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Broken Xbox Live Achievements on Windows Phone

For many gamers, Xbox Live Achievements are the Windows Phone platform’s main selling point. They provide primary and secondary goals to strive for in games. They also make it easy for other people to see what you’ve accomplished. Earning Achievements contributes to GamerScore – an overall score that quantifies a person’s accomplishments across Xbox 360, Windows Phone, and Games for Windows Live games. It’s a brilliant and addictive system.

Except when something goes wrong. Despite the apparently rigorous testing that games undergo during the Xbox Live certification process, sometimes a game is released with one or more with unobtainable Achievements. We call an Achievement broken or glitched when it is impossible for gamers to unlock through any means.

Why are glitched Achievements a big deal? As I said, people get addicted to earning Achievements. Obsessive compulsive types eat them up. People who really buy into the Achievement system sort of calculate the full 200 GamerScore into a game’s purchase price. They feel ripped off if they can’t get the full 200 no matter what they do. Even for less compulsive gamers, it can be frustrating to go through the effort to satisfy an Achievement’s unlock conditions and find that it didn’t unlock.

Head past the jump for the full list of broken Xbox Live Achievements and what’s being done to fix them.

Where do glitched Achievements come from?

Before we talk about specific games, let’s look at how it’s even possible for a game to release with an unobtainable Achievement. When we spoke with an Xbox Live developer (who asked to remain anonymous) about the Xbox Live certification process, he had this to say:

“As a developer you can’t actually test LIVE functionality properly – only within a debug environment. Only Microsoft can test in a “real” LIVE environment. This meant that there may well be problems that you can’t detect while making and testing the game. It also means if they are detected, you can’t debug them or even tell exactly what’s going on, so they’re very hard to fix. This was compounded by the fact that Microsoft don’t seem to test this side of the process until well into submission – in fact until you’ve pretty much finished submission and gone through several rounds of testing.”

That’s the heart of the problem – developers can’t actually test Achievements themselves. It’s up to Microsoft’s testers to make sure they work. Actually testing Achievements can be difficult and time consuming (depending on the Achievement), so things sometimes slip through the cracks.

Once a game debuts on the Marketplace and ends up in dedicated gamers’ hands, that’s when glitched Achievements can rear their ugly heads. Players complain, and the developer usually responds by correcting the bug with a software update.

Games with unobtainable Achievements

Unfortunately, several Windows Phone games still have broken Achievements months after release. Here are the ones we know about:

Crackdown: Project Sunburst by Microsoft Game Studios 

Problem Achievement: Slumber Party - Score a kill at 10 Friend's bases.

Here’s a rarity: an Achievement that initially worked (I have it) but became broken following a title update. Slumber Party is tied to Project Sunburst’s rudimentary multiplayer substitute in which players visit a friend’s base. March’s version 1.2 update broke the ability to visit other people’s bases, thus preventing further players from earning the Achievement.

Solution status: We reached out to the game’s developer at Microsoft Game Studios but did not receive a response. Considering how buggy the game is even after several patches, the prognosis of Slumber Party returning to life is not good.

UPDATE: The game has been permanently pulled from the Marketplace. Nobody will be earning Slumber Party in the future.

I Dig It by InMotion Software 

Problem Achievements:

  • Egyptian Explorer - Complete the Egyptian expedition.
  • Egyptologist - Complete your collection of Egyptian artifacts.
  • Mushroom Farmer - Collect 100 mushrooms from the Cavern expedition.
  • Entomologist - Collect 30 small ants and 10 large ants from the Amazonian expedition.
  • Venting - Plug 10 geothermal vents in the Oceanic expedition.
  • Junk Collector - Complete your collection of the junk diggins from the Farm.

I Dig It, bless its little heart, ties with Brain Challenge HD for the most broken Achievements of any Xbox Live title. The game itself is extremely buggy and doesn’t track the items that players collect correctly. Some people have managed to get a few of the above Achievements, but for many they simply don’t unlock.

Solution Status: As of April 11, InMotion had submitted an update that corrected all of I Dig It’s known issues. Two months later, Microsoft has not chosen to publish the update. I feel for your plight, I Dig It players.

UPDATE: The version 1.1 patch went live during the fall, at last fixing the game's Achievements.

Rise of Glory by Revo Solutions Games

Problem Achievements:

  • 500 Kills - Accumulate 500 kills during game time
  • 1,000 Kills - Accumulate 1,000 kills during game time
  • 10,000 Kills - Accumulate 10,000 kills during game time

These are self-explanatory. The 10,000 kills Achievement is simply assumed to be broken as no one has actually earned that ludicrous number of kills so far. It would certainly suck to grind out so many kills and not get the Achievement, but Rise of Glory players would probably notice something was up when the preceding Achievements didn’t unlock either.

Solution status:

The developer submitted an update fixing these Achievements sometime prior to May, but Microsoft still hasn’t published it. Come on, big M!

