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"Arrrrr! But I don't need arms to beat you!"
Old King Coal, Banjo-Tooie

An enemy losing their primary equipment never seems to hinder the enemy, and can, in fact, act as a Berserk Button.

Subtrope of Shows Damage. Compare Heavily Armored Mook, the typical subject of this, Cognizant Limbs, where destroyed body parts live on as weapons for the enemy, Shed Armor, Gain Speed, where losing their equipment makes them faster, Disposable Vehicle Section, when a part of a vehicle can be detached to make the vehicle run faster, and Only a Flesh Wound, where damage to non-vital body parts doesn't seem to faze an enemy. Contrast Critical Existence Failure and Subsystem Damage.



  • Vega from the Street Fighter series can lose his mask after being hit enough times in the head. This makes him desperate to save his face, making his attacks stronger and faster. Inverted with his claw, which breaks off if he blocks too many hits: losing that will make most of his attacks less effective.
  • House of the Dead: Chariot, the first boss, has only a tiny point in his breastplate where it takes damage. Pump enough rounds into the nick and he flexes his muscles, literally exploding out of his armor. Then you effortlessly blast the flesh off his bones.
  • Banjo-Tooie:
    • Targitzan. He's a giant totem composed of a head and four rotating pieces. As you shoot at the (literal) targets, the boss's height decreases.
    • Old King Coal, a monster made of coal, loses body parts as you hurt him, first one arm, which he dismisses casually, then his other arm, which he's perturbed by, but otherwise unfazed, then the entire upper half of his body, whereupon he suddenly starts wondering if you'd like to sit down and talk about this.
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    • Mingy Jongo loses a piece of his disguise with each hit you land on him, revealing his "cyboticness".
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokemon with the Weak Armor ability become less resistant to damage but much faster with every hit they take, the implication being they're losing pieces of their heavy armor. Some can even do it themselves with moves such as Autotomize or Shell Smash.
    • Fairy-type Gym Leader Opal is a kind, sweet old lady who uses an umbrella as a cane. Despite her slowly hobbling around normally, turns out she can run surprisingly fast without it as well as no fear of injury.
  • The last boss of Disgaea 2 has a number of shields/masks on him that disappear once he takes a sufficient amount of damage and with them, his resistance to elemental attacks.
  • Distance offers a lot of traps, like sawblades and lasers, to run into. They can slice your car along all three axes, and you can keep on driving if you still have wheels.
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  • Donkey Kong 64 has King Kut-Out (a cardboard cut-out of the Big Bad, King K. Rool) loses first one arm, then the other, then his head, whereupon he dies. Given that the Kongs were firing themselves out of cannons at him, this is understandable.
  • The first boss of Dark Souls II, The Last Giant, literally rips off his arm to have a better long-distance weapon against the protagonist.
  • Mangoruby in Donkey Kong Country Returns. The electrified caterpillar's body will explode into parts as it's hit by Donkey and Diddy, but this makes it faster, a smaller target, thus making it harder to hit, and more vicious as a result.
  • In Kirby Super Star, many of the mechanical bosses Kirby must oppose have extra guns that can be blown away.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: One of the bosses in the Dark World requires you to remove globular masses from his body in order to damage him. Another boss has a mask that has to be chipped away with the hammer in order to harm it.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: The boss inside Lord Jabu-Jabu requires the player to kill the jellyfish serving as his armor. Also, Stalchildren lose their heads if you slash them with your sword in a certain way. Being skeletons, this does nothing to stop them from attacking you.
    • Iron Knuckles from both Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask drop off pieces of armor when you inflict a certain amount of damage to them. Better be on your toes when that happens, because it makes them much, much faster (to a lesser extent in Ocarina of Time, though).
    • Darknuts in both The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess become faster as they lose pieces of their armor. In the former, if Link manages to knock the sword out of their hand, they suddenly switch to a hand-to-hand combat style where they are actually more dangerous than when they had the sword. In the latter, once the armor is removed, they toss their massive weapon and draw a longsword, and become capable of doing combos.
    • The seventh boss in Twilight Princess is an armored dragon. Link must drag it down to the ground with the weight of his iron boots to crack the armor. After two incidents of this, the dragon will burst out of it.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Koloktos will lose its arms every time you pull them away with your whip.
  • Star Fox:
    • In the original and N64 versions, the first boss is an aircraft carrier of sorts that will lose pieces of its ship as you damage it.
