More Zeroes, More Fun!
In most sports and a number of video games, Scoring Points is the best way to keep track of your success. But when you think about it, what is a point? Can you quantify its value? Is a point in one game necessarily as valuable as a point in another game? Think about such things long enough, and you may come to the conclusion that a point is really nothing more than a bizarre variation of currency, easily redeemed for fame and glory.
And like currency, it can be subject to Ridiculous Future Inflation.
Some games are simply more generous with their scoring systems than others. Some games will give you 10 points for an action that would earn you 100 points in another. Zeros are particularly easy to append to scores, and many games (especially old ones) do exactly that: display extra trailing zeroes that are never counted internally. Yet in the end, the extra powers of 10 are meaningless and serve only to make one's performance look that much more impressive.
If the game is in Japanese or Chinese, scores will sometimes have digit separator kanji to keep scores readable. 万 (man) is ten thousand, 億 (oku) is one hundred million, and, if you're lucky, you may see 兆 (chou), or one trillion.^{note }
There is a practical variant of this technique, in which the smaller digits, meaningless for scoring as many points as possible, are used to count something specific. Examples include number of combos hit, or times you continued after a game over. When used this way, the score is really more like two scores placed end to end.
One reason these inflated point counts happen is due to a handful of natural human biases. We like big numbers, yet are also somewhat bad at them, especially in comparison on the fly. 10 is more than 1. 10,000 is basically the same as 1,000 (as far as a ratio goes), but it seems like a lot more at first glance. Even when we start to break it down, we can trigger various human faults over how much we're getting and how much there is actually. It's very likely that early pinball designers inflated scores purely for the ability to state that you can earn more points than a competitor's and thus players of said machine were better despite, as this trope points out, it being an arbitrary distinction. Of course, once we start doing this sort of inflation, we also tend to move our internal definition of 'average'; a pinball machine that gave you scores in the 10s would, at first glance, look and feel much less impressive without some sort of context to justify it.
Meanwhile, the extremely quick succession of hundreds of small numbers on a scoring readout or on a screen has both a purely visual appeal and utility. Not only it communicates a feeling of achievement, but it also makes the whole process more dynamic and provides important feedback (not unlike flashing lights and other telltales in pinball and action games - the feedback even scales, with more decimals places flashing meaning better result). The ultrafast numbers also connect with a host of stereotypes - from a frantic rush of a million-dollar jackpot to nail-biting sports programmes where one-thousandths of a second decide the winner. Finally, from game design standpoint, more granular points allow for more intricate scoring rules. Soccer has 1s, basketball has 2s and 3s, but in a videogame, you can land a hit that satisfies six different conditions and is multiplied by two different modifiers, plus a randomized factor. This means that a score doesn't have to be legible, but after the game, it must cumulatively measure the exact merit of a current playstyle - with sports-like precision of fractions of a percent.
The point-value equivalent of Rank Inflation. Compare Money for Nothing, where this applies to currency instead of points. The same reasons apply, though; we feel special and powerful if we can casually buy something that costs 1500 (whatevers)... even if the relative value would make it equivalent to a 15 point item using a reduced currency count. See also Advanced Tech 2000, another area in which extra 0s are added for the Rule of Cool.
Examples:
- The most visible use of this trope lies in the Pinball medium, hence it being the Trope Namer. Machines routinely display scores in the millions, and often even greater, depending on the machine. In Spanish-speaking countries, pinball machines have obtained the nickname "máquinas de millones".
- Attack from Mars is particularly noteworthy. The skill shot at the beginning of the game is worth 10 million points (and increases 10 million each subsequent time). Hitting the saucer in the middle scores 50 million or more a hit (and if you aim the ball right, you can score up to three hits in one shot). In the Wizard Mode, your goal is to earn 5 billion points, at which time you are awarded 5 billion more.
- Johnny Mnemonic has scores of roughly the same magnitude as AFM. One of the keys to scoring is Spinner Millions, which will give you 10 million points in bonus for each spin of the spinner (For about 150-200 million each trip through it). On a good ball this can amount to billions of points. The bonus multiplier applies to this, so you can multiply your Spinner Millions total up to 4x. And by getting Hold Bonus, you are awarded your bonus from the previous ball not just once, but twice due to a good bad bug. There is also the Power Down Wizard Mode which typically awards several billion points.
- Whodunnit? is another good example, as even a billion points is not good enough for a Replay. Solving a case and catching the criminal starts a four-ball multiball where pretty much any shot scores up to 100,000,000 points. The Roulette Betting Mini Game can be worth up to 2,500,000,000 points. It's not hard at all to get a score in the billions.
- In The Machine: Bride of Pin*Bot, locking both balls in multiball mode spins a roulette wheel which may give the player a few seconds to make a ramp shot for a billion points, in a game where a good round might otherwise land you a few tens of millions of points. The game keeps two separate high score tables, one for players who did not make any billion point shots, and a "Billionaire's Club" table for those who did, because the billion point shot can be turned off by the operator.
- One exception is NBA Fastbreak, which has a scoring system surprisingly closer to real-life basketball. High scores are typically in the hundreds. Newer ROMs have the option to switch to regular pinball scoring, though.
- In NBA, a Stern Pinball game that acts as a pseudo-sequel to Fastbreak, points are once again in the millions - you can get millions of points from a 3-point goal.
- Capcom's Flipper Football ("Football" in the sense of the world outside the US) is another exception. Every time you shoot a goal (by hitting drop targets in the back and then getting your ball through them), you score a point. Every time the ball drains, the opposing team scores a point (you have unlimited balls, but the game lasts a fixed amount of time).
- On the backglass of one classic machine, the artwork places an infinite stream of zeros after your score, stretching into the distance.
- Sometimes a limited number of zeros are placed in the artwork, so while technically the score reads, say: 10 000, the counter built in only needs to count up from one, assuming each point increment is 1 000. This was common on early score-reel games. Even when there's a convincing-looking reel for each digit, any digit that's always at 0 is actually a fake reel, as a strip of curved plastic with a "0" printed on it and nothing else.
