Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Nature of Luck

I'm very lucky.

It manifests in a few ways; the obvious but often overlooked things like being a western white male with a job and home, having consistent access to current knowledge and technology, having somehow convinced a gorgeous clever sweet woman to marry me...

One of the ways in which I am currently experiencing my luck is in the quality and quantity of presents my family and in-laws provide me. I never really ask for much anymore as there have been too many times where I've got what I asked for and then never used it, but at Emily's insistence I maintain an Amazon wish list to point her family in the right direction. Here's the haul:

  • Lip-shaped soap on a rope
  • "Brain bender" wire puzzle
  • "Play!" Chocolate gamepad
  • Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
  • Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs
  • The Chanur Saga, C. J. Cherryh
  • Nova, Samuel R. Delany
  • "We R Igors" Discworld Diary
  • "Dragon Wars" Volume 1 Parts 1-4
  • Tetris lights
  • Tekken Tag Tournament 2
  • Blood Omen 2: Legacy of Kain
  • Assassin's Creed: Rogue
  • Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl
  • Pokémon Alpha Sapphire
  • Bravely Default
  • Suikoden Tierkreis
  • The Planet Construction Kit, Mark Rosenfelder

I'll also list my wife's presents, because I'm sure I'll get around to the games and books eventually:

  • Pokémon Omega Ruby
  • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors
  • Rooms: The Main Building
  • More Brain Training from Dr Kawashima
  • Martin the Warrior, Brian Jacques
  • Outcast of Redwall, Brian Jacques
  • Mariel of Redwall, Brian Jacques
  • The Witches of Karres, James Schmitz
  • On the Town
  • The Night of the Hunter
  • Rock & Roll Music IQ, C. Dismas Burgess
  • Dragons at Crumbling Castle, Terry Pratchett
  • Mind-Boggling Lateral Thinking Riddles
  • Another chocolate gamepad
  • Maneki Neko

Now is also the traditional time for retrospective. This year hasn't been great; we've both suffered from illness and Emily has mourned for a long time. Thankfully, we've come out of it alive and ready to keep going, so here's to an excellent 2015.

Next year, I resolve to make better use of my time. On too many occasions have I complained of having nothing to do, or too much to do, or of being bored or directionless. It's making it difficult to achieve any of my goals, and I want to become more efficient. To this end I'm putting together a schedule and attempting to stick to it.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Too Busy

It seems like it's been forever since I last posted. I have this terrible habit of spending hours thinking about what I'm going to write and then not actually doing it. To that end, I'm just going to update with all the games I've acquired since last time, then think about it some more.
  • Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise - free on Games With Gold. I know nothing about this series
  • Little Big Adventure - free on GOG. I never got into this series when I was younger, but I do know that it's considered something of a classic. Also, there's a speedrun which beats it in about an hour.
  • Metro 2033 - free on Steam. It's an FPS, has some kind of very depressing setting.
  • Red Faction Guerilla - free on Games With Gold. I have this on Steam already, so I'll probably play that version instead, but still. Free games!
  • The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings - free on GOG. Haven't played the first one yet, but I've seen some footage and it does seem my sort of thing.
Hey, I didn't spend any money on games! I did spend some time on them, though. Here's the results.

Once I got back from America, I decided to start tackling the behemoth Heroes of Might and Magic series. Naturally I started with the first game, and so far I've beaten two missions. Mission 1 is a simple one designed to ease you into the mechanics, as HoMM was pretty revolutionary at the time. Technically the series started with King's Bounty, but that has since spiralled off into its own franchise; I'm not sure how similar they are now. The graphics are pretty good but the spell sounds are starting to grate on me a little. However, Mission 2 beat me up the first time I attempted it; I did a poor job of defending my earlier acquisitions and gradually lost so much ground that it was pointless to carry on. The second time had me recruiting a lot of heroes (I hit the maximum, in fact) in order to stand watch over the many villages I crushed along the way. Also I discovered how broken Dragons are. It seems fun, and I'm told that HoMM3 is considered a high point so I'm looking forward to it.

Iron Man (PS2) has been sitting on my games shelf for a little over two years, so I decided to take it off and actually play it. Being a film tie-in, I didn't expect anything great, but it sufficed. For the first few levels I thought it was impossible to die; I was playing on easy, but I couldn't even find anything in the interface suggesting a health bar. A few further missions in, the game decided to disabuse me of that notion by cramming the entire level full of dudes with missile launchers, and it actually became kind of fun. There was some hiccoughs along the way, but I beat the entire game in one sitting. Considering I got it for the low price of 'free', I guess I got my money's worth. Might speedrun it one day. A nice addition is that Robert Downey Jr. actually provided voice acting for the game.

I had been itching to try out The Lord of The Rings: The Third Age ever since I spotted it in the shop, so I pulled it out and excitedly spent 20 minutes trying to get Emily's NTSC PS2 to run it. Finally I got started, and it crashed after another 20 minutes of gameplay. Thankfully it's been fine after that. The game is essentially a side-story to the film series where you lead your own not-a-fellowship consisting of a Gondorian, Rivendell elf, Dunedain and Dwarf (and more later I guess). Currently my goal is to find Boromir, so I imagine that won't end well. Third Age plays like Final Fantasy X; the battle system is almost identical, which is not a bad thing. Graphics are fine, I like how party members go RARRRR when they get buffs/heals cast on them, the strategy is fun but a little easy so far, it's all good. Also, there's this secondary mode where you can play as the bad guys in a series of fights - a good addition, because the combat is obviously the strongest part. Killing The Watcher in the Water was an amusing aside. I wonder if we also end up killing the Witch King and Sauron himself. Maybe even Saruman. That would be fun.

Emily's family are visiting England again, so a fair amount of my time from now on will be spent with them, but I did manage to spend a couple of hours playing Kuri Kuri Mix / The Adventures of Cookie and Cream with my faithful coop partner. We ploughed through Music World and Trick World but Magical World is ending up being a real headache; there's a section on level 1 which seems to demand an incredibly precise jump, and if you've seen that game, precision does not enter into it. Hopefully we'll manage to get past and finish that level so we can never see it again.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Englishman no longer in New York, part 2

And... for some reason Emily's dad decided to buy a PlayStation 3. So, that's going to be staying in America so it doesn't paralyse me with yet another choice of games to play. Here's what we have for it so far.
  • Assassin's Creed and Assassin's Creed II - yes I know I already have them, but Emily's sister wants to see me play through the series
  • The Last Of Us - pack-in game, heard it's good
  • Batman: Arkham Origins - also pack-in, I've actually heard this is the worst one of the series so far, but it's a good introduction because it's a prequel and I'm not tired of the combat yet
  • Ico / Shadow of the Colossus HD - yessss
  • Heavy Rain - Emily wants to see it


Englishman no longer in New York

That's right, Emily and I are back from visiting her parents. I acquired a zillion games there. I'll post about them right now, and then write another post on events there. When I remember.

