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    Card Battle Games 
  • Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft has its fair share of bad utility cards. This tends to pop up with a lot of weird, experimental cards introduced in every set, and the devs' insistence on not nerfing or buffing cards unless something is game-breaking. Tonnes of cool but weak cards are quickly relegated to the trash bin when they don't make the cut.
    • Sacrificial Pact is a 0 mana Warlock spell that destroys a demon and restores 5 health to your Hero. Sounds pretty awesome, except that the only neutral demons in the game are weak and/or rarely played in constructed. That means unless you're up against another Warlock (which even then, don't use enough powerful demons to justify running Sac Pact over regular removal), it's a completely dead card. You can target your own demons too (which considering it's called Sacrificial Pact is pretty obviously the entire point of the card- using it to destroy your opponent's demons is Not the Intended Use), but it's not worth killing off a minion just to restore a measly 5 health.
      • It does sometimes get attention in highlight reels, since it can insta-kill your opponent if they become Lord Jaraxxus.
      • The card has seen some meager play, usually to trigger the Deathrattles (on-death effects) of powerful demons before your opponent can react. Even then, it's pretty bad compared to Dark Pact, which has a similar effect but can target any friendly minion, giving it far more utility.
    • The Warrior spell card Charge. The old version was a 3 mana spell that grants a friendly minion +2 attack and Charge. That means any minion can attack the turn you play it, with an attack boost to boot! However, the card does next to nothing unless you play it on a minion you just summoned. The problem with that is playing a card you'd like to give Charge to and still having enough mana left to cast a 3 mana spell and in most cases, it was better to just throw in a minion with Charge instead. The only time this card was useful was in one-turn-kill combo decks (featuring Raging Worgen and a bunch of cost-reduced buffs). The new version, which doesn't give extra attack and doesn't allow the minion to attack the hero but costs only 1 mana, is still hardly ever used, mainly for the same reason as its previous version where it's a dead card if you don't have a minion to play it on.
    • Related to the above is Warsong Commander. Even though her game-breaking ability to grant Charge to any minions with 3 or less Attack well deserved being changed, her current iteration is hilariously bad. She is now a 3 mana 2/3 that grants your Charge minion +1 Attack. Compare her to Raid Leader, a 2/2 that grants all friendly minions +1 attack. You get 1 health in exchange for an effect so minor it may as well not affect anything. A few notes: Charge minions don't stay in play for very long, since they have low health on average, so you're not going to use the AoE part of her buff for anything. Charge itself has been phased out in favour of Rush, a similar but less problematic keyword. There are only 16 Charge cards available to Warrior, only 2 actually worth playing, and none worth playing Warsong Commander for. All in all, one of the most offensively useless cards in the game.
    • Bolster is a Warrior spell that gives all your minions with Taunt +2/+2 for 2 mana. For comparison, Druid has a spell that gives a single minion +2/+2 and Taunt, also for 2 mana. The issue is amassing enough Taunts to actually make the effect worthwhile. Taunts themselves tend be low impact since their utility is almost always just the Taunt ability, and there are practically no good cheap Taunts. You have to somehow stay ahead on the board using mostly only Taunt minions if you want the Bolster to be effective, because if you fall far behind, a few 2/2 buffs usually won't do much. And that's if you even have lots of minions able to stick around. And all that's if you even draw the Bolster and not just a bunch of bad Taunts.
    • Shaman has The Mistcaller. It's a Legendary that gives all minions in your hand and deck +1/+1. That means everything you play from then on will be statted above the mana cost. The problem is The Mistcaller himself. He's a 6 mana 4/4 that does nothing the turn he's played. Unless you were already way ahead, that massive tempo loss is basically irrecoverable, even with 1/1 buffs. Your opponent will be able to amass enough threatening stuff on the board to just out-value you. And if you were way ahead, the 1/1 buff won't mean anything since you were probably going to win anyway.
    • Joust and Inspire, the two major mechanics of The Grand Tournament set, are mostly this. Joust reveals a random minion in each player's deck, and if yours costs more, the Jouster gains a ludicrously powerful effect. The main problem is the randomness (even putting lots of big cost minions in your deck, you can't guarantee the outcome), the fact that its weighted in favour of your opponent (it has to cost more, so if the minions revealed are equal cost, it will still lose the joust), and the fact that the Joust cards themselves are well below par if they lose (Master Jouster for example, is a 6 mana 5/6 that gains Divine Shield and Taunt off the joust. If it loses, it's just a 5/6 for 6 mana). Inspire effects trigger when you use your Hero Power. The effects are usually pretty strong, but the fact that your Hero Power costs 2 mana is killer. It basically means that every Inspire card costs 2 more mana than it should, but is still statted like its original price. The effects themselves are also slow, needing at least two turns to become truly amazing (Except in two cases: in Arena where they were borderline broken due to its slower pace, or gimmicky Priest combo decks).
    • The Druid spell Tree of Life, which has the massive effect of restoring all characters to full health. The problem is that it's priced at a whopping 9 mana. In aggressive matches, you're usually dead before you reach that much mana, and in control mirrors, it's a totally dead draw. Even if you do cast it on the brink of death, at best it'll buy you one or two turns since you spent 9 mana doing basically nothing. Playing the 3 mana restore 8 Healing Touch and a 6 mana minion is usually far better, not to mention far more flexible.
    • Emeriss is a fairly impressive minion, as a 10 mana 8/8 Dragon that doubles the attack and health of all other minions in your hand. This can be used as a backbreaker card in Control matchups and is devastating to pull from random effects in Arena. Unfortunately, Emeriss happens to be a Hunter card, a class that simply cannot afford to give up pressure and play a low tempo 8/8 for 10.
    • In general, spells that mass duplicate cards are very weak. Cards like Ectomancynote , Hunting Partynote , Echo of Medivhnote , and Sudden Genesisnote  have all failed to see play. Even though you can potentially put a huge amount of stats on the board, you need to have very specific board/hand setups, which usually requires cheating to get into that position. If you've done the cheating to get there, playing a card like that is only possible while ahead and often overkill.
    • Deadly Arsenal is a Warrior spell that reveals a weapon from your deck and deals its attack damage to all minions. Sounds pretty useful, but Control Warrior, the deck that would use the card, doesn't usually run high-attack weapons. In fact, the weapons they do run are low-attack ones with powerful abilities like Supercollider and Blood Razor. Warping your deck around the effect is also pointless, since one thing Warrior isn't lacking is incredible board control (that's pretty much the class' hat). Finally, it's an utterly dead card if you draw your weapons before you draw Deadly Arsenal. It's a card that fills an absolutely bizarre niche of not being a possible design for any other class, but being totally worthless for the class it's in.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Baldur's Gate and its sequel. Bosses were invariably immune, petrification and disintegration would destroy your enemy's loot as well, and silencing was particularly useless, as every enemy wizard would immediately cast the "Vocalize" counterspell. Of course, you had to make sure to be protected against all of this; helmets of Charm Protection were indispensable. However, there were exceptions; debuff spells like "Dispel Magic" were indispensable even in your hands, since many of the bosses and mini-bosses of the game were spellcasters with so many protective spells stacked on that they were literally invulnerable without their aid. Furthermore, in the first game many of the bosses can be Charmed and even forced to kill themselves with their own spells.
    • To counteract this, several spells exist solely for making enemies more vulnerable to magic, occasionally making the Useless Useful Spell, well, useful. If you're enough Crazy-Prepared with spells of "Lower Resistance" (Self-Explanatory) and "Greater Malison" (lower save rolls) then you can kill pretty much anything except the Big Bad and The Undead with a single "Finger Of Death" spell.
      • Very few bosses are in fact totally immune (as opposed to having ludicrous magic resistance or good saves) to every kind of status effect or instant-death attack. The trick is almost always to use the right one. It got even more ludicrous in Throne of Bhaal: One of the bosses' magic resistance can only be breached by a level 8 spell, but he ALSO casts a spell which protects against that particular kind of magic, so you need to use a separate level 7 spell to breach that one...
    • Most boss fights in Baldurs Gate 2 and Throne of Bhaal are almost puzzle-like in nature, in that you need to figure out precisely what protections the boss is using, combined with innate abilities, in order to neutralize them. When you add the fact that many bosses have hidden immunities, that some of them bend or outright ignore the game rules, and that none of this is explained in the manual or anywhere in the game, it all adds up to a massive headache. In the end, it's usually easier to rely on the universal "dispel magic" spell (or even better, Inquisitor ability), summon creatures, and just whack everything with a big sword until it dies, rather than try to figure out the spell-counterspell tangle. Thankfully, in later games the whole system was somewhat simplified.
    • The second game also introduced Power Words which induce a status effect (sleep, silence, stun, or death, depending on the spell) in a single target. However, they're ineffective against targets with too many hit points, and in this case "too many" generally means "enough to be worth using a spell slot on it". The best use of most Power Word spells is in conjunction with Spell Trap and Project Image to refill a wizard's spell slots, although even that can be done faster with Wish.
    • Baldur's Gate and sequels use Vancian Magic: if you've got more Silence spells prepared than the enemy has Vocalize spells, you win. Of course, you've probably got better things to do with those spell slots, so...
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Daggerfall:
      • Becoming a Montalion bloodline vampire grants the Free Action spell, which removes paralysis from the caster. Vampires are by default immune to paralysis.
    • Morrowind:
      • Noise: 3-8% chance that an enemy spell fails, melee range, lasts 5 seconds. This is admittedly a low level spell, but all of the higher level ones have a very low minimum chance (2-60%??) and all of them last 5 seconds.
      • Blind: When cast on the Player Character, it darkens the screen by a percentage equal to the spell's power. when used on NPC enemies, it has no effect whatsoever.
      • Armor Eater: 10-30 points of durability damage to an equipped item. Given that each individual piece of armor has three figure durability and unique items often have thousands of it, and there are 9 armor pieces, good luck grinding away their items. It does have the minor use of, if turned combined with a non-hostile spell effect (healing, cure disease, etc.) into a custom spell, you can cast it on an NPC whose armor you want but who you can't or don't want to kill. Once the armor piece is completely broken, they'll unequip it, at which point you can attempt to pickpocket it.
      • Buoyancy: Swim 1% faster for 20 seconds. There's also a potion like it, which lasts 8 seconds. It does give you the spell effect for use in the spell maker, but Fortify Speed is twice as effective for the same magicka cost and also works on land.
      • Spite: Drain 5-20 points of Personality from the target. The only Personality stat that matters during conversation is your own, and casting it on your conversation partner counts as assault. The other Drain Attribute effects are equally dubious; it is neat that you can drain 5-20 points of Luck from the target and reduce their chance to hit by up to 2.5%, but you probably have better things to do with your time. And then there's a series of Damage Attribute spells that do the same thing but, permanently.
      • Resist Corprus Disease doesn't do anything because the only time this disease is inflicted on you is during a quest and this always succeeds. Also, Weakness to [any] Disease spells are useless because the player has no way to apply diseases to enemies.
      • Overlapping spells in general. You can slow enemies with Burden, Damage Strength, Damage Speed, Drain Strength, Drain Speed, Damage Fatigue, Drain Fatigue, Absorb Fatigue, Paralyze (or a 1 point Levitate due to a bug), or weaken their casting capabilities with Sound, Silence, Damage Intelligence, Damage Willpower, Damage Magicka, Drain Intelligence, Drain Willpower, Drain Magicka, Absorb Magicka; ...
    • Oblivion:
      • The spell/poison effect "Burden", which reduces the carrying capacity, potentially over-encumbering the victim, is only really useful for opponents to cast against the player, not the other way around, since the player is the only creature in the entire world who regularly (OK, always) carries enough stuff to almost max out their capacity. The player would have to inflict enormous amounts of the "Burden" effect on opponents to slow them down or stop them — and that only works on humanoid opponents who actually carry any equipment, unlike the numerous animals and monsters.
      • Until later in the game, the Chameleon spell is entirely worthless, because it lasts a short time for a high cost, and only makes you partially invisible. That is, until you infuse 5 pieces of armor with 20% Chameleon effect, making you 100% invisible, ALL THE TIME. It utterly destroys the enemy AI's response mechanics, allowing the player to hack down everything with impunity because nothing would even attempt to attack you.
      • Drain spells for the most part affect enemies in ways that they would never use anyway. Drain personality and drain luck, anybody? Yeah, that mudcrab isn't going to pass any persuade checks in the near future. On the other hand, Drain Health is a Disc-One Nuke at maximum potency, even with the minimum duration of 1 second. The victim gets their health back almost immediately unless it brought them down to zero, in which case Critical Existence Failure kicks in and the target stays dead. Drain strength/agility/speed are also useful.
    • Skyrim:
      • Dragonhide. This is one of two Master Alteration spells, requiring a quest that involves killing a dragon and retrieving an item. It is supposed to be the pinnacle of the line of alteration armor spells, and it delivers: it reduces physical damage taken by 80% and maxes out your armor rating. For 20 seconds (30 with the appropriate perk). Also, unlike every other armor spell in the game, its cast animation is not a quick 0.5 second one handed gesture but an elaborate 4 second ritual that takes up both hands and prevents you from moving. Any enemy deserving of 80% damage reduction is going to kill you before you can complete its casting.
      • The thu'um Elemental Fury ("Su Grah Dun") increases the speed of your weapon swings temporarily (i.e. you can attack more times in the same period). And it has no effect on enchanted weapons, which is the only kind most players will use. Compare with the Slow Time ("Tiid Klo Ul") shout, which works just fine with enchanted weapons and helps with evasion, as well. (Elemental Fury has a limited use with pickaxes though: use the shout, whale away at a mine, and get ore much, much faster.)
      • Most poison, magic, and enchanted gear special effects that do anything to enemies more interesting than inflicting damage have a short duration and a very low, hard level cap that makes them do absolutely nothing against any enemy theoretically worth more than a brief wailing upon.
  • Dogmeat, the player's canine companion in Fallout 3, is extremely death-prone at high-level play due to his low hit points. Since death is permanent in Fallout, Dogmeat therefore became of extremely marginal use. To counteract this, the Puppies! perk was added in a DLC expansion; this perk allowed Dogmeat to respawn (replaced by one of his puppies) any time he died. Trouble is, that same DLC expansion also made Dogmeat level with the player; thanks to his explosive Hit Point growth, Dogmeat became just about invincible, almost completely obviating the need to have him respawn. At best, you'd use the perk oncenote  and then never take advantage of it again.
    • The perk's real value is for its unintended effect. Whenever Dogmeat (or a puppy) dies, your companion allowance resets to let you recruit another. However, Dogmeat and his descendants are unique among companions in that you're always able to recruit him no matter how many followers you already have. Combined, the result was that one could kill Dogmeat, recruit a companion, recruit a puppy, kill the puppy, recruit another companion, and so on until you picked up all 8 of the potential companions when you normally were stuck with one plus Dogmeat.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has no shortage of these perks. In Shining Armor, according to the description, reduces the damage you take from energy weapons if you're wearing metal armour. In reality, it's glitched and does nothing at all due to the parameter that checks weapons skill types is set to "Energy" instead of "EnergyWeapons". Certified Tech says it gives you an extra 25% critical hit chance against robots, but it's also glitched and instead gives 0.25% chance... which is automatically rounded down to 0% and therefore has no benefitnote . The list goes on.
  • Fallout 4: Maxing out your Melee perk tree allows you to hit everyone in front of you at once. Which doesn't help because battles usually involve good guys helping your character out. Or at least guys you don't want to kill... at the moment. The only weapons that really benefit from this are weapons that swing in big slow arcs... so only the sledgehammer, Super Sledge, and the baseball bat and even then only the Super Sledge in the base game as the other two are quickly rendered useless. The sledgehammer and baseball bat can be upgraded to be the best weapons in-game but only if you shell out the cash for Nuka-World and then grid for the perk requirements to get the best upgrades.
    • The Syringer is a modified gun which shoots psychotropic drugs at people... except when the people you inject from afar just happen to be too strong and just shrug it off. And the Syringer ammo is rare and making more is difficult. Frustrating made more so when you realize it only benefits from Sniper 1 and 3 and nothing else so using it in stealth is pointless.
      • Its 9 different ammo types don't have it much better. The "Bleed Out" and "Radscorpion Venom" syringes do 30/40 points of damage over 10 seconds. "Berserk"note , "Bloatfly larva"note , "Lock Joint"note , "Pax"note , and "Yellow Belly"note  have a random chance to do their effects. As you can tell it's much easier to use a gun and muscle your way through targets instead of using expensive gimmicky ammo.
  • Nearly every Final Fantasy game has a few of these. There are some exceptions, of course — the Bio spell is occasionally the only way to deal steady damage to an opponent, and the final boss of Final Fantasy X practically requires Zombify (unless you took a short side trip to the Omega Ruins).
    • The Gravity/Demi spells in almost any Final Fantasy suffer from a similar, if not quite identical, problem. Gravity spells cannot traditionally kill your enemy — it deals a percentage of their current health as damage, usually in increments of 10% or 25%. Theoretically, this is very useful for bosses and strong enemies — however, both of these tend to be resistant or immune to gravity. When they're not, though, it's often quite effective. It was also one of the best spells in Kingdom Hearts since it could work on several enemies in close quarters and would pull them to the ground and immobilize them; in the sequel, however, it was removed and replaced with the Magnet spell, one with somewhat more obvious uses.
      • The Demi series, surprisingly, works against Emerald WEAPON. Since Emerald has, literally, a million hit points, you'll do 9,999 damage with it on nearly every turn, and when it starts inflicting less than 9,999 it means you're almost there. Of course, 9,999 is but a scratch to that boss, so better couple it with W-magic and Quadra Magic. And then mimic it.
      • Earth based magic and techniques tend to fall to the wayside due to a good amount of bosses and large enemies hovering above the ground, which makes all earth based attacks miss. On the plus side, a number of flying monsters (including some sub-bosses!) are weak to Gravity instead of immune to it, meaning a 50% damage spell will either hit the Cap or just end it outright.