- The size of score has waxed and waned over pinball's history. In the '30s and '40s, scores were displayed with lights on the backglass and an arbitrary number of zeroes would usually be appended to each "unit" of scoring. When rolling counters were introduced sometime in the '50s, scores simplified down to single points and score counters maxing out at 3-4 digits. Scores did begin to steadily increase again though, back to six digits by the time electronic score counters were introduced in The '70s, which only accelerated the presence of this trope, which reached its peak in The '90s with it being possible to score in the billions on most pins. It arguably reversed in 1996 with Tales of the Arabian Nights; most pins since then usually have scores in the millions or tens of millions.
- Come The New '10s, this trope really depends on the company and table. Many recent Stern Electronics games have high scores in the billions again, while on a Jersey Jack table, a million is a fantastic score.
- Many pinball machines will still give tens of points for some actions, though this is less for scoring purposes and more for the Match Sequence that gives the player a chance of a free game.
- Even this is an illusion - operator menus for many pinball games have settings for how often to give free games for score matches. These can be set by individual percentages. Some pinball games appear to give you multiple numbers to match - Joker's Wild!, for example, appears to give you five different numbers to match, giving the appearance of a 50 percent chance of getting a free game. Funny how players still don't seem to get them every other time...
- Many pinball games from Spain manufacturer Sonic have 100 as the minimum possible scoring unit, instead of 10 like most other pins from The '70s and onward. The matches on them are also three digits (000 to 900).
- Somebody coded Psycho Pinball wrong; no good pinball game should have a Score Cap. The score loops back to zero after 999,999,990 - you can count the billions in your head, but it's not the same. (Looping the jackpots on the Trick Or Treat table is the easiest way to get there.)
- That being said, even Physical Pinball Tables with digitally-managed scoring have Score Caps, as the programming requires it to avoid weird glitches and bugs. It's just that said caps are typically very, very high. They're way out of reach for all but the most dedicated players, and even then, only a select few games have ever had this limit reached (such as the aforementioned Johnny Mnemonic at 999,999,999,990). It does happen often enough that pinball jargon has a phrase for it, the aptly-named "over the top" scoring.
- Metroid Prime Pinball caps at 199,999,990. Hackers discovered this quickly; legitimate players followed.
- Even the classic Pinball Fantasies caps out - at a trillion minus ten. The record stands at some 44 trillion.
- Inverted with the Sega Game Gear version of Pinball Dreams, which reduced all scores by a factor of 100.
- The "Space Cadet" table of Full Tilt! Pinball was also capped - at 999,999,950. You can never score in increments of less than 50.
- Playing Gottlieb Pinball Classics (a simulation of classic tables from the Gottleib Pinball company) is an education in how many zeroes pinball tables have gained over the decades, from 1 point per bumper bounce and a three-digit score counter to 10,000 points per bounce and a digit counter stretching off towards a billion.
- Epic Pinball has a number of scoring systems depending on which table you play (points can be awarded in sizes ranging from 1 to 5 digits for just low-valued events, depending on the table). On the Super Android table (which starts at 10,000 points for the pop bumpers — whose value increases by 30,000 by hitting a particular sequence of targets, without limit), you can score over 3 billion points.
- Pokémon Pinball. Scoring in the main game is already pretty ridiculous, but the Game-Breaker Mewtwo bonus stage will give you 50 million points every time you hit him, adding up to around a billion points each time you play it. With a little bit of skill and a lot of patience, scores in the tens of billions or more are possible.
- In Kirby's Pinball Land most ways to score points are 'only' in hundred or thousand increments. The highest individual payoffs are 50,000 from defeating a boss, 77,700 from a top-level jackpot, or the maximum of 99,990 in a bonus stage. The score loops back to zero after exceeding 99,999,990 points, which was probably just left in the game as it usually takes several days of play to reach it.
- In Capcom's Breakshot, the dot matrix displays shows a 7-digit electro-mechanical-style scoring reel, thus making the rollover score a comparatively modest 10 million, but a decent Cutthroat Countdown can do this easily and the multiball Score Multiplier can also make 10 million an easy goal to achieve. Mixing the two can possibly score over 100 million, and rotation Cutthroat Countdown with three balls could theoretically be worth up to 225 million.
- Intentionally avoided in Jersey Jack Pinball's The Wizard of Oz for a Retraux feel; the score levels are noticeably lower than most other modern-day pinball games, including one-point targets. Their second game The Hobbit scores similarly.
- In Dialed In!, the ones digit of any score is always 0, but it still scores similarly to other Jersey Jack games.
- The Lord of the Rings has a record potential multiplier - it's possible to get an 84x Jackpot. Activate the "2x Score" Gift from the Elves (2x), activate Gollum Multiball (flips between 1/2x and 2x, for 4x potentially), activate Two Towers Multiball (1x, 2x, or 3x jackpots, depending on how many balls are on the table, for 12x potentially), and combo seven Jackpots (comboing a Jackpot increases its multiplier up to 7x, giving a potential 84x Jackpot.) However, since Gollum Multiball flips between 1/2x and 2x, and the "2x Score" gift lasts for 60 + 30 (if you get to add more time) seconds, it's not exactly simple to get...
- KISS (Stern) is a close second, with a potential 60x multiplier (10x + 3x + 2x playfield multipliers which stack additively to 15x, 2x shot multiplier, 2x combo multiplier) in its latest code. In other words, clear 8 songs, lock two balls in the Demon Head in Demon Multiball, collect the Double Scoring award from Backstage Pass, and Combo into a shot that has a 2x shot multiplier on it. The game was somewhat low scoring even compared to other Sterns of the time before that code update, with only the 2x playfield multiplier and 2x combo multiplier being available previously. Now it tends to exhibit this trope in general, especially on a good game.
