Whoa! Look at that awesome new sword — it has twice the attack of your second best sword, so it must
be the Infinity+1 Sword
, right? Of course it — Hey! It just broke in the next cutscene! Apparently it was Awesome But Temporary.
You see, there are three requirements for a weapon (or armor or shield or spell or...) to be Awesome But Temporary:
- It must be clearly better than anything else you have by a significant amount.
- No matter what, the plot will require that it be broken, lost, stolen, sacrificed, etc... or, at least, the dev team planned it that way.
- If you do get it back, either it will be much weaker than when you first had it, or late enough in the game that it's only slightly better than (or even weaker than) your other equipment.
By definition, there will be spoilers
in this trope.
Compare Guest Star Party Member
. If you start the game with it, but lose it in the first act, that's A Taste of Power
. It might be that the part where you get it is remembered as the Best Level Ever
- You obtain the Black Sword/Deathbringer for Cecil just after Fabul in Final Fantasy IV. This sword has a chance to cause Instant Death on any of the normal enemies you encounter, until he changes class into a paladin. Then, it's gone forever if it was equipped to Cecil at the time, and even if you knew this was coming and de-equipped it, none of your characters can use it any more.
- In the first of Final Fantasy Legend's four worlds, you pick up a powerful sword that has ~50% chance of outright slaying any enemy with a weakness, a piece of armor that resists every element and has 2.5 times the power of the world's second best armor, and a shield that blocks every single attack when used. Naturally, you have to part with them to advance, and you don't find comparable equipment until at least the third world.
- In Final Fantasy VII, Aerith's Great Gospel is a pain to get, but is probably the best Limit Break in the game, and certainly obtained much sooner than the other Level 4 Limit Breaks. Her Princess Guard staff is also pretty sweet, being essentially an endgame level weapon obtained less than half way through the game. And then she dies.
- A variation in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. The Crimson Blitz was shown during the opening cinematic, but was then broken by Lumina. What you get is a broken sword that's your starting gear. However, doing an optional sidequest in the last dungeon will award you the Ultima Weapon, which is the sword brought back to its full strength. The trope comes when the player goes for New Game+: They can carry every weapon from the first playthrough except the Ultima Weapon, and they have to do the final quest again to reobtain it if they so wish tonote .
- In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion's starting quest, you can loot not one but two Akaviri Katanas from fallen allies, and they're about 50% stronger than the second best sword you can get that early. Unfortunately, they get removed near the end of the quest.
- Later in Oblivion, you can get the Boots of Spring-Heeled Jack, which raises your acrobatics by a whopping 50 points! Too bad that the developers intended you lose it in the next quest (although there are a few workarounds).
- You get a mighty bazooka for the first battle of Secret of Evermore which does around 200 or so damage per hit. Afterwards, you lose it and you're stuck using a bone and doing a mere 20 damage. Then about 3/4 of the way through the game, you get it another identical bazooka... and only one shell with no way to buy more. You finally get the ability to buy shells at the very last "town" area before the Final Boss.
- In Sword of Vermilion, you find the stolen spellbook Sanguios, which heals you to full HP and costs only 2 MP. For reference, the only other healing spell available at that point, Sangua, heals 60 HP and costs 6 MP. Then you learn that the spellbook was stolen from a king. It does allow you a great opportunity to grind your level for a while, however. No one said you had to return the book in a hurry.
- StarCraft II's single player campaign is packed with these. Giant drilling laser you can turn against your enemies? Nigh-unstoppable super robot? Gone after that mission is over.
- In Warcraft III's campaign, this happens many times:
- Arthas gains Frostmourne, a sword that deals devastating Chaos damage for the last mission of the human campaign. He never has this ability again, in the later campaigns or the Expansion Pack, even though it is an important plot point that he is still using the exact same sword.
