Tag Archives: collecting

Some collectibles are better than others, but these stink

worst collectibles to collect rain gd post

There’s no shame in saying it, but I like collecting things. Both in real life and via my digital, interactive entertainment. That’s not to say I’m a hoarder, but if you give me a list of items existing somewhere out there, I’m most certainly going to try my darnedest to find them all and happily cross each one off. This most likely stems back to my younger days, on family vacations in Avalon, NJ. Besides playing a lot of Yahtzee by the swimming pool, I signed up for every scavenger hunt offered by our hotel that I could, and these often involved finding innocuous items like a specific type of seashell, a pair of sunglasses, and so on. I have fond if fuzzy memories of running around the hotel grounds like a maniac, looking for things and screaming with joy when they were found.

That said, as a player of videogames, sometimes finding items is not fun. Yeah, I know. What a hot take. Personally, I don’t need to be told specifically where each collectible is on the map, like in later Assassin’s Creed titles where you can just purchase these waypoint symbols from a shop. I prefer discovering them myself, but I also like knowing, generally, how many are in an area or which ones I’ve already found. Some record-keeping is vital, that way I don’t need to take mental notes as I pick up each shimmery doodad. The fear of leaving an area for good and suspecting I missed something is enough to lock my feet in the dirt.

Also, while not required, I greatly enjoy when the collectibles contain something else to them other than being a thing you gnab, such as some bit of additional in-game lore. Like in Tomb Raider and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, you find a thing, say a rusty knife, and that’s a collectible for sure, but you also have to interact with it and discover a hidden symbol to bring out story details. The collectible becomes more than just an object to pocket. Heck, at least collecting all those miscellaneous gizmos in Tom Clancy’s The Division got me some sweet, colorful outfits.

Because of recent actions, I’ve decided to put my brain to the task of coming up with a bunch of collectibles that absolutely stink. These are either not fun to find, do nothing for the player in the end, or maybe cover both of these issues. Regardless, boo to them, and boo to me for attempting to collect (some of) ’em. It’s a skill in others that I greatly admire, the ability to walk by these shiny sprites and polygons and not even care. Teach me how.

Gears of War – COG tags

COG tags are a mainstay of the Gears of War series, but they only become easier to track and find starting in Gears of War 2, which introduced the war journal, a sort of in-game notebook for keeping tabs on a number of things. However, for the first Gears of War, all you get is an X out of Y line when you pause the game. That’s it. I beat the game back at the end of 2013, with something like one-third of the COG tags found.

Recently, I glanced at the Achievements list to see if there was anything I could potentially pop before deleting the game from my Xbox One for forever and saw that two were related to finding the rest of the hidden thingamajigs. Alas, I basically had to follow a video guide to find each one, level by level, because I had no memory of the ones I had already picked up. Also, barely nothing happens when you bend down to grab these COG tags save for a less-than-impression sound cue. Obviously, this was early on in both the franchise and console generation, and figuring out how to implement collectibles was still in a nascent stage.

L.A. Noire – golden film reels

I’d have to go back and confirm this, but for some reason I feel really strongly that I only ever came across one of these 50 gold film canisters scattered about L.A. Noire‘s sprawling Los Angeles. They all contain names of films from the 1940s and 1950s. That’s cool. However, the problem is that they are extremely well-hidden. Maybe too well. In my search for hopping into the driver’s seat of every car in the game, 95 in total, another stinker of a collectible of sorts, I thought I explored a good chunk of the map. I guess not. I have no idea if finding all 50 golden film reels does anything for Cole Phelps and his ultimate destiny. It’d be cool if you could take these reels back to the police station and watch a few scenes during your coffee breaks, but I’m sure the licensing around something like that would be nightmarish.

Rain – lost memories

This blog post’s origins began with Rain, a game I completed on the first day of 2016. The collectibles in Rain are in the form of lost memories that the player can find to learn more about the young boy’s past. That’s fine and dandy, and there are 24 in total to collect, but here’s the sick kicker–these only are available to find after beating the game. Also, these only appear once you are in the exact location, which means you can’t spy them off from a distance; you have to know exactly where they are to start.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I burned my lunch hour to collect them all of them in a single go, following an online guide and abusing the checkpoint system so that I did not, in fact, have to play through the entire game again. Sorry, Rain–you have some great things going for you, but you are not that amazing or varied of an experience to go through again simply to now be able to collect floating orbs that give you the slimmest of slim story details to a story fairly slim on details to begin with. Ugh.

LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga – Blue Minikits

Speaking of ugh, LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga. Here’s the thing. I’m totally and 100% completely used to collecting a number of things in all the LEGO videogames, from red bricks to gold bricks to characters to studs and so on. That’s just part of the flow, of going through levels and seeing what you can’t grab just yet, returning with the right characters/powers to pave the way. It’s been like this since day one. However, recently, Melanie and I worked our way through LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, and it truly was like going back in time.