- Game of Thrones had noticeably higher scoring than pretty much any other game that Stern Electronics had made in recent years. It also exhibits ridiculous multipliers like the game above, with a potential for a 30x multiplier on any shot (6x combo, 5x playfield which stack multiplicatively). This can lead to getting hundreds of millions or billions of points on a single shot.
- Ghostbusters code is recycled from GoT and allows for scores of similar magnitude. While the multipliers have been dialed back to "only" a 6x playfield multiplier (gotten by stacking the 2x and 3x), each skill shot allows the player to gain 10% of their current score. Some modes, such as Stay Puft and PKE Frenzy, can be worth hundreds of millions by themselves, even without multipliers, and then multiplicatively stacking 10% on top of that is just icing.
- Stern's Star Wars was also designed to have scores roughly on par with Game of Thrones, where 1 billion is considered a solid game. Rather than having persistent playfield multipliers, the player is able to control a set of persistent shot multipliers that can multiply any single shot by up to 40x. In addition, one code revision had a Good Bag Bug which caused Victory Multiball to last far longer than intended, and left many of the major mode multiball scenes' shots persistently lit. While getting to Victory Multiball is not the easiest thing to accomplish, those who were able to found themselves putting up 11- and 12-digit scores with relative ease (and it would indeed display all 12 digits). Needless to say, this has since been fixed.
- Many of the games from Italian pinball Zaccaria use more modest scores than those of other games. Time Machine and Farfalla are two examples, where a good game will have a score of several hundred thousand points.
- Though the scoring for Last Action Hero is about the same as other pinball machines of its time (with high scores in the high hundreds of millions), it is one of the few to have a multiplier for your bonus multiplier. That is, completing the three lanes at the top will multiply the bonus multiplier by two, making it exponential rather than linear like almost all other pinball games.
- Scoring in Batman '66 can reach absurd levels due in part to the large variety of stackable multipliers, as well as certain "minor villain" power-ups that can keep those multipliers active for the whole ball, or even the whole game. A typical "good" game is around 1 billion, but if you're PAPA 20 champ Escher Lefkoff and really stretch the limits of the game... scores can reach into the trillions.
- The game show featured in Ergo Proxy has a goal of one million points, and the minimum amount of points given for each question is 30,000.
- In standard Japanese Mahjong, all hand values are rounded up to the nearest 100 at the end of calculations. As a result, some competitions and games will show scores in thousands, e.g. 7.7 (thousand) instead of 7,700.
- The Aotenjou ("blue-sky ceiling", basically "the sky's the limit") House Rule is this trope applied full force. Normally, hands with 4 or fewer han are scored using an exponential formula with a soft Cap of 8,000 points. Aotenjou uses this formula for everything and removes the usual caps, so a 13-han hand (which would normally hit the hard cap of 32,000 points) is worth over 2 million points.
- Depending on the variation of these rules, yakuman hands are either treated as a flat 10 million (child) or 15 million (dealer) or add 13 han. With the former, more restrictive variation, hands with more than 13 han very quickly make a yakuman look cheap. With the latter variation giving the ability to stack yakuman hands, it is possible to get hands over 100 han and with scores well over a nonillion (10^{30}) points.^{Example scenario }
- The fu value used in the basic scoring formula itself is rounded up to the nearest 10 (except chitoitsu which is a flat 25).
- The exponential part of the formula itself has two added to the han value of the hand, effectively multiplying any winning hand's score by 4 by default. This is called bazoro. Some point tables will even start at 3 han to show these two free han. This apparently was created just because people had originally thought that hands were worth not enough points before it.
- The Aotenjou ("blue-sky ceiling", basically "the sky's the limit") House Rule is this trope applied full force. Normally, hands with 4 or fewer han are scored using an exponential formula with a soft Cap of 8,000 points. Aotenjou uses this formula for everything and removes the usual caps, so a 13-han hand (which would normally hit the hard cap of 32,000 points) is worth over 2 million points.
- The Here and Now versions of Monopoly multiply all the amounts of money from the original game by 10,000, and hence 10,000 is the smallest unit of money. This means that passing Go is worth 2 million dollars (U.S. Edition) or Monos (The World Edition).
- Back before the Euro, the French version used a hundred francs for one dollar: passing Go awarded 20,000F. Talk about an exchange rate!
- Similarly, the German version started with 20 marks for one dollar (which gave them the odd "400" note). Not the actual exchange rate as well.
- In the current incarnation of the Milton Bradley Game of Life, all transactions occur in multiples of $5,000.
- Transactions in the board game Acquire are all in multiples of $100.
- Blood Bowl costs and rewards are all in multiples of 10,000 gold.
- Parodied in the board game Big Money, which features literal Zillion Dollar Bills: the in-game money comes in denominations of $1 zillion, $5 zillion, and $10 zillion.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! sort of built up to this. While the lowest ATK any monster in the game that has an ATK at all is 100, there are still times where the other digits are used (like an 850 ATK monster gets its strength cut in half to 425). It is uncommon to see any low-level monster (4 or lower) with an ATK of less than 1500 in most player's decks, and a deck with only "vanilla" (no effect monsters) will have ATK around 1900. Low-powered cards are mainly used for special strategies or, more commonly, packing material.
- When a classic gambling game such as poker is played for 'fun' (when the winner gets little more than bragging rights over his buddies), it's routine for players to agree that the lowest-valued poker chip is worth $1,000, or $1 million, with higher-valued chips being multiples of that base. Everyone wants to feel like James Bond.
- A casino tournament with a $15 buy-in will rarely give the player $15 in tournament chips; $1500 is a far more likely starting amount. The chips are useless outside of the tournament, and a player's winnings are determined only by how long they last, so there isn't a need for a "tournament dollar" to correspond to real money in any way as long as all players start with the same amount.
- In Bridge, the lowest possible additive to your score is 20 (for each trick bid and made/overtrick made in a clubs or diamonds contract), with 30, 40, and 50 being the other less-than-100 additives. That's in the most commonly played (pretty well universally played, actually) scoring system; older scoring systems involved game at thirty points, with contracts scoring six, seven, eight, nine or ten per odd trick. (if that doesn't make much sense to you, don't worry, it just means that you don't play)
- Points in Canasta are all in multiples of 5. You (or your team) need 5000 points to win, which is pretty inflated for a card game.