UPDATE! The version 1.2 patch finally came out at the end of July and fixed these Achievements.

Brain Challenge HD by Gameloft

Problem Achievements:

  • Get the Game - Unlock one mini-game in Training Mode
  • Get All the Game - Finish all of mini-game in Training mode
  • Combo User - Get 30 combos in any mode!
  • 40% Brain Usage - Reach 40% Brain Usage!
  • 60% Brain Usage - Reach 60% Brain Usage!
  • 80% Brain Usage - Reach 80% Brain Usage!

Clearly Brain Challenge has some serious Achievement issues. Some users have received one or two of these Achievements, but nobody has the 40, 60, or 80% ones.

Solution status: We contacted Gameloft quite a while back but received no response. Anecdotally, an Xbox360Achievements.org user reached out to them and was told that “nothing [is] wrong with the game.” Gameloft’s Windows Phone support has been less than stellar so far, so Brain Challenge may never receive a fix.

Revolution by Playful Art

Problem Achievement: Empty Fort Knox - Earn 225 gold medals.

This Achievement requires players to earn a gold medal on every level of the game. Sadly, it’s impossible to do that on level 47. Four gears are required for that level’s gold, but the game only provides three.

Solution status: According to Playful Art, the Achievement issue has been fixed for months. However, the update keeps getting rejected by Microsoft because of other problems that became apparent during the certification process. Since level 47 is all that matters to actual gamers, it’s a shame that a stopgap update hasn’t been certified.

Zombies!!! by Babaroga

Problem Achievement: Was it worth it? - Use 3 or more Hearts in a single combat, then win by using Bullets.

Combat in Zombies!!! is decided by dice rolls. To lose three Hearts in a battle, players would need to roll a three or lower three times in a row. On the fourth roll they would still need to roll three or less and then choose to use bullets to supplement the roll and win the fight. Statistically, that won't happen every time, but it should happen sometimes. Don't factor in the first three rolls. Once you get to the fourth roll, the odds of rolling one, two, or three should be fifty percent. But many players like me have tried for hours and never gotten that lucky fourth roll. It's not like we're trying to roll one specific number - the algorithm is messed up. A few people do have this Achievement, but it remains unobtainable for most.

Solution status: Babaroga wouldn’t actually admit that there is a problem (gotta disagree, guys), but they do apparently plan to make it easier to get anyway.

UPDATE: The Zombies!!! Mango update fixed the problem on 7/22/11.

Super Monkey Ball by Sega

Problem Achievements:

  • Crowned Champion - Get a crown on every stage of a world
  • Conquer Space Case World - Complete all of the stages of the Space Case World

To earn a crown on a level, players must collect all 10 bananas on the level and finish it without dying. Each world has 20 levels, so that’s 20 crowns to earn. Due to the game’s poor controls and high difficulty, the only level on which this is even feasible is the first, Monkey Island. Sadly, the Achievement doesn’t unlock even if all 20 crowns are earned in a single session.

As for completing Space Case World, the final level of the game is just about impossible, so perhaps the developers thought they didn't need the Achievement to actually work. But a few gamers have braves the game's frustration and beaten the last level, only to find they didn't get the hardest Achievement.

Solution status:

We contacted Sega, who were apparently unaware of the Achievement issues. They couldn’t commit to fixes, but I remain hopeful.

UPDATE: The 'Crowned Champion' Achievement was sort of fixed on September 24, but unfortunately players are now required to earn crowns on every single level of the game instead of every stage of a world as the Achievement description states.

Enigmo by Pangea Software/Chaotic Moon Studios

Problem Achievement: Mad Scientist - Complete all 50 levels.

This one’s for beating the game. Unfortunately, it doesn’t unlock.

Solution status: As of May 10, Chaotic Moon had submitted a fix. Like I Dig It and Rise of Glory, we’re just waiting on Microsoft to actually publish the update.

UPDATE: The patch finally went live on December 20, fixing the problem.

Games with mislabeled or semi-glitched Achievements

Sometimes an Achievement is obtainable, but its description is incorrect or it takes more work than intended. Here’s a brief listing of games with problematic but not impossible Achievements:

The Oregon Trail HD by Gameloft

Problem Achievement: Gold Digger - Collect 50 pounds of gold and 8 diamonds without gettin' any bad stones on yer way to Oregon

“It only seems to unlock on Ultra Hard settings when selecting the option "Take a Risk", which gives you less time to collect gold and gives you a higher goal to reach.” Source: Xbox360Achievements.org

Pocket God by NGMOCO

Problem Achievement: Shark Snap – God - Score over 100 shark snaps.

This actually requires 1000 shark snaps instead of 100. The developers plan to knock the requirement down to the proper 100 in a future update.

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX by Namco

Problem Achievement: Big eater – Eat 100 ghosts!

Players have to achieve a combo in Ghost Combo of 100 or greater. The developers apparently plan to make the Achievement cumulative across all modes in a future update.

