2011 was a strong year in gaming. Lots of AAA titles released, and a lot of playing, writing, and buying (eesh) from yours truly. Of the 50 games I (somehow) managed to conquer in 2011, 23 were games formerly entrenched in my backlog, 21 were games bought in 2011, and the rest were replays and cop-outs. Overall, probably exceeding my expectations. For one, I actually fucking did it, and for two I exposed myself to a lot of new games and series that I wouldn't have bothered with if I hadn't motivated myself in this way. Hell, I finally finished Shadow of the Colossus and Ocarina of Time the past few weeks.
And that's just the games I actually finished. I got stuck at the final boss of two games and never knocked them out (Prinny: CIRBTH on PSP and Legend of Kage 2 on DS). I got to the very end of Super Princess Peach before putting in down in anger over needing to search for 20 doohickeys to finish it. I ended up playing the lengthy Dragon Age Origins twice through (30+ hours each) and also have two incomplete playthroughs. I'm still in the throes of playing Half-Life, 3D Dot Game Heroes and a few other games that I'll want to finish in 2012. I succeeded in my main goal, but failed in others. But now I need something new to keep me playing.
2012 is a new year, and my goals will be more modest. I have chosen twelve games (it is 2012, after all), all of which I've owned for some time. It will be obvious from the get go what they have in common: these are all huge, time-consuming games. Eight are RPGs and four are involved single-player action games. I avoided these games in past years because they were intimidating; do I really want to play a game I know will last 50 hours when I'm not sure I'll really feel invested in it? For some of these games, I've had that feeling for years. For others, I considered playing them last year during my quest for fifty, but held off knowing that I could finish three or four games in the time period it would take to beat that one.
Before I talk about those twