 20% or less, and enough "MP" saved up for two regular specials. Since you only get one shot, it's usually much wiser to just use the two specials. Continuum Shift made it a bit more usable by making several Astrals more comboable, needing only the match point round and only 35% health, but it also now requires a Burst stock. In high-level play Burst stocks are absolutely necessary for character specific combos as well as getting out of very long combos from characters like Litchi, Noel, Taokaka, and Jin. This can, like Guilty Gear, end up majorly biting you in the ass and costing you the match.
Ragna's Devoured By Darkness Distortion Drive is this so much. It's one of the most powerful moves and regenerates a massive amount of health. However, to even use it you need to first burn 50% heat to activate Blood Kain, before burning another 50% to use the move itself. With Blood Kain's aura, never mind the activation animation, it serves as a big Harbinger of Asskicking that tells sensible players to stay away. It does not help either that Devoured By Darkness is a grab, with the poor range that implies, and Ragna does not have a You Will Not Evade Me move to drag the enemy into reach. All these combine to ensure that it almost never shows up in serious play.
Ragna can use use it to finish a combo. If used before there's too much damage reduction, it guarantees a victory.
Any special move that requires the opponent to hit you to trigger it, as it requires nigh-meticulous timing to pull off.. A prime offender is Fei Long's Gekirinken from Street Fighter IV. One of the most awesome special sequences you'll ever see in fighting games, but the opponent has to hit you to activate it. And if it fails, you lose your Ultra gauge completely.
The famous Za Warudo combo in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure fighting games, seen here. With the steamroller itself, anyone can see it coming a mile away, it's blockable, Dio can be punished as he jumps up to perform it, and the damage really isn't worth it. But who can resist creating one of the most badass and infamous moments of the entire series? The Time Stop in the game can be a pain too, since you're immobile for about 3 seconds before executing them and unless you set your SC gauge at max every round, you will have limited time to actually set up your combo. However, enjoy your 66-hit combo if you pull it off.
The same also goes for Jotaro, Dio and Shadow Dio's Time Stop supers. They require a lot of energy to get the most out of and they have a huge windup time and complicated button inputs but done right, they can help you deal incredible damage.
Giorno and Kars's transformation GHAs in Jojos Bizarre Adventure All Star Battle. While both offer new moves, properties, and very increased mobility, it's far too easy for a player to shoot themselves in the foot if their opponent smacks them before the transformation is finished. To this end both characters have a move or two devoted to creating space in order to transform safely; Kars has a kick that sends the opponent to the other side of the screen, and Griono's HHA does the same while also briefly stunning the opponent afterward. Pucci averts this by his entire moveset being geared around getting to Made in Heaven, and Made in Heaven itself being completely worth the investment.
Mortal Kombat brutalities. Flashy, incredibly nasty ways to finish your foes. Also nearly impossible to pull off. They require a sequence of button presses that's near impossible to actually do. It's awe inspiring to see it pulled off though.
For that matter, uppercutting. Takes away one quarter of your opponent's life, tosses them up in the air, and they make a cool screaming sound, but it's really hard to hit anyone with it, unless it's the first battle in the one-player game. It's also impossible for most characters to combo of the move because of the forced delay on a succesful hit.
For that matter, Fatalities in general. Sure, the franchise pretty much invented the concept, and they are really cool, but in most games, they and the other finishing moves provide no real tangible benefit to gameplay. The first game was an exception; you did gain bonus points for doing them, and it was also a requirement for unlocking Reptile. (Unfortunately, that meant Sonya could not fight him, because her Fatality required the Block command, which disqualified her due to another requirement.) Ironically, in many other fighting games that have similar moves (like say, the Soul Series) there is a tangible benefit for doing the finishing moves.
The Special or Ultimate attacks from Naruto Clash of Ninja are like this. Especially in the first game the attacks generally did a fair bit of damage but cost all of your charge bar. They're also pathetically easy to dodge, making them all but useless against human opponents.
Many fighting games have super moves that do insane amounts of damage and are awesome to watch, but often require button combinations that only Mr. Fantastic can pull off. One example is Ivy from Soul Calibur, whose telekinetic attack Summon Suffering is absolutely amazing, but the human players who can pull it off can probably be counted on one hand. Not that you won't see it often, but it won't be against a human.
There is actually an Achievement for pulling this off in Soul Calibur 4.
There's also Talim's "Whirlwind Festival" throw: a multi-part, highly damaging throw that requires you to input very odd button combinations in very short windows of time as she performs the throw. Fail, and the throw's animation cuts off at the first part or so and does far less damage.
More on the 'impractical' than 'difficult' side, Taki has a whole repertoire of attacks that involve attacking from the air, complete with screen-darkening and light-burst effects, but which almost never connect because their pinpoint aiming accuracy means that an opponent can dodge them by taking a step to the side.
Another example from the Soul Series are the unblockable attacks. These attacks are powerful and unblockable, but are so painfully slow that even inexperienced players can easily sidestep or dodge them, and counterattack with impunity. Starting and then canceling these to psych out the enemy is the only real use for them.
A few unblockables have some use by having unexpected properties, like Raphael's surprisingly long-ranged unblockable lunge. Of course, once an opponent knows what to watch for, they're worthless.
Unblockable and projectile attacks in many 3D fighters tend to be this way. It's hard to carry the legacy of the Dragon Punch or Hadoken when the opponent can sidestep.
Zombie pirate Cervantes has the unblockable projectile where he shoots the enemy, but he flourishes the gun for so long that only the most idiotic of opponents won't either evade or duck it.
Several of the Final Smash attacks in Super Smash Bros.. Brawl qualify for this trope. For example, Meta Knight, who can get off attacks frighteningly quickly and has decent smashes, gets a fairly weak Final Smash, which is hard to hit with, but if it connects with one character, it will hit everyone. Jigglypuff probably has the most ridiculous example of this trope, with a Final Smash that has such a long startup time that it almost never hits and is useless on large stages. However, if it connects, it kills.
Then there's Captain Falcon's famous signature move, the Falcon Punch. One of the most damaging attacks in any of the games, but its charge-up time not only makes it extremely difficult to land a hit without proper planning and/or a bit of luck, but it also leaves him wide for attack. Needless to say, when someone does manage to pull it off, it can only bedescribed as awesome
The trueAwesome, but Impractical move is the reverse falcon punch and it's stronger variation, the reverse warlock punch. These moves require that you turn at just the right frame to make Cpt. Falcon or Gannondorf spin around and punch the opponent. Amazing when successfully pulled off, it only does slightly more damage.
Ice Climber chaingrabs border on this. Having the ability to infinite-combo anyone makes them incredibly annoying to play against (the strategy for dealing with them is "don't get grabbed and separate them whenever possible"). Actually pulling it off requires a long series of two-frame timings that vary based on the weight of the chaingrabbed character, having both Climbers close enough together that your opponent can't escape before you begin the throws, not being interrupted by an environmental hazard or other player as applicable, and, because everyone knows that one grab is death, having to deal with the aforementioned strategy just to get the grab in the first place. Granted, it's somewhat easier than it sounds. The "impractical" part comes in when you factor in the mental fortitude required to pull it off two or three times per game (they still can get kills the old-fashioned way, after all)... two or three games per set... and, depending on the size of the tournament, 7+ sets per tournament. And you could have put all the practice you did into Meta Knight instead.
The Home-Run Bat became this in Brawl. In the original and Melee, it had a slightly unwieldy swing time but was still usable much of the time and was a reliable one-hit KO, stage obstacles notwithstanding. In Brawl, it works more-or-less the same way, except the swing time is dramatically increased. It makes a highly effective thrown weapon in every single game, however.
Some hyper combos in Tatsunoko vs Capcom are Awesome, but Impractical. Ippatsuman has it the worst, though. His Level 3 Hyper Combo has him summon his signature robot for the player to control. However, all of its attacks are slow, don't do much damage, and can't combo past two hits. He does have 3 unblockable moves in the mode, two of them being telegraphed sword attacks and a humongous unavoidable flash that kills the opponent if it connects. The problem with the flash, however is that it takes ten seconds even hit with the move, the most time of any non-boss character inCapcom vs. Whatever history and can be interrupted by attacking the robot's head during the charging sequence. Finally, in the international release, the time the robot stays on the field decreased by a large margin and ate every bit of meter when used.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare lets you unlock two additional optics for most guns, the red dot sight and the ACOG scope. However, the ACOG, which provides 4x zoom, is unlockable even for weapons on which it does more bad than good; putting an ACOG on the sniper rifles not only reduces their accuracy (the default scope is easier to aim with), but it also makes aiming at nearby targets harder, and you can't hold your breath when using it, so there is always breathing sway; about all it's good for is turning those sniper rifles into ersatz semi-auto assault rifles with smaller magazines and much more idle sway. It's even more useless when placed on an SMG, which have enough recoil problems looking down the sights already, and lose their ability to quickly look down the sights.
The ACOG is noticeably more useful on the fully-automatic weapons like the M4 Carbine, though, because the additional breathing sway is negated by the zoom helping you put more of the target in the center of your screen, which is all you need when you let the automatic fire rip. The light machine guns are also strangely unaffected by the additional recoil of the scope, sacrificing some close-range utility in exchange for turning them into mid- and long-range terrors.
The Black Ops games make the ACOG more viable for different reasons - in the former, they have no additional idle sway, while in the latter they actually decrease recoil in the same manner as the Foregrip, meaning the ACOG goes well as either a compliment or a replacement for that attachment.
The golden gun camouflages are very much Awesome, but Impractical in most of the criteria for the trope - most of them require you to unlock every attachment and camo pattern for every weapon in the golden weapon's class. This is easiest with shotguns, which have only two attachments and slightly lower requirements for camo; for everything else, this is out of the reach of players who wish to use Prestige mode, which causes you to wipe your levels and challenges (which also means progress towards the golden camouflages is wiped) to get a new icon, and this can be done ten times. As you might have guessed, the gold camouflages also make it easier to see you, being gold and all.
In Modern Warfare 2, you can get a tactical nuke, which is a "Game Over, I Win" button. The Impractical Part? It requires a 25-kill streak. This is easier said than done, and if you do kill 25 people in a row without dying, you're probably going to win anyway unless it's a big game or a long game.
Call of Duty: Black Ops introduced a dive-to-prone mechanic (dubbed by fans the "Dolphin Dive"). If you switch to prone while sprinting, your character dives forward, landing in a prone position. The disadvantages? First off, you cannot shoot while airborne, rendering it useless for any action movie-type shootouts. Second off, you still take normal fall damage, meaning that if you dive off a second story you'll most likely be killed from the falling damage (if you don't have Lightweight Pro). Thirdly, there's very rarely any reason you'd need to dive to prone. For the most part, it's just for showing off.
For the most part, this technique was implemented with impracticality being its entire purpose. In the previous title, Modern Warfare 2, players going prone once they started being fired on became infamous, nicknamed "dropshotting." The dive-to-prone mechanic was intended to nerf dropshotting more than serve any practical purpose.
This technique could be useful in CTF games, where it would be the quickest way to close the final gap between the player and the base. Zombies mode also makes it useful if you get the Perk-a-Cola PhD Flopper: any dive which would normally damage you instead causes an explosion around you that inflicts major damage on any zombies around you.
In World At War: The portable mounted machine guns. They eat ammo very quickly, heavy recoil, slow down your running speed considerably, and once your out of ammo for them they're pretty much done. On top of this, even the lighter smgs can kill a person in 1-3 body shots anyway, making such a fast firing weapon even more useless.
In Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, the two final weapons are perhaps the most useless. The Fusion Cannon and Chronosceptor (the latter of which whose pieces the game revolves around finding) are extremely powerful, but also slow to fire. You're a sitting duck taking damage as the guns charge up, and if the enemy isn't stationary, it'll probably get out of the weapon's blast radius. Furthermore, the Cannon only holds two Fusion Charges without a Backpack, and they're extremely hard to find. The Chronosceptor holds three shots and can't be reloaded at all.
The Fusion Cannon shoots a small slow-moving red flare that explodes after two seconds or so, filling the screen with orange smoke, and several shockwaves afterward. The Chronosceptor shoots a semi-homing laser that explodes not once but twice on contact, but its useful against the final boss, as it will reduce him to about a third of his health (which takes a lot of time to wear down using normal weapons) if you manage to connect with all the shots. Likewise, the Fusion Cannon is a good thing to have against the penultimate boss, though it's a lot clumsier to use than the Chronoscepter.
Additionally, there's also the Nuke in Turok 2, which takes a moment to charge, then shoots a laser, gathering energy at the target, finally exploding after 4 seconds, turning enemies into charcoal. 10 seconds later, any enemy affected by the initial blast suddenly explodes. Except for the penultimate and final bosses. Despite the fact that you can only obtain the last Nuke piece just before fighting the former, the weapon does absolutely nothing to either of them. Said final boss will sometimes call on a swarm of nasty, fast-moving, hard to hit enemies to attack you during the battle. While the Nuke doesn't affect the boss himself, it really comes in handy dealing with these, as it will take out all of them at once with a single shot, and hey, it's not like it can be used for anything else...
Turok 2 also has the infamous Cerebral Bore. It's a very original weapon and fantastic for the Videogame Cruelty Potential it allows, but it's not really that useful for serious fighting. By the time it has locked to an enemy, tracked it, and blown its brains off, you could have killed it four times using traditional firepower.
The Wavebuster can be used to make Meta Ridley absurdly easy (only in the original version, though. The bug was fixed in PAL release and the Player's Choice version) as well as the cloaked drone in the Phazon Mines.
The Ice Spreader burns up ten missiles per shot, takes several seconds to be ready to fire, and shoots a sluggish missile that doesn't home. In a game where your average enemy is mobile enough to mandate a lock on feature, this is a problem. It earns its keep against Metroid Prime, however. If you can hit it with an Ice Spreader, it freezes Prime solid and takes off a huge chunk of HP.
The Annihilator Beam combo, the Sonic Boom, from Prime 2 can do an ungodly amount of damage to the Emperor Ing's eye-form (up to a third of his energy bar per hit, depending on difficulty). However, it costs 30 rounds of each ammo to fire, and you're trying to hit an extremely narrow moving target while dodging all the boss's regular attacks. It does have some use against large mobs, since enemies taken out by it can drop both Light and Dark ammo.
The Darkburst (the Dark Beam charge combo) is also massively impractical; it fires a miniature black hole, but the projectile travels extremely slowly, and there really aren't enemies tough enough to justify using it on, with the exception of a couple of bosses. Its Light counterpart, the Sunburst, is just useless.
The Gravity Hammer and Energy Sword in Halo 3. The Energy Sword is only good for killing one specific species of Flood, and the Gravity Hammer is fairly useless. They look pretty cool, but most other weapon combos are more efficient and safer to use.
Except for a Good Bad Bug in Halo 2 that allowed you to lunge at anything in the range of any gun you carried. Sometimes across the map.
In the hands of a pro, though, the Energy Sword can be a total Game Breaker. It deals enough damage to kill most enemies that get hit by it(be it Spartans, Elites or Combat Forms), it can sometimes allow you to suddenly sprint toward a victim when it is swung and simply pulling out has been known to strike fear in most online players.
The Gravity Hammer gets a bit more love in Halo: ODST, where it has a bigger impact area, allowing you to maul multiple grunts and jackals with one swing. However, it has less love as well, because it's much harder to use (you're not the superstrong Master Chief, after all), and it's strangely not as good against shields as it used to be.
The turrets also tend to fall to this. Using them makes you a sitting duck to snipers, breaking them off their tripods only averts this a little, as you're slowed to a snail's pace and incredibly easy to outflank. The missile pod can make scrap of vehicles easily, but anything less then a direct shot on infantry bounces off their shields.
The "scarab gun" secret weapon in 2 is pretty fast shooting, explosive and the ammo is endless. The problem is the explosions can easily send bodies flying everywhere and one shot nearby body can kill you easily. That, and the thing takes forever to get. For one level. Best gun, though.
In-universe, the SPARTAN-II program could be seen as this. It produced some of the best and most well-equipped super-soldiers the UNSC had ever seen (Master Chief among them), but the genetic requirements needed for children to be selected are very strict (to the point where the training had to be postponed for years due to there being too few people to recruit), the process of augmentation lead to high mortality rates among the child recruits, training and equipping them was expensive (an admiral once commented that a SPARTAN costs nearly as much as a small fleet of ships), and there were simply too few of them to make any large differences in the human-covenant war (barring Master Chief's later involvement). The UNSC shelved the program in favor of the SPARTAN-III program, which was designed to field cheaper, better trained, and more expendable troops.
The SPARTAN-III program was, in turn, shelved in favor of the more cost-effective (and less morally questionable) SPARTAN-IV program, basically a re-tool of the original Project ORION (AKA SPARTAN-I) involving upgrading volunteer veteran soldiers to the same Super Soldier status as Master Chief without spending decades training them. To be fair, though, the original Project ORION failed because the technology wasn't there yet, and the following 2 projects perfected it.
The Grenade Launcher in Max Payne 3 will One-Hit Kill any mook. Multiple in fact with its blast radius. But that also makes it suck in close quarters. You can't carry much ammo for it. Furthermore, the slow projectile speed means you are almost always screwed if you get Last Man Standing'd while using it.
The Javelin missile launcher of Battlefield 3 is a tremendously powerful top-attack anti-vehicle weapon that also deals heavy splash damage. In addition to being directly fired at targets, it can also lock onto laser-designated enemies from extremely long distances, even without line of sight! However... it acquires lock extremely slowly, is easily defeated by thermal camouflage or smoke canisters, cannot be fired without a lock, has sharply limited ammo reserves, and provides targeted enemies with an audible warning - hence giving them plenty of time to break line of sight or deploy smoke, then kill you. It's still an extremely effective weapon when used in conjunction with laser designators... but since such items prohibit the player from using other, more immediately useful devices, they are rarely deployed. Generally speaking, the simple dumb-fire rockets that Engineer players get by default are much, much more useful.
In Team Fortress 2, all classes have a taunt that can one-shot an opponent within melee range. All of them are impractically slow, and quite awesome to get a kill with during a match. Notable contenders include the Pyro, who was the first to be able to kill with his Hadouken taunt, the Scouts' enemy-launching baseball bat taunt, the Soldier's suicide-grenade taunt, and the Spy's knife-fencing which alerts otherwise oblivious opponents to their presence before the fatal blow.
"Demoknighting" is the Fan Nickname for wielding a sword and shield as a Demoman. While decently effective in the hands of somebody who knows what they're doing, you need to remove the Sticky Launcher from your inventory. Being one of the deadliest and most versatile weapons in the game, it's a very foolish thing to leave behind for the sake of a sword and the ability to charge enemies, especially since sword and board is easily locked out by a Sentry Gun, which a Demoman using the Sticky Launcher would be able to easily dispatch.
Another Demoman set is with a shield and an Ullapool Caber. The caber causes high destructive power that can instantly kill your enemies... and yourself (unless you don't really care for that kind of record keeping).
The Mantreads and Market Gardener for the Soldier also fall into this category, though it is possible to master efficient use of either weapon.
The Market Gardener lets you land a guaranteed Critical Hit on opponents if you hit them while performing a Rocket Jump (which will one-hit kill 7 out of 9 classes in the game from full health, and put one more at near death), but when you're flying in a ballistic arc towards your target, you'll be spending roughly 99% of your focus on actually getting close enough to land the hit in the first place, and then you still have to worry about the guy's teammates who will instantly hose you the second you land.
The Mantreads are similar to this, converting any fall damage you take into triple its amount of damage against the enemy (making it capable of one-shot killing possibly any class in the game if you fall from a great enough height), but it has an even smaller window of opportunity than the Market Gardener since you have to land directly on your opponent in order to inflict damage. Most players are always constantly moving, with the exception of camping Snipers, and Engineers who are guarded by their Sentry Guns, so successfully landing on someone requires predicting where they're going to be at the end of your jump.
The Team Fortress 2 server 2Fort2Furious has this as a unique server mod. The code for the mod is not public, thus only that server has the feature. Amusingly enough, a message pops up on everyone's screen telling who killed whom with the technique. It can even kill Ubercharged (otherwise invincible) opponents. Otherwise, it sounds as if it is nearly identical to the Urban Terror version.
The Goomba Stomp has been added to the official game in the form of an unlockable Soldier weapon.
In Left 4 Dead, at certain points players will come across a mounted minigun that can, predictably, wipe out hordes of zombies in seconds. The trouble is, the weapon is almost never mounted in such a position as to effectively cover more than a few of the many directions attacks can come from. Using it effectively requires the 3 Player Characters who aren't using the minigun to watch the gunner's back, and on higher difficulties where the risk of friendly fire damage becomes a very real threat, most players find it far more prudent to simply ignore the minigun, put their backs to the wall, and fight off the incoming zombies with small arms fire.
The sequel brings some usefulness back to the mounted gun if you have boomer bile; toss it in front of the gun, wait for the zombies to gather around, and then mop them up. The developers must have seen how most people ignored the mounted machine gun, so the sequel has only 2 (not including maps from any DLC). The gun in Swamp Fever's finale is on a balcony, but most zombies will spawn behind you instead of near the hedges below and the gun in The Parish's finale is useless because the entire finale is a non stop running event to the helicopter and most people are on the move, so stopping to shoot zombies on the mounted gun is asking for trouble.
Snarks in Half-Life. They're little bugs that will chew up anything to shreds before exploding (in all their giblet glory) after about 10 seconds. Which would be cool and all if they're absolutely useless in singleplayer (enemies can easily take care of them) and if you're not careful, they'll go after you. They have some value in multiplayer if players weren't expecting it.
Probably a case of Too Awesome to Use, but the Tau Cannon and Gluon Gun mostly because ammo is a bitch to find.
The bugbait in Half-Life 2. It lets you summon Antlions and manipulate them to attack the Combine soldiers, but the bugs only appear for a few levels, making this item completely useless for the rest of the game.
To add more insult to injury, Antlions will go after nearby Combine and sentry guns unprovoked, leaving you with few opportunities to actually use the bugbait, except to make them run out as a distraction or into a tripmine. The alternate fire, which draws them to you, is completely useless, because any nearby Antlions will come to you automatically unless there are enemies around to fight, and if there are, that's probably what you want them doing anyway.
Well, strictly speaking, it's having the bugbait that lets all those other things happen automatically. Antlions will happily tear you into little kibbles if you don't at least own the bugbait. It's only the weapon aspect of the bugbait that's useless.
It does ONE thing once you no longer get antlions. If thrown on a Combine soldier (any Combine soldier), it briefly stuns them. If you keep hitting one with it, he'll just stand there waving his arms around his head.
Also, the Revolver packs the 2nd biggest punch in the entire game, but it carries so little ammo (and it's so rare to find) that you end up using your Sniper Rifle (actually a crossbow) more often. Although the Revolver is one of the best weapons in Half Life 2: Deathmatch, due to its ability to do massive damage with headshots and firing faster than the Crossbow.
While the AR2 isn't this trope at all, its secondary fire is. It fires a concentrated ball of energy that bounces around the room, disintegrating any enemies that might be unfortunate enough to get hit by it. However, as can be imagined, firing it off in an enclosed or narrow space will send it bouncing around so randomly that it becomes impossible to track. It does not instantly kill you, but it does take off a chunk of your health and it can kill allies in later stages. Firing outdoors will likely result in the ball bouncing off a few objects and maybe killing an enemy or two before flying off harmlessly into the sky. It is more efficient to just shoot the enemies at this point, unless you need to clear a room rapidly and don't care what (including yourself) gets in the way in the process.
Half the weapons in Duke Nukem 3D fall in this trope, by either eating ammo (Devastator), only being useful at close range (Shrink Ray), or only being useful in specific situations (Laser Trip Bomb).
A rare in-universe example, Bioshock's Big Daddy Prototype was able to dual-wield the power drill and rivet gun, as well as use plasmids. This was too expensive a build to mass-produce (and too difficult to pacify if they should hulk out), so they decided to divide the weapon types into Rosie (gun) and Bouncer (drill) types, neither of which could use plasmids. The pair-bond for the original also worked too well; those who didn't go into a coma went insane when their Little Sister got harvested/rescued.
Counter-Strike has a wide variety of weapons to choose from, some of these include the dual Elites, the famed Kevlar-piercing Five-seveN, the scoped Steyr AUG, and a machine gun with a 100-round belt. All of them suck. "Duelies" are unreliable, take long to load, and cost more than a simple SMG, Five-Seven has been nerfed for balance, the AUG is overpriced, and the machine gun is heavy and inaccurate. Few players really venture outside the tested and approved M4/AK line, and when they do it's usually just for the AWP.
Soldier of Fortune II has the OICW; a scoped assault rifle with a 20 mm grenade launcher. The main problem is that you have to use the laser system to check the range before firing a grenade, which simply takes far too long in a firefight. If you have time to sit and muck about with the scope, it's easier to just use the rifle component to snipe them in the head. The huge size (it takes up a ridiculous amount of screen real estate when equipped) and lack of ammo (being an experimental weapon, your enemies don't carry it, so you can't scavenge ammo from corpses) don't help either. The one place where the OICW does come in handy is the Final Boss, a helicopter that can tear you to shreds in seconds and takes a truly ridiculous amount of ammo to destroy. If you can get the range adjusted right, you can safely lob grenades at the helicopter from a distance and damage it quite a bit, which makes it much easier then trying to defeat it normally.
Hilariously, the OICW in Real Life was an experimental weapon which was discontinued for being... fidgety, bulky, and impractical. The OICW's rangefinding smart grenade launcher without the rifle component — also known as the XM25 — is still in development, has been deployed in Afghanistan, and has been extremely popular among the soldiers who have had the chance to use it. There's talk of it entering mass production in 2013.
The Rocket Launcher, Flamethrower, and Microwave Pulse Gun in the original. All take up three spaces in your inventory, eat up hard-to-find ammo quickly, and are rather unwieldy in firefights.
From Perfect Dark: try tossing a Grenade on Proximity Pinball in any place that's not a straight narrow hallway, especially in the campaign. Chances are it'll end up bouncing straight back into you (killing you instantly) or into an important mission objective (failing the mission).
Even in a narrow hallway you could get screwed. Throw it straight down and if you don't get out in time, it's back. Even throwing it at an angle from outside can possibly bounce back to you several seconds later if you're still nearby.
Daikatana's Daikatana. The sword always leaves your opponent on 1hp. In theory, this would allow you to deliver the finishing blow; in practice, the opponent would often slice you to pieces before you could deliver a second strike. It also blocks a third of the screen, minimum; when fully leveled up, it starts sparkling, which blocks the screen more.
Most of the other weapons qualify as well. They're usually fancy looking and acting, but they are hard to use to deal actual damage. A few examples: the initial blaster, which is your general fallback weapon, fires cool green beams - but they sparkle like crazy and will cloud your vision. The shotgun deals crazy damage, but fires six shells sequentially - every time, even if the first has already killed your enemy. The mine launcher does huge damage, but it has a range barely higher than the blasts it produces. And so on. Special mention for the BFG end-game guns, whose high potential for destruction but similarly high likelihood of backfiring make them far more dangerous to the player than to the targets.
A meta version of this trope was why the version of BFG 9000 in Doom's press release beta, which rapidly launched a lot of fireballs◊, was cut in favor of the version in the final game which simply launches a single powerful plasma ball; not only it "looked like Christmas", but it slowed the computer down to a crawl.
Doom3's version of the BFG was all but useless thanks to both it's rare ammo and a story based design flaw which causes it to explode if it's charged for too long, and since there isn't anything resembling a warning of this, it's very easy for the player to accidentally blow themselves up trying to charge it to max. The other weapons in the game don't have these drawbacks.
The Power Bomb in Metroid: Other M somewhat qualifies for this. It's the strongest weapon in the game, and you can only use it for one fricking battle. And that's after being devoured by a Metroid Queen. After beating the game, however, it is freely available, though it has a recharge time of 2 minutes, which renders it kind of useless in battle, as most fights against regular enemies take less than a minute.
At least they have an actual use in that game - after their introduction in Super Metroid, the power bomb's sole function has generally been finding more power bombs.
Jet Force Gemini comes with several of these weapons. First of all, you will never, ever use a mine in a game where the only enemy that will ever make even a half-hearted attempt at pursuing you is the most basic mooks, yet they give you a selection of three different mine types (proximity, remote, and timed). They also give you a flamethrower and an electricity gun, both of which have ridiculously short range and will use up their limited ammo in less than 30 seconds. Lastly, they give you cluster bombs, which are ridiculously powerful. The only problem is that they give you grenades, a homing missile, and a freaking tri-rocket launcher before they ever give you the cluster bomb, and the cluster bomb is only effective in situations where there's a massive swarm of enemies, the exact situation that you'll use (gasp) the tri-rocket launcher, the homing missile, or the grenades, with less chance of getting caught in the massive blast radius.
PlanetSide has the Scorpion weapon system. The weapon looks like a modern Stinger missile launcher, but functions totally differently. Rather than firing a guided missile, it fires an air-burst rocket that explodes at a distance specified by right-clicking on an object at said distance. The missile, upon reaching the specified distance, will explode and release grenades that detonate provided they are given 25 meters downwards to arm themselves. The weapon can deal enormous damage, but it may be the single hardest weapon to use, ever - because you need to use trigonometry to figure out the proper distance to range-lock the missile to. If you were to range-lock on an enemy sitting 70 meters away from, the missile would explode harmlessly ahead of him, as the hypotenuse of your missile's firing arc needs to be greater than the "X" component of the range triangle, which the weapon does not compensate for. To hit said enemy at 70 meters, you would need to range-lock at an object or terrain 74 meters away, then fire at a 20 degree angle from the horizon to hit him.
The Police 911 games give you increasingly impressive bonuses for advancing through the ranks, with the ultimate one, for Commissioner, being 100 lives. Once you get that, you can keep playing until...well, you run out of time. Worse,you don't get any benefits whatsoever once you reach Commissioner, meaning that once the clock runs down, you're sunk. And needless to say, if you continue, your lives get reset to 3. Unless you're a real ace at this game to the point where time isn't an issue, it's much better to pick up the first two bonuses (5 seconds and 10 seconds, respectively) and then die on purpose to reset them, tacking on the third bonus (1 life) only when you're on your last life.
The Exotic weapons in System Shock 2, especially on higher difficulties: able to cut through organic enemies like a hot knife through butter but pathetically weak against everything else. You also get them much too late in the game and need a lot of cyber modules to upgrade your stats enough to use them. One of the three is also needlessly complex to use, having an impractical explode-on-trigger-release system. It's far more cost-effective and pragmatic to focus on standard or energy weapons, which are effective against all enemies thanks to the varying types of ammunition for the former and complete indipendence from consumable supplies for the latter.
Heavy weapons aren't very worthwhile to pursue either. The grenade launcher does impressive damage but depends on rare and inventory-cluttering ammunition, the stasis cannon is utterly worthless as it only paralizes enemies and the fusion cannon does not do enough damage to justify the complicated usage and module expense.
Due to Borderlands' weapon generation system, guns like this show up quite often. It's not uncommon to come across a weapon that does an absolutely staggering amount of damage, but has some other factor (horrible accuracy, an abysmally sluggish fire rate, a long reload time and small magazine, implausibly high ammo consumption etc.) that makes it more efficient to use a less powerful weapon without those drawbacks. There are also a few more specific instances:
High power sniper rifles. They almost always have extremely slow fire rates, meaning that if you don't get a one-hit kill, the enemy will close the distance and force you to switch to a shorter range weapon, making it easier to just forgo the sniping and blast the crap out of them with a shotgun. There's also the issue that if you do kill them, other enemies will hear the shot and charge you.
Carnage shotguns, which shoot rockets. While it sounds awesome on paper (they typically have higher fire rates than rocket launchers, and use up less ammo), in function they usually aren't worth the trouble because the rockets have much less splash damage, and much worse accuracy than a regular rocket launcher. The most impractical of them all is the Boomstick shotgun, a 6-round burst version with literally no accuracy. It will gib anything within 8 feet (Maybe) but beyond that it's worse than useless.
Rapid Fire Rocket Launchers. Shooting off five rockets at once sounds badass, but it eats ammo like no tomorrow and it can be really difficult to aim all the shots.
The disputed kings and queens of Awesome But Impractical in Borderlands, however, are Eridian weapons, one of the most shining examples of Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better in the history of gaming. They shoot energy, which in a lot of other science fiction games would equal awesomeness. But it soon becomes obvious the Eridian weapons are Awesome, but Impractical - and even the "awesome" part is arguable at best. While they do shoot highly damaging bursts of energy, said bursts are Painfully Slow Projectiles, often blind the player, and are taxing on the gun's very slow-recharging ammo pool. On top of that, the only thing they work somewhat well against is the Guardians – and that's when we're talking about the Thunder Storm, the only reasonably useful gun of the pack. Last but not least, by the time you get these alien weapons, you'll have a fair amount of levels in the proficiency of the basic weapons, an advantage you won't get with the Eridian ones unless you're willing to go Level Grinding.
''Borderlands 2 suffers from the same "randomly generated weapons" system issues as in the first game. "Holy Crap this shotgun does four times the damage of my last one!" very often gives way to "Holy Crap, this shotgun uses four ammo per shot, has a four-bullet magazine, a four second reload time, and won't hit anything more than four feet away!"
Crysis 2 limits you to two weapons, and you have to fight a lot of enemies between ammo pickups, so it makes sense to keep in both slots weapons that take lots of ammo. Then you find the experimental guns, which are enormously powerful, will one-shot normal enemies and drop even heavies in a few shots, but have tiny ammo capacity and can't be recharged by the pickups. Which will you take: an assault rifle and a gauss weapon that you can fire a grand total of eight times before it becomes useless, or an assault rifle and a machine gun, both of which you can keep reloading throughout the level? Hmm, tough choice.
Crysis 3 limits you to three weapons, one being the Awesome yet Practical Predator bow, the other two being regular ballistic weapons. You'll probably never use the ballistic weapons with as much of a Game Breaker the bow is (and you get it immediately after starting the game) but if you so desire, the Typhoon practically defines this. It has a 720-round magazine. That it expends in a matter of two or three seconds. Modeled after real-life MetalStorm weapons, it's supposedly made to "hit the Ceph and hit them hard" but considering you can only carry one spare magazine for it, it's just not efficient enough at what it does on full-auto. Toggling it to shotgun mode mitigates the sheer speed of its ammo expenditure a bit, but sacrifices its one appealing factor - the absurd rate of fire.
Crysis Features the option to outfit a shotgun with a telescope designed for a sniper rifle. However, since the shotgun is only effective at short or medium range at best, doing so is obviously impractical albeit hilarious.
It got toned down in later games of the series, but the first Unreal and its multiplayer-only counterpart Unreal Tournament have six-barreled rocket launchers. While this is arguably the definition of awesome, and fully capable of instagibbing almost everything, firing all six shots is challenging because the launcher automatically fires when it's full, making full-power hits all but impossible against anything but extremely slow-moving targets. While still somewhat useful in the single-player game, there are no slow-moving targets in Tournament; sure enough, an official mutator that made all rocket launchers single-shot soon came out.
Tron 2.0 had the Prankster Bit. A very impressive BFG that fires implosion vortices and can pretty much clear a small room with one shot. Unfortunately, you get it too late in the game to fully upgrade it, the energy cost is massive, and in close quarters (read: most of that final stage), it stands as much of a chance of killing Jet as it does the thing he's shooting.
Starship Troopers: The railgun, the missile launcher, and the nuke launcher can kill most Arachnids in one shot, but their rate of fire is slow, and ammo for them is quiet rare. Also, the Morita carbine's secondary fire mode is useful at wiping out groups of Arachnids, and can even bring down a Royal with several shots, but eat up lots and lots of ammo, which is shared with other Morita variants.
Real Time Strategy
A common Real Time StrategyAwesome, but Impractical unit type is the "Mobile X", where X is an Awesome But Practical stationary defensive structure, usually a turret of some kind. For instance, the Command & Conquer series has the Mobile Gap Generator and Mobile Stealth Generator — the stationary building version is useful enough, but the mobile ones' range is so contracted that they're practically worthless.
There's also the fact that the Mobile Gap Generator leaves a trail of fresh revealed terrain behind it, meaning you're generally not too effective at sneaking.
In contrast, the Mobile Stealth Generator from Tiberian Sun: Firestorm is quite useful, because while the range is limited, it still covers quite a bit of land, is cheaper than the stationary building, takes less space and doesn't cost any power. However, it's only somewhat practical against human players (and then, they can simply shoot the ground with force fire and a AoE (area of effect) attack, which stands a reliable chance of hitting something) as the AI has an auto-radar that reveals all of your units, even if they're cloaked.
Nuke trucks were introduced in Command and Conquer: Red Alert and reinstated in Red Alert 2. It's Exactly What It Says on the Tin, a truck with a suicide bombing capability on the in-game nuke proportions. Only problem was it was made out of dry wood; one or two bullets was enough to set it off prematurely.
They're useful in RA2 if you build the Iron Curtain superweapon. Hit a few trucks with it and send them into the enemy base. Then wait for the invulnerability effect to wear off and watch the fireworks. Don't do it in RA1, though, as the invulnerability fades after only a second.
Yuri's superweapons in Yuri's Revenge. They sound really dangerous on paper: the Psychic Dominator mind-controls multiple units and destroys buildings, and the Genetic Mutator turns infantry over an area into brutes that the Yuri player can use. Problem is that their effectiveness is based entirely on how clustered together enemy units are, and the Genetic Mutator doesn't work on garrisoned infantry. A smart human player can easily counter the Psychic Dominator by spreading their units out and keeping them away from buildings, and can render the Genetic Mutator harmless by keeping all of their infantry inside buildings or AP Cs.
The main use for the Genetic Mutator seems to be on your own units - Yuri's ore miners automatically generate slaves to use as miners for free, so moving a group of them into the same area and then hitting them with the mutator can generate a lot of Brutes very fast for free.
Superweapons in general tend to be like like this, particularly ever since Red Alert 2. They can leave a pretty large hole inside a base, or even take out an army, but they have a significant "charge-up" time, every player receives a warning that one has been built, their location is revealed through the fog-of-war to everybody, and at a whopping 5,000 credits, a superweapon can easily break the bank. It is normally wiser to focus on building a standard army against a human player rather than building one (or two) of these giant "Attack Me!" beacons. There are aversions to this rule, but the rule-of-thumb is to just stick to a standard army.
The utility Superweapons like the Chrono-sphere and Iron Curtain however, avert this trope. 9 Prism tanks instantaneously transported into the middle of an enemy base will wreak havoc. And an Iron Curtain can ensure that the afore-mentioned nuke truck actually reaches its target. Alternatively, if you're feeling like a troll, Chrono-shifting a cluster of your opponent's units over water can be hilarious. This is honestly one of the best ways to deal with the Elite Mooks guarding the Kremlin in the final Allied mission of RA 2.
Certain super units can border this sometimes. The Mammoth MK 2 has a weapon that insta-gibs anything that's not a building (and gibs those in about 3 shots) and has anti-aircraft capabilities. The drawback is that it's horrendously expensive, pathetically slow, and you could only build one of it. A rush of cheap expendable troops is usually enough to destroy it, as it has quite a lengthy recharge time for its guns and it can only target one unit at a time. Granted, it can kill multiple units lined up together, but that means it can kill yours too. In the same vein the Cyborg Commando is on the other spectrum. Technically infantry (so anti-tank doesn't work) but has tank armor (making infantry guns useless), can regen in tiberium, and blows everything up with the same efficiency as the Mammoth MK 2, as well as being pretty fast on both recharging shots AND running. The Drawback? He has no AA weapons. A few orca bomb runs and it's scrapped.
Keeping an Orca transport nearby however, can turn the Mammoth into a rapid response super unit that becomes hard to rush. Just as long as that transport doesn't die.
C&C 3 showcases the vulnerabilities of walkers, which, in-universe, forces the GDI to go back to more traditional types of vehicles (in Tiberian Sun, they were nearly all-mech). In-game, your commandos can cripple mechs by slapping C4 on a leg joint, at which point it's fair game for any infantry to occupy. This is especially true for the only remaining GDI mech, which only has artillery guns taken off a battleship. At least the Nod mech can have a flamethrower, and the Scrin one has lasers.
Mobile Factory, if the factory in question has to be locked down to use. Often, it can't be repaired without re-converting it into a truck.
The Scrin Mothership of Command and Conquer 3 can destroy and entire base in a single shot, but it take 5,000 credits to deploy, has low armour and moves very slowly.
Actually, a common tactic is to send the Scrin commando unit (The Mastermind) into an enemy base, find a building that gives you the space to drop the building that calls the Mothership, and then force-fire the Motherships main gun on the building, sure, you lose a structure, but just watch the fireworks as your enemy's base becomes rubble in seconds. All of this is purely luck based, and requires the best timing.
The Scrin's Planetary Assault Carrier tends to have this rap in the C&C3 community. Very Expensive ($3000), slow, requires Tier 4 to build (while most heavy-duty units only need Tier 3), and it's fighter ships it launches can be neutralized by a competent anti-air effort. The Devastator Warship ($2400) is often a better choice overall, as it requires 1-less tier of technology, and it is a helpful artillery ship, but lacks anti-air offense.
Generals had the GLA SCUD Launcher, which was awesome in that its high explosive missile really dealt some serious damage and its Anthrax warheads were overkill for infantry. In Zero Hour they could be improved with enemy scrap parts for up to two power boosts. The drawbacks are that the missiles need time to deploy to fire and are inaccurate to the max, its pathetically slow (here the Tunnel Networks come in handy) and has paper armour. It also costs a Generals Point. All in all, buying Rocket Buggies is much more feasible as they are much faster and do not cost a Gen Point better spend on an offensive special power.
The special weapons of Dune II: the Devastator is the most powerful tank, but is very very very VERY slow, and when it shoots, it takes a long time to shoot again - its Self-Destruct Mechanism is impressive, but usually useless (it will explode anyway if heavily damaged). The Sonic Tank is awesome as it can hit many enemies with a single blast, but it will hit your units if they are between the Sonic Tank and its target. The Ornithopter is awesome as it's the only one flying unit, but you cannot control it! Once deployed, it goes directly against your enemy and attacks a target of its choice, and in a minute it is shot down by enemy rocket turrets. The Saboteur can run very fast and can destroy a building simply by touching it... but, again, turrets are a problem (and its armour is non-existent). The Death Hand is an incredibly powerful missile: unfortunately (but fortunately for you when the enemy uses it) it studied at the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy (Save Scumming can help).
You fail tactical strategy, for now. This is the Harkonnen Palace weapon, right? The one that will destroy what it hits, but is more likely to miss the X? So if you only have one palace, you aim between a few important buildings. And, nothing restricts you to only one palace — you build multiples of these. Sure, if you take out one building, it will just be replaced, but if you take out 5 buildings on your second volley, or 11 on your third volley, well, this becomes Awesome But Practical — so much of a game winner that for Dune 2000, they nerfed this back to useless. Carpet Bombing FTW. On the other hand, Dune 2000 also buffed the Saboteur into usefulness by giving it chargeable stealth. Turrets can't hit what they can't see.
One can actually make good use of the Ornithopter, increasing its chances of survival by building them in pairs at a time (by having two Hi-Tech factories built at once). This can result in the enemy turrets having a hard time aiming because they had to decide which of the two to hit. There's a good reason why in Real Life combat aircraft fly missions at least in pairs.
And then there's the Deviator, which is wonderful for dealing with Devastators (drive it away from the base and self-destruct it), but hampers you in previous missions - because it shares a sprite with the (generally far more useful) Rocket Tank, the Ordos can't build those. They can buy them from starports - at which point it becomes impossible to tell them and your Deviator battery apart.
They were great for abusing an AI bug, though. Recipe: Deviate an enemy. Wait until the mind control is about to wear off, then give it an attack order without finalizing the order by telling it what to attack. When the mind control ends, click somewhere empty to finalize the attack order. The unit will now perform its order until completed, and since an empty space cannot be destroyed, it will never be completed. You could also make it attack an enemy building, but then the unit would revert to normal if the building got destroyed.
Halo Wars has the Scarab on the Covenant's side. A big, lumbering four-legged alien walker with a Frickin' Laser Beam that can deal good damage to anything, especially base structures. It takes enough population to stop you from using half of an army (which is usually more useful). It costs 3000 supplies (put it into perspective, a human tank costs 500. Infantry cost 100.). Most mainline units and some counter-units (even counter-units designed to counter other stuff) have special abilities which can kill it fairly quickly. Its biggest problem is that when you've put half of your population cap into it, even its BFG isn't killing stuff quick enough to be worth it before it inevitably dies, and adding any more armor would risk make it a Game Breaker. It also has no upgrades when other units do.
It does have a couple of redeeming features making it situationally useful. It can be built from your central base structure, unlike almost every other unit in the game, requiring no preparation, especially due to its double-edged lack of upgrades. So if your opponent makes the mistake of building an army entierly or almost entirely of units which can't deal with the Scarab... It's also Purposefully Overpowered before 10 minutes, as compared to the units normally available at that stage of the game, so that if you can somehow gain higher supplies and/or tech then you're "supposed" to have (and there are ways to do this) then you can get a Scarab as early as 6 minutes Curb-Stomp Battle ensues.
Also, surrounding it with healers as a primary strategy can make it survive long enough to make its laser effective.
Machines Wired For War gives us the eradicator, a small unit that can wipe out entire squads with a controlled gravity collapse. Unfortunately it's slow, weak and could kill several of your own units (along with itself) if it should try to defend itself. See also the Bee bomber, nuclear missile and spy.
Most of the super-weapons in the Star Trek: Armada series come under this trope. The Romulan Phoenix for example can create a Negative Space Wedgie that obliterates anything near it - but you have to get the Phoenix right near whatever you want to destroy, and its shields are so incredibly weak that you have to surround it with a substantial escort fleet anyway. The Cardassian Dreadnought from Armada II suffers this flaw and has weaker shields to boot. Also in the second game Species 8472 can have eight ships combine their firepower into one massive beam, but there's little point in actually doing so because they'll never get near enough to a heavily fortified target to form up and activate the beam. The Borg have the Transwarp Gate, which isn't too bad in the first game, but is effectively rendered useless with the inclusion of warp drive in the second (although they did end up with the massive Game Breaker, the Fusion Cube in Armada II). The Federation and Klingon super-weapons avoid this trope; the Federation's Time Freezer weapon is expensive and has no actual destructive power, but can freeze enemy ships in time from anywhere on the map. Likewise, the Klingon Shockwave weapon is mounted on a fairly weak ship and has a narrower effective range than the Phoenix, but the range is also much longer, making it easier to unleash on your enemies.
More importantly, in Armada II they've added elevation. Unfortunately someone forgot to apply that to either the Klingon or the Romulan supership, meaning half the time you'll activate your weapon only for most of it to go under or over your enemy.
Assault Mechs in Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds. They're distinctive units which can dish out massive blast damage and can transport units. Unfortunately: they're slow, they have a fairly annoying minimum range, your units are not Friendly Fireproof, and they're huge, making them hard to move through any narrow areas. Oh, and they're pretty pricey too.
Total Annihilation has the Core Krogoth, a unit about three times larger than any other unit. It has insane amounts of armor, the best laser in the game in its head, arm cannons, and anti-air missiles in its back. However, in multiplayer no one will build this unit because it uses the equivalent of 200 advanced fighters' worth of metal, energy, and build time, and requires its own expensive factory that can only produce that one unit. With the 200 fighters you should have been building, your enemy could take down the Krogoth in less than 30 seconds.
Additionally, there was a Third-Party created unit, the Be'elzebub, which took the Krogoth formula and cubed it. It took way more than an obscene amount of resources to create. If successfully built, its weapons would continue to drag and cause damage after hitting the ground, was bristling with AA missiles, and had a high-power laser cannon. Its HP was roughly four times greater than the game's previously determined maximum. Its death explosion was nearly large enough to completely destroy one of the smaller maps. It requires two separate self destructions to actually kill the unit. Oh, and it could walk in water. It was, as noted by the creator, only balanced by the amount of time it took to field. Once it hit the field, the other team would be better off simply self destructing every unit it has on the field.
Another two examples are the Rapid Fire Long Range Plasma Cannons, the Vulcan and Buzzsaw. They can shoot to about 10 screenlengths at 360 rounds/minute. They also cost as much as nine single shot Long Range Plasma Cannons, which shoot about 60 rounds/minute, are more accurate, fire 40% further, and can be spread out to minimize Splash Damage.
Total Annihilation examples include the Arm's Penetrator and Shooter — supposedly mobile Annihilator energy weapons, but nowhere near as powerful, and both the Arm and the Core have mobile artillery (the Luger and Pillager) which are supposedly mobile versions of the powerful Guardian/Punisher plasma turrets, but are incapable of shooting straight.
The Core has a unit called "The Can" it can take a great amount of punishment and deals massive damage with its green laser of doom. The problem? It has very limited range and it moves at about the speed of a snail. If you were good enough, you could circle your units around it and kill it without getting hit once.
On the other end of the spectrum, Total Annihilation has the walking bombs. Their destructive power is awesome, they're amphibious and they can cut circles out of the enemy's base if you get them in it. Problem is, they're very slow and weakly armored, so the defenses have ample time to deal with them. They're also not strong enough to survive an explosion caused by a nearby walking bomb, so you can't even march a large group in the enemy base confident that at least a few will survive to do damage - as soon as one is destroyed, the whole group goes up.
A similar argument could be made for the Mavor in Supreme Commander, Total Annihilation's Spiritual Successor. Its damage is massive, the impact radius of its shells considerable, its running costs modest and it has a range of 71 defensekm, while the largest maps in the game have dimensions of 80 km square. In addition, although strategic missiles can be intercepted , there is no defense against artillery shells except for shield generators — which Mavor shells punch straight through as if they weren't there. However, the build time (around 6 hours with one T-3 engineer), along with the mass and energy costs of its construction, are so prodigious that with the hundreds of tanks or fighters you could have built, any enemy can systematically dismantle your firebases and your main base — or build several nuclear missile silos and bomb your expansion into glass.
Most superweapons in Supreme Commander simply can't match their weight in high-end units when it comes to firepower, durability, or practicality.
It's worth noting that while "game enders" in Supreme Commander are usually awesome but impractical, they actually do become practical and arguably even necessary in particularly long games with particularly skilled players, when dozens of experimentals have already been built and destroyed (leaving exterme amounts of mass on the map), thousands of build force in engineers has been created, and a sufficient power infrastructure has been built up. At that point in a game, weapons like the Mavor become viable to build and indeed an ideal and effective option.
Total Annihilation's fantasy cousin, Total Annihilation: Kingdoms, gave you the ability to build gods. Virtually indestructable and able to kill most of a base with one shot, they were an instant "I win" button... if you could finish one. They would take so long to build that nobody ever bothered - partially because of gameplay reasons, and partially out of sheer boredom.
The triple nuke in World in Conflict: first, you need a whopping 240 Tactical Aid points at once to summon them, and second, even one nuke is usually Over Nine Thousand destruction-wise, which makes the other two mostly just hit the dirt.
Unit-wise, US and Nato Heavy Artillery units certainly apply. They fire an extremely flashy and lethal barrage of rockets... but any alert player can see them coming from afar and avoid the attack entirely. Plus the barrage can be seen on the minimap and will give away the position of the artillery, which is just a sitting duck at close range. Medium artillery is much cheaper, its shots can't be seen and it's just as effective against anything short of tanks. It even has Napalm against infantry in the forest.
