Last Year: “Heck, in terms of more traditional sandbox games (you not, not like Fallout 3), the only one I played through this year was Driver: Parallel Lines (finally!). I think a goal for 2013 will be to try to tackle a few more of those and clean out the backlog a bit. We'll see. “
Well, I didn't do as many as I had hoped, but I did manage to take down three notable sandbox titles: Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (meh), Saints Row (ok), and Saints Row 2 (AWESOME). The real improvement this year was in how many RPGs I managed to play through: 16! That's twice what I did last year and while there were some repeats (Dark Souls again on 360 and then on PC, Mass Effect 1 and 2 on PS3 instead of PC this time, and the PS1 release of Tales of Phantasia), it was also the year I finally rekindled my interest in the MegaTen series with both Soul Hackers (which I've been wanting to play since the mid 90s) and Shin Megami Tensei IV (funky difficulty curve and all). Ton of fun with both of those.
I also finally played Divine Divinity, which I've avoided for years because of its surface similarities to Diablo, but it really has a lot more in common with Baldur's Gate (aside from lacking a party). Absolutely top notch game experience that I can't recommend enough to a PC RPG fan looking for something fresh. In 2014 I hope to take on Divinity II (skipping Beyond Divinity due to terrible word of mouth and reviews) and Original Sin (which I totally backed on Kickstarter).
In total I was able to clear out 47 games this year, a bulk of which were natively on PS3 (14) and PC (11), both of which go up a bit further when you factor in emulation (+2 PS1 games on PS3, +5 PS2 games on PC, +1 PS1 game on PC).
Average review scores were up from the last few years, coming in at an average of about 80% according to the GameRankings aggregates. Review scores aren't everything (The Bureau received a paltry 61.9%, Liberty City Stories got a grossly overinflated 78.0%, and Call of Juarez- The Cartel bombed with a 45.9% despite being decent fun), but it's kind of neat to see how my completion list for the year sit with the critics.
Collection sizes ramped up significantly for PS3 and PS2 this year as they are my primary collection platforms. New consoles added to the collection this year include a Wind Waker HD WiiU bundle, red 3DS XL, Link Between Worlds 3DS XL, and an Ouya.
The Ouya had some real promise but the botched execution and weak support from major publishers is seriously killing it. SquareEnix's android port of Final Fantasy III was fantastic on the platform, but it doesn't look like they have any plans to port over Final Fantasy IV or Final Fantasy Dimensions. About the only two games that see any action on the system anymore are Towerfall and Knightmare Tower, though to be fair I haven't attempted to wade through the awful storefront in months to see if anything else was worth trying. Oh, and I bought Shadowgun for the thing at one point based on the reviews it had gotten. Still haven't been able to force myself through it. It's pretty bad, and not in a tongue-in-cheek way.
Actually, as far as games released in 2013 go, I'm pretty happy with how many I was able to complete: 8+ (could go up to 11 or 12 depending on how you count). Not bad all all considering how bad the backlog is and how I typically put stuff off for a year or two.Breakdowns By System:
14 – PS3
11 – PC
05 – PS2
04 – 360
03 – 3DS
03 – Ouya
03 – PS1
02 – NDS
01 – Dreamcast
01 – AndroidNewest Game Beaten
: Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (November 22, 2013)Oldest Game Beaten
: Arc the Lad (June 30, 1995)Modern Collections
: 100 (+2)Wii
: 80 (+14)WiiU
: 6 (+6)NDS
: 112 (+?)3DS
: 44 (+26)PS2
: 706 (+64)PS3
: 358 (+65)PSP
: 95 (+5)Vita
: 12 (+7)Xbox
: 210 (+/- 0)360
: 134 (+9)Previous Years2012201120102009200820072006
I done sold out
Pretty devoid of content; just threw up three posts of collection photos I took this weekend. Probably should have updated my collection photos BEFORE the tornados started rolling in but, eh, better late than never.
