Backloggin’ the Year – Scar’s Streaming Escapades, January-June 2022
Welcome to Backloggin’ the Year, a feature that discusses the challenges and excitement that come with working through your backlog. Fresh off the site’s Twitch stream, Ryan Radcliff discusses his SNES RPG adventures of the first half of 2022 through his stream travels.
¡Buenos dias, amigos!
In 2021, the retro wheel gave us a full year’s worth of action and adventure, and very little has changed (other than the games themselves) in 2022. We had one special stream where I had my very first unboxing video of a bunch of RPG treasures, which was a blast! There was even an additional wheel that was around for a few streams, which had some of the other games that I had loaded onto my system, but never showcased on the stream. That concept, while interesting, got a little convoluted with the back-and-forth nature of switching between each wheel. So those games were incorporated into the regular wheel, which culminated into largest amount of games on the wheel ever!
The “New To Me” Games
Wheel selections: 138 (21 from January-April, 33 from May-August, 36 from September-December, 48 from January-June)
Where I am: Beaten on May 13
Thoughts: My final thoughts on this game are that it looks pretty fabulous on the SNES, but it lacks a lot of substance in regards to character development outside of a few of the characters. The gameplay was also relatively easy, though my dragons were maxed out fairly early on. It’s a fun game, the mix of strategy and turn-based mechanics worked pretty well together, and growing the dragons was also a neat touch. I just wish there was more to do.
Wheel selections: 77 (30 from September-December, 47 from January-June)
Where I am: Starting up chapter 19
Thoughts: This game is tough. My units always seem to be weaker than the enemies, and by the time I can clear the map and reach the boss, the remaining troops are severely crippled and completing the stages becomes a RNG luck draw. I ended up going down the imperial path, so Leon joined my squad as we turned our back on all the lawful units. I don’t have a dedicated healer currently and I am struggling in each battle, but I do have a few tricks up my sleeve that help make this game tolerable. Oh, and the music in this game is fantastic.
Dragon Quest III
Wheel selections: 97 (44 from May-August, 26 from September-December, 27 from January-June)
Where I am: Beaten on March 11
Thoughts: We completed our first Dragon Quest game early in 2022, and this was an interesting journey. This was a new Dragon Quest experience, but it felt so familiar, with its presentation and music, it seemed like a game I had already played in my past. It’s a cozy game that doesn’t do anything too bizarre, but it has loads of that Dragon Quest charm that makes all the games in the series a pleasant experience. I did have to do some grinding near the end, but other than getting lost in a few spots, I enjoyed this one a lot.
Wheel selections: 49 from January-June
Where I am: About to enter a skyscraper that just appeared
Thoughts: I have to admit, I was not feeling this game at first. While the sprite work, characters, and music all seemed right up my alley, battles were rough starting out. It is a strategy RPG, and each character has a certain amount of points they can use each turn. The issue I have with this system is that moving uses five energy points, regardless of distance, and these are the same points that characters need to perform actions on that turn. Sometimes, characters will only have 4 energy points on their turn, so they can’t move, and can only perform one action. As the characters level, these numbers start to rise and the struggle lessens, but there is also a timer on each battle. Every fight has a strict game over scenario where if you waste too many turns, you lose. This cost me a few early game resets, but I think the worst is behind me. The learning curve was harsh, but I am now enjoying the game more.
Wheel selections: 52 (13 from September-December, 39 from January-June)
Where I am: In chapter 13
Thoughts: I found that the trick to this game is just keeping your units updated with the latest mech parts after each chapter. Usually, that will be enough to keep you even with the next level’s difficulty. I have tried experimenting with a few different body parts, but some are just flat out better than others. At least I am remembering to keep my healing items stocked up. The story is basic, but the team isn’t doing much beyond clearing out the remnants of an old army in different maps. Nothing too crazy happening in this game right now, but at least it’s not a chore.
