What makes a good video game sidequest? The optional diversions in big games like Mass Effect 2 don't always delight players. Sometimes, they even tick them off. The New York Times, reviewing ME2, seems conflicted:
Most of the game is spent on a series of side missions in which you build and strengthen your team of fellow adventurers. Those side quests are well constructed, and a few of them are quite emotionally poignant. But in the big story of attacking and defeating the alien menace and saving humanity, they can feel like endless throat-clearing and busywork.
"Throat-clearing" and "busywork"? How would you like to be able to describe sidequests in the games you play? Sadly, I suspect most of the side quests I've played over the years — bear in mind I haven't played Mass Effect 2 — did indeed feel like busywork. There are exceptions, like the wedding quest in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. But it rings true in this review that sidequests could be the drag on the momentum of an entertaining game.
Dragging Out a Galaxy Rescue [The New York Times]