Useless Useful Spell
aka: Useless Useful Skill
"Wait, what's this? You only have status-inducing magic spells? Why, those
A staple of RPGs
, your characters can learn attacks or skills such as Instant Death, Poison, Confusion, Paralyze, Silence, and Petrify
, or Percent Damage Attacks
that at first glance seem incredibly useful. However, in reality these spells are usually anything but
useful, for any, and often several
, of the following reasons:
- Bosses, sub-bosses, and other types of enemies that actually pose a threat to the player are always extremely resistant or immune to such attacks. If they weren't, the Useless Useful Spell would make things far too easy, and might even be a form of Disc One Nuke.
- Common enemies that the attacks are effective against can easily be disposed of by use of normal attacks, which means there's no sense in wasting time and magic power on fancy maneuvers. Who's going to waste 36MP to cast Instant Death on the local harmless Underground Monkey? Or wait for Poison to kill your opponent when often other methods do damage much faster? This is perhaps one of the most common examples of this trope — in some games it's quicker to just beat them up in a couple rounds instead of spending a round or two inflicting debuffs or status ailments and then beating them up. (This varies; sometimes there is a boss or an Elite Mook that requires more strategy.)
- The spell simply has a very low success rate.
- A glitch in the game's programming makes the spell less effective than it was meant to be.
- The effect is something which only becomes significant after surviving a battle. Poison is often far too slow to make a difference during Random Encounters, but you have to cure it or take constant damage even when not fighting.
- Casting the spell involves an Unskippable Cutscene that slows down gameplay, where a straight-forward attack may only take a split-second.
- The spell's effect is very situational. Sure, protection from curses sounds great, but is it really worth the trouble when almost nothing uses curses? Or the anti-ice spell that only works if the enemy is a left handed wizard named "Tim"?
- The spell is theoretically useful, but not for the character who gets it. Such as a physical attack that can only be used by a Squishy Wizard.
- The spell's effects can be replicated by gear or party members, making it redundant at best. No sense conjuring magical armor when regular armor does the same thing better.
- The spell either takes too long to cast or uses too many resources, meaning that lesser spells that can be used more often are more practical.
- The spell's effect prevents you from using other abilities while active. Turning into a giant snake sounds impressive until you have to do something that requires hands again.
- The spell's effect is simply not powerful enough. The effect of the spell actually might be useful in theory if it had only been taken to a higher degree. Such as a 1% increase to movement speed or a heal spell that only boosts your hit point bar several pixels. This is one of the most common expressions of this trope in modern games.
Of course, when any enemy possesses such spells, they will invariably be effective when used on you
, unless you happen to be wearing a type of armor that protects against such attacks or status effects. In many cases, this explains the presence of the spell; it's not so useful in the player's hands, but when the enemy uses it against the party, it's a significant threat.
Most character classes made up of buff
effects like this tend to be much less popular than others
for these reasons. However, it's averted with relative frequency; many games do allow for some very effective use of traditionally "Useless" spells. One trick is to pair up the effect with a normal attack, meaning that if the spell misses, the player still deals damage. Other games, especially the more strategic ones, make these spells useful by having Elite Mooks
who are genuinely dangerous in battle but without such immunities, or simply by having base Mooks
be more credible opponents.
These attacks are also far more useful in MMORPGs
due to generally stronger Mooks
and player controlled enemies that are very vulnerable to such tactics. Useless Useful Spells
are often hated among MMORPG
communities for their ability to handicap player characters (often even better than when used on Mooks
due to the computer cheating
). However, in PvP
is a different story!
Judging by the way this has been going away in recent years and is less and less accepted, it seems to be on its way to becoming a Discredited Trope
. May however be an Acceptable Break from Reality
regarding some; because it would not make a boss (especially the Final Boss
) very challenging to be able to just hit "Instant Death".
to Contractual Boss Immunity
. Compare Awesome but Impractical
. Contrast with the Inverse Law of Utility and Lethality
, where the more powerful something is in combat, the less it is outside of it.
When an otherwise Useless Useful Spell is redeemed by being useful against a specific boss or in a particular situation, it is Not Completely Useless
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- Dungeons & Dragons, the original RPG, completely inverts this trope in its 3rd edition; traditionally Useless Useful Spells tend to be the most useful spells in the game, with direct damage spells falling well below them in power level. This is because most spells are equally likely to succeed in affecting a foe, thus a spell which can kill a foe is far more effective than a spell which can hurt one. Some status affecting spells automatically succeed, and many others are essentially the same as spells which outright kill foes because they completely disable them for long periods of time, allowing players to kill them at their leisure. Relatively few foes are immune to such spells, while many foes are resistant to elemental damage spells, adding insult to injury. A wide variety of spells which don't even directly harm opponents are also extremely powerful, and all in all this leads to wizards and other powerful spellcasters being game breakers.
- But it gets nasty in the Epic Level Handbook. If you look at the creature section, you'll see 9 times out of 10 that the creature is immune to paralysis, sleep, polymorphing, level draining, death spells, necromancy in general (those last 3 makes Epic Necromancers grind their teeth in frustration), stunning, dazing, mind-affecting magic, critical hits (just to make critical specialization useless), and so on. Not to mention that in turn these monsters will almost certainly have abilities that amount to "save or die" for the whole group and one or two nastier epic spells. All this is sort of offset by the fact that epic player characters almost always have the ability to resurrect each other at will with no XP penalties (there's a price, but minor by now).
- The other thing you have to consider here is that the Epic Spellcasting rules effectively turn any character with 21+ CL into a Person of Mass Destruction. The fact that they pretty much ignore most of the limits and immunities created by normal spellcasting is just icing on the cake. Using the printed rules you can quite easily synthesize a spell that, when cast once, effectively makes the caster powerful enough to kick the asses of every single character ever printed in any supplement. At once. Without using magic. The levels from 20-21 aren't so much quadratic in growth as much as dividing by zero.
- Oddly enough, the trope is followed in Dungeons & Dragons Online, the MMORPG. Although instant kills are still very effective against Mooks, bosses are immune to most if not all mind-affecting and instant death spells. Thankfully, this only applies to the main bosses of dungeons, and, anyway, fights with them are not supposed to be "CHAAARGE -- Oh, he died."
- They seem to be attempting to fix this with the recent spell passes, and prestiges for Wizards and Sorcerors. And if you're soloing as a Pale Master, Wail and Finger are still the best bang for your buck, spell-point-wise.
- In 4th Edition, however, direct-damage and status-effect spells are much more balanced, because although very few enemies are immune to status effect spells, most status effects can be ended with a "saving throw" that the victim has a 55% chance of making every round, so most status effects don't last more than a couple rounds. It is possible, however, to 'permanently' stun an enemy at high levels by using the Orb of Imposition to give an enemy such a high save penalty that he can't succeed.
- To add insult to injury, the guys you really want to lock down for a round or two (nasty Solos) are usually the exact same guys that have a +5 bonus to their saving throws, meaning that they will make the save in 80% of all cases. Thus a condition like "... until the end of your next turn" is usually much more useful than "... save ends", because the Solo will most probably make his save anyway, ending the effect on his turn instead at the end of the round.
- The Orb of Imposition's penalty now only applies to one saving throw. There are other saving throw penalties that you can apply to all saves, but not enough to make the save impossible (and thus permanently lock the enemy down).
- 3.5 ed Cleric spells like Righteous Might and Divine Power tend to fall into this category. A fully buffed Cleric is perhaps the most deadly close combat fighter in the game, but by the time you're finished casting spells, the fight is almost over anyway. Now, if you have time to plan your attack, then it's another matter entirely...
- Of course, there is then the infamous gamebreaking nightstick, divine metamagic, and permanency combo. Basically, nightsticks give turning attempts, stack and are cheap. Divine metamagic allows you to do things such as make the buffs last 24 hours for turning attempts. So the ultimate warrior is not the fighter or barbarian but the cleric.
- Specific example: Detect Undead. Detect Evil is of the same level and lasts 10 times as long and picks up every undead creature (even the ones of good alignment). The only saving grace detect undead has is that it appears on the wizards spell list as well.
