Follow TV Tropes


Inventory Management Puzzle

Go To
Frack. Maybe if I put the knives beneath the wand, and moved that potion up...

"It sucks when you've narrowed down the candidates for being discarded forever between a magical gold-plated dragonfly that grants wishes and the holy grail."

How many things can you carry on your person? If your life depended on it, do you think you could manage just one more?

There are lots and lots of practical reasons that a game might want to place some bounds on your carrying capacity. For one thing, like everything else, there's only a finite amount of memory to track inventory, and only a finite amount of screen space to show it, in accordance with the game's particular idiom. Also, there's the matter of the Combinatorial Explosion. Limit what the player can carry, so that he isn't hauling around objects that will make the designer's life hard in the future.

And then, there are the games which limit your inventory because the game designers want to make inventory management a part of the game, to force players to manage another resource. At the simplest level, this is managed by simply limiting the number of items. So, you can carry around only a handful of items. A common abstraction is to define inventory in terms of weight, with (nearly) arbitrary weights assigned to each item. To make matters worse, if a notion of item size exists at all, it's sometimes very coarsely defined: either you can carry eight items, whether the items are paper clips or pianos, or you can carry eight "units" of equipment, but one unit is "anything smaller than a breadbox," and two units is "A BFG."

There are many reasons the game designer may have for imposing this inventory limit, such as:

  • Directly as a puzzle. The classic Inventory Management Puzzle is the brain-teaser in which you must transport a fox, a hen, and some grain across a bridge that will only bear the weight of one item at a time.
  • As an attempt to impose difficulty and complexity on a player. It forces the player to manage inventory as a resource, just as they have to manage HP, MP, and so forth.
  • To punish players by making them backtrack through a substantial portion of the game if the player made a poor choice to leave a Plot Coupon behind to carry more guns and ammo.
  • To achieve greater realism, even if it damages the gameplay and/or annoys players. Even if a person in the situation would find a place for that green herb if it meant the difference between life and death.
  • To encourage players to actually use items, rather than hoarding them forever for whenever they might come in handy.
  • To make sure the player cannot rely on items for things that can be done by other means. Why ever use a healing spell if you can carry 99 of each of three types of healing potions and two types of party-healing ones?
  • Lack of memory space. On the early platforms, memory was at a premium for both in-play and save data. This is probably the case for any arbitrary inventory limit on a NES game.

To make matters worse one of the things that keeps our limited carrying capacity in real life from being too onerous a burden is the fact that we can set things down. Far too often, a game will impose an inventory limit, but not implement any sophisticated notion of chucking stuff on a shelf or table, sticking it in a cupboard, or otherwise leaving it wherever you happen to be at the moment. Far more popular is to limit the player to only storing items at certain special locations, usually subject to their own inventory limits. Or only giving the player the option to discard items outright, removing them from play altogether. If the designer decided to allow the player to drop things wherever he likes, dropped items may yet be subject to Everything Fades. The ability to transport more items in a vehicle is also often left out.

At least within the hobbyist community, game authors who impose an inventory limit to genres which usually do not feature them will often feel the need to justify this, claiming to have "always been bothered" by the blatant unrealism of unbounded carrying. Strangely, players who do not go on to write games which feature an unreasonable inventory limit never seem to have trouble with this.

One positive effect of imposing inventory limits on a player is to limit hoarding. In general, when players find things, they keep them, unless they have an immediate need for money, in which case they sell them. Players only use items that are in limited supply when absolutely needed (and in the case of stuff Too Awesome to Use, not even then). A limited inventory is a way to suggest to a player that they should be using more stuff. That is, shooting more, using more health potions, etc. And even if the player can't acquire any more consumable items, it isn't a problem (with a sufficiently large inventory) because that means the player is well-stocked for the next portion of the game. Typically, the problem with inventory happens when you have to drop key items or drop a box of 10 shotgun shells knowing full well that you're going to need them in the next 5 minutes.

Remember, Tropes Are Not Bad.

The Inventory Management Puzzle is actually well known in applied mathematics and computer science circles where it goes by the name of The Knapsack Problem. The Knapsack Problem is defined as given a set of items, each with a weight and a value, determine the count of each item to include in a collection so that the total weight is less than or equal to a given limit and the total value is as large as possible. It derives its name from the problem faced by someone who is constrained by a fixed-size knapsack and must fill it with the most useful items. Unfortunately what makes the Knapsack Problem well known is that it's an exemplar of a class of problems that are inefficient to solve in the general case. This means that the best method to solve the problem is to try every possible combination and see which one works best.

A Sub-Trope of Reduced-Downtime Features. See also Grid Inventory and Limited Loadout.


    open/close all folders 

Video Games

    Action Adventure Games 
  • Darkstone has what seems to be a rather stringent limit on inventory space, particularly in light of the quest objects the player is expected to assemble. The inventory limits can be neatly circumvented by frequent return trips to the starting town, however, which is the only "safe" location in the entire game (that is, the only place where monsters are never found). Items can be stored there for safekeeping. Moreover, the inventory limit also enables the player to make use of an extremely helpful cheat, provided that no patches have been installed for the game; it allows the player to generate a literally unlimited amount of gold.
  • Death Stranding is about hefting 100s of kilograms of cargo around on your back, so half of it is making sure it all fits comfortably. You can manually stack boxes or use an auto-stacker to cram them into more ergonomic positions, but this can adversely affect special cargo like pizza which must remain horizontal. The more cargo you have on your body, the harder it'll be to remain upright. In addition to the cargo you have to transport, you also have to carry around all your equipment, which by the end of the game will have you fully outfitted in rectangular boxes.
  • The PS2 game Disaster Report and its sequel, Raw Danger, had a backpack that carried all your stuff. Since the game was designed as a survival game where speed was more important that carrying everything you could find, you had to make hard choices about what you wanted to carry, as what seemed useful could be useless later. As the game progressed you can get better backpacks with more space, starting with an emergency field aid bag and ending up with a massive camping bag that still couldn't hold everything you wanted.
  • The classic Spectrum Dizzy series went through several inventory permutations. The second game, Treasure Island Dizzy, had an inventory of 3 items. If a fourth was picked up, it was added to the bottom of the inventory list and the top item was dropped. One section of the game involved Dizzy going underwater, which you could only do if you had the snorkel in your inventory. Players swiftly learned to ensure the Snorkel was at the bottom of the list before entering the water and attempting to pick up other things. Maddeningly, there were more objects under the water that you needed than your inventory could hold, so a player had to make several trips and re-arrange the inventory every time.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has a limited "Adventure Pouch" which can only hold a limited number of shields, bottles, spare ammo packs (his main items have their own small ammo packs), and medallions, initially set at four spaces and later upgradeable to eight. Any extra Adventure Pouch items he picks up or buys have to be left with Peatrice the Item Check Girl. (Fortunately, though, Link's main tools, Plot Coupons, and Item Crafting collectables are still subject to the usual Hyperspace Arsenal rules.)
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild places a limit on the number of melee weapons, shields, and bows you can carry that can be increased by collecting hidden Korok Seeds from around the world and trading them in with Hestu. Like with Skyward Sword, though, any armor and Plot Coupons you come across are firmly exempt from this trope. Item Crafting ingredients and food are also limited, but the cap on them is so large that it's rarely an issue. Clothing has an arbitrary limit too (5 inventory pages). With the DLC and enough Amiibo, you can run out of slots.
  • Some of Ultimate's early Isometric Projection platform adventures needed careful management of the three slot FIFO inventory to evade several tricky spots, including working out exactly where to put the blank spaces. (Common puzzle in Alien 8: Stand on item to get enough height to clear eggshell wall, jump-carry to leap off item while picking it up, land, immediately drop new item to avoid being killed by clockwork mouse / whatever, jump-carry to clear next wall. Needs two items with the empty space in between the two, so you don't leave anything behind when you jump-carry.)
  • This is used as a type of puzzle in the Superior Software puzzle game Ravenskull. You can carry a maximum of three items, no matter what types: you can carry three scythes, but you can't carry four cupcakes. In general, you can retrieve dropped objects, but some areas require deciding what you need most and abandoning the rest for ever.
  • They made a whole game almost out of this alone in 2009's The Void. Most of the game is about collecting Color, which amounts to food for your soul, without which, you fade out of existence, processing it in your Hearts, turning it into Nerva which is then used to fuel your travel, planting and mining more Color, combat and feeding the NPC Sisters to get them to help you. And surprisingly enough it works, keeping you on edge constantly, because any resource management mistake can be lethal.

    Action RPG 
  • Avalon Code. Code management is a puzzle, and requires lots of patience, since you only have 4 reserve slots, and there are lots and lots of pages needed to turn to find what you need.
  • Dark Cloud: Nothing stacked. Multiple different items keyed to curing one status ailment each. Each character has limited inventory space for his or her own weapons and can't carry anyone else's. You'll need multiple weapon repair items per dungeon floor or your weapons will break and be lost forever.
  • Demon's Souls, unlike its Spiritual Successor Dark Souls, had a weight limit on the amount of items you can carry, and you are not allowed to go over the limit. If you want to free up some encumberance, you can store items in the stockpile.
  • Deus Ex's inventory was based on the classic grid system. The designers explained prior to the release of the sequel, Invisible War, that they weren't happy with how that worked out (since you could happily tote around a rocket launcher, sniper rifle, shotgun, assault rifle, a couple of pistols and an assortment of grenades without any of them being obvious) and so they were going to change to a slot-based system. Which, in practice, meant that you could carry even more.
    • The prequel to Deus Ex, Human Revolution, sees a return to the grid-based inventory system. HR's system is quite a bit more difficult than the original, since there's less space (though it's possible to upgrade the size of your grid) and ammo and grenades are included separately. It is, however, slightly mitigated by the game's decent auto-sorting and willingness to rotate items through a right angle if necessary.
  • The first Dragon Slayer game was similar in a number of ways to Adventure, including only allowing the player to carry one item at a time. Coins and potions could be carried in unlimited quantities, but couldn't even be picked up if something else was being held.
  • Your inventory in Eternal Sonata is slot-based, with different kinds of items taking up different numbers of slots. The number of slots increases from 10 to 20 at Party Level 3, to 30 at Party Level 4, and 40 at Party Level 5.
  • An extreme case in Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days with the panel system. While your actual inventory is nearly limitless, you can only take so much with you on missions. And because your level, skills, spells, weapon, backpack slots (temporary inventory for collected items), a ring that upgrades stats and upgrades to the above (such as allowing your Guard to block attacks behind you) are all stored as panels it takes some careful planning. You'll also often have to leave enemy drops, mostly synthesis Materials, behind due to limited backpack space because you're going to want the items from chests (as that is recorded and needed at various parts to unlock things) as well as healing items you pick up should the stock you brought with you run out.
  • Each character in Odin Sphere begins with a pathetically small inventory, which can be upgraded by buying Small Bags or Large Bags. Upgrading from Small Bags to Large Bags when you've maxed out on bags adds even more complexity to the puzzle, since you now have to dump not only everything from the Small Bag into your other bags, but also the Small Bag itself, before replacing it with a Large Bag.
  • Rogue Galaxy lets you hold some five pages of items, which is well and good... until you realize how many "key items" the game drops on you. You also have access, however, to another five pages of storage accessed via Save Point. The irritating part is that consumable items have incredibly arbitrary limits. Fifty Heal Potions is understandable, but why can you only carry thirty Resurrections?
  • Averted in Throne of Darkness where the inventory manages itself, there are up to seven characters each with an inventory of his own, AND the blacksmith and priest are available at all times, after they are brought back to their posts, so you don't have to run back and forth to reach them to give them your loot.
  • X-Men Legends 2 infuriated many players with its inventory management system. There were set limits on the number of pieces of equipment the player's party could carry, and there was a set limit on the number of pieces of equipment that could be stored, but taking up more than half the space in the storage inventory forced the player to run the risk of the game glitching in various and sundry ways. Making things worse, the player could not simply leave pieces of equipment laying on the ground, because those would also count toward the overall total, eventually resulting in the same glitch. Thus, the only way to keep the game from glitching out halfway through was to periodically sell off piles of equipment to Forge, the only way to eliminate a piece of equipment altogether.

