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"Firstly, you must find.... ANOTHER SHRUBBERY!" {{[[[Scare Chord]] chord}}]

Some video games have Unlockable Content -- be it new characters, new gear, new levels, new play modes, or whatever else. Most of the time, unlocking the content is all you have to do. But every once in a while you'll run across a game that requires you to not only perform some feat to unlock the new item; you then have to perform a second feat (or pay some sort of in-game currency) to actually receive the item. The first unlock just informs you that the item exists (and usually what you need to do to get it), or otherwise makes the second lock available to you.

This is a particularly frustrating form of Unlockable Content, since the excitement of revealing a new element of the game is somewhat dampened when you find out that you still need to jump through hoops (sometimes literally) to actually use the hard-earned prize.

The pure version of this trope has one condition to reveal the prize and another to unlock it. There are a few decent reasons for a developer to do this, the most common being that the existence of the prize in question would spoil something in the game. Once that part of the game is completed, the prize can be safely revealed, but that doesn't mean the player has earned it yet.

There are other variations that have no reveal condition:

  1. A visible prize with a normal unlock condition, upon being unlocked, suddenly reveals another, previously unmentioned, unlock condition. The Monty Python page quote is an example of this variation.
  2. A prize actually has only one unlock condition -- but achieving that condition requires you to unlock something else, and doing that requires something else, etc. It's a Chain of Deals with unlockables.
  3. The prize is put on sale after fulfilling a condition. Now you have the privilege of spending your in-game money (or worse) to unlock it.

See also: You Shouldn't Know This Already, New World Tease. In a worst case scenario, there is a Bonus Feature Failure at the end of the road.

Examples of Double Unlock include:


  • Call of Duty Black Ops has this for its multiplayer. You have to reach a certain level requirement to unlock a gun, or meet certain conditions to unlock a perk's Pro version. In both cases, you still need to spend COD Points on the gun or perk to actually obtain it. This is somewhat balanced by actually making guns available earlier than they usually would be in earlier games, and whenever you buy any given weapon, all of its attachments are immediately available for purchase.
  • Rhythm Heaven's guitar lessons are unlocked by beating a guitar mini-game. However, each song requires a number of medals to actually play, and at the point the mode is unlocked, you probably won't have enough medals for even one song.
    • Battle of the Bands is unlocked for finishing the game. It consists of two modes, both of which require an A rank on all the guitar lessons for that mode, which, as mentioned, takes medals... a lot of them.
  • Hundred-Percent Completion in Crash Team Racing requires all 18 relics, which merely requires a solid time trial time in all 18 races. In an example of variant #2, one of the races is only unlocked by getting all 5 gems. Gems can be earned in cup races, which themselves are locked until you get 4 CTR tokens for each, and you need two out of four Boss Keys to even access the room with the portals to the cup races.
  • The unlock systems in Kirby Air Ride and Super Smash Bros. Brawl skirt with this. The way it works is that when you complete a "challenge" in those games, the surrounding challenges are revealed, and certain challenges unlock prizes when completed. It never reveals the prize itself ahead of time though, only a silhouette which you can probably use to tell what kind of unlock it is.
    • Also, some challenges only say "Complete ????" when the thing to do isn't even unlocked yet. Though revealing the challenge isn't a prerequisite to unlocking it; it'll open if you fulfill the challenge even without knowing what it is. Since the board starts out blank, some of the challenges are simple things you're bound to do fairly quickly, thus starting the cycle.
    • Sega used the same method for Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog at the Olympic Winter Games.
    • Kid Icarus: Uprising has a similar system, but one type of challenge reward is a straight example of this trope: when you see "Weapon Unlocked: [Weapon Name]" it means that it's now possible to get said weapon via Item Crafting or a Random Drop, but the unlock itself won't give you the weapon. The exception is the Zodiak Chambers, which give you both the weapon and the ability to make more.
  • Mario Party 7 had the King of the River mode. Basically, you just play mini-games, one after another, against computers, until you've made it through. Just spent your hard-earned points on it? Hope you've played all the mini-games that appear in it, because letting you play a mini-game here before playing it elsewhere would just be asking for too much.
  • Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 had a triple unlock... you had to unlock the fact that a bonus existed (seriously), then the right to buy it, and then actually purchase it.
    • Not just Extreme 2. Super NOVA and Super NOVA 2 had double unlocks at minimum: to attain certain songs, you'd have to complete other songs in "Master Mode" with challenges that range from pointlessly simple (such as "get a D-rank on this easy song") to insanely hard ("beat this really hard song with all the notes switched around, flowing in reverse, shaped like bumble bees, and accelerating as they approach the hit zone") -- or you could just play the standard game for a long time to gain the unlocks instead. But that would only unlock the appearance of the song in the shop. You'd then have to buy the songs with in-game credits. And unfortunately, gaining credits is done by making a high rank on a song (with no multiplier for difficulty), which means the best way to gain credits is to replay the easy songs until you're utterly sick of them and ignore the harder songs that require more work for the same reward.
  • Though Microsoft's Beyond The Limit: Ultimate Climb is set in the American Southwest, you can unlock a room that purportedly leads to an Arctic world. However, there is no way to unlock that world within the game and the would-be expansion pack was never released.
  • Pump It Up: NX 2 and NX Absolute has this if the player uses a USB stick to save their profile. Through the game's mission mode, you unlock various remixes and extra charts. This merely makes them show up in the song select screen; once you actually try to play the songs, you find that you must pay milage (the game's equivalent of experience) to be able to play the charts.
  • In DJMAX Portable 2, you can unlock different user interfaces, characters, and note skins...which you must purchase with gold earned from playing songs. Some of these items require you to pay many, many songs' worth of gold. DJMAX Fever, based off of Portable 2's engine, alleviates this somewhat by making them much cheaper.
    • And in DJMAX Trilogy, this unlock system applies to songs as well. And not just that, in order to unlock them in Free Play mode, you must, after purchasing them, play them in Stage mode.
  • Resident Evil Outbreak has the typical Concept Art Gallery, bonus modes and Secret Characters to purchase with points earned from playing the scenarios.
  • F-Zero GX also requires purchasing things in a shop after you have 'unlocked' them. Unlike other examples, currency is absurdly easy to come by.
    • Especially if you are fortunate enough to live near an arcade with F-Zero AX--take your memory card to the machine and play a few rounds. Guaranteed currency for finishing a race.
