Backloggin’ the Year – Scar’s Streaming Escapades, January-April 2021

  • Backloggin’ the Year – Scar’s Streaming Escapades, January-April 2021

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    May 5, 2021 at 10:23 AM
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    Welcome to Backloggin’ the Year, a feature that discusses the challenges and excitement that comes with working through your backlog. News writer Ryan Radcliff jumps into the fray with a third of the year complete and a slew of RPGs to discuss.


    ¡Hola, amigos!

    RPGs are long experiences. Most focus on one RPG at a time, and playing more than one can cause issues especially during the SNES era where direction and guidance were limited. So naturally I decided to play twenty-one RPGs all at the same time, but with a twist! On our Twitch channel, I have been plowing through twenty-one (in 2021…get it!?) RPGs since the start of the year, with the caveat being each game is on a wheel and the RPGamers watching can spin the wheel allowing RNG to take over and pick the next game I play. The first iteration of the random wheel saw me playing nine games I have never played before and twelve games I am either somewhat familiar with or know like the back of my hand. Honestly, this can get real confusing, especially when landing on a game I am unfamiliar with, or returning to a game the wheel hasn’t picked in weeks. While slightly challenging, I do keep tabs of where I left off and where I was heading to next in a spreadsheet, which helps tremendously for the games I am exploring for the first time.

    Below I will detail each game on the list during this four-month stretch, how many times the wheel has picked said game, where I am currently at, and what my thoughts are about each.


    The “New To Me” Games

    Bahamut Lagoon
    Wheel Selections: 21
    Where I left off at: End of chapter 5.

    I would often find translations for this game, but I never found the motivation to actually play deep into this game. Thankfully, the wheel helps motivate me, due to it forcing my hand to jump into this hidden gem when the wheel eventually lands on it. With a mix of strategy battlefields with turn-based battles, it offers a very unique experience. I have enjoyed what I have played so far, but I have found myself resorting to guides when it comes to dragon breeding. Battles can get a little long, and the stream has seen me go weeks without advancing to the next chapter. Being new has kept my intrigue high, and hopefully that lasts all the way until the end.

    Live A Live
    Wheel Selections: 17
    Where I left off at: At the start of the Mecha chapter.

    Thoughts: This game has quickly risen into one of my favorites RPG experiences on the SNES. Who knows why it took me so long to finally jump into this game, but I am glad I finally get to enjoy this gem. This feels like a prototype for Saga Frontier or Octopath Traveler with the way it breaks into separate chapters for each character. I have a few more stories to go through before I get to see what’s up with the game’s final arcs. So far the Ninja arc has been my favorite of the bunch, but each chapter has been a unique and fun experience! Needless to say, I am super stoked to see what awaits me.

    Marvelous: Another Treasure Island
    Wheel Selections: 14
    Where I left off at: Throwing a dog a bone in chapter 2.

    Thoughts: Probably the most challenging game to stream! This game is one puzzle after another, and getting interrupted and coming back blind has proven to be difficult at times. Still, the game is a lot of fun to play, as it shares the same engine ALttP utilizes. Thankfully there is a little birdie that acts like a guide, providing hints and tips when I eventually become lost. I do enjoy the puzzle-heavy narrative though, even if I look like a deer-in-headlights during some of the more vague brain-teasing sections.

    Mystic Ark
    Wheel Selections: 17
    Where I left off at: Just left Candy Mountain.

    Thoughts: Not going to lie, this game is sometimes a chore with how little information the game provides the player; mix in that it’s my first playthrough and it’s been a frustrating experience. Being the sequel to The 7th Saga, a game I have always adored, helps me cope with the frustrations. Still, while it rarely gives you hints of what you need to do next, the game is still fun to play. Battles are almost exactly like 7th Saga, except auto-battle lets me focus on other things while my character destroy random encounters. Plus in this game you get a third party member, which I am eager to tinker with.

    Record of Lodoss War
    Wheel Selections: 10
    Where I left off at: In chapter 2, Dark Elf Village.

    Thoughts: The wheel’s least favorite game! Not going to lie, I do a good deal of dungeon crawling off stream, because my word are the random encounters fast and fierce! Luckily, I found an infinite magic loop hole that has helped ease my way in some of the longer dungeons. The battles are fun though. They look like an Ogre Battle grid, but it is turn-based and the characters can move around the board. Also, each battle has a leader hiding amongst all the monster, and upon smacking them once their crown will appear. Slaying the leader ends battles immediately, also knocking the leader into the black hole that’s in every fight will give the player an enormous experience boost and a special item to boot.

    Sailor Moon: Another Story
    Wheel Selections: 17
    Where I left off at: Starting Sailor Venus’ chapter.

    Thoughts: Moon Prism Power! Let’s just say, I could be found singing the old Sailor Moon song in my younger days. It’s not my fault they aired it right before Dragon Ball Z! I don’t mind fighting evil by moonlight or winning love by daylight, even if some of these fights are tough! Some fellow fans of the game told me to level my Sailor Scouts a lot, so grind I did and honestly the last few chapters have been a breeze. So I may have overdone it…after all, I was told to never run from a real fight!

