Topic: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

TLDR: I have stuff to say about games I should've completed earlier and/or wanted to play again. Consider this a blog post. Comment, read if you will.



In early December 2022, I noticed how my ratio of playing games vs buying them was much more in camp "buy" than in camp "play". Completely unrelated I came across this dude on youtube with the same problem, who promptly made a spreadsheet with his unplayed games. He made a list of games that he wanted to finally get around to, and used howlongtobeat.com to figure out how long it'd take him.

I immediately thought I should do the same.

But then I didn't.

For Christmas, I got 4 more games from my Steam wishlist; Final Fantasy 1, 2, 3 and 6 Pixel Remasters.

That settled it. I had to play them. For more reasons than having not completed most of them, but also because my Steam library alone is 262 games, most I haven't even played, as they've been from the odd Humble Bundle, crazy sales, gifts etc. Games that are "nice to have if you need to play them", in the multiplayer category, and games that are "games you should have played" in the single player category.
As such, I figured enough is enough.

I went ahead and made my own spreadsheet. I used howlongtobeat.com to figure out play times, vs completion times(100% completion), and combined it all to find out a complete play of all the games would take me 507 hours of playtime. 1140 hours of completion time.
Alright. I can do that. Aiming for the prior, obviously, and if I play 2 hours per day, I'd have that done by sometime in June. Faster, obviously, if I play more hours per day.

The first title seemed natural. Final Fantasy I. Never did complete that game. I first played it in the EU version of Final Fantasy Origins, a remastered version of the NES classic for PSOne, bundled with FFII. It was redone graphics, had a bestiary, cinematics, and a remastered soundtrack. All the makings of a perfect experience for me at the time. I even got Final Fantasy Anthology at the same time, to play through FFIV and FFV too. Hell, at the time the shop even had FFVI bundled with a demo for FFX, with the same treatment as the former 4 games.

Never did complete the first 2. IV I completed back then. Must've been almost 20 years ago now. V sat a little different, and I was more tempted by VI, which to this date is tied with VII as being my favorite FF game. III Never came in any bundle. It was released in Japan only at the time of release, and never made a europe/NA release, until a 2006 Nintendo DS, 3D remake came around. At the time, I didn't own a DS, and I never got around to playing it either.

Cut to:

January 4th, 2023.


FINAL FANTASY I PIXEL REMASTER

Let's do this.

Right off the bat, I know Final Fantasy. The mechanics are always more or less the same. Fire, Ice, Lightning, etc. Potions to heal, phoenix down to revive, ether to refill magic points. Bla bla bla. All the same. The thing that differentiates the titles are the stories, settings and plots. The first games, albeit barebones compared to some later titles, is no different. Except, of course, that it is. You start the game with a simple prelude; The world is in peril. Something has happened to the governing crystals. Wind, Fire, Ice and Air, respectively. They've gone out, so to speak. So it falls to you, the four heroes of light to restore balance etc. Classic stuff. Your heroes in this first outing are nameless. You can name them, or you can select 4 of 8 or so premade names. I did the latter, and although I've completed the game, I can only remember my main damage dealer Andii.
In this title, our heroes are mute, dumb, silent protagonists, whatever you want to call it. They never utter a word, and being a Legend of Zelda fan, I can respect that. The story starts. You visit a town, and a castle, to learn that the swordsman Garland has betrayed the kingdom and kidnapped the princess. You, being the heroes, are tasked to deal with it. You jump to the overworld to grind some levels, and immediately I start noticing the similarities with the source material that inspired these games; Dungeons & Dragons. There are levels, of course, but having set the classes before playing, namely a warrior, a thief, a white mage(healer, support) and a red mage(offensive AND defensive magic), they have x amount of uses for each magic levels. Healing is level 1, but healing+ (cure, cura, respecticely) is a level 2 spell, and I have less uses before I need to rest. Ok, gotcha. Different from the later series, where you have hit points and magic points.  But magic isn't that important in this game. Only versus a few foes, and if you're not using a guide/walkthrough, you'll soon find out which ones, as physical attacks do no damage. Fair game.
So, we set out to defeat Garland. Job's done. Garland disappears, you return the princess, all is well. Then, it's assumed, as you are the heroes of light, you will also, since you posess some orbs, heal the aforementioned crystals. Fine. Let's do that. We have to visit 4 shrines, kill 4 fiends that protect the corruption, and then return to finish the job against the big bad behind the curtain. No problem, I got my guide. I also pay attention to Steam Achievements, as according to howlongtobeat.com, FFI is about 17 hours to beat, 20ish to complete. Fine. We slay the 4 fiends. We return triumphant. We actiave the main shrine, only to be sent 2000 years into the past, where Garland(SHOCK AND AWE) is waiting for us. He survived our first fight, back at xp level, what, 10? and now that we're all level 50(4 heroes at level 50 achievement? CHECK) we meet again. He explains, like you do, that when we beat him, he went back in time 2000 years to heal and improve, and send 4 fiends to the future to ruin the world. We beat him, which makes sense. As 2000 years from now, he'll still be alive to go back. It's a time loop. The heroes never existed. But they did. And they didn't. It's nice.
For 1987, this is pretty badass. Starting the Final Fantasy franchise. The seeds have been planted. There's Tiamat, Garland, Bahamut, Fire, potions, phoenix downs, etc. The foundations have been laid.

