FANDOM


WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic

Super spin makes Superman stand still while spinning, letting enemies pummel him.

Heat vision sends out a laser with the range and power of an ordinary punch.

Super breath 1 looks like an ice crystal, and does absolutely nothing.

Sometimes a game includes a Power-Up that just doesn't.

In the worst case you grind, grind, grind, losing sleep and growing calluses. Every second day, a rare ingredient drops. When the final one drops, you combine them with trembling hands and are rewarded with a fancy glowing sword... that hits like a rubber chicken.

Some power-ups are easier to get than that. But lame power-ups always disappoint, and frustrate, in myriad ways:

  • Weapons that fire slowly.
  • An Enemy Scan that doesn't provide useful information (unless the enemy in question is immune to scans).
  • Movement that sure is fast but perfectly uncontrollable.
  • Stealth movement that is so slow the player dies of boredom.
  • Speeding or slowing time when you have no earthly need to do that.
  • Distraction devices that have to be used right in an enemy's face.
  • Powerful weapons that are impossible to aim.
  • Powerful weapons that also toast the player.
  • Complicated, advanced fighting maneuvers when straight-up Button Mashing will do.
  • An instant use upon picking it up, which almost never happens where it will have the best effect.
  • Something which replaces a far more useful ability.
  • Requires a peripheral not included with the game to be of any use.

Sub Tropes:

For the intentional version of this, see Poison Mushroom.

Examples of Power-Up Letdown include:


Action Adventure

  • The Golden Skulltula token collection quest in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. You spend pretty much all of the game collecting the tokens the stupid spiders leave behind, which sum up to a grand 100, and for what? An endless supply of huge golden rupees, worth 200. That's kinda useless in a game in which you barely ever buy anything because you get everything in the dungeons. At least it's not the only prize you get, because if it was, it would have been just plain cruel. The Stone of Agony is pretty much a slap in the face for the players who didn't have a Rumble Pak, though. The Stone is even worse on the Virtual Console release—the Virtual Console doesn't include rumble so the item does absolutely nothing!
  • Toejam and Earl has the rocket skates: Incredibly fast, hard to steer, impossible to stop. When used, they immediately launch the player directly south, regardless of what direction they were facing, and one can only change direction 90 degrees from one's current direction. The skates are fast enough that one can cover a lot of ground in the time it takes to do a 180, and it's easy to wind up flying over the edge and falling to a lower level... multiple times. While there is a time and a place to use them, that time and place pretty much consists of "when there is absolutely no worse place to be than where you are right now."
    • The rocket skates are actually probably an intentional Poison Mushroom.
    • You can control which direction you blast off if you're already moving when you open the items menu—the characters' idle animations are always turned towards the player.
    • The rocket skates can actually be used on the bottom level (mostly water) to reach a secret area. And then you can jump off the secret area and be teleported back to the highest level you were on.
    • The game has a few presents that can either be good or bad depending on the situation, complicated by presents being tough to identify.


Beat 'Em Ups

  • The Eyeclops helmet in Kid Chameleon has a default (green) beam that does no damage, but reveals invisible blocks, something that one can find for themselves through casual trial-and-error searching. Its secondary (white) beam does damage enemies...but only the Mooks you fight, only damages them the equivalent of one Goomba Stomp, and drains your gem total like candy. The only thing you might want from it is the extra unit of life it gives you, when there's no other Power Ups to be found.


