Backlog Report – July 2022

Hello July. Goodbye July. Another month has come and gone in what feels like a bullet train ride through the year. Despite the hot and sticky weather, I will try and cherish these last few days of good mental health before hell starts to break loose. Gaming and writing may take a back seat in the months to come.

This month marks the end of the 50/50 Challenge that I started last year. A post about my results and what I’ve learned will come out shortly after this post. Since I haven’t really been talking about it lately, you can kinda guess how that went.

In other boring news (but really exciting for me), I am almost done cataloging all of the video game guides and art books that I’ve been collecting. This should have been done sooner when I first decided that I was interested in collecting them, but it can also be fun cataloging things in a huge batch. I just have a few more to go since most non-guidebooks are kept in a different room. I want to write about why I’m seeking out these old guide books lately and what makes them interesting to have in 2022. My next inventory project will be to record all of the game systems that Kat and I own.

Blog Posts This Month

Kirby and the Forgotten Abilities (Backlog Tale) – While I enjoyed my time playing through Kirby and the Forgotten Land, I couldn’t help but feel that something was missing. If you played through it and thought something was missing, maybe the structure of Kirby’s abilities was the culprit.

Finishing the Final Game in the Final Fantasy Advance Ports – Final Fantasy V (Backlog Tale) – I found Final Fantasy V to be lackluster, but that is a fault to the day and age that I played it (and games similar to it that I’ve played). While it is a classic game and has one of the best job systems in the mainline series, its spiritual successors like Bravely Default and Octopath Traveler have evolved the concept.

Games Finished This Month

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV

The meme is now over. After 168 hours and playing this game in chunks over the past year and a half, I have finally finished this part in the overlapping saga. If my tear ducts would work properly, I would have sobbed at the end. After getting to know these characters all these years and watching them grow into the heroes they become gave me so many emotions. I’m glad that I decided to randomly pick up this series since it has been an overall good experience for the most part. I would like to say that I am caught up on the current series, but I still have the Sky and Crossbell games to play through before I view all of the pieces in this epic saga. Just give me five to ten years to do all of that…

Gunstar Heroes

This is a blast from the past. I don’t have as much nostalgia for the Sega Genesis like I do with the Super Nintendo. There are a few games on the Genesis that are very nostalgic for me, and Gunstar Heroes is one of those games. We used to play this a lot at my cousin’s house, but we could never beat it due to its high difficulty toward the end. Thanks to the Sega Genesis library via Nintendo Switch Online, my brother and I were able to put this game to rest in a little over three hours. The game still holds up great despite all of the flashing lights (developers loved their epilepsy flashers back in the day). If you have never played this game with someone, now is one of the best times since you can play it with someone online.

Final Fantasy VII

Would it surprise you if I told you that I have never finished this game before? I have played it in the past, but I lost access to it right when I got to the Northern Crater. Despite owning an original copy of the game, I went with the PS4 version since the achievement list would encourage me to see all that the game had to offer. Additionally, turbo mode made getting through some sections a big time saver (wish all JRPGs had a turbo button). Overall, I really enjoyed this game and understand why so many people are fond of it. I appreciate Cloud as a character way more since I finally understand the type of character he is. I’m excited to see the events of Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth and the third game now that I have a better understanding of how the main game’s events flow (the final Midgar raid better be epic). I will now take back my JRPG Player card now that I have finished this game proper.

Games Added This Month

Tokyo Mirage Session #FE Encore

I wasn’t planning on getting many games this month after last month’s splurge fest. Of course deals would pop up that would be too good for me to resist. The first game that I was able to find cheap was Tokyo Mirage Session #FE Encore. I have wanted to try this game for a while, but didn’t feel like hooking up my Wii U just to play this. Hopefully I will find the time to play it soon since it is a good game from what I’ve heard.

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles

I completely forgot that I got this game this month (for some reason I thought it was last month). I’ve enjoyed the Phoenix Wright series due to its suspenseful nature. I need to finish the rest of the series past Apollo Justice at some point before bringing this game to the stand.

Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town

This is a game that I’ve been waiting to get. Not only does it feed into my Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons collecting as of late, but it is technically a remake of one of the better games in the series. I would also like to point out that the case for this game is amazing since the reverse cover is a redesign of the Japanese box art for Friends of Mineral Town. I wish more companies would be creative with their cover art.

Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin

I had no intention of getting this game, but for $10 USD I can be persuaded to give anything a try. After looking at game footage I’m starting to wonder why I wouldn’t be interested in this. I will have to give this game a try soon just so I don’t forget that I have it.

