Backlog Blitz: The Games of December 2014 & Final Results!


The actress Cate Blanchett once said, “If you know you are going to fail, then fail gloriously.” I can think of no better way to describe what happened to my so-called Backlog Blitz progress during the final month of 2014. It was truly epic how terribly I did, and how temptation, great deals, and falling in love with a popular monster collecting franchise got the better of me.

Before I get to December, though, I have to say that 2014 was a great year! I have very few regrets about what I bought and played. It’s a bit frustrating to realize that I can’t seem to stop myself from buying more games than I finish, but I do think that outside of blazing-hot deals and inexpensive PC bundles, I’ve remained pretty selective about the titles I buy and play. I hope to keep that trend going into 2015.

Anyway, here are a few statistics from this year:

  • I bought a whopping 87 games and bundles, which averages out to 8 purchases totaling $118.05 per month. Total spend for the year was $1298.60. That’s the equivalent of about 2 console or 3 handheld games at full price per month, which isn’t too terrible. Could definitely be better, though!
  • I played and finished a total of 63 games, so a little north of 5 per month. My best month was January, when I somehow blasted through 13 titles. Not sure how I did that, but I must have been very motivated. There were some really good ones that month too, including Super Mario 3D World (Wii U) and The Last of Us (PS3). The total value of what I finished was $1003.00, which put me -$295.60 in the hole.
  • Total play time was approximately 1051 hours, which comes out to about 3 hours per day. Since I spent a sizable amount of the year working on this blog and my YouTube channel, I’m not surprised that this number isn’t higher.
  • The average rating for all of the games I finished was an 8.9 (B+). Of those, 35 games scored in the 9.1-9.9 range (56%), 21 from 8.1-8.9 (33%), and 7 were a 7.9 or below (11%).
  • Overall, I finished -24 for the year, which is almost as bad as my 2012 embarrassment of -36! I only have myself to blame though, and as you’ll see below, December basically accounts for that entire deficit.

For 2015, I’m trying a couple different things:

  • I won’t be wiping the slate clean like I’ve done in the past. I’ll instead start at my -24 deficit, which I hope will keep me more honest and focused on playing what I already own instead of being tempted by deals, new releases, and delusions that I’m doing better than I actually am.
  • I’ll now be tracking what I sell. It makes sense to me that if I end up selling a game, that I should keep a record of that, as well as how much I earned from the sale. I think it will be interesting to see the month over month net.

Otherwise, everything else will remain the same, and I’ll keep the monthly updates coming.

Finally, here is a breakdown of what I bought and played during the final month of 2014. As I mentioned above, this is a long list! Here we go:

Games Purchased in December (24 titles, $466.60 spent):

