A Mid-Year Backlog Update

As of this posting, I’m currently sitting at 28 games completed for 2017 — far more than I anticipated. I started off the year committed to chipping away at my backlog, and outside of a handful of new releases and reviews, I’ve done just that. Go me.

Continue reading “A Mid-Year Backlog Update”

The Bounty Board: Tracking my 2017 Game Completions

backlog

The purpose of this post is to keep track of my game completions throughout 2017, in a rarely seen optimistic attempt at slaying the never-ending backlog. To topple a giant, you either stab it in the eye or hack away at its ankles. I’m… not really sure where I was going with that, but hey, #inspirationalquotes and stuff.

Continue reading “The Bounty Board: Tracking my 2017 Game Completions”

Buried Under the Backlog: Wii U Edition

With the Nintendo Switch on the horizon, I’ve organized my Wii U’s backlog in order to see how long it’d take to clear it all out for good. Not necessarily because I’m aching to shelve the thing, but it just so happens to be the smallest of my gaming libraries.

Continue reading “Buried Under the Backlog: Wii U Edition”

Buried Under the Backlog: Trimming the Fat

Having too many games to play sounds like the best kind of problem, doesn’t it? “It never ends,” he says, swimming through piles of dusty game cases like Scrooge fucking McDuck.

Glancing over at my shelf, and knowing what’s on my console hard-drives, it’s a mix of games I purchased with an intent to play immediately and others I picked up during a sale. If the price is right, I usually don’t mind waiting for a rainy day.

However, it occurred to me during my recent attempt at stomaching the mondern day monstrosity known as Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, that giving up and moving on is just fine and dandy. I wish I would have considered this before wasting ten hours of my life, though. Continue reading “Buried Under the Backlog: Trimming the Fat”

Buried Under the Backlog

Every so often I pass by my game shelf, or turn on any one of my consoles, and crumble under the weight of my backlog. It’s fucking atrocious.

Sometimes it gets so bad that when it comes time to choose the next game, I don’t even know what to pick. Gaming anxiety is weird. Lately I’ve gone with shorter games just to feel like I’m crossing something off the list, but it’s not always what I want to play at that moment.

I’m really hoping to get out of that mindset.

This post is going to be a little boring to most, as it’s mainly a way for me to keep track of games that I own that I legitimately want to get to sooner rather than later.

In no particular order, this is what I’m working with:

  • Banjo-Kazooie (Xbox One)
  • Banjo-Tooie (Xbox One)
  • Alan Wake (Xbox One)
  • Red Dead Redemption (Xbox 360)
  • Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster (PS3 or Vita)
  • Final Fantasy XIII (PS3)
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2 (PS3)
  • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (PS3)
  • Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remaster (PS3)
  • Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remaster (PS3)
  • Ico & Shadow of the Colossus HD Remaster (PS3)
  • Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3)
  • Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (PS3)
  • Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3)
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PS4)
  • Silent Hill: Homecoming (PS3)
  • Siren: Blood Curse episodes 1-13 (PS3)
  • Deadly Premonition: Director’s Cut (PS3)
  • Resident Evil: Revelations (PS3)
  • Resident Evil HD Remaster (PS4)
  • Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster (PS4)
  • Okami HD (PS3)
  • Until Dawn (PS4)
  • Bloodborne (PS4)
  • Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (PS4)
  • Dark Souls III (PS4)
  • Uncharted 3 (PS4)
  • Uncharted 4 (PS4)
  • Valkyria Chronicles Remastered (PS4)
  • Persona 4 Golden (Vita)
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (Vita)
  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair (Vita)
  • Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward (Vita)
  • Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth (3DS)
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV (3DS)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD Remaster (Wii U)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD (Wii U)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (3DS VC)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (3DS VC)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (3DS VC)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Wii U VC)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (Wii U VC)
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii U)
  • Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water (Wii U)
  • Rule of Rose (PS2)
  • Kuon (PS2)
  • Haunting Ground (PS2)
  • Silent Hill 4: The Room (Xbox)
  • The Banner Saga (PS4)
  • Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Wii U)
  • Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (PS4)
  • Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS)

So yeah, lots of lengthy RPGs and open-world games. The odds of making a dent in this list is slim to none, but at least I won’t be running out of things to play anytime soon. I’m not looking forward to the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, but they’re the only FF games I haven’t played and my gaming OCD demands it.

What’s your backlog like right now? Equally depressing?

Four in February: Let’s Get Started!

4infeb

Four in February is an annual event where gamers are challenged to pick four games from their backlog and complete them by the end of the month. It’s a great way to divert your attention back to the games you’ve already spent money on, and it’s something I’ve enjoyed participating in for the last few years.

