You have a character or faction in a game that occupies the top tier of competitive play. So why do they move slowly, use attacks that fail to impress, and have skills that look more appropriate for a Joke Character? Trying to get any decent use out of these characters is like trying to memorize the unabridged Encyclopedia Britannica.
But! With enough practice and experience, it turns out they really are awesome as advertised; it's just that these characters have a high bar to entry, and their steep learning curve scares most players away from using them. Most commonly seen in fighting games, strategy games, and in general multiplayer.
These characters tend to avoid becoming the Tier-Induced Scrappy, due to an unspoken respect for the amount of effort it takes to play one of these characters well. Counter Attack-centric characters lend themselves easily to this definition because of the need to master the precise timing of their counters, as do Mighty Glaciers in games that favor the relentless pressure of Fragile Speedsters or Jacks Of All Stats.
Opposite of Skill Gate Characters, who are easy to learn but easily defeated by skilled opponents. Compare Magikarp Power, which is about the character gaining additional power rather than the player getting better at using them. Compare and contrast Lethal Joke Character, who requires a specific trick or exploit to be awesome, rather than requiring the player to master the character over time. Also compare and contrast Awesome, but Impractical, where Awesome turns out to be a bit too Difficult. Compare with Game Breaker, which some of the more potent examples can easily become. Can overlap with a Mechanically Unusual Class, but is not required.
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In Devil May Cry 3 and 4, you can play Dante with the Royal Guard style. To get the most out of this style, you need to time Dante's blocks and releases near-perfectly. If you take the time to master it, however, you can do a lot of damage. A real lot. Plus blocking everything your enemy/ies can throw at Dante and retaliating like the unstoppable badass Dante is meant to be looks really awesome.
3 also has two types of Lag Cancel for its big guns Spiral and Kalina Ann. The easier one is switch-cancelling, where you switch to Ebony&Ivory, fire them and switch back. Little finesse is needed and anyone can do it. The harder one is to use Royal Guard to cancel. If you slip up on the rhythm, the cancel will fail and the refire rate will be as slow as if you never tried. If you get the rhythm correct, though, you can fire faster than what switch-cancelling offers.
Nevan also qualifies in 3. Yes, it's slow, its moves need to be far more precise than any other in the game, it's the only melee weapon that mainly involves charging attacks, it kinda sucks against large enemies and its damage isn't all that great either. However, its range is by far the best in the game and its sickle attacks when using the Swordmaster attacks are obscenely powerful. Once you get skilled enough with Nevan, you can quickly switch between its crowd control attacks, leaving everyone immobilized, and its killer sickle attacks.
Another element that straddles the border between Difficult, but Awesome and Awesome, but Impractical is the top tier Rebellion Swordmaster skill "Dance Macabre". Yes, it looks extremely awesome when using it, but you need to be very aware of where every enemy is and when they're about to attack.
Dante in general in Devil May Cry 4 compared to Nero. To get the most out of him, you have to learn to switch between all of his styles on the fly, utilize quite a few glitches and exploits, and learn to properly use his moves to chase the opponent. That said, if you can learn how to properly use him, Gentlemen...BEHOLD!!!!!!!!!!
The Slylandro Probe's controls are very different from other ships' controls - it always moves at top speed at the direction it is facing (so turning it makes it automatically move that in direction, without the need to accelerate and ignoring any inertia) and the thruster key is used for reversing the ship's direction instead of acceleration. It is insanely difficult to control, but once mastered it becomes highly maneuverable and a very deadly ship.
The Druuge Mauler has no defensive mechanism, eats up a massive amount of energy with each shot, and has to kill off its own crew to replenish it at any reasonable rate. It also flies backwards whenever a shot is fired. This makes it very unappealing to novice players. An experienced player however will basically snipe at his opponent from across the map, causing massive damage with each hit. Experts will sometimes propel themselves to top speed and snipe their enemies while zooming across the view.
The Umgah Drone is moderately fast but is made of paper, practically a One-Hit-Point Wonder. Its weapon is also extremely short range. But get within that short range and it will kill just about anything in seconds. It does have a "dash" feature that makes it move extremely quickly for a second or two... but it only dashes backwards, compounding the difficulty of this ship.
The Pkunk Fury has very little health, must manually recharge its energy, and its only weapon is short-ranged and weak (but does fire in three directions). It is also fast. Really fast. Faster than any other ship in the game. And very maneuverable on top of that, meaning that a skilled Pkunk player can dodge just about anything. It also has a 50% chance of respawning at full health upon death, and this does not go down after it accumulates deaths. There's a reason seasoned players make sure to take at least one of these into the final battle: it can outrun the Final Boss's homing projectiles, making the battle a cakewalk.
Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow has the Succubus soul. It has a very specific range it works at; half a pixel off, and Soma will just swipe at empty air, and most likely get hit by whatever he was trying to grab. If you can get the range down, however, you have an extremely powerful attack that also heals Soma greatly.
The fun little Action-Shooter-Multiplayer-Game Soldat offers you a wide variety of automatic and half automatic weapons to kill other players, like an AK-74, akimbo Desert Eagles and even a Minigun. But by far the most satisfying hits are with the primary weapon M79 and secondary weapon M72 LAW. Both guns are explosive, killing in 1 direct hit or 2 with splash damage, but take several seconds to reload and have an awkward firing angle. The M79 projectile is slow and risks killing yourself, especially when fired upwards, and the projectile's speed/angle varies based on the velocity of the player. In a game where players are in mid-air most of the time, the LAW can only be fired while crouched on the ground. However, when mastered, few can match the M79's trick shots and the LAW ricocheting its missile off multiple walls and hitting enemies off-screen. Furthermore, no other weapon lets you experience the delight of standing in the bloody rain of your evaporated foes.
Using the mouse for one-to-one sword movement in Hack-and-Slash Die By The Sword is favored by most players because the enhanced control is more fun, but it's also significantly harder to block and strike than the "arcade" controls where a single keyboard button corresponds to a complete attack.
Bayonetta has the Moon of Mahaa Kalaa accessory. Simply put, it's the accessory that allows blocks and averting/countering attacks. The timing required is VERY precise and unforgiving but once you have it down, there is not an attack in the game that you can't send right back where it came from.
One of the many unlockable Purposefully OverpoweredNew Game+ weapons from Resident Evil 4, the Infinite Rocket Launcher. The weapon is so clunky and slow to use (and dangerous to the user, especially in small rooms) that it's much, much less versatile compared to most of its fellow special weapons. Most of the other unlockables can carry you through most if not all of the game by themselves, while trying to get through the game with only an Infinite Rocket Launcher would ironically be harder than playing through with standard weapons. On the other hand, it could just be argued that the weapon is just a logical upgrade to the Too Awesome to Use standard rocket launchers, which are very rare and contain only one shot each, on top of eating a large portion of your inventory space. Said weapons were designed to be saved for bosses, so acquiring the infinite version can be seen as the devs saying "Congratulations, you can now fire as many rockets as you want!" For a weapon that was never designed to be an integral part of the gameplay, that's actually pretty awesome.
The PRL-42 also qualifies. It has unlimited ammo capabilities and can either stun groups of enemies for long periods of time or just flat out kill any enemy in its path with a single charged blast, even wiping out a whole hoard in a single line. And most bosses are done in by one or two of the weaker stun charges Unfortunately it takes a long time to charge even between disabling flash attacks and leaves the player vulnerable to attacks by nearby enemies. Getting hit will disrupt that long charge time and force you to start again. It can't be used against non-plagas enemies or objects like trucks, crows, locks or bear traps that require a projectile solution. And you're completely vulnerable from the rear because you can't charge it when making a quick turn.
To a lesser extent, the Red9. Due to the comparatively small clip and long reload time, you really need a good positioning game and a good judgement of when and where it is good to reload for it to be as effective as it's prime rival, the Blacktail. You'll also need good aim if you want to truly take advantage of that stock upgrade. However, once you get the hang of it, it's like having a mini sniper rifle that pumps out powerful shots with deadly accuracy. Many experienced players swear by it.
Resident Evil 5 has the crossbow. It has no crosshair, but once you've mastered it, you can instakill most enemies on Perfectionist difficulty.
The frequently-mocked Top Spin in Mega Man 3 is regarded by many players as a joke weapon. Most will try it out once or twice before dismissing it as useless. A player who knows how the Top Spin works and what enemies are vulnerable to it however, can twirl and spin through good bits of the game, taking out most enemies in one hit.
Power Stone and Crystal Eye in Mega Man 5. Power Stone has a "unique" firing pattern, and Crystal Eye breaks into three balls that bounce off the walls. Most players never use these, as it is difficult to hit enemies with. However, if fired in the right places at the right time, they become devastating weapons that can be used to show off just how good you are.
Zero from Mega Man X4 onward is a Difficult but Awesome character. His attacks tend to do more damage, and instead of gaining weapons from fallen Mavericks he learns new techniques that can be used without switching to them and don't require ammo. However, almost all of this requires the player to get in close to attack, increasing their risk of getting hit, he doesn't get armor upgrades like X does, and it's become popular for certain power-ups involving Zero to boost his damage output at the cost of increased damage to himself.
The later Metal Slug games have Clark and his special move, the Super Argentine Backbreaker. It's a risky move, requiring you to get up close to foot soldiers and risk gunfire to the face in a game where one hit equals death. However, it has three very beneficial effects: It's a One-Hit Kill to soldiers, throwing an enemy with the Backbreaker has a base value of 1,000 points (and climbs up with successive throws), and most importantly for survival-based players, it grants a few seconds of invincibility. Used proficiently, the Backbreaker turns hoardes of mooks into opportunities for much-needed invincibility and buttloads of points.
Quake 2 has Railgun. Incredibly hard to use as it requires perfect aiming skills. However, it makes instant 100 damage from across all the map, and when under quad damage power-up usually kills opponent in a multiplayer with one hit. Extremely well equipped characters will may survive two hits. The gun became even more useful on maps of Quake 3 with jump pads, as it is impossible to maneuver in air and Railgun is a weapon of choice to hit such players.
Computer bots actually are able to hit players in jump with rockets. Indeed awesome, but almost impossible for human players.
From Ocarina of Time, Biggoron's Sword. It's more powerful and has a longer reach, but it has a few drawbacks, mostly due to the sheer weight of the thing. First, the time required to swing it is much longer, and the recovery time is a window that you can be hit in. Second, it slows you down to a crawl; all dodging moves are delayed. Third, you can't use your shield at the same time because it's a two-handed sword. You can use the sword itself to block some attacks, but not all. That having been said, it is incredibly useful at some points. For instance, it is the only sword that can harm an Armos Knight. Also, especially when combined with the Jump Attack (which doubles attack damage) it can make short work of any boss. Since you usually have to stun a boss before you can actually harm them, it makes sense to want to deal as much damage as possible before they recover, so proper usage of Biggoron's Sword spares you some repetition. The weapon is so destructive in good hands that it is considered one of the biggest Game Breaker items in the entire series.
It is also very effective when used against Dark Link as he can pull an unavoidable counterattack if you are using the Master Sword but not against the Biggoron's Sword. Also good against Ganon.
Sid Meier’s Pirates!: Players who favour mobility in a ship tend to find the Royal Sloop a solid choice, but a small cult of elite and possibly crazy players swear by the Pinnance-class ships, the War Canoe, the Pinnance and the Mail Runner. The Mail Runner is the largest and strongest of the three, with the most cargo capacity, crew capacity and cannons, but even then, it's still far less than just about any other ship. Not to mention that the Mail Runner is the second-rarest ship in the entire game, with many players never seeing one in an entire playthrough. However, the Runner can run rings around other, larger ships, and it is excellent at sailing into the wind.
Beat Em Up
God Hand has some of its apparently Awesome, but Impractical moves turn out to be this. For example, Yes Man Kablaam has an awful startup time, a period immediately after it connects where Gene smiles at an imaginary crowd and none-too-stellar damage, but if you know how to use it properly - on a dizzied target, preferably with no one around to interfere, then dodge-cancel the delay - it fills up the Tension Gauge much faster. Granny Smacker has similar drawbacks, but helps dizzy an enemy much faster than most other moves would.
Hydro Thunder Hurricane brings the Rad Hazard. The absolute best acceleration and air control in the game but also the absolute worst handling. Mastering the boat however has brought many players massive online success.
The Jet Vermilion in F-Zero Maximum Velocity. For being the coveted best car, it is incredibly awkward to use at first. But if you're insane enough to persist long enough to have gotten it (that is, without using the cheat code), you're probably disciplined enough to master using it.
In F-Zero X, the Blood Falcon has a horrible grip rating, but mastery of the physics system (such as grinding the wall for massive bursts of speed) makes his vehicle one of the best ones for setting world records. In fact, most of the machines with an E in Grip aren't nearly as bad as the parameters would imply, as they're able to exploit the same mechanics and access several shortcuts.
GX's revamped physics system allowed the player to snake. It's a very difficult technique to properly pull off (not to mention that your fingers will be extremely sore afterward), but mastering it turns thegame into an utter cakewalk by propelling your vehicle at insane speeds without even having to sacrifice yourenergy meterfor a boost. The technique (in modified form) would also find life in Mario Kart DS. However, whether or not such tactics qualify as cheating remains a source of heated contention. Word of God states that those techniques were deliberately implemented into the games, so make of that as you will.
Happy Wheels has the pogo stick guy. His controls are very hard to deal with, and getting him to go where you want him to is a bit of a chore sometimes. However, he is one of only two characters that can actually jump with no outside influence, and he is fairly durable while on the pogo stick.
Starting with Mario Kart DS, it is entirely possible to dodge a Spiny Shell with a well timed use of the speed boosting Mushroom. It is not only difficult to get the timing down, it is also very rare that you will get a mushroom while in 1st place. With enough practice, Spiny Shells will do nothing to you as you pull off a mushroom boost to avoid being hit. Nintendo made this tactic deliberate to award players who can time the dodge perfectly.
Taken to an extreme with the game's drift system: if you time it correctly you can dodge a spiny shell by using a drift boost. The catch is that you have to do this while the circuit is making a sharp turn, boost at the right time and immediately make a hop. If done correctly the spiny shell will miss you completely and possibly hit somebody too close to you.
In general, manual transmission. It can take time to learn the proper shift points for whatever you're driving, and you have to manage a new set of inputs, but choosing manual often provides several advantages, such as improved acceleration, speed control, and top speed. In some games, it's not even possible to compete with CPU opponents without using manual.
Before anything else, fightsticks in general. Compared to regular controllers, they take quite a bit of getting used to. That said, the general consensus is that it's generally easier to get good at a fighter using a fightstick.
Hitbox is this Up to Eleven . You have nothing but buttons for each finger and a jump button that is on the bottom, you also have to build up strength in your weaker fingers (usually your left ring finger). Once you learn it however, you'll have faster inputs than anything you'll get on the pad and especially the stick, attacks that come out in 2 or 3 frames and being able to air cancel into special moves almost immediately. This has led some to declare it as a Game Breaker , but there is nothing you can do on hitbox that you can't do on any other controller (you can block in two directions on pad in games that allow it, and legit hitboxes are modded to SOCD clear so that left+right= neutral and down+up=up, and anybody can mod their controllers to cheat (not just hitbox) so they're here to stay.
In fighting games where they are available, infinite combos demand highly accurate positioning and timing, but for those who can master them they are Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
Puppet Fighters have a tendency to be this most of the time for one reason or another. You need to keep track of not one, but two characters simultaneously and also need to know how to properly control both at the same time. If you do, you can control more of the screen than anyone else in the cast, giving you an advantage no other character can have.
The 2D fighting game Pretzel Motion, so far held by GeeseHoward, his son RockHoward, and Hazama. The motion is unbelievably complex (down-back to half circle back to down-forward) but the move that it brings out is normally easy to combo into, does big damage (in Hazama's case a One-Hit Kill), and works as a great anti-air.
Kohaku from Melty Blood uses it as well for her KohaponX move. It costs 100 meter and has long startup (making the usage itself as difficult as execution, the cactus summons help though), but grants her super armor and instant Blood Heat upon successful activation, so you can pound the enemy and use Arc Drive or Last Arc with impunity.
Grappler Characters and Charge characters tend to be this (especially the former in some cases). Grappler characters are usually huge, slow, usually require the use of full circle (which can make the character jump accidentally when done wrong, unless you're playing Skullgirls) motions, don't usually have projectile attacks (Tager, Kanji, and Cerebella being limited exceptions), and require getting to point blank to use their most damaging attacks. Charge characters can be tough to use on the fly (considering their moves require you to hold in one direction, then thrust the opposite) unless you're turtling. That said though, Grapplers tend to have the best damage output when you land their grabs, and some of the best characters in certain fighters (like Guile and Mitsuru) tend to be charges.
Hakumen has become this in Continuum Shift, although he showed shades of it in Calamity Trigger. His sloth, lack of invincibility frames and need to burn super meter to use most of his moves serve to make him difficult to use; however, an expert will know how to use his BFS' reach to play keep-away while using his Counter Attacks to punish attempts at retaliation.
Iron Tager. A starting Tager is a slow piece of junk many rushdown-centric characters can take apart easily and his most powerful moves have Some Dexterity Required inputs. A master Tager player like Mike Z, on the other hand, turns him into a monster that few can dismiss out of hand by recognizing the openings in others' combos, bringing out his powerful grabs as necessary and making smart use of his magnetism.
And, to a lesser degree, Litchi. Combos that exercise crazy muscle memory are the main problem, with her movesets (with or without her staff) being easier to recognize, but can be hard to understand, nonetheless.
Carl Clover started out as a low tier character due to his incredibly steep learning curve, poor mobility, and low defense. However, after players discovered that he had the game's only infinite combo, he was shown to be incredibly powerful in the hands of a skilled player.
Hazama can be this too. He's VERY combo oriented, his basic attacks don't have much range to them, they don't have a lot of damage on their own, and since his dash is little more than a scoot forward his only gap closer is Ouroboros which the enemy can see coming quite often. However, he has a lot of combo opportunity which hurts a lot for this one thing: For some reason characters downed by his attacks stay on the ground a bit longer, enabling him to just just attack and bring the enemy airborne for another combo. Again.
Arakune. He has little to no offensive pressure and not much in the defence department either. His air dashes are awkward and a fair amount of his moves are situational at best with one even having a random result each time you use it. However, he has a gauge that fills up when certain attacks connect that, when full, has his normal attacks summon bugs to deal additional damage. Unfortunately, each bug has their own issues (the weaker two have little to no hitstun, the stronger two are slower) and require proper timing from the Arakune player to put the opponent in a combo. To make matters worse, the gauge empties gradually as you fight, lasting 14 seconds in Continuum Shift and decreases the gauge as you summon bugs while also emptying naturally in Chrono Phantasma. However, with enough skill, Arakune can decimate opponents in a single bar of curse, potentially dealing ten thousand damage (in a game where that's enough to KO a fair amount of the cast) in a single combo.
