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Evolving Attack

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As its power increases, it gets bigger and better.

An ability which is subject to growth or refinement. This can go hand in hand with repeated battles although it is usually outside the explicit realm of Level Grinding. It usually just requires you use it in battle enough times.

May be a method to unlock a Magikarp Power. Can result in a Super Special Move if empowered enough.

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Gaming Examples:

  • In Asura's Wrath, as Asura gets angrier and changes forms, his fighting style changes accordingly, allowing him to have more attacks open to him. This also applies to situations in which he is armless.

    Action Adventure 
  • Your main combination attack in Alundra 2 gets longer as you find the puzzle pieces.
  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night:
    • The Bloodbringer sword gains power (and changes appearance) by leveling up its status as a familiar. Unfortunately, this is a very slow process, Bloodbringer is somewhat useless as a familiar, and its maximum power is still substantially below Blue Rose, so there's very little reason to actually do so.
    • Grand Izayoi, the best katana in the game, gains power based on how much blood Miriam absorbs through the game. It's better than Bloodbringer because it starts out much more powerful, but like Bloodbringer, the process of boosting its power is impractically slow.
  • In Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, Johnathan is able to strengthen his Sub Weapons by using them in battle a number of times. Some of these weapons gained additional effects if raised to their maximum levels, as well.
    • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia has attribute points for each attack type/element. They can be increased by either killing enemies using the corresponding type of attack, using "Drops" that come in several colours, each one raising the attribute points of a different attack type or absorbing glyphs which increases each attribute by 1. Every 328 or so attribute points equals an extra point of attack power when using glyphs of that type, totalling 300% attack strength for that element at the maximum 65535 points.
  • In The Guardian Legend, increasing the Guardian's Energy Chip count increases the speed and spread width of her normal energy cannon. She can also boost the power of her special weapons (up to a maximum of three levels) by finding a matching power-up icon.
  • In Touhou Hisouten ~ Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, Skill Cards can either upgrade a skill you have currently equipped; or equip the skill depicted on that card, replacing one of your old skills in the process. The latter comes at the cost of resetting that special skill's level.

    Card Games 
  • SolForge: Every card is like this: each time you play a card, it levels up so the next time you draw it, it will be stronger. However, these increases only apply within one game, not permanently.

    Fighting Games 
  • The three Part 7 characters in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle can collect up to three corpse parts apiece in order to upgrade their stands. Gyro gets Scan and Golden Spin, Valentine gets Love Train, and Johnny upgrades his stand from Level 1 up to Level 4. Johnny can choose to use a bar of his Heat Heart gauge to permanently upgrade his stand without the use of a corpse part as well.
  • Predating the above example, when playing as Mariah in Heritage for the Future, pressing the Stand button has her conjure a plug socket that, if the opponent touches it, also levels up Mariah's magnetism power, which greatly increases the effectiveness of her moves including firing more nails in her "What are you looking at?" super as well as increasing the damage and length of her magnetism crush super. The HD rerelease even has a trophy that demands that the player levels up Mariah's magnetism to maximum. It also counts as Magikarp Power as, while Mariah is useful to start with she is fairly weak until the player properly levels up her magnetism power, wherein she becomes an absolute terror to deal with.
  • Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix's titular gems power up 3 of your character's special attacks.
  • In Street Fighter 6, successful use of Manon's throw specials increases her medal level, which lasts through the match; with each level, said throws become more visually impressive and, of course, more damaging.

    Hack & Slash 
  • Leveling up weapons in Drakengard allows Caim to combo longer chains of attacks and unleash more powerful versions of the weapon's associated spell.
  • Similarly, leveling up a character's weapon in the Dynasty Warriors games unlocks longer combos and more powerful Charge Attacks.