  1. Mortal Kombat: Komplete Edition (PC) — This one was so cheap via the Brazilian site Nuuvem that I couldn’t pass it up. I haven’t really played a Mortal Kombat game since Mortal Kombat Trilogy on the original PlayStation, so this will probably be a shocker when I finally get around to installing and firing it up!
  2. Metal Gear Solid: Legacy Collection (PS3) — I had no idea this was even a thing until this year, and it must have been a limited run or something, because it quickly became expensive to buy new. Fortunately, I won a new copy on eBay that somehow avoided any auction sniping. This is another series I gave up on relatively early on after Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty on the PS2.
  3. Valiant Hearts: The Great War (PC) — I finally got around to picking this up. I’d meant to back in June when it first came out, but I wanted to finish Ubisoft’s other UbiArt Framework game Child of Light first. While that didn’t happen until December, I still made good on my promise.
  4. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Wii U) — The Captain Toad levels from Super Mario 3D World were fun and nice breaks from the main game, so it was great to see Nintendo take those ideas and turn them into a complete game. I haven’t played it yet, but I plan on making it one of my firsts for 2015.
  5. Pokemon White Version 2 (DS) — Part of a great holiday sale, I got this one on the cheap. Although most players will say that Pokemon Black Version 2 is the better of the two, I’m still fairly new to the series, so I doubt that I’d notice any difference.
  6. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (PS3) — Another good online deal that I didn’t want to pass up. It doesn’t help that I still have yet to play the first Persona 4 Arena, but that’s beside the point! These games look great, and I’m very eager to see how they complement their RPG counterparts.
  7. The Wolf Among Us (PC) — I’ve heard really good things about this episodic adventure game from Telltale, and even though I know nothing about the Fables source material, I’m still looking forward to checking this out!
  8. Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan (3DS) — This one was a total impulse buy based on some impressions I was reading on NeoGAF, which is always a dangerous thing to do. I used to be a big fan of first-person dungeon crawlers on our family’s Apple IIe, and with this one being described as the most accessible of the series so far, I figured I’d give it a try.
  9. Bundle Stars: Killer Bundle (PC) — Another solid offering from the UK-based Bundle Stars, this one includes: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, Demonicon: The Dark Eye, Pixel Piracy, Year Walk, Alone in the Dark, Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space, Kraven Manor, FATE: The Cursed King, Loren the Amazon Princess, and Real Boxing. Even having worked at THQ for much of my career, I somehow didn’t have a Steam copy of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.!
  10. Rage (PC) — I really didn’t have any interest in this first-person shooter from id and Bethesda, but those 75% off Steam holiday sales tend to generate interest rather easily. I haven’t played an id game since Quake III Arena (man, those were the days, weren’t they?), so I’m sure this will feel nostalgic no matter what.
  11. Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition (PC) — Another rock-bottom Nuuvem deal that appeared around the holidays, I’ve been eyeing this one for a long time, so I finally pulled the trigger. I’ve heard very good things about this game, and I’ve read it described as a game that betters Grand Theft Auto in some ways, so I’m definitely going to play this sooner rather than later.
  12. Pokemon Black Version (DS) — December was the month that I finally fell head over heels for the Pokemon series. While I had purchased (and sold) several other Pokemon games over the years, including Yellow, HeartGold, and Black, after pouring tons of hours into Pokemon X, I was on a mission to re-buy one title from each generation that I had missed or sold. I decided to get this one to complement the previously mentioned Pokemon White Version 2.
  13. Pokemon HeartGold Version (DS) — Nothing much to add here, but I will say that buying Nintendo games in cardboard boxes like these on the internet is a stressful thing to do. Sometimes shippers will roll the dice and put them in padded mailers, but others will box them up safely. Thankfully, Pokemon collectors take this stuff seriously, so this arrived in a nice box in near-mint condition. That helped ease the sting of me having just sold this game earlier in the year.
  14. Pokemon Platinum Version (DS) — I know very little about the Generation IV Diamond and Pearl games, but after reading about Platinum‘s changes, I decided to just stick with this one for now. If I like it, I might go back and pick up one of the others, but I’m finding it increasingly more difficult to play the older games after experiencing Pokemon X and Alpha Sapphire.
  15. Bundle Stars: You Don’t Know Jack Classic Bundle (PC) — My wife and I enjoyed playing the recent You Don’t Know Jack on the PS3, and I remember loving the original, so these might be fun to go back to, since they’re sure to be hilarious time capsules of pop culture from their respective release years. This bundle includes 9 games total, including the sports, TV, and movie installments.
  16. Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen (PS3) — This is another title that regularly gets referred to as the best action RPG on the PS3 on several gaming forums, and with it being so inexpensive right now, I figured this would be a good time to get it in the queue. I really don’t know much about it, so I’m going into it with little-to-no expectations.
  17. Crimzon Clover: World Ignition (PC) — I used to be a huge shoot-’em-up player. It was probably my favorite arcade genre, with series like R-Type, Raiden, and Gradius eating up tons of my quarters over the years. I got really into the “bullet hell” shooters from Cave as well during the 2000s, and while I’m probably extremely rusty at them at this point, they’re a style of game I’ll usually support with my dollars, only because they’re a bit of a lost art, cherished by those disciplined enough to master them.
  18. Astebreed (PC) — Purchased at the same time as Crimzon Clover, this is another PC shooter from Japan, and contains both vertical and horizontal shooting elements. For some reason, the name bugs me, but the gameplay is supposed to be really good, so I suppose I can let that slide. I’m joking, of course.
  19. Lost Odyssey (360) — Often referred to as one of the most underrated games on the Xbox 360, I decided to pick this up before it gets more difficult to find. It’s funny to see a game delivered on 4 discs these days. That used to be pretty common back in the original PlayStation generation, but outside of PC games, I can’t remember the last time I saw a game come on so many DVDs!
  20. Transistor (PC) — From the same crew that developed the most excellent Bastion, this one somehow passed me by upon its original release back in May of 2014. Just about every game on PC saw some great discounts over the holidays, and this one was no exception. I actually know very little about this game’s style, so I can’t wait to play it.
  21. The Humble Noodlecake Mobile Bundle (Android) — Surprisingly, this was the only bundle from Humble that I bought in December. I put in the $8 asking price to unlock everything: Polymer, Glorkian Warrior: The Trials of Glork, Pumped BMX 2, Super Stickman Golf 2 Premium, Devious Dungeon Premium, Tower Dwellers, Mikey Boots, The Blocks Cometh, Flappy Golf Premium, Mage Gauntlet, Box Cat, Wayward Souls, and Wave Wave v2.0. Will I play any of them? That remains to be seen.
  22. Escape Goat 2 (PS4) — My wife generously bought me a PS4 for Christmas, and this little puzzle platformer was my first purchase. Having seen a lot of positive impressions of it, as well as it being on sale for PlayStation Plus subscribers, I decided to take the plunge. It has a simple premise and a nice aesthetic.
  23. Pokemon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition (Game Boy Color) — I wasn’t sure about going back this far in the series, but I decided to do exactly that after finishing Pokemon X. It was a bit pricey, and it makes me wish that Game Freak and Nintendo would put some of these old Pokemon games up on the 3DS eShop.
  24. Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS4) — I thought that this would be a completely forgettable game, but people who have played it have been pleasantly surprised by its quality. I’d all but written off the Wolfenstein series long ago, but it looks to have made a return to form, which is great to see for any long-running franchise.

