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Optional Character Scene
A video game trope in which a scene only plays out if a certain character or characters is brought along with the main characters (though usually it depends on being in the party). Mostly used for Character Development but may also be used for humor or to make an otherwise pointless place important.

Often ties in with other "Optional" tropes.


Examples

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    RPG 
  • Final Fantasy VII - The scene in Lucrecia's cave only takes place if you bring Vincent with you.
    • Of special note is a single line of dialogue delivered exclusively by Aeris if you hack her back into the party after the Forgotten City. This is a combination of the Square preparing for any technical problems with characters who shouldn't be in a given scene, and scaling back Aeris's death from the Northern Cave Crater.
  • Final Fantasy VI - Multiple for example Bringing Cyan to the Dinner in Vector will make General Leo address him specifically and apologize for Doma.
    • Final Fantasy VI has another rather odd one: the optional scene where Gau confronts his father has to be triggered by Sabin for some reason, though Gau must be there too. The dialogue changes depending on the other characters in the active party, but some only get lines if they're not active.
    • Also throughout the game in certain cutscenes a certain character will be given certain lines. If that character is not present, then it will simply be a generic line in quotation marks. For example, when the party meets Ramuh, if Locke is present he'll remark that his grandmother told him about Espers. If Locke isn't there, the line will be said but attributed to no one.
    • If Edgar and Sabin are in the party during the opera sequence, a significant twist is revealed about the coin used for Setzer's coin flip... which was used once before.
    • The first time the game let you form a teamif you have Sabin in your party, he is going to leave you as soon as you set a foot on Figaro's Castle, rejoining you when you leave. However, if you have both, Sabin and Edgar, a cutscene will be triggered if you sleep in the castle, and after this Sabin will not leave you party anymore when you wander Figaro. Also, for this same trip, if Locke is with you, when you go to Kohlingen you get to see some scenes of Rachel. Now, if Celes is with you here, and she saw Locke reminiscing about Rachel, she (Celes) will linger a little bit more after the party leaves, staring at Rachel's corpse and wondering about Locke's pain.
  • Final Fantasy IX - Quan's Dwelling in has an extra scene if you return there with Vivi and Quina in your party at a certain point of the game.
    • In fact, Final Fantasy IX's main conceit is the ability to view scenes with characters you don't have with you. All of these are optional, but can sometimes net the player a nice item or piece of equipment via the offscreen characters actions.
  • ''Final Fantasy VIII'
    • During the Galbadian occupation of Zell's hometown, the party gets a chance to rest up in his room. Depending on which optional party member you bring along, the scene changes drastically. Selphie messes up Zell's bed, Quistis tells an embarrassing anecdote, Irvine tests out Zell's antique gun collection, and Rinoa asks about Zell's grandfather.
    • At the Deep Sea Research Facility, if Zell is in your party prior to entering the ruins, he'll solve a puzzle for you, and allow you to reach Ultima Weapon more easily.
  • Knights of the Old Republic 2 - bringing certain party members to the tomb of Freedon Nadd will bring up a scene where they are tempted by the dark energy there.
  • Optional Private Actions are the only way to build Relationship Values in Star Ocean: The Second Story besides special items and fighting a ridiculous number of battles together.
  • In Chrono Trigger, most characters get variations on the same line, but there's quite a bit of this as well. Most notably, after Crono's death is reversed, Marle or Lucca will hug Crono and relay how much they missed him; if neither character is in the active party, Frog or Robo will simply welcome him back.
    • Interestingly, in the above mentioned scene, if you have both Marle and Lucca, Marle is given top priority and you miss out on Lucca's scene.
  • Extensively used in Ogre Battle, where you not only get additional dialogue for having optional characters in party (often ones who were optional themselves to even recruit), but for having them be the specific character to lead certain attacks - and to top it off, recruiting certain characters or getting certain items (including ending-affecting items) can be dependent on who you have in your army and who you send to fight key enemies.
