Trick or Treat!: Gaming's Greatest Treats

Get into the Halloween spirit with some of the greatest treats in gaming history.

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Halloween is traditionally a day for dressing up in costume, getting massive amounts of candy, and, of course, respecting the personal space of housecats and the property value of your neighbors' houses. GameSpot's staff hopes you find whatever goodies you enjoy most in your grab bag this Halloween. And for your amusement, we've also got a heap of instant gratification for you with some of the greatest treats we've ever found, picked up, or been given in games. For the most part, we've tried to include the most exciting, fun, and memorable treats. Special mention goes to the magic mushroom of the Super Mario Bros. series, an item that helped make a little plumber into a big star--an item so iconic, in fact, that we're mentioning it here and now before we even get to the rest of our picks.

Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of all the best treats you can find in computer and video games, and they're not listed or ranked in any order. Think you can come up with some even better ones? Leave us a comment and let us know!

We here at GameSpot wish you a safe and happy Halloween. Now, let's get to the treats!

Spread Gun - Contra (NES)

Happiness is a gun that shoots in five directions.
Happiness is a gun that shoots in five directions.

The first treat in our virtual grab bag is the spread gun from Contra, one of the most well-loved and most fondly remembered Nintendo Entertainment System action games. In Contra, you played as a bandanna-wearing commando who is up against an army of alien soldiers. And these soldiers were armed with guns, vehicles, and weird monsters. Though the game's challenging pace made sure players were in for one heck of a fight, its fun and frantic shoot-'em-up gameplay had players fighting with each other over their NES controllers to see who would get to play next.

Let's face it--even though you could pick up plenty of different power-up items, like the auto-firing "M" machine gun and the highly damaging "L" laser, the "S" spread gun was the king of all Contra weapons. It had tremendous range and could take out enemies coming at you, not just from the front, but from above and below. This was a much-needed advantage in a game that required you to jump around and duck under a constant hail of bullets, not to mention all the other bizarre things those dirty aliens threw at you. These included floating soap bubbles; creepy, ceiling-crawling critters; and those crazy, red-roller things that would squash you flat in the game's base-assault levels. Getting hit by just a single bullet (or anything else) meant your commando character not only would die, but also would lose his precious spread gun.

In fact, the spread gun was so much in demand that it led to the deaths of countless aliens, as well as countless bandanna-wearing commandos. Part of the game took place in vertical levels that would scroll upward as you jumped up to the next ledge. Solid ground turned into treacherous pits, and if you were playing Contra's cooperative two-player mode, you could actually time your own jumps to have the screen scroll under your teammate, killing him instantly (and leaving more spread gun for you).


Herbs - Resident Evil Series

There's always room for herbs.
There's always room for herbs.

The Resident Evil series has produced some of the most frightening and creepy games ever made. As a result, the herbs in Resident Evil are a fitting treat for Halloween. What's more rewarding than a nice pick-me-up after you've been limping around a dark, deserted mansion, fighting zombies and other hideous creatures for the past couple of hours?

Herbs have been a part of the Resident Evil games since the beginning, and although the idea of gathering houseplants to instantly regain health might seem a bit silly in this day and age, those multicolored herbs are still a very sought-after item in every installment in the Resident Evil franchise. Just like Halloween candy you might find in your goodie bag after a night of trick-or-treating, the herbs in Resident Evil come in several varieties. There are the basic green herbs, which instantly replenish some of your health; the red herbs, which can be used to increase the potency of the green herbs; blue herbs, which cure poison; and yellow herbs, which were introduced in Resident Evil 4 and are used to permanently increase your maximum health, making them very valuable. And like the proverbial peanut butter and chocolate, herbs get even better when you mix them together. Not only does mixing herbs create potent and very useful remedies, but it also frees up space in your inventory for other important treats--like more guns and more ammo (and more herbs).

As you play any of the Resident Evil games, you might wonder why these useful plants aren't more abundant in the world. After all, if there were plants that could instantly heal your injuries, you'd think that people would want to grow them by the acre and keep plenty on hand at all times instead of locking them away in dusty old lockers or out-of-the-way cabinets. Of course, the Resident Evil series is all about zombies, mutant dogs, and giant spiders, so there's no need to be constrained by the bounds of reality. However you look at it, those colorful plants are some of the best treats you can find in any video game.


Xbox 360 Achievement Points

If you give us your points, few to no skeletons will be harmed.
If you give us your points, few to no skeletons will be harmed.