    Adventure Games 
  • I-0 is the rare example of an inventory limit that is minimally intrusive, or, at least, enforced. The player simply isn't meant to be using inventory items to solve puzzles in I-0, and the limit reinforces this: if you find yourself wishing you could carry a fourth item, you're really missing the point of the game.
  • Most of the Might and Magic series does this, except that you can (sometimes) move items to different characters. If all your characters are full, though...
  • The old Atari game Adventure only allowed the character to carry one item at a time. This was due to technological limitations (back then the ability to carry items at all in a non-text based game was groundbreaking) but it overall added a lot of real difficulty to the game. The biggest reason: the only weapon in the game counted toward your one-item limit.
  • The Interactive Fiction game Anchorhead partially averts this: you can carry almost all the items you'll ever need in the pockets of your trenchcoat, but you can only hold so much in your hands at any one time.
  • Bookworm Adventures awards the player a new treasure in every chapter, with the total number of them being eighteen (not counting upgrades). Lex can only take three treasures to every new chapter, which can be tough choice: the treasure selection screen provides a guess at what is to be expected, but it doesn't neccesarily cover everything that you will encounter in the chapter, and sometimes fails to provide any meaningful advice at all.
    • Its sequel has 13 treasures (one of which is useless until the Final Boss is defeated) and six non-upgradable companions. Two treasures & a companion can be taken into every chapter.
  • In the first two Discworld point-and-click games, Rincewind was accompanied by the Luggage, a walking chest with nearly infinite storage space. This was helpful, as Rincewind himself could only carry a few items. A few puzzles involved going to areas where the Luggage couldn't go (such as up the tower), and you had to make sure to bring the right things along. Or, when you got a flagon of dwarven beer, making sure Rincewind himself carried it, because otherwise the Luggage would drink it first.
  • In Dream Chronicles, the inventory is limited to ten items. Normally, this isn't much of an obstacle, as the objects get to be used pretty quickly, but there are a few puzzles with way more pieces than just ten: this would mean you can't avoid moving back and forth between several parts of the location when trying to solve them. One more generic example of this is the gate puzzle, where you need to use scales to find the correct items for unlocking the gates. After you have collected all of the items in the street, you will have to leave some of them on the gate pillars in order to be able to pick up the scales. At the same time, however, multiple identical objects only require a single space inside the inventory, implying that Faye can carry more than ten items, just that the game's interface won't allow collecting too much stuff.
  • Ghostrunner has a variant of this with the upgrades, which need to be slotted into boxes in a Tetris-like configuration. Each upgrade takes up a different amount of space, with better upgrades taking the most space in the most inconvenient shape. You start the game out with maybe a quarter of the full grid, but even at the end of the game, you can have at most seven-to-eight upgrades at a time with the space you got.
  • The Text Adventure The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1984) has several of these integrated into the story. There's the "thing your aunt gave you which you don't know what it is" which is a Clingy Macguffin and a Bag of Holding—anything at all can be stuffed into it. Another involves holding tea and no tea at the same time—yes, we know. That's why it's a puzzle.
    • Just to give a taste of the game's humor, the first is used to solve a puzzle (by putting a item you'd lose in it), and the latter requires you to remove your own common sense. Manually.
  • A lot of Infocom games (the Zorks in particular) had a more complicated inventory system, where not only the weight but also the bulk of the items were taken into account to determine how much you could carry. Some things were heavy, others large and unwieldy. Also, there were occasionally passages that you could only fit through while holding one or two items.
    • Zork: Nemesis suffers from a weird version of this- the game takes place in several "levels," each one being entirely self contained. However, as you could only put down items in places where you could pick them up, you were often stuck carrying a ton of items from completed sections, and with an interface that forces you to keep clicking for the "next item" in the list until you reach the one you actually want to be using.
  • Infocom's Planetfall: Picking up too many items causes the item you last tried to pick up, as well as a random item from your inventory, to go tumbling to the floor. If you try to pick them up again without doing something with the situation, it'll just happen all over again — with another item. More annoyingly, both in that game and Stationfall, its sequel, hauling a magnetic object around for too long while also carrying a magnetic ID card would blank the latter. Let's not even mention Stationfall's slowly evaporating explosive... which would invisibly evaporate if you have it inside a container.
  • Myst:
    • The first game suffered from the "one item only" limit. Pretty ridiculous considering the only items in the game were single pages torn from books. The limit meant the player had to go through many areas one extra time in order to collect all the pages (and put together all the pieces of the story).
    • Myst V: End of Ages justified this same one-item limit because there was only one item to carry in each Age. Being unable to carry these heavy slates up ladders was part of the puzzle, for some Ages.
  • Phantasmagoria had a strict eight-item inventory limit. This failed to be annoying for most of the game because (a) the puzzles were crafted such that only a very few items were ever in-play at the same time, and (b) This being the Interactive Movie genre, which was never really perfected, players usually had much worse things to get annoyed by.
  • In Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom, when you reach certain plot milestones you get a password. Some items can be kept afterwards, while others get "accidentally" lost, without any outward indication of which is which. This gets especially strange with multiple identical items, which take up a single space on the inventory; sometimes you will lose some, but not all, of them.
  • Sierra's Quest for Glory series, being part adventure game and part RPG, effectively hybridizes the "bottomless pockets" philosophy of Sierra's other games with an RPG-style inventory capacity limit. In this case, the key factor is weight; your character can carry any number of items of any size, as long as their combined weight stays beneath your character's upper limit (determined by their strength). However, this is not a hard limit — you can, in fact, carry items above and beyond this amount. Doing so, however, physically strains your character, depleting your stamina much faster than normal (which kills you if it runs out). That being said, at no point will you ever come across enough stuff to weigh you down unless you do it on purpose (picking up far too many throwing rocks, for example). By the time you reach the hard limit for strength for the game, you can carry everything with ease. Wizards and thieves don't even need to get to the hard limit (unless the thief insists on carrying dozens of throwing daggers), and fighters and paladins have heavier equipment with swords and heavy armor and shields, but since they're expected to develop their strength, it's not a concern.
  • Shivers (1995) tasked you to capture ten evil spirits haunting an abandoned museum, which required you to have the appropriate urn and matching lid for that spirit. However you could only carry one urn, lid or urn-and-matching-lid at a time; trying to pick up a new one would drop the old item in its place, so you usually had to make notes of where you left stuff. What's more, after you recaptured a spirit, the urn would be moved to a separate place on your task bar, implying that you could carry as many "completed" urns as you liked.
  • Uninvited is a rare inversion of this with an equal amount of management puzzling. The player is actually given an unlimited inventory to store anything and everything not nailed to the ground. The problem, however, is that while you can take nearly everything you see bar one shiny red exception, that is, only about an eighth of the items you find at most will have some use in the game. The idea was that if you loot everything imaginable, it comes back to haunt you as far as wading through hordes of items to try to find that one nifty MacGuffin when the time comes to use it. However, this is also averted if you drop all the useless loot or otherwise don't pick it up in the first place, and there are hardly that many timed missions to really haunt you if you do have everything and the kitchen sink in your pockets to sort through.

