Getting to 1,000,000 coins: developers should reward gamers better

We’ve spent the last few months of our lives playing a decent yet not great Mario game with the 3DS’ New Super Mario Bros. 2. The big draw of that game was coins, coins, and more coins, and it certainly delivered. Nintendo kept saying you need to get to one million coins in the game and then something special and awesome happens. You know what happens? Squat. Nada. Nothing. Zero.

A game that knows how to make grinding a lot easier to deal with than most others.
A game that knows how to make grinding a lot easier to deal with than most others.

Okay, you get a trophy on the menu screen. Big whoop.

A game where you grind for coins, medals, levelling up, or anything like that, needs to have some value and a real reward waiting at the end of the tunnel for you. Playing through NSMB2, every 50,000 coin interval would prompt the game to give us a little message and encouragement to keep going. Needless to say, the encouragement was pretty much the same when we actually hit the million mark. Yay! Congratulations! Okay, bye.

Pokemon has always done a great job at forcing players to grind without making it feel like they’re really grinding. There’s a purpose, and it evolves the story (no pun intended) and gets you further in the game. You need to grind a little bit to level-up your Pokemon, but even then you don’t actually need to if you’ve been playing each of your characters equally.

There’s a payoff in Pokemon that means something. One, because your characters have faces and seem to have emotions, you feel a weird sense of pride when you’ve helped them evolve to their next stage. But a game like New Super Mario Bros. 2? We were shafted. We thought there’d be a download code for a downloadable level or two, perhaps a million coin level where you get to the next million faster than you ever thought you would be able to do, or something awesome to share with your friends via StreetPass.

The "awesome prize" you get for cracking the 1,000,000 mark.
The “awesome prize” you get for cracking the 1,000,000 mark.

We’re not here to destroy Nintendo over the game. In fact, we reviewed it, and found it to be quite a decent game, if not a little derivative. The point here is that developers – all of them – should reward players for completing a game and some ridiculous objective, especially if it make stem grind for it. Microsoft and Sony have achievements and trophies, respectively, and sometimes that is enough for short term challenges and tasks. Those kinds of things make it far easier for a developer to reward its players.

But when a developer decides to make you grind for something for days, weeks, and maybe months (our Activity Log for the game showed we played the game for over 55 hours, surpassed only by The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and our five play throughs of it), there should be something more adequate than a little trophy. In Nintendo’s defense, Nintendo Australia is mailing certificates to gamers who hit the million mark if they take a photo of themselves with their 3DS showing more than a million coins.

We buy games because we love games. Nothing makes us as gamers happier than finding little surprises in our favourite titles, especially when we’ve done something awesome. So show us some love.