We’re still sorting through yesterday’s readers’ choice nominations, but it’s time for the first round of voting to get underway—the white round. It’s like The Beatles’ White Album, except different in almost every possible way. Before I break down today’s matchups, let me mention that the bracket art is by Charles Giglia, and the little animations of each treasure were made by Richard Hofmeier. So a round of applause for those fellows.
Our numbering of the seeds was pretty capricious, but even still, there’s a thrill in the bottom-feeders going up against the juggernauts. Do Gameological readers favor the underdog? Let’s find out. The polls will be open for 24 hours (closing at midnight Eastern). And please don’t try to stuff the ballot, because it’s really easy to detect and just wastes our time and my god you would be stuffing the ballot for a tournament of video game treasures.
Animal Division: Beast Mode Medal vs. Space Hamster
The Beast Mode Medal is a prize you get for petting a few yaks. It’s either a rare instance of the Uncharted series poking a bit of dorky fun at itself or a vile example of the “you get an achievement for everything!” philosophy of game design. In any case, here’s the problem with the yaks: They are not in space.
On the other hand, the Space Hamster from BioWare’s Mass Effect 2 is a space hamster. This alone makes it the overwhelming favorite here. But even better, this space hamster has a history. Not only does he resurface in Mass Effect 3, but he may very well be the same space hamster that appeared in BioWare’s 1998 game Baldur’s Gate—an animal that itself was based on a character created during the developers’ Dungeons & Dragons sessions. Point is, this hamster has a gaming heritage. He gets around. If you enjoy saying the words “space hamster” as much as I do, your choice is clear.[poll id=”3″]
Weapon Division: Wabbajack vs. Zodiac Spear
The Wabbajack could easily have been the top seed in this division. It is a staff of pure madness. Any weapon that can turn your opponent into a bunny rabbit is okay in my book. I mean, it does other things, and you can never predict what it’s going to do, but when you wield the Wabbajack, you’re pretty much hoping for some bunny rabbit transmogrification.
But we had to give the No. 1 spot to the Zodiac Spear, perhaps the biggest “fuck you” move in the history of game design. The Zodiac Spear is the most powerful weapon in Final Fantasy XII, but other than that the weapon itself is fairly unremarkable. It’s the process of finding it that makes it so notorious. Throughout the game, there are a number of treasure chests that, if opened, make it impossible for you to find the Zodiac Spear. The chests are unmarked and there is no indication that it would be bad to open them—and given that people tend to open treasure chests, you’re liable to screw yourself without even realizing it. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, it takes a lot of brass to make the ultimate weapon impossible to find without a strategy guide. The question is, will you reward this brass, or will the Wabbajack prevail?[poll id=”4″]
Throwback Division: Yoshi vs. Warp Whistle
It’s hard to make an argument against the Warp Whistle here. It’s clearly the superior Mario treasure. Among Mario aficionados, who doesn’t remember the thrill of finding one of those whistles for the first time—and then giving it a toot to see where it takes you? The Warp Whistle is a threat to win the whole bracket.
But here, let me make a case for Yoshi: He rewards exploration. Once you find all 120 stars in Super Mario 64, a cannon appears, with which you can blast yourself to the top of the game’s castle. It’s the kind of thing you’d try on a lark, just to see if there’s anything up there. And it turns out there is, because the development team cared enough to add this little bonus for the truly dedicated. Yoshi gives you a bunch of lives and an improved triple-jump move, which is nice, but the real draw here is, hey, it’s Yoshi! From that other Mario game!
Right, so go ahead and vote for the Warp Whistle.[poll id=”5″]
Wild Card Division: IWHYBD Skull vs. Luck Bobblehead
A showdown between two different takes on the human head. Which makes the better treasure: an amusing, bobbling head or a head stripped of all its skin? In the skull’s favor: It spices Halo 3 up with some jokey dialogue—albeit dialogue written by someone who thinks the phrase “bitch-slapped” is the height of hilarity. In the bobblehead’s favor: It features Fallout mascot Vault Boy, one of the most charming and versatile mascots in all of gaming. Plus, it’s mildly radioactive. In my opinion, uranium beats cranium.[poll id=”6″]