A Bragging Rights Option is a gameplay selection (such as a character, weapon, etc.) which, through design or player reaction, is considered an unusual, rare or (most importantly) applauded accomplishment when played.
Being Difficult, but Awesome tends to overlap with this, but that's not enough. It can't just be difficult and/or powerful; being good with them has to lead to something impressive. For example, if even throwing a basic, unremarkable jab is extremely difficult, that is not this trope. Maybe their abilities are all flashy or hilarious when pulled off correctly, maybe their abilities require an unfathomable amount of good luck, or maybe they have combos that just go on forever if you're good enough. A difficult-to-use gameplay element can still be boring to play or watch, but Bragging Rights Gameplay never is.
It also differs from a Skill Gate Character, who is very easy to use and is very good at low-level play but poses no threat against more skilled or professional players. A Bragging Rights character can easily shift up and down on tier scaling. Furthermore, they're often the antithesis of Complacent Gaming Syndrome: some Bragging Rights Characters are one whose abilities are difficult or rare to see work, even if the player is good, and thus it's hard for audiences to feel "complacent". Just seeing one in action is considered a rare or unexpected treat.
To qualify, the gameplay element must be considered exceptional, flashy, or impressive in comparison to the majority of the other options. Anything can be impressive in the right hands, but this is something that audiences watch either because they might see the impressive thing happen or because it's almost a guarantee that they will. This trope is also not for things like a Rare Random Drop, where what's impressive is that the player HAS the item, regardless of whether it's used or not.
Common types of Bragging Rights Options:
- Characters or weapons that have some sort of unique gimmick that makes using them risky.
- Weapons or abilities that are really flashy, hilarious, gruesome or generally awesome to behold.
- Characters or content with incredibly long and intricate combos that require a lot of button inputs.
- Content that is simply rare to see used in an actual game, for a variety of reasons that may have nothing to do with how good or bad they are.
Sometimes, gameplay evolves this way through Meta Game, particularly if players discover a new way to use something that wasn't intended. As stated, this can easily evolve to either aHighTierScrappy or a Low-Tier Letdown. Can easily overlap with a Lethal Joke Character, or even a regular Joke Character, if the "lethal" or "joke" aspect is considered spectacular or hilarious to witness in action.
This type of character can lead to heavy Casual-Competitive Conflict if they're popular with one crowd and not the other.
Only one entry per example. note
- Devil May Cry:
- Royal Guard (used by Dante in 3, 4 and 5) is the most difficult Style to utilize, as it requires precise timing and foresight to use properly. In 4, Royal Guard Release also deals the highest damage in the game (rivaled only by the Distorted Real Impact note ), making Dante able to one-shot a number of enemies.
- Nevan, a guitar-type Devil Arm only present in Devil May Cry 3, is a difficult-to-use weapon that allows Dante to unleash electrical attacks while also rocking out.
- Dante's gauntlet Devil Arms (Beowulf, Gilgamesh and Balrog) are high-risk, high-reward close-range weapons that allow Dante to unleash quick, evasive and extremely fancy martial arts attacks. Balrog even comes with a built-in Stance System that changes what attacks he uses at what time.
- In 4 and 5, Dante fits the trope overall, since he retains every combat Style he started with in 3, and can switch them whenever he likes. He can also swap between any weapons (both guns and melee) he has acquired, creating a very complex fighting style which takes much skill and practice to master, but looks extremely stylish when pulled off.
- Nero was created to otherwise be Boring, but Practical in comparison to Dante, but his Exceed mechanic is the one area that players have to put in a lot of work to master. A skilled player making full use of his Exceed lets just about every hit from Nero's sword do massive damage and throw the enemy around like a ragdoll with fiery attacks.
- Dragon Ball FighterZ:
- Piccolo is considered a solid character, with "lockdown" strategies that force opponents to block continuously until Piccolo manages to find a hit. However, several other characters, such as Cell, Gohan and Kid Buu, can do the exact same thing but without using super meter and with better normal and special attacks than Piccolo. But for those reasons, it's more impressive when a player manages to pull it off with Piccolo. Pro player Hookganggod rose to internet stardom entirely based on his proficiency with the character.
