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Some video games have Unlockable Content — be it new characters, new gear, new levels, new play modes, or whatever else. Most of the time, unlocking the content is all you have to do. But every once in a while you'll run across a game that requires you to not only perform some feat to unlock the new item; you then have to perform a second feat (or pay some sort of in-game currency) to actually receive the item. The first unlock just informs you that the item exists (and usually what you need to do to get it), or otherwise makes the second lock available to you.

The pure version of this trope has one condition to reveal the prize and another to unlock it. There are a few reasons for a developer to do this, the most common being that the existence of the prize in question would spoil something in the game. Once that part of the game is completed, the prize can be safely revealed, but that doesn't mean the player has earned it yet. Another reason is that the initial unlock may serve as a sort of overhead cost, such as in the case where multiple items are revealed with the first unlock and then each must be unlocked separately with their double unlock.

There are other variations that have no reveal condition:

  1. A visible prize with a normal unlock condition, upon being unlocked, suddenly reveals another, previously unmentioned, unlock condition. The Monty Python page quote is an example of this variation.
  2. A prize actually has only one unlock condition — but achieving that condition requires you to unlock something else, and doing that requires something else, etc. It's a Chain of Deals with unlockables.
  3. The prize is put on sale after fulfilling a condition. Now you have the privilege of spending your in-game money (or worse, actual money) to unlock it.

See also: You Shouldn't Know This Already, New World Tease, Level-Locked Loot. Not to be confused with Two-Keyed Lock. In a worst case scenario, there is a Bonus Feature Failure at the end of the road. Excessive use of this trope can lead to Moving the Goalposts.


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     Video Game Examples  
  • In Advance Wars, Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising, and Advance Wars: Dual Strike, new maps,COs, and outfits must be unlocked by progressing through the Campaign mode, then purchased in the in-game shop with the points won for completing Campaign and War Room missions. In a similar fashion, unlocking new units in the Campaign requires finding a map in one mission, then beating another one (sometimes with a time limit). Days of Ruin does away with the store, and grants the player the ability to use certain COs in versus mode just by completing certain missions
  • Unlocking songs in Aikatsu! Photo on Stage!! beyond easy difficulty in live shows requires one to unlock the song in easy difficulty first by clearing the relevant story episodes. Then, score rank of A or above for said difficulty is needed to access the medium difficulty, which needs to be repeated on medium difficulty to unlock hard difficulty. Some songs even become triple lock because some of the story episodes require the character to be unlocked first. However, if the player gets score rank of A while in story mode live stages, the next difficulty level is unlocked straight away.
  • Animal Crossing:
    • Animal Crossing: New Leaf has public works projects. While a few are unlocked automatically when you gain the ability to build PWPs, most have to be unlocked separately, usually by waiting for a villager to suggest it, although a few have different unlock conditions (for example, you unlock the Fortune-Teller's Shop by visiting Katrina 20 times). Then you have to talk with Isabelle to start construction and raise Bells to actually build the thing.
    • Animal Crossing: New Horizons':
      • DIY Recipes work in much the same way. In order to craft an item, you first must find and read the recipe for that specific item. Then, you'll need to gather the necessary ingredients in order to actually craft it. Fortunately, DIY Recipes are much easier to come by in this game. Unfortunately, some DIY Recipes require other DIY items to craft - including the infamous Ironwood Kitchenette, whose recipe is found in the an early-game DIY recipe pack... but requires two other DIY items to craft.
      • Villager photos now combine this trope, Luck-Based Mission and Guide Dang It!. First, you must get your villager's friendship level to the 2nd highest level. Next, you have to give them a daily gift that has a sellback value of 750 Bells or more. Even then, every time you do this, there is only an approximately 9% chance of them giving you their photo if they have not already done so.
  • Ar Tonelico 2 has a triple unlock. In order to get an IPD Reyvateil to help amplify your song magic, you must 1: Track her down and defeat her (And the high level IPDs are stronger than most bosses). 2: Go to a dive center and treat her illness (Sometimes requires an item before you can attempt it, making it possibly a quadruple unlock if you don't have or can't easily get the item in question). 3: After curing her, perform a unique and fairly pointless subquest to make her like you. Once that is done, you can visit her in her home town and she will agree to help you.
  • Baldur's Gate II: Ribald's shop will sell you new expensive gear that will be available only once you return to it in chapter 6. Moreover, you are required to pay a small fee just to see the special inventory, regardless of wheter you buy anything at all.
    • Saemon Havarian will reward you with a silver sword. However, it is only the blade, you will have to reforge the whole weapon after you get the remaining hilt. You don't know where it is, but the occasion will pop up.
    • Haer'Dalis can be recruited by freeing him from Mekrath's imprisonment. However, after you complete this quest, he will be abducted into the planar prison and you will need to rescue him once again if you want him in your party.
    • You can't forge the powerful Crom Fayer without finding the Hammer of Thunderbolt, which is hidden in the secret mind flayer's lair inside Athkatla's sewers. You can't enter that lair without its specific key. You can't get the key unless you accept the totally unrelated Windspear's quest and find it on the body of a minor boss.
    • Most classes at some point are offered a stronghold which only requires to complete a specific major side quest, e.g. save the de'Arnise Keep from trolls for fighters, or clear the Planar Sphere for mages. However, the Druid Grove also requires your protagonist to be a level 13 character (which can also take a lot of time, given that druids have a slow progression until level 14) before you can unlock the stronghold.
      • The bard stronghold requires to complete two tied quests in succession before being offered: first rescue Haer'Dalis from Merkrath's (relatively quick), then rescue him again from the planar prison (the true mission).
  • Battlefield 3. The "Back to Karkand" and "Close Quarters" expansions each introduce 10 new unlockable weapons (eight split up for each of the four kits, two kit-independent). However, half of the weapons' relevant assignments are initially locked, and progress made towards unlocking any given one of them will only count once you've completed a specific earlier assignment (i.e. the assignment to unlock B2K's L85A2 requires you to unlock the FAMAS first).
  • Beat Hazard Ultra has perks that you first need to earn points to unlock. And then you have to buy them with collected cash and finally you have to select to use a limited number of them.
  • Though Microsoft's Beyond The Limit: Ultimate Climb is set in the American Southwest, you can unlock a room that purportedly leads to an Arctic world. However, there is no way to unlock that world within the game and the would-be expansion pack was never released.
  • The Binding of Isaac has random item generation, so even if you unlock generation of an item (A Rock has appeared in the basement!), there's no guarantee you'll get it in any given playthrough. The only exceptions to this are items that are starting equipment for a recently unlocked character (and with the exception of the D6, which becomes Isaac's starting equipment if unlocked, every character's starting equipment unlocks at the same time as the character) and an item which is required to enter the expansion pack's most final of final levels.
  • In BioShock's first proper mission, Dr. Steinman holds the key to Neptune's Bounty, but to clear the barrier blocking the entrance to his lab, you need the Telekinesis Plasmid, which is behind an ice wall that must be melted with the Incinerate! Plasmid.

  • Both Blinx games unlock the ultimate Sweeper in the shop after you collect all of the Cat Medals. You still have to buy them, and they're both very expensive — in the first game, the TS-X7 Supreme costs 90000G, three times as much as the second priciest item.

