"This is a place where having the ability to bake cakes is a mark of considerable status!"In video games, seemingly common items often take an excessive amount of effort or money to acquire. You may expect an item to be common based on real-life experience and even see them used all over the place in the game, but you can't pick one up until you've completed the proper Side Quest. Probably not until much later into the game. This is frequently seen with capacity upgrades. Being able to hold more money and items is a big deal in a lot of games, so coming across a wallet or sack fifty floors deep into an ancient dungeon often makes the whole trip Worth It. Par for the course in most Point-and-Click Adventure Games, where there tends to only be one book of matches, or one pencil in the entire game universe. A form of Gameplay and Story Segregation. Often applies to parts in a Chain of Deals. See also Unusable Enemy Equipment. Contrast Junk Rare.
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- The Legend of Zelda:
- In many games in the series, glass bottles are extremely valuable to Link; he usually can only find about four of them in each game and it requires searching the farthest, most remote places in Hyrule. Yet there's frequently a thriving milk industry, and potion sellers can't only be selling to people who have traveled past The Lost Woods to get the one glass bottle that Farmer Brown is only willing to give to someone who completes his mini-game. You don't need (usually explicitly magical) glass bottles to drink potions or milk, except you do because the game won't let you use anything else. In Skyward Sword, the rarity of glass bottles (one NPC equates being allowed to keep one as adequate reward for saving his sister's life) is actually justified this time around. Glass is made from sand, sand is crushed rocks, and the Floating Continent everybody lives on has an alarmingly finite amount of habitable land as it is. Breaking any up to smelt glass (which can easily fall from the island or shatter into uselessness) would have very permanent consequences. On the other hand, it's playfully lampshaded in A Link Between Worlds. The vendor selling a bottle for a high price is noted by a nearby shopkeeper to be a charlatan, and one character gives you a bottle after he's done using it with the expectation that you'll throw it away.
- Getting an "adult's wallet" that carries more Rupees seems to always require fantastic feats and gifts from supernatural creatures. This despite Link's apparent Hyperspace Arsenal/Bag of Holding inventory. It's the same with larger quivers and bomb bags, too, although in the case of the bomb bag, several games state that they're crafted by Gorons and made of odd or rare materials like dodongo stomachs and/or the woven fibers of bomb flowers.
- While the only bow in the land is always locked in a dungeon, shops still sell arrows and enemies with bows still exist. There's even a market catering to people with bows, in the form of shooting mini-games. This one is partially justified in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, where it's heavily implied that the Hero's Bow is unique and magical. Averted in Link's Awakening, where you can actually purchase the bow for an exorbitant 980 rupees (or steal it).
- In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, a sidequest involves a ghost on the toilet asking for "any kind of paper". Despite there being a lot of books and paper pieces in the classroom, as well as several rather pointless paper notices you can read on the wall, the only piece of paper you're allowed to give is the love letter a classmate asked you to give to a girl. And no, after the girl shoots the letter down you're not getting it back.
- A similarly-appearing character in need of paper appears in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. And you can give him a love letter too, except the love letter here should actually be used to start another sidequest. As an alternative, a Title Deed can be given as well, but it too has another intended purpose. Time Travel solves the dilemma.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has the rubber armor set, which reduces damage from electricity and can make you completely immune to it if upgraded. In this case, the rarity of rubber is justified by the fact that no one knows how to make it anymore.
- Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin has one Guide Dang It! example - the longsword. A simple weapon, probably obsolete at the time you pick it up. What takes this from oddity to hair-tearingly frustrating is that while these were as common as you'd expect in other Metroidvania games, there's only one here, it's necessary for a sidequest (and with only 5 available at a time, you want to complete these), you won't know this until some time later, and there's nothing stopping you from selling it.
- An interesting case with Donkey Kong. In the Donkey Kong Country CG cartoon, the Crystal Coconut was a rare and powerful artifact that the bad guys were trying to steal. In Donkey Kong 64, it's not all that hard to acquire a large number of them, as you use them to access special abilities.
- In Maniac Mansion and its sequel, Day of the Tentacle, nothing physically prevents you from leaving the Edison Mansion, which causes some Fridge Logic when considering the ludicrous lengths you have to go through to get commonplace objects such as an envelope and stamps (in the first game) or a bottle of vinegar (in the second). Possibly justified in that both games are set at night, and the mansion is in the middle of nowhere, possibly hours away from the nearest shop.
- Leisure Suit Larry 1: You need a rope to tie yourself to a railing in order to get some pills. It turns out you can't just buy that rope but have to shower a sleazy girl in a disco with lots of gifts, pick her up, marry her, order some wine to your suite, let her tie you to the bed, and after she's robbed you blind and vanished for good, you can cut the rope with a pocket knife you received elsewhere for another bottle of wine.
- Granted, The Perils of Akumos takes place on a space station, but you still go to odd lengths to find a used coffee cup.
- The entire Interactive Fiction game Curses! is about the main character trying to get a Tourist Map of Paris. It turns out to require breaking an ancient family curse and time traveling several times to obtain.
- In King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder!, you need an old boot to throw at a cat so that its prey will give you vital assistance later on. This otherwise useless object can only be found in the middle of a Thirsty Desert.
First Person Shooter
- There is only one Fetch Quest in Left 4 Dead 2—and that's to get a gun shop owner a six-pack of cola. (Oddly enough, the corner store where the cola is located has only the cola in it—all the shelves are bare.) This is also the goal of the "Hard Rain" campaign—fight your way through zombie hordes, a sugar mill full of witches and a hurricane to get gas for the boat. Justified in that the closest gas station had already been emptied by people fleeing by car.
