"Disturb not the harmony of fire, ice, or lightning, lest these titans wreak destruction upon the world in which they clash. Though the water's great guardian shall arise to quell the fighting, alone its song will fail, and thus the earth shall turn to Ash. O Chosen One, into thine hands bring together all three. Their treasures combined tame the Beast of the Sea."
Fire, Ice, and Lightning — the definitive trio of Elemental Attacks; the core of offensive magic among the Stock RPG Spells, used in nigh-all videogames that were inspired by the original Dungeons & Dragons and quite a large number that aren't. If you have attack spells, Magitek, psychokinetic abilities, or even Mons, there will be one each of fire, ice, and lightning, all of which are otherwise equal in power or usefulness.
It's not hard to see why these three are so popular. Fire is fire, ice is fire's opposite due to being shinier and more crystalline than water or earth, and lightning is louder, glowier, and comes from the sky. Furthermore, if you conceive of ice as just "coldness", all three are forms of Pure Energy (or pure lack-of-energy,) and thus can be shaped into Energy Weapons or launched as Glowy Beams of Doom. To go further, when one thinks of the actual damage dealt by fantasy elements it is mostly just physical force with an elemental twist, (e.g. the water element is often a physical torrent of water, the earth element is rock based physical trauma, the wind element is brought about by fast-moving air cutting against skin) however, these three express a unique form of damage: burning, freezing and electrocution.
They're usually Color-Coded for Your Convenience. Fire is always red, ice is always somewhere between white and bright blue, and lightning is always yellow or blue. As a result, these powers are the all-time number-one origin of Palette SwapUnderground Monkeys.
One can justify their unlikely pairing by imagining a common origin in basic particle physics — supposedly, fire (or heat) comes from speeding up atoms, ice (or cold) comes from slowing down atoms, and lightning comes from rubbing atoms together (or pulling them apart to reveal matter with a net charge). Sort of. Or by considering their elemental natures: Fire is life, Cold is death, and Lightning is the motion from one state to another. Or, you could remember the Rule of Cool. Your choice. It may also be simply that these three are easier to weaponize than other combinations.
Despite being a trio, they do not usually form a complete Rock-Paper-Scissors triangle; in the usual cases, fire and ice beat each other, and are neutral towards lightning. But in rare cases, lightning beats ice (it's just water) and is beaten by fire because heat increases resistance to electricity (at least in metals; in air, heat decreases resistance, so fire will make lightning stronger...?).
Sometimes the trio is expanded with a fourth member, Earth, to form a quartet similar to the classical Elemental Powers (with ice = water and lightning = air).
If put on a Freudian Trio, Fire will be The Id due to its raw, passionate and emotional nature; Ice will be The Superego due to its cold, calculating and stoic nature, and Lightning will be The Ego for its neutral, balancing and leading nature. Alternatively, Lightning can also be interpreted as The Id for its impulsive, chaotic nature while Fire can be interpreted as The Ego for its raw and powerful nature.
For exclusive users, please consult Playing with Fire, An Ice Person, Shock and Awe (and sometimes Psycho Electro). For other sets of Elemental Powers, see Four Element Ensemble and Land Sea Sky.
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Graffiti Kingdom allows you to create your own creatures, right down to choosing their attacks (up to four, not counting the combo). True to this trope, the elements you can choose from in every attack type are Fire, Ice, and Lightning. In fact, the only attacks that don't have elemental forms are the movement attacks, which are Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "attacks" used to move, like jumps.
Also, one of Palette's moves is to simultaneously shoot three homing balls of fire, ice, and lightning.
In the first game, Cole is the lightning to Kessler's ice (as seen in an early cinematic) and Alden's fire.
Seen often in the Onimusha saga. The first one introduced the peculiar trio of elements (Lightning, Fire and Wind). The second games add also Ice and Earth, so Fire, Ice, Lightning is possible. In the third game, Jacques' Oni Weapons are based on Fire (Enja, a whipsword), Lightning (Raisen, a sectioned double spear) and Ice (Hyousai, a flail).
Three brush techniques in Ōkami use these elements, and behave the same way - you can draw a line from a source of the element to a target, or draw a special symbol for a stronger, more expensive attack. The three final weapons - the Solar Flare reflector, Tundra Beads, and Thunder Edge glaive - are always burning/frozen/shocking, so Ammy always has an elemental source to draw from. Water exhibits somewhat similar behavior, as a line of it can be drawn from the source to a target and another, more expensive brush technique produces a brief rainstorm, but there is no water-elemental weapon and water does not directly damage most enemies. (It still slows them down or has other effects, and a handful of enemies are weak to water.)
The Legend of Zelda has its own "big 3" elemental themes for regions and dungeons: Forest, Fire, and Water, which are featured in nearly every game since The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. When it comes to weaponry, Link's arrows frequently come in three types besides the normal one: Fire, Ice and Light rather than Lightning (though in The Wind Waker the Light Arrows have electricity as well). The Light Arrows are sometimes found in games where the other two elemental arrows are not present.
