My Games of 2021

Ugh. What year is it? 2021 is over, so now I can talk about the games I played throughout the year. I was originally going to rank the games that I came out in 2021 that I played, but I ended up playing a lot of uninteresting titles. If you want me to talk more about Mario Golf: Super Rush again I can try, but that was already a struggle previously. So, this year I am going to shake things up and talk about my top ten favorite games that I finished this year. There is a good mix of new and old titles in here and it makes for a more interesting write for me. To give you an idea of how slow I am with things, here are two honorable mention list with games I wanted to play and games I started but haven’t finished.

Games Released in 2021 That I Had Interest Playing, But I Never Bought

Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny
Pac-Man 99
Poison Control
Nier Replicant ver. 1.22474487139…
Returnal
Resident Evil: Village
Chivalry 2
Cris Tales
Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir
Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind
Legend of Mana (Remake)
Pokemon Unite
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
Psychonauts 2
No More Heroes III
Sonic Colors: Ultimate
WarioWare: Get It Together!
Cruis’n Blast
Kena: Bridge of Spirits
Metroid Dread
Far Cry 6
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles
Voice of Cards: The Isle of Dragon Roars
Forza Horizon 5
Dungeon Encounters
Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition (For the lols)
Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX
Super Robot Wars 30
Wildermyth
Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator

Games That Came Out In 2021 That I Played, But Didn’t Finish

Persona 5 Strikers
Bravely Default 2
New Pokemon Snap
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
Scarlet Nexus
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition
Back 4 Blood
Shin Megami Tensei V
Yu Gi Oh! RUSH DUEL: Dawn of the Battle Royal!!


Top Games That I Finished This Year

10. Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City

“Hie thee to the ocean city… To the Yggdrasil Labyrinth. A journey to the blue depths… To conquer the shadows of night. Though you know not what this means, you go towards Armoroad. What awaits is time’s end; death’s demise. A tempestuous dream… To push away the unfathomable dark and bring light to Armoroad… A stormy adventure begins…”

Creating my list was hard, but I knew I wanted to include this game. Etrian Odyssey III was one of the hardest games I have on the DS. My gaming knowledge was new to dungeon crawlers and understanding party compensation.10 years later, I have become an adult with a better understanding of how things work. I went from not understanding how certain abilities could be helpful to finding ways to make my party unstoppable. The mix between dungeon crawling and finding treasure out in sea made the game enjoyable for many hours. The game left such a big impression on me that I went out and got the other games in the series to slowly play through the story canon games in the series. I will report my thoughts when I finish the series twenty years from now.

9. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

The trend this year was finishing games that I’ve put off for years. I was really excited to play through this game when it first came out, but I found myself playing chunks at a time since I had started grad school at the time. Motivation went south fast when the definitive versions came out and sour my mood when I learned that you couldn’t transfer your progress to the newer, shinier version. So instead of starting all over, I chipped away at the base game and finally finished it this year. 

Dragon Quest XI is a comfort game for JRPG players. It is simple and friendly for newcomers while also engaging for series veterans. The story and setting make this an adventure worth playing while never feeling stale. There is always something to see, something to do, and challenges around every corner. I still need to finish the post game and eventually play through the definitive edition one day, but that won’t be until a while from now. I did write a post about this game back in October.

8. The World Ends With You: Final Remix / NEO: The World Ends With You

Yeah I’m cheating with this one. I couldn’t decide on which game I liked more over the other since they both have their high and low points. Ultimately I decided that if you put both together, you get a great game. The World Ends With You took me places that I wasn’t ready to go. The themes of your world ending when you refuse to live in it struck a chord that I never really thought about. It opened a new viewpoint that I was unaware of and kept the optimistic flame in me going. It’s sequel doesn’t do the theme justice, but it did deliver an improved gameplay formula that irritated me in the formal. Both games had me playing them whenever I had the free time to do it, and that’s coming from someone who ignored the original game when it came out. I am sad that NEO didn’t do well enough to Square’s expectations, but here’s hoping that the series can continue with new characters, locations, and a stronger emphasis on its theme.

7. Castlevania Advance Collection

I’m still cheating! When I learned that the Gameboy Advance Castlevania games were being rereleased, I got excited. Symphony of the Night is one of my favorite games and the advance trilogy share the same formula. While most games in the collection were better than others, I enjoyed my time playing through all four games. If you would like a more of my thoughts on the games, I wrote a post about them last month.

6. SaGa: Scarlet Grace – Ambitions

This was a surprise to me when I was looking over my options. The more I thought about this game, the more I remembered my playthrough and the adventure I went on. SaGa: Scarlet Grace has the charm and formula of a SaGa game that is also friendly for newcomers. The almost endless possibility of how your journey could play out makes finding and making decisions fun since you have to figure it out yourself (almost literally since there are not many guides). My journey with Urpina was a daunting one, but rewarding in so many ways. The other three protagonist are still waiting for me to take them on, but I am in no rush to get through theirs (especially since I started playing other games in the series). I wrote about my experience with the game back in August, so you can get the full read there.

5. Xenoblade Chronicles

The award for the game that took the longest time for me to beat this year goes to Xenoblade Chronicles. In hindsight, I could have finished this game a long time ago, but similar to Etrian Odyssey, my dumb young brain didn’t understand how to play the game logically. Xenoblade mimics a MMO game style where understanding how abilities and status modifiers matter. Once I understood this, the game became much more enjoyable to play and finish. It was a bit bittersweet to finally cross this game off my list since I was really feeling it. My advice if you want to play the game is to get the definitive edition on Switch. It is a really good game and worth playing. And yes, I did write about it as well as part of Love Your Backlog month.

4. Dark Souls Remastered

This is one of my proudest gaming achievements. I had no intention of finishing this game anytime soon, but the more I played and got into it, I was determined to see it through. I’m glad I did since the reward was definitely worth it and I felt accomplished. The original Dark Souls may not be my personal favorite out of the series, but it is now the one I am most comfortable with. There are parts in this game that I dread doing again, but I’m not afraid of facing them anymore. It is somber that I finally get to cross this off my list, but with other games in the series to keep me busy for the next four to nine years, I think the experience will make me a better player.

3. It Takes Two

There is a reason why this game won Game of the Year. It is a well-developed game. I played this with Kat the entire way though to the point where we couldn’t stop playing it. Everything felt well designed from the locations to gameplay to how everything relied on how cooperative you and your partner had to be. The story still irks me in several places, but certain moments make it up for being heartbreaking or hilarious depending on the type of person you are. I wish the game had more to do after the campaign since Kat and I were eager for more. If Hazelight Studios can expand on this gameplay and create something more inline with this, then it would be an instant buy from me.

2. Monster Hunter Rise

A new year, a new Monster Hunter game to play through. For me personally, I enjoyed Rise way more than I did with World. Rise fixed a lot of my personal issues with scaling down the bloated environment and making them smaller and more interesting. I like exploring the maps in Rise since there are things to discover like artifacts from the previous era and remnants of epic battles. My favorite is the Frost Islands where you can explore a destroyed ship and follow the skeletal remains of the monster it was fighting throughout the entire map. It’s details like this that I wish existed in World to make my time getting lost more interesting.

Besides the map, the mobility and how fast the game plays now made for interesting hunts. The Wire Bugs are one of my new favorite additions to the series and offers a lot of elements in and out of battles. I felt “meh” at first with the Wyvern Riding mechanic at first, but once I figured out how take advantage with the controls, it became fun to use. Rampage quest are still a struggle for me. The idea is to have multiple people with you during them, but my lonely self had a hard time maintaining everything that was going on. They do present a nice change of pace and strategy, but it does feel like it was meant to be played with others.

Other than that, the new monsters introduced had their fun gimmicks and quirks. I thought the Magnamola would be a pushover since I had no real difficulty up to it, but it quickly put me in my place when it decided to fly all of a sudden. The two new elder dragons are no pushovers either since they utilize Rise’s gameplay and your understanding of them. They are neat fights and made me say a swear or five. Outside of all of that, I’m happy Rise brought back interesting and creative designs for weapons and armor. It was something I was missing and happy to have back.

I never did write a post on Rise for one reason or another, but there is a lot that I can talk about. I originally didn’t have this game high on my list, but after replaying it this month, I feel in love with it all over again. On the fence if I might double dip and get the PC version when it comes out. I may actually finish Sunbreak when it comes out. The offer still stands if anyone wants to play online.