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops and its sequel have this for its multiplayer. You have to reach a certain level requirement to unlock a gun, or meet certain conditions to unlock a perk's Pro version. In both cases, you still need to spend COD Points (the former) or an unlock token (the latter) on the gun or perk to actually obtain it. This is somewhat balanced by actually making guns available earlier than they usually would be in earlier games, and whenever you buy any given weapon in the former, all of its attachments are immediately available for purchase.
  • Celeste:
    • Chapter 8 (The Core) is revealed on the map screen after you beat the game. To actually enter the level after watching the associated cutscene however, you need to have collected four Crystal Hearts, which you get by either beating the B-Side levels or finding them somewhere in the regular stages. To unlock the B-Side of Chapter 8 after finding the usual cassette tape within the level, you have to had collected every heart in the game up until that point. At which point, the C-Sides are revealed and access to Chapter 8's requires getting every other C-Side heart.
    • Chapter 9 (Farewell) can be started after beating Chapter 8. However, full completion requires getting 15 Crystal Hearts, as a barrier blocks off Madeline around the second part of the chapter. There's a very good reason for this, as Chapter 9 involves a lot of technical jumps that an inexperienced player would take a very long time to grasp. (As a bonus for speedrunners, it's possible to skip this barrier (but none of the other barriers in the game) with some advanced techniques, which essentially proves that the player is experienced enough to complete the chapter.)
  • Chocobo GP starts off by unlocking characters through the story mode. About halfway in, though, the unlocks instead get added to the in-game store, where the player redeems item tickets for various characters, vehicles and cosmetics.
  • Cookie Clicker has special upgrades available in the Christmas season, unlocked by increasing Santa Claus' level. Each Santa upgrade costs cookies, which then unlocks one of the Christmas upgrades, which you then need to pay more cookies to buy.
  • Crash Team Racing:
    • 100% Completion in Adventure Mode requires all 18 relics, which merely requires a solid time trial time in all 18 races. In an extended example of variant #2, one of the races is only unlocked by getting all 5 gems. Gems can be earned in cup races, which themselves are locked until you get 4 CTR tokens for each. Four of the five CTR token colors require the player to collect 3 letters placed around the track and winning the race, the purple tokens need you to collect crystals from a course within the allotted time. Also, you need two out of four keys to even access the room with the portals to the cup races and the first race cannot be unlocked until after you have three keys. All for that last eighteenth relic.
    • N. Tropy is unlocked by beating his Time Trial ghosts across all of the tracks, but the ghosts aren't immediately available to race against. You must first beat a certain time on your own, which unlocks the ghost, and then you enable and beat the ghost through a second run on the track. This cycle repeats for N. Oxide ghosts (and in the remake, Emperor Velo ghosts and finally Beenox developer ghosts), so you'll ultimately have to manage three/five successful runs in order to fully conquer a single track.
  • Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex has inverted the locks. The only condition to get Golden Ending is to claim all Gems. However, to get to 10 of them, you have to unlock levels by collecting relics. Of course, once you do, you have to actually claim those gems from the levels.
  • In the Facebook game Crazy Planets, some of the medals involved having all the robots in a level be frozen at once. However, the only weapon that freezes robots is the Ice Rocket, which is a weapon you must build. And to build it, you have to collect the necessary gems and metals. At least the other weapon-specific challenges involved the two you start the game with (Bazooka and Grenade).
  • Crimson Gem Saga requires you to unlock the ability to see what skill you want to get, then pay to get the skill using the same points you just used. To make matters worse, the points come in very small amounts from defeating enemies.
  • In Crypt Of The Necrodancer, there are shops in the lobby, and most of the items being sold in them are bought to allow those very same items to appear in the dungeon. The shops themselves also have to be unlocked by finding and rescuing the shopkeepers in the dungeon. Fortunately, unlike most modern Roguelikes, when you unlock an item in this one, it's generally guaranteed to spawn the next time you play the game. Unfortunately, it's generally in a chest in a hidden room you might not spot.
  • Progress in Crystal Towers 2 is this almost exclusively. To use a level's teleport ring you need to physically reach it, which often requires a spell from another level, then meet the threefold entry requirements of a number of orbs, gems and keys, the latter being quite well-hidden.
    • Access to later levels requires the use of multiple spells granted by items which you build yourself. You must first find the hidden recipe, then collect the ingredients (some of which will need to be crafted themselves - or you could gather other collectibles to improve the rate at which they drop from foes), then finally use the synthesis machine in the middle of the castle. Then, assuming you can find the level, you must meet the aforementioned orb, gem and key requirements.
    • Several of the more obvious levels can't be reached until you've sacrificed copious amounts of your precious synthesis ingredients to open a path.

