Top 10 Lists : The Top 10 Longest Optional Tasks In Video Games
People tend to play video games for a number of reasons. For some of us, we like to escape our reality and go into a fantasy world that is possibility better than our own reality in some way. For others, we may like the sense of achievement we get when we end up accomplishing some difficult task or making the highest score. Sometimes, we like to make choices, to make us feel like we matter. Some of us lucky ones (depending on how you decide to look at it) get to play video games and get paid, be it as beta testers, strategy guide authors, or otherwise. But, sometimes, we will at one point revert to the catch-all category...
Playing video games just to burn time.
When you think about it, that's just about all video gaming can be at times. We want something to do, but we want it to be entertaining - who wants to really mow the lawn or go shopping when you have a brand-new, just released Final Fantasy, Mario, Grand Theft Auto, Borderlands, Mass Effect, or whatever game it is you love to play, sitting there on the table in its little plastic covering? It's a travesty - that game must be played! Let the grass grow, or go hungry for a few days - I'm going to play this game! You're playing it because you love it, and feel like burning some time.
Of course, I'm overexaggerating a little bit here, as there are things that do come before video games. But you get my point, I hope - a majority of the time, we play video games to have something to do when there's nothing else (important) to do. The focus of this Top 10 List is to try and cover the top ten tasks in video games that take the longest to complete. This is at least meant to beyond the obvious ones that are omnipresent in many games - power-leveling early in RPGs, or hitting every brick in a Mario platformer. I mean the legitimate stuff you do on the side as a sidequest - collection, completion, stuff of that sort.
If you really want to burn some time, this is probably the place to look. I hope you enjoy!
Approximate Time: ~75 hours.
As you would probably say, for this and a few other games in this list, "playing every level" would sound like something you're expected to do. Trust me, for these examples, it is not. In Godzilla, for instance, your world is a gridded field. (You might want to head to the FAQs page for this game to see the map.) In each level, you are to solve a puzzle by breaking all of the rocks in the level. You then get arrows telling you where you can go. For example, from the first level, you can go east or south a level on the 8x8 grid.
In the end, you really only have to play just over two dozen of the sixty-four levels. "Eh, sixty-four, not much." True, if you're playing like you would on, say, Super Mario Bros., which is linear. However, if you want to actually play every level, if you look at the aforementioned map, you'll find that this is not as easily possible. (And just imagine if you were going blindly like most other people were.) You could easily play the same level two, three, four times, just trying to figure out if you'd played every level yet, and get exasparated at having repeatedly played the same level. In the end, I estimate that I ended up playing, including repeats, somewhere around 150 levels last time I played through the game.
Approximate Time: ~80 hours.
Dragon Buster II takes place in a relatively open world. You are set down in a field or other such area with one goal - go to the mountain of the region and kill the dragon there. Scattered haphazardly across this overworld map, impeding you, are a number of other minor dungeons. They increase in number and variety as you continue throughout the game, as well as difficulty. You don't need to play every one of them - sometimes, you can get by with around five in a region of thirty or so - which is why I put this on the list.
All taken together, there are somewhere around 170 dungeons in the game. They are not quite simple, either, if you're going blindly. See, each dungeon has a number of ways to loop in upon itself - kind of like the Lost Woods in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - and just teleport you to the other side of the dungeon. And you won't know this, either, unless you pay a bit of attention to the lighting scheme in the rooms or have been using a map you or someone else made. Assuming you're not doing so, it's not entirely unreasonable to spend around half an hour in a dungeon that can take under a minute to finish.
Mathematically put, that puts you at around 80 hours - a little under half an hour (my going-blind average) per 170 dungeons. Admittedly, you probably will learn the patterns to the dungeons with practice, but there are also multiple types of dungeons - one cave, for example, is known to have at least four different layouts. Sometimes, in the end, you'll go blind. It sure takes a while, eh?
Approximate Time: ~100 hours, if you don't mess up.
(There are minor spoilers associated with this entry, so you know.)
Dark Cloud 2 is well-known as a game if you just want to do stuff on the side. Playing a basic playthrough of the game may only amount to maybe thirty hours total, but there's so much else to do. One of the bigger sidequests would have to be the invention one, where your primary goal is to take a picture of everything that could be used in an invention, or at least inspire Max into inventing something. For example, to invent Tasty Water, you need to use the ideas of a Bottle, Fountain, and Waterfall.