1. Tales of Arise

Tales of Arise is not a perfect game. If I had to rank it with the rest of the series, I would put it as maybe my fourth or fifth personal favorite. The game has a lot of good qualities in it, but there are glaring issues that hold it back from being up there for me like Symphonia and Vesperia. So why is it my number one game this year? From beginning to end, I could not stop thinking about this game. I wanted to explore everything this game offered and complete each difficult challenge that was available. I tend to avoid doing ridicules challenges in Tales of games, but Arise kept me engaged throughout. I didn’t find the characters annoying outside of battle and their struggles kept me invested. Even though I felt the story wasn’t on par with other titles, it did through me off guard at times and only decided to get complicated at the last minute.

Even as I write this, I still find it hard to explain why this was my favorite game I played and finished this year. There is something to say here about acknowledging all the faults it has while still finding some enjoyment out of it. I may never write about this game because I can never find the true words that I want to say. The best I have is that it is good despite its flaws. Rather that is good or bad is left to the individual. All I know is that Arise was my favorite game that I finished and completed this year.


So that’s all I got. Sorry if it is not the follow-up from last year’s presentation, but there wasn’t a lot of excitement from my gaming bubble. Let me know what some of your favorite games were this year that you finished.

Advancing Through Four Castlevania Classics (Backlog Tale)

I have been enjoying the Castlevania games ever since Castlevania: Symphony of the Night won me over. The castle labyrinth with its secrets and fun gameplay made me wish I got into the series earlier and play other games in this fashion. While I would later play Castlevania: Order of Ecclessia and some of Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, there were older games in the series that I missed out on completely (especially for someone who loved the GBA). Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, Harmony of Dissonance, & Aria of Sorrow were three Castlevania games that came out on the Gameboy Advance. All three games followed the structure of Symphony of the Night with the core gameplay of explore a castle with various rooms while finding items to increase your abilities and clap Dracula’s cheeks at the end. All three games are regarded as great games for the GBA and have high standards in the Castlevania franchise. Originally, I was going to purchase all three games via the Wii U Virtual Console (because good luck getting them for cheap physically), but one magically day, rumors started flying around about an Advance collection that had all three games in one package. Great for me, sad day for my Wii U. So for the month of October, I set out to complete as many of the games that I could. I finished all three GBA titles plus Dracula X which was included for some reason. Each game gave off different impressions for me, which made playing each a good different experience than playing the same game with a different skin. I will be going over all four games in the order that I played them. This post may get long, so get comfy and play any of the Castlevania soundtracks for background noise (all of the soundtracks can be found on Spotify)

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

Intro

It is the year 2035. Since that is 14 years from now, I am not surprise that the threat of Dracula still haunts us. Soma Cruz and his friend Mina Hakuba are enjoying the lunar eclipse when they are suddenly transported to Dracula’s Castle. Meet by not Alucard, Soma finds himself drawn to the castle as if he was a teenager who likes to trespass onto people’s property. He soon learns that he can absorb the souls of monsters if he is lucky enough, and has to stop a man named Graham from becoming the next Dracula.

This All Feels Familiar…

I will be completely honest here. This is not my first time playing through Aria of Sorrow. I played it back in the day when I first discovered emulation and it was one of the first games that I played with that method. That didn’t disrupt my experience with replaying this game since I had mostly forgotten the layout of the castle. The only thing I remembered were the three souls required in order to get the true ending of the game (for clarity I went for the true ending for all three games). Castlevania games have a tendency for including multiple endings with specific requirements in order to obtain the true ending. Just know for this game you need to obtain and equip the Flame Demon soul, Succubus soul, and Giant Bat soul during your fight with Graham to unlock the true ending route.

Mechanically speaking, Aria of Sorrow is the best out of the trio. The controls, movement, and items that you can obtain are similar to Symphony of the Night while standing out on its own thanks to the Soul Absorption mechanic. You can absorb the soul of every enemy in the game and it will add a new ability for Soma. There are three different types of souls: Bullet Souls shoot projectiles for long range attacks, Guardian Souls that can either transform or provide offensive or defensive buffs, and Enchanted Souls that provide stat boosts. What the three different soul types provide are multiple play styles that you can choose from during each playthrough. There are definitely certain souls that you want to utilize for effectiveness, but having the option to make your playthrough easier or more difficult is something I like to see in games. Along with souls, Soma can equip different weapons that change up his basic attack. Weapons range from shortswords, lances, hammers, brass knuckles, and even a gun. Each weapon also changes how you go about fighting enemies since they each weapon has a different animation, range, element, or aliment attribute to them. Just because one weapon has the higher attack value doesn’t mean that you can tackle all enemies and bosses with ease. During my playthrough I had to switch up weapons since some were harder to hit certain weapons. That all changes once you find Claimh Solais and start murdering enemies since the sword takes up most of the screen.


Difficulty is present in this Castlevania game. Throughout my playthrough there were definitely times where I felt outclassed or the enemies were just kicking my ass over and over. Being a Castlevania game, you are encouraged to explore each area you visit to ensure you find weapons, armor, and souls that can help you get through some of the castle’s challenges. The game is an RPG, so it tricks you into thinking that you need to grind levels in order to be more powerful to tackle these areas. If there is one thing that you take from me about almost all the Castlevania games is that you do not (I repeat DO NOT) need to grind levels. Obstacles require patience and understanding of how certain enemies more, what their weaknesses are, and understanding the best way to overcome their BS. The solution is not thinking that once you get to a higher level you can go on a killing spree. Just like the boss fights, the enemies in this game require your respect and a well thought out plan will get you through their obstacles.

Overall, Aria of Sorrow provided me with a good challenge and a great time navigating Dracula’s Castle (which felt like the shortest out of the three). Collecting souls, finding hidden areas, and blazing through the castle always feels good and the game provided. If I had to complain about something it would probably be the length of the game. I finished the game in about 5 hours across five sessions. I found navigating the castle to be simple and I hardly had to stop and consult a guide on where I had to go to next. Each area is very telling if you should be here on not, and once you find an ability soul for a specific ability, you pretty much know where to go to next. The game is super fun and replayable; I highly recommend playing this in the collection.

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon

Intro

The year is 1830. While the Belmonts were off playing dead or something, Dracula took the opportunity to plan his resurrection for the seventeenth time with the help from Carmilla. Because this tale is non-canon to the series, a vampire slayer by the name of Morris Baldwin, accompany by his apprentices Hugh Baldwin and Nathan Graves, storm the castle to stop the ritual. They fail as Morris is captured so that his blood can be used in the final ritual, and Nathan and Hugh demonstrate what you will be doing for most of the game by falling down a large pit. Hugh rushes off to save his master/father while leaving us with Nathan to ponder why the fall didn’t crush their tendons.

Oh boy….

Easily the worst game in the trilogy. I had high hopes for this game since people were talking good things about the game; the collection proudly features Nathan on the title and home screen, and it had high reviews at the time. This was the biggest let down for me and I was hoping that the game would turn around for me at some point, but it never did.

Let’s get my biggest complaints out of the way. I understand that some people may not like the long hallway sections in these games since they are giant time wasters that have nothing interesting in them except hordes of zombies or skeletons. Now, take those horizontal hallways of nothingness, set them up vertically, and make most of you map based on that. The game is essentially a repetitive notion of climbing up sections just to go through a few rooms that make up climb us less, to then climb up some more until you eventually need to go back down to get somewhere else. This wouldn’t be an issue if they included some cool enemies to challenge you on your way up or vary up the platforming a little besides the clock tower. Each ascent just feels the same and their are hardly any enemies or platforming tricks to make the climb feel engaging. It is interesting to have a Castlevania game focus on vertical progression over mostly horizontal exploration, but if there is nothing interesting to do or see while climbing, then its just a waste of time. This bothered me the most during my playthrough since I would get lost often on where to go next; only to find that I need to be on the other side of the castle and will have to backtrack mostly on foot (since there are no warp points at the bottom of the castle) to continue progress. Just writing about it makes me mad and makes me dread playing it again in the future.


