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You've beaten the first couple of major bosses, you've leveled up, and your character has gone from pathetic to useful. Things are looking up...

... and then your current character's story ends and you have to start with a brand new Level 1 character in a somewhat related storyline all over again. Back to Level Grinding for you, sonny! Prepare to do this several times for The Rashomon-style storyline to be completed. If you're lucky, all the characters will meet and party up for payoff later. If you're not... well, prepare to be annoyed.

Not to be confused with Something Completely Different, which is the non-Video Game equivalent of the Unexpected Gameplay Change. The non-video game equivalent of this is Changing of the Guard.

Tends to overlap with Replacement Scrappy. Can be a form of Decoy Protagonist.

Also see Another Side Another Story for when a new playable character becomes unlocked upon game completion. For starting back at level 1 in a sequel starring the same characters, see Bag of Spilling.

Examples of And Now for Someone Completely Different include:

  • Mother 3 does this multiple times. The prologue starts as Lucas, the hero. Then the first chapter has you play through the game as Flint, Lucas' father, up until the first "big" boss. He's joined about halfway through by Duster. The second chapter has you playing as Duster by himself, later joined by his father, Wess, and Rebellious Princess Kumatora. The next chapter switches focus entirely, to a monkey named Salsa (but which primarily serves to introduce quirky miniboss Fassad). Then, finally, in the fourth chapter, the game switches to Lucas again. And stays there, for the most part.
  • Dragon Quest IV started this all the way back on the original Famicom. You went through 4 chapters, each focusing around different characters before you got to control the main hero.[1]
  • In Rune Factory 2 you switch from the parent to the child, after a Time Skip.
  • Every game in the SaGa series, except the Game Boy Final Fantasy Legend games.
    • Special mention goes to SaGa Frontier 2, which is the king of this trope - not only do you have characters who are playable for only one dungeon, one character is actually "playable" only for one cutscene, meaning you never get to do anything with him, and he doesn't even count as having ever been in your party unless you go to the trade city immediately afterwards. At least skills learned are learned for every character in the game, and with no stages after the one you are currently on, there is no reason you'd even want to grind to begin with.
    • This is also a game that will jump years and even generations into the future without warning, and inconsistently at that, since you're following two families separately. Makes your brain hurt, and one can only imagine how far the time gap between them can be pushed.
  • Live a Live, which was the entire point of the game - seven completely unrelated stories happening in different time periods. It all comes together in the end of course. And it turns out the stories weren't completely unrelated.
  • Odin Sphere does this, as all five of the main characters are part of the same chain of events. After clearing one character's story, you move on to the next character, and so on. For the final confrontation, you then decide which characters fight the final bosses, and selecting them in the correct order is the only way to achieve the best ending. Sadly, selecting them in the wrong order on multiple runs is also the only way to get Hundred-Percent Completion to earn the true ending, which is uplifting enough to endure the bad endings.
  • Suikoden III, in which you get to see a single story unfold from the perspective of up to six different characters (three of which had to be unlocked via certain game events).
    • The Suikoden series is fond of player character changes. Suikoden II and Suikoden V both had sections where you created 3 different teams of characters to complete a section, and there was a small section of the original where you played a lone Dragon Knight.
  • Phantasy Star III, which features multiple generations of the same family as lead characters. Interestingly, Mieu and Wren, who are cyborgs, retain their levels throughout all three generations.
    • Also made a bit more palatable as you tend to start each generation slightly more Badass than the previous one. Take that, dad!
  • Front Mission 4, which bounces the story back and forth between Venezuela and Europe seemingly at random (though the prospect of something major happening in one branch can facilitate the switch... but mostly it's random).