    Eastern RPG 
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist: Meisou no Rinbukyoku and its sequel Omoide no Sonata, the player must manage a deck of five material cards in and out of battle. Each card has two values that increase upon being combined with most cards except for purple ones, which decrease them instead. The values cannot be lower than 1 or higher than 7, and each card can only be combined four times, enabling better skills the further it goes. At certain spots, crafting a certain card of a specific value is needed to progress.
  • Azure Dreams does this twice. You can't enter the dungeon with more than five items and can't hold more than 30. So do you rather want to take a returning device (which you may have the luck to find or not), equipment or an additional ally with you before going after monsters?
  • Brandish starts off looking like one of these, as you only have twelve inventory slots plus the three slots specifically for your currently-equipped armor, shield, and weapon. Experimentation (or perhaps just reading the manual) reveals just how many bones the game throws you to avoid being one of these:
    • You can dump items on the ground; these manifest as a green pouch icon. You can even dump multiple items in the same spot, in which case you pick them back up in a last-in-first-out hierarchy. Items discarded this way don't seem to be subject to Everything Fades, unless the limit is more than a floor or two. The downside is that you can't see the items' locations on your map, so you have to keep track of where you dropped stuff.
    • You can place items in treasure chests, which do show up on your map. But unlike the above tip, chests can only hold one item at a time.
    • Very early on, you can find a Dimensional Box which essentially gives you an extra page of inventory space. And from what I've seen, there seem to be three of these in the game. The downside is that items that automatically activate (such as a Ring of Life) don't work if inside of a box — and the ring's in-game description explicitly says so.
    • Once you find a box, opening one on your inventory screen lets you freely rearrange your items (ostensibly to give you a way to put them in the box). But this also lets you stack items by putting an icon of one type on top of another of the same type. Previously, you'd be in the odd situation where the "three health potions" you picked up would occupy a different slot than the "four health potions" you found elsewhere. Not all items can be stacked in this way, though, and if you're not careful, you can mix poisons and potions, which cancel each other out in a one-to-one ratio. Oh, and stacking gold bars slightly increases their total value.
  • Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter featured an incredibly tight inventory limit. You would begin the game with exactly ten slots in your inventory. You could get up to thirty extra slots, but they were entirely optional, and missable. Each slot could only hold one type of item (Heal Kits, Fairy Drops, Save Tokens, unappraised weapons, etc.). You could technically carry any number of a type of expendable item, but each slot could hold only up to 10; any more, and the excess amount would have to occupy a new slot (11-20 required two slots, 21-30 required three, etc.). Despite the above rule, only one piece of unappraised equipment could ever fit in an inventory slot. Equipment that you picked up in dungeons was therefore guaranteed to flood most of your inventory. You could leave your items and equipment with a character that acted as a storage service, but incomprehensibly, the amount of space they had available was usually less than what you had, making it nearly useless, except for carrying items over to a new game.
  • The original .hack games for PS2 were an inventory nightmare as well. Not only was your personal inventory limited, but even the bank to store excess items was quite limited. Extremely frustrating in a game where you often need to carry around multiple sets of weapons and armor and items to deal with different enemy resistances as well as the RPG staple of healing, reviving, and other utilitarian items. Made even more infuriating when you finish the game's plot and get the "Item Completion Event" and have to collect one of every item. Since your inventory space is limited, you have to carry around rare Permanently Missable items until the end of the game. No matter how useless they later become (because you get far better weapons/armour).
  • Dragon Quest had this in varying degrees, generally getting more lenient over time.
    • In the first game it wasn't present at all; your inventory had room for every item, and every time you bought a new piece of equipment, you'd sell the one of that type you currently had.
    • Dragon Quest II was particularly bad with this, as if the rest of the game wasn't hard enough already. Each of your three characters can only hold up to eight items, including equipment, which could take up 4-5 of those eight slots. Most of the rest is taken up by key items. The items also don't stack.
    • Dragon Quest III had the same eight-items-including-equipment per character limit, but added a safe where you could store extra items; this same system is used in the next two games as well. V also upped each character's inventory to twelve items.
    • Dragon Quest VI and onward replace the safe with a common Hyperspace Arsenal that is always with your party, though only items in the characters' inventories can be used in battle.
  • Dubloon's inventory can hold up to 32 kinds of items (but their quantity can be infinite). And each member of your crew can equip only one item. Yes, wearing a glove makes you automatically unequip armour.
  • EarthBound (1994) allowed each character to carry up to fourteen items, even when some of those items are being worn. However, there's also a storage facility that you can access (via delivery service) from any phone. It has a much higher limit, but item hoarders can still find themselves bumping up against it.
  • In Etrian Odyssey, you have a single inventory for every item, combining medicines, exploration items, and even enemy drops. It has a fixed size, and items do not stack. This requires a careful balance of priceless space between medicines, Warp Wires, and how much are you willing to bet to find certain enemies to harvest.
  • The Final Fantasy series has several examples:
    • The original Final Fantasy was especially bad in this regard: While the types of consumable items were limited and the game had room for all of them, there was only room for four weapons on each of the four characters, and even worse, four pieces of armor. This includes stuff equipped, which could be all four slots. As the game has equipment you can use in battle, as well as elemental protection, this could get problematic later in the game fast.
    • Final Fantasy II, III, and IV did this to some extent. The game only let you carry 40 items at any one time. This was ameliorated in the remakes for these games.
      • The Famicom version of Final Fantasy II is easily the roughest, as not only did items not stack, each character could only access the two inventory items equipped to them (i.e. Healing Potions and/or alternate weapons).
      • In Final Fantasy IV, you could store items with the Big Chocobo, but that was it. This was even worse in the original hard-type version, as they had a good 8 items dedicated to healing individual status ailments. Combine this with needing stocks of various kinds of arrows for Rosa, specialized weapon swapping for certain elemental resistances, and you can easily run low on room.
    • Final Fantasy V was the first game to do away with this.
    • Final Fantasy X has a fairly large cap on the number of weapons and armor you can have, but near the endgame you will probably start feeling it.
    • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII lets you carry six usable items at the beginning of the game, with the capacity increasing by completing main quests. Given that otherwise restoring HP, curing status ailments, and buffing yourself is very limited, you'll learn to make good use of those item slots—even when one of them inevitably gets taken up by the Elixir the game knows you'll never use.
  • Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light: This Gaiden Game (which also had elements from the Dragon Quest series) had an inventory of 15 per character, no side-inventory for equipped items, and no Bag of Holding. This did not go unnoticed with critics, given the importance and unpredictability of items, the sheer number of items, and the fact it's a 2009 game.
  • Golden Sun enforces a fixed limit of 15 items per party member, and this includes not just consumables but also equipment, plot items, and items that give you Psynergy needed to solve puzzles. Since the series throws tons of items at the player throughout the games and you can't store any of these things without selling them (and can't sell plot or Psynergy items at all), it's quite easy to run out of space if you aren't constantly selling outdated equipment. It becomes less of a problem in the second and third games due to both games having more party members than the first, though it takes a while for all of them to show up in either case.
  • Used in Grandia, each character has a specific, though generously sized inventory, and there's a large bag. And everything doesn't fade.
  • The Legend of Dragoon gives you a hard inventory space of 32 individual "disposable" items (potions, revives, and so forth). Long battles such as the Divine Dragon battle and final boss aside, the fact that most of these have percentage-based effects might make it less grating... then you realize that your available equipment inventory is eight times this. If you want to be prepared for any situation, you'll only be able to hold two, maybe three of any given item type besides attacking items. Luckily, a handful of really useful battle items can be used repeatedly, but you're in trouble as far as healing goes.
  • Game Gear Madou Monogatari games only limited you to nine item slots per bag. You would have to discard an item if you found another and want to keep it.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Hard Mode limits the amount of any item you can carry to exactly ten. Need 1-Ups? You can only buy/hold 10 of them at any one time. Same with any gear, beans or anything else in the game. It's not as bad as some of the others here (10 of each thing still doesn't mean much given how there's about 10 different types/strengths of healing items and what not), but it does make the early game hell and certain resources used for things later on rather easy to run out of (like the status healing Refreshing Herbs or the background enemy killing Taunt Balls).
  • Mega Man Battle Network:
    • From the third game onward, the games feature an optional (but very helpful) literal Inventory Management Puzzle in the Navi Customizer. You can use a number of programs to give Mega Man benefits with four rules: Textured programs may not touch the Command Line, non-textured programs must touch the Command Line, programs of the same color may not be touch, and all used programs must fit within the allotted space.
    • The third game required you to use one such part (the Press Program) to go certain places. The Press Program quickly became a Scrappy Mechanic, and and between it, an unholy amount of running to everywhere in the internet, and That One Boss Bubbleman, the entire chapter it was introduced in became a Scrappy Level too. The next game replaced it with an always-present key item. It should be noted that you never had to drop anything; the customizer merely determined which programs would be in use at a given time. The chip folders which are the focus of the game could themselves be considered the same thing: You always have all your chips, unless you sell them, but only thirty can ever be in your folder, where they can be used in combat, at any time, and there are a few simple restrictions on which can be in there at the same time.
    • The sixth game(s) arguably made the Navi Customizer easier to use by allowing blocks to extend past the edge of the "valid" field by one square. As long as a program still had one block on the standard 5x5 grid it counted, although placing any part of a program outside the grid caused bugs (which could be removed by the ever-popular BugStop program).
  • The Monster Hunter series of games has a set amount of items that you can carry to prevent you from bringing an entire arsenal into battle. It's handled pretty well, presenting the idea that you are a lone hunter (or hunters) out on a single quest that needs to use stealth and speed and not be bogged down with a kitchen sink. The use of alchemy in the game (though really it is more just combining equipment) also allows players to carry more of X than they normally would, at the cost of extra space going towards the raw materials required to make the desired item.
  • MS Saga: A New Dawn has this with its Grid Inventory system. Each mobile suit has its own personal weapon inventory. Weapons take up different amounts of space, generally matching up with their physical appearancenote . At the same time, weapons have different alignments based off of type: melee weapons are vertical while ranged weapons are horizontal, and any given MS' grid is arranged to suit its natural specialization. Thus the name of the game is virtual Tetris as you attempt to fit your desired weapons into the MS' grid.
  • Aeron's carriage bag in Pandora's Tower can initially support up to 30 items. This includes, yes, individual collectibles (so if 4 elixir potions are collected, 26 spaces remain; this differs from many other games which reserve one slot for an entire item or weapon regardless of its amount or ammunition). The bag can be expanded for a bigger capacity if the proper items are given to Elena.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Both Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door start you off with a limit of 10 usable items (not counting "Important Things"). The latter, however, lets you double your capacity with an item you find in the Pit of 100 Trials. Items may be discarded, but if you don't pick them up soon, they're subject to Everything Fades. In addition, shops let you store items in them without them fading. Those have limits, as well, but at least you may retrieve any stored item from any shop.
    • Super Mario RPG also had an inventory limit, and considering (unlike most console RPGs) each individual healing item counts as "one," your two-page limit got filled awfully fast.
    • Paper Mario: Sticker Star does this with the sticker album, which holds all the stickers used for attacks and puzzles. Thankfully, you gain new pages after each major boss battle and an auto-sort to help out.
  • Parasite Eve, Squaresoft's hybrid of a Final Fantasy-style RPG and a Resident Evil-style Survival Horror, featured a limited inventory, the necessity to simply throw important items away, incredibly long stretches where it was impossible to swap out the chosen items for those in storage, and key items which could not be discarded even when they had no more use. You could increase your carrying capacity — by leveling in inventory (in exchange for not leveling other stats instead). Some armors had the ability to increase the size of your pockets if you wore it, but if you tried to swap armor and your pockets are full, you'll have to discard some items to make room. Parasite Eve 2 separated normal items and key items into two menus. Normal items had a limit of 20. You could attach any item and weapon to your armor pockets since that became your inventory menu for battles, but doing so won't free up any space in your regular pockets. Pouch Belts increased your armor's carrying capacity by 1 and the max limit for armor pockets was 10.
  • Pokémon has gone through various stages of this.
    • Pokémon Red and Blue limited you to 20 unique items on your person, total. Pokémon Gold and Silver and Crystal introduced the bag system that separated items into different pockets according to purpose, but "normal" items still had the limit of 20. More extraneous pockets were added in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire (i.e., for berries and TMs), but by Diamond and Pearl the 20 item limit had been removed (though the pockets stayed in place). Of course, like EarthBound (1994), there was a way to store items in the PC until Diamond and Pearl, but this also filled up rather quickly. The introduction of Mons being able to hold items allows Pokemon to be stored with those items, effectively allowing hundreds more (albeit non-unique) items to be stored.
    • In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl and Platinum, there's an Underground mini-game with its own inventory, which easily fills up with spheres. However, you can bury them anywhere to get rid of them, and if you bury multiple spheres in the same place, they'll consolidate into a larger sphere that takes only a single slot.
    • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team, you had a twenty-item limit on the stuff you could take into dungeons. That's fine. You can store extra items in Kangaskhan Storage, which has infinite space. I could live with that. But then when Mystery Dungeon 2 came along, you could increase your inventory capacity from sixteen to forty. But now, there's another issue: you can run out of storage. To increase your storage place, you have to go up ranks by earning points from completed missions, but the problem is that at some point you won't be able to complete missions fast enough before you have to start cleaning out your storage. Though, it does help that 75% of all items are fairly useless, and 75% of all useful items are given to you at a much faster rate than you using them up...
  • In Recettear, you have enough space to store 20 items in the dungeon, going up to 30 and then 35 after tons of Empty Levels. While you can bring healing items and equipment with you for your adventurer, you can only temporarily lend them your equipment, so their unequipped items take up an item slot (and unfortunately, you can't let them keep new equipment unless they specifically buy them from you). Also, if you get KO'd in the dungeon, you can only bring back one item with you (2 later, and then 3 after some serious grinding). Once your inventory gets filled up, you have to decide between keeping items with immediate value or crafting components to hopefully make a bigger profit later (assuming your haul was even rewarding in the first place).
  • Riviera: The Promised Land allowed the party to carry only 20 items, with no external storage option. This limit gets especially frustrating when an item is won from almost every single battle, and almost all items have usefulness in raising character's stats. Even more frustrating in battles, when only 4 items were usable at all. On the other hand, abusing the training option enough makes it possible to ditch most weapon items since there will be stronger versions found soon anyway. The only items which should never be ditched are the Too Awesome to Use Fanelia and Longinus Lance.
  • SaGa:
    • The Final Fantasy Legend has this in spades. Your characters have their own inventories of eight slots (including equipment), as well as a common party inventory of only eight slots. Only humans can use all eight slots of their inventory; mutants already have four reserved for innate abilities, leaving the other four for items. Monsters can't hold items at all.
    • Final Fantasy Legend II is a little better. Your common inventory has 16 slots, and you can prevent mutants from learning four skills to have room for more items. Mutants arguably fit this trope in and of themselves; how many slots do you allocate each towards skills, armor, weapons, and spellbooks?
  • Suikoden was vaguely annoying in this regard. There was no party inventory; instead each of your six characters could carry eight items. This sounds generous, but about half of this would usually be taken up with multi-piece armour, because equipment counted towards this limit. It also made shopping a hassle. And two characters that each carry eight items can't even pass items between the two of them.
  • Sweet Home (1989) has inventory management as one of its signature aspects. Each character has four inventory spaces: one for a character-specific item, one for an equipped weapon, and two more for any other items they find lying around. Nearly all of the game's puzzles are item-based, requiring you to juggle both the limited inventory spaces and all five characters. Even worse, if a character dies, you have to find a replacement item for whatever their unique equipment did, eating up even more inventory space.
  • Vagrant Story had quite a limited repertoire of weapons you could carry (plain items weren't bad), making you store excess ones in "containers" which were magically linked to each other so you could pull any weapon out of any container. This wouldn't have been so bad if you couldn't do Item Crafting to change the stats of each weapon (and weapons have fifteen stats), meaning your inventory takes up a whopping three memory card saves. Every time you wanted to exchange items to/from your "saved" inventory it would take a good 15-20 seconds to save.
  • Hair-pullingly frustrating in 'Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim'', in which Adol can only bring 9 of each and any item, including your lifesaving potions. Heck, there exists a cheat simply to raise the item cap to 50!

