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Double Unlock
"Firstly, you must find... ANOTHER SHRUBBERY!" [chord]

Some video games have Unlockable Content — be it new characters, new gear, new levels, new play modes, or whatever else. Most of the time, unlocking the content is all you have to do. But every once in a while you'll run across a game that requires you to not only perform some feat to unlock the new item; you then have to perform a second feat (or pay some sort of in-game currency) to actually receive the item. The first unlock just informs you that the item exists (and usually what you need to do to get it), or otherwise makes the second lock available to you.

This is a particularly frustrating form of Unlockable Content, since the excitement of revealing a new element of the game is somewhat dampened when you find out that you still need to jump through hoops (sometimes literally) to actually use the hard-earned prize.

The pure version of this trope has one condition to reveal the prize and another to unlock it. There are a few reasons for a developer to do this, the most common being that the existence of the prize in question would spoil something in the game. Once that part of the game is completed, the prize can be safely revealed, but that doesn't mean the player has earned it yet.

There are other variations that have no reveal condition:
  1. A visible prize with a normal unlock condition, upon being unlocked, suddenly reveals another, previously unmentioned, unlock condition. The Monty Python page quote is an example of this variation.
  2. A prize actually has only one unlock condition — but achieving that condition requires you to unlock something else, and doing that requires something else, etc. It's a Chain of Deals with unlockables.
  3. The prize is put on sale after fulfilling a condition. Now you have the privilege of spending your in-game money (or worse) to unlock it.

See also: You Shouldn't Know This Already, New World Tease, Level-Locked Loot. Not to be confused with Two-Keyed Lock. In a worst case scenario, there is a Bonus Feature Failure at the end of the road.


Examples

Videogame Examples
  • In general, unlocking something in a modern Roguelike game just means that the item has been added to the Random Drop system.
  • Red Dead Redemption does this with multiplayer unlocks. After maxing out to level 50 you are given the option to "Pass into legend" which will give you a star on you profile but also revert you back to level 1 and all unlockables will be lost. However you will gain unlockables, mainly new skins and mounts that were previously unavailable. You can do this four more times, each time with regular unlockables being unlocked at earlier and earlier levels. There are some unlockables that require you to reach level 50 five times.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops and its sequel have this for its multiplayer. You have to reach a certain level requirement to unlock a gun, or meet certain conditions to unlock a perk's Pro version. In both cases, you still need to spend COD Points (the former) or an unlock token (the latter) on the gun or perk to actually obtain it. This is somewhat balanced by actually making guns available earlier than they usually would be in earlier games, and whenever you buy any given weapon in the former, all of its attachments are immediately available for purchase.
    • Battlefield 3 does similar in its multiplayer. The "Back to Karkand" and "Close Quarters" expansions each introduce 10 new unlockable weapons (eight split up for each of the four kits, two kit-independent). However, half of the weapons' relevant assignments are initially locked, and progress made towards unlocking any given one of them will only count once you've completed a specific earlier assignment (i.e. the assignment to unlock B2K's L85A2 requires you to unlock the FAMAS first).
  • Rhythm Heaven's guitar lessons are unlocked by beating a guitar mini-game. However, each song requires a number of medals to actually play, and at the point the mode is unlocked, you probably won't have enough medals for even one song.
    • Battle of the Bands is unlocked for finishing the game. It consists of two modes, both of which require an A rank on all the guitar lessons for that mode, which, as mentioned, takes medals... a lot of them.
  • 100% Completion in Crash Team Racing requires all 18 relics, which merely requires a solid time trial time in all 18 races. In an extended example of variant #2, one of the races is only unlocked by getting all 5 gems. Gems can be earned in cup races, which themselves are locked until you get 4 CTR tokens for each. Most CTR tokens each require the player to collect 3 letters during a race. Also, you need two out of four Boss Keys to even access the room with the portals to the cup races. All for that last eighteenth relic.
  • The unlock systems in Kirby Air Ride and Super Smash Bros.. Brawl skirt with this. The way it works is that when you complete a "challenge" in those games, the surrounding challenges are revealed, and certain challenges unlock prizes when completed. It never reveals the prize itself ahead of time though, only a silhouette which you can probably use to tell what kind of unlock it is.
    • Also, some challenges only say "Complete ????" when the thing to do isn't even unlocked yet. Though revealing the challenge isn't a prerequisite to unlocking it; it'll open if you fulfill the challenge even without knowing what it is. Since the board starts out blank, some of the challenges are simple things you're bound to do fairly quickly, thus starting the cycle.