As part of our climb to hit 100% completion, we had to find 10 blue minikits in every single level. Sounds tedious, but not tough. Except it is because there is a time limit, and sometimes missing one blue minikit means replaying the whole thing over. You are also not able to use any cheats, which means having to deal with enemies while frantically scouring the scene for blue minikits. Most are hidden somewhat in the open, and others are dastardly wedged behind objects in the environment. The hardest level, without a doubt, was “Speeder Showdown,” where you kind of need luck on your side to progress swiftly and the extra five minutes was not enough. Took us multiple attempts, but the job is done, and, as far as I know, this type of gameplay hasn’t shown up in other LEGO titles.

The Last of Us – All of Them

Amazingly, there are four types of collectibles to hoard in The Last of Us. Specifically, 30 Firefly pendants, 14 comic books, 85 artifacts, and 12 training manuals that improve your crafting skills and such. I’m pretty sure only the last set has any impact on gameplay, and the remainder are just things for Joel to bend down, pick up, and pocket away for no other reason than to give you something to do in-between moving from a safe space to an area full of Cordyceps-inspired monsters. A few help flavor the world, for sure.

Okay, I just loaded up the game–evidently, I found 95 of 141 as of when I last played, which is way more than I initially assumed. Not sure why it felt so low in my mind, but maybe I was thinking of Trophies, which the game is stingy with. Oh well. Either way, these are pretty obscurely hidden throughout the game, and the artist in me really wanted to be able to open the comic books and read a few pages instead of just staring at the covers.

I know for a fact there are many more that I’m not touching on, like the flags from the original Assassin’s Creed, score pieces from Eternal Sonata, and kissing 50 women from The Saboteur.

That said, I’d like to know what collectibles gave you the most grief. Join the conversation below in the comments.

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Absolutely nothing special about the platforming and punching in Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom

Everyone’s been talking about collectathons of late with the release of Yooka-Laylee, and I’m a pretty big fan of this…uh, genre. Sub-genre? This style of game. I mean, I like things like Insomniac’s Spyro the Dragon–still working my way slowly through Spyro: Year of the Dragon, somewhere now over 40% complete with plenty more eggs to track down–and Ty the Tasmanian Tiger, which split the difference between action elements and collecting shiny trinkets pretty nicely. Shockingly, I’ve never played Super Mario 64 (or 98% of the Nintendo 64’s library). But, having a list of shiny objects to collect is not the worst thing in the world and, in a lot of ways, can be quite calming and satisfying, even if there’s no larger reward at the end of the task.

I’m also a firm believer of playing bad videogames. Not because I’m a masochist and love them more than good games, but because it is important to see all sides of the industry, from the AAA work that takes hundred of people and years to make to the smaller outputs that certainly needed more time in the oven or someone to step in and fight for or against specific design elements. Some less-than-stellar titles from my past include The Incredibles for PlayStation 2 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One for the Nintendo DS. There’s more, but I’m not going to name ’em.

Naturally, these two paragraphs of buildup is for me to talk to you about a little ol’ thing on the PlayStation 3 called Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom, of which I’m currently working my way through. It was a PlayStation Plus freebie for April 2017. If you, like me, have never heard of this beast before, fear not, for I have a summary of sorts. Invizimals is a Spanish augmented reality video game franchise developed by Novarama and published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. The series, which originally began in 2009 as a video game on the PSP, has since inspired toys, trading cards, comics, and an animated television series telling an interconnected transmedia story.

In Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom, you play as the child hero Hiro, who is sent through a Shadow Gate and into the Invizimals world to form allegiances with the various creatures that he encounters, as well as stop a bunch of evil robots for some reason that I stopped following. The uneventful story is told through in-game cinematics, but the introduction is done in full-motion video with actors, like Brian Blessed, that fans of the show would probably be excited to see. All I’ve been able to gather is that robots are bad and violent animals that attack them are cool. Not sure yet where humans fit into the picture.

Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom‘s gameplay is beyond perfunctory and repetitive. Hiro is able to fuse his teeny tiny body with the various Invizimals he meets, which help to unlock a number of abilities. Such as climbing up vines, swinging over inexplicably large drops, swimming underwater, and teleporting past locked gates. You can switch freely between these Invizimals using a weapon wheel menu, though the game will often automatically transform you into a specific Invizimal when the puzzle or platforming section says so. When given a choice, I’ve been sticking with Ocelotl, mostly because I like how the narrator says his name. There are two main actions: attacking and collecting. The fighting is bare bones, with mashing more than enough to get you through it, and the menus for upgrading don’t provide a lot of context for the abilities you are purchasing. As for collecting, well…there’s a lot to snag–Sparks (2,000 in total), Z-Sparks (13,000 in total), pup idols, dark seeds, and unlockable vault doors. None of it is difficult to gather, but I’ve completed some levels with a few items unscooped, and it’s eating away at my brain.

