Backlog Summer: 08.30.2014

The staff reflect on all the games they played this past summer.

By Nintendojo Staff. Posted 08/30/2014 12:00 1 Comment     ShareThis

Welcome to the final installment of Backlog Summer! Over the course of the past ten weeks, the Nintendojo staff have taken a trip through their gaming backlogs, using the slow summer months to play some titles they might not have gotten a chance to the first time around. Now with summer drawing to a close, the staff reflect on all the games they played and offer their final thoughts on their backlog journeys!

Robert Marrujo

What a summer! I can’t remember having read so many books in such a short span of time, with everything from a biography about longtime Oakland A’s radio broadcaster Bill King, to Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane quickly devoured by my suddenly insatiable brain. Of course, the true highlight has been plopping down and playing through a multitude of older video games!

Hands-down, Chibi-Robo got me grinning widest these couple few months. It’s the sort of game that pushes all the right buttons for me, and I wish the industry (and its fans) were more supportive of it. No blood, no guts, just a cheery robot scrubbing floorboards to a brilliant sheen. I enjoyed the latest version on 3DS, but this original still remains the best the series has to offer. Here’s hoping for a Wii U iteration closer to this first outing.

I guess Mega Man ZX surprised me the most. The narrative, specifically, is something I’ve long abhorred in Mega Man titles, but after getting into the Archie Comics series and reading some of the mangas that Udon has put out, I found myself soaking in the story and gaining a new appreciation for it like I never had before. It was no Shakespeare, but it was fun, and it made the adventure all the better.

It’s sad to see summer fading away! This time of year is always synonymous with gaming for me. Whether it was my grandma’s house or long car trips to Reno with my family, playing games was a staple of the season. All my memories have a tinge of Nintendo to them, because its games were a constant. Swimming, drawing, playing video games, reading, watching TV with my grandma– it’s all a whirlwind in my noggin and I cherish every bit of it. Now I have a new one: sharing my summer gaming with Nintendojo’s readers! See you all next summer!

Marc Deschamps

It’s hard to believe summer is already drawing to a close. Fall is certainly in the air, and with it, big changes for me as we await the birth of our first child. As a result, I didn’t always have the kind of video game time I might have liked, but Backlog Summer did give me the perfect excuse to play The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD and I’m grateful for that. Despite its flaws, the GameCube classic really holds up well, and the HD version is certainly superior in every way. While the large amount of sailing and the Triforce Quest can both still be a bit tedious, the improvements Nintendo made helped to ease my earlier frustrations. The game is also freaking gorgeous to look at, so that certainly helps. It was a good game to get me in the mood for Hyrule Warriors, that’s for sure!

It was also nice to spend some time with NES Remix this summer. The game really lives up to the hype! It’s nice to see Nintendo taking a chance on a pretty unique title like this one. The difficulty level probably means it isn’t for everyone, but for old guys like me that actually owned an original NES, it’s a nice trip back down memory lane, with some notable changes, of course. It’s certainly a testament to Nintendo that those games are still fun to play, even if they have been chopped up and changed up. The heart of the original games is still maintained, and I really like that.

Finally, Mario Kart: Super Circuit rounded out the list of games I played this summer, and it was certainly an interesting game to go back to! The gameplay still holds up, but I think I’ll stick with Mario Kart 8 for my racing needs. The GBA iteration is just a little too dusty at this point for my liking. While I can appreciate what an impressive piece of tech this was, we’ve come an awful long way since! Besides, I miss Morton Koopa and the Comet Bike too much when I play!

Backlog Summer was a lot of fun, and I’m happy to hear that we’ll likely make it a yearly feature. Maybe next year I’ll finally have an excuse to give my untouched library of PS3 games a shot. I was hoping to get around to Tales of Symphonia Chronicles, Heavy Rain, or The Walking Dead this summer, but the lure of Nintendo games was a little too strong. One of these days I’ll break them out of their shrink-wrap prisons! Honest!

Nicolas Vestre

Out of the games I managed to get out of my backlog this summer, Professor Layton and the Curious Village was the one that that really resonated with me. After several tries over the years to make progress in the title, I finally stayed for the long haul, and was greatly rewarded for my efforts. No game in recent memory has captivated me like Curious Village, with its endless array of satisfying puzzles and intriguing storyline. So many times over the dozens of hours it took me to finish this gem (I really take my time with puzzles), I told myself, “just one more puzzle, and I’m done for the night.” Not a chance of that happening! You can bet that I’ll devour the next five games in the series (I already own the next three), and I know when I set my teeth into Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, I won’t stop for a moment until I solve all those puzzles and enjoy the excellent story. While I play so many more games in my backlog, I know there will be the time when I can’t take it anymore and I’ll spend a few dozen more hours helping Layton and Luke piece things together.

