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Underused Game Mechanic

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All games have mechanics — predefined methods that the players use to interact with the game world. Some of them are well-received, others not so much. And then there are mechanics that are cool and innovative... but only come up once or twice in play and are then never used again in the game or even in the entire series. This can happen for a variety of reasons — maybe it had to be cut out due to production problems, or the designers didn't realize it would be popular, or it was discovered to be a Game-Breaker and had to be limited in where it could be used, or just found that it simply did not work in practice and cut most of it out. The end result is that the players want more of it, and don't get any.


Supertrope of Useless Useful Spell, Useless Useful Stealth, and Useless Useful Non-Combat Abilities.

Contrast Scrappy Mechanic. Compare They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot. For a type of enemy that only appears once or twice through the entire game, see Unique Enemy.


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    Game Systems 
  • The Nintendo Entertainment System had tons of accessories (many which were from third parties) that either didn't gain enough traction in popularity or simply didn't work well. R.O.B. is a famous example for being a miniature robot that acted like a glorified controller, worked with only two games, and was quietly discontinued by Nintendo. (Its real purpose was to serve as a marketing gimmick to get stores interested in selling another video game console after The Great Video Game Crash of 1983.) The Power Glove is another big example, where the glove acted as a controller based on your arm movement. The Power Glove was only designed for two games, and while it could be used with other games via programming the glove, it hardly ever worked and Nintendo never gave it official support due to the glove not being made by them.
  • The Super Scope was a light gun for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System similar to the NES Zapper. Unlike the Zapper, the Super Scope was wireless and required six AA batteries to operate. Very few games were made for the gun and it quickly died out.
  • Nintendo 64:
    • The Transfer Pak, whose selling point was letting people transfer data between specific Game Boy games and N64 games. Only sixteen games took advantage of such a feature, ten of which never left Japan.
    • The Controller Pak was the system's memory card, originally intended to allow players to exchange game data over multiple cartridges. However, it had a paltry 32KB of space and some games could take up the entire thing with their save files. While initially popular with third-party developers to eliminate the need for built-in cartridge-saving as a cost-cutting measure, the need for the Controller Pak died over time as more and more developers decided the convivence of cartridge-saving was worth it. Even Nintendo themselves abandoned the Controller Pak after using it in only two games, with a third game that supported it coming out as the very last first-party game for the system (and it was only released in Japan).
    • The 64DD was an add-on for the Nintendo 64 where the system could read and write disks that held up to 64MB of storage and the console could connect to the internet. The accessory was a commercial failure in Japan with only 9 games made for the thing, and was discontinued before it could launch worldwide, with any games that were still in development for the device being retooled into regular N64 titles or Moved to the Next Console.
    • The microphone and Voice Recognition Unit, which only got utilized in a single international release: Hey You, Pikachu!.
  • The e-Reader was a Game Boy Advance accessory that allowed players to scan cards to activate new items or levels in compatible games. The e-Reader sold poorly and Nintendo quickly discontinued it, leaving the accessory with very few games it could work with. The discontinued support also meant the GBA remake of Super Mario Bros. 3 had only half of its e-Reader cards available, which made the rest of the e-Reader exclusive content Dummied Out until Nintendo released the game on the Wii U with the e-Reader stages unlocked (though even then, you couldn't use any of the other e-Reader features like powerup cards).
  • Nintendo GameCube:
    • The console had an expansion port that supported LAN play, but very few games actually supported the feature. Mario Kart: Double Dash!! is notable since LAN support theoretically made it possible to have up to sixteen players all playing at once (eight racers at once with two characters per kart), but you needed at least two television screens minimum to take advantage of it.
    • The first model of the GameCube had a digital AV port that was used by the component cables, which would allow the console to output up to 480i or, if the game supported it, 480p. The cables were sold exclusively at Nintendo's online store and they were quietly discontinued around two years later with Nintendo citing both a lack of demand (apparently only 1% of consumers bought the things) and production cost (the GameCube didn't actually output analog component signals; the cables had their own chip that converted the signal themselves). This resulted in a second GameCube model released sometime later that removed the digital AV port. This was also during a time when HDTV was relatively new, with Nintendo incorrectly predicting the speed that the format would be adopted. Because the component cables didn't sell a lot, the ones that remain are sold secondhand at very high prices.
    • A microphone accessory was made for the system and bundled with Mario Party 6. Barely any games were made for the microphone afterward.
    • The Game Boy Advance to GameCube controller cable would link the Game Boy Advance to the GameCube and allow it to either be used as a controller or to transfer data between games. Not many games used the feature and many consumers passed on it when certain multiplayer games required each player to have a Game Boy Advance and the controller link cable, making it simply too expensive for most people.
  • Nintendo DS:
    • PictoChat was fun to use at gaming-related social events such as Fan Conventions, but sadly (due to concerns from parents about child predators) the feature was not brought back for the Nintendo 3DS, causing PictoChat to basically go dead once the 3DS started to gain momentum.
    • DS Download Play is a great way to get your friends to play with you even if they don't have their own copies of the game, to give them "lite" or demo versions of the game you're playing, and to try out demo versions of games at stores that have the infrastructure to offer downloads. While you can still do Download Play for DS games on a 3DS, only a select few 3DS games (such as Mario Kart 7 and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS) offer this function.
  • Wii:
    • The Wii Remotes actually have a small amount of read-writable data, allowing you to store a few things like Miis and a few games' data. However, likely because the amount of R/W data can be counted in single-digit kilobytes, only a few games actually make use of this feature.
    • The Wii Zapper and Wii Wheel were plastic shells that housed the Wii Remote, allowing the player to pretend they were holding a gun and steering wheel respectively. Only a handful of games were made for those accessories and it was possible to play said games without the accessory at all.
    • The Wii Speak microphone was an accessory that hardly had any compatible games. Its main draw was using it with the Wii Speak Channel, which was a program that allowed friends to come together and talk to each other in voice chat. Almost no one used it all since you couldn't use the chat program while playing a game and voice chat was easier to use on PC. The program became effectively useless once Nintendo shut down their online services for the Wii.
  • The PlayStation had a serial IO port on the back of the system that could be used to connect two consoles together for multiplayer with your own screens. A novel concept, but one that was Awesome, but Impractical for most consumers; a proper setup required two consoles, two TVs, and two copies of the same game (save for a few multi-disc games that supported it), which made the cost and overhead through the roof for most. Few games supported it, and the feature was completely removed on the redesigned PSOne model (frustratingly so, as it had the LCD screen attachment that would have made it a lot more practical).
  • The PlayStation 2 had quite a few features that seldom ever went used:
    • The Network Adapter doubled in functionality for also opening the possibility of adding a hard disk drive to the console. There was a world of possibilities that were opened with this, but a very scant few games made any use of it (35 out of the several thousand in the library), and even fewer made remarkable use of it. A good majority of them used it to decrease load times and absolutely nothing else, while some used it to offer downloadable content, patches, or added functionality (such as more elaborate replays in the ESPN 2K5 games). Only one game outright required it (Final Fantasy XI). Sony more than likely opted to sweep it under the rug when people were using it more often to install homebrew or play pirated games (and as a result, people who didn't know what the space was for would use it to hide things, mostly weed). The redesigned slim model completely removed this functionality altogether (with an ethernet port built in so an adapter for that was no longer needed).
    • The Dualshock 2 has pressure sensitive face and shoulder buttons, meaning they can detect how hard they are pushed. This is also a seldom used feature, and most of the time only one or two of the buttons out of eight will have this functionality tapped into.
    • The i.Link connector (actually a common IEEE 1394 port, more frequently called Firewire) allowed another form of networked multiplayer. In the early days of the console, it might have been slightly more convenient as it didn't require the network adapter to be used (only a set of Firewire cables and a Firewire hub), but over time ethernet became the far more preferred method, and fewer and fewer games supported this form of networked multiplayer until it effectively died off when it phased out of the Slim model.
  • The PlayStation 3 can actually support up to 7 controllers at once. Good luck finding a game that doesn't cap at 4 players and actually makes use of this. Likewise, its two predecessors can also support up to eight controllers when using two multitaps, but again this was a fairly rare sight.
  • Nintendo Switch:
    • The Switch does have native audio input support, and as such you can plug a headset into the audio jack for voice chat (as opposed to using the Switch smartphone app)... but only for a very, very small subset of games, such as Fortnite. And none of those games are first-party Nintendo games.
    • In November 2019, the Switch was updated to version 9.0.0, which, among other things, added a feature to invite members of your Friend List to online games. The only game that used this at its introduction was Divinity: Original Sin II, and it took 18 months for a first-party Nintendo game (Super Mario Party) to use it. Several longtime Switch owners only learned it was a feature when they played the mid-January 2021 rerelease of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game, which also makes use of the Switch's invite function.
    • An update introduced the option to remap buttons, allowing you to have custom button configurations even for games that don't have their own built-in controller settings. However they only work for wireless controllers, not for wired controllers (including third-party wireless controllers that use a receiver connected to the Switch via USB, and therefore are treated as wired controllers). And overlapping with Scrappy Mechanic, the button remapping requires you to go into the system settings, go down to near the end of the tab list to "Controllers and Sensors", and finally click on "Change Button Mapping", as opposed to this feature being available from the home menu, let alone available on a per-game basis.
  • As part of its Game for Windows push, Microsoft hyped a feature called "Tray and Play", which allowed PC users to play their games as they were being installed, streaming it from the disc like on a game console. Despite some initial interest, the only game to make use of this feature was the much-loathed Vista PC port of Halo 2.
  • DirectX has had a lot of different components added and deprecated through the years, with some getting more mileage than others:
    • DirectMusic, which is a bit of an oddball among the components in that it's not an interface that is programmed, rather more of a music manipulation engine to create effects such as a Variable Mix. While it was very neat in theory, it was rarely ever used due to it relying on sequenced music in an era where that was increasingly getting seen as old school, in addition to the fact that most game developers don't consider the high amount of effort to make proper use of it worth the payoff. Only a very small handful of games made use of it and it only lasted three versions (from 6 to 8) before being deprecated entirely, alongside most of the other legacy components.
    • Near the end of its useful life, DirectPlay was given voice chat capabilities. Owing to online gaming still being in its fairly early stages though, this wasn't used a whole lot either before it was pushed to the side in favor of Games for Windows Live.
    • Direct3D Retained Mode; this was meant to be a beginner-friendly 3D graphics mode akin to a Game Engine, where the programmer would build a "scene" that they could add and remove things from, as opposed to the more bare bones Immediate Mode. Unfortunately, the performance took a drastic hit to make this ease of use possible, making it a generally very undesirable method. Only two games that sold in any significant capacity note  made use of it and Microsoft didn't update it after version 3.
  • The SuperGrafx was a short-lived Product Facelift of the PC Engine which boasted extra hardware while retaining full backward compatibility with the console's library and accessories. Although regular HuCards games could be programmed to take advantage of the SuperGrafx's specs, the only game to make use of this feature was Darius Plus and its promotional Boss Game variant Darius Alpha, to reduce slowdowns and flickering.
  • The original Xbox had a memory card accessory that plugged into the controller port. This might have found some reasonable amount of use...were it not for the fact the console already came with a built-in hard disk drive for saving to begin with. Very few games natively support saving to the card, and some game saves are even digitally signed so you can't even copy them via the dashboard. As a result, the accessory was generally seen as situationally beneficial at best (such as for sharing saves between friends) and most tend to forget the console ever had a memory card to begin with. It didn't help that the memory card only held 32 MB when the HDD typically had a capacity of 8 GB.
  • Similar to the above, the VMU in the Dreamcast had features beyond just being able to save games — it also doubled as a primitive controller screen for displaying game information and could even be used as a simple handheld game system when it wasn't in the controller. Unfortunately, very few games made any use of either feature, with most just opting to display the game logo while playing. It didn't exactly help that the device was extremely power hungry, which is a major issue when it uses coin cell batteries that are nowhere near as cheap to replace as alkaline batteries.
  • The Sega Saturn's first party Mission Stick controller supported plugging a 2nd stick in the unused left/right port for dual stick gameplay. Sadly, the only game to support this feature is Panzer Dragoon Zwei.

  • In the first Hotline Miami, you can take a Human Shield if you're holding an one-handed gun (such as a pistol) and use the "execution" key near a knocked-down enemy. It's rather hard to do in the heat of battle (especially since two-handed guns are more common than one-handed ones) and most players complete the game without doing it even once (except to get one particular achievement). The feature was removed from the sequel.
  • Devil May Cry 5 has the Cameo system. If you're connected to the internet and able to play online, then moments where the characters fight near each other should have "cameos" by players playing the level where they'd control said character in that instance online, even being able to fight alongside other players in limited co-op. In practice, cameos by actual players are rare when the level necessary for a cameo are unpopular (such as any of V's levels) leading to cameos by "The DMC Crew" (which just indicates AI controlled characters), it's so hard to affect the fights that other players are involved in when they cameo to the point that most people don't realize you actually can affect their fights (you pretty much need to intentionally use wide AoE moves as close to them as possible or even directly try to affect their fight). It's also disabled entirely in Vergil's campaign and Turbo mode, both added to the Special Edition Updated Re-release one console generation later (playing Nero/Dante/V's campaigns with turbo mode disabled causes Cameos to work like normal, but now many players will be playing Turbo Mode or V's campaign themselves). While the mechanic is very cool when it works, the ultimate effect is making many players want a true co-op experience that the game clearly is capable of allowing, but no actual way to do so.

