It's Summer! And it has been for a while, so that's really not news but it does mean that there are little-to-nil games coming out each week. That in-turn means that we're hitting our gaming backlogs like Batman hits the Joker. Hard. Over the next few weeks we'll be spending sometime talking about our egregiously large backlogs and letting you know whether or not what we're playing is any good. Today's titles include The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, and Demon's Souls.
I hate my pile of shame because it’s more or less a vicious circle. My pile of shame grows because I buy new games, but then I play my pile of shame instead of the new game. So take one game out of the pile, and plop another one back on. It’s exactly one step forward and one step back- so it’s not a huge surprise that my list goes all the way back to the Nintendo 64. It’s become so daunting that I just plop in an old favorite instead, glance sadly at the names on my shelf, and go back to a familiar world instead of delving back into games I know I already love and just need to actually PLAY.
Metroid Prime Trilogy
This one is especially daunting because it’s 3 games in one. A discful of one of the best trilogies in recent years, full of well-realized, expansive environments, extensive collectibles that actually influence gameplay, and about a million creatures and environments to scan. Oh man… the scanning…
What? Huh? Oh, sorry, I was just thinking about scanning stuff. Aside from the fact that it’s a whole trilogy, though, one of the worst things about this is that I actually did get a good portion of the way through Metroid Prime on the Gamecube, but I don’t know where that save is, so I have to restart from scratch. I don’t wish this pain on even the worst of my enemies.
There are some games that I don’t actually play; I just restart them. Such is the sad case of Viewtiful Joe, which I have restarted so many times I might have a world record waiting for me. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the game- I very much do -it’s just that when I start playing, I always get interrupted by another game in some way, and when I come back later, I’ve forgotten the controls and powers. Oh well, nothing to do but restart again! And again! And again! I swear, there are probably grooves on the disc from the laser constantly etching the same pattern. Being such a fan of Clover, and their eventual rebirth as Platinum Games, I feel like I need to finish this soon- or else how can I be a true fan?
Not counting the unfortunately unforgettable Phillips CD-I Zelda games, there are only 2 console Zelda games I haven’t beaten. Adventure of Link I just never had- but Majora’s Mask at some point just feels like fate doesn’t want me to play it. This started when my sister lent our copy to a friend- our gold-cartridge, lenticular label copy -who then proceeded to move to Germany and take the game with her. Since then, I’ve had the game in various versions, but in none of those have I ever gotten past the second the temple. Yet Majora’s Mask still fascinates me so much, with its weird meditations on time and the nature of fate, that I have to complete it- and that Fierce Deity mask is too awesome for me to never use it.
I always use the summer as a backlog-clearing season. I try and keep my pile of games as manageable as I can, but when you combine the mountain of PC games I own that I got for next to nothing on Steam, the crazy amount of cheap 360 games I got for cheap when GAME went into administration and the 3DS that I don’t play nearly enough... My time has to be spent wisely.
Assassins Creed: Brotherhood
Since the Assassins Creed series went into yearly updates, I figured I’d save a lot of money if I just held off for a year before playing each one. My plan worked, as I bought Brotherhood for seven pounds last month. It’s not a bad game, but the age of the series’ engine is beginning to show. There’s too many “follow person x” missions and the free-running doesn’t feel as flowing and unique as it did back in 2007. Still, there’s not much else like it out there, and Ezio is a great character so I’m sticking with it.
Final Fantasy IV
I have a bit of a confession to make. I’ve only ever played two FF games to completion (IX and X). However, I’ve managed to gain a nostalgic appreciation for the series nevertheless. I wanted to get Theatrythm for the 3DS, but I realised that I’d enjoy it far more if I actually knew some of the music beforehand. So here we are, I’m playing every FF game from IV until IX. The fourth game is great, and after what has been a pretty lackluster generation for JRPGs in my opinion, going back to the old school feels delightfully refreshing.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
I started playing this to satisfy my Silent Hill craving whilst I wait for the HD Collection to be un-ruined. I didn’t expect it to be much good - who expects such crazy things of that series these days - but I was incredibly surprised. It seems like that game was made by people who understand both how to make a horror game and how to make a Silent Hill game. The only downside is that I’m playing on PSP so I come away from it with hands like an 80-year old slapsies champion.
I’ve always hated the summer. It’s too damn hot and the only useful means of keeping myself cool usually results in an upsettingly large electric bill. Summers also happen to be the one time of the year where there are no new and exciting games to play. Thankfully, my terrible habit of buying games and never playing them has come to the rescue!
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
I felt bad that this game had taken a backseat to Old Republic and now that I’m enjoying a sabbatical from the MMO, I figured now was the perfect opportunity to play through the main campaign. And when I say “play through,” I really mean “blitz through to get the main plot out of the way and focus on the more interesting secondary content.” Since I’ve been playing the game on PC, I’m really enjoying the ingenuity and creativeness the modding community has to offer (side note: Steam Workshop is positively brilliant). Right now I’ve got realistic forest sounds, better fire effects, additional weather patterns (nighttime is considerably darker) and I’ve picked up a mod that lets me design and build my own house.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Last year’s GOTY pick for me, I wanted to go back and pick up where I left off. The problem with that was a) I had forgotten where I was in the story, b) I had no clue where I was going and c) after a few minutes of play, I stumbled onto another terrible boss fight. After three failed attempts, I seriously contemplated tracking down some cheat codes/trainers because really, those fights are absolutely terrible.
After helping a customer free a Blu-Ray disc from a machine, I felt empowered to do the same for my Demon’s Souls disc that had gotten stuck in my launch PS3 after it gave up the ghost. Now that Atlus has kept the servers on for awhile, I really wanted to make an effort to complete it once and for all. The skills I picked in Dark Souls have made me better prepared for the game than my first outing and have settled back into it nicely. I’m reminded of why I enjoyed the game despite the crushing difficulty. It such a rewarding experience!
Well that does it for our first installment of the backlog. Comeback next week for Part 2, where we talk about such games as S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Saints Row The Third (yay!). But in the meantime, what's taking up your free time in the these dry summer months? As always, leave you comments below.
Jonathan is the host of the DarkCast, DarkCast Interviews, and Gamers Read. He loves books, video games, and superheroes. If he had to pick favorites, they would be Welcome to the Monkey House, Mass Effect, and Superman respectively.