10 Best Games In My Backlog (Owned But Unplayed)

Image result for shameWhat gamer actually plays as much as he/she would like? I buy games with the best intentions, but it doesn't always pan out. Here are the 10 games I'm most embarrassed to say I've purchased, but never played.

Avatar: The Last Podcasters, Episodes 7 & 8 "Winter Solstice"

Avatar: The Last Podcasters, Episodes 7 & 8 "Winter Solstice" (Book One: Water) is here! We talk about The Dragon Prince, Dragon Quest, Football, Game of Thrones and more! With a little Avatar: The Last Airbender sprinkled in there, too.


Topps 1956 Hank Aaron #31

In an effort to take my mind off my excitement for Dragon Quest XI (it's all I can think about), I spent lunch hour today pondering some of my favorite non-video game memories. One of my favorites (and one I can reminisce about quickly) is from the summer of 2013 when I bought my Topps 1956 Hank Aaron (#31).

Ultimate NES Remix & Level 7 Games

Image result for nes remix 3dsAny time my wife or I travel anywhere, I make it a point to beg and plead to hit up a local video game store (something other than GameStop). I love visiting new stores, and buying something to reminisce about later. Last week she went to Denver without me, but loves me enough that she visited Level 7 Games, snapped a few pictures, and came back with the Ultimate NES Remix for the Nintendo 3DS.

Wizards & Warriors, Iron Sword, The SNES Drunk, and Vomitron

Some of my earliest video game memories are from Wizards & Warriors on the NES, one of the earliest games Rare developed for Nintendo. The whole trilogy is solid if not great, each in its own way. The original is big, spooky, unique and advanced for its time. The sequel, Iron Sword, was bigger, moderately refined (if less original) and features unexcited, shirtless, sword-wielding Fabio for cover art. The threequel, Kuros: Visions of Power, has the most flaws, but also tried hard to be different, open and exploration-heavy. And the Game Boy release, Wizards & Warriors X: The Fortress of Fear, is also a game, but one that I neither own nor enjoy, so let's not talk about it.

Dragon Quest XI Review (Part 1: First Impressions)

Read my review!
I've played enough of Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age (PC) to offer a few initial thoughts. I'll try to strike a balance between my own preferences and a more worldly critique. Quick summaries are just below, followed by a little more detail on the following:


Summary
Dragon Quest XI is a stellar entry into and evolution of the main series, and a pretty good game overall. It does everything series fans want, and attempts to add mass appeal. The result is a very full, refined JRPG in a casual, accessible package. It's probably not enough to grow the franchise's western audience, but loyal fans will love it and hopefully newcomers with appropriate expectations will be pleasantly surprised.

My take is that it's already my favorite entry in my favorite franchise. I have some minor grievances; casual difficulty and whimsical style (common series complaints) aren't among them. Games don't have to be realistic or hard to be immersive and fun. It almost feels like a rich, light-hearted simulator of an massive modern RPG.

Doing Things Differently for Dragon Quest XI (PC)

DQ XI LogoI bought Dragon Quest XI today. That's exciting enough all on its own, but it's particularly memorable because the way I did it was so far outside my norm. I bought it:
  • New (I can count the number of brand new games I've bought in my whole life);
  • Via pre-order (calculate above and divide by 10);
  • On PC (ditto); and
  • Digitally (very taboo in my house).
It's not going to fit in with the piles of cheap retro mediocrity occupying my shelves. (It breaks my heart that there's nothing to sit there at all.) But I don't have a PS4, and the Switch release is in flux, so I had no other choice to access the latest entry in my favorite video game series of all time.

Lego Harry Potter - Diagon Alley (16012) from AliExpress

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At some point in early 2017, my wife and I decided that a perfect compromise to her love for puzzles and my love for Legos is... just Legos. Something closer to an actual compromise was that she decided we should buy Harry Potter Legos, specifically. After about 10 seconds of research we realized that actual Lego- and Harry Potter-branded products were a little out of our price range, so we turned to Lepin via AliExpress.

