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Sliding Scale of Collectible Tracking
So you're working on a Collection Sidequest in a game, and you've managed to find 99 out of 100 collectibles... but you have no idea where that last pesky one is hiding. So you cave in and find a strategy guide to tell you... only unless you have a very good memory or you've been keeping track yourself, have fun checking every location to try and find the one you missed.

As a result, if you're going for 100% Completion in some games, it's better to just use a guide from the beginning or make notes to keep track of your progress, otherwise tracking down the last few could be painful.

This trope is about how hard or easy the games makes tracking down hidden collectibles.

Hardest

  • Lost Forever: Not only is there no way to know which item you missed, even if you figure it out there is no way to go back and get it. Your only option is to start a new game and make sure you don't miss it next time around.

  • Not Even Keeping Count: Not only does the game not tell you which items you've collected, it doesn't even tell you how many you have or how many are still missing. You might be one away, you might have 50 to go, you'll hopefully be able to tell once you have them all. Tends to occur with collectibles that the games doesn't expect you to collect, but some players still do for a Self-Imposed Challenge.

  • Could Be Anywhere: You could get it if you can only find it, but it could be anywhere in the entire game and there is no way to identify the ones you have.
    • Crackdown has the hidden and agility orbs. You don't need to find them all to max out your characters abilities (there are more orbs than you need and you can level yourself up other ways) but there are achievements attached, and the orbs could be anywhere in the sprawling Pacific City.
    • The Hidden Packages and other such collectibles in the Grand Theft Auto games. The photos/gang tags/horseshoes in San Andreas were limited to individual cities, while the oysters were all found in water, but could be anywhere in the world.
    • The random collectibles from the space stage of Spore. Literally could be anywhere. Except for Earth which has a fixed location.
    • Spider-Man 2 has:
      • 130 Buoy Tokens
      • 150 Skyscraper Tokens
      • 37 Hideout Tokens
      • 75 Secret Tokens
      • 213 Hint Markers
      • Of all these, only the hint markers are shown on the map, but because the map is rendered in-game and they're so high, you can see the skyscraper tokens if you zoom in all the way and look closely.
    • Prototype has 200 'landmarks' and 50 'hint orbs' scattered around New York City. They don't appear in your point of view until you get close. Good luck.
    • inFAMOUS has 350 Blast Shards for you to collect in Empire City. A tad easier than the other games listed here since you can press R3 on the PS3 controller and momentarily reveal the locations of blast shards within your minimap. But given the small size of your minimap and some the shards being stuck in really obscure locations, you'll still likely to use a game guide.
      • This was fixed in inFamous 2, see It's here below.
    • The Metroid Prime games have the Energy Tanks, Missile Expansions, Ammo Expansions, and Power Bomb Expansions. You can see how many of them you have, but not which ones they are or how many are left, save for a counter on the menu screen that tells you what percentage of all the items in the game you have.