Another thing that baffled me was at the beginning of the game. When you start off, Nathan has the classic slow walk like in the classic Castlevania games. You cannot run, you cannot get running starts to some platforms, and it is a slow experience to start the game with. This would deter most newcomers as it seems ridiculous to play a game at this speed until you found the ability to run. What I found to be bad game design is that in the third room that you go into, you find the boots that make you run. What was the point of not having it at the beginning if you are just going to get it without a fight or trial. It feels completely useless to start you off without the ability to dash, only to go through one room with where you fall and get pass a couple of enemies to then be rewarded with the privilege to play the game at a distant speed. If I hadn’t committed myself to play the game all the way through, I would have stopped playing the game right then and there out of spite and worried what other questionable game design choices the devs made.

Okay. Some non-negative things about the game now. I did enjoy the Dual Set-up System (DSS) mechanic that Nathan uses. Defeating certain enemies will make sometimes make a card drop representing an action or attribute. By choosing different combinations of action and attribute cards, you can turn Nathan’s main weapon into a different type of weapon or create spells that can help you offensively or defensively. My favorite spell was to combine the ice attribute card with the barrier action to create a rotating shield that helped me defensively as well as with offense. It made traversing much more tolerable and made some boss fights a joke since my barrier would destroy any projectiles they had. I hardly used any other skill once I had access to this.


Another enjoyable feature that is included in the Castlevania Advance Collection is the ability to create save states and rewind. I didn’t mention these features when I was talking about Aria of Sorrow since I hardly utilized them but would occasionally use the rewind function if I did something stupid. In Circle of the Moon I abused the hell out of these two mechanics. Since running around the castle was a pain, I would use a save state on one side of the castle, and if I realized the path I took was a horrible mistake, I would just reload the save state and choose a different path. No shame in doing that. I would also save state outside of boss rooms since I didn’t have the patience to restart the fight if I somehow lost. This didn’t matter since I abused the hell out of the rewind function during boss fights since I wanted to be done with this game as soon as possible. This made the final Dracula fight so much better since he had this stupid one hit kill rush that you have to avoid or start the whole fight again. I didn’t have the time or patience for that so I became a time wizard and just rewind time to avoid my untimely deaths. Again, I have no shame in using those tools. Without them I probably would not have finished them game and would have caused some minor property damage.

Overall, Circle of the Moon was a chore to get done and I hated every minute of it. I get why some people were excited to revisit what was possibly their first Castlevania experience on the GBA, but with so many better games that came before and after this game, I don’t get it. The slow start, boring level design, and worthless vertical progression just makes me want to stay away from this game forever (knowing me however I will probably stupidly want to go back and 100% it).

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance

Intro

It is the year 1748. Juste Belmont gets an invitation to a party in Dracula’s Castle. Attending the party are Maxim Kischine, Juste’s friend who went on a self-discover quest only to forget who he was, Lydie Erlanger, the damsel in distress plot, and the typical rose gallery of monsters you would find in these games. Juste and Maxim work together to find their friend Lydie who is held captive somewhere in the castle. While zooming through the castle, Juste realizes that the castle keeps changing, and Maxim goes from chum to chad depending on where he goes. It’s up to Juste to use his Belmont powers to crash the party, save his friends, and maybe murder Dracula along the way.

Better Than Expecting

I won’t lie. I thought this was going to be the game that I would hate in the collection. I found the pixel art for the characters to be awful and one of the driving factors to why I never bothered to play this game. Once I got past that issue, I found this game to be enjoyable and now one of my favorites in the series. Who knew that if you look past a game’s visuals you can find a fun game underneath?

I think the first thing that made this game for me was the speed at which Juste can move. Unlike Soma and definitely Nathan, Juste starts off with a forward dash that he can do with a push of the trigger buttons. It is about the same speed as doing a backstep in Aria of Sorrow or Symphony of the Night, but you are able to spam the dash to make Juste fly through some of the rooms. This made retracting places so much better in my opinion since instead of backstepping my way through places, I could keep a forward momentum while facing forward in case I had to dispatch enemies on my way. The speed at which Juste moves is also a good thing considering this has the biggest map out of the GBA trilogy. Iga wanted to bring back the feel of going through the same castle like in Symphony of the Night. The only difference is that Castle B isn’t upside down like in SoTN. Castle B is more than least the same as Castle A, so it makes you flip through two copies of the same map with the only thing that are different are enemies, background visuals, and items that you have to find. This may be disappointing for some who believe this to be lazy game design just to inflate the length of the game, but I didn’t mind it.


One of the reasons I didn’t mind it was because for the first time in a good while, I got lost on what to do next. The game doesn’t really spell it out to you on where to go next like in the other two games. It gives you plenty of guesses on where to go on the map, but most of the times it is an impassable wall or requires a certain item to get through it. Harmony of Dissonance took me the longest to finish by only an hour, but it was mostly because I was constantly getting lost at certain points, and then when I found my correct path it was a euphoric moment. For context, I didn’t use a guide at any point during this game until it came down to finding one item. When I consulted the guide, it basically told me that I was at the end of the game, and I felt good about figuring things out on my own up to that point. This does make the game hard for newcomers who are not use to the gameplay flow of Castlevania to retrace steps to find hidden secrets and retain knowledge on how to get back to certain areas. I did feel good that I am used to this type of gameplay, but I would find this game tortures to anyone playing it for the first time.

Going back to Juste. I found him to be extremely powerful for having nothing but his whip and sub weapons to mostly rely on. Harmony of Dissonance is still an RPG, so you will have to spend some time outfitting Juste with armor and accessories to boost his stats. I did find this game to rely more on the RPG aspect as it gives you four slots to outfit Juste with head, body, arm, and leg armor with you picking and choosing what fits best for your playstyle. Juste only has the Vampire Killer whip at his disposal, but that is all he needs to kick ass. During your journey, you will find certain tips that you can equip to the Vampire Killer. This tips are mostly elemental tips that you can change out to deal elemental damage to enemies, but some have special properties like the Crash Stone that can destroy certain walls and the Platinum tip that adds a +20 attack to the whip. Classic sub weapons are present like the dagger, axe, holy water, bible, knuckles (which is new), and my favorite, the cross. If your basic whip attack is too short, these projectiles have you back as always, but can be helpful in other ways. Another mechanic that Juste has access to are spell books that can be used to change how sub weapons are used. I would like to be honest and tell you which each did, but there was only two that I used. Those were the cross + fire book spell which creates a giant flaming cross that can stay in one place until you input the command again, and the cross + lighting spell that turns Juste invincible for a moment and summons a giant pillar of crosses that deal massive damage. Boss fights became a joke with that last spell since I would use up most of my magic just casting that and then finishing the job with my whip. The spell book system is something that you can turn off and on when you need to, and it is wise to turn it off when you don’t need it. Sub weapons require hearts to use them, but spells require MP in order to be used. So if you are in a fight and run out of MP, turn the spell book off and you will be able to use the sub weapon no problem since you didn’t have to waste hearts while combined with a spell. This versatility may seem simple, but it makes Juste feel deadly and one of the strongest Castlevania characters that I’ve ever played.


If there is one more complaint I could make it would be the lack of secrets that you can find and things that you could miss. I spent a lot of my time hitting walls thinking that one of them would be a secret room, but in my entire playthrough I didn’t find a single one. Breakable walls have been a staple of the Castlevania series, and if I knew this game didn’t have any besides the visible ones that you need a certain item for, then I wouldn’t have wasted my time checking everywhere I went. Instead of breakable walls, you do discover that some walls have an invisible path that you just have to discover on your own. To my knowledge, no other Castlevania game features invisible walls, so it trips up both newcomers and veterans to check for stuff like that. Going along with this, there are relics around the castle that help you travers different areas. There is a point in the game where you get the high jump ability, but you will sometimes find barriers that you can’t get through. You would think that you would need to find a relic to help you get through that barrier, but that is not the case. There are random boots that you have to find located off the beaten path that gives you the ability to break those barriers when equipped. The same thing happens when you come across one dark area and have to find night vision goggles to get through the area. For something as important that you need to get the things you need to unlock the final area, I wish it was a little bit clearer that these boots were important. If I didn’t read the description of them, I would have missed the fact that performing the high jump while they are equipped will destroy the barrier. Something minor that most people won’t have a problem with, but I could have spent another hour searching for something that I already had in my possession.

Overall, I was surprise that I enjoyed this game. Looks were very deceiving and I was not expecting to have a good time. So far, Juste may be my second favorite Belmont right behind Richter (his game on the other hand makes me rage).

