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May 8, 2015

Top 12 Bonus Nintendo Challenges

We’ve all got video games that we love. And chances are that there are video games, among the ones we love, that include sidequests. Or bonus dungeons. Or bonus bosses. Or unlockable, ultra-hard levels. You know, all those things that are not necessary to beat the game; maybe they are, in fact, necessary to get 100% completion, but many gamers won’t give themselves the trouble to do them. Yet, they should. After all, can you really say you’ve enjoyed everything a game had to offer, if you haven’t completed everything in it? The full experience, or nothing!

There’s a certain charm to bonus material in a game. In most cases, these have to be unlocked, and as a result are a lot more difficult than the rest of the game. Especially in RPGs, bonus bosses are often harder to defeat than the final boss of the game. Boss Rushes, like the one in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, are also a common bonus challenge. Today, I decided to list the 12 bonus challenges I liked in the Nintendo games I’ve played, and even some in games I haven’t played. As usual, I’m keeping it to Nintendo franchises. Let’s get this celebration of bonus content started!

12. Completing the Creature Card Collection (Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards)
I suppose Kirby's on a diet, that's why he only gets the glossary
cards on the map. Besides, with 29 lives, he's far from ever
getting a Game Over.
I just stopped talking about this game, and yet I’m discussing it once more. An optional side-quest in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards is to collect data on every enemy. Kirby can’t do that himself, yet you control him through the entire game. How do you collect the info to fill the glossary, then? Simple. At the end of every level, Kirby and pals have a picnic (which implies they spend more time lazing off than doing actual heroics). On the picnic cloth, there are health-restoring items, stars that boost Kirby’s star bar (bringing him closer to an extra life) and a 1-Up. The last thing is a card with a question mark on it. Kirby has to aim well and catch the card. There’s a total of 81 cards to get, while there are only 22 levels in the entire game! Get ready to play through each level four times or more, because the card is always randomized and after a while, it’s more than likely you’ll pick up cards you already have. And that makes Kirby cry.


11. Star Coin Chase (New Super Mario Bros., New Super Mario Bros. Wii, others), and Extra World
Don't miss it, Mario!
The recent main series Mario games are usually a huge fetch quest for Stars. Just think of the original Super Mario 64, which had 120 Power Stars. The recent Super Mario Galaxy also has 120 Stars, though only half of them are required to go beat Bowser. The Mario platformers that came out in the past ten years implemented something similar with the Star Coins. Three per level, they are anything but necessary to beat the game – and the final boss. Though getting them will often help a lot. In NSMB for the Nintendo DS, you needed them to open new paths leading to Toad houses, pipes, and other good stuff. Paying 5 Star Coins to open these paths also gave you the opportunity to save your file without having to wait till you’ve beaten the next boss. These Star Coins come back in NSMBWii, where you can pay with them to unlock bonus videos in Peach’s Castle. Also, getting all the Star Coins in a world unlocked that world’s level in World 9, a bonus world not unlike Star Road from Super Mario World. The Star Coins also show up in NSMB2 and NSMBU. Collecting them is always a challenge that will keep you busy for hours, exploring every single part of every single level.

10. The road to becoming a pro (Wii Sports series)
Pro at bowling? Ah, puh-leeeaaaase, that's the easiest one.
When one thinks of additional challenges, they won’t always think about sport games such as Wii Sports, or its sequel, Wii Sports Resort. And yet, there is one bonus, self-imposed challenge in each of these games. You see, every time you play any sport in these games, you get points once you’re done. A graph appears with your score so far. The better you perform, the more points you get… but there’s a catch: the game will expect you to become better and better every time, so you’ll get less points if you perform as well as before, and you’ll LOSE points if you get a mediocre score compared to what you achieved previously. The goal is to reach 1,000 points through repeated matches. When you reach 1,000, you are considered a pro, and you get a few aesthetic extras. Your bowling ball will have stars on it now! …Great prize, isn’t it? If that’s not enough for your completionist desires, Wii Sports Resort has also included five “achievements” for every sport (including variations) that you must try to earn. Some are easy, others are insanely difficult. And I'm not even discussing the Champions...