  • Remember Me has only a few memory-altering minigames, which is particularly egregious in that these puzzles were a major selling point for the game during the pre-release promotion.
  • Jak and Daxter:
    • Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy: Red Eco, easily the least common, only appears in two or three places and is vastly overshadowed by the use of Blue and Yellow Eco. The ability to fire blasts from Yellow Eco in particular makes the doubled strength of Red Eco almost feel redundant.
    • Jak 3: Wastelander: One new feature that many fans felt was disappointing was the implementation of Jak's new Dark Eco ability of Invisibility. Aside from a once-visited volcano level, it could only be used at the Monk's Precursor Temple monastery, denying the possibility of any stealth-based missions or tactics outside that location. That said, there is an unlockable ability to turn invisible by pressing the triangle button in Dark Jak form, but that only becomes available after completing the game (though it's subverted if you were to buy it from the Secrets menu and then start a New Game on Hero Mode).
    • Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier has the Eco teleport ability, which allows Jak to switch places with Precursor statues and only those statues. It's used for a few puzzles and is impossible to use anywhere else (due to a lack of said statues), something that isn't true of the other Eco powers.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: In order to open access to Swamp Palace, you have to go into the Light World and open the floodgates in the shrine there, which will flood the first room in the Swamp Palace. This is the only instance of the player doing things in one world to change things in the other, despite all the potential puzzles it could allow.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time:
      • Din's Fire is a magic spell that sends out a shockwave of fire. It can be obtained quite early in the game, as the location is accessed using bombs, which you get by the second dungeon. However, Din's Fire is only required once for a trap room in the Shadow Temple, a fairly late game dungeon. Aside from that, its only other use for a puzzle is to open the same temple - but using it there is optional assuming you already have the Fire Arrows. As for combat, you can use the spell to attack enemies, but you'll never really be in a big enough fight that a large AoE fireball would be more effective than just using your sword instead. Plus, using them on Keese only sets them on fire instead of killing them, and many other enemies, even minor ones, are immune. Master Quest, however, makes more use of the item where every Temple after Forest needs either Din's Fire or the Fire Arrows.
      • Bombchu are mobile bombs that can crawl up the walls and ceiling, but the only time you ever actually need to use them is once in the Spirit Temple and in Ganon's Castle, both places being the last two dungeons in the game. It's simply easier to use regular bombs when you need to blow up something, especially as you can carry much, much more of those than you can Bombchus. The Master Quest version of the game does give Bombchus a bit more use, but not by a whole lot.
      • The Boomerang. It is required for the third dungeon where it's found, used once or twice in the Spirit Temple, and never needed anywhere else other than a few Skulltulas that are out of reach for Link's child form. It cannot be used when Link is an adult, where the Hookshot takes its purpose (reaching distant targets).
      • The Song of Storms is required to gain access to the Bottom of the Well and that's all it's ever used for outside of 100% Completion, whereas all other songs get a lot of use as a means of teleportation or for multiple puzzles. It's somewhat more useful in Majora's Mask: you only need it to make progress in Ikana Canyon, but it makes watering plants to grow them a lot less tedious (summon instant rain instead of having to go back and forth for bottles of water.)
      • Diving in general. You only need to dive underwater a grand total of three times to advance in the game; first one is in the first dungeon where you need to reach a button, the second one is used for a diving mini-game to obtain the Silver Scale, and the third occurrence is using said Silver Scale to reach a bottle containing a letter underwater. You can completely skip the Golden Scale, which is only used once at Lake Hylia's lab to impress an NPC for a Piece of Heart. The Silver Scale also opens up a useful shortcut between the Lost Woods and Zora's River.
      • The Iron and Hover Boots only get their most mileage out of the dungeons they were designed for (Water and Shadow Temples respectively). Ganon's Tower also makes use of them in their respective rooms, but that is it. Likewise, the Mirror Shield only gets any real use in the Spirit Temple and one section of Ganon's Castle, which are late to end game content. The Goron Tunic (heat protection) only has use inside the Death Mountain Crater and the Fire Temple while the Zora Tunic (underwater breathing) is only useful for the Water Temple. Blue Fire is only useful in the Ice Cavern, freeing a frozen King Zora, and one section of Ganon's Castle where the item's only purpose is to melt red ice. Light Arrows are obtained at the end of the game and are required, but it has zero use outside of its intended purpose and costs too much magic to kill stuff. The Ice Arrows, obtained fairly late in the game, can be completely skipped since they're optional. While freezing enemies is nice, there's nothing you don't have at that point that can do the same thing but faster.
    • Many of the optional masks in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask are only needed as "keys" for one or two sidequests each instead of having a gameplay use. Standout cases are the Circus/Troupe Leader's Mask (which had a completely redundant purpose in the original gamenote ; the remake lets it activate a new sidequest) and the Giant's Mask (which is gotten slightly before the fight with Twinmold and only works in its arena). The Fierce Deity's Mask absolutely tears everything to shreds, but you can only obtain it after getting all 24 regular masks and the mask itself can only be used in boss fights.note  By the time you even get the mask, you're a step away from the Final Boss.
    • Sidling in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is only brought up during exploration of the Forsaken Fortress, and a few other select instances (such as Dragon Roost Island when visited for the first time, and Fire Mountain). There's also the Slippy-Slidey Ice World mechanic, used in one mini-dungeon and never, ever again.
    • Many items in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess are notorious for rarely being used outside of their own dungeons. The worst cases are the Spinner and Dominion Rod.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword only lets you pick up and temporarily use enemy weapons (a mechanic with decent importance in The Wind Waker; many enemies wield weapons, all of them are usable, and with different strengths and weaknesses that make them quite fun.) during the boss battle with Koloktos, where you have to use its giant cutlasses to hack away at its core. No other enemies in Skyward Sword drop usable weapons.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has only three points in the game where the Sheikah Slate is made unusable (disabling map and teleportation): all three in the desert, caused by the sandstorms, which are permanently cleared after completing certain tasks.
  • Super Metroid:
    • Toggling upgrades off in the Samus menu. If you ever use this menu, it will most likely be to switch between the Spazer Beam and Plasma Beam as they cannot be used simultaneously (and there are scenarios where you'd want to use one over the other — turning off the Ice Beam similarly has a few use cases), but it can also be used to disable every upgrades you've gotten so far bar Energy Tanks and your special select button weapons (Missile, Super Missiles, and Power Bombs). There is only a single reason to do this: when only the Charge Beam and one of the other four beams is enabled, selecting Power Bombs and then charging Samus' Arm Cannon activates a special attack, which is different depending on which of the other four beams was used. Aside from this mechanic never being explained and only making one appearance in the Attract Mode, the special attacks are not required for any puzzles or exploration, and are not particularly useful for combat given the inconvenience of disabling your other, more powerful beams. Thus most players will play through the game without knowing these attacks exist, and if they do, they'll probably never use them. Disabling anything else is completely useless. Tellingly, this mechanic does not return in any future games (though it was Dummied Out of Zero Mission).
    • The Reserve Tanks act as spare Energy Tanks that you can use manually or, well, keep in reserve to automatically replenish your health when you run out of it completely. A nice idea, but not the most convenient; the only way to refill them is to either collect energy pickups while your health is maxed out, or backtrack to Samus's ship, so the type of players that would benefit from auto-revives the most would need to maintain high health to make regular use of them anyway. To date, the only other game the mechanic has appeared in is Metroid: Samus Returns, and only as an extra you receive for scanning the Zero Suit Samus amiibo.
    • The Crystal Flash technique, which requires that Samus have fewer than 50 units of energy, no reserve energy, at least 10 of each missile, and at least 11 Power Bombs.note  The player must then lay a Power Bomb and input a button combination (L + R + Down + Shoot), without moving or taking damage. Success results in a complete energy recharge. While cool, this ability is so situational that the only time you'll see someone use it is during a speedrun (which requires you to pull these off with perfect timing to get through Lower Norfair early, since you'll be constantly losing health). Super remains the only entry in the series where Samus can pull off this technique.
  • The developers of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time noticed players ignored most of the techniques using the Sands of Time, and made sequel Prince of Persia: Warrior Within integrate them more on the gameplay, such as moments that require slow motion or fast-forward.
  • The early Tomb Raider games had the swan dive that could be performed by holding the walk button as you made a forward jump. Doing a swan dive into the water would push Lara deeper into the water whereas a normal fall into the water wouldn't submerge her as far. Outside of speedrun strategies, swan diving is never used for anything and it's not even mentioned in the manual. Missing your swan dive or performing it at a bad spot by mistake would instantly kill Lara with a neck snap due to the height.
  • Poptropica:
    • At the end of Twisted Thicket Island, you get an amulet that gives you the powers of flight, super speed, and super strength, which you can switch between instantly. This is only used for the final boss battle, and then the island is over. As per most ability-granting items, you can't use it on any other islands. While you do get to use the amulet more in the bonus quest, this is locked behind membership.
    • On Counterfeit Island, you need to find the curator of the museum. She's on Early Poptropica Island, and when you visit her over there, you get a key that's added to your Counterfeit Island inventory. This is the only instance of one island requiring you to visit a different one, or an event being triggered on an island that changes another. Considering the nonlinear format in which the islands can be completed, this could have led to an interesting interconnected world, but is the only such instance of this happening in the game.
  • Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth, the metroidvania based on Record of Lodoss War, gives Deedlit the ability to switch between two elemental familiars (fire/wind) in order to absorb magic damage a la Ikaruga or to hurt enemies of the opposite element. The starting section acts as a tutorial and shows that with the wind elemental you can hover in mid-air and with the fire one you can blow up explosive barrels; the latter use, however, never comes up again in any other point of the game.

    Beat 'em Up 
  • Fairy in the Shrek 2 game has the exclusive ability of using her magic to make teammates and enemies alike float into the air for a short time, with the allotted time being based on the targeted character's weight. However, Fairy is only playable in one level (where said ability isn't used for any puzzles) and a bonus minigame (where said ability doesn't function on any of her teammates or any enemy that isn't also present in her one level), ensuring you'll likely forget the ability exists before long.

    Driving Game 
  • F-Zero AX is the only game in the series to increase the number of laps based on the track length, resulting especially in the very short Aeropolis: Screw Drive and Mute City: Sonic Oval tracks having decently long course times with 6 and 8 laps, respectively. In GX, these tracks are practically over as soon as they start, due to using the usual three-lap rule.
  • Mario Kart series:
    • In the Arcade GP games, a shield appears around your kart whenever you powerslide, protecting you from projectile attacks. Despite helping cut down on the frustration of getting hit by attacks that you can do very little about (in the main games, you can trail a shell or banana behind you, or deploy a Super Horn in Mario Kart 8 but each is only good for one attack and requires getting them from Item Boxes first), it has yet to be put into a consumer-software Mario Kart game.
    • Double Dash!! has the Baby Park course, which is a small oval-shaped track where each lap can be done in 10-15 seconds. As a result, it's a 7-lap course (5 laps in Mario Kart DS) whereas every other modern Mario Kart course is strictly 3 laps. Heck, even though the original Super Mario Kart is all 5-lap courses, they're retrofitted to 3 laps whenever they show up in later games.
    • Mario Kart 8 has two courses that are one long track divided into 3 sections to count off 3 "laps": Mount Wario and Big Blue (the latter of which is DLC). N64 Rainbow Road is similar in that the original course was a 3-lap circuit, but its MK8 version divides the 3 laps across a single run of the track.
  • Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune:
    • In Maximum Tune 2, if all players in a 2- or 3-player VS match on a setup with at least one open cabinet hold down the red button during course loading, additional players cannot join in on the race. This was unfortunately not kept from Maximum Tune 3 onwards, meaning that an intense <4-player battle could be suddenly interrupted — yes, even at the very end — by a cardless player or a Griefer and there's nothing that can be done to prevent it short of forcing said player to decline challenging.
    • In Maximum Tune 3, when racing in a Tokyo sub-area or Hakone in VS, players can vote on the starting ramp. This was removed in 3DX onwards in favor of randomized ramp selection.
    • In Maximum Tune 5, Extreme Versus Battle mode allows the players to drive the cars in reverse, oncoming traffic configurations. However, due to Interface Screw issues, this was deleted from 5DX.
  • FAST Racing Neo got a post-release update patch to allow Supersonic and Hypersonic in online modes, but for whatever reason, FAST RMX did not get the same feature, limiting online play to Subsonic. So if you wanna race online with a top speed of more than roughly 750 mph, you're gonna have to dust off the Wii U.

    Fighting Game 
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • Super Smash Bros. Melee:
      • This game stands out by having the most "advanced techniques" in the franchise, the most prominent of which is wavedashing, a slightly Good Bad Bug movement method that defines the metagame to this day. Most of them were either removed or nerfed in Brawl onwards to streamline gameplay; nobody can agree on if this was a good idea or not.
      • This is the last game in the series to have individual "Break the Targets" levels for every fighter. Brawl reduces the mode to just five stages of increasing difficulty with a focus on item usage, 3DS/Wii U replaces it with Target Blast, and Ultimate lacks any version at all.
    • Super Smash Bros. Brawl:
      • This game introduces stickers as a counterpart to trophies, depicting lesser-known characters and objects from Nintendo's franchises. These stickers can be put on a fighter's "trophy stand" via an Inventory Management Puzzle, providing stat boosts or special benefits such as starting items. However, this feature is exclusive to the Subspace Emissary story mode, so stickers are useless when it comes to multiplayer. 3DS/Wii U also includes stat editing for fighters (and it works in every mode), but it's done with a simple three-slot system of equips, lacking the unique appearances of stickers, which did not make the cut. Ultimate has spirits, which effectively combines the two ideas.
      • Gliding is a rather peculiar recovery technique that only three characters can utilize. It was dropped in future installments.
    • Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U:
      • Custom Moves, which are alternate moves that you can give your character in place of their standard specials. For a majority of characters, these are unlocked at random through normal gameplay. Only the Mii characters and Palutena have all of them available at the start, with all the specials they have being radically different. The nature of custom moves and Mii Fighters meant that they weren't allowed in online play unless with friends, and the competitive scene completely rejected them. The DLC characters didn't have Custom Moves, and come Ultimate, custom movesets for any character outside the Miis were completely abandoned, with Miis also now being allowed for online play in any mode.
      • The Donkey Kong Country Returns stage "Jungle Hijinx" features a unique mechanic where the fighters can jump into barrel cannons that blast them into the background of the stage, where they fight on a separate plane and have a higher launch rate. This stage didn't return in Ultimate despite the uniqueness, as it was likely a victim of the new Stage Morph feature (it would be tricky to transfer the fighters to the new stage if they were split between two planes of interaction).
      • The Pyrosphere stage features Ridley (with his Other M design) as a boss character that can interrupt the fight, but unlike other stage bosses, Ridley will join a player's side if they deal enough damage to him, and he'll act like another fighter who can be KOed for points. Ultimate cut Pyrosphere from the stage roster and took Ridley with it, likely because it wouldn't make sense to include Ridley as a special fighter when Ridley's already on the roster. note 
  • Tatsunoko vs. Capcom had snapbacks, a mechanic where you force your opponent's point character out and bring in their second character. It's an important mechanic in other versus titles, but in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom only three characters had moves that could force a snapback (Alex, PTX, and Gold Lightan). Thankfully, Capcom would bring back snapbacks as a universal mechanic in Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

  • Dynasty Warriors 6 introduced new mechanics to the series such as grab attacks note , dodging, the need to break down doors to bases before entering them, on-map duels, and attacks after winning weapon locks. However, due to the poor reception of DW6 (mostly due to the Renbu battle system, cut characters, etc.), they decided to scrap all of these features come DW7.
  • In the Legend Mode of Hyrule Warriors, the monster officers are the player's main army in missions starring the villains. However in Adventure mode, the player's army is always composed of Hylians and Gorons. This applies even in missions involving the villains fighting the heroes of the series, creating scenarios like Monster Lord, Ghirahim, commanding an army of Gorons to fight Goron King Darunia and his army of monsters.