Before the alpha version of Achron was released to the public, speculations abounded on this forum about possible strategies that could be implemented with the new time manipulation mechanics. As it turns out however, most of them require you to either focus your entire attention on a single unit, or take too long to implement, or are simply so complicated that you tend to forget what you're doing half way through. The fact that the enemy is constantly trying to kill you doesn't help.
Especially notable is Permacloning, which was a viable tactic in early versions and still is in the single player campaign. By careful time manipulation, you can cause chronoclones to become casually disconnected from their parents, thus letting you create free units out of nothing, and potentially even recover from a complete defeat if you're Grekim. Unfortunately, the methods to do this are all risky, time consuming, and/or difficult to pull off under standard multiplayer map conditions.
The siege driver of Sword of the Stars is a true BFG, an gun that shoots astroids. It also requires a special mission section on a dreadnaught class ship, is very hard to aim at anything besides planets, and needs to be fired by hand. And any fleet too weak to shoot down the astroids before they hit the planet can probably be swept away by a single normal dreadnaught.
In the classic 4X game Stars! you can build orbital mass-drivers to fling minerals around your empire at high warp speeds, so as to avoid the need for freighters, which are slower and could be intercepted by the enemy. Now if you read the game's help file, you might notice that there's a table for damage inflicted by uncaught mass packets. That's right, if you fling minerals at an enemy colony which doesn't have a mass driver to catch them, the minerals will hit the planet and inflict damage, just like a meteor random event! Unfortunately the amounts of minerals required to inflict decent damage are rather high, and you'd be better off building a war fleet and attacking the enemy colony the old-fashioned way... if the enemy colony did have a mass driver after all, congratulations, you just gave your opponent free minerals!
The nuclear missile in StarCraft is for novelty purposes only. Impressive and satisfying to watch, but costly and difficult to use. First of all, you have to have a ghost with "ocular implants" (to extend the ghost's range so he can be far away enough not to be killed in the blast), then it costs 200 minerals and 200 gas to build, a Siege tank is cheaper and is reusable... It takes a long time to fire, and the enemy is warned when you fire it, and really you need two nukes to do any appreciable damage to the enemy or destroy one of his buildings (which is probably cheaper to rebuild than the nukes you used to destroy it), and if your ghost is killed before the missile hits, the missile is lost. This makes it OK against the AI who doesn't seem scramble his Detectors (to spot the invisible ghost) once he hears the warning, but unlikely that a nuke ever strikes a human opponent... If you've advanced to the stage that you can actually build one (they are very high up on the tech tree), then you have probably already had the chance to build an army of conventional weapons that can do far more damage. If you can somehow sneak a ghost into his command centre and destroy that with one, taking most of his builders with it, that's about the only use you're going to get out of this.
Made slightly more practical as a surprise tactic in Starcraft 2. The ghost no longer needs its ocular implant upgrades to fire the nuke without getting fried, the nukes are cheaper to build, and are also built from the ghost academy instead of the command center, meaning you don't take up a slot for a comsat station (now the orbital command).
However, the (now impossible) Vortex/Nuke Combo requires an allied Protoss/Terran team, someone to tech up to Mothership (itself Awesome, but Impractical), and then pull off the timing and coordination to place the nuke just as the Vortex begins. However, it is glorious to see.
The Archon Toilet is also both awesome but waaaaay too difficult to pull off, needing a Mothership, a large number of archons, and a decent sized-cluster of enemies. However, it is quite impressive to pull off, as Archons deal splash damage and Vortex tightly packs the enemies.
In one of the only selections from the Starcraft series (Which are notoriously balanced games), the Terran Battlecruiser sees almost no competitive use whatsoever in Starcraft II. Its speed relative to other flyers (Slow), damage per second (Much, much, much worse than 3 Hydralisks, which you can get for cheaper), being the only Tier 4 unit in the game (Requires one extra building than Protoss Mothership), and extreme expense (300/300) cause it to see little use anywhere. Their redeeming factors include flight and extreme health/armor. Still, if you're rushing to Tier 4, you'll get a bang of them out fast once they become available, if only because you'll have a thousand Gas or so. Make sure to grab the Weapon Refit so it can fire Lasers of Doom on top of it all.
The Battlecruiser actually sees more use than its Protoss counterpart the Carrier. Battlecruisers are often brought out to counter powerful high value units (like the Carrier) via Yamato Cannon sniping but the main advantages of the Carrier (one of the longest attack ranges in the game and face melting DPS if fully loaded) can be nullified with half-competent AA or a large enough Marine ball.
Similarly to the Battlecruiser the Thor is slow, expensive, and takes a long time to build. Its heavy armor and anti-air missiles that do splash damage just barely make it worthwhile.
Same thing goes for the Zerg Ultralisk. It's a giant armored monster that slices up its enemies with two pairs of kaiser blades. Quite badass. But due to their contradictory nature as both an Area of Effect and an Anti-Armor unit, they're extremely situational. This was however fixed in Heart of the Swarm, making the Ultralisk a lot more practical.
Many of the units you can build in Starcraft 2's campaign follow this trope. While they may be useful in the mission in which they're introduced, later on you'll have no need for them.
The Odin is the Awesome, but Impractical version of the Thor, being bigger, tougher and even sporting a nuke launcher (though you don't get to use it). Your engineer specifically tells you this trope is why the Thors are a dialed-back, mass production version.
The obscure Yu-Gi-Oh spin-off Falsebound Kingdom has fusions. To start off you need to waste an item slot for Polymerization. Second, they have less total LP, Attack and Defence than their materials, the lack of attack and HP is magnified by the fact that it counts as one target. Third of all, they can't be armed with Items, meaning you overall waste three slots that could be spent on Monster Reborn, Red Medicine and something else. Whereas you could just use the seperate two/three monsters to significantly increase damage output and HP. They aren't as bad in the real life card game because Attack and Defence function differently and LP are applied to the player, not the monster.
Fusions are pretty awesome. For one, any damage done to the fusion is not done back to the original monsters (as long as the LP doesn't go down to 0). When the monsters fuse, it has full health and full action points, regardless of how little the material monsters had. All in all, Fusions are a bitch to fight against, and are pretty damn powerful to use.
It's a nice trick to use, throwing in a Fusion near the end of a regular fight to give yourself a few more attacks before combat ends. Or if your monsters are hurting and you're out of healing items. But yeah, in a straight comparison, Fusion doesn't offer much on top of the material monsters.
Jeff Wayne's War Of The Worlds has a couple of these. The Martian electric machine is a Spider Tank that shoots lightning (For Massive Damage), but is so slow that it is often destroyed before it can get within its extremely short firing range. The Human submersible can go underwater to sneak past enemy units, but it must surface to fire and is only armed with a single small gun, which is not nearly enough to take out any targets of opportunity it comes across.
BattleZone II has the Pulse-Stabber, a variant of the bog-standard AT-Stabber tank cannon. When you fire the PL-Stabber, the cannon shell emits pulses of hard radiation, damaging anything the shell passes by. While this is awesome in practice, the shell starts pulsing immediately after you fire it - meaning that if you're moving forward while shooting, the radiation bursts catch your own tank, causing you to damage yourself. The weapon is fairly useless in the standard game because of this, but in the Fleshstorm mod, the Pulse-Stabber is very useful for its large pulses, which let it easily damage the hordes of weak Swarm units.
The ultimate spells in Sacrifice of every fraction are generally the flashiest, most breathtaking spells. They are also highly situational at best, worthless at worst. Either they do pitfull damage (Tornado, Meanstalks), are easy to avoid (Volcano, Meanstalks, Bore), or will keep the enemy busy but prevent you from moving in as well (Death, Tornado, Volcano). By contrast, the penultimate spells you get at the same time are Boring, but Practical in comparison.
War elephants in both the first and second Rome: Total War. Sure, they're able to plow through infantry like a bulldozer, either tearing them apart or forcing them to rout in seconds due to their intense effect on morale, and let's face it, who doesn't love feeling like Hannibal or Pyrrhus as they lay waste to enemy armies with these tanks of the ancient world? A few problems: the cost to purchase and maintain them are ridiculously high, easily enough to break your bank if you're not careful. Even after this, actually using them on the battlefield requires alot more micro-managing than other units, even moreso than cavalry, because as terrifying a force they are to the enemy, they too are very easily spooked by skirmishers and projectiles, especially flaming arrows, which are available to even the most basic archer units in all factions. Worse still, their morale breaking will lead to them running amok in the middle of the battlefield, leading to them attacking both you and your enemy without discrimination.
The Santisima Trinidad in Napoleon Total War. While you can't build it in a normal game, as Spain is not a playable country. You can try to capture it from the Spanish in the campaign or play as the Spanish fleet in a custom battle. It's got a lot of HP and guns, but it also terrible at maneuvering, so a group of smaller ships can pick at it, while staying just out of its firing arcs for the same cost. For reference, in Real Life, the ship made no contribution at the Battle of Trafalgar besides being a large target for the British.
Instant death spells in most Final Fantasy games are absolutely pointless. Any enemy worth using them on is immune or else evades an absurd amount of the time. In fact, a lot of Final Fantasy games have other spells that immediately incapacitate enemies but aren't technically instant death. They're usually cheaper and more reliable.
Final Fantasy XIII broke the trend and made the Death spell much more useful. Although it has only a one-percent chance of actually killing something in one shot, it also does decent magical damage if it fails. It also made Level Grinding much easier when used on the normally tough Adamantoises, who were not immune to the spell and could be quickly incapacitated for a short time, allowing you to spam Death until they died. It also made it possible to beat some mission marks far earlier than you normally would for excellent rewards. With enough patience, one could ostensibly take down stupidly hard enemies like the Neochu and earn large amounts of experience and valuable items like the Growth Egg, which doubles experience earned.
In a Shout Out to the first saga, the true Final Boss was actually programmed to be vulnerable to Vanille's "Death" spell.
Odin, a recurring Summon Magic who shows up in the late game, has an instant-kill attack, the Zantetsuken. Even though he's, you know, Odin, and appropriately often hard to get, the Zantetsuken is as much of a Useless Useful Spell as you'd expect. Oftentimes, he adds further layers to it. In Final Fantasy VI, he taught the spell Meteor, at a point in the game where Ultima is the only option worth using, and boosted your Speed stat, which was unique in the original but something that Giant Cactuar could do even better in the remake. In Final Fantasy VIII, he would randomly appear at the start of battles and murder everything, which wasn't a good thing when you were taking part in the signature FFVIII tactic of "draw magic, then run away before you end up gaining any XP."
Final Fantasy II introduced series staple Ultima. It scales in power with the number of spells known by the user and their levels, rather than Spirit or Intelligence, and does significantly more damage than the next strongest magic, Flare and Holy, when used by a character with many high-level spells. However, since Flare, Holy or elemental attacks did more than enough damage if leveled properly, the Level Grinding needed to deal adequate, let alone better, damage with Ultima became pointless. Many of the spells in that game were terrible, forcing characters to learn & level up spells they'd never use again to make Ultima useful.
Final Fantasy IV includes the Meteo spell, which is far and away the most powerful damage dealer in the game... but is also the most expensive and takes four times longer to cast than anything else. It's also blunted by the damage Cap of 9999.
The Twincast augment gives any pair of characters the same twincasting ability that the twins Palom and Porom have; with even more powerful moves available for use. By combining Cecil and Rosa, you get Ultima; strongest attack spell in the game bar none. The problem is that it takes time to cast, and the team is deprived of their strongest physical fighter and both of their users of White Magic until it's done.
Cyan's more powerful Sword Techs tend to be rather impractical. They have useful effects like multiple-hits and One Hit KOs; however, they require long periods of charging-up, during which time you can't give commands to your other characters, leaving your party completely defenseless against enemy attacks. (Using a Quick spell on Cyan beforehand will remove this drawback.)
The high-level multi-target spells like Quake, Tornado and Meltdown tend to fall into this, as they damage all targets on the field, including your own party. Abusing Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors can make them all the more useful.
Setzer's Gil Toss (aka GP Rain) deals lots of defense-ignoring damage, and is acquired fairly early in the game, not long after he joins you in fact. As its name implies, using this attack costs money. Specifically, it costs the user's level times 30 Gil. As it so happens, this is one of the few games where money ''isn't'' useless, at least up until you get the second airship much later in the game. By the time you can sink all your savings into Gil Toss, other spells and attacks will do just as much damage.
The final boss has the "Forsaken" attack. A Super Move Portrait Attack that blasts all your party members for non-elemental damage, and is preceeded by a speech and a close-up. Thing is, though, that while the move has a higher spell power than Ultima, it's effected by split-damage and magic defense, so it tends to barely do any real damage to the party after all that is factored out.
The Crusader esper, obtained by defeating the Eight Dragons, two of which are found in the final dungeon. Meltdown, one of the spells it teaches, hits both the enemy and the party for massive elemental damage. Furthermore, Meltdown is taught at a x1 rate, so chances are that you will reach the final boss before you learn it. To hit the nail in the coffin, the Crusader summon is essentially a more powerful, non-elemental Meltdown spell, and therefore is very likely to kill off the entire party.
Then there's the Magicite item. What it does is summons a random esper. Some of them - Bahamut, Maduin, Sraphim, Golem, and Starlet for example - are very useful. Most of them...aren't, either doing very little damage or having a non-damaging or useless effect. And then you have Crusader, which, especially when you first get the Magicite item, will kill you unless you've really power-leveled.
The "Apocalypse" spell in Final Fantasy VIII. There's only one place you can find it - it can be Drawn from the final boss. Though hackers have found its stats far exceed any other spells when Junctioned, there's no New Game+ so you never get to Junction it. Plus, using it as a magic attack yields lower damage than doing other things (attacks, Limit Breaks, summons, etc).
Zell and Irvine's Limit Breaks are more about DPS than flashiness. Sure you could memorize the right move combinations for Zell to get the super duper finisher, or you can input the same two basic combos roughly 5 times or more a second and accumulate well over 50 hits. Irvine has a few shots that are nice (such as ignoring defense or guaranteeing 9999 damage), but the Fast Ammo is easy to restock (shops sell it late in the game, or you can refine it for pitiful amounts of resources) and at max attack it can do well into the 1000s of damage per hit.
Selphie's 'The End' limit break. It will instantly win any fight, even bosses, including the final boss, in a beautiful and whimsical fashion. But you could go 3 entire playthroughs of the game, and never get the chance to use it, or even know it's there.
The Eden summon qualifies. Sure, it does a lot of damage (maxed out about 20 - 30k hit points.) But, you have to wait a minute and a halfevery time it's used. It's much, much faster to use normal attacks then to use this summon. Even worse, G Fs are useless on the final bosses anyway.
Ark in Final Fantasy IX is an example. He does a lot of damage, but in the time that his 2 minute summoning animation takes to finish you could have defeated every enemy on screen with lesser spells and taken a short nap. Although if your party is outfitted with auto HP regen, it's actually useful as a way to stop the enemies from attacking without actually pausing the game. Typically you'll regenerate to full HP with just one summon sequence.
In Final Fantasy XI, the Dark Knight Two-Hour ability is Blood Weapon, which drains an enemy's HP by the amount of damage a physical swing does. Problem is, Dark Knights traditionally use two-handed weapons, which have a high delay in attack speed, the drain effect doesn't deal additional damage, Weaponskills aren't affected by this at all, and the effect lasts 30 seconds. That's about four, five swings of a two-handed weapon.
Under the right circumstances, though, it's been turned into a Gamebreaker. Dark Knights also get the Souleater ability, which dumps 10% of their current HP into every swing of their weapon for 30 seconds. Blood Weapon cancels this HP loss. Combined with the weak-but-hits-8-times-in-a-row Kraken Club and high HP, the amount of damage this can create is DEVASTATING. I've seen a galka Dark Knight with this set-up deal more damage to a super-challenging boss than the other 50 damage-dealers in the alliance PUT TOGETHER. The amount of hate this generates on the boss means that if it's not dead by the time he's done, the DRK will be.
A better example of this is probably the Ninja two-hour, Mijin Gakure, which kills the user, without the usual EXP loss, to cause damage to an enemy. The damage from it is so minimal, though, that the only reason to use it is for a quick trip to your home point.
As a 2 hour for solo play, Mijin Gakure is probably the best one in the game. The other two hours might be enough to allow you to escape or win the fight, but this is not a guarantee. Mijin Gakure forces you to lose the fight, but take no EXP loss. Given how EXP loss is based on a percentage of the EXP needed to reach the next level and higher level players require massive amounts of EXP, Mijin Gakure can save you hours and hours of grinding it back (plus the cost of ninja tools you would need for grinding it back). It does have a practical application, just not the one it was specifically designed for (which is the case for the Ninja class).
To a lesser extent, the White Mage 2 hour Benediction could fall in this category against mobs with AoE damage. While it is a very useful ability, it sometimes ended up healing generally not very threatening amounts of damage to the rest of the party and could end up generating so much hate that tanks simply could not get hate until the White Mage was killed.
Final Fantasy XII Zeromus's Limit Break, Big Bang is brutal (excess of 64000; the highest possible damage in the game), but he needs to have very, very few HP left in order to get it to do it (damage is equal to 5 times the difference between his max and current HP), and it triggers when he has only 10 seconds of his summon time left. This, along with every other summon Limit Break become Awesome But Practical in the (Japan only) Updated Re-release, due being able to control them manually and command them to use it whenever.
The Wyrmhero Blade. To get it, you have to kill Yiazmat and Omega Mk XII, and complete a fishing mini-game. To be fair, it is a pretty good sword. Now if only there was something worth using it on. To put this into perspective for those who haven't played the game. Yiazmat boasts 50,112,254 HP. This is the highest total in the entire series, and you can only do up to 9999 damage per hit unlike in Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XIII which are the only other games in the series with 8-digit enemy HP counts.
Final Fantasy X gives us the wonder of Yojimbo's Awesome, but Impractical Zanmato attack. The awesome: It is a one shot kill against absolutely anything in the game. The impractical: The odds of Yojimbo actually using Zanmato in a fight depends on a needlessly complex equation where the two biggest factors are a random number and how much money you pay him. You can't do anything about the random number, that leaves paying him ridiculous amounts of money (we are talking millions here). Even if you outright pay him a billion gil, and everything else is absolutely perfect, you can still fail because of the random number in the equation. How much Yojimbo likes you (based on how often you bring him out and how much you pay him) is also a factor - if he likes you enough, you can get Zanmato almost every time for ridiculously cheap - but getting him to that point will still be very expensive.
There's also Spare Change, in which one flings a handful of cash at the enemy. Let's just say that if you are throwing spare change, you will not be doing very much damage, so a better name might be "Your College Fund" or "Crack is Cheaper".
Final Fantasy Tactics: Cloud. He was a total badass in Final Fantasy VII, so he should be the same here, right? Wrong. You get him in Chapter IV, after undertaking a sidequest that grants you three (technically four) other characters. He comes with the best non-heavy armor in the game. The catch? He's level 1. No joke. Most of your characters by this point are somewhere in their 30's or 40's, and now you have a level 1 guy. If he levels up quick, so no harm, no foul, right? Wrong again. In order to use his unique skill set (named Limit, appropriately enough) you need to find his weapon, the Materia Blade. To find it, you need to have someone with low Brave with the Move-Find Item ability equipped (named Treasure Hunt in the PSP remake), and get them to the top of Bervenia Volcano. Still, easy enough, so what's the problem? The problem is, even when he's decent level and has the sword, he's next to useless. The Materia Blade is pathetic compared to the best sword in stores (the Rune Blade), and his Limit skills are not much better. His most powerful skill, Cherry Blossom (a case of Adaptation Expansion, perhaps, as he didn't have it in VII), has a charge of 2. For those who haven't played the game, there is an invisible counter keeping track of everyone's turns. The counter will have someone's turn come around when the counter reaches 100. This means that Cherry Blossom requires 50 ticks of the counter before it will trigger. Compare this to Holy (the most powerful White Magic) which has a charge of 10. That takes 10 ticks of the counter. Oh, and the kicker? Cloud's skills ONLY target tiles. Meaning, your target can just walk out of the area of effect, and Cloud will have wasted all that time. The ONLY way to prevent this is to have someone capable of keeping the target in place. Holy can target a unit, and remain locked on even when said unit moves.
Cloud's real value is his "Finishing Touch" move that will KO, Stone, or Stop anything it hits. That alone makes him powerful crowd control. He can also wear ribbons.
It's possible to set up a "Quickening Loop", which allows your party to have an infinite number of concurrent turns. However, it requires so much setup and so many high-level powers that there's absolutely no use for it.
The Samurai's "Draw Out" skillset, natch. The skillset has a wide range of spells that grant buffs, deal damage, and heal, while possessing the valuable abilities of lacking charge time and discerning friend and foe. However, each skill requires its corresponding katana in stock to cast, and every casting has a chance to break a stocked katana. Some of the best katanas are amongst the most expensive items in the game, and you must have several if you wish to use the skills reliably. The case is even worse for Masamune and Chirijiraden, the ultimate support and offensive spells of the Samurai respectively, as the above weapons are one of a kind, unless you abuse either the cloning glitch, cheat devices, or catching thrown weapons from extremely high level Ninja.
Add the fact that the skill also relies on magic power rather than physical power makes it completely useless on Samurais themselves and is best used as a secondary command skill by mages.
Meliadoul Tengille. She possesses excellent offensive stats and a skillset that deals great damage and breaks equipment in one fell swoop. She also comes with the rare Save the Queen knight sword. However, her skills can't hurt things that don't have equipment, including all monsters, though this issue is fixed in the PSP version. She also joins the team only a few battles after you obtain Cid, who has better stats, better equipment options, a better weapon (Excalibur), and every single one of her skills plus more.
This is much less an issue of Meliadoul being weak, and much more one of Cid being one of the biggest Game Breakers in RPG history. The former's skills are quite useful in battles with mainly human foes (i.e. most story battles), in which she rates as Awesome But Practical.
In Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, the difference between -ara and -aga fusion spells is about an extra second delay between the two casters. If all four players want to create one huge -aga spell, they have to coordinate their timing such that it'll take several seconds to actually cast the spell, during which the enemy might just attack them, interrupting the whole thing. Similarly, the single player mode -aga spells also have a much longer charge-up time than the lower levels. Best used for an opening move.
Final FantasyCrisis Core had the Ultima materia. While one of the rarest materia you would obtain or fuse, casting the spell takes a ridiculously long time. Unless you have endure status, the smallest of enemies can walk up, attack and interrupt whole process. Plus it doesn't work with Dual Cast.
Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light: it's rarely necessary to bring second or third tier black magic spells, since their buffed damage isn't really worth the additional action point expenditure, especially when in the hands of a black mage (who gain a 1AP discount that allows them to use basic spells every round for, if you have min-maxed for Intelligence and magic attack, really a lot of damage). There are also more than a few cool but not particularly useful options available from fully upgraded crowns.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 has the Infinity+1 Sword, the Odinblade and Odinbolt. They get more powerful the more Fragments you have, but they don't have any useful passive abilities compared to some of the weaker weapons.
Twilight Odin, a corrupted shadow of Lightning's Eidolon, can be obtained as a monster crystal. While he does get monstrous stats and the full 6 ATB segments, he's a Late Bloomer who starts at Grade 5 and thus requires the rarest and most expensive materials to level up in the slightest, his attack speed is so slow that any additional ATB segments past 4 are wasted on him since he'd never be able to use them up before the gauge refills, and his magic stat is unimpressive. You're better off with a Chichu, a Tonberry, or one of the DLC Commandos.
Pretty much any monster with a recruitment chance less than 10%. Yes, that Metal Gigantuar might be an amazing Sentinel, and Miquitzli is one of the best Synergists in the game, but chances are, in the time it takes to get one, you could have gotten something a little more common and ground enough Rare Candy to power it up significantly.
The "ultimate" elemental spells (Flare, Freeze, Surge, Tornado, and Elementaga), along with Ultima itself in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. They cost a huge amount of ATB gauge to use, have a lengthy animation that leaves Lightning completely vulnerable until they finish, and do a laughable amount of damage unless your HP is almost completely gone, in which case the damage can still only be considered okay at best. There's almost no situation where spamming a different, weaker command for the same ATB cost isn't more efficient.
Shining Soul II features "Soul" items that allow the player to perform a Wave Motion Gun attack after having filled a meter by killing a few trillion Mooks. On triggering it, the player is treated to a lengthy cutscene of whichever godlike entity's power is being used generally strutting their incipient-apocalyptic stuff.. followed by the Soul doing about as much damage as two or three good regular weapon hits.
Aika's super moves attack multiple targets, and her ultimate move, Omega Psychlone, has impressive visuals, where she trows a boomerang of fire onto her enemies, plunging into a burning pit on a rock. By the time you're half to three quarters of the way through the game, Vyse's only multi-targeting super move can do twice as much as the aformentioned psychlone. Her supporting moves, on the other hand, are extremely useful.
Gilder's Aura of Denial (blocks status effects) can easily be substituted for Aika's Delta Shield (protects from all magic), as even by the end of the game, very few enemies actually cause Standard Status Effects with a basic attack (and Fina's super move that cures it requires low Spirit Points).
Actually, the entire magic system by the end of the game is damn-near useless with the advent of the items that replicate them. The two massive advantages are that they do not require Magic Points or Spirit Points, and the offensive items are generally far more powerful than the characters' magic, including Fina, who is a Squishy Wizard. Also, Aika's Delta Shield -which the player pretty much has to spam against the Bonus Bosses to avoid Total Party Kills- blocks all magic used against your characters, both friendly and hostile, but it doesn't block items. And like many other games, the instant death spells are completely useless.
The Suikoden series contains a large number of 'Team Attacks' that fit this trope — they look flashy, but have so many special restrictions that most of the time you'd be better off just having each individual character attack separately.
The True Fire Rune in Suikoden III fits this trope like a glove. It holds some of the most powerful spells in the game, easily capable of wiping out enemy teams in a round or two. The big problem is that with S3's mechanics, the spells hit EVERYTHING within their range, your own team included.