      • Several monsters in Final Fantasy VII absorb gravity—using it on them restores a percentage of their HP instead! With the right combination of materia (Elemental paired with Gravity on your armor) and sufficient Level Grinding (you need 40,000 AP on an Elemental materia), you could do this to your party as well.
    • Instant kill spells are particularly prone to this. When you get the spell, you're too desperate for the MP to use it; but the readier you are to use it, the more likely the enemies are to be highly resistant. And naturally, bosses are immune. Occasionally a boss will be vulnerable to the insta-kill spells, just for variety. The classic example is Tiamat, Fiend of Air in Final Fantasy I, who can be killed instantly with BANE/Scourge or BRAK/Break (though it'll take you a few tries).
      • Averted with Level 5 Death from Final Fantasy V. This one bypasses normal death immunity, so even bosses with a level divisible by 5 can be affected. And with Dark Spark, you can halve the Boss's level which, after rounding down, might make it divisible by 5.
      • Indeed, all the "Level X" spells (Level 2 Old, Level 3 Flare, Level 4 Graviga) were designed to be this trope. They're incredibly powerful spells, but they only work on enemies with levels divisible by their number, and the vast majority of enemies at the point in the game that you obtain them have prime numbers for levels. However, use Dark Spark on the enemy beforehand, and simple rounding means that unless their halved level is also a prime number, they'll almost certainly become vulnerable to at least one of the above.
    • Reflect, in most of the series, is usually more trouble than they are worth. Most enemies that cast a spell that are either elemental and can absorb that element so you wind up healing them if the spell is bounced back or the spell they use is immune to being reflected. In some of the games, the computer says "screw it", and can use Piercing spells that ignore your Reflect status completely. Using Reflect also means more micro-managing, since beneficial magic like Cure and Esuna are also reflected, making you use items instead. Of course, you could always cast Reflect on the boss yourself and then bounce your heals off of it.
      • Reflect is at least situationally useful on a few Bonus Bosses in Final Fantasy IV. Eidolon Queen Asura continuously heals herself and counter attacks when damaged; while you can't stop the counters, casting Reflect on her is the only way to stop her from recovering all of the damage you deal to her. Also, Demon King Bahamut's Mega Flare has to be Reflected back at him to have any hope of beating him, as the attack is so strong that it's a Total Party Kill if you don't. Finally, Boss in Mook's Clothing Evil Mask casts Reflect on itself then your entire party to start the battle, forcing you to keep up with Reflecting spells to take it down quickly.
      • FFIX averts this heavily for reflect, at least, though: not only can Eiko/Garnet pierce reflect to heal, but Vivi can double his damage output by reflecting his spells off his allies into his enemies, allowing him to hit the damage cap with Flare the moment he learns Reflect x2.
      • Reflect is useful, if situational, in Final Fantasy VI. Notably in Kefka's Tower, many enemies have a permanent Reflect status. Since a spell can never be Reflected twice, it's easier to equip the entire party with Wall Rings (and Cure Rings to offset the inability to heal with spells) and bounce spells off the party to hit Reflected enemies than remember which ones have Reflect and hit them with barrier-piercing spells. This setup is also very useful in the Bonus Dungeon called the Mage's Tower, where your party can only use magic and nothing else, but the same is also true of the enemies. In that case, Reflecting every spell that comes your way is still more useful then gambling on healing your opponents.
      • In Final Fantasy VII, reflected spells can be reflected back, so they will ping pong back and forth until one Reflect wears off, so you can't get your heals through after all, so reflect is only useful for protection.
      • In Final Fantasy XII Reflect is absolutely necessary when dealing with some nasty enemies and Bosses. For example, once Zodiark, the ultimate Esper, Turns Red, he becomes completely immune to physical attacks. He also casts Reflect upon himself, and if you dispel it, he will follow by Magic Paling, rendering him immune to any attack. However, you can just cast Reflect on your party followed by Scathe for 1.5x as much damage.
    • On a similar note, the confusion status is rarely helpful since the confused enemy may attack itself, snapping itself out of confusion. For the Final Fantasy Tactics series, Immobilize is useful at the start, but it quickly loses usefulness when you encounter enemies that have ranged attacks or have abilities that can hit you no matter where you run to.
    • Final Fantasy I had more useless spells than any other game. AMUT (Vox in re-releases) reversed the effect of silence spells, except there is only one enemy in the entire game that uses it and your chances of ever seeing said enemy use it are slim. RUB, ZAP!, QUAK and XXXX (Death/Reaper, Warp, Quake and Kill in re-releases) were all useless instant death spells because by the time you could learn them... all enemies were invulnerable to it, except those that a White Mage could kill in a single punch. Even useful spells like HEAL, LIT2 FIR2 (Thundara and Fira) and others could be replicated by specific weapons and armors used as items during battles (Thor's Hammer for instance can cast LIT2).
      • Due to programming mistakes in the game, many spells actually did nothing...unless they were used on you, in which case they were absolutely devastating.
      • In a similar fashion, Steiner's Thunder Slash skill in IX is supposed to cause lightning damage to an enemy, but it would always fail because of a programming glitch that mixed up its success rate with Iai Strike. When you fight Beatrix (and later when she joins as a guest member), her version of the skill never fails because her skill isn't under the same programming like Steiner's. If Vivi is in the active roster with Steiner, you could get a similar effect to how Thunder Slash is supposed to work, without the screwed up success rate, by having Steiner use Thunder/Thundara/Thundaga Sword attack.
      • A notable exception was Kary/Maralith, who was actually quite vulnerable to several useless-useful status spells. Possibly the most hilarious way to deal with her was Confusing her into attacking herself for several rounds. So much for the Legendary Fiend of Fire.
    • Final Fantasy II requires spells to be ground up from Level 1, and a low-level spell is about as worthwhile as throwing a rock at enemies. Some spells simply never become worthwhile—debuffs are inaccurate and often resisted, Protect is worthless compared to Blink, and the Aura and Wall spells require extreme amounts of grinding in order to bestow their maximum benefits. Basuna is a glaring offender, as it only removes ailments that wear off after battle anyway and has to be at least Level 6 to potentially cure all temporary ailments. The Death spell is the only spell with the Death element, and as such is resisted by almost every enemy worth using it on (unlike the Game-Breaking Matter-element instant-death spells). And the Ultima spell grows stronger based on the level of the user's weapon skills and other spells, but even in the post-Famicom versions where this function actually works, the average player won't level up enough spells to make Ultima a particularly powerful attack.
    • Asura from Final Fantasy IV. Ask yourself, why on EARTH would you want to blow 50 MP for a summon that targets the whole party and casts, at random, Curaga, Raise, or Protect, when you could pick which one you wanted and cast a party-wide Curaga for 18 MP, a party-wide Protect for 9 MP, or Raise for 8 MP? It seems its only benefit is being able to cast a party-wide Raise, which makes it a desperate last move at absolute best since it only has a 33% chance of activating, since if you wanted to just heal the party with Rydia you are much better off casting Sylph for only 20 MP (or for free if you know of a certain Good Bad Bug) which always heals the party and inflicts damage on an enemy to boot.
    • Final Fantasy VII has the summon Materia of Kjata. On paper, it sounds fantastic: it's a summon which targets fire, ice, lightning, and earth elements all at once, meaning it's inevitably going to hit a weakness. There's only one problem... Due to how damage calculation is handled in VII, absorption or immunity overrides weaknesses, and you'd be surprised just how many enemies absorb or block at least one of those elements, meaning that Kjata is going to ignore or heal your enemies nine times out of ten.
    • Final Fantasy VIII has an option that lets one circumvent this to some degree: junctioning. Casting the spell is about as useless as usual, not to mention it depletes your stock of stored spells, but you can junction a status spell to your attack, giving your physical strikes its effect. If it worked, great, but if not, at least you didn't waste a spell and a turn trying.
    • Kimahri picks up quite a few of these in Final Fantasy X if you find his Blue Mage-like ability to be interesting. For example, you can have him master the Stone Breath attack of an enemy...except that then we guarantee that whenever you use that particular Overdrive attack, the target will be immune to petrification. Even if it's a random encounter. That doesn't have petrify effects.
      • It and its sequel have a few status effects that work on almost anything, including anything that inflicts Eject and -strike skills on weapons, including Stonestrike, which could be acquired early and caused instant petrification and shattering if Stonestrike activated, which it did so at a surprisingly high rate for an OHKO skill.
      • FFX allows the creation of customized weapons, so you could create them with the status effect you wanted. If it didn't work, you'd still deal physical damage, though in that case you'd be better off with a legendary weapon with Break Damage Limit.
    • Any OHKO effect in Final Fantasy XII. They actually did have a good chance of success against most enemies, but you didn't get any XP or loot for enemies you defeated this way. Not useful when you're trying to grind out stuff to sell in town for more potions or weapons.
    • While Final Fantasy XIII averts most of the usual useless useful spells of the franchise, it still has one in the form of Quake. Quake is a technique, not a spell, so it runs off of Tech Points, which can only be recharged by doing well in battle, by using a particular accessory, or using a ludicrously rare Ethersol. You can have a maximum of five tech points, and Quake uses one. Yes, it hits everything on the field, but you're not going to waste a tech point on a rather weak spell when you could use it for offensive boons like Dispelga, Renew, or summoning your Eidolon.
      • It has one use: If you get a preemptive strike on a large group of enemies, Quake will instantly stagger everything on the field.
      • Quake's major benefit is the 26.67 seconds it adds to chain duration. Opening with Quake is an excellent way to enable simultaneous chain-building on multiple targets.
    • Final Fantasy XIII-2 has the Wound spell. Wounding reduces the max HP of the victim. On your characters, getting severely wounded was a grave concern, and a serious impetus to finish battles against enemies capable of Wounding quickly. Since enemies tend to have high HP and don't usually heal much, it's much less useful in player hands unless you have a monster with the Bloodthirsty ability.
      • The Jungle Law passive ability certain monsters have. It increases the strength and magic of the monster against enemies with less HP than they have, but decreases it against enemies with more HP. This is a game where your average mook has five digit HP, and since only a handful of monsters break five digits, it generally reduces them to infusion fodder or permanent benchwarmers.
    • In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII the various debuff spells are usually pretty useful since many enemies are not immune and most of the rest can have their resistances removed by staggering them. However, just about every spell and ability in the game has a useless multi-target variant. These are harder to acquire and more expensive to cast but most of the game's challenges come from bosses and tough individual monsters on whom area of effect attacks are wasted. Encounters with more than two enemies at a time are rare and anything that does attack in a pack tends to be pathetically weak anyway.
    • Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles has the Curaga spell, which heals players in a wide radius. While the spell is quite helpful in multiplayer, you don't get access to the spell in single player until the Final Battle and even then, it's quite useless since you're only healing yourself and have no one else playing with you.
    • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time gives this status to Haste and Slow, which are fiddly to pull off - requiring stacking spell target rings in combat - and have a duration so short that you can miss your entire buffed period by blinking at the wrong time.
  • Granblue Fantasy: Aside from the gimmicky and situational spells that specific characters have, this trope is easily noticeable on three Arcarum summons. Whether they be in the summon's call effect, main aura, or sub aura:
    • Temperance's Call Effect casts a debuff on both the enemy and your team which prevents the affected unit from using charge attacks.
    • Death's Aura reduces your HP by 30%, and its call effect kills one of your party members in exchange for a massive triple attack boost to the other characters. This could be useful if you were able to choose who dies, but you can't. It was since buffed to always kill the fourth party member and found a niche in allowing Oracles (who gain a buff if they join the frontlines by an ally's death) a free pass to cause havoc. While the aura is still bad, it's always been best as a sub summon for its sub aura anyway.
    • Justice's Call Effect forces your individual members' HP equal to the average HP of the team, either by healing or damaging them. It may be very beneficial on Stamina or Enmity grids for keeping your entire party alive, or for helping characters who don't have Stamina/Enmity boosting skills. But for other grids and weapons not utilizing these two mechanics, a self-damaging ability can put your team in a bad position.
  • Knights of the Old Republic:
    • Jedi Sentinels, and Canderous Ordo, have passive abilities that grant them immunity from Mind Rape force attacks. The thing is, you can count on one hand the number of enemies that actually use these attacks...
    • Jedi in your party have access to two abilities that remove force power buffs (absorbing damage, attacking faster etc) from enemies. Well, most of those buffs are Light Side powers, while you only ever fight Dark Sided force users, who rarely use the neutral buff powers either. The only enemy that reliably buffs himself is the final boss, who uses force immunity on himself.
  • Might and Magic VI is a weird mix of aversion and using this trope. For one, most mind spells are useless against almost all tough enemies, which is where you would want to use them. There is a spell called Finger of Death which instantly kills a foe but has small rate of success (however your foes have much higher rates than you) and it's completely ineffective against tougher foes; plus you don't have access to it early on. On the other hand, there is a percentage damage spell which is extremely effective against powerful enemies (mass distortion) and other feels-like-cheating spells join the chorus as well, such as Fly, Town Portal and Lloyd's Beacon (instant teleport, by placing gates wherever the hell you want). And again, on the other side of table, you have spirit magic, a whole school of magic, which becomes completely redundant when you acquire light and dark magic, save for the life sharing spell, because there are three spells in these scholols which cast all of the protective and boosting spirit ones, at a much higher level (they also send a fair amount of the other schools to the trash). There are also spells like fear, petrify, paralyze, etc, which only work on very low-level foes, making them redundant (by the time you acquire them). There's a resurrection spell on spirit magic, but after you become master of water it becomes redundant, since you can town portal to a temple and have them resurrect you.
  • Icewind Dale
    • The first game had Contact Other Plane, added in the Heart of Winter expansion. The only thing this spell was actually useful for was finding out the true name of a demon so that you could get the best version of the suit of armor he can give you. Other than that, it can be cast in different locations around the game to provide you with some trivial knowledge or otherwise fail to do anything beside waste a 5th level spell slot.
    • The second game turned all elemental damage protection spells into this, as they went from granting percentage-based resistances (like between 50-100% of damage of that type) to numeric resistance that could, at *best* block a measly 7 points of damage, an amount that was barely noticeable most of the time.
  • Phantasy Star:
    • In Phantasy Star II, most status-inducing techniques tend to be useless unless they induced paralysis, and even those had low success rates. Shinb, a technique learned by Hugh and replicated by using the Green Sleeves in battle, is bugged and doesn't do anything.
    • Virtually every technique outside of Gires and the Melee set is fairly useless in Phantasy Star III thanks to the Equivalent Exchange used with them.
    • Phantasy Star IV finally mitagated the usefulness of techs by only having useful ones and leaning towards having them target everyone available when affecting status, but Hahn learns Gelun and Doran which probably won't see much practical use.

      • Gelun can come in handy in the early game, particularly in the cellar of Tonoe, where enemies hit like trucks. Turns a severely dangerous group of mobs into a bunch of easy targets who hit for single digit damage. Tends to fall by the wayside once Deban becomes available though, as buffing your party's defense is a better (and more reliable) option than weakening enemies.
  • The Shin Megami Tensei series usually averts this, as ailments and even instant-kill spells can become vital in turning deadly random encounters into cakewalks. Some bosses and minibosses can even be afflicted with ailments (if you're incredibly lucky) to turn the tide of battle in your favour. However, it does end up playing this trope straight from time to time.
    • In many installments, Non-Elemental spells fall into this category as well. On top of high mana costs, the battle systems of most installments heavily emphasize taking advantage of elemental weaknesses for tactical reasons beyond simply dealing extra damage. It doesn't help that similar-level physical attack skills approximately keep pace damage-wise, and are fueled by health, which is often a more readily renewable resource than mana, and has a bonus in scoring extra turns with a Critical Hit. From a magic standpoint, the individual elements can also be enhanced by Boost and Amp passives which allow them to do more damage than almighty spells when it comes to neutral hits.
      • This gets averted in the Devil Survivor games, where it's more likely for one to encounter enemies sporting multiple resistances and/or immunities, and attacking into even a resistance can impose a turn penalty. It's not unusual to encounter a boss that resists all magic, leaving Almighty skills as the remaining viable attacking option for a magic-oriented combatant.
    • Zig-Zagged with the Hama and Mudo series of spells, which are One-Hit Kill skills subject to the Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors rules like the rest of the attacking elements. While they can give the player an out against Demonic Spiders that are resistant to everything else, Contractual Boss Immunity makes them outright useless in boss fights.
      • This is most visible in Persona 3 and 4, where your other party members have elemental specializations. Those who specialize in Hama or Mudo are looked down on because a boss fight will nullify about half their skill set. While Ken and Koromaru have alternative support spells and attacking options to fall back on in those cases, Naoto has to fall back on her expensive Almighty skills or medium-strength physical skills, and her Strength, Magic, and SP pool are not as good as the usual damage specialists.
      • In Persona 5, Hama and Mudo have even less utility compared to previous games, as there is now an entire line of light and dark attacks that still exploit enemy weaknesses, deal actual damage (so they work in Boss Battles), and have a near 100% hit rate (instead of 70-80% tops). Even when a weakness to Bless or Curse will greatly increase the accuracy of Hama or Mudo, those skills are also a fair bit more expensive than the standard damaging spell lines, chewing through the player's SP faster. The same applies to Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth, since not only does it have the Kou- and Ei- lines, but landing instant kills with Hama and Mudo doesn't trigger an All-Out Attack.
      • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey has Horn of Fate, which casts either Mahamaon or Mamudoon, so in exchange for compressing both skills into one slot, you have a 50-50 chance of not hitting with the element you want. Also, there's a 10% chance of it accidentally affecting your team — a self-inflicted Total Party Kill is most unpleasant, even if the caster is largely resistant to it.
  • Persona series:
    • While buffs and debuffs are vital spells for defeating bosses in most Megami Tensei games (Matador from Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne is notorious for being nearly impossible without hit/evade spells), the Persona series from 3 onwards classify them into single-target and multi-target. They retain their usefulness, but single-target buffs are most problematic as all buffs and debuffs wear off after 3 turns and are non-stackable. This means that if you want to buff the whole party using a single-target buff, by the time you've buffed the fourth party member, the first member's buffs are wearing off, turning the buff caster into dead weight as they can't capitalize on the buff. Single-target debuffs, on the other hand, are still valuable as most bosses are fought alone, but multi-target debuffs get saddled with a degree of uselessness due to their increased costs and the rarity of boss fights involving multiple targets.
