The tendency for video games to reward you with the best items and weapons only when you've proven that you don't need them anymore.
The Bragging Rights Reward is any gameplay reward you receive by defeating the most powerful monster, beating the hardest level, or achieving 100% Completion. Why is it only for bragging rights? Because you've already conquered the toughest of toughest obstacles, or have already done everything there is to do. Quite simply, it doesn't help you that much anymore. Since you can already triumph over anything the game offers in your current state, anything more you receive is simply overkill.note Then again, There Is No Kill Like Overkill, right?
The classic example is any reward you receive when you defeat the hidden, optional boss that's by far the toughest enemy in the game. This is also often the fate of the Infinity+1 Sword (and making weaker weapons Infinity Minus One Swords). A New Game+ is an attempt at getting around this, by letting you carry your new stuff into a new game where it'd actually be useful.
Of course, none of this is meant to imply that the Bragging Rights Reward is necessarily a bad thing, as to many dedicated gamers, the satisfaction of accomplishment is reward enough.
In summary, the Bragging Rights Rewardwould be useful, if you weren't already so powerful that you didn't need it anymore. If the reward has no purpose other than to serve as proof of accomplishment, it's a Cosmetic Award.
As an odd side effect, it will often work out that the more difficult an optional boss is, the less useful its reward will be, and vice versa. It may turn out to be Purposely Overpowered.
Ocarina of Time also has the Gerudo Training Grounds, which test your skill using items won from the previous dungeons. It's therefore impossible to beat them until late in the game, at which point the reward, ice arrows that freeze enemies, are fairly useless.
A similar reward to a similar subquest (substituting Skulltulas with Poes) is found in Twilight Princess. Though at first it may seem to be much more useful this time around, as money provides fuel for your invincible Magic Armor, it isn't once you realize that:
You don't get infinite Rupees on hand so much as you now just have a quick source to max out your wallet, and
You already had to go through the ungodly hard Cave of Ordeals you were probably planning to use the armor for in order to get the last few Poes.
Twilight Princess's bug hunt is a maddening example. Every unique bug you give the girl gets you money. She gives you a total of 150 Rupees for every matched male/female pair. And the reward for giving her all 12 pairs of bugs? The ability to carry 1000 Rupees. It would've been useful before she gave you 1800 Rupees. And by the time you could do this, you have been given enough Rupees to buy pretty much everything of value.
In The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, Biggoron will upgrade your defensive item to the Mirror Shield for you if you go and do something "impressive". What do you have to do to impress him? Beat the game, by which point the Mirror Shield becomes irrelevant.
Minish Cap also has a few subversions. The Carlos Medal, which you get for having all the figurines, gives you quite a few rupees (which are pointless by the time you get all the figurines anyway), but you also get a Piece of Heart and the game's sound test. The Tingle Trophy for fusing all the Kinstones is a more conventional example, as it does absolutely nothing. However, fusing all the Kinstones provides a lot of rewards itself, including rupees, pieces of heart, bag expansions, and weapon upgrades.
Completing all fifty levels of the Cave of Ordeals in Twilight Princess grants you the ability to refill your empty bottles with Fairy Tears (and fairies while you're at it) at any spring. If you were able to complete the Cave of Ordeals though, you'll likely not need the Fairy Tears for any other part of Twilight Princess.
Going through the Cave again allows you to get additional Fairy Tears (you're normally limited to one), but the Cave is even harder the second time, pitting you against four Darknuts at once (in the normal dungeons, you fight three in total unless you take the harder route in the final dungeon, which additionally pits you against 2 Darknuts at once, but they can be separated), so they actually are pretty useful then.
The HD version of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker makes the Hero's Charm, which lets you see enemy health bars, the reward for clearing the Savage Labrynth, which is similar to Twilight Princess' Cave of Ordeals above. By the time you get it, you've probably memorized the health of every enemy in the game anyway, and it doesn't even work on the Final Boss.
The Hylian Shield in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword can seem like one of these, since it's available very late in the game and getting it requires beating eight bosses in a row, proving you don't really need it. However, it's still useful against the final boss, and you can use it in another run of the Boss Rush, which now counts as an example, because the reward for beating all twelve bosses is all the rupees your wallet can possibly carry, and you probably bought everything useful ten hours ago.
In Ōkami, collecting all 100 stray beads allows you to create an accessory that gives you invincibility, infinite ink, and a 10x strength bonus. Want to know how you get the last bead? You receive it as a gift from Issun after you beat the game.
Fortunately you can keep it in a New Game+. In fact this is the whole purpose of it.
Likewise Ōkamiden gives you the same accessory for use in new game plus, as well as a costume of Shiranui Chibi.
In Castlevania: Symphony of the Night defeating Galamoth, the hardest boss, gives you two Life Max Ups and a Heart Max Up, and the ability for your Mist form to harm enemies. Of course, none of them could challenge you by this point, not even Dracula himself, who isn't hurt by your poisonous gas anyway; it's basically just ripe fodder for some fart jokes.
In Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, defeating the Forgotten One gives you the Black Orb, which provides you with a new set of sub-weapon options. This would be really awesome, except that at this point you have already pretty much finished the game. While the Black Orb does help out against the next-to-last boss, the final boss (Death) is unaffected by your sub-weapons, rendering the Black Orb useless against him.
Similar to Diablo 2, the real purpose behind Castlevania: Harmony of Despair is building your characters up as much as possible, and grinding for rare drops so you can attain a full item list. Many item drops are useless, but a large number of them are quite powerful, and in turn useful for running stages faster so you can cut down on grinding time. Soma and Jonathan take it Up to Eleven. Jonathan's whip power is raised by leveling his 12 subweapons (5 more of which are DLC only and don't contribute to stat growth), while Soma can get up to 9 copies of every enemy in the game's souls, and there are over 150.
Shadow of the Colossus features a huge assortment of weapons and items, all of which can only be acquired after you've beaten the game. They can't be used in the Time Attack mode, but have some use in a second playthrough. The exception is the Sword of the Sun, which enables you to use a light beam anywhere. In this game, light beams direct you to the next Colossus or, if you're in battle, its weak points. By this stage of the game, you'll have fought all of them at least twice and know where their weak points are on both difficulty levels.
In Uncharted, you can't unlock infinite ammo, one-shot kills, or the ability to pull out the last three weapons whenever you want (rather than having to find them) until you've beaten the game on Crushing difficulty (in which those cheats are disabled anyway).
Spider-Man has a Captain Universe costume, who has unlimited health, webbing, and can do double damage. However, you get it after beating Hard Mode, which means that since you were able to do that, you probably never even needed the suit.
Beat Em Ups
Viewtiful Joe has Captain Blue as a playable character. To unlock him, you need to beat the game on the hardest setting called "Ultra V-Rated" mode, where enemies don't call their attacks, many of the mooks are replaced with their upgraded counterparts, many of those guys' attacks are faster, bosses have nearly a dozen health bars, and you take quadruple damage from everything. Combine that with a two-stage final boss whose most common attack now takes a monstrous eight hearts out of your life bar (the maximum being 16 with all upgrades), and you're in for a bumpy ride. Totally worth it to see that fatass fly at supersonic speeds with his hands on his hips, though.
Getting the best equipment in Dissidia: Final Fantasy. The Lufenian gear (best armors, some of the best weapons) and the ingredients to make each character's Level 100 Exclusive plus the best accessories can only be gotten by a long and grueling slog through the game's Lunar Whale course. The Lunar Whale has enemies at the highest CPU strength/intelligence, at level 120 when the player is capped at level 100, in the worst stages in the game, in special rulesets, decked out in the finest equipment and accessories the game has to offer, with a hefty dose of cheating and My Rules Are Not Your Rules. Surviving the Lunar Whale course long enough to get the gear for even one character, let alone all 22, only demonstrates that the player clearly doesn't need it.
In Magical Battle Arena completing Nowel's story, which ends with a horrific one-on-five battle where the enemy team isn't handicapped, unlocks a Gadget Drone. Yes, the mooks you always face at the beginning of every story.
The golden guns in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare — with the exception of the Golden Desert Eagle, you get one golden gun in each class after performing challenges such as "100 headshots" with each weapon. They ruin what little camouflage you had, and they don't provide any damage bonus, but GOD DAMN they look cool.
In a similar vein are the "Golden AK-47's" of Far Cry 2. Hidden throughout the world, you can find one and use it until it degrades and explodes.
