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"What'd you read that in PQ Stragedy Guide? Go talk to my brother first."
Dongolev, Peasant's Quest

When the hero of a Video Game gains a new weapon, item, or ability, it can come with a whole set of attacks, spells, or other useful things. The player, whether with experience from a previous play-through or a strategy guide, knows the button presses or secret codes to activate every function — but the hero can't use them yet. He has to "learn" those new moves, if only because the Player Character doesn't know them in-game yet.

If the move requires certain conditions, like a Limit Break or Super Mode, it can still count as this, as long as "learning" the move in-game is still required to execute it once these conditions are met.

Likewise, in most Functional Magic settings, just saying the magic word won't be enough. And if there is an instrument with a bunch of Magic Music songs, and the hero knows how to play the instrument, you can do the button presses that play a song at any point before you learn it, and still it won't have any effect until you get to the right point in the game, earn enough experience, or pay enough money for it.

The Stalking Mission, which tasks the player with following a Non-Player Character to a specific destination, almost always invokes this. If the player possesses foreknowledge of the target's ultimate destination (either because they've played the mission before or consulted a Strategy Guide), they usually can't just go there directly. Instead, they must follow the NPC and "learn" of the destination as the designers intended.

In role-playing circles, this is commonly referred to as "meta-gaming," and is usually more generally defined as a character acting upon information that they shouldn't possess (yet the players themselves do). Depending on the community, it can either be a common and acceptable tactic (especially for MMORPGs,) or it can be strongly frowned upon. In character role-play, when players are expected to immerse themselves in their character and stick to a role, it's typically the latter.

A Sub-Trope of Double Unlock and Railroading.

Compare You Have Researched Breathing, Guide Dang It!, New Skill as Reward. Contrast Sequence Breaking.


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    Action Adventure 
  • In Aquaria you have to have the experience (usually beating the right boss) that teaches you a song before you can sing it. This is because Aquaria's songs function like powerups in other Metroidvania games.
  • The Battle of Olympus has Prometheus "teach" the player how to draw fire from the Staff of Fennel (hold up on the controller when pressing B) but even if you already know this ahead of time, it won't work until you talk to him.
  • In Beyond Good & Evil you can only open the password-protected doors in the enemy base by scanning the door and receiving the password; and you only receive the password after finishing the associated mission. The passwords are determined from the beginning of the game; but if you reload the game and try to enter the password before receiving it, it won't work.
  • Devil May Cry:
    • Some attacks must be purchased first before they can be executed no matter what, even if the player is already familiar with their control inputs (especially for the recurring abilities and attacks that have counterparts on other weapons), or even if the method to use them is as simple as holding the analog stick towards or away from a locked-on enemy.
    • Even on New Game Plus playthroughs, it's a common trend in the series to re-acquire Key Items, or interact with certain objects again in order to make progress in the stages. Devil May Cry 4 in particular, has an egregious example with the Evil Legacy. It's a Key Item that permanently provides Nero's Devil Bringer with the Snatch and Hell Bound abilities, yet you cannot latch onto Grim Grips unless you interact with the pedestal that houses said key item.
  • In the NES video game adaptation for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, you can actually go straight to the Holy Grail and pick the right one soon after the game starts. However if you haven't gone through the rest of the game (or at least unlock certain crucial clues) first, you will be told that you are not yet worthy of the Grail.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The sword techniques in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Can lead to Damn You, Muscle Memory! if replaying the game after finishing it.
    • If you play a song before you've officially learned it in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, or The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, it won't have any effect.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask:
      • Link should know two of the songs (Epona's Song and the Song of Storms) from the beginning of the game, since he already learned them in Ocarina of Time, but the player still can't use them until Link re-learns them from new characters. The Song of Time is an exception, because once he gets an instrument, he knows it instantly (there is a flashback to him learning it, but it's just to instruct players who didn't play the previous game).
      • The Bomber's Hideout requires a passcode that's randomly generated when a save file is created. You're supposed to go through a hide-and-seek quest in order to learn the passcode from the leader, but if you reload the save file to the beginning and try the same code, they'll let you in. On the second cycle, the leader of the Bombers, Jim, is surprised at how you knew the code without having a notebook and giving it to you, saving you from having to do the hunt a second time.
      • And it's slightly averted in the 3DS version, where you instead get the notebook from the Happy Mask Salesman in addition to the Deku Mask and the Song of Healing, and the Bombers' entry, complete with the code, is already added. You do still have to learn the code in the first cycle, though.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass:
      • Link can use a slate to summon cyclones that will transport him to different parts of the map. To summon the cyclones, the player draws certain symbols on the slate. Drawing the symbols before being told about them will yield no results.
      • In the Temple of the Ocean King, there's a red door on which you have to draw a Triforce in order to get the southeastern map. It doesn't work before you see it in Zauz's house, and it's not even there if you meet him before you're supposed to.
      • Also, you need to seek out an old wayfarer's hideout on Molida Island at one point in order to find the correct route through the foggy passage to the Northwestern Sea. If you try following the correct path before you've read it from the map in his hideout, you'll just get sent back to the start, as normal.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening: The final dungeon consists of The Maze of identical rooms. The canonical way to get through it is to complete a long Chain of Deals culminating in a magnifying glass that allows you to read a book that contains the solution to the maze. The solution is randomly chosen, so you can't just remember (or more likely, write down) the solution from a previous playthrough. However, there are a finite number of possible solutions that the game randomly picks from. There's nothing stopping you from looking them up online and trying them all one by one, lucking into the correct sequence, or just brute-forcing your way through by trying all possible combinations (although the latter would be far more time-consuming than just finishing the Chain of Deals, which has to be completed about halfway earlier in the game).
    • Averted in Oracle of Seasons with the directions to the Noble Sword (the Master Sword in a Linked Game), the solution to the maze in The Lost Woods is always the same, so you don't have to do the Chain of Deals if you don't need to.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker:
      • At one point you have to get a password to give to Niko in order for him to open the door to the pirates' ship, but he won't let you in until you've overheard it from Gonzo and Mako, even though all the possible solutions are answers to Niko's riddles and pretty easy to figure out. Hand Waved as they mention you have to say the password in a certain way for Niko to accept it, which is why Link needs to overhear it even if he already knows it.
      • The Ghost Ship Triforce Chart/Shard quest works like this. The Ghost Ship is a ghostly ship that at night; the island it appears near is determined by the phase of the moon, and you learn which island corresponds to which phase via an item called the Ghost Ship Chart. Once you have the chart, all you have to do is go the correct island and sail into the Ghost Ship, which takes you inside of it where you defeat a group of enemies to get the Shard/Chart. You can still see the Ghost Ship before obtaining the chart; however, sailing into it will not grant you access unless you have the Ghost Ship Chart.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword there's a point where you need to complete Farore's symbol by drawing a circle. You may well already know the symbol from previous plays or other games in the series, but drawing a circle won't work until Link checks a nearby carving.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, the sword button doesn't do anything until Link hears his uncle's dying words. This isn't simply due to not having a sword, because when Link later hands his sword to the blacksmiths, the same button causes him to swing his arm empty-handed. The effect is more visible when playing Randomizer, where Link's Uncle can hand him an item instead of the sword, and it still "unlocks" the sword button.
    • Justified in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: The area-of-effect attack where Wolf Link can take out multiple foes with a single attack uses Midna's power, so until she knows he needs it and teaches him how, he can't use it.
  • In Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom, a guard asks you for a password, which renders as a multiple-choice question for you. If you haven't yet unveiled the clues about the password, you get a different set of choices, all obviously wrong.
  • The celestial brush strokes in Ōkami, along with some combat moves. At the beginning, you can't access the brush screen until Issun tells you you can, and you can't use Sunrise (which Ammy supposedly had all along) until you've jumped through the appropriate plot hoops.
  • Ōkamiden lampshades this when you CAN try to paint Sunrise before the game teaches you about it: if you do, Issun will blatantly ask if you're "trying to draw the sun or something".
  • Shantae:
    • The dances, at least in the games that require button sequences for the transformations. While you might be able to remember them from your last playthrough or a previous installment, said sequences don't actually do anything until you're formally taught.
    • Shantae and the Pirate's Curse: It's possible to pick up Bran-Son's enchanted sword early (usually during a New Game Plus, though pixel-perfect jumping can also cross the hallway in question), but he refuses to take it back until it's plot-relevant.