    • Sega used the same method for Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games.
    • Kid Icarus: Uprising has a similar system, but one type of challenge reward is a straight example of this trope: when you see "Weapon Unlocked: [Weapon Name]" it means that it's now possible to get said weapon via Item Crafting or a Random Drop, but the unlock itself won't give you the weapon. The exception is the Zodiac Chambers, which give you both the weapon and the ability to make more.
  • Mario Party 7 had the King of the River mode. Basically, you just play mini-games, one after another, against computers, until you've made it through. Just spent your hard-earned points on it? Hope you've played all the mini-games that appear in it, because letting you play a mini-game here before playing it elsewhere would just be asking for too much.
  • Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 had a triple unlock... you had to unlock the fact that a bonus existed (seriously), then the right to buy it, and then actually purchase it.
    • Not just Extreme 2. Super NOVA and Super NOVA 2 had double unlocks at minimum: to attain certain songs, you'd have to complete other songs in "Master Mode" with challenges that range from pointlessly simple (such as "get a D-rank on this easy song") to insanely hard ("beat this really hard song with all the notes switched around, flowing in reverse, shaped like bumble bees, and accelerating as they approach the hit zone") — or you could just play the standard game for a long time to gain the unlocks instead. But that would only unlock the appearance of the song in the shop. You'd then have to buy the songs with in-game credits. And unfortunately, gaining credits is done by making a high rank on a song, which means the best way to gain credits is to replay songs you can Full Combo until you're utterly sick of them. Hypothetically, the fastest way to gain credits is to repeatedly Full Combo the boss songs on Expert or Challenge, although that's also the fastest way to give yourself a heart attack. (Plus few players can FC those songs at all, much less do it consistently.) Realistically, the harder songs require more work for the same reward, and you'll gain credits faster if you ignore them.
  • Though Microsoft's Beyond The Limit: Ultimate Climb is set in the American Southwest, you can unlock a room that purportedly leads to an Arctic world. However, there is no way to unlock that world within the game and the would-be expansion pack was never released.
  • Pump It Up: NX2 and NX Absolute has this if the player uses a USB stick to save their profile. Through the game's mission mode, you unlock various remixes and extra charts. This merely makes them show up in the song select screen; once you actually try to play the songs, you find that you must pay milage (the game's equivalent of experience) to be able to play the charts.
  • In DJMAX Portable 2, you can unlock different user interfaces, characters, and note skins...which you must purchase with gold earned from playing songs. Some of these items require you to pay many, many songs' worth of gold. DJMAX Fever, based off of Portable 2's engine, alleviates this somewhat by making them much cheaper. Alternatively, if you're extremely patient, you can get the unlockables through playcount...except, you need at least 2,000 song plays to start getting the unlocks.
    • And in DJMAX Trilogy, this unlock system applies to songs as well. And not just that, in order to unlock them in Free Play mode, you must, after purchasing them, play them in Stage mode.
  • Resident Evil Outbreak has the typical Concept Art Gallery, bonus modes and Secret Characters to purchase with points earned from playing the scenarios.
    • Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil 5, and Resident Evil 6 all have unlockable special weapons/figures that first have to be unlocked through either progressing through the game or getting the secret collectibles that then have to be bought with an inordinate amount of money/skill points. In the case of RE6 the secret unlockable skills are master skills for each weapon class unlocked through killing a certain amount of enemies with it before having to be bought and infinite ammo for completing the campaign.
      • RE 5 has triple unlocks too. To get infinite ammo for most weapons you have to finish the campaign, fully upgrade one of the weapon, then purchase the ability for infinite ammo from the main menu with skill points.
  • F-Zero GX also requires purchasing things in a shop after you have 'unlocked' them. Unlike other examples, currency is absurdly easy to come by.
    • Especially if you are fortunate enough to live near an arcade with F-Zero AX—take your memory card to the machine and play a few rounds. Guaranteed currency for finishing a race.