    Platform Game 
  • Donkey Kong Country:
    • Barrel cannons are more common in this game than the second and third, and many of them either rotate or move back and forth, but the kind that rotate while moving are found only in Snow Barrel Blast.
    • DK has a Hand Slap move that's extremely situational, with almost no practical use. It's to the point that many players are not even aware of its existence and think that his down special in Super Smash Bros. was created for that series, rather than starting in his own.
    • The second and third games have some rare barrel types, too. The rotatable barrels with time limits are in a few levels in Donkey Kong Country 2, but the movable ones appear only in Fiery Furnace, including a single one without a time limit in a bonus area (there is also only one rotating one with no time limit, found in the last stretch of Klobber Karnage). In 3, the rocket barrels and tracker barrels each show up in one level in Cotton-Top Cove as the level gimmick and nowhere else.
    • Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! introduces Dixie's ability to lob Kiddy Kong into the air, at which point he smashes into the ground, potentially revealing secrets. The very first stage, Lakeside Limbo, has you use this to access the first Bonus Barrel, which is the only time most players will use this move, as any further uses for it only yield Bear Coins (the main currency, which is given out liberally without the need to smash the ground open).
    • Also in DKC3, Kiddy can skip on water up to three times in a row. This is only brought up in the manual, and the only practical use for it ingame is for a bonus in both Tidal Trouble and Riverside Race. It's hard to time, as it requires that you roll off a ledge, then press jump when Kiddy is about to hit the water. If you have to get across water, it's usually more efficient to use Dixie's helicopter twirl to just float above it.
    • The wooden crates. They were introduced in DKC2 and acted as another projectile type, basically a barrel that couldn't roll, and they commonly appeared in the pirate ship levels, as well as various other themes such as the swamp. In DKC3, however, there is only one of them in the entire game, found about 1/3 of the way through Barrel Drop Bounce.
    • Certain animal buddies have a very limited role. In the first game, Squawks only appeared in a single level, where his purpose was to light up your path. However, later games gave him considerably more to do. In the second game, Squawks' original role was transferred to Glimmer the Angler Fish, who only appeared in one level as well. Quawks (the purple parrot) only appears in one level, while Clapper the Seal only shows up in two, and he essentially functions as a glorified stage element, cooling down the otherwise damaging hot water when jumped on and doing nothing else.
  • Kirby
    • Kirby: Squeak Squad features an ability mixing system where you can combined two ability bubbles to make a new ability. While this usually creates a preexisting ability, there are a few special abilities that can be made with certain combinations. The problem is that there are only five of these (not counting mixing two Sleeps to get Ghost), you don't get the scrolls that let you create them until the last third of the game, and they're just elemental versions of Sword and Bomb, not providing much extra combat capability. It's basically a watered-down version of Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards' ability combination system.
    • Kirby: Planet Robobot included more in-depth amiibo support than most other Nintendo games. During gameplay, tapping an amiibo would give Kirby a specific copy ability depending on what amiibo was scanned (scanning Mario would give Kirby the Fire ability for example), or a random one if the figure wasn't supported. There were even special skins and rare abilities like Smash Bros. and UFO that could be received by scanning Kirby-series amiibo. None of this would make it into the following game, Kirby Star Allies; scanning any amiibo just heals you and gives you a few extra picture pieces, and Kirby-series figures give you stronger healing.
  • Ratchet & Clank: Practically a staple trope of the franchise thanks to certain gadgets and mechanics that show up with only a few levels to go:
    • Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando
      • One of the 3 new robots that can assist Clank is the Lifterbot, which can lift up blocks for Clank. Or rather, it can lift up the singular lift block in the game for Clank, and then wait until Challenge Mode to be used again. The Lifterbot was intended to be used more than just the one time, but they couldn't get the section in.
      • The Hypnomatic gadget is used for only three very brief segments, all in levels at the tail end of the game.
    • Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal
      • The Warp Pad is a gadget that lets you place a temporary location you can warp to at circular panels on the ground. There are 2 of these panels in the entirety of the game, which both appear in the same level, and one of them can be bypassed by using the Charge Boots instead. It was originally supposed to be usable anywhere, but Insomniac quickly realized this could be a total Game-Breaker and would require extensive testing of every level to make sure it didn't create any bugs, and by then it was too late in production. So they had two choices: either cut it entirely, or heavily limit it.
      • Giant Clank is used a grand total of once, in a miniboss fight in Holostar Studios.
    • In Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, Ratchet picks up the Heli-Pods which, outside of an extremely brief tutorial section, are used for an optional level path on Ardolis and are then forgotten about until another optional area in the midgame level Zordoom Prison. Since it's optional, players have often missed this and then stumble into a level soon after that requires them, for just one instance, causing many players to get stuck not knowing how to get past.
    • In Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time, the Time Bombs after you recover Clank. While Clank uses them a lot in his own levels, they are eventually unlocked for Ratchet too... and he never has to use them, except if you feel like slowing enemies down. Which you by no means have to, as by this point Ratchet's arsenal is about as powerful as it can possibly be, and no enemies are fast enough to require it. According to the Insomniac Museum, there were puzzles intended for Ratchet that would require using Clank's Time Bombs, but they were cut for time.
  • In Sheep, Dog 'n' Wolf, we have a mechanic where you can keep running in the air for a few seconds after running off a cliff (in typical Looney Tunes fashion). This mechanic isn't put to any practical use anywhere outside the tutorial, although it is useful when you accidentally sprint off a cliff and need to recover, or to make crossing bodies of water quicker.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario Bros. 2 requires you to ride Birdo's egg in World 4-3 in order to cross the large body of water and advance to the rest of the level. No other level does this.
    • Super Mario Bros. 3:
      • The Goomba's Shoe. Using it was the only way Mario could defy Spikes of Doom and enemies with them, and it made World 5-3 a memorable level... and only 5-3, because the shoe isn't found anywhere else, can't be taken out of the level, and proceeded to disappear from the series without a trace. Even the game's official guide written by Nintendo Power laments that it appears nowhere else. The GBA version added an e-Reader level that uses Goomba's Shoe, but it wouldn't properly return until Super Mario Maker, where the shoe and variations of it can be added to levels. To a lesser extent, there's the Hammer Bros. Suit; beloved for being a Game-Breaker, but it has yet to return to the series, though it can at least be used in any level.
      • Pink Note Blocks only appear in five levels, two of which are in World 1.
      • World 8 has map gimmicks that aren't used anywhere else. The second map screen have level tiles you can skip over, but if you are unlucky, a hand will pull Mario in and you're forced to play the level. The third map screen is in complete darkness except for the small circle of light surrounding Mario. All this does is make navigating the map more tricky.
    • Super Mario World:
      • The red, blue, and yellow Yoshis appear only in Star World, and only once or twice each: red in Star World 1 and 4, yellow in 3 and 5, and blue in 2 only. Alleviated in the GBA remake, where after finding them the first time you can then obtain them in any other level based on what power-up you are holding at the moment. note 
      • Yoshi's Island 3 is the only level containing the large swinging platforms, except for a single other one in one bonus area in Chocolate Island 3.
      • Valley of Bowser 3 is the only one with the numbered platforms, which act as a timer to how long you can stand on them until they fall.
      • The game has 3-UP moons that grant three extra lives when collected. Only a few levels have them and they're usually in out of the way locations that most players will never find unless they purposely search for them.
      • The Sunken Ghost Ship uses a goal sphere (marked with a "?") to end the level instead of a goal tape or boss, similar to the ones dropped by minibosses in Super Mario Bros. 3. It's the only level that does this, possibly because the last room of the level is vertical and regular goal points do not work correctly in vertical levels.
      • Silver P-Switches turns certain enemies into silver coins that grant the player extra lives when enough are collected. The item is hardly ever used.
    • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island:
      • One of the last rooms in 4-4 has a 3D tilting board platform in the middle of the room over a lava pit. It seems to serve no purpose other than to make the last red coin more dangerous to collect (the room contains no enemies), and the sprite does not show up anywhere else in the game.
      • There is also a strange pink round platform with a double arrow found only in a bonus room of 4-6.
      • There is a variant of the flipping spike platform that has two platforms with a switch in the middle, and hitting the switch causes the platforms to rotate 90 degrees at a time and then pause. It's completely unused, despite being fully functional.
      • The colored triangle-patterned moving platforms are in many levels in the game. However, the first room of 6-4 is the only place where you can find them with their alternate graphical style.
      • Perhaps justifiably, 3-4 has an almost unique graphical tileset throughout the level (except for the very beginning because the tileset gets swapped a couple screens in); outside of it, the background is only found in one room of 3-3 and the foreground only in two small rooms in 6-4 (with a different palette to boot).
      • The "Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest" minigame can be found behind one locked door in 2-6...and nowhere else in the game aside from the minigame cheat menu, unlike every other minigame, which all appear at least 3 times each in one form or another. (And it's a shame, since that was probably the most fun minigame of the bunch and is guaranteed to give you a Super Watermelon, which has 3 times as much ammo as a non-storable watermelon of the same type and cannot be obtained from any other minigame.)
      • The ability to make Yoshi's eggs skip across water is only actually put to use in 3-8, including its boss battle.
      • Really, in addition to its Unique Enemies, Yoshi's Island has a veritable myriad of these: the 3D falling drawbridges are only in 1-4, Melon Bugs are only in 1-7, the poundable red platforms are only in the last room of 1-7 and in one small part of 4-1, there's a type of platform ghost that appears only once in one room of 1-8 (as well as the one in the penultimate room of 5-4), the car morph only shows up in the last room of 2-7, the floating logs are only in the second room of 2-8, the inflatable balloon is only in 4-3 and a bonus room in 4-7, the ski lifts are only in 5-2 as the level's gimmick and in one section of 5-3, there's a unique Baron Von Zeppelin in 5-3 carrying a blue melon, the funny yellow squishy platforms are only in 5-4 (and a very well-hidden bonus room in 2-1), the spinning logs are only in 6-3 as the level's gimmick, the pseudo-3D pipes are only in 6-4 (despite there being other pseudo-3D castle levels), there is only one numbered platform with a 4 on it that is found early in 6-7, and so on.
    • Unfortunately, the Wing, Metal and Vanish Caps from Super Mario 64 suffer from this. The Wing Cap, on top of being difficult to control, is only needed for a few stars. The Metal Cap does make you near-invincible, but since platforming takes precedence over combat, it's basically just used for the odd puzzle here and there. The Vanish Cap is even more underutilized and basically just serves as a key to get a handful of stars, and it shows up in areas where its own invincibility properties are basically useless. The DS remake mitigates these somewhat by tying them to specific characters, though while Luigi is sure to get plenty of mileage out of it, Wario probably won't be seeing much use outside of a Self-Imposed Challenge or Wario/Metal Cap-specific stages anyway.
    • Super Mario Sunshine:
      • Yoshi's use is fairly limited. He has a host of abilities, but the only one that gets any real use is spraying juice on blockades. His flutter jump is outclassed by the FLUDD nozzles, and turning enemies into platforms is only utilized in a single mission, which also makes changing Yoshi's color (which creates different platform behaviors) unnecessary outside of another single mission. He doesn't even show up much, only being needed for about one episode per level (sometimes only to open up a secret stage) and some Delfino Plaza secrets.
      • The FLUDD's Squirt and Hover Nozzles are critical to the gameplay as the default equipment, and the Rocket Nozzle's vertical boost is very convenient. The Turbo Nozzle, in spite of its water-running capabilities and speed boost, is not nearly as useful; levels are more vertical than horizontal, and since secondary nozzles are Mutually Exclusive Powerups, it's hard to justify swapping out Hover or Rocket for it. Similar to Yoshi, it gets most of its usage as a key for Delfino Plaza secrets, and its only dedicated Shine Sprites are one in a bonus level and one in Delfino Airstrip.
    • New Super Mario Bros.:
      • The Blue Shell is fun to use due to its defensive capabilities, improved swimming ability and shell slide (also, nice to have the Blue Shell not be the object of fear and hatred for a change), but it appears far too infrequently as it’s absent from all normal ? blocks (while there‘s an enemy that drops it, said enemy only appears in a multiplayer stage), and none of the stages are really built around using it. It's also one of the few powerups that hasn't appeared in any other New series games, though the Penguin Suit is a Suspiciously Similar Substitute.
      • The game also has quite a few platform types that appear in only one level, even if there is no reason for them to be so rare. Among other examples, 1-2 is the only level with the see-saw logs, 1-Castle with tightropes, 3-A is the only one with the groups of 3 rotating platforms (despite the equivalent in Super Mario World being noticeably more common), 4-5 is the only one with the "drawbridge" platforms, and 6-3 is the only one with the large floating logs. At the end of 2-6, there is a pipe blocked by a cork that can be pumped up to pop the cork out, which never shows up again.
    • New Super Mario Bros. Wii, meanwhile, only has the Spine Coaster in 8-7, which is a hidden level. Yoshis are also quite rare, only appearing in about six levels.
    • Super Mario Galaxy / Super Mario Galaxy 2:
      • Red Stars give Mario the ability to fly indefinitely until they wear off and let him magnetize collectibles towards him by spinning. There are only two of these Stars in the whole game: one in the Gateway Galaxy in a Purple Coin mission, and the other in the Comet Observatory for reaching a few 1-Up Mushrooms (at a point where you won't need many since the final level is likely open already). They're never used in a boss battle, and they don't return in Galaxy 2.
      • The Boo Mushroom lets Mario float and pass through gates, but is canceled by light and causes Boos to chase him. It only shows up in three missions across three galaxies, none of them lasting very long, and it doesn't have a boss battle since it can't attack. In Galaxy 2, it's found in Boo Moon Galaxy for one mission and nowhere else.
      • The Fast-Foe Prankster Comet only alters two missions in Galaxy (the other four Prankster Comets modify at least four missions each), both revolving around Tox Boxes, so it never gets to affect normal enemies or bosses. It's replaced by the Double-Time comet in Galaxy 2, which speeds up the level's obstacles instead of enemies, but this is also used for just two stars.
    • Super Mario 3D World only has one "regular" desert level with its own musicnote  in the form of Conkdor Canyon, which is unusual since deserts have been a Mario series staple and the whole second World Map has a desert theme.
  • Crash Bandicoot:
    • Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped introduced the Slot Crate, a slot machine-like crate with changing pictures representing the prizes inside. They only appear in six levels in the entire game, three of which are in the first Warp Room. Curiously, they are far more common in some of the later games, especially the GBA titles.
    • Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex:
      • The game introduced Invisibility Boxes. There are three of them in the entire game, two of them in the same level. Especially jarring when considering the amount of crates in this game.
      • The tiptoeing ability lets you walk on bridges made of Nitro Crates. Too bad there are about three places where this is useful, and even then it's quicker and simpler to just use the Double Jump + Death Tornado spin combo, as all of the Nitro bridges are in optional parts of levels. Many players get the Golden Ending without tiptoeing once.
    • Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time has three extra playable characters, Cortex, Dingodile, and an alternate universe Tawna. Each brings with them fresh new mechanics that change up how players approach the game. After their introductory stages, each of their (few) subsequent stages only devotes the first two thirds to actually playing as the new character, with the last third being a harder remix of the final leg of a stage Crash/Coco already completed.
  • Spyro the Dragon:
    • Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! has the Dragon Shores level as a 100% Completion bonus, with its ultimate reward being a power-up gate that turns Spyro's fire breath into a permanent Superflame. This upgrade could then be carried over into a new save file, allowing you to run through the whole game with a long-range fire blast that bypasses many puzzles and breaks two of the boss fights. Spyro: Year of the Dragon does not continue this tradition; clearing the Super Bonus Round only nets you the final dragon egg and no extra powers.
    • Spyro: Year of the Dragon: Enchanted Towers has both Spyro and Sgt. Byrd playable in its main portion, letting you switch between them via a warp gate. Exploring the same area as two different characters had a lot of potential, but this is the only level that does this; in all other levels, companion characters are restricted to their own areas.
  • Banjo-Tooie utilized tiptoeing. By pressing the control stick only slightly, you can tiptoe silently, which allows you to sneak through certain areas without being noticed by NPCs. It's used for two Jiggies in the first level, and then never again.
  • Shantae and the Pirate's Curse: The magic lamp has an entire button dedicated to using it, which seems like overkill considering that it's only used to suck up the dark magic of the Cacklebats (which could have been replaced with the magic being automatically collected) and to carry scents to certain characters (which you only do twice in the game). In short, it's just a glorified way to obtain certain items.
  • Pac-Man World: The first game allows Pac-Man to use the Pac-Dots he picks up as ammo for taking out enemies. Only a few enemies in the game outright required this for defeating them, and the butt-bounce is a far more versatile ability that doesn't require consumable ammo to use so most players rarely ever used the dots for killing enemies. The other two games don't even give them this function: World 2 uses Pac-Dots as standard Gotta Catch Them All collectibles, while in World 3 they only serve a Follow the Money purpose and just add to your score.
  • Pac-Man World 2:
    • Helivators went from being a major platforming element on the first game to being a One-Scene Wonder in “Volcanic Panic” on this one.
    • There are swimming controls and mechanics just like the first game... even though there's only two levels in the whole game with swimmable water in them, both in the first world. The Under the Sea levels have completely different controls, and Metal Pac-Man gets more use in bypassing fire/lava than for sinking into water.
    • There's also the shrinking power pellet, which gets used twice, once to exit a level and once to enter a secret room, neither moment having notable utility or lasting more than a few seconds.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog games have so many examples that it wraps back around to being averted, especially with the 2-D games: Every stage will have at least two or three, but usually closer to six or seven gimmicks, obstacles, and enemies with unusual behavior that's unique to that stage. The large majority of them will never ever return for any subsequent stage or game. This results in the norm being the unique features, and players expect to never see them used again. A particularly rich example is Toy Kingdom Zone in Sonic Advance 3, which contains Newton Ball platforms, jack-in-the-boxes that spawn either a spring or spikes depending on what color is displayed, toy rockets that Sonic can grab onto to launch himself upward, spinning panda teacup rides, elephant-shaped ramps, toy soldier enemies that march in threes and shoot their muskets at Sonic, piggy bank enemies that suck away Sonic's Rings, wind-up lion enemies whose heads are bumpers that bounce Sonic away, and clown enemies on unicycles that juggle objects harmful to the touch. Nowhere else in the series are any of these found except for the Newton Ball platforms, which were previously seen in Sonic the Hedgehog 2's Mystic Cave Zone. Toy Kingdom Zone also has large square platforms that have been seen in other games, but no other Sonic Advance 3 stage has it, and the ones found in Toy Kingdom look very different than any other instance.
    • The stages of Sonic Forces where Sonic and the Avatar team up are considered the best-playing in the game, combining Sonic's boost power with the Avatar's gadgets for a lot of variety in level design and playstyle. They're also the least frequent type of level at a final count of four (one of them is almost a Boss-Only Level and another is a brief interlude before the final boss), so you don't get to mess with it much.
  • Ape Escape 2: Most of the vehicles encountered throughout the game could qualify, as they only appear in two levels each (with the exception of the rowboat, which appears in three). Special mention goes to the Pipo-Mech - it first shows up in the Vita-Z Factory, where it's extensively used in the second half of the level to bash down doors and traverse a series of tunnels before battling an enemy mech Mini-Boss. After this level, it's shelved and doesn't appear again until the Moon Base - 14 levels and 5 bosses later - where it only shows up in a single room for the purpose of battling another mech identical to the last one. This means it is both the first and last vehicle the player gets to use.
  • In Sly 2: Band of Thieves, one of the end-game missions gives Sly a new ability, the Mega Jump, which launches him to insane heights. Despite its incredible usefulness in exploring the levels and finding Clue Bottles, it's only used for that one mission and is then removed. Luckily, there is a cheat code unlocked at 100% completion that lets you assign the move freely, and you can use an Episode Restart code to replay any episode. It can even be used to force an entire game restart with all your current moves, including the Mega Jump!
  • In Mega Man X4, there's the Weapon Tank. In theory, the Weapon Tank is a very big help as it allows you to restore weapon energy when you've ran out. However, in practice, you'll probably rarely use it. For X, this is because this will be negated by the Helmet Part, which grants X unlimited ammo outside of Charged Shots. For Zero, this is because he only has one kind of attack that requires weapon energy, you'll only need it for one boss and it recharges itself via damage.