Harvest Moon 2, Harvest Moon 3 GBC, & Harvest Moon (SNES)

Yup. I’m back to collecting different versions of Harvest Moon. With the 3DS and Wii U shop closing soon, these may be the last games that I’m interested in getting on either system. Harvest Moon 64 is also available on the Wii U shop, but I’ve decided that I’m going to look for an authentic copy of the game (there are so many replications online). Good luck finding a cheap copy of Harvest Moon for the SNES once the store closes since that is a crazy expensive game.

Mario Golf Toadstool Tour & Mario Power Tennis

We can all agree that the Mario sports games have been extremely lackluster as of late. The whole “release the game now and we will add the rest of the content later” does not work with a full price game and Nintendo has ruined a lot of popular titles with this development model. I’m going to get off this topic now before this turns into an essay. I have never owned these titles despite really liking Mario Golf and Tennis on the N64. For some reason my older brother never had the urge to get these. I was able to find them both complete for a good price; and that means a lot considering that they are Gamecube games. 

Xenoblade Chronicles 3

If I hadn’t finished the other two Xenoblade games recently, I wouldn’t be as excited to play this. With both games’ stories still fresh in my memory, it’s best to play this now and dodge any potential spoilers that will be posted online next week (because people can’t help themselves). Will report once I get further into the game.

Digimon Survive

I felt bad for Digimon Survive. We’ve known about this game since 2018 and it’s finally being released….the same day as Xenoblade 3. That’s not their fault since Nintendo bumped XC3’s date up from its original September date. It is Bandai’s fault for not marketing this game until the last few months. It looks like a really good game with a mix of tactics RPG and visual novel segments. I wanted to support this game because I know this will be found in the bargain bin soon and considered a semi-flop (or maybe not since physical copies are slim).

Currently Playing

I wrapped up Final Fantasy VII for the first time. Despite the frustration I got while trying to navigate some areas, the original game still holds up greatly. I appreciate the whole FF7 universe now that I have a better understanding of the characters and world (I didn’t remember much from the first time I played it). Consider me excited to see where Final Fantasy 7: Rebirth goes and how the Remake project will conclude.

At the time of this writing, I haven’t played enough of Xenoblade 3 to give a formal opinion. I can only assume that I’m enjoying my time with the game and annoying people on the socials about it. This is where I will be for a while.

Once I’m done with Xenoblade 3, I want to take a break from long RPGs and break out into some other genres for a while. Maybe I will start playing through all of these Harvest Moon games since I will need something relaxing to play after work in the coming months. 

And that’s all I got this month. What are your plans and goals for this month? Try to stay cool out there.

Finishing the Final Game in the Final Fantasy Advance Ports – Final Fantasy V (Backlog Tale)

Image from Final Fantasy Wiki

I never really grew up with the Final Fantasy series. My first encounter with the games was watching my older cousins play Final Fantasy VII whenever we would visit them. It wouldn’t be until the re-releases on the GameBoy Advance that I would properly play through the games. I had Final Fantasy 1&2 Dawn of Souls, followed by Final Fantasy VI Advance, and then Final Fantasy IV Advance. The only game in the series that I never got around to buying was Final Fantasy V Advance. The game never really appeared in the stores that I encountered, and I had since given up on finding it. That all changed in 2016 when I discovered one of my favorite retro game stores [include link to estarland] and decided to mark the occasion by completing my set. Now six years later after obtaining it, I have finally played and finished Final Fantasy V Advance. Was it worth the wait? No really.

If you are unfamiliar with the story of FFV, here’s the brief. The world is slowly losing the power of the crystals after overabusing them. Noticing the weak state of the wind, the king of Tycoon heads off to the Wind Crystal with his daughter following behind. At the same time, a meteorite crashes near the castle carrying a man who has lost his memories. All the while, an adventurer with his trusty Chocobo happens to be in the area and rescues the princess near the crash site. The two team up with the asmethic man to investigate the Wind Crystal while picking up a pirate captain on the way. They soon witness the Wind Crystal shatter before them and then are tasked with protecting the remaining crystals with the new powers they have been bestowed. The rest of the story follows how they continue to fail to protect anything and lose a lot of people and places along the way. They eventually defeat the evil being known as Exdeath and somehow restore balance to the world.

