The only thing more remarkable than the timing of the arrival of the two laguz was its coincidence with the exact moment the game mechanics suddenly decided to allow charging through and killing multiple units in a single action.
There's also Midna's Fused Shadows. She could destroy practically anything with them, yet she leaves Link to risk his life doing all the dirty work.
Also in Twilight Princess: Midna can only warp Link when he's in wolf form... except for when you've just finished a dungeon.
In Titan Quest, the area around the Gorgons' lair is full of statues, and they've managed to one-shot petrify a particular npc you're trailing before you show up. During the eventual fight with them, though, their petrifying gazes are only good for stunning you temporarily. At no point does the game acknowledge that you're either immune to their power or using tactics to negate it (such as Perseus' classic not-looking-into-their-eyes-trick).
Every Batman video game ever. Every Superman game too! If I'm Batman how come this dude in a yellow suit is kicking my ass!? (And that's just the Batman Forever game for Sega Genesis; Batman Returns for Genesis was even more painful.)
This is less of a problem in the spinoff game of Batman Begins. In this game you're not supposed to be over the top powerful and that the whole point is that you need to use stealth and fear to tip the battle in your favor.
And it's completely averted in Batman: Arkham Asylum, where Batman is essentially as competent in cutscenes as he is during gameplay, dropping his Titan gun down a Bottomless Pit aside.
The trope is true though during the final boss fight, where Batman sprays Explosive Gel over his fist to power up his punch.
Also averted in Superman Returns where you need to protect the city from being destroyed. Getting hit merely slows you down.
Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider: Anniversary. Lara can survive a huge fall in an early cutscene that would naturally cause instant bone-shattering death when tried in-game (proven in the remake, in which this area is playable just before the cutscene).
In a cutscene towards the end of Anniversary Lara reaches a ledge by essentially grappling on nothing, despite it being very established by then that it could only work on specific points, this is made worse by the fact that the original game already provided a plausible (within Lara capabilities) ending to this sequence.
Inverted in Tomb Raider: Chronicles, where there is a cutscene in which Lara is unable to pull herself onto a ledge without help, even though that very action is a staple move during gameplay.
Enter the Matrix had several level-ending cutscenes involving Niobe or Ghost using some fancy martial arts or dramatic rooftop-leaping. There was no pressing reason why they couldn't have let the player do that themselves.
Dante of the Devil May Cry series is fairly intimidating even during normal gameplay. However, his powers become almost absurd in any cutscene sequence, and especially ridiculous in the third installment. His feats include his getting staked to the ground by his own sword and calmly pulling himself up through the blade (and the huge ass wickedly pointy crossguard!), shrugging off horrific injuries to kill his enemies with the pieces of their own weapons embedded in his body, and casually surfing on a missile. Furthermore, he kills enemies with single attacks, a feat that cannot be replicated in-game except by difficult-to-use moves. His single-shot killing of enemies is most certainly not replicable in-game (semi-joke "Heaven or Hell" mode aside). One exception is when Dante rides a fallen enemy like a skateboard while shooting other enemies, something he can also do in gameplay. Taken to the logical extreme, in that nothing can beat Cutscene Dante, except maybe Batman if he has time to plan, and Goku.
Running down a tower in DMC 3.
Or motorcycle riding up that same tower. Just try to guess how his bike hops away from the tower and is pulled back through gravity... sideways.
While Nero uses this straight, including the ability to surf on an enemy's body that is missing in-game, his in-gameplay grabs with the Devil Bringer also launch into a context-sensitive cool moment like with the later-mentioned God of War and Kingdom Hearts II examples.
Vergil's sword Yamato gets a heck of a lot of this in DMC 4. In cutscenes it's a hilariously overpowered Game Breaker. It's like everything dies just by being in the same room as this sword. In game, it's not any better than the default sword, and some experts consider it to be worse.
Alto Angelo is a Mini-Boss example. In cutscenes, the Alto Angelo is able to kill two Elite Mooks in one fell swoop.
Played straight most of the time in Bayonetta where both Bayonetta and Jeanne perform outstanding jumps, attacks, counters, and dodges that are not possible in the game.
Unlike the previously-mentioned game, you actually do get to surf on a missile in a Space Harrier style mini-game.
Ninja Gaiden mostly avoids this as there aren't too many scenes of Ryu fighting, except for one scene in Ninja Gaiden II where he cuts a Mook in half with one swing.
In God of War if Kratos were allowed in normal gameplay to pull off acrobatics and feats of strength a fraction as impressive as the ones he does in cutscenes, a huge chunk of the games obstacles would suddenly cease to be an issue.
In The Legendof Zelda A Link To The Past, after you beat Agahnim in the Tower of Ganon, Link uses his flute to summon the bird to take him to the Pyramid of Power. Despite the fact that Link is in the Dark World, where such a feat should be impossible, because the bird exists only in the Light World.
In Metroid Fusion, there is a scene where the SA-X obliterates a doorway with a super missile. If you try this outside of the cutscene, the hatch tends just to open, not to blow up spectacularly...
Relatively avoided in Asura's Wrath, due to the sheer number of in game cutscenes with QTE's that are really intuitive. In fact, this particular model is exactly what the developers were going for to deliberately avoid this, as it was made to feel like you're still doing all the stuff in the cutscenes via intuitive button presses.
A particularly heavy example with Ratchet & Clank 2: During the Giant Robot battle on Snivelak, even your most powerful weapon does only Scratch Damage to the Robot (with some points on the robot not even registering damage) and yet, during the cutscene, Ratchet just shoots part of the chest off with a single shot from the Heavy Lancer, which is one of the weakest weapons in the game (not to mention the first weapon you get, although it hasn't upgraded.)
Beat Em Up
Awesome aversion in God Hand; In one of the few cutscenes involving him fighting, Gene, the protagonist, proceeds to launch three enemies to the sky. While the moves are not normally "one-hit-kill" type in the game, they're pretty much available to the player, and if one takes advantage of counter hits and the tension gauge/roulette, can accomplish the same thing in-game.
MadWorld has a minor one. When facing the Shogun in a power struggle, Jack does a Barehanded Blade Block first, and then a regular block with his right arm and knee. Jack cannot block outside of that quick time event, as he can dodge only.
Dissidia: Final Fantasy is generally pretty good about averting this. Characters fighting in cutscenes tend to use the same attacks that they use in gameplay. At the same time, there are quite a few instances of this, such as Terra casting teleport, Ultimecia and Cecil using what appear to be their respective EX Bursts without hassle, and Squall blocking most of Ultimecia's aforementioned EX Burst during his final confrontation with her in his storyline.
And there's lots of people dashing past Onion Knight in the intro FMV, while in actual gameplay he's the fastest character in the game.
Technically, at least four characters in Guilty Gear are Gears, i.e. living weapons of mass destruction that humanity fought against for a hundred years (one of them going so far as to wipe out an entire fleet all at once in supplemental material), and the Gears almost won. That doesn't mean an adolescent crossdressing nun armed with a yo-yo and a teddy bear can't defeat them during gameplay, though.
Consider Pyron from the Darkstalkers series. According to his storyline, he is an immense, powerful alien who feeds on planets and stars. In his ending sequence, he treats Earth as if it was a piece of jewelry around his finger. Now, disregard all of this plot and simply play a few matches against him, and he comes across as nothing more than a fire elemental with a small degree of shapeshifting prowess. The real kicker? He's not even the most powerful character in the storyline.
In Tekken 3, Bryan Fury is able to take bullets to the face and chest, a shell from a tank, and then proceed to rip the turret off and throw it at the retreating soldiers. In TTT, he gets shot several times by Lei Wulong and manages to continue fighting as if nothing happened. However, in game he's just one of the slightly quicker big bruisers. Bandai-Namco managed to fix the discrepancy in Tekken 5 though.
Then Tekken 6 goes even further in the Scenario Mode opening cutscene, where Lars deflects missiles with his bare hands and runs faster than bullets. Stopping a mook with a gun by charging him head on in actual gameplay? Not such a good idea.
In BlazBlue, using Ragna's Blood Kain in gameplay only gives a temporary Deadly Upgrade. If he activates it before the fight starts and control shifts to the player, though, what you get is Unlimited Ragna, who gets permanent attribute bonuses without health loss, and in fact triple health.
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl's Subspace Emissary, right before Tabuu turns everyone into a trophy again, Sonic appears and smashes his wings with incredible speed and power. In gameplay, Sonic's adjusted like the other fighters.
Subspace Emissary is positively stuffed with this. Every cutscene shows the various fighters doing various awesome things that are far, far beyond their actually capabilities in gameplay. One of the more egregious examples involves Sheik taking out an Arwing by teleporting onto its canopy and putting her fist through the glass of the cockpit windshield. There's also an instance of Captain Falcon taking out a giant ROB with a single flying punch.
Doubles as Cutscene Incompetence for the other characters, who barely put up a fight. Combined, they should have been able to reduce her to her component atoms.
For that matter, when Kabal is hit by Kintaro's fire breath, he is scarred permanently to the point that he requires a respirator mask. Needless to say, when Kintaro actually uses that move in a playable fight, it just takes off a chunk of your life meter.
Ninjas in Dead or Alive only ever use their swords in cutscenes. In Hayate's ending for DOA 4, he slices a Mook in half and brings down an entire blimp with one arrow.
