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So far this week, we’ve looked at some of the ways game developers use Xbox 360 Achievements and PlayStation 3 Trophies to laugh at your failures as a player and the funny ways you inflict death upon your fellow polygons. In this third installment, we’re getting a little weird. Sometimes, developers use their awards to comment on games as a medium or point out something silly about the nature of these unlockables. Hang on for this one; it’s about to get deep.
Cabela’s Big Game Hunter 2010 — “What’s This Button Do?”
Value: 5G/Bronze Trophy
“Press the left bumper [or L1] 10 times.”
The Xbox 360 controller and Sony’s DualShock 3 each have two analog sticks, a directional pad, four face buttons, two triggers, and two shoulder buttons. That’s a lot of doodads to whatzit, and you really can’t fault developers for running out of commands before they run out of buttons. Usually, those unused keys would just sit there, but Cabela’s Big Game Hunter 2010 developer Activision, apparently in a bid to promote responsible hunting, uses every part of the controller. The left bumper (or L1 button, if you’re playing on a PlayStation 3) does absolutely nothing in the game outside of unlocking this Achievement or Trophy.
Command & Conquer 3 — “Welcome to 2047″
“Press the A button 2,047 times, the year the game takes place”
Since players almost always use the Xbox 360 controller’s “A” button to make menu and in-game selections, it stands to reason that you will press it a lot. This is especially true in a real-time strategy title like Command & Conquer, which requires you to select things pretty much constantly. This Achievement comes with a condition, however: You have to make all 2,047 presses within a single mission. The guides I looked at while researching this article offer such helpful tips as going “all ‘Decathalon’ on its ass.”
Dance Central 3 — “Go Shorty”
“Performed ‘In Da Club’ with a character on that character’s birthday.”
It always confuses me when developers include details like an avatar’s birthday in their games; I assume that’s usually there so we can glean something about their personality based on their astrological sign or something. But I have to hand it to developer Harmonix for finding a moderately clever reason for including such pointless biographical info. If you’re still scratching your head over what this Achievement means, here’s all the explanation you need. Also, I apologize in advance for what you’re about to have lodged in your brain.
Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard — “Multiplayer Master!”
Value: 30G/Bronze Trophy
“What? No multiplayer? Sigh. Well … not like we can take the Achievement back NOW….”
Eat Lead, which is about a washed-up game character trying to recapture his former glory, is already pretty meta to begin with. So of course developer Vicious Cycle couldn’t resist getting a little cute with their Achievements and Trophies. This reward unlocks upon completing the game, along with three or four others, including one called “Talk!” that jokes about the developers having to remove mechanics from the final build (“What do you mean, the interrogation feature was cut?!? Here … just take the Achievement”).
Legendary — “I Owe You an Apology”
“The Lead Designer apologizes for writing the terrible pun ‘DouBull TrouBull’ – have some points.”
Immediately before unlocking this Achievement in developer Spark Unlimited’s first-person shooter, players earn another reward for defeating two minotaurs at the same time. That unlocks “DouBull TrouBull,” an Achievement that is worth a whopping one point. And then, just when you’re grumbling about how lame that pun is and bemoaning the effect on your overall Gamerscore, this pops up and fixes everything.
Naughty Bear — “Sucky 9″
Value: 5G/Bronze Trophy
“In Episode 9, got a total score of 9 points. You suck!”
It’s one thing when developers admit to their own shortcomings, like in “I Owe You an Apology.” It’s another entirely when they use Achievements and Trophies to mock you personally. I had an entire article about those “rewards” on Monday, but “Sucky 9″ lays on the special sauce with its fourth-wall-breaking disparagement of those who earn it. One of the techniques for unlocking this abuse involves repeatedly walking into a bear trap, which sounds like so much intentional action on the player’s part that I would be very surprised if anyone has unlocked this Trophy accidentally. It’s an award about sucking that requires gamers to suck on purpose to earn it.
Saw II: Flesh & Blood — “You Wasted Your Life”
Value: 15G/Bronze Trophy
“Played on Christmas”
The first Saw game includes a similarly named award (“You’ve Wasted Your Life”) for standing idle for five minutes. The sequel adds a new dimension to the shaming by actually caring about the date on which you are playing it. Apparently, Saw II thinks you should spend time with your loved ones on December 25 instead of sitting at home playing a mediocre licensed game. I’m inclined to agree, even for gamers who don’t celebrate Christmas.
Tales of Monkey Island — “Why Is My Older Brother Laughing?”
Value: Bronze Trophy
“Encountered a shipload of references to the previous Monkey Island games”
It’s common for developers to include references to other games, especially earlier ones in a series (more on that tomorrow), but Episode One of Telltale Games’ Tales of Monkey Island manages to fit in a clever commentary on the winks and nods in its “Why Is My Older Brother Laughing?” Trophy. It had been nine years since the last installment in the franchise (2000’s Escape from Monkey Island), and I guess the developers figured nobody playing Tales was alive back then.
The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile — “Game Reviewers Shall Be Pleased”
“Unlock Pretty Princess Difficulty.”
Developer James Silva’s (Ska Studios) 2011 followup to The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai includes a difficulty level just for those who felt that the first game was too hard (but gave it positive reviews anyway). Note that the Achievement doesn’t require you to use the super-easy mode; just unlock it by dying 10 times in a single level. But even if you wanted to, nobody would know. Right?
If you can’t get enough metagaming humor, be sure to check out the other articles in this series: