So in case people haven't been following me on Plurk (understandable, it's a niche-ass social media site with no real userbase outside of the Dreamwidth journal RP community) as of early March I've taken up a 52-in-52 challenge.

What's that? It means I want to beat 52 games in a year, an average of one game a week. Since I started in early March, that means I already was lagging behind, and still technically am. However, inspired by [personal profile] xyzzysqrl's own journal entries, I've decided to at least put my thoughts to words here about the games I beat, and maybe the ones that beat me.

However, that means I have a catch-up to do, which is half the reason this entry exists. The other half is to put in writing somewhere exactly what rules I'm putting up.


1) The goal is to clear 52 games in 1 year, or 52 weeks.
This is obvious, and failure to do so is failure of the challenge. Failing the challenge means I feel bad about not being able to commit to anything. Ideally, I would want to finish on December 31, 2017, but since I started late, I would accept finishing before March 8, 2018.

2) The games beaten must be games I have not beaten before.
Equally obvious - otherwise I could get this just by running FF5 a whole bunch (like I intend to this summer, the same way I do every Four Job Fiesta).

3) In addition, they must be games I actually own, or games I have formerly owned.
I'm sure I could get through this super easy by just downloading a bunch of GBA/DS shovelware and trooping through it, but not only would that not be fun, it also wouldn't help clear out my backlog. The "Formerly Owned" addendum is for games that I've had and wanted to beat, but due to having to resell games for emergency money, cannot play hard versions of (For example, Spyro on the PSX, or my most recent clear).

3a) Single games on a compilation are counted if they meet all other requirements.
This isn't as helpful as it seems since most retro games are actually really hard and/or unfun! But I'll count them.

3b) Episodic games (ex. most Telltale games) must have all episodes cleared to count.
Consider it a balancing factor for the first addendum. It's not too relevant.

4) Cheating to bypass difficulty is forbidden.
Another obvious one. It's not a challenge if I can just save-edit or CheatEngine my way to victory.

4a) On a per-case basis, using non-cheat external assistance to bypass tedium is allowable. Said exploitation must be noted.
Less obvious - basically, if I'm frustrated with an adventure game, I could spend five hours rubbing everything on everything else, or I could just read a damn guide. Same goes with using Virtual Console savestates to bypass a lack of saving. However, it's still a game "defeating" me on its own terms, which should be admitted to, for the sake of fairness.

5) Games must require some conscious input or controllable factor.
For clarification, Heavy Rain (if I owned it) would be acceptable, but a visual novel without any player agency would not. Basically, if I can complete it by setting it to "automatically progress text" and walking away for several hours, it doesn't count as a "game" for the purposes of this challenge, no matter how good Umineko and Higurashi are.

6) After this point, a game must be talked about, however briefly, to count.
I want to give people something to read, plus I want to make sure I actually have the ability to focus and put my thoughts to words still. It's important to me.

7) (edited addition, as inquired by [personal profile] xyzzysqrl) A game must be standalone and feature-complete to count.
That probably requires a bit of explanation. Xyzzy's actual wording was "Freeware/fan games and such", which falls into several categories on its own. Free games made in, say, RPGMaker or Game Maker (think original Cave Story) would count. Fan-games would count if they reached a 1.0 state and are considered "complete". I ain't playing Pokemon Uranium for this. Likewise, Early Access games are out of the pool. Flash games on Kongregate or Newgrounds or so on do NOT count, that seems like dirty pool. Finally, romhacks are right out; if I wanted to tally Link To The Past Randomizer or Aria of Sorrow Randomizer runs, again, there's little to no point of doing this.

With that said, a rundown of what I've cleared thusfar, along with a brief decompression of my thoughts on said games!

March 8, 2017: Guacamelee: Gold Edition (Steam)

The game that got me started on this idea of clearing games since, honestly, it almost beat me at a few spots but I soldiered on anyway. I think the endgame was soured a bit from spite, but it was still solid! It's got a very Book of Life aesthetic to it (though I'm pretty sure it predated that movie significantly) and plays on phase-switching between "living" and "dead" worlds, though the status only matters for a few quests. Past that, it's easy enough to call it "platformer Ikaruga".

