Games while revolve around collecting powerups and experience?
December 25, 2010 3:40 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a good video game to occupy me over the holiday break. Something where advancement centers around leveling up my character and/or collecting powerups.

I'm really in the mood for a game where you gradually power up your character, unlock new areas and abilities, etc.—preferably over multiple sessions of play—by collecting stuff, defeating enemies, and so on. RPGs are obvious (and welcome) contenders, but I'm interested in any game that features this as a primary gameplay mechanic.

For example, I enjoyed Banjo-Kazooie (and the sequel) back in the day because there were always varied prizes to collect just around the next corner, and the game world became gradually more accessible as you learned new maneuvers. And part of the fun of Nethack is the sense of accomplishment as your vulnerable first-level character grows into a brawny, well equipped veteran.

Bonus points for anything non-linear or sandboxy. I liking being able to decide for myself when I feel powerful enough to tackle a more dangerous area or task.

I'm probably looking for something relatively low-pressure and non-twitchy—meaning casual action (like Banjo-Kazooie) or something turn-based (like Nethack).

Finally, I'd prefer to avoid anything that feels grindy—that is, I'd like to be collecting all of these [ experience points | gold coins | powerups | whatever ] in the course of doing something more purposeful, rather than just doing it for the sake of leveling up.

No JRPGs, please. I hate them with the fire of a thousand suns.

Roguelikes are one of my favorite genres, but I've played pretty much every roguelike under the sun, and I think I'd rather have a bit of eye candy than ASCII graphics (even if it's crude 8-bit eye candy). Yes, I've played Elona.

But, really, the only requirement is that the game gives me a fragile, wet-behind-the-ears avatar, and lets me hear lots of satisfying ka-chings and fanfares as I fill up meters and turn it into an unstoppable [something]ing machine. Anything else listed here would be icing on the cake.

I'm on a pretty powerful PC running Windows 7, so anything that will run on Windows or any kind of emulator is fine.

posted by ixohoxi to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh: I've also played Psychonauts, which is also a good example of what I'm looking for.
posted by ixohoxi at 3:43 PM on December 25, 2010

You've played the Zeldas?

I just got Cave Story today, free to download, matches your criteria.

Kingdom Hearts has JRPG elements but also works.
posted by EtzHadaat at 3:57 PM on December 25, 2010

Response by poster: Played (and loved) Cave Story, yes.

I've played the older (top-down) Zelda games, and just a bit of Majora's Mask. I actually had Majora's Mask in mind as I was writing this question, but N64 games pretty much require a proportional joystick, and I can't get my new computer to recognize my Logitech controller—so no N64 emulation love for me. Boo, hiss.

Fallout 3 is another good example. Hmm; I haven't played New Vegas yet...
posted by ixohoxi at 4:03 PM on December 25, 2010

Yes! I spent my Thanksgiving break playing New Vegas, and it was a joy. I second it.

Just make sure to do the main quest last! I always make this mistake.
posted by Askiba at 4:22 PM on December 25, 2010

Have you played Spore? I just started playing yesterday, and it's about leveling up your creation, collecting new powers. defeating (or befriending) enemies, and non-linear within each "phase" of evolving. Also it was on sale on Steam for $7.50 (might not still be).
posted by Secretariat at 4:46 PM on December 25, 2010

You've played Desktop Dungeons, I guess?

How about Battle for Wesnoth?
posted by piato at 5:07 PM on December 25, 2010

I am no gamer but I played Oblivion and it sounds to me like it fits your requirements. I really loved it.
posted by beccaj at 5:15 PM on December 25, 2010

New Vegas is great.

Borderlands - although on the face of it is pretty twitchy - can be a very "casual" shooter, and the game is brilliant at dribbling out ever so slightly better weapons/armour/upgrades/gadgets. That aspect (and multiplayer) really made the game a "play for another 10 minutes then I'll stop."

"For real this time, quitting after finishing this objective."

"No, for realz now. This is the last objective."
posted by porpoise at 6:12 PM on December 25, 2010

In the vein of Cave Story and other "metroidvanias", check out the castlevania ROMs for GBA. Low tech but they have the reward/addictive character progression down to a fine science. Aria of Sorrow was probably the best.
posted by ropeladder at 6:55 PM on December 25, 2010

I wasn't going to play New Vegas at all, and then I ended up spending over 70 hours doing so. So, if you had fun with Fallout 3, then feel comfortable settling into New Vegas.
posted by yeti at 5:59 AM on December 26, 2010

Darksiders might be what you're looking for. It's basically a Zelda game with terrible ("I am like unto a god!") fantasy writing. But quite fun and very pretty.
posted by Jonathan Harford at 8:41 AM on December 26, 2010

New Vegas would definitely take up your time.

Borderlands is, I think, an incredible game. However, it's exponentially more fun with someone to play with... to the point that I wouldn't want to play it alone. Minor grindage, but only because you'll have to fight the same groups of bad guys several times as you run around for quests and they repopulate.

Dragon Age has become my go-to RPG franchise. I'm already itching about 2. It's got as much or as little loot/ability porn and strategic micromanaging as you like to play with. The only thing is that for me most of the play experience was of the, "Shit, I've been playing this for six hours" variety. No grinding. You couldn't if you wanted to.

It just hit me, though, that Red Dead Redemption is exactly what you should be playing. It's a gorgeous game with lots of quests that exist for no other reason than to showcase good writing or odd characters. What's more you start out injured and with a lot of learning and acquiring to do until you're an unstoppable desperado clearing bandit hideouts like some Sergio Leone rarebit dream. But... I just noticed you're on a PC.
posted by cmoj at 12:21 PM on December 26, 2010

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