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Sometimes I find myself thinking a lot about the little things in video games, things that other people might overlook completely, yet somehow, they stand out to me as something particularly unique and intriguing. One such thing is the collection screen. Many games have collectibles, which you can find by exploring the world or accomplishing tasks, and some games will have a screen dedicated to viewing the things you've collected. Sometimes these screen might be a bit boring, but every once in a while, I'll come across a game where it's very clear that someone put a lot of time and consideration into making their collection screens fun and interesting.
My favorite example of this can actually be found in my all-time favorite game, Katamari Damacy. In Katamari, you spend your time rolling up random objects, people, and places into giant balls, and each unique item that you roll up is recorded in a collection. You can view every item that you've found, but the best part about Katamari's collections are the unique descriptions that somebody wrote for each and every item in the game. The descriptions are often hilarious, and were written from the point of view of The King of All Cosmos, who clearly has a very warped perception of the human race and the things that they use in their everyday lives.
I can imagine some gamers all but ignore these screens, maybe just checking them to make sure they've found everything, but I actually enjoy going through and reading every single description. I'd get excited whenever I found a new object in the game, wondering what the King had to say about it, and obsessively completing the entire collection just to read every last word. I think it's awesome that it was somebody's job to write all of these things; they clearly had just as much fun writing them as I did reading them!
A few of my favorite Katamari item descriptions:
Peach - A butt-shaped fruit that is more tasty than butts.
Canned mackerel - There appears to be fish inside. The fish may not be alive.
Gum (pack) - There is a trap which looks exactly like this. Be suspicious.
India ink - Black liquid for writing stuff. Squids puke this, but they are not writing.
Nail clipper - Used to clip human claws. We wonder if it hurts.
Flashlight - Very useful during blackouts, but difficult to find during blackouts...
Handcuffs - If you do something really bad these may be used on you! Or if you are good...
Many other games have created unique collection screens like this as well, offering all kinds of information to entertain and educate gamers as they collect things in-game.
Space Channel 5's collection screen gives you information about the civilians and aliens that you rescue throughout the game, with bits of trivia about their personalities and statistics, including random things like their blood type or their favorite ice cream flavor. This information is entirely unimportant to the story of the game, but still fun to read. Actually, the Space Channel 5 team made their collection screen even more interesting by including a sort of mini-game, where you had to talk to certain people in a particular order within the collection to unlock special outfit options for Ulala. I love getting rewarded for my completionist habits!
The trophies in the Smash Bros. games are another interesting example, as Nintendo used the trophy descriptions to relay a lot of different information about the history of the company, the games they made, backstory for the characters, and more. I learned a lot about Nintendo games just from reading the trophy descriptions, including some Nintendo games I've never even played, like Cubivore, Doshin the Giant, The Legendary Starfy, and more. Not to mention, looking through the trophies in Smash Bros. actually got me to play some Nintendo games I'd never tried before, including Earthbound, Animal Crossing, and Chibi-Robo, all of which I absolutely loved!
I still remember seeing the Totakeke, Tom Nook, and Mr. Resetti trophies in Melee and being excited for whatever game they were going to be in!
Other games use their collections to educate players with factual information. I spent a lot of time reading up on all of the biological information about the sea life in Endless Ocean: Blue World, via the in-game encyclopedia which unlocks as you discover new species while diving. I learned a lot about different kinds of fish and other creatures that I'd never heard of before, and also reaffirmed my knowledge about the animals I was familiar with.
Another game that went with the educational route was Valiant Hearts: The Great War, in which you can collect war memorabilia and read up on historical tidbits related to those items. I actually didn't know any of these historical facts before, probably because I never really paid attention in history class. History was always my least favorite subject in school, but somehow, Valiant Hearts made learning about history fun! It's like studying and playing video games at the same time... crazy!
There's even a small little (free!) indie game designed specifically around its collection screen. The game is called Tanaka's Friendly Adventure, and the joy of the game comes mainly from finding friends and learning about them in the collection. The actual gameplay is not very exciting; you literally just walk around and choose different paths until the game ends, and every new path you take unlocks a different friend. Yet somehow, I couldn't pull myself away from the game until I'd managed to find all the friends. It's really bizarre that such a simple, non-challenging game (a "walking simulator," if you will) could be so enjoyable to me, but it was. They took an often overlooked game feature and made an entire game around just that, and it made me smile.
Does anyone else enjoy browsing collection screens in games? Any other good examples? It's not something that a lot of people mention when talking about games, even though you can find them in many games. I really just wanted to express my appreciation for these things that tend to go unnoticed. I love that there are people out there who work hard to make these screens interesting for gamers, even though they probably never get feedback from gamers about their work. But surely there are other people besides me who enjoy perusing their in-game collections, right?
I like to try using as many different characters as I can when playing Smash. I usually rotate through a rather large list of characters, including Lucas, Ness, Diddy Kong, Bowser, Wario, Olimar, Ice Climbers, Jigglypuff, Pokemon Trainer, Falco, Ganondorf, or maybe try someone new. But there's one character who I always come back to, someone who I feel I can claim as my own, at least among my group of friends.
King Dedede was by far my favorite fighter in Brawl, and he'll no doubt stay my favorite fighter in Smash Bros. 4. But why do I like him so much? I mean, I never had too much investment in the Kirby series, although I do really like Kirby Super Star and Kirby 64! Still, something about Dedede just makes me love him.
He may be the bad guy, but he's just so happy!
At least in Brawl, Dedede always has a huge, infectious grin which makes me happy just looking at him! It makes me wonder how such a happy guy could be the arch-enemy of Kirby, but then again, does Dedede ever do anything truly evil in the Kirby games? Usually, when he does something bad, it's because he's been possessed by some greater evil. In fact, he's sometimes even seen helping Kirby out on his adventures. I don't think Dedede is really a villain. Perhaps he just has a healthy rivalry with Kirby.
He's a penguin! (maybe?)
Everyone likes penguins, right?
For his final smash, Dedede does the happiest dance ever!
Other characters might have giant laser beams or armored tanks or impressive sword techniques, but how does Dedede defeat his enemies? By singing and dancing! His jolly dance also summons a bunch of Waddle Dees and Waddle Doos to join in on the fun, creating a hectic mosh pit of happiness. Any fighters who can't handle the groove may find themselves overwhelmed and unceremoniously bumped out of the battle!
He has an army of friends willing to help him out!
His Waddle Dees and other friends don't just help him out during the final smash sequence, either. At any point in the battle, Dedede and summon a member of his army of friends to help him fight. They can block projectiles and other attacks, provide a distraction, and even do some damage, so they're useful for a variety of situations. Plus they're pretty adorable!
His hammer is almost as big as he is!
Seriously, look at that thing. It's massive! It's almost as big as Dedede himself, and Dedede is just about the biggest character on the roster. That means Dedede's hammer is bigger than most of the fighters he's smashing with it! Not to mention he's secretly housing some kind of dangerous mechanism inside the wooden weapon, making it even more powerful. It's truly a force to be reckoned with!
He has the most impressive belly in the Smash Bros. roster!
And he seems pretty dang proud of it too!
His "crouch" is hilarious!
Instead of crouching, Dedede strikes a seductive pose when you press the down button. It makes me laugh every time :)
So basically, Dedede is the best. I don't see many other players choose Dedede either, so he feels special to me because no one else seems to use him except for me. He's a powerful, happy, lovable penguin, and he's my favorite character in Smash!