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"In X2, you save the galaxy, well sort of. You're the hero, everyone is in your debt. In game time, you play on for about 6 months to a year and amass a huge trading empire and an even huger battlefleet. Your personal ship is a Nova, or an M6, or an M2. Your combat rank is 'Ace of Aces' or better.

"Along comes X3.

"WTF ? Suddenly you have no factories. No fleet. No race rank with anyone. You have gone from Hero to Zero with the insertion of a disc. Worse, your personal ship is gone and your flying this old fleatrap that can't get out of its own way, let alone keep you alive, and hey, it has no upgrades either and just 2 little popguns. And suddenly you're 'Harmless' instead of an 'Ace of Aces'."

Also known as being "Metroided."

So your character is meant to be a famous monster slayer who is the subject of a number of ballads, or a famous general with great skill in battle. Well, we all know the developers are not going to just let you start at that high a level (well, maybe for a little while)... so you know what happens next! Your character gets Laser-Guided Amnesia, suffers a great injury, puts on a Power Limiter or messes with a Power Nullifier!

This can also be used to explain why your character goes From Nobody to Nightmare in a month or so, but if you have any allies that increase in level, this is often broken, as they level up just as fast.

Often the way A Taste of Power is ended if you are the same character. Common justification for Bag of Spilling. Compare Redemption Demotion, where switching to the good side knocks you down to level 1 as well.

Examples of Restart At Level One include:


Action Adventure

  • In Okami, you play as a god in wolf form recently brought back from death, severely weakened after 100 years of rapidly declining faith amongst mortals.
  • The Castlevania series is known to explain this in it's games.
    • Symphony of the Night starts the game off with Alucard fully equipped with powerful weapons and armor, but Death strips them off of him shortly after entering the castle. Alucard is quickly reduced to using a rusty sword as one of his first weapons.
    • Order of Ecclesia starts the game with Shanoa completing her glyph training and starts a ritual to destroy Dracula once and for all. The ritual goes wrong and results in Shanoa completely forgetting all her training along with all her other memories.
    • Curse of Darkness has Hector, former powerful servant of Dracula. He gave up all his powers and gear to settle down with his beloved, but then Isaac had her killed and Hector charged after him with just a short sword.
    • Dawn of Sorrow goes halfway with it. Alucard explains the loss of all the souls collected in Aria of Sorrow, but there's still no reason given for Soma not to grab his Claimh Solais.
  • Cave Story: If you're on track for the Golden Ending, then upon entering the Last Cave "You feel a black wind blow through you. All weapons dropped to Level 1!" (Mercifully, by this point the player may have the Spur--which doesn't need to level up--and/or the Nemesis--which works best at level 1.) This happens again when you enter Sacred Ground.
  • Assassin's Creed Brotherhood begins with A Taste of Power but after the attack on Monteriggioni, Ezio is badly wounded from a pair of gunshot wounds. When you regain control of him, it turns out his body cannot heal as fast as it used to, so he won't be able to perform at top efficiency, leaving you with five health squares; his armor and weapons were also lost during the siege.
    • Fortunately however you keep the best of those weapons, the left-arm hidden blade that had a built-in pistol and poison blade, and Ezio is issued a basic straight sword upon waking up in Rome. As importantly, he also retains most of the moves from the previous game, along with the new kill streak moves that were introduced in Brotherhood before and during the attack on Monteriggioni.

Action Game

  • In God of War II, Kratos loses nearly all of his godly powers in the opening cutscene. Zeus eventually "helps" Kratos by giving him a sword. Kratos then, in order to get the sword out of the ground, had to drain all of his powers into the sword. The third game has Kratos eventually fall into the River Styx, where he is mobbed by the souls within several times before making it to shore. By then, he's been drained of whatever powers he had.
  • In Conan's Justified Tutorial, you start with a fully-armored Conan who makes short work of the nasty spirits in a tomb, but then he frees the wrong Eldritch Abomination, washes up half-dead on an island without any armor or memory of what happened, and then spends the rest of the game recovering his armor and skills (the same spirits are much harder to beat when you get back to the tomb from the start of the game). To be fair, though, even starting-level Conan is pretty Badass.