  • Final Fantasy XIV has many abilities which automatically upgrade to stronger versions of themselves as the player levels up. For example, at specific levels the White Mage’s basic Stone spell gets upgraded to the progressively stronger Stone II, Stone III, Stone IV, Glare, and Glare III.
  • Photon Arts in Phantasy Star Universe can be leveled up through spamming them repeated usage.
  • World of Warcraft now makes all its attacks evolve passively. Before patch 4.0.1, new abilities (and upgrades to known ones) were obtained from your class trainers at certain levels. The patch does away with this requirement; now, abilities are only learned once when the level requirement is met, and their effectiveness scales up as the player's level increases.
    • In addition, some skills are automatically changed into something else based on certain factors, such as talent choices.
      • Warlocks in particular have a bunch of their spells changed depending on their specialisation, such as a Demonology Warlock using Metamorphosis or an Affliction Warlock using a Soul Shard to empower one of their spells.

  • The first two games in the Mega Man Zero series had you use your weapons repeatedly to get their full use unlocked — for example, charged attacks and the three-hit Saber combo were unlocked in stages. By the third game, this was dropped.
    • In Hard Mode, weapon upgrades are disabled, forcing you to adapt your gameplay strategy.
  • In the Ratchet & Clank series, starting with Going Commando, each weapon had an experience meter; when it was filled, the weapon would evolve into a better version of itself. Up Your Arsenal added a five-level system, wherein levels 2-4 resulted in incremental increase in ammo capacity, range, and damage, with the fifth level being a radical change in appearance, area effect, and even name, adding a mass-destruction effect to almost all weapons. Deadlocked, however, went crazy, with up to ten levels available on the first playthrough. All but the tenth consisted of a modest damage upgrade, and an additional mod slot with a free exchangeable weapon mod to go with it. In the New Game Plus, weapon levels went all the way up to 99, each just increasing power.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • League of Legends:
    • Kha'zix can evolve one of his skills every time he levels up his ultimate, granting them additional bonuses. He can evolve three out of four skills at most, unless there also happens to be a Rengar on the enemy team, both are at a high enough level, and he kills him first, which gives him a fourth evolved skill.
    • Before Patch 6.14, Sona's ultimate had this as a passive ability; with every rank the player put into her ultimate, her standard abilities would become more effective. After the patch, the passive was changed to give the champion increasing amounts of Cooldown Reduction, so YMMV.
    • Syndra's passive — Trancendence — counts as this; once one of her abilities reaches its maximum rank, it gains extra effects — her Dark Spheres last two seconds longer, her Force of Will does 20% bonus true damage, the area of effect on Scatter the Weak is widened, and the cast range of Unleashed Power is increased.
    • Nasus, The Curator of the Sands' infamous 'Q', Siphoning Strike, gains three 'stacks' upon killing an enemy minion, and six upon killing an enemy champion or large neutral monster. The attack does damage equal to a base amount, plus Nasus's Attack Damage stat, plus the amount of stacks he's collected. The attack, late-game, has a cooldown of about two seconds. The champion is definitely made to steamroll late-game; a Nasus with a few hundred stacks is a Nasus to be feared.
    • In the same vein, Veigar, the Tiny Master of Evil, gains Ability Power whenever he so much as hits or kills an enemy champion with any ability, as well as killing minions and monsters with his Baleful Strike. Combine that with a large, area-of-effect stun and an ultimate ability with obscene amounts of Ability Power scaling that does more damage the lower its target's health is, this pint-sized overlord is nothing to laugh at.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • Cross Edge features skill levels which increase both the power of your skills and unlock new skills.
  • In Dark Cloud and Dark Chronicle, almost all leveling is done through weapons; each type of weapon can evolve along different paths, leading to a variety of ultimate weapons for the same character. Or you could just stick with the surprisingly effective Frozen Tuna.
  • Dragalia Lost has Skill Shift where characters using certain skills change how their attacks deal damage and buff allies/debuff enemies so long as it connects on hit.
  • Final Fantasy II had you level up each spell separately.
    • Also, effective use of weapons and shields required that you level them too.
    • In addition, the Limit Break system in Final Fantasy VII were gained via using them more often, or killing a certain number of enemies after obtaining one, except the Level 4 versions. Tidus's Overdrives in Final Fantasy X are gained the same way.
    • Furthermore in Final Fantasy VII Tifa's limit break was to learn new moves like everyone else, but on activation to chain her previously learned limit breaks into one long combo as opposed to selecting only one.
  • FTL: Faster Than Light: All "Chain" weapons get faster or (in the case of the Chain Ion) stronger each time you shoot them in an individual battle. The king of these, though, is the Chain Vulcan, which goes from firing every 12 seconds to firing multiple times per second, singlehandedly shooting down enemy shields faster than they can regenerate. Alas, in a game where doing damage can reduce your enemy's ability to retaliate, the Chain Vulcan's (and Chain Ion's, for that matter) long wind-up times tend to make them Awesome, but Impractical, though with a good supporting build they can rise to Difficult, but Awesome.