MediEvil 1 & 2 (PlayStation)

MediEvil is allegedly getting a PS4 remake - maybe even with a sequel remake packed in - but we haven't heard anything about it for awhile and it currently has a non-specific 2018 release date. I don't even own a PS4, but I still hope Sir Daniel makes his reappearance soon; it would allow many to conveniently enjoy a solid, sometimes forgotten PS1 experience (or two). While you await this modern opportunity, allow me to regale you with the exciting tales of my first encounters with the PS1 originals, which just so happen to be two of my favorite gaming memories.

Avatar: The Last Podcasters, Episode 5 "The King Of Omashu"


The 5th episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender has officially landed on our show, Avatar: The Last Podcasters! This week's episode, "The King of Omashu" was the 2nd best episode we've reviewed so far, in our opinion, second only to the pilot in what isn't exactly a fair fight. Standing on its own as an individual episode, I won't be surprised if it finds itself near my personal favorites of the entire series. It's touching, engaging and - most importantly to me - hilarious.

Thank you for a successful 2nd Annual Charity Slow-Pitch Softball Mixer (& Wife's Early 30th B-Day Party)!



Thank you all for your support and participation of our 2nd Annual Charity Slow-Pitch Softball Mixer for the Children's Miracle Network (and my wife's super-early 30th birthday party)! Thanks to your help and generosity, we had plenty of softball, pizza and beer to go around. More importantly, we raised more than $650 for CMN at the KU Medical Center! We're thrilled that we were able to grow the event in our second attempt, and we're already thinking ahead to our next charitable opportunities, none of which would be possible without great friends like you!

Shadow Squadron (Sega 32X, 1995)

Contrary to what my eyes want to believe, Shadow Squadron isn't a licensed Star Wars game. It was developed and published by Sega for the 32X in 1995, and is a spiritual sequel and light upgrade to the Star Wars Arcade. It's usually noted for a fairly strong effort for an early, open, 3D shooter on a home console, but criticized for being aesthetically bland and fairly repetitive. It's inexpensive and competent, a strong combination relative to the rest of the 32X library, so I recommend it if you own the hardware.

Topps 1986 Baseball

Topps 1986 is among my favorite baseball sets, but I'm not sure why. The design is as basic as '80s baseball cards come, the photos are mostly generic head shots, and its best cards aren't in the base set. Still, when I think of '80s baseball cards, Topps '86 is among the first to come to mind. Followed shortly by the glorious wood paneling of the '87 set of course.

Image result for topps 1986 baseball set

Avatar: The Last Podcasters, Episode 4 "The Warriors of Kyoshi"


The next installment of Avatar: The Last Podcasters is here! This week we talk about episode 4, "The Warriors of Kyoshi" from Book 1: Water. We also talk about toys, diversity, hot wheels, Firestorm, and a large moth living in my house.

GeekCraft Expo in St. Louis, MO (2018)

A couple weeks back my wife and I attended GeekCraft Expo in St. Louis, MO (7/28/18). It was the first held in St. Louis, and one of more than 15 to pop up since a group of people - the most famous of whom is Daniel Way best known for his work with Deadpool - spawned the first in Madison, WI, in 2015. It's a great opportunity for geeks to sell their handmade crafts.


Firestorm: The Nuclear Man (DC Comics)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firestorm_(comics)Firestorm is a hot mess, and he's definitely too complicated for me. At a thrift shop I stumbled on a few issues from the '80s series known first as "The Fury of Firestorm" and later "The Nuclear Man." The flaming hair radical costume caught my attention, and as a comic amateur I at least recognized the name. After reading only issues 4 and 5 (the earliest from the assortment I have), I decided that Firestorm is over my head.

Topps 1988 Baseball

See the source image
The '80s were the gateway to the darkest age of baseball cards, defined by mass overproduction and stock photo image quality. Topps 1988 is among the worst offenders.

Wasteland (DC Comics, 1987-1989)

The Wiki-Breakdown
Wikipedia calls Wasteland a horror anthology for adults, with each issue containing three generally independent, ambivalent stories from the larger series universe. I found it eclectic and disjointed... and just really weird. I'm not educated or experienced with comics, and I'm missing multiple important issues, including the first two and last four. Still, I'm comfortable saying I don't care for Wasteland.

