Think you're the master of unlocking achievements? Have you already earned a good 350 in other, lower-numbered, flash games? Well, get ready to more than double that score, since in Achievement Unlocked 3 there are 400, yes, 400 achievements available for the little blue elephant avatar that could. He'll really have to earn them, though, since he'll need to battle his way through a hamster habitat from heck. Armor Games' John Cooney and Jimp are ready to give you all the puzzle platforming you love, and all the surprises you'd never expect. The only question is, how fast will you fill the list?
Achievement Unlocked 3's story, if you can call it that, starts with our beloved pachyderm trapped in a terrarium ruled by the malevolent Hamster King. You can tell that that the king is a villain since he cares only for pellets and nothing for earning achievements. Move and jump with [WASD] or [Arrow keys], exploring, collecting coins, triggering boxes, dying, regenerating, changing clothes, getting drenched, catching on fire, and any other number of insane activities that will help you fill your list. More to the point, coins can be traded at a vending for the pellets the king so desires. Give enough to him, and he'll start unlocking more of the habitat's pathways. Will you be able to overthrow this terrible tyrant? Well, if so, you can be there'll be an achievement for it.
Analysis: Whatever it is you love about the Achievement Unlocked series, Achievement Unlocked 3 has more. More achievements. More rooms. More things to collect. More options. More characters. More everything. Some may be wary of the addition of a plot, however threadbare it is, but worry not: The Hamster King is a wonderful addition who gives you all the motivation you need to complete your quest. Conceptually, a chatty, humongous hamster is the perfect choice to antagonize a silent, tiny elephant, and he is given some hilarious dialogue. On the mechanics side, the ability to sort the achievement list to highlight those currently-in-progress or in-close-proximity is a big help when trying to figure out what needs to be done for those last lousy one-percent. Also, "collect pellets for new rooms" works quite well at keeping things fairly non-linear, while still allowing for a guided progression of exploration. It would be nice if the trade-ins happened a little faster, but hey, elephants are nothing if not patient.
Achievement Unlocked 3 eschews the minimalist graphics of the previous two in the series, instead having an aesthetic more akin to Elephant Quest. Jimp's art is varied, gorgeous, and colorful, like a living cartoon, but without the sleek lines and bold colors we've come to expect, something feels a little... off. This is not the series we're used to, which is both good and bad.
Play all of John Cooney's Elephant games:
The "joke" of the original Achievement Unlocked, was how a simple one room game with simplistic graphics could be overwhelmed with a hilariously large number of achievements granted for literally every action you could do. However, the gaming world has surpassed it in the interim. 400 achievements? Isn't that about how many Team Fortress 2 has? How can satire stay relevant when real life keeps moving the bar? Since Achievement Unlocked 3's game world is exponentially bigger than the previous ones in the series, 400 somehow feels merely a "large" number, rather than a "hilariously large" one, especially since you can earn a chunk even before you take your first step. There will come a point when you're really concentrating on firing hamsters through a basketball hoop, and then start to wonder how exactly the series got to that point. Achievement Unlocked 3's trunk is packed with content, but it's starting to get pretty crowded in there.
Even if Achievement Unlocked 3 feels less incisive of a parody, it is still a massively entertaining game. John Cooney knows how to make settings that beg to be explored, and Achievement Unlocked 3 is no slouch. And, of course, seeing a long list of achievements get ticked off one by one is as satisfying as it has ever been. Whether you are stomping on hamsters, or running a marathon on a treadmill while inexplicably on fire, or accelerating yourself into a patch of ceiling spikes for the hundredth time, there is still pure gaming joy to be found in watching that little blue elephant trundle around. Achievement Unlocked 3 is a little different from what we're used to, but it fully earns its place alongside the authors' other achievements in Flash gaming.