Backloggin’ the Year – Scar’s Streaming Escapades, September-December 2021
Welcome to Backloggin’ the Year, a feature that discusses the challenges and excitement that comes with working through your backlog. Fresh off the site’s Twitch stream, Ryan Radcliff discusses his journey to the end of 2021 through his Random Retro RPG Wheel stream adventures.
The retro wheel stream ended the year with a bang. The last four months of the year saw me complete eight games, with two more games completed as of this article. The chat kept the wheel spinning, and in turn, my completed list more than doubled. In October, we added some extra games to help replace all those games that left the wheel, which saw one of the all-time classic RPGs join the list of an already stellar lineup.
Below I will detail each game on the list during this stretch, tallying up 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
Wheel selections: 90 (21 in January-April, 33 in May-August, 36 in September-December)
Where I am: In the middle of chapter 19
Thoughts: The journey of Byuu to save and now protect princess Yoyo has led me through many maps and situations. I have found some secret characters and was even confused to see some former rivals join my cause. Most of my dragons have pretty neat designs, and the main one is still a wrecking crew with what appears to be an infinite amount of HP. We might be nearing the end of this one, but I still haven’t come across the holy dragon that the game is named after. Maybe he is still to come, but will he be friend or foe?
Wheel selections: 30 in September-December
Where I am: Starting up chapter 7
Thoughts: I played the mobile Langrisser game for a short time, so I am somewhat familiar with the series. This game follows Erwin, a travelling hero who ends up saving a young priestess, and the two journey together afterwards. This is a strategy RPG where the named-characters have units they can command in battle. Each character has an aura that empowers their units and leaving that range makes the grunts vulnerable. The main characters can also move into one of two advanced classes at the tenth level. The music is also top notch, and while battles can take a long time to complete, this looks like a game I will enjoy throughout my travels.
Dragon Quest III
Wheel selections: 70 (44 in May-August, 26 in September-December)
Where I am: Searching for a volcano
Thoughts: The journey of the third Dragon Quest protagonist has led him to many interesting locations. We are now searching for the sixth and final orb to do…something! Honestly, after playing so many different games, I have forgotten what I am supposed to do when I collect all six orbs. Hopefully, the game gives me a hint.
Wheel selections: 13 in September-December
Where I am: In chapter 4
Thoughts: Another strategy game was added to the wheel during my Halloween special stream. I renamed the protagonist Ryan (code name Scar), and set off on my mecha quest. You can attack specific body parts in this one, like aiming for the arms to remove a nasty weapon, or shooting at the legs to stop the unit’s mobility. One thing I always seem to forget after a battle is to restock my unit’s healing items. That really puts me in a bad position in the next skirmish. After each battle, you are also rewarded with money, weapons, and parts to which you can customize each mech and even going so far as changing its appearance and color. Seems fun so far, but the battles can be tricky.
Live A Live
Wheel selections: 93 (17 in January-April, 35 in May-August, 41 in September-December)
Where I am: Beaten on January 4
Thoughts: We beat all the scenarios in this game, so my journey through Live a Live is now finally over. I must say, this was one of the greatest RPG experiences I have had the privilege of playing. Each scenario was interesting and unique, and the ending was a fulfilling finale. Thanks to the power of save states, I was able to witness and complete all four different ending scenarios. If you have not had a chance to play this gem, I highly recommend it.
Marvelous: Another Treasure Island
Wheel selections: 72 (17 in January-April, 36 in May-August, 19 in September-December)
Where I am: Beaten on October 29
Thoughts: I enjoyed Marvelous, but I must say it suffers from the whole stream RNG wheel mechanic. If I were to replay it by itself, I think I would enjoy the experience more. Still, Marvelous had a lot of fun moments and I am glad I finally was able to play it. If you like puzzles, this game has them in spades. The three-headed protagonist juggling takes some getting used to, but we finally got off the island and made some new memories along the way.
Wheel selections: 74 (17 in January-April, 30 in May-August, 27 in September-December)
Where I am: Just saved Red Riding Hood from the Big Bad Wolf
Thoughts: After last season’s snag of having to restart Mystic Ark from the beginning, we were back on track with this game. It’s still pretty vague with what needs to be done next, but that leads to a lot of exploration, which may or may not be a good thing for some. My characters are all pretty high-leveled, so it hasn’t all been bad. We are currently in a fairy tale world and looking to collect another ark. The big bad seems to have finally revealed himself over the last few worlds. I feel like we are getting close to the end, but ultimately, I am unsure how much more game is left.
Record of Lodoss War
Wheel selections: 75 (10 in January-April, 38 in May-August, 27 in September-December)
Where I am: Beaten on January 4
Thoughts: I beat this game unexpectedly during my first stream of 2022. Let me tell you, the dungeons in this game are HORRIBLE. I am not of fan of their designs. It’s been forever and a day since I watched the Lodoss anime, so playing through this was refreshing in a sense. Unfortunately, the game has a horrible map system, and finding where to go next was sometimes a chore. This was not one of the better games I have played.