- In Pinochle, some versions give 10 points for Aces around, while some versions it is worth 100 points. All other values work the same. In a game with 10 for Aces, game is usually played to 500, but in the other version, game would be 5000.
- In Harry Potter the Fictional Sport Qudditch has goals that are 10 points each rather than 1. The only other way to score (catching the Golden Snitch) is worth 150 points, meaning the trailing zeros are totally irrelevant.
- Frequently used on Game Shows, particularly those which don't convert contestants' scores to cash winnings. Catch 21 scores everything in 100-point increments, making the last two digits pointless.
- Go has scores in multiples of 250. The winning team receives $1 a point.
- Taken Up to Eleven in a kids' Bible game show titled "Kids on the Move." The first round was a variation of Hit Man (here's a short film, now answer some questions based on the film's dialogue) with questions worth 35,000 points each. The next round was a stunt round played by a different team outside the studio) which offered 250,000 points, and the final round (unscramble this Bible verse within 60 seconds) had a total of 500,000 points on the line (250,000 for solving the verse, 100,000 for identifying the book, chapter, and verse number, and 150,000 for solving the verse in a faster time).
- And then there was National Lampoon's Funny Money, which expressed the scores in billions of "Funny Money dollars." The number of billions was big, then the word "billion" underneath, in smaller letters.
- In an episode of Boy Meets World, when the High School Quiz Show dumbs itself down to appeal to the Lowest Common Denominator, among the changes include all of its single-digit point values being multiplied by one million. Eventually, the show gets rebooted into Huh! That's Cool! with its final question worth one trillion million points.
- Schlag Den Raab has an interesting form of this, 15 games each game worth one point more than the previous game after Spiel 1.
- In one of the Children in Need episodes of QI, Stephen gave the final scores in millions to fit in with the charity theme. Somehow Alan losing with -29,000,000 is much funnier than with -29.
- Traditionally, commercial karaoke machines from DAM and JOYSOUND (the sort found in a Karaoke Box) score the singer out of 100, with later revisions for each company adding three decimal places for higher precision. In 2017 DAM introduced "Precision Scoring DX Million", which as the name suggests can give singers scores in the millions. The system seems to be going for a rhythm game-like feel, complete with combos.
- Tennis has a bizarre 15-30-40-game point system. Forty used to be 45 but was too hard to say quickly. The points corresponded to degrees on a circle—thus, if you won 4 units of 15 degrees 6 times (enough to win a set), you made it around the circle. This weird symbolism exists because Europeans in the 17th century were obsessed with geometry. Or because a clock was used for scoring, the hands being moved manually. Or because of an older game where winning a point let you move forward, first to 15 feet then 30 and finally 40.
- In Quidditch, the Fictional Sport from Harry Potter, scoring a goal is worth 10 points, and catching the Golden Snitch is worth 150 points. The point values were probably inflated so that the game would seem rather more fast-paced and interesting than it transpired to be, making it seem even beyond basketball in terms of 'action'. When someone says they won by a hundred points, that sounds like there's a lot going on, while in reality, they were probably 5 goals down and then lucked out on the snitch. In fact, the existence of the snitch at all is probably evidence of this trope. It makes NO sense in terms of making a sport that people would actually play, but it gives Harry a way to be awesome and important in the game without actually needing training or having ever seen the game played.
- In Rugby Union and Rugby League, a ridiculously large number of points in a match is often referred to as a "cricket score", a reference to the large number of runs usually scored by both sides in a game of cricket. This big a number of points isn't usually a good thing, as if achieved by only one team it means that the match was severely (often dangerously) one-sided, and if both teams get a very high score it means neither of them could defend.
- More specifically, in cricket the score for a single team comprises two numbers: how many runs scored, usually in the hundreds, and how many batsmen were put out, which can be between zero and ten. So a score like 243-6, read as two hundred and forty-three for six, is reasonable for one team in cricket. 243-6 in rugby, being the scores of both teams, would be an absolute walkover.
- The NASCAR-like ARCA series awards at least 230 points to the winner, 220 to the second-place finisher and 215 to the third-place finisher. All points for all drivers are divisible by 5.
- Tatsunoko vs. Capcom measure damages in this manner. If you've been playing or watching the Japanese version, and have some knowledge of kanji, you'll notice that damages start in the ten thousands and can rise to the billions. The English translation for non-Japanese regions revealed it in all its glory - a magazine screenshot shows Ryu landing a Hadoken for 19 hits and 8.655 billion damage. Yeah.
- Both it and Marvel Vs Capcom 2 measure scores in the same overinflated manner.
- In Street Fighter games you often earn anywhere from 100 to 1000 points for each hit landed on the opponent. Time and energy remaining bonuses numbered in the thousands. Later games actually exploited the powers of ten scoring scheme to sneak some information in your score: in Alpha 3 at least the game would give the player 1 single point for each continue spent on the current session, meaning that one could see how many times someone on the leaderboard had continued. Assuming they did not continue 100 times or more.
- BlazBlue has a scoring algorithm that can lead to scores ranging in the trillions. It's very easy to score a billion points before the end of the first round of your first battle.
- Guitar Freaks and Drum Mania had outrageous scoring up until V6; the value of each note is multiplied by your current combo, leading to mostly 8 or 9 digit scores for decently-skilled players. A hard enough Nonstop course could max out the 10-digit score counter. As of the releases of V7 and XG, the maximum score on any song is around 1,000,000.
- DJMAX Portable from the second installment onwards does this with combos, thanks to the Fever system (which multiplies how much your combo goes up when you hit a note) and the way hold notes are handled in combos. You can easily get 5,000 combo in a single song, even if the song only has 700 actual notes.
- In DDR 3rd Mix, endless mode have exponential scoring, with a maximum of 10^72-1. This is 72 little nines spanning the entire width of the screen! You need about a full day of continuous play to get there but it has been done.
