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File:YouHaveResarchedBreathingVGCatssm 348.jpg

Guess which one he chooses...

Milk is the one substance all mammals can consume immediately after birth. But some madman at Blizzard is either unfamiliar with the stuff or has confused "milk" with "Jack Daniels Old Time Tennessee Whiskey," because you have to be a seasoned adventurer before you're allowed a glass of it...Things only get more demented as you go up in level. You need a Ph.D. in Kicking Ass to slurp down a bowl of soup, and you'll need to be more than halfway to godhood before you're allowed to face the challenge and responsibility of eating pie.
Shamus Young, "Vulture Milk"

So you're playing some Real Time Strategy game such as Age of Dunecraft. Your Deadly Deathknights of Death can shoot fast-moving vehicles with their missiles, but attacking buildings or infantry with the things simply doesn't occur to them yet. Sigh. You totally thought you taught that ability.

Some building time and resources later, You Have Researched Breathing.

It's bad enough when you have to upgrade weapons and acquire new tech rather than start with all of it (especially if you researched it already last week). But if You Have Researched Breathing, then you are using optional upgrades for things that shouldn't need to be researched, that shouldn't even be on the Tech Tree in the first place: it should be second nature to that sort of unit. And yet, somehow, it isn't.

Also prone to happen in any other type of game with character customization or unlockables, such as Role Playing Games. Yes, you can't wear boots or drink potions until you grind enough XP to level up.

The corollary is often Instant Expert, where Researching Breathing automatically allows those who Breathe to do so instantly and flawlessly.

Examples of You Have Researched Breathing include:

Action Adventure

  • In Bunny Must Die, the main character Bunny can't walk to the right side of the screen until she picks up a gear item.
    • At least there's an out-of-universe justification for this: it points out that she doesn't technically need to walk to the right. Ever.
  • One of the complaints against Castlevania: Circle of the Moon was that you needed to find a powerup in order to run. On the plus side, said powerup was 5 minutes into the game. The minus side is the enemy guarding it is quite difficult because you can't run yet.
    • In Aria of Sorrow you need a relic to backdash and another to do a downward kick after a double jump. Sounds fine, but in pretty much every other Metroidvania Castlevania the backdash is had from the very beginning, and you can automatically kick after a double jump once you get the double jump. It's just splitting things that didn't really need to be split. At least Soma isn't supposed to be a highly-trained vampire hunter, so it makes more sense than the Circle of the Moon example, but it's still quite aggravating.
    • In Symphony of the Night, Alucard has to find the Cube of Zoe relic in order to... find items from destroyed candles. Granted, having stuff like hearts and money and axes pop out of destroyed candles is pretty weird, so in a way, it doubles as Lampshade Hanging on the fact that that ability is taken for granted in the rest of the series.
  • La-Mulana requires you to find 10 coins to purchase the ability to save the game. Even as a homage to Nintendo Hard retro games, that's pushing it.
    • Also unusual is that your archaeologist character can't read (not even signs written in his language) without buying a gadget for his laptop computer. It's not nearly as cheap as the game-saving item. The device that translates the glyphs costs even more money on top of that, and in this game you won't get far without it.
  • Okami gives the player character the option to buy an ability that lets her pee. For 20 times the price, she gets a more useful ability. Poop. Kinda makes sense, since it's exploding poop.
  • Several useful abilities are granted to you in cutscenes in Sword of Mana. Once again, these include sitting.
    • Legend Of Mana is kind enough to start you out with the ability to sit. The ability to slide, tackle, and taunt, however, require intense training to discover[1].

Adventure Games

  • The Quest for Glory series of games, being a hybrid of an Adventure Game with RPG elements, had this on occasion. If your character started with zero points in a skill, such as climbing, then they could never get better at it no matter how many times you tried to climb that tree. Although sometimes you could learn a skill by reading a book. In the fifth game, your character has to read a book about swimming to get over his Super Drowning Skills[2].
    • However, this lead to an interesting exploit in the first version of Quest for Glory I, where you could add 5 points to a skill and then take back 4, meaning you could have at least one point in every skill which would allow you to train up everything.
    • Lampshaded in IV, where the book that teaches fighters how to climb is said to use only small words, with lots of simple, brightly colored pictures.
    • Possibly satired in the command "pick nose," where you attempt to pick your nose with a lock picking kit. If you succeed, the player is told "your nose is now open," and you can gain lock-picking skill by doing it. If you fail though, you die.
  • In Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, the aliens have a device that causes temporary Laser-Guided Amnesia. In game terms, the player actually forgets how to do everyday things by disabling action verbs. Apparently, you can forget how to talk or pick up items but can remember later.