Unless you glitch it into repairing itself with a standard AK
Urban Chaos Riot Response replaces your pistol with a Minigun if you get everything there is to get in the single player. Lots of bullets, nothing to use 'em on.
Some players might not even consider this a reward, as it is entirely possible that the Pistol was their go-to weapon for the entire game.
Hack and Slash
Completing the highest "Dante Must Die" difficulty in the first, third and fourth Devil May Cry titles unlocks one or more "Super Costumes" for Dante or the other playable characters, which grants unlimited energy for the Devil Trigger Super Mode. In this case, the game can still be hard for players in certain games, even for a maxed-out character. The 3rd game however has a number of Super Costumes. Among them is the final unlockable which grants unlimited devil trigger abilities AND essentially puts you in god mode since you can't take damage while wearing that costume. And in the 3rd game, one of the styles SLOWS DOWN TIME by draining your devil trigger energy. So if used together with any costumes with unlimited devil trigger, you have an infinite slow-down effect as well. The 4th one however is still hard even with the super costumes because you are not invulnerable and you do not regenerate any health, not to mention you get penalized for it, too.
In Ninja Gaiden Black, you need to collect all 50 scarabs to get the Dark Dragon Blade, the strongest BFS in the game, barring the Unlabored Flawlessness at low health. The last scarab is on the second to last mission, near the end of the level. Then the last level is nothing but a single boss fight. No New game+ in this release; there was one in the non-Black edition though.
Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams has two sets of four accessories that when equipped will either give a character infinite magic or infinite super mode. Either one of these can be abused to essentially make your invincible, but for either set two accessories are hidden somewhere in the game (one of the four being somewhere in the middle of the final boss rush) and the other four accessories are received by beating the 100 floor battle arena with 4 of the 5 characters. Easily the hardest challenge in the game, but they're still not entirely useless as you can use the infinite magic to help beat the arena with the last two characters and the final level, but all you can use the infinite super mode with is a few bosses at the end of the game.
If you do absolutely everything in Warriors Orochi 2, you can unlock a superpowered version of Orochi called Orochi X. However, by the time this is done, it's time to put down the game...
Bayonetta has the Climax Bracelet, that gives you automatic Wicked Weave attacks for every punch and kick, an ability that normally only appears in Boss Battles. To get it, you have to collect all the "Umbran Tears of Blood," a task which includes getting every Achievement/Trophy in the game. One of which involves beating the game on Nonstop Infinite Climax anyway! Just to hammer in the point, the game won't save your score when using it so you can't even use it to get Pure Platinum ranks on all the levels. That's because it's a total Game Breaker.
The Climax Bracelet makes the fight against the Bonus Boss about a million times easier, downing its difficulty to just Nintendo Hard (yeah, he's that tough). Winning gives you another Bragging Rights Reward (a shape shifting Swiss-Army Weapon) that is totally useless to get any pure platinum (it has terrible combo points) but is actually very useful against the bosses of Angel Slayer.
In Guild Wars, there is a certain sidequest. It requires you to have all three campaigns in addition to the expansion. You then need to cart one character all over the world, from a newbie area to the end of a massively difficult and long bonus dungeon to collect items. The result? An entirely cosmetic mini-pet.
The sequel, Guild Wars 2, had this as the entirety of its original endgame. Nothing you could get in the most advanced dungeons or in the highest levels of PvP combat would give you a statistical advantage over other endgame gear or the standard PvP gear that everyone got rather easily. The only reason to grind was to be the prettiest flower in the bouquet, not the toughest. In effect, you got to show off that yes, you were hard enough to handle the best the game had to throw at you...and given some of the early content so far, like traps, jumping puzzles, and half the dungeon bosses, that was a worthy endeavor. The game soon switched to Equipment-Based Progression.
Legendary weapons still play this trope out as standard. Compared to exotic gear (which cost a few gold on the trading post), they have the exact same stats, but have plenty of pretty particle effects to show off your dedication. Crafting one of these weapons often takes months - the things you need to do include maxing out your experience bar a few hundred times to buy components with skill points, doling out around a million karma for Obsidian Shards, and shelling out hundreds of gold for the legendary's precursor weapon, since precursors are also extremely rare drops in world chests. Legendaries are the only weapons in the economy that break the 1000-gold price tag.
While the majority of rewards in World of Warcraft that are not simply standard loot are cosmetic awards, there are some extremely difficult (or at least time-consuming) efforts you can embark on that reward you with items that actually improve your character in a significant way. These specifically include Legendary items, which require the combined effort of an entire guild over many months to acquire for one player; and ultra-fast flying mounts, which range from extremely rare drops to rewards for completing very difficult Achievements. None of these are required to beat any of the content in the game, but they sure do look cool.
Legendary weapons are also prone to becoming outright Cosmetic Awards shortly after you receive them, since by that time the next expansion is usually right around the corner, which means that items which will completely overshadow your legendary weapon will become readily available to everybody. However, since legendaries typically have unique and awesome graphics many players that have one will equip them inside of capital cities and other places with a high concentration of players, so that everyone can see that they do indeed have them.
And then there's the 5.2 warlock quest. After an elaborate quest chain which involves playing detective with little to no clues, you have to fight, hands down, the hardest boss in the game, solo. Even an endgame raider in full Thunderforged gear will have trouble. The reward? Green fire.
The Legendary Cloak questline in Mists will avert this. Most Legendaries come from grinding the last tier of raids, which means you really don't need them to do the content. For the cloak, the questline started when Mists launched and has run through every patch since; but Wrathion will upgrade the player's cloak to the Legendary before entering the Siege of Orgrimmar, so they'll have it when they need it most.
Lampshaded in the description of the achievement for killing a Whale Shark, From Hell's Heart I Stab At Thee: "Defeat the Whale Shark in Vashj'ir (despite or perhaps because of the fact that he drops no loot)."
This is the purpose of the Ranking System in Conker's Pocket Tales. You can increase your ranking by collecting Blue Presents, Red Presents, and Invitations. Blue Presents are actually required to move on to new areas, but Red Presents and Invitations do nothing else (OK, Invitations do open doors in a certain cave... that lead to more Red Presents). The rank itself changes nothing.
Capes of Achievement serve this purpose in Runescape. There's a cape for maxing out each skill, a cape for continuing to train said maxed out skills to the point where you could've used the xp to max out 7 or 8 other skills, a cape for maxing out all skills, a cape for completing all quests, and a cape for completing everything.
In Jak II: Renegade, the odds are strongly in favour of only getting enough Metal Head skulls to buy the Dark Giant power after you've beaten the end boss.
Getting all 120 stars in the original Super Mario 64 will open a cannon just outside of the castle. You can use it to blast off to the castle's roof, where you'll meet Yoshi, who will give you 100 lives and an improved triple jump. You also get a Wing Cap to fly around the grounds with.
If you visit the roof as Luigi, one of the 8 minigame bunnies will greet you.
Getting all of the gems and orbs in Spyro the Dragon 2 allowed access to a hidden area full of mini-games, and a door that you can open up that gives your character a permanent Fireball breath upgrade.
Similarly, Spyro 2 and 3 contained skill points, tasks you can perform that will net you an extra life butterfly for your trouble.
It also bears noting that the infinite super fireball can actually be carried into a new game if you open the gate, get the powerup, save, and instantly start a new game, allowing you to use your infinite super fireball to make the game significantly easier... and much more fun.
In Mega Man ZX, going through Area N and defeating Bonus Boss Omega Zero allows access to an item that gives you Model OX when brought back to the HQ. The catch? Omega is EVEN HARDER than the already difficult final boss, and you can only get said item AFTER you cleared the game. To make matters worse, you can't even get it in Easy mode in the first place, making Model OX a textbook example of this trope. That is, unless, if you want to stuff Prairie's room full of plushies with level 4 victories...
The final room in Banjo-Kazooie holds four doors that only open if you collected enough musical notes throughout the game. One won't budge without a whopping 882 notes (900 exist), but behind it is a jigsaw puzzle that doubles your life bar when completed. Unfortunately, you can't complete it without having gathered and used 98 Jiggy pieces. This means all you can do with your improved stamina is...get the last two and fight Grunty.
Stop 'n' Swop II in the XBLA version of Tooie.
Collecting every single Emblem in Sonic Adventure requires a TON of work, skill, exploration and patience. (Holly hell, do you need patience...) Emblems will do absolutely nothing until you've gotten every single one, and once you do, you earn a trophy/achievement and you can now play as Metal Sonic. Why? Well, considering you've already explored the game and perfected every known mission, it's not really known just what you're supposed to do with Metal Sonic, especially since he can only do Sonic's levels (obviously).
