The Backlog Diary – Entry #2

I feel bad that it took this long to update my progress in playing through my collection, but then again, I’ve been breezing through it a bit quicker than expected.  I also plan on cutting  down on the length of each game’s overview, just so I can get to the point a bit quicker.

In any event, here’s what I’ve played since my last update!

Golden Axe (1989)

I have a love-hate relationship with beat ’em ups.  I find most of them repetitive, and it usually takes a good story or enticing visuals and audio for me to really get into one.  As far as Golden Axe goes, it’s pretty standard story-wise, but man – the music and surprisingly deep gameplay explains why this game was a hit for Sega.

Verdict:  So much fun!  Bodyslams all the way!!  Sad I missed out on this as a kid.

Star Wars: Dark Forces (1995)

It’s easy to forget that this PC classic was ported to the PS1 in the console’s early days.  Although Kyle Katarn’s exploits in Dark Forces were wiped clean by Disney doing away with the old Expanded Universe (good riddance), this “Doom clone” actually surpassed Doom in a few different ways – better sound, more complex levels and puzzles, that sort of thing.  Makes sense, since it came out a couple years later… anyway, it has aged really well, even though having to use the PS1’s D-pad to play it has not.

Verdict:  Genuinely surprised at how fun it still is, even without the analog sticks!

Mario Paint (1992)

It’s more of a distraction than an actual game, but I remember getting a decent amount of enjoyment out of Mario Paint as a kid.  It was so cool to have a Super NES game that came with a mouse – I didn’t have a PC at the time, so I remember just the idea of playing a game with a mouse was pretty rad.

I don’t have much else to say about it, other than the fact that I can’t help but think about my grandfather every time I play it.

Verdict:  It only took me about 45 minutes to play through all the modes, and the wonkiness of the ball mouse made it somewhat difficult to enjoy.  Oh well – nostalgia.

Super Sprint (1986)

There really isn’t much to say about Super Sprint, other than it’s a top-down arcade racing game.  You and three other F1 cars duke it out on 8 tracks, avoiding obstacles like oil slicks and tornadoes to try and take the checkered flag.  Once you’ve won on the 8 courses, the game loops back to the first one with differently-placed hazards.

Verdict:  It’s fun, but only until you get spun wildly off course by a tornado and have to figure out what path to take to complete a proper lap (by which time, it’s already too late).

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004)

I had started playing through this one a year before, mostly because
a) I wanted to experience it again, which I hadn’t done in 8 years or so
2) I now own the HD version of the game
D) I thought it would be worth a shot to try and get 100% completion.

I didn’t complete the game at the time, but I was able to get right back into the groove by watching what I had recorded.  Even then, it wasn’t long before I realized that 100% completion was too big (and honestly too boring) a goal for me to achieve.  Even though the A.I. had a way of screwing me over in weird ways while playing through the story, making me fail missions for reasons completely out of my control, I enjoyed going back and seeing what blew me away all those years ago.

Verdict: Still good – might have to knock it down a few notches on the Top 100, though.

Max Payne (2001)

I remember loving the heck out of Max Payne when it first came out, but this time around, it was a bit of a challenge.  The graphics were dark in a way that no amount of adjusting made it nice to look at, and doing the Matrix-ey bullet-time thing over and over again got old fairly quickly.  Back in the day, that was the coolest part of the game!

I also forgot about the dead baby scene.  Not that I can’t separate the art and real life, but I definitely look at that differently now that I have a child of my own.

No wonder I like my Marios and Zeldas so much.

Verdict:  I was definitely yearning for a light-hearted and colorful adventure by the time I finished the game.

Super Mario Sunshine (2002)

Going from Max Payne‘s darkness to Super Mario Sunshine vivid tropical vibes was just what I needed in terms of visual style, but the game’s controls were still enough to give me headaches.

