If you’re a perfectionist video game player, you probably have a love/hate relationship with the concept of collectible items in game. After all, you haven’t really beaten a video game unless you’ve collected each and every single tiny item hidden by the developers for you to find, right? Some of these items are necessary to complete the game, while others are a fun diversion that ends up taking hundreds of hours to complete. And then there’s the character collecting in RPG-esque games like the newly released Nintendo 3DS game Yokai Watch, which adds a collectors’ mentality to obtaining new team members for your party. Yokai Watch follows a young boy’s quest to “befriend” over 100 different types of yokai, Japanese spirits that are invisible to the human eye. The game is already a hit in Japan and Nintendo is hoping Yokai Watch will be the next big international collectible sensation.
To celebrate the release of Yokai Watch and commiserate the many, many hours people will sink into the game, here’s a look at five of our favorite “collectibles” in video games:
Pokemon might be the ultimate collectible RPG game. After all, it’s original tagline is “Gotta catch them all!” In Pokemon, trainers capture and battle hundreds of weird animals known as Pokemon (short for Pocket Monsters), while collecting Gym badges and stopping the bizarre schemes from sinister criminal organizations. While the original Pokemon games only had 150 collectible Pokemon (plus one mythical Pokemon that players could only obtain via a special event), the Pokemon universe has expanded to include over 720 monsters of assorted rarity. The really cool/frustrating thing about the franchise is that some Pokemon are only available by trading, which means that you needed at least one real life friend if you truly wanted to catch them all. Nintendo eventually helped their anti-social Pokemon players out by creating a “Global Trade System”, which allows players to trade Pokemon over the Internet, totally ridding the face to face aspect of the game.
In case collecting over 700 different Pokemon (many of which aren’t available in the certain versions of the game) isn’t enough for you, Nintendo also introduced the concept of ultra-rare “shiny Pokemon” way back in 2000. These variant colored Pokemon are super-rare, meaning that a player could play the game for hundreds of hours without ever encountering a shiny Pokemon. Nintendo just announced that they would release the original three Pokemon games (Pokemon Red, Blue and Yellow) on its 3DS Virtual Console in 2016 to celebrate the games’ twentieth anniversary. Better get your Pokeballs ready.
The Legend of Zelda franchise has plenty of recurring items to collect in each game, ranging from heart pieces to weapons to songs. In Ocarina of Time, arguably the greatest Zelda game of all time, Nintendo added a new collectible wrinkle to the game. When traveling through certain areas of dungeons or towns, Link often heard the familiar rustle of a Gold Skulltula, a relatively non-lethal form of a common Zelda foe. By killing the Gold Skulltulas, Link weakened the curse placed on a rich family living in Kakariko Village, who now lived as hideous Skulltula hybrids. As family members reverted to their original form, the family would give Link rewards, culminating in an unlimited source of rupees...right after you really didn't need the in game currency any longer. While the Skulltulas were a relatively superfluous part of the game, killing all 100 Skulltulas was a badge of honor on par with beating Battletoads for the first time or collecting every power star in Super Mario 64.
Although most of the Batman: Arkham series is about putting Gotham’s entire criminal population in permanent traction, much of the puzzle solving in the game came from collecting hundreds of Riddler trophies hidden throughout the games. The trophies first appeared in Batman: Arkham City as a challenge for Batman left by the Riddler. However, the trophies weren't just a useless collectible. After collecting the first trophy, the Riddler revealed he kidnapped several innocents and imprisoned them inside elaborate death traps that Batman could only locate by collecting so many Riddler trophies. In total, there were over 400 Riddler trophies in Arkham City (plus an extra 40 if you had the Catwoman DLC content), leading many to wonder if the Riddler should be doing something a little more productive with his time.
While "extortion files" replaced the trophies in Batman: Arkham Origins, they returned in Arkham Knight, setting up a final confrontation between Batman, Catwoman and the Riddler. At the end of the game, the GCPD locked the Riddler up for good, presumably for littering the city with over 600 of his stupid trophies.
While most collectible items aren’t really important to the main plot of the game, the Chaos Emeralds from Sonic the Hedgehog are a central part of the franchise. The Chaos Emeralds are seven all-powerful crystals capable of bestowing a near limitless amount of chaos energy to their holders. Many of the Sonic games feature Robotnik searching for the crystals to power some sort of doomsday device, only to be stopped by Sonic. In Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and several later games, you could collect the emeralds by completing “Special Stages”, collecting rings and dodging bombs on a three dimensional halfpipe. Of course, those stages were incredibly hard in two player mode, as Tails hindered your view and often ran into bombs, ruining all your progress.
Collecting all seven emeralds resulted in the player unlocking a “Super Sonic” mode (think Super Saiyan, only with hedgehogs), granting Sonic the ability invulnerability and flight for as long as Sonic had enough rings to fuel the form. If you had all the emeralds, you also triggered an alternate “good ending” in several of the games, usually with Sonic kamehamehaing Robotnik into the next universe…or something like that.
Lego Character Tokens
The popular Lego series of video games is a nightmare for video game perfectionists, as there are hundreds of side quests and collectibles to find in each level. While the Minikits and Colored Bricks have been a part of the Lego games since Lego Star Wars (the first Lego licensed game), TT Games introduced a new wrinkle in Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4: character tokens. While older Lego games allowed you to simply purchase characters with in game currency, many of the new Lego games required finding hidden character tokens to unlock the characters. Many of the character tokens would only be found after completing a specific sidequest or puzzle, which added hours of extra fun (or frustration) onto the game. The character tokens were a particularly big part of Lego Batman: Beyond Gotham and Lego Marvel Super Heroes, so if you wanted to play as beloved lesser characters like Squirrel Girl or Kid Flash, you had to find their character token first.