- In Far Cry 2, one mission requires you to go to a diamond mine to steal some dynamite, which you're told you'll need to destroy a water pump. The only practical way of getting the dynamite is killing all of the mercenaries guarding the mine, and there are at least a dozen of them, meaning that this little fetch task inevitably turns into a full blown firefight. This all seems very pointless, since you have RPGs, hand grenades, improvised explosive devices and M79 grenade launchers available at this point, and any one of those should have had no trouble with the fragile-looking pump. It's even worse when it comes to ammo upgrades. When you can only carry 90 total assault rifle bullets, a 67% increase to 150 sounds pretty good. In real life, you could achieve this exact thing with a double-mag pouch, which you can find at a tactical store or online for about $15. In game, you must pay 15 golf ball-sized DIAMONDS. Damn, how much for just a fanny pack?
- Team Fortress 2: The (in)famous hats, which are the most demanded and valuable items in the whole game despite not having practical use besides looking cool. How rare are they? With the current item-drop system, there's a minuscule chance (1 in 128, possibly even lower) that you might get one after 15 mins. to 2 hrs of play, but most of time you'll get a random weapon. However, there's a weekly cap for dropped items, (roughly 7 - 12 per week) after which you'll not get new items until next week. You can also use the crafting system in order to get one, but it takes from 54 (to craft a random one) to 75 weapons (to get a class-specific one) in order to do so, which translates into several months worth of game-play.
- Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light have disconcerting scarcities of gas mask filters. Considering that almost every single common model of gas mask in the world uses the same 40mm threads and compatible filters, it's strange that you can only use a few of the otherwise rather abundant filters and masks scattered around the Metro. For comparison, it's like not being able to use television remotes unless they were made by Panasonic, and are powered by Rayovac non-rechargeable AA's.
- In one of the vending machines in BioShock, a cream-filled cake is around $90 despite it being found on the floor anywhere. This was done to show how without any capital control the companies could charge whatever price they want. Said machine is in a theater hallway, doubling it as a Take That! against real life concession stands' exorbitant markups.
- In BioShock Infinite, most of the vigors seem to be mass-produced as alternate power sources or have other industrial applications, so they shouldn't exactly be rare. However, a whole long level is dedicated to retrieving a single bottle of the Shock Jockey vigor to fix one of the game's Broken Bridge. Made even more egregious by seeing an overturned cargo container full of said vigor bottles in the next level.
- The 650 gold Bottle in Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars, which is 200 gold more expensive than a Robe of the Magi. It's just a bottle. It holds water from the healing fountain. A healing potion costs 115 and comes as a similar vial plus contents. Not to mention the very precious Cheese, which fully heals you and is the hardest item in the game to acquire (requiring 3 Roshan kills) whereas the Aegis of the Immortal which resurrects the wielder requires one Roshan kill.
Real Time Strategy
- In Offworld Trading Company, glass is one of the final resources and is very valuable. It can't be mined, only manufactured by combining Silicon and Oxygen into silicon dioxide—more commonly known as sand.
- Two of most useful items in the game are a magic marker and a can of grease. Both are disgustingly uncommon. note The Magic Marker is not actually commonplace (because it is, as the name implies, an actually magical marker, capable of writing scrolls that can genocide entire species ); but the can of grease is an entirely mundane and ordinary can of grease.
- Another inexplicably uncommon item: shirts. T-shirts and Hawaiian shirts have no armor value in and of themselves, but can be enchanted to give a valuable extra few points of protection. If you can find one. Wishing or polymorphing may be necessary. Unless you play as a tourist, in which case you'll be wearing one at the start of the game.
- Money is surprisingly rare in The Binding of Isaac to enforce the theme of suffering (poverty, in this case). Playing a slot machine until it explodes will rarely give you a dollar, and there's no other way to get one. Sometimes you can sacrifice some of your permanent health to a demon altar for a quarter. However, the most expensive items are in the realm of 15 cents, so if you do get that dollar, it'll probably last the entire game.
- The world of Maj'Eyal is apparently chock-full of artificers, master craftsmen, etc, seeing as mundane items are quite a bit rarer than items with special powers. Normally, you wouldn't want a plain item anyway, as the "egoed" items are strictly better, except that gems can be taken to master jewelers to imbue mundane rings with special powers (one artifact, the Lifebinding Emerald, is totally useless without a voratun ring to set it in, unless you're playing one of the two classes in the game that can use it directly), and a pair of artifacts can transform plain weapons and armor into powerful "crystalline" versions of themselves. Especially painful for dagger users: The Crystalline Voratun Dagger is one of only three top-tier artifact daggers in the game, but the "regular" voratun dagger you need to make it is harder to find than most artifacts.
- In HyperRogue, one of the treasures you can collect is a bottle of wine. Which is worth the same as any other treasure - precious gems, Spice, Elixir of Life, and flowers from the shores of Hell itself. The description HandWaves this with "wine grown under a hyperbolic sun would be extremely prized in your home location".
- FTL: Faster Than Light has several "weak" weapons such as the basic laser ("Very weak laser"), dual lasers ("Basic weak dual lasers. Often used by transport ships that can't afford better"), and mini beam ("Extremely cheap and weak beam weapon"). Despite their uninspiring descriptions, none of these weapons can ever be purchased or found - they're only available as starting equipment on certain ships. On top of that, the supposedly "weak" dual lasers and mini beam are actually two of the most efficient weapons in the game.
Role Playing Game
- The "larger wallet" phenomenon occurs again in The World Ends with You where the only way to construct the third wallet requires Orichalcum and Dark Matter. That's some wallet. They're also extremely rare if you waste the few you get as a part of the story. You can only obtain Dark Matter (or its trade material Shadow Matter) from some of the hardest enemies in the game.
- Puzzle Pirates:
- Black clothing is very valuable, as black dye can only be obtained by pilfering kraken's blood, a rare resource, from strong merchant ships. Nope, you can't kill a kraken yourself, much less mix different colors of dye together. This actually makes sense, considering that no matter what proportion you mix different colors dye together, you'll only ever get a really dark shade of brown, not black. The only way to get black dye... is by mixing a black pigment with a solvent.