Action Games

  • Brink's Medic must invest in a skill to revive himself, despite having the Medication on-hand to revive his squadmates just as easily.
  • In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, you need the "Tactical Knife" addon in order to hold a knife in your left hand and a pistol in your right. If you drop a pistol with the addon and grab another without it, however, your highly trained commando character will forget how it works. Similarly, you need the Scavenger perk to know how to... Scavenge ammo off corpses, or the Commando perk to do a Deadly Lunge, etc.
    • Interesting case in Black Ops; you can get ammo from similar guns (MP5K feeds MP5K) without Scavenger. With Scavenger, though, you can take ammo from an AK-47 and make it into MP5K ammo. It's like learning how to breath water.
  • In Fallout 3, you need to receive special training from the Brotherhood of Steel before you can wear the Powered Armor. Fair enough, except that you didn't need any such training in Fallout 1 or 2, your followers (like Charon and Jericho, who probably haven't received Brotherhood training) don't seem to, and the raiders who took over an Enclave outpost managed just fine without. You're apparently the only person in the entire wasteland who can't figure it out on their own.
    • What about eating people? Vault Dweller will happily chew on giant insects, mutated dogs, crabs and bears that you have just freshly killed, as well as stick their head into a toilet covered in 200 year old fecal bacteria to get a drink, but human meat isn't on the menu until you learn a perk to eat it...which gets even weirder since a food item called "Human meat" may be dropped off Feral Ghouls, that you can totally eat without the perk and without affecting your Karma (as being a cannibal via the perk allowing you to will cause you to lose karma).
  • The Fallout: New Vegas DLC Old World Blues gives you a base which is controlled entirely by AIs, and you have to find chips containing their personalities and functions to make use of any of its features. This means that you have to find a computer chip before you get a drink of water from the sink, and a second upgrade chip before the sink will let you fill bottles with water to take on your journey.
  • In No More Heroes, one of the abilities Travis Touchdown can learn via being beaten up by a Russian drunkard in exchange for some plastic balls scattered throughout the city is how to run. Though to be fair, he learns how to run really fast.
  • Space Invaders Infinity Gene. After a few levels, your ship "evolves" the ability to... move freely in all directions. Though being able to do so is unconventional in a Space Invaders game.
  • System Shock 2. If you don't get at least one point in a weapon aspect, you can't use that kind of weapon. Even a pistol or some exotic thing that is essentially a club made of crystals.
    • Even more infuriating, it takes a full six points in exotic weapons to wield a club made out of crystal. The wrench, on the other hand, is your default weapon.
    • It's fun when a character who went through basic military training can't use an assault rifle. No, it's not that you aren't good at it, which would make sense if you weren't specialized as infantry, it's that you can't use it at all!
  • In Team Fortress 2 you can now purchase the ability to point and laugh at your enemies.
    • As well, three of the game's rare hats are...The Scout, Sniper, and Engineer without their default hats.
    • Lampshaded with the the high-five taunt which includes a page where Saxton Hale claims high-fiving someone is his invention, is complicated enough that you need to pay him to learn how, and before people could only congratulate each other through punches to the face.
  • Mass Effect let the various Player Character classes use all weapons, but they couldn't use a scope without training in that type of weapon. Shepard is a highly-trained special forces Marine who can't bend their head a few inches.
    • Mass Effect 2 has Shepard unable to use certain weapons at all without training. Most bizarrely, every class can use heavy weapons (which include everything from grenade launchers to nuke cannons) yet most require training to use assault rifles. And somehow everyone in the entire galaxy has forgotten about throwable grenades.
    • Mass Effect 3 brings back grenades and lets any class use any weapon effectively in both single-player and co-op, leading to players' joy at their CQC Infiltrator, Sniper Adept, or anything else they cared to use.
    • The first game allowed the player to switch out their armor and that of their squad. In ME2, the only way to do change the squad's was by gaining loyalty or DLC. Same in ME3, but without loyalty.