    Puzzle Game 
  • Tetris:
    • The Tetris: The Grand Master series introduced Initial Rotation System, which lets you pre-rotate the next piece by holding down the button corresponding to your desired rotation direction in the small delay between when a piece locks and when the next piece spawns. Tetris: The Grand Master 3 introduces an offshoot of this called Initial Hold System, which lets you swap out the next piece with whatever is your current Hold piece immediately once said next piece spawns. Both features are extremely useful at high gravity but have not seen wide adaptation to main Tetris games, not even to such games that do feature maximum drop speed such as Tetris DS.
    • Tetris: The Grand Master 2 introduces "sonic drop", where you can quick-drop a piece but without locking it, making filling in overhangs much faster. (To compare, a "hard drop" instant-drops the piece and locks it in place immediately.) It has unfortunately never been used in a main Tetris game; you have to use the also-non-locking-but-slower soft drop instead.
    • Double/co-op mode, where two players share one extra-wide field, can be a fun exercise for friends who like playing Tetris together, but very few Tetris games have it (Tengen's unlicensed NES version of Atari Tetris, Tetris: The Grand Master 2 PLUS, and Tetris Kiwamemichi which notably allows four players to use the same playfield at once).
    • Until the late 90s, "lock delay" (pieces having a delay between when they touch down and when they become locked in place) was mostly exclusive to Tetris games by SEGA and Jaleco; the first game to include it is SEGA's 1988 Tetris arcade game. Nintendo's NES, non-Color Game Boy, and SNES Tetris games as well as Atari's arcade Tetris game and accompanying NES version, all of which are more well-known in the West, don't include lock delay despite being a good way to curb frustration at higher drop speeds.
  • The Witness:
    • A criticism that's sometimes said about the game is that the environment is seldom integrated into the main puzzles. Most puzzles involve drawing a line across a panel depending on symbols written on it, with only some areas involving the world itself into the puzzles. The environmental puzzles are completely dependent on the world, but that doesn't prevent some people from thinking the panel puzzles are lacking.
    • The Y symbol found in the quarry puzzles is seldom seen outside the quarry. There are four puzzles that use it: one in the ghost town, another in the windmill basement, another in the mountain ground floor (technically four, although they're all part of one, big puzzle), and another in the caves. That's it. The reason has probably to do with the way the game reutilises the symbols in areas different to the one that introduces them. In later puzzles, the game tends to combine several symbols to make more complex puzzles, or otherwise adding a gimmick that creates a variation on previously seen puzzles. However, by its own nature, the Y symbol must be combined with other symbols, which means its introductory area already exhausted all possible ways to combine it with other symbols, and its reliance on other symbols makes more difficult to add gimmicks specifically designed around it, as opposed to more simple symbols that can easily have gimmicks.
    • Similarly, while tetrominos are used very often in puzzles, the blue, hollow tetrominos are seldom seen outside of the swamp (what's more, the swamp only uses them in the last puzzles). Again, only three puzzles use them: one in the vault near the desert ruins, another in an optional part of the treehouse area, and another in the caves. It's not clear why this happened, although a theory could explain it. It's been reported a glitch where, when pairing hollow tetrominos with the exact same number of solid tetrominos, the game automatically cancels them among themselves, without bothering to check if the shapes are also the same (as it does when the number of hollow and solid tetrominos isn't the same). This could lead to many unintended solutions, except that there was a good bit of Developers' Foresight, and existing puzzles involving hollow tetrominos are carefully designed so that it's completely impossible to even input such a solution. However, the presence of this glitch may have forced the developers to reduce the number of puzzles involving those glitched tetrominos.
  • Mouse is a sliding-puzzle game by Magma Mobile. In the tutorial there is a level which introduces a breakable block, which breaks when you click on it, freeing up sliding space. In the bonus store, you can even buy a bonus that earns you a coin whenever you break a block. However, outside of the tutorial levels, there are no other breakable blocks in the entire game.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Pikmin:
    • Pikmin 2: Bulbmin are a secret sixth type of Pikmin, being tiny Bulborbs controlled by parasitic Pikmin. Once freed from a wandering adult Bulbmin in a cave sublevel, they can be added to the squad and have immunity to the four elemental hazards. Unfortunately, it's impossible for them to leave caves since they can't go inside an Onion or the Hocotate Ship, so they get left behind unless you use a Candypop Bud to turn them into one of the other Pikmin types. They don't spawn if you have 100 Pikmin already, so you can only find them by entering a cave with a smaller group or by losing Pikmin beforehand. Finally, they appear in three of the fourteen caves plus two Challenge Mode levels; the sole place you can get good use out of them is the Submerged Castle, since only Blue Pikmin can enter it.
    • Pikmin 3: Purple Pikmin and White Pikmin are left out of the story mode, instead appearing in Challenge Mode and Bingo Battle. In Challenge Mode, they're only used in some of the "Collect Treasure" stages, and they lose most of their powers from Pikmin 2 (Purple Pikmin no longer stun or do high damage; White Pikmin have no poison obstacles or buried treasure to interact with, and deal much less damage to enemies who eat them), so they exist just to carry objects.
  • Warcraft III:
    • The "Spirits of Ashenvale" mission had a unique mechanic where it was possible to obtain lumber from destroying Night Elf tree structures, yet it's seen nowhere else throughout the game. Even though 3,000 lumber coming from Trees of Life sounds way overpowered, it makes sense in context when you realize that Night Elf structures that absorb the Wisp worker are technically trees.
    • Sea warfare, which was a major component of Warcraft II, takes a backseat here. It didn't exist in the original Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos game, and while the Warcraft III: Frozen Throne expansion brought back naval combat ships, they were still limited to only being in the single-player campaign, and only for certain missions since it wasn't possible to build shipyards. The player could only purchase ships from pre-placed shipyards.
    • Due to the original final level being cutnote , players can't make chimaeras in the Night Elf campaign for Reign of Chaos.
  • The Battle for Middle-earth II introduced naval combat to the series. Unfortunately, the whole concept clearly wasn't ironed out much, likely due in large part to Tolkien's Legendarium not being heavy on sea battles—there are only eight ship units in the game total (four elven ships for the "good" factions, four corsair ships for the "evil" factions), and the two sides are barely a step above Cosmetically Different Sides (both have an arrow-shooting attack ship, a siege weapon ship, a transport, and a suicide ship, which function in largely identical fashion). Add in the fact that there are a lot of maps which feature no harbors, a lot of the ones that do feature harbors make ships Cool, but Inefficient at best, and only one mission in each campaign features ships (which is essentially the same mission played from different sides), and it's hard to blame a lot of players for forgetting the game has naval battles altogether. Even the game's expansion pack didn't add any new ships.