Testament from Guilty Gear is a Gradual Grinder that will spend his time laying traps willy-nilly. Novices will place traps randomly then get overrun by fighters using rushdown tactics like Sol. Good Testament players will lay traps in strategic locations but are unable to really deal enough damage. Great Testament players know what to do when you're caught in a trap and also know when to pull out their surprise attacks and screen-filling blasts to catch you unaware and blast you into yet another trap while filling their supers again so they can blast you into another trap.
Also Johnny, Baiken, Axl, I-no, Dizzy and to a lesser extent Anji and Venom.
Bridget has long inputs and a requirement to plan ahead as to where your yo-yo and Roger are.
Zappa is probably the hardest character to use, as he has several different entire movesets that he can switch to at random.
Kanji from Persona 4 Arena. He's slow, has limited mobility and is one of the most poorly designed grapplers in recent memory. That being said, playing him patiently makes him completely and utterly unstoppable, as his entire game revolves around taking advantage of the opponent's mistakes. On top of that, as this dude demonstrates, he can hit confirm into his command grabs pretty easily with the right combos.
Aigis as well. A lot of her moves are unusable unless she goes into Orgia Mode. The problems with using Orgia Mode? The mode has a time limit (that temporarily disables Orgia Mode if it runs out) and completely changes how Aigis moves; instead of normally walking and running, she uses her thrusters to boost herself. Attacking during an Orgia dash causes aerial attacks to occur instead of standing attacks that normally happen if a character is moving. Once you get past that hindrance, she's a powerful characters who can deal tons of damage with very long strings of combos.
Naoto as well. She's a Zoning\Keep-Away character in a combo-centric fighter. She doesn't have the best damage output, she doesn't have the most health, and she's generally considered lower on the tier lists. That said though, she has lots of options for zoning, keep away, and combos all in the same character, she has a nice selection of traps she can use to pin down her opponent, she has a pair of supers that instantly kill the opponent no matter what their health is in the right situations, and, to top it all of, she can take advantage of SMP Loops to do EXTREMELY high damage combos.
Shadow Labrys counts as well. She has some of the lowest health in the game and her gameplan is crippled without the use of her massive "Persona" Asterius. Asterius is also the most awkward Persona to use in the entire game, as it's constantly out and is not tied to Shadow Labrys herself when it attacks. Once mastered, though, she is one of the resident gods of mixups, using staggered attacks from both Shadow Labrys herself and Asterius to keep the opponent blocking until she can find an opening in their defenses. She and Asterius can also set up situations where it's impossible to block the attack of one without getting hit by the other. She even has some massively damaging combos thanks to her powerful Awakening supers. The kicker? She is the only character in the game who can combo into her Instant Kill.
Elizabeth is an extreme case. She has the lowest health in the game, has few usable defensive options, and is rather slow to boot. She is also crippled without her Persona, Thanatos, and practically has to be in Awakening in order to be at her most powerful. That said, once mastered she is a force to be reckoned with, as she has a variety of deadly projectiles, command throws, status effects, a pair of instant death traps that she can force her opponent into, the ability to heal herself (a trait only two other characters have) and one of the most powerful non-instant death moves in the entire game.
Magneto wasn't even considered top tier until people discovered that he had an infinite that he could combo into from multiple setups, provided the player had the dexterity to pull it off.
Sentinel is this, taken to a higher level. Every character has an infinite combo that's unique to Sentinel. However, it makes up for it by the sheer number of setups, glitches and options that can be used at high level play provided one takes the time to master them all.
While not as strong as the top, the team of [Strider] and Dr. Doom (also known as Clockw0rk, for Daniel Maniago, the player who developed the team). When played right, the team can pretty much keep their opponent from doing anything but blocking, all while taking chip damage the entire round.
Doctor Doom of Marvel vs. Capcom 3. He has some of the best assists in the game, multiple beam specials for keepaway, and great combo and zoning options by canceling his foot dive into his air dash, but his limited maneuverability and relatively slow normal moves means that time needs to be spent learning all of his options to be effective
As of Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, Phoenix Wright joins Doom. Basically, he starts off in Investigation Mode as rather weak and with low mobility. When he gets three pieces of good evidence, he becomes a pretty okay zoner in Courtroom Mode. When he uses those pieces of evidence to get into Turnabout Mode, however, he takes about a million levels in badass, becoming more powerful, gaining an extremely powerful Kamehamehadoken rendition of his signature finger point as a heavy attack, gains his level 3 hyper (which is instant with limitless range), and potentially becomes one of the best characters in the game.
Being such an oddball type of character, M.O.D.O.K. fits this trope to a tee. With a 'pseudo' flight mode instead of a jump, normals that possess strange hitboxes, his unique 'Intelligence' mechanic that enhances his projectile and barrier moves, there's a reason why he's rarely selected in the character select screen...besides other reasons.
Super Smash Bros.. Melee is basically entirely this on a tournament level. Learning to move properly takes many hours, because the optimal means of movement involve large numbers of short hops (which have to be executed on command for quick aerial attacks, among other things) as well as, most of all, wavedashing, a technique wherein you jump into the air then immediately airdodge into the ground at an angle. Due to the fact that you can control the direction of your air dash, and because when you air dash into the ground it causes you to hit the ground and begin sliding with momentum, you can slide around the stage freely, making attacks as if you were standing still while moving at full run speed (and in many cases, faster than the character's actual run speed, which is particularly notable with Luigi and Mewtwo). The net result is that it takes hours to even learn how to move around and attack properly, and anyone who knows what they're doing can wipe the floor with you using techniques you cannot even use, and oftentimes moving around the stage more quickly than you can, to add insult to injury.
Amusingly enough, as the metagame advances, this seems to be reversing itself due to Meta Knight requiring a very sophisticated understanding of spacing and zoning in current top level play due to having hitboxes with very short duration while Snake's metagame has stagnated to a degree.
The IceGrabbers, with insane amounts of practice, can chaingrab virtually any character to death. You can count the number of people who can do it consistently in tournament on one hand.
Ike in Brawl has some of the strongest attacks in the game, along with an incredibly useful jab, but the vast majority of his moves are incredibly slow and laggy. As a result, top Ike players are highly reliant on reads and spacing to land hits when his opponents are outside his jab range.
Yoshi in really everything he appears in. Controlling the Egg Throw's direction and speed is not easy, but if you can do it, it is dangerous. In certain situations, you can even keep a fairly skilled player from doing anything until you're ready to knock him off stage.
And as of Brawl (based on Smash community members' opinions), joining Yoshi is Zero Suit Samus, who has very effective tools in high-level play, including a versatile recovery, fast mobility, and possessing some of the strongest items in the game (her Power Suit Pieces, which spawn at the beginning of the match), allowing her to gain some quick damage. It is very hard to effectively master these skills, however, but they are invaluable to placing high at tournaments using her.
Fox and Falco from Melee are probably some of the best examples of this trope ever made. Just watch. Yes, at 0:47 they are doing their Down-Bs, jumping out of it, then Down-Bing again so quickly (and repeating) that the full reflector animation doesn't come out and you just see the flash when the hitbox first comes out.
Pikachu in Brawl has over 100 advanced techniques (many are pretty useless other than being really cool).
Marth'sFinal Smash in Brawl allows him to dash across the map and OHKO any opponents in range upon colliding with at least one player. While easily dodged and capable of killing the player using it, the awesome part comes in as skilled players can force all three of their opponents into one spot and knock all three out of the map at once.
Also, Mewtwo. Once one learns his combos and how to create mind games with Teleport, he will be a force of nature...
Sonic in Brawl is fairly easy to pick up at a basic level, but suffers in competitive play from being so light and needing the enemy's percents to be fairly high for a KO. However, when a truly skilled Sonic player picks him up, he turns into a whirling buzz-saw of doom that is untouchable. He is hands down the fastest character in the game and he can literally change direction and be going full speed instantly, not to mention that careful use of his neutral b attack can allow him to stay in the air indefinitely, gluing him to the underside of stages or enabling him to chase down flying opponents. A good Sonic player capitalizes on this speed and maneuverability, strafing the opponents to quickly for them to react and taking advantage of his ability to shield or dodge at any point in his attacks to save themselves from an opponent that somehow manages to catch, corner or out think them.
Ivy is the epitome of this trope. Her combos and abilities with her whip sword are incredibly difficult to learn, but once mastered provide players with incredible range and versatility. Oh, and don't expect all those hours you spend learning her moveset to mean anything by the next game. Her movesets are changed completely from game to game.
Averted in Soul Calibur V which greatly simplified her moveset.
Voldo as well, with his bizarre stances that can leave an inexperienced player desperately trying to figure out how to actually fight from a prone position on the floor. Made even worse by the fact that Namco routinely changes his move set inputs, meaning that if you spent years learning how to play him in one game, that doesn't mean you can play him in all of them. Made especially egregious by the fact this input changing is pointless.
Setsuka is also a character beginners shouldn't touch unless they are possessed in terms of execution. With the most amount of Just Frame moves, she is frustrating for newbies, but frustrating to fight against when used right.
Alpha Patroklos of V is on the same boat as Setsuka, as his gameplay also revolves around near-pixel perfect Just Frame inputs. The similarities between both characters, from their style of play to their fighting discipline to even their stances, are so apparent that the community has given him the affectionate nickname of Patsuka.
Mitsurugi is deceptively like this. While rather easy to pick up, a true master user of Mitsurugi can utilize his middle-of-the-road speed, power, and various stances to utterly eviscerate the competition.
Taki is generally considered to be the fastest character. If you've got quick enough reflexes, you can simply dominate by blocking anything and retaliating.
Sophitia is often used by the toughest players on Soul Calibur IV's online mode. Her attacks aren't very powerful on their own, but she can attack quickly and has good defense. Even for an experienced player, it can be quite a shock to find yourself losing to her.
Astaroth is in a similar boat to Ivy; at first blush, his attacks seem way too slow and clunky for Astaroth Newbies to compete with characters like Nightmare, who has a very easy to pick up aggro game that can hit nearly as hard. When one takes the time to optimize Astaroth's range and some of his more complicated throws and heavy attacks, however, he becomes an absolute horror to fight against and can cover a deceptively long distance to deliver a lot of hard-to-block pain.
V also introduced Viola. Her moves do very little damage and her claw attacks have terrible range, but she can keep an opponent almost constantly off-balance with her crystal ball.
Viola's now considered a little less difficult thanks to her damage being improved somewhat (although she's still a very technical character) and her companion Z.W.E.I.. While considered absolute garbage on a number of competitive forums, Z.W.E.I can actually pull off some very impressively damaging combos if one has the patience to get very good with his E.I.N summon, which can eat the enemy lifebar or ring them out surprisingly fast with the pleasant side effect of looking fricking awesome.
In Tekken, Lei Wulong. Five Stances means more moves to memorize that require the intelligence of a supercomputer.
The entire Mishima clan is this as well. Dark Resurrection was praised as being as close to a perfect game as possible, and the three Mishimas (Heihachi, Devil Jin, and Kazuya) very comfortably occupied the three top spots. However, because of the necessity of pulling off their signature move consistently to create "a wall of EWGF" while mixing it up with mid-range moves to prevent random ducking, as well as getting mid-range vs. low-range options out of their "wavedash" special movement, they were considered fairly balanced, even though an expert Heihachi would pretty much always win against anyone not named Devil Jin.
Jin himself was this in the fourth game. Due to storyline purposes (mostly dealing with betrayal by Heihachi), Jin's moveset was almost completely revamped, with few of his signature moves and bread-and-butter combos from his 3 debut (only two games beforehand) left intact. However, his new tools more than made up for this. If properly timed, his Laser Scraper combo could set up some nasty, nigh-inescapable traps for opponents to deal with. The fact that his recovery time was faster in most situations that most of the cast also helped to keep the pressure on. At high levels of Tournament Play, Jin was the sole occupant of the top tier, to the point that most matches were simply Jin vs. Jin. He still retains shades of this in subsequent games.
Ling Xiaoyu has semblances of complexity, with moves that leave her vulnerable if used incorrectly, several of which are from her Rain Dance (back towards) and Phoenix stances.
On the same boat as Xiao is Hwoarang. Mash-friendly, yes. But his core strengths lie in his surprisingly powerful kicks that need to be carefully planned out before being used, and need to be defended against if used properly. The major contributing factor to his steep learning curve however is his best and most difficult launcher to perform: the Just Frame Talon Sky Rocket.
Not fully whole, but Nina, King and Armor King (but especially the latter two) have several chain-throws, where they would link from one throw to another until the finishing one, eating up a LOT of damages (King could even get into taking out HALF the life bar). Most of them require rather limited time frame to input button combinations which can include three buttons or four buttons combination and you need to memorize what combo follows to what throw. While not used a lot in tournament plays as such throws are easily guessed, it's really satisfying to pull those, even better if you could whiff your opponent into thinking you're doing something else (like, attacking mid or low) only for you to turn out going for the grapple.
Doctor Boskonovitch in Tekken3 is intentionally like this, due to his moves rarely connecting.
Anakaris is a Mighty Glacier that makes most other glaciers look fast, has very slow and stretchy attacks (as well as floaty, Dhalsim-esque jumps), and spends a lot of time with his body split in two parts.
Akira's case is very strange, as the main protagonist normally is the one newbies pick up. His moveset was completely unlike any of the other characters, he required much more pinpoint timing and in the hands of a skilled operator he was an unbeatable wall of force. The Attract Mode for Virtua Fighter 2 showcased Akira pulling off a ridiculously difficult to pull off sequence of moves that would completely obliterate any opponent, 100-0%, without any hope of retaliation OR resorting to a ring-out. This was the single most devastating combo in the game, and they showed it move-for move in the Attract Mode. And yet you NEVER EVER EVER SAW ANYONE USING IT due wholly to the sheer difficulty and computer-like timing required to actually pull it off.
Over increasing Virtua Fighter installments, Akira has been made easier to play, yet his reputation for being a difficult character to master has remained consistent. What mainly makes him so challenging to use is that he is likely the most un-button mashing friendly character in the series, and thus not suited for a beginner pick up and play type style. Most of his moves are linear, power attacks with one or two hits, unlike most of the other characters who have a variety of combo strings. The few multi-hit combos Akira does have (including his signature move, Hougeki Unshin Soukoshou, better known to westerners as the Stun Palm of Doom) require a higher level of execution to perform. Taking take full advantage of his devastating damage output requires timing, skill, and knowledge of how to link/buffer his moves together. As well, a lot of his game is centered around capitalizing on the opposite player's openings and mistakes.
Also, the Virtua Fighter series itself is this when compared to other fighting games. The complex gameplay mechanics and fast pace of the game make it QUITE hard to get into, and the incredible diversity in style amongst the characters pretty much obliges you to pick one and stick with him/her. It's nowhere near as newbie-friendly as other games in the genre to be sure. However, the series is widely hailed as possibly the most balanced fighting game in the genre, with each character being able to play competitively without crippling disadvantages against other characters, so it has remained a perennial favorite for online play.
Angel too, as her Unchain Circle moves are complex and confusing to both parties.
Gen in Street Fighter IV, and, by extension, Street Fighter Alpha. He has access to two different substandard fighting styles, but he can switch between them anytime he wants. Great Gen players are rare, but you'll notice how they basically fly around everywhere, crush your defense and pull insanely high damaging combos out of their ass whenever they want.
Q in Street Fighter III: Third Strike. Slow, awkward attacks and highly defensive. Get his armor up and have a good handling on his moves and he becomes a force to be reckoned with.
Street Fighter III in general. Contrasting to every other came in the series, even the most basic tenets of this game take computer-esque precision and/or muscle memory to execute, and you're expected to be able to do so perfectly on command in every situation. Near every character requires heavy memorization of moves, and which ones chain into combos to be effective (again, especially in contrast to other games in the series), and the game is, in general, fairly difficult for a fighter, leading to the metagame and higher levels of play being frankly insane for the levels of skill they require. Cue fans of the games generally complaining that subsequent games in the genre are too easy in comparison.
Hugo is your typical slow grappler that towers in his part of the stage. Now if you play fighters often you know that being big equals having more ass to be kicked into. Of his 3 supers the two grabs are naturally the most damaging but quite hard to pull of... until you realize his Megaton Press is ridiculously easy to combo into with one of his other grabs. Using Gigas Breaker on the other hand requires quite some skill to pull of efficiently. Incorporating the parry system makes it EASIER while making it HARDER. But if you successfully pull it of, your enemy can kiss off his lifebar while you can gleefully call out EINS, ZWEI, DREI, ENDE!
Necro suffers from the same problems Dhalsim has: He has long reach but relatively low damage and he increases his vulnerability with his long limbs. But if you learn to use his cornering mindgames and his low damaging but really annoying combos you get disastrous results.
Remy is quite a defensive character with his only really damaging moves being backwards and downwards charging ones and everything else can be seen from a mile away. But with enough effort you can spam his up and down projectiles so fast Remy earns himself the nickname "The Machinegun".
New players can also find it difficult to play as Firion or Cecil's Dark Knight form as they are heavily ground based but combat will often gravitate towards the air. Cecil also requires mastering his two different forms which are only usable either in the air or on the ground and knowing when and how to switch.
Squall can be rather difficult to grasp early on because unlike most other characters, most of Squall's most damaging attacks are effectively at zero range. To put it into perspective, most characters have attacks that allow them to attack while moving. Squall stops immediately and his attack range is about 1 game meter in length. This makes him very frustrating because most beginning players do not know the importance of guarding yet. However, once they do, Squall becomes one of the most dangerous characters in the game. He can literally take a character at 9999 and drop them down to 0 with only a few combos, even faster if you invested in the brave draining skills. The other learning curve is that a lot of his HP attacks are hard to connect with, but once you are able to master their timing, you can essentially rip through your opponent's arsenal.
Kefka has very... odd spells that, with the exception of Havoc Wing, rarely strike directly. However, given time to level up his spellset, Kefka essentially becomes a combo god who can drain bravery just as fast as Squall can (and from a safe distance to boot!). In addition, the constant flow of his spells to Kefka Experts would easily qualify him for more of a "trap-style" player than The Emperor would.