- 4th mix's Endless mode has "only" 32 digits, but it takes even longer to counter-stop than 3rd mix. See this video. By comparison, 3rd mix's Endless mode takes around 250-300 stages of straight Perfects.
- Giga Wing (pictured) has this because of how the game's score multiplying system works. A good player can easily get a score multiplier in the millions (meaning that the point value of every destroyed mook is multiplied by a million), and decent final scores start in the trillions. In fact, this aspect of the scoring system is touted in the Attract Mode.
- Giga Wing 2 and Giga Wing Generations push the envelope, with the latter allowing you to have upwards of twenty digits.
- Spiritual Successor Mars Matrix doesn't have scores quite as absurd as Giga Wing, but features the same score multiplier mechanic. Very skilled players can get 999,999,999,990 points.
- In the Neopets flash sidegame The Return of the Return of Dr. Sloth, high scores rise exponentially with play skill, though it is one of the lower scoring of games with this distinction. The current high scoreboard has only one entry in the hundred billions.
- This game has not only a score multiplier but a score multiplier multiplier!
- Every Extend Extra Extreme has 20 digit scores. Even the official leaderboards are called the "All-Time Trillionaires' Club".
- The smallest value of points you can score in Geometry Wars is 5 points, before multipliers.
- In Geometry Wars: Galaxies, all scoring is done in multiples of 25.
- In Galaxies and Retro Evolved 2, every enemy drops "geoms" when killed, which increase your score multiplier by one, which does not reset if you die. After collecting them (and it's hard to not collect them after a while) your score will start to increase geometrically. This is especially apparent in Retro Evolved 2, where extra lives are no longer given after a fixed amount of points, but after every power of ten.
- Crimzon Clover has scores that can go as high as 13 digits long. However, the main highlight of the scoring system is the buttloads of multipliers you get—your Break Rate (which increases as you kill enemies), the lock-on multiplier (shown in green), the Break Rate doubling and quadrupling when you Break and Double Break respectively, and the showers of stars you get. Each and every multiplier you get is shown when you kill enemies, and often you'll have moments where you cancel a screenful of bullets into a screenful of numbers.
- This is in fact one reason why online scores are often posted using Japanese digit grouping (by powers of 10,000). (The other reason is that the first version only supported Japanese grouping, though a later patch added Western digit grouping by powers of 1000).
- Crimzon Clover World Ignition changed the scoring mechanics, which leads to even higher scores than in the original version.
- Touhou has a different scoring system for every individual game. In the first six games, potential scores inflated over time, from 10-20 million in Story of Eastern Wonderland to over 100 million in Lotus Land Story and Mystic Square, to over 600 million in Embodiment of Scarlet Devil. From the seventh game, Perfect Cherry Blossom, all subsequent main games (except the ninth) placed the focus of scoring to raising the value of Point Items, rather than just collecting them; potential scores are in the billions, depending on the game (Wily Beast and Weakest Creature is the highest with a record of 9,999,999,990; Mountain of Faith is only 2.2 billion).
- Touhou fangame Phantasmagoria Trues' scoring system has, at its base, linearly increasing point item values like mainline Touhou games. It also has a multiplier that increases throughout the game. And there's the more typical shmup stage multiplier that ranges from 1x to 999x. Atypically, this is squared. All this, combined with the absurd amount of point items, leads to 19-digit high scores.
- Alternative Sphere is ridiculous in this respect. A normal playthrough of the lowest difficulty level will get you a twenty-digit score.
- In DoDonPachi Daifukkatsu, a moderately good player can easily get a score in the billions, a skilled player can get a score in the tens of billions, while the world record is over a trillion. This is mainly due to the way the chaining system works - your score is roughly proportional to the sums of the squares of your individual chains, and getting hit or using a bomb immediately breaks your chain. As a result, maintaining one big chain for the entire duration of stage 5 can net you well over 100 billion points for the stage, while if you break your chain intermittently, you'll earn something closer to 1 billion points.
- Hellsinker appears to be very low-scoring at first; a casual player can score maybe 1,000-2,000 Spirits, while competent players can achieve quintuple-digit scores and world-class players can get a little over 130,000. Even most early '80s Shoot Em Ups don't have world records that low. However, on post-stage Score Screens and on the replay screen, scores have four more darkened digits to the right, so either the Spirits counters on the HUD and ranking tables divide scores by 10,000 or those darkened digits are decimal places, making this one of the few games in existence that downplay you score.
- In the free Shoot 'em Up Illusion Super Dimension, after the score reaches over 18 digits the game will write the extra digits in green underneath (purple in earlier versions). Observe that one of the screenshots on the game's page has 54402689 written in purple. That's a 26-digit score, 54.4 septillion points. The next closest STG, Alternative Sphere, only reaches 21.^{note }
- The Katamari-clone The Wonderful End of the World parodies this by giving your score as a very literal count of how many items you've assimilated, with, written after it in brackets, '(billion)'.
- Technically, the lowest score you could earn for doing something in Super Mario Bros. was 50, for breaking a normal brick as Super Mario (or for each tick of time you have left at the end of a stage). Still, why stomping a Goomba was worth 100 points, rather than 2, is a mystery for the ages.
- The points scored for smashing bricks in Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World is even lower — 10 points each.
- Played to an extreme in Morph, an online flash game where you dodge objects, which give you one point when they cross the screen and get items that make the game harder to play for a little while but double your score. They do not give you an x2 multiplier. They double your score. After enough points, the game goes into scientific notation.
- The original Newgrounds version was updated shortly after release; one of the changes was a more standard scoring system (items give you 1000 points instead of doubling the score).
- Absent in many Konami arcade beat-'em-ups of the early 1990s, like The Simpsons and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game - everything worth a point was worth exactly one point. Even the Final Boss.