    • Elemental "Wall" and "Break" skills place a temporary modification that grants resistance or neutralizes resistance to their element respectively. While it looks good on paper, either by covering a weakness or allowing a specialist to damage a Nigh Invulnerable enemy, the problem is how they consume a turn to execute, and that they wear off after 3 turns. "Wall" skills are very quickly obsoleted when the player accesses Resist passives, which cover weaknesses without consuming turns. "Break" skills may see fringe use on other party members, but the great variety of skills available to the protagonist makes it more efficient to include a wider variety of attacking elements than to spend a turn cancelling resistances.
  • Persona 3
    • Power Charge and Mind Charge. Unlike every other Shin Megami Tensei game where these spells give a physical or magic skill a x2.5 boost in damage, they only give a x2 damage boost in every version of Persona 3, equaling the damage two unboosted uses of the skill would inflict. Two casts of a single target -dyne spell is also cheaper than spending the SP to use Mind Charge on it. The only reasonable use is to save on SP spent by boosting the costly Almighty skills, but if you're doing that, there are usually better alternatives for damage.
    • The Recarmdra spell. Its effect is great: revives and fully restores the HP of the entire party, and it's the only full-party revival spell in the game. The downside is it drops the caster's HP to 1. In many other SMT games it's great, but here only the protagonist can use it... and this game follows the We Cannot Go On Without You trope. If one of your other party members got it, it might have had some use, but risking an easy Game Over to fully heal your AI-controlled party members just isn't worth it.
    • Some fusion spells can fall into this category, mainly because they consume a percentage of the main character's SP (as opposed to a flat number), which will make them cost more than an equivalent skill. The most problematic are Summer Dream and Valhalla — the former is a Random Effect Spell which can sometimes result in no effect, while the latter grants an ally temporary invincibility but cuts their HP and SP to 1 afterwards, putting them at incredible danger.
    • When Fuuka's Persona evolves to Juno, the first thing it learns is Oracle, a Random Effect Spell with five different outcomes. Four of them are generally helpful, being HP and/or SP recovery or ailment removal. The fifth sets the entire party's HP and SP to 1, practically dooming them if it's rolled. On top of the risk of getting that deadly fifth effect, sometimes the other helpful outcomes may not be the best for the situation; it's generally more reliable to use healing skills or items of your own volition.
  • Persona 4:
    • Each character in the game except the main character has a particular skill specialization (fire, ice, physical attacks, etc), and Naoto has light/dark skills as a specialization, which is a massive problem as described above. At worst, this trope can make Naoto's character as a whole next to useless, and many players don't even bother to level Naoto up or use the character at all as a member of their permanent party.
      • This is also brought up in Persona 4: The Animation, during the boss fight with Shadow Naoto and Margaret.
      • Persona 4 Golden makes Naoto more useful with a handful of other elemental attacks; it also made enemies weak to Hama or Mudo get automatically hit by them, which actually makes the usually inaccurate spells more viable.
    • On a more specific note is Chie's Secret Art, Dragon Hustle. It increases all allies' attack, defence and hit/evade for three turns, meaning that it's effectively three buff spells in one. This would be incredibly useful if only someone other than Chie got it, because it costs 150 SP. This can easily be over half her SP pool even in the endgame, because she focuses on physical attacks which are Cast From HP. To make matters worse, Chie also gets Power Charge, which is a 2.5x boost to her next physical attack, so you probably want to save her SP for that. Unless you're willing to throw a lot of SP-healing items at her (which you probably aren't because those can't be bought), you're going to be using this spell extremely sparingly.
    • Other unique skills granted by the party's ultimate Personas in Golden can fall under this trope. Teddie's Kamui Miracle is very similar to Oracle from 3, and even though it lacks the disastrous HP to 1 effect, it's still a Random Effect Spell that may harm you or heal the enemy. Kanji's The Man's Way can easily set up an All-Out Attack for extinguishing random encounters, but is nigh-useless in boss fights and has a poor success rate anyway.
  • Persona 5
    • The game introduces a few skills that work well when the party's being ambushed, like attacks that grow stronger in that situation. However, being ambushed is the worst situation for a player to be in, and the stealth mechanics while dungeon crawling make that situation very easy to avoid. Naturally, these skills are also less useful in boss battles where ambushes are nonexistent (barring a midboss and a Bonus Boss). This hinders the utility of those skills, and the most useless of them all is Thermopylae — a buff skill that raises all 3 battle stats for the entire party but can only be used while being ambushed. What's worse is that some enemies possess said skills, and because the player is doing the ambushing most of the time, those enemies can make full use of them to make life difficult for the player.
    • Divine Judgment and Demonic Decree are skills that halve an enemy's remaining HP, and are Bless and Curse-based respectively. Naturally, they will fail to work on bosses, regardless of their Bless or Curse resistance, while normal enemies that are vulnerable to those skills can be killed more efficiently through a normal beatdown. The trope gets zigzagged, however, when you're not the one using those skills. Some bosses will use those skills on you, and if they get reflected, those skills actually work, reducing their HP and shortening the fight.
  • Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth:
    • Oddly enough, the straight examples in this game are some of the highest tier elemental damaging spells. Specifically, Ragnarok, Thunder Reign and Phanta Rei. While these spells would normally be very useful, they happen to be exclusive to Surt, Thor and Odin respectively, all of whom are primarily physical Personas that don't boost SP much, so equipping them to spellcasters is a waste. In earlier games these skills could be passed down to more suitable Personas, but not here, leaving them ironically a waste of a skill slot for their respective Personas.
    • When the Personas of the party evolve, they learn a fourth skill that goes into their empty slot. Some are incredible, like the protagonists' Heat Riser and Debilitate, or Yukari's and Yukiko's elemental amp skills, but others are... not well-optimized. Bad eggs include Mitsuru's Punisher skill, which sounds like more of a joke than anything as it utilizes her weaker Strength stat and breaks binds for more damage, Naoto's Powerhouse passive, which only interacts with her expensive Megidolaon skill, and Yosuke's Death Needle, which has an instant-kill effect that interacts very poorly with his low Luck stat.
    • Summon Ghost and Summon Demon are strong almighty spells that can only be used while a Circle is active. These require a lot of setup and skill slots — you first need a Circle to establish, and you likely want a passive that improves the success rate of its bind/ailment. In-battle, due to Circles lasting 3 turns, you would be spamming the Almighty skill as much as possible right after the Circle is set. Doing so will burn through your SP bar incredibly quickly, and it proves to be inefficient in a game where your SP capacity is quite small.
    • The elemental "Wall" skills now raise the resistance of the party to one element. However, because you have a large playable cast at your fingertips, it's usually a better idea to deploy characters that don't have the weaknesses you need to cover. Sub-Personas also only have six skill slots, which raises the opportunity cost of using a Wall skill over anything else.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey:
    • Within the game is a series of spells that hit all enemies for "heavy" damage and have a chance to inflict status ailments—a Ma-dyne spell and a all-targeting status spell rolled up into one, if you will. However, the status doesn't always connect, each spell costs 65 MP (enough to cast Megidolaon), and worst of all, the damage output ranges from on par with Ma-dyne spells at best to no better than first-tier spells at worst.
    • From the same game, Tetrakarn and Makarakarn. Both spells grant each of the caster's party members a shield that reflects physical attacks (Tetrakarn) or magic attacks falling under the four main attack elementsnote  (Makarakarn). However, the shield not only dissipates upon reflecting an attack, it also does so at the end of the current turn, which means if the caster doesn't move before their enemies do, they'll most likely waste their MP, and -karn spells aren't cheap—they each cost 45 MP to cast! This has been rectified a bit in Strange Journey Redux which gives a speed bonus to any combatant using that skill.
    • Among the almighty spells in this game are three spells named Judgment, Holy Wrath, and Sea of Chaos, which do more damage to targets of certain alignments, but also hit your allies and the caster. In a game where random encounters can hit fairly hard, friendly fire is the least welcome element, and thus these three skills fall hard into this trope.
    • Laplace Curse is a passive that applies a free Debilitate to all enemies that you've fully analyzed at the start of battle. However, if you've fully analyzed an enemy, chances are you've already fought and defeated it enough times that you don't need the free Debilitate to beat it. (Yes, this includes the Fiends.) This skill also won't work on bosses as you don't get any analysis level on them, even if you've already fully analyzed their playable versions.
    • Lost Word is a Random Effect Spell that can heal, buff, or debuff either all enemies or all allies. While it costs about half as much as its equivalent skills (20MP compared to 35MP for Mediarahan or 50MP for Luster Candy or Debilitate), it's much more efficient to use the skills that don't have a chance of giving a boon to the enemy.
  • Devil Survivor and its sequel suffer from this, despite being Shin Megami Tensei games.
    • Normal enemies die too quickly for status ailments to be useful, the only exception being the Stone effect which petrifies enemies and makes physical damage a potential one-hit KO, and bosses (and even some late-game enemies) are almost always immune to them. Buffs and instant kill abilities just don't exist or take too much time to set up.
      • The Curse (Mystic in base Devil Survivor) element, being tied to ailment skills, takes the brunt of this trope as Contractual Boss Immunity dictates that a lot of important enemies are immune to Curse. There are a few damage skills attributed to Curse, but because they are Percent Damage Attacks they are not very good for killing things with. Finally, Curse skills require the assistance of other skills to be very useful — while some Game-Breaker combos involving Curse skills exist for eliminating enemy mobs, they take up a fair number of your limited skill slots to be effective, while you could more or less do similar work with a damaging skill and maybe a supporting passive.
    • The Race-O and Race-D passives grant attack and defense bonuses against enemies with the same race. Given the wide variety of enemies you'll face, it's very difficult to justify dedicating a passive slot to either of these skills, unless specializing your team against a particular boss. Even then, there's a good chance a major boss will have a race that's not present on any of your playable characters or demon, making that passive slot a wasted one.
    • Strengthen is an Auto skill that turns all attacks to your team's weaknesses into neutral hits, denying the bonus damage or extra turns. By the time you get it, though, you can easily start using resistance passives to cover weaknesses, and the few demons with plenty of weaknesses to justify the use of Strengthen are often just never deployed anyway.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines has the Dementation discipline "Vision of Death" and the Dominate disciplines "Suicide" and "Mass Suicide", all of which kill human and lesser Sabbat mooks instantaneously. They do not, however, have the same effect on tougher foes, although they can do a lot of damage to them.
    • Although one boss-level opponent (Chastity, a Slayer type, can be one-shotted with Vision of Death, if you catch her before she's braced for combat (and a Malkavian can). If you're not putting points towards guns, don't have Bedlam yet, and are still feeling violent, there are also ambushes where it's a solid alternative to trying for stealth kills.
  • The first Phantasy Star game had another almost certainly unintentional exception. There was a ROPE spell that would paralyze a monster, and a medusa boss that required a mirrored shield to defeat. If you successfully used the ROPE spell on the boss, the paralyzed medusa would not be able to turn anyone to stone and could be killed without the item.
    • However, Phantasy Star IV directly averts this. There are a number of instant death spells, most of which with a high enough success rate to be worth using against many enemies, including some that give lots of experience and are otherwise difficult. (Still worthless against bosses, though.)
      • The fact that most of these spells didn't use MP but instead had their own limited use count also meant that you're not losing anything but a battle turn when the spells fail. Weapons with an added instant-death effect also didn't have a significantly lower regular attack power like in most other RPGs. Nice.
  • Most ether effects in the first two Xenosaga games were virtually useless, with the notable exception of spells to change a character's attack element that were available in Episode 2. Episode 3 largely.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, directional attacks are generally discouraged. Unlike the previous two games, you can't use auto attacks when moving, and your movement in battle is slowed to a crawl. It's difficult to make the most out of arts such as Sword Bash when you have to go out of your way to move to the enemy's backside, all the while making your connection with your blade, a tag-team partner for the driver you control, weaker.
  • Golden Sun on any number of counts. That Infinity +1 Sword you picked up? You'll only be using it on Mooks you could easily kill anyway. Likewise, Bosses are functionally immune to most status effects, so the one case in which it would be worth your time to try for some strategy, it simply won't work. And in GS2, by the time you pick up the best Summon Magic in the game, there is exactly one creature left worth using it on, and the cost of doing so is very high; depending on your class setup, it can cost you your best healing for several rounds.
    • However, this is often averted in at least the first game, as bosses can be afflicted with various useful status effects (Like Sleep which, as you might guess, makes the target completely inactive for several rounds) reasonably often, sometimes even multiple times per fight. Sadly the same cannot be said for the summons of the second game, as mentioned above.
      • The first game's Tempest Lizard, especially. An optional boss that could be fought repeatedly, gives out loads of EXP, always dropped a potion when it was beaten, and could easily be effected by the Curse Psyenergy, which would make it go down after attacking a certain number of times? And it attacks twice per turn, speeding it up that much? Sign me up!
    • Heck, nearly all of the Psynergy you learn in all three of the games quickly get outclassed by the more exotic weapons with fancy unleash abilities. Aside from using the fancy and strong weapons to deal damage faster, it is usually faster to attack one enemy at a time instead of trying to hit all enemies at once every time and waste PP with Psynergy doing so. Most of the time, the only Psynergy you will use are healing/revive types, Psynergy that boosts your stats, or Psynergy that factors in your weapon strength, such as Ragnarok and Plume Edge.
    • And in a less combat-oriented sense, Insight Psynergy in Dark Dawn. In theory, it's supposed to be an at-will hint-dropper for the game's myriad puzzles. In practice, all it does is make you want to yell at Amiti, with relatively minor exceptions (Djinn in hard-to-reach places sometimes have to be knocked down with Fireball or Slap, and the goat puzzle can be solved by using Insight to map out a path for each goat).
  • In Sailor Moon: Another Story, using a Holy Grail to transform Moon or Chibimoon to their Super states gave them increased attack powers. It also took away their healing powers and kept them from using Team attacks with the other Senshi (besides one team attack with each other). Not to mention the attack boost didn't put them that much above Saturn or Uranus (The game's designated tanks)
  • Etrian Odyssey manages to mostly avoid this trope (see Aversions), but can still display this trope from time to time.
    • The Beast class suffers from a severe case of this trope with their Loyalty skill, which makes a Beast take a blow for any other available party member. The problem? Loyalty makes Beasts take damage depending on the Defense stat of the character they're defending, as opposed to their own Defense (so if your Beast is defending, say, an Alchemist, they'll take more damage than if they were blocking a Protector from the same attack). The most damning thing is that Loyalty is a passive, causing the Beast to uncontrollably take damage defending party members that don't need it, and putting points into it raises the chance of this happening. This ends up damaging the Beast class as a whole, as some of the Beast skills require mastery of Loyalty to some degree.
    • The Dark Hunters can learn a skill named Climax, which can instantly kill any enemy on low health. If an enemy is at low health, you can just kill it the conventional way, and bosses with mountains of health are immune to instant kills. FOEs, though, have both the health counts to warrant its use and aren't outright immune to instant kills. On the other hand, this last point is what turns Climax into a Game-Breaker in the second game, as it always instantly kills an enemy and, as a result, dramatically shortens an FOE fight.
    • War Magi of the second game have various sword skills that have effects on their target, provided that the target is afflicted with a specific ailment. So not only are they very situational, they also demand the use of other ailment-inflicting classes to make the most out of these skills.
    • Several other skills can fall into this, usually because of their base class lacking the stats to take full advantage of them. For instance, the Ronin's poor Luck is not going to help with the One-Hit Kill factor of Beheading Cut, and there's very little reason investing in the Alchemists' Pain Formula series when it requires you to put your Squishy Wizard in the front line. This shows up more often in the Untold games where the player is encouraged to create Grimoire stones in order to pass those skills to classes which can make better use of them.
    • The least useful buffs in the series are accuracy and critical rate buffs. The former is because a lot of attacking options have reasonable accuracy and won't benefit greatly from that skill, and eventually the player will start accessing ailments and binds that outright prevent dodging and obsolete the buff. The latter is because only normal attacks benefit from a critical chance, and though some classes have skills to allow their skills to land critical hits, they will also have a few other skills of their own to passively raise critical rate and minimize the need for a critical rate buff.
      • Buffs that only reduce damage against specifically physical or elemental attacks often get glossed over in favour of more all-purpose defensive buffs due to the wide variety of attacks the player expects to face.
    • Owl-Eye and similar skills like Sight Formula, which are designed to reveal nearby FOEs, become this in the Untold games, due to the reworked mapping system having a sight range that lets you see nearby, actively moving FOEs even in uncharted areas, leaving their only use in discovering invisible FO Es which are easily tracked on return trips. Later games expand on the use of similar skills to be able to reveal additional elements like shortcuts and treasure chests to avert this trope.
    • After the first three games having skills and combos to make TP sustainability a breeze, subsequent games nerfed the potency of TP replenishment skills, making them a mixture of too expensive, too weak, and/or too situational to warrant the skill point investment.
    • The "curse" status effect, which makes the afflicted take damage equal to half of what they deal, works identically on enemies and player characters, but Health/Damage Asymmetry makes it far more dangerous to you—a party member may instantly cause their own death with just a single moderately powerful attack, whereas mooks rarely will and bosses can cause a one-turn party wipe without even losing one tenth of their health. While you do need to kill some enemies this way to get certain items, Curse remains inferior to basically every other status effects you can use.
  • Nash's status-inflicting spells from Lunar: The Silver Star and it's remakes work so infrequently that they're never worth spending your limited supply of MP on. You're always better off using his godlike Speed Stat for more practical purposes, like healing a teammate with an item, using a wand or casting one of his attack spells (which are all useful throughout the game).
  • Nondamaging spells in Breath of Fire II are especially guilty of this, for all three of the listed reasons, but especially the third one. The one that was supposed to lower agility doesn't work on anything.