In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the dragons are based on Water (Faron), Fire (Eldin), and Thunder (Lanayru), with their colors being blue, red and yellow respectively. This is true even though the regions are Forest, Volcano, and Desert, and the regional colors are Green, Red, and Yellow. The volcano and desert have fire and lightning elemental enemies respectively, while almost all of the aquatic enemies are found in the forest region.
The grenade launcher in Resident Evil 5 has Napalm, Nitrogen, and Electric rounds, as well as standard Explosive, Acid, and Flash ammo.
The first game has three elemental-themed bosses: Phantom for fire, Griffon for lightning, and Nightmare for ice. Dante gets a lightning sword (Alastor) and fire gauntlets (Ifrit), but doesn't get anything for ice.
Devil May Cry 2 has these as the three elements you can equip to your Devil Trigger form, as well as three varieties of wizard Mooks who use them and a boss fight against three floating heads which each use one of the elements.
Devil May Cry 3 includes five weapons: your basic elementless sword (Rebellion), ice elemental nunchuks (Cerberus), paired fire and wind swords (Agni and Rudra), a guitar that shoots electric bats (Nevan), and gauntlets that do light-elemental damage (Beowulf).
Devil May Cry 4 is a partial exception, in that there are no fire/ice/lightning weapons. There's still the fire boss (Berial), the ice boss (Bael and Daegon), and the lightning Sub Boss (Blitz).
Nero's Red Queen sword attacks while combined with Exceed needs a special mention to fire weapons though (the sword uses a motorcycle-like gear shift to spray a flammable propellant over the blade, which requires a specific gameplay mechanic outside of just slashing with the sword to use. Can get particularly impressive with attacks that are fully upgraded to use more levels of Exceed at once).
Appears in varying degrees in the Quest for Glory series. The Magic User can learn the spells Flame Dart, Frost Bite, and Lightning Ball. In addition to their combat utility, the series often frequently makes use of these spells for puzzle solving. For example, Frost Bite can freeze liquid surfaces so the player can cross them, while Lightning Ball can be used to recharge the Anachronism Stew technology the player finds throughout the series. Zap also falls under this trope, as it allows the player to charge their weapon with electrical energy for a little extra damage when striking the target. Generally, the only time which spell used matters is during puzzle solving. Frost Bite, however, is particularly useful when fighting The Dragon of Doom.
Beat Em Up
In Bayonetta, The Durga weapon can change between fire, which is stronger and slower, and lightning, which is faster and weaker. Additionally, the weapon Odette is a pair ice skates that have (surprise surprise) the ability to freeze your enemies.
Guardian Heroes has Fire, Ice, and Lighting attacks for many of it's characters, and such attacks also add an additionally-damaging effect that's contagious. Anyone not blocking if they are hit by a person who is burning, frozen, or electrocuted will have the same effect passed on to them. In a tightly-packed group, this can cause the effect to last for several seconds after the attack itself is long done (and if not careful, you can catch yourself in the effects of your own attack!).
In older games of the Marvel vs. Capcom series, Blackheart had three variations on his Inferno attack; a meter draining electric Inferno, a powerful ice Inferno and a speedy fire Inferno. In Marvel Super Heroes you could pick which version he would use by inputting a punch button during the attacks' start-up period.
There's also the Silver Samurai, who has a techique to shift from any of the three elements, resulting in different techniques and effects: fire is stronger, ice can stun for a brief moment and lightning is faster.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl plays this as well, having three enemies in subspace being a fire, ice, and lightning element. Similarly, Lucas's special attacks also have these three elements.
Similarly, they are the three elemental effects that you can get hit by in all the Smash games (set on fire, frozen in ice, electrocuted). Melee added Shadow as a fourth. Brawl, which actually put in resistances, added a ton more, but those are still the only four visible damages.
Giga Bowser embodies this trope in his smash attacks: up-smash electrocutes foes on his spikes, down-smash freezes foes with a spinning shell, and forward-smash is a burning explosive headbutt.
Tatsunoko vs. CapcomUltimate All Stars has an online statistic that gauges the play style of the player. Fire is used for offensive players. Ice is used for defensive players. Lightning is used for speedy players.
First Person Shooter
BioShock 1's Chemical Launcher weapon shoots napalm (fire), liquid nitrogen (ice), and electrical gel (electricity). Also, your Plasmid-granted abilities include Incinerate, Winter Blast, and Electro Bolt.
The fight with Fontaine is divided into three Plasmid-induced stages of fire, ice, and lightning (which even take place in that order), wherein his appearance and attacks change to match the current element.
In Metroid Prime, in addition to her standard-issue Power Beam, Samus also gets a Plasma Beam (fire), a Wave Beam (electric), and an Ice Beam (guess). This is a notable change from the 2D games, where Plasma and Wave aren't elemental. It shows up again in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, where each of the other bounty hunters and the weapons they give you (plasma beam, ice missile, grapple voltage) has one of these propertiesnote This is most easily noticed in a certain optional room on Bryyo, where there are three work golems that require you to use these weapons to activate them, and then use their effects in puzzles (melting a wall, freezing fuel gel, and electrifying magnetic rails, respectively).