I would like to reshoot the PS2 stuff once I get a few more games in the mail... rounding out the collection with a couple of "oh yea, I totally meant to grab that years ago!" titles and I think I'm going to rebuy some stuff I already have on Xbox just because of PCSX2 (like Batman Begins).
After over 15 years of waiting, Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers has finally been released in the US. I was surprised that it got released on the 3DS but not too surprised that Atlus decided to bring it over, since the last decade has seen a shift towards them actually actively promoting their franchise in the US (as opposed to the sporadic and low key releases of stuff like Persona and Persona 2: Eternal Punishment in the 90s). I'd been a bit burned out on the series for years now and wasn't too sure if I'd be able to accept the aged warts of Soul Hackers, but it's a game I super wanted on my Saturn and, damn it, I was going to play the damn thing.
So I preordered that sucker and made sure my gaming queue was empty by the time it came in the mail. Then I played it. Played the hell out of it and I really enjoyed it. It had some design setbacks, but by and large, it was great.
As far as conversions go, they could have done a lot more with it. The analog nub is only usable in *some* menu screens and there's never any indication of when that time is. The touch screen is only used to toggle the debug/cheat menu, and there's no function to skip previously viewed cutscenes or dialogs...something you'll be wishing for on some of the more annoying boss battles. The most troublesome omission is the absence of any sort of spell chart telling you what each spell does.
If you're not really familiar with the franchise, the spell names will make no god damn sense to you. Imagine jumping into Phantasy Star IV without having played the previous games and without the benefit of a game manual. Now amplify that confusion by a factor of 10. That's Soul Hackers. For spells you've learned and for demons you've summoned, you can simply highlight the spell from the menu and learn about it, but that doesn't much help for demons you haven't summoned or demons you're trying to fuse. The digital manual doesn't include any helpful references and it's something that probably could have been avoided entirely if they had just fixed the menu cursor to be able to highlight those items.
It's an annoying and unnecessary barrier to enjoying the game, but it's well worth tolerating and working around. Use a FAQ or some other online guidance if you have to, because the game totally scratched those dungeon crawler and jrpg itches I had.
I did find myself looking at the bottom screen more than the top during dungeon sequences, and once I got the hang of demon fusion, I would habitually be mashing stuff together and floating the average demon level up every chance I got. Always went back to the ship to do it, always tried to get the best bang-for-my-buck on the inheritance, and I always had more than enough MAG to be able to rebuy demons for other purposes (like boosting Zoma's AGI as high as possible to give him more priority in the final battle). Heck, I even grew to enjoy sword fusion after I smashed Orochi into the sword and made the weapon I wound up using for the entire last quarter or so of the game.
The game took me 29hours and 59 minutes from start to finish, but that doesn't account for times I had to retry boss battles or when I died in a dungeon from some magical one-hit kill without saving for the last 5 minutes or so. Protip: Install the program on your COMP to let you save at any point. Takes up two slots, but not using it is a clear indication that you don't value your time or sanity at all.
Finished up Spirit Tracks a little while back and I would not recommend it to fans of Zelda games, or games that are fun in general. The train portions are awful and the last boss is a tedious chore. With any luck, this will be the last Zelda game in this style and future iterations will go with a sensible control scheme with overworld navigation that doesn't suck.
During the post-Spirit Tracks funk, I decided to fire up Arc the Lad on my Vita. Always heard it was super short and functioned as a nice little prelude to Arc the Lad II, so I figured it'd be a good game to hit up on the road. While it was a bit short (took me just under 12 hours), it was grindy as hell toward the end (about three of those hours were spent leveling up characters not named "Arc" before the last boss), the interface was terrible (you can't access your stats or change any equipment outside of combat), and the music was repetitive as hell (there's what...like three songs?). Hopefully Arc II isn't quite the chore to play, because even at 12 hours, the first game wore out its welcome midway through.