  • The Dreamcast port of Capcom vs. SNK had quite a few double unlocks. Most egregious: To unlock the secret characters Nakoruru and Morrigan, you had to first buy all of the extra colors of the characters from the respective companies. This allowed you to buy Nakoruru's (for SNK) and Morrigan's (for Capcom) "shadows", which meant that you could fight them in the middle of a tournament if your scores were high enough. Only after defeating both of them in the aforementioned manner and after buying the EX versions of their respective companies' characters could you buy them and unlock them for play. Playing as the game's True Final Boss, Akuma, required a repeat of the process — buying Morrigan and Nakoruru, unlocking Akuma's shadow, getting to Akuma and winning against him in the final fight, and finally buying him. For those without the Neo-Geo Pocket and a copy of SNK vs. Capcom: Match of the Millennium, these requirements were onerous and grinding indeed.
  • The WWE SmackDown / SmackDown vs. Raw series has a bit of this. The run of games from 2006 to 2008 required achieving things to unlock (most) of the legends, after which they could be purchased in the game's shop. Most egregious, though, is the fourth game, Shut Your Mouth - in it, in order to play as Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, or X-Pac in the story mode you had to first get through about a year's worth of playtime until their role popped up, then win at certain shows and choose to unlock each of them when given a set of choices. The problem being they were unlocked from the start for exhibition play anyway.
  • Excitetruck and Excitebots have a lot of this. The designs for some of the bots are a double unlock hidden behind a triple unlock. First, you need to 1) finish the regular difficulty to reveal the shadows of the bots, then 2) earn enough lifetime stars to reveal the bots in full, then 3) have enough stars on you to purchase the bot. Secondly, you need to 1) play 15 races with the unlocked bot to reveal the special design for it, and 2) get 25 S-grade finishes, which don't start counting until you reveal the design.
  • Soul Calibur IV has this. Upon getting so many achievements/Honors, a you'll unlock the ability to purchase more equipment for Character Creation. Likewise, clearing a character's story mode unlocks the ability to buy their Ultimate and Joke weapon.
    • Though to be fair, the game gives you another option: Character Creation equipment could also be unlocked by fulfilling certain conditions on certain floors of the Tower of Lost Souls. If you already unlocked and bought that piece of equipment by earning the achievements/Honors, the floor reward becomes that piece's value in gold. Most players found the achievements/Honors option much easier, as the Tower was punishingly difficult without skill and the proper equipment setup.
    • Soul Calibur 3 does this with its weapons and certain gallery items, requiring you to beat someone using the weapon in Tales of Souls or completing the same mode as a character to make the respective items available in the shops. SC 4 also inherited the part about unlockable character design pieces from here. SC 3 is kind enough to give you new characters and stages upfront when you beat them once, however.
  • In Tokimeki Memorial Drama Series Vol. 3 : Tabidachi no Uta, if you happen to have Data saves with cleared games of the first two games in the Drama Series, Nijiiro no Seishun and Irodori no Love Song, and thus want to see the unlockable special Bonus Scenarios linked to them available in Tabidachi, you need first to complete either of Shiori or Miharu's routes with a Good Ending, as it's the condition to unlock Tabidachi's Omake section, where the Bonus Scenarios lie.
  • The first Drawn to Life loves this. When you get an item in a stage, it says you unlocked it, only for it to appear in the shop. And unlike many games, there's no really quick way to earn a lot of coins, meaning it's quite an annoying task.
    • To add onto that, one of the items that's found in stages is the animation bubble, which lets your character do a little Easter Egg pose when purchased. Except you have to find THREE of them in different levels before one appears in the shop for about quadruple the price of most other items.
  • In Monday Night Combat, you earn Pro Tags by accomplishing various actions during gameplay, but you still have to buy them to make the usable.
    • Pro tags have no actual purpose beyond selecting one to appear next to your name. Once you buy the custom classes (which, technically, you could buy one of and just recustomize each time you want to change classes, taking probably less than an hour to get), money has no purpose other than to buy pro tags.
  • In the Facebook game Crazy Planets, some of the medals involved having all the robots in a level be frozen at once. However, the only weapon that freezes robots is the Ice Rocket, which is a weapon you must build. And to build it, you have to collect the necessary gems and metals. At least the other weapon-specific challenges involved the two you start the game with (Bazooka and Grenade).
  • Final Fantasy Tactics A2 has your characters learn skills from your equipment. To get the better quality equipment, you turn in loot at the bazaar, which gives you the ability to buy that particular piece of equipment. For the most beneficial equipment, turning in a set of loot only lets you buy that item once; when you want more than one of said item, you have to turn in another loot-set.
