Monday, February 16, 2009

Radiant Silvergun: Takin the dog for a walk

Going on side quests has always been something fun in videogames, from their gratuitous presence in MMORPGs, to their hidden subtleties in other games. They're usually carried out for the sake of gaining something of value, something that makes the trip worthwhile that makes the rest of the game even more fun. Surely there wouldn't be a quest in a game that gives you nothing other than bragging rights... right? Although I'm speaking specifically of the TopBreeder ranking in Radiant Silvergun, collecting dogs technically gives you points as you collect them (some worth even 1000 pts!!!), so there's at least something to be had whilst trying to collect them all.

For those not in the know, the TopBreeder ranking is acquired by collecting all 30 dogs hidden throughout the game, in one play-through. Dogs are always hidden, needing to be uncovered by your lock-on weapon. They give off a charming little "woof" that I suppose is a reward unto itself, if you happen to like dogs - the kind of dogs that require you to go out of your way amidst hundreds of oncoming enemy obstacles with the risk of losing that 1CC you've been numbing your rump over since you finished dinner the night before.

Nevertheless, this is something I can only assume is an extension of the director's personal life, possibly a life of training and breeding dogs. It's only natural for a game designer to want to take these "slices of life" and implement them into the game for a richer experience. In this case? I'm not so certain that collecting a score and a half of dogs adds to the experience of trying to destroy the root of all evil in the world (an abridged backstory of Radiant Silvergun), though the quest in itself gives you one more thing in the game to become obsessed about perfecting. At least it's not a feature that was supposed to be an inside joke, but ended up becoming frustrating to the rest of the world.

There are so many different bonus quests that could have been added to this game. At this point, I could either go in the direction of listing more relevant quests or of listing even more oddball quests. Choosing the latter, I'm wondering why they didn't also include "porcelain ornament collecting", "replicas of the Wonders of the Ancient World collecting", and "prime factorizations of odd Fibonacci sequence numbers... collecting". Whatever. It's an added feature that was clearly odd enough to gain attention, optional yet functional, and popular enough to be talked about over 10 years after its initial release. Maybe I'm just looking forward to the equivalent feature to come with the arrival of project RS3. That's actually the primary reason I bought an XBox 360. One day, it shall be ours. Until then, go get 30 leashes and prepare to scour the depths of time and space for those adorable woofs, once again.

The magic happens when Lassie is captured at the 0:33 mark. Bottom right. Look closely.

And as always, be attitude for gains.

[cross-posted on Gamasutra]

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