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Mass Effect

  • The Mass Effect series features several examples of this:
    • Mass Effect 2 features this with Shepard's "death" and resurrection two years later. This would be a rather traumatic experience, with what appears to be an absence of an afterlife (no, not the one on Omega), and could have been a great opportunity to show some genuine emotion and personality that s/he has been criticised for lacking. How does Shepard react? Nothing more than a few snarky lines. How must Shepard have felt after s/he returned? For Shepard, it probably felt like a bad dream or a quick nap only to wake up and find out how everything has changed and move on while s/he is still stuck thinking things were two years ago when the enemy had been defeated, s/he was a hero and had (possibly) fallen in love, only to have to deal with the slow reality that the world s/he knew has changed for good. This is even worse considering that the climax is a heavily hyped suicide mission — you talk to all your squad members about death at some point, and about religion to several of them. Fleshing out even a few of these conversations with some more input from Shepard would've solved the whole problem.
      • Interestingly, the penultimate mission of Mass Effect 3 touches on this. During the attack on the Cerberus base, Shepard can watch videos detailing the process of his resurrection, and briefly comments on his feelings after he woke up. To some, this was a case of "too little, too late".
    • Also from ME2: In Kasumi's loyalty mission, Shepard only takes the titular thief with him/her, meaning there's a spare party slot. Aside from the tutorial, it's the only mission where Shepard doesn't doesn't have a full squad. Instead, Shepard could've taken his / her love interest as his / her date, giving you a normal-sized squad and the "Romance" DLC many fans were been clamouring for (especially given that Lair of the Shadow Broker accounts for your main game relationship, if you have one, and allows you to comment on your love interest). In the end, it likely would have cost too much time and money: not only would new textures and animations have to be created, there's also the logistical nightmare of getting all the VAs back to do just a few lines.
    • The handling of Cerberus in the second game left something to be desired. They went from a Complete Monster black ops group that plays with syringes (in the first game) to a group of 150 well-intentioned extremists. Despite this, Shepard is given very few opportunities to actually strike back at them. While this is justified in that until the end of the second game Cerberus is your financial backer, provides you with intelligence, and is the only group willing to give you the aid you need to fight the Collectors, it leaves an anti-Cerberus player with no option but to lamely respond to any criticism of his/her relationship with the group as "I'm not working for Cerberus, I'm working with them." It's especially grating for Sole Survivor Shepards, who don't have the option to even mention the Cerberus experiment that caused their entire unit to be massacred by thresher maws on Akuze. This is later remedied in Mass Effect 3 - Shepard gets grilled by the Virmire Survivor and several others for working with Cerberus, and s/he can tell the Illusive Man to go to hell several times for stringing him/her along in the last game.
    • The "trial of Shepard", which was heavily foreshadowed at the end of the ME2 Arrival DLC. In that mission, Shepard has to destroy an entire Batarian system by crashing an asteroid into a Mass Relay in order to stop the Reapers. For months before the release of the third game, it was believed the third game would start with this trial (which was rumored and hinted by the developers), and the prologue would be the Reapers attacking Earth during this trial, which leads Shepard to escape to the Normandy. In the final product, however, the only real consequence of doing the DLC is that Anderson and a couple of your former squadmates mention that you were grounded for what you did at the end of the mission, a Batarian mentions that his entire race hates you when you visit him at the Citadel, and the intended "trial" never occurs (instead replaced by a scene where Shepard goes in front of a defense committee to brief them on what's happening). The trial (much like the shuttle debriefing in ME2) could have been a great way to get new players up to speed on the events of the trilogy, and give Shepard a chance to state his/her decisions throughout the prior games.
    • The third game's ending. Interestingly, Drew Karpyshyn's (the lead writer of the original game, and a co-writer on the sequel) original story draft would have picked up on the "Dark Energy" foreshadowing (which revolved around Haestrom's sun) that was setup throughout the prior two games. Shepard was originally supposed to choose between destroying the Reapers and letting the galaxy fend for itself when the "tech singularity" comes, or let the Reapers assimilate every race in the galaxy in the hopes of being prepared enough to confront the singularity when it finally arrives. This was not used in the final product, and what was shown was (to many) wholly unsatisfactory. The ending was criticized by many because it was impossible to (if a certain set of conditions were met) talk with the AI about all the races in the galaxy you just united in the galaxy against the Reapers, including the Geth and the Quarians, which renders its arguments useless.
      • It is important to note that Drew Karpshyn's idea was just that, and idea. One of many. It was never supposed to be the original ending, and it was scrapped because it felt out of place. How they didn't think so about the current ending, however, is anyone's guess...
      • In addition, the ending of the third game renders several of the NPC and squadmates' journeys throughout the game wholly pointless. If you were hoping that Wrex and Eve would have lots of babies, the Geth would build their Dyson sphere discussed in the previous game, Garrus would get to see his family, Tali would get to buy that house on Rannoch, Liara would get to rebuild Thessia or that Javik would put down the spirits of his former Prothean unit, you won't find out (unless post-ending DLC is ever released).
      • In the part where the series prior to this established that despite baseless prejudices, AI was no more inherently evil or dangerous than any other form of intelligence, and indeed the supposedly safe, non-sapient V Is have actually had a much worse track record for going rogue and deciding to kill people than actual A Is in the series... only for it to turn out, whoops, they really are evil and will eventually Kill All Humans after all!


  • RF Online. The setting for the game is incredible - it's the far future in which three offshoot races of humanity are engaged in intergalactic warfare - the short, mostly-humanlike Bellato, the elven (and surprisingly savage) Cora and the Accretia, who are human minds transplanted into immortal robotic war machines. There are mechs. There's magic. Spaceships. Spaceships which run on magic. Entire planets have burned in the backstory. The scope of the plot could be vast. And what do we get? A typical grind-heavy Korean MMO with one quest per level and no real plot to speak of. Seriously, CCR? Like, really seriously? This is the best you can do?
  • Another example would be Torin's Passage, a little-known Sierra Adventure game released after King's Quest VII. (Even using the same graphical engine) Also made by the same person as Leisure Suit Larry (Yes, him) it was intended to be the start of a series of adventure games that would take place in the multi-world planet that has a world-within-a-world-within-a-world. But it was released around the time Sierra Online closed their doors and the game was too obscure to sell well enough compared to the ever-popular Gabriel Knight and Lucas Arts adventure games. The game did not exactly leave as many loose plot threads as other items on this list, but it certainly included one that was rather wasted. (The princess of Escarpa falling in love with Torin, you can tell they would soon make her playable if the series continued) Another series that was never finished.
  • Many a gamer who played Super Smash Bros. Brawl felt this way about The Subspace Emissary. They've got the entire Nintendo universe at their disposal; what stages, enemies and gameplay mechanics couldn't be gathered from THAT?! Instead, 92% of the stages and enemies in the game are original, and quite generic at that. This occurs in a game meant to celebrate memories brought from all things Nintendo.
  • Dino Crisis 3 could have picked up the cliffhanger from the previous game, which in itself was pretty dramatic and implied a lot of time-travelling plotting and action-based rescue. Instead, the story is thrown out and the series changes so much that it seems to be a sequel In Name Only.
