Backloggin’ the Year – Sam’s Sojourn, April to June 2023

Remember how I joked about 2023 being the longest year ever? Unfortunately, the hits kept on coming for me I am afraid. First off we lost my beautiful labrador retriever Dakota back in April due to cancer spreading throughout her body. The poor girl lost so much mobility and didn’t have a quality of life. My husband and I were heartbroken but knew it was the right call. To make matters worse, I broke two bones in my forearm in May while hiking with some friends, so the majority of May and June has been all about recovery. I’ve been very fortunate to have such amazing friends, colleagues, and my RPGamer family checking in on me. My cast came off last Tuesday, and now I have six weeks of physiotherapy before I am even allowed to go back to being a goofy children’s librarian.

Trans Lives Matter!

Trans Lives Matter!

Being off work and having minimal mobility has been a frustrating experience, but it’s also allowed me to rest, decompress, and go slowly. As many of my friends have joked, I have prime gaming and reading time, which I have been taking full advantage of. There have been many challenges when it comes to gaming, as it was a lot of trial and error as to what kind of games I could play one-handed. Now that my arm is out of its cast, I’ve had to do more tests to see what kind of mobility I have playing certain styles of games. I can finally play things with a 3D camera again, but my fingers are still stiff from muscle atrophy I can’t enjoy anything too action-y or games that require a lot of quick movement, so you’ll notice a trend of what types of games I was enjoying throughout these last few months.

I was so hopeful for a positive and revitalizing spring before the summer scorcher. Ah well, at least video games kept me company! For the purposes of this feature, I’m only going to focus on the games I haven’t written articles or reviews about. If you would like to read more of my in-depth thoughts, check out the following:

The RPGs I Played

Meet my true love… Randy!

Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster (Switch): Thank you Pixel Remaster edition for making Final Fantasy I a more tolerable game by adding experience and gil boosting, and the ability to turn encounters off at will. Old JRPGs love their incredibly high encounter rates, and there was one section of the game where I was thrilled to be able to turn off encounters, which was the swamp. I also beat the game around the five-hour mark! I enjoyed the quick replay, and who doesn’t love that Garland is gonna knock you down?

Final Fantasy IV Pixel Remaster (Switch): I adored Final Fantasy IV, even though the game gives me sadder feelings nowadays given it makes me think of our former EiC, Michael Cunningham. This is the game where nearly everyone dies, but wait… are not actually dead as a trope. It is ridiculous how often this occurs, and yet each “death” is both so heroic and incredibly sad. This game is also crazy in that you get to fly on a lunar whale and go to the moon. We meet spoony bards, grumpy magicians, a Cid that looks like he’s out of the Megaman franchise, and the best twins ever, Palom and Porom. In all seriousness, I love this game so much, and while the story is pretty crazy, the cast is so memorable, and many of the characters such as Cecil and Rydia have some amazing growth. I did, however, forget how much I hated the final boss in this game!

Final Fantasy VI Pixel Remaster (Switch): Replaying Final Fantasy VI for the first time in years was such an exciting gaming moment for me. From the coin toss scene to the opera, there are so many unique story beats in this game. It also helps that the game has a memorable cast of characters, each with a unique story to work through. It offers RPGamers one of the most beautiful romances in the form of Celes and Locke. I could feel my heart fluttering! Then there’s the mad clown Kefka, who there is a reason why he is such an iconic villain. Jerk blows up the world, commits many murders, and giggles his way through life. He also has one of the best theme songs in Final Fantasy history. It’s easy to see why Final Fantasy VI is considered a full package for RPG fans between its top-notch storytelling and its fantastic and varied cast of characters. My favourite numbered entry game, and only second to Final Fantasy Tactics.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero & Trails to Azure (Switch): I am the slowest Trails player ever. I own all the games out in English but then wuss out because of how long they are. With encouragement from Anna Marie, she suggested since I had completed Trails of Cold Steel II a while back, to jump into the Crossbell Arc rather than jumping into Trails of Cold Steel III. I appreciated her suggestion and found two new top-tier favourite RPGs. The Crossbell games have my favourite cast of characters, tons of political intrigue, and hilarious and deep sidequest content that is worth doing, and it gave me my new favourite video game husband, Randy Orlando. All the characters receive fantastic story arcs that make you fall even more in love with them, and there is something about Crossbell’s setting that is incredibly engaging. These two games had mafias, theme parks, cults, and giant robots! All my favourite things in a story! Upon finishing Azure I immediately wanted to jump into Trails of Cold Steel III, and then realize at the time that I couldn’t play games with a 3D camera with my cast. Now that my cast is off, you bet this is happening soon! I need more Randy in my life.

All the Non-RPG Goodness

Mizuki is very touchy-feely!

While most of the last three months have been a focus on one-handed gaming, I did manage before I broke my arm to knock out Resident Evil: Village which I absolutely loved. I haven’t played Resident Evil since I was a teenager, so I thought Village would be an interesting starting point. It was a lot of fun, but Ethan Winters may just be too stupid to die. I also startle very easily, which had everyone in my house laughing at me. I plan on checking out the remakes from work once I’m back. Is Resident Evil 7 worth playing? I keep hearing mixed things about it and would love to hear your thoughts on whether it’s worth the time and effort. I also checked out a quick little hidden object game that was free on Steam and great for one-handed play called 100 Hidden Frogs!

In my quest to find games to play one-handed, I found myself falling into an otome hole, playing through all of Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani and Charade Maniacs. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about them because I’m working on some content for the site regarding both games, but they were both very interesting experiences. The main non-RPG that I was heavily into was Advance Wars, which I completed the first game in the 1+2 collection! I will say, this was an awesome remake although I forgot how brutal the endgame was! I have started Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising and have been playing the odd map here and there. I may have gone a bit too hard on the first game while I was immobile. Medium tanks and bombers to the rescue!

Whatcha Playing Now, Sam?

My body is ready.

Since this post is going up a bit later than I would have liked, at this point I’ve completed two games already in July (but we shall discuss them next backloggin’ session), so my focus for #JRPGJuly is working through a game I’ve only heard praise for, Octopath Traveller II. The game has gotten nothing but glowing reviews (including one from the amazing Matt Masem!) and it’s truly easy to see why with the five hours I’ve played. I’ve been working through a bunch of the first chapters, starting with Ochette, and have met Castti, Partitio, and Hikari. I’m absolutely looking forward to seeing how each character’s story will unfold and I cannot wait to put more time into it. I also have one more Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster title to work through to complete the collection so that is definitely going to be played as well!

2023 Game Tally

View Sam’s Completed Games

Games Completed: 22

# of RPGs Completed: 12

# of Non-RPGs Completed: 10

# of Games Purchased: 9

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