"What'd you read that in PQ Stragedy Guide? Go talk to my brother first."When the hero of a Video Game gains a new weapon or item, it can come with a whole set of attacks, spells, or other useful things. The player, whether with experience from a previous play-through or a strategy guide, knows the button presses or secret codes to activate every function - but the hero can't use them yet. He has to "learn" those new moves, if only because the Player Character doesn't know them in-game yet. If the move requires certain conditions, like a Limit Break or Super Mode, it can still count as this, as long as "learning" the move in-game is still required to execute it once these conditions are met. Likewise, in most Functional Magic settings, just saying the magic word won't be enough. And if there is an instrument with a bunch of Magic Music songs, and the hero knows how to play the instrument, you can do the button presses that play a song at any point before you learn it, and still it won't have any effect until you get to the right point in the game, earn enough experience, or pay enough money for it. The Stalking Mission, which tasks the player with following a Non-Player Character to a specific destination, almost always invokes this. If the player possesses foreknowledge of the target's ultimate destination (either because they've played the mission before or consulted a Strategy Guide), they usually can't just go there directly. Instead, they must follow the NPC and "learn" of the destination as the designers intended. In role-playing circles, this is commonly referred to as "meta-gaming," and is usually more generally defined as a character acting upon information that they shouldn't possess (yet the player themselves do.) Depending on the community, it can either be a common and acceptable tactic (especially for MMORPGs,) or it can be strongly frowned upon. In character role-play, when players are expected to immerse themselves in their character and stick to a role, it's typically the latter. A form of Double Unlock and Railroading. Compare You Have Researched Breathing, Sequence Breaking, Guide Dang It!.
— Dongolev, Peasant's Quest
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- Aquaria averts this with its recipe system - you can cook any food item that you have ingredients for, which includes most of the most powerful ones, for which the game will only tell you the recipe much later - but plays this straight with its songs. You have to have the experience (usually beating the right boss) that teaches you a song before you can sing it. This seems reasonable in that Aquaria's songs function like powerups in other Metroid Vania games.
- Not to mention that half of them are of the "Granted power by a dying powerful being" (read: the boss you just killed) form, and the song is just used to call upon it.
- The Battle of Olympus has Prometheus "teach" the player how to draw fire from the Staff of Fennel (hold up on the controller when pressing B) but even if you already know this ahead of time, it won't work until you talk to him.
- Some attacks in Devil May Cry must be purchased before they can be used no matter what, even if the method to use them is as simple as holding the analog stick towards or away from a locked-on enemy. Replaying missions with abilities, items, and weapons unlocked from later missions also results in this - for instance, if in 4 you replay the mission that introduces the Grim Grips, even though you already have the item that allows you to take advantage of them, you still have to go into the building that housed it and interact with the now-empty pedestal you grabbed it from the first time before you can do so.
- In the NES video game adaptation for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, you can actually go straight to the Holy Grail and pick the right one soon after the game starts. However if you haven't gone through the rest of the game (or at least unlock certain crucial clues) first, you will be told that you are not yet worthy of the Grail.
- Averted in the NES game Magician. Although you get scrolls that automatically add spells to your list, as long as you know the runes for each spell you can add them manually at any time, even at the very start of the game.
- The celestial brush strokes in Ōkami, along with some combat moves. This is mostly justified, since Ammy hasn't acquired the power of the appropriate brush gods. However, at the beginning, you can't access the brush screen until Issun tells you you can, and you can't use Sunrise (which Ammy supposedly had all along) until you've jumped through the appropriate plot hoops.
- Lampshaded in Ōkamiden when you CAN try to paint Sunrise before the game teaches you about it: if you do, Issun will blatantly ask if you're "trying to draw the sun or something".
- Played straight for the dances in Shantae. While you might be able to remember the button sequences from game to game, said sequences don't actually do anything until you meet the genies that teach you how to do the dances.
- The sword techniques in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Can lead to Damn You, Muscle Memory! if going from a nearly-finished game to a new one.
- If you play a song before you've officially learned it in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, or The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks it won't have any effect.
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask takes this even further, since Link should know two of the songs (Epona's Song and the Song of Storms) from the beginning of the game, since he already learned them in Ocarina of Time, but the player still can't use them until Link re-learns them from new characters. The Song of Time is an exception, because once he gets an instrument, he knows it instantly (there is a flashback to him learning it, but it's just to instruct players who didn't play the previous game).