- Detect Undead also detects Deathless, which show up as Good instead of Evil — so it's not completely useless... Why anyone who worries about Undead would also worry about Deathless is another matter entirely.
- Wish often seems like is should be treated as a Useless Useful Spell, as it's traditional for the DM to scrutinize all wishes for ways to punish the wisher. Be Careful What You Wish For...
- There are, however, "stock" uses for Wish (and its divine cousin Miracle) which are reliable and usually not subject to any Jerkass Genie tendencies the DM may have. These include permanent stat boosts (expensive as hell, but worth it for high level characters), the creation of magic items (though by now you can probably craft them yourself with less XP cost), and duplicating pretty much any lower level spell. That last one is why high level spellcasters love to have a Wish or Miracle available. Sure, trading a 9th level spell for an 8th or lower level one sounds like a lousy deal, but the fact that it can grant access to spells you don't have prepared, don't know, or aren't even available to your class makes it a great tool in an emergency.
- The old grognards who played editions of Dungeons & Dragons from its first editions on can say this trope has been inverted since the game was created. There are very few truly useless spells.
- Spin-off Pathfinder was created when the base was broken yet again over 4th Edition. It is a rebalanced 3rd Edition variant, but most of the comments about 3.5 are valid as well. "Save or suck," spells are favorites of smart players and can basically turn a powerful enemy into a push-over in one action.
- In some ways the blast weapons of Warhammer 40,000 is starting to turn this way. Most blast weapons are quite powerful, especially heavy ordinance weapons, but due to the new way of resolving Blast weapons, you'd be pretty lucky if the shot land anywhere near your intended target (it's entirely possible that the shot will make a "return to sender" move, and there's a good chance of it happening too!). While a Space Marine can be very accurate with his aim-based Krak Missile, he is a worse shot than a drunk stormtrooper when it comes to firing the explosive Frag variant. Both missiles are fired from the same weapon.
- Also, there are very powerful weapons called meltas that basically take any vehicle or Elite Mook and melt them into slag. However, nearly all meltas in the game have a 12" range (pretty much the shortest range outside of some irregular Tyranid ones) and only obtain their extra armour penetration ability within half that. While Space Marines with insane defenses can quite happily walk up to an enemy Heavy Support unit and annihilate it with one of these, more physically frail units like Eldar will often find themselves floored by the entire enemy's weapons before they can fire them. Which is why everyone pulls them in a transport, and thanks to the Eldar having some of the fastest ones in the game it completely makes the meltas range issue moot.
- The tyranids have a variant of this. Warp Lance is a powerful Anti-tank weapon with a Strength value of 10 and AP value of 1 (the best the stats can be) as well as the Lance attribute, meaning the only thing it's short of being the best anti-tank weapon in the game is Melta. It however only has a range of 18 inches, just barely outside of charging range. On top of that the Zoanthrope is a classic example of a Squishy Wizard, having a low number of wounds and a save easily penetrable by rapid-fire weapons, not to mention being gibbed by most tank weapons, the very things it's trying to hunt. There is also a slight chance that the Zoanthrope will suffer a brain tumor if the spell goes awry.
- Pinning is worse off. Blast and Melta weapons have limitations that can be overcome, as the tank-happy Imperial Guard are happy to demonstrate. Pinning requires that the enemy is vulnerable to it. Most armies have either a preponderance of Fearless units (Chaos Marines, Chaos Daemons, Tyranids, Orks), very high Leadership (Space Marines, Eldar, Dark Eldar), or else use many small units of infantry who rely on tanks for their big hitters (Imperial Guard). Ironically, one of the few armies vulnerable to Pinning, the Tau, are its biggest users.
- For Grey Knight Paladins, Feel No Pain. Paladins are Terminators that have 2 wounds, and with Feel No Pain can virtually double that survivability because statistically half the wounds of small arms fires will be ignored. Looks great on paper, not so much in practice. The Apothecary upgrade needed for that Fn P costs 75 points, enough for another Paladin to join the squad (note that this upgrade does not give the unit another body, it just makes an existing Paladin an apothecary). On top of that, because of their high armor save and 2 wounds, Paladins are scared shitless of any AP 2 or Strength 8+ weapons already, which are the only things that will now stop their Feel No Pain, turning them from once being possible targets to now Tankshell magnets. Several who argued that Feel No Pain was considered a Game Breaker later had a serious case of Did Not Think This Through.
- Gryphon Wing and Anti Raigeki in Yu-Gi-Oh! are particularly nasty counters to Harpie's Feather Duster and Raigeki, respectively. Except that unless you know your opponent has one of those cards 'and' you're not going by Tournament rules (which dictate that Harpie's Feather Duster and Raigeki are banned)...it's just wasting space in your deck. To add insult to injury, Harpie's Feather Duster was a friggin rare card while Gryphon Wing came in a Structure Deck.
- Averted somewhat with White Hole, which prevents your monsters from being destroyed from the opponent's Dark Hole. Dark Hole is fairly used and rarely on the banned list for too long, so it has some utility to it. You're still better off with Dark Bribe, though.
- There are three cards that rely on the use of Pot of Greed: Spirit of the Pot of Greed, Avatar of the Pot of Greed and Jar Robber. The first two increase the draw of the Pot from two to three and the other negates the opponent's use of it and lets you draw one card...thing is, Pot of Greed is banned, so they're actually totally useless.
- Final Destiny has a devastating "destroy all cards on the field" effect... but it requires you to discard five cards to use it. A six-card hand (counting Final Destiny itself) in a well-built Deck would probably contain two or three options to take out your opponent's field anyway, and those options wouldn't require you to cripple yourself. Not to mention that if you draw it late in the game, you're likely to have spent most of your hand at that point, making it completely useless.
- Super Polymerization was this for a while, despite being a central card in the series. Unlike regular Polymerization, it cost a card from your hand and couldn't fuse cards in the hand (which makes trying to Fusion Summon with it very slow). Its first advantages (can't be negated and a Quick-Play) were okay, but its main attraction (can use opponent's cards in the Fusion) was less so. Simply put, it was highly unlikely that your opponent would have the right Monster on the field for you to fuse, unless you were trying to Summon a card with very vague requirements. As a result, Super Polymerization ended up being a much costlier, much slower version of Polymerization (which wasn't a very good card in the first place)... until the Attribute Heroes and the Shaddolls came out resulting in the card becoming limited.
- Infinite Cards and Hierogram Lithograph remove the hand size limit, altering a fundamental rule of the game. However, if you have more than six cards in your hand, the thing you should be doing is playing as many as you can, not letting them sit in your hand and take up space... and you certainly shouldn't be playing a card designed to make them continue to sit in your hand and take up space.
- Magic: The Gathering has quite a few:
- Sorrow's Path is too complicated and far too expensive. Being able to swap your opponent's blocking creatures is merely okay. Having to pay 2 life and suffer 2 damage to every creature you control is like saving money on glasses by stabbing yourself in both eyes.
- Apocalypse Chime destroys all Homelands cards. If Homelands cards other than Autumn Willow and Baron Sengir were actually useful, this card would be.
- Common Cause. Pointless since all Nonartifact creatures must be the same color, even your opponents. Stupid errata...
- Spells and abilities that endow creatures and to a lesser extent other permanents with specific abilities (including but not limited to the aura subtype of enchantments) may fall under this. Consider Flight. From the enchanted creature's perspective, it's potentially a great effect — it gains flying if it didn't have it already, allowing it to bypass most non-flying blockers and/or block flying attackers itself. Get to the point where you actually want to put the card into a deck, though, and you'll soon realize that if having flyers is important to your strategy, you'd best include a number of creatures that have the ability in and of themselves already in case you don't actually draw that Flight card...yet the more of those you have, the less good the card actually does you in the first place! (This logic does not, of course, apply to abilities that actually have a cumulative effect. However, many of the more commonly granted abilities — like flying, first strike, or trample — do not fall into this category.) Then there's the issue that the empowered creature isn't necessarily any harder to kill, potentially taking the entire investment in extra cards, mana, and/or other resources to the graveyard with it...
- Magic the Gathering also has a fair share of "instant win" cards — as in, they actually SAY "You win the game" or "Target player loses the game". However, they're either highly situational, require a certain action that will almost certainly get interrupted, or are just ridiculously expensive.
