Elastic Bands – Not Just For Elastically Banding Things

Originally Published: 14 May 2009

I probably spent two of the longest hours of my life getting this achievement:

[Achievement for levelling up every character]

Now, Spider-man: Friend or Foe is not a bad game. Having said it’s not a good game either; to be honest it’s decidedly middle of the road. What dampens it even more is that bloody achievement. Level up all your characters – bloody whoop. Unless you’re really, really bad (and I do mean really, really bad) at this game there is no way you are going to be anywhere close to levelling all your characters up by the time you’ve finished it. So what does this mean? It means that you have to slog through the last level around about 10 times if you want all the points and quite frankly that level sucks big time – one long drawn out boss battle which sees you jumping around like a loon. It’s decidedly non-awesome.

So that got me thinking about what lengths we (ok, by we, I mean me) go to in order to get that little plink of satisfaction. I have mentioned previously that I spent something like 10 hours getting the 1000+ jigsaw achievement on Puzzle Arcade, but thought I’d go through my games list and see what I’ve put myself through to get points.

One of the worst, and also best (for ingenuity, not gameplay), achievements on my list comes from Superman. An atrocious game, I’ll get that out of the way right now, with one awful achievement – fly 10,000 miles. Seriously, you’re not going to do that during the course of a normal game. You’re really not. So, being the score whore I am, I employed the use of one of the lesser known gaming peripherals – an elastic band. Or, to be more precise, two.

With one band firmly wrapped around the left stick so our blue and red clad superhero flies in a circle, and the other holding down both the flying and boost buttons it’s time to go and do something else for a long time. Like sleep. Or wish you had another Xbox 360 to play on. It took a good 10 hours, I seem to remember. A longer time, incidentally, than it took me to find all 100 hidden kittens – sorry Van!

My first foray into the use of these postman’s friends as a gaming peripheral came while playing Super Mario 3. I remember there was a level that, for some reason, I seemed to think needed me to fly up somewhere while holding a Koopa shell. As a youngster, my finger co-ordination was not the finely-tuned thing it is today and I couldn’t manage to hold the shell and fly at the same time. What could I do? My frustration was beginning to build when the answer came to me, almost as if a voice had spoken from on high. The Gaming God, himself (or herself, whatever), had looked down on me and said “use an elastic band”.

Admittedly, it’s not my proudest gaming moment and, probably, were I to play through Super Mario 3 again I wouldn’t need an elastic band at all (due to the more refined fingering I am now capable of… erm, you know what I mean) but I think what it does show is that we gamers are good at is thinking outside the box.

And that can’t be bad.