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That’s it for WPCentral’s first broken Achievement roundup. Feel free to tip us if you discover more games whose Achievements need repairs.

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Reader comments

Broken Xbox Live Achievements on Windows Phone

25 Comments

There are also broken achievements in Fruit Ninja. I don't know if I'm the only one who gets that but the "100 score in classic mode" doesn't unlock. I even tried getting exactly 100 in case that's what the achievement meant. There's also the 150,500, and 1000 fruit total that don't unlock.

If you initially had the trial and then upgraded to the full version, you just need to uninstall/reinstall the game. Same thing happened to me. Nonetheless, it should be patched.

I have all the achivements in FruitNinja. I remember I had broblems with the 100 score in classic. I think I had to uninstall and reinstall to get it.I think the problem came up because I first used the trail, and got the achivement there, so when I got the score again after buying the game it did not register.I would try re-installing the game if you have not tryed that.The Project Sunburst achivement is realy anoying. Have all the other achivements, and keep loging into the game now and then to see if it works... Hope they can fiks it with an update soon.

I whole-heartedly approve of this article. I've got Revolution, and Super Monkey Ball waiting to be played on my phone. I can't bring myself to enjoy them, knowing that they're broken. I really hope we can convince the developers to fix their games.I think I'll go hassle Sega on Twitter.

You would be better off earning the 20 crowns now (there's an exploit to make it easier) and then if SMB gets patched, the Achievement would instantly unlock for you. With Revolution, you could Gold all the other levels and just have that one level waiting. But if you have other stuff to keep you busy in the meantime, it's not a big deal.

Actually, that's not a bad idea. It'll be better than spitefully glaring at them on my game list. (I'm terrified to delete anything in case they disappear like Twin Blades did)

THANK YOU! Been trying to get the devs of Revolution to fix for a while now, to no avail. I would suggest keeping a static page somewhere on the site so that it doesn't disappear like other articles. Obviously, it doesn't need prominence like other site pages, but it should be something that grabs the dev's and Microsoft's attention.

Zombies "Was it worth it?" achievement is not completely unobtainable (as the article claims), 35 people on TrueAchievements have it.

Might adjust the wording slightly. A few people have managed it, while many others like myself have not (after hours of trying).

The reason we got it is we did the quit out and try again trick which with luck takes only a few hours for me it took around 4 hours of just quitting out and reloading to get it.

I appreciate this article. I plan to hold off on any games that have broken achievements until they are fixed. How do we light a fire under Microsoft for holding back these updates?

Yeah the Doodle Jump "UFO" achievement is another.I still have Revolution and Enigmo on my games lists won't start them 'till they're fixed.

Paul,Babaroga doesn’t need to admit that the achievement “Was it worth it?” is glitched because it is not. A search will yield the following - http://tinyurl.com/626um8k, the first link does work. The reason you aren’t seeing it is because the chance of a rolling three or lower, four times is a very small number.

The chances of rolling that low in reality is much higher than in the game. That link you posted though, a Bing search for the letter Z? :\

This is true I only bought the phone for achievements (now my favorite phone though in general). but microsoft takes forever to make updates available it seems

Fantastic article. Now it just needs to gain enough attention at MS for someone to do something about it...Spam @KarlStricker with a link to this article. This is his teams responsibility to be fixed.

A similar problem is evident if you've ever had a situation where the phone is reset - either intentionally or otherwise. This can also apply to a given game app being uninstalled and then re-installed.In most cases, you re-gain achievements because there is no data correlating to what is needed to acquire a given achievement. This is especially the case where the achievement is accumulation-driven, such as with score or collecting things.The underlying cause is that the game app doesn't check the current list of achievements for the player for a given game. In a way, this is similar to restoring state from Tombstoning, except it must be checked against Xbox Live. What then happens is the player must start all over, only to have "false positives" when it comes to satisfying the requirements for an achievement that was already obtained.This really sounds as if there has to be a new certification requirement for game apps that use Xbox Live such that for every achievement the game must restore certain criteria to at least the minimum needed for the achievement.Obviously it won't be perfect. For example, if the achievement was for scoring 2,000 points and the player actually had 3,000; but it'll be a closer approximation and will avoid any duplication of registering achievements, as well as forcing the player to have to do everything over again.

The "All Year Round" of Deer Hunter 3D seems glitched too as no one has it as of now. And someone's pointed out that he couldn't get it.God! There are just so MANY games with broken achievements!

True, I forgot about Deer Hunter. I remember I emailed them and they said "it means go on 365 hunting trips", even though my email blatantly said that doesn't work. They never replied after that. Also Paul, for "Rise of Glory", the 500 and 1000 are definitely bugged. However, someone has actually confirmed 5000 works, (see here: http://www.trueachievements.com/a78824/5000-kills-achievement.htm ) No-one has got as far as 10,000 yet, so technically that may or may not be bugged, we don't know. And, Sega recently updated my Super Monkey Ball support ticket from "open" to "under investigation" - fingers crossed!