Video games are not unfamiliar with the Rule of Three, especially when it concerns characters. This is seen mostly in the Beat 'em Up genre and its sister genre Hack and Slash, in which the main trio is often composed of these three characters:
- The Balanced One: Usually The Leader, The Hero and/or The Protagonist. Exactly What It Says on the Tin, the balance between speed and strength, in most of the cases recommended for those who're new to the game.
- The Fast-but-Weak One: This character is usually The Lancer or The Chick of the group, a (usually) skinny character that's also the fastest one of the group, having not just more speed and movement, but also being able to make the largest combos in the game. If it's not skinny, then it's Weak, but Skilled compared with the other two, probably a trained martial artist. Subverted by the Acrofatic who looks heavy, but moves like he's light.
- The Strong-but-Slow One: This character usually is The Big Guy, The Brute or the Boisterous Bruiser of the group, who can deal more damage than the rest of the characters, but also is the slowest one. This kind of characters usually are Difficult, but Awesome to manage in the game compared with the other two. Subverted by the Glacier Waif who looks light, but acts like she's heavy.
While this is a video game trope, it can also be applied to other media, as well other video games genres besides the Beat 'em Up, like Shoot 'em Up and RPGs. In which case the idea of Speed vs. Strength can also come across as Light vs. Heavy. For instance a rapid fire light attack like a machine gun, vs. heavy ordinance that takes a long time to reload like a rocket launcher. Or an agile light vehicle that can turn on a dime, vs. a high horsepower truck with little maneuverability.
And it's not just for the good guys, this trope also can very well be applied to a Terrible Trio. Big, Thin, Short Trio also overlaps this, being the Big usually cemented as the strength, while the Thin and the Short vary between balance and speed.
If a fourth character joins the trio having abilities the others don't, then the group often becomes Balance, Power, Skill, Gimmick. If one of the trio is The Chick (usually the quick one), then it's the íThree Amigos!. And of course, if a couple of characters join the main trio during the adventure, then it's Three Plus Two.
Sub-Trope of Power Trio and Video Game Characters. Compare and contrast other famous Rule of Three tropes seen in video games: Damager, Healer, Tank; Fighter, Mage, Thief; With a Friend and a Stranger and Three-Stat System.
Video Game Examples
Beat 'em Up
- Final Fight uses this trope in most of its games:
- Starting with the first one that has Cody Traversnote (balance), Guy (speed) and Mike Haggar (strength). In an interesting example, Haggar is Playing Against Type, since he's The Protagonist and The Hero of the series, later reusing this formula with another Capcom character: the barbarian-turned-lion Leo.
- The sequel Final Fight 2 has Cody and Guy being replaced by Carlos Miyamoto (balance) and Maki Genryuusai (speed), with Haggar still on the lead.
- In Final Fight 3 and the Arcade Mode of Final Fight: Streetwise, there's a fourth character added to the mixture which have different abilities than the aforementioned trio (Guy becomes this in the former, with Lucia and Dean being the speed and balance respectively; and Cody in the latter, leaving the balance to his brother Kyle), but the pattern is still there.
- About Capcom, the pattern repeats in Knights of the Round, where Arthur is the balance, Lancelot is the speed and Percival is the strength.
- While you can't always manage the three of them, the usual setting of Battletoads is Rash as the balance, Zitz as the speed and Pimple as the strength.
- In Streets of Rage series, Axel Stone and Blaze Fielding stay in all games as the balance and speed respectively, having the character of strength variable between games (Adam Hunter in 1, Max Thunder in 2 and Dr. Zan in 3), with the addition of Eddie "Skate" Hunter in the last 2 games as a middle point between balance and speed.
- Being an obvious expy of Final Fight, there's the SNK version of this game: Burning Fight, which have Duke Edwards (balance), Ryu Saeba (speed) and Billy King (strength).
- Technos Japan's The Combatribes, the three main characters follow this pattern with Berserker (balance), Blitz (speed), and Bullova (strength).
