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danielkempster

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@sparky_buzzsaw: I think my biggest problem with the environments in Grandia is that they're really not conducive to my "go everywhere, collect everything" mentality in these kinds of games. Since I let that go and focused more on getting from one side of each map to the other, their maze-like quality isn't quite as frustrating as I found it in the beginning. Here's hoping I continue to warm to it as I make more progress.

@mento: Without giving away too much for this weekend's Backlogbook, I think I'm starting to see what you mean about Grandia. It definitely feels like it's starting to come into its own now. As for LEGO games, I can see where you're coming from about them being good 'rental' games (although I'm not sure I'd have the dedication to 100% one in a weekend, especially not if they're all the size of LEGO Star Wars: TCS). Finally, thanks for reminding me about Yooka-Laylee. I missed out on that Kickstarter because I didn't have a current-gen console at the time it was running, so I never backed it. I'll definitely be looking at picking that one up down the line, though.

@slag: Thanks man. Unfortunately the Backloggery doesn't have any kind of import feature, it's all manual data entry. The upside of that is that I have a lot of control over how my backlog is laid out. The downside is the initial set-up is a major time investment. It took me a couple of weekends to set up my entire backlog on there, and it was a real drag, but the pay-off has been worth it in my opinion. As for how I'm aiming to tackle the thirty-six, my plan is pretty much identical to the one you've proposed - twelve long games and twenty-four shorter games, at an average of three per month. My planned 'three' for this month are Grandia, LEGO Star Wars and the 2016 DOOM. Haven't given much thought to which specific games I'll be playing in February and beyond, but I definitely have a 'model' in mind.

@bobafettjm: Thanks duder. I've heard good things about Grandia II, to the point where it's on my Steam wishlist, but given the circumstances that have given rise to this blog series, I don't think I can justify picking it up unless I end up really liking the first game.

@eccentrix: My main memory of Populous: The Beginning is the fact it took up a whole damn memory card. I remember buying this hideous third-party memory card with double storage just so I could play it. It was pretty cool back at the time, but I'm just not a strategy game guy, and if I did want to get into that kind of game, I have better examples of the genre in my backlog (XCOM: Enemy Unknown being the first one to spring to mind).

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danielkempster

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@slag: That's one of the reasons I haven't been able to make much time for games this year (or anything really, for that matter), but without going into extensive details (which I'd rather not do here), it's a lot more complicated than that. The trick of prioritising what to buy has always eluded me, and my Pile of Shame is a testament to that. It's one of the things I'll be trying to do this year though, especially as I try to save up some money for some exciting things on the horizon later this year.

I really liked Dragon Quest, and I enjoyed DQII as well. I can definitely appreciate how innovative that first game must have been when it came out - my understanding is it pre-dates Final Fantasy, and the first FF took a lot of cues from it? I think there's a lot to be said for the series sticking to its roots and evolving the formula in small ways, as opposed to the Final Fantasy series' tendency to scrap entire mechanics between entries. As they say, if it ain't broke, why try to fix it? Between my phone, my PS2 and my 3DS, I now own every main line DQ game from I to IX. I'd love to play them all, but going back to my previous statement, I also need to be a bit more realistic about prioritising the games that really matter this year.

Thanks for the Demon's Souls props too. I can understand it being difficult to go back to, the animations are pretty antiquated, and probably were even by contemporary standards (it launched in the same year as Uncharted 2, after all). I've never really struggled with seeing past dated graphics though, something I suspect is going to come in real handy as I'm currently making my way through the PS1 RPG Grandia.

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danielkempster

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@arbitrarywater: @majormitch: Thanks guys. 2016 was definitely a case of 'quality, not quantity'. Unless we're talking about my Pile of Shame. Geez, that thing needs some serious reining in. I'm gutted I didn't get around to more stuff, but this past year more than any other, real life has royally screwed over my gaming time. It's something I'm taking steps to fix this year, in the hopes of redressing the balance between doing the important stuff and indulging my hobbies.

Arbitrary, purely out of interest, can I ask why you haven't ever finished Demon's Souls? Is there something about it you don't like? Or is it something painfully obvious like not owning a PS3? I'm absolutely going to be checking out the other Soulsborne games by the way, I already own all four of them and plan to start cutting my way through the first Dark Souls next month. Without getting too spoilery, is there anything I should bear in mind going in?

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danielkempster

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Great list, Sparky. Although there's absolutely no overlap between our top tens, I'll do my best to come up with some stuff to say.

