Minigaming Your Way to Victory
When a game offers an alternative way of unlocking characters/items, outside the main gameplay


(permanent link) added: 2011-12-08 03:38:50 sponsor: SchrodingersDuck (last reply: 2011-12-20 16:13:37)

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Want to get the Infinity+1 Sword without all that tedious Level Grinding? Fancy unlocking the Lethal Joke Character, but can't afford to bribe your way to victory? You may just be in luck.

When video games include unlockable content, especially multiplayer games such as fighting or racing games, they put themselves in awkward situation. On the one hand, unlocking the most powerful characters and items needs to be difficult, otherwise they might as well not bother locking them at all - they are, after all, meant to be a reward. On the other hand, the best characters are often the fan favourites too, and no-one wants to spend 5 hours with a roster of unknowns trying to unlock the actual advertised on the box.

As a result, some games include two ways of unlocking Bonus Content. The first way will be through the main gameplay, and will generally involve meeting quite stringent criteria - winning 50 times with a given character, earning a $1,000,000 in game, getting through the entire campaign without a single death, and so on. The other method will be slightly out of the way, and will simply mean playing through a sidequest or a series of minigames. This second route is generally looked down on by “Stop Having Fun” Guys, but very popular with Scrubs (and people who simply want to fill up the character roster before a multiplayer tournament).

Note that this is not simply a "Sidequests unlock stuff" trope; the stuff they unlock has to be available in the main game itself too - and not simply Vendor Trash - but the players get to choose how they want to unlock their stuff. Can overlap with Bribing Your Way to Victory, when the sidequests are only available in an Expansion Pack or Downloadable Content, Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer, when unlocking the items through minigames is actually more fun than unlocking them in-game, and Disc One Nuke, when powerful content is unlocked far earlier than the story expects.

Examples:
  • In SimCity 4, unlocking reward buildings tends to be fairly difficult - most require quite a large, well-off city with strong public services, and the few rewards that the game gives you out of pity require you to be doing really badly. The expansion pack Rush Hour however adds an alternative - the player can get behind the seat of a car and carry out missions around the city, with the buildings forming the rewards for these missions. For example, in the original, unlocking the Space Port meant having a ludicrously large high-tech industrial sector as well as an advanced research lab, and the game had to be played on one of the higher difficulty settings. In Rush Hour, you simply need to be able to drive a train. Generally straddles the line between Disc One Nuke and Awesome but Impractical - the content you unlock can be ludicrously good, but generally far too expensive for your tiny town at the time.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl includes a game called "Subspace Emissary" - a Metroidvania where the game's characters team up. While it remains possible to unlock characters the old fashioned way, playing Brawl or Classic mode over and over again to rack up wins of various kinds, Subspace Emissary simply unlocks the characters as soon as you met them in game, meaning that it now only takes a few hours to fill the roster as opposed to the days or weeks it might take otherwise.
  • Pokémon:
    • In Pokémon Red and Blue, the powerful Safari Zone Pokémon are some of the hardest to catch, since they're rare, they tend to flee, the player can't fight back, and the only Pokéballs available are "Safari Balls". Of course, if you can't be bothered with that, you can just buy Pinsir and/or Scyther (depending on version) at the Celadon City Game Corner.
    • In Pokémon Gold and Silver, there's only one Master Ball in the whole game, which you get only after defeating every gym leader in the first region. Unless of course you strike it lucky in the Lucky Number Show lottery that is. There are 65535 possible numbers, though, and it's based on the trainer IDs of Pokemon you own, so unless you've done a lot of trading, this one will take a while (the Lucky Number Show was originally weekly - if you've never traded, then even after 867 years the odds of you winning are only 50:50. Even if you've traded with a dozen people, you'll be lucky to win the lottery in your lifetime. Later games made it daily, but there's still a lot of patience and luck needed.).
  • Final Fantasy VIII has two examples:
    • The Chocobo World Pocket Station game, which could get you various bonuses in the main game including item duplication. Due to the lack of availability of Pocket Stations outside Japan, this was essentially impossible in the game's international release, except on the PC version.
    • The Triple Triad card-game. Entirely optional, but certain special skills made it possible to convert rare cards into powerful items, and sufficient mastery of the minigame could even allow you to re-obtain converted cards (albeit only very late in the game), making it possible to obtain an infinite supply of Game Breaking invulnerability-potions. Also noteable is the fact that Triple Triad play a major role in creating the ORIGINAL Disc One Nuke - obtaining the fully-upgraded 'Lionheart' gunblade on Disc 1.
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