- Captain Ginyu is one of the most gimmicky fighters in the game, with an entire team of Assist Characters that can be summoned in a fixed succession, a Super Move that can be powered up three levels, and another Super that will swap bodies with the enemy (while leaving that player unable to use any of Ginyu's abilities). He's considered notoriously difficult to win with, and the Body Change Super is exceptionally difficult to land, but it's amazing when it happens and crowds tend to flip their lids when they see it.
- Trunks is a character with extremely entertaining combos to watch, especially those which end with his Level 3 Meteor Attack—one of the most damaging Super Moves in the game. Said Meteor Attack, the Heat Dome Attack, is usually lauded in tournament crowds, who raise their hands in the same manner as Trunks blasts his opponent. Even more impressive is when it's pulled off raw, without guaranteed cancelling from a combo; it's a command throw which will catch an opponent who didn't block or dodge, and (as mentioned before) deals some of the most impressive damage in the game.
- While also a High-Tier Scrappy, Cell was one of the most hyped characters in early versions of FighterZ, with his intro being such a meme that crowds would be disappointed if a player didn't let the animation play out so that they could yell with him. Cell's playstyle is also extremely combo-heavy, with death or near-death almost assured on any hit. He even has a special animation with Teen Gohan (one of the lowest tier characters in the game) which replicates what is probably the most famous scene in all of Dragon Ball Z, thought it's unlikely to happen in tournament settings due to how rare it is to see Teen Gohan played in the first place, let alone win against Cell. That rarity only made the times it did happen more special, though.
- Marvel vs. Capcom 3:
- Dante is the combo-oriented character in the game, boasting an incredibly long moveset, with moves that cancel into other moves, cancelling into other moves, and into yet more moves. And he has access to virtually his entire arsenal from Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening. When Dante is played in the hands of an expert, or even a mediocre specialist who has created their own unique combos, fans are typically eager to watch and see how Dante will style on his opponents.
- After professional player Combofiend pulled off an extremely flashy comeback during a tournament, ending with Nathan Spencer's famous "BIONIC AAAAAARRRRRRRM!" Hyper Combo, Spencer became one of the most anticipated and applauded characters in the game, with crowds usually shouting along with the aforementioned move call-out.
- Iron Fist, added in the Ultimate version of the game, is a character considered to be quite a low-tier Scrappy, but with very impressive and hard-hitting combos if a player can actually pull them off successfully. Since his combos typically involve a lot of stance changes and Funny Bruce Lee Noises, fans always had a blast calling those out along with Iron Fist.
- Phoenix Wright, also added in Ultimate, has a unique Stance System where he gathers evidence in "Investigation Mode" to power up his "Trial Mode". His moveset perfectly encapsulates the Mundane Made Awesome appeal of his home series, featuring things like presenting evidence, finger points, and BigWordShouts that all inflict damage. Finding enough evidence puts him in Turnabout Mode, turning him into a One-Man Army and giving him access to his Level 3 Super, the most damaging one in the game, while a rocking remix of "Pursuit: Cornered" plays. All this combined make Phoenix Wright a very fun character to watch when played successfully.
- Soul Series:
- Ivy is a notable example of this. In addition to being dressed in a manner clearly designed to be eye-catching, she also has one of the most difficult-to-control weapons (a Whip Sword that switches between two modes). This is in addition to having one of the most spectacular and damaging command grabs which is also exceptionally difficult to pull off. It should be noted that Lady Valentine is also one of the characters most likely to have her moveset and command inputs significantly altered between installments, necessitating dedicated Ivy players to essentially relearn the character every few years. note
- Yoshimitsu, being the ancestor/predeccessor(s) of his Tekken counterpart, retains most of the same elements that make him a standout fighter in that series (see below), minus the ability to switch between an armed and unarmed fighting style. There is some additional variance between them moveset-wise (such as later Soulcalibur entries weaponizing the flag Yoshimitsu wears on his back), due to both the different button layout between series note and a more general effort to differentiate each series' take on Yoshimitsu, but you can expect all of the usual ninjutsu hijinks: weaponized seppuku, life-stealing face grabs, Lotus Position teleports... Soulcalibur VI even added to Yoshimitsu's usual misdirection by allowing him to steal meter from his opponents and giving him access to enhanced, meter-consuming note attacks analogous to the Brave Edges of Soulcalibur V—something no one else in the game can do.