  • It's Here Somewhere: The game tracks your progress in individual sections of the game (often levels) so you know when you have every item in a particular area and don't need to search there further. (The game might not tell you the total number that can be collected in each area, but you can always look that up in a guide). How helpful this is depends on how big each section is — at least you're not wandering the entire world, but you still might have a lot of ground to cover as there is still no way to know which items you've found within an area, only how many.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time tells you how many golden skulltulas are left in each area, but some of those areas are not small.
    • Both Modern Warfare games and Call of Duty: Black Ops have enemy intel laptops to collect, and they show how many have been found on each level. Fortunately, there are only about 3 on each level, so it's easy to check each location.
    • Assassin's Creed I tells you how many flags/feathers are left in each city. Because of the size of the cities though, and the number of flags in each, it's still a trial.
    • Jak and Daxter games show you how many of each collectible you have found in each of the levels.
    • Prince of Persia (2008) has 1001 light seeds throughout the kingdom. Fortunately each area only has 45 and progress is tracked on the map, so you know the places you still need to look.
    • Rocket: Robot on Wheels only tells you how many tokens and machine parts you've got. The game uses Individual Identification with the tickets, with each one graded based on difficulty and coupled with a hint.
    • Spyro the Dragon has gems in levels and the games tells you which levels in which you don't have all the gems. However, in 2 and 3, (and others?) you could use Sparx to point in the general direction of a gem or gems.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, there's also a sidequest involving finding four jewels. Their locations are provided on the Overworld Not to Scale, but it's up to you to search the individual screen for a secret entrance.
    • Banjo-Kazooie does this as well, keeping track of the number of items you've collected in each level. And between all the different types of items you need to collect, you're going to be looking at that summary page a lot.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks has rabbits to catch. You can check at the collectors location how many of the five different types you found, each of which corresponds to the five terrain types. However, you can make things much easier by using the trademark map notes to mark each spot you find one at. However, the game doesn't really tell you how many Force Gems you need to track down, and you need pretty much all of them to reach all of rabbit locations.
    • The blue coins in Super Mario Sunshine fall in here. There are 240 scattered around the world, and you need them all if you want to get all the Shine Sprites (though not all Sprites are needed to complete the game). The game does keep track of how many you've collected in each area, but you don't have any way of identifying which ones you've picked up and which ones you haven't.
    • Alice: Madness Returns has a chapter select feature that gives a brief overview of the collection progress of the four available kinds of collectibles. X over Y, where X is the number of location unique collectibles found and Y is the total in that chapter.
    • Psychonauts, in addition to the individual identification mentioned below, tells you all the collectibles you've found in a level (save the ammo/extra life capacity upgrades). Thankfully, it discriminates by section in most cases, so you usually only have to look through one third of the level if you're missing something.
    • In Michael Jackson's Moonwalker for the Sega Genesis, you have to find all the kids in each level (it's not a sidequest). They're often hidden behind doors and other objects, and the game gives no indication of where you've already checked.
    • The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants uses this for both the mandatory purple objects/hats/balloons/exit signs/nuclear rods and the optional "evidence" .

  • Individual Identification: Each item is uniquely identified, so you know exactly which ones you have and haven't got. The game only helps track what you've got though, it doesn't give hints on what's missing, but this makes it much easier to use a guide to help you if you get completely stuck.
    • The hidden treasures in Uncharted 2 are listed so you can find the ones you missed, as well as a count of how many treasures you've found in each chapter. Unfortunately the treasures are listed in the order you found them, rather than in the order you can find them, so it's harder to identify which you're missing.
    • Most of the collectibles in Psychonauts are easy to find and not too numerous, except the hundreds of figments floating around every level. Fortunately the game tracks every single one. By itself this is no help for locating a missing figment within the world, but at least being uniquely identified lets you use a guide to tell you where the missing ones are.
      • The same goes for the Emotional Baggage. There's five different kinds, and each mental world has one of each, which you have to reunite with their tags; the collection screen tells you both what tags you have, and if you've taken them where they need to go. The Scavenger Hunt also tells you which items you have, and the campers' brains are listed off, but the latter isn't very helpful.
    • Twilight Princess has two other collect the MacGuffins: the Twilight Bugs (It's Here) and the Golden Bugs (Individual Identification). The Twilight Bugs are shown on your map, when you get to them you need to look for the telltale electric flickering. The golden bugs are much, much more annoying, as the only clue to their presence is a faint jingle and the fact that they're shiny, other than that, you're on your own (I played Twilight Princess on a giant screen and it was still a case of Guide Dang It. One of them is inside a dungeon for crying out loud!).
    • The Pokedex in Pokémon is a combination of Individual Identification and It's Here: it starts out completely blank but whenever you encounter a Pokemon, either in the wild or in a trainer battle, some information on it is added to the Dex, including where you can find it. Of course, the information the 'dex gives you is limited to what route you can find the Pokemon on, and not whether you have to fish, surf, listen to the radio, or whatever to find the thing. And it doesn't help for evolutions that you can't get in the wild, some of which can get rather obtuse.
    • In Ōkami, feeding all of the animals can fall under Lost Forever, as one dog can only be found when you travel back in time to defeat Orochi. Each of the Stray Beads, however, is numbered, can be gotten until you reach the Point of No Return, and has the area it's in listed.
    • Crack Down 2 shows every orb you've collected on a somewhat obscure map (it's under the achievements tab, and you need to select the achievement for the type of orb you're looking for) and allows you to 'ping' for orbs about once every ten seconds - if any orbs are near you, they'll show up on your radar briefly.
    • In La-Mulana, every ROM and piece of equipment (except for a few that replace each other) has a unique position on the item screen.