    RPG — Eastern 
  • Persona 5
    • The Hostage Negotiation mechanic. When one of your characters is knocked down with an elemental weakness (except for Joker), the negotiation mechanic forces you to either pay that enemy something, talk the enemy into letting them go, or do nothing and watch that party member get one-shotted. However, the mechanic doesn't trigger in boss battles, and only rarely triggers in random encounters. A player might go through all of the seventy-plus hours of gameplay and never see this happen, despite getting passive bonuses that make it easier to get away with negotiation. New Game+, which lets you retain monster database information, makes it even less likely.
    • The garden sees far less use than in the previous game. In Persona 4, the garden is unlocked in late May, and you could choose to plant many different types of crops, from tomatoes that can restore a small amount of SP to wheat that can open gold chests to eggplants that can protect you from instant-kill skills. In P5, the garden is unlocked at the end of October, near the end of the game, and you can only plant SP-restoring vegetables. Royal addresses this somewhat, adding two additional types of vegetables, which can grant a Charge or Concentrate effect when used on a party member, and makes the garden useful for longer as a result of adding another month of gameplay and a new Palace.
    • A few of the romanceable Confidants (Takemi, Chihaya and Ohya) have hidden Event Flags throughout their rank up scenes. If you don't hit at least one of these and try to give them a Love Confession, they'll reject you. This was an interesting way to give the love interests agency and show that they aren't automatically attracted to the player character (especially where there's an age gap), but in practice the flags are in responses most players will end up picking naturally, those following a guide will always pick them, and only these Confidants have them. Tellingly, this mechanic went virtually unknown for a long time.
  • City building in Dark Cloud and Dark Chronicle. While Dark Cloud 2/Dark Chronicle does allow more freedom in building the towns than the first (wherein you simply placed buildings), in practice you were limited with having to fulfill certain conditions, many of which had to be done in very specific ways with little room for deviation. The second game gives you maps with extra restrictions, which would have made the player think more creatively. However, the city-building is in practice more of a Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer.
  • Final Fantasy VI introduces the Limit Break system to the series, known here as a "Desperation Attack". Unfortunately they only trigger when a character uses the Attack commandnote  at low healthnote  1/16th of the time, and never in the first twenty-five seconds of combatnote . Because of these restrictions one can go through multiple playthroughs and never once trigger a Desperation Attack.
  • Final Fantasy IX
    • There's various equipment that grants resistances to holy and shadow elemental attacks. While the general defense boost is what most players would be using them for, there's only a few enemies in the entire game that use holy and shadow attacks and they're either a Bonus Boss or the end game bosses.
    • Steiner's Charge! skill has every party member with low HP attack an enemy without using a turn. While it would be incredibly handy, the fact that it only works on characters that are near death and the risk of said characters being knocked out being high makes the skill hardly used, if ever.
  • Final Fantasy X is well-praised for its CTB (Conditional Turn-Based Battle) system, in which battles are turn-based and there is a window showing the timeline of turns for all combatants. When you highlight a skill that will influence when the character's next turn will come up (usually, more powerful skills will delay the next turn, weaker skills and item usage will make the next turn come sooner), the timeline will reflect the change, allowing you to better decide whether the skill is worth the change in the turn order. Despite being regarded as one of the best implementations of turn-based combat in the series, if not the entire genre, subsequent Final Fantasy games largely dropped it in favor of going back to real-time combat.
  • Shadow Hearts:
    • A Malice mechanic is alluded to in Shadow Hearts Covenant, but, like its apparent plot significance, never comes up in-game.
    • From The New World explains "Will" as the good counterpart to Malice, and it's explained that too much Will is as bad as too much Malice. But there is no gameplay mechanic about Will or Malice.
    • The vampires mechanics in Covenant and From The New World can feel this way too, if only because of how little the game mentions them or how utilizing it often uses rare and/or expensive in-game items.
  • Pokémon has this in spades, with the creators admitting that many mechanics and features are made with the idea that such things are going to be unique to that specific region or generation, in order to help differentiate them from other installments. Hence things like only Hoenn having secret bases, or replacing Gen VI's Player Search System with Gen VII's Festival Plaza.
    • Gen I:
      • One mechanic that can go greatly unnoticed is the ability to use the Cut HM to remove patches of the tall grass where Pokémon appear. Overall, the time and effort a player puts in to remove the grass to safely move along the route was quite pointless as just normally going through the route would either result in the same amount of time, or still ended up being a shorter journey due to lucking out on getting few or no encounters at all. Not to mention, the usage of Repels made the Cut mechanic completely obsolete. The potential was there to do some unique things with this, like having items or rare Pokémon only appear when the grass is cut away. However, Gens II and III didn't evolve this mechanic in any way outside of the Hyper Cutter ability in Emerald doubling the distance that the tall grass is removed (something that isn't even mentioned in the Ability's game discription). Thus, it became clear that the developers didn't know what to do with the mechanic, and was removed completely following Gen III.
      • The Generation I games played around with the idea of being allowed to journey in multiple directions about halfway through the region, allowing the player to get the next few badges in whatever order they wish. The Gen II games, and the remakes for both these generations, are the only time this type of plot progression is present.
    • Gen II:
      • The post-game content of Gold and Silver, where the player heads off to Kanto to see that region's timeline updated several years after Red's adventure is still considered by many fans to be one of the best approaches done for a Pokémon endgame. Yet apart from the HeartGold and SoulSilver remakes, this was the only generation that allowed travel to a past region.
      • Having the player character's mother save some of your money after every trainer battle was a neat idea and gave a sense of security if you happen to lose a battle (which resulted in you losing money). Other than saving up for a rainy day and having your mother buy random items and dolls for you, you could play the entire game without sending money to your mother without it affecting your gameplay. This mechanic wasn't brought back until the remakes.
    • Gen III:
      • The Vs. Seeker that was introduced in FireRed and LeafGreen was a great and simple item to use that allowed players to re-battle any trainer they've already come across, and possibly battle against new high-level teams. It made leveling up the player team's Pokémon much easier, and feel like less of a chore. Yet after Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, this Key Item is dropped completely.
      • The Battle Frontier, introduced in Emerald, has only seen two incarnations across three games (Platinum and HeartGold and SoulSilver used the same Battle Frontier). The Gen V games onward use the Battle Tower template for their post-game battle areas, lacking the unique gimmicks of the other attractions; infamously, the remakes of the Gen III games omitted the Battle Frontier in favor of recycling the Battle Maison from Pokémon X and Y. Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon features a Battle Factory-esque area, but doesn't bring back any other attractions.
      • The Shadow Pokémon from the spinoff Orre duology. They've only appeared in those games, and Shadow Pokémon cannot be transferred to the mainline Gen III games until they are purified, removing their Shadow traits. Most of this is for balance reasons, as Shadow Pokémon's mechanics make them very overpowered (Colosseum gave every Shadow a move that ignored the target's type and could randomly put them into a Critical Hit Class mode; XD includes many different Shadow moves, which can either be physical or special and are super-effective against anything that isn't also a Shadow). Shadow Pokémon do appear in Pokémon GO, but without Shadow moves.
    • Gen IV:
      • Starting in the fourth-generation games, many Pokémon species were given minor sprite differences for each gender, such as female Pikachu having heart-shaped tails while males had flat-gopped tails. This was the only time gender differences were applied on a mass scale, as future games typically only have one Pokémon with notable dimorphism between genders (such as Unfezant, Meowstic, and Indeedee). Later games still maintain gender differences, but it's almost an artifact since very few species introduced past the first four generations have differences.
      • HeartGold and SoulSilver, in order to make up for the lack of the Pokétch, fills the bottom screen with shortcuts to menu options and an interact button. There's one button that toggles your Running Shoes so that you can run without holding down the B button. Since there's few times when running is a bad thing, this is very useful. However, as later games lessened the use of the touch screen, this toggling feature never returned. However, Let's Go Pikachu and Let's Go Eevee and later games don't require it anyway, thanks to the Switch's analog stick.
      • Key items exclusive to HeartGold and SoulSilver include Berry Pots (which let you grow berries on the go, instead of planting them in a single spot and having to remember where they are), and the GB Sounds device (letting you replace the remake's soundtrack with the soundtrack from the original games, a feature absent in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire but returned in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl with the DS Sounds).
    • Gen V: Pokémon Black and White introduced two new types of battles, Triple Battles and Rotation Battles. Triple Battles, as the name suggests, were a step up from Double Battles, where each side had three Pokémon active at once; unlike Double Battles, positioning mattered, since Pokémon on one end generally couldn't do anything to the Pokémon on the other end, although you could switch a Pokémon on the end with the one in the middle, adding an extra layer of strategy. Rotation Battles were similar in that each side had three Pokémon out, but only one was active at any given time; in addition to attacking or using items, each side could rotate their active Pokémon out as a free action, making Rotation Battles a major mind game. Neither battle variant ever had all that many NPCs that participated in them, and they never caught on competitively outside Japan, so both battle types were dropped by Gen VII.
    • Gen VI:
      • Pokémon X and Y introduced Inverse Battles which, as the name suggest, that inverts the series' Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors (Fire is strong against Water instead of resisted, Ghost can now hit Normal, etc.). While this was an interesting new take that drastically changed how almost every Pokémon functioned, breathing new life into otherwise horrible ones in the process, it could only be used against one optional NPC. And there was almost no Player Versus Player support for it. Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire did expand their availability somewhat by letting players set their Secret Bases to use Inverse Battles, but that was about it. Just like triple and rotation battles, the following generation dropped them completely, though Sun and Moon oddly has an Inverse Battle quiz available in the Festival Plaza despite them no longer existing.
      • X and Y also introduced another kind of gimmick battle, Sky Battles. Like the name suggests, Sky Battles take place high in the air, limiting the participants to using only Pokémon that are Flying-types or have the Levitate ability, and using moves that don't involve some any kind of terrain. While Sky Battles were more common than Inverse Battles (or Triple and Rotation Battles, for that matter), they were still all optional and not eligible for Player Versus Player matches. Furthermore, it wasn't very intuitive on which Pokémon would actually be eligible to participate; if the Pokémon's idle animation had it standing or sitting on the ground, it was disqualified regardless of its typing or ability. Apparently having two sets of idle animations for a given species wasn't an option, because a number of species got unpopular changes to their previous idle poses to make them eligible for Sky Battles; unfortunately, while Sky Battles never made it out of their game of origin, the idle pose changes have persisted for much longer.
      • Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire have Horde Trainer Battles. These were hyped up a fair amount in the trailers, and it felt very in-character for villainous team grunts to gang up on the player. Unfortunately, there are a grand total of two Horde Trainer Battles in the entire game: one in the Team Magma/Aqua Hideout during the main story, and one in the postgame Delta Episode. There aren't any repeatable battles that use this mechanic, and (say it with me) it isn't available for PvP.
      • Mega Evolution was a big selling point for Gen VI as a whole, and about half of the game's plot focuses on it. Despite this, there's a decent chance you won't end up using a Mega Evolving Pokémon on your final team. In X and Y, only two Mega Stones are given to you outright (your Kanto starter and Lucario), and there are only four other stonesnote  that you can get during the main game. The other seventeen or so can be gotten in the post-game, which is infamously short by Pokémon standards. Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire fixes this; in addition to adding more Mega Stones, you're able to get over twenty of them during the course of the main game (though you're only able to use Mega Evolution for about half of it).
      • You can ride Pokémon in X and Y, for the first time outside of Surf. However, there's only three to ride on, all are limited to one area each, and two of them are slow and cumbersome to control, so it feels like a throwaway gimmick. The Gen VII games would properly implement this with the Pokémon Ride system.
    • Gen VII:
      • Pokémon Sun and Moon caused this to happen to Mega Evolution again. While it makes sense since Sun and Moon have a host of other new mechanics to take the center stage (i.e. Z-moves, Ride Pokémon, etc.), fans were still disappointed that no new ones were even introduced. It doesn't even get any significant mention until the post-game, and you only get a single one (Alakazamite) for free. To make matters worse, more than half of them weren't even available in the game at all until Game Freak released them through specially events. The rest must be bought with Battle Points you earn playing in Battle Royales or the Battle Tree. For how much it was promoted both in the games and the anime during Gen VI, the Mega Evolution concept's shift from a hyped new mechanic to being Demoted to Extra in the very next installment of the series is somewhat jarring. The Updated Re-release at least makes all Mega Evolutions available (though some are version exclusive) but there are still no new ones. Gen VIII would end up removing Mega Evolution (and also Z-Moves) entirely in favor of Dynamax.
      • Sun and Moon brought back Johto's Apricorn Balls much to the surprise of a lot of fans... until you realize that it's only possible to obtain one of each ball. It leaves you wondering why the makers couldn't add some sort of stall or shop in order to purchase more.
      • Some have argued that Sun and Moon's picture-taking mini-game doesn't quite reach the complexity and uniqueness that defined Pokémon Snap. Slightly fixed in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, which increases its usability.
      • After their popularity during Gen VI, it was a bit of a surprise that Sun and Moon dropped Horde Battles completely; the mechanic would have fit in perfectly, since Pokémon from Alola are said to help each other out a lot. Instead, it got replaced by SOS Battles, which were less useful for EV training and often made catching Pokémon needlessly frustrating.
  • Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! has an extremely brief gameplay section where the player takes direct control of their partner Pokémon to climb up the ductwork in the Team Rocket Hideout to retrieve an item. This is the only time in the entire game where such a mechanic is used, and its single use doesn't even allow the level of exploration you'd expect from the idea.
  • Gen VIII: The Escape Rope is now an unlimited-use Key Item instead of a consumable. This would have been amazingly convenient in a region with a lot of caves, like Johto, but Galar only has two or three "dungeon" areas it's usable in, and none of them are large enough that you're likely to need it.
  • Subverted in Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia. While the "Swimming on a Pokémon" mechanic is indeed used many times in the game, they mostly advertised the part where you do it on an Empoleon's back... something that happens only once in the whole game (Three times if you're going for 100% Completion, two if you already knew about a certain subquest before and take a short deviation when you go there for the first time), while for most of the time you surf on a Floatzel's back.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III, there is the stance system where players can switch between one style where the attack is stronger but targets only one character or the attack is weaker but it targets a small group of enemies. Only Juna Crawford only gets this ability and unfortunately by halfway through the game, players will just use her area of effect crafts that has a bigger radius to attack even more enemies with.
  • Paper Mario:
    • 64 has the Repel Gel, the strangely rare and forgettable item that grants invisibility. It only appears in a few, mostly hidden select areas and can't be bought unlike most other battle items. Additionally, Mario can count on Lady Bow's Outta Sight to be invisible easier (though it's only for one turn and Bow must recharge), which only helps making Repel Gels obsolete. The Thousand-Year Door replaced them with the much more common Repel Capes and Boo's Sheets.
    • The Thousand-Year Door:
      • The informed main purpose of the Ultra Hammer, unlocked after Chapter 6, outside of battle is to smash stone blocks. However, these are much less common than expected.
      • After appearing early on in Hooktail Castle, elevator blocks don’t reappear until way ahead in Palace of Shadow, and even then in a much smaller role.
    • Paper Mario: Color Splash: Enemy Cards are dropped from battles, and allow Mario to summon an enemy in front of him. Rather than acting like the partner system of the first two games, these allies attack automatically, and are so weak that they will often die in one hit. Considering the abundance of these in the game (one for nearly every enemy), they aren't particularly desirable.
    • Paper Mario: The Origami King:
      • The game's partner system is underused by the end, as you don't have a lot of partners, they can fail to attack enemies at times, and they are completely absent during boss battles. Due to the combat's focus on defeating enemies in one turn, and the partners' lack of control, they feel more like bonus damage if you fail a puzzle than actual party members. Despite the engine being able to support four partners at maximum, you can only have one at a time (two in very specific circumstances, often lasting only a single battle).
      • The Rabbit Espresso and Turtle Tea, which increase or decrease Mario's movement speed, respectively. Both could have interesting uses, with the former being a potential Anti-Frustration Feature, but you can only buy them in Toad Town, they're consumed immediately upon purchase, and their duration is so short that it's hard to tell just what their use is supposed to be in the first place (the drinks seem to last longer if you buy multiple at once, but the increase is minor).
      • There are only three real-time boss fights in the entire game, all against Paper Machos, compared to the twelve turn-based ones. These all revolve around waiting out an attack pattern, then hitting the boss with your hammer. No Magic Circle abilities, cheering, or even much variance in arenas. These real-time ones are also the only battles to not be changed in the Replay Mode.
      • The rainbow Magic Circles allow you to turn into any Vellumental, which could make for some fun puzzles and critical thinking. Sadly, they're introduced too late to be relevant, first appearing halfway through the purple streamer. Their first use is a tutorial, and there's no stakes if you get it wrong, so you can brute force your way through each option rather than thinking it through. Rainbow Magic Circles appear again at the end of the streamer area, in a puzzle that spells out exactly what you need to do. They're absent from green streamer, and only show up again during the final boss battle.
  • Mario & Luigi:
    • Superstar Saga has a lot of unique mechanics due to Early Installment Weirdness. It's the only game in the series where you can swap the positions of the brothers (which also makes it the only game with the High Jump field move), the only game to have the elemental hand powers, and the only game with its unique kind of Bros. Attacks (instead of being minigames, they're a series of Action Commands where messing any up reduces the moves' power).
    • Partners in Time has the Bros. Ball field move, which has Mario and Luigi form a ball shape, letting them move faster but preventing them from jumping. Not only has the move never appeared since, it isn't very useful for fast travel in Partners in Time either, since it can't be done while piggybacking around the baby brothers. There are a few speed challenges done with it, but later on it's just used for flattening the babies for certain puzzles.
    • A major mechanic of Bowser's Inside Story is Bowser inhaling enemies/bosses so Mario and Luigi can fight them inside his body. One boss this happens to, the Stone Blooper (part of the Sea Pipe Statue), has an unavoidable attack where it deals minor damage to Bowser by drilling into his insidesnote . This is the only time this happens, and it isn't a big deal as it's the first major boss of the game. There's a Dummied Out item that lets the brothers heal Bowser while fighting inside of him, which was likely cut because nothing else in the game warrants using it.
  • BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm has a button-mashing rhythm minigame that shows up exactly once, in a random back corner of an obscure bonus area. It comes out of nowhere so fast it could almost qualify as a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment. (Of course, given that the bonus area is themed around “randomness,” that’s likely the point). The Picross minigame qualifies too - there are four puzzles in the entire game, and of those four, the first is a tutorial and the second is a gag. They’re also all skippable, and you don’t get to try them again if you choose to skip them the first time.
  • Eternal Ring incorporates a day/night cycle. However, the only apparent effect this has is NPC Scheduling in the very short-lived Doomed Hometown and nothing else.