- During one mission in the orc campaign, your regular Orcs become the much more powerful Chaos Orcs (Grom Hellscream included) who also deal Chaos damage (neccesary to beat a boss immune to every other kind of damage). Not only you never get to control Chaos Orcs again, but you have to fight against them later
- During the only mission you get Illidan, he'll get a permanent Demon Form which is DEVASTATING (regular demon form only last 60 seconds). Like the Orc campaign, chaos damage is needed to defeat a boss as well.
- Apart from the campaign, several summons (and summoning items) exist, with a duration of anywhere from thirty seconds to three minutes.
- Yet another Blizzard example are the weapons in the World of Warcraft raid Tempest Keep: The Eye, which has four weapons and shields which are way better than anything available at that level, but are not able to be used outside of that raid as they will disintegrate.
- City of Heroes hands out quite a few Temporary Powers in its various arcs, all either limited in duration or in number of uses. How awesome they are varies widely according to the character that gets them, but some, like the powers that do "Special" type damage to particular enemies, are VERY useful as long as you're in the correct level range. A shining example is the Divining Rod, which does a truly absurd amount of damage to Ghosts, yet comes with only 20 charges and gets taken away after a single mission.
- Dark Cloud - You get a sword that doesn't disappear when broken until you fight a mini-boss, so you can theoretically grind the sword up to absurd levels before fighting said boss.
- Tales of Vesperia gives us the mighty Dein Nomos, which allows Yuri to learn the Guardian Field Arte, as well as his Mystic Arte, and grants an excellent bonus to all stats except HP and TP. Duke takes it back not long after you borrow it.
- In the first major dungeon in Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos, it is possible to acquire a weapon that adds somewhere around +40 to your attack stat (for comparison's sake, most of the other weapons you have access to at that point in the game are in the range of +7 to +15 or so). At the end of the dungeon, you must give it to the reclusive oracle who makes his home there if you want to advance the plot. Much later in the game, you can find the same weapon available for sale in a blacksmith's shop for the ridiculous sum of 3,000 Crowns (about ten times more than what any other weapon in that area costs, and more than you're likely to have on hand at the time). By then, however, you will have picked up considerably stronger weapons along the way—plus, if you do buy it from him, he won't buy it back!
- RuneScape: At the end of "While Guthix Sleeps", you get to use the Stone of Jas to boost all your stats to insane levels during a fight scene, but Lucien steals the Stone and the boost wears off as soon as the fight ends.
- In Cobra Mission, you start out with a 44 Magnum with seemingly unlimited ammo. Unfortunately, it turns out that the ammo is only unlimited until you finish the numerous mooks attacking you in the first battle. After that fight, you run out of bullets and don't find any more that fit that gun until more than halfway through the game (and even then in limited supply), forcing you to find and use other weapons for most battles.
- In Rayman 2, Rayman at one point gains the ability to fly (rather than just glide down) with his Helicopter Hair, but he loses it again just before that level's Boss Fight.
- Majora's Mask has the Razor Sword, which breaks in exactly 100 swings, but has double the power of your standard sword. Even if you don't break it, you'll lose it when you go back in time. There's a complicated sidequest to upgrade it further into the Gilded Sword, which is just as strong, but permanent.
- In Lufia & The Fortress of Doom, you obtain the Dual Blade remarkably early in the game, and it outclasses every other weapon up to that point ... but it ends up being broken in a later encounter.
- In Star Ocean, you are tasked to rid a castle armory of a monster infestation. You can borrow the powerful weapons and armor in there, but have to give them back (one of your characters mentions her disappointment at not being able to keep them) once you leave. Item Crafting features heavily in the game, though, and the two swords you get there can be crafted into something even more powerful. If you do upgrade them while you have them, you don't have to return them; otherwise, they are Lost Forever. This is, in fact, the only way to get the game's true Infinity+1 Sword - the other "best" sword that you can craft later actually heals the final boss because he absorbs at least one of the elements it uses.
- In the second Star Ocean game, protagonist Claude starts out with a powerful energy pistol that gives him access to a special attack that can casually one-shot pretty much every enemy you encounter at the start of the game. Come the first actual plot dungeon and it runs out of power, never to be recharged, mentioned or used again.