Elizabeth is a secret boss from Persona 3. Being absurdly powerful, you require a ton of specific things in order to even stand a chance against her. She even has a set of unspoken rules that you must adhere to; failure to follow them results in her nuking you with a 9999 damage spell until you die. Aside from being a secret boss in Persona 3, she also appears as a playable character in Persona 4: Arena. During cutscenes, she is still absurdly powerful, breaking through barriers and even defeating the final boss with ease. But as a playable character, she is quite a bit underwhelming compared to her boss and cutscene self. Having the lowest amount of health in the entire roster at 7500, this is a big difference to the 20,000 that she had in Persona 3 (the player's max health was capped at 999).
First Person Shooter
Pretty much all of the 'Meet the Cast' videos of Team Fortress 2 except Meet the Heavy. And probably that one too, since no one even shot at him. He totally can do evil laughs and yell out "CRY SOME MORE!", though.
The most extreme has to go to the Spy who saps a sentry from a distance, disguises himself in plain view, and wins in direct melee combat against the Sniper and the Medic.
Meet the Heavy actually applies too. In the video he states that his minigun fires 10000 rounds per minute, while in gameplay it "only" fires 600 per minute. This could also be explained as an error on the Heavy's part, but considering guns are about everything he knows, you'd think he'd have an at least remotely realistic depiction of his minigun's rate of fire.
In Metroid Prime, Samus is able to perform her iconic spin-jump only in cutscenes. In the sequel, she eventually gains the ability to use it in the specialized form of the screw attack under player control late in the game. In the multiplayer mode of Metroid Prime 2, however, you can see other players doing it even though they can't see it themselves. This implies that Samus really is doing the spin jump, but her visor somehow keeps the view going straight so she doesn't get dizzy. (Samus also jumps ridiculously high in cutscenes - which is completely justified by her Powered Armor, which causes your inability to do so in game to make even less sense)
In Metroid Prime 3, a single shot of Samus' Power Beam can throw Space Pirates (and unarmored Ghor) a good 15 feet in cutscenes, even uncharged. In gameplay, a single shot of the Power Beam does nearly nothing, and a charged shot will only push them back slightly.
In the cutscene leading up to the final battle of the Halo Trilogy, 343 Guilty Spark utterly obliterates Master Chief and the Arbiter with his superpowered beam weapon. Once actual gameplay begins, however, the ensuing fight is one of the easiest and least exciting battles in the history of FPS video games, as Spark just floats in one spot and fires (inaccurately) in your general direction.
Justified because when Spark first fired the beams, he was completely intact, while by the time the player starts fighting him Johnson has weakened and disabled him with the Spartan Laser.
In one of the last cutscenes in Halo Wars, three Spartans solo about twenty Elites by tossing them around like rag dolls, dual wielding SMGs like John Woo, and performing vaulting flips at least ten or fifteen feet into the air. The sad part is this is about in line with the novels, but nothing like what you're actually allowed to do in the game when you play as one of them.
There's also the issue of whether or not the Master Chief can get hurt by falling. Starting in Halo 2, Master Chief can fall any distance without getting hurt—unless the developers don't want you to go into that area. This leads to bizarre situations like the Chief being able to surf a small metal plate down from a spaceship in orbit and land on Earth with nary a scratch (and in the books, the armor has a good chance of surviving a fall from orbit) but being unable to survive falling down a fifteen-foot deep hole.
Averted in Halo: Reach, when Kat takes a one-shot to the head from a Jackal in a cutscene, quickly (and very emotionally) dying on you. Needless to say, the Spartans are MUCH more durable in combat. Now, her shields were down (for some reason), and it was a headshot, but the round passes right through her head, when in gameplay it just sticks to your cranium.
In Clive Barker's Undying, your character Patrick Galloway suddenly jumps like a flea through a stained glass window many feet away to escape danger. Normally he only jumps about as high as a normal man.
Subversion: in Crysis: Warhead, a cutscene has the main character getting shot multiple times by a pistol and essentially having it bounce off the nanosuit. While it may seem like an example of this trope, you'll actually notice that the suit and weapon stats stay the same for all difficulties - the AI just gets better at finding and shooting at you. This is also proven by the game's configuration files. However, the AI's gotten so much better on Delta, that you won't even notice, and it won't even matter if your suit stats are the same.
Played straight in some of the other cutscenes in the series; although you mostly can pull off what they are doing in them, even if it isn't to the same degree.
Also, doing special ability combos with cloak/maximum speed/maximum strength that would work if only you had five times the energy you have.
Utterly and completely averted in Crysis 2. Maybe two-thirds of all cutscenes include Alcatraz getting knocked off of bridges, off of buildings, off of more buildings, bushwhacked by Ceph, bushwhacked by Cell, bushwhacked by explosions, biological weapons, collapsing buildings, getting shot, getting zapped, getting flung out of exploding airships, AP Cs, demi-tanks... Seriously, get used to seeing hostile forces both human and alien standing over you with a pistol/rifle/energyweapon/energybazooka/bus aimed right at your face only for you to be Deus ex Machina'ed to safety in the nick of time, because I am not exaggerating, it actually happens that often. No less than two separate QT Es in this game involve the command "Hit Space to Defibrillate." Yes. That's right. On no less than two separate occasions in Crysis 2, the main character is killed in a cutscene. Crysis 2 may be the gaming world's only example of Reverse Cutscene Power, as Alcatraz is (depending on the player) several dozen to several thousand times more capable than he appears to be from just cutscenes.
The only actual cutscene that shows impressive feats of derring-do is right at the beginning, features the player's suit but NOT the player's character, and merely showcases the nanosuit's capabilities in a manner that is visually impressive but functionally no different than what the player him/herself might accomplish on his/her own.
Being weaker in a cutscene is a different trope. And that really isn't necessarily weaker. you CAN be shot and blown up. And considering that You were dead to start with and were on life support as Prophet overwrote your brain, the defibrillate stuff isn't a big deal.
For a rare example of this trope being justified, see The Darkness game. While you play the game as Jackie Estacado, controlling the eponymous Darkness you're a force to be reckoned with. During two of the cutscenes where The Darkness controls Jackie... let's just say at one point he pulls down a helicopter with one tentacle and leave it at that. However, the game is fairly explicit in that The Darkness' powers are restrained by Jackie, or at least his limited moral scruples. Therefore, when Jackie loses control, (hence, cutscene) the Darkness is rather ridiculously powerful.
Of course, since Dog was never intended to fight anything outside scripted sequences, the developers simply didn't bother with a combat AI. The only way you can get this to happen is with console codes or in mods.
Far Cry has this in spades. While your character (Jack) is made of tinfoil in gameplay (you can't drop more than a few feet without suffering massive damage; you'll die after being hit with a handful of bullets - which forces you to always use cover), he becomes much more acrobatic and resilient in the cutscenes. At one point, Jack is thrown out of a helicopter hundreds of feet in the air and lands without a scratch, but falling three stories in-game will instantly kill him. Better yet, in a later cutscene, Jack is shown diving over a console to avoid a hail of bullets (something he can't do in-game).
Averted completely in Left 4 Dead for the opening intro. The scene shows the survivors doing things that you can do in game such as throwing pipe bombs to lure zombies away from you and using your pistol to defend yourself when you get incapacitated.
Left 4 Dead 2 averts the trope again in the intro opening up until it shows Ellis having a grenade launcher and a rifle attached to his back while holding a shotgun. In the game, you can only carry a main gun (rifle, shotgun, etc.) and a secondary weapon (pistols or melee weapons).
The preview trailer for The Sacrifice DLC shows Zoey handing over a sword to Louis, despite the fact that you can never give weapons to another player in game unless you use a mod.
Genjimaru. So hard. The first time we see him fighting he drives off four Av Kamiw single handed. Literally, because he's carrying his granddaughter. Then he roflstomps Karura in a duel and later manages to actually injure Diy. When you get to play as him? He's among the weakest characters you can use because his skill sets haven't been trained, so Hakuoro/Karura/Touka etc are hitting quite a bit harder on their first blows than he lands on his entire attack.
Hack And Slash
Ninja Blade uses the same Action Commands model as several of the above examples, but turns the 'Awesomeness' dial up to 11. You can pull off some nice combos and nifty acrobatic wall-runs in the actual game, sure, but in the cutscenes, all bets are off. Driving a motorcycle across the side of a bus in midair, then throwing both into the mouth of a gigantic foe while they explode? Check. Grab a gigantic fly with your grappling-hook and spin around on the spot to hammer-throw it into a nearby building which then explodes? Check. Clim the Tokyo Tower by jumping off of falling debris? Check. Throw a skyscraper at a boss? Check-checkity-check!!
No More Heroes' protagonist Travis Touchdown is notable for being Made of Iron in cutscenes. He survives getting blown up by grenades (which are shown to be capable of literally blowing a person's head off), electrocuted, pummeled and then blasted with a Wave Motion Gun (the lethality of which is demonstrated by a floor strewn with corpses), sawed in half (although it was supposedly part of a magic trick, the very same buzzsaw is used to finish off the opponent who used it) and punched through the heart (by a woman who is shown to be capable of killing a man by punching him through the crotch). The only thing shown to be capable of bringing down Travis is an insane girl in a frilly dress who happens to be a bit too happy with her baseball bat; that was the only fight he didn't simply walk away from, in any event. Outside of cutscenes, Travis is still sturdier than your average mook, but very much mortal (even if his body seems to be resistant to being chopped into pieces the way virtually every other foe is - including bosses!).