- And finally, we have Great Wall, generally considered the worst card in the game. All it does is let you block creatures with plainswalk, of which there are only four that no one uses, only one of which was around when Great Wall was released.
- What about Mudhole, a card that removes all the lands from a player's graveyard which is flat-out inferior to cheaper options (including Tormod's Crypt, an artifact with a 0 mana cost!) which just remove their entire graveyard? The only practical use would be to get around removing a specific non-land card in your opponent's graveyard to screw over some bizarre combo that doesn't even exist yet.
- There exists a variant of Rock-Paper-Scissors where one may cast two other moves in addition to the three standards. The first, "Fire", beats Rock, Paper, and Scissors, but may only be cast once in a person's entire lifetime. (Presumably, players of this variant use the honors system.) The second, "Water", can be used an unlimited number of times, but loses to everything... except Fire, against which it is an automatic victory. The conditions for using Fire however are so ludicrous that nobody would ever have reason to use it, which makes its counter equally useless. Thus, in practice, the game is identical to standard Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Aversions and Parodies:
- All Force type character classes in later versions of Phantasy Star Online have particular technique specialities, techs that they have a higher level cap for than other classes. The FOmar's speciality are the buff and debuff techniques, which at max level make an enormous difference to the affected stats and have a massive area of effect. Having Shifta and Deband maintained whenever possible is standard procedure for PSO, and the FOmar is generally the preferred caster of choice for the task.
- Dervishes in Guild Wars have enchantment (buff) stacking as their gimmick. Typically any given one only has minor effects, but given that many of them synergise well and Dervish primaries gain energy every time an enchantment ends, it tends to be essential to maintain a lot of them.
- Any boss in Science Girls is just as vulnerable to status effects as regular enemies, so you can poison them or drop their stats from the start of the fight. It's balanced by some bosses having moves that can cancel them out after they're afflicted, but it at least makes them waste a turn.
- Shin Megami Tensei
- Persona 4 (and from all reports, all Mega Ten games) seems to avert this trope with some degree of gusto. Not only does stat-up/down work on most bosses (and are necessary at points to avoid death) but instant kill techniques such as Chie's Galactic Punt Follow Though technique will instantly remove everything up to and including mid-bosses from battle.
- In regard to Galactic Punt, several players had the following reaction when witnessing it: "Do I get EXP for this?" You do.
- Hilariously, this trips up even veteran RPG players at times, as evidenced in the Giant Bomb Let's Play of the game where the hosts were constantly re-rolling a fusion for Jack Frost because they kept getting Sukunda (A spell that decreases the hit/evasion stat of one enemy and is incredibly helpful throughout the entire game against bosses.)
- Still, they later learn their lessons on buffs and debuffs, though they mainly use them on bosses. Their playing style tends to lean towards Awesome but Impractical generally, though it's somewhat forgiven by the fact that they're playing the game blind without consulting a gameplay guide.
- While the single target enemy debuffs in the Persona games are at least useful against powerful single targets such as bosses, the single target party buffs (Tarukaja, Sukukaja and Rakukaja) are of very limited worth. They only target one character and last at most a mere 3 turns. By the time you apply a buff to your 4th character like this it'll have worn off the 1st one already. The all-target buffs (Matarukaja, Masukukaja and Marakukaja) are very useful though.
- Speaking of that the reverse is true for debuff spell especially in Persona 3. It is useless not for the effect, but for the SP Cost which is twice of normal spell, and most of the times the one that need the debuff spell is the boss, which most of them only one except for earlier game, which is you don't have access to multiple debuff yet. And even if there is multiple boss, you just better focused on one at the time while if worry about the damage just doing Marakukaja. And if play P 3 P it is better to have Akihiko ditch Marakunda, Masukunda, and Matarunda.
- A good example of this aversion is the first Mid-Boss. A knight like shadow who can and will kill off your entire party within a few turns, presuming you don't have any plans of power-leveling IN THE FIRST DUNGEON. Pick up one of the ugly little Slime Personas, cast the attack debuff, and the fight will go through without a hitch.
- In Shin Megami Tensei I, the instant-death Mudo spell averts this severely. While it doesn't work on bosses, it costs only 3 mp (out of what's typically a hundred or so, less than almost any other attack spell), attempts to kill two enemies at once in an enemy group, and never fails against big, high-health low-intelligence Elite Mook enemies that can otherwise be a huge pain.
- Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey has a series of spells that hit all enemies for "heavy" damage and have a chance to inflict status ailments—a Ma-dyne spell and a all-targeting status spell rolled up into one, if you will. However, the status doesn't always connect, each spell costs 65 MP (enough to cast Megidolaon), and worst of all, the damage output ranges from on par with Ma-dyne spells at best to no better than first-tier spells at worst.
- From the same game, Tetrakarn and Makarakarn. Both spells grant each of the caster's party members a shield that reflects physical attacks (Tetrakarn) or magic attacks falling under the four main attack elementsnote (Makarakarn). However, the shield not only disappates upon reflecting an attack, it also does so at the end of the current turn, which means if the caster doesn't move before their enemies do, they'll most likely waste their MP, and -karn spells aren't cheap—they each cost 45 MP to cast!
- Notably, the (first) That One Boss in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, Matador, is specifically designed to act as a brick wall to inform players new to Mega Ten that buffs and debuffs are about as powerful as the strongest attacks. If you go in without the proper buffs and debuffs, Matador will kick your ass.
- Heck the game's earliest Disk One Nuke is Fog Breath which greatly decreases your enemies accuracy and evasion. You will find yourself using it all the way to the end.
- And of course, the instantly-killing spells. Unlike other instant-death examples which tend to have low odds of killing ONE opponent, the series has developed horrors such as Die For Me! and Judgment Light, both of which have the potential to utterly waste every member of any enemy party with an 80% degree of accuracy. Granted, the series' trademark difficulty makes it a point not to make every Mook vulnerable to one or the other, and mostly you'll have to start from Mudo and Hama... which do have low chances of killing, but can be abused with the right enemies. And even though they can't kill bosses, most normal enemies in the game can be killed by them, and quite a few normal enemies can be major Demonic Spiders made much easier with Hama or Mudo.
- Finally, we have Standard Status Effects. Not only they have a great hit chance (which can be boosted), they are much powerful than normal. As an example, Poison deals high damage AND can kill. Finally, most status in the games (most of them, at least), drops the Critical Hit resistance a lot, if not ensuring Critical Hits. That, coupled with Press Turn system, means that sometimes it's best to inflict an status effect on an enemy than directly kill him.
- In most RPGs, status-altering skills are pointless. In Etrian Odyssey, they're key to breaking the game wide open. For this reason, many Etrian Odyssey players warn newcomers against using Hexers, as they might make the game too easy. As long as you're willing to master the skills in question, putting enemies to sleep, poisoning them, or even trying to kill them in one blow is a wonderfully valid tactic that will save you time and visits to the inn, as well as land you special conditional-drops that will lead towards better equipment and the money to buy it.
- Some enemy can take the usefulness Up to Eleven though. One of the Bonus Boss in the third game is notably easier if you play with a limited amount of party member and a Beastmaster to summon enough beast with the exact status altering skills, thus nulifying most of the boss attack, including its One-Hit Kill. To put it simply, strategy in team building is the most important part of these games.
- Notably averted in the Wizardry games. Blinding Flash, Silence, and Sleep are absolutely vital spells up until the late game, and they even work (if unreliably) on bosses. The Alchemist and Psionic classes (and the classes that pick up spells from them) favor status effects, though Priests and Mages get some, too. However, monsters can and will [ab]use the same effects against you, usually earlier and more reliably than you can.
- Averted in Jade Empire. Not only are the status-affecting "Support Styles" useful all the way up through the game (even on the Big Bad) but they cost no chi or focus to use, unlike the Magic and Weapon styles. Demons are immune to them, but of the two demon bosses in the entire game, one is a Puzzle Boss while the other is optional.
- Parodied in this Adventurers strip.
- Averted in the final battle, where Khrima is not immune to Slow.
- Also parodied in this RPG World strip.