  • In Cytus II, the DLC characters need to be levelled up just like the base characters in order to unlock all their songs after you purchase them. One of ConneR's songs is also unlocked through an event connected to Xenon's story, which means you need to buy both of their chapters to unlock this song.
  • DanceDanceRevolution:
    • Extreme 2 has a triple unlock: You have to unlock the fact that a bonus exists, then the right to buy it, and then actually purchase it. Super NOVA and Super NOVA 2 have double unlocks at minimum: to attain certain songs, you have to complete other songs in "Master Mode" with challenges that range from pointlessly simple (such as "get a D-rank on this easy song") to insanely hard ("beat this really hard song with all the notes switched around, flowing in reverse, shaped like bumble bees, and accelerating as they approach the hit zone") — or you can just play the standard game for a long time to gain the unlocks instead. But that only unlocks the appearance of the song in the shop. You then have to buy the songs with in-game credits. And unfortunately, gaining credits is done by making a high rank on a song, which means the best way to gain credits is to replay songs you can Full Combo until you're utterly sick of them.
    • In DDR A, in order to unlock an Extra Savior song from the New Generation folder, you must unlock and play the songs from either Beatmania IIDX, Jubeat or Sound Voltex before unlocking them in Extra Savior (Angelic Jelly is unlocked). Too bad, you can't unlock the songs in the North American version of the game despite you have the save data in those games mentioned.
    • This unlock method is common in other BEMANI games, but one song was notable (read: infamous) for this: the True Final Boss Rock to Infinity, from the GuitarFreaks/DrumMania game of the same name. To summarize as best as possible: you had to clear the previous optional bosses from each one of the past entries (GFDM V to V4, and one of the songsnote  had only Extreme charts!) with 95% of all of the possible Perfects to gain a Medal, then you had to clear the regular Premium Encore Stagenote , with 96-98% of the possible Perfects, depending on which was played on Guitar Freaks or Drum Mania, respectively to gain its Medal. And when you have all of the five medals, you had to clear the Premium Encore Stage again as an Extra Stage (another 97-98% of Perfects required!), which would access Rock to Infinity only as the Infinity Stage. And only if you cleared the song (no easy feat) in Infinity Stage you would (finally) unlock the song for regular play.
  • In Dead Cells, you have to first find the blueprint for the item, then spend Cells to unlock said item. On the plus side, you receive a colorless version of the weapon you've unlocked.
  • In Deep Rock Galactic you have to complete an assignment to unlock a new weapon, then you need to actually purchase it. Additionally, to "promote" one of your dwarves (which resets the level, without losing anything, but adds a star to your avatar), you need to do an assignment and then pay a substantial amount to clear the various "debt" you have accrued while living in DRG's space station, including but not limited to your bar tab.
  • In most of the Disgaea games, you start with only a few available character classes, and have to meet certain conditions to unlock new ones. Then, upon meeting the requirements for a given class, you must then pass a bill via the Dark Assembly before you can actually create any characters of that class. However, as of Disgaea D2, the second step is no longer necessary.
  • In DJMAX Portable 2, you can unlock different user interfaces, characters, and note skins...which you must purchase with gold earned from playing songs. Some of these items require you to pay many, many songs' worth of gold. DJMAX Fever, based off of Portable 2's engine, alleviates this somewhat by making them much cheaper. Alternatively, if you're extremely patient, you can get the unlockables through playcount...except, you need at least 2,000 song plays to start getting the unlocks.
  • In DJMAX Trilogy, this unlock system applies to songs as well. And not just that, in order to unlock them in Free Play mode, you must, after purchasing them, play them in Stage mode.
  • In DLC Quest, the "DLC," which, in this game, includes not only cosmetic upgrades, but also things you need to move onward, and even some basic features, must not only be bought with in-game currency, but often must be found (often by going up to something that you can't get past without it).
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns:
    • Beating the final boss reveals the game's secret world. In the original Wii version, it only has one level, but in the Nintendo 3DS version, it has nine levels (with the new ones being examples of All the Worlds Are a Stage, as they're thematically based on the regular worlds). Regardless, if you want to play it, you need to get the eight orbs from the Nintendo Hard hidden temple levels. Which themselves require that you get all the KONG letters in the other levels. This also applies for Tropical Freeze with the extra world Secret Seclusion.
    • In order to unlock the hidden dioramas, it's not enough to get all of the puzzle pieces in the aforementioned temples: The bosses must be defeated as well. This also applies for Tropical Freeze.
    • The same applies to the gallery images of Tiki Tong Tower and Tiki Tong himself, which require both collecting the puzzle pieces in levels 8-6 and 8-7 and defeating the final boss to prevent spoilers.
  • In Dragon's Crown, you can eventually unlock the option of changing the Narrator's voice to that of any of the six playable classes. How do you do this? By clearing the game on Normal once with that character to reveal his/her voice pack in Lucain's shop, then paying 1 million gold each to actually unlock them. Unless you're prepared to forego more important purchases like equipment appraisals and potions in an attempt to save up for them, the only time you'll get to hear these different voices is when you've already done nearly everything in the game... or by purchasing the unlock key from the Playstation Store. To be fair, said unlock key was offered for free during the game's first few weeks of release, and its regular price from then on is pretty low.
  • Dragon Quest IX: There are twelve vocations, each giving a total of 200 skill points at level 99. However, there are twenty-six 100-point skill categories, meaning that to have all skills maxed out you need to get a character to level 99 in a vocation and revocate it, dropping him back to level 1 so you can start grinding again. At least revocating has the effect of improving the random treasure map drops and can be done 10 times.
  • The first Drawn to Life loves this. When you get an item in a stage, it says you unlocked it, only for it to appear in the shop. And unlike many games, there's no really quick way to earn a lot of coins, meaning it's quite an annoying task. Also, one of the items that's found in stages is the animation bubble, which lets your character do a little Easter Egg pose when purchased. Except you have to find THREE of them in different levels before one appears in the shop for about quadruple the price of most other items.
  • Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Reborn uses chained unlocks for the majority of mobile suits. They start off restricted to their canonical pilot note  and become available for all pilots after being used 3-10 times. However, each pilot must first be unlocked by completing specific missions (sometimes with optional objectives) and most missions are only unlocked by playing other missions. The most convoluted unlock requirements involve obtaining a pilot by clearing a mission with a specific mobile suit when that suit's canon pilot cannot be selected due to story reasons. So that means you need to unlock one suit to do a mission to obtain a pilot to unlock the suit you're after.
  • Excitetruck and Excitebots have a lot of this. The designs for some of the bots are a double unlock hidden behind a triple unlock. First, you need to 1) finish the regular difficulty to reveal the shadows of the bots, then 2) earn enough lifetime stars to reveal the bots in full, then 3) have enough stars on you to purchase the bot. Secondly, you need to 1) play 15 races with the unlocked bot to reveal the special design for it, and 2) get 25 S-grade finishes, which don't start counting until you reveal the design.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout 3 had this for the craftable weapons: first you need the Schematics, the number of sets you have determining the weapon's starting condition or amount you can craft at once, then you have to scavenge for the required parts to assemble at a workbench. FNV ditched this in favor of most crafting recipes being unlocked by skill level, although a few still require you to find the recipe "blueprint" or earn it via perks.
    • In Fallout: New Vegas:
      • The Vault 34 armory has a quadruple unlock. First, you have to retrieve the security terminal passwords from the flooded rooms, then access the first terminal to drain the water so you can access the Security Station, where you use the second terminal to unlock the Overseer's quarters, where only then can you unlock the armory. There's a fifth unlock if you're fetching the Pulse Gun for Veronica's companion quest, which requires either a key from Nellis Air Force Base or maxed-out Lockpick skill. Similarly, to reach the lower levels of Vault 22, if you don't have a high enough Repair skill to fix the elevator, you have to use the Overseer's terminal to unlock the Quarters, which contain the keycard for the caves between the Food Production and Pest Control floors.
      • In Dead Money, the password for the Switching Station's Remote Maintenance Terminal, if you don't have a high enough Science skill, is in a locker that you need to find a key for if your Lockpick skill isn't sufficient. The Casino Vault at the end is a triple unlock; first you have to download the three ambient music tracks in the Restaurant, Suites, and Casino, then combine the musics at the lobby terminal, then finally, have Christine say Vera's password at the elevator microphone, or if you killed her, play Vera's audition holotape.
      • Also in Dead Money, to purchase higher level items at the Matter Replicator vending machines, notably medical items and weapon upgrades, you first have to find the proper holotapes hidden around the Villa, which can be Guide Dang It!, and are also Permanently Missable Content since you can't return to the Villa after leaving at the end of the storyline.
    • In Fallout 4, obtaining the unique Gauss Rifle named The Last Minute is a four step process. Step 1: help the Minutemen clear The Castle of Mirelurks, including a Mirelurk Queen. Step 2: Listen to the Minutemen radio station and do radiant quests for them until you receive "Old Guns". Step 3: Complete "Old Guns" to unlock The Castle's armory. Step 4: Save up a few thousand caps to buy the weapon from Ronnie Shaw in the armory.
    • The crafting system in Fallout 76 requires you to learn the plans for weapons, armor, buildable items, and so forth by either finding the relevant plans or scrapping items to learn mods for them. For the more complex items, you also need a perk card relating to the items in question to actually be able to make them.
  • In Fe, learning new abilities requires you to first collect the required number of pink crystals, then return to the Elder Tree in the Hub Level to be taught the ability via a tutorial sequence.
  • FE000000: To unlock an Eternity Challenge, you have to reach a number of some resource (stars, boosts, prestige power, etc.) and then spend a few unspent theorems.
  • F-Zero GX also requires purchasing things in a shop after you have 'unlocked' them. Unlike other examples, currency is absurdly easy to come by. Especially if you are fortunate enough to live near an arcade with F-Zero AX—take your memory card to the machine and play a few rounds. Guaranteed currency for finishing a race.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy XII's License Grid system. To equip a new item or learn a new ability, you must buy the item/ability from the store with Gil, then purchase the relevant License on the character's personal License Grid with LP. In another level of Double Unlock, potential Licenses are not revealed until you purchase the adjacent Licenses on the grid.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics A2:
      • The game has your characters learn skills from your equipment. To get the better quality equipment, you turn in loot at the bazaar, which gives you the ability to buy that particular piece of equipment. For the most beneficial equipment, turning in a set of loot only lets you buy that item once; when you want more than one of said item, you have to turn in another loot-set.
      • Most of the advanced job classes also fall under this trope. To be able to use a different job, you need to master abilities from another job that is required. To get the more advanced jobs like Master Monk and Assassin, you have to complete missions related to these jobs so that you can unlock the said jobs, and then you start mastering abilities from other jobs as normal in order to gain access to the job. This was done to prevent players from entering a Game-Breaker territory by getting advanced jobs way too soon, something that Final Fantasy Tactics Advance had problems with.
      • The Assassin job itself is a double unlock. To be able to become an Assassin, you have to master abilities from the Sniper and Elementalist jobs and those two jobs also require abilities from other classes. Some players prefer to wait until they can hire a Viera into the clan and hope the new recruit is an Assassin by default.
    • Final Fantasy Record Keeper confuses many a player with sub-par reading comprehension when it comes to Record Materia. RMs are acquired by breaking level caps. The first comes automatically when breaking the cap once, but when doing it again a similar window appears informing them the next RM is available but the player must use the character in battle until it randomly drops. Then there are scenarios in which to unlock a character's Record Materia you must first get that character to level 65 and then either use the character in battle on the realm that character originates from or complete a very specific challenge. Most skip over the bit about having to get the drop and bombard the official site with complaints that they can't find the RM in the inventory.
    • Everything in Dissidia Final Fantasy and its sequel is this. You beat the Story Mode? You just unlocked the ability to purchase new game modes, music, items, etcetera. Then, purchasing enough things will give you an Achievement, giving you yet another item.
  • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn has an Old Save Bonus that allows you to read again the Support Conversations you unlocked on Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, the previous game (A good thing, since unlike the previous two games, Path Of Radiance lacked a support reviewer). However, in order to unlock the option you need to beat Radiant Dawn first.
  • Forget Me Not: My Organic Garden: To unlock and therefore reveal the existence of "First Class Goods", the quest to deliver 10 Excellent Kidneys, Organa must first possess 10 Excellent Kidneys.
  • In For the King, each unlockable item has a condition that must be fulfilled before it appears in the Lore Store, where Lore must be spent to have it show up in the game. About half the item conditions are related to milestones in the main story quest (some items appear in the Lore Store when you attempt the quest for the first time, more the first time you beat the Disc-One Final Dungeon, and so on); others are related to milestones of other kinds, either numerical (tributing a statue or dedicating a sactum enough times will cause a better kind of statue or sanctum to appear) or qualitative (such as an item of sailor clothing that appears after the first time you sink a boat); still others are related to specific encounters (for instance, the Frost Adventure quest includes a specific random encounter that involves rescuing a trapped monk, who declares that he's going to become an adventurer too, after which the Lore Store begins offering the Monk as a playable character class).
  • Game & Watch Gallery: Each game has a museum featuring demo versions of Game & Watch titles. The only game where you can actually play them is 4. The more stars you collect, the more titles you can access. Once every exhibit has been opened, you can play them by earning even more stars in the order they were accessed.
  • A Triple Unlock in Game Dev Tycoon. In order to even be able to research a game aspect, you first need to reach a certain level with one or two other aspects (by making games with them, of course). Then, after you spend money and research points to research the aspect, you have to include it in a brand-new game engine, which can take a while to develop depending on the number of aspects included and may cost a few million for a high-end engine. Only then can you utilize that aspect in your next game.
  • Godzilla Unleashed:
    • Of the twenty-six playable monsters in the game, sixteen of them have at least two stages to acquiring them (the most basic version of this is to purchase their faction from the shop with in-game points earned through completing missions, and then to purchase a particular monster from the shop with even more points), and some of them needing three or more. Eight monsters in particular (Baragon, Biollante, Krystalak, Mecha-King Ghidorah, Megaguirus, Obsidius, SpaceGodzilla, Titanosaurus and Varan) require a certain stage of the regular story mode to be cleared with a particular faction each while meeting a certain requirement within the level, which unlocks a new stage where the monster has to be defeated before it's added to the shop and can then be purchased and made a playable character.
    • The "Mothership" level has a similar requirement, as it requires in-story actions (shooting down the Mothership in a particular level and selecting it as the next stage choice) to be made available for purchase.
    • The fourth monster faction, "Mutants", must be unlocked by completing Story Mode and then purchasing it from the shop.
  • Guild Wars 2:
    • The game started this with Season 2 of its Living World content. Each new chapter is added to a player's account either by logging in while it is current content or by purchasing after the fact at the in-game story. To access the chapter itself, players must first complete any preceding chapters in the Season first.
    • The Heart of Thorns expansion regions can only be accessed after completing several chapters from Season 2.
  • In Growing Up, in order to unlock a new skill, you first have to have enough of a certain stat, which is increased by collecting resources from the Brain Map, and then you have to buy the skill with Knowledge Points. You can reduce the cost of the skill by further increasing your stat that's associated with it.
  • The Armory in Halo: Reach reveals new armour permutations for your Noble Six at every rank milestone, but you can't actually use them unless you reach a higher rank and have enough credits to buy it.
  • In Hello Kitty Roller Rescue, you unlock items for free, but aside from outfits you must buy them once they're made available.
  • The Master Skins in Heroes of the Storm not only require a hero at level 10, it also requires 10k in-game coins to unlock it.
  • As is tradition for the series, Inazuma Eleven GO has a large of cast, most of which can be recruited as Optional Party Members, with some having various prerequisites such as having recruited another character firstnote  or having reached a certain point in the story. But unlike previous games, some of the Post-End Game Content characters in GO have some ridiculously byzantine requirements, such as items that can only be gotten from random drops or through local multiplayer, and characters which require up to three other characters to all be recruited first, each of which can require up to three more characters, and so on. To get Aphrodi, for example, you must traverse a ternary tree of depth 4 with 26 other characters. And also unlike previous installments, there's no Connection Map to chart all this out for you (and in previous installments, the Connection Map requirements were Boolean ORs instead of ANDs note ).
  • Infinity Blade has a number of examples. You have to defeat the God-King to unlock the titular Infinity +1 Sword, but you still need to gather the necessary gold to buy it from the store, too. It's not THAT expensive, though. On the other hand, there's a full set of Infinity Plus One Gear that is unlocked by defeating the Superboss and entering New Game Plus - it's the best gear in the game, but it's LUDICOUSLY expensive, and all beating the Superboss does is make it appear in your store to taunt you with its enormous price. And then there's the 'Black Edition' of that same gear, which is arguably even more powerful, though geared heavily towards a Glass Cannon setup - to unlock that, you have to enter Negative Bloodline mode, which automatically equips you with the gear but prevents you from changing any of it as long as you're in Negative Bloodline. Then reach Bloodline -10 to get an achievement, and return to the 'normal' bloodline by starting over from Bloodline 1. The uber-powerful Black Gear disappears from your inventory as soon as you return to normal play, but now you have the option of buying it from the store! For an even higher price than the ordinary Infinity Plus One Gear!
    • ...needless to say, the game allows you to buy gold with real money. One might argue that all that gear exists solely to tempt you into shelling out a few bucks for a big enough pile of gold to actually use them, since it'd take EPIC amounts of grinding to get otherwise.