  • Lufia and The Fortress of Doom starts you out in the Very Definitely Final Dungeon as proven, top-level heroes, taking down the Four Is Death Big Bads. And then it starts you out with a single level-one character just leaving his hometown.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty did this. After about an hour and a half of teasing the player with Solid Snake, he was replaced with Raiden, a completely new character who had never been seen in the series before. The storyline shifted, too, from a band of Russian extremists taking over a Tanker to a loony renegade unit taking over an offshore cleaning facility, two years later. All the player's weapons and items were gone, and if they'd spent time Level Grinding their Grip Gauge it was reset to Level 1. Fans were not happy with Raiden for this.
    • Its sequel, Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater, jokes with this: If the player chooses MGS2 as his favourite of the franchise when starting a game, the player characters starts the game wearing the Raiden mask...which he soon discards after the first cutscene.
  • Wild Arms 3 started off with the cast going on individual flashback missions, each one showing how they ended up on the train they were riding. Eventually they all teamed up and the game started for real.
    • The Wild Arms series tends to open like this quite frequently, introducing us to the characters in separate missions before they all meet up. You can usually choose the order in which you do this, as well. It's part of the series' emphasis on an ensemble cast, rather than one obvious main character and their group of sidekicks.
      • Needless to say, it was quite a disappointment when Wild Arms 4 and 5 stopped using this convention.
  • Earthbound: The party is captured and Paula psychically calls another one of the destined heroes to bust you out. He starts out at level one, so he'll need to do some Level Grinding first.
    • Also happens after Ness eats a magic cake, causing another character to show up.
  • Cubivore: Your character goes through several reincarnations, where they see the benefit of their work in previous lives.
  • Subverted in Devil May Cry 4. Newcomer Nero gets run of the game's first part, then series lead Dante takes over... And then, for the final parts, back to Nero. Lucky for the player, though, all Proud Souls (the currency used for leveling up abilities) gathered as Nero transfer to Dante, as do vitality levels and Devil Trigger orbs, and Nero gets a truckload of Proud Souls when you switch back to him after seven levels of Dante.
  • Fire Emblem does this a few times:
    • Genealogy of Holy War has The hero Sigurd killed halfway through the game, (but you probably already knew that) and control passes to Sigurd's son Celice 15 years latter.
    • The Sword of Flame does this after the early Forced Tutorial chapters with Lyndis. She later rejoins the brigade a few missions afterward.
    • The Sacred Stones has a single bonus chapter where the player controls another group briefly.
    • Radiant Dawn uses this, where the player will bounce between the Dawn Brigade/Daein Army, the Greil Mercenaries and the Crimean Royal Knights (the last 2 later get lumped together). It actually makes the game somewhat unique compared to the others, and allows a Let's Split Up, Gang! near the end.
  • Super Smash Bros Brawl does this in the Adventure Mode, where you switch between various groups between levels, until the gang comes together for the grand finale. Unlike the previous examples, levels aren't much of an issue, but you still lose out on sticker bonuses that you applied to the characters. And if they just became playable, you can't use stickers on them until you finish the level, and of course you need to get familiar with the character as well.
    • However, it can be said that the purpose of this is so you get used to the different characters and know which ones you're good with. This counteracts the possibility of people just saying "Hey, I liked this guy's game! I'll use him!" even if it's a crappy character.
    • The problem with this is that using most of the characters in a sidescroller are much easier to use than in a straight up fight.
  • A prevalent trope in the first two Paper Mario games, taking place in between each major chapter. The first and second games had you control Peach in captivity, and the second also had you control Bowser who was on a mission of his own.
    • Not as pronounced in Super Paper Mario. In the game, after completing the first chapter, you play a short segment as Peach wandering through The Very Definitely Final Dungeon with a Koopa Troopa by her side and no enemies to fight. After Chapter Two, it's the same thing again, except you're playing as Luigi and accompanying you are two Goombas. After that, there's no more of these sequences. Two things of note:
      1. Bowser does not get a similar scene.
      2. While Peach fully retains her parasol ablities in her segment, Luigi cannot perform his high jump in his.
  • Partially used in Final Fantasy IV, when Cecil changes class. On the way back down the mountain, the same monsters that provided meager returns now cause the new Cecil to level up rather quickly. Cecil's old equipment is useless at this point, but there's an opportunity for "Reversed 'So Long and Thanks For All the Gear'" if you happened to buy the unusable equipment at the earlier town.