Fighting Games


First Person Shooters

  • In Call of Duty: Black Ops, the Death Machine can be this. It's a helicopter turret you can walk around with... at a very slow pace, with a slightly faster killing time than other weapons, except it takes a bit longer to spin up than it does for most guns to aim down the sights and put three in your chest. It's even worse in Hardcore, where every gun is a one hit kill save a few at long range, so it doesn't even offer faster killing.
  • While the RPG Elements in Deus Ex were a lot of fun, many of them weren't very useful. Top (or, uh, bottom) among these would be environmental training, demolition, aqualung, run silent and energy shield. While some pointless items can be blamed on insufficient balancing in the campaign, the issue of which are best and worst is a hotly contested one. The devs seemed to be at least partially aware of this since they are cheap. Being so cheap, some of these marginal skills are worth a single rank for the improvement the first level gives you.
    • In the prequel Deus Ex Human Revolution many of the augments you can get are invaluable but others range from minor usefulness to the absolutely useless. An example of the useful is the opportunity to spend three Praxis Points to increase your energy bars from two to five. Unfortunately since you can only regenerate energy for the first bar there really isn't much point in getting all of them. An example of the useless is a hacking augment that allows you to see the likelihood of detection for hacking nodes not currently in range which you will never have a reason to use.
      • Actually, there IS a reason for those energy bar upgrades: those energy bars power your cloak, silent running, non-lethal takedowns, Typhoon, and x-ray vision. If you're doing a silent stealth run (and you have to to get 100% Completion), you need every bar you can get and an inventory full of nutrient bars to boot.
  • Blur Artifacts in Doom and Doom 2 when facing Imps. They make you harder to see, with the effect that monsters have a very poor aim when trying to shoot you. The problem is that most players will instinctively sidestep as soon as they see the Imp attack animation, and are more likely to dodge into a stray projectile than get hit by a projectile aimed straight at them.
    • Fortunately, not all is lost; against the annoyingly lethal Chain-gunners, the "Blur" significantly reduces their accuracy rendering them (and all bullet-shooting monsters) far more manageable when fought in groups. Also, it can be used decently against projectile monsters at a distance as long as the player only moves when a projectile is actually coming for their true location, but it still becomes more unpredictable the more monsters there are. A level designer may want to consider providing these power-ups in levels that contain many of these bullet-shooting enemies.
  • Fallout 3 has "Nerves of Steel", a level 26 perk that boosts your AP regeneration at a rate of 1 per 10 seconds - so inconsequential it took slow-motion analysis and careful reading of the game's code to ensure that the perk even works. Compare a level 20 perk, Grim Reaper's Sprint, that maxes out the player's AP every time they use AP to get a kill.
  • Blur Arifacts are also (see the Doom example above) dangerous in Heretic, since enemies generally fire multiple projectiles at once. D'Sparil, for example, will sometimes summon additional mooks. These mooks will launch a 3-way spread attack, and if D'Sparil summons enough of them, will cause an entire area to be carpeted in shots. Not using the artifact is safer, since they only aim directly at the player. However, when dealing with Undead Warriors, this artifact has some use since their thrown axes pass through you while you're ghost-like, making it act as a semi-invulnerability against them.
  • Mass Effect has the high explosive weapon upgrade, which basically makes guns into rocket launchers. The problem is that they also instantly overheat your weapons making them useless for a few seconds. That, combined with the fact that the game has these cool things called grenades, makes high explosives fairly useless. It also works well with the shotgun. Using explosive rounds and a few other upgrades give it an absolutely monstrous knock-back effect, without increasing the cooldown time beyond the maximum. And since it takes longer for your victim to stand up than it takes for your Über-shotgun to cool down... On a more short-term note, it's positively devastating with the sniper rifle, which very nearly overheats after every shot anyway.
    • Mass Effect 2 has the tactical nuke launcher M-920 Cain. Firing it ONCE requires so much heavy weapons ammunitions that firing it more than once in a mission requires a ton of ammunitions capacity upgrades and luck finding that much on the field. It also requires you standing still and exposed for several seconds, a risky proposition considering the threat level of the enemies you would want to use it against. Game tactics also render it useless on several bosses you would want to toast with it, and did we mention that it can obliterate Shepard if it explodes too close to him/her?
      • Not so much a "letdown" as it is very situational and best used by certain careers. The M-920 Cain in the hands of a Soldier using Adrenaline Rush can reduce the final boss to near slag within the first thirty seconds even on Insane difficulty.
  • Several of the actual powerups in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption are letdowns. In particular, beating the final Leviathan boss (Ridley, whose arrival is always a big deal) gets you the nearly useless Hyper Grapple.[2]
    • The Hyper Ball: as long as you don't spend Phazon or wait too long, you can freely move into and out of the invincibility-granting Hyper Mode without ever losing any health. Before getting the Hyper Ball, you can drop bombs that cost no Phazon while in hypermode. Without the hyperball, then, Morph Ball Bombs are essentially a way to deal damage while invincible. (This is a very useful property against Mogenar.) [3]
  • The Black Tarot cards in Painkiller tend to vary between Game Breaker and this trope, especially considering how difficult some of these cards can be to collect. Some of the worst of these include Greed (which doubles the amount of gold found in breakable items, but which in itself already costs 2000 gold to place) and Divine Intervention (which allows the player to place any cards they want for free, but can only be earned at the very end of the game on the highest difficulty, by which point the amount of gold at hand is probably not an issue, and unequipping the card instantly removes all of the player's gold to boot).
  • In Star Wars: Battlefront II, you would gain access to certain elite weapons after doing well enough as a certain class overall and then, in the middle of a match, doing enough of a certain action (like getting enough headshots with a sniper rifle) in a single life. In general, these weapons were very useful - the elite pistol is one of the most deadly weapons in the game, for example, and the remote controlled missile is useful for hitting weapon weak points from a distance - but others are not. Particularly, the laser sniper, which, while supposed to shoot through units into others, is undermined by the fact that its hit detection is fairly terrible - things that look like direct hits are often not, and this is not helped by the fact that the trail of the laser is much wider than the laser actually is, making it difficult to tell exactly where you hit. Even body shots are wonky, while headshots are completely out of the question, and in general, it's more effective to hit enemies with headshots one at a time then try your luck with the laser sniper. Unfortunately, snipers can't switch back to the regular sniper after having switched to the elite one - if you do so you have no choice but to either try your luck or kill yourself and respawn with the regular sniper, but, luckily, you don't have to use the elite weapons until you switch to them, meaning you can keep using the regular sniper by merely never switching to the pistol (leaving yourself relatively defenseless if ambushed) after activating the laser sniper.
    • The worst part of the laser sniper, however, is that it only has one level of scope zoom, unlike the regular sniper rifle which has two.
  • System Shock 2 featured an "exotic" bioweapon made from and reloaded with worms. It had two settings, one of which harmed annelids, one of which harmed humans, hybrid humans, or any other variation thereof... including you. It did a lot of damage, but that's not much consolation when only two kinds of enemies count as "annelids". As well, worms were extremely rare compared to other ammo, and with a certain implant, worms could be used to heal damage, which was usually far more valuable throwing them at enemies so long as you had any other weaponry at all.
  • Tron 2.0: Light cycle mode features a powerup that provides excessive, uncontrollable speed. The rub is it affects all players, not just the one who activates it. The computer's still better at handling it, though.


Maze Games

  • Put it this way: You're playing Bomberman Hero, and fighting Nitros for the fifth time. Once he's beaten, he'll reveal that he had been brainwashed and gives you his power. Does this "power" involve board-game-based attacks? No, it's extra bombs and blast radius. By this point you're likely to have max of both, and it's a one-time-only event.


MMORPGs

  • Tibia: A quest requiring the player to fight to the bottom of a dungeon of minotaurs rewards the player with an Iron Hammer. The hammer has no real sell value, and you can easily get a better for a few hundred GP.