- The "Saints Flow" energy drink in Saints Row: The Third embodies this trope. It basically turns you into Superman, but it's only available in a single DLC mission. Once you finish the mission and it's worn off, that's it.
- In the early Dungeons & Dragons module Castle Amber, the party has to acquire "The Enchanted Sword of Sylaire" as part of a set of items in order to escape the realm of Averoigne where they've been trapped. Said sword is a sword +3,+5 vs undead and automatically (no save) slays any undead enemy on a roll of 18 or better on the d20 attack die with additional powers which puts it on the level of a minor artifact. The adventure is designed for levels 3-6 who will typically be packing +1 or at best +2 weapons with no special bonuses at that point. Unfortunately the ritual to escape has the side effect of shattering all the components including the sword into thousands of shards...
- The Ingram, Colt Commando and to a lesser extent the Jackhammer from the first Max Payne; not quite as extreme as some of these examples, but there's a significant interval between picking them up for the first time and your next opportunity to scrounge more ammunition for them from fallen enemies; the Jackhammer in particular has virtually none to be found lying around, though you have to be spamming it pretty hard to run out of it completely. Reloads for the M79 and Sniper Rifle are similarly rare, but they're situational enough that they don't really come under this trope.
- In the Yu-Gi-Oh! video game Yu-Gi-Oh: World Championship 2011: Over the Nexus, you get three really powerful cards during the Final Battle of the main storyline by a divine force, "Ally of Justice Decisive Armor", "Trident Dragion" and "Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier". But after you win the duel, you lose them. (You can gain them again later, however, by unlocking the appropriate packs in game store, but that is not possible until after the main storyline is completed.)
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has the Giant's Knife. It's laughably flimsy, although you do get the better, unbreakable version in the form of the Biggoron's Sword.
- Half-Life 2: The Dark Energy Gravity Gun. Easily the most useful weapon in the entire game, but you only get it while in the Citadel.
- Borderlands 2: A number of missions have weapons that you receive only for the duration of the mission, and you lose them when you turn the mission in. Most of the time said weapons are at least as good, if not better, than whatever you'd usually have at that point in the game. Unfortunately, the only way to hang on to them is to never complete the mission, which prevents you from getting the reward or any further missions from that quest giver. A particularly well-known example is the Grog Nozzle from the Tiny Tina DLC: it heals you in proportion to the damage it does. Needless to say, a lot of players simply don't complete the mission in order to hang onto it.
- Django starts Boktai 2 with the overpowered Gun Del Sol he had in the first game. It annihilates anything it touches in one shot but very promptly gets swiped and beaten to hell by a vampire. By the time you get it back it is still overpowered but with such terrible MP consumption it's only good for about three shots before it's empty.
- Burnout 3 had "preview" races where the player and the competition have much faster cars than they would normally have at that point of the game.
- In older editions of Dungeons and Dragons, Drow equipment was enchanted using a special magical energy ("faerzress") that existed only in the Underdark. This stuff tended to give bonuses at least half again as good as a normal enchanted item of equivalent gp value... With the minor side effect that it would turn to dust the first time sunlight touches it. Hence it was this in spades for surface-based adventurers.
- Well worth mentioning playable characters example. In the beginning of Tales of the Abyss, right upon defeating the Cheagle Woods boss, Jade Curtiss joins the party, being level 40 at the time (with your party less than 10), having most of his high-level spells totally usable and wiping enemies off without a glimpse. But only untill you try to exit said woods, when he has your party arrested and taken aboard the Tartarus. By the time he rejoins he is no higher a level than your current party and, sadly, has his skills taken away, due to being sealed. Which doesn't make him less badass though.
- Dungeons & Dragons Online has at least two quests in which one goal is to retrieve an impressive weapon. Once recovered, you can use it during the quest; but after exiting, the first thing you do is return it to its rightful owner.