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Video Game Tools
Now where did I put my keys?

Items/Equipment in Video Games that are used to solve puzzles and pass by (sometimes cardboard) obstacles. These tend to be the treasure of Metroidvania dungeons, but can be seen in all sorts of games. Different than main weapons, Tools will have a specific use only they can do; the hammer in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time can strike foes, but is also the only method for activating rusty switches.

Also common is the enemy that is uniquely vulnerable to a certain tool; Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has Space Pirates with shields that can be ripped away with the Grappling Beam. Often the boss of a dungeon will require that dungeon's tool to defeat it, making it a sort of Puzzle Boss, albeit a simple puzzle.

Since the acquisition of these tools can be quite pivotal to the overall abilities of the character, one can expect the whole dungeon to be designed around the tools it provides. Wandering around the dungeon trying to do everything can be frustrating so a mandatory tutorial puzzle may be introduced to limit the Trial-and-Error Gameplay to a single room, so the player has some chance to conceptually solve the preceding puzzles without the need to resort to too much Button Mashing.

A variant of this occurs in many FPSes with nonviolent options, allowing the player to use multitools and bobby pins to bypass locks and cigarettes to reveal hidden laser traps.

The Grappling-Hook Pistol and Precision-Guided Boomerang are popular Video Game Tools. See also When All You Have Is a Hammer for situations where the given tools are the solution for every situation.

The Final Exam Boss requires that you use most, if not all, of the tools you have collected up till that point in some combination to defeat it.


Examples:

  • Pretty much guaranteed in any Metroidvania type game.
  • Most Zelda games will have an item or two whose main purpose is clearly not battle, but which can still be weaponized in some form. The Spinner in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is largely a movement tool, allowing you to climb certain walls and boost your speed quickly, but its "burst" move can be used to attack enemies. Even the humble Empty Bottle can be used to reflect certain attacks!
    • The Hookshot in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was excellent at this. You could use it to one-hit kill the small Moblins in the annoying Lost Woods hedge maze, and stun the extremely annoying giant Moblin guarding the way to the Forest Temple.
  • In Colonization, abstract "Tools" are a valuable resource type, used up by production and Pioneer's jobs.
  • Lots of things in Nethack: key, lock-pick, and credit card to open locks; stethoscope to appraise enemy statistics; bag, waterproof bag and Bag of Holding to store things; tinning kit to make canned food; can of grease to waterproof your armor; pick-axe to dig holes; candles and lamps to dispel darkness; blindfold and towel to blind yourself from light-based attacks; expensive camera to blind foes with its flash.
  • In the NES version of Bionic Commando, communicators, flares, even the bionic arm itself are necessary but not used to directly damage your enemies.
  • Lock picks, Multitools and Fire Extinguishers in Deus Ex. Further, you also had Rebreathers and Hazmat Suits to overcome obstacles.
  • My Sims has tools that you earn when the town's commercial Sims have a sufficient cumulative satisfaction. Said tools generally open up more of the town, both for moving Sims into empty lots and for finding places where Essence types the player had previously not encountered may be harvested. And no, you cannot use the ax you come already equipped with to chop fallen logs. That falls to the saw, which, yes, must be earned.
  • The Sims 2: Castaway has a ton of tools that can be made, and are needed to make other tools, clothes, shelter, catch fish, etc. As well, they are often used to cut through the forest, repair bridges, or build boats.
  • In the Pokémon games, the Mons themselves will be tools for cutting through small trees and smashing boulders out of the way, and are even usable as a surfboard.
  • Almost every Ratchet & Clank game gives you a bunch of different gadgets to use for clearing specific obstacles. Every main game has the Swingshot (for swinging or pulling yourself to applicable targets), Grindboots (for sliding across rails) and Gravity Boots (for walking along ionized pathways), and each game has extra gadgets of its own
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman has his usual arsenal of bat-gadgets, which can be used for progression, combat and sometimes both (the bat-claw, for example)
  • Dwarf Fortress has several. Axe and Pick (Mining skill gets trained a lot) also double as good weapons; others, not so much.
  • A central part of Minecraft, although you do make the tools yourself.


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