Lampshaded in the first teaser of No More Heroes (viewable in the finished game), where Travis gets up after being hit by numerous MISSILES (which does seem to surprise his opponent).
This also brings up a bit of Fridge Logic: Travis and the cast know that they're in a video game, and Travis himself has certainly played enough. So why does he do such stupid shit in cutscenes? Because he's actively enforcing this trope. Therefore, as long as the player isn't in control, knows he can't die (unless the plot says so).
In Dynasty Warriors 2, Zhang Jiao, leader of the Yellow Turbans and renowned as a mystic, attacks your allies with a fireball in a cutscene when he's first approached in the battle... then fights with a generic sword moveset the rest of the time. This was fixed in later games in the series, where like everyone else he gets a unique movset and (unlike most other characters) gets several moves with use fire (though in some they're rather low on damage).
Dynasty warriors in general love to do this. The opening cutscene in just about every game is especially blatant, oftentimes showing characters doing things that you could not possibly hope to do. The online version is especially bad.
Bayonetta routinely kills angels with single gunshots in cutscenes. Granted, they are usually the weakest type, but even on the easiest difficulty it would take sustained fire to kill them with her guns.
Humongous Mecha games like this one. Armored Core 2 (the original, not the expansion) had an intro sequence with ACs blasting their rocket boosters all the way, shooting perfectly at enemy mechs, and destroying an entire supply base with just four missiles. The latter one you can actually accomplish: shooting pretty much any destructible object once will blow it up. But in-game, booster-skating only works for a few seconds and makes it nigh-impossible to aim.
It should be noted however that Armored Core averts this trope after AC4. The game will give you an intro movie showing you making high-speed missile dodges, boosting and boost-dodging through the air. Once you start playing the game, you not only can do everything the movie does, you can do it faster.
The most guilty offense that Armored Core offers constantly are mechs that are featured in the openings of the original games (AC, Project Phantasma and Master of Arena), as well as in Armored Core 3 and Silent Line: the featured ACs are overweight! Somewhat plausible by the existence of Human PLUS upgrade which does enable overweight loadage in the former, and the latter simply allows overweight ACs, albeit with greatly reduced performance. Not only that though, the ACs featured looked cool, but some of the designs were grossly impractical (cf. Master of Arena where the featured mech wields very powerful weapons, but very limited ammo, and very low AP body parts). Despite all that, they're all very competent in said cutscenes...
In Front Mission 4, both opening cutscenes show robots almost skating across the ground with rocket boosters. Ironic, considering the in-game robot's slow, basic walking speed was one of the most common complaints against the game.
The game developers seem to take the complaints to heart with Front Mission Online. While Front Mission has always been a turn-based RPG with Humongous Mecha, FMO throws the concept away and instead adopts an Armored Core-esque shooter, where you can actually slide on the ground, or snipe (but not both... not yet anyway).
The third game has a robot disable another robot with a punch, while in-game is pathetically weak. That is, without factoring the random occurrence of said punch causing stun effect...
Cutscenes in the Mega Man franchise tend to exaggerate the power of the hero's Buster (Arm Cannon). In most of the games, it's relatively weak compared to the weapons you can get later — but it's his signature weapon, so when he finishes off a boss in a cutscene, he always uses the Buster. This is particularly noticeable in the Battle Network series, where even the weakest BattleChip is much more effective than your default weapon.
In Mega Man ZX, Serpent has a One-Hit Kill lightning bolt attack that he can call down whenever he feels like it... in the first cutscene in which you actually encounter him. The next two times, he doesn't seem to bother, and when you actually fight him, he doesn't actually use the attack. Though a good Handwave to explain it would be that he can't use this attack indoors. Note that the other two encounters were indoors (in a cave and in Serpent's own HQ, respectively).
The Classic series isn't immune either. In the fourth Game Boy game, there's a brief cutscene with Mega Man taking out a Wily Flying Fortress in relatively few shots with his default weapon. He doesn't even appear to charge!
MaverickHunter X does this as well. The animated cutscenes seem to portray the charge shot as an immense death-blast. Even Vile pisses his pants when faced with one. In-game is an entirely different story.
Although, Axl was shooting Sigma in the chest first, whereas the last shot was a contact shot right under Sigma's jaw.
In Mega Man Network Transmission, at the beginning of the game there's a cutscene where Mega Man finishes off the Life Virus with a charged megabuster shot. Yet he's back at beginner stats when you first get control of him. Not even given any explanation as to why this is.
Mega Man Star Force has a cutscene in which Geo Wave Changes fifty feet from the nearest wavehole and teleports from roof to roof. That's, um, not how he operates in play, to put it mildly.
In the Battle Network series, any time that Megaman's real name, Hub, is dropped, you can expect a MASSIVE increase in power.
In the 5th game, Megaman/Hub is able to take out Nebula Grey with a wave of his hand. It comes back after he loses power, but still.
The Sonic the Hedgehog series is a terrible offender, with characters pulling all sorts of stunts in the cutscenes that you could never do in game.
Sonic's maximum speed has typically been a cutscene superpower starting as early as Sonic CD. Fast things are just too hard to control in a video game after all, and due to technology constraints, the Genesis-era gameplay focused more on using momentum to sling yourself off ramps and navigate levels instead of running nonstop.
Particularly noticeable in the "Dark" Story of Sonic Adventure 2 when Sonic makes a far higher jump than possible in gameplay to instantly KO the Egg Golem... which naturally gives you much more trouble when you actually face the boss as Sonic in the "Hero" side of the Story.
Shadow the Hedgehog is another serious offender. If only you could fly and deflect bullets in the game as well as in the cutscenes...
In Sonic's opening scene from Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Knuckles punches Sonic hard enough to knock him out of Super Sonic mode and take his Chaos Emeralds. Many zones later, when you finally interact with Knuckles outside a cutscene, it turns out to be the easiest boss fight in the game.
Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) takes this to ridiculous levels. Sonic's first cutscene shows him moving like a speeding bullet and being really badass. Can you do that in-game? No. Shadow's first cutscene shows him plowing through robots and jumping over a giant gate. Can you do that in-game? No. Silver's first cutscene has him flying, and speeding off into the distance. Can you do that in-game? No, although Silver can glide for a short amount of time. Also Rouge flies (she can only glide in-game), Tails flies way better than he actually can, and Sonic generally moves a lot faster than you'll be able to ever move him outside of the mach speed sections.
In Sonic Rush Adventure, in the cutscene right before the boss for Coral Cave, Blaze shoots a huge fireball at Captain Whisker. During gameplay, she can't even shoot small ones, although she can temporarily become one to attack surrounding enemies.
Thankfully averted in Sonic Unleashed, where Sonic boosts through enemies to destroy them, bounces off of them like pinballs as he destroys them, quicksteps out of the way, and even "drifts" around tight corners. The one thing you couldn't do in game that Sonic did in the cutscene is play as Super Sonic, except during the final fight.
In the Prince of Persia: Sands of Time trilogy your character is able to grab hold of specific ledges and bars to move around the area. In certain cutscenes, though, he is shown to be capable of much more elaborate maneuvers. This style was actually moved into Assassin's Creed made by the same people, where you can literally grab onto almost anything.
King Boo in Luigi's Mansion. He captured freaking Mario in a painting, manages to teleport characters if they don't capture enough Boos, scares Luigi into near death when he first appears... and gets relatively easily beaten in the final battle. And then in the sequels, beaten by Mario a heck of a lot. Heck, he's beaten by Peach twice... However, it's justified, at least in Luigi's Mansion. It is explicitly said in-game that Boos gain great power in groups. It takes fifty of them plus King Boo to capture Mario. By the end of the game, at least 45 of those must be captured. In other words, he gets weaker every time a Boo is captured.
Dimentio of Super Paper Mario fame. When actually fighting him in game, he's not that ridiculously difficult. But come the cutscenes, he ends the games of Mr. L, then later Mario, Peach, and Bowser at once, without breaking a sweat. Even if it was only temporary.
In Star Fox Adventures, Fox walks over towards a defeated T-Rex boss to obtain a Plot Coupon. As he picks up the said item he realizes that the boss isn't dead. As the T-Rex lunges out at him Fox jumps 10 feet in the air, does a backflip while pulling out his staff, and stabs the boss through the head. However, in the gameplay segments Fox cannot backflip or even jump that far, and you can't use your staff in midair.
Believe or not, Professional Wrestling has this in droves. A wrestler's finisher is sometimes not enough to win a hotly contested match that has gone on for several minutes, yet when one performs one's finisher on someone outside of a match there's a very good chance they'll lay them out for several minutes. Naturally all video games based on the medium will invoke this trope as well.
Not just finishers; while finishers are often used for interference spots, ANY move seems to be more effective if used by someone not legally in the match.
The intro to Omega Boost shows the player's Humongous Mecha destroying a whole fleet of space ships in one fell swoop with a massive beam weapon. Your armaments in the actual game amount to a machine gun and only slightly more powerful homing lasers. Interestingly, when you do encounter an almost identical fleet, you can take care of them with similar ease, but with an entirely different attack.
In Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn, the Orca VTOL assault craft is shown dodging missiles in a cutscene in the original game and repeats the stunt in another cutscene in Tiberian Sun while destroying several Nod SAM Sites. Try this in-game however, and prepare to watch your expensive aircraft go down in flames. Also the Mammoth Mk.II from Tiberian Sun is considerably more powerful in the cutscenes. Similarly, a Ion Cannon strike destroys a small base in a cutscene. In-game, it only strikes one building, and can't even kill the larger buildings.
Buried in Tiberian Dawn's readmes is a partial explanation for some of these: health doesn't just represent health, armour and general structural integrity, it also represents not getting hit (that's why ordinary infantry don't get immediately killed by pretty much any attack). So you can't dodge the missiles in-game, but on the other hand it takes more than one missile to bring you down.
In one of the early GDI cutscenes in Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, a single GDI light infantry blows up two cyborgs with a single shot each. In-game, light infantry are the least expensive and weakest units and a cyborg can withstand multiple shots from light infantry (and it takes a lot more than one light infantry to kill a cyborg).
To be fair, said infantry unit was using some sort of laser rifle. Nothing of the sort is found in-game. Standard infantry use assault rifles.
In the FPS spinoff Command & Conquer: Renegade, Havoc kills enemy soldiers with single pistol shots in cinematics. In game, even with headshots, the same soldiers take several shots. Relatedly, when he gets ambushed by cloaked Nod forces, the amount of units present in the cinematic exceed any amount of enemies you ever face at once in normal gameplay.
In Command & Conquer: Red Alert, a cutscene shows several tanks and two helicopters being teleported by the chronosphere. In game, you can only teleport a single tank at once, and cannot teleport air units or APCs with people, with the given reason that the people in the APCs will die, which really doesn't make sense because the tanks have to have people in them (these limitations make the Chronosphere something of a Useless Useful Spell in Red Alert 1, while in Red Alert 2 the shortcomings are largely corrected).
In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge, the Psychic Dominators shown in the opening cutscene are able to mind control entire sections of continents. To prevent it from being an enormousGame Breaker by giving Yuri's faction the ability to instantly control every unit and structure on the map if one is activated even once (like the Psychic Beacon did at the end of the third Soviet mission of the normal game), in the game it can take over 9 units at most and cause a lot of base damage.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 didn't have very much combat in its cinematics, probably to avoid this, but its in-game cutscenes are just as bad. Superweapons routinely take out entire bases, and the Imperial and Soviet support superweapons, which temporarily physical block off an area and render units invulnerable, respectively, have an unlimited duration. (The Chronosphere, which teleports units around, generally does what it's supposed to - with the caveat that it "teleports" in units that didn't exist before.) Sometimes this works for you, though, such as the final Imperial mission, which opens with Yuriko and a host of troopers attacking from within a Psionic Decimator shot - it's usually not half as discriminating in who it kills.
StarCraft similarly has a big stat difference between cuts and game. The Yamato Gun supposedly blasts another battlecruiser with one shot and keeps going - in game, it takes 2 full shots. Battlecruiser only fires a single laser shot with a pitifully low rate of fire, compared to cutscenes where they're The Battlestars armed with More Dakka. Even more drastic, zerglings take 2 shots of said Battlecruiser to die, whereas in cutscenes a Ghost can kill them with just one shot! The weapons of other races also are much stronger, slicing each other outright. In one instance the Space Marines even use a weapon (grenade launcher) they don't have in-game at all!
The grenade launcher actually has an interesting explanation. Most of the cutscenes for Starcraft were made in Beta phase of the game. The space marine unit was original supposed to have a grenade firing ability with limited ammo ala the Spidermines of the Vultures, but this was removed after being seen as too hard to balance. The result is that all images and cutscenes with space marines clearly show them having the underslug grenade launcher on their rifles, but no such ability. This was one reason the grenade launchers were removed from the rifles in Starcraft 2 instead having bayonets which can be pushed out underneath the barrel. Which were however also removed during the Beta phase again leaving the Marines with a cutscene weapon they can't use in game.
The worst example has to be the Gantrithor, Tassadar's flagship. In the storyline, the Gantrithor has a Wave Motion Gun that causes Earth-Shattering Kaboom, and the only reason the Zerg are a problem on Tarsonis is that Tassadar didn't want to kill the Terran population. In-game, the Garinthor is about twice as good as a normal carrier, which is good, but hardly planet-scouring.
Well, Ganthritor is part of a fleet which Tassadar took with him, apparently full of planet glazing guns. Nobody ever managed to explain what happened to these.
Averted with Zeratul. Before the start of his first mission in Wings of Liberty, there's a cutscene in which he, among other things, Flash Steps around the battlefield and bisects hydralisks in one shot. The player then gets to control him... and he really is that powerful. Those four years have been incredibly productive for him, apparently. note He does seem to use his Blink ability more frequently than his in-game cooldown would allow him to, if you really want to nitpick.
In-game cutscenes frequently use this trick with a unit killing some other unit in a single hit.
Done rather poorly in the first game, since even during a cutscene you can still select units so you can see their hitpoints dropping to zero, or their attack's damage suddenly becoming one hundred times more powerful.
SC 2 features a rather jarring example of Cutscene Power To The Normal. In the end of the third missionyour flagship Hyperion arrives and proceeds to your besieged base, while decimating the zerg hordes that press on it... wait, somebody can actually fire on the move in Starcraft?! In-game this marvelous ability is reserved for the unique flagships of each race, and one special prototype terran tank.
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War, oh how your intro cutscenes indulge in this. The opening for the first game depicts, amongst other things, a Dreadnought effortlessly shredding a bunch of pouncing Orks with a single sweep of its Assault Cannon (though it does gain this ability in the sequel) and both Space Marines and Orks killing each other in single attacks. Good luck doing that in-game without an Imbalance Mod. In fact, this applies to the source Tabletop Game itself - just replace "cutscene" with "background material".
Winter Assault features one infamous cutscene amongst tabletop game players of a Chaplain, a minor Space Marine leader, beating a newly-spawned Bloodthirster, a monster capable of withstanding minutes of your best guns, in single combat, and quickly to boot. That kind of thing does not usually happen in the source tabletop or the game itself. Given that the Bloodthirster's death animation used the same movements as a Captain with a Daemonhammer, the original design of a Commander killing the Bloodthirster was not nearly as far fetched, given how good Daemonhammers are at killing Daemons.
Let no one claim Games Workshop doesn't realise it, though: the game's magazine (White Dwarf) had an article posting the "stats" of a "movie" Space Marine, a jibe at the backstory. Each of these Space Marines was probably more powerful than any actual unit in the game.
An enemy example: In Dawn of War 2 the worst an enemy can do to your heroes is incapacitate them, and they are easily revivable after that. But when a Tyranid Warrior attacks Davian Thule (a seasoned veterean, mind it), he does enough damage to him to send Thule into a prolonged coma where he teeters on the brink of death for days and can only return to battle entombed in a Dreadnaught. There is mention of some sort of Tyranid poison, which would be acceptable if it appeared at all in the game proper.
In Chaos Rising add-on, a new Space Marine hero Librarian (mage) is introduced in a hurling storm of Warp energy that obliterates several squads of Eldar...a-a-an then he spends the rest of the mission (and most of the others) lying around beaten waiting for the others to revive him only to colapse immediately after.
Warcraft III trigger system allows you to create your own Cutscene Power To The Max moments by healing near-death characters or having them deal massive damage with the right "code" at the right time. Of course, that means you can remove the official moments yourself by toying with the campaign map files.
Arthas also gets this. In cutscenes, he demonstrates the ability to drain someone's soul with his sword and turn them into a banshee he controls, raise the corpse of a giant dragon, and possibly teleport. Outside cutscenes he can temporarily raise six dead things as zombies, but it doesn't work on dragons.
Played even further in World of Warcraft, where Arthas continues to use numerous powers he never bothers to employ when fighting for his life. Other characters wield powers that grant immense, game-breaking bonuses to fighters around them (as seen in the Battle for Undercity, when faction leaders grant bonuses that render the players in the battle functionally immortal), but won't use the same auras and powers if being swarmed by enemy combatants in their own throne rooms.
Earlier on, at the end of Warcraft 2, the mage Khadgar destroys the Dark Portal in a cutscene with a single Blizzard spell. In gameplay it takes quite a few of these to bring the Portal down.
At the end of the final mission of III, Archimonde destroys your base with a single wave of his hand. The mission itself has you aid your allies' bases to beat off his army's assaults for 45 minutes. This begs the question of why Archimonde didn't just come in and blow up everything in the first place.
In Total Annihilation's opening cutscene, all the units' weapons are greatly powered-up, to the point where the AK, the most puny and useless unit in the game, is one-shotting enemies with its lasers. The speed of building things is also shown to be much faster, and a Commander builds a heavy laser tower, something it's not capable of doing in-game.
In Homeworld 2 the player obtains a Progenitor Dreadnaught, and ancient warship built by the Precursors. The first time it goes into battle is in a cutscene, where the Dreadnaught effortlessly reduces an enemy battlecruiser to scrap with a single shot from its main cannon. When the player controls the Dreadnaught, its power is drastically reduced to where it will barely survive a duel with a battlecruiser completely identical to the one it vaporized in the cutscene.