    RPG — MMO 
  • DC Universe Online has Legends, a system that lets you play select PvE and PvP instances as one of several DC heroes and villains, each one having a mixture of abilities that the player can normally use. It was seemingly orphaned just a few years after its introduction, as very few Legends instances are available and no new characters have been added since around 2015, with the last one being a reskin of Supergirl based on her live-action show, and the most acknowledgment it's had since then was in the introduction to the Hall of Legends hub added in 2021.
  • Final Fantasy XIV:
    • For a time, the game had elemental resistances, which were in the game since 1.0. When the game was remade as A Realm Reborn, the elemental stats were extremely downplayed to the point where you'd be forgiven for not even knowing that it was even in the game. While you could meld a ton of elemental materia to your gear so that you could take less damage to an element, you'd also be sacrificing other stats like critical hits and spell speed. Only a handful of boss fights utilized elements, and even then, the fights were scripted so you didn't even need to bother with elemental materia for those fights. The elemental stats stuck around for years until sometime after the Stormblood expansion where it was removed entirely from the main game and given a slight retool to be used for the Eureka content.
    • The game had elemental potions which temporarily boosted your resistance to an element. Like with the elements in general, the elemental potions saw very little use and they were eventually removed from the game. Players who still had the potions could use them to obtain various pigments so that they can craft dyes of various colors.
    • There are potions that can cause a variety of status effects on enemies when used. However, the strongest version of these potions only work up to enemies at level 50. Unlike regular healing potions and ethers that gotten stronger versions in each expansion pack, the status-inducing potions never received any updates, thus they go unused.
    • Adventurer Squadrons were introduced in A Realm Reborn, a side quest system that allowed the player to create a squad of NPC units that you could level up, train, send on missions, and even customize. Despite being a mechanic that has some amount of customization, the entire process has been largely ignored after release save for being able in Stormblood to take them into dungeons to level them up. They are currently capped at level 60, the max level for Heavensward, the first expansion, and has gotten no updates as of Shadowbringers, the third expansion.
  • The Lord of the Rings Online is positively littered with mechanics that were introduced and then faded from attention later on as the Dev team focused on the next big thing.
    • The base game included Fellowship Maneuvers (originally called Conjunctions, or CJs): Powerful team moves that required each member of a Fellowship to input a different type of command that resulted in an overall attack/heal/power restore/etc. The developers felt that usage of these maneuvers by skilled players trivialized certain boss fights, so their power was cut down in the next expansion to only be slightly better than normal attacks. After that, the FMs unintentionally became something of a suckers move as the damage from a successful team attack became less than the team members simply continuing to attack normally, something that has only gotten exponentially worse since then as the effects never scaled properly. FMs were reintroduced as a major mechanic in the Dunland expansion for one Raid Battle, but are otherwise considered useless since then.
    • At about the same time, the developers introduced helper quests to encourage assisting certain characters with quests that were otherwise no longer popular. The most common of these were the class-specific quests in the 6 Moria 6-man instances. This idea was never announced very strongly, was inconvenient due to needing to go to a remote physical area to pick up/turn in the quests, gave only middling rewards anyway, and was never implemented past the Moria expansion. It is simply way more common to ask a kin-member or World Chat for help, especially since the instances in question could be trivially completed in about 5-10 minutes by a higher-level character.
    • Skirmishes were strongly introduced with the Mirkwood expansion, and three instances from the Moria expansion were reworked to become skirmishes. Volume Three and the Dunland expansion added two additional skirmishes, and thus the most recent skirmishes are almost ten years old. However, Skirmishes actually did stay fairly popular for years afterwards as they provided relatively light-weight challenges for kin-members or PUGs to do group activity while also getting rewards such as Marks, Medallions, gold, XP, and deeding, and you could occasionally get some decent gear at the Raid level. Unfortunately, the gear that drops from them now is stuck at level 100 (current level cap is 130), and thus is considered junk.
    • There are other miscellaneous things including Warsteeds, Hobbies, Epic Battles, etc. that were introduced but later see little attention.
  • The Secret World has some players feel this about the investigation quests. The player base tends to remember these quests first when talking about the game, albeit sometimes for the Guide Dang It!/Genius Bonus nature of some of them.
  • World of Warcraft managed to avert this after a few years in several ways. Originally, Naxxramas was considered to be a very good dungeon mechanics-wise, but the steep barrier to entry meant most of the playerbase would never see it. In addition, several dungeons that are rarely run anymore had unique mechanics that newcomers (or people who missed them in the day) would never see. However, Naxxramas was moved to the entry-level raiding dungeon in Wrath of the Lich King and several mechanics have been incorporated into other bosses since then.

    RPG — Mobile 
  • Character costumes in Disney Heroes: Battle Mode. Despite being an interesting way to represent each character's history and having a unique collectable item (thread pieces) involved in unlocking them, the concept has been mostly abandoned since 2019 and Elsa, the one character to get a major design change since then, was merely updated to her Frozen 2 design with no means of actually using her original design.

    RPG — Western 
  • Dragon Age:
    • In Dragon Age: Origins, BioWare initially intended for every playable character to become a Grey Warden potentially. Originally, Bioware wanted for the taint to infect all of the companions, meaning the player would have to make them into a Grey Warden. This mechanic was incorporated into Awakening in a way, but there are very few consequences gameplay-wise for not making Nathaniel, Velanna, and Sigrun into Grey Wardens save for Nathaniel who isn't available as a companion and disappears from the game. note 
    • Origins also had a unique mechanic during the Fade portion of the Mage quest where the player "shapeshifts" between several different creatures in order to solve the puzzle to escape the Fade realm. However, not only is this mechanic seen at just one point throughout the game, the player never gets to have that good of an experience playing around with the shapeshifting since it's used during said Fade portion, which is considered one of the least liked parts to play through in the game.
    • Post-Origins, the Rogue class' iconic Stealth ability becomes practically useless, since your non-stealthy party members are hard-wired to follow you even if you order them to stay back. Its only use is to quickly de-aggro yourself when surrounded and to shift positions, similar to the Tactical Cloak in Mass Effect. In DAO, by contrast, a good enough rogue could scout out the entire map, stealthily disarming traps right under the enemies' noses and thus making upcoming fights a lot easier.
  • The Elder Scrolls series has long struggled to sate fan interest in Player Housing. First introduced in Daggerfall, player houses were simply a very expensive place where you could safely sleep for free and, due to a glitch, weren't even safe for storing loot. Nonetheless, they proved popular and were expanded upon in Morrowind, where you could build your own estate complete a mansion, at least one shop, and a guard tower as part of the Great House sidequest lines. (Another was added for the Bloodmoon expansion.) Again, these proved extremely popular but fans demanded more options and more freedom with them, leading to countless Game Mods relating to player housing. Oblivion offered even more options, allowing the purchase of a home in each major city ranging from a one-room shack to a full-blown (albeit haunted) mansion. DLCs then added additional options in the Fighter, Mage, Thief mold. Again, it wasn't enough for the fanbase, who churned out countless more mods with additional places to live and more freedom in decorating them. For Skyrim, Bethesda hired the creator of one of the most popular Oblivion housing mods and gave the largest assortment of options to date including the Hearthfire DLC, which allows the player to build a new house from scratch with immense freedom in designing its layout, storage options, and more. This still wasn't enough, as one again, a plethora of housing mods exists to expand upon these options even further. Ironically, Bethesda may have found the answer in their Fallout sister-series, introducing a very popular, full-blown settlement building mechanic in Fallout 4. ES fans can only hope that something similar is added into The Elder Scrolls VI.
  • Fable I:
    • Stealth: It's necessary for exactly one quest and only slightly usable for one morenote . Otherwise, it just slows the hero to a crawl while not really keeping others from spotting him. Worse, there's functionally no difference between being fully trained in Guile (which improves stealth) and putting no points into it at all.
    • Players can show off their trophies to earn additional renown. The amount earned is equal to one tenth of the trophy's worth in gold times the number of people who see it within the time limit minus the ones who don'tnote . However, renown is extremely easy to earn by completing quests or simply killing monsters. And since early trophies are worth rather little, by the time a player gets a valuable enough trophy to earn significant renown, their renown is high enough to make it pointless anyway.
  • Fallout: New Vegas:
    • Despite it appearing frequently in Fallout 2, the player's companions do not have the ability to talk with each other in this installment, even in main story missions. While they'll certainly talk to the player, and certain NPCs will remark on the presence of certain companions (disparaging Raul, for example), there is no interactivity, even in cases where companions may have wildly differing opinions (Arcade's outright hatred of Caesar's Legion versus Raul's passive reaction, for example). The only time this does occur is in the Dead Money DLC, when the player comes back to the Sierra Madre Fountain between missions and can witness characters walk over and talk with each other. However, this feature doesn't always trigger, and given how few companions are in the DLC and potential conversations there are (one instance has Dean attempt to talk to Christine, who is temporarily mute due to his machinations), before walking off after a few seconds) that players may not even encounter a single instance of it.
    • Karma, unlike the Reputation System, has far less presence in this title than previous entries in the series, to the point of being meaningless. The player will receive positive or negative Karma for actions they take in the gameworld... which doesn't factor into any meaningful dialogue or gameplay choices, save for a single choice at the end of the game where the player can choose to duel Legate Lanius one-on-one if they have Good Karma, and a Level 50 Perk based on the player's Karma. All of the player's Companions have no problem with the player being either an angel or the Devil Incarnate... save for Cass, a Companion who is most likely to be recruited past the midpoint of the main story, has a quickly-finished Companion Quest, and gives the player several warnings before leaving permanently. And even worse, some of the best weapons, items and armor in the game must be taken off otherwise-essential characters, either through killing or reverse-pickpocketing them — both of which award negative Karma anyway.
    • Hand load recipes. In the basegame, the player will amass thousands of spent shell casings in any one playthrough, with no way to utilize them... that is, unless you take a specific Perk (Hand Loader) that unlocks several recipes, allows the player to craft more damaging types of ammo and can save them many caps in the long run. The problem is that ammo is so cheap and plentiful across the vendors in the game, there are so many caps to be found throughout the Mojave Desert (even by selling the ammunition you don't use) and the pool of recipes is so small (6 recipes in the basegame, 6 unlocked by the Gun Runners' Arsenal DLC and one unlocked by Honest Hearts) that it's not worth wasting a Perk Point on, especially when the normal leveling system limits the player to a total of 25 total Perk Points. The Junk Rounds Perk from Dead Money (the first DLC expansion) attempted to get around this by letting the player craft ammo through alternate methods... and was even more disparaged when players discovered that it was next-to-useless, due to requiring extremely specific items (undamaged, unbent tin cans, which are far rarer than the standard tin cans) and is much more prohibitive to craft, despite being introduced in a DLC that's full of junk cans.
  • Fallout 4:
    • The Sole Survivor's followers can actually talk to each other in this game. Unfortunately, unless it's related to certain quests, it only happens when the player is exchanging one follower for another. It would've been a great opportunity for them to at least have conversations with one another when they were at, say, the same settlement, or comment on other companions' affinity quests and the like.
    • A more downplayed example, but 4 greatly expanded on security terminals in comparison to both of its predecessors, allowing for a lot more opportunities to use the local Protectrons, turrets, and spotlights against enemies thanks to the Total Hack holotapes. What's disappointing, though, is that the game's more realistic level design makes it so that one is usually only able to access these terminals after they've already cleared out/disabled the Protectrons/turrets/spotlights in question, making the aforementioned holotapes pretty useless the majority of the time.
  • Mass Effect:
    • In Mass Effect, the player could suffer from "Hazard Damage" by staying out of the Mako on planet surfaces for too long, with destinations on the Galaxy Map specifically having "Hazard Levels" relating to their danger to Shepard and the crew. Come the following game, this mechanic was completely disregarded, save for a single instance during Tali's recruitment mission where the player could suffer heat damage if they stayed in direct sunlight for too long. The mechanic was gone entirely from Mass Effect 3, though the Ark Mod restored unused environmental hazards that were intended to be included entirely within the N7 missions, including acid rain on Benning. This trope was then defied when Mass Effect: Andromeda went back to the original game's method of hazard damage, with the additional caveat that hiding inside the Nomad will not stop the player from taking damage.
    • The first game featured "Spectre Master Gear", high-end weapons which were sold at the C-Sec Academy/Requisitions Officer on the Normandy (and at your apartment, once the Pinnacle Station DLC is completed), and could only be acquired by amassing more than 1 million credits and being at least Level 50. Come the sequel, these weapons completely disappeared and no further reference was made to them, despite the player having opportunities to accept/reaffirm their Spectre status in the sequels and presumably having access to top-of-the-line weapons.
    • In Mass Effect 2, usage of the Hammerhead being limited to DLC, such as the Firewalker Pack and Project: Overlord content, really limited the vehicle gameplay that the first Mass Effect had much more of when it came to driving around in the Mako. It then got even worse with Mass Effect 3 where vehicle gameplay was practically non-existent.
    • Mass Effect 3 had the War Asset Map. The game makes you believe that gathering up armies all across the galaxy was going to lead up to one massive all-out battle on Earth that took into account the choices that were made regarding each bit of asset that was added into the player's army that Shepard brings to Earth. Apart from a few minor cinematic differences, this wasn't the case one bit. None of the war assets gathered up have any effect on the gameplay.
      • Notably, this is defied in the Priority Earth Overhaul mod, which was designed largely to give a purpose to many of the game's major War Assets during the final mission (in contrast to their non-appearance in the vanilla game). The London Hub is expanded with additional units, races and encounters, the Rachni will show up to help Shepard and their squad during the No Man's Land sequence, and the Destiny Ascension will be blown up if it was previously saved in the first game. However, the mod also plays this trope partially straight, as it will give status updates as to War Asset losses (largely done to Alliance forces) that don't actually change the War Asset score, but were simply put in for immersion.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords: As you near the end point of the Peragus chapter, Atton stops you with "I have a bad feeling about this", foreshadowing an upcoming dangeous encounter. The game makes it seem like his intuition will cause him to chime in with an Ominous Save Prompt, but this is the only time in the game this happens, and it can be done because he's a mandatory party member.

