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Monday, September 7, 2020

Don't Put Multiplayer-Required Achievements in Games

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - These are the worst kinds of achievements, besides that one Super Smash Bros. Melee trophy requiring Pikmin save data.

Last week, I accomplished an amazing achievement: A 249/256 Heroic Rank in Team Kirby Clash Deluxe!

Team Kirby Clash Deluxe heroic rank 249 no wireless quests
Heroic Rank: 249/256.
Total High Score: 115075. (Without use of Attack Potions.)

The difference between that heroic rank and the one portrayed in my very popular The Optimal Way to Play Team Kirby Clash Deluxe guide from 2017 (Heroic Rank 237/256)? In the years since, at a rate of 14 Gem Apples every 12 hours (and I was definitely not optimal at picking up my apples, especially since the game tries its best to be a pain in conveying information) I bought out all of the weapons from the shop AND upgraded all of them to their deluxe version. This requires needing a lot of Gem Apples (the wait-to-play mechanic), as well as Rare Fragments, though Rare Fragments you'll get from normal gameplay.

All that is left are seven missions. One of them is “Complete all of the Heroic Missions.” The other six?

Team Kirby Clash Deluxe heroic missions clear a wireless quest 25 times
I can't get a wireless quest done 1 time.
You expect me to do it 25?

It's “Clear a wireless quest, X times.” X being 1, 3, 7, 10, 15, and 25. Those are the six remaining missions. (So it's 25 total wireless quests to complete all of the remaining Heroic Missions.)

What is a wireless quest? You have to get another 3DS and play local multiplayer with someone else who has Team Kirby Clash Deluxe, which could be anyone with a Nintendo Network ID and a stable Internet connection, due to it being a free-to-play download.

That's still out of grasp for me, as someone who doesn't know anyone locally with a 3DS. I mean, I have another 3DS... but it's kinda broken and there was a big deal about transferring all of my data away from it to my new one. (Which is dying as well, just in terms of battery life and not a mechanical failure.)

Therefore, I'm probably never going to get a Heroic Rank higher than 249, and if you see anyone who does have a higher rank, then they either have multiple 3DS systems or friends who do. Though if your rank is, say, 252/256, I'm willing to guess you've done 25 wireless quests and you're missing three other kinds of missions.

This isn't the first time that Kirby games have multiplayer-only achievements. Kirby Air Ride notoriously has some, including this one:

Kirby Air Ride Top Ride checklist more than 50 multiplayer races unlock purple kirby
Multiple thoughts here...
More than 50 multiplayer races? Why not just say “Compete in 51 multiplayer races!”?
Why is Purple Kirby (the best colour) locked behind this achievement?
Finally, it's a good thing that this Sakurai checklist gives you five freebies. (Purple square.)

At least on a Nintendo GameCube, you only need to buy an extra GameCube controller to do multiplayer. That is a lot less expensive (at least, back in the early-mid 2000s) than buying a whole other 3DS system.

Still, these kinds of achievements serve little more than game developers trying to artificially achieve network effects on games that probably don't have any business trying to have those. Maybe they just really want you to know that their multiplayer mode is AWESOME, and the one time you have friends over, you better play it 51 times. (Or, if it's a first-party Nintendo game, they just want to sell more controllers.)

It's a better situation on the Nintendo Switch, because each Switch (except for the Nintendo Switch Lite... so nevermind) comes with two Joy-Cons, and each of those can be someone's controller. That makes local multiplayer a possibility at all times, as long as you either have another person, or you can play with one hand each. Unless, of course, your game is too complicated for one Joy-Con and it requries a more robust controller.

Achievements that someone can't complete on their own just punish completionists who may live in remote areas or in places inhospitable towards gaming (or that specific game), as well as the low-income. This also includes achievements requiring online multiplayer, especially if the system you're playing on requires a separate subscription fee to use online. ESPECIALLY if you plan to remove online servers from your game one day. (That said, it's slightly better how, say, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate did it, where online mode got its whole separate challenge board, and all of the Smash mode challenges where local multiplayer would take place can all be done with CPU players.)

Don't put these in your game! (A possible exception would be if your whole game is based around multiplayer and no one would play it if they weren't going to play it multiplayer, I suppose.)

Ludwig has nothing left to do with Team Kirby Clash Deluxe, so he'll probably stop turning it on and selecting the Wandering Adventurers. That said, while he can't prove it due to there being no tracking code associated with it, Ludwig does think that Wandering Adventurers is a somewhat effective way of bringing traffic to the site! Ludwig also will note here that Kirby Air Ride and Team Kirby Clash Deluxe, despite both being Kirby games, have different directors associated with them, so they likely came up with their respective multiplayer-mandated achievements separately.

More on achievements in games that require you to own the game during a certain timeframe or have that save data from other games.

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