Gameological Q&A

Fallout 3: Bobbleheads

Hoarders

What are your most cherished in-game collectibles?

By The Gameological Society Staff • July 11, 2013

Welcome to Gameological Q&A, where we throw out a question for discussion among the staff and readers. If you have a brilliant question that would make a fun Q&A, send it to brilliantquestions at gameological dot com.

Good news, everyone! The question for today’s Q&A is adapted from a question we received from ProfFarnsworth. Here it is:

Games have been littering their environments with collectible knickknacks for a long time. Recently, we’ve even seen otherwise dour titles like The Last Of Us and Alan Wake fill their worlds with shiny doodads (dog tags and thermoses, respectively). What game has your favorite collectible items, and why?

Derrick Sanskrit

When I think of meaningless collectible items that I’ve poured entirely too much of my time and frustration into snagging, I never need to look much further than “The Great Cave Offensive,” one of eight game modes in Kirby Super Star. “Cave” is an adventure much like the other Kirby games, lots of running, jumping, and eating things to steal their powers. It’s also filled with 60 special treasure chests, each containing a unique item that serves no tangible purpose. Things start off easy, with treasure chests in plain sight. Soon, you come across Nintendo in-joke items, like Mr. Saturn from Earthbound and Samus Aran’s Screw Attack ball. Eventually, reaching the chests becomes a real task. The more obscure ones present some of the more daunting challenges that the Kirby games hide away. You might need to have one power to light a candle and another to reach a switch behind a wall. Then, you have to zip up a tower in the seven seconds it takes for the candle to burn out. You can beat the game with exactly zero treasures in your collection, but you know it’s all worth it when you finally hold that Triforce above your head.

Anthony John Agnello

The Memory Vaults in Psychonauts. It’s so cool to be wandering around the psyches of characters only to stumble on thoughts that they themselves had locked away. Among my favorites are the memories of Milla Vodello, the go-go boot-wearing telepath who’s secretly in love with a fellow Psychonaut, Sasha Nein. The Vaults are rare among video game collectibles in that they add so much texture to an already great story, in addition to ticking up your game completion percentage.

Adam Volk
Assassin's Creed 2: Feathers

When it comes to in-game collectibles, it’s pretty hard to top Assassin’s Creed II. You can’t stab 15 Renaissance-era guardsmen in the spine without stumbling over some glowing statue, treasure chest, or eagle feather. It’s the latter that became my raison d’être. At first, I just happened to randomly snag a few feathers, but before long, I found myself climbing over treacherous rooftops and leaping over sprawling cathedrals in an effort to collect more and more of the filthy, bird dander-encrusted objects. It wasn’t so much the rewards that interested me. (Collect 100 feathers and you can unlock a new weapon, a clothing item, and an achievement.) No, it was more the challenge of it. Could it be done? Just when I thought I’d found them all, there was another one, tucked away on a ledge just out of reach or perched atop a dusty wall sconce. I couldn’t get enough of those goddamn eagle feathers. Of course, my inane feather collecting quest was also a great way to take in the game’s breathtaking vistas, and the joy of climbing around and exploring your surroundings almost never got old. As an added bonus, feather-collecting in Assassins Creed II also happens to be a nice way to break up the time between courting chesty Italian countesses and stabbing papal goons.

Samantha Nelson

I never chase collectibles. I’m happy whenever I find one in a game, but it’s the difference between feeling good about picking up a quarter off the street and combing a beach with a metal detector searching for more spare change. I just don’t have the time or patience to dedicate to that intense a search. The fact that I don’t actively go looking for these extras made the gnomes in Fable III perfect for me. The obnoxious animate lawn ornaments let you know when you’re getting close to their hiding places by taunting you with creative insults, which inspired me to search the area so I could shoot them and move on in peace. I didn’t wind up collecting all 50 before I got bored with the game, but I did feel good about ridding the world of those surly menaces.

Zack Handlen

Batman: Arkham Asylum one of my favorite games, and one of the reasons is its sense of focus. The sequel, Arkham City, had greater ambition and scope, but in expanding, it lost the first game’s thrilling momentum, the clear sense of urgency that drove your actions from beginning to end. Asylum even manages to make the generally useless distraction of collectibles into a clever, mood-building treat. While Batman spends most of his time beating up thugs and trying to figure out what the hell the Joker is up to, he also gets challenged by the Riddler to track down a series of puzzles, question mark trophies, and other tricks and treats. There’s a promise of a reward if you find everything, but some of the items serve as their own reward. The best of the lot: interview tapes that Batman picks up in various offices. They feature clips of the game’s villains talking to their psychiatrists. In addition to creating backstory, the tapes also exploit the depth and horror-movie spookiness of the Batman rogue’s gallery, adding urgency and suspense to an already tense situation.

Drew Toal
The Witcher 2

Nothing says “Don’t fuck with me” better than the pelt of a mythical beast hanging off your belt. For a professional monster hunter like Geralt of Rivia, these trophies are essentially business cards: “You need giant arachnids or centuries-old transdimensional octopuses taken care of? Here, let me give you my leathery entrails.” In The Witcher 2, there are dozens of such trophies to be found. You can get them off of common swamp monsters or massively irritating harpies, or from rarer, more powerful monsters. Once they’re defeated, you just latch them to your person (only one at a time, unfortunately) and bask in the adulation and terror of passersby.

Steve Heisler

Borderlands 2 is basically Collectors: The Game. Most of your time is spent digging through piles of discarded bones (why would you ever get rid of something like that?) to maybe find a new gun that sucks. You won’t even get a chance to try it out, what with all the collecting you’ll be doing. The game offers a glut of doodads so overwhelming, they cease to be useful due to volume alone. But there was one collectible from that game that I treasured. I tracked down a secret area of the game where your enemies are characters from the game Minecraft. I assume. I’ve never played that game. But these guys had giant blockheads and dropped upgrades so I could outfit my character with a Minecraft blockhead of my own. Borderlands 2 is a first-person shooter, so you can’t even see your own character and admire the fact that they could now easily be cast in a Daft Punk video. But I played the game on the same TV with my roommate, so I was afforded the ability to make him watch me jump up and down and shout, “I’m a Minecraft!” Later I learned there is a Minecraft character named Steve. I’d like to think they named him after me.

Matt Kodner

The Simpsons: Virtual Springfield takes you on a Google Street View-like jaunt through Springfield, State Unknown. There isn’t much to do beside poke around familiar haunts like 742 Evergreen Terrace or the Kwik-E Mart and watch silly scenes play out, but there are approximately a gazillion trading cards to hunt down. While I could never manage it, apparently collecting all 75 of the character cards pointed players to a secret and now-defunct website. It’s one of those rare virtual hidey-holes that not even the Wayback Machine preserved in full. There were also special trinkets that unlocked new areas to explore, like a Stonecutter’s ring, but the game didn’t make this clear. No matter. Eight-year-old me was perfectly content circling around Krustylu Studios for the 20th time and getting lost trying to find my way back to Springfield Elementary.

John Teti
Fallout 3: Bobblehead

I have to go with the Fallout 3 Vault Boy bobbleheads. I know this is the obvious answer, but I can’t help loving them to bits. Unlike, say, the feathers in Assassin’s Creed, which have only the most tenuous relevance to the larger game, the Fallout 3 bobbleheads practically plant a flag of the creators’ intentions. The implicit message is “Yes, this game takes place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and you’re going to see some harrowing images, but we’re going to preserve a sense of silliness, too. That’s why the most valuable, rare items in the game are freaking bobbleheads.” I love a mix of serious and silly, as regular readers probably know already. But silliness can be so ethereal that game makers struggle to preserve it as their series age. A few of us were just chatting last week at Gameological HQ about the depressing turn the Dead Rising games appear to be taking, from gleefully wacky to—sigh—“dark and gritty.” At a moment when Fallout fans were nervous about the changes a new developer (Bethesda) might make to their beloved mythos, the bobbleheads were a bold, endearing sign that Fallout was not about to lose its sense of humor.

Ryan Smith

Red Dead Redemption perfected the art of optional collectibles by making the hunt better than the reward itself. A random encounter early in the game puts you in contact with a treasure hunter named Chi Fung. Depending on your benevolence, you can either save him from bandits or loot his corpse, but you get a treasure map either way. I love the way the developer, Rockstar, presents the handful of maps you find—all of them weathered pieces of parchment marked by hard-to-read cursive writing and rough pencil sketches that hint at the location of buried loot. The maps convey just enough information. Instead of smacking you in the face with a giant X that marks the spot, you get rough drawings of rock formations and other visual landmarks. That way, once you finally pinpoint the hidden campsite or mountaintop and dig up one of the treasures, you get a satisfying “Eureka!” moment. (It’s a Western, your exclamations of wonder are supposed to be old-timey.)

