The Antidote is a staple item in just about every RPG
that has ever existed. It has a simple use: it will cure a character from a Standard Status Effect
. However, shortly into the game, the character will usually acquire some kind of spell that serves the same purpose, rendering any antidotes in your inventory redundant.
But wait, you say, they aren't completely
pointless! And you're right... there are exactly six situations where they still come in handy:
- If your spell-casting party members either are unable to do the job themself due to being silenced, out of Mana, or knocked out. Alternately, they may be preoccupied fighting other monsters, or you may need to conserve their MP for an upcoming Boss Battle. Either way, you need someone else to do the job in the meantime.
- You find a dungeon or cave where magic isn't allowed or doesn't work.
- In some systems, spells require more time to execute than using items; if a character is dying of poison, this could make the difference between keeping them alive and having to resurrect them later.
- The magic or abilities used to cure status is difficult to find, far more expensive to buy than items, or costs too much to cast, thus making it not worth your time.
- Some lazy NPC can't run to the store and get one himself.
- They allow you to make bulks of much more efficient healing items
... And that's even if
you're likely to run into any monsters (or perhaps terrain effects
) at this point in time that will still poison
This raises the question: Do you keep one or more of these items in your inventory in case that unlikely situation actually pops up? Or do you trash them to make room for
that much more useful item that heals 500 HP instead? (The answer, of course, is "it depends on how limited your inventory slots are.")
This is the Antidote Effect. It happens when items (or spells, for that matter) have a very specific, strategic use that doesn't often come up in normal situations. It is related to the items Too Awesome to Use
, players will be tempted to keep them in their inventory but will never use them because — surprise! — that specific situation never arose.
The Antidote Effect is an illustration of the fact that, although game designers work very hard to implement depth, strategy, and balance into a game's various systems and mechanics, Whoring
something is often exponentially more effective.
Compare Com Mons
. Contrast Useless Item
and Useless Useful Spell
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Collectible Card Games
- In the PC version of Magic: The Gathering, there are plenty of times a specific card combo would be extremely useful... if you were to get the combo cards within the same few turns. And as the effects of the cards individually are minimal or dangerous, it's a toss-up: powerful individual cards, or combos that may never happen?
- Same with when to include Circles of Protection, which only protect against certain random encounters, and various single-color-targeting effects, such as Tsunami (bury all islands). Of course, you can combo with a card that'll rewrite "islands" to whatever land you like (or change the color of the Circle of Protection), but again, that's a rare combo, unless in the game you manage to stumble across multiple color/land-changing cards.
- The Yu-Gi-Oh! card game is a bizarre example of this; there are several cards made specifically to counter a single solitary card, most of which are either banned (which would make said counters useless items) or limited to 1, limiting their usefulness to near-0 in light of the myriad of other, better options for countering them. On the other hand, many Munchkin decks are hardly ever found without 3 copies of the card "Gravekeeper's Spy" or "Toon Table of Contents", two searcher cards that, in their own archetype deck, would work well. Why they fit into this category, however, is that most of the time, they're splashed into decks not of their archetype solely to search for their own copies and thin the deck. So, on the one hand, we've got a bunch of highly situational cards that no one uses because of this trope, and on the other, we've got another bunch of cards that, while immensely useful in their own decks, are used in a highly situational way because of this trope. Yu-Gi-Oh players are weird.
- It's basically the cyclical way Yu-Gi-Oh...and most card games work, especially in correlation to the Meta. Two decks exemplify this trope well. Dark Worlds and Burn variants (usually Chain Burn). Both decks get erratic amounts of top placement in major tournaments, while in others they're nowhere to be seen. Why? Well in normal circumstances both decks are very hard and annoying to defeat. Dark Worlds are quick, mess with your hand, can abuse Skill Drain, have a recurring 2700(3000 under their Field Spell) beater and are just generally all around annoying. Chain Burn stops you from ever getting any attacks off with a copious amount of battle stoppers, and then just sit behind them while they lay waste to your Life Points with a barrage of burn card chains, while also refilling their hand with Accumulated Fortune, and Jar of Greed/Legacy of Yata-Garasu. The problem with both of these decks is that they're HIGHLY susceptible to the side deck to the point that when properly sided against, they're dead on arrival. So when either deck scores a top placement, everyone will side against them. When that happens, they don't top again until people stop siding due to not seeing the decks again. Tl;dr, the Antidote Effect allows Dark Worlds and Chain Burn to sneak top placement at majors at least once a format.
