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Elite Tweak
Strategy and some patience rewards this character with good stats and abilities.

Unless you aren't sure how to acquire their best stuff, since this character doesn't "naturally" level up in a normal intuitive way. Then you're stuck with someone rather lame without a strategy guide.

This tends to be included mainly in games which give you multiple characters, but make them almost seamlessly interchangable. In games like Dragon Quest, each class has definite strengths and weaknesses. In games like Final Fantasy VII, it's very easy to make all of your characters equally strong with almost identical ability lists. This goes even further in Final Fantasy X, where it is possible, if time consuming, to give all of your characters the exact same abilities, barring the short list of character-specific Overdrives. The worst offender, however, is Final Fantasy VIII's Junction system. Using the "switch junction" ability in the menu actually places all the stats and abilities on one character onto another.

In MMORPGs the tweaking gains an additional dimension. Due to the grind-based requirements for most of the good stuff, the best upgrades can be freakishly hard to get even if the player knows the exact items and stats needed. The 'strongest' combinations are often set in stone and only available through Bribing Your Way to Victory or sinking huge amounts of time into a game.

Compare Lethal Joke Character. Contrast Parabolic Power Curve.

The Magikarp Power is an Elite Tweak to an initially-weak character.

Examples:

  • Blue Mages in Final Fantasy games acquire a variety of unique and useful spells, but require you to seek out specific monsters (with little in-game hinting) and be hit by those spells.
    • This trend is broken occasionally, resulting in truly powerful abilities. Quina, the Blue Mage in Final Fantasy IX, can learn abilities by eating monsters. If you play his/her sub-game enough and eat the right monsters, you can have an attack spell that always hits for 9999 damage, and another spell that resurrects and fully heal everyone — before the end of disk 2.
      • Maximizing stat growth, however, requires late game gear like the Robe of Lords which is very. Some perfectionists players Elite Tweak by keeping the characters as close to level one as much as possible until they can Robes for at least four of their characters. Quina, ironically, is the worst example as s/he has an option between being a melee character (strength), a spell using character (magic), or balanced.note  Some 100% Completion players have problems with that.
      • Even at level 1 it's possible to have powerful characters. Way, way before you get Eiko in the party, you can power her up by letting Marcus go to town with the HP-absorbing Blood Sword during the Alexandria escape. Any stat bonuses he accrues from equipment will be transferred to Eiko when you get her, and she also enjoys an increase in ability-enabling Magic Stones. Freya's Dragon Crest powers up according to how many dragon-type enemies are killed, and you can kill one dragon-type in an encounter and then run away from the other to avoid gaining XP.
    • Final Fantasy VII doesn't have Blue Mages, but the same concept can be used by any character by equipping the "Enemy Skill" Materia, then letting the character be hit by whatever spell or ability you want the Materia to "learn". Play the game enough to get three mastered "Enemy Skill" Materia, and all characters in your party can cast these abilities.
      • For at least one (defensive) skill, it is necessary to use a Manipulate materia so that the ability is cast on the party instead of the monsters.
    • Final Fantasy X also makes it easier; to learn a spell, you have to have the resident Blue Mage Kimahri cast an auto-hit, free ability that also drains mana and health on the monster in question. Unfortunately, since these spells are his Overdrives, they aren't anywhere near as useful.
    • Final Fantasy VI: the spell in question just has to be used by a monster, not necessarily targeting Strago (the game's sole blue mage). Charming a monster, confusing a monster, having Relm control a monster, have Gau imitate a monster... there are numerous ways to learn the spells with Strago never getting scratched. The only reason he doesn't get called out as a Game Breaker is because there are a dozen things that break the game worse.
    • In the Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, certain abilities become Lost Forever as the Level Scaling makes some specific ability users extinct, and you can't share abilities among your own Blue mages. If you don't plan your blue mage beforehand, your only hopes are either having a low-level mission on your backlog with the required critters, or randomly encountering the one faction that uses blue mages, encountering an enemy blue mage in that fight, and that blue mage being randomly given the ability you need. And that one blue mage targetting your blue mage with that one ability.
    • Tactics Advance also has Morphers. To learn a monster-morphing ability, you need a monster soul weapon. To get that, you need to capture a monster and put it in the monster bank. To do that, you need to have a Hunter, who is a different class on a different race, use the Capture ability to catch the monster. And even after that, you need to feed the monster food it likes to power up the Morph.
  • Gau from Final Fantasy VI gains new Rages by Leaping at monster parties in the Veldt. The game tells you this, but some of the better rages are quite obscure. Like the Stray Cat. How would you know that a little tabby gives Gau an ability that lets him hit for 4x his usual damage?