    Adventure Game 
  • In Arthur: The Quest for Excalibur, attempting to speak the magic word for shapeshifting before Merlin teaches it to you results in "Nothing happens. (Playing from a saved game, are we?)"
  • The Blackwell Series: In The Blackwell Convergence, there is a number of topics you can look up on the protagonist's computer. If you try searching any key topics before they come up during the game, the data will still appear, but Joey will yell at you for looking up "random irrelevant things".
  • Parodied in A Change in the Weather. Early on in the game, you are told that you see a "glint" in a bush; EXAMINE GLINT reveals it to be a bucket, and you can then refer to it as BUCKET for the rest of the game. However, if you have played before and already know what the item is, you might POUR WATER INTO GLINT, which the game detects and replies it "Huh? Into a.. glint? Oh, hang on, it's a bucket. Fancy that."
  • Colossal Cave: if you go where the Pirate's treasure chest is before encountering the Pirate, you just reach a dead end. The chest isn't there.
  • Garfield: Big Fat Hairy Deal: Averted. It's possible to navigate the dark sewers and kick Nermal to get his item even though you can't see where anything is, provided you know the layout.
  • Gibbous - A Cthulhu Adventure plays with it. You can have Buzz give the can of Dr. Fisher's soda to Milton before he asks for it, and before you even know his name. Doing so even nets you an achievement, and a a Tell Tale Games-style prompt of "Buzz will remember that."
  • The Journeyman Project 3 has Arthur respond with bewilderment before slyly asking if you've been reading the hint guide if you complete a puzzle without learning the reason behind it first.
  • King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow doesn't just avert this, you have to use outside knowledge in order to win. In order to deal with Alhazred's genie, Prince Alexander can get an identical copy of the genie's lamp and have Jollo the court jester swap it for the real deal. The only way to know what the lamp looks like is via a cutscene, which is lampshaded when Jollo asks Alexander how he knew what the lamp looked like, and Alex says that he just "got a feeling".
    • The alternative solution to this problem involves getting the genie drunk on peppermint during the final confrontation, which causes him to blast himself with a misdirected spell. However, this isn't quite to the same level as the lamp, since while it's spelled out in a cutscene there's also a scene immediately beforehand where Alexander witnesses the genie (in the guise of an old man) eat a mint and stumble off drunkenly, and the character is certainly clever enough to put two and two together.
  • The Magic Music in Loom works this way; if you try a draft before you've heard someone or something else play it, you get a comment from the player character ("I don't think I spun that quite right") or a shower of sparkles to indicate that you've hit an actual spell, but you don't get the expected effect.note 
    • This becomes an almost-plot point (and somewhat frustrating) in that at one point near the end, the Big Bad uses an extremely powerful draft in a cutscene (but close enough for the player to hear.) Unfortunately, you're not carrying your distaff at the time (which normally echoes music and shows you which notes to play.) It's totally possible, if you have a good ear,note  to recognize the notes of the draft and play it yourself. In some versions of the game, you use this draft later, and you have to learn it the 'proper' way (at great personal cost) before it will work. (In other versions of the game, you use a different draft.)
    • The Transcendence draft is the first draft you hear,note  but you can't even attempt to use it until the very end of the game, since it requires the last note on your distaff and that doesn't unlock until the very end.
  • Drastically averted in Myst, where prior knowledge of the fireplace pattern will let you win the whole game in about two minutes. The sequels resolve this by randomising critical codes.
  • Police Quest 4: Open Season says this if you search for "Walker" on the Parker Center office computer before the story prompts you to do so.
  • Averted in Riven. Finishing the game involves opening the Star Fissure, which requires a password that is randomized each playthrough. It's possible to play through the game, obtain the password, then reload a save made earlier in the game and open the Star Fissure, which gets you an ending that cuts straight to you falling through and going home, without any appearance by Atrus, Catherine, or Gehn.
  • Secret Files: In the second game, in Bishop Perry's chapter, if you try to hide the Parchment in the Book on the Desk without first finding out that William Patterson requested it, he stops the action because he doesn't know who the book is going to.
  • The Secret of Monkey Island requires you to learn insults and comebacks by fighting the pirates who wander the island. Since you can't type in free text, only select from a list of things you've heard before, even if you happen to know the right responses you can't use them until Guybrush has learned them.
  • The PC game Secrets of da Vinci: The Forbidden Manuscript has a bookcase in one room with a different letter on each book's spine. To open a secret passage, you must click on the books that spell out the name of da Vinci's lover. Even if you know the name from a previous playthrough, however, the passage will not open until after you've been told the name by an NPC.
  • The Stanley Parable parodies this. If you type the password on the keypad in the boss' office before the Narrator can reveal it, the Narrator punishes your impatience by making you wait, and on subsequent visits, just opens the door without waiting for the player to type the password.
  • In Unavowed, typing a password you shouldn't know about will give you an electric shock. Similarly, solving another puzzle without first finding its solution will cause the other characters to reprimand you. And trying to name yourself Melkhiresa at the start will have Eli shout "No cheating!", and force you to try something else.
  • The drawbridge password and the poodle/hellhound's name in Wishbringer. There are only three options for the password, and the dog's name never changes, but guessing or looking up the name in the hintbook results in the bridge or dog deciding that you're just guessing and thus not obeying.
  • In Woodruff and the Schnibble of Azimuth, you cannot call plot-important tobozon numbers until you learn about them in-game.
  • Year Walk: There are a couple of puzzles that are supposed to be solved by finding the solution elsewhere, but there's nothing stopping you from solving them immediately if you already know (or looked up) the answer. The Steam version of the game rewards you with the "Cheat Walk" achievement if you do.