- Battlefield 2142 features unlockable weapons—and very limited slots to put them into. Several unlocks are useful in extremly specific situations but are far outclassed by other, more generally useful unlocks.
- The AE Defuser's exceedingly limited range makes it outclassed by safer explosive removal weapons.
- The Smoke Grenades don't last long enough or provide enough smoke to provide you with sufficient concealment. Radar Grenades work exactly as well for concealment AND reveal enemy locations.
- Resident Evil:
- Resident Evil 4 has this bad on New Game+ modes, especially with unlockable weapons. The Infinite Rocket Launcher all but eliminates the need for Hand Grenades, while the PRL does the same for Photon Grenades. The Chicago Typewriter renders automatic weapons (and by association their ammo) comparatively pointless, and the Hand Cannon can punch through virtually anything, often killing it in a single shot. The yellow herbs, which increase your health cap upon use, turn your Green+Red herb mixes into incredibly shiny Vendor Trash once you max your (and Ashley's) health cap. And of course, maxing your money capacity (which admittedly takes several playthroughs) makes even Vendor Trash worthless.
- In Resident Evil 5, every weapon (barring grenades and mines, but including the Rocket Launcher) can unlock infinite ammo. And because of the chapter system, all you really have to do to get this is grind your favorite level for money and player score points. Oh, and beat the game.
- The Ur Example and Trope Maker, of course, is Dragon Quest, specifically Dragon Quest II, with its Squelch spell and antidotal herb. In this series, there's also the moonwort bulb, which cures paralysis. You won't be paralyzed often before one of your party members learns Tingle, though. And, even if you're not prepared, the status goes away after a few turns and after the battle ends!
- It subverts it with the KO status effect, though. Reviving items have a 100% chance of resurrecting a party member. The basic resurrecting spell, Zing, has a consistent chance of failing. Its 100% accurate version, Kazing, can usually only be learned by a character class that sacrifices a lot of combat effectiveness for that. So even if you actually have a party member able to cast Kazing you'll end up stocking a couple Yggdrasil Leaves on everyone else for those boss battles where every turn counts.
- Several examples from Pokémon:
- Every healing item except actual Antidotes is rendered obsolete thanks to Pokemon Centers fully healing and curing everything for free. You'll be able to save virtually every item in the game for the Elite Four.
- Pokémon Red and Blue eventually gave the player the Pokeflute item, an infinite-use cure for sleep that rendered the one-use-only Awakening item completely useless.
- Similarly, in Pokemon Ruby And Sapphire a set of volcanic glass flutes are available to cure certain status effects at will; Blue for sleep, Red for infatuation, and Yellow for confusion. The latter two are especially useful as the only means to cure those ailments (short of waiting) are single-use hold items that must be set up before the fight.
- All generations of games eventually make Full Heals available, which duplicates the effect of every status-cure item.
- The Call command in Pokémon Colosseum and XD causes a Pokémon not in Hyper or Reverse Modes to wake up from sleep or (in XD) increase their Accuracy, essentially rendering the Awakening and X Accuracy items completely useless.
- Averted in Phantasy Star III: the "Anti" spell isn't 100% effective, leaving a choice between a renewable (but not guaranteed) cure or a limited-availability, 100% effective cure.
- Present in pretty much every other Final Fantasy game, although there's still some use to carrying them around in your Hyperspace Arsenal. This applies especially to cures for poison (which may need to be cured before the healer's turn) and silence (because it would be necessary if the effect was cast on the character that knows the silence-removing spell).
