How I got stuck under a video game backlog for the first time
Ryan Stevens is my name, and I have a lot of video games backlog. Although this may not seem like much or an issue warrants an article, it is new for me. I have spent most of my adult life only playing a few games at once, giving each title lots of attention and love until I ran out of credits or had enough. Now, I have multiple notes on my phone: games I want to cover, digital games I need to play, and games I bought but have not yet touched. I also have a loose plan of when I will tackle each one. How did we get to this point? How did we get here?
My gaming confidence was shaken when we returned my girlfriend’s original Xbox to our apartment after visiting her family for Thanksgiving. There were a few games she had that I hadn’t played before: The Simpsons: Road Rage and Harry Potter Quidditch World Cup. These were all new to me, and I was eager to discover what the magic behind this highly-rated first-person shooter was. We live close to a used gaming store, so we decided to pick up some old titles to play with. It wasn’t too bad, considering that there weren’t many new titles at the end of last years to pull me back into the present.
I began compiling a list of Xbox games that I would like to buy second-hand if available at a fair price. John Green said I fell into a gaming rut like a person falling asleep. It happened slowly and then suddenly.
I took my GameCube from childhood with me to Christmas. I also brought a list of titles and my GameCube to find the purple box. A few weeks later, a friend posted a Facebook message that they were moving and wanted to sell their PlayStation 2. It’s easy to see how quickly I took up the offer. From where did this idea come? My girlfriend and I were ecstatic about collecting every console from this particular generation, like an off-brand Thanos snapping a semi-backwards-compatible gem into his gaudy golden entertainment centre. A PS2 meant that we had both a PS2 (which was a PS1), which meant that there were many more classic and forgotten games that we could track down.
I am proud to say that I did not succumb to the inexorable price-scaling of games just a few years ago. (This is, for some reason, most egregious with GameCube games. If anyone has Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, please DM me on Twitter. While I don’t spend more than the game’s release price on principle, I do have a collection that I consider a “collection”. This was fiscally responsible? Unclear. It’s been fun.
I was not able to afford to play video games as a child. I received 2 to 3 games per year around Christmas and my birthday. I had to be careful about what I requested and ensure that it would last until my next chance. Because those consoles were my favourite, I was a Nintendo household. I couldn’t convince my parents to spend the money on another video game box. I kept up with new releases via friends and watched TV shows like G4. Although I was aware of what I was missing, my youthful mental fortitude allowed me to be happy with it. I had what was available to me, and I found the trailer for Metal Gear Solid IV via dial-up internet just as enjoyable as playing it. Some MGS fans might argue that it was even better than playing it, but I haven’t yet tracked down a PS3 to confirm their claims.
This preference for video games stayed with me through college. I was on my feet but still had to pay for tuition. I saved enough money for a summer job to buy a 3DS, and Animal Crossing New Leaf is full of hours that I have played enough Final Fantasy games.
As I’ve grown up, I have noticed a shift in budget. Because I have a more stable income, it is harder to budget my time and money.
For me, playing video games requires a certain level of loyalty. I want to finish the game I started and not have any distractions (though I enjoy multiplayer games and perpetual titles such as Animal Crossings). If my time isn’t as plentiful as it once was, I can decide to spend the time to learn Dark Souls or to discover why Halo is so beloved.
A bonus is that I consider playing games a job, thanks to this site. Writing reviews requires a lot of focus and time management. Reviewing a game is often a gamble in time commitment and requires more active attention than simply chilling with my friends in Apex Legends.
January was a great month to go back and revisit old favourites, as there were not many new releases (and none that I reviewed). However, January is coming to an end quickly, and February has some high-profile titles. The dragon’s collection of old games isn’t going anywhere. It’s unlikely that I will turn my analysis on Break Down for Xbox into a popular feature. It’s liberating in a way – I play these games 100% for enjoyment and 0% to make money from them. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have enough time to play these games in the future.
Let me briefly review some of my favourite vintage games.
Halo is pretty good. Mountain Dew would be a great pairing with this game for nineteen hours.
Metal Gear Solid – Every bit as good and better than you can remember.
Silent Hill2 is narratively rich but mechanically clumsy. Pop culture has made it seem more or less.
Jumping Flash 2 – Tank controls, huh. These are shameful things that we have done.
Jet Set Radio Future has all the sizzle and style of the original game, which I played at a friend’s house, but I remember no mechanical friction as a lazy kid. The soundtrack is unrivalled.
ATV Fury 2 Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater with ATVs. It’s hard to imagine them changing the controls of ATV Offroad Fury too often between titles. But if it isn’t broken, etc.
Topspin – I’m a terrible tennis player. My girlfriend made me so mad that Top Spin would have been a Guilty Gear spinoff.
Red Dead Revolver It’s incredible how straightforward games used to be. These guys are running down the alleyway. MIDI versions Morricone scores are playing. You could not ask for more.
Killer7 is Very scary and stylish.
Persona 3 I haven’t started this yet. When will I start? When I know that I will have 80 hours of free time. It’s good to know that Persona has been consistent over the years.