Games that contain loads of STUFF

I‘ve been playing Ape Escape 3 for the first time in a few years, and I’m amazed by the sheer amount of STUFF in there, particularly in comparison to modern games.

Each of the twenty-something levels feels completely different to all the others, with completely unique design and very little in the way of shared assets. The locations are varied, each monkey has a silly bio to read and the little movie references all add up to make a game that somehow seems both brimming with content and lovingly crafted. The unlockable but completely optional mini-games (including the unbelievably good Metal Gear crossover) add yet more to an already-generous amount of content.


I **get** that the levels are actually quite small, and I **understand** that the game is relatively short, and I'm **sure** that a Ratchet and Clank or similar game technically has more levels with more unique environments and more things to do in them for a longer time, but it **just doesn't feel that way** when you're actually playing Ape Escape 3.

What games offer similarly overflowing-yet-expertly-assembled smorgasbords of **STUFF**?

Generous games are neat!

I feel this way about Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime for DS. The world feels big - there are a small number of things you can actually do (stretch yourself to hit things, grab things, throw things) but that's used to gather enemies to join your town, fight in a tank, zip around the world, break barriers, etc.

And as you progress, your town comes back to life, and when you beat the game there's MORE stuff to do in your town, and overall it just feels like there's always STUFF to do. I love that kind of game (I had been calling it generous game design), and wish I had the budget to make something like that myself.

Oh! The Yakuza series is like this. You've got a town with tons of stuff to do in it, little quests to go on, and ways to distract yourself if you don't want to do any of that. Go try all the drinks and hear little stories about them! Try out whatever version of Virtua Fighter they've got! Once the game is over, walk around with your adopted daughter and listen to her requests! I mean there's just always Stuff To Do, but it's not all fluff or spacer/grindy things like in an open world RPG. Love it!!!!

I played a good bit of Metal Max Returns for SNES a while back (at the time it was the only one that was translated) and man, that game has a lot going on. There's a ton of side content and little weird characters to find, parts to swap out on your tanks, a nonlinear storyline with missable events and bosses and stuff. Just a really rich series that a lot of people have totally overlooked.

Pretty much every Masahiro Sakurai game is downright overwhelming in its volume of sheer stuff - not just Smash Bros. but Kirby Superstar, Meteos and Kid Icarus: Uprising as well. Levels, game modes, unlockable tchotchkes, the works. Smash Bros. Ultimate* has over 1,000 “spirits” (character stickers) from a variety of games, and every single one_ comes with a unique custom battle level that references the character’s role in their original game! It gets kind of exhausting.

@2501#3611 I was actually kinda scared off by Smash Bros Ultimate, I felt like I was being assaulted by the amount of content rather than rewarded! This may be partially down to the fact that it was my first Smash Bros game since the GameCube, so I was re-learning how to play the thing and simultaneously taking in the many, many things to see and do. All while pretending to know who all those Fire Emblem characters are.

The “expertly-assembled” is the important thing here, I think - most modern open-world games (and most MMOs) have an order of magnitude more “stuff” in them, technically, but in my experience it feels more like information pollution than generous design.

Some of the boomer-shooter-revival games (DUSK, Ion Fury) have seriously generous level design - the overall structure is still a linear progression through levels, but the amount of weird secrets, easter eggs, and side paths make the whole thing feel - I guess I'd say *lush*.

Xenoblade Chronicles has the whole side-game where you learn about and develop relationships with NPCs by doing quests for them, building rapport and unlocking new stories, which is an interesting extra dimension to add to the otherwise pretty rote sidequests.

Persona 5 (especially Royal) has such a ridiculous amount of content, it's kind of astonishing. Some of the STUFF comes in the form of places and activities, some in the form of dialog and character interactions. There are systems upon systems upon systems in the battle mechanics and dungeon navigation. And just a staggering amount of it is optional. So the game ends up striking a nice balance between story-driven JRPG narrative entertainment, and customizable life sim hangout time. I like that.

Interesting - for me P5 falls on the side of an almost suffocating amount of stuff, so much stuff that I feel like I'd rather not do any of it. I felt the same way about dx2, the mobile smt they put out. At a certain point there are so many choices that none of them become compelling to me… Like the jrpg version of an open world game I guess?

But I assume that's not how it is for everybody, since lots of people like that game!

That is interesting, because I generally can‘t stand open world games for that reason, whereas with P5, I feel like I’m always making some amount of progress, even if it's small. And most stuff feels pretty good to do, in terms of gameplay.

The one area where it falls down is... The English localization just isn't very good. So the game ends up being like an expertly-crafted multi-layer sandwich on artisan bread that someone slathered a whole entire jar of mayonnaise onto.

Ha ha, I like that anology!

Soul Calibur III had a bunch of unlockables/collectibles that were really fun to get. There were a whole lot of game modes that could be played with a whole lot of characters. They even snuck a whole RTS-lite/fighting game hybrid in there.

in terms of Stuff one thing I really appreciate in games is when what you unlock is actually, you know, fun. Like in Dark Souls how you can collect the armour and weapons of a lot of the distinct enemies and walk around looking like them (my favourite is when you wear the Black Knight armour and look like a chibi knight because you‘re like a foot shorter than them), or in Deadly Premonition how you can buy everyone’s cars and they each have a distinct music track. While it's not necessarily a case of being overloaded with Stuff, it feels like thought and care was put into the Stuff you can get.

I haven‘t played The Witcher 3 yet but I saw someone stream a quest where they were going around town and while wandering around town there were not one, but two npc children singing original in-universe nursery rhymes. If you’re at a point in your open world game where you‘re like “you know what would flesh out the ambience of the game world? npc nursery rhymes”. Just that overproduction of detail in AAA games kind of bothers me because it’s so much effort for something with diminishing returns.

Melos Han-Tani wrote about this in a blog about game complexity, and it includes this really great summation about how I kinda feel about game detail and "stuff"

So I finally started Breath of the Wild recently and boy howdy, that game is just bursting with STUFF and somehow, incredibly, almost none of it feels like typical Open World copy-pasted bullshit. Wow.

@2501#5324 It‘s pretty amazing at how well they organize it too and the systems are only a couple levels deep. It seems overwhelming at first but when you learn to embrace the crafting and survival aspects to just use what’s available and not cling or horde anything (since the immediate environment will ALWAYS give you what you need) the feeling of impromptu strategies and discovery is like no other. God that game is good

I guess I'll do the obligatory, “DLC economy kinda discouraged this.” post on this topic. :stuck_out_tongue:

The enormous number/variety of unlockable weapons in any Earth Defense Force game.