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A video game offers you a variety of things to use against your enemies, you've been (or needed to be) making use of several and have been making progress just fine.

Then you meet a brick wall.

Whatever you use seems to get you slaughtered in the end, and the only viable way you can think of is either a long battle of attrition or a near-impossible precision strike. As a last resort before you throw the controller out the window, you try something (whether it be an item, spell, weapon, move or another thing) that you pretty much forgot about as it seemed utterly useless. Then you proceed to blast through the "difficult" moment without breaking a sweat, as this "useless" thing has just the right properties to get you through this situation... Then it remains utterly useless for 99.9% of the rest of the game.


This isn't something that you are "supposed", or necessarily need to use for that encounter, something Too Awesome to Use you were saving up, something that is genuinely useful in different situations or something that becomes awesome when upgraded; this is something you dismissed straight away (probably rightfully), whether because it sucked, or because of better alternatives, that just so happens to work perfectly (or, at the least, far better) for this specific situation, perhaps for some odd quality it has (that is sometimes also what makes it useless everywhere else), or some effect it has on an enemy. It almost goes without saying that this is a typical Guide Dang It! moment.

Note that not all examples are as extreme as the one given at the start; this is any time where something is useless for most of a game but has an advantage over your main tools for some section or other, even if it is not a particularly large one.


Compare Chekhov's Gun, This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman and Crippling Overspecialisation. This is different from the Lethal Joke Item, which is actually useful for a broad range of enemies; it just appears useless at first, or requires something before becoming useful.

Expect gameplay spoilers in the examples.


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  • In Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, the Golden Dagger (obtained in the fifth mansion, right before the room with Dracula's Ring) is a powerful, straight-line projectile. However, it costs hearts to use, and by the time you get it, you have a ton of faster ways to deal with enemies. However, if you use it on Dracula, he'll be pinned to his starting location in the center of the room as long as you keep throwing them at him, becoming easy pickings (presuming you don't just use laurels to give yourself invincibility).
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night:
    • The Red Rust is the more useless of the first two weapons you pick up, doing pitiful damage despite being picked up after the more effective Short Sword. However, it can inflict the cursed status on the doppelganger, rendering it helpless and making for an easy win against a Wake-Up Call Boss. It being one of two available weapons at the time also served to teach the player a valuable lesson about the at-the-time new style of Castlevania: equipment has effects and the nominally strongest weapon isn't always the best weapon for every given situation.
    • The Cat Eye Circlet offers "Big HP restore by cat damage". Only one enemy in the game does "cat damage", and that's Salome, a rather dangerous witch enemy found in parts of the castle that upon being killed turns into a pesky cat that can do additional damage to the player, making her a real pain in the ass. Unless you're wearing the Cat Eye Circlet, in which case you get healed for most or all of your HP by touching the cute kitty. Everywhere else, the item is likely useless compared to other available equipment.
    • Similarly is the Beryl Circlet which grants you absorption of thunder. Very few enemies use thunder, meaning you won't enjoy benefits from it often. However one of the enemies who does use thunder is the brutally difficult Bonus Boss Galamoth, who is rendered an absolute Breather Boss at best with the thing equipped. Iga explained this was deliberate as he intended Galamoth to be so difficult players would search the castle for an easier way of dispatching him rather than just trying to git gud.
    • The Alucart gear, that serve as cheap knockoffs to the real thing that have piddling attributes and lack any of the special abilities of the actual Alucard gear. However equipping all three at once gives a gigantic +30 boost to luck, making it much easier to get Schmoo to drop that pesky Crissaegrim...
  • Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin has Johnathan's Cream Pie subweapon. It's dark element, in a game where you're mostly fighting demons, it does about as much damage as you'd expect a pie to, and it's thrown in an awkward arc that doesn't give it much range. About the only thing it has going for it is the negligible MP cost. And the fact that it makes a bastardly sidequest boss much easier: He's among the few enemies that are actually weak to dark damage, boosting the damage up to passable, and the throwing arc is such that you can reliably hit the boss from a position that doesn't leave you immediately open to counterattacks.
  • Aria of Sorrow:
    • There is one enemy, the Iron Golem. 9999 life and only takes 1 damage from any attack. It's also the same game that has the Killer Mantle soul that swaps the target's HP and MP values. Take a guess how much mana the Iron Golem has. The Killer Mantle is also equally useful against Red Minotaurs, another Demonic Spider found late in the game.
    • The handgun found in the Underground Reservoir is next to useless. It has poor range despite being a gun, can't pierce enemies, and halves your ATK attribute meaning it does minuscule damage. However it becomes immensely useful against the next to final boss Julius Belmont, turning That One Boss into a pathetically easy (if drawn out) game of leading him around the arena staying just out of his normal attack range spamming him with bullets.
  • Dawn of Sorrow:
    • The Imp soul temporarily effectively switches all enemies' HP and MP. Iron Golem, once again, has more HP than MP. The multi-hit Lethal Joke Weapon Terror Bear (which, like its name implies, is a stuffed bear filled with iron sand which Soma swings by holding one of its arms) makes it even easier.
    • The Balore soul allows you to break chunks of ice that may block your path. There are only two rooms with ice that block your path, and both are next to the place where you find the soul.
  • Flesh Golem soul in Aria and Ghoul soul in Dawn. They make thing like Rotten Meat or Spoiled Milk restore HP, rather than damage you. Suddenly Spoiled Milk becomes an alternative to Super Potion (at least in Aria).
  • The Scutum glyph in Order of Ecclesia is, for the most part, functionally useless - it's just a shield that appears above your head, and doesn't appear in front of you like it is expected to. Its later forms, Vol Scutum and Melio Scutum, both appear in front of you. However, Scutum earns its respect in four battles:
    • Goliath's punching attack to the ceiling causes rubble to drop. The rubble is easy to avoid on Normal mode, but Hard mode makes the ceiling drop much more debris, so Scutum is much more useful.
    • Barlowe's homing fireball attack. Just stand below him and use it. All the fireballs just hit it and do nothing. Again, on Hard mode, this is almost required as they are nigh impossible to dodge.
    • Eligor's crossbows are located above you for most of the fight, placing them at just the right angle for Scutum to block part of their firing pattern and render them easy to avoid.
    • Finally, the Dracula fight, where it completely negates every shot that rains down during his Destruction Ray attack, which is quite tough to dodge otherwise. In combination with Melio Scutum, it can also effectively block his extremely deadly stream of bats attack.

    Final Fantasy 
  • Across the Final Fantasy series in general:
    • The status buff Reflect can get this treatment. Reflect returns most magic spells back at the caster/caster's party. However, some enemies will cast Reflect on the player's party so that their healing or buffing spells are reflected back at the enemy party. Not only that, but most enemies that use elemental magic absorb what they are casting, thus reflecting magic back at them would just heal them. Finally, most enemy abilities and some late-game spells like Ultima ignore Reflect outright, making it useless for guarding against them. That is the main reason why Reflect is hardly used by the player, but if enemies cast Reflect upon themselves, the player party can cast Reflect on themselves and cast magic on themselves to bounce it back at enemies without a counter reflect (except for Final Fantasy VII where if the party and enemies have reflect, the spells will keep bouncing back and forth until Reflect fades for someone).
      • Asura of Final Fantasy IV was a Puzzle Boss on these grounds. She had a powerful counterattack, but her only non-counter actions were healing herself, buffing herself and reviving herself. That last one is the clue that you're meant to put a Reflect on her, poke her, wait for her to revive whoever she killed, rinse and repeat. And/or put Reflects on your own team and magic her face off, but at least on the SNES version white magic didn't cause Reflect to wear off, making the "touch and wait" strategy less risky.
      • Alternately, sometimes you can dispel the enemies' Reflect spells and let them get blasted by their own spells. One particularly funny instance is against the fight against Seymour on Mt. Gagazet in Final Fantasy X, where he tries to bounce a Flare spell off his Reflect barrier to hit you. If you dispel his barrier before he gets the chance, he'll hit himself and then the game will snarkily note that the "Combination Failed".
      • In both Final Fantasy VI and Final Fantasy IX, you can actually cast four spells on the enemies for the price of one. If all your characters have reflect status (through Wall Rings, casting Carbuncle, etc.) and you cast something like a Firaga-All or a Cura-All spell on them, every single one of those spells will be bounced back and hit the enemies. If there's only one enemy, he or she will take the full effects of all four spells at once. So much for That One Boss...
      • In the case of FFIX, multi-targeting magic reduces its output by half. Still works out well when used against 3 or more enemies at once, since you're outputting more damage than the single-target version would anyway. Then you combine it with an Ability that Vivi has which seems specifically geared toward abusing this mechanic: "Reflect X2", which doubles the power of spells that are bounced off a Reflect first. Have all four of your characters under Reflect, multi-target them with a reflectable spell (such as Firaga), and you're actually doing four times the standard damage to your enemy in one hit: The X0.5 effect of multi-target gets cancelled by Reflect X2 doubling it back to X1, then each Reflected copy hits for X1 damage per character. IX further encourages this behavior by giving both White Mage characters an ability that allows them to heal through reflect, and all characters are able to learn the Auto-Reflect ability.
      • In Final Fantasy XII you can get an accessory that allows you to ignore Reflect, so you can give it to your dedicated healer while everyone else is under Reflect status, easing up on micromanaging. On the other hand, many enemies and bosses have also a 'Piercing' variant of usual spells (Piercing Firaga etc.) that automatically bypass Reflect status. However, this time the strongest spells, such as Scathe, do not bypass it by default, allowing you to do insane damage to one enemy if it bounces off of everyone (moreso if you have a guest in the party). This is actually crucial in defeating some bosses, notably Zodiark, as they have a nasty tendency to put up immunity to physical attacks once their HP gets low.
  • Final Fantasy II
    • The Ancient Sword and Blood Sword both have abysmal accuracy, meaning neither will land very many hits even with an experienced user. However, both of them have Game-Breaking properties against bosses. The Ancient Sword inflicts Curse, severely weakening an enemy's offensive and defensive stats, and the Blood Sword bases its damage off of the target's max HP — it will kill anything in sixteen hits, even the Final Boss.
    • The Sap spell is useless for depleting enemies' MP (Sap is fraction-based, meaning it will never leave an enemy at very low MP without exorbitant grinding) and Swap is too unreliable for topping up HP and MP from enemies. Both spells serve excellently for grinding MP early in the game when used on your own party members.
    • The Barrier spell will see little use in the main game, but in Soul of Rebirth, it is invaluable for protecting your party members from status effects.
