Perfect by proxy
Legend holds that some folks only chase achievements they consider to be a challenge - something that demands every bit of their grit, guile and determination. They do it not for the acclaim, but for the singular, experiential thrill that accompanies victory against the odds. Like a set of housebound adrenaline junkies, these gallant gamers crave only the rush, the satisfaction that comes with these brief moments of perfection, these little flashes of wonder that only games can provide. If you've been playing for long enough, you've almost certainly experienced a few.
Don't believe me? Consider the follow eight items. All fairly common, all massively gratifying occurrences that even the worst of players will have stumbled upon (at least once). Who needs all-day cocaine binges when you can complete
The perfectly executed combo
No matter what kind of game you may be playing - whether rhythm based, hack n' slash or a straight up fighting title - racking up those killer combos can prove to be an incredibly enriching experience. That is unless of course your grey matter turns to poo-poo platter at the mere sight of a 'x2' accumulator. Sometimes it seems just knowing how close you truly are to perfection is all the excuse a brain needs to see that you never actually get there. A bit like stumbling face first into the Grand Canyon while out buying Half-life 3.
Thankfully, even the most self-sabotaging of brains requires the occasional vacation, which is why everyone - and I mean almost everyone - will eventually experience the ecstatic delight that accompanies a masterfully executed combo. Somehow, someway you'll just manage to tap into that latent ninja ability you'd always known was there, but could never quite convince anyone else existed, and for one brief, glorious moment you'll become as though a passenger inside your own body, gazing on in triumphant glee as hands run through a complex and predetermined pattern, dishing out justice and accruing oodles upon oodles of delicious points. Tell me, sensei - is it I who broke the combo, or the combo that broke me?
The perfectly executed blind run
No, not like that one Prodigy video where they tie blindfolds around people's eyes and watch them race around the city centre. This 'blind run' refers instead to the sensational act of acing a new level at the first time of asking. Yes indeedy, without the strange comfort of repeated failures and muscle memory to help guide you, besting an unseen level can be tricky business even at the best of times. Doing so at a more difficult stage is downright dazzling.
Operating on pure instinct and razor sharp reactions, the perfect blind run requires every single synapse to be firing in unison and every punch, jump and volley to be executed with impeccable precision. You wont know you're in its midst until it's all over - there are no do-overs here, no second chances to make a first impression. Truly great gamers can master any level over time, but to beat it straight out of the blocks. dodging pitfalls and brutal beginner's traps with ease... that dear readers is a thing of beauty - and the best part of all? We've all done it. Ok, maybe just once.
The perfectly executed moving headshot
If I were to hazard a guess, I'd say that Mother Nature is an FPS fan. Why else would mankind's squishy off-switch be located atop our torsos, hidden within a hard to hit coconut shape, no less? When it comes to shooting titles, the headshot is almost always the ultimate target. For the chance of downing a foe in one, you risk hitting nothing at all - firing around wildly as the enemy blasts enough buckshot into your gut to down a sugar-crazed Steve Ballmer. It's a high-risk, high-reward proposition, one that becomes even more so when attempted at speed.
Whether it's you on the move or your terrified target, successfully ventilating a speedy skull can prove incredibly irksome - as well as massively satisfying. Most of the time you won't even see it coming, so caught up in an ongoing firefight that you somehow enter The Zone by accident, zooming in on a wannabe Usain Bolt and popping his clogs without a second thought. You could try to repeat the feat a hundred times over and never again succeed, but somehow you just did. All hail the occasional gaming god!
The perfectly executed drift turn
Drifting isn't exactly the Highway Code-approved means of taking corners, but damn it if it doesn't look sexy all the same. It's definitely better as a gaming activity though. Sure, skidding your whip into a motorway barrier, flipping out and burning alive - or at least spinning wide, as less flashy drivers giggle straight past - might sound like fun to some petrol-addled street racers, but where your average driver is concerned, sidling sideways is best left to us video game drivers.
In the peculiar case of Kart racing, developers attempt to balance out these pitfalls with chargeable speed boosts, a tactic that makes proper skidding an all-but compulsory skill. When every corner presents yet another opportunity to unleash nitrus powered domination, the odds of nailing that perfect drift become that much more likely. Sooner or later, whether by luck or through sheer skill, you'll nail one of those damnable corners with absolute exactness, kissing the red/white dividing line and powering your way straight up the podium. Cue angelic choirs, rapturous applause and a high-five from the big man upstairs. Perfection, thy name is drifting.