    • Most of the advanced job classes also fall under this trope. To be able to use a different job, you need to master abilities from another job that is required. To get the more advanced jobs like Master Monk and Assassin, you have to complete missions related to these jobs so that you can unlock the said jobs, and then you start mastering abilities from other jobs as normal in order to gain access to the job. This was done to prevent players from entering a Game Breaker territory by getting advanced jobs way too soon, something that Final Fantasy Tactics Advance had problems with.
    • Speaking of the Assassin class, the Assassin job itself is a double unlock. To be able to become an Assassin, you have to master abilities from the Sniper and Elementalist jobs and those two jobs also require abilities from other classes. Some players prefer to wait until they can hire a Viera into the clan and hope the new recruit is an Assassin by default.
  • Beating New Super Mario Bros. Wii unlocks World 9. But only the world, if you actually want to *gasp* play its levels, you need to get all the Star Coins in every world (Each world unlocks one level). Have fun.
  • In order to unlock the very last mission in Super Mario Galaxy 2, you must both get the normal star in Grandmaster Galaxy, get the Comet Medal in it, and deposit 9999 Star Bits in the bank located in the Faceship.
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns:
    • Beating the final boss reveals the game's secret world. In the original Wii version, it only has one level, but in the Nintendo 3DS version, it has nine levels (with the new ones being examples of All The Worlds Are A Stage). Regardless, if you want to play it, you need to get the eight orbs from the Nintendo Hard hidden temple levels. Which themselves require that you get all the KONG letters in the other levels.
    • In order to unlock the hidden dioramas, it's not enough to get all of the puzzle pieces in the aforementioned temples: The bosses must be defeated as well.
    • The same can be applied to the gallery images of Tiki Tong Tower and Tiki Tong, which require both collecting the puzzle pieces in levels 8-6 and 8-7 and defeating the final boss.
  • Much like the Tokimeki Memorial example above, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn has an Old Save Bonus that allows you to read again the Support Conversations you unlocked on Path Of Radiance, the previous game (A good thing, since unlike the previous two games, Path Of Radiance lacked a support reviewer). However, in order to unlock the option you need to beat Radiant Dawn first.
  • Kirby's Epic Yarn turns this into a Chain of Deals. Dom Woole wants to build new apartment expansions but needs a hefty amount of beads, which you get by completing stages. The expansions create rooms that need to be decorated with certain pieces to attract tenants. To get the pieces you have to progress the plot to access the stages that contain the pieces you then need to find. Once the tenants arrive you play their minigame stages to get new fabric textures, but unlocking new minigame stages requires completing the previous minigame stages as well as being able to access the main game stages that the minigame stages take place in. Naturally, all the fabric textures are part of earning 100% Completion. Whew!
    • In a much simpler example, some of the furniture pieces available for purchase only appear once you get far enough into the game, helpfully announced by the shopkeeper.
  • Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days has two examples; first, if you get one of the components for something you can synthesize, the recipe will appear in the menu and you can tell what you still need to get (often, something that won't be offered as either a mission reward or enemy drop for quite some time). Second, the Moogle shopkeeper will withhold items and synthesis recipes until the plot dictates that Saix inform you that you've been promoted.
  • The Armory in Halo: Reach reveals new armour permutations for your Noble Six at every rank milestone, but you can't actually use them unless you reach a higher rank and have enough credits to buy it.
  • The second Digital Devil Saga game of the Shin Megami Tensei series uses this for its skill system. On the hexagon-shaped skill-screen, you have to purchase an available skill pack, then master it to unlock the skills around it. Then, you have to buy those and master them if you want to learn them, which in turn unlocks more skills to buy and master.
  • Final Fantasy XII's License Grid system. To equip a new item or learn a new ability, you must buy the item/ability from the store with Gil, then purchase the relevant License on the character's personal License Grid with LP. In another level of Double Unlock, potential Licenses are not revealed until you purchase the adjacent Licenses on the grid.
  • Everything in Dissidia: Final Fantasy and its sequel is this. You beat the Story Mode? You just unlocked the ability to purchase new game modes, music, items, etcetera. Then, purchasing enough things will give you an Achievement, giving you yet another item.
  • Progress in Crystal Towers 2 is this almost exclusively. To use a level's teleport ring you need to physically reach it, which often requires a spell from another level, then meet the threefold entry requirements of a number of orbs, gems and keys, the latter being quite well-hidden.