- Averted with the Bomber's Hideout, which requires a pass code that's randomly generated when a save file is created. You're supposed to go through a hide-and-seek quest in order to learn the pass code from the leader, but if you reload the save file to the beginning and try the same code, they'll let you in. While this seems kind of pointless since you have to do the quest anyway, it's essentially the Metagame for speedrunners who use the in-game timer.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Link can use a slate to summon cyclones that will transport him to different parts of the map. To summon the cyclones, the player draws certain symbols on the slate. Drawing the symbols before being told about them will yield no results.
- In the Temple of the Ocean King, there's a red door on which you have to draw a Triforce in order to get the southeastern map. It doesn't work before you meet Zauz.
- Also, you need to seek out an old wayfarer's hideout on Molida Island at one point in order to find the correct route through the foggy passage to the Northwestern Sea. If you try following the correct path before you've read it from the map in his hideout, you'll just get sent back to the start, as normal.
- Zig-Zagged in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. The final dungeon consists of The Maze of the Homogeneous / Tricky variety. The canonical way to get through it is to complete a long Chain of Deals culminating in a magnifying glass that allows you to read a book that contains the solution to the maze. The solution is randomly chosen, so you can't just remember (or more likely, write down) the solution from a previous playthrough. However, there are a finite number of possible solutions that the game randomly picks from. There's nothing stopping you from looking them up online and trying them all one by one, lucking into the correct sequence, or just brute-forcing your way through by trying all possible combinations (although the latter would be far more time-consuming than just finishing the Chain of Deals).
- At one point in Wind Waker you have to get a password to give to Niko in order for him to open the door to the pirates' ship, but he won't let you in until you've overheard it from Gonzo and Mako. Though Gonzo does mention that you have to say it exactly right in order for Niko to accept it.
- In The Blackwell Convergence, there is a number of topics you can look up on the protagonist's computer. If you try searching any key topics before they come up during the game, the data will still appear, but Joey will yell at you for looking up "random irrevelant things".
- Parodied in A Change In The Weather. Early on in the game, you are told that you see a "glint" in a bush; EXAMINE GLINT reveals it to be a bucket, and you can then refer to it as BUCKET for the rest of the game. However, if you have played before and already know what the item is, you might POUR WATER INTO GLINT, which the game detects and replies it "Huh? Into a.. glint? Oh, hang on, it's a bucket. Fancy that."
- The Magic Music in Loom works this way; if you try a draft before you've learned it, nothing happens. Since the game randomly generates the magic songs for each new game, this isn't noticeable unless either you're doing strange things with saved games, or you're trying every combination of notes to see what happens.
- The CD version didn't randomize the songs (they were always the same for every playthrough), but you still couldn't play them before you learned them. You do get a small amount of "sparkles" to indicate you've hit an actual spell.
- This becomes an almost-plot point (and somewhat frustrating) in that at one point near the end, the Big Bad uses an extremely powerful draft in a cutscene (but close enough for the player to hear.) Unfortunately, you're not carrying your distaff at the time (which normally echoes music and shows you which notes to play.) It's totally possible, if you have a good ear, to recognize the notes of the draft and play it yourself — but you can't use it until the very last puzzle of the game, and you have to learn it the 'proper' way (at great personal cost) before it will work.
- There's also a justified example. You also know the swan transformation / transcendence draft right from the beginning of the game, if you pay attention to how the Loom works (plus, it's one of the two drafts in the manual, the other one being Opening, the first draft you need to cast); but you can't use it until the very end (as literally the last command you input) because notes on your distaff only unlock as you grow in power, and the swan draft requires the very highest note.
- The PC game Secrets of Da Vinci: The Forbidden Manuscript has a bookcase in one room with a different letter on each book's spine. To open a secret passage, you must click on the books that spell out the name of da Vinci's lover. Even if you know the name from a previous playthrough, however, the passage will not open until after you've been told the name by an NPC.
- In the white chamber, if you use the color code before you can actually learn it, you unlock an Easter Egg. The game even suggests that the player try this in one of the endings. This easter egg is an eyeless face with the words "NOT YET" written in blood where the eyes would be.
- The drawbridge password and the poodle/hellhound's name in Wishbringer. There are only three options for the password, and the dog's name never changes, but guessing or looking up the name in the hintbook results in the bridge or dog deciding that you're just guessing and thus not obeying.
- In Arthur: The Quest for Excalibur, attempting to speak the magic word for shapeshifting before Merlin teaches it to you results in "Nothing happens. (Playing from a saved game, are we?)"
- The Stanley Parable parodies this. If you type the password on the keypad in the boss' office before the Narrator can reveal it, the Narrator reprimands you for interfering with the story, and on subsequent visits, just opens the door without waiting for the player to type the password.