    Rhythm Game 
  • In HarmoKnight, The main character's two sidekicks Lyra and Tyko have their own gameplay styles different from Tempo's (Lyra uses a bow and arrow, while Tyko has his pet monkey, allowing him to attack two enemies at different heights at the same time). Sadly they're used only in very few levels, and only for a third of them.
  • crossbeats REV., unlike the original CROSS×BEATS, lets you raise your scroll speed setting above 5.0, up to 8.0. This is useful on especially slow songs if 5.0 is still too slow for you. Even though C×B continues to be updated today, it still caps your speed setting at 5.0.
  • In spite of being a "DJ simulation" game, only two out of six types of beatmania cabinets offer headphone jacks: beatmania III and beatmania II, both of which are no longer in production. Given that beatmania IIDX is the More Popular Spin-Off and the IIDX cabinet is by far the most common of the beatmania cabinets in circulation, this is rather glaring, given that headphones can be very beneficial to Rhythm Game players in arcades that are noisy (which is to say, almost all of them). Even when Konami designed a new IIDX cabinet to coincide with beatmania IIDX 20 tricoro's release, they still neglected to add any headphone jacks!
  • The original Keyboardmania has, for each song, separate difficulty ratings between charts. For some reason, this was ditched in the next two games, which simply have the same difficulty rating across each song's charts.

  • Ikaruga's GameCube port has Conquest Mode, a practice mode that lets you practice parts of stages rather than just whole stages, lets you watch professional replays to understand the best routes for scoring and to figure out useful strategies when playing for the Dot Eater rank, and lets you slow down the game to further refine strategies. Unfortunately, it was not added into the subsequent Xbox 360 or Steam ports.
  • Touhou Project:
  • Stellavanity has a variety of useful widgets that can be shown on the sides of the screen such as character starts, a system clock for those prone to Just One More Credit, and points needed until the next extra life. Unfortunately, if the game is set to vertical orientation (for use on a monitor rotated 90 degrees), something a shmup enthusiast is likely to use if they have a monitor they can lay on its side, these widgets are not available.
  • Thunder Force V features a "Direct" control option that assigns each of the five weapons to its own fire button, alongside the traditional option of "cycle through weapon list" buttons and a single fire button. Direct weapon switching was sadly not kept for Thunder Force VI.
  • Gradius
    • The first release of Nemesis, the export version of the original game, is overall harder than the Japanese original with more punishing Dynamic Difficulty and tweaked stage variables, but balances it out by implementing an Anti-Frustration Feature which greets the player with a lot of power-up carrying enemies appear whenever they die and respawn at a checkpoint, making it easier to get back into fighting shape. Despite the series reputation for punishing recovery (to the point the Unstable Equilibrium trope is called "Gradius Syndrome" in some circles), none of the following games implement anything like this besides the 2-player mode of Gradius Gaiden spawning 5 power-up capsules when one of the players dies.
    • Gradius Gaiden allows the player to rearrange their power meter, allowing for more practical setups like Option in the first or second slot (instead of the fifth), allowing the player to beef up their firepower very quickly. No other game in the series has allowed the player to do this, not even later ones; the closest the series has gotten to a gauge edit in any other game is the Japanese arcade version of Life Force, in which player 2 a differently-arranged but still preset power meter.
  • Real Space 2 and 3 have a surprisingly robust AI system - at least for their age and genre - which is capable of handling freeform and randomly generated combat conditions. Unfortunately, this potential is best shown in the title screen background of each game, which consists of randomly generated ships fighting each other in fleet battles, using their actual in-game AI. Actual gameplay consists of a series of scripted missions involving fighting against either predetermined enemy arrangements, or quasi-random spawns of predetermined ship types, to achieve a specific objective. The same AI and game engine could easily have been used to make a more free-flowing and dynamic conquest game, where you destroy enemy units (and outposts?) to secure enemy-held locations (planets?), possibly for benefits such as additional friendly spawns or technology. Or even just a free play survival mode for each game where you fight against an infinite spawn of enemies, with an infinite-but-restricted (so it doesn't snowball too far and the mode remains challenging) spawn of allies to back you up.
    • Real Space 3 also demonstrates the potential to give the player control of ships besides UFS Antaris. Unfortunately, this is only used to let you fly specific capital ships for specific missions (as well as a spy shuttle for a Stealth-Based Mission). If the aforementioned free play mode was implemented, it would also be cool to be able to play as any (suitably programmed) capital ship you wanted at any time, such as by unlocking each ship after the mission you first pilot it in.

    Simulation Game 
  • The Ace Combat series is rife with examples of mechanics that are the centerpiece of a single installment and are then completely abandoned by later ones:
  • In RollerCoaster Tycoon, the Air-Powered Vertical roller coaster could be considered this. It's admittedly not the most efficient ride out there due to low capacity, high cost, and large space requirements, but it can still get high ratings. Unfortunately, it only appears in the Loopy Landscapes expansion, usually only after quite a few other roller coasters have been researched, and never as one of the starting rides.
  • Gliding in Freespace 2: Shivan ships are equipped with side-mounted thrusters, which allow them to strafe in addition to all normal aircraft axis. As the player fights the Shivans the entire campaign, this obviously doesn't come into play much, but one optional mission has the player use a captured Shivan fighter and it's actually possible to use the side thrusters. However as the gliding key is unbound by default and the mission briefing doesn't call attention to it, most players don't realize it's possible to strafe in the vanilla game.
  • War Thunder has high explosive shells for tanks, which have less penetration but more explosive effect and thus would be useful against fortifications occupied by infantry... except that there is no infantry in game and you have to fight other tanks, against which they are almost useless since they can't penetrate most armor, unless you are good enough to always find a weak enough spot that can be penetrated anyway (which is not guaranteed considering also long range engagements). When they are effective (i.e. against light vehicles), usually there is no point in firing them in place of regular shells, since changing the loaded shell for such cases takes precious time and that more ammo stored in the hull means more chances of being detonated by an enemy penetrating round.
    • The only exception is with howitzers or Soviet 152 mm tank destroyers, which only use high explosive shells, but considering the large caliber, they will deal a devastating hit anyway.
    • Hydroplanes were this until the introduction of naval battles, where their ability to land on sea can be used to quickly cap a strategic zone. Unfortunately, there are very few hydroplanes, most are very weak compared to other planes that can be crewed (as the American OS 2 U), very limited in availability as gift vehicles during timed events (as the German Ar 196 and He-51 B-2/H) or premium vehicles that must be bought (as the German BV 238, which is also gigantic and unsuitable for capping). And many historical hydroplanes that could be added are still missing as of 2020.
  • Zettai Zetsumei Toshi has a lot of systems that seem better intended for an open-world resource-management survival game, which instead hang awkwardly off the more linear, puzzle-based reality. Collectable compasses have existed since the beginning, but don't see much use besides decorations, and mechanics like item-crafting and the holler button rarely get more than two or three uses per game simply because of how limited the options are. The holler button in particular is practically The Artifact by the 4th game, existing purely due to inertia, while literally nothing in the game requires it.

    Shooter — First-Person 
  • BioShock had the Item Crafting machines U-Invent, which aside from being required to make the Lazarus Vector at one point, can be ignored fully, even if it includes three of the Gene Tonics that can upgrade the character. Hence its removal from BioShock 2.
  • Halo:
    • Halo 2 made non-playable allies able to drive vehicles, when previously only human players could take the wheel. The multitude of internet videos of NPCs failing miserably to drive anywhere, not crash, or not kill any of their own allies shows just how useful allowing that was.
    • Halo: Reach introduced the Fireteam mechanic, which causes encountered NPC troopers to join your side as an accompanying squad. However, you have no command over any of these troopers (who aren't exactly intelligent guys) so unless you can give them powerful weapons they'll just be cannon fodder. Additionally, the mechanic isn't available on every level, meaning often times you may encounter troopers but they won't accompany you, rendering them meaningless if you wanted support fire or someone to carry heavy weapons.
  • Gearbox's Opposing Force expansion for Half-Life offered a few gameplay mechanics not seen in any of the other games such as a grappling-hook with an unattached wall-barnacle and rope climbing.
  • In Left 4 Dead 2, Valve touted how campaigns can have randomized paths so that players would have to pay attention to their progression and not be able to simply speed through the most optimized pathway. The extent of the random paths can only really be seen in the cemetery section of The Parish campaign where its layout is randomized every time the map is played and there are several kinds of paths the players can be set on. Other campaigns have random paths as well, but they're only boiled down to just one path being open while the other is sealed off. Many levels don't use randomized paths at all and most community made campaigns also don't use this feature. The Sacrifice campaign also introduces a Heroic Sacrifice mechanic where a player must sacrifice themselves in the finale in order to ensure the others escape safely. This mechanic isn't used in other campaigns since said campaigns aren't themed around sacrifices, but when it comes to custom campaigns, almost no one ever uses it.
  • Overwatch
    • The limited-time Junkenstein's Revenge brawl, in which, in a departure from the usual PvP format, players assemble in teams of four to destroy hordes of robot zombies and four bosses before they all wipe at once or the door they're defending gets destroyed. Though it received an Updated Re-release in 2017, it's still restricted to one month out of the year and the PvE formula hasn't yet been used in any other context except one:
    • Uprising, which ran through April 2017. This one was much more in-depth, a team of four running through capturing points, defending an objective, and escorting a payload in what was Tracer's first mission. Similarly to Junkenstein's Revenge, it was popular among players as a breath of fresh air from the usual PvP. Also similarly to Junkenstein's Revenge, it became unavailable after the event's end. Subsequent years would see the event return with new campaigns, but they remained limited to the month in which the event ran; the idea of PvE modes that weren't limited to yearly events ended up being saved for the Mission-Pack Sequel.
    • Horizon Lunar Colony has a low gravity zone, where the sound is muffled to the point of being almost muted, gravity is lowered... and it's only present in a very small, out-of-the-way, area of the map. Voluntary from Blizzard, as they have stated they didn't want the whole "Moon/space" thing to dominate the entire map, but there could have been a middle ground.

    Shooter — Third-Person 
  • Warframe tends to accumulate these, but one in particular stands out from the War Within quest: Operator mode. Completing the quest allows you to step out of your Warframe as your Operator, but there's barely any point to doing so. You can use it to get past security measures in Spy vaults, clear off damage resistances from Sentients and Shadow Stalker, and destroy Kuva Siphons, and that's about it. It doesn't even tie in with the Focus system, which seems like it should be a logical fit. Somehow, it's even got an underused mechanic of its own. Towards the end of the quest, you get to use Transference to possess the Golden Maw that has been harassing you for a while; all you can really do as the Golden Maw is move around through the bones, and nothing like this ever comes up again.
    • This is getting slowly rectified. Ever since the latter half of 2017, more enemies that are able to No-Sell everything but the attacks of the Operators themselves are appearing, like the gigantic sentients, the Eidolons, and their ghostly minions, the Vomvalysts. In fact, don't even dream about tacking them down unless your Squishy Operator game is top notch.