There are sheer hundreds of such pictures throughout the world. Granted, a lot of them are fairly obvious ones, especially ones that aren't usually used - Bed, Stairs, Lamp, Vending Machine, Water Wheel... The list goes on and on. There are also special pictures called "scoops". These come in relatively fewer numbers because they're often associated with a dungeon boss or special event - like taking a picture of your time-traveling train, or of the first dungeon's boss shooting a missile at you. These, too, are sometimes and sometimes not used in inventions.
A lot of these are specially hidden, either to be non-obvious or to look like something else. Notably, early on, you'll find a Vacuum Bag right next to (or possibly being) the trashcan in Cedric's Shop. Or you might just not know that there are several shots of Paznos you take - Paznos is suppsoedly Paznos, after all. This can result in you missing shots, making it impossible at times to finish the sidequest. At a base level, I would say that I racked up around a hundred hours on my file last time I tried this successfully, but that's barring the need to replay the game over that one picture.
Approximate Time: ~125 hours.
Angry Birds often strikes people as an easy game. They're not exactly right - it's simple, but not always easy. The trilogy compilation released in the fall of 2012 is perhaps one of the greater examples of this. It compiled together the original Angry Birds, plus Seasons and Rio. This, plus a number of extra levels, amounts to the neighborhood of around 700 levels.
To the uninitiated, Angry Birds relies on the age-old concept of knocking over structures and dealing damage (and killing pigs in this case) to earn points. More points leads to more stars. You max out at three stars in this game, representing your relative mastery of (or just good luck on) this level. Most levels can be played pretty quickly, taking under a minute, to get all of the stars in it - there are a fair few levels where you just need the one shot.
But then there are those other levels, in which you really need to think... Really need precision... Just the slightest thing wrong and, before you know it, you've screwed up and done a bunch of intense work just to get two stars. You'll easily play the same level around ten times in some cases, especially in the case of the extra levels, which have special, often annoying designs to showcase the physics of the game or its potential challenge.
With around 700 levels, I've managed to three-star somewhere around 80% of them and have racked up around 100 hours insofar. It wouldn't be too hard to expect 125 to even 150 in this quest.
Approximate Time: ~175 hours.
In Mario Kart 7, Nintendo decided to make truly customizable vehicles. It went beyond the weight-class system of Mario Kart Wii to unlocking parts by, primarily, collecting Coins. Coins appear on the thirty-two racecourses of the game. You run into them to collect them and add them to your total. Your total can max out at ten per racecourse, but maintaining that total is not so easy.
Coins are easily taken by getting hurt. Hit with a Koopa Shell? Bye bye, Coins. Fell into some lava? Bye bye, Coins. Generally, getting hit with an item or falling off the track will subtract Coins from your total, so God forbid someone other than you gets that lightning bolt item! You'll usually end up sustaining totals of around 5 to 7 Coins per track once you get skilled enough. After you end the race, those Coins are added to your record.
Most races will also usually take about two minutes to four minutes, depending upon what happens in the track and its length. Mathematically put, you could have (20,000 / 7 * 2 / 60) hours of gameplay to (20,000 / 5 * 4 / 60) hours, depending on your own skill and ability to maintain these totals. (For the record, that is 95.2 ~ 266.6 hours, which averages out at around 175 hours.) By earning all 15,000 of those Coins, you'll have finally earned the majority of the kart parts for the customization process.
Approximate Time: ~180 hours, without using a Wonder Mail S generator.
In pretty much every one of the five Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games thus far (and probably including the new one set to come out in March), you'll find that the majority of the game is oriented towards doing rescue missions. You have a rank assigned you through this and this can allow you to unlock more dungeons and other features. These rescue missions will earn you a certain number of points towards this rank, primarily depending on how difficult the mission is. For example, if your goal is to defeat a Magikarp, you're going to get less points than if you were somehow assigned to defeat Dialga. The points can range from easy missions at 10 points to brutal missions that often take place in dungeons that reduce you to Level 1, which are typically worth 1,500 points or so.
Of course, these take place, technically, in the form of Wonder Mail S's as well. These allow you to send missions to other people, which is also the source of a number of generators for such mail on the Internet, which can allow you to get missions to grind for stuff. Granted, no Wonder Mail password will ever determine mission difficulty, only the dungeon and floor will, so there's no "easy grinding" for Guildmaster Rank. Guildmaster Rank is the highest rank and it'll take up the majority of your time to reach versus the other ranks. By the time you are ready to go for it, you'll usually need somewhere in the supposeable neighborhood of 65,535 points.