In Sonic the Hedgehog 2, by completing all the bonus stages, earning all the chaos emeralds and collecting 50 rings in a level afterwards you can transform into Super Sonic, granting extra speed and invulnerability (except to squashing and falling down holes). Which is great, except by the time the average player has had enough tries to finally earn it, it's fairly useless. Not to mention Wing Fortress Zone requires precision jumps, which having super speed actually hinders, and the final boss battles don't contain any rings at all, meaning you can't even use it.
You can get 3 emeralds on the very first stage and there are 5 posts on the second act of Emerald Hill, allowing you to go super before the first boss. This also allows you to breeze through the levels, and is quite fun. There is that one part on stage 9 which takes precision jumps but isn't bad. The last boss doesn't give you rings though.
Played straighter in later installments. In Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I, you get to keep all of your emeralds and can replay any level in the game - including the first act of the first zone - and go Super as soon as you get 50 rings. The final boss still doesn't give you the chance to collect 50 rings, which is a minor bummer.
And Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II features the Red Star Rings that were also featured in Sonic Generations. While the Red Star Rings in Sonic Generations actually unlocked abilities, in Sonic 4 they merely appear on the map screen and serve no other purpose. In addition, completing Sonic 4 without all seven Chaos Emeralds displays a message suggesting the player should go collect them, and doing so unlocks Super Sonic for play in any of the stages as per usual. Finishing the game with all seven emeralds affects the ending in one crucial way: the message about collecting them does not appear.
Sonic Colors has a truly insane Bragging Rights Reward that one can obtain. To obtain this reward, you have to get every single red ring in every single level, then you have to beat every single level in the "Sonic Simulator" game. There are a lot (180 rings, to be precise). Your reward for this? Super Sonic playable in every single level so long as you can get 50 rings. This is the first time this has ever happened in a 3D Sonic game. However, you cannot use him during bosses. What exactly can you do with this unfathomable reward? Not much, given that the only thing you can possibly have left to do since you've already gotten all the red rings is to S Rank every single mission. The reward for completing the insane task makes this absolutely trivial - usually. Using this reward negates Sonic's ability to use any Wisp power - even before collecting the 50 rings required to activate super mode. Some of their powers are replicated, but not all. As a result, large swaths of every stage are unreachable. The shorter stages don't even have the 50 ring required to use the power anyway. Some stages are changed to no longer require Wisp powers, but since Wisp powers are essential to getting S Ranks and exploring and enjoying stages, the reward is purely bragging rights. It's fun, but there's not much you'll be doing with it.
That said, he turns the last stage into a joke, but chances are you'll have already beaten and S Ranked it with your own skill before even knowing that there was a Red Ring reward.
Iji parodies this trope with the 'Reallyjoel's Dad' mode. It seems, seems as though it'll grant you some spectacular badge or benefit upon beating the game. But ultimately, it's totally impossible: the exit is blocked off, because you're not actually Reallyjoel's Dad.
Unlocking Curly Brace in 1001 Spikes - A character with air mobility that utterly destroys the difficulty of some levels - ultimately becomes this, due to having to obtain 30 hard-to-get objects with the normal main protagonist to get her, by which point you pretty much need to have mastered the game. She also only becomes playable in the second half of the game by beating all the levels as the main protagonist too. However, she IS admittedly useful for grinding money for the other Bragging Rights Reward - Thompsoncare. It gives infinite lives. In a game that secretly already has infinite lives. It just removes the lives counter and the risk of the Death Is a Slap on the Wrist style game overs. Annoyingly, buying that is needed for two achievements.
In Puzzle Quest: Challenge of Warlords, one of the last available Rune Stones is the Rune of Life. It adds + 20Exp for every victory (boostable to + 50 with the right modifying rune). Of course, at this point, you're going to be at least level 45, and the cap is level 50 — and the buyable-from-the-start Horn of Triumph gives you that same + 50 boost, and the Medal of Selenia (earned in one of the earlier sub-quests) doubled all Purple Stars gained. It should be noted that, at least in the PC version, runes are available at random at shops. So there's a small chance you could get the Rune of Life right off the bat. (If you have the money and Levels to buy it).
Defeating the massively overpowered Green Dragon in Puzzle Quest 2. The Xbox Live and Steam versions will net you some achievement points. The Nintendo DS or PSP versions? Merely a checkmark in your completed missions ledger. Even the gold and XP aren't much help, as you're probably somewhere in the upper 40s, level wise (cap of 50) by the time you're strong enough to beat it.
Beating the Driving missions in Gran Turismo 4, or getting gold medals on the license tests, requires insane driving skills, and the cars you unlock may not be needed by the time. Also, completing many of the more difficult and costly events rewards you with some useless classic car and a paltry sum of cash.
True for the Sauber Mercedes C9 as well; this car is unlocked by beating the Formula GT World Championship (Formula 1 expy), the toughest championship in the game, which really needs a Formula GT car of your own (from Nurburgring 24hrs), which is in most respects (top speed excepted) is better than the C9. The C9 will be useful for 24hrs at Le Mans, but you'll already have something else that can do the same job, like the Toyota 88-CV from winning the Endurance Race at El Capitan.
Beating each boss in Need for Speed Pro Street wins the player the bosses car. Great... except the bosses car isn't even fully upgraded, let alone fitted with any unique parts or hidden extras. The only unique thing is the paint job.
Burnout Paradise has two of these. After you get the second-to-last-level license (Burnout Elite) by beating all the events, you can give your cars a golden paint finish. If you then proceed to beat the Time Rule and Crash Rule on every single road of Paradise City, and find all the Smash Gates, Super Jumps, Billboards and Drive-Thrus, you are given the final license (Criterion Elite), and can give your cars a platinum paint job. Thankfully, you don't have to beat the events and find the discoverables on Big Surf Island to get the Criterion Elite License.
Midnight Club 2 has a particularly annoying example. You get the absolute best car in the game, incredibly fast and stable...after beating every opponent in career mode and winning every circuit race. And you can't use it in career mode. (So what the hell is this for, anyway? Extreme sightseeing?)
The last course to be unlocked in F-Zero GX is the Sonic Oval beginner course from AX, which isn't even used in the Grand Prix.
In Ridge Racer Type 4, by completing Grand Prix mode with a given team and a given manufacturer, you'll unlock Extra Trial Mode for a chance to win the Devil Cars. There are 16 available (4 manufacturers x 4 teams, each with slightly different stats), and while the MMM and PRC versions are easy/very doable, the RTS and particularly DRT versions will take a lot more effort. You cannot use them in Grand Prix Mode, so in practice they're restricted to Time Trial, Vs Mode, and racing against themselves in Extra Trial; it doesn't help that the Terazzi Utopia comes with a little Awesome, but Impractical issues. This is also true for the Pac Man Racer that you get for acquiring all 320 other cars in the game (including the aforementioned Devils).
Super Robot Wars tend to have numerous units and pilots that tend to be these kind of prizes. Amongst those:
Quess Paraya of Char's Counterattack in Super Robot Wars 3, who has high NT (Newtype) levels, yet she's utterly out of the way, Amuro is the only one who can find her and when you get her, she's Level 1.
Keeping Black Getter Robo and Musashi Tomoe in Super Robot Wars Alpha 2. While the villain recruitable that goes with the two is perfectly fine, the problem is is that Musashi and Black Getter are dead weight, since Musashi is stuck riding Lady Command (a support unit) and even then, he and Michiru can't ride Black Getter and by that time, you just got Getter G and heading for Shin Getter! It's even worse in Super Robot Wars Alpha 3 - you HAVE to use Michiru and Lady Command to get it and she STILL can't use it!
Great Zeorymer of Hades Project Zeorymer in Super Robot Wars Judgment. Getting this thing is a massive Guide Dang It, requiring you to play through Zeorymer's entire story (in practice this means that you can't ever deploy it unless the game auto-deploys it for you in levels relevant to its story), skip over a number of other secret units (just about all of them, actually!) and Zeorymer's the only one who can beat the bosses from his series! By the time you get the unit (if you do it right), it's already near the end of the game and it's more than likely units like Mazin Kaiser and Freedom Gundam are already leveled up by then!
