Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Weekly Top 5: Most Anticipated Games of 2015

The title of this Top 5 is pretty self explanatory. A lot of DToiders have been writing similar blogs, so I figured I would jump on the bandwagon. Here are the 5 games scheduled for release in 2015 that I'm most looking forward to.

Honorable Mention: Ori and the Blind Forest

The only reason this game missed the top 5 is because it's not going to be released on a console that I currently have, so it's not a guarantee I'll have a chance to play it in the year 2015. I love me some metroidvania games, and not only is this game absolutely gorgeous, but Moon Studios has stated there's a very heavy emphasis on platforming, which is the reason I loved Guacamelee so much. Yes, the combat was great, but those platforming puzzle sections were what I loved most about it. Hopefully Ori does something similar.

5. Hyper Light Drifter

I got an opportunity to play Hyper Light Drifter at Pax East last year. It originally wasn't on my radar, but a buddy told me I should check it out if it were there. It was, and even though I sucked at the game, I still had an immense amount of fun. Any game that has a retro art style will grab my attention, then throw in the fact that it's an action-RPG inspired by SNES classics, and you've pretty much got me throwing my money at you.

When the game makes its way to the PlayStation 4 next year, it'll be a day one purchase for sure, and hopefully that'll also grant me the Vita version, because Hyper Light Drifter seems like a perfect handheld title.

4. Splatoon

Any time Nintendo comes out with a new IP (which doesn't happen very often these days) I immediately want to know more about it. If there's one thing that I know from the 26 years of my life I've spent playing videogames, it's that I can trust Nintendo. Even if it's not the big budget title that we all think of when we hear the term "triple-A", at the very least I know it'll be a solid game, it'll control well, and it'll work when I open it pretty much the exact opposite of most triple-A games these days.

I actively avoid competitive multiplayer in most games, and I could see myself getting really into Splatoon's multiplayer when it comes out. I love the way the game looks, it's wacky and fully of vibrant colors you don't see very often. This is definitely a game most Wii U owners should perk their ears about.

3. Resident Evil Revelations 2

I think the original Revelations is the best Resident Evil game since RE4, so why wouldn't I be excited for this one? I'm not entirely sold on the episodic structure, but at least they're planning to release one episode a week until the game is completed, with a full version coming shortly thereafter. I'll likely opt for the full retail version rather than digital episodes, I prefer physical discs and I'm a pretty patient man.

It's also good to see Claire Redfield in her first new Resident Evil game in 15 years, as well as possibly getting an appearance from fan favorite, Barry Burton, as Claire's partner is Barry's daughter, Moira (Barry Burton is good at naming his guns, not his children). Revelations was a return to form for the Resident Evil series, and after the poop stain on the series that was Resident Evil 6, I'm hoping this sequel puts the series back on the right path, and from what I've seen thus far, it appears it will do just that.

2. Yoshi's Woolly World

Dawwwwwwwww. How can you look at that and not instantly be filled with happiness? The greatest sidekick in gaming gets the Epic Yarn treatment and it looks like the purest form of joy that videogames have ever seen. Granted, I'm a self-admitted Nintendo fanboy (see Splatoon above), but I think most Wii U owners would agree that this looks like a must-play game for the system.

I was never a huge fan of Yoshi's Island, and I'm yet to play the 3DS sequel, but based on trailers and screenshots it looks like it plays like a traditional Yoshi's Island minus the crying Baby Mario, which admittedly was the main reason I never got into Yoshi's Island in the first place. I prefer platformers over any other genre, and Yoshi's Woolly World was very close to taking the top spot, but...

1. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

...that goes to the next Big Boss adventure. I know we all went through the "Cost v Length" debate earlier this year with Phantom Pain's prologue, Ground Zeroes, but it did its job and left me thoroughly psyched for Phantom Pain. Everything they've shown so far fits right in with the Metal Gear universe, meaning it's not too crazy, but still pretty crazy. I mean, why wouldn't Big Boss have a wolf with an eye patch? Makes perfect sense in a world where giant walking tanks are a thing or where a dead man's hand can take control over another human being, and those are actually pretty tame compared to the rest of the game.

I'm very interested to see the open world that began in Ground Zeroes expanded upon. Metal Gear Solid games are legendary for giving you tons of different options during battle, but the one thing they've always been lacking is the ability to approach situations from different angles. And you know Kojima is going to give you tons of toys to play around with and Easter eggs to find. The series hooked me with Metal Gear Solid back in 1998, and with the exception of one title, I've found every game since then to be a masterpiece.