  • Final Fantasy V has numerous almost-useless classes with useful abilities; mastering those classes will confer those abilities on the Freelancer and Mime classes. For this reason, many players will level-grind with those classes, and then never use them again.
    • Geomancers' "Gaia" skill is incredibly useful for the first half of the game, thanks to it giving you a wide variety of potent attacks, all of which require 0 MP. In particular, using it while walking across a swamp has a decent chance of causing a 100% instant death effect on all enemies. Other than that, Geomancers don't have much to offer... except when you face a dungeon with pit traps and damage floors: Geomancers can reveal pit traps upon walking on them (allowing you to go around or choose to go in) and allieviate damage from these floors. Of course, these are both learnable abilities, so a Geomancer is only completely necessary in dungeons with both... and if you don't have anyone who's mastered the class already...
    • Requiem is a song for bards that will do impressive damage to Undead, but nothing else. Initially, it's a case of dealing with Undead easily and nothing more, but in the Second World, shortly after you get access to the song, this skill is crucial in getting Golem, a wildly useful summon. You have to save from two enemies that guessed it...undead, giving you and option that both gives you a way to kill them off easily without endangering Golem, who counts as an "enemy" in that battle.
    • As for weapons, the Excalipoor was designed to be a useless joke, having high attack but always hitting for 1 damage. However, thanks to its unique damage mechanics, you can also use it as a replacement for its normal counterpart for Blue Mages. Since the game only looks at the internal damage value for weapons when calculating damage for attacks such as Goblin Punch, it does as much damage as if you were wielding the genuine article. The same applies to the Ninja's Throw command, but once you throw it, you don't get it back. It has one more use, but that's covered under Lethal Joke Item.
  • Final Fantasy VI
    • The Rasp spell, which eliminates enemy magic points. Most players overlook it for spells that do hit point damage - killing things the old-fashioned way - or for Osmose, which eliminates as many points as the caster is missing and restores them to the caster, saving on Ethers. However, there are several enemiesnote  that die if all their magic is depleted. On top of that, several of these Turn Red, have either Desperation or Taking You with Me magic attacks; if their magic is drained, they can't do the attack and leave you untouched as they die.
    • Similarly, the Berserk spell doesn't tend to be much help because most enemies that you can't deal with more quickly just by killing them either have Contractual Boss Immunity or powerful physical attacks or both. One exception is the MagiMaster boss at the top of the Fanatics' Tower, who casts powerful spells, can change his elemental weakness, and casts a powerful Ultima spell as a Taking You with Me attack on death... unless he's Berserked, which turns him into a pussycat.
    • Then there's Relm's Sketch command, which most people ignore, given that it's even more unintuitive than Gau's rage and the attack depends on the (current) enemy you're targeting, not one from elsewhere you're (supposedly) imitating. (Unless you're trying to glitch the game). However, it's a One-Hit Kill against a few foes.note 
    • Similarly, you won't use Celes' Runic very often, but there are a few magic-dependent bosses that are significantly incapacitated by it. It counts on Celes outspeeding the enemy, however, and on you not using magic, as it absorbs the first spell cast after it's set (which is why people don't use it often).
    • Umaro. He's generally not considered very useful because he's The Berserker and you can never control him. However, that lack of control can actually be a blessing in disguise in situations where you don't have access to your Command Window; you can't screw with an interface when there's no interface to screw with:
      • In the Colosseum, your characters are subject to a frustrating A.I. Roulette, but if you send in Umaro, he will never waste his turns with pointless actions and will only ever attack. If you equip him with the right Relics, he'll actually do very well.
      • In the Fanatics' Tower, Umaro can still attack freely when everyone else is limited to Magic and Items. Many people will cast Berserk on the MagiMaster boss to prevent him from changing his weakness...but it's possible to Berserk him into an element like Earth or Wind that can't be hit with conventional spells. If you don't have non-elemental spells like Flare, and can't drain his MP, the fight becomes Unwinnable...unless you brought Umaro, who can still destroy the MagiMaster for you even if he has to do it by himself. note 
      • He's also useful when using Cyan's Bushido, since you can't input any commands for your other party members until Cyan is ready. Fortunately, Umaro doesn't need command input and will immediately attack whenever his turn comes up.
  • The Squire class from Final Fantasy Tactics:
    • Tackle, Counter Tackle, and Rock Throw are all usually rather pathetic abilities as far as damage goes. What bumps them into Not Completely Useless territory, however, is their ability to knock the target back a square. This can enable you to open an exit path for that party member, force an attacker to come back rather than performing a hit-and-run, hit an opponent and shove them out of range for their own counter-attack... and send them plummeting off a sheer cliff to the tune of colossal, and likely fatal fall damage.
    • The Squire's abilities also have an incredible efficacy for Level Grinding. EXP and JP are earned per action in Tactics, and JP is earned based on the job of the character acting and not which action they are using. These abilities are weak enough that they can be used on your own characters. Form a team of four characters you need to level and a tank, trigger an encounter, eliminate the majority of your opponents, arrange your party in an X with your tank in the middle, and subject your tank to a stoning. Your tank can heal with an inexpensive item/ability, which will also earn EXP and JP. The end result is that it's actually harder for named characters with unique jobs that replace Squire to achieve Game-Breaker setups.
  • Final Fantasy IX has Ipsen's Castle, a dungeon where stairs and ceilings swap places, and your current weapons inflict Scratch Damage. Most of the treasures you find here are the lousy starter weapons for your party that they came with. This, along with the general "reversal" theme, is a clue that that's what you should be using, as weapons do more damage the weaker they are, making your starter weapons not useless after all. (Magic is unaffected by the reversal rules, sadly.)
  • Final Fantasy X has several instances:
    • Seymour on Mount Gagazet is one of less than a handful of enemies to use the Zombie attack. You can fight this battle the long and hard way with Aeons and Overdrives, or you can just keep a few vials of otherwise useless de-zombify medicine handy.
    • Seymour's third encounter is one of the only bosses that can be poisoned in the entire game. The extra damage can pile up over time if you poison him at the beginning of the battle, and he never cures it on himself.
    • Yuna's Nul-spells, a low-cost spell that hits the entire party and will protect them from one attack that matches the nulled element (NulBlaze will protect you from fire, NulTide will protect you from water, et cetera), are considered useless by some players. However, they can be very handy indeed when you know exactly what kind of elements are coming. Flans and Elementals, in particular, will attack with specific elements, and if you cast the appropriate Nul- spell in time you won't be hurt at all. They're also very helpful the first time you fight Seymour, since he repeatedly casts each elemental spell in a specific order. If you know what's coming next (and the Sensor ability will explain the sequence to you), you can make what would be That One Boss much more bearable.
    • Petrifying enemies doesn't usually count for much in many Final Fantasy games, but in Final Fantasy X it's another matter entirely:
      • Having Rikku use Petrify Grenades on underwater fiends will instantly kill them, as they sink to the bottom and shatter.
      • Petrify on a capture weapon makes capturing monsters very easy, as many of them are vulnerable to petrification. most that aren't are vulnerable to instant death instead.
      • In the desert on the way to the Al Bhed Home, you'll run into these weird plant fiends that will automatically cast Confusion on you every time you hit them...unless you use Kimahri's Stone Breath on them. Who'd have guessed that it would be so hard to confuse someone when you're petrified and about to shatter?
      • You can also use Stone Breath to one-shot Seymour's Guado Guardian escorts, who have this nasty Cover-Protect-Auto Potion loop. You're supposed to steal a high potion from them to disable it, but this way is easier.
    • Speaking of Kimahri Ronso, many complain that he is redundant because there's no need for a multitasker in a game where switching inactive characters into the party at any time and vice versa is one of the main gameplay mechanics, but those people forget several things:
      • He can make a useful backup mage or provide additional status effects, which can complement the party member who is supposed to specialize in these things, or even take their place if that party member isn't available;
      • He's the only character besides Auron whose weapons normally have the Piercing trait. This is especially helpful at the start of the game, before Auron actually joins the party.
      • Similarly, Kimahri can be used as a thief as soon as you get your first Level 1 Key Sphere for the Sphere Grid, which is a lot sooner than when Rikku is found.
      • He is also the closest character to the powerful Ultima spell in the sphere grid (which is blocked by several high tier locks). If you delay upgrading him until you gain the spheres needed to unlock it, you can use a teleport sphere to move a more devoted caster to the Ultima spell immediately.
    • Rikku's Bribe attack seems virtually useless, given its obscenely high price against anything significant (25x the enemy's max HP in Gil for a guaranteed success), until you realize that Bribed enemies can give you a truckload of crafting items that're much harder or impossible to get anywhere else in large quantities. Furthermore, since the game keeps track of how much money you've given to the enemy in total, the massive Gil cost can be reduced to something more reasonable by first bribing them with a lower amount and then keep bribing them 1 Gil at a time until you're successful.
    • Tidus's Provoke ability seems pretty useless. Normally you'd want the damage spread around so nobody dies. And if you need to swap him out, it gets cancelled. But it also locks the AI into using a specific attack, which is always the same for any given monster it works on. And it doesn't wear off as long as the character who cast it is out. When that attack is a current hp-half rounded down attack (that does no damage at 1 health), it means you can't lose. Yes, this actually works on one story boss. Certain other otherwise difficult enemies can get locked out of very nasty status inflicting attacks if you Provoke them, making it very useful against them.
  • Final Fantasy XI - The two hour ability (a supposedly extremely valuable job specific ability that can only be used every two hours) for Ninjas is Mijin Gakure. This ability kills the Ninja and deals damage based on their current HP. Due to the amount of health enemies have, this ability is basically useless. It does not inflict enough damage to be worth using in any situation where a two hour is justified. There are two uses for it.
    • Avoid the harsh penalty for death, since a secondary effect of Mijin Gakure is to remove all penalties for dying and being raised back to life.
    • A poor man's Warp, since you can return to your home point after you die and again there is no death penalty for doing it this way. This has become less useful due to how easy it is to Warp through higher level spells and items.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance:
    • Undead enemies rise again a few turns after being killed, unless a skill like Burial is used on their remains. Needless to say, those skills are completely useless anywhere else in the game. In the sequel the same goes for the Bard skill Requiem, which damages undead.
    • Oddly enough, the zombie status itself is rather useful - if you get zombified, you will automatically come back to life in several turns, without having to use Raise/Arise or a phoenix down!
    • The Viking class is an awkward combo of stealing skills and spells. The spells are, for the most part, not worth using, with the exception of Tsunami, which can only be used if the caster is standing in water.