    Eastern RPG 
  • In Avalon Code, you can't make an item unless you've actually scanned either of the two corresponding Metalize first.
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night:
    • Once you gain some of the shapeshifting abilities, they have certain special moves that cannot be done until you gain further artifacts.
    • But even before you have officially learned any of Alucard's spells, inputing the button command will perform it, as long as you have enough max MP to cast it, and doing that even adds the spell to your technique menu instead of having to buy the spell scroll from the Librarian.
  • Chrono Trigger has both Aversions and straight examples.
    • Two aversions are in the Derelict Factory. There are three passwords that open up passages allowing you to move freely in two cases, and proceed to the boss fight in the third. If you have these passwords memorized, you are free to input them without needing to check the computer screens that tell them to you.
    • Prior to this, there is a console in Arris Dome that you need the button combination to activate. However, one of the buttons is the "interact" button, and if you try to press the combination early, you just interact with it, prompting Lucca to tell you that you need a password. This straight example forces you to fight the Guardian and obtain the Seed so that the rat can tell you the combination.
    • Even if you already know to search Manolia Cathedral, Leene's hairpin does not spawn until you have Lucca in the party, which requires you to witness Marle disappearing.
    • Another straight example later in the game: You can visit the Mammon Machine as soon as you enter Zeal Palace, but you cannot power up Marle's Pendant until you see Schala open the sealed door, which requires you to witness her scene with Janus first.
    • Another aversion is the elemental book trilogies in Kajar and Enhasa. There is a Nu in the former that tells you the order in which to open the books, but you don't need to talk to it to make it work, though unless you do it on your second visit, you have to see the scene with Janus predicting Crono's death before you can do the sequence in Enhasa.
    • A justified straight example is also in Kajar. You don't even try to scratch the other Nu in Kajar until you learn the secret Nu scratching spot from the itchy Nu in Zeal Palace. Of course, the reward is just a Magic Capsule, so there's no Permanently Missable Content involved.
  • Dungeon Siege II:
    • The Chants that you can use at Incantation Shrines can only done if you have found the appropriate scroll first. In New Game Plus you can use chants you learned the first time through, but you still can't use chants you never found in earlier playthroughs.
    • On the other hand, if you know the required reagents and have the appropriate item to enchant, you can make the artifacts without knowing the recipes first.
  • Elden Ring: Progressing Goldmask's quest after he moves to Leyndell requires you to find out the answer to the inconsistency in the Golden Order that he's pondering. The dialogue option to answer him only becomes available after you've cast the Law of Regression spell at a specific point to reveal that Radagon and Marika are the same entity. No amount of out-of-game spoilers will allow you to bypass the INT requirement for that spell.
  • In Final Fantasy VI, Sabin's blitzes are activated by pressing a specific sequence of buttons like in a Fighting Game. You can try and use the sequences for blitzes he hasn't learned yet, but they don't do anything until he unlocks the blitz in question (through leveling up or event triggers).
  • Final Fantasy VII:
    • "Guessing" the correct password the first time for the rocket will lead to a later comment by Cid on his bafflement on how you did that. (The game still lets it slide, though.)
    • You aren't allowed to access the Materia menu until Barrett asks Cloud to explain how Materia works. Thankfully that happens right after the first mission.
  • Final Fantasy VIII:
    • Zell's Limit Breaks appear to be like this, but you can actually do any of them right away without reading the magazines to unlock the more advanced moves IF you know the correct button inputs AND exactly which sequence of moves can combo into which other moves. Which requires either guesswork, trial-and-error to crack the mechanics, or looking it all up somewhere. On the other hand, once Zell is powerful enough to reliably hit for 9999 damage, the best way to maximize the power of his Limit Break is to ignore all the fancy unlockable moves and instead use the quickest and most basic two over and over as many times as possible, but by that point there are usually other more convenient Game-Breaker tactics available.
    • Likewise, if you have the ingredients, you can completely ignore the weapons magazines that tell you how to upgrade your weapons, allowing for a Disc-One Nuke when you consider that all of the ingredients necessary for Squall's Infinity +1 Sword are available in disc one (mostly by spending several dozen hours playing the card game), and the limit breaks available to him depend on his current weapon...
  • In Fire Emblem: Awakening, the Pair Up mechanic, which lets two characters combine into a single unit and move and fight together, isn't officially introduced in-story until Chapter 3, and so the game won't let you use it before then. Unless you disable the tutorials, in which case you can use it right from the start.
  • Grandia: Entering the right password in an imperial fort requires hearing about it first, or Justin will just say he was pressing random buttons.
  • Mechanically speaking, there is not a single puzzle in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn that actually requires Insight Psynergy. All you actually need for the Ouroboros dungeon is the Arid Heat power from the Sand Prince Gem. But the game railroads you into fetching the Insight Glass anyway because that's what prompts Amiti to join the party.
    • Another example is that after you use Arid Heat dozens of times to navigate Barai Temple and get the Insight Glass, Amiti pops out at the entrance to the Ouroboros to prompt you to use Arid Heat on the basin of water there that is exactly like all the basins of water in Barai Temple that you already manipulated using Arid Heat. Thank you, Amiti.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Most card sleights in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories are unlocked through level ups or found inside treasure chests. The most simple ones such as Blizzard and Fire, however, are available as soon as you obtain their card.
    • In Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, some Synthesis items won't appear in the Shop menu until you have obtained their recipes or one or more of their ingredient items. After an item becomes listed, you can see what else you need and how many of it to get.
    • In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, you can meld any command you have the base components for, but unless you have the recipes, which are found throughout the game, you won't have any idea what it is you're melding. Even once you've made a command once, it won't show you the results of its melding until you have the recipe. This can be amazing when you accidentally create a giga command fairly early, and amazingly frustrating when you end up creating three of the same crappy command in a row even though you used very different inputs.
  • In Legend of Legaia and its sequel, Legaia II: Duel Saga, you can use and learn any normal art (and in Legaia II, any super art) as soon as you have a big enough move bar for it (or temporarily lengthen it by using items or other moves). However, Hyper Arts require you to have a book before they'll work properly.
  • The Advanced Moves in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. After enough uses of the move, Mario will adopt a "thinking" pose for a moment, then a "Eureka!" one, followed by the word "ADVANCED!" On-screen prompts then indicate how to perform the Advanced variant of the move, but memorizing the moments to hit each button will not let you perform the move earlier.
    • Even after you get the hammers (and later the hand moves), if the back bro uses it on the front one, it will have no effect (other than making him angry) until you actually learn the related move.
  • Alchemy in Odin Sphere: even if you put the right ingredients together, you won't get anything other than material unless you actually have the recipe in your possession. (The remaster does away with the trope, allowing alchemical mixtures to work whether the player has officially discovered the recipe or not.)
  • In the Paper Mario games, special moves cannot be done until you learn them, even though it's just the buttons you input.
  • In Pokémon, Pokémon can't learn a certain move until they either have gotten to the correct level or their trainer has the TM/HM for it. While that would normally fit under You Have Researched Breathing, it also becomes an example of this trope due to how moves are learned. Pokémon can only remember four moves at a time (including Pokemon like Alakazam, Metagross, and even Arceus), but players/trainers could not only remember all of the moves the Pokémon has learned previously but also learn every single move that the Pokemon can use in total (if they had the time and patience to learn all of that) and what every single Pokémon evolves into. Thus it becomes an example of this trope because the player knows about things like how some Pokémon not only need to be traded to evolve but also hold certain items when traded, or what certain Pokémon are capable of breeding with.
    • In Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, most mechanics from Generation III games are applied to the Generation I based remakes. However, the game will outright prevent evolution of Golbat and Chansey by friendship level-up, as the player isn't supposed to be aware of the Johto region or National Pokédex until after becoming the Champion.
    • Additionally, with the exception of Pokémon Black and White and their sequels, the game prevents you from using field moves until you get the badge necessary to use them, even if your Pokémon know those moves already (possible through hacking, transferring from Pokémon Bank which, unlike trading, does not restrict Pokémon with HM moves, and the few Pokémon that learn HM moves naturally), in order to prevent Sequence Breaking.
  • Phantom Brave: You can't lift items on your home island until you've played the appropriate tutorial. You can still lift people, and this makes it easier to reach a certain Easter Egg.
  • In Riviera: The Promised Land, if you try to use a battle function (say, switching the row order) before your party members explain it to you, they inform you that you don't understand it yet and you shouldn't fool around with it. It can get annoying, because the tutorials are part of the narrative and take place across the first two chapters. Yggdra Union is similar in that certain functions just can't be used until a certain point in the game whether you know how to use them or not. Knights in the Nightmare thankfully solves this problem by separating the tutorials from the main game, and letting you access them from the start menu instead.
  • Super Mario RPG: Even if you know the back door to the Marrymore chapel is unlocked from a previous game, you can't enter until you attempt to open the front door and the Snifit says he remembered to lock the back door... at least he thinks.
  • Tales of the Abyss won't let you use the Capacity Core menu (and thus set Luke a core) until a small tutorial in the Cheagle Woods, even on your second playthrough, when you brought Tutti and just thought things were going smoothly. That's why it's strongly recommended that you don't level up until then which is a pain with monsters jumping at you. It gets worse if you also picked the "10x experience" option.
  • In both Wild ARMs: Alter Code F and the original Wild ARMs, Jack's prologue has him entering his own name (and you giving him his name) as a test for an ancient ruin's password system. If you actually name him the password that you would have learned much later in the game, the door will open. He'll express puzzlement at this and bang on the keyboard out of curiosity of what will happen, causing him to fall into the same trap that would normally happen if you had named him anything else.

