Backlog Report – March & April 2022

Is it over?

Hello all. I wasn’t planning on skipping a month from the blog, but April proved to be more of a beast than I was anticipating. Up until the final week, I didn’t have a day to myself where something wasn’t on my calendar of responsibilities and obligations. I haven’t been able to play much, but I have been able to write some things down here and there. My plan is to go over all the ramblings that I wrote and flesh them out to proper post. Hopefully those won’t take long to edit and I can start trying to post more regularly again.

One thing that is going to help me with that is to finally tackle some of the issues that I’ve been having. They are not easy to talk about since I’m still trying to figure it out as well. Long story short, I will be taking sessions soon to start tackling some of the anxiety and depression that I have. If you’ve noticed that I haven’t said anything about my 50/50 challenge lately, this is one of the reasons. One of my goals was to lose fifty pounds by August, but instead of losing weight I’ve been gaining even more. There is definitely a mental component to it all, so this is my first step to finally do something about it. If all goes well, I may still have time to reach my goal before the deadline. The “finishing games” component will definitely not get done due to the black hole that is Elden Ring.

In other news, I’ve started the painstaking task of taking inventory of all of my consoles and video game reference books. I’ve been meaning to do my consoles for a while ever since my brother got robbed last year. I had never thought about recording all of my other stuff, but having something like that happen makes you think twice about having a record of it all (plus it is just nice to have). I should have started my reference book list a long time ago before my collection exploded, but there is a certain joy of having a lot of stuff to catalog at once (I am a nerd for this kind of stuff so just leave me alone). My goal one day would be to get rid of the old excel sheets and have an online catalog where I could keep track of things a bit better. I recently discovered this one mobile app called Gameye and it has been great to use so far. The inclusion of a barcode scanner makes inventorying so much easier. It is hit and miss since it does go off what is stored in its database which is growing. What makes me like it even more is that I can include my own notes as well as a tracker if I’ve finished a game or how much I have finished it. The icing on the cake however is that you are able to export your data to a txt file or a .cvs file. The exports can be hit or miss since instead of leaving empty variables empty, it fills it with random text just to keep each cell full. Overall I am impressed with it. The designer is still constantly updating the app with the hopes one day launching a website where users can create an account and access their account on multiple devices. Not a paid ad, but I like it so far and wanted to spread the word.

Another fun thing that happened just last week was my friend Ben’s wedding. He is a silent third member of my group of friends who’s only gaming device was a Xbox 360. So to surprise him on his wedding, me and my other friend got him a PS4 to celebrate the occasion. He really liked playing Soul Calibur with us, so I’m practicing my character creation skills again to create even more questionable characters (maybe a sequel to one of my old post). I’m just happy that we get to include him in some of our gaming sessions online versus on occasion when we meet up. One of these days we will build him a PC.


Finished This Month

Xenoblade Chronicles 2

The big game that I finished this last month. I am surprised like all of you that it only took me 3 weeks to finish this game. Miracles can happen if you believe hard enough. Overall, I enjoyed the game minus the beginning parts. I won’t say that this was better than the first game, because that would be a lie and I don’t want to tell a lie. I will say that I wish I had the motivation to play this a second time via New Game+ and explore different routes with team composition that I didn’t think of. If you want to know my full thoughts on the game (plus a little lesson on tone), you can read the post I made about it a few weeks ago.

Trivia Pursuit Live! 2

Um. I don’t have much for this one. Kat and I enjoy playing the first Trivia Pursuit Live!, so getting a new one with updated questions and modes seemed like a good idea. While I do like having updated questions, I don’t particularly like this version of Trivia Pursuit. It somehow looks worse than the first game, and in some areas it feels cheaper. Outside of a new Twitch mode, this is the same game with new questions. There are new cosmetic options for your avatar and their primary color is not tied to your title anymore. Other than that, it doesn’t impress me. I won the first game we played so I count that as a win for finishing the game. On a side note, I am terrible at geography (I couldn’t tell you where to find anything on a globe…).

Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel

After thinking on it for a while, I think I am going to put this game in the finish pile. Originally I wanted to reach the highest ranking before calling it quits, but I’ve lost the motivation to do that. There’s just so much going on in the game now and I feel like I need to create specific decks to compete with the current meta. It’s not my favorite way to play the game, but I can appreciate how engaging it can be. I just hate that I keep running into the same decks and the lack of original playstyles that I’ve come across. It could just be the matches I get into, but it gets repetitive after a while. I will still pick this up and play it from time to time, but I have no interest in becoming the King of Games in this game.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

Coming in at the end of the month is Kirby and the Forgotten Land. I don’t normally gravitate to Kirby games, but if one looks fun then I will give it a go. The game felt like HAL Labs looked at Super Mario Odyssey and said they could do the same thing with Kirby. It definitely has that Switch era, Nintendo first-party atmosphere to it where it is a familiar game with a fresh take to it. Everyone thought that this was going to be an open-world Kirby game like Mario and Zelda on the Switch, but it is a cozy linear-ish 3D Kirby game. I personally like that direction since it is what make Kirby games work in my opinion. Besides, if HAL Labs is going to make a open-world 3D Kirby game, it better be Kirby Air Ride 2. Overall, this was a fun and pleasant game to play as a secondary to Elden Ring.