    Secret of the Stars
    Wheel Selections: 14
    Where I left off at: Heading to Bonzley to save Cody.

    Thoughts: Technically I’ve played a little of this one, many moons ago, but I barely remember it, so it’s new again! I have a feeling the stream likes this game the least, but I have been plowing along just the same. We get two parties: kids and adults, with the kids being the main characters, and the adults doing other things for reasons, sometimes a dungeon will have a path only the adults can reach, but most of the time the end result is a few treasure chests. This game has a pretty bare story, and the characters have no personality, but at least there is a town-building mini game!

    Shadowrun
    Wheel Selections: 14
    Where I left off at: Beaten on 4/30/21

    Thoughts: I cheated with this game. I had never played it, but I had seen it so often in the Q&A section of Nintendo Power magazine, I was always interested. This was one of the first games I added to my mini, but somewhere along the way, the game got real obscure and my motivation waned. Thankfully, the retro wheel was the perfect remedy for these types of situations, and before I knew it, I was being forced to pick this back up and figure out what I had to do next. This is NOT a game you want to pick back up after a year or two of idleness and I had to read a few guides to find out just where I was. Still, Shadowrun is a unique game that is limited on the SNES, but the journey proved to be enjoyable and I can finally put this one in my completed pile.

    Treasure of the Rudras
    Wheel Selections: 15
    Where I left off at: Trying to collect the Gram Sword.

    Thoughts: I also cheated with this game and looked up guides on the magic system. I had heard that you are required to create your own spells, and did not want to deal with that while streaming. Add this to the mountain of Square RPGs that were never officially translated, and it had earned a spot on my wheel out of sheer fascination. The story seems interesting. There were three protagonists to choose from initially, and while I have seen the other two in my journey, I have yet to add them to my party or really seen much of their stories. I guess we will get to them eventually. I did want to mention that some of the sprite work in this game is absolutely gorgeous, but that could be said about a lot of games on the wheel.

     


    The Ol’ “Like Riding a Bicycle” Games 

    The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
    Wheel Selections: 13
    Where I left off at: In the dark world village.

    Thoughts: Maybe not considered an RPG by people, it has enough RPG elements for me to induct it as a honorable mention. ALttP is a classic, and it is always fun to jump back into Hyrule. This was one of my first big adventures on the SNES, I even picked the game up from a Service Merchandise as it slowly made its way to my possession on a conveyer belt! Often duplicated but never replicated, it’s unlikely this romp ever becomes stale for me.

    Breath of Fire 2
    Wheel Selections: 14
    Where I left off at: In Trout’s manor.

    Thoughts: This was the inception of the Friday night stream. Initially we started by just playing BoF2 by itself, until one of my saves corrupted and I had to pivot on the spot. Eventually the wheel concept was created, and BoF2 became part of the rotation. As such it had a bit of a head start compared to the rest of the other wheel participants. I am also playing a new translation, so there are new aspects to this old dog, though BoF2 has always been a fun time for me. The name changes have been interesting, if not slightly confusing when I refer to someone by their old names. Oh and the language is a tad overtly vulgar at times!

    Earthbound
    Wheel Selections: 23
    Where I left off at: In the desert mole dungeon.

    Thoughts: The wheel certainly loved Earthbound, and I don’t blame it. Ever since I saw that big SNES box at my local Target, I had to get my mom to pick the game up for me. I still own that lovely guide that came with the game, though young Scar sold the game along with many of the games in this section during the dark times. I will always adore this acid trip of a game, though. Did you know in the Japanese game the wonder photographer does not tell Ness to say fuzzy pickles? He actually tells him to smile and say cheese sandwich!?

    Final Fantasy IV
    Wheel Selections: 20
    Where I left off at: Just got the Enterprise.

    Thoughts: I usually go back and forth with this being my favorite RPG of all time. Nostalgia definitely is a big reason I love it so much, but from the characters, to the story, to the iconic music, everything about this game grips me every time I start a new adventure. What else is there to say except every time the wheel lands on this game, I have to try my hardest not to grin like an idiot.

    Final Fantasy V
    Wheel Selections: 14
    Where I left off at: Fighting Dark Claw.

    Thoughts: This was one of the first games I ever emulated back in the day, and it still holds some form of nostalgia for me. Fun fact: It was due to how easy (and free) emulation was that young Scar decided to sell away all his old console games in the first place. *smacks head* Anyways, FFV has a fun job system and the chat has actually helped me find out things I hadn’t know initially. I am still using the chat recommended jobs I got from the first crystal too. This game will also go down as the first game that, when selected, led to me taking a shot on stream. We implemented a shot mechanic for games the wheel has neglected, though FFV quickly climbed out of that pit and rounded out to be a middle of the pack selection.

    Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest
    Wheel Selections: 20
    Where I left off at: Talking to gramps under Aquaria.