  • Discworld Noir cleverly exploited this trope. Midway through the game the Film Noir mystery plot is seemingly abandoned in favour of an H.P. Lovecraft pastiche adventure story, only for two plotlines to be reintegrated at the finale.
  • Mediocre but entertaining stealth game Spy Fiction was a tongue-in-cheek spy story up until about seventy per cent of the way through, at which point it remembered its main selling point was that it was a shameless ripoff of a certain other stealth series, and tossed in a bunch of Metal Gear tropes to the point of turning nearly the whole cast from archetypical-but-original characters into clumsy Expy versions of the Metal Gear cast in order to make the tropes work. The most painful sacrifice was Nicklaus, the most likable, sympathetic character, who ended up getting turned into a Liquid Snake clone (no pun intended) and slapping a nasty Family-Unfriendly Aesop on the end. If the game had carried on as a spy pastiche, it might have been remembered more fondly.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion is an interesting example. Now, some fans tend to shout and scrape at it being "dumbed down" as compared to its predecessors, but as far as plot goes, Todd Howard, the producer and project lead, actually went ahead and said he wasn't completely satisfied with the story in an interview and that he wanted to do more, but time constraints and a desire for a more immediate focus in the particular installment led to a lot being cut, mostly political stuff involving the Elder Council.
    • Interestingly, Skyrim exposed this quite a bit. Most of the in-game books describe the Oblivion Crisis in ways that Bethesda were unable (or unwilling) to do within the actual game. As someone on Something Awful said: Man, this Oblivion Crisis sounded great. Maybe they should have made a game based on it?
  • Skyrim has its own problems, namely with the Civil War. An elaborate Backstory is set up that provides the details for all the major events that led up to it. As the Empire fell into decline since Oblivion, the Thalmor rose up to set up their own rival empire called the Aldmeri Dominion. The most recent war between the two strained relations between Skyrim and the Empire even further, resulting in Jarl Ulfric starting a rebellion for independence. Both the Imperials and the rebels have their good and bad points, and you ultimately find out that the Thalmor are pulling both sides' strings in the background for their own ends. However, the main plot of Skyrim has little to nothing to do with any of this, the civil war is just a set of optional sidequests that can be safely ignored, and you don’t get to do any real damage to the Thalmor regardless of what you do.
    • However, there is always the possibility of a Thalmor-related expansion pack or DLC...or even the next big game being about subverting the Thalmor, Given that everyone hates the Thalmor's guts, just being anti-Thalmor is likely to cause the DLC-hating gamers to hit "Download" the second they ca.
  • Star Ocean Till the End of Time starts off dealing with a human who is forced to shelter with a pair of borderline-terrorists after crash-landing on an undeveloped, fantastical planet, and taking part in a war between the theocracy Aquaria and the monarchy Airyglyph. The aliens chasing Fayt catch up to him, moving the plot clumsily from a more traditional RPG world into outer space - but even this wasn't so bad. The most controversial moment is when the characters cross over into the 'fourth dimension', and emerge in a completely new world in which it turns out that their entire universe is a gigantic MMORPG. Even the thought of the twist about the setting was wasted, because it felt like they hardly did anything with it. They could have discovered one of their own was actually a Player Character, or done something to make the surprise worthwhile beyond bellybutton gazing...
    • Star Ocean the Last Hope isn't free from this either. Aside from criticisms of the plot's execution overall, there's also the part where Edge and crew get sucked through a wormhole, transporting them to an alternate Earth in the year 1957. Edge is tricked into giving advanced technology to an underdeveloped planet, which results in its destruction. This itself is an interesting idea, however apart from causing Edge to angst about it for several hours, further enforcing the Aesop about how forced evolution is bad (which is broken repeatedly by the other installments) and introducing Meracle, that segment could have been removed completely without changing the story at all.
  • God of War: Chains of Olympus opens with Helios, god of the sun, being kidnapped and thus plunging the world into everlasting darkness. Morpheus takes advantage of this and puts all of the gods into a coma, building himself up to be the Big Bad of the game. Halfway through the game, this element is dropped, and it turns out Persephone released the Titan Atlas to kidnap Helios and destroy the pillar that held the world up, killing everyone in order to put an end to her marriage with Hades and get back at him and Zeus for arranging it. You don't even get to fight Morpheus in the game, just some of his armies, and only for a scant few levels.
  • Star Fox Assault opened up with Andross' nephew Andrew leading an assault on the Cornerian Army with the Star Fox team taking an epic chase through a jungle full of robots and a comical fight against a giant robot Andrew head, ending with Andrew giving an ego-fueled speech about how awesome he is... and then is quickly killed by the real bad guys; the Borg-like Aparoids; and is never heard from again.
    • Andrew did return in the DS sequel, Star Fox Command, piloting a literal Giant Enemy Crab, but the Multiple Endings made it difficult to determine what actually happened within the series' canon until the next game comes out.
      • Another example of this in the series happened at the beginning of Star Fox Adventures, Krystal mentioned that she is searching for her parents. This was never brought up ever again in the series.
        • Krystal's wasted plot gets even worse. The manual states that she is the only survivor of her home planet. Cerinia is never referred to again.
        • Krystal gets it terribly. She was originally going to be one of the main characters of Dinosaur Planet, but when Nintendo forced Rare to make it into a Star Fox game, she was made into a Distressed Damsel who's playable for less than half an hour so Fox would get more screen time.
  • Eternal Sonata. As if ignoring the entire Frederic Chopin storyline wasn't bad enough, the game does it again with the Count Waltz plot, sending the heroes to Dreamworld Moon-Purgatory to chase after some monster who wasn't really harming anyone, without giving the Forte-Baroque tension a proper ending. The PS3 remake at least lets Count Waltz survive for one more chapter, during which time his character is fleshed out just a little more, though at the end of the day he's still just doing everything For the Evulz. And Allegretto is still the main character for most of the game.
  • Lufia II does a lot of setting up of Lufia, which is expected of a prequel. It also introduces an awesome being above the usual four Sinistrels, Aerik the Absolute, who appears to be commanding Erim and monitoring the conflict between humans and Sinitrels with great interest... but otherwise doesn't appear again. Ever. Not in that game, not in the two made after it, never again. Nor the idea that the Dualblade is an aware being that heavily influences the battle between humans and Sinistrel and can be wielded by either; after Lufia II, it's just a really kickass sword that is needed to stop the Sinistrels, ala the Master Sword.
    • Screw that, what about the fact that it's implied that Lufia and the Hero from the game finally have a relationship? You know, joining The Chosen One's line with the Sinistral's blood? We could have had a game where the Hero winds up fighting his great-grandmother! Instead, we got a watered-down Ruins Chasers and then a side-story.
  • The game Malice. The manual, back cover and online plans suggest that this was basically going to be a game along the lines of Okami as made by the team that did Crash Twinsanity and scripted by JhonenVasquez, all but promising a bizarre Jigsaw Puzzle Plot facilitated by titular protagonist's amnesia and delightfully confusing Time Travel. Instead we get a boring but perfectly straightforward romp through reality courtesy of a cookie-cutter badass, supercilious action girl and crap gameplay.
