- Lacks functionality compared to other aspects of the game.
- Does not work properly in the context of gameplay, often struggling to complete basic tasks other characters easily do, in the case of an extra character, or not meshing well with the rest of the game (in the case of bonus levels or items).
- Is simply a Palette Swap or Underground Monkey Clone of an existing object.
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- The Legend of Zelda:
- In Ocarina of Time:
- The final reward for the Gold Skulltula sidequest is an unlimited supply of money. By that point, you have almost no use for it.
- The Ice Arrows serve no purpose except to freeze enemies (an action you can do with other items that don't require depleting your magic meter); even if they had an use, it's obtained very late because it requires items housed in end-game dungeons. The game even lampshades this via a Gossip Stone located in Desert Colossus. Majora's Mask promotes the Ice Arrows to a plot-important item, but as a result they're no longer an extra one to begin with.
- In Majora's Mask:
- The final Great Fairy treasure is the Awesome, but Impractical Great Fairy Sword, and you may already have upgraded to the more practical Gilded Sword by this time. And its status as a C-equipped weapon makes it trickier to use than the B-equipped standard sword.
- The Fierce Deity's Mask. You can only use it against the five main bosses (though some glitches give the possibility of extending its use in the overworld), and it doesn't have as many features as the usual transformation masks, so shooting little energy discs from the sword against the few enemies you can use it against gets old in a hurry. Also, because you must have gotten all the masks in the game to get it, you already had to beat all but the final boss.
- The Bombchus in The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Seasons are only acquired as a bonus after starting a New Game+, are not particularly useful at any point in the game, and cannot be restocked through drops from defeated enemies.
- The HD remake of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker turns the Hero's Charm as this, since it's gotten there at the end of the Savage Labyrinth instead of Windfall Island. And the Labyrinth is where the Charm would be otherwise very useful to check the HP of the stronger enemies to know how much is left for their defeat.
- Twilight Princess: Getting all the Poe Souls rewards you a Silver Rupee (200 rupees) every time you ask... but by then, Link has already beaten seven dungeons and The Cave of Ordeals to get those souls, filling up his wallet along the way. By comparison, the earlier reward of getting a bottle full of Great Fairy's Tears seems much better. It's Not Completely Useless, though, since rupees also serve as fuel for your Magic Armor.
- In Ocarina of Time:
- Almost every Castlevania game from the Metroidvania group has an unlockable mode where you play as another character. While playing through the game again as another completely different character is fun, it still counts for the trope to some people as the unlockable characters can't do most of what the main character can (e.g. can't collect or use items, can't level up sometimes, and doesn't have a pause menu, even for changing controls or sound options).
- Old Axe Armor in Portrait of Ruin is a solo character instead of a team of two, has only two special moves (one of which is used solely for navigation), and is simply a Palette Swap of an existing enemy. However, it is very likely this was intentional.
- Symphony of the Night: Richter mode, Maria mode in the PSP version (she's actually easier to play as than Alucard in the Saturn one)
- Harmony of Dissonance: Maxim mode
- Aria of Sorrow: Julius mode
- Dawn of Sorrow: Julius mode (has its own cutscenes, and the characters can gain levels)
- Portrait of Ruin: Sisters mode (prequel to the main story), Richter/Maria mode, Old Axe Armor mode
- Order of Ecclesia: Albus mode
- Curse of Darkness: Trevor mode (probably the most thorough one out of all the bonus characters gameplaywise, as he improves his stats via collectible items, can equip different whips, has selectable subweapons as well as Item Crashes, and a moveset almost as large as Leon but a lot flashier)
- Lament of Innocence: Joachim mode (no item inventory, orbs have no effect, making the reward for defeating the Bonus Boss a Cosmetic Award). There's also Pumpkin (uses the same moveset as Leon but has an unique subweapon which mixes and matches Leon's subweapons).
- Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness rewards you with an admittedly cool scenario for beating the game once: you play as Henry, the child Cornell rescued and Stealth Mentored, who has now grown up to be quite badass and out to save some captive children. Beat that mission, however, and you're "rewarded" with the option to play the original Castlevania 64. Hooray.
- Metroid Prime 3: Corruption had some unlockables, such as bumper stickers and a Mii bobblehead for Samus's gunship, that were only made available by trading friend vouchers over the internet. The limited-edition Trilogy version of the game also had friend vouchers, but Trilogy vouchers could only be sent to other copies of Trilogy; you couldn't send vouchers to or from regular copies of Corruption. Subsequently, since the servers shut down in June 2013 due to the Wii's production life ending, it's now impossible for anyone to unlock the friend-voucher features if they haven't yet done so. Fortunately, some people have uploaded new save files that have all the vouchers.
- Luigis Mansion: What do you unlock for beating the game? A hidden mansion! What happens in said mansion? Well, the ghosts and Poltergust are stronger... and that's it. Averted in the non-American versions of the game, which featured more changes. It's impossible to get the best rank without playing the Hidden Mansion, for one thing, because the normal mansion doesn't have enough money. It also mirrors the entire game, ramps up the difficulty (ghosts deal more damage and there are fewer hearts), changes some of the puzzles a little, switches the money and gem locations all over the house, and retools some of the boss encounters, varying from mild variations in their attack pattern to the entirely different Boolosus fight, which has the whole floor covered in ice so that Luigi has to ride the Poltergust to "snowboard" across the arena.
- In the PlayStation 2 version, Joe Musashi can be unlocked as a playable character, his bonus being that he has unlimited shurikens and no life draining tate bar. The pro to this is that you don't have to worry about getting huge combos to keep your life and damage enemies, and you can just continually chuck shurikens at some hard to kill enemies. The downside is that there are some bosses that pretty much require you to get huge combos in order to defeat them in a timely fashion; however, you can also chuck shurikens at them continually. A perfect beginner character... only you don't get him until you've gotten 40 Oboro coins, which is only possible if you had already beaten the game once on Normal and again on Hard.