Persona 4 has the ultimate Persona Izanagi-no-Okami. He resists all four elements and Physical attacks. He gets the strongest single target spells of all four elements, all four elemental Amp powers, plus four other high end powers. Unfortunately he's level 91 (which means you have to be level 91 to fuse him), he requires twelve Personas for fusion, cannot be retrieved from the Compendium, and has no resistance to Light or Dark. And worst of all, he doesn't inherit any skills. Given it is possible to fuse four element personas and personas that are immune to all seven attack types...
The fourth-level elemental attacks (such as Ragnarok and Niflheim) from Persona 4 also qualify. While they're the strongest elemental attacks available, they only deal slightly more damage than the "Dyne" level attacks while costing about four times the MP. Plus, they can only be found on certain Personae, and cannot be transferred through fusion. This is subverted in Persona 3, however, since in that game these attacks are both more powerful and transferable, making them good investments.
Averted with Thunder Reign, due to having a 100% chance of inflicting the very broken Shock ailment.
Phantasy Star IV has the Destruction combo; it requires four of your five party members, it requires them to act in exact order with no interrupting actions on either side, three of them are using their most powerful attacks possible, two of those were obtained through semi-hidden sidequests... and in the end, it does much less damage than the three attacks in question used independently thanks to the damage cap.
Star Ocean: The Second Story has its own brand of impractical, with ridiculously flashy, full-screen "ultimate" attacks like Meteor Swarm, Extinction and Tri-Ace (which is so awesome it's named after the developers). All of which hit just one time, running up against the game's damage cap of 9,999. As opposed to the supposedly less advanced techniques like Mirror Slice, which can hit more than a dozen times.
In Star Ocean: The Last Hope, the last symbology attacks you get are flashy and hit most of, if not the entire battle field. However, they generally can't be used in a chain combo, which cripples their damage capabilities compared to the basic symbology attacks that can be chained together repeatedly to acquire a huge damage multiplier.
Secret of Evermorenote OK, so it's a Western game, but gameplay-wise it's based on Eastern RPGs has the Reflect spell, which as its name implies, reflects alchemy spells back at the caster. This would have been a great spell, since no enemy absorbs alchemy spells and bosses frequently use very powerful alchemy (especially That One Boss, Verminator). Unfortunately, you don't get this spell until the beginning of Omnitopia. At that point, the only enemy left that uses alchemy is the Bonus Boss, the Faces (aka "Your Cleanliness")
Secret of Mana featured a ton of great moves you could unlock as you leveled up your weapon skills. Unfortunately their long charging times meant you were better off using regular attacks or stunlocking enemies to death with magic.
Golden Sun: The Lost Age's best Djinn Summon can only be acquired after confronting the strongest Bonus Boss in the game, and that can only happen after you get halfway through the final dungeon. And using the summon costs a full complement of Mars Djinni and half of your Mercury Djinni — a hefty cost that, depending on your class setup, can deprive you of your best healing for a few critical rounds. However, since it revives and fully heals everyone in the party, active or inactive, it's great to have your backup line able to pull it out and make the final boss substantially easier.
The endgame Summons in general are this, because while they do a metric crapload of damage in one shot, they all require you to have a sizable amount of Djinn on standby- meaning the stat boosts they give to their user disappear until they reset. They're still capable of inflicting impressive damage (particularly Daedalus), but the Summons acquired earlier in the game will generally see much more use solely due to using less Djinn.
Offensive Psynergy itself, to some degree. To increase attack for mundane weapons use, all you have to do is acquire better equipment or level-grind, but to increase elemental affinity for Psynergy you have to use tons and tons of Summons (and the bonus only lasts for the battle) or specifically set up a character with the correct Djinn and (rare) equipment. And while most Psynergy have very strict damage formulas that result in them quickly losing effectiveness, the basic attack will always do a solid amount of damage, if not more due to Golden Sun's overpowered critical hits. The only real advantage of combat psynergy is the ability to hit multiple enemies at once, and then all that does is save the player a turn or two of selecting Attack (and perhaps not even that due to Golden Sun's lack of cursor memory; every time you want to use a certain spell a menu dive is required).
To make a comparison, the best offensive Psynergies will do a couple hundred damage, tops, even with a high elemental Power and against enemies which are weak to its element. Megiddo, an attack obtained via the Sol Blade in The Lost Age and Dark Dawn, takes the user's attack power times three, which will easily have reached three digits by the endgame.
The Psynergy skills "Haunt", "Curse", and "Condemn" in all three games. They make the foe take damage when they attack, kills them in 7 turns, or kill them immediately, respectively. However, you get them at such high levels that most foes are immune to them and it would also be faster just to kill them regularly.
In Dark Dawn, Sveta's Beast Form can be this. On one hand, she turns into a seven-foot-tall werewolf who can smack bosses around barehanded. On the other hand, it drains one of her Djinn into Recovery Mode per round, and expires when she runs out of Djinn, leaving her in her more-human form and without her Djinn-enabled stat boosts until they recover.
Some Double Techs and nearly all Triple Techs in Chrono Trigger suffer from this, especially late game when your gear breaks the game mechanics. Simply put, you're almost always better off having each individual character take their action than using all of your turns up at once.
This includes the Triple Tech "Grand Dream." It deals higher damage the lower your entire party's overall HP is; with everyone at 1 HP, it hits the damage cap. This would be at least somewhat useful, except it's cast by Marle, Robo, and Frog, whose Frog Squash works on the exact same principle and can deal just as much damage, and costs him the same amount of MP...in other words, if you can dish out 9999 damage with Grand Dream, you're better off casting Frog Squash while having Marle and Robo prevent a party wipe.
Lucca's Wondershot is frequently accused of this too; the random multipliers attached to its damage mean that its attack power is either so good it bests Crono's Rainbow Sword, or so bad it's bested by his Mop. (Prism Specs help out - at both ends of the scale.) Plenty of people stick with the Turboshot for consistency.
And like its predecessor, many of the Techs look pretty cool, but are just too much trouble to set up for their average payoff.
Technically not true. For each color, there's bound to be at least one place where the enemies are of the same color and turn the field the color needed to cast the summon, but don't then absorb the damage. For example the shadow cats in the canyon can be killed by FlyingSaucer, and those strange white innate enemies in Terra Tower are vulnerable to Saints.
The only way the bat is genuinely useful is when you realize you can use it for preemptive strikes, since if you get a sneak attack on an enemy, the higher attack rating means you are much more likely to kill the enemy without actually entering the battle screen. So it's a situational weapon, not intended for traditional battles.
PSI Rockin'. It's one of the strongest attacks in the game (rivaling even Starstorm), and attacks all enemies. However, stronger variations end up costing large amounts of PP, which is a problem considering how Ness is the primary healer. Later, this is partially mitigated by the Magicant upgrade. Not to mention that Ness is the only PSI user who DOESN'T HAVE PSI Magnet so he can steal PP from enemies. Ness also has the strongest melee attack in the game, further reducing the effectiveness Rockin' on single enemy fights. Lucas from the sequel is essentially in the same boat as Ness minus Magicant buffs.
But....If you happen to be playing the SNES/Famicon version of Earthbound/Mother 2, you can abuse the Rock Candy and gain more IQ points, to have Ness end up with insane amounts of PP as high as in the 1000's, making PSI Rockin' really useful and not a problem to use. This was fixed in Mother 1+2 though.
The charge-up moves in Pokémon — Sky Attack, Skull Bash, Bide, etc, which require a turn or two of charging before they actually do damage. Later games introduce the held item Power Herb, which allows a Pokemon to bypass the charging turn and attack right away... once.
Solarbeam also falls into this category for Grass-types - while without Sunny Day in effect it requires a one-turn-charging, when the sunlight shines, it's an instant attack. Too bad Sunny Day also powers up Fire moves, one of Grass's many weaknesses.
However, this becomes Awesome yet Practical if you give Solarbeam to a Fire type, the vast majority of which can learn it. After setting up the sun, you've given your flame-spewing beast both a massively powerful attack, and a means of fighting back against the Water-, Rock-, and Ground-types that Fire-types are weak against.
Most players also avoid Hyper Beam and its various typeshifts (Giga Impact, Hydro Cannon, Blast Burn, Frenzy Plant, Rock Wrecker, Roar of Time, etc). While they do impressive damage (150 BP), you can't move on your next turn, so your overall damage output is decreased (in effect, the same as a charge-up move, with the exception being which order the missed turn comes). To clarify: Blast Burn (150 BP) over one turn and one turn of rest vs. Flamethrower (95 BP) over the same two turns. 95+95 = 190 damage vs. Hyper Beam and its typeshifts' 150 damage.
If Hyper Beam knocks an opponent in Red, Blue, or Yellow, or the original Japanese Pokémon Stadium (see video), then the user will not have to recharge, so it has some use. This was probably a glitch, though, as it doesn't make sense and this doesn't happen in any other game.
One-Hit KO moves. They kill the opponent in one hit... If it is slower than you (in the first generation), or, following the second, if you aren't in a lower level than the opponent. And, in case those conditions are met, the accuracy is 30%, and unaffected by normal modifiers (however, it increases by 1% for each level you advantage the enemy, meaning it'll always hit if you have a 70 level advantage note at this point though most attacks will knock out an opponent of such a large level disadvantage, in one hit, even ones that have a type advantage, not counting immuniities. ). Articuno learns both one of those attacks and an "aiming" attack, but that still remains as this.
Lock-On and Mind Reader, the aiming attacks. They guarantee the next attack will hit, including all those mentioned here with subpar accuracy and the OHKO ones. However, it only works for the next turn (meaning that, if you want to do another surefire hit, you have to use this again), and, if the opponent switches out, it is negated, so the net result is a lost turn and an attack with an unreliable move, giving the opponent a 70% chance of having 2 free turns if you are pairing this move with an OHKO.
Wonder why Thunderbolt (95 BP) is considered a better move than Thunder (120 damage)? Well, Thunderbolt has 100% accuracy and Thunder only has 70% which doesn't sound like much of a difference, but if your accuracy gets lowered, Thunder is useless. (Unless you're in the rain, that is - if a 'Mon uses Rain Dance or Kyogre or Drizzle Politoed decided to rear its head, Thunder pierces Protect moves 30% of the time in Diamond and Pearl, and hits without performing an accuracy check at all other times in all other games.)
That being said, there are ways to give use to moves with these restrictions, either through items like the Power Herb or special strategies/conditions, that can allow the above moves to be used effectively.
Head Smash borders on this with Rampardos, the Glass Cannon fossil dinosaur. Its base power is on par with Rock Wrecker (150), it gets STAB (Rock-type, too; Rock is a great offensive type), and it's coming from one of the most powerful physical attackers in the game (second-highest base Attack). The catch? It has horrific recoil...half of the damage you do is bounced back as recoil. And since Rampardos can't take a hit to save its life, the only Pokemon that use it are the ones with the Rock Head ability (negates recoil) that learn it, Relicanth and Aggron (weaker, but they also get STAB).
The DS games gave Shuckle, a Pokémon well known for having defensive stats that would make even legendary Pokémon drool, Power Trick, a move (introduced in Gen IV) that swaps his attack and defense stats; this gives him an impossibly large attack stat. The only problem is...now he has the lowest defense, HP, and speed stats in the game, so he'll be KOed before he can even do anything.
His special defense is still the same after Power Trick, so if he goes against a special attacker without any physical attack, Power Trick can work. Still very risky.
Trick Room can help, which is a move that switches speed priorities (slow Pokemon go first, fast Pokémon go last), so it's a viable if still risky strategy in doubles/triples (when that move can be used by a partner at the same time as Power Trick).
Belly Drum is a move that was introduced in Generation II. It raises the user's attack power to its highest at the cost of 50% of its health. If it's used correctly with a recovery move or item (like the famous "Resto-Chesto" trick), it can wreck unprepared foes apart.
Focus Blast is a move that deals a lot of damage (120 base power), but it has paltry accuracy and very few power points. Its poor accuracy can be shored up with an accuracy raising held item, the accuracy-boosting move Hones Claws(Coil also boosts accuracy, but nothing that learns that can also learn Focus Blast) or X Accuracy.
Focus Blast is more of the opposite, if anything. Its 70% accuracy makes it very unreliable, but it's the only widely distributed special fighting attack. Ghosts like Gengar use it because fighting and ghost together are resisted by nothing, psychic types use it to nail opposing dark and steel Pokemon, and it's often carried for general coverage since fighting's a great attacking type. Frustrating But Practical?
Slaking (final form of Slakoth) has some of the best stats in the game, even beating out some of the Olympus Mons of the games, and can learn some very strong moves to boot. Problem is that due to its Truant Ability, it can only attack every other turn, preventing it from being usable at the tournament level. (Clearly, this handicap was added because of its incredible stats.)
Unlike other Pokemon with hindering abilities(see below), most moves that remove or change a Pokemon's ability, such as Worry Seed or Entrainment don't work on Pokemon with Truant. There are still some strategies that can remove Slaking's ability, however, potentially making it Awesome yet Practical, especially since Slaking's so low in the Character Tiers that it can be used in any battle a player likes, including ones where there are very few opponents that can stand up to a Slaking with Truant removed.
Regigigas is another Pokemon that has amazing power, but with an Ability that only hinders it: Its Slow Start ability makes it incredibly slow and lowers its attack power the first five turns of a battle. It does better in Double Battles, though, where an ally Pokemon can use moves like Worry Seed or Entrainment to replace Slow Start with something useful.
Any of the Pokémon that evolve particularly late may count, as depending on which version you're playing, you're unlikely to have them in their final forms by the time you reach the Elite Four (usually the toughest battles in the game). Of particular note are Volcarona and Hydreigon, who aren't obtainable until levels 59 and 64, respectively; most other Pokémon, by comparison, reach their final evolution around level 30 - 40.
Pokémon with perfect I Vs (31) in every stat. Considered the holy grail of breeders and RNG abusers, the potential such Pokémon have are ultimately limited by what species they are and movepools they have. Very few Pokémon have the base stats that can take advantage of every stat (Mew and Arceus) and even they are limited because a Pokémon can only know four moves at a time. The effort value caps at 510 effort points and you can only max out 2 of the stats to the fullest. Its pointless to have a 31 I Vs in attack when your mon is a special attacker (and vice versa) and having a 31 I Vs in speed is detrimental to Pokémon that need to move slower then the opponent. No single Pokémon can really do it all.
In the Telefang series, each Denjuu is capable of learning powerful Denma Attacks, which can do massive damage. However, in the first game, to be able to use them, the user has to charge up a Denma meter, which takes many turns, and by the time that it's fully charged, the attacker would have been better off using regular attacking moves over and over. The attacker could easily faint from all the turns that it wastes, due to it being vulnerable from repeated attacks from any opponent. In addition, Denma attacks in general have a slight chance of missing (or the defending Denjuu can use a move to evade the attack), so using them can be even more of a waste since the Denjuu wasted many turns charging all for nothing. Some bad. Denma Attacks run off the user's and opponent's Denma stats rather than their physical stats, so the only time when it's a good idea to use them is when the attacker has a terrible Attack stat but an excellent Denma Attack stat (this is the case for a lot of mod-evolved Denjuu), and if the defender has an excellent Defense stat but a terrible Denma Defense stat, in which case Denma attacks will out-damage regular attacks.
Denma attacks work completely differently in Telefang 2 — the meter is already charged up and the Denjuu simply has a limited amount of times where it can use these attacks. Items can refill the meter though.
Tactics Ogre, the second game in the Ogre Battle series of Tactical RPGs has four super powerful elemental spells. Well, five, really. One for each of the four elements and the Dark element (Light being the only element left out, for some reason). To gather the four elemental spells, you must jump through an insane amount of truly ludicrous hoops. Here is the short version. Wall of text incoming.
First of all, you must gather the four Shaman Sisters. You meet one of them in the very beginning of the game, and depending on what you say then she may or may not join you later. These spells can only be found at the END of the game, probably thirty hours or more into the game. If you happen to offend her during the first hour: congratulations! You're screwed! If you want these spells, start over from the beginning and try to be nicer this time. Assuming you DO recruit her, you still have to get the three other sisters. One of which you have to kill to win a mission that you have to go through in order to find these spells. The trick is to bring her below 20 health without killing her, which is very hard to do "by accident" since your regular attacks can easily deal 100+ , maybe even 200+ damage by this point, depending on class, weapon and Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors. Instead you have to use the ranged attack "Throw Rock" that every soldier has when not equipped with a real ranged weapon. It always deals between five to ten damage. (In rare cases, it can deal up to fifteen.) If you DO manage to bring her down without killing her, she will flee the battle. After that you have to go to a specific town and fight in a training battle in order to use the spell "Summon Storm" which does Exactly What It Says on the Tin. You make it rain. When you then try to leave the town, you will find her moping in the rain, and you get the chance to convince her to join you. That's two out of four. And gathering them is the FIRST step. Then you have to talk to their father several times during this whole mess, get the elemental shields, find the elemental temples, beat up a lot of different people in a lot of other places... When you finally DO get these spells, they seem really awesome. The fire spell, for instance, is described as a thermonuclear detonation above the battlefield. It deals about as massive damage as you'd expect, but all of these spells deal damage to everyone but the caster. Which means you will lose your own troops just as often (if not more so) as you kill the enemy. In this game it's usually easier to just load the game and redo the battle if you lose an important soldier rather than trying to train a new one from scratch. Not considering the large cast of unique characters who can't be replaced, and who you will also blast to bits if they happen to be in a battle where you use this spell. Oh, and there is a hidden shop that is less bothersome to find (just go to th right town at the right date) and that sells item that do exactly the same thing but without the friendly fire. So why did you actually get these spell again?
Dragon Quest IX has a few, in the form of hidden weapon abilities. Once you've maxed out a weapon skill and finish the accopanied quest, you have access to some powerful, awe-inspiring techniques...that are all flash, with no real substance. One move in particular is Gigagash. It destroys foes, but only on a single group of enemies, cost INSANE amout of MP (more than any class that can reasonably use a sword would have), barely hurts boss enemies, and is generally more useful on Mooks, which aren't worth the MP spent. And that it's just an "upgraded" version of Gigaslash, which does the same for half the MP and reasonable power.
Kingdom Hearts 2's Drive Forms. These are basically 4 superforms for Sora that either enhance his physical attacks, his magic, or both with the other 2, and all but 1 turn Sora into a 2 keyblade wielding badass that can take out dozens of the game's average mooks in seconds. The impractical part? *Deep Breath* All the Drive Forms require the removal of 1 or both party members when activated, depriving the player of their help, when the party members are absent all Drive Forms are unusable, which the majority of swarm battles and boss battles must be done alone, including much of the final battle and the bonus bosses, most tournament battles Drive Forms can't be used, the Drive Forms CAN be leveled up to increase in power, but they all have very specific conditions in order to be able to gain experience, making most of them especially the last very tedious to level up, especially the Final Form, all but 1 lack a dodge ability and none have a block ability, which in a game series that emphasizes blocking and dodging attacks and waiting for the right moment to attack over blind Attack! Attack! Attack! especially in it's bonus boss battles is a bad thing, and last but not least, when transforming into all Drive Forms but the Final Form will randomly transform into an heartlesslike Anti Form if Drive Form is overused, which has fast but weak attacks, takes twice as much damage as normal, has no means of healing itself, can't be leveled, can't gain regular experience while using it, or can't even deliberately be used, and can't be manually deactivated until the battle is over or the Drive gauge runs out, so it will frequently kill you to transform into this thing during a boss battle. The addition of Limit Form in the Updated Re-release mitigates this somewhat, as it gives you a powerful option that doesn't need party members to use.
Transcendence as well. While it can be synthesized by melding a random chance Rare command with an -aga level spell, which is pretty impractical to begin with, in Final Mix Aqua can pull it from a chest in the Secret Chapter. It creates and impenetrable bubble area and shoots all enemies around inside it For Massive Damage. The one battle it would seem to be incredibly useful where the game is constantly spawning Heartless. Since they can become invincible for a short period and escape the initial gravity effect, they can kill you since the spell locks you down until it completes, like most other dual-slot spells/commands.
A few moves are just better for taking out mooks than they are for bosses. Most of them don't hold still long enough for you to use Salvation or Glacier.
Speaking of Salvation (Ven only), it's not useful considering that you still do take damage when you charge for it (meaning that it's possible to be killed) and it can get interrupted... although it's still good for clearing out trash mobs. It's still useful; just not on the enemies you'd like to use it on. (However, it is possible to use it to recover HP on Vanitas Remnant)
Reversal and Teleport. They allow you to get behind the enemy by pressing Square when it's about to attack, but most of the times you'll want to block instead. Many attacks, such as the Bruiser's shockawaves, can be blocked but are not avoided by teleporting behind him, so they're kinda useless.
The Dual Link attacks and styles in Kingdom Hearts 3D. The former generally does significantly less damage then performing two solo link attacks separately, while the latter powers up your keyblade combos even more then a solo link style, but at the expense of making your attack animations so lengthy it's extremely unlikely you'll be able to get off a full combo against any enemy or boss that's Immune to Flinching (Of which there are a lot), and when considering that the bulk of the damage comes from your combo finisher...
Two types of this occur in Fossil Fighters. The first involves mons like T-Rex, which are incredibly powerful, but which also have very damaging support effects-if one's in a support zone, your main fighter is worthless. The second involves two specific mons, Zino and Centro, who ALWAYS score critical hits-but have such appalling accuracy that the rest of the team needs to be focused around altering stats to get them to hit. While powerful, knocking out even one of the supporting mons causes the entire strategy to fall apart.
A fair number of attacks in Vanguard Bandits are this. But most apparent is the Blizzard Break attack, it deals good damage, is fairly accurate and cheap on one cost. But it takes a ton of your Action Points to use, so you generally can't move and use it on the same turn.
Parasite Eve has different rates of fire for every weapon, which determines how many bullets you can fire in a single turn. While firing several bullets at an enemy seems awesome, the damage output is reduced the more bullets the gun can fire. Guns with low rate of fire do more damage per shot. On top of this, Aya stays rooted in place until she fires all of the bullets you had her shoot, which leaves her open to attacks. The "Enter 2 (or 3) Commands" effect, combined with a gun that shoots only one bullet at a time, can let you do higher damage output without any damage restriction.
Parasite Eve's Aya has exactly two attacks in her list of magic abilities, both of which pack a punch. However, the first one, which is described as draining the user's energy, reduces Aya's movement speed from a run to a slow, slow crawl for a considerable amount of time. The second one is capable of obliterating anything that isn't a boss... but completely wipes Aya's Parasite Energy, leaving her unable to do other useful things that require PE, such as heal. With either of these moves, you're screwed if your target survives.
Rogue Galaxy gives us super cool Limit Break combos for each playable character. Based on the buttons you press during the sequence, you'll accumulate more damage. Some of it's VERY flashy too. This works great on enemies and you can restock on your limit pretty quickly too (blue balls for each kill). The downside is that you can't use them on bosses. AT ALL.
Showstopper in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door works in a similar way to Up & Away, but rewards the player with star points so they can still level up. However, strong enemies have a higher resistance to Showstopper and every boss (except the Final Boss, who is immune to it) has an extremely low success rate for the move. Luckily, Showstopper is cheap to use, but you're better off using other abilities.
Supernova is an extremely damaging move that, when used to the fullest, causes 15 points of damage to all enemies, but using the move eats a ton of star power.
Maxwell in Tales of Symphonia — he's the most powerful Summon Magic bar none and casts a higher-power meteor storm that blankets most of the battle, but he can only be cast while Sheena is in Over Limit mode, which happens more or less randomly, and he appears only once you've unlocked the last stage of The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. Odds are you'll never get to summon him at all; never mind summon him in a battle where he'd actually be useful. The worst part? This applies to all summons.
Presea and Lloyd both have flashy, awesome-looking powers that have long lists of absurd requirements that are never even vaguely hinted at in-game. Consider Hien Messhoujin (spelling?). Presea is able to rip off half of the ultimate boss's health, or downright kill the third sword dancer in one use. Problem? Everyone else in her team needs to be dead, she needs to be next to dead herself, she needs to have access to the Mighty Charge EX skill, and have it work, and have used Beast 100+ times. Then, activate Mighty Charge (it'll probably fail), run up to whatever needs to meet death, and use Beast. If you don't die from being below 15% HP.
Kratos's Judgment. He only knows it if he rejoins your party late in the game (which is near impossible if you don't know how to do it), and while it's more powerful than Colette's and has an awesome incantation, Kratos takes significantly longer to cast Judgment than Colette (fifteen seconds!), his version's accuracy is just as piss-poor as hers, and his magic stat is low enough that even though his version is more powerful, he would still deal less damage if they are anywhere near the same level.
This applies to judgment in the whole Tales series, including Colette's. Yeah, it nukes the whole field with insanely powerful rays of light, and CAN be a field-wiper if you're lucky enough. The problem is that at least in most of the games, as mentioned, it takes so long to cast on random battle encounters that the battle's practically done by the time it's cast. On bosses, you're relying on chance to make enough Judgment rays hit the single target to justify its massive cast time and TP cost, which almost never happens.
Beryl Benito's Combination Blaster Extensions in Tales of Hearts are impractical for the same reason the Maxwell extensions in Eternia were - a downright silly CG consumption, and her Relationship Values have to be in the sky to boot. You have to grind Beryl stupid in the first place to have a chance of seeing it.
Fatal Strikes in Tales of Vesperia are an instant kill on all normal enemies, but in the course of normal comboing you're never going to see them. In fact, even if your normal combo is right for building up a Fatal Strike, the target is still probably dead or almost dead when the FS activates.
If you're playing on an elevated difficulty or at a low level, then the Fatal Strike is a good way to finish the battle more quickly. You also more rewards at the end of the battle if you finish with Fatal Strikes. Generally, they become more efficient the further in the game you are.
The second-level mystic artes in Tales of the Abyss are nearly impossible to figure out how to use, but are absolutely brutal.