"So, yeah, I'll generate 44 missions to Zero Island North after B50F." It's not even that simple. While that is the least time-consuming way to do it, you still need to actually get powerful enough to pass Zero Island North, where the Pokémon can go up to Level 90 or so, I believe. You're rarely Level 40 or 50 by the end of the game, so you know, and you pretty much need to do that with four Pokémon. In the end, you'll either spend most of your time on grinding for numerous Zero Island North missions or grinding through other missions. Either way, last time I hit Guildmaster Rank, my play clock was somewhere at 180 hours.
Approximate Time: 200 ~ 400 hours, depending on numerous factors.
Perhaps the largest legitimate sidequest of Final Fantasy X involves the Monster Arena. See, in this game, your weapons can have abilities, one of which is "Capture". Capture allows you to, if the weapon with the ability kills an enemy, capture enemies, bringing them to the Calm Lands, found fairly late in the game. You also don't really get the ability to "Capture" unlocked until around then.
Now, the Monster Arena is meant to contain every enemy species in the game that can be captured. That basically means all non-boss enemies, which, if you know most formal enemy bestiaries in Final Fantasy games, can be quite extensive. And then that means you have to go through every dungeon, including the brutal Omega Ruins. But it's not just enough to capture just one of each enemy. Would it ever? But more on that soon enough. Anyways, as you capture enemies, you'll unlock various optional bosses. The majority of these require some amount of grinding in the Omega Ruins to be able to beat them in an appropriate amount of time.
Then some are still unbeatable - they can require particular spells or items or equipment abilities. More grinding! Of course, as I said earlier, some bosses will not just stop you at capturing one enemy - sometimes, you need two or three, and the game needs ten, I believe, for you to fight the hardest boss in the game. That basically means you can easily waste 100 hours wandering around for ten rare encounters, and another 50 to 100 grinding up for the bosses, or at least the hardest boss, who is supposed to have somewhere around ten million HP. I've yet to actually beat him, but I've caught ten of each monster and beat the other bosses, and my play counter is around 400 hours now.
Approximate Time: 300 ~ 500 hours, depending on skill and resources.
In the final Guitar Hero game released before the series was shut down, there were a number of changes. Quickplay+ was one of those changes. In it, each of the around-ninety songs are assigned different challenges. These "challenges" are basically in the form of "get a ton of points", "hit a bunch of notes", or "get a bunch of Star Power". The better you do on each challenge, the more Stars you get. These Quickplay+ Stars go towards a rank, which, as it goes up, a number of things are unlocked. I don't yet know of its maximum, but the final Cheat in the game is unlocked long after the other cheats at Rank 99, which takes around 2,900 Stars to get to, and there are more Ranks beyond this point.
Since the Christmas after its release, I've been aiming to get to this rank. I've only been able to use the regular and bass guitars, as are most people with this game, though other instruments can help out somewhat due to there being challenges for every instrument (guitar, bass, drums, vocals) and a band as a whole. It is very much possible to do it by yourself on a guitar, though. I'm already around Rank 97, myself, and I've racked up somewhere around 300 to - and I'm just estimating here - 500 hours on the game trying to mete out every Star. Some of those challenges are astonishingly difficult, even on Expert (where some are supposed to be easier to get), primarily due to the music selection being primarily centered around shredding metal. It's a fun challenge, so I put time into it when I can, but ... it's often so hard.
Approximate Time: 750 ~ 1,000 hours.
Pyramids of Ra is a game I came across during the course of the GameBoy FAQ Completion Project. There's a good reason why it's there, too. This game contains an absolutely massive number of levels - well around the 20,000 mark, according to the manual. Each level consists of a number of tiles. Your goal is to make the ball move across them in such a way that you can get back to the start and shatter every tile. It initially sounds simple, but some tiles can take two or three tiles to hit, or you may need to use special tiles to jump you across to somewhere. It can get hard fairly easily, in theory - it's usually quite easy, at least to me.
