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A Detailed Cross-Examination of Yesterday and Today's Best-Selling Platform Games

August 4, 2006 Article Start Previous Page 20 of 31 Next

Pick-Up Types

This simply shows the resources a player has at their disposal. The majority of games show that they contain the following:

  • A finance icon – coins, fruits, rings, etc…
  • Extra Life – an extra chance to nav past whatever hazard killed you.
  • Power-up – an item that grants new powers allowing you to solve certain problems and reach otherwise HTR areas.
  • Hit-point-up – an item that re-fills your hit-point quota.

Oddly enough, Crash and SMB 3 are the only two games to use environmental deformers – objects, which when activated, change something in the environment into something else.

  • In SMB3, there are “P” blocks which when activated, turn finance into blocks you can stand on for a short time to reach otherwise unreachable areas
  • In Crash, you have “!” blocks, which fill and otherwise useless box-shaped outlines, into containers you can break open for finance, or use to nav over and across a kill zone

Another recurring feature of note is the use of combining pick-up properties. In Sonic, holding any amount of finance gives you a hit point. When you get hit, your finance explodes from you in a dramatic shower of gold, and you have to react quickly enough, to regain it – or at least some of it. This also gives you back your hit point.

In SMB3, power-ups give you an extra hit point and some give you two. When hit, you lose the power-up and the hit point that came with it.

Crash has a fresh take on this, where upon acquiring two hit-points, the next one you collect will make you temporarily invincible. When your invincibility wears off, the next hit point will reactivate it and so on until you lose one of the two hit-points.

3D Mario and both 2D and 3D Sonic, use dual-property pick-ups as before, but with Mario making the dramatic change from using power-ups as a way of gaining hit-points, to using finance as a way of restoring hit-points.

Also, overall results show that as time has passed, pick-up types like Quota-token: area unlock, ability unlock, event unlock and Multi-finance pickups have *massively* increased in popularity – possibly a reflection of the industry’s desire to instil replay value into a game, albeit a little crudely.

2006 Addition: NSMB not only increases the amount of duality in moves and power-ups – kicking a turtle shell onto some coins now adds those coins to your stock for instance… - it also increases the amount of bonus schemes present and accessible at one time. Now multi-coin blocks reward you with a power-up mushroom if you hit them fast enough (or use a skilfully aimed stomp on top of them and hold the button down). A super power-up now gives you the ability to exchange your ability to destroy for Extra lives and hidden invincibility stars are commonplace in the majority of early levels. If that wasn’t enough, random item boxes can appear at the beginning of a level, hitting the level’s end goal on a double digit – 11, 22, 33, etc… grants you a free power-up or Extra life and collecting the level’s key quota tokens allows you to unlock paths on the map you otherwise.

Super Mario Brothers 3 urged replayability by simply hiding lots of bonuses within the game - like special ships that would appear on the map if you met certain score conditions. Hidden shops were also expertly cloaked in the standard game levels, amongst many other bonuses and hidden pick-ups of every kind, that only the most dedicated of players could completely discover.

In Sonic Adventure, some of the bonuses are unlocked when certain plot points are cued and the rest are available to discover in HTR areas, when you backtrack after gaining specific skills and abilities later in the game.

In Jak and Daxter, you can activate ability enhancing spore emitters that grant you skills to go where you once could not. You also get upgrades for the vehicle you use in the vehicle-based levels. Only other bonuses includes an extra ending scene once a token quota is met.

In Mario Sunshine, bonuses are unlocked after you’ve met a token quota, or after performing a story relevant action. Again further bonuses can be found by backtracking after gaining additional skills.

Article Start Previous Page 20 of 31 Next

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