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field shows that as time has gone on, use of exploration bonuses have
increased and performance recorders like score systems are being
removed altogether. This is also evident when looking at the results on
Results show that HTR area bonuses mainly consist of:
This shows that developers understand the importance of rewarding a player relative to their efforts. Now of course, the choice of what to reward has changed, with developers focusing more on exploration bonuses, as opposed to skill and efficiency bonuses present in Sonic Adventure’s tough – but ultimately rewarding replay missions.
2006 Addition: NSMB decides to reward both skills and exploration, with later sections requiring either skill, the desire to explore and abstract thinking – matching up a navigational problem with a power-up you collect outside the level containing it to collect certain quota tokens.
Extra lives and continues were popular area finish bonuses in days of old, although there’s not enough recurrence in this idea to brand it as popular.
Particularly interesting is the feature in Super Mario Bros 3, which hasn’t been replicated since in any form whatsoever. The end marker is a mini-game in itself -a slot machine block.
Hitting the slot machine block at the end of a level fills one of three sequentially filled spaces with a symbol card. If all blocks are filled after three levels with the same symbol card, you are granted a bonus related to the symbol, meaning you could earn a number of extra-lives depending on your timing in hitting the roulette block.
Additionally, SMB3 has a reward where a special bonus level will appear on the level map if a set of very specific and difficult-to-meet score conditions are met. It’s a reward aimed at the very skilful or very lucky, with enough randomness to allow lesser players to activate it by accident.
2006 Addition: NSMB end level rewards are very simple and focused on either setting yourself to be able to hit the top of the end goal pole and receive a 1up or high score bonus. Also timing the jump to hit the end goal when the timer has two matching end digits – 22, 33, 44, etc… - grants the player an additional reward on the map. This can be an Extra life mini-game, a power-up roulette block mini-game or a free Giant Mushroom power-up.
Sonic 2 grants lives and continues depending on your finance quota and score.
Crash Bandicoot rewards you for destroying all the containers in a level within one life, by granting you a special platform in the following level.
Sonic Adventure, Mario Sunshine and Jak and Daxter grant you further access to later levels, as well as additional Quota tokens. Sonic Adventure has a unique reward where you unlock usable characters as you meet them. There is also a bonus where the last eight creatures you freed in a completed level become available to feed your A-life sub-character – which you can later play with in a VMU*.
Rayman is the only game that provides no end of level bonus – other than being able to access the next level.
*VMU was a memory card with control keys and a visual display, so that players could play unlocked mini-games in an outdoor environment.