I usually pick a few of my shorter games, throwing in something a little meatier as extra credit. As you know, plans often change, but as long as I finish 4 games in February I consider it a success.

So what’s on the menu this month?

deadnation

#1: Dead Nation (Vita)

What is it?: Dead Nation is a twin-stick shoot-em-up that arrived on the PS3 way back in 2010. An updated version, the Apocalypse Edition, released on the PS4 and Vita in 2014, which I just picked up during last week’s flash sale on PSN.

I’d describe it as a fusion of Left 4 Dead and Diablo, where you mow down hordes of zombies, collect new armor pieces, and use the in-game currency to buy and upgrade a variety of weapons.

It’s my current go-to game, since it’s easy to pick up and blast through a few levels before bed (or in the bathroom–TMI, I know). I loved Resogun on PS4 and Dead Nation is definitely hyping me up for Housemarque’s upcoming shooter, Alienation.

grimfandango2

#2: Grim Fandango Remastered (Vita or PS4)

What is it?: A classic LucasArts point-and-click adventure game from 1998, remastered by Double Fine Productions for Playstation consoles in 2015. Often touted as one of the greatest adventure games of all time, it was ironically a commercial failure when it released and contributed to LucasArts’ decision to abandon the genre altogether.

It has a neat film noir aesthetic and traditional Tim Schafer jocular narrative that plays on Aztec folklore, which sounds awesome. I didn’t play many PC games growing up, and as an adventure game fan I’m glad I have a chance to give it a go on my Vita. Hopefully I enjoy it, since I’m looking forward to Double Fine’s Day of the Tentacle remaster later this year.

soundshapes

#3: Sound Shapes (Vita)

What is it?: A 2D platformer with a central focus on creating music, featuring tracks from Beck, Deadmau5, Jim Guthrie, and more.

At first glance, Sound Shapes is a standard platformer–you control a circular blob that clings to walls, and use this mechanic to avoid a variety of hazards in your quest to reach the level’s end. Each level is built around a song though, which you build layer by layer as you grab collectibles along the way. What begins as bare bones background noise eventually culminates in a complex composition by some highly talented musical artists.

It’s an extraordinary game that I really enjoyed, but never got around to finishing.

dokidoki

#4: Doki Doki Universe (Vita)

What is it?: An odd adventure game/personality test hybrid by the folks at HumaNature Studios (the developers of ToeJam & Earl for Sega Genesis).

In Doki Doki Universe, you play as a robot left behind by your human family. You’re discovered 40 years later by a Sims-speaking alien named Jeff, who informs you that your model is being discontinued for lacking humanity. You need to prove that you can evolve and adapt by flying a pig to different planets, fulfilling quests, and taking personality quizzes. It’s… weird. But adorable.

fallout4

Extra Credit: Fallout 4 (PS4)

What is it?: An incredible blend of Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Pit-Fighter. It’s fucking Fallout 4. It’s also way too big to try and squeeze in with three other games.

For extra credit, my girlfriend and I are currently battling our way through the Commonwealth in Fallout 4. We’re both full time college students, so I’m not sure we’ll have the time to finish it up by the 29th (leap year!). If we do, great, but if not, oh well. Neither of us are in a hurry to beat it.

Our first go at the game didn’t really grab us, so we started over with a melee-focused build and a better understanding of the game as a whole. We’re exploring a lot more, modding weapons and armor, and being smarter with our perk chart, which has proved helpful on numerous occasions. We also encountered the ghoul of a conspiracy theorist building a mini-nuke in his cellar, stumbled upon a hippy commune occupied by a stoned robot, and got mauled by a few bears, so that’s a plus.

The last time we played, neither of us were thrilled with the lackluster gunplay, the cumbersome UI of the Pip Boy, or the frequent technical issues we experienced on PS4. Subtitles were constantly locked on the screen after conversations, our dog was always stuck in walls or floors, and we had to restart the game 5 different times after it bugged out when we escaped the opening cryo chamber.

It sucked. We were close to selling it, actually, but it’s more fun now that we’re treating it like Skyrim… just with land mines and radiation poisoning.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on my Vita lately, be it playing games, watching YouTube videos, or binging a Netflix show (currently The Flash.) However, my backlog over there largely consists of JRPGs, which are known to be pretty lengthy, and a handful of digital titles that I’d like to move on with and free up some memory card space. That makes these ideal candidates.

If you’re suffocating under a daunting backlog, or just want to knock a few games out to sell for newer stuff, I definitely encourage you to give Four in February a go. It’s an excuse to tackle some of your older games, and sometimes that’s all you need. An excuse.