Castlevania: Dracula X

Intro

One day while watching people suffer while playing Castlevania 3, Toru Hagihara was displeased that he didn’t have a bombing soundtrack to go along with his entertainment. He decided to task Akira Souji, Keizo Makamura, Reika Bando, Koji Yamada, and Satan himself to create on of the best soundtracks that they could come up with. After months of work, they created one of the best soundtracks that blew everyone away. To market on this great soundtrack, Hagihara had the great idea to program a game around it and sell it as a video game instead of a music CD. The team decided to call this album, Akumajō Dracula X: Chi no Rondo (Castlevania: Rondo of Blood) and release it as a computer game to get pass customs and dominate the PC music genre. While they saw great success for the PC version, they quickly realized that they didn’t live in the era of the PC master race and not many people played/listened to music on their home computer. The team then decided to re-release the soundtrack two years later in a cartridge format to fit into people’s cars. The cartridge wouldn’t fit into most commercial car radios, but it would fit perfectly in Nintendo’s Super Nintendo at the time. They were also lucky that Hagihara’s game program was also on the cartridge so that listeners could do something while jamming out to the music. Thus, Castlevania: Dracula X came to existence. Oh yeah and I guess the game has something to do about a guy named Richter Belmont storming Dracula’s Castle in order to save his lover Annette or something…

I am bad at this game

I played this entire game without figuring out how to perform the Item Crash ability. That should set the tone of how badly this playthrough went. I will admit that when it comes to Castlevania, I am a bigger fan of the “metroidvania” design over the 2-D platformer. The difficulty curve that they can throw always infuriated me with how bad I am with platformer games to begin with. It is all about trial and error and knowing how to utilize the tools that are at your disposal. None of that really translate to my brain much as I’m just trying my best to get to each goal as best as I can. It doesn’t help that health is hidden in each stage and there are limited. Thus, this creates a stressful environment for me where I am trying to play my best while avoiding hits that make me unprepared for the next screen or boss fight. I like to play games to relax and not send me to my therapist office every Friday evening.

But, Rondo of Blood/Dracula X felt different from other classic Castlevania titles. Sure there were some unfair enemy placements to create that artificial difficulty, but the game didn’t feel impossible or cheap like the time I played Dracula’s Curse. I could actually tell that the game was trying to help me get through the stages with helpful sub weapon placement and telegraphed enemy movements that makes playing the game easier if you notice these things. Of course there were times where I felt like my own skill level was preventing me from tackling things better, but once I took my time to analyze things and work at my own pace, I found the journey rewarding and manageable. I still don’t like the idea that Richter will jump back like a meter to the nearest pit if he gets hit, but all of this became manageable once I started utilizing the best feature of the game.


Yup, I used the reset function like crazy in this game. I probably used it more here than in Circle of the Moon due to my zero patience for platformer games. Does this diminish some of the difficulty of the game? Absolutely. Do I give a flying fuck? Absolutely not. When you are garbage at platformer games like me, you take all the advantages that you can take, and since the rewind feature is built into this version of the game, hell yeah it becomes a game mechanic. This doesn’t mean that I was going about rewinding after every hit or death. There are such things as strategic defeats in order to gain the upper hand. This mostly came in when I was low on health and couldn’t get past the onslaught of obstacles in my way. Dying will put you at the beginning of that screen, and then from there it is just practice to find the best ways to get past enemies. Randomly on like Stage 6, I finally discovered the backflip ability that you have access to at the beginning of the game…so that helped me out a lot going forward. Bosses can either be challenging or a joke if you can see their attack pattern coming ahead. Surprisingly, boss fights weren’t difficult to me since instead of platforming I just had to learn their pattern and attack when the opportunity came. The Dracula fight however is extremely tedious and requires you to jump on several platforms just for the change to attack him, and the time it took me just for the chance to hit him almost killed me before he got the chance to do so. The second phase however is a joke if you came to the fight with the cross (the cross will always be my favorite sub-weapon).

So with all of that, it would be no surprise that I didn’t like the game for being a challenging platformer game right? Well, as a shocker to myself as well, I came to enjoy this game once I got a feel for it all. The soundtrack to the game definitely helps since it was one of the driving forces that kept me pumped for more. Of course Vampire Killer and Bloody Tears are instant bangers, but other tracks like Richter’s theme Blood Relations and the Cemetery just struck a cord with me that boosted my moral. Without the rewind function, I probably would not have finished this game as fast as I did, but with it, I discovered what is now probably my favorite classic Castlevania game. I will have to play the game one day without the rewind feature, but hopefully by then I will know the game well enough that I don’t have to rely on it (and my blood levels can stay stable).

Advance Collection Overall

Honestly I am really glad that I experienced these games in this format. Playing the original games with an actual Game Boy Advance will probably feel like the best way to play these, but this collection makes these so easy to play. I played the collection on my Switch and the first advice I can give is to play these games with a comfortable controller. I played everything with my 8bitdo controller since it is in the shape of a Super Nintendo controller and felt comfortable playing games like this on. You do have the ability to customize your button layouts and that was a saving grace for me for attacking and jumping comfortably (its an available option, use it). Each game has a built in tracker that helps keeps tracks of relics that you find, cards and souls that enemies drop if you are trying to collect them all. This is super helpful and makes collecting items so much easier. There is also the after mentioned save states and replay functions. If you are having problems playing through the games due to their difficulty, please please please use these features to help make the games more tolerable. They are built in functions for you to use; use them to the fullest and never feel bad about it.

Overall, these are all good games that are worth playing (even if I think one of them is technically bad). They take no time to beat and can be replayed over again. If I had to rank them out of my personal enjoyment it would go as following:

1. Aria of Sorrow
2. Harmony of Dissonance
3. Dracula X
4. Circle of the Moon

Thanks for reading this really long post!

October 2021 Report

This has arguably the most productive month I’ve had in a while. I have been on a roll of releasing a new post every week (not originally my intention) and I still have content to keep that trend going. This is a good thing since I have notice that my foot traffic hasn’t been the same as it use to. This could just be a down time for most readers, or my content isn’t what it used to be. Either way, I’m happy with where I’m at right now so the drop in engagement doesn’t bother me that much.

Outside of blogging, other habits have been improving in a big way. I have finished the most games that I have in a single month since last April and it has been a wonderful feeling. On top of that, I haven’t had the desire to buy many new games unless I happen to see them in passing. With the holiday seasons coming up and more time off of work coming soon, I think I’m going to enjoy my first holiday season without much stress coming from school and work. That could all change is something stupid happens along the way, but I’m stupidly optimistic to see it happen.

Finished This Month

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

Like every October, I went on a big Castlevania kick for the spooky season. Aria of Sorrow is still as good as I remembered, and may be my second favorite out of the series. I will need to finish the sequel, Dawn of Sorrow, at some point, but that may have to wait until next October (calling it now a DS collection is going to come out by then).

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon

Easily my least favorite out of the Gameboy Advance trilogy. The vertical layout of most rooms and boring design just made it boring for me to play towards the end. I can see why some would hold this game in good favor since they probably played it when it first came out, but with how much Harmony of Dissonance and Aria of Sorrow improved the gameplay and how Symphony of the Night was designed better than this, I don’t know why Konami degrade this game when the GBA could handle it. I’m rambling, but know that I’ve played it and experienced it, I have no need to replay it again (unless I get sick in the head and want to 100% clear it).

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance

The final game in the GBA trilogy that I finished. I had mixed feelings going into this game since I wasn’t the biggest fan of the character sprites, but once I looked past that I realized that this is a solid Castlevania game. If I enjoyed Soma for being customizable and flexible, I quickly learned to appreciate Juste’s fast movement and overall powerful arsenal that mostly focus around his whip, Vampire Killer, and spells with sub weapons. I definitely want to play this game again and go for that 100% completion rate. It was that good.

Tales of Arise

Honestly debating if this is my GOTY of the year. Tales of Arise surpassed my expectations and delivered one of the best Tales of experiences that I’ve had since playing Hearts R. This is also the first Tales of game that I’ve gotten the platinum trophy for just because it was so much fun to do so (and one of the easiest one’s to complete). I do have some grudges with it that existed all the way through the postgame, but the other systems of the game kinda balance them out for me to the point I can tolerate it. My full post will be out soon once I can get my right words and feelings out.