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  • ProfFarnsworth

    I love this list.  My favorite is the upgrades and the red jewels of Illusion of Gaia.  The upgrades were the brilliant part of the game that made exploring fun and simple.  By killing all the creatures in an area you grew as a character.

    The red jewels, were by far a much darker collectible item.  You had to travel the world and do things unimaginable (like sell a person back into slavery) to get all 50 of them, and when you did you were treated with another dungeon to crawl and another boss to fight to the death.  This boss was much stronger than the final boss.  The only reward for doing this…is a SPOILER!

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      Ooh, I should pick that up again. I started it because someone (YOU?!) recommended it on here a while ago but I got stuck and started playing something else. I love it when games reward you doing well with bonus levels and stuff like that. Yoshi’s Island was probably the first game I 100% beat on my own as a kid, largely because of the bonus levels you unlocked once you got a perfect score on all the levels in an area.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

        Oh, you should.  It’s amazing, and, bonus, the composer is super-nice.  He also composed Dokuro/Skull and SOLELY because I got in touch with him during NeoGAF’s Soundtracks Of The Year topic, he sends me nice Facebook messages and gave me the World’s Only Copy of a certain game’s soundtrack (he said I couldn’t say), since it wasn’t released on disc and releasing it elsewhere would cause legal issues.

        He has an album out http://www.sakuranotes.jp/Disc4817.html .

        Also, you know, Quintet designed hard games that REWARDED perseverance, so you wouldn’t be wasting your time.

      • Thats_Unpossible

        If you got stuck at Mu, we’d all understand. Mu is awful.

    • Thats_Unpossible

      That secret Illusion of Gaia boss is a huge pain, mostly because you’re stuck through that whole dungeon playing as Will instead of Freedan or Shadow. Also, those damn conveyor belts…

      One of the best parts about the red jewels quest is both how understated it is and how arduous moments of it are. While many of the jewels are easy to find in a chest here or there, so many more are found in branching dialogue paths, talking to certain people repeatedly, making terrible decisions and playing with the games rules. Characters will tell you where you can and cannot go and only by breaking some of those orders can you collect every jewel.

      It’s really how little attention is paid to them that sells the quest for me. The Stranger asks Will to find them and shows some of the abilities but as the quest goes and players get closer and closer to earning the “SECRET,” the quest just becomes more and more difficult and it seems impossible that anything could be worth what you’ve had to do to get these gems, not to mention getting that far in the story. It’s a great little piece of world building and adds to the biblical and mythical scope of the game’s themes of ambition and fate.

    • Baramos x

       My only problem with the red jewels was that the game was linear, so if you missed some, well….that said, I beat that game in three days one time because I rented it. So it’s not that hard to play it through again to get all the jewels.

    • http://twitter.com/vowelsagogo Kilzor

      I’m very curious about this super spoiler.  Should I just look it up online, or will you TELL ALL?

      • ProfFarnsworth

        Look it up online.  For minor spoilers: it ties Illusion of Gaia to another game made by Enix.  I think it is pretty neat, but you should look the rest of it up online.

  • Matt Gerardi

    So, I don’t really have a good answer for this one (which is why I’m not in the mix) but after thinking about the collectibles that sprung to mind (Crackdown‘s orbs, Infamous‘ shards, and Assassin’s Creed 2‘s feathers) and the rest of the staff’s entries, I realized what makes a good collectible, at least in my mind. 

    For me, it’s all about the journey. The more fun it is to just move in a video game, the more likely I am to go out of my way to find the stupid stuff hidden away. Those three games (Crackdown, Infamous, and AC2) all share a fantastic sense of locomotion. It’s so satisfying to just run and jump around their wide open cities that the collecting isn’t a chore, it’s thrilling. 

    In the case of Fallout‘s bobbleheads, I think it’s the narrative of your specific quest to find each one that I liked. I’m specifically thinking of whichever one was in the Deathclaw cave. Sneaking through that place was freaking harrowing. The stat boost was nice, but the tense personal quest to plunder that doodad was even more valuable.

    • ProfFarnsworth

      That is what I think as well.  For me a good collectible is what inspires a great story and a good journey.  Recently I have been seeing games with, in my opinion, way to many collectibles and I really enjoyed all the answers.  Your answer really makes a great point and I like how you followed up with it as well.

      Thank you!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dan-Whitehead/789605656 Dan Whitehead

       The Crackdown agility orbs are a beautiful example of that, because the more you collect, the more you can reach, and they’re located in such a way that there’s always another one winking nearby to lead you onwards. It’s a lovely system that actively encourages you to take ever greater risks while incrementally improving your ability to do just that. They’re not just shiny trinkets sprinkled on top of the game world, but breadcrumb trails that draw the player deeper into the gameplay systems.

      The fact that the game works just as well as a “jump and climb around a city looking for green blobs” game, as well as a game in which you shoot a bunch of dudes and throw cars at things, says it all.

    • Dave Dalrymple

       It is all about the journey. It’s telling that so few people here have mentioned collectibles that appear as enemy drops. Few people have fond memories of farming for hours on end.

  • PaganPoet

    If anyone here ever played Secret of Evermore, I used to refrain from selling any of my old armor or helmets, mainly because a full set looked really, really cool in the ring menu. There was one set of armor that was pretty easy to miss, and it always caused a bit of panic for me. When you first arrive to the market of Nobila (the big Romanesque city with the dog statue), you have to get the armor from one of the traders BEFORE the Colosseum battle. In the Colosseum dungeon, in the walls, you will find an upgrade to the strongest armor you have. If you got the one in the market, it would be an armor that you can’t find anywhere else in the game.

    • aklab

      Ha ha, same here. And in SoE my insane need to max out all of my alchemy ingredients, even ones that I didn’t need for any of my favored spells, kept me busy literally the entire summer of 1996.

  • lokimotive

    In Castlevania: Harmony of Darkness, you can collect various objects that are housed in a room of the castle. It has no effect on gameplay and only serves to allow Juste Belmont to clutter the fuck out of a room. I collected every single thing for that room, with the generous help of a FAQ.

    Months, or perhaps years after I finished it, I found the piece of paper that I had scribbled the names of the collectibles on so that I could figure out where they were using the FAQ. At first glance, I had no idea what it was as it seemed to be some sort of free association poem:Pretty vaseGold TrinketLuckycat
    Stuffed StagTeacupWizard’s UrnCastle Drawing.Phonograph

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

      I love it for the reason I love a lot of Konami’s games (that team is 1 of my 5 favorite developers ever).  It’s enriching and adds zest and a little thoughtfulness to the game, but it’s not so self-serious that there can’t be a goof or 2 in it.

      They did a really wonderful job with the same in Airforce Delta Strike.  I like the series slightly more than Ace Combat, but Strike is the coolest because they provide really amazing 3-d versions of classic Konami Player 1s.  It’s hard to unlock them all, but, http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/konamishooters/konamishooters7.htm oh, those are fantastic.  I wish shoot-’em-ups did mashups as often as fighting games do.  Namco X Capcom X Konami X Sega X Cave X Dead Developers (X some awesome North American and European developers?) would be a dream game for me.  Anyway, like Harmony Of Dissonance/Concerto Of The Midnight Sun, it’s wistful and thoughtful but a little silly.  Irem’s always been more melancholic, so they did the same for R-Type Final, sans jokes.  http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/rtype/rtype3.htm

      Those bonds to a lasting in-game history are so much better than something like Virtua Fighter 5.  I spent a whole year learning every character in Version A/the Playstation 3 port so that I could collect EVERY item.  It’s randomized, difficult, and grinding, which was an idiotic use of time.  Of course, what made it worse was that Version…D?/Final Showdown solved that by letting you download all items in a snap, instantly invalidating the worth of what I’d done.  At a certain point, it was less about getting a glowing angel halo for my character and more about my neverending completionism.  DLC is bad for a lot of things, but it certainly exposes player idiocy and obsession!

  • vinnybushes

    I kitted my Chrono Trigger party out with all the best items you can get, even the ones you only get one or two of during a whole play through. It took a while. New game plus is an evil, evil mode.