Onion Knight starts with weak attacks that can be hard to connect with, though he later becomes a chaining machine. It gets to the point that the only time a skilled player will use Onion Knight's basic HP attacks is to destroy a weaksauce opponent: if you get hit with a bravery attack from Onion Knight at high levels, you're either in Break status, or taking an HP attack. Sometimes both.
Golbez is probably second to Jecht in terms of this trope. Golbez's Brave Attacks have really odd quirks, being two-part Full-Contact Magic attacks. Depending on whether or not his foe is hit by his hand or by his magical burst of energy, the second component of his assault will change. In order to get the hang of these mixups, a Golbez player needs to be able to properly gauge distance for each and every attack. In addition, he's able to chain most of these Braves together (or alternatively, chain them into his HP attacks), and when coupled with EX Cancel, he can keep these strings going for quite some time, giving Golbez a combo ability on par with that of Jecht and Zidane. In the proper hands, there will be very few safe havens when Golbez is on the warpath.
Most of Team Chaos actually functions like this, being unwieldy at first because of how different they are from the characters you start off with and then when you figure out how to set them up, they become deadly awesome. As mentioned, the notable steep learning curves are Exdeath, Jecht, The Emperor, Ultimecia, Kefka and Golbez. Their bonus character, Judge Gabranth probably has it the worst, seeing as his entire play style relies heavily on reaching his Super Mode before his opponent can.
The prequel Duodecim gives us a few more examples:
Lightning, who (as a nod to her game's Paradigm Shift system) has three different movesets she can switch between on the fly (Commando is mostly physical attacks, Ravager is primarily magic-based, and Medic uses Cure spells to restore Light's BP without the need to attack), giving her great versatility.
The Touhou series includes a number of fighting games, that, unsurprisingly, bring examples of this trope:
Alice in Immaterial and Missing Power. Alice doesn't use ranged attacks the same way the others do; rather, she deploys her doll familiars out, where they'll attack the enemy after a short time. The stagger delay takes some getting used to, but skilled Alice players can use their dolls to trap the enemy in the corner, where they're at her mercy with her skills and spells. Scarlet Weather Rhapsody/Hisoutensoku changed things so that Alice now relies on traps and has weird ranges. She's very hard to use well, but capable of utterly destroying opponents if the player knows what they're doing.
Suwako in Touhou Hisoutensoku. Everything about her, most notably her movement (she hops around the stage like a frog). Many of her attacks can only be used at specific times, and require impeccable positioning and timing to pull off correctly. She's also the possessor of the most powerful combo in the game (which takes off half a life bar), and is only beaten in terms of damage by Utsuho.
Virtual-ON Oratorio Tangram, while is practically made of Difficult But Awesome, have a few standout fighters:
The 10/80 Special does not have any thrust-vectoring dash (meaning it will only to one direction in a dash, unlike other VRs that can change direction mid-dash), has weak weapons easily deflectible by V-Armor, and cannot dash in the air. On the upside, it is quite fast, and able to slice between a Raiden's twin beam cannons with its special move.
The Bal (not that one). It has more moves than all the other VRs combined, and using Bal is an exercise of patience and skill. Master Bal, and it becomes More Dakka and Frickin' Laser Beams in one convenient package.
Ajim. Its Mine Orbs has more or less a random factor to it that can heal opponents, all of its weapons recharge slowly, and you have to level the weapons up to gain maximum effectiveness. It's armor is paper-thin (it is, in-universe, basically a stack of rogue pixels), and on your hands Ajim's energy leaks at a constant rate (meaning, your life decreases as the passage of time). But if you are disciplined with the weapons and is good at aiming, then Ajim hits unbelievably hard, is hardly affected by V-Armor, and is capable of finishing off any of the upper-tier VRs in no time at all.
Roll Canceling in Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark Of The Millennium is definitely one of the hardest. Canceling moves within a few frames which gives you an invincibility buffer. Unfortunately most players will never do it, and only top level players will. Throw in things like Custom Combos and spacing and it becomes one of the most technical fighters ever.
Shinnok in Mortal Kombat 4 has the ability to steal the movelist of every other character in the game, except Goro, who isn't playable to begin with. He is literally as good as every other playable character combined. The problem? First, you need to enter the command to actually take on another character's movelist. Then, you need to have that character's movelist memorized. And since there's no point to picking Shinnok if you're only copying one character (since then you may as well just pick that character), you'll need to memorize multiple movelists, making for a metric fuckton of memorization. On top of that, there is a time limit on how long Shinnok can copy another character; it is almost unheard of for one battle to be over within this time limit. While nothing is stopping Shinnok from copying the same character multiple times, the sudden timeout often translates to a broken combo since a character special failed to work by virtue of Shinnok not having the special at the moment. The short of it is that Shinnok is portrayed as the best fighter in the game, and he certainly is...provided you're one of the very, very few players with the patience to actually use him.
In 'Rumble Pack', using Binary style takes more skill than the other styles and revolves around using the "Radix" button to cancel any move. Mastering it allows massive combos and cinematic Overdrive attacks.
Parasoul from Skullgirls is considered by most of the competitive community to be a high-to-top tier fighter, with excellent space-control involving her many long-ranged attacks, damaging combos, and her excellent mixup game. The problem? Her ground movement is awkward, she doesn't have any mobility options in the air (She's also the only character in the cast with this property), and she fights with charge attacks like Guile or Venom, making patience a necessary requirement to unlock her potential.
For people who mainly play consoles, playing a shooter with a controller. Most who got used to keyboard & mouse can agree that it's the easiest way to play a shooter (what with the mouse being more naturally accurate than the right stick). That said, if you don't have a powerful enough rig to play some of the more graphically-intensive shooters on PC, learning how to play on a pad can easily gain you access to that game if it's on your console of choice.
The Baur in Battlefield 2142, high recoil, low magazine count, but dealt out high damage, and if you could pop off quick headshots, and stay out of most close quarters combat, you could drop enemies with ease.
To a lesser extent, the Scar-11, which was a watered down Baur (which makes sense, as the in-game description says that the Baur is a bulked-up edition of it.) It had higher recoil compared to the Krylov and the Voss, but dealt out more damage and performed better at range.
The Scout. Normal Scouts are cannon fodder, and easily dispatched by just about anything. Skilled Scouts are nightmarish, appearing from nowhere to kill any class (even the Heavy) in seconds and are as easy to hit as smoke. Any player's absolute worst nightmare is a competent Scout that knows how to dodge, flank, ambush, retreat, and pursue.
Even more so when using the Baby-Face's Blaster. Once the Scout does enough damage, he becomes 30% faster than normal, which is obviously a lot more difficult to hit. The excess speed and smaller bullet spread makes it much harder for the Scout to connect a hit while moving, but a skilled Scout can become practically invincible at mid-range if he keeps moving.
Unskilled Soldiers are Crutch Characters, great for beginners but never more than decent against better players. Good Soldiers use Rocket Jumping to turn the slow Soldier into a highly mobile force of Death from Above, juggle enemies (which requires they know how to blast enemies into the air and keep them there by predicting their landing spots, completely neutralizing unaware players), and use aerials to take target-leading to a whole new level to work beautifully in conjunction with the other two abilities.
Pyros have very average stats, don't have very many options against enemies past point blank range, and are mostly used to charge into battle flaming the entire time. Those who master the airblast however, which repels enemy players and projectiles, are death-dealing monstrosities the bane of Soldiers and Demos everywhere, enabling such feats as Rocket Jumpingusing enemy projectiles, but it requires split-second timing and not a small amount of luck. Reflecting a Huntsman arrow in particular is considered a sort of rite of passage for airblast Pyros thanks to the unpleasantly narrow window of opportunity and the amount of damage you'll take if you fail.
The Degreaser + Flare Gun + Axtinguisher combo sacrifices some flamethrower damage and use of a shotgun with the ability to rapidly switch between weapons that give guaranteed criticals on burning players. It requires superb reflexes, juggling enemies, and leaves you vulnerable to enemy Pyros, but takes the Pyro's already superb ambush skills and results in a player that can kill several enemies in a single attack.
Any Demoman who doesn't just spam grenades everywhere needs to be damn good at predicting where your opponent is going to be in a second (grenade launcher), two seconds (airbursting stickiebombs) or ten seconds (stickybomb traps), as well as able to instinctively compensate for both weapon's considerable arc.
Even more so are Demomen who can master stickyjumping, a technique akin to the Rocket Jump except that it utilises Stickybombs as opposed to rockets. It is considerably more dangerous as it costs more HP than a Rocket Jump, but a Demoman who knows the map layout (particularly where the medkits are) can become the most mobile class in the entire game, being able to outpace even the Scout. In competitive circles, the true skill of a Demoman is oft-measured in not only how much damage he can deal, but also how quickly he can navigate the map.
Surprisingly, the Heavy becomes this trope in higher levels of play. The Heavy is oft looked down-upon among veteran players as a Skill Gate Character; dangerous against those who don't know how or when to retreat, but little more than a temporary damage sponge against competent players. The Heavy's massive 300HP and extremely powerful-at-short-range Minigun can easily fool the unaware into thinking that the Heavy is Nigh Invulnerable and requires More Dakka from the other team to bring down. In actuality, a Scout can three-shot the Heavy back to the respawn room, and that 200 ammo runs down very quickly. In addition, the Heavy's massive size and pitiful mobility means that any halfway decent Sniper or Spy can OHKO him while he's helpless to respond. In order to actually play the Heavy *well*, players must have extremely good awareness of the situation and their surroundings, keep a very keen eye on their health and ammo, and must have masterful positioning. Oftentimes the Heavy is referred to as a mobile Sentry Gun, and the positive and negative attributes are as applicable as the title; alone, stranded from teammates, and poorly positioned out in the open, the Heavy will go down extremely quickly, taking maybe one or two reckless players with him. When fully-buffed with teammates to clean up the damage being dealt and safe from backstabs/headshots/bombing Soldiers, the Heavy becomes a one-Russian death-dealing machine.
The Engineer can build stuff, sure, but if you have no idea exactly where and when to build your team will fail. But with a teleporter drastically improving team movements, a dispenser to keep them supplied and a sentry to provide fire support, a skilled Engy can (and often does) mean the difference between victory and defeat.
The Combat Medic style of play. Any newbie can pick Medic, look at whoever has the red cross speech bubble next to them and click, then jump around like a monkey dodging bullets. Learning how to use the Syringe Gun with its gravitated arc and limited range, along with the close-range Bonesaw, however, is something else entirely. The former has a higher DPSnote Damage Per Second than the Sniper's SMG or the Scout's Pistol, and the latter is one of the most powerful melee weapons in the game. A Medic who can alternate between fully healing an ally and fighting alongside them can utterly terrorize the enemy team.
The Kritzkrieg is an alternate Medigun that grants 100% of critical hits for a few seconds. However, both the Medic and patient are not invulnerable while the charge is being used, and as such requires some timing cooperation to fully utilize the potential. When done correctly a big portion of the enemy team will be dead in seconds.
The same difficulty is also in the Crusader's crossbow. It's much slower than the syringe gun, has to reload (quickly, but still has to reload) after a single shot, and can't really use it in panic. Once you learn how to aim the weapon, you have one of the most useful medic tools in the game. It does more damage with range, making it harder to aim, but if you have good aim and predictive abilities, you can not only down a sniper in one hit, but you can also heal an injured teammate half the map away because it heals when hitting allies. It might allow you to heal an otherwise dead Solider or Heavy enough to let him get back to safety from a heavy battle, or get a kill-shot in on an enemy.
The Vaccinator is very much this. Its healing and overheal amounts are rather normal, and it builds uber rather fast, but it overheals very slowly, and it has the quirk that you can switch between types of damage to defend against, healing you for any of that kind of damage that hits your patient, and defending 10% against it. Where it's truly hard, however, is the uber itself. It charges fast, but the normally 10 second charge is split up in four 2.5 second miniubers, and the actual charge provides 75% defense (the healing for matched damage still goes, mind you) and nullifies crits against that selected form of damage, but you cannot switch between them during the charge. A bad medic will basically be using a gimped stock medigun, but a skilled one can make both himself and his patient almost impossible to take down.
The Stock or "Uber" medigun has the most powerful uber in a head-on confrontation and can push further and in far more situations than any other, but it comes at the cost of having the slowest ubercharge rate. Good medics who can keep themselves constantly healing their team, rather than pocketing one person usually find themselves prefering the Uber for it's power while making up for it's speed.
Even the traditional support medic style of play has a deceptively high skill ceiling, especially when going into higher levels of play. The medic's disadvantage in combat means that most of the time he will need to avoid taking damage as much as possible. High level medics know how to possition themselves to avoid being flanked, juke opponents to allow their teammates a fraction of a second longer to kill a rushing enemy, and use enemy explosives to propel himself out of danger (known as "surfing"). In addition, a good medic needs to know how to wait until the optimal moment to pop his ubercharge that grants him and his heal target 8 seconds of invulnerability. This requires quick reflexes in order to block incoming burst damage before it kills the medic or his teammates. A medic that manages to stay alive constantly can help turn the tide at virtually any level of play.
The Spy is an incredibly finicky class that requires at least a decent knowledge of a map's layout and enemy movements to play even half-way competently, along with knowing when, where and how to use his Invisibility Cloak, disguise kit, and Back Stab. Unskilled players are easy prey, decent ones can be a frustrating annoyance, but a good Spy can absolutely terrorize any team and cripple any offense/defense they attempt. There's a reason a good chunk of the Meta Game revolves around finding and killing enemy Spies before they can wreak havoc.
Updates have made spies somewhat easier to play somewhat decently, but playing a really good spy is still made of this.
Of course, there's a bug that allows you to use both Force Choke AND Force Lightning at the same time. It's also impossibly easy to perform once you know how. Count Dooku can also do the exact same thing, with slightly better overall skillsets.
Riot Shield classes for multiplayer in Modern Warfare 2 are generally easy to kill when you spot them. However, in the hands of a skilled player, they're nigh-unkillable without either a teammate helping you, or a high explosives class.
For most part, the Throwing Knife is incredibly hard to use, especially on the consoles. However, if you manage to get the hang of it, it is extremely rewarding to kill players with it at close to medium range before they can manage to hose you down with bullets.
People usually expected a Riot Shield to rush forward to bash, or to stay back and continue deflecting bullets. Few expect the Riot Shield/Throwing Knife pairing. You have no crosshairs while using the shield, making this a difficult build, but if you keep your cool and aim carefully, you can catch an enemy off guard with a sudden Throwing Knife. Many players come to a dead stop when they see a Riot Shield, trying to shoot the bits of you that aren't covered. Others back straight away, all the time firing wildly. The clearer heads pull back and ready an explosive. In all these situations, a sudden toss can end the encounter. If you miss the toss, you can still bash, or even maneuver over to the dropped knife and go for another attempt.
Not a character per se, but the Shock Rifle in the Unreal series definitely counts. It shoots a weak laser beam, and a powerful-but-painfully-slow-moving energy ball. However, if you zap the energy ball with the laser, it causes out a huge explosion that pretty much instant-kills everyone in the vicinity. To make it even more difficult, the explosion costs about 5 shots. At absolute maximum (very rare unless you stay alive for a few minutes), the gun can hold 40 shots max. And the Shock Rifle's basic laser beam gives massive knockback, and can be used to push people off cliffs to their doom. The laser-plus-ball "Shock Combo" does the same thing. Plus the primary fire is an instant hit over any range with pinpoint accuracy, meaning that if anyone is trying to snipe you, it only requires a good eye to hit that person silhouetted against the sky and not only take a third of their life and throw out their aim, but possibly send them plummeting to their doom. The secondary can be spammed while running backwards to make a corridor of death to pursuers, and the combo is a wide area death sentence (especially in the original Unreal Tournament, where it had the biggest splash damage and was almost certainly a one hit kill).
The GES Bio-Rifle belongs here too. It shoots... balls of glowing green spooge. That arc to the floor. Almost useless in a gun duel, and fully charging it creates an splash of acid that will probably just kill their own owner if they don't know how to use it. In the right hands, a devastating rear-guard and ambush/assassination weapon, dealing 255 damage on a full charge in a game where default health is 100, plus careful aiming gives you a very powerful splash attack that can decimate entire teams (if the fully-charged shot hits the enemy, there won't be a splash, so the trick is to aim right next the opponent without actually hitting him). Lastly, its rapid-fire shot is fast and has surprisingly good knockback, making it a very useful tool to keep your opponent away.
The Impact Hammer/Shield Gun qualify as well. To get an idea, set up a bot to favour the hammer and make it insanely aggressive. Suddenly it goes from 'idiot bot' to 'crazed lunatic who kills you on contact' and it becomes a #1 priority to kill it.
Jones from Clive Barker's Jericho is this. Of the entire playable cast, his ability to possess enemies is the hardest to use in a fight, since he's left vulnerable while using it, and aiming it correctly can be difficult at long distances. However, once he's possessed an enemy, he can cast a variation of Church's BloodWard, which freezes enemies in place, and can do so using the enemies health. This makes fighting some of the tougher enemies, like Machinegunners less daunting.
All of the combat in Mirror's Edge. Faith's combat maneuvers are mostly notspelled out and difficult to master. Once you get her in hand, however, she becomes a grand-master ninja practitioner of Waif-Fu, literally running circles around the enemy.
Many of the so-called "special weapons" from Far Cry 3 count.
The flamethrower has a limited capacity tank, short range, and can end up doing more harm to the player if used carelessly. Video Game Flamethrowers Suck, right? Wrong. Using it in jungle and confined spaces is risky, but if you know what you're doing, it's one of the most deadly weapons available to you.
The recurve bow. It's silent, can use a variety of special arrows, kills most unarmoured humans and herbivores outright, and heavily damages armoured human enemies and carnivores. However, it has a limited ammunition capacity (unless you take the time to craft a nice big quiver) and slow rate of fire. The most niggling issue of all, however, is the fact that it, like the flamethrower, realistically avertsanother trope, meaning hitting any human-sized target over 50 metres away is a challenge, even with the reflex scope attachment.
The flare gun. Harmless to enemies, it can only serve as a distraction, or to set the environment on fire, which means like the flamethrower it can backfire against you spectacularly if mishandled. However, the fire can be used to kill a number of enemies standing in foliage, and keep enemies away from you. It also can instantly ignite any vehicle in the game, turning it into a crippled time bomb.
The Boltshot in Halo 4. This Forerunner pistol has average accuracy, and poor enough damage that you're practically always better off with your primary weapon. However, it has a charge feature which lets it effectively be used as a pocket Short Range Shotgun and one-shot kill enemies at close range, out-damaging almost every other weapon if you can get close enough in time and land the shot. The charge takes just under a second to build, and then can only be held for about another second before it fires automatically, so it requires precision timing as well as aiming; miss the first shot, and you'll be unlikely to get another as the weapon cools down and then charges again.