  • Gothic: Handled in a literal manner as an in-game explanation of how Nameless Hero gets better at using weapons. Visually, this is represented by the character changing his battle stance and grip on weapon as he levels up weapon proficiency skills, as well as longer and more effective Combos.
  • Grandia and its sequel did this with its magic system — each use of a spell added points to the spell and to its associated element; each new element level gives you new spells. In the first game, you could easily level up your healing/water magic by repeatedly running into a fire trap or acid pool, then healing the party. Somewhat esoterically, levelling up individual spells primarily affects the speed at which it can be used.
    • They did the same thing with weapons too, with each type (sword, axe, bow, etc.) as a separate skill to level up. Some special attacks required you to level several weapon types to a certain point before you'd earn them, forcing you to change your weapons around often. Some of the (usually elemental-based) special attacks even required you to have a high level in one or more magic groups as well as weapons.
  • In Guild of Dungeoneering, the Yodeler's schtick is that their "Yodel" skill gets more and more powerful each time you play its card, of which the Yodeler has two. It starts off doing 1 physical damage, then does two, then becomes Unblockable, and finally becomes a Swift attack (Monsters usually go first unless an adventurer uses a Swift attack).
  • .hack//GU Redemption introduces advanced Arts that the player unlocks after leveling their weapon skill enough. This gives them a nifty new attack which improves in power and cost-effectiveness for each subsequent level in that weapon skill they raise.
  • If a spell is used repeatedly in the game adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone on the Game Boy Color, a more powerful version of the same spell is obtained.
  • Hybrid Heaven by Konami is probably the king of complex Evolving Attacks. The character first learned a move (by having it used against him) and then gained levels in it by using it over and over again. However, each use also increased the Attack power of the specific body part used in the process, so a left punch would increase the Left Arm's attack, and so on. Defense was increased in each body part by taking hits in the part. Finally, HP increased over the course of the game as well, depending perhaps on the number of fights encountered.
    • That's not even mentioning the secret "Combo Attacks" you could learn, by using 6 separate attacks in a particular order... and then level up themselves, no less.
  • In Kingdom Hearts II, each of Sora's Drive Forms (whose useful bonuses are often carried over to normal play) are leveled up by defeating specific enemies, or by fighting in specific ways. Sora's Summons also have levels increased in the same way, though this "summon level" is shared by the summons instead of separate.
  • Also similarly, leveling up a character's weapon skill in Koudelka adds an extra strike to the character's attacks with that weapon.
  • Most of the fighting in The Legend of Dragoon is done with Additions, a series of weapon strikes performed by hitting the attack button with very specific timing. Every time you pull one off, you get a skill point in that Addition; gain enough skill points and the attack either gets more powerful, earns you more SP for your Super Mode, or both (the majority of new Additions are only gained through leveling). Some characters only have three Additions; others have as many as seven, and there's a total of 99 possible skill points for each one....
    • Making things more grind-heavy is the fact that each character's ultimate Addition isn't earned by reaching a certain level, but by mastering all of their other Additions by earning at least 80 skill points in each one. The ultimate Addition itself can then be leveled up after it's unlocked.
  • Legend of Legaia's magic system is based off of this trope, getting more powerful as you use it more, while normal attacks themselves only increase in power through equipment and stats. The sequel plays it even straighter, as several Hyper Arts are learned by using the base forms enough times.
  • In Legend of Mana, all special abilities and even most basic combat techniques were learned by using other basic combat abilities. Some of these made sense, such as combining Crouch and Dash to slide forward, and could even be done simply by using both of those techniques at the same time even before Slide is mastered. In other cases, this becomes rather random, with Jump teaching you how to create a black hole with your staff.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age makes use of this trope. To unlock new attacks and abilities the characters have to use abilities of the same class.
  • In MARDEK, powers come attached to items, but if you use a power enough it becomes "mastered" and you can then keep the power if when you remove the item.
  • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga has the titular bros learn "Advance!" Bros. moves after using the normal versions enough times. In Partners in Time, Bros. moves get more complex and more powerful after the babies join your party.
  • In Mass Effect 2 and 3 you can evolve Shepard's and his/her squad's powers when you upgrade them all the way (the last three tiers in the latter). The choice is usually along the lines of either more damage or a wider area of effect.
  • Doing this in Nostalgia (Red Entertainment) could unlock new skills.
  • Okiku, Star Apprentice: Okiku has six skills, that evolve into more powerful forms with enough uses.
  • Oracle of Askigaga: There's six skills to level up with use. Two for each character.
