Since the Xbox 360 introduced them back in 2005, I’ve become quite addicted to Achievement hunting and in the last couple of years, I’ve noticed that this has affected the way, and reason, I play games.
For the non-gamers here, an “Achievement” is when you complete a certain action or task in the game, and you get a notification on screen to let you know what you did along with a number of points that go toward your overall Gamerscore. Every achievement is different, with a different amount of points, as determined by the game developer. It could be something as stupid as pressing the start button (The Simpsons Game), completing the game (most games), or something extremely specific and hard (any of Gears of War’s ‘Seriously’ achievements that require hundreds of hours of play).
When I first got my Xbox 360 and started playing, I found something extremely satisfying in seeing the ‘Achievement Unlocked’ icon appearing on the screen accompanied by the now famous blip blop sound, upon completing certain in game actions or tasks. Sometimes, it can be the one thing that can push me to finish a particularly unimpressive or otherwise bad game (or “Trophies”, for you PlayStation fans). My current Gamerscore is around 90,000, and higher than that of anybody on my friends list. Month on month, I’m at the top of the leaderboard of my friends list for points gained.
Fast forward to 2017 and I haven’t really played anything new in the last couple of months, with the exception of Injustice 2 and the Crash Bandicoot Remaster (both of which are awesome). So rather than go to the gym more regularly, or fix the house, or do anything productive, I took this chance to do something that I’ve wanted to for some months, and something that could have lost my credibility amongst my gaming friends; I brought a Wii U.
The Wii U is a dead console now, with Nintendo putting their full focus on the Switch and not releasing any more first party games. On top of that, the Wii U is considered a commercial failure, for various reasons concerning price, hardware, amount of games released, focus on children and more. It never really hit its mark or sold as Nintendo would have liked. What made me buy one then? As much as I sometimes hate their business decisions and practices, I was raised on Nintendo consoles as a kid, so I’m always drawn to their products. Also, I wanted Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, but I didn’t want a Switch due to its launch issues and very weak game library (it’s still new and will take time to build). Finally, given that the console is now at the end of its lifespan, I thought it would be the perfect time to get a cheap unit and experience an entire back library of games at my leisure.
So, after some haggling at Rehab complex, I walked away with a nice bundle of console, controllers and games and went home to play. Naturally, most of my time has been spent on Zelda which really is a game that deserves place amongst top 20 of all time. Other than that, I’ve been playing multiplayer games with the wife, mainly Mario Kart 8 and Super Mario 3D World. We have been having such a blast on them that both our Xbox and PS4 have been off since bringing the Wii U home.
I haven’t unlocked a single Achievement in over a month. Which in itself, ironically, is an achievement.
I’ve simply been playing, enjoying and experiencing games as they’re meant to be. As I used to. It’s been a pleasant realization that I actually can do this without an OCD need to squeeze an extra 20 points from a game that I have little interest in. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t STOP playing for achievements. I want to see my Gamerscore go over 100,000 this year. But I definitely won’t be settling for half-baked or just outright bad games anymore in order to get my fix.
If you too have an Achievement or Trophy problem, and think you may need help, it’s never too late. Just seek out Dr. Mario and prescribe yourself a daily dose of Nintendo.