Borderlands 2 has Gaige and her Ordered Chaos skill tree. The tree is focused around the "Anarchy" skill, which raises her damage while lowering her accuracy anytime you gain a kill or empty your clip (and it drains very rapidly if you prematurely reload). The higher you stack the Anarchy skill, the more damage you do and the more inaccurate you become. It can eventually get to a point where bullets will actively try and break the laws of physics to avoid hitting anyone. While there are certain guns and abilities that can mitigate this somewhat, good luck trying to hit anyone at a certain level of stacks but anyone that does get hit will feel it (as in, you can kill the final boss in less than a minute with the right guns).
Similarly, there is also Krieg and his Mania skill tree, which is focused on melee damage and Critical Status Buffs. Several of his skills in said tree are not only focused on being in low health but also offer some disadvantages, such as instantly reviving teammates while putting yourself in Fight for Your Life mode, or a massive buff to melee damage that gives you a chance to hit yourself with your own melee attack. The idea of the tree is that Krieg will do the most damage when he is at near-death.
In BioShock 2, the Drill Specialist plasmid denies you use of any weapons except for the drill, but in return cuts the cost of using plasmids (the game's version of spells) in half. At that point in the game the player has access to plasmids that can turn security systems and other enemies to their side, and unleash streams of Fire, Ice, Lightningand Bees at a whim. While obviously requiring more thought than just filling everything with bullets (at least, until acquiring the "Summon Eleanor" plasmid), it is still entirely viable.
While most of of the weapons Killing Floor are rather straightforward in what they do and in their purpose, the M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle takes the cake for being a skill-gate weapon. As with all weapons under the Sharpshooter perk, it is most effective at its designated purpose, headshots, but in comparison to its alternatives the Lever-Action Rifle and the Crossbow, it deals less damage on headshots and does poor damage on body shots. Despite these two flaws, the M14 EBR packs an impressive magazine size of 20 with 7 spare magazines (whereas the LAR has 80 shots and reloads on a per bullet basis while the Crossbow only holds 36 bolts total), reloads the entire magazine, and has a semi-automatic rate of fire, which makes it ideal for making multiple headshots in a small time frame. In the higher difficulties, this makes the M14 EBR a solid choice in a Sharpshooter's arsenal as the Crossbow gets a damage nerf on certain targets, especially when considering the toughest non-boss creature in the game can go down with 10 well-placed headshots on the hardest difficulty with max (6) players. In the hands of a skilled Sharpshooter, they can take out a sizable chunk of the smaller enemies using only 1 to 2 headshots max and still have enough remaining bullets to deal with the bigger threats when necessary.
Alpha Centauri's Morganites have a natural +1 to Economy, giving them +1 energy production per base for free. While that's certainly nice to have (energy giving you money and research), it's pretty underwhelming compared to other factions. Add on a painful limitation on population limits (their bases can only reach size 4 without a pop-limit boosting facility, compared to 7 for the other factions; leaving you with slower creation of new facilities and units), and you have a faction that's profoundly weak in the early game on paper. Until you realize that their +1 Economy lets them prioritise Wealth as a societal value (as opposed to knowledge or power) to get them up to +2, which increases their energy bonus to +1 per square (translates to +21 per base), sending your research and income through the roof. Most factions have to run Free Market economics to get that, which comes with prohibitive Police and Planet penalties - industry crushing rioting and violent backlash from planet wildlife. Add in the fact that the pop-limit boosting facility is learned from the same tech as Wealth, and you get a faction that revels in Magikarp Power, and uses their hordes of cash to mind-control your units out from under you and sabotage your hard-built bases.
In Sword of the Stars the Morrigi have below-average population growth, terraforming ability and industrial capacity. Their ships are fast tactically but sluggish strategically, fragile, prohibitively expensive and barely above those of the Liir in turret placement. Their tech-tree, while one of the most inclusive in the game, favours 'trickery' tech like cloaking, shielding, mines, drones, AI, and short-ranged beam weapons, and they have one of the poorest natural research rates in the game. However, they have a 50% bonus income from trading compared to all other species; moreso when conducting foreign trade, and their fleets get faster the bigger they are. Mastering the Morrigi requires hefty use of trade, diplomacy and planning on a strategic level, and dedicated large-sized fleets using alternate ship sections instead of all-purpose battlefleets. A player who masters these aspects will turn the Morrigi into an economic powerhouse that can out-buy, out-tech and outwit most opponents by the end of the Fusion era.
The Zuul appear to be a Crutch Character at first glance; see that page for a rundown of their apparent advantages. However, they are closer to this, if taking a different approach to Morrigi Magikarp Power. Zuul players must subscribe to the blitzkrieg way of war, always on the Attack! Attack! Attack!, keeping enemies on the defensive and pushing ever forward. Being unable to avoid overharvesting means their planets "burn out" comparatively fast, and taking slaves is something of a compensation for not being able to use trade or having civilians to bolster their income. Their strategic speed comes at the cost of having a limited number of connections to each system. Their research speed is also the worst. All this forces the Zuul player to aim for quick victory, for he who loses momentum and lets the enemies build up to antimatter and/or dreadnoughts is Doing It Wrong and defeat will come soon. However, if you know how to carry out this aggressive playstyle, you can win games comparatively quickly.
The Loa, introduced in the sequel's End of Flesh expansion, use drastically different strategic mechanics from the other races released before them. Their spacecraft are formed from "cubes" rather than manually built at colonies. Their population growth is affected by solar activity and the remaining biosphere, which the other races need not worry about, and is inversely proportional to tax rate (so more money gain equals less population growth). They cannot build police cutters to defend their trading freighters, making them highly vulnerable to pirates. Going into debt freezes their production, research and population growth. They do not gain access to the cybernetics and psionics trees and very little biological tree access. However, if you can wrap your head around them, you get a very powerful faction: They have the most 100% chances for techs, get the research-boosting Artificial Intelligence tech for free, all their command sections count as AI Command sections with the firepower and agility that implies, the cube system gives them unsurpassed flexibility of fleet composition and their spacecraft are Lightning Bruisers with the durability of Hivers, the guns of Zuul and acceleration and speed no organic faction can match.
During the Burning Crusade expansion in World of Warcraft, Affliction Warlocks were generally seen like this in PvE. On top of the normal Shadow Bolt spam, you also had to keep up five different dots, most of which had different lengths and cast times and generally required at least a dot timer for maximum efficiency. Many Warlocks complained it was too complicated and went for the easier and almost as effective (until late BT where Destro just outscaled Affliction and was probably overpowered) Destruction tree. If you could play it right, topping damage was incredibly simple even in mediocre gear.
In Wrath of the Lich King, they were simplified by merging two of these and making another one more powerful but exclusive with a 4th one, effectively cutting the spec down to three over time spells, one of which is refreshed by other spells. They are still one of the more demanding specs in that regard (on par with Shadow Priests and Subtlety Rogues), but in fact most specs are now fairly difficult to play at their maximum potential. The main difference is that these examples have a terrible output if played wrongly. By contrast, Beast Mastery Hunters deal most of their damage automatically and many of their management inputs have fairly little impact on it (apart from keeping their pet alive).
Subtlety Rogues have taken that role recently. Although their basic combat style is rather simple, they have a lot of cooldowns and other factors to manage. One of their most defining traits is the ability to generate combo points based on critical strikes performed by other group members, which is every bit as random as it sounds. And even under best circumstances, they don't deal a lot of damage themselves but increase the damage other melee combatants deal. In general, they are still considered to be weaker than their easier alternatives.
The true kings of this, at the moment, are Feral (cat) Druids: while people who haven't mastered it do mediocre damage compared to other characters or builds, in the hands of a master they theoretically have the highest damage potential, to the point where the developers have come right out and said that Feral is the one class they are afraid to make any real changes to. Any nerfs to their ability would make anyone who hasn't mastered the class useless in terms of performance, while any buffs for the lower skilled people (to make the class less difficult) would turn those who have already mastered it into potential Game Breakers.
Death Knight DPS'ers had some of the hardest spell/ability rotations in the game, so much so that Blizzard had to change how the class's resource mechanics work in Cataclysm just to make them easier and require less precision button mashing. To clarify, DKs have to manage 6 runes (3 kinds, 2 of each) that regenerate every 10 seconds, their Runic Power meter that increases when you use abilities and needs to be emptied or you will be losing DPS, and 2 damage over time effects that need to be refreshed because they increase the damage of your strikes. In addition, their attacks have a global cooldown that prevents them from using any attack for a second and a half giving you a small (less than a second) window to use what ever attack is in your incredibly complex rotation or you will lose DPS and get messed up.
Although many have complained of the new method. It relies heavily on Runic Empowerment, which gives a 45% chance for some of your Runic Power abilities to activate a depleted rune at random. Which means that you unexpectedly gain the ability to use one of your resources, which depending on what runes you have active already might be combined with another rune to cast a different spell, or might not, and just makes their rotation even more chaotic. However at least part of this might simply be because people aren't used to the system.
Enhancement Shaman have a rather interesting dilemma when compared to other classes. They are a class with low defense, aggro dropping and status-impairment breaking effects that do most of their damage with a combination of melee and spells. In other words they are a Glass Cannon that can beat out most non-tanks in terms of the aggro they get. While they do have sub-par DPS even in the hands of an expert player, they are one of the greatest support classes there is. Of course, when the Spirit Wolves are off cooldown it isn't so much "support" as "TEAR ITS FUCKING HEAD OFF"...
Given how many cooldowns the average Enhancement shaman has to take care of, it's damn near literally impossible to play the class effectively without some mod to keep track of all them. And THAT is on top of how many raw button presses the class has to do because you'll be hitting a button every 1.5 seconds no matter what is on or off cooldown. If you like getting carpal tunnel, Enhancement Shaman is the class for you!
Brewmaster Monks are generally considered to be the most difficult tanks to play, and it's not hard to see why. They wear the second-squishiest armor in the game (and unlike Guardian Druids, don't have Voluntary Shapeshifting to raise their armor value to the level of plate wearers), they can't use shields, and they have tend to have fairly little Parry and Dodge, so they don't have much access to the passive avoidance and mitigation that conventional tanks like Warriors and Paladins rely on. However, Brewmasters that properly understand, track, and use the defensive mechanics that they do have are tough to put down, and can use moves like Avert Harm and Zen Meditation to protect their party from damage that most other tanks can't.
Generally being a very generous term, Brewmasters having many and very powerful mechanics to avoid damage outright as well as being able to react to spike damage instead of proactively putting out his defenses.
Protection Paladins are often held as the hardest tanks, thanks to their lack of powerful defenses. However, played properly, the Paladins are the only tank that can take nearly as many hits from supposed "instant kill" mechanics as they do, with up to 5 full returns from near death if timed properly, juggling these with timing your defense's cooldown, which has the lowest uptime, being the slowest to build up and shortest in duration to the boss's autoattacks. Prot is very unforgiving, but extremely powerful.
In Player Versus Player, Retribution Paladins are the absolute hardest class to play, having a comparably small set of abilities, being the only melee class with no way to close the gap other than just running at their target, and they have to keep an eye on both their allies and their enemy's health bars. However, a Ret Pally is the absolute crux on which a 3-dps or 2-dps team in Arenas is based on, other groups being jokes at best, Ret Paladin and two other dps with burst? Quite capable of fighting evenly with groups that have healers if the Ret can keep juggling all the roles he has.
In Ace Online, three of four classes seem attractive from the get-go. The B-Gear is a bomber; using the right type of advanced weapon, it can blow most opponents apart in one shot. The A-Gear is the literal tank; it uses its unrollable cannons to do massive DPS. The I-Gear is the fighter; aim, fire, do acrobats and survive. The M-Gear, however, is... a healer. Unlike the rest of the class, the M-Gear has the innate disability of having a low stat growth for attack which makes leveling it very difficult. However, with the right skills (M-Gear is the most micromanagement intensive class in the game), stats and equipments, the M-Gear can wreak absolute havoc by the virtue of its naturally high defense that can hold its own against literally an entire nation, sapping them of firepower trying to kill a virtually unkillable character while others move in for the kill. Of course, there are less strenuous ways to play the M-Gear such as being a buffslave or healbot, but it's the players who can master its intricacies who gain a lot of respect.
In some ways, the I-Gear as well. The B-Gear's an undisputed Lightning Bruiser, the A-Gear possesses pure DPS-dishing and while the M-Gear is still the hardest to master, it is still possess an unparalleled maneuverability at point-blank ranges coupled with nifty healing powers. Unlike the others, the I-Gear has no flashy gimmicks and while it does make it easy to get used to, it gets harder and harder to keep up at higher levels, much less master it. The choice is either make it an offensive class and risk dying lots due to its low defense (innate) and low evasion (due to build), or make it survival evasion build by trading its ability to kill, which are neither cost-effective nor foolproof. However the recent episode 3-2 update gives a major boon to I-Gears which somewhat alleviates this problem.
Many builds exist where a player can make their character nigh-immortal with a mixture of specialized abilities. These include monks with half the health of starting characters, assassins who can act as a tank, and elementalists who use their enemy's attacks to heal themselves and damage their attackers. Even a slight slip-up in timing with the skills can be fatal.
The sequel gives us the Elementalist. While they're generally serviceable, they truly shine with the effective use of a dagger/dagger build. With precision timing, and if you can figure out skill chains with the class’s attunement feature (which involves juggling four sets of weapon skills), a D/D Elementalist is destruction incarnate, slaughtering foes in frontline combat with efficiency that would put a seasoned Warrior to shame. Have we mentioned this is a class that uses light armour and isn't usually suited for melee?
Wardens wearing medium armour, using complicated long combined skill lists, are extremely capable tanks in the hands of the right player.
As of the Rohan expansion, Mounted Combat. Your warhorse steers like a boat. The first few times you try it, it's pretty much guaranteed you're going to wind up with aggro from the half-dozen or so closest mobs to your intended target, because you keep wandering into their detection radius inadvertently. However, it's not uncommon for a character that normally hits for a thousand or so damage to be hitting for 4000 when mounted, so once you're competent it's extremely useful. (It helps that you can get control upgrades from leveling your mount so that it's less "sailboat" and more "motorboat".)
Lore-Masters. They start off squishy, use only light armour, take many hours of practice to become competent at solo combat, but a genuinely skilled LM can stand toe-to-toe with even the most expert of Wardens with a robe and a stick.
World of Tanks Light tanks in general tend to be this, owing to their low hp and armor. But special mention has to go to the ELC AMX. Its very fast, has an extremely low profile that makes it difficult hit, and has a cannon that wouldn't be out of place on a tank 2 tiers higher. Too bad that it has no turret, its hp pool is so low that it often gets killed in 2-3 hits, the view and radio ranges are terrible, and the gun is very slow firing and aiming, so sniping is out of the question unless you KNOW you're concealed. Adding to its Fragile Speedster status is the fact that it can hurt itself going over bumps most tanks wouldn't even notice are there. However, if you can mitigate all these, then you have a tank that's capable of speeding around the map, punching very large holes in the side of tanks, and being so low to the ground that they can't aim far enough down to hit you. Much trolling and sheer crazy random things have been done with these little beasts, enough to be considered a Lethal Joke Character ... assuming a newbie isn't behind the wheel and just drives straight for the enemy base.
Jedi Shadow or Sith Assassin tanks from Star Wars: The Old Republic. Jedi Consulars, in-lore, are GlassCannons relying heavily on diplomacy to keep them out of fights and Force-based attacks if diplomacy fails. Sith Assassins rely on stealth, hitting the target hard, and running away before they're caught. A Shadow or Assassin tank subverts this. They are the "squishiest" of the tank classes, relying heavily on their shields to mitigate damage, or stealth and speed to extract them if they bite off more than they can chew. However, they can hold aggro on multiple opponents easier than Vanguard Troopers / Powertech Bounty Hunters or Juggernauts / Jedi Guardians, and do almost as much damage as a designated DPS.
The Jet, Ninja, and Suplex abilities in Kirby Super Star. Jet's abilities revolve around an awkward charge up time, Suplex requires you to grab an enemy first, and Ninja has a bunch of close range attacks. However, all three have throwing moves. Due to the mechanics of a Kirby game, a boss might take several dozen hits from a normal ability, but only need a couple from the stock inhale-spit out combo that you default to without an ability. Throws use this damage formula while being massively easier to hit with, and in the cast of these three abilities, each one can hit multiple times in one move. Jet, especially, where its fully charged throw will cover the entire screen, is capable of one and two hit killing most things in the game. Suplex and Ninja aren't far behind. But damn the deaths you will take from screwing up the motions for the moves before you master it.
Super Mario Bros.' Luigi is this when he is the Lightning Bruiser to Mario's Jack of All Stats. He has the same strength, the same power-ups, but runs faster and jumps higher. However, his traction is lacking so stopping him is a bit like stopping on ice.
In Super Mario 3D World, Toad has a low jump and falls quickly. Pretty big liabilities for a platform game, but he's the fastest runner, allowing him to blur past stages like no one else (and also partially compensates for his jump, length-wise). Not only needful for time trials, his snappy physics make him funner to play as... if you're comfortable with his short jump.
In Super Mario World, parachute-gliding with the cape (i.e., when Mario stops flying and holds the cape so it expands). With the right timing, it's possible to fly forever, Mario is practically invincible (most hits revert Mario to the "not parachute-gliding" state, you can immediately glide normally), and strangely enough, may kill things that are impervious (such as those really Big Boos in the Ghost Houses).
Classic Rule in Tetris The Grand Master 3. Its "firm drop"note a type of hard drop in which the piece drops, but doesn't lock, allowing you to still move the piece. Standard hard drop locks the piece immediately. has a bit of a learning curve, and you can't climb over pieces like in World Rule, but once mastered it's actually less annoying to use than World Rule due to its far simpler piece kicks, and the firm drop lets you take care of overhangs like they're nothing.
In a game like Meteos, where different planets have different physics, there are bound to be a few of these. One of them is Planet Meteo itself. In each game it's been in, it has the maximum number of different Meteo types (colors) possible. In the original DS game, the colors were random. In Meteos Wars, they are the 7 rarest colors in the game. This, combined with Meteo having the widest playfield in the game, demands total focus on the player to even survive. What makes Meteo potent is that garbage blocks sent to opponents will eventually be restored—in the colors of the planet they came from. Since opponents have to deal with Meteo's colors on top of their own planets' colors, Meteo is very capable of winning by overwhelming anyone else (and often force them into Unwinnable situations, as they could have up to all 12 Meteo types scattered about).