    Thoughts: Often considered baby’s first RPG, I feel this game sometimes gets a bad rap, but it’s not that bad. In fact, I remember a time when this was a game my brother and me would rent and play all day long. The game has some issues, but at least it’s very forgiving when you get a game over. I also don’t know why the Cure spell exists, when you can cast Life and it will heal for more than Cure and also revive your partner. I’m guessing this will be one of the games I beat next too. It did come with some neat ideas for the time and sports a decent soundtrack. Just don’t look at the official artwork for Rueben!

    Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals
    Wheel Selections: 19
    Where I left off at: In the sword shrine fighting the twins.

    Thoughts: A supremely underrated RPG that is often overlooked for some of the other RPGs many consider the best on the SNES console. Personally I think it deserves to be brought up when mentioning games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI. Not only does the second entry in the Lufia series improve on the first game in every aspect, but it adds puzzle solving in dungeons that not many of the great RPGs had. This game earned its spot at the big boys table! I also plan to keep this game on the wheel after I beat it, so I can go have fun in the Ancient Cave.

    Secret of Evermore
    Wheel Selections: 21
    Where I left off at: Nearing the end of the Nobilia section.

    Thoughts: I like this game more than Secret of Mana. Sacrilegious I know, but there’s something about this game that really drew me into more than the other Secret of game on the SNES. Don’t get me wrong, I adore both, but I think it was all the negative feedback I saw online about this game that had me appreciate it more in the long run. I also hit an annoying snag while streaming this game and had to do some real deep dives to find solutions on how to get past glitches I encountered in the pyramid area.

    Soulblazer
    Wheel Selections: 14
    Where I left off at: Exploring the water world.

    Thoughts: My cousin brought this game over to my brother’s house once, and I distinctly remember the cartridge shell being cracked near the top edge. I had never seen the inside of a SNES game before, so Soublazer will always remind me of that. Replaying it has also been interesting because I forgot how much backtracking you need to do. Thankfully the game does a good job of providing quick travel spots so you can jump back into dungeons. Just don’t miss an enemy spawn portal or you might need to travel through the dungeon all over again to unlock your next method of progression.

    Super Mario RPG
    Wheel Selections: 18
    Where I left off at: Just got Princess Peach.

    Thoughts: I do enjoy Square and Nintendo creating this masterpiece. It has a fun battle system, interesting platforming elements, and witty dialogue throughout the journey. I still chuckle here and there when replaying this. Everyone involved did a good job to bring the Mario world into an RPG environment. I just wish Luigi was a playable character!

    The 7th Saga
    Wheel Selections: 19
    Where I left off at: In the dungeon before the Sky Rune Dragon.

    Thoughts: I would often rent this game from a local game store and did manage to purchase it when said store had a going-out-of-business sale. Some of the SNES RPGs I played were cakewalks, but this game was not cut from the same cloth. I always played as Kamil and would later find out that he was the hardest protagonist due to him being a jack of all trades and not really excelling at anything. I should have played a different character in the stream, but old habits die hard I guess!

    Wanderers from Ys
    Wheel Selections: 17
    Where I left off at: Beaten on 4/14/21

    Thoughts: The 2D Ys adventure will always have the distinct honor of being the first RPG beaten on the retro RPG streams. For that I am happy. I am also happy to be done with Ys3 because that game was a nightmare to livestream. The hit detection seems sporadic at best, and I had to do a lot of preparation behind the scenes to progress while streaming. I was stuck on a few bosses, which frustrated me, though maybe it was entertaining for people watching? Also, Adol has no chill. He really pulls on the heartstrings of these ladies, has them fall for him only to watch him sail away to his next adventure.


    Conclusion!

    Honestly, I have had a blast with this format. I get to replay games I love, while also finally playing games I have long since wanted to explore. Add in the randomness of the wheel, mix in some shots for extra mayhem, and anything can happen. These first four months have been good times for all, and I look forward to see what these next four will introduce into all of our lives. Thankfully the first batch of hand-picked games have not caused me too much discomfort, and with a little extra work behind the scenes I am able to prepare each game for its eventual time in the spotlight.


    What’s Next for the Wheel?

    Seeing as how we have removed two games from the wheel recently, I had the idea to reload the wheel every third of the year. That’s when I had the bright idea to incorporate a Twitter and Straw Poll to determine what game(s) I should add. The Twitter results came back almost neck and neck of Dragon Quest III and Terranigma, but Straw Poll pushed DQ3 ahead significantly. If I hadn’t beaten the second game, Terranigma would’ve to wait for its turn. Thankfully I finished Shadowrun on the last day of the month, so we were able to add second place to the wheel as well. Score! Both of these games are brand new to me, and I can’t wait to experience the highs and the lows both will bring me and the stream these next four months. Will we be able to beat more than two games in that timeframe? Who knows, but YOU have the power in your hands to spin that wheel and make each retro stream more entertaining than the last one.

     


    THE FINAL TALLY

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