  • You can unlock various bonuses (both cosmetic and useful) in Jak II: Renegade by collecting Precursor Orbs. However, some of these rewards (the most useful ones, naturally) don't unlock until after you beat the game, even if you have the orbs. These rewards aren't marked in any way either, so if you make a point of collecting every orb you can on your first playthough, you'll eventually stop getting new stuff and won't know why.
  • Unlocking bonus characters in Jet Set Radio Future is an extreme example. First, you'd need to find a cassette with a list of challenges on it. Then you'd need to complete all of those challenges, causing graffiti souls to appear. Collecting all of the graffiti souls would unlock a series of time trials, and after finishing all of those with a high enough score you would finally unlock a new character. If you wanted all the characters, you would have to do this for every stage.
  • Everything available through the black market in Just Cause 2 - first you have to cause enough chaos to unlock something, and then you have to spend in-game money to have it delivered to you. This makes most DLC weapons Awesome, but Impractical at best, as, being DLC, nobody else uses them, and therefore if you run out of the tiny amount of ammo you're given for them (no upgrading these things, they're already at max level), you have to buy it again.
  • In Kid Icarus: Uprising, one type of challenge reward is a straight example of this trope: when you see "Weapon Unlocked: [Weapon Name]" it means that it's now possible to get said weapon via Item Crafting or a Random Drop, but the unlock itself won't give you the weapon. The exception is the Zodiac Chambers, which give you both the weapon and the ability to make more.
  • Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days has two examples; first, if you get one of the components for something you can synthesize, the recipe will appear in the menu and you can tell what you still need to get (often, something that won't be offered as either a mission reward or enemy drop for quite some time). Second, the Moogle shopkeeper will withhold items and synthesis recipes until the plot dictates that Saix inform you that you've been promoted.
  • Kingdom of Loathing's trophy system works this way. To acquire a trophy, first you have to earn it. The method to earn a trophy is almost never explained anywhere in-game, to give the playerbase something to search for. Then, once you've figured out the obscure conditions (or more likely, someone else has and you looked them up on the wiki) and fulfilled them, you have to buy it from the Trophy Hut for 10,000 Meat. Oh, but don't think that just because you've met the conditions once means you can buy the trophy whenever you like; some trophy unlocks expire at the end of the day, or the end of the ascension, or even the moment you stop fulfilling the conditions. One April Fools' Day joke parodied this with a trophy that was earned by having less than 10,000 Meat on-hand, making it impossible to buy.
  • Kirby's Epic Yarn turns this into a Chain of Deals:
    • Dom Woole wants to build new apartment expansions but needs a hefty amount of beads, which you get by completing stages. The expansions create rooms that need to be decorated with certain pieces to attract tenants. To get the pieces you have to progress the plot to access the stages that contain the pieces you then need to find. Once the tenants arrive you play their minigame stages to get new fabric textures, but unlocking new minigame stages requires completing the previous minigame stages as well as being able to access the main game stages that the minigame stages take place in. Naturally, all the fabric textures are part of earning 100% Completion.
    • In a much simpler example, some of the furniture pieces available for purchase only appear once you get far enough into the game, helpfully announced by the shopkeeper.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda has a bow you get from a dungeon, but you need to buy the arrow from a shop as well before it's usable. Even then, it costs rupees to fire arrows.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has the infamous Triforce Fetch Quest, in which you first have to find the eight Triforce Charts scattered about the Great Sea and islands via the Incredible Chart obtained after rescuing Aryll, then have Tingle decipher them, THEN go to the spot in the sea that the chart specifies and fish up the shards, which are assembled to unlock the final dungeon. The Wii U version simplified this by replacing five of the triforce charts with the actual shards themselves, saving several steps.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: The ultimate armor is available at the Hyrule shop for more money than you can ever hold. In order to buy it, you need to fund Malo's shop to the tune of several thousand Rupees, at which point he buys out the shop, leaving the armor for sale. But it's still very expensive, and works on Rupees (so if no money remains after the purchase, it still won't be ready for use).
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Upgrading the Goddess Sword to the Goddess White Sword gives you spaces for four more Dowsing targets (and nothing else; that's the only benefit of the Goddess White Sword). These spaces start out empty and are useless; you need to talk to certain NPCs to fill them in (and the game gives you no indication of who these NPCs are or even what the new Dowsing targets are before you get them).
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has four Great Fairy Fountains, which can be used to upgrade your armor. In order to open the fountains, you must first give rupees to the Great Fairies within them, which get progressively more expensive. The more fountains you open, the more the Great Fairies can upgrade your armor. On top of this, you'll need all kinds of materials in order to actually pay for the upgrades.
    • Hyrule Warriors goes a little overboard with this trope. As a reward for clearing certain Adventure Mode missions, you may earn a Sealed Weapon. This means that the weapon in question has been added into the weapon drop pool and you can now potentially obtain it: while you do get said weapon upon unlocking it, it has no stars which increase its strength or skills, meaning that any additional copies of the weapon you'll get will practically be guaranteed to be better than the initial weapon. Some weapons may have sealed skills, which require a multiple of 1,000 KOs before the skill can take effect and it can be transferred or removed. To unlock the Master Sword's full potential, its seal needs to be broken. To break the seal, you first need to obtain every single weapon and all levels of them. Then you have to grind 25,000 KOs before the seal breaks and its power increases to 450, only beaten by the Master Sword's 500.
  • The Lego adaption game series is built on this trope. You have to first find the item (extra characters or cheats or whatever) you want to unlock during the different stages or areas, then you have to pay for them with the Lego studs you've been collecting. You will almost always have many more things waiting to be bought than you have studs to pay for them. Thankfully, the developers made it possible to unlock the Studs X2 perk right at the beginning of every game either by entering a code or some clever abuse of custom or code-unlockable characters.
  • Slayer Deeds in The Lord of the Rings Online work this way. You can earn small but significant stat bonuses, called "virtues," by grinding through lots and lots of mobs in the game's various regions. The first deed lets you know which mobs you have to kill in a particular region; (orcs/goblins/trolls/etc) the second deed shows you what virtue you'll actually get and just how many mobs you have to kill.
  • Marvel: Avengers Alliance:
    • The game has Premium Missions (one per chapter) which are unlocked by recruiting a certain hero. These missions are also the sixth and last of the chapter and are not playable until the player had played each of the previous five missions at least once.
    • Recruiting Squirrel Girl requires doing a series of ten tasks, one of which requires finding fifteen of an item that Randomly Drops from enemies, one of which requires researching an item that takes eight hours to finish, and two of which require recruiting and training other expensive characters. Once all ten tasks are complete, you win... the ability to buy Squirrel Girl (and she's one of the game's most expensive characters). In addition to all of this, there's a time limit, after which the tasks will disappear and you won't be able to get her at all.
  • The research upgrades in Mass Effect 2. You have to find the tech in the game, then you can use your raw resources to research it on the Normandy. It was a big Scrappy Mechanic, and didn't return in Mass Effect 3.
  • Mega Man X8 has the playable Navigators, who play as female counterparts to the Maverick Hunters. To unlock them, however, requires maxing out the Maverick Hunters' stats and abilities, beat the game to earn one of the Navigator's weapon — the first one depends on who you used the most during your playthough, and the pay for the weapon itself to unlock them. To unlock the other two in your New Game+, you have to use them as Mission Control multiple times until their weapon becomes available in the R&D Lab. Also, you have to do this on at Normal as Easy mode axes any New Game+ goodies you could have unlocked on a higher difficulty (but at least you can take all of your Metals into your next round on Normal).
  • Weapons and items in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker requires the player to first find the confidential documents to develop them and the MSF's tech level (plus medical, intel and/or catering level depending on the item) to be sufficiently high along with sufficient GMP. Some equipment has other requirements, such as technical staff with certain abilities (e.g. Optical Technology to develop weapons with laser sights).
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor: You gain Ranks by killing Captains, Power (your Rank exp) directly proportional to the Level of the Captain and whatever the hell he was doing at the time, which allow you to use your skill points to unlock better abilities. Also, some abilities have to be unlocked through main quests.
  • The Milestone Tree: Almost all upgrades are unlocked once you reach certain milestones, but some have a cost of infinity points. To actually make them buyable, you have to be in a certain challenge or complete a challenge enough times and then earn enough points to actually afford them.
  • In Mini Robot Wars, in order to get upgrades for your Minirobots, you first need to beat the level that gets you the upgrade, then buy the upgrade with metal in the lab.
  • In Monday Night Combat, you earn Pro Tags by accomplishing various actions during gameplay, but you still have to buy them to make the usable. Pro tags have no actual purpose beyond selecting one to appear next to your name. Once you buy the custom classes (which, technically, you could buy one of and just re-customize each time you want to change classes, taking probably less than an hour to get), money has no purpose other than to buy pro tags.
  • A cross-medium example: one of Mortal Kombat 3's Kombat Kodes simply displays "Hold Flippers During Casino Run" on the screen. Most people would probably be confused as to what "Casino Run" is, but pinball fans may know that the text actually means "hold both flippers during the 'Casino Run' Wizard Mode in Jack*Bot to receive game hints".
  • In the My Little Pony mobile game, unlocking a pony from completing the minigames (usually the mine cart minigame) means that pony can now be purchased from the store.
  • The 2017 rerelease of Night Trap offers a Theater mode for beating the game once. If you immediately select it, however, you'll see that all of the options are grayed out. That's because you have to play the game again, and any scenes you witness even in passing will be unlocked in the Theater, including any that lead to game overs in normal play.
  • PAYDAY: The Heist has the most insane double unlock there is thanks to the Teasing Creator giving extremely vague hints. There is a secret hidden somewhere in the game and its clues can only be found in the DLC level Counterfeit. You have to do the following:
    1. Have all players stand in very specific spots in the map to hear static and then decode the static to see its image.
    2. Use various props and other items strewn in the map to see how the clues can come together (some clues are just a Red Herring).
    3. Find out that the clues lead to another level, which is First World Bank.
    4. Play First World Bank with everyone using the golden masks, which in order to acquire, you have to have beaten all the original heists on the highest difficulty level (Overkill 145+).
    5. Stand in very specific spots in the bank to reveal a switch.
    6. Press the switch to reveal a hidden door and use the drill on it, to which you must wait 2 hours for the drill to finish.
    7. Enter the secret room and press some specific tiles on the floor. Pressing the wrong ones releases gas that kills you. Do it correctly and you open the vault revealing a stash of gold bars and some masks. You're not exactly done just yet! In order to qualify for the prize that Overkill teased, you had to send them a video recording of your team's successful attempt to open the vault. Oh, and players only got 30 days to attempt this challenge for the prize.
  • PAYDAY 2 also uses this trope:
    • Unlocking weapons requires reaching a specific reputation level to gain access to them, then spending money to actually purchase them. This becomes averted once you go infamous, as weapons purchased remain in your possession, with only the restriction to reputation level remaining. Other items like different types of body armor and deployables also avert this, as while you may need to level up to unlock them or get the cash and skill points to do so, there's no second step to that.
    • Several items can only be accessed by first unlocking the achievement that adds the items to your inventory and then buying the DLC that actually lets you use those items. The achievement tells you what those items are, but not which DLC you need.
    • The game also does this in one of its DLCs, in that nearly half of the items from this DLC are only accessible if you have Hotline Miami in your library. Granted, this is a triple unlock, in that you need to buy both PAYDAY 2 and Hotline Miami along with the DLC that unlocks these items.
    • Remember that convoluted sequence of unlocks above from the original game? With the release of First World Bank for PAYDAY 2, this has now come to the sequel too. With all of the requirements. The game even adds another tier to the unlock; instead of Golden Masks, you need the Death Wish Masks for all of your crew. The Death Wish Masks, unlike the Golden Masks, requires you to have beaten all levels in the game, not just the original heists. Yes, this includes DLC heists. While in theory you can do it without ever buying a single DLC (via having someone else host a game that has the DLC), good luck trying to find someone with the patience to babysit your ass through all of it (unless they're in the same boat as you).note 
  • Perfect World has rank equipment. Completing certain quests (as well as handing in certain items) earns your character Reputation, and reaching certain milestones earns you the right to get advanced equipment. Each "rank" comes with a ring, for which you need to trade in your previous rank ring. At certain ranks you also have the ability to purchase other equipment from an NPC for in-game coin. Originally, ranks went up to 8 with Rank 8 providing access to a full set of gear. Unlocking that required 200 thousand reputation (obtainable per 1, 2 or 3 points from special repeatable quests as well as in larger amounts from certain items and unique quests), which took a lot of effort to acquire. Then there was still the price tag of around 1 million of in-game currency per piece. The ranks before that were relatively tame in both reputation requirements as well as item price. After a few updates, Rank 9 was introduced. Getting that required another 100 thousand reputation, and, on top of that, in-game coins wouldn't do anymore. Each piece requires several medals which at the time of the introduction were given to the master of a random guild that held land on the Territory Wars map (Guild versus Guild mass-PvP event). In other words, extremely rare item. "Luckily", the medals were later made available in the game's Gold Shop, at a price of 25 gold for one or 100 for a pack of five. The price of gold is $1 per gold or (currently) around 3-4 million in-game currency. These also occasionally go on sale. There is another item that's required along the medals that can be obtained in multiple ways, but the player market price tends to be around 10-20 million a piece. And then there are recasts (upgrades).... Needless to say, the RRR 9 (fully upgraded rank 9) equipment is the most powerful in the game, surpassed by nothing.
  • Variant 2 is parodied in South Park: The Stick of Truth. To bust Craig out of detention, you need the gold key. The gold key is in a locked room that requires a silver key. No points for guessing that the room with the silver key is locked, necessitating a brass key which can be obtained in the hallway. Throughout this, Mr. Mackey comments on how this elaborate system will prevent Craig from getting freed.