A good place to start is HowLongToBeat.com, which shows you the average completion time of each game, based on their community’s submissions. There’s even a Four in February Facebook page to check out if you’re looking for likeminded gamers to keep you motivated (or maybe give you some ideas).

Interested? What are your picks?

*Header image source: Four in February’s Facebook page.

January Game Completions: Suck it, Backlog!

tombraider

My backlog is atrocious. Every day I walk by the game shelf that sits next to my TV and wonder if I’ll ever have time to play all of this stuff. Then I turn on my Xbox One, my PS4, or my Vita and feel the same way about the abundance of digital downloads. It’s daunting, that’s for sure.

At the beginning of the year I made a decision to be more conscious and smart about the games I bought, focusing instead on putting a dent in my backlog. Throughout the month of January, I did just that. And it felt awesome.

Over the last 30 days, I’ve managed to complete the following:

  1. Uncharted: Golden Abyss (Vita)
  2. Batman: Arkham Knight (PS4)
  3. Velocity 2X (Vita)
  4. Volume (Vita)
  5. Superbeat XONiC (Vita)
  6. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture (PS4)
  7. SOMA (PS4)
  8. Actual Sunlight (Vita)
  9. Three-Fourths Home: Extended Edition (Vita)
  10. The Unfinished Swan (Vita)
  11. Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox One)

Of all the games I completed this month, none impressed me more than SOMA.

I have little attachment to Frictional Games’ Amnesia series, being a core console gamer and all, but their sci-fi tale about the humanization of artificial intelligence is pretty mind blowing.

Intense stealth segments were spread out far enough so it never felt as stressful as Alien: Isolation, which allowed the haunting environments, moral judgments, and story to take center stage. Just an incredible game overall.

Had I played SOMA in 2015, it would have easily cracked my top 5.

Uncharted: Golden Abyss took me by surprise as well. It was the first game I played on my new handheld, and as someone who normally loathes gimmick controls, I actually enjoyed how intimately it used the Vita’s features. It really is a rock solid action-adventure game, and not just by handheld standards.

Aside from Rocksteady botching a pivotal character’s identity in the costume select screen, Batman: Arkham Knight was pretty flawless. The action was fantastic, and it was good about keeping things fresh throughout. The moment I started getting bored, something new was introduced–be it a massive game of “the floor is lava,” or the arrival of new optional content. I also know I’m one of the few who enjoyed blowing shit up in the Batmobile.

I uninstalled the game before I got around to the Season of Infamy DLC, so I’ll have to revisit it again at some point. DC’s villains are some of my favorites.

Rise of the Tomb Raider improved upon the 2013 reboot in every way imaginable. The gunplay, the action, the exploration, it’s just a phenomenal experience. It’s also one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever seen.

I couldn’t possibly care less about the story, though. It was dull, predictable, and I didn’t feel invested in the characters at all. That didn’t stop me from enjoying it, but the frequent interruption by uninteresting audio diaries was a bit bothersome. Especially after I had already given up on the narrative and wanted to forget it existed just so I could get back to collecting stuff and raiding tombs.

Actual Sunlight was a 60-minute gut punch about depression and suicide. If you have a Vita, an hour, and a couple dollars to spare, I highly recommend giving it a go.

Three-Fourths Home is a visual novel that flew under my radar last year. It has this neat monochromatic 8-bit style, and was a nice (albeit depressing) game to chill out with for an uninterrupted hour or two.

Throughout the game, protagonist Kelly is driving home in the midst of a massive thunderstorm in rural Nebraska. During the drive she receives a phone call from her mother and you choose between different dialogue options, rather than being responsible and asking her to call back later. Sounds simple, sure, but the conversation isn’t going to cheer you up. It’s relatable, sad, and worth every bit of its $5 asking price.

Both narrative games were brought to my attention by Greg Miller and Colin Moriarty at Kinda Funny, whom I trust with any Vita recommendation. Neither disappointed, and if you’re looking for something to play on a short trip, they’re cheap, intriguing, and memorable experiences.

Knocking these games out has been great, and I hope the momentum carries in to February. Every year I take part in Four in February, which I’ll go in-depth with in another post. It’s a yearly thing the gaming community does where you pick 4 games from your backlog and try to take them out before the end of the month. And now I’m out of short games.

Damn.

I’m not sure if this has to do with writing my own blog at my own pace now, or finding the motivation to just sit down and enjoy things, but aside from games I’ve also managed to binge watch all of How to Get Away With Murder, Making a Murderer, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Master of None, and most of The Flash’s first season this year. On top of going to school full time.

It’s an odd feeling, this “getting shit done.”