In The World Ends with You, most of the Gatito pins don't have any workarounds for their problems and are in fact quite Awesome But Impractical. Also, the elemental deck. It looks cool, but it's not exactly a deck to play seriously with. The Anguis pin has the highest attack power of all the pins...but it's extremely slow to level and does not reboot once used.
The Almighty spells in the Shin Megami Tensei games. On the surface it sounds like a dream come true: A type that no demon is resistant to in a game where elemental resistances are your main obstacle to victory. However, the inflated MP cost and lackluster damage compared to your normal elemental spells means that they just aren't worth it. Making things worse, no demon is weak against the Almighty type and by the time you gain access to the Almighty spells you'll already have figured out that it's far more profitable to aim for a demon's weakness to earn more actions.
It gains practicality in Devil Survivor, especially against bosses, in the form of Drain and Holy Dance. Since many late-game bosses are at least strong to every element, if not outright draining or repulsing at least one, the two-to-five hit Holy Dance has a chance to deal tremendous damage by itself without risking an Extra Turn for the enemy. Follow it up with a Drain to restore MP and take some away from the boss, and it's a very practical nuke.
This trope is rather subjective because Almighty varies in effectiveness depending on the game. For example Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey makes them almost required in the endgame setting because the bosses there have shifting weaknesses. Others like Digital Devil Saga REALLY make them reliable with Ragnarok and Lost Word being strong contenders for a reliable attack despite their high cost.
Fourth-tier elemental spells (described as inflicting "severe" damage instead of "heavy") tend to be this. They're not much more powerful than the third-tier "-dyne" spells, and they're inefficient—for instance, the fire-elemental single-target Ragnarok spell in Persona 3 costs 30 SP, which is even more than Maragidyne (third-tier, hits all enemies, and costs 24 SP)...and only does about 30-40% more damage than Agidyne (third-tier, one enemy, 12 SP)!
Even worse are the series of spells in Strange Journey that hit every enemy and inflict some sort of status ailment. They cost a whopping 65 MP to use (vs. the 20-30 MP for Ma-dyne spells), don't always cause the corresponding ailment, and worst of all, the damage ranges from on par with -dyne spells at best (Cold World) to as much as first-tier spells at worst (Charming Bolt).
Speaking of Strange Journey, its take on the repelling "-karn" spells. A spell that repels attacks aimed at you and your demons! Cool! Except the effect only lasts on the current turn so there's no point in a demon casting it if they aren't fast enough to move first. Not to mention, each casting costs 45 MP. You're better off using Attack and Magic Mirrors, especially since using an item grants you maximum turn priority.
Averted in Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE, where, although still rather expensive and with a huge cooldown (Megidoraon costs 80 MP plus 200 Magnetite, and has 6 minutes cooldown, for example), they can be very useful. Also, most mages have at least 25% MP reduction, at least 60% cooldown reduction, and at least +300% MP regeneration. Not to mention there are ways to be able to shoot it four times before the cooldown takes place.
Although in that game building a character around counter/guard/dodge is a very bad move if you plan on doing combat. It's great for crafters who simply need to level and don't want to be The Load when a monster spots them, but the damage from them is dependent at best, and Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors means you may not do all that much if the enemy doesn't comply. Depending on defensive skills is a wonderful way to stay alive, but the damage is very poor so it's better to take only a few levels (that way any cooling guard has a backup, but even then it might be redundant) and spend the rest of the time focusing on more offensive branches.
First, the last special attacks that can be earned for certain characters. They are awesome to watch and rack up the damage, but unless you have the right accessories and/or items, you'll never have enough boosts in your gauge to pull them off.
Second, Erde Kaiser Sigma. Leaving out the fact that the crucial item needed to get this ether skill is only obtained through a near impossible side-boss battle, the ether cost is absurdly restrictive. The Erde Kaiser line is like this in all three games. Insane damage, but insane ether cost too.
An item in Episode III called Seven Moons brings the character back with full HP and EP. Unfortunately it can sometimes crystalize the character you use it on, meaning if you don't have the item that cures crystallization, they're out in three anyway. And to upgrade this to its better form (no crystallization), you have to go through a Guide Dang It sidequest in a limited-time area.
Or, you could spend a lot of money to build up your characters' resistance to the virus that causes them to crystallize.
In Baten Kaitos Origins, you can get a lot of artifacts designed to screw with your enemies; showing their health, decreasing their turnover speed, etc. However, most of them are ridiculously limited, take a whole turn just to use, or both. In general, the deck space is better allotted to simpler cards; equipment magnus, healing or revival artifacts, or specials.
In Summon Night Swordcraft Story, the elemental attack spells, especialy the screen wide spell of your Guardian Beast is this, but mostly in the second game. In the first game, the damage and area combination is really neat and useful during some hard to manage random ecounters, and save it from being completely useless, even the ultimate spells that charges slowly. Against boss since using weapon is simply faster and more efficient, you will want to use the enchancement spells most of the time. However, by the second game, the random ecounters are simply easier to handle, especialy considering the new buffed Drill, making them completely useless.
The second game is really, filled with this. The high end technique that consumes tons of weapon durability, some of them even outright destroyed your weapon. It deals 999 damage easilly. But it wont even One-Hit Kill a boss, and combo moves that hits less multiple time and deals higher damage for far less cost, and Drill Special that is simply absurd and has ridiculously small cost. The Eleventh Hour Superpower version and Standard version of the transformation move counts as well. It increases your stats at the cost of taking away your special move slot into an exclusive special move that simply shots a red wave of power for massive damage. Except, it only hit once. Part of the reason why the Final Boss is harder in its One-Winged Angel mode is because you are forced to use this form against said boss, since despite the battle allows you to use spells and items, you cant use your locked weapon special move since otherwise you can just spam Combo and Drill Special and win in seconds. As for the normal version, you will prefer to use your offensive spells and basic move against random ecounters. Against boss, Basic multiple hit Special moves deals massive damage for low cost. This translates to it being useless except for the revival effect. And this before we count the fact that your weapon durability is degenerated and you cant use spells and items when transformed coupled with the fact that you need to recharge the Daemon gem before using it again.
Many weapons and items in Dark Souls are like this. One of the biggest examples is the Dragon Great Sword, a huge person sized weapon that appears to be made of flesh. Not only that but it has a special attack which causes a huge Razor Wind to tear along the ground, wrecking enemies. Unfortunately the stat requirements for it are insane, and by the time you have the stats to use it, there are other better weapons available because it also doesn't scale with stats.
The Quadruple Giga in Mon Musu Quest 2. Not only does it take four turns without spirits to charge up (that's more than enough to be defeated in, by the way) but you need to do it without getting hit. It's only truly useful in a few, very specific situations.
In Live A Live, Masaru's final skill does high damage against enemies in a large area and has a pretty cool rock-splitting animation. Too bad its charge time is so agonizingly long that you're better off using his skills that activate immediately.
Gungnir gives us War Gods, powerful summons that would be incredibly useful if they discriminated friend from foe, which they don't.
War Gods actually do target only enemies, but only if you meet certain requirements, making them useful for a pre-empitive attack or a desperation attack. Naturally, the game doesn't tell you this, nor do they tell you the requirements each god has.
Gungnir itself arguably qualifies, as it takes up 3/4 of the user's inventory, thus restricting them to little armour or items. While it certainly has some advantages to make up for this, some may argue that it's inferior to a normal weapon. Averted later on, as Giulio becomes strong enough to make up for the spear's weight.
In Breath of Fire III, Garr can obtain a weapon called the Beast Spear. At 150 attack points, it's far and away his strongest weapon (the second strongest weapon, the Dragon Spear, only has 110 Attack Power), and is even obtained about halfway through the game (provided you know where to look, and don't miss it), instead of at the end like most of the other strongest weapons. However, the Beast Spear also weighs a whopping 15 points (making it heavier than any other item in the game and practically ensuring that Garr will have a Speed of 0) and will drain 10% of Garr's max HP every single round. These drawbacks will naturally turn most players away from it (though if you're willing to work with them, Garr can become a damage dealer, thanks to his already high Attack power).
Lost Odyssey's "ultimate" magic spells require the player to visit a side area and defeat a boss to obtain them. The rewards? "Sacrifice Self" kills the caster to revive any dead party members and "Divide" damages the entire enemy party for an amount equal to the caster's current health divided by the number of enemies. Averted with "Leveler", which has an ingame description that makes it sound like a single-target version of Divide, but it's actually based entirely on the caster's Magic Attack stat and is the only spell in the game that can reliably do 5-digit damage. Divide also tends to veer towards Not Completely Useless when it comes to the final Backyard opponent and the DLC Bonus Boss, since they're both basically immune to all other physical and magical attacks.
That's not even touching the cannons that shoot swords instead of arrows.
Betrayal at Krondor has the Mad God's Rage spell. The name, the very concept, and the way it looks are all awesome. However, since your mage won't stop casting it until all his visible enemies are dead, or he falls over dead or near-dead from exhaustion, it's not very practical. For groups of enemies, Firestorm provides better damage to cost ratio. For single, powerful enemies, Fetters of Rime are a cheap way to freeze them and finish them off at leisure. It's not even good as a desperation move, because you can only cast as much of it as you have stamina/health, so if you're near dead to begin with, it won't do much good. Still... damn, that's a cool spell.
Baldur's Gate II gives you the Imprisonment spell, which traps the victim in suspended animation in a hollow sphere deep underground permanently — without a saving throw! Downside: A level 9 spell won't be used on everyday foes, and the player will want the big foes' loot which they take with them to their new plane of existence if imprisoned. It was made useful in the Expansion PackThrone Of Bhaal, as by this point any enemy that drops worthwhile loot is immune to the spell anyway and a spell that reverses the effect becomes more readily available.
There's also Lightning Bolt, which is really cool in theory but actively suicidal in practice due to its unpredictable rebounds when within any enclosed space - i.e. virtually anywhere.
Wild Mages have a spell that allows them to cast literally any spell they know, instantaneously, without having to have it memorized or even being at the level required to cast it; this allows them to be some of the most versatile spellcasters in the game, and potentially the most powerful. The downside is, the spell required to do so is pretty volatile and has only a one-in-a-hundred chance of casting the spell correctly, with a variety of effects if you don't; some are harmless, some are beneficial, but if you get particularly unlucky with the die roll you can end up summoning a pit fiend or turning yourself to stone.
Moreso if you use a mod to play them in the first game; higher-level Wild Mages have methods improve their chances of successfully casting an unmemorized spell or making it more powerful. Low-level ones don't. So while you could try to cast Cloudkill at level one, it would most likely backfire and kill you.
Dungeons & Dragons Online has an impossibly cool two-handed sword named Terror. Every strike has "Nightmares" effect (target must make a will save or take additional damage to psyche), every enemy striking the wielder must make save against Fear, and three time per day it can cast Phantasmal Killer spell (target must make a will save or die). And it's made of CRYSTAL. Unfortunately you have to be level 18 to use Terror, and by that time all your enemies save about 95% of the time — if not immune to fear outright. Being crystal rather than metal, it is good for killing Mooks Ate My Equipment rust monsters.
Neverwinter Nights 2 had you spend a major chunk of the mid game collecting a series of powers designed to kill the Big Bad; it turns out they weren't necessary at launch. Additionally, late in the game you get your hands on an Infinity+1 Sword, that's also often superseded by gear a player already has access to.
Planescape: Torment has level 9 ultimate spells with intensely cool cutscenes, which is rare in a Western RPG. Unfortunately, barring some serious Level Grinding, by the time you're able to use these you only have one enemy left worth using them on, and that's a Skippable Boss.
Very little grinding, in fact. Cloudkill + underSigil = lots of fast exp. However, those high level spells are fairly useless because enemies potentially worth using them on tend to have high magic resistance. Which means the spell typically takes a minute going through its complex, "awesome" animation, and at the end... does nothing. Better just spam some easy to use level 1-5 spells.
The "Fallout 2 Hint Book" at (well, after) the end of Fallout 2 works much the same.
A more conventional example from Fallout 2 was the Pulse Rifle. Had the greatest damage of any single weapon in the game and was billed as end game equipment. The problem? All the enemies you fight had silly levels of resistance to its electrical type damage and due to the way the games burst fire mechanisms work the most basic SMG you could use would do more damage. Many of the higher level weapons suffered from this. Mini Guns did no damage to anyone with armor as damage was subtracted on a per bullet basis. The Vindicator Minigun which did decent damage per shot had punishingly rare ammo. The true king of weapons was the fully-automatic and easily acquired BOZAR Light Support weapon which combined high burst value with a decent and plentiful ammo type.
Well, the silly level of elect resistance came from any form of metal armor (which, to be frank, almost every human enemy towards the end wore), but energy weapons remained exceptionally useful versus monsters - particularly the Deathclaws, Floaters and Centaurs that cropped up towards the end, which tended to be resistant to physical attacks (including bullets.)
The biggest problem with the pulse weapons was that they had a tendency to do critical hits very often, and critting someone with an electrical attack pulverizes them - so you don't have a handy corpse to loot. You'd have to pixel-hunt for the loot at the base of the small ash puddle that was what was left of the enemy, then laboriously pick up every single drop. This would get old very fast.
The Fat Man launcher fires miniature nuclear warheads. Its unique variant, the Experimental MIRV, is a weapon that can fire eight mini-nukes at once. Problems: There's a limited number of mini-nukes (seventy-two in the entire game), and the largest bosses in the game take maybe two hits to kill with a regular Fat Man. And firing this weapon will very likely blow up the wielder along with the target. Overkill much? Fire it once for the "cool value," then sell it or stick it in a locker and never use it again.
Big weapons in general in Fallout 3 are difficult to put to practical use.
The Minigun is useless in VATS, goes through ammo like a sieve, is too bulky to carry as a backup, and worst of all doesn't do the damage you'd think it should (it cannot score critical hits, ever!). It also has a long windup sequence to get the barrel spinning while your target is blasting you to hell. Since it is only really useful at close range, it is outclassed by the flamer which has equally high damage potential and fires instantly when you pull the trigger.
The Missile Launcher has a clip size of one and takes too long to reload between shots to use as a primary weapon, and doesn't do enough damage per shot against high hitpoint targets to warrant carrying as a backup. It is also useless in VATS at long range as it will often miss.
The only Big Gun that seems practical enough for regular use is the Vengeance Gatling laser. However, spare Gatling Lasers are hard to find, it deteriorates extremely quickly, rarely ever scores critical hits, and it can still go through ammo quickly if you aren't careful. Also, the only place where it's obtainable is a sanctuary filled to the brim with Deathclaws.
Many small guns and energy weapons also have this problem:
The Scoped .44 Magnum breaks down too quickly and its ammo is relatively rare, and the gun itself is difficult to find and is almost always in poor condition when found or purchased. This means you need to find several so you can repair them into a single pristine gun which starts deteriorating rapidly with every shot anyway.
The Alien Blaster will vaporize any standard enemy with one shot, due to its 100% critical hit chance and high base damage. But it breaks down very quickly (and can only be repaired by certain npcs for cash) and has such a limited ammo supply that it's almost not worth using. Its best value is for headshots at Elite Mooks in VATS where more conventional weaponry won't take them down fast enough.
Melee weapons in general are almost always useless for anything but sneak attacks. Why? Because most enemies will be shooting at you from a distance, and the ones that don't (like Deathclaws) will have melee attacks that will kill you in one or two hits and therefore should be dealt with at range anyway.
Take the Shish-Kebab, a craftable Flaming Sword made out of a lawnmower blade, pilot light and a motorcycle handbrake and gas tank. Flashy, awesome, and devastating... except against 95% of your targets who will be shooting at you from a safe distance. Its best use is for sneaking up on people or blundering around a corner into them in a deep dark badly lit basement or service tunnel. And if you walk through a gas leak in one of those tunnels, prepare to be hoisted by your own petard. However, it's fairly easy to tweak your stats in such a way to make melee (and the Shish-Kebab in particular) ungodly powerful.
The expansion DLC also adds a perk possible only at level 30 which results in a nuclear explosion around you when you hit 20 HP. While this sounds very awesome, it's not at all useful because while you aren't harmed by it, any nearby allies may be, and the nuclear explosions are actually rather small and it likely won't affect any enemy shooting at you. Therefore it only can really have an effect against enemies like Deathclaws, which cut through your HP so fast you'll likely be dead before you hit 20HP and it goes off.
In speaking of perks, any low level perk that directly increases your skills count as this: Daddy's Boy/Girl, Gun Nut, Thief, Little Leaguer, Scoundrel, etc.. Sure, taking them influences your skills automatically, but they have a few problems. Mainly, they can only increase each skill by 5 per rank (3 ranks total). Not bad, but you can easily find clothing that can do the same or more as long as you wear them... or read the skill-increasing books that are scattered around the Capital Wasteland (that are surprisingly common), which are improved by the Comprehension perk, which you only have to take once... or take drugs that improve your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats, thereby improve your skills (granted temporarily, but useful in a bind)... or bother to find the (weightless) Bobbleheads that directly (and permanently) increase your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats by one or your skills by 10 just for picking up... or taking the Intense Training perk one in a while to change your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats and thereby your skills, etc., etc.. It seems that these perks are only there to trick new players into getting rather useless perks rather than the surprisingly versatile perks.
There's also the Rock-It Launcher, an improvised device that uses the Vendor Trash you pick up as ammo. Generally useless junk like bent tin cans and coffee mugs become lethal weapons with it. It's quite a bit of fun to watch a super mutant killed by a teddy bear. But in terms of utility, it's not all that strong as the ammo still has weight and weighs you down, and thus it can't even be as useful as a simple assault or hunting rifle with weightless ammo. But fun to play with just for the novelty. Barring specific mods, the Rock-It makes a very loud vacuum cleaner sound all the while you have it out. According to my math it will drive you stark raving bonkers in 16.14 seconds.
Consider the ARCHIMEDES II Kill Sat: When you fire it, it brings down a rain of punishment. Problems? Finding the tracking device you fire it with is a Guide Dang It, you only get to fire it once every 24 hours, it takes almost ten seconds to reach full charge, the tracking device inexplicably weighs 15 pounds, and you can hit yourself with it if you're not careful. It's even lampshaded in Veronica's personal quest, where she learns that the Brotherhood of Steel sacrificed half their numbers for what she calls "glorified artillery."
There's also the Tesla Cannon, and its unique variant, the Tesla-Beaton Prototype. They hit every bit as hard as they did in Broken Steel. However, they consume ammo at a phenomenal rate, are very difficult to find, degrade quickly, are expensive to repair, have obscene level requirements for maximum usage and weigh a ton.
Though, like the anti material riffle below, all these drawbacks can be neutralized by a specialized player. The Weapons Handling and Pack Rat perks will cut the weight of the weapon and its ammo in half, while the vigilant recycler perk will allow you to better use your empty cells. You can get the Electron Charge packs it needs by completing the quest "Still in the Dark," and "Eyesight for the Blind" for the Brotherhood of Steel, who will also give you a Tesla Cannon. If thats not enough, you can make Electron Charge packs from energy cells and micro fusion cells at any crafting bench. Players with a high enough repair skill can easily keep the weapon repaired with weapon repair kits. Lastly, the DLCs give you huge sources of weapons repair kits, Lonesome road even lets ED-E repair your weapon for free once a day.
The Anti-Materiel Rifle. Pros: It's got incredible range, great accuracy and can punch through armor like a knife through a wet napkin. Cons: it weighs 20 pounds (making it the heaviest shoulder-fired weapon in-game); it degrades quickly; it requires 100 skill points in Guns to use effectively; its ammo is rare, expensive, and heavy if you're playing on Hardcore Mode; it's very loud and will alert any nearby enemies you're not shooting at; and it has so much recoil that it physically throws the player character backwards if shot from the hip (only a little bit at a time though—you'd have to empty a few magazines to really notice the distance traveled).
On the other hand, if you put some work into it the Anti-Materiel Rifle is fantastic. By the end of the game you're rolling in money anyways, the Heavyweight perk note cuts the weight of weapons over 10 pounds by 50% makes it less cumbersome, and it makes Deathclaws incredibly easy to kill. With the Gun Runner's Arsenal add-on now available, you can correct most of its flaws with the mods: a suppressor for the noise, carbon fiber parts for weight, and a custom action for firing speed. With Steadynote deceases gun wavering and increases accuracy in V.A.T.S. to 95% at any distance, Action Girlnote or Action Boy - either one increases Action Points by 15 (two ranks) , Grim Reapers' Sprint note adds 20 APs after every kill in V.A.T.S, Math Wrath note decreases [APs=] use by 10%, and Weapon Handling note decreaes the Strength requirement of any weapon by 2 you can obliterate anything that dumb enough to come near you.
Both it and the sniper rifle never get entirely rid of the aiming bob either (even at 100 guns with enough STR), which always introduces *some* element of uncertainty to your sniping. The scoped Varmint Rifle, meanwhile, loses its drift fairly early, making Ratslayer a safer bet for sneak-critting low-armour foes in the head for most of the game.
It's hard not to get caught in the blast from the "Big Kid" ammo for the GRA Fat Man.
The Meltdown perk causes a plasma explosion whenever you kill an enemy with an energy weapon, which inflicts damage proportional to the killing weapon's damage. Since the players and their companions aren't immune to Meltdown's explosion, the perk turns using energy weapons at close range into suicidenote Meltdown also inexplicably affects the thermic lance, a high-damage DT-ignoring melee weapon, turning one of the best melee options in the game into certain death and will quickly kill your melee companions. Meltdown is actually fairly useful to a player who uses energy weapons only for long range, but a player who isn't focused on energy weapons will have a hard time meeting the skill requirement of 90.
Remnants Power Armor has the highest Damage Threshold of all armors, but degrades the fastest, is very expensive to repair, has lower Rad Resistance than the T-51b, gives a Charisma penalty due to its Rage Helm, and there's only two of its kind in the game (three if you include the lighter Gannon Tesla Armor), one of which is earned from Arcade Gannon's companion quest, the other of which is found in a hard-to-reach Deathclaw-infested location.
The Stealth Suit Mark II from Old World Blues. Sure, it gives you +25 Sneak, +1 Perception, +1 Agility, and +20% to Stealth movement speed when fully upgraded, and automatically injects Stimpaks and Med-X, but tends to waste the former drug and get you addicted on the latter, and is for some reason classified as a Medium armor, therefore carrying a 10% running speed penalty, despite having a lower DT than the higher-level Light armors.
Mercy, the unique grenade machinegun, uses 40mm grenades instead of the usual 25mm, which means it packs more punch, but its ammo is significantly heavier in Hardcore mode, as well as being rarer and more expensive. Better traded for the 25mm Grenade APW from Gun Runner's Arsenal.
High explosive rounds. They become available late-game, and utterly annihilate everything they're fired at, but the overheat goes through the roof with them. Even with the best heat-decreasing mods, you'll only be able to get off one shot at a time.
On the other hand, accepting this and taking advantage of it can be incredibly useful. Infiltrators can get by using shotguns and pistols normally, and pour damage-boosting mods and high explosive rounds into the highest-damage sniper rifle available, basically turning it into a miniature artillery piece. Sure, you'll only get one shot with it, but you're only going to need one shot.
The M-920 Cain aka "Nuke Gun" from Mass Effect 2. The final heavy weapon to research, it is for all intents and purposes a nuke cannon, and it works as advertised - anything within a very wide area of the target dies in a very pretty mushroom cloud. However, it eats most of your heavy weapon ammo with one shot, requires four seconds of charging before it fires (not a good idea when under fire in one of the situations you would want to use something this powerful), and has such a large blast radius that there are very few opportunities in the game where you can fire the Cain and not hit your own party. Most of the time, the Avalanche cannon or Collector Particle Beam are much more practical.
The Cain is useful, no doubt about it. What makes it impractical is that it can be used for, at most, a half-dozen fights throughout a twenty five hour game. Using it on anything weaker than a Praetorian is pointless overkill, and if you miss, you won't get another shot. Except on the final boss. In the Final Battle, the Cain suddenly becomes simply awesome, as Harbinger drops heavy weapons ammo when killed, presumably so as to compensate for the Cain's impracticality in this case. You'll have to waste him a couple of times to get enough ammo to fire the damn thing again, but in case you brought the Cain instead of one of the less insane weapons, you'll still be able to complete the fight.
Also, the Blackstorm Energy Projector, which is a heavy weapon that one gets by pre-ordering the game, is a gun that fires black holes, but it's not as useful as you might think seeing as it needs to charge up just like the Cain, meaning the enemies may have moved or strafed away by the time the black hole detonates, and unlike the Cain, when it hits, it doesn't necessarily kill everything in the immediate radius. However, it still has a few uses, and is one of the easiest ways to deal with the rapidly arriving Collector platforms in the Collector Ship mission.
And the Geth Plasma Shotgun makes every heavy weapon Awesome But Impractical. Its charged attack does more damage than every heavy weapon except the Cain - and it uses conventional thermal clips. You'll never use heavy weapon ammo again!
Mass Effect 3 adds an Awesome, but Impractical tactic: Hijacking Atlas units. Sure, the idea of stealing a mech from the enemy is amazing, but the crystal canopy protecting the pilot is so tough, by the time you shatter it, the thing will be about five shots away from being destroyed - and that's assuming your squadmates don't destroy it before you can draw a bead on it. Even if you can jack it, chances are there's only going to be about two or three mooks left to use it on, at best. To add insult to injury, the best way to set up an Atlas for hijacking in order to get the achievement for doing so is to use a free Atlas you're given in one of two missions.
The Javelin sniper rifle: one of the strongest guns in the game in terms of sheer damage, able to pierce cover, and the ability to see enemies through smoke and cover is built in. However, it's so ridiculously heavy that you take a penalty to power recharge even if it's the only gun you're carrying, and unlike the other available rifles, has a brief but noticeable charge-up period before each shot. While the right mods will make it Difficult but Awesome in single-player, it's hardly ever used in multiplayer.
