In this month’s short and late report, I talk about what has been eating at me this month, my first real posts this year, the games that I’ve been playing, and the secret to a healthy lifestyle.
Life (The cereal is better)
February has been rough. I started the month by injuring my back around the same area where my shingles occurred. Luckily, the devil bumps did not return, but now I need to see a chiropractor to make sure I didn’t damage anything too bad. I’m afraid what the beginning of March will do to me since I have a feeling my body is conspiring to kill me.
My mental state has been taking a beating as well. I have come to terms that I need to find a new job. Long story short, administration going to admin. I am burnt out from the work that my coworkers and I busted our asses to make happen in a short period of time, only for our director to just give us a thumbs up. No thanks. No acknowledgement like the other directors did for their teams. No stipends. No appreciation whatsoever. I love this place and the community, but I refuse to continue working for someone who has zero interest and respect for the people who keep things running. I’m sorry if this is all very negative, but I need to vent and have my resolve documented.
With that said, the plan is to move over the summer. To where? It is a coin flip at the moment. Kat is leaving her job as well and is waiting to hear back about a possible job in her hometown. If she gets it, then we will move there. If not, there is another area that we talked about moving that we liked. It is very stressful to think of these things, but now is the time for us to reestablish ourselves in an area that we will call home for a long time. Plus it will be nice to not live in a town where there are things to do and people our age.
Blogging Side of Things
Despite being in a mental haze, I managed to write two blog posts this month! The first post was for Love Your Backlog this year. I always enjoy having a reason to check and see the status of my backlog. I weeded out a lot of items that are not technically my responsibility to finish, so that helped a lot. At this point, I am still trying to decide what I want to finish in March.
The other post that I wrote was my SaGa post. That post would have been longer if I didn’t cut out some of the things that I wanted to talk about. The SaGa series is something new to me that I have grown to appreciate. I hope my post will one day inspire someone else to give the series a try and help with giving the series some more notoriety.
Games Acquired and Finished This Month
Theatrhythm Final Bar Line
This is the one and only game that I bought this month. I had been waiting like crazy for this to come out. I love the music from the Final Fantasy series, and making a rhythm game based around the OSTs is great. If this is the last entry in this series, then Indiezero did a great job of making this last for a while. I say that since by the time every song becomes available the track list will be over 500!
I double dipped on this since I like having physical copies of games, but wanted the ability to pick the game up and play whenever. Kat and I agreed on the PS4 physical for an easy achievement run for us, and the digital version on Switch that we will attempt to 100% complete throughout the rest of our lives. I am done with the PS4 version, so I will slowly work on the Switch version whenever I get the urge to play.
Other Games That I Finished This Month
Romancing SaGa – Minstrel Song Remastered
I am somewhat proud of myself for playing this game on a hard difficulty without realizing it. I mentioned in the post that I unknowingly made this game difficult due to my starting character and not fully utilizing all of the game’s mechanics wisely. Now that I’ve started a second playthrough, I can see how challenging the game can be without proper knowledge. It is also nice playing as someone who has an actual story that I can follow.
I wrapped up Theatrhythm the other day, so now I am back in that limbo of not knowing what to play. I should work on either Fire Emblem Engage or my game for Maybe in March. There are also games that I started or acquired that I want to play like Metroid Prime Remastered, Final Fantasy XII, and Divinity: Original Sin (also playing the second one with Kat and two other friends). I’m sure I will find the next game that will hook me. It is only a matter of time for the motivation to kick in.
That is all that I really have for this month. Life is too short to spend time worrying about the “ifs” and “buts.” I promise that EXP Share is still being worked on.