Defeating Morgoth in Angband rewards you with two absurdly powerful pieces of equipment, the hammer Grond and the Iron Crown of Morgoth. But at that point the file is flagged as a winner, and all that's left to do is to beat up lesser foes to boost your score or quit and claim your victory.
Or farm Great Wyrms for the One Ring, which at that point is nothing more than an even bigger bragging rights reward.
There are several items you that have a 1/128 chance of being dropped by a specific enemy. The most annoying to get is probably the Gutsy Bat. It is only dropped by a very powerful, rare enemy on the last screen of the game. Plus, even if you get it, chances are that Ness' Offense will already be at max!
Even more annoying is the Sword of Kings, the aforementioned item with a 1/128 drop rate and is the only weapon that one member of your party can use that does not lower his attack. And it's a Lost Forever to boot. Downplayed because the Sword of Kings can be obtained in the middle of the game, where it will still have plenty of use.
Defeating the ultra-powerful Bonus Boss in the penultimate battle at the Imperial Arena in Jade Empire earns you a superior warrior gem, the best single-stat accessory in the game. Additionally, beating the entire Arena (including aforementioned Bonus Boss, mind you) without losing once grants you a relatively minor stat bonus.
Defeating the end boss of the Bonus Dungeon in Final Fantasy V. The game seemed to realize the pointlessness of giving new powers to players who'd already beat the hardest enemies in the game (Shinryu and Omega), and just gave tokens as rewards for defeating them (in addition to the Ragnarok that Shinryu guards).
In Final Fantasy VI Advance, defeating Kaiser Dragon will net you the Diabolos magicite. It teaches a new spell, which would be ridiculously powerful if not for the fact that, by this point, hitting or even breaking the damage cap is trivial. Plus, there's nothing left to do but beat Omega Weapon (who himself provides nothing) or go to the Soul Shrine.
Final Fantasy VII Defeating the Ruby Weapon earned you Desert Rose, which could be traded for a Gold Chocobo, which can be used to access the supreme Knights of the Round materia. Naturally, this by far the most powerful enemy in the game. Note both bonus bosses are almost impossible to defeat without having the Knights of the Round materia in the first place. If you do it, however, you can brag. The ultimate mastered materia and Gold Chocobo are both attainable without taking on the Weapons, but it will take forever — one editor took about 120 hours to complete the game, largely due to obtaining them the long way.
In Crisis Core, beating Bonus Boss Minerva gives you the uber item Divine Slayer, while completing all missions, for which Minerva is usually the final milestone, gives the even more game breakingly super Heike's Soul. If you did manage to beat her, though, there should be nothing else you need to fear anymore.
Final Fantasy VIII's Omega Weapon gives you a item proving you've defeated it and...an item that teaches an ability to a GF. Said ability lets you use up only one spell when using "Triple" to cast a spell three times. This would be amazingly useful earlier, since literally all that's left to do after that is to fight the final boss. Beating the Omega Weapon also gives the player an extra menu option (hidden under a couple of submenus), which leads to a "certificate" saying that the player has beaten said monster.
In Final Fantasy X-2, there's a powerful item called the Iron Duke, which raises virtually all your stats by either 100 or 50. Unfortunately, to acquire it, you have to beat a Bonus Dungeon and a pair of bosses, one of whom has 255 in all stats. The game has a New Game+ that lets you carry over your accessories but not your levels, so it's still useful there.
In Final Fantasy XII, three particularly grueling tasks — including fighting TWO of the most powerful bonus bosses available — grant you three Badges, which can be combined into the Wyrmhero Blade, the game's Infinity+1 Sword. Perhaps some context should be provided to show just how unforgiving this particular challenge is. In a game where the damage cap is 9999 (discounting the use of Dark Matter or summons), one of the two bosses you must defeat has 1 million HP. The other has 50 million. Although in the latter's case, you can leave at anytime and come back, and it won't recover any HP.
Oh but there's something so, so amazing about the Wyrmhero blade. There's a challenge in which you go through the game without any character levelling up, and without any character unlocking any part of the license board; those who have played the game should be widening their eyes at reading this. And yes - the challenge has been completed, and Yiazmat and Omega XII were both beaten. So here's the thing: they beat Yiazmat and Omega BEFORE completing the game. In the context of the challenge, the final boss is harder than Yiazmat and Omega, because they both have a pattern that you can use to wear away at them without taking any damage. So to do the last boss, yes, they got the Wyrmhero blade and it actually came in handy - they beat the final boss. Note that the blade is a "great sword" - no license board interaction needed! That's why it was more important to them than any other item.
Final Fantasy XIII The Tier 3 weapons. Each one requires a component that costs a whopping 2 million gil to purchase. Since you'll never get that much cash without a ludicrous amount of grinding for Vendor Trash, the only alternative is to collect them as rare drops from Adamantoise. Of course, by the time you get strong enough to kill an Adamantoise, you've probably already beaten the game.
Fallout 2 allows you to obtain the Fallout 2 Hint Book after you clear the game. Reading it—and you can do so multiple times—boosts all your skills to 300% and gives you 10,000 exp. The in-game description explicitly states "Well, THIS would have been good to have at the beginning of the goddamn game". (The game is not designed for it if you do, though. If you hack it in to your inventory, the game won't load properly. On the other hand, if you hack it into, say, being on the ground in front of the Temple of Trials, use it a few times, put it on the ground again, save, and then proceed...)
Broken Steel also has the game-breaking Tesla Cannon, which is only accessible once you initiate the final quest, "Who Dares, Wins", and the Almost Perfect and Nuclear Anomaly perks when you reach the level cap of 30.
The Search For Cheryl is one of the most Guide Dang It-prone unmarked quests, but following it only leads you to some minor loot from graves, and the location of a Behemoth, which you may have already discovered and defeated.
Completing the main Point Lookout quest line earns you the Microwave Emitter (basically a Mesmetron on steroids), but by this time you've probably completed most if not all of the other base game and DLC quests.
Fallout: New Vegas has these weapons but in different ways, economics and leveling. Many of the best weapons in the game use expensive ammo which may barely be available through scavenging. Thus, if you want to use the best weapons in the game, you must scrounge ammo and money, and one of the best ways to do that is to become effective with a less costly weapon. This is true of the previous games but the Gun Runners Arsenal DLC really exacerbates the issue. The DLC adds in a bunch of new weapons, many of which are unique, and ammo types to the game, none of which can just be found lying around and must be purchased. Often the player only has the wealth to use these weapons regularly when their weapons skills are so high that that extra damage you're buying is almost always overkill buy that point, so even carting around some powerful guns is wasteful in the added weight alone.
Lampshaded in the unmarked quest "Not Worth a Hill of Corn and Beans", which requires you to collect a load of junk items to repair Camp McCarran's food processor, but only earns you a discount at the cafeteria, no experience, no caps, nada.
Launching nukes at the NCR and/or the Legion at the end of Lonesome Road unlocks two rather difficult bonus dungeons with unique weapons and armor, but if you can conquer these, you're already powerful enough to curbstomp the opposition at Hoover Dam anyways.
Late in Planescape: Torment, one of the earlier areas is updated to include new monsters with ultra-powerful equipment as random drops. The only problem is that by that point in the game you no longer have any real use for said equipment, because the only area left in the game separates you from your party members and contains almost no combat.
In Dark Cloud, you obtain the Infinity+1 Sword at the end of a dungeon only available after you beat the game. Luckily, thanks to the upgrade system, you can get it before then — not that that's an easy feat.
Every Wild Arms game features the Sheriff Star, usually (but not always) the reward for beating the hardest Bonus Boss in the game. In most incarnations, it has the power of every other accessory in the game.
It's possible to create the Sheriff Star through badge synthesis in Wild ARMs 4 and 5. In fact, in the 5th game you can get enough materials for 1 Sheriff Star and a half in treasure chests.
Each quest you complete in Fable I nets you a trophy that is in essence a useless trinket; you can't really sell them for much, if at all, and aside from an equally useless side quest, showing it off to the locals only builds up your renown, which is easily accrued by other means.
There was one good use for them: gold farming. Buying a house with a lot of trophy display space, decorating it, and selling it results in a tidy profit for the player. You can then proceed to break into the house, steal the trophies back, buy the house again, redecorate it, and repeat ad infinitum. Of course, the money isn't all that useful, either...
Fable II has a unique crossbow that can only be gained for shooting all the gargoyles. Thing is, one gargoyle is only accessible after you've beaten the story and bought the most expensive building in the game, so by the time you get it, there's not much left to do with it.