- Police Quest: Open Season says this if you search for "Walker" on the Parker Center office computer before the story prompts you to do so.
- Journeyman Project 3 has Arthur respond with bewilderment before slyly asking if you've been reading the hint guide if you complete a puzzle without learning the reason behind it first.
- Colossal Cave: if you go where the Pirate's treasure chest is before encountering the Pirate, you just reach a dead end. The chest isn't there.
- Year Walk: There are a couple of puzzles that are supposed to be solved by finding the solution elsewhere, but there's nothing stopping you from solving them immediately if you already know (or looked up) the answer. The Steam version of the game acknowledges the trope by rewarding you with the "Cheat Walk" achievement if you do.
- In Avalon Code, you can't make an item unless you've actually scanned either of the two corresponding Metalize first.
- In Breath of Fire II, Cute Bruiser Katt has several high grade attack spells in her inventory, but lacks the MP to use them. The only way to use them is to find the Black Shaman (which won't unlock until you've found all the others) and fuse Katt with her and the Blue Shaman (one of the first Shamans you can find), at which point Katt will become a Lightning Bruiser (at least until she takes enough damage to undo the fusion).
- Averted in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Even before you have officially learned any of Alucard's spells, inputing the button command will perform it, as long as you have enough max MP to cast it, and doing that even adds the spell to your technique menu instead of having to buy the spell scroll from the Librarian.
- Dungeon Siege II:
- The Chants that you can use at Incantation Shrines, that is if you have found the appropriate scroll first. Even if you know the words to use. Downplayed in the New Game+ modes, wherein you can use chants you learned the first time through, but you still can't use chants you never found in earlier playthroughs until you do find them.
- Averted in the Expansion with the artifact recipes. If you know the required reagents and have the appropriate item to enchant, you can make the artifacts without knowing the recipes first.
- Sabin's blitzes in Final Fantasy VI, special attacks that are activated by pressing a specific sequence of buttons like in a Fighting Game. You can try and use the sequences for blitzes he hasn't learned yet, but they don't do anything until he levels up enough to use the blitz in question.
- "Guessing" the correct password the first time for the rocket in Final Fantasy VII will lead to a later comment by Cid on his bafflement on how you did that. (The game still lets it slide, though.)
- You aren't allowed to access the Materia menu until Barrett asks Cloud to explain how Materia works. Thankfully that happens right after the first mission.
- Zell's Limit Breaks in Final Fantasy VIII appear to be like this, but you can actually do any of them right away without reading the magazines to unlock the more advanced moves IF you know the correct button inputs AND exactly which sequence of moves can combo into which other moves. Which requires either guesswork, trial-and-error to crack the mechanics, or looking it all up somewhere. On the other hand, once Zell is powerful enough to reliably hit for 9999 damage, the best way to maximize the power of his Limit Break is to ignore all the fancy unlockable moves and instead use the quickest and most basic two over and over as many times as possible, but by that point there are usually other more convenient Game-Breaker tactics available.
- Likewise, if you have the ingredients, you can completely ignore the weapons magazines that tell you how to upgrade your weapons, allowing for a Disc-One Nuke when you consider that all of the ingredients necessary for Squall's Infinity +1 Sword are available in disc one (mostly by spending several dozen hours playing the card game), and the limit breaks available to him depend on his current weapon...
- Averted in Fire Emblem Awakening. The Pair Up mechanic, which lets two characters combine into a single unit and move and fight together, isn't officially introduced in-story until Chapter 3, and so the game won't let you use it before then. Unless you disable the tutorials, in which case you can use it right from the start.
- Mechanically speaking, there is not a single puzzle in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn that actually requires Insight Psynergy. All you actually need for the Ouroboros dungeon is the Arid Heat power from the Sand Prince Gem. But the game railroads you into fetching the Insight Glass anyway because that's what prompts Amiti to join the party.
- Another example is that after you use Arid Heat dozens of times to navigate Barai Temple and get the Insight Glass, Amiti pops out at the entrance to the Ouroboros to prompt you to use Arid Heat on the basin of water there that is exactly like all the basins of water in Barai Temple that you already manipulated using Arid Heat. Thank you, Amiti.
- Kingdom Hearts:
- Most card sleights in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories are unlocked through level ups or found inside treasure chests. The most simple ones such as Blizzard and Fire, however, are available as soon as you obtain their card.
- In Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, some Synthesis items won't appear in the Shop menu until you have obtained their recipes or one or more of their ingredient items. After an item becomes listed, you can see what else you need and how many of it to get.