Some general complaints about Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom include that there are no subtitles or even options to muck around in. You may be able to play with the audio levels, but I can’t remember. There’s also next to no explanation for a number of things, especially the Battle Mode, which, from what I saw, is kind of like a one-on-one Pokemon fight in real time, where you can level up your creature. But to what end? I don’t know. There are also too many quick time events, which instantly warped me back to when I first got my Xbox 360 and only had Kung Fu Panda to play for many days.

Look, I’m just not as into Trophies as I am into popping Achievements, and part of that still has to do with how finicky it is to sync them with your profile and the clunkiness that is trying to quickly view the list as you are playing. But whatever. I’ve completed a few games on the PlayStation 3 to 100%, namely Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Doki-Doki Universve, Dragon Fantasy Book 1, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, Kung Fu Rabbit, Machinarium, and rain, but have yet to acquire my first Platinum Trophy. I came close with Prototype 2 (at 91%). Sadly, or rather humorously, Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom might be my first Platinum Trophy. It doesn’t seem difficult to get, just a little bit of time and collecting and we’re at our final destination. So while it may not have been the best freebie in the world, at least it served a purpose…for me and my desire to have digital rewards. I’ll let you know when I hit it.

Living the LEGO life of a pirate

The demo for LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game begins with a young Elizabeth Swan punching a parrot in its face. It’s pure zaniness, but that’s what these LEGO games have always been about–retellings with a special touch. If you’re not laughing, you’re not having fun.

I started to play this demo by myself, but when Tara saw what I was doing, she quickly grabbed another controller and joined in on the fun. We’ve always enjoyed playing the LEGO games together, especially LEGO Harry Potter, Years 1-4, which was very close to us in terms of interests. Here’s a comic I did many moons ago about our time with LEGO Batman (the weakest of all the LEGO titles actually):

Much of the demo for LEGO Pirates (I’m shortening the title from now on) is actually cutscenes, setting the story up and giving Tara and I many reasons to giggle. The entire game will cover all four movies. We’re playing the first level of the Curse of the Black Pearl, which has Jack Sparrow arriving in town and getting locked up, Elizabeth accidentally summoning those cursed pirates and getting herself kidnapped, and Will Turner slowly becoming allies with a wanted criminal.

The first playable part of the demo is inside Will Turner’s workshop. One player controls Will, and the other controls, um, some guy I can’t remember the name of. His partner? Together, we broke items, collected studs, fed a carrot to a donkey, and repaired a machine, which revealed where Jack Sparrow was hiding. Then it was time for a sword-fight high up in the rafters, and even though I was just mashing the attack button, the swords clinked and clanked and swung wildly, giving the impression of a real duel to the death.

The next area has us controlling Will and Jack, trying to break our way out of jail. This involves using a dog and sniffing out keys. Once we’re done this area, we’re outside in the shiny, bright sunshine, attempting to get to the docks to steal a ship. Tara takes control of Jack and the laughs hit a high when he hops on top of a barrel and begins rolling around with it. We get to do some combat with some soldiers, and then we’re over by a ship, trying to figure out how to commandeer it. Staying in the water too long gets you eaten by a shark. After solving the rather simple puzzles and zip-lining over onto the ship, the demo ends, leaving us wanting more.

However, after playing the main part of the demo, you can go back and do “free play” on the first level, which just gave us an excuse to try out some other fun characters and explore a few locked areas. Tara ran me over several times with a donkey, and then we were officially done for the night.

So, the gameplay is exactly what we’ve all come to expect. For some, that might seem like a downer. However, it’s still the sort of gameplay I like, as it is not too intense for co-op play, and just enough of a collectathon for my OCD. Granted, there are not as many memorable characters to unlock in LEGO Pirates as there were in LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Harry Potter, but I think it’ll still be a blast to control Bootstrap Bill.

The full retail version releases tomorrow, and I’m gonna get that booty faster than you can say, “Oh, barnacles!”

A million Claptrap parts is still not enough for Patricia Tannis

I used to love Claptraps. Y’know, those adorable, dancing robot thingies that would give you more inventory space or provide you with access to hidden weapon caches. I even drew them from time to time. And now the romance is over, thanks to the mission flow in Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution, the last bit of DLC for Borderlands.