Justified, as that initial shot caused a colossal overload of the Dreadnought's weapon systems, due the technicians having almost no idea what they were doing and the immense age of the power systems. It's rendered almost completely helpless for the next new missions as the Hiigarans try to find someone to fix it for them, and even then it's essentially jury-rigged and never able to perform like it used to.
Role Playing Game
KOS-MOS in Xenosaga is a glaring example. The original game at least attempted a nod to this, as she was the one of the few characters who did not need to ride a AGWS. Jin Uzuki is another offender, as in the second game he splits an entire giant robot mecha in half with one slash of his sword. Other characters stand in awe. But then when you get to control him he isn't that much more powerful than anyone else. chaos, as well, is shown able to destroy Gnosis with a touch of his hand in his introductory cutscene. This would have been useful in gameplay, especially since he's pretty much Jesus Christ.
KOS-MOS is a particularly horrible example because the game constantly implies that she is significantly stronger then her teammates. In the third game she is shown in a battle defeating hundreds of gnosis at once while her creator watches in shock, yet her creator is the same level and at least as capable of taking on a large group, possible more so due to her ability to self heal. Worse there is a certain point where KOS-MOS fights alone against a certain enemy while her 7 other teammates cower behind (with good plot based reason) and acting helpless. The game does make her amazingly strong but gives all her abilities massive MP costs.
In the opening AMV of Final Fantasy X, there are a lot of moves shown in Blitzball that you will never be able to use in gameplay. Among these moves is a bodyslam that takes the player of the receiving end and literally throws them out of the arena.
Said moves are performed by Tidus, who has a really weak attack stat in the actual Minigame (He's all Shooting and Endurance). He can't even steal the ball, let alone do enough damage to knock someone out of the field. He can gain the Jecht Shot through another minigame, but due to his level during the first game, he can only use it once.
The cutscene where the Aurochs take on the Al Bhed Psyches is hilariously absurd given that the Aurochs are an entire team of that nerdy kid in school who always got picked last for every sportnote we apologise for any traumatic primary school memories this may bring up - the Aurochs baseline is level 1, while the Psyches start at level 3, meaning that you will not be able to replicate this experience in the blitzball minigame without Level Grinding first. Either Wakka is a blitzball god, or someone was betting heavily on the Aurochs and drugged the Psyches before the match.
In the AMV where Seymour summons Anima, Anima is able to rapid-fire it's special move "Pain". When you get through the game enough to actually summon Anima yourself, every time you use Pain, it kicks your next turn back a few pegs.
In Final Fantasy VIII, in one cutscene, Edea brings gargoyles to life and sends them on a rampage targeting civilians. Needless to say, that "spell" is not drawable nor is it a limit break. But on the other hand, Edea isa sorceress.
This may be justified. By the time the movie came out the characters are all very high level. Sure in the game this is reflected by your clicking attack and doing 9999 damage, but who knows what those battles would have really looked like if the visual medium allowed for more expressive combat visuals. The characters managing superhuman feats in the movie may be seen as the logical conclusion of characters able to do such absurdly super-human damage with a mere physical attack in the game.
Even worse, the post-Advent Children FFVII-games use this style in their cutscenes. Vincent can indulge in Roofhopping, backflipping, and even jumping 30 feet in the air with ease in Dirge of Cerberus. In gameplay, you're lucky to be able double jump - if you own the US-version. Not to mention the fact that Vincent can take down a helicopter with just a shotgun, but in gameplay it can be a struggle just to take down a group of poorly-trained soldiers. (Though poor controls may have something to do with this.)
The intro to Crisis Core has Zack jump down from a flying helicopter about a hundred feet in the air. In the actual game you can - roll on the floor. Then there's that Sephiroth memory from the DMW where Zack takes out a monster in a Single-Stroke Battle. If you haven't fought that type yet... well, you won't be doing that is all.
Final Fantasy IX has a distinct difference between the power of summons during cutscenes (Bahamut, Atomos and Odin are all shown as capable of laying waste to entire cities) and in-battle - where none of the above summons can do more than straight 9s in damage - the same damage cap as your characters. Alexander was an exception to all of this, but then again Alexander always was a badass summon power - and Garnet never gets to acquire him as a regular summon, either. However, it's implied that the Eidolons that Garnet eventually uses are toned-down in terms of power just so she can properly use them: before her Eidolons are forcibly extracted by Zorn and Thorn, all her summoning powers are far too expensive in MP to use; however, when she finally gets them back in the third disc, the MP costs are far more reasonable.
In Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers, Layle can lift tons of objects and fling them at his enemy in the blink of an eye. During cutscenes. During actual gameplay, you must target the object, wait for the lock-on gauge to fill, lift it, and throw it. One object at a time. Then, there are things like barriers, and crushing an enemy into the ground. None of these feats can even be partially re-created by the player. It seems that the coolest things Layle can do occur when he leaves the player's control.
In Final Fantasy IV, after going through the Eblan cave and finding yourself right outside of the Tower of Babil, the heroes wonder how they're going to get in. Of course, Edge the ninja teleports all of them in. Gee, why do we even bother travelling anywhere or climbing up towers the hard way if you can teleport through walls?
Magneto in X-Men Legends is a massively powerful mutant, able to challenge your entire 4-person squad of X-Men, and throws Sentinels about like toys. In the sequel, he is no more powerful than any other character, certainly no more able to fight Sentinels than any other character, and begins, like all of them, at novice-level experience. Prior to the events of X-Men Legends II, he wiped out whole fleets of fighters with his magnetic powers, and in the opening cutscene, tosses soldiers and metal doors aside with little effort. His subsequent encounter with yet more soldiers becomes jarring, as they now provide him far more serious opposition.
There's also Magma. In the opening cutscene of the game, she's powerful enough to nearly level an entire city block with a single attack. In a later cutscene, a single attack of hers pratically disintegrates around 30 Danger Room robots. When she's eventually unlocked as a playable character, she's considerably less powerful. It's partially justified, though, because it's quite common in the X-Men series for the powers of inexperienced mutants to easily spiral out of the user's control and unintentionally cause destruction on a larger scale than the mutant intended. As the mutant gains more experience in using their powers, they are able to exercise a greater degree of control which prevents this from happening.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance, the spiritual successor to the X-Men Legends series, also has quite a few examples of this. Perhaps the most egregious example is Thor. In the game's opening cutscene, he is shown to effortlessly plow directly through the middle of an attacking enemy ship, causing to explode without injuring him at all. He then shrugs off an shot from a second enemy ship and promptly destroys it with a giant lightning bolt from his hammer. He does all of this while hovering in the air a few hundred feet above the ground. When the player gets to actually control him, he can only fly about five feet above the ground and can only maintain that altitude for a few seconds. His lightning attacks are also considerably weaker and have a much shorter range than the one he used in the cutscene and he cannot simply plow through enemies and shrug off their attacks in the fashion that he did in the cutscene.
Partially subverted in the first Grandia, where Feena uses her Icarian power to destroy a room full of large hostile stone statues. The ability is then unlocked, but requires some extensive training to actually use it in battle. Then, of course, there's her ultimateultimate ability, where, by the time she achieves the necessary levels, each and every one of the characters has the strength to practically take over the world singlehandedly.
In the opening of Shadow Hearts, Yuri reattaches his severed arm, exhibiting a remarkable regenerative ability that is never alluded to again.
Summoner uses Western-style summoning. One apparent exception is dragon summons (summoning a hundred foot long dragon), which function as Summon Magic, Eastern style. The problem comes when your party needs to get back to their home continent for the endgame. The party asks for a flotilla back, their friend then says that's not necessary, because they can simply SUMMON A DRAGON AND FLY ALL THE WAY TO ANOTHER CONTINENT. Needless to say, you still have to walk everywhere after you get there, and you still can't get the dragons to stick around and act like the other summons in battle.
In Lunar: The Silver Star, the Big Bad's minions are shown to be capable of mind-controlling and turning to stone two of the Four Heroes, who saved the world prior to the events of the game. On the occasions that the other heroes join you, they're both at max level, but when you fight said minions near the end of the game, they're beatable at much lower levels.
Lufia II The Legend Returns had Dekar, a ludicrously over-the-top warrior who boasted of his incredible combat skills. When you first meet him (and in other subsequent cutscenes) he shows off his incredible skill by using powerful and implausible abilities such as the aptly-named "Blastmaster" that wipe out hordes of enemies at once. While he is actually in your party, he has no such abilities (though he still may be the strongest character regardless).
Chrono Trigger has oodles of these. The most obvious and ridiculous of all are Frog, who was able to summon such power from Masamune and himself he was able to split a mountain apart with a single sword slash (and whose in-game attack stats were usually beneath Crono's), and Lavos itself, who disintegrated the main character (or a clone thereof) with a beam from its eye... and then never used that attack in battle, despite the deadly threat posed by the good guys.
Frog is merely opening an already existing passage, though. And by the time you face Lavos again, you've leveled up several times.
Interestingly enough, there is a battle where the Masamune's power carries over from the cutscenes. During the Ocean Palace Disaster, the Red Knife made to destroy the Mammon Machine becomes the Masamune after being stabbed into it, and channels its energy. Later on, you can end up fighting the Mammon Machine, and the Masamune still has the power to absorb its energy, making the boss fight a lot easier if you use Frog.