  • Pixels filling squares 3.0 has all the tier-4 and tier-5 skills. Firstly, you need to complete the associated challenge level in order to unlock them. Then, you need to use 4-5 Skill Points to buy them. There's also another catch: You can only buy a skill if you've bought an "adjacent" one on the same tier or an adjacent tier, making it a triple unlock at times.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon X and Y creates a trading related Double Unlock with Mega Houndoom and Mega Manectric. Houndour can only be caught in X, and Electrike can only be caught in Y, but their respective Mega Stones can only be found in the version they're not native to. This also applies for the Aggronite, Tyranitarite, Aggron and Tyranitar. Larvitar and Aggronite are in Y, Aron and Tyranitarite in X.
    • Pokémon GO has tons of cosmetics locked behind a paywall that you have to spend real money to get. You also have to achieve certain milestones in the game just to get the ability to buy said cosmetics with your real life cash. The ability to level up past 40 also has double unlocks in the form of the usual EXP grinding and a set of very lengthy tasks to complete like winning 20 battles in PVP.

  • Pump It Up: NX2 and NX Absolute has this if the player uses a USB stick to save their profile. Through the game's mission mode, you unlock various remixes and extra charts. This merely makes them show up in the song select screen; once you actually try to play the songs, you find that you must pay milage (the game's equivalent of experience) to be able to play the charts.
  • Ratchet & Clank:
    • Buying the upgraded forms of your weapons. First you need to enter Challenge Mode to even have the option of seeing the upgraded form. Then you have to get the weapon you want to upgrade to the max level in order to gain access to the upgraded form. Then you need to have enough money to actually buy the upgraded form. Ratchet & Clank (2016) adds another step to this: Now you also need to collect the 3 cards in the set for each weapon to reveal the Omega form of each weapon.
    • Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus requires a triple unlock to get the RYNO VII, the strongest weapon in the game. First, you have to find all 9 blueprints for said weapon. Then, in order to actually build the weapon, you have to open a vault, which requires 6 keys. However, one of the keys is in possession of the Smuggler, who will exchange it for all 100 of the Gargathon Horns on Planet Thram.