- The NES version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game is an odd example: the Japanese version of the game uses Pinball Scoring, while the American version uses the same "one point per enemy" scheme as the arcade version. The points scheme is different in other ways, too: in the Japanese version, some enemies give more than 100 points, and you get extra lives at different point values. Funnily enough, TMNT 3 used Pinball Scoring in both regions, and TMNT4 used it in neither (nor did the arcade game it was based on, although Ubisoft's Re-Shelled remake does this in a limited capacity, with about 10-50 points for each enemy defeated).
- Total Overdose is notable for an FPS, having a point system that simply represents points scored and aren't a form of currency. Initially, exploration is rewarded with these, unlocking upgrades at arbitrary increments. Later these global points become irrelevant, but mission totals remain important for scoring performance and unlocking additional upgrades.
- TI-89 calculator game "Drifter" had a problem with this. It was essentially a game of moving the player object left and right to avoid the ever-shrinking walls of a tunnel. The problem came in with the scoring system for the Classic mode. "Drifting," or not hitting the left or right keys to change your horizontal velocity, would give your entire score multipliers. Drifting one screen would add 25% of your current score to itself, two 50% (of the NEW score after the first screen), and each screen drifted 3 and after (consecutively) would double your score. You can already see where this is going if you drift for ten screens straight or so, but add to that the fact that each "level," for which the tunnel shrinks one pixel or so every 5-15 screens, increases the number of points added for each tick. Stage 1 gives you one point for each tick, stage 2 gives you two, etc. On a particularly good run, you can get up to stage 15-20. One level is about 100-200 ticks by the way, considering that the first level gives you about that many points if you do very little drifting. tl;dr, the game can crash your calculator due to some massive memory overflow. Certainly nowhere near Giga Wing's and MvC2's scores, but it probably could get that ridiculous with absolutely no inflation if the calculators were actually Windows XP computers. Fortunately, the mode that scored by only drifts, given arbitrary numbers of points instead of multipliers, did not have this problem. There were multipliers in the form of chaining multiple drifts together, but they only affected the points being earned, not total score, and chaining drifts is near-impossible in higher levels.
- Final Fantasy games normally permit you to hit for up to 9,999 damage. However, Final Fantasy X allows you to apply the "Break Damage Limit" attribute to a weapon, which lets you hit for up to 99,999. For conventional players, this attribute is necessary for Bonus Bosses, which can have many times the HP of the penultimate boss (120,000 HP); the last boss in the Monster Arena has 10,000,000 HP!
- In Final Fantasy XIII, random encounters frequently have HP scores in the hundreds of thousands.
- Final Fantasy XII has a Bonus Boss with an initial HP total over 50,000,000! The damage cap is still at 9999, and only Quickenings and some Espers can break it, making the battle mostly a matter of endurance and trying to use fast but weak attacks that are less penalized by the cap. It gets even worse when the boss's HP falls below 50% and it activates a passive ability that reduces all incoming damage by 30% after the cap is applied, effectively lowering that cap to 6999.
- Peggle developers Popcap Games noted that playtesters were strangely dissatisfied with their performance in the game. Popcap found that when some zeros were added to the scoring system, the game was much more satisfying.
- In the Orisinal game Winterbells, your score doubles every time you hit a bird. This can lead to scores in the quadrillions without much difficulty.
- Each time you hit a bell, you get the number of points you got for the last bell plus 10. So when you hit the first bell, you get 10 points, and when you hit a second bell, you get 20 more points, for a total of 30. This trope also appears in other Orisinal games.
- A very obscure, and now defunct, rock-climbing flash game called Peg Climber played much like Winterbells. As you climbed, your score counter would count up the numbers in the Fibonacci sequence. One peg was 1 point, six pegs was 8 points, 44 pegs was 701,408,733 points...
- Some variants of Skee Ball like to skew the scoring scale. Most standard versions yield 10 points for the lowest-scoring target. And then there are newer versions where the lowest non-zero possible score on a single ball is 10,000 points.
- In the freeware game Icy Tower, the points awarded for a combo scale quadratically with its length. Unsurprisingly, the high score list is really just a "longest combo" list, since it is very possible for a good player to get three digit combos and it is much more difficult to start a combo anywhere except the beginning of the game.
- Between Modern Warfare 1 and 2, every XP event you get has a zero added onto its original value (TDM kills are worth 100 instead of 10, etc.). Unlike the original, the remastered edition of Modern Warfare 1 uses the x10 scoring.
- The HP and damage of the first Valkyrie Profile can get into this range. Damage easily gets into the high tens of thousands (and hundreds of thousands if properly done), with many millions of HP for high-end bosses, for no apparent reason other than dramatic effect.
- Almost all Super Robot Wars games use this too. Even at the beginnings of them, your units will have 4-digit to low 5-digit max HP and be dealing 4-digit damage.
- The money credits in the Japanese version of Gran Turismo has two more digits. Example: 10,000 American Cr = 1,000,000 Japanese Cr. This is, however, to make the in-game prices more familiar to local audiences, since this allows for an exchange rate of roughly 1 Japanese credit = 1 ¥ and 1 American credit = $1 USD.
- One amusing bug in the American version of Gran Turismo 2 is that not all the displays were changed - so a simple car wash supposedly costs 5,000Cr even though its real cost is only 50Cr.
- Super Mario RPG's "Beetle Mania" Mini-Game. Shooting a shell causes it to explode into stars. If a star hits another shell, that shell explodes too, for 2^n points, where n is how many shells down the chain started by the shell you shot the shell is. So you think you've accomplished something by exceeding the default high score of 5,000 points...and then you fire one shot at a huge cluster of shells and your score jumps up by 200,000 points or more. The points for each shell are capped at 9,999, but scores in the millions are possible for anyone with reasonably fast Button Mashing skills.
- In the original OutRun, you get up to tens of thousands of points per second just for driving, and if you finish, 1,000,000 points for every second you have left on the clock at the end.
- Pretty much every Sega racing game that had points was like this. Lots of others, too (Space Harrier, After Burner, Wrestle War, etc.)