If I were to ask you to name some of Square Enix’s well-known franchises, I would get your typical answers like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Kingdom Hearts, and the Mana series. It is hard not to think of these titles and others since we have either grown up with them or have been around them in different settings. But did you know that there is a Square franchise that has been going on since 1989 and is still ongoing? That franchise is the highly acclaimed SaGa series! …what? Have you never heard of the SaGa series before? That is not surprising since hardly anyone outside of Japan knows about the series. If you have heard of a game called The Final Fantasy Legend, then congrats, you have heard/played a SaGa game! Despite being a big franchise in Japan, players in the West have little interest in it. Rather it is the fault of the design of the games or looking like an uninteresting JRPG, the SaGa games are generally avoided; making so that no one really talks about them. Since no one talks about them, few resources exist that explain what they are. So, I am going to attempt to explain what a SaGa is and try to encourage some to give it a try. I am not an expert on the series (my first playthrough of Romancing SaGa was done in the absolute worst way possible), but I want to talk about my experience with the series, and what it took for me to fully appreciate the series for what it is.
What is SaGa?
Most of my information comes from the SaGa Wikipedia page. The SaGa series started out as Gameboy titles known as Makai Toushi SaGa. Over in the West, we would know this games as The Final Fantasy Legend. Being the first game to sell a million copies for Square, Makai Toushi SaGa would go on to get two more games before the series moved to the Super Nintendo with Romancing SaGa.Romancing SaGa was released in 1992 (in Japan) and really changed what other JRPGs were doing at the time by giving players more freedom than they were accustomed to. This change of style (and difficulty) was probably not going to do well in the West, so the Romancing games never made it outside of Japan. The West wouldn’t get to experience this new frontier until SaGa Frontier released in 1998 for the PlayStation.
SaGa Frontier release was meet with little fanfare. Despite coming from Square, players had mixed feelings about the structure of the game. That didn’t stop Square from releasing SaGa Frontier 2 in the west which received a better reception from reviews. The nail in the coffin came from the lowest rated SaGa game, Unlimited SaGa, that came out in 2003. Due to the difficult nature of the game, the series took a fall in the West. Not even the 2005 remake of Romancing SaGa was enough to convince westerners to play the series. While Japan received remakes and some new games in the series, it wouldn’t be until 2017 that a “new” SaGa game would be released in the west with a remaster of Romancing SaGa II. Since then, remasters of all SaGa games have made their first appearance in the West with the exception of SaGa Frontier 2 and Unlimited SaGa (if you don’t count the mobile game Imperial SaGa.).
So what made Romancing SaGa so different back then? This comes from how nonlinear the game’s story and progression is designed. Coined the Free Scenario system, players are able to choose between one of eight characters to set off in the world and progress how you like. There is no “set” path that you take in the game to reach the end, so players are free to choose how expansive or short their journey could be. Players will spend most of their time finding quests, recruiting new characters, and slowly build up their weapons and armor before the final confrontation. It was different at the time and could be a bit intimidating since most JRPGs at the time had some form of guidance to lead the player through the story.
Another big difference for the series is how you strengthen your characters. The series does not use any form of experience point system to level up your characters. What happens instead is that characters may be rewarded a stat increase to one of their attributes. Think Final Fantasy II but less exploitative. What many new players fail to understand (including me) is that your weapons and armor are what make you stronger in the end. The SaGa games try to discourage you from grinding since the rewards are little. This doesn’t mean that battles are completely useless. Characters who become proficient with their weapons can unlock new moves and skills. You can also learn combination attacks with other characters that can make the difference in battles. These are the true rewards in battle since strong attacks and combinations can make the biggest difference in tougher fights.
This Sounds Interesting, But Why Does It Not Sound Interesting?
The SaGa series has unfortunately never caught on as much in the West. The biggest complaint about the games that I’ve read about is the Free Scenario system. After playing through three of the titles (SaGa: Scarlet Grace, SaGa Frontier, & Romancing SaGa Remastered), it can get pretty confusing on what you need to do, and what decision is the right one. The games like to keep track of what you have done, but there are not a lot of hints to help new players progress in a meaningful way. There are resources available online to help new players, but since the player base is already small, finding specific information can be a challenge on its own. When you think of more linear RPGs, you think of tales about heroes fighting against the forces of evil and saving the world in the end. SaGa is no different from these games, except that it really requires the player to tell their own tale of how these characters got from point A to fighting an angry god who thinks a human can’t beat them for a second time.
