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"I do not think we should, but some people think that everything in life should be handed to them. They are like dogs. That is why I have put in a new mode called 'Ninja Dog mode' just for them."
—Tomonobu Itagaki, when asked about making Ninja Gaiden easier.
"You cannot be bad at watching a movie. You cannot be bad at listening to an album. But you can be bad at playing a video game; and the video game will punish you, and deny you access to the rest of the game. No other art form does this."
—Dara O Briain, I Love Videogames
The concept that a game should require some kind of dedication from its players before giving them anything. All the fun and rewarding content must be earned, inaccessible until the player "proves" himself somehow. While it adds to the bragging rights of those who can handle the game on Harder Than Hard mode, it can be intensely frustrating who don't have the skill or time to master the game. This comes in two flavors:
Forced difficulty, in which the player can't make the game easier without screwing himself out of the game's full content.
Forced dedication, in which the player must spend large amounts of time or money on the game in order to have access to major content.
- Unlockable Content
- Especially when Double-locked.
- Magikarp Power
- Requiring One Hundred Percent Completion for a Golden Ending
- Randomly Drops with the mindset "anything remotely strong is ridiculously rare"
- Strong focus on "optional" costs and promotional items.
- Valuable event-only items you just have to be there for
- Level Grinding, especially if combined with items that have a minimum level requirement.
- Many forms of Fake Longevity.
Not this trope, but often confused with it:
- The game is just very hard to beat. That's Nintendo Hard.
- The game takes a while to get to any real gameplay. That's It Gets Better.
- Other players want you to be dedicated to the game. That's "Stop Having Fun!" Guys.
- A game is considered unfun or crappy BECAUSE you don't have to sweat your way through it. That's It's Easy, So It Sucks.
- Content that you wouldn't see on an average playthrough. That's probably an Easter Egg.
Note: So we don't go listing everything already covered in the subtropes, try to avoid listing things that don't have at least two aspects of this.
- Alien vs. Predator: Cheat mode essentially disables progress and your ability to save, and unlocking all the bonus levels requires you to beat the game in Director's Cut mode.
- Better yet, most of the cheats are just cosmetic changes and don't make the game easier, either. The console cheats, however, are fine to use.
- Enchanter has a nasty version of the first type, where you can use a single-use scroll to bypass practically any puzzle (and some of the puzzles are very difficult), but if you do, it makes the game Unwinnable, as you need the scroll for the endgame.
- Ever Quest, and almost every other MMORPG, features large amounts of level grinding, much of which is highly repetitive and against frankly unheroic opponents. There are also many very powerful items with low drop percentages, and almost all loot is random anyway.
- Nethack. Measures to prevent multiple save files. Magikarp Power... tons of it. A Golden Ending... exactly one. Randomly Drops... oh yeah.
- Pokémon: The strong Pokémon are always the rarest and hardest to catch, and it's the trope namer for Magikarp Power. Not to mention the Mew-equivalent legendaries that can only be obtained at special events.
- Those unique Pokémon are sometimes captured at low levels, resulting in a true debate: raise your creature as you want (though the later games let you re-teach your Pokémon moves that they've forgotten anyway) or simply because you like the grind, or start kicking butt right away?
- But those Pokémon you wasted hours trying to catch will probably be banned from tournaments anyway, and you'll have to spend hours EV training and chain breeding certain Mons not because they're the most powerful, but purely because they're optimal for countering the ones that other people use.
- In the essence, it enforces the ultimate factor in fun for Pokémon - there is no single ultimate mon so you have to keep changing it up to stay in the game.
- DJMAX Online required you to grind levels to play harder songs.
- The new "Quest" mode in Drummania V6 (and probably Guitar Freaks V6 also) presents challenges which award you quest ranking points. However, when you start off, all of the hardest quests are not accessible. If you can already clear difficulty-level 95 songs, have fun grinding the "Clear this level 30 song" quests until your rank is high enough to access the real challenges.