New Additions

*This is a combination of games I got in both March and April

Beetle Adventure Racing

So why in the year 2022 did I purchase a game about racing Volkswagen Beetles? The one and only reason I can think of is nostalgia is one hell of a drug. This was a game that me and my older brother would frequently rent from our local video store from some strange reason. I remember us really liking this game for the arcade racing feeling that the game has. When I mentioned to my brother that I had found a copy, his face lit up and he got excited. That reaction must mean we had a good time playing it. Once I’m done being lazy about hooking up the N64, I will let those memories come rushing towards me like a 1998 Volkswagen Beetle with 2-wheel driving and other features like anti-theft alarm, four beverage holders, and a bud base on the dash (whatever that means).

F-Zero X

Speaking of racing games, F-Zero X was recently added to the Nintendo Switch Online Service. That’s neat, but I don’t have the updated version of NSO. I used my money wisely to buy a rather cheap copy for the N64. I know I’m missing out on online multiplayer with the NSO version, but knowing how the system handles online I think I’m good. I remember playing this game a lot at one of my cousin’s house. The fast pace action was a change of pace from Mario Kart. As I write this, I can vividly smell his house and the weird musk of three boys sharing one room. Nostalgia is a weird drug…

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice

To be honest, I completely forgot that I bought this game in March. If you forgot, the 3DS eshop is closing this year, so now is the time to purchase any last minute games (and DLC) off of it. Something that makes buying these games easier are all of the sales that are happening right now. Capcom and Atlus have been selling some of their best games on the 3DS for less than $10, so now is the best time to pick these games up before the physical versions skyrocket in price. What makes the Phoenix Wright games special on the 3DS is the fact that they are only available in digital format. So once purchasing has been disabled on the eShop, those games will be unavailable forever (until they get ported to current devices). Why pay for a premium now when when I could buy it now for only $5?

Star Fox Zero / Star Fox Guard

I knew I would have to get this game sooner or later. With the shop shutting down soon, now would be the best time before prices start to inflate. I don’t this game would have had a problem though, since I bought this at a second hand shop brand new (unopened) for only $16 USD. They even had it behind the counter with all the other expensive games. If that is a testament to how bad this game was received, then I don’t know what will. Star Fox 64 is one of my favorite games of all time, and I know Zero is just a glorified remake of that game. I consider myself a patient gamer, so getting used to the game’s unique controls will grow on me eventually (hopefully). Star Fox Guard was a nice extra bonus and from what I can tell is the better game out of the two. I hate bad mouthing games that I have not played yet, but with the reputation that this game has, it has clouded my judgement a bit.

Trivia Pursuit Live! 2

I already talked about this game. Go back up four paragraphs in case you somehow skipped it. Or maybe you skipped it initially because you did not care about the game or what I finished this month. That’s okay. We all have things that we like to read in posts like this and ignore certain sections. I am not one to judge since I like to skim through some articles that I read. Read what makes you happy and don’t feel obligated to reading every single word in this post. …Okay where was I? I seem to have lose what direction I was going with this bit…

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

It’s Kirby again. I’ll talk more about it when I write a Backlog Tale on it.

Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards

This is my favorite Kirby game that I’ve never owned. Back in the glory days when you could rent games, my brother and I would always rent this game and play through it before we had to return it. To me, this has a lot of replay value thanks to being able to mix and match copy abilities. Mix fire and bombs and now Kirby is a firecracker! You thought Kirby becoming a vending machine was original in Forgotten Land? Wrong! He was doing that before in Kirby 64! I can’t wait to find the time to go through this game and get the true ending that I never got since I was a dumb kid.

Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology

I played and finished the original Radiant Historia on the original DS. I thought the game was fun on its own, but could have used its time travel mechanic a little bit better. I originally wasn’t interested in the 3DS remake, but for around $10 I am more than willing to revisit this remake.

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker

I completely forgot that I bought this along with Radiant Historia. Another game where I have played the original, only that I completely screwed myself towards the end and never went back to finish it. I mostly bought this to complete the collection of having all of the Shin Megami Tensei games for the 3DS. Once I “borrow” my brother’s copy of Soul Hackers, I will have them all.

Castlevania 64

This month should have been called the month of getting all the games I used to rent as a kid. Castlevania 64 earns the reward of the game I rented once or twice and never got far into it (since I didn’t have a controller pack to save). There was definitely a learning curve that my child brain could not understand, but that didn’t stop me from trying it. I also played the other Castlevania game for the N64, but obtaining a copy of that game is way out of my budget right now. I have played the first stage in this game, and I feel compelled to stream this one day…

Dark Cloud

Last weekend I went out of town to be a part of a friend’s wedding. Before I left the area, I found a really cool game store that was packed with games, collectables, arcade cabinets, and tables for card games. I talked with some of the guys who ran it, and I had a good time talking about games. The owner (I think) hooked me up with a copy of the Final Fantasy V Advance strategy guide that normally is sold for up towards $50 for only $30. If I lived in the area, I would probably frequent this store on a biweekly basis.

Oh yeah. As a souvenir I bought a copy of Dark Cloud since Kat owns the second game, but not the first. It was also my way of supporting their business for being real cool guys.

Snowboard Kids 2

The final game in my nostalgia filled ride. Snowboard Kids 2 is one of the best N64 games that not many people played. If we ever saw this game available to rent from the store, we would always get it. It is that good. If this game ever appears on the Nintendo Switch Online service, I will upgrade immediately and play this online with my friends. This game is just a snowboard game similar to Mario Kart, but this is way better in my opinion. Seeing how this was developed by Atlus, that may also be an indicator of why I like it. I will definitely write about this game soon, but for now I need to pay off the small loan that it took to buy this game.