  • Skies of Arcadia plays this straight with the silver-magic "Instant Death" spells. Bosses use these (with such high levels of success) so often that you must use Aika's magic-nullifying Delta Shield every single turn... which renders all your other spells useless! You're better off just using items, since they can replicate magic effects, cost no SP to use, bypass the Delta Shield and are piss-easy to acquire.
    • The reason that the instant death spells have such high levels of success is because they were built that way. Eternum has a 100% chance of instant killing anything not totally immune to instant death, and does a pretty decent amount of damage to anything that is. While this may sound like an aversion, it also costs a fairly large amount of SP.
  • The online RPG Murkon's Refuge has many high-level spells that attempt to paralyze, silence, or even instantly kill entire monster groups. Naturally, the highest dungeon levels are rife with monsters immune to these spells, especially the undead and the ones capable of paralyzing your front-row characters in a single hit. In a semi-subversion, you can actually retrain your characters into Assassins who can deliver similar instant-paralysis hits (without having to use MP!) and even instant-death critical hits (at least on the non-immune monsters). Plus, you can make your own characters immune to paralysis if you boost their armor class enough.
  • In Legend of Legaia, one of the Seru whose powers you can absorb is Nighto, and when used by one of your characters, has the power to either confuse or kill a single enemy. Sounds pretty good, right? Well...the chances of confusion actually working are fairly low (compounded by the fact that confusion, although doing exactly what one would expect in that it causes monsters to attack fellow monsters, tends to last only one turn on stronger beasts, much like other status changes in this game), and the chances of actually killing an opponent are almost nil. But, there's one glorious exception, and that's the very difficult mid-game boss Berserker, where Nighto's chances of instantly killing Berserker are actually quite good.
    • Legaia's fairly bad about this, actually — the majority of your Seru (essentially your magic spells and main means of dealing out huge damage to bosses) will reduce enemy stats or have other such effects at higher levels... but typically kill normal enemies in one hit, and of course bosses are immune to these effects. And even if someone does bother to fight normal enemies, magic doesn't regenerate and boss fights are generally wars of attrition that involve healing spells every turn... hope you stored a lot of mana poti- I mean mana leaves.
  • Valkyrie Profile 2 often had useful status effects against bosses 0- paralysis, Frailty (which stopped enemies from healing themselves) and some are even susceptible to Stone.
    • The same happens in other Valkyrie Profile games. In the first, Might Reinforce and Sap Guard are two of the best spells in the game. There are very few spells that afflict just status, but they are capable of damaging so they are not entirely worthless. And in Covenant Of The Plume, moves such as Suspend Motion are very useful (just not on bosses), and it's possible to Sap Guard or Sap Power the bosses.
  • Played straight and subverted in Endless Frontier both cases, the snipe effect is very good in keeping mooks from attacking you while you gang up on another grunt yet it is totally worthless against bosses. In a game where even with high level equips your foes can finish you in two hits if the CPU felt like it.
  • The learnable technique Influence in Breath of Fire III is generally useless. It's meant to order anyone influencable in the battle to attack a specified target every turn until they die. Of course, very few monsters listen to this, other than a handful of goblins. Use it when you send a specific one of your own characters into an increasingly berserk Weretiger form, however...
    • Another example is the Resist spell, which makes the caster immune to damage at the expense of his or her own turn. Useless in its own right, but it finds a purpose with the chain formation when your fastest (and defensively weakest) character is leading the team and taking most of the damage.
  • Most status effect skills in Mass Effect 2 fall into this trope at higher difficulty levels. This is due to everyone (players and enemies) being immune to them if they have shields/barrier/armor remaining. On higher difficulty levels, every enemy outside the tutorial segment in the beginning has at least one of these. By the time you get through these defenses, killing your target only takes a couple more shots. Thane's loyalty skill, Shredder Ammo, was particularly useless. It gave huge bonuses to damage, but only against the health of living enemies. Incendiary Ammo or Garrus's Armor Piercing ammo gave nearly as good of bonuses to damage, and worked on non-living targets and armor, to boot. On high difficulty levels it couldn't affect most enemies until they were almost dead, and on low difficulty levels the damage bonus wasn't necessary.
    • Though, it is worth mentioning that on lower difficulty levels, skills like Dominate and Hacking, which are nearly useless in the higher difficulty levels are basically Game Breakers.
  • In Baten Kaitos Origins, you can get a variety of artifact magnus that do things such as ward damage off, display enemy health, or slow the opposing party down. However, most of those are too limited to be of any real use, and given how the battle system in this game works, it's much smarter to just pack weapons and armor.
  • Chrono Cross features 'sealing' elements, which shut off elements of a specific color. This will seem ridiculously useful, until you realize that these are only worth using against bosses, which are usually completely immune to sealing. Even more so for SealAll, which shuts off all elements on the battlefield; however, using it in a boss fight tends to result in it missing the boss but leaving your party sealed. There's a boss battle that exploits it's immunity with SealAll and can get you offguard if you're not using an accessory that gives you immunity to an specific element color seal (hopefully White so you can then heal the others with Purify or Panacea).
  • Pokémon:
    • The typical case of Standard Status Effects being useless is averted for the most part, since Contractual Boss Immunity is absent and various status effects are all helpful in the competitive battling realm, either for whittling that one opponent that just won't go down (burn, poison, confusion, Leech Seed) or just getting in that extra hit before your opponent does (sleep, freeze, paralysis, confusion, infatuation).
    • Certain moves and abilities can, however, become this, depending on if they are given to a Pokémon that can't make good use of it. In other words, moves and abilities that will be very useful to one Pokémon may be a very poor match for another Pokémon that has them.
      • Electrode can learn Gyro Ball by leveling up, which makes sense, as it is known as the Ball Pokémon. However, Gyro Ball is a physical move that does more damage the slower the user is compared to its opponent. Electrode is one of the fastest Pokémon in the game and its Attack is terrible, making it the exact wrong kind of Pokémon to learn it.
      • Weavile's hidden ability Pickpocket steals held items from opponents who use moves that make direct contact. However, Weavile's Defense is low, so it would probably faint from that physical move before getting a chance to make any real use of that ability. Also, its regular ability, Pressure, forces the opponent to use two PP for every move instead of one, but Weavile's main role is to take out opponents as fast as possible with its incredibly high Attack and Speed, while its Defense is fairly low, so it doesn't usually have much use for that ability in single and rotation battles either. In double and triple battles, however, Weavile can potentially have a partner that can significantly extend its longevity, making the ability far more effective.
      • Cryogonal is capable of learning Attract, which afflicts opponents of the opposite gender with Infatuation. However, since Cryogonal is a genderless species, it can't affect any targets.
      • For Dark-types in general, Dark-type moves were this in Gen II and III. Back then, all Dark-type moves were special, but most Dark-type Pokémon had better Attack than Special Attack, meaning they couldn't properly take advantage of their STAB moves. This problem was resolved in Gen IV, thanks to the physical-special split, which actually made most Dark-type moves physical ones.
      • Skitty and Delcatty can have the ability Normalize, which turns all of their moves into Normal-type ones. While this means they get STAB on everything, it also means they can't hit anything for super-effective damage and they are completely useless against Ghost Pokémon and also easily walled by Rock and Steel Pokémon.
      • Petal Blizzard is one of the strongest physical Grass-type moves in the series, and is able to hit every Pokémon adjacent to the user. Unfortunately, every Pokémon that learns the move is built towards Special Attack (Lurantis being a notable exception, however) and only a few of the said group have a respectable Attack stat.
      • During Gen V, Genesect's Secret Art Techno Blast was largely useless since Flamethrower, Ice Beam and Thunderbolt were more powerful, had more PP, could easily be replaced on the field thanks to infinite TMs and didn't require Genesect to hold an item to use a Fire/Ice/Electric attack. Genesect couldn't even get STAB for it (the Water type was the "best" type, since Genesect couldn't learn any Water attacks, aside from potentially Hidden Power). Gen VI buffed its power to 120, making it an always accurate Hydro Pump/Blizzard/Thunder/Fire Blast, but using the different types still takes up Genesect's valuable item slot with an otherwise useless item.
      • The move Final Gambit sacrifices all of the user's remaining health to do that exact amount of damage to the target. While most of the species that can learn it aren't exactly known for high HP stats, one potential user takes the cake: Shedinja, which can only ever have 1 HP. This move was likely put in its moveset as a self-aware joke.
      • When Pokémon Platinum came out, it introduced five new forms for Rotom. At the time, they all kept the main form's Electric/Ghost type combination and its Ability, Levitate, which grants immunity to Ground-type moves. When Pokémon Black and White rolled around, the alternate forms got their type combinations altered to something more fitting, but they all kept Levitate, since the Ground immunity was still very useful for the Electric type they also kept. Unfortunately, Fan Rotom got changed to Electric/Flying, which naturally carried an immunity to Ground moves, making Levitate completely redundant. Pokémon X and Y did make it marginally more useful for the new Inverse Battles, where type matchups are reversed, but said battles were exceedingly rare.
      • The ability Run Away allows guaranteed escape from wild battles... unless the opponent has an ability preventing escape or used a move that prevents it, the very situations it would be useful for.
      • Both Salandit and Salazzle are Poison/Fire and can have the "Corrosion" ability, which allows them to poison Poison- and Steel- typed pokemon (normally, both are immune to poisoning) with poison-inducing status moves. This is actually less awesome than it sounds since Corrosion still doesn't allow them to harm Steel-types with damaging Poison-type attacks, they're both Fragile Speedsters so a Gradual Grinder strategy isn't ideal for them, and Salazzle's Special Attack is high enough that she's better off using a powerful Fire typed special attack to melt most Steel-types not named Heatran in her way instead of badly poisoning them with Toxic.
      • Solid Rock reduces super-effective hits by 1/4, making it a useful Ability... if every Pokémon that knew it didn't have at least one 4x weakness to a common type and (excluding Camerupt) very poor Special Defense (meaning a Surf or Energy Ball will still KO it).
      • Synchronoise is very situational in most cases, since it's a psychic-type move that only can hit enemies that have the same type as the user. But for some reason Umbreon, a dark type is able to learn it, meaning the only enemies that could be hit by this spell are the ones that are already completely immune to psychic-type attacks. Most of the Pokemon that learn it by level-up are of the Psychic-type (chain breeding is a different story)... except Psychics take half damage from Psychic-type attacks.
      • The worst offenders of this trope, however, might have been Frillish and Jellicent's Hidden Ability: Damp. This ability prevents the use of moves Self-Destruct and Explosion in battle, which would be okay if it wasn't for the fact that Frillish and Jellicent are already immune to those moves thanks to their Ghost-type! Still, damp can save someone's allies in a double or triple battle. Stunfisk suffers a worse fate on Generation VI, when game mechanics change so all Electric-type Pokémon are immune to paralysis, making its Limber Ability useless, unless it for some reason changes its own type(which is just fine for explaing how a ground type lives in water but usually a waste of time for the player) or an enemy forcibly changes it's type(Stunfisk is a slow Stone Wall, so it's rare when an opponent would benefit enough from paralyzing it to go through the effort).
      • Water Pledge, Fire Pledge and Grass Pledge are special combo moves with unique effects when used together, and can only be learnt via. Move Tutor for the Water, Fire and Grass starters (and the Pan monkeys from Generation V). Unfortunately, roughly half of all possible users don't have a good enough Special Attack to dedicate a move slot to this, making its limited application potential even more limited instantly.
    • One-Hit KO moves are limited to 5PP, auto-fail against faster (Pokémon Red and Blue) or higher-leveled enemies, and their accuracy is an absolutely puny 30% plus your level difference from Pokémon Gold and Silver onward... Which means to even have a 50% chance of hitting the opponent with them, you need to be twenty levels above them, at which point regular attack moves are much better. The only way to get any mileage of such moves is by comboing them with ways to automatically hit. Only three Pokemon can do this, Smeargle (who can learn any move by it's unique attack Sketch), Poliwrath (only in Generation II, if taught Fissure in a Generation I game and traded over), and Articuno (the only one who can naturally learn both halves of this combo from Generation III onwards).
    • Other abilities can fall into this trope due to being designed to counter very specific skills or moves.
      • Unnerve is an ability that prevents the opposing Pokémon from eating berries. A lot of Pokémon with this ability also have alternatives that are much more useful — for instance, Compound Eyes on Galvantula, or Mold Breaker on Haxorus. It's also largely useless against NPC trainers or wild Pokémon which often aren't even carrying an item.
      • Sturdy is an ability that originally only protected against the aforementioned One-Hit KO moves. Because those moves already fall into this trope, this ability would, too. Generation V averted this trope by also allowing Sturdy to grant a Last Chance Hit Point, functioning like a very useful Focus Sash without consuming an item slot.
      • Oblivious started with protecting against infatuation, a status effect that had very specific triggers (opposite gender to the target) and is inflicted by only one move. It got buffed in Gen IV to also protect against Captivate, which is a debuff skill that also falls into this trope (see below), keeping the ability stuck here as well. Only in Gen VI did it break out of this trope, as it now protects against Taunt, a very popular move used to disrupt defensive movesets.
      • Magma Armor prevents freezing, but the problem is that the freeze ailment has been nerfed such that it cannot be reliably inflicted. On top of that, the Pokémon that have this Ability are Fire Pokémon which can immediately thaw themselves out by being commanded to use a fire move. The one saving grace is its application outside battle — it speeds up the rate at which eggs hatch.
      • Keen Eye protects the user against accuracy-reducing moves. Problem is, these moves are rarely seen outside the early game, rendering this Ability moot later on. In Gen VI onward, it also allows the Pokémon to ignore evasion boosts on its target, at least giving it a use against the occasional opponent who tries to spam evasion-raising skills.
      • Rivalry boosts damage against other Pokémon of the same gender, but reduces damage against Pokémon of a different gender. Not only is it difficult to exploit, it can be turned against its user based on a factor which most players gloss over. Not to mention most Pokémon with access to Rivalry also have much better alternative Abilities.
    • Mud Sport and Water Sport both reduce the power of Electric and Fire moves respectively. The problem is that most of Mud Sport's users are Ground types (which have an immunity to Electric already), and most of Water Sport's users are Water types (which already resist Fire). For a long time, those moves were near useless outside of double battles. Generation VI made them slightly more useful, by making them work even after the user switched out.
    • Bestow, which gives the enemy your item, but fails if the opponent has an item themselves. Given that competitive battles almost always require items, it never works. Not unless the opponent has used a move that removes their own item like fling or a perishable item like a consumable berry or type gem. Or if you use it in conjunction with an item removal move like thief or knockoff.
    • In the main Generation I games, Focus Energy was supposed to boost your critical hit rate, like it does in later generations. Instead, due to a bug, it divides your critical hit rate by 4, so choosing that move causes you to not only waste a turn but end up worse off than you were before. At least Splash doesn't actively sabotage you when you select it.
    • Also in Gen I, Roar and Whirlwind could only cause wild Pokémon battles to end early and had no effect in Trainer battles. Unless your current Pokémon was slower than the enemy, the Run command was a more worthwhile option. Later games redeemed the two moves by making them force out an enemy Trainer's Pokémon and drag out another at random, which can save the user from a bad matchup and screw with an opponent's strategy.
    • The move Frustration becomes more powerful the less the Pokémon likes its trainer. The problem is, most Pokémon start off with a fairly neutral friendship rating with the trainer and it's much easier to raise this stat than to lower it, to the point that even just walking around with a Pokémon will make it like you more, meaning you would essentially need to actively abuse your Pokémon for Frustration to be of any real use. The final nail in its coffin is its counterpart Return, which increases in damage with the Pokémon's friendship and is otherwise identical, to the point where any Pokémon that can learn one can also learn the other.
    • Imprison prevents opponents from using any moves that the user also knows until the user switches out or faints. This sounds great, until you realize that you have to give up a move slot for it, so unless your opponent also knows Imprison, you're only disabling at most three of their moves. Furthermore, depending on which Pokémon you and your opponent are using, the chances of having any overlapping moves at all may be slim to none, so you're probably better off picking a different move entirely. It's a lot better in Double Battles though, as it affects both opponents. And given that 99% of Pokemon in competitive Doubles use Protect, and that shutting out Protect is a really big deal...
    • The move Rototiller is a buffing move for Attack and Special Attack. The problem is, not only does it only works on Grass-types and a Pokemon can't use it to buff its own stats (only three Grass-type families learn it anyway), but it affects the whole field, meaning it would buff opposing Grass-types if there are any. Growth already does the same thing much more practically and also doubles the stat buffs if used in sunny weather.
    • The Secret Art of the Tapus, Nature's Madness, halves the target's current HP. It sounds useful, but given how most of them have high offensive stats, any other move will likely deal far more damage than Nature's Madness will. However, the defense-oriented Tapu Fini can get some mileage from the move.
    • Zygarde's Secret Art, Land's Wrath, is a weaker Earthquake that has the advantage of not hurting allies in Double Battles. Unfortunately for it, Zygarde can also learn Thousand Waves and Thousand Arrows, which are exactly like Land's Wrath in power, accuracy and PP, but also have added effects that render it obsolete. Core Enforcer also falls victim to this; a powerful Dragon-type special attack that nullifies Abilities... but only if the target is faster than it, and Zygarde has a higher Attack stat than Special Attack.
    • Deoxys' Normal Forme has no advantage over its other formes. The Attack Forme is a Glass Cannon, the Defense Forme is a Stone Wall, and the Speed Forme has balanced stats but is lightning fast. However, the Normal Forme is also a Glass Cannon, but compared to the Attack Forme, it's completely outclassed as the latter has higher attack power, while the former's higher defenses still aren't enough to stop it keeling over after one or two hits.
    • A number of moves and abilities in the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series are virtually useless in the hands of the player, and exist mostly for the purpose of letting enemies make your life miserable. Some examples include Embargo, which denies the usage of items (Enemies are almost never holding items and even fewer actually use them), Bug Bite/Pluck/Incinerate, which are weak and use or destroy an edible item in the target's possession (Pointless for the same reason as the previous move), and Heal Block, which prevents any HP recovery for its duration (Enemies go down too quickly for it to be worth using on them).