  • City of Heroes and City of Villains. Every. Single. Powerset has at least a few places where you need thousands of Mook defeats and specialized training to learn what should not be especially complicated or impressive. Some of this can be dealt with in story. Perhaps your powered armor has really complicated instructions for an overhead smash. Particularly bad cases are Assault Rifle — where you can have fully automatic fire yet not quite be able to fire a single bullet on its own — and the various sword-oriented powersets.
    • And you need to get to level 2 to learn to "rest", which is exactly what it sounds like.
    • One of the most Egregious examples is the Medicine power pool. The animations for each power in the pool involve pulling out this little green device, aiming it at a target, and pushing a button that makes this green laser and mist spray out. The first two powers in each pool are available at level 6, the third power is available at level 14. The first two powers of the Medicine pool target allies, and the third targets yourself. So if you take one of the powers at level 6, it takes 8 levels for your character to be able to go from pointing the device at allies to pointing the device at him/herself.
  • In Dofus you have exactly one emote starting off with. Sitting down. Waving, cheering, playing Rock-Paper-Scissors, lying down, even FARTING require quests or emote scrolls.
  • Kingdom of Loathing starts you out with the ability to equip helmets/hats, pants, weapons, and shields (or other items you want to carry around in your off-hand, which can be anything from spellbooks to stuffed animals). If you want to wear a shirt, you need to learn torso awaregness (sic). It's taught by a gnome in a secret area only available after ascending. If you learn it in Bad Moon, the gnome who teaches you it is kinda baffled that you don't know about your torso. Without that skill, not only are you unable to figure out how to use shirts, defeated monsters won't even drop shirts.
    • And certain foods and drinks have level requirements as well.
    • Also, just about all gear has some sort of requirement. Want to, say, wear the equipment off a Bonus Boss for a ton of stat bonuses? Hope your stats are over 200, especially for the pants. 'You're not sexy enough for this shirt' otherwise. At least when a muscle requirement is involved, you can excuse it by saying the armor or weapon in question is too heavy for a low-level player to use.
  • La Tale has books which, when read, can teach your character to use a particular emote. These emotes include the ability to point at things, the ability to stick your hand out without pointing at things, and the ability to be sad. To make it worse, these books tend to have a low chance of even working, so most of the time, your character will be completely unable to comprehend how to look angry or whatever.
  • Mabinogi has the "Rest" skill, which has to be learned. That's right, the game doesn't even give you the ability to sit down until an NPC teaches you how (to get higher ranks in the skill, you have to learn from NPCs or books). Fortunately, it's one of the first skills that player characters learn.
  • When starting Ragnarok Online every character first has to level in the novice class. This is partially because the novice classes skills include fundamental abilities, like sitting down.
  • In RuneScape, your character can, starting out, use bronze and iron armor and weapons, but it's not until higher levels of Defense or Attack that he can wear steel or any other weapons. The same goes for mining rocks — you can't mine, say, mithril at starting level, but you can mine copper and tin, even though the ore is right there either way. There are probably plenty of other examples. Jagex loves this trope.
    • There's also some issues with Cooking and food, such as having to wait ten levels just to learn how to add a basic chocolate bar to a simple cake. [3]
    • That's just the tip of the iceberg. The player character has to get an an absurdly high 68 Cooking just to know how to add tuna to a baked potato.
  • In World of Warcraft, it is possible to have a character that is too low level to drink a glass of milk. No, the milk isn't magical or from some exotic animal or anything. Just a regular glass of milk. This is just one food example of many.
    • You wait to drink plain old water? That's fine. Wait, is that fancy water from an Uldum oasis? Come back when you're a Physical God who can handle the fizzy power.
    • While most of the professions have some form of logic to their research, Herbalism has you capable of identifying all plants as soon as you get Apprentice, and spotting them from thirty paces, but you can't PICK them, even though you can pick others.

Platformer Games


 Squiddy: I will now bestow on you the power to jump. Press [Z] to clear that gap!


Jables: I could already do that.

Squiddy: Oh. Good for you then.

  • Rayman series: In Rayman 1, being magically granted running makes Rayman forget the near-useless ability to grimace. Cue an important boss battle in Rayman 3 years later, he relearns the grimace... through a god-powered artifact, the nature of which gives it a new plot-vital power this time.
  • In Sonic and The Secret Rings, Sonic has to learn several rather basic action moves, including the ability to walk backwards.