- An even worse example involving dyes is Guild Wars, where dye of ALL colors are only obtainable as entirely random world drops. There's a "dye merchant" but he only carries what other players have sold to him and his prices depend on supply and demand. Naturally, this means more popular dyes are much more expensive, and of course the most expensive here is also black. The best part is that dye doesn't actually do anything other than change the color of one of your pieces of armor. This is in no way surprising however, as top-quality gear is very easy to obtain, and the only things of any particular value for experienced players is gear that looks particularly nice.
- Ancient proto-MMO The Realm had similar dye issues for some of its early versions.
- The same 'dye is inordinately expensive' paradigm holds true in Ragnarok Online, where the only way to obtain it is to get a Mad Scientist to create the base materials, then colour them with patently absurd numbers of herbs. Players, naturally, go through the whole rigmarole in order to obtain Nice Hats.
- Throughout Final Fantasy and, subsequently, Kingdom Hearts, among the most epic of all equipment accessories is... a ribbon. A ribbon that protects you from pretty much all status effects, to be fair, but normal ribbons apparently just don't exist.
- In Final Fantasy Tactics A2, ribbons are stated in one of the quests to be made from pieces harvested from a species of malboro that is specifically bred to make those ribbons... so the low amount of materials is understandable.
- A mid-level quest in Dragon Quest III requires the player to travel halfway around the world, loot an ancient pyramid, and rescue a shopkeeper's daughter so that said shopkeeper will bestow upon you some ground black pepper. But considering that historically spices were occasionally worth more than gold by weight... it makes a certain amount of sense that someone with the resources of a king might trade something that isn't irreplaceable (a ship) for something that, in that part of the world, was practically one of a kind.
- Dragon Quest IX. Early on, you'll run across a sidequest to help make medicine out of the famous cure-all water of Angel Falls. The man who makes the medicine requires "fresh water" to make this medicine... which you won't be finding for several hours, five towns later. Turns out, by "fresh water", he means the alchemy ingredient you can find in predetermined spots on the world map. According to the item's description, the "fresh water" is "wondrous" and of "perfect purity", but when you're asked for "fresh water", you don't expect that to turn out to be a mid-level alchemical treasure, do you? (Special mention also goes to another alchemy ingredient found only on a few enemies, or in a single gathering area on an island... kitty litter.)
- Dragon Quest VIII has a ship that qualifies as this. You need a ship, so you need to find an ancient abandoned ship in the desert, then go through a monster-filled castle to find the library, then get a once in a lifetime wish and give someone a priceless ancient artifact owned by a king who owes you a favor, to put the ancient ship in the water. Why you can't just ask the king for a ship remains unexplained.
- Kingdom of Loathing:
- Many kinds of fruits suitable for cooking and cocktailcrafting can be bought from NPCs for 70 meat, but others like cherries, limes, and jumbo olives can only be found as loot on monsters, so they go for roughly 1000 meat at player-run stores. Bananas are limited-edition fruits that sell for around 40,000 meat per bunch. However, this is nothing compared to beets, which were discontinued so long ago and dropped so infrequently that they can't be bought for less than 180,000,000 meat, despite being completely useless note
- Pickling supplies (dill, brine, vinegar, and ghost cucumbers) are quite rare, as the area where they drop only appears for a single day at a time,usually on April 1st. The factory has only appeared 10 times since June of 2004. Holiday monsters also create some common-rares; Thanksgiving foods (tofurkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce) can only be acquired once every 3 months, and each player only gets to collect a few of them.
- The Tiny Plastic Sword is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. It's used to make quality drinks with relatively little investment. They are sold at the mall for 75,000,000 meat, largely for the same reasons used wrapping paper is expensive.
- For reference on what these prices are to people who don't know the relative value of money in Kingdom of Loathing, the Mr. Accessory item (Which players recieve for each $10 they donate), sells for ~30,000,000 as of this edit (The price fluctuates depending on what goodies you can exchange them for). That's right, tiny plastic swords are worth a little bit more than $20, and beets are worth over $60.
- There is also Hell Ramen, a food whose joke is that Ramen is so cheap, you gain money by eating it. Except it is very good food, giving nice amounts of substats and adventures for a basic pasta, so it goes for a few thousand meat in the mall.
- Used wrapping paper (which can be crafted into equally-rare weaponry or used to make gifts with nothing in them) costs 395 million meat—that is, over $130 of real-life money, or many months of meat farming. It was only available from gifts in a Crimbo giveaway back in 2003 (more common gifts from later on don't produce the paper item when opened), only a few were generated because there weren't many players at the time, and most of them have been lost over the years due to account deletion.
- Present bows aren't quite as a severe example as used wrapping paper since they cost 5 million meat (as of the time of this writing), but they're still fairly rare since they can only be obtained from small Crimbo pressies from Crimbo 2004 or from winning some of the Penguin Mafia raffles held during early 2008.
- Delicious Salad was only available from the "Spectral Salad Factory," a meta-joke zone that appeared on April Fool's Day in 2008 and vanished forever the next day. Other types of salad are common, but only the Delicious ones can give you the collectible salad tattoo, so it was an overvalued item for a long time. This finally ended in 2015 when the "Deck of Every Card" included a means of generating salads.
- Only three NPCs in SFC version of Tales of Phantasia seem to possess bags in which the player party can carry food to eat.
- In Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, there's a quest where the heroes must venture into dangerous woods, making their way past monsters and solving puzzles... to find a sprig of Rosemary.
- Party hats are some of the rarest, most expensive items. What is a Party Hat? A crown made of colored paper. There are also discontinued holiday healing items that are rather valuable, such as pumpkins, Easter eggs, and the most valuable item in the game - Christmas crackers. Half-full wine jugs are also ludicrously expensive (originally, you drank half of a jug of wine at a time, but they later changed it so your character chugged the whole thing).
- The quest "One Small Favour" will take at least four hours of dedicated running around the map doing errands for a huge number of people for an incredibly unique item: A keyring. A small band of steel, bars of which most players have sitting in their banks, which even the universe's greatest blacksmiths cannot replicate.