Who doesn't like points? While the concept of earning achievement points for completing in-game tasks seemed intriguing, many skeptics quickly dismissed the Xbox 360-exclusive feature when it was first announced. After all, what good are these points if you can't spend them or trade them for anything? The answer: bragging rights. Nothing says, "I'm hardcore," like having tens of thousands of achievement points, and, better still, including your point total in your gamercard for the entire world to see.

Just about all Xbox 360 owners will tell you that hearing the jingle, then seeing the "achievement earned" notification on the screen is a feeling like no other. Trying to get "just one more achievement" has cost fanatical point collectors many more hours of sleep than they were planning to--and to play games they don't actually care about or even finish games they dislike. Online rental outlets are certainly feeling the positive effect of the gaming public's insatiable appetite for more points. Unless, of course, there's another reason why 30-year-old men are renting and finishing children's games like Open Season (and if there is, we don't want to know).

Sony recently announced that contrary to earlier reports, it would not be jumping on the points bandwagon with the PlayStation 3's online modes. While achievement points won't decide who wins the console war, they've certainly been an unlikely part of the Xbox 360's success. As for us point addicts, we'll be happy with some more points.


Goodie Hut - Civilization Series

Goodie huts can treat you...but they can also trick you with bloodthirsty barbarians.
Goodie huts can treat you...but they can also trick you with bloodthirsty barbarians.

This next entry in our list might just be the best example of a Halloween treat--the "goodie huts" in this strategy series for the PC. In the same way that trick-or-treaters rummage through their rucksacks in hopes of finding their favorite kind of bubble gum or candy bar, Civilization players are very familiar with the mad dash to explore the ancient world, searching for the random bonuses that they can find in these wondrous little shacks.

The Civilization games let you play as the ruler of a real-world nation, like the US, China, or Germany, and try to take over the rest of the planet by settling it or conquering it. This means that at the beginning of each new game, when all players start with only one home city, every last little advantage helps. You need to continuously explore the world in search of priceless resources, like horses, iron, and oil, while gradually researching advanced technologies to bring your nation forward to new ages.

Of course, at a time when your fledgling civilization is struggling with such epic matters as whether to invent the wheel, those small, surreptitious goodie huts that are hidden throughout the map can make a real difference. Using one of your troops, like a warrior or an explorer, to walk over and seize a goodie hut gets you a bona fide trick-or-treat: If you're lucky, you'll find anything from a bunch of gold to a valuable technology that would otherwise have taken many turns to research or a new troop to join you (including the valuable city-building settler unit). But if you're unlucky, you might find an empty goodie hut or, worse, a raging horde of barbarians who will happily pummel your explorer the next turn.


Lightning Bolt - Super Mario Kart Series

In last place? Things seem hopeless? Try a lightning bolt--now with extra lightning.
In last place? Things seem hopeless? Try a lightning bolt--now with extra lightning.

Mario Kart fans know this scenario all too well. Locked in a cutthroat battle for Special Cup supremacy with Princess Peach, you enter the final lap of Rainbow Road with a precarious lead. Thus far, you've been able to suppress the wench with a few well-placed banana peels, but with the tenacity of a wolf, she continues to nip at your heels. As you hit the first curve of the final lap, Peach takes a red shell from behind, and your victory now seems assured. But wait, what's this? From out of nowhere, a maniacally laughing Wario zips up behind you, and, boosting with reckless abandon, shunts you off into oblivion as he careens around a corner and sails off the track. Pained and confused, you glance up from your downward plummet, only to spy a giggling Peach poised to claim a first-place finish and the coveted Cup.

As you're gently dropped back onto the track, you spy your one shot at revenge: a checkered box off in the distance. As you activate the contents, your karting companions let out a collective groan because you just got yourself a lightning bolt. With your rivals' high-performance karts reduced to miniaturized tricycles, you quickly squash your way back up in the ranks.

The truth is that no single pickup can truly change the entire outcome of a race. Although the lightning bolt will very rarely do more than get you back into contention, racing in the Mario Kart games is as much about inflicting pain on your fellow karters as it is about crossing the finish line first. And there is simply no more rewarding way to do so than to zap everybody in a single go.


Tanooki Suit - Super Mario Bros. 3

Have Tanooki suit, will turn into statue for some reason.
Have Tanooki suit, will turn into statue for some reason.

Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of the best NES games ever made, and it's an important step for the Mario franchise. For the first time in any Mario game, you could get a power-up that let you fly. Forget Peach's floaty jump and the lame magic carpet in Super Mario Bros. 2. This game let you grab a leaf and wiggle your raccoon tail to soar among the clouds in search of stray coins, mushrooms, and mysteries. The ability to fly opened up the world of Super Mario Bros. in a big way. No longer were you limited to exploring the surface and the underground network of pipes, but you could also take to the sky. This opened up all kinds of new ways for the developers to reward your curiosity. For example, secret areas and special items, like the infamous magic flute, let you skip past many of the game's levels. But Super Mario Bros. 3 didn't stop at a leaf and a raccoon tail.