Avatar: The Last Podcasters, Episode 3 "The Southern Air Temple"

Here's the second entry to my friend Chris - The Objective Geek - and my Avatar: The Last Podcasters show. Check out this week's video to hear my microphone simultaneously manage to capture my breathing and sound to quiet, and get our contrasting opinions on the movie Ready Player One. Oh, and we spend an inordinate amount of time talking about the third episode from Book 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender titled "The Southern Air Temple."

2nd Annual Charity Slow-Pitch Softball Mixer (& My Wife's 30th Birthday Party)

The details for the 2nd Annual Slow-Pitch Softball Mixer for the Children's Miracle Network are set! (Mostly.) As an added bonus, we'll be celebrating my wife Heather's dirty 30th birthday! It's a little early, but being such a stand-up person, it would mean the world to her to dedicate her birthday efforts toward a good, fun cause. Last year we raised $475; this year we hope to exceed $500!

Avatar: The Last Podcasters

My friend Chris - The Objective Geek - and I love talking about Avatar: The Last Airbender, but since my wife and I moved, Chris and I don't see each other anymore. We're attempting a podcast built on shoddy equipment and Google Hangouts as an excuse to talk to each other, and to talk about our favorite TV show of all time.
 

Good Cheap Fun: Spider-Man 2, Video Game Vs. Movie

Image result for spider man 2I pride myself on finding the good values in entertainment. When I want to feel like a superhero on a budget, I turn to Spider-Man 2, movie or video game. I recently delved back into the larger series in both formats and felt compelled to share my highly scientific findings.

Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots v. Karate Fighters: The Best 1-on-1 Fighting Toys

Image result for rockem sockem robotsRock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots were first released in 1964, created by Marvin Glass and Associates (designers of Lite Brite, Operation, Simon, Mouse Trap and more) and produced by Louis Marx and Company, but have been made most recently by Mattel. It was probably the first time kids could interactively simulate beating up their buddies. Today there are countless toys with some foundation in Rock 'Em Sock 'Em ideals. None are as recognizable as the original, but there is one name that I believe comes close.

2017-18 An Impressive Big 12 Basketball Outlier

(Krug, Lawrence Journal-World, 2018)
When asked about the Big 12 conference championship last December, KU Head Coach Bill Self said, “13-5 will get it free and clear.” The Jayhawks did in fact win their 14th straight title with a 13-5 record, but more importantly, Self’s statement accurately described the unmatched combination of depth and talent in the Big 12. No two season are ever quite the same, but 2017-18 was a definite outlier among the 10-team Big 12's previous seasons.

Purge Box #1: Mass Effect, Deus Ex, Ninja Gaiden & Wii U Outliers

Mass Effect 3, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge for the Nintendo Wii U are the worst versions of each respective game. They're not bad; they're just better elsewhere. I don't love the games on any platform, but I especially dislike their random appearance on a Nintendo console, so I'm putting them in my Purge Box to be traded into Gamer's HQ at the next opportunity.

Oh, and Mighty No. 9 too, just because I don't like it.

Welcome to the Purge Box.

Favorite Shelf #3: Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection (PlayStation 3)

Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection (PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360, 2009) surrounds a great list of games with nice presentation, accessibility and extras. It's one of the best games of all time in my favorite genre of all time, and it's taking its rightful place on my Favorite Shelf.

Favorite Shelf #2: Street Fighter 2 (PC Engine)

Image result for street fighter 2 champion editionSuper Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition for the PC Engine (1993) is a great home-console port of a great first update to a great Capcom arcade game, Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior (1991), within the great Street Fighter series. Did I mention that it's great?

More importantly, it's a perfect example of why I chose the system and the first game I sought out specifically. That's why it's taking its rightful place on the favorite shelf.

Favorite Shelf #1: Dragon Quest VIII (PlayStation 2)

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (PlayStation 2, 2005) is the perfect inaugural entry onto my Favorite Shelf. It's a great game, an interesting landmark in the series, and also happens to be my favorite game of all time. It's a great representation of what my Favorite Shelf should be, which is a great representation of my leisurely self.

