One Star, Two Star, Red Star, Gold Star… - subsaint Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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One Star, Two Star, Red Star, Gold Star…

You might think the title sounds like a Dr. Seuss book and the truth is it kind of was inspired by One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. But don't worry, similarities pretty much end at titles. This blog is going to discuss the different attitudes associated with in-game progress and whether you're the kind of gamer that proceeds with the game at the first opportunity you get, or the kind of gamer that has to get the best rating on each level before proceeding.

There seems to be a trend, especially among mobile and social media games, where your progress is limited until you complete a level, and each of these levels has varying degrees or methods of tracking your achievements or progress. It would probably be easier if I give you a few examples to illustrate this concept.

In Angry Birds (pick a version) you start the game with all the levels locked. You play the first level and earn one, two or three stars based on your performance (score). If you unlock one star, you can move on to the next level.

In Candy Crush you start the game with all the levels locked. You can play the first level and earn one, two or three stars based on your performance (score plus any objectives you have to meet). If you meet the objectives and score high enough to unlock one star, you can move on to the next level.

Now, this concept of game play is not limited solely to mobile and social media games.

In Mark of the Ninja, among the other objectives like finding the three scrolls, you can earn up to three stars per level based on your completion and performance. But you can proceed without earning all of the achievements if you so choose.

I'm currently playing through New Super Luigi U, the spin-off to New Super Mario Bros. U. Both games are for the most part identical, and in each game you can finish the level and move on. But hidden in each level are three large golden coins. Sometimes finding them or getting them can be a real challenge. Either they are hidden somewhere on the map, or they are in a precarious position where reaching them can (and often does) lead to your untimely death.

In extreme cases you have games like Battlefield 2, with a number of badges that are bronze, silver or gold. Getting the bronze badge in each expertise was hard enough...but getting them all in gold was nearly impossible (I don't think I ever unlocked the Armor badge - something about sitting in a tank for 400 hours to meet the requirement was too much for even me).

Okay, so hopefully now you can kind of see what I'm getting at. All of these games, while seemingly unique and different, share a similar element with this mechanic of gameplay -  the various levels are locked; you unlock them by meeting some minimum standard; or you can master the level by achieving all of the set goals.

Now the question is...

Are you sort of gamer who proceeds after you unlock the next level...or do you have to master the level and receive the stars or coins or whatever the marker might be before continuing on?

Clearly there isn't a right or wrong answer. In fact, there are advantages and disadvantages to playing either way. I only wish I could. I'm the sort of gamer who has to get the three stars before I move on. Sometimes I wish I wasn't like that, especially after I play and replay a level for hours trying to get that illusive third star or coin so I can proceed on my merry way. Oh, sure...it's tempting. Seeing the next level just sitting there, waiting...wondering what mysteries it holds. But on those rare instances when I get so frustrated with the level I'm stuck on and give in and move on, it's almost like this big failure alarm starts buzzing and flashing and I have to quit and go back to the level I'm stuck on. I think this is true of every game I have listed above, especially Angry Birds and Candy Crush. I've literally played certain levels I've been stuck on for hours and hours...the stuck level several dozens of times.

When I think about that, it seems like a bizarre concept...waiting to proceed because of one teeny tiny level. I've played some games that have only taken hours to finish. I think I beat Limbo in like 5 hours and some of the latest First Person Shooters in 8-10 hours of game play. I think I finished Bioshock Infinite in just over 10 hours. I'm scared to think of how much time I've burned playing Angry Birds or Candy Crush. More than 10 a piece, I'm sure. But try as I might, I can't proceed until I actually get the three stars.

Now I know not everybody is like this...like me. But I'm sure I'm not alone. I know there are some who are ready to move on as soon as they get the next level unlocked, regardless of how many stars they earned. To them, beating the level is beating the level. I suppose they could argue they are winning. In a sense, they are "ahead" of me, since they are further along. When I think about it that way, then my mind wrestles with the logic of that argument and I wonder if I should try it. But when I do...yep, you guessed it...the failure alarm rings again. I guess I'm programmed for three stars or bust.

It's okay though. I've never met a star I couldn't get...with a little hard work, lots of luck and a few hours of gameplay, you can get them all too.

Have a great weekend.

Cheers.

 

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