    Fighting Game 
  • Astral Heats in BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger — if you haven't cleared Arcade mode with the appropriate character (except for Rachel, Ragna, and Nu-13), the input for them will do nothing, even if the other conditions required for use are in play.
  • In a strange example, Fighters Destiny has four secret characters (Robert, Ushi, Joker, and Master) whose unlocking methods you can look up online and perform. The catch: these methods won't work until Master tells you how to unlock them, which you can learn by beating the game.
  • A lot of the items in Power Stone 2, when mixed together, create new items (or at best randomly old ones, at worst "a failure", which gets you a special coupon). However the most "special" of items won't be created till you've found the proper "recipes" no matter how many times you throw the right ingredients together, though you know you're at least doing something right when it just generates a random other item. Of course there are also items that literally rely on random chance too, where even the "proper recipe" could get varied results every time.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • * Fashion Police Squad has weapons with secondary fire. However, before certain cutscenes, you can't use these. Moreover, Des carries about half of those weapons in hand but these are still unlocked after certain points.
  • Halo: Combat Evolved has the mission "The Silent Cartographer," which Bungie created as a sort of test mission to show off various of Halo's core mechanics, including vehicle combat and exploration (the mission is packaged with the Halo Demo and is the preferred showcase for the Custom Mapping Team's Halo mods). The mission itself is fairly straightforward: you are being deployed with two squads of Marines to an island on Halo's surface, looking for a map room called the Silent Cartographer, which will lead to the installation's control room. Early on, Covenant forces will lock the player out of further progress to the map room, forcing them to backtrack and assault a security substation buried in a cliff wall on the other side of the island. Despite this, you can actually hit the security station first, which prompts Cortana to inform the player they have not in fact discovered the Cartographer, but securing this installation means the Covenant can no longer lock them out, and further, this installation does at least have a map of the island itself. There is no in-game penalty for doing this, although Covenant reinforcements will be deployed to the garrison already holding the Cartographer, meaning the player will now have to fight what amounts to four complete sections of Covenant infantry, augmented by a pair of Hunters. This does allow you to complete the mission much faster, however.
  • In the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, you can find or receive notes telling you the locations of stashes containing various items. With some luck or knowledge from a previous playthrough you can find the stashes without their respective notes, but if you try this outside of the third game Call of Pripyat, the stash will invariably be empty until you have a note telling you about it.

