Main menu-worthy stuff at the end of the game
As I've pontificated on before in the Top 7... Amazing unlockables (that are nearly impossible to unlock), it's totally within reason to hide amazing bonus characters, stages, weapons, and the like behind some nearly-unscalable barriers. However, there are also times that major features and modes are inexplicably hidden behind hours of gameplay or confusing collectibles, instead of being made available from the very start. While unlocking these won't require superhuman feats of gaming skill, it's a bit odd that they were buried at all. In many cases, these features were advertised on the back of the box, and I have to imagine they led to some upset buyers grumbling as they slogged through mandatory content before reaching what they really wanted. Fortunately for you, you barely have to exert any effort to read about them!
Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes makes you hunt for patches to play the best missions
Let me make something clear; I'm not upset that Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes hid the two fan-service spectaculars (the Raiden-headlined, Snatcher homage Jamais Vu, and the original MGS recreation Deja Vu). There's a story to be told, and every player should take in the main campaign to see what will lead into the events of Phantom Pain, then take in the great side content of those two missions. However, if you want to play those great bonus missions--which far outclass the average Side Ops that you snag for completing the story proper--you have to be eagle-eyed enough to find the nine XOF patches hidden in the vast expanse of Camp Omega (or desperate enough to look up a guide). If you know where to go, it'll take a matter of minutes, but really, this just should’ve come up in the normal “beat the previous stage” progression. It just felt like more filler in a very brief release.
The Warriors' homage to 2D brawlers makes you come out and play... a lot
Rockstar hit upon two rarities when it released its revival of The Warriors on consoles in 2005; a great game based on a movie with a minigame that didn't feel tacked-on. Granted, the campaign itself is pretty spectacular, diving deep into the personalities of the eponymous gang's members and threading seamlessly into the film's story with additional plot points before and during The Warriors' escape to Coney Island. And by completed the epic brawler, you unlocked Armies of the Night, a 2D brawler that paid homage to the top side-scrolling beat-em-ups of the ‘90s (a fair number of which were influenced by the gritty 1979 gang film). After tackling the wide-open stages and deep combat of The Warriors' campaign, playing something smaller doesn’t feel natural. It’s like eating a Bloomin’ Onion after your Outback steak. Perhaps that's why, when a PSP version came out to play a year-and-a-half later, Armies of the Night was available from the start. The portable Warriors allowed for the ideal situation of alternating between the lengthy main quest and the entertaining diversion at your own speed. Rockstar should keep that in mind if it ever makes an HD remake.
Crazy Taxi 3 hides 2/3rds of the maps behind minigames
When Crazy Taxi got its first entry on the original Xbox, it was a bit surprising to see how few advancements came with upgrading hardware from the Dreamcast. In fact, Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller hit the opposite of a jackpot when it comes to content. Where the first two Crazy Taxi titles gave you a pair of courses to ply your cabbie trade in, Crazy Taxi 3 only came with a single city at the outset: Glitter Oasis. If you're the kind of gamer who eschews minigames, you might miss out on the other 66% of Crazy Taxi 3's courses. Complete the dozen starting “Crazy X” tests of skill--granted, they’re the 12 easiest--and you'll unlock massive throwbacks to the two previous Crazy Taxis in the form of the “West Coast” and “Small Apple” stages. In addition, you’re awarded with the other two-thirds of the soundtrack, adding music from original Crazy Taxi songsmiths Bad Religion and The Offspring. Yes, three stages and 12 songs constituted a $50 release a dozen years ago.
Ninja Gaiden on Xbox has odd requirements to get the original trilogy
Tecmo has spent the last decade punishing players to futilely fight against overpowered demons in order to unlock a fancy new set of spandex for Ryu. It's sadomasochism in game form, and modern-day Ninja Gaiden fans know and (usually) respect that. When the series made its grand return, though, the gaming public wasn't aware of what to expect. Including the original 2D trilogy was a nice touch, but getting to it was unlike any other path we'd taken before. Instead of making the classics unlockables for finishing the game (no easy feat in and of itself), you have to undergo some weird trials to get each game one by one. The first game is the highest mountain to climb; you have to snag each and every one of the 50 hidden Golden Scarabs and trade them for the OG NG. For the second and third original titles, you need to shoot an arrow at a clock and revisit a spot where you had found a particular Golden Scarab before. At this point, you can play them at Ryu's safehouse. If you want to access them via the main menu, you have to complete the game after collecting them. Okay Team Ninja, everybody gets it; your game is hard.
Mario Kart Super Circuit's best tracks require you to race others TWICE
In accordance with Mario Kart tradition, cool stuff has to take some unlocking. Secret paths, R.O.B. the Robot, Funky Kong... you have to hide the real fanservice behind some hoops. However, there's a step too far, and Mario Kart Super Circuit's retro SNES tracks are proof of concept. Super Circuit was just the third release in a series got its seventh sequel in the form of Mario Kart 8, and you can see Nintendo still toying with the formula of unlockables. Before they got things just right, the “Extra Cup” tracks in Super Circuit required way too much work. To unlock the 16-bit throwbacks in four-course chunks, you have to complete each standard circuit twice; getting a gold trophy and collecting 100 coins in separate runs. It’s a bit too much for some old courses, and it isn’t surprising that Mario Kart just hands you all the retro tracks from the start.
Um Jammer Lammy has to complete her performance before Parappa takes the stage
NaNaOn-Sha's late-’90s musical simulations always included a positive message. If you work hard, you'll persevere in life, whether you're flying a plane or trying to avoid soiling yourself while searching for an open bathroom. And as Master Onion said, “Don’t get cocky,” because completing each game's story was a pretty difficult endeavor, requiring rhythm skills previously untested in the medium. Too bad a true sequel to Parappa got hidden behind those tricky songs. When Parappa the Rapper's follow-up act hit the stage in 1999, Um Jammer Lammy brought on tougher, guitar-based challenges. It also may have disappointed Parappa fans who expected an immediate encore. If you were good enough to get Lammy's tricky tablature down pat, only then would you get to replay the songs as Parappa and spit a few new lyrics in remixed versions of each chapter. Can you imagine how many more folks would’ve attended this show if they knew Parappa was there?
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D makes the master quest redundant
Hiding the original Second Quest after the conclusion of the original Legend of Zelda made sense in the summer of 1987. If you're like me, you only had three other games, and one of them was probably a terrible birthday present like Donkey Kong Jr. Math. The season premiere of Perfect Strangers was weeks away, and you needed Zelda’s remixed adventure to last until the school year and the accompanying game drought reared its ugly head (again, if you’re like me). But when it came to Ocarina of Time's 3DS remake, keeping the similarly remixed Master Quest behind an oversized lock just didn't seem like a good decision. Everyone's backlog is as high as a Gohma's eye in 2011. While Ocarina of Time 3D's visual upgrade and streamlined controls make the classic worth a second playthrough some 13 years later, most fans of the original would have rather jumped right into the remixed Master Quest. Hell, Nintendo put it front and center the last time Ocarina of Time was re-released (back on a GameCube compilation disc). Additionally, after playing through the lengthy campaign, precious few folks were willing to dive back into an even tougher adventure. Unfortunately, this meant few folks ever truly mastered Ocarina of Time 3D.