  • The obscure Play Station 2 game Stretch Panic (known as Freak Out in Europe) had a really cool mechanic wherein the tiny heroine could, by means of a weird shadowy scarf-thing, grab and stretch anything, from the enemies to the environment, and use it in various neat ways. What does the gameplay consists of? Ten boss battles, and four smallish maps where you gain points to prepare for said boss battles.
  • Semi-obscure shooter from Polyphony Digital, Omega Boost. Yes, shooter. Originally conceived as a tech demo, they popped an utterly epic-looking intro and a few cutscenes onto the game that just leaves you wanting a full blown series, as remnants of all world countries banded together to create the titular supermech. Worse yet, its cutscenes are live-action, with an awesome set as the control room. The plotline involves you fighting your way to a giant space station which the invaders used to send themselves into humanity's past to soften their landing, specifically they popped an "Alpha Core" virus into ENIAC to slowly grow and expand and turn all our combat machinery against us at the crucial moment, and now you must defeat the station's guardian, shoot yourself into the past, and fight your way back to Earth to destroy the Alpha Core before it can jump from computer to computer with humanity's discovery of the internet.
    • In case you're wondering why that wastes a perfectly good plot, the game itself is a rail shooter. Somewhat like Zone of the Enders, but not quite. It has six levels. Some levels don't even have bosses. It's Nintendo Hard. And when you finish a level (or the game)...let's just say that including a plot ruined an otherwise good game.
  • Some would see Tales of Legendia to have a lot of these, but in fact many of them are resolved in the Character Quests.
  • Neverwinter Nights has a whole load of plots they could have introduced that would have made the game way better. More interaction with Aribeth in between chapters 1 and 2 would have been a good addition.
    • And a sequel to that one, giving more closure to Aribeth's story.
  • Jade Empire had a morality system with loads of potential and was even described in-game as not being purely good or purely evil, and that an overbearing Open Palm follower could be just as bad for the people around them as the worst excesses of the Closed Fist. Instead, any given Closed Fist action that the protagonist can take is generally thuggish or downright evil and we get the Mother Teresa vs. Baby Eating dichotomy. As mentioned on the work's page, playing the Closed Fist path all the way through will turn the protagonist into a Complete Monster.
  • Obsidian is guilty of this on at least two counts due to Executive Meddling. All content giving anyone any closure at all was cut from Knights of the Old Republic 2 due to Lucas Arts forcing them to rush for a Christmas release date, and Neeshka and Bishop were cut from Neverwinter Nights 2 due to time constraints.
    • Mask of the Betrayer's campaign seemed to be be clearly building towards the destruction of the Wall of the Faithless only to be seemingly denied at the very last moment. Some players assert that Wizards of the Coasts' notorious enforcement of story control may have been responsible.
  • A Mario example is Super Mario Sunshine. Mario and Peach leave for a tropical vacation, but Mario is arrested on charges of vandalism and pollution, Peach is unable to exert her royal authority on the island, the mysterious Shine Sprites have scattered and fled from the pollution, and poor Mario is sentenced to clean up the island while he tries to find out who's really behind the mess. Early on in the game, you learn that it's just Bowser's son who wants to kidnap Peach, and then the game forgets about the plot in favor of collecting Shines and blue coins (which you trade in for, wait for it, Shines).
  • ACE3: The Final was, as its name implies, the last game in its series. The plot is divided between two worlds, one set After the End and featuring appropriate series like Gundam X, Eureka Seven, and Overman King Gainer. No problem there. However, the "World A" plot simply rehashes three series already used in the previous two games (Chars Counterattack, Prince of Darkness, and Metal Armor Dragonar) with a couple of token stages for Macross Plus and Wings of Rean. To add insult to injury, several series are thrown in as a bonus, providing characters and mecha but zero plot relevance, meaning that we get a lazy rehash instead of, say, dealing with the Alliance/ZAFT war or the Mariemaia Army. As a final kick in the pants, one of the plotless series is Turn a Gundam - which would have fit the "World B" plot like a glove.
  • R-Type is absolutely made of awesome plot. The backstory is basically that humans in the future created an artificial lifeform (the Bydo) that they lost control of. In order to prevent the lifeform from screwing up their present, they shifted them to another dimension, which, you know, alright. Then the Bydo found out how to manipulate their dimension to travel through time and attacked the humans of the past in order to gain dominance. Past humanity then builds the R-Type fighters, takes sample of Bydo DNA and creates Force weapons, and fights back. This amounts to, in the games, some quotes and loads and loads of ambiguous endings. And R-Type Final doesn't explain anything, despite being the last game in the series. So much for time-traveling human creations with a thirst for destruction and revenge: it's just a Nintendo Hard side-scrollers shoot-'em-up.
  • The adventure game The Colonel's Bequest (and its sequel, Dagger of Amon Ra - turns out Roberta Williams isn't remotely as good a writer as she thinks). The game is full of elaborate (if cliched) characters that have all sorts of plotting and intrigue going on in between them - all of which is completely irrelevant because they all die like mayflies. The ultimate goal of the game is to be able to know that Dead Guy A that you never met before was going to Dead Girl B that you hadn't known either. Why would the protagonist even care?
  • And then there's Secret of Evermore, which has the hero and his dog transported into a virtual world created by the minds of the four people trapped within. Gradually, all of them discover that evil versions of the four characters are wreaking havoc on Evermore, each of whom claims to either be the original person or the person's own dark side, and that their amorality makes them stronger and more fit to survive in this new world than their "good" selves. So it's pretty obvious we're heading into Shadow Archetype and Enemy Without territory, probably due to the fact that Evermore's not only embodying the founders' conscious wishes, but also their unconscious fears and doubts, right? Well, not exactly, since it turns out they're actually just robot doubles built by the professor's evil robot butler. It's a shame too, since the idea being strongly hinted at up until that point was a whole lot more interesting.
  • Fahrenheit (2005 video game)/Fahrenheit. What began as a murder mystery with some fresh ideas in both storytelling and gameplay ended in what can only be described as a shameless rip-off of The Matrix using Simon Says to control the combat.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic V: Hammers of Fate. The previous game concludes with the strong implication that main character Isabel has been irrevocably corrupted by Demons. Then we're introduced to the shock revelation that she is in fact the Big Bad's new Dragon in disguise, while the real Isabel has been spending quality time underground with her husband's murderer, thereby straining the logic of the prequel's ending in several directions and axes.
    • While that twist was not totally ridiculous (said succubus pulled a different version of the same trick twice already in the original game), there were a few other things which were off in the new one. One is the aforementioned apparent indiference of Isabel toward the fact that her boyfriend killed her previous husband, who she was so obsessed with that she went on a quest to have a necromancer revive, with predictable results). Another is how the Griffin Empire still had so much fight left in it - in the original game it had been invaded or otherwise beaten up by demons, necromancers, and then by a combined force of elves, rebel humans, and wizards. And they send an army to basically invade the Demon Sovereign's prison/castle. Despite all these losses and being ruled by a fake queen so obviously evil that the angels in the army leave, and the real queen being very much alive (if still very much an idiot), the Griffin Empire is still a huge threat to everyone else.