  • "Provisioners" (cooks) in The Elder Scrolls Online have to have read a recipe (that is inexplicably destroyed upon reading it) to learn how to cook meals and brew drinks. Even stuff as basic as a baked potato.
  • In EverQuest, when talking to quest giving NPCs, they'll highlight certain words in [brackets] that you have to say back to them to continue the quest. However, by reading walkthroughs or just being in the area when another player is doing the quest, you can catch the [phrase] and then try to use it on the NPC. If you're too low in level for the quest, not on the appropriate step of the quest, or just not qualified for that quest to begin with, most NPCs will ignore you - but some will ask you if you don't have any gnoll pups (or similar low level trash mobs) to go slay.
  • For the most part, you can craft items in Kingdom of Loathing without unlocking the recipe, which will automatically add the recipe to a "discoveries" list. However, there are a few "recipes" that have to be unlocked, but some of them are ridiculous, such as not knowing how to combine brownie mix and white chocolate chips until you pickpocket your Mom's secret recipe from a random encounter.
  • In World of Warcraft, recipes for crafted objects must be found in-game by aspiring crafters. (Contrast this with Final Fantasy XI, where you can attempt any synth you have the ingredients for.)
    • Despite having learned how to fly in Burning Crusade, you have to pay to learn how to fly in Northrend. And in the half-destroyed old world in Cataclysm. And again in Pandaria. In Warlords of Draenor, you just have to complete a slightly annoying set of hoops, and suddenly all your characters will know how to fly. This is given Hand Wave by the skies allegedly being increasingly hostile and turbulent, except in the old world, where you need a license to become your own Flight Master.
  • RuneScape:
    • The quest The Dig Site requires you to take a test to become certified to work at the titular dig site. Unfortunately, all of the books that have the answers have been taken by other students, and you'll have to do favors for them so they'll tell you what you need to know. If you haven't yet spoken to the students, your only options will be wrong.
    • There's a rather snarky lampshading in a quest that requires three specific items. If you just so happen to have them on you before a NPC tells you you need them, the two of you will have a rather comical conversation about how unlikely it is you'd just be carrying all that stuff around, unless you had access to an interdimensional source of information that could predict the future (i.e. you read the quest guide) and used that to prepare yourself.

    Party Game 
  • The April Fools' Day episode of You Don't Know Jack: The Netshow featured a Gibberish Question that seemed like it should have "April Fool" as the answer. If you enter the actual answer, "Grape Will Rule," the host will act like you just entered a nonsense response, then accuse you of having seen the episode already before giving you whatever points were still available anyway.
    • In a more general sense, this is how the game treats pressing the buzzer before the answers (or just the question) have appeared. Since YDKJ uses fixed question sets, a player could memorize the answers, which is regarded as cheating. As punishment, it becomes nearly impossible or even actually impossible for the offending player to successfully answer the question.