Platformers

  • The throwing knife in every Castlevania game. It can be thrown faster than most of the other subweapons, but it does less damage than your whip, and in later games armored enemies are immune to it. The game also likes to stash these in candles just before a boss encounter, so you're stuck with the weakest weapon in the game before your fight. In Castlevania II, the Silver Knife has no use: sure, you could toss three at a time, which would be nice if it didn't do such ridiculously piffling damage. Couldn't do anything your whip, your other blades, or the Diamond couldn't do better.
    • Later games did give it a Death of a Thousand Cuts-like Item Crash called "Thousand Knives", that proves to be quite effective against most enemies. The only problem is that it keeps you stuck in one position while you're doing it, and it takes a long, long time to finish up, meaning you can't immediately cancel out and escape to safety if danger was imminent.
    • It can be useful early in Symphony of the Night. At low levels, hearts are something of a precious commodity, and attacking at range is very useful when the starter sword feels more like a knife. Also, an early almost-boss foe is very weak to all subweapons.
    • In Lament of Innocence the Dagger is outclassed by the other subweapons for most of the game... until you find the White Orb which turns it into a Game Breaker.
    • Once you unlock the Shooter job class in Circle of the Moon you can play as a Shooter to make daggers home in on enemies, which can actually be pretty handy, especially since the Shooter also does more damage with daggers than the other job classes. They still aren't as powerful as your whip, though.
    • The original style games had an occasional cross which killed almost every enemy on screen, and it's always placed where there are just a few enemies you can easily handle.
    • The axe subweapon on the other hand is extremely potent, but has such a high arc that most enemies will simply walk under it, making it completely useless at anything less than extreme range. It's fantastic for hitting flying enemies, however.
    • Maria in Rondo of Blood, to compensate for her many advantages, has a few absolutely worthless secondary weapons. She has the music book, which is like the throwing knife but with a less useful Item Crash, and an attack that sends two birds diagonally upwards—totally useless except in certain rare circumstances, although at least it has a useful item crash.
    • Order of Ecclesia features the Volaticus glyph, which is an awesome glyph that allows you to fly freely around the screen. So why is it a letdown? It's so damn late that you barely get to use it unless you do the Bonus Dungeon Large Cavern. And while in other games it might have been useful against Dracula, in Ecclesia he is more Genre Savvy and can actually stop you from flying with a flame pillar attack he'd otherwise never use.
    • Portrait of Ruin's Owl Morph also kind of reaches this - again, good in and itself, but it's not long after you get the Griffon Wing, which is a super jump, pretty much outclassing the Owl Morph in every way, so you'll use the morph like 3 or 4 times tops. Many of the upgrades in the DS Castlevania games get used about twice ever, or are quickly outclassed by another upgrade.
  • Earthworm Jim 2 features the Bubble Gun, which shoots harmless bubbles,[4] and the Barn Blaster, which kills everything on screen - as long as you're not hit during the five seconds you spend immobile trying to fire the damn thing. Not to mention that you probably won't have a chance to use the good stuff either - you can only actually use your guns in about half the stages in the game, and you lose them all if you die in any stage.
    • The bubble gun is worse on the Sega Genesis \ Mega Drive, which didn't have the button to switch weapons (at least not on the common 3-button controller).
  • In Flimbo's Quest, the Superscroll. The point is to replace all the scrolls required for a level and send you straight through to the next level. However, it costs 2500, and a scroll costs 400, and the most scrolls you ever need for a single level is 6!
  • The axe in Ghosts N Goblins is extremely awkward to use and isn't any more powerful than the other weapons. It passes through enemies on impact, which is a terrible thing because all it does is leave you defenseless against an oncoming monster. The biggest kick to the balls is in the NES version: one of the bosses is immune to it. Its only redeeming feature is that it's rare. The torch is has a shorter range (expecially in the later games), isn't any stronger than the other weapons, and if it touches the ground it will stand there and burn the ground, which is useful if enemies run accidentally into it but it also still counts as a bullet on screen, messing up with the weapong capping and leaving you defenseless against the other enemies.
  • The Kirby games have several examples:
  • Mega Man
    • Mega Man Powered Up: The Oil Slider; it is practically impossible to hit an enemy without taking damage yourself.
    • II: the Sakugarne is similar to the Oil Slider.
    • Mega Man 3: The Top Spin weapon is nearly impossible to hit with without also being a hittee. It's also got an awkward power consumption rate, costing energy for as long as you are in contact with an enemy and spinning. Most enemies will only drain one unit of power before they die, but Shadow Man's Mercy Invincibility means you could drain it entirely with one attack (which won't kill him). It can, however, one-hit KO the final boss, if you're lucky.[5] All the Mega Man games seem to have at least one mostly worthless power. Flash Man's Time Stopper, Gravity Man's Gravity Hold, Bombman's Hyper Bomb.
    • Mega Man 5 has probably the largest collection of poor subweapons in the series:
      • The aforementioned Gravity Hold: Hits the whole screen-for only a single buster shot's worth of damage; far outweighed by the energy cost.
      • Napalm Bomb: Travels in a too-short, wobbly arc.
      • Power Stone: Possibly the worst one of the bunch. The two rocks radiate outward so fast that it's nearly impossible to hit anything unless it takes up half the screen.
      • Charge Kick: Used via the slide, which makes it suicidal to use on ledges; if the weapon doesn't finish the enemy off, you WILL take damage when it ends.
      • Water Wave: A ground-based weapon that can only be used when you're touching the ground, and only does as much damage as a single uncharged shot from the buster.
      • Star Crash: This shield only lasts for one hit, or about two seconds, whichever comes first-meaning it's worthless for defense. It can be thrown, however, but only straight ahead. At least the Plant Barrier from 6 lasts until you leave the screen (if nothing hits you).
  • Mega Man Xtreme 2 has a borderline example: getting all four of X's armor parts will permanently cut the number of items you can equip in half. Since the head part is only good for getting the arm part (and you can just complete that part of the task as Zero instead), you essentially make yourself weaker by getting it.
    • X6: Defeating Ground Scaravich grants Zero the ability to perform a strong dive attack that cannot be cancelled, mapped to Up+Square. You will repeatedly kill yourself trying to attack enemies and grab ropes in the game's Platform Hell sections if you're foolish enough to get this. The only saving grace is that you can unlock the end game without defeating Scaravich. For added insult to injury, it turns out this technique, if you're using Zero, is Sigma's weakness after going One-Winged Angel.
  • Many Metroid games include murderously hard puzzles whose reward turns out to be nothing more than a small increase to your missile or Power Bomb capacity. Even worse, the designers of fan hacks like Super Metroid Redesign take this as a challenge.
  • New Super Mario Bros
    • The Mega Mushroom makes you huge and lets you stampede through the level without fear of losing a life—except that as you go, you break pipes in half. Nine times out of ten you screw yourself out of Hundred-Percent Completion that way. (At least the levels are replayable...) Either that or die anyway if the level terrain is weak enough that your hulked-out protagonist literally breaks through the floor. If you can manage to get one into a boss fight, though, you have a one-hit kill on your hands. Unless you face Bowser Jr, then he'll just bounce off you like the special needs kid he is and kick your ass once you revert.
    • One mushroom makes you tiny, which is good in that it allows you to enter areas that are otherwise inaccessible, increases your jump height and makes your jumps floatier and allows you to run on water... but slows you down considerably and makes it harder to stomp enemies, forcing you to use your Ground Pound to even damage normal enemies. It also reduces you to a 1-hit kill, so if you were Fire Mario, picking this up is actually worse than touching an enemy. Worse, if you want to get every bonus, you'll need to go some relatively long distances with the gimping tiny mushroom. Have fun.
      • One more thing - in order to get to the two hidden worlds, you are required to beat two bosses with the power-up, one for each world. One of them likes to hide in the ground and disappear before you can ground pound him, and the other flies. Fortunately, this can cheesed around a bit by keeping a Tiny Mushroom in reserve and fighting the boss normally until it's one hit away from defeat, necessitating only the last leg of the fight be played while tiny.
  • Sonic Adventure 2 had Magic Hands. Basically they allowed Sonic, after coming to a complete stop, to turn one of his enemies into a sphere, and then throw that sphere at another enemy - but to use it, you had to scroll through an action menu first to select it as an option, and thusly could only be used on an enemy that isn't attacking you. Plus, it was impossible to aim the throwing, and it didn't even have much range or do much damage. The default homing attack was superior in pretty much every way.[6] Another Power-Up Letdown is Mystic Melody. Not only was it extremely hard to find and wasn't hinted or mentioned once, but it could only be used for one thing: Completing a mission to earn Hundred-Percent Completion. All of those lives wasted trying to get a power-up for Eggman wasted!
  • Super Mario Bros 3 has the Anchor; using it just stops the airship in each world from moving around if you fail to beat it, which is pretty much useless, considering you've already cleared a path through most of the world getting to the castle, anyway. Also the "storable" invincibility star. Can only be activated before you enter a level, and as it wears off pretty quickly it's fairly useless unless you were having trouble with one of the first few baddies. Finally The Frog Suit makes traversing water easier, but everywhere else, its hops as opposed to walking makes it more difficult to control. It also prevents Mario from building up running momentum.
    • Using the star before entering certain levels adds more stars to certain ? blocks, making it possible to be invincible throughout those entire levels.
    • Also the star is useful if you're being vexed by hammer brothers, since you can easily kill them before the star wears out.
    • The Music Box, which puts the wandering Hammer Brothers on the map to sleep for two "turns". The wandering Hammer Brothers were fairly easy to defeat and you always got a power-up for doing so.
  • The good old Super Mushroom becomes this in Super Mario World. Why? Because you can still pick them up after gaining better stuff (whereas once you had a Super Mushroom in other games, you wouldn't get another one unless you became tiny again), and it will instantly replace the far more useful fire flower and cape feather power-ups you might have in reserve. The designers apparently noticed this too, since the game loves to constantly ambush you with free Super Mushrooms while flowers and feathers are usually only found in item boxes, effectively turning the Mushroom into another obstacle to avoid if you plan on keeping your better reserve power-ups.
  • Super Mario Land 2 Six Golden Coins has the Carrot, which gives Mario rabbit ears and let him fall very slowly and glide by holding the jump button. However, Rabbit Mario cannot spin jump, a very useful ability that really shouldn't be interfered with by his ability to glide.
    • Although it should be noted that tapping the button extremely rapidly effectively changes "glide" into "hover". You can essentially skip entire stages with the carrot (much like the leaf, and the feather.
  • Super Mario Galaxy has Spring Mario, which can jump really high but is a nightmare to control. And you lose it if you get hit, which doesn't help when you need it to fight a boss that fires sorta-homing projectiles at you. It gets you both ways: you're stuck with it until you get hit, so if after using it, you want to precisely navigate some narrow platforms, you need to find an enemy to run in to.
  • In Valis III, the Heroine, Yuko, has her sword's power "fully released" by Older and Wiser Nazetti with the implication that it will kill her. However, in reality all this does is give her a fancy new set of armor (which gives no in-game benefit), possibly to preserve game balance with the other two characters. This does not stop the difficulty from jumping up to Nintendo Hard, though.
  • Platformer Xargon: Beyond Reality has the hero start with a laser beam weapon. One of the upgrades to this is throwing rocks, and once you pick up the rock "powerup" you can no longer fire your laser. Fortunately, it resets at the start of each level. Also, if you've grabbed enough gems by the time you get the stupid rock, you can buy back your laser right away.
  • Both the earthquake staff and sundial spells in the movie video game Warlock are equally useless; the former causes a (normally non-damaging) earthquake that's only good for bringing down rock platforms or float crystals, and is really only mandatory to be used in one level. The latter has two uses: used as a normal spell, you get transported back to the spot you collected it in the level, allowing you to keep all the items you gathered up til then, while resetting all the items and enemies you encountered in the level before the sundial's use. If you die while you have it in your inventory, it acts as a One Up, letting you restart the level with all your items replaced by a single full regeneration spell. Since the game has a password system, the latter use for the sundial is, well, useless, while the game's sufficiently Nintendo Hard enough to be more prudent to just cut your losses and rush through the game rather than attempt to stock up every level.