    • Access to later levels requires the use of multiple spells granted by items which you build yourself. You must first find the hidden recipe, then collect the ingredients (some of which will need to be crafted themselves - or you could gather other collectibles to improve the rate at which they drop from foes), then finally use the synthesis machine in the middle of the castle. Then, assuming you can find the level, you must meet the aforementioned orb, gem and key requirements.
    • Several of the more obvious levels can't be reached until you've sacrificed copious amounts of your precious synthesis ingredients to open a path.
  • Beat Hazard Ultra has perks that you first need to earn points to unlock. And then you have to buy them with collected cash and finally you have to select to use a limited number of them.
  • Ar Tonelico 2 has a triple unlock. In order to get an IPD Reyvateil to help amplify your song magic, you must 1: Track her down and defeat her (And the high level IPDs are stronger than most bosses). 2: Go to a dive center and treat her illness (Sometimes requires an item before you can attempt it, making it possibly a quadruple unlock if you don't have or can't easily get the item in question). 3: After curing her, perform a unique and fairly pointless subquest to make her like you. Once that is done, you can visit her in her home town and she will agree to help you.
  • In Hello Kitty Roller Rescue, you unlock items for free, but aside from outfits you must buy them once they're made available.
  • White Knight Chronicles and its sequel stack many interlocking locks on you. Equipment, including the much-hyped Arc Knight, is restricted by level, guild rank, binding rank, available Dhalia, and available materials. Yet the game has no qualms about dangling its unattainable goodies in front of you and going, "You'll never get this! You'll never get this! LA LA LA LA LA!"
  • Solatorobo allows you to listen to any music you've heard and any cutscenes you've viewed... if you purchase them. Cutscenes can be purchased with in-game money (usually for 300-500 rings, which is quite cheap), but music must purchased using notes, which can only be found by climbing off your Mini-Mecha and collecting them from a phonograph or the oddly-musical hornweed plant.
  • In Advance Wars, Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising, and Advance Wars: Dual Strike, new maps,COs, and outfits must be unlocked by progressing through the Campaign mode, then purchased in the in-game shop with the points won for completing Campaign and War Room missions. In a similar fashion, unlocking new units in the Campaign requires finding a map in one mission, then beating another one (sometimes with a time limit). Days of Ruin does away with the store, and grants the player the ability to use certain COs in versus mode just by completing certain missions
  • As is tradition for the series, Inazuma Eleven GO has Loads and Loads of Characters of which most can be recruited as Optional Party Members, with some having various prerequisites such as having recruited another character firstnote  or having reached a certain point in the story. But unlike previous games, some of the Post-End Game Content characters in GO have some ridiculously byzantine requirements, such as items that can only be gotten from random drops or through local multiplayer, and characters which require up to three other characters to all be recruited first, each of which can require up to three more characters, and so on. To get Aphrodi, for example, you must traverse a ternary tree of depth 4 with 26 other characters. And also unlike previous installments, there's no Connection Map to chart all this out for you (and in previous installments, the Connection Map requirements were Boolean ORs instead of ANDs note ). In short, it's a Type 2 taken Up to Eleven.
  • Unlocking bonus characters in Jet Set Radio Future is an extreme example. First, you'd need to find a cassette with a list of challenges on it. Then you'd need to complete all of those challenges, causing graffiti souls to appear. Collecting all of the graffiti souls would unlock a series of time trials, and after finishing all of those with a high enough score you would finally unlock a new character. If you wanted all the characters, you would have to do this for every stage.
  • The research upgrades in Mass Effect 2. You have to find the tech in the game, then you can use your raw resources to research it on the Normandy. It was a big Scrappy Mechanic, and didn't return in Mass Effect 3.
  • Infinity Blade has a number of examples. You have to defeat the God-King to unlock the titular Infinity+1 Sword, but you still need to gather the necessary gold to buy it from the store, too. It's not THAT expensive, though. On the other hand, there's a full set of Infinity Plus One Gear that is unlocked by defeating the Bonus Boss and entering New Game+ - it's pretty much the best gear in the game, but it's LUDICOUSLY expensive, and all beating the Bonus Boss does is make it appear in your store to taunt you with its enormous price. And then there's the 'Black Edition' of that same gear, which is arguably even more powerful, though geared heavily towards a Glass Cannon setup - to unlock that, you have to enter Negative Bloodline mode, which automatically equips you with the gear but prevents you from changing any of it as long as you're in Negative Bloodline. Then reach Bloodline -10 to get an achievement, and return to the 'normal' bloodline by starting over from Bloodline 1. The uber-powerful Black Gear disappears from your inventory as soon as you return to normal play, but now you have the option of buying it from the store! For an even higher price than the ordinary Infinity Plus One Gear!