The original Diablo had fire, lightning and "pure magic", but no ice. However, the Sorceress class from Diablo II is the epitome of this trope. Her three skill trees are (of course) Fire, Ice Cold, and anything that could possibly be considered related to Lightning. Diablo himself likes this trope: Amongst his attacks are a freezing touch, a couple of fire attacks, and his infamous Lightning Beam of Empty Red Orb.
The 3 types of magic a High Elf mage can learn in Sacred 2 are the Arrant Pyromancer (Fire spells), the Mystic Stormite (Ice spells), and the Delphic Arcania (Support magic, with a lightning bolt as it's main attack spell).
Sengoku Basara has Fire, Ice and Lightning, alongside Wind, Light and Darkness.
The trope's actually invoked by Lassar (the first professional magic teacher you meet). One of her lectures basically states that there are a lot of elements, but these are the only three suitable for reliably converting mana into damage without tools such as the cylinders and crystals alchemists use... so since you're an adventurer, she'll only cover ice, fire and lightning in class.
Phantasy Star Online 2 uses the previous three schools of techniques while discarding Diga in favor of Zan (wind). In all PSO games, there is also Grantz (light) and Megid (darkness).
While there are at least ten elements in Ragnarok Online, the main elemental circle is Fire-Earth-Lightning-Water (Water is mostly ice attacks), and the Wizard class (of which the above mentioned Kano is one of. She just doesn't use Earth spells.) uses those four primarily, along with the 'Ghost' element, in case the monster happens to be resistant to all in the circle, or is a Ghost-type itself (yes, like it is in Pokémon).
In RuneScape, the strongest standard spells are fire spells, and the strongest Ancient Magicks are ice spells. Saradomin Strike is a standalone lightning spell.
Wizard101 has this in the form of the Fire, Ice, and Storm schools.
World of Warcraft makes use of this trope to an extent, except that Lightning is merged with Earth and Poison into Nature (And Water with Ice into Frost, but there aren't many Water spells to begin with). The prime example of this trinity is the Shaman class, which has various totems, a weapon enchant and a magic shield (except for fire), as well as "Shocks" (instant damage spells with varying effects) for each. Mages come close, but their energy-ish spells are Arcane (pure magic).
Blizzard loves this. In Warcraft II, among the Mage's few spells are Fireball, Blizzard, and a lightning attack. Rather than being Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors, however, the attacks were balanced vis-a-vis damage, mana cost, and area of effect. The Horde's Death Knight has similar spells.
Tibia has fire, ice, lightning and earth as well as death and holy. Sorcerers are masters of fire, lightning, and death while druids are masters of ice, earth, and holy healing spells. Prior to the revamp of the magical system, fire, energy (now lightning), and poison were the elements.
In Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge, the three special varieties of egg ammo available (in addition to the basic, non-elemental variety) are Fire, Ice, and Battery (Lightning) Eggs. (Banjo-Tooie had Fire and Ice eggs, but the other two special varieties were bombs.)
The Kirby series includes multiple abilities centered around these elements, with a specific long-ranged and close-ranged version of each appearing in at least one game. Squeak Squad even went so far as to allow these elements to affect the terrain (electricity is conducted along metal and water, ice can freeze water, and fire can burn things), as well as letting you create elemental swords and bombs, and temporarily apply elements to Tornado and Wheel. Since Adventure, Kirby has also had unique damage animations for when he's hit by any of these three elements.
Additionally, in Kirby Super Star, the hats for Fire, Ice, and Plasma are all palette-swapped crowns. Later games distinguish their appearances by making them look like they're actually composed of flames, ice crystals, or electricity.
Kirby64 also featured Ice, Fire, and Spark powers that could be combined with the other elements in the game, which was the games' gimmick. Fire + Lightning made Kirby rub his head with tin foil, causing sparks until his head caught on fire and he ran around at high speeds. Lightning + Ice turned him into a refrigerator, which shot food that could later be consumed to heal yourself. Ice + Fire created steam in a very small area, making it mostly worthless.
The Mega Man uses these three elements off and on for the weapons of the bosses. Mega Man Zero and ZX games renamed the elements as Flame, Ice, and Thunder. In the original rotation, Thunder beats Ice beats Flame (though Flame doesn't always affect Thunder). The reversed rotation switches Ice and Flame, as follows: Thunder beats Flame beats Ice (though Ice doesn't always affect Thunder).
Mega Man 1 has the original rotation (obviously). Thunder (Elec Man) beats Ice (Ice Man) which beats Flame (Fire Man). Fire Man's weapon didn't beat Elec Man, though: it beat Bomb Man, and Elec Man was beaten by Cut Man's weapon. Just about all the games have at least one, if not all three.
Mega Man 2 just has a Fire boss (Heat Man) beaten by Bubble Man's weapon — no Thunder boss. Mega Man 3 has two Thunder/Elec bosses: Spark Man and Magnet Man. Mega Man 4 had none. (It did have water-elemental Toad Man, though.)
Mega Man 5 had Thunder/Wind (Gyro Man) and water (Wave Man), but they are separated in the weakness chain.
