Dr. Kato, despite not wearing any protective armour or wielding advanced weaponry, he's actually stronger and more durable than either of the Grosse siblings! noteIn games lacking Dynamic Difficulty, particularly RPGs without Level Scaling, the designers will usually design encounters with enemies to balance them against the power level the player is expected to have when first encountered. This can lead to odd discrepancies where enemies are much weaker or more powerful than circumstances or common sense would suggest. Less intentional examples can also happen in games with Level Scaling, especially if scaling is only done when a player first enters an area. The archetypal example would be facing elite troops or giant monsters right at the beginning of the game, yet slaughtering them with ease while the player is still at level one. Conversely, at higher levels one might encounter rabbits or palette-swapped imps, with grossly inflated abilities that have been placed there simply to provide a challenge, regardless of how unlikely it is that such an enemy would be that powerful. Related to Sorting Algorithm of Evil, Fake Ultimate Mook and Beef Gate. It is usually an example of Gameplay and Story Segregation.
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- World of Warcraft is all over this:
- Many of the starting zones feature creatures that you won't encounter again for about 50 levels. Furthermore, most starting zones are literally right next to a 40+ zone (although some of these zones are pretty isolated by mountains). Even more disturbing is the fact that incredibly powerful people, such as kings or generals (who are max-level elite bosses) send *you* and your friends out to kill so-called dreaded enemies, even though they are surrounded by guards and soldiers who could one-shot them in their sleep. Presumably, they'd simply prefer to use disposable adventurers rather than their valuable men. However, this is very much a case of Gameplay and Story Segregation. From a story perspective, the inhabitants of end-game zones are not actually that much more powerful than those of starting zones, even though the game mechanics say they are. It is done to provide a sense of progress to the player and to guide them through the story in a semi-linear fashion. It is not meant to be taken to mean that the deer and foxes in later areas are capable of killing the demons and dragons of an earlier area. As for the guards, they are that strong because they are meant to defend the towns against max-level players of the opposing faction.
- A funnier example consists of 'important' Non Player Characters (town guard captains, generals and the like) being an appropriate level for the zone they're in, while regular town guards and merchants can be whatever the max level of the current expansion is. This can result, for example, in a level 15 mayor or guard captain in a town with level 80 guards.
- A rather interesting example is found in Heroic versions of low-level dungeons such as the Deadmines. While Heroic dungeons are always more difficult than their regular counterparts, these ones take a huge leap of something like 60 levels in addition to that. And yet, story- and quest-wise they are the same thing.
- City of Villains has a case of this, especially in the villains' bank-robbing Mayhem Missions. By the time you're level 40, you've fought insane cyborgs, giant monsters, powerful sorcerers....and yet these allegedly normal rent-a-cops on the way to the bank vault are still a hindrance (Of course one could imagine that in a world of frequent bank robberies and that fairly often sees cataclysmic events such as alien invasions, rent a cops are much less of a joke).
- If you're fighting a hobo in Kingdom of Loathing, you're either in the lowest level area, or one of the highest.
- Many similar-looking enemies like skeletons in Runescape have different strength based on the dungeon they are in. In Daemonheim, the enemies get stronger based on number of players raiding the dungeon and the floor number.
- Warhammer Online has the right enemy types as champions and heroes that you'd expect, but even a level 3 hero is nothing to a level 40 mob. This leads to Elven Princes, Chaos Giants, enormous summoned Daemons and veteran Captains being many times weaker than... a militia member's dog.
- Final Fantasy XI: "No matter how strong you are, somewhere on Vana'diel there is a rabbit who can kick your ass."
- There are fleas in Anarchy Online which could curbstomp many of the dungeon bosses.
- Guild Wars 2 has a weird versions of this:
- Due to heavy use of "dynamic level adjustment" scaling higher-level characters down to a power level appropriate to the zone, pretty much no enemy is ever entirely trivial, no matter how much you should outclass them.
