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My friend and fellow World 8 co-host Bryan Edelman and I decided to each keep a list this past year of every game we beat to better reflect upon all the titles we experienced, like a scrapbook of sorts.
As the year came to a close, we compared lists — he crushed me 80-44 in total games completed — but more interesting than our totals were some of the titles we had on our lists and how we justified their completion.
Which brought us to a somewhat fundamental question: When do you consider a game “finished”?
While it was pretty easy to determine when a game was over in the era of the Nintendo Entertainment System, seeing the credits roll is not always the end these days. I find these examples from my own experience to be helpful….
Super Street Fighter 4 springs to mind, though almost all fighting games suffer from a similar dilemma. Where do you draw the line with this type of game? Beat the arcade mode with one character? With all characters? Or can you ever really beat a fighting game? In my opinion, if you put in the effort to learn a brawler and become reasonably proficient, you’ve more than achieved the requirements for completion.
Pokemon Heart Gold/Soul Silver led to a bit of controversy with Bryan and me. His feeling was that beating the first Elite Four (the one in the new Johto region) was enough to make the list, arguing that credits do indeed roll after you defeat them. I disagreed, because only then does the original games’ Kanto region become available, leading to a final confrontation with the first protagonist (Ash, Blue, or whatever he’s calling himself these days). Then there’s always the completionist debate. Do I really need to collect all 490-something critters to consider it “beaten?”
This is the whole Johto/Kanto region. Bryan thinks you only need to play the left half to claim victory.
And where does downloadable content come into play? I completed Borderlands, but after purchasing and downloading the game's four DLC packs, have I revoked that completed status? Or are they all separate entities? While The Secret Armory of General Knoxx certainly seems big enough to be worth its own entry, do the downloadable quests of Dragon Quest 9 deserve the same treatment?
In the long run, it’s a subjective question and one that has no definitive answer. But if someone stopped playing Red Dead Redemption after they got their family back and claims to have beaten it, I’d certainly disagree, wouldn’t you?