First-Person Shooter

  • Prior to Jedi Knight II, Kyle Katarn invoked this trope and sealed himself off from The Force for fear of falling to The Dark Side again.
  • Left 4 Dead 2 has a variation of this trope. After being dropped off to find some fuel for the boat in "Hard Rain", one of the survivors asks if someone brought the weapons with them. They quickly realize they forgot and left the weapons on the boat.
    • This trope is actually used repeatedly during the series, as for whatever reason, be it that their supplies were lost/forgotten/stolen/destroyed/whatever, they have to start every campaign with nothing but pistols.
  • Alien Swarm does this as an option: If you hit the max level and choose to be promoted, your level is reset back to 1 and you lose all the items and guns you had gotten from leveling up. The only thing you get out of this is a badge next to your name.
  • Prestige Mode in every Call of Duty game since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, although you get extra custom class slots and are compensated with some bonus EXP along the way to help with leveling back up.

MMORPG

  • In Mabinogi, your character can "rebirth" at any time, starting over anywhere between age 10 and 17 and reverting to level 1. In a subversion, however, this is actually how you'rs suppossed to gain power. As you level, you earn AP, which you can spend to increase skill ranks, which in turn get you stat bonuses. While rebirth loses you all the stat points you gained from experience levels themselves, you keep your skill ranks and the bonuses, as well as your inventory. Then you get to take advantage of the fast level gain for a starting character to earn more AP.

Platform Game

  • In the Metroid series, Samus starts every game with no spare E-tanks, a minimum of equipment and must acquire new items to expand the area the player can explore. In a few cases such as Metroid Prime, Samus starts out with A Taste of Power but an incident shortly during/after the introductory level resets the player to minimum status.
  • X of the Mega Man X series usually subverts this in that, while he starts a new game without the armor, weapons, tanks, and other powerups from the last game, he has a tendency to keep abilities he's used before. As of X8, he's kept the first two dash powerups, and the fourth level charge shot power of the first game.
  • Zero puts himself to sleep at the end of Mega Man X to fully eliminate The Virus. 100 years later Mega Man Zero he is violently woken by a scientist under attack by mooks so his restoration is incomplete.
    • Played literally and justified in the second game. After travelling the wastelands for a year, Zero's weapons are damaged (one, the Triple Rod, was even beyond repair), and when Zero returns to the La Résistance base, his weapons are restored (the Triple Rod was replaced), but he has to level them up again.
      • Thankfully averted from Zero 3 onwards. Your weapons already start at full power. You would probably spend a good couple of hours levelling them up after the first mission anyway, since the saber sucks without the 3 hit combo and charged slash, so it saves up on the tediousness.
  • Wonder Boy III the Dragons Trap is a sequel to Wonder Boy in Monster Land. The game starts on the ending level of Monster Land, with Wonder Boy all powered up. Seems like it'll be a cinch... until he gets cursed and turned into a lizard, rendering all his power-ups completely useless.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (and Knuckles) has the opening scene where Sonic gets the Chaos Emeralds knocked out of him. After collecting said Emeralds, you lose them again in the second half of the game. Though the next power up is a Game Breaker.

Racing Game

  • Blur has Legend Mode, which is similar to Modern Warfare's Prestige, except each time you enter Legend Mode, you unlock a special Legendary car that you get to keep on the next trip up the fan level ladder.

Real Time Strategy

  • Most RTS games don't allow the upgrades you've achieved in one mission to carry over to the next mission.
  • Between the end of the first and the start of the second campaign of Warcraft 3 Arthas goes from a L10 Paladin to L1 Death Knight.
    • At least partially justified, in that he's having to learn/grow into an entirely new range of abilities.
    • Thrall is another example.
    • Averted in the expansion, all heroes from the original game start out at level 10 (max). Though Arthas actually loses levels over the course of the Undead campaign due to the Lich King's weakening (until the final mission where he rapidly goes up from level 1 to 10).

Roguelike

  • In the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games, when you enter a particularly rewarding dungeon (such as getting Jirachi), you are forced to become level one for the dungeon. What makes it worse, is that the dungeon has 99 floors! It takes forever to do so, and usually if you're recruiting a pokemon, it starts out at a very low level, which is not too rewarding, unless you're going for 100% completion.
  • In ZHP, the protagonist resets to Level One every time he dies or completes a dungeon. However, what levels he gained in the dungeon are added to his "Total Levels" which gradually increase his base stats, meaning that his "Level One" starts to become a very, very powerful Level One.