    • Any stat-reducing moves can be this — in the turn you spend using said move, you could have been doing more damage which ends the battle faster. Also, in PVP, the opponent can simply ruin all your stat-debuffing efforts by switching out their Pokémon, which resets any stat changes. Averted with accuracy reducing moves as they force the opponent to essentially skip turns much like sleep and paralysis while also wasting the PP of the move they try to use — a great asset against low PP moves.
      • The spent turn makes almost all the difference here. Compare Growl with Intimidate: both reduce the attack of the opponent, but Intimidate is an ability that happens the moment the Pokémon enters battle, giving the user some additional survivability without needing to spend an extra turn to set up. This is why Intimidate is so popular while things like Growl get sidelined.
    • On paper, Z-Splash sounds fantastic: it gives a +3 bonus to Attack with no apparent drawbacks, and since many Pokemon which get Splash evolve into things with high Attack stats, this turns an infamous joke move into a Lethal Joke Attack. The problem is that it's a Z-Move, meaning that you use up your sole Z-Move for that battle on it. That 'mon also has to dedicate their item slot to the Z-Crystal, which forsakes more useful items like a Life Orb or resistance Berry. Splash on its own is also completely useless, meaning that if you don't use Z-Splash, that's one move slot that is totally wasted. It can be useful for the early game in the hands of things like Bounsweet or Magikarp, but Swords Dance outclasses it in practical terms.
    • Hitmonchan is well known for being able to learn the Fire, Ice, Lightning punches, giving him perfect neutral coverage. Until Gen IV however, all three ran off Hitmonchan's pathetic special attack stat, rendering them completely worthless.
  • This is actually mostly averted in most Dragon Quest games, here nearly every spell has something going for it and inflicting status ailments on enemies is much more viable (it certainly helps that most bosses don't have immunities to debuffs like in other role-playing games). Nevertheless even in a franchise with so much useful magic there are still a few stinkers.
    • Dragon Quest VII zig-zags this. Very few enemies are flat out immune to instant-death spells or debuffs, but there's pretty much no reason to waste your MP on Whack or Thwack or Death Dance, since you could just use no-cost abilities instead.
    • Dragon Quest VIII hits this trope hard in the second half of the game. Bosses start gaining the abilities like Chilling Chuckle and Disruptive Wave, which automatically dispells all harmful status effects on them and their allies while simultaneously dispelling all beneficial status effects on the party. This means that buff spells, debuff spells, and the game's Tension effect all become completely useless in boss fights (which are generally the only fights where the enemy is strong enough that you'd need to be buffing yourself or debuffing them). That said, the Tension shortcoming can be overcome with the item the Timbrel of Tension and, if you are playing the remake, the very handy Tension-related abilities of Morrie.
    • Dragon Quest IX has Treasure Eye Land as the ultimate Thief ability, which marks the location of red treasure chests on your map (including towns) and the stairs to the next level in grottoes. Sounds good, except that the only treasure chests in grottoes are blue, meaning you still have to look for them yourself. Depending on when you get it, it can range from a time saver to only useful on the first two floors (which have no chests).
  • Status ailments are fairly useless in Bravely Default. The game is designed so you can blitz random encounters in a single round and you get an experience bonus for doing so, so there's not much point in bothering with anything but raw damage there. Bosses have massive resistances to status ailments if they're not outright immune, to the point that you'll likely spend more time trying to inflict the staus than they'll spend under it (and while poison doesn't wear off, bosses take heavily reduced damage from it). Now, debuffs, on the other hand, work just fine.
    • Though the Fear spell really is useless. Anything hit with Dread status will lose any accumulated BP and will not be able to Brave or Default. While things like Poison and Sleep can at least work decently on certain regular enemies, very few of them even use Brave or Default. Some bosses will make use of the BP system, but naturally, getting it to stick on bosses is nigh-impossible, so there is pretty much no reason to ever use Fear...ever. And it is, inexplicably, level 4 Black Magic instead of level 2 like the other three main status effect spells.
    • That said, Poison/Sleep + Exterminate/Twilight are pretty useful for level grinding when coupled with Group Cast All, since it generally ends fights against mooks in a single turn. Use that tactic in any Peninsula of Power Leveling, and you'll get your party's levels maxed out in no time at all. Poison + Exterminate is also a very good tactic against bosses that don't resist Poison or Dark damage.
    • Most attack spells are often useless as you get further and further on in the game. At the beginning, they're not too bad, but as physical attacks get better and better, they just get more and more outclassed. For a while, they still manage to be useful for hitting groups or exploiting weaknesses, but their MP cost makes this use prohibitive and there are alternatives that are often preferable. Once you get the Vampire class around the midgame, you all of a sudden get a variety of powerful spells that use your attack power to hit all enemies for elemental damage, and can drain MP to refuel. Combined with the fact that the games Speed stat increases physical damage and that the games Limit Breaks are all based on physical damage, and there is almost no reason to use all but a few magical attacks. And the only reason you use those magical attacks is because you've already taken Time or White magic for their highly useful utility spells. Black Magic has become almost completely useless.
    • A fair number of the support spells also count, though probably the worst one is Regen. It restores a bit of HP every turn it's active, doesn't wear off, and can be set by a particular Time Magic spell or a particular item compound. Seems decent enough, but it follows reason 12 on the main page in spades: the amount of HP restored is absolutely pathetic, at 3% per turn, so if your character has, say, 2000 HP, their HP will get restored every turn by a whole...60. Of course, it works just fine when Qada uses it during his boss battle, but for your characters, even when group-cast, it's pretty much outclassed by every other healing spell and item in the game (except the Potion and maybe Hi-Potion).
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky: Sylphen Wing, a stat buff that grants a 1-point increase to movement range and costs 30 EP. Increased movement range is useful, right? Well, not enough so to cast a single-target ability that doesn't last all that long and costs 30 EP, which is enough to cast Earth Wall (which is a Useful Useful Spell, maybe even an outright Game-Breaker) or Clock Up EX. Or, you know, any number of attack spells. Sylphen Wing isn't the worst thing out there as "useless spells" in RPGs go, but there are much, much better uses for 30 EP in the game, even if you're not using it to deal damage.
    • Trails in the Sky SC reduces its EP cost to 10. And it still sucks. At least there is also a multi-target version now.
  • Lufia & The Fortress of Doom has the Statue spell. It is meant to be used on your own party members. While enemies do sometimes attack a petrified party member (for no damage), that's a party member that you couldn't otherwise be attacking or healing with.
    • The Cooking IP ability in Lufia: The Legend Returns turns enemies into items if it kills the target. Not only does this rarely obtain useful items that you wouldn't have dozens of from thorough dungeon delving, the Cooking attack itself inflicts so little damage that it's extremely difficult to actually kill an enemy with it.
    • Several job abilities in Lufia: The Ruins of Lore are of questionable usage. The most glaring is Blunt Hit, the first ability of the Knight job, which is used to instantly knock out your own party members and have them revive at 1 HP after battle.
  • Debuff spells in Avernum. Due to the number of enemies it's generally more efficient to use buff spells on your party members instead of debuff spells on enemies (i.e. bless instead of curse and haste instead of slow). The effects are roughly the same and you don't have to cast them on as many people to get the full benefit.
  • Wizardry 8 has a weird variation of this. Damaging spells are pretty useless especially later into the game, because low level spells are weak, high level spell aren't exactly powerful either and to top it off, each spell can be casted at given power level (from 1 to 7), with each level costing a lot of MP in case of high-end spells, and higher power levels are needed to even reasonably damage the enemies, meaning you running out of MP after one battle. And that's not even mentioning you need to have certain skill in corresponding magic school to reliably cast given spell at given power level because if you don't have it, it won't work or worse, blows right in your face. OHKo spells, on the other hand, are quite efficient in dealing with enemies, because since there are rarely bosses, you usually battle with multiple enemies at the same time and there is pretty good chance to kill something with them even on the weakest power level, and multi-kills are frequent too. Using these spells can thin the pack you're dealing with really quickly.
  • Master of the Monster Lair: Magic Barrier. It stops a single magic attack and hits the caster for 1/3 of the damage it would've done. The problem is that 90% of enemies don't use magic and when they do they're usually highly resistant to the element they use. The spell is useful for dealing with a few boss fights, but that's about it.
  • Very strongly averted in The Dark Spire. The sleep spell that magi can use at the start of the game is easily the strongest one they'll get for a while, and they'll get far more use out of instant death and ailment spells than straight damage ones until they've learned nearly every spell in the game. Law priests also have the spell Angel of Death be one of the last ones that competes with a full party heal/ailment cure/revival for a reason - it's that reliable.
  • The Legend of Dragoon has status effects. Every boss in the game is immune to them and everything else is too weak to waste them onnote .
    • Rose's level three Dragoon spell, Demon's Gate, instantly kills all enemies. Naturally, all enemies actually worth using a spell on are immune to it, making it the one spell that is never used.
      • Rose's first two spells are relatively worthless as well. Astral Drain damages one enemy and heals the party by an amount equal to the damage done, split between all members. Death Dimension damages all enemies and inflicts them with Fear status. All bosses are immune to status effects, using a Healing Breeze/Rain heals the entire party for far more (as do Meru's and Shana's healing spells) and both spells deal too little damage to bother with for just inflicting damage.
    • Dart's fifth Addition, Madness Hero, deals very low damage but grants lots of spirit points which are needed both to turn into a dragoon and to level up as a dragoon. Unfortunately, he gets it in Disc 3 where half the bosses will destroy anyone foolish enough to transform into a dragoon against them. While it is useful for leveling up his dragoon form, by the time Dart unlocks his next Addition, he'll be doing more damage in base form most of the time.
  • In Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, fire and poison fall into this catigory. First of all, hitting an enemy with a fire or poison attack doesn't immediately start causing damage. Instead, enemies have a fire or poison meter that appears over their heads and you have to hit them repeatedly to fill it up before they actually get set on fire or poisoned. Beyond that, neither status effect lasts very long and the amount of damage they inflict is usually about equal to just hitting the enemy a couple of times. Even with all the skills and weapon buffs that improve the effectiveness, they simply don't inflict enough damage to make a noticable difference in a fight. And if that weren't bad enough, enemies poison and set you on fire instantly and the damage you take is much more substantial.
  • Fable I:
    • Summon and Drain Life. The former does relatively little damage compared to you even when it takes the form of a Minion and will cause you to get no experience from a monster if it lands the killing blow. The latter deals the least damage of any offensive spell and heals for much less than Heal or just using a health potion which are cheap and plentiful.
    • Guile improved stealth, improved prices on buying and selling goods, and unlocked the "Steal" and "Lockpick" skills. However, stealth is only used twice in the game. The first time (the Bandit Camp quest) is completely optional and the second time (Bargate Prison), having maxed out stealth makes functionally no difference to having none at all. Renown improved prices more than Guile and by the time you got a decent level of either, you'd have enough gold to simply buy anything you wanted. Finally, "Steal" had some use but only if you could trap the shopkeeper elsewhere or you'd be caught every time and since NP Cs had a habit of standing right inside their doors at night, "Lockpick" offered no stealth advantages over just breaking the door down.
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    Massively Multiplayer Online Games 
  • City of Heroes shows why designers tend to put these limitations in place. Archvillains and Heroes (not PCs) sport the standard immunity (most of the time) and are always highly credible threats. Anything below that level of resistance will be sleeping, frozen, confused, blinded, suspended from the ceiling and have its accuracy, resistance, defense, damage, regeneration and anything else floored to minimum values before it can say, "these are support effects any other MMO would kill for!" As a result, Player Versus Environment gameplay tends to end up being rather easy.
    • This leads to a very rewarding experience if you play the Dominator class. Dominators rely on status ailments to disable foes while dealing decent damage and even get a Super Mode to make their status effects harder to resist. When properly built, Dominators are the only class that can overcome an Archvillain's status protection by themselves (Controllers can also achieve this feat, but it usually takes 2 or 3 of them).
    • City of Heroes support effects are very powerful indeed, however, their power is mitigated by the sheer number of opponents you face. It's ludicrously easy to debuff a Mook into oblivion, then again, your average solo mission pits you against groups of 3 to 10 bad guys at the same time (depending on the faction you're fighting). Numbers are exponentially larger for group endeavors and boss battles. Note also that direct damage is equally over the top — any class (properly built) can pretty much turn a roomfull of Minions into chunky goop in a flash. The real challenge of any mission is always the boss fight, not the slosh through the hordes of faceless goons. Par for the course in a superhero game, innit ?
    • Technically, Hero/Archvillain/Giant Monster types aren't completely immune to status effects, they just have really high protection against them and cause them to wear off faster.
      • It's much easier to actually mezz a boss in a raid situation, which are only possible in the field. Since all Mezz effects stack, enough Controllers or Dominators (Or Warshades, or Fortunatas, Or...) could hold the Hamidon, if not for very long. (Indeed, prior to it's revamp, this was a requirement in order to keep the raid from wiping).
    • Played straight with some powers that are of questionable utility. In particular the powers that make enemies intangible (Dimension Shift, Black Hole and detention Field). While they did render enemies unable to attack they also made it impossible for players to damage them which meant the team had to pause until the power wore off.
      • Time Bomb from Devices and Traps was another example. The damage wasn't bad but it took a total of 24 seconds to deal damage in which time you could kill the enemies more efficiently with other powers.
  • Defender missiles in EVE Online. One race's ships are heavily reliant on missiles, and another race's make moderate use of them, so anti-missile missiles would seemingly be quite advantageous. However, many missile types can take two or three hits before being shot down, Defenders must be manually fired, and -critically- defenders cannot intercept missiles fired at friendly vessels. In all but a few niche circumstances, it's just easier to load offensive missiles and shoot the bastard.
  • World of Warcraft: Over its history, many abilities have been found lacking by players, and starting from the Cataclysm expansion, the developers have been cutting back on them to clear keyboard space. Like the druid spell Thorns, which gave a damage reflect so weak that it was often neglected. Hunter's Mark, an iconic debuff applied by hunters, was made to be applied automatically when attacking a target, and in Warlords of Draenor it was removed completely as it was little other than a passive damage increase. Other spells which suffered from limited utility were given other effects, sometimes supplanting the original entirely, as with Feint, which went from reducing threat to protection from area-of-effect damage.
    • Control spells like fear, polymorph, stuns, slows, are crucial in PvP, but little used against mobs, as the weak ones are usually better burned down quickly and bosses are almost always immune. From the first expansion onwards, there have been raid fights made to test these abilities, usually by having "adds" pour in during a boss fight that might overwhelm the raid if not kept controlled. The highest-level outdoor zone of the Mists of Pandaria expansion, Timeless Isle, also made these useful while soloing as the mobs have powerful, predictable attack patterns (instead of just autoattacks) that had to be shut down; Warlords of Draenor followed this up with similar zones.
    • In Vanilla WoW, a lot of bosses were immune to a certain school of magic, or to bleed attacks. This was especially frustrating to mages, whose best spec (fire) was unusable in the first two fire-themed raid tiers.
    • Warlock's Infernal and Doomguard were like this for a long time. Infernal summons a powerful demon, but the spell keeping it in control broke after 5 minutes, causing it to attack the user. It also replaced the Warlock's normal minion (which has to be resummoned with a long cast time) and could only be used outdoors. Doomguard was even more useless: The ritual required to summon it killed one party member at random, it had to be enslaved by the warlock and wasn't really much stronger than the normal minions. In the Cataclysm expansion, these were replaced with regular spells that summoned the demon for a short while with no restrictions but timers. They're still situational, but no longer completely useless.
      • The warlock spells Detect Invisibility and Unending Breath also border on useless. The latter was quite useful for lower level underwater quests (which weren't really popular), but the expansions have cut back on those and provided players with consumables for the same effect. The time a player can breathe underwater unaided was also tripled. The former suffers from Crippling Overspecialization, as it only helps against actual invisibility, not stealth. Only a few mobs in the game use invisibility, and on the player side it's only the succubus pet and a mage skill added much later. Unending Breath was later made tweakable to grant walking on water or faster swimming.
    • Shadow Ward, Fire Ward, and Frost Ward were also useless, or at least hard to use outside rigidly preset fights. They absorbed shadow, fire or frost damage, but you had to know when that specific type of damage would happen or you were wasting mana. They also absorbed a set amount of damage, so they didn't scale with gear. They were retooled in Cataclysm, being expanded to absorb more types of damage and scaling properly, and later removed entirely.
    • World of Warcraft also had a useless useful weapon skill: Unarmed and fist weapons. It should be rather obvious why people don't even bother to level Unarmed unless they're looking for an achievement or the occasional "naked duels". Fist weapons, on the other hand, use the same skill as unarmed but was often neglected for another reason: Lack of selection. You could actually count on one hand the fist weapons in the classic game, and even in later expansions, they were usually the least common weapon type. The same could be said of polearms, the next least common. Weapon skill was removed anyway because it was not only easy to do, but incredibly tedious.
    • Many talents (a character's specialization options) were hardly ever taken in the classic game because they were outclassed by others, and changing talents was expensive (with an escalating, uncapped cost). Lacerate, supposed to be the culmination of the Hunter's Survival tree, was reckoned to be the worst talent in the game (a damage-over-time that required a ranged class to be in melee and did negligible damage). Successive iterations pruned out the most useless ones, but the problem persisted at least until Mists of Pandaria when the talent system was changed to have fewer, more meaningful options.
    • Fear should have been an effective way of stopping a mob from beating down on you for a while, but is usually dangerous to use because it makes them run away, with the risk that it will aggro other mobs it runs into. Cataclysm added a glyph to make enemies cower instead of running.
    • The First Aid skill originally had anti-venoms, that could cure poison effects. Which should be useful, but 1) very few enemies other than players use poisons, 2) PvP is so fast that you don't want to fumble for an item you rarely use, 3) any mob or player that applies poison keeps re-applying it, 4) they only last a few seconds so it's not worth clearing after the fight. On top of that, the materials to make them were incredibly rare. Warlords of Draenor brought in updated versions that also covered diseases and applied a protective effect, but they were now unusable in PvP and again hardly any mobs used them.