- He's improved upon in Nightshade. His unlimited shurikens now have the ability to perform Tate combos and can break armor, which gives him a distinct advantage over Hotsuma (one of the two other hidden characters), who needs to get up close to do it with his superior slashing power.
- Some other things to note. Hotsuma has the weakest sword strike but average speed, defense, and magic. He doesn't lose energy to his sword like Moritsune. Moritsune has the most speed and power, but the worst defense and second strongest magic. Joe Musashi has the slowest speed, but the second strongest sword and the most powerful magic; he also doesn't lose energy to Akujiki and has unlimited Shurikens. He's there to beat the game on Super difficulty if you need it.
- Unlocking all the options in Ghostbusters: The Video Game essentially makes your character unbeatable, but most of them are acquired after clearing the game completely anyway. Especially useless is the option that gives your PKE meter a faster scanning ability, but only after you've already scanned 50% of the enemies anyway. Even worse is that the "Gozerian suit" is unlocked with 100% completion (scans AND art, plus beating the game) and it only serves to make you immune to slime. The actual invincibility upgrade is obtained much earlier, where being slimed is of little consequence.
- The US and EU versions of Dirge of Cerberus had the 'bonus content' of letting Vincent Double Jump... Which does absolutely nothing at all, since the level design is the same as the JP version where Vincent couldn't, and isn't designed to take this new, truly awe-inspiring, ability into account. About the only thing it does is make the Insurmountable Waist High Fence even more annoying, since you should now be able to clear enough distance to leap right over the sucker, but can't for some reason.
- Did you know that Devil May Cry 3 has a two player mode? Did you know that it's also utterly worthless? When Dante is using Doppelganger style, or fighting alongside Vergil during Mission 19, a second player can press start on a second controller to play as Shadow Dante or Vergil. However, they are then subjected to extreme Camera Screw, because the camera only focuses on Dante, leaving P2 attacking only empty air off screen.
- Getting an S-Rank on every mission of Urban Reign nets you Bordin, the corrupt Mayor who is behind all of the game's events. As he's not a real fighter though, he has mediocre moves, awful stats and no assets to offset this.
- The final unlockable course of F-Zero GX is Mute City: Sonic Oval, a beginner-level course that consists of a NASCAR-style oval. It's not even used in the AX Cup; you can only play it in Time Attack, Practice, and multiplayer. It's also on the wrong place in the AX Cup course listing; in F-Zero AX, it's the first course in the list rather than the last.
- Finding all wrecks in an area in Test Drive Unlimited 2 grants you a free car if you have the garage space for it. The first wreck you assemble is a Volkswagen Beetle. A C4-class car (Which means you can actually enter it into some competitions, unlike the B2-class V8 Buggy you find next) with a top speed that can only exceed 85mph with massive tuning or the much simpler method of driving it off a cliff. At least the V8 Buggy you get from the next ten wrecks is useful for exploring. Another 10 gets you The Citroen 2CV (also C4 class), even worse than Beetle. It tops out at about 70 mph, even after tuning. Then again, what do you expect from a car with only 18 horsepower?
- Mario Kart 7 has a few unlockable gliders you can earn. However, some of them are just a copy of the Super Glider in terms of stats, basically giving no bonus, and the rest are just a copy of the Peach Parasol in its bonus stats. This also includes all the golden parts that take so long to get, even if used together.
- The NES version of Knight Rider allows you to start with maxed out shields/gas/acceleration in Mission mode if you complete the Driving mode twice and play the Mission campaign. However, due to a Game-Breaking Bug, the game will crash at the upgrade screen before the Miami mission.
- II had secret characters Berserker, Assassin, and Lizardman, unlockable only through special means in the Weapon Master Mode. The kicker is that they can't be used in most game modes (including Weapon Master itself), and their moveset lists are inaccessible from the start menu like every other character. Additionally, they only have one weapon each, but they all have six costumes when two or three is the standard. This is especially aggravating because to unlock Lizardman, you needed to beat every stage in Weapon Master Mode, including the ridiculously hard bonus stages, and the fact that he was a full-fledged character in the first Soul Calibur (Alongside Hwang and Rock, whose movesets were adapted into Assassin's and Berserker's). This is slightly made up for due to the fact that Lizardman and Rock become full-fledged characters again in Soul Caliburs III and IV (And V in Lizardman's case).
- Li Long from Soul Blade reappears in Soul Calibur III...as a bonus character using a moveset usually reserved for created characters. He's expanded in Soul Calibur III Arcade Edition, but fans still felt cheated. In a similar manner, Hwang and Amy also appear as bonus characters who use generic movesets. Whilst Li Long and Hwang went from being unique characters to being generic, Amy went from being generic to being a unique character of her own in Soul Calibur IV, meaning that this trope was reversed.
- Soul Edge/Soul Blade has a ridiculous one: Go to all the trouble of beating Edge Master Mode (the game's notoriously hard Story Mode) with every character and you are rewarded with a bonus character called Sophitia!!, who is Sophitia without armor.
- The first game has the game Galaga remade for its loading screen. Beating all 8 levels simply rewards you with a differently suited version of Kazuya known as Devil Kazuya. Due to technical limitations, he really is just Kazuya in a purple suit, with none of the functionality of the Devil of later games (though the implication is that he is the same guy). Many players don't even bother. Many hadn't even seen him in action until Youtube came along. Interestingly, if you unlock Heihachi (who has to be unlocked by beating the game without losing), his matches will all be against Sub-Bosses, with the final boss being Devil Kazuya, but you don't unlock him this way. It's quite likely you were supposed to, but the game developers overlooked it.