Racing Games

  • For many races in Gran Turismo 4, your prize is The Alleged Car, and you sometimes lose more money upgrading or purchasing a requisite car then you earn for the race.
  • In the finale of the 2001 reboot of Test Drive, you get all your previous cars (including the Infinity Plus One Car Jaguar XJ220) taken away and replaced with the Infinity Minus One Car Ford GT40 which you have to race against a Viper Competition Coupe.
  • In all Wipeout games, you pick up weapons by flying over a weapons pad. Usually you simply have access to all weapons, but in Wipeout Fusion you would unlock weapons as you went. However, the enemies got them as well when you did. Really all you ever wanted was shields, turbos, missiles (all available at the start) and quakes (unlocked after beating one race). However, as you beat more championships, more weapons would be added... all of them either bad ones that would dilute the weapon selection (autopilot, mines, flamer, rockets) or ones that were amazingly good but were far more likely to be used against you (gravity-bomb). Worst of all, unlocking your team's superweapon would give everyone else on the track their super-weapon as well, which is just great when you're flying a Van Über whose super is a useless slow straight line projectile and end up unlocking your EG-R opponents' swarm weapon that removes half of your health and is completely inescapable.
    • A tactical example: the actual weapon powerups in the first Wipeout game, in particular the shield. There is a reason why the second game added a "drop weapon" key and ensured you couldn't get the same powerup several times in a row, and why recent titles do allow you to shoot out of your own shield. The first game didn't even have a health bar and weapons were highly ineffective on the player, so you were involuntarily giving up the ability to shoot in exchange for immunity from the occasional enemy weapon hit, often for long stretches of time if you kept picking up shields and more shields.
  • Mario Kart:
    • The blue shell, depending on the game. A powerful homing missile that fires straight for the player in first place... which is all well and good, but you generally only get it when you're 4th place or below. Half the time you use it the shell may completely screw over the person in first, but has no actual effect on its user's position in the race. However, in Mario Kart 64 and Mario Kart 7, it takes out any player that is in its path and then takes out the leader. In all other games in the series, the shell just focuses on the leader.
    • The Thundercloud item in Mario Kart Wii plays out as a double edged sword. If you get this item, it's used right away so you can't store it. Under its effects, you get a slight boost in speed and you can go off road without slowing down. However, if it goes off while it's on you, you shrink and lose speed. You can pass it to another player by bumping into them, but it sucks to be you if there's no one in sight.