    • The original does this quite a lot. Generally, at low health, bosses lose some of their parts and go berserk. The Dancing Insector loses its legs, the Rock Crusher loses the giant middle part, Plasma Hydra loses its arms and gets a tongue, the Spinning Core loses its cover, and a whole part of the Great Commander is destroyed.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Many of the Earth Elemental enemies will begin to lose actual body mass as you damage them. Often it does weaken them, though sometimes it simply leads to smaller copies of the elemental attacking you as well.
    • The final boss of the Tournament of Champions five-man dungeon, the Black Knight, goes through three incarnations as you battle him. First, he is an armored Death Knight, then after you beat him down, he comes back as a skeleton. Finally, he's a malevolent ghost. "My rotting flesh was just getting in the way."
    • One of the bosses in the Ulduar raid, Kologarn, has arms that can and should be destroyed by the players. Of course, losing your arms isn't exactly the end of the world when you have Eye Beams to scorch your foes with... and his limbs regenerate after a while anyway.
      Kologarn: Only a flesh wound!
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • One of the bosses in Yoshi's Island, Salvo the Slime, is made of some sort of gel-like substance. Yoshi must shrink him by damaging him and causing his gel-like mass to evaporate.
    • Bouldergeist in Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 loses gradually its rock-based skin as Mario lures Bomb Boos into it; when it's naked, Mario can lure another Bomb Boo for a Critical Hit, but after that, the boss will regenerate its body. It'll only be defeated after the strategy is repeated once again.
  • The Super Mario World ROM Hack VIP Mario 5 has the final boss, Julius, throwing a huge amount of attacks at you in his death throes after he loses his hands in one version of the game.
  • The Legend of Spyro:
    • The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning: The Ice King has three health bars. With each depleted health bar, he loses more and more of his armor, and then his skin, so that by the time you actually defeat him he's wearing nothing but torn rags and his limbs are reduced to exposed bone. Its recolors through the series, the Electric King, the Executioner, and the Elemental Spirits, work in the same manner, although in the case of the Electric King and elementals the loss of their armor exposes the raw elemental energy that makes up their bodies.
    • The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon has the Golem, which deliberately breaks off a body part to free itself from entrapment and later replaces it by assimilating nearby wreckage. Then its big brother the Destroyer gets about a third of its total body mass broken off in the course of the level where you fight it, including having its heart blown up, and keeps on going after the level ends, playing the trope very literally.
  • Clean Asia: The boss in China stage comes with four tentacles that spray bullets. Destroying them all makes the boss unleash an even bigger spray of bullets.
  • Dynamite Headdy has The Wooden Dresser, a giant wooden figure model that can't be damaged until you knock all of the clothes off of it first. A few seconds later, it will summon another costume. Then there's a semi-example in Baby Face, a giant mechanical Baby's Face that sheds faces for progressively older (and thinner, and tougher) ones as the battle goes on. If any of this sounds weird it's because it is.
  • The DS remake of Final Fantasy IV has the Octomammoth treat its first six tentacles this way.
  • Final Fantasy VII has Mighty Guards in the Shinra HQ. Mooks met early in the game, these are highly armoured and red. Once you beat them enough, the armour falls off, revealing a slender, greyish, and faster, but weaker, mook.
  • Every enemy in Final Fantasy Mystic Quest works like this. The mooks, the bosses, the final boss... Speaking of which, the Final Boss is the only one that changes attack patterns when you beat him up enough for him to change graphics.
  • Castlevania:
    • Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge features the Iron Doll. At first, it's a demon in a huge suit of amour that lumbers around slowly and swings its sword at you. After half his life is gone, he sheds his armour and gains a LOT of speed, leaping all over the place and shooting laser blasts from his sword.
    • Castlevania: Bloodlines has the Golem as the boss of Stage 2. You have to whip away at his segments, then whip his head which proceeds to blow up, revealing his core.
    • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has a grotesque example with the optional boss Beezelbub, a giant zombie who falls to pieces as he is fought, making it harder to reach the remaining body parts.
  • ''Crash Bandicoot':
    • Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back: N. Gin starts with two lasers in his mech's arms; you destroy those, and he reveals that his shoulders contain rockets; in turn, destroying those make him use a cannon he had built into the mech's chest; destroying that then blows his device up and defeats him.
    • Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped: The battle against N. Gin has Coco defeat the same five parts of her enemy's mech as Crash did in the second game. However, that's just the first phase of the fight, as N. Gin then goes into orbit, ejects some more parts, and enters a space station with even more weapons to destroy.
  • Several Sonic the Hedgehog bosses qualify for this:
    • Destroying all seven of the miniature Robotnik Balloons in the Metropolis Zone leaves Robotnik to reveal his craft also has a laser to attack you with.
    • Every hit to the final boss of Sonic the Hedgehog CD will cause him to lose one of his four spinning arms, also changing his attack pattern entirely.
    • The main boss of the Ice Cap Zone, starts with a platform that he raises up to goad you into attacking while he tries to freeze you. It gets broken off after six hits, leaving him to just float around spewing the freezing gas.
    • The second boss of act two of the Launch Base Zone will lose both his laser cannons leaving you to just try to hit him as he flies up and down.
    • The sub-boss of Lava Reef has two bullet firing tentacles that can be destroyed. It doesn't make any difference to the fight if you do or don't (save for making one less obstacle to avoid), as the boss ends once you've hit the giant hand six times either way.
    • The Final Boss of the Death Egg Zone in S3&K will start attacking you with just his giant fingers. Once you smash those off one by one, he reveals he's turned the Master Emerald into a powerful laser cannon.
    • The boss of Panic Puppet Zone will simply lower down to another floor if you destroy the two weapons on that floor until you've destroyed six separate weapons.
  • Every nonhuman enemy (except the final boss, who possesses instant regeneration) in Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria is subject to this. All major body parts have their own hidden HP count and are severed when it is depleted, allowing the party to end up fighting huge dragons with only a single limb left if they so desire. This also ties in with Random Drop, in that severed enemy parts have a set percentage of becoming items, but thankfully never dropping below a 15% chance (due to the difficulty of actually chopping off the right enemy part without killing the enemy outright, as you can't specifically target the body parts themselves, and exactly what you end up hitting is determined by what attacks you use and the enemy's position.)
  • God of War:
    • God of War: The giant armored Minotaur fought in the temple. You knock off pieces of its armor until the beast itself finally becomes vulnerable to damage.
    • God of War III:
      • During the battle with Hades, Kratos must rip whole chunks of flesh off his body. Then you have to "kill" the chunks before they slide across the floor and reattach themselves to Hades' body.
      • Herakles speeds up as he gets his armor knocked off. Herc paraphrases the trope name once his last piece of armor is gone: "ARMOR IS FOR WEAKLINGS!"
  • Gets done to a ridiculous extent in the Monster Hunter series. Almost every boss has "breakable" parts, which either scar or are removed outright from the body after enough damage is on a centralized area. It gets ridiculous when you break a monster's beak, back, claws, and sever its tail, yet it still continues to attack without showing an ounce of pain. There is also a monster, the Barroth, which can have part of its skull severed and it still fights at full force.
  • In God Eater Burst, loosely inspired by Monster Hunter, monsters have three breakable parts, but breaking them only grants you bonus materials at the end of the mission. For example, the Borg Camlann is a giant scorpion-styled enemy with a lance-like needle on its tail - break the needle, and about a third of its length busts off, but the Borg Camlann can still attack with it just fine and it has the same hitbox (which can result in it sometimes jamming nothing into the ground with a powerful attack and struggling to pull it out). A bit disconcerting in a game that has otherwise excellent mapping of hitboxes to models. Partially averted with the DLC boss Venus; breaking the gel sacs on her will either disable or shrink the hitboxes of attacks involving the parts that grow out of them.
    • Breaking parts does also affect their elemental properties and damage resistance. The Chi-You has its stats of Wake-Up Call Boss because it only has tiny weak spots unless the body is unbound, in which case its defense plummets.
  • Metal Gear:
  • Baten Kaitos has the Magnus Giganticus boss battle. Magnus Giganticus is a Gigantic Magnus produced when the fourth end magnus was unsealed. As you fight Magnus, its four corners are torn off one by one until you're fighting a jagged-edged rhombus with magical powers.
  • Bayonetta:
    • The game has the Cardinal Virtues, a quartet of huge bosses that you face throughout the game. As the fight progresses, you rip off parts of their body using Prehensile Hair, which at best makes them turn red. However, at the end of each fight, despite having at least 50% of their body gone, they give their last words as though they weren't in some sort of excruciating agony.