Combat is solidly punchy, but the late-game platforming can be downright infuriating, involving mid-air world togglings and having to do controller gymastics. The thing that turned me off of 100% completing it and soured me on the game was the Tule Tree, and particularly the challenge at the top of it. Youtube it and you'll know what I mean. Regardless, pretty fun, a solid 8/10. Still not sure if I should side-eye it regarding its cultural themes or not.

March 12, 2017: Regency Solitaire (Steam)

This sure is a casual solitaire game. On the other hand, it has an ending and it lets you replay stages with nothing lost but your own time. It was good, but if you've played computer solitaire, it sure is computer solitaire. Was worth the buck or two I got the bundle it was on for, I suppose.

March 17, 2017: Super Motherload (Steam)

See, I love this kind of gameplay given how much I adored Steamworld Dig? But something about Super Motherload pinged me weird and bad. Maybe it was because I never beat the original game so I forgot that part of the final boss preparation was "buy ALL the bombs". Maybe it was the thinly-veiled cold war aesthetic. Maybe it's the fact that the voice acted text is all entirely superficial and adds nothing to the game.

Maybe it's the fact that the main villain is a giant chickenalien.

Regardless, when you beat the game you can unlock a ghost dog who doesn't take damage from anything ever, which makes getting 100% a lot easier.

March 20, 2017: Final Fight (Arcade, via PS3 Final Fight Double Impact)

This is why the "single game in a compilation" rule exists; Magic Sword is a bad game and I don't want to play it ever, but Final Fight was good and fun and I punched people in the face and saved a wrestlemayor's daughter. I almost didn't count this, though, given its relative shortness. Arcade games of the 90s, man.

March 21, 2017: Epic Battle Fantasy 4 (Steam)

I went into this expecting a flash game battle simulator with a bunch of injokey pop culture nods. After all, that's what the first three games were. What I got was...about what I expected, though it was surprisingly robust for what it was. I actually found myself having to juggle skills and equipment, that sort of thing.

I mean, it's still a flash game battle simulator with a bunch of injokey pop culture nods. But at least it's a competent one.

March 24, 2017: Feeding Frenzy 2: Shipwreck Showdown (Steam)

This, on the other hand... even if I remember the original Popcap game, I've always wanted something more like Odell Lake, more about gauging potential threat and taking things cautiously versus arcade-based twitch-action. The problem with Popcap games is that twitch-action doesn't work with a mouse, mice are shitty input tools.

March 29, 2017: Hatsune Miku Project Diva F 2nd (PS3)

"Completed all songs on Normal difficulty" is my benchmark for a "completion" there. I'm not gonna try 100%ing this any time soon, I'm not that good at rhythm action. Hell, a lot of the harder Normal songs broke my face. Regardless, the Vocaloid rhythm action games are always one of those things that you already know if you want or not, since they pretty clearly cater to fans and nobody else. Luckily, I am a fan of my stupid singing robots.

April 8, 2017: Strong Bad's Cool Game For Attractive People (Steam)

I'd only played through the third episode before clearing the rest of it, but I have to say, it's a competent point-and-click adventure game. The biggest problem is that it doesn't really sell Homestar Runner if you don't already know what HSR is; it's a game for fans, not outsiders. Another problem is the expectation that you pixel hunt for (potentially missable) collectables and get high scores on intentionally janky minigames if you want 100% completion. Argh.

April 16, 2017: Katamari Forever (PS3)

The hardest part of this was tracking down a copy. Well, no, that's not true. The hardest part is the fact it feels like they subtly tweaked the physics between We ♥ Katamari and Forever, so everything feels really sluggish despite technically being tighter and more responsive. Regardless, I've always loved the Katamari games, even if they kind of lean overly hard on looking back on what they've already done.