  • The Oregon Trail (2021): All items need to be fitted inside the wagon and each item takes up a certain amount of space ranging from one square (such as herbal remedies) to 6 squares (fish), with some taking more awkward shapes though items can be rotated where need be. Also bear in mind that each type of item only goes up to a certain limit before needing to take up another slot. Items that overlap exposed squares may become damaged while no item can be placed in damaged squares at all. Players will need to rearrange their inventory and fix their wagon regularly due to them hitting rocks and whatnot.

    First Person Shooters 
  • Unusually for being an all-action FPS with no RPG features at all, Chrome and the sequel Chrome Specforce feature an extremely restrictive Tetris inventory. Not only do you get a square-based grid where to fit your guns, but the grid is split in several small spaces and ammo takes some of it too. This makes any weapon loadout different than a rifle plus a shotgun greatly impractical - simply carrying a rocket launcher and its ammo, for example, restricts the only other weapon you can possibly carry to something small like a pistol.
  • Escape from Tarkov has this trope in spades, and then some. Aside from your ever-filling Hideout inventory, you also have your on-hand equipment, each providing different amounts of spare space and slots depending on the quality of your load-bearing-vest/bags.
  • In E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy, your character has several holsters of varying size - a huge back slot for two-handed weapons, and four thigh/shoulder holsters for one-handed weapons, plus several smaller pouches for ammo and grenades. You can, for example, fit a Damocles sword and a pair of submachine guns in your back slot, but not a Damocles and a Sulfatum. Generally, the sheer weight malus imposed by large guns prevents this from being an issue, along with ammo taking up very little space. However, trying to carry around half a dozen (lightweight) weapons and their respective ammo types can require some careful inventory juggling.
  • In Marathon, you can only carry a limited amount of any item at any time (although the limits are high enough that the gameplay isn't affected and is still patently unrealistic). The limit on weapons and ammo is bypassed on the highest difficulty level, however.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.:
    • The game does this based on weight, with a 50-kg carrying limit towards which all items count. What with clothing, food, first aid kits, and radiation meds, you'll probably be unable to carry more than two or three guns, typically of the same type as what your enemies are using, since ammo has its own weight. Among other things, this means that even if you get a good gun early on, once you run out of bullets, you're better off selling or storing it and using a weaker gun with available ammo than lugging the heavier one around, and even for said weaker gun, you can't hoard all the ammo you find without resorting to dropping it off regularly. The actual inventory screen itself expands dynamically (and limitlessly) to fit everything you put into it, though, and certain armor and consumables can boost your carrying capacity. You can also cheat the threshold by a small margin (approximately 10kg), though at a stamina penalty that leaves you unable to run more than 20 meters without a stamina-enhancing artifact. The inventory system also does nothing to prevent you from overloading yourself completely, and if you don't pay attention to the numbers, you will be unable to move until you shed enough weight. The stashes themselves also have no set size limit, letting you stuff even an entire battalion's worth of guns and other supplies into a tiny toolbox or backpack. Woe be to the stalker who accidentally clicks "Take All" on a massive stash while exposed.
    • Parodied in S.T.A.C.K.E.R., a Tetris-like game based on S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and its inventory system.
    • On the other hand, if you're carrying more than two or three guns, you're engaging in Crippling Overspecialization. This mechanic is also there to promote immersion - one of your main sources of items (besides corpse looting) is looting stashes, caches of equipment that other Stalkers have hidden. Selling off excess gear is one of your main sources of money, but you'll find yourself stockpiling ammo, medicine, and possibly backup weapons in places across the map in an attempt to be Crazy-Prepared in case you find yourself bleeding to death or with a broken weapon. Congratulations, you're like a real Stalker now!
  • System Shock was the first FPS to impose fairly strict limits on inventory. of the sixteen weapons in the game, only seven can be carried at a time; grenades and consumables can be carried in unlimited quantities, but a separate inventory for other items (such as Batteries and First Aid Kits, and most puzzle items) only allow twelve at a time. The sequel, being more of an RPG/Survival Horror game than its predecessor, swaps it out for an extremely restrictive Tetris inventory.
  • Similar to System Shock 2, Prey (2017) uses a Grid Inventory with items taking up one or more squares based on their size. There is a lot of Shop Fodder, much of it is trash (banana peels, crumpled paper, cigar stubs, etc.), but this is used as fuel for the Recycler, which turns all your garbage into neat little cubes of various raw materials, which can then be re-processed into useful items. The cubes of material are themselves items in your inventory, but they take up far less space than un-processed trash.

    Massively Multiplayer Online RPG 
  • The inventory in CABAL Online uses a Grid Inventory system and certain items take up more space than a potion. Melee weapons and armor takes up the largest space while the other armor parts take up at least 4 grid spaces, requiring some creativity on how to store the items in the inventory and warehouse alongside all the potions and other important items.
  • Doubly applied in Dark Age of Camelot. Not only do you have a limited inventory, but items have weight, usually relevant to whether it's a lightweight consumable or heavy weapons or armor. Making matters worse (for some classes), your carrying capacity is based on strength, which is the same stat used for physical attacks. As a result any mage type class will be much less capable of carrying large quantities of goods than a melee class, especially relevant when crafting. Carrying too much weight, even within the bounds of your inventory capacity, snares and eventually roots the player.
  • Final Fantasy XI starts players off with only 30 inventory slots on their person and another 50 in the "Mog Safe," which is only accessible via house or nomad mogs. Both upgrade to 80 spaces through quests. Later a "Mog Locker" was added with Treasures of Aht Urghan. Personal inventory and the mog safe are both expandable (up to a point) via quests. Unfortunately equipped armour and weapons still counts against the inventory space and in the beginning severely limits the amount of loot a character can carry. This problem increases exponentially once you have multiple high-level jobs, which in many cases can require 100% gear-swaps on the fly for their maximum efficiency. There is also storage, which is extra space that can range from 0 to over 100 spaces, by stuffing the items inside furniture in your house (this includes strange places like decorative crystal eggs and lamps). The catch is that the storage is only accessible in your own house, not any of the rent-a-rooms you stay in outside of your home nation, which is painfully inconvenient if you need to change jobs and gear for an experience party on a time limit.
  • Final Fantasy XIV lets you carry 100 items, which sounds like a lot, but your slots would fill awfully fast if you didn't sell or trash items you don't use. Crafting can be a nightmare with inventory management since you need to gather quite a lot of materials and it becomes doubly true if you plan to level more than one crafting class. There's a separate inventory for gear (referred to as an armory), but the number of slots for that is determined by how many classes and jobs you unlocked so far. Retainers (NPCs that act as your personal item carrier) can carry almost twice as many items as a player character, but they don't have an armory system. You're also only allowed to have two retainers and you'll have to pay an additional fee if you want to have more retainers. Inns also have a special cabinet that lets you store irreplaceable items and there doesn't seem to be a limit to that. This became a problem for players liked to hoard gear for the purpose of glamours; even though gear can also be stored in your regular inventory, it could quickly fill up if you liked to hoard a lot of gear. Players asked the developers for bigger inventory space for years and the Stormblood update finally granted it by giving everyone 40 more slots for their inventory and several more slots for their armory/gear. Key items have their own inventory page and has nearly as much space as the regular inventory, but you'll never get it filled up since quests remove the items in question when they're needed or have no further use.
  • MapleStory has inventory limits that vary by class. Since Everything Fades (and other players can freely come and take your dropped items), this can get frustrating. Oh, and the less creative quests often require you to not only hunt 1000 monster drop items, but to hand them all in at once. So in addition to the hours and hours of grinding you need to reserve no less than five inventory spots...starting right around the time when you're high enough a level that you've amassed a full inventory of items. But never fear, as you can use real money to buy extra slots.
    • Mabinogi, another free MMORPG produced by Nexon, uses a similar grid inventory system. Since there are no character classes, inventory is identical across characters. Pets have variable inventory sizes; which, illogically, are not always dependent on the size of the pets. For example, two of the medium-sized dogs are tied for the largest inventory space; which is substantially larger than any other available pet, including Shire-type draft horses.
  • In Second Life, Rezzing (placing in-world in a usable form) can often only be done on land you own or rent. The number of items a piece of land can hold is a function of the land's size and the complexity of the items, so it becomes an Not-in-Inventory Management Puzzle, instead. ("I can put up my castle if I pack away my space-station first, or I can have both if I choose simpler furniture.")
  • Ultima Online assigns a weight to each item. Carrying too much weight makes your character's stamina decrease as he walks. When the stamina hits zero, your character can't move until his stamina slowly recharges. However, since your character could move items within several tiles with no penalties, many players simply picked up a heavy item, put it down a few tiles away, and played leapfrog with it until they reached their destination.
  • World of Warcraft limits the player to 5 bags of stuff to carry around with you. You can increase the size of your bags by buying better bags, but you eventually run into an upper limit. The frustration of this comes into play when you've got several entire sets of equipment to lug around because you might need each set for different tasks, between which you won't be able to go back to your bank (which is an additional storage area that's also limited in size by more expensive bags, but cannot be accessed except in large cities). This is frustrating because even the smallest items in the game (for instance, a single fragment of bone) takes up the same space in your bags as sword that's taller than your character. Small items can sometimes "stack" to varying degrees in one bag slot, but sometimes cannot (Warlocks can attest most loudly to this inconsistency). Changes to the mechanisms of the game over time have made this alternately better or worse. Some items such as mounts or companion pets (or keys) have their own (unlimited) storage grid and do not take up inventory space. On the down side, in an attempt to address the above Warlock problem, the game placed a hard cap on the number of shards that warlocks could carry ever, regardless of how much bag space they have free. Since a player may have up to ten characters on any single server at once (and 50 total characters per account), many players dedicate a single character on one account/server to being a bank alt, which first of all allows them to use a single character's allotment of space for pure storage, and secondly to have one character located in a city where bank and auction house are within a few seconds' walk of each other (usually Stormwind or Orgrimmar). This has been expanded upon somewhat by enterprising players who start their own guilds on bank alt characters purely to gain access to the massive (compared with individual bank space, anyway) guild bank tab system.
    • A few things have been ameliorated though over time:
      • High-capacity "soul bags" were introduced in the Burning Crusade expansion, which could hold only Soul Shards but could hold a lot more of them than a normal bag.
      • In the Cataclysm expansion, Soul Shards were removed as inventory items completely and instead became part of the UI; rather than being necessary for certain spells like Summons or Soul Fire, they enhance spells that are still castable without the shards (there's a shard limit of three).
      • In Mists of Pandaria, the Soul Shard system got slightly revamped again, being somewhat similar to the Cataclysm system except only available to Affliction Warlocks (the other two specs get new resource systems).
      • Ammunition was removed in Cataclysm. Characters that used ranged weapons (Hunters rely heavily on them, Rogues and Warriors can use them but they aren't that helpful) used to have to carry around a quiver, taking up one of the five bag slots. The quiver would hold their ammo; depending on the bag size, it could hold anywhere from 6000 to 28,000 arrows/bullets. Seems like a ton, but every single shot consumed a piece of ammo, meaning that with the smaller quivers, it was pretty easy to run out in the middle of a raid, forcing Hunters to have to manage their ammo. This was removed in Cataclysm, when it was changed so that all ranged weapons use unlimited ammo instead.
      • Furthermore, the need to carry around several different sets of gear is not nearly as prevalent as it once was. The main reason for multiple gear sets was the need for specific varieties of Spell Resistance. Normal "tank" sets are designed to reduce incoming physical damage, but certain raid bosses dealt Fire damage or Frost damage or Nature damage in melee instead. (Think of getting punched by a fire elemental.) So, traditionally, a tank character had to haul around not only his conventional (physical) tank set, but his Fire Resistance set for Molten Core, his Shadow Resistance set for heroic Mana Tombs, his Nature Resistance set for phase 1 of Hydross, his Frost Resistance set for phase 2 of Hydross, etc.. In Mists of Pandaria, spell resistance was removed from the game entirely, and no new raid bosses have been designed to do non-physical melee damage since Cataclysm.
      • In addition, gear that boosts the incorrect primary stat (intellect, agility or strength) is essentially worthless and so certain classes needed gear sets with different primary stats for different combat roles. For instance, paladins required intellect gear to heal and strength gear to do damage. Warlords of Draenor changed things so that the primary stats on pieces of armour will transform to whatever is required. The Legion expansion then eliminated primary stats on jewellery items, leaving trinkets as the only pieces of gear where the primary stats are important, and even some of these offer secondary stats only. Weapons were also tied to the available specialisations and dual weapon or weapon and shield combos were consolidated to occupy a single bag slot. Now a player can potentially do a passable job at three different combat roles whilst only requiring two spaces to hold their additional armaments.
      • Finally, several different types of high-capacity "crafting materials" bags (mining bags, leatherworking bags, gem bags, enchanting bags, engineering bags, and even cooking and fish bags) have reduced the burden of carrying around crafting mats to a small degree.
      • Warlords of Draenor finally averted some of the more painful management. Quest items are removed from bags and fun little toys and Heirlooms (but not tabards...yet, at least) are stored in a separate UI interface. Crafting items stack up 200, freeing up some much needed space for crafters. You're also able to craft items from stuff you have in your bank directly, no matter where you are, removing the need to swap the item or the bag holding them into your inventory/bag bar. It also introduced the reagents bag in banks. For 100 gold, you unlock a 100 slot bag (over triple the next largest in the game) for your bank that could hold any reagents for various professions such as herbs, ore, or food. Furthermore, the reagents bag didn't count as one of your banks seven bags.
      • The Legion expansion helped with bank storage by revamping transmogrification. Before, in order to transmog a certain item's appearance, you had to have it in your bank, bags, or void storage on that character. Legion changed so that once it was soulbound to one of your characters, all of them had access to it and you could simply sell it for gold.