    • ...needless to say, the game allows you to buy gold with real money. One might argue that all that gear exists solely to tempt you into shelling out a few bucks for a big enough pile of gold to actually use them, since it'd take EPIC amounts of grinding to get otherwise.
  • The Binding of Isaac has random item generation, so even if you unlock generation of an item (A Rock has appeared in the basement!), there's no guarantee you'll get it in any given playthrough. The only exceptions to this are items that are starting equipment for a recently unlocked character (and with the exception of the D6, which becomes Isaac's starting equipment if unlocked, every character's starting equipment unlocks at the same time as the character) and an item which is required to enter the expansion pack's most final of final levels.
  • Sword of the Stars has a randomized tech tree, so you can miss certain techs. However, if you defeat ships using a tech or have a friend who has it, you can start a special project to get the tech. As you can probably tell by reading the rest of this page, a special project only gives you the ability to research the tech, not the tech itself. The sequel took this Up to Eleven by making all high-level techs require a "feasibility study," which would allow you to research the tech if successful. You can bypass this if you manage to salvage the tech; presumably, the reasoning is that you managed to pick up a working sample to reverse-engineer as opposed to starting from theory.
  • Marvel Avengers Alliance has Premium Missions (one per chapter) which are unlocked by recruiting a certain hero. These missions are also the sixth and last of the chapter and are not playable until the player had played each of the previous five missions at least once.
    • Recruiting Squirrel Girl requires doing a series of ten tasks, one of which requires finding fifteen of an item that Randomly Drops from enemies, one of which requires researching an item that takes eight hours to finish, and two of which require recruiting and training other expensive characters. Once all ten tasks are complete, you win... the ability to buy Squirrel Girl (and she's one of the game's most expensive characters). In addition to all of this, there's a time limit, after which the tasks will disappear and you won't be able to get her at all.
  • PAYDAY: The Heist has the most insane double unlock there is thanks to the Teasing Creator giving extremely vague hints. There is a secret hidden somewhere in the game and its clues can only be found in the DLC level Counterfeit. You have to do the following:
    • Have all players stand in very specific spots in the map to hear static and then decode the static to see its image.
    • Use various props and other items strewn in the map to see how the clues can come together (some clues are just a Red Herring).
    • Find out that the clues lead to another level, which is First World Bank.
    • Play First World Bank with everyone using the golden masks, which in order to acquire, you have to have beaten all the original heists on the highest difficulty level (Overkill 145+).
    • Stand in very specific spots in the bank to reveal a switch.
    • Press the switch to reveal a hidden door and use the drill on it, to which you must wait 2 hours for the drill to finish.
    • Enter the secret room and press some specific tiles on the floor. Pressing the wrong ones releases gas that kills you. Do it correctly and you open the vault revealing a stash of gold bars and some masks. You're not exactly done just yet! In order to qualify for the prize that Overkill plans to release later on, you have to send them a video recording of your team's successful attempt to open the vault. Oh, and players only get 30 days to attempt this challenge.
      • In short, to even qualify for the secret, you have to have beaten all the levels at the highest difficulty since anyone else who didn't do that are not eligible to see the vault. Less than 1% of the player base have the gold masks.
  • The Lego adaption game series is built on this trope. You have to first find the item (extra characters or cheats or whatever) you want to unlock during the different stages or areas, then you have to pay for them with the Lego studs you've been collecting. You will almost always have many more things waiting to be bought than you have studs to pay for them.
  • Everything available through the black market in Just Cause 2 - first you have to cause enough chaos to unlock something, and then you have to spend in-game money to have it delivered to you. This makes most DLC weapons Awesome, but Impractical at best, as, being DLC, nobody else uses them, and therefore if you run out of the tiny amount of ammo you're given for them (no upgrading these things, they're already at max level), you have to buy it again.
  • Upgrades in Saints Row: The Third not only require a metric ton of cash to purchase, but also require you to be at a certain Respect level to even have the option. Managing to find and kill Professor Genki can help with that, but only so much.
  • Slayer Deeds in The Lord of the Rings Online work this way. You can earn small but significant stat bonuses, called "virtues," by grinding through lots and lots of mobs in the game's various regions. The first deed lets you know which mobs you have to kill in a particular region; (orcs/goblins/trolls/etc) the second deed shows you what virtue you'll actually get and just how many mobs you have to kill.