- Another example stems from the inconsistent manner in which animals are designated as normal enemies or non-combat critters; one deer might be a reasonable fight with a knockdown ability while another standing mere feet from it might be a one-shot kill.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic has a few examples:
- The game places max-level turrets and guard NPCs at the entrance of every major settlement that the players of the opposing faction (Empire or Republic) can theoretically enter, in order to prevent them from infiltrating a PvP-safe zone. This, however, begs the question of why should the low-level PCs bust their asses following the story and working their way up through the ranks if their faction already has enough epic level fighters on freaking guard duty to capture the enemy capital (which actually only has a handful of high-level NPCs because it is inaccessible by the opposing faction) and end the war overnight.
- Really blatant with the Operations as of patch 3.3. Each operation is for what used to be the max level when it came. As a result, the weakest of all Final Bosses is a Sorcerous Overlord from a race of Abusive Precursors who was sealed away by his own race because they feared him... on the upper end, you have a pirate gang without a single Force user.
- Patch 4.0 attempts to avert this as much as possible. All operations are now at Level Cap, and Level Scaling is universally implemented. Meaning, if you are on a level 30 planet, your stats are those of a level 35 at best.
- The Elder Scrolls Online: The rather unique levelling system means that you'll do the same amount of damage whether you're level 1 or level 50. Good news: People can adventure together even if one is vastly higher or lower level. Bad news: Enemies that traditionally become super easy to kill (such as mudcrabs) never become easy to kill, always taking just as many hits.
- In Dwarf Fortress.
"For ages, the crown of the King of Beasts has rested upon no head, the title long being vacant. Elephants became docile long ago, Carp have shrunk even smaller than they once were and dwarves made less fearful of their terrifying stare, and Giant Cave Spiders had the razor-tips of their fangs filed off.But now, a new beast, freshly wrought from the blood-forges of Armok himself, has begun its reign of terror over the land. He made it ubiquitous, such that all would know its name. He filled it with fury, such that none would think it harmless. And He granted several of them tremendous size and insatiable anger far beyond that of their normal kin, such that even those who had thought they had mastered them had still more treacherous foes to be slain by.There is a new King of Beasts, and its name is Badger. Tremble before it."This may seem to contradict earlier claims of the badger being harmless. This is true, for a single badger or for small groups. Unfortunately, they tend to enter the map in huge "badger storms", swirling masses of highly irritable, lightning quick, sharp-clawed monsters. Any dwarf unlucky enough to be caught alone in a badger storm will soon find themselves being torn to shreds, reduced to a mangled pile of flesh...Hands and feet will be severed.
- Carp in previous versions. To quote the game's creator: "I think I made the fish too hardcore."
Dwarf Fortress actually used to have a specific fandom term for these: "King Of Beasts". First it was elephants, then carp, then Giant Cave Spiders and Unicorns. They are usually nerfed in later versions. Currently, the crown is held by the mighty Badger.
- 34.01 handed it off temporarily to the dreaded giant mosquito... or rather, the swarms of ~200 giant mosquitos that show up when they spawn.
- Which in turn handed it off to the Giant Sponge. That's right, a sessile creature with no nervous system (yet somehow capable of becoming enraged and killing dwarves) has become a menace to Dwarven society on par with the dreaded carp. Only in Dwarf Fortress. Without a nervous system or any other major organs, only air-drowning and magma threaten giant sponges, and even though they're immobile they can still use the default "push" attack, which calculates damage based on size and weight. Dwarves aren't smart enough to avoid them without help, so the sponge has its choice of knocking them into the water or just crushing them. Armok help you if you ever see undead giant sponges; they can move, leave the water, and actively hunt your dwarves. However, as of 40.01, Giant Sponges have become far less hardcore, being able to be killed with a few blunt attacks, due to the new damage system. Dwarves are still likely to be killed by them, though.
- Carp in previous versions. To quote the game's creator: "I think I made the fish too hardcore."
Role Playing Game
- Knights of the Old Republic has a few examples:
- The player faces elite Sith troopers that have boarded the ship the player character is travelling on. These are considerably weaker than general Sith troops faced later in the game, and were made so solely in order for the then-weak player character to overcome them without difficulty. This is explained later when Bastila tells you that she used her Battle Meditation to help your escape.