- Averted in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. You can meld any command you have the base components for, but unless you have the recipes, which are found throughout the game, you wont have any idea what it is you're melding. Even once you've made a command once, it won't show you the results of its melding until you have the recipe. This can be amazing when you accidentally create a giga command fairly early, and amazingly frustrating when you end up creating three of the same crappy command in a row even though you used very different inputs.
- In Legend of Legaia and its sequel, Legaia 2, you can use and learn any normal art (and in Legaia 2, any super art) as soon as you have a big enough move bar for it (or temporarily lengthen it by using items or other moves). However, Mystic Arts require you to have a book before they'll work properly. Also, in Legaia 2, Maya can learn basic spells without a problem, but the more advanced ones require a trainer.
- The Advanced Moves in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. After enough uses of the move, Mario will adopt a "thinking" pose for a moment, then a "Eureka!" one, followed by the word "ADVANCED!" On-screen prompts then indicate how to perform the Advanced variant of the move, but memorizing the moments to hit each button will not let you perform the move earlier.
- Even after you get the hammers (and later the hand moves), if the back bro uses it on the front one, it will have no effect (other than making him angry) until you actually learn the related move.
- Alchemy in Odin Sphere: even if you put the right ingredients together, you won't get anything other than material unless you actually have the recipe in your possession. (The remaster does away with the trope, allowing alchemical mixtures to work whether the player has officially discovered the recipe or not.)
- In the Paper Mario games, special moves cannot be done until you learn them, even though it's just the buttons you input.
- In The Thousand Year Door, you can't input the Mario impostor's real name (Doopliss) even if you already know it from an earlier playthrough. While the explanation is that a letter is missing from the input menu and you find it in the same place you learn the true name of the impostor, only the lower-case P is missing. Presumably in an effort to avoid Sequence Breaking, entering the impostor's name in all-caps is considered wrong despite having all of the correct letters — the name is case-sensitive, forcing you to go through the next area even though you gave the right answer.
- In Pokémon, Pokémon can't learn a certain move until they either have gotten to the correct level or their trainer has the TM/HM for it. While that would normally fit under You Have Researched Breathing, it also becomes You Shouldn't Know This Already due to how moves are learned. Pokémon can only remember four moves at a time (including Pokemon like Alakazam, Metagross, and even Arceus), but players/trainers could not only remember all of the moves the Pokémon has learned previously but also learn every single move that the Pokemon can use in total (if they had the time and patience to learn all of that) and what every single Pokémon evolves into. Thus it becomes You Shouldn't Know This Already because the player knows about things like how some Pokémon not only need to be traded to evolve but also hold certain items when traded, or what certain Pokémon are capable of breeding with.
- Additionally, with the exception of Pokémon Black and White and their sequels, the game prevents you from using field moves until you get the badge necessary to use them, even if your Pokémon know those moves already (possible through hacking, transferring from Pokémon Bank which, unlike trading, does not restrict Pokémon with HM moves, and the few Pokémon that learn HM moves naturally), in order to prevent Sequence Breaking.
- Phantom Brave: You can't lift items on your home island until you've played the appropriate tutorial. You can still lift people, and this makes it easier to reach a certain Easter Egg.
- In Riviera: The Promised Land, if you try to use a battle function (say, switching the row order) before your party members explain it to you, they inform you that you don't understand it yet and you shouldn't fool around with it. It can get annoying, because the tutorials are part of the narrative and take place across the first two chapters. Yggdra Union is similar in that certain functions just can't be used until a certain point in the game whether you know how to use them or not. Knights in the Nightmare thankfully solves this problem by separating the tutorials from the main game, and letting you access them from the start menu instead.
- Tales of the Abyss won't let you use the Capacity Core menu (and thus set Luke a core) untill a small tutorial in the Cheagle Woods, even on your second playthrough, when you brought Tutti and just thought things were going smoothly. That's why it's strongly recommended that you don't level up until then which is a pain with monsters jumping at you. It gets worse if you also picked the "10x experience" option.
- In both Wild ARMs: Alter Code F and the original Wild ARMs, Jack's prologue has him entering his own name (and you giving him his name) as a test for an ancient ruin's password system. If you actually name him the password that you would have learned much later in the game, the door will open. He'll express puzzlement at this and bang on the keyboard out of curiosity of what will happen, causing him to fall into the same trap that would normally happen if you had named him anything else.
- Astral Heats in BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger - if you haven't cleared Arcade mode with the appropriate character except for Rachel, Ragna, and Nu-13, the input for them will do nothing, even if the other conditions required for use are in play.