Pokémon Trading Card Game (GBC)

Photo by Caleb Oquendo on Pexels.com

Sneaking in on the last day of October, I finished this game after realizing I was right there at the end. This is a game I picked up recently to play during my lunch break, and I don’t remember why I stopped playing when I was so close to the end. The Pokemon TCG is something that I never knew how to play before playing this, and I feel that is the case with some people who collected the cards, but never learned how to play the actual game. I would normally post a picture of my victory screen, but since I do not have a reliable source to screenshot my 3DS, then you will just have to take my word that I did in fact finish it.

New Additions

Xenoblade Chronicles 2

Up yours scalpers! I knew my patience and scouting would pay off one day to get this below normal retail and scalpers ridiculous pricing. I have been looking forward to playing this after I finally finished the first game a few months back. It will sadly have to wait a little bit longer since I already have my next long RPG planned, but I’m glad I now have it in my possession.

Pilotwings Resort

When getting Xenoblade Chronicles 2, this game caught my eye and I said “sure why not.” I enjoyed Pilotwings 64 back in the day, but never had the opportunity to play Pilotwings Resort until now. Just one of those games that have been under my radar for a while that I’m finally getting around to.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

This is a game that Kat was interested in playing, so we decided to go at this in co-op. I let her take the lead and adjust the camera when needed (to my frustration sometimes) and so far we have been having a fun time with it. I can see why some people wouldn’t mind a follow up to this game with more levels and mechanics that will really make you think.

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania

I have a friend from college that got me into this series. I have more experience playing Monkey Target than the regular game, but the main game provides good fun and challenge in the later stages. So far their hasn’t been a controller flung across the room yet.

Back 4 Blood

Another game that Kat was really looking forward to that I got to play along with her. It definitely hits all those Left 4 Dead vibes and provides new things to keep you on your toes. I still have no idea what to do with the card system since when I was first introduced to them I was half awake at that time…

Mario Party Superstars

I was originally on the fence if I was going to get this or not, but after looking at footage and reviews, I couldn’t help myself. Kat and I will have a good time playing this regardless, but as soon as my brother and our friend gets it, it will be fun to play with them online. Being in the same room and giving death stares will always be my preferred way of playing honestly.

Currently Playing

After getting the platinum trophy for Arise, I was left in a dead-zone period. I didn’t have anything lined up next, so I’m spending the time with just a free-for-all at the moment. Starting Friday, I know my days are going to get busy with a certain update coming out. As for now, Kat dared me to replay Kingdom Hearts: Re:chain of Memories since I like to boost that it is not a difficult game and people don’t like it because it requires them to think and not just mash. It has been a while since I played it so I am a bit rusty, but if you know what you are doing for the most part it is not difficult to play. It takes patience, but not as bad as people point out. Outside of that, I have been playing online multiplayer games with one of my friends out-of-state. We got into GTA 5 online after years of putting it off and found the experience to be more enjoying than we thought. Other than that, we play the occasional Warhammer rounds where I pretend to know what I’m doing.

Plans for Next Month

This month is going to be fun. This Friday the Animal Crossing: New Horizons update is coming out, so I will probably spend my entire Saturday unlocking the new things that you can do. I enjoyed the base game, but this update was long overdue and I’m looking forward to spending 300 hours of my life on this game again. That should keep me busy until Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl come out on November 19. Gen 4 may be at the bottom of my favorite generations, but it has some merits that I’m looking forward to revisiting. Other than that, I need to get back to The Legend of Heroes: Trials of Cold Steel 4 and get that done by the end of the year. Those are my current plan, but things can change depending on my mood.

50/50 Challenge Update

I have been bad about keeping a routine. Motivation quickly came when I went to the gym and weigh myself. I had gained one pound from where I originally began. If this didn’t motivate me like hell I don’t know what did. I am working my butt off now to the point I’ve lost 6 pounds (according to last weigh in). I’ve stopped drinking sugary drinks and slowly getting desserts out of my sight. I bought a resistance band that I use in my office when I’m at work. I am trying hard right now without pushing myself to limits that I need to rebuild myself to. Now I just can’t get lazy about it next month 🙂

As for gaming, I am mostly satisficed with my progress. I’m seven games in, so I need to pick up the pace a bit. I should have been over twelve games at this point, but life is life (and I can’t stay awake pass 10:30 pm). This month is going to be a challenge, but I hope to keep up the same pace like I did last month.

Challenge Statistics:

Weight loss: 6 pounds
Pounds to go: 44

Games Finished this Month: 5
Total Games Finished: 8/50


Okay. Back to sleep I go.

DanamesX

My Current Top 100 Games! (Minus 90 of Them)

If my math is correct, this post should be my 100th post here on Tales From The Backlog. I am surprised just like you all that I am here to celebrate this occasion. I already surpassed 100 follows on the blog a while ago, but I didn’t do anything at the time to commemorate it or anything. With this, I thought it would be a bit more special to do something for the one hundredth post on here. I do want to thank all of you who enjoy reading my random posts on video games and whatnot. Hopefully I can keep on doing it for a while longer and continue to grow.

As the title suggests, I was going to share my top 100 games, but quickly realized how hard that was. I got stuck around 50ish games until I gave up on that list. So instead I am cutting that number down by 90% and sharing with you my top 10 games instead. If I make it to my 200th post then I will share ten more with you, and by the time I get to my 1000th post you will have my full list. Picking your top 10 is never an easy tasks since you have to decide and debate what your favorite games might be out of all the possibilities that you may have. As someone who has played a lot of games, it is hard to narrow down the list and declare just 10 of them as your favorite. After time and consideration, I have narrowed down what I consider my current top 10 games of all time. This list will probably change over time as long as new games keep coming out. But where ever they may fall in the future, these games will have a special place within my collection.


10. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel I-IV

This has become one of my new favorite series in the past few years. I randomly picked the first game up in 2018, but didn’t play it until the following year. The story in this series instantly hooked me with its insane plot twists and well thought out characters and their development. The only downside of this series is that it takes a lot of time to get through each game with this story connecting to others in the series; Sky with 3 games, Crossbell with Zero and Azure, Cold Steel with 4 games, Hajimari no Kiseki that came out last year, and now Kuro no Kiseki that comes out this year. That is a lot to commit to one series, but one that I will get to over the years.

Besides the story, there is a lot of variety when it comes to customizing your character’s skills. Each character has a Master Quartz attached to them that can be leveled up to unlock skills and raise stats (you can equip two at a time in later games). Along with that, regular quartz can be attached to each character to give them extra stat boosts, magic, and special benefits. It works almost like the materia system from Final Fantasy VII. Even though some characters have specific strengths in one area, it is nice that you have to option to outfit characters with a healing spell just in case you need it. It is a fun system to hunt down quartz that can strengthen your character’s build and it is one of my highlights.

The writer’s paid close attention to the story and nothing feels out of place or left unsolved. Everything connects throughout the events of the story even though an answer to a question doesn’t come up until the end of each game. Every character has their own development that’s continues to grow in each title. Even background characters have their own progression and story that doesn’t need to be there, but it is there if you want to learn more about them (or are going for the achievement). It makes the entire saga feel like a living world where characters not important to the plot may have connections with others characters and the overall world. It is a little frustrating to hunt all of these character notes and missing one feels like a let down, but it is worth it to get a sense of everyone’s struggles and viewpoints with all the events happening.

As of writing this, I am on part 4 of Trails of Cold Steel. I had to take a break from the series since I will spend over almost 100 hours on my first playthrough. I will finish it by the end of the year and cry my eyes out like I have for every ending in these games. I do have the Trails in the Sky games ready to go next, and I’m still up in the air if I want to play Azure and Zero. If JRPGs with good storytelling, attention to detail, excellent battle mechanics, and waifus all over the place, then I highly recommend giving these games a chance.

9. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Seasons

When asked what your favorite Zelda game is, most people will go with one of the console Zelda titles (Link to the Past, Ocarina, Majora’s, Wind Waker, Breath of Wild). For me personally, I love the Oracle games in the series. If I had to pick one out of the two, it would probably be Seasons since it is the one that I had as a kid (wouldn’t play Ages until it came out on the 3DS Virtual Console). These games are just fun and have a lot of creative tools and mechanics that aren’t used in other Zelda games.

Each game focuses on a different aspect of the Legend of Zelda series. Ages focuses more on the puzzle elements of the series, while Seasons has a lot of combat areas in it. This doesn’t mean that each version is lacking the other element. Both games are great in their own merit and present a great Zelda title when played together.