I still need to check out the original Watch_Dogs, and reading that you found quite a bit to like in that game has elevated my hopes slightly for having a good time with it. The way you describe the sequel building on its foundations reminds me of how the Assassin's Creed series started out last gen. Here's hoping Ubisoft don't oversaturate the market with annual sequels (although I think they would struggle to pull it off, as the demand for these games doesn't seem anywhere near as high as it was for AC at its peak).

I'm really excited to check out Hitman this year, although I'm worried that I've kind of missed the boat by not playing it on release alongside the rest of the community. I figured I might devote myself to an episode every weekend over a six-week period, just so I can really explore each level as fully as possible. Hopefully my schedule will allow for me to do things like that a bit more this year.

I really, really want to check out I Am Setsuna, even more so after seeing it so high on your list, but I'm having real trouble justifying paying £32.99 (around $45, I believe) for a downloadable title. There was a four-day sale on it not too long back I gather, which brought the price down to just over £20, and I definitely would've bit at that price but I wasn't aware of the sale until after the fact. Ah well, I guess I'll just have to keep my eyes peeled and my ear to the ground until the next price drop.

As someone who went through a Harvest Moon phase in my early teens, Stardew Valley looks like the kind of game I could really get into, especially considering how rewarding it's been returning to other childhood favourites like Pokémon in recent years. It's on sale on Steam right now, so maybe I'll bite the bullet and jump in.

Happy New Year Sparky, here's hoping 2017 is even better for you than last year, both in terms of great video games and your writing pursuits (The Ghost at His Back is lined up to be my first read of 2017, and I'll let you know what I think when I'm through it).

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Edited By danielkempster

Nice little write-up duder. Looking forward to the rest of the week's instalments.

I wish I'd played some of the games listed here so I had more to say. The more I see people praising Hitman, the more convinced I become that I need to check it out. It looks to have the same emergent, sandbox-esque qualities as Metal Gear Solid V, so that seems like a shoe-in for something I'd really enjoy playing. Maybe I'll be able to pick up the whole first season cheaply through a Black Friday deal, or failing that in the January sales. You've also reminded me that I really need to get around to checking out Disgaea at some point. Sparky_Buzzsaw sent me in the direction of Disgaea D2, which I've downloaded to my PS3, but haven't yet started playing. I must rectify that, since the gameplay seems right up my street.

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@strangestories: Thanks man. Nuzlockes are pretty great, I took some time out from my "gotta catch 'em all" quest through 2014 and 2015 to embark on a couple of them myself. It's a great way of forcing yourself out of your comfort zone and getting better acquainted with the 'mons you'd usually overlook. The emergent narratives they produce can be really rewarding too. I'm stoked for Sun and Moon too, I have (by sheer coincidence) got a day off work on the 23rd, so I'm planning to devote as much of the day as possible to it.

@jacksukeru: Best of luck with your continued quest to fill the Pokédex, duder. If it would be any help to you, I have a spare Arceus from the event earlier this year which I'd be more than happy to send your way. I might have a couple of the others sitting in Omega Ruby that I could trade to you as well, but I'd need to check first.

@theblue: Thanks duder. Yeah, the 20th anniversary Mythical distributions have been a bit of a Godsend in terms of filling in the blanks. Although it does feel a little like they've cheapened the value of the Pokémon in question, since they're no longer associated with in-game 'events'.

@ryuku_ryosake: Thanks for the tip duder, but I'm better off sticking with Y on this one, I think. I know a fully completed copy of ORAS offers better chances to level up, but I haven't played enough of the post-game in Omega Ruby to unlock those opportunities. My go-to strategy for Y is just to spend a ton of time in Victory Road. I have a level 100 Greninja which can OHKO everything in there, and that combined with the Exp Share and a multitude of Lucky Eggs should be enough to provide a steady stream of levelling and evolutions.

@majormitch: Thanks Mitch. Funnily enough, your brother was one of my inspirations for embarking on this crazy endeavour. He's @wess on the site, right? I remember reading his blogs on the subject way back when.

@ljbrewer:Congrats on (almost) completing your 'dex, duder. My clock on Pokémon Y currently reads just under 860 hours. Admittedly a fair chunk of that was devoted to breeding some competitive 'mons for a local league set-up with a few of my friends, but that's still a sizeable chunk of my life. And that's not even taking into account the cumulative hundreds of hours I've spent with LeafGreen, SoulSilver, Emerald, Platinum, White, White 2 and Omega Ruby. These next couple of weeks are just going to be the tip of a very large iceberg.