The Javelin sees it's fair use in MP with the Geth Infiltrator. The rifle is ridiculously heavy, has a very low spare ammo count and behaves awkwardly (there is a slight fire delay when pressing the button), but in the hands of a skilled Infiltrator those points become moot. Their main cooldown (the cloak) isn't affected all that much by the weight of the loadout but more by the time you spend in it. The low spare ammo can be counteracted by using consumables, upgrading the gun, adding a spare ammo modification and visiting supply points often. The fire delay takes getting used to but can even be beneficial on fast moving targets. On the plus side - there is no weapon that is better at piercing cover, it packs the biggest punch of any weapon in the game, it has a build-in thermal vision and Geth even get a damage bonus because it counts as a Geth weapon.
In ME2, you learn that a species that was wiped out by the Reapers 37 million years ago had some kind of weapon that one-shotted a Reaper Capital ship and ripped a deep trench in a planet. Unfortunately, that species only got off that one shot and there were more lots more Reapers.
NetHack has the "huge chunk of meat," obtained by casting stone to flesh on a boulder. It's food. It will never spoilnote Spoilage is a common problem with the corpses of your enemies, your main source of food. It can cause, among other things, delayed instadeath. It has a nutritional value of 2,000, the highest in the game; eating one will definitely cure hunger, weak, or fainting status. However, unless you're in the latter condition, eating a huge chunk of meat is guaranteed to put you in "oversatiated" status, in which your movements will be stifled and eating anything will cause you to choke to death. And you can't really carry it around either; it's extremely heavy. Good for feeding to your pet dragon, though.
The RoguelikeAncient Domains of Mystery has a learnable spell called Wish (or, for divine casters, Divine Intervention) which does Exactly What It Says on the Tin: you get a wish. Unfortunately, the spell is extremely difficult to learn even for high level wizards, attempts take so long that you will usually be forced to abort by hunger or risk starving to death, and if you have teleportitis it will interrupt your reading. Even if you do manage to learn it, it costs 3000 PP to cast (enough to put it out of range for many characters even with casting from hit points; one of this game's Self Imposed Challenges is to craft a character who can) and takes 10 points off of one of your stats. It's much easier to simply use Potions of Exchange to polymorph a large pile of worthless rings until you get Rings of Djinni Summoning, which can give you a wish, and then use those to get more Potions of Exchange until you have infinite wishes.
The Moloch Armor has an obscenely high PV (damage reduction) value of +50. The problem is that it weighs so much you won't be able to even pick it up unless you have Strength of Atlas active, and it comes with huge DV (dodge chance), to-hit, to-damage, Dex, and speed penalties.
Diablo has a LOT of spells that are cool but useless. Town Portal can be learned as a spell, but you're very likely to find a scroll anyway. Couple that with the fact you have to learn it multiple times to reduce the mana cost to reasonable levels (especially for the Warrior) and, well... Likewise, Healing is a lot less useful than just slugging back a potion, and the unique ability each class has will see use only on the far side of never. Telekinesis has no redeeming qualities whatsoever (you can just walk up to the items, and being able to push a foe back a square is more than inadequate for the amount of mana it costs).
Don't underestimate Telekinesis. It is useful if you're playing under multiplayer rules (death = all items drop to the floor) and you have to extract your precious items from under the noses of the monsters that killed you with those items on and will most likely kill you again without them, over and over until they swarm the only entrance to the level.
In Diablo II the druid's Armageddon spell causes a rain of meteors to follow you, but the meteors hit randomly and do very little damage compared to the sorceress ones. The entire martial arts tree of the assassin is spectacular to watch but does next to no damage.
The higher level martial arts spells look downright awesome (And CAN be devastating with synergy bonuses from SEVERAL other skills), particularly Phoenix Strike. But, Phoenix strike does mostly elemental damage- which most enemies have ludicrous defence against in Hell difficulty!
Diablo II suffered this with many, many skills for every class:
The Barbaran can pull the Bad Ass trick of dual-wielding throwing weapons. This has only been successfully utilized by a select few individuals for Player vs Monster or PvP due to how limited one's choices for dealing consistent damage with them are.
The Sorceress' awesome-looking Lightning Storm is Exactly What It Says on the Tin but even maximum-twinked damage from it is relatively pitiful compared to more boring utility lightning skills. The multi-headed Hydra spell is a fireball-shooting stationary turret that does little damage at maximum and most monsters are immune to fire anyway. She can also activate a skill that leaves fire in her wake wherever she walks that when used, even if you again take max-twinked damage into account, is effectively cosmetic.
Then again the majority of skills in the game are not viable for Hell difficulty and each class has only 1-2 usable builds max (out of 30 skills). Class balance just wasn't particularly important in '99.
Might and Magic 7 has the relic poleaxe named Splitter. Its gimmick is explosions. Every blow from the axe makes a thundering Michael Bay-class fireball centered where the blade strikes something, with perfectly obvious effects on the party. Sure, the axe grants + 50 fire resistance to the wielder, but having to tape the pieces of the party sorcerer back together every time you hit something it battle isn't worth the fireworks. Besides, by the time you start tripping over relics you should be swimming in great gear anyway, so it's not worth it even if you can muster up the resistances.
That's actually intended. In every single one of the newer M&M-games (except maybe 9, didn't play it) relics do have drawbacks. Artifacts are the ones that are Awesome But Practical, relics do nearly always hinder you in a certain way. To be able to fully utilize them, you have to take precautions.
Baldur's Gate II has a similar item, the Club of Detonation. Anytime it hits, it has a random chance of triggering a Fireball spell centered on the wielder. On the one hand, it's relatively easy to make the wielder immune to fire (you just have to kill a red dragon. No big deal, right ?). On the other hand, it's much more difficult to make your entire party immune to fire.
Certain games from Ultima have the Armageddon spell ("Imbalance" in Ultima VII Part II — Serpent Isle). The spell kills all enemies on screen as well as all enemies not on screen. It also kills your entire party, all bystanders - and everyone and everything in the world except for you and Lord British (and Batlin in Ultima VII)! Naturally, the game becomes Unwinnable at this point, so there is absolutely no reason to use this other than to see Lord British's reaction (and to find out why Batlin sided with the Guardian).
Ultima IV had the Skull of Mondain, an item that would kill all non-party members in the immediate area at the price of wrecking the players Karma Meter.
In the same vein as the above, Sierra's Quest for Glory series has the Thermonuclear Blast spell, which, when cast, essentially causes a nuclear explosion that destroys everything in a mile's radius — centered on, and including, the caster. The spell first turned up as a fake spell listed in the manual of one of the early games, as if the spell existed in the game (it didn't). The final game in the series revisits the joke by actually making the spell available to the player, though casting it is highly unwise
In Ultima IX: Ascension, the fourth level two-handed sword technique is an elaborate figure-8 slash that your trainer Duncan describes as this amazing technique that he could never master. To learn it, you have to sail (or make a bridge of objects) to a deep ocean dock off the coast of Yew, then risk drowning as you dive to an underwater crypt containing the book with the technique. Unfortunately the move does a piddling amount of damage, is very hard to aim, hits only at the very end of the swing, and takes so much time to use that you could have done a lot more damage just by using regular attacks.
Many of the Gnomish Engineering devices in World of Warcraft fall under this trope, especially the cloaking device and the mind-control cap, which seem really cool in theory but have such a short duration that they are essentially worthless.
Any mechanical item in the tabletop RPG, as well. All of them come with such high difficulty to use and such a long list of drawbacks that you're better off pretending they aren't there.
The Warlock class can, in addition to their permanent demonic minions, summon two very powerful demons: the Infernal and the Doomguard. The Infernal is a demonic rock monster that deals heavy damage and has a fire aura that burns anything nearby, but it only lasts for 2 minutes before despawning and replaces your normal minion. The Doomguard (a standard western devil) is even worse, requiring a 5 person summoning ritual, one of whom will take a large amount of damage. It used to be truly appalling - one random member would die from the ritual, and the doomguard had to be immediately enslaved or it would attack the party. And if the warlock was the one who died, then congratulations on unleashing a powerful demon to attack the party.
Also, Both come from complicated quests, use up reagents and used to turn on you regularly.
The Doomguard has actually been made...useful. It now lasts 15 minutes with a 30 minute cooldown, the damage the ritual causes can be easily healed, and it doesn't turn on you when the spell expires. They're extraordinarily durable, hit extremely hard for a pet, and have some useful debuffs. Then they changed it again, now it's on a 10 minute cooldown and lasts for about a minute however it acts as a guardian, attacking whatever you attack and is uncontrollable.
The Shapeshifter specialization available to Mages in Dragon Age: Origins, which allows a Mage to transform into a spider, bear, or insect swarm, sounds pretty awesome. It's not, for a couple reasons. The Mage can't cast other spells while shapeshifted. Worse, the damage done by the shapeshifted form is dependent on the Mage's Strength, which will naturally be abysmally low if you focus on Willpower and Magic instead, thanks to a glitch. Flemeth OTOH makes Shapeshifting Awesome yet Practical when she turns into a High Dragon for her Bonus Boss fight.
Any spell with an area of effect and friendly fire will be this on higher difficulties, since there are no situations where you can depend on your companions' AI to neither wander into the blast radius nor hit you with it if you're standing too close to an enemy (or both). Even on lower difficulties (in which friendly fire is deactivated), you still can't trust an AI-controlled character to use Fireball or Cone of Cold. They won't kill you themselves, sure, but the game doesn't consider being frozen in place or knocked prone by an explosion to be "friendly fire," so those things can still easily happen to you. (This is one of the things the sequel fixed about combat.)
These spells are made even less practical because the non-friendly fire AoE spells are more powerful anyways, making the more impressive looking elemental AoEs extremely wasteful in terms of the time and mana used to actually use them.
Storm of the Century, the king of Awesome, but Impractical. It does tremendous damage over a large area: any non-boss caught in it will die very quickly, and even bosses will get pretty beaten up. The impractical part? It's a combination spell, meaning you have to cast two high level elemental spells on top of one another, each of which has a long enough casting time on its own to qualify as Awesome, but Impractical. Oh yeah, and the caster(s) have to be under the effects of a certain long term self-buff, which is pretty useful in itself, but requires an additional skill point investment, and makes the storm even more expensive overall. And that bit above about friendly fire? Yeah, better hope you know how to wrangle your ally AI well enough to keep them out of the area, or they'll die just as quickly as your enemies.
Fable features the Divine Fury/Infernal Wrath spells, which cause amazing amounts of damage, only problem is that they cost incredibly high amounts of EXP to level up, and require your character to stand in place charging the spell for 10 seconds to do anything, and then, only things in the immediate vicinity will get hit.
Made even worse by the fact that if you're hit during the charge up period (unless you have physical shield), the spells fizzle out.
In STALKER, pretty much any explosive weapon besides hand grenades. In the first two games, rifle-launched grenades are hard to come by and typically limited in use without farming them from a specific faction, often have a pretty pathetic blast radius, and the launchers themselves are also often hard to find unless you know specifically where to find them. The RG-6 Bulldog revolver grenade launcher is definitely this - it's damn heavy, you can't sprint with it out, it takes forever to reload, but you can launch six grenades at something within a matter of seconds, so if you decide to raid the Freedom base on your way north you can get one and a load of grenades for it, and it's hilariously effective inside the CNPP where the grenades are incredibly dangerous to Monolith troops, and once you run out you can just drop it. The RPG is even more into this trope, as one rocket from it can kill virtually anything you come across, but in the first game you're only guaranteed to find one or two rockets in the entire game, and it's even heavier than the RG-6. In the third game, they edge more towards Difficult but Awesome, as some traders will stock the weapons and grenades after a certain point, and you can upgrade your carrying capacity more easily.
Strangely enough, pistols become this later after midway through the game. After a certain point the common pistol caliber switches from 9x18 to .45 caliber, which is heavy and just doesn't do that much damage. By the time it does, you'll probably be carrying an assault rifle for day-to-day work, a sniper rifle if you're lucky, and a shotgun for varmint cleanup, and a pistol is just extra weight that you probably won't use, despite all the cool .45 caliber pistols around. On the other hand, you can find a Hand Cannon chambered for 9x39 mm sniper rounds. Both the pistol and the ammo are absurdly heavy. Not that it stops most people.
Two-handed weapons in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim tend to suffer from this, battleaxes and warhammers moreso than greatswords. Since they're so heavy they're remarkably slow and pull you forward with every swing, leaving you susceptible to attack (this is also when the AI uses them), and since they occupy both of your hands you're better off using a faster one-handed weapon in one hand and cast spells with your other.
Turn-Based Strategy Games
The Seaplane in Advance Wars: Days of Ruin is arguably one of the most versatile and powerful unit, being an airplane with high firepower that can attack any other kind of unit. The catches? They cost $15000 to build, require a Carrier ($28000 more for a ship that can only shoot subs and air units and build 4 of them maximum), take two turns to be built and deployed before they can be used to attack, and start with only 40 units of fuel (opposed to every other air unit having 99). The constant consumption of fuel can bring it down crashing in few turns. They only have 3 ammo - even less than a War Tank - and no secondary weapon...
Seaplanes are a bit more practical if your CO is Admiral Greyfield, since his CO Power replenishes supplies, ammo, and materials of all units, allowing a single carrier to build as many seaplanes as you like, provided you can inflict enough damage to activate the power! Unfortunately you cannot use Greyfield during the campaign, only in skirmishes and multiplayer...
Also, if you send 2 seaplanes out to attack while keeping the other 2 docked at the carrier, and swap them out when they get too damaged or low on fuel/ammo, you can maintain a strong offensive!
In Civilization II, III and IV you can eventually build nuclear weapons. These seem very cool and look cool when used. But, they are expensive, take a long time to build, and cannot be built until very late in most games. Furthermore, each weapon can only be used once and despite being fairly powerful, in Civ 4 they still follow the standard rule that no enemy can be knocked down below a certain health threshold by air power. As a result, building a fleet of reusable aircraft is usually a better strategic use of your resources. In addition, Civilization II through Civilization IV have the SDI, which shoots down nukes at a great frequency. Any decent player or AI will render your nukes pretty useless with this.
Every use of a nuclear weapon (successful or not) causes a negative impact to diplomatic relations with every other civilization and a double penalty for successfully hit civilizations (the relation penalty being listed as "YOU NUKED US!"). This can very quickly lead you to a war against the rest of the planet.
Each nuclear explosion is a serious hit on the global warming scale, and light use of nukes could easily cause the world to deteriorate into mostly swamp and desert areas within a short amount of time.
In IV, you can build "The Internet" wonder of the world, which grants you any tech that 2 other civs know for free. The problem is: it comes all the way at the end of the game, and if you were early enough to build it, you usually know everything the other civs know and more. However, there is a strategy to beeline to Computers, not trading any technologies yourself and hopefully having saved tens of thousands of research points that way.
Unlike a typical Civ nuke, which reduces the city's population, kills units, and creates pollution, Planet Busters erase the targeted base from the map and creates a large crater (which can even fill with water). Better yet, since you can upgrade Planet Busters with more powerful reactors, this vastly increases their destructive range. AI tends to cluster bases together, so a single Planet Buster powered by a quantum singularity can takes out a good number of enemy bases at once. You can also equip the rockets with different warheads, including fungus and tectonic. The first one generates a large bloom of xenofungus and the appropriate native lifeforms. The second one raises a volcano. Both are fairly mild and merely annoy the enemy, also putting them in this category.
It's worth noting what Civ Rev came up with on the nuke front. For those unfortunate that played the game you'll find out that once you've gone through the majority of the game and finally have nukes you can only use the nuke once. ONCE. You're out of luck if the other player launches a nuke or you choose a bad target.
The Giant Death Robot in Civilization V. An end-game unit that deals a lot of damage but doesn't get any defensive bonuses. The problem? It uses up 2 units of uranium, meaning you could have build 2 nuclear weapons instead of one GDR. Nerfed in the Brave New World DLC and made a part of the "tank" upgrade tree, effectively turning it into a Walking Tank. It also requires only 1 unit of uranium now, so, with decent supplies, you should be able to upgrade many of your Modern Armor units into them. However, the DLC also introduces the Canon ImmigrantXCOM Squad, an upgrade of the Paratrooper, with a bonus against robotic targets. Unlike the GDR, the XCOM Squad doesn't tie up any resources.
Generally speaking you can often tell a Prince-level from a Deity-level Civilization V player by how much value they place on building early-game Wonders. Unless you get very lucky with your city/ruin placement you will waste at least forty turns assembling a single Wonder; time almost always better spent bolstering your defences, training Settlers and constructing your key buildings. This is not a hard and fast rule obviously and Wonders like Stonehenge work very well with a Piety opener; but on the whole you are much better off on higher difficulties just ignoring the entire lot.
The triangle attack in Fire Emblem gives you a guaranteed Critical Hit, which is nothing to be scoffed at. However, it requires that you raise three characters of the same class (Strike 1: you want variety) and position them in the same part of the map (Strike 2: If you do have multiple people that do the same thing, you want them spread out).
However, it can make for an effective boss-killing tactic...
Sacred Stoneszig-zags this for the triangle attack. The core requirement of the triangle attack is still there (you MUST have the "pegasus" sisters formed in a triangle), but all three do not have to be Falcoknights. You can have one be a Draco Knight (Tana and Vanessa can become this) and still have it work. Combined with Draco Knight's Pierce ability (30% chance to negate your opponent's defense stat) plus the getting the critical does make this to be one of the most powerful offensive attacks. However, it is still impractical to try to do the triangle attack unless you are aiming to do quick work of bosses (ESPECIALLY Generals).
Fire Emblem Tellius removes a lot of the triangle attack's impracticality for at least one of the trios that can use it. All three are in very different classes and are only required to use the same weapon type (a bow). It's still a bit impractical to change the weapons on two of them and get all three in position, but it's much more usable than in its other appearances.
Sacred Stones turned the Luna dark magic tome into this. Granted, it was a Game Breaker in Blazing Blade, but they nerfed it too much, decreasing the accuracy to just 50% while also decreasing the critical hit ratio from 20% to 10%.
The ultimate Dark Magic tomes suffer from this. They are usually the most powerful weapon in the game (Apocalypse in FE6, Gespenst and Ereshkigal in FE7, Gleipnir and Naglfar in FE8). They also have among the highest weights of any weapon in the game. Apocalypse drops the caster's Speed stat by at least seven points, and Gleipnir and Gespenst result in you losing twelve Speed. Not good.
High level tomes in general tend to suffer from this.
Sacred Stones, again, for the S-level Ivaldi, but for a weird reason. This becomes even more important when deciding to equip your Bishop with either. The light tomes will have doubled might stat when used against a monster, but in the hands of a Bishop, the Slayer ability will triple the might stat. A-level Aura has 12 might whereas S-level Ivaldi has 17. Under normal circumstances, a Bishop will triple its might when equipped with this. However, the S-Level Ivaldi does not benefit from Slayer. Despite being a Sacred Weapon, its might is doubled instead of tripled (Sacred Weapons will have double might by default against monsters). So, under a Bishop, the base might of Aura is 36, while the base might of Ivaldi is 24. Also, Ivaldi is also the heaviest tome. Now try to fight a whole floor of draco zombies. Guess which one you'd prefer to use?
Generally speaking, heavy weapons in general tend to be Awesome, but Impractical. If your unit is fast enough, he/she can double attack. Heavy weapons slow him/her down, and while they tend to add some extra damage, they also can stop units from doubling, dealing less damage overall and making it harder to dodge attacks.
Except in the Tellius games, where your Strength stat has the added benefit of offsetting the speed loss from weight. Which practically means weight in those games is a non-issue, as even medeocre physical fighters tend to have enough Strength to avoid being weighed down by anything. Magic users, however, aren't so lucky...
In Fire Emblem Awakening, both Lissa and Maribelle can be promoted to War Clerics, who are basically NUNS WITH AXES. Sadly, both of them have awful strength growths and stats, so they won't be swinging those axes all that hard. Plus, Maribelle will have her movement crippled since War Clerics don't ride horses. Bolt Axes however nullify that problem since they deal magical damage instead of physical; both Lissa and Maribelle have high magic stats when capped in that class and Bolt Axes are the second strongest axes in raw power that you can buy (from L'Arachel or obtain from a treasure chest in Infinite Regalia). On that note, Bolt Axes are very much useless unless you are a War Cleric/Monk or a Dread Fighter, the only classes that can use that weapon properly.
Galactic Civilizations has the Terror Stars, clear Expys of the Death Star, which can be used to obliterate the enemy star system. Drawbacks? Let's see, it takes an extremely-high level of technology, as each stage of construction needs a prerequisite tech. It takes a long time to build and uses many resources (on top of building constructors). Then, once you have it, it can only move one "square" per turn, making it useless unless you build it right on top of the enemy. In the first game, at least, any station could be turned into a Terror Star, meaning they had other purposes, so the Terror Star could also support fleets or spread influence. In the sequel, it's a different type of station. Also, habitable worlds can be quite rare depending on galaxy settings, so it may not be beneficial to destroy the enemy star instead of simply taking the planets.
A few of the highest-level cards in Lost Kingdoms 2 were like this. It was rare that you ever actually had 8 levels in any element which would mean that the various high-level cards would cause you to Cast from Hit Points, and by the time you got them a lot of them were simply ineffective. Great Turtle is an incredibly durable independant monster with a volcano on its back - who tended to miss almost constantly, and Ice Skeleton had similar problems as it was really slow. The Emperor, who can only be gotten from the final dungeon either by capture or a 1 in 6 chance, can either randomly kill all monsters of one elemental type (and the hardest opponents are typically Neutral, which is unaffected), or act as a glorified Capture Card. Yes, you could get most monsters easily this way, but enjoy having to go back through an hour-long Bonus Dungeon to get another one.
The Rainbow Array Synergy from Luminous Arc. Hitting the damage cap (999) and pretty cool looking...at the cost of deploying all seven Witches (in a game where eight characters is the maxmimum Arbitrary Headcount Limit) with max Flash Points to pull it off. It's simply more practical to use multiple, two-person Synergies. The player have to go out of their way to set it up to use Rainbow Array.
The Stellar Converter in Master of Orion II is normally a very powerful, very useful weapon, particularly for planetary defense. However, it's function to obliterate an enemy planet instead of bombing it, conquering it, or (if you're telepathic) mind-controling the population. This normally serves no purpose whatsoever, as the goal of the game is to expand (it's one of the Xs in 4X). Having no planet means you can't expand, save for a tiny outpost that doesn't help you much.
The only potentially good reason to do it is to obliterate a toxic planet (which, for some reason, can't be terraformed), as long as there is a colonizable planet in the system. That way, you can colonize that planet and rebuild the asteroid field into a usable barren world, which can be eventually terraformed into a terran, or even a gaia world.
Small and tiny worlds can be upgraded too, since all asteroid belts terraform into medium sized worlds. Only for the obsessive compulsive, though.
More and less useless in Master of Orion III. It still wipes out a perfectly good, conquerable colony, but it just does so but turning the environment into nigh-unterraformable hot slag, which makes recovering the planet far less practical than in the previous game. Good for dealing with Harvesters, I guess.
You can build a Dyson Sphere in Space Empires IV, but it costs so much time and resources as to be highly impractical most of the time.
It's even worse in Space Empires V - unlike in IV, the spheres take up almost half the system map, rather than just one sector in the middle... and any planets existing inside the sphere will be destroyed when the sphere is constructed! Hope you didn't have a colony there...
In Star Wars: Rebellion, a Turn-Based Strategy game set in the Star WarsExpanded Universe, the Empire could actually build Death Stars and Super Star Destroyers, but the cost in resources made them impractical. Anything they do can be done more cheaply with regular ships. The Death Star is especially impractical since it is vulnerable to fighters, the cheapest space units in the game.
Plus if you actually use its planet-destroying capabilities of the Death Star - the main reason why you'd build the thing to begin with - the resulting outrage will probably cause most of your planets to secede from the Empire, and neutral planets to align themselves with the Rebellion. It would also deprive you of a useful planet that could generate resources or use construction platforms.
You could say they merely inherited this trait from their film incarnations, as mentioned above.
The GBA version of Yggdra Union has the Fanelia. It's an item that instantly kills enemies if you use one of the 5 elemental based skills. However, by the time you can equip it, the only enemy you encounter is immune to those skills. Too bad.
Sure, in the Hit Man games, you can blow someone across the room with dual Silverballers and magnum ammo. If you want a challenge that is. Though it's spectacular to watch that civilian, target or mook fly across the room, most weapons are loud, take a long time to reload and will probably get you killed as you are surrounded by said mooks, all armed to the teeth.
In Forza Motorsport 3, players can drive SUVs and pickup trucks like the Range Rover Sport, and Dodge Ram SRT-10. They're amazing for battering cars around (but that will get you kicked out of the game), but they're so heavy that they plow through corners, and so huge that it can actually obstruct your view when in third person.
Pyramid Head's Great Knife in Silent Hill 2. It would be an awesome one-hit-kill weapon — if you could wield it effectively. As it is, equipping it slows you down to a crawl. It takes forever to bring it to the ready position. You can't move while it's in the ready position. It's so slow to move in striking that an enemy with any mobility at all will simply step out of the way. And the recovery time is so long that you're a sitting duck if when you miss. On the plus side, it's the only weapon that has any effect on Pyramid Head, its sheer bulk knocking him off balance... but even then, you're generally just better off keeping out of the way.
Actually the Great knife has another use, James is able to scare off enemies with this weapon. To achieve this, James must turn off his flashlight and radio, then equip the knife. Monsters, particularly Lying Figures, will start to run away from James. This only works in dark places.
Likewise, the secret chainsaw weapon in Silent Hill 2 is certainly awesome (it's a goddamn chainsaw!), but James has to start the saw each time he readies it, holds it off to the side so enemies can't walk into it, and swings it so slowly that there's almost no chance of ever hitting an enemy before they can hit him.
Silent Hill 4 takes this to another level. You can gather a whole arsenal of melee weapons, ranging from golf paraphernalia to demonic pickaxes... but the golf apparel breaks easily and the pickaxe is hard to use, so it's back to using Ye Olde Rusty Axe.