  • In Final Fantasy XII the player starts off controlling a character called Reks. However Reks's involvement is little more than a tutorial and it doesn't take long before you're given control of the real viewpoint character, Vaan.
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2 starts with Lightning as a tutorial and then it's Noel and Serah (and their pet Mons) all the way.
  • In Dissidia Final Fantasy you play as the mains from I to X and a bit of XI and XII to unlock in separate character storylines. However, characters make appearances in each others' storylines, and you end up all together at the climax. The Museum section allows you to see a video of the whole story in chronological order.
  • In Star Wars: Mysteries of the Sith, the player starts as Kyle Katarn, just like the two previous Dark Forces Saga games. However after just three levels, the player changes to Mara Jade for the rest of the game.
    • In the later The Force Unleashed, the first level is played as Darth Vader, but afterwards the focus switches to his apprentice. As with MGS2 above, this may be one example where people might actually wish that they could play as the prologue character for longer.
  • Eternal Darkness can feel like this if you play the game without having been spoiled of the plot beforehand. As a rule, it's best not to get too attached to the characters you get stuck with.
    • Fortunately, there's no Level Grinding, and once each character finds the Tome, they have all the spells learned up to that point.
  • The World Ends With You has you change partners during your quest. The gameplay annoyance is generally lessened because, although you do have to learn a different version of the top-screen battle system, you keep your levels and only lose the items that your previous partner was wearing at the time (and you eventually get them back, partner and all).
    • The developers do know it's annoying, though, and use it to their plot advantage—Joshua initially fights like he has the survival instincts of a lemming as well as lacking any gear, making his assholish behaviour even more aggravating. This ends up making sense, because he's The Man Behind the Man.
  • Beyond Good and Evil is another game that pulls this trick with sidekicks instead of the main character. About halfway into the game, your first partner, Pey'j--an anthropomorphic, middle-aged pig and Gadgeteer Genius—gets kidnapped and replaced with Double H, a Big Guy with a habit of breaking things down with his head. While you get Pey'j back eventually, doing so marks a Point of No Return.
  • Legend of Legaia does this once with Noa.
    • It only switches to Noa, who has an indestructible (for story purposes) partner before switching back to Vahn, and the two of them unite for the game's first boss. Gala just joins them both at Lv1, no split required.
  • Ninja Gaiden Sigma, the PS3 Updated Rerelease of the Xbox remake, has you switching between Ryu and Rachel at certain points in the game.
  • Betrayal at Krondor: This happens a few times, actually, but the most egregious is the beginning of Chapter 5, when you lose Owyn for the first time and instead get Patrus, whose stats are...well, he's a very old man.
    • Then again, as the story switches back and forth between the two groups, you don't really lose anyone for long.
  • Chrono Cross does this with both main character and party members, but in an unusual way. Your antagonist body-swaps you. Your old party members stay behind with "Serge" and you're forced to recruit and equip a new party as Lynx. Your level, equipment and elements are carried over, hopefully. Your allies's equipment? Not so much.
  • Occurs in the Reservoir Dogs game for the simple reason that the game follows the plot of the movie. The only character who doesn't die the second you stop controlling him is Mr Orange, who is only controllable in the tutorial, and possibly Mr Pink. See Karma Meter, Multiple Endings.
  • Not a video game example, but similar: In the novel Cat and Mouse by James Patterson, Alex Cross (who has been the hero and narrator of not only this book but all of them in the series thus far) gets knocked unconscious and taken to the hospital. The next chapter starts with a brand new narrator, who was introduced earlier, while we're still reeling from the removal of Cross. And he turns out to be the second serial killer of the book, the same one he investigated.