- KotOR's story almost entirely ignores your characters' levels as well as those of your enemies. It actually uses Level Scaling to do this, too. The experienced war hero Carth starts with only a few levels, and after a while when neither of you are likely to have many more than that, he's willing to say you have "the skills of an elite commando". The story seems to constantly assume that all the player characters are very tough already, while enemies are always about the right level for you. Towards the end, the game will start to highlight this even more with the player character, who supposedly becomes more powerful than anyone else (like, ever, practically), while only gaining levels just like the rest of them. Of course, the Player Character is always remarkably powerful... It all actually makes sense if you ignore the numbers.
- Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords lampshades the point. The main character can note this fact to the mentor. The subsequent explanation is that the Sith are drawing power off of you, so as you increase in power, they do as well. It doesn't explain every other enemy in the game, but hey, the Sith are covered.
- The most frustrating example in the first game is the Final Boss Preview around two-thirds of the way through the game. With the sort of stats you'll have at this point in the game, you flatten him, and if you don't, it's Game Over. Then Cutscene Power to the Max kicks in and he irresistibly stuns you, forcing a party member to perform a Heroic Sacrifice to save you. When you meet him for the final battle, his power is magnified by the Star Forge, a Force-imbued, star-powered factory.
- In Awakening, the expansion to Dragon Age: Origins, the hero has already fulfilled his/her destiny and defeated a godlike being, so a bunch of highwaymen on the roads between smallish cities should be easy to dispatch, right? In fact, these bandits could have completed the original campaign for you, and subsequently taken over the capital city.
- In the Pokémon games:
- The farther you get through the games, the stronger the wild Pokémon become, in spite of there not being any logical reason for the strongest Pokémon to be the farthest from your home town.
- Particularly bad offenders are the Gym Leaders; supposedly eight of the strongest Pokémon trainers, and yet the first Gym Leader has two Pokémon, of level 12 and 14, while wild Pokémon of level 30 and over are common-place later in the game.
- Interestingly, Pokémon in places that can only be reached with Surf of other HMs that can only be received later in the games also generally have levels comparable to the level the trainer would be when they get said HM. So, you can have a bunch of level 5 Pokémon in grass on one route, and surf over one square to an island where there are level 20 Pokemon.
- Many of the games have some amount of post-game content after you beat the Elite Four and/or Champion, supposedly the best trainers in the world. The trope is taken to a whole new level as you find countless ordinary trainers with Pokémon that make the Champ's seem pathetically inexperienced. This started in Pokémon Gold and Silver, where you can visit the world of Pokémon Red and Blue after beating the champ, and fight level 50+ Ace Trainers (Lance's highest-level Dragonite is 50) in Route 1 alongside the Level 2 wild Pidgeys; the levels continue to march upward until you reach the True Final Boss, who has a team of mons about 30 levels above those of the Elites. The HeartGold and SoulSilver remakes have a "rematch" Elite Four with stronger Pokémon, so that they're always tougher than any other available trainers, but this only creates further puzzlement. (Why did they stop training their team at around level 50, when plenty of mook-level trainers were already well past that point?)
- The post-game of Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 pulls the same trick: after defeating the Elite Four and foiling Ghetsis, your new quest begins in Nuvema Town, the beginning town of the previous game. Cue the ridiculous Pokemon levels. (There's a PRESCHOOLER with a LEVEL 62 Wooper! This is especially bizarre because Wooper evolves at level 20.) For extra hilarity, the girl standing in a patch of grass will also give you a standard Potion in the midst of trainers with Pokemon that can deal a lot more than 20 HP's worth of damage.
- The strongest Pokémon in existence in terms of base stats used to be Arceus, with isn't surprising due to it being the in-universe equivalent of God. That is, until Generation VI came along, in which case, both of Mewtwo's Mega Evolutions surpasses it in terms of strength, as well as Rayquaza's Mega Evolution, which can potentially be even stronger due to it being the only Pokémon that can Mega Evolve without an itemnote . Downplayed in that it's only possible for Pokémon to be within their Mega Evolved forms under certain circumstances, and even then, the alternate form is only temporary.