Jade Empire is horrible about this, and combines it with Good Is Dumb. Practically all of your followers are introduced as supremely skilled and competent fighters, both in the cutscenes and when you happen to fight them, but as soon as they join you, you'd be lucky if they would take a Mook down on their own.
Also, that time a single shot from Mirabelle in an in-engine cutscene makes a guy explode.
In a rare enemy case, Master Li's first action cutscene involves him blowing up a ship by poking it. That he loses this skill when the player actually fights him is probably for the best.
Star Ocean 3 is a wonderful example of this trope, the main point being where, in a cutscene, Fayt gets pissed off, vaporizing an alien spaceship with a single attack. Eventually, you can use this attack during battles, but with nowhere near the destructive power originally shown. Additionally, this attack is only available after you beat the game and delve through most of the hidden dungeons.
Freelancer is particularly patchy with this one. There are several plot relevant cutscenes where capital ships are taken down by a single torpedo salvo from a squad of fighters, making you wonder if the various navies have decided to armour their capital ships with tissue paper. In game the battleships function effectively as space stations and needless to say you can't shoot them down. This is unless you need to take down said capital ship for plot reasons, in which case you'll generally have a fair few wingmen with you, because it takes a lot more firepower than in those cutscenes.
The first time it happens, it's a high-ranking Rheinland military officer and ambassador is on an important mission. The cruiser he's on doesn't appear to have any escorts.
While not cutscene-related, the same mission features you taking on Order's "Anubis" fighters in your piece-of-junk armed with peashooters... and handily winning. Near the end of the game, you get to buy yourself one of those "Anubis" fighters... and it's one of the best fighters in the game. There's no way your peashooters shouldn't even dented it if they weren't deliberately nerfed.
In a short cutscene in Tales of Symphonia that takes place in the King's castle in Meltokio, Lloyd takes out a huge, heavily armed Imperial Guard soldier who happens to be looking the other way by saying "Sorry about this!" and punching him in the back. When you encounter such guards in-game, they are worthy foes that require quite a bit of damage before going down. Said guards are also an example of Cutscene Incompetence.
One boss' signature attack is to fire energy bolts at you and naturally he does this as his base attack during his fight. Soon after losing the battle, he appears in the following cutscene sneaking up on the heroes and points his blaster at one of the characters. Another character sees this and immediately dives in the way to save them. It is implied that his one shot was potentially fatal while you could easily take about a dozen of them in battle without healing. I guess while crawling up from his defeat he "Set his laser from stun... to kill."
Regal displays this...semi-frequently. In both Tales of Symphonia and the sequel Regal fires very large energy beams that could rival Ryu or Goku's, but only when the party is in tight situations in the story. Sightly justified in that he swore never to use his hands again in battle, but still a "Big OMG" moment for everyone, especially his party members at the time(s). Then again one wonders... this technically wouldn't count as using his hands, right?
The trope is also present in Tales of the Abyss, where the main character, Luke, kills a fully-armored, heavily-trained soldier with a wooden training sword. By accident.
Tear, at various points, puts an entire house to sleep, slits a man's throat with a throwing knife, and takes a hit for someone with much higher defense. In battle, the aformentioned sleep spell only affects one target, her knife based attacks are pitifuly weak, and her defense is among the lowest in the party. She's still very good, just not at what the cutscenes would suggest.
When The Magician attacks the dorm, Yukari uses Garu, a basic wind spell, to try and slow it down. Once you get control of her, however, she doesn't know that spell until a bit later on.
Lost Odyssey plays the trope straight with regards to the Immortality of several of the playable characters; in the opening cutscene, Kaim survives a catastrophe which wipes out every other living thing in the area and is not so much as mildly singed, and several of the flashbacks provided by the "Thousand Years of Dreams" similarly imply that the immortals are completely indestructible. In gameplay, however, they take damage like anyone else and can be KOed, and although they get back up again after a few turns, if the whole party goes down it's still Game Over.
When an immortal is 'killed' they are incapacitated for a short period of time. One could infer that during this time a smart enemy may chain them up so they can't fight back. The immortals are also regularly fighting with more mortal allies who would die if the immortals fall, it could be implied that the lost of their more mortal allies left them too vulnerable to take on the Big Bad later. While mortals are far less powerful then immortals, they are a key source of special abilities that the immortals can master. Of course this only partially justifies this trope, the immortals still seem too busy avoiding damage rather then just soaking it up and trusting they will be revived later.
In the opening cut scene a level one Kalm is shown taking on dozens of mooks at once without a thought, at level one. Of course this may be cutscene power to the normal, as when you later fight the mooks they are only slightly more powerful then they are shown in this particular cut scene. The really sad thing is that the enemy mooks are shown as more capable then your ally mooks. Kalm at level 1 is far weaker (even in a purely physical battle) then the white mage preteen girl gotten at the beginning of disk 2. The enemy mooks are less then 1/10 the strength of kalm even ignoring his immortality, and the allied mooks are weaker then then enemy mooks!? So in short the entire army could be beaten up by a little girl.
In one cutscene, Sarah uses a spell that cuts a metal train carriage clean in half. You'd think something like that would be useful to get past various obstacles later in the game. It's never seen again.
In the Pokémon games, if you believe the Pokédex descriptions, several legendaries fall victim to this. Uxie, for example, wipes out the memories of anyone who sees its eyes. Dialga and Palkia control time and space, respectively. Arceus created the universe, thus making it effectively God. You'd think that these features might translate to special abilities in-game, but not really. These legendary Pokémon have generally high stats, but none of the instant-win powers that you might suspect they have. Even some average, non-legendary Pokémon have out-there entries, such as the burns of a Houndoom supposedly never healing.
In Platinum Version, there is some text saying that the power of a Pokémon is inhibited when it is captured with a Poké Ball, which is why Cyrus wants to capture Dialga and Palkia with Red Chains instead.
This explains why captured Pokémon can't do those things, but it doesn't explain why wild ones aren't using their abilities to their fullest nor why wild Pokémon are much, much weaker compared to trained ones. Trained or not, being restrained should give wild Pokémon a huge advantage. Perhaps that thing about wild ones attempting to prove their worth/test your worth could be used as justification...
The trope is also used frequently in the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series after boss battles, when the defeated boss effortlessly knocks your party down and you have to be saved by a plot device.
Dialga and Palkia at the very least have some nod to their powers: Roar of Time and Spacial Rend respectively, very powerful unique attacks that manipulate time and space, which is in correspondence to the Pokémon's Pokédex entries. Arceus also has Judgment - an attack befitting an Olympus Mon.
Many descriptions in the Pokédex describe Pokémon eating other Pokémon, while in the actual games, all they can eat is either bait, Berries, Pokéblocks, or Poffin.
In HeartGold and SoulSilver Versions, when the player defeats Lance, DJ Mary runs into the room. The leading Pokémon dashes behind the player, even if it's supposed to be very slow, like Shuckle or Snorlax.
Even common Pokémon can be subject to this. Magcargo is a decent Fire/Rock type. According to the Pokédex, its body temperature is 18,000 degress Fahrenheit. The surface of the Sun is about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Just one of these things should kill everything that comes anywhere near it.
He's able to use the Force to move something the size of a Star Destroyer in a cut scene, a degree of power never evidenced even in other cut scenes, let alone in play. Also, he can toss Darth Vader around like a ragdoll using The Force during cutscenes of the end fight. Try doing that in-game. Nope. Nothing. Vader can resist your Force powers, but you can't resist his too much.
Haseo of .hack//G.U. gets this to the extreme. In a cutscene he jumps about 50ft in the air and attacks with a sword (it's even worse when you consider that you can't jump during gameplay).
Throughout the plot of Digimon World Dusk, the Big Bad Grimmon is shown using an attack that's capable of instantly incapacitating and brainwashing whatever gets hit by it. He later gets a powered-up version he uses to make an entire union of Digimon Tamers hellbent on destroying everyone in your union. During the final boss fight against him, he uses it on a regular basis... and all it does is inflict the sleep status effect on your party.
The Witcher - Geralt handles a monster spectacularly well in the introduction video. I wish I could do that in game play... especially as you end up fighting exactly the same monster at one point - and where did all my cool moves go?
Kingdom Hearts II: Several times in the game Sora and company will one hit enemies that will normally take several strikes or combos to defeat. "I don't have time for you!". This is of course, not yet mentioning how he slices entire buildings in half in cutscene attacks, known as reaction commands.
And in 358/2 Days, Xion has this as well. While typically when she helps in story mode she sucks compared to the player (even in the missions where your level is cut in half or you're fighting with a stick), in cutscenes she frequently slices boss heartless in half.
Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis's Anna is proven to be very capable with her katana. Like wiping out her workshop deadly, who might as well be some of the strongest and most competent in the school. Naturally, some of the other characters can dealt more damage in battle.
In Mass Effect some cutscenes/conversations have the player pointing guns (usually the pistol) at people. In game it takes many shots to kill them, but here it takes only one.
For example, when Shepard and Wrex are facing off, one shotgun blast can take Wrex out. This is a guy who can take rockets to the face in game.
This is also strangely inconsistent, since there are a couple of cutscenes where a character takes a hit from a weapon and actually is protected by his/her shields, suffering no ill effects at all.
In Mass Effect 2, your party members are often found slicing through hordes of mooks like a hot knife through butter when you first meet them. When you get control over them, they are substantially less powerful.