Currently Playing

Elden Ring continues to consume my life. I’m over 100 hours in and getting close to the end. I have just been taking my time having a panic attack if something new is going to kill me or not (more than likely I panic for no reason). With my friend’s help and guidance, I have created a pretty good build for myself. I hope I can finish this game soon, but a part of me doesn’t want the adventure to end just yet. I know I can carry everything over into New Game Plus, but I’m the type of person who tries to get the most done in a single go (especially if I really like the game). At the time of writing this, I have bested Malenia and Rykard and have claimed their Great Runes. Only Shardbearer Mohg is left and then I can cross the Shardbearers off my list. In the main story, I have reached Lyndell and have defeated the skin quintuplets. Before I defeat the “final” boss, I want to get some last minute sight seeing done. If I stay this diligent, I should have the game done next month. After that, I can no longer use it as an excuse for not finishing other games.

As much as I am enjoying Elden Ring, I do need to focus on games that I can finish this decade. I am somewhere in the middle of Final Fantasy V. If I’m being honest, it is kinda hard for me to stay motivated with it. If I had one big complaint with the game currently is that it is easy to get lost. I’m bringing up my bad luck with geography for the third time again, but the game likes to tell you where to go, but not how to get there. I’ve had to use a guide multiple times in order for me to figure out the next area I was supposed to go to, and that is something I don’t really like doing on a first playthrough. It could be a me issue, but when I send time in a cave convincing myself that there is a secret path somewhere when there isn’t, then I blame the game for not communicating that well. Everything else is fine. The job system makes me wish I was playing Bravely Default instead.

Even though I finished Kirby and the Forgotten Land, there are still Waddle Dee for me to save and the post game to do. I figured that it is a short and fun game that I should go the extra step to 100% complete the game. It’s not going to be my top priority, but a good palate cleanser if I need something cozy to play.

Blog Plans for This Month

Small goal will be to publish at least one of the things that I’ve been working on. A bigger accomplishment will be getting both things I have been working on out this month. I just want to keep my expectations low just in case I don’t get anything out. I do miss blogging and I miss talking with people online about things. With summer slowly approaching, I should have the time and mental stability to be more of myself. There are a ton of games that I need to write about along with some more stories from my gaming past. I also have these ideas that I’ve had that I need to sit and work through. I’m the type of guy who has lots of ideas, but needs to figure out what is realistic or not. I need to get the ball rolling on finishing more games so I can say that I finished half of my challenge.


Okay. That’s all the time I have for rambling. I need to go back to playing Elden Ring on my Nintendo 3DS. Until next time (soon, it will be much sooner)!

Backlog Tale – I Almost Wrote Off Xenoblade Chronicles 2

It took me nine years to finish the original version of Xenoblade Chronicles. The first game was great in my opinion, but for some reason I couldn’t finish it in one setting. You could blame me for not understanding MMO battle mechanics at the time. Regardless of that, I was hooked on the struggle of the characters, the journey of revenge that they set out on, and the amazing and mysterious setting that the adventure takes place on. With how good everything felt to me, the idea of not finishing it sooner feels weird. Good games should have some draw to it that makes you want to see it to the end no matter how long it takes. It is a balanced formula that makes the game fun and entertaining to the player.

With that in mind, I should have stopped playing Xenoblade Chronicles 2 early on. The numbered sequel to one of the Nintendo Wii’s best games had a lot of promise. Where would the story go after the conclusion of the first game? What secrets did these new Titans hold? And why does everything look more like an anime? I was interested in playing the sequel, but held off until I finished the first game. I managed to avoid any spoilers minus a few memes that I saw posted on the internet. With the urge to play after seeing the trailer for the third game, I decided it was time to play XC2 so that I could keep up with the series. After playing the first three chapters in the game, I was not impressed.

The first half of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 felt like a disservice to what it becomes later. The combat felt shallow, the characters felt flat, and the general setup didn’t feel like it was worth my investment. It left a bad taste in my mouth that I started to wonder why people were saying that this was just as good as the first game. Was I missing something? Was the first game not as good as I remembered? What was going on that other people were seeing that I was missing out on. The environments definitely felt like Xenoblade, but the change in combat, the Blade system, and general tone of the game just didn’t feel entertaining to me. It wasn’t until around chapter five that things started to finally click, and I started to understand what makes this game great. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 takes place in a whole new different world, so the strife and dangers in the formal were nonexistent in this world. The only issues that this world faces is the number of resources dwindling and the war going on in the background. The game was trying to make me feel like this was going to be a heartbreaking story, but either dire situations were handled too quickly or secrets that the game was trying to hide were easy to solve.

Let’s talk about tone. Tone can be described as setting the atmosphere to express a piece of work. A tone should carry out how you want to express your mood or emotions to your audience. It helps to establish it as soon as possible, but you are allowed to change it up while reminding the audience what the initial tone is. Works of art, music, and film can go a long way if your audience knows what tone the author/performer is trying to convey.

The tone in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is not consistent. The Xenoblade series has always been one with mysteries about, so that is nothing out of the ordinary. At the end of the first chapter, it establishes a dark tone by showing Jin killing Rex and how he is saved by Pyra. You would think this would be a quest about returning the favor, but Rex doesn’t seem to mind being killed. He just seems to ignore that fact and is now focused on taking Pyra to Elysium. At this point, I felt like there were no stakes and the plot of the story was just to protect Pyra and reach Elysium. It would help if I understood the villain’s motives, but at times I couldn’t tell what they were. At one moment they don’t care about Pyra, and then the next minute they do, and then they changed their minds again for plot convenience. The tone that the game was trying to go with just felt distorted and tried to contradict itself.