    • Dave Dalrymple

      I loved finding the various tabs in that game, and hearing that little fanfare. You always got them in such creative ways, too: giving a Nu a backscratch, giving monster porn to an old man.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/mattman-begins,89632 Mattman Begins

    It was a thirst to collect all the bobbleheads in Fallout 3 that led me to that unnerving place known as…the Dunwich Building.  I won’t be in such a hurry to be a completist again after that experience.  But that bobblehead felt like a genuine trophy after all that.

    Hmm, I’m not coming up with many collectibles that best what’s already mentioned here.  Would Grand Theft Auto III‘s hidden packages be the 100 granddaddies of this modern gaming phenomenon?  That’s what kickstarted my love for hunting for these kinds of more overt Easter eggs, but I can’t say the packages themselves are among my favorite treasures in gaming; they’re pretty bland and random.  I had more fun finding and tagging new graffiti in San Andreas.

    I’ll say that the most recent collectibles I pursued that felt like more than just colored icons for your Steam achievement profile would be the diary entries and random doodads scattered around Seattle in Deadlight.  No idea at first why pages from the protagonist’s diary would be found in a shopping cart next to an abandoned refrigerator in an alley you were running through for the first time…but the content of the pages themselves eventually made that question to be the point of the exercise, for me.  I’ll avoid spoilers and won’t say whether or not the game answered that question to my satisfaction–if you like platformers, just go play it–but I like that the pages initially suggested a different perspective on what was happening in the game.  And from a much more personal and involving standpoint than the endless, nearly pointless tomes of Morrowind/Oblivion/Skyrim.

    And as for those “random doodads”:  what’s not to love about seeing what Tiger Electronics/Nintendo’s Game & Watch™ would have made out of the concepts behind Guitar Hero, Dance Dance Revolution, and Eternal Darkness?  Ah, 1986.  We hardly knew ye.

    • NakedSnake

      It was certainly my impression, too, that GTA III kicked off the whole thing with their hidden packages. What I think differentiated them from their successors was that you were not really expected to collect them all. If you got, say, 40 packages, you got enough unlockables to get you through the game. Although, come to think of it, did GTA III have the 100% menu?

      • CrabNaga

        There was simply a “Game Progress” stat in your stats menu. Getting 100% didn’t get you anything but self-satisfaction, and it was entirely possible to lock yourself out of 100% by doing certain missions before other missions.

        I still go for 100% when I play GTA3, even though I get nothing out of it.

    • CrabNaga

      I was thinking of the hidden packages in San Andreas, myself. They all had their little flavors to add.

      Los Santos had 100 tags to spray (defacing other rivals’ tags), which fit with the gang motif they were going for in that part of the game.

      San Fierro had 50 snapshots. You’d need to get a camera, and looking through the lens you’d be able to see little snapshot icons by historical buildings and landmarks, so you’re running around the city like a tourist.

      Las Venturas had 50 horseshoes to collect, which were probably the least inspired of the lot. Gave you a chance to use the jetpack more, though.

      And then there were the oysters. Apparently the oysters were infused with the souls of innocent children with how much crap you’d have to go through to get them. There were 50 of them spread out across the entire map, and you’d have to swim somewhere to get them. They were generally positioned under bridges, too, so getting to them using a sea helicopter meant you’d have to be that much more careful, so you don’t end up blowing up from having your rotors get stuck on a support beam.

    • Dave Dalrymple

       Collectibles have been around forever. What were the treasures of Pitfall or the fruit of Pac-man if not collectibles?

      Later platformers like Yoshi’s Island took it to another level by tracking all the doodads you were picking up, and rewarding you for finding everything. This became a standard practice for 3D platformers, with some games like Donkey Kong 64 going really crazy.

      • GaryX

        I have probably mentioned this before but

        FUCK DONKEY KONG 64. FUCK. THAT. GAME.

        Ugh. Young Gary X once decided that it would be the next game he 100% (after Mario64 & the Zeldas) because he had a game guide. Except somehow, he got EVERYTHING but a pack of 5 bananas on that fucking mushroom level as fucking Chunky Kong or whatever–the fucking fat monkey–and no matter where I went, no matter how many strategy guides I cross referenced, I could never fucking find those 5 fucking bananas. Ever. I played those goddamn arcade machines twice (TWICE!), and still didn’t 100% that game. I remember to this fucking day. I would never try to 100% a game again until Red Dead Redemption.

        I remember thinking the lighting was impressive, though.

        • ThatCynicalAss

          I never could 100% Red Dead Redemption, either. Fucking Five Finger Fillet.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

          Donkey Kong 64 was an absolutely terrible game because it was when Rare was fuckin ALL ABOUT collect-a-thons for some reason. Banjo Kazooie waas tedious enough when you had to backtrack and try to get more notes in a level to open up the next part of the game. And you had to find ALL the notes you had already picked up before it started adding them to your total. Such an awful idea. DK64 took it a step further by making certain bananas collectible by playing as the right character. Ugh. Who the fuck thought that would be fun? I fucking hate that game.

          Banjo Tooie is awesome though.

  • Cheese

    I’ve never been much of a game completionist, but I suppose I’m fairly proud of getting all 120 stars in Mario 64.

    Also, I would be proud of getting all medals in Star Fox 64 Expert Mode, but my brother deleted my saved game twice, and then had the gall to complain that I hadn’t unlocked any of the cool multiplayer stuff.

    • GaryX

      Literally the day after I caught all 151 Pokemon in Blue Version, my brother decided he wanted to copy the achievement and started a new game on it without telling me. When I picked up my game, I had a panic attack as I looked at the stat screen after hitting “Continue.”

      • Cheese

        Oh, I completely forgot about catching ‘em all. I did that on Red during a middle school trip. Also quite proud of that one.

  • asdfmnbv

    I collected candles in morrowind so that I could make giant glowing smiley faces in the air (you could stack items, and then pick up the lower items in the pile to make things float). This probably didn’t help keep the xbox version of morrowind from crashing constantly.

  • TheBryanJZX90

    I often get OCD over collecting things in games, which annoys me at the time wasted more than any pleasure I get out of completing a set. I think the only collectibles I enjoyed accumulating (if you can call them collectibles) would be the weapons and armor of Dark Souls. I appreciate that after you’ve spent hours trying to get that rare sword, it’s more than just a shinier version of the last sword you were using with a couple +1s on the stat screen. 

  • WaxTom

    The first thing that came to mind to me was the Deluxe Picto Box and the subsequent Nintendo Gallery from The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. Besides the fact that it’s just fun taking photos of everything, it presents a real challenge in subsequent replays to try to get every possible model you can. It’s a neat little sidequest and, although it doesn’t really amount to anything, there is a serious sense of accomplishment when you do finally get them all. (Bonus points if you do it on the first playthrough. It’s possible, just really hard!)

    Also, just because Matt’s entry put Simpsons on my brain, unlocking that Itchy and Scratchy cartoon in Hit & Run was really cool. I don’t even remember what it was, but I thought it was a cute reward.

    • zebbart

      I loved tracking down all those photos until I realized it was possible to miss the opportunity to get some. Playing through again just to get the few missing ones seemed like way too much effort and I just resented all the time I put into getting the rest.

      • GaryX

        I did like playing through again, though, with plain clothes Link for the translated Hyrulean dialogue, though.

    • First baseman who

      I remember it had I&S racing against each other and Itchy injected Scratchy with steroids so that he buffed up so hard he exploded.

      I loved Hit & Run. It was easy but fun and quite funny on a season 9 level.

    • TheInternetSaid

      I registered just because of the hours I spent not only taking those damn photos, but playing the song of passing twice to get the figure and hand the sculptor the next photo.  Christ.

      • WaxTom

         Oh god that fucking song.

  • Marquis Moon

    Tags, snapshots, horseshoes, and oysters. Most of it I did on a bicycle, which was actually far easier than driving. (Until I got the jetpack, at least.) I’ve actually done it twice, because there’s something wrong with me. Total fun.

    I did manage to kill all the pigeons in GTAIV, but it felt like nothing but a chore. Why the difference? I really don’t know.

  • Cloks

    The only in-game collectibles I’ve bothered to get a complete set of were the figurines in The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap. The game set a store up like (presumably, I’m rambling off the cuff here) something that must exist in real life in Japan, a vending machine that dispenses toys (gachapon, I believe) randomly. The catch here was that you could pay more seashells to rig the odds in your favor and get the figurines that you hadn’t already pried from the machine. Eventually I realized that you could scam the game into giving you a wealth of seashells just a few screens from where you’d buy the figurines and I did this often enough to assemble a complete virtual set. The reward in-game was a medal shaped exactly like the shop-owner that became a permanent part of your inventory (replacing the seashell spot) so you could be reminded of how much time you’d wasted every time you needed to switch items. I suppose this was intended to be a reward – Carlov’s face was made out of pixelated gold and everything – but I took it as a not-so-subtle dig at the player, as some programmer at Capcom realized that they’d been able to steal so many hours of human progress by adding a small feature to con the obsessive into slaving after a virtual reward.