9. Culex (Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars)
What's that??
One of the most common places to find bonus challenges, extra sidequests and the like is in role-playing games. These games will frequently include bonus dungeons and extra bosses that are very difficult to beat. Another common occurrence is that the bonus dungeons and bosses in RPGs are harder than the actual final dungeons and bosses in the game where they appear. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars follows the trend with Culex. Since SMRPG:LotSS was made with help from Square-Enix, they decided to include a little reference to Final Fantasy. Culex isn’t waiting at the end of a dungeon, though reaching him is pretty challenging (and expensive), with a long fetch quest leading to Mario and crew getting the key to a mysterious door in Monstro Town. Behind that door, the cast fights Culex, who appears to have transcended realities, having travelled from a Final Fantasy game. For beating him myself, I can assure you: He’s insanely hard to defeat. He uses four elemental crystals (another FF reference), and the five enemies have, in total, more HP than the actual final boss, Smithy. Good luck if you battle him. You’ll need it.

We're having an out-of-franchise moment!

8. The Cave of Ordeals (Zelda series)
Two Darknuts mean you're screwed.
Four Darknuts mean you're f***ed.
Anyone who has played a game in the Legend of Zelda series knows that these games are packed to the brim with sidequests and items to find. I’ll go back on those a little later; for now, I’m discussing a particular bonus dungeon in Twilight Princess, which I reviewed last year. The Cave of Ordeals is found in a recluse part of Gerudo Desert. It’s a dungeon comprised of fifty rooms, with enemies getting tougher and tougher on every floor. And it keeps going for 50 floors. Every tenth floor is home to a Great Fairy, who will then start appearing in other Fairy Springs located around Twilight Princess’s Hyrule. The difficulty gets pretty high, since the 49th floor is home of THREE Darknuts. For the record, beating one of those is already pretty difficult. When you complete it, you are brought back to the surface… but you can go back to the Cave of Ordeals at any time and try to beat it a second time. For the record, it’s gonna be EVEN HARDER than before. The 49th floor will contain FOUR Darknuts. You better be a champion at controlling Link if you want to survive.

7. Seeing Red (Pokémon HeartGold/SoulSilver)
That might sound like a lie, but I didn't find him
all that difficult to defeat. I had been level-
grinding for a month before going to see him.
Just like in the Legend of Zelda series, there are dozens of things to do in every Pokémon game. There are tons of challenges that you don’t actually have to do, but you get a nifty prize if you do. That, or it helps towards your completion of the darned Pokédex. There are so many Legendary Pokémon to catch, so many strong trainers to defeat… Talking about strong trainers, the strongest one of all can be found in the remakes of the Gen 2 main series games, Gold and Silver. Why the remakes, specifically? Well, in the original Gold and Silver, you could climb up Mount Silver, which itself is a pretty cool bonus dungeon. On top of the mountain, a familiar face was waiting for you: Red! The ever-silent protagonist of the first Generation would then challenge you with a team of highly-levcled Pokémon. He was the very definitive final boss. In HeartGold and SoulSilver, Red’s Pokémon went up numerous levels. His strongest? A Level 88 Pikachu. Holy crap, good thing it isn’t a Raichu! Beating him is optional, but it helps towards completing the Dex, since it will allow you to gain two additional Starter Pokémon, one from Oak and one at Silph Co., respectively.