    Platform Game 
  • Zig-Zagged in Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie.
    • On one hand, many moves cannot be used until you've officially "learned" them from Bottles or Jamjar. This makes some sense with moves that aren't altogether intuitive. In other cases, it should be obvious. Particularly egregious in the case of first-person egg shooting in the air or underwater, which works exactly the same way as egg aiming does on land, barring that the terrain-appropriate movement controls also still apply. Kazooie lampshades this if you attempt to enter the Big Top and fight Mr. Patch without knowing Airborne Egg Aiming.
      Kazooie: But that's rubbish! We know how to aim eggs already!
      Conga: That's right.
    • On the other hand, if you already know the basic moves in Banjo-Kazooie, you can skip the opening tutorial and head straight for Grunty's Lair. Just tell Bottles, and he'll let you on your way.note  This carries on to the beginning of Banjo-Tooie, which additionally averts Bag of Spilling by having the duo remember all their moves from the previous game; the molehills in Spiral Mountain serve only as completely optional refreshers for those unfamiliar with the moves from the first game.
  • In Flink, Flink can't create a magic spell until he reads the magic scroll that tells which three ingredients he needs.
  • Zero in the Mega Man X and Zero games. He gains new attack moves instead of sub-weapons from bosses. In the latter series he gets Easy Amnesia, making him forget attacks that he should have memorized countless times already.
    • The latter case has two justifications: Zero had been in stasis for over 100 years, and had to have a new body constructed after his old one was taken and used to cause a disaster.
  • In Oddworld: Abe's Oddyssee, the locks in the rooms of the Paramonia and Scrabania Temples requires a melody to be played using the 3 bells. You might know the correct melody from a previous playthrough and you can try to enter it, but it won't work. You must learn the melody and then go back to the bells, which will now play the melody automatically and open the door.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • Brütal Legend has Solos, which you play on your guitar and learn through exploration or game progress, in almost exactly identical fashion to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The primary difference is that the guitar's magic literally comes from The Power of Rock.
  • Darwinia featured command gestures that allowed you to run certain programs (though a patch replaced these with more standard function keys). Using the gestures/function keys before the program has been found simply results in the Mentor telling you it hasn't been implemented yet.
  • Annoyingly done in Overlord where you can't tell your minions to stay in one spot before you've been told how to, which happens after defeating the first boss, even though it's one of the basic commands! You can however use it in the dungeon battles before you're taught it.
  • In Patapon, you don't learn new drum beats until you unlock the relevant "drum" (i.e., button) by finding it in the stage.
  • In the Starcraft II Heart Of The Swarm campaign, the button for selecting your entire army doesn't work until a character tells you about it toward the end of the third mission.
  • The industrial and resource balance of Hearts of Iron is much more favorable to the Axis than it was historically, partly because much of the Axis success early in the real WWII was due to very specific tactics/strategies that Allied players of course know to anticipate. Similarly, standing up to Hitler earlier than historically as Britain or France has significant penalties to stability and/or war support: you know that conflict with Germany is inevitablenote , but your country's population doesn't.

    Simulation Game 
  • In Growing Up, the movie theater can be unlocked as early as in the elementary stage in Bobbie's route, but you can't learn cinematography skills or buy tickets until middle school.
  • Harvest Moon series:
    • In most Harvest Moon games, your character can cook any recipe in the book, as long as he has the kitchen and the right ingredients. Not so in Island Of Happiness, where you only have access to Cooked Rice and Toast to begin with (and unlike the other games in the series, rice and bread isn't available from the store. You must grow the grains yourself). You have to gain the recipes either by giving ingredients to the cafe and/or diner owners (and you can only learn one per day from them) or making it to the bottom of the mine, where the Harvest Goddess will give you one on every even numbered trip down (your second, fourth, etc).
    • The follow up, Sunshine Island makes things a bit easier on you, by having the Diner and Cafe available from the start and certain ingredients available from Chen's shop. But then it takes two steps back with a "Degree System" , meaning you have to have to have a high enough score (which is hidden from you) to make most recipes. If your score isn't high enough, you'll just end up wasting your ingredients (some of which are quite rare, expensive and/or labor intensive).
    • Tale of Two Towns won't let you dig irrigation trenches until the mayor comes and teaches you, despite not needing any unusual equipment to do so.
    • Spin-Off series Rune Factory does this for cooking and item forging, though the recipes/formulas require mostly patience to acquire.
      • In some titles, such as Frontier, it's possible to make a dish without knowing the recipe; however, instead of being able to do it with 20 less than the required skill, you have to have at least the required skill. Tides of Destiny doesn't even allow you to cook or craft anything without the recipe, but this may be because some different items using the same combination of ingredients; for example, Aden's and Sonja's hats are both made with a yarn ball and a cheap cloth.
      • In Rune Factory 4 you can make any recipe at any time as long as you know the combination, however to keep you from making game-breaking items before you would be around its level, the game requires ridiculously large amounts of RP (a chocolate cake for example would cost you close to 500 RP instead of 150). The cost tends to lower as you get better at cooking with that specific device, but the RP is still massive, and you'll need a lot of high-level resources for armor and weapon crafting that will basically require you to get that far in the game.
    • Story of Seasons (2014) is similar to Rune Factory in that you can't cook a dish until you acquire the recipe in-game, even if you have all the ingredients and you (the player) know what's required. Since all the potential love interests have a Trademark Favorite Food which makes romancing them easier, this can be frustrating if the recipe is hard to find.
  • Idol Manager:
    • The standard sequence of events when an idol gets bullied is the player getting alerted of the victim's ensuing loss of mental stamina by the game, finding out who is bullying her via gossiping with an idol who is neither one of the bullies nor the victim, then using the Player Character's influence over one of the bullies to get all of them to stop. As soon as the player is alerted by the game, the victim's "bonds" screen will mark her as bullied by unknown groupmates while that of the bullies will mark them as bullying an unknown victim, yet the socialization interface won't allow the player to influence the bullies into quitting their behavior. Being allowed to do that by the game requires the Player Character to gossip with non-involved idols, themselves identifiable via their lack of "bully" or "victim" status in their "bonds" screen, until the names of the ringleader of the bullies and the victim are spoken in the same breath, even if there is only one ongoing bullying situation.
    • Cases of idols from the group dating each other are much less urgent under the right policies, but are just as subject to this trope in smaller groups. Two idols are simultaneously marked as "dating an idol from your group" in their "extras" screen as soon as the game alerts the player about the situation. Yet, gossiping until the pair is outright named is still necessary for the names of their respective only possible girlfriends to appear in their "extras" screen.
  • In Magician's Quest: Mysterious Times for the DS, if you know (or can puzzle out) the magic alphabet words and necessary actions for a spell, you can cast it even if you haven't officially learned it yet.
  • Spiritfarer: The quest "Humble Abode" has Stella searching for Astrid's husband Giovanni. Even if you know that he's in Loneberg, he won't join Stella aboard her ship until the necessary steps in Astrid's questline are completed.