Real-Time Strategy

  • In Command and Conquer Generals, the GLA workers ask for new shoes. In the expansion, you can research/"purchase" shoes to enhance their speed (from the black market no less).
  • Several of the traits in the Dawn of War II campaigns allow the characters to perform tasks they should easily be able to perform anyway. Tarkus and Thaddeus need a trait to be able to equip Chainswords and Bolters respectively (despite this being something every Space Marine knows), Cyrus needs a trait to walk faster when Infiltrated, and all of them need a trait to fire certain weapons while moving. That most of others are entirely justified (especially the use of Terminator armour and most of the items Jonah uses) makes this all the more jarring.
    • Not only that, Cyrus is supposedly a master scout and infiltration specialist, but he starts at level 1 (as does everyone else) and has to learn things like dropping a smoke bomb, using a shotgun, etc.
  • Halo Wars is absolutely full of this Trope, for just about every commander. From having to research calling down more than one shot from your orbital space gun (that can always fire 4 shots, but will only fire 1 until you research more) to researching an upgrade for your tanks that the commander (Forge) you're using invented to — best of all — having to research the ability for your repair units to repair things (as Forge, again).
  • League of Legends champions, despite being legendary heroes in their universe, need to research their basic attacks during the game. Ashe the Frost Archer starts out being unable to shoot frost arrows, mages start without spells, musician champion Sona cannot play any songs, Corki cannot launch the rockets on his plane, Orianna's ball doesn't do anything and Gangplank cannot shoot his pistol or eat oranges. Depending on your spell choices, these situations can last for a long time. Justified by the fact that the link between champion and summoner(the player) has to be rebuilt for each summoning. It's explained in the journal of justice.
  • In Rise of Legends, Vinci Musketeers need to research level 2 (Imperial Grenadiers)to Volley Fire, and level 3 (Imperial Fusiladiers) to allow them to hit nearby enemies with their rifle stocks. It also prohibits them from attacking at range. Seems the most natural thing in the world to smash a Glass Spider with the gun-butt when it's chewing on your calf, but it doensn't even occur to them until way down the tech tree (and maybe not at all, in the Campaign).
  • Some scenarios in Rise of Nations may take place in the information age, yet have you re-research crop rotation, patriotism and religion.
  • In Sins of a Solar Empire, your ships cannot phase jump between stars until you have researched how. Fridge Logic sets in when you realize that your faction must have jumped from another solar system to colonize your starting planet.
  • The Zerg of Starcraft have to learn how to burrow. The only unit that doesn't have to learn it is the Lurker, probably because if they can't burrow, they can't attack; on the other hand, they are also the only unit that can burrow but takes a substantial amount of time to do so (there is some variation in the others, according to unit size, but nothing so marked). Siege Tanks need to learn how to go into siege mode. While it makes sense from a balance point of view, a siege tank's normal attack is basically for the sole purpose of being ambushed and not having time to go into siege mode. According to the manual, Wraiths needed to research the ability to attack ground units; this was mercifully patched away very early on.
  • In Star Craft 2, Raynor's Raiders, a 5-year old rebel group shown in the first game with full and competent arsenals of all Terran units, starts out able to build only marines and medic with no available upgrades. By the end of the game, you are able to build every unit from both the first and second games (minus Valkyries, but also several units that were scrapped for multiplayer) plus you have many upgrades that would be game breakers in multiplayer, all in an in-game timespan of a few weeks.
  • In the Twenty Minutes Into the Future strategy game War, Inc., you play the CEO of a multinational corporation expanding into professional military work . Despite the fact that your infantry come from cloning vats, you have to spend time and money researching vehicle designs other than a jeep and weapons other then the most basic of machine guns.
  • The Ghouls in Warcraft 3 need to spend time and money upgrading to allow them to eat the recent dead.
    • Crypt Fiends have this with web and burrow as well (hilariously causing a rather literal example of How Do I Shot Web?). The night elves feature this with the entire faction researching night vision, for a group that is mostly active at night for biological reasons. Chimeras have to research using their other head to spit acid. Trolls need to be taught how to regenerate, which is an innate ability to all members of their race.
  • None of the alien weapons in X-COM can be used before they are reverse-engineered by a team of scientists in your home base. The aliens are largely unintelligent, and most of the weapons look exactly like human guns.
    • Spiritual Successor UFO Afterblank provides two solid justifications: the aliens are far more alien (and intelligent), and when their weapons are researched, it's not just a matter of finding out how to use them, but also learning the basic principles that the weapons work on so that they can be reverse-engineered, and also so that they don't potentially explode in the face of your soldiers (like in, say, The Fifth Element with the little red button).
  • Many things in Age of Empires are things you'd logically need to learn about before you can use them, like Gunpowder, but there are a few examples of this, like the Huns being able to research Atheism. Which would seem to imply that belief is the default state, if not for the fact that the other civilizations have to research Faith.