To be truly prepared for any situation, you needed the Tanooki suit. More than a simple power-up item, this treat was a full suit that Mario could wear to give him the power to fly. It also gave him the ability to turn into a statue and squash or evade enemies. The only drawback was that you had to make sure you didn't accidentally turn into a statue while over a bottomless pit. The Tanooki suit wasn't as abundant as the leaves or mushrooms, but players quickly figured out where to find this treat, and it remains one of the most sought-after items in the game.

Just like trick-or-treaters everywhere, Mario knows how much of a difference the right costume can make. Sadly, the Tanooki suit was hung up in the closet after Super Mario Bros. 3. But it remains a favorite treat of Mario fans the world over, and it's just as fun to get today as it was when the game first came out more than 15 years ago.


1x4 I-block - Tetris Series

Look out below!
Look out below!

If you've been playing video games for a while, chances are that the first game you really got hooked on was one of those nefarious puzzle games. And that game was most likely Tetris, a game that has glued people to their monitors, TV screens, and handhelds for more than 20 years now. It's really a simple game: Your sole task is to remove lines in a 10x20 window by fitting together geometric shapes that descend at an increasingly fast pace. For conservative players, this means zapping each line, one by one, until the pace quickens, they bust, and a teensy little rocket launches in honor of their paltry score. For these people, Tetris is more of a hobby than a life choice, so they don't understand the finer points of pounding out insane scores.

For those who consider "tetromino" a valid, Tetris-related word, there is only one way to play this game: pursuing the substantial score multipliers you get by clearing four lines at once to boost your score to astronomical heights. Although you have seven different pieces at your disposal, only the I-shaped, 1x4 block is capable of finishing off your construct, which is why you want it to queue up next. Sure, greedily building a block tower with one lone strip of free space can lead to some dangerously close calls, but it's these dramatic interludes that make finally slamming home the I-block all the more gratifying.

Casual Tetris players may have scored a few four-row score bonuses, but true Tetris addicts--the ones who can't stop fitting tetrominoes together in their heads long after they've shut down their games--know what we're talking about.


Power Pellet - Pac-Man Series

See how the worm has turned? The hunter has become the hunted!
See how the worm has turned? The hunter has become the hunted!

The power pellet is the original video game treat--an item that let the vulnerable Pac-Man get the upper hand on his goggle-eyed ghost oppressors. By now, almost everyone should be familiar with the story of the classic arcade game Pac-Man. We know about the title character's imprisonment in a maze filled with dots he must devour; the constant attacks on his person by the ghostly Inky, Pinky, Blinky, and Clyde; and the totally insane alarm siren that constantly plays in the background. And, of course, we all know of Pac-Man's one shot at salvation--those great, big, flashing pellets that are off in the corners of the map.

Pac-Man, originally released in 1979, was one of the first arcade games to make a real impact. It inspired TV cartoons, a top-40 pop song, and more merchandise than you can wave a bag of quarters at. But at its core, the actual gameplay of Pac-Man was simple: eat or be eaten. The game's hectic chases were something that players had never seen or experienced before. And being able to turn the tables on your pursuers by devouring them was one of the first truly satisfying video game experiences that most of us ever had. At least until those dastardly ghosts stopped flashing and started chasing us again.


Stars - Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!

Glass Joe has no idea what's in store for him.
Glass Joe has no idea what's in store for him.

It's the last round of the Major Circuit title fight. Both fighters are worn out and could hit the canvas at any time. The smaller, lighter challenger is behind on points, and he's going to lose unless he can dig down deep and knock the champ down in the last few seconds. Earlier in the fight, he notices a pattern to his opponent's attacks, and suddenly that pattern appears again. The diminutive pugilist throws a quick punch, stunning his opponent. Somehow the tiny boxer is able to summon tremendous power. One ferocious uppercut later, the champ is lying face down on the mat, being counted out by a short, pudgy Italian referee.

Anyone who has played Mike Tyson's Punch-Out! knows what this feels like and will fondly remember the satisfaction of earning and then using a star punch in the NES classic. Hitting your opponent at just the right time would earn your boxer, Little Mac, a star (he could have up to three at any time). Hitting the start button would cause Mac to spend that star by throwing a leaping uppercut, causing tremendous damage to his opponent. There was a huge risk-versus-reward element to the whole system as well. Most of the time, earning a star required precise timing, and if you were just a second too early or late, your opponents--especially Iron Mike--would dodge your punch then make you pay.