RPGs

  • Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn gives you a bunch of nifty powerups right before the final battle, after the point of no return, based on your alignment. One in particular however, is very lame. Good players get immunity to all +1 weapons or less. At this point in the game, all you have left to fight are demons and a powerful mage, none of which use nonmagical weapons anyway. Then in the expansion, you go back to facing normal foes again, to discover the Mook infantry is armed with +3 weapons. So much for that.[7]
    • Though note, it makes you basically immune to all enemies except named ones,drow, giants, demons and dragons for all of the expansion pack, except for a handful of guards here and there. Also, if you activate it before finishing the trials, the trial of wrath is rendered harmless as he only has a +1 weapon. The massive Oasis in To B battle is a joke with that power, as only the commander has weapons that can hurt you. The abilities are actually more a play through perk then anything. Much like the stat manuals in the first game allowing you to have ridiculously high stats starting in BG 2, BG 2 had the hell trial abilities, which a fresh character in To B would completely lack, in addition to most of the best gear.
  • A depressing number of Perks from Fallout, Fallout 2, and Fallout Tactics fall into this category. An unnecessary number of Perks only give flat bonuses to skills (and you have more skill points than you know what to do with by level 12 or so). Others are incredibly situational (Silent Death has 6 separate prerequisites that have to be fulfilled for its double damage to take effect), useless in general (Adrenaline Rush maxes out the easiest stat in the game to max out normally, but only when you're on death's door), too weak to matter (Bonus Ranged Damage grants a measly +2 damage), or broken (one of which is ironically named "Break the Rules). In some cases, Perks did this between games—the version of Quick Pockets in Fallout 2 is vastly superior to the one in the original game, and the change of engine between 2 and Tactics made the formerly Boring but Practical Bonus Move useless 90% of the time (originally, it granted 2 AP that could only be used for movement. This allowed melee characters to close faster and all characters to move tactically while saving their real AP for attacks and items. The Tactics version increases how much ground a character covers per AP spent, which means it's only useful when a melee character is pursuing a new target).
  • Endless Frontier—When combat robots Nacht and Abend join your team they act as a Power-Up Letdown: they share a character slot with Gespenst whose provides the best support attack in game. Since one of robots will appear randomly whenever you summon them, the support attack become less reliable. This is somewhat made up by the fact that after they join, Haken gains a new special skill that involves calling them to gang up on a single enemy. While this attack can't be comboed into or out of, it also isn't a subject to Forced Evasion and it does roughly the same amount of damage as Haken himself would've done with his full set of attacks, if not more.
    • It isn't random. They take turns. Gespenst always comes first, then Nact and finally Abend.
  • Landsknechts in Etrian Odyssey:
    • Arm Heal, which is more or less a trap to make ignorant players waste their skill points. Like any skill, one can place up to ten points in it, which is a lot considering all characters have a hard limit of 73-78 or so points total to spend on everything, including all their useful skills, stat boosts, and their prerequisites. Level 1 Arm Heal is a head skill (meaning it can't be used if the Landsknecht's head is bound) that self-cures bound arms for 2 TP. In other words, one uses it when their arms are bound, their head is not, and it's somehow deemed more useful to spend the Landsknecht's turn arm-healing instead of having the medic do it or simply using non-arm skill-requiring regular attacks. But hey, at least it's practically free. Needless to say, its being worth even a single point is hotly debated, but not even its most dedicated fans advocate maxing it, as the only additional perks are that the cost of using it drops to 1 TP at level 5, and 0 at level 10.
    • Protector's Provoke, a skill to goad enemies into attacking the Protector instead of anyone else, whose success rate is way too low even at level 10 to be reliably used for the usual keeping-everyone-else-alive tank purposes, and the Medic's H. Touch, a skill that heals the party for very low TP, but can only be used outside of battle and can only heal up to a certain percentage of their maximum health—for example, if the cap is 10% and someone has 100 HP, it would only heal for as much as it would take to bring them up to 10 HP, and would be completely useless if they had more than that. The cap at level 10 is 40%.
    • Fortunately, Provoke and Arm Heal (renamed "Unbind" as it is now no longer arm-specific) were dramatically improved for the sequel, and H. Touch was removed entirely. (The Medic's Limit Break in the sequel is technically called "H. Touch," but the actual move and effect are extremely different.)
    • Protectors Anti(element) skills will completely block attacks of the corresponding element at level 5. If you upgrade them to 6 or higher, you will absorb the attack's damage and heal you, but will also let through any secondary effects.
  • Final Fantasy VI and Final Fantasy VII both have significant bugs that prevent certain player stats from ever being checked. This makes some apparently-useful items utterly useless, and may turn other items into game-breakers. In VI, the broken mechanic is Evade; the "Magic Block" stat is used instead for both magic and physical attacks. Since shields primarily boost Evade, they're nearly useless. In VII, magic defense is based entirely on the character's intrinsic "Spirit" stat; pieces of armor that produce a great boost to magic defense according to the in-game info actually do nothing. VI's Evade bug was fixed in the GBA rerelease; VII has had no such luck.
    • Also in Final Fantasy VI, if you max out Terra's Magic and then use her Morph skill, her most powerful spells will do very little damage due to integer overflow. (But then, her level 1 magic will hit for max damage, so you don't really need the powerful spells all that much anyway.)
    • Final Fantasy VI also had the Crusader Esper, the most powerful summoned monster in the game, which required fighting a series of eight dragons all around the world in order to unlock it. Too bad it also damages your party when you summon it, making it useless as a summoning spell. There are other benefits to having it, though, such as it teaching Meteor and Meltdown, two of the most powerful spells in the entire game. It also happens to be the only non-losable Esper to teach Meteor, and the only Esper to teach Meltdown period. Meltdown itself can be one of these, if your party members don't have good magic defense or Fire-absorbing gear. Quake is similar, if you don't have Float cast on yourself. Probably the worst example, though, besides the aforementioned Crusader, is W Wind/Tornado; not only can it reduce your party members to critical HP, no equipment in the game will absorb it.
    • In the GBA port of Final Fantasy VI, the ability to run was added without having to equip the Sprint Shoes relic. The relic wasn't removed from the game, though, so now equipping the Sprint Shoes and having autorun on made your character run uncontrollably fast.
    • If Sabin has learned the Soul Spiral ougi (re-rezzes dead party members at full HP but kills Sabin by throwing him off the screen) then you can no longer use him in the Dragon's Neck Colosseum, since 90% of the time he will open with that move, making you lose the match and your bet item in the process (better hope it wasn't Ultima Weapon or the Ichigeki...)
    • Final Fantasy VII has the Kjata summon. In theory, it should be fantastic—an attack which targets Fire, Ice, Lightning, and Earth weaknesses on all of the Mooks in the battle. However, if even one of those elements is either blocked or absorbed by a creature, then they will block or absorb the damage from Kjata, no exception.
      • Aerith's final Limit Break, Great Gospel, is only accessible by completing a certain quest where its owner let you choose the contents of one, but only one, chest as reward for completing it. The contents of the other chest will be Lost Forever. If you don't know which chest contains which item and you pick the one with Great Gospel in it after Aerith is killed then you'll have nothing but a useless inventory item to show for your efforts.
    • Final Fantasy IV for the DS has the Inferno decant after beating Rubicante. It does more damage than essentially any other spell. The problem is it also hits your own party, meaning you can take your own party down in one hit from full health.[8]