- Despite everyone else — including Downloadable Content characters — having a vast array of customization options and an ending in the home port of Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Tiger Jackson does not.
- In Bloody Roar 4, there is Career Mode, in which you have to battle multitudes of rounds among the same characters over and over while gradually progressing through a very tedious and confusing map. As a certain game reviewer points out, among the other flaws this game has that seems all the more clear it's aimed to revive the series, the map can be fully completed and yet still leaves you with well over 800 more fights you must do in order to unlock the Very Definitely Final Hidden Character (everyone else is mercifully much easier and sooner to unlock and you will get everyone else long before you complete the map). So you have to fight repeat battles to make up the difference, and, guess what? The final unlockable character turns out to be Ryoho. No, not Ryoho & Mana, the Ice Climbers to the Bloody Roar series you get right from the get-go, but Ryoho-the-incredibly-cheap-guard-cutting-Gaia-pisser-offer-dragon. Not only is he an incredibly cheap character to fight against as a boss, but also just as cheap as he is under your command and otherwise not terribly different from Ryoho as a human from the Ryoho you get with Mana. Not to mention there are already a few other characters that are already unlocked for you early on that are also just as cheap and overpowered. Of course, this is assuming anyone bothered to go ahead and fight those repeated battles just to get that far to see Dragon!Ryoho.
First Person Shooter
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has "Spec Ops" mode, a series of brief co-op missions unrelated to the main plot or each other. Spec Ops itself isn't the Bonus Feature Failure, but rather its conspicuous lack of a matchmaking function, meaning it is the only multiplayer gametype in the entire series that can only be played split-screen or by specifically inviting another player.
- In Master of Magic, the best quest rewards were: extra masteries, extra spell books, rescue of an elite hero, or an elite item. If you had the maximum number of spellbooks, heroes, and masteries, the game was forced to give you some crap like an Item of Lame.
- In Civilization V, the Iroquois unique ability, The Great Warpath allows you to traverse between forests and jungles as if they were roads but that feature only works if you traverse through the forests and jungles, entering them still requires full movement points making this bonus virtually useless. Another downside is that forests do not really provide that much food for your own city thus making growth difficult. Their unique building, the longhouse also lacks the scaling production bonus effect in favor of a measle production bonus on forest tiles meaning that for the longhouse to work, you need to keep almost all of the forests alive meaning your cities will rarely grow tall. All in all, they are one of the few civilizations whose bonuses directly detriments the civilization growth.
Hack And Slash
- Warriors Orochi 2... There's a HUGE roster of officers to unlock, and while several of them have suspiciously similar movesets, each of them is, at least, a BIT original. However, the hardest character to unlock, by an order of magnitude, is Orochi Z - his appearance in your roster basically signifies that you have achieved 100% Completion and then some. (You have to spend DAYS just grinding levels, well after you have finished completing every scenario on every difficulty, to unlock the last Dream Scenario - and then beat that to unlock Orochi Z.)
- Now, Orochi Z is basically the Final Boss, so that's awesome. He's not JUST a Palette Swap of Orochi either, having different hair. However... firstly, he's doesn't have his own set of weapons, like everybody else does - he just uses the same set as Orochi. Second, his moveset is less than half the size of anybody else, and he never learns new moves - though, granted, those few moves he DOES have are pretty powerful. Finally, every other character has a series of artwork - various design-sketches, posed character-models, screenshots from cutscenes they're in and the like - that are unlocked as you use them. Orochi Z has none. So effectively, once you've taken him into combat ONCE to check out all 3 of his moves, there's literally no point in ever using him again - especially since, by that point, you've already done basically everything in the game.
- In the video game adaptation of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Isildur can be unlocked as a bonus character, after only being playable in the Prologue tutorial level. But the game will treat him as a re-skin of Aragorn, since he will play literally every role Aragorn played in the levels, and even the dialogue and voice files will be the same.
Particularly egregious is the fact that Isildur's version of the "Tower of Orthanc" Bonus Stage has the same script as Aragorn's version, down to Saruman referring to him as a "ragtag Ranger".
- In the The Lord Of The Rings: The Return of the King game, completing the game unlocked Merry, Pippin, and Faramir as playable characters. However, Faramir was just a skin swap of Aragorn and all four Hobbits were essentially skin swaps of each other (with Pippin and Merry basically being clones of Sam).
What's more: When you finish all the levels in the game, you can play as any of the nine characters in all the levels, even where they weren't initially present. The problem? If they weren't originally meant for that level, the cutscenes won't even render them properly. The role the original character played in cutscenes will be taken by an invisible entity (though the original character's voice is still heard), while the player's character will just stand around somewhere in the background.
Also, the characters will very rarely have any specifically recorded dialogue for levels they weren't originally in (Gandalf's narrations not withstanding). Instead, the dialogue spoken by the character they replaced will be totally removed from gameplay, although lines of dialogue directly addressing the original character will still be used throughout the level. This can leave dialogue completely one-sided, as well as confusing, in certain levels.
One notable moment is that both Éowyn and Merry have to be protected during the "Pelennor Fields" level, even when the player has selected Merry as their character.