- Avoided in Final Fantasy Tactics, where casting spells takes time, leaves your Priest vulnerable while casting, and is not 100% effective. The "Item" skill works immediately and always works. It remains valuable throughout the game.
- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance not only has several spells or skills available to easily get rid of most effects (especially the Paladin skill Nurse, which affects the user and nearby targets, has no cost and heals some hitpoints), it also makes you choose between being able to use items at all or using the skills from another job instead. And many status effects fade after a few turns anyway. The sequel makes item a bit more useful with Rangers being able to reverse the effect and use them to harm enemies. Unfortunately, the status effect items aren't any more reliable than job alternatives which are often either free or can hit several targets, and may have a wider range and/or deal damage, too. However, there is one job (Alchemist) which gives you Item as a third slot, leaving you able to use that, your primary class abilities, and a secondary class.
- Inverted in Final Fantasy I. For the price of learning the PURE spell, you can buy 53 Pure potions, which is more than you're likely to ever need. The situation is similar for Soft potions and the SOFT spell, plus the spell charges are better spent on EXIT or INV2.
- Played straight in the GBA and PSP remakes, which change the magic charge system to a magic point system, and the Antidote and Anti-Stone spells are comically cheap in terms of MP cost.
- In Final Fantasy VIII it is possible to use GF abilities to refine various antidotes into either magic of a similar effect, or of the affliction they would normally cure. It is also possible for the GF Siren to learn an in-combat Action Ability called "Treatment," which completely cures all status effects on a party member.
- Although the "Treatment" Ability falls even more neatly into this trope than regular antidotes. You can only equip three Action Abilities (not counting "Fight" which is permanent) and equipping "Treatment" means you've spent a slot that could be used for something else.
- Inverted in Final Fantasy XII. There is an accessory you can get a little into the game which allows curative items to inflict the status they cure, with 100% accuracy (unless the enemy is immune to that effect). Predictably, this makes the spells which actually cause these effects as their primary purpose much less useful.
- The main benefit of using healing items over spells in FFXII is that their action bar charges waaaaay faster.
- Potions in Final Fantasy XIII heal 150 HP, or 5% of your Max HP(thus only increasing in power at 3000+HP, which you won't get until the very end of the game). There's an accessory that slightly increases that but ultimately potions lose their usefulness shortly into the game when the Medic paradigm becomes available. There's arguably a use for items that cure silence, as the only way to get rid of it is to either wait it out (rarely a good idea) or use Dispelga, which removes the status effect, but also any buffs you may have.
- And Antidotes themselves are utterly worthless in this game, as poison is only dangerous if your health is extremely low due to its very slow HP drain, at which point casting Curaja is the best option.
- Funnily enough, in Final Fantasy XIII you still can use item even when you are dazed (Prevent character from acting), so you can just use Foul Liquid (Remove Daze) on yourself and get on with the battle.
- FFXIII's status-blocking accessories fall victim to this as well. The game throws them at you like they're going out of style, but each one eats up an accessory slot and only gives an inexcusable base 30% chance of blocking its associated status ailment. Combine that with the fact that status ailments aren't particularly crippling outside of certain boss fights, and you'll realize you're better off selling the accessories and just slinging Esuna around whenever statuses show up.
- The sequel, XIII-2, seems to be going out of its way to avert this with regards to Phoenix Downs. Now they grant Protect and Shell in addiction to reviving the character, something Raise won't do. There's also a new item named Phoenix Blood, which revives and grants Haste, and the only other ways to get that status effect is to either get a pre-emptive strike on an enemy or use accessories that grant it when you're low on HP.
- In Final Fantasy X, you can use items to customize your armor. 99 Echo Screens, for example, will let you customize one piece of armor to protect against Silence or one weapon to inflict silence on enemies. However, rarer items produce better effects; 99 Echo Screens gives you Silence Touch, which silences enemies sometimes, while a sufficient number of Silence Grenades gives you Silence Strike, which almost always causes silence. So they're useful for something besides the single use, which may either be Square admitting to this trope or just weaseling out of it.
