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sashanan Reviewer and FAQ writer. Productivity tends to be on the low side, but I'm an old hand, having been initially on GameFAQs and now both there and here long enough for most people to believe I've been around since the dawn of time. I'm also Dutch, I write software, and I'm something of an old school gamer with a nostalgic focus on the Commodore 64.

Title: State of the backlog, post 2007
Posted: January 02, 2008 (02:54 PM)
Finishes by system

Atelier Iris
Castlevania - Curse of Darkness
Dark Cloud
Dynasty Warriors 3
Final Fantasy X-2
Makai Kingdom - Chronicles of the Sacred Tome
Prince of Persia - Two Thrones
Stella Deus - Gate of Eternity
Wild ARMs 3

Castlevania - Dawn of Sorrow
Castlevania - Portrait of Ruin
Children of Mana
Phoenix Wright - Ace Attorney
Phoenix Wright - Justice for All
Phoenix Wright - Trials and Tribulations
WarioWare Touched!

Golden Sun
Harvest Moon - Friends of Mineral Town
Legend of Zelda - Minish Cap
Tactics Ogre - Knight of Lodis

Of course, for the PS2 in particular, I've once again picked up more games in 2007 than I finished, so the backlog has only grown (honouring the 2005 and 2006 tradition). For the DS I've kept things pretty tight, having only Etrian Odyssey left to finish - and Animal Crossing if you want to count that, but I'm not even sure yet when I'll call that a "finish". Maybe when the house is fully upgraded but even that is going to take me ages at my pace. GBA is mostly a matter of finishing off what I still had at my leisure but I picked up a few new games for that too.

Handheld is under control. PS2 is completely out of control, with the backlog now at 51. My PC games I'm not even counting, since I've picked up so many cheap classics just for the collection that it'd be a three digit backlog if I actually intended to finish them all - if I even can. Most RTS games, for instance, get too tough for impatient little me before too long.

Goal for 2008: no specific quotas on how many games to finish, as I've found they do not work. No written or unwritten rules on how many games I can play simultaneously, as I've found they do not work. No preferred order of playing backlog games, as I've found that does not work. New experiment: a vow never to restart a game that I still have a functional save for - if necessary, replaying an early level or two (if action game) or reading a game script (if RPG) to get back into it, but then back to the save. I've wasted way too many hours in the past years restarting games for no real reason, and there are far too many RPGs (particularly from the SNES era) that I'm sick of seeing the first half of for the umpteenth time without ever having seen them through.
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Title: I think I've outgrown Skramble.
Posted: December 13, 2007 (11:39 PM)
I figured I'd play it one more time after all those years, hopefully set a nice little high score (presumably needing a couple of attempts) and have that one out of the way too.

Problem - Skramble has no end, the cycle repeats endlessly, and after the 2nd cycle, doesn't rise in difficulty anymore. I've finished four cycles now and have yet to die.

This could take a while.
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Title: No, mr Wright, I expect you to play
Posted: November 27, 2007 (05:31 AM)
Phoenix Wright came as a surprise to me, really. When I first heard of it I had no DS, and wasn't sure if this was my kind of game anyway. I endured the fads, sometimes cracking a brave half smile at somebody typing OBJECTION in a forum post, and gave it no real thought otherwise. When I did get my DS, my focus was on Castlevania, then some other games here and there that siara79 recommended. At some point she mentioned she'd picked up Phoenix Wright for me to try when I came over to the US in August. I didn't think much of it - she'd also picked up Etrian Odyssey and Odin Sphere (PS2, that one) for me at my request and I figured that's what I'd be spending most of my time with.

I'm not quite sure how Phoenix Wright managed to pull me in but it did - I played it almost nonstop during my week there, sometimes well into the night when everybody was asleep, and I was sprawled out on the couch, constantly having to plug my DS into the charger again because I'd run the battery dry. Dani and another friend of hers were both around case 4/5 when I started. In the end I overtook the friend and very nearly Dani when, only days after getting my hands on it, I finished the game. The next day I went out and bought the sequel to take home. It suffered the same fate as soon as I got it.