- In Shadow the Hedgehog, there are hidden keys in every level that, once you get them all, unlock a secret door for that level. While most of the doors have powerful weapons or enable shortcuts, the door in Lost Impact gives you an armored car... in a close-walled, cramped space station level. And you can't even take it very far, as there are walls you have to spin dash under, and rail segments where the car can't go, almost immediately after you get the prize. In fact, most of the unlockable weapons/secret doors are like this in Shadow. Particularly egregious are the secret doors for Westopolis (similar to Lost Impact, it gives you a bad-controlling lowrider with no special weapon which you get 75% of the way through the level) and Lethal Highway (a minigun with 80 ammo, which is pathetic if you were hoping for a More Dakka rampage). Additionally, the weapons you unlock for completing certain endings are extremely Nerfed Infinity Minus One Swords, particularly the Omochao Gun and Vacuum Gun, which are powerful but have a laughable ammunition capacity (even when levelled up!) that hardly makes it worth the effort. Also, getting an A rank on every stage would unlock a mode wherein you kept going through the stages, one after the other, without stopping. By that point, though, you've probably played through all the levels so many times, there isn't any point to playing them all in a row.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2 lets you play as Tails, who is identical to Sonic in every way except he can't go into super form. Sonic 3 does the same with Knuckles. He was playable in its multiplayer but got no abilities while Tails could fly, putting the fox into Game Breaker status. Locking Sonic 3 on Sonic & Knuckles still doesn't give Knuckles any abilities despite the fact that he has extra powers in singleplayer. This is especially bad because Knuckles ''has'' the proper chibi-sprites for gliding and climbing in Competition mode, even in Sonic 3 alone.
- Sonic Adventure DX has Metal Sonic as the all-emblems reward. However, he is identical to Sonic in every way, and can only be used in Trial Mode. What's worse is that he only flies at medium speed, switching back to running at maximum speed, so you don't even get that. He also gets his own emblems to collect, but nothing happens if you collect them all.
- In an odd example, Sonic Advance 2 let you unlock the Tiny Chao Garden by meeting certain conditions in the game... Even though the first Sonic Advance had the exact same mode available from the start. Amy being the final unlockable isn't impressive either. In the first Advance, her slow, non-rolling moveset greatly changed how you had to handle the game, but here she plays just like everyone else.
- In Mega Man X8, the navigators Alia, Palette, and Layer are unlockable as playable characters. They are basically clones of X, Axl, and Zero, respectively; however, Alia cannot get X's capsule upgrades and Palette cannot copy enemies. You also have to purchase all of X, Axl, and Zero's purchasable upgrades a second time in order to access them on Alia, Palette, and Layer. Additionally, using even one of them when running a stage will forbid you from choosing a navigator for that stage.
- Vile's mode in Mega Man X Maverick Hunter X is one of the "can't do the whole game" variety. Although you get to go through the first couple of fortress levels after the eight bosses and beat Bospider and Rangda Bangda, at the end of the third fortress stage, you fight X and Zero instead. After beating them, you get the ending for Vile's alternate story, so there's no D-Rex to fight, and no battle with Velgauder or Sigma. On the plus side, afterwards you can go through the game again with unlimited power to select any weapons you want.
- X3 is the first game in the series that allows you to play as Zero. However, you can only call on him once per stage, and he automatically switches back to X when he reaches a boss door (with one exception). So you can only play as him for 1/3 of any given level, and he can't be used for bosses or mini-bosses. Oh, and he has only one life, so if you die once using him, he's Lost Forever. And he doesn't get any special weapons or upgrades. You do need him to access a special upgrade for X late in the game though (even if it is a bit of a Guide Dang It), and whether he's still alive or not at the end of the game affects the ending.
- X4 is the first game to include cheat codes for extra content, one code for X and one for Zero. X's code gives him acces to the Ultimate Armor wich doubles his defence, gives him the air dash, hovering ability, ulimited ammo (except for charged attacks), a plasma shot and an spammable Giga Attack, while Zero's code gives him acces to his Black Armor ...it is black...that's all, at least it is fixed on later games, where it doubles his defense, raises his attack, makes him more agile and gives his saber the ability to destroy energy projectiles.
- Proto Man is unlockable via DLC in Mega Man 9. For the most part it was very well received, but there are three minor gripes: his mode has no story, and he cannot unlock achievements or access the item shop.
- The higher difficulty levels, similarly, have achievements disabled.
- 10, however, fixed this by allowing achievements to be accomplishable in different difficulty settings and giving Bass, the DLC character for the game, his own shop and story scenes.
- The Legendary Starfy has a multiplayer mode that lets another player control Starly. This can only be used in a few specific areas of the game and in a bonus world after you beat the final boss in her own mini-storyline.
- Star Fox Adventures has Cheat Tokens which do a few things when you drop them into the well in the maze under the Warpstone. Two of these stand out:
- The Dino subtitle, which allows you to see the subtitles in Dino, the game's substitution cipher. However, it doesn't replace "[Dino Talk]" with what is actually said, and the subtitles are actually significantly wrong in spots. And it's not even included in the PAL version, so there's a Cheat Token that does absolutely nothing.
- Playing the game in black and white. Yes, the player can unlock an option to do what one can accomplish by adjusting one's TV set/monitor without the extra effort (unless they completely lack tech savvy beyond dealing with game consoles).
- Super Mario 64 gives you, as a reward for completing the game 100%, 100 lives, that you have no use for, since you have completed the game. Made especially obvious by the lives being delivered by Yoshi, who you can't ride and who disappears right after. You also get a special triple jump that becomes usable after talking to Yoshi. It replaces the third jump with a sparkly somersault that makes you invincible while flipping. This was also pretty useless, as there were very few instances in the game where being invincible during a high jump would come in handy.
- Super Mario 64 DS is worse than the original in this regard: Since Yoshi is playable in this version, no one appears on the roof, there's no upgraded Triple Jump to be unlocked, and worst of all, the only thing of interest on the roof is Luigi's final rabbit... which gives you a virtually unchanged version of another mini-game you're most likely to have unlocked by that point.