  • A few of the recent ports of Final Fantasy games have the Onion Knight job class, which embodies this trope.
  • As mentioned in the introduction, Final Fantasy VIII. Kill lots of enemies to level up, but don't pay attention to your junctions, and you'll be destroyed. Farm enemies for magic and items while keeping your level low and you'll be unstoppable by disc one.
  • Many Tactical RPGs feature characters that can be grown to truly terrifying strength through delayed promotion — for example, Bleu from Shining Force and quite a few characters in the Fire Emblem series.
    • Those characters from Fire Emblem are commonly referred as 'The Est', a character with obnoxiously high stat development, but joins late game at a very low level relative to the game's progress curve. Est is well-known for not only being the first character with these characteristics, but also because this is true of her in all five games she appears in (including the two remakes of the original game). Ests are loved by elite tweakers for the fact that they are one of the few characters in the games that can reasonably Cap (or nearly Cap) most of their stats without the need of Stat-Up items before reaching the max level promoted.
    • Fire Emblem Gaiden and Sacred Stones, both regarded as being black sheeps by many of the series' fans, are loved by elite tweakers because of the ability to elite tweak any unit with enough patience due to being able to reenter specific levels, allowing players to level grind freely; something extremely situational, difficult, and risky(And often pointless) to do in any other Fire Emblem title. Sacred Stones also allows you to buy as many Stat-Up items as you can with the money you'll be getting from the levels or the drops.
    • Fire Emblem Awakening not only keeps the freely traversable world map of Sacred Stones and Gaiden, but it also reintroduces the Skill system of a few other past titles, wherein characters can learn abilities by reaching certain levels in a given class. It also features a special item, the Second Seal, which allows a unit to revert to level 1 in a different class. As skills are set to characters, leveling one over and over in different jobs can give them access to some powerful combinations. The Avatar and DLC/SpotPass units stand out in this regard by being able to switch to any class not specific to either a certain character or the opposite gender, giving them massive potential in the hands of someone not averse to mucho Level Grinding.
  • Fallout 3 can be cracked and broken like an egg with careful stat and equipment choices. Start a character with 9 INT and then go immediately to Rivet City to pick up the INT Bobblehead from Dr. Li. You now have maxed INT and are at level 2. INT directly affects how many skill points you get per level, at a rate of 2xInt, plus there is a Perk that increases this amount. In the space of four or five levels - an incredibly short time, as the first handfuls of levels are really easy to get - you can have Sneak and Small Guns maxed at 100, by which point you can also have picked up Lincoln's Repeater and a Dart Gun and if you have the DLC, the Chinese Stealth Suit. Congratulations, you are now a God of Death and you haven't even started the story quests. As you progress, you can pick up several perks that increase VATS accuracy, and VATS headshot accuracy. By this point, there is no longer any kind of difficulty curve and we have not reached level 20. At level 20, there is a perk called Grim Reaper's Sprint. This perk refunds all your AP, which is used in VATS, if you got any kills while in VATS. Adding all of this up, you now can effectively eradicate all life on the planet in one uninterrupted VATS chain of head-popping magnum rounds.
    • The only drawback to this is that the Lincoln's Repeater - the strongest small arms weapon in the game and repaired with the ubiquitous Hunting Rifles you will find literally everywhere and on everything - uses relatively rare and expensive Magnum Rounds. DLC The Pitt offers an easy out - an ammo press that can convert unused ammo into whatever bullets you want - otherwise, all you really need to do is memorize which vendors sell magnum rounds and how long it takes for them to restock.
    • Smart players also go to Tenpenny Tower immediately after Rivet City to pick up that Dart Gun schematic, and have been collecting parts for it in preparation. The Dart Gun instantly cripples both legs of any organic target on hit. There is no living creature in the game immune to this. In addition to being permanently slowed, Yao Guai and Deathclaws with crippled limbs cannot lunge. This means they retain their lethalness at dodderingly slow point-blank range, and laughably helpless beyond it.
    • A certain Perk gained at a relatively low level doubles the amount of Skill Points gained from reading books. It is thus highly advisable to hold off on reading any books until this Perk is gained.
    • Likewise, it is highly inadvisable to take any Perk that directly increases Skill Points, unless the Perk also includes a valuable additional affect, such as Cyborg, which increases several Skills, but also adds Damage Resistance.