Games Finished in December (6 titles, $51.00 value):

  1. Titan Attacks! (PS3, 1 hour) — A PlayStation Plus freebie, I was looking forward to this, but I found it to be a tedious and rather boring Space Invaders clone. I much prefer the Space Invaders Extreme series on the DS and PSP. It has a decent power-up system, graphics, and audio.
    Overall: C
  2. Nier (PS3, 25 hours) — It took me nearly half of 2014 to finally play through this, but it’s a game that has arguably the best story, characters, and soundtrack of any game from the 360/PS3 generation. The single-player MMO style gameplay is pretty good, and it borrows elements from many different genres and popular franchises. Some elements are rough, but it’s a unique experience that shouldn’t be missed.
    Overall: A- (REVIEW LINK)
  3. Rogue Warrior (PC, 1 hour) — I played this as a bit of a joke since it was my lowest Metacritic-rated game in my Steam library. It’s a terrible game that just feels disrespectful to both its content and players alike. It’s too bad that Bethesda’s name is on this. About the only good thing I can say about it is that it has built-in gamepad support.
    Overall: D-
  4. Child of Light (PC, 10 hours) — This is a beautiful UbiArt Framework RPG that is certainly impressive to look at and listen to, but it’s equally impressive that this came from a big publisher like Ubisoft. It feels like an indie game, which is a good thing. I wish it didn’t have the rhyming dialogue, which seems forced most of the time and undermines the emotional impact of the story, but the combat is pretty fun, and the world is a joy to explore. The game is very short though, so I hope we get an even more expansive sequel.
    Overall: B-
  5. Pokemon X (3DS, 95 hours) — This will be the Pokemon game that will be forever credited as the one that sent me careening headlong into this massive universe of a franchise. Many longtime Pokemon players have called this the worst in the series due to how easy it is and its lack of post-game content, but whatever; I enjoyed it immensely. The main game was indeed pretty easy, but for me, that’s OK. I got lost in the metagame, learning about IVs, EVs, hidden abilities, natures, and elusive Shiny Pokemon. I wish combat moved at a slightly brisker pace, and breeding and hatching could be more streamlined, but overall, this is a great RPG with an incredible amount of charm and wonderful music. I’m still playing it, even though I’ve started Alpha Sapphire.
    Overall: A
  6. Monument Valley: Forgotten Shores (Android, 1 hour) — A $2 add-on to one of my favorite mobile titles from earlier this year. This installment expands upon the solid ideas established in the first game, and while it is still pretty easy, it’s not as easy as the first game, with some puzzles taking several tries to figure out. Beautiful visuals and sound design round out a memorable, but short experience.
    Overall: A-

So there you have it! 2014 is now over and we’re nearly halfway through January. Thanks for making it through this entire update, and be on the lookout for the next one, which will be my Games of the Year!


I’m loving South Park: The Stick of Truth

It was 1997 when I first saw the original Spirit of Christmas video clip circulating around the office at Interplay. I, like so many of my coworkers, sat there laughing hysterically at these cute little foul-mouthed kids. South Park was gaining some considerable buzz as the TV show was getting ready to premiere later that same year. The rest, as they say, is history.

Throughout its ongoing 17-year run, it has remained popular, and still provides some great laughs and its trademark biting social commentary on world events, celebrities, movies, race, videogames, sports, disabilities, you name it. They are equal opportunity offenders — offending everyone equally — but I usually find myself agreeing with the underlying message of each episode. That’s been a key quality of the show: They know what we’re all thinking, but they’re bold enough to say it. Loudly.

My interest was through the roof in 1999 when Bigger, Longer & Uncut was released, which I just loved (it was a great year for movies in general). The episode Chinpokomon also first aired that year, which is still one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. I haven’t been able to look at anything Pokemon-related in quite the same way ever since!

I started playing The Stick of Truth last week, and it’s been a fantastic game so far. Even though there are characters I’m unfamiliar with and surely references that are going over my head, the core components of what make South Park great are all here. The important qualities that make a successful RPG are also here, courtesy of Obsidian, a developer who knows a thing or two about the genre.

I’m very impressed by the look of the game, which is so convincing that you could swear you’re watching an episode of the show. Controls are crisp, objects you can interact with are clear, and there is a nice variety of activities and quests to complete. Combat requires attention and very good timing, which is similar to the excellent Paper Mario series.

Although I’ll be 40 in less than 4 weeks, this game’s reaffirming the fact that I still love lowbrow, childish humor, and probably always will. It also makes me want to go back and watch the show again, but for now, it’s time to continue my quest as Douchebag.