  • Xenogears has an optional dungeon near the end where you not only get an extra scene for having Emeralda in group, she grows up, or at least takes an adult looking form. The main gameplay benefit this has is giving her vastly improved stat gains when she levels up. The developers seem to have expected you to view this scene, because Emeralda appears grown-up in the ending.
  • Pokémon Diamond and Pearl require you to have Registeel, Regice and Regirock in order to awaken (and fight) Regigigas in Snowpoint Temple.
    • Platinum reverts this: with a Regigigas that you can receive in a Nintendo event, you can fight the other three Regis. Naturally, as Platinum is an Updated Re-release of Diamond and Pearl, you can use the three Regis that you've caught in this way to awaken the Regigigas in Snowpoint Temple. Moreover, you can receive a Gracidea Flower from a girl in Floaroma Town if you show her a Shaymin (that can equally be received only through a Nintendo Event). The Gracidea changes Shaymin between its Land and Sky Forme.
    • Heartgold and Soulsilver have even more of these. You can again receive the Gracidea, this time by showing a Shaymin to a girl in the Goldenrod Flower Shop. Then you can receive a peculiar Pichu (one with a fluff of fur over its right ear, properly called the Spiky-Eared Pichu) by examining the shrine in Ilex Forest while having a Nintendo event shiny Pichu in the first slot of the party. You can unlock a new place, the Sinjoh Ruins, by having an Arceus (itself obtainable only through a Nintendo event, again) in the first slot of the party and talking to a person in the Ruins of Alph. This way, you can watch one weird ritual of summoning and receive either a Dialga, Palkia or Giratina at level 1, each holding its signature Orb. Finally, you can unlock a rather important story cutscene (and battle) if you bring a Nintendo evet Celebi to the Ilex Shrine.
    • In Black and White, you can transfer four Nintendo event Pokémon - the three shiny beasts Entei, Suicune and Raikou, and Celebi - from a Generation IV game through the Transfer Machine (they're the only 4 Pokémon that can be ported in this way). Transferring one of the shiny beasts unlocks the Illusion Forest where Zoroark can be caught, while if you show the Celebi to a girl in one of the Castelia City gates you'll receive a Zorua.
  • In Marvel Ultimate Alliance, various player characters have dialogues with different NPCs, usually ones they have some connection to.
  • A wide variety of character interactions Dragon Age: Origins (and Awakening) between different companions in different locations. When entering the Fade to rescue Connor's soul, you can pick from a number of companions or supporting characters to give A Day In The Lime Light to.
    • Dragon Age II takes this trope to a slightly different conclusion, where the characters in your party can sometimes join in on a conversation and effect its outcome. E.g. Varric can outright lie and charm to get out of trouble, Anders will offer magey advice, Fenris punches through people's chests. The Player Character has similar options depending on what class they are, or what personality (Diplomatic, Charming, Aggressive) they establish.
    • The "Legacy" DLC is based around a mysterious link between Hawke's father and the Grey Wardens, so your surviving sibling or ex-Warden Anders have the most to say. In "Mark of the Assassin", Isabela and Aveline get the most detailed sidequests. Isabela gets to save (or not) some pirates turned to stone by a curse, while Aveline finds a confusing Sequel Hook to do with her family's roots in Orlais.
  • In Romancing SaGa, there are a few of these, often linked to various Sidequests.
    • During a certain period of time around the mid-game, resting at an Inn with Claudia in your party leads to her having a strange dream asking her to return to Mazewood. Agreeing to go with her leads to a special Sidequest that reveals her Secret Legacy. On a wider scale, simply having her in the party can trigger various extra dialogue and mini-scenes during various quests in Melvir, as well as getting attacked without any explanation by the assassins patrolling the capital's streets.
    • While her presence isn't required for completing the related Sidequest, taking Aisha back to the Taralian Camp after a certain point leads to her temporarily leaving the party to search the deserted village, followed by your leader giving her a short pep-talk. She also has an extended scene if you take her along to Merholm, in which she copes with learning about her heritage and deciding not to remain in the Hidden Elf Village with her grandfather and people.