  • The Dreamcast port of Capcom vs. SNK had quite a few double unlocks. Most egregious: To unlock the secret characters Nakoruru and Morrigan, you had to first buy all of the extra colors of the characters from the respective companies. This allowed you to buy Nakoruru's (for SNK) and Morrigan's (for Capcom) "shadows", which meant that you could fight them in the middle of a tournament if your scores were high enough. Only after defeating both of them in the aforementioned manner and after buying the EX versions of their respective companies' characters could you buy them and unlock them for play. Playing as the game's True Final Boss, Akuma, required a repeat of the process -- buying Morrigan and Nakoruru, unlocking Akuma's shadow, getting to Akuma and winning against him in the final fight, and finally buying him. For those without the Neo-Geo Pocket and a copy of SNK vs. Capcom: Match of the Millennium, these requirements were onerous and grinding indeed.
  • The WWE SmackDown / SmackDown vs. Raw series has a bit of this. The run of games from 2006 to 2008 required achieving things to unlock (most) of the legends, after which they could be purchased in the game's shop. Most egregious, though, is the fourth game, Shut Your Mouth - in it, in order to play as Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, or X-Pac in the story mode you had to first get through about a year's worth of playtime until their role popped up, then win at certain shows and choose to unlock each of them when given a set of choices. The problem being they were unlocked from the start for exhibition play anyway.
  • Excitetruck and Excitebots have a lot of this. The designs for some of the bots are a double unlock hidden behind a triple unlock. First, you need to 1) finish the regular difficulty to reveal the shadows of the bots, then 2) earn enough lifetime stars to reveal the bots in full, then 3) have enough stars on you to purchase the bot. Secondly, you need to 1) play 15 races with the unlocked bot to reveal the special design for it, and 2) get 25 S-grade finishes, which don't start counting until you reveal the design.
  • Soul Calibur IV has this. Upon getting so many achievements/Honors, a you'll unlock the ability to purchase more equipment for Character Creation. Likewise, clearing a character's story mode unlocks the ability to buy their Ultimate and Joke weapon.
    • Though to be fair, the game gives you another option: Character Creation equipment could also be unlocked by fulfilling certain conditions on certain floors of the Tower of Lost Souls. If you already unlocked and bought that piece of equipment by earning the achievements/Honors, the floor reward becomes that piece's value in gold. Most players found the achivements/Honors option much easier, as the Tower was punishingly difficult without skill and the proper equipment setup.
    • Soul Calibur 3 does this with its weapons and certain gallery items, requiring you to beat someone using the weapon is Tales of Souls or completing the same mode as a character to make the respective items available in the shops. SC 4 also inherited the part about unlockable character design pieces from here. SC 3 is kind enough to give you new characters and stages upfront when you beat them once, however.
  • In Tokimeki Memorial Drama Series Vol. 3 : Tabidachi no Uta, if you happen to have Data saves with cleared games of the first two games in the Drama Series, Nijiiro no Seishun and Irodori no Love Song, and thus want to see the unlockable special Bonus Scenarios linked to them available in Tabidachi, you need first to complete either of Shiori or Miharu's routes with a Good Ending, as it's the condition to unlock Tabidachi's Omake section, where the Bonus Scenarios lie.
  • The first Drawn to Life loves this. When you get an item in a stage, it says you unlocked it, only for it to appear in the shop. And unlike many games, there's no really quick way to earn a lot of coins, meaning it's quite an annoying task.
    • To add onto that, one of the items that's found in stages is the animation bubble, which lets your character do a little Easter Egg pose when purchased. Except you have to find THREE of them in different levels before one appears in the shop for about quadruple the price of most other items.
  • In Monday Night Combat, you earn Pro Tags by accomplishing various actions during gameplay, but you still have to buy them to make the usable.
    • Pro tags have no actual purpose beyond selecting one to appear next to your name. Once you buy the custom classes (which, technically, you could buy one of and just recustomize each time you want to change classes, taking probably less than an hour to get), money has no purpose other than to buy pro tags.
  • In the Facebook game Crazy Planets, some of the medals involve having all the robots in a level be frozen at once. However, the only weapon that freezes robots is the Ice Rocket, which is a weapon you must build. And to build it, you have to collect the necessary gems and metals. At least the other weapon-specific challenges involve the two you start the game with (Bazooka and Grenade).
  • Final Fantasy Tactics a 2 has your characters learn skills from your equipment. To get the better quality equipment, you turn in loot at the bazaar, which gives you the ability to buy that particular piece of equipment. For the most beneficial equipment, turning in a set of loot only lets you buy that item once; when you want more than one of said item, you have to turn in another loot-set.
    • Most of the advanced job classes also fall under this trope. To be able to use a different job, you need to master abilities from another job that is required. To get the more advanced jobs like Master Monk and Assassin, you have to complete missions related to these jobs so that you can unlock the said jobs, and then you start mastering abilities from other jobs as normal in order to gain access to the job. This was done to prevent players from entering a Game Breaker territory by getting advanced jobs way too soon, something that Final Fantasy Tactics Advance had problems with.