I don't usually pay the full $60 for games anymore, but I'll gladly shell out even more for a special edition version of Phantom Pain on day one.

Follow me on Twitter and listen to my podcast.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Weekly Top 5: Worst Things About Being a Videogame Collector

I first began collecting videogames back in 2008. I had just gotten my Nintendo Wii, and the Virtual Console was one of the coolest things in the world at the time. Playing all of these games from my childhood caused so many memories to come rushing back to me, and it made me miss my old consoles. That's when I decided to begin collecting retro games. At the time, I had a ton of disposable income by working two jobs and having minimal bills, and prices for retro games were nowhere near what they are now. There were times I would find a seller who was starting auctions on eBay at $0.01 and would include free shipping on any additional auctions you won after the first one. I would go through their entire catalog and bid $0.01 on everything, and on more than one occasion I wound up winning 10 NES games for $4.

Those days are long gone, unfortunately. You can still find some really great deals, but not on eBay or Amazon unless you find them the moment they're listed. Because of this, I've spent the last several years growing my collection by other means. I frequent the local flea markets, scour Craigslist, make friends with local retro stores (who often give me a nice discount), and other things.

I collect with my friend Chris. We go to the flea markets together and scope out all the tables and sellers, it's better to have two sets of eyes than one. We have only a few rules: 1) If one of us doesn't already have a game that we find, it goes to that person if they want it. 2) If we both have the game (or neither one of us does), whoever spots it gets first crack at it. 3) If we come across a wholesale lot of games, we split the cost and figure out who gets what at the end of the day.

However, being a videogame collector isn't always sunshine and rainbows, it has its downsides as well.

Honorable Mention: Finding the room

My wife and I live in a moderately sized, one-floor house. It has 4 bedrooms, and my wife was cool enough to let me use two of those as game rooms, one as a retro room, and one as our current game room, where the newest systems and my nice HDTV are located. At one point in time, I was a huge collector of NECA's videogame toy lines. I pretty much bought every one I could get my hands on, even overpaying for some from online retailers. Then a certain fact became very apparent: I didn't have enough room for all of these toys. I wrestled with the idea of selling them for a long time. Then I looked and saw how much some of them were worth and it became a little easier to part with them.

I don't consider myself a hoarder by any means, but it's really hard for me to get rid of something I paid for. Then I had both a realization and a question for myself. The realization was that they were just sitting in boxes every since I got married, and the question was "Will I miss them when they're gone?" The answer was no.

But now my game shelves are starting to become very cramped, and I don't have room to put up another one, so what is a collector to do? Thanks to the years of Tetris, I find ways to fit things into certain areas and crevices, but eventually it'll be filled beyond capacity. But I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

5. Some sellers are chums with certain collectors

Flea markets have their own little communities. Chris and I see the same people every week and like to give them nicknames. There's one guy who wears the same camo outfit from head-to-toe every week, his name is "Combat Carl". There's also a collector we call "E-Cig" for his propensity for smoking electronic cigarettes all day. Then there's "Voice Box" who...has a voice box--I never said our nicknames were clever.

Because we see the same buyers every week, that means the sellers also see the same buyers every week, and some of them are in cahoots with one another. Countless times this past summer we would find someone unpacking their items and ask if they had any games, or we would start looking through their stuff, only to have them say things like "Come back in about a half hour when I have everything sorted out." Not wanting to be rude, we move along and keep a mental note to come back. Then we make our way back around only to find that all of their games have been sold.

Normally we just chalk this up to bad timing, but then we came across one gentlemen who had a box full of games under his table, but then told us they weren't for sale. We felt like something was up, so we stayed in the area and watched him sell to someone else. Sure, they may have already had a pre-existing deal, but if that's the case, why even bring them out? Very shady.

4. The guy who swoops in and buys everything

There's a guy who runs a booth at the flea market who sells DVDs and games. He's pretty cool to us, and is willing to haggle a little bit. The guy is always hustling, buying up huge collections from people. He prices everything according to VGCharts, but will knock off a couple of bucks for us.

I don't usually bring a ton of money to the flea market with me, most times I'll bring around $100. It keeps me in check and prevents me from overspending. This seller, however, apparently brings thousands of dollars with him, and is willing to pay tons of money to buy another seller out. In this particular instance, I was looking over a table full of games, grabbing any that I didn't have. They didn't have prices on any of them, which usually means that the seller either doesn't know what they're worth, or they want you to make them an offer. I found a few games worth buying and was about to ask how much they wanted before this guy walked up and offered this woman $500 for everything.