First of all, birthday presents!
  • Project X Zone (3DS) - had my eye on it for a while
  • Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS) - wanted to get into the series for a long time
  • Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS) - this is actually Emily's present, but I'm sure I'll play it eventually
Then, did some shopping of my own.
  • Earth Defense Force 2025 (360) - bought to play with Emptyeye, I thoroughly enjoyed 2017
  • Suikoden (PS1) - finally! been trying to get more of the series for ages
  • Suikoden III (PS2) - yay
  • Mass Effect 2 (360) - finished the first game sometime last year, want to continue the plot
  • The Lord of the Rings: Tactics (PSP) - heard fairly good things about this
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age (PS2) - I like RPGs
  • Legion: The Legend of Excalibur (PS2) - like I said
Oh also free games.
  • Darksiders II (360) - currently playing through the first game
  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (360) - yep

Split into second post for tags.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Mobile Mobile Gaming

Currently in America! I have eaten a bagel every morning and that makes me at least 5% happier than usual.

Before I left, I played through Deadlight, which isn't very long, but still quite fun. Gameplay is a simple mix of gunplay and platformer 'puzzle' solving, with a reasonably fleshed-out backstory. I collected a bunch of optional things, but not everything, so one day I'm sure I'll go back and look for them. Think of it as a smaller, less silly version of Shadow Complex. Also you get achievements for doing pretty much anything.

Google emailed me to say that the free store credit I got for buying my Nexus 7 was about to run out, so I bought a few games on Play to use it up:
  • Tales of Illyria: Fallen Knight - don't know much about this, but it has very good reviews
  • Warhammer 40,000: Carnage - more about this in a sec
  • QuestLord - a dungeon crawler, beaten this already
  • Dragon Quest - yes the mobile port of the original, trying to get mad RPG cred yo
  • Assassin's Creed: Pirates - actually free, but got it at the same time
QuestLord was pretty cool; not terribly complicated, but a fun romp, and definitely worth $2. Plot is simple but fairly well written, and there's a surprising amount of lore hanging around waiting to be looked at. The challenge ramps up at the end and necessitates different strategy, and the three different races have different starting areas, so I think once I beat all three I'll mark it as Complete. It does also have 'Quick Games', which are premade characters placed in random dungeons, but they seem unnecessarily difficult, I'll try again later. Might be worth speedrunning if I can capture Android video.

Warhammer 40,000: Carnage is a run and gun. It's competently made, but quite repetitive. I'm onto the second map right now and I'm definitely starting to get tired of the gameplay. I'm ignoring the pay-to-win aspect with it as I do with any other game of this nature, which makes some of the levels fairly challenging to obtain high ranks on, so there is that, but my tablet seems to be a little too old to play it optimally - the chugging often results in my getting hit or falling off a ledge. Also, touchscreen controls just don't work terribly well with action games; it's just too easy for your thumbs to slip slightly out of the button press ranges. I think I'll try to beat every level and then put it down.

Aside from this, GOG has a Ubisoft sale on right now, so I couldn't help but buy more games. This list is going to get a bit repetitive.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic: A Strategic Quest
  • Heroes of Might and Magic II: Gold
  • Heroes of Might and Magic IV: Complete
  • Heroes of Might and Magic V: Bundle
  • Heroes Chronicles: All Chapters
Yeah, that's a lot of HoMM to play through. If you're wondering why III isn't there, I bought it a few days ago.

Monday, 22 September 2014


More than a month? I must have been busy.

A lot of my time recently has been taken up by developing a game; it doesn't have a name yet, and it's not ready for public consumption in any metric, but it's coming along and I'm enjoying stretching myself. I've never written a 3D game engine before, so there's a lot of learning to do. I'm also unsure how efficiently I'm doing things, so I hope the engine will continue to chug along nicely even as the game world gets more complex.

Of course, this wouldn't be a Lag.Blag post without a bunch of new games.
  • Neutopia (VC) because Emily wanted another Zelda game
  • Dungeon Explorer (VC) as I wanted another dungeon crawler
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms IV: Wall of Fire (VC) because I don't own enough strategy games already
  • Tropico 4 and associated DLC (PC) as I liked Tropico 3 despite not playing it much yet
  • Tales of Maj'Eyal (PC) it's a roguelike
  • Dishonored (360) it was free
  • Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine (360) it was free
  • Warlock - Master of the Arcane (PC) it was free
  • Anvil of Dawn (PC) GOG sale
  • Heroes of Might and Magic III and associated expansions (PC) GOG sale
  • Receiver (PC) it was free
  • Halo: Reach (360) it was free
I've played a little Wall of Fire. So far I managed to throw my units uselessly at Gongsun Zan and get destroyed. Might need to read a little about the strategy of this game before I play it again.

Also, I've finally beaten Nier! I had been suspecting 'the twist' for some time so it didn't come as a huge shock, though I was already fairly numb after the constant soul-crushing nature of the plot until this point. You're obviously meant to keep playing after beating it, though. To that end, I've started the next game but I haven't got too far yet.

I picked up Eternal Quest almost two years ago on a whim and finally got around to playing it a few weeks ago. It's a simple roguelike, with (unnecessarily) flashy graphics, but some rather bizarre additional mechanics. The most confusing is the Jewels command, which fully depletes your mana bar (which rises by killing stuff) to deploy a bunch of damage-over-time traps on the tiles around you, depending on how much mana you had. It also removes any 'Possession' effects you might have until now - they (otherwise) permanently increase your level by one at the cost of doing you damage occasionally. Yeah, I don't know either. It didn't take too long to beat, maybe 6 hours. Might speedrun it one day.

Diablo III has sat unplayed for some time. I pre-ordered it and wasn't particularly enthused when I finally got it; it wasn't the massive disappointment that Final Fantasy XIII was, but something seemed missing. I revisited it recently and found it pleasant enough to beat, though again nothing special. For a title with such a long development cycle and gigantic amount of work behind it, I still find it very underwhelming. The biggest single fault I could point to is the lack of customisation, though I do like that the swapping-skills system encourages you to play around with combinations. It's just mindless fun (for a few hours) but nothing you'd want to pour your life into like Diablo II.