A variation appears in the first .hack game. It has the standard bonus dungeon at the end, which gives a powerful item for defeating the boss. By this point in the game, you're far too powerful for it to matter... except that the game is split into four games, so that the treasure won at the bonus dungeon can be carried over into the next game, where it's quite useful.
The second series of games (.hack//GU) has the Doppleganger, a Bonus Boss. Doppleganger can be fought at any time in any chapter, but the best items reduce damage to 1/4 and convert HP damage on yourself to MP damage, and require defeating Doppleganger after the end of the last game. You can't even use them unless you are at maximum level. Even if you are maximum level, all that's left is the Bonus Dungeon. The Bonus Dungeon itself provides better item customizations and infinite-use versions of common usable items that cannot be obtained in the main games, but all that's left to use them in is the remaining part of that dungeon.
The Omnipotent Orb in Persona 3. It makes its bearer immune to most types of damage, but can only be obtained either by beating the Bonus Boss or from a 1/100 drop from a certain Persona. And even if you manage to get one before fighting the Bonus Boss, it's still useless for that fight because she'll instantly kill you if you have it equipped when you fight her. Also, said optional boss gives you a Platinum Bookmark upon her defeat, which does nothing except prove that you beat her.
You keep your levels through New Game+, so even supposing you get it without beating the Bonus Boss, you still need lv90 to create the persona that can give it, so there's no need to use it anyway, as you'll be crushing anything in your path with or without it.
There's also Orpheus Telos, a super powered version of your original persona who will blow away every enemy in the game up to and including the final boss with almost no effort. Getting it? You need to get every social link in the game maxed out. This challenge is so difficult you need to have every day planned out to a T and pray the Random Number God will show you mercy and hit level99. And by the time this is done, you'll probably have less than a month to play around with your new source of godly power before the endgame. Hell of a month though.
Orpheus Telos is worse than most high level personas for every fight but the Bonus Boss, because it doesn't null anything. Chances are you'll unlock it, fuse it, and let it rest in there until you get to fight the Bonus Boss.
Persona 4 continued this trend by allowing Yu access to his Eleventh Hour Super Power; Izanagi-No-Okami, in normal gameplay by achieving the same means. Thankfully P4 is much more merciful about deadlines than its predecessor.
However, unlike Persona 3's Orpheus Telos, you can't register Izanagi-No-Okami in the compendium, so you only have until the end of the game to use it.
Completing the Man Tower in Shadow Hearts: Covenant upgrades Joachim's Grand Papillion form into the Great Question... which is functionally identical to the Grand Papillion, although noticeably more powerful.
In Shadow Hearts: New World, your guitar-playing bard can eventually pick up a spell that costs 750 mana—more than you're likely to have until well beyond the end game and as you get this around the 98% completion milestone, you're almost done anyway. Granted, the effect is bad-ass (Third Key effects on all party members for a round), but it's instantly dispelled by bosses, who are pretty much all that's left by then.
In Kingdom Hearts, getting the Defender shield for Goofy and the Wizard's Relic staff for Donald. The Wizard's Relic is only dropped by Wizards and has a 5% drop rate. The Defender is much harder to get since it is dropped only by — you guessed it — Defenders and has a 0.2% drop rate. It's easier to get Save the King and Save the Queen, their most powerful weapons, before eventually getting the two enemy drops.
Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+ has the Final Cut version of the Organization XIIIbonus bosses and Terra: One half of the Org. hands out rare synthesis items, significantly less useful at this point in the game, and the rest hand out items that boost stats by a single digit—which are previously synthable, and if you beat them, of course, you don't need to raise Sora's stats anymore. Also, Terra hands out a synthesis item...that can be found elsewhere. Gee, thanks. Beating Terra also upgrades your Drive Gauge, but chances are that if you can beat Terra you have already reduced the other bonus bosses to a pulp without said upgrade.
The Iris Summon. Collect all djinn from both games, do the bonus dungeon and beat the extremely hard Bonus Boss, and you get the most powerful summon. Yet, at that time there is almost no use to it anymore, after everything has been defeated. Furthermore, it requires an absurdly high amount of djinn: all 72 across both games. In the end, there is rarely a moment where the summon would actually be useful. To really drive the nail in, the only remotely challenging thing left by the time you get this summon is the final boss... who's resistant to the summon's element.
In the Playstation 2 version of Romancing SaGa, killing the Jewel Beast - a gigantic, ancient monster that, if you wait too long, will roam the countryside systematically destroying entire towns - nets you a paltry amount of currency and a ring you can buy in a shop in one of the game's central cities.
The Fell Arms in Tales of Vesperia fall under this as well, as after obtaining them, the only way to empower them is to fight against Duke, who has decided to go  on you by transforming into the Radiant Winged One... Did I mention said being is the FINAL BOSS? Have fun using your weapons on nothing else outside of a New Game Plus.
Another problem with the Arms weapons is that the scaling on them is rather slow and the player-controlled character tends to hog most of the kills in normal gameplay, which usually means that all but one or two of them will be weaker than the respective Infinity-1 Swords unless the player goes out of their way to empower the weapons by grinding kills.
The Catalysts in Tales of the Abyss are even worse than the Devil's Arms. At the very earliest point you can unlock their power, the only thing you have left to do plot-wise is beat the final boss. Also, the Bonus Boss for the Catalysts is harder than Abyssion.
Shinies. Yes, they look cool, but they're exactly like a normal Pokémon except with an 1 in 8,192 chance of appearing. And they make a sparkly sound effect and animation on appearing in battle.
In most games filling out your Pokedex only nets you bragging rights, although some games give you rewards that might be useful for competitive play.
Getting a Pikachu that knows Surf from Pokémon Stadium. First you have to clear everything in Stadium to unlock Round 2, the game's hard mode, and then use a Gameboy transferred team, that isn't registered, with any Pikachu you have in the party. Then you have to go through the R-2 Prime Cup Master Ball Division - the hardest in the game - with a Pikachu as one of your three Pokemon, which already limits your options. Using Pokemon Yellow cuts out having to capture a Pikachu the hard way, but you still have to pretty much clear your respective Game Boy cartridge and Pokemon Stadium and then, if you want to stand a chance, practically max out your party's levels, which is pretty time-consuming. And all of this for a single move that isn't all that special, and a basic Excitebike-esque minigame with no other rewards.
Assist Mode on White 2. It's essentially an easy mode that you get by beating the Elite 4, and if you can get that far in the game, you probably don't need much help for the post-game stuff. You can transfer it to another cartridge that's earlier in the game, but if you use it in the cartridge that you unlock it on, it's pretty much useless.
Beating Bonus Boss Culex in Super Mario RPG netted you 244 EXP points and the Quartz Charm. The game really obfuscates just what the hell it does, so many people have the wrong idea about it. What it actually does is silently auto-cast Attack and Defense Up on the character, as well as prevent instant KO attacks (the stat gains showed on the equip screen are really just predictions of the effects of the attack and defense ups). Of course, Geno can give the entire party Attack and Defense Up in one turn for a piddling amount of FP, and there are two other, easier to obtain accessories that grant instant KO protection and provide other actual benefits to boot. So unless you really really need to have all three characters have instant KO protection (hint: you don't), it's pretty worthless even if you hadn't just beaten the toughest boss in the game.
Akachi's Scythe and Spiritual Evisceration Well, you can save the character to play on different module, but no one is going to let any character with Spiritual Evisceration one-shot kill everything in their modules.
A couple of different NWN2 fan modules give you an Infinity+1 Sword at the exact moment you no longer need it.
Defeating the uber Bonus Boss Demi-Fiend in Digital Devil Saga earns you...absolutely nothing. However, if you port a game complete save with the Demi-Fiend beaten to Devil Saga 2, you'll gain the Amala Ring in the second-last dungeon. Amala Ring boosts all stats by 10, which is nice, but if you're aiming for the uber Bonus Boss of DDS2, Satan, it's ultimately worthless, and you'll also be gaining the Aura Ring from another Bonus Boss in the game, which boosts all stats by 20 anyway. Which is even more pointless, since you don't really need those stats by then anymore. Also, beating Satan earns you absolutely nothing, again.
Defeating the last Bonus Boss nets you the Tri-Emblem, a super-powerful accessory which you obviously won't need anymore. But it doesn't end here. In fact, you can go and beat said boss nine more times before you get, after your tenth victory, a totally overpowered sword, which would be neat if you weren't already totally overpowered after going through this dungeon no less than ten times.