The motorcycle in Shadow the Hedgehog. Although the other vehicles legitimately provided benefits Shadow couldn't get on foot, the motorcycle's sole purpose was looking cool — it was difficult to steer, and, due to Shadow having speed comparable to Sonic's, using it actually slowed Shadow.
Also, the unlockable weapon Satellite Cannon, because it fired so slowly that any mobile enemy would already be out of the way by the time it actually fired.
The Graviton Gun in Syndicate Wars meant death to anyone on the wrong end of it, recharged quickly and also emitted tendrils of energy that disintegrated eight other people when you fired it. So, unless you cared about collateral casualties, it was great. Except that it cost three times as much as the Satellite Rain and by the time you developed it, you were probably on the last levels, where you couldn't resupply your agents (or you cheated like a bastard).
And the Satellite Rain counts too. It's a Kill Sat which strikes the ground with beams of death that will knock down buildings and kill anyone in the target area. But with the delay between firing and impact, it's hard to get the enemy to stay in the target area, and it doesn't really do anything a mine or a nuclear grenade can't do more easily, other than looking twenty times more awesome.
In the GBA versions of Harvest Moon (Friends of Mineral Town and More Friends...), you can assemble the three Gems: when equipped, the Kappa Gem automatically restores Strength, Goddess Gem restores Stamina, and the Truth Gem displays both stats on screen. Handy, but at the time when you can actually get them (at least five in-game years in), most players will know the limits at which they can safely work their character, negating the need for the Truth Gem. Scarfing down some Elli Leaves or drinking a Bodigizer XL and a Turbojolt XL restore your health much faster than the Kappa and Goddess Gems would. All this still ignores the amount of effort needed to find all twenty-seven pieces of all three gems.
Some of the Buster attacks from Devil May Cry 4 are dangerous enough in crowds that using standard attacks is safer and more effective. Then there's Nero's 'Showdown', which is almost impossible to pull off without getting screwed yourself. Showdown is a powerful multi-hit attack that takes an exorbitant amount of time to wind up, and if you miss the first strike then it takes an equally crippling amount of time to wind down. However, it does have a saving grace that all of Nero's sword attacks tend to have extremely wide swing radii and Showdown is a Devil Trigger attack (so your BFS wielding spirit is also in effect), so if it connects then all enemies within a few meters almost certainly will die..
Showdown is useful for killing De Cloaked Fausts and Mega Scarecrows fast, just so long as you stun lock them with Summoned Swords during the wind up animation.
The Zodiac from Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando definitely qualifies for this. Costs a ridiculous 2.5 million bolts, with ammo costing a further 10 thousand bolts a shot. The weapon itself takes 2 seconds to charge, before vaporizing all (non boss) enemies on screen. However the weapon can only hold four shots. Much more effective is to let rip with your 100 round, rapid fire R.Y.N.O. 2, for just a mere one million bolt purchase, and a hundred bolts a shot. Considering the amount of enemies ever on screen, the R.Y.N.O. 2 can take out what the Zodiac can in almost the same amount of time.
However, since the ammo for Zodiac could also be found in regular crates (a.k.a., for free), the weapon is suddenly not THAT impractical...
The Tesla Claw degraded from Awesome yet Practical to this in the transfer to the sequel. The ammo capacity is boosted even beyond the first game's healthy supply, but it can't be leveled up or modded, and the shift in gameplay style toward a heavier shooter emphasis between games means that you'll be facing a lot more opponents that are just too far away for the Tesla Claw to touch them. Thus, the wicked awesome crab claw that shoots lightning that saw a lot of use in the original game — to the point that the gold version renders nearly every other weapon superfluous — will probably spend most of its time sitting unused in your weapons list.
About 90% of the available Plasma Blade combos and almost all of the Boosters in the 3-D Castlevania-styled action game Nanobreaker serve no real purpose other than to put on a (somewhat nifty) laser light show for your opponents. For that matter, if it doesn't hit all around you or deliver a quick instant kill, it was essentially useless against the game's swarming Orgamechs.
Super Robot Wars lives on this trope. Many attacks sure look cool and are stronger than others, but the overall cost is usually greater. Case in point: Cybuster's Cosmo Nova only has a single shot, and requires a very high Willpower rating. It's the machine's best move, but you'll usually end up using the weaker Akashic Buster more often, simply because you can squeeze off many more attacks with it and sooner as well.
There are entire robots like this: massive, powerful combining juggernauts that require you to devote multiple deploy slots (to send out all the parts) and have nothing but over-the-top power attacks that suck energy like crazy. Like everything else in Super Robot Wars, you generally want to use the more robust components to sweep up the enemies and then start hammering the boss with the high-end attacks.
The SRX gets hit with this stick in Original Generation when combining first works; it only lasts three turns, dodges like a brick, can barely harm the R-Gun Rivale with its attacks, and a single hit by the Rivale's ridiculously overpowered weapons will push it to the brink of obliteration.
During an Earth route scenario in the SRX's first game, Hayato then informs the SRX team that the time has come to change out their engines, saying that only when combined as one can the SRX show its true power. The new engine uses Tronium, which requires a vast gaping plot hole to explain how it could be developed so quickly. The bad news is that at around three minutes of time at full throttle, the engine is likely to meltdown and explode - and the pilots surely won't make it through alive. For wanky game mechanical reasons, this means that the SRX can only stay combined for three turns, and once the pilots separate again they won't be able to recombine that battle.
This trope is actually invoked in universe with the Alt Eisen. It was the prototype for a proposed Gespeant Mk.III line of mass-produced mechs, and while it packs a lot of punch it's also incredibly difficult to operate, to the point that Kyosuke is the only person who can use it effectively.
Alto's Special Command "Dance of Wings" in Super Robot Wars UX. Alto learns it on Scenario 50, so there aren't many enemies left that it works on to be useful.
The Supernova weapon in Jak 3 kills all the enemies on screen. It also uses up all your violet ammo — the most powerful ammo in the game. This also applies to the violet ammo itself, which can also be used to reverse gravity for all your enemies except for you. Cool? Yes. Practical? Not so much.
The final unlockable car in Tokyo Xtreme Racer Zero is an extremely powerful Nissan Fairlady Z...but just like its inspiration, the Devil Z from the Wangan Midnight series, it's a challenge to drive.
The Field Shutter in Zanac, which is a shield that protects your ship from frontal attacks. Sounds good until you discover that it pisses off the AI and makes it throw more enemies at you.
It is, however, very useful for the Large Cavern. Hovering at the top of the screen and spamming Globus is a viable strategy for most of the rooms. Also, several of the secret rooms in Final Approach require it.
You can also use the glyph you get for completing the Training Hall to get to Dracula's room without Volaticus, but that's more of a Bragging Rights Reward.
"Classicvania" games have the pocketwatch, which stops time...for five hearts...and then some enemies are immune to it. Haunted Castle's version of it is an exception; it costs only two hearts to stop time for four seconds.
Alucard in Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse. He can only wield a pocketwatch as a subweapon, he attacks with small projectile orbs that does abysmal damage and when upgraded, it shoots 3 projectiles, but each projectiles deal the same abysmal damage so unless you're close enough, he won't dish out much damage. His specialty is to turn into bat and float, unable to attack, which would've been good if this was a Metroidvania, not a Classicvania. Lastly? He has a huge hitbox, making him easier to hit or drop into the Bottomless Pit.
His bat form is useful for getting past some tough areas, for example- there's one section where you have to cross a crumbling floor with three Bone Dragons blocking your way, it's incredibly to kill them without getting killed yourself in the process. Alucard can just fly over the dragons and avoid the section entirely.
In Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, there's a secret item crush triggered when you have at least 100 Hearts and no subweapon equipped. Since you can only swap but not completely drop subweapons after you've picked one up, you'd only be able to use this by intentionally avoiding picking subweapons up until you've attained a 100+ Heart maximum and the DSS cards necessary to use the item crush command (unless you use the "use any DSS combo" glitch). The requirements mean that indeed, you'd want to try this out maybe once at the most.
In Moonwalker on the Sega Genesis, you can perform a special move that makes everyone on screen dance themselves to death. Unfortunately, it costs half your life.
And you can get a powerup that transforms Michael into Humongous Mecha Michael, but it is completely useless for any level other then the second to last one, as you can't rescue children with it equipped, so all you can do is blast away at infinite Respawning Enemies for a minute or so.
Any Arms Fortress in Armored Core: For Answer, but two stick out:
"Cabracan" is a heavily armored tank that carries hundreds of drones. But the skirt is hinged, exposing its treads when it runs into a mine.
The Kiku weapon, a melee-range pile bunker that can one-shot almost anything... If you can hit with it, and that's a big if. Fast enemies will zip right past you, and most others can be taken out with ease using mundane weaponry.
Utilizing it as a countermeasure against lightweight blade-based enemies yields far more favorable results.
Close Combat II has quite a few such units. Flamethrowers are devastating, but their crew are killed by rifle fire before they can engage as often as not. Flamethrower Tanks are more durable, but are usually overkill for fighting infantry, inadequate for fighting tanks, and cost a whole lot more than simpler vehicles. The entire Tiger tank line is considered overpriced. The British also have a Churchill tank that's capable of killing anything in one shot, but it takes a full minute to reload.
Almost half the special weapons in Mega Man Legends are of this variety. The laser sword, for example, is slow, does only moderate damage, and has no range... in a 3D game where every enemy has projectiles and deals contact damage. The only really useful special weapons are obtained within the first few hours of gameplay, and by the end of the game even they become useless because your buster gun is more powerful than any of them are and is actually practical for killing things. Add in the facts that you have to collect several items to even build them and then spend several thousand zenny just to power them up to their full potential, and honestly, there's little to no point to even bothering with them.
The Shining Laser and Active Buster deserve special mention, though upon final upgrade they become Game Breakers and beyond. The Shining Laser has extremely low capacity (it more or less uses one ammo per frame), but can kill the final boss, notorious for his defense, in about four seconds with its final attack upgrade. The Active Buster fires rapid-fire homing missiles and costs more than every other Special Weapon in the game barring the Shining Laser combined. You can turn with the Shining Laser but not adjust the y-axis and you are completely immobile with the Active Buster but with a maximum homing rating it will seek enemies behind you. The breaking point? Both weapons gain unlimited ammo upon the final energy upgrade and when fully upgraded are the strongest and third-strongest weapons, with Active Buster being at the limits of every stat besides attack, in the game when everything is said and done.
Oil Man's Oil Slider. For some reason the designers left him with no other form of attack, despite augmenting many of the other Robot Masters, forcing him to slide around like an idiot if he wants to do any damage at all. There's also the Spark Shock in MM 3; the fact that you can't switch weapons while enemies are paralyzed from it makes it a far less useful weapon than the much-maligned Top Spin. They did fix it in the Game Boy game, however, making it a much better power overall.
Like wise the Rush armors from 6 and 7. 6 had the Jet armor that replaces the Rush Coil with a short burst jetpack and the Power armor upped your attack power, and could destroy certain blocks and some minor enemies in one hit. However, both forms costed you the slide and special weapons, the Jet also took away the charge shot, and the Power shortened your range, making it nearly useless in most boss fights. 7 gave an armor that could fly and give a rocket punch. It had the same weaknesses as the Jet armor, but the huge sprites reduced its flight to a crappy doublejump, which automatically launched you at an angle. Also there was an annoying cutscene that played every time you equipped the armor in 6 - especially annoying in the Wily stages when you have to equip it, then switch to another weapon, then equip it again...
Mega Man 10 had two Awesome But Impractical weapons!
The Commando Bomb could inflict heavy damage on enemies, and could even pierce some armored enemies, but bizarrely enough if you fired it directly at them, it only did minimal damage. You had to aim it at the floor/wall/ceiling adjacent to the enemy for it to explode and cause the damaging shockwaves! You could also change its direction twice in mid-flight, which sounds cool, except that usually you really only need to do so once, and if you accidentally (or intentionally, to dodge an enemy's shots) move Mega Man sideways after setting the bomb on a vertical path, you will change the bomb's trajectory again, missing your target! Of course, if you gain enough skill to use it effectively...
The Thunder Wool was even more powerful than the Commando Bomb against stationary enemies, since it could hit them with two powerful zaps, but good luck actually hitting anything! The weapon launched a cloud that traveled up and to the side a bit, then zapped anything below it with deadly lightning. But if the cloud hit an enemy before it reached the top of its arc... congratulations, you just wasted a bunch of weapons energy, because it only does minimal damage and dissipates before it can zap anything!
A lot of X's helmet upgrades tend to fall under this. Aside from the secret armor upgrades, the SNES ones, and their Gameboy Expies, aren't much use once you memorize where they'd be useful. Play style or character preference does the same to most of the PS1 ones as many reduce weapon energy usage (which Zero nor the Ultimate Armor really need), the Shadow Armor speeds up sword attacks, and the Gaea Armor has no stated function at all. Aversions are X4 (game play is set up so weapons are still useful), X7 (attracts power ups from further away), and X8 (a weaponized form of X1's part and a quick charge, though the Nova Strike makes weapons useless again).
Mega Man X 3 has the basic version of the buster upgrade, but only the basic version. At full power, you can fire two charge shots that, with the right timing, could overlap into a five-shot barrage that could hit nearly anything on screen. The problem is that you have to get to full power, which was two levels higher than the basic charge shot, otherwise you're shooting a full charge and a half-charged shot that won't do anything. You can get one of two enhancement chips, though you'd want the Game Breaker version, that gives a reserve of charge shots to get around this, but the energy consumption is huge, and you can only recharge it by taking damage, but the amount of damage needed to recharge a single unit is absurd. If you get Zero's beam saber though, charging to full power creates a new shot combo that will include a wave of energy flung from the saber after the cross shot that can take off over half a boss's energy meter. The saber won't add to you charge time, and is included in the shot reserve upgrade. Add on top of that the fact that the screen wide shot is slow, making it possible for opponents to dodge it.
The basic version of the X3 armor is this trope. The completed X2 armor had three useful attacks and you could only use the X3 scanning feature when you first enter a stage. Granted after adding both of the Game Breakers to it it was the best armor of the SNES games, but again, you need both of them.
Mega Man X1 and X2 have the Hadouken and Shoryuken enhancements, respectively. Both can kill most enemies in a single shot, however using them requires X to be at full health and standing perfectly still, rendering them completely useless for most bosses. Finding them can be a pain too.
Though some of the Program Advances in the Mega Man Battle Network series are quite useful/balanced, and worth including in an appropriate deck, others are nearly impossible to use, requiring that three or four chips each of which can only show up once in a 30 chip deck all come up on the same turn. Even for the useful ones, attempting to include more than one or two will stretch your deck too thin.
A popular combo for a while in the third game was "Disco Inferno". Without going too far into details, it causes the entire field to explode in a giant blaze (awesome) and deal amazing damage. The combo also required five chips in the correct order and could be circumvented by using any of the staple defensive chips, raising one's shield, or simply stepping back and firing the buster.
Magical Battle Arena has a classic usage of this trope, Yagami Hayate (Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha) can dish out a ton of damage AND freeze enemies that are on nearly half of the entire battlefield. The catch? It takes an impossibly long time to charge.
The Flamethrower in Saint's Row 2. Sure, it sets your opponents on fire, which will normally kill them. But it has limited range, combined with the fact that enemies running into you while blazing will catch you as well, maybe torching that bastard isn't the best idea.
Similar to the flamethrower, there is also the final upgrade for the Tek Z-10 SMG in Saints Row The Third which fires incendiary bullets. Given the close-range nature of an SMG, similar situations break out, only with a "flamethrower" firing in excess of 800 RPM with the potential for a stray bullet igniting someone you aren't aiming at. Doing this in a crowded area will likely cause most of that area to burst into flames. Yourself and allies included.
Note that this does become somewhat more practical later in the game if you purchase Immunity to Fire. Any allies following you are still at risk, of course, but upgrading them gives them enough health that they can survive being burned without fear of being downed from the damage. Of course, by the time you've got all these upgrades you're probably close to invincible...
Xenon 2 Megablast has the Super Nashwan Power, which can be purchased in between half-level sections. It gives you a fleeting glimpse of awesomeness, upgrading your ship as far as it can be upgraded at any stage of the game, only to take it all away again after ten seconds.
Grand Theft Auto IV, since they took out the Rhino, Hunter and Hydra from its predecessor, San Andreas, The Annihilator' Helicopter remains the only weaponized vehicle in the game. While it does indeed sport a pair of twin miniguns either side of the cockpit, they are beyond impractical - if not completely useless. They do not auto-aim like the aircraft guns in the previous game (i.e. they fire directly forward at all times) meaning that to hit anything on the ground, you have to pitch the chopper forward at such an angle you either zoom straight over the target or crash (often both), but they also don't seem to do any more damage than handheld weaponry anyway. Furthermore, after just five seconds of firing, they have to reload.
Bottle rockets in Bully dart in and out of this trope. Fire once, and it usually hits for some nice damage. Fire more than once, they'll start ducking, or the bottle rocket will miss entirely. You can use it to make the sledgehammer boss a lot easier. (Since he moves so slow he won't try to dodge and is easily kited) But against trying to take out random people? You're better off using that to get the first strike and then switching to a more reliable weapon. (Even the Spud Gun is better)
In Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain you acquire the Soul Reaver, which both looks awesome and kills in one hit. On the other hand, it's a two-handed weapon, prohibiting magic of any sort, had a one hit combo which takes as long as two hits from the regular sword, and it drains your magic bar. As a result, the mace and the other swords are much more useful in the long run.
Raziel's version of the Reaver in Soul Reaver 2 could also qualify. It's a pretty powerful weapon and becomes more so if used constantly, but it destroys the souls of those it injures and kills (depriving Raziel of his major food source), and if overused will leech away Raziel's health.
The pistol in La-Mulana is half again as powerful as the Boosted Mace, hits instantly, and hits everything in its path. Problem? You get it pretty late in the game, and you can only get ammo by buying it at 400 coins minimum for 6 bullets per purchase, and you can carry a maximum of 12 bullets. It's only useful if you're trying to find all the ROMs, if you just want to massacre your way through the Dimensional Corridor, or if you're going for Hell Temple.
Gradius ReBirth's Type E powerup configuration has the Vector Laser, which pierces through any object, even structures, is as wide as the Ripple laser, and looks cool. Unfortunately, not only is it weaker than the other lasers, but it cannot destroy the regenerating walls in Stage 2 or the destructable dot walls in the bonus stages. Which means if you enter a bonus stage or get caught behind a solid regenerating wall in Stage 2-2 or 3-2, you're fucked. The only way to circumvent this once you've gotten the Vector Laser? Switch to the Vertical Shot, which is probably the worst Gradius powerup ever: it shoots upwards and downwards, but not forwards.
In Sailor Moon: Another Story, you start off with the Holy Grails of the present and future that can power up Sailor Moon and Sailor Chibi Moon (respectively) into their Super forms. Sounds awesome, right? Except Super Sailor Moon and Super Sailor Chibi Moon lose all of their attacks and combo attacks in exchange for one attack each. You've given a power-up to two characters who are better used for healing than for attacking, and taken away their healing abilities.
''The Legend of Zelda has the Magic Book, which makes your wand shoot fire. But this is worse than impractical. The fire does less damage than the wand spells to begin with, and more mosters are immune to fire than to the wand.
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link has the Thunder spell, which does heavy damage to every enemy on screen. But the cost for the spell is extremely high - with a fully leveled magic power and fully exteneded magic meter, one casting of Thunder still drains half your magic. And this is Zelda II. You'll be needing that magic for healing.
In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, bombchus qualify. There's a finite amount of them available and there's no part of the game where they're particularly useful, let alone necessary.
The Ice Arrows and the Skulltula Family's renewable 200 Rupee reward also count. Having a source of infinite money is nice but collecting all the Gold Skulltulas to get it takes almost the entire game to complete, at which point money really isn't an issue. And the Ice Arrows look cool but aren't any more powerful or versatile than any of Link's other weapons, thus making the difficult sidequest needed to obtain them into something of a fool's errand.
The three Goddess Powers in Ocarina were all hideously expensive to cast (Roughly half of the small Magic bar and 2/5ths of the boosted Bar) and their utility is questionable to say the least:
Din's Fire might be the least impractical; it burns everything in a 12 foot radius, but rarely you do fight enough enemies at a time to justify the cost, and it won't do much to minibosses. Its only justified use is opening the entrance to the Shadow Temple.
Nayru's Love made you invincible for its duration, but also impedes the use of items that also use the magic bar. Good on paper, but it can only be acquired around 70% into the game, when you have enough hearts to not worry about health anywhere but boss fights. The kicker? Not only is it useless against the Final Boss, he also requires Light Arrows to beat in his first form.
Farore's Wind might be the most worthless of them all. You use it as a Warp Whistle inside of a dungeon. You need to have been where you want to warp already, it fades upon warping meaning you must cast it again if you want to keep the warp point, and you need to get through an overly complex dialog for what it does every time you cast it. Enough progress to justify its use would imply one has already opened a Door To Before or acquired the dungeon's resident item which usually serves the same purpose. Its also pointless as an Escape Rope, since any Genre Savvy player knows that saving and resetting the game will do just that, for free.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. The Fierce Deity Mask requires you to get all the masks in the game, and then beat the boss. The boss is made incredibly easy with the FD mask, and then its only usable in boss rooms after the end. And the Giant's Mask, incredibly awesome concept (giant Link!), but only usable against one boss.
In Twilight Princess, you can eventually purchase 3 different varieties of bombs, the third of which is bomblings, which crawl along the ground and then explode (exactly like the Bombchus of previous games). However, they're more expensive per-bomb and you can carry fewer of them than of the other varieties, and there aren't really any situations in which they're actually any better than regular or water bombs. Most players will fill a single bomb bag with bombling just for variety, and then never end up using any of them.
Bombchus were mainly used in OoT and MM for blowing up rocks that are on walls, ceilings, or out-of-reach areas. In TP, this is better done with Bomb Arrows - all that's required is regular bombs and the bow and arrows. It doesn't help that the bow is available quite a bit before bomblings.
There's a very expensive suit of Magic Armor which causes you to, when hit, lose Rupees instead of health. In theory, this could turn you into a nigh-indestructible juggernaut protected by his cavernous pocketfuls of gems, but it practice it's pretty useless because you end up running out of money (which is difficult to re-acquire) very quickly; stockpiling potions is easier and more effective. The armor also drains Rupees continuously—even if you don't get hit at all, 999 Rupees will only last you a few minutes—and when you run out of money its only effect is to make Link walk really slowly.
The Horse Call, which allows you to call Epona anywhere in Hyrule field, eliminating the need to find horse whistles. It's a neat item - at least it would be if it wasn't given to you about 3/4s of the way in the game, by which point, the player can have Midna warp them around Hyrule and has access to most, if not all, of the points you can warp to.
The good bee in a Link to the Past would attack enemies for you and more importantly not attack you. Unfortunately, it isn't anywhere near as helpful as fairies or potions, dealing scratch damage, easily being lost and limited by Contractual Boss Immunity. The one boss exempt from that is Mothula, but one bee isn't strong enough on its own and having more than one for that one fight takes up too many valuable bottles.
Microsoft's space sim Freelancer features a single-player campaign that raises the player to about level 18 and ends with only a portion of the available star systems visited; the maximum level cap is 38, and there are many more systems that can be explored, including Easter Egg worlds inhabited by monkeys and robots. Players also gain access to exponentially more powerful ships and weapons at higher levels, such as alien lasers that inflict massive damage and require no energy to fire. However, once the main campaign has ended, there is no storyline to follow except for missions that are randomly generated by the computer, all of which follow a given template. The player has no real motivation to reach the higher levels except for the sake of completion.
Any game (that includes both video and table-top) That has a Necromancy/Shadow/Death magic skill-set with an exploding dead guy spell. It requires you to lure an enemy over a pile of corpses and then make them go boom. You'd be much better off simply raising those bodies and swarming him.
Imperishable Night's Malice Cannon, does absurd amounts of damage, but requires you to focus and unfocus constantly in order for it to work. This makes dodging harder than it normally is. And considering that the series as a whole is intense even on Normal...
Prototype has a number of high-end moves like this, such as the Bulletdive Drop, which has awesome damage but has horrible prep time and is difficult to aim or hit anyone with since it has poorer tracking than the other drop moves.
Doing barrel rolls in the Afterburner games. You can dodge a number of missile swarms this way, but there're some frames of vulnerability as your bird comes out of it, so you can still get nailed if you aren't timing it right. If you're skilled enough, standard juking is better.
The Fusion Cannon was slow to charge, drained your shields if you charged it a bit too long, and was Nerfed in the second game. The Phoenix Cannon is a suped up ricocheting plasma cannon, but it chews through your energy too fast.
R-Type Final features 101 different ships to play through the game with. A few of these ships have "Final Charge" Wave Cannons, that can be charged up to truly devastating levels and kill anything, including every single boss, in one hit. The problem is that building up to the Final charge level requires forty-five seconds, in a game that sends waves and waves of enemies at you. Even bosses will likely require you to be constantly shooting in order to get rid of some of their projectiles. The only time it's useful is against the final boss, when every other ship gets it automatically (though it's not called such).
Every weapon in Iridion II that isn't the normal shot or the search laser. Thanks to the game's accuracy-based scoring, the latter two are the only weapons that can be used to get a high score; the radial gun, for instance, fires a needless amount of bullets in a sweeping pattern, which means your shot accuracy is going to go out the window if you use it.
Emperor Doviculus of Brütal Legend fights with a guitar with four necks.
Speaking of Brütal Legend, Lars Halford is this trope made flesh. A leader so inspirational people who have just met him will gladly march to their deaths beside him, but completely incapable of managing the day-to-day recruitment and logistics of an army in the field.
In general, many combo videos, whether for 1v1 fighting games or one-v-many beat 'em ups, are staged against a training mode dummy or a lone target and thus the very impressive-looking combos showcased aren't much good in real gameplay against an active target or a mob of enemies.