Brabbit is also Difficult, But Awesome, but for a very different reason, at least in the original DS game. As long as a column has at least one burnt Meteos block and is in midair, it does not count towards Annihilation (a loss by letting the blocks reach the top). Brabbit, due to its slow, floaty physics, is the one planet most capable of doing this simultaneously for all of its columns, rendering it invulnerable until the player runs out of matches or makes a mistake. However, the same floaty nature makes it unwieldy for anyone not used to it, since if you don't play carefully, you may accidentally fill up some columns while waiting for the other ones. Meteos Wars cuts Brabbit down to size with its new Planet Impacts mechanic, all of which kill Brabbit's momentum and tempo in one way or another.
The reverse happened to Hevendor: It was perfectly usable in the original game but becomes this in Meteos Wars. Hevendor is the single lowest-scoring planet in the game. Meteos Wars added a timer that counts down from 3 minutes, and if no planet is Annihilated within that time, the game determines a winner by score. Hevendor is not going to win any matches in this way (unless there is a massive skill gap or the opponent is very unlucky) and must resort to Annihilation, which is itself pretty unlikely unless the Hevendor player can match blocks quickly enough to build up the garbage block meter to flood the opponent with. If a Hevendor player is anywhere short of blazing fast, the opponent will just get a trickle of easily-countered small batches of garbage blocks and easily survive the 3 minutes.
Wuud has problems clearing Meteos blocks, let alone clearing the screen, but it has the only truly infinite combo in the game. To win by score in Meteos Wars as Wuud, one must play flawlessly the entire 3 minutes with one long combo that lasts that long.
Gelyer has intense gravity, meaning any ignitions created through matching blocks are weak and fall back down quickly. However, every third ignition in a combo will clear any associated blocks. This requires precision planning if one wants to clear the whole screen, which nets a fat point bonus (crucial if you want to win by score). In addition, Gelyer's Planet Impact meter builds the fastest of any planet with the "Armageddon" Planet Impact. Skillful use of Gelyer will result in frequent and repeated Armageddon attacks which will eventually crowd out the opponent's screen and hinder them greatly.
Hanihula, on the other hand, has normal gravity but extremely weak ignitions. An inexperienced player would have problems getting Hanihula to do, well, anything. A great Hanihula player, by contrast, will use said weak ignitions to create huge score multipliers (as they increase each time the same cluster ignites). Hanihula is the single highest-scoring planet in the series, at least within the three-minute time frame of Meteos Wars, where it debuted.note A perfectly played Wuud can defeat Hanihula, but this is so excruciatingly difficult, even for veteran players, that Hanihula is more likely to win anyway.
In Puzzle And Dragons, certain creatures have extremely powerful Leader-skills that are reliant on the player's skill at the core match-3 gameplay. While other leaders might provide a flat multiplier to particular elements or types of monsters, these will instead grant you multipliers based on the size of your combo, or the number of different elements used in one combo, or even the use of specific elements. The Egyptian Gods and the Chinese Celestials are primarily known for this, with the toughest commonly-used 'high-skill' leader being Sakuya the Kirin, whose 'Dance of the Four Origins' provides a hefty 5X attack-multiplier if you can match 4 specific elements in a single combo. Since multipliers of the same kind stack geometrically, that means that using two Sakuyas as leaders will provide a monumental 25X attack.
The true king of the 'Difficult but Awesome' category, however, is Anubis - his 'Roar of the Hell-Jackal' skill grants an insane 10X multiplier (which, of course, can be turned into a sickening 100X multiplier if you're using two of him) - but only if you manage to get a 10-hit combo, which is basically impossible to do on purpose, and extremely rare to see just by luck unless you're in one of the 'special' dungeons where a smaller number of colors makes matches easier. Hence, seriously using him requires both extreme skill and quite a bit of luck... but if you DO manage it, you can utterly annihilate anything the game throws at you.
Real Time Strategy
Dawn of War, much like its source material, has the Eldar and Dark Eldar, who require micro management and specific match ups, and while the Imperial Guard can easily crush all enemies with a properly built army, you can't just build a crap tonne of regular troops and steam roll the map like the Space Marines and Necrons.
Cyrus in Dawn of War II is a very micro intensive character, but with proper tactics, wargear and skill allocation can make most boss fights (even the Avatar) a joke, and can clear entire maps single-handedly (albeit obviously requiring a lot of time).
The Tyranids in II, despite being a Zerg Rush faction in the lore and tabletop. Their ranged weapons work very differently to those of other factions, and the various synapse mechanics are either devastating or useless depending on how its used.
Many of the micromanagement-requiring units in Starcraft series (especially spellcasters) fall for this category.
The Terran Ghost can truly (but rarely) stand out with this trope, if one has the luxury of being able to research Lockdown (mechanical unit stun) for them. To clarify, the Ghost is a very tiny, hard to select unit on the game screen and if multiple ghosts are selected the game engine does not make it possible to normally cast only one Lockdown at a time (wasting mana on one target), but with a technique where one has good distance from the enemy and tells the Ghosts to cast lockdown on one Mechanical unit then deselects one of the ghosts, and then casts Lockdown on another unit, repeating this DESELECT-CAST, a group expensive units such as Battlecruisers or Carriers can be rendered helpless to the Terran's main army without a proper counter to that army. Bonus Crowning Moment Of Awesome if one can manage to drop a Nuclear Missile on the group of units.
A just as impressive and difficult use of the Terran Ghost: You can prevent a Protoss player from teleporting a significant portion of their army into your relatively undefended base by paying close attention and hitting the teleporting Arbiter unit with a Lockdown before the teleport can be cast.
For newbies, the Protoss (heavy units that mostly don't need much looking after, and devastating area of effect spells) and Zerg (swarms of light units that don't particularly need to survive, and - playing at low levels - no spell-casters to look after unless you're showing off) are much easier than the Terrans with their Fragile Speedster characteristic and intensive control requirements. But for mid-level play and up, it turned out that Terran, played by players with the skill to master the race, were very nearly dominant for the majority of Brood War's lifespan as a major professional game. note Professional players regularly predicted that in the hands of a perfect player, the Zerg would in fact prove most dangerous. Whether this was born out by the final years of the Korean competitive scene at its highest level (before the final resurgence of some "older" stars), and the continuing semi-pro scene where Zerg are dominant, is of course a fascinating fanboy debate.
Many heroes in Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars are like this. Perhaps the strongest example is the Invoker, the hero with the most spells by far, but also the one who has to memorise come combos to "invoke" the spell he needs. To top it off, his skills don't even look particularly impressive written down, but in the hands of an expert, an Invoker can completely turn the tides of a battle.
Visage is another one of these. While the hero himself is fairly intuitive as long as you're aware of your manapool, his ultimate defines both him and his difficulty. The familiars he summons are flying and fairly fast, in addition to attacking very hard and very quickly. The catch is that they're very fragile, give a huge 100 gold if killed and their attack damage fades with every attack down to a pathetic 10 a hit. The best way to reset their damage and heal them is Stone Form, which makes them invulnerable, immobile and stuns around their landing area, but has a delay before the invulnerability, and another before the stun. Managing both Visage's low cooldowns, need to be in the thick of battle and the familiars at the same time is fairly daunting. He also has enormous damage potential, a very strong early game and huge amounts of damage block for the first few attacks he takes.
Templar Assassin deals retarded ammounts of damage while her magic shield protects her from incoming damage, has an attack that deals even more damage which also goes throught armor (literally), she can also hit several targets with a single attack and everything is done with the "basic" attack, which means she laughs in the face of magic inmunity. Not only that, "warding" is an important part of the game, specially for heroes with roles similar to her, but she has her own build-in ward that gives her vision of important spots on the map (One of the most important ones, Roshan's pit, can't be spied on with the regular wards, making her superior in this specific scenario), good luck playing the hero efficiently.
Meepo is another prime example. With horrible stats and a bad attack animation, at first he seems like a Joke Character. But his ultimate creates multiple permanent clones of him that are for the most part identical, and if one clone dies, they all die (including the original). But all the clones can gain exp on their own, meaning a well-micro'd Meepo can gain experience much faster than anyone else, assuming the Meepo player can control up to 6 different heros at once.
Many of the heroes considered 'pubstompers' or restricted to 'early game' can still be devastating in the late game and at higher skill levels provided the team coordinates enough to buff them up until they are far ahead or the player has a flawless command of their abilities. Good examples are Riki who is supposedly negated by basic warding and the Spirit Breaker who is shut down by decent team coordination but have been used in a commanding manner by pros in tournaments.
One of the hardest gankers in the game is Pudge, who relies on Cast From Hitpoints damage, lategame based heavily on success as an ganker to become the most durable hero in the game, his ganking is centered around what might be the sole most difficult skillshot Meat Hook, which can snag not only on enemies, but also on allies. He then has to rot and dismember them, dealing massive spikes of damage that can kill an enemy outright, but burns his health and gives his location away while he's going at it. It's telling that the Signature Hero of Na'vi's Dendi, widely considered to be the best player period is Pudge.
Mirana. She's a Glass Cannon that requires an absurd amount of farm to become even a reasonably effective right-click carry and relies almost entirely on items for durability, but if you can get the hang of Sacred Arrow (a skillshot that increases in damage and stun duration depending on how far away the target is from the cast point out to a ridiculously long five-second stun) and coordinate follow-up with your team effectively she will win fights for you.
Initiators in general tend to be highly difficult, not because of complex mechanics but because of the sheer scale of what they have to do. Each Team's initator is the one starting teamfights, and a bad initation can easily backfire and lead to dead allies, but doing so properly can net nearly 1000 gold for everyone in the team in a few seconds, take as much from the enemy, and leave them open for a quick push. Being too cautious however isn't a good choice when you're the team's point man and usually calls when fights start, letting the enemy get too much farm and push down towers is just as bad.
Heroes of Newerth has its own fair share of "don't pick this unless you are 100% sure what you're doing" heroes.
Silhouette has fantastic mobility and damage, being both a great Fragile Speedster and Glass Cannon at the same time! The catch? She dies to a misplaced sneeze, and excluding her E ability which passively buffs her regular attacks, every single ability is VERY reliant on positioning and requires her to be in the thick of battle, somewhere where a glass cannon does NOT want to be. Combined with her subpar attack range after her remake, if you don't kill the enemy before they recover from stuns and get caught in a bad position, prepare to die after eating one nuke to the face.
Devourer is normally a tank who would normally have an extremely difficult time actually getting into a battle. How does he solve this problem? ''Guttling Hook.'' It pulls the enemy to Devourer, dealing MASSIVE damage if it hits and having MASSIVE range on top of it. But this skill is VERY hard to land, even if you're a professional. And if you miss, you're basically a useless pile of flesh until the skill comes off cooldown again.
Ophelia is by far the most unpopular hero in the public community, simply because she requires you to micro multiple units at once, a skill that takes a great amount of time to truly master, and is otherwise absent in the genre. But once you do, Ophelia becomes a high-tier at worst, god-tier at best hero. Since most neutral creeps that she uses for her army have some sort of special ability, Ophelia is by far the most versatile hero in the game. On top of that, her creeps enable her to push towers extremely well, gank her sidelane endangering her own fragile self or her farm, stack MORE neutral camps to farm, and solo Kongor extremely early. Oh, and did I mention her ultimate is a global heal, which alone would probably make her a mid-tier hero?
An equally unpopular pub hero as Ophelia is Tremble. His main catch is being able to spawn Terror Mounds around the map, which can be used to teleport between each mound, so if he's allowed to roam the map, he can place mounds in vital locations, making his a potential threat anywhere in the map. His passive gives him a massive slow, making running away from him incredibly hard, and he's got his trusty companion Boris, who's like a mini-Tremble but with a skill that roots a single target. While all this makes him a potent ganker and pusher, he requires proper micro with Boris to set up mounds or use him to farm other areas and he needs to win his lane in order to steamroll through mid-game.
Tempest and his DotA equivalent Enigma have their ultimates Elemental Void/Black Hole respectively, spells with an UNGODLY long cooldown and high manacost to go along with it. This spell is a channeled AoE disable that also pulls the enemy team in. A good Tempest can and will catch an entire enemy team in it, practially winning the teamfight all by himself. But you HAVE to catch the entire enemy team in it, or any heroes that weren't caught will likely stun you, interrupting the ability. (something at least 90% of the roster is capable of doing). And if the enemy breaks out of your ultimate, at best you've lost the teamfight, at worst the entire game! Like Devourer, your success or failure with these heroes relies almost exclusively on your ability to land this skill well.
Monkey King used to be a popular pubstomper, but after being nerfed he's far less omnipresent than he used to be. But it's not that he's been reduced to a bad, underpowered hero, it's just that it's no longer as easy to burst down a hero as he did before. Despite a significant mana cost increase and burst damage decrease, with the right player who can properly combo his skills and position themselves right, he can just as easily destroy a hero while being very hard to pin down.
Anivia in League of Legends has historically always been this. Most obviously a burst caster, Anivia suffered in comparison to other burst mages. Due to her comboriffic nature and her reliance on aiming and timing she was very unpopular due to her difficulty, when for a fraction of the effort required you could easily achieve the same damage on, say, Annie. Then recently she was picked in the finals of a high-profile game tournament, by one of the best players in the game. Wreckage ensued.
Orianna is a newer example of this trope. Not only do you have to control Orianna herself, but her magnetic ball as well, which gets flung all around the battlefield by her abilities. If you can learn to position not only yourself, but your ball, know when to hit enemies with what abilities, when to autoattack to use her passive, and how to build her, then you can master one of the most useful and versatile casters out there.
Ezrael, just Ezrael. Most champions have one or two projectile abilities that require target prediction and leading, if at all. He has three, and his remaining ability is easily his weakest. Gets even more difficult if building Ability Power and thereby much more reliant on his skillshot abilities. Bad players will find themselves rarely hitting and becoming a wasted slot in their team, at best. Good ones can punish single targets with an unbelievable amount of damage in a short period of time and become absolute terrors. Think you're safe on the other side of map? WRONG. His ultimate can and will hit you from afar and go through multiple targets to do so. Some of the most impressive plays come from Ezrael blasting someone from an improbable distance and/or getting multiple kills due to the projectile's piercing nature. "It's all skill!" indeed...
The latest instance of this would be Draven, whose boastful, showy personality belies his potential. For a carry, he has relatively low base attack stats. His steroid ability increases his movement and attack speed, but has a horribly low duration and long cooldown; his Spinning Axe ability makes his next attack much stronger, but has a decent cooldown and doesn't reset his attack animation like most. However, when a Spinning Axe lands, it ricochets into the air back towards Draven, giving the player about a second to react to it and move to catch it, which can be next to impossible during teamfights where proper positioning is vital. If they succeed, his next attack automatically becomes another high-damage Spinning Axe, free of cost, and the cooldown of his steroid ability is set to zero. Oh, and you can activate Spinning Axe a second time to have two going at once. A skilled player can constantly catch their axes, letting them spam their attack speed steroid over and over, throwing nothing but double damage attacks and tearing everything to shreds.
Some champions have a mechanic that demands that the player get as close as possible to death to exploit most of their prowess: Tryndamere and Olaf. These two are extremely deadly the lower their HP is, with Olaf gaining more attack speed and life steal with each lost HP, and Tryndamere gaining attack damage and critical hit chances with each lost HP. When their ultimate activates, they became even more dangerous: Tryndamere outright becomes unable to die for a few seconds, letting him take advantage of his 'low HP advantage' traits the most, while Olaf becomes outright impossible to be stunned, slowed, or impeded and gains a lot of attack damage at cost of his previous defense and resistance bonuses. Their catch is the very fact that they're most useful when near dead was that by the hands of an unskilled player, they tend to either unleash those ultimates too early to make use of the advantages of the near-death situation, or they die first before they take advantage of that. Thus, they have a very high chance to turn these champions into food for enemy champions rather than feeding on enemy champions like breakfast.
For gameplay roles, jungling (killing neutral creeps instead of laning) can be this. Overall one of the most demanding tasks since it requires both a good knowledge of both team's jungles and constant awareness of the entire map, especially if there's a risk of getting counter-jungled. Successfully ambushing is also a tough task and good teams will be extra wary the moment they see an enemy champion with Smite in the loading screen. It DOES allow for minion experience to be spread out better among the remaining four champions, particularly the one that gets a lane to him/herself, and gets the jungler ridiculously fed when done correctly. It's not for nothing that competitive teams invariably field one.
The British are very slow to get going, with very expensive starting units which move extremely slowly outside their own territory. They also have a bizarre tech-tree that is unlike that of any other faction (not to mention their veterancy system). However, once a player learns to fight their urge to expand rapidly and instead build a solid defensive line quickly, the British can become nigh-invincible - vulnerable only to heavy artillery.
The Panzer Elite have a wide variety of light, fast vehicles which will not survive long in any fight. Many are completely unarmed! Even experienced players can end up producing and losing a lot of vehicles by the time they get a grip on the situation. On the other hand, expert Panzer Elite players can win the game extremely early on with rapid and relentless assaults all over the battlefield.
Age of Empires II has the Goths, who have crappy cavalry, almost non-existent defenses, and very limited healing/conversion abilities. They also have one of the strongest economies in the game, and some of the strongest infantry, meaning that they can easily take out an enemy before said enemy is even able to defend themselves, while end-game advantages give the Goths a higher population limit than anyone else and the ability to produce infantry (including special infantry) at a ridiculously fast pace. Then factor in infantry bonuses against buildings and you have a quickly reforming swarm of locusts that can strip any town to the bone in minutes.
Viron assault pods from Ground Control 2. You think dropping five basic soldiers to any place on map is useful? Wrong! In campaign, you will use only at recommended missions and generally like suicide attack to destroy single important structure. Then you get to skirmish. Because of layout of maps, AI players especially like to move their forces into centre of the map and contest Victory Locations. This means you can drop pods on their unguarded Landing Zones and then finish game by tearing them apart from both sides
Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun, even when playing as Prussia, the historical forming state of Germany, doing so is not easy. But a true power-hungry leader strives to form Greater Germany, which is Historical Imperial Germany + Austria (or Austro-Hungary, depending on circumstances), which is no small picnic either, and arguably even more difficult, given that both Austria and Prussia start the game as Great Powers, thus one of both must be reduced to Secondary Powers in order to gain rights to their lands. So why bother? Because Germany, and Greater Germany even more so, is a Manpower and Industrial beast, capable of fielding larger armies and producing more materials (thus generating monstrous wealth) than a Westernized China, Japan, and even Great Brittan.