- And then there's the CTB system where the next few turns can shift slightly depending on what action you use. Most of the time, items could give your character an extra turn after using the said item, making item use somewhat useful.
- A set of rare items is supposed to be used for weapon/armor customization, but the abilities they give are kind of lame. However, you can use them for Rikku's best overdrives: Trio of 9999 and Hyper Mighty G. The former makes all blows and healing do a minimum of 9999 HP damage/healing, while the latter grants the entire party Protect, Shell, Haste, Regen and Auto Life. You WILL need Hyper Mighty G when fighting some of the Monster Arena creations.
- An interesting variant occurs in Final Fantasy X where items that are already very useful can be made even better. Mega-Potions and Megalixirs restore all three of your onscreen party members when they're used in battle...but when they're used in the menu screen, they heal all seven of your characters.
- Final Fantasy XIV has various types of potions, ethers, and status curing potions which are incredibly handy for new players/players using a new class, but the items get outclassed very quickly; healers will have spells that not only restores HP in amounts far beyond what potions can heal, but they also get a spell that removes nasty status effects from a player. Granted, potions are instant use, but they have lengthy cool downs to prevent them from being spammed, which limits their overall usefulness. For example, an Elixir, which restores a few hundred HP and MP at once, requires the user to wait several minutes before they can use another or any other similar item. Spell casting is only limited by cast time and the user's remaining MP. Gold Needles are an exception since Petrification can only be cured with the use of a Gold Needle (Esuna/Leeches doesn't cure it, despite the spells being able to cure everything else).
- Potions, scrolls and otherwise useless weapons with a certain ability (like shock damage) that could come in later against an otherwise invulnerable boss in the Neverwinter Nights franchise, especially if your character is a non-magic build.
- The Baldur's Gate series of games made antidotes useful, especially in the first game. Even in the later games, the Vancian Magic and (in Throne of Bhaal) the existence of potion bags meant that every spell slot counted, so being able to carry around twenty or so antidotes in a single inventory slot was not something to sneeze at.
- Baten Kaitos Origins, an RPG with a card-based battle system, contains literally hundreds of cards with various esoteric effects, from completely restoring one character's HP (but at the cost of putting that character to sleep) to reducing the frequency with which the enemy party's turn comes up to restoring a character's HP equal to the amount of overkill damage they do. However, the normal, no-frills healing items are perfectly effective, and including a lot of extraneous situational cards is a good way to get your hand bogged down with useless junk in a critical situation. The most efficient deck setup for nearly the entire game is twenty to twenty-five basic attack cards, ten to twelve super moves, three to four healing items, and one revival item.
- Averted (mostly) in the Shin Megami Tensei series, in particular Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. Very few demons tend to learn even one status-healing spell and sometimes a limit on the number of skills a demon/persona can have, eating slots that could be saved for more important things, so such items can be quite valuable. Especially since having even a generally mild status effect like poison can mean death if caught without a status healing item.
- Avoided somewhat, and unintentionally, in Infinite Undiscovery, where having a steady supply of minor Antidote-type items stops the dumb AI allies from using the far more valuable Cure-All items on trivial statuses. They seem to do this even if they have a spell to fix the statuses in question.
- It's better to forbid them to use the valuable items altogether. The only items they really need allowed are revival items for the times when the Player Character gets Only Mostly Dead.
- Averted with Wild ARMs: Alter Code F. You can't use spells outside of battle, so if combat ends before you heal people, you're stuck using healing items.
- Culdcept is a cross between Magic: The Gathering and Monopoly. Drawing from it's MTG roots, there are quite a number of very useful if situational spells/creatures/items to draw from or creatures that have useful powers (or combos) given time to develop. However, due to the way the game works (money is mana, functionally, and only earned by rent or passing go), the strict deck building rules, and the random nature of moving around the board (you roll dice), it's usually a better idea to stick with more simple and straightforward combos.