  • In Golden Sun, there's a minor but significant subplot regarding the origins of Sheba, a girl who fell from the sky and was adopted as the "holy child" of a small community due to her powers as a Jupiter Adept. In the latter half of the second game, there are a lot of hints dropped about this (among other things, a civilization of Jupiter Adepts that raised their greatest city into the sky, where it became the setting's moon) and it seems like the game is building up to a reveal that Sheba is one of the Anemos...but it never happens! In the end, despite the discovery of her origins being the entire reason she joined the party in the first place, the entire subplot remains unresolved.
    • The sequel not only did not resolve this. It added even more unresolved plot points. The most important one is obviously the setup for another possible sequel, but the rest...
    • Dark Dawn also does this in a contained manner, and subverts it. The game starts with a plot (Psynergy Vortexes) and an errand (Tyrell broke the glider; get some parts so we can fix/replace it). Then the bad guys show up and send your journey Off the Rails into this other adventure that involves multiple international crises, an evil artificial eclipse filled with strange superpowered monsters, and a giant laser beam. In The Stinger, our heroes return home only to find a giant Psynergy Vortex looming over their house. Oh Crap.
  • Suikoden V has a variation. If you choose to stand and fight at one point, Roy makes a Heroic Sacrifice, impersonating the Prince in a dishonorable duel with Childerich, dying in a hail of arrows, but holding off the attack long enough for The Cavalry to arrive. Unfortunately, most players won't see it, since it locks out the best ending. The fact that that means that Roy's death ensures that his love interest dies later on turns a Crowning Moment of Awesome into what amounts to a Shoot the Shaggy Dog. Wall, meet head. Head, wall.
    • One of Suikoden V's Bad Endings offers another potentially interesting plot: If Roy defeats the Prince in their duel, he knocks him into a coma and has to impersonate him, leading the rebellion in his place. The fact this is used for a Bad End tells you how well that worked out, but imagine if that was an actual, playable plot twist...!
  • Backyard Sports. When the pros were introduced in Backyard Football, the fanbase was greatly expanded to people who wanted to play as the pros, but the game was a waste because the pros were both already better than the kids and lame in personality. When Backyard Baseball 2001 changed the team page style, people thought there would be awards; there wasn't any besides trophies. There are many more examples one could list, but too many to put on this page.
  • Fallout 3 DLC Mothership Zeta had such a potential for a plot instrumented by the Enclave to take the alien tech and then go back to earth to reverse engineer it as well as having a space faring space ship to get the hell out of dodge, too bad the Enclave Officer died before that ever happened and all we got was some mediocre DLC
    • Similarly, Operation Anchorage was the series' first chance ever to take the player back and show them what the US was actually like before the bombs flew. Instead, it's a straight-up shootout in the frozen tundra of Alaska with no period information at all, that isn't at all graphically impressive or interesting.
      • While that DLC may have been disappointing, it's certainly not the case that the player gets to see what the US had been like. You spend the game exploring ruins, seeing old posters, reading journal entries from before the war, and so on. Virtually every visual element in the game, including the user interface and the loading screens, implies an ironic contrast between the pre-war world and the current world. If that's not enough, there was the Tranquility Lane segment.
      • Operation Anchorage was not an accurate simulation of pre-War America. General Chase was going insane at that point and heavily modified the simulation. It makes a lot of sense that he made it a straight shooter with you rolling the Chinese almost single handedly.
    • Mothership Zeta is very debatable. It is the only possible instance in the series where aliens might be shown to be canon. Fallout 1, Fallout 2 and Fallout New Vegas only treat aliens as non-canon. The alien ship in the first two games only appear during a special random encounter, which are non-canon encounters that are movie references or inside jokes. In Fallout New Vegas, aliens only appear if you have the Wild Wasteland trait, a trait that's sole function is to show non-canon material. Even in Fallout 3, there are no references to aliens anywhere outside a single, unmarked location and a DLC that never gets referenced. Considering you can actually obliterate a large chunk of the Earth's surface during the DLC, which never gets acknowledged, there is a high chance it is classified as non-canon.
  • Riviera the Promised Land: in the second chapter, the characters talk about the Moon, and mention that, according to legend, it was supposed to be a weapon of the Gods. Considering that Asgard was also supposed to be a 'legend' (thus, All Myths Are True), you'd expect that the Moon would end up being an important part of the story. This fact isn't so much as thought of again for the rest of the game.
  • In the fifth chapter of Tales of Monkey Island, Guybrush finds himself in the afterlife and in need of a way back to the land of the living. First he uses the same method as LeChuck originally did in Secret of Monkey Island to return as a ghost. After being defeated the same way LeChuck was in Secret, he possesses his own corpse, similar to how LeChuck returned as a zombie in Revenge of LeChuck. Guybrush even notes that possessing his own body sounds familiar, and at an earlier point, lists off all the forms LeChuck has appeared in and stating that he doesn't want to be any of those. At that point you sort of expect a voodoo explosion like in Curse of Monkey Island, and following the rest of the steps up to and including the Cursed Cutlass of Kaflu, which restored LeChuck's human form in the first chapter of Tales. Instead they cut it short there and move straight on to the final battle (after a couple of puzzles, of course).
  • Quite a few subplots in Rogue Galaxy weren't explored enough, particularly the war between Longardia and Draxia, and the study of Rune and its effects. The fact that the party members' backstories weren't well developed enough leads to much grumbles.
    • The game actually drops the main conflict at the end to focus on the Rune subplot. The fact that we know next to nothing about Rune renders much of the final act meaningless--what does it matter if so-and-so is the source of all Rune? You never did anything beyond vaguely imply that Rune was bad.
  • Devil May Cry 4 introduces Gloria, a Darkskinned Blonde who wields curved daggers and fights in a style reminiscent of the series' earlier character Lucia. Judging from the fans' response to the second game, it was assumed that Gloria would be a tie-in, or an attempt to fix it by way of remake. Instead, Gloria is really the disguise for Trish, an already established character. Not only will we never see Gloria again, they never quite explained just how Trish got the ability to transform into her.
    • The same could be said for Nero's backstory and the origin of his powers. The best we get is a questionably canon novelization by the game's scenario writer.
  • Dr. Lantis of Star Ocean the Second Story. Very little is known about him unless you find the difficult Secret Files/meet Philia in an easily missable second Private Action, and even then, there still isn't much known about him. Yet, he is one of the most, if not the most, pivotal character in the entire game. He's the reason why the Ten Wise Men even exist, and he is the reason why Nede ends up the way it does in the game. Course you wouldn't know any of that if you never read the Secret Files. Even if you did, you only get a basic recap of what happened, and beyond that? Next to nothing, except that he is a renowned scientist and that he is insane. Even the final confrontation adds nothing new about him. What was he like as a character? What was he like as a father? What were his ambitions before Philia's death? Was he an otherwise good person who snapped at the loss of his daughter? Was he a narcissistic jerkass? Was he evil? All of the above? None of it? We may never know.
  • The "Guardian of Love" in Star Ocean the Second Story. You only know that she killed the original guardian and that she's the chief servant of the Ten Wise Men. How did she get there? Was she seduced into darkness or just always bad and on the 'right side'? Why would the Ten Wise Men need a 'chief servant' anyway? It is a mystery.