6. Pits of 100 Trials (Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Super Paper Mario)
I don't like this place. But I hate the Flopside pit even more.
Though it does give a lot of EXP.
Being an RPG series, we find bonus bosses, quests and dungeons in all the Paper Mario games. However, one of the best ideas can be found in the second and third games. In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Mario can go in a bonus dungeon called the Pit of 100 Trials. It’s located next to the final dungeon, and in it Mario has to fight his way through 100 rooms and defeat all the enemies on the way. Thankfully, he has a moment of rest on every tenth room, where he also earns a new badge that will improve his capabilities, but still… Oh, did I mention there was a bonus boss to defeat at the end of the Pit? Bonetail, a mighty undead dragon. Not enough? Super Paper Mario grabs the concept and amplifies it. First is the Flipside Pit of 100 Trials, which works the same, with a boss at the end and all. But wait, there’s more! For those who want a really hard dungeon, there’s the Flopside Pit. All the enemies are dark, powered-up versions of other enemies. Still not enough? To encounter – and fight – the boss of the Flopside Pit (a shapeshifting entity named Shadoo), you have to go through the Flopside Pit TWICE. Enjoy!

5. Insane Bonus Levels (Yoshi’s Island… and some others)
Put simply, a single screen capture is not enough to convey
all the difficulty of the extra levels in this game.
Bonus levels in platformers aren’t easily accessible like bonus dungeons. You’ll often have to work if you want to find them. You don’t stumble into them while doing the main quest, you have to actively search for them. And of course, those bonus levels reflect exactly the kind of player you might be if you went ahead and found them: A tough one, ready for anything. So these bonus levels are going to be difficult. VERY difficult. The example that comes to my mind is Yoshi’s Island (better known as Super Mario World 2), where getting both bonus levels was an arduous task (this game is a platforming Hell), and these bonus levels are even crazier. On a lesser note, we can include the Special World of Super Mario World, found at the center of Star World, or World 9 of New Super Mario Bros. Wii. And the Lost World in Donkey Kong Country 2. And the extra game in the first Kirby’s Dream Land, where you only have three Hit Points and the enemies are faster.

4. Hunting for Hearts, Bugs, Souls, Masks (Zelda series)
You're gonna be searching Heaven, Hell and Hyrule for those.
What’s the fun of the Legend of Zelda series? Blindly completing the dungeons in the required order? Nah, that’s not it. Completing Story Mode? Nope. The open-world exploration? Oh, Hell yeah! Looking for all the treasure chests? That too! Completing every single sidequest, collecting all the objects? Now you’re speaking. A sidequest in all Zelda games since A Link to the Past involves finding all the Heart Pieces scattered around Hyrule. A tough little challenge that forces the player to look everywhere. However, there are three additional sidequests that I enjoy in the Zelda series. The first two, as you may have guessed, involve Twilight Princess. You have to look for and pick up twenty-four insects for the self-proclaimed Princess of Insects Agitha, who lives in Castle Town. She hands out loads of Rupees to Link when he brings bugs to her. Next is a guy who wants Wolf-Link to fight 60 Poes scattered around Hyrule, get their Souls and bring them to him. That’s huge. In Majora’s Mask, we have the quest for all the Masks. Sure, some of them are found during the adventure, but then there are some that you really have to look for. And thus, you need to explore.

3. Boss Battles Bonanza (MANY games, especially the Kirby series as well as Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story and Dream Team)
Yeah, I took a picture from Super Smash Bros. Brawl, even if
it's not actually a bonus challenge.
A neat mode to add to any game where bosses are fought is the Boss Mode. Super Smash Bros. Brawl has one. Lots of RPGs have one, and many platform games have one as well. In fact, a lot of Kirby games seem to have a Boss Mode in them somewhere. You unlock one in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards when you beat 0². there's a kind of “Boss Battles” section in the final level of Kirby’s Dream Land. The Kirby series loves its Boss Battle modes. No wonder they added one in Brawl… On the RPG side of things, two examples that come to my mind are the Challenge Node and the Battle Ring, both from the Mario & Luigi handheld RPG series. The former has the Bros. fight in The Gauntlet (within Bowser’s body) against six bosses fought by the Bros. during their adventure, ending in a seventh fight against all six bosses AND a powered-up Bowser. (Bowser in Bowser… Bowserception???) The second one, in Mario & Luigi Dream Team, lets them fight against Normal AND Giant bosses from the game. In both cases, all the bosses have more HP and have better attack patterns. Get ready, there is gonna be some finger gymnastics right here!