Speaking of which, this is the only Zelda title that has two different version that you can link up for one super adventure. After you finish one title, you can transfer your save data via a password and continue your adventure in the other game. You won’t be able to bring over items, but you can transfer rings that you collect to help you in the next game. If you finish the second game with your save data, you will be able to unlock the true ending and face off against feral Ganon to bring the story to a close.

What makes me like these titles over the other Zelda games is the presentation of the games. I like the 2D top down Zelda titles over their 3D counterparts. The changing of the seasons mechanic is one of my favorite puzzle elements in a Zelda game, and I wish they would bring it back (they keep bringing time travel and passing between worlds). The dungeons are always fun to do, and the items that you get can be used in creative ways. If these games ever got the same treatment like Link’s Awakening did, I would be all over those (even though I have a soft spot for the Game Boy ascetic.

8. Star Fox 64

In space, no one can hear you scream. They instead can hear a space bunny tell you to do a barrel roll in your versatile aircraft machine. Star Fox 64 is one of those games that I played as a kid, but didn’t start to enjoy it until my later years. There is something fun about this rail shooter is fun to play over and over.

Star Fox 64 is not a long game or difficult. You shoot down baddies in each stage and fight a boss at the end. The replayability comes from exploring each route in the game since you can only follow a certain path based on what you did in the previous stage. You want to go to Sector X instead of the Asteroid Belt? Then I hope you knew that you had to fly under the arches in Cornelia to trigger the event to change paths. Each mission will result in a “Mission Accomplish” or “Mission Complete.” Mission Accomplish means that you did the right thing to continue on the path for the “good” ending. Mission Complete means that you completed your mission, but you missed something to finish your true goal. There is no road to a bad ending, so there is nothing to get discourage if you don’t get the true ending. Sometimes, it’s just fun to play the other areas if you are tired of trying to get the true ending.

Star Fox 64 is one of those comfort games that you can play and not feel stressed about anything. This is probably one of the few games that I like to play on the N64 over the 3DS version. The 3DS version polishes up all the textures in the game and looks impressive in 3D mode. There isn’t much different in the game however besides if you want to play with traditional controls or gyro motion. I prefer the abomination of the N64 controller when playing this game due in part to nostalgia.

7. Mega Man X

Possibly the first action/platformer game that I played on my own outside of Mario and Sonic. At a young age, this game should have been difficult or intimidating to me since all fast, paced games gave me anxiety. Mega Man X was different somehow that eight year old me could blast through all eight stages with no problem (playing it over and over helped a lot). The spider boss in the first part of the Sigma stage was my roadblock back then, but 20 years later and I now can finish this game in one sitting. There is a lot to love about Mega Man X from the music, stage design, and the mavericks that you fight against. I also have to thank this game for giving me the X in my user name.

There is a lot that I can say about this game since it is a perfect game in my opinion. The classic Mega Man formula is there with finding enemy weaknesses to help you greatly in their fight. What Mega Man X does differently however is having the stages be affected by ones that you complete. The lava in Flame Mammoth’s stage giving you trouble? Defeat Chill Penguin first and his stage gets frozen over in the process; making the stage easier. Defeating Storm Eagle before tackling Spark Mandrill will get rid of the electric sparks that come from the floor, but it will turn the lights off in some rooms; so it is a double edge sword in those regards. This can make for some fun replayability if you want to fight a Maverick with their stage intake or not.

The power-ups for X are great as well, even though at a young age I only got the feet and helmet upgrades. Each upgrade gives X an new ability. The feet upgrade gives him a dash which should always be the first thing you get when starting this game. The body upgrade reduces damage you can take, and the helmet can break obstacles above you. The Mega Buster upgrade that you can get by finding it or from Zero can charge your regular shot to a third level, and charge up your secondary weapons for cool new effects. You can also get a one shot Hadouken attack that make refighting the bosses a joke at times.

I enjoy watching speedruns of this game since it is easy to follow and see how other people play the game. It is one of those games that never gets boring no matter how many times you play it. Me placing it this “low” on my list doesn’t mean that the other games are better than this. It just means that at this time, this is where I would stick this game on my list. This is the oldest game on my list, and the fact that it still has a strong impression on me says a lot.

6. Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3

Back in 2014, I purchased my first PS3. The first game that I got for the system was Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3, and I never regretted that decision. The only exposure that I had to this game was playing it with a friend one day and finishing the campaign in one sitting. This was my first introduction to a musou game and I quickly learned that I am a fan of the genre. The Mobile Suit Gundam ascetic helped with that (and I’m still haven’t watched the full series).

Musou games are simple. You just plow through hordes of enemies and complete your objective. Some strategy is needed when you have to determine which areas to conquer to give yourself an advantage or to get rid of powerful enemies. There is also some challenge if you play it on the hardest difficulty where all of a sudden you feel like one of the papercraft enemies against general units. This simple repetitive motion of mowing down enemies left and right might sound boring to most, but I find it relaxing and a good way to get my stress out.

I was on the path of completing all the missions and getting the platinum trophy for this game, but my data got erased when my first PS3 died on me. It was a devastating lost for me and I have yet to go back and finish everything again. This doesn’t mean that I’m bored with the game. When I first did it, I was living at home with not much to do with my days not working, so playing this game for hours helped with passing the time and distracting my brain of worries. Maybe since I’m done with school for good, I can revisit and lose myself in the heaps of scrap metal again.

5. Pokémon HeartGold/SoulSilver

In my opinion, this is where the Pokémon series peeked. This was an amazing remake of Pokémon Gold and Silver on the Gameboy. Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver showed how massive a Pokémon game could be with everything from the original game plus tons of additional content to keep trainers busy for a long time. I choose SoulSilver when it came out since I was the one with the Silver version when it came out.

New features in this version included the additional story and content from Pokémon Crystal with Eugene’s quest to find Suicune, choosing between playing male or female, and more to do with the Ruins of Alpha. Surprise features included the Pokéathlon (a mini game contest area), the ability to rechallenge gym leaders on certain days, a new battle frontier, the return of the Safari Zone, and the best feature ever, having your Pokémon follow behind you. This feature isn’t locked behind a certain area or restricted to certain Pokémon, all Pokémon available in the game can follow you everywhere. If you bought the game when it came out, you also got a pedometer called the Pokéwalker included. It was a really neat pedometer that you could transfer one of your Pokémon to and walk around with them to level up, grow affection, and get neat rewards for walking around. Sadly mine meet its fate with the washing machine one day.

I could talk all day about how these versions felt like the definitive Pokémon game that people wanted for forever. The improve visuals and changes to the battle mechanics made for great battles and customizations of teams. Daily events made replaying the game fun since certain things only happened on that day. Each gym leader’s gym got some redesigns that made going through their gym interesting with their specific themes. The only downside to some of the content is that it is locked behind special items that you could only get during special events (like the Celebi event). You could trigger these events with hacking tools, but aren’t necessary unless you really want to see those events.

For me, no other Pokémon games can top these. I find myself constantly revisiting this version since I just have so much fun with it. Pokémon Silver was an important game for me when I first got it back in 2000, so having this remake brought back good memories and quality of life improvements that made this the definitive version to play. I’m not going to say Game Freak is lazy these days or incapable of creating new games in the series like this. Games need to innovate and create new things to avoid being the same concept with a different coat of paint. I’m happy that each version of Pokémon is something different so that I can go back and replay the older titles if I want to experience it again. All I am saying is that I would love for a future game to go as hard as this version did just to test my love for this game.

4. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

“What is a man? A miserable little pile of secrets.” I first heard this line of dialogue just five years ago and I became hooked. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night came out in 1997, but it wasn’t until 2016 that I was able to play it. I was hooked on this game from beginning to end and was left wanting more after I finished it. The gameplay, visuals, music, and design all felt cozy and left me feeling sad that I didn’t have the opportunity to play it earlier in my life.

Symphony of the Night was the first Castlevania game to fall into the Metroidvania format. You explored Dracula’s castle from top to bottom and you would return to areas one you found powerups to help you travers the castle further. What makes Castlevania different from Metroid is the RPG element of the game. Alucard is able to level up and equip weapons and armor to help boost his stats to help him in each area of the castle. You are also able to learn spells and acquire familiars to help you along the journey. I think this is why I preferred SOTN over 2D Metroid titles since I can change up my playstyle just a little bit to make playthroughs interesting each time.