If my story explanation seemed rushed at the end, that explains how I felt about the story in this game. The story was the weakest part of the game to me. It felt subpar to me if you consider the game that came before this and the one that came after. Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI had a good story foundation that was carried greatly by their characters. The journey of Cecil is interesting to see him go from a dark knight to a paladin. The cast of FFVI all have their story motivation and you understand each of their motivations in both acts. FFV has a good plot to it, but none of the characters have a lasting motivation that carries from start to finish. You are given a reason why they are on this journey and small sections here and there to what keeps them going. There is little interest in these characters since they are not the main attraction in this game. If this game came out before FFIV, I believe that it would have more notoriety since future titles really started to focus on the character developments within the story.

The main attraction in this game is the new and improved job system. FFV allows you to fully customize your characters in any way that you see fit. Every time you fail to save a crystal, you are given shards of power that contain a new job for the group. Instead of worrying about your character level, the idea is to level up your job experience to unlock job abilities and stat growth.. While each character can only be assigned one job at a time, you do have the ability to assign a secondary action from any job that you have leveled up. This means you can have a knight who can cast black magic, a white mage with monk abilities, and so on. For me, this was the fun part about playing this game, but I wish there was more incentive to use all of the jobs.

You could play the game how the developers intended with changing out jobs when they would be most effective, but that makes little sense if you know the build that you want to go with. Since you normally get around 1 to 2 job points per battle and the number of points you need to level jobs increases, it makes most sense to just level up the jobs that you want to master to avoid the endless grind. Since I was familiar with the job system, I knew which jobs and abilities I wanted to give each character; making experimentation with other jobs pointless when I knew my end result would carry me through the endgame. When I got around to unlocking the “best” jobs in the game, I didn’t bother with them since I had the set up I wanted and didn’t want to grind out more points just to master them. Most of the playtime in FFV comes from grinding job points and not from the length of the game. My 30 hour playtime could have been reduced by a third if I didn’t grind for job points and the ultimate weapons.

While I am someone who enjoys grinding here and there, I was spoiled by the fact that I have played games with a similar job system and have done it better. The obvious example of this is Bravely Default. Bravely Default has the same job system from FFV, but streamlines it so most jobs have some appeal to them either through passive abilities or commands. Grinding job points was easier if you met certain requirements or unlocked abilities that granted more job points. The grind was fun in that game since the game was rewarding you from the start to get the most potential out of each job. If I had played FFV before Bravely Default, I would have personally rated it much higher.

In the end, I was met with a classic game that has been outdone by its spiritual successors in my opinion. After FFV, there would be no other Final Fantasy game in the mainline series that would use this type of job system. It was good for the time, but other games have proved that it can be much better. Pair that with a story, characters, and world that felt very flat to me, I feel like FFV is now at the bottom of my personal tier list. If I ever revisit it, it will probably be in the form of the Pixel Remasters since every other version that I’ve heard of is meh. To leave things off on a positive note, the best character in the game hands down is Gilgamesh. I now understand why he is a recurring character in the series and his death was the saddest one for me.

If you are wondering about my personal rankings of the GBA Final Fantasy games, they are:

VI Advance
Tactics Advance (need to finish)
1 & 2 Dawn of Souls
IV Advance
V Advance

Backlog Tale – Astral Chain

I finally got around to playing and finishing Astral Chain. This game was hyped up before and after its release as one of the best titles on the Nintendo Switch. Well, I’m two years late to the part and I was able to see the game to the end. What are my thoughts about it? Well….let’s get somethings out of the way first.


In a few years, the Earth is taken over by a red glitch in the system and monsters known as Chimeras start attacking the masses. To protect everyone, humankind borrowed a page out of the Bible and constructed an “ark” disguised as a large city to protect everyone. You play as rookie police officer Boy or Girl who have joined a special police task force called Neuron. You are assigned a Legion, humanity’s answer to gun control, by one Yoseph “completely not a evil scientist or anything” Calvert. While out on your first mission, you and your fellow Legion rangers are sent to red glitch world where your Legions experience a Persona 5 moment and break free from the shackles that bind them. Only you are able to keep your anime powers, but because it is the power of anime, your parental figure has to die. Now as humanity’s last defense against the Chimeras, you must defend the peace of the Ark and eliminate any conspiracies about what the government is hiding about the end of the world.

Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way. This is a really good game. From the moment you finish customizing your character, you are thrown into the action of this game and get a real sense of the setting. The Ark is a large metropolis that is dazzled by the cityscape enveloped in an everlasting night sky. The cyberpunk aesthetic never lets up as the entire game takes place in the city and the red digital world known as the Astral Plane. For those who like sci-fi settings, Astral Chain begs you to explore every area and envision what a futuristic city could look like one day.

