Is 100% Completion in Nintendo Games Getting Tougher?

Back in the early days of the NES and SNES, completing games to 100% completion was not a particularly tedious or challenging affair.  Oh sure, the games themselves were harder to reach the final boss/ending in, but for the most part, 100% completion was pretty much achieved via just doing what opened up in the course of the storyline. Wanted to beat Mario Kart?  Get gold on all cups.  Mario?  Beat the final boss.  But has this changed in ‘recent’ years?

I think it has.  Just compare what you needed to do to get 100% in each Mario game over the years:

[table id=31 /]

It’s obviously not perfect, but admit it, the criteria for getting 100% completion has certainly gone up significantly over the years.  And when I say 100% completion, I mean it.  You have to do this stuff to see everything the game has to offer, since only the stuff in the table is work you’re rewarded for.

And I’d say the rule seems to hold in every other Nintendo franchise too.  In Mario Kart, beating everything has gone from ‘get gold trophies in all GPs’ to ‘get three star ranks in everything and beat the expert staff ghosts in every single track’.  Zelda?  That’s gone from ‘beat game, maybe twice if a second quest exists’ to ‘complete the Nintendo Gallery, fuse kinstones and dodge cuccos for 17 minutes straight’.  And Pokemon?  Well, I guess the increasing amounts of Pokemon weren’t enough for Nintendo, so now they make you do a ton of other, somewhat irrelevant sidequests if you truly want 100% completion!  Hope you enjoy going through all those contests and battle towers and what not to get shiny stars on your trainer card!

Above: How the heck is anyone who isn’t a saint supposed to beat DKCR’s mirror mode?

Other things that seemingly contribute to this ever increasing barrier to 100% completion include silly little in game achievement systems which it seems every single recent Nintendo title has to have (like Dream Team’s Expert Challenges or Wario Land Shake It’s ‘don’t get hit’ challenges for every single level), the star rankings which seem to have spread from Mario Kart to just about everything and all manner of other little things.


Above: Does every new game need Mario Kart Super Circuit’s Star ranking system now?  What was wrong about just ‘get gold in all cups’?

So there’s definitely a tendency to push the definition of ‘game completion’ ever upwards within Nintendo.  But why does it exist?

My answer? The internet, and decreasing storyline game difficulty levels.

The former means that walkthroughs exist and can take most of the challenge otherwise (or in Pokemon, let you simply trade the ones you need from random people on internet forums).  So I suspect a lot of these extra challenges are kind of like a last ‘roadblock’ put in place to stop people beating the games too quickly (or perhaps to act as bragging rewards for those who like showing off on social networking sites).  And the latter means that it’s the ‘100% completion’ stuff that’s now designed for those who actually want a challenge.

However, I still have to admit I’m not a huge fan of these increasing ‘requirements’.  I feel like they’re kind of punishing those who just don’t have the endless reams of free time that other gamers have, and that they act almost like a ‘screw you’ to anyone with actual real comittments outside of video games.  Think about it? Who’s got the free time to get all this extra stuff?  To complete all this tedious busywork?  Only fairly young kids and college students.  Those of us with other stuff to work on are pretty much losing the possibility of actually completing our games.

It’s especially bad when you literally can’t screw up for hours on end in some overly difficult, annoying mini game challenge.  Cucco dodging?  How the hell is anyone really supposedly to last 17 minutes here if even the development team themselves failed?

And let’s not even get started on the Giant Battle Ring in Mario & Luigi Dream Team’s Hard Mode.  I basically just said ‘screw it’ and left it by now.  Too much hassle for a bunch of shiny virtual trophies that don’t actually do anything, and merely torment those interested in 100% completion or with severe OCD.

Above: It’s difficult to do this in normal mode.  It’s near suicide to attempt it in Hard Mode.

All in all, I feel like 100% completion in Nintendo games is just getting annoyingly frustrating nowadays, all because of some desperate attempt to challenge a tiny minority of hardcore ‘internet gamers’ who just want more and more challenge in their game’s optional content. Good for the people with a lot of free time I guess, but for those of us with actual priorities and other things to do, it seems like 100% completion is becoming a virtually impossible goal in quite a few of the company’s recent games.


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Cole HolbrookGold47 Recent comment authors
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The Mario table just reminded me of how many Mario games there were in the last couple of years.

Cole Holbrook
Cole Holbrook

I think it’s fine to have games like that. I guess it doesn’t bother me if I don’t have 100% but at least in ALBW I was fine with beating the story and havng all of the upgrades. The cucko thing was never something I thought I had to do.