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Character Select Forcing

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You pick your favorite character in the character select screen. Then you play the game and lose. Let's try it again. No dice, you lose again. And this keeps happening until you change to another character, who creams the level, without being the Game-Breaker. Usually, this didn't even look like a job for Aquaman.

What happened was that the game designers wanted to encourage players to try out the more obscure characters, abilities or techniques. Sometimes, the level design suggests that much, when it should be set up with the general mechanics and bigger potential issues in mind instead. But at any rate, the game has artificially limited which characters you can use by making many of them poorly suited for the situation.


A form of Fake Difficulty, albeit one that may be hard for designers to avoid. Compare with Trial-and-Error Gameplay and Plot Tailored to the Party. Some fans try to overcome this with Character Tiers. See also Required Party Member, when you must have a certain character in your party for plot-related purposes (since you typically have a party of three, this may mean leaving a preferred character behind).



  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon Red and Blue and the remakes have Brock and Misty as the first two Gym Leaders. Both are resistant to Fire-types, making defeating them potentially quite difficult if you picked Charmander as your starter (Brock is also completely immune to Pikachu in Yellow Version), though Brock is at least tolerable because both his Pokemon have low Special (Defense), meaning Ember will hurt them a lot either way. In contrast, Squirtle and Bulbasaur are both double-effective against Brock's Rock/Ground Pokemon and resistant to Misty's Water-types. Downplayed in that Brock's Pokemon thankfully lack any actual Rock- or Ground-type moves in the originals note , and you may have other options besides simply level-grinding and brute-forcing it: Yellow and the remakes make Mankey and Nidoran note  available on Route 22, and you can catch a Pikachu to deal with Misty in Viridian Forest.
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    • Pokémon Gold and Silver and their remakes have the infamous Miltank in Goldenrod Gym, which is difficult to defeat through brute force unless you prepared and accounted for Muscle, the female Machop from an in-game trade in the Goldenrod Department Store.
    • In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, there are only two lines of Fire Pokémon in Sinnoh. If you didn't pick Chimchar the starter, you were stuck with Ponyta, a mediocre Fire type that evolves late and brings very little to the table. If you want to deal with Bronzor easily, you'll have to pick Chimchar, deal with Ponyta or grind in the Game Corner to teach Flamethrower to something without STAB. Platinum amends this by introducing the Eevee, Magmar and Houndour families to help Trainers who didn't pick Chimchar, as well as opening up the Wayward Cave secret entrance to allow Trainers with certain Trainer IDs to Take a Third Option and use Mold Breaker Earthquake Rampardos.
    • The Battle Frontier in Platinum includes the Battle Hall, in which you're required to face 10 battles against a Pokémon of each of 17 types (meaning 170 battles in total) using the same Pokémon and without losing if you want to get the Golden Symbol for the attraction. The number of Pokémon that are actually capable of pulling this off reliably is extremely low, as you need one that's both strong and having a movepool that's diverse enough to cover all of its weaknesses.
    • In Pokémon Black and White, the Striaton Gym has three Leaders, one of each starting element, and the one with the type advantage against your starter will always be your opponent. Clyde the Gym Guide will unambiguously point you to an easy side area where another trainer will donate you the third point in this Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors to even things up. Chose Oshawott and think the early-game bird will circumvent this? You can't get it until after beating the Striaton Gym.
    • Pokéstar Studios in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 requires you to first complete each scenario with rental Pokémon, with later movies forcing a very specific strategy in order to win. After filming any movie with rental Pokémon, you could use your own, often resulting in much easier wins.
    • HM Moves can result in this, particularly Surf. Most games before Black & White will include at least one long stretch of water route, so one will almost always require a Water-type to learn Surf to traverse them without having an 'HM slave' dedicated just to Surfing. Whether the other HMs join your main party depends on how frequently they are encountered and whether they are blocking access to a boss like Sinnoh's Cyrus. The only silver lining is that Surf, unlike other HM moves, is fairly strong and therefore usable in battling.
    • This also shows up in the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series. Normally, virtually every Pokémon is viable due to allowing you to use stat boosting items to compensate for any stat deficiencies (unlike the main games). However, the dungeons that temporarily revert your Pokémon to a low level throw this out the window. The only Pokémon who have even a slight chance of surviving through one of said dungeons need to have high starting stats and/or high stat gains for their early level-ups and they also need to have a decent level-up moveset. Pokémon lacking the former qualities will get torn apart on earliest floors, while those who lack the latter will suffer for it later when the enemy Pokémon become too tough for their moves to deal with them efficiently. It becomes even more limiting if the dungeon also forbids bringing items and/or other party members, as they can compensate for the flaws of a given Pokémon to a degree. There typically ends up being only around a dozen or so Pokémon out of the hundreds available who can actually clear these dungeons with some semblance of reliability as a result.
    • In PokePark 2: Wonders Beyond, the player has the choice of playing as any of the four possible playable characters... but during the story mode only the one most recently unlocked will register as a win. You can do absolutely perfect with Pikachu and it still won't give you the passing score until you agree to play as Oshawott/Snivy/Tepig.
  • Diddy Kong Racing (or at least, the N64 original) makes you try different characters constantly. In fact, the first Wizpig race is just about the only one where it doesn't make a difference what character you choose. Anything else either requires balanced middleweights or fast lightweights, except rare occasions where a heavyweight would keep you from being pushed into water. The characters were finally balanced in Diddy Kong Racing DS.
  • There's an obscure Marvel Comics-based beat 'em up/platformer on the SNES called Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems. The Hulk is so huge and slow that he's useless for nearly the entire game, but his range is such that he can interrupt most of the final boss' attacks, meaning that he manages to be an obnoxiously worthless character and a Game Breaker in the same game.