      • First Aid as a whole was widely considered this for years, which led to its removal in Battle for Azeroth and its recipes being baked into Tailoring.
    • In Cataclysm, Warriors got a wonderful new ability: Heroic Leap. You can select where you want to go and you soar through the air to reach your destination, dealing damage as you land. This sounds INCREDIBLY awesome... Until you inevitably discover that it won't work uphill, won't cross gaps, you need a PERFECTLY straight line between you and your destination, you can't jump over objects no matter their size ("Whoops, blade of grass no leap 4 u!") and half the time, it just refuses to work (Blizzard did a great job at fixing that though). No wonder people at the start of the expansion called it "Heroic Fail" and "Heroic No Path Available" (The error message that appears when either Heroic Leap or Charge cannot reach a target due to pathing issues.) However, it does prove to be an excellent gap-closer when it works, can be used to instantly get out of dangerous ground effects or can simply let you move around faster.
    • Thrown weapons were only usable by three classes: Warriors, Hunters, and Rogues. Warriors and Rogues (melee classes) only ever used them for the stats on them or to occasionally pull a mob they didn't want to approach, while for Hunters they were useless since they didn't work with most of their attacks. Blizzard eventually acknowledged this, as the itemization system in Mists of Pandaria removed the third weapon slot entirely and all thrown weapons were turned into Vendor Trash.
      • The removal of the third slot and Hunters now carrying their ranged weapon in their main hand also made their ability to carry a melee weapon at all unnecessary, until Legion reinvented Survival as a melee specialization.
      • There's also Mages, Warlocks, and Priests' ability to shoot with wands; back in vanilla, they had to carry a wand for the purpose of managing mana while dealing damage, and with the third weapon slot removed, wands were also turned into main hand weapons. As mana regeneration rates were ramped up to the point that the only DPS specs left that had mana management as a gameplay mechanic were Arcane Mage and Legion Affliction Warlock, the shooting function was rendered useless as the bolts fired are pathetically weak compared to just doing your normal rotation.
    • Glyphs were introduced to tweak player characters, and the developers intended these to suit playstyles rather than increase damage/healing/survivability. However, there were some that marginally increased power, so many players felt they could not afford the slots for those that affected utility. Others were very situational and only used before specific fights, to be changed out of straight afterwards. They were retooled to have only cosmetic effects.
    • Warlords of Draenor introduced hundreds of treasures hidden throughout Draenor and later implemented treasure maps that can be bought after finishing each zone to show where all the treasures in said zone are. The problem? Everyone already has the Handynotes addon which shows them where every treasure in every zone is. As a result, the treasure maps were instantly demoted to Vendor Trash.
    • One of the possible upgrades in the Legion class halls allowed players to instantly complete a world quest using an item that had a low cost and low research time. The problem was that it only worked for non-elite world quests (almost all of which can be completed in a few minutes) and it could only be used once every three days. The cooldown was later reduced to eighteen hours but players are still advised to take the other research option, regardless of what it is.
    • Some of the artifact traits were so weak, it's like they were added as an afterthought. For example, Frost Death Knights got one that doubled the range of one of their melee abilities. However, they're still very much a melee class and thus should never be outside melee range.
    • As for the Arms Warrior artifact, it came with a built-in ability to scare every troll within a certain range. While it sounds interesting on paper, there's not a single application for it in game. There are no troll enemies in the Legion content, the weapon itself is poor choice when compared to even the questing greens from later expansions and any NPC from previous expansions is a slight annoyance at best. As for PvP, the ability does not work there in order to not make troll characters unplayable. If the player wants to complete earlier content, this ability might even become harmful, since one of the achievements requires defeating a Wolfpack Boss while all of it's members stay within a small area.
  • For all the classes, spells, and abilities in the game, Final Fantasy XI has relatively few:
    • Instead of Avatars, Summoners can call Elemental Spirits, which do have good spells...but are completely uncontrollable and generally weaker than Avatars. On the other hand, they can be consumed to restore the Summoner's MP, usually well in excess of what it cost to summon them in the first place.
    • Red Mages can put Merit Points into learning Phalanx II, Blind II, and Bio III...except Blind II and Bio III don't inflict significant enough penalties to the Accuracy or Attack (respectively) of any enemy strong enough to bother debuffing, and Phalanx II—while it can be cast on party members—always provides less damage reduction than regular Phalanx...and regular Phalanx can be cast on the entire party at once by using Accession with Scholar as a support job.
    • White Mages' ultimate spell, Full Cure, consumes all MP to...provide a single-target version of exactly the same thing their Benediction ability does, while probably still getting them killed by the massive enmity spike that results—and by the time it's unlocked, not only is Benediction's cooldown reduced to 45 minutes—short enough to use more than once in a Dynamis-Divergence run or Omen marathon—but any White Mage worth bringing should be experienced enough and geared well enough never to need it.
    • Blue Mages have more spells than any other casting job in the game...and not only are most of them never worth actually using, but they're not even worth setting just for the Job Traits they can enable. Firespit deserves special mention, because it's not only a weak nuke that costs way too much MP and doesn't even have an ecosystem advantage over any other monster type, but it got removed from the list of spells that can cause Voidwatch procs—which was the only reason anybody ever used it.
    • Black Mages, in a subversion of this trope, get the only version of Death worth using in the entire series—although this is for the massive Darkness damage it deals, especially on Magic Bursts, to enemies that don't die instantly. Nobody uses it for the instant-death effect.
    • Nearly all of the songs Bards can learn are at least situationally useful except Maiden's Virelai. Temporarily Charming an enemy for an uncertain amount of time—while, on top of that, being unable to control it the way a Beastmaster would be able to—is even less useful than it sounds.
    • Speaking of Beastmasters and their signature Charm ability—it's worthless. Jug pets scale to their master's level, and are typically stronger relative to their level than the local mobs anyway. At level 23, BSTs also unlock the Bestial Loyalty ability, which lets them call a jug pet without consuming the jug. The only BST JA more worthless than Charm is Tame, which, aside from theoretically causing a mob to lose aggro, makes the target less likely to resist Charm—and can also miss.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has several:
    • Black Mages have three abilities with very dubious uses. Freeze causes AOE damage and inflicts Bind, but the spell has to be aimed and can miss if your targets decide to move out of the way. Not only that, but Bind wears off if the target takes any damage afterwards. Blizzard II works the same way as Freeze, but the spell requires the user to be in melee range, which puts the player at risk of being attacked. Surecast has the next spell cast without being interrupted, but this gets outclassed by Swiftcast, which has the next spell cast instantly. Surecast was reworked to prevent draw in/knockback effects as well as keeping the original "uninterrupted spellcasting" effect, giving it a bit more use. Freeze was eventually reworked as well to be an on-enemy cast instead of a marker, and gives an Umbral Heart (without getting into it too much, this is a very important resource for them) making it much, much more useful as an AoE rotation.
    • Scholars are a healing class that are accompanied by a small fairy that helps them heal. One of their spells dismisses the fairy to boost their own healing by 20% and refill their class resource, called Aetherflow. Sounds good on paper, not so much in practice. For starters, the primary ability that refills Aetherflow is only on a 60-second cooldown. Second, the 20% increase in healing is just about what the fairy provides, which can be boosted further with the use of a skill. But thirdly and fatally, the fairy doesn't return after the spell ends, which means you have to expend a decent amount of both time and mana to return her to battle. Since Scholars have slightly weaker healing spells to balance out the automatic healing their fairy provides, this is crippling in the long run. This was indirectly made less useless after summoning had its cast time drastically reduced.
    • Paladins get an ability that negates any knockback or draw in effects. Problem is most abilities that inflict either of these things are either a) cast instantly, so you don't have a chance to use this ability in preparation, or b) cause a bunch of damage (if not outright death by knocking you off a ledge) and thus are much better off being dodged entirely.
    • The Monk's One Ilm Punch removes a buff from the target, but the attack itself is weak and has a hefty TP cost to use. Most enemies either don't buff themselves or said buffs can't be removed.
      • On the other hand, One Ilm Punch is fantastic in PvP as it can remove a wide number of buffs that spike damage or are just flat out essential to a class's damage rotation.
    • Repose and Sleep, which puts the target to sleep. Great for early game content, but it quickly becomes useless by level 50 due to nearly every single enemy being resistant to the Sleep status.
    • The Conjurer/White Mage Fluid Aura ability causes knockback, which is helpful in solo content, but mostly useless in group content and it only annoys other players who have to rely on enemy position to do the most damage. Stormblood removed Fluid Aura's damage entirely, making it a purely pushback ability that now gets used far less often. Shadowbringers nerfed Fluid Aura further by removing the knockback ability and changed the ability to be a ranged binding spell. The Machinist's Blank Shot ability had similar properties and the skill itself was eventually removed.
    • The Bind status effect. It roots the target in place until they take damage. The main issue is damage is a constant thing done by everyone, so Bind will never be used fully.

    Real-Time Strategy Games 
  • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert, a few missions from the end the allies acquire the ability to use the Chronosphere, a teleportation device. However, in game (more powerful in Cutscene Power to the Max), you can only teleport a single tank at once, and cannot teleport air units or APCs with people, with the given reason that the people in the APCs will die, which really doesn't make sense because the tanks have to have people in them (and a known cheat can disable it). This is largely corrected in Red Alert 2, where the Chronosphere has the power to teleport up to 9 small tanks, including vehicles with people in them, as well as some air units. In fact, you're able to teleport land units into the sea and sea units onto the land, making it somewhat of an offensive weapon too. Unshielded infantry still die in Chronoshifting.
    • Also in Command & Conquer: Red Alert, the Soviet Iron Curtain is somewhat useless, as it can only make a single tank or building invincible for a short period of time. Also corrected in Red Alert 2, the Iron Curtain then has the ability to protect up to 9 tanks, flak tracks, or terror drones.
      • The Iron Curtain can protect a valuable building that is in imminent danger of being destroyed, such as a Construction Yard, which can buy you time to kill off the invading force or repair it. Another (more fun) strategy is to send a M.A.D. tank towards an enemy base or attack force, and just as it reaches firing range, use the Iron Curtain to keep it from being prematurely destroyed since it's too slow to reach a target on its own armor. Place it in the prime center of devastation and deploy it — if it's still under the Curtain, it won't actually explode and damage everything until right after the effect fades, giving the enemy no chance to actually counter it.
    • However in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge, the Genetic Mutator (Yuri's secondary superweapon) sounds good on paper, turning all infantry on a large area into brutes at your command, but since it's rare your enemy will ever have a large collection of infantry in one spot, the only use it can ever be is to turn your own or other players' slaves into usable soldiers, since slaves are free.
      • When you figured out the secret, the Mutator was possibly the best superweapon in the game. Use it with the grinder and Yuri has potentially infinite cash, especially useful in a long game where the ore has run out.
    • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, the Nanosphere's uses are more limited compared to the Chronosphere and the Iron Curtain. It deploys a large barrier around the area, shielding it from attacks and movement; nothing can go in or out of the barrier for as long as it's deployed. Given its esoteric application, it's safe to say that it falls behind the teleportation tactics of the Chronosphere and the Invulnerability of the Iron Curtain (the latter being notable as it can now be used to negate the Cast from Hit Points downside of the Dreadnoughts' ability).
  • WarCraft II had this issue for some of the magic spells.
    • Humans have the Paladins' Healing spell. It looks like it would be useful for healing your army while in battle to turn the odds in your favor, but the user interface is too inefficient to allow the spell to cast fast enough, and there is no auto-cast in this game. Even without the casting speed issue, the spell was no match in a battle against Ogre-Magi and their game-breaking Bloodlust spell. Healing was much more useful for topping off the health on important units before and after battle.
    • Humans also have the Paladins' Exorcism that appears great for fighting Death Knights and their Skeleton minions, however, players of the Orc race would rarely use "Raise Dead" due to how feeble skeletons are for their mana cost. Exorcism was mostly used to snipe enemy Death Knights and little else, and requires the Orc player to train Death Knights for it to be usable.

    Third-Person Shooters 
  • Scramble Overdrive (S.O.D.) for most of the playable characters of Bullet Girls Phantasia is an excellent way to wipe out hordes of enemies or create much-needed breathing room with an AoE attack, but some character suffer from having useless effects. For example, Yurina's automated howitzer turrets have pitiful damage output, fire their explosive rounds slowly and at an arc, and mostly spread enemies around, making it take longer for you to finish them off yourself. The smoke also tends to obscure enemies, making it more difficult to do so.

    Turn-Based Strategy Games 
  • Civilization IV has several Civics that are of varying usefulness. Probably the most notorious for this trope, however, was Environmentalism. In its original form, it gave your cities a small Health boost, plus one Happiness for each forest and jungle within your culture's borders. The problem is that you got a production bonus for clearing jungles and forest, and you can't use Environmentalism until very late in the game, so by the time you can access it, it gives you almost nothing. Fortunately, Firaxis retooled this with the Beyond The Sword expansion — in it, Environmentalism gave a substantially larger Health bonus, another one for building Public Transportation, and a money bonus for Windmills (which are useful anyway) and Forest Preserves (which give Happiness on their own). This made Environmentalism a very useable late-game Civic.

    First-Person Shooters 
  • In Borderlands the entire shock element is useless as it's only useful for removing shields that only appear on a select number of human enemies and are easily dealt with without shock weapon. Furthermore the Hunter class gets a late game ability to bypass shields all together. Their only real use is against a few enemies that spawn is a very specific location and the hardest boss in the game.
    • Borderlands 2: Krieg has the ability to change his last stand move from kneeling down and firing guns to running around throwing dynamite. On the surface, it sounds useful - running around gives you a better chance, and at start the dynamite is more powerful than most weapons. Come a few levels, however, and the guns start outpacing the dynamite by far, and since the only time you'll need to use the last stand is when you're next to enemies, you don't need to run around finding someone to use the dynamite on.
      • Gaige's Anarchy almost counts here, too. While Anarchy can make your shots ridiculously powerful, the cost of heavily decreasing accuracy makes it where it's almost worthless when 10 well-aimed shots or 1 with high elemental effect can easily make up for the damage with 1 Anarchy shot. And each miss takes away your Anarchy stacks, making the shot less powerful than you might have wanted where another ability that causes shots to ricochet to another enemy can help increase the damage count in a more reliable way.
    • Trespass is also an example. It lets you bypass shields, but outside one type of enemy, shields are meaningless defenses. It is further hurt by being the cap skill on Sniping, which is inferior to Gunslinger, the pistol tree, even in terms of boosting sniper rifle damage.
  • The Scrambler perk in Modern Warfare 2. In theory, it lets you jam enemy radars, so that they won't know where you and your teammates are. In practice, it tells them exactly how close you are, because the scrambling effect is dependent on how far away you are from your opponent; the closer you are, the greater the effect. And, an enemy can still read their radar perfectly fine until you're practically breathing down their neck. There's a killstreak reward called the Counter-UAV, which does it much better and with no drawbacks.
  • In Team Fortress 2, The Sandman was subject to a lot of complaints and balance changes. Eventually, Valve made a drastic change by removing the full stun (except at the maximum range) and replacing it with a "scared" animation that disabled weaponry and reduced movement speed. Due to a bug, however, the 'stunned' players could still fire their weapon. Once that was fixed, however, it became a pretty balanced sidegrade.
    • The playerbase goes back and forth on whether the Razorback is this or not. It's a wooden shield with a car battery taped to it. It completely blocks one backstab while also stunning the Spy who did it for 2 seconds. However, it takes up your secondary slot (thus preventing you from using your SMG or the highly-useful Jarate), only works once (you have to run all the way back to base to get another one), and there's nothing stopping the Spy from just shooting you instead. In high-level play, however, where a Spy lives or dies on how well he can slip past (and kill) enemies while in disguise, the Razorback is a god-send since it's a major inconvenience to the Spy, who must stop to pull out his Revolver and shoot it (which breaks the Spy's disguise, as well as being fairly loud). In fact, the Razorback actually got a rework that allowed it to regenerate, but also made the sniper immune to overheals, because with the shield equipped and the medic overhealing him, literally nothing could one-shot the sniper without risking a one-shot in return.
  • Shotguns in Rainbow Six: Vegas have a fair chance of instantly killing enemies and (at higher difficulties) players with one shot at shorter ranges. A second or so of sustained automatic weapons fire is sure too. The net result is that enemies with shotguns are unholy terrors as they can kill you before you can drop them with automatic fire. But using shotguns yourself is Russian roulette, because the enemy might survive and kill you before your pump-action shotgun gets a second shot. Your chances of a One-Hit Kill are probably higher than the enemy's, but that doesn't matter since the Mooks are expendable, while they only need to get lucky once to send you back to the last checkpoint.
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    Unsorted 
  • Situational in Thief. It gives you powerful magic items like fire arrows. However, on any difficulty higher than Normal (that is the easiest level), you are forbidden to kill anybody except undeads or robots. Thus, buying them when none of these enemies are around might be a waste.
  • In Culdcept, the spell Haunt is an extremely annoying example. It puts the target under the control of an AI for two rounds, which will almost invariably do something infuratingly stupid if it is used on you, but if used on an opponent it just puts them under the control of the same AI that was controlling them before.
  • Diablo 2 used to be chock-full of these — before synergies were introduced, characters would spend their early levels not wasting skill points on any low-level spell because it would be supremely ineffective even before the end of Normal, much less Nightmare and Hell difficulty. But even after synergies this trope persists, with several spells per character falling victim to Useless Usefulness:
    • Necromancers: The Weaken curse has never been useful; despite cutting monsters' physical damage by a third and having a wide area of effect, it is unnecessary in Normal and doesn't do nearly enough mitigation in Nightmare and Hell. It is also outclassed completely by Decrepify, which cuts monster offense in HALF, along with the monster's defense AND speed. Talk about obsolete!
    • Amazons:
      • The Magic Arrow spell lets 'zons fire arrows/bolts without worrying about ammunition. Yet arrows are so cheap, so many monsters drop them and they stack to such huge amounts that this never matters.