- Sonic Colors is like this in the Wii version. The DS version goes by most previous Sonic games with ranks, going into the tens of thousands for points in levels. Sonic Colors Wii goes well into the millions.
- Having said that, though, mundane activities such as going through scenery or killing enemies bring reasonable amounts. What gets the score way up are the end of act bonuses and the wisps. (For instance, Sweet Mountain Act 3 can get you upwards of 600,000 points from Wisps alone.)
- In fact, Sonic Colors Wii is unique among Sonic games in that the point bonuses received from finishing a stage quickly are relatively tiny (in most stages, at least). If you intend to play for score, you must look for whatever can get you large amounts of points and often just leave Sonic in one small area to milk all the points you can get from there, or going far, far out of your way to nab Red Rings, which score big. This is also the only Sonic game where defeating enemies gives you points starting at 1,000 instead of the normal 100.
- Subverted in the Penn and Teller's Smoke and Mirrors mini-game "Desert Bus". The game shows the score with eight placeholders, but driving the full eight hours from Tucson to Las Vegas or vice versa grants you exactly ONE point, and the cap is 99 (which is displayed as "00000099").
- In Sonic The Hedgehog 3, one could rake in score by grinding robots — the points for destroying robots without landing from a jump steadily increased, capping at 10,000 for the thirteenth and after. In the final level, you could sit in an alarm that summons robots, do a stationary spin dash, and destroy every robot that was summoned for a full 10 minutes — the vast majority of which were worth 10,000 points. You got a life every 50,000 points, so this maxed out your lives counter too.
- When Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? really took off in Germany, suddenly all kinds of video games around this quiz appeared. Cue a knock off competitor actually advertising their game with "You can win 10,000,000 DM in our game, instead of only 1 million, so it's better" - even though, unfortunately, you never get to get any actual money regardless of your prowess.
- Your score in Super Crossfire basically has an extra two zeroes at the end of it.
- Distorted Travesty gives Awesome points for... well... just about everything, so you're going to end up with a lot of 'em. They actually do something too: the more you have, the more XP enemies give out.
- All stats in World of Warcraft over the course of its history have increased exponentially from each expansion to the next. In Vanilla having 3000 HP was a big deal, but by the time of the fourth expansion (Mists of Pandaria) raiding players could easily reach above 600k (with tanks well past a million). How and when to do something in order to stop it from going out of control was an ongoing discussion for a while, until a Pandaria raid boss forced the issue with mechanics that could bring his health beyond the technical max value. ^{explanation } The end boss of the expansion had to avoid this issue while simultaneously being a challenge for players in even stronger gear, so encounter designers had him heal and/or gain increased maximum health no less than five times on the highest difficulty level, bringing his total effective health up to a staggering 4 billion. With the fifth expansion, Warlords of Draenor, exponential scaling was removed for nearly all old content in order to reduce numbers across the board. This is most commonly known as the 'item squish'.
- In Glider PRO, it is impossible for the score not to be some multiple of 100. This was not the case in Glider 4.0, thanks to time bonuses and arbitrary rather than fixed point values for prizes.
- Astro Marine Corps awards points in multiples of 500.
- Air Zonk in the original Japanese version has indicators for 兆 (1 trillion) and 億 (100 million) in the score after the fourth and eighth digits. The score is displayed as 0000兆0000億てん. In the American version, there are not these indicators, so the scores are effectively lowered by a factor of 100 million.
- The run-and-gun Shock Troopers has scores only in multiples of 500. The sequel has much more fine-grain scores, utilizing digits down to the tens place. Both games use the ones digit to keep track of the number of continues.
- The Disgaea series does this for both damage and character stats. The damage can go into the octillions range with the right setup, and stats other than HP (Which has no known limit) cap at 99,999,999 million, at least until DisgaeaD2, where the developers decided it wasn't good enough and let them go into the hundreds of millions range.
- Some of the more popular boards in BigJon's Press Your Luck fan game feature insane spaces like $10 Million and Quintuple Your $$ + One Spin crammed into every conceivable nook and cranny, making scores in the hundreds of billions not unheard of. Then the Malfunction space comes along and possibly dishes out negative hundred-billion scores, presenting the mind-bogglingly stupid scenario where hitting a Whammy actually becomes a godsend.
- A certain Touhou Mahjong fangame is notable for its utterly stupid scores - coming both from dealing its players broken starting hands and from its even more broken abilities. Two particularly inflationary abilities stand out: one increases the han value of all hands for the rest of the hanchan by increasingly large amounts every time it is used, while the other squares the han value for that hand. The highest score on the official ranking is a hand with 160 fu and 88,529,403 han, a value that would be 26,650,010 digits if it hadn't overflowed the variable (even under non-aotenjou rules it's a 6,809,954 times yakuman or 326,877,792,000 points) — and that's not counting the scores that overflowed the ranking's han counter.
- There was actually a cancelled 1983 Garfield game that had a rom where someone got a score of 23,418,862,404,272,676,864. Yes, really. Of course, as the official game was cancelled and the score actually rolls over at 1 million, it's debatable whether or not to even consider this a legitimate example.
- Idle games tend to take this to the extreme, with typical games like Cookie Clicker often having counts eventually ranging from the quintillions to the decillions. Some games come very close to the 1e308 limit of a floating point double; other games like Antimatter Dimensions have custom code to go beyond this limit, and even the exponent becomes subject to pinball scoring, with numbers like 1e200,000,000 becoming commonplace.
- Inverted in Shoot 'em Up Sky Adventure, which may be one of the lowest-scoring arcade shmups in existence. Mooks are only worth a single-digit number of points; a few of the tougher non-boss enemies barely get into the double digits, still only giving up to 15 points though. (Mid-)bosses can give a hundred or two by virtue of their time bonuses. The score counter rolls over at a mere 10,000 points, which requires a near-perfect run to get. Interestingly enough, its predecessor Sky Soldiers has more "conventional" scoring for a Shoot 'em Up with scores in the millions.