Mega Man 6 was the first ever game to reverse the triad: Thunder (Wind Man) beats Flame (Flame Man) which beats Ice (Blizzard Man).
Mega Man 7 had Freeze Man (Ice), Cloud Man (Thunder/Lightning) and Turbo Man (a Transforming Mecha who attacked with flaming wheels), but the weaknesses are separated in the weakness chain.
Mega Man 8 had Sword Man (Flame), Frost Man (Ice), and Clown Man (who attacked with electricity).
Mega Man & Bass had Thunder/Lightning (Dynamo Man) beating Ice (Cold Man) beating Flame (Burner Man), similarly to the original game.
The reversed rotation, again, in X4: Flame (Magma Dragoon) beats Ice (Frost Walrus) which beats Thunder/Elec (Web Spider).
X4 also had the final form of the final boss, who summons three coloured heads (blue, red and yellow). The first shot out icy gas, the second shot out fireballs in fours, and the last shot out electric balls that spread shockwaves across the walls/floor.
The reversed rotation is split up in X5: Ice/Water (Duff Mc Whalen) beats Thunder/Elec (Squid Adler), and Thunder/Wind (The Skiver) beats Flame (Mattrex).
X6: Flame (Blaze Heatnix) beats Ice (Blizzard Wolfang), but Thunder/Elec (Infinity Mijinion) is isolated from the triad.
X8 resumes the original rotation: Thunder/Elec (Gigabolt Man-o-war) beats Ice (Avalanche Yeti) which beats Flame (Burn Rooster).
Mega Man X: Command Mission also resumes the original rotation and, interestingly, replaces Ice with Water: Thunder beats Water beats Fire beats Thunder. The fourth category would be shadow, but in Zero and ZX it's reserved for bosses with primarily physical instead of elemental attacks.
Speaking of the Zero and ZX series, which did the element renaming, it's back to the reversed rotation: Thunder beats Flame beats Ice beats Thunder. The Zero series very specifically zeroes in on this rotation, as it offers no weapon elements for Zero's use except within this triad.
Starting with this series, the reversed rotation has some odd consequences, such as fire being the best thing to use on underwater bosses (like Fairy Leviathan).
As Battle Network 3's own Dark Man moves about the field, he will cycle between a fire attack, an ice attack, and a lightning attack which he will only use when you are right in front of him, but considering he also summons '''bats'' that will '''mug''' you if you don't dodge every which way it's not that hard to find yourself on the receiveing end of a linear bolt or a killer snowflake (yes, that's his ice attack — a snowflake that will move up and down across two of your columns, taking up a lot of room and further annoying you). Luckily, he will change colors as he changes attacks.
The elemental blades in EXE2. Sure, 3 and on added in BambooSword, but in 2, the Dream Sword 2 PA was made of... say it with me... FlameSword, AquaSword, ElecSword. (Replace with Blade for the next level of the PA, Dream Sword 3.)
Scurge: Hive has a unique variation: Its main weapons elements are Fire (Pyro), Energy (Lightning), and "Diffusion," which is anti-energy (it's something of a "power sink" ability). It does have an Ice power, but instead of being part of the elemental cycle, it freezes small enemies indescriminately and doesn't do damage.
In Run Saber, the three cyborg-enhanced Run Sabers use the three elements: Kurtz uses the red "Flair Saber", which generates pillars of fire; Allen uses the green "Thunder Saber", with which he can create a dragon made of electricity; and Sheena uses the blue "Ice Saber", which works at absolute zero and can unleash a blizzard.
Three of the planets encountered in the final Bowser level of Super Mario Galaxy, in order of appearance, are a lava planet, a dry ice planet, and a quicksand planet surrounded by electric beams.
In the sequel, the first planet encountered in "Shiverburn Galaxy" is a U-shaped planet covered in lava, has several electric beam shooters, and will turn to ice after Ground Pounding a switch found halfway around that planet.
Sonic 3 and Knuckles has a trio of elemental shields that form a common variation on this trope, the Fire Shield, the Electric Shield, and the Water Shield. The first two offer immunity to damage from their elements, while the third prevents drowning. Each of the three also grants a special move Sonic can do (Tails and Knuckles keep their basic flight and gliding powers), and the Electric Shield pulls nearby Rings inward. The game does have a few freezing-based hazards, but as they only appear in one level it wouldn't make much sense to have a shield devoted specifically to them.
In practically every Spyro game that gives the eponymous dragon access to multiple different breath types, he will be able to use these three elements. However, there's often afourthtype which varies from game to game.
In Valis III, Fire, Ice and Thunder are the three types of magic. Each of the three players characters has her own version of each.
Puyo Puyo Fever: Although the actual types didn't affect the gameplay, these were among the special attack callouts used when making combos for two characters. Amitie uses "Flame, Blizzard, Lightning Bolt!", while Arie uses "Fire, Ice Storm, Thunder!".
NetHack only has three wands that launch Hyphens of Doom (not including the standard Magic Missile), and they are indeed the wand of cold, wand of fire, and wand of lightning.