Then the long wait (heh, long, a couple months max) for the third game, which I imported from the US as soon as it was made available there. (Not just a time thing - when this thing gets to Europe, and there's no date on that yet, it'll go into stores for the normal 45 euros here, I'm pretty sure - a major difference from the 30 bucks I paid for the US version, even if you don't count the extremely favorable euro/dollar conversion rate lately). Got it, played it to death, finished it within a week.

Reviewing them all was a funny experience, because it got me thinking on the old difference between how much *I* liked a game, and how I look at it as a reviewer. I loved these games for certain, haven't felt for a moment I was ripped off by buying the same game three times - each had plenty of content to justify the money and I loved them all all the way through, something that hasn't happened for far too long. On the other hand, man...they recycle the characters, the locations, the gameplay elements, so blatantly that even "well, it's more like episodic gameplay than sequels" is questionable. Characters return so often that every game feels like more fanservice than the one before. Then there's the fact that it's all GBA games ported to DS and while the first game got a brand new case added (a good long one with extra gameplay features too), the other two did not. Cash cow? It's reasonable to see it that way.

And yet...and yet. I loved them all this much. I'm ready to preorder Apollo Justice as soon as it hits the States (February, I understand). While I do hope that it being a DS game from the beginning introduces new gameplay elements, what I really want is just more cases in that wacky world, and more opportunities to gleefully shout "Objection!" into my microphone every time I find a contradiction (yes, I actually do that). Evidently this trilogy did SOMETHING right - and not just in turning me, because I find people left and right playing it, I've gotten other people interested in it, Siara certainly has, and, well, the fact that after that first game they hurriedly rereleased and translates PW2 and 3 too says something about how the rest of the market has reacted to these.

I'm not sure I agree with the common review sentiment that Phoenix Wright has "brought back point and click adventures", though. That's not what it is. The investigation sequences may make it seem like it but those have basically no substance, just A to B and no puzzle solving to speak of. They were so boring in the first game that the addition of Psychelocks was absolutely essential to make them worth doing in gameplay terms. But the gameplay isn't even what matters here - it's the story.

If I had to make a bold claim about Phoenix Wright, I wouldn't go for "it revived adventure games" at all. How about a much bolder one: it proves that it is possible for a game to thrive on story instead of gameplay! Because if you ask the Sash, that's precisely what's happened here.

"Gameplay is the most important part of the game!" It's assumed on general principle and needlessly laid out in beginners' reviews, but I'd say that we just found the exception that proves the rule. Paying close attention and spotting the contradictions makes for interesting gameplay, but the real reason why we do it and want to continue doing it is not that we consider it an intellectual challenge. We want to know what happens next, dammit!

That's what drove me to buy all these games and what will drive me toward the next episode, too - and beyond if they keep this level of quality up. And if Apollo Justice proves to be precisely the same kind of gameplay, with nothing of note added, more location and character rehashes, I'll complain about these things - but you'd better believe I'll be playing it.
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Title: Good old Impossible Mission.
Posted: November 07, 2007 (01:23 PM)
I was way too young when we first played that. Like everything else on our Commodore it was an illegal copy, of course, as everybody did at the time (and I was young enough to still believe that was the *intention* - I only wisened up to the reality of games being sold in stores a few years later). My father consistently misreferred to the game as Mission Impossible, obviously since he watched the series at the time (that WAS at that time, wasn't it?). My sister and I spoke no English at the time and we in turn bastardized the name to "Jimmy Possidoor", which we believed to be the name of the main character.

Memories like that should make it clear that my first brush with this game was more than 20 years ago, and to this date I can't finish the Commodore 64 original. Well, I did once on emulator with a trainerized ROM, but that doesn't count. It felt odd to play the DS version therefore and get through it so easily; I had fun, but after that I was disillusioned.

Worse, an oldschool game like this cannot AFFORD to be easy. RPGs nowadays last 100 hours all by themselves, but back in the eighties, a game only lasted as long as it took you to master it, so they had to make darn sure that took a while. Impossible Mission and basically any of the other top Commodore titles thrived only by virtue of challenge. Take the challenge, and you take the soul.