  • Red Dead Redemption does this with multiplayer unlocks. After maxing out to level 50 you are given the option to "Pass into legend" which will give you a star on your profile but also revert you back to level 1 and all unlockables will be lost. However you will gain unlockables, mainly new skins and mounts that were previously unavailable. You can do this four more times, each time with regular unlockables being unlocked at earlier and earlier levels. There are some unlockables that require you to reach level 50 five times.
  • If you want equipment and runes in Rogue Legacy, you first need to find the blueprint or rune in the castle. Then, on the next life, you have to buy it. The equipment can fall into a Triple Unlock, as you might need to upgrade your weight load score in order to be able to wield it.

  • Resident Evil:
    • Resident Evil: Outbreak has the typical Concept Art Gallery, bonus modes and Secret Characters to purchase with points earned from playing the scenarios.
    • In Resident Evil 0, accessing the train engine is a triple unlock. First, you have to find a gold ring and a silver ring, the latter of which requires the Hookshot from the rear car of the train to reach. Then you use said rings to unlock the conductor's briefcase, which in turn contains the keycard needed to unlock the engine car.
    • Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil 5, and Resident Evil 6 all have unlockable special weapons/figures that first have to be unlocked through either progressing through the game or getting the secret collectibles that then have to be bought with an inordinate amount of money/skill points. In the case of RE6 the secret unlockable skills are master skills for each weapon class unlocked through killing a certain amount of enemies with it before having to be bought and infinite ammo for completing the campaign.
    • Resident Evil 5 uses all three methods for one upgrade. To get infinite ammo for most weapons you have to finish the campaign, shoot the required amount of BSAA emblems and fully upgrade one of the weapon (which will require you to first find the weapon, then purchase all the upgrades for it) in order to reveal the final step: Purchase the ability for infinite ammo from the main menu with skill points.

