zophar53's Blog

Posted on Aug 4th 2018 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Backlog, Pile of shame

With each passing year, my game collection grows, and with it my gaming backlog. I used to think I would eventually make time for all the games I wanted to play, but the older I get, the more my thinking changes. The most recent of these evolutions has been to start thinking about making some tough decisions. I'm starting to think I may have to let some games go, at least for the foreseeable future, in the interest of making it clear which games really matter to me. Part of the reason I find it daunting to hack away at my backlog is simple choice paralysis. So to help make those decisions and to cope with a certain level of resignation, I've decided not to make this yet another "oh whoa is me I'll never get to my pile of shame" post, but to instead work through some kind of prioritization process. At the very least, I'm hoping that thinking through it will make me feel like I'm actually doing something about it. Also, maybe by doing this in a public forum it'll motivate me to make time for some of the most egregious of these blank spots in my gaming history.

To start with, I pulled up my records of every game I own, digitally and physically, across all platforms. I could've included games/franchises I don't own as well, but if I can't even whittle down the ones I do own, how can I be expected to manage the ones I don't? From there I decided on a 3-tier system of categorization. In descending order, they are:

3. Non-priorites - These are games/series that I've either played sufficient amounts of that I've had my fill, or will require relatively little effort to play to my satisfaction. Also in this tier are games I haven't played, but that I don't really have an interest in playing (plenty of PS Plus and Xbox Games with Gold games, for example). Finally, I may use this as a place to put games that I wanted to play at one time, but have either aged so poorly that I don't think they'd hold up if I tried to come to them now, or games that I've decided I'm willing to let go.

2. If I Can Make Time for Them - This category I'm sure will end up being the largest. It's for games that I do still want to play, but aren't high profile or shameful enough that I'll be upset if I end up not playing them. There's a lot of character action platformers, RPGs, and less-than-AAA games that will end up going here. A lot of newer games (within 5 years old) will fall into this category as well, because in terms of working on my pile of shame, I feel I should try to focus on older titles.

1. Priority Ones - This is it; the list of games that when I tell someone I haven't played them, they get a flabbergasted look on their face and I feel I have no excuse to give. The vast majority of the titles in this tier are at least 10 years old and seem like they would still be worth playing in 2018. Everyone says they have less free time as an adult, but if my game playing history has shown nothing else, it's that I'm willing to aggressively make time for a game if it deeply captivates me. Doom 2016, Bloodborne, Burnout Paradise, Borderlands, and Diablo III are all titles I put 80-100 hours into despite career and social obligations.

And so, to air out my most embarrassing gaming gaps and attempt to organize the ones I truly want to work on, I present the below list (in no particular order). I own every one of these games, in multiple formats in some cases, and have even played a couple hours of many of them, so it would be fairly easy to pick them back up. As a matter of fact, I could see some of these making fun topics for future posts, wherein I describe my perspective of playing through them for the first time and if I feel they're all they're cracked up to be in the modern gaming landscape.

It's worth noting that given my newfound thinking, this is less about clearing out my pile of shame and more about cherry-picking the best of the best I've yet to experience. Also, if I dig into a game and I'm honestly not enjoying it, either because it doesn't hold up or because I just don't like it, I'm willing to let it go. There are too many games out there to spend time playing ones I don't find fun.

It may be grainy now, but it looks like it might still be creepy.

Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem - This one's a bit borderline for me. The game's legacy is well-known, but it slipped by me when it first released, and by the time I got a copy I was on to newer consoles and most of its shocking surprises had been spoiled for me. I'm a little skeptical of how well the graphics will hold up in this day and age, and I'm worried that expecting all of its insanity effect shenanigans going in will make it much less impactful. If the atmosphere and story are still good, I'm willing to give it a chance though.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night - I love a good Metroidvania, and SotN is still considered one of the very best. The only caveat to this one is that the genre has gotten a bit crowded again. Does it still hold up against modern entries in the genre?

Halo series - I kind of have a valid excuse for this one. I was a Nintendo guy, and then a PlayStation guy. I never owned an original Xbox, and didn't get a 360 until well into its life cycle, so even though I eventually played almost halfway through Halo: Anniversary, by then Reach had come out and I felt hopelessly behind. If I do decide to go back to this one, I think I would stop after Reach. Seems like the franchise kind of went downhill once Bungie moved on to Destiny (which I loved, by the way!).

Still looks undeniably gorgeous. Thank you HD remake!