    This spurred me into collecting only rewards in games that offer external proof of the hardship I’ve endured so I’ll direct the curious to gaze upon my 1,500+ achievements and weep.

    • Dave Dalrymple

       I got really addicted to collecting trophies in Smash Bros. Melee, and they use a similar mechanic. The more trophies you buy, the less likely it is that you will get a new trophy from the vending machine. But the more coins you pay, the better your odds become.

    • TheASDF

      On the topic of Zelda figurines, I’ve always loved getting that Deluxe Picto Box and taking pictures of everything for figurines in Wind Waker.

  • caspiancomic

    I find that collecting trinkets isn’t usually incentivized in any meaningful way, and they’re often used as a gameplay padding device for insane completionists (the Riddler trophies in Arkham City are a perfect example I think- those things are everywhere, to the point that it’s actually pretty distracting, and unless I’m remembering wrong you’re never really given a reason to want to collect them, besides the fact that they’re there.)

    So after much deliberation I’ve decided my favourite collectible is the Mithril from Shining Force II. This stuff is great because for the first 9/10ths of the game it’s just a standard ‘collect-the-hidden-things’ side quest, except even more of a hindrance than usual because of the game’s limiting inventory system. But then with something like five maps left until the end of the game, you can gain access to an optional hidden town where the blacksmith can fashion your horde of Mithril into the game’s strongest weapons for your crew. It has the sort of obsessive thing-hunting thrill that comes with most standard game item collectibles, but with the added bonus of serving an actual function after two dozen hours spent compulsively collecting them. It’s like a sidequest Chekhov’s Gun.

    • neodocT

       I really liked the Riddler trophies in Arkham City because they weren’t there simply to be collected. They were puzzles to be solved, and that made all the difference to me. I’m pretty sure they unlocked… something when you collected enough of them, but I was there for the surprisingly difficult puzzles!

      • His_Space_Holiness

        The Riddler trophies unlocked the Riddler maps, where you needed to free his hostages. I actually hated the last one, because it was so out of character. All he was doing was putting people on a stupid death-march, without any riddle or puzzle involved.

        In Arkham Asylum, on the other hand, getting all of the trophies lets you hear the Riddler panic and get arrested on the other end of the radio after Bats traces his location. Hilarity ensues.

        • http://about.me/jargon Jargon

          If I remember correctly, the idea was that Riddler was caught off-guard by Batman’s completion of his previous puzzle and was basically trying to throw something together last minute without much rhyme or reason.

    • GaryX

      I’m a big fan of collectibles that have no real purpose to exist other than just to grab even though I’m not really a die hard completionist myself. I think it’s just a nice way to add a little something extra to do for the people who are going to explore every nook and cranny of the world anyways.

      • neodocT

        I’m your opposite in this. If the collectibles serve no tangible purpose, I’ll just ignore them (*cough*Tomb Rader*cough*). But if they give you even the least advantage, secret or easter egg, I’m all over them.

    • djsubversive

      also: the hidden Dwarven Village had some awesome music.

  • NakedSnake

    I will admit to gathering all the collectibles from Rockstar’s brilliant boarding school simulator, Bully. What’s more, it was fun. What Bully really succeeded in was recreating the impulse to explore the opening world that you discover as an adolescent with your first taste of freedom. I remember when I was the same age as Jimmy Hopkins, I would spend a lot of time exploring the city, particularly getting into places I shouldn’t. Breaking into drainage systems under bridges, exploring the darkened tunnels of the subway, climbing up countless fire escapes to get to the roofs of buildings all across town. The basic layout and design of the game effectively encouraged you to do all these things again… and if you find something new, it would reward you with some meaningless bauble. But it was great. Gameification works best when it actually reinforces the impulses and tendencies a player already might have.

    • djsubversive

      Bully is one of my favorite Rockstar games. The town was just big enough to explore, but not too big to make it a chore. The characters and missions were fun (mostly), and I liked the way they implemented having to split your time between classes, missions, and just screwing around in town. Plus, you can throw a bag of marbles on the floor near the door, pull the fire alarm, and get all the boys in the dorm to start fighting.

      • NakedSnake

        That’s a good point about the size of the town – it wasn’t so big that it seemed endless. But there was still plenty to explore. And the time/schedule system worked perfectly. Having to go to classes (which were admittedly pretty fun minigames in their own right) made me appreciate the periods of freedom that much more. And then knowing you had to be back in bed by 10:00 or whatever made all the time you spent exploring seem more valuable. They force you to call it quits before you start getting bored.

    • TimeTravelParadox

      I did too. I love the reward for collecting all the rubber bands. 

  • Effigy_Power

    The Fable games were the first in which I was going for 100% completion and finding the Gnomes, Gargoyles and Silver Keys was a huge aspect of that. Having all the Demon Doors opened, sometimes by putting a red wig on and acting like a chicken while holding stinky cheese… priceless memories.

    • Rick Joyce

      I downloaded F3 recently when it was free for XB Gold members and I’ve gotten quite a kick out of it. The gnomes and the books are the only collectibles I’ve…uh…collected completely, but I still got a kick out of the gnomes’ insults, even if they got repetitive after a while. (The book excerpts are pretty funny too.)

      • Effigy_Power

        It’s all worth it just to hear the gnomes’ little songs at the start and end of the quest.

        • Rick Joyce

          My favorite book excerpt is part of the Famous Serial Killers (?) series, about a man who was neither famous nor a serial killer, but the author wrote this book about him anyway, in the hopes that the subject would never have a girlfriend or a job or friends, since he sat in the author’s chair once.

  • rvb1023

    Finding all the Al Bhed Primers in FFX. I thought it was really cool “Learning” a new language as you played the game and slowly figuring out what other people were saying. Never mind that it is less of a language and more of a code, since the just switched letters around.

    Also, if you had a certain amount unlocked by the time you hit the airship battle with Evrae, Rin would give you 60 or so Sunbursts, which when mixed together by Rikku did an overdrive that always did 23,336 damage, making that Evrae fight a lot easier.

    • mizerock

      Surely with that avatar you’ve collected a lot of items in LittleBigPlanet? Outfits, accessories, stickers (including ones that would trigger switches when you placed them elsewhere)? I must get them all! Need to play online with 3 strangers to get into a 4-player area? OK!

      Then I realized I had the region 2 copy, so when I bought the Game of the Year edition, I had to start all over. And after getting LBP2, the game wanted to sync between the two versions, and I swear outfits disappeared after that, somehow. That broke my obsession, I’m not going to collect everything 3 times.

      • rvb1023

         Surprisingly enough, I haven’t collected every little bauble trinket in the game, mostly because I don’t really enjoy playing online with strangers, so most of the 4 person stuff was always locked to me.

        The sticker stuff was great though, a clever way of turning a collectible into a key for loot.

        • mizerock

          I found the online community on LBP to be less obnoxious than most multiplayer games. Few people use headsets on the PS3, so even if they are 13 and yelling obnoxious things, you don’t hear it. Also, it’s (in theory) a cooperative game, so there’s not much griefing, in fact they instinctively went to the 4P areas to help get bubbles there. They were probably after the exact same thing. However, this was back when the game had just come out, who knows if the people who still play today are still (relatively) friendly. Probably they are super-experts who whip through the level without bothering to wait for you as you’re trying to reach the one area that you need to fill in.

  • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

    The sexcards from the first Witcher.  So silly, so dumb and yet… so collectible.

    • rvb1023

       I remember I would go out of my way and to try and collect those as well for really no reason other than the sheer silliness of it. The game didn’t have sex scenes and the processes of seduction were so juvenile it was funny rather than sexy, but something about trying to adapt that aspect of the books (Geralt is a ladies man) to the game was oddly endearing.

  • Professor_Cuntburglar

    I’ve never been a fan of collectibles, because they usually feel like OCD busywork that takes up time I could be spending doing actual fun stuff. I will admit that I made a point of finding and customizing every car in Saints Row 2 though.

    Also Simpson’s Hit and Run had a bunch of references to the show that you could trigger hidden throughout the world (you can push Apu’s “silent alarm,” for example).

  • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

    I am not much of a collector (any time a game is all “Try to find all 100 of these doodads!” I’m all “Not a chance, bro. That sounds like an un-fun waste of my time.” This is probably one reason I never got into Pokemon…), but sweet lord I am such a hoarder.

    In most RPGs my biggest enemy isn’t the final boss, or the secret super-boss, but the arbitrary inventory limit. I’ll typically beat an RPG with an inventory full of every tier of healing item that I’ve scrupulously picked up, then never used because I “might need it later.” But that habit becomes so ingrained that, even when I’m in the final battle, I never bother to use them and complete the game with my, say, five megalixirs intact in my inventory still. If an RPG will let me do so, I’ll never sell an old suit of armor or weapon, on the off chance there might be some point where it behooves me to switch back to armor x or weapon y.

    • caspiancomic

       Ha! I’ve had this problem myself in the past, although in my dotage I’ve gotten a little more cavalier with item usage. High level healing items were a weakness for me, and I too had piles of elixers and megalixers cluttering up my inventory by game’s end. As a kiddie I would let them rot in my inventory, but now I’m much more likely to, upon reaching the final boss, use an elixir to heal my every petty cut or scrape, just to be a punk. I’m also notorious about hoarding old equipment, especially in games with an item crafting component. What if this level 1 dagger is an ingredient necessary to forge the game’s Ultimate Weapon!?

      I remember Final Fantasy IX has a dungeon that actually caters to this neurosis, though. In Ipsen’s Castle, weapons do more damage the closer their attack stat is to zero- in other words, the strongest weapons to use are your characters’ initial equipment. (I think you can actually find shitty equipment in treasure chests within for those who were sensible enough to dispose of their old garbage, so it doesn’t totally reward those of us who cling to our every trinket, but the thought is there. FFX’s weapon system also encouraged this sort of behaviour, since weapons were more about non-comparable subjective benefits (elemental bonuses, innate buffs, etc) rather than pure stat disparities, and weapons could be re-equiped in the heat of battle depending on your needs, so the system implicitly encouraged you to keep every character’s every weapon, just in case.

    • Jackbert

      I seem to be physically unable to use healing items. I’ll trivially use healing spells until I run out of MP. I’ll inconsequentially use my healing staff until it breaks. But I’ll have around 40 healing items of varying strengths and never use a single one.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        I’m totally the same. I know that I can always replenish my MP at the next inn, while any crummy potion I use will be gone forever!

    • Raging Bear

      I used first aid in Metro: Last Light only yesterday. It might have been the first time in any game in years.

    • NakedSnake

      I totally have the same problem in RPGs. What’s more, I am constantly aware I have this problem, but I can’t change my behavior. What I find really bizarre, though, is that I have no such impulse in my regular life. If someone brings around some rare and precious wine or beef jerky or whatever, I will simply consume it until it is all gone, and then never think about again. Why don’t I save that stuff until I “really need it”? Video games are weird.

    • aklab

      I blame the Magnetic Cave in Final Fantasy IV. All your fancy metal armor and weaponry became useless! All my old wood and leather sitting around in my inventory became a lifesaver! So you never know…

  • HighlyFunctioningTimTebow

    Anything and everything from The Binding Of Issac. Watching that crybaby Issac endure every plague, mutation, curse and STI known to man, god and devil proves that old Aesop: Laugh, and the whole world laughs with you – cry, and the whole world laughs AT you.

  • SamPlays

    I have to second Zack on the interview tapes from Arkham Asylum. I am generally loathe to collect things in video games – having a 52% completion rate doesn’t faze me at all. But Arkham was such a fascinating playground that my interest in its history and inmates was sufficient motivation for wanting to search out the tapes. I spent time listening intently to each session, learning about the philosophy of the asylum’s founder and the psychological profile of the various inmates. 

    There was an eeriness and morbid fascination about the whole thing that reminded me of Session 9, which is one of the best “haunted house” movies ever set in a psychiatric hospital. For those who haven’t seen the film (no spoilers), it follows a clean-up crew removing asbestos from an abandoned, dilapidated asylum with a sketchy history. One of the team gets sidetracked when he finds a series of recordings of an interview with a now-deceased (?) patient, Mary, which leads up to the titular “Session 9″. It’s a horror film on a technical level but it’s more interested in psychological trauma than gore and jump scares. 

    Which brings me back to Arkham Asylum, which is technically a horror game on many levels (minus the brawling) but it’s more focused on Batman’s psyche than zombie dogs smashing through windows. In terms of Arkham City, I really enjoyed the game but I missed the confines of Asylum. It was a sensible way to progress the series but it had more of an Escape From New York action-hero vibe. While I missed the atmosphere of Asylum, I found myself caught up with collectibles, again, which were far more puzzle-based but still fun. I’m realizing the Arkham games do something right when it comes to collectibles, at least for my taste:)

    • Jackbert

      Have you ever read the comic book Arkham: A Serious House on Serious Earth? It heavily influenced Arkham Asylum. It is great on its own merits, but I bet you’d really enjoy it if you liked Arkham Asylum that much.

      • mizerock

        Seconded. That is a genuinely creepy book and I must read for Batman fans who aren’t horrified at the idea of reading a comic book.

        • SamPlays

          Which is an odd comment to make considering Batman is a comic book character! I never considered that there might be a generation of Batman fans who only know the character via TV, film and video games. But that seems entirely probable (and unfortunate).

        • mizerock

          Yeah, I realized how odd that statement was as I was typing it, but there are indeed people like that out there, I reckon.

          Now that we have Comixology, it’s so much easier to read the classics, “on the sly”. I wouldn’t be ashamed of walking into a comic book store, per se, but it’s not part of my regular routine either. But the best way is just to read it over at your friends’ house, the biggest collector I know was always eager to get more people hooked by sharing the product.

          Though that book doesn’t seem to be available on Comixology, I guess because it’s a one-shot book and not a collected series (?).

        • Jackbert

          My friend considers himself a huge Batman fan. He’s 100%’ed both the Arkham games and watched each Christopher Nolan movie at least ten times. He has also never read a Batman comic. I am trying to change that.

          As for reading on the sly, I was reading Serious House on the bus a couple weeks ago. A woman sat next to me and started talking to me about Christianity and being reborn. She wasn’t being obnoxious, so I listened…with the book still open in my lap. After a couple minutes, she glanced down, noticing the book. It was open to the page where Batman stabs through his hand. Mid-sentence, she trails off, stands up, and sits next to somebody else. 

        • SamPlays

          I think the Arkham Asylum graphic novel was a one-shot. If your friend (or Comixology) have the first four issues of Shadow of the Bat (a regular Batman series from the late-90s), I would suggest reading those, too. The basic story was about Batman being incarcerated (intentionally) at Arkham to investigate murders committed by Zsasz (the mystery being he was also incarcerated at the time). I think it was the first appearance of Zsasz.

      • SamPlays

        I’m a fan of Batman and Grant Morrison, so rest assured that I have a dandy copy on my bookshelf. Personally, I was more impressed with Dave McKean’s artwork. I agree that Morrison’s narrative is clearly the primary reference for the Asylum game but there’s a level of abstraction that kinda-sorta makes me drowsy in a dry academic way. 

        Speaking of academics, Grant Morrison has a really engaging interview where he discusses a legit homosexual reading of Batman. I liked his interpretation of the Joker’s flamboyance as representing the conflict between being closeted and embracing the gay scene.

        For my taste, I’ve always preferred Frank Miller’s approach to subverting tradition, history and general expectations (his idea for pitting Batman against Bin Laden was questionable but he came to his senses). I also really enjoy the various series created by Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale (particular Long Halloween). It’s obvious the influence those books had on the recent films.

      • His_Space_Holiness

        There’s also Dan Slott’s Arkham Asylum: Hell on Earth, which introduces some fun new villains and leaves Bats mostly out of the mayhem. It’s a rollicking, twisted good time.

      • Thats_Unpossible

        My favorite part of “Supergods” is Grant Morrison talking about how surprised he was that people thought A Serious House on Serious Earth was pretentious before admitting that it’s his least favorite of his work and kinda pretentious.

  • Jackbert

    I am not a huge collector of things in games. I got all the XP books in Deus Ex: Human Revolution so I could get the Platinum trophy. I also got all the Dead Drops in the Infamous games because I found them interesting. Finally, I made an attempt at 100%’ing The World Ends With You, which was abandoned around halfway through when I realized the insane scope of the undertaking. Other than that, no notable examples.

    However, when I saw the title of this article (“Hoarders”), I first thought the Q and A would be about weird shit the staff had collected in games that wasn’t actually supposed to be collected, a la troll skull guy in Skyrim. I have plenty of examples of that!