  • Crimson Gem Saga requires you to unlock the ability to see what skill you want to get, then pay to get the skill using the same points you just used. To make matters worse, the points come in very small amounts from defeating enemies.
  • Warframe: To craft some weapons or Warframes, you need a certain Mastery Level, which requires you to level up other weapons or Warframes first. And for some of those, you first need to craft components before you can craft the item proper.
  • In most of the Disgaea games, you start with only a few available character classes, and have to meet certain conditions to unlock new ones. Then, upon meeting the requirements for a given class, you must then pass a bill via the Dark Assembly before you can actually create any characters of that class. However, as of Disgaea D2, the second step is no longer necessary.
  • A cross-medium example: one of Mortal Kombat 3's Kombat Kodes simply displays "Hold Flippers During Casino Run" on the screen. Most people would probably be confused as to what "Casino Run" is, but pinball fans may know that the text actually means "hold both flippers during the 'Casino Run' Wizard Mode in Jack*Bot to receive game hints".
  • Pokémon X and Y creates a trading related Double Unlock with Mega Houndoom and Mega Manectric. Houndour can only be caught in X, and Electrike can only be caught in Y, but their respective Mega Stones can only be found in the version they're not native to.
    • Same thing for the Aggronite, Tyranitarite, Aggron and Tyranitar. Larvitar and Aggronite are in Y, Aron and Tyranitarite in X.
  • The Legend of Zelda I has a bow you get from a dungeon, but you need to buy the arrow from a shop as well before it's usable. Even then, it costs rupees to fire arrows.
  • Ratchet & Clank: Into The Nexus requires a triple unlock to get the RYNO VIII, the strongest weapon in the game. First, you have to find the blueprints for said weapon. Then, in order to actually build the weapon, you have to open a vault, which requires 6 keys. However, one of the keys is in possession of the Smuggler, who will exchange it for a lot of Gargathon Horns.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, the Vault 34 armory has a quadruple unlock. First, you have to retrieve the security terminal passwords from the flooded rooms, then access the first terminal to drain the water so you can access the Security Station, where you use the second terminal to unlock the Overseer's quarters, where only then can you unlock the armory. Similarly, to reach the lower levels of Vault 22, if you don't have a high enough Repair skill to fix the elevator, you have to use the Overseer's terminal to unlock the Quarters, which contain the keycard for the caves between the Food Production and Pest Control floors.
    • In Dead Money, the password for the Switching Station's Remote Maintenance Terminal, if you don't have a high enough Science skill, is in a locker that you need to find a key for if your Lockpick skill isn't sufficient. The Casino Vault at the end is a triple unlock; first you have to download the three ambient music tracks in the Restaurant, Suites, and Casino, then combine the musics at the lobby terminal, then finally, have Christine say Vera's password at the elevator microphone, or if you killed her, play Vera's audition holotape.
  • Weapons and items in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker requires the player to first find the confidential documents to develop them and the MSF's tech level (plus medical, intel and/or catering level depending on the item) to be sufficiently high along with sufficient GMP. Some equipment has other requirements, such as technical staff with certain abilities (e.g. Optical Technology to develop weapons with laser sights).
  • Mega Man X8 has the playable Navigators, who play as female counterparts to the Maverick Hunters. To unlock them, however, requires maxing out the Maverick Hunters' stats and abilities, beat the game to earn one of the Navigator's weapon — the first one depends on who you used the most during your playthough, and the pay for the weapon itself to unlock them. To unlock the other two in your New Game+, you have to use them as Mission Control multiple times until their weapon becomes available in the R&D Lab. Also, you have to do this on at Normal as Easy mode axes any New Game+ goodies you could have unlocked on a higher difficulty (but at least you can take all of your Metals into your next round on Normal).
  • A Triple Unlock in Game Dev Tycoon. In order to even be able to research a game aspect, you first need to reach a certain level with one or two other aspects (by making games with them, of course). Then, after you spend money and research points to research the aspect, you have to include it in a brand-new game engine, which can take a while to develop depending on the number of aspects included and may cost a few million for a high-end engine. Only then can you utilize that aspect in your next game.
  • World of Warcraft often has faction rewards tied to one's reputation with the faction, and which must then be purchased with coins or certain tokens. This was the case for Valor Point gear in Mists of Pandaria, although it became easier to purchase over time.