    Stealth-Based Game 
  • The Hitman series relies a lot on players learning patterns and routines of targets, placements of items and intel and other details of interest by them constantly playing the levels over and over again. Of course, it leads to situations where 47 really shouldn't know how to do specific things, such as in 2016's Sapienza mission, where Silvio Caruso, a bioengineer who has created a DNA-targeting Virus that can kill the secondary target, Francesca De Santis, and has hidden it in his villa, and using it before the conversation arises of its existence has the effect of 47 enacting an assassination method he shouldn't know about yet.

    Survival Horror 
  • In Alien: Isolation you can't insert access codes to unlock doors or terminals until you have already found them in-game.
  • To use a spell in Eternal Darkness, you normally need a scroll, three runes, a Circle of Power (3, 5, or 7 slots) and the runes' codices (these tell you the rune's name and purpose). However, thanks to the game's spellcrafting system, it is possible to create a new spell with only the required runes, skipping the scroll and codices. A spell created this way will have no label for what it does until you find its corresponding scroll, but it is still perfectly castable.
  • Averted with the safes you find in The Last of Us Part II. Normally you need to use various nearby hints to deduce the combinations, but they're not randomized. If you enter a combination without having found it, your character will say something along the lines of "Oh wow, that worked!" as they open the safe, implying it was just an incredibly lucky guess.
  • Paranoiac: You will encounter a Game-Breaking Bug if you use the code for the computer before you learn it in-game, which makes you lock yourself out of several rooms.
  • Prey (2017): With a combination of No Fair Cheating, there is a sidequest where you have to follow a treasure hunt set up by an employee before the station went to hell which involves following clues to different parts of the station to get more clues in order to get a password to download a chip that increases your wrench's chance to crit, the amount of resources you gain from recyclers, the battery life of your flashlight, and your crouch movement speed. If you enter the password without having found it ingame however, you get a different chip that debuffs your abilities, making it completely useless.
  • Even though Jill can mix together the V-Jolt chemical herself in Resident Evil, the game won't allow you to so much as examine the shelf its components are on until you collect the "V-Jolt Report" first. Especially odd because the directions to mix it are also written on a wall in the chemical room.
  • Defied in Resident Evil 2. Finding the Weapon Box Key requires you to use your lighter to set off a huge flare gun, the flash of which reveals the key. Playing as Claire and forgot to bring the lighter? Just pick the damn thing up anyway, because all the flare does is make it visible.
  • Rather amusingly lampshaded in Resident Evil 4; one of Leon's early objectives is to find a church, where Ashley Graham is being held prisoner. The church door is actually locked, however, and Leon has to go find a key. It's completely possible to avoid this entirely and go get the key immediately. When Leon reports to Hunnigan he's recovered it, she irritably asks him if he's even been to the church yet. Leon replies in a rather confused tone that he has, regardless of whether he had in that particular playthrough.
  • Used rather amusingly in Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. When doing the "Happy Birthday" puzzle as Clancy in the VHS recording, trying to use the letter-based combination lock will just tell you that you don't know the password, because if you weren't forced to learn it "properly," Clancy could avoid his Plotline Death, which has already happened by the time Ethan arrives. In contrast, Ethan can use the combination lock without going through the whole puzzle, so long as the player knows the combination (i.e., from playing through the aforementioned flashback), which allows him to survive.
    • A straighter example happens immediately before the "Happy Birthday" puzzle. To enter the room, you have to enter a four digit code into a keypad. The code is the same every single run, but if you attempt to enter it before finding it ingame, the game will change the passcode to something else, still forcing you to find it to continue.
  • During the white chamber, you come across a locked terminal that requires a color-coded password and your only hint is "Patience While You Grill Bacon Rind" which, for each letter, comes out to Purple White Yellow Green Blue Red, and entering the password allows you to take control of a maintenance drone that can open the escape hatch putting out a fire and allowing you to enter. Of course, you're liable to remember the password on a replay, and enter it the immediate moment you gain control of the computer (which is liable to be the third or fourth room you enter and is mandatory to enter just to progress to the later parts of the ship). Doing so still allows you to access the camera feed, but a large head with no eyes and the words "Not Yet" spelled in blood where its eyes should be will block you from being able to actively use the maintenance bot until you actually pick up the password sheet.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • In Gears of War 3, you need to attempt to start the cable car and have the characters realize it's tethered before you can bypass the barbed wire fence leading to the room where you cut the tether. If you try to open the wire fence first, Marcus will say "Can't do that yet."

    Visual Novel 
  • Ace Attorney is a notable offender of this trope. It does not matter if you figured out who the real culprit is, or which evidence or piece of testimony points it out. If your character did not figure it out, then you cannot point it out.
    • Early in the first Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game's second case, you find a small piece of paper that says "Maya", written in blood. It's actually a receipt for a (now broken) glass stand Mia bought a day before being killed. Later in the case, the killer's final testimony involves him stating he saw the glass stand in one piece a week before the murder. Even if you already know presenting that piece of paper is necessary to point out the contradiction, you cannot do that until Mia tells you how it proves he's lying.
    • The Great Ace Attorney has some fun with this a few times in in the Dance of Deduction sequences if the player skips examining an object and just goes straight to the solution. Case in point:
    Ryunosuke: Behind the lion statue on the mantelpiece, almost deliberately hidden from view, is a photograph. Though I have yet to examine it in detail, I can assure you that it holds the answer. Because I'm employing an extremely advanced detection technique called 'jumping to conclusions', you see!
  • Coffee Talk: Even if you know the recipe, there are some special drinks that you can't make in Episode 2 until you unlock them on certain days. If you try making them before they're unlocked, you'll end up with generic drinks instead.
  • The Zero Escape series makes use of this in-character and plays with it: the gap between what is "player knowledge" and what is "character knowledge" is reduced in various ways.
    • In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, the fact that you need to see a particular Bad Ending in order to reach the True Ending is because Akane never saw the combination needed to rescue Snake and can't pass it onto Junpei in another timeline.
    • In Virtue's Last Reward, several characters have a special power that allows them to get around this. Namely, Sigma and Phi can remember, and make use of, events the player has seen on previous playthroughs of the game before they have occurred in the plot of a current playthrough, frequently baffling or scaring the other characters. In fact, the final escape room of the Golden Ending is just the first one again, and the solution is to cheat by inputting the safe password you learned the first time and skipping all the puzzle solving (if you try to solve the puzzles again, you just get yelled at for wasting time and told to input the password). In the epilogue, the player takes control of an unknown consciousness inhabiting Kyle's body who baffles Phi in the same way.
    • Zero Time Dilemma plays around with it as well. As in the previous game, several characters have the ability to "shift" between timelines, retaining some of their memories. When the teams open their Force Quit boxes, they get back all their memories from the various other timelines in the game, and can then make use of this knowledge.