  • Final Fantasy VIII leaves a lot of the motivations of its villains implied at best rather than exploring them in depth; Seifer's "romantic dream" of being the knight to a sorceress, though mentioned on several occasions and presented as the main means by which Ultimecia manipulates him, isn't described in detail, and Ultimecia's reasons for wanting to compress time are left almost entirely up to the player's interpretation of a few lines delivered at the end of the final boss fight.
    • Dissidia 012 duodecim puts both Squall and his father Laguna into the cast together... and shows them interacting a grand total of once, in a supplementary scene unlocked by one of the reports. On top of this, plot-induced amnesia means that neither character has any way of even being aware of their connection, shooting down any chance of showing any kind of acknowledgement of or reaction to The Un-Reveal from their source game.
  • Final Fantasy XII had a pretty nice story going with all the political stuff and the way it treats wars. You also get a fallen knight, a fallen princess who kicks ass, a sky pirate whose father is a Mad Scientist, and an estranged Viera. Unfortunately, your protagonist is not one of them. You play a young boy whose connection to all the shenanigans is that he believed the fallen knight to have killed his brother. All well and good, except it's pretty much solved within a few hours of their first meeting. After that, and their attempt to rescue his girl, he and his girl are pretty much just there in terms of plot. Worse, since he's your main character, the makers just had to shoehorn in a couple of scenes of him interacting with the princess when it's not hard to see another, more plot relevant character fitting better in his place. All that said, it's still not a bad story. Unfortunately, the game's built like an MMORPG, and plays a lot like Final Fantasy Online. What that means is that you're going to spend so much time grinding and collecting stuff that you're likely to forget there was a story. Doesn't help that the music used in cutscenes are pretty much the same music you always hear on the maps with few exceptions.
    • Even worse, the game starts off with a much better version of Vaan; his older brother Reks. Not only does Reks actually have a much better motivation, he has more personal connections to the other characters and could have had a greater impact on the plot. Instead he is killed and replaced by the younger brother he went to war for.
      • Hey, on that note, Ivalice Alliance has basically nothing to do with Final Fantasy Tactics. According to the FF Wiki, it even retconned the half of the Lucavi that didn't actually appear, but were somewhat planned.
  • Shooter's Solitude system_4, a Vertical Scrolling Shooter by the same developer of Warning Forever, has four different weapons, a color-based scoring system somewhat similar to that of Radiant Silvergun, and hidden Fighting Game-style commands for quick Power Ups, faster ship speed, and special moves. Unfortunately, the game is only one stage long, and Word of God asserts that the game is finished and he won't be making a new version, let alone more stages.
  • The backstory of Do Don Pachi Dai-Fukkatsu reveals the location of the DonPachi Corps' HQ: a space-time fold. A neat idea, unfortunately, it is hardly fleshed out in-game; you only see the space-time fold at the beginning of the game (when you Time Travel back to 2008) and at the end, when you head back to base or Colonel Gottvin challenges you at the end of t Che second loop.
  • Children's Week in World of Warcraft, in which players care for a war orphan for a week, had the potential to show the social consequences of war in Azeroth. There is also the part where your Draenei/Blood Elf orphan is implied to have great power as a shaman/Blood Knight and make some considerable impact on the world in the future, but nothing is likely to come of it. Though others argue the characters were MarySues
    • The Shatterspear are a troll tribe with a history similar to the Darkspear, they were a small Jungle troll tribe that was forced out by the other trolls, settling in a sealed area near Moonglade the base of the druids and are described as reclusive and uininterested in claiming further territory on the official site. They were finally going to join the Horde in Cataclysm, which could mean the player trolls are no longer composed of the remnants of one small tribe and/or the Shatterspear are the reason trolls now have the druid class. Oh wait turns out the Shatterspear are just destroyed in a starting level Night elf quest, having got the impossible mission to conquer the Night Elf's territory with their small village, and they end up being killed with their village being burnt down and neither any characters or the plot expressing any sympathy to them. The explanation for Troll druids is that they were somehow always there and the Plot Hole with the player trolls population is still there.
    • The Worgen were originally extra-dimensional hellhounds, and it was heavily implied that although they appeared near mindless, they were actually quite intelligent, having pack leadership and territorial instincts. However, all that was cast aside when they decided to retcon the Worgen into being just druids who tried to be wolves but went crazy.
    • Azjol'Nerub. This underground city of sapient spider-people was huge when it was first seen in Warcraft III, spread out across three single-player missions, when most missions are one single city or battle. According to the lore and previous games, the Nerubians aren't actually evil or hostile to playable races, just incredibly alien. They are distantly related to the Qiraji empire that were major villains in vanilla Warcraft, though. The Nerubians fell when the Lich King invaded their underground city. To defend themselves, they dug deeper to retreat further underground, maybe contributing to the awakening of the nearby Old God. All in all, it sounds like great potential for a raid or major quest hub. Developers discussed implementing Azjol'Nerub as the first underground zone in World of Warcraft. What actually happened? Two five-man instances, one of which was cool-looking but tiny and the other of which was cool-looking but unoriginal.
    • Uldum, in Cataclysm. The zone was one of the most anticipated in the run up to the expansion, as lore-wise it's been alluded to ever since an intriguing dead-end quest chain in classic WoW, and the massive, sealed entrance (guarded by Elite Mooks no less) taunted players for years. It was the subject of many Epileptic Trees with regard to its connection to the Titans, and the first info released discussed a mysterious new race of catpeople connected to the Titans, who were in the midst of a civil war. The vast majority of the zone's story ended up being devoted to one long parody of Raiders of the Lost Ark, with comparatively little development given to the Tol'Vir and their dealings with Deathwing. Many story elements weren't even explained in terms of the Warcraft lore angle because the focus was on shoehorning elements into the parody and handwaving it under Rule of Funny (ie: Belloc Brightblade is an Expy of Indy's rival, but we never get an in-universe explanation for why the Horde's main archaeology trainer is working for the bad guys, and he's gone just as quick as he shows up). The zone has become something of a Base Breaker as time goes on, and a flashpoint for players growing weary of the increasingly heavy use of pop culture references in the game.
    • The Scarlet Crusade is a Knight Templar organization that consists of a huge chunk of Lordaeron's population who decided to stay and fight off the Zombie Apocalypse, becoming quite extreme in the process. They're a Properly Paranoid sort, since the Evil Cultists could infiltrate them and release the plague, and so have become racist and have taken to torturing... almost everyone they can get their hands on, even each other. Unfortunately, they are simply used to contrast with the Always Chaotic Evil playable zombie race, and their closest allies, the Alliance, are forced to be their enemies due to the four dungeons they put in, for gameplay purposes. Never are they shown sympathetically, and instead are used as mooks for everyone to mow down without even any acknowledgement of having worked with them against the Big Bad Lich King in the past.
  • Darkest of Days had an amazing premise: you're an MIA of the Battle of Little Big Horn whisked away to the future due to your minimal impact in history to join the Time Police. In the hands of a good developer, it could be an amazing game. Unfortunately, the guys who came up with it were a small Iowa based studio who decided to use the concept for their debut game. The result was not pretty. I understand wanting to use this idea as soon as possible but there IS such a thing as aiming too high...