In Pikmin, C Stick Throwing. In the Gamecube version of the game by rotating the C-Stick so the Pikmin all bunch around Olimar and rapidly mashing A, you can throw Pikmin a lot faster than normal. It is very difficult to learn to the point of being able to use it effectively. But when you do you can collect the ship parts much faster and defeat even the toughest enemies really quickly.
Some of the factions in various Total War games essentially have this as their schtick.
In Total War Shogun 2, you have the Otomo. Being Christians, everyone in Japan hates their guts, and will try to murder you from the get-go. However, they start with access to matchlock infantry, which are a little finickity at times but are capable of countering any unit type and mow down units at a rate that archers couldn't even dream of. Provided you can hold out long enough, you also get easy access to Nanban trade ships, which pack plenty of cannon and can take on anything short of the Black Ship (which is a bigger Nanban trade ship). As if this wasn't enough, their matchlock ashigaru and samurai are much more skilled than those of the other factions, meaning you can essentially ditch bows entirely (save for one or two units to shoot over walls) once you have matchlock ashigaru.
Not a character, but a skill in Guitar Hero and Rock Band guitar: tapping. You have to take your right hand off the strum bar and bring it up to the fret buttons, hitting the buttons with your strumming hand. It seems like a stupid move, since if you miss, it breaks your combo and you have to strum to get it going again (except in certain sections in some Guitar Hero games), but it is one of the most important skills for a top player to learn. Why? Adding in another hand allows for much faster fretting and makes complicated sections easier to hit. It's probably also the hardest skill in the game to master, due to the low margin of error between hitting a section and almost failing out of it.
Tapping is easier to pull off on a Rock Band guitar (due to the second set of frets lower down the neck), and much easier in Rock Band solos (tapping on the smaller frets during solos does not require strumming). The two sets of frets can be also operated simultaneously, which is occasionally useful (some "solos" are actually duets, with two guitars playing in harmony reduced to one track within the game) but always awesome.
Squeezing is also this. To "squeeze" means to deploy Star Power/Overdrive right at the edge of a note's viable hit box and then hitting the note, allowing you to sneak an extra note in under your score-doubling power. This is challenging because if you're too slow with the subsequent hit, you flubbed your full combo but if you activate too soon, then the tail end of your score double-up will be lost, nullifying the effect of the squeeze. It must be perfect, but doing so will net you the necessary points to climb to the tippy-top of the scoreboards.
Dance Dance Revolution in the higher difficulty levels requires pattern recognition for two deceptively easy moves: the crossover and spinning. A crossover is a pattern of left, up/down, right, up/down, left (or vice versa). A spin is a clockwise/counter-clockwise pattern of the arrows. Crossovers are easy to pull off, since you can always face the screen. Spinning however, unless you know the note setup, will require you to do a full 360, and is the harder of the two to do. These are very easy to do in a slow, easy to medium level song, but pick up the pace and it gets very hard.
For example, Candy requires knowing when to spin. Candy's difficulty ramps up a notch unless you can spin, and trying to do them without spinning is awkward to the note setup.
Under the Sky will deplete the life bar of any player who isn't even familiar with the crossover move. It's rated at 6 feet, which most intermediate players should pass, but the last third of the song is a barrage of crossover steps (it does do Fore Shadowing in the middle).
If one wants to remotely pass the level 7+ songs in beatmania, manipulation of the turntable without using an entire hand is needed. Normally two methods are employed: using the pinky or the wrist.
On a similar note, using individual fingers to hit pop'n music's large, colorful buttons. Not the most comfortable thing in the world, but you can hit more buttons this way.
Frequency and Amplitude both provide two alternate control sets, one using L1-R1-R2, and the other using Square-Triangle-Circle. Most players pick one or the other (or a hybrid of the two, such as L1-R1-Circle). At higher levels, however, it becomes useful and eventually necessary to start using both sets at once.
Dwarf Fortress is practically built out of this trope. The entire game has a steep learning curve, but oh the things you can pull off when you get the hang of it...
Mindcrafters in ADOM are very difficult to keep alive, as all but two of their offensive Psychic Powers don't work on undead or golems. However, since this is a Roguelike game that rewards lateral thinking in battles, you can, with caution and a bit of luck, take on just about anything else with their Confusion Blast and Mind Blast. Said attacks do not miss and ignore armor. Reaching lvl. 15 grants Telekinetic Blast, which works on everything.
The roguelike NetHack has a several classes, a few of which qualify.
The DiscworldShout-Out Tourist is a challenge due to the fact they start only skilled with darts that do low damage, have weak starting stats and are overcharged at all shops to contrast with their copious starting money. Once they finish their quest they get an item that can recharge any chargeable item in the game, including instant-death wands, as many times as the wand can take it. They also can become skilled with any weapon available and their alignment of Neutral means they have the best choice of powerful artifacts to wish for.
The Indiana Jones style Archaeologist, possibly the most difficult class to play in the game, is the only class that can achieve master-level skill with a sword that does double damage to everything it hits. It takes practice to get yourself capable enough to get to the point where you can wield it.
TOME has several classes, notably the Rogue and its variants, the Shadowblade and Marauder. They suffer early from stealth which is basically worthless but through smart use of positioning and traps they can deal ridiculous damage. The Solipsist class is difficult because it's so very different due to its Solopsism talent, which is inherent to the class and cannot be unlearned. It results in Psi energy being used as a secondary source of hit points, but can leave an hasty player without enough energy to use his abilities, as well as a crippling slow effect. Used correctly, though, Solopsists can deal good damage, with tremendous control options with their sleep powers, as well as excellent durability.
Mom's Knife in The Binding of Isaac. Incredible attack damage that can pierce through most armor, but it's relatively short-ranged, and there's no way of gauging how much you've charged it and how far it will go. Also Brimstone, a blast of demonic energy that ignores any terrain and can hit multiple times in a single shot but must be charged for a couple seconds before firing.
Role Playing Game
Colette in Tales of Symphonia is considered very powerful, but unless you know how to use her (Basic attack only with a neutral control stick and only 2 attacks at a time, spam Paraball) she is awkward to control and slow to attack.
She also gets two extremely powerful attacks to chain off of it - Triple Ray Satellite and Hammer Rain, and one less powerful, but more practical - Whirlwind Rush. Triple Ray Satellite requires a wide target, while Hammer Rain just needs a huge target to get their hits in (however, they're the strongest non-Hi Ougi attacks in the game). Whirlwind Rush is much less damaging (it's weaker than Paraball), but very consistent, working on just about anything.
Regal. His unique play style can be very hard to learn, but his damage output if you can fully master his fighting game style mechanics is awesome, not to mention really stylish. Not as powerful as Collete though.
Tales of Vesperia's Judith is another example. Her aerial combos are quite difficult to figure out without using guides, and demand more dexterity than Tales games tend to require, but make her one of the greatest melee threats in the game. And by far the most stylish. She's Vesperia's Regal.
Cheria Barnes of Tales of Graces. Her Physical Attack, Cryas (Magic) Attack and Physical Defense stats are low, and she's quite awkward to use for beginners unused to the battle system. However, after you practice with her she becomes a beast. She is the only character able to sidestep immediately after attacking, giving her an unrivalled level of evasion and mobility. She is the most versatile character, being able to attack in melee and from range, and has an assortment of healing, support and attack magic that can be instantly cast when placed at the end of a combo. Finally, she has a high crit rate (allowing for faster CC growth) and the highest Cryas Defense stat of the party. There is a very good reason why she is high-tier for Solo Character Runs.
Whips in Secret of Mana. Hard to use right, but when mastered they become your most effective way to fight bosses when your MP runs out.
Gau in Final Fantasy VI. Rage is hard to use properly, especially considering that he is uncontrollable once he uses a Rage, and Gau cannot equip weapons, but in the hands of a smart player, Gau becomes one of the most useful characters. During the first half of the game, he has access to tier 2 spells (via Rage) before most characters can use magic at all, and the Stray Cat Rage allows him to use Cat Scratch, which does quadruple the damage of a normal attack. Later on, there are many, many ways to turn him into a Game Breaker — for example, he is the only character who can inflict a special confusion-like special effect that works on everything, including the Final Boss. And that's not even going into Wind God Gau, who was specifically removed in later versions of the game. However, to use Gau properly, you need to understand the game mechanics very well and be willing to endure lots of grinding.
Final Fantasy VI has several characters of this trope. There is Mog, who joins the party with no spells or any of his dances. His dances make him uncontrollable and often fail if it is of the incorrect terrain, wasting a turn. However, Mog gets the best armor in the game, easily maxing out his defense and taking little damage from even bosses. If given Dragoon equipment, he can multi-Jump and break the damage limit long before you get the game's ultimate weapons. There is also Relm, who has the bugged and more often than not, useless, Sketch ability, but has the highest Magic Attack in the game, surpassing both Terra and Celes. Thus, Relm easily hits the damage cap with Ultima. Finally, there is Gogo, who has less choices of equipment than other characters, and mediocre stats for every category. His strength lies in that he can repeat the last action without using any resources, and can pull off otherwise impossible combinations of skill sets: you can have someone with Blitz (one of the strongest movesets) and Mighty Guard (a Lore that happens to be one of the best party buffs) in one character while making room for other abilities.
Final Fantasy VIII has an in-universe example in the Gunblade, a sword with a firearm built into the hilt. Pulling the trigger on the gun sends a shockwave through the blade, dealing extra damage. However, like a real gun, the shot produces recoil, making it hard to get used to. As a result, only three people are known to use it; Laguna Loire (only awkwardly as a normal sword), Seifer Alamasy (due to his dream as a sorceress' knight), and Squall Leonheart (speculated in-universe to use it because of its difficulty).
Final Fantasy IX has Quina, who many people ignored due to him looking and acting pretty silly through the whole game, coupled with the relative difficulty of getting new magic spells for him. However, when used properly he's one of the best characters in the game, with the super buff spell Mighty Guard as well as a spell that is guaranteed to hit the damage cap every single time with a bit of work on one of the mini-games.
Perfect Guards in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. If you can put your shield up right as the enemy's attack lands, you take a lot less damage, and will automatically stagger some enemies. Your window of opportunity is one-sixth of a second.
The Vanguard class in Mass Effect 2. For the most part, every other class can be played as a very cautious class, staying in cover and picking off enemies from long range. It's a slow way to play, but it's possible. Vanguards, however, can't do this if you're going to play at all like the class is meant to be played. Their regular class skills give them very few ranged powers, and their primary weapon is a short-range shotgun with a small clip and a long reload time. Unlike all the other classes, a Vanguard's primary ability, Charge, puts them directly into the thick of combat, and is a death sentence if used wrong. But if a vanguard player can manage to master the art of charging... well, that's when you get stuff like this.
Several classes in Mass Effect 3's multiplayer are difficult to get a handle on, but the crown has to go to the Drell Vanguard. Drell are the most physically fragile race, offering incredible mobility and speed in exchange for very low barriers. A well-played drell vanguard zips around the map too fast for anything to get a bead on; an inexperienced one needs to be revived frequently.
While Drell Vanguards are difficult they pretty much lack the awesome nowadays and are widely regarded as the worst class in the game, as they don't have the power to compensate for their squishiness. Drell Adepts though still play this trope straight as a well played one won't even have to worry about their low health thanks to a variety of ways to both set up and detonate biotic explosions as well as surprisingly being able to hold its own against some enemies like the Atlas and Geth Prime thanks to Cluster Grenade. They are currently one of the only three uncommon characters you can find in Gold, the other two being both Turians.
The N7 Fury lacks the very useful Stasis ability of the asari adepts, but if used properly they can create rapid chains of biotic combo explosions using the risky Annihalation Field and the target-hopping Dark Channel to prime explosions.
The N7 Shadow requires a very different playstyle to make the most of it's teleporting Back Stab Shadow Strike, but if you choose your targets and avoid exposing yourself you can deal massive damage and neutralise Demonic Spiders like Phantoms before they become a threat. While the cloak and wall-piering AoE shockwave are easy to use, there are various tricks and combos you can use to cancel cooldowns, deal extra damage and spend more time invisible using the cloak.
The Javelin sniper rifle weighs about as much as carrying a teammate piggyback would, especially with the High Velocity Barrel mod, has an ammo count in at most the low double digits, and has a short but noticeable charge-up before each shot. On the other hand, since it has intrinsic 1m cover penetration and an inbuilt thermal scope, with Garrus's AP ammo as a bonus power, the High Velocity Barrel from the Citadel DLC, and the standard piercer mod, you can kill virtually any target even through walls. With Tactical Cloak up, you can one-shot Brutes. As long as you can correct for the charge time and don't mind the lack of ammo, it can kill virtually anything.
Every other turn problem bothering you? Skill Swap it or NOSE LASER!note Giga Impact now overshadows Hyper Beam when Slaking uses it because Gen IV came in. Then again, in Gen III...
Another example, unconventional as it may be, is the move Substitute. With this move, the user places their Hit Points into a decoy that takes attacks for them. Most people try it, note that their opponent just shattered it in one hit, wonder why they even bothered obtaining the Substitute TM at all if all it does is spend a quarter of the user's life to act like Protect, and replace it with an attack. Only with practice do they learn to create free turns with which to use Substitute (scaring the opponent into switching Pokemon by means of an Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors advantage, for example; Sub while they switch), and only after experimenting with the move (or just looking it up) do they figure out that it blocks status ailments, provides a margin of error against unexpected threats or critical hits (even a one-hit KO will merely break the Substitute and leave the user very much intact), and buys time for the user to use other setup moves or whittle away at the enemy's health. The Substitute remains on the field until it's destroyed or the user switches out (and even then, the move Baton Pass lets you switch to another Pokemon and hand the Substitute to them), and you can pretty much act with impunity in the meantime. Again, though, it takes a lot of practice and prediction to know which Mons can benefit from Substitute the most, and when to even use the move.
Special mention must be made to a very particular Substitute strategy, SubSeed. SubSeeding involves combining Substitute with the move Leech Seed. Leech Seed causes the opponent to lose a small amount of HP (1/8 its maximum) every turn, and then for the Pokemon on your side of the field to absorb that HP. This absorbed HP is given to the Pokemon itself, not to its Substitute, so after a couple turns of Leech Seed recovery, all the HP used to create the Substitute is recovered. Adding to its potential is the fact that almost every Grass-type can learn Leech Seed and use this tactic. However, Leech Seed recovery ends if the afflicted Pokemon switches out, opposing Grass-types are immune to being seeded, and since every user is Grass-typed themselves, they have to deal with the myriad weaknesses that type brings to the table. That said, those Pokemon that can do this strategy really well are quite possibly the most annoying Pokemon in the game, and if you can master playing SubSeed, you might find yourself winning by Rage Quit. Bonus points for the best user of the strategy in OU (standard) play being Breloom, which is itself Difficult But Awesome for an entirely different set of reasons.
No Guard, most commonly used by Machamp, insures that attacks launched by either combatant always hit. This can result in absolute havoc as you decimate enemies with the otherwise Awesome, but Impractical Dynamic Punch or it can result in you getting one-shotted by your opponent's own insanely powerful attack.
Despite its mascot character status, you will rarely ever see someone use a Pikachu, particularly due to its "not fully evolved" status and overall terrible defenses. Even with the Light Ball in Gen II, which doubled its special attack (and later its physical attack), it was frail and many things outspeed it. However, Gen V blessed its family with a saving grace, Lightningrod. Switching Pikachu in to an Electric attack will nullify the damage and boost Pikachu's special attack stat higher, leaving anyone slower than Pikachu blasted and charred. You could even add insult to injury by having Pikachu use Encore to trap an unknowing opponent into continually boosting the little guy till he can oneshot everything. Priority will knock it down, but until then, Pikachu's roasting more than berries and Team Rocket...
Unofficial Character Tiers are often decided by this trope. Many Pokemon, while not Difficult but Awesome in and of themselves, tend to be this in comparison to more popular Pokemon. This leads to many perfectly usable Pokemon being dropped to lower tiers solely on the basis that another Pokemon can do everything they can, but better, more easily, or with less risk.
Monster Hunter is an entire game about this. If you think you can just hack 'n slash the titular monsters to death, you will die. Many, many times. Once you learn the monsters patterns and your weapon's limitations, it becomes an awesome duel as you, a relatively normal human, fight and kill monsters anywhere from triple your weight to weighing in the neighborhood of several tons. Some weapons are trickier to use than others against certain monsters but, once your learn the timing, will absolutely annihilate them.
Baten Kaitos Origins' combat system is made around this trope. As the game goes on, it focuses more and more on combo building and less on blindly attacking. Inexperienced players will get knocked around by basic enemies and struggle with bosses, but experienced players can kill the True Final Boss in one turn with a bit of luck.
Seiken Densetsu 3's suicide teams. These are teams where not a single party member has any access to healing abilities (such as an all-Dark party of Duran, Kevin and Hawk), which means that one mistake can wipe the party. These parties also tend to have a ridiculous amount of firepower and are quite fun to play if you know how to handle them.
In Super Mario RPG, Geno is not exactly a weak character, but his most powerful move, Geno Whirl, is incredibly hard to pull off. You have to time the button sequence just right to do it correctly. If you do get the sequence correctly, the attack deals a whopping 9,999 points of damage, enough to flatten any enemy that it is capable of hurting. The downside to this is, it does not harm Boss enemies except for Exor.
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has the Superguard. The Superguard is an upgraded version of the regular Guard, and requires pressing B on being hit instead of A. It's extremely difficult to time it exactly right, with a timeframe of 1/20th of a second. However, if you do, not only do you take no damage, but on a move with physical contact, the enemy takes one point of damage! This works for every attack in the game, except for Bonetail's biting attack, and an explosion from a Bob-Ulk or Bulky Bob-Omb.
Perfect Cherry Blossom has SakuyaB, whose knives swing around depending on where you move, and whose bomb only clears very specific areas of the field. It takes some getting used to the aiming process, but when used right, she's by far the best in terms of scoring (the current SakuyaB world record is half a billion points higher than all other records).
Youmu solo in Imperishable Night is difficult to use well, with an option that swings around depending on how she moves, but she has an easier time swinging the phantom gauge around for better time orb collection. Her margin of advantage over other teams is much smaller than SakuyaB in PCB, but it's noticable.
Mountain of Faith brings us MarisaC, who attacks using four "frostthrowers" that are locked in place when Marisa focuses. While this requires a player to time when to focus, unfocus, and pulse between the two, as well as manipulating boss movements, strategic placement of the frostthrowers is the reason why MarisaC is consistently the highest-scoring character, and it helps that she's effectively the strongest character in the game. Behind only Reimu C Close and MarisaBroken.