All in all, I spent 12,5 hours on the game. Missed 4 achievements. Might go back later. howlongtobeat said 17 hours. So I've already saved 5 hours of the total 507 hours. Nice. Job well done.

So. Let's say I have to give every game I play a score. Scores are hard to do. Do you do 10, 6, 100 as the top? Who's to say. Let's say I switch it up. I give it a base score out of 10, because it's a nice, round number, and a little "should you play it" at the end.

So, for Final Fantasy I Pixel Remaster, I would give a score of 5/10. Is it bad? no. Is it great? No. But I had fun nonetheless.

Should you play it?
Different beast altogether with this title. It's not a long game. It's not a hard game(unlike the original, which is much harder), and it sets the bar for future titles in the series. I say YES. Play this game. It won't take you long. With a walkthrough(of which there are many, but I recommend "lylat" on Steam's walkthrough. Not spoilery, will take you through all of it, no bullshit.
And, not to forget, although the original doesn't have many different music tracks, what it does have, is downright amazing stuff.



1 game down, 21 to go.

Will post again after the next game, which, unsurprisingly is Final Fantasy II.


-Tom out.

Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

FINAL FANTASY II PIXEL REMASTER

Right. It's been a few weeks. In some part because I took a week long vacation, in some part that my brother got me absolutely hooked onHades (absolutely brilliant game) again, but I've now completed the somewhat infamous sequel to Final Fantasy.

FF2 starts of very different to the first one. For starters, there's an actual story. The evil emperor is laying down the law by burning cities, and killing folks. You start the game as Firion, Maria, Guy and Leon, four very fresh orphans that go up agains the imperial guard. You lose the fight, and Leon goes missing. FOR THE ENTIRE GAME, I MIGHT ADD. What's interesting here is that the story of rebellion is the core of the entire game, and you recruit people from all over the "world", making acquaintances as you go, with several party members coming and going throughout the story. An interesting take.

What differs this game from the previous, is the leveling system, or rather, the lack thereof. There are no traditional levels. Instead, it's one of those systems that level up your feats and skill as you go. Taking damage? Your HP levels will go up slowly. Hitting hard? Your skill with your current weapon will improve. Using magic to heal or kill? You get the idea. It's leveling up characters based on how you use them, and unlike the first game, you're free to use each character how you want to.  This means more flexibility, and that every character can be the warrior, the mage, the thief etc. All at the same time, depending on how long you want to keep playing the game for.

There has always been some controversy about this being the least liked FF game. Not the most haded, mind you, that'd be FFXIII, and believe me, we'll get to that in a few months, but least liked, definitely.
I don't see it.
FFII is improving so much on the original title. Spells now level up as you use them, instead of being based on your level. You can use spells as much as you like, assuming you have magic points enough to do so. You can change equipment mid-battle, if something isn't working out. You can change the row of the characters(back row means less offensive, but more defensive. Great for mages, for instance), not to mention the mere STACK of spells at your disposal this time around. Sure, you have a set amount you can assign to a character, but it's not a problem.

What I can understand being an issue is the keyword system. See, to progress the story, it's almost like the game is forcing you to pay attention. I'm sure the game would be a lot longer had I not used a guide. Older games like this didn't actively show you where to go all the time, and if you left it for a week without playing, good flippin' luck remembering where you were headed. FFII solves this, while at the same time introducing a nuisance. The keyword system means that some NPC's in the game have a more complex dialogue option that "print: hello world". Instead you can ask them about words you've learned, learn new words, and give them key items. Asking them about the word will usually give some hints as to where you're going next. Yes, it's actually quite helpful if you tend to forget things, but it also complicates things.

Double-edged sword, I suppose.

In any case, back to the story. Ultimately, as is tradition, we defeat the emperor. After about 15 hours of chasing him around, killing his henchmen/henchmonsters etc and traversing the entire world. He's of course upset by this, as one tends to be, but dies nonetheless. We return to the main hub, being a castle with a princess and her knight, and LO AND BEHOLD. A new damn emperor just claimed the throne. And wants to be even more evil than the emperor. Er, the old emperor, that is.

Remember that guy that disappeared for the entire game? You guessed it. Leon is back, with a ...vengeance? There was no implications of that happening, no foreshadowing. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, Leon was pretty much forgotten within the first 2 hours of the game. Sure, he's Maria's brother, and we were also looking for him whilst defeating the empire, but no mention. Nothing. And now he decides to be the emperor.