This also applies to Silmeria and Covenant. Same dungeon, same amount of runs, same boss. Quite amusingly, since there's already an Angel Slayer in Covenant, they have to separate the I+ 1 sword from the Hel sword by use of (TM). Yeah, they put a trademark on the real sword's name.
Monster Hunter does this quite often, especially with the Training Quest rewards and the weapons unlocked by clearing the game (in Unite). The classic example is the weapons and armor you can make out of the Last Boss(es) of the game. By the time you can forge a full set of armor (and maybe a weapon or two), you have already killed everything there is to kill in the game multiple times.
The Dreamcast version of Skies of Arcadia is notable for having an absurdly high random encounter rate. However, there is an Encounter Repellant you can equip that slightly reduces the frequency of random battles. Unfortunately, you get it as a reward for finding all of the Discoveries in the game, which can take nearly forever without a game guide (and still takes some time if you have one), and which requires you to have almost beaten the game. So by the time you get it, you will have acquired the ability to fly above the clouds (which means no battles in the world map), and you will have probably beaten all the dungeons. Therefore, you have no use for it anymore.
The final weapon orbs randomly drop from enemies in the final dungeon (The Mana Fortress). The final boss can't be hurt with the weapons these orbs power up, though admittedly he comes straight after another, somewhat more conventional boss. Besides, you'd have to go all the way back to the beginning of the dungeon just to be able to use them!
There's also the fact that the so called level 9 weapons have no added effects like the previous levels do (save for the level 1/2 versions).
In the DS release of Chrono Trigger, you receive Crono's best weapon, The Dreamseeker, (essentially a slightly more powerful Rainbow; about 20 more power and 20% more critical hits) after beating the Bonus Boss. By this point you almost certainly have an attack power of 254 without it, just one point below the cap. Even if there was anything worth using it on, it still wouldn't be much of an upgrade.
In Eye of the Beholder 3 an optional dungeon called The Mausoleum near the start of the game gives you a "Rod Of Restoration" as a reward... guess where the only enemies that use what it cures are.
Defeating the Bonus Boss in Devil Survivor grants you the ability to fuse a massively depoweredmons version of that boss. At that point you literally have only two fights to go until the end: Not only will you be so ludicrously overleveled at that point that you could beat the game without the use of mons, but the new monster you unlocked will likely be weaker than the two (unique) demons you'll have to fuse together to get it.
Sam Carter, the quartermaster at the UNATCO HQ, will give the player some extra sniper rifle ammo if the player didn't kill anyone on one of the previous assingments. Handy if you decide to change your mind about the whole 'no-killing' thing, but otherwise, not terribly useful.
Similarly, in The Nameless Mod, you can deal with a gang in the area you start in by explaining the situation to their leader and kindly asking them to leave, and doing this gives you some ammo for your signaturedual pistols when you talk to someone at PDX. Trestkon is quick to lampshade how he's being given lethal ammo for solving a problem peacefully.
This is what the entire gameplay of Diablo 2 is about. The game goes something like this: make a new character. Beat Normal difficulty. Farm some items and levels before continuing. Beat Nightmare difficulty. Farm some items and levels before continuing. Beat Hell difficulty to complete the game. Proceed to grind a specific dungeon/boss hundreds of times looking for powerful items. Trade those items for even better items. Level Grind to 99 by doing a different dungeon/boss hundreds of times. Continue grinding for items. Trade more. Perhaps buy some for real money off third party item sweatshops. Eventually after many many hours you have the best and most optimal item setup for your character, with which you can... grind for items even faster.
Etrian Odyssey games have so far played it straight, giving you the best katana in the game for beating the biggest bonus boss, leaving nothing to actually use it on. Similarly, you get an extra accessory that boosts all stats for recording all available items in the game, which actually requires you to kill all enemies in the game multiple many times over (depending on the game).
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has the Dragon Priest Masks. There are eight undead Dragon Priests scattered around the country. Each one is a powerful and tough spellcaster. For each one you destroy, you get his unique enchanted mask. If you collect all eight masks and place them on the special altar in Labyrinthian, you get the golden mask, Konahrik. Konahrik heals you when you're badly injured and has a chance of damaging nearby enemies, an enchantment that's not as powerful as some of the others, and not very useful for somebody strong enough to obtain it. Further making it useless, one of the masks is obtained from a Dragon Priest in the final dungeon of the main story that you're unable to return to, making it potentially Lost Forever.
Paper Mario 64 has the Dojo Master whom you can fight 3 times. The first time isn't so hard, the 2nd time is a bit tougher, and the final fight is comparable to the final boss. Your reward is a simple certificate saying that you're the new master. There's no benefit to this side quest other than proving you can beat the final boss with ease by beating someone else that fights like a final boss.
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has Bonus Boss Bonetail at the very bottom of the Pit of 100 Trials. You have to fight increasingly difficult enemies on the way down to Bonetail and Bonetail himself is stronger than the final boss, including having 200 HP while the final boss only has 150 HP. Beating Bonetail earns you a badge that lets Mario automatically counterattack any enemy, but by the time you get the badge, you're probably good enough enough block or counterattack on your own anyway.
The trend continues in Super Paper Mario. Your reward for beating the Pit of 100 Trials (found in Flipside) is a Pixl that lets you move faster and it unlocks the Flopside equivalent of the Pit of 100 Trials. This is where BRR comes into play. For beating Flopside's pit, you're told to do it again. For this? You get capture cards of the party (increasing your power), capture cards of the boss (who cannot be fought again), and unlimited flip time for Mario. At this point there's really not much, unless you have yet to conquer the Sammer Kingdom duels, which becomes a bit easier. Of course finally, the reward for that is merely capture cards if your party from the previous game.
In Ni No Kuni, beating the Bonus Boss of the game gets you... a car. This would have been fine if it weren't for the fact that you have a dragon as your transportation. The Bonus Boss fight however is repeatable and does get stronger whenever you fight it though.
In the Mario & Luigi series, much of the bonus equipment comes under this in general. For instance, getting a huge amount of beans by carefully scouring the overworld in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time may get you the (insanely overpowered) Ulti-Free Badge, but you only have the required amount of beans by the Very Definitely Final Dungeon if you don't grind mini games for hours, so it's not that practical in the main adventure. In Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, you get the best gear for the Mario Bros and Bowser by beating all the Bros Attack challenges... something which takes longer and is arguably far more difficult than beating the actual final boss or bonus boss you'd like to use them against. And in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, you have both this and Junk Rare in one foul swoop, with the Mad Skillathon and Battle Broque Madame prizes being both not worth the effort to get and outclassed by items you can just buy in shops to begin with.
The first Boktai game got really carried away with these:
The Azure Sky Tower. Beating it the first time was worth it, as it was only 12 floors to go up and would net you one of several rather handy gun parts (which one you got was random). Doing the trade mini-quest (which required several other players, games, and link cables) to get additional ones or actually building the tower up to 99 floors (Which took hours and you couldn't save) was not, as all you got was the handy but rather underpowered Guardian Frame.
Similarly, the Dark Gun parts were not worth beating the game three times over with a good rank. They had the highest ratings of all the gun parts in the game, but were also Dark-Elemental and couldn't be used with any other parts. Since most enemies and bosses were also Dark-Elemental, the gun couldn't even stun or damage them.
There is also the Infinite Battery (Sheesh, guys). You had to beat the game on Hard with an overall S rank and the pink solar tree obtained (which took about four play throughs already to obtain).
Thankfully they learned their lesson by the time Lunar Knights rolled around. The Vambery is difficult and takes forever to beat, since it's a less tedious spiritual successor to the Azure Sky Tower, but the items you earn are well worth the effort.
The Bonus Boss of Ys: The Ark of Napishtim is a Guide Dang It to find, and to beat it, you need to be near the Absurdly High Level Cap. By that time, you probably won't even need the Eldian Orb from the treasure chest in its room. However, if you discover the room at a lower level, you can still dodge its attacks and grab the orb as a Disc One Nuke.
Veteran mode in Alpha Protocol. To unlock it you have to beat the game in Recruit mode which gives you the least amount of skill points. Veteran mode gives you the biggest amount of skill points, but unlocking it means you've proven that you're capable of beating the game with a severely gimped Player Character anyway.
Touhou Labyrinth has the True Final Boss of the game drop an equipment piece that provides a hefty boost to both defensive stats, providing what at first appears to be a standard form of the trope. However the equipment piece provided doesn't even get the honour of being the most powerful equipment piece, that distinction belongs to the item dropped by the boss that comes right before the True Final Boss. You do get a star on your savefile though.