  • Gabe's, Tycho's and the player's stats can be increased in both (so far) of the Penny Arcade Adventures games. Finishing off an enemy with a perfectly-executed super move kills your enemy in a gory way, which gave you an Overkill mark, which permanently increased your strength. Each character can get 15 Overkill marks (5 per weapon level, with three weapon levels.)
  • Personas in Persona will gain ranks by using them. There are 8 ranks in total and how often they gain ranks is determined by the character that Persona is equipped to. In Persona 2 rank works exactly the same way. This and the automatic battle system will encourage you to find a group of weak mooks and spam healing spells until your Personas are maxed out. Be sure to have some SP recovery items on you though.
  • In the Pokémon series, the moves Return and Frustration become more powerful the more or less the Pokémon using them is happy with the trainer. At full power, they are more powerful than Earthquake without a boost.
    • Moves such as Night Shade or Seismic Toss do set damage based on the user's level, and can gradually turn from nigh useless to reliable weapons as your mons gradually reach the golden level of 100.
    • Trump Card grows in power the less PP (times it can be used) it has left, with the final use being among the most powerful moves in the game.
  • All offensive moves in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity gain EXP when they're used and will eventually level up, acquiring more power, accuracy, and PP. Alternatively, you can use special manuals to boost the parameters of a move immediately, including those of moves that can't level up.
  • In Rune Factory 3, as you advance combat skills, your character learns special moves with each type of weapon, such as an "attack everything around me at once" move.
  • Secret of Evermore required that you level up your alchemy recipes with constant use before they start getting potent, sometimes restricting you from overlevelling the stronger magics since you needed (often rare, sometimes finite) ingredients each time you cast them. There's more than a few common-ingredient formulae that can become Game-Breaker overpowered though.
  • Both weapons and elements of spells in Secret of Mana could be increased in skill level through repeated use. For weapons, increasing the levels unlocked special abilities that could be used with them after charging them up, while for elements, increasing the levels simply increased their spells' power and at times upgrades their animations. However, once an element is at maximum level, it can still gain skill towards the unattainable next level, which corresponds to the chance that its spells will spontaneously turn into a special, more powerful version when cast (ie. fireballs turn in fire dragons).
  • Skies of Arcadia required players to use different Moon Stones on their weapons in order to learn different spells.
  • All of the 'Killing Blow' special attacks in Star Ocean: The Second Story could be enhanced by using them repeatedly in combat, leveling up into stronger, and often more spectacular, versions. The sheer number of Killing Blows available, and the number of levels many of them could be trained to, meant that without serious grinding, only your most favored attacks would ever get to the highest level.
    • Unfortunately, some of them level themselves into Awesome, but Impractical territory, namely Claude's Head Splitter. From being a Death From Above attack to being completely useless, after the spin is added it almost never hits.
    • In its sequel, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, spells became more powerful the more you used them. For example, leveling up Ice Needles would allow the caster to shoot out more needles, and leveling up Fire Bolt would increase the number of fireballs you'd release.
  • Most of your upper-level techs in the Tales of... series of games are unlocked by using a previous technique enough times. This can also gain you attacks that are combinations of more simple techniques.
    • Also in some games (particularly Tales of Vesperia), this actually happens to artes rather than just unlocking a new, more powerful version. Many artes get bonuses depending on usage such as the ability to perform them in midair or gaining more hits, and spells sometimes get "extensions" where they do additional animation and damage.
    • The most notable example in the series may be Tales of Symphonia. You start off by obtaining several level-1 techniques. You then start obtaining level-2 techniques, which mostly include powered-up versions of the level-1 techs. There are also level-3 techs, which include combinations of two weaker techs alongside even stronger variants of level-2 techs.
    • Another notable example can be found in Tales of the Abyss; The Fon Slot Chamber (FSC) system allows you to attach special effects to your artes. The special effects start out as small chance procs and increase in effect chance as you use the arte, up to 100% proc chance.
  • Torchlight II has many skills whose damage or healing components scale with player level.
  • Both Lenneths (first game) and Alicia's (second game) Nibelung Valesti in the Valkyrie Profile series evolved as the game moved on.
  • Warcraft III's heroes have three 3-leveled and one ultimate spells that can be upgraded, one per level.
  • In Wild ARMs: Alter Code F, the more you use Jack's moves the less MP they consume. (In the original version, this was done by using certain consumable items on the attacks you wanted to cheapen.)
  • Pins in The World Ends with You level up in combat, becoming more powerful. And in a near-literal example of the trope, some evolve into entirely new pins, usually with even stronger versions of the same attack (though it depends on the pin, and not all of them evolve through combat). Also, a pin's growth rate isn't affected by how much you use it; you just need to have it equipped.
  • Characters' Deathblows (special attack combos) in Xenogears are learned by using regular attacks in different orders during combat a number of times.