  • The two DLCs for Dishonored, The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches, allow the player to buy "Bribes" for each mission, which add little things like item caches, additional NPC characters who will give you intel or a sidequest, or additional Runes/Bonecharms for a nominal fee (in a manner similar to the Thief series). Trouble is, not only were these DLCs the only time this mechanic was used (it doesn't appear in any capacity in the sequel, despite drawing heavily from the DLC plotline), but one of the DLC Achievements, "Enough Coin to Disappear", actively requires you to avoid them if you're not going for 100% Completion, as there's very little money between both DLCs, and you need to have collected 10,000 Gold across both of them to get the award — not so easy if you've been spending several hundred gold each mission instead. More notably, "The Brigmore Witches" includes the only instance of an Old Save Bonus being used in the franchise, which carries over the player's reputation, Gold and Bonecharms — another idea that was missing from the first game to the sequel.
  • Hitman: Blood Money allows you to sedate people who are already sleeping, but this only lets you to steal their clothes, and in most cases there's a better way to obtain a disguise. In case you were wondering, yes, guards can see the difference between someone who is sleeping and someone who was sedated while they were sleeping, so it's not even a way to hide bodies.
  • The first two Acts in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots allows the player to slightly influence the dynamics of the battlefield, via Snake having the ability to befriend members of the local militia by aiding them in gunfights or "gifting" them consumable food like Noodles. However, there are only a handful of areas you can do this in, the local militias in the Middle East and southern Africa stop being a factor entirely after Act 2, and the only real point beyond making them non-hostile is a couple of special items (music tracks) that can only be obtained by gifting enough food to the soldiers. (Beyond a single trailer where this was shown off, it's not even clear that you can gift them items — Otacon makes reference to aiding them in battle, but says nothing about the ability to hand them items or befriend them enough to have them confer benefits.) Despite the following game in the series utilizing similar locales and giving an even larger reason for letting Snake (or his predecesor) to interact with non-hostile entities (particularly the children in Africa and the troops onboard Mother Base), the only thing you can do in the latter game is beat them up to boost their morale.
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain:
    • While enemy surveillance cameras played a large part in the series up to this point, and even in the preceding title (Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes), they are virtually non-existent in this game, despite being set up to have greater functionality. Of note, the only locations within the gameworld that have any cameras at all are Nova Braga Airport and OKB Zero — none of the other outposts, major bases or locations in the single-player mode have them. This is despite enemy guards proclaiming at several points (in free-roam and during missions) that "additional cameras" have been installed at key sites. While gun cameras will be added if the player has a high level of lethal engagement, this does not apply to normal cameras. However, enemy cameras have greater prominence within the FOB mode, where players can install various types of cameras throughout their base.
    • The Battle Gear is set up to be a major asset Huey builds throughout the game, and its arrival is heralded by several cutscenes showing it in various states of completion. In gameplay, however, it can never be used in the battlefield, and can only deploy (offscreen) in Combat Deployment Missions. According to Word of God, the Battle Gear was intended to be used in free-roam, but was cut prior to release due to balance issues. It doesn't help that Dummied Out data suggests it was intended to have much greater functionality, including an assortment of upgrades that could be researched.

    Survival Horror 
  • Eternal Darkness has a couple. Six characters can wield a torch, but only the first character, Anthony, actually uses the torch to interact with the environment by burning away part of the scenery; it's just an optional weapon for everyone else. Even the game's much-celebrated Sanity Meter counts, because sanity effects don't do anything to actively hinder your progress, plus it's incredibly easy to recover sanity with the second spell you acquire.
  • The blue herb in several of the classic Resident Evil games cures you of poison, but the amount of enemies that can poison you and the areas they appear in are so minimal that the item may as well not exist. Later games would ditch the blue herb entirely while Resident Evil 2 (Remake) brings it back with both the poison curing feature and the ability to mix it with a red herb by itself to give yourself a buff that prevents poison and reduces damage taken.
  • Resident Evil 3 (Remake) has the Drain Deimos that can infect Jill with parasites and they kill her if you don't use a green herb to purge them. Since the Drain Deimos only appears in the substation area and you spend only a few minutes in there, the parasitic infection mechanic is a one and done deal.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Arkham Horror 3rd Edition: The Influence skill sees little use in the core game, as it's a social ability that's unrelated to the main mechanics of fighting the Ancient One and most Influence-based rewards can be obtained with more useful skills instead. Later expansions recognize this and add many more applications for Influence, including one story path where it's a key mechanic.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition has the Inspiration mechanic. You get a one-shot bonus usable at the player's discretion to make a roll more likely to succeed as a reward from the DM for role-playing your character. Unfortunately, the bonus is rather moderate in comparison to what the characters can typically do, you can only store one "charge" of Inspiration at a time, and it has to be announced in advance, so most players will forget about it or otherwise treat it as Too Awesome to Use and thus see little use in the game. Many groups that wish to see the mechanic in gameplay will tweak it by improving the benefit (such as making it retroactive as a "second chance"), and/or increasing the frequency with which you can acquire Inspiration.
  • Pokémon Trading Card Game: A notable one is React Energy, a Special Energy Card that does nothing on its own and only provides one Colorless energy, but was used as a component in a number of attacks, Poké-Powers, and Poké-Bodies on various Pokémon. However, the only set it was ever used in was EX Legend Maker, with it never being used after that. The Team Plasma-based sets in the fifth generation would introduce Plasma Energy, which works the same as React Energy, but at least that got to be used in more than one set.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • In Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance, you can upload your Netherworld to the Netherworld Network for others to research and get invaded by during Item World runs, rather than just encountering Netherworlds generated by the game itself or Stray Lost Armies (also game-generated). In practice, even if you make sure to have network features enabled (which also enable things like user-submitted Nether News headlines), user-generated Netherworlds are scathingly rare to encounter, and one can spend hundreds of hours on the game without encountering one, ever. And even if you do encounter a user-generated Netherworld, equipment names are set to their defaults and generic unit names use the usual random name pool instead of being the names set by their respective users (presumably to avoid Video Game Perversity Potential), meaning that you may as well be fighting the army of yet another computer-generated Netherworld.
  • Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War gives the player the ability to dismount Seliph after he promotes to Knight Lord, letting them switch between on-foot combat and mounted combat. There is basically never a time where you would want to do this (barring maybe a brief desert section in Chapter 7, and even that's a stretch and requires Seliph to be very overleveled), since mounts in Genealogy are notoriously broken and a mounted Seliph can do essentially everything a dismounted Seliph can while also having a host of beneficial features. You'll most likely dismount Seliph once out of curiosity, see what it does, and then wonder why it exists. By the account of the game's creator, it was added solely because some playtesters preferred Seliph's pre-promotion sprite. (This is in contrast with the games before and after it, Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem and Fire Emblem: Thracia 776, which had dismounting as a feature of all mounted units, and had many maps that more or less required its use.)
  • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones: Summoning. The Summoner class can create Player Mooks with 1 HP, which have a lot of tactical applications. This ability hasn't appeared in any other game in the series (summoned monsters in Gaiden were AI controlled), only three characters can become Summoners and of those, one is a Trainee who takes a long time to get there and another can only be obtained by completing the Bonus Dungeon three times.
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses
    • The ability to talk to certain units on the battlefield(usually allied green units, but also some enemies). In Fire Emblem Awakening and Fire Emblem Fates, this was a crucial way of recruiting units, and sometimes obtaining items from friendly NPCs, and both games provided brief tutorials introducing the mechanic. Three Houses, however, features this mechanic much less frequently, and there are few cases in which it gives anything more than some optional dialogue.
    • Dark Seals, unique promotion items that allow access to the Dark Mage and Dark Bishop classes. The issue is the classes are male-only, and among the three characters who learn Dark magic (Hubert, Edelgard and Lysithea) only one of them is male, and Hubert is only playable on one of the game's paths... which happens to be the path where Dark Seals are the least accessible. And many of the skills benefiting Dark magic are also learned by Dark Knight, a class anyone can access.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc has the oddball "Re:Act" mechanic, where, to progress in certain dialogue scenes, you need to press a button and choose a purple-colored phrase in the other character's statement to ask for elaboration on that topic; otherwise the dialogue just ends abruptly and must be restarted. Once or twice, it's used to let the player explore several dialogue branches in any order; the rest of the time, it's the same as regular dialogue, except you have to press a different button to advance the text. It doesn't show up that often, and is not present in any of the other games.
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony
    • The game introduced the ability to lie during trials. By holding down the button to fire a Truth Bullet, it turns into a Lie Bullet with the inverted meaning—for example, Character A's testimony about seeing Character B turns into testimony denying seeing Character B. Only two or three times does the player actually have to lie (one of which being the tutorial of how to use lies), while the other times, Lie Bullets are just an alternate solution to certain segments with no lasting impact on the rest of the trial. In fact, they're pretty counterintuitive to use (the only clue that a segment can even be passed by lying is that the background music is subtly different, which the game never actually explains) and have the terrible side effect of costing your health while you're aiming, which makes the player not want to use it anyway.
    • In a stark departure from the previous games, you actually have two playable characters this time around. You start off the game playing as Kaede Akamatsu, before switching to Shuichi Saihara midway through the first trial, with ends with Kaede being executed for the murder. While Kaede has her own Free Time Events with her classmate, she's only playable in Chapter 1 and can't be chosen in School Mode, which means you'll have to play Chapter 1 repeatedly to fill out her Free Time Events. Some players even wanted to be able to play as Kaede for the entire game or choose whether to play as Kaede or Shuichi.
    • At the end of each trial, you can choose who to vote for as the culprit. For the most part, the rest of the cast realizes who's responsible, and even the culprit knows that they're finished, so your vote doesn't affect anything. The only real significance of this feature comes up at the end of the game, when you must refuse to vote (which is punishable by death) in order to cause the killing game to end without hope or despair winning.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Justice for All and Trials and Tribulations give you the ability to present profiles as evidence in court or when talking to people during investigations. The issue is that the times where profiles are needed are slim to the point where you can easily forget that you need to present profiles to progress. Later games would restrict profiles to only being used when it's required to do so.
    • The first case of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney features a 3D diagram of the crime scene in the first case that you can manipulate in the courtroom to see possible contradictions. Despite being potentially useful, it was sadly not used after this particular case.
    • Apollo's "Perceive" ability lets him focus on a witness's body language to see if there's a tic he can spot, which clues him in on the witness hiding something. The mechanic is used a lot in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, but in later games, it's barely used at all; for example, in Dual Destines, Apollo uses it during his investigations, but Blackquill refuses to allow him to use it during trials, until the final case (in his original game, there was at least one cross-examination per case that could only be solved through Perceive). Same deal in Spirit of Justice where it’s used the exact same number of time, five. It’s arguably worse, as it’s only used in two cases, the second case, and final case.
    • Similarly, Psyche-Locks, formerly used quite often in ''Justice For All'' and ''Trials and Tribulations,'' has also become this in Dual Destines and Spirit of Justice. In the former, it’s used, depending on how you count it, 5 to 7 times. Two of those seven are not broken in gameplay, but story progression (one isn’t even broken onscreen). Only counting ones that are broken onscreen and in the main game, it’s only used twice. (3 of the 5 are in Turnabout Reclaimed, a DLC case) In the game after it, it’s only four times, and, once more, it is only used twice in the main game, and both times are in the same case, the third one.
    • The DLC case from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies boasts the comeback of the forensic investigation we saw back in Rise from the Ashes and in Apollo Justice... except it was simplified as heck. Luminol tests now need a single spray on the right area to reveal the bloodstain (as opposed to the multiple touches you had to do before), and the fingerprint search and analysis is done for you by another character while you're in court.
    • Gyakuten Kenji 2. Fingerprinting is back! And it's used exactly once.
    • Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney: Puzzles with Contradictions- specifically, puzzles that cannot be solved without some missing element. The concept in and of itself is an amazing new twist on the formulas of both original series, but it is only used once in the entire game, albeit at a critical point. Also, you are again able to present profiles in cross examinations, but it's never used.
    • The Great Ace Attorney has the jury system. At certain points in the British court cases, the jury will decide that the defendant is guilty, and you must convince four out of six of them to change their minds by seeing which jurors' explanations of their verdicts contradict each otherExplanation  in order to resume the trial. The feature comes up a total of five times in the latter three cases of the first game(the first one takes place in Japan and the second one lacks a trial phase), but only three times total in the second and third cases of the second game(the first trial is in Japan and the fourth and fifth are an extra-long case that spans two chapters, and take place in a closed court without a jury.)
  • Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair
    • While the game is somewhat short, there's only three sequences in which you investigate areas. One is an optional tutorial in which you look at the decorations around the party area. The second is a fairly simple puzzle the first time Raiko goes to the breaker room (Open the window, check the breaker, check the shelves, get the broom to retrieve Raiko's cell phone, check the shelves again for a screwdriver and open the breaker). The third is the investigation of the crime scene.
    • There is also only one occasion in which you have to select a certain spot on an image (a fairly common puzzle in Danganronpa and Ace Attorney), namely at the end where you choose which room was the crime scene (and if you get it wrong, someone else will point out the right answer). Said mechanic could have been used earlier on, when pointing out how Rie got back from the breaker room so quickly, but instead, it's a simple evidence presentation prompt.
  • Highway Blossoms: In the Next Exit DLC, the story not only features Switching P.O.V., between the perspectives of Amber (the sole POV character in the original game), Marina and a third-person narrator for the Trio, but it allows you to choose between Amber and Marina's POV for certain scenes. Unfortunately, this only happens twice - in one early scene in the RV and a later scene in the candy shop.

    Wide Open Sandbox 

  • In the Google Chrome Dinosaur Game, you can make the T. Rex duck under mid-height pterosaurs by holding the down arrow key, making it one of two actions that the T. Rex is able to take. This is not stated anywhere in-game.