Ancient Domains of Mystery has the four elements of fire, ice, lightning, and acid, with bolt and ball spells for each. Lightning is less commonly resisted and does slightly more damage then ice and fire, but acid trumps lightning on both of those scores. However, the only improved ball spell, which hits a radius about a targeted location rather than centering on the caster, is fire.
The Freeware game Castle of the Winds has a magic arrow spell, as well as three bolt spells, fire, ice, and lightning, and three ball spells, one for each element.
Pokémon Red and Blue contained a trio of Fire, Ice and Electric-type legendary birds, three Fire, Ice Water and Electric-type evolutions of Eevee, and three hard-to-find no-evolution Ice, Electric, and Fire humanoid Pokemon (Jynx, Electabuzz, and Magmar, respectively).
Pokémon Gold and Silver followed suit with a trio of Fire, Ice Water (but with Ice attacks) and Electric-type legendary dogs, and a pre-evolution to each of Generation I's hard-to-find-no-evolution-humanoid trio.
Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire more or less averted it with its legendary trio of Regirock (Rock), Regice (Ice) and Registeel (Steel). Also to be noted are Groudon (Ground type, but numerous Fire-type attacks), Kyogre (Water, naturally learns at least one Ice attack), and Rayquaza (Dragon/Flying, but you'll definitely get the lightning association—and Kyogre's Ice and Groudon's Fire—if you play Pokemon Pinball Ruby and Sapphire, where the Rayquaza in the bonus stage can stun your ball with Thunder, or Super Smash Bros. Brawl where it attacks with lightning.)
Likewise, Pokémon Diamond and Pearl mostly-averts-but-doesn't-really-avert it with a trio of Color-Coded for Your Convenience Psychic-types, Mesprit, Azelf, and Uxie, who are pink, blue, and yellow. However, you can find the Fire Blast, Blizzard and Thunder TMs in the Lake areas where they reside. Hint much?
In Pokémon Black and White, Reshiram and Zekrom's secondary types are Fire and Electric respectively, and Kyurem, a Dragon and Ice type legendary, is an outsider "third" member. It has two alternate forms in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, once of which appears to be a Fusion Dance with Reshiram and the other with Zekrom.
This is so pervasive in Pokémon that the second movie (featuring Generation I's birds) was themed around it, as mentioned in the above quote.
There are also the three elemental punch attacks, Fire Punch, Ice Punch, and ThunderPunch [sic], and the three elemental fang attacks, Fire Fang, Ice Fang, and Thunder Fang. And while they have other elements, a lot of "move variations" (moves with shared properties like power and PP) have these three — Ember, Powder Snow, Thundershock; Flamethrower, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt; and as mentioned above, Fire Blast, Blizzard and Thunder.
In the original Gold and Silver games, you could just buy the three elemental punches. You can still get the three punches in the remakes (and presumably in Diamond, Pearl and Platinum), but it's slightly harder.
And there's the move Tri Attack, which has your Pokemon shoot three colored energy beams (that are red, blue, and yellow), show your opponent getting hit with fire, ice and lightning in the game animation, and can burn, freeze, or paralyze your opponent.
Averted with the starter Pokemon trio, which goes Fire-Water-Grass instead for no real reason. Though it does match the usual Zelda Trio above.
A more recent trend for the series is pushing a trio of Psychic-Dark-Fighting, with Ghost on the outer.
Lance's three Dragonite in Generation II and the first battle against him in Generation IV know Thunder, Blizzard and Fire Blast respectively. Also, in the first battle against him in Generation IV, his Gyarados, Aerodactyl and Charizard know Ice Fang, Thunder Fang and Fire Fang respectively.
The Final Fantasy series almost always plays this trope straight. The magic system in every game contains at least the Fire, Blizzard, and Thunder series of spells. Other elements may be added to extend the Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors set, but even so, Fire, Ice, and Lightning are make up the majority of elemental spells, summons, and items. Even Final Fantasy X, which adds Water as a "core" element on the same standing as these standard three still plays this trope straight: the three elemental summons are Ifrit (Fire), Ixion (Lightning), and Shiva (Ice).
Final Fantasy XIII has a trio in its party members. Lightning, Snow and Sazh all specialize in one of the elements and their Eidolons follow suit. It should be fairly obvious who has which element.
Chrono Trigger is interesting in that it's actually Fire Water Lightning, with Marle and Frog differentiated by their use of frozen and unfrozen water. However, in the Japanese version, Lightning is actually Heaven, and the DS remake compromises with Light.
Also, the fourth and final element, Shadow, is said to be composed of the other three elements combined, Fire, Ice, and Lightning. This is explains why most triple techs that combine the three elements are of Shadow element, and Magus's ability to use Fire, Ice, and Lightning is due to the fact he is of the Shadow element.
Same stuff, different names in Chrono Cross, although each gains a partner element style and is put on a six-point chart. Fire (and magma) as 'Red' against ice (and water) as 'Blue'; oddly, lightning gets partnered with earth as 'Yellow' against grass and wind as 'Green', breaking the lightning/air pairing.