Introduction to Series (Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song, PlayStation 2)
From my own experience, I know first hand how playing the games for the first time can be frustrating. My first experience with the series was Romancing SaGa for the PlayStation 2. I immediately became mesmerized by the music and art design. To me in 2020, this felt like returning to a classic era of early PS2 games. It sort of reminded me of playing Radiata Stories for the first time (another great game that needs to be remastered). I started off with Barbara since she seemed like the most normal person out of the bunch (this would be a slightly terrible decision that I wouldn’t realize until later). I set off and received my first quest to rescue a child from a cave. That is when the captivating spell wore off on me and I had to understand how the game works. The cave was a bit difficult for Barbara and her friend Herman to handle by themselves. I scouted the surrounding towns to see if I could recruit someone and found a friendly sorcerer to help out. I went back to the cave and made my way to the end, but there was no child for me to rescue. Upon returning to the child’s mom, I was surprised to see that she had a child accompanying her. She then informed me that another party came along and rescued her child, marking the quest as a failure in my journal. Since I left the cave and didn’t rescue the child quick enough, I lost out on the reward since someone else beat me to it. This is what it means when the game says that it is a breathing world. Events will happen whether you are there or not, so it is best to take on quests when you obtain them.
After a while, I cam across another quest that involved another cave. Without dawdling, I set off to the cave and made may way deep inside. I came across a tough enemy that promptly wiped my entire party out. Since auto-saving was not a feature in this version, I had to start all over again from the town that I was in and redo my progression. If I was playing this when it first came out, I would have the patience to learn from my mistakes. But in the year 2020, a game without an auto-save function or a means to save wherever you want kills the momentum swiftly. This made me put the game away and not attempt to play it anytime soon.
Third Attempt At Series (SaGa: Scarlet Grace – Ambitions, Nintendo Switch)
After failing at my first SaGa game, I wanted to try a different game to see if there was something I was missing. I tried the remaster of Romancing SaGa 2, but it didn’t hold my attention for long. I then came across SaGa: Scarlet Grace – Ambitions. This is technically the newest title from the SaGa team since Unlimited SaGa back in 2002. I was skeptical at first to give it a try, but the art style drew me in again. I am a sucker for storybook ascetics, and this game knows how to make the entire journey feel like a story. While it did take me a while to understand how this game functioned, I did manage to finish the game with one character’s story; making it the first game in the series that I finished. If I had to rate this game on how accessible it is for new players, I would say that this is the second game that I would recommend to them.
I am not going to spend too much time talking about this since I already did that in 2021 (my writing has changed completely since then). Just know that out of the other two games that I have finished, I found the most enjoyment out of this one. While there are choices to be made, I found myself engaged with figuring things out on my own and enjoying the story. The trial and error is there, but it never got too overwhelming that I couldn’t get past an obstacle. It holds up and an easy recommendation from me if you want to try out the series.
The Easiest Game In The Series (SaGa Frontier Remastered)
With one win under my belt, I decided to give another game in the series a try. This was around the time that the remaster for SaGa Frontier was coming out, and my research showed that people enjoyed this one.
Not going to lie, I really wasn’t feeling this one. From what I can tell, Square did a good job of improving this over the original. The one thing that I absolutely do not like is the art style. The game used prerender backgrounds in the original, and they did a good job of keeping that in tact. What I don’t like is how it clashes with the chibi mobile character sprites. I will be the first to admit that I do not like Square’s character designs for mobile ports of their games (Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest). The bright color palette doesn’t match well with the darker tone backgrounds and is just unpleasant to look at for long. The prerender backgrounds also make it hard to navigate some areas since it can be hard to tell if something is accessible or not.
With that out of the way, this is one of the easiest games to start off with. The only times I vaguely struggled were at the very beginning and the final boss for Emilia (I started with her). Other than that, the game went by really fast thanks to how linear and nonlinear it is. You do have free range on deciding where you want to go since all major areas are open to you at any time. The main difference with this game is that each character has a main story that is ongoing at all time. Your journal in this game will tell you specifically what you need to do in order to progress the story. It took a lot of the guesswork out since if I just wanted to do the story, I could just follow along and not worry about other things going on. It makes for one of the easiest games to finish since most stories can be done in less than a week. You still need to worry about finding weapons and armors to strengthen your team, but obtaining these items is less of a challenge in the previous games I’ve played.