You saw Halo: Reach on the list up there, and I've already beaten it. I don't really count myself as much of a Halo gamer or fan but I have beaten the first three titles on Legendary (in coop) on other people's consoles. In fact, I beat Halo 2 before I even had a Live Gamertag, so unfortunately Halo Waypoint isn't picking it up. I decided that trying solo Legendary would be a waste of time, so I compromised with Heroic. To be honest, I didn't find it very much fun; the plot is risible and the dialogue is chock full with military nonsense that made me want to skip the cutscenes, though I didn't. The gameplay itself is Halo, again, which is fine, but I felt like the variety in firefights wasn't as interesting as the previous games. Several times I felt like I'd already beaten the mission I was on, and near the end of the game it made me re-take a position I'd already conquered from a different direction, which was just dull. The ending with the cannon also confused me for a long time, as dying seemed inevitable. Took the stupid measure of simply waiting by the cannon until asked to fire, then getting in and firing. Overall, disappointing.

In non-gaming news, Emily and I will be travelling back to America in a few days! It's been a long time, because of Emily's right-to-stay application, but finally I'll be back to eating bagels every morning and actually playing on my 2DS. It will also be a pleasure to see Marc and Jess again, and possibly even stream some gaming/speedrunning with them! Ah, I said it was non-gaming news.

Monday, 11 August 2014

The Hour Of My Return Is Already Overlate

It's been a while since I posted here, because I'm dumb. No navel-gazing this time, just going to be talking about games.

Recent acquisitions:
  • Ordered Samurai Warriors 2: Empires from CeX literally months ago, they finally got around to sending it. More Musou!
  • Some free with Xbox Live Gold games: Gotham City Impostors, Battleblock Theater, AirMech Arena, Motocross Madness, Warface. I know very little about most of these, but I have seen Battleblock Theater before and it looks like a laugh.
  • Somehow I managed to win a copy of Soul Blazer from the last Crystals For Life, so... now I have that, too.
  • Nintendo saw fit to give me a free game of my choice (from a short list) so I plumped for Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. Stay tuned for more on that, later in this post.
  • They also gave everybody Steel Diver: Sub Wars so I guess that's new too.

I started playing Darksiders - it is pretty fun as I had guessed. However, it is depressing seeing how every mechanic in the game is lifted from another game; is there not one original idea in the entire thing? I hope so, because it is getting predictable. I just got Ruin, the horse, so at least it won't take forever to get around any more.

Played a few campaigns of Warriors Orochi 2 now, the storyline is bizarre and pointless as always. I don't know many of the Samurai Warriors characters yet, so there are new faces every campaign, which is nice. Got quite a few generals I enjoy playing as so far - Zuo Ci is still overpowered as all get out. Still got Wu and the Orochi campaigns left to do.

Much progress is being made on the Spiderweb Software front; I beat Geneforge 2! That is, I beat it by leaving the place to fend for itself, then I continued to play it and actually beat it properly. I went with the Awakened path (again) despite initially starting out Loyalist, because Emily hated it when I chose the options that were mean to the serviles! I think this instalment is an improvement on the prequel; all of the factions (except the Barzites) are nuanced and have enough supporting rhetoric that joining them seems like a logical choice. It really does just depend on what kind of character you want to play. I've since started playing Geneforge 3, but I haven't got too far yet. I'll talk about that in another post.

I've had this PS2 fighting game sat on my shelf for a long time without playing, so I thought I'd pull it off and beat it. The game is Spectral Vs Generation and it is a very Guilty Gear-inspired piece, but with lower quality graphics; some research indicates that it is essentially a port of a PSP game, so I understand that. It's fun, nothing special, the characters are all typical anime fare, end boss is overpowered, the usual. I played as Kryce, a 'dude with sword' character with a bunch of mix-up dash things. His combos were relatively easy so I breezed through until the last guy, who is unironically named "Holy God Earth". Very annoying fight; many rounds came very close as I managed to knock him out of some of the more unsafe animations, but it took maybe half an hour for me to actually win! Might look back at it again sometime, maybe beat it with every character for the 'Completed' state on Backloggery.

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins was a surprise addition to my collection; it was something to do with having a Club Nintendo account for a certain amount of time? The other games on the list I'd either played or had absolutely no interest in. I'm not the biggest Mario fan, though I definitely enjoyed Super Mario Bros. 3 back in the day, so I decided to give this one a shot. It has a hub structure which allows you to finish the levels/zones in whichever order you wish, so there isn't a difficulty curve as such. I feel like some of the zones are trickier than others, but it's a very close thing. I found a couple of secret exits, but probably not all of them (not sure if this is actually tracked in-game). Rushed through all the zones without much problem, but after you do all six zones there's a last level which is way, way harder than the rest of the game. Again, this level alone (and the multiple-stage boss at the end of it) took me about 30 minutes by itself. Not a bad game, but I am glad it was free.

It sounds like a lot of activity, but it really isn't, because a lot of my free time has been spent playing that destroyer of careers, World of Warcraft. My main character is firmly in the Mists of Pandaria endgame now, working on Flexible raiding. I still enjoy it despite the repetition; it does help that I have a couple of toons just reaching Wrath of the Lich King content on the way too, so I can swap between them if I get tired of waiting 3 hours for another raid party.

No progress on any speedruns, I'm afraid. I'm still interested in running every game ever but I'm finding it very hard to actually pick one to go with. Either Blaze & Blade or Klonoa 2 sounds likely because they have the most planning done of any of the runs I want to do.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014


I don't really fit in this world.

That is, I don't enjoy being here. I hate the obsession with appearance and oneupmanship and conformity. It is physically paining to put up with perceived injustice around me every day.

Let me give you an example. While riding the bus home yesterday I was surrounded by people having their own conversations, and it was pretty full so I had to sit next to someone else. Being an introvert by nature, being around so many people at once makes me feel uncomfortable and indeed, unnecessary. My hearing also isn't particularly good; since youth I've had problems which stopped me from learning how to ride a bike, and I had grommets in my ears for some time. Anyway, it is a struggle to hear even someone next to me, as the other voices disorient me.