  • The Game Boy Advance version of TMNT 2: Battle Nexus. If you want to collect all the crystals, you have to switch between the turtles at least twice, as nearly all of them required a different one's skills to get to them
  • A Tiny Toon Adventures-based game on the NES allowed Buster to switch places with Plucky, Furball or Dizzy. The character to whom he switches is chosen before the level. Not only are many levels easiest with a specific character, but the game even tells you which character that is if you sit on the character select screen long enough. That said, Plucky's ability to fly provided he can get a running start allowing the player to skip large portions of a level makes him generally the best character to use in order to simply get through most stages.
  • In Wing Commander III, if you continue to choose to fly with Hobbes over the other pilots, past the first mission, you get called to the carpet on it by Captain Eisen, and morale suffers from the show of favoritism.
  • Most Kirby games require the use of specific abilities to access objectives or secret areas. However, since copying enemy abilities on the fly is Kirby's whole shtick, it's probably justified in this case.
  • Chrono Trigger: The initial run through the Blackbird is much easier with the right party configuration. At the beginning of the dungeon, your party is thrown in jail, with all of their equipment, items, and money stolen. If you get attacked by anything in this condition, you have to start the whole dungeon over unless you have Ayla in the group. She is the only character who uses her bare hands to kill enemies. However, without armor, she's a Glass Cannon until the party's equipment is recovered.
  • During certain story or event chapters in Granblue Fantasy, some characters will be locked out of selection for plot consistency, such as not allowing you to use Black Knight on a certain boss battle. Players may have to change their party compositions if said characters are not applicable.
    • Subverted on certain Hard and Extreme Arcarum stages where the player is forced to use only R or SR characters for the duration of the stage. The subversion is that the rest of your party often contributes so little that the recommended strategy is to just make a setup where the main character does the fight more or less themselves.
  • Guild Wars. There are numerous occasions, mostly in PvP, where if you are playing a particular class or build, you will lose. All the time. The developers have even admitted there are some builds and classes they specifically don't want players to play.
  • Mega Man:
    • The levels in Mega Man & Bass were clearly designed with the Double Jump and the ability to shoot in 8 directions in mind, and only Bass can perform either (as well as fly). This is meant to be balanced by the fact that, for boss fights, Bass's machine gun can only inflict one sliver of damage every four seconds, must stand still to shoot it and his dash isn't as good at dodging as Mega Man's slide, but if one uses the boss weaknesses, that flaw barely exists after the first two stages. The game also has CD collectibles that require both Mega Man and Bass' abilities, meaning you will have to play through the game as both characters if you wish to get 100% Completion.
    • An occasional complaint about Mega Man X8 is that obtaining all of the items more or less keeps Zero on the bench up until the fortress stages, leaving Axl (who is admittedly fun to use this time around) and X to do everything.
    • If you chose the Shadow Armor to complete Gate's fortress in X6, you WILL have to continue and change armor after the first stage because of a Bottomless Pit you can't cross. Everyone else can cross it, but Shadow Armor lacks an air dash. Ironic, since the Shadow Armor otherwise makes these final stages far easier with the immunity to spikes. You have to equip a specific combo of Parts (Hyper Dash and Speedster, but do NOT use Jumper or you'll go too high and hit a wall above you) before you start the stage and to have proper positioning to have a chance of making the jump.
    • There's a variant in Mega Man X5 and X6. While it's certainly possible to use both characters equally, you really wouldn't want to. That being because while parts are shared, Heart Tanks and Weapon Tanks (life and weapon energy increases, respectively) are not and there's no real use in splitting them (except for the ones in X5 that are impossible for Zero to get) because you're using one character or the other, not both. The effect is that you're forced into using whoever you started upgrading, and leaving the other permanently benched. The problem still exists in a different way in X7, where there are three characters instead of two, but one of them will still be sitting out because you can only use two at a time and power-ups still aren't shared (though nothing's stopping you from never using more than one character). X8 finally eliminates the problem by having power-ups be bought, allowing you to build every character equally instead of being restricted to the amount of heart/weapon tanks that exist.
    • That said, even your choice of character at the beginning of Mega Man X5 matters a lot. Choosing X means you lose Zero's arm cannon, which is annoying but of little consequence, while choosing Zero means you lose X's Fourth/Force Armor. Obviously nobody tells you about this little consequence. Since the game was effectively built with the armor in mind, as stages practically require air dashes and enemies do ludicrous damage and knock-back without it, choosing Zero in the beginning permanently cripples X and renders him effectively worthless until you manage to scrounge together the Falcon Armor or if you know about the hidden Ultimate Armor (both of which you can't get until later in the game). By then of course you've probably built up Zero to the point that you wouldn't want to go back and use X anyways, as discussed prior. To make matters worse, it's possible to lose Zero for good and whether or not you do is largely determined by luck. There's a reason the game mod that lets you keep both character's abilities (along with sharing bonuses and disabling all of Alia's hints) has been downloaded over three thousand times.
    • The Mega Man Battle Network series has three Virus families that force you to use certain chip types or fusions in order to even harm them at all. Shadow and Nightmare Viruses are immune to everything except for cutting attacks like swords, meaning that they're downright unbeatable without those in your folder or fusions.
  • Backyard Sports. The pros are usually the only viable characters to beat the game, except Lightning Bruiser Pablo. In fact, most of the rest of the Backyard Kids, who were only introduced two games before the pros, are awful in the games with the pros. Averted in Skateboarding, however.
  • Done particularly bluntly in Companions Of Xanth. Early in the game, you have to choose one of the four eponymous companions to accompany you on your quest: Jenny Elf, Nada Naga, Chester Centaur and D. Mentia. Three of these people will get you killed before you leave the first room. You're required by plot to choose only one specific companion. Worse, it is revealed later that one of the other three would have been a far better match for you, and you switch.
  • Similarly, Stationfall gives you a choice of three robot companions: your plucky robot buddy Floyd from the previous game, a tank-like utility robot, and a secretarybot. Choosing the utility robot results in instant death, and the secretarybot can't copilot the shuttle that is the only means of reaching 95% of the game.