Youmu is Ten Desires has access to the strongest spread and concentrated attacks... but she's a reverse shot-type, meaning that unless you're very good you won't be able to make full use of her strong unfocused shots. And the charged nature of her focused shots can be a problem if you don't get it's rhythm down, while the unfocused shots have trailing options that punish you for moving wildly.
SanaeA in the fangame Marine Benefit also qualifies for this, as her unfocused shot by itself is fairly weak and her bomb only clears the area to her sides; however, she has Kanako's virtue spheres hovering around her and spinning around the field, killing most non-boss enemies they touch almost instantly (and doing good damage to bosses). While it takes a lot of getting used to aiming the virtues, knowing when to unfocus to activate them, and learning to see through them so they don't distract you from the bullets, using them wisely helps tremendously in killing off enemies in places other shot types would almost require a bomb to kill, and thus reducing a lot of the difficulty of some sections. And it helps that SanaeA's focused shot, while it lacks the virtues, has plenty of forward power for boss killing.
Mushihime-sama Futari versions 1.01 and 1.5 have Reco-Abnormal, who at first seems like a horribly counter-intuitive character; she inverts the trend that focused shot = slower speed, and her focused shot at first feels pathetically weak. However, proper utilization of her focus shot's lock-on option ability allows her to rapidly decimate bosses and midbosses.
The later installments in the DoDonPachi series have one each:
DoDonPachi DaiOuJou has Exy, who is the most difficult character to survive with due to having only 1 initial bomb and 2 max bombs (vs. Leinyan's 2 initial and 4 max, and Shotia's 3 initial and 6 max). However, a skilled player can make Exy into an ass kicker: she has Shotia's powerful shot and Leinyan's piercing laser, and her lower bomb capacity means she gets the max bomb bonus sooner. Moreover, unlike Shotia, who loses all of her laser power on dying, and Leinyan, who loses all of her shot power, Exy only loses one level of each upon death.
DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu has Power Style. You can't bomb (except you do get one auto-bomb upon picking up a bomb item) and the shot is still slightly weaker than Strong Style even in Boost Mode, but Power Style also builds up Hypers the fastest and any bullets cancelled by your Hyper while in Boost Mode also charge up your next Hyper. Play your cards right and you can have a Hyper ready basically anytime you want.
DoDonPachi Saidaioujou has the swimsuit for whichever Element Doll you pick. It's analogous to Exy in DaiOuJou while the combat uniform is analogous to Shotia and the casual dress is analogous to Leinyan. However, unlike DaiOuJou, you don't lose any shot or laser power upon dying, while the swimsuit has the additional drawback of making enemy attacks significantly fiercer.
Guns of Icarus: The cannon (and the super cannon) take some practice to aim correctly because of their slow-moving shots, but if you can master Leading The Target, they deal twice as much damage as the standard gatling, and they have massive range.
R-Type: Novice players mostly use the Force Pod as a front shield. Experts know how to use front, back and especially detached mode to their full advantage, the latter of which can be difficult to learn. In detached mode you have to control two units at once and the shield is moved to an arbitrary position, leaving you open to attacks. But you do get to cover a greater shooting range.
Stealth Based Game
In Assassin's Creed games, the Hidden Blade Counter Attacks are very difficult to pull off consistently, but once mastered even Brutes (though not Papal Guards or Janissaries) will be One Hit Killed by them, although in Brotherhood the returning protagonist's experience is reflected in the form of a more generous window of opportunity.
This is doubly true in the first game, where the Hidden Blade didn't even block, meaning you had to get it right or take damage — however, get it right and even the final boss can be OHK'd.
A better example is using stealth, even when it isn't a mandatory part of your current mission. You can reach a point where the only enemies that will ever attack you are the ones actually scripted to do so, which is a very small subset of the guards. You one hit kill virtually every unaware enemy, even the rare ones that might be able to avoid being counter killed.
To a lesser extent, chain kills can be this. Once you get two to three kills in a row, you can simply point in the direction of the next enemy and hit attack to immediately kill them. The problem? You have no invincibility frames, and can be knocked out of your lengthy kill animations at any time. Start your chain kill at the wrong time, and you'll almost immediately be knocked out of it and left defenseless; start it at the right time and prioritize your targets, and you'll be unstoppable.
Getting the Silent Assassin rating on any of the Hitman games is quite difficult, requiring a mix of proper timing, planning and Save Scumming. But pulling it off will net you bonus weapons, cash and in general make you feel like a Badass, especially if you can pull off an accident kill.
In Dead Rising, the regular chainsaw is like this, especially in Infinity Mode before you get the Small Chainsaw. The standard swing is awkward as hell and leaves you vulnerable to attack after each swing, and you drop the weapon if you take a single hit from anything (forcing you to pick it up and rev it up again). However, the running attack absolutely scythes through zombies and bosses as long as you make absolutely sure never to stop moving.
The Great Knife in Silent Hill 2. Because of its size, James moves slowly with it and it takes time for him to swing it. This leaves him open to getting hit. However, if you're very good at timing your attacks, basically any enemy will fall before they can deal much damage, and boss fights where melee is an option are over much faster than usual.
Also, playing first person shooters that have a more clumsy, third person mode like Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast. The aiming for guns is usually easier to do in first person mode and if there's melee weapons, those are easier to use in third person. Most FPS with a third person mode dont have fixed cameras at the character's back. It is harder to learn to aim properly, but it can used for easy determination of where a shot is coming from when you are hit in the back. In some games, you can manipulate the camera to look behind your character while s/he continues to look forward. If you have steady hands, you can turn the senstivity up and perform quick area checks and cover all your corners.
The Soldier is fairly easy to get a handle on, as it's your standard shooter archetype and quite tough. However, skilled selection of special abilities and perks allows them to become devastating, particularly in close combat, and their heavy weapons can shred almost anyone in a matter of seconds.
The Leader is very Soldier-like, with the added bonus of having an ability that not only gives you bonus armor and damage but all allies within a radius. Skill and timing in the use of this ability can make any Leader into a monster.
The Scout is the first class where you really need to work to be dangerous, though—it has little enough health that a single shot from a Soldier's tank mode can kill. On the other hand, with the proper use of abilities, weapons, timing, and even the angle of attack, a Scout can often one-shot a Soldier when they're at normal maximum health.
The true demons, though, are Scientists. Incredibly fragile, they are also the most mobile class, and their default weapon selection allows for both sniping and brutal close-combat damage. A Scientist player who masters the hit and run or snipe and run aspect of the class will demolish all comers—and this is to say nothing of if they deciding to perform their standard function of The Medic to heal up other characters on top of it.
Global Agenda has the Recon class, which functions like this to at least some degree: there's a glut of players who have absolutely no business taking on the stealth-based mantle, but those who have practiced to a reasonable point are absolute nightmares to deal with. Certain varieties of Medic are similar, if less pronounced.
Oni has the Backbreaker, a move with positioning requirements bound to a key combination that is hard to pull off reliably unless you're a veteran player, especially since the mooks can and will try to face you when you get behind them. It can also one-shot most enemies, making every successful use rewarding. Newbies may pull it off a few times per mission if lucky, experienced veterans tend to kill most enemies with it.
Even more pronounced in the Anniversary Edition mod, where enemies have larger health pools but Backbreaker has increased damage. Despite retaining its deadly efficiency in an environment where every other ability is weaker, it is even harder to pull off due to enemies being far faster and thus better at protecting their backs than normal.
The Lex pistol doesn't look like much on first use. Tiny magazine, high recoil, low rate of fire, long reload time. So why is it widely advocated? With the right mods, it's really powerful and has great accuracy even at great distance. The key is to treat it like a Poor Man's Substitute sniper and pick your shots slowly and methodically, not a pray-and-spray close-quarters automatic.
The sliding melee can be difficult to land consistently, but it deals damage more efficiently than hacking randomly.
Charged attacks can be easily disrupted, so landing them consistently needs you to learn timing and footwork. However, the greatly boosted damage, partly due to ignoring armour, means you can kill enemies with just a few charged attacks rather than many standard strikes.
Learning to use a bow requires learning to charge the shot rather than try to lay out shots as fast as possible, as well as taking into account the ballistic arc and flight time, but the damage from a fully-charged headshot can be very impressive.
The Torque Bow in Gears of War is difficult to charge in cover, it is difficult to aim, and it sometimes has scarce ammunition, but it can deliver one-hit kills, and it's one of the recommended weapons on the final boss.
Turn Based Strategy
Several weapons in Worms, but perhaps the poster child for this is the SuperSheep.
The Bazooka deserves special mention. A high damage explosive starting weapon with a ludicrously long ballistic trajectory. Newbies may have a hard time hitting anything not on the same screen but Scorched Earth veterans can knock an enemy worm into the water from across the map in turn 1.
Several factions in Lords Of Magic are a challenging initial play. Air's low armor means that their units fall apart in a straight slugging match (you know you're in trouble when your best meatshield is the equivalent to other faiths' light cavalry) but they're extremely fast and have very powerful magic, plus most of their units can fly. Fire has weak armor and lacks Air's mobility, but make up for it with powerful magic that only gets nastier as the game progresses once you figure out how to use it to effect. Order looks solid on paper, but their starting position is close to two very hostile neighbors and their territory is riddled with marauders, and there's a high chance that at least one of the starting, low-level hamlets you try to clear out will spawn with a pegasus inside. But if you manage to survive slugging it out with such powerful enemies and constant raids, your army will be the most experienced and toughest force on Urak short of Balkoth himself, and will bring death and destruction on the heads of anyone who challenges you.
Sami is often seen as a waste, as her only ability is to have stronger infantry (the weakest units in the game) at the cost of weaker vehicles (The most used and useful units). However, by simply spamming mech units in deployment maps, you will overwhelm your opponent and literally be unstoppable. In the second game, winning as Sami basically translates to "Get an infantry to the enemy's HQ with a fully charged super co power". You'll capture their HQ instantly, even if the infantry has low HP, guaranteeing an instant win.
VS Mode Sturm in the first game is too, believe it or not. He's considered USELESS, as his units have 20% lower attack in exchange for 30% stronger defense. However, if you use his weaker units as meat shields to pick at your enemy's HP (Which weakens their attack and drains their ammo) while you build up a strong offense and attack in one assault, well, the results are devastating.
Colin has 10% weaker units in exchange for 20% cheaper units. There is a Campaign mission where you only have to survive for 14 days as Colin which seems to hammer home the fact that he sucks, and his wimpy theme music doesn't help. However, give him a try on deployment maps with Aerial and Naval units. Suddenly Bombers and Battleships which are absurdly powerful are costing about 6000 bucks less to deploy, and their absurd attack strength means that a slight loss in power means absolutely nil.
His CO powers really hammer this home. Gold Rush is tied for the fastest charging CO power in the game, and increases his current available cash by 50% when activated. Power of Money, his super CO power, takes a fair bit longer to charge, but gives a damage boost to all of his units for the turn scaling off of how much money he has at the time. If Colin is ever given a chance to stockpile even a little spare money, the situation can quickly snowball out of control, as Gold Rush eventually generates more money than it costs to recharge it, leading to Colin having potentially hundreds of thousands in cash on hand as he fires off Gold Rush turn after turn after turn, leading to the eventual conclusion as his army of discount units tears through everything in its path during Power of Money, sporting attack power potentially dozens of times normal if he's been allowed to stockpile enough cash. There's a reason the kid's considered broken on many tiers lists.
Multiple high-tier MEC Troopers. They're incredibly powerful Lightning Bruisers, but they're incredibly expensive to field. 10 Meld to allow a trooper to use ME Cs, 40 to produce the basic tier-1 suit, 60 to upgrade it to the tier-2 suit, and 100 Meld to upgrade it to the tier-3. All in all, it costs 210 Meld to fully upgrade a single MEC Trooper, when most missions net you 20 at most.
Fully gene-modding a soldier is also this for the same reasons. Depending on what you pick, you may have to pay up to 200 Credits and 150 Meld to fully kit out a soldier with gene mods. It also takes twenty days to complete the procedure. However, you're left with a super-powered Badass who can take out several aliens by him/herself, and forms a deadly duo with ME Cs and psionic troopers.
Shotguns for the Assault class. While the Assault Rifle is a completely superior choice on lower difficulties, the Shotgun is a must on Impossible. Using a Shotgun trooper effectively requires excellent knowledge and use of cover and concealment, but killing an alien with a critical hit is vital if you want to succeed.
The Sniper's In The Zone ability can be this. Killing a target that has been flanked or is out of cover does not cost the Sniper an action, meaning that one Sniper can take down many aliens in a single turn. However, taking full advantage of this requires a lot of setup and luck.
In Civilization V, Venice has a unique playstyle where they cannot build any other cities and is very reliant on their capital city. Do bad and Venice can easily get conquered as early as Ancient Era. Do good however and you will get massive amounts of gold, food population, and units that can easily defend Venice while going for a cultural victory.
Non-video game examples:
Anime and Manga
Nen abilities in Hunter × Hunter exploit this trope. Nen powers get stronger the more restrictions and handicaps the user puts on them, which is why the more powerful characters will usually have fairly convoluted rules for their abilities (like The Bomber from the Greed Island arc, who exploits Explaining Your Powers To The Enemy, and Knuckle, who has a Power Nullifier based on complicated bank interest equations.)
Revealed, via backstory, to be the case with Luffy's Devil Fruit power in One Piece. Luffy got his DF before being sent to live with Dadan (where he lived with Ace and also met Sabo). When training with Ace and Sabo, the other two, as child Badass Normals, would consistently beat up Luffy because his rubberized body was too hard to use properly. The ease with which we see him dominate foes even from chapter/episode 1 came from between 5-10 years of practice, but initially the power was more trouble than it was worth.
In Yu-Gi-Oh!, there are some cards that require you to jump through a number of inefficient hoops to summon, but are nigh-unstoppable when you do. But one example: Vennominaga The Deity of Poisonous Snakes requires a specific trap card to be activated, and then only in response to the destruction of its predecessor, Vennominion the King of Poisonous Snakes. Both cards have zero attack, but are boosted by the number of Reptiles in your graveyard (fortunately, there's specifically a card for sending Reptiles to the grave from the deck), but once it actually gets summoned, Vennominaga is all but invincible, since it cannot be affected at all by other card effects and if it attacks the opponent three times, it's an automatic win.
There's also Shooting Quasar Dragon, which requires 1 Tuner Synchro Monster + 2 or more Non-Tuner Synchro Monsters, a somewhat hard to fulfill condition. However, when you manage to summon it, you get a 4000 ATK beatstick that gets a minimal of 2 attacks per turn (Yes a minimun, as in, it can get more than 2 attacks depending of how many non-tuner monsters you used for its synchro summoning) and that can negate any card effect once per turn. Add to that the fact that it brings a "Shooting Star Dragon" to the field when it gets removed from the field and you get one hell of a Game Breaker.
A deck heavily based around Synchro Summoning in general is often this since players need to understand how to manipulate monster levels to get the monsters they want and a wrong move in a chain punishes the player with wasted resources. Good players of decks such as Plant Synchro and Infernity make it seem effortless only because they memorized multiple steps in their path to victory.
The Koa'ki Meiru Archetype. Unlike any other Archetype in the game, Koa'ki Meirus require constant maintenance and resource management. Sure, you'll need monsters on the field to beat your opponent, but you also need to use the Iron Core of Koa'ki Meiru or another specific monster in hand to keep your monsters alive. Then, almost every single Spell and Trap also need the Iron Core to work - except sometimes, those need the Core in the Graveyard - meaning you won't be able to use them all unless you keep recycling the Core which will cost you resources. There's more - the Koa'ki Meirus also have powerful effects that can stop your opponent's moves, but to do so you will have to correctly predict what your opponent's going to do. And of course, your opponent is still trying to kill you. But damn it certainly pays off: Koa'ki Meiru monsters are absurdly strong, both ATK-wise and effect-wise, and their Spell and Trap Cards are free and unlimited versions of some of the strongest Spells and Traps in the game (like this, which is basically this, one of the most popular Limited cards ever).
Fableds. They have effects that activate upon being discarded, and effects that allow you to discard. note Similarly to the Dark World archetype, but with less of the game's trademark obscure rulings. Sort of a Ryu and Ken thing going on here.]] But the gimmick is deceptively simple. Fabled users tend to have their turns go on for a while, partly because they're able to do an insane amount of things in one turn, partly because they have to spend so much time thinking their move through because of that. They can do so much crap, but unless you do the right crap, you'll be left with nothing but crap and your opponent will crap all over you.
Sophia the Creator is considered this for having harsh summoning requirement of banishing one Fusion, one Ritual, one Synchro and one Xyz on the field. However, once it hits the field, all other cards on the field, graveyard and hand are banished except itself. Not to mention its summon and effect cannot be negated.
Arcana Force XXI - The World is the focus of entire Decks. First, you need to Summon a two-tribute Monster, already a difficult task. Then you need to do a coin toss (or have Light Barrier up), and if the coin comes up Tails, then The World becomes useless. Once you've got it on the field and properly set, you then send two Monsters on your Field to the Graveyard at the end of your turn. What could possibly be worth all this? Why, the ability to skip your opponent's turn, every time you give up two monsters. And if those two monsters are the automatically-reviving Samsara Lotus, D.D. Scout Plane, Treeborn Frog, Black Ptera, or Sinister Serpent, then you can potentially skip your opponent's turn forever.
There are also some very powerful decks, that are extremely complicated to play properly. Both Inzectors and Inferties, for example, can stop your opponent from really doing anything, while you get out multiple huge beaters... but first, you pretty much have to play a game of solitaire.
Decks utilizing Rank-Up-Magic to summon CXyz and Chaos Numbers are this as well. For starters, you need a specific spell card (of which there is more than one of) and a particular Xyz monster (which have more than enough of, even of those specific ranks). What you do is bring out one of those Xyz monsters (such as Number 39: Utopia or Number 101: Silent Honor ARK) and then utilize the Rank-Up-Magic to make it into its "C" form (Utopia Ray V/Victory for Utopia, Silent Honor DARK for ARK). Such monsters tend to have powerful effects that requires a specific card to have as Xyz material to use. Difficult? Yes. Awesome? Seeing your opponent rage when they lose to something hard to use makes this an absolute YES.
Any Level 10 or higher monster in general. Firstly, you need 2 Tributes to Normal Summon them (if you can Normal Summon them at all), and many have Summoning Restrictions applied to them; for example the aforementioned Sophia and Vennominaga. Second, many of them have massive downsides to using, or require many hoops to be jumped through to just have them on board. However, once you have them, they become massively awesome.