- Both the SaGa series and the Dragon Quest series avert this trope; random encounters are generally much more difficult than in most RPGs, and some powerful bosses aren't immune to status effects or instant death, making those powers valid tactics. You have spells that double your attack power, double your defense, halve the enemy's defense, and can give the enemy less than 10% accuracy or prevent them from casting any spells. And these, as a general rule, will work on 99% of all bosses in Dragon Quest games, including the Final Boss and Bonus Boss. Some bosses cast a spell that removes the buffs on your party or on the enemy party, but if they're wasting a turn removing buffs, they're not attacking.
- Stone is very good in random encounters in Makai Toshi SaGa (The Final Fantasy Legend). Best of all, it works on an entire group of enemies. The same game also has the Saw weapon (a chainsaw, to be specific), which automatically deals a One-Hit Kill to opponents weaker than you. Or rather it's supposed to work that way, but because of a bug it only works on opponents stronger than you. Naturally, this includes the Final Boss. (Who is none other than the world's god.)
- In Dragon Quest I, almost all combat spells eventually become nigh-useless near the end, thanks to the proclivity of magic-immune monsters and the dearth of MP-restoring items. The only spells that stay useful are Sleep and Stopspell, for the few enemies not immune.
- Dragon Quest IV did have one example of Useless Useful Spell, but that was due to your allies playing A.I. Roulette. Specifically, Kiryl turned stupid the moment he learned Beat / Thwack, constantly casting that instead of concentrating on fighting or healing. This was so prevalent that it's even referenced in one of his specials in Dragon Quest: Monster Battle Road. Luckily, the re-release let you change tactics (you could do this in the original game, but only to a limited degree — the tactics were character-specific, and there were some things you just couldn't actually stop your characters from doing, regardless of setting) or take direct control, so even though the strategy for "Show Now Mercy" is still just spamming the One-Hit Kill, it's not the only options.
- Dragon Quest IX has an inversion with the very first Sword skill learned, Dragon Slash (a move which deals great damage to Dragon-type monsters). However, you can get it when the only monsters around are slimes and bats, making it useless for quite a long while before you actually run into anything worth using it on (but at least it doesn't cost MP to use).
- Many relatively early RPGs, like Wizardry and Might & Magic, were created before this trope came into vogue, and are noticeably lacking it. By inheritance, games modeled after them, like Etrian Odyssey, also tend to lack it, for the most part.
- The Bard's Tale games pretty much have no immunities or even significant resistances at all. The Big Bad of the first game can be killed by a relatively simple death spell, which is only fair considering he and his cohorts are flinging one-hit kills right back at you.
- Averted almost entirely in the Pokémon series. Most status-changing abilities are usually effective. If they aren't, it's either because it's a One-Hit KO move (Fissure), or it's because the status effect is an unexpected bonus (Ice Beam). Not only that but the "bosses" in Pokémon are simply leveled-up versions of those you find in the wild, meaning that Confuse Ray will work just as well on the Gym leader's level 50 Alakazam it did on that level 3 Pidgey you found in the grass.
- Unfortunately, the Stadium sidegames do have a rather awful variant of this, where the odds of it working and wearing off have been altered severely, as have the hit accuracies of everything, and the evasion chance, and the critical hit chance. Worse, they've been altered both in your opponent's favor and against your own at the same time. Opponents can slaughter your team with moves that are supposed to have 30% hit chance, and any status effect they hit you with will generally last the max duration or kick in far more than it should (or both, in the case of confusion. It can last up to eight turns and has an on-paper one in four chance of causing the Pokémon to attack itself rather than the opponent. Naturally, many of the later opponent Pokémon have a move causing this.) Meanwhile, in the unlikely event your status effect move hits, the effect rarely activates or the Pokémon shakes it off within a turn.
- There are still actual Useless Useful Spells, though; one move in particular (Feint) is intended to specifically bypass moves like Protect, the problem being it doesn't really do anything but bypass Protect, etc. Since so few Pokemon use those moves to begin with, you're better off giving up on it. Feint later got buffed to where it still does damage, and has Action Initiative, even if the target doesn't use Protect, making it much more useful. (In double battles anyway)
- Then there's Mud Sport and Water Sport, which weaken the power of Electric and Fire moves respectively for 5 turns. The problem lies in the fact that most Pokemon that learn them are Ground (Mud Sport) or Water (Water Sport) type, and so are already immune to Electric and resistent to Fire, repectively.
- Due to Game Breaking Bugs in the first generation Focus Energy, instead of quadrupling your chance of a Critical Hit, quartered it.
- The reason for this was a typo in the game's code— it was meant to increase the chance of a critical hit by 25%, or in other words multiply it by 1.25. Instead, the code used multiplied the chance of a critical hit by 0.25, quartering it.
- There's also a move called "Attract", which sets a status that makes the opponent fail to attack 50% of the time. However, the move only works on Pokémon of the opposite gender, it doesn't work at all on Pokémon with no gender (like Porygon or most legendaries), and is cured by removing the affected Pokémon or the one that used the move from battle. Attract can be useful, but only in combination with with other moves (that also decrease the chance of successfully moving) it stacks with. At least one official match, Venus in Colosseum, uses it to good effect.)
- Attract becomes entirely the opposite in the first two Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games, however, where they just ignored gender completely. As such, it works on every single Pokémon, including legendaries, and it also prevents them from attacking 100% of the time rather than 50%. This was fixed in the later Mystery Dungeon games, which give Pokémon genders like in the main series.
- Prior to Generation 6, Genesect's Techno Blast was a brilliant subversion. It was a typical gimmicky move that changed its type depending on the "Drive" item it held. Generally speaking, it was one of the worst moves Genesect could learn — it had a base power of just 85, merely 5 PP, and zero special effects, and none of its types get a STAB. All of its various types seemed to be covered by other attacks it could learn. Chill Drive? Ice Beam has 90 base power, has more PP, can freeze. Shock Drive? Thunderbolt. Burn Drive? Flamethrower. Douse Drive? Well, Genesect can't learn any other water moves. Moreso, it's the only move in its entire moveset that is super effective against the Fire type. And the Fire type is Genesect's only weakness. Generation 6 buffed it to 120 base power, meaning it's now stronger than the aforementioned moves.
- Players who do most of their battling either in-game or in casual matches (where the simplest — and often best — strategy is to simply spam super effective attacks) with friends might be surprised to find out that, in the serious competitive Meta Game, tons of attacks that get a passing glance in casual matches are practically ways of life. Moves like Thunder Wave and Spore go from just being used to catch Pokémon to the preferred method of crippling the opposing team, and fellow status moves Will-O-Wisp and Toxic join them to inflict passive damage on hugely defensive Pokémon (or in the former's case, to effectively neuter physical attackers). Swords Dance, Nasty Plot, Dragon Dance, and their ilk are the standard for lategame sweeping. Moves like Substitute, Knock Off, Leech Seed, U-Turn, and a host of others that take some practice to learn to use properly can wreck entire teams if played correctly. And then there's entry hazards, one of which (Stealth Rock) is such a ubiquitous and dangerous move that an otherwise fantastic Pokémon can be reduced to a joke if it has a weakness to Rock types.
- And in the anime status effects, especially Sleep become some of the most overpowered things ever made. This is due to the anime being ever so slightly more realistic, which makes it that much harder to justify the difference between 'Sleeping' and 'Fainted' so sleep inducing moves become OHK Os with insane frequency.
- Averted in Wandering Hamster. James' Poison Suds and Soap Shield spells are surpisingly effecient, especially during boss fights.
- Same goes for Bob's spells, though part of the reason why they might be classed as useless is the fact that Bob uses Vancian Magic as opposed having his spells be fueled by Mana, which prevents MP restoring items from restoring his magic points.
- Ditto Skeppio's Unguard spell, which makes it easier to defeat Stone Wall enemies.
- In Shadow Hearts, you'll notice that none of your spells affect status, though there are the requisite Status Buff spells — very useful. Instead, the status-changing effects (from the second game on) are equipped to your attacks, similar to Junction. Delay works surprisingly often against bosses, Petrify and Instant Death help a great deal against Demonic Spiders, and even if they don't trigger, you still get your attack and don't use up MP.