- While doing "One Small Favour", you learn to craft an item that you cannot learn to make otherwise, despite the item itself being needed for two other quests ("Swan Song" and "Back To My Roots"), thus making One Small Favour a prerequisite for those quests. The item in question? A clay pot lid for those clay pots that you've been making since Level 1 Crafting.
- In World of Warcraft:
- After leveling your character up to level 45 or higher, you and a group of 4 other like-minded adventurers (you'll die if you try to do it alone) can go on a dangerous quest deep inside Zul'Farrak to obtain the electric scale of a giant hydra named after Godzilla. To simply summon this hydra, at least one of your group must go to another continent, then battle his way through hordes of troll cultists to obtain a sacred mallet, then battle his way through even MORE hordes of trolls to bless this mallet at a very special altar. AND all those trolls used to be elite, that is extremely powerful for their level (thankfully, they changed that in a later patch). Your ultimate reward? A carrot on a stick. In the game it actually was rare and highly sought-after for a while because it was one of very few ways to make a mount go faster, but the mundaneness of the item itself made the whole quest chain absurd. The absurdity was only compounded by the item being usable with any mount, include carnivores.
- There are a lot of items you can buy from vendors that are incredibly expensive while serving no actual purpose whatsoever. Unless you happen to need, say, a wedding ring for roleplaying.
- Some kinds of pets are incredibly rare to acquire. Rats, for example. Some others can only be bought from vendors of one faction, so they will be fairly expensive for players of the other faction wanting to buy them over the neutral auction house.
- While on the topic of Warcraft III, the orc campaign in The Frozen Throne, has you go on a sidequest to retrieve a powerful artifact, as part of a shaman's dying wish. You get to keep the artifact, and are also rewarded with a unique item: The shaman's weapon which is like the one every single shaman owns. Its only power is to give your attacks a lightning damage bonus, which makes it no different from an ordinary lightning orb.
- Earthbound, since it takes place in an Urban Fantasy instead of medieval times, is full of them. Made more obvious by the fact that prices are based on their value in yen, yet in-game currency is dollars, leading to a $3480 frying pan and a $98 cup of noodles.
- A similar thing happens in Dead Rising 2, even the most trivial items (snacks, slot machines, etc.) cost almost $100. Although if you were to move the decimal 2 places the prices would make more sense.
- In Pokémon Gold and Silver, a road is blocked by a 'tree' (actually a Pokémon, Sudowoodo), so nobody can pass there. You have to defeat the (difficult) Gym Leader in order to acquire an item that will allow you to remove said tree: the Squirtbottle, a Squirtle-shaped watering can. (Sudowoodo is actually Rock-type, making it weak to water).
- Introduced in the same game: Charcoal. While this game allows you to buy an endless number of them, future games (and even the remakes) don't and give you a single piece of Charcoal per game.
- Fishing Rods, which are only available by finding three specific expert fishermen on your journey; in Black and White and Black 2 and White 2, you don't get any rod until post-game.
- In Pokémon Red and Blue, a bicycle costs 1 million Pokedollars (you can only have up to 999,999), but a short while later in Vermillion City, you can get a free bike voucher that allows you to get the bike.
- Soft drinks probably qualify for this, since apparently only one town per region (except Unova) has vending machines.
- In Sun & Moon the currency for Hyper Training (which powers up Pokemon's base stats to max) is bottle caps. Subsequently, they are very rare items that you can only find through sending your Pokemon on cave expeditions for treasure or trading shards (previously established to be parts of the items that power up Arceus) for them or, very rarely, by fishing them up. No, you can't get them by simply buying drinks, that would make too much sense.
- The Pokemon Audino in the fifth generation — it can be tough to find if you don't know to look for any shaking grass (where it has the highest percentage of showing up).
- Certain Com Mons are, ironically, like this. Especially ones that were easy to find in the wild in one generation, but aren't in the next. Your best bet might be to find it on the Global Trade Station, but this can be compounded by several factors: If the evolved form isn't used much in competitive battling, this means that most people won't go out of their way to breed for them, meaning that people aren't likely to put any extras on the Global Trade Station. Due to people thinking that no one would want this creature, the Com Mon in question actually becomes difficult to acquire.
- Berries are easy to find in Hoenn, Sinnoh and Alola. In every other region, they are only given by a select number of NPCs and they often only give you the most common ones.
- Lands of Lore 2: The silverleaf is supposed to grow in the Dracoid Cemetery. Except that it doesn't. Instead, you have to find glass orbs, charge them at three different machines (One of which is located in a completely different and HUGE level, the Dracoid Ruins) to open the various crypts. (The orbs can be charged with white, blue or yellow sparks to open crypts with corresponding doors. If you you don't have the right kind of orbs, you may have to go all the way back to the right machine.) In one of those crypts you will find the ghost of a dracoid priest who wants you to cremate his body for him and bring him the ashes. And where might his body be? In the farthest corner of the Ruins. So after this incredible endeavor, he opens the door into the dracoid king's crypt for you. (This is back at the Cemetery, mind you.) What does his ghost want? To destroy what's left of the Ruins of course! So he gives you his bones in an urn that you have to take to a statue somewhere in the ruins, which will come to life and fight an ice worm, causing the ruins to flood. So you have to get the hell out of there, end up back in the jungle, head back toward the Cemetery... and then the king will make the silverleaves grow. To top it off, whole piles of silverleaves turn up later at the Ruloi Citadel.
- At one point in Beyond Divinity, a dying prisoner asks for a drink of water. You have to go back almost to the start to get the only bottle of water on the level. This takes you through a guard station, mess hall and kitchen area but none of the dozens of cups and bottles contain any water or can be filled from the numerous barrels and sinks.
- Secret of Evermore has the alchemy system. Oh, sure it makes some sense to have trouble gathering things like Oil, or Wax, but... water? It's not even like it has to be purified water, you can literally scoop it from a river in the middle of a swamp. But only in certain spots that are sniffed out by your dog.