In The Godfather: The Game, the unupgraded Tommygun may fall into this. Tearing into enemy mobsters with a hail of bullets is awesome the first time, until you realise that your accuracy goes to hell with sustained bursts. Plus given that you will get torn apart fast if you stand out in the open rather than Take Cover, you can't really make best use of it in a real combat situation, as opposed to a solo encounter. The best way to make use of the Tommygun is to get into close range - and then why aren't you using the shotgun? It's far better to stick to taking headshots with a handgun. The more complicated Execution Styles also fall into this - while you will get more Respect for killing enemies with them, the setup is complicated enough as to not be worth it. To elaborate: One of these, the Traffic Accident execution, requires you to have someone else assist you in running over your target. To do so, you'll need to be at a roadside. You'll have to kill any other enemies first, since you're vulnerable while dragging your to-be victim around. You also need to position your target just so, then give him the shove that puts him in the path of an oncoming vehicle. Far too much trouble.
The Crystal Flash: L+ R+ Down+ PowerBomb when you have at least 10 missiles, 10 S. Missiles, and 11 (when you do it) Power Bombs and under 50 Energy with nothing in reserve tanks. This one is helpful in a pinch if you're trying to get out of wherever you are, but performing it is tricky and it doesn't work well for speedruns.
The Blue Suit. A glitch on the Draygon boss allows the player to kill it via shinesparking and be kept in a state of pseudo-dashing. During this time, pressing down prepares a One-Shot shinespark (not using it then causes you to revert back to blue suit), pressing Y cancels out of the blue suit altogether, and stopping on sand also disables it. however, as long as you are in blue suit mode, anything you touch takes damage, and you have no invincibility frames when you actually do end up taking damage. Reason for its impracticality? well, apart from the obvious (you can't shinespark without losing it, etc.), landing on a row of spikes is effectively death, and you can't save, quit, load the game and keep it. It's also not even practical for a Tool-Assisted Speedrun due to not being able to run.
In the Cult Classic Lucasarts game Afterlife (in which you develop a planet's Heaven and Hell), the generic zoning has many advantages. You don't have to deal with zoning your astral realm according to the seven virtures or sins, and the ultimate generic buildings hold more souls than the other, specialized zoning options. The problem? The best generic buildings are 4x4, while the others are 3x3, making a mess of your carefully-planned astral realms.
Sonic Adventure 2. Sonic's magic Hands ability. Useful on about one enemy in the game in Cannon's Core, only accessible after you have beaten most of Hero story, and it's usually much easier to homing attack enemies. However, the power to magically turn enemies into nothing like that is awesome, just that enemies have no health bars, which were introduced in Sonic Heroes.
zOMG! has the Fire Rain ring, which rains fire on surrounding enemies, ranging from flickers at low rage to firey meteors at high rage. Looks great, but rendering all that fire causes enough lag to give it the nickname "Lag Rain", which is not good when you're surrounded by angry enemies...
The Raiden series has the purple "toothpaste" laser, which can twist around to continuously hit enemies that it touches, often damaging enemies that get in its way. However, it doesn't just bend - it turns and loops, potentially several times, causing ludicrous figure-eight lightshows which are a pretty distracting sight when you're trying to dodge enemy fire. It also deals less damage than the spread shot at point blank or the blue laser.
The Hunter weapon in the Thunder Force series, a homing weapon that can pass through structures to hit enemies. While it allows you to happily fire away without any thought to aiming, it inflicts pretty poor damage, making it less-than-ideal for enemies that don't die in one hit. It also cannot destroy destructible walls in Thunder Force II through IV.
The Wave shot in Thunder Force V is a microwave-style Wave Motion Gun that pierces everything, but like the Hunter, it's pretty weak.
The lightning in MediEvil. Powerful (if slow) distance attack, but when you're out of ammo, it's gone forever; it can't be wasted at all.
Nukes in Cyber Nations. Using one on another nation inflicts massive damage to its military (including the loss of all defending soldiers), destroys massive amounts of land, tech, and infrastructure, and inflicts instant Anarchy (citizens take a massive drop in happiness, resulting in far lower collected taxes) for 5 days. Unfortunately, they're very expensive (and get even more so with each purchased nuke) and have strict requirements, one of which is having your nation be ranked in the 95th percentile or better. On top of that, every nuke launch is reported onto a publicly available page for all players to see, so if, outside of an inter-alliance war, you nuke a nation that's in an alliance, or are part of an alliance and fire a nuke without permission from superiors, you will be in very deep trouble.
Red Ivan, the trigger-happy explosives expert henchman in Evil Genius. His bazooka attack is one of the deadliest weapons in the game, but unless you micro-manage him during an attack, he'll probably end up doing as much damage to your base and your minions as to the forces of justice. Arming your mercenaries with flamethrowers is ill-advised for the same reason.
Pirates: Legend of the Black Buccaneer likes to play with the player's idea of the usefulness of certain abilities. One ability that you receive after the first dungeon is the ability to summon zombies that fight for you. The problem? They drain your health, can only be summoned at certain spots (justified, as they're probably graves or voodoo ritual spots. They can be found nearly everywhere, so thats good), can only be summoned one at a time, and move so slowly, that by the time they can actually be useful, you will have lost half of your health to the enemy, and half your health as price for the slow moving zombie. The exact opposite happens when you fight through a huge hell-like arena, killing demons, and your reward is the ability to cut down plants. Seriously, except its an extremely useful ability, due to the amount of plants around the early parts of the game.
Spore has the Planet Buster, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. However, buying even one of them is ridiculously expensive, and actually using it - even on an uninhabited planet - is against the Galactic Code and can instantly spark a war with every empire within several hundred parsecs. Besides, it deprives you of a planet to conquer, which is usually the reason you'll be attacking the planet in the first place. It's pretty pointless, really, unless your objective is to get certain Acheivements or to make a Youtube video with an epic conclusion.
In the Facebook flash game, King of Kung Fu, the skill "Pet Charm" is quickly becoming this. It allows you to control one of your opponent's pets (many of which are quite powerful). However, the three most commonly used pets are immune to it, and most of the others are simply not worth the use of it taking up one of your 18 skill slots.
In Raptor: Call of the Shadows, if you hold off on the fire button, you regenerate health. Problem is, it takes far too long to generate any decent amount of health back, and most of the things that kill you in that game do so by ramming, which is best countered by, well, shooting them first.
It sees use on a couple of bosses, where it's easy to dodge circles around them until you're back up to full health, saving valuable money on repairs.
Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies's implementation of the Fuel-Air Explosive Bomb suffers from this. The FAEB has a bigger blast radius and deals more damage than the Unguided Bomb (Large). However, the only plane it's available on carries only 8 of the things. In contrast, the plane with the biggest UGBL payload mounts 18. You're thus more likely to get more targets sticking to UGBLs rather than using FAEBs.
The Grenade Launcher in Alien Swarm. Does major splash damage to enemies, but the shots arc and go to where your targeting cursor is, making it useless for run and gun tactics. The friendly fire damage from the weapon is INSANELY high, making accidental killings much more higher.
The Tricobalt torpedo in Star Trek Online is the most powerful torpedo weapon in the game. Fully skilled up and with weapon consoles that boots its damage, the torpedo can hit for 30,000-40,000 damage in a single shot; most fully skilled Cruisers(tanking class) only have 40,000+ hull hitpoints and 8000 shield points. The drawback? The torpedo takes 30 seconds to reload, compared with 6 seconds for a Photon Torpedo and 8 Seconds for a Quantum Torpedo, it cannot be overloaded with special weapon powers that can be done with other torpedoes, and unlike most other torps, it's incredibly slow flying and you can shoot it down with beam weapons, making it useless against a player with a good eye and fast reflexes. NPCs shoot them down fairly regularly too. Another problem is that torpedoes do about 10% of their normal damage on shields, so if the shields are up, you may do 3000 damage with it if you're lucky, and that's less than half the shield strength of a target ship.
It also takes 4500 skillpoints to fully skill up, and as skillpoints are very limited at max level, they should be spent wisely - a Quantum torpedo launcher takes 2700 skillpoints to fully skill up.
Compare with the quantum torpedo: fully skilled, it will do 4000-5000 damage, has an 8 second recharge, meaning you can fire it four times in the time it takes to recharge a Tricobalt (giving it at least 20,000 damage), and you can use a torpedo overload power that will fire two to four of them at once, depending on the level of the ability. A critical hit from an overloaded Quantum torpedo can do 12,000 damage, so a Quantum torpedo launcher with an increased critical chance is a truly awesome weapon. A definite case of Awesome yet Practical.
The Tricobalt can be great in an escort against big ships. If you can drop enemy shields and get close enough so that they can't retarget and hit it.
There's also the Federation Dreadnought Cruiser, better known as the Enterprise-D from the final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Bulk of a Cruiser, firepower of an Escort, stealth of most Klingon and Romulan ships... And you'll probably be hard pressed to actually zoom into action and spend most of your time broadsiding and leaving your powerful Phaser Spinal Lance weapon to gather dust.
There's also the Transwarp consoles on the Advanced Heavy Cruiser series (re: the Excelsior and the Enterprise-B) Unlike the other, unlockable ones, this one allows you to warp to just about anywhere in an instant. The catch? Remember how it was sabotaged in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock? It still is here. Which means, you got a 50/50 chance of it going "CLUNK".
Dead Rising - The Megabuster and Z-Saber both count, as getting the Megabuster required you to spend a playthrough killing zombies while the Z-Saber could only be acquired by going through survival mode and lasting five days.
Not that the sequel's any better. During gameplay, you come across a tiger and her master. After killing the master, if you can find and feed the tiger three steaks, it will join you like a survivor.
Plants vs. Zombies has the Chomper, a plant which can One-Hit Kill any zombie that enters its range. The only problem? After it eats a zombie, it takes forever to chew it, leaving it open to attack during that time. You could put some Wall Nuts in front of it, but because of the Chomper's short range, any more than one will render the Chomper unable to attack. Thus, it'll likely only be able to eat one zombie before it's dead meatvegetable matter.
Put a second Chomper behind the first, though, and if the zombies eat your Wall-Nut, the Chomper behind the chewing Chomper will take out the first zombie to come at it.
An even bigger example of this trope is the Cob Cannon. It's an extremely powerful weapon - a flying Cherry Bomb with extra-wide splash damage. But the effort needed to plant even one (You have to plant two Kernelpults next to each other in the same row, then plant the Cannon upgrade on top of them at 700 sun points per, total), plus its slow rate of fire (takes about sixty seconds to recharge), slow shot speed (about four seconds between firing and detonation, plus you have to aim it manually) and its vulnerability (its large size and lack of toughness makes it a Glass Cannon) makes it a weapon only for achievement seekers. Tapping it once arms it, so an accidental tap will most likely end up with a wasted shot.
The Doomerang in Ty the Tasmanian Tiger, a remote-controlled boomerang, that can one-hit kill any enemy. The downside? It leaves Ty standing there defenceless, prime for attacking. It doesn't even go that far, either, so you can't just snipe enemies from 50 feet away.
Not strictly a spell, but the Plasma Bolt weapon in Wipeout tends to fall under this. It charges up for two seconds, then fires a straight line projectile that instantly kills the target? Great! Until you realise it usually isn't about kills (and when it is, you usually don't get this weapon) but about winning the race, and what you really want to do is not slow down to aim a plasma bolt and probably miss anyway, but hit the target with anything ASAP and overtake. Regular homing missiles are almost always a better idea. The weapon could have been more useful in the later games where you often end up competing with the ship in second place for a lap and eliminating this ship would give you an easy win, but its damage is severely reduced in recent titles.
The Visual NovelEien no Aselia has a lot of gameplay features. Near the end, you get some units called Eternals. They have what are the strongest attack, defense and support skills in the game... and you might very well never use them. Why? Because every time you use them, you lose a lot of Mind and they require you to have a lot to work at all. So you get to use them about twice before you have to switch back to normal attacks.
Scarface: The World is Yours. Drug-runs run the risk of gang retaliation. Pulling into the parking lot of a be-seiged business you own and machine-gunning all the bad guys? Awesome. But it attracts cop attention. So if it's one of the 'cheaper' places it's just ever-so-much cost effective to finish the run and use and inconsequential amount of the cash to repair the damaged place. Same reasoning is behind the rocket launchers. Plugging the car of assassins is fun; but more practical to outrun.
Air Force Delta Strike: Certain bonus aircraft like the Twin Bee fall into this category.
The Flash game Flight has the "Mystery Upgrade", a heftily-priced item at the end of the list. It is "a mysterious and impractical upgrade that is probably not worth the cost".
The EMP torpedo in Escape Velocity Nova. Almost completely disables an enemy's shields and ionizes them, reducing their turning to near zilch, but weighs two tons a torpedo, moves very slowly, can hurt you badly if you're caught in the blast and will get any government shooting at you if they scan you and spot it in your weapons load out. If you have escorts that use EMP torpedos, the only thing you have to worry about is the blast radius.
Also the Vell-Os Winter Tempest. It does crazy amounts of damage, and it skips shields and goes directly to damaging the armor. If you're surrounded by small-to-medium ships, spinning around once with it active will kill them. Grazing large ships twice will kill them. The problem is, it will drain your energy completely in a couple of seconds.
The Neddle of Fury in Otogi: Myth of Demons jacks your attack way up, letting you tear though enemies with ease. But lowers your defense a lot and disables your magic, most of the time you're better off with magic.
Cave Story: The Level 3 Blade is the most awesome-looking weapon in the game, summoning the ghost of King to slash wildly at everything in a fair-sized area. The Level 2 Blade, however, can do damage more rapidly and doesn't have to wait to reload. The Blade also maxes out immediately on attaining Level 3, so you have to avoid taking hits if you want to keep it there.
Missile frigates and bombers in X3: Terran Conflict can level entire sectors and lay waste to whole fleets by pouring huge salvos of missiles into them at extreme range. Fielding them requires the player to build up supporting industry to manufacture munitions and a strong supply line to deliver them. The same job can be done for roughly half- to two-thirds the money and with much less prep time with a Boreas or Osaka destroyer that has the player at the helm. It doesn't help that in stock X3TCthe AI doesn't know how to use their missile spam properly: it launches missiles singly rather than as massive barrages. (This last problem is fixed to a frightening degree in X3: Albion Prelude.)
Mitigated by the fact you only have to build the supporting industry and supply lines once. Late-game players looking for Self Imposed Challenges have little problem fielding M7Ms and M8s.
With that said, M2 destroyers are also Awesome, but Impractical as the player flagship. They're tough, powerful, and also really slow. They're also too big to dock at the vast majority of stations, and they can't carry any fighters for use as shuttles. For day-to-day operations, most players favor the high-end M6 corvettes (which don't need a shuttle), M7 frigates with docking ports (the Panther and Shrike are common choices), or the faster M1 carriers.
On the other side of the spectrum we have M5 fighters; they exist solely to be ridiculously fast and hard to hit, but the faster they are the less heavily armed they tend to be, resulting in the equivalent of mosquitoes: lightning-quick and almost impossible to hit, but also unable to deal any significant damage to shielded objects - and if something does manage to shoot them it's instant goodbye. Handing them over to the AI pilots also tends to result in them splatting harmlessly against anything possessing significant mass.
Through care or an exploit, Terran Conflict players can capture the carrier-class Terran #deca, and reverse-engineer it. Effectively gate-maximum size and with enough hangar space for fifty heavy fighters, it's a massive and frightening machine that dwarfs most other ships. Outfitting it with any weaponry, however, requires farming Kha'ak destroyers, and the resulting equipped ship is extraordinarily capital-intensive compared to most of the other options.
The ATF Valhalla, an enormous super-M2 that has 14 gigajoules of shielding, 32 Point Singularity Projectors, and 24 Starburst Shockwave Cannons. However, it is absurdly slow and hard to maneuver, and its size gives it some huge blind spots in its turret targeting. And it's so wide that it can't fit through jumpgates. Seriously, when it enters a sector in Terran Conflict, it bangs into the gate rim and loses its shields, reducing the ATF's trump card to a sitting duck. There's a good reason it doesn't spawn in vanilla TC. This last behavior is corrected in Albion Prelude, where the Valhalla warps in next to a jumpgate, not inside it.
Capital ships in general will ruin your hard earned reputation through no greater fault on your behalf than commanding one. Wherever you attempt to enter a sector, you should check the upcoming area's traffic if you can. If there is a merchant fleet anywhere near the jumpgate, your Capital ship will spawn on top of a number of them, destroying them instantly. Your ship will also be stripped of its shields and take a respectable amount of expensive to repair hull damage.
The Mortar in Gears of War, post-nerfs. It is great for flushing enemies out of cover, but it only has 3 shots, slows you to a crawl while carrying it, takes several seconds to fire, telegraphs its target, and locks you in place for several seconds after you fire. And on top of that, it's range can't even reach the opposite end of Gears' small maps.
The Boomshot in the first game is a grenade launcher capable of one-hit killing anything even through cover (and it's invaluable on the final boss), but its ammo is so scarce (it must be obtained from dead Boomers) that you'll probably discard it after emptying a magazine.
In Guardian Heroes, the character Randy has a super-powerful Kamehame Hadoken attack. The problem with it is that, for one, it costs a ton of MP, and two, it takes a long while to charge before firing, leaving you open to attacks from enemies. Worse still, if you get hit while charging, you will have wasted your MP.
In Gunz The Duel, a lot of moves qualify depending on the skill of the player, mainly because of how unlikely it is that you'll get in a situation where an awesome move will actually work. Then there's the usual useless moves like dodging which looks cool but it's slow and uncancellable and will likely get you killed. Those melee moves you see all the rookie k-stylers do? Nobody actually uses those unless they're out of ammo. Spamming shotguns? Better make sure you actually kill someone because you only get five shots per gun before you need to reload. Spamming a machinegun when you're not doing a quest? Please don't, you'll only get killed faster. Doing an über melee move that will land you a guaranteed kill? Better wait till you can safely close the distance because you will get killed if you don't. There's a good reason most players rely on the same basic tactics most of the time, all that other stuff is just too unrelyable.
Minecraft has Golden Armour and tools. The tools are the fastest in the game, gold armor can hold better enchantments than anything else, and they all look really cool, until Reality Ensues and we find out that Notch opted for the realistic structural density of gold, rather than the JRPG version, leaving you with what amounts to some "slightly tasteless evening wear."
TNT falls under a similar problem. For general use, TNT is good to destroy a wall or the like if you are mining, but the explosion radius is quite large and items caught in the center of the explosion are destroyed so if you are not careful, you can wind up destroying the rare diamonds or the even rarer emeralds.
If you beat all the races in Dethkarz with all the car classes you're given the Templar, an awesome-looking secret car with all the stats maxed. Which means it's very fast... so much that it's ridiculously hard to control it.
The bigger a weapon is in the Mech Warrior videogame series, the more likely it is to belong here. Huge cannons, lasers and missiles make big booms and do a lot of damage, but they invariably have serious drawbacks that make them less efficient than a wise application of medium weaponry. Extremely large ballistic weapons have little ammo per ton and take a lot of space inside a mech, while large missile systems - not to be confused with the Boring Yet Practical ones that simply spew dozens of small rockets - add to those drawbacks the problem of being very vunlerable to anti-missile systems. As for energy weapons, the really big ones typically produce massive amounts of heat; your mech can dish out a lot of hurt every now and then, but while you're waiting for it to cool down you'll receive a lot of damage from less fancily-armed mechs that can chain-fire their medium lasers pretty much all day long.
Most homing attacks (and the characters who specialize in them) in shmups—i.e. Reimu-A in Touhou, the Hunter in Thunder Force, and Isha from Giga Wing. While their enemy-seeking properties allow you to "fire and forget", homing attacks tend to also be the weakest shot types in their respective games, doing less damage per second than full-forward shots and even point-blank Spread Shots.
In addition, they can really bite you when facing a boss that surrounds itself with self-replenishing Mooks, as your homing shots will go for the closer mooks instead of the boss.
In DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou, Expert shot falls under this. You get the best of Shot type and Laser type...but in return, the game jacks up the difficulty to the equivalent of second loop in other DoDonPachi games.
The S-Rank units in SD Gundam Capsule Fighter. While there are a number of amazing units in the S-Rank category, only a handful of them can be used in the Expert Co-Op modes that net you rare B-Rank unit blueprints and nine times out of ten, it's either the Neue Ziel or the Heavyarms Custom (Endless Waltz). In PVP mode, the effect is even greater, granting or losing the most points in Normal (+5), Boss (+25 if a boss/killed by a boss) and Grid (-5), only have 1.7 lives (your second life only has 70% HP) in Death mode and putting your unit in a ship for Grid and Tag takes up half of the space allotted, meaning you must use weaker units to get the most of your ship.
The Blunderbuss in Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare. It's stupidly powerful and is very easy to obtain ammunition for, but can only load one shot at a time and has a very long reload animation, meaning that unless your first shot obliterated every enemy in the area, you're going to have to spend a lot of time running away as you reload. Oftentimes it's much more Boring, but Practical to equip a less powerful weapon with a larger magazine.
Shattered Steel has the huge rotary cannons. Flashy, noisy, powerful and perfect examples of the More Dakka philosophy, a Planet Runner armed with them can make short work of pretty much everything. However, somewhat ironically for a game whose tagline is "In the future you don't rebuild - you reload"... you can't. You get the 750 rounds at mission start, and that's it. Finishing them relegates you to only secondary weapons, which are powerful but themselves limited. Finish those as well, and you might as well reload the mission - and choose the lasers as primary weapon instead, which do less damage and sound a lot less awesome, but regenerate their charge when you're not using them.
In The Dead Linger, one of the melee weapons you can find to slaughter zombies with is an electric guitar. While it may be awesome to run around bashing undead hordes with a Les Paul, the thing is rather slow and weak and takes up more space in your inventory than stronger and faster weapons.
In Video Game/Phantasty Star Online Episode I&II, has a long list of weapons that requires ultra specific circumstances to obtain weapons that are no better then most other commonly dropped weapons. These weapons have underwhelmingly weak attacks coupled with special effects and animations found in no other weapons.There are however a few weapons that have insane stats nearly maxing out several stat categories, but by the time you can use them you're more than 70% to the max level cap and can easily solo most the dungeons, or they require you to be a specific raise and class. Great example of this is the Olga Flow weapons one there are one for each class they require a maxed stat for the class's specialized stat you're using but they deal insane damage and the effects are only triggered at 10%> HP. Reverse to this is the insanely rare weapon Sealed J Sword, dropped by a Gi Gu on 2-3 specific player ID colors with a drop chance very similar to that of winning the powerball. The sword for the work you put into is completely disappointing, even unsealed it is barely a step above the market trash you can purchase from merchants.
In flash game Epic War 3, the titan units are this. They're giant, have tons of health, do tons of damage, and just look cool, but take up a ridiculous amount of mana (which means you have to use less or weaker units and spells), are slow as molasses, and take so long to summon that you can easily beat even the Caves of Trials before they even show up. Worse, since the max populationnote maximum amount of units that can be summoned is only one for each of them, using another high-level unit with a larger population will usually end up dealing more damage per second than the titans!
The Ghost ability in Kirby: Squeak Squad, which has the cool ability of possessing enemies and using their attacks against other enemies, but encounters a few problems. Ghost Kirby moves very slowly and has no method of dealing with anything that can't be possessed aside from a possessed enemy's attacks, and almost all enemies that can be possessed are both exceedingly weak, quite slow, and die in one or two hits. As another tidbit, Ghost Kirby, much like UFO Kirby, can't climb down ladders, meaning if you come to a section where you have to do this to progress, you have no real choice but to abandon the power.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: Lampshaded in-universe. Sundowner has a pair of swords that can form into a single scissor-like assembly on one arm. Raiden, Boris and The Doktor both question the tactical validity of such a weapon; given what a psychotic individual Sundowner is, it's quite likely that the sheer cruelty of the weapon is what attracts him to it.
Grief Syndrome, a Puella Magi Madoka Magica fangame, has various Signature Moves that turn a portion of the health bar blue (regenerates unless you take damage, at which it becomes permanent). Mami's is, of course, Tiro Finale, a BFG that fires a destructive blast capable of decimating most bosses. However, the gun itself is too long; the barrel is about a third the width of the screen, which means it does absolutely nothing to enemies at point-blank range. To make matters worse, it turns nearly all of the health bar blue, meaning if you take a hit after using Tiro Finale, you'll almost certainly die. (Which is fairly accurate, all things considered.)
Mami in general could be considered an example. She's the game's only character to mix ranged and melee attacks, she's very mobile, and she has the second-highest Soul Limit next to Madoka, but her mixed attacks have a deceptively small range and low damage, and when she dies, it takes a substantial chunk of her energy to come back (from 15% to 26%, the highest in the game). She's considered to be the hardest non-joke character in the game to play properly.
Ingress has pretty portal animations...that also reduce your mobile device to the speed of molasses. It's to the point where an illegal third-party client offers the option to turn the animations off.
Metal Dance Dance Revolution pads. They don't slip, rip, or fold like soft pads. They don't break easily, and you can use your shoes on them. However, they usually costs hundreds of US dollars.
The Nintendo Virtual Boy. The mechanism used to generate the video game image is cool when you think about it. It works like a supermarket scanner, except on your eyes, and without a laser. However, for some people, it hurt their eyes and head.
Sega had their own VR system planned, and unlike the Virtual Boy, it was capable of displaying games in full color, unfortunately the test results determined that the device could cause headaches and other potential injuries, so Sega decided against releasing it. Makes you wonder why Nintendo didn't follow their example.
Extremely high resolution on PC games. Sure, you're outputting your game at 4k resolution and have visuals that would make fantastic wallpapers, but it means nothing if your PC can't even run the game at more than 30 frames per second, and in games that are very action-intensive and rely on split-second decisions, it's far more useful to use a lower resolution that achieves 60 frames per second instead.