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East vs. West: Japanese Trophies are better than western Trophies

on 14 March 2013

Welcome to PSU.com's hit series on the world of gaming. Join our hosts Skip Williams and Max Platinum as they give you the inside scoop on a myriad of topics in gaming. From how to catapult up the Trophy rankings to debating about the current console war, don't change that channel as there might even be some broken tables, because the debates get so hardcore!

Disclaimer: All likenesses used are for parody and/or satirical purposes.

Skip: Welcome everyone to another exciting week of Skip and Max’s Prime Time Gaming. I’m your host with the most, Skip Williams and with me as always is the doctor of trophinomics, Max Platinum. This week’s episode is going to try and bridge the gap between the east and the west as we discuss the Trophy creating philosophies of western made games compared to eastern made games.

Max: I hate you Ubisoft.

Skip: That was quick, Max. Where does all the hate come from?

Max: I don’t know if it is a French thing, or a French-Canadian thing, or some kind of sadistic thing, all I know is whoever thought of the idea of collecting 100 stupid feathers that are useless needs to be forced to get that Trophy himself.

Skip: You know you don’t need to get them. Nothing is forcing you.

Max: If I want the platinum I do, and it better not have been the same person who thought collecting a bunch of useless flags was a fun idea as well.

Skip: Obviously Max is suffering from post-Trophy stress disorder. It’ll be okay, Max. The flags won’t hurt you.

Max: I just wanted a platinum. Is that too much to ask? Why does The Boss force me to play through these stupid Trophies?

Skip: Joining us tonight is Saikou Hakkin, who has been on a sabbatical from the network. Welcome back Saikou. Where did you go?

Saikou: I went to Caribbean Bay but it was a waste of time. There were no hot singers posing as life guards like in the
Cabi Song.

Skip: Some days I feel like I’m the only person here who is stable. Moving along, Saikou, why is it games from your country have such simple and easy Trophy lists compared to North American and European companies?

Saikou: That is simple. We are too busy studying to take over the world that we need to get our Trophy fixes to be like heroine, quick and effective and getting people to come back for more.

Skip: I don’t think comparing it to a drug is the best analogy but I’ve stopped caring at this point in the series. Max, why are companies on our side of the world putting out crazier and crazier Trophy lists?

Max: Skip, one word: They suck

Skip: That is two words…

Max: But in all seriousness western companies tend to make games with multiple modes, and with stories so short that they need to fill up their games with boring pieces of bling for them to get any replay value. Assassin’s Creed is such a short game that I spent more time grinding things out for Trophies than actually playing the story. Rockstar kinda proved my point in GTA IV that they put in a Trophy for beating the game below a certain time. Do I also need to remind people about Resistance 2?

Skip: Saikou, do you think Japanese games have the same problem?

Saikou: No Skip, Japanese games have the exact opposite problem. They are so long that every game becomes a grind just because of how they are built. Take any RPG and you have a Trophy list that almost always includes seeing some sort of secret or true ending. Multiple endings are always a staple for replay value but unless you have a guide they are almost impossible to pull off the first time, making for a second or third mandatory playthrough. Those hours add up when a playthrough is 60+ hours.

Skip: So from what I am hearing from you two is that both sides produce the same kind of Trophies. They are long, tedious, and a grind.

Saikou: You are half-right about that Skip. At face value both sides look like their Trophies are a total grind but the differences lay with their implementation. Japanese games might have grinding Trophies but they tend to be more rewarding. Seeing the ending of a game is always something a person wants to do. The conditions might be hard, lengthy, and boring, but once the ending is achieved there is a sense of happiness and accomplishment. Using Max’s example, what point is there at collecting 100 feathers? The number is completely made-up to increase the life of a game at the expense of fun, with no actual value to their collection.

Max: Hey, I got a cool cape for all that work.

Saikou: And did it affect the game at all?

Max: Well…no…cause I got it after I beat the game, but that’s not the point. It was cool looking.

Skip: Max, do you think the western developers should take a page out of the Japanese playbook when it comes to Trophies?