- Super Mario Galaxy: the Grand Finale Galaxy. It's just a level based on the game's intro scene with all the characters present, with nothing to do other than collect purple coins.
- Kirby's Dream Land had a mode called Extra that enabled alternate, stronger versions of enemies and made bosses tougher. In Kirby's Adventure and its remake, all it does is make things harder by cutting your life meter in half. Thankfully, the Extra mode for Kirby's Return to Dream Land does have unique content.
- Tetris: The Absolute - The Grand Master 2 PLUS offers the TGM+ and T.A. Death modes, neither of which have high score rankings. While Death mode is very popular and offers its own grading scale (M for completing the first half of the game in under 3'25", GM for that and completing the whole thing), TGM+ has no grading scale whatsoever.
- Wipeout 64 and Wip3out both had a challenge mode that went nowhere. The former unlocked all of its bonus content after completing the basic sets of challenges, but then presented you with "combo challenges" and then "gold challenges" which basically amounted to getting gold on the previous challenges. Your reward? A different menu screen. The latter unlocked tracks, ships and Phantom difficulty as rewards for winning in single race mode; the challenge, eliminator and championship modes were completely useless and unlocked nothing other than the next challenge, leaving you with nothing to show at the end. Bonus points because it wasn't explained anywhere how you were actually supposed to unlock content. And the very first Wipeout ended with a championship with no reward other than some scrolling text promising "Wipeout II, coming soon". We've seen 8 other Wipeout titles since then, none of which were called "Wipeout II"
- The True Final Boss of DJMAX Technika's Heartbeat Set, "Area 7", obtained by finishing the first 3 stages with at least 95% of your notes being "MAX"es (you get the normal Final Boss, "Colours of Sorrow", if you don't). Not only does it have an awkward chart, but it has a lower max combo, meaning that getting this song instead of CoS is actually harmful to your score. So to get an optimal score on this course, you will need to Do Well, but Not Perfect on the first 3 stages.
Role Playing Game
- Dual Wielding Roxas in mission mode in Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days. Sure, in story mode he's awesome (though you only get him for an extremely short time), but in mission mode he's worse than Roxas. This is for two reasons: Mission Mode's enemies are stronger than normal, and the final mission's enemies have their levels programmed to be ridiculously low for the end of the game, so that Roxas feels as badass as he is in KHI's Secret Ending.
- The two bonus characters in the Director's Cut/overseas versions of Star Ocean Till The End Of Time may count. Adray is really just a less capable wizard, a spot already filled by Sophia, with a weapon set nearly identical to Albel's, while Mirage uses effectively the same attack set and play-style as Cliff, but is 40-50 levels lower. The player has the option to gain Adray early into the game when he would be at a similar level to the party, but if you opt to gain him at the next opportunity, much later near the end of the game, he'll still be at that level (lv 19 when the party is roughly 55-70).
- In the original, buggy, Japanese version of the game, the four "optional" characters, Albel, Nel, Peppita, Roger, were required. In the Director's Cut/overseas versions, only two of them can be chosen while Mirage and Adray are necessary, however.
- The Bonus Dungeon in Dragon Quest VI is just several levels from normal dungeons stuck onto each other with no rhyme or reason (but with stronger enemies), and no justification.
- Same for Dragon Quest VII, but at least at the end, you get to
punch out Cthulhufight God.
- In the GBC Video Game Remake of Dragon Quest III, every monster in the game Randomly Drops Bronze, Silver, and Gold Medals. Get enough of them, and you can go to Divine Dragon's Castle and gain wishes. Get more, and and you unlock the ultimate Bonus Dungeon with the Grand Dragon of Everything. Get every medal in the game and the Grand Dragon...falls asleep. You also get the Rubiss Sword if you beat him in a time limit, which is the strongest sword in the game and casts the strongest spell in the game if used as an item. However, given that you've at this point done everything there is to do in the game, it's totally useless.
- In Dragon Quest VIII, you can get the Gospel Ring, an accessory that prevents all random encounters, as a reward for completely filling out the monster list. The problem with that? You have to beat all 8 forms of the Bonus Boss in a row to get their entries on the list. By the time you're tough enough to do that, you don't need the ring at all; not only will any random encounter cease to be any sort of challenge, but the other methods of reducing encounters, Holy Water or the hero's Holy Protection spell, will also prevent all encounters while they last, for the low cost of a very cheap item or a couple MP.
- Same for Dragon Quest VII, but at least at the end, you get to
- In Final Fantasy VI, defeating optional boss Kaiser Dragon in the Advance release rewards you with the Diabolos Magicite. Its summon and the spells it teaches are all bound by the damage limit, so he'll never do more than 9999 damage, a limit you're already pushing against if you're strong enough to beat Kaiser in the first place. The only use Diabolos has is his level up bonus "HP+ 100%", meaning your HP increases twice as much when you level up, which is good, but other Espers give "HP+ 50%", so ultimately Diabolos does nothing you can't already do with the other Magicite pieces.
- Averted with the other three optional Magicite shards - Leviathan teaches Flood, which is a water-elemental spell, so you can exploit that elemental weakness in enemies more easily (prior to the Advance release, there were no water-elemental spells at all except for Strago's Aqua Rake), Cactuar gives a speed boost on level up and is one of only two Espers to do so (and the other one doesn't give as good a boost anyway and can be given away and Lost Forever), and Gilgamesh teaches the Quick spell, letting you teach it to two characters at once — definitely a boon since it only has a learn rate of 1% and thus takes forever to learn. And those three are obtainable much earlier on, if you know where to look.