Currently playing Wild Arms (also on the Vita). I think I'd be enjoying it more if I was playing it in an emulator so that I could fastforward through the combat sequences. It's kind of simple but the battles get drawn out due to that mid-90s insistence on showing off how awesome the 3d engine was (which went full retard with Final Fantasy VII). Only about four hours in right now but otherwise not having a bad time.
As soon as I finish this up, I'm totally diving into Mass Effect on PS3.
Realized this weekend that I misplaced my breakout cables for my old TV tuner, so I went ahead and ordered a like-new replacement. After two days of searching and not turning up a darn thing, I figured $30 isn't too much to cry about.
This all came about from my Everdrive 64 coming in the mail the other day and wanting to be able to capture some video footage of various games, comparing how they look on a real console vs how they look under emulation.
Pretty light month for me so far, gaming-wise. I started off by finally playing through Eurocom's Quantum of Solace for PS2. It was an enjoyable cover-based third person shooter, but it felt a bit abrupt and rushed. There were some buggy bits in there that hindered the experience, but it was generally pretty dang enjoyable, it looked fantastic for a PS2 game, and it ran pretty well in PCSX2. From what I understand, it's quite a bit better than Treyarch's Quantum of Solace on the other platforms; I'm looking forward to finding that out firsthand in due time.
I chased that down by finally playing through Grand Theft Auto - Liberty City Stories. I think this was my third time attempting to tackle the game, and it took some serious effort to keep pushing myself through. The mission designs were spotty (and some were straight up bullshit difficult, like the chainsaw gang on the ship) and navigating the last island of the city was nowhere near as fun as I remembered it being back in GTA3 (which I haven't played since 2002). The first and second islands were still pretty enjoyably laid out and there were some notable high points in the campaign, but it ultimately felt like a padded out grind. The musical selection was pretty not-that-enjoyable, too. Pretty significant step down from the selection in Vice City and San Andreas.
Played Liberty City Stories through in PCSX2, which had the positive benefit of smoothing out the framerate. Wasn't really expecting that and it was a very welcome side effect. Unfortunately, the GSdx hardware plugin has a bug where the sniper scope doesn't work and the transparent portions of UI elements aren't properly hidden, so there were some graphical issues that I had to contend with. Nothing game breaking (though not being able to use the sniper rifle does make a few missions a bit more difficult than they would otherwise be).
Just the other week I finished my second playthrough of Dark Souls. This time I started with a thief character and focused on abusing what I learned from my first time through the game. Using the master key and farming the humanity from the NPCs, I was able to game some black knight weapons early and ended up using the black knight halberd for most of the game. I'd like to play through the game again... this time as a sorcerer. The only thing holding me back is wondering if I should wait until I get back home and do so on the PS3 instead of doing yet another run on the 360 (where I don't have the DLC). I REALLY want to do the DLC.
Fired up the PC version and played around with it for a bit, but the configuration options were pretty crappy and it didn't properly recognize my gamepad (with no option to better bind the controls). I think I'll just put up with the lower framerate and resolution of the PS3 version for the time being.
The other day I started up Legend of Zelda: The Spirit Tracks and while it does some pretty awesome stuff to improve the combat, bosses, and dungeons over Phantom Hourglass, the entire train system is AWFUL. I just got to the snow world and I'm wondering if I'll be able to force myself to deal with the train crap for the entire game. I probably wouldn't be nearly as bothered by it if it wasn't so boring and if clearing the tracks / avoiding enemies wasn't so annoying.
2012 was a pretty productive year, all things considered. Work was absolutely murder in the first half of the year, which really killed my pacing up until around May. I had planned on finally playing through Grand Theft Auto IV and its expansions this year, but that didn't happen. Heck, in terms of more traditional sandbox games (you not, not like Fallout 3), the only one I played through this year was Driver: Parallel Lines (finally!). I think a goal for 2013 will be to try to tackle a few more of those and clean out the backlog a bit. We'll see.