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time/The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker - I combine these because I haven't decided if I want to play them both or not. I think if I had to pick one I'd go with the latter. I want to love a 3D Zelda, I really do, but as someone who grew up watching the birth and growth of this franchise, it will always be a 2D series to me. The only 3D games that I feel have the potential to be in my top 5 for the series are Wind Waker and Breath of the Wild.

This looks like it might still hold up well, especially on a nice PC.

Half-Life 1 & 2 - The Orange Box gave me a perfect opportunity to right this wrong, but that didn't happen. I played and loved both Portal and Portal 2, but I told myself I didn't want to play Half-Life 2 without playing its predecessor. Was I wrong? Should I play the first or just skip to the sequel and its "Episodes"?

Mass Effect quadrilogy - This is without a doubt the one I'm most disappointed about. Everything about it is up my alley. Deep space opera with a large cast of interesting characters, a rich story, and oh man is that music incredible. I remember drooling over the trailer for the first game and wishing I had a 360 at the time. Like Halo though, by the time I got to the Xbox party the idea of playing through three (now four!) 80-hour-plus RPGs seemed laughably insurmountable.

I'm not much of a western fan, but I sure loved me some GTAIV.

Red Dead Redemption - This may be the most currently relevant title on the list. With the long-awaited sequel out later this year, there's never really been a better time to dig into the adventures of John Marsten. By some miraculous miracle, I've even managed to avoid story and ending spoilers, so I think I'd be able to appreciate it just as much now as if I'd played it upon first release.

The priority one JRPGs - There are so many JRPGs in my backlog.
   -Final Fantasy VI (FFIV almost made the priority one list. Like I said, tough cuts y'all)
   -Chrono Trigger
   -Suikoden I & II
   -Earthbound (the whole Mother series, really)
   -The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky

I'd be interested in hearing people's thoughts. Are there any games that were once in your pile of shame that somewhere along the way you decided to let go of? Are any of the games above ones you've yet to play as well? Do you think they'll hold up in 2018? Are there any you'd be interested in hearing from me about when I play through them? This is part of the motivation for me to play them, after all, so don't be shy.

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Dude... Symphony of the Night, Wind Waker, and Half-Life 2 need to be at the top of your priorities. They all hold up brilliantly. Please make time for those
It's funny, PlayStation Access just did a video about games they were ashamed at having never played, and I struggled to think of anything for myself. I guess I've been able to get around to most of the heavy hitters over the years. Just to chime in on your list:

Eternal Darkness - Everybody knows I'm a huge survival horror fan, and I have always considered this to be among the best. You mentioned that you were aware of the sanity effects, so it sounds like you're aware of the Lovecraftian influence.

Symphony of the Night - Definitely one of the best Metroidvanias I have played (although I haven't played most of them yet). I would highly recommend this game, as well as Super Metroid if you have never played that.

Halo - I consider the original Halo to be one of my favorite games of all time, but I think most of that has to do with playing it when it first came out and experiencing the impact it had first hand. I doubt that it really holds up that well, and although I have enjoyed the rest of the series, I don't think I would put them in 'Priority One' status.

OoT/Wind Waker - I'm just going to come out and say it, I think Wind Waker is one of the most overrated games ever. That's not to say that I think it's bad, because I don't, but I think I've enjoyed every 3D Zelda game that I've played more than that one. I never liked the sailing mechanic, and God help you if you play it on the GameCube and have to play a melody literally every time you want to change directions. That said, I still enjoy OoT, but it probably doesn't hold up the best being the first of the 3D Zelda's. I remember Twilight Princess being my favorite, but I haven't played it since it first came out and can't speak to how well it has held up over the years.  And you can't go wrong with BoTW.

HL 1 & 2 - These are two of my all-time favorite games. The original Half-Life, although it probably doesn't hold up that well now, absolutely blew my mind back when it first came out. The second game holds up better, and is definitely worth playing.

ME Series - I didn't play the first ME game very much because it was literally putting me to sleep. ME 2 is one of my all time favorite games, and ME 3 is great as well. Andromeda was rushed and it shows.

RDR - Probably one of Rockstar's best. Definitely worth playing.

FFVI - I always considered this to be my favorite FF game, but I haven't played it in a very long time (I've been meaning to replay it soon).

Chrono Trigger - This has been my #1 favorite game ever since I played it way back in 1995. Still holds up.

Suikoden I & II - I've only played the first game, but it is excellent. Practically everybody says that the second game is better in literally every way, so it's definitely one that you (and I) should check out.

Earthbound - Never played it! (shame on me!)

Trails in the Sky - I wrote two articles about these games, so feel free to refer to those. As a warning, the first game is slow going at the start, and it takes quite a few hours before it really gets interesting.