Waiting to use a star punch until your opponent's health bar got low was a good strategy for getting knockouts. But because you lost a star each time you got hit, each second you waited increased the chance of losing your power. Stars were an exciting addition to one of the most memorable NES games ever, and a great treat that could sometimes mean the difference between victory and defeat.


Meat - Final Fight

The only thing better than floor meat is floor meat you find after smashing a stack of tires.
The only thing better than floor meat is floor meat you find after smashing a stack of tires.

Although the very act of handing out knuckle sandwiches to the likes of Bred, Andore Jr., and Damnd seems like a great way to kick off Halloween, Capcom's arcade brawler Final Fight did us all one better by scattering delicious foodstuffs all across Metro City. In this side-scrolling arcade game, which later came home to the 16-bit SNES (as a chopped-up version, missing one playable character), you played as a vigilante hero who was out to rescue the fair damsel, Jessica, from the evil Mad Gears gang.

It wasn't easy. Sure, you could play as the courageous Cody (Jessica's boyfriend), his ninja pal, Guy, or Jessica's enraged, shirtless father and the mayor of the city, Mike Haggar. Sure, you could hammer on the attack button to perform brutal combination attacks that sent those no-good thugs reeling, but there were dozens of them and only a few of you. Plus, some of those guys could throw firebombs, perform sliding kicks, and even block your punches--dirty tricks that Cody, Guy, and Haggar would never stoop to (or, you know, benefit from).

Thankfully, there was one Metro City specialty that would always hit the spot: the plate of meat. This piping-hot delicacy would always fill your health to full and bail you out no matter how bad things were going, no matter how grimy the subway or city street you found it on, and no matter how many barrels, stacks of tires, or phone booths you had to smash to smithereens with your fists. A quick squat over a plate of meat and you were good to go.


That's it for our list of some of the best treats in video games. Leave us a comment and share your favorites with us!

Tanooki Suit - Super Mario Bros. 3

Have Tanooki suit, will turn into statue for some reason.
Have Tanooki suit, will turn into statue for some reason.

Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of the best NES games ever made, and it's an important step for the Mario franchise. For the first time in any Mario game, you could get a power-up that let you fly. Forget Peach's floaty jump and the lame magic carpet in Super Mario Bros. 2. This game let you grab a leaf and wiggle your raccoon tail to soar among the clouds in search of stray coins, mushrooms, and mysteries. The ability to fly opened up the world of Super Mario Bros. in a big way. No longer were you limited to exploring the surface and the underground network of pipes, but you could also take to the sky. This opened up all kinds of new ways for the developers to reward your curiosity. For example, secret areas and special items, like the infamous magic flute, let you skip past many of the game's levels. But Super Mario Bros. 3 didn't stop at a leaf and a raccoon tail.

To be truly prepared for any situation, you needed the Tanooki suit. More than a simple power-up item, this treat was a full suit that Mario could wear to give him the power to fly. It also gave him the ability to turn into a statue and squash or evade enemies. The only drawback was that you had to make sure you didn't accidentally turn into a statue while over a bottomless pit. The Tanooki suit wasn't as abundant as the leaves or mushrooms, but players quickly figured out where to find this treat, and it remains one of the most sought-after items in the game.

Just like trick-or-treaters everywhere, Mario knows how much of a difference the right costume can make. Sadly, the Tanooki suit was hung up in the closet after Super Mario Bros. 3. But it remains a favorite treat of Mario fans the world over, and it's just as fun to get today as it was when the game first came out more than 15 years ago.


1x4 I-block - Tetris Series

Look out below!
Look out below!

If you've been playing video games for a while, chances are that the first game you really got hooked on was one of those nefarious puzzle games. And that game was most likely Tetris, a game that has glued people to their monitors, TV screens, and handhelds for more than 20 years now. It's really a simple game: Your sole task is to remove lines in a 10x20 window by fitting together geometric shapes that descend at an increasingly fast pace. For conservative players, this means zapping each line, one by one, until the pace quickens, the lines bust, and a teensy little rocket launches in honor of their paltry score. For these people, Tetris is more of a hobby than a life choice, so they don't understand the finer points of pounding out insane scores.

For those who consider "tetromino" a valid, Tetris-related word, there is only one way to play this game: pursing the substantial score multipliers you get by clearing four lines at once to boost your score to astronomical heights. Although you have seven different pieces at your disposal, only the I-shaped, 1x4 block is capable of finishing off your construct, which is why you want it to queue up next. Sure, greedily building a block tower with one lone strip of free space can lead to some dangerously close calls, but it's these dramatic interludes that make finally slamming home the I-block all the more gratifying.