In each level, as you bounce across these tiles, you rack up an "energy" stat. This basically shows how many rooms you go ahead. So, in reality, you can readily skip around 100 levels just by beating a level on the first try. Now, you're trying to complete every level here. Therefore, you need to realize the difficulty in trying to literally control the "energy" counter so that you get "1" by the time you restart. It's annoying, no? You can only do that by actually losing enough times as a start, but, beyond that, it's usually pure luck.
Of course, you could always find a list of all of the thousands of passwords and work that way. That definitely reduces the need for trial-and-error or multiple replays. Still, on average, each level will take around three minutes to beat - according to my average anyways, taken across around a few hundred levels I played for fun - which can amount to easily 700 hours, depending on your cognitive skills. Hence the large estimation above.
Approximate Time: 2,500+ hours, unless you get lots of lucky trades.
Pokémon as a series is well known for its slogan: "Gotta catch 'em all!" From the 151 of the original games, to 649 in the fifth generation, with a sixth starting this October, we've got a lot more on our hands regarding catching every Pokémon. Frankly, this means you've got to play every mainstream "Version" and others released after 2003 - Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, FireRed, LeafGreen, XD: Gale of Darkness, Colosseum, Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, SoulSilver, Black, White, Black 2, and White 2. Those alone can easily amount to 640 hours (40 per playthrough), and that's not including the Pokémon found after beating the Elite Four. It can quickly amount to 1,000 hours or more, just trying to catch those rare Chanseys that appear 1% of the time or getting every starter Pokémon in every region, and then you have to satisfy a number of conditions to make these Pokémon all evolve.
But there's more. Not only are you shelling out around $500 for a huge number of video games and $100 for a working Nintendo DS/DS Lite at minimum, not to mention $150 ~ $200 for a 3DS with Pokémon X/Y Versions in the fall of this year, but then there's traveling to all of the Nintendo Events to get special, rare Pokémon like Deoxys, Arceus, and Genesect that aren't otherwise available. Then you've got to complete those short events. Chalk up a few hundred more dollars and twenty more hours, unless you're lucky to get enough trades.
But Pokémon B/W and the sequels finally broke the time counters on this one... The Pokédex includes different Pokémon forms. So, to truly complete the Pokédex, you need to catch every form of every Pokémon that has one that differs. (You're lucky in the case of Spinda, who has over eight billion of them, I think.) That means you need to abuse the RNG to get Shiny Legendaries (1/8192 chance most of the time) and Shiny starters, then get Shinies of everything. Then you need to get the 3DS for the Dream Radar for the Therian Formes of the elemental trio in Black and White Versions, and the differing formes of various gender-based Pokémon and... Well, you get the idea. All in all, with the base quest easily amounting to 1,000 hours or more, plus the true completionism of the Pokédex in the rare formes, you could easily see 2,500+-hour quests and $1,000+ debts. I doubt people will give away Shiny legendaries, after all, and it does take time to turn off, turn on, load, and try again - it took me several weeks just to get my Shiny Rayquaza. Pokémon, as a series, definitely has spawned time-burning sidequests, hasn't it? (Not to mention money-burning...)
It's readily evident how far people will go to just spend their time, or let people spend their time. When you've got sidequests in a game ranging to hundreds and thousands of hours of time taken up, you know you've gotten people addicted to it when it actually becomes a legitimately-considered sidequest. (Heck, I have no doubt in my mind that Pokémon will one day number into the thousands and people will go nuts over completing those Pokédexes.) Completing these sidequests definitely feels amazing, even if in part - even something so minor as saying that I've maxed out my Photo Level in Dark Cloud 2 or gotten Guildmaster Rank in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky can bring a smile to my face.
These tasks are hard, yet often entertaining. Some of them have burned thousands of hours from my life, whether it be because I wanted to write FAQs for them (as I did with seven of these ten games) or was bored one week and didn't go to sleep or something like that. And, yet, I probably wouldn't have had it in any other way, in the case of the ones I have completed. I enjoyed myself playing them, and many other people have had.
Anyways, I hope you have enjoyed my listing of the top ten longest optional tasks in video games. If you didn't, I offer my apologies, and I guess I'll be offering them plenty if this list is featured - there is plenty of subjectivity in what should be and shouldn't in this list, after all. Well, feel free to offer your comments and/or trolls and flames at the Top 10 Lists message board at the link below or e-mail me through my contributor link below. Thanks for reading.
List by KeyBlade999 (01/30/2013)
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