    Western RPG 
  • Amulets & Armor does it both ways: Picking a character class from one of the two magical families (Arcane or Holy) will give you a set of runes to cast spells with, and each spell is recorded as a note page in your inventory. You can pick up more as you play through the levels, but you're free to cast any spell at any time, the notes are just a reference for the player. You need the right runes, however, so even if you memorize an Arcane spell, a Cleric (who has holy runes) can't cast it. (In theory you could pick up the runes, as they're just items, but in reality there isn't a full set in the levels)
  • Numerous passwords and keycodes in the original Deus Ex are hardcoded, so use of a guide can net some very unfair bounties. One notable exception is the entrance to the Luminous Path compound. The code to the main door only works once it is given; before it is given the code won't work. Additionally, using tricks to get into the compound in a different way (usually by going over the wall) will affect another keypad deeper within the compound: not only will its code (normally the same as the main door code) not work, but somehow the 4-digit keypad becomes a 6-digit keypad.
    • This particular method was averted quite simply in Invisible War, by removing the manual code entry: if Alex knows the code, the keypad works, and if not, it doesn't.
    • Deus Ex: Human Revolution brings back manual code entry, and that element of metagaming returns with it. This seems to be intentional, too — the game does recognize whether or not Adam would know the code; when accessing a keypad or computer whose password he knows, a little popup will appear in one corner of the screen with the code written out for your convenience.
  • Overlapping with No Fair Cheating, the original Fable has six clues leading to the Frying Pan, which starts off as weak, but can receive up to five augmentations. However, if you dig it up without finding all six clues, it deals zero damage and has no augmentation slots.
  • In South Park: The Fractured but Whole, if you type in the correct passcode to an electronic lock before you actually learn said passcode, Cartman will pop up in the corner of the screen to tell you to stop cheating. He dresses like a New England Patriots football coach and addresses you as "Tom Brady" while doing so.
  • In Ultima Underworld, the runes for most of the game's spells are written in the manual (not to mention identical to earlier games in the series), but you have to actually find the runes first and reach a necessary level in the spellcasting skill to cast them. For those few spells that someone teaches you in-game, though, you can cast them as soon as you have the runes and skill. Some spells can only be found through experimenting.
    • Earlier Ultima games avert this. In Ultima 4, 5, and 6, you need to learn the proper mantra for each Virtue; but they are the same in every game, and if you remember them from the previous installment, it'll still work.
    • But in Ultima IX you must complete the tedious, repetitive quest for each Shrine of Virtue to learn the corresponding Word of Virtue, which you have to use to cleanse the shrine. If the game lets you.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim contains twelve Treasure Maps, which are readable notes feature a crude map showing the way to a treasure. A treasure only spawns if you pick up its related Treasure Map once.note 

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Dead Rising 2 lets you create Combo Weapons before you've attained the proper Combo Card that tells you how to make it. However, without the Combo Card you don't gain the x2 PP bonus you would usually get from using a combo weapon, and you don't have access to the weapon's "Heavy" attack.
  • Red Dead Redemption II combines this with No Fair Cheating. To wit, cheat codes are located around the game world as graffiti and the like, but won't work unless the player has actually found them in-game.

    Non-Video Game 
  • In Forewarned is Forearmed, Lavenza is concerned when Akira falls into the TV World, as he was not meant to know about the Metaverse yet in the "proper" course of events. Despite her attempts to make him stay in the real world, he keeps coming back both to revel in the powers of his Persona and to see her. She worries that Akira's increasing involvement would alter the story too much, so she insists he keep out of sight and not tell Yu anything.
  • In Heir Apparent, Janine has to be careful when requesting help and other things from people from previous tries that she is not supposed to have met yet. Needless to say, it gets quite frustrating, especially when she doesn't have very good staying-alive-abilities.
  • Enforced in Noob: La Quête Légendaire. While showing Omega Zell the way to the place where he's supposed to start a hard questline, Ystos keeps telling Omega Zell to not take it lightly. Once there, it turns out that the first quest consists of impressing the Quest Giver by completing a Hold the Line challenge without any kind of assistance and that the opportunity to do the rest of the questline will be lost permanently if Omega Zell fails. Ystos is friends with one of the few people who completed this specific challenge before Omega Zell did, so chances are that he was holding back the details on purpose.
  • Parodied in Problem Sleuth. Early in the comic, Problem Sleuth comes across a piece of paper with three symbols — a star, a heart, and a horseshoe. Later, without the paper, he comes across a rotary phone with symbols instead of numbers. However, the 'game' doesn't let him dial the right combination unless he returns with the piece of paper:
    You vaguely recall seeing somewhere the sequence of symbols, STAR - HEART - HORSESHOE. However, you can't quite remember the symbols STAR - HEART - HORSESHOE. You will need the piece of paper with STAR - HEART - HORSESHOE written on it if you wish to remember the sequence STAR - HEART - HORSESHOE.
  • Exploited in the fourth book of Story Thieves, a Choose Your Own Adventure book. The main character is trapped in a prison. There is a keypad-locked door leading to freedom, but the prison has a Time Loop that gives everyone Laser-Guided Amnesia to prevent people from learning the code. As you the reader is not affected by this, the main character relies on you to obtain and remember said passcode.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Ocarina Playlist


Let the narrator talk!

Stanley annoys the Narrator by inputting the keypad code before the Narrator reveals it.

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