  • In DLC Quest, the "DLC," which, in this game, includes not only cosmetic upgrades, but also things you need to move onward, and even some basic features, must not only be bought with in-game currency, but often must be found (often by going up to something that you can't get past without it).
  • Animal Crossing: New Leaf has public works projects. While a few are unlocked automatically when you gain the ability to build PWPs, most have to be unlocked separately, usually by waiting for a villager to suggest it, although a few have different unlock conditions (for example, you unlock the Fortune-Teller's Shop by visiting Katrina 20 times). Then you have to talk with Isabelle to start construction and raise Bells to actually build the thing.
  • In Mini Robot Wars, in order to get upgrades for your Minirobots, you first need to beat the level that gets you the upgrade, then buy the upgrade with metal in the lab.
  • Dragon Quest IX: There are twelve vocations, each giving a total of 200 skill points at level 99. However, there are twenty-six 100-point skill categories, meaning that to have all skills maxed out you need to get a character to level 99 in a vocation and revocate it, dropping him back to level 1 so you can start grinding again. At least revocating has the effect of improving the random treasure map drops and can be done 10 times.
  • In Crypt Of The Necrodancer, there are shops in the lobby, and most of the items being sold in them are bought to allow those very same items to appear in the dungeon.
  • In Dragon's Crown, you can eventually unlock the option of changing the Narrator's voice to that of any of the six playable classes. How do you do this? By clearing the game on Normal once with that character to reveal his/her voice pack in Lucain's shop, then paying 1 million gold each to actually unlock them. Unless you're prepared to forego more important purchases like equipment appraisals and potions in an attempt to save up for them, the only time you'll get to hear these different voices is when you've already done nearly everything in the game... or by purchasing the unlock key from the Playstation Store. To be fair, said unlock key was offered for free during the game's first few weeks of release, and its regular price from then on is pretty low.

Non-Video Game Examples
  • A non-video game example: In order to win the million dollars in Wheel of Fortune, the contestant must:
    1. Land on the wedge, which is 1/3 the width of normal wedges and flanked by 1/3-size Bankrupts.
    2. Call a letter that's in the puzzle.
    3. Solve that round's puzzle without first hitting a Bankrupt.
    4. Win the game without hitting Bankrupt.
    5. Land on the $1,000,000 envelope (which replaces the normal top prize of $100,000), one of 24 envelopes on the Bonus Wheel.
    6. Solve the bonus puzzle.
    • Despite all those barriers, it happened. Twice.
    • The show also has the ˝ Car tags in Rounds 1 through 3. Both of these must be claimed, not necessarily in the same round, to win a car. It's made slightly easier in that, if one tag is picked up in a round, it is replaced in the next one (unless of course, the car is won).
  • Stand up comedian Dara Ó Briain invokes a meta example of this; on the basis that he's a working parent with barely any time, he finds this when Guitar Hero expects him to unlock specific songs despite the fact he already bought them:
    The game says "No! You have to unlock it! That's the way the game works!" and you go "Yeah, I'm thirty-eight. I unlocked it in a shop with a credit card: give me my fucking content."
  • Treasure Trails basically use a recursive version of this concept. Each clue gives you the information you need to find the next clue, with only the last clue telling you where the prize is.
  • Winning any money in The Chase works like this, in that you have to not only get it through your own 'chase' by answering questions but then win the All or Nothing Final Chase with whoever else on the team gets through to actually win it at the end.
  • Ever open a Barbie doll before? It's hard work!
    1. Open the box, and pull out the cardboard slab she's tied to.
    2. Untwist the metal ties around Barbie's arms, legs, and torso, and pull them through the holes in the cardboard.
    3. Remove the plastic binding Barbie's hair.
    4. Remove Barbie's accessories, taking care to account for the hair brush which is almost always included.
    • Similarly, My Little Pony got into this for the Friendship is Magic line. You'd think Hasbro bought a tape company, given the massive amount of it usually holding the packaging closed and the pony's mane in place. YouTube toy reviews tend to skip the unboxing, because it would take up at least half of the video otherwise. The way it works with a standard "Playful Pony" is:
    1. Remove the clear plastic front of the package from the cardboard back. note 
    2. Remove the tape from the pony's hair, and possibly at least one of their legs as well.
    3. Remove the plastic binding from the pony's hair. (Yes, they put tape on top of the binding!)
    4. Remove various accessories, which may also be taped to the cardboard backing. note 

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