The Legions that you obtain are well implemented and are balanced near perfect to fit the playstyle of your choice. The Sword Legion is great for basic combat and was my most reliable ally in most fights. The Arrow Legion is of course a great asset for long range combat, and if you want to jump off a cliff and feel miserable about your life, you can always use the Beast Legion. It wasn’t until I got the Axe Legion that I realized a barrier is one of the best abilities to have in this game. The Legions are also used for some great puzzle mechanics to get pass certain obstacles and enemy BS. You constantly have to tweak each of your Legions since you can never tell when one will be better suited for each situation.

Alongside the Legion discussion is the topic of combat. Combat in Astral Chain is fast-paced and beautiful. The way your character and the Legion work together during combos and enemy flanking, using the chain itself as a versatile tool is a smart decision, and switching between your three main weapons to deal with enemies more efficient never dulls the combat one bit. To date, this might be one of my favorite action combat system that PlatniumGames has done next to NieR: Automata. Even playing on Standard difficulty, none of the fights (minus the final boss which took three attempts) felt unfair or boring since the combat was the fun part of the game for me.

So with all of that, it is time to answer the question I was asking myself while playing Astral Chain.

Why did I find it so difficult to enjoy and finish this game?

When I first started playing this game, I was enjoying all of it. The highspeed bike sequence at the beginning set the tone for me as well as the battle on the bridge and getting control of the Sword Legion. It was fun while exploring HQ and completing side quest for the many interesting characters that needed your help (Marie is best character). Even exploring Harmony Square and cleaning up red glitch poop was fun. So why did it stop being fun?

These are all personal reasons for why my enjoyment started to fade, so please keep that in mind as I describe my flaws with the game.

The first flaw with me was the setting. I am already not the biggest fan of sci-fi elements, but there are occasions where a sci-fi setting can win me over and I can enjoy myself. The problem with Astral Chain is that its setting never changes from the two that it sticks with; the night city or the red particle world. Sure you may explore a different area like the rustic establishment of Zone 09, or the sleek interior of the UNION HQ, but at the end of the day, you are either in the city or the Astral Plane. As the game goes these areas change due to the destruction, but it is never a change of pace that gets me excited to explore the area. I need some different colors and areas to keep myself from becoming numb over repeating the same things over and over to keep me engaged. It took me by surprise at the end of the game when the sun came out that I realized that I had never seen this game with a warm light to it.

My second complaint comes from the controls. Maybe I’m just getting older and having to remember which button does what is catching up to me, but Astral Chain makes every single button important for something, and this can be frustrating at certain points. I can’t begin to rage how many times I would accidently bring up the camera (twice when fighting the final boss which yielded a good picture of it) when I was trying to switch weapons quickly. When you do bring up the camera, there are multiple button inputs that go with those controls that you have to stop and think for a moment which button is used to close the camera. This carries over to controlling your Legion, which have their own certain inputs to remember. ZL is used to summon your Legion. Pressing ZR twice will make your Legion attack automatically when targeting an enemy, but will also recall them if they are away from you. The L button activates the Legion’s ability and will lock you into the camera angle that is used for that ability. So in battle, make sure you press ZL and not L when summoning your Legion or you will lose sight of it. And then, in order to use a Legion’s battle ability, you have to hold ZL and then either X or Y to use it. If you let go without doing so, you will either change your Legion with the Y button or use an item with the X button. When you are taking your time with things, it is easy to remember this stuff, but when you are trying to keep the action going, then these simple mistakes happen frequently (or at least to me).

Another complaint I had was moving my Legion for certain things. If you wrap your chain around an enemy, you can bind them for a short time or knock them out completely. I don’t know if there is a problem with my depth perspective or I’m just really bad at controlling the camera, but there were numerous times where I would mess up simple action of making a circle around an enemy due to my field of view. This was very frustrating during the awful stealth sections of the game (why are there stealth sections in a fast-paced action game?) You can knock guards out by binding them which sounds easy. However, the game will prevent your Legion from moving in between gaps that you can absolutely get through, or the camera will adjust and show that your Legion got stuck on something that you couldn’t see. I hated the stealth sections and found them very out of place within the game.

And don’t get me started with the Beast Legion. All dogos are good, but the Beast Legion has to be the worst Legion out of the bunch. What’s bad about that is that you have to rely on it for a lot of things like tracking scents, running away from things trying to suck you in, and getting past platforms that disappear under your feet. The problem with the Beast Legion is how bad it controls with its jerky movement, unable to stop when needed, and unreliability to jump over gaps even though the instructions say that it can. I wish they spent more time working on the mechanics of the Beast Legion, but it was for sure the least used Legion that I had.