    • Applies to normal enemies as well, which undergo a pretty severe Glamor Failure when they're near death, as their muscle tendons become exposed and gooey liquids drip from what's left of their skin.
    • Angel-like enemies that seem much less majestic once you've hacked at them a little is yet another thing Bayonetta carried over from Devil May Cry - in the third game, Dante faced off against four-winged angels who would use two wings to fly and two to cover their bodies with an invulnerable shield, and only be hittable when they dashed. After a couple hits, though, wings fall off, revealing snarling demonic faces on their torsos.
  • Portal combines this with hilarious Boss Banter:
    GLaDOS: That thing you burned up isn't important to me; it's the fluid catalytic cracking unit. It makes shoes for orphans... Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
  • Portal 2 inverts this. You defeat the final boss by sticking different cores back on.
  • Plants vs. Zombies has zombies with armor you must destroy (or remove some other way, like with a magnet shroom) before being able to defeat them. And their arms fall off when they're really near death, finishing off with the fact that the heads fall off when they finally die.
  • The final boss of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood loses parts of his armor to each of Ezio's Quick Time Event hidden blade attacks.
  • Ace Combat: Joint Assault has Sulejmani's Varcolac. At first, it has a rear-facing point defence machine gun that destroys any missiles coming from the six. If you manage to damage it enough, though, it loses the PD gun and gains the ability to do ridiculous missile-dodging manoeuvres you could never replicate.
    • Another example occurs in Pixy's boss fight in Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War. His ADFX-02 Morgan comes equipped with a laser cannon and a burst missile launcher, both of which are destroyed over the course of the fight forcing both of you to switch over to Air Jousting.
  • The first boss of Conker's Bad Fur Day, Haybot, loses parts of its body as Conker and Franky continue pressing the red button behind its body. When Haybot is complete, it attacks by squashing the characters with both hands. When one of those hands is gone, it attacks by seizing them and then throwing them away. With both hands gone, it squashed again the characters, but with its own metallic base. With the rest of the body gone, the boss is simply defeated.
  • Metroid:
    • Metroid Prime: The rock creature Thardus from Phendrana Drifts is defeated by scanning its body for the current vital spot, and then blowing up that segment of its body in order to reveal its vulnerable core. After each turn, the weak spot moves to a new segment that has not been destroyed yet. Thaardus seems entirely unaffected by its missing parts, which makes sense given that the creature itself consists only of the core. The Omega Pirate is another giant beast with different armored segments on its body, though in this case destroying the armor and its weapons actually forces it to cloak and flee to regenerate, at which point it can be properly harmed and killed.
    • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes: Quadraxis, from Ing Hive. This is the reason why it's a Marathon Boss, as dismembering it part-by-part takes a very long time. It's only truly defeated when its head module is completely destroyed.
    • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption: The Metroid Hatcher has four tentacles that must be individually torn off. Once they are gone, the creature dies, but the loss of any individual tentacle does not hinder it. However, blasting its brain with the Nova Beam and X-Ray Visor combo will kill it instantly.
    • Metroid Dread: Partway through the final boss battle, Samus manages to shoot off one of Raven Beak's wings. Raven Beak just stares at his wing stump, then almost contemptuously grabs and rips off his remaining good wing, as if to rub it in that Samus hasn't hindered him at all.
  • Lar, the final boss of Chariot - Adventure through the sky (the Shoot 'em Up part of the arcade collection Three Wonders) loses its entire body when you hit him enough, leaving only his floating head/mask.
  • Happens with most bosses of certain shoot'em ups, for example Aero Fighters, Blazing Star, and Strikers 1945. When receiving damage, they'll start to lose parts and/or (mostly and) change into another form, almost always nastier in the case of the latter Transforming Mechas.
  • Halfway through the fight with Mendez in Resident Evil 4, he ditches his human legs and swings around the shack monkey-style.
  • Thug zombies in Dead Island will attack by headbutting you if you break or cut off both arms.
  • This happens to Drilldigger in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team after every hit, with bits of machinery and cogs flying off when it gets smashed into the background or just plain countered in general. Of course, this makes no real difference to how it looks or fights, so it makes you wonder where exactly those parts fell from anyway.
  • Your own zombie minions in Undead Knights, who can lose various body parts but still perform the exact same attacks - send a bunch to mob a guy, and your headless zombies will still act like they're biting and chewing on him just the same as your intact zombies.