This year was notable for how many portable games I finally managed to play (13), how many RPGs I managed to finish up (8) and how many licensed games I decided to try out (7). I managed to take down all four HD God of War rereleases, just knocked out three SNES fan translations in the last week, and even managed to play through eight games released in 2012. In total, I played through 55 games, a nice jump up from the previous two years (40 in 2010 and 47 in 2011) and surprisingly productive despite real world factors.
Aggregate review scores are barely better than last year, but at least I'm still above 75%. There were some real anchors that kept it down; if you removed the bottom game (Battleship, 30.4%
), it alone boosts the annual average up 0.7%! Removing the next three lowest reviewed games bumps it up another 1.2%, but of those four anchors, I only really disliked one (Resistance: Burning Skies) whereas two were enjoyable for their own reasons (Battleship and Haze) despite not being terribly successful at what they were actually trying to do, and one (Medal of Honor Warfighter) is once again the misunderstood punching bag for modern shooters.
My collections exploded thanks to some ridiculously tempting sales throughout the year. In particular, my Wii collection jumped in size by 50% and, more impressively, PS3 collection went up by over 80%! It's at the point now where time to play isn't nearly as much of a concern as storage is, which is something I'm trying to figure out. There's a good chance that I'll be selling some stuff off that I don't need anymore to make room for the new items. Breakdowns By System
19 - PS3
11 - PC
06 - NDS
04 - 360
04 - PS2
04 - Vita
03 - SNES
02 - 3DS
01 - PSP
01 - WiiNewest Game Beaten
: Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion (November 18, 2012)Oldest Game Beaten
: Elder Scrolls: Arena (March 1994)Modern CollectionsNGC
: 98 (+2)Wii
: 66 (+22)PS2
: 642 (+54)Xbox
: 210 (+1)PS3
: 293 (+131)PSP
: 90 (+9)360
: 125 (+9)
Vita: 5 (+5)
3DS: 18 (+18)Previous Years201120102009200820072006
I have been waiting for this game to get released in English since I first learned of its existence in the late 90s. Arabian-themed games interest me and they're not terribly common (especially RPGs like Exile). I think the appeal to me is because of how much awesomely romanticized renditions like Prince of Persia and Quest For Glory 2 grabbed me, or perhaps from being raised on a healthy diet of Indiana Jones and other adventure movies. Either way, Arabian Nights absolutely looked like my cup of tea for the longest time and it frustrated me to no end that it was locked behind an impenetrable wall of moonspeak.( Read more...Collapse )
Don't mind the screenshots. I didn't crop them down from how they displayed on my television because I didn't super feel like it. If nothing else, imagine that on a 52" screen and that's how it looked when I was playing. Sure beats how Final Fantasy V looked on my (omg huge at the time) 17" CRT!
For a while there, Konami was doing some pretty slick stuff with their PS2 spine designs in the US. Instead of just having the normal title/serial number or the less-common-but-nice-looking wrap around artwork, they were inserting a set of three screenshots on the spines of their US-released games:
Looks like they stopped sometime after Silent Hill 2 and before Silent Hill 3, but the Suikoden series kept it going all the way through Suikoden V. Threw in copies of Shin Contra (J), Ring of Red (J), and Silent Hill 3 (U) for comparison there.
Looking back, it's kind of neat. I wish they still did it.
Now I think I'll dig around and see if I'm missing any of their games with the triple screen spines so I can round out my collection.
I never knew of this game's existence until someone posted about the translation patch on HG101 about two weeks ago. I was tied up with Treasure Hunter G at the time, so I had to wait until I finished that to give it a shot. Reading up on it, it looks like it was Eiji Aonuma's big break that got him picked up for addition to the Ocarina of Time crew (which he totally ROCKED and then went on to build some of my favorite entries in the Zelda franchise).( Read more...Collapse )
After years of hoping for an english translation and then just as long on the backburner, I've finally completed Treasure Hunter G. At the time, it was mostly notable for being the final Square release on a Nintendo platform, whereas now it's more notable for being Sting's first SRPG. It's more notable for either of those two points than for its actual merits as a game, but I'm glad I was finally able to play through it.( Read more...Collapse )