    • Speaking of the Assassin class, the Assassin job itself is a double unlock. To be able to become an Assassin, you have to master abilities from the Sniper and Elementalist jobs and those two jobs also require abilities from other classes. Some players prefer to wait until they can hire a Viera into the clan and hope the new recruit is an Assassin by default.
  • Beating New Super Mario Bros Wii unlocks World 9. But only the world, if you actually want to *gasp* play its levels, you need to get all the Star Coins in every world (Each world unlocks one level). Have fun.
  • In order to unlock the ver last mission in Super Mario Galaxy 2, you must both get the normal star in Grandmaster Galaxy, get the Comet Medal in it, and deposit 9999 Star Bits in the bank located in the Face Ship.
  • In Donkey Kong Country Returns, beating the final boss reveals the game's secret world, the Golden Temple. It only has one level, and if you want to play it, you need to get the eight orbs from the Nintendo Hard hidden temple levels. Which themselves require that you get all the KONG letters in the other levels. To go even further, in order to unlock the hidden dioramas, it's not enough to get all of the puzzle pieces in the aforementioned temples: The bosses must be defeated as well.
  • Much like the Tokimeki Memorial example above, Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn has an Old Save Bonus that allows you to read again the Support Conversations you unlocked on Path Of Radiance, the previous game (A good thing, since unlike the previous two games, Path Of Radiance lacked a support reviewer). However, in order to unlock the option you need to beat Radiant Dawn first.
  • Kirby's Epic Yarn turns this into a Chain of Deals. Dom Woole wants to build new apartment expansions but needs a hefty amount of beads, which you get by completing stages. The expansions create rooms that need to be decorated with certain pieces to attract tenants. To get the pieces you have to progress the plot to access the stages that contain the pieces you then need to find. Once the tenants arrive you play their minigame stages to get new fabric textures, but unlocking new minigame stages requires completing the previous minigame stages as well as being able to access the main game stages that the minigame stages take place in. Naturally, all the fabric textures are part of earning One Hundred Percent Completion. Whew!
    • In a much simpler example, some of the furniture pieces available for purchase only appear once you get far enough into the game, helpfully announced by the shopkeeper.
  • Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days has two examples; first, if you get one of the components for something you can synthesize, the recipe will appear in the menu and you can tell what you still need to get (often, something that won't be offered as either a mission reward or enemy drop for quite some time). Second, the Moogle shopkeeper will withhold items and synthesis recipes until the plot dictates that Saix inform you that you've been promoted.
  • The Armory in Halo: Reach reveals new armour permutations for your Noble Six at every rank milestone, but you can't actually use them unless you reach a higher rank and have enough credits to buy it.
  • A non-video game example: In order to win the million dollars in Wheel of Fortune, the contestant must:
    1. Land on the wedge, which is 1/3 the width of normal wedges and flanked by 1/3-size Bankrupts.
    2. Call a letter that's in the puzzle.
    3. Solve that round's puzzle without first hitting a Bankrupt.
    4. Win the game without hitting Bankrupt.
    5. Land on the $1,000,000 envelope (which replaces the normal top prize of $100,000) in the Bonus Round.
    6. Solve the puzzle.
Despite all those barriers, it happened. Once. Given how quickly it happened after the wedge was introduced, it's statistically probable that multiple million dollar envelopes were placed on the bonus wheel until they got a winner.
  • The second Digital Devil Saga game of the Shin Megami Tensei series uses this for its skill system. On the hexagon-shaped skill-screen, you have to purchase an available skill pack, then master it to unlock the skills around it. Then, you have to buy those and master them if you want to learn them, which in turn unlocks more skills to buy and master.
  • Final Fantasy XII's License Grid system. To equip a new item or learn a new ability, you must buy the item/ability from the store with Gil, then purchase the relevant License on the character's personal License Grid with LP. In another level of Double Unlock, potential Licenses are not revealed until you purchase the adjacent Licenses on the grid.
  • Everything in Dissidia Final Fantasy and its sequel is this. You beat the Story Mode? You just unlocked the ability to purchase new game modes, music, items, etcetera. Then, purchasing enough things will give you an Achievement, giving you yet another item.
  • Progress in Crystal Towers 2 is this almost exclusively. To use a level's teleport ring you need to physically reach it, which often requires a spell from another level, then meet the threefold entry requirements of a number of orbs, gems and keys, the latter being quite well-hidden.
    • Access to later levels requires the use of multiple spells granted by items which you build yourself. You must first find the hidden recipe, then collect the ingredients (some of which will need to be crafted themselves - or you could gather other collectibles to improve the rate at which they drop from foes), then finally use the synthesis machine in the middle of the castle. Then, assuming you can find the level, you must meet the aforementioned orb, gem and key requirements.
    • Several of the more obvious levels can't be reached until you've sacrificed copious amounts of your precious synthesis ingredients to open a path.
  • Beat Hazard has perks that you first need to earn points to unlock. And then you have to buy them with collected cash and finally you have to select to use a limited number of them. Of course, some perks are restricted to DLC buyers.