Halfway through the game, the tone changed completely at the end of Chapter 5. The game finally established what could happen once the group reached Elysium. The antagonist’s motives are finally clear and all the scattered pieces of the world start to make sense. You start to learn who the true villains may be and start to wonder and doubt what anything around you means and what the right choices are. The lighthearted tone is still there, but it fits better with the story now since they are written at the right moment. There was now this unknown feeling of what is going on and how someone inexperienced with combat and diplomacy could change the world for the better. The tone that the writers were trying to establish at the beginning of the game was here and would remained until the final chapter. After reaching this point, I became invested in the game again. I was ready to tackle these unknown factors and it finally felt like the game was ready to lead me to those answers. I don’t want to say that everything in the first half of the game was bad, but the second half made everything better for me personally.


Now, I’m not saying that games can’t mix things up when establishing their tone. There have been plenty of games that have successfully established their tone at the beginning, deviate into a different tone, and keep the initial tone the same throughout. The best game I have for this example is Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. The game starts off with a dark and unsettling undertone that carries throughout the entire game. I think of moments like Glitzville and the game suddenly becoming a tale about wrestling. It is a fun moment, but it keeps the initial tone of being dark and unsettling with the wrestlers going missing. Or while in Twilight Town (the creepiest place in any video game I’ve been into) there are moments where the vibe is loosen a bit when trying to get the missing letter to spell Doopliss’ name. There are great moments where things come off as funny, but once you take a closer look at it, there is still this unsettling tone to it all.

A recent game that I started playing is Final Fantasy V. This game starts off with an unsettling tone with the world slowly dying thanks to the crystals shattering. Within the first few hours of the game, there have been death, loss, and overcoming situations that are daring. You wouldn’t think this game had a completely different tone than what is presented. This game is bright. The music is upbeat, and the characters have a lot of fun with each other during the journey. The game makes you believe that these four warriors of light will save the day at the end of the journey, but if you have played FFV, you know that is not the case. The tone was established at the beginning, and even though it tries to disguise itself, it is always there and constantly reminds the player that things are not going to end well.

Maybe my problem could come from the other Xenoblade games that came before this. In the first game, you are immediately shown what the state of the world is currently in. The Mechons and Humes are at war with each other with the Mechons being the stronger force. You see the despair in the soldiers who helplessly fight against them. You see how powerful the Monado is against them, and the cost of using such power. You feel the anger and sadness Shulk feels when he loses Fiora. The events at the beginning set the tone for how you should view this world and how your emotions get shifted with each new revelation. The game does a great job of connecting you and helps make the rest of the journey exciting to the very end.

I have not played a lot of Xenoblade Chronicles X. Being a Sci-Fi game at the very beginning made me lose my interest a little, but I immediately understood the tone of the game. Humans are looking for a new home and you have no idea the dangers of this planet. You are lucky to be alive since others in the pods by you were not so lucky. I understand the narrative of the game from the git go. The rest of the game should carry that through to the climax and make the audience feel some type of emotion for seeing it through.

I will finish Xenoblade Chronicles X one day. I just don’t like Sci-Fi settings as much.


Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has some good things going on within it, it just took me a while to see it all. Everything just clicked in the second half and I was invested from then on. I started to understand everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and somehow combat became more entertaining. Somehow, I started to care a little bit more about each character even though I found them uninteresting. I really wanted to like Nia, but her secret was easy to see coming and the reveal took too long. I wanted to develop Poppi more, but having to go back to Tora’s house to play Tiger Tiger for a while made the pacing slow down when I could easily develop Morag and Brighid to be a better tank (Poppi is still one of the best characters in the game). I feel like I didn’t take the time to understand a lot of concepts like developing towns or optimizing blade loadouts since I was so disconnected from the game at the beginning. I was just pushing through without caring about unlocking blade skills and really maximizing everyone’s potentials just because I wanted to get the game over with quickly just so I could see how the games tied to one another. And that was a giant disservice to the game because the game is pretty great.

I hope my rambling about tone made sense. It can make or break the storytelling of a game and affect how you approach something. I am glad XC2 turned around for me since all the events afterwards just kept me hooked to the end. I wouldn’t say that this is better than the first game, but it has made me hyped for the third game now since I want to see the results of both game’s conclusions. Maybe if I get around to playing it a second time, I would like to see if my attitude is different or if I find myself dreading the first half again. There are still some story bits that didn’t make sense to me at the end, but that didn’t sour my mood when I reached the end credits. I ended up enjoying the game, and one day I will give New Game+ a go as well as the Torna DLC. It will probably happen sooner or later since I read a conspiracy theory on the entire Xeno series…

Did anyone else find Nia’s love confession to Rex weird and out of place or was that just me?


Playtime Stats:

  • Start Date: 2/18/2022
  • End Date: 3/11/2022
  • Total Play Time: 68 hours
  • Main Team: Rex (Pyra/Mythra, Wulfric, Godfrey); Nia (Dromarch, Vess, Ursula); Morag (Brighid, Aegaeon, Perun)
  • Number of unique Blades acquired: 21
  • Best Thing About The Game: The Music (I bought the OST because it was that good)
  • Least Favorite Thing: Side quest that never end for little reward.

Bonus Gallery

Like Choosing Your Favorite Child. My (Current) Top 5 JRPGs.

The Japanese Role-Playing Game genre is my go to for gaming. It might have something to do with my love for reading at a young age, or being slow paced enough for me not to fumble my controller. I just enjoy experiencing stories, learning each game’s combat rather it’s turned-based or in real time, and just losing myself (hopefully) in the world. I’m getting to the point in life where I can’t spend 60+ hours on one game anymore, but I try to find ways to tackle the many JRPGs that I haven’t finished as best as I can.