The woman had over $500 worth of stuff between the games and systems, so he still made out pretty well. I had to give up the games I was trying to buy (one of which was the original Donkey Kong Country, which I don't have for some reason) because he decided to buy everything. When I asked if we would sell the games I picked out for the same price as the nice old lady, he said he wanted to take everything in and price it up first, which is a roundabout way of saying "No." I'm sorry, as much as I love it, I'm not paying more than $5 for Donkey Kong Country.

3. The sellers who think every game is made of solid gold

Every seller does one of 3 things when it comes to prices:

1) They looked up prices online and price their games the same.

2) They choose a universal price for every game.

3) They have no idea what anything is worth and ask for a ridiculously high or low price.

Then there are several different sub-categories that fit inside of the three main ones I just listed. The one I want to talk about is the third category. There are a ton of people who have no idea how much certain games are worth, which is why I was able to snag things like Super Smash Bros. Melee and Contra Force for $5 each. I know some people may be thinking "Dustin, you ripped them off." You're darn right I did, they should have done their research, because I've done mine. If someone has a copy of Earthbound and says they only want $5 for it, I'm not going to bat an eyelash about the deal.

But then we have sellers who are the exact opposite. For these people, I imagine what happened is they saw a news story about an incredibly rare game selling for thousands of dollars and assuming that the copies of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt they have in their attic are on the same level. The most outrageous example from this past summer is someone trying to sell us a disgusting Super Nintendo with a copy of The Lion King and a couple of sports titles for around $100. They also tried to sell us just a Sega Genesis (again, one that was filthy) for $65.

Even if you manage to talk these people down, you're still going to wind up on the losing end of the transaction, so avoid them altogether.

2. The moment you realize you just missed a big score

The thrill of victory is so much greater than the agony of defeat. Unfortunately, the agony occurs more often than the ecstasy. So many times over the years I'll show up right behind another collector, only to find that the giant plastic bag they have is full of games, and I realize then that I was just a minute too late. "If I hadn't taken the time to stop by that other table I would have had those". It's very disheartening, because finding that great score can make or break the day for me.

The flea markets I go to are an hour drive away from my home, and I have to wake up at 4:30am to get there before everyone else does. I'm a morning person anyway, so that's not a problem, but taking the time to drive all the way down there only to come away empty-handed is a tough pill to swallow, and it's even tougher when you realize you were just a little too late.

1. The internal debate

Every collector will undoubtedly have that moment where they contemplate getting out of the collecting game and sell it all. I made that mistake once and regretted it terribly. I didn't get out of it completely, instead I decided to focus solely on the NES, so I sold off the rest of my collection to stock up on new NES titles. At the time I wasn't as smart about things as I am now, and wound up just taking great (and expensive) games like Earthbound, Chrono Trigger, and Secret of Mana to a local retro game shop, where I surely wound up getting screwed out of some major bank.

I'm glad it happened, actually. Now that I'm back into collecting for all systems, I know to ignore that little voice telling me to sell or trade them all away again. I know the pain of losing it all. But I'm not so attached to my collection that if some sort of emergency were to arise that I wouldn't sell it all in a heartbeat. I'm sure my collection cumulatively is more than enough to pay off my student loans, which would help me out a lot financially, but for now there's no need to panic about my bank account.

Several times I've sat there in my game room, staring at my shelves and just thinking "There's so much money in there", but there's so many memories attached to those games, as well as so many classics I've never played, that I can't just let them go just yet.

Anybody else a collector? Have any good stories? I'd love to hear them.

Thanks for reading. Follow me on Twitter and listen to my podcast.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Weekly Top 5: My Greatest Gaming Shames

You ever have those games you're ashamed to admit you've never played or finished? I have quite a few, that's why I've been on my recent backlog adventures. I've managed to get several titles off of my shame list, but it didn't do much, as there are still countless games that I need to get to. The games on this list are the most notable ones for me.