    Platform Games 
  • Most Castlevania games past Symphony of the Night let you only stock 9 of one item. Harmony of Dissonance, however, lets you store up to 99 of an item. And since you can use these items at any time you have control of Juste (as opposed to having to wait your turn in RPGs), having 99 Hi-Potions can make the game damn near impossible to die in. The same is true of Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, except that with no store you had to actually farm for your pile of 99 spicy meats or whatever.

    Puzzle Game 
  • In the late 90s, some airplanes had rudimentary black-and-white video games built into the phones in each headrest. One such game was an inventory puzzler, where you had to fit various items in a suitcase, from golf balls to handguns.
  • The Flash game Help The Hero is this trope. The gameplay literally consists of managing the hero's naturally grid-based inventory.
  • Somebody out there actually made a Tetris-style game called Inventory Tetris to satirize the whole thing.
  • In Love & Pies, you can have up to 63 items on the 7x9 grid, and the primary way of clearing them is by merging them and serving them to customers. You can also store up to 30 items in the fridge, but you start with five free slots, with additional ones costing Gems, which can be bought with real money. Additionally, you can sell high-level items for a small amount of coins or throw unneeded items away.
  • There is a puzzle game called Save Room which is a direct parody of Resident Evil's item system.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • Absented Age: Squarebound: The initial inventory and storage limits are 30 items each, though the former can be expanded with a Score of Collection while the latter can be expanded in Satsuki's skill tree. However, neither limit can be increased forever, with the inventory capping out at 60 and the storage capping out at 120.
  • Angband and its variants give you 21 inventory slots in your backpack. With 99 identical items maximum per slot, you could theoretically fit in 2079 ordinary suits of plate mail, although the weight would slow you to unplayability. Since the dungeons are non-persistent, it's a good thing you have a home for permanent storage, which has glorious 42 slots. It still tends to fill up pretty quickly, though.
  • Darkest Dungeon, true to its roguelike roots, has limited inventory space. Provisioning is vitally important to surviving a dungeon run, but the more room you devote to provisioning, the less room you have for gold, treasures and trinkets which are needed to both improve the Hamlet, de-stress and improve your characters, and afford further provisions for future runs. As a result, many are the times when you will need to decide whether to drop an item of provision or loot to make room for what you've just picked up in the dungeon.
  • The Diablo series had a pretty small Grid Inventory with very few stackable items, and Diablo II adding a small trunk and Hypercube, which meant lots of trekking back and forth to sell ur lewtz (use somebody else's town portal and save scrolls!). One trick to get around this in a solo or less jerky server is to just drop things on the ground back at base (although you need to stuff everything away before logging out,) which also defangs the only real bite that the game's Death Is a Slap on the Wrist had.
    • In the original Diablo, money took space in your inventory. Sure it stacked, but the richer you were, the less room you had left in your inventory, leading many veteran Diablo players to drop off the gold they had in Tristram's town square on solo runs. Even worse, due to a glitch it became impossible to buy the best armor in the game because carrying enough gold to pay for it meant there wasn't enough room for the item itself!
    • The Lord of Destruction Expansion Pack for Diablo II turned inventory management into a legitimate part of the game with charms. Charms are magical objects of varying size that bestow their (totally cumulative) enchantments on you simply by being carried. This means that a player can choose between having more free inventory space, or having more enchantments from charms.
    • Downplayed in Diablo III. While grid inventory still exists, not only is your inventory space much larger, most equipment only take up just 2 spaces on the grid, with amulets, rings, potions and gems taking up just one — and unlike II, gems of the same type and color can be stacked, and earlier, potions worked the same way before the devs just decided to have potions be automatic.
  • DRL leaves Doomguy with 21 slots, and only ammunition stacks (and even this has a cap per slot). Soon enough, Doomguy has to consider whether to bring along more spare ammunition, medpacks or whatever else, and items left on a level are lost upon leaving. Inventory management is outright critical in Angel of Light Travel challenge, which reduces inventory size to five slots, and then there's the Archangel of Light Travel with only two slots.
  • In NetHack you have 52 inventory slots available, although identical objects stack. Players are more likely to be encumbered by the weight of the objects before they reach the inventory limit, however. Bags and other containers can store an unlimited number of items, and the Bag of Holding will even reduce the weight of the items it contains. However, removing an item from a bag takes up time during which you can be killed, and putting the wrong sort of item into a Bag of Holding will cause it to explode, destroying all the items it contained and damaging (and possibly killing) you. Or, if you're especially unlucky, you trip on the stairs while encumbered.... Nethack has persistent levels, so you can leave items on the dungeon floor and come back for them later: this is a common strategy (called caching) in the later stages of the game. However, some monsters might eat objects which are lying around, while other monsters can pick them up and use them against you....
  • Omega Labyrinth Life only has 30 permanent inventory slots, where the only thing that stacks are (identified) projectiles. You can attempt to expand this using purses, but they can rip apart, be stolen, or blocked from use. To encourage this, many items are single-use only.
  • Ragnarok only allows you to carry a finite amount of items and weight, though you can carry more if you can find a red bag, which gives you an extra 127 slots and makes items weightless when they are within the bag.
  • The dungeons in Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale invoke this. Fortunately any dropped item is recoverable (until you leave that level), so some swapping is possible.
  • Spelunky allows you to only keep one item in your hands at a time. Sounds fair. However, you can only "store" bombs, flares, and ropes, meaning if you want both the Shotgun and the Gold Idol, you have to do some juggling back and forth. And God help you if it's a dark level and you need to use your flare too... However, it should be noted that items you wear (shoes, gloves, glasses, the cape or jetpack, the parachute) and a few other special items (the ankh and the Hedjet Eye) are "equipped" and take up no inventory space, as opposed to the "carried" items you can only have one of. And the game won't even stop you from wearing both gloves or both shoes at the same time.
  • Warcraft III has six inventory spaces per hero, with three heroes allowed. The expansion had an upgrade that allowed regular units to carry two items each (but not use them).

  • Backpack Hero's premise is that inventory management is just as important as actually fighting enemies. The protagonist has a magical backpack which grows in size every level they gain, and certain items will boost the effects of others or only function if they're in a specific part of the backpack. Holding onto items that synergize together will vastly increase the character's survivability.
  • In Dicey Dungeons, the contestants, except for the Witch and Jester, each have a backpack with a 4x5 grid and a combat inventory with a 3x2 grid. Most equipment take up a 1x1 space, but some of the stronger weapons take up a 1x2 space instead. It takes some rearrangement to optimize your hand in combat if you're carrying 1x2 equipment on you, but a few of them such as Counterfeit, Hammer, Electromagnet, Crystal Sword, Rusty Sword, Screwdriver, Befuddle, Hi-Vis Jacket, and Gemstone Staff can be upgraded to take up half the space. If you're carrying too much equipment, you'll be forced to throw away one of three randomly picked ones from your inventory or hand.
  • The various Best Way World War II RTS games, the most famous being Men of War and its sequels and spinoffs, gives the soldiers and vehicles grid-based inventories that all items are placed on. This allows for soldiers to pick up and swap items and even salvage ammo from disabled vehicles (or take the machine gun off of a vehicle and use it on foot).

    Simulation Game 
  • In the Animal Crossing games you can only carry 15 items, you are free to set things down wherever you like, and Nothing Fades (although you have to watch out for Lost & Found making off with them). However, the game features additional storage "slots" in the form of letters and the letter-saving system, resulting in a lot of present-swapping for item hoarders. New Horizons did improve on this, letting you carry 40 items at once and implementing the Storage Shed item in the 2.0 update. It links to home storage and can be carried in your inventory til you need to set it down and put stuff away. Fish bait making still annoys players though because Manila clams don’t stack and you’re forced to keep digging up more to craft a good supply of bait.
  • The Harvest Moon games are notorious for this:
    • In the very first one, you can only have two tools equipped at a time... and you can only ever carry ONE item, which made harvesting and gift-giving a real pain in the ass sometimes.
    • It didn't get much better from there. Harvest Moon 64 both provided you with, at the most, 8 slots in your rucksack... and items didn't stack.
    • In Harvest Moon: Back to Nature, you start off with a 4-slot rucksack (with two extra slots for an equipped tool and an item to carry), technically, you end up with 16 slots - eight for tools, eight for items.
    • Harvest Moon: Magical Melody starts you off with only 5 slots. You can upgrade to 15, and items don't stack there either. Plus, tools and regular items don't have separate slots. You get 15 slots, period. And you run slower when you're carrying items.
    • Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life averts this. Your player character starts with the staggering amount of 280 slots for items, right from the start. All the slots allow you to carry and stack all kinds of items, and even in the case you need extra space, you have another 500 slots between your fridge and your toolbox.
  • MechWarrior 3 is a Behind the Lines mission. Three destructible, unarmed vehicles, each can carry 2 mechs and 300 tons of equipment - and that includes armor and ammo.