In 2020, Pix1001 and Craig Rathbone (Winst0lf) collaborated to bring us the Great JRPG Character Face-Off! This was an event to vote for our favorite characters from any JRPG. With thousands of options, it was fairly easy for me to decide which characters I enjoyed the most out of all the games that I’ve played. This year, they have up the ante and presented the Great JRPG Showdown. This was surprisingly easier than my character choices. There was still some heartache when choosing my top 5, but at the end of the day I feel confident in my response. So without further ado, here are my choices for the Great JRPG Showdown!


Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King

I wouldn’t say that I’m the biggest Dragon Quest fan. The games are fun enough if you are in the mood for a classic JRPG and some can be an instant classic for some. At this point I have only played four games in the series being Dragon Quest 7, 9, 11, and of course Dragon Quest 8. I remember my brother borrowing this game from a friend and finding it difficult at some points. I would watch him and help him along the way as best as I could. One day I just decided to pick the controller up myself and finished the game before he did. 

I became captivated by the world and story that the game presents. There were lots of twists and turns that kept the adventure alive, and the intense fights that I faced kept pushing me to come up with new strategies. Dragon Quest VIII follows the protagonist and his group on a quest to defeat an evil court jester named Dhoulmagus. Dhoulmagus has put a curse upon the kingdom of Trodian, turning the king into a troll and the princess into a horse. The plot seems simple, but the heroes find themselves battling more than just a clown’s evil schemes.

I think that’s why I like this game so much. The fun but difficult enemies were fun to fight, the characters were memorable, and up to that point I had not played another game like it. Finishing this game may have been a turning point in my life since it was one of the most challenging games that I had finished (I didn’t have enough points in my courage stat). It pushed me to start looking at other “tough” games and start using my brain more than just running away from all of my problems. Video games were teaching me better life lessons than school ever did.

Tales of Symphonia

Of course I was going to include my favorite game of all time. Tales of Symphonia felt like a masterpiece when I played it for the first time in the mid 2000s. It was one of the first games I played that made me believe that video games were just as good at telling a story like books and film. 

Tales of Symphonia follows the journey of Lloyd Irving as he helps his friend, Colette, become the new Chosen of the world. You finish the journey in the first 10-15 hours, and then the real quest begins after that. What follows are great twists and revelations that most games fail to deliver since they are easy to see coming. I don’t want to spoil this 17 year old game for anyone who hasn’t played it. It goes on sale on Steam for like $5 often, so you have no excuse to play it (unless you don’t have a PC…)!

Persona 4 Golden

Persona 5 is a damn good game. If the Persona series wasn’t popular enough, the fifth entry brought it to the top. While I enjoyed the game and the joys of rebellion, my favorite Persona game will always be Persona 4 Golden

The thing I like the most about Persona 4 is the theme. Pursuing your true self. At a young age I struggled with my identity and how I wanted others to see me. I was a quiet, timid person who didn’t have a lot to say or things to really bring to the conversation (some things hardly change…). I used to hate being myself around people since it’s hard being a nerdy black guy in an area where you are either in a pretend gang or a good ‘ol southern child. I didn’t fit in anywhere except for the band room and my confidence stat was undeveloped. I’m not going to say Persona 4 changed things around for me, but it did start helping me understand that it is okay to be me if I’m true to myself. To this day, I know exactly who I am and what that means. I refuse to just blindly follow the same thing that the people around me believe, and instead choose to follow what I believe in my heart. I’m [REDIACT] and I am no longer afraid to be who I am.

Oh yeah. The whole mystery murder story is great. Yes Yosuke and Teddy can be annoying, but that’s life. Not everyone that you meet is going to be a respectable citizen with high morals. Both characters have good qualities about them, but you also have to acknowledge the flawed parts of their character. Let’s see what else. I did not guess who the murderer was the first time playing until the final hints. Everyday’s great at your Junes. I will murder anyone who tries to hurt Nanako again. Anyone.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel

I am a recent fan of the Legend of Heroes games. I may be at the end of the Cold Steel Saga, but I already have the Sky trilogy ready to go and now the Crossbell games are officially coming this year and next. That is a lot of games to play, but I’m committed since this has been one of the best series I have ever played.

Trails of Cold Steel follows the trials of Class 7, a group of students at Thors Military Academy. While the main plot focuses on Rean Schwarzer, the whole cast of Class 7 have equal importance to the story and help make this series so great (and a pain to complete). Every character is important to the story even if it is just for backstory notes. Just when you think you are done with a side character in the first game, they magically come back in the final game and reveal they have been helping you in the background. It’s the type of character development that you like to see the main cast go through, but you see it for every character introduced. Sure it gets overbearing to try and remember each important main and side character you meet, but that is where the character notes section in your journal comes in handy.

Outside of that, the combat system is one of my favorites. You are able to fully maximize a character’s strengths using the game’s orbital system or challenge yourself and make them the opposite to what they are meant to be (kinda like the materia system from Final Fantasy 7 but fleshed out way more). My favorite characters and setups have to be Elliot, Emma, and Kurt. Elliot is designed to be a healer and support character. With his master quartz, he is able to restore more health using basic healing spells at a reduced cost. If you give him the right set up, You can fully restore anyone using the base level healing spell and reduce his delay time. Emma can use powerful spells and with the right setup, not only can she cast the most powerful magic at a reduced cost, but she can make them critical hits and restore her magic points with each hit. Kurt is my new favorite. He starts off with a master quartz that makes him deal critical damage for each attack he evades. If you find the right equipment to raise his evasion to 100%, you can send him to the front lines and let him deal well over 10,000 to anyone who tries to hit him. The system can be broken if you know how you want to develop your characters and that makes going into battles so much fun.