5. The only Mega Man I've beaten is Mega Man 10

I was born the same year the NES came to the United States, and since I had a brother who was a few years older than me, naturally the NES wound up being our first videogame system. I consider the NES era to be the weird pre-teen age of videogames; a little wiser than it was in its infancy, but impressionable enough to where its best days were still ahead. Despite this, the NES is still my favorite console of all-time to this very day. Growing up in this era meant that I played all the classics: Super Mario Bros. 3, Castlevania, Contra, Punch-Out, and of course, Mega Man. Notice that I used the word 'played' and not 'completed'. Because videogames were still coming into their own, there were some designs choices that would need to be altered over the years, one of which would be difficulty.

I don't mind difficult games, I've completed my fair share of them, but as a youngster, I didn't have the fortitude or patience to stick with games that were giving me an extra hard time. While Mega Man games are far from being unbeatable, they're still mighty difficult, especially the 8-bit titles. If I were to go back I'm sure I'd be able to stick it out and beat one now, I just haven't. With the releases of Mega Man 9 and 10, I had renewed vigor for the series. I wound up getting to the final stage of MM9, which I've been told is one of the hardest Mega Man games there is, but I just never got around to finishing it. Mega Man 10 came around a couple years later and I wound up beating it...on easy mode. It counts, I guess. I've tried some of the Mega Man X titles, and Mega Man Zero, but it seems that I would always get fairly far, then come to a difficult section or level and give up in favor of different games. As a kid I would just give up and go outside, but now I give up and play one of the hundreds of other games sitting in my game room. I'm sorry Mega Man, I'll get to you eventually.


I've stated before that I've never liked turn-based combat with only a few exceptions. Also, I played a lot more Sega Genesis as a youngster than I did the Super Nintendo. I wound up having both, but the Genesis had the Sega Channel, which to this day is still one of the coolest gaming services that has ever existed. Because of this, I missed out on a lot of classic SNES games. You may have noticed that 4 of the 5 games mentioned in last weeks Top 5 were SNES games, and now you know why. I didn't play Final Fantasy II/III (or IV/VI if you want to be that guy), I didn't play Chrono Trigger, I didn't play Earthbound, and the list goes on. I tried playing Chrono Trigger when it was ported to the DS and wound up making it to the Black Omen, which I'm told is pretty far into the game, but I got frustrated because I couldn't make any progress and quit the game. I don't know if perhaps I was under-leveled (screw grinding) or if there was some tactic I should have been using that would have helped, but nevertheless, I put it down and never returned.

Every game that I've mentioned in this entry is one that many people will argue for being the greatest game of all-time. I see their points, and I did enjoy the time I spent with Chrono Trigger up until I got to the Black Omen. There's a part of me that feels like less of a gamer because I haven't finished--or started--some of these games. I'm still in backlog mode, I just started Secret of Mana, so perhaps one of these other games will be the next one I tackle.

3. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Outside of a short, plump, Italian plumber, I would have to say that Metal Gear Solid is my favorite series. I've been in love with it since I first explored Shadow Moses back in 1998, and every title that has come since then has been one that I frothed over. My anticipation hasn't dwindled at all, as Phantom Pain is the only game I currently have pre-ordered and is easily my most anticipated game of 2015. The one title that I just can't get into, and shames me to this day, is Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.

Originally a PSP game, I had already traded in my PSP by the time the game was released, and it really bothered me that I didn't have a way to play the latest Metal Gear Solid. And it follows the events of Big Boss after Metal Gear Solid 3? Now I'm really bummed! It wasn't until the game was released as part of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection that I finally got my hands on it, and boy was I disappointed.

Peace Walker is much different than all other Metal Gear games. I'm not saying that just because a game is different than its predecessors that it's bad, but it's not what I wanted from a new Metal Gear Solid. To me, Metal Gear Solid has always been a single-player experience, and I didn't like the fact that playing online with others was both encouraged and necessary. I also didn't care for the base-building game-within-a-game. I only made it a handful of missions into the game before I came to a spot where I needed to blow up something that was blocking my path, but I didn't have C4. Where can I find the C4, I wondered. Well, it turns out I have to create it back at the base. The base where I don't fully understand what I'm supposed to be doing or how I'm supposed to be doing it. Eventually, I gave up.

Why couldn't there just be some C4 for me to find somewhere? Should I replay previous missions to gain more xp? Is there xp in this game? What's with this base? The only reason this game shows up on my shame list is because I'm such a big fan of the series that I feel like I need to know what's going on, and reading about a Metal Gear game is nowhere near as exciting as playing/watching it. I'm not sure if I'll ever go back to this one, so perhaps reading up on it is the only option I have.