Casual Tetris players may have scored a few four-row score bonuses, but true Tetris addicts--the ones who can't stop fitting tetrominoes together in their heads long after they've shut down their games--know what we're talking about.


Power Pellet - Pac-Man Series

See how the worm has turned? The hunter has become the hunted!
See how the worm has turned? The hunter has become the hunted!

The power pellet is the original video game treat--an item that let the vulnerable Pac-Man get the upper hand on his goggle-eyed ghost oppressors. By now, almost everyone should be familiar with the story of the classic arcade game Pac-Man. We know about the title character's imprisonment in a maze filled with dots he must devour; the constant attacks on his person by the ghostly Inky, Pinky, Blinky, and Clyde; and the totally insane alarm siren that constantly plays in the background. And, of course, we all know of Pac-Man's one shot at salvation--those great, big, flashing pellets that are off in the corners of the map.

Pac-Man, originally released in 1979, was one of the first arcade games to make a real impact. It inspired TV cartoons, a top-40 pop song, and more merchandise than you can wave a bag of quarters at. But at its core, the actual gameplay of Pac-Man was simple: eat or be eaten. The game's hectic chases were something that players had never seen or experienced before. And being able to turn the tables on your pursuers by devouring them was one of the first truly satisfying video game experiences that most of us ever had. At least until those dastardly ghosts stopped flashing and started chasing us again.


Stars - Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!

Glass Joe has no idea what's in store for him.
Glass Joe has no idea what's in store for him.

It's the last round of the Major Circuit title fight. Both fighters are worn out and could hit the canvas at any time. The smaller, lighter challenger is behind on points, and he's going to lose unless he can dig down deep and knock the champ down in the last few seconds. Earlier in the fight, he notices a pattern to his opponent's attacks, and suddenly that pattern appears again. The diminutive pugilist throws a quick punch, stunning his opponent. Somehow the tiny boxer is able to summon tremendous power. One ferocious uppercut later, the champ is lying face down on the mat, being counted out by a short, pudgy Italian referee.

Anyone who has played Mike Tyson's Punch-Out! knows what this feels like and will fondly remember the satisfaction of earning and then using a star punch in the NES classic. Hitting your opponent at just the right time would earn your boxer, Little Mac, a star (he could have up to three at any time). Hitting the start button would cause Mac to spend that star by throwing a leaping uppercut, causing tremendous damage to his opponent. There was a huge risk-versus-reward element to the whole system as well. Most of the time, earning a star required precise timing, and if you were just a second too early or late, your opponents--especially Iron Mike--would dodge your punch then make you pay.

Waiting to use a star punch until your opponent's health bar got low was a good strategy for getting knockouts. But because you lost a star each time you got hit, each second you waited increased the chance of losing your power. Stars were an exciting addition to one of the most memorable NES games ever, and a great treat that could sometimes mean the difference between victory and defeat.


Meat - Final Fight

The only thing better than floor meat is floor meat you find after smashing a stack of tires.
The only thing better than floor meat is floor meat you find after smashing a stack of tires.

Although the very act of handing out knuckle sandwiches to the likes of Bred, Andore Jr., and Damnd seems like a great way to kick off Halloween, Capcom's arcade brawler Final Fight did us all one better by scattering delicious foodstuff all across Metro City. In this side-scrolling arcade game, which later came home to the 16-bit SNES (as a chopped-up version, missing one playable character), you played as a vigilante hero who was out to rescue the fair damsel, Jessica, from the evil Mad Gears gang.

It wasn't easy. Sure, you could play as the courageous Cody (Jessica's boyfriend), his ninja pal, Guy, or Jessica's enraged, shirtless father and the mayor of the city, Mike Haggar. Sure, you could hammer on the attack button to perform brutal combination attacks that sent those no-good thugs reeling, but there were dozens of them and only a few of you. Plus, some of those guys could throw firebombs, perform sliding kicks, and even block your punches--dirty tricks that Cody, Guy, and Haggar would never stoop to (or, you know, benefit from).

Thankfully, there was one Metro City specialty that would always hit the spot: the plate of meat. This piping-hot delicacy would always fill your health to full and bail you out no matter how bad things were going, no matter how grimy the subway or city street you found it on, and no matter how many barrels, stacks of tires, or phone booths you had to smash to smithereens with your fists. A quick squat over a plate of meat and you were good to go.







That's it for our list of some of the best treats in video games. Leave us a comment and share your favorites with us!

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