  • Dark Cloud and its sequel Dark Chronicle both have this:
    • The first had this in spades; the usefulness of your allies varied widely, with different ranges and 'wait times'. To make matters worse, certain dungeon floors would switch you to one of your allies without warning and force you to use them. Woe befall any player who couldn't adapt to the Mighty Glacier's awkward attacks after breezing through with the ranged characters...
    • In the second game, Red and Blue Seal floors would force you to use either Max or Monica exclusively, unless you used a special, consumable, expensive "unlock" item to let you use both like usual. The thing is, Max was generally overpowered because of his guns and his Ridepod Mini-Mecha, so Blue Seal floors were just like any other to him; Monica was typically handicapped by Red Seal floors because these were almost always populated by Ridepod-class enemies against which swords and magic were almost useless.
  • The main source of difficulty in the Protector series of Flash Tower Defense games. Most stages require you to specialize in one or two specific elements, and sometimes specialize on one or two specific special abilities for your mages and combat specializations for your fighters.
  • Monster Hunter usually averts this, as a player with some skill can avoid timing out or getting pasted with any given weapon, but there are some fights that are much easier or much harder with some weapons. For example, Plesioth is typically a bow hunt because its questionable hitbox makes melee very frustrating. Fast monsters like Barioth or Blangonga are often easier with the sword and shield because it's easier to keep pace with them. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne however plays this almost completely straight with Alatreon, who can cause Escaton Judgment, an instant kill nuke that can only be weakened by using elemental weapons, and some elements will be better choices in certain phases compared to others. Granted, it is possible to just use either a Raw weapon anyway and just carting to just the Judgements, but it’s not recommended outside of single player.
  • Dragon's Dogma has various degrees of this ranging from disadvantageous to nearly impossible. While all enemies have things they are weak to, it's how well they respond to their resistances that causes the problem. Griffins for example fly around making it hard to melee them, but they still land occasionally making them vulnerable. Ghosts however are weak to magic but take no damage at all from physical. A ghost is vulnerable to physical if they start possessing someone, but they disappear and reset after one hit so if you specialize in rapid but weak physical attacks you're effectively useless. To add on, there's the haunted armor that is at first only weak to physical and then only weak to magic. Overall this can normally be mitigated by having a balanced party, but since you have no direct control over your teammates things can soon devolve into A.I. Roulette if you have to rely on them for damage. But perhaps the worst offender is the golden golem since it can only be harmed at all by destroying the talismans that supply it power... talismans that are often high up (so no melee), resist magic (no casters), and can be in remote locations (good luck directing the AI to target a hard to find one). Meaning if you happen to have the leader as an archer, the fight is a cake walk, but anything else and the fight might be utterly impossible.
  • Nintendo Wars:
    • In the first battle against Drake in Advance Wars 1, if you selected Max or Sami as your commander and lose, Nell will outright ask you, "how about using Andy next time?". Drake's Super CO power damages all enemy units, while Andy's heals all allied units; it only makes sense. Of course, you need to complete the next few missions with only Sami in order to unlock a Bonus Boss.
    • Advance Wars: Dual Strike has the War Room map, Megalopolis. This map gives the enemy loads of free income, negating the enemy CO's usual weakness of having better soldiers in exchange for having to pay more for them. However, there are six Com Towers on this map, which screams "Use the CO whose defense goes up when he captures a Com Tower or DIE!" There are also situations in Campaign mode where you NEED the CO who can lower the enemy power bar with her CO Power, but those are minor compared to Megalopolis.
  • You won't earn 100% Completion in Jumper Three unless you use every form of Ogmo. Yes, that means Blue Ogmo as well.
  • In Legend of Mana, going up against a certain dog-like boss on high difficulty with a glove class weapon was tantamount to suicide. Unfortunately, you won't know this until you're already in the fight and get hurt every time you punch him.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy III does this with job classes, as it was made in the days before switchable party members. Some dungeons force you into the "mini" status, which nukes the strength stat, so you have to switch everyone to a mage class if they're not in one. A few boss fights also require a certain job (eg Garuda and Dragoons) if you want to stand a chance of winning. The Video Game Remake downplays this in one of the Mini sections that makes your Guest-Star Party Member use only lightning attacks when/if they help out (and certain jobs are buffed to be more useful), but generally remains the same.
    • Final Fantasy X encourages the player to switch party members around regularly by making specific enemies suited to different members' attacks. Tidus deals well with fast wolf-type enemies, Wakka can aim for flying creatures, Lulu deals magic damage to attack-resistant flans, and so on. That's the carrot, the stick is the fact that if you don't switch they won't gain EXP for when you want them later It's really severe early on. Against the correct enemy type, each character normally gets a one or two hit kill. If you try to attack that same enemy with any other character, they will either miss or do virtually no damage. Only a handful of enemies you encounter aren't specifically made for one character to deal with. This mellows out later on when you can move into another character's part of the sphere grid to get similar stats and skills and can start customizing weapons. Kihmari tends to fall behind the other characters because there is no enemy type he is specifically made to counternote .
    • Dissidia Duodecim will require the user to pick Cloud if he or she is going to farm money and weapons. Because the gateways are punishing to newer players (lvl 50-80 gateways when fresh characters are in their twenties), the player will have to bend the rules in the bonus scenario 00. Manipulating the rules to max out EX force, Wall Rush Damage, and Ex Damage is required to meet the goals in the gateways comfortably. Cloud's EX abilities suit the rule manipulation perfectly, so Cloud will have to be used in the majority of the fights solely because his Ultima Weapon can Guard Crush enemy blocks and can slam an enemy for almost all of their HP (save one since Wall Rush can't be the determining blow). As a result, the battles go quickly and comfortably. The scenario is certainly doable with the other characters, make no mistake, but Cloud's skillset and abilities are ideal to complete it for farming purposes.
    • In Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, you will need an Elementalist at all times during the second half and endgame. Thanks to Dynamic Difficulty, the Elementalist's ability to amp up elements on attack and grant immunity on defense are indispensable.
    • Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia has a low-key version of this. Each week, a certain handful of your Loads and Loads of Characters will get twice the experience points, encouraging players to level them up. And during character recruitment events, two other characters (aside from the new one) will have "Boosted" stats and will probably have a 2x experience point bonus, making it desirable to bring them along. This is particularly true when taking on the multiplayer quests; the developers had to add a "just for fun" mode to keep players from reflexively disbanding any party that didn't have a Boosted character in it.
    • Final Fantasy XIV downplays this to an extent: dungeons can be run with a four member team of any composition, as long as the team is in a party when the leader starts the dungeon. However, if you're looking to do a dungeon in a party of less than three people, the game will enforce the "1 healer, 1 tank, 2 DPS" class balance to make sure that the dungeon is doable without being frustrating. Endgame/End of Content dungeons, like Castrum Meridianum at the end of A Realm Reborn, forces an 8-person team of "2 healers, 2 tanks, 4 DPS", unless, again, the full party is assembled beforehand. Raids, consisting of 3 8-person parties, likewise enforce proper class balance.
      • The Duty Roulette, which allows a player to sign up to participate in a dungeon run, features another downplayed example of this: the role that is least represented among all the players signed up for the Roulette gets an experience and money bonus for being the "role in need". The most common role in need is usually Tank, followed by Healer, but of the 20 combat classes available to players, only 3 classes are tanks and 4 classes are healers.
  • It is virtually impossible to complete mission 18 of Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, "Fortress", without a full-on attacker plane (i.e. a plane specialized exclusively in air-to-ground combat), so if you swept through the previous A2G missions in your fancy A2A fighter jet, you are in for a rude awakeningnote . It is especially jarring since the very next mission is pretty much one big Hopeless Boss Fight against two squadrons of aces flying state-of-the-art air superiority fighters. And you are not allowed to change your plane.
  • The last three levels of Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War force you to keep the same plane and weapon for all three, regardless of what you actually go up against. Pick a dedicated bomber for "Avalon"'s trench run and you'll have trouble taking care of the enemy aces in "Demon of the Round Table"; conversely, go for a decent air-to-air fighter to take out those eight aces and you'll have to make multiple runs through the trench as it's slowly closing itself off. That being said, a fast air superiority fighter like the F/A-22A (which is usually the best non-super plane in the series) is more than capable of taking on all three missions without an issue, as it can fly fast enough to finish the trench run easily, and absolutely dominates air-to-air combat.
  • Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi employed this trope in spades. Some levels let you choose from a small pool of characters to use for a level while other levels forced you to use a specific character, all based on which characters were present for the corresponding parts of the movie. A cheat code lets you remove this restriction and use any character in any stage, though.
  • Rogue Squadron is an odd example: the first you play a mission you are typically obliged to use the designated ship, and Snowspeeder missions cannot be completed by any other ship and thus the trope is enforced. It is downplayed in most missions, since you may choose other ships after beating the level once, and in some cases these work better than the intended original. After completing the game - i.e., collecting all gold medals - it is mostly averted and you are able to choose any ship for most of the missions without penalties.
  • Example where the opposing team forces your hand: In Team Fortress 2, if you run into a wall of 2 or more sentries, you may be forced to switch from poor long-range classes like Pyro or Scout to specific Engineer-haters like Spy or Demoman. Also enforced in competitive play with class limits. Notable examples are Highlander play which uses nine players per team, one of each class and 6v6 matches which limit you to two of each class (except for Medic and Demoman which have a limit of one).
  • Whether or not you lose team members during the Mass Effect 2's invasion of the Collector's base is determined by which characters' loyalty you have earned, what upgrades you purchase for your Cool Ship, and by whom you pick to fill what role. Assuming people are loyal, pick the wrong person to escort the hostages back to the ship, or to crawl through the conduit, or to shield you from the bugs, and you'll lose people. Make the right choices, and you'll almost certainly get everyone through alive. Alleviated by the fact that the selections make sense, and even the character description blurbs given on the screen do hint reasonably well at what choices should make more sense, such as Tali the tech genius for the conduit crawl and Garrus leading a commando team.
    • Choose the wrong character - or choose the right character but without earning their loyalty first - and they die with No Saving Throw.
    • The mission can quickly snowball. If you ignored the boring planet-scanning and thus couldn't upgrade the Normandy, people die during the space section of the approach. They, obviously, can't be chosen for roles in the next part, which can leave you lacking loyal party members who make good choices for each role, and thus more deaths ensue. One section involves your party conducting a rear-guard action while you advance. Each character has a certain hidden value for how much they contribute to defense, and it is halved for characters who aren't loyal. If the party's "defense value" is too low, characters are killed off in reverse order of how much they contribute to defense. Also, any not-loyal party members who go to the final battle die. It is possible that no one survives, not even the Player Character, if the player makes truly bone-headed decisions.
  • Mass Effect 3, meanwhile, has a much more limited cast than the second game, which lends itself to this. If you didn't keep Kaidan alive and didn't buy Javik's DLC, Liara will be your only biotic squadmate. Same goes for EDI being your only tech squadmate if Garrus and Tali died during the second game (or in Tali's case, if you side with the geth on Rannoch), and James as the sole combat specialist if Ashley's dead. You might be able to reclass Shepard to fill in the gaps, but that requires some foresight.
  • The X-Men Legends games both have shades of this, because some enemies in various areas will be resistant to the kind of damage your heroes are dealing. The most egregious examples include the Morlocks, which will come in swarms of all the different kinds of resistance, forcing players to switch characters while in the center of a stampede; and the Sentinels and other robots, which are resistant to mental damage. Which makes sense in and of itself, but this trope really comes into play in the second game, where Jean is the only character who specializes in mental attacks and is thus useless against the robots. Additionally, there is one part of the final dungeon in the first world of the sequel where you come face to face with a door that's sealed shut on the outside and an additional switch inside its room must be thrown in order to proceed. Though Nightcrawler isn't required, with his teleporting ability he's the only way you can get through this part.
  • Sonic Rush Adventure:
    • The Sky Babylon stage has a lot of fire scattered about randomly, which can get really annoying since you'll probably be moving too fast to avoid it in time. Blaze the Cat happens to be immune to fire, so unless you really want to do things the pointless and difficult way, you'll want to choose her.
    • Haunted Ship as well, as some areas consist entirely of ship rigging used as trampolines to bounce over the masts. Sonic requires successive bounces to reach the heights needed to get to the next rope, whereas Blaze can use her mid-air dash to clear these areas quickly and effortlessly. In most other stages, Sonic and Blaze are pretty even with how quickly they can finish the stages, but Haunted Ship has Blaze with an unquestionable advantage.
  • Gloria Union has five main characters and (usually) only five deployment spaces per map, while your team will have between eight and thirteen members. All of those five main characters are repeatedly required-deploy late into the game, which forces you to use them to level them up instead of getting the chance to try out the rest of your party.
  • In Dragon Age II, unless Hawke is also a mage, Anders will be the only healer available for most of the game. Since only relying on healing potions is costly and risky (thanks to potions' cooldown time), Anders will probably be in the party most of the time. This makes the final decision concerning Anders' betrayal that much more difficult. What makes this example particularly painful is that Anders lacks the Spirit Healer specialization and instead half of his unique skill tree, Vengance, consists of inferior versions of the Spirit Healer spells, while losing out on some of the helpful passives that exists there. Vengance's other half turns him into a Glass Cannon and is mutually exclusive. The two other mages, Bethany and Merrill? Bethany can only learn the basic heal spell and will be killed near the end of the prologue if Hawke is a mage or be otherwise unavailable until the very final battle (assuming she was brought to the circle), while Merrill can't learn any healing spells whatsoever.
  • You're rarely forced to bring Alicia, Rosie, and Largo to missions in Valkyria Chronicles. However, it's a good idea to always deploy them, even if the map isn't suited to their abilities, since they provide extra CP, which means you get more actions per turn.
  • Kinder plays this straight only for the Final Boss battle. This is the only battle the player is allowed to pick themselves which three children to add as party members, and will quickly learn that Hiroto or Aya have to be in the party. Their unique abilities are Shout (lowers opponent's Willpower by 50) and Dark Gaze (causes opponent to skip turn), respectively, and are the only way to prevent the Final Boss from using a party-wipe attack during its first phase. Its remake Re:Kinder removes this necessity, as the player can obtain a well-hidden item that one-shot kills the Final Boss and skips to its second phase.
  • Shadow Hearts: Covenant and From The New World basically force you to take Anastasia and Johnny, respectively, because they're the only ones with the Enemy Scan move. It's not vital in Covenant, but you lose an entire game-wide subquest if you neglect to take Johnny anywhere in the latter game.
  • Very common in most MMORPGs, like World of Warcraft, where choosing the wrong group setup in endgame raiding can easily thwart all chances at success. World of Warcraft itself has gone from strictly this (The Four Horsemen were notorious for requiring eight well-geared warriors to beat) to a bring the player, not the class style of play. Instead of having unique abilities and buffs that may be required in certain fights, the classes are defined by different playstyles and any 10-player group is very likely to be able to beat any encounter, especially now that changing specializations is much easier. Buffs in particular have been made comparatively weaker and more available. One problem that is still rampant in Mists of Pandaria is that some fights are considerably harder if you have too many mêlée damage dealers. Mêlée damage dealers can attack whilst moving and can often ignore a boss's ranged attacks but must run around after their targets. Ranged damage dealers can keep their distance and avoid close ranged attacks but have limited options if they are forced to move (although hunters have the best of both worlds). The mechanics of most fights seem to end up favoring ranged players, especially in cases where the boss starts dropping abilities on the mêlée group if there are not enough ranged targets available. Groups with many mêlée players will find a lot of the fights much harder and all-mêlée groups are all but impossible in many circumstances. You still need at least 2 tanks thanks to "tank-swapping" mechanics, enough healers to last through the fight, and enough DPS to kill the boss before his enrage mechanic, so going for an all-mage or rogue team ends in failure.
    • Stupidly bad back in Vanilla, where you had to have a Warrior Tank, Druids and Priests healed, Paladins were brought along to keep up their 5-minute Status Buffs on 40-man parties, a Druid to hide invisible off somewhere then revive anyone that went down, Mages to provide healers with mana-recharging food, exactly three Warlocks to keep up their debuffing curses, and a variety of "Burst" and "Sustained" Damage dealers.
  • An even older MMORPG, EverQuest, suffered an even greater version of this during its first several years. The game had a total of three classes capable of acting as healer in a group: druids, clerics, and shamans. Clerics, however, got considerably stronger spells, and were the only class that had the Complete Healing spell, a heal that had a long (10 seconds) casting time, but restored anyone it hit to full health. Because of this, raid encounters were essentially impossible without having a cleric, as the game's developers actually designed encounters specifically around guilds having access to multiple clerics that could set up a rotation for Complete Healing using overlapping cast times (which came to be known as a "CH Rotation"). Likewise, for the longest time, the only way to tank raid bosses was to have a Warrior use their "Defensive" discipline, which reduces incoming melee damage by 33%. Again, due to developers specifically engineering raid encounters around this ability, warriors were required to tank raid bosses for much of the game. As a result, any serious raid basically required at least one warrior, and at least two or more clerics. Period.
  • In the last mission of Star Lancer, the only way to survive for in the presence of the enemy Ion cannon is hoping it never targets you when you're too close to get away (very unlikely) or use the cloak generator that only one fighter in the entire roster has. Not only is this never brought up in the mission briefing, but that one fighter is under-gunned for the grueling Escort Mission that starts about 30 minutes into the mission.
  • League of Legends (and perhaps any other Multiplayer Online Battle Arena), being a game based heavily around teamwork, practically requires this. A properly balanced team of one tank, one fighter/off-tank, one jungler, one ranged DPS and one support will usually demolish a team of people who just picked their favorite champions. Key word: usually.
