Tagged: Achievements

Achieving the hushed silence of shadowy success

A little update on my approach to Achieving before today’s story. I’ve finally amassed enough friends on Xbox that the constant pips of them coming and going has really started to get in the way. I turned off notifications recently which also includes Achievement pop-ups so I’ve been playing games pretty much like I used to. After I finish the main mode I’ll pop open the guide and see what I’ve done and what else I can aim for; it’s shaken up the typical Xbox experience for me if nothing else.

I figured Mark of the Ninja would have a few for collecting its hidden haikus and completing its level-specific challenges so I ventured back to the stages I’d missed them in. The game also has Achievements for finishing a stage without killing anyone, finishing a stage without being detected and one for doing both in the same stage. I was determined to get all three Achievements in one go, presumably on the first stage as it would be the least challenging.

A Shattered Stronghold’ was the last stage I needed a challenge seal in, one of the most complex in the game with sandstorms that obscure your view and explosive traps all over the place. The challenge was to retrieve some keys without using any ninja items so I started out with stealth kills in mind. Nevertheless, I found myself avoiding detection altogether even though I was pretty sure this wouldn’t be the stage to do it in. “This is a stupid idea,” I thought as I approached an area with criss-crossing sniper sights. Later it was a narrow passage full of loose and loud debris with guards and dangling explosives. Even with the game’s most useful ability unlocked it was amazing to see there really was a way through without so much as raising an enemy eyebrow. Even more amazing that I was able to pull it off.

By the time I saw the tally screen above I had nailed four Achievements in one super stealthy go. In fact it was so stealthy the Xbox didn’t even ba~goink at me with notifications… oh, right. The only thing I have left is finishing the New Game Plus which makes things tougher but lets me keep all my ninja gear. It’s been great so far and even with the extra challenge I’m feeling decidedly ninja-powered in dealing with these fools a second time through.

Achieving: Tales of Pointless Self Reward in Games retold in brief posts whenever we feel like it.

Achieving arthritis and more in Kung Fu Rider

Yup, that about sums it up

Even at the height of my Achievement hunting madness I was never terribly determined to “get them all” on any one game. It was cool if I could but usually there’s at least one multiplayer or time trial type Achievement that I know I’ll just never get. So it surprised even me that I’ve been so determined to “S Rank” Kung Fu Rider on PlayStation 3. There’s also something to be said about 100% completing a motion controlled game. More than quick witted thumb work, this took actual physical dexterity and endurance; it’s kind of a sloppy game to play and one that can quickly wear out your waggle arm. Looking at Raptr and Giant Bomb data it’s one that a lot of people have clearly given up on — so, yeah — I’m pretty proud of myself.

Mostly it was the CHAIRMASTER and MEDAL COLLECTOR trophies that I was afraid I’d never see. According to Raptr less than one half of one percent of players have ever gotten them to date. That’s the territory I usually never have the stamina, dedication or attention span to make it into. As flaky as the controls can be the game makes no consolations when it comes to scoring. Getting an S Rank on every stage requires a nearly flawless run and a high combo. The game is constantly throwing things at you to knock you off your seat but as I’ve played I’ve come to anticipate, improvise and overcome. After so many games that call it ‘close enough’ and let you pass it felt good to be challenged again, physically and mentally.

It also felt good (for the most part) to go easter egg hunting in a big open environment again. I haven’t seriously undertaken that task since Crackdown 2, only Kung Fu Rider doesn’t want you to find its hidden tchotchkes. There’s no rumbling tone when you get near one and there’s not much distinction between them and the hundreds of other colorful, spinning things around the city. Tracking down all 120 medals helped me get those S Rank scores, too, as I found new paths through the city I’d never taken the time to explore before. It was getting pretty maddening once I got down to the last two or three medals. Rounding a corner on a rooftop I swore I’d already explored and seeing the final medal felt glorious.