Despite loving this game, I have never 100% completed the game. I’ve never finished the Richter playthrough despite that being a whole new experience. I think I just like playing as Alucard since I have more options available to use than Richter. Nevertheless, I just love playing through this game whenever I’m in the mood to do so.

3. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

What I have come to learn is that your first Monster Hunter game is usually your favorite. Monster Hunter World introduced a lot of new players to the franchise, and will probably go down as one of everyone’s favorite in the series. Old school players will praise Monster Hunter Freedom Unite as one of the best Monster Hunter experiences out there. I’m not one of them. I was introduced to Monster Hunter with Monster Hunter Tri, but Tri is not my favorite Monster Hunter (for various reasons). My favorite (so far) is Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate.

Why 4U? A number of personal reasons. Monster Hunter games are not renowned for their story, but I enjoyed the story in this game. The idea of becoming the hunter for this small caravan and traveling to different locations was fun and different from just being a village monster hunter. Every new character you picked up on the caravan offered a new service for you to use like mending, crafting decorations, and cooking. It just felt like a tall of a wondering caravan who would go to places and help resolve monster issues before returning to the guild headquarters. I just enjoyed that.

Besides the story, I really enjoyed all the monsters that you fought. The Gore Magala was an interesting monster that rewarded you for being aggressive and punished you for being too cautious. Monsters affected by the Gore Magala’s virus were fun aggressive variants of themselves, and it could affect all monsters in the game. Of course there were other great monsters in this game like the Dalamadur (a snake like monster that you fought on a platform), the Seregios (a wyvern that cuts you), and the Gogmazios (an elder dragon covered in oil and a dragonator). The Gogmazios fight in particular is tied to one of my best memories in gaming that I really need to write down one day.

Outside of that, this title was the first Monster Hunter game that I really got to play with others frequently. I managed to have a group of four friends that would meet up and play through the G rank missions in the game. Sitting around and hunting together in the same room is a complete different experience than just playing online alone in the room. The sense of comradery of helping each other and celebrating together after a successful hunt is an aspect that I miss and wish I could experience more. Monster Hunter Rise on the Switch could itch that feeling, but I don’t have many people around me anymore to meet up and play together.

I also miss the fun and creative weapons, armor, and quest that were in this game. In my opinion, 4U had some of the best armor designs that felt creative. There were a lot of collaborative events in the game with Universal Studios Japan (USJ) that came with different armor and weapons that looked silly, but added charm to the series. There were also Nintendo dlc where you could costumes and weapons from Mario, Zelda, and Metroid. I will never forget doing the Three Virtues quest to get the Link armor set and weapons. While armor layering didn’t exist back then, you could add a rainbow color changing setting for your armor that was really cool.

I don’t know if Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate will continue to be my favorite in the series if the gameplay continues to evolve with every title. But the pure sense of enjoyment and how much of a badass that I felt while playing the game will never leave me and always hold this game fondly. I once considered this game as my favorite game of all time, but I have since scaled it back down.

2. Persona 4 Golden

Have you ever played a game that really resonated with you in a way that helped you understand yourself better? For me, Persona 4 helped me realize who I was and to never pretend to be someone I’m not. That is the theme of Persona 4. Pursuing your true self.

If you haven’t played Persona 4 (PLAY IT!), you follow a bunch of high school students as they try to solve a murder mystery taking place in their town. Most of the playable characters find themselves a victim of the killer, who kills their targets by placing them in the TV world. In the TV world, the person is confronted by a part of them that they try to hide from others. This could be a crazy wild side that you don’t want people to see or denying a part of you that makes you “you.” Regardless, if they are unable to come to terms with this part of them, they are killed by their shadow. Accepting your shadow grants you the power of a Persona, your true self and source of power to fight the shadows.

Each Persona game has its own personal theme to the story. Persona 3 is all about accepting the cycle of life and death and not being afraid to live life. Persona 5 is all about rebelling against your nature and how society expects you to act and behave. Persona 4‘s theme of accepting who you are is a deep one that I hold tightly. In the past, I was that kid who was ashamed of the way I looked, talked, acted, and sharing the interest I had. I was (and still a bit to this day) a mute who was afraid to share anything about myself out of fear of being judged by others. Now, I am confident in my individuality and never doubt myself about who I am. Persona 4 didn’t fix that for me, but it did make me realize that I need to have confidence in being true to myself.

I choose Person 4 Golden on my list because it is the best version of the game. The dungeons and presentation may not hold a candle to Persona 5, but the story and characters are what keep me coming back to it. This is another one of those games that I really love, but have not 100% done everything. I completely skipped the Marie content in Golden and meant to play a second time to get everything. The best thing about Persona 4 Golden is that you no longer have to find a PlayStation Vita to play it! It came out on Steam last year and runs pretty good from what I’ve seen (yes I immediately bought it when it released and have yet to touch it). It may not be the flashes game in the series, but it is my personal favorite and has a great story to it.

1. Tales of Symphonia

I had to really ask myself if this was my favorite game of all time. The answer that I gave to myself was “of course.” Tales of Symphonia is my gold standard when it comes to JRPGs. An amazing story, great characters and development, a fun combat system, and events that keep you guessing what’s next. It may seem like a game that follows tropes that we are familiar to these days, but playing it when I first could back in 2007/2008 (around that time), I was surprise of how well made of a game this was.

Tales of Symphonia follows the story of Lloyd Irving as he helps his friend Colette on her journey to bring salvation to the world. Things don’t pan out well once Lloyd finds out what Colette has to sacrifice in order to complete this task. What comes next is a tale of learning the truth behind the journey of salvation, enemies becoming friends, friends becoming enemies, traveling between worlds, plot twists coming out of every left field, and a social commentary about racism, the rich vs. the poor, and trying to help someone who has lost their way. I wasn’t expecting all of these elements to be covered in a sixty hour game, but Symphonia tackles all of its themes and produces a well written story that is entertaining and somber.

My brain is a little scattered on the order of Tales games that I played, but I think Phantasia was my first, then Legendia, then Symphonia. Phantasia on the GBA is a mess, and Legendia had its ups and downs (the music if phenomenal though). Symphonia took my issues from those games and gave me a game that I had little to no complaints about. The action combat in this game feels perfect to the point where I’m not lost in the dazzle of the visuals, but never bored watching the techniques and spells on the field. The party composition also matters since they cannot be changed during battle and require a little though about who to bring in. An argument that some characters feel like a waste (like Persea and Regal), but I feel like their inclusion helps with the balance of physical attackers and magic users (something I feel earlier Tales game disregard). Speaking of which, I love using the magic users like Genis and Raine when playing multiplayer since I just get to sit in the back and not fight the camera to focus on me.

I don’t really know what else to say about this game. Unlike other games on this list where I haven’t finished everything, I believe that I have done everything in this game (maybe minus the coliseum). I just never have a bad time playing this game and could possibly be content just playing this for the rest of my life. It is a game that I can always go back to and just try new things to change up my play session. The battle dialogue will never get old for me (Pancake time! Stalagmite!) The last time I played it I just learned how to use union attacks effectively and I realized how big of a mechanic I had been missing. It is just one of those games that I find fun to play and never disappoints,

What was disappointing was Tales of Symphony: Dawn of the New World which was…..eh.


So that is my current list as of June 18, 2021. Will my list change over the years? Probably since there were other games that made it on my list before. Making a list like this is not easy since I enjoy most of the games I play, and they each offer a different experience from one another. The same would happen if I made a list of games that I absolutely hate playing. To end this massive post, I would like to say that your favorite games don’t have to be one’s that are critically praised or the “best games ever made.” Your favorite games should be the ones you enjoy the most and have value to you. Forget what other people may say about your opinions, because at the end of the day opinions are just that.

Thank you for reading! Go out and play your favorite video games. And I will see ya when I get back from my vacation.

DanamesX

2021 Lightning Prediction Round (Anniversary Edition)

Last year I wrote a post with my wild ideas and predictions of what I would be playing in 2020. Out of the 13 games that I mentioned I have played 3, own one that I haven’t played yet, didn’t pick up one of them, will be playing two this year, and still dreaming about the rest. I wanted to come up with another post similar with my wild ideas, but didn’t know where to start. Lucky for me, there are a butt ton of anniversaries this year. So I want to do a sort of “lightning round” event where I come up with a realistic idea on what we could get, and then a fantasy that would be cool to see. If any of these things do come true, you heard it hear first!