2. N64 Classics

I only owned a Nintendo 64 for a very limited window of time before I traded it in towards a PlayStation. The only game I ever owned for it was WCW/nWo Revenge, a fantastic game for sure, but not one of the titles synonymous with the system. Because of my limited time with the N64, I completely missed out on Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, StarFox 64, Mario Kart 64, and other games with numbers in their titles.

At the time of its release, Super Mario 64 didn't interest me. I think I wasn't ready to move to the third dimension just yet. I didn't even try playing it until I first got a Wii and picked it up on the Virtual Console. I can say that I enjoyed my time with it immensely, but didn't feel compelled to finish the game. I'm a self admitted Mario fanboy. I think that little man can do no wrong, even the ones considered by many to be lackluster, like Super Mario Sunshine and New Super Mario Bros. 2, are some of my favorite games on their respective consoles.

Luckily, I've become more of a portable gamer than anything these days, and games like Ocarina and StarFox 64 have found new life on the 3DS, as well as a Majora's Mask remake in the works, so there's a good chance that this particular shame may be put to rest someday.

1. I've never finished Super Mario Bros. 2

I almost feel bad for what I just typed. I don't care what anyone says, Super Mario Bros. 2 is great. If you're one of those people who say "It's not the real Super Mario Bros. 2" then I'll kindly ask you to shut up, because the "real" SMB2--known better to us in the States as The Lost Levels--is horrible. If I had played that game as a kid, I would have been angry at Nintendo. Instead we got a Japanese game that was re-purposed and given a Mario paint job, and it was excellent. If it weren't for Super Mario Bros. 2, we wouldn't have classic Mario characters like Birdo, Bob-ombs, Pokey, and Shy Guy.

Not to mention the most terrifying enemy in videogame history.

I never owned this game as a kid, but I rented it from the local grocery store (ah, memories) more than I did any other game. Super Mario games on the NES are fairly lengthy if you forego warps, and the absence of a save feature made these games difficult for me to complete as a child. Out of all the shames I've just listed, this is the one that eats at me the most, and the one that I'm vowing to complete in the near future. This list could almost be called "Top 5 Gaming Resolutions" because I intend to beat all of these over the course of 2015, but I've had over a quarter of a century to strike this one off the list, and I haven't been able to it.

This will be fixed. This, I promise.

Don't forget you can follow me on Twitter @TheDustinThomas, and you can also listen to my podcast, we just did an episode about The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and The Last of Us.

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Weekly Top 5: Games I Can Finally Remove From My Backlog

In an era where we're bombarded with games that are worth playing on a near weekly basis, naturally, it becomes one where most of us are trying to play catch up. Unless you're Chris Carter and live in a world where days have 36 hours and weeks have 9 days, you probably don't have the time (or money) to play most new releases. Seriously, I'll never understand how that guy churns out as many reviews as he does, my hat goes off to him. Much respect, sir.

But over the past year, I've made it a point to finally get some of the monkeys off my back and whittle that backlog down a bit. These are some of the games that I've managed to eliminate from an ever-growing list.

Honorable Mention: Shadow of the Colossus

The reason this incredible game is only being mentioned as an honorable mention is because I've already written about it in a previous blog. After I had bested the 16 colossi, I finally understood why Destructoid ranked it as their top game from 2000-2010. I didn't play the game for any particular reason, it just didn't interest me when it was first released, and then I just never got around to playing it once I warmed up to it. It was released as a free title on PlayStation Plus about a year ago, along with its spiritual predecessor, Ico. I played Ico first and really, really didn't like it. Sorry, guys. I know that game has a its fair share of fans, but it just wasn't for me. SotC, on the other hand, is legitimately one of the best games I've ever played.

5. Ratchet & Clank PS2 titles

I love the Playstation 2. So much so that I ranked it as my second favorite console of all-time on my very first Weekly Top 5 list. But for the majority of the time I owned a PS2, I was either unemployed or only making a minute wage at a part time job, so buying a new game was usually a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of affair. Oftentimes I would buy games used, and one of the games I bought was the original Jak and Daxter. I loved that game, and the sequels as well. The PS2 had its fair share of cartoony-action-buddy-comedies (which should be a actual genre at this point), and I thought the Jak series, the Sly Cooper series, and Ratchet & Clank would all be too similar to one another, so once I played Jak, I never went back.