- While he's usually a Jack of All Stats type whose fighting style leans towards Boring, but Practical, Soulcalibur VI's incarnation of Kilik became this on account of his Possessed State: a Soul Charge that slowly drains his life while he's in it. Like all Soul Charge forms in the game, the character becomes extremely flashy and dangerous while it's active, but that isn't all. "Malfested" Kilik also possesses one of the most powerful Critical Edges in the game in the form of an unblockable command grab that throws the enemy to the ground and turns his bo staff into a javelin that produces a massive explosion on impact. This means that every time Kilik enters that form, fans are on the edge of their seat watching a high-risk, high-reward fighting style that may just end with the opponent getting nuked into the Stone Age.
- Street Fighter:
- Akuma is traditionally one of the most well-rounded characters in the series, with incredible combo potential. He's built specifically for players that enjoy Ryu and Ken, but want to be exceptionally flashy. His super attack, the Raging Demon, is an especially awesome and humiliating way to defeat an opponent, being one of the most damaging throws in the game and serving as proof that you've read your opponent's moves. Ending a round with it even produces a unique screen flash with a giant kanji appearing (usually "Heaven"). This also often applies to Evil Ryu and—more recently—Kage as well, who possess extremely similar abilities to Akuma.
- Karin Kanzuki has one of the few "Just Frame" attacks (moves that have to be executed perfectly, down to the exact frame) in Street Fighter V. She also has a huge amount of combos, all of which are situational and require mastery of spacing and hit-confirming. While she's always been considered good, she largely avoided becoming High-Tier Scrappy like Chun-Li or Nash. So she's a solid character that requires good dexterity, good timing, good spacing, and good combos to use, meaning being good with her is rather rare. Her Noblewoman's Laugh during her Super also became an instant meme, with crowds copying it whenever they see it pulled off.
- Abigail is designed to be a walking Shocking Moment, with most of his moves showing how much he toys with his opponents while dealing some of the greatest damage in the entire game. His abilities are designed to punish players hard for bad reads. Stand and block for too long? Abigail hits you with an Unblockable Attack or a command grab. Toss a fireball at a bad time? Abigail hits you with an Attack Reflector. Try to zone him out? Abigail runs at you with Super Armor and can put you in one of the above mix-ups. And if you get hit by any of that stuff? Say goodbye to at least half of your health and witness one of the most hilarious Super Moves ever created. As discussed by Sugar Punch Design Works, he was designed to out-Goliath all other Goliaths.
- Menat became an Instant Web Hit the moment she was announced, with fans digging her unique Supermodel Strut animation and her design. However, she is one of the most difficult characters to use in the game due to her Orb and V-Trigger, which requires the player to control 6 different orbs. These orbs can be activated almost any time during V-Trigger, while her Orb can be thrown and recalled. All of these things meaning that Menat can do an almost endless variety of combos depending on her player's imagination and execution. One of the most lauded things about her gameplay from spectators is that no two Menat players play alike. She became one of the rarest characters to see online, but one that fans and viewers will clamor to watch when a player knows how to use her.
- Super Smash Bros.:
- The Smash Bros. community in general has what is unofficially known as the "Sick list", which is a ranking of which characters are the most exciting, or "sick" to win with. This listing is unconnected to a standard tier list which ranks characters for how good they are. This caused significant tension in the late 2010s when professional player Hungrybox became the undisputed best Melee player in the world... using Jigglypuff, a character considered on the absolute bottom of the "sick list" for being slow-moving, annoyingly evasive, and gradually ticking away an enemy's stock instead of doing large amounts of damage in one move or combo. The fact that such a "boring" character was consistently winning tournaments at the highest level led many professionals to campaign that the character should be banned, simply because it wasn't what Melee was "supposed to be about."
- On the extreme opposite end in Super Smash Bros. Melee, Falco demands dexterity and reflexes to the point where, alongside Fox, he's infamous for giving players carpal tunnel — and while he's much less consistent and common than Fox, he makes up for it in sheer chic. Falco has a quirk in his frame data that gives him nearly limitless chaining ability, meaning that through the power of free-styling, he possesses some of the lengthiest, flashiest, and most devastating combos in any Smash Bros. game, with enough variety that anything he does seems fresh and new. If you see a "sick combo" tournament highlight clip on an internet forum, chances are it's from Falco.