- Magical Tetris Challenge features rather high scoring, especially compared to most variants of Tetris. The bonus at the end of each stage can be in the hundreds of thousands... which gets multiplied depending on the longest Combo length, with long enough combos giving multipliers to this end bonus that go into the thousands. A TAS can score over a billion points in one stage in under two minutes.
- The arcade version of Breakout-clone Thunder & Lightning gives thousands of points per destroyed block, leading to stages being worth millions of points. The NES version has much more subdued scoring.
- Awesome Points in The Way of the Metagamer - the smallest possible amount is 100 points.
- Some CinemaSins homages on YouTube will double their score every time they see something particularly annoying, going from a score of, say, thirty and ending up with several hundred.
- Certain standardized tests do this.
- The SAT is perhaps the best known example, scored in multiples of 10 on a scale from 200 to 800 for each section with three sections total, for a total score range from 600 to 2400. This means that even if you get every single question wrong and submit a bunch of drawings of boobs as your essay, you'll still get an index of 600.
- The MCAT has an incredibly bizarre system, with grades ranging from 472–528, based on 4 sections each scored from 118 to 132. The scores are based around percentiles with 500 as the mid point (+/- 28), but most it just means that anyone without specific knowledge of the test has no idea what a score means.
- The various customer loyalty programs that use a redeemable point system. Usually, 1000 points is equivalent to 1 dollar.
- Points, the digital currency of DeviantArt, are each worth slightly more than a US penny, so a large number of points may be near worthless in reality. For instance, 1,000 points is equal to 12.5 USD. Although, in some regions of the site, points are viewed as just as or more valuable than tangible currency, and 20 points (25 cents) is considered a lot.
- Microsoft's former Xbox Live currency, "Microsoft Points", had an odd breakdown (80 points is a dollar), but the ones column never changes from a zero regardless of what you're buying. "GamerScore" (earned from getting Achievements) is different (there are Achievements with values that aren't exact 10s and ones that aren't multiples of 5 are bound to drive players crazy with uneven numbers).
- A certain amount of Values Dissonance happens in the American perception of football ^{note } , where a widely accepted perception is that any game that can go on for ninety minutes and nobody scores is intrinsically boring. A similar widely-held perception in Europe is that a game like basketball, which can result in scores like 140-97, suffers from Pinball Scoring in a big way and the points are just too easy to get, therefore pretty meaningless. (Similar suspicions are laid by football fans against both codes of rugby, especially if it's a high-scoring match; cricket is generally exempted from suspicion as its matches go on for up to five days. And also many people who might be bent to ridicule it for the scorelines don't know enough about it bar its existence.)
- Arguably, the most well-known example of this case is the Match Sequence from Pinball — at the end of a game, the last two digits of each player's score is compared with a randomly-generated pair, with a free game ("Special") awarded to everyone who gets a match. See the Match Sequence page for more details.
- Spades: Making a bid earns your team points in quantities of 10 per trick, while the ones digit of your score is reserved for counting overtricks. Once you reach 10 overtricks, your score is penalized accordingly and the ones digit wraps around. The ones digit of your score will make a difference if you end the game tied otherwise.
- Many video games with a continue feature, starting with 1941: Counter Attack on the Arcade, increment your score by one point whenever you continue. Thus, high scores that end in low numbers show more efficient gameplay than those that do not.
- During single-player games in the Super Smash Bros. series, your score is deducted 99 points for using what the game deems "stale moves" Assuming that no other units digit bonuses exist (and at least one game has such a bonus), the ones digit serves as a count of how many times you have done this. As of Brawl, bonuses have been removed entirely, to the sadness of many. Now the ones digit represents the number of continues used.
- When playing games at Pogo, to ratio of games points of token value (for your cumulative token amount) varies from game to game. In some cases, the game score might even be only marginally related to token value.
- A code in Space Megaforce turns the ones digit of your score into an indicator of the game's current difficulty.
- The Gummi Ship mode in Kingdom Hearts has large scoring. Rank S+9 can require 4,000,000 or more points. Taking enemy fire increases your score, by one. A nice touch is that instead of glowing white when the score goes up the ones digit glows red instead.
- In Gish, if your score ends with "1", you've gotten a good ending since you'll get a good ending bonus of 1 point.
- The Puzzle Bobble clone Puzzle De Pon fits into this trope many ways. Matching bubbles gives you some multiple of 1,000 points depending on how many are in the group (with no points for dropped bubbles), and time bonuses are given out in multiples of 5,000 (for the most part). There are secret spots in some levels that give out an instant 1,000,000 points (given that this is worth about as much as 10 stages played normally, this is nothing short of a Golden Snitch). The bottom three digits are basically the sum of continues, arrow power-ups used, and wasted star bubbles (each adding 1 point). Curiously enough though, the maximum time bonus is 99,999 points, effectively adding 100,000 points and cancelling out one increment of the lower digits...
- In Mii Force/StreetPass Squad, scores are done in multiples of 10. You then get 1 point for each squad member you bring to the end of the stage. The game keeps an individual score for each stage (or, in Arcade Mode, where you play through them all in order, these points are not given until you clear the final stage), you're required to carry at least 1 squad member to the end since they supply your firepower, and being a StreetPass game, you have a maximum of 10 squad members. Thus, the ones digit in your scores, or anyone else's indicates how many people they held onto by the end of the stage, with a 0 indicating having picked up a full house and not losing anyone. For a shmup though, scores are pretty low, never exceeding six digits per stage.
- The pinball Total Nuclear Annihilation uses the ones digit for the number of reactors destroyed.
- Some Bally pinballs made in the era of alphanumeric displays will temporarily change the ones digit to be the current ball number if there is not enough space to otherwise display it (usually during a 4-player game).
- Whether it was intentional or not, in the first Super Bomberman, the tens digit can be an indicator of the number of bombs the player can place plus one. Picking up a Bomb power-up is worth 10 points. Nothing else in the game can change the lowest two digits of the score, as every enemy kill and every power-up that is not a Bomb scores some multiple of 100 points.