Speaking of which: something about the graphic filters in the game actually gives me vague headaches. Not helping matters is that a decent chunk of the levels are actual throwbacks to the first two PS2 games and they're done in this godawful grayscale and/or sepia-tone that fades into color when you collect items.

You have to do Cowbear, but everything is monochrome.

This is not good game design. (Hell, "the Cowbear level" is not good game design, but that's an argument for another time.)

April 19, 2017: Technobabylon (Steam)

Played this one based on Xyzzy's sterling review of it, and I have to say, I wasn't disappointed. It's a lot more polished and well-written than I expect indie adventure games to be, and as far as I know, nothing is really useless fluff; all of it has some purpose - either worldbuilding or clues to what's going on. It's also really intuitive with its puzzle solutions in most cases, which is a goddamn rarity in the point-and-click genre.

April 21, 2017: Machinarium (Steam)

Yeah, I admit it. I used a guide for this one. Ironically enough, the first guide I tried didn't have solutions to the actual puzzles I couldn't be arsed with (fucking sliderball puzzles, goddamn Connect Four minigame...) so it was borderline useless to the point I got further just ignoring it. It was good enough for an atmospheric point-and-click game, though the control scheme has some serious issues that need working out, like, yesterday. It's also really short, being little more than like two or three hours minus frustration time. Still, again, worth the buck or so I paid.

April 30, 2017: Human Resource Machine (Steam)

Do you love boolean programming? If so, you can probably beat this game in your sleep. Does the thought of boolean programming make your head hurt? If so, this game is going to make you lose hair. (Spoilers: I used a guide for some of the harder levels here, too, as well as for optimization achievements.)

Really, all the game boils down to is a visual representation of boolean programming using boxes and tiles on a floor. You set up a block of code, a tiny animated gentleman (or gentlelady) runs around and executes it and you get screamed at if you fuck it up. It's done by Tomorrow Corporation (the Little Inferno people), though, so it's got a decent amount of dry black humor and cheerfully Burton-esque art.

Regardless, don't think it's worth $5 unless you're actually interested in boolean programming but need a hand up into learning it.

May 11, 2017: Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (Formerly GBA, played via emulator)

This was the last Igarashi-era 2D Castlevania I hadn't beaten, and I wanted to complete the set. I regret this choice.

At first, I was cheerfully optimistic about it, poking light-hearted fun at some of the game's technical failings. (As a GBA launch title, the budget was lopsided in many ways; the backgrounds and soundtrack are gorgeous but in exchange sprites are oddly animated - Nathan has a whole two frames of animation for running, but five for crouching down or jumping) As it went on, the criticism got progressively less light-hearted.

The game tries, to its credit. It's very sincere in what it is. It tries to go back to the "old Castlevania formula" of rewarding careful gameplay and platforming over the style of rushing through things that 2D IGAvanias later came to be known for. The problem is, it does this through what I personally think of as Numberwang - stat inflation for no reason except to make things more tedious. What it boils down to, mechanically, is "this boss takes over a hundred hits to kill, but can kill me in four".

This all falls apart when you realize that later games in the series had enemies stay roughly as mobile as the playable character. In the NES games and Super Castlevania 4, everyone was generally pretty slow and janky, whereas in Dracula X (at least the PC Engine version), Richter was much easier to maneuver to accommodate for much more aggressive opposition. Circle of the Moon is the worst of both worlds. Nathan is pretty awkward to handle, whereas enemies are both fast and, far more damningly, unpredictable. You eat a lot of hits you can't actually sustain just because an enemy swooped in a way you couldn't concievably dodge, and guess what? Since there's no shops in the game (and no in-dungeon pickups except stat boosts), you probably won't have any potions with which to heal that damage. Even if you do, healing items are laughably bad past the first quarter of the game. Heals 20 HP! Great, I have 900 missing, just give me 45 of those.

By the end of the game I was explicitly grinding for levels just so I could survive, and that was well after several bosses that were basically RNG. I did not have fun by the end of this, and mostly just wanted it to be over.

Anyway, I'm caught up on what I've cleared thus far, so hopefully I'll be able to go into more detail as I clear from here on out!
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