- Tekken: Yoshimitsu is a Mechanically Unusual Fighter with a sword, lots of different stances, and moves that hurt him. His suicide Death or Glory Attack deals massive damage to both Yoshi and an enemy, and if the opponent dies as a result, it counts as a win for Yoshi no matter what. However, the attack is extremely slow and easy to see coming thanks to all sorts of visual and audio effects, and if an opponent dodges it, Yoshi only deals the massive damage to himself. Being able to land this attack to close out a round is one of the most rare, and flashiest ways to win in Tekken, but it's also one of the most humiliating ways for either player to lose.
- Virtua Fighter has several.
- Akira is known for being the single most difficult character to use in every game, despite being marketed as the series' lead (of a sort). A good Akira player can make an opponent look absolutely pathetic with his arsenal of moves that require strict timing and foresight, and he hits with such high passion and high damage that you can almost FEEL the bones breaking.
- Vanessa's difficulty comes from her Stance System and the fact that she has a long moveset in both of her stances. It's not uncommon to find beginner or average Vanessa players who either only know the basics in both stances or just stick to one stance completely. A Vanessa player that knows both stances thoroughly, though? Both rare and SCARY. Some of her most difficult but devastating abilities in Offensive Stance involve tackling an opponent and mounting them MMA-style, while the ones in Defensive Stance involve counters that brutalize the opponent gruesomely.
- Kage is both an uncommon and impressive character due to how strange his moveset is. Incorporating a number of acrobatic flips, rolls, dives, and handstands, a Kage player who knows what they're doing is not a common thing to see.
- Aoi is based on reversals, parries, counters, and an insanely large repertoire of defensive moves. She doesn't have many combos, she isn't acrobatic or flashy, and she doesn't deal half your life in damage. However, an Aoi that knows what she's doing and can read an opponent feels like fighting a psychic. A successful counter also leads to humiliating and gruesome bone-crunching animations from Aoi.
- Overwatch: note
- Ana has largely been regarded this type of character. All of her abilities require a high degree of aim and Cooldown management to use efficiently, which makes her a less consistent pick than other healers such as Mercy. Her Sleep Dart ability requires such incredibly good aim, timing and cooldown management (as well as a clear line of sight to the target), but it instantly renders a character helpless. Its ability to stop a character's Ultimate instantly allows her to steal a Moment of Awesome from an opponent if she can land it successfully. Her Ultimate ability (Nano Boost) turns one of her teammates into a glowing, super strong, super tough (and, in her original patch, super fast) engine of destruction.
- Hanzo is a character with high damage and okay utility, and his niche (sniping) is usually supplanted by other characters like McCree and Widowmaker in most serious matches. However, he is a character that can do massive damage in the right hands if a player's aim is good enough to get headshots and they were able to time his Ultimate (basically a slow-moving Advancing Wall of Doom) just right. His original design also included Scatter Arrow, a Pinball Projectile which could one-shot any character (even Tanks) if the player understood exactly where to aim to get all or most of the arrows to hit. That ability, however, was later traded for a rapid-fire shot called Storm Arrow—which many players disliked specifically because it was more consistent than Scatter Arrow and thus less impressive to get kills with.
- Wrecking Ball was introduced as the wackiest addition to a cast of already wacky characters, being a giant hamster in a ball-shaped mech. Wrecking Ball is unique on many levels, being the fastest, most mobile character in the game, and abilities that can make him a One-Man Army in the right hands while tossing his opponents about like rag dolls. His primary movement mechanic involves doing Building Swings, which is fun to do and watch in itself, and allow for crazy things to happen thanks to the game's physics engine.
- In Team Fortress 2, the Spy class relies heavily on stealth and on mimicking the enemy team. However, the Spy is not meant for head-on fights, and accordingly Spy players need to fool their enemies. Experienced players can easily spot even a good Spy from just a momentary mistake, and Pyros are notorious for their reflexive "Spy-checks" with their flamethrower. Even so, getting a good backstab means that you instantly kill any enemy and disrupt all of their plans in one fell swoop, and deny the enemy team a valuable asset until the dead player respawns. This is invaluable to a team, especially if you can take out key players and then disappear again without dying.