    Selected Feats Accomplished in Deus Ex: Human Revolution with Cardboard Boxes

    •Made various cardboard box forts in locations such as my penthouse in Detroit, a Detroit police station, and a Montreal news station

    •Knocked out all the prostitutes near my penthouse, piled them up, and made a ring of cardboard boxes around them, with the purpose of discouraging prostitution 

    •Knocked out all the homeless people near my penthouse, piled them up, and made a ring of cardboard boxes around them, with the purpose of raising awareness of homelessness

    •Put a cardboard box on top of every car in Detroit

    •Brought all the cardboard boxes in Detroit to a basketball court for BoxCon 2027

    •Brought all the cardboard boxes in Hengsha to a nightclub for BoxCon East 2027

    Why, you ask? Why would I waste hours of my time stacking virtual boxes? Because they were there!

    • SamPlays

      The pile of bodies surrounded by cardboard boxes reminds me of the various tableaus from Hannibal, which had a great first season this year. It deftly combines my love of the procedural genre and In Treatment.

    • duwease

      You’re going to love my gritty FPS Sokoban reboot..

  • Jackbert

    Another casualty of a poor commenting system, a post destroyed yet not forgotten, forever here to remind us that Disqus sucks.

  • Ack_Ack

    In Psychonauts, wasn’t one of Milla Vodello’s locked away memories all of the dead children who died in a fire, and were asking you to help them?  Because that was creepy as shit.

    • STOP_RIGHT_THERE_CRIMINAL_SCUM

      oh yeah, for sure 

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      There’s actually an entire room where Milla has locked that nightmare away.

    • duwease

      That’s one of my favorite hidden areas in gaming.. it’s just such a jarring experience to go from the happy-bubbly disco party theme of the level and stumble into that.

    • Mistah Chrysoprase

      More blaming you for their deaths as I recall, which is even sadder and more disturbing, if anything; puts a whole new spin on the character afterward.

  • Captain Internet

    I’m going to go with the collection of hats and miscellanous items that I’ve accumulated in Team Fortress 2. I’m particularly fond of the Murdoch-Busting 1950s biker cyborg look I’ve put together for the Heavy Weapon’s guy, with other highlights being a sword-weilding Demoman wearing a Wizard hat with Kanye West shutter shades that are just the thing for Sunday evening trolling, and a Medic with a selection of Elton John-themed medi-guns topped off with a rare Vintage Vintage Tyrolean. 

    I’ve bought some dye and the odd name tag, but most of it I’ve either found or traded for, which makes it all the more personal. It’s rather odd to be emotionally attached to quasi-fictional headgear, but I really do treasure some of this crap. 

  • DrFlimFlam

    I collected and did everything in The Saboteur. When I was done, the map was completely clean. Every weapon, vehicle (tanks included), post card, all of that.  Though it’s not like you get a cool place to see it all. You just pick an awesome car and go driving.

    I even jumped off of the Eiffel Tower and survived. Which was annoying to fail at.

    • djsubversive

      The “cool place” is all of Paris, finally full of color and life after you punched a bunch of Nazis in the back of the head, stole their clothes, and blew up all their stuff.

      The Saboteur was great.

      • DrFlimFlam

        The stark difference is amazing.

        I used to drive over to the German city (Saabrucken?) and just wreak havoc when the rest of the game was done.

        Now I can’t decide if I want to roll out with the game all over again, or if I want to be the super-powerful Sean Devlin that has single-handedly routed the Nazi occupiers.

      • Mistah Chrysoprase

        Expressionist cinematography and Nazi-punching; the hell else do ya want???

  • Destroy Him My Robots

    At the risk of sounding like an evangelist (and, ew, someone who enjoys learning), Animal Crossing wins this simply by virtue of teaching you actual knowledge along the way. Large-tooth flounders have their eyes on the left side of their head, while righteye flounders have them on the right side. The Blue Boy should have only hand on his hip. And so on. And then you can put all your collectibles in a museum and it looks really nice and you can read some more. The Hunters in the Snow was painted by Pieter Bruegel in 1565!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000590707081 Chris Ingersoll

      There are other “trophies” you can get in Animal Crossing without learning things. I make it my business to acquire the complete Snowman furniture set every iteration, for example. Although this time around I’m not sure where I’m going to put it, since I have such a lead time before winter sets in (usually these games are released in the fall).

    • DrFlimFlam

       I’m learning lots about art the hard way in Animal Crossing.

  • stakkalee

    In my current playthrough of Fallout 3 I’ve made a point to track down as many of the unique weapons as I can.  Why carry a regular 10mm submachine gun when I can carry Sydney’s 10mm submachine gun, which has a larger magazine? Similarly, I’d rather run around with the Wazer Wifle than the normal laser rifle.  There’s something fun, almost hipsterish, about using the weapons – “Yeah, I’m killing you with the Xuanlong assault rifle.  You’ve probably never heard of it.”

    • OldeFortran77

      The best thing about Sydney’s 10mm is that you can get as many as you want from her, … and 50 rounds of ammo with each one!
      Sadly, by that time, I didn’t even need all that ammo from her because I was always squirreling away ammo “in case something really tough comes along” so I ended the game with enough arms and ammunition to level all of D.C. that hadn’t already been leveled.

      • Mercenary_Security_number_4

        killed all 5 Super mutant behemoths?  Its a fun little side-quest if you’ve got the weapons for it.  Just don’t bring along Fawkes (he makes it too easy).

    • STOP_RIGHT_THERE_CRIMINAL_SCUM

      yeah, the unique weapons in Fallout 3 and New Vegas are the shit, LOVE those things

      • djsubversive

        I liked that the New Vegas uniques actually got unique models. A Light Shining in Darkness (from Honest Hearts; that particular picture is from a weapon-retexture mod) and Lucky (no pictures, unfortunately) are particularly awesome-looking.

        I tend to collect silly things like teddy bears and rakes. I had an idea to get a bunch of rakes and arrange them in a semi-circle to recreate that Sideshow Bob moment, but rakes are rare as hell in New Vegas (and there aren’t that many in 3 either).

        Also, I do things like try to bury Boxcars in junk.

        • STOP_RIGHT_THERE_CRIMINAL_SCUM

          one thing that was cool was how those weapons could be found just lying around, encouraging you to explore 

          and that was one thing I felt was lacking in Skyrim, sure there was unique loot, but they could only be obtained through quests, I missed being able to also find cool unique shit simply through exploration 

  • ItsTheShadsy

    I’m not sure this counts, but in Super Mario RPG, there are 39 hidden treasure chests. They are almost impossible to find without a strategy guide, so it leads you to jump around people’s houses a lot. Some of the chests give you fairly standard items, but others have insane things like the Goodie Bag, which essentially gives you infinite coins.

    The reason I’m calling these “collectibles” is because there’s one NPC in the game who tauntingly tells you how many you haven’t found yet. It’s absolutely infuriating.

    • PugsMalone

      And one of them is in Peach’s castle, and you can’t get it without jumping off of a Toad’s head who’s only there for one scene. And the reward is one Frog Coin.

  • neodocT

    I’m usually not much of a collector, but I spent hours tracking down white-tailed lizards in Shadow of the Colossus. They gave you a marginal increase in stamina, but those really added up over the time. I went after the fruits that increased your health, too, but not as intensely. Lizards is where it was at. 

  • OldeFortran77

    Sadly, I’m one of those people you call an “achievement whore”. We have a 12 step program, but that’s only so we can collect all 12 steps. Anyway, I have a 92% completion rate in my games. I’ve collected a heck of a lot flags, bobbleheads, health boosters, etc. It was far more annoying than rewarding. I particularly remember Too Human‘s red armor set. Had to go online and beg until some kindly soul in Rotterdam loaned me his for 1 minute.
    Samantha Nelson’s contrast between someone finding a quarter on the street and someone sweeping a beach with a metal detector was particularly poignant.

    • mizerock

      I think my category is “trophy whore”. I used to mine new games for all the easy trophies, then move on the another one. It’s easy to spot once you see how many of my total trophies are bronze. It took a long time before I found a game addictive enough that I wanted to mine it for all the trophies, though that might literally be impossible with Rock Band 3. I needed to buy $600 in “instruments” just to take a shot at some of them, and at this point it’s pretty clear that I will literally never acquire the skills necessary to acheive the remaining goals. Not if it became a full-time job and my life depended on it.

      Total platinum trophies I’ve earned in my life: 0.