I also hate repetition. Irrational though it is, I feel personally slighted when I have to say something twice or more - am I not interesting enough to listen to? Combined with my small ego, it makes me second-guess myself and I often end up holding my own counsel instead of trying to say what I think. So I don't like asking others to repeat themselves either, despite knowing they probably don't suffer from the same neuroses as I.

I've never been diagnosed with any kind of mental problem, but then again I haven't exactly been diagnosed a lot for anything. When I was 15 I had enormous problems with migraines that remain unexplained. The usual candidate would be stress (with school) but I honestly never felt much pressure because I'm quite strong with academics. I did get bullied (intelligent, pale, freckled, red hair, loquacious) but it really wasn't too bad.

This post hasn't actually born much relation to how I wanted it to come out. I guess that kind of thing is symptomatic of ADHD but I am loathe to claim it for many reasons.

I'll continue this topic later.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The continuation

Only a few Steam Sale games left:
  • Europa Universalis IV with Conquest of Paradise - again, Paradox strategy games
  • Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition and Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition - makes me feel a little sad to also have the originals on GOG, but this will be more convenient for showing Emily
  • Shadowrun Returns because it seems like a faithful successor
Just to make sure I will never, ever finish my Backloggery I also bought a few games at CeX again:
  • Darksiders - looks fun, if not groundbreaking
  • Gauntlet: Dark Legacy - one of those cult classics
  • Warriors Orochi 2 - finally got mailed to me
Also, free stuff:
  • Magrunner: Dark Pulse was free for a while on GOG
  • Saints Row: The Third was one of the Xbox Live free games, and I certainly enjoyed Saints Row II
  • Charlie Murder is another free one
  • as is Gotham City Impostors
Post containing actual content to come soonish.

Steam Summer Sale

I have a lot of things to write about, so let's get the boring list out of the way. THANKS STEAM
  • Rajas of India and Sons of Abraham for Crusader Kings II - as slow and sometimes empty as these games are, I still love playing them
  • Avernum: Escape from the Pit and Nethergate: Resurrection and Avadon 2: The Corruption because they were the only modern Spiderweb Software games I didn't already own
  • The Stanley Parable because I have only heard good things about it
  • Age of Empires II HD and Age of Empires III Complete - I never got into this game series but again it gets a lot of praise
  • Risk of Rain - Emily likes the look of it and we can play co-op!
  • Rogue Legacy - wanted this since it came out
  • Sword of the Stars: The Pit with The Pilgrim because roguelike
And I ran out of tag space. See you in a moment.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

And Another Thing...

  • AvernumAvernum 2Avernum 3Avernum 4Avernum 5Avernum 6, Blades of Avernum because Spiderweb Software are practically my idols. I must finish Geneforge. MUST.
  • DROD 1 + 2 + 3, heard a lot of good things about this series. Also that it is really hard.
  • To the Moon because I like crying at games.
In case you're wondering why this is a separate post - Blogger wouldn't let me put all the Labels in one post, hah.

No Restraint Whatsoever

So this week's Humble Bundle is too good. This also combined with our latest CeX outing to produce a formidable list of new games.
  • Dynasty Warriors 7 and Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce to feed Emily's growing Musou obsession.
  • Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen because I've heard it's good and also because it contains the original game, seems like a deal to me.
  • Wizardry VI: Bane of the Cosmic Forge, Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant and Wizardry 8, because I love dungeon crawlers and I hate myself.
  • The 7th Guest and The 11th Hour because they were part of the bundle, but also because Emily might not quite remember all of the solutions like I do.
  • Harvester ahahaha
  • I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream because Harlan Ellison.
  • System Shock 2 is excellent but I've never actually played it before! More Looking Glass Games, hell yeah.
  • Dust: An Elysian Tail, this half-month's free Xbox Live title.
Aside from this ridiculous slew, I have also been playing games. First I'll talk a little more about Nier. The game just keeps getting weirder! I thoroughly enjoyed the Forest of Myth section. I also kind of liked Facade but I wish the message hadn't been so obvious and heavy-handed. Just got past a major plot point and the game just gets more intriguing. Also now I can use spears, so I can dodgeroll-spearthrust repeatedly to move really fast, speedrunning woooo

You saw Dynasty Warriors 7 up there but I've actually had it for a while and I've played a lot of it. 30 hours, even! I've beaten all 4 campaigns and I've taken a decent bite out of the Conquest mode. It's a lot of fun as usual, the stories of the Three Kingdoms are told well (and also spoiling me for the rest of the book, which I'm still reading, lol spoilers for historical events). Not sure how much I like the "pause time to wait for the beginning of the Musou animation" thing, but I do like how they hang in midair waiting for you to wreck them.

Also finally started playing Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light. Seems okay, though it also looks like it's aiming very carefully at the 'tried and tested JRPG' target, which makes me a little sad. Hope it picks up, plot has been not-quite-eyeroll-worthy so far.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014


Before I get into the meat of the post, I'll just mention that I picked up Deadlight because it's one of those free Games with Gold. I don't know anything about it.

I spoke a little about Assassin's Creed IV: Freedom Cry last time, and since then I've beaten it. In fact, I've completed it, having rescued hundreds of slaves and achieved all the achievements. I certainly enjoyed the whole thing, though there was one particular mission that I must have spent about an hour and a half on, just to get the 100% sync criteria, because it failed to register the first time. At least it wasn't totally broken like the King Washington DLC. Definitely worth picking up if you enjoy the series, and I thoroughly enjoyed the part on the sinking ship, it was very well orchestrated.

I'll also talk a little more about Nier. I gave up on doing the annoying side-quests and just rushed headlong into the plot, and it is making me enjoy the game more. I still don't understand the point of Kainé's clothing, and I hope there is one, because otherwise it's just a ridiculously lampshaded design choice. Game is fun, plot is interesting, keep it coming.

Been doing a little bit of speedrunning lately. Unfortunately due to events outside of my control I'm not going to be attending Crystals for Life this year. However, I still hope to join in during the bonus stream portion and do the two games I was meant to. To that end, I've been doing some more attempts at Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness. The start is tricky; I need to get a Blaster in my initial dumping-of-money-in-a-pond and the chances of that happening aren't too bad (50%) but the need for a decent farming point in the first dungeon is paramount and the chance of that happening is difficult to measure but from experience minute. I did manage to actually get a run to the end but it was slower than my current PB (45:17) so not much to report really. The five Create scrolls I bought for the last fight didn't work at all... a quick perusal at my disassembly of the game's code did not reveal a reason why: either being a Cleric or having an Intelligence above 90 should guarantee the spell's success. Blah!