Especially bad with Jack, who biotically punches three massive YMIR mechs—each a substantial boss fight on their own—into shreds. Actual abilities? Two long-range biotic attacks, an Abnormal Ammo ability, and Squishy Wizard levels of health. On top of that, her abilities have no effect on mechs in the actual game!
Miranda gets one during her loyalty mission, where she manhandles an asari mercenary with what appears to be a combination of Lift, Stasis, and Throw, all over the course of 3 seconds. She can't use any of those powers in-game, and her loyalty power, Slam, which you unlock after the mission, is considerably less impressive.
And holy hell does Kasumi deliver this trope during her loyalty mission; she practically defies gravity with her repeated ninja-jumps to reach a flying gunship! If only she could do that with every other gunship in the game...
Samara's introductory cutscene has her flying using her biotics. It's kind of disappointing that you only see it once and it's never mentioned again.
During a cutscene in Lair of the Shadow Broker, Liara shields herself, Shepard, and Shepard's two companions behind a biotic barrier. Now, this would have come useful during the subsequent attack on the Shadow Broker's ship...
The uncontested worst case is Kai Leng in Mass Effect 3. You could be beating him like a drum on Thessia, but then BOOM Cutscene and he suddenly goes from being soundly thrashed to looking like he had the upper hand the entire time. What's worse is that he needs a gunship to back him up for most of the preceding fight.
In the cutscenes found in the Omega DLC, Aria T'Loak is seen doing godlike things with her biotics. During those points of the game where you control her as a squadmate, her abilities are, while effective, somewhat less than the "godlike" levels. This prompted at least one Lets Player to complain about how Aria is a "biotic showoff".
Averted by Joshua in The World Ends with You who in a cutscence takes out a Rhino Noise in one hit with a beam attack never seen before. He gets to use the beam attack as an alternative to his previous attacks, and they are MUCH more damaging, literally tearing throguh the enemies.
A case of Back Story Power to the Max. In Arcanum Of Steamworksand Magick Obscura, a game set in a fantasy world that is experiencing an industrial revolution, many NPCs claim that the last major war was won by the side with the guns. And we are all know the benefits of guns over swords and the like. However, in gameplay, a basic rifle is clearly inferior to a melee weapon like a sword for a number of reasons. Guns don't benefit from the wielders strength. Only a handful of enemies (including rats and the like) die to single shot or strike. On average, you get more attacks per turn with melee weapons. Guns are more scarce. And more expensive. And unlike sword blows, require bullets. Most importantly, you don't even have the benefit of distance since in the best scenario (good gun and careful positioning) you will get the maximum of two rounds of shooting against a single foe (w/RPG hp) before he manages to close in. Also, magick spells have many ways to enchance a melee warrior.
An argument could be made that guns were a game breaker not because they made one character super-powerful, but because any novice could use them. While it takes training to teach someone to use a sword properly you can hand anyone a gun and say "point and shoot". Sure more training makes a gunner better, but ultimately an inexperienced mook with a gun is more deadly then an untrained mook with a sword. Thus guns would allow a large mook army with little training to overwhelm a smaller, better trained, army using the more powerful magic and melee abilities. Of course for this argument you would have to assume that guns were mass-produced and not as rare as they are in the game.
Lezard Valeth from Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria manages to teleport the party to safety in his introduction scene, and probably knows the location of the artifact the party is searching for because he's from an alternate future (and thus could circumvent a whole chapter of the story with his magic), but in normal gameplay as a party member he learns his abilities in an order that usually makes him obsolete by the time he leaves the party permanently.
Potentially justified because Lezard is simply trying manipulate the other protagonists without disrupting the timeline, giving him the opportunity to reshape specific events. Of course, he goes back into cutscene mode afterwards (though he has some of his cutscene abilities (such as teleportation) during the final battle).
Bishop Ladja's Kafrizzle spell in Dragon Quest V always totally destroys the target's body in cutscenes, making any reviving method impossible. Thanksfully, while his spell is still powerful in the battles with him, it can never kill your members off parmently.
Shoot Em Up
Touhou doesn't really have cutscenes beyond simple dialogue, but almost all characters canonically have terrifying powers such as "destruction of anything and everything", or simply instant death, that they will obviously never use ingame. The in-universe explanation is that everyone has agreed to a system of non-lethal duels, but the games include a number of characters that couldn't have learned the rules.
In the intro scene for Privateer, the player's ship is shown taking down a pirate fighter with three shots from one mount of the weakest gun of the game. Not even after you acquire the "wondership" and load four of the most powerful guns in the game onto it can you match that feat.
Also from that intro, the player character's ship is shown maneuvering around asteroids as a hostile missile avoidance / redirection technique, in a ship that not only is half as fast as the missile, but marginally less maneuverable to boot.
Seether's mine trick in Wing Commander IV isn't available within the game engine, though Blair does get to use it in the novelization.
Mostly averted in Wing Commander Secret Ops, whose cutscenes are all rendered by the game engine in realtime (with one or two scenes requiring special coding, due to game engine limitations).
Some characters in Punch-Out!! are shown doing amazing feats in their intros before the fight, like Piston Hondo outrunning a bullet train or Mr. Sandman who punches down a building. In battle they are tough to beat, but still are on a rather human level. Either that or Little Mac is absurdly strong. Title Defense Bald Bull is shown to take a charging bull to the chest and not fall down, if only barely; he reacts to same way to Little Mac's punches.
Stealth Based Game
Solid Snake of the Metal Gear Solid series is an even worse offender. Thanks to the game's control system, which is designed for stealthy motion rather than battle, Snake is awkward in a fight. However, he does things he could never do ingame in the game's cutscenes. This is especially true in The Twin Snakes, where, during one sequence, he actually leaps atop an incoming missile, fires off a Stinger launcher, and jumps clear before it explodes!
That is put to shame by the cyborg ninja Gray Fox. When you fight him as a boss, you beat him in a fist fight, yet later he displays enough strength to hold up Rex's foot and survives, albeit barely, getting slammed by Rex against the wall. Also possible with Liquid Snake, whom off-screen supposedly shoots down a pair of jet fighters using a MI-24 Hind attack helicopter (which is not nearly fast enough to deal with super sonic jets), which he can't beat you with.
Twin Snakes becomes completely ridiculous with the Rex battle, which Snake decides to preface by leaping about fifty feet to jump kick it. Which is justified... oh, wait it doesn't do a goddamned thing because he just karate kicked a giant warmech.
In Metal Gear Solid 2, Snake is a rather accurate shot when he's in gameplay. But when Emma's been stabbed and needs to be rescued? He runs across the walkway, sniping things from a hundred yards with his handgun without flinching.
However, Metal Gear Solid 3 also somewhat averts this trope, as a flashy close-quarters combat cutscene is fairly closely based on Snake's actual gameplay CQC abilities; although pulling off something on that level would be extremely difficult in gameplay it is, in theory, possible.
The Boss in MGS3 is invincible in cutscenes. Every time Snake encounters her, his shoulder gets dislocated and his elbows get snapped. He is no match for her. Until you actually face her in a gameplay encounter. Then she is defeatable and nowhere near as badass as she is in the cutscenes.
In MGS3, considering the average amount of damage you can take during actual game play, the amount of punishment Snake survives in the cut scenes is ridiculous: He gets his ass kicked by The Boss and thrown off a bridge that if you jump off during the game at full health, kills you. Later on, he gets his eye shot out from a gun blast, and gets the shit beaten out of him AGAIN by Volgin.
Also, during the fight with Revolver Ocelot, if you jump into the cave you die in gameplay, but survive the fall in a cutscene.
EVA is possibly the worst offender; despite being treated for her injuries after a motorcycle crash, she's still little more than dead weight, moving slowly and requiring constant feeding in order to keep up her stamina, refusing to go on if it gets too low. But when they reach the lake in the cutscene? She walks it off.
Liquid (Ocelot) completely destroys a battle weary Snake in combat in their first first encounter. Their second encounter takes place after the war was over. Snake had gone through the microwave, was shocked repeatedly by Mini-Gekko, and on top of all that, his seizures were at their worst at this point. After passing out, he finds himself on top of a ship, with Liquid. Liquid pumps him full of the stuff he uses to up his Psyche, before fighting. Considering how bad a shape Snake was beforehand, Snake was fighting through sheer power of will. A rather lengthy fight scene starts, with the two toe-to-toe with each other, even though Liquid is in great shape compared to Snake at the time. After sticking each other with syringes once again, the gameplay finally begins. Surprisingly, Liquid could actually end up being an Anti-Climax fight, as long as you keep the pressure on.
Near the end of Metal Gear Solid 2 Solidus Snake takes down several Metal Gear Rays using only his P-90 submachine gun. During gameplay for Raiden to do the same thing to just one Ray requires several Stinger missiles aimed at a specific weak spot.
Big Bad Rodrigo Borgia of Assassin's Creed II has this in spades. Close to the end of the game Ezio, together with pretty much the entire cast of competent Assassins, fights and easily corners him in Venice. But as soon as the ensuing cutscene starts, this mildly obese, middle-aged man somehow just shoves them all aside and runs away, with no chase given.
When you finally duel him in Rome, he wields the dreadfully powerful Staff of Eden... whose power he can only use in cutscenes. Gameplay-wise he's just an ordinary mook with a ton of health.