2. Completing the Pokédex (Almost all Pokémon games)
Pictured here: An organized nightmare.
Yeah, you knew it was coming. One of the most difficult challenges in all of gaming is to complete the Pokédex. Look for any Pokémon game where you’re collecting the creatures, you’re most likely going to have to catch them all. And evolve many of them. And breed them. And look everywhere. And defeat every Trainer. And trade with everybody you know who is a Pokémon fan and who owns games of the generation you’re playing. That last part is the most tedious, though it’s been somewhat lessened by the Dream World, the Wonder Trade and other similar things implemented with Generation 5 and beyond, which have helped many gain new Pokémon that couldn’t be caught otherwise in the game. Let’s theorize, however, that you have one member of every Pokémon evolution family, one of every base form. You still need to make them all evolve to their strongest forms AND breed them (if you want one of every existing Pokémon, of course). It takes insane amounts of dedication to complete the Pokédex, and a lot of luck also helps. That’s part of why I liked Pokémon HeartGold. Given time and resources, you could find more than two thirds of all the Pokémon by journeying through Kanto and Johto, and by planning with the Safari Zone. In the end, trading was still a necessity, but at least it wasn’t as horrible as it once were. To my knowledge, I completed the Pokémon on only one Pokémon game I ever owned, and it was Pokémon FireRed, which I reviewed in 2013. You can also “complete the Pokédex” in the Pokémon Rumble games, though for the first one you’re limited to Gens 1 and 4, which makes things a little… messy, to say the least. But at least that meant only having to find about 260 Pokémon… Either way, you want a challenge that will keep you busy for days, weeks or even months? Complete the Pokédex. Earn that damn diploma!

1. Trophies, Stickers, oh my! (Super Smash Bros. Brawl)
The last one is an odd type of bonus quest. Is it really a sidequest? Not quite. Is it the main game? Neither. It’s more like a list of things to collect. Sure, you can complete all the challenges in the game. That’s why I didn’t include much from the Smash series until now on this list. There are Boss Battles, multiple modes, and getting 100% completion in the Subspace Emissary mode isn’t all that hard. No, in the Smash games, the really tough part is to get every single trophy (and in Brawl, every single sticker). To achieve something like this, you don’t just have to touch to every single part of the game, but you also need to excel at every part (losers don’t get trophies, am I right?), even the ones that are extremely difficult. Sure, you can sometimes use a golden hammer to free yourself from a challenge, but the hardest ones cannot be escaped… Oh, and let’s not talk about the fact that the trophies and stickers you get, on the battlefield or in the Coin Toss minigame, are randomized, which means you also need luck to get the final trophies missing in your collection. And this time around, you can’t count on your friends, because this isn’t Pokémon. I never managed to complete my collection in Brawl. I hope, someday, I will be able to do so. I hope you, reader, have been able to do so. I admire you if you have. Now, can you come over to my house and beat Boss Battles on Intense for me? Pretty please?

Well, that’s it for this list. Another long one, but a fun one. All I can say is this: Gamers, cherish the bonus material in the games you own. It’s there for your enjoyment, it’s there because they decided they wanted to give more to the player than just a story, an intro, a conclusion and everything necessary to go from one to another. Enjoy those. Do your best to see as many of those bonuses as you can. Hunt them down. You’re missing something great if you don’t.


Next week… Oh, I’m not in the mood to review a movie this time… Maybe next time. A TV show would be too long, too… Hm… Has anybody seen the trailer for the upcoming movie, Pixels? How about I do an article on it with my thoughts on the trailer, on the short film that preceded it, and on another execution of the same concept? Tune in next Friday!