- The Ninja Warriors Again has the strong "Ninja", the speedy "Kunoichi", and the balanced "Kamaitachi".
- The famous Game Mod Beats Of Rage, a Freeware Game that mixes Streets of Rage with The King of Fightersnote , has Mandy (aka Blue Mary) as the balance, Kula as the speed and Max (aka Maxima) as the strength.
- The King of Fighters:
- While there're various teams that use this trope, the best known in all the series is the "Korea Team" or the "Kim Kaphwan Team", generally composed by Kim as the balance, Choi Bounge as the speed and Chang Koehan as the strength.
- Another good (and classic) example is the "Japan Team", especially its classic lineup with Kyo Kusanagi (balance), Benimaru Nikaido (speed) and Goro Daimon (strength).
- In the Cop storyline of Need for Speed: Rivals, you can choose every mission by choosing one of the three kinds of police vehicles: Patrol, Enforcer and Undercover. The former has the highest acceleration, the middle has more strength and durability, and the latter has the max control, being these three cars the speed (Patrol), the strength (Enforcer) and the balance (Undercover) respectively.
Shoot 'em Up
- The starfighters you can control in the Rogue Squadron series often fall under these categories. Some examples include the X-Wing (balance), A-Wing or TIE Interceptor (speed) and Y-Wing or B-Wing (strength). Of course there are some ships that excel in speed, firepower and shields, like the Naboo Starfigher or the Buick.
- Cube Colossus: A.M.U.s 01, 02, and 03. A Jack-of-All-Stats, Stone Wall, and Fragile Speedster, respectively.
- Unlike past games of the series, in 19XX: The War Against Destiny allows you to choose between three planes with different skills: Lockheed P-38 Lightning (balance), the series's staple and the most balanced plane of the three; de Havilland Mosquito (strength), returning from 1941 and focused on firepower; and Kyushu J7W Shinden (speed), a newcomer plane and the fastest and most maneuverable ship.
- In the Samurai Shodown's Pachinko Spin-Off "Samurai Spirits Gaiden: Cham-Cham", based on the Wild Child of the series and sister of Tam-Tam, there's the Terrible Trio of the game: the Three Robbers Laura, Gororo and Bobon, which are the balance, speed and strength respectively.
Non-Video Game Examples
- While this trope's archetype in DC Comics superheroes should be Batman, The Flash and Superman as the balance, speed and strength respectively when they're on the same team (as the Justice League), this trope is mostly seen in and applied to their disciples assembled in Young Justice and later in Teen Titans teams: Robin III/Red Robin II (Tim Drake), Impulse/Kid Flash II (Bart Allen) and Superboy (Conner Kent/Kon-El).
- Phoenix Hearts: The main trio have this dynamic. Ciel, averting Standardized Leader, is the Strength member, being a good deal slower than the others, but also boasting the highest Melee stats. Rogua brings a balance between speed, strength and magic, making her the Balance character. Tiani is somewhat weak without using Zoning attacks, but is the fastest and the best at dodging.
- As seen in many Robin Hood stories, it's assumed that Robin is the balance and Little John the strength, so the speed could be Will Scarlet or Much the Miller's Son, all depends of the story or the adaptation.
- WWE's The Shield team had this kind of formation, with Dean Ambrose as the balance, Seth Rollins as the speed and Roman Reigns as the strength.
- A common set-up in High Fantasy RPGs such as Dungeons & Dragons, where players usually choose a knight or warrior (balance), a thief or ranger (speed) and a barbarian (strength). Same counts in the case of choosing races, in this case a human (balance), an elf or hobbit (speed) and a dwarf or half-orc (strength).
- While the three have similar powers, The Powerpuff Girls usually invoke this trope, Blossom being the balance, Bubbles the speed and Buttercup the strength.
- Beast Wars: The three Transformers that join the Maximals in season 1, Tigatron (balance) Airazor (speed), and Dinobot (strength).