Gaming's lamest unlockable 'bonuses'
Secret rooms. Bonus weapons. New characters. Furtively secreted easter eggs. Games reward the more dedicated and completist player with all of these things. Play long enough, play hard enough, search every shady corner and complete every available objective, and you'll often be rewarded with amazing hidden content and items, the like of which can make the more meticulous gamer's heart sing.
Most of them do that anyway. And then there's this lot. Which are frankly rubbish.
The ice board - Snowboard Kids
A snowboard made of ice sounds like a marvellous innovation, until you actually think it through. A racing board, made of the slipperiest, sleekest form of water, hurtling down moutainsides blanketed in the second slipperiest? Surely such a thing would be unbeatable.
But unfortunately, developer Racdym did think this through. And they realised the very physics underpinning an ice boards speed would also dictate an almost total lack of friction. Thus, the ice board's cornering is entirely theoretical. Hit a corner, and you'll do so literally. The board doesnt so much turn as ineffectually rotate on its axis, while continuing on its path to a tooth-crunching interface with wall.
The rooftop lives bonanza - Super Mario 64
On a superficial level, Super Mario 64's endgame bonus is actually pretty cool. You 100% complete one of the greatest games ever made, collect every single star tucked away amongst its glorious, dream-like adventure playgrounds of platforming, and finally, by way of a secret, newly unlocked cannon, make your way atop the most iconic castle in all of video games. Truly, you are master of all you survey. And Yoshi is there as well! Actual, 3D Yoshi, for the first time ever. Oh, how you've missed him!
But later, once the excitement of unparalleled victory has faded, you realise that the only tangible reward Yoshi brought with him was a motherlode of 100 extra lives. Which, having now done everything there is to do in the game, you have no use for. Unless you feel that you didn't die enough while collecting those 120 stars. Which you almost definitely don't.
Albert Wesker's secret photography project - Resident Evil 2
So you've found the office and personal desk of head series baddo Albert Wesker. There must be something exciting and/or horrifying in there, surely? So you search the desk. And you get nothing. So you search the desk again. Once more, without a shadow of a doubt, you get nothing.
Because you are dedicated, and utterly sure that Wesker must be hiding something (and because you're possibly mentally ill to mild degree), you search the desk another 48 times. And there it is. Your vindication. In the form of a badly Photoshopped 'photograph' of Rebecca Chambers in a vaguely skimpy basketball uniform. Admittedly it is slightly horrifying, but it's certainly not exciting. And it's really, really badly Photoshopped.
The flying rat flying machine - Grand Theft Auto IV
Grand Theft Auto IV's Flying Rats mission is one of the lengthiest, most labourious gaming tasks of this passing generation. 200 pigeons, hidden across a vast city, at all levels and in every awkward nook and cranny you could imagine. Kill the lot of them, and win... something.
Alas, that something is a mere 2.5% of overall game completion. Oh, and you also get an Annihilator attack chopper, unlocked on the MeTV building roof. Only problem with the Annihilator is that there are already a bunch of them hidden around the city, several of which can be stolen without accruing a high Wanted rating. Oh, and the one on the MeTV building roof is often inaccessible without a helicopter anyway. So, er, yay.
The secret boots - Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Secret boots? In a Metroidvania game? They must be special indeed. After all, the core mechanic of games like Symphony of the Night is that of collecting new equipment in order to get more awesome at doing awesome stuff. So a secret bit of equipment must be ultra-special. And boots? Why, they go on your feet, making them the literal foundation of everything you do! These things will be a game-changer.
Or they'll just make your sprite ever so slightly taller. Like, imperceptibly. Like, a couple of pixels at best.
Beedle's compliment card - The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
Sometimes, it's possible to be too nice. Take Beedle, Wind Waker's amiable shopkeeper, for instance. He's the most friendly of friendly types, and knows that a positive relationship with his customers is valuable beyond the level of personal enrichment. Keep your customers happy, and you make friends and money in equal measure. Unfortunately, he hasn't quite got the balance right.
He'll offer you a loyalty card for his shop, and if you accept, will promise you bountiful rewards. The first of these, cashed in after you've made 30 purchases, is a compliment card. An exciting-sounding kick-back, and after that many purchases, surely a pretty lucrative one. Will it bestow you with discounts? Free stuff entirely? No. In this case, it's a literal compliment card. Cash in it, and Beedle will say nice things about you. Which is not only not as good as a free sword, but actually makes Beedle's pleasant countenance seem rather shallow indeed, now that I think about it. What kind of a friend charges a friend for compliments? Forget what I said about Beedle being too nice. He's a dick.
Little King Zero - Bayonetta
So you've completed Bayonetta. And for some reason, doing that wasn't demanding enough for you. Or perhaps you have a masochistic complex stemming from low self-esteem. For whatever reason, you go back through the game and complete all of the brutally hard Alfheim challenge rooms. You're still just about conscious after that, so you decide to have a crack at the newly unlocked Angel Slayer survival mode, 80% of which operates on Hard mode or above. Somehow, probably through some combination of extreme caffeination and gene therapy, you complete that too.
Your reward? Little King Zero, a diminutive, playable, bearded grim reaper, who speaks only in high-pitched grunts and dies after two hits, guaranteed. Though to be fair, if you've managed to complete all the tasks required to unlock him, the only alternative manner of increasing the game's challenge is by way of broken hands and arms.
William Bordin - Urban Reign
The only good thing about a cheap boss is the possibility of unlocking the ability to play as them. William Bordin of PS2 brawler Urban Reign is particularly cheap, subverting Sean Connery's iconic discussion of fight tactics from The Untouchables by bringing a gun to a fist fight. So, an exciting prize to unlock, right? Hes bound to be, given the labourious process required to do so. S-ranks on every level in the game? Egad, what a prestige unlockable he must be.
Until, that is, you realised that unlocking Bordin means literally that. Unlocking Bordin. The man himself, and not his gun. And unarmed, he is absolutely rubbish.
Any concept art ever - Every game that has it
Seriously, who looks at that stuff? Anyone?
No, didn't think so.
So that's our line-up of fairly rubbush rewards for staunch video game completism. But did we miss any out? We surely did, so let us know exactly which ones you think need adding to the list.
And while you're here, check out some of our related features. Try Gaming's most secret secrets (opens in new tab), and them maybe check out The Top 7... Secret rooms in video games (opens in new tab).