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@mento: It's good to be back. I didn't mention this in the blog itself, but hot damn, those Dragon Quest games have subtitles worthy of your own pun-tastic masterwork. 'Luminaries of the Legendary Line', 'Sentinels of the Starry Skies', and so on. I've got the first two Suikoden games from the PlayStation Store. I had a friend in secondary school who spoke very highly of them, so I'm looking forward to finding out what all the fuss is about.

@arbitrarywater: It is terrifying, but it contains a lot of stuff that I had previously written off, so I need to go back through it and trim it down to a slightly more manageable size. The Backloggery also handles episodic stuff differently to Giant Bomb, so every episode is its own separate 'game' rather than all being lumped under one heading. I definitely need to check out that stuff with ZP and Gino, I'd been deliberately holding off on the podcasts until I could find time to read and listen to everything over the course of a few days. As for Sun and Moon, I'm not sure what I'll be doing yet, but I can guarantee that there'll be blogging of some kind involved. Maybe another Nuzlocke series? We shall see.

@sparky_buzzsaw: Thanks man, it's good to be back.I've always been fine with either Dan or Daniel, so stick with Dan by all means. As I said in the blog, it's more for the sake of consistency across my online profiles. Writing went out of the window for a few months due to falling in love, but this blog is my way of getting back on track in that department. Side note, I've got both the Rankin Flats novels downloaded to my Kindle and will be reading them ASAP. Congrats duder, that's a massive achievement getting your stuff out there. As a fan of the Wild ARMs series, would you say it's worth checking out the up-rezzed version of WA3 on PS4 if I enjoyed the first game?

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danielkempster

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@bobafettjm: @obsideondarman: Thanks guys. I've been away from video games for a while because of real-world stuff, so this is me taking stock of my 'Pile of Shame' as I prepare to dive back in. I daresay there'll be some culling going on at some point to bring the numbers down to slightly more manageable levels.

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danielkempster

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Hot damn, this was a hell of a read Sparky.

First off, thanks a ton for the shout out. I know I've been quiet over here for the last few months, for various real-life reasons that I'm planning to go into in my own return to the blogosphere very soon. I haven't been playing many video games either, but that also seems like it might be on the turn-around as I've recently gotten deep into (of all things) the retro PS1 JRPG Wild ARMs. It means a lot to know you value my writing to that degree, and I hope you know the feeling is mutual. Thanks, bud.

I have your novel downloaded to my Kindle, but I'm a little ashamed to admit I haven't opened it yet. I started reading A Game of Thrones about two days before you went live with The Ghost at His Back, and it turns out an eight-hundred-page novel isn't the quick read I was hoping it would be. I'm psyched to get stuck in though, it's my next reading priority, and I'll be sure to let you know what I think.

As a fellow writer with a novel in the works, reading about your creative process and how the book took shape was an enlightening experience. We work quite differently, I think, right down to the very origins of our ideas (you say yours begin with characters and dialogue, whereas mine tend to begin with situations and questions). All the same, I think I've gleaned some useful insight from reading this that might help me with the final push to complete the first draft of The Hawker, something that has once again fallen by the wayside as I'm struggling to make it through the final chapters and bring the book to a close. Reading about your decision to completely scrap the first draft and basically re-write the entire novel is terrifying for me, as someone who's very nearly at the second draft junction myself. But it worked for you, and more power to you. Hopefully I'll be able to approach my own second draft with the same kind of ruthless determination, with a view to making this story the best it can possibly be.

Bottom line is, major kudos to you for making it to this point Sparky. We may only be interweb-buddies (although I hope that changes one day), but your determination, dedication and diligence with this has been a real inspiration. You should be really fucking proud of yourself, duder. I know I am.

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@arbitrarywater: I knew those would get you, ToEE in particular as I know you champion that game somethin' fierce. The way I'm looking at it, Baldur's Gate is THE D&D CRPG I need to play above all the others based on its reputation, and right now I don't even know if I'm going to enjoy it, so it doesn't make sense clinging to Icewind Dale and ToEE as nebulous 'maybe's. The good news is that they're all digital acquisitions, so if I do enjoy Baldur's Gate and want more of the same, there's always the possibility of reinstating them somewhere down the line. As for Zelda II, I've tried (and failed) to get into that game maybe half a dozen times. This is my way of admitting to myself that it just ain't happenin'.

@slag and @Sparky_Buzzsaw: Sorry to worry you guys. Truth be told I went for the title purely for the Valentine's/relationship metaphor. I didn't read it the way you did until this morning, with the benefit of a good night's sleep and some distance. It's a pretty foreboding title, I'll grant you, but I assure you all that I'm definitely not done gamin', not by a long shot!