- While not as strong as the Mega Evolutions of Mewtwo and Rayquaza in terms of base stats, Primal Groudon and Primal Kyogre, the Primal Reversions of Groudon and Kyogre, respectively, are still more powerful than Arceus itself.
- In generation II and III, Pokémon hatched from eggs start at level 5. Wild Pokemon could be at levels as low as 2, thus being weaker than infants of the same species. From gen IV on eggs hatch Pokémon at level 1.
- The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series has missions revolving around catching criminals. But due to the mission generator, the criminal you'll find is completely random but with statistics based on the mission rank. So, you can fight very weak versions of final evolution mons around half game and unbelievably strong versions of first-stage Com Mons on late game.
- In Valkyrie Profile, one of the most horrifyingly tough enemies in the game is... a hamster. Definitely underscored when that enemy spawns from an encounter in the bonus dungeon that would normally be against a recolor of one of the final bosses. You look forward to fighting a survivable battle with a giant.
- Neverwinter Nights 2 and its expansion feature both extremes. The Duergar and Bladelings that attack the Doomed Hometown at the beginning of the game are exceedingly weak for an assault force attempting to retrieve something very dear to the Githyanki. In the expansion, the player reaches Epic levels up to 30, and most of the enemies tailored to that power level are ones that you would expect to be very powerful, like fiends. At the same time, however, enemies that should be mundane and much lower in power than the player have inflated strength to present a challenge to the player. For example, there is a "berserker lodge" containing a small number of Rashemani warriors that you can spar with to earn bonuses. If they really were so powerful as they are depicted to be, they could probably travel to the Sword Coast (where the original campaign took place), dispatch the much weaker armed forces of that region with ease and carve out their own kingdom. As one Let's Play put it:
Our previous arch-nemesis, Black Garius, was an undead mage of exceptional ability who in life used his power to become master of the Arcane Brotherhood of Luskan, one of the most cutthroat organisations on the Sword Coast, and then after his death became the right-hand of an ancient world-destroying evil, the King of Shadows. He was the Big Bad End Guy for NWN2. He was 20th Level. Only the King of Shadows had more levels than him. This Red Wizard (who doesn't even have a name) is a trainee necromancer still studying at a Thayan Academy and acting as a disposable minion for his superiors. He's the first encounter in the Mulsantir module. He's also a Level 9 Wizard/10 Red Wizard and all his gnoll buddies are 10th Level Barbarians with 18 Hit Die.
- A Neverwinter Nights 1 walkthrough listed the initial destruction of the academy as "Attack of the 1 HP Kobolds" note , who proceed to decimate a school full of several level 1 adventurers and all their teachers. Heck, most of the fellow student NPCs at the graduation ceremony die in the first battle!
- Final Fantasy games suffer from this one at times, especially when the Bonus Dungeon features Palette Swap versions of regular enemies who are stronger than the last boss:
- A recent offender is Crisis Core, where the SOLDIER missions feature a fairly limited palette of generic monsters who sometimes appear with boss-level stats as the missions get harder. Most egregious was a Mission tier in which a hard battle with a hologram of Sephiroth was followed by a much, much, MUCH harder battle with... a chicken.
- The Dawn Of Souls remake of Final Fantasy I features Bonus Dungeons where you can fight bosses from the other 2D games. The bosses from III, IV, and V start out as on par with Tiamat in the Temple of Fiends and only get stronger from there, but they're all either elemental fiends themselves, or beings like Gilgamesh or Atomos, so it basically checks out. Then you get to VI, where the bosses include an Ultros with three times as many HP as Tiamat.
- This trope crops up Final Fantasy XIII with the Sanctum's Bioweapons. The datalog entry on the Bioweapons claims that the Bioweapons are just as strong as their wild kin, but in gameplay statistically almost all of the wild versions of a given Bioweapon are far stronger than the Bioweapon version, particularly when one gets to Pulse. For example, the Pulsian Behemoths would defeat all but the Proto-Behemoths in the endgame with ease, and even those wouldn't last long.