- In Star Ocean: The Second Story, you have to go into a dangerous cave filled with monsters as a test of strength - the proof of your journey being to bring back a rare and undiscovered herb. It turns out to be clary sage, a fairly common, hardy and widely-distributed medicinal plant. Still, everyone reacts as if it was incredibly rare. On the other hand, you're explicitly not on Earth in this scene—you're on the planet Expel, where Clary Sage very well might be a rarity. If you want to go the extra mile, however, you can go further into the cave and find the Dill Whip. This doesn't bring you any reward whatsoever, but at least you get told that your characters have found a legitimately undiscovered plant.
- Chrono Trigger has jerky, which appears twice in the game. The first time it is used is as a minor plot advancement point. The second time it is part of a Chain of Deals for getting some optional equipment in one of the zany sidequests. About 2 minutes into the game you can find the shopkeeper selling it, for 9900 gold. A trifling price when you will need it (much later in the game), but at the beginning it seems insanely overpriced. Bizarrely, you can also resell the Jerky for 10,000 gold to the person you're supposed to give it to. However, to advance the plot, you have to give them the Jerky for free.
- Backpacks are some of the rarest, most expensive goods in Dragon Age's Ferelden.
- So too with backpacks in the world of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning's Amalur. A backpack in the starting town of Gorhart has a base price of 7500 gold, more than nearly any magical weapon available at the time.
- In Ultima VII Part II: Serpent Isle, one of the common reagents you use for spellcasting is mandrake, and indeed it can be found and bought in plenty of places. Later in the game, an NPC gives you the task to obtain mandrake. For some reason, only mandrake from one specific location qualifies, all the other mandrake doesn't work; and you can't get to that spot yet (semi-justified in that he wants fresh mandrake, and the stuff you can buy is presumably dried: it doesn't make a difference a spell reagent, though). Going back further in the series, in Ultima IV mandrake and nightshade cannot be bought, and can only be harvested in one place each in the entire world, during one particular lunar phase.
- Guns in Resonance of Fate are like this. One can only wonder where all the hordes of bandits in the Random Encounters get their guns from, when only two handguns are for sale in the entire game, both at exorbitant prices. And yes, that means two individual guns, not two types of guns. Naturally, the hordes of bandits never drop their weapons when they die either. One NPC implies bandit guns tend to be cheap, mass-produced pieces of crap. Professional mercenaries like the player characters are better served with their expensive, reliable firearms than risking a knockoff exploding in their hand. But then most of the dozens of expansion parts you end up attaching to said weapons are crafted from random junk dropped by enemies anyway.
- Suikoden I's Chain of Deals is this as well, as the item you're ultimately after is soap. Which Sarah finds on her own while you're looking for it. At least she appreciates the effort and joins your party.
- The Elder Scrolls:
- In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, there is only one muffin on the entire island of Vvardenfell. And it already belongs to someone, so the only way to obtain it is to steal the delicious baked good. And if you eat said muffin, it gives you the exact same stamina regeneration as a normal, common piece of bread.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, there are many rare alchemy ingredients that logically ought to be relatively common. For example, you'd think you could get human flesh and human hearts from every enemy you kill, but they're some of the rarest ingredients in the game, and are never looted from human enemies.
- A couple of the forging items in Dissidia: Final Fantasy. For example, you won't even be able to acquire any variety of wood until after you've beaten Chaos - which involves defeating ten characters' personal stories, plus four additional stages of battle (all of which have five substages). Even then, one slab of regular lumber is apparently more common than a splinter (and explicitly costs less to trade for).
- The ultimate forging item for Onion Knight's ultimate weapon in Final Fantasy III, requiring five Megalixers (which themselves are excessively difficult to get)? An onion. Thematically appropriate, but it's still an onion.
- Though not rare per se, it takes a lot more effort to find a human bone in the catacombs in Planescape: Torment than it really should.
- In the Mario & Luigi series in general, beans are this trope. Yes beans, which basically act like stat boosting Rare Candy. That you have to either dig up from the ground, win in mini games or get with certain item equips. In Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Wellington Boots. This fairly common place (in the real world anyway) piece of footwear is, in this game, a rare random drop found only on a certain enemy in the final dungeon. And it turns out said clothing is the only practical way to get the aforementioned beans...
- Some event-only and therefore very rare grubs in Miitopia can seem a little ridiculous. The more striking is the rarissime... Frozen TV Dinner.
- In Elvira II: Jaws of Cerberus. Some of the spells have very broadly defined ingredients—"combustible substances", "metal items", "anything edible"—and finding these is as easy as you'd expect in the real world (in both the studio and the "haunted house" set, most of rooms allow you to pick up tons of items; e.g. the kitchen allows you to ransack the cupboards and drawers and put every single tiny can, pot and piece of cutlery into your inventory).
- Golden Sun:
- In the first game, Isaac only ever gets one empty glass bottle, which can only be used to collect the healing Hermes Water of Mercury Lighthouse. One wonders what happens to the containers for all those Elixers and Vials and Potions and Mist Potions... not to mention, what the heck is the Water of Life stored in?
- The Lost Age's big Chain of Deals starts with a... shiny pebble. No, literally, a shiny pebble. You trade this for a brightly-colored piece of cloth, which you trade for a bottle of milk, which you trade for a baby turtle, which you trade for access to the Bonus Dungeon. Got that? You trade a baby turtle for the Bonus Dungeon.
- Most of the permanent stat boosting items across the Fire Emblem series have flowery names such as "Goddess Icon" and "Seraph Robe", but few can match the power and staggering rarity of the "Boots", which increase movement speed by two in a series where the average unit has about six. Most games have one set of them hidden somewhere, and that's it. For comparison, in the first game, this makes a set of Boots as rare as a staff that can bring someone who is Deader Than Dead back to life.
- Any MMO with a crafting system can run into this when it comes to certain materials needed for crafting being found only from high-level gathering or drops from high-level enemies, despite being quite ordinary in real life. Or conversely, some materials might be fairly easy to find but require a high level crafting skill to actually be useful.