I hope this helps. Have fun!
Half-Life (1) is definitely worth playing. The way the levels flowed from one into another was amazing back in the day.

The trick to keeping your backlog in check is to not buy so many games in the first place. With Steam sales and other bundles, a collection can grow by hundreds of games per year, which nobody has time for. What I found helped for me was asking the question "would I want to buy this game if it was full price?" If the answer is no, then you shouldn't buy it on sale either. I found that games you buy "because it's simply too great a deal to pass up!" end up never getting played.
Dude, that is an amazing list of backlog games, and I cannot wait for you to tackle them.  There really isn't a stinker in the lot.  I'd love for you to share your experiences and opinions as you do so as well.

This is a very interesting way of categorizing your gaming priorities, and I might have to steal it if you don't mind.  Also, are you using Game Collectorz to keep track of your backlog?

I think for the uninitiated, Wind Waker HD is the way to go, as it really cuts down on the tedium of constantly having to change wind direction whilst sailing. 

Regarding the Half-Life games, in my opinion they are very different beasts, but both amazing in their own right.  The first is kind of a shake up to the tried and true formula (in it's own time).  Remember that this was in the day of DOOM/Quake clones, so having a game where you don't have to ritually backtrack through bland levels with your map screen open was a bit of a coup at the time.  With that in mind, I would certainly play them in order for the sake of history, though if you can't get into the gameplay at least watch the ending of the first game before starting the second.

Good luck and I can't wait to hear more!

@Disposed Hero: I wasn't aware of the Loftcraft stuff, actually. Neat! I have played Super Metroid, and it's probably my gold standard for the genre. I've played and loved every 2D Metroid except Samus Returns (I'm not counting Other M, because eff that abomination of a game). I just played through AM2R, so Samus Returns has fallen off my radar a bit.

I kind of agree about OoT. N64 3D graphics look like hot garbage now, although if I were going to play through it I'd go with the 3DS version. And I'd go with the Wii U HD remake of WW; I've heard about the pain in the butt sailing stuff.

@bombatomba: I do use Game Collectorz, yes. It's a fantastic piece of software and they're constantly updating it. By the time I discovered the collection tools on RFGen I was already neck deep in Collectorz, so I stuck with that. But I'm in the process of slowly updating my collection here to match.

Thanks for the feedback everyone! I think I may let Halo and Ocarina of Time go, but the rest I'm excited to play.
I will chime in with everyone else, and say that you definitely need to get to SotN before too long. It's a top notch game that has held up extremely well (I played through it again just a couple years ago), and has an amazing soundtrack - possibly one of the best from that era. I think I've played through it at least 3 times in the last decade, and it's amazing every time. In terms of my own "pile of shame" sort of list, I echo some of yours as well. Not being a big FPS guy, the Halo series passed me by, despite now owning 1-4, ODST, and the Halo RTS between the OG Xbox and 360. I do plan to get to them at some point, however, because the campaigns are probably relatively short. Wind Waker HD is on there, and now that I own both the original Game Cube version AND the Wii U update, I really need to scratch that one off. Same with Half-Life 1 & 2, I need to give those a go. I played through the original Mass Effect for an earlier RF Gen play through, but moved on to other things, and never got back to 2 & 3, so I need to get those gone through. And Red Dead Redemption is another that I need to play. So many games, so little time!

Great write-up, though, and I should look at doing some kind of prioritization of my own growing collection. I really liked the term you used at the beginning of the article: choice paralysis. I feel that way a lot with my music collection, as well. I have so many LPs and CDs now that I often can't decide what to listen to. With my new car having no CD player, and being digital only, I just put my phone on shuffle, and then I don't have to decide all the time what I listen to, but when I want to play something specific for a workout or long walk, I sometimes just have to end up picking something at random, because I don't want to only go back to old favorites. It's an interesting conundrum, and I guess a good problem to have, given the amount of choice we have in the modern world.
Mass Effect is a franchise where opinions diverge a lot. I really enjoyed the first one for it's worldbuilding and KOTOR-like gameplay, but most will probably put the second one over that. I liked it too, but I'd say the worldbuilding is no longer at the forefront and the gameplay reminded me more of Gears of War. Third and fourth ones are controversial to say the least.

Suikoden is my favorite series of all time, and those two are about 20 hours long each. First game may come across a bit like cookiecutter JRPG fare at first, but it's just a really solid game that sets you up for the sequel, where the price tag and cult following should be enough to tell you it's def worth playing.

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