    Strategy RPG 
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light has a very clunky inventory system where units can only hold 4 items for unit, as opposed to at least 5 items in later games. In addition, trading can only be done by the initiator, will end the unit's turn, and preparation does not allow swapping items around, so trading and inventory management must be done during a battle.
    • Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War: Due to there being no trading, have to sell your items and then buy them back at double the price if you want to pass them around between units.
    • Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade: It's very annoying in Lyn's story and the early chapters of Eliwood/Hector story as any excessive item is dropped forever so you have to be careful with unit's inventory. Merlinus doesn't show up until you complete a gaiden chapter, and even longer if you didn't, where any items dropped will be sent to the convoy but only if he's in the map.
    • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance: Like Blazing Blade, any excessive items will be dropped and vanished until you are given a base, which is only available at Chapter 8. And since this game uses the Mystery of the Emblem inventory (where each unit have 4 items for weapons and items), it is likely that one of those will get filled up. Its sequel is unlikely to face this problem due to units having 8 items in their inventory.
  • Disgaea had a pretty large inventory limit, but as the game tended to give you many items for winning battles, as well as plenty of reasons to keep old items such as raiding them for specialists and keeping a lot of Gency's Exits on hand, it could fill up fast. Thankfully, a clever person could make a good 100 dummy generics to use their three slots each to hold extra items.
    • Disgaea also divides your loot into stuff in your "Item Warehouse", which is very big, and your "Item Bag", which is smaller. Your bag is what you take into battle, so you need to use that space for things you will actually require in battle, like power-ups. The warehouse is more for long term storage and inventory overflow.
    • Disgaea 1 had a measly 16 slots for your Item Bag, with Disgaea 2 upping it to 24 slots. Disgaea 3 and 4 allowed for up to 32 slots, with Disgaea 4's remake upping it to 64. Disgaea Dimension 2 did away with the separation, allowing you to hold up to 999 items at once. Disgaea 5 went further, capping your items at 2000.
  • If you want to farm for items in The Final Fantasy Legend, be prepared to create a ton of level 1 generics to use as mules.
  • Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber, a unit could only carry up to ten consumable items. This doesn't seem so bad, except for the fact that units can be made of five characters, which averages to two items per character. To make matters worse, when a unit travels on a stage, a meter that measures fatigue fills up rather quickly. There are special items can be used to lower fatigue, but they take up item slots that could be used for healing items. This is nothing to say about the cost of the items relative to the amount of money you receive in this game.
  • In the Genesis Shining Force games, each character is limited to four items. Including their weapon (there's no armor in either game) and their magic ring if they're using one. Fortunately, the first game allows you to store stuff in your Headquarters, and the second game lets you store items in the Caravan once you're about a third of the way into the game.

    Survival Horror 
  • Dead County: The delivery man has only four inventory slots. If it's full, he needs to drop something to pick up something else.
  • Kuon averts the trope as well. It has a limited inventory... but it's limited to the exact amount of items that can be picked in the game. Gameplay-wise, it's a handy meter for measuring how far you're into the game.
  • This feature is core to most Resident Evil games. The "survival" in Resident Evil's "survival horror" comes in the form of managing increasingly limited resources used for increasingly low-reward fights, with the inventory restriction ensuring that you never have access to as many resources as you'd like.
    • In Resident Evil, you need to reserve inventory space just to save your game, as the typewriter ribbons used to do so take up space. This is alleviated somewhat by item boxes, which allow excess items to be stored and retrieved from any other box... However, in the Updated Re-release, there is a mode that makes those footlockers act like real life ones, taking away the advantage and making the player run all the way back to the first footlocker if that's where they left all the important equipment.
    • Resident Evil 4 changes the system somewhat by giving the player unlimited space for treasures and key items; it's only weapons, ammunition and health items that go in the player's manageable inventory. On top of that, the manageable inventory is changed from half a dozen or so discrete item slots into a grid made of small square, with different items taking up different areas of squares based on size and shape. An herb, for example, is only two squares, while a pistol might by take up a 2x3 rectangular area and shotgun 2x8. Occasionally, you end up having to reorganize your inventory to consolidate the empty space, especially when making room for something large like a new gun or a Too Awesome to Use single-shot rocket launcher.
    • Resident Evil 5 replaces 4's inventory system with an AI switch-and-match system adapted from the Resident Evil: Outbreak spin-off series, wherein all items take one inventory space on a 3x3 grid. Unlike previous games, entering your inventory doesn't pause the game, and you can still be attacked mid-inventory management, emphasizing the game's action-horror nature. This, in turn, leads to another item management puzzle from the fact that four of the item slots can be assigned to shortcuts on the D-pad for quick access - do I want grenades on that button, or should I put an herb there?
    • Resident Evil – Code: Veronica smooths out inventory puzzles by allowing the player to mix an herb from the inventory with an herb lying on the ground, as opposed to forcing you to pick it up before mixing them (requiring you to always have at least one empty item slot). On the other hand, the game switches between Chris and Claire a few times (with no prior notice), and the player is locked out of the preceding character's personal inventory until they become playable again.
    • Resident Evil 0 does away with item boxes, but doesn't need them as much, both because the player controls two characters and because the game allows the player to place items in any room and pick them back up later. This allows players to do things like drop an item, pick up an herb, mix the herb with another already in inventory, then pick the item back up.
  • Rule of Rose averts this beautifully. You can drop anything, anytime, anywhere, and it'll wind up in Jennifer's storage bin, of which there are several and all of which are magically connected. Essentially, you can discard items without actually losing them.
  • Shivers (1995), by Sierra, limited inventory to one item. The only takeable items were a set of canopic jars used to contain evil spirits, so the general pattern of the game was "Find a jar. Find the matching lid (A jar and lid counted as a single item). Find the matching evil spirit." Not bad given the setup, but, since the jars and lids were randomly distributed, and approaching an evil spirit with the wrong jar led to them being re-shuffled, the game involved a lot of wandering around to find a matching set.
  • Famously averted in the Silent Hill series, which allowed you to carry infinite items... at least until Silent Hill 4: The Room came out and imposed an inventory limit. Origins and Homecoming both followed suit.
  • In Unturned, you start the game butt naked with four inventory slots during the Zombie Apocalypse. A can of soda weighs less than a Timberwolf sniper rifle but takes the same amount of inventory space. Finding a backpack is critical, and even then you'll quickly run out of space with the sheer amount of supplies in the game. Especially when trying to craft, as a handful of screws takes the same inventory space as a assembled wooden door.

    Turn-Based Tactics Games 
  • 7.62mm High Caliber has a variety of backpacks, tactical vests, and belts (with optional ammo packs that can be attached to some of them) that can be worn by mercs, all with their own unique grid system to represent differing sizes and shapes of pockets. The Blue Sun mod adds even MORE equipment in this category, and it's not uncommon for the inability to turn items to lead to players scratching their heads and going "But the pocket is the same size as the item, so why can't I just turn the damn cleaning kit and stuff it in the other way?"
  • Gungnir is an odd case. While there's no inventory limit itself and characters can hold up to five pieces of gear in battle (which is enough), there's a weight system applied to everything, with stronger equipment typically weighing more. It's particularly jarring when a bikini that weighs more than a suit of armour.
  • Jagged Alliance imposes a general limitation on the equipment each merc can carry: several slots on the backpack, a number of smaller slots to represent pockets, load-bearing gear, and belts, and a few slots on the head for headgear like sunglasses or night-vision goggles. There's also armor slots for vests, helmets, and pants, and two slots for your hands. In practical terms, this limits each merc to only a couple of primary weapons, a knife, a sidearm, a first aid kit or two, and whatever specialist gear they carry like toolkits, medical kits, or heavy weaponry. The v1.13 mod, however, takes this to a whole 'nother level, as part of your equipment includes an array of load-bearing vests, backpacks, and leg panels, each of which has various numbers of various kinds of pockets and pouches for holding a wide range of gear. Load-bearing gear ranges from the cheap, light, and limited (i.e. standard-issue LBE, hunter's vests, and police vests) to the versatile (Tactical Tailor vests with many pouches, or Russian military vests carrying lots of assault rifle pouches) to the specialized (panels designed to hold odd-shaped magazines or rifle grenades, medical pouches, grenade pouches, SAW gunner vests, etc). You can even mount large backpacks able to hold a wide range of gear, but they slow you down, prevent climbing/vaulting, and retrieving items from them in combat requires you to stop and unzip it. You can alternately just drop the bag at the start of combat and move freely, assuming you didn't need what was in the bag, turning your accessible inventory into another tactical decision.
  • The X-COM games gave each soldier a backpack, belt, shoulder and thigh straps, and two hands to hold their gear. Each location had a differently sized grid and varying TU costs to move to other locations. Then you had to factor in equipment weight (armour is curiously weightless) and its effect on stamina. Oh, and programming limitations only allowed you to bring 80 pieces of gear on a mission. This counts guns and magazines separately. The 80 item limit is egregious on base defense missions, when the available equipment is selected from the base's stores. If you've got a big pile of Earth weapons still, you won't be using your Heavy Plasmas. Or worse, a lot of clips but no weapons!

