The Case for an Achievement System on Nintendo Consoles

I admit it. I’m an achievement junkie. Well, to be clear, I’m a trophy junkie, since I own a PS3, but “achievements” is the more common term. It’s fun to see what I have accomplished in the games I’ve played and it’s also fun to see what my friends have pulled off. The problem is that I’m just not as passionate about Playstation games as I am about Nintendo games. This is why I would like to see an achievement system for Nintendo consoles.

Achievements can be a divisive subject among gamers. Some view them as a superfluous gimmick that only caters to the whims of people who need constant validation. To these people, achievements distract people from the real purpose of play games (to have fun) and instead have them picking at obscure aspects of the game like earning exactly 777 coins (I’m looking at you, 3D Dot Game Heroes) to get some arbitrary prize. Others view achievements as a fun way to really test your skills or celebrate your progress in a game and then show it all off. I fall into the latter group.

Achievements Already Exist in Many Nintendo Games

Nintendo likes to zig while everyone else zags, so it is no surprise that they would not have achievement system by now.

…except that they already do, of sorts. Many recent Nintendo games make a little note when you have accomplished certain things. New Super Mario Bros. Wii gives you a star next to your save file when you have defeated Bowser, when you have completed all of the levels and when you accomplish other feats. Mario Kart does the same when you score a certain amount of stars in all of the cups in all of the CCs. Wii Sports Resort as “stamps” you can earn by performing well or doing tricks in the various minigames. Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Kid Icarus Uprising both unlock content through an achievement system. Even the Streetpass Plaza as a long list of “accomplishments”. These are all separate achievement systems that would simply need to be be linked together through a player profile (say, a Mii) and shared online with your friends via the new Nintendo Network.

Nintendo Can Give Achievements More Meaning by Having Less of Them

One of the criticisms of achievements is that there are too many stupid ones. Some games give you achievements for simply completing a tutorial or killing your first enemy. Others are so obscure or tedious that no one in their right mind would want to put in all that effort, except to get that achievement. I agree with these criticisms. Too many achievements spoil the system. So what should an achievement be?

An achievement should be something that you would be proud to tell your friends about. In a Nintendo achievement system, beating the second quest in the Legend of Zelda would be an achievement. Killing 10,000 enemies would not. Finding all of the heart pieces in the game would qualify. Getting your first sword would not. Slimming down the list of achievements to very difficult tasks or large milestones would go a long way to giving them more value. Imagine having an achievement list showing that you found the Minus World in Super Mario Bros., that you found 100% of the items in Metroid Prime and that you completed all of the Exhibition Challenges in Punch Out!! Wii. Only the big stuff makes it.

Achievements Do Not Detract From Game Quality

I’ve heard a number of times that developers shouldn’t bother with achievements and instead focus on great gameplay. I doubt, however, that the development of an achievement list takes too many staff resources away from the core game development. As mentioned above, achievement systems are already integrated into many great Nintendo games anyways, and the experience on them is not impacted.

Achievements Are a Fun way to Track your Gaming History

Do you remember the first game you ever beat? Did you discover and complete all of the secret temple levels in Donkey Kong Country Returns? Did you find all of the green stars in Super Mario Galaxy 2? These are all part of your own gaming history. Nintendo fans should be able to share their gaming histories with other players, and an achievement system is little more than a way to do that. Nintendo has the most passionate fans in the world of gaming, and I am sure that they would like to share their achievements with one another.

There Would Be a “Nintendo Feel”

I have no doubt that if Nintendo were to adopt an achievement system that they would put their own stamp on it to make it fun, unique and engaging. They would probably adopt something softer like collecting badges or stickers, but it would definitely feel like Nintendo. You could use them to unlock special content. Perhaps it would be integrated with Club Nintendo. 10 coins for a badge anyone?

What do you think? Should Nintendo adopt an achievement system for Wii U and 3DS? What elements would you incorporate? Or do you simply not care about achievements?

Great Obama photo courtesy of Zelda Informer. Pokemon Badges by JohnRiddle20 of Deviant Art.