- The Poison status effect in Disgaea is universally lethal as it does a fixed percentage of your HP in damage each turn, even with a serious level difference between you and your enemies.
- Additionally, it's possible to overcome any status effect resistance by going to the Item World, subduing the proper specialist for that condition, and move to the weapon of choice to increase the ability of it to inflict that effect, as well as how long it can last/how likely the victim is to resist it (it works similarly for elemental resistances, just with different specialists).
- In The 7th Saga, spells like Vacuum1 and Defense2 are very useful.
- Unless, of course, you try and use them on a boss (which are immune to them ), the three overpowered mooks (Despair, Doom, and Reaper), and any apprentice you're fighting. Yes, that means that every playable character EXCEPT the one(s) in the party is immune to them, and that an ally you recruit will lose said immunity when they join you and regain it when they leave you.
- Averted in EarthBound
- While some enemies are immune to certain ailments, they will always be open to at least one kind. Several bosses can be put to sleep or paralyzed with ease, the sixth "Sanctuary" boss can be killed instantly with PSI Flash, and even the final boss is capable of being frozen or feel strange from the Brainshock spell.
One interesting note is that the resistance of an enemy being vulnerable to brainshock or hypnosis have an inverse relationship. If an enemy is immune to hypnosis, brainshock will have a 99.6% effectiveness (or vice-versa). If brainshock works on an enemy 10% of the time, hypnosis will work 50% of the time (or vice-versa). These four combinations are the only possible combinations of hypnosis and brainshock resistance in EB. Case in point the second Sanctuary boss is vulnerable to Paralysis, making that whole cave a rush to beat him, then taking advantage of the cowardly enemies to level grind Paula.
- The useless Pray spell that more than often cursed your party with a negative ailment? You need to use it during the final fight with Giygas.
- Straight example: In Earthbound, the PK Thunder (AKA: Electric Shock Attack, Crashing Boom Bang Attack) moves are not nearly as useful for you as they are for your enemies. The move will target a random enemy each time it goes off (higher levels means stronger shots and more shots). However, if there's few enemies, there's a large chance that each shot will simply miss. It's very unlikely that you'll hit the same enemy more than once with the same move, even especially if you're using Omega (4 shots) and it's the only enemy, meaning it's also not useful against bosses. Meanwhile, you have a party of up to 4, and the enemy is far more likely to, even then, just zap the same party member until they die. And it then goes in the other direction for enemies as well seeing as owning the Franklin Badge in your inventory (so it doesn't use an equip slot) will reflect lightning attacks that hit the owner. And if the owner is the only member in the party (if everyone else is knocked out or the party is split up) thunder attacks then can only miss or damage the user.
- Another straight example is the Neutralizer (technically, it's not a spell, but it's similar enough). It sounds like an upgraded version of the Shield Killer, which is an extremely useful item, until you realize the Neutralizer neutralizes everyone in battle, including yourself. It's only really useful if the entire enemy team is shielded (rare) or if everyone in your party has been severely debuffed (also rare).
- Mother 3 maintains this tradition, and every boss is always vulnerable to at least one status effect. You can frequently put these to great use to defeat them. Plus, Sleep—through either PSI Hypnosis or Duster's amulet—has one of those most useful effects in the game. It reveals an enemy's "heartbeat," which is the special rhythm you need to press the buttons in when attacking to rack up massive amounts of damage. For some songs, which are made deliberately confusing or difficult, this is a massive help. Plus, his Wall Staples, which paralyze an enemy for a turn or two, are quite effective.
Furthermore, using spells and abilities that raise your stats and lower the boss' stats are quite effective on most bosses and practically required for some of them. Even if they can negate the changes, that's a turn spent not blasting you with powerful multi-targeting PSI attacks. Almost every boss in the game can be frozen or lit on fire, but it's somewhat rare to do so.
- Also averted in Monster Hunter: status-effect weaponry will eventually cause the relevant effect on your foe, provided you hit them enough times (the game keeps track rather than using a random chance), and the enemies are tough enough that status effects are actually helpful. Of course, there are cases (not that common, but not unknown either) where the enemy dies before you hit them enough for the effect to happen.
- The Heroes of Might and Magic series has both, and sometimes the spell's usefulness is directly related to the hero using it. Most of these classics are best in the hands of Might oriented heroes to buff their troops, while a Magic hero is better advised to use his turns to sling damage spells or spells like Puppet Master. Most spells also work regardless of the enemy faced, though the undead are immune to a number of debuffs and some other creatures are highly resistant to magic in general.
- Creatures with spells are a special case as the spell effect doesn't scale well with the size of the stack. A couple of mages have relatively strong spells, but when you get into the hundreds it's generally better to just have them attack instead.
- The Dominus Glyphs in Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia. The two attack ones are quite powerful... but also damage you heavily every time you use them. You can put all three together for a combination attack that deals obscene damage — enough to one-hit kill anything short of a boss, and even some bosses... But if you use it any time before you're supposed to, it kills Shanoa instantly, rendering it useless.
- Most status-inducing spells in the Avernum series by Spiderweb Software, particularly ones that impair combat ability (Slow, Sleep and Charm), are ineffective against opponents, while the player is very inconvenienced by them. This is more due to tactics than game mechanics, however: The player tends to be outnumbered by a horde of inferior opponents (except for rare boss battles), and naturally incapacitating one of a dozen mooks is useless compared to slowing or incapacitating one of four high-level killing machines.
- Averted on higher difficulties: on Torment, where mooks often have stats as high as or higher than PCs (though far less versatility), suddenly daze and charm spells seem a lot more useful.
- Sailor Moon: Another Story has the spell "Time Stop" which can freeze enemy actions for three turns. You'd think this spell would have severe limitations, but no, casting it freezes all enemies at once including the final boss with 100 percent accuracy. With judicious item use it is possible to keep Time Stop in effect throughout the entire final boss fight ...
- Wild ARMs: Alter Code F, the remake of the original Wild Arms, makes all of these very useful. There are no instant-death equivalents (that you are allowed to cast), but all of the status effects land 100% on everything. Even the final boss. These are timed debuffs, so you only get a few turns before you have to cast them again.
- Averted in Luminous Arc. Even the instant death spell works on the majority of bosses (giant bosses seem to be immune), providing their level is below that of the character who knows the spell (she's a healer, and since you get a good chunk of exp every time you heal someone, this isn't hard).
- Averted in Dragon Age: Origins. Many of the status effect spells actually have a reasonable chance of working even on tougher enemies, some have effects which apply even if they are resisted, and many of the difficult fights involve a group of enemies instead of a single untouchable one. There are also several spells which deal good damage in addition to a status effect — the fireball spell, for example, has a chance to knock people over when it explodes.
- Except for Crushing Prison, which will nearly never hold down very tough bosses (orange names), but Force Field will.
- It stil does have its uses against tough bosses because it inflicts damage over time. It certainly isn't a waste; considering the other DoT doesn't work on bosses.
- There is one shining example in the form of 'Curse of Mortality', which inflicts minor DoT and prevents healing. Extremely dangerous in enemy hands but useless to the Player since few enemies can heal anyway and it only affects a single target.
- Though in an interesting twist this spell is absolutely critical to defeating Gaxx'kang the unstoppable bonus boss. Otherwise it is a brutal dawn out brawl in which he heals and you feel pain.
- In the .hack//G.U. trilogy, status effects (charm, paralysis, curse, etc) can be equipped to weapons or learned as magic. They're quite effective at shutting down regular enemies, even bosses like Doppelganger.
- In the older IMOQ quadrilogy, debuffing pesky enemies with paralyze or sleep becomes pretty much the most efficient ways to dispatch regular enemies. Particularly the lethal Lich series of mobs which is fast, casts very deadly spells, and can be summarily executed by putting it to Sleep first and then hacking it to bits (due to its low physical def stat).
- The "Warlock" subset of spells (i.e. attack magic) in Vagrant Story. They look great, and most of the elementals (Radial Surge, Explosion, Avalanche, etc.) can be upgraded by finding copies of the spell books that teach them. Problem is that these spells require ungodly amounts of MP to cast, in a game where Magic Point boosts are hard to come by. Enchanter spells (changing Ashley's elemental attack or defense) are also of very marginal use, as you can only have one in effect at a time. However, Sorcerer spells (buffs and debuffs) start out useful, are always useful, have reasonable MP costs, and remain that way for the entire game.