    Shoot 'Em Ups 
  • Tyrian: The front and rear guns have 11 power levels. Most of them have "stages" in the upgrade chain, where the weapon gains a fairly terrifying amount of power after being upgraded by a single level. Shown in the trope image is the Mega Cannon, which shoots small peas at levels 1-5, then begins shooting large energy pulses at levels 6-10, before finally shooting two large energy pulses at level 11. While these guns are typically upgraded by spending credits in the Shop in Story Mode, the main way to power them up in Arcade Mode is by collecting purple orbs that occasionally drop from destroyed objects, and across all game modes, certain destroyed enemies can drop a weapon power-up, increasing the power of your ship's front or rear gun by 1 level.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The humble Magic Missile spells has been an evolving attack ever since the original white-box game, where its power grew over time allowing the caster to conjure two extra missiles for every five levels they gained beyond the first. Later editions evened out its progression by giving you one extra missile every two levels, but also explicitly allowing you to target different enemies with them, adding tactical flexibility.
    • Finally, in 5E, pretty much every spell can be cast at a higher Spell Level, improving its effects — e.g. the Magic Missile gets an extra projectile for every spell level above the 1st that you cast it at, Cure Wounds an additional d8 of healing, Hold Person another target, etc.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • In the Disgaea series, spells can be leveled up, increasing their damage, range, and area. Special attacks can also be leveled up, but — with the exception of Prinny Raid — only increase in damage.
    • Spells and special attacks in La Pucelle Tactics can be levelled up in the same way.
    • Ditto with Phantom Brave—since items technically count as separate units (they count towards how many units you're allowed on the field at once), they level up too. You can unlock stronger attacks for them by earning and then spending experience points gained by using them.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics A2: The most famous are the couple evolving equipment: the sword Sequencer and the armor Peytral, whose stats grow during the course of the game as you perform opportunity commands, being up to 99 higher than the based Attack/Defense. There is also an Esper who cause more damage the more his caster has killed enemies, and Vaan has a skill that does more damage the more he successfully used the "Steal" move.