A few seconds later and I got my final *g’ling* and was done with the game but, wait, there are other people out there who can’t find all the medals. Surprisingly, there’s not a single walkthrough, map, or YouTube video on the entire internet with the answers. Hmmm, that’s a niche that’s right up my alley. Maybe I’m not quite done with Kung Fu Rider afterall…

Achieving: Tales of Pointless Self Reward in Games retold in brief posts whenever we feel like it.

Repetition + Luck = Achieving!

I’ve been playing Pinball FX 2’s Pasha table since November of 2010. Not daily or even weekly — not even monthly — but off and on I’ve come back to it because 1) it’s a great table that I do moderately well at and 2) Achievements. One of the table’s three minigames is a micro-table beneath the main surface and has rows of moving targets which need to be overcome to get a good shot at two stationary targets. There’s an Achievement for knocking down all the targets and along with shooting for a new high score it has been one of my main goals every time I’ve played.

In the last hour of my last day off over the Fourth of July holiday I got into what has been my most epic game of Pasha so far. I think I hit multiball five times and I kept the ball in play for a good thirty minutes at a time. Like usual I got into the micro-table repeatedly and flubbed it up but shortly before my entire game went to crap I finally pulled it off. All the targets taken down, some obscene amount of points awarded and ba~goink! A year and a half of trying and the magical equation of luck-divided-by-repetition finally balanced out in my favor.

Achieving: Tales of Pointless Self Reward in Games retold in brief posts whenever we feel like it.

Achieving: Skill!

I’m not bragging, honestly. For as quickly as I cleared Gigatrack I know I’m in the upper tens of thousands on the leaderboards. For every gold medal I unlock Maxx trumps my best time. But there is something profoundly rewarding about unlocking Achievements in Trials Evolution. While other games have come to dole out the points for basically continuing to play them, Trials asks to see some painstakingly specific feats of skill.

Hard the Hard Way’ not only requires a flawless run on one of the game’s Hard tracks, it also asks that you do it on the slowest, entry level bike. The first time I tried it I couldn’t clear the second jump; the physics of how to get the bike over a vertical gap completely stumped me. Having played through almost all of the game now, though, I came back to it while Katy was getting ready to go Sunday morning and nailed it. A handful of restarts and I’d done it!

The ‘Unyielding II’ Achievement, on the other hand, took much, much longer. It also asks for a flawless run on a specific track but adds the stipulation that you never change your rider’s position. This may not seem like a big deal in most racing games but in Trials it’s like taking away half of your control, maybe more. I had to learn a whole new route through the course which, hilariously enough, wound up being faster than my best attempt when I had full control of the bike. It was an accomplishment worthy of recording in all the glory that pointing my phone at the screen could capture.

I normally give up on games this hard but Trials and others like Super Meat Boy and Ninja Gaiden aren’t just difficult, they’re like teachers. Instead of feeling cheap or that the A.I. is getting the advantage, these games make me feel like an apprentice. Through repetition and tasks that seem pointless (like never leaning the bike) they are teaching me new skills, not just what order to shoot things in or what speed to take a jump at. I actually feel skilled in Trials Evolution. Never perfect, never (ever) boastful but much improved. And that actually is a real achievement.

Achieving: Tales of Pointless Self Reward in Games retold in brief posts whenever we feel like it.

Achieving: New Torment Unlocked!

I completed the career mode in Trials Evolution over the weekend even though I was only partway through the first tier of Hard level tracks. I guess it’s based on the number of medals earned and probably accelerated by my determination to get a Gold medal on all the previous tracks. My reward for such dedication? Even harder to earn medals! Platinum times are now unlocked requiring, for example, that you finish the gargantuan Gigatrack with zero faults in seven minutes or less. In my shot for Gold times I had apparently already unlocked two Platinums but since then I’ve only managed to get two or three more.

One tip to cull the madness of Trials’ demanding track times and precision bike control? Go play some of the RedLynx top pick user tracks. There are some that are so punishingly rough that the official tracks almost (aallmmoosstt) feel like a breeze in comparison. Beyond that, lay off the gas. I still find it hard to think there’s any other way to win than to never lay off the throttle but it’s very true.

Achieving: Tales of Pointless Self Reward in Games retold in brief posts whenever we feel like it.