  • Happens on a regular basis in Adventure Mode for Super Smash Bros. Brawl. You will always be forced to play as a select group of characters and only when you reached the Great Maze can you choose anyone that you want to play as, and even then you're only limited to Luigi, Bowser, Kirby, King Dedede, and Ness if you haven't bothered to collect the others' trophies, Sonic won't show up until the final boss, and Jigglypuff, Toon Link, and Wolf aren't available until the game is cleared.
  • Want to play through the Paper Mario series with your favorite partner? Too bad, you're going to need to switch out every 60 seconds to solve puzzles, sometimes even on the overworld (and warping via Warp Pipe doesn't bypass them).
    • With Super Paper Mario there may be 4 heroes, but Mario will likely be the one you'll use the vast majority of the time, given that his flip ability to go from 2D to 3D is required to solve the vast majority of the puzzles and find the most secrets in the game, with the other 3 having a handful they are specifically required for. This also true of the Pixls which aside from Tippi for puzzles and general exposition Thoreau will probably be your most used Pixi, as his ability to allow the player to pick up and throw things is much more useful for solving puzzles and fighting enemies than the rest of the Pixls, which you'll only use on rare occasions with a few only once or twice in the entire game, typically right after you find them.
    • Paper Mario: Sticker Star does away with the partners except for Kersti and a few Guest Star Party Members, but you're still going to need certain Stickers to beat almost every level, and bosses take way too long or in some cases are nigh-impossible without a certain sticker (which isn't pointed out to you until AFTER you lose, and even then very vaguely), so you can't fill up your album with your favorites. Color Splash ramps up the issue so you can't even win certain boss fights without non-Replica versions of their weakness.
  • The story modes for Dynasty Warriors 7 and 8 both restrict what characters you can use in story mode, with 7 picking the character for you and 8 giving you 2-4 playable officers to pick from. This is moderately alleviated by the fact that anyone can use any weapon style, but due to proficiencies and EX-attacks tailored to each character's weapon of choice, it's highly suggested by the game to use their default movesets.
  • If the player takes too much time selecting the character in A Nightmare on Elm Street (PC), Freddy will start capturing them, making the last one available the choice.
  • In 1001 Spikes, if you want to make any genuine progress towards finishing the game, you need to complete levels as Aban, the main character. He's the only one to get the items to unlock other characters, and The second half of the game is completely locked off to all other characters until he beats it first.
  • While the Fire Emblem can be sorted into Character Tiers, usually in the easier difficulties it's possible to utilize even the weakest characters if you give them plenty of experience and organize the other characters properly. But in the harder modes, that choice gets far more constrained. In particular, Fire Emblem Awakening's Harder Than Hard modes Lunatic and Lunatic+ are nicknamed 'Frederick Emblem' by the fandom, as no other character except Robinnote  even has a chance of getting through the early areas without him.
    • This is also very common due to map design. For instance, many maps essentially mandate the player have at least one character in the Pegasus Knight or Wyvern Rider classes, since they can fly, letting them bypass things like mountains and forests—for instance, if a village is about to be burned down by a brigand, often only the flier can reach it first. On the other end of the spectrum, desert chapters slow cavalier units to a crawl, meaning the player needs at least a few characters who can fight on foot (preferably mages, who ignore the sand penalty).
    • Commonly, the design of the final boss will strongly suggest the player kill them with a specific unit, typically the main Lord. If the boss isn't outright invincible to attacks from other units, then they'll still take very little damage from them. Medeus in Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon is a particularly nasty example; pretty much the only reliable way of killing him is with Tiki (or Tiki's replacement, Nagi), and even that will require an Aum Staff for her to deliver the final blow.
    • An interesting variant can occur in Fire Emblem Fates. Due to the way marriage candidates were set up, a male Corrin will deprive another man of a wife if he marries one of the first-gen girls, besides one of the four who are exclusive to him. In Conquest, Flora is the only one of these exclusive ladies available (without DLC), so players who want to get all of the second-gen units without having to marry one of them are forced to pick her.
  • In various mech piloting simulators, even if you had a large variety of units to choose from, you often end up piloting the game's Mighty Glacier or Lightning Bruiser by the end just to hold off the sheer number of enemies that are thrown at you. MechWarrior is notorious for this, in that most of those games start you in a Fragile Speedster light 'Mech, and by the end you're practically expected to take a full blown Assault 'Mech into battle, even if you style is more dogfighting than brawling. Sure, you could take your Commando to try and rescue the capital from a dozen heavy 'Mechs, but expect to reload your saved games a lot.
    • This makes it particularly shocking when MechWarrior 3 lets you salvage a 100-ton Annihilatornote , only to suddenly throw you into a punishing Timed Mission shortly after. You can make it to the target in time with that 'Mech if you refit it completely for more speed and rush past the gauntlet of enemy 'Mechs trying to stop you, but that requires prior knowledge of the AO's layout and opposing force composition, and it still leaves you surrounded by lots of angry war robots shooting at you. Or you can choose a lighter 'Mech, which alleviates the time issue but also leaves you surrounded by angry war robots shooting at you, only now you're even less capable of taking them on. Pick your poison.
  • The first Heavy Gear averted this by allowing the player to change up what Gear they piloted from mission to mission as requirements demanded. Some Gears would do better or worse than others in certain missions—good luck doing that scouting mission in a Mammoth—but all were viable as the player was allowed to choose at the start of each mission. The sequel was not nearly so forgiving—it gave players a choice of several 'Dark' Gears at the beginning, but locked them into that choice for the rest of the campaign. Choosing anything other than one of the three Jack-of-All-Stats was a recipe for trouble. The Dark Cheetah was fast and sneaky but couldn't carry much in the way of weaponry or armor and therefore ended up getting killed by tanks a lot, while the Dark Kodiak and Dark Cobra had ammo and armor for days and at least five different weapons each, but had only a snowball's chance in hell of completing the pursuit or space missions. This meant that you ultimately had to pick the Dark Warrior, Dark Jaguar, or Dark Mamba to stand a chance of completing the campaign mode without pulling your hair out at some point.