- A larger HP increase means that low level runs let you get even better stats than usual, and Gravija is unique in that it cannot be resisted even by bosses, making it an eminently spammable all-target 9999 damage nuke
- In Final Fantasy VII, defeated Ruby Weapon gave you a gold chocobo. However, it's Nintendo Hard to defeat it without breeding one in the first place, and this new gold chocobo sucks at races. Averted with Emerald Weapon, where the reward is a set of "Master" Materia. The only other way to get them is to master every Materia of each type, which will take hours upon hours of training.
- The main reason most people don't ever bother to completely finish the Bonus Dungeons in any of the Valkyrie Profile games: Your reward for doing so is a weapon with a huge attack stat, but the catch is that not only is it obtained at a point you can most likely already kill everything else easily, but it can also inflict random damage, with it rarely being able to do as much damage as its attack stat would suggest.
- Fallout: New Vegas had a similar scenario with the pre-order bonus/Courier's Stash DLC items. Most of them were lackluster to begin with, but were made worse by lack of compatibility with Perks and other DLC. The way the game's engine is written, any given DLC cannot directly act on another — the end result was that most of the pre-order equipment was counter-intuitively excluded from Perks added by main DLC (for example, the pre-order shotgun is the only shotgun in the game that doesn't benefit from the And Stay Back (10% chance to knock enemies over when they are hit with a shotgun) Perk added in Dead Money.). Some of the weapons would accept mods, albeit with glitchy results. The only truly unique item was the Vault 13 canteen, an item that would automatically drop the player's dehydration level in Hardcore Mode, but not enough to subsist upon it alone (and it was useless if not playing in Hardcore).
- White Knight Chronicles II made a pretty big deal out of the fact that one of its features was that your avatar character would gain the ability to transform into a (fully customizable!) Knight like the other main characters could. But when do you unlock the Arc Knight? Right before heading off for the final dungeon. Oh, and you need to complete an easily-missable sidequest to unlock it. And that whole "fully customizable" part? You need to spend months Level Grinding your Guild Rank and Item Farming the right amounts of the right arbitrary items in order to make and equip the parts that change the Knight's appearance. It got so so ridiculous that Level-5 went and released DLC that replicated all the Knight parts and billed them as being "cheaper" to manufacture than their in-game counterparts. ...But not by much.
- Chrono Cross features a New Game+ mode that, among other features, allows you to replace the main character with another party member for battles. This allows you to experiment with more diverse party combinations... a feature that might mean something if your party wasn't already strong enough to take down the bosses in the first half of the game in a round of basic attacks.
- Recettear lets you unlock Arma as a playable adventurer after completing Lapis Ruins, the first postgame dungeon. As a boss, she's extremely fast-paced and vicious, uses nearly her entire arsenal of weapons, and most of them will demolish you in just a few hits. As a player character, she starts at level 1, moves very slowly, has no useful specials (the Wave Motion Gun eats your entire SP bar and you'll usually take more damage charging it than if you just attacked normally), her weapons are all prohibitively unwieldy and/or do anemic damage — generally both — even after leveling up to par with everyone else, and very slow recovery after firing any of them leaves her wide open to counterattack. Even the Omega Cannon, her ultimate fused weapon, fires at such an awkwardly high and slow (backward!) arc and has such a pitifully short homing radius that it's more likely to hit empty space behind your targets when the shots bother curving forward toward them at all. By the time you unlock her, literally any other character in the game save maybe Elan will be able to tackle long dungeons and thick bosses alike much more easily and safely.
- Evolution Worlds: For beating the entire game, you get a stat boost item. It makes a single character a tiny bit stronger. That's all you get for choosing New Game+.
- The DS version of Chrono Trigger has a Bonus Dungeon that consists of almost nothing but Fetch Quest after Fetch Quest, forcing you to trek back and forth across the entire dungeon with an unskippable battle every time. Along the way, you can fight an unbelievably annoying Metal Slime (with nearly impervious armor that counters every attack with a meteor swarm) that requires several New Game+' worth of stat grinding, but when it finally dies you can get an armor that renders the wearer 100% immune to magic! Except only one character can wear it, and it has little application outside of a single optional boss fight.
Shoot Em Up
- Imperishable Night has, as unlockables, solo versions of each team (Reimu only and Yukari only for instance, as opposed to Reimu and Yukari). However, this works by essentially locking your shottype to focused or unfocused. Human characters still can't shoot through familiars, making stages much worse, and youkai characters can't shoot familiars, causing problems with a number of bosses. In addition to this, Remilia's options have a bit of lag when you try to move them when she's solo, and you can't focus to center Youmu's ghost half anymore. Just to make things worse, most solo characters are missing a large portion of their phantom gauge, making them difficult to score with. Except Youmu, whose shortened gauge makes her the best character to score with, even if she's awkward to use.
- Gradius V and Ikaruga have continues that increase for each hour of play, culminating in "free play" (unlimited continues) after a set number of continues obtained. But if you improve yourself at either game, by the time you unlock free play, you most likely won't need it anymore. Gradius Gaiden is a similar case, save for the increasing credits; you start with 9 instead of 3, and they never go up save for when you unlock free play.
- A variant of the Konami Code can be used in Contra: Shattered Soldier that grants the player 30 lives for their first credit. However, Shattered Soldier features a grading system that evaluates the player's performance at the end of each stage, deducting a percentage of their hit rate based on the number of lives lost. This means that player must lose as few lives as possible (preferably none at all) to achieve a perfect grade. Getting an overall grade below "A" gives the player a bad ending. The Konami Code simply makes it easier to get the bad ending.
- DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu for mobile devices (DoDonPachi Resurrection outside of Japan) has Hibachi as a playable character in arrange mode, unlocked by reaching and defeating him on one credit or inputting a cheat code (which wears off when your game ends). However, his special shot requries that you tilt your device to aim, making it tough to use in a moving vehicle and outright useless on a tablet.
Stealth Based Game
- One of the most hyped features of Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions was the fact that players could finally control Solid Snake's old war buddy Gray Fox, aka the Cyborg Ninja. This feature was so much of a selling point that Gray Fox's face is not only used on the packaging illustration, but also on the actual title screen itself. Despite all the effort required to unlock him (which is even more complicated in the Japanese Integral version, since it required the player to complete the main game and trade data using the PocketStation memory card), he only has three missions out of the 300 actually featured in the game (that's literally 1% of the game) and they're all set in the same stage with only slightly different objectives between each: the first mission involves destroying a set number of stationary dummy targets, the second mission involves killing a set number of Genome Soldiers, and the final mission involves assassinating Solid Snake, who appears as a head-swapped Genome Soldier patrolling the area.
- The Samurai Edge handgun from the 2002 Resident Evil remake. It fires three rounds at a time in quick succession and has infinite ammo, but it's only marginally more powerful than the default handgun and its probability of blowing off zombie heads isn't much higher, either. It's certainly useful early in the game, but it'll get tossed in the item box at the exact same time the regular handgun normally is since your shotgun, magnum and grenade launchers still outclass it by a mile.
- Resident Evil Code: Veronica lets you play as Albert Wesker in the Battle Game. You remember, the same guy who runs across walls in bullet time and bitch slaps Claire Redfield effortlessly? Yeah, in Battle Game he can't do any of that and gets only a knife to play with. While it carries on the usual thing of villains having tougher inventory sets to play with in minigames, it's still a bitter pill to swallow. You can get a Colt Python with which to fight Alexia. However, not only does it not have infinite ammo like everyone else's guns, but whether you get it or not depends on luck.
- Resident Evil 4 is big on this trope:
- There's the Hand Cannon, a souped-up Magnum with massive stopping power and the ability to go through multiple enemies per shot. You get it by getting maximum rankings with every character in RE4's Mercenaries mode, which can be remarkably hard for certain characters... But by this point, chances are you've already beaten the game once and probably bought the Chicago Typewriter, Infinite Rocket Launcher, or even just fully upgraded another regular Magnum, which makes the Hand Cannon look pretty pointless in comparison.
- The PlayStation 2 and Wii versions introduce the PRL-412, a futuristic anti-Plagas weapon that is only obtained after beating Professional (hard) Mode, which means there isn't much of any reason to use it, since the player's probably finished everything by then anyway. It's not even particularly great, being a slow charging laser that serves mostly as an unlimited supply of flash grenades unless you spend the time charging it to full power, in which case it kills Plagas villagers instantly, but not much else. Even worse, a weak flash can kill the final boss immediately.
Third Person Shooter
- Most of the higher-up skins unlocked in Gears of War 3 are simple reskins of existing characters. For example, "Civilian Anya" is the same character as "Anya Stroud," albeit minus her armor and with a different hairstyle. Anya's basic form is available by default—"Civilian Anya" isn't unlocked until level 45.
Turn Based Strategy
- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is a two-in-one combo. It has several unlockable characters; Some of these are unique characters that cannot change classes or learn new abilities, while others are merely normal units with special sprites. One, notoriously, doesn't unlock until after you have nothing you can possibly do with him. Some of the special characters can't even enter the water, all because they don't have sprites drawn of them being in the water. Feather Boots can fix this since it makes the wearer walk on the water rather than in it.
- Especially bad with Ezel Berbier, who is locked into a class with high magic attack growth and low physical attack growth, and has no ability to learn any skills that use his magic attack stat.
- The original Final Fantasy Tactics has the Byblos. He joins you as a Guest Star Party Member when you fight the Bonus Boss, and if he survives, he joins your team afterward. Is he any good? Well... he's a monster unit, which means he can't use equipment or change classes. He's nowhere near as strong as the other special monster unit you get, Worker 8, and doesn't have Worker 8's innate magic immunity. His skills are thoroughly mediocre, and (being a monster unit) he'll never learn more. The best thing you can really say about him is that he has innate Poach, but teaching that to human units is easy. Waste of a character, to be honest.
- Bonus character Cloud Strife can also fall into this category. You get him at the end of a fairly long sidequest...and he's level 1. In addition, to use his unique abilities, you need his special weapon, which is only obtained by having someone with Move-Find Item step on a particular tile in a particular place (though at least, unlike all other Move-Find Item spaces, there's only one possible item to get), and is only so-so in strength. If you have the patience to get his sword and level him up though, he's a decent party member, and doing the sidequest also nets you several other party members and good rewards, so it's not really a waste.
- In Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, you can earn several special party members by going through the two bonus dungeons, the Tower of Valni and the Lagdou Ruins. These characters are all characters who existed in the main story as Non-Player Characters, some of whom were even bosses. Sounds cool, right? Unfortunately, you can only unlock these characters after playing through the entire main campaign, meaning all you really can use them in are the dungeons in which they are unlocked and random battles on the world map. Worse still, the vast majority of them are some of the worst units in the game, due to coming with high levels, poor base stats, terrible growth rates, and being unable to support other units; even the best among them are easily outmatched by units you recruited in the main campaign. The only ones with any useful equipment or skills are Ismaire (who comes with a unique weapon), Valter (who has an exceptionally rare item), Caellach (likewise) and Lyon (who has a unique class capable of summoning phantoms, as well as a unique infinite-durability tome and a rare staff); the others come with various generic weapons and Vendor Trash. Even for completionists, recruiting Lyon may be more trouble than it's worth, because getting him requires you to fight through the Lagdou Ruins three times. Just to rub salt in the wound, they are, for whatever reason, unable to be used against other players in the Link Arena.