- Similarly, in older MMOs where the majority of the population is max level and doesn't alt much, low level crafted and/or dropped gear that makes use of all common materials can be difficult to come by for new players. As the old population sees no reason to craft/sell it.
- Special holiday events can push extremely common and normally unsought after materials to high prices as lazy players find it easier to buy them rather than loot them, resulting in massive price gouging. For example, in World of Warcraft christmas events generally involve giving milk and cookies to santa. Cookies can be crafted by anyone with level 1 cooking skill, but require bird eggs, which can drop from just about any level 1 avian enemy. Bird eggs move from being unsellable on the AH to stupidly expensive as soon as santa arrives.
- During the Christmas season in Fallen London, you can collect a pail of snow...but only once per week for about a month. The only other ways to get more pails of snow are from two specific Mr Sacks cards that can each only be played once or from the Urchins for an exorbitant cost of 7 Storm-Threnodies and 1 Night-Whisper. Granted, the collected snow is definitely not your garden-variety snow (dipping a soul in it causes it to explode, for one thing) and is essential to get lodgings and items that can’t be obtained anywhere else, but it doesn't change the oddity of homeless children selling buckets of a substance that you should be able to easily scoop up from the ground at a price that even players with maxed-out stats and gear will struggle to pay regularly.
- In Path of Exile, fishing rods are extremely rare, but are nigh-useless as weapons. They can only drop if you have a specific unique tricorne equipped. Another equally rare item is the bait: albino rhoa feathers can only drop from the equally elusive albino rhoa. It is said that these are the items required for fishing, but few players actually know how to fish, as the staff will relentlessly hunt down anyone who discloses fishing secrets.
- Final Fantasy XIV has a lot of gear that are only used for glamour purpose and are fashioned after seemingly common items like sleeveless shirts, winter coats, swimwear, etc. However, the materials needed to craft said gear are difficult to find, thus it's quite common to see players sell the crafted gear for a lot of gil.
- Fallout 3 has this on occasion, a Justified Trope in that most of the items you find are ruined. Regardless, you'll find yourself painstakingly searching through an entire library for books or through an entire supermarket for food.
- In Fallout: New Vegas .22 LR rounds are cheap but extremely few stores sell them and they're dropped very little, even though in real life they are the most produced and widely distributed type of ammunition in the world. Made worse by it being the only type of bullet that you can't craft because it's a rimfire cartridge.
- Fallout 4 has several items that are necessary for crafting. The first rare item will be adhesive, naturally found in the form of duct tape and Wonderglue. Once the player sets up a couple of farms and starts making vegetable starch, aluminum will be fairly rare. And after fully upgrading the weapons and power armor, building up the numerous settlements will certainly cut into the supply of gears, copper and oil, and only the last one is craftable (and still requires bones, which can mostly be found by raiding super mutant encampments).
- In the Playfish game Restaurant City, ingredients are ranked on a scale of one to five stars, with five being the most expensive. However, the stars are handed out based on how many recipes use them, with the result that sugar and eggs are five stars, while saffron only has two.
- Due to the nature of Solve the Soup Cans nature of some Fetch Quest based puzzles in Resident Evil, this is often the case when what would normally be a commonplace item is needed to solve a puzzle:
- Resident Evil has the mansion keys. Realistically every employee should have had a full set of these since even going to the bathroom requires at least the Sword and Armor key, thus raiding the first zombie encountered should have opened up the entire mansion. However, because that doesn't make for good gameplay and because Umbrella are clearly batshit insane, there's only one of each in existence and you need to solve a ton of puzzles and fight a giant plant to find them all.
- Resident Evil 3: Nemesis has you go through the entire police station to find a lock pick, which is made from a safety pin and a bent piece of wire. Realistically Jill could have fashioned a replacement with the office items found in every desk ever, such as the one in the main lobby or the 15 or so she passed on her way to the S.T.A.R.S. office, but here that's the only safety pin on the planet.
- Silent Hill 2. You are required to solve four puzzles to get four keys / combinations to open a chest. What you get from the chest are a few pieces of hair which must be combined with a hook to fish a MacGuffin from a drain. The fact that James' own hair is clearly long enough to suffice for this, or that there must have been a few hundred reasonable replacements for thread strewn about are never addressed.
- Tactical shooter 7.62mm High Calibre, there are several guns that are extremely hard to find, and several guns that are extremely easy to find, based on both how far you are in the game's plot, and who you're buying from. On the other hand, ammunition can be absolutely impossible to find. At the beginning of the game, 9x19mm Parabellum bullets, one of the most universal rounds used today, cannot be found anywhere, while 7.62x25mm Tokarev rounds, which are designed for weapons that are barely even produced (the TT-33 Tokarev and the Skorpion submachine gun being the most common weapons to use the round), can be purchased in bulk. Later in the game, you might be struggling to find enough ammo for your common 5.56mm assault rifles, while tripping over Gyrojet rounds and 5.7mm pistol clips. To give an idea of how ridiculous this is: the 5.7x28mm round is used by only two weapons in the entire world (the Five-seveN pistol and the P90 PDW, three if you count an AR-15 conversion kit that isn't in the game) and aside from all models of the Gyrojet being rare collector's items, so is the ammunition (selling for over $100 a round). The 5.56mm, on the other hand, is the standard rifle round used by NATO. 7.62x25mm Tokarev rounds genuinely are common, though, given ridiculously vast stocks of Soviet and Eastern Bloc surplus ammo that was exported to America after the fall of Communism.
Third Person Shooter
- In DayZ:
- Backpacks are considered extremely valuable because they allow you to carry much more equipment with you. While this is certainly a realistic benefit of a backpack in a survival scavenging scenario, the rarity of backpacks (especially in the original mod version) is pretty inexplicable. While backpacks are certainly handy to have, the odds that department stores would be stripped clean of backpacks following a societal collapse are very low, as people that are evacuating don't tend to ransack stores for backpacks. This is resolved somewhat in the Standalone version of the game where backpacks are more common (and can be crafted from basic materials), but you're still likely to be targeted and killed by other players just so they can upgrade their carrying capacity.