It might not be the prettiest game in the series, but SaGa Frontier does a good job of focusing on the narrative of each character’s story. You are still free to go and choose to do the things you want to do, but it never becomes a hassle to get back to the main plot. That alone makes it my top recommendation for new players who want to give the series a shot. The game I would warn people about to do their research beforehand is the latest game that I finished.
Back To Where It Began (Romancing SaGa – Minstrel Song Remastered)
I got excited when I heard that this game was getting remastered (again). The moment I knew that this version was going to be better than the PS2 version was when I learned that you had the ability to save the game ANYWHERE! This made dungeons more forgiving since if my party wiped at any point, I didn’t have to start from the last town again. What is even better is that the auto save function will save after every battle that you do; meaning you can get back to where you were if you encounter a tough fight. This makes the game so much easier to see through the end. However, the game is just as hard as the original. While I found Scarlet Grace enjoyable, I found this title to be my favorite so far in the series. It isn’t the easiest game to figure out on the first go, but is rewarding when you do things right.
It wasn’t until I was halfway through my first playthrough that I realized that I had been playing the game the wrong way. I had been making my way through the game using very little resources that the game provides (I ordered a guide book, but it didn’t come in until I finished the game). When preparing for the final battle, I realized that my team’s weapons, armor, and spells were inadequate and made the final fight a struggle (until I booted an old file and redid my loadout). To anyone who wants to try this game, there are a few things that you absolutely need to know.
DO NOT FIGHT/GRIND AT THE BEGINNING! This sounds odd since you are playing an JRPG. In order for your characters to get stronger, you need to fight enemies and increase your stats. That would be the case for most games, but Romancing SaGa semi punishes you for fighting every enemy you encounter. The game features a clock that keeps track of which events are available and have expired, but it also keeps track of how tough enemies will be. For each notch you progress on the clock, the enemies get tougher. The clock will only increase if you are constantly fighting, but it is also important to get to a certain point in order to progress to the final fight. New players are encouraged to avoid battles as much as possible in order to obtain better gear before doing necessary fights. This is something that the game doesn’t tell you and I only realized halfway through the game (when I was kicking everyone’s ass). The remastered version of the game allows you to slow the clock down if you would like to ease yourself into the game before cranking up the difficulty for future playthroughs.
Pay attention to your weapon modes and classes. Another mechanic that I completely ignored were classes and weapon modes. Classes have their benefits for characters to become proficient with different weapons, magic, and field skills. What I didn’t know was that classes have unique abilities that are valuable when given to the right person. I had everyone in their beginning classes for the longest time until it dawned on me that I should change them. Along with this, some jobs work best when using weapons in a certain mode. Modes consist of attack, defense, and trick. If there was ever a reason why some of my characters would die instantly was because everyone was just in attack mode and I never considered giving them different weapons with different styles to compensate for certain fights. Which brings me to my next point…
Study how enemies fight. Enemies have their own modes that are weak to different styles. Attack beats trick, defense beats attack, and trick beats defense. This was the one thing that I never paid attention to in battles, but it would have saved me a whole lot of time in certain fights. The helper in every town mentions this, but in a game with so many convoluted rules it just meant nothing to me at the time. You will need to observe your opponent to determine which type it is, but it gets easy to tell while fighting.
Do not neglect quests. Quests give you good items. Items that will help turn the tide when you need it the most. Since your equipment will build your character, pay attention to what you find or what you could get.
Use the blacksmith. Blacksmiths can change the mode of your weapon for a small fee. This is helpful if you want to have different weapons with different modes available at all times. Blacksmiths can also strengthen your common weapons to give them an extra umph.
Do quests as soon as you get them. Once you hear about something, go ahead and start working on them. The rank clock also acts as a sudo event clock as well. Some quests will be unsolved if you take too long to complete them, or if the event clock reaches a certain point. I lost out at obtaining one of the fatestones since I waited until the last moment to get it.