The World Ends with You doesn't play Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors (strictly speaking, at least). Never the less, it still has fire, ice, and lightning attacks. They don't differ in "element" - and, in fact, all share the same "negative/ranged" element - but instead differ in the way they're used.
The Shin Megami Tensei games seem to use these three in all their games, plus one other "elemental" group (to round out the four elements) and two "other" groups capable of dealing instant death (along with non-elemental physical and almighty attacks.) Agi is Fire, Bufu is Ice, Zio is lightning, and depending on the game:
In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne and most of the other non-Persona games, the fourth "elemental" is Force (Zan), and the two "others" are Expel (Hama) and Death (Mudo).
In Persona 3 and 4, the fourth "elemental" is Wind (Garu), and the two "others" are Light (Hama) and Darkness (Mudo).
Three characters can get their melee attacks enhanced in X-Men Legends — Magma, Iceman and Storm. All three basically fall under "energy". (Telepaths can enhance their attacks with "psychic" damage, which has different effects.)
The Elder Scrolls mixes this up somewhat, in that the apparent fourth element is poison, insofar as having corresponding weaknesses and resistances. Then again, it doesn't play elemental rock-paper-scissors as often, where, whilst they may have the ability to inflict fire-elemental damage, having a weakness to ice is another specific attribute of a creature. In-game tactics include using spells to cause these weaknesses to increase the power of the elemental spell.
Oblivion has fire, frost, lighting, damage health and...rust
Skyrim plays it straightest of all, with just the three. Each has an advantage to the other two: Fire is the cheapest and has afterburn damage, Frost slows foes down and depletes their stamina bar (needed for sprinting, power attacking, or breath-hold bow aiming), and Shock is a Hitscan projectile and depletes magicka (which is good against mages).
Also in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories the three main organization members fought in Sora's Side were Axel Larxene and Vexen who represented the three elements. The fourth and Big Bad was Petal Power, likely because his flower based abilities were presented as the opposite of the flower themed Cure line of spells, death rather than life.
Kingdom Hearts 2 has three elemental Keyblades, each boosting one of the three elements. Axel gives you Bond of Flame (Fire), TRON gives you Photon Debugger (Thunder), and Ariel gives you Mysterious Abyss (Blizzard).
The Madou Monogatari series plays it straight with Fire, Ice Storm and Thunder spells.
Xenosaga III's ES battles divide attacks into fire, ice, lightning and beam; considering these are mechs, beam is probably thermally and electrically neutral, like a neutral particle beam.
The trio of PK Fire, PK Freeze and PK Thunder are the three basic offensive PSI of the MOTHER trilogy, with all three being available to the three female leads Ana, Paula and Kumatora (though Ana and Kumatora have access to other offensive PSI as well). In Super Smash Bros Brawl, they're given to Lucas in order to give his fellow party member representation. Ness is given nearly the same moveset, replacing PK Freeze with his naturally learned PK Flash in order to represent Paula.
In Seiken Densetsu 3, Lightning is lumped under Air, Ice is lumped under Water, and Earth, Light, and Darkness are about as common as Fire, Water, and Air. However, Angela's Grand Divina class learns a spell called Double Spell which combines a Lightning spell, a Fire spell, and an Ice spell.
Shows up, oddly enough, in Mass Effect 2 with ammo types and tech powers. For fire you've got Incinerate and Incendiary Ammo, which works well against armor and causes organic enemies to panic, Overload and Disruptor Ammo for lightning, which damages shields and synthetic enemies, and for ice you have Cryo Blast and Cryo Ammo, which freezes enemies solid so you can take a breather or knock them into walls or off cliffs for an OHKO (unlike the other two, though, they do no additional damage to any defense type).
Also with heavy weapons: the Firestorm is a flamethrower, the Avalanche freezes enemies, and the Arc Projector shoots lightning.
Depending on how you want to look at it, this trope exists in the first game as well: Incendiary and Inferno Rounds are definitely fire, Cryo and Snowblind rounds fit the bill for ice. Phasic and Proton rounds don't have an obviously electrical effect, and instead ignore enemy shields when shooting them, but their descriptions mention charged particles and the icon used for them is Disruptor Ammo's icon in the second game.
Played even straighter in the third game: Overload now damages and stuns organic enemies and can be upgraded to Chain Lightning.
In fact, the game expands on the second's use of biotic explosions. It's now possible to set up biotic, cryo, fire, and tech explosions. Various powers/ammo set up the combo, and others trigger them (with the set-up determining the final effect). Cryo and fire are the ice and fire, tech is the lightning. Biotic explosions are pure force. Some classes are practically crowd control wizards, able to set up and explode three different kinds of combos with the right ammo power.
Okage plays this straight. Everyone in the game that fights has an element, and they're all locked in an elemental triangle that is good or bad against the other. Naturally, it's Fire, Ice, and Lightning. Except for Ari...who is Neutral.
The Flame, Ice, Thunder, and Violent Light swords and armor in Ys IV: Mask of the Sun, and the Livart (wind) Brillante (fire), and Erricil (lightning) swords in Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim. Also, the elemental magic stones in Ys V.