  • Rhythm Heaven:
    • The guitar lessons are unlocked by beating a guitar mini-game. However, each song requires a number of medals to actually play, and at the point the mode is unlocked, you probably won't have enough medals for even one song.
    • Battle of the Bands is unlocked for finishing the game. It consists of two modes, both of which require an A rank on all the guitar lessons for that mode, which, as mentioned, takes medals... a lot of them.
  • To acquire a Skillcape in RuneScape, one must have level 99 at the corresponding skill, as well as 99k coins to purchase it.
    • Many, many quests have a large list of prerequisites to begin them. These often include several other quests that may have their own exhaustive list of prerequisites (which can include even further quests).
  • Upgrades in Saints Row: The Third not only require a metric ton of cash to purchase, but also require you to be at a certain Respect level to even have the option. Managing to find and kill Professor Genki can help with that, but only so much.
  • Sensory Overload's thirteenth floor has a triple unlock; finding the vent control switch to access an otherwise blocked vent, using said vent to access the temperature control so you don't get burned in the heat ducts, and finding the black passcard for the door at the end of the level.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • The second Digital Devil Saga game of the Shin Megami Tensei series uses this for its skill system. On the hexagon-shaped skill-screen, you have to purchase an available skill pack, then master it to unlock the skills around it. Then, you have to buy those and master them if you want to learn them, which in turn unlocks more skills to buy and master.
    • In many games, defeating certain bosses grants you the privileges to fuse them. You still need to find the component demons.
    • Many special fusions require demons / Personas that in turn need to be fused from some other combination of demons. This trope especially comes into play if a demon that requires a special fusion has component demons that require other special fusions. For example, Messiah in Persona 3, on the surface, only needs two Personas: Thanatos and Orpheus. Orpheus is your starter Persona, but Thanatos requires a 6-way special fusion, and one of the components for that fusion, Alice, requires a 4-way special fusion, and one of the components for that requires an item from one of Elizabeth's requests. As if that isn't enough, you need to max out the Death and Judgment Social Links to be able to fuse Thanatos and Messiah, though mercifully both Social Links automatically rank up and max out as you progress the plot.
    • Orpheus Telos and Izanagi-no-Okami. At face value the fact that Orpheus Telos uses six Personae isn't too bad, even if two of them are the aforementioned Thanatos and Messiah, but it also requires Asura (Another six way fusion) and Metatron (A four way fusion) as well as completing every Social Link in the hardest of the games to do that in. In total making Orpheus Telos requires Alice, Asura, Chi You, Gabriel, Ghoul, Helel, Horus, Jatayu, Lilim, Loa, Metatron, Mot, Narcissus, Nata Taishi, Orpheus, Pale Rider, Pixie, Quetzalcoatl, Raphael, Samael, Suparna, Thanatos, Uriel, Vishnu, and Yatagarasu. Izanagi-no-Okami, on the other hand, just flat out needs twelve Personae to make, with one of them requiring a triple fusion.
  • Sid & Al's Incredible Toons has an unusually literal example. Five of the "Really, Really Hard" puzzles and five of the "Looney Bin" puzzles are doubly padlocked. You can only access these after you beat all 90 other puzzles in the game, 15 of which have to be unlocked first, and then Enter Solution Here.
  • The WWE SmackDown / SmackDown vs. Raw series has a bit of this. The run of games from 2006 to 2008 required achieving things to unlock (most) of the legends, after which they could be purchased in the game's shop. Most egregious, though, is the fourth game, Shut Your Mouth - in it, in order to play as Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, or X-Pac in the story mode you had to first get through about a year's worth of playtime until their role popped up, then win at certain shows and choose to unlock each of them when given a set of choices. The problem being they were unlocked from the start for exhibition play anyway.
  • The Dreamcast port of SNK vs. Capcom had quite a few double unlocks. Most egregious: To unlock the secret characters Nakoruru and Morrigan, you had to first buy all of the extra colors of the characters from the respective companies. This allowed you to buy Nakoruru's (for SNK) and Morrigan's (for Capcom) "shadows", which meant that you could fight them in the middle of a tournament if your scores were high enough. Only after defeating both of them in the aforementioned manner and after buying the EX versions of their respective companies' characters could you buy them and unlock them for play. Playing as the game's True Final Boss, Akuma, required a repeat of the process — buying Morrigan and Nakoruru, unlocking Akuma's shadow, getting to Akuma and winning against him in the final fight, and finally buying him. For those without the Neo-Geo Pocket and a copy of SNK vs. Capcom: Match of the Millennium, these requirements were onerous and grinding indeed.
  • Solatorobo allows you to listen to any music you've heard and any cutscenes you've viewed... if you purchase them. Cutscenes can be purchased with in-game money (usually for 300-500 rings, which is quite cheap), but music must purchased using notes, which can only be found by climbing off your Mini-Mecha and collecting them from a phonograph or the oddly-musical hornweed plant.
  • Soul Series:
    • Soul Calibur IV has this. Upon getting so many achievements/Honors, a you'll unlock the ability to purchase more equipment for Character Creation. Likewise, clearing a character's story mode unlocks the ability to buy their Ultimate and Joke weapon.
    • Soul Calibur III does this with its weapons and certain gallery items, requiring you to beat someone using the weapon in Tales of Souls or completing the same mode as a character to make the respective items available in the shops. IV also inherited the part about unlockable character design pieces from here. III is kind enough to give you new characters and stages upfront when you beat them once, however.
  • This is how certain weapons in Splatoon must be unlocked. After completing certain missions in Octo Valley, the player will be rewarded with a set of weapon blueprints. These must be taken to Sheldon, the Arms Dealer and weapons manufacturer in Inkopolis Plaza, who will be able to produce the weapon. However, not only will you still need to purchase the weapon before you can use it in battle, but you'll also have to meet the level requirement. The Hero Weapon replicas add an extra step to the mix, as their blueprints are found in missions that can only be accessed with the proper amiibo.
  • The Hero Weapon replicas in Splatoon 2 have a similar unlock method, although they thankfully don't require amiibo to unlock. Though maybe that was a blessing in disguise. Instead of collecting blueprints, Sheldon asks you to complete every mission in the single-player campaign with a given weapon in order to unlock its replica. Once the replica has been unlocked, it's subject to the same requirements as above before you can actually use it.
  • Stellaris: Ascension perk points are unlocked by completing a Tradition tree. Past the first tier, there are three notable types of multi-unlocks.
    • Past the first tier of perks, several perks will only be available if the player has met other requirements, such as researching a certain technology.
    • The three Ascension Paths require researching a technology which makes the related starting perk available. At this point each has its own unique extra unlocking steps.
      • Psionic Ascension requires the empire complete an additional Tradition and use a second perk slot to purchase the final perk. At this point the empire bonus is automatically applied.
      • Bio Ascension requires the empire research an additional technology before unlocking and purchasing the final perk. This then unlocks the special traits for the player to manually apply to their empire.
      • Synthetic Ascension requires two additional technologies before the final perk can be purchased. This then unlocks the option to research a very long project which actually completes the Ascension.
    • Mega-Engineering Projects have a multiple unlock process. The basic Mega-Engineering technology must first be researched, which unlocks the ability to research the actual Projects. Then if the player wants access to the more powerful tier of Galactic Wonders, they must unlock the associated Ascension perk, which also requires the Mega-Engineering technology, which in turn unlocks the ability to research the Wonders.
  • In order to access the alternate costumes in Street Fighter V, you first need to unlock the ability to buy them through story mode scenarios. These will then be available for purchase from the store.
  • Subnautica has several layers of multi-unlocks.
    • Scanning a technology fragment tells you what the technology is and what it does, but that alone doesn't actually let you build the thing. You have to scan one or two (or, in rare cases, three) additional fragments to complete the blueprint.note 
    • One you have the blueprint for a given piece of technology, you have to go to the appropriate fabricator/station/tool and spend the required raw materials to actually construct it.
    • The fabricators are themselves pieces of technology that have to be unlocked and constructed before they can be used. So, in the worst case scenario, you have to go through all the above to get the right fabricator, then do it all again to get whatever it was that you actually wanted. (Fortunately, you can aquire the blueprints in any order.)
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • New Super Mario Bros. Wii: Beating the game unlocks World 9. But only the world, if you actually want to *gasp* play its levels, you need to get all the Star Coins in every world (Each world unlocks one level). The same method also applies to New Super Mario Bros. U.
    • Super Mario Galaxy 2: In order to unlock the very last mission in the game, you must both get the normal star in Grandmaster Galaxy, get the Comet Medal in it, and deposit 9999 Star Bits in the bank located in the Faceship.
    • Super Mario 3D World: To unlock World Crown (the last bonus world), it's not enough to complete its preceding world (World Flower); you also have to collect all the Green Stars and stamps and touch the top of the flagpole in every level.
    • Mario Party 4: In Story Mode, in order to claim one of the birthday gifts, it won't be enough to win a board and become its Party Star; the winner also has to defeat the board's host in a minigame to earn the gift.
    • Mario Party 7 has the King of the River mode. Basically, you just play mini-games, one after another, against computers, until you've made it through. Just spent your hard-earned points on it? Hopefully you've played all the mini-games that appear in it, because letting you play a mini-game here before playing it elsewhere would just be asking for too much.
    • In Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, weapons "found" in exploration phases appear in the shop. This doesn't apply to Museum items, which are available as soon as they're found.
  • Sword of the Stars has a randomized tech tree, so you can miss certain techs. However, if you defeat ships using a tech or have a friend who has it, you can start a special project to get the tech. As you can probably tell by reading the rest of this page, a special project only gives you the ability to research the tech, not the tech itself. The sequel made all high-level techs require a "feasibility study," which would allow you to research the tech if successful. You can bypass this if you manage to salvage the tech; presumably, the reasoning is that you managed to pick up a working sample to reverse-engineer as opposed to starting from theory.
  • In They Are Billions, Workshops are used to research technology and unlock higher-tier buildings and units. The story campaign complicates matters by adding a tech tree which locks everything except the most basic buildings and unit behind an additional unlock. Some buildings and units are even on a triple unlock, as they are included as individual items on the tech tree which must also be purchased after buying the related workshop.
  • In Tokimeki Memorial Drama Series Vol. 3 : Tabidachi no Uta, if you happen to have Data saves with cleared games of the first two games in the Drama Series, Nijiiro no Seishun and Irodori no Love Song, and thus want to see the unlockable special Bonus Scenarios linked to them available in Tabidachi, you need first to complete either of Shiori or Miharu's routes with a Good Ending, as it's the condition to unlock Tabidachi's Omake section, where the Bonus Scenarios lie.
  • Tomba!:
    • The game's most basic mechanic is a unique "Mission" system. Performing certain actions in the game triggers an exclamation point to appear above Tomba's head and the mission's title appearing on the screen. The mission is then recorded in the Quest subscreen—with no indication of how to actually complete the mission. Some missions are so obscure as to be ridiculous, while others can be triggered very early in the game but can't be completed until hours later (a classic example: "Peach Flower Gas," which involves catching a Koma Pig under a cloud of gas from a certain flower in the first screen you explore, turning it into a Baby Pig... which can be given to a random NPC in Bacchus Village, the fifth area you explore).
    • There's also the method of catching the game's Quirky Miniboss Squad, the Evil Pigs. First, you have to find the Evil Pig Bags which are hidden somewhere in each of the areas they've enchanted—the initial one is given to you as a quest item, but all the others must be found by searching every inch of the cursed realm. Once each Bag is in your inventory, it causes its corresponding Evil Pig Gate to appear somewhere in the world, with no indication of where it is (the Red and Blue Fortune Tellers can help you by offering clues, but they themselves are locked—you have to earned a certain number of Adventure Points to have them speak to you—and even then, the clues run the gamut from obvious to extremely obscure). Once you've finally discovered the Gate, you can then enter it and face off against the Pigs themselves in a proper boss battle.
    • The biggest offender goes to the infamous Flower Tower, which is sealed behind five locks. You have to restore Charity Fountain to normal to make the Tower appear, which is an incredibly involved process. First, you must defeat the Purple Bogunsee monsters in the Mushroom Forest to receive an item known as "Rise and Shine Powder." Then you have to find the one flower in the Forest that has not bloomed yet and use the Powder on it; doing that will make the flower blossom and start to cry. You need a special jar to collect the Flower's tears—but that Jar is guarded by the Yellow Bogunsee, which only appear once you defeat the Blue Evil Pig and break the curse on the 100 Flower Forest (which you can't do until you reach the final area of the game, the Underground Maze). Once you finally have the jar of Flower Tears, you can use them to revive Charity Fountain and make the Flower Tower appear again—but even then, you can only enter the Tower if you have an absurdly high amount of Adventure Points.
    • "The Five Golden Items." The 10,000-Year-Old Man is willing to trade his Psychic Fish for these items, each of which can only be obtained by completing a complicated mission:
      • The Golden Candy requires you to track down items from all over the map; most are in unremarkable treasure chests, while others are themselves rewards for completing missions.
      • The Golden Fruit is given to you by an NPC in Bacchus Village in exchange for giving him lots of Cheese. This is a particular offender because the mission that requires you to give him the Cheese—"Some Cheese, Please"—is completed by finding ten pieces...but he gives you the Golden Fruit for fifteen pieces, so you'll have no idea that you can even continue to give him the items!
      • The Golden Flower can only be obtained by planting Flower Seeds (which themselves only appear after completing another totally unrelated mission) and then completing even more missions, with no indication as to when it will grow.
      • The Golden Leaf Butterfly appears by collecting 29 regular Leaf Butterflies, which appear in both the 100 Flower Forest and the Maskari Jungle (the latter is an area reached very late in the game).
      • And finally, the Gold Medal can only be found by completing a tricky racing mini-game (which requires several missions to even unlock) at the highest level.
      • You can receive an in-game clue as to the location of these items by restoring the Tree of Knowledge to health...which itself requires you to hunt down every single Pump Rock (an accordion-like structure) in the game and then stand on them until they change color.
  • The Tree of Life: The Humans layer is filled with these in both Upgrades and Milestones. Several milestones and the later upgrades have partial effects that only take effect after the player reaches certain amounts of Plants, Thoughts, or Humans, essentially making them sub-milestones.
  • Warframe: To craft some weapons or Warframes, you need a certain Mastery Level, which requires you to level up other weapons or Warframes first. And for some of those, you first need to craft components before you can craft the item proper.
  • White Knight Chronicles and its sequel stack many interlocking locks on you. Equipment, including the much-hyped Arc Knight, is restricted by level, guild rank, binding rank, available Dhalia, and available materials. Yet the game has no qualms about dangling its unattainable goodies in front of you and going, "You'll never get this! You'll never get this! LA LA LA LA LA!"
  • World of Warcraft:
    • The game often has faction rewards tied to one's reputation with the faction, and which must then be purchased with coins or certain tokens. This was the case for Valor Point gear in Mists of Pandaria, although it became easier to purchase over time.
    • The double unlock system in Mists of Pandaria (where gear was gated behind both reputation and valor point requirements) became a Scrappy Mechanic, since the only way to raise reputation was doing daily quests, forcing players to run lots and lots of daily quests just to unlock the ability to buy raid-level gear with a currency mostly awarded from dungeons and raids. It was phased out in patch 5.3 and didn't return in Warlords of Draenor. It was originally a triple unlock, you had to get rep with the Golden Lotus to allow you to even start gaining rep with the one you wanted, then you had to spend the valor points.
    • A minor case with flying mounts in Warlords of Draenor and Legion. Initially, flying mounts were not going to be included at all in Warlords, but Blizzard backed off that position after intense player response. The capability to use flying mounts in Draenor was added in a patch...but unlike previous implementations of flight, it was not a mere Cash Gate. Instead, the player had to complete an achievement (that itself was composed of a series of other achievements) that proved the player had gone through a large portion of the expansion's content without using a flying mount (up to and including content from the latest patch); only then would they earn the ability to fly. Once it was achieved on one character, however, the capability was unlocked for all characters on the same account. Legion used the same system.
    • Allied Races can only be accessed after buying the Battle for Azeroth expansions. Even then players must reach Exalted with the related reputation and complete an associated questing achievement to unlock each race. And for an added layer of unlocking, their custom racial armors can only be unlocked by creating a new character and leveling it to the max level.
  • Yakuza flirts with this in some games.
    • In Yakuza 0, the outer portions of each character's skill tree is locked and cannot be unlocked without progressing through that characters respective money-making minigame (Real Estate Royale for Kiryu, Cabaret Club Czar for Majima). Once the blocks have been removed, then you can buy the unlocks.
    • Yakuza Kiwami 2 has some double and even some triple unlocks. One example is the Komaki Tiger Drop. First, you have to clear the part of the storey where Kiryu fights an actual tiger, which unlocks the ability to remember how to do the move from the Accupuncurist, and then you spend the Exp in order to unlock the move.
  • In Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair, there are various Tonics that can be found throughout the overworld. However, you will then need to spend Quills on any Tonics you've found in order to actually use them.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links, you unlock duelists as opponents by reaching certain stages, while you must meet other requirements in the next stage and beyond to unlock them as playable characters. Certain other characters have secret unlock requirements... to duel against them. (For example, Crow Hogan from 5Ds requires you to get a Duel Assessment of 5000 or better against a Sector Security opponent.) Only after that can you complete their unlock missions (though, thankfully, unlike "unlock by stage" opponents, their unlock missions are immediately available).
  • The Famicom port of Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished ~ Omen has a cluster of unlocks to enter the Abandoned Mine. First you need to use the teleportation statues in the overworld to find Frea the water guardian, then fetch the Staff of Sarana so she can power it up, then use it to move a tree out of the way. Then there's one more kicker; the inital mine entrance is a fake; to enter the real mine, you need to solve a puzzle back in Minea according to the instructions in the fake mine. Other versions of the game also have their share of double and multiple unlocks, for example, to reach the last part of the Shrine, you need the Mask of Eyes, which is in a locked chest opened with the Treasure Box Key, which, at least in some versions, you have to obtain from Feena, whose cell is unlocked with the Prison Key. Then after that, you have to find two more keys to unlock the boss room.