  • Donkey Kong 64 only has five characters, but you need to switch them out constantly. The game has thousands (that's not an exaggeration—there are 3,500 bananas across the levels) of collectibles to find, and 700 of them can only be claimed by a particular Kong; furthermore, you can only switch in certain locations, as opposed to whenever you want. The game gets downright nasty about it in the later worlds, deliberately leaving a few Kong-specific bananas or coins in areas designed for other characters (for example, in Creepy Castle, the player must hit a switch as Diddy, run back to a Tag Barrel, change to Tiny Kong, run inside a now-opened door, and use Tiny's teleportation move to reach an otherwise inaccessible area).
  • Super Mario 3D World plays with this. A few levels have character-specific switches that must be pressed in order to collect items, but in general, you can play as whoever you want throughout the game and not have any problems. Each character (except for Jack-of-All-Stats Mario) has a special ability (Peach can float, Luigi has high jumps, etc.) that makes certain levels easier, but again, it's well-balanced. However, if you want to collect everything in the game, you have to play through every single level five times, once with each character, including Rosalina.
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle requires you to have Mario and at least one Rabbid on your team of three. It wouldn't be "Mario + Rabbids" if that wasn't the case, after all.
  • Mind Zero forces you to use Leo and Sana in your party in Phase 6 due to the urgency of the plot event happening. Though due to not having Leaked Experience, you're forced to grind them up to par, or just quit playing.
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time:
    • In Frostbite Caves, one must select thawing plants or plants that can instantly destroy ice, otherwise all the player's plants can get easily frozen over by the icy wind or Hunter Zombie snowballs.
    • The Jester Zombie forces the player to ditch projectile plants and forces them to use penetrating plants and/or spikeweeds, the reason being that he can Catch and Return almost all projectiles and thus cause your plants to damage themselves instead.
    • MC Zom-B forces the player to use either long-ranged plants or spikeweeds/spikerocks, the reason being that he has an "Instant Death" Radius Spin Attack that can destroy most non-defensive plants instantly and even destroys nuts very quickly.
    • The Lost City has two zombies, the Excavator and Parasol zombies, who are immune to straight-shot attacks and lobbed attacks respectively. Either of them showing up will shave off your options on what plants you can use, but when both show up, you might as well use penetrating plants which bypass both forms of defense at once.
  • The Trope Codifier and possibly Trope Maker is Dungeons & Dragons. Nearly all official modules assume the party has access to at least one of each of the main character classes. If your party didn't have the character type who could do the thing to the thing (wield the special sword, cast the right spell, disarm the immensely complicated trap before it buried you all alive, etc), expect a much harder time in the dungeon. For further information, see any given module of Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder since the mid-1970s.
  • Kingdom of Loathing's level 12 quest has you start a war between the Frat Orcs and the Hippies, and then, ostensibly, join whichever side you like to wipe out the other one. However, the vast majority of runs join the Frat side and wipe out the Hippies, for three main reasons: the long Arena side-quest can be completed in its entirety the moment you start the war rather than having to clear out nearly half the troops before you can even begin, a Sequence Break that lets you save 8 turns by finishing the Nuns quest at the start of the war despite technically not having access to it, and being able to entirely skip the mostly-unoptimizable Dooks side-quest, as the Frats unlock it last where it is the least useful.
  • In the TaleSpin video game for the Sega Genesis, if a one-player game is played with Kit Cloudkicker, the flight stages are a lot more difficult. The computer controls the Sea Duck, which can sometimes cause it to bypass power-ups necessary to beat the stages, specifically, health power-ups that keep the Sea Duck from taking too much damage. To beat these stages with Kit, the best advice is to play a two-player game so that another player can control the Sea Duck. However, if a second player is unavailable, the best choice you have is to play a one-player game as Baloo. Thankfully, this problem was fixed in the Game Gear port.
  • Darkest Dungeon: While no hero is useless, there are a lot of bosses you shouldn't fight with specific people. For example, the Hag spends her entire boss fight in the rear two ranks, meaning that heroes like the Leper and Crusader (who don't have effective long-range attacks) are basically relegated to knocking over her pot every turn. Other forcing is in party comp: the Vestal won't team with the Abomination, so you need an Occultist, while the Shieldbreaker suffers from debilitating levels of stress if she gets dream-ambushed, meaning your choices are a Jester or an affliction check.
    • An update to the game now allows religious characters like the Vestal to team up with the Abomination, thus removing this restriction at least.
  • Not as gratuitous as other Role Playing Games, but some of the Full Moon Operations in Persona 3 prevent some party members from fighting the boss. Yukari is locked out of your party for the June full moon boss, Junpei is locked out of the September boss, and Shinjiro and Ken are locked out of the October boss. Most of these are plot-related, namely Junpei getting captured by Chidori the night of the September operation.
  • Fittingly, Haru in Persona 5 is practically required to both get through Okumura's Palace and actually beat Shadow Okumura himself: the Corporobos resist all but a select few elements, but Haru both excels in Psychic damage (which the most powerful green variants are weak to) and learns a move with a chance of confusing the entire enemy team (Corporobos are vulnerable to most status effects), meaning she can still do heavy Technical damage even if they resist her attacks. She's also the only team member besides Joker himself to learn additional Gun skills at that point in the game, which none of Okumura's Corporobos resist.
  • A cruel twist on this trope is one of many, many reasons why Mordheim: City of the Damned is so infamously Nintendo Hard. The story missions not only pit your warband against infinitely-spawning enemies that are not affected by morale losses, but are seemingly tailored to each warband's specific weaknesses. For example, take the Sisters of Sigmar (all-female spell-slinging melee fighters clad in mobility-limiting heavy armour) who in their first story mission face a load of super-strong melee units camping bottlenecks and snipers shooting them from balconies, and then an exhausting climb up a tower while being continually chased by units that have no such problem climbing up after your warrior-women.
  • Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion: "Girl Power Station" gives you the choice of using any of the game's primary weapons to defend an orb from several waves of Octolings. However, the mission becomes massively more difficult if you choose anything but the roller (which is capable of one-shotting the Octolings) or the Inkbrush (which allows for faster movement speed).
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate lets you customize your character with "spirits" representing video game characters who did not make it onto the roster. However, many fights in adventure mode have stage hazards that make the fight nearly unwinnable unless you equip a spirit that negates the hazard. The end result is that, rather than change the gameplay of the fight, hazards just serve as a spirit tax.
  • Creepily invoked in Deltarune, as part of the game's Deconstruction of But Thou Must!. The game opens with a character creation screen like most other RPGs. After the player spend the time naming and designing a "vessel" for themselves, the game congratulates them on their creation... then coldly informs them that said "vessel" will be discarded as "nobody chooses who they are in this world." The player is then placed in the shoes of Kris, a character who's name and appearance is fixed, for the remainder of the game.
  • Octopath Traveler:
    • While the characters can have their jobs replicated at a given shrine, most of those are in Lv. 17+ areas... except the Dancer job, which is tucked away amidst a throng of Lv. 30-ish monsters. So unless you want to go without the buffs and Dark damage the job brings to the table, you have no choice but to bring Primrose along until you can safely access that shrine.
    • Therion is the only character who can open the locked chests scattered around since this is his personal Talent, and not bestowed by the Thief class. As a result, if you want to get all of those treasures, you either need to keep him constantly in the party or take him back to previously-visited areas.
  • Undersea caves in ARK: Survival Evolved are filled with Cnidaria and Electrophorus, whose attacks will forcibly dismount players and stun-lock both players and creatures for easy kills. Because of the close quarters of the caves, they can't be avoided. The only way to complete those caves is by riding one of the only two creatures immune to stings and shocks, Basilosaurus and Tusoteuthis.
  • Aquanox 2: The Revelation has a tough late-game mission that forces you to pilot your piddly starting sub instead of the Infinity +1 Sword you just got in the prior mission. What makes it worse is that nothing prevents you from sortieing in your favorite sub, only to realize halfway through the mission that your sub is too large to fit through the tiny opening that is the only way to proceed. You do get a warning to choose a small sub during the mission briefing (and your starting vessel is the only one that fits the bill), but it's easy to miss if you don't pay close attention. To add insult to injury, the mission concludes in a Boss Battle that's much more difficult than it needs to be because of the crappy sub you're sitting in.
  • Blackguards: Most of the first chapter, you are accompanied by a fighter and a mage. Later on you gain an archer, but she's only a temporary guest member; the remaining two party members are also a fighter and a mage. Which means if you don't make your main character an archer, you're going to have an overly imbalanced team that will have practically no means of countering long-range attacks once the mages quickly run out of mana. Partially subverted, as the party's complex skill tree means all six characters can be customized to any physical fighting style to fill the gap, and only two of them are barred from using magic.
  • Super Mario Maker 2: Prior to being patched out, the four playable characters (Mario, Luigi, and both Toads) in the New Super Mario Bros style threw fireballs at slightly different heights depending on the character. Some observant creators noticed this, and made a contraption that would grant access to a different door depending on the height of their fireballs. As one could easily abuse this to make levels unwinnable for Mario, Luigi, or a Toad, Nintendo patched it out and gave all characters in the NSMB style the same fireball throw height.
  • In Deep Rock Galactic, the On-Site Refining missions are tremendously easier with a Driller on the team. The Driller's most important ability is that he can drill through pretty much any terrain in seconds. The On-Site Refining mission involves laying pipes from a refinery to Liquid Morkite spouts scattered throughout the map, and it is vastly easier to lay down these pipes with the Driller cutting through the intervening terrain. The mission can still be done without a Driller, but it is so much quicker and easier with one on the team.
  • In Dragon Quest III, you can customize your party to your heart's content, but in order to progress, you MUST recruit a Merchant at some point to fulfill the "Build a New City" quest and be rewarded with one of the six Orbs required to summon a Phoenix which will fly you to Baramos' castle.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles, you are effectively screwed if you don't control Shulk. There are several instances where your party has to fight Mechon. The only thing that can harm them is the Monado and Anti-Mechon/Machina weapons, which only appear about halfway through the game. It doesn't help the fact that 1.- Shulk has terrible AI, 2.- he has Monado Arts, which make him invaluable in breaking visions (not just for Mechon), 3.- out of the aforementioned Monado Arts, there is Monado Enchant, which allows the entire party to surpass the Mechon immunity and 4.- the only other way to damage Mechon is to Break them, then Topple them; which, surprise, surprise; means the most viable candidate for breaking is Shulk, since he has 2 Break arts, which just so happen to be the best Break arts in the game. Just use Shulk at the beginning, really.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, since the game puts a heavy emphasis on a party composition of Attacker-Tank-Healer, you'll probably want to keep Rex around for a while as: a) you don't get another Attacker party member until a ways into the game, b) playing as a small party cripples survivability, and c) Rex has the Aegis, a very powerful Blade, as his main weapon, and excluding him would drastically reduce your damage output early game, when you have few rare blades at your disposal. His importance only becomes greater when he becomes the Master Driver in Chapter 8, allowing him to use any of the party's Blades beyond his own, further increasing his versatility in a battle.
  • One of the most divisive rule changes to the Yu-Gi-Oh! Card Game was the set of rules that accompanied the introduction of Link Monsters. Anything coming from the Extra Deck now entered the Extra Monster Zone, of which there is only one per player. This put a heavy damper on most Decks of the time as the metagame was focused on summoning many Extra Deck monsters. However, if a player controlled Link monsters that point to their own Main Monster Zones, those Zones can then accommodate other monsters coming from the Extra Deck. Essentially, you had to dedicate parts of your Extra Deck to Link Monsters if you wanted to continue to play your old deck, and many players were not happy with the change. The rules were revised in April 2020 to reduce the need to run Links, and the change was met with much praise.


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