In one Assassin's Creed I video Altaďr uses a crossbow to take out a guard. You don't have access to one. Averted in the Attract Mode video for 2, where the things done by Ezio - using Courtesans to distract a target, Counter Attacks, disarm-kill on a spear-wielding guard and the hidden gun - are replicable in gameplay.
Altaďr was supposed to have a crossbow, but it was removed for the final version and replaced with throwing knives. They didn't bother altering the cutscene, especially since it was already shown in a trailer.
Then there's of course Steve, who goes into Bullet Time a couple of times during the game, usually when saving Claire's ass.
In Resident Evil 0 cutscenes Billy is able to jump around and shoot things in slow motion, Max Payne style. In gameplay he can only turn and shoot with Resident Evil's trademark awkward controls.
Leon S. Kennedy in Resident Evil 4 is equipped with all sorts of gadgets like grappling hooks and tracking devices that only show up during cutscenes.
Albert Wesker in Resident Evil 5. His combat prowess in cutscenes is almost god-like, whereas his behavior in actual gameplay is almost boring by comparison. In cutscenes he jumps off walls and ceilings, totally dominates the protagonists using complex martial arts moves, appears to "teleport" (a la Nightcrawler) out of the way of bullets, and even impales someone right through the chest with his bare hand. But when you face him in boss fights he's significantly less badass. Granted he's no pushover, but he isn't nearly as agile (most of the fights involve him slooowwwwllly stalking towards the player to attack them), he clearly dodges bullets rather than teleporting out of the way, and his martial arts are very easily countered by a well-timed button press. And the strategy used to defeat him in the next-to-last boss fight? You turn out the lights so he can't see you. Yeah.
It continues in Resident Evil 6. It turns out Sherry Birkin's exposure to the G-virus all the way back in Resident Evil 2 has given her amazing regenerative powers! ... Except only ever in one cutscene. In the actual game, she doesn't have any more health than anyone else, and certainly doesn't regenerate it.
In Silent Hill 2, there's a scripted sequence where Pyramid Head chases James and Maria down a hall and into an elevator. Although Maria (and of course James) can die before reaching the elevator, it takes plenty amount of damage to do so. However, as soon as James reaches the elevator, the game switches to a cutscene where Pyramid Head one-hit kills Maria. She gets better, though. Sort of.
In Silent Hill 3 this trope is entirely averted. The only instance where it could've been played straight would've been Heather's first monster encounter, and then she fires seven shots into the creature, which is about the same way Closers go down during gameplay.
In the cutscene where you encounter the final boss of Dead Space, it kills someone else by grabbing them with its tentacle and crushing them against a wall. Naturally, it never does this to you when you fight it.
Averted for the most part in Rule of Rose. Jennifer is a much, much weaker character during cutscenes than during gameplay. This of course results in Cutscene Incompetence.
Hewey in Haunting Ground can perform amazing feats of acrobacy during cutscenes. During gameplay, he's stuck with barking and biting.
Third Person Shooter
Army Of Two's cutscenes think that you have an assault rifle at all times. It gets really funny when you are rapid-firing WITH A SHOTGUN.
Gears of War 2 featured Skorge the new Dragon to replace Raam as the biggest scariest locust, his cutscene introduction shows him cutting a tank in half with a chainsaw staff. However wen it comes time to fight him....you never really fight him. He basically runs away from you and summons minions and easily avoided over telegraphed AOE attacks from outside the combat zone, punctuated with really brief rock simple QT Es. Just about every fight you did in the level proceeding the encounter is a hell of alot harder, and to add further insult the next time you see him is in a rail shooter segment where he ultimately falls off his flying mount and breaks his neck when you shoot it out from under him and that's the end of him roughly eighty percent of the way through the game. I don't think it matters how much they built him up, he just comes across as a total punk.
In Gears of War 3's "RAAM's Shadow", the ending cutscene shows Minh charging through a swarm of Kryll attacking him and only suffering a few little cuts if anything while the rest harmlessly bounce off his armour. During gameplay, Kryll will tear things to Ludicrous Gibs pretty quickly, including Minh.
Depending on the situation, this pops up in Vanquish's cutscenes, with Sam being able to run and jump far faster and farther than he can in-game, and there are certain special attacks against bosses that take it to almost ludicrious levels, i.e. stopping an Argus 'mech's stomping leg, shooting it in the core with his off-hand, then leaping on top of the stunned machine and drilling down into its core with his feet. This is partially justified later on in the game, where Sam released the "limiters" on his suit for a prolonged period, dramatically increasing his speed and agility.
Turn Based Strategy
In Battle Moon Wars (being based on Super Robot Wars below), whenever a new attack is introduced, it will either kill or heavily wound the enemy it's being used on. Which is usually a boss. Which means it often does tens of thousands of points of damage in one attack. They're less effective in the actual gameplay.
In Fire Emblem, cutscene powers are abused so much that the instant gameplay leaves your hands, nearly anything can happen.
In a cutscene in Radiant Dawn, Shinon is seen shooting a bow from a tree at ridiulous range and severing a rope, yet he can still only shoot three squares away from himself.
In Blazing Sword, pretty much any villain worth his salt has the ability to magically teleport, although the only things in-game that offer teleportation are staves, which must be used by someone other than the person who is teleporting. This isn't even limited to magic-users. Even the assassin, Jaffar, is seen teleporting. Jaffar is also seen triggering his one hit KO ability whenever he so chooses, while he can neither teleport nor reliably trigger the kill in the level where he deserts the Black Fang for the love of Nino. Pretty close the the end of the game, Eliwood ends up OHKOing an ice dragon even thought said dragon was Ninian. And was using a sword "made to slay dragons".
In Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, Laharl destroys an entire fleet of human battleships without much hassle during a cutscene; in the next subsequent battle you'll be facing the cannons of the only sufficiently armed ship — and you'll likely have to run away without massive Level Grinding. And during his appearance in the sequel, well, suffice it to say he takes losing to the protagonists during the fights extremely badly - you're not supposed to beat him (which, again, can be done through massive Level Grinding or a New Game+).
Super Robot Wars uses and reverses this trope. In the cutscene-like moments that happen before or during a battle, mecha are often shown moving or shooting much further than they can in the game. By contrast, many of the cutscenes that show the attacks made in battle are often more deadly-looking than they are in effect. To Humongous Mecha, it seems, being cut in half is only a minor inconvenience.
In W, Genesic Gaogaigar destroys Palparepa Pranja in a cutscene... with an attack that does 99999 damage. The damage cap for attacks is 65536.
Don't forget that they do all that in mid-air after jumping out of the Skyranger anime-style.
Tactics Ogre The Knight of Lodis shows the Sacred Spear firing bolts of energy in a cutscene. It cannot do this when you obtain it, however it could be chalked up to Unreliable Narrator, or simply justified as the spear losing power over time. (It still does, however, perform its main function... Breaking Shaher's barrier.
In Valkyria Chronicles II, the impressive V2 units are tough nuts to crack on the field, and always a priority target, but with certain captured weapons and taking down their weakly armoured supply AP Cs a prepared played can drop an entire field's worth in a turn or two. In the Cutscenes, however, while their poweer level displayed is par for the gameplay, characters react to them as if they were indestructible death machines that single-handedly wipe out entire enemy forces, and perhaps most baffling of all, question if the V2s are actually mortal at all, despite having not only faced, and felled, dozens of them already, even discounting replaying maps for grinding!
Wide Open Sandbox
In the cutscene where Prototype's Alex Mercer gains his Armour power, the transformation comes with an effect that throws the Infected piling up on him away. Would it have made the game intolerably easy to let us players do that too?
The opening cutscene for a new game. Claw power simultaneously with a Blackwatch commander's disguise. Blocking a grenade launcher shot with the Blade power. Both unavailable during gameplay.
Radical has actually made that last one a gameplay element in Prototype 2; Heller can not only block rocket shots (using shields), but he can actually bounce them back at the person who fires them.
In Prototype2, Heller shoots tendrils out and absorbs all of the Infected after consuming Mercer. You can not do this in gameplay.
Mind you, Mercer had done something similar right before the fight and complained about Heller's immunity to it. Presumably, this was simply the game's last upgrade.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. No matter how low C.J.'s very relevant stats are, if you make the corona over the hitman's plane, he can now defy the laws of physics and leap from one plane to another and somehow get inside.
In Fatal Frame 2's trailer, one can see Mio running as fast as she can to rescue Mayu, and damned if it wouldn't be nice if she could run that fast in-game!
In the intro movie of Vangers the puniest of the regular battle cars fires a high-end weapon that wouldn't even fit on that car in-game!
In Destroy All Humans!, Crypto's weapons are clearly stronger, what usually takes many shots to take down will only take one in a cut scene. Also where Crypto's Jet Pack will only give a brief high jump, Crypto can fly will this in the cut scenes .
In the second game, during a cut scene Cryto is lowering Natalya down into the volcano lair with his telekinesis while using his jet pack. He isn't able to do this in game until the 3rd game.
In inFAMOUS 2, it usually takes a lot of fire power to take down a helicopter. However in a cut scene, Cole was able to nearly destroy a helicopter with a single shock grenade.
Somewhat justified in that Cole had just absorbed a Blast Core so he was 'overcharged' in a sense. He also passes out from the effort afterwards.