      • Ice Arrow. Completely outclassed by Freezing Arrow aside, it doesn't even synergy well with FA, only providing a measly 0.2 extra second of freezing per hard point.
    • Paladins:
      • Conversion is one of the worst attacks in the game. While it does have a chance of converting monsters, doing so usually takes much longer than just killing them. Even worse, after they change back, they retain your beneficial aura (or are immune to your offensive aura) for a short period of time. So the demon charging at you has your own Fanaticism...
      • Spells like Conversion that turned the enemies' strength against themselves were the cornerstones of the only viable character builds (Conversion/Thorns, Revive/Iron Maiden/Corpse Explosion, Static Field spam) in the initial release version of the game, due to a lack of high powered weapons and absence of spell scaling. As the game evolved towards escalating player damage and enemy health in updates and the Lord of Destruction expansion pack, they became largely useless.
      • The healing aura, Prayer, heals far too little to be any use in combat, even at the beginning of the game when you get it, and out of combat you can just portal home to heal. Making matters worse, it has the distinction of being the only aura to cost mana. Thanks to synergies, even if you think it's worth the skill points, the actual Prayer aura is still worthless because its synergy with two other auras gives them the entire healing effect without the mana cost. Their Blessed Aim and Might Auras are also outclassed (by Fanaticism and Concentration), plus the former two can be obtained on a mercenary.
    • Barbarians:
      • Two words: Increased Stamina. More words: You never really have trouble with stamina, and even if you do, there are always better places to spend your skill points.
      • Leap is almost totally outclassed by Leap Attack, which lacks the limited range of Leap. The only function left for Leap is if you want to knockback a group of mobs for some reason.
    • Assassins: Psychic Hammer, a hilariously low-damage skill that really can't do anything other than maybe knocking people out of desync.
    • Sorceress: Blaze left a trail of fire behind you as you ran and damaged any enemies who crossed it but did so little damage that it was functionally cosmetic by Act IV (of 15).
  • Magic (as in the elemental type 'Magic', separate from 'Fire' and 'Lightning') in the first Diablo. It was represented by three spells, including the high level Bone Spirit which removed 1/3 of an enemy's current health. Because of this spell, almost every single enemy in the higher difficulties was magic immune, making it and the other two magic spells useless — ironically even if it did work on everything it would be far weaker than your elemental spells which could kill any non-immune monster in one hit or all monsters on the screen in two.
    • Diablo's unofficial expansion Hellfire attempted to take care of the Magic immunity problem by implementing a few monsters vulnerable to magic but not to fire or lightning. Unfortunately Bone Spirit couldn't actually kill the monsters because it did fractional damage and the other two magic spells were so weak that players simply treated them like triple immunes in the regular game: Stone Curse and bash them.
  • Both played straight and averted Lost Odyssey. Enemies tend to inflict lots of nasty status effects on the PCs that they themselves cannot cast as effectively at that point, but any status effects enemies aren't outright immune to tend to be equally easy to inflict upon them, and in fact it's a necessary part of several boss battles. The fact that the programmers decided to signify status immunity with a "miss" instead of "immune" like in Final Fantasy X for example for some weird reason and not showing anything when the enemy isn't immune to the status the spell inflicts but it doesn't manage to connect doesn't help the said spells' reputation much though.
    • Also amusingly inverted in that by the end of the game, your entire party can also be immune to all status effects (except Instant Death, only enemies can be immune to that), but of course the Artificial Stupidity never catches on and the enemies will cast them at you constantly.
  • In Odin Sphere, one potion leaves behind a toxic cloud that kills anything after a short delay, regardless of how much HP it has left. Unfortunately, this has a tendency not to work on boss enemies, but always on you. Sure, it kills slimes, but you've always got Napalm for doing that cheaper.
  • The Death Spell in Trials of Mana deals 999 damage (the damage cap) and can be used on bosses, but it only works on enemies that are at a lower level than the caster. The only character class that learns the spell can already OHKO most regular enemies with cheaper elemental spells, and if you're ever at a higher level than a boss, you've probably level grinded enough to not even need the Death Spell.
  • Shining Series:
    • Shining Force II gives you the "death" spell, at a late point in the game where most of the enemies you'll be fighting are undead or demons, both immune to that. Of course, it does work perfectly well on the player party.
    • Desoul (the aforementioned instant death spell) shows up in the original Shining Force, and is a fair bit more effective on enemies. Instead, the spell Muddle literally does nothing in the original game, but in the second is a style of confusion spell that can be at times quite amusing. Not that it's any more accurate than it was before.
    • The remake averts this — well, partially. Status infliction spells are still worthless; but as for status buffs, especially Narsha's? These easily veer into Game-Breaker-level of usefulness. Heck; one of the best ones is one that buffs your movement. In a strategy game where you're limited by how much you can move at once? That's really useful!
  • Used in Fate/stay night in the form of the "Projection" magecraft, which allows users to create objects out of their own Mana. However, since it relies on the user's own image of the object, the result is always degraded from the original and disappears eventually. Basically, "if you know everything about the object and its material composition, why not just get the resources and physically make it?" However, it is also from this "useless" spell that the protagonist gains his powers.
    • Technically, he's cheating because he's not even using "Projection" magecraft in the first place, as he's actually using an application of a Reality Marble.
  • The pocket watch in the Castlevania games is largely a Useless Useful Item. Paying 5 hearts to stop time for 5 seconds sounds like a good deal — until you realize that almost all the bosses, and even some of the stronger normal enemies, are still able to move during the watch's use. The watch is occasionally useful in some of the game's more Nintendo Hard segments (such as some difficult platforming sections with flying enemies around), and does quite well against Medusa, the second level boss in the first game (one of the few bosses in the entire series who is vulnerable to its effect), but it's largely useless, and hardly ever more useful than any other weapon you can carry.
    • This is averted in Haunted Castle however, as it makes the watch cost only two hearts, making it actually efficient, and it can affect bosses in the game.
    • The watch in Castlevania: Circle of the Moon ordinarily only stops regular enemies, slows down larger ones, and doesn't do a thing at all to bosses. There is an item crash spell available later in the game that enhances the watch to make it stop all enemies and even slow down bosses (including Dracula himself), but at this point you have much better spells that actually do damage.
    • And again in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, we've got Dark Metamorphosis, which allows our vampeal hero to heal with the blood shed by enemies... of course, most things, exploding into flames on death and dying in one hit, or being animated armor or skeletons or whatever else, don't bleed; the most powerful early-game weapons (Jewel Knuckles and spells) won't draw blood from any enemy; and the late game most powerful weapons (Crissaegrim, Alucard Shield, spells) are such complete game breakers you'll almost or entirely never will need to heal.
    • Similarly, an early-acquired weapon, the Red Rust, will curse enemies (preventing them from attacking). Of course, it's slower and weaker than punching with fists, has a random chance of failing to swing on Alucard's part, and only affects the two Doppelganger boss enemies in the game.
    • Also, from Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, there's Scutum. It's the first shield spell you get, and is entirely useless against attacks that aren't directly above you. Guess where the hardest-to-dodge attack of the end boss comes from?
    • Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin has one for each character. Jonathan's Taunt skill is next to useless, as he's either the only one on screen anyway, or using it as a partner just starves Charlotte of MP. Charlotte's Sanctuary spell, which clears all abnormal status effects from everyone in range sounds good, but status affects are rare enough, and the spell has a punitive MP cost and a charge time rivalling the duration of Poison in the first place. However, incomplete vampirism is an abnormal status, and Taunt is amazing for keeping the Climax Boss away from Charlotte while she casts.
  • Fire Emblem's Sleep and Silence staves are guaranteed a 100% hit in the SNES game provided the user's magic is higher than the target's magic defense, but are severely downgraded in the GBA installments: their accuracy now depends on the target's Resistance, and anything higher than single-digit Res is likely to result in hit rates too low to even both with. Silence is even worse, since it's obviously only useful against magic users and even the weakest Mage will probably have enough Res to be totally immune to it.
    • Although they do give nice experience even when they miss.
    • In Radiant Dawn, the Sleep Staff is a definite aversion: You're given one in an Info Conversation on Chapter 3-13... given the boss of that chapter is the strongest unit in the game, and he gets much stronger back up on turn 10, you pretty much have to take him out, before he kills you horribly, but has a very low RES stat, meaning he can be hit by the staff... it's pretty much your only hope.
    • FE 4's "Berserk Sword" — a sword with a chance to inflict the Berserk Status upon foes. Seems useful, right? Well, it's only got a range of 1. Which means: Either the enemy is still going to attack you on their turn or, have already used it. So it's kinda pointless. However, the Staff has a 100% chance to hit if the enemy's MDEF is lower than the caster's MAG stat... which is an aversion. Hilarity Ensues when that hits the right target, like say, That One Boss, when she's next to the Final Boss.
    • The series also loves giving skills that increase the Skl stat to archers/snipers, classes that already have absurdly high levels in that stat. Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones even gave them a skill that allowed a guaranteed hit when activated, despite their chance of hitting probably never dropping below 100 due to the aforemented Skl stat.
    • The Corrosion skill also tends to fall into this. It depletes the durability of an enemy's weapon when it triggers—awesome! Except most enemy weapons will take at least two triggerings of Corrosion to deplete, and it only activates on about one in every three hits, meaning an enemy will probably die long before Corrosion manages to break their weapon. Also, plenty of enemies carry more than one weapon, so they'll just switch to their backup. Also also, it can trigger on valuable items that you would want to steal or loot.
    • Lifetaker in Fire Emblem Awakening seems like a good idea, healing you if you kill an enemy. Only works on your turn though, so it's useless if you want to restore the hitpoints to survive an onslaught of enemies, and overshadowed completely by Sol or Aether (which has Sol embedded), both of which have a chance to restore HP on each hit and even works on enemy turns.
  • Mesmers in Guild Wars are dangerous in PvP due to their ability to drain their opponent's energy and disable their skills. In PvE, however, enemies rarely show detrimental effects from energy denial (making such skills typically used for their secondary effects if at all) while powerful bosses are typically immune to skill disabling (as they would be too easily rendered helpless otherwise).
    • Interrupts are essential Mesmer fare in PvP. Try having an interrupt-battle against an AI-controlled Mesmer though, and you'll likely see your interrupts interrupted (something which takes insanely good timing for a human to pull off).
    • Hexes still work, though. Actually, they work better in PVE because the AI is too stupid to stop attacking/casting through them.
    • Conditions still work on bosses as well (though some bosses are only affected for half the stated duration). Daze is extremely helpful in Factions, Nightfall, and Eye of the North, since bosses get a 2x damage bonus.
    • Inverted, even, with certain hexes that have an effect if they end without being removed, since they end faster. In particular, Wastrel's Worry (Which deals damage after a certain amount of time if the target hasn't used a skill) becomes spamable and does quite a bit of pain.
  • Nearly every offensive spell in the first Rune Factory, as the player character only has 100 RP per day to work with (for the most part) and the spells have a fixed RP cost. Fixed in the sequel, where magic costs decrease with practice just like every other ability.
  • The Kingdom Hearts Final Mixes seemed to be bent on making the respective games' useless useful spells, abilities, and forms into actually useful skills: Stop is necessary to defeat most of the added monsters in the original Final Mix, and the same for Aero (which was not so much useless as too costly for its benefits). In Final Mix+, a whole slew of Bonus Boss fights and sidequests became either significantly easier or even possible in the first place by cunning use of Wisdom Form, the by-far least useful of Sora's forms in the main game, or various kinds of magic (including limits), often eschewed in the main playthrough or the original versions as it is generally easy enough to off the mooks with regular attacks.
    • Vexen can be incredibly trivialized in Final Mix 2+. You can attack while moving so you can avoid the trap that collects data and summons a Shadow Sora while you destroy his shield...then what do you do after that? FIRAGA SPAM!!! Lexaeus also likewise requires you to pretty much spam reflect unless you don't wanna get crushed by tons of boulders.
  • Mega Man:
    • In most games, the player may obtain a shield weapon which supposedly offers protection. But there were problems with many of them. Basically they would either disappear after anything hit it or were limiting in some way (such as if Mega Man moved, the shield would be "shot" in that direction). Later shields tend to be more durable or more damaging, though. The Rolling Shield in Mega Man X1 is a slight aversion, but the only enemies that don't cause the shield to disappear are Goddamned Bats.
    • From Mega Man:
      • The Super Arm is a rather powerful weapon, but its usefulness is restricted since it relies on external blocks to pick up and throw, which are absent from a majority of stages. Said blocks also don't respawn if you die. What's more, most minor enemies that die to the Super Arm in one hit die to most other weapons in one hit.
      • The Hyper Bomb throws a cartoon bomb that bounces a short distance and explodes after a delay. This delay is long enough for most would-be targets to get out of its explosion radius, and enemies that would take large damage from it are more quickly dispatched with other weapons like the Fire Storm.
    • Flash Man's power, the Time Stopper, is rather useless for 95% of Mega Man 2. It does exactly what you'd expect, but at the cost of disabling Mega Man's Mega Buster for the duration of its effect. It can't be turned on and off at will, doesn't damage enemies, and it burns through energy at a fast clip. Its only real use comes against Quick Man, where it can be used to help with the long sequence of insta-death beams in his stage, or knock off a major chunk of the boss's life bar (but generally not both). Funnily, it was basically given a Suspiciously Similar Substitute in Mega Man 4, the Flash Stopper, which has much more reasonable consumption, can be turned on and off, and allows you to shoot while it's active.
    • Mega Man 3 has a few, but an argument can be made that the game has an arsenal of these:
      • The Top Spin, disregarding the fact its weapon consumption is problematic due to how it registers hits, has an issue that it requires touching the enemy. In a game with Collision Damage. And you're not even invincible while using it. Result: anything not one-shotted by it will hurt you.
      • The Spark Shock stuns enemies. Cool right? But it doesn't actually do any damage, you can only have two enemies stunned at any time, you can't switch weapons while the "stun field" it generates is on screen, and if another enemy collides with a stunned enemy, they swap places.
      • The Gemini Laser may sound cool because it bounces off walls, but unless you're a geometry master, good luck hitting something on the rebound. Plus it's a Painfully Slow Projectile.
      • The Search Snake has two uses: defeating Gemini Man and the Holograph Mega Mans (technically three if you can't/don't want to use the Top Spin on Gamma's second form). There's no level with fake floors where the Bubble Lead (which it acts as a faster version of) would've been handy and it does so-so damage. Not to mention a lot of enemies in this game are either on platforms (which the snakes can't reach), are shielded, or are flying.
    • Mega Man 5 has a large number of dud weapons:
      • The Gravity Hold sends all foes on-screen flying into the air. Sounds cool... except that it actually does very little damage (everything only takes one point!), it uses up a hefty amount of energy per-use, and while it's neat seeing your foes fly into the stratosphere, it also means you're not getting any powerups from them.
      • The Water Wave sents three water spouts charging ahead, and they can block shots, but each spout disappears with one shot, it can't be fired if you're not on solid ground (not even moving platforms will cut it), and its energy usage makes it deceptively easy to run low on it.
      • The Power Stone sends three large stones spiraling outwards. Assuming you can manage to hit anything with it, they deal so little damage to foes it's generally not worth using such an inaccurate weapon. In addition, it takes a while for the stones to go offscreen (and therefore it takes a while before you can fire again).
      • The Charge Kick, like the Top Spin, is a move that requires making contact with the foe in order to use. However, it can only be used by sliding, making it even more hard to use. Fortunately, you're invincible while using it... mostly (Wave Man's Water Wave will still hurt if you Charge Kick into it).
    • The Sakugarne in Mega Man II, obstensively an 11th-Hour Superpower, is a weapon that requires Mega Man to Goomba Stomp foes. Besides the fact that it comes so late in the game to be of any real use against enemies, like the Top Spin it doesn't make him invincible, meaning damage will ensue. It also drains energy constantly, as if that wasn't enough.
    • Mega Man X: Command Mission suffers from this greatly, although spells are relegated to items. Unless they are attack or healing items, none of them will ever work... EVER.
    • From Mega Man Legends we have a myriad of the special weapons: both grenades, both mines, the blade arm, the shield arm, and both the powered and spread busters. While they're useful if sufficiently upgraded and mastered, you'll never touch them since you can only carry one weapon at a time and that one weapon will be something effective like the machine arm (obtained very early in the game and deadly if upgraded), active buster (homing missiles. 'Nuff said), or the vacuum arm for farming zenny.
  • It could be argued that all Magirock spells in Terranigma falls under this category — most of the standard enemies are relatively easy to dispatch through conventional means, and Magirock is not usable in nearly all boss battles.
    • The key word there is "nearly". You are notably allowed to use magic against at least one boss- That One Boss. Bloody Mary.
  • The Spirit Engine has a really vicious one. At first, the Life Drain spell seems really great — it deals the highest damage in the game, doesn't take too long to cast and completely bypasses any protection an enemy may have. And it really IS great for the majority of the game. And then you come to the final two bosses. Not only are they some of the worst difficulty spikes in a game, they're also completely immune to this spell. Since you likely sunk all your skill points into this spell, what with it looking like a gamebreaker, you'll be left with at least one useless character. Since combats are luck-independent in The Spirit Engine, you may have rendered your game unwinnable.
    • Fortunately the skill system is set up so that unleveled skills are still ok if used in an appropriate situation, and you can't put more than half your points in one skill (unless you count putting the rest in HP/MP). The shield spells are still useful for the semifinal boss and the final boss's first and third forms. The problem is if you were so foolish as to rely on the spell that completely ignores armor as your main method of beating armor, because the final boss's second form has obscenely high damage resistance that half the game's attacks can barely dent, and shields are only useful as a backup plan if you fail to stop secondary attack—once. The game throws you a bone with The Cavalry showing up if you're losing with a strong attack... except there's no real way of protecting the guy and his health will not last through the battle. The author learned his lesson and in the next game the only boss that has damage soak higher than the stronger normal enemies is an optional fight.