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

There were a lot of games that I could have chosen as my number five pick. I ultimately decided to go with this game since it was the very first JRPG that I ever played. Some would call Super Mario RPG one of the greatest JRPGs right there next to Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger. I am in the camp that it is not a game I go back to often, but it is a really good game. This was another game that I would watch my older brother play. I remember during some of the boss fights, we would select our attack and then run out of the room because we were scared our attack wouldn’t finish the boss (don’t do that there are reaction inputs). Out of all of the games on this list, this is the only game that I have never finished, but I have played it so many times that it feels weird to ever think about seeing the end.

The story is the same old Mario flair. Mario goes to beat up Bowser for kidnapping Princess Peach (Toadstool in this game), but is interrupted when a giant sword falls onto Bowser’s Castle. From there, Mario learns about the Smithy Gang, a bunch of weapon themed enemies that are trying to take over the Mushroom Kingdom. During the invasion, the Star Road is destroyed and seven stars fall onto the Mushroom Kingdom. It’s up to Mario and Co. to gather the stars so that people’s wishes can come true again and defeat the Smithy Gang from taking over. It is a story that fits in the Mario universe and sadly something unique that we will never see again.

Ok. I’m going to go ahead and say it and you can all hate me later. Geno is an overrated character. Besides looking “cool,” having cool attacks, and a cool blue cape, there is nothing interesting about the guy. He has no development. He is just a star warrior who takes the body of a doll and helps Mario so that he can repair the Star Road. That is all to his character and he gets replaced quickly by Bowser. I understand the cool factor about his character, but I don’t think he is worth all the praise people are willing to give him. That’s my opinion and if you want to fight about it, come find me on the streets.


And those are my choices for The Great JRPG Showdown. Thank you again to Pix1001 and Chris for hosting an awesome event! Tune in next time where at least one of my picks will be different.

Backlog Report – February 2022

Please stay safe out there everyone.

There was not a whole lot of activity from me this month. Minus the post I did on Pokémon Legends: Arceus, I haven’t gotten around to finishing any of the other posts that I’ve been working on. Call it the Winter Blues or whatever, but for a better understanding of myself lately, I’m looking forward to warmer coming up soon. While my efforts to get some writing done has been meager, I have been able to concentrate on sticking to one game until I am finished with it. If you know me, I like variety and my mood constantly affects what I feel like playing most days. There have only been two games that I felt I spent the most time playing this month, and luckily for me I had the drive to see them through. Talk to me next month however and I might be back on my wishiwashi BS.

Finished This Month

Pokémon Legends: Arceus

Easily one of the best Pokémon games I’ve played. There were a lot of things that I liked and hated about this game. The general focus on being a Pokémon researcher is something that I wish the mainline games did before instead of just trying to be the best trainer there is. What if I don’t want to be the champion? What if I just want to wonder around the wilderness until I discover something new or get killed by hostile Pokémon? Being in this position made searching and discovering things feel exciting since I was playing the role of that profession. If later games would let you have the choice of being a trainer or researcher, I think I would always chose the researcher route if the series were to introduce a new region that hardly no one knows about in the present. It will never happen, but that is my new pipe dream game (here’s looking at you Gen 9).

You can read more of my thoughts on the game from the post I wrote.

HuniePop 2: Double Date

Boobies. Cool. That is not what makes this game great. I have no idea how they made this game better than the first, but HuniePot found a way. If the increase difficulty from the first game didn’t stress you out, then switching between two dates while also focusing on a stamina gauge will make you sweat. It is such a simple new addition that makes the game so much better. Every combination of dates makes you shake up the way you approach the puzzle board since now everyone comes with baggage that can alter gameplay. All the new gameplay mechanics makes this one of my favorite puzzle games that I’ve played in a while. I did play this completely co-op with Kat since she is also a big fan of the game and I’m pretty sure was getting into it way more than I was.

New Additions

Elden Ring

I tried not to fall into the hype of calling this one of the best games I’ve played, but every minute of this game has had me hooked. It helps that I’ve been playing this game almost 90% co-op with a good friend of mine. We have been helping each other out by relaying discoveries and tackling bosses together. I’m glad I have experience with the series since I would have probably noped out of this when I first encountered the Tree Sentinel. I doubt I will finish this game this year, but I can see myself playing this in chunks and tackling every challenge I come across. Also my friend and I can’t stop making fingering jokes since we are in middle school.

I’m sure I will have much more to say about this game, but I want time to reflect my thoughts before talking about it. I will say I don’t think this game is a “perfect” game with all of the technical issues that I’ve been hearing.

Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth

Like many people who freaked out when they heard the Wii U and 3DS shops would be closing soon, I feel into the trap and went to the shop immediately to wishlist games that I wanted to get. After a few minutes, I came to the realization that if I didn’t purchase these games earlier, do I really need them now? My answer is yes and no. I don’t need to download everything that I see to preserve it for myself. I will take the approach I did with this game and shop around to find a good value on physical games while I can. With that being said, I though I bought the launch edition of this game for a good price, but it ended up being the standard version. It was still at a better price than what I’ve seen other places sell it for.

Etrian Odyssey is a dungeon crawling series where you create your expedition team and map. The game can be difficult if you are not careful with customizing your team to cover yourself for the journey. It also have an intriguing story that is followed through the games (minus the 3rd). This was the last game in the series that I was missing (if you don’t count the mystery dungeon spinoff).