Role-Playing Games

  • As noted in this comic from VG Cats, in order to equip any given piece of equipment (often extremely similar ones), use abilities, or cast spells in Final Fantasy XII the character must first have the license for it. Made worse by the fact that the party, composed entirely of thieves, rebels, and sky pirates, isn't the law-abiding sort.

 Leo: We Dalmaskans are pretty stupid like that. Without the experience points it's a wonder we can wipe our own asses.

Aeris: (with hat over face) Okay, I'm honestly ashamed of myself. Let's go kill cactuar until I learn how to stop being retarded.

    • Even more ridiculous with gambits: apparently, unless you find a card that tells character to, say, target an ally with a specific status ailment they are unable to figure out that it's possible to do so. Straining the limits of Acceptable Breaks From Reality is the least that can be said about this.
    • Not quite as bad but in the same neighborhood: in Final Fantasy Tactics, you have to learn how to use each item individually through the (Al)Chemist class. And in Final Fantasy X, you can use basic items like Potions normally, but you need to learn the proper ability (or be Rikku) in order to learn how to use advanced items.
      • Possibly justified in the case of FFX. Aside from Rikku, Tidus, and Auron, everyone was born under the rule of Yevon, who forbids the use of technology. Tidus is new to everything in Spira, and Auron just seems like the kind of guy who would rather stick with the sword than try and learn how to use the technology.
    • And in Final Fantasy XIII, Sazh, Vanille, and Hope apparently forget how to do basic attacks after they become l'Cie, and of the three only Sazh gets the ability back automatically. Especially silly as they're all capable of using basic attacks before that point, and Vanille was already a l'Cie before then anyway.
  • In Neverwinter Nights, you need to spend feats in order to equip weapons and armor your class isn't proficient with. Not use, equip. That's right, unless you train for this specific purpose, a wizard (generally considered to be very smart people) lacks the understanding to hold a sword without immediately dropping it. (In the pen & paper game you only take penalties for nonproficiency.) You also cannot equip magical items that haven't been identified, even though just looking at it should give you some clues as to how it might fit.
    • Ditto Diablo, where everything including rings and necklaces have stat and level requirements to wear them. Also, your characters are apparently so paranoid about magical items that they refuse to wield anything until it's been identified.
  • The VG Cats parody of Pokémon used as the page image is not that far from the truth. Some Pokémon don't learn an attack move until double-digit levels (for the uninitiated, sample low-level attacks include "Tackle" and "Peck"), Bellsprout does not automatically know how to grow ("Growth"; What was it doing for the first seven levels of its life?), Poochyena's species is "Bite" but it doesn't learn how to bite until level thirteen, and even more mind-boggling, Pidgey - a pigeon - never learns to Peck.
    • Drowzee, a pokemon with a diet made up of dreams, can only learn Dream Eater by TM. And Gastly can't learn Poison Gas attack despite being poison gas that suffocates victims with its body.
    • Even more offending is the HM moves. A Pokémon needs to be taught a special move, and a badge that somehow allows them to use it, to have a super powerful creature punch a rock.
      • To be fair, most of them never had reason to leave where you captured them. Doubt they'd ever have to even consider punching a rock before.
    • And in most games the player character is apparently incapable of running without special shoes. Maybe they are wearing sandals.
    • The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games has quite a few examples of this trope. Each character has certain IQ skills, which can be turned on and off in the menu screen and more can be gained by eating Gummies, and some only affect the partner Pokémon behaviors because they're what any human in their right mind would know what to do. While the game is at least smart enough to have some skills automatically available at the beginning (like not using a ranged attack if a wall is in the way), some IQ skills which seem essential for survival must be unlocked, like the ability to not use an attack which poisons when the foe is already poisoned, attacking the foe who is weak to your element first, and avoiding stepping on traps which are sitting out in the open.
  • In Tales of Legendia, you need to successfully make toast five times before learning to put jam and butter on it. Similarly, Raine Sage needs at least one star to learn that a sandwich consists of more than a slice of bread.
    • And in Tales of the Abyss, characters need to be at least level five and equip one passive skill for them to be able to run freely in battle; until then, you can only go back and forward.
  • The Bravery stat in The World Ends With You dictates the clothes you can wear. Justified in that it's not so much your ability to wear the clothes but your willingness to put it on.
    • Doubly justified in that typically women's clothing within the game has a high bravery requirement where as men's clothing requires less (also why the male protagonist starts off with low bravery while his female partner already has a lot of it). Which actually makes the bravery stat a reflection of your characters willingness to cross dress...
      • Strangely, the main way to increase your Bravery is to eat certain foods, leading to the strange situation of "You have now eaten enough ramen to wear heels in public".
      • And there's some high-end items that require high Bravery and really shouldn't. It makes sense you'd need to be pretty confident to put on a gothic lolita dress or a ruinously expensive tailored suit, but then you start getting items like Beat's hat. Which has a pretty high Bravery requirement. And Beat's starting Bravery is the lowest of all your characters. So you can get into a situation where Beat is afraid to put on the hat that he's been wearing for the entire game.
    • Additionally, Neku points out flatly that he thinks he's cool, and doesn't need fashion. He needs a lot of convincing (and energy drinks) to change his mind.

