Coincidences are weird, aren’t they?
I’ve just finished getting my final Achievement for Dig Dug and, in between pumping my fist into the air in triumph, started drifting through the gaming-news-of-the-day.
I spot an article by fellow Aussie Luke Plunkett on Kotaku: I’m Free of my Achievement Complex. It seems that, due to a minor snafu with multiple accounts, he lost about 6,000 GS of Achievements.
Ouch. Double ouch, with a stabbing on top.
But, rather than being mad as hell (as I would have been in that position… after I dammed the river of tears, anyway), Plunkett saw it as a liberation, a chance to be rid of the Curse of unachieved Achievements. Which I can kind of appreciate: I’d trade a kidney – and probably a testicle – to have not had Astro Pop grace my Gamer Card.
Back to the coincidence – during my Space Giraffe scoring spree, I thought a quick blast of Dig Dug was a good palate-cleanser. Coincidentally enough, I’d only bought Dig Dug during another Giraffe break because (a) it was a mere 200 MS Points, and (2) I still harboured some guilt from having a dodgy copy on the C64 all those years ago. The night I bought it, a quick game or two gave a lazy 8 (of 12) Achievements – but a bit of research revealed that one of the remaining Achievements, “Dig”, was… well, a bit of a bitch, frankly. Tales of woe exist everywhere – whinges about failures to unlock were countered with helpful tips and “works for me”-isms which were subsequently followed by more whinges and threats that Microsoft had better fix this game or else.
I finally returned to Dig Dug, and was adamant that my brand spanking new Hori EX2 Arcade Stick would provide oodles of assistance (as opposed to the deservedly-maligned 360 controller D-pad). An hour or two of frustration later (much musing over whether it was better to tackle Level 1 with two Pookas, or Level 2 with two Fygars), and the Achievement was mine. The remaining collect-em-up Achievements quickly followed, and Dig Dug was complete – ticked off the To-Do List, probably never to be played again.
But the fact remains that I had returned to it, and the only reason why was because of those outstanding Achievements. For the O/C Gamer, it makes it very easy to define the extent of the game: get the full allotment of GS, tick the game off – it’s done. Which is, in a way, much easier to handle than something like “complete the game on every skill level, collecting every item, one-handed”. Sometimes Achievements set the bar low – Dig Dug‘s item collection is a rudimentary “completion”, at best, and EDF 2017‘s brace of tasks were just plain thoughtless. Sometimes Achievements are a bit silly – 1 point for Bullet Witch‘s Hell Mode? Nearly half of Gears of War‘s points coming from ranked online matches? People attempting to subvert ranked online games to speedify their GamerScore plumpification?
But many other cases provide lovingly selected, gameplay-extending ideas. The meta-game targets in Halo 3. Crackdown‘s grinningly loony little destructive side-quests. Even the Ridge Racer 6 No Crash Victory takes the original game and squeezes it into a new shape, yielding hours more enjoyment.
So – Achievements can be good, and they can be bad. I admit that, if a game is teetering on the edge of purchase, I’ll consider at the perceived difficulty of the Achievements before making a decision. But could I turn my back – as Plunkett did – on my gameplay? Hell no. The O/C Gamer requires proof of Achievement, for better or worse – and those lovely little icons and common nomenclature between gamers really hits the spot.
About that coincidence… bugger it, it’s in there somewhere. It made sense when I sketched this piece out :}