Second speedrunning game is Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires! Emily has much enjoyed slapping thousands of Chinamen to death so I suggested we try running through the game quickly and this happened. Now, those are only first attempts and could benefit from a bunch more planning (and not losing battles) but it has still been fun and I look forward to improving them. Unfortunately it's rather annoying to stream/record right now because I don't really want to use composite video; the in-game map is blurry enough on HDMI. Maybe someday, but for now they are 'records' without videos behind them.

Final game to mention is El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. I knew virtually nothing about this game other than "it is weird" when I bought it for cheap. Now I've beaten the damn thing and I still know almost nothing about it, other than it is beautiful and definitely worth whatever I paid. The combat (modelled on Devil May Cry) is fun, though a little difficult to specify exactly what move you want. The visuals are spectacular; I had more than a few moments where I thought I was playing Klonoa again, especially during the sideways platforming sections. It's an excellent game, truly different, yet does not seem to have much exposure. I would very much like to speedrun at least individual levels of the game.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Cing Visual Novels Review: Glass Rose

Glass Rose is a point-and-click adventure/mystery game for the PlayStation 2, released in 2003. It was developed by Cing, and I desperately wanted to play it as soon as I learned of its existence.

You play Takashi Kagetani, a reporter investigating a series of unexplained murders that happened over seventy years ago. As you and your girlfriend, Emi Katagiri, visit the mansion where the murders took place, you are suddenly whisked into two separate time continuums--you, to a three-day span during the murders, and Emi to an unexplained time. You then proceed to investigate and interview everyone residing in the mansion, fitting in quite well as you apparently look identical to someone named Kazuya Nanase, the son of the first murder victim.

The quest for all of Cing's story games

Though I am rather late to say so, considering they are now defunct, Cing is one of my favourite game development studios. I didn't even know they existed until 2008, and unfortunately they were bankrupt by 2010. Since they can no longer make them, I have made it a personal mission to play and review all of their story games in a set of posts on this blog.

So, why Cing? It all started with Hotel Dusk: Room 215. I first noticed it for sale at a local department store in the summer of 2008. The artwork on the front cover was enough to make me curious. I didn't quite know what to expect from the game, but what I received, I was thrilled with. I love mystery novels, and this was essentially a playable one. I found myself enamoured with the main character, Kyle Hyde, and all the supporting characters as well. The world felt alive, and the story was intriguing, with many intertwining plot threads. Despite Hotel Dusk being a story game (and therefore not having much intrinsic "replay value"), I've played it to completion three separate times.

Fast-forward to 2011, before Paul and I were married. I came to visit him for the month of May to make sure that we'd be compatible living together. We visited a game store, and as I perused the DS games, I noticed the cover of one adorned with a character not unlike the protagonist from Hotel Dusk. Lo and behold, it was Last Window: The Secret of Cape West, and the character depicted was indeed Kyle Hyde! (And lucky for me that I happened to see it there--the English localization of this game was only released in Europe. Being an American, I hadn't even known there was a sequel!) I immediately purchased it, and finished within the week. The new cast was as richly designed as the first, and the plot revealed more to us about Kyle's life before the games. I was fascinated, wondering if a third game could be in the works... which is when I discovered, sadly, Cing would never make games again.

I'll start in the next post with a review of the next Cing game I managed to find, Glass Rose. It seems to be a fitting start to this series, as it was their first game. I will then replay and post reviews of Hotel Dusk and Last Window. To finish my quest, I will need to obtain Another Code: Two Memories (a.k.a. Trace Memory in the USA), Another Code: R - A Journey into Lost Memories, and Again.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Mixed Bag

Well, it's been quite some time since I bothered to write something. Here's a mammoth update!

Firstly, I started to play Nier. Gameplay-wise, it's fairly standard mash-buttons-until-things-die fare so far. Where the game is really standing out is its setting; it is relentlessly gloomy and I'm forever getting the feeling that everything is going to explode at some point, or more likely just slowly die out with nobody left to care. I'm looking forward to playing more of the plot; the game is full of these bring a thing to a place sidequests which are starting to wear me down, and don't even start with the fishing.

Next in my handy-dandy Backloggery memory card is Glass Rose. Emily wanted to pick this up because it was developed by Cing, the now-defunct company that made Hotel Dusk and some other story-based games. Since then, we've played through it unlocking all four endings! It's trivial to unlock three from one save file if you know what you're doing, but getting the fourth basically requires an extra playthrough. I'm not quite sure what to say about this one... it has a bizarre premise and some nice twists and turns, but the writing and voice acting is so badly done that it's difficult to really get into. Also, the controls are pretty bad and much more suited towards a mouse (or a touchscreen). Might ask Emily to write some further comments on here, because I think she could have a few things to say.

Finally I beat Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. I say 'finally' because I've only been playing this while at my parents' house, because my mother enjoys watching me play through these games. I've yelled at the game a few times for its risible sailing sections, but it's still pretty fun and I particularly enjoyed the ending, which just adds to the series's mysticism and overall nonsense. This led me to begin the DLC, Freedom Cry. I haven't done much yet, but I have rescued a bunch of slaves, and again this is more fun than Black Flag because you don't sail as much! Adéwalé plays almost identically to Edward (although he does have a machete like Aveline) so it was easy to jump right in, but he is much more sympathetic. I really hope that the next AC game has no sailing. Or anything related to vehicles at all.

Caved in and bought Crusader Kings II and a bunch of discounted DLC a little while ago. I've always had a healthy dollop of respect for Paradox for bringing such incredibly detailed and dry strategy games to a somewhat large market, but until now I've only owned Europa Universalis III. I played as an Italian Duke named, uh, Ezio Auditore. Spent a long time trying to increase my territory a little without angering anyone major, but I made a few mis-steps and didn't really gain much, then Gavelkind ruined everything. So I started again as a Welsh Count named Cadwgan ap Meurig. He hasn't done much, but he has fought off the Irish and managed to make some important alliances, as well as installing a courtier as the Duke of Deheubarth, which he hopes to have his successor inherit. I changed the succession law to Tanistry because it seems fun.

Finally there's a few games to add to my collection, because OF COURSE THERE IS.