The damage-dealing spells in the Shining Force games are Blaze, Freeze and Bolt. While mages usually learn two or more of the spells at the basic levels, each games usually features one mage per element that learns the highest level spell, such as Tao (Blaze), Domingo (Freeze) and Alef (Bolt) in the first Shining Force game.
The three primary "coatings" (elemental equipments) found in Opoona are the Fire Coat, Ice Coat, and Thunder Coat (with their improved versions being the Solar Coat, Frozen Coat, and Plasma Coat). There are numerous other coats available, including an Earth coat, but that's the primary trio.
There's also the "elemental" series of enemies, whose three members are Flamehead, Icehair, and Plasma Ball.
In Breath of Fire, usually there are 3 levels of spells for the three elements, and variable amounts for the others (Earth, Wind, Water, etc.) depending on the game. There are also characters with specific magic-affinity.
Breath of Fire: Bo can use up to level 3 magic of the three elements. Ryu can access two sets of fire/ice/lightning elemental dragon forms.
Breath of Fire II: Ryu has, once again, two sets of dragon forms with the three elemental abilities. Sten has a fire affinity, and Nina can use the three elements, plus Wind and Earth.
Breath of Fire III: This time, Ryu creates dragons by mixing genes with special characteristics. Obviously, he has a fire/ice/lightning gene that grants the resulting dragon form those abilities/spells. There's also the Trygon, which merges the three into a single form. In terms of characters, Rei (lightning) and Garr (fire) fills two, with Nina wielding all three, plus Wind.
Breath of Fire IV turns lightning into a combo spell, only created after one cast a wind and water/ice spell back-to-back. Thus, no character has it as an afinity and Ryu doesn't get a lightning dragon. Otherwise, all playable members have specific elemental affinities: Ryu (fire), Fou-lu (ice), Nina (wind), Cray (earth), Scias (water/ice) and Ursula (fire).
Dragon Age features these three in the destructive school of magic. There's Earth too, but it's for more of a controlling effect than a damaging effect (rock armour, an earthquake to slow and stagger enemies, and petrify to debuff and pin them). Fire, Ice and Lightning remain the go-to magic styles for a standard Black Mage.
Among the offensive items that can be created through Alchemy, Flame, Bomb Ice, and Lightning Rod are always among the list.
Shoot 'Em Up
In Coryoon, Coryoon's three possible weapons are fireballs, water waves and lightning bolts.
Dungeon Keeper 2 apples this trope to it's traps, with 3 of the most useful being the freeze trap, the lightning trap, and the fireburst trap.
In Backyard Baseball the powerups include a fireball, a freezing ball, and a lightning-bat line drive. Add water (slippery ball) to the list of elemental powers too, and maybe even metals (via the aluminum power bat).
Turn Based Strategy
The primary offensive spells from throughout the Shining franchise are Blaze, Freeze and Bolt/Spark. Priests have access to a fourth elemental attack, Blast/Tornado.
Super Robot Wars NEO features this as part of its gaming system. Fire attacks cause extra damage, ice attacks cause debuffs, and thunder attacks cause stun.
The Disgaea series has wind replacing lightning in the standard trio of elements (All of the electricity or lightning based attacks are non-elemental), and has Star as a fourth element, which no unit has any innate resistance or weakness against.
Throughout the Fire Emblem series, the trinity of "nature" magics known as anima magic has always been a slight variation: Fire, Wind and Thunder. That said, ice spells like Blizzard and Fimbulvetr regularly appear, and they're just lumped in with Wind spells.
In Heroes of Might and Magic V, a hero who takes the 'Destruction Magic' skill is also allowed to learn 'Master of Elements' skills to enhance their spells: Master of Fire makes their fire spells reduce their opponent's defence, Master of Ice lets them freeze enemies with ice spells, and Master of Lightning makes their lightning spells stun opponents. Earth spells are also available as part of the Destruction school of magic, but no corresponding ability exists to make them more powerful.
Real Time Strategy
Humans in Warcraft III have the Blood Mage (Fire), Archmage (Ice, though his basic attack is a fireball), and Mountain King (Lightning). On a wider scale we also have the Humans in general (Fire), Undead (Ice), and Orcs (Lightning), which is reflected in some of their heroes, units, and items. The Night Elves are thematically associated with Earth/Nature.
There's a cutscene where you witness a meeting between three demon lords, each of whom represent one of the three elements; Tichondrius represents fire, Mephistroth represents Ice, and Anetheron represents Lightning.
The second Night Elf level of the first game requires you to kill three Primal Guardians and their owlbears, who buff them with Frost Armor, Lightning Shield and Inner Fire respectively.
The three resistances of the main three colors of Pikmin are fire, electricity, and water in place of ice.
The three main ninjas of Beat Blades Haruka: Haruka uses lightning (and her strongest attack paralyzes the enemy for one turn), Narika uses fire, and Subaru uses ice. The elements themselves don't have any real effect on enemies, except for the effects of each one's strongest attack.