Magic Knight Rayearth
Wheel selections: 29 from January-June
Where I am: Beaten on March 25
Thoughts: A rather short game, Magic Knight Rayearth debuted and was beat in just three months. I was shocked at how fast I reached the credits, and looked online to see if I missed something, but alas that was the complete game. It does have nice sprite work in and out of battle, and the three magic knights are sometimes joined by a fourth party member. It wasn’t special, but it also didn’t overstay its welcome, so it just became a quick little game we had join the wheel.
Wheel selections: 95 (17 from January-April, 30 from May-August, 27 from September-December, 21 from January-June)
Where I am: Beaten on March 4
Thoughts: This was a fun game to play. Sure, the story is almost nonexistent, and some progression is obscure, but I still had fun playing the spiritual successor to The 7th Saga. Adding a third party member to this formula really made the game a breeze, and I rarely had any trouble with any of the encounters. Perhaps I was a tad over-leveled.
Wheel selections: 59 from January-June
Where I am: The mayor is a phony, and we need to expose him!
Thoughts: Robotrek is a weird game that I never got around to buying or renting as a kid. The player doesn’t fight, but instead can build robots to go into battles to fight for him. You can build up to three robots, though only one can be in a fight at a time, but as you fight and gain experience you can upgrade and retool your robots. There’s a little bit of customization here, which is nice, but I have found that battles were either a slog or beaten in one turn. It’s different, but other than being a new experience for me, it’s nothing groundbreaking.
Shin Megami Tensei
Wheel selections: 3 from January-June
Where I am: Got thrown in jail, then sent to a hospital
Thoughts: We had initially included this game in the first rendition of the wheel, but “trimmed the fat” and this was one of the games cut. Now that we are nearing the end of the SNES Mini’s game library, I figured we could throw it in and try our luck. Considering I am playing SMTV for my JRPGJuly game, I am interested to see the origins of this series.
Super Robot Wars EX
Wheel selections: 72 (34 from September-December, 38 from January-June)
Where I am: Beaten on May 10
Thoughts: I was glad to beat this game, because I am spoiled by the newer entries of this series. This game is bogged down by having poor animations, outdated UI, and slow battles. The story was fine, as I was familiar with the main character and some of the units we met. Anyone unfamiliar with this series should definitely try the GBA games and beyond since those begin utilizing modern mechanics that streamline these games which tend to run rather long.
Tales of Phantasia
Wheel selections: 7 from January-June
Where I am: Just found a priest in jail
Thoughts: I debated including this game on the wheel, because there’s a better version on the PlayStation and I am contemplating if I want to move on to the PlayStation Classic once all these games are beat, though I don’t know how smooth the transition is from game to game. Still, I added the game and it’s fine. It’s better than the Game Boy version at least, so that’s a plus.
Wheel selections: 113 (33 from May-August, 34 from September-December, 46 from January-June)
Where I am: Looking for Star Stones
Thoughts: We are moving right along in this game, and I am upset that it never released in the US, because it would have been an instant classic to fans. Thankfully I am finally getting a chance to enjoy this hidden gem, and it has delivered. We just woke up some evil scientist cult-leader guy, and now need to collect some Star Stones for reasons. Since I am unfamiliar with this game, I am thankful for all the viewers who have been giving me hints and pointing me in the right direction when I do eventually get lost.
Treasure of the Rudras
Wheel selections: 49 (15 from January-April, 31 from May-August, 3 from January-June)
Where I am: In the middle of the second protagonist’s story
Thoughts: And this game is back! I had tried to quietly beat the other protagonists’ stories during my off time, but I got stuck and stopped playing the game. I thought it would be fun to bring it back, and I was finally able to figure out where I got stuck and move the story forward. So, let’s beat this game properly now. There are four scenarios and we are in the middle of the second protagonist’s journey, right after we reclaimed his original body from a soul-sucking thief. Good times!