- Kingdom of Loathing's soft green echo eyedrop antidote is a cure-all for any status effect. It's possible to perm all skills to heal status ailments, these are easy to farm and preferable to whore. There are many other items with the Antidote Effect that may be hoarded and be left unused at the end of ascension ("Why do I still have a dozen gobs of wet hair, two 8-balls, fourteen chaos butterflies, and a depantsing bomb?")
- Averted with the anti-anti-antidote, though, since there aren't any spells to remove poison that can be used during combat, and in many cases you'll want to remove the poison before the combat ends.
- Averted in the Tales Series. Since combat in the Tales games takes place in real time, magic takes several seconds to use, while items take effect instantly. Generally speaking, when you want your party members cured, you want them cured now. The best strategy is therefore to use items in battle, and spells outside it when casting time doesn't matter, so that you can keep those items for when you really need them.
- Grade complicates this, though. Using items to heal yourself in battle can reduce the amount of grade you get, but letting the battle finish while someone is poisoned is bad for your grade too.
- Similarly averted in Seiken Densetsu 3. Not only are items used instantly, they can also compensate if your party is missing an important spell.
- Played straight in the first Kingdom Hearts. The Cure spell can be cast literally dozens of times without having to refuel your magic points, so all your health-healing Potions are pretty much worthless.
- Averted in Kingdom Hearts II, however. Now, a single cast of the Cure spell takes every magic point you have, making Potions much more valuable.
- Also averted in the side-story 358/2 Days. All magic, Cure included, basically function exactly like items, so neither reigns supreme. The game does introduce status effects, though, which can only be healed by items. It should be noted that the uses of magic can be multiplied, whereas the uses of items cannot, so magic is still more plentiful than items.
- Averted again in Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance. Both games make use of the Command Deck for abilities and items, not unlike an ATB bar but just for abilities. Cure Spells and the like require recharge, however Potions and other Items require no recharge. Not only do you not have to worry about not having a Cure Spell available in the middle of a hectic boss fight (unless you simply run out of Potions) you can make use of more Command Deck slots, rather than using extra slots for extra Cure Spells (you get 5 Potions per slot). Also mighty handy during a certain boss fight in Birth by Sleep. The Secret Boss Fight, Vanitas Sentiment, will COPY any Cure Spell you throw out. So if you decide to lay down a Curaga to heal up, Vanitas will just copy it and heal himself. However he'll do no such thing when it comes to Items. They're pretty much your only way to survive that fight.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, when a character gets knocked out, he or she wakes up with an injury that penalizes a random stat until cured with a rare Injury Kit, if you've found or made one recently...or for free with Cleansing Aura at will. The Aura user can't heal her own injuries, however.
- The sequel has injury kits drop much more frequently (you'll rarely have less than 10 before the last sections of the game, especially since any injuries are healed just by going to Hawke's house, unless playing on the hardest difficulty with a poorly organized party), but considering the fact that you could theoretically have a party with no mages, the lyrium potions become so much free, overabundant cash. The same could be said for the stamina potions in a party with three mages and a single tank. A Mage Hawke with the Spirit Healer specialisation has access to the Second Chance passive ability, which makes party members immune to injuries. Given that Hawke must always be in the party, this applies the Antidote Effect to injury kits.
- In Dokapon Kingdom Trap Dodgers are this. The purpose of a Trap Dodger is to automatically negate a trap when one lands on one. Traps can only placed by players and their effects are random, ranging from a small amount of damage to a easily cured random status effect. Players can only carry 6-10 items at a time depending on class, a Trap Dodger would take up a slot and can only be used once. Thus Trap Dodgers are almost never used because they take up valuable inventory space, trap effects are easily dealt with, and traps are rarely used.
- In Exit Fate, you don't have a Bag of Sharing for items in combat, so you can only equip each party member with two items they can use - there are several status effects, many of which are rather devastating, so you probably won't cover everything. On the other hand, your supply if available magics is shared, so as long as you've purchased a few and you have the MP, you can save yourself fairly easily.