Shoot Em Ups
If you make the high score list of Missile Command, you won't get taken to the nightmare- and seizure-inducing "THE END" screen.
Subverted with Judgement Silversword's Special mode. The Final Boss drops a 3-Up upon defeat. You don't need any more extra lives at this point to finish the game, but the three extra lives do add to your massive end-of-game bonus points.
After catching every insect/fish in all the Animal Crossing games, you are rewarded with a Golden version of the Bug net/Fishing rod, which allows you to catch the two more easily. However, at this point, you'll have no need to catch any more of the things outside of maybe earning money for upgrades to your house/town. Also, in the DS version, there are no bonuses for fully upgrading your house at all (the Gamecube version had a Golden Statue in front of the Train Station for paying off the last upgrade).
Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception has you unlock the game's best Game Breakercool planes, the Fenrir, only after completing the campaign on the highest Ace difficulty. There is a similar case for the XFA-27 in Ace Combat 2 on Hard Extra mode. Averted with the best planes in 4, 5, 0 and 6 though, where you can unlock them without needing to beat the highest difficulty.
Air Force Delta Strike features bonus planes from older, famous Konami games that are unlocked only after beating the game; they each come with their own background music.
Marrying the Harvest Goddess in Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town. By the time you've filled all the requirements to marry her (shipping one of every item, completing the recipe list, etc.), you've mostly likely done everything there is to do in the game except get married and have a kid. Even after you're married, she still lives in the Goddess Pond, you still have to give an offering just to talk to her, and she only even shows up in your farmhouse for special events.
In the first Rune Factory, marrying Lynette was pretty much all about the bragging, as you couldn't even meet her until after finishing the whole plot. Rune Factory 4 has Doug, who's in town from day one but whose heart level won't pass three until you clear the main plot, and you need ten hearts to marry. He's also nigh-useless in dungeons as a partner. Like Lynette, he's a member of the Sechs Empire, too.
In Metal Gear Solid 4, you can unlock the headband, which gives you infinite ammo, by making it through the game without killing anyone. By the same token, you can get the stealth item by getting through the game without being spotted. What this means? You have to be good enough to not need ammo or better stealth to get it. Oh, and using them in later playthroughs means you won't be able to get certain emblems which require things like "Beat the game without healing, dying, being spotted or killing anyone, on the hardest difficulty, in five hours or less."
Assassin's Creed II has the Armor of Altaďr, which requires that the player clear six platforming side missions (mostly with very little in the way of combat), but its only unique property is that its pieces can't break. By the time you would be able to acquire it, your character would likely have been swimming in more than enough money to buy both the Missaglias armor set (which has the same number of health squares) and to keep it repaired. Likewise, although the Sword of Altaďr is the bar-none best medium weapon in the game, it's still second to the Hidden Blade(s)' ability to fatally counter attack any non-boss enemy in the game, which is available far earlier.
The nature of the 'Synchronization' stat suggests that Ezio historically acquired all of them, which was confirmed in Brotherhood.
The trueBragging Rights Reward: Spread throughout the world, which spans five large cities, there are 100 feathers. They shine just a little bit, and are hidden in every nigh impossible spot to find. The reward one gets for finding all these (which would take anyone using a Guide Dangit near two hours) is a 20 second cutscene in which Ezio's mom says thanks, then gives him the Auditore Cape that's only function is make everybody attack him on sight. Everywhere.
But on the bright side, it's just about the only cape that goes well with that Armour of Altair you got earlier.
You get an achievement for getting all the feathers (and another for wearing the Auditore Cape in every area), so this is required for 100% Completion. Take that for what it's worth.
And this is re-done, of course, in the next two games.
There are two unlockable weapons in Resident Evil 4 of this nature: the Handcannon, which can be upgraded to have unlimited ammo and have obscene firepower, and the P.R.L. 412, which, when fully charged, instantly kills everything in the area. The former is unlocked by getting five stars on all four levels with all five characters in Mercenaries mode, and the latter by completing Professional Mode, and those are the two most difficult tasks in the game—accomplishing both tasks means that you've proven that you're capable of conquering anything the game throws at you, and it has some pretty nasty things within arm's reach.
The Rocket Launcher and Gatling Gun in Resident Evil 2. The former requires you to speedrun through the game in 2 1/2 hours, the latter requires completing the game without saving.
The Culture Experiment room. Unlocking it only gets you some Scenery Porn / Scenery Gorn, a music piece heard nowhere else in the game, an ambush by Super Lickers, and a clip for the Too Awesome to Use submachine gun.
In the first Fatal Frame, the Bragging Rights Reward would be the upgrade you get as a reward for getting max rank on every battle mode challenge. It's by far the hardest camera upgrade to unlock, and while it would have been quite useful early on (it gives you infinite ammo), by the time you complete this challenge you've probably already gotten the game's Infinity+1 Sword and beaten the game on the hardest difficulty.
Beating Hardcore Mode in Dead Space 2 unlocks the Hand Cannon, a giant foam glove that one-shots almost every enemy in the game (as well as not needing ammo, a very handy trait in a survival horror game). Because Hardcore mode is a separate difficulty, it's entirely possible to obtain it before you've unlocked everything, and as Hardcore mode isn't actually as hard as the game gets (it's between the top two difficulties, but you only get 3 saves), it can be used to breeze past Zealot mode. In practice, however, players who beat Hardcore mode before beating Zealot are rare indeed.
For finding every in-game trading card in Deadly Premonition, your reward is a Laser Blade: An unbreakable two-handed melee weapon with a fast attack, huge range, and the ability to down just about every enemy in one shot. However, getting every trading card in the game means doing just about every sidequest... including replaying all the combat areas one more time in order to find the trading cards hidden there. Unless you left the combat areas immediately after finding the cards, and thus forgot to pick up the other hidden superweapons left lying at their very ends, there's nothing left to do with said sword. Except break crates.
Third Person Shooter
In Ratchet & Clank, it's a high chance you'll get the 150,000 bolts required for the RYNO BFG only after you defeat the incredibly frustrating last boss. This can be subverted if you abuse a glitch in Blackwater City, though.
In Ratchet: Deadlocked, the Ninja Ratchet cheat boosts Ratchet's speed. To get it, you need all of the Exterminator cards. How do you get those? By getting all of the Mega weapons, Omega Mods, and Skill Points, maxing out your health, and beating every mission on the highest difficulty. The only thing left to do afterward is to max out all of your weapon levels.
The Energy Blaster in Odium. By the time you find it, you're three battles away from the ending, and it's useless in one of them because the monsters are immune to it, while the second one can be easily won without using it. You'll at most use it once or twice against the final boss.
In multiple games in the Fire Emblem series, it is possible to unlock certain otherwise impossible to get boss characters (usually up to and including the respective Big Bad)...for Trial Maps, which have no experience gain, no story and no real purpose other than kicking some ass with your high-level endgame army. You usually get these by beating the game multiple times.
Fire Emblem Awakening, this trope is subverted twice (then played straight) by the DLC. First there's the Limit Break skill (A skill which raises a character's caps by 10...which to obtain takes beating Rogues and Redeemers 3, a DLC map that has you fighting 50 enemies stronger than what the final chapter in the main game has) and there's also Priam (A character who you get from a Spotpass Paralogue (Endgame side mission) who starts capped in nearly every stat.)... considering by time you get either they'd be worthless... then they throw The Strongest One's Name at you, and that requires use of Capped Characters WITH Limit Break to even stand a chance. The reward for beating that map? A DLC character, Katarina, who's far too weak to be of any use to someone who's army is capable of beating the map, and an item called the Supreme Emblem, which is just Vendor Trash worth 99,999 gold, which you likely don't need.
The Blaster Launcher in XCOM: Enemy Unknown borders on a Cosmetic Award when compared to its predecessor, granting only a 50% increase in damage over the rocket launcher it replaces and the ability to shoot around corners (though the same limited range). You get it by downing and clearing a battleship, the hardest challenge in the game.
Wide Open Sandbox
The rewards for achieving 100% Completion in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas are a Rhino tank and Hydra jet that continually spawn at your hideout, as well as infinite ammunition for all weapons. Of course, since this is a sandbox game, it's still a lot of fun wreaking havoc with these things, so they're only useless in the sense that there are no more missions to complete.