*I technically also bought Horizon: Forbidden West, but that was for Kat. I don’t plan on playing it even though the internet says I should :p

Currently Playing

When I finished Pokemon Legends: Arceus, I thought it would be the perfect time to start tackling one of the fifteen games that I said I was going to finish this year. Instead I started playing Xenoblade Chronicles 2. I think the news of the third game got me interested in playing through the second (technically third) game in the series. I thought this would take me a while to finish, but I am currently chapter 7 after only playing for about 30 hours. The tone and character designs really turned me off at the start, but the story really picked up for me in chapter 6. I would be at the end of this game if Elden Ring didn’t come out last weekend. I will definitely have the time to finish this game soon since I will be on vacation and unfortunately my PlayStation is not a portable device.

But yeah. Elden Ring. I’m having fun. I won’t lie and say that the scary part is not knowing what I’m going to encounter at anytime, but that is also the fun of it. If I do finish it this year, then that will be a testament of how much I really enjoyed it.

I am also getting to the point where I am almost done with Yu Gi Oh! Master Duel. I still login daily, but I’m at a plateau in rank duels. I wish I could change things up with my deck and take the time to create something fun and new for me to use, but with thousands of cards and high rank players playing a certain way, it makes it hard to come up with a fun and functional deck.

Plans for Next Month

I don’t want to jinx myself. Their has been something new each month that has captivated my attention. I know I should have a stronger will and just ignore them, but I am a weak human being. The only games I’m interested in next month (that I know of) are Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, Chocobo GP, Triangle Strategy and Tiny Tina’s Wonderland. I can wait on all those games except for Chocobo GP because it is the law. I won’t commit myself to what I will be playing this month since it will probably be Elden Ring and one other game that I will feel in the mood for.

For the blog, I have several things that have been in my draft folder for a while. I hope to get some of those done and out of the way so that I can start preparing for some new things. Since I only got one post out in February, my goal is to get at least two out there this month. My analytics took a nose dive and I want to say it is due to me not being as present as I once was. Hopefully I can get things turned around and start thinking of ways if I want to make myself a bit more public as I feel comfortable.


And that’s all I got really. Enjoy the change of the seasons. Get your allergy medication ready. Help support those in need if you can. Trails of Cold Steel IV will never get done.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus Works (Backlog Tale)

I can’t help but to enjoy Pokémon games. Pokémon Red and Blue helped me discover RPGs and the one genre that I could enjoy while platformers, action adventure, and shooters felt like too much pressure for me. While there have been some games in the series that rubbed me the wrong way (Gen 4 & 7), I have given each new game a try and test to see how the appeal of Pokémon grows to keep me interested. As I reach my thirties, I understand full well that Pokémon is not designed to target my age group, but the developers try to tap into that nostalgia while remaining focused on their young demographic.

Enter Pokémon Legends: Arceus. This is the type of game that we wished we had back on the GameCube (no offense to Colosseum and Gale of Darkness). An “open-world” Pokémon game where you explore the wild and catch Pokémon. It is a bit agonizing that Game Freak has never made a game like this before, but they must have been waiting for when gaming devices got more advance to realize their visions. Right? Right!?

Synopsis

The game opens up with something I wasn’t expecting. Your character is shown floating in between time and space. Since you play as a Gen Z child, your phone is there with you. Suddenly a shining figure appears and tells you to seek all Pokémon to meet it again. After that, you wash up on the shores of Prelude Beach in the Hisui region (later known as the Sinnoh region). A Pokémon researcher named Professor Laventon finds you and escorts you to Jubilife Village and takes you to the Galaxy Team Headquarters. To reassure the villagers that you are not a spaghetti monster in disguise, you agree to join the Survey Corp to help the Galaxy Team and gain the trust of the villagers. From there, you explore Hisui and learn about the native locals and the reason why the sky is falling.


As I played the game, I tried to understand what I liked about the gameplay the most. Some people were quick to describe it like Breath of the Wild or Monster Hunter. I think Arceus takes ideas from both games to create its own experience while leaning more into being a survival (slight horror) game at the beginning and transforming into one of the familiar formats. In Breath of the Wild, you are given every tool that you need at the beginning of the game and it is up to you to decide on how to use those tools to get through the game’s challenges. Monster Hunter is different where you have a main weapon, resources that you pack in preparation, and your wits and reflexes. Arceus gives you a starter Pokémon, a portable craft table, and a dodge button. The rest is up to you to manage. When I compare these three games, I honestly have to say that Arceus may be more difficult than the other two when starting out.

Let me explain. Arceus and Monster Hunter have the common ground of crafting resources to assist you on quests. If you run out of items like potions, antidotes, flash bombs, ect., you can still defend yourself with your weapon until you have time to either gather materials or fly back to camp. Arceus takes the same concept, but your main weapon has a weakness and can break in a hit or two. Arceus almost demands that you prepare well in advance before leaving camp to ensure that you have a strong team of Pokémon that can meet the unknown challenges that you may encounter. You also need to manage your resources since you can only carry a small amount of materials with you in case you need to craft more pokéballs or potions while you are out. This makes certain situations tense when you enter a new area and have no idea if something is going to annoy you or flat out kill you.


The name of the game is catching them all. Since you are creating one of the world’s first Pokédex, it makes sense that you will need to study them. Unlike other Pokémon games where you unlock the Pokedéx entry for catching a Pokémon for the first time, you need to catch them multiple times, battle, evolve, and do other tasks in order to complete your research. You only need to reach a research level of ten to finish each entry, but if you want the satisfaction of 100 percent completion, be prepared for a long grind. This incentive is something that the mainline games lacked to me. I had no desire to catch every Pokémon since there was nothing satisfying about it outside your participation trophy for doing it all. My goal in those games is to become the Pokémon Champion, and the Pokédex is just a tool to help me learn about different Pokémon. In this game, I got excited when finding a new Pokémon because as a researcher it was my main job. The simple roleplay mindset allowed me to enjoy the gameplay since not a lot of battles happen in this game, thus I don’t need to focus on that aspect until the time comes for it (which is a good and bad thing that I will explain later).