Sandbox Games

  • The new assassination techniques in Assassin's Creed II feel like this. Seriously, Ezio had to figure out that you can pull a guy off a ledge, or grab a guard and knife him when he walks past the hay bale you're hiding in? Altair's having to re-learn all his skills in the first game is an extremely confusing example too.
    • And in Monterigioni, Mario teaches Ezio how to taunt guards. At least you can pull some of the basic moves off without needing an explicit tutorial, like pickpocketing, even though the game will still deign to inform you of it.
    • Since all of the Animus memories in both games are subjective, we're not remembering them true to life. Remember, this is the same series that referred to not being able to swim in the first game as a "glitch". The premise itself basically invites fans to Fan Wank nearly any explanation they need.
    • In regards to Ledge Assassinations, there certainly does seem to be more to it than just stabbing, as Ezio somehow pulls the guard over the ledge with just his hidden blade. So there may be a difference between doing something, and doing it the true Assassin way.
    • Brotherhood and Revelations did this much better: Ezio is already a skilled Assassin and a very quick learner, so instead of learning new techniques, he adapts his already-learned skills to new equipment he gets, like the poison dart (gun + poison blade), hookblade (hidden blade + hook), and crossbow (gun + arrow). He needs very little instruction, and soon begins teaching others in their use as the expert.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum has skilled crimefighter Batman pick up a few new items and skills as the plot requires. Otherwise, he has to buy them with XP. From WayneTech. The company he owns.
  • In Dead Island it's impossible to equip a wooden plank, oar or hammer or similar household items because of level requirements. Never mind the fact that absolutely identical weapons of a lower level can be used without any problem and that two identical pieces of twobyfour can do drastically different amounts of damage depending on the level.
    • This also makes leveling up mostly pointless, since it only makes the enemies harder and forces you to discard old weapons that suddenly become unable to kill anything.
  • In Prototype, you can spend Evolution Points to buy the "Patsy" ability, which gives Alex the power to... point at a soldier and say "That's him!"
    • Technically, the pointing is an upgrade. The first level of Patsy lets you wrestle with someone to do the same.
    • However, this acts as Fridge Brilliance as well. He needs to wait until the Army knows he can shapeshift into anyone to use this, and by that time he's proven dangerous enough to justify their behavior.

Simulation Games

  • Syndicate was set in the future, but you can't equip your agents with shotguns, Uzis or flamethrowers until you invent them.
    • In Syndicate Wars you have to invent many of the same weapons again, despite being the sequel and set even later. Largely justified by the fact that technology has advanced in the intervening years (all weapons are energy-based, either generating ammo on the spot - the minigun fires blobs of plasma, for instance - or equipped with more than enough ammo for any reasonable excursion but limited by power in rate of fire, as the LR Rifle), the player character begins as a new executive in EuroCorp with limited resources, the fact that EuroCorp has generally mothballed its weapons division during the peacetime between the two games, and that the Church's Harbinger virus has just crashed their computer systems, so the archives are unavailable.
  • The story mode of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater: American Wasteland keeps you from doing more complicated tricks before you are trained by NPC characters. So you can grind around on rooftops and telephone wires all you want, but you can't do a manual.