    • Broken Steel introduces a whole new level of tweaking with the Almost Perfect perk. Start with INT 4 and any other stats you like, take Comprehension when it's available and read all the skill books (there are 25 per skill, so you don't need to have high int), take Almost Perfect at 30 and then get the stat increasing bobbleheads. Now you have 10 in all stats and 100 in all skills and are essentially god.
  • Fallout and Fallout 2 allow you to pick a special Character Trait at creation time. One such trait is "Fast Shot", which lets you trade the ability to make aimed shots for a 1 point reduction on the number of APs it takes to fire a gun. Given that you really need to use aimed shots to get criticals (which are awesomely effective) there seems little incentive... but then at level 12 you can get extra APs and then at level 15 you can get Fast Shot which gives a further 1AP reduction in firing time. Suddenly dangerous weapons like the Alien Blaster or Gauss Pistol become super-accurate super-efficient machineguns, popping up to 6 guys a turn. And then you get the Sniper perk at level 24 to make almost every one of your shots a critical anyway. Incredibly devastating.
  • In Dragon Quest IX, each character can advance each of the jobs separately. However, although spell lists are unique, the stat bonuses and skills stack across jobs. So, with enough grinding, you can build a not-so-squishy Wizard, or a Paladin with the agility of a master thief, or a Gladiator who can wear powerful shields (normally, a Gladiator cannot).
  • Disgaea (as well as pretty much any game from Nippon Ichi Software) is a wet dream for the elite tweaker, as you can level up individual items and generally push your characters to the point their statistics look like phone numbers.
    • A specific example in the game would be the Love Freak, Flonne. Leveling up normally, you either end up with a mage with very few spells, or a character with incredibly slow weapon mastery. Using the Master/Apprentice system properly, however, she can become a Disc One Nuke.
    • Phantom Brave gets special mention, because dang it, you can obliterate people with a level 3000 starfish. A STARFISH. Along with other great items.
      • Correction, you can obliterate level 3000 people with a level 20 starfish, if it has stats that a level 3000 anything would cry itself to sleep dreaming of having. Taking advantage of (read:abusing) the fusion system will allow you to create insane gear, as well as give your favorite phantoms all sorts of game-breaking skills.
    • Understanding the reincarnation system is vital to tweaking Disgaea characters. Beginners may find it unintuitive; you go all the way back to level 1, but with slightly better starting stats. However, all your future advancement is based on these stats; having them start higher will mean they eventually end up way higher. It is also the way to bring back generic classes as a higher version, with better aptitudes, which also will boost the speed at which stats increase. Originally doing this enough times meant generics could actually end up stronger than story characters, but later games had all of a story character's aptitudes increase by a flat 5% for each reincarnation. This worked up to five times, and meant that the earlier you started reincarnating your characters, the better.
  • Peco, the Blue Mage-type character in Breath of Fire III joins your party really late; most players ignore him, as he is particularly weak, even compared to other characters of the same level. However after a certain level barrier is broken, he starts getting stronger — fast. Aside from being able to learn ludicrously powerful plant-based monster abilities (he is, after all, a monster himself), his base stats jump to even greater levels than the main character.
    • Add to that his absurd HP score, 50% chance of counterattack and the attack formation's counterattack boost and 75% attack boost, and you have a true monster
    • Also bear in mind that he starts at level 1, which is another reason many ignore him, but means that he can get boosts to stats from masters for every levelup.
  • Some of the characters in Planescape: Torment can be mildly or even heavily "upgraded" by putting them through specific conversation chains, parts of which will only be available after certain (optional) events have occurred, or after the main character has achieved certain stat levels.
    • The best example of this is Dak'kon, who, when acquired, can give you lessons in his personal philosophy. If your intelligence and wisdom stats are high enough, however, you can give him lessons in his philosophy and remove his doubts in it, resulting in a significant stat boost for him.
      • An extension of the above is the Missile of Patience, a first level spell that's so useless you definitely won't waste time memorizing... Then, after a certain experience level, the Missile of Patience suddenly becomes an awesome weapon of mass destruction. Of course, by that time most other first level spells don't really cut it, and most players miss it altogether.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, the assassin-droid HK47 can literally be tweaked - upgraded - if you've got high enough Mechanical skill - providing him with various bonuses, and easily making him the strongest Droid character in the game.
    • In the sequel it's generally worth not leveling up your non-Jedi non-droid non-wookie followers since all but one of them can become Jedi and not leveling them up means that they get more Jedi levels (which are generally better than their initial class)
      • The same can be done in the first game to the player character. Through normal playing, one would become a Jedi at or around level 8 if they level whenever they can. By holding these off and being very careful and dependent on your companions, one can instead become a Jedi at level 3.