- Avoided in Resonance of Fate, where the ONLY way to cure poison is to use an item or wait it out, and poison in this game is incredibly dangerous. In fact, most of the time the antidote is useless because by the time you're able to cure yourself with it, it's already done a tremendous amount of non-regenerating health. The best option is really to never let yourself get hit by poison attacks.
- Avoided in the first four DotHackR1Games. There are exactly two healing items, each healing approximately 6 out of 12 status ailments that can be inflicted to you. Also, higher level dungeons start having enemies that do cast those ailments to you so not bringing any is actually foolish (and suicidal). This game also notably averts Useless Useful Spell with regards to status ailments, but that's for another trope entry.
- The Disgaea series features "Fairy Dust", a cheap item that removes status effects. It's rendered almost entirely useless once you get a character with access to the "Espoir" spell which does the same thing, and like all spells can be cast at a long range over a wide area with advancement. Technically it could be useful if you are on a map with lots of Silence Geo Effects, but that's probably not common enough to require carrying one (and Geo Effects never happen on your base panel, so there's always at least one safe place to cast from).
- In The Legend of Dragoon there are some nasty status effects that do not go away after battle and magic is rare. This ought to make items more useful, except for the fact that the player has a paltry 32 inventory slots and nothing stacks. This leaves very little spare room for situational items and so if a particularly nasty enemy manages to poison two of your team members then you may be better off simply reloading your last save.
- Radiant Historia has this pretty badly with its status-curing items. Who's going to spend even a paltry 50 G on an Antidote (which may or may not be useful in any given battle) when the money could instead be put toward items that restore characters' MP (which is pretty much guaranteed to be useful in any given battle and can more often than not be used to cure the status effect anyway)? For the status effects that outright prevent characters from acting (Sleep, Paralysis, etc.), it might be useful to have a few items to get rid of them in case the character with the curative spell gets hit by the status effect, but since MP-restoring items in this game are relatively easy to come by and most of the status-curing spells are very cheap to cast, Antidotes and the like end up either simply staying in your inventory just because (there are virtually no limitations on inventory size) or used as Vendor Trash.
- In Morrowind, curing diseases can be done via spells, scrolls, potions or at shrines. At a certain point in the main quest, you become immune to diseases, rendering these potions and scrolls vendor trash (and earlier if you pick up the rather cheap spell). Similar for the four types of teleportation spells; they can be used via enchanted items or scrolls, but in the long run it's cheaper and more convenient to just buy the spells and sell any such items you pick up.
- The same cure disease spell is available in Oblivion as an alternative to potions.
- Likewise in Skyrim, where an easy enchantment renders all those Cure Disease potions useless. You can also become either a werewolf or a vampire, both of which grant extra awesome powers and full disease immunity.
- Parasite Eve averts the trope. You have one ability that removes poison and another that can remove everything, but costs a bit of parasite energy to use (using too much parasite energy in battle greatly reduces its recharge rate). Items that cure status ailments are plentiful to find and they also have a secondary use; using a curative item while you are healthy will grant you immunity to that status effect once. The sequel uses the same system for items as well.
- Inverted in Skies of Arcadia, where somewhere around the first dungeon (or earlier if you get lucky with random drops) you will gain access to a skill that protects your entire party from magic for a turn that is inexpensive enough to be used every turn. It also blocks your own magic, but items work just fine. Furthermore, the game's battle system uses a party-wide resource bar for special attacks and spells, but items do not consume this bar, so you're indirectly increasing your damage by using items instead of spells. Finally, the game throws money at you, especially during the later half, and healing items are always inexpensive.
- Shining Force gives you four inventory slots per character, one of which is taken up by their weapon. Any poisoned character takes 2 damage at the end of each round, regardless of level or health. On your absolute weakest character at the lowest possible level, this amounts to only 1/5 of their HP. You start the games with a Healer that learns Detox at very low levels, and poison can be cured in any town between fights for less than the cost of one Antidote.