    • Final Fantasy XI has "Balrahn's Myriad Arms" (known as "Mythic Weapons" among the player base). Despite taking longer to complete than the true Infinity Plus One Swords of the game, the Relic Weapons, they are almost all significantly less powerful. To get these weapons you need to be of the Captain mercenary rank (which takes about 2 months to get). You then need to clear every Assault mission (five areas with ten ranks each, so fifty Assaults) when you only get a tag to enter an Assault mission once a day. So that's 50 days taken up. Then you need 150000 tokens from Nyzul Isle, where entry shares the same tags as Assault. At the ideal best, you can only get 1500 tokens for a run, usually significantly less, and success is nowhere near guaranteed. So that's at least (being very generous) 200 days of rigorous playtime just for this portion. You also need to clear Einherjar, which will take up several weeks but can be done at the same time you're doing Nyzul Isle and Assault, and you need 100000 ampoules of therion Ichor obtained at a rate of 1000-2000 ampoules per clear (entry to one run requires 180000 gil, but Einherjar also drops items you can sell to recoup this cost). You also need to defeat every beastman leader in the Aht Urghan region, which requires several parties, and to defeat the chariots in Salvage areas, which aren't easy to get to. You need 30000 Alexandrite gems, which sometimes drop in Salvage but can be bought for around 4000 gil each, so if you take the easy way out that's another 120 million gil. Finally, you need to climb the Zeni Notorious Monster fight paths, which involve a lot of tedious photo-shooting (yes, really) and hard NM fights, and you have to get these final items again if you lose the fight to get your mythic weapon. All this for weapons which are, for the most part, vastly inferior to the older relic weapons, which only required a massive amount of Dynamis currency (easily bought, and relics tend to range in the 200 to 250 million gil range if you do) and, compared to the mythic weapons, a scant few easy fights. The final bit of this letdown? Square Enix seriously thinks mythic weapons are easier to get than relic weapons, which take most of a year of rigorous effort assuming you somehow never fail anything and about half as much money. Versus relic weapons that can be yours in a fraction of the time but "only" about double the monetary cost.
    • In Final Fantasy III for the DS there are 8 levels of magic each with 3 black magic spells and 3 white magic spells, each level having its own independent set of MP. At level 6, the second highest level a normal white mage can get, one of the spells is Stona; all it does is remove the petrification status effect which you have been able to do for some time by using the appropriate item. This is made more annoying by the fact that since each level has its own set of MP some levels are just more useful. Level 6 gives you the previously mentioned Stona, Haste which is relatively useful and the wind attack Aroga which isn't all that great and kind of pointless for a white mage. However the level below has Curaga, Life, and Protect which are all incredibly useful and all fighting over the same MP.
  • In Pokémon Gold and Silver, Scyther was regarded as being better than its evolved form, Scizor. Scizor is the only evolution that does not increase the total base stats. Instead, points are taken out of the Speed stat and reallocated into the Attack and Defense stats. In competitive battling, Speed is a major deciding stat for determining what tier a Pokémon fits into. Additionally, while changing its second type from Flying to Steel gave it a lot of extra resistances, it also lost its resistance to Ground and gained a double weakness to fire. However, as of the third and especialy fourth gen, Scizor is no longer an example; in fact it is now the second most-used Pokémon in competitive play, only to Heatran, in no small part because Heatran both counters and has good synergy with Scizor. And It Got Better.
    • The mascot Pikachu is a minor case of Powerup Letdown. While its evolution Raichu has better stats overall, only Pikachu can make use of the damage-doubling Light Ball item. Even before this though, Raichu doesn't learn any moves through leveling up, meaning if you evolve Pikachu too early for the power boost, you'll miss out on the more powerful moves that it can learn (though admittedly this bit also applies to a large majority of the Pokémon that evolve via evolution stones).
    • The fifth gen added a lot more examples courtesy of its Eviolite item, which boosts the holder's defenses by 1.5x (but can only be held by a mon that has yet to evolve). While in many cases better stats overall tend to counterbalance the loss of Eviolite, there are some mons that are made substantially better by the item than their evolved form. One good example is Dusclops; its stats heavily lean it towards becoming a wall, which Eviolite helps massively, whereas evolving to Dusknoir increases all of its base stats by a mere five points except Attack which gains 30; admittedly useful, but nowhere near as much so as the defense boost which Eviolite can increase to up to nearly 200.
    • The fifth generation also introduced the concept of "Hidden Abilities", new abilities available to various Pokemon, but only ones obtained in a certain way(usually by catching them through Dream World). However, a number of these Hidden Abilities are considered useless, either because the ability itself is bad, or because what the Pokemon already has is considered much better. A couple examples:
      • Delibird, as usual, seems to get it the worst. It's Hidden Ability is the sleep-preventing Insomnia, which doesn't seem too bad, until you remember that one of its original abilities, Vital Spirit, does the exact same thing.
      • Scizor is an example of both reasons at once. One of the main reasons it has become so popular is the synergy its moveset has with its Technician ability, so it would take a really good ability to outdo it. However, Scizor's Hidden Ability is Light Metal, whose only practical use is reducing the damage taken from Low Kick and Grass Knot, neither of which Scizor was particularly concerned about in the first place, meaning it's comparatively useless.
      • Starmie gets the Hidden Ability Analytic, which increases the damage it does if it moves last. However, Starmie is a Fragile Speedster, so its widely agreed upon that this will rarely happen.
      • Tyranitar, like Scizor, is an example of both reasons. Its original ability is Sand Stream, which automatically causes a Sandstorm once it arrives on the battlefield, which is a highly useful ability in the metagame. Its Hidden Ability, however, is Unnerve, which prevents opponents from using Berries, and is widely considered to be situational at best.
  • Phantasy Star Online has several rare weapons and armor that are upgradable. Usually this just makes them better (as is to be expected), but in the case of one or two of the weapons, it also makes them no longer able to do a combo attack.
  • Secret of Evermore has the Magic Gourd. To get it, you have to trade the merchant for a Chocobo Egg, a relic which boosts your hit points. And the Gourd's effect? Doing absolutely nothing. The creators couldn't even remember what the Gourd was supposed to do while they were programming it in.
  • Super Paper Mario had time speedup and slowdown powerups that would only make the game more difficult to play for a few seconds. Thankfully, you got bonus points while the effect was active.
  • The Aestevalis mechs from Super Robot Wars W may be lacking in offensive power, but they have the Field Lancer attack which has the ignore barrier attribute in a game where many of the toughest bosses have barriers, so they'll often come in handy. When they're upgraded to Aestevalis Customs, they lose said attack. Even worse considering that all the Aestevalis Customs were Game Breakers in Super Robot Wars R.
  • In-story example: Zagi in Tales of Vesperia doesn't gain a mystic arte until the fifth time you fight him. By that time, it's actually just his arm exploding energy into the air and down at the ground in a rather random pattern. It's basically a clone of the Tales (series) spell "Judgment" but with a guaranteed hit depending on who was close to him when he activated it.
  • The Disc One Final Boss of Tales of Graces has a very lackluster mystic arte of...setting their sword on fire and slashing twice.
  • Most Tales players were likely expecting a glorious, thundering, screen-filling lightning bolt of destruction when they learned the Indignation spell in Tales of Legendia, judging from its appearances in past games. Instead, you get a tiny, weak one that sounds like a light bulb shorting out.
  • Ultima VI has numerous spells that don't actually seem to do anything useful, like lighting or dousing candles,[9] making ordinary objects disappear, or even causing a solar eclipse. The game also has a spell that is the very definition of Awesome but Impractical: Armageddon, which kills everything in the game except yourself and Lord British. Great... except for the fact that the game is now Unwinnable—it must be beaten by diplomacy, not combat.
  • A lot of artefact items in DCSS are even worse than their non-artefact counterparts.
  • The Reflect spell in most Final Fantasy games. Normally, the spell is supposed to reflect magic back at the caster. However, enemies will start use magic that can't be reflected or will have a passive ability that makes all their magic spells ignore Reflect status anyway. Reflect also reflects good magic like Cure and Esuna, which makes healing or buffing your party much more difficult. Reflect can be a Game Breaker under the right conditions, but players will tend to ignore using Reflect.
  • The submachineguns and assault rifles in the first Parasite Eve had very misleading 3x and 5x bullet modifiers. The total damage was actually divided among each bullet, and sometimes not all of them would hit. In a game of limited ammo, these are a liability. The actual ability that let you shoot twice in one turn, x2, did not show up until very late in the game.