    • The Paladin class, generally a Mighty Glacier plagued by many a Useless Useful Spell, such as Parley (which removes enemies from the battlefield at an incredibly low chance), Nurse (a pitiful AoE heal, thanks to the class' low magic) and Drop Weapon (grants the ability to change your weapon for another in your inventory, in a series where there is usually little reason to do so), also has Subdue. Subdue is a skill that makes the Paladin hit with the flat side of their blade, dealing exactly 1 damage. This is incredibly useful for breaking an ally out of Charm or Confusion without having to heal them later, and helps when you need to get a monster to low HP so a Hunter can capture them.
  • The Triple Triad card game in Final Fantasy VIII and Final Fantasy XIV has many low grade cards that have low numbers with 1 being the worst since it's the lowest number can't overtake anything. However, playing with Reverse rules makes cards with a 1 or low numbers in general become incredibly useful since their values are inverted; a 1 under Reverse is as powerful as a card with an "A" while said "A" is now as weak as a 1.
    • A second rule which is covered under this is "Fallen Ace". It does only one thing: allow an A to be captured by a 1. (Or vice versa, if Reverse is also in play.) Most NPCs with this rule have a couple of 1s in their deck: those who don't are strong enough that they're effectively the Triple Triad equivalent of a Puzzle Boss.
  • The Paladin's Cover skill in Final Fantasy XIV is rarely used since it only lasts for 10 seconds, requires both the tank and the party member to be no further than 10 yards apart, and it doesn't block party wide damage for the player being protected. In some raids however, Cover can be excellent to use on the main tank so that the Paladin off tank soaks up some damage while the main tank is free to pump out the pain without worrying about dying or stressing the healers.

    Other Video Games 
  • The Undead Slayer in AdventureQuest Worlds is amazing in Doomwood due to its unique quality of quickly becoming well over 9000 by a Spirit Power system that only works when fighting undead. Its normal power when out of its element is pretty dismal.
  • The Viy fight in La-Mulana. Going by how the rest of the game is set-up you are led to believe that Spears are your only option for this battle. However, as spears shoot directly downwards you must get right above the boss's eye to damage it, which also happens to be where all its most dangerous attacks comes from, making it one of the harder fights in the game. There is another weapon that turns out to be a savior; Throwing Knives seem pretty useless when you get them, so you tend to forget about them, as the shurikens do more damage and are faster horizontally and spears have better vertical damage and speed. However, the Knives property of "sliding" along the ground until they hit a wall allows you to just stand back (dodging some weak projectiles) and bombard Viy while coming under very minimal danger yourself, instantly turning it into a very easy fight. As a bonus, the Throwing Knives will damage the regenerating tentacles as well, making them much less of a hassle.
    • The Throwing Knives did have one other big use— Hell Temple. While the area may be filled with false floors, a thrown knife traces the actual path of the floor— Passing right through the "gaps" to show the real path.
    • Throwing Knives also make a small number of puzzles much easier than they would be with other, more obviously applicable weapons.
    • The throwing knives are actually significantly stronger than shuriken, and can hit sufficiently large enemies twice (they go through most enemies). It's just that shuriken have a (usually) far superior movement pattern. And you can throw more shuriken at once than you can knives.
  • The last boss of Mystic Defender: it could be trivially defeated by using the weapon that bounces balls off walls and crouching in the lower right hand corner of the screen. The balls would bounce and hit the boss in just the right spot. The weapon was otherwise useless for most of the game.
  • In Wild ARMs 3, a skill by Luceid called "Dark Luceid" pretty much deals very low damage, even when Luceid is using it against you when you need to obtain him. Afterwards, you can fight an upgraded Bonus Boss called Power Trask (basically, an upgraded "regular" Trask whom you defeated earlier). Now unlike regular Trask which can be defeated easily after knowing a trick, Power Trask suffers none such weakness. It is also highly defensive towards elemental magic (which your party has been relying on for a good chunk of the game). The non-elemental magic available doesn't hit hard enough and Power Trask is, quite simply, a pure Stone Wall that laughs at your physical attacks. Cue Dark Luceid saving the day due to its mostly heretofore unknown "deal damage according to how many elemental resistances the target has" property. This same property is what usually makes it deal pitiful damage: not many enemies have full elemental resistance thus making this skill useless for 90% of the game.
  • Completing a sidequest involving directing an easily-lost scholar home in Star Ocean: The Second Story earns you a stick called the Funny Slayer that instantly slays any enemies with "Funny" in their name when you hit them. Of course, the only enemies that fit that description(Funny Thieves) are The Goomba and pretty much go down in one hit even if you were Level 1 and unarmed. That is, until you hit the middle floors of the Cave Of Trials, which contain Metal Funnys and Funny Thief lvl99s (one of which is a floor boss.)
  • Metal Gear:
    • Metal Gear Solid:
      • It is implied you must use your missile weapons for the battle against Vulcan Raven, which he can easily shoot down if you don't use them carefully. But, you can lay claymore mines around the arena and wait for him to step on them; this is one of the only good uses of claymore mines in the game.
      • Remote-controlled Nikita rockets are slightly different: they are used for solving a puzzle near the beginning of the game, but after that see little use (as they aren't exactly especially stealthy). However, they are incredibly useful during the second Sniper Wolf boss fight (much easier than using a sniper rifle).
      • Snake's cigarettes at first appear to serve no purpose other than to slowly drain his health (while making him look cool). However, the smoke allows you to detect laser security sensors, although not as well as with infrared goggles. They also calm Snake's nerves and make his sniping aim more steady, although not as effectively as Diazepam. Their real benefit comes from if you missed the Thermal Goggles (you get one chance to get them and if you do you can't get them until much later), or run out of Diazepam, as Snake starts with the cigarettes and they never run out.
    • Metal Gear Solid 2:
      • Repeats the cigarettes gimmick from the previous game exactly.
      • After Ocelot takes your mask, the Gurlukovich Soldier uniform seems pointless - guards immediately recognise you, and it has no effect on your stats. However, if you put it on before walking in an area where you leave footprints, the guards will recognise the bootprint as one of theirs and ignore it.
      • Pentazemin (a drug which improves sniper rifle accuracy) can be found on the Tanker, a stage in which there is no weapons beside the USP and the M9. It appears to serve no function, but taking it causes the disorientating up-down motion of the camera (stronger in higher difficulty levels) to stop for a while, explained as it helping with seasickness (via the Placebo Effect).
      • The RGB-6 is a grenade launcher in a game where grenades are already fairly useless. Enemies are very difficult to hit with it, the explosion alerts guards, and there is always a better way to take down your foes than this thing... until you face Vamp. When he dives into the water you can drop a few RGB-6 rounds in the water which will most likely hit him (and do decent damage), but even when they don't the blast depletes his Oxygen Meter and forces him to surface, leaving him wide-open for another attack.
  • Dead Rising 2 has the toy spitball gun which unless crafted into a more powerful item does absolutely no damage to any enemies under normal circumstances. There is however one exception. Partway through the game Chuck has to fight a helicopter armed with a mounted turret. The helicopter has incredibly high damage resistance to most forms of attack except for thrown weapons which deal a decent and fixed amount of damage to it per hit regardless of what the damage output would otherwise be. The toy spitball guns projectiles are unique in that they count as thrown projectiles despite being fired from a gun meaning that despite their usual damage value of zero the tiny plastic balls can hilariously be used to rip apart the helicopter in mere seconds.
  • Space Megaforce has a few times that weapons that seem to be outclassed become life savers. In level eight, if you shoot the walls, pieces break off that can kill you. Most weapons, when upgraded, have bullet patterns that will hit the walls constantly. Your saving grace is the Sprite weapon, which is usually outclassed by the others. Also, when playing on Normal, Tricky, and Wild difficulties, weapons that don't do much damage per hit but can fill much of the screen with bullets tend to be good choices, but when you play on Hard or Hyper, the enemies become able to take much more damage before dying, which forces you to fight with weapons that do more damage to individual targets. Oddly enough, the weapon named "Multi-Direction Shot" turns out to be the best at this, making it excellent on Hard and Hyper but a poor choice for the other difficulty settings. (The game's difficulties, in order from easiest to hardest, are Normal, Hard, Hyper, Tricky, and Wild.)
  • In Maximo: Ghosts to Glory, Captain Cadaver is immune to all your attacks except for swinging your sword while crouching so you can hit his peg leg. This is one of the four times where crouching is useful. The other times occurs against bomb-throwing skeletons (attacking them normally causes their backpack of bombs to explode, whereas crouching and slashing at their legs causes them to collapse in a heap with a bomb still in hand and ticking), Hammer Devils (can be killed faster since their hammer is not getting in the way) and the crawling zombie torsos.
  • EarthBound:
    • Mondo Mole is one of the few bosses that is susceptible to PSI Paralysis Alpha.
    • Shroooom! can be a rather tough boss...unless you use the otherwise nigh-useless PSI Flash Beta against him, which will either paralyze or kill him in one shot.
    • Poo's Mirror ability allows him to transform into any normal enemy in the game and act out their A.I. Roulette. But since Poo on his own is generally stronger than any regular enemy, and you can't control what he does, it's usually useless. Except when you're fighting Atomic Power/Nuclear Reactor Robots, which will cause Poo to use what is effectively the full heal Lifeup Gamma for free 75% of the time.
    • The New Year's Eve Bomb in Mother 3 inflicts HP to 1, but it fails against most things... unless they're the King Statue, which has 99 million hit points. It's more or less a Puzzle Boss; there's even a guy selling the item in the same area.
  • In the Mega Man (Classic) series, the weakness of the (True) Final Boss corresponds either to the most useless weapon or to the weapon which is a pain to hit with.
    • The trend started with Bubble Lead in Mega Man 2; it ran along the ground, so it doesn't do well against most enemies. But it's the only weapon that works against the Final Boss. It also earns its pay earlier in the Fortress with the disguised holes in the floor.
    • Top Spin from Mega Man 3 is considered one of the most useless weapons in the series. However, any enemy that is weak against it has no invincibility frames against it. This includes Wily's final form. So, while it doesn't one-shot any of these enemies, it can be made to look like it does.
    • In Mega Man 7, you remember those Wild Coils? You will when you fight Wily!
    • In Mega Man 8, you can only use three weapons against... the first Fortress boss: Astro Crush and Ice Wave when he's by the wall, and the oft neglected Mega Ball that you got at the start of the game. It also replaces the Rush Coil and also permits you to perform multiple midair jumps if your timing is good.
    • Actually averted more often than not with Sigma in the Mega Man X series. In X1, he was weak to Rolling Shield, but the charged version actually shielded you, disqualifying it once you go either of the attack upgrades. In X2, he was weak to the Strike Chain, which had limited weapon use but was a good tool in several situations. In X3, he was weak to the X-Buster only.