Do not start with Barbara. I love Barbara. Her character and journey was fun to experience. According to the guide book, Barbara has no tutorial to the game and just throws the player into the world to have at it. I never started the game with another character, so I did not know this. Most of my struggles may have been eased if I knew about this. The guide recommends starting with Albert since his tutorial does a good job of easing new players into the game.
These are my tips for anyone who wants to play this game. It can get confusing on how to go about things and to avoid unnecessary fights, but at its core, the game is rewarding for playing smart. Most obstacles in JRPGs can be solved by getting your characters to a certain level and winning by sheer force. Romancing SaGa doesn’t allow you to do that unless you’ve earned the right to do it. Even still, you will come across fights that you just can’t win with brute force alone. You have to change your tactics up a bit. Use certain techniques that will give you an edge. Learn how to anticipate how enemies behave and learn from your mistakes. It is a game of wits at the end of the day, and it is set to a difficulty level that I haven’t experienced in most JRPGs that I’ve played.
I hope this little post has been helpful in understanding these games. It is difficult to get someone interested in these types of games due to how difficult it is at first. My aim for this post was just to show that even if the game sounds confusing, it really isn’t once you understand how to play it. I would suggest finding the aspect of it that appeals to you the most. I probably would have given up on the series if the art, music, combat, and the feeling of playing an old school JRPG didn’t appeal to me. Chances are, none of this appeals to you and that is fine. I just wanted to spread the word about these games since no one seems to know that they are about. Hopefully this little reference was enough to give a general picture. Also please remember that I am still learning about these games as well and not a specialist on this series at all. Like I mentioned, I played these games in the worst way possible, but have learned with the bits and pieces that I’ve found.
It is that time of the year everyone! Kim from Later Levels is back with Love Your Backlog Month! Thank you Kim for what is becoming one of my favorite holidays now. Since it is the namesake of my blog, you can probably guess that I have a very steep backlog in my collection. You would guess right since my gaming time has been reduced, but my collecting habit has never stopped. That is kind of a lie since I am reaching the point where I almost have all of the old games that I have been seeking (just the really expensive ones left).
I had to crunch the numbers yet again and made sure that I was as close to accurate. I have officially decided that I am not responsible for finishing any games that Kat has or bought since I did not purchase them myself. This helps take the edge off somethings and drastically brings my number down (even though I want that 1000+ badge…). This year’s grand total of unfinished games in my backlog is…
It is a smaller number from last year! Removing the filler really helped. Since I like working with spreadsheets, I broke down every system that I own and recounted every finished and unfinished game for each. I also started taking liberties when it comes to multiple copies of a game that is either on another console or just a remaster/rerelease of an older game. I have decided that if I have finished it on one console, then I have finished every other version of it, unless it is a completely different game (story changes, mechanics). For example, I own Mega Man X on multiple systems (I love Mega Man X). Since I have finished the game once, I am counting every rerelease of the game as finished as well since it is the same game. This cleans things up a lot since there is no need for me to go out of my way to finish the game again but just on a different system. It also saves me time to play other games.
I am proud that my Game Boy collection is complete since the only one I haven’t played belongs to Kat. The numbers were looking good until I got to my Switch and PC collection. I was expecting my PC backlog to be huge, but I honestly forgot that I have some games since they are not on Steam. The Switch backlog took me by surprise until I realized that that number comes mostly from all the collection packs that are available for the system. The Switch is the perfect little system to bundle a bunch of old games on, and that is where the inflation comes from. The worst offender is the Sega Genesis Classics that has over 50 games in it. If I knew Nintendo was going to add Genesis games to their online service, I probably would not have gotten this pack. I should get around to playing the two games that I own on Wii U virtual console to complete that collection. I am also tempted to not buy or finish anymore GameCube or PSP games just so I can keep it perfectly balanced.
With some of that out of the way, it is time for the Q&A section of this post. I will try my best to not repeat my answers from previous years.