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind features two Expansion Packs, Tribunal and Bloodmoon. As they were designed for higher level characters than Morrowind's main quest, a number of enemies are as hard or harder than the final boss of that quest. The final boss of Morrowind is a four-millennia old Physical God that three other deities were unable to defeat, and very few of the enemies in the expansions are anything nearly so spectacular story-wise.
- In Tales of Symphonia:
- One Bonus Boss turns out to be Celes, Zelos' sickly younger sister. Despite having spent her entire life in a cloister and having done none of the adventuring, fighting or anything that the party has, she's still tougher than most of the regular bosses in the game, which includes dragons, robotic guardians, and 4000-year old combat veterans with Magitek implants. This is Hand Waved by her use of a an exsphere and having an elven grandparent, giving her access to high level magic. It's also worth noting that if she were fought with a full party instead of one-on-one, she would not be difficult at all.
- And in the way of regular enemies, we have gems like starved convicts that turn out to be more powerful than Desian elite troopers.
- The Bonus Bosses in Xenoblade Chronicles all break the level cap, while the Final Boss is around Level 80. This means that Despotic Arsene, a Bunnit'', is considerably stronger that the God of Bionis.
- The Final Boss of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is said to be the strongest Artifice ever created. ...Despite the fact that another, supposedly lesser Artifice is one of the Bonus Bosses, and thus a lot stronger.
- Fallout 3 features a few examples:
- The Broken Steel expansion can use this when it comes to leveling you companions. By the time Dogmeat is at level 30, he'll be able to survive nukes detonating in his face. This means that the mutt can take down squads of power-armored Enclave soldiers and hulking Super Mutants all on his own. To counterbalance this, it also introduces a trifecta of disproportionately overpowered enemies that usually start appearing around Level 15 and increase in frequency onward: Super Mutant Overlords, Albino Radscorpions, and Feral Ghoul Reavers. Worse, they can randomly show up in some locations regardless of the player's level, for example, you can run into an Overlord at GNR Building Plaza during "Following in His Footsteps", the very first story quest after leaving the vault. If you're at a high enough level, you may encounter as many as five Overlords or Reavers at once.
- In the Point Lookout DLC, a level 30 player character capable of almost effortlessly slaughtering the Powered Armor wearing, plasma rifle-wielding Elite Mooks of the Enclave can get massacred by nearly naked Tribals and Swampfolk armed with 19th century repeating rifles and woodcutting axes who are capable of taking several shots in the face from a .44 Magnum before going down. And this is because they have an unresistable 35 point damage bonus on top of all their attacks for no reason at all. Fake Difficulty at it's finest. The Point Lookout enemies deserve mention because most of them are simple humans mutated by radiation and inbreeding, using low quality weapons. But the game is coded to give them an unseen damage and resistance bonus based on the player's level, so at high level the mutated hicks somehow hit harder than Super Mutants or top of the line military equipment-wielding powered armor soldiers.
- Similar to the aforementioned Point Lookout enemies, the Fallout: New Vegas DLC enemies can become disproportionately overpowered at high levels, for example at Level 40+ on Very Hard, Lonesome Road's Tunnelers will two-shot you and its upgraded Deathclaws will one-shot you, regardless of armor, and even Lobotomites in Old World Blues deal bonus damage that can chop off up to half your HP, more than you can deal with the same weapons. The Lonesome Road example is somewhat justified by The Divide being a hellish Death World even by Wasteland standards, Deathclaws already being The Dreaded of the series and Tunnelers being shown to be able to go toe-to-toe with a Deathclaw when hunting in packs.
- The Witcher series has a couple of examples:
- In The Witcher Kikimore are portrayed as pests throughout chapter 3, but can be difficult to take out at the start of the chapter, even though you have at this point killed supposedly much more powerful creatures.
- In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt enemies are occasionally buffed to serve as a Beef Gate to high-end quests. This can result in absurdities such as a swarm of ghouls, usually considered bread-and-butter work for a Witcher, being roughly as powerful as a vampire or a stone golem.