    Wide-Open Sandbox 
  • In Shenmue for the Dreamcast, the main character's attacks all start out as borderline competent and somewhat sloppy, leaving no doubt as to why he was no match for Lan Di. The more he uses his attacks, whether in actual combat, in training sessions with his friend, or in solo practice, the higher his proficiency with using any move becomes. The higher the proficiency, the more graceful each attack or counter-attack manoeuvre gets, leaving fewer openings, having shorter recovery times, and striking with more power and precision. This is practically mandatory if he is to defeat Chai in the arcade ambush.

Non-Gaming Examples:

    Anime & Manga 
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Madoka's finisher attack goes from a simple supercharged, pink energy arrow to an elaborated pattern that rains several pink arrows from the sky. When first used, it's implied she needs several of them to beat Walpurgisnatch. As Homura's repetitions of the timeline increase Madoka's potential, by the Final Battle she can finish said witch with only one shot. After becoming a Deity of Human Origin, Madoka can launch it at a planetary scale — she uses it to cleanse the corruption of every and each magical girl who ever existed.

    Films — Animation 
  • Frozen:
    • Frozen (2013): Elsa is born with ice powers than only grow as she gets older. At eight years old, she can cover a rather big room with ice and snow. Ten years later, she can plunge a whole country into a premature, apparently Endless Winter — complete with dangerous snow storms when she's feeling agitated. This is even mentioned by the trolls when Elsa's parents seek their counsel. She can also suffuse life onto her snow/ice constructs. After Character Development kicks in, she obtains the ability to reverse the effects of her magic.
    • Frozen II: In the journey to discovering that she is half the bridge between humanity and magic, 24-year-old Elsa unlocks two additional abilities — extracting memories from water and sensing the presence of other elementals. Other than that, her magic is noticeably stronger seeing that small gestures conjure thicker and bigger ice/snow shapes. She also has more finesse, as can be seen in the very detailed sculptures she recreates from her memories of people.

  • Harry Potter: Spell casting is divided into three levels of complexity (in regards to learning and reliably using them) that don't enhance their potency but rather the time required to cast them. First, wizards have to execute a wand movement and clearly pronounce the spell's name. When they reach their sixth year, they are taught to cast them non-verbally but still use their wands. Outstanding wizards such as Big Good Dumbledore and Big Bad Voldemort are shown casting spells non-verbally and wandlessly. It's implied massive amounts of practice and magical talent are needed to accomplish such a feat. Between the first and second levels, practice can also help in reducing the casting time because of the very straightforward fact that, the more you use a spell, the more familiar you become with the wand movements.

    Western Animation 
  • Winx Club: Bloom's Signature Move is her Fire Dragon, which gets stronger with each new fairy transformation she obtains. For instance, she throws it at Valtor while in her base fairy form and it's easily countered by said Big Bad. Implied when, after earning her Enchantix, she uses a simple beam of fire and is able to knock him back rather easily. Made explicit in the second movie, in which she has the next transformation, the Believix, and is seriously depowered, her dragon is able to match Belladona's Obsidian Dragon (she is fused with Icy and has the negative side of the Tree of Life powering her) — Belladona is a lot more powerful than Valtor even on her base form.