- Want to drive a fast, highly-tuned sports car in any Racing Game ever? Be ready to pay your dues in a stock VW Golf or similar car for a while. Or Bribe Your Way To Victory.
- Especially common with Korean MMORPGs, of which Mabinogi Fantasy Life is a classic example; with the intense Level Grinding only the start. Nearly all skills start as Magikarp Power, the best basic skills requiring months of training to be useful. Advanced skills require either Collection Quests rife with difficult to find random drops, or arduous story-based quests that often require high levels of unrelated skills to even attempt; and nearly all of both types include a Bonus Level of Hell (however, in most cases it is possible to skip this level by buying the item from another player, or gain assistance from higher-level players). Story-line quests also require a considerable amount of involvement from other players in order to complete; so you actually have to convince your friends, or more often random strangers, to help you out.
- Weapons and armour are also minimally effective without upgrades, which require a considerable amount of time and effort to aquire; and the best versions are often only available as random drops from bosses, or rewards from a Bonus Level of Hell.
- Spirit Weapons also suffer from Magikarp Power, and require a consider amount of time, and buying expensive in-game items or grinding for items to feed it, in order to make them useful.
- Not only do crafting skills require a huge amount of grinding to advance; but are often dependent on other skills, which can be similarly difficult and time-consuming. Examples are Potion Making, which requires ranking the Herbalism (and at higher levels, Exploration); Blacksmithing, which is much more difficult without a high level of Refine, Metallurgy, and Weaving; and Music, which combines 3 different skills -- Musical Knowledge, Composing, and Playing Instrument -- and both tedious grinding and difficult side-quests to level up.
- Although event-only items are typically not superior to in-game items, they're usually in very high demand for aesthetic reasons; and collecting and selling them can make a substantial amount of money for the player, at the expense of a lot of grinding, or Nintendo Hard gaming, or both.
- In many Touhou Project games: you want to see a good ending? Beat it without continues and/or on something higher than Easy mode. Considering the genre, that is asking quite a bit. Biggest example of this would have to be at the end of Embodiment of Scarlet Devil's 5th stage. If you beat Stage 5 on Easy mode, the boss literally mocks your character for using Easy mode, and your character proceeds to get embarrassed and leave. Game over. You want to see the final boss? Screw you! Play on Normal mode.
- Worse yet, the author specifically requested that his fandom never post any of the endings online (plot summaries yes, other cutscenes yes, just not the endings), and somehow this became the one issue on which the majority of the fandom actually listened to what he said. Not even YouTube or Google will save you this time.
- The slogan of Dwarf Fortress is "Losing Is Fun". There is a reason for this. A player's first few fortresses will probably end up dying of thirst, dying of hunger, dying of goblin, dying of unexpected megabeast, dying of flooding, dying of LAVA flooding, etc. if not all of them at the same time before they figure out the countless mechanics and start being able to actually enjoy the game.
- Dead Rising 2 is so proud of its opening cutscenes that if you try to skip the first one to get to the chainsaw-motorcycle-riding fun, the game punishes you by not only skipping that part of the introduction, but also the escape from the ensuing zombie outbreak. The game cheats you out of GAMEPLAY because you didn't want to watch a cutscene.
- Note however that the game has a big focus on (ab)using New Game+ and the intro can turn into a boring grind after a time or two. Skipping the most repetitive bit of the game as well as the intro cutscenes helps speed you along into a new loop.
- Goldeneye 007 and its spiritual successor Perfect Dark, unlike most games, require the player to actually earn cheats by completing missions under a certain time limit. Some are rather forgiving, others... *coughfacilitycough* will have you sprinting through the level, the guards peppering your back with lead only serving to propel you even faster. However, Goldeneye left in debug codes that you could put in and breeze through a level with no consequences. Shame on you. Unfortunately, there was no code to make Natalya invincible.