- In Dungeon Siege, power inflates at an incredibly rapid rate; at the beginning of the game, 10 hit points on an enemy is a lot, and by the end, 1000 hit points is average. This mostly works as far as flavor goes, as the environments and enemies do become increasingly dramatic and scary, but it becomes obvious when one meets the occasional Palette Swap of enemies from an earlier stage. The most noticeable example are the Phrak, the game's resident giant mosquitoes. Ordinary Phrak appear in early stages of the game and have 4 or 5 hit points; later, one encounters Forest Phrak, which have 202 hit points, and yet, mowing down dozens of Forest Phrak is far easier than taking on a handful of Phrak from back home. Most enemies that receive such an upgrade at least have the justification of actually seeming more dangerous (for instance, the low-level Rock Beast is recolored into a Lava Beast, which logic dictates would be much deadlier), but the Forest Phrak seem to be just as natural as their farmland cousins and are, indeed, smaller.
- Not exactly fighting them at first, but in Dungeon Siege II, the Mordens in the first chapter are much weaker than ones that appear later.
- In Kingdom Hearts, Captain Hook, who is merely a pirate captain without any special powers and is often depicted as a Harmless Villain, has higher stats and HP than Jafar's genie form or giant Ursula. The same types of enemies become stronger as the story progresses, as well. This is lampshaded in the opening with the narration reading, "The closer you get to the light, the greater your shadow becomes."
- In Chain of Memories, Riku fights his way through Castle Oblivion backwards, so Level 1 Riku is dumped right into Hollow Bastion, traditionally one of the last worlds, if not the last world, in a typical Kingdom Hearts game. Suddenly, fearsome-looking Defenders, Wizards and Darkballs are reduced to being as defenseless as kitty cats.
- In Skies of Arcadia Legends:
- One of the Bonus Bosses are a trio of con-artist actors who are trying to capitalize on the party's fearsome reputation to scam people for money, and will fight you when you try to bring them in. Despite this definite civilian background, every single one of them have more HP than your entire party combined and possess variants of your own moves that are many times more powerful — which raises the question of why they didn't simply become Air Pirates on their own instead.
- Another Bonus Boss is a young boy who is, by his own admission, a coward who abhors violence and would like to become a blanketweaver instead of succeeding his late father into the Air Pirate business. Again, he is many times more endurable than the party combined and knows many of the highest-level spells for no adequately explained reason.
- City guards and soldiers (and bandits etc.) in the Baldur's Gate series grow consistently more powerful as you go through the games and expansions, to the point that by the end, even basic infantry in the Tethyrian army are magically armed and armored supermen to keep up with the fact that your player character is more or less the biggest badass on the planet by that point (except for the bosses). Humorously, this means that the Amnish guards from Shadows of Amn could effortlessly dominate the Flaming Fist from Baldur's Gate... and the main plot of that game involved preventing a war between those two powers. Guess it's a good thing for the Gate that you succeeded, eh?
The effect is noticeable between the first and second games, but it becomes more so with Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal, which basically breaks the logic of the established setting altogether. In Shadows of Amn, when you met, say, an 18th-level character, they'd be considered very powerful as they would be in the setting at large (like the legendary hero Drizzt Do'Urden, who's not quite level 18). In Throne of Bhaal, such characters are a dime a dozen, and even regular mooks, such as the abovementioned rank-and-file Tehyrian soldiers, are well armed and strong enough to stand up to a party past level 20. It goes the other way as well; Ilasera is one of the Five, a group of immensely powerful Bhaalspawn tearing the land apart, but she's also the very first enemy you face, and the devs have to account for the player starting their game at Throne of Bhaal and thus having to fight her solo, so her abilities consist of casting low level magic and trying ineffectively to stab you.
- Chrono Cross has this on display too:
- Early in the game, you face what are billed as at worst Elite Mooks. Naturally, the teenage protagonist and the kind girl next door carve a bloody swath through them. These guys are about on par with mutant plant creatures nearby... and certainly no match for the actual generic enemies later on.
- And let's not forget that the most powerful of the Acacia Dragoons is not the battle-axe wielding warrior or the muscled mountain of a gladiator, but a nine-year-old girl in a pretty dress, who has more Hit Points than the two others combined and deals more physical damage just by kicking you in the shin with her shoes. Darcy is, however, a Demi-human (not that kind, though). That Dragon blood in her likely accounts for the perceived disparity.