    • Mega Man Battle Network brings a really odd one to the table. The Minibomb chip in the standard series games is useless - you can't hit with it worth a damn against most things and it barely does more damage than any of the many chips you do have that are way more accurate. For the series' platformer Gaiden Game, however, it became a Game-Breaker that went largely unnoticed because of its terrible history in the other games. For this one game, it was extremely easy and efficient to use, cheap to maximize your stock of, available right from the moment you hit New Game, and because the explosion damaged enemies multiple times, was capable of one-shotting half the enemies in the game; and everything else could be taken down with a second one if it wasn't a boss or had an aura (as enemies in two endgame stages did).
    • The Mega Man 3 (DOS) game's final boss had weaknesses at various stages to the Shark Boomerang or the Water Shooter, both very short-range weapons.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • In the early days of raiding, Hunters received a new ability, Tranquilizing Shot. Its only use was to remove frenzy effects found on some of the bosses (which would make them much stronger). Due to issues Hunters had, this one trick made Hunters much more likely to even get into raids. The second expansion finally gives it a broader range of uses, even against other players. A similar case was the Mage spell Detect Magic (shows active buffs on the target) which was very helpful on some bosses that required the raid to dispel certain effects otherwise hard to see, but in this case, the spell was eventually removed (and buffs made always visible).
    • Another classic case of this is the Warlock spell Detect Invisibility. Until Mages got a corresponding skill this was completely useless (Rogues use Stealth, which is a different mechanic) with a few select locations that have invisible enemies. Even there it's not necessary to use the spell, but it avoids nasty surprises (especially in Naxxramas where the first player the monster spots usually gets killed in one hit.
    • Yet another rarely used skill is "Mind Soothe/Soothe Beast". What does it do? It reduces the radius of the target in which it attacks players. If the spell fails, it attacks the target. Nowadays almost forgotten, there were a few places where players could avoid some fights with it, and in a specific case it's often used as a means to let the Priest get close enough to the target safely to Mind Control it. Speaking of which...
    • Mind Control, while perfectly viable in PvP used to have the fatal drawback of making the target very pissed at the caster (a squishy Priest) when it breaks off. This was later changed along with the possibility to use the spell to force some enemies to cast very useful buffs on the Priest's party.
      • In classic, Mind Control was an effective strategy, and fun change of pace for healers, to use in phase 1 of Razorgore, the first boss of Blackwing Layer. The caster orcs (which when using a kite strategy were the only targets the raid killed) could be Mind Controlled and were effective tools to be used against the other casters, who would gladly target the powerful controlled mage. Thus helping greatly in lowering the HP of 2 targets at once.
    • Yet another overlooked spell is "Dampen/Amplify Magic", a buff that either decreases or increases magic effects (both damaging and healing). Since healing is almost always required and magic damage all too common, it's pretty much restricted to a choice few bosses that predominantly hurt with physical damage as a means to make healing a bit easier. The dampening variant is reasonably useful for Mages playing on their own though, since they have no healing spells.
  • Metroid
    • In Metroid Prime, all of the charge combos (besides the generally-useful Super Missile) work like this:
      • The Ice Spreader fires far too slowly to be of any use against normal enemies and most bosses. However, it also can freeze the first form of the final boss with one shot, causing massive amounts of damage in the process.
      • The Wavebuster uses far too much ammo to make it worth using... until you reach the end of your first visit to the Phazon Mines, where you fight an invisible enemy that you can't lock on to and is very quick. Suddenly, the ability to auto-target anything becomes very useful. And this enemy is even weak to the Wave Beam, mitigating the ammo requirement.
      • The Flamethrower does fast continuous damage, but it has a limited range and anything that isn't immune to the Plasma beam can be taken down in a few shots making it a huge waste of ammo. However, it is one of the few weapons that can penetrate the Omega Pirate's shield.
    • Also in the Metroid Prime Trilogy, the hazard proximity bar in the HUD is generally considered a pointless aesthetic touch. But during certain boss fights like the Omega Pirate in the first game and Dark Samus 1 and Emperor Ing in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, it becomes incredibly useful for letting you know when you're dangerously close to a pool of Phazon, for example, since you can't see where you're strafing or backing away while locked on to the boss.
    • Seeker Missiles are generally ignored aside from opening certain doors. However they turn out to be exceedingly useful for taking out the tentacles of Emperor Ing's first form. And in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption their ability to lock 5 missiles onto a single enemy provide a semi-decent replacement for the absent Super Missiles or beam combos, and at least don't cost health unlike Hyper Missiles.
  • One of the first weapons you get in Metal Mutant is some kind of lightning attack. It looks cool and is pretty strong in raw power, but it has an overly long charge time, its range is limited, and any hit will take you out of it. However, there is one certain enemy near endgame that is totally impervious to everything you have except for this weapon.
  • Most Einhänder strategy guides recommend the Endymion Mk. II and dismissed the Guns Akimbo Astraea fighter as Awesome, but Impractical. But, equipped with the right pair of gunpods (that seem fairly useless on the Endymion) the Astraea chews through mooks and bosses alike with ease.
  • Diablo II features a Paladin ability called "Holy Bolt". Virtually useless unless you're focusing on healing teammates or damaging Undead. Of course, only a 1/4 of all the monsters in the game are Undead so you're helpless against everything else, but Holy Bolt does smash the daylights out of Undead.
    • If you spec out a Paladin to maximize Holy Bolt's healing properties, you won't be able to hit any monsters past Act 3 Normal. On the other hand, with the right gear (Faster Cast Rate rings for the win) you can heal 500+ HP a second. Not bad for a game that allegedly doesn't have a healing class.
    • Though the Sorceress's Blaze (which makes fire appear where you walk) is mostly useless, it makes an effective kiting tactic against Duriel. More than most classes, the Sorceress desperately needs to stay out of his "Instant Death" Radius; with Blaze, you can get him to chase you around in a circle in your trail of fire until he eventually dies.
  • Charred Newts in Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals. They fully restore IP, but IP regenerates naturally anyway and you can just use standard attacks against enemies or switch out to a different character with a full IP meter. The final boss fight against Daos gives Maxim the ability to freeze time with the Dual Blade, which lasts until his IP runs out. Popping a Charred Newt once Time Stop runs out lets you repeatedly freeze time and wail on Daos, letting you kill him ridiculously easily.
  • Digital Devil Saga:
    • Null Sleep/Avoid Sleeper (avoid any attack so long as you're affected with Sleep status) is completely useless against nearly every boss in the game. Except one, where it is, in point of fact, absolutely required to succeed. Oh, and that one specific fight? That would be Demi-Fiend, most definitively on the short-list for hardest boss ever in the history of gaming.
    • Cielo has mediocre stats and a weakness to any skill that inflicts status ailments. Virtually every enemy has an attack that inflicts status ailments, so Cielo is often times a bad choice, even against electric enemies who he is supposed to be most useful against. The one time he is legitimately useful is in the same fight where the aforementioned Null Sleep is required. The reason is because his weakness to status ailments means he is almost guaranteed to be hit with the sleep status ailment.
      He's also surprisingly useful for the second phase of the Ravana fight. Ravana likes to cast a spell that inflicts your entire party with the control-removing Hunger status and follow it up with an all-target Wind spell... which can be reflected back at him for huge damage. He also likes to cast the Hunger effect on his second action, letting him follow up with the Wind spell on the next turn with your reflect caster Hungry and unable to put the reflecting effect up. If you have Cielo on the field, though, Ravana will gain a press turn from Cielo's ailment weakness and cast that big spell immediately, before your reflect can wear off.
  • In Persona 4 there are items that deal a fixed amount of damage, low even for the early parts of the first dungeon (and you don't find them till you get near the end of said dungeon!) make short work of Metal Slimes. Also good for exploiting elemental weaknesses without burning SP. Later on, however, you get the Magatama items, which deal 150 damage to all enemies; you'll likely find them useful on the bosses for the striptease and Void Quest dungeons.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei IV, Silent Prayer resets all stat changes to both sides of the battle. This isn't that useful for the most part, since by the time it's available, odds are you are making extensive use of Status Buffs for your allies, and you don't want that to reset. Merkabah, on the other hand, loves to increase his own stats while lowering yours, and the battle can go uphill for you in a hurry without Silent Prayer.
  • Ancient Domains of Mystery hangs a lampshade on this with the "potion of uselessness." When drunk, it's... useless. When you throw it at a monster, it's... useless. If you dip an item in it... nothing happens. It's never an alchemical ingredient. And many, if not most, potions are useful for more than one of those reasons. But if thrown in the Slippy-Slidey Ice World, it propels you along like any other thrown object... and your god is impressed enough to give you an artifact for finding a use for it.
    • Another example is using items as so-called rift fodder. The Rift, a location leading to a certain library, requires very high Climbing skill, as well as luck, to get down safely. Failing a luck check (and in past builds it was bugged to almost always fail) will result in, among other things, the destruction of up to hundreds items in your inventory. The usual way of dealing with this consists of filling your inventory with cheap, light, useless items - arrows for non-archers, identified scrolls and potions with negative properties, etc. Considering the relative rarity and potential usefulness of the potion of uselessness, it is actually often excluded from rift fodder.
  • In Iji, the Resonance Reflector is normally too slow to recharge to be much use for you; you'd be better off blasting the enemies with a BFG instead of trying to reflect their own projectiles back at them. You'd think it would be good for a Pacifist Run (They're killing themselves, right?), only for gameplay reasons the reflected projectiles count as yours, so no it isn't. Then comes the final boss, who has immensely strong armor... and a weapon that does far more damage than anything you've got, and that can be reflected.
    • Version 1.6 changed the reflection mechanic so that deflecting an enemy projectile no longer counts as your kill. Unless of course, it's a projectile they reflected back at you, but with the reflector's load time, you probably won't be able to reflect it again anyway.
    • The Resonance Reflector is an upgraded version of the Resonance Detonator, which is even more useless since it shares the Reflector's absurdly long reload time but its effect is identical to your kick attack (which is always a keypress away and doesn't require you to switch weapons). Kicking also takes a lot less time than charging the Detonator does. The only advantage provided by the Detonator is that it fires instantly when you press the button, while the kick only deals damage about half a second into the attack animation. Enter Tasen Shredders, vehicles that both Iji and the Tasen can use. Most of them spawn with a Tasen rider, but you can kick them off without destroying the Shredder - if you manage to hit a fast-moving vehicle with your foot in the split second before it knocks you down. Resonance Detonators make this feasible.