  • Happens multiple times in the Sailor Moon Another Story RPG. This is because each of the Inner Senshi—Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter—as well as Chibi-Moon have their own plotlines that they follow, in Chapter 2 of the game. All your characters also start off at level 1 (except Sailor Pluto, who you encounter well into the game), so you'll have to control how you level up if you want to try to level them up evenly.
  • Treasure of the Rudra has an interesting variant in that you can switch from one character's story to another's at the drop of a hat.
  • Growlanser: Heritage of War is extremely guilty of this trope. It does it not only once but 4-5 times before you get on the main character's story. Although the actions you do with each characters will affect the main story line.
  • In the indie game Psychosomnium, whenever you die in sight of another NPC, you gain control of that NPC. Serves for a few interesting twists.
  • Done three times in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations: in Cases 1 and 4, you do a flash-back to early cases of Phoenix's mentor, Mia Fey, and naturally play as her. In case 5 of the same game, Phoenix suffers a nasty accident and convinces Miles Edgeworth to briefly take his place as a defense attorney. In Justice For All, you very briefly play as Maya as well.
  • Warcraft 3 does this several times, sometimes multiple per section. The most aggravating uses the same character, combining this trope with Bag of Spilling, in the change between the Human and Undead campaign. There Arthas goes from a max-level character with a collection of powerful artifacts and an Infinity+1 Sword to a level one character with a healing potion. He also loses the effect of the sword, despite it being a very important plot point that he is still using it.
  • This was one of the more openly touted features in Leisure Suit Larry 3: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals: The player takes the role of Larry in the first part of the game, where he searched for new sexual conquests as usual, and then switches to Passionate Patti in the second part, where she tries to hunt down Larry and his buff, polyester-clad pecks. This mechanic returned in Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work, where Patti assumes the role of an undercover spy in the music industry, and the game takes turns swapping the player's focus back and forth between Larry and Patti.
  • At one point in Mischief Makers, you must play as Teran instead of Marina. Teran has dramatically different abilities and controls.
  • Almost standard in Real Time Strategy games with multiple campaigns. Finishing as one and moving on to the next starts the player back at learning to operate the new army's units and buildings like a green recruit.
    • Starcraft's campaigns follow a logical story and difficulty order, but the first few Zerg and Protoss levels spoon-feed the new base and unit concepts.
    • Subverted in Total Annihilation : Kingdoms, which caused this to be viewed by some people as a negative trait, in spite of the fact that you are learning all four factions equally.
  • Chaos Legion has one stage playable for Arcia Rinslet, the gun-toting young girl that Sieg befriended earlier. She can't summon Legions but can use super-charged shots in place of that. However, an unlockable feature is to play as her in all stages (though she lacks a majority of the cutscenes).
  • In the original Breath of Fire I, Ryu tours through two city-dungeons on his local continent before arriving at Winlan where the game switches over to Nina, who is at a much lower level, as she goes off on a quest unrelated to the Dark Dragons. And then you have to save her.
    • Later on in the same game, you switch to greedy fish-merchant Gobi after the heroes are stranded on a desert island; he's the only one who can venture underwater and pick up the MacGuffin needed to escape.
  • Call of Juarez was built around this shtick; alternating between the stealthy Billy and the heavily armed Reverend Ray in a game of cat and mouse where you play both feline and rodent. Generally, you'd play most levels twice: Once, sneaking around the area avoiding detection from bandits and the like, and then again while blowing away everyone. While quoting Bible verse.
  • In the first Fatal Frame game, you play the tutorial level as Mafuyu, then switch to his sister Miku for the rest of the game.
  • And in all three games of the Siren series, you will hop from one character to the next constantly, also hopping backwards or forwards in the game's timeline. Unfortunately, when you return to the same character you'll often find that no matter how what weapons or ammo you finished their earlier level with, they start off the next level with less.
  • In Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku 2 and Buu's Fury, you change between characters constantly. There are doors that only certain characters above level X can open. And you have to level ALL of them separately.