  • Dwarf Fortress: Normally losing An Arm and a Leg will seriously hinder your average dwarf or other creature. Anything with a surplus of limbs, giant cave spiders in particular, will likely shrug such attacks off. And since combat AI more or less picks which body part to aim for at random, anything with an abundance of body parts to target will give your dwarves hell.
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo has this with the final, final version of Smith, when both his arms are gone he just gets even angrier.
  • Super Smash Bros. For 3DS/WiiU has this with True Final Boss Master Core. It has forms made of "swarm" (black stuff) which is shed as it takes hits, taking smaller and smaller forms until there's no swarm left.
  • Toukiden, like other games inspired by Monster Hunter, has giant bosses with breakable body parts. While cutting off a limb leaves the spot vulnerable, the creature will fight on with a ghostly outline that hits just as hard. It might stumble a bit after whiffing a charge, but that's about the only effect. Toukiden 2 expanded on the system. Parts can now be severed repeatedly, stunning the Oni for a time. And a new mechanic called Full Destruction can permanently destroy certain parts, reducing mobility or preventing certain attacks.
  • This is how the first three bosses (Fet Bubb, Lug, and Mechantids) are fought in Jet Force Gemini: All of their parts are loaded with weaponry, so the main characters have to mutilate them part by part to advance through the battle.
  • This is a signature strategy against Andross (and some additional bosses as well) in Star Fox. The former attacks with his hands primarily, but when they're ripped he attacks more aggressively with his face (which is the only part of his body that remains by that point).
  • In Toy Commander, during each boss battle with one of the generals, they lose a limb every time that limb takes enough damage. However, all of them have at least three unique weapons.
  • In FTL: Faster Than Light, the final boss does this twice. Beat its first form, and an entire wing of its ship (including one of the four main guns) will break off before it flees. Shortly after you'll fight it again, with new systems installed on the remaining wing that make it much deadlier... until you beat it again and that wing falls off too, with another of the main guns. It comes back for round three with even more new systems installed on the third of the ship you haven't blown up yet.
  • Mettaton EX in Undertale, being a robot, is relatively unfazed if (and we do mean if; it's entirely optional but reduces the maximum ratings you have to reach to end the fight... somehow) you shoot his core enough to make his arms and then his legs fall off. It has no effect on the attack patterns except to advance the stages where he exposes his core since he's fighting you using magic.
    Arms? Who needs arms with legs like these?
  • In Ninja Baseball Batman, Windy Plane, Mad Lax, Deffending Slot, and Mechanical Allegator gradually lose body parts as you damage them.
  • In BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm, Wolfram ALPHA keeps right on fighting as you destroy parts of its body. You have to take out all four limbs to reach its head, and even destroying the head may not kill it right away if the turrets on its shoulders are still functioning.
  • The Uber-Bot 888 in Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier starts with armor that is impervious to your normal attacks. You need to use the Eco Amplifier repeatedly to break off the armor, which allows you to damage the boss normally but also allows it to use new attacks.
  • Inverted in the Steven Universe fangame Flawed Crystals. Corrupted Amethyst has Cognizant Limbs, but destroying them does hinder her by weakening her counterattack, and this mechanic is in fact crucial to beating her.
  • The final boss of DOOM Eternal has two distinct phases, the first involving blowing off the monster's armor piece by piece, and the other phase involving doing the same to each of its body parts.
  • Partial example in Tales from My D&D Campaign. The "tank zombies" the party frequently encounters have a large bone plate encasing their left forearm, which gradually takes damage as it is used to block attacks. Deal enough damage and the plate shatters, causing the zombie to lose a large chunk of its Armor Class and its ability to intercept attacks aimed at allies, but gain an extra attack per round in exchange.
  • The second boss of the Macintosh game Kung Fu Chivalry explosively casts off his armor when he Turns Red, and the flying fragments can harm the player.
  • The Guardian Ape in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice takes this to its logical extreme. Wolf uses the sword lodged in its neck to decapitate the ape, only for it to stand back up, grab its head and sword, and come after you again.

Non - Video Game Examples:

  • There is a possibly apocryphal story where American chess player Frank Marshall was in the middle of a game, and another player walking by his board accidentally knocked one of his rooks off onto the floor. He apologized and moved to put it back, but Marshall said that it was fine, he "shan't need it anyway." He then went on to win the game without said rook.

Alternative Title(s): Hit Points As Body Armor, Destructible Armor