- While Final Fantasy is mostly in the "more efficient to just beat the enemies up than debuff them then beat them up" camp, Final Fantasy V actually averts most if not all of this trope, what with how many bosses simply don't have just one strategy for defeating them — some strategies for beating bosses involve crippling the boss with moves like Mute or Stop, or even deleveling them and then using moves whose effectiveness are dependent on levels. (Namely Level 5 Doom — which inflicts instant death on enemies whose levels are multiples of 5.) For this reason, Blue Mages are often a Game Breaker — and rightfully so!
- The Bonus Boss Odin. He's got lethal hit-all attacks, and will insta-kill you in 60 seconds. He is not, however, immune to the "Break" petrification-effect. Trying to hit him with the actual "Break" spell won't be very effective, however, due to its inherent low hit-rate. The solution is to use the "Magic Knight" job, which can enhance a sword with a magical spell, activate "Break Blade", and finish Odin with a single attack.
- The Bio spell at first glance appears to be a typical poison spell. However, even if an enemy cannot be poisoned, Bio is the most powerful spell available for the majority of the game and does about 40% more damage than the second-level elemental spells.
- Hilariously, L5 Death works on bosses (provided their level is divisible by 5). DarkShock (halves the target's level and does some rounding if necessary) also works as does L2 Old (gives the target a debuff that gradually lowers their level). So with proper timing, almost any boss can be taken out by L5 Death.
- One of the bosses in the Final Dungeon is a Blue Mage. If you attack him with Exploder, he will use it on his next turn, effectively committing suicide.
- You can't talk about FFV without mentioning the insanely-overpowered "Mix" ability. Now, there are a few examples that stand out. One combination of items, "Kiss of Blessing," gives you berserk, image, and haste. Not *quite* useless when used as intended, though by the time you get the Chemist class you are probably using special skills that do more damage than a buffed physical attack. Here's the kicker: setting these statuses this way bypasses any immunity checks, meaning you can berserk enemies that normally wouldn't be affected by it. Berserk also completely obliterates an enemy's AI script, causing them to do nothing but attack. Many actions in battle are actually just pieces of script. This of course includes Exdeath's One-Winged Angel transformation...
- One reason disabling spells are considered useless is the MP cost to use them. In FFV, the Bard job is able to learn Charm Song and Love Song which cast confuse and stop respectively on all enemies with very high success rate for absolutely no cost. While some enemies are still immune, a bard can easily keep the party from being attacked a lot of the time. Add in the fact that one of the game's super bosses Omega Weapon is vulnerable to stop and you have a Game Breaker.
- Final Fantasy II had the Toad spell. While it took some leveling to become useful, very few bosses were resistant to it. Not even The Emperor is immune to it, the first time at least. As for the second time? As one let's play demonstrated, there's an early precursor to the Vanish/Doom bug, involving the Wall spell that granted resistance to spells.note
- Final Fantasy IV will rarely let you land a status effect on bosses, but features several random encounters that showcase your immobilizing status effects. Most standard enemies that counter your attacks are vulnerable to Stop, Hold, or Edge's Pin — and many (such as the instant-death-happy Coeurl) will demolish you if you don't. Additionally, Slow seems to hit almost anything, [[including the final boss]]. FF 4 was the first game in the series to use ATB, even though it lacked the time gauges showing as much, and the Slow debuff is a lot more useful than it sounds.
- Additionally, Reflect will usually land on bosses — usually because it's their strategy, but you can apply it to them yourself. This seems counterintuitive, but it bounces heals and buffs as well as offensive spells. This is in fact the key strategy to defeating Asura, who spams high-level heals on herself and counters hard enough that you really want them landing on you instead.
- The DS re-release of Final Fantasy IV, however, changes it so most bosses actually are weak to most, if not all status effects. To balance it out, though, most bosses are made significantly more difficult... unless you hit them with status effects.
- Final Fantasy VI has Wrexsoul, a Puzzle Boss whose gimmick is that he disappears mid-fight and "possesses" one of your party members, and in order to damage him you have to kill your party member, thus forcing him to reappear. The two Mooks he leaves behind when he disappears, the Soulsavers, are scripted to revive themselves upon death. They are, however, vulnerable to the instant-death spell X-Zone — so if you cast it and kill both of them at once after Wrexsoul is gone the game views it as a victory. This is because Banish/X-Zone delays the affected enemy's AI actions, including "Final Attack" style counters, by one turn. The X-Zoned Soulsavers aren't able to revive themselves via script, and because Wrexsoul's Zinger programmatically removes him from the battlefield, it is considered a "defeated all enemies" victory.
- Final Fantasy VI also has both magic and random encounters and magic that are more powerful than usual, and one counters the other. Single status effects aren't practical, but AoE spells like slowga, banish or graviga, and the flash tool can be quite useful. In addition, many bosses are vunerable to slow, including the mighty Ultima/Atma Weapon.
- Several appendages of the final boss are vulnerable to the Death spell, a fact used in at least one low-level run's strategy.
- The Vanish status would prevent physical attacks, but make magic always hit. The check for Instant Death immunity (but not other status ailments) would be skipped if the target was Vanished. Result? Almost every monster in the game could be killed by casting Vanish and Doom (or X-Zone) on it. The Playstation rerelease made a select few bosses that could break the game immune to Vanish of all things, before the Game Boy Advance version came along and quietly fixed the bug, making all three spells Useless Useful Spells again.
- In Final Fantasy VII, the Poison status tends to be useful in boss fights (many of which are not immune), and is the key to defeating the Midgar Zolom when you first meet it and learning the Disc One Nuke that is Beta.
- Likewise, Final Fantasy VIII generally makes abnormal statuses useful most of the time, particularly when 100 of them are junctioned as Status Attack. For instance, the Propagators are susceptible to Death, so equipping 100 Deaths in Status Attack ensures a very high chance of a One-Hit KO strike. 100 Pain spells (silence/poison/blind) will allow you to disable them completely with a touch. Even major bosses are not immune from being blinded and having their defenses go down to 0. Tonberries, which are generally immune from all status effects, can be easily dealt with by spamming Demi or summoning Diablos, which are gravity-based (and therefore percentage-type) attacks.
- Final Fantasy XIII in general is an aversion, since only a couple enemies in the game are immune to all status ailments. It's probably safe to say that if an enemy's Libra data says it's "susceptible to (status effect)", it translates to "if you don't use that status, YOU. WILL. DIE." Both forms of final boss Orphan are shining examples. The first form, which otherwise treads into That One Boss/Luck-Based Mission territory with its ability to instantly KO your leader, can be utterly destroyed with Poison. Plus, if you can get the final form to stagger, and have Vanille use her Death ability on it, it actually works.
- The easiest way to defeat Final Fantasy XIII-2's Bonus Boss Caius in the postgame? Use the series' newest spell Wound for 12 minutes to cherry tap him down to about 25% of his Max HP, and then just beat him to death.
- Continuing the trend, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII makes debuffing Schema all that more useful. In particular, poison is effective on many, many enemies (even those that actually spews poison themselves, like Goblots), up to and including Ereshkigal, one of the superbosses in the game. Stacking spells such as Deprotect, Deshell, Imperil, with buffs such as Bravery and elemental potions For Massive Damage is par for the course. Even the lowly Curse, which "only" makes it easier for you to interrupt enemies, mesh extremely well with "Hard Hitter" weapons that possess extra interrupt capability, making it entirely possible to stunlock enemies (including the dreaded late game Arcangeli and Caius).
- Believe it or not, Quina's LV5 Death spell is actually much more useful than most people give it credit for. It won't work on bosses, of course, but there are a surprising number of enemies that can be mass-killed with the spell...including every single type of enemy in the Desert Palace except those electric cat things. LV3 Defenseless also comes in handy against a couple of bosses, including the Meltigemini and the Earth Guardian.
