5. Overpowered gear/items (various games)
Don’t you love it when you brave through a game, conquer the hardest of challenges and face that penultimate final boss, just to be rewarded with an overpowered item that you’ll never ever use because you’re done with the game? Exactly. A lot of JRPGs love to do this, where they put a superboss right at the end of the game to test all your skills, and then reward you with a weapon that you’ll never use because the toughest challenge is already beaten. Some people might consider the boss itself as the reward but let’s be honest; the boss fights definitely are fun and challenging, but they are not a reward. They are the final challenge standing in between you and the end. Now there are exceptions to this rule, like games that allow you to carry over items to a new game+. But quite a lot of games don’t, and that’s the ones we’re talking about here. A lot of Final Fantasy games do this, though they do clearly state the rewards from defeating superbosses are Trophy Items, so I’m less inclined to use these games as example. Actually, the best example that comes to mind right now is Megaman Battle Network, where you gain access to a battle with Bass.EXE after collecting every chip in the game. This literally translates to having done everything you possibly could have done up to that point. Your reward for beating Bass is the Life Aura, a chip that negates all damage below 100. This chip is super useful.. if there was anything left to use it on. There is nothing left to do in the game, so now you’ve got a sparkly new chip that will never see the light of day. That’s like getting a new toy, but all your friends are dead so you have nobody to play with. Now there are more games with this completion bonus (I believe some of the Zelda games do), but this one is the most painful that comes to mind. I have deliberately placed this entry lower on the list because yes, the gear or items are practically useless, but at least it’s a reward that can potentially be useful.
4. Meeting Yoshi (Super Mario 64)
Mario games usually are hit or miss with their completion rewards. The latter games especially do a good job with giving you challenging content after getting the initial completion, and then there are some games that give you nothing. Super Mario 64 falls in between, where it gives you an actual reward for finding all 120 stars in the game, but the reward itself might as well be nothing. When having obtained all the stars, a cannon opens up and shoots you to the roof of the castle. Cool, there must be something great here like an extra level or a new character right? The last one is partially true I guess. Yoshi is waiting at the top of the rooftop, rewarding you with a bit of dialogue before handing you infinite lives. Yay..? Like the overpowered gear, this placement is lower because infinite lives sounds great! But you have already done everything you possibly could in the game up to that point, so what use do you have for the extra lives? Exactly. And it is a shame because the model of Yoshi is there, but nothing is done with him aside from giving you a reward. What a great way to use a character with so much potential! Might as well have replaced him with generic toad #420 and it would have the same effect. Unless you’re a super big Yoshi fan I guess, then this is the best completion reward you could ever wish for? I dunno, to each their own I suppose.
3. Pokémon Certificate (Pokémon generation 1 to 4)
Finishing the Pokédex is a tough task, at least before wifi trading became a thing. Before generation 4, you had to trade between almost every game (including the Gamecube games) and attend real-life events for certain mythical Pokémon. Even with having both, or even all three versions of the game, you could not possibly complete the Pokédex without outside help. So logically you would feel like you’re on top of the world when finally having finished the damn thing right? So very few people you know had accomplished this, probably even none. Stories on the playground were all about what would happen if you completed the Pokédex, or if you levelled more than one hundred Pokémon to level 100. And you could proudly end the myths and say that the game has rewarded you with.. a certificate. A literal pat on the shoulder saying ”good job kiddo”. What could you use this certificate for? Well I dunno, bragging rights I guess. You went through hours of grinding, a multitude of games just to be rewarded with a paper. The only good thing about this was that you could print it out, given you were in possession a Gameboy Printer. Legit, as a kid I totally would’ve printed it out and hung it somewhere in my sleeping room. But the matter of fact remains, the reward is really disappointing for such a journey. Fortunately, the mainline games after Platinum did take notice and gave us the Shiny Charm, an accessory that increases the chance of finding a Shiny Pokémon. A much better reward for a journey that became easier over time.