      • The Resonance Detonator has another use. It fires in a small circle away from you, hitting opponents who are not close enough to kick. Usually this doesn't mean much, as the ability is still too weak to justify having as your only weapon. However, there will be numerous occasions where Iji is standing on a platform right above an opponent who can't hit her since he is unable to jump. The detonator can be safely loaded and allowed to charge without risk of harm, and if fired when the opponent is right along the ledge the Detonator will hit him despite iji being above him and unable to kick. This can be a bit tedious to do, but it does give a free kill without wasting ammo or risking enemy fire.
      • And one more use: the Resonance Detonator is the easiest and cheapest way to destroy Skysmashers. Too bad these only show up in the final sector.
  • The Tractor Beam spell in Tales of Phantasia is largely useless. In practice, it's supposed to be a useful spell (being the only non-elemental spell Arche can learn for a good long time), but it only works on enemies on the ground. The problem is that many of ToP's enemies (roughly about 1/3) are flying enemies that are NEVER on the ground, while most of the rest are fond of jumping around like rabid monkeys. The result is a spell that so rarely deals damage (that has no other effect) that most players will turn it off so the computer-controlled Arche doesn't end up wasting half her turns. There's only ONE case where the spell is useful, being in Gnome's Dungeon against the Clay Idol monsters, land-based creatures that take damage from only one attack in the game. Care to guess which one?
  • In Tales of Vesperia, Estelle can potentially give you an item called the "Mother's Memento." It theoretically grants you unlimited healing, as it is never consumed when used, except that the healing it grants per use is incredibly small, and given that any item use in the game comes with a cooldown, there are far more efficient ways to heal. Eventually, you have to fight a brainwashed Estelle as a boss. Using the Mother's Memento during the battle grants her a brief moment of self-awareness, lowering her defenses and earning you the Secret Mission for it, which you can't get in any other way.
  • In Dink Smallwood: Mystery Island, you learn a spell called Duck Magic through a subplot involving a human-to-duck transforming magic fountain. This spell does nothing at all except summon ducks. The final boss is the only thing they work on, because it "forgot to put on feet armor".
  • In MediEvil, one of the earlier weapons you get is a wooden Club, which breaks boulders. The Club is unfortunately also the game's only breakable melee weapon, is almost as weak as the Short Sword you start with, and the Warhammer can also break boulders while being stronger, with a longer range and an awesome Ground Pound attack. However, the Club can also be used as a torch, and the Gangplank Galleon level at the end of the game has cannons with fuses...
  • The emerald swords of Lands of Lore cause little to zero damage to all enemies, can't be sold (shopkeepers will refuse to buy them) and seem to be of no use until you enter the White Tower, as they're pretty effective against ghosts, who are impervious to normal weapons. They're also very useful in one floor of Castle Cimmeria, which is teeming with ghost Cabal warriors.
  • In Casper: A Haunting 3D Challenge you collect fool's gold coins throughout the game. Through most of the game they appear useless, until the final boss fight where you have to drop them around to distract Carrigan.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has many combat items that are mostly useless (due to the existence of skills and/or other items that make far superior alternatives), until you reach the final quest. There are 24 different Puzzle Bosses (originally 6 before ascension was implemented, then 12 until the NS13 expansion), of which the game will choose 6 randomly; each one can only be defeated using a specific combat item. There are many other items with similar unexpected usefulness, like the Antique Hand Mirror; using it normally just breaks it and gives you 7 turns of "bad luck" (which does nothing), but using it while fighting the absurdly powerful Guy Made Of Bees will kill him instantly. The Chaos Butterfly normally has minor, random effects, or gives a seemingly meaningless message. Yet, not only is the Butterfly one of the special deadly combat items mentioned above, but using it in any combat allows you to complete a certain unrelated quest in half the usual amount of time, if you choose exactly the right multiple-choice options. There's also the Safarrri Hat, which grants "+15 damage against Lions" to parody the Weapon of X-Slaying trope. There's only one lion-type enemy in the entire game, and it's not a particularly difficult encounter. It's not completely useless, but it's close.
  • In Wizardry IV, the most useless summoned monster in the game is also the only thing that can kill the final boss.
  • Champions of Norrath and its sequel have several spells that either only work on undead, or are much more effective on undead. For example, the dark elf shadowknight's Convert Undead is absolutely useless unless you're fighting a horde of undead. The high elf cleric has several Holy Hand Grenade spells that are only useful against undead.
  • There's a Disney game for the Sega Genesis called The Great Circus Mystery. In it you get several suits that allow Mickey and/or Minnie to solve puzzles, get items and open pathways. You know how you tend to forget about the first one or two weapons you get as the game progresses? Well, nothing will take down Level 5's boss except for the vacuum cleaner-suit from WAY back.
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic series:
    • For Light Side players, the Drain Health Force Power is near useless for the brunt of the first game, handicapped as it is, while the Throw Lightsaber power is just plain weak and leaves the user vulnerable briefly. In the final boss fight against Darth Malak, however, they are the only way to make use of the comatose Jedis he has strewn around the room. While using these powers on one of them does kill them, Drain Health also completely replenishes the player's health, and both powers keep Malak from using them.
    • The sequel had Mira's unique power: while she was your active character, your party wouldn't trigger mines. Normally mines in the KotOR series are widely-spread and easy enough to simply walk around (or through — they don't do very much damage). However, precisely one area in the game, not long after you recruit Mira in the first place, has dozens of mines in thick clusters, entirely unlike the usual arrangement. Later on, on the way to Freedon Nadd's tomb, there's another chokepoint with dozens of mines strewn through it, and setting any of them off will trigger the alarm system, making it harder to progress. Once again, Mira's unique skill lets you waltz right over the mines and disarm the security system while in stealth mode with ease.
    • The game also emphasized this with skills through the crafting mechanic. Usually you could rely on your party's skills, rather than your own — and a few, like Awareness and Stealth, were not very useful to begin with. However, they were the basis of the crafting system, and most of the time you were forced to use your own skills when determining what upgrades you could make.
  • Fina in Skies of Arcadia has a special move called Lunar Glyph that does a little damage and has a chance of petrifying the enemy. As you'd expect, all the enemies worth petrifying are immune to it...except for one boss that it's almost 100% effective against.
  • In theory, Arrows on Fire are an advanced attack in Trine, doing more damage in return for a bit of magical energy. In practice, normal arrows make up for quality with quantity. However, max-level fire arrows explode to damage nearby targets, allowing you to quickly take out the bat swarms that are hard to hit with most other attacks.
  • Starcraft II's campaign features one new unit in most missions, and typically the mission revolves around that new unit to a greater or lesser extent. This can make a number of these units Not Completely Useless, though which ones will depend on a given player's style. Battlecruisers, for instance, are generally held to be Awesome, but Impractical in terms of resources, but are essential to "Maw of the Void", the mission which unlocks them, since their health lets them weather the environmental effects better than other, more efficient units.
  • The 'mutate' perk in the Fallout universe. You can re-pick your traits, how grand. Too bad you pick your traits yourself in the beginning of the game and there are few, if any, traits that it would be worth a perk switching to mid-game. Meanwhile, in Fallout Tactics, your team-mates have pre-picked traits, and getting Gifted is worth the perk slot.
    • The 'Mental Block' perk is completely useless up until the battle with the main villain of the game, when the perk grants the player complete immunity against the villain's psychic attacks.
    • The "Bloody Mess" perk in Fallout: New Vegas gives you a rather negligible 5% boost to all damage while also greatly increasing the probability of causing dismemberment. In the base game, the latter effect is almost completely visual aside of the Three-Card Bounty -quest where it's actually detrimental since you must avoid damaging the Fiend leaders' heads too much when killing them to get the best reward. However, the perk is quite useful against the Ghost People in the Dead Money DLC as dismembering them is the only way to kill them for good.
  • In Golden Sun, Standard Status Effects are generally useless, as it is more efficient to simply beat your foes' brains in. However, the Bonus Boss Deadbeard is absolutely crippled by the Psynergy Seal status effect since his entire offensive lineup consists of Psynergy and his basic attack. Since the Djinn Luff can inflict Psynergy Seal with 100% accuracy, and can be spammed by your most agile party members at no cost, this becomes the best way to tear him apart. In its sequel Golden Sun: The Lost Age, Luff and its equivalent Rime also do very well against the Bonus Boss Sentinel, although he holds onto a solid elemental physical attack in addition to his basic attack.
  • In Golden Sun: Dark Dawn:
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • The Collision Magnet command in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. It's extremely slow, does mediocre damage, and can be easily interrupted if there's more then one enemy around, unlike most commands with a long start-up. However, in an aversion of Contractual Boss Immunity, the Spellican is susceptible to it and it knocks it down, giving you plenty of free time to beat on it before it runs away. You can also hit it with the move again before it gets up to keep it on the ground and even grab it out of its otherwise unstoppable teleport. This is especially useful in the rematch, where it loses its vulnerability to Zero Gravity.
    • In Kingdom Hearts coded, High Ethers are normally a waste of limited space, because all they do is increase your clock gauge by two units. However, when going for the Fatal Flawless trophy, you have to make yourself into a One-Hit Point Wonder, and while the enemy mooks also have their HP set to 1, bosses still have their full HP. This is where the High Ethers come in: using one while you wield the Oathkeeper keyblade with activate Auto-Life, letting you survive one hit, and you can recast it as long as you have High Ethers.
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind has the Scrolls of Icarian Flight (which allow the player to jump incredible distances, then splat against the ground) have a number of users in certain tricky situations (to say nothing of Speedruns). To note:
    • In one particularly tall Daedric ruin, using one can allow the player to leap all the way up to the highest level in a single bound to acquire some valuable loot, skipping over all of the enemies in the ruin.
    • Whenever fast travel is unavailable for whatever reason, such as the Tribunal Temple quest where the player is forced to take a vow of silence before traveling to the complete opposite side of the island. (A trip of several in-game days on foot.) Instead of that hassle, the player can simply use one of the scrolls to leap across the island, crash down in the ocean beyond the shrine (or cast levitate when just above it,) and complete the quest in a fraction of the time.
    • Another use is for getting out of a death trap in Sotha Sil's Clockwork City in Tribunal. The player has to climb up a spiral staircase in a room while outrunning a spinning blade that moves faster than the player. The usual high-level character approach to this puzzle would be to levitate to the exit; but levitation magic cannot be used there, and no practical jump spell that the player would have is capable of getting them all the way to the door. However, a Scroll of Icarian Flight will allow you to leap all the way to the top of the chamber, "crash" (harmlessly) into the ceiling, and land on the platform right in front of the exit.