  • Crackdown 2. What's that, you say? A government military initiative bred unthinking, unquestioning, supersoldiers with incredible physical abilities and firearm skills, and they're using them to enforce what might be a secret police state? The agency in question (might have) planted and detonated a bomb in their own tower in order to kill a crowd of journalists who spoke out against them? They might have engineered the entire zombie plague (or at very least are deliberately withholding a cure) just to convince people that their presence was needed? Yeah, they might've, but the game sure as heck doesn't do anything with that beyond the subtlest of implications.
  • Halo Wars is a solid RTS but the story is one huge let down. It's mostly centered around Harvest except it's not. Harvest don't play that much of a role as was led to believe. Not only that the story is very linear and narrow. In fact the The Spirit Of Fire seems almost isolated despite being part of a massive mobilized space fleet to take back the outer colonies. There's not even any interaction between the fleet captains/commanders. There was also a Offscreen Moment of Awesome where they could have introduced Preston Cole into the game series. Instead he's contacted off screen. Basically what was suppose to be an epic game turned out to be anything but story wise.
  • Halo: Reach. You would expect, having a brief look at the Halo wiki and/or reading The Fall of Reach, most of the game would take place on August 30, 2552, the date the Battle of Reach begins and ends in an overwhelming Covenant victory. Noble Team fights bravely but futilely in a series of enormous battles that slowly picks the team off, ending with a final stand, or, maybe, a handful escaping. Nope. The game begins in late July, and the first half of the game actually revolves around determining the source of a Covenant raid on the planet, centered around an ONI facility called Sword Base. The second half features the usual lone wolf antics we've come to expect from Halo. Everyone but Jun dies, the worst being Noble Six who goes down in a pointless Last Stand. Especially strange considering in First Strike there were surviving UNSC forces on Reach up to a week after August 30, including SPARTANs conducting guerrilla-style operations. Not only does Reach throw established canon out the window, it also ends the series in a rather unsatisfying way. It's still a very fun romp.
    • To be fair to canon, the journal bundled with collector's editions did a good job with connecting the plot of Reach to the rest of the expanded universe, including explaining why Cortana was in the Forerunner ruins when she should have been on the Pillar of Autumn. She split herself in two in order to be in both places at once. Noble Six's last stand wasn't pointless, s/he stayed behind to ensure the Pillar of Autumn could escape, destroying a Covenant cruiser in the process. Plus as a Spartan III, s/he is a a disposable Spartan intended for suicide missions. The real Wasted Plot here was Six's sabre training. We get a third of a level with six flying a sabre before s/he's back on his/her feet. It was a fun, short segment that really should have been more of the game. Hopefully 343 Industries will take a cue from player feedback and make a good space simulator game.
    • There was also the fact you actually missed a lot of the actual major battles of reach (which seems to be a annoying trend with bungie). Which is also a case of this trope mixed with Offscreen Moment of Awesome. All the interesting stuff happens in THE BACKGROUND!!.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 has one at the end of Silver's story. Blaze becomes the new living seal for Iblis, and seals herself in another dimension. What does Sega do with this? Do they use it as a chance for new possibilities? Do they use it to explain Sonic Rush Series? Do they do anything? NO. They threw it all out with the Reset Button ending.
    • The entire game looks like this if you think about it, if the Moral Dissonance involving Elise's father wasn't present ( Sealing an Eldritch Abomination in her, and making sure she never cries, and in turn, show not much emotion), Mephiles has incredibly clear motives, just no clear plan, some things the Idiot Plot had done could also have been cleared up as well.
      • Sonic Adventure 2 had some of this as well, though it's only minor. Professor Gerald is, as stated in game, Eggman's Grandfather. Therefore Maria must also be related to Eggman quite closely. A cousin, possibly even a sister. Yet the game never looks at how their deaths affected HIM. It would have been interesting to see Eggman's reaction to finding out what happened to his family. It could possibly have been even MORE interesting to show that he already knew and that this was his motivation for trying to take over the world... he wants to overthrow the evil, oppressive regime that killed his family. Admittedly, this would result in some SERIOUS Grey and Gray Morality and possibly have thrown the series too far into Darker and Edgier territory if handled badly.
    • Sonic Generations unfortunately falls under this. They don't delve enough into the plot, it's pretty much just run through the levels and save the world. In fact, after defeating the first boss, you could skip the entire Dreamcast and Modern era and not miss a thing.
      • Not helped by the fact that their choice of levels was also They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: of the Dreamcast and Modern era, four of the six levels (plus a boss battle) have the same basic theme (a city, of which the boss battle and one level are in ruins), of which only two of them really work, as the other games had better or more iconic levels that could have been chosen to represent them.
  • On the subject of the Sonic series, this was both they wasted a perfectly good plot AND character: Shadow the Hedgehog. A huge contrast to the titular character Sonic, he was the artificial Anti-Hero Ultimate Lifeform (heck, he's the Trope Namer) who was on a mission to avenge the deaths of his friend Maria and his creator Prof. Gerald Robotnik, both murdered in cold blood on the space colony Ark 50 years ago. His appearance in the second Adventure game was originally supposed to be his last, but his popularity skyrocketed immensely, to the point where the developers gave him his own Story Arc. [1] This led to a world of pointless sub-plots (Shadow being an android/clone of the real Shadow being the notorious example, but even that was debunked in Shadow the Hedgehog in the last story. Eggman openly admits that he was, in fact, the real Shadow and he saved him after his apparent death in Sonic Adventure 2), and it turn one of the most badass characters in the franchise into a Jerkass Gary Stu with constant Identity Amnesia and Wangst. Oh, and he's part-alien too. Yep, his blood comes from an advance alien race that, while having NO MENTION of their existence before hand, suddenly appear in his game.
  • Valkyria Chronicles has the female lead discover her heritage as an invincible, blue-fire-clad angel of destruction, after growing up an orphan who never knew her parents and had to struggle to make it on her own her whole life, and come into the ability to channel the energies of ragnite, the resource the war of the game is being fought over in the first place. None of this is important, or even addressed, and instead she becomes suicidal over her powers.
  • The Director's Cut edition of the Play Station 2 remake of Tales of Destiny includes a version of the story where you could play through the game from Leon's perspective instead of Stahn's. It's handled well and has significant differences, though fans were curious about how it would end, since during the usual course of the story Leon makes a Heroic Sacrifice. Letting him survive would open up a lot of interesting possibilities regarding Leon and Rutee- Leon finally getting a chance to see his father not Brainwashed and Crazy, Rutee getting to know her brother, the Katrea family getting some touching closure, and Leon getting to confront the man who ruined his life and come to grips with his identity. So how did Namco-Bandai handle this? He still makes a Heroic Sacrifice, and the game ends there.
    • Well, can't blame Namdai for avoiding screwing up continuity (besides, the Tales series was never big on What-Iffing). What they could have done, though, was showing some sort of epilogue detailing how and why Elraine brought him back to life, setting the stage for Tales of Destiny 2.
  • Ace Combat 6 has not one, but two! The game has four initially-unrelated storylines. One involves an allied fighter pilot upset over the fact that they were forced to abandon their nation's capital (where his family lived) to enemy occupation. The second is about a refugee from the capital who believes her husband to have been killed in the defense of the city, who is now looking for her daughter, who went missing during the attack. The third followsan enemy intelligence officer stationed in the occupied capital. The fourth is about an allied tank commander hatching a Three Kings style plot to rob a bank under cover of the battle to liberate the capital.