I'm also a sucker for a (corny) happy ending, and it has a tremendous (corny) happy ending.

Trimming Down My Video Game Collection

Collections are trees that require careful pruning to stimulate beauty and growth. #Deep, right? Sometimes collections need pruning. It can stem (pun intended) from necessity and major life changes, or simply an itch for maintenance and evaluation.

I currently feel both.

Not so long ago my wife and I moved into a spacious home with disposable time and income to spare; the growth of my collections (video games, collectible cards, memorabilia, etc.) during that time correlates appropriately. Now we’re on the move again, but this time we’re downsizing, preparing to (try to) grow our family, and planning a sustainable lifestyle where time and income are concerned. I also decided to pluck some of the weeds and invasive species (#plantmetaphors) from my collection when I stumbled on a group of bad, forgotten, boxed Game Boy games that I would neither play nor display, ever. Sorry, Quest for Camelot; I didn’t like the movie either.

After a couple hours of enjoyable, nostalgic digging, I’d filled several shoeboxes with the most forgettable one percent of my collection. I took them to my local game store and swapped the entire pile (and $10 extra) for two PlayStation titles I’ve always wanted. Seeing tiny item-by-item credit amounts is disappointing, but trading a pile of inconveniences for a pair of desirable commodities felt great. It was like trading a cow that no longer produced milk (the reason Jack’s family parted with it) for magic beans (#moreplants), but without a seething, starving family to judge me.

I felt the best when I saw the results. The collection emanated as much nostalgia and happiness as ever, but with more clarity and direction, and in a (slightly) smaller space. It was useful mental exercise to reevaluate what the hobby means to me, and to make difficult-but-thoughtful choices. As a bonus, I think the experience will resonate as a meaningful memory every time I see one of the games I got in return.

***

If you have a story about a time you had to purge your collection, I’d love to hear it! I’m fortunate that my experience was positive, but I’d love to hear your tales of more challenging times, and how you adapted and moved on.

Video Game Dads, if you read this, I recall an episode with Norm the Gaming Historian in which he said he’d gotten rid of all but a handful of his games when moving to Kansas City. It’s a tremendous episode, and since listening to it I often wonder which games I’d keep if I had to sell the majority of my stuff, which is an entertaining mental exercise. That idea helped motivate me to do this (and to tell the tale), so thank you! Also, I’d love to hear your collection-pruning stories.

***

As an aside, I wanted to list a few of my notable purges below, in reverse chronological order.

Spring 2018 – Video Games
As mentioned above, I sold a small portion of my collection for the sake of size-reduction and using the money to add a couple more meaningful titles to my collection.

Spring 2017 – Games, Memorabilia, Accessories
Prior to moving to my second home, I sold a lot oddly-shaped and/or difficult-to-move gaming items including memorabilia, video game accessories, and game room storage.

Fall 2016 – Trading Card Games
I wanted to upgrade my (terrible) Yugioh zombie deck. I sold more than half of my collection of Yugioh, Pokemon and other trading card game collections, primarily comprised of obsolete and duplicate cards.

Summer 2014 – TurboGrafx-16
I’ve written about it before, and it still stings. When I was in high school, a former foreign exchange student at the was selling some things at his host family’s garage sale. He sold me two TurboGrafx-16 systems, one TurboCharger adapter, two controllers and several games. (I had no idea what they were at the time, but quickly and excitedly did some research.) I sold one system to my friend Tracy to help me cover the cost. About a decade later, I realized how expensive and difficult the system was for which to collect, and that I disliked the very limited library anyway. I’d also set my sights on the far cheaper, more interesting, fleshed-out and durable Japanese version, the PC Engine. I traded in the system and games an excellent stash of credit from my then-local game store which I effectively spread out over a year. More importantly, the following summer (2015), I had saved enough money on the side to purchase the mother of all Hudson consoles, the PC Engine Duo-RX, and a small-but-sweet bundle of import games. Playing the amazing Duo-RX helps me forget, but doesn’t completely erase the pain.

