There once was a time when people who beat games could only snap a Polaroid picture of it to prove it to their friends. Now, thanks to achievements and trophies, you can brag all you want all over the internet. Well, except for Nintendo. They seem to stray away from the whole achievement thing even though I really wish that they would get on the ball with them. I actually am a big fan of the achievement and trophy systems. They give me bragging rights about all my gaming successes without having to bust out a camera. Some people disagree and can’t stand them. I’m perfectly fine with that. After all, we all can’t agree, can we?
When I was young, we had to take each other at our word over what games we had beaten. It was an honor system, but one we rarely fibbed about. I mean, what was I to gain for lying? Heck, I remember taking a picture of me by my television when I beat Contra, using the code, of course, to send into Nintendo Power. Unfortunately, my picture never got published, and I couldn’t find it for this article, which is a bummer. I used to be cute and wanted to share that all with you.
But I digress. In the PlayStation 2 era, you could “show” your friends that you beat the game by using the memory cards and post-save. That is if the game had that mechanic back then. This was a bit easier seeing that when you beat most cartridge based games you got to see that ending once, and had to re-do the boss fight should you want to see it again. Memory cards saved us from that torture, thankfully.
At the beginning, achievements were pretty bland and collectible based. Some of the better ones included beating certain levels and completing games whereas the tougher ones were collecting all 150 feathers and such. Once developers understood what achievements were or what they could do, they changed their game up a bit. During the developers’ “fix” of achievements, I was a huge achievement hunter, which was foolish. There are so many games I have now that I only started to boost my achievement score that remains unbeaten. I wish I hadn’t attempted to get all 1,000 points on many of these games. Now, my “pile of shame” is insanely tall with no reprieve to come. I did jump my Gamerscore up pretty well though, which was a cool bragging rights thing about a decade ago.
What I really like about achievements, though, is that they can inadvertently track how long you’ve been playing a game. Sometimes when a game autosaves now it overwrites your initial save, losing the date you started the game. Most games have a tutorial achievement or first level achievement that can clock when you begin a game. Then, if you’re like me, you can see when you started the game a decade later. That’s what I enjoy so much about achievements now–looking back on when I began a game and thinking back to what my life was like then.
I also like to see when I began a game and long it took me to beat it. That’s always eye-opening to me. Pretty soon, I’m going to jump back into Grand Theft Auto V since I’ve been told I’m almost done with the game. I’ll get to check out when I started that. Hint: It was release day for the PlayStation 3, so I at least knew that one off the top of my head. I don’t remember when I began most games, though. GTA V is just a great midnight release memory.
I enjoy achievements more so now than when they were an addiction. I actually wish Nintendo would jump on this bandwagon. Give us Stars for doing certain things in games. This would probably make me play my Wii U more and give me more of an urge to buy a Switch. I can’t really track when I started Nintendo games as easily as I can Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 launch games. I know that the 360 is only one generation back, but even I get nostalgic about when I started Skyrim and Oblivion or when I was fragging noobs in Halo 3.
All three of those times in my life were very good. I had free time. My parents were healthy. My buddies hadn’t switched their stages in life yet and I’m pretty sure I was still working at Hooters. No complaints there, right? It’s weird that something only two generations old can bring back some great memories, I’m looking forward to reminiscing in another ten years about the newer additions to my “pile of shame.”