Anniversary Lightning Round

Donkey Kong (40 Years)

Realistic: I’m not sure. Nintendo has kinda let Donkey Kong do his own thing Mario spinoff games outside the Country series. If we do get anything, it will be a surprise to me. Maybe a Game & Watch with the original Donkey Kong on it.

Fantasy: Funky Kong mode enable for all of 2021.


The Legend of Zelda (35 Years)


Realistic: Nintendo is going to try to push out Breath of the Wild 2 this year. I have no doubt we will get it this year (maybe).

Fantasy: A situation like the Mario 3D All-Stars, but it has the GameCube versions of Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Four Swords. Bonus points for me if an Oracle Duology ever happens.


Metroid (35 Years)

Realistic: Eh… A lot of people are hoping for Metroid Prime Trilogy on Switch to keep them fed until Prime 4 comes out, but I’m in the kiddie pool on this for now.

Fantasy: Metroid Prime Trilogy for Switch OR Metroid Prime Pinball DX


Dragon Quest (35 Years)

Realistic: They just finished porting XI to all consoles. Unless they can put it on smartphones, I don’t think Square will do much.

Fantasy: DQ9 on Switch and PS4/5 wouldn’t be a bad deal (do NOT do it dirty like you did with Crystal Chronicles)


Castlevania (35 Years)

Realistic: I would make a joke, but Konami has released the older game to current gen consoles. That alone is a miracle no one saw coming.

Fantasy: You know what hasn’t been rereleased though? The N64 games. Do it you cowards!


Kid Icarus (35 Years)

Realistic: There haven’t been any news or rumors about a new Kid Icarus. Don’t hold your breath for anything.

Fantasy: If there is a new Kid Icarus game then it will be a surprise for all. I still need to play Uprising at some point.


Sonic the Hedgehog (30 Years)

Realistic: Sega has reassured us that Sonic’s 30th will have a lot for the blue blur. Sega has been pretty good at listening to their player base and delivering games that they want to play with mixed results. Expect a new 3D game and maybe that Adventure remake.

Fantasy: Look. All I want is Generations 2 with at least 2-3 stages from each mainline game. I will eat that for breakfast everyday.


F-Zero (30 Years)

Realistic: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

Fantasy: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH


Civilization (30 Years)

Realistic: Firaxis already has a road map currently for Civ 6. We might get another cool attempt of a spinoff like Beyond Earth, but I don’t see that happening.

Fantasy: Speaking of fantasy, how cool would a fantasy civilization game be? You can pick a different fantasy race with special perks and everything. If this game already exists, please let me know.


Pokémon (25 Years)

Realistic: The Pokemon Company is already on the move with their announcements. There was a trailer for the 25th anniversary as well as a trailer and release date for New Pokemon Snap. I’m sure they have a lot more in store for the rest of the year. On a side note, it is also the 15th anniversary of Diamond & Pearl, so get your expectation hats on.

Fantasy: If I could ask for one thing, it would probably be a new Pokemon Pinball game or rerelease. Those games rule!


Resident Evil (25 Years)

Realistic: Resident Evil 8 is coming out this year. Outside of that will be a treat for fans.

Fantasy: A Resident Evil game from the perspective of a mutant. Instead of fighting, you have to avoid people trying to kill you while you try and find a cure for yourself. Along the way silly things happen to make you evolve and more of a threat to the people hunting you. Done right, it could be better than all the multiplayer games they’ve tried.


Crash Bandicoot (25 Years)

Realistic: Crash seems to have been fully revived now. We just got Crash 4 last year, so maybe some DLC will come to say that they did something.

Fantasy: Crash, Mario, and Sonic at Wrestlemania (Shut up. I know you would play it)


Persona (25 Years)

Realistic: Atlus shocked us with Persona 5 for their 20th anniversary. It feels too soon for a Persona 6 since they are not done yet milking all they can from 5. The rest of the world is getting Persona 5 Strikers, but sadly that is nothing new. Atlus has said that they are working on something, so we will see.

Fantasy: Bring Persona 1-3 to PC. I’ll buy them like 4 Golden and then not play it, but I’ll buy it!


Super Mario RPG (25 Years)

Realistic: See F-Zero

Fantasy: Mallow for Smash


Tomb Raider (25 Years)

Realistic: It has been some time since Lara’s last adventure in 2018’s Shadow of the Tomb Raider. I have no clue what’s in store for the capable adventurer, but an adventure in 2021 may be unwise due to the pandemic.

Fantasy: A point and click adventure style Tomb Raider game. It may not be what the core audience wants, but I think it would be a nice change of pace until the next blockbuster hit.


Nintendo 64 (25 Years)

Realistic: Nothing. If Nintendo did anything it would come as a surprise for both us and them.

Fantasy: A N64 mini or start releasing N64 games on the Switch Online Service. As long as it has Star Fox 64 I’m good.


Halo (20 Years)

Realistic: Halo Infinite would have been nice, but the title also indicates how long you will have to wait for it. The Master Chief Collection was completed last year, so if anything you may see rereleases on the Xbox Series X.

Fantasy: Halo Battle Royal (Shut up. You would play it)


Devil May Cry (20 Years)

Realistic: Nothing foreseeable. DMC V was recently ported to PS5, so nothing special that I can tell.

Fantasy: DMC X Resident Evil. DMC started off as a Resident Evil game, so bring back the concept and see what happens.


Advance Wars (20 Years)

Realistic: Why do I hurt myself so much? War never ends, but Advance Wars ended in 2008 and it would take discovering oil in Switch games to bring it back.

Fantasy: At least Advance Wars 1, 2, & Dual Strike collection….


Golden Sun (20 Years)

Realistic: On the subject of pain. 

Fantasy: Filling in the cliffhanger from Dark Dawn. I will take anything at this point. A sticky note from the director with how the series ends will be enough closure for me.


Wii Sports (15 Years)

Realistic: Nothing. You can’t even play real sports outside right now, so why pretend to do it virtual.

Fantasy: Switch Sports. Why is this not a thing?


The Elder Scrolls IV and V (15 & 10 Years)

Realistic: It will be the end of an era if Skyrim was not on PS5 or XBSX (it pretty much already is). Elder Scrolls online is getting Oblivion gates added so that is neat.

Fantasy: The official Todd Howard mod update. He just turns everything into Skyrim. Oblivion HD would also be pretty neat.


Bastion (10 Years)

Realistic: Supergiant’s first debut game was my first indie love. The world and gameplay was so interesting to me that I wanted to try and complete everything. It has shown its age lately since playing Hades. I don’t expect Supergiant to do anything for the game, but any surprises would be nice.

Fantasy: When playing Bastion recently, I found that the game is still great, but could benefit with some improvements. An anniversary edition of Bastion could speed the game up a little bit and improve some of the weapon’s speed. My only real request in an enhanced edition, but if they found other things to add to it I would be gracious for it.


Dark Souls (10 Years)

Realistic: We just got a remastered version of Demon’s Soul. What more do we want? From Software is probably hard at work with Elden Ring that anything new to the franchise will come years later.

Fantasy: A version of Dark Souls 1 that plays like Dark Souls 3.


Overwatch (5 Years)

Realistic: The yearly anniversary event might be interesting this year. Until Overwatch 2 comes out, I don’t think any more interesting content will be coming out like new heroes or game modes.

Fantasy: Overwatch 2 is actually done and they release it this year.


Stardew Valley (5 Years)

Realistic: Stardew Valley still amazes me to this day. Version 1.5 was released on PC recently and console players will get it later this year. It has been a while since I finished it, so maybe it will be the perfect relaxation tool I need in the future.

Fantasy: This game does not require any fantasy ideas from me. It has delivered what I want in a farming simulation game and it continues to deliver.


Whew. That was a long strike of lighting.

Please don’t get mad at me if none of these wild predictions come true. Blame yourself for giving into false hype. Keep your expectations low and keep an open mind to experience new things. If any of these do come true, then I take full credit and your heard it here first! If there are other anniversaries happening this year that I did not cover, you can leave a comment and I’ll give my opinions there.

Now if you excuse me, I have to go back to counting the days without a Nintendo Direct.

Thanks for reading,

DanamesX