      • OldeFortran77

        We should sponsor each other! I can easily see myself standing up at our meetings and saying “hi, my name is Olde, and I am achievement whore”, to which everyone replies “hi, Olde”.

        I managed to keep my illness confined to the Xbox and not allow it to taint my PS3.

    • mizerock

      I manage to kick my PS3 habit by moving in with my fiancée, and now my beautiful HDTV is occupied with showing reality TV while the console sits idle. I need to set up my ManCave + add a game night or two to my regular schedule. Games were an important part of my life, and they will be again!

    • duwease

      A fellow sufferer! 

      I’m recovering somewhat.. my achievement completion rate has ‘fallen’ to about 91% from something like 97%.. the fact that I even know the percentages being a sign of the extent of my malady. 

      There were rock bottom moments, although I didn’t see them as such at the time.  Late nights, spent huddled up with faceless strangers online, having nothing in common except our mutual need for a fix.  I’d set up a lobby, and he’d go through the necessary mechanical motions, over and over, until my achievement popped.  Then I’d do him.  Once we were both finished, we’d part ways as anonymous to each other as we were beforehand.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but we hadn’t even gotten the rush of accomplishment that hooks you on achievements in the first place.

      It wasn’t until fatherhood put its necessary constraints on my life that I was forced to confront my behavior.  With my gaming time restricted to an hour here and there, accomplishing certain achievements would consume weeks of one-hour moments, which threw a harsher light on the time being thrown away.  Suddenly I saw myself reflected in the eyes of my child, and I didn’t like what I saw.. a ghoul, furtively slinking off alone to spend what precious time I had on a process whose meaning had long ago been removed.  That’s when I made a resolution that things needed to change.

      Things have been pretty good since then.  I’ve rediscovered an appreciation for the aesthetic joys of just experiencing a game exactly how I want to.  Sometimes you slip.. I mean, there was only like TEN paintings to be found in Dishonored, you know?  That’s hardly any!  But I’m proud to say that I’m now the owner of not one but TWO games that are at 10% achievement completion, and will stay that way.  It hasn’t been easy, but you take it one game at a time. 

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4

       ”We have a 12 step program, but that’s only so we can collect all 12 steps.”

      I’m going to steal this from you. and store it in my Fallout 3 megaton house next to my thousands of tin cans and every single Nuka-Cola Quantum in the game.

  • Celebith

    It’s not ‘in game’ but I had to stop my wife from tossing out the Bobblehead that came with the collector’s edition of Fallout 3 just the other day.  That and the Lunch Box definitely made that purchase worth it.

  • STOP_RIGHT_THERE_CRIMINAL_SCUM

    yeah, there’s some great examples mentioned in the article, like the Memory Vaults

    but I’m surprised that nobody mentioned the audio diaries in the Bioshock games, they’re a must to collect if you want to know what the fuck is going on, any collectible that’s absolutely essential wins if you ask me 

    • Celebith

      Oh yeah, and in the System Shock games, too.  Some of them were essential to the game, but some (I think there was something to do with the basketball court on the rec deck) were just there to make things more interesting.

  • Bryan Bierman

    My favorite is still all the little vending machine toys from Shenmue.

  • Trevor La Pay

    Crackdown 1 Orbs were irresistable to me.

    • NakedSnake

      The agility ones were great because they were usually in plain sight, but fairly hard to get to. It was a great way to boost the agility stat, b/c it also got you thinking about how to best move around the city.

  • Swadian Knight

    This doesn’t really fit the prompt perfectly since it’s not in a video game, but I feel it’s appropriate to mention that I’ve been finding graffiti tags from GTA: San Andreas on walls all over the city I live in for about a month now.

    I’ve only found three of them, so I guess it’ll take a while until I 100% this.

  • dmikester

    I’m a huge lover of collectibles in games; I’m typically not OCD in real life, but in videogames, forget it, I need to collect every last thing.  My absolute favorite group of collectibles has to be in Ocarina of Time.  They range from the extremely useful (the bottles) to the completely pointless (Gold Skulltulas), and it’s all glorious.  Challenging, fun, and diverse.  That’s all I ask for in a collectible list.

    • http://warren-peace.blogspot.com/ WarrenPeace

      Biggoron Sword!

  • Citric

    I’ve got two:

    The treasures in Wario Land, because they actually serve a purpose, though you don’t realize that until late in the game. Each one you collect is worth a set value, and in the ending the more money you get, the better your dream house is. I would play the game by doing a run with no treasure – to get the birdhouse – and then gradually collect more, so I could see all of the endings.

    The action figures in Brave Fencer Musashi, because the presentation is great and one lets you play the “Dance! OR DIE!” voice clip whenever you want.

    • neodocT

      Man, I love the Wario Land games, particularly 2 and 3. I seriously believe they are the best puzzle platformers of all time, and, as much as I like Wario Ware, I’m saddened that this franchise seems to be dead right now. 

      • Citric

        My favorite thing about Wario Land 2 is there’s an entire level path opened up if you just let him sleep through the first level.

        • neodocT

          I love the idea of being immortal in the game, that whatever happens to you just changes your shape so you can solve some puzzles. That and the sheer amount of secret treasures, exits and items you could find. You know, those games were shockingly advanced for the original Gameboy!

          I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of Wario Land 4, though. Introducing hit points and the whole “race to the exit” thing mostly sucked.

  • PaganPoet

    Oh, I have to also say, getting a 100% in your Persona Compendium in Persona 3 or Persona 4 is a really satisfying feeling! I have yet to do it in Persona 3, to be honest, but I did have a perfect Social Link run in P4 Golden and the Persona Compendium is quite beautiful to look at. 

  • Jademus Sreg

    I often get bored amassing collections of precious junk, with one exception: Final Fantasy Tactics items.

    One might ask “Why would you collect those items, when most of them are ridiculously outclassed by late-game items?” To answer, I must first provide some perspective.

    It’s a game that I’ve played frequently over the past 15 years, obsessively as a child, with a binge every year or so since those teenage years. Individual save games overflowed the display, long since frozen at 999:99:99, to say nothing of the total. The story, the suggested breadth and depth of the narrative intricacy behind the curtain of the cutscenes, as stimulating to me now as ever, surpassing the entire franchise in the maturity with which it handled the subject matter and the gravity of its consequences. The memory long, long ago gutted and charted and mapped, formulas memorized, builds optimized, Game Shark (and later emulators) hex codes applied to experience all the content unfinished and locked away, and to make the gameplay less forgiving, brutal in its advantages.

    I collected items initially to ensure strategic versatility, to remain adaptable to new challenges. But even after mastering the gameplay, I discovered a more interesting purpose; the debug menu contained a battleground selection feature, enabling players the option to fight against one another on the crotchety pale-plastic PlayStation. My stockpile of items became gladiatorial armaments, the principle balance needed to get friends and family to play against (invariably defeated by) me. Everyone wants female knights wielding Chaos Blades and resurrection perfume? Sure. Low tech bronze sword slap fight? Done. Pokemon-esque battles between singular chemists and their monster minions? Awesome.

    No one is going to fight 3 Monks (max brave, mid faith, basic skill, blade grasp, two swords, equipment spec for bonus attack power) and 2 Summoners (max brave, mid faith, math skill and spellcaster masteries, blade grasp, two swords, equipment spec for bonus magic power), unless they have access to the same materials. A collection that started with utility became vanity, only to gain utility again. Or it had for the time people were willing to play against me. Sad face.

  • http://gameological.com/author/jasonreich/ Jason Reich

    Unless a game gives me a good reason, I tend to ignore all the collectible stuff, but I did laugh out loud the first time I discovered a crate of sex dolls in Saints Row: The Third. It was just such a dumb, non-sequitur thing to collect that somehow seemed entirely appropriate to the game.

    • http://www.facebook.com/justin.finkbeiner.7 Justin Finkbeiner

       I really appreciated how SR3 had it so you could see where all those collectibles were on the minimap when you got to a certain experience level.

  • djsubversive

    Far Cry 2 had the Jackal Tapes, recordings of the Jackal (the arms dealer you were sent to kill) being interviewed by Reuben Oluwagembi (Reuben’s blog is a neat little bit of FC2 media, that’s only vaguely related to the actual game, and you can listen to all the Jackal Tape audio files there). FC2 is bleak, and the tapes help reinforce the atmosphere of the UAC being a war-torn hellhole. 