A Game You Are Eager To Play, But Haven’t Yet Started
So many choices, but I think I will have to go with Pandora’s Tower on the Nintendo Wii. We all know the story about Operation Rainfall which helped bring Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, & Pandora’s Tower over to the west. Out of those games, Pandora’s Tower is the only one that I haven’t played. I got it for Christmas a couple of years ago, but I have yet to sit down and play it. I don’t know the reason for this, except maybe I’m just lazy and don’t feel like hooking up my Wii. Will I get around to playing it this year? Maybe?
A Game You’ve Started Several Times But Haven’t Yet Finished
This is a fun question since I recently attempted to play it again a few months ago. That game is Final Fantasy XV.
I’ve had this game since it released on day one. I remember coming home from work excited to play this. During my first playthrough, I got as far as Chapter 2, and then stopped playing. It wasn’t because I wasn’t having a good time, but Kat wanted to play the game as well. So in order not to spoil each other, we would take turns playing to reach where the other one left off. If you are asking why we didn’t just pass the controller to each other, it is because we have different styles of playing games. While I wonder and do the things that I want to do, Kat will complete everything that she can before moving on to the next part. I think this is where things fell off. It also didn’t help that we both got distracted by other games that came out later like Tales of Berseria and Horizon Zero Dawn.
We decided to get a second copy of the game and play side by side when Kat upgraded to her PS4 Pro, but we never got around to it until last year. We stopped playing again because we were getting exhausted from doing all of the side quests to the point where almost ten hours in we still hadn’t progressed much in the main story. With Final Fantasy XVI coming soon, one of us will have to sit down and finish it (which most likely will be me since I want to finish all the mainline games).
The Oldest Game In Terms Of Release Date
I said Super Mario 64 the previous year, but that was inaccurate at the time. The correct answer was Pac-Man on the Game Boy, but I now have something even older than that. The Final Fantasy Adventure was released in September 1990, beating Pac-Man for the Game Boy by one year. This game marks the beginning of the SaGa franchise that Square has been reintroducing to the west for some time now. I have been digging into the SaGa franchise over the past year, but haven’t gone back as far as Romancing SaGa. At some point I would like to do an overview of the series and talk about why the series isn’t as popular as some of Square’s other RPGs.
The Most Recent Addition To Your Library
The last game that I got was the 20th anniversary edition of Final Fantasy II on the PSP. I found a copy of Final Fantasy for the PSP last year, but could never come across the second game in any of the stores I visit. Final Fantasy II may be one of the least popular titles in the series, but I actually enjoy it for what it is. It has flaws, but the music and scenario left an impression on me when I first played it years ago. Honestly, I just want to see if I can still use the Teleport spell to carry to the final boss again.
The Game Which Has Spent The Most Time On Your Backlog
I think it is the same answer as last time (Super Mario 64), so instead I will pick the game on my purchase tracker. All the way back in 2015, I bought Grand Theft Auto 5 for the PS3. I am not the type to play the story mode of a GTA title. I normally just goof around in the world and make up my own objectives as I go. Kat and I played online often when we were long-distance dating at the time. Good memories. Any who, this is the oldest from when I started recording, so it will remain old until I get around to that story mode.
The Person Responsible For You Adding The Most Entries To Your Backlog, Due To Their Good Recommendations
No one really influences my decision when purchasing games. I tend to just decide for myself if I am interested in playing something. The internet helps with this since I stay away from most things that are highly talked about (I wish Tears of the Kingdom would interest me). When I look at my PC list however, I will have to blame my friend E for the behemoth of a backlog that it is. He is the one who helped me build my first gaming PC, so it is completely his fault that I have so many unfinished games. He will recommend games that we can try out together and I will give it a try until something else would come up that he would want me to try. I’ve enjoyed his recommendations, but it is hard to finish one game when we keep jumping all over the place or can’t find time to play games in the evening. Even so, without his recommendations I wouldn’t be interested in some games like Total War, Borderlands, or Divinity.
As for what I want to do for Maybe in March, maybe I should do the story mode for GTA5. Knowing me, I doubt that will happen. I do however want to finish another GBA game since technically they have all been in my backlog longer than GTA5. Which one will that be? I guess you will just have to wait and see (I still need to figure it out).