Sailor Moon: Another Story
Wheel selections: 64 (17 in January-April, 38 in May-August, 9 in September-December)
Where I am: Beaten October 10
Thoughts: The night we beat this game, we started the stream off with a Sailor Moon song from one of the movies (“The Power of Love” if you are curious!). My sailor scouts were plenty strong enough to knock out all the final bosses. While the graphics for this game were neat enough, and the battles had some pretty cool animations, the game sometimes felt empty. The music had more annoying tracks than memorable ones. It was fun to play through some of the story beats from the anime, but overall this game was rather underwhelming.
Secret of the Stars
Wheel selections: 64 (14 in January-April, 36 in May-August, 18 in September-December)
Where I am: Beaten on November 16
Thoughts: Probably the worst game I will have showcased on my wheel streams. I am glad that this game is over with and now in the rear-view mirror. I did learn way too late about team attacks, though they did help with the final bosses at least. Good riddance!
Super Robot Wars EX
Wheel selections: 34 in September-December
Where I am: Somewhere in chapter 10
Thoughts: Playing through an old Super Robot Wars game after being spoiled by the more modern entries in this series is ROUGH. The music definitely feels off, and battles have very little in the way of variety or structure, but that familiar charm is still there to a degree. This game follows Masaki Ando and his iconic Cybuster through the world of La Gias, and the green-haired one picks up characters from all sorts of different mecha anime. Being from the 90s, a lot of the series staples have yet to debut, so we are getting the old-school quality in this journey.
Wheel selections: 67 (33 in May-August, 34 in September-December)
Where I am: Heading to Spain, I think
Thoughts: Terranigma is fun! You get to fly with the birds and find missing lion kings, all while restoring the world to what it once was. During my travels, we even wandered into a human town that housed the Quintet building, adding an easter egg that was a delightful surprise. This is another game I had always wanted to play all the way through, but things always got in the way. The wheel is doing a good job of allowing me the chance to finally play some of these gems that I never had the opportunity to play when I was little.
The Ol’ “Like Riding a Bicycle” Games
Breath of Fire II
Wheel selections: 83 (14 in January-April, 35 in May-August, 34 in September-December)
Where I am: We need to find Patty for the final segment
Thoughts: Well, the church was evil; color me full on shocked. This one is closed to being wrapped up too. The new translation has been decent, but I still find myself referring to the characters by their original names. I collected all the shamans now, so all my characters have a nice little boost as we take down the final dungeon. We also got a flying town, which is a cool concept, but it is slow as molasses and doesn’t have the great music that played when we were able to fly on the bird.
Wheel selections: 21 in September-December
Where I am: In the bleak future
Thoughts: The wheel was finally graced with one of the greatest RPGs to land on the SNES. This game should provide plenty of replayability, as I can try to get all the numerous endings for our viewers entertainment. The music is simply outstanding, and the nostalgia has me feeling like I am travelling in the Epoch back to my youth. This is a most welcome addition to the lineup.
Dragon Quest V
Wheel selections: 19 in September-December
Where I am: Just found a flute for some fairies
Thoughts: So, when I say I have played Dragon Quest V, I refer to the DS version, and this is…not that. Honestly, I have a very vague recollection of the events in this game, so it’s almost like I am playing it for the first time. This game (and DQVI) must have come out after Dragon Quest III, because everything feels so dated compared to that title. Still, it has that series charm (and difficulty spikes) that I know all too well. Not being able to properly name my baby tiger was rather unfortunate.
Dragon Quest VI
Wheel selections: 20 in September-December
Where I am: Dead, looking for a shrine
Thoughts: Like DQV, I don’t remember much of this journey. I do recall the back and forth between the living and undead worlds, and travelling with my horse and entourage, but the story itself is a blur. I think we will eventually get to a place where our characters can pick from a bunch of different job classes too. I remember seeing this game in Nintendo Power and wishing it had been translated as all the screenshots looked great for the time.
Wheel selections: 72 (23 in January-April, 33 in May-August, 16 in September-December)
Where I am: Beaten on October 15
Thoughts: Fellow streamer Herrfrog was also playing Earthbound, and his attempt to snag the sword of kings ended up being a much shorter jaunt than what I had to deal with. That silly weapon would not drop for me, leading to my characters getting way over-leveled in the process. Eventually, it did drop, after hours of farming, and our journey continued and shortly wrapped up afterward. I adore this game and am happy to have been able to share another successful playthrough with the RPGamer community.
Final Fantasy IV
Wheel selections: 82 (20 in January-April, 41 in May-August, 21 in September-December)
Where I am: Beaten on November 30
Thoughts: Final Fantasy IV is a game I know I’ve replayed at least twenty times. It got me into RPGs and will always have a special place in my heart. We wrapped up the game in November and did a tribute with music from Powerglove to send it off properly.