    • Solstheim in Bloodmoon has very limited fast travel options, so the scrolls allow the player to more quickly traverse the island. In particular, they can help with one East Empire Company quest that has a strict time limit. The person you need to find will be in one of three random places, so placing a Mark spell ahead of time may not work. Using the scrolls to jump there can get you there much faster than running, and will allows you to pass over any enemies along the way who would otherwise slow you down.
  • In Resident Evil 2, many of the weapons that suck for killing zombies are extremely effective against other specific creatures instead. Leon's flamethrower and Claire's flame rounds are excellent against Ivy monsters, the MAC 11 is great for taking out Lickers and keeping them from counterattacking, and Claire's Spark Shot does nearly as much damage to the boss enemies as Leon's Upgraded Magnum.
  • In Resident Evil 4, the knife is generally not used in boss fights due to its low damage. Cut to the fight against Krauser where the knife gets a massive damage boost and just a few slashes can end the fight in seconds.
  • In the Fire Emblem series:
    • The Devil Axe in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade and Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones is very powerful, but has a high chance of backfiring and damaging its user instead. In a game with Final Death, this makes it very impractical as an actual weapon. (Especially since the more damage you're dealing with it, the more dangerous a potential backfire is, ESPECIALLY if you critical) However, it does give a very high amount of Weapon Exp compared to other axes, so it can be useful to raise a character's Axe rank quickly.
    • Radiant Dawn:
      • The game makes a big deal about Micaiah's Sacrifice ability, which allows her to heal others without a staff, but in battle the ability is mostly worthless since it drains Micaiah's own HP when she uses it, and Micaiah is a Squishy Wizard whose death results in a game over. Since traditional healing items and staves are not hard to come by, you're usually better off using them. However the ability does have some niche use on a few select maps, since it removes all status ailments on the affected target, basically making it a free Restore staff. It also lets her get 10 exp every turn, provided that she has a wounded ally nearby and 2 or more HP. Considering Micaiah is one of the units that changes class at plot points and is required for the final chapters, you pretty much need a way to level her up to 20 while keeping her away from the fray.
      • Gareth. As a combat unit, he's pretty much worthless: sure he has some of the highest Strength and physical Defence in the game... but at the point he joins (with only 2 chapters left in the game) all enemies use magic so his immense physical tanking ability is completely useless. What makes him fall under this trope though is a skill he comes with, Blood Tide. This increases the Strength and Skill of all adjacent allies by 5, a pretty significant amount, and it stacks with the one other Blood Tide user in the game (who's also somewhat useless in combat, though less so than Gareth). This ability greatly helps in taking down the penultimate boss and especially the Final Boss, making him worth deploying for the skill alone.
      • The Nihil skill is also an example of this, one that the player had better realise before Radiant Dawn's Endgame. It's a Skill that causes the user to ignore the effects of their enemy's Skills in combat. The problem is it takes up a disproportionately huge amount of skill capacity, meaning the user won't be able to make much use of skills themself, and in Path of Radiance there simply aren't enough enemies with skills to make it worth its cost. The same is true for most of Radiant Dawn... until the late-game chapters, where 90% of bosses have skills that essentially spell instant death if they trigger. Suddenly immunity to skills becomes something definitely worth the capacity cost, making your few Nihil scrolls extremely valuable. Also, the Final Boss has barriers that reflect all damage they take directly onto the attacker, making the fight extremely annoying without Nihil nullifying this skill. There's a reason Ike automatically learns Nihil on promoting to his ultimate class.
    • The various Joke Weapons in Fire Emblem Awakening can be used where killing enemies too quickly can be hazardous. For example, if one of your units is hiding behind a bottleneck, enemies will usually body-block each other while trying to attack the unit, allowing you to pick them off one by one and heal the unit after each round. This doesn't work if your unit is strong enough to kill each enemy in one round, and will probably get them killed by Zerg Rush. Give them a crappy weapon, however, and the bottleneck strategy works again. The joke healing staff (the Kneader) also is handy for certain builds that rely on being at low-but-not-minimum HP (e.g. those using Vantage, Vengeance, and/or Miracle).
    • Similarly, Bronze Weapons in Radiant Dawn and Fates are unable to critical. This is supposed to be a handicap, but there are times where you really don't want to crit (like if you're trying to feed a kill to a weaker unit).
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time:
      • The Ice Arrows are surprisingly useful against Bongo Bongo. Their freezing effect can be used to distract the hands, letting you get a shot at the eye. They are also useful in a particular room in the Spirit Temple, where the player has to trick an Armos Knight into landing on a switch at the end of its rampage. An Ice Arrow can force it to stop on that switch at any time during its attack period. Lastly, there is a programming quirk where any enemy that can be frozen is damaged twice when shot with an Ice Arrow, which makes them a One-Hit Kill on the infamous Like-Likes.
      • The Deku Nuts as well: They're probably forgotten about by the time you beat the Deku Tree, but they make Jabu Jabu's belly a cakewalk. They'll instantly kill every bubble enemy in the room, stun those annoying jellyfish (which you can't otherwise harm until you find the boomerang), and will force the jet-ray creatures out of the ground so you can get the drop on them. They're also handy as an adult when fighting Bubbles (the flaming skulls) and in the timed battle against the two Stalfos in the Forest Temple.
      • The broken Giant's Knife is intentionally meant to be useless, but it tears Dark Link to shreds since he is programmed to block against it as if it were still the full blade.
      • A couple of the masks also have hidden properties to them. The Bunny Hood preventing Stalchildren from appearing is convenient, and the Skull Mask is very useful in Dodongo's Cavern as it prevents Keese from attacking and can easily be obtained before challenging the dungeon.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, the Deku Nuts are also largely worthless, but make fighting Wart very fast as the flash dislodges tons of his protective eyeballs which can easily be taken out all at once with a quick spin.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the final boss can be distracted by the Fishing Rod, leaving him vulnerable to attacks. Of course, the Fishing Rod is only needed for two small plot hurdles, so many players would have likely forgotten about it by the time they reached the final boss, and since it has no offensive capabilities whatsoever, the few who did remember wouldn't normally think to equip it for the fight.
    • Similarly, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword lets you distract the boss with the bug net. It is otherwise used only for catching bugs and fairies.
  • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, the fifth boss, Cortez, summons a gigantic horde of flying swords to attack the player when he's in his third form. The swords do massive damage each turn, and are considered both aerial enemies and spiked enemies—meaning that only very certain special moves hold any chance of damaging them and thus removing them from the fight. ...Unless, of course, you use Flurrie's Gale Force move, which instantly blows any aerial enemies away from the battle.
    • In the original game, the second Star Spirit you rescue, Mamar, offers the power of Lullaby, which inflicts the status effect of sleep. While it has its uses early in the game, it's quickly outclassed by things like Skolar's Star Storm, which attacks all enemies for fixed damage, and Muskular's Chill Out, which lowers the attack power of every foe. But late in the game, you come across Bonus Boss Kent C. Koopa, who is a tank and does massive damage. His one weakness? He's exceptionally vulnerable to...falling asleep. Suddenly Mamar is going to be much more helpful...
  • Baldur's Gate II - Throne of Bhaal: magic golems are immune to any enchanted weapon, but are vulnerable to non enchanted weapons, which you probably ditched out after the initial dungeon of Shadows of Amn (considering that the game throws at you magical items in quantity). Luckily, the sections where you face those golems also have some crates with non magical weapons.
  • Dragon Quest IX:
    • The Have A Ball and Thunder Thrust skills allow you to fire eight weak attacks at random / have a 50/50 chance of scoring a critical or missing outright. Neither are exactly reliable in regular battles against more than one enemy, until you realize it can do 1-8 damage to a Metal Slime (Metal Slash, the move that is designed to reliably do damage to metal monsters, does 1-2 per turn) or kill one outright (if it hits).
    • When you first get them, the various Fource moves don't really help much, as there is precious little information on who's weak to what short of Guide Dang It! (unless you let AI characters learn them, since they 'know' what to use). However, since it increases damage proportionally, you can find yourself dealing bonus damage in the hundreds to grotto bosses (especially once you have the item that lets you apply the buff to all characters in a single turn).
    • The Treasure Eye Land skill causes all red chests and stairs to show up on the minimap. Sounds useful, but it only detects red (non-respawning chests), making it completely useless in grottoes, which is where most endgame action happens. The only saving grace is showing where the stairs to the next floor is (and even then, often it's still not in the same map sector as you are).
  • In City of Heroes the first power in most Blaster secondaries was a single target ranged immobilize/attack power. Devices was unusual in that Web Grenade didn't deal any damage which was generally viewed as a weakness of the set since it meant that Devices Blasters had lower damage early game. However unlike most blaster immobilizes Web Grenade also had strong debuffs to jump and fly which meant that at end game it could be used to pin most archvillans to the ground while the players hovered above them safe from melee attack.
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! card Heavy Slump seems completely useless, since its effect requires your opponent to have 8 cards in their hand, which is extraordinarily rare — in fact, one of the basic rules of the game is that players cannot have more than 6 cards in their hand when they end their turn, and it's quite rare for this rule to come into play in the first place. Then you play the video game Over the Nexus, and That One Boss decides to be a cheating bastard and start the duel with 10 cards. Opening with this card turns a nightmare into a cakewalk.
  • The Eden colony from Outpost 2 can develop a system for shooting down incoming meteors using high energy particle beams combined with an observatory, which is pretty cool, except the energy and staff requirements to maintain it are surprisingly high. Meteors don't do much damage to begin with, so it's easier and cheaper to simply repair any buildings that happen to be hit. This changes in the final mission of Eden's campaign, where Plymouth improvises a devastating EMP missile using their space launchers, and Eden's meteor defense system can be similarly repurposed to destroy them.
  • Zombies Ate My Neighbors is built around this trope. You are given tons of seemingly worthless weapons alongside the few intuitively useful ones, but as it turns out, every single weapon in the game will one-shot (or at least be extremely powerful) against at least one kind of enemy. Some are obvious, like using silverware against werewolves or the freezing fire-extinguisher on the blobs, while things like using tomatoes against martians or the martian bubble gun against the ants aren't so clear.
  • The Monography Gun from Rogue Galaxy. What does it do? It creates platforms to stand on. When do you use it? The Wake-Up Call Boss, after freezing the waterfall on Juraika and the first stage of the final boss. You don't need to use it again after that and all it does is take up inventory space. Oh, and if you jump on a platform floating over an enemy it deals a Percent Damage Attack which makes it useful when fighting Mimics.