- In a strange example, Fighters Destiny has four secret characters (Robert, Ushi, Joker, and Master) whose unlocking methods you can look up online and perform. The catch: these methods won't work until Master tells you how to unlock them, which you can learn by beating the game.
- A lot of the items in Power Stone 2, when mixed together, create new items (or at best randomly old ones, at worst "a failure", which gets you a special coupon). However the most "special" of items won't be created till you've found the proper "recipes" no matter how many times you throw the right ingredients together, though you know you're at least doing something right when it just generates a random other item. Of course there are also items that literally rely on random chance too, where even the "proper recipe" could get varied results every time.
First Person Shooter
- F.3.A.R. introduces this as a side-effect of the new rank-up system in singleplayer. Whenever you rank up, you gain an upgrade or two, like increased ammo capacity. One of the Point Man's earliest upgrades is the ability to use a jump-kick and sliding kick - abilities the player could use from the very beginning of every other game in the series. Bizarrely, he also gains the ability to carry more ammunition and stay in slow motion longer; things which do not carry over from the previous game include the ability to change fire modes or hold pistols correctly.
- Halo:Combat Evolved has the mission "The Silent Cartographer," which Bungie created as a sort of test mission to show off various of Halo's core mechanics, including vehicle combat and exploration (the mission is packaged with the Halo Demo and is the preferred showcase for the Custom Mapping Team's Halo mods). The mission itself is fairly straightforward: you are being deployed with two squads of Marines to an island on Halo's surface, looking for a map room called the Silent Cartographer, which will lead to the installation's control room. Early on, Covenant forces will lock the player out of further progress to the map room, forcing them to backtrack and assault a security substation buried in a cliff wall on the other side of the island. Despite this, you can actually hit the security station first, which prompts Cortana to inform the player they have not in fact discovered the Cartographer, but securing this installation means the Covenant can no longer lock them out, and further, this installation does at least have a map of the island itself. There is no in-game penalty for doing this, although Covenant reinforcements will be deployed to the garrison already holding the Cartographer, meaning the player will now have to fight what amounts to four complete sections of Covenant infantry, augmented by a pair of Hunters. This does allow you to complete the mission much faster, however.
- In the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, you can find or receive notes telling you the locations of stashes containing various items. With some luck or knowledge from a previous playthrough you can find the stashes without their respective notes, but if you try this outside of the third game Call of Pripyat, the stash will invariably be empty until you have a note telling you about it.
- In Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, the Power Bombs are among the items lost to the Bag of Spilling. Strangely, you don't even know you have them until your suit reports them missing. Ammo for them doesn't even drop. They are absent from both your Morph Ball HUD and Inventory Screen until you reclaim them from their respective Sub-Guardian.
- In a minor case, the Grapple Beam. It appears in your Inventory Screen, but the launcher doesn't show up on Samus' suit until you get it back. As shown by the exploitation of a glitch, there IS a model for the launcher to go with the Varia Suit. It's the same one from the first game. However, this is a minor case, and is even Justified as there is no use for the Grapple Beam in the prologue other than to be one of the Bag of Spilling upgrades for you to recover.
- For the most part, you can craft items in Kingdom of Loathing without unlocking the recipe, which will automatically add the recipe to a "discoveries" list. However, there are a few "recipes" that have to be unlocked, but some of them are ridiculous, such as not knowing how to combine brownie mix and white chocolate chips until you pickpocket your Mom's secret recipe from a random encounter.
- In World of Warcraft, recipes for crafted objects must be found in-game by aspiring crafters. (Contrast this with Final Fantasy XI, where you can attempt any synth you have the ingredients for.)
- Despite having learned how to fly in Burning Crusade, you have to pay to learn how to fly in Northrend. And in the half-destroyed old world in Cataclysm. And again in Pandaria. In Warlords of Draenor, you just have to complete a slightly annoying set of hoops, and suddenly all your characters will know how to fly. This is given Hand Wave by the skies allegedly being increasingly hostile and turbulent, except in the old world, where you need a license to become your own Flight Master.
- Like World of Warcraft above, "Provisioners" (cooks) in The Elder Scrolls Online have to have read a recipe (that is inexplicably destroyed upon reading it) to learn how to cook meals and brew drinks. Even stuff as basic as a baked potato.
- The April Fools' Day episode of You Don't Know Jack: The Netshow featured a Gibberish Question that seemed like it should have "April Fool" as the answer. If you enter the actual answer, "Grape Will Rule," the host will act like you just entered a nonsense response, then accuse you of having seen the episode already before giving you whatever points were still available anyway.