The perfectly executed battle plan
Easily one of the most time-consuming entries on this list, the perfectly executed battle plan requires patience, professionalism and layered, long-term strategy. As such, it remains one of the rarest, most singularly satisfying of 'everyday' gaming achievements. Plumb the depths of any player's mind and they'll likely report dozens of moving headshots, inch-perfect drifts and perplexing puzzles pwned, but ask them about flawless tactical sweeps and there's a fair bet they'll have plenty less to say. To be clear, this slide mainly relates to the RPG and RTS genres, fields in which intense preparation remains just as important as proper execution.
It may only occur sparingly, but there's a fair bet that every gamer now gaming has experienced the rush of the consummate conquest. Some will have arranged their party to counter the specific strengths of the enemy, others will have organised their forces into nigh-impenetrable formations. However you manage it, one thing is for certain. Watching on as your subjects clobber their foes with the brutal efficiency of a German marching band is all the elation genre fans will ever need.
The perfectly executed pass
There's a reason most sports teams put a premium on great passers. After all, as the old saying goes. "if you don't have the ball, you can't score a goal". Unless by way of cheating of course, or perhaps some sort of black magic ritual, but I digress. Firing home an overhead volley or snatching that game-winning leather egg out of the sky might well win you a stadium's worth of acclaim, but true connoisseurs know that without that initial pass, you're just a man flailing around in the air like a corpse trapped in the Unreal engine.
The same is also true of video game sports, where goals, dunks and touchdown catches remain among the more scripted, and probability based of events. Sure, knowing your stuff may up that shots-to-goals ratio, but unlike an FPS for example, great execution isn't always greatly rewarded. Passing on the other hand, is a whole different ball game. While still somewhat dependent upon player stats, many sporting titles allow for a much greater degree of freedom in this area, meaning that when you do finally thread that inch-perfect pass to the woefully over-marked striker, receiver or shooting guard, your success feels that much more incredible.
Perfectly measured resource management
When implemented correctly, resource management can become a fount of great fun, puzzlement and immersion, an extra layer of meta-game requiring constant forethought and strategy. Used poorly however, it becomes little more than a nagging chore, akin to sifting through evidence at a crime scene composed entirely out of spreadsheets. As a mainstay of the survival horror genre, inventory management plays a much larger role in their proceedings than in many other fields, including the almighty RPG. After all, having enough ammo to take down the big bad is far more pressing a concern than fitting one more useless paperweight into your knapsack. "Maybe just one more gargantuan dragon skull for the road?".
While describing stinginess as some kind of conduit to 'gaming ecstasy' might sound like false advertising on my part, it's important to remember that it's not so much how you collate the items but how you use eventually unleash them that counts. After hours and hours of careful collection and strenuous restraint, emptying an entire, carefully curated arsenal into one skyscraper-sized boss monster is incredibly gratifying, particularly when that big bugger comes crashing down to the ground with barely six shells remaining. Feel the all-natural high, baby!
The perfectly executed puzzle solution
Puzzle titles were practically made for producing eureka moments, those awe-inspiring occasions when everything around you just seems to fall perfectly into place. It's almost as though a veil or perhaps some sort of drooping novelty hat has been lifted from your eyes, revealing a simple, yet infinitely elegant truth. Too bad most of us barely had the patience to read that last sentence, let alone work our way through some lengthy test of wits. Cue twenty minutes of fruitless trial and error, followed by a mandatory trip to Google. "Bah, what a putrid puzzle!" you cry, incensed at being unable to smoosh the square peg of your logic into the round hole of correctness - "Who is they to say I don't think good?".
Now and again however, when the stars align, and the wind whispers your name, and the animals of the forest cry out in appreciative din, every player, no matter how intellectually irregular, will look upon a complex puzzle and just know what to do. Something about the particular configuration or the look of the thing will just speak to you, revealing itself, like a nutter on the bus. Truly this is bliss.
Did that list leaving you feeling high as a kite, or a low as some sort of lesser-quality kite? Have your say in the comments below and be sure to recommend some other everyday gaming moments that made you feel utterly fantastic. Ciao for now.
Looking for more exciting, accomplishment-based features? Have a look at our What type of Achievement or Trophy hunter are you? exploration. And if you're after something a bit more 'specialist', check out 9 of the sexiest Trophies and Achievements in games. You filthy animal.