    • But at least they do work together sometimes.
  • Although the switch takes place during the break between the two games, the two games are still two halves of the same story and thus still count: In the first Golden Sun, you play as Isaac, Garet, Ivan, and Mia, on a quest to stop Saturos and Menardi's attempts to light the lighthouses. In Golden Sun: The Lost Age, the sequel, control switches over to Felix, Saturos and Menardi's right-hand man and Isaac and Garet's former friend, and you continue the quest to light the lighthouses for far nobler reasons than Saturos and Menardi indicated. Once they discover this fact, Isaac's group ends up joining forces with Felix's.
  • Fahrenheit has you jump from character to character, but never permanently. For an added kick, the primary protagonist Lucas is a wanted fugitive, whereas the other two are cops in charge of capturing him.
    • Likewise, its Spiritual Successor Heavy Rain switches between the four main characters frequently, sometimes in the middle of a chapter. Additionally, in two chapters you also get to control a young version of the Origami Killer in Flash Back.
  • Resident Evil Code Veronica does this: after playing through most of the first half with Claire, she gets captured by Alexia, forcing the player to take control of Chris to rescue her. Any item left on the storage box can be retrieved by Chris, but items that were carried by Claire before the character switch cannot be used by Chris until the game switches back to her for a brief portion near the end.
    • Resident Evil 2 had short segments where you switched control to Ada (Leon's scenario) or Sherry (Claire's scenario).
    • Resident Evil 3 Nemesis also had a short segment where you switched control to Carlos.
    • Resident Evil 0 automatically switches to the other character when one ends up in distress.
    • Resident Evil 4 where you control Ashley shortly.
  • The first Xenosaga pulled this on the player a few times, with the only difference being that the item pool and money carried over between parties until all three groups meet up.
  • In The Simpsons Hit and Run, you switch to a new character every level. But each character is more or less identical in terms of gameplay, and you get a better car with each level, so it's no loss.
  • Expertly done in Batman: Arkham Asylum. To say anything more would ruin a fantastic twist.
  • In Max Payne 2, two levels are played from the perspective of Mona Sax.
  • The first four Thunder Force games take place in a fictional, faraway galaxy. Thunder Force V has the player ship of IV drift its way through space to Earth, where V takes place. In VI, Earth and the Galaxy Federation (the organization from the first four games) form sort of an alliance to defeat the ORN empire.
  • MDK2 - There are three protagonists, all of them with different gameplay. You can choose who you play as in the last level.
  • Mass Effect 2 does this shockingly near the end, where Shepard and his/her crew leave the Normandy in the shuttle, and in their absence the Collectors invade. You're suddenly and jarringly given control of Joker, who must limp around the ship activating the AI to get the Normandy out of dodge
  • Bio Shock 2: while Delta is trapped by Sofia, you get to control a Little Sister as she harvests ADAM and collects the pieces of the Big Sister suit for Eleanor.
  • Knights of the Old Republic 2: A particularly egregrious case is the Remote's solo mission on Malachor. The thing is level 1, cannot level up, has laughable weaponry and hit points. You can make it easy by first clearing the area, as the main character walks through it first (alone) and can easily handle all its dangers. If you just rushed through it to the area exit while ignoring the monsters, though... well, at least you'll know better on second playthrough!
    • Mira's fight with Hanharr also counts. She's not yet part of the team so you hadn't had a chance to develop and prepare her. Fortunately, she has access to the group's shared inventory, so depending on what sort of weapons and grenades you have that you did NOT already put on existing crewmembers, that fight can be really easy, or very problematic...
  • In Deadly Premonition, after playing through most of the story as York, some sections near the end have you taking control of Emily, Zach, and the Original Raincoat Killer.
  • This is a main characteristic of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, where you play as four different incarnations of Spidey and must switch among them between levels.