  • Hitman: Absolution was free with Xbox Live Gold (mine is actually expiring soon, not sure if I'll renew it until the next free game is released) and apparently is a bit more user-friendly than the previous instalments, so I'll try it out.
  • Warriors Orochi 2 and Samurai Warriors 2: Empires are both on the way from CeX, because Emily has gone nuts after playing Samurai Warriors: Chronicles and Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires and wants more of the same.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014


Emily persuaded me to buy some games because they were cheap. What is going on?

  • Nier, because everybody says it's quite good and really sad, and what I need are more sad 360 games in my life.
  • The Darkness II, because the previous game in the series was excellent.
Other than this, gameplaying has been a secondary concern to Emily trying to get a permanent Visa for UK residence. This means she'll never have to renew her existing one, which is nice, and it's also a step to becoming a full citizen once that's possible.

However, I have started Nier and I'm not sure what to think of it just yet. The prologue took forever because I unwisely chose the Hard difficulty and everything takes forever to die. I might change it to Easy on this save if possible, and if not just start again, because I'm not too far in. It's standard action RPG fare so far, although there are the hints of massive tragedy in the air.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Liberation and Conworlding

It took me three days to beat Assassin's Creed: Liberation HD, and I had a lot of fun. It plays quite similarly to Assassin's Creed III, but has the higher pace and more immediate connection to the plot that Assassin's Creed and Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines have - in short, I wish the main entries in the series were more like this! There were some frustrations; Aveline seems very happy to randomly jump off things rather than making safe movements, and some of the 100% Sync criteria are very arbitrary and random to achieve. I like the story; again, I knew nothing about this period and location, so it was quite instructive for me. Aveline really comes off as torn between two worlds, and while Abstergo's manipulation of the truth might be quite simple, I like how little needed to be edited out in order to achieve their goal of whitewashing. Recommended, for sure. Enjoyed it a lot more than I'm enjoying Black Flag!

There is a slightly darker side, though. Emily pointed out one of this game's central mechanics is changing outfits; Aveline can swap between 'Lady', an aristocratic puffy dress thing that removes most of your killing potential, 'Assassin', where you're... an assassin, and 'Slave', where you are punished more severely for publicly offensive acts. Note that this is also the only Assassin's Creed game where you play a female character. Is this sexist? It's an interesting mechanic and one Emily and I would like to see in a more prominent game; Liberation was originally only for the Vita, and it might not be a coincidence that the main character is a black woman. Now, the Vita version did not sell particularly badly, so I hope this is actually just a sign that Ubisoft is considering more widely varied main characters. It would be interesting to see some sales data, as there has historically been this concept that male gamers do not like to play female protagonists, unless they are super sexy all the time. Aveline is certainly attractive, but is almost always completely covered up and certainly doesn't act like a femme fatale.

In some non-gaming news (sort of), I've began working a little more seriously on Craze, the fantasy world I've had in mind for many years now. Originally it was the setting to a game, also called Craze, but I spend so much time thinking about it that I really want to flesh it out and make it consistent. To this end I've acquired several books by Mark Rosenfelder, who has a real talent for explaining things that should be obvious. I already had it in mind that creating a world, complete with at least 5 different cultures, was going to be a massive pile of work, but his books more clearly lay out all the different things that have to be thought about, it's very useful. Maybe I'll also eventually write that game - I have a JRPG-style thing in mind but with a lot of branching paths and the ability to play as your own character as well as 'the hero'.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Washington Revisited

Before I get into the games I've actually been playing, here's a short list of acquisitions:
  • Got Sid Meier's Civlization Revolution via Games with Gold
  • Got Toy Soldiers: Cold War via Games with Gold
  • Emily bought me Avadon: The Black Fortress for Valentine's Day
My patience with Final Fantasy Anniversary Edition's final bonus dungeon has started to wear thin, so I decided to get started on Final Fantasy II Anniversary Edition. Emptyeye had prepared me a little for how the game works, so I was all ready to beat the snot out of my own characters, but I haven't really needed to do that too much yet. However, I have got into a few fights specifically to level my character's Magic and MP stats. Right now I'm in Mysidia, trying to figure out how on earth to get out of Mysidia without dying to random encounters.

I also randomly started playing Battle Isle on a whim. I remember when I was 12 or something I bought this Battle Isle Platinum collection which had much of the entire series in it, including the expansion to Incubation which I never had. Now I'm finally getting round to playing them, and the first BI is okay so far. Annoyingly enough I had to look up a password to even get to start playing the single player vs. AI levels, and I've played a couple without any trouble. My first attempt at the mission 'EVOTY' resulted in abject failure, so I might need to rethink it a bit.

The major success story of the last couple of days is beating the entire Assassin's Creed III DLC called The Tyranny of King Washington. I knew it wasn't very long, but because of my problems beating the first instalment (bug preventing one of the later missions being beatable) I was eager to rush through and just do the story missions, in case something similar happened. Not so, and I was able to destroy most of the expansion pack with no problem. To that end, I decided to get 100% Sync on every mission, which meant I needed to reload checkpoint quite a few times, but it wasn't too bad. The plot itself is interesting, though Washington is such a terrible and unrepentant figure he's kind of one-dimensional. Worth the season pass.

I've also finally started practising Ultima Underworld for Crystals for Life. Done a few runs through, my current best is 22:10, far away from the current record of 17:25 which uses the same route. I still have a lot of work to do, and even more to learn the sequel, which I've never speedrun before. So many people are starting to drop out of the marathon, I'm wondering if there are going to be 9 hours spare for me to do Dark Cloud...

Monday, 10 February 2014

Dark Darkness

Not as much gaming went on this past few days, because I had to do work and stuff. However, I did still find time to beat a game and a DLC.

Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012: Ascend into Darkness is the ridiculously long title of the DLC, which I mentioned last post. This adds a campaign and three new decks to play - Liliana Vess's awful Black discard deck, Ral Zarek's awful Red/Blue control deck and Ajani Goldmane's awful Green/White enchantress deck. I played each of them for the requisite one victory each, because as you can see I don't consider them very highly. The campaign has two duels each with the new planeswalkers, and then a series of Archenemy matches where you're the Archenemy! This makes the game extremely easy, because it's simple to win when you're putting gobs of creature tokens on the field and deploying your deck as fast as you can draw it. Took another 8 hours or so. I did enjoy the puzzles in this campaign; figuring out the board position in Archenemy is a lot more complicated.