Role Playing Game

  • The Witcher strongly implies Geralt having come back from the dead (he was killed by an angry mob in the end of the last book of the original saga, five years before the game begins, but apparently (badly) resurrected by his Mary Sue of an adopted daughter) is why he starts at level 1.
    • Played straight The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings. There is no explanation given for why the same guy who had become a one-man-army by the end of the first game is getting his ass kicked every time he faces more than two opponents in the Prologue.
  • Gothic II explains this by the Nameless Hero being resurrected after being buried under rocks for several weeks at the end of the first game.
    • The third game does it again, except you spent a lot of time on a boat. And your equipment gets stolen when you leave the boat without it, and pirates take the boat. You still start out somewhat stronger than in the first two games though.
  • Apparently, every time the Avatar returns to the world of Ultima he is a new person (this also means he is a virgin each time)
    • Which really doesn't mesh well with the character transfer option in Ultima V and Ultima VI. Basically, you could transfer in your character from the previous game, with most relevant stats intact, thus averting this trope... until Ultima 7, anyway.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II has your character "cut off from the force" prior to the start (why this affects your non-force related abilities, leaving you with merely a bonus 10 hit points to show for it, is unknown).Interestingly, near the end of the game, this is explicitly not why you are leveling up. As for the first game, it turns out eventually that you had a similar excuse all along.
    • This also happens to T3-M4, HK-47 and Mandalore in KOTOR II, though the first probably wouldn't have been useful in the game even if it started at Level 20 with all the high-level droid gear from the first game and the first one breaks the game enough without a level headstart, anyway.
  • Haseo get's datadrained near the end of .hack//Roots to explain why he's not level 133+ when you play .hack//G.U.. Apparently this also makes him less crazy.
    • But not less of a Jerkass, it seems. Although there is a slight disconnect between the change of heart he appears to experience at the end of Roots and his continued Jerkass-ness at the beginning of the games...
  • In Tales of the Abyss, Jade gives you A Taste of Power at level 50, but is then hit with a magical doohickey that seals his powers, booting him back down to comparable levels with your party. He lampshades this with one of the in-game "skits" when he reaches level 50 again naturally.
  • In Geneforge 5, the PC has forgotten everything about their past and all of their skills. The PC regains the skills but never regains their memory.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories slaps Sora, Donald and Goofy with a brand new mechanic, plus Easy Amnesia as they progress through castle that they spend the whole game in. In Kingdom Hearts II being asleep for a year explains the similar depowering. It Hand Waves the power loss as you being the in the villains' house and having to play by their rules. Notably, Sora does seem to keep all his HP from the first game, since his starting HP is the same as the first game's max HP.
    • Kingdom Hearts 358 Days Over 2 demonstrates that Roxas is a Badass by Organization standards, but in his first appearance in Kingdom Hearts II, he's downgraded to level 1 and doesn't even know what the Keyblade is. Perhaps Justified by DiZ/Ansem tampering with his memory, personality, etc...
  • Vagrant Story has Ashley Riot, a famous Riskbreaker... who, after a deeply traumatizing event, locked away all of his memories of combat. Sidney forces him to remember it, freeing the first few abilities, and after that he regains them "from repressed memory" with each experience milestone.
  • Shadow Hearts: Covenant has Yuri depowered by the Mistletoe Curse, forcing him to relearn and reclaim all of his Harmonixer forms one by one.
  • Digimon World Dawn/Dusk casts the player as a talented trainer who commands a team of three digimon: the version's mascot Rookie and two high-level Mons. However, after letting you enjoy your taste of power, a virus hits your base and wrecks havoc -- and infects your two frontliners, dropping them both back to Lv 1. (Ironically, your Rookie actually avoids this, making them your strongest Mon at that moment...)
  • Cecil from Final Fantasy IV is the captain of the Red Wings and a fearsome Dark Knight who starts the game at level 10. When he becomes a Paladin, he goes down to level 1 again, but unless you have done some insane Level Grinding before then, he will be stronger than before.
  • Galuf from Final Fantasy V. He already saved two worlds thirty years ago, but he starts as a level one nobody without any classes learned due to amnesia, but then un-justified when he recovers from it and stays exactly same.
    • Arguably, he is much older by the game's events, and additionally didn't learn classes, having not had the crystal shards that allow it. Furthermore, the amnesia thing
      • According to NPC chatter in one of the towns in the second world, Galuf did actually think to bring high-powered equipment with him, but somehow lost it all when his meteor crashed.