That’s all I got. Thanks again Kim for hosting this event and I will see you all next month (or sooner since I have other things to write and talk about)!
It is a new year and I have wrote diddly squat. It is not from a lack of trying, but from me not knowing where I want to start this year. I normally put out a post about what I want to achieve this year, but those things never work out so I didn’t feel the need to write about it. I am taking this year with an open mind as much as possible. Instead of trying to plan things out and stressing about things yet to come, I am going to ride the waves and see where life wants to take me from once. I have unnecessarily created stress for myself already, so I just need to empty my brain and remind myself that things always work out at the end.
On the writing front, I have written a few things that just need a second readthrough and some edits here and there. One thing that I wrote was really fun for me to write, and I hope I did that game justice while talking about it. It may take some time for that to come out, but I hope you enjoy it. I am going to continue just posting when I feel like the moment is right. When I feel like I am completely done with the post, I will release it like normally. I noticed my blog stats took a dive last year, but that has never bothered me from the very start. I just want to write fun things that I like to write and people enjoy reading. I’m too busy to get sucked into the numbers game.
There is also the matter of EXP Share. Earlier this month I asked the community if they would like to see this event return. I received a large positive support for it, so it will be officially returning. My plan at this point is to aim for March since I still need to sit down and hammer out the changes coming to it. Please look forward to it!
Games Finished This Month
Star Fox Zero
The best way to start a new year is to start from the bottom. I had hoped that I would be able to overcome Star Fox Zero’s unique control scheme, but it quickly made me frustrated. There were some parts where I had brief moments of enjoyment. The on-rails portions made changing my view from the Wii U Gamepad to the TV was easy enough to overcome, but once all-range mode started, my orientation would always be off. All the different vehicles were a headache to control with the landmaster being the worst. The game is pretty to look at, and the soundtrack is one of the best from the Star Fox series. I just wish like everyone else that the controls could be adjusted and accessible for different playstyles.
I wouldn’t say that I am the biggest Spider-Man fan, but he is one of my favorites. I had no real interest in playing this game, but I decided to give it a try after owning it for a while. My impressions? This was one of the best times that I’ve had playing an action game. My problem with most action games is that at some point the combat gets too heavy and complicated that half of my moveset is wasted since I quickly forget about them. Not to mention that sometimes you have to remember different combinations with light and heavy attacks and how to chain into a specific move. With Spider-Man, all you have to remember is the melee button, the web-pulley button, and the get-out-the-way button. Just by remembering those actions, the combat becomes a simple rhythm dance that is easy to follow. What also helps is that if a special action is available, the game will tell you which buttons to press which eliminates my weakness of trying to remember how to pull off a specific action. I was really not expecting to enjoy this game as much as I did. So much in fact…
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
I decided to keep the spidy train going by finishing Miles Morales. Since it is a shorter game (and I didn’t feel like completing everything), it only took me three play sessions to finish the story. I enjoyed playing as Miles as we get to see him starting out and getting used to his powers and responsibilities. This is something we hardly get to do as the OG Spider-Man since most of his games start off with him being Spider-Man for a while. While I am now looking forward to Spider-Man 2 later this year, it might be something I don’t play immediately at launch.
Ys (Origin, The Oath in Felghana, & The Ark of Napishtim)
The Ys series is one that I’ve been interested in for a while. I played Ys I and found the bump mechanic to be a learning curve at the time. Now that I am deep into The Legend of Heroes series, I want to take the time to visit Falcom’s other signature series. My friend described the later games as Zelda on crack, so I will eventually see if that is true.
Harvest Moon 64
No. My quest to own almost every Harvest Moon game has not ended. I never knew this game existed until I did my research on Harvest Moon games. I’m just happy to own a genuine copy since most I found online were reproduction carts.
Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings
I have never seen this game in the wild. I’ve heard mixed things about this game, but the only opinion that matters is mine. So far just by looking at it, I don’t know if I will finish it (like the original FFXII). If anything, I now have a complete collection of Final Fantasy games that came out for the Nintendo DS!