    • The refugee's and intel officer's stories intertwine when the officer runs into the refugee's daughter (who has organized a mini La Résistance composed of the city's war orphans). Upon the city's liberation, the mother and daughter are reunited (and the intel officer is inspired to defect). The obvious (and heartwarming) way to tie in the fighter pilot's story would have been to have him turn out to be the husband/father of the refugee and her daughter. Nope. Instead we're told that his family, who he's been fighting to liberate for the entire game, were killed during the initial invasion. The ending of the game eventually shows them meeting and befriending each other, presumably becoming each other's Replacement Goldfish. Because life goes on and you can overcome tragedies as long as you have substitutes for your lost loved ones, right?
    • But wait, there was a fourth plotline! The tank commander/wannabe bank robber! Yeah, nothing ever happens with him except accidentally rescuing the intel officer and refugee's daughter from an incredibly pointless Locked In An Abandoned Tunnel situation, which was both completely superfluous in the first place and could've been solved by any other Deus Ex Machina they cared to whip up without wasting an entire plotline just to explain how that tank crew came to be there at that particular moment.
  • The Play Station 2 game Steambot Chronicles has this happen to quite a few potentially interesting plotlines (one of which includes being able to become the leader of two organizations).
  • Starcraft II hints at very early in the story (and it becomes obvious soon after that) that Tychus is being forced by Mengsk to eventually betray Raynor. This doesn't manifest itself as the death of a major character, or the loss of a decisive battle, or really much of anything. It finally occurs in the very last cutscene of the game and doesn't even accomplish anything besides Tychus' (apparent) death.
    • That still has yet to be seen, with SCII only 1/3 done, story-wise. But...judging by how the rest of the game went, it's a safe guess that Raynor will be too caught up in finally having Kerrigan back to care, or even acknowledge that he just killed his friend of who knows how many years. Wasted plot, indeed.
  • Clive Barker's Jericho has a small band of government-ordained fighters of the supernatural who are, themselves, supernatural. Fairly early on, the player character and leader is killed - and Body Surfs from one party member to another whenever the player wants to control someone else, talking and using his healing powers through them. This is barely commented on. Yes, it's a shooter/horror game much more interested in gore, but the idea of someone being unable to act or even communicate except through others, and the issues that might result, is fascinating.
  • Similarly, in Geist the player character is separated from his body. As a ghost he can't be seen or heard or touch anything, but he can possess inanimate objects, use them to scare living beings, and then possess them. He has to rescue a captured friend, find his body, and deal with the situation... and he's a Silent Protagonist. He speaks very briefly as a parrot and a dog trainer, so he hasn't been rendered mute - he's just a total blank waiting for the player character to fill him.
  • Metroid Prime: Hunters gave its eponymous hunters various interesting motives for coming to the Alimbic System, ranging from keeping the "Ultimate Power" out of evil hands to seeking vengeance against Samus. Not one of these backstories ever has any relevance to the plot, except perhaps Sylux's possible cameo at the end of Prime 3.
  • Metroid: Other M: how it drops the Deleter subplot as soon as all the GF Soldiers are dead. Or Sector Zero and the unfreezable Metroids. Funnily enough, the only Freeze proof Metroid we see GETS FROZEN..
  • The first Luminous Arc has a particularly infuriating variety of this. Partway through the game, it's revealed that the main character and his brother are dragons. But for whatever reason, they still look human. Why or how this is the case is never explained, and no other dragons, in human form or otherwise are ever seen in the game.
  • Oh, Tales of Vesperia, the game that uses the subtitle to choose your own justice RPG. The main character and his best friend promise to each other as children that they will change their corrupt home for the better by joining the knights together and change their society from the inside, only for the main character to realize that the knights themselves are just as corrupt, and then quits against his best friend's wishes not even a year later. Despite that the main character still maintains his wish to change his home for the better, just not from being in the knights (sounds familiar?). You'd think with a set up like that the story could really end up doing its subtitle justice. You'd think that the story could end up being a morally ambiguous tale in which both the main character and his best friend both walk different paths to reach the same goal. That is until they introduce the innocent princess Estellise, and basically make the game about her. Then when they finally do have Yuri do something that is morally ambiguous yet right, considering that there was nothing that Flynn could do to help the situation and have Flynn call out Yuri on it, and yet only have Yuri address it with just one or two lines and then promptly drop it. What's worse is that over the course of the game it is Yuri who ultimately changes the world for the better, while Flynn ends up being the Useless Reasonable Authority Figure who only got his post as Commandant because Yuri and the party killed off the current Commandant Alexei.
    • The PS3 version of the game all but throws out the very concept of the game by having Flynn join your party, basically admitting to the fact that Flynn was useless any other way.
    • Also Yuri leaving the knights after only spending a few months there, you'd think that Yuri would have experienced something so horrific and wrong which would lead to him quitting. The Gaiden movie, happily river stomps on your expectations, and then makes it even worse by basically having both Yuri and Flynn kill a Corrupt Bureaucrat. And then make the whole reason why Yuri left the knights, his father figure dying, and Yuri against following any other leader, and worse of all Flynn understanding of the whole ordeal.
  • Youju Senki AD 2048 could have just been an X-rated, post-apocalyptic turn-based strategy game with an interesting story about genetically engineered Super Soldiers. Unfortunately, the game was too short to really develop the story and characters, and the frustrating, clumsy battle system meant that many players never even got that far.
  • The Harrowing in the Mage prologue of Dragon Age: Origins ends with the line "True tests never end..." How much of an awesome Mind Screw would it have been to get to the end of the game (specifically Morrigan's ritual) and find that it was all still your Harrowing?
    • Sure, render one of six origins completely incompatible with the eventual resolution of the game. I can't understand why they didn't do that.
      • Yeah, it's not like the entire major selling point of the game was that your origin was supposed to have a major impact on the storyline, or anything.
    • Additionally, there is the Dog. And what darkspawn blood does to people and animals who get it in them. And, well, Old Yeller. Now that is a Player Punch.
      • One that, yet again, only makes sense for one origin. Only the Human Noble has a Mabari for which this outcome makes any sense -- for the others, their hound is the one they helped save back at Ostagar, and it's directly stated that Mabari become immune to Darkspawn blood if they survive the initial exposure.
  • Dragon Age II centers around the rise to power of Hawke, scion of the same family as the Human Mage origin and the eventual outbreak of war between the Chantry and Mages of Thedas. What we actually get is a story with a strict Three Act Structure in which the majority of events related to Hawke's rise happen during time skips with little obvious change beyond Hawke moving into a new home in the second act. The actual conflict between the Circle and its Templars is almost never shown. All plot points related to the mages and templars involve rogue apostate mages with next to no contact with anyone from the main mage population. The leaders of the two mages and templars only meet the player at the end of the second act and only one of them gets any backstory (which is only told if the player had been supporting their side throughout the entire game previously). The exact details of both sides' actions are deliberately left ambiguous to the point where many players found it difficult to empathize with either group.
    • Dragon Age II had an interesting framing device: a story told by an Unreliable Narrator. Other than the over-the-top introduction and Varric going Scarface in his brother's mansion, they didn't do much with it.