     Game Shows  
  • This was the point of the British series 1001 Things You Should Know. Each category contained two questions; answering the easier one unlocked a more difficult cash question, and only the cash questions built your score. On top of that, if you missed either question, you were locked out of the whole category.
  • In The Chase, contestants must triumph against the chasers twice before they can win any money. First, they must compete with the chaser to answer a set of multiple questions to bank the money they've earned from the cashbuilder round. Then, the team must participate in a "Final Chase" where they must correctly answer more questions than the Chaser within 2 minutes to actually claim their prize.
  • MasterChef:
    • Winning the Immunity Pin takes two steps. The first round is a rapid challenge, and the contestants are asked to either cook a dish in 1 hour, or guess certain food ingredients, etc. The winner of the first round must then have a cook-off against a professional guest chef — if they win, they get the Immunity Pin, if not, they get nothing.
    • In perhaps the most negative sense of the trope, team elimination also have multiple stages. The contestants participate in a series of challenges (similar to the ones required to win immunity), and the numbers are whittled down until one ultimate loser is eliminated.
  • Sale of the Century: In the U.S. television game show's end game, during the Winners Board era, a contestant could win only the two top prizes on the board — the car and $10,000 — by first matching it with one of the two "WIN" cards on the board.
  • Wheel of Fortune
    • To win the million dollar top prize, the contestant(s) must:
      1. Land on the Million Dollar wedge in one of the first three rounds, which is 1/3 the width of normal wedges and flanked by 1/3-size Bankrupts.
      2. Call a letter that's in the puzzle.
      3. Solve that round's puzzle without first hitting a Bankrupt.
      4. Win the game without hitting Bankrupt.
      5. Land on the $1,000,000 envelope (which replaces the normal top prize of $100,000), one of 24 envelopes on the Bonus Wheel.
      6. Solve the bonus puzzle. Despite all of these barriers, it's happened three times since the wedge's introduction.
    • From Season 29-36, the show also had the 1/2 Car tags in the second and third rounds. Both of these must be claimed, either in one round or a combination of two rounds, to win a car. It's made slightly easier in that, if one tag is picked up in a round, it is replaced in the next one (unless of course, the car is won).


  • The Dukes of Hazzard: A television example with a twist that series antagonist Boss Hogg hopes to invoke against longtime adversary Uncle Jesse Duke, in order to obtain the long-desired Duke farm property. In its most basic sense, by having Jesse's nephews, Bo and Luke framed and arrested for a crime they didn't commit, making them stand trial and sending them to prison, he hopes that Jesse will be forced to sell the farm to Boss, who then plans to use the farm for his own nefarious, selfish schemes and/or make a large profit.
  • Stand up comedian Dara Ó Briain invokes a meta example of this; on the basis that he's a working parent with barely any time, he finds this when Guitar Hero expects him to unlock specific songs despite the fact he already bought them:
    The game says "No! You have to unlock it! That's the way the game works!" and you go "Yeah, I'm thirty-eight. I unlocked it in a shop with a credit card: give me my fucking content."
  • Use Amazon Music's services, and you may find you can't access a song you've already paid for because it was moved to Amazon Music Unlimited without warning. What's more, the music content access afforded by Amazon Prime is depreciating in value, because more of those tracks have been moved to unlimited as well. This means that if you want to listen to any such music on Amazon, you have to pay extra money by the month.
  • Treasure Trails basically use a recursive version of this concept. Each clue gives you the information you need to find the next clue, with only the last clue telling you where the prize is.
  • Ever open a Barbie doll before? It's hard work!
    1. Open the box, and pull out the cardboard slab she's tied to.
    2. Untwist the metal ties around Barbie's arms, legs, and torso, and pull them through the holes in the cardboard.
    3. Remove the plastic binding Barbie's hair.
    4. Remove Barbie's accessories, taking care to account for the hairbrush which is almost always included.
  • My Little Pony got into this for the Friendship is Magic line. You'd think Hasbro bought a tape company, given the huge amount of it usually holding the packaging closed and the pony's mane in place. YouTube toy reviews tend to skip the unboxing, because it would take up at least half of the video otherwise. The way it works with a standard "Playful Pony" is:
    1. Remove the clear plastic front of the package from the cardboard back. note 
    2. Remove the tape from the pony's hair, and possibly at least one of their legs as well.
    3. Remove the plastic binding from the pony's hair. (Yes, they put tape on top of the binding!)
    4. Remove various accessories, which may also be taped to the cardboard backing. note 
  • Advanced-level courses in education systems often work like this. Such a course will often list only one or two prerequisite courses...each of which in turn may have its own set of prerequisites, and so on. Sensible departments will have a Tech Tree that shows a map of courses and what other courses they unlock.
  • Anything that requires a license to own counts, since you must first acquire the license (which may be easier said than done) and then buy the thing you want.
  • Prior to the June 2014 Xbox Live update, accessing third party services (e.g. Netflix, Hulu, etc.) on Xbox 360 or Xbox One required both a paid account to the service in question and an Xbox Live Gold subscription.
  • Until 1999 in Volleyball only the team that served the ball in a play could score a point, while the other team had to win a play first to serve the next one. It was changed to both sides being able to score since to make the game length more predictable.
  • Sakuna Of Rice And Ruin: Some locations are only accessible once certain events / cutscenes have happened, and those depend on having dinner, which is totally optional except for these unlocks being needed to progress through the main quest:
    • Having dinner once the boss of the Forest area has been defeated, is needed to unlock "The Missing Child" quest and with it, access to the river area.
    • The Direpass Keep location can be unlocked by travelling through the map, but to get access to the enemies and items inside, the story of Sakuna's parents must be told by Tama across 3 dinners.
  • Control: Astral Constructs first need Jesse to have possessed at least 1 of all of its components, which means it's necessary to access their source locations, before revealing their existence, then she needs to gather enough of them to construct the object. For example, if going to the harder Containment before the easier Research, which are both unlocked at the same time, it's possible to gather the rarer Research Section item, "Astral Blip" before the more common "Intrusive Pattern", where both are needed to craft the Pierce form of the Service Weapon.
  • Copy Kitty: The ability to use any weapon in a level, the Custom weapon option, is unlocked individually for each level, but only allows unlocked weaponry. Special boss weaponry is unlocked for that mode, only by defeating the boss that carries it first.

Not another!

Alternative Title(s): Unlocking More Locked Stuff