The Completionist's Torment- What Exactly is "Finishing a Game"? - Oni no Tenshi Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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The Completionist's Torment- What Exactly is "Finishing a Game"?

 

I will admit it.  Even though I love gaming and I have all the respect in the world for most of the games that I enjoy and love, I have not truly finished most games to 100%. For example, I've reached the end of Etrian Odyssey only to find that there are bonus post-game levels that are even more impossible than the regular game and require resetting all characters to level 1 with bonus for reincarnating and reworking them all the way back up just for one dungeon level.  My brain just shut off, and so I shut off my system as well, and retired my game cartridge to the DS case I have for my games, forever to sit on the shelf of my completed games until I wish to try replaying it.  There are games that I've actually beaten, such as Digimon World or any one of the Pokemon games that I've played.  But most of those games allow you to continue to roam the world even after you complete every single objective.  In Digimon World, you have multiple farms with digimon on them that you can cultivate infinitely.  And you can always go and have random battles until the cows come home.  So even if you get to the end, you still don't really get a true END.  

Looking swanky in those invisible Hero's Clothes.

The closest thing I ever got to truly completing a game was with Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time- most Zelda games have a definite end- and if you try to start from the start screen, you either get the option of a new game plus one (in Windwaker, you got some cool extras if you replayed the game- such as playing the game in your Outset Island attire and being able to understand the cryptic language of the various guardian characters), or, as in Ocarina, you just start out at your last save spot before you fight Ganondorf.  Same thing with Majora's Mask- you beat the game and that was that- there were no more save spots and after you see the credits roll and get to "The End," you're done.

And then there are the accidents.  As a kid, I was very very careful with my Gameboy and my games.  But somehow, even though I stored them with care and did all the right things, my Donkey Kong Country game (which had been saved all the way to the end fight with King Krool but I hadn't quite beaten him yet because he jumps around like a cheap jack-in-the-box) had erased everything and I was stuck restarting from the beginning.  But by that time, I had lost faith in my cartridge.  I worried that I would get to the end only to be thwarted again, so while I would play a level over again here and there, I never tried to get to the end again.  

Gardevoir because...there does not need to be a reason because CUTENESS.

And recently, when I did Pokemonth, I played Pokemon Ruby.  Unfortunately, my GB Micro fell out of my purse and the game smacked the ground, which somehow made the cartridge both ERASE my file (when I was all the way at the end of the game) *AND* it wouldn't save ever again.  You either had to leave the system on forever or restart from the beginning every time you turned it back on again.  Needless to say, I am veeeeeeery interested in the new pokemon games (X and Y respectively), and I am very excited about being able to play them when they are released (and maybe do a special POKEMONTH 2- ELECTRIC BOOGALOO event?  Stay tuned!).

I remember the very first game that I completed as a kid.  Super Mario Land- which was hard enough to play because you had to play from the first to the last level in succession without any save mechanics whatsoever (if you pick it up on the 3DS shopping channel, you can now save your progress, but let me tell you- back when it was just the gray brick and the gray cartridges, you were all on your own and even four new batteries weren't any guarantee.  When I got to the end and Mario gets into the plane with Daisy, I almost expected the DONONONONONONO bad guy music to transform Daisy into another monster and run away, but instead, I was treated to the most melodious happy music I had ever heard.

And even in this age of orchestral game music, this music still gives the ol' 8-bit a run for its money.

Plenair because...well...who else can ride a shark with an evil bunny?

But beyond that, I can tell you that I personally have racked up over 200 hours in both Disgaea 1 and 2.  And Disgaea is actually a special case because unlike most games, it actually has MULTIPLE ENDINGS.  In fact, Disgaea is designed to make you go through each of these endings (and sometimes the "normal" ending multiple times) in order for you to complete everything possible to complete in the game.  Out of all the games that I've owned, Disgaea is the only game that I have that made me very glad I purchased the strategy guides (they don't just give you the answers, but they can help you learn basic strategies to get your mind honed in on some of the best ways to powerlevel and make your characters very strong).  And as far as "amount of game for amount of money," these games have hands down out-content-ed every other game I own (and the best part about the PSP releases was that I got all that awesome bonus multiple endings, secret levels, extra hard different story mode, etc as part of the game instead of as lame, extra-cost DLC).  In fact, I actually own the DS version of Disgaea because they made Plenair a playable character, and what could be cuter than a girl with ribbon-bunny ears shooting characters with scary looking weapons on the screen?  Nothing, right?

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Even more than a "game over," I kind of dread that "The End" part of the game.  After all, once the game is over and you've figured out all the nuances, fought all the baddies, finished all the side quests, talked to all the NPCs and generally finished saving the princess/world/universe/whatever, there's no more game.  Just like how, on a hot night, it feels so good to slide your feet into all the corners of a nice cool bed until it all warms up to your body temperature, but once everything is warm and blah feeling you can't go back.  All you can do is remember how good it felt before.  The first play through of a game is like that feeling- a new discovery, a new adventure that keeps you guessing.  Even though I have played many of my games over again, there is still no real way to get that wonder and curiosity- that spark of adventure- that you get when you step into a new digital world and begin your journey.

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So what are your thoughts on "The End" versus "completing everything possible in the game"?  Are they one and the same to you, or do you consider them to be incredibly different in their own ways?

How many games have you gotten to the end and beaten, but not completed 100% of the things possible in them (side quests, etc)?  How many games have you actually completed to 100% of everything possible?

And finally, what is the one final boss fight that is the most memorable for you, either for being the most epic, the most cheap, the most awesome, the most disappointing, or the most hilarious?

I look forward to hearing from you soon!

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