But it was still fun to play a borrowed cart.
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Title: Whoops, only just remembered Namco Museum.
Posted: November 03, 2007 (05:05 AM)
If anything's suitable for high score submissions it's this. I think that on Dig Dug and Galaga I might even draw some other people out of the woodwork and get some competition, make the high score submissions that much more interesting. Excepting perhaps Galaga these scores shouldn't be that tough to beat. Not on purpose, mind. I just suck nowadays. :P
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Title: Sure racking up the HG points like this.
Posted: September 28, 2007 (06:58 AM)
Blue Max proves lucrative. My score entry for it had disappeared (aaaah!), the tiny security hole that I suspect was behind it got fixed by HG yesterday, or earlier today, or however the time zones work. Happy with the fix, I found the screenshot I'd used earlier on my USB stick and submitted a new score entry.

Evidently, HG managed to refind my lost entry in the meantime, so when I returned a few hours later my new entry was accepted AND the old one was back up as well, so that the whole world may see not ONCE how awesome Sash is at Blue Max, but twice.

And the kicker - MY resubmit was worth 80 points, and apparently, so was HG's. Adding the original submission, that's now a total 240 over a single record. That Wii will be mine yet.
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Title: That "scores" contribution type is interesting...
Posted: September 17, 2007 (07:54 AM)
Normally I wouldn't have given a second thought to something filled with, no doubt, Guitar Hero records and God of War combo counts, but just as I first checked out this option a fellow Commodore 64 enthusiast had submitted scores for several old games. Some I could file under "no chance in hell" immediately, such as his score for Impossible Mission (to me, that game lives up to its name). Super Pipeline II was worth a quick try, but I was humbled in minutes. Blue Max, on the other hand - that looked doable.

So before I knew it, I was submitting a better score on that, and went on to set challenges on Cobra Triangle (always the most annoying game in my humble NES collection, moreso than even Trojan), and Super Pipeline (if you can't beat 'em at the sequel, just submit for the other one!).

I'm not necessarily the bragging type about gaming achievements, not in the last place because I have little to brag about. But this is more fun than just submitting screenshots to GameFAQs. This is like, I dunno, a screenshot with a story. Plus I've wanted to do something to help keep the Commodore alive ever since I started contributing, it's been one of my major motivations. What better way than interaction? Heck, maybe there'll be another review board acquiantance or two who'll grab an emu and give one of them a try now...I can always hope.
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Title: Attempt a new style
Posted: September 11, 2007 (02:54 AM)
Couple of inspirations for this one. The changes to GF's review system - to me anyway - gave new meaning to the differentiation between shorter and longer reviews. A specific purpose to each, perhaps. Since I have this problem with making my reviews far too detailed (and stale as a result) it was nice to try for the quick go for once. At this point I'm letting go of the need to describe everything that stands out in a game, even of the need to hit all the "mandatories" and discuss graphics, story, gameplay, controls, et cetera...basically, sectioned review disguised as an essay. Letting go. Just writing what comes to mind immediately, wrapping it up in 800 words or so, and if I missed anything, tough. If it didn't come to mind it probably wasn't that vital to present my opinion anyway, and a quick review is meant to be one among many anyway.

Second inspiration, recently finished two Phoenix Wright games and I was asked to talk about them in a mini-review topic on a secret board. Did that, and the point here is that it didn't feel like I was reviewing. Not the big thing I tend to make it in my mind, just telling a few specific other users about the games I played and what I thought of it. It was less forced.

Result? Shortly after posting I was recommended to submit 'em, and I thought, what the heck. 2nd review needed a little bit of work as it hinged on reading the first review too (after all, two consecutive posts in the topic). Added one paragraph with basic info that I figured it needed to stand on its own. Resisted urge to pad it out further, on submission they both went. GF accepted them. Submitted to HG. HG accepted them.

Be interesting to see what kind of feedback they draw, but more importantly, I feel good about these two. Been a while since I was really satisfied with one of my reviews - let alone two.
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