  • Here's a Hint: Some games make it easier by having a hint to prod the player in the right direction, which might be a pointer to the general area to search, or clues to the actions needed to uncover the collectible.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has the fortune teller, who if you ask for her to foretell matters of the heart, will give you a clue to a heart piece you haven't collected yet.
    • Batman: Arkham Asylum naturally has clues to the Riddler puzzles. There are also maps to be found that will put question marks on your map screen to denote the general location of unsolved puzzles. The game also randomly displays the clue to one of the unsolved riddles in the area whenever you enter a new area of the island.
      • Batman: Arkham City is somewhat easier, but still falls in this category. You can as before find maps to the various Riddler puzzles and trophies, this time by interrogating the Riddler's spies in other groups. Also, if you see a trophy but can't reach it or don't have time to go after it, you can permanently (until you retrieve the trophy) tag it on your map.
    • The Power Stars in Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy (and similarly, the Shine Sprites in Super Mario Sunshine) are individually identified; the name also provides a hint as what you need to do to collect it.
    • In Beyond Good & Evil you get detectors to show you where the Animals and Pearls are on the map, though you still have to figure out what to do once you get there. The pearls and animals are also individually labeled. The PA-1's, the Heart Containers, on the other hand, are "Could be Anywheres"—there's no hint to how many there are in-game, and some are quite well-hidden.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, The Legend of Zelda Oracle games have a useful feature: if you have the Compass while in a dungeon, it will play a little jingle when you enter a room with a key that has not yet been collected.
    • Red Dead Redemption has a subquest where you can find some buried gold using treasure maps - the catch is that these maps are in no way integrated with your normal map. Instead they show where the treasure is in relation to landmarks (such as an arrow pointing to a campsite on a mountain, then another arrow pointing to a pass visible from that campsite, and so on.) Each treasure cache has the map to the next location inside, meaning that when you run out of maps, you've found all the gold.
    • Most Ratchet & Clank games tell you how many Skill Points are on each world and give you their names, which are usually hints as to how to achieve them. (In the first game, you only got this information in a New Game+.)

  • It's Here!: The game makes it as easy as can be, showing the player exactly where they need to go. So long as you follow the instructions, you can't miss any. Other games might only provide this level of help once the player has made sufficient progress on their own, or purchased the help.
    • Assassin's Creed II shows the locations of the codex pages on the map, only removing them when you have collected them.
    • In Twilight Princess, it also shows you where treasure chests are located in rooms of dungeon areas. (But only after you find the map and compass first!)
    • Vexx has a rhyming hint and arrows to show you the way to each Plot Coupon. (You can turn off the arrows if you like on the pause screen.) However, this doesn't stop some of them being Nintendo Hard to reach.
    • Ratchet: Deadlocked goes a step further than the other games and tells you exactly how to get each Skill Point. On the other hand, there are a lot more of them than in any other game.
    • inFAMOUS 2 used the same system as the original, where the collectible blast shards would appear on the mini-map when you "pinged" them. When you complete 60 side missions (which isn't possible until you've almost completed the game) you unlock an upgrade to this ability that will also highlight the next nearest blast shard not visible on the map. You can use this to track down any errant shards you missed, using it to point you in the right direction until you get close enough to locate it on the mini-map.
    • MARDEK has a map screen that shows you the exact location of all secret passages and treasures, including those not in chests, so long as you've gone reasonably close to them.
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