- Similarly, what is normally That One Boss in Final Fantasy IX, the Earth Guardian, is a pantywaist if you hit him with Quina's Bad Breath spell. He subverts this trope heavily, being vulnerable to most of Bad Breath's effects, making it much easier to kill him. As the icing on the proverbial cake, said boss can also be eaten.
- The various modes of Seymour tend to be just as immune to status effects as any of the other bosses. However, most of his forms (first, second, and third fights) are trivialized by using Yuna's Nul-spells carefully (since Scan tells you what order he spams elemental spells), abusing Reflect (which he doesn't dispel in a fight until the third fight, and then only every fourth turn), and Lulu's Bio spell—poison is incredibly effective in this game, taking out a fourth of the target's maximum HP (unless the 1/4th of the target's HP is still more than 9999) if they can be affected by poison at all. Other than that, just keep whacking away like you would with any normal enemy.
- Also, poisoning the "pet" in fight 3 is an easy way to get the boss to kill itself.
- The Final Boss of Final Fantasy X is famously vulnerable to Zombie. It's accompanied by two rocks that heal it for 9999 every turn. Casting Zombie on it not only works, but causes it to take 9999 every time it's healed.
- In Final Fantasy X-2, the Songstress's dances afflict a status ailment on every single enemy or major buffs on all allies. They will always work, barring total immunity to the status, have a set duration (which makes timing easier), and better yet, you can also Stop them in their tracks, guarantee crits for you, put them all to sleep. It's less effective as the game goes on, since bosses start gaining immunity to the ailments Songstress provides, but surprising few regular enemies are immune to ailments that absolutely cripple them.
- Likewise, very few of XII's Marks are immune to all status effects. Usually, you can find one that cripples an otherwise massively powerful mark (exampe: use Berserk on the Mindflayer).
- Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days. Granted, Status hasn't really been used in most Kingdom Hearts games outside of maybe Stop or Magnet, 358/2 days uses them. Despite that several moves don't really apply to enemies (Such as Interface Screw or control-jacking), Burning, freezing, and air-knocking are perhaps the most effective ways to kill That One Enemy...the Emerald Serenade.
- Vexen can even inflict freezing with his melee combos.
- Stop is one way to kill Black Mushrooms in the first Kingdom Hearts game. A very effective way at that.
- At higher levels in Kingdom Hearts, Gravity becomes a very useful attack, especially against Elite Mooks like the Behemoth. Continually cating Gravity on his horn will deplete his health far faster then keyblade combos will, at least when he still has high HP. Also, during the No-Gear Level sequence, Gravity is the only damage-dealing spell that still does useful damage, since it's percentage based, and not based on Sora's Magic stat.
- Magnet meanwhile in Kingdom Hearts II is obviously a very good way to grind — some heartless don't just stay still, Magnet remedies that.
- By the time you've got Magnega, there isn't a single basic enemy that will honestly last more than 5 seconds against you if you use it right. And it actually affects Sephiroth and Xemnas. Magnega = Broken.
- Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep inverts this trope vis-a-vis status effects so hard it may be subverting it. Status effects on any of your three heroes make for a rare, mildly annoying experience. Meanwhile, the myriad status spells available to the player from very, very early on in all three modes will utterly devastate the vast majority of Mooks, turning, say, a quartet of the toughest the game has to offer into helpless punching bags. And while lots of the bosses have some form of Contractual Boss Immunity, few of them are immune to everything. Vanitas getting you down? Magnet or Zero Gravity. Braig being a Jerk Ass? Burn him up, poison him, or just put him to sleep. Zack making you frown? Freeze him solid. Hook causing problems? Give him a whole host of them, he's only immune to three. In short: Having trouble with Birth By Sleep? There's a status for that.
- And yes, if you are playing Proud Mode or higher, YOU. WILL. NEED. ALL OF THEM. Seriously, it's almost a requirement to deal with tougher Unversed and bosses.
- Most bosses in Touhou Labyrinth are pretty vulnerable to debuffs and status effects (though some are immune and some are more vulnerable than others). A good thing, as you really NEED those debuffs and statuses to stand a chance at winning most of the time... Also, random encounters on later floors can be difficult enough that it's imperative to have a fast character paralyze them before they can act so slower attackers can dismantle them without worrying about getting hit.
- Sands of Destruction, although it tends to go in and out of this trope. Buffs are highly useful. One of the best abilities in the game, though? Naja's Cleansing Cry...because when the enemies buff themselves, they can get to be VERY annoying and wipe out an unbuffed party while dodging everything that gets thrown at them. Debuffs? Meh...you can just wipe 'em out.
- In Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon, most opponents are vulnerable to status effects — so far only the "guardian" bosses seem capable of making those spells miss. Naturally, those are the ones you really wish you could find a guaranteed weakness for.
- Addendum: Magic Pots also appear to be resistant/invulnerable to status effects (as well as resistant to magic in general).
- The Stasis skill in Mass Effect may at first seem like a useless useful skill: it freezes the intended target, but also makes them invulnerable. However, this can be useful in situations where there is one very strong enemy—perhaps a boss or just an Elite Mook—and several regular Mooks, where (especially on the higher difficulties) the stronger enemies can kill Shepard in one hit. Additionally, the Bastion Prestige Class gains the ability to damage enemies in stasis, which (especially combined with upgrades which drastically reduce the cooldown time on abilities) makes the skill an utter Game Breaker. (Your squad becomes fairly useless when you can render the final boss immobile and kill it by yourself with just a dinky pistol.)
- The Mass Effect 2 version of Stasis also gets pegged into this trope, despite actually being one of the most devastating status effects if used correctly. There are three reasons for why Stasis is good. The first is it is one of the few non-damage oriented abilities in the game that actually works without removing enemy defenses first. The second reason is that enemies hit with Stasis take significantly more damage between the time Stasis wears off and when they get back on their feet.note You can legitimately one shot many enemies in this time period. The third is a bug which for a brief moment causes the difficulty level to not be taken into account when dealing damage meaning that enemies take damage as though the game were at Easy difficulty regardless of the actual difficulty, so while it is supposed to allow you to deal massive damage to enemies as part of the design it ends up being Beneficial Bug overkill and one hit killing them. The major point is that none of this is listed in the game so most players look at the immediate effect of the ability, which isn't that useful most of the time, without ever realizing about the damage boost when it wears off.
- Mass Effect 3 turned Stasis into a full blown Game Breaker against the Cerberus faction. A fully evolved Stasis Bubble in a chokepoint is able to stop an entire army of enemy units, as it only does not work on enemies with armor. As the only armored Cerberus unit is the slow Atlas, this led to a player with Stasis Bubble and a sniper rifle to utterly trivialize Cerberus. In Multiplayer, the tactic was made less effective by giving Cerberus Dragoons, who possess armor while moving relatively quickly. The real Useless Useful Spell is Sabotage, when fighting the Reaper or Collector forces. Both of those enemy types lack "synthetics", making the hacking portion of the ability worthless. In addition, most of the Reaper forces prefer to use melee, meaning they don't have guns to overheat.
- In Gothic 2, there is a spell that does truely massive damage cheaply, but only to undead. The Big Bad is undead. Three casts of this spell kill him in seconds. I'd be disappointed if it wasn't for the fact that it's an undead dragon that fights exactly the same as the 5 dragons you already beat before this point, just with a bit more hitpoints.
- Averted in NetHack; once you've learned "Finger of Death", that's all the offensive magic you'll ever need.
- In the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Game Boy Color game, best way to beat the final boss? Locomotor Wibbly to inflict stun... then Mucus Ad Nauseum to poison him; especially if you don't have Flipendo Tria.
- In its early stages, status-inflicting moves and items in Opoona are not very helpful. This is especially so since battles are timed, and there's not a lot of time to waste fiddling around with menus. Then, the game decides to stop messing around, and throws at you parties of 8+ enemies, many of whom can heal, some of whom deal devestating damage, and many of whom live in battlefields strewn with bombs. Suddenly, the ability to prevent enemies from casting spells looks pretty useful. Poleena also has several abilities which can stun all enemies at once, which is extremely useful.