Survival Horror

  • In Resident Evil Outbreak and its sequel, rather than researching simple moves as you go, each playable character has one simple move only they can perform. Kevin kicks, Mark blocks attacks, Jim plays dead, George tackles, David throws his wrenches, Alyssa backsteps, Cindy ducks, and Yoko attempts to beat a hasty escape.

Turn-Based Strategy


  Col. Santiago: I have often been asked: if we have traveled between the stars, why can we not launch the simplest of orbital probes? These fools fail to understand the difficulty of finding the appropriate materials on this Planet, of developing adequate power supplies, and creating the infrastructure necessary to support such an effort. In short, we have struggled under the limitations of a colonial society on a virgin planet. Until now.

  • In Sword of the Stars there are several techs that can be researched that open up new interface options and information screens. In several of these cases, the information is shown, but it is up to the player to organise and remember it.
    • You must also research the ability for your military forces to remember and report to you what technologies they have seen other races use in battle, and the ship types
    • Another tech must be researched in order to give orders to ship on the sensor screen in tactical combat
    • Probably the two most Egregious examples are two techs in the command and control section of the tech tree. One just gives you the ability to look at sensor data and give orders at the same time. Its prerequisite is a tech that makes your ships send their sensor data to command vessels. Yes, that's right, you have researched captains actually telling the ship in command what they see, and can now research the ability to multitask (or put buttons on the sensor display.)
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics, your characters cannot use potions--or use any other item, for that matter--until they specifically learn that ability, which requires job points in the Chemist job.
    • At first glance, this might seem justifiable. Potions and other restorative items are not simply consumed, and require special training to use (Or at least, be able to use them quickly in the heat of battle). Except there's the skill "Throw Item", which allows you to use an item on a unit several spaces away. Besides being another example of this trope, it completely shatters the Hand Wave justification of the items being difficult to apply.
  • In most Fire Emblem games, any unit will attack twice if its attack speed exceeds the opponent's by four points. In Seisen no Keifu, only characters with a special ability can do this. Any combat unit who lacks the ability is basically worthless, unless you equip them with a rare item that provides it. Oh, by the way, units won't trade, so you have to sell it to the pawn shop at half-price and buy it back at full price if the wrong character picks it up.

Miscellaneous & Other Games

  • While you don't actually research anything, in Illbleed your characters need to buy deep breathing to calm them down.
  • Upgrade Complete is a flash game that asks you to buy the preloader before you can start. It completely skewers this concept all in the name of upgrades.
    • It's better than that; you actually have to buy the shop itself before you can buy the preloader. You also have to buy the main menu buttons if you want to actually play the game.
    • It Got Worse. In the second game you need to buy the cursor before you can play.
    • Oh it gets better. You need to buy the ending screen too. Also the graphics, music, logo...
  • A lack of this trope is the backstory for the game QWOP. You are QWOP, sole representative for your small fictional country in the Olympic games. Unfortunately, the training program was so underfunded, you don't even know how to work your legs properly.
  • In Halo 1, 2 and three you cant run leading to weird situations where your badass supersoldier is walking as fast as they can away from a incoming threat. Made an odd example by the prequel, halo reach which makes Running a selectable pickup next to a jetpack and cameo device. leading to weird situations where your badass supersoldier is walking as fast as they can away from a incoming threat. It is fixed in the upcoming halo 4 whitch allows you to run whilst still having a secondary ability.
    • Granted, he's already moving at about 18 KPH.