- Dragon Quest IX had this:
- The demonic witch Morag. Her backstory indicates that she single-handedly brought about the destruction of the entire kingdom of Brigadoom. However, at the end of the day, she is merely the third boss fought in the entire game. So that legendary demonic witch of lore? Yeah, she got her blue butt handed to her by a few rookies armed with oak staves and laundry poles.
- Post-game DLC (which had probably been planned in advance) reveals that she actually wasn't responsible for destroying Brigadoom, she "only" captured its hero. The actual destroyer of Brigadoom is much stronger (but much weaker than your party will be by the time you unlock the quest).
- Any The Lord of the Rings RPG featuring the Uruk-Hai before the orcs. According to Word of God, The Uruk-Hai are superior to orcs, but they are much weaker than orcs in any RPG where they are faced first. Even the goblins are stronger than them in the GBA version of Return of the King.
- Happens in every Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario game, where you encounter traditional Mario enemies really late in the game that just happen to be about a hundred times more powerful than they have any right to be. Good examples include Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (which has normal Piranha Plants found in floors 70+ of the Pit of 100 Trials, that happen to have endgame stats), Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (which has more ridiculously overpowered Piranha Plants and Boos with sky high defences, despite both being usually common Mario mooks) and Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, where Piranha Plants, Goombas and Shy Guys have ridiculously high stats and complex attacks for their species, Antasma starts as a warm-up boss, and Bowser Jr is somehow a Bonus Boss with more power than the final one! Who happens to be his dad with reality warper powers...
- Evil Islands: Mostly played straight, with a few aversions. The different types of Underground Monkey have completely different health depending of the island you are, and the giant spiders you fight in the Death Canyon (that you're forced to complete while alone and with obsolete equipment) are strangely weak compared to the ones you fight elsewhere in Suslanger. However, in Suslanger you encounter hyenas which have about the same power as the dogs you encountered in Ingos. This actually has some logic, but makes hyenas look pathetic when compared to the rest of enemies in Suslanger.
- Inazuma Eleven zigzags this frequently: on the one hand, random encounters tend to remain pretty much wimpier than you throughout the game, regardless if they are your school bullies or elite body guards (justified in some of the releases, since you're either playing a national team against amateurs or your team is training to be strong enough to defend the world/the sport/the timelines); on the other, depending on when you battle a team throughout your playthroughs it might have significantly worse stats than what the story might imply. One egregious example comes from Teikoku Academy, awarded the national title 40 years in a row but whose stats are inferior to a team of countrymen farmers.
- The Shin Megami Tensei series sometimes has this on a mythological level. Some games have the Pale Rider, usually considered the strongest of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse as being weaker than the White Rider. Titania is almost always stronger than her husband Oberon. Ares is usually one of the weaker members of the Greek Pantheon, etc.
- In Freelancer:
- The spacecraft you encounter become progressively more powerful as you advance through the game and move from one House to another. This results in the observation that the pirates in Rhineland could easily move in to Liberty and take over.
- Lampshaded in a way if the player goes to planet Crete, where a quick glance at the news shows that the Corsairs actually are planning to invade Rhineland and take over. And they are more concerned about the intervention of other pirates than they are about the other three nations!
- Even tabletop games are not immune to this. One of the most famous was a common house cat in 3E Dungeons & Dragons. Not a challenge to a PC, but one could easily maim a human peasant in the first round of combat. Or a level 1 wizard. Using the Class and Level System the Dungeon Master could also create some bizarre opponents for the players, like an epic-level commoner, but such challenges were not built into the system.
- D&D can also fall into this in a more conventional sense, as the game is designed for many different levels of power. For one example, the Big Bad of the mid-level adventure Red Hand of Doom adventure is an 11th-level half-dragon cleric, an individual who considers himself blessed by the goddess Tiamat and powerful enough to open a permanent door to Hell and hold sway over thousands of hobgoblins. Meanwhile, the random unnamed henchmen and wandering monsters in the high-level book Elder Evils hit 10th level at minimum. And at the extreme high-end, the Epic Level Handbook features a random magical dinosaur with no particular history or origin, and a CR higher than the setting-destroying Eldritch Abominations in the above book.