    Western RPG 
  • In AdventureQuest, you can only carry 8 weapons (the 1st of which is a default weapon, and can only be temporarily changed in certain quests or replaced by guardian equipment), 8 armors (same thing) 8 pets, 8 spells and 8 shields. Normally this isn't too much of a problem, since there are only 8 elements, and potions can be refilled between battles at almost any time (quests excluded). Plus the inventory can be increased by buying property.
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura combined weight limits with a Grid Inventory that almost made sense: Armour, large weapons (bows, rifles, swords, etc.), sheet metal, and the like were very large; gems, ammunition, and grenades were very small. And there were a lot of chests where loads of extra items could be stored securely indefinitely. Of course, hiking back to get those items is a real pain unless you're a mage and can teleport.
  • Most of BioWare's RPGs feature this to an extent. The Infinity Engine generation (Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale etc.) were the worst offenders, with Neverwinter Nights mostly getting around it through Bags of Holding (that's not to say it wasn't a problem there either). The games' inventory system featured a Grid Inventory; every item took up one slot, and there were sixteen slots. In addition, every item had a weight, and the "good" items tended to be the heaviest as well.
    • Baldur's Gate I isn't paused in the item screen. So you have to do inventory management in safe areas, and good luck actually using one of the items they want you to use unless you have it in a quick use slot. The sequel added container items such as gem bags and scroll boxes (and eventually even all-purpose Bags Of Holding), which allow the player to compress their respective item types into a single inventory slot, as such items take up much less space than a sword. It is also worth noting that in addition to having a slot based inventory, each item also has its own weight, with the upper weight limit defined by each characters' respective strength attribute.
    • What's perverse about the Infinity Engine is that gems, which in tabletop, pencil-and-paper Dungeons & Dragons, are primarily useful to characters precisely as a way of carrying a lot of wealth in a small, light-weight form, take up an inventory slot and weigh you down, whereas cash apparently has no mass or volume. So you can carry an infinite number of gold coins, but only a very limited number of gems or pieces of jewelry. It will pretty quickly stop being worth your while to bother with any but the most valuable gems and pieces of jewelry.
    • The console versions of Mass Effect have an inventory limit of 150 items, which is about 10 times more than you'll ever need since items equipped on a character don't count and there are no non-equippable items. While the item limit is certainly higher than a player would need, the system still has its share of other management issues. For example, if you open an item container with a full inventory, you are forced to reduce all the items inside into omni-gel, since you can't pick them up. The option of leaving them there or destroying some of the items in your inventory instead is not available. As well, just navigating the inventory interface is a hassle, requiring the player to jump about comparing items to make sure that each party member has the best equippment available. Still, when the inventory system was discarded in the sequel, there were many angry cries of throwing babies out with dirty bathwater.
    • Knights of the Old Republic had a practically infinite Hyperspace Arsenal, and the inventory was shared between all characters at all times (except one point where the party is captured.)
    • The "Infinity" gameworlds are persistent, leaving items, doors and other objects exactly as you last see them (even inside a thieves' guild), except that some major game events can be done by swapping the old "map" of an area for a slightly different one. Your dropped items still exist, but in an un-place that is no longer accessible.
    • Dragon Age: Origins has a completely arbitrary limit on the number of items you can carry (or stacks of items, in the case of single-use things like salves and whatnot). You simply can't pick up any more items if your inventory is full. The limit can be raised to roughly twice the starting one by buying backpacks.
    • Dragon Age II has the same thing. While inventory's a bit easier to handle now that only Hawke can equip most pieces of armor (apart from rings, necklaces, and belts), it still fills up pretty quickly. Perhaps the most annoying bit is that randomly found rings, necklaces, and belts with randomly generated stats won't show you their stats until you put them in your inventory, meaning that with a full inventory, you either have to ignore the items, or discard your own items, which sucks when it turns out that the piece you picked up has worse stats than anything you have equipped. It does have one advantage - much of the Shop Fodder you pick up is marked as such, and sorted into a separate category in your bag. If you find yourself short of space, tossing all the stuff in there can be helpful, as most of it rarely sells for much and has literally no in-game use besides hocking it for pennies.
  • Borderlands has this, though this is definitely an encouragement to travel light more than anything. Any item takes one slot, you can get up to 42 in one playthrough via upgrades, and as you don't need many weapons or health kits for efficient combat, the surplus is always loot. And since so much of the guns you pick up are cheap...
    • One of the DLC provides a place to stash any loot that's cramping your style in one very specific location, accessible only by Global Airship. Yeah, stash your loot...or, as the menu for this function says, "Store your crap!" Rare is the player that ever uses more than the four guns you can equip at one time anyway.
  • Castle of the Winds somewhat averts this as the player is limited by both weight and bulk (with each piece of equipment having a specific amount of weight and size). Thus you could carry lots of potions and magic rings, but only a few suits of armor (the carrying case could also be swapped for larger ones). In addition, it's also possible to set down any equipment on the floor at any place, and no one will steal them (not even the Sneaking Thief). Keep in mind this game came out in 1989.
  • Divinity II: Ego Draconis lets you carry 100 items (or stacks of up to 50 identical items) completely regardless of your strength, and you can extend it by spending skill points. Also, you cannot drop items (even though there are items on the ground you can pick up) nor can you put things back into containers; your only option is to destroy an item to make room. There is a roomy chest for storing stuff in the Battle Tower, but that isn't available until fairly long into the game. Curiously, the prequels (Divine Divinity and Beyond Divinity) had standard item weight and a persistent world where you could drop stuff wherever you wanted.
  • Dungeon Siege doesn't even try to hide how cruel it is with this trope. Rather than giving you any way to expand the inventory of your characters, it lets you sacrifice a party slot for a pack mule that has a bigger inventory but cannot fight or level up. The expansion alleviated this somewhat with the introduction of inventory-expanding backpacks (then how were you carrying everything before?). However the "Transmute" spell alleviates this somewhat - you can transmute most items to gold for a percentage loss in value compared to selling them direct. Unfortunately you are not guaranteed to find the spell before your inventory maxes out.
  • The Elder Scrolls series games have a character weight limit, known as "Encumbrance". Included toward this limit are any items you have equipped (weapons, armor, clothing, etc.) as well as any in your inventory. Each game has its own quirks (noted below), but in general, going over the limit means that you won't be able to carry anything more and may no longer even be able to move. This limit can be increased by boosting your Strength or by using certain spells, such as Feather, which decreases your current carry weight.
    • In Daggerfall, once you've reached your encumbrance limit, you cannot add any further items to your inventory. Items can be dropped onto the ground, where they will appear as generic "treasure piles", but these treasure piles will vanish when you load a new area. Daggerfall also includes items such as a horse and cart to increase your treasure-carrying capacity (though, ironically, you keep the cart and horse in your inventory). Additionally, you can purchase a house or a boat which retain any dropped treasure piles within. However, any dropped money will still be gone forever (but you can put that into a bank and receive bills of credit which you can keep).
    • In Morrowind, going over the encumbrance limit means that you will no longer be able to move. Unlike Daggerfall, dropped items will remain in place indefinitely, allowing you to come back for them if need be. (The X-Box version will spawn an "overflow loot bag" once 256 items have been placed in a single cell. This limit is increased to 1024 items on PC, though even then, the bag may not spawn.) Barring a few notable exceptions, containers also never respawn, meaning any items you place within are safe. However, items left in corpses will vanish along with the corpses once the corpses despawn, which takes about three in-game days. Also similar to Daggerfall, you can build a stronghold through the Great House questlines which will act as your own personal fortress/Superhero Trophy Shelf. Further, while going over the encumbrance limit prevents you from moving, there is no limit to the actual amount of items you can pick up. You can, for example, place thousands of pounds of items in a spot where you can reach all of them. Pick them up and, while you won't be able to physically move, you can still cast an Intervention or Recall spell, allowing you to teleport to a predetermined location. All of the items you are carrying will come with you.
    • In Oblivion, like Morrowind, going over the encumbrance limit means that you will no longer be able to move. You can, however, still ride a horse. Additionally, with a high enough skill level in the specific armor types, your armor will no longer count toward your encumbrance limit. It is also possible to buy houses where an near-infinite amount of items can be stored indefinitely. Outside your houses there are other containers, but many of them reset after several in-game days. Items can also be dropped on the ground, where they disappear after several in-game weeks. NPCs can also take items if you leave them on the ground or stored the in containers in their vicinity. Lastly, it's possible to carry around a single item outside your inventory, which doesn't count towards your encumbrance.
    • In Skyrim, you are no longer unable to move if overencumbered. Instead, you simply move very slowly and (unless you have a specific perk) cannot fast travel while overencumbered. Like Oblivion, you can also still ride a horse if you're overencumbered. The encumbrance limit includes everything the player is wearing, unless they have either the Steed Stone blessing or a perk. You can store items indefinitely in any of the houses you can buy, and can store items in the inventory of your owned horses and/or followers, such as your Housecarls. You can put stuff in containers outside of your home, or drop them on the ground, but they will disappear after a time and can be picked up by NPCs. Active quest items do not count towards your encumberance.
  • In Everquest 2, not only are you physically limited to the amount of slots you have for inventory, each item has a specific weight and the amount that you can carry is restricted to a factor of your current strength; carrying more slows down your movement speed. Therefore, in the early stages of your character you are severely limited to what you can carry, but after enough levels you'll be able to carry six steel strongboxes and several dozen suits of armor with little difficulty.
  • In Fallout 3, there is a limit on how much you can carry in total. With the right perk, a character can carry 300 pounds without being hindered, roughly 200 of which will be free after counting armor and weapons. Weapons and armor are naturally very heavy items, but ammo and various healing items are weightless. Random stuff used for making new weapons and all food-related items have a small weight; however, this adds up quickly. If you exceed your carrying capacity, you can no longer run, jump, or use fast travel (warping) until you've gotten rid of the excess weight. Of course, you can always just leave the items in a safe place, warp back home to offload some stuff, then come back to grab the rest and repeat as necessary. You can also take some Buffout.
    • One side-effect of Fallout 3's Breakable Weapons mechanic is that it actually helps to ease the strain of inventory management, since with a high enough Repair skill you can cannibalize weapons and armor to repair similar weapons and armor. Why carry around 5 crappy 10mm pistols when you can combine them into one good pistol that not only weighs less and has better stats, but could theoretically sell for even more than the 5 crappy pistols would?
    • Earlier titles had an inventory weight limit based on your strength, and it could also be increased with certain perks. Drugs and money were weightless, but ammo had a weight by 'clip,' which was an arbitrary number of rounds completely unrelated to the actual magazine size of any weapon. Party members can be used as mules and you also get a car with a very large but still finite trunk. Items dropped on maps generated for random encounters are lost forever upon leaving the encounter, but items on permanent maps (like towns) will persist for quite some time.
    • Fallout: New Vegas, sharing the GameBryo engine with Morrowind and Fallout 3, continues the trend and adds Item Crafting, which uses items to create ammo and consumables ("How many duct tapes did I need to make the weapon repair kit?"). The optional "Hardcore" mode adds, among other things, weight to your ammunition, with values from 0 (BBs) to 5 (mini nukes). Fortunately, you can still use your party members as pack mules.
    • Fallout 76'' continues the trend, but since it's an online game, you can't store limitless amounts of stuff in safe containers. You're now limited to a single stash box that shares a cloud-based inventory with all stash boxes in the wasteland. The box holds a static amount of weight, more than your possible maximum but not so much that you can afford to stash everything.
  • The Gold Box Dungeons & Dragons computer games let you carry a limitless amount of equipment, as long as you stayed under your weight limit, which was determined by your strength score. Interestingly, the only consequence of carrying too much weight was that your movement rate in combat fell, so as long as you were willing to move like a snail while fighting, you could carry as much as you liked. Money also had weight in those games, so it limited how much cash you could carry; you could buy jewels as a light-weight way of storing cash, but you always took some loss in resale. Also, some locations had vaults that would store money for you, but you had to pay a fee for the service.
  • Might and Magic VI - VIII suffered from this to some degree. In each game each person has a separate Grid Inventory which gets filled quickly during dungeon raids, especially if enemies in question drops frequently armor, and especially in VI that had bigger dungeons. It did have way to counteract it ... with an endgame spell which would turn item to gold with a permanent loss to value (and corresponding magic school had to be mastered, which was not an easy task). VII had at least chests once you fixed your castle that would never reset and a Town Portal spot right there, making for an easy way to stash your stuff. VIII had it worst, since unlike in the other games there are quests requiring drops from enemies which would fill your inventory blindingly fast. Another matter were the quest items which you had to take, and one of them was a sarcophagus that took half of inventory of your party member, meaning you had to give all long weapons to someone else or ditch them.
  • In Murkons Refuge, each party member has a 9-item limit, meaning that your party can have space for 9, 18, 27, 36, 45, or 54 items. You really do feel the crunch when you have to carry several key items, especially if you want the free inn services in the first town throughout the entire game rather than having your home base be one of the later towns where you have to pay.
  • Amulets & Armor had a fairly generous five pages of 2D inventory slots, and some items even stacked. It quickly stops looking so generous, when you realize you can only buy/sell things at the end of missions (not levels!) and the game doesn't pause, making inventory management more about quickly grabbing items than carefully packing them. It doesn't help you to be able to stuff twenty more arrows into your inventory when you'll just get killed because you can't find your wand before you're eaten by a dragon.
  • The Siege of Avalon anthology has a grid system, and allows items to be dropped and left perfectly safely, except that at some points in the game, certain areas are replaced with similar or identical areas and all items in the originals are lost. The grid inventory is also in the treasure chests and party members, and is in fact the main reason to take others with you. Oddly, bodies do not fade away, but items can be taken off them but not put on them, which often leads to dead enemies lying on the ground with no pants on or even stripped entirely and left naked. For the rest of the game or until the aforementioned map switches. Which only affect about six areas anyway.
  • Averted in Stonekeep. Collected items are stored as pictures on a magical scroll from which they can be retrieved at any time, allowing the player to carry as much as they want.
  • In Ultima VI, items weigh a certain amount of stones, with maximum carrying capacity determined by strength, so the stronger characters would carry more stuff. Container items weigh a certain amount, and carry more items. Opening a container or looking in a corpse while it is on the world map will reveal the items found within, stacked on top of each other, which can be picked up or moved aside. Moving items in inventory is more convenient, while moving items on the map means there is no dealing with weight.
  • Ultima VII and Ultima VII Part II did this in an interesting way. Besides the standard numerical weight and size limits, the size of an object's sprite factored in. Inventory was not handled as a list or even a grid, but a huge pile of sprites that could be dragged freely around the (2-dimensional) interior of a container. The Inventory Management Puzzle was less Tetris and more Eye Spy.
  • In Wizardry 8 there's even "max items per slot" property for each item in ruleset. But sometimes it's disproportional, as 100/slot for arrows and any other ammo vs. 1/slot or 5/slot for small flasks and sometimes it's just puzzling: Ale is 1/slot, though it looks like the same yellow bottle and weights the same 0.2 lbs as most booze (and Potions of Stamina) that usually are 5/slot. Note that in Wizardry 8, each character had a limited inventory, while the party had (barring encumbrance) unlimited inventory space. While there's some degree of Fridge Logic inherent in this, it still makes more sense then many other examples here.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Minecraft, from which Terraria's inventory is derived, has even fewer slots—36, with 9 comprising the "hotbar" for whatever you're currently using—and most items only stack to 64, after which they take up another slot. This technically means you can carry around absurd amounts of material but, ironically, is also very limiting. Sure, you can carry 64 cubic meters of stone in one slot, but a single stick also takes up an entire slot. Updates to the game have added more and more varieties of items, without increasing the inventory space. You can throw away stuff you don't want... literally, by tossing it back into the overworld, where you may accidentally pick it up again (many players keep a puddle of lava handy to incinerate unwanted junk). Be prepared to spend a lot of time backtracking to your base to offload stuff into chests.
    • Later updates added a few things to help players manage carrying large amounts of items:
      • First was the Ender Chest, which has a 27-slot inventory that is "shared" between all other Ender Chests. With this, you can throw a bunch of items into an Ender Chest down in a mine or far away from your base, then just retrieve them from another Ender Chest at your base without having to make multiple trips. Each player has their own Ender Chest inventory as well, so there's no need to worry about someone else stealing your items from inside in multiplayer.
      • Later on, the Shulker Box was added. Shulker Boxes also have the standard 27 slots of a single chest; unlike a standard chest, however, a Shulker Box will keep its inventory when it's broken and picked up, allowing you to carry 27 slots' worth of items with a single inventory space.
  • Terraria: You can only carry 41 items (51 for 1.2 PC) at a time (by using the trash as a slot), and those items are divided into stacks of varying size (250 for blocks [999 for certain items in 1.2 PC] and 99 for torches, just to name a couple). This means you have to manage your inventory carefully if you plan to go digging for treasure, and you'll have to backtrack often to unload items once you invariably run out of room. On the plus side, there are a great many chests scattered around the world, enough that you won't have to throw anything worthwhile away (and in the unlikely event you don't have enough, you can always craft more with some wood and iron). The vendors can also be used to offload some of the loot, while many players carry a piggy bank around with them to use as storage, bag of holding style. The much more expensive safe and the end-game Defender's Forge can add even more space.