The other game I beat is one of the first Xbox 360 games I bought: The Darkness! I'm not sure why I've been putting it off for so long - the brief part I'd played earlier really interested me, but for some reason it's taken years to get back onto it again. I love this game, I think it's one of the best stories I've ever seen in a game, let alone an FPS. Mike Patton's performance as The Darkness is incredible, and he does his very best to unnerve the player. The gunplay is frantic, though if you take your time and shoot all the lights out, it becomes a game of ducking quickly in and out of dark areas to refresh your shield. Not too difficult (on Normal difficulty), I didn't do many sidequests, I did find a bunch of collectables, would like to speedrun some day.

I have Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light in my 2DS to play next, but I haven't started yet. I also really need to get practicing (and streaming) some Ultima Underworld 1 & 2.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Pokémon in space playing cards

More games to report on!

First is Pokémon X. I really enjoyed this but throughout I had the nagging feeling that it was far too easy. It's hard to pin down exactly why I felt this, but the re-introduction of 'EXP.ALL' probably goes a long way toward it, as well as Mega Evolution. Here's my hall of fame:

Nocturne SIGILYPH Lv. 73 OT/Lag.Com
Shyvana TYRANTRUM Lv. 71 OT/Lag.Com
Maokai VENUSAUR Lv. 72 OT/Lag.Com
Ahri DELPHOX Lv. 72 OT/Lag.Com
Tryndamere DOUBLADE Lv. 73 OT/Lag.Com
Tibbers PANGORO Lv. 72 OT/Lag.Com

Yes I know the genders don't match up with the character names, shut up. I had an extremely wide type coverage; the only type I really missed was something Electric to deal with Gyarados, but it went fine and almost every battle was simple. Also, Maokai would have been a much better name for a Trevenant. Maybe Zyra for the Venusaur?

Next is a DLC, Gratuitous Space Battles: The Outcasts. I've no idea when I acquired this, as I got most of the content for GSB at the same time, but whatever. Each DLC gives you an additional 2 battles to think your way through, but my existing ship designs were enough to get through these new ones. However, I didn't do it with a large amount of Honour, the in-game currency you get for being frugal with your loadouts. I have bought every single upgrade though, so I don't mind too much. If I really wanted to make sure GSB and all its content is Completed, I'd have to beat every mission on Hard, which sounds... difficult. I had another brief attempt at the Galactic Conquest campaign but it just wasn't happening.

Other than that, I thought I'd have a crack at Magic the Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012. As I may have mentioned before, this is Wizards of the Coast's introductory a level Magic series and it plays quite pleasantly. The decks are all reasonably balanced, except Karn's, which has Mox Sapphire and Tinker in it. Along with the list of opponents to beat, it also has optional 'challenges', which are insane play setups you have to solve. The first few are insultingly easy, with solutions like 'block, then attack', but some of them are interesting, with many interlocking effects on the board at once. Anyway, I played through all three campaigns (one of which showcases Archenemy, an insane 3v1 game mode) using various decks, mostly the Treefolk one. I do have the expansion campaign Ascend into Darkness yet to beat.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

First Parts

Only three games beaten since last time; work slows things down a bit on that front.

The Walking Dead - Episode 1 was free on Xbox Live some time ago, so of course I picked it up, and now I've gone through it. I've heard a lot about how good it is, so I had high hopes, which were quickly fulfilled. It's difficult to for games to really create emotion in their players, but Telltale have done a good job here, immediately drawing me in with an amazing opening. Some of the emotion seems a little easily manufactured, but other than that I was happy to play through the couple of hours in this episode and I'd like to pick up the rest sometime. It may even be on sale soon, what with the second season coming out right now.

The other game I beat is Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness, which I started dabbling with sometime last year. Decided it was time to actually finish it, and then all of a sudden it was over. When you boil it down, the game is actually quite simple, with only a few steps in the goals you need to do. I like to compare it to the original Final Fantasy, as a good counter-example to the ridiculous WRPG/JRPG wars that rock the internet occasionally. Both games let you gather the gems/crystals in pretty much whatever order you want. Maybe FF could have done with a first person space simulation too? Maybe not. Anyway, I beat it with a Human Fighter (yawn), not that the classes or races are particularly difficult.

I immediately started planning a speedrun after beating it. I streamed a couple of attempts yesterday on my channel but both of them ended at Mondain, who posed no trouble during my first playthrough. If they hadn't, I probably would have been able to win in about 45 minutes, which means it could be a lot less than that, even. Posted a new topic on SDA in case anyone else has some smart ideas.

Almost forgot to mention that I beat Mystic Heroes - it has a truly obnoxious final boss that took a few attempts, but otherwise the game was pretty smooth. If you've played a Dynasty Warriors game before, you might be surprised how many adventure-y elements there are in this game, like platforming and permanent stat boosts from killing enemies. It's not bad, it's just not great, and it lags strangely.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

High Octane Game Beating Action

The gaming doesn't let up! Here's an update.

Blinx: The Time Sweeper is a game I remember very fondly from my school days, where I'd go to a friend's house and attempt to take on this incredibly unforgiving game. Most of the game's difficulty comes from its controls, which are 'loose' at best. I've been playing a (different) friend's copy on my Xbox 360, and... it doesn't emulate it very well. Most levels run at about 80% speed, in some spots the game slows down to around 20%... this might make it easier in some ways, but no gamer wants a variable framerate. Anyway, I'd played the first few worlds months ago, but I got around to it recently and now it's sat with a nice shiny Beaten sign, though not Completed, because I didn't even get half of the Cat Medals. The last boss is very random and frustrating. Despite all the problems I still like this game. I'd like to run it someday, probably only possible once I get a real Xbox.

Next up is Symphony, an odd game which takes the concept of games like Audiosurf and Beat Hazard and wraps it in a campaign you can actually finish. Essentially it creates shmup-like levels which vaguely match up to the beat and dynamics of the music you choose. I had to stop playing this for several months while they fixed a bug that made it unable to display enough drive letter icons for me to actually browse to my music. Then I realised that a hardlink would allow me to browse to it from C:. After I did this and beat the game, they patched it so that it shows more drive letters. That's life. It's a fairly good game, nothing special. If somebody could produce a more precise algorithm I still think this genre of game has potential.

Seeing as I beat Sonic CD a few days ago, Emily suggested also beating Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I as I bought it in some random sale in months past. So I did. Massive amounts of design ripped off from earlier games, some really halfhearted boss fights, the requisite few really fucking annoying levels and a final boss that had me yelling at the scream. That's not a recommendation. It's not a terrible game by any means, but if you own any other 2D Sonic game then it's probably better than this.

