Hiatus over – here’s what’s changing

Hey everyone, it’s been a while (7 months actually). I haven’t abandoned the blog, even though it may look like it. I’ve taken some time to think about what I want to do with it now that the initial goal has been met – 52 weeks of random games from my shelves was an interesting experiment for me. Here are the changes I’m doing or at least considering:

 

  1. Rename the blog – this should be pretty obvious, but “52 Week Backlog Challenge” was a hasty name I put in to get me rolling, and I never changed it. I’m still not certain what the new name will be (I’ve got some ideas), but I will be renaming it sometime soon.
  2. Label content better – I’ve been using tags, but really I should be noting the type of content in the title as well. Here are the preliminary types:
    1. Review – self explanatory, game or hardware reviews. I don’t feel that I need to finish a game to review it, but at this time I don’t see me reviewing something that isn’t done yet. I only did one review last year and it took me a while to write it, so don’t expect a ton of these.
    2. Quick Play – this was the bread and butter of the blog last year – a few hours of something and some first impressions. I’ll still be doing these from time to time but they are no longer the focus of the blog.
    3. Long Play – a new feature which I will go into below.
  3. Long Plays – I’ve had this idea kicking around for some time. Inspired by the ‘Together Retro’ feature on Racket Boy I will select a game randomly from a list and play it for a month or two. Because of my real life responsibilities I will probably only be able to play a few hours a week, but most of the games I’ve selected should be able to be finished in that time. I’m setting up just a few rules for myself… if I’m hating the game I can stop, if I’m loving it and I’m out of time (2 months are up) I can keep going, anything from the PS2/GC/Xbox era and older is up for grabs, and I should do my level best to finish the game before time is up. If I finish a game early, I will immediately pick another to play. I’ve created a list mainly using items from last year’s backlog challenge so I know before hand that I’ll like most of the games that can be selected. Before I start, I will write about my history with the game up to this point and my preconceived notions before I start. After I’m done, I’ll write about the game (not necessarily a review, but possible) and my experience with it – how does it hold up, was I right or wrong with my thoughts before hand, etc.

What all this means is that this blog will be updated less frequently, but with longer, meatier entries that are hopefully better composed than last year.

Thanks for reading the wall of text and hope to see you around!

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Phelios

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Phelios (Giant Bomb|Wikipedia) is a vertical scrolling shooter released on the Genesis early in its lifespan. Unlike most shooters that I can think of, Phelios is loosely based on Greek mythology – certainly an interesting setting for the genre. You play as Apollo and when your girlfriend Artemis is kidnapped, you leap onto your Pegasus and fight to get her back. That’s the entirety of the story, and it’s fine. There really only needs to be an excuse for the gameplay in these types of games.

As mentioned above, Phelios is a vertical scrolling shooter with a lot of the standard trappings – you shoot swarms of enemies that appear in a predictable manner (read: pattern memorization), you can move in the cardinal directions on the screen to avoid enemy fire, and you can pick up power ups to do more damage or give you ‘options’ which will further enhance your firepower. One small difference from the normal is that you can take more than one hit before dying (four to be exact), which is a nice addition because¬†Phelios has a difficulty level far above average. While I admittedly am not very skilled in shooters, the difficulty was pretty severe even on easy. Speaking of easy, one oddity I noticed was that when starting the game, you are given an option of two difficulty levels: easy and normal. The strangeness is that easy only covers levels 1-4, while normal is 1-7. I guess if you want the whole game you need to play on normal.

Visually, Phelios is pretty typical for an early Genesis title. Colors are a bit limited, and some sprites are more basic than they probably should be. This may make it sound like I’m down on the graphics, but I’m not – it’s just fairly standard for 1990.

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The sound effects are also pretty unremarkable, with some explosions and other sounds coming across as a bit weak. The music is pretty good but not really memorable. The developers also put a fair amount of voice sampling in the game, which is good for what it is, but the Genesis was never really good at doing voice samples so they are fairly hard to understand.

At the end of the day, I really like shooters like Phelios but I’m really, really bad at them. It seems to me that this is an above average shooter for the platform and release year, with an interesting backdrop.

Verdict: Play again – like most shooters, I’ll come back to this periodically but never finish it. I’m terrible at shooters.

Images courtesy of Giant Bomb

First Post

 

The purpose of this blog is to give me a reason to play¬† at least 52 games in my backlog. I have a moderately sized gaming collection, and have limited time to play said games. My goal is to play each game for an hour or two and write a brief summary of what I thought – first impressions really. I’ll also make a note of what games are worthy of going back to and what games will go back on the shelf permanently.

I may also do some other entries as time and interest allow, including reviews of games that I finish throughout the course of the year.