    • The sequel also offers one other Elite Tweak, the Consular route for a male Exile. While the game is somewhat infamous for the player characters becoming stupidly powerful, a male consular is absolutely ridiculous when paired up with the Handmaiden for a few rounds. She teaches you 'Battle Precognition' which allows the Exile to use his Wisdom Modifier, the highest stat anyway on a proper consular, to his Armor Class. And that's just the beginning...
  • Fina in Skies of Arcadia doesn't get weapon upgrades from stores or chests; you have to search for hidden items and accumulate a great deal of them before her Empathic Weapon, Cupil, levels up. And even then, it still sucks before you get every single one, at which time it becomes the Infinity+1 Sword.
  • Pokémon can learn otherwise-inaccessible moves through breeding, resulting in multiple "chain breedings" in order to get a mon that knows a certain move.
    • And if the player wants to put the effort into it, they can breed for good IVs. This involves several generations of breeding, and will probably require some inbreeding. And frequent references to a guide.
    • Some Pokemon, like Magikarp and Shroomish, learn very good moves if you don't evolve them immediately. Particularly, Magikarp gains Flail, one of the potentially strongest Normal attacks for Gyarados, 10 levels after it would initially evolve. Shroomish gains access to Spore, a 100% accuracy Sleep move, at level 45.
    • Pokemon also have invisible "Effort Values", very small stat boosts given by each species when defeated. Normally a Pokemon's EVs will be all over the place because it knocks out lots of different species as you battle trainers with it. With some planning (rather, "grinding the same species of Pokemon in the wild for a few hours"), these boosts can add up to produce about the same effects as good breeding.
    • And then you can combine all of the methods above, resulting in a Pokemon with about 40% better stats than normal which also knows incredibly rare moves. It also comes in handy for those that participate in Tournament Play, which allows Pokemon in lower-level tournaments to use moves normally not available to them.
  • Something similar to Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action can be done in most of the Shin Megami Tensei games—careful fusions of demons/personas can give the new ones very useful abilities they can't otherwise get. Due to the series' trademark Fusion Dance technology and Nintendo Hard action, you need to master it in order to avoid crippling beatdowns, protect your demons while negating their weaknesses, and overcome enemies by exploiting theirs.
    • Note that this is very important in game-play. Let's just say if that the player does not do this, he's in for a rough ride.
  • In the Game Gear game Crystal Warriors, Healers have very weak melee stats through level 8; get one to level 9 (the max) and suddenly he gains massive amounts of attack, defense, and hit points, becoming the most powerful melee unit in the game.
  • In the MMORPG Anarchy Online, Elite Tweak type characters are built due to the skill system employed in the game and the capability of any given character to use items and implants to boost those skills even further than before. The end result are characters that have impressive, frightening power levels and levels before they're supposed to actually have access to it. (many weapons, armor and nanos have no level locks to equip and use.)
  • Armored Core. Here's a breakdown on what to be elite tweaked: each titular Armored Core needs at least body, head, arms, legs, and generators. Most usually, it needs boosters, FCS and radiators (depending on the game). Equippable weapons include arm weapons (or weapon arms), back weapons, and/or spare weapons/extensions+insides. The weapons themselves range from puny handguns to grenade launchers, to anything in between, including, but not limited to: Attack Drones, arcing howitzers, missile launchers, lots of missile launchers, superlarge caliber gatlings, more gatlings, tactical nukes, mezzer weapons (lock-on disruptor, radar jammer, missile decoys), etc, etc, etc. The list goes on.
    • In the later games, also add the ability to tweak individual parts to have more power, less weight, more ammo, etc.
      • This trope is essentially the point of the series, perhaps even more-so than fighting mecha.
    • The same goes for other mecha battles such as Chrome Hounds and Phantom Crash.
  • The Quest for Glory games were built upon this. The games allowed one to carry over ones save (across 5 games no less!), keeping not just stats but abilities and spells too including the hidden (in the first few games that it appeared in) class, the Paladin. However, there were few other restrictions to what skills and such a player could gain or achieve; most notably, only a wizard could get a wizard's staff. Thus, by starting at the first adventure and playing all the way through to the last, a player could be a paladin with a magical sword and additional abilities... who was an elite member of the Thieves Guild, a powerful archmage, and a exceptionally powerful fighter. Being a guy in plate mail sneaking around doing acrobatics while stabbing the archvillain and chucking fireballs seems more suitable to anime than a game based off medieval Europe and Africa.