Ys 4: Mask of the Sun
Wheel selections: 2 from January-June
Where I am: Just got out of the first town, trying to get some money for gear
Thoughts: I was supposed to play the whole Ys series this year, and this is the first Ys game I have started. I was hoping this would have a battle system like Ys III, but it’s back to the smash-into-enemies mechanic that I did not enjoy from the first Ys. We are very early in the game, so I have been running into enemies outside the first town to buy gear for now. I know from experience that I will need the best gear available, and possibly be over-leveled if I am going to beat this one.
The Ol’ “Like Riding a Bicycle” Games
Breath of Fire II
Wheel selections: 99 (14 from January-April, 35 from May-August, 34 from September-December, 16 from January-June)
Where I am: Beaten on February 25
Thoughts: The updated translation had some rough patches here and there, but ultimately I still enjoyed my time replaying this game. The Breath of Fire series always had great sprite work, but the early games did suffer from weak scripts. With this one on the shelf, we turn to its older brother, the one that jump-started the series, and while there wasn’t a readily available patch for the translation, I think we will enjoy our time with it.
Wheel selections: 87 (21 from September-December, 66 from January-June)
Where I am: Lavos just killed someone…
Thoughts: Everyone loves Chrono Trigger and so did the wheel. It debuted and was an instant favorite, being selected more than any other game in the past six months. Because of that, we have made good progress in this game, nearing the final stretch. We should be beating it during the second half of the year, but I was playing with the idea of trying to get a few of the other endings while we are at it. I doubt anyone will care that Chrono Trigger stays on the wheel beyond one completion.
Dragon Quest V
Wheel selections: 77 (19 from September-December, 58 from January-June)
Where I am: We are getting married, but to whom?
Thoughts: We are getting married! We went from being a slave to getting married while looking for our mother. I married Bianca on the DS version of this game because the kids’ portraits make them look like Super Saiyans, but the SNES doesn’t have this capacity so I’m choosing Flora this go-around. I also spent plenty of time in the casino to buy two Metal King Swords, which has trivialized the combat for now. Finding shortcuts to make one of these games easier helps me focus on other obstacles the wheel may throw my way.
Dragon Quest VI
Wheel selections: 76 (20 from September-December, 56 from January-June)
Where I am: Terry just killed a monster and opened our next path
Thoughts: I am reaching uncharted grounds in DQVI, because once you reach the point where the job classes open up, I can’t seem to recall what comes next. I vaguely remember meeting and recruiting Terry, which is where I am currently at, but beyond that it is a blur. Here’s to exploring the vast unknown!
Final Fantasy V
Wheel selections: 119 (14 from January-April, 24 from May-August, 31 from September-December, 50 from January-June)
Where I am: Learning the final Blue Mage spell, after Phoenix
Thoughts: The last active game from the first wheel, our journey through FFV is coming to an end. We collected all the legendary weapons and are now just finishing up a few of the remaining sidequests before tackling the final dungeon. I still have a few Blue Magic spells to acquire, and there are plenty of jobs left to master, but I am still having fun.
Final Fantasy VI
Wheel selections: 90 (42 from September-December, 48 from January-June)
Where I am: Running around the gambler’s ex-lover’s tomb
Thoughts: The world is in ruins and the entire cast is scattered around the globe. This is probably my favorite part of the game, given how much freedom the player has to do whatever they want. Once the airship is acquired, you can fly up to Kefka’s Tower and attempt to beat the game, not that I would recommend that! I named the cast based off RPGamers that view the stream and I plan to populate my party with those viewers when they are watching. Not sure how clean that progress will go, but it should at least help keep the teams changing from stream to stream.
Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War
Wheel selections: 5 from January-June
Where I am: Still in Map 1
Thoughts: One of the games I added to my short-lived Salt Wheel. Initially I was going to attempt a perma-death no reset run, but screw that. I want my units to stay with me to the end, which in this game comes pretty early! Sigurd and company don’t stick around for too long, but they are all pretty good units for the time you use them. It’s been a while since I’ve played this one, so I am getting refreshed on the characters and settings this go-around. Looking forward to a few rewinds, after I make mistakes on the map.