Run And Gun

  • Fester's Quest for the NES. You play as Uncle Fester using various guns to kill invading aliens. If you can get past that premise, you discover your initial weapon is nearly useless and only serves to kill the odd enemy to get a power-up for a better one (which moves in waves, meaning it can pass by enemies and get blocked by obstacles). The second power-up gives you the third gun, which is bowling balls being shot in a spiral pattern (again it can miss enemies and be blocked), but at least it's stronger. The problem here is that you can still pick up power-ups that downgrade your gun into near uselessness!
  • Certain games in Metal Slug series have guns that are counterproductive to fighting whatever boss happened after you pick up those guns. Case in point: the gun that fires bouncing metal balls when the boss is above you—the balls can't bounce higher than your character.
  • In Super Contra (the Arcade game), the Spread Gun is already disappointing compared to other games: normally, if firing another spread would overflow the maximum number of bullets on-screen, the gun will fire partial spreads or single shots instead. However, the Spread Gun in Super Contra only fires full spreads, and if it can't, you can't fire at all until a previous spread has completely cleared the screen. In addition to that, the Spread Gun "upgrade" makes it even worse—it increases the number of shots per spread from 3 to 5 and the number of bullets on-screen from 9 to 10, which means a drop from 3 spreads on-screen to 2. Thus, your effective firing rate becomes abominably low, which, in Contra, is likely to get you killed.
    • "Classic Laser" can't be fired rapidly. A shot will reset itself when you attempt to shoot again. While it's destructive and pierce through ememies, a player who keeps spamming a shoot button will find the classic laser almost useless.


Shooters

  • Battle Garegga: Anything that could be considered an upgrade to your ship will turn up the Dynamic Difficulty. Thus, in order to keep the game manageable, you'll need to keep your shot power and option count down.
  • The laser in Darius was like this. After you power up your regular shots, you get the laser... which is worse than regular shots because it's so narrow. Worse yet, you had to get the laser because powering it up would give you the legitimately good wave weapon. Later games in the series changed this, sometimes making the equivalent of the laser actually useful. And if you die? You'll lose upwards of six powerups! "Okay, I almost have the laser! What? A huge battleship "Fatty Glutton" is approaching fast? Nooooooooo!"
  • Gradius: the speed-up powerup is useful for the first few iterations, making your slow-as-molasses ship move more like a starfighter should. However, the last few levels make the ship fairly difficult to control, especially for new players. This is a hazard because everything, environment included, is trying to kill you.[10]
    • Gradius ReBirth's hidden Type E configuration allows you to get the V. Shot which grants you the ability to fire simultaneously up and down...at the cost of being able to fire forward. It also has the Vector Laser, which can pierce through structures, but it's weaker than the main shot, and can't destroy combustible walls, which means if you get trapped by Stage 2's regenerating walls or go into a bonus stage, you're screwed. Double is this in most games up to Gaiden, because selecting it halves your fire rate.
  • Some of the Raiden games have the Plasma Laser, which locks onto enemies, but does less damage than the spreadshot and regular laser.
    • Raiden Fighters has a special Slave formation that causes your Slaves to automatically seek out enemies and latch onto them, allowing them to be easily destroyed. But unlike other Shoot Em Ups, Attack Drones in this game have limited health (too many hits to a drone and it's destroyed). Not just that, but on some stages, they can destroy targets you don't want to destroy, such as the Miclus-hiding turrets in Raiden Fighters Jet Simulation Level 05.
  • Sigma Star Saga was a GBA RPG/SHMUP hybrid. You could customize your cannon with different styles of firing, bullets, and effects on impact. There were multiple cannons (firing directions) which were basically devoted to firing only vertically, only backwards, etcetera. Usually, they all had one use somewhere, like in a mini-boss battle, but with these kinds of battles being random battles, you were usually best off with just your good old "Shoot Straight" cannon.
  • Tyrian has the odd property that if you boost the power of your main weapon above what your reactor can sustain, your firing rate drops to near-zero. Thus, until you get the best reactor in the game, you're better off not fully leveling all your weapons. Furthermore, the game contains a few "powerups" in arcade mode that turn your main weapon into something that doesn't shoot forward anymore (highly impractical) and one in story mode that turns your weapon into a hot dog. The hot dog, however, is actually a badass weapon.
    • In story mode, the game occasionally drops unbuyable special weapons. Just pray that you don't accidentally pick up one after you get the SDF Main Gun, making for a downgrade from arguably the strongest weapon in the game.
  • Zanac: the shield powerup causes the Dynamic Difficulty to go batshit.
  • Heavy Weapon has your first level of Spread Shot. This changes your shot into a double shot, which makes aiming somewhat weird because you will not have a shot that goes straight. Not that big of a problem until the third level where you fight trucks, and aiming your gun directly straight at them will cause your shots to hit the ground if you are too far away.
  • In Adventures of Dino Riki, one of the power-ups transforms Dino Riki into Macho Riki which lets him shoots psychic projections of himself at enemies and take a hit without losing health. Unfortunately, the fact that Dino Riki reverts back to using throwing rocks after getting hit and the fact that the fireball weapon is much, MUCH better make this power-up more trouble than it's worth.
  • Fire Shark has the common blue and green powerups. Once you get the rare red powerup (deadly flamethrowers that sweep the whole screen), these will replace it with the blue Spread Shot or the green wave laser (decent, but pale in comparison to the flamethrower). Worse still, once these powerups appear on screen, they will bounce all over the place a few times before disappearing. Which means you will want to avoid them along with the fast-moving enemy bullets!