Arceus likes to make one thing clear to you; Pokémon are not your friends and will not hesitate to kill you. Some Pokémon are docile and will just try to vibe with you. Others will act like law enforcement and attack you on site with no questions asked. Something that has been missing in Pokémon lately is the understanding that creatures capable of destroying civilizations and worlds are just freely roaming around and have no moral code to be pals with you. These are dangerous creatures! I have a whole new theory now that parents send their children out to be Pokémon Masters just for the off chance they don’t survive out there and thus help with population control (it would explain why there are a lot of single moms in your local Pokémon area). I have never been on edge while playing a Pokémon game, but the overpowered alpha Pokémon that you can encounter plus the almost mystic air of the region just made me cautious until I got the lay of the land. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I enjoyed having the constant air of danger looming over me until I had a tough squad who could protect my fragile ass. 


Okay, I’m going to say it now. The moment you have all been waiting for. The comment of the year that has had you on the edge of your set since you started reading this. Brace yourself. This is your moment to shine!

The game doesn’t look that great.

Photo by Cedric Fauntleroy on Pexels.com

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Yes. The visuals in this game are not the greatest. I however do not like the comments that this game looks like a PS2 game. That is an insult to the PS2 and you need to say sorry. If there was one thing that we all knew was going to happen it would be that the game would look subpar. However, it is not game breaking. Some areas look better than others, and I have to give credit to Game Freak for at least providing a stable framerate throughout the game. It just…misses that wow factor that they were trying to go for. You see games like Xenoblade and The Witcher 3 that look great on the Switch, and you wonder why they didn’t get Monolith or Bandai Namco to help them bloom things up. It is not bad to the point of unplayable, but it is something I would like to see them work on in the next Legends game.

While others were complaining about the graphics, no one points out the other bad mechanics that I noticed (too busy bitching about trees again). One mechanic that I find irritating at times is a Pokémon staple; battling. There are indeed times where you need to battle Pokémon and other people in the story. What’s bad about this is that no matter what level your Pokémon are at, they feel weak compared to your opponents. At times you may get lucky with a one-shot, but it feels completely unbalanced how your opponent can wipe your team without breaking a sweat. This is more prominent towards the end and post game where the toughest battles are held and suddenly you are scrambling to create a decent team that isn’t weak to ground (there are a lot of Pokémon who are weak to ground in this game for some reason). Some of these fights can get straight unfair when you are pit three against one in some battles and the game acts like you can handle it no problem. I understand from a lore perspective that the concept of training Pokémon does not exist in this world, and I like that detail. However, from a gameplay standpoint it does not work.

Another thing that pisses me off is when you accidently hit the boundaries of the map. If you unknowingly reach a part of the map where Game Freak is hiding the better graphics, Jimi Hendrix pops out of nowhere and surrounds you in purple haze. It is frustrating when you are just searching the area and you accidentally walk out of bounds and have to find your way out of it. A simple invisible wall would be so much better than this weird fog.

My favorite thing about this game is the level of detail (outside of visuals) that Game Freak fleshed out. It is a nice tough to watch the village grow with new buildings and villagers as you progress. I like that your prior knowledge of the Gen 4 games can come in handy when it comes to the lore. There are a ton of easter eggs that Poke Maniacs will notice and it provides a fun treat for exploring. While those details are good, there are also some bad details that could have been easily fixed. There would be times where my character would just hover above the ground. These sections look like the ground was altered, but the collision was never fixed. There is also this weird sheen that your character gets when it rains, or sometimes you can see the outline of your character clash with dark surfaces. Again, graphical hiccups that could have easily been smoothed out, but Game Freak hasn’t finished that online class yet.

Speaking of online, there are some online functions in this game. You are able to trade with people locally and somehow online. Sadly, local and online battles do not exist in this game (since Pokémon Trainers don’t exist). There is a social mechanic in the game where you can recover dropped items by other players. Whenever you black out for being bad at the game, you drop some items from your pouch that other players can retrieve for you. The reward for doing this is earning merit points that you can use to buy good items like evolution stones. This mechanic is unfair for anyone playing offline, since there is no way to recover lost items yourself. 


Let’s start to wrap up with my overall thoughts about this game. I think it’s also good to clarify that I played this game side-by-side with Kat. The extra benefit of playing this alongside someone else is a contributing factor to my enjoyment of the game. We would discover things together and help each other out and it made collecting all the Pokédex entries even more fun since we were kinda going against each other (until the final stretch when we started trading Pokémon that the other one hadn’t found yet). If you are able to play this with someone else, give it a try and see how it goes.

I found this game fun, addictive up to the end, and a true testament that Game Freak can make a good game. They just can’t make a pretty game on current hardware. I honestly feel that the only thing that holds this game back for most people is that the graphics are not “up-to-par” with current standards (whatever that is). For a person like me where graphics don’t make or break a game for me automatically, I’m glad that it didn’t put me off from playing this game. If you are the type who prioritizes graphics and visuals, then you will not have a good time with this game; and there is nothing wrong with that. Is not perfect by all means and could be so much better if it utilized a different engine. As modern gaming continues to evolve, I’m worried that the “fun” factor of a game won’t matter unless it has near perfect reviews and is near flawless in every aspect (almost like it is today). With that, enjoy playing the games you like to play and don’t let someone like me convince you otherwise.