Spring 2012 – Sports Cards
Before graduating college, I trimmed down my sports card collection by nearly 20,000 cards. I kept everything sentimental, and made a few dollars I needed badly prior to moving and getting married.

Breath of the Wild 1 Year Later: Great Game, Average Legend of Zelda Title

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a great game. Metacritic rates the Nintendo Switch version 97/100, landing it in the aggregator's top 20 games of all time and behind only the 99/100 Ocarina of Time in the storied franchise.

It's a refined pinnacle of modern gaming. It has a massive open world full of depth and nuance for expert gamers. More casual gamers, or non-talented ones like myself, can appreciate its artistry while playing linearly or wandering around. It's not an RPG and yet is entirely immersive in its protagonist, story and world. It doesn't defy system limitations or push hardware (see the WiiU version), but uses everything in Nintendo's arsenal. It's a triple-A gaming done right.

Still, despite the accolades, it's nowhere close to being my favorite Legend of Zelda game. It's not science - the two categories are apples and oranges - but it's fun to consider the differences between critical and personal preference.

Why I'm A Video Game Collector But Not A Library Completionist










I recently listened to (and really enjoyed) Video Game Dads podcast episode 26. They revisited a facet of video games and collecting in general that I often ponder (when my mind wanders while at work); complete video game libraries. I love collecting video games, but completing a console library is something I don't think I can do.

Forbes Wonders If Video Games Should Cost More (& other geek news)

THIS WEEK IN GEEK NEWS... has been quiet, but I love digging through the headline scrap-heap for gems.







Forbes wonders if
video games should be more expensive,
to keep up with inflation, then quickly counters the idea with several valid points:
  • DLC, passes, microtransactions, etc. are already additional costs;
  • Digital distribution shrinks production cost and used market; and
  • Increased costs could shrink the market during an optimal time for expansion.
I have just one comment on this article. Forbes, how dare you risk giving EA ideas?!

ESPN Main Page Confirms LeBron James Better Than Actual News

LeBron James will hit free agency in the Summer of 2018 when he'll become the biggest free agent to hit the market since... himself back in 2014, or himself four years prior to that in 2010. There's a massive spread on ESPN.com's front page to remind you.

The new-look Cavaliers are 3-0 since their trade deadline purge. The fallout from the trade deadline is intriguing. The NBA All-Star game was as competitive as it's been in decades. Four teams have better records than the Cavs, including the defending champs who've been (almost) an afterthought. James' Cleveland squad is surging at the right time, and the 2018 NBA Playoffs should be the most exciting in years.

March Madness is right around the corner. We're closing in on what should be a crazy NFL free agency period. Baseball is nearly here. Fergie ruined the National Anthem on a massive stage. The Winter Olympics are happening! Right now! What an exciting time to be a sports fan!

But don't forget about the theoretical decision LeBron James will make this July.

Disney is Black Panther's Biggest Fan

Black Panther's launch is projected to break $400 million, and had the most successful opening of any Marvel movie not named "The Avengers." No one loves it more than Disney, who is happy to grow what is already the highest-grossing movie franchise of all time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The part of my brain that likes comedy wonders of which underrepresented group Hollywood will take advantage next. The part of my brain that likes movies is sincerely curious as to where Marvel/Disney will go next, because this movie is excellent for cinema in general.

I'm A Loser & I'm Bad At Collecting Video Games


Related image
I'm bad at being a nerd, but does
that mean I'm a bad nerd?
I'm a loser and it's okay. In fact, it's not bad at all.

I'm a loser because I collect video games. There's nothing inherently wrong or loser-esque about collecting video games; I live in an era where it's more accepted and popular than ever to do so. I have a good job, own a home, am married to a wonderful woman that has no qualms with my hobbies, and generally can't think of any reason I shouldn't collect video games.

Let me rephrase my thoughts. I'm a loser because of the way I collect video games.

Midway Arcade Treasures


Midway Arcade Treasures Coverart.png
Midway Arcade Treasures (2003 - PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube - Digital Eclipse & Midway Games) doesn't live up to the excitement it implies. It does pack enough uniqueness and nostalgia for its low price to merit a place in many collections. Compilations  should be held to different standards, and this one scrapes by as decent.