- In a more general sense, this is how the game treats pressing the buzzer before the answers (or just the question) have appeared. Since YDKJ uses fixed question sets, a player could memorize the answers, which is regarded as cheating. As punishment, it becomes nearly impossible or even actually impossible for the offending player to successfully answer the question.
- Most moves in Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie cannot be used until you've officially "learned" them from Bottles or Jamjar. This makes some sense with moves that aren't altogether intuitive. In other cases, it should be obvious. Particularly egregious in the case of first-person egg shooting in the air or underwater, which works exactly the same way as egg aiming does on land, barring that the terrain-appropriate movement controls also still apply.
- Mostly averted at the beginning of Banjo-Tooie, however, where all of Bottles' molehills in Spiral Mountain serve only as reviews for those unfamiliar with the moves from the first game, since Banjo actually remembers all of these moves and can use them regardless of whether the player stopped by those molehills in Tooie.
- In Flink, Flink can't create a magic spell until he reads the magic scroll that tells which three ingredients he needs.
- Iji has Recurring Boss Asha set a trap for the main character at one point, holding Dan hostage and eventually killing him. However, an observant player will notice a nearby spot to put a trapmine even though there aren't any enemies left which is where a Komato soldier teleports in to attack Iji from behind so she can't stop Asha, and if they save the one trapmine they got in that level and put it there instead, it'll foil Asha's plan (complete with a hilariously baffled reaction on his part) and lead to a better ending.
- Zero in the Mega Man X and Zero games. He gains new attack moves instead of sub-weapons from bosses. In the latter series he gets Easy Amnesia, making him forget attacks that he should have memorized countless times already.
- In Oddworld: Abe's Oddyssee, the locks in the rooms of the Paramonia and Scrabania Temples requires a melody to be played using the 3 bells. You might know the correct melody from a previous playthrough and you can try to enter it, but it won't work. You must learn the melody and then go back to the bells, which will now play the melody automatically and open the door.
- In Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!, Spyro must pay Moneybags "a small fee" to "teach" him how to swim underwater, climb ladders, and Ground Pound giant rocks, despite that all Moneybags gives for this fee is a quick explanation of the (simple) controls for each move.
Real Time Strategy
- Brütal Legend has Solos, which you play on your guitar and learn through exploration or game progress, in almost exactly identical fashion to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The primary difference is that the guitar's magic literally comes from The Power of Rock.
- Darwinia featured command gestures that allowed you to run certain programs (though a patch replaced these with more standard function keys). Using the gestures/function keys before the program has been found simply results in the Mentor telling you it hasn't been implemented yet.
- Annoyingly done in Overlord where you can't tell your minions to stay in one spot before you've been told how to, which happens after defeating the first boss, even though it's one of the basic commands! You can however use it in the dungeon battles before you're taught it.
- In Patapon, you don't learn new drum beats until you unlock the relevant "drum" (i.e., button) by finding it in the stage.
- In the Starcraft II Heart Of The Swarm campaign, the button for selecting your entire army doesn't work until a character tells you about toward the end of the third mission.
- Harvest Moon series:
- In most Harvest Moon games, your character can cook any recipe in the book, as long as he has the kitchen and the right ingredients. Not so in Island Of Happiness, where you only have access to Cooked Rice and Toast to begin with (and unlike the other games in the series, rice and bread isn't available from the store. You must grow the grains yourself). You have to gain the recipes either by giving ingredients to the cafe and/or diner owners (and you can only learn one per day from them) or making it to the bottom of the mine, where the Harvest Goddess will give you one on every even numbered trip down (your second, fourth, etc).
- The follow up, Sunshine Island makes things a bit easier on you, by having the Diner and Cafe available from the start and certain ingredients available from Chen's shop. But then it takes two steps back with a "Degree System" , meaning you have to have to have a high enough score (which is hidden from you) to make most recipes. If your score isn't high enough, you'll just end up wasting your ingredients (some of which are quite rare, expensive and/or labor intensive).
- Tale of Two Towns won't let you dig irrigation trenches until the mayor comes and teaches you, despite not needing any unusual equipment to do so.
- Spin-Off series Rune Factory does this for cooking and item forging, though the recipes/formulas require mostly patience to acquire.
- In some titles, such as Frontier, it's possible to make a dish without knowing the recipe; however, instead of being able to do it with 20 less than the required skill, you have to have at least the required skill. Tides of Destiny plays it entirely straight by not allowing you to cook or craft anything without the recipe, but this may be justified by some different items using the same combination of ingredients; for example, Aden's and Sonja's hats are both made with a yarn ball and a cheap cloth.