- Ghillie suits are another one, especially in the original mod, to the point that people will hunt you down just to get your ghillie suit because of how effectively you can hide while wearing one. Again, a ghillie suit would certainly be useful in a scenario where you're trying to remain hidden most of the time, but a ghillie suit isn't that hard to produce, and an effective one can be created from fairly basic components. This is actually addressed in the standalone version, where players can craft ghillie suits from burlap strips, which aren't that hard to find.
Turn Based Strategy
- Jones In The Fast Lane: The prices in the Monolith Burger are weird—a cheeseburger for $89, fries for $65, shakes for $103... That said, each of these fills you up for an entire week, so it probably shouldn't be taken literally. (Though it implies that you've been living on nothing but milkshakes the entire week... This cannot possibly be healthy.)
Wide Open Sandbox
- In Assassin's Creed II, enemies use the same weapons that you can buy for large amounts of money from a shop. Pretty generic example, except- you can pick up the weapons. But you can't keep them of course, if you try to switch weapons, it just drops the thing. You will also find that to carry more throwing knives or phials of medicine/poison you will need to buy pouches. These can cost 6,000 florins, more that it costs to buy finely crafted weapons or armor, and can even outprice the extensive repair and refurbishment performed on the buildings around your villa. It's kept in the Crafting sections of the sequels. Somehow, it takes two humpback whaleskins to make a pistol holster, and only great white shark bones can be used for the final armor upgrade. This is averted in Assassin's Creed Brotherhood and Revelations: If Ezio has somehow divested himself of his primary weapon and collects a weapon from the ground, he can keep it. If it was a type of weapon he didn't have beforehand, it is added to his inventory. Meaning that yes, Ezio can acquire expensive weapons via taking them off the cold, dead hands of his enemies. This gets a bit ridiculous in the 4th game with the crafting system. Not only does nobody in the game world apparently sell leather goods, Kenway refuses to use the same plan twice. So for no apparent reason he crafts every one of his pistol holsters out of different, increasingly absurd materials.
- Appears with most of the mid-to-high tier items in Animal Crossing. Items of the highest rarity level can be reliably earned at the game's special events. But the items just below that level can't be found at special events and only appear as very rare common items. As a result it is far, far easier to, say, earn the king and queen of the chess set than it is to earn the rook or bishop.
- Apples were so rare that, without hacking or using mods to get apples, the only legit way to get an Apple was to kill Notch if you met him on a server. It wasn't until the Beta 1.8 patch that added strongholds with chests that have a chance of carrying an Apple or more. Since the full game was released, apples have a 1/125 chance of falling from destroyed oak leaf blocks.
- Clay was also rather rare in the earlier days of the game, only available on coastal areas. Make a boat and get to searchin'. One version had a bug that brought it Up to 11, by only allowing clay to spawn at coordinates where x=z (effectively a single diagonal line through the world).
- Cookies were this for a long time, to the point that they became a sort of trophy. This changed once cocoa beans became farmable and could be easily found in jungle biomes, instead of just in dungeon chests.
- Making a cake is a highly elaborate process: you must build a furnace and a stone or better pickaxe, find nine iron ore, smelt them into nine iron ingots, make three buckets, milk cows, grow or find wheat, gather sugar cane and make it into sugar, and find an egg laid by a chicken, then put them all together. That said, once you get to the point that you can produce one cake, it becomes fairly easy to make more.
- Carrots and potatoes are also pretty hard to get ahold of: you can only find them growing in NPC villages (which themselves are rather rare) or as a Rare Drop from zombies. Again, once you get one, it's relatively easy to get more—just plant it on a farm; since the yield for planting them will, more often than not, be greater than the input, after a while you'll have a surplus.
- Name Tags, the only legit way to give any mob a unique name outside of creative mode, can only be found inside chests located within a dungeon or by fishing.
- Pumpkins can be this on the Xbox 360 version of the game, since it's a finite space rather than the PC's nigh-unlimited world. If a cluster of pumpkins—usually around four or five at best—spawns, you will have to search far and wide to locate them. They end up being more rare than diamond ore. And even in the PC game, wild pumpkins can sometimes be hard to come by.
- In Scarface: The World Is Yours it's entirely possible to have lackeys wielding weapons the player is not yet allowed to buy. Don't fret. They can give them to the boss by placing them in the trunks of special cars (think mobile armory). Doesn't quite work with the boat-mounted machine guns that Tony can later buy to wield himself. Also, it doesn't quite matter how much cash Tony has. Being able to purchase entirely legal items (such as a vending machine or a park bench) depends on how much his enemies respect him.
- In the X-Universe games, microchips are everywhere — weapons, ships, components of all kinds. And yet, good luck finding some in the universe — there's so much demand, and the production process involves such a convoluted chain of supply, that most chip factories are permanently empty — the few chips they produce are instantly snatched up by NPC traders. And if you do manage to be faster than the traders, expect to pay ludicrous prices for them. And you need to gather 75,000 of them for the last stage of the Hub plot. Good thing you can build your own Chip Plants, or else this plot would be next to impossible.
- A fairly ridiculous example occurs after leaving the starting planet in Starbound, the PC is directed to a colony on the edge of the system and will be offered a series of quests. One of them involves fetching Coffee for an NPC, which turns out to be one of the few food items not for sale at the colony(but soda, chocolate and milk are). To complete the quest, the PC has to buy(or find) coffee seeds, go back to a suitable planet, hoe the ground, plant the seeds and wait for the coffee to grow. Once the beans sprout(which fortunately, doesn't take nearly as long as real life), the beans can be placed in a nearby(to the questgiver) coffee pot to brew. The NPC, presented with the coffee, says he wants it in a glass mug(as opposed to any other containers that might be available), which requires collecting sand from a desert planet, forging the sand into glass and then crafting the glass into a mug. Finally, the NPC asks for a steel spoon to stir the coffee, which requires you to forge steel to make the spoon. Steel is made from Iron, which isn't too hard to find at this point, and Oil, which is found on desert planets(often in great pools, waiting to be claimed). The tricky part is that you'll likely need to upgrade to a workbench and forge capable of making steel and steel parts. While it does force you to upgrade your equipment to make steel items(which you need for the mining facility quest so you can leave the system), it seems like a hell of a lot of work to obtain Coffee, A Mug and a Spoon.