    Somewhat related: Dylan’s Far Cry 2 Realism Mod has made the game much more playable for me. Combat is deadlier, checkpoints don’t respawn as soon as you’re out of sight, and the always-faster-than-you jeeps have a less-than-100% chance to chase you. If those things annoyed you (four headshots to drop a guy? really?), give the realism mod a shot. The player is also much more fragile, so having a ready-rescue buddy is even more useful than it was before (it’s still basically a well-designed “continue” button).

    Far Cry 2 is a pretty great game. I know many people disagree with that, but that’s what Far Cry 3 is for. I did not enjoy FC3 at all – I think Ubisoft went too far in “fixing” the “problems” with FC2 (there were some, but having the map be an actual in-game item and the lack of useless vendor-trash were not problems). But my video-game-masochism should be well-known by now. :)

  • Halloween_Jack

    Mass Effect is fairly light on this; most of the “collectibles” are gear or tropical fish for the big tank in Shepard’s cabin (in ME2 and ME3)–one of the latter, if you buy it in ME2 and keep it alive (you regularly have to feed the fish) through the rest of that game and for a complete playthrough of ME3, will give you a buff in subsequent ME3 playthroughs. You can also get little models of different ships in the game for the cabin, and ME3 distributes them in different little nooks and crannies in the ship to encourage you to explore it and see the changes from the previous game. But there are two things that really stand out.

    One of them is the “space hamster“, a little guy that you can buy in the Citadel gift shop in ME2 (and can retrieve in ME3 if you imported your ME2 game), and is a call-out to Baldur’s Gate, another BioWare game. Also, in the Leviathan DLC, you can pick up the head of a Husk (one of the game’s space zombies) that’s mounted on a small platform; if you click on it, it howls. It will also scream at the space hamster if they’re both in Shepard’s cabin. (If you click on the head too many times in a row, it explodes.)

    • Roswulf

       Boo is not collectible. Boo is great warrior with sense to GO FOR THE EYES!

    • Captain_Apathy

      Keeping the fish alive is one thing I was never able to accomplish, or at least not until ME3 when you can buy a mechanical device that will feed the fish for you.  I was actually stressing out about those stupid fish in ME2.  In the middle of a tense firefight, all I could think about was “did I feed my fish the last time I was on the Normandy?”  I would rush back to my cabin each time I was on the ship, but somehow I never made it in time.  Eventually I gave up on fish and just kept my hamster, which strangely enough, never needed food of any kind….

      • ProfFarnsworth

        If you spoke with Kelly, you assistant on the Normandy enough, and invited her up to your cabin for dinner, she would offer to feed your fish for you.  I ALWAYS killed my fish (read selakant) until I discovered this trick. 

        • Halloween_Jack

          Yeah, the trick is to hit the sweet spot between getting the fish (the Prejek Paddle Fish, from one of the kiosks on Illium) and getting Kelly to feed them–sometimes you only have to go up to the cabin and hit the stupid button a couple of times. Then get the aquarium VI on the Citadel ASAP in ME3.

        • Captain_Apathy

          Yeah, I knew of that trick, but I’ve never been able to talk to Kelly enough to weasel her into the chore, even though I did try at one point.  Oh well.  All those poor dead fish….

  • BJ

    Back with MGS2 on the PS2, I actually went through and collected all dog tags in the game, as in, all dog tags on every single difficulty level and somehow had a blast the whole time.  Holding up guards was one of the best things about MGS2, and so it was just fun to grab every single one possible.  

    The stealth and ammo bonuses along the way didn’t hurt either and using the stealth bandanna just led to more hilarious encounters.

    In subsequent MGS3, I sadly never shot all the frogs, and in other MGS games I never went quite as far as MGS2, but I love all the stuff to do in each of those games regardless.

  • Yuri Petrovitch

    Probably all those stupid mushrooms you always gathered in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and were never gonna use because, well, they’re fucking mushrooms

  • PhonyPope

    Papal goons?!?

  • Mercenary_Security_number_4

    Oh, Fable 3.   What a bittersweet mix of fun moments and missed opportunities.

  • Kate Cooley

    I definitely have to agree with the bobbleheads. In Fallout New Vegas, you get to collect snowglobes… which you can’t do anything with after you eliminate Mr. House and revamp the robots… and that kinda sucks. I can rejigger weapons and reload my own ammo, but I can’t set a snowglobe down on a stand without assistance? Sheesh.

  • Boonehams

    Okay, I’ll second The Great Cave Offensive.  You can just blow through that game from Kirby Super Star in no time flat, but you get NO sense of accomplishment by doing that.  After you beat it so quickly, you feel compelled to get at least some of the treasures.  When you beat it again after obtaining some treasures, the ending shows all the empty treasure slots of what you missed and the potential of what you could have gotten…. So then you go for them all and feel your sanity slipping away.  It’s maddening, I tells ‘ya.

  • http://www.facebook.com/justin.finkbeiner.7 Justin Finkbeiner

    I loved trying to fill in all the collectibles on the collectible card in Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii.  Some of them were a pain in the butt to collect but it helped to encourage me to explore that huge, beautiful world.

  • disqus_uISvf9mg56

    I’m surprised nobody mentioned the dog tags from Metal Gear Solid 2 (and possibly other MGS games as well). You have to sneak up on a hapless guard and stick him up, risking detection by the other guards in the room. It’s tricky to do it without screwing up at least a few times, and borderline impossible to get all of them in the game, but that’s what MGS is all about.

  • Andy Lopez

    Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

    Building every single thing in Mother Base. 100 hours later I finally built that final weapon to get everything to 100%. 

    Kill me now. 

  • Maxwell Smart

    The *shiny trinkets* from *VVVVVV* come to mind. The challenges you have to complete to get to them are so inventive and complex, it’s almost like there’s an entirely different game within the main one. Plus they unlock bits of the amazing soundtrack, which I believe has been featured on Game That Tune.

  • NameJobBye

    I was a huge Ultima 7 fan as my username indicates.  One of your party members has a house you can take over (well, you can take over pretty much anyone’s, but this one had a room with a locking door and an archery target), and I decided I was going to decorate it with random oddities from around the world.  I started collecting parrots (in the game they’re always standing on these wooden perches), and so I ended up with about six or seven parrots lined up to “stand guard” for my locked room.  I also managed to lure a suspicious guard into the room with the locking door and lock him in there, so for the duration of the rest of the game, whenever I would visit, there would be some frantically passing dude with a halberd locked in a room.

    • TimeTravelParadox

      I actually started a game where I took over the Lyceum and then killed everyone in the world. I then collected their bodies into centralized locations in each town where I slayed them. After that I looted anything of moderate value and transported it all, via magic carpet, to Lyceum. I did this simply because I could. I love Ultima 7. 

  • http://twitter.com/vowelsagogo Kilzor

    This was an incorrect post, damn it all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.macharelli David Macharelli

    My favorite was the classic comics that were hidden all over the original Playstation Spider-Man, which would unlock various alternate costumes with different power bonuses. If I remember correctly, this game had more alternate Spideys than most of the later versions.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=16831741 Eric J. Baker

    No one said the trophies in Super Smash Bros. Melee? I know it’s an obvious one, too, but man did I play the ever living shit out of that game in middle school to get every single trophy. Which involved me having to collect other things, too, like every bonus in the game, so I could get the corresponding trophy. I was the only one of all of my friends that got every single one.

  • Mike Wolf

    I feel like the odd man out here, because I’ve never bothered to collect all the whatevers in about 2 decades of gaming, and — since achievements/trophies/etc became a thing — there’s only one game in which I’ve got all of them, the rather odd JRPG Enchanted Arms, and even then only by virtue of the fact that you can’t complete it without getting every achievement.

    That being said, Captain Internet’s comment above made me realise that I enjoy collecting items for Team Fortress 2. I make a point to have every weapon, with my more commonly used ones in Strange quality (which tracks kills and/or other statistics) as well as the cosmetic items I find appealing. I’ve not dipped into the crazy high-level market of Unusual items (cosmetics with a particle effect), but I do have a few pieces of decent value, and it’s a collection that — though intangible — gives me some pride.

  • signsofrain

    My big obsession were the collectibles in Powerstone 2 on the Dreamcast. Mix and match items to create new outfits, weapons and powerups! The game starts with a pretty basic arsenal and as you create new weapons they start dropping in the game. Loved realizing that I could create elemental swords, Megaman’s arm cannon, and other specials. Collecting kept me playing the game loooong after I’d mastered the gameplay and was beating anyone who dared challenge me in versus handily. (With Petey, no less)

  • Goon Diapers

    The stars in Super Mario 64. I HAD to find them. Find them all.