My first exposure to Ratchet wasn't until the second PS3 title, A Crack in Time, which is one of the best games on the console. Because I loved it so much, I went back and played the Ratchet & Clank HD Collection when it was on sale on PS Plus for $7.50 last holiday season. I went through and played them in their original order. It was obvious from the start how they improved the series, as the first game did not give me the option invert the x-axis, so I was constantly thrown off. Then, when I played the sequel, Going Commando, the x-axis was reversed to the way that I normally play, but it took me a long time to figure out if that were the case or not.

Anyway, if you do what I did and play the PS3 games before you play the original PS2 titles, I would actually suggest not going back to them unless you just really want to know how the series started. That's why I did it, and I'm ultimately glad that I did, but the Future series is so much better that going back might disappoint you.

4. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

I've never been a fan of the turn-based style of combat. It's the reason I've never been able to finish classics like Chrono Trigger and numerous Final Fantasy titles. In my life, I've only completed five, and four of them have "Mario" in the title. I fell in love with the Mario & Luigi series of RPGs, I'm not sure why, but I would imagine it's likely due to the fact that a) it's Mario, and b) they're fairly simple. I've owned a copy of Super Mario RPG for years, I just never got around to playing it, and when it was originally released, I had already converted to the Genesis because of the Sega Channel, so the years went by without me giving this classic game a go.

When I sat down and thought about some of the games that I wanted to conquer, Super Mario RPG was right near the top of that list. I thought about how much I love Mario & Luigi, and wanted to see where it all started. Granted, the Mario & Luigi games are a completely different series, but it was a great look at just how much fun can be had by Nintendo with their beloved franchise.

It's not a difficult game, nor is it long unless you want to level up your characters, but I never found myself having to grind. I did find a few boss battles giving me some trouble, but once I developed an effective strategy (which usually just meant setting aside one character in my party to be strictly a healer) I made short work of them. If you've played a Mario & Luigi game, it's no surprise to discover that this game has a great sense of humor. I had a few minor annoyances, but nothing worth noting. If I had played this game when it was released, perhaps it would have motivated me to play more RPGs as a kid.

3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past and A Link Between Worlds

A ways back, I wrote a blog detailing one of the greatest shames in my gaming life: I had never finished a Legend of Zelda game. The games themselves just didn't interest me as a kid, and throughout the years I tried to play a few, but never felt compelled to finish them. That being said, I've always had an interest in the Legend of Zelda's lore, and I love reading and watching new things about the world of Hyrule. The one game I tried the most to play was A Link to the Past. I first tried it a few years ago, but wound up getting stuck and putting it away. But I knew I couldn't go through my life without finishing a Zelda title, so when A Link Between Worlds was released on the 3DS last year, I borrowed it from a friend and told myself I was finishing this game even if it meant having to keep a guide in front of me.

I didn't need to do that though, as A Link Between Worlds isn't as opaque as previous entries. Some people didn't like the renting system the game introduced, but for people like me who were basically new to the franchise, being able to rent items and tackle the dungeons any way I see fit was a Godsend. The only problem with this is that the first dungeon I went to was also the hardest one, so I saw the "Game Over" screen more than my fair share of times. Still, once I was able to best that dungeon, the rest of the game was fairly easy. I was already familiar with the basic structure of Hyrule from my short time with Link to the Past, so knowing where to go or how to get there was never too much of a problem. I finished the game far from 100% completion--I didn't even get some of the more basic items like the Pegasus Boots--but it still turned out to be some of the most fun I've had on my 3DS.

Then I decided I wanted to pull a Tarantino and play this particular sequence in the Zelda timeline out of order and played A Link to the Past afterwards. Upon completion, I finally understood why Zelda had always been held in such high regard by my friends, Link to the Past in particular. It truly is a masterful game, and if I had played it back in the day, it's safe to say it would been a surefire contender for one of my favorite games on the SNES. I won't lie, I had a YouTube playthrough open during some sections in an effort to save time and sanity. Yeah, it's cheating, but I'm a fairly busy dude and have lots of other games I would like to get to, so I watched a walkthrough, sue me. It didn't take away any of the enjoyment. In fact, it probably caused me to have more fun than if I had tried to figure it out on my own, because there were several sections where I sat there and realized that I never could have figured out its particular trick.

Playing these games in reverse order was kind of interesting. I was able to play Link to the Past and say "Hey, they kept that in the sequel" or "Oh, so that was originally a Link to the Past boss" and so on. I suppose my next step is to complete a 3D Zelda game now. I'm thinking Wind Waker since it's the one I've always had the most interest in.