Fine. We get to, and through, another dungeon to get to him, and he's edgy as can be. This was the late 80s, mind, so I suppose it makes sense. Then, after he taunts our heroes for a little while, a rift opens, and guess who's back from literal Hell? Old emperor. naturally. He laughs in the face of Leon for trying to be edgy, and kicks us all out of the dungeon.
When confronted with what he had done, Leon said nothing. When asked if he would join in another attempt at vanquishing the aforemention emperor, all Leon could muster was "Okay". OKAY.

Okay, the story isn't great. It's much better than FFI, yes, but it leaves a lot to be desired.

All in all, I spent 17,3 hours on this game. Missed 5 achievements. Won't be getting those. Too much of a hassle. Howlongtobeat said 24 hours to beat, and I saved almost 7. In total, that's 12 hours off the 507 hour forecast. Good show.

Scoring time.

So, for Final Fantasy II Pixel remaster, I would give a score of 6/10. Is it bad? no. Is it great? No. But I had fun, and it did improve enough over the original to keep me going. I was considering giving it a 5, but then I'd have to go back and lower the previous one, which I can't do.

should you play it?
Hard to say. I'd say the first title is actually more worth it. For what it is, and if you wanted to go back and see how the series started. FFI is a little over 12 hours, and if you don't like the old 2D style, or the limitations, FFI can be easier to take in. The systems in II are harder to understand, and while the story is better, there's a bunch of easy-to-miss content, and complicated systems that may, or may not, throw you off.
As for the music, it's SO much better than the original. A lot more tracks, but also made with a lot more "love".


2 Games down, 20 to go.

Next up, you probably guessed it; FINAL FANTASY III.

-Tom out. Again.

Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

MILKMAID OF THE MILKY WAY


Surprise!

As it turns out, I don't have a third Final Fantasy game in a row in me right now. Roughly 30 hours is what it takes for me to need to play something else for a little while. Will get back into it, but thankfully, there's other games in my list.

So, starting on this little gem from 2017.
Milkmade of the Milky Way is a point and click adventure game. It's pixel art reminiscent of the 80s, done very beautifully.

You're Ruth. A milk maid in a Norwegian fjord in the 1920's. Ruth lives in a cottage up in the mountains, with her cows, making cheese and butter for a living, selling it to the townspeople, through her friend Erlend, who hikes to her home on his horse.
One Night there's a terrible storm, and a rock fell from the sky...

And that's all the information I could give without spoiling this absolute gem of a game. It's roughly 2 hours long, depending on how stuck you get, but like most point and click games, it gives you just enough information to solve all the puzzles, given you pay attention.
The story is short and sweet, but heartfelt and beautiful. The soundtrack is absolutely mesmerizing, and the mood is perfect.

If you've a couple of hours to spare, definitely check this game out!

I can' really give this game a score, and I don't think it's something I can keep doing either. I'm not a video game reviewer.
It's very hard to justify why one game is given a 5, and another a 6, or an 8. Especially considering how vastly different some of these games are.
Instead, I'll stick to the latter part:

should you play it?
That's a hard yes. If you like puzzles, gorgeous art direction, and a solid soundtrack, this game is definitely for you. If not, play it anyway. It's nice.

3 games down, 19 to go.

Next up? Not sure yet, something short and sweet.

-thanks for reading this far:

I like that you keep reading these, and I don't want to seem self-indulgent. I'm only writing these things because I like to write and share my thoughts, and I don't have another outlet to do this where I feel comfortable doing so.
So, seriously, thanks.

(I like you.)

Last edited by Tomahawk (2023-01-31 19:05:55)

Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

GRIS

Been meaning to get around to this one after a bunch of stellar reviews back in 2018. Purchased, set in my "playthisnext" list on Steam for probably the same amount of time.

One of those short games I'd get around to doing. So what better time than the present!

Gris clocks in at about 3.5 hours to clear, and 8 to complete. I went with the prior, so I could do it an evening, and it's hard to say anything about this game that does it justice. I'll let the developers speak for me in this case:

Gris is a hopeful young girl lost in her own world, dealing with a painful experience in her life. Her journey through sorrow is manifested in her dress, which grants new abilities to better navigate her faded reality.

This is a short 2D puzzle-platformer, with hand drawn/painted graphics, and the most spine-chillingly good soundtrack I've heard in a long, long time.

should you play it?
100% yes. It's a fairly easy puzzle game with, repeating myself here; gorgeous art direction and a solid soundtrack. It's a hell of an experience. Positively fantastic.

4 games down, 26 to go.
That's right! I've expanded my list. I figured I can't play all the Final Fantasy titles back to back, and there's a butt load of them, so I've expanded the list to have some more variety. Most games can be finished in a few sessions, too, so it shouldn't take too long.
Besides, thus far, I've managed to save about 12.5 hours, based on howlongtobeat.com, so I'm doing good!


-Tom writes in the shadows some times.

Last edited by Tomahawk (2023-02-07 23:00:43)