Star Fox Command
From one bad Star Fox game to one that I’ve heard little about. The back of the box should give me all the information that I need to know (like the good ‘ole days…). I’m just happy to play a Star Fox game that isn’t a retelling of the first. Speaking of which, I need to get Star Fox Adventures from my brother at some point…
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin
Adding this to the collection means that I now have all the Castlevania games released on the DS. That means that for this October, I will be playing through the DS titles. This also means Konami will announce a DS trilogy collection this year. I will feel slightly defeated if that happens.
RIP my wallet on this one. If I had the foresight that I do now, I would have “held on to” this game from my younger brother. He lost it after a move, so congrats to whoever finds that game. What made buying this sting even more is that there was a cheaper copy at a different booth that was selling games (about $25 dollars cheaper). I was saving that blow for a copy of Dragon Quest VI on the DS, but settled with this since it would have hurt just as much. Now I am just missing two games to have the entire mainline set…
Final Fantasy II (PSP)
I am one of those sickos who actually enjoys Final Fantasy II. The PSP version looks good, but I will have to see if it will allow me to teleport all my enemies away.
Fire Emblem Engage
I wasn’t planning on getting this so soon, but peer pressure finally got the best of me. From what little I have seen and heard, this is a fantastic Fire Emblem game. As someone who wasn’t crazy about Three Houses, this looks like it is up my alley with the heavier focus on tactical gameplay. Can’t wait to play through it (need to finish it before Theatrhythm).
The first half of the month was supposed to be Fire Emblem Engage time to shine. That was until a demo for Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Final Bar Line was released. I hardly ever play demos for games since they are more or less incomplete versions of the final game, but I cave when it is something I really want to play. I will definitely play Engage, but it might be after a few rounds of blissful music.
I am also almost done with my first playthrough of Romancing SaGa – Minstrel Song Remastered. I have hardly talked about this game since it is a bit complicated for new players. I am at the final “dungeon” and I’m still finding mechanics that I never used, or learning more ways that made the game 10 times harder than it should be. I imagine at this point the final boss will take me about two months to beat, so I will keep you posted when I am victorious.
That’s all I got this month. I am going to continue patiently waiting for my game of the year to come out now.
Merry New Year everyone! I hope you had a good holiday season if you are into that type of thing. Production over at Tales From the Backlog is ready to go back into full swing, and I’m looking forward to some of the things that I have in the works. One idea that I have been working on is the return of the EXP Share community topics that ran from October 2020 and suddenly ended in June 2021. I didn’t intend on it ending so quickly and had plans to return to it, but first it needed some tweaking. I believe I have come up with some changes that would improve it, so today I wanted to ask everyone in the community if they would like for this event to return. This is basically an interest call to see if anyone is still interested in it. Here are some new ideas that I have for “Season 2”:
EXP Share topics occur on a bimonthly timeframe. The problem I was having with the original format is that it was hard to come up with an original idea each month for a topic. On a bimonthly schedule, there should hopefully be more time to come up with a topic that is fun but not something too simple. Of course if you like simplicity that is fine.
New “Host” for every prompt. I am one person with limited ideas. One idea I had was to find someone new each month to host the EXP Share topic for that month. They would be the one to choose the topic, post the results, and select the next host for the following month. I personally like this idea since it would feel more like a community event rather than one person coming up with everything. Do you like this idea? Would an EXP Share Discord help with organization? Of course there is no pressure if someone volunteers you to take over next, but you are unable to.
Planned Breaks and Restart Times. I imagine that at some point things might get stale. Maybe having defined start and end dates will help? I’m unsure unless you all would like to keep the train going.
Open the topics up to other forms of media and topics. Topics don’t just have to be about video games anymore. I know most of us like to write about games, but we do have other interest outside the virtual one. Get creative and ask to share things about the other hobbies that we enjoy. It might incline others outside the video game realm to want and participate in the future.
Those are my proposed changes to the format. I would like to know what all of you think since this thing can’t work without others participating. There are somethings that might need a little more fleshing out, but there would be time to do that before the first event goes live. Leave a like or a comment to let me know of your thoughts.