- Exalted came within a hair's breadth of publishing stats for a rat that could kill farmers singlehandedly in one hit. Not a giant rat. A regular rat.
- Magic: The Gathering can often fall into this, with a creature's stats being disproportionately high or low in relation to other cards. The Horseshoe Crab in particular is a minor Memetic Badass for this; with a P/T of 1/3, a single crab could defeat elven swordsmen, ogre warriors, and, in an arena, entire regiments of cavalry.
- This is partly because in Magic, a statline of 1/1 is generally considered to be that of an ordinary to moderately-trained human and anywhere in between that, with anything above that usually representing either a legendary warrior, a mage, a monster, or an animal. Problem is, this leaves a lot of leeway: for instance, a mighty warrior of Ancient Grome would be completely unable to damage a small cat without help, and he'd get his ass handed to him by a philosopher - who, inexplicably, has the same statline as a grizzly bear.
- A particularly silly one is Segovian Leviathan, a card whose artwork shows it being so large, its eyes dwarf nearby whales. Its statline? 3/3, the same as a mundane elephant and completely unremarkable, especially compared to most Leviathans. A later expansion would reveal that, in fact, Segovia is about 1/100 the size of most planes, and the Segovian Leviathan is indeed roughly the same size as an elephant - it only looks big because it's next to whales the size of goldfish.
- In the game tie-in for Cardfight!! Vanguard, any relationship between a card's flavour and its stats is completely coincidental; it's the grade that determines the power band a card generally exists in, not what makes sense from, say, Magic: The Gathering logic. For example: the Nova Grapplers' Battleraizer is a mecha large enough to have a human pilot, like all Raizers; it has an attack power of 3000. The same clan's Three Minutes is a professional wrestler with high-tech gloves and boots; he has an attack power of 5000, or, in other words, the guy on foot with the fancy gloves can attack the building-sized combat robot and be guaranteed a win unless a trigger has given the robot a stat boost.
Turn Based Strategy
- In People's General, depicting a hypothetical war between China and most of the rest of the world starting in 2005, the designers compensated for weak AI by having Chinese units actually be stronger in terms of baseline stats compared to the more technologically advanced units fielded by the US, Russia, and other countries more highly developed than China. In the Western campaign, this was compounded by making most of the Chinese units the player faces ridiculously elite, fully overstrength and have an abundance of special leaders that conferred additional advantages.
- In Final Fantasy Tactics:
- The Lucavi are stated to be powerful enough to battle armies single-handedly. So logically, they'd be ridiculously hard, right? Wrong; almost all Lucavi, save Belias and Elidibs, are very easy to defeat. Hell, more often than not their human forms are far harder as bosses.
- Belias is only even hard because of the demons he spawns with.
- A more specific example of the trope is that enemies in plot-based missions have fixed levels, while random encounters level with the player. At high levels you might be able to easily dispatch the multiple consecutive main villains in the final dungeon, but get slaughtered by random Level 99 monks and samurais while exploring the overworld.
- Happens on Super Robot Wars occasionally. Who would've thought than the ZGMF-X13A Providence, a standard, if powerful Real Robot, had the same HP than Z-Master.note
- Happens a lot in Disgaea, due to the series' Absurdly High Level Cap of 9999. At the end of the story campaign, the final boss will usually be about level 100, and considered capable of ruling or destroying the world if the protagonists don't stop him. As soon as you enter the post game, however, you'll swiftly be facing regular mooks who are ten times as powerful. You can also intentionally cause this trope by passing Stronger Enemy bills, increasing the strength of every foe in the game for better Level Grinding opportunities.
- Similar to the Super Robot Wars example above, Project X Zone has this in spades as a result of it's massive cast. Characters range from normal humans to demonic demigods to alien robots, all of whom are equal in their ability tear through the hordes of enemies of several worlds.