  • Somewhat averted in Final Fantasy VII, as Cloud starts at level 6 or 7 and levels up during the very first battle to boot. In fact no one starts at level 1 unless you exploit a glitch or a hack. Though you'd think Barret, leader of the terrorist activist group AVALANCHE (yes, all caps) would be stronger than level 7. However played straight in Cloud's fake Nibelheim flashback. It's puzzling how a 1st Class SOLDIER is a mere Level 1 teenager.
    • Well, Barret is the current leader of AVALANCHE. There used to be another but retired for certain reasons in yet another Compilation Game. And being Level 1 in the Nibelheim Flashback is actually a tip to what actually happened in there...
    • It's a bit of twice-over Fridge Brilliance, anyway. On a first playthrough, it can easily be seen as a way to highlight just how powerful Sephiroth is compared to you. On a second, it becomes clear that Cloud's level 1 because he was just a mook.
    • Referenced in the movie, during the fight against the big dragon-looking thing. Tifa mentions how everyone had grown so powerful by the end of the game, then had gradually lost that edge over the subsequent two years, and how Cloud seems to be regaining some of that edge.
  • Lunar: Eternal Blue gives you the uber-powerful Lucia at the beginning, who wipes the floors with her powers. But once you reach the bottom of that first tower...
    • Granted, this is more of a "forced reboot to level one", which is quite uncomfortable for the character in question, but still.
  • Lulu and Wakka from Final Fantasy X. Before becoming Yuna's guardians, they were responsible for escorting other summoners, and despite not ever having finished the journey, they generally made it three-quarters of the way to Zanarkand. For no explained reason, they join your party with none of the abilities or stat increases that they should have earned on previous pilgrimages.
    • In Final Fantasy X 2, with Sin destroyed and the fayth resting, Yuna can no longer access her frightening summoning abilities. It doesn't explain why neither she nor Rikku have the stats and abilities from their adventure 2 years ago, or why Yuna has to relearn White Magic abilities she should already have through a Dressphere.
  • In Mass Effect 2, this trope is used (and justified) because your ship and all your stuff got blown up and your character is brought Back From the Dead, but the process had to be cut short before his/her combat abilities could be reprinted into his/her psyche. However, importing a high-level character with lots of money does result in significant bonuses to that character; a level 60 Shepard from the first game is boosted to level 5 in the second, and substantial amounts of monetary and mineral resources are available right from the start. It is also implied that the enemies you're facing in the second game are technologically comparable to the late-game enemies of the first (with a significant technology boost occuring int he background during the Time Skip between games) and any perceived weakness in Shepard is due to Power Creep thanks to the much more dangerous opponents.
    • Fortunately averted in Mass Effect 3. If you import a save from the second game, the level you start at will be the level of the imported character.
      • On the other hand, you can do this deliberately in multiplayer. When you reach level 20, you can "promote" a character, increasing your War Assets in the single-player game but forcing you to start that character from level 1 again, a la Call of Duty prestige levels.
  • Early in Mega Man Legends 2, the player can actually ask Roll what happened to all their weapons (from the previous game), at which point she embarrassedly admits she sold them to make repairs to their ship.
  • The sequel to the German RPG Maker game Vampires Dawn features this. The central characters Valnar and Alaine start out with the max. levels canonically attained at the end of the previous game, but quickly get their power drained halfway through the introduction story.
  • Played with in ZHP: Your character starts every dungeon at level 1, but the level you're at when you finish the dungeon (or die; it doesn't matter) is added to your total level, giving you a boost to your stats the next time you go in.
  • Used as a game mechanic in Dragon Quest IX. First of all, levels are tied to your job; switching to one you haven't used yet sends you back to level 1 (but you get to keep your Skill Points and anything you bought with Skill Points). Then there's "revocation", resetting a level 99 job back to 1; the advantages to this are the chance to get even more Skill Points and it lets you get higher-valued maps for the Dungeon Crawling system.
  • Subverted in On the Rainslick Precipice of Darkness, you start at the last game's max level with the same stats. You move up from their, though your weapons are basic once again. Justified in that Yours was destroyed in the intro of number 2, Tycho's 'potential bullets' ripped his gun apart and Gabe's were soaked in hobo piss.
  • Done rather amusingly in Robopon Ring and Cross, the sequel to Robopon Sun, Star and Moon. You play as the same character, going to another county to enter a tournament, yet you don't have any of the Mons you had from the first game. On the way to the aforementioned country, the main character suddenly realizes that he left them at home.
  • Adol is back to level one, usually without the fancy equipment from the previous game, in each of the Ys games. Given how frequently he starts a game by being seriously injured and needing to spend several days in bed (Usually due to falling off a ship or the ship sinking outright), this is actually justified on occasion.