- Monster Hunter:
- The Charge Blade is one of the most difficult weapons in the series to master, due to its complicated "phial" and "discharge" system, and essentially being three weapons in one: a Sword, a Shield, and Giant Axe. The player must master using attacks that charge the sword and shield, store those charges into the shield's phials, and then discharge those phials for maximum damage. The weapon's most powerful attack, the Super Amped Elemental Discharge, has an EXTREMELY long windup and linear attack range, meaning that landing it on the fast, hard-hitting monsters in the games requires either serious timing or setup in order to use consistently. But when it lands, its target is going to explode in a world of hurt.
- The Hunting Horn is the single least-used weapon in the game, being essentially a "support" weapon and not all that useful for a solo hunter. In a party, though, the person using the Hunting Horn is the MVP of the team, providing various buffs and immunities, healing, and even dishing out some of the highest damage in the game if they can land its rather slow, unwieldy attacks. In addition to this, as a "Blunt" style weapon, they can break armor faster and hitting monsters in the head with the Horn will stun the monster and let the rest of the team dish out heavy damage with their own attacks. A Hunting Horn master is thus one of the most respected and rarely seen player archetypes.
- The Great Sword is the most powerful weapon, in terms of how much damage it dishes out in a single hit. However, it is also extremely slow and has very few defensive capabilities. A player using it needs to have extremely good timing, positioning and mechanical skill to get any value. In addition, the Great Sword's most powerful attack is the True Charge, which takes pixel-perfect precision and long preparation to set up and execute properly. But, combined with buffs, explosives, and proper stat boosts, the True Charge can insta-kill wounded monsters.
- The Bard class of Neverwinter Nights is famous for being underpowered, with an emphasis on support abilities that favor huge groups in a game where parties are always small. However, a sufficiently skilled player with detailed knowledge of game mechanics can spec a bard out to be a nigh-unkillable master of attrition warfare, who deals out unblockable buffs and debuffs that make them a gigantic pain to deal with.
- MechWarrior Online has what are known as "boomstick lights" or "big game hunters," which tend to be lighter Mechs equipped with one or two very large weapons being deployed to hunt down and kill heavy or assault Mechs (something like squeezing a Gauss rifle into a Raven). This is not what most small Mechs are designed for and is notably an extremely inefficient way to play as many of the various Mechs available for this tactic lack the supporting quirks to benefit this playstyle. However, it tends to be very popular with viewers regardless and lends itself to very high-risk high-reward gameplay.
- Magic: The Gathering developer Mark Rosewater published an article in 2013 describing the typical Player Archetypes they found while designing cards. They named them "Timmy", "Johnny" and "Spike". While a "Timmy" just wants to use the coolest or biggest-and-baddest card, and a "Spike" wants to only play what's most likely to win, a "Johnny" is a player that plays for style. To them, card and deck choices are a form of self-expression, so they pick something that shows off their own creativity. For them, winning with the biggest monster or the most powerful ability isn't enough; they want everyone to be amazed by the way the won. The article also briefly discusses hybrids, such as "Timmy/Johnny", who does use a big/strong card but has some sort of unique way of setting it up or using it. A "Johnny/Spike" loves playing what wins, but there has to be their unique twist to it. A "Timmy/Johnny/Spike" is a rare hybrid that has figured out how to play for power, style and efficiency all at once.
- Nintendo Wars has the luck-based COs, Flak and Jugger. They have a chance of striking with more firepower than usual, but also with less. Their CO Powers increase the range even further. Objectively terrible? Of course, especially when Nell has similar or better luck-based damage boosts but none of their drawbacks. Hilariously awesome when they actually roll high? Oh yes.
- Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn lets magic users counter-attack with staves on the enemy phase, if they ended their turn with one equipped. Staves all have 0 might, so combined with the terrible Strength most magic users have, you're going to hear the Sound of No Damage 99.9% of the time. Because of this, killing something with a staff, especially a boss, tends to get a lot of hype in Let's Plays and livestreams. (Even more so when done with Oliver, a Joke Character subject to a lot of Memetic Mutation) Similarly, Laguz can counter-attack with punches or kicks if they get attacked in human form. The Laguz Royals are Purposefully Overpowered and can shift forms at will, and some players prefer to keep them in human form just to see them kill hoards of enemies with their bare hands.
- In a video discussing character selection, fighting game player/commentator Sajam described this as being the primary motivation (aside from aesthetics) why players pick characters in fighting games. The player may find a character that has a hilarious, entertaining, or extremely cool-looking attack or ability that they will play the character simply to land on their opponent, and feel accomplished or satisfied from that alone.