In Sailor Moon, the first 3 members to join Sailor Moon (Mars, Mercury, and Jupiter) have these as their elements, though Mercury's dominant element is water and Jupiter has wood as her sub-element.note The anime removes this element from her powers and keeps it to just Lightning
In Animerica, the male members of the second major group (Eric, Yusuke, and Takato) are often grouped together because of this (although Takato's main power is wind and Yusuke can also manipulate water).
In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, there are people who possess a "magic conversion nature", allowing them to convert their mana into a specific element without the need to even consciously think about it, though normal mages could display similar effects if they work hard at it. Examples of these include Signum, who has a magic conversion nature of fire, and Erio, who has a magic conversion nature of lightning. Based on supplementary materials released for StrikerS, these come in three forms. They are, you guessed it, Fire, Lightning, and pretty rarely, Ice.
Mahou Sensei Negima! have a good example of this, one ultimate spell for each element, Blazing Heat In The Sky for fire, Eternal Glacier for ice, and The Thousand Bolts for lightning. We have been shown the versions of magical arrow for each. (but magical arrows also contain elements of darkness, sand, wind and light.)
Though, now we also have Tearing Earth as the ultimate spell for the earth element.
In Saint Seiya, the 5 main saints have elemental affinities, with Ikki (fire), Hyoga (ice) and Shun (his Variable-Length Chain can generate lightning) filling in the three. The Gold Saints lack a fire-based member, with Leo Aioria (lightning) and Acuaris Kamus (ice) filling in the other slots
In the spin-off series Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, Scorpio Kardias is given a fire motif, completing the trio with Leo Regulus and Acuarius Degel.
The three members of the Judgemaster Personal Guard in The Tainted Grimoire each represent one third of this trope. Gerland for Fire, Nivus for Ice and Ogma for Lightning.
The Dresden Files started out with fire and wind, but eventually Harry switches to more offensive spells - and so do his allies. Decade-long wars tend to do that. He's best known for his fire spells, but since he became the Winter Knight, he's been employing a lot more ice magic. Sometimes even fire and ice in concert. Even Lea is impressed with his progress.
Because the series stays very true to physics, the heat and cold fields of fire and ice are a big part of Harry's choice of spells. He's had his hand nearly burned off by not accounting for the heat of fire, and he doesn't intend to do that again.
A borderline example is Accel from Kamen Rider Double. His Engine Blade has three settings: Jet (fire), Steam (water), and Electric (lightning).
Another thing in Double is that there are three elemental Dopants, one that appears in the beginning (Magma, or fire), another that appears during Accel's debut (Iceage), and one that appears in the Grand Finale (Energy, or lightning).
Downplayed in Kamen Rider Fourze. He has all the modules and elemental powers other than the three, but when he debuts as Cosmic States, he attacks the first enemy in this order: Rocket + Electric Powers with Barizun Sword, Launcher attack augmented with Freeze, and Fire Power with Barizun Sword, before using his finishing move.
The closest Native American analogue to the western elemental system was this, with Fire, Lightning and Ice attributed to the South, West and North respectively, and having numeral mythical entities associated with all three. Depending on who you ask, Air was also part of the system, as East, but it was both very irrelevant and sometimes even replaced with nothingness.
In Wu Xing, there are five elements, but Fire, Water (defined by coldness, Winter and darkness, thus ice) and Metal (in which lightning falls under) are more distinct and more closely follow the life/death model seen above (Fire = Life, Metal = Decay/Death and Water = Death/Afterlife/Dormancy). Likewise, their mythical beasts, the Firebird, the White Tiger and the Black Turtle are more distinct than the Dragons attributed to Earth and Air/Wood.
Norse Mythology rarely plays this, focusing more on the Ice/Fire contrast, but the more popular gods, Odin, Thor and Freyr, can be seen as this, as Odin is associated with coldness, Thor with lightning and Freyr with sunlight.
Interestingly enough, it is optimal to use elements outside of the standard Fire-Ice-Lightning (such as Acid or Sonic) in Dungeons & Dragons, because due to their rarity, few monsters resist them (whereas every non-humanoid non-animal in the Monster Manual resists at least one of the three).
Technically, it isn't optimal to use elements at all. The best spells don't even do damage, and the best damage spells are Force effects such as Maw of Chaos and Wings of Flurry. But yes, sonic and acid are superior to the main three.
Most effective nuke based caster builds rely on the feat Arcane Thesis to hugely multiply the power of one favorite spell. One strategy for these actually is to take either a fire or ice spell, and Energy Substitution: Fire/Ice to reverse its element as needed, since fire and ice are the most common weaknesses in addition to most commonly resisted elements. Either Fire/Acid or Ice/Lightning are more favorable for casters who wish to use Energy Gestalt to add debuffs to their spells.
The Gem-Knights in the Yu-Gi-Oh card game do this with multiple trios of Pyro-Type (fire), Aqua-Type (ice), and Thunder-Type (lightning) monsters within their ranks, along with Rock-Types as a sort of middle ground.
The four elements wielded by characters in LEGONinjago are fire, ice, lightning and earth.
Monster High Brought us Frankie Stein (Lightning), Holt Hyde (Fire), and Abby Bominable (Ice).