  • Ar tonelico 2 has a triple unlock. In order to get an IPD Reyvateil to help amplify your song magic, you must 1: Track her down and defeat her (And the high level IPDs are stronger than most bosses). 2: Go to a dive center and treat her illness (Sometimes requires an item before you can attempt it, making it possibly a quadruple unlock if you don't have or can't easily get the item in question). 3: After curing her, perform a unique and fairly pointless subquest to make her like you. Once that is done, you can visit her in her home town and she will agree to help you.
  • In Hello Kitty Roller Rescue, you unlock items for free, but aside from outfits you must buy them once they're made available.
  • White Knight Chronicles and its sequel stack many interlocking locks on you. Equipment, including the much-hyped Arc Knight, is restricted by level, guild rank, binding rank, available Dhalia, and available materials. Yet the game has no qualms about dangling its unattainable goodies in front of you and going, "You'll never get this! You'll never get this! LA LA LA LA LA!"
  • Solatorobo allows you to listen to any music you've heard and any cutscenes you've viewed...if you purchase them. Cutscenes can be purchased with in-game money (usually for 300-500 rings, which is quite cheap), but music must purchased using notes, which can only be found by climbing off your Mini-Mecha and collecting them from a phonograph or the oddly-musical hornweed plant.
  • In Advance Wars, Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising, and Advance Wars: Dual Strike, new maps, C Os, and outfits must be unlocked by progressing through the Campaign mode, then purchased in the in-game shop with the points won for completing Campaign and War Room missions. In a similar fashion, unlocking new units in the Campaign requires finding a map in one mission, then beating another one (sometimes with a time limit). Days of Ruin does away with the store, and grants the player the ability to use certain C Os in versus mode just by completing certain missions
  • As is tradition for the series, Inazuma Eleven GO has Loads and Loads of Characters of which most can be recruited as Optional Party Members, with some having various prerequisites such as having recruited another character first[1] or having reached a certain point in the story. But unlike previous games, some of the Post End Game Content characters in GO have some ridiculously byzantine requirements, such as items that can only be gotten from random drops or through local multiplayer, and characters which require up to three other characters to all be recruited first, each of which can require up to three more characters, and so on. To get Aphrodi, for example, you must traverse a ternary tree of depth 4 with 26 other characters. And also unlike previous installments, there's no Connection Map to chart all this out for you (and in previous installments, the Connection Map requirements were Boolean ORs instead of ANDs [2]). In short, it's a Type 2 taken Up to Eleven.
  • Unlocking bonus characters in Jet Set Radio Future is an extreme example. First, you'd need to find a cassette with a list of challenges on it. Then you'd need to complete all of those challenges, causing graffiti souls to appear. Collecting all of the graffiti souls would unlock a series of time trials, and after finishing all of those with a high enough score you would finally unlock a new character. If you wanted all the characters, you would have to do this for every stage.
  • The research upgrades in Mass Effect 2. You have to find the tech in the game (often having to buy it at a store), then you can use your raw resources to research it on the Normandy. It was a big Scrappy Mechanic, and didn't return in Mass Effect 3.
  • in Final Fantasy VII, some of the most powerful materia like Shield and Ultima have no abilities at all when you first get them and by leveling up those materia once, you can use their abilities (normally, every materia have abilities from the get go when you first get them). Until then, you have to deal with the heavy stat penalties that the materia imposes on you as you grind for AP to unlock the materia's potential.
  • Infinity Blade has a number of examples. You have to defeat the God-King to unlock the titular Infinity+1 Sword, but you still need to gather the necessary gold to buy it from the store, too. It's not THAT expensive, though. On the other hand, there's a full set of Infinity Plus One Gear that is unlocked by defeating the Bonus Boss and entering New Game+ - it's pretty much the best gear in the game, but it's LUDICOUSLY expensive, and all beating the Bonus Boss does is make it appear in your store to taunt you with its enormous price. And then there's the 'Black Edition' of that same gear, which is arguably even more powerful, though geared heavily towards a Glass Cannon setup - to unlock that, you have to enter Negative Bloodline mode, which automatically equips you with the gear but prevents you from changing any of it as long as you're in Negative Bloodline. Then reach Bloodline -10 to get an achievement, and return to the 'normal' bloodline by starting over from Bloodline 1. The uber-powerful Black Gear disappears from your inventory as soon as you return to normal play, but now you have the option of buying it from the store! For an even higher price than the ordinary Infinity Plus One Gear!
    • ...needless to say, the game allows you to buy gold with real money. One might argue that all that gear exists solely to tempt you into shelling out a few bucks for a big enough pile of gold to actually use them, since it'd take EPIC amounts of grinding to get otherwise.

Notes

  1. They don't need to be present; you just need to have recruited them at least once before, even if you've already dismissed them
  2. "you must recruit any one of these characters" instead of "you must recruit all of these characters"
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