Honestly, who doesn’t love unearthing collectibles? The fact is, we love spending a few extra hours mopping up gadgets and gizmos to help boost our overall play time. It’s an obsession, if only a minor one, and it’s something we’ve happily thrown ourselves into for decades. But with some developers getting a little too expressive with their hidden trinkets, controversy has definitely lingered like a black cloud over one or two titles.
While gathering collectibles can be a fantastic way to add a few more hours to a session, there have been quite a lot of questionable ones pop up from time to time, some of which have sparked controversy among critics and gamers. The question is, which collectibles have caused the biggest ruckus, and which of them were able to get away with it? Well, here’s everything we know.
5. Playboy Magazines (Mafia II)
2K Games made an incredibly bold decision when drawing up rough drafts for Mafia II’s valued collectibles. Unlike its first chapter which featured cigarette cards as its side hustle, the sequel to the hit action-adventure game instead went on to utilize Playboy issues. However, rather than using fictional characters and a hand-drawn art style, 2K actually resorted to using real-life issues, all of which were taken from the 1950s Playboy archives.
Over the course of the campaign, players can unearth the issues and work to assemble an entire collection of premium Playboy literature. As the story reaches its crescendo, the covers become more explicit and risqué, which of course opens the floodgates to a whole ocean of controversy. It’s a piece of erotic history that not every critic agreed with, and it definitely caused the game to draw unwanted attention following its 2010 release.
4. Outfits (Dead or Alive)
There isn’t a fighting series on the planet that accumulates the same amount of slaps on the wrist for controversy as Dead or Alive. And yet, that has never stopped its developer from pushing the boat out with each passing chapter. Today, of course, it is seen as the defining feature of the saga. But for a slither of players, it’s a tasteless approach to garnering loyal fans who only wish to play.
The nail in the coffin for Dead or Alive isn’t the characters themselves, but the outfits the player is able to unlock for them. By completing battles and earning the in-game currency, fighters can be equipped with all kinds of inappropriate attire. As a result, few have taken to social media in the past to express disappointment in the series and its choice of oversexualized apparel. Has it brought the game’s devs to its senses? Absolutely not.
3. Underwear (Bully)
Bully will forever go down as one of Rockstar’s most overlooked children. Perhaps it’s due to the risqué humor the original game was able to get away with back in 2006, knowing all too well it wouldn’t ship in today’s climate. The fact is, Rockstar hasn’t dared to touch the IP with a barge pole in over a decade, and it mostly has something to do with the controversial themes the game lathered on like a thick paste.
Collectible-wise, Bully had some hit and miss trinkets, most of which players could display in their rooms at Bullworth Academy. Some of these so-called trophies, though, came in the shape of teenage girls’ underwear, which you would have to steal from the dormitory itself before pinning up on your wall. Now, considering the majority of the game’s population was made up of minors no older than fifteen, that was definitely a risky maneuver on Rockstar’s part. And yet, in spite of the brutal feedback some outraged fans threw at it, the collectibles still made a return in Scholarship Edition. Rockstar, a studio known for laughing in the face of danger, didn’t think twice about the consequences. But what’s new?
2. Sex Dolls (Saints Row)
After Volition stripped Saints Row of all its Grand Theft Auto tropes, the series branched out to some pretty wild themes. A lot of these were smothered in crude collectibles that players had to acquire for the sake of punching holes in the 100% completion arc. A prime example, of course, is the sex dolls Saints Row: The Third scattered around the city of Steelport.
Granted, the collectibles in Saints Row didn’t really make a whole lot of sense. Not that this came as a surprise, as the series was quickly becoming one of the most bizarre video game series ever created. And so, next to its long arm of primitive humor and crude caricatures, sex dolls didn’t really stick out like a sore thumb. Needless to say, Volition got away with utilizing the inflatable dolls to help boost the game’s newfound weirdness.
1. Telephone Cards (Yakuza)
Yakuza is no stranger to absurdity, as proven over its incredibly long timeline of releases. As a series that hosts a ludicrous amount of side activities and novelty features, collectibles don’t really stand out all that much. That said, its unlockable telephone cards in Yakuza 0 went on to cast a much wider net than most games, and it definitely didn’t attract all the right fish in the pond, either.
When out exploring the world of Yakuza, players can unearth a set amount of telephone cards. On each card is a Japanese model, some of whom sport a rather revealing outfit, while others opt for borderline nudity. Sort of how Mafia II employed the Playboy covers, but with a Japanese twist and in a completely different format. The one thing the two share in common, though, is the fact that both collectible types were able to waltz away freely without much more than a single knock on the wrist.
So, what’s your take? Do you agree with our top five? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.