One such monster is Theinen the Great Sphinx, who required two other Level 10 monsters to be destroyed simultaneously, before he could be Summoned from the Hand or Deck, at the cost of 500 Life Points. Then, you could spend an additional 500 LP to increase his already formidable attack power by 3000 points for the duration of the turn. Potentially, this could be a One-Hit Kill if your opponent had a low amount of LP to begin with, and has no cards to stop you.
In Magic: The Gathering, this can summarize combo decks. They're difficult to make work all the time, but when they do, expect a first- or second-turn win. The creation of these decks are similarly difficult, as they require significant knowledge of the rules and its loopholes along with a comprehensive list of all the cards in the format in question (which can number several thousands). Managing to pull off one of these combos, especially if it's devised by yourself, will result in a big moment of awesome, especially if it later becomes a tournament-winning one.
Sega Pinball's Starship Troopers has a third flipper button, which is used to control a small Mini-Flipper just above the right flipper. Although it is often ignored by new players, using it to hit a Bug counts as two hits, allowing you to clear out a planet much faster. It's also helpful for slowing down and controlling the ball.
Generally, the trickier factions to play are the Glass Cannon Eldar, the woefully out-of-date Dark Eldar, and the Tau Empire, a Ranger faction with no close combat ability in a game where every enemy will be in your face by turn 3. Imperial Guard, Space Marine, and Chaos Marine armies can be tricky or not based on build. Inquisitional armies can be very difficult to play, though mostly due to out of date codices rather than mechanics.
Dark Eldar, after finally getting a update with 5th edition, can potentially work as a Skill Gate Character with less experienced players. They are very lethal against pretty much anything and the most generally useful options are pretty obvious. Basically, in that case a Dark Eldar player is going to win easily (due to the high lethality) or be crushed (Dark Eldar are fairly fragile, especially for their cost). When you get into higher skill levels, they tend to fit this trope better. Most of the more competitive armies can still crush Dark Eldar in a straight fight, so there is a substantial amount of finesse required. You can't just march across the battlefield against most opponents and expect to win.
Pure Sisters of Battle. If you haven't mastered Acts of Faith, they're a very poor force. If you have, your opponent will start to think Sisters are a little too powerful.
5th edition ramped the hell out of this with the Tau. They went from steep learning curve to learning cliff over night. However, if you can master them they're easily one of the most powerful factions in the game.
However 6th edition buffed them up (due to being more shooter friendly) and their new codex is less this (no useless units bluffing abilities everywhere) but still needs each part of the army to be aid each other.
Some variations of Space Marine lists fall under this trope. A Space Marine biker list can be hard as hell to use effectively but when it is they are getting damn near close to Game Breaker territory.
The Space Marine Land Speeder. Fragile and many people write them off as garbage due to that, but in the hands of a competent player, they are quite nasty. What doesn't help its case is that many veteran players are aware of this and kill the speeder first.
Deathwing and Paladin armies. Sure, everyone in your force has a power fist and the best armor possible, but at 1,500 points you'll seldom have more than thirty models on the table (compare to an Imperial Guard army that could potentially run two good-sized infantry platoons and assorted tanks at that points level). If you can manage to bring the full brunt of your force to bear on a segment of the enemy army, however, you'll probably roll over anything in your way.
Deathwing have gained a mixed blessing thanks to their 6th Edition codex. They keep their old difficult play style, yet gain some new toys, such as Deathwing Knights who, with Belial in their unit, can easily obliterate AbaddontheDespoiler and 10 terminators SINGLE HANDEDLY. However, since these new toys often come with extra baggage (Deathwing Knights only get one turn to unleash their extreme melee prowess) they remain rather balanced.
With the release of 6th edition, it looks like Saim-Hann Eldar lists are being pushed from the 'completely useless' category into this one; a Saim-Hann army doesn't have much in the way of numbers or massive firepower, but a proper build allows your entire army to move 24"-36" per turn; on a sufficiently large table there's really no way to deal with them.
This is true of regular Warhammer as well. Many Armies have special rules that can change the course of a game, "Elite" Armies (all Elves, Chaos, Dwarves, Lizardmen) in particular often have multiple special rules for individual units or for the whole Army, and the high cost of units in such Armies require the player to think carefully about what they choose to field and know all the possible uses of the units they choose.
The Lizardmen and the Wood Elves deserve special mention for requiring a great deal of tactical thought to be able to play well. The Wood Elves especially are an army of Fragile Speedsters and Glass Cannons, and can easily be crushe by a horde army if played poorly, while the Lizardmen are mostly Mighty Glaciers and Fragile Speedsters. Both require an intimate knowledge of the Armies' respective unique units and particularly Army- or unit-specific terrain rules to play effectively. If done so, however, both become incredibly powerful to play as and incredibly frustrating to play against.
The Dwarves are another Army that can be difficult to play for a beginner. In particular, the total lack of magic (except the Anvil of Doom) and cavalry countered with multiple War Machines, numerous almost identical elite infantry units, and the almost paralyzing number of runic combinations for weapons/armour/standards/etc. can make the Dwarves a forbidding prospect for a new player. Those same traits in the hands of a veteran can lead to the utter domination of their opponent.
Tomb Kings and Ogre Kingdoms have unusual magic systems that take some getting used to, but can be effective if used right. Also, both Armies along with Bretonnians have uncommon builds (Tomb Kings around chariots, Ogres around monsters, and Bretonnians around cavalry).
Most of the most powerful classes in Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 are like this (with the possible exception of the druid) due to having massive ranges of potential abilities which vary in strength from "deal less damage than a fighter" to "win instantly".
Special mention to the Artificer. While building one is not entirely complex (aside from needing to constantly reference a minimum of three books just to play), it takes hours of time and math to create one even at 2nd level (a 1st level Artificer is fairly straightforward). Leveling up is a nightmare, and it has the dubious honor of being one of the Big 6, meaning it takes serious skill to not screw up and become a liability during encounters.
The bright side? Even a novice player using an Artificer can turn random treasure into actually useful equipment, meaning even if the player screws up constantly during combat, they can at least make up for it out of combat.
On the brighter side, in the hands of an experienced player the Artificer technically belongs on his own special tier far above all the other puny mortals below thanks to his ability to take the wealth by level charts and snap them into tiny little pieces.
The Artificer can create any magic item in the game, full-stop. They gain bonus Item Creation feats, they have a mechanic to use Use Magic Device instead of the usual spellcasting requirements, they get points to use towards the XP costs of items, etc. The vast majority of magic items are overpriced and not that useful. That still leaves hundreds, if not thousands, of legitimately useful items — figuring out which ones you're going to need next week is very challenging. The potential of *having* that item next week is devastating, if realized.
The other strongest classes in the game generally fit this because of the obnoxious and fiddly Vancian spell preparation mechanic. While spontaneous casting is easier to figure out, prepared casters can often pick up new spells whenever they want for a small expenditure of gold, making them ultimately much more versatile than spontaneous casters. A player just has to learn how and when to prepare what spells.
Certain Prestige Classes weren't designed for player use and were Purposely Overpowered. However, jump through the hoops to qualify and roleplay out of any other problems, and goodbye game balance. Hulking Hurler, Tainted Scholar, Beholder Mage, and Illithid Savant are all famous examples.
Controllers in D&D 4.0. A team without a Controller will notice that enemies coordinate and attack them very efficiently. Poorly-played, a Controller is a liability, and will die if enemies so much as look at him. A well-played Controller is a hideously effective mezzer who will have your DM tearing his hair out as he watches his monsters flail around under multiple Standard Status Effects.
In chess, if you get a pawn to the end of an eight-square board, the pawn can become a queen, the strongest piece in the game.note This is called "promoting". Technically, a pawn may be promoted to any piece except a king, but the queen, as the most powerful piece, is almost invariably chosen - unless that would cause stalemate, or a knight is needed for a checkmate. Because there are so many ways to prevent this, against a serious opponent, the odds that any one player pulls this off are slim-to -none. If it works, though, many people simply surrender, rather than draw out a fairly nasty defeat.
More generally, pawns are the least mobile piece in the game, as well as the only one that not only captures differently from it moves but also has no less than two special moves. Because they are so difficult to move, however, the way they become arranged (called the "pawn structure") becomes one of the most important aspects of the board. In modern games, many professional games revolve around trying to put your pawns in a favorable position while screwing up your opponent's formations, and if you go all the way to the endgame, the focus becomes using what's left of your more powerful pieces to escort one or more of your pawns so that it can be promoted. Pawn structure is subtle, however, and most casual players don't bother taking it into consideration.
Anyone who wants to use light 'Mechs and other relatively fragile designs in BattleTech will find that their units will generally go down with depressing ease, especially when playing in the later parts of the franchise (generally comprising of the Civil War, Jihad, and Dark Age timeframes) where highly damaging and highly accurate weapons are widely available. Some weapons are powerful enough to be a One-Hit Kill outright against small 'Mechs. However, a player with thorough knowledge of their unit abilities, enemy composition, and terrain can quickly became king of a frustrating Fragile Speedster army that refuses to stand still long enough to get hit, and can either deal Death By A Thousand Cuts or go in for a critical Back Stab. The rare commander with both cunning and utter madness can also avert Mook Chivalry and dogpile their light 'Mechs onto an enemy with a flurry of physical blows. While any individual attack isn't all that strong, the sheer number of them can quickly overwhelm even an Assault 'Mech, especially since getting kicked can make a 'Mech trip and fall, and a punch in the head is still every bit as dangerous as a fist from a 20-ton robot sounds. Finally, in games where players must meet on roughly even footing through a Point Buy system, the player with the light 'Mechs may purchase more units, as well as better pilots, due to the low individual cost of their units.
Star Fleet Battles maulers, stasis field generators, and various types of Tholian web. They're all extremely difficult to learn to use to their full potential, but if you do, you've got a really big hammer that can mash enemies flat, in the right circumstances.
Fire, so very much. Extremely dangerous, hard to mantain over long periods and even something as simple as a lit cigar can outright kill you if you're not careful. It's also, by far, the most useful tool ever handled by mankind, even to this day, and it looks pretty awesome to boot.
The vim text editor. It is very Nintendo Hard to learn, as you rely entirely on keyboard macros to do things that aren't typing. Once mastered, however, vim is a very efficient editor.
vim's "opponent", emacs, is similar: like vim, it uses key combinations for all editor control. It's practically impossible to learn, but capable of doing anything. And anything actually means anything. Standard builds of EMACS (which includes a LISP dialect specific to EMACS built right in) have included web browsers, email clients, image viewers, and just about any other tool you might possibly want to use. It can call the compiler, too, in case you happen to want to write a little code somewhere along the way. (Coders and sysadmins, pretty much the only people who bother with something like EMACS or vi, have been known to do all their work from inside EMACS with built-in tools.)
Interface example: Openbox. It looks like a very cut-down interface without many features most users have become accustomed with, such as icons on the desktop. However, once keyboard shortcuts have been properly set and memorized, it's faster to open apps and switch to them/move them around than with any mouseclick-interface - doubly so if the user is a touch-typist and accustomed to using keyboard macros.
Command Line Interfaces, particularly in Linux. If you don't know how to use them, you're pretty much stuck in a blank terminal. On the other hand, someone who knows how to use them well basically has total control over the computer.
Hell, learning to use Linux itself is this trope. At least for those switching from Windows.
Same thing applies for setting up routers - the GUI and factory settings are okay, but mastering the CLI's often-awkward syntax gives you much more control.
They're handy in Windows too. For example, using xcopy requires typing instead of the usual click-and-drag, but the files copy faster, don't stop copying when one file fails, and more options are available in the form of parameters, such as /f which forces the copy wherever possible, and /y which automatically answers all questions with "yes, overwrite the damn file" without further human intervention.
You CAN drag any file or folder to CLI.
Microsoft removed that feature on some versions of Windows Server. Administrators around the world were not amused.
Blender is this for 3D design. Completely unintuitive and follows none of the layout, keystroke or workflow conventions of other 3D design software; the most enthusiastic proponents will agree the learning curve is vertical. Anyone who masters it will swear by it, and always come back to use it even if they own commercial software suites.
The interface and the ability to customize your UI lets a user get fairly close to an Autodesk layout.
Scoped rifles require learning how to properly sight and adjust your scope before you even get to the point where you have to keep your arms steady (often while trying to hold up a 10 pound rifle with little or no support) as you VERY slowly squeeze the trigger. After figuring out the range and wind and compensating for both of those, of course. When you've learned how to use it, you can hit targets hundreds of yards away regularly.
Battle Rifles. They are heavier, larger, and feature much more recoil than assault rifles. However, they are very accurate and their rounds are significantly more powerful than the normal 5.56 NATO.
The Kalashnikov family of firearms, especially the newer models of AK. They all fire the 7.62x54mmR, 7.62x39mm or 5.45x39mm rounds - all proven by history to be very good calibers -, have dead simple controls, very quick and simple sights, and they are invariably utterly reliable. The problem is that, while they're easy to use by even the most mentally-challenged human being, it takes a bit of special technique and a lot of practice to use them to their full potential. For those who can do that (and provided with decent ammunition), the "inaccurate thug gun" is just as much of a hole puncher as any high-cost Western rifle.
WRC cars are among the most difficult to master in the entire motorsport. To fully exploit their performance, it would be a very good idea for the driver to know how to drift, steer with throttle, accelerate while braking and downshift to run faster. Their top power is made throughout engine rpm range, from 3000 to 7000rpm, so it's either full throttle or nothing, brakes are switch-like, either full braking or none.
The "dolphin kick" in swimming: a backstroke technique in which the swimmer stays underwater, in streamline position, performing rapid kicks and undulations. It takes tremendous coordination and lung capacity to pull it off for more than a couple of seconds. It proved so devastating that most swimming rules organizations put limits on how long a swimmer can perform this maneuver (in most places, it's limited to 15 seconds or 15 meters).
Similarly, the step above dolphin kick, the butterfly (which is basically dolphin on your front with arm movements) is easily the single most draining and all around difficult stroke to both learn and use(so much so that non-sport swimming instructors are not even required to learn it anymore). It takes incredible strength throughout your entire body to be able to use it at all, and the endurance required to do it for more than about 2s without hyperventilating is phenomenal. Yet once mastered, it is the defining stroke for all swimming, showing mastery of the vast majority of principles used for effective swimming, and will keep anyone in top physical condition both in and out of the water.
Keyboard shortcuts can be tough to memorize at first, but master them and you'll be blazing through your favorite applications.
For Windows users, Ctrl+N for File-New and Ctrl+O for File-Open are among the most time-saving examples. And ever tried Win Key, Up, Enter, Alt+Letter (letter depending on what you want, reboot or shutdown, instead of Sleep, the option Bill Gates is in bed with). When an admin mashes the keyboard for ONE second to reboot, The look on a user's face is priceless.
Windows is actually so full of these that they make navigating the operating system much quicker/faster. Pinned something to your taskbar? Win + #. Need to open a new instance of that program? Win + Shift + #. Need to launch a program? Win + start typing a few letters of the program name, enter. Need to open Explorer? Win + E. Minimize everything to the desktop? Win + D. Lock the computer? Win + L. Microsoft didn't touch any of this with Windows 8, and those that figured it out were probably not perturbed by the new interface as much as those who used Windows with the more mouse driven paradigms.
Especially when using web browsers, since there are keyboard shortcuts for practically everything. There's the common Ctrl+T for new tab, Ctrl+N for a new window, Alt+F4 to close it...but then you get Ctrl+W to close the individual tab, Ctrl+Shift+T if you want to bring back your previously closed tab, the tab key to scroll through links and input boxes, Shift+Tab to go backwards, Ctrl+Tab to scroll through tabs, with an added Shift to go backwards, Ctrl+[num] to go to that numbered tab, Ctrl++ / Ctrl+- to zoom, Ctrl+E to go to Home, F5 to refresh, Ctrl+F5 to hard refresh...the list goes on...and on...and on...
And then there's the power button of newer computers, which works like a one-press shortcut for shutdown.
Learning multiple languages is extremely difficult (especially for older people). That said, it's generally easier to live in another country, or import stuff, if you know the language fluently. It's also plenty of fun to show off your fluency to others.
Among Linux distributions, Gentoo. This distro will give you Stockholm Syndrome. Its installation isn't merely user unfriendly, it often borders on being downright userabusive, but once installed, it is guaranteed to deliver the absolute maximum level of performance your hardware is capable of providing, beyond what you had ever seen your hardware accomplish on any other operating system (with the possible exception of MenuetOS, but that system's written entirely in assembly code, which is sort of cheating).
Knuckleball pitches in baseball, when thrown incorrectly, either become practice pitches or wild balls that are hard to catch, and the ability to throw them can be disrupted by as little as a chipped fingernail. When thrown correctly, though, they wobble around in the wind making them very hard to hit.
Any Martial Arts style will take years to learn and a lifetime to master. Extended practice will bring significant health benefits including increased strength, stamina, flexibility, balance, and cardio-pulminary health, greater self-confidence, self-awareness, and personal peace, as well as self-defense capability.
Of particular note is taijiquan (T'ai Chi). The basics require months to grasp, and often come with admonitions of "Straight but not straight" and "Round but not round." Once learned, it is a very versatile style with several movements that can be applied in a number of ways, single movements often containing offensive, defensive, and mixed potential. Apart from the combative aspect, it is excellent for increasing patience and serenity. Also, the relatively low impact of its practice make it an ideal form for the elderly, or those undergoing physical rehab.
The problem with T'ai Chi is that it's generally practiced by the aforementioned elderly and infirm, and by people with an unhealthy phobia to strength training. But the actual movements can in fact be compared to "weaponized powerlifting," as the same concepts required to channel the body's power into a single blow are also used to channel the body's power into moving heavy amounts of mass. To put it in perspective: one of the basic taijiquan techniques is a simple shove, learning how to maximize the force to knock an adult human away. Now imagine a woman using that technique to shove a 200 lb attacker - after learning how to bench press 200 lbs. Rag doll physics start to come into play.
Certain musical instruments like the violin and the bagpipe sound incredibly beautiful in the hands of an experienced player... and headache-inducing in the hands of a novice.
Skip Bombing, a technique developed by the Allies during World War II for use against enemy ships, was this. Essentially, a bomber would approach the target at extremely low altitudes (200-250 feet), and drop several bombs on a time delay. They would hit the water, skip over the surface like tossing a stone, and bounce into the side of the ship before exploding. This was advantageous over torpedoes because they took longer to reach their targets (giving ships time to avoid them) while skipped bombs only take a few seconds. The downside is that it's extremely difficult to pull off, and requires near-perfect timing.