Sonic the Hedgehog first appeared in my life when I was about six years of age. I had never seen a Sega Genesis before, but my babysitter occasionally had one, and we played the original Sonic on it quite frequently. Needless to say, I wasn’t very good, and it was a miracle if I could get to the end of Marble Zone. Since then, I’ve owned 2D Sonic games in many forms on several devices; heck, I remember paying $70 Canadian for Sonic Mega Collection for GameCube back in the day! Even after shelling out all that cash, I never completed any of the games in the compilation. Over a decade has passed since then, and I’ve finally beaten the original Sonic the Hedgehog! But just getting to the end wasn’t enough– I even amassed six Chaos Emeralds from those bizarre bonus stages and saw the best ending! Memorizing every twist and turn took some time, and it definitely wasn’t a speedy game for me at first. The water levels were beyond frustrating, especially the one just before the final boss, where I lost many lives figuring out where to go and how not to drown.

After that, I diverted my attention to Mega Man 2, where I performed a couple of interesting challenge runs: the buster only and weapons only runs. With the buster only run, no other weapon or item can ever be used unless the game forces it, which it does on several occasions. That means I couldn’t use Item-1 to make the infamous turret boss easier, which is already hard enough on a normal run. It got to the point where I could easily dispatch all the Robot Masters with the buster, which I had to do several times so I could fight Dr. Wily (I got many Game Overs on Wily). After some close calls, I succeeded in what proved to be a very challenging and exciting run!

The weapons only run was a lot easier, but I still fought Metal Man last so it would be more of a challenge. It was a breath of fresh air to be able to use all the Robot Master weapons, and I look forward to trying other runs in the future.

Finally, I completed Sonic the Hedgehog for Game Gear! The physics were much simpler than its Genesis big brother, which actually made the game a lot less frustrating. In the Genesis iteration, being on an incline would drastically affect how Sonic jumped, leading to perilous situations. But in the Game Gear version, it doesn’t really matter too much if you’re on level ground or on an incline. Instead of completing bonus levels for Chaos Emeralds, they were hidden throughout the six zones, which was a refreshing change. There will be many more 2D Sonic games in my future.

Anthony Pershkin

While my journey through Backlog Summer could’ve been slightly more organized and consistent, I still had a lot of fun returning to games long forgotten by me. I think Battalion Wars ended up being my favorite play-through for the sheer level of investment I’ve had fighting the Xylvania. Those vampire weirdos challenged me like no other game in recent years. Perhaps unlocking the last bonus mission was not worth the pain I’ve had to endure, but the taste of victory was still pretty sweet. Even if it didn’t last for very long.

Wario World was another pleasant surprise, despite not containing the energy of its first hours till the very end. Now I can finally say that I’ve seen pretty much everything Treasure has to offer. I hope we’ll see more releases from them in the West, because I know I’m still not the only one with a burning passion for this studio.

Meanwhile, Dracula still sleeps safely in Portrait of Ruin and Link is still lost in the forest in The Minish Cap. And that’s where my Backlog Summer slowly transforms into Backlog Autumn. As you can probably tell, this journey never ends. But it doesn’t mean I won’t remember the summer of 2014. It was a pretty fun ride and I’m sure looking forward to sharing my dumb adventures with you next summer.

Anthony Vigna

It’s been so long that I’m starting to forget what I’ve played! Hmm, let me think for a second…

The one that left the biggest impression on me was Star Fox Adventures. That was a game that I absolutely needed to play again because I completely forgot what the game played like. I have fond memories of playing games in the Star Fox series, but I always held some distaste toward Star Fox Adventures for drastically altering the formula after I waited years for a new game. Once I finished it again this summer, I realized that it wasn’t entirely bad, but it’s still easy to see its many faults. Considering that Fox was made the main character in a last minute decision by Rare, you can tell that the game was rushed for its GameCube launch. But, I’m glad that I played it again to refresh my memory.

I also played The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD to make sure that it was, in fact, the best 3D Zelda game ever created. Turns out, I’m still right on that understandable fact! I dare someone on the staff to challenge me on this.

Next, I played Crimson Shroud. RPGs are often criticized for being too alike, but I never find that to be true. For example, Crimson Shroud’s unique element was its dice mechanics that gave tribute to tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons. I really thought that this was a cool way to make turn-based battles interesting, but the overall experience is held back by pacing issues. Speaking of unique RPGs, I really enjoyed playing Final Lap Twin. The odd mix of racing gameplay with RPG mechanics really hooked me in. Being on the TurboGrafx-16, the game has aged a lot, but I was still able to appreciate the game overall.

There were others that I’ve played, but I feel like these were the most noteworthy. It felt good to finally cross off these games off my backlog list!

What video games did you play through this summer? Which one did you enjoy most? Let us know in the comments section!

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