The last game to fall before I write this is Mega Man X: Command Mission. This another game I played a big chunk of last year and decided to finish up - I was just about to start Chapter 8, so I only had 3 to go. Went fairly smooth; one of the bosses took an annoyingly long time to defeat but I was never in any danger. Then, the boss rush was totally pointless, just gave me some more XP I guess. The final bosses were scary at first, but not all that difficult; overall this is a serviceable JRPG. Of course, that comes with the usual proviso that the voice acting and plot is terrible, so skip cutscenes, even if this is your first playthrough. It's not worth it; there's no character development or denouement with this game, unlike Enchanted Arms.

I only had four games to report on beating, but I may as well mention that I started another - Mystic Heroes, a PS2 game by Koei. Yes, it's like Dynasty Warriors. No, it's not as good. It's based on some incredibly popular Chinese fantasy novel which I know nothing about, so I'm sure a lot of it is lost on me, but it plays like DW with what little finesse there is taken out. Also it's a bit laggier and I'm not sure why. I'm already at 6-3 so there's probably only a few levels left. Watch this space.

Saturday, 18 January 2014


Gaming has been fast and furious since my trip to America. In those 17ish days I have beaten, count it, TWO GAMES!! On that pace my Backloggery goal should be finished in, oh, a few years.

Final Fantasy Dimensions was the first to fall. I mentioned before that I thought I was near the end, and I was. My final time was around 45 hours. The last few hours were plot and boss-heavy, so there wasn't much to do other than double-cast Flare and attack a lot. I think the last boss was a little too easy; I didn't feel particularly threatened at any point, and I'm pretty sure I didn't revive anyone either. Now that I've finished it, I think it's a fair game, probably about as good as FFV. Might replay for a better time at some point.

Of course, it wouldn't be a Lag.Com blog post without acquiring more games than I beat. We went to Gamestop to buy some cases for the new 2DSs (Emily already managed to slightly break mine, so the stylus doesn't stay in the case anymore :p) and I was annoyed to notice they didn't have any PSP games out. However, they did have a list of stuff printed out, so I scanned through it. Nothing I really wanted, until right at the end where there was a useful "WARHAMMER: BATTLE F" listed. It was only $3, so I decided to grab it, and soon enough had a used copy of Warhammer: Battle for Atluma on my hands. If you've never heard of this, you're not alone; it's a computerised version of the Warhammer Fantasy card game. It's also really hard; the AI is good and your starting deck is as strong as theirs. I haven't managed to win a match yet. Someday!

It was inevitable that after buying Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag that I would buy the Season Pass for a discount on the DLC. This also happens to give some kind of time-limited discount on Assassin's Creed: Liberation HD, which I dutifully picked up yesterday. Annoyingly, I haven't heard too many good things about the original OR the port, but I'm sure I'll enjoy it at least. Bloodlines wasn't anything special, but the lore of the game world keeps me going. I wonder why they decided to drop the 'III' from the HD title?

Xbox Live's "Games with Gold" campaign marches on, and impelled me to acquire Sleeping Dogs for zero dollars, which the internet passively tells me is pretty good. Another one to get round to eventually.

Aside from Dimensions, I've also been continuing to play Final Fantasy Anniversary Edition to completion. I've done all four bonus dungeons now... I think I did them in the wrong order, because the FF5 callback bosses were a lot harder than FF6's. Then again, the random encounters were the other way round, so whatever. I haven't tried the last (and hardest) bonus dungeon yet, but I'm sure it'll fall to the might of Paul, Emily, Marc and Jess after enough plugging.

Another title I've had on my Android tablet for a while is Chaos Rings. I knew nothing about it, other than it being an RPG of some description which has spawned a reasonably successful series. Once Dimensions fell, it was a natural progression. It turns out to be a fairly fast-paced game with difficult combat choices and an absolutely bat-shit plot. I did wonder where it was going with the whole 'gene' and XX/XY thing... Done one campaign, started the next. The 'Achievements' screen indicates that there are four campaigns, which then merge together at the end.

Lastly, I beat Sonic CD on XBLA a couple of days ago. I fixed the past in a couple of zones, but I didn't do it for an entire stage, so no achievement for me! It's quite short, fun and easy to pick up, if you can get past that incredibly dickish bouncy floor stage.

Wrote down routes for Ultima Underworld 1 & 2. Haven't played yet.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

A New Year, an Old Resolution

So, last year I made a bunch of resolutions and failed all of them, except going to Crystals for Life. I'm going to copy the same list and hope I actually do some more this year. Here's a recap.

Read all the books I got for Christmas
I finished Les Misérables a few days ago, so now that's out of the way I have plenty of books to get through. I also got 4 more this year, so...

Finish FF X-2, XII, XIII for Emily
My furthest XII save is just before the Laboratory. X-2 and XIII will be from the beginning.

Submit a speedrun to SDA which isn't Arcomage
I have several runs to work on and finish. I'm most interested in Enchanted Arms right now but there are plenty of others which can be done.

Go to Crystals for Life
Doing it again this year! I'm going to be running Ultima Underworld 1 & 2, which is a lot of work to remember. I already know how to do UU1 but the route has since been improved so I'll have to study it. Speedrunning UU2 is completely novel to me.

Get my Backloggery Unfinished percentage to below 65%
I just added all the games I got from Emptytye and for Christmas, so Unfinished is now at 78.3% - at my current total, that means I need to beat about 137 games this year. Sheesh.

So, actual game progress. Started Pokémon X in our New Year's hotel room and picked Fennekin because I think it looks the least dumb of the starters. I'm surprised how different this game is to Diamond, seems to run a lot faster, and the 3D graphics work really well. Odd to see Pidgey etc. right out of the gate, but it doesn't matter that much to me. Naming my pokémon after League of Legends characters.

There's a game called Face Raiders which comes preloaded onto all 2DS/3DS handhelds, it's a simple shoot things thingy with some augmented reality thrown in. The face deformation is pretty amusing and I've beaten the first three levels so far; I have Emily, Marc and Jess as well as my own face to shoot. It's not bad, especially for the low, low price of free dollars.

Finally, I've been playing Final Fantasy Dimensions a lot lately, because I really want to get it over with. It's not a bad game, but the dialogue is extremely grating. The job system is very similar to FFV but with an inbuilt grinding limit. The plot is eh, the difficulty is about right, though I'm sure there's some way to break it wide open with the right ability combinations. I'm 38 hours in, and I feel like I'm nearing the end.