  • In the game Bunny Must Die you play as Bunny, fight five of seven devils, and then fight the Elf Princess Chelsea as the last boss, though Chelsea calls herself the "true protagonist". If you've found enough time upgrades as Bunny, you unlock the game Chelsea and the Seven Devils where you play as Chelsea, fight all seven of the devils, and then fight—Bunny as the last boss? No, you fight the demon Dechronos who is possessing Bunny. But then you defeat the true final boss as a fully-powered Bunny in Chelsea's game.
  • King's Quest VII has the player switch between Valanice and Rosella every other chapter.
  • Legacy of Kain: Defiance alternates between Kain and Raziel as the playable character. This gets weird when the two of them end up fighting each other.
  • Vandal Hearts I & II have small scale versions. In the first, several of your party members are thrown in prison and you assume control of The Stoic Clint. In the second, the prologue chapter has you control The Hero Joshua and his two friends as teenagers, but then skips forward into the future and your friends are replaced by Joshua's new criminal buddies.
  • Playing as the Distressed Damsel Grace in Alone in The Dark 2.
  • Winback 2 has you play each mission from two different characters' points of view.
  • No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle initially puts the player in control of the first game's protagonist, Travis Touchdown. However, Shinobu gets two stages of her own about halfway through the game, then control shifts back to Travis, then Henry for a single boss fight, then back to Travis again for the remainder of the game.
  • Manhunt 2 has you playing Danny, but also Leo in the "6 years ago" chapters.
  • LA Noire has the switching from Cole Phelps to Jack Kelso in the last three Arson cases.
    • Although in the last case, only 1/3 of the part where Cole is played.
  • Batman: Arkham City has Catwoman being the second playable character.
  • The Reconstruction features a minor example—after the prologue, where you play as Captain Rehm Sikohlon, the story Time Skips and switches perspectives to the real cast. And stays there.
    • However, it is possible to get Rehm to join your main party again by completing a sidequest chain. Taru and Vasra, on the other hand...
  • You play as a Red Freak for part of The Bright in The Screen.
    • "Sometimes you may feel like you are one of them... just remember, you're not. Yet."
  • The sequel of The Longest Journey, Dreamfall has the switching between April, Zoe, and Alvane.
  • The beginning of Star Fox Adventures has you controlling Krystal for a brief bit, before you control the real main character, Fox McCloud.
  • Folklore has two player-controlled characters, Ellen and Keats, whose stories unfold concurrently. The player has some choice in whether to alternate between the two or to play through several chapters with one before switching to the other, but either way, each one's abilities and collected items don't transfer to the other.
  • This trope is the whole point of Disgaea Infinite, in which you play a Prinny who can jump into control of various classic Disgaea characters and turn back time, in order to replay events from different perspectives and solve a mystery.
  • The Code Geass RPG has brief sequences where the player goes from controlling Lelouch to to directing Suzaku or Castor. Amusingly, the way to get back onto the anime canon path is to get Castor killed during one of these sequences by trying to Geass a soldier who's wearing a visor that blocks the power.
  • Corpse Party has this in each Chapter. Chapter 1 has you control Naomi (with Seiko). In Chapter 2, you briefly control Yui-sensei before shifting to Yoshiki (with Ayumi). In Chapter 3, you control Satoshi, then Yuka when the two end up separating. In Chapter 4, you control Ayumi and Satoshi. Finally, in Chapter 5, you can switch control between Ayumi and Satoshi (and briefly control Yuka when she needs to escape from Kizami) in order to meet the requirements to escape.
  • Dubloon temporarily switches point of view to Riley and his monkey Ricky when Russel and Anne leave Outcast Island, until they cross paths with each other.
  • Portal2 has this for community created puzzle maps made by players via Steam Workshop. In single player mode, you play as Chell. In Co-Op, you play as a robot. When you play a community created map, you play of the stick figures from the Aperture videos. The character in question had no name for a while until a patch release notes dubbed him as Bendy.
  1. The DS remake added a prologue where you played as The Hero.