Upon arrival in Tartarus Station, players meet up with Tannis in her secret workshop. She’s trying to build something and needs claptrap parts to get it done. Thus, you’re given the first mission of the DLC:

  • Patricia Tannis needs parts to build her magnificent…something. Head down to the Hyperion Dump and search the scrapped claptraps for parts and bring them back to her. (Clap-Components: 0/5)

Okay, five parts. That should be easy enough, and it is. You head off to the Hyperion Dump to shoot up seemingly endless swarms of angry Claptraps. As their robot bodies explode, they drop parts like gears, wires, and motherboards. Five are quickly acquired, but picking up extra parts don’t add to your collection. In fact, you can’t even really tell how many you have as nothing is actually listed in your inventory. Which sucks considering the next quest from Tannis is this:

  • Tannis needs some more parts to complete her creation’s Infinite Improbability Drive. If you can’t find any lying around, just rip them out of some claptrap spines. (Clap-Components: 0/42)

That means any extra parts you previously picked up are nulled. There’s no point in gathering more than what is needed. Kind of stupid in terms of a design process, but whatever. It’s not like we’re gonna have to collect a stadium-load more of these things, right? On to the next quest!

  • Tannis needs more parts to ensure the protection grid holds on her device’s ecto-containment unit, safeguarding against total protonic reversal, which would be extraordinarily bad. (Clap-Components: 0/75)

Dammit. Enter Hyperion Dump, shoot Claptraps, exit Hyperion Dump, enter again, rinse and repeat and feel bored. Gee, I wonder what the next quest will be?

  • The “popcorn” setting on Tannis’ device is malfunctioning. Well, it’s not so much malfunctioning as creating deadly mutant corn. A few more parts should fix that! (Clap-Components: 0/100)

Oh boy. Good, good. I haven’t collected claptrap parts in ages.

  • Just a few more parts and Tannis’ magnum opus shall be revealed! Tremble in fear at the might of Tannis and her fearsome…what is this thing, anyway? (Clap-Components: 0/150)

Go sleep with a badmutha skag, Tannis. You suck.

Let’s do some math. That’s a total of 372 claptrap parts collected. The most frustrating aspect though is that you simply can’t collect claptrap parts as a collectible. Only during these missions do they matter, and once you’ve acquired your target number, the rest are voided of purpose. I know for sure I could have cleared a few of these missions out faster if I’d been allowed to use the previous parts I found while out on the hunt. Would it really have been terribly hard, 2K/Gearbox, to design a slot in your inventory for claptrap parts? Me thinks not.

So, the first five missions in the DLC are a straight collect-a-thon, and not a very fun one at that. And all that work results in Tannis building an android version of herself so she won’t be so lonely anymore. Um…what?


The Collector (50G): Completed Tannis’ crazy request

Crazy disappointing to be more exact.

Hello, my name is Paul, and I’m a collectaholic

Collecting has always been a part of videogames. Mario went after coins for extra lives, Link had to gather slew of weapons/items to further travel Hyrule, and Samus was always on the lookout for new toys and upgrades. Roleplaying games gave players the chance for amass weapons (Rogue Galaxy, for example) or pieces of music (Eternal Sonata) or even books (Fable II and the Elder Scroll games do this pretty well). Other games took this even further, often to the point where they are trying to drive those with ADHD crazy. Case in point: Assassin’s Creed and its myriad of pointless flags.

But one of my all-time favorite games for collecting random pixels is Animal Crossing: Wild World, especially with its incentive to play every day and check out what new items were up for sale. Hats, shirts, furniture, wallpaper, and more. Mmm. Granted, I haven’t played in many months now (my villagers probably assume now that I’ve gone off the deep end and am in county jail), but the crack collecting is still deep in my blood, which I why I stopped and stared at the following game tonight in the game shop for a good ten minutes:

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Ah, Magician’s Quest Mysterious Times. The obvious clone to AC: WW. But that doesn’t matter. For those not in the know, here’s its description:

Magic academy is in session and enrolling kid wizards! Attend classes with your friends to learn the mysteries of magic and the art of casting spells to experience the wonders of this mystifying land. Exchange secret letters and spread rumors about other students in order to become the greatest magician of all time. Creating or sabotaging relationships will determine the way the adventures are told. In this magic adventure, time flows as it does in the real world and each week your wizard skills are put to the test in a new magical adventure. Solve these quests by gathering information from friends and mythical characters you encounter and by using all the magic you’ve learned. Experience a world of magic, mystery and adventure just waiting to be told!

Truthfully, all I took notice of was the claim of “Collect and customize over 350 varieties of currency, clothing, furniture and more!” How I walked away from purchasing the piece of collect crack, I’ll never know.

Okay, I do know: I’m poor. $29.99 is too much for crack. But still…