Illusion of Gaia
Wheel selections: 45 from January-June
Where I am: Just completed the Great Wall section
Thoughts: I knew I’d like Terranigma because of how much I adore this game. The journey of Will to protect princess Kara while also trying to find hints about the whereabouts of his lost father takes him to some pretty gnarly locations. Most of the dungeons are real-world locations and I have always been very interested in seeing these places in person thanks to this game. We are just clearing the Great Wall of China dungeon, which would be such an amazing sight to behold in person. I am also using a guide to make sure I collect all fifty Red Jewels, so we can get to that bonus area.
Lufia & the Fortress of Doom
Wheel selections: 78 (16 from September-December, 62 from January-June)
Where I am: Searching for Alumina
Thoughts: While I do have nostalgia goggles for this game, you can’t deny the warts. This entry is basically “Fetch Quest: The Game”. We are currently looking for seven pieces of Alumina to fix the submarine so that we can go underwater to begin our search for the Dual Blade, but to get those items, we need to find some guy that has the insight on their whereabouts, but he is staying at a town that is locked behind the Tower of Light. This may take a while.
Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals
Wheel selections: 116 (19 from January-April, 28 from May-August, 39 from September-December, 30 from January-June)
Where I am: Beaten on April 12
Thoughts: While the main story has been completed, I decided to keep the game on the wheel so we could fully explore the Ancient Cave. Fun fact: If you beat the game twice, you unlock a mode that is solely dedicated to the Ancient Cave. This mode allows players to pick from the entire cast to journey into the randomly generated extra dungeon. We are going to try to reach the bottom while also collecting all of the Iris treasures. Lufia 2 lives on!
Tonight we say goodbye to another one of my all time favorite SNES RPGs, Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals. The bad guys are beat, but the story isn’t over just yet! Tune in tonight for that and much more in my retro RPG stream! https://t.co/vHw9CU4jwq pic.twitter.com/UbMZmAQ2IX
— Ryan A. Radcliff (@RadShadow) April 15, 2022
Secret of Mana
Wheel selections: 84 (21 from January-April, 26 from May-August, 28 from September-December, 35 from January-June)
Where I am: Unlocked the Sunken Continent
Thoughts: The journey of the Mana heroes is close to wrapping up. We are a few dungeons away from this game’s finale. Like some of the other titles on the SNES, this one has some issues, mainly with the bad companion UI, but that hasn’t stopped the stream from making real good progress in this early entry in the Mana series. Nintendo Power helped grow my RPG curiosity, and I vividly remember seeing the edition with the golden dragon that covered this game. It captured my attention and heart that day, and this is one of those flawed games I can play forever.
The start of 2022 was very productive, as we mixed new and old games for me to dip my toes in. I love playing these games, and while some aren’t the easiest to tackle, the SNES Mini provides a significant boost of ease with its save states and rewind options that allow me to more easily navigate and succeed than if I were to play these on the regular SNES hardware. The wheel has been restocked with even more games so the second half of the year looks to keep the good times rolling, or rather spinning.
What’s Next for the Wheel?
We have added Brain Lord, Breath of Fire 1, Dragon View, Ogre Battle, Seiken Densetsu 3, and Tactics Ogre to replace some of the games that left the wheel this first half of the year. Of those games, I am pretty familiar with BoF1, SD3, and the Ogre games. All the RPGs loaded on my SNES Mini are now on the wheel, so if/when we complete them, we might transition to something else. Who knows? There still are plenty of SNES RPGs I never got to play due to a good chunk never getting official translations. The voyage continues, dear readers. I am thankful to get this opportunity to stream so many wonderful games for the fans of RPGs and our site.
THE FINAL TALLY
Completed: 22 (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, Breath of Fire 2, Mystic Ark, Dragon Quest III, Magic Knight Rayearth, Lufia 2, Super Robot Wars, & Bahamut Lagoon)
Total Wheel Spins: Over 2,600