- In Grand Theft Auto V, the Declasse Asea should in theory be a common sight on the streets of Los Santos being based on the Chevrolet Aveo sedan. But in the original version of the game it only ever appears twice, once as an impossible to keep rental car, and again found parked at the end of a side-mission. If you do not take it after the latter, it's Permanently Missable. Eventually it was made purchasable in Online, and can be found on the streets in the Enhanced version of the game.
Non Video Game Examples
- Real Life gaming example: Yu-Gi-Oh!, aside from the regular rarities, actually has two "Short Print" varieties of the Common rarity cards; they look, act, and essentially are exactly like regular Commons, but you'll be busting your butt and your wallet going through hundreds of packs just to get one.
- In the online game Neopets, the rarest items initially were... food. The only place food was generated was at the food stores every five minutes. Unfortunately, they ran out in 15 seconds or so. You could feed your pets at the soup kitchen if you were poor enough, which led to lots of people in Perpetual Poverty just so they wouldn't have to spend all their money on an apple. And some of the rarest and most coveted items on the entire site are merely paintbrushes. Luckily, you can still get free food from the Giant Omelette, Giant Jelly, and once a month from a hidden link
- Diamonds, at least according to this article from the 'Atlantic Monthly'' in 1982. This is less the case now since the DeBeers corporation, while still retaining significant market control, no longer has a monopoly on diamonds. The pricing is still rather high given their actual commonality (it's been said that you could give every living human a cupful of them, though not necessarily the highest quality ones).
- In the United States, two-dollar bills. The government is sitting on entire warehouses full of them because banks never ask for them because bank customers never ask for them. Since they rarely enter circulation there are many Americans who believe that they're not real money the first time they see them. The same is true of US dollar coins (not quite to the same extent) — the banks don't stock many because their business customers don't want them (partly their tills have places for one-dollar bills but not coins, and partly they believe their retail customers don't want them).
- Japanese CDs are often coveted and pricey outside of Japan for their bonus tracks and obi strips...but in Japan they are just regular CDs. To a lesser extent there are certain vinyl records that are common in their country of origin, most notably ABBA's Ring Ring, which is a bargain bin record in Sweden, and sells for around $30 consistently on eBay. Most UK originals of Beatles albums on vinyl are common second hand, having sold many copies, but are always treated as rare premium items because of the demand for them. Stereo copies are harder to find than the mono ones though.
- AAAA batteries, used in such things as penlights, laser pointers, and styli for certain tablets like the Surface Pro 3. Go into an electronics store and you might find entire bins filled to the brim with AA and AAA batteries in packs of 10-20. AAAA batteries? "Quadruple-what? Sorry, we don't sell those." And when you do find some, they come in two-packs.
- Car manufacturers often make models that often don't sell well due to a lack of marketing, high pricing and so on, but also because they simply don't build that many. The latter point is expected with luxury or exotic car companies (as exclusivity is part of their appeal), however perfectly ordinary, no-frills, basic transportation can often wind up being more uncommon than a good chunk of other vehicles on the road. This is a slight aversion to the trope, as these cars tend to go very cheap second hand since nobody wanted them in the first place; car enthusiasts often wind up buying them with their strange rarity as an added bonus. That's why when you do see one years later, it tends to be in good condition and meticulously well maintained. This also applies to older cars that were mass produced into the millions, but have since become uncommon due to tighter maintenance / emission control, running costs, part availability, build quality and general age. The Volkswagen Beetle is the best example, as most that are seen these days are either fully restored or clunkers which will more than likely be sold to someone with the intention of restoring it.
- In the Paranoia RPG, the ability to recolour equipment which is above one's security clearance (and therefore punishable by death to possess or be seen using) to a colour you are cleared for (and therefore make the gear usable) is very important. Not least because stabbing each other in the back is the whole point of the game, and a low-clearance RED laser, for instance, will be defeated by not-quite-so-low-clearance ORANGE body armour. Since players are usually RED level, this is more useful than one might initially think. This results in paint being one of the most restricted types of item in the game. Other items requiring high security clearance include really powerful weapons like cone rifles and plasma generators, but also some things that are utterly mundane in real life, like chapstick and umbrellas.
- In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur ends up crash-landing on a primitive planet. He at first thinks he can share some technological wonders with them... only to realize he has no clue how modern technology actually works, at least not well enough to build a working example. When he settles down one day and makes himself a sandwich, however, the village is awestruck. He becomes the village's first official Sandwich Maker, a highly respected position.
- In Star Wars Legends, it's stated that hot chocolate is considered an exotic beverage, and Luke buys packets whenever he can. It is of course a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, so for them to have any food/drink/etc that we have on Earth is a small miracle. "Chocolate" could indeed be exceedingly rare in an alien galaxy.
- Iron is apparently rare anywhere but on Earth in Ben 10 universe.
- In Stargate SG-1, this is invoked to convince the Goa'uld Nerus to work with Earth:
Nerus: What is this? This is exquisite! What is it?
Landry: It's a rare delicacy among our people.
- In Project Almanac, the machine needs hydrogen to work, which they resort to stealing from the school. Technically you can get it by running a current through water, but pressurizing and bottling it would be rather difficult.
- In The Girl from the Miracles District, oranges are extremely rare and valuable in the Miracles District, as they can only be obtained in the human world, and the people of the district are physically unable to get there. At one point, Nikita manages to buy extremely sensitive information with nothing but a small crate of them.note
- Used classic Macs sell on EBay for almost as much as they did when they were new, simply because they're Macs.