After completing the final achievement in the console version of Spider-Man 2, the player can purchase the final webswing speed upgrade. However, this is the final upgrade to purchase and therefore the player no longer needs it to win races in order to earn points.
In the next game, after you defeat the final boss, spider emblems appear around the city, and if you collect all fifty, you can unlock the black suit under your control (i.e. you no longer have a problem with rage). Unfortunately, since you can't re-fight bosses, you get the suit back when all you have to beat up are gang mooks.
The cross-platform western sandbox Gun gave you the BFG that was effectively a rapid-fire, 5-barreled shotgun after killing the final boss. The problem was the only thing to do was to beat a few leftover missions with it. If you had already beat all the side missions before taking on the final boss, the 5-barreled shotgun got upgraded to a 5-barreled explosive shotgun. At this point there was nothing left to kill with it besides a few random bandits and innocent townfolk. To add to the awesomeness, remember that these guns were used in a game where you primarily wielded 19th century bows and rifles.
Not to mention the practically immortal horse (heals so fast nothing can damage it enough to kill it) when you reach 100 % completion, at which point there is nothing left to do with it. Especially annoying when you consider that when on horseback, the horse takes all damage for you.
Gun becomes a complete subversion of this if you actually manage to pull off the near-impossible and impossible to find cheat near Blackfoot Territory. Doing so unlocks a level select which lets you replay any and all missions with a full gear load-out.
In The Godfather: The Game you get Bottomless Magazines as a reward for becoming Don of NYC. Unfortunately, to do so you'll most likely have taken over all businesses, rackets and other stuff belonging to the other four families. There is also no New Game+. As a result, while there are The Remnant lying around there's no real need for this endless ammo.
Red Dead Redemptiongives you the Bureau Uniform after 100% game completion. This outfit gives you complete immunity from the law (even in Mexico) no matter what you do. The only problem is with 100% of the game done, there is not much one can exploit with this outfit.
Although since this game is a sandbox, and the law is a continual thorn in your side while trying to reach 100% completion, it can be considered an opportunity to really have fun getting up to no-good mischief and murdering civilians without having to worry too much about Save Scumming.
A few of the abilities you can get in Saints Row: The Third is abilities to reduce, and ultimately wipe, your police and gang notoriety levels. Unfortunately, your level needs to be in the high 30s/40s (of 50) to purchase them (beating the campaign will naturally put you at around level 35), you can't use them in story missions, and if you've beaten the game the streets are nearly wiped of gang members, cops, and STAG troopers, leaving the abilities useless unless one continuously plays the random stronghold defense missions over and over.
Notoriety wipe returns in Saints Row IV, and it's even more useless because of both your super powers and the fact that an easier and faster way of wiping your wanted level exists: Chasing down and destroying a gold ball for 20 seconds.
To get the Hallowed gear and the best weapons in Terraria requires souls dropped by each of the Hardmode Bosses in the game, the very things you are probably wanting said gear to kill.
In Scarface: The World is Yours, getting 100% Completion gets Tony's ladies to come along as additional firepower. Unfortunately, by this point you won't have any real opposition, only some weak gangs in the unsettled areas, making them a waste.
Record of Lodoss War for the Dreamcast does this twice. Ramala the green dragon gives you random equipment during the battle; each time you hit, you gain a new item, which useful if you haven't gathered all the full armor sets yet (don't forget to go into this battle with an empty inventory). It's unlikely that you will actually need these armors, as many of the best are given or earned from boss fights or rare enemy encounters in previous areas. Narse the black dragon, however, is worse. Narse is far more powerful than Ramala, and requires a lot of grinding and weapon forging just to hurt. Prior to facing him, you must face 31 minibosses and their normal retinue. (These 31 must be faced a second time in the game's overworld to collect 31 tokens required to summon Ramala, so this is either your first or second time fighting them all.) To prove yourself worthy of an audience, you must also be wearing the armour of the dragon avatar, the pieces of which are found by facing 3 more super-tough minibosses. After all that work, and after delivering over 25 million HP worth of damage, Narse finally falls... and leaves you with the Dragon Killer runestone. If Ramala is still alive, this kills her in about 8 hits, which you don't want to do regardless, as filling your inventory with the best armors to sell requires some love-tapping. If she isn't, then there are no more dragon enemies in the entire game, save for the baby drakes in the ice caverns who already die in a single hit. The only bonus is that it makes for some funny damage totals on said wussy drakes (you can max out the damage counter at 99 million).
One of the games listed on the Top 15 Worst Endings list for Computer Gaming World's 15th anniversary gave the player 150,000 experience upon completion. As they put it, "for what?"
After defeating the Final Boss in the dungeon crawler From the Abyss, you can send your character back to the shop owner after saving your game clear data, and he will reward you with the Rubengart ring, the best accessory in the game (+ 15 to all stats, and resistance to every element). Of course, you've already defeated the Abyss Demon King, the most powerful monster in the land, so a few extra points to INT doesn't really mean much at this point.
This is Lampshaded in the description of the Azure Dragongem, a rare carve from Tri's Final Boss: "The fact that you are even holding this legendary jewel means you are FINISHED."
Warblade has a lot of these:
There are 36 achievements that give special, permanent bonuses for a New Game+, as well as 30 "secrets" that give you a score bonus or some unusual effect for fulfilling the requirements to. Some of these have rather brutal requirements:
Play 100,000 levels in total (even if you factor in a secret which adds 500 levels to this total, it should still take three weeks of solid gameplay).
Get 200,000,000 points before level 100 (you need to be really lucky with bonus rounds and multipliers for this one).
Get 20,000,000 in time trial mode (it's rare to get more than three million),
Collect a money doubler with zero cash(A bit of a waste of a rare powerup, but aside from that, you can use the New Game+ to start with a money. Because of the annoying prices for things, it's difficult and dangerous to end up with no money at all)
Complete a level in one second (good luck with that).
Collect the E-X-T-R-A powerups in correct order (reverse order works too)
Collect rank markers in rainbow order to get a secret which gives an extremely expensive item for free when completed.
Rank markers in the opposite order is the secret which adds 500 levels, as above.
Champion Rank requires competing 24 bonus levels perfectly in a row.
The real Bragging Rights Award is God Rank. Do get it, you need to get the six badges:
Get all 36 achievements
Get all 30 secrets
Finish a game with $999,990 (The normal maximum is $99,990. You need to do a difficult, time consuming, and seemingly unrelated process to limit break. This is also one of the 30 secrets.)
Complete 5 Meteor Storm bonus rounds in a row with a speed percentage of 95% or more (probably the easiest badge).
Completing just one Meteor Storm bonus round with a speed percentage of 95% or more while a powerup that reverses your controls is active.
Finish 501 bonus levels, at least 376 of which must be perfectly completed.
When you have all the badges, get all 30 secrets in one game. The final secret must be unlocked somewhere after level 500.
Finally, as a very easy last step, collect all six rank markers.
THEN, there are the planet ranks, which are so difficult that nobody knows how to get them.
Says Gamewinners.com's Warblade hint on unlocking the planet ranks:
The Jaleco arcade game Avenging Spirit uses a Body Surfing gimmick as part of it's gameplay, seeing as how you play as a ghost. You can possess every enemy in the game to get through the stages, but achieving 100% Completion via finding three keys strewn throughout the levels allows you to possess and use your girlfriend, who you have been trying to save throughout the entirety of the game. Girlfriend is invincible and is the fastest and strongest character in the game, but the only thing left for her to fight is a handful of mooks in a corridor and the Final Boss. At least you get a nice Golden Ending for your troubles...
Skullz has a Bonus Boss that is only unlocked after the final boss is defeated. Beating it nets you two new weapons, which is pretty awesome considering you've been using the same weapon for the entire game, and they both have pretty badass effects. There's nothing left to use them on except enemies, as all the bosses are defeated, and it's more than likely that your stats are just about maxed at this point.
Plague Inc. has three bonus "cheat" modes – Immune Plague (which cannot be cured), Hidden Plague (which humans never try to stop), and Unlimited Plague (which starts with enough "DNA" points to buy all disease symptoms, transmission vectors, and special abilities instead of having to earn DNA as you go). You can pay to unlock them early (for several times more than the game cost in the first place), or do it in-game by beating every non-cheat level first. On the hardest difficulty setting.
Complete all the achievements in flash game Tripod Attack to unlock the "cool menu," which lets you double your damage, armor, and shields. Completing all the achievements involves beating the game and all the challenge modes.