We’re wrapping up yet another wild year of video games, and I’m prepared to make a host of predictions and promises that likely won’t be lived up to. As usual, before we get started, let’s see how I did with last year’s resolutions. (And go easy on me. I had a kid in 2017, so I have a reason for coming up short)
- Beat Final Fantasy… as in, the original game – I sunk quite a few hours into this on the NES Classic Edition, and I’m happy to say I have a new appreciation for the game. I also have a new appreciation for the Super Nintendo, which knows how to properly pace an RPG and doesn’t get bogged down in 30-second battle animations. I had to quit once I got to areas that had nine enemies on the screen at once. So much text… Give my life a few months to calm down, and I’ll give this a stab again… I wish it was on the Switch.
- Beat Final Fantasy… as in the XIII trilogy – Nope, my priorities changed throughout the year, and Lightning and crew failed to keep up. Maybe someday I’ll finally beat these… when Square Enix puts them on the Switch. I’d rather see Final Fantasy XII first if that’s the case.
- Keep the retro spirit burning bright – Oh yeah, no question here. This was an easy one, and I burned through more classics than I did new games in 2017. The direction that modern gaming has taken made it easy to focus on sentimental favorites. I’m also closing the year out on Romancing SaGa 2, a game that is 25-years-old!
- Don’t deny my attraction to… Overwatch – Dropped this like a bad habit, which it kind of was. However, Mei is still super cute.
- Catch ’em all! – I was on the path to catch ’em all, but I got stuck on Machop and gave up before I was able to close out his evolutionary line. Maybe someday I’ll finish this, but only when my mom is around.
- Play something new, maybe? – I actually did a lot of this one earlier in the year. NieR, Nioh, and a host of other games came falling into my lap early in 2017, and I finished the year with Super Mario Odyssey, one of the best video games I’ve ever played. It does help to try new things once in a while.
Yeah, decent track record given my life’s situation, but as I said, priorities change, gaming habits change, and I’m more focused on consolidating the things that matter rather than branching out in these busy times.
And with that in mind as our theme, here are my gaming resolutions for 2018.
Switch or bust!!!
For the first time since the original PlayStation, I own only a single video game console in its generation. I sold my PlayStation 4 in 2017 and, in the process, dedicated myself to the Switch for the foreseeable future. Nintendo had a killer year by releasing 2017’s two biggest critical hits, and by extension, it just has that much to live up to in 2018, which might prove to be a make or break year for the console.
More importantly, even if it can’t reach those peaks again, Nintendo has created a console that speaks to me as a gamer once again. I’m a busy adult, I have a son, several jobs, and barely any time to sit in front of a television set and enjoy games anymore. With the Switch, I was able to sink dozens of hours into games I would never have found the time to enjoy had I been stuck to a television set. Whereas Sony and Microsoft duke it out for superior tech and specs, Nintendo is speaking directly to my tendencies as a gamer, which currently has it in the lead on all fronts. Powerful processors, HDR gaming, and 4K screen resolution are all useless to me if I can’t find the time to use them!
In 2018, I’d be very surprised if I bought a game for any console other than the Switch.
Cut back on excessive blind buying
I’ve been improving year on year with this. I started ignoring PlayStation sales, and I barely even open Steam anymore. As I get older and start focusing beyond the horizon, money will, unfortunately, start to play a much more important role in my life. In other words, I can’t go blowing a thousand dollars a year on games anymore, it just can’t happen if I want to provide for my family and secure our futures.
I have a list of games I’m interested in, and I doubt I will look much beyond them. Owlboy, Dragon Quest XI, Mega Man 11, Project: Octopath Traveler, Valkyria Chronicles 4… all stemming from or inspired by the classic age of gaming. Focusing on the Switch will make this resolution easy, but more importantly, I’ve never been more confident in my life on the kind of games I want to play. And with how huge of a rollercoaster 2018 is expected to be for me, I have absolutely no itching to break away from my comfort zone.
If Nintendo introduces Virtual Console to the Switch though, you can kiss this resolution goodbye.
Trim down on my video game collection
Another resolution inspired by my whittling away at the excess of gaming in my life. Some games are just as important to me as they were when I played them 20 or 30 years ago, and those games will forever remain in my collection. However, from the days of the PlayStation 2 until the present, I managed to rack up quite a huge shelf of physical games I never intend to touch again. Games I remember fondly but simply lack the emotional connection to ever dive into or explore once more.
These games have got to go. Some have been sitting in my parent’s basement for the last ten years and could happily be in someone else’s collection or spinning in their disc drives. I’ve taken a whittling knife to my collection before, but once I repatriate to the States later this year, I intend to take a chainsaw to it!
Dig up some weird Japanese gems, finally beat those fan translations
Romancing SaGa 2‘s official release earlier in December has shown me how much I’m truly missing by ignoring the pile of niche Japanese games and fan-translations I have stacked up on my PC. I really need to start working my way through this pile of games if I’m not going to be keeping up with the modern market as much anymore.
Dragon Quest III is now the only game in the series I haven’t played, and those who have played the Super Famicom fan-translation often claim it to be the best! Bahamut Lagoon is also a game that has stared at me for the past decade and a half, just waiting to be properly played. If only I could do so on a portable gaming device.
And beyond the Super Famicom, I’m really into stuff from the boom of the CD generation in Japan. PC Engine CD, SEGA CD, these consoles might not have been the biggest success in the United States, and have since been relegated as jokes, but in Japan, there are plenty of sentimental favorites that have survived the rolling times. Castlevania: Rondo of Blood is hardly the only lost grail of this era. Valis, Lunar, so many games that helped pioneer games on CDs emerged from this era.
Popful Mail especially comes to mind!
Beat Xenoblade Chronicles 2… and Breath of the Wild
As it looks now, the Nintendo Switch will be granting me a bit of respite from huge releases, and I’ll be using that time to catch up on some of last year’s games.
I’ve played both of the previous games in the Xenoblade Chronicles series, but I have yet to beat either of them. Hopefully, the portable accessibility of the Switch will allow me to do just that for Xenoblade Chronicles 2! My copy got misplaced en route to my house, which might actually be a good thing since Romancing SaGa 2 has my total attention at the moment. I don’t need this hulking game to tear me away from the best 16-bit JRPG I’ve played since the 16-bit JRPG days.
As for Breath of the Wild, I need to take another swing at it. Open-world design began digging into my soul long before Nintendo utilized it, and this latest Legend of Zelda game is something of a victim to my own exhaustion in that regard. I need to let this one sit a while before I jump back in and, in the meantime, ignore any Ubisoft sandboxes. Those won’t help with my cynicism.