    • Another wasted arc is Aveline, who starts out the game having to murder her husband, Wesley, after he was infected by the Darkspawn. Throughout the first act-and-a-half, the player is given several opportunities to indicate interest in Aveline. There was plenty of directions this could have gone in - Aveline having to balance her life as the Captain of the Kirkwall Guard with her personal adventures (and/or relationship) with Hawke, her moving past Wesley's death, and/or her fears that Hawke could die. What you get instead is a railroaded plot where Aveline inexplicably forces you to play matchmaker (in spite of your overtures) with a non-descript member of the Guard who ends up marrying Aveline by the third act. Aside from the fact that the programmers deliberately lead the player into thinking they have a shot with her, the eventual relationship between Aveline and Donnic doesn't amount to much more than a couple conversations in the third act - there's no real evidence of their love for each other throughout the game.
  • Pokémon Black and White has this in the form of the Musketeer Trio. Their backstory revolves around the very war the two Olympus Mons the evil team are after were heavily involved in and seek to remain separate from humans and protect Pokemon from them, which would go well with the both the plan of the Big Bad and against the use of Pokemon as slave labor by Team Plasma's true leader. In fact, locating Cobalion triggers a cutscene where his background is explained, seeming to be heading for a subplot...you capture Cobalion and are told you may choose to go after the other two if you wish. That's it. There's nothing more given to the Trio except for this despite them seeming custom made to fit into the plot. Though it's still possible this is being saved for the third version.
    • It could be argued that Pokemon B/W's plot itself was a bit of a waste. Team Plasma had the opportunity to perhaps cast a better edge to the series-deconstructing and reconstructing the idea of a Mons game, and having a rich, deep plot-and they end up being just as ignoble as the other teams. N was probably the best villain the series has had yet, and Ghetsis was by far its most evil, but Team Plasma as a whole was generally a waste. While the plot WAS better than Pokémon Diamond and Pearl (and arguably the other games), it left a bad aftertaste.
  • A common complaint about Tales of Symphonia Dawn of the New World is that its premise is interesting, exploring the political, social, and economic tensions and conflicts that would arise from uniting two independent landmasses that had existed in parallel dimensions and are at very different levels of socioeconomic development, but it gets quickly sidelined by a fairly bland Save the World story that takes every opportunity possible to tie red strings around the game's protagonists, Emil and Marta.
  • Less a "plot" and more of an "entire series". Spyro: A Hero's Tail is often considered the best post-trio classic game (though honestly that's not a hard task considering the others). They could have made a new continuity based off this game - reintroduce old characters, introduce new, and all around be a worthy successor for the original games - however they don't. They make a few handheld spinoff games, make a final classic Spyro game on the Nintendo DS that's sort of set in the same continuity, and call it a day with this continuity.
  • Playstation Move Heroes crosses over three successful franchises: Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank and Sly Cooper. The possibilities are endless. What we get instead is the heroes competing in something called the Inter-Universal Hero games which consists of, among other things, bowling and throwing pointy frisbees. The actual story is as basic as it gets.
  • The premise of Turning Point: Fall of Liberty is an endlessly interesting one, especially for Alternate History buffs. Many a reviewer has stated that this was a game that had a plot loaded with potential, but utterly destroyed by rushed design and a plot that falls apart almost instantly.
  • Valkyrie Profile has, in one of the first recruitment scenes that players ever see (Belenus), Valkyrie mention someone and to remember their name for later. We never get to even learn who this person is, and it's practically never mentioned again, making this an Aborted Arc as well.
    • Come on, who else wanted to see a recruitment scene with Celia?
  • Rayman Origins had the potential to not only retool the Rayman universe to tie the first two games together, but also act as a prequel revealing how its hero was created and became experienced. In the end, only the former was achieved, as the whole prequel aspect was shelved out in favor of a new sequel (thus, all we're left with are Cryptic Background References). Instead, the new plot involved The Magician turning evil and trying to destroy the world. While interesting, even that was hampered; his motive for his actions has been cut out of the game and, to add insult to injury, gets indirectly defeated in a cutscene. A fantastic game otherwise, but still...
  • Star Control set up the division between the two factions of humanity: the earthlings and the Androsynth. The latter had been slaves of the former before escaping to a planet of their own, but were then conquered by the Ur-Quan and joined the Hierarchy as battle thralls. Their erstwhile earthling masters, on the other hand, joined the Alliance of Free Stars. So the human race was divided, and human beings fought on both sides of the war. Then, in Star Control II, it became apparent early on, when you found the Spathi hiding on Pluto, that it would be possible to recruit Hierarchy races into the New Alliance, setting up the hope that it might be possible to reconcile with the Androsynth and reunite humanity. Sadly, it turned out that the Androsynth had been wiped out by the Orz. The Orz were themselves interesting characters, but it's a shame that the potential for the Androsynth was never realized.
    • "Toys For Bob" had mentioned two things regarding precisely this wasted potential: First that they were one of the races that didn't end up in Star Control 2 because they weren't sure they could do much with the Androsynth that wasn't a very obvious reconciliation vs revenge plot. Second, when questioned if ALL the Androsynth are gone, they said that question was one of their ideas for the plot of a potential third game, where the Orz and their potential plot would be able to complicate the situation. That bullet is still in their gun, so to speak.
  • A notable factor in Soulcalibur V's status as a Contested Sequel is how jarringly scant the story is. While the backstory revealed on the official site and in supplementary materials in the time leading up to the game's release had the potential to weave together a very satisfying tale, the actual story focuses almost primarily on Sophitia's children Patroklos and Pyrrha and their narrative is widely regarded as a hit-or-miss scenario. As such, most of the remainder of the cast--the ones who are lucky enough to show up at all--are relegated to the background, few of them actually contributing to the plot. This also doesn't work in the favor of the successors to certain veterans (particularly Natsu and Xiba for Taki and Kilik, respectively), as the lack screen time also means a lack of Character Development, leaving you with (more or less) younger reskins of well-loved characters whose personalities may come across as grating. It came as no surprise to many when game director Daishi Odashima later revealed that the game's story mode was planned to be four times larger than it was in the final product.
  • Command and Conquer. The chronologically first game Red Alert features several missions where Stalin's men, manipulated by Kane, attempt to steal the time machine/teleporter device Chronosphere. Later on, Kane is capable of surviving several "certain" death scenarios, doesn't show any signs of aging during the course of a hundred years and unexplicably disappears in a goldish glow in one cutscene. Eventually, the origin of Kane's superhuman abilities is left unexplained - even though they could've simply reintroduced the Chronosphere as a plot element for the final game, explaining both Kane's miraculous survivals and the Soviets' fascination towards the Chronosphere.
  • Subverted in the X Universe series. The opening cinematic for X3: Terran Conflict claims that races outside the Solar System are experimenting with AGI. The only guy in the game proper doing anything remotely like that is Marteen Winters, a Mad Scientist in the Aldrin System who's fiddling with their #deca CPU ship. Then X3: Albion Prelude comes out and turns it into a Brick Joke with the Argon Federation's artificially intelligent warships.

Notes

  1. Which started in his story in Sonic Heroes, and ending in his self-titled game, Shadow the Hedgehog.
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