  • Bombchu in the Game Boy Color Zelda games. In the N64 games they could sometimes be useful to hit far-off bomb sites that a normal bomb can't reach, and The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass made their use essential, but The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games? You'll never need them. Ever. They're completely pointless. Worse, you can only get them by completing ALL of one game and at least a significant portion of the other. By the time you get them, you don't need them.
    • The Bomblings in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess are equally useless...What they work best for (hitting far away or otherwise hard to reach targets) could be handled much more easily and quickly by just combining regular bombs with arrows for exploding arrows.
    • The Dominion Rod is the most useless of the dungeon items. It is only used in the Temple of Time and is used for exactly one more thing afterwards (after going through a long quest to get the thing working outside the Temple of Time). However, when it is used, it can pack some serious damage to enemies thanks to the living Armos, but it only really works inside the Temple of Time because the statues outside of it cannot attack.
    • Also in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is Farore's Wind. Pretty easy to find some time before the Time Skip occurs, and its purpose is something of a save point in dungeons that let you teleport to almost any room you set it up in (almost like the Ooccoo in Twilight Princess about 8 or 9 years later), but it eats up a decent amount of magic, and it isn't very helpful in contrast to sheer patience or soft resetting. Worse, every single dungeon in Ocarina of Time is designed so that the boss's lair is near the entrance; only the Shadow Temple has any real resistance in between once you've solved all the puzzles. Thus, it largely fails to even save much time if you're trying to restock just before a boss.
      • Farore's Wind can be useful in cases where you need to get to a specific room quickly (like the room with the switch controlling the twisted corridor in the Forest Temple), or where you're prone to falling long distances or getting caught by a Wallmaster. It can also function as a puzzle Reset Button if cast twice in succesion. Sure, it's not useful in its most obvious purpose, but there are ways to put it to work.
    • In the same game, Nayru's Love. The spell makes Link invincible for a good solid minute, but it eats up a huge chunk of your magic meter. While the barrier is active, you can't use any item that requires magic such as the elemental arrows, the Lens of Truth, and other magic spells. Even Link's spin attack won't get the shockwave effect while the barrier is up. Since you get Nayru's Love near the Spirit Temple (which is the second to last dungeon in the game), you'll have very few, if any, uses for it and you can easily save magic power by simply farming for hearts or drinking potions to recover from damage, both which are loads cheaper compared to the expensive spell. The only time it's potentially useful is against Iron Knuckles, which do three hearts of damage per attack.
    • To complete the trinity, Din's Fire from the same game! Murder on your magic meter, check. Half the enemies in the game are immune to it, check. The Keese catch fire and aren't harmed, and can now roast you? Check. It's an awesome giant explosion of flame... that you'll never, ever bother wasting time and magic power to use. (Okay, there's this one place where you need it to light all the torches at once...)
  • Age of Pirates 2: City of Abandoned Ships contains a particularly egregious example. In one of the most involved and lengthy quests you can eventually gain a special item that allows you to resurrect any of your companions who get killed in combat (and who, given the game's relatively realistic setting, would otherwise be gone for good). Sounds great, except for the fact that raising them makes all items in their inventory disappear, which means that, assuming you can even carry all that additional weight, you have to loot the corpse first before you resurrect your companion, and afterwards give all the stuff back to the crewman in question, and all that in one of the worst inventory systems ever conceived in a computer game. In short, rather than actually use the ability it's easier to choose the lesser of two annoyances and simply load a saved game, hoping the bugger won't die this time.
  • Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver has glyph spells. They're only attainable by completing increasingly complicated side-levels (some of which would be nigh-impossible without a strategy guide). Since the bosses are all puzzle-fights (figure out their one weakness, which always involves environmental weapons), the glyphs are useless against them. In addition, the "magic points" necessary to use them are limited and hidden. On top of that, only two of the 6 glyphs could consistently kill normal enemies. The only reasons to actually use them are laziness (they restrain/kill enemies in a large area), gratification for completing the ridiculous puzzles necessary to find them, and because they look cool.
  • The Cure and Detoxify spells in Ragnarok Online. The former cures Blind, Confusion, and Silence, while the latter cures Poison. Both spells are covered under a single, dirt-cheap, Green Potion purchasable at Tool Dealers in almost every town.
  • Thrown rocks in Ancient Domains of Mystery are an inversion of this: even to low-level player characters, they are usually just a nuisance, while they remain a very useful weapon for player characters of every level. The latter is because missile damage in ADOM is primarily dependent on the fixed damage bonus that grows with experience, with negligible hit dice (1d4 for rocks) from the missile itself.
  • Any magic spell in Ys IV: Mask of the Sun and Ys V. And you can't use magic at all in the latter's boss battles.
  • Elemental spells and weapons become less useful as your reach higher levels in Infinity Blade since most enemies will have some elemental resistances. The God King will become immune to everything after beating him once making Healing the only magic worth using against him. Appropriately enough, this means that the eponymous Infinity Blade, which deals more non-elemental damage than any other weapon in the game, is the best weapon to use against him.
  • Disgaea and healing spells. They are useful for much of the game (the entire story mode, for example), but as soon as you start getting into the post-game, battles tend to be an offense only affair. Eventually both you and the enemies will be so powerful that any attack will kill in one hit (advantage yours, since you go first), and in-combat healing is meaningless.
    • For the same reason, defensive buff spells. Shield is useless late-game, since no matter how high you get your DEF you still can't take hits. Magic Wall is likewise unnecessary, since RES acts like DEF for magic spells (and boosts healing magic, which as stated above is useless). Speed Boost gets a pass, since SPD is a damage dealing stat for Fist and Gun users, and enemies who miss you entirely are still a possibility. Offensive buffs in general remain handy.
  • In Holy Diver, the Blizzard spell is most useful for temporarily freezing Lava Pits, but it also freezes some types of enemies. Most later enemies, let alone bosses, are immune to this secondary effect.
  • Power bombs in Metroid Fusion had their usefulness reduced. While still incredibly powerful against enemies, you don't need them to progress like in other Metroid games — their sole use in exploration is to find more power bombs. Metroid: Zero Mission doesn't make them much better, as the one obstacle they seem necessary to pass (blocks in the path to the Final Boss) can be skipped entirely through a hidden tunnel; once again, their only other real use is finding more items.
  • Bowser's magic spells in Super Mario RPG are mostly worthless due to Bowser's magic power being the lowest out of everyone in the party.
    • Princess Toadstool's final spell, "Psych Bomb" is also a waste. The Princess' greatest skill is healing — there are very few situations where it's worth wasting her FP on an offensive spell.
  • Avadon. Nearly all debuffing abilities(and there's a heck of a lot of debuffing abilities there) almost never work on bosses. Take stun, for example — sure, you can easily stun a grind mob with it (only why would you want to? it's faster to simply kill it), but when it comes to a boss (e.g. to a situation where you really needed) your chances are abysmal. You stun them occasionally, but it's totally not worth it. And same goes for the acid, poison, slows and other debuffs. Buffs are also not that useful since, once again, you don't need them versus common creeps and when it comes to bosses, tough ones, it is usually more efficient to use buffing scrolls\crystals\potions. Summons also don't do much to bosses, they can't even hope to tank them.
  • The Monster Hunter series has Armor skills that fall under this. Increasing your max HP or stamina is pretty much useless as not only are there easily acquired items to do just that and possibly more, eating food before heading out on a hunt can also do this. You're gonna eat before every hunt, and unlike every other food effect, getting HP or Stamina doesn't depend on the combination of food but rather the level of food (for stamina) and the stars that appear on the menu (for health). If you levelled up the canteen a few times, you'll rarely even have use for the items that do these, let alone ever present armor skills.
    • Some people view Mind's Eye as this. The Armor Skill prevents your weapon from bouncing off an enemy regardless of sharpness. It may be useful earlier on if you don't have access to higher sharpness weapons or sharpness increasing skills, eventually it'd be better to just increase the weapon's sharpness level as there are very few monsters, and of these monsters only a few certain body parts that deflect weapons regardless of sharpness. You're gonna sharpen your weapon once it decreases anyway due to the lower damage output as well as the fact that a deflected weapon strike does not actually decrease the damage you do with the attack, only preventing you from comboing (unless you're using a hammer in which case it actually lets you combo faster than if your attack went through completely) and leaving you more open than a non-deflected attack (which is less of a problem once you learn a monster's patterns). The only real problem that results from deflected attacks is that the cause weapon sharpness to decrease faster, but giving your weapon another level of sharpness means you can let the weapon drop more levels before sharpening, which in the end means you'll end up sharpening your weapon LESS than if you didn't deal any deflected attacks at all. Plus, the required sharpness to attack a body part without the attack deflecting decreases to the point that you probably won't worry about deflected attacks once that part is broken, which will happen if you're attacking the deflecting body part enough to worry about your attacks being deflected.
    • There are quite a few food effects that help out on quests that don't do with hunting a monster, such as helping when carrying something or climbing a wall. These quests are few and far between as the focus of the game is hunting. Thankfully, as food effects, you can choose them with those quests and then just forget about it.
  • The early Quest for Glory games generally do a good job of keeping the various utility spells useful. By the later games, particularly in Quest for Glory V, the focus shifts increasingly, if not totally, to the combat magic, making the utility spells such as Fetch and Open much less useful. Probably the the best example of this trope however, is Juggling Lights. It's needed precisely once in the entire series: during the mage duel with the Leopardman Shaman in Quest for Glory III, and otherwise serves no real purpose. It can also be used on one screen of Quest for Glory IV, but this usage is entirely optional. Thermonuclear Blast can also be considered this, as when cast it destroys everything within a 10-mile radius, including the Hero. It can be used in the confrontation with the Dragon of Doom in Quest for Glory V, but results in a Non-Standard Game Over.
    • The Paladin's danger sense as well. Usually when it triggers it's only a vague and undefined warning and the player is aware they're in a dangerous place or situation without needing it (since this is a Sierra game, that covers about 90% of the game screens). On the rare occasions where it does provide a specific warning, the danger is generally blindingly obvious.
  • PAYDAY 2 has several class skills that are either too situational or worthless to be of any use:
    • The Mastermind's Stockholm Syndrome lets you use civilians to revive you if you go down and acing the skill has civilians give you ammo when they revive you. The skill becomes completely useless in levels that do not have civilians in them and if you do manage to have civilians around, they cannot be tied down in order for them to revive you. Considering that SWAT tend to rescue civilians fairly quickly, you will barely get any use out of the skill.
    • Dead Presidents for the Ghost tree boosts the value of loose valuables that you steal. Handy in the start of the game when you're hurting for money, but you'll quickly gain lots of money from your paydays, making the skill useless.
      • Lucky Charm in the same tree did nothing but slightly boost your chances of scoring a rare item drop. What makes this more infuriating is the skill is at the very top of the tree, requiring you to spend a ton of skill points just to get to it. The skill was eventually replaced with a slightly more useful skill called Camera Loop, which scrambled a camera for a few seconds so you could sneak past it. However, you could only disable one camera at a time and the skill becomes worthless once stealth fails.
  • Fever mode in DJMAX Technika 2 and 3. Activating it converts all green MAX hits during its activation period to rainbow MAX hits, and a rainbow MAX is higher than a green MAX...by 1 point...out of 300,000. Therefore Fever is only ever useful if you are capable of getting a Perfect Play (all MAX hits in the chart, rainbow or otherwise). To add insult to injury, activating Fever requires tapping a button in the top right corner of the screen, which can distract you, causing you to get a COOL or worse in the process, thereby rendering Fever useless for the remainder of the song.
  • Inverted in The Dark Spire. At lower levels, damage spells are almost worthless, but the sleep and armour spells for the Mage and Priest, respectively, practically trivialize encounters. This is also inverted at higher levels in spite of having good damaging spells because all ailment spells have a very good chance of activating and crippling an enemy group (if not every enemy in the battle). And the instant death spells? They're high level because they work.
  • In earlier early access builds in Darkest Dungeon, this was a problem. Attacks that only applied Bleed/Blight were not worth using because straight-up damage killed things more effectively, and in a game where every turn counts, this was important. Many non-defensive self-buffs were also a problem for the same reasons: except for boss fights, it wasn't worth wasting a turn and get hit to gain a slight damage boost. An update fixed this issue by adding PROT (which damage over time effects ignore) to some enemies and lower their HP in return and either make self-buff skills even better or add more utility to them (Example: the Highwayman's "Take Aim" was changed to a "Tracking Shot" which added some damage with the same buffs). The inclusion of corpses also indirectly buffed Bleed/Blight since enemies that died from them don't leave one.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution several of the augmentations really aren't worth wasting your precious Praxis Points on.
    • The Analyze augment lets you see how likely you are to be detected hacking a distant node and what its contents are. Fortify lets you make your captured nodes more resistant to the computer kicking you out. In both cases it's more practical to just focus on the Hacking Stealth augment, which ups the odds of you being able to completely hack the computer and get everything you want without the computer ever realizing what's going on.
    • The Stealth Enhancer lets you see a guard's cone of vision, how much noise you're making as you travel and where the guards are. The Cooldown Timer lets you know how long it'll be before a guard will stop looking for you and return to their patrol. In both cases it's less expensive and does the same thing if you just remain in hiding until they give up, watch their actions on your radar and remain crouched so you don't make noise anyway.
  • Due to the sheer amount of weapons it's featured over the years, Ratchet & Clank has encountered this with more than a few of them.
    • Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando manages to feature several, thanks to not really cutting any weapons out during development:
      • The Hoverbomb Gun, which fires a floating mine that deals a colossal amount of damage. The catch? The bomb moves incredibly slowly, and to direct it over obstacles, Ratchet has to stand still. The upgraded Tetrabomb does nothing to improve this, firing five mines instead of one. While this gives it a higher damage output per shot than even the mighty RYNO, the slowness of the mines renders it practically useless.
      • The Spiderbot Glove can be quite useful in pre-emptively striking enemies before they're aware of you, but doing this will cause them to notice you, and many enemies aren't killed by the spider. More than this however, the terrain will prevent the spider from getting to enemies in the first place, as it cannot jump. Thankfully, the upgraded Tankbot Glove gives the spider a turret and bomb lobber.
      • Most infamous of all is the Zodiac. It has a high damage output that annihilates any and all enemies in one shot, turning them to ash. The downside? This only applies to any visible enemies; anybody not on screen or hiding behind something is not affected. Bosses aren't affected in any situation. It also locks you in place while firing, fails to fire if you take damage before it shoots, and can't be fired while in the air. Making this worse is the fact that it's more expensive than the more reliable RYNO, it only holds four shots, and each shot costs 10,000 bolts at the vendor. Ouch.
      • The Lancer gun you get in this game does wonders early on, however the power stays very low and doesn't improve much at all during the course of the game. Meaning that the gun really just exists to waste ammo.
    • Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction:
      • Combat Devices in suffered this due to one crucial flaw: none of them could earn XP, which is better used on the Weapons that can, and thus nobody used them. The only Devices to subvert this were the Groovitron, as it didn't damage enemies to steal XP, and Mr. Zurkon, who back-sassed enemies and thus provided comedic value.
      • The Predator/Raptor Launcher fires multiple small missiles that lock onto an enemy. Unfortunately, the missiles don't deal a great deal of damage, take a while to fully lock on (especially once fully upgraded), and run out of ammo quickly.
  • In Demon's Crest, Firebrand can equip spells to special vellums he finds in levels: Shadow, Hold, Imp, Quake and Death. Of those, only Death is even remotely useful as a means of crowd-clearing, but DC isn't the type of game which throws lots of enemies at you all at once, still leaving spellcasting incredibly situational and largely pointless.
  • Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier has several upgrades that allow your non-combat Eco powers to do damage (in the case of Eco Construct's upgrades, they improve its damage). The thing is that even with all of these upgrades, these powers are less practical than your guns, melee attacks or Eco Amplifier (the power that is intended for combat). Eco Shield requires you to ram into enemies with your shield, which is difficult since the shield makes you move like a hamster ball and the shield takes damage in the process. Eco Construct requires you to stand still when you use it, becoming a sitting duck for enemy attacks. Eco Rocket Jump only affects nearby enemies.
  • BlazBlue: Yuuki Terumi's Venomous Bite super is a counterattack that does a lot of damage, is active for a very long time and has less positioning issues that most counters because Terumi walks forwards while using it. However, it ends in a long period of vulnerability and it doesn't counter lows, throws, aerial attacks, crossups or rising attacks like Inferno Divider. If that sounds like the majority of most character's movesets, that's because it is. The real kicker is that it consumes super meter whether you land it or not, and Terumi has five other super moves so there's always likely to be a better use for that resource.
  • Starbound has the unused Invisibility buff, what does it do? It makes the entity invisible, making players unable to see you. The effect is purely cosmetic; NPC's, monsters, security cameras, and everything (except other players, and yourself) can still see you. To add even more insult to injury, other players can see the name over your head with the press of the 'Highlight Interactibles' button. Huh? Your name is a space or ^reset;, and therefore invisible? The command '/debug' reveals the hitboxes of everything on screen. Also, the invisibility effect lasts for 5 seconds.
  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has the Healing power. Even maxed out, it will drain all your MP to only heal you for a few hundred health at best. It's outright useless in an actual combat situation and generally not worth it anywhere else unless you don't mind waiting around for ten minutes use it repeatedly. And even then it's often easier to just find a save room.
  • Eternal Darkness has a few spells that have little use, even in the right situations:
    • Bind is a spell that forces an enemy to turn against other monsters. Whole cool in theory, it is unlikely that the monster you manipulated will actually kill anything due to how slow enemies attack in general. The spell is found at the very end of the second to last chapter (though you can cast the spell much earlier if you know how) and it's only used to cause two Horrors to fight each other so the barrier they make disappears.
    • Reveal Invisible reveals things that are invisible. The spell is only used for a handful of hidden doors and other items, but if you cast it with the Mantorok rune, it makes you invisible instead.
    • The summon spells (Trapper, Zombie, and Horror) can be used to summon creatures and use them under your control to fight other enemies. Controlling the monsters is somewhat clunky and it's simply faster for you to kill enemies yourself. The summons spells of each flavor are only needed a few times to solve puzzles.
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