- The Last Remnant easily averts this trope by simply having all status spells and items deal damage as well. There are few magic spells that don't cause some type of status ailment, in addition to causing damage. The staus ailments themselves are quite useful: poison does a decent amount of damage, while sealing an enemy's mystic and combat arts greatly reduces their offensive capabilities.
- Vampires Dawn: In both games, using the Suck Blood ability (which has no costs and also refills part of your blood pool for further magics) causes a Bleed status effect that damages enemy health every turn in a percental value...and it lasts the entire fight. It also affects nearly every enemy, except for those that logically do not have blood, golems and such. Of which there are not many anyway. Needless to say, using Suck Blood on a tougher boss in the first turn is a VERY useful way to kill them quickly.
- In The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age, nearly every boss is vulnerable to something, and Elegost's Enemy Scan skill displays their entire resistance list in very convenient spreadsheet format.
- Averted in Heroes of Might and Magic 4, where clever use of these spell allow a lone hero to defeat entire legions of enemies.
- In fact, buffs and debuffs are key in the Heroes of Might and Magic series. If you have 500 Conscripts attacking at once, which hardly put a dent in your wallet, Blessing them to do 2 damage instead of 1-or-2 can earn you up to 500 extra points of damage, and that's using one of the most pathetic units in the games as an example.
- Completely averted in Star Stealing Prince, where inflicting status ailments and debuffs is a huge part of the gameplay. Nobody, not even the Final Boss, is immune to any status ailments, and many attacks deal damage and inflict status ailments at the same time. On the flip side, status ailments don't last very long, and nearly every enemy has at least one attack that deals status ailments, so they're just as capable of burying your party under a mountain of ailments and debuffs as you are.
- That said, though, Paralyze is the least effective status ailment, as other than the really powerful attacks, it only shows up in one other attack, which doesn't deal very much damage and isn't really worth using when the character also has a full-party attack that causes Silence and Confusion.
- Averted in Dark Souls. Weapons and spells that induce poison, toxin, or bleed are incredibly useful against most enemies. Bleed in particular is actually better when you cause it. When a monster causes Bleed, your health slowly drains until the bar is empty or you cure the ailment. When you cause Bleed on a monster, then it instantly takes off a chunk (usually around 30%) of their lifebar—even some of the bosses.
- Bleed functions the same for monsters and the player. It has no effect until the bleed bar fills up completely (while slowly draining), but when it does it knocks off 30% of your total health, likely killing you (since you just took all those bleed causing hits also). There are a couple player weapons that cause bleed damage to be more than 30% though.
- Poison or Toxin, however, can fall into this trope on enemies (or players) with high Vitality, as they drain a flat amount of HP. Still, a handful of poisoned throwing knives can be a game-changer if a fight drags on long enough, and it's definitely not unheard of for players to die to Do T effects they'd forgotten were damaging them.
- Averted prominently in The Denpa Men. Status-upping skills (like Speed or Defense increases) can help prevent your party from taking excess damage in random encounters, and when HP is at a premium (as in this game), every little bit of damage dodge helps. Similarly, stat-downing skills help take the edge off the game's brutal random encounters. Some skills are borderline necessary to survive in certain dungeons—such as status-curing skills when certain enemies love to spam you with status effects. And finally, Denpa Men with status-effecting skills tend to be less squishy than Denpa Men with attack skills.
- Xenoblade flat-out Inverts this! Status effects are immensley useful when used by you, in fact they're part of what makes Riki the Lethal Joke Character he really is. Not only do they work on just about everything, even bosses, but there are at least four separate damage-over-time effects (Bleed, Poison, Blaze and Chill), and they all stack with each other—yes, somehow being frozen stacks with being on fire, but let's not think too hard about that. Riki is caplable to taking major advantage of this, stacking all four on enemies quickly and re-applying them when they wear off ad-infinitum, to the point where he's considered one of the best boss killers in the game. The other main status effects, Break/Topple/Daze, render enemies not immune (and only flying monsters generally are, even the final boss can be toppled) completley immobile and vulnerable to damage, and at higher levels the party can spam these to make sure they never have a chance to get up! On the other hand, the same status effects are usually only mild annoyances when used by enemies: damage-over-time effects are easily out-healed, and active party members can snap eachother out of Sleep, Topple or Daze. That said, there are enemies who can apply Topple or Daze to all your party, or apply flat-out ridiculous damage-over-time effects (we are talking thousands per tick in a game where the HP cap is 9999), so it kinda depends on the enemy. Moreover Sharla's status-curing ability actually has the additional effect of making the target immune to further debuffing for a short while, (and she can hit your whole party with it later) making them all the more useless!
- Speaking of Sharla, she has an instant kill move that also doesn't suck. Head Shot. It has a 15% chance to kill an enemy it hits provided it's suffering from Daze (and yes Sharla has a way to inflict Daze), and does good damage if it fails. More importantly, it's the only art she has with a red icon, which is relevant to get good (read: hundreds of thousands) damage off of Chain Attacks.
- The bonus dungeon in Mana Khemia contains some truly hellish Bosses in Mook Clothing that won't take more than Scratch Damage from anything less than a critical when attacked directly. Fortunately, they have no status immunities other than seal, which means they can be delayed, insta-killed, put to sleep, and poisoned for full damage while the party plays defense.
- Epic Battle Fantasy often subverts this. Many tough enemies are made easily manageable with some syphons and dispels, which would otherwise be laid aside. And if you don't get the point? In comes a Wake-Up Call Boss that will beat your ass repeatedly if you don't play it smart and use these when necessary. A lesson learnt the hard way, but you won't forget that anytime soon.
- Averted in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, where any attack, item, gear effect or badge effect is effective on anything up to and including the final boss and bonus boss. With the slight exception of the Shock Bomb, which still works on anything other than a boss with a 100% success rate. This kind of threw balance out the window as a result, making about half the badges and gear ridiculously overpowered.
- Strongly averted in League of Legends, Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars and similar MOBA games. Stuns, slows, silences and similar abilities are crucial to victory, and many team compositions will have one or more characters entirely dedicated to applying them to the enemy team.
- In League of Legends it is possible to gain some degree of crowd-control resistance or immunity. This is usually a small reduction to the duration of the effects granted by certain items or character-specific abilities. Some characters, such as Olaf, Gangplank and Alistar are capable of removing crowd control effects from themselves, making this trope apply... but usually only once at a time, with a significant cooldown between each use.
- Knockback effects in League of Legends cannot be reduced by items or masteries, completely averting this trope.
- Dota 2 has many crowd-control skills which are strong-to-devastating at the beginning of the game, but are highly useless late in the game. This is because of the Black King Bar, an item that grants a brief period of magic immunity upon use, and is almost a must-have item on most heroes expected to have a lot of money. There are some crowd-control abilities that bypass the Black King Bar, though.
- Averted in Tales of Xillia. EVERY ENEMY in the game is susceptible to every status effect. This is the true use of Rowen, who may otherwise be seen as too much of a Squishy Wizard. Even the final boss is susceptible to every status effect, they also stack and most of the fights have multiple enemies, which makes confusion very helpful. There have been humorous anecdotes of either of the combatants in the final battle, as it is a Dual Boss, activating their Limit Break on each other, making short work of half of the fight.
- Radiant Historia doesn't have that many status effects, but there are at least a couple that you can inflict on enemies (in particular, Poison and Sleep). Their effects are generally nothing huge, but they will usually work even on bosses and can be a nice way to make them take extra damage...or sit there asleep while you set up a massive combo of turns to use after the effect wears off.
- The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky has Chaos Brand, which causes confusion. Well, confusion isn't normally one of the more powerful status effects in an RPG and this game is no exception, but the spell has a 100% success rate against any enemy that isn't outright immune to it, and it's one of the cheapest spells to cast—at 10 EP—to boot. In fact, status effects aren't too shabby in general in Trails in the Sky; while they're not as exploitable as the aforementioned sleep spells in Radiant Historia, there are a number of abilities that have a chance of causing things like petrify, freeze, mute, or even instant death in addition to doing damage, and with proper quartz setup, you can make any attack have a 10% chance of causing a given status effect. And again, the chance of the status hitting is entirely dependent on the method of activation; the only possible enemy resistance levels are "none" or "complete".