- Story of Seasons is similar to Rune Factory in that you can't cook a dish until you acquire the recipe in-game, even if you have all the ingredients and you (the player) know what's required. Since all the potential love interests have a Trademark Favorite Food which makes romancing them easier, this can be frustrating if the recipe is hard to find.
- In Magician's Quest: Mysterious Times for the DS, if you know (or can puzzle out) the magic alphabet words and necessary actions for a spell, you can cast it even if you haven't officially learned it yet.
- To use a spell in Eternal Darkness, you normally need a scroll, three runes, a Circle of Power (3, 5, or 7 slots) and the runes' codices (these tell you the rune's name and purpose). However, thanks to the game's spellcrafting system, it is possible to create a new spell with only the required runes, skipping the scroll and codices. A spell created this way will have no label for what it does until you find its corresponding scroll, but it is still perfectly castable.
- Having the codices is recommended for convenience. Translate the three Gods as Magic, Life, and Sanity, and you can craft whatever spell you want. Absorb-Life-Self is just the Recover Health spell. You also can add the Pargon (Power) runes yourself to make more powerful spells (3, 5, or 7 runes in a spell), although these also require the appropriately-sized Circle of Power.
- A minor Game-Breaker is the Summon-Area-Alignment combination, which creates the "Magic Pool" spell. This slowly refills the chosen stat (such as Life) over time, characterised by a symbol floating over your head while the spell is in effect. Adding in Pargon runes gives the spell a longer duration, and simply being in motion (walking / running) causes the chosen stat to fill faster. The major Game-Breaker is using the secret purple "Mantarok" rune if you found it: It slowly refills all three stat bars at once, rendering you Nigh Invulnerable if you stay on the move. This spell is the second-last one you find the scroll for, so crafting it early can be a massive advantage.
- Paranoiac. You will encounter a Game-Breaking Bug if you use the code for the computer before you learn it in-game, which makes you lock yourself out of several rooms.
- Even though Jill can mix together the V-Jolt chemical herself in Resident Evil, the game won't allow you to so much as examine the shelf its components are on until you collect the "V-Jolt Report" first. Especially odd because the directions to mix it are also written on a wall in the chemical room.
- Defied in Resident Evil 2. Finding the Weapon Box Key requires you to use your lighter to set off a huge flare gun, the flash of which reveals the key. Playing as Claire and forgot to bring the lighter? Just pick the damn thing up anyway, because all the flare does is make it visible.
- Rather amusingly lampshaded in Resident Evil 4; one of Leon's early objectives is to find a church, where Ashley Graham is being held prisoner. The church door is actually locked, however, and Leon has to go find a key. It's completely possible to avoid this entirely and go get the key immediately. When Leon reports to Hunnigan he's recovered it, she irritably asks him if he's even been to the church yet. Leon replies in a rather confused tone that he has, regardless of whether he had in that particular playthrough.
- Used rather amusingly in Resident Evil 7: biohazard. When doing the "Happy Birthday" puzzle as Clancy in the VHS recording, trying to use the letter-based combination lock will just tell you that you don't know the password, because if you weren't forced to learn it "properly," Clancy could avoid his Plotline Death, which has already happened by the time Ethan arrives. In contrast, Ethan can use the combination lock without going through the whole puzzle, so long as the player knows the combination (i.e., from playing through the aforementioned flashback), which allows him to survive.
Third Person Shooter
- In Gears of War 3, you need to attempt to start the cable car and have the characters realize it's tethered before you can bypass the barbed wire fence leading to the room where you cut the tether. If you try to open the wire fence first, Marcus will say "Can't do that yet."
- The Zero Escape series makes use of this in-character and plays with it: the gap between what is "player knowledge" and what is "character knowledge" is reduced in various ways.
- In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, the fact that you need to see a particular Bad Ending in order to reach the True Ending is Justified because Akane never saw the combination needed to rescue Snake and can't pass it onto Junpei in another timeline.
- In Virtue's Last Reward, several characters have a special power that allows them to get around this. Namely, Sigma and Phi can remember, and make use of, events the player has seen on previous playthroughs of the game before they have occurred in the plot of a current playthrough, frequently baffling or scaring the other characters. In the final ending, the player takes control of an unknown character who baffles Phi in the same way.