My first attempt at getting all of the game’s 120 stars gave me an opportunity to see just how frustrating a gimmick FLUDD really is.  A slight tilt of the analog stick in the wrong direction had the potential to veer you wildly off-course, which was partially also due to the camera’s tendency to have a mind of its own.  Where you once thought you could jump to with confidence, a shift in perspective could throw everything out of whack.

One of the toughest gaming-related things I’ve ever done.

Verdict: Still a decent Mario game, and I’m happy to be able to say I got every Shine Sprite in the game.

Ice Hockey (1988)

Ice Hockey is one of the first NES games I ever played, but it’s not a game I had ever put much time into.  After experiencing Blades of Steel, it was always tough for me to go back to such a basic, early NES title.  Still, I went ahead and bought it on the Wii U’s Virtual Console, and I figured it was time to give it a serious go.

While it was definitely nostalgic experience, I just couldn’t get a hang of it.  I tried a few different player combinations, but oddly enough the only team I managed to win with was the “All Fat Guy” team.  I’m not sure what that says in terms of my skill with this game…

Verdict:  Unfortunately, beyond looking at the classic box art, this one doesn’t do a whole lot for me.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes (2013)

This is your typical Lego game with lots of button-mashing action, tons of unlockables, and a cute sense of humor.  It is based solely on Marvel characters and doesn’t refer to anything in the MCU, so the level progression just feels like it goes through the motions and tries to include as many characters as possible.  Not a bad thing, but I was sorely missing those fun moments where you see a certain scene from a movie in Lego form.

There’s a bit of exploration that can be done in New York City between levels, but it’s not enough of a playground to really feel like anything you haven’t played before.

Verdict:  Decent fun, but it’s really Lego Marvel’s Avengers that I’m looking forward to playing.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989)

TMNT II is one of my favourite NES games, but I didn’t have a chance to play much of the arcade game it’s based on.  The only time I can remember seeing the cabinet was at the ferry terminal in North Sydney, Nova Scotia, and then on the Marine Atlantic ferry itself.  If I wasn’t going to Newfoundland to see family, I wasn’t playing the TMNT arcade game.

Now that I’ve had a chance to play through this game on Xbox Live Arcade, I can say that the NES game is far superior.  Even with better graphics and audio, the arcade experience just doesn’t stack up.  Much like how the hit detection in Turtles in Time Re-Shelled felt wonky, the same problem exists here (except thankfully not nearly as bad)…  kinda weird.

Verdict:  I guess I just needed to go to Newfoundland more as a kid – maybe I would have enjoyed this game a little more.

OutRun – Sega Classics Collection (2005)

 OutRun is another Sega game I’ve heard a lot about over the years, but haven’t played at all.  I’m terrible at all those old school racers like Rad Racer and so many others, and maybe that’s why it took me so long to finally play it.

The Sega Classics Collection is a compilation of classic games that have been improved upon graphically, and the version of OutRun on this disc feels a lot more like a modern racer as a result.  That might be one of the reasons why I actually managed to make it to the end of the map to “beat” it, but really,  it’s just the same game with dolled up visuals.

Verdict:  3D cars and smooth animation means you have better depth perception and can avoid other cars easier, making it more playable than the original*.

*I still haven’t played the original, but judging by one of the games you’ll read about in my next post, I’m pretty sure I’m not wrong.

Guitar Hero (2005)

The first music game on my list is the original Guitar Hero – the one that started the fake plastic guitar fad.

After getting used to the Rock Band guitar a while back, I found it really hard to go back to the “clicky” guitar.  I usually keep the TV volume a little low to make sure I don’t wake up my son, and the clicking actually drowns the game out.

The tracks contained within each music game inevitably determines how good it is, meaning each one will hold a different meaning to everyone.  This first entry helped open my eyes to a few new artists, but it wasn’t until the Rock Band era and DLC that this type of game really hit its stride.

Verdict:  The quality of each cover is pretty impressive, but I’m really looking forward to getting to the Xbox 360 games that use the much quieter Rock Band guitar!


That’s it for this entry!  I’m not even caught up to what I’m playing now, so I’m hoping my next post doesn’t take forever.

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