Final Fantasy V
Wheel selections: 69 (14 in January-April, 24 in May-August, 31 in September-December)
Where I am: Making my way through a forest that is about to be set ablaze
Thoughts: The job grind in FFV is real. I have spent a lot of offline hours mastering some of the jobs (like Red Mage) just so I don’t have to deal with that while I stream. I have abused Blue Magic the most as it’s both cheap and powerful throughout the game. I should start exploiting the Chemist’s Mix ability too. Story-wise, we are in that one area in the game where we say farewell to one of our companions. It feels like of the FF titles on the wheel, this is the one I am taking the longest to complete.
Final Fantasy VI
Wheel selections: 42 in September-December
Where I am: Escaping the Empire in a minecart!
Thoughts: The wheel loved this game as soon as it debuted on the stream. It was the most picked game during those last four months and we have blitzed through a lot of the early story. While we no longer have FFIV, this and Chrono Trigger will help keep the wheel going strong with their iconic music and cast. I don’t need to say much more about this gem really. It’s a classic that I always enjoy.
Lufia & the Fortress of Doom
Wheel selections: 16 in September-December
Where I am: Inside the Old Cave
Thoughts: Lufia was one of the first RPGs I purchased when I was a child, and the nostalgia is strong in this one. It has a basic story and the characters aren’t too compelling, save for a few moments that make me smile. The soundtrack is top notch at least.
Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals
Wheel selections: 86 (19 in January-April, 28 in May-August, 39 in September-December)
Where I am: Finding out info on the Dual Blade
Thoughts: We said goodbye to a bunch of the side-characters and have finally gathered the final party in this game. I never did understand why Artea is called Arty in the menus screens. There is still a decent amount of game left, and that’s a good thing in my eyes.
Secret of Evermore
Wheel selections: 49 (21 in January-April, 26 in May-August, 2 in September-December)
Where I am: Beaten on September 14
Thoughts: We witnessed our dog go from wolf, to greyhound, to poodle, to a super powerful toaster that can shoot lasers! The hero was also really rocking that Marty McFly-styled vest for the entire adventure too. We saved Evermore, but unfortunately it appears that this game will be seen nevermore. Shame too, as I always have fun with this title.
Secret of Mana
Wheel selections: 49 (21 in January-April, 26 in May-August, 2 in September-December)
Where I am: Saving Santa
Thoughts: Another classic game from my childhood. It’s a shame I can’t play this with anyone else while streaming. I remember having a blast alongside my brother as we journeyed to restore the Mana sword back to its former glory and power. The wheel certainly does have a lot of great soundtracks on it now. We were able to see the Christmas portion of the game in December too. Now we just need to find Rudolf’s master.
Super Mario RPG
Wheel selections: 57 (18 in January-April, 30 in May-August, 9 in September-December)
Where I am: Beaten on October 8
Thoughts: Mario and Bowser should team up more. All this game was missing was Luigi as a playable character! I was able to collect almost all of the best items in the game, save for the ones that required me to do multiple jumps in a row. For whatever reason, I could not get that timing right! Ah well, it’s not like this game was hard or missing those items locked me out of anything vital.
The 7th Saga
Wheel selections: 46 (19 in January-April, 20 in May-August, 7 in September-December)
Where I am: Beaten on October 1
Thoughts: It had been ages since I last beat this game, so that final push to the ending was interesting. Once Valsu gets his Elixir spell, the game became pretty easy. It took me a few attempts to remember the correct order to use the Runes in the last fight, but we were able to ultimately secure the win. This playthrough was completed using Kamil and Valsu, but if the game ever returns, an entirely different duo will be used. Ultimately, it’s a fun game to replay, even if the progression is mainly the same for each character.
This was my most productive four-month period so far. We beat EIGHT games to end the year and many more and nearing the end of their stories too. What started in 2021 has become something I enjoy, and hopefully, the viewers do too. The wheel streams will continue to go strong in 2022, though we are transitioning to a six-month season instead of the previous four-month periods. On a personal note, I did not let the Friday night shots affect me as badly as the previous season did, so you won’t find anything too embarrassing in the archives!
What’s Next for the Wheel?
We have added Energy Breaker, Illusion of Gaia, Magic Knight Rayearth, and Robotrek to replace some of the wheel empty slots. Of those four games, I am only familiar with Illusion of Gaia, even though I will have to bust out my old Nintendo Power that charts where every Red Jewel is, can’t miss those! Hopefully, these new games can continue the standard of excellence that the stream has come to expect. Regardless, I am excited for 2022!
THE FINAL TALLY
Completed: 15 (Wanderers From Ys, Shadowrun, Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Soul Blazer, Secret of Evermore, The 7th Saga, Sailor Moon: Another Story, Super Mario RPG, Earthbound, Marvelous: Another Treasure Island, Tecmo: Secret of the Stars, Final Fantasy IV, Live a Live, Record of Lodoss War)
Total Wheel Spins: Over 1,700