- Zero Time Dilemma plays around with it as well. As in the previous game, several characters have the ability to "shift" between timelines, retaining some of their memories. When the teams open their Force Quit boxes, they get back all their memories from the various other timelines in the game, and can then make use of this knowledge. This trope is played straight when C-Team tries to cheat and get passwords by having Carlos and Junpei die and then meeting up in another timeline: unfortunately for them, Zero anticipated this tactic and made it so that passwords from other timelines are invalid.
- Ace Attorney is a notable offender of this trope. It does not matter if you figured out who the real culprit is, or which evidence or piece of testimony points it out. If your character did not figure it out, then you cannot point it out.
- Early in the first Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game's second case, you find a small piece of paper that says "Maya", written in blood. It's actually a receipt for a (now broken) glass stand Mia bought a day before being killed. Later in the case, the killer's final testimony involves him stating he saw the glass stand in one piece a week before the murder. Even if you already know presenting that piece of paper is necessary to point out the contradiction, you cannot do that until Mia tells you how it proves he's lying.
- Numerous passwords and keycodes in the original Deus Ex are hardcoded, so use of a guide can net some very unfair bounties. One notable exception is the entrance to the Luminous Path compound. The code to the main door only works once it is given; before it is given the code won't work. Additionally, using tricks to get into the compound in a different way (usually by going over the wall) will affect another keypad deeper within the compound: not only will its code (normally the same as the main door code) not work, but somehow the 4-digit keypad becomes a 6-digit keypad.
- This particular method was averted quite simply in Invisible War, by removing the manual code entry: if Alex knows the code, the keypad works, and if not, it doesn't.
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution brings back manual code entry, and that element of metagaming returns with it. This seems to be intentional, too - the game does recognize whether or not Adam would know the code; when accessing a keypad or computer whose password he knows, a little popup will appear in one corner of the screen with the code written out for your convenience.
- In Ultima Underworld, the runes for most of the game's spells are written in the manual (not to mention identical to earlier games in the series), but you have to actually find the runes first and reach a necessary level in the spellcasting skill to cast them. For those few spells that someone teaches you in-game, though, you can cast them as soon as you have the runes and skill. Some spells can only be found through experimenting.
- Earlier Ultima games avert this. In Ultima 4, 5, and 6, you need to learn the proper mantra for each Virtue; but they are the same in every game, and if you remember them from the previous installment, it'll still work.
- But played straight in Ultima IX: you must complete the tedious, repetitive quest for each Shrine of Virtue to learn the corresponding Word of Virtue, which you have to use to cleanse the shrine. If the game lets you.
- Amulets & Armor does it both ways: Picking a character class from one of the two magical families (Arcane or Holy) will give you a set of runes to cast spells with, and each spell is recorded as a note page in your inventory. You can pick up more as you play through the levels, but you're free to cast any spell at any time, the notes are just a reference for the player. You need the right runes, however, so even if you memorize an Arcade spell, a Cleric (who has holy runes) can't cast it. (In theory you could pick up the runes, as they're just items, but in reality there isn't a full set in the levels)
Wide Open Sandbox
- Dead Rising 2 lets you create Combo Weapons before you've attained the proper Combo Card that tells you how to make it. However, without the Combo Card you don't gain the x2 PP bonus you would usually get from using a combo weapon, and you don't have access to the weapon's "Heavy" attack.
- In Heir Apparent, Janine has to be careful when requesting help and other things from people from previous tries that she is not supposed to have met yet. Needless to say, it gets quite frustrating, especially when she doesn't have very good staying-alive-abilites.
- Parodied in Problem Sleuth. Early in the comic, Problem Sleuth comes across a piece of paper with three symbols - a star, a heart, and a horseshoe. Later, without the paper, he comes across a rotary phone with symbols instead of numbers. However, the 'game' doesn't let him dial the right combination unless he returns with the piece of paper:
You vaguely recall seeing somewhere the sequence of symbols, STAR - HEART - HORSESHOE. However, you can't quite remember the symbols STAR - HEART - HORSESHOE. You will need the piece of paper with STAR - HEART - HORSESHOE written on it if you wish to remember the sequence STAR - HEART - HORSESHOE.
- Enforced in Noob: La Quęte Légendaire. While showing Omega Zell the way to the place where he's supposed to start a hard questline, Ystos keeps telling Omega Zell to not take it lightly. Once there, it turns out that the first quest consists of impressing the Quest Giver by completing a Hold the Line challenge without any kind of assisstance and that the opportunity to do the rest of the questline will be lost permanently is Omega Zell fails. Ystos is friends with one of the few people who completed this specific challenge before Omega Zell did, so chances are that he was holding back the details on purpose.