  • Path of Exile has three unique jewels (Fragility, Pacifism, and Powerlessness) that have no effect other than reducing your maximum number of charges (for Endurance, Frenzy, and Power charges respectively). This would normally be worse than useless, but certain skills and unique items grant bonuses when at the maximum number of charges (e.g. Snakebite causes attacks to inflict poison at maximum Frenzy charges). Reducing the maximum to zero means the bonus is constantly active. The Ahn's unique items were made for this in mind, which give effects for when you have no charges and maximum charges. The addition of minimum charges made them more obsolete, but they're at least more accessible.
  • Bravely Second lets you buy the Spirit Magic scroll "Spirit" in Florem, allowing you to inflict non-elemental damage with your magic attacks, but at a low power level compared to the likes of Comet and Meteor. Considering how just about everything you encounter is either a humanoid or is weak to some element, this sounds pretty pathetic. ... And then you run into Vucub Caquix, who has the ability to absorb every element in the game. Guess what your Spellcrafters are going to be using? note 
  • Chrono Trigger has items that induce the Berserk status on the PCs, meaning they automatically attack and don't take orders. While this sounds like a very bad idea in theory, it's a godsend for New Game+ runs: since your PCs will be at endgame levels and making every attack a One-Hit Kill, random battles will go by much faster without the need to give individual orders.
    • Even in a regular playthrough, such items can be quite useful when used on Ayla, especially early in the game when she doesn't have any really useful Techs.
    • Lucca's Hypnowave tends to be a Useless Useful Spell at best, as while it boasts the ability to put all enemies to sleep most enemies are immune and the ones that aren't tend to go down in one or two attacks anyways. Then you face Mother Brain (No, not that one) who is protected by three Displays that continuously heal her, but destroying them will provoke her to unleash savage magic-type attacks. They're very vulnerable to Hypnowave, allowing you to trounce Mother Brain with minimal effort.
    • Magus's Black Hole is supposed to One-Hit Kill your enemies. In reality, it doesn't work on bosses and sometimes works on plain mooks. There's no real reason for you to ever rely on this tech, except for exactly two occasions in the game, both of which are not even obligatory. The first one is Lucca's sidequest where you fight Son of Sun, who is surrounded by a bunch of flames and only gets hurt if you hit the correct one. Naturally, Black Hole will help you get rid of a couple of those. The second one is... yet another Lucca's sidequest, this time from the DS remake, where Black Hole is pretty much the only way to quickly take the insufferable Iron Maidens down.
  • Pokémon:
    • The move Splash is completely useless; all it does is make the user flop around helplessly. However, as of Pokémon Sun and Moon, the Normalium Z item can be used once per battle to upgrade it to Z-Splash, which raises the user's physical attack by three stages in one turn (to put that in context, in one turn you multipled your Attack by a 2.5x modifier). Few other moves can raise a stat that much, and none of them are as widely available as Splash is. This once-useless attack is now a viable choice in Tournament Play.
    • Genesect's Techno Blast, even after its power was increased in Gen VI, isn't that great owing to its reliance on a hold item to change its type (and unlike Arceus's Plates or Silvally's Memories, changing Techno Blast's type is the only thing the Drives do, with no other benefits like STAB included). However, the Douse Drive is arguably the best Drive to use, since it's Genesect's only learnable Water-type move outside of Hidden Power, and since it also can't learn Rock- or Ground-type moves, it's the only counter it has for Fire-types (to which it has a double weakness).
    • The Rhyhorn line has Rock Head for an Ability, which prevents recoil damage. This would be useful... if they knew any moves that did recoil damage beyond Take Down. However, in FireRed/LeafGreen they can learn the more powerful Double-Edge via Move Tutors, and when evolving into Rhyperior, Rock Head becomes Solid Rock, which reduces the damage done by its (many) weaknesses by a quarter.
    • The Starmie line has Analytic for its Hidden Ability, which increases their Special Attack if they move last. Being Fragile Speedsters, this isn't too useful... though the opponent switching makes Starmie move last, and since humans are more likely to switch than the AI, Starmie can be pretty dangerous with it in PvP matches.
    • Hyper Beam is a very powerful move, but it forces the user to recharge the next turn, so it isn't used by a lot of players. On top of that, since it's been a Normal-type Special move since Generation IV, there's relatively few potential users that can use it effectively and still get a Same-Type Attack Bonus (most fully-evolved Normal-types have a physical Attack bias, so they'll turn to the physical-based Giga Impact). There are a few Pokémon that can use it effectively, though. Porygon-Z has an incredibly high Special Attack stat, gets additional damage from it due to STAB, can have Adaptability to boost said STAB bonus from x1.5 to x2, and on top of that, it can learn Nasty Plot to sharply boost its Special Attack. A Hyper Beam from a Porygon-Z hurts. Mega Pidgeot can also do a hefty amount of damage with it thanks to its high Special Attack, STAB, and No Guard to ensure Hyper Beam never misses.
    • One of Delcatty's Abilities is Normalize, which turns all of its moves into Normal-type ones. It's bad enough that Delcatty doesn't really excel in anything, but Normal-type moves aren't strong against anything, are resisted by two types, and Ghosts are completely immune to them. However, Delcatty also learns Skill Swap, which lets it swap its hindering Ability with an opponent, burdening them with it instead. Furthermore, Gen VII gave affected moves a power boost as well.
    • On a similar note, Durant's Hidden Ability is Truant, which stops it from attacking every other turn. (For context, the other two Pokémon with Truant are Slaking, who has absolutely monstrous stats in return, and Slakoth, its first prevolution.) Durant also learns Entrainment, which turns the opponent's Ability into whatever the user's is. Suddenly, the enemy is giving you free turns to wear them down. This also turns the Battle facilities into a near-joke.
    • The move Hidden Power is a move that, depending on the Pokémon, can be any type and (prior to Gen VI) any level of power from 30 to 70. The exact specifics are a tricky thing to understand and the move itself isn't especially useful, but for many Pokémon, Hidden Power is their best/only counter to certain threats (Grass types, for instance, love using a Fire-type Hidden Power to counter Steel-types that resist all their attacks).
      • The move's base power being set to 60 down from potentially 70 makes it a little more reliable to get a Pokémon with a type-covering offensive option, but does lower its maximum potential... except in the case of Roserade, who can have Technician (an Ability that boosts the power of moves with a power of 60 or less). Suddenly, it has a consistent 90 power move of nearly any type, and it's also a special move on a Pokémon with high Special Attack.
  • The Grail Sphere S-Craft from The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky. It protects anyone within range from any one attack, Art, or Craft (two at 200 CP). While this sounds useful on paper, Kevin has several good healing and support Crafts that'll keep your party going, and his Orbment setup by default in SC is built for distance healing anyway. Plus, the Earth Guard/Wall Arts can do the exact same thing for 70 EP which is pretty cheap after the first third of the game. There is however, one scenario where this could very well save you from a Total Party Kill. When you fight Renne, she'll immediately start the battle with her S-Break, which has a 50% chance of inflicting Deathblow, on top of hitting all of the party and doing heavy damage in its own right (even with anti-Deathblow accessories). But if you mash Kevin's S-Craft half a second before she does, he'll No-Sell it. The same applies in her rematch, and the showdown with Loewe.
  • Breath Of Fire 3 had the backhand ability you could learn from one of the earliest masters. It did normal damage but wouldn't inflict lethal damage, thus making it pointless in most fights. However, you have to know the move to be able to unlock the spell for one-hit-killing undead enemies which is very useful in several late game battles and makes the first post-timeskip boss a joke. It is also highly useful in the "Train Boyd" minigame as he gains defense per blocked hit and will always block at low hp, so you can just backhand him to untouchable defense in about 3 nights.
  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy text adventure game, one of the items in your inventory is "The Thing Your Aunt Gave You But You Don't Know What It Is". If you drop it, it'll show up again a few turns later. It appears to be useless, but you can make one of the puzzles in the game easier to solve by putting things into it and dropping it, thus getting around the limit on the number of items you can carry.
  • In Warframe, Volt's passive ability builds up extra damage for the next attack upon walking or running. In normal gameplay, this ability is almost completely useless. However, it's incredibly useful in the fishing minigame introduced in the Plains of Eidolon -update, since the bonus damage works with fishing spears. Just a couple of steps before a throw gives enough damage to one-hit even the toughest of fishes with the most basic fishing spear, making the upgraded spears specialized for different types of fishes completely redundant.
  • In The Legend of Dragoon there's an item called Sachet which deals a pathetic 10 damage. It's intended use is to put a specific boss to sleep for a few turns, but there's three guaranteed Sachets in the game (plus a rare drop) and two you only get after beating the boss. The best use for it is to kill rare monsters which give large amounts of gold, experience, or a rare item but are near impossible to kill before they flee. There's also a boss near the end of Disc 3 who exposes its heart to a single attack whenever it traps and releases a party member. Its heart only has three hit points but takes one point of damage from any attack. Using a Sachet kills it instantly.
  • BlazBlue's Astral Finishes are Death Or Glory Attacks that automatically end the match if you land them on an opponent that's below a certain health threshold. However, they cost the same as just doing two super moves, they leave you vulnerable briefly if missed (when the match is definitionally in its closing stages), initiating one removes your super bar so you can't do super attacks again if you miss, and the ease with which you can combo into them varies heavily with each character. While flashy and satisfying, it would be perfectly understandable to have never used them. However, they are very useful against the Unlimited/Grim versions of the Abyss bosses, who all have jacked-up stats compared to their normal counterparts. It doesn't matter how high their defense is if you can terminate the match automatically, and it stops heal-comebacks (Unlimited Celica's specialty). It also becomes available below a percentage health threshold rather than a flat one, which is helpful against opponents like the Iron Tager.
  • Roll is generally seen as the absolute bottom of Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes's tier lists, an obvious Joke Character who serves as little more than a crappy version of Mega Man. However, her one strong point is that she's very short. When going against most of the cast, it doesn't come close to resolving her problems, but when playing against local SNK Boss Onslaught, she's so short that most of the attacks in his pattern just fly right over her head, allowing her to take him down with comparative ease.
  • Age of Empires II: The Hun's unique technology Atheism makes Wonder and relic victories take longer (i.e. you have to defend them for longer once you have them before the Instant-Win Condition), including your own. 95% of games will end by military victory instead, making this meaningless. In the rare situations where this is relevant, though, it makes it a lot harder for your opponent to get a free win.
  • Heretic:
    • The firemace. It's normally like a weaker version of the hellstaff (as it has a much shorter range, doesn't work on ghost creatures, and sinks if the floor of area has a water texture. If you use a Tome Of Power, the metal orbs it shoots become much more effective, being a One-Hit KO for mooks and other players. Even against bosses it does a respectable amount of damage (about the same as the phoenix rod).