- Fire Emblem Path of Radiance is similar, featuring enemy characters that can be played post-campaign. Unlike Sacred Stones though, there is no post-campaign, so instead you can only play with them in six bland "trial" chapters (three of which require an Old Save Bonus, and are just copies of levels found in the main game), which have no story or named enemies in them. Also, it requires a downright silly number of playthroughs to unlock them; you don't get the first until finishing the lengthy game three times, and the Big Bad requires fifteen full passes of the game to unlock. It doesn't help that most of them, barring the last one recruited, are rather lackluster and only worth looking at due to their rare equipment.
- Fire Emblem Sword of Seals, like Path of Radiance, also has characters unlockable for use in a series of dull trial maps (though Sword of Seals only has five unless you were lucky enough to win more in promotional events), and has similarly silly requirements for unlocking them (the last one, Guinevere, requires a full nine passes through the game to unlock). To make it worse, most of them are markedly inferior to your normal units anyway; in particular, the first one recruited, Narshen, is too weak to survive much of anything in the trial maps. Only Guinevere is really notable, and then, mostly because of her unique gimmick of having access to both Light magic and Anima magic at the same time.
- Fire Emblem Awakening continues the trend with its six Spotpass characters, available as free DLC and recruited in six special downloaded chapters. Unlike previous examples, most of them range from decent but underleveled to surprisingly powerful, and two even have completely unique skills that no one else naturally has access to. However, they're only able to be recruited right before the final chapter, and some of their recruitment chapters are harder than the final chapter itself. Worse still, their support pool is extremely limited, as all six of them can only support the Avatar; in a game where two units achieving an S-Support can make them obscenely powerful when paired up, this is a harsh drawback. While the existence of other DLC chapters prevents them from becoming truly useless like previous examples in the series, the final one, Apotheosis, basically requires an army consisting of nothing but S-ranked units paired together with maximum stats and the absolute best skills available, meaning at most exactly one of them will get a chance to participate. They're not as bad as previous examples, but are still generally underwhelming all the same.
- In Advance Wars, unlocking every single other CO in the game, an act which requires beating the game multiple times while meeting extremely specific criteria, lets you purchase Big Bad Sturm to play with. Unfortunately it's not the +30 Attack/Defense Sturm who's CO power lays waste to his enemy's forces you face in the final battle, but a watered down -20 attack +30 defense version with an inferior CO power that is more likely to fall on your own forces. Quite literally every single other character in the game is more useful than him. as using him with any level of effectiveness requires a specific and difficult-to-master defensive style of gameplay. At least the developers learned their lesson in the sequels, where not only are the secret characters are much more straightforward to aquire, but the unlocked Sturm, Von Bolt, and Caulder are every bit as deadly as their final boss counterparts and will break the game beyond all belief.
- In Champions Online there are three crafting schools, Weapons, Mysticism, and Science. Each of these used to have a single SPECIAL BONUS "crafted travel power" the player could claim/build. For instance, in Weapons the travel power was called the "R.A.D. Sphere." It required leveling your character's crafting ability up to the 300-400 range, buying the blueprints, crafting a few dozen items, which were each in turn crafted from a dozen other items apiece which you ALSO had to buy the blueprints for, then gathering another dozen or so increasingly rare dropped artifacts, then assembling them all together...with another blueprint. The result for all this running back and forth to the crafting table, spending a fortune in points, and scouring the countryside pummeling various monsters to get them to drop rare items? Your character got the power to crouch down, wrap his arms around his knees, and roll forward. At about running pace. It looks stupid, is ridiculously slow, and if you should actually wish to level this power up, you had to go through the above hunt-and-gather grinding rigamarole all over again to BUILD the next iteration.
The Mysticism and Science crafted travel powers were actually worse, being nothing more than bog-standard flight power with, respectively, some purple glowy dots and some electrical sparks tacked on. And with the April 2012 complete overhaul, these are now purchaseable outright with in-game resources, at which point they become available as normal powers to any toon you have. The epic grind for them no longer exists.
- Mabinogi had an event that makes you play Bingo using a Roulette from an NPC who says he's always lucky. The Main reward for completing the Bingo board is a unique Bag that gives you more inventory spaces. Unfortunately, the Bag requires a Premium service in order to open, and as Mabinogi being made a Free MMO, this reward will go unused and will be gone by the time the event is over. Said NPC lost his lucky status after reappearing in another event. They've given out similar bags as a reward during their spring 2013 Vocaloid event. Same issue, although for people who do subscribe the bags are an improvement over what's normally available, and they're entirely up front in the description of the event what the limitation on the bags is. In general, the combination of Everything Fades (though bags actually don't), continual introduction of new things to the game which Lost Forever applies to, and limited storage space for players can easily lead to feelings of this.
- In WarioWare: Twisted!, unlocking every microgame and clearing each of them will unlock the final souvenir; what is it, you may ask? WarioWare: Twisted. Selecting it restarts the game with a modified intro. Doing all that work for a glorified restart button.
- Depeche Mode's remastered CD/DVD-A sets had a good selection of B Sides...but moved all that material to the DVD, for no apparent reason but to preserve the albums as intended. That means if you want to hear them you always have to play the DVDs, which of course, cannot be played or copied like normal CDs can. You wonder why they didn't just give the B Sides a bonus CD to themselves. Luckily you can get them elsewhere thanks to the band's extensive singles collection, and many were on earlier CDs of the albums, but still.