Max: Yes, Skip, absolutely yes. I love you LA Noire. I want to marry you and make a LA Noire 2 baby, but I hate your Trophy list. Why did I need so many useless film reels? Why did I need to find so many cars that I only had to enter and then exit without actually driving? Why did you hurt me so badly? I still cry at night from your abuse.

Saikou: Is Max always this dramatic?

Skip: It’s all the energy drinks. I think he’s resorted to shooting them for any effect. Resident Evil is Japanese and Mass Effect is Canadian but they both have difficulty Trophies. Those kinds of Trophies have bridged the gap between east and west.

Max: Difficulty Trophies are universal because every company at some point has added difficulty settings to their products. The problem I have with difficulty setting Trophies is, again, they force the player to redo a task or just make the task harder for no benefit. If I got to unlock something or if I got a different ending then fine, the difficulty mattered. But 95% of the time it doesn’t matter and just makes a person rage against the machine.

Saikou: What about proving to your friends you actually beat the game on the given setting. So many people in the past could say on the playground that they beat a game on the hardest setting but there was never any proof. Now with a difficulty Trophy it can be easily proven.

Max: No one can go pro at Mass Effect or Terminator so difficulty Trophies are just another arbitrary way to extend a game’s life span in a negative way. Games like Call of Duty I would agree with you since the difficulty can help a person train to be better, but if there is no pro then it is a no go.

Skip: Saikou, if you were the Trophy programmer for a game what kind of Trophy list would you include?

Saikou: I’d make a fun but wacky list. I’m Japanese. I’m all about the craziness. But I also realize that having people punch walls won’t endear them to wanting to play my game any longer than needed. Every Trophy would be doable but make people explore parts of the game they normally wouldn’t.

Skip: Max, what about you?

Max: It would be clean and concise. No 100 feathers, no 100 wanted posters, if there is a collection Trophy it would be for something that has an actual use. I would want someone playing my game to get Trophies for enjoying the game. Story Trophies would be the focus for me.

Skip: Going back to the original topic about the different philosophies, it seems to me that Japanese developers don’t take Trophies as seriously as western developers. With the majority of Trophies being just from playing the story, it kind of comes off as an after-thought, whereas the western developers take the time to code in very tricky and skillful Trophies, with few even bothering with the storyline.

Saikou: I would attribute that to the different style of games the different demographics enjoy. Japanese games tend to be more story heavy, with sports games like Professional Baseball Spirits 2011 even having a storyline. Western games focus more on the action with the story inserted in the backdrop simply as a reason why the player is shooting his 1000th terrorist.

Max: Skip, why is Saikou here? Doesn’t he have his own show?

Skip: It got put on hold.

Max: Isn’t that a nice way to say it got cancelled.

Skip: Yes, but we had Rebekka on last week so it is not like we never had a guest host.

Max: I know but I feel useless this week. I have nothing to argue about. I agree with him about everything.

Skip: Max, you won’t lose your job.

Max: But he is the Japanese me, and we’re filming in Japan. My visa is up soon. Why would they keep me around?

Skip: Then I suggest cutting back on those energy drinks. Both of you agree on this subject. Is there anything you don’t agree on? Coke or Pepsi?

Max/Saikou: Coke

Skip: Ayumi Hamazaki or Hikaru Utada?

Max/Saikou: Ayumi

Skip: Hulk Hogan or the Ultimate Warrior?

Max/Saikou: Hogan/Warrior

Max: Could you even understand a word he said? I know you’re Japanese but even I don’t understand his English. He makes the Macho Man sound lucid.

Saikou: At least he ran to the ring and made entrances exciting instead of being a bathroom break. Look at me walk to the ring for three minutes and wave my hand around like I’m deaf.

Skip: Looks like we found something they disagreed on. Join us next week when we discuss how Trophies have revitalized the sports game market. For Max Platinum and Saikou Hakkin, I’m Skip Williams saying good night and good gaming from the Tokyo Dome. Hey, give me back my chair. Okay, never mind, I’ll stand instead of sitting on Max’s face imprint.

Missed an episode of the program? Check out the back issues to get up to speed. Have a comment about the series? You can reach the author here or at [email protected]