    • The shadowsphere makes enemies shoot erraticaly, which is usually a bad thing, as you depend on knowing where they're going to shoot to dodge. It provides a few interesting advantages, though. Undead warrior's axe projectiles will go through you harmlessly, making large groups of them easy to deal with. The iron lich's frost ball will also pass through you. (Though not the shards that explode afterwards.) Most importantly, though, the tornado attack will no longer track you, making one of the most frustrating attacks very easy to deal with.
  • The Gaboie item in Illbleed completely restores your health bar, but it also massively increases your heart rate - which is a bad thing, considering that you die instantly if your heart rate rises above 255, and that it's very easy to increase it (traps, enemy encounters, dodging and running all increase it). However, bleeding too much can make your heart rate drop at an alarming speed; and a heart rate of 0 instantly kills you. At that point, the Gaboie's drawback becomes a life-saving feature.
  • Any poisoning weapon in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, particularly the stingers you'll pick up by the dozen farming Sidhes for healing shards and fairy wings, tends to be useless since enemies tend to die faster without them and bosses tend to be immune. That is until you face Alfred who runs away like an asshole and inflicts status ailments by throwing potions, the Doppleganger who's basically you on mega-steroids from hell, and the second Zangetsu battle since he clearly wasn't hard enough the first time. All of these enemies are highly vulnerable to poison, so you can keep them inflicted with it with the occasional Hit-and-Run Tactics and simply dodge until they die in about three minutes.
  • The homing missile launcher in Bullet Girls Phantasia is inferior in every way to the bazooka and regular missile launcher when it comes to most enemies. It only has one shot, cannot be hip-fired, has a long delay before firing as it's locking on, and takes very long to reload. Against attack helicopters, dragons in flight, and the fast-moving crawlers, however, it's devastating.
  • Yoku's Island Express: While there are quite a few items and abilities scattered throughout the game, only a small handful are really necessary to progress or obtain the regular ending. The "best" items and upgrades may make the game a tad easier in specific situations, but depending on your playthrough, you may come across them too late for them to really make a difference.
  • The handgun in Resident Evil 3 (Remake) is handy in the beginning, but most players quickly toss it in the item box once they start stockpiling ammo for their stronger guns like the shotgun and grenade launcher. The final fight against the Nemesis requires you to shoot at his weak points in order to stun him and there are a few problems; using the shotgun means being up close and a higher chance of being hit by the Nemesis's attacks. The grenade launcher has its shots arc and is slow to fire. The magnum also fires too slowly to be effective. The pistol can easily destroy the weak points in a few bullets and is quick to fire. The arena also has plenty of handgun ammo as well.
  • Lunar: The Silver Star has Dragon Grief, the last of the dragon spells that Alex learns on his path to becoming the Dragonmaster. It instantly kills all non-boss enemies, but deprives you of experience and pretty much accomplishes what escaping would have done at a fairly sizable MP cost in a game where Magic Is Rare, Health Is Cheap is in full effect. It's never worth using. The one exception is the Forbidden Forest, which is a Bonus Dungeon populated by high-level enemies that will crush your entire team in the blink of an eye and give garbage amounts of experience and money. Just clearing out the enemies with Dragon Grief will allow you to get through the Forbidden Forest with ease, and your reward will be access to the women's hotspring.
  • Bloons Tower Defense 6 has Lead to Gold. It's a tier 3 upgrade for the Alchemist that lets it instantly pop lead bloons and turn them into $50 each. While it's a relatively cheap upgrade, lead bloons aren't very common, and there are much more useful ways of popping them. Lead to Gold also works on DDTs, but they move incredibly fast and have camo (which the Alchemist can't detect), so it's not a particularly effective attack against them.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: The second-last Mages Guild Sidequest involves creating a Protective Charm to No-Sell the villain's opening attack, which would otherwise transform the player character into a Worm Thrall. The attack is never used again and the item has no other use.
  • Legend of Grimrock 2 has "Dispel", which is a low-damage spell with an awkward casting sequence (the only spell in the game that requires all nine runes). The only time you will ever use it is against Air Elementals — because it's the only spell that can damage them.
  • Downplayed Trope in Super Paper Mario: Piccolo the Pixl is a case of Not Purely Cosmetic. The visible effect of having Piccolo with you is that while she's out, the music and sound effects for your character change to 8-bit style sounds like the original Mario games. She also plays a music tune over your character if you press the 1 button. There are three, very specific instances where Piccolo does something practical: Firstly, there are a small number of blocks with her symbol on that are removed by her music, revealing special Catch Cards. Secondly, her music removes status effects of the various Cursya enemies. Third and most importantly, using Piccolo in the Underchomp battle causes all three of the boss's heads to fall asleep, allowing you to wail on them freely.

    Non-Video Games 
  • "Magic Bullet" cards are fairly common in Collectible Card Games. In response to cards and game mechanics that could potentially unbalance the game, designers often include cards specifically to counter these effects. If done poorly, such cards are useless except if your opponent employs the tactic it's meant to counter; in this case it rarely works, because it generally just isn't worth putting a card in your deck that is only useful in one specific circumstance.
    • The card game Doomtown was especially bad at this. In one of the later expansions, the cards in question really were Magic Bullets—"Bullet" type cards were designed to insta-kill various character types.
    • The Pokémon Trading Card Game uses "Magic Bullet" cards in place of banning. One example is Machamp, who could instantly KO any non-evolved Pokémon at a time when non-evolved Pokémon was the norm in tournament play. Most cases are subtler than this, however.
  • Magic: The Gathering
    • The card One With Nothing, whose entire effect was "discard your hand." It was completely useless until a competitive deck came out that relied on giving the opponent a stream of cards and using spells that dealt damage based on the number of cards in an opponent's hand compared to yours.
    • Lifegain cards are almost completely useless, unless you have a card like Yawgmoth's Bargain, which lets you turn life into cards (though you can't draw cards the normal once-per-turn way). Lifegain also became nasty when they began adding specific cards that let you win the game if your life passed a certain extent. Felidar Sovereign springs to mind.
      Additionally, due to lifegain's perceived weakness, you can gain tons of it for very cheap with a number of black, green, or especially white cards. Then you have certain creatures like Serra Ascendant and Divinity of Pride, which both become ENORMOUSLY overpowered for their costs if you have 25-30 life on hand, and both have the powerful lifelink ability to convert any damage they do into more life. Combine that with Chalice of Death, which can tap every turn for 5 damage if you managed to get to 30 or more life and the aforementioned Sovereign...
    • Pick any card that's the centerpiece of a combo deck. Chances are the card is broken in half in the context of that deck, but completely useless anywhere else. Some of the best combo decks take two otherwise useless cards (say, Donate and Illusions of Grandeur) and turn them into a solid win condition.
    • Dralnu, Lich Lord is a classic example. It was largely dismissed as junk when Time Spiral was released and WOTC even featured it as part of a "reject rare" creative deckbuilding article where they essentially gave Word of God that Dralnu was mechanically interesting, but nowhere near competitive. Then the French pro Guillaume Wafo-Tapa used Dralnu in a highly successful blue/black control deck dubbed "Dralnu Du Louvre" that became a fixture of Time Spiral-era Standard. Later versions of DDL actually ended up cutting the deck's namesake card due to its riskiness, but Dralnu still picked up some serious respect for briefly seeing top-level play.
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! card game was very fond of magic bullets in its early days, such as Gryphon Wing, White Hole, and Anti-Raigeki, whose only uses were to negate specific overpowered cards. Then they discovered banning, and these counter cards quickly became dead weight. A less blatant example is Kuriboh, a mostly-underpowered card that for a while was the only effective way of stopping several one-turn-KO combos.
    • Return Zombie is generally regarded as one of the game's worst monsters, as its effect is that it can add itself back to the hand during the Standby Phase if you have no cards in your hand. As the Standby Phase happens right after the Draw Phase, this effect almost never triggers because its timeframe is right after you just drew a card. However, at the time it was released in the OCG, it was seemingly one of the only ways to stop a Yata-Garasu lock (a monster that prevents you from drawing if it attacks and does damage), because it could add itself back after Yata had attacked and then be summoned to block its attack and let you hopefully draw again next turn. Needless to say, though, it didn't do much of anything to hinder Yata's dominance before Yata was banned.
    • Underlining Return Zombie's true purpose, it was released in the same set in the OCG as Gemini Imps (blocks an effect that would force you to discard and lets you draw), and Legacy of Yata-Garasu (a Trap that let you draw additional cards if your opponent controlled a Spirit Monster, which Yata is). Pretty much the entire pack was designed with the intent of countering the Hand Control Yata-Lock running rampant at the time. It failed to do so.
    • The line of Effigy cards was Cut Short by Wind Effigy, a monster who seemingly revealed the problems with the concept. They were a series of monsters that could count themselves as double if they were used for the Tribute Summon of a Normal Monster of a specific attribute. At the time Wind Effigy was released, though, there literally did not exist any Normal Wind monsters of level 7 or higher, meaning its effect did absolutely nothing. Later on, though, the card Simorgh Bird of Ancestry was released, which not only has an effect that activates when it's Tribute Summoned, but also can count itself as a Normal Monster while in the hand, the only monster in the game that can do this. This means Wind Effigy can indeed be used... for the summon of exactly one monster in the whole game. It's widely theorized that Simorgh exists just so Wind Effigy could qualify for this trope.
    • A lot of very old Fusion Monsters were generally considered Awesome, but Impractical at the time, due to the resources they ate up and lackluster stats. Monsters like Fusionist and Flame Ghost, however, were considered absolute trash by pretty much everyone, as a monster with only 900 or 1000 ATK that needed Polymerization and two other specific monsters just wasn't worth the effort even by the earliest stages of the game. When Xyz Monsters were introduced, however, players on a budget discovered that they could use Instant Fusion to quickly Special Summon these weak Fusion Monsters without the tight requirements and use them for Xyz Summons. Fusionist even saw a lot of use in tournament decks because it was an easy level 3.
  • In the web novel Ark the main character learns Survival Cooking, a skill which lets him produce food items from foraged material. Most of the "food" produced in this manner has detrimental effects, such as inflicting paralysis, releasing a literally sickening odor, or making you hungrier. However he soon realizes this can be weaponized, feeding paralysis food to powerful enemies, rendering enemies too ill to fight with smell, and getting additional food buffs by making himself hungrier.
  • In Level UP's "Mario's Pokemon Moves Calamity," the near-useless Splash move is ultimately what gets him safely across a lava pit.

Alternative Title(s): Not Completely Worthless


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