    • Near the end of Jamil's prologue, a short scene triggers with Dowd where he asks to stay behind in South Estamir rather than be dragged along. Agreeing to this sets up a chain of events necessary for making Dowd recruitable in other scenarios, entailing meeting him again later on as a Brainwashed and Crazy masked assassin whom Jamil fatally wounds before learning the truth, making the related Sidequest more personal.
    • Triggering these with Darque is key to his Sidequest, as all of his scenes involve him regaining different memories until he finally discovers who he was. (Which is harder than it sounds, considering he actually has two sets of memories due to being possessed by another's soul, who can completely takeover if you favor her over him.)
  • Plentiful in Fallout: New Vegas, as these are usually lead ins or events as part of that companion's particular loyalty quest. These can range from the game's usual Black Comedy to absolute Tear Jerker in terms of content. Your canine companion also has a unique non-quest Timmy in a Well event that only triggers if you elected to flip the Silliness Switch at the start of the game.
  • The Tales series has featured these since the second game in the form of skits.
  • Live A Live will only show a scene (continuing a Running Gag) in the Martial Arts chapter if you picked Sammo as the martial arts inheritor.
  • Since Final Death is present throughout the Fire Emblem series, oftentimes the dev team will think of everything and change dialogue according to which characters are present and which characters aren't. Path of Radiance goes to particular lengths with this trope, with many scenes having a huge amount of variations depending on character survival. Even some Support Conversations change to reflect specific character deaths!
    • But by far the biggest example in the game, and possibly the entire series, is Chapter 20. Previously, it was possible to recruit Jill, a Wyvern Rider from the country you're fighting. The enemy commander in this chapter is her father. Dialogue here changes depending on:
      • If Jill is deployed. This is also affected by whether or not you viewed an optional conversation with her last chapter, or if she's formed a friendship with Mist.
      • If she is, having Jill fight the generic enemy Mooks results in dialogue, where they yell at her for being a traitor.
      • Shiharam's speech to his second-in-command changes depending on if Jill was recruited or not.
      • And by far the biggest and most shocking: it's possible for Jill to speak to her father. If you didn't develop her Relationship Values just right, it's actually possible for her to switch sides and join the enemy. If this happens, there's no going back: you'll have to kill her.
    • The support/base conversations of the later Fire Emblem games fill this role quite nicely, and are a large part of the series's appeal.
    • Throughout the series, several bosses have different dialogue if fought with certain characters. Even rarer are the bosses that have different death quotes if defeated with a specific character, such as defeating Bryce with Ike in Path of Radiance, or defeating Yen'fay with Say'ri in Fire Emblem Awakening.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • Mass Effect 1: Bringing Liara with you to Noveria triggers some extra dialogue between her and Matriarch Benezia. If you had Wrex and chose to save the Rachni, he would demand an explanation. Also, bringing Ashley and Kaidan to the Citadel triggers the "oceans, beautiful women, this emotion called love" scene.
    • The sequel has quite a few small, optional, easily missable scenes like this. Of note is this, triggered by bringing Garrus and Tali to a specific staircase on the Citadel:
      Tali: No.
      Garrus: Come on, remember how we'd all ask you about life on the flotilla? It was an opportunity to share!
      Tali: This conversation is over.
      Garrus: Tell me again about your immune system!
      Tali: I have a shotgun.
      Garrus: ...Maybe we'll talk later.
      • There are quite a few of these if you bring Legion with you on Tali's loyalty mission. The best example from the third game would be bringing Javik, last of the protheans on the Thessia mission - you'll get the same reveal with any lineup, but he has a lot more detail to add.


One Scene, Two MonologuesScenesParents Walk In At The Worst Time
Gotta Catch Them AllInteractive Storytelling TropesOptional Sexual Encounter

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