Strategy Games

  • Dawn of War II In Last Stand mode advancing your characters can be problematic. Your Space Marine Captain just got Fearsome Shout! Hurray! Now do you want to give up your jump-pack, 75 hit-points or your only close combat ability for it? The Ork Mekboy's Deffgun is even worse... I'd prefer a gun that actually kills my enemies instead of just suppressing them, thanks.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance/A2 can boast the Last Berserk/Crit:Berserk ability. Equipping makes the equipped unit lose control and attack enemies randomly with only a slight greater attack when it has low Hit Points, which is basically the opposite of what you'd want. Equipping no ability is better than equipping Last Berserk.
    • The passive ability Doublehand lets you sacrifice using a shield or two handed weapons to increase attack power by... 8 points. In a game where the unarmed cap for attack is 249, and the average unit gains that much attack in four levels. To make it even worse, the Attack Up ability, that has no cost beyond using up that ability's slot, raises attack by 35.
  • Kieran's Gamble ability in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. It halves his accuracy and doubles his critical-hit chance, but he's already inaccurate and his crit chance is terrible (so doubling it will do almost nothing). Much better in the hands of a sniper.
    • Corrosion was also pretty useless. It had a chance equal to the user's skill to weaken the target's weapon durability by the user's level divided by 4. This meant that on a 20/20 character, Corrosion could take off 10 points of durability... When most weapons have at least 20. The odds that you would get enough Corrosion procs to actually break an enemy's weapon before you killed them were pitifully low, and if you did manage it... Well, assuming they aren't carrying a second weapon, you've just disabled a single enemy in a much less practical way than killing them would have been. Worse, Corrosion could potentially proc on droppable rare weapons like the Rune Sword, lowering the number of uses the player could get out of them.
  • Summon Night: Swordcraft Story 2 introduces a fishing game. The top prize at 1500 points is a Luxury Fishing Rod which... doesn't seem to do diddly. It lets you catch slightly better fish, including the best fish. If you've been painstakingly grinding for 5 hours, accumulating 30-40 points per go, hoping for a Disc One Nuke, it's a complete letdown.


Third Person Shooters

  • Jet Force Gemini had a myriad of bombs that really didn't have any practical use and made scrolling through your weapons slower. It also has Fish Food as a weapon. Though Fish Food actually has a few uses beyond being a Joke Item.
  • In Ratchet and Clank Going Commando, the Lava Gun upgrades into the Meteor Gun, which while it hits harder and long-ranged, is vastly inferior in its primary utility of crowd control. There are better ranged weapons than the Meteor Gun. Fortunately, Insomniac learned and changed the upgrade to the Liquid Nitrogen Gun in the sequel.
    • In the first game, after turning enemies into chickens with the Morph-O-Ray, you could suck them up with the Suck Cannon. This lets you get Suck Cannon ammo from enemies too big to suck up normally. Plus, due to a helpful bug, this actually gave you more Bolts than just killing the enemy. The Gold Morph-O-Ray turned enemies into giant chickens, which could act as decoys but were too big for the Suck Cannon, cutting off your source of free ammo and extra Bolts.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV allows you to unlock remote-detonate car bombs, which at first appear like a very useful way to bypass the obligatory car chase scene that happens nearly every time you are sent on a mission to kill someone. But you have to place them in the car first and because of the mission design, there are only a few times where you get a chance to go to your target's still-standing vehicle before moving on, as they usually start out with it in a cutscene or have it placed in a position you can't access beforehand.


References to this trope

  • Seanbaby pointed out several of these on his Useless Power-Ups page:
    • Wizards and Warriors: The Cloak of Darkness renders your character invisible to you, but apparently not to the monsters, if their uncanny ability to home in on the suddenly-disappeared Kuros attests to anything.


Tabletop Games

  • Auras tend to be this in Magic: The Gathering. Auras come into play attached to another card, and unless another card effect specifically says so, are destroyed if the card they're attached to leaves play in any way. This results in a powerup that's typically rather easy to eliminate, and after nets the opponent a two-for-one card advantage (the opponent spends one card to destroy the attached card, with takes the Aura with it).
    • Isn't that common sense? If you kill what someone buffed, of course the effect is going away. Of course, when the aura in question makes the target indestructible and/or hexproof/shroud this certainly doesn't apply unless they can wipe the board.
    • Sure it's in principle a problem with targeted buffs in general. Auras are simply the poster child for it because people use them expecting their effect to last for a while (they're supposedly 'permanents' like other enchantments, right?)...only to find out the hard way that as often as not they might as well have used a more impressive one-shot instant or sorcery boost for the same cost in cards and mana instead.

Notes

  1. if you're playing with all humans cloak became useful. It still lost its initial purpose if you were using the names system to record stats for your many many fights: Names are permanently visible just above your character's location, utterly negating the point of being invisible. If you didn't use names there was still the occasional P# marker, especially if you stood still for too long. The only purpose the Cloaking device serves is to negate damage buildup... which they probably did just to give it a purpose.
  2. To be fair, the Hyper Grapple doesn't have much use because it's the last powerup you get in the game and there isn't much you can do with it, but it's the only way to reliably vent Phazon at 99% corruption.
  3. Not eternally invincible. You have to time your movements in and out of Hypermode to avoid Terminal Corruption, but you can protect yourself well enough if you understand the mechanics. Of course, given Mogenar's the one who gives you the Hyper Ball in the first place...
  4. The Bubble gun is often an outright Poison Mushroom -- sitting in places where you needed More Dakka and have to avoid picking it up.
  5. Skilled players can use weapon successfully on other monsters.
  6. It is actually useful on Point Runs. Magic Hands doubles the points earned from the enemy it's used on. Since points determine your Rank at the end of the level, using Magic Hands on high-point-value enemies (like Gold Beetles) was useful for getting A-Ranks on hard levels. It is good for instakilling enemies with shields too, as they can block neither the Hands nor their thrown partner.
  7. There is a caveat: if you're the right class/stat build. A Mage can cast the self-only spell 'protection from magic weapons' and thus render themselves immune to any kind of physical attack.
  8. Expert players equip their characters with fire-resistant items and the Cursed Rings to avoid this. Though the Cursed Rings are normally a Poison Mushroom, they also let you absorb attacks that you resist for HP. Like Inferno.
  9. later it is used to ignite powder keg fuses
  10. Gradius III avoids these problems and so is not an example. It is possible to set up your ship to actually have a speed-down powerup, and Gradius V, on hitting maximum speed, turns the "Speed Up" icon into an "Initial Speed" icon that resets your speed.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.