  • City of Heroes is a rather casual-oriented MMORPG where an optimum build isn't very important, and booting a player from a team from having anything other than a really bad build (I.E. Having nothing but travel powers) is considered a real dick move. However, there's still plenty of fun to be had for number crunchers with patience, especially with the Invention system- save up some money and you can literally push the limits of your offensive and defensive powers, allowing you to take on even the strongest enemies solo.
  • The Gadgeteer class in Wizardry 8 is a case of this. On the surface, they seem to just be rogues with guns and are weaker in combat, and start with a homebuilt gun that they occasionally tweak as they level up. The trick is finding gadget parts, which are usually far in between, and putting them together to assemble powerful weapons of destruction while that omnigun becomes one of the most potent ranged weapons in the game when its owner reaches a high enough level. If the player knows what she's doing, a Gadgeteer can become one of the most powerful characters in the party.
  • In the world of hyper-realistic racing simulators, tuning your car is everything. All allow you to do things like adjust almost every parameter of your suspension, mess around with your gear ratios, and the really hardcore ones let you even do the things such change the size of your radiator or add tape to your grill to control aerodynamics.. Even the amount of fuel you have is important, as less will mean you have a lighter car and will be faster and handle better. But, if you have more fuel, you can go longer before pitting and pass cars who have to pit more often....and that's just one factor.
  • Do not, do not, DO NOT miss the upgrade accessories for any character in the Super Nintendo RPG Sailor Moon: Another Story. Particularly Sailor Mercury, who's pathetically weak even with the upgrades and absolutely useless without them. And you play as her solo for an entire chapter.
  • Due to its utter lack of traditional experience levels and subsequent reliance on random drops and treasure chests, Castlevania: Harmony of Despair is all about elite tweaking. And the methods for tweaking your elites can be determined by very frustrating random variables.
  • The first Paper Mario initially promises a LOT of potential tweaking by sinking all your experience level-ups into Badge Points. Badges can give you really great and varied bonuses, letting you set up stats and abilities for each new situation. Alas, the BP cap maxes out just before it gets interesting. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door delivers much better, raising the level cap from 27 to 99 and raising the BP cap with it. In both games, one NPC can tweak Mario's stats for additional BP at the cost of his max HP and FP, and then the player compensates the handicap with badges that raise stats and that activate other boosts when Mario's HP is low (5 or under, regardless of level) and the "Danger!" warning flashes. Cue the dawning of the disgustingly powerful setup aptly known as Danger Mario.
  • Persona 3: With a bit of effort, Lilim can be fused with all four basic elemental spells, making her pretty much the only Persona you'll need to fight with until level 20 or so. Having no elemental weaknesses and a reasonably high magic stat is the icing on the cake.
  • Star Wars: Galaxies originally had a very dynamic levelling system that was absolutely ripe for abuse. Due to the nature of the game each player had a limited number of job points, but they can spread them out across as many jobs as they wanted. Theoretically, better skills require more points, but skills that might not be particularly valuable in a particular job (and thus, require less points to activate) could be absolutely devastating when combined with other skills in other job trees. Because the system had so many loopholes for abuse and because the game had a heavy PVP focus it was deemed basically "broken" and the entire gaming system was remade to a more traditional structure. However, by the time they made the change most of the dedicated players were only playing because they enjoyed the massively tweakable game engine... the game was killed by the developers not much later.
  • Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 has two kinds of customization options.
    • First is special equipment added to a mobile suit. Most suits can mount up to five upgrades that can be switched out later at any time. While most upgrades affect weapon damage, defenses or mobility, some combinations are inherently better than others. Nu Gundam and Wing Zero in particular become scarily powerful when equipped with Sniper, allowing them to lay out over a dozen mooks in a single attack on Hard difficulty once their ranged attack stat is maxed out, regardless of pilot skill. Then there are upgrades like Armor Gain that restores health while hacking away at mooks, Biocomputer that allows you to spam SP attacks by multiplying the gauge's recharge amount while inflicting damage, Pressure Hit that makes every single attack partially bypass guarding and inflict damage anyway...
    • Second are the pilot skills, learned by piloting certain mobile suits and lucking out with the Random Number God (or just doing missions over and over again in the same suit until the RNG throws up its hands in frustration). Some, like Parry, are nigh-useless. Some, like Leadership (buffs all allies) and Moonrace (gives a temporary buff per every 50 kills) are highly situational. But some are completely game-changing: DG Cells (take more damage at the cost of Regenerating Health, the hardest missions are nigh-impossible without it), Serene Mind (SP gauge continually regenerates instead of only at low health, allowing you to spam your strongest attack) and Overdrive (swaps SP attack with Combo SP attack; Hyakushiki and Turn A greatly benefit from it) in particular.

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