2. Super Castlevania IV

I mentioned this in my Top Castlevania Games list a couple of weeks ago. It really is amazing to me that I never played Super Castlevania IV as a young tyke, because I loved the NES games and this was a very early SNES title, so it was certainly around when I had a Super Nintendo. But I was never privy to when and what games were being released, so it's safe to assume that I just plum didn't know about it.

Throughout the years my love for the series only grew greater, and this became more and more of a blemish on my backlog. As the Halloween season approached, my Castlevania fire began to burn as it does every year, and I knew this game had to finally be completed. I had originally tried playing it when I first got my Wii and purchased it on the Virtual Console, but for whatever reason I just never finished it. When I decided to play through my backlog, I knew I wanted to play the games on their native systems, and with the exception of Shadow of the Colossus the Ratchet & Clank games (HD versions on my PS3), every other game on the list was played on its original console. I don't decry emulation, but being a collector, I figured if I have the games and systems, I should just do it that way.

Some people herald Super Castlevania IV as the be-all and end-all of Castlevania series, but man, that's just not true. It's a fantastic game, no doubt about it, and such an improvement over the NES titles, but let's not kid ourselves. I wouldn't even rank it as the best linear Castlevania game. As much as I enjoyed it, I can't help but feel like this is one of those games that's clouded by nostalgia in the minds of those who champion it the most. It plays well, it sounds great, it's not too long and not too short, it offers a decent challenge, and much like the Zelda games, it was cool to see how much stuff I've seen in the more recent games that originally appeared in this one. It did a lot for the series, a huge step in the right direction, but it didn't break the mold.

1. Super Metroid

Super Metroid was at the top of my backlog list for years. It was one of the first games I picked up when I started collecting back in 2008, and it had been staring at me for six years before I finally sat down with it. I know of several writers and publications that have named it their greatest game of all-time, and since the "metroidvania" has long been one of my favorite genres, it was absolutely eating at me that I hadn't given it more time than I had.

Over the summer, my wife had to go out of town for a few days for work, and I was in a gaming drought. I didn't have a whole lot of current games that sounded interesting at the time, and I was booooooored. That's when I stepped into my retro gaming room. I didn't even have to scan the titles to find one that sounded good. I found the SNES shelf and immediately grabbed Super Metroid. I was determined. I was going to finally do this. Super Metroid was going to be played, and played hard. This is the game that started off my backlog conquest. Once I started Super Metroid, I finally had the determination to decimate the games I had never played.

While I wouldn't go as far as saying that Super Metroid is the best game ever made, it's certainly a contender. One thing that I didn't expect was for the game to almost feel like a horror game. Even though Samus is very powerful, it's made clear from the start that no one is coming to help you. The planet of Zebes has an incredible atmosphere, and I couldn't shake the feeling of bleakness and despair that emanated from the world around me. You just feel so...alone. This is another game that I didn't 100%, but I did scour the landscape as much as I could. The end game screen said I finished in just over 7 hours, but they obviously don't take into account when you're looking at the map, because I spent a lot of time looking at that map. Unlike Zelda, I mostly brute-forced my way through Super Metroid, only resorting to GameFAQS twice in my adventure on parts where I needed to bomb a certain area that gave off no indication that that was even an option.

It's a testament to the developers that they were able to tell such a great story with zero dialogue outside of the opening sequence. Take the section where you're taught to wall jump as an example. In games today, the little creatures that show up to show you that you need to wall jump wouldn't be there. Instead, you would have something pop up on the screen explaining exactly how to perform a wall jump. But here, you're basically just told "Hey, watch these little guys and then figure it out for yourself." It took a few tries to get the nuances of wall jumping down, but eventually it became second nature.

There are so many little touches like that that made the game an absolute pleasure to finally play. I don't have the nostalgia clouding my judgment, and even today I would say it's one of my top 5 SNES games, and this is the one game on the list that I'm legitimately sad I didn't play as a kid. One last thing, Super Metroid may very well have the best ending sequence in gaming history. Those last 15 minutes were outstanding.

My friend and I actually did a mini episode of our podcast where we talk about my experience. It's about 25 minutes long, and you can listen to it in this YouTube video:

So what's next on my list? Right now, it's Secret of Mana. While I do have other games, I'm going to save them for next week's list: My Top 5 Gaming Shames.

So, what games are you guys trying to get off your backlog?

Thanks for reading,