My only last nitpick of the game was the story. I liked how things were building up at the beginning with wondering what happened to your dad after he is left by himself in the Astral Plane. The game teases you that he could still be alive out there somewhere, but it is never resolved at the end. The theory is that his spirit lives on in the Axe Legion since you see his image at the end, but to me that signifies the last connection that you have with him. Things just feel exciting at the beginning, then slow down in the middle, and then picks back up around chapter 9. There are a ton of side quest to do in each chapter to help build the world and narrative, but by chapter 7 I was burnt out and just ready to see the conclusion of the main story. There were probably tons of things I missed in the later chapters if I did all of the side quest, but it wasn’t worth it to me at the end especially if I had to do one more gyro balancing quest.

Please don’t let my nitpicks discourage you from playing this game. I still think fundamentally, it is a great game with excellent combat, music, and design that is interesting to experience. Anytime I hear about this game from other people it is always in a positive way. There is a ton of replay value if you want to max out all of your Legions, earn the highest ranking for each mission and chapter, and unlock all the customization options available in the game. The game is short and could be beaten in a week, so the added content available once you finish the game is nice if you want to keep playing the game. As for me, I immediately took the game out of my system and placed it back on my shelf to maybe one day in our own red glitchy future, I may replay it once the bad taste is out of my mouth.

Thanks for reading,


EXP Share Results + Topic #2

The inaugural month of the EXP Share Post has come and gone. I hope everyone has had fun reading and sharing each other’s stories. I was unsure how this collab would go with others, but it seems to be enjoyable and I am happy to continue doing it!

With topic number one, there were a total of five posts! If you have not given them a read yet, I implore you to do so!

Why I Feel In Love With Video Games by Later Levels – You can have a blogging event without Kim from Later Levels! You can guess what game got her into the hobby, but hearing it form her and the story that goes along with makes it sound like a destiny’s calling.

EXP Share: The Video Game, Moment, or Reason, That Got Me Into Gaming by Thero159 – Nintendo 64 Christmas Kid, meet GameBoy Color Christmas Kid! Thero’s story is very simple, but it captures that moment of wonderment at a young age who is about to embark on a grand adventure.

EXP Share #1 – The Beginning of it All… by Gaming Omnivore – Oh to be a kid in the late 80s/early 90s. Some of legends in the gaming world start to emerge around this time, but can you guess which game started our omnivorous friend’s hunger for gaming?

EXP Share: Gaming Escapism Begins by Ace Asunder – Solarayo’s story sounds like the origin story for a badass superhero. From the ashes of a childhood event, a new person was born! One that would have an affinity toward lightning, the color purple, and punching things!

How It Started (EXP Share Post) by Tales from the Backlog – It feels weird putting my own post in this post, but the concept of this event is to share post even if that means sharing my own again with old and new readers. I don’t know if I will do it again, but here it is in case you didn’t get around to reading it the first time. I will always put everyone’s else’s post above mine because I want to share them with everyone else since I’m grateful they took the time to take part in this community event that I thought of one random day while I was probably at work.

With November behind us now. We must look toward the future and dream of better times. Quite literally since we are at the end of 2020, and I bet we are all ready for the sequel in 2021! For the December EXP Share Post, I wanted to come up with a topic that fits the holiday season without being directly Christmas related. I know we all celebrate different holidays and special occasions, so I’ll try to not make any topics relate directly to a specific holiday. With that in mind, there is one concept that is synonymous with all holidays happening this month. So for this month, I propose this topic:

Share A Story Where You Shared The Gift Of Gaming With Someone OR Someone Shared It With You.

It sounds a little confusing so let me explain.

Share a story were you may of introduce someone to gaming. It could be a game that you wanted someone to try and they loved/hated it, introducing someone to a series that they never heard of, buying a game or console for someone, sharing a special moment with someone, or letting someone play a level in a game and sharing the fun/misery of it all. If you can’t think of a moment that you did personally, was it something someone did for you that was a gift? All are still welcome to join in on these types of post. As always, no pressure if you don’t have a story you want to share. I will eventually come up with the one topic that you can’t help but to share a story!

Like last time, the deadline for your post will be at the end of the month, December 31. Spread the holiday cheer of whichever holiday you celebrate by sharing the gift of storytelling with everyone!

Thanks for reading,