Tabletop Games

  • Exalted: Graceful Crane Stance gives you superhuman grace and balance, enabling you to automatically succeed on balance checks and dance around on a strand of human hair; however, if you don't want to fall out of the saddle, you'd better take Ride Charms.
  • Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition: Bear Lore. The game also has magical rituals that can be purchased for such things like hearing rumors or searching a room, both of which are faster and easier to do without said ritual.
    • What is bizarre about the relationship between rituals and spells is that you need a ritual to magically unlock a door (knock, gold + healing surge, 10 minute cast time) but only a spell (Mordenkainen's Mansion, no cost, daily spell) to create a magical mansion with servants and food for eight hours.
      • On the other hand, any ritual caster can learn Knock. Only wizards can learn the latter.
    • D&D always gave Rogues/Thieves a limited choice of weapons, but when making 4E, they decided that Rogues could only sneak attack with light blades, slings, and hand crossbows (third edition allowed backstab/sneak attack with pretty much any weapon) and furthermore decided that rather than say "these are the weapons you can use, and this is the subset of those weapons you can use to sneak attack," Rogues would only be proficient with the weapons with which they could sneak attack. The result of this is that an out-of-the-box Rogue is a deadly martial combatant who hasn't quite figured out how to use a club. Later books gave the option for Rogues to use clubs by giving up other Rogue abilities, but you still need to spend several feats to be able to fight like a 3rd edition Rogue, and don't even think about trying to make a Rogue who fights with a quarterstaff (despite it being one of a tiny handful of weapons deemed so easy to use that even Wizards can use them).
      • Later options did arise for bow-using rogues.
      • Also for club/mace-wielding rogues.
    • The biggest cause of Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards in D&D 3 is this trope applying to weapon feats, which essentially teach the warrior some new minor skill, while spellcasters keep receiving ever-growing reality-altering magical powers just for leveling up and use their feats to make those spells even better.
      • One of 3.5's most absurd feats was Research, which "expands the way you can use the Knowledge skills" to give you the ability to use a library. Note that most D&D 3.x characters are automatically literate.
    • While those who remember their ancient history will recall 2nd edition D&D where the separation of rules governing various class abilities lead to some significant logical flaws (not to mention the lack of flexibility and additional complexity). For example climbing was a thief skill. Therefore the implication was that the only way your character could have any chance at all of climbing anything harder than a ladder was to be a thief. Of course being a tabletop game your DM could work around that but it was still fortunate that they fixed it in 3rd edition with the introduction of a universal skill system that all classes have access to.
    • Those first few editions also features Weapon Proficiencies as slots which players spent to learn specific weapons. This meant a character could train and learn how to use weapons whose function is mechanically identical, but because they have different names, the character can't (rules as written) use them correctly. For example, mace and club were different proficiencies. So were dagger, dirk, and knife. According to the Core Rules, you could be a fearsome master of the long sword and the two-handed sword, but none of that would translate to a faint clue about how the claymore or broad sword might be wielded.
      • A particularly silly example happened to any character who dual classed. The dual class character had to forgo everything they knew from their old class aside from their Hit Points until they exceeded their level in their original class with their level in the new class. Then everything came back at once. In theory, a character could become a legendary 18th level Paladin, dual class to cleric and then lose all their hard-won combat training, and have to fight as a first level cleric and use none of his Paladin powers. Once he becomes a 19th level cleric, he goes right back to having all his Paladin abilities again. He could then dual class again, this time to wizard, which would cost him all his warrior skills -and- all his cleric spells until he became a 20th level Wizard, at which point he could once again sling spells as a 19th level Cleric and fight as an 18th level Paladin. You could use your old abilities before surpassing your old level, but it cost you nearly all the XP of encounters.
  • FATAL has a Urination skill.
    • Worse, the game's creator has bragged that most player characters will be killed before they ever max out the urination stat. In the FATAL universe, you actually forget how to pee as you get older and have to relearn it, and most people never do.

Other Media

  • In Half Prince one of the earliest things that occurs is that the main character (a warrior with a sword) tries kicking and yelling at the mobs. Both turn out to be abilities that will level up with use. Later, a pet is hit with a stick and learns a pinball/chain lightning attack. The characters can also use any move at anytime and get some interesting effects.
  • In the webcomic Homestuck, we find out in Act 6 that the reason we always see the kids talking in instant-messenger chat windows, even when face to face, is that they can't[4] actually talk directly to each other[5] until they unlock the "gift of gab" badge, earned by ascending to the second god tier. For reference, getting into the god tiers at all isn't a natural part of the game progression and can easily be Lost Forever.
  1. You can actually perform them from the start of the game, by combining the two abilities that eventually unlock one of the "advanced" abilities and using them at the same time, but getting the ability itself still takes quite a while
  2. The player learning new skills by reading a book is exactly in character with the rest of the series, as the Hero became an adventurer through a correspondence school. He also learns swimming from the same guy that runs the school.
  3. A standard Cake can be made with a Level 40 Cooking skill, while the requirement to make a Chocolate Cake is Level 50 Cooking. Aside from the level requirements, the only other difference in the actual Chocolate Cake's creation is the mere addition of the Chocolate Bar ingredient to a "cooked"/baked Cake.
  4. As in, "the universe will conspire to make it not happen"; Word of God has denied mutism
  5. Without any gimmicks like "being in a flash game or dream bubble".