Simulation Game

  • As noted in our page quote, the Player Character of X2: The Threat and X3: Reunion are the same guy, reset to level one with his former assets having gone poof.


Turn-Based Strategy

  • Disgaea mentions at one point Laharl isn't back up to strength after oversleeping 720 days because of Etna poisoning him
    • The sequel also has Etna brought down from level 1000 to level 1 due to a summoning ritual gone bad. It was her fault it went wrong anyway.
      • It also turns out to be the case for the real Overlord Zenon, AKA Rozalin, who had herself reincarnated out of fear of her own power.
      • There's also an in-game mechanic to invoke this trope on your own units. It definitely helps in the long run, though.
    • Apparently a running theme in the Disgaea series: Disgaea 4 gives us Valvatorez, a vampire who was the former "Tyrant" and ruler of the netherworld. After he refused to drink any more blood he lost all his power and took a low-level job training Prinnies.
  • Averted in Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn : When the Greil mercenaries (the heroes of the first game) finally make their comeback all are already at tier 2 of the 3 tier system, most at the higher end of it. The first few chapters feel like A Taste of Power except that its in the middle of the game. You then switch back to the Dawn Brigade every now and then where just staying alive can be a struggle.
    • Also Sothe, who was a part of the Greil Mercenaries/Crimean Army of the first game is the token Jeigen for the first few chapters of the game, and can even carry over his exact ending stats from the first game if they're above his default ones.
    • Also averted with all of the other returning characters, as all of them come at higher levels than in the original, though some are only higher by one or two levels.
  • Zetta in Makai Kingdom subverts this trope; he suffers the mother of all power reducers during the intro (his body and equipment is destroyed and his soul is forced to inhabit a book), but he's still level 2000 and his mana power is still the greatest of all the Overlords.
  • In Phantom Brave it is implied (a skill he learned in life is accessed at mid-high levels) that becoming a phantom is why Ash is weak despite working with "skilled" Chromas. This is made explicit in Another Marona ("As Phantoms, you lack your full power.") and implied that Ash doesn't realize the weakness.
  • Same in Heroes of Might and Magic 5 with Agrail/Railag.
  • Many Super Robot Wars games that have continuing sequels, such as the Super Robot Wars Alpha series, Super Robot Wars Z series and Super Robot Wars Original Generation series, tend to do this. You could have had the best items, the greatest units, and all of the skills you need to really tear evil a new one, but come the next game, they toss it all away. A lot of the time, it's justified - the initial threat is gone, so there's no need for all of that now.

Non-video game examples:

Anime and Manga

  • Not exactly with video games, but in the Pokémon anime, Pikachu should be at an extremely high level, but always seems to return to level 1 at the start of a new series.
    • Not to mention Ash himself, who, despite placing high in nearly every single League he's entered, no matter what awesome things he's done, is always treated as a rookie trainer whenever he enters a new region.
    • Justified in Best Wishes when Pikachu's powers are drained by a legendary Pokemon.
    • When listing Ash's accomplishments, the only ones mentioned are the ones from the current region. Before the start of Unova, he has earned 32 badges and 7 Frontier Symbols; He is Champion of the Orange League, placed Top 16 in the Indigo League, Top 8 in both the Johto League and Hoenn League, and Top 4 of the Sinnoh League; It's implied he would have won had he beaten Tobias. He has faced off with and defeated or befriended at least one member of each Legendary species, aside from that ever-elusive Ho-oh, and several of some of them. He's still treated like he's a newbie with no experience, even by the writers.

Film

  • In the original The Karate Kid series, Daniel is trained by Mr. Miyagi to become a karate champion, but in the second film, he is still getting his butt kicked in Okinawa with barely any evidence that he knows anything about fighting. Only the ice sheet chopping scene and the climactic fight have Daniel fight like he was trained by the Old Master.
    • Justified in that he's been learning for a few months, only having a few fights under tournament regulations. In Okinawa the people he fights have been learning for most of their lives and engage in street fights.

Web Comics

  • In Alien Dice, a brutal deconstruction of the Mons genre, both the dice and Lexx himself are reset at the beginning of each round. The dice starting out on whatever level their die initially landed and Lexx getting knocked back ten levels.
  • In Eight Bit Theater, Super Double Evil Sarda levels down the Light Warriors and takes away their class upgrades (except Thief, who got his class upgrade stolen from his past self). When Chaos shows up shortly after, the Light Warriors excuse themselves to go level back up within 24 hours. Needless to say, things don't work out for them.
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