  • The system is used in the post-apocalyptic Freeway Warrior series by the same author, with the additional rule that you lose stealth if you have more items. Oddly, you aren't able to store excess items in the car you spend most of your time driving.
  • The Lone Wolf gamebook series lets you have 8 backpack items and around 12 Special Items. It can get really hard to decide what to throw out, especially when you continue and find out that one of the things you threw out, thinking it was useless, is for a puzzle in the current book which you now can't do. Thankfully, some Special Items don't count toward your 12-item limit (for example, a sheath that hides the Sommerswerd from evil eyes), and while Meals count toward Backpack inventory, learning Hunting allows you to leave them behind entirely for most areas. You can also store items for safekeeping between books.
  • Some books in the Time Machine gamebook series allow you to choose an item to take with you to the past. So, you can take a tiny compass... a tiny lockpick... OR a huge unwieldy scary mask, but only ONE of these. (And heaven help you if you choose the wrong one.)
  • Wizards, Warriors and You: The Warrior is limited to carrying only three other weapons, alongside his trademark Sword of the Golden Lion. In some titles, you need the correct weapons in order to advance or even win, and there's no indication of which weapons are the right ones until you've died for not having them. (Or died because you did have them.)

    Tabletop Games 
  • A Touch of Evil: Heroes are restricted to one Item or Ally card per Location deck, plus three Items and/or Allies from non-Location deck sources. However, some Event cards allow restricted expansions to how much you can have, and a few Items explicitly state that they don't count against your carrying limit.
  • Dungeons & Dragons mostly gets by with a weight limit determined by your strength (and a few factors like your race's size and number of legs) and some common sense from the DM ("No you can't pick up the castle and bring it with you, I don't care how many 1 copper-piece-a-day hirelings you can afford"). D&D is also the Trope Namer for Bag of Holding, which is bigger on the inside and reduces the weight of everything within.
  • The roleplaying game Paranoia sometimes plays with this by giving the PCs an impractically large amount of assigned equipment, which they have to take with them (or suffer hefty punishment for abandoning it). In the sample mission in the 2nd edition rulebook, the warehouse staff (having heard a treasonous rumor that the PCs are being sent on a doozy of a deathtrap mission) gleefully unload all the crap taking up valuable warehouse space, including thousands of ball bearings, a 1000-kilogram Teela-O-MLY statue, a firkin of neutronium...

  • Homestuck: In a parody of video game inventories, a lot of thought appears to have gone into making the inventory mechanics as complicated as possible; characters "captchalogue" (pick up) items that are stored in not-wholly-corporeal inventory stacks called "sylladexes", which tend to have very complex conditions and limitations controlling how and when stored items can be accessed. Rules for which item a character can use vary depending on how many items they've picked up before or after the one they want to use, where the item falls in alphabetical order in relation to the other ones, or whether a value calculated by the number of consonants and vowels in the word matches the same value for the verb you want to use with the item, depending on the "fetch modus" used. Items forced out of the inventory system due to lack of space tend to shoot out with enough force to break or maim whatever is in their path, which has been used to great effect in Strife.
    • John's, Rose's, and Dave's Fetch Modi (Stack/Queue, Tree, Hash, and Array) are all based on computing data structures.
      • Stack: John's first Modus, which uses a FILO system — the topmost, most recently stored item is the only one accessible. Often, he has to captchalogue useless items just to get the item he actually wants to use out of his sylladex so he can captchalogue it again and then use it.
      • Queue: John's second Modus, which is the exact opposite of Stack — only the item at the end can be accessed, and to get something out you have to cycle it through to the end of the queue.
      • Tree: Rose's Modus. It stores things in a binary tree-like structure. If she removes the item in the root card, it drops the whole tree. She later switches it to let her access the leaf cards as well.
      • Hash Map: Dave's Modus. It stores things based on the letters in the item's name. For example, the way he has it configured when it is introduced has 10 cards numbered 0 through 9. Each item goes into a slot determined by an equation; the first one we see is "Count every vowel in the name as 1 and every consonant as 2. Add up the letters in the name, and then modulo 10 to find the card number". In addition, when he captchalogues two things with the same slot, the first one is ejected out at high speed. He eventually has to start renaming objects to put them in different slots.
      • Array: John's third Modus, which was a birthday present. It allows him to access any card at any time. However, he views this as boring and is also frustrated that he can't weaponize it (in his previous Modi, captchaloguing more items than he can hold would eject one) and thus arranges his cards into an array of four "queuestacks" which act like a queue or a stack depending on what he needs.
    • Jade's Fetch Modi are instead based on various popular Board Games, such as Jenga, Memory, and Pictionary. She deserves special mention since she figures out how to use the Pictionary Modus to trick the system into giving her free items — by drawing something that she doesn't have, she creates a sort of "ghost" item that can't be used but which retains the captcha codes all filled storage cards have, which she can then use to create real items.
    • The trolls' assorted modi are every bit as weird, including "encryption" (you have to decode it to get the item back), "chastity" (you'll coincidentally find the key to unlock it when the time is right), "ouija" (you get an item based on the whim of the spirits), "miracle" (so complex that getting anything out is a miracle) and "scratch and sniff" (exactly what it sounds like and is one of the most logical in the whole adventure: you pick a card and sniff it to learn what it actually holds. The catch is that its user is blind and that is exactly how she would see the contents anyway. A modus that seems whimsical and quirky but is actually logical also befits her character.)
    • Most blatantly, Jake English has the "Puzzle" modus, which functions like a Grid Inventory. Items are turned into cards of various sizes which must be rearranged to fit.
    • Subsequently, we get the Juju modus, which is shared between two people — each player's inventory can only be accessed by the other. This would normally be incredibly handy, except that the two people in question hate each other with a passion and as a result the inventory ends up closer to a garbage can than anything useful.
    • The punchline to the whole mess is the fetch modus used by John's dad — the Wallet Modus, which makes your entire inventory convenient and available at all times. While it would be semi-puzzly on the basis that item cards vary in size based on actual size of the item (which most other modi ignore), it is also rendered moot on the basis of available space being ludicrously huge. The only thing that came close to filling it up was a planet's core.
    • In Homestuck's predecessor, Problem Sleuth, the characters have a four-slot inventory, with one slot for a weapon and sometimes some special slots for places such as keeping something under your hat. In the Homestuck intermission, the Midnight Crew have a similar system — only they have one inventory slot and four weapon slots. It doesn't make it any harder for them, because their sole inventory slot is constantly occupied by a stack of cards... which morphs into a big chest, wardrobe or the like at the moment it's needed. Individual items also can be taken as individual cards from the deck, bypassing the chest phase.

    Web Original 
  • Occurs in Unregistered, wherein the various inventory systems are needlessly asinine and are often very chance based. Often times, characters will hopelessly roll to get an item they desperately need out at the right time, only to finally prevail when they need it most.

    Real Life 
  • In Android (prior to version 4.4 and the Google Experience Launcher), the home screen typically sports 3 to 5 "pages", on which users can place icons/shortcuts for apps and widgets. You swipe from page to page and can arrange or add icons to each page (mostly) however you like, and each page's space is aligned to a grid (say, 5 x 5). However, some widgets like a clock or a music player take up a 1 x 4, 2x 2, 2 x 4 or even 4 x 4 space. Start managing!
    • Third-party launchers allow for bending of these limitations, such as an increased pages allowance, the ability to customize the size of the grid, the ability to resize widgets, and so on. (Of course, the more you cram onto those pages, the slower the device will run in its efforts to draw and update the icons and widgets.)
  • Ever click the buttons at the side of the screens on a Wii? You see all the little "screens" on each page? Every VC game or other application takes up one screen. If you're one of those people who bought everything Nintendo put on them, you'll be hurting for screens pretty fast.
  • Getting that carton of milk in the back of a full refrigerator will require reorganizing many other goods in the way.
  • Anyone who needs to move a lot of furniture or pack a lot of stuff in a trunk, bed, or cabin of a vehicle. Doubly hard in that not only do you want your items to fit, you have to make sure they don't shuffle around or break anything squishy.
    • Even worse when sharing tight spaces with many others, such as couchette compartments in night trains. They usually have six bunks with the lower four flipped over from seats, and very little room for luggage storage, making the arrangement of luggage, bedsheets and the passengers themselves a real-life game of Klotski or Sokoban.
  • Buying groceries in general is one inventory management puzzle to the next. First you have to organize your groceries within your cart in a way that they don't squash each other and have enough room to put more items inside. If you decide to bag your own groceries, you're tasked finding out how to put your things inside each bag where nothing gets crushed or breaks the bag from too much weight being put inside. If you drive, you'll have just as much "fun" trying to load your trunk or back seat with your groceries in a way where they don't go flying to the side as the car moves. After you finally get home, you'll have to figure out how to put all your groceries away (freezer, cabinet etc) so won't have to make multiple trips later on when you need to use the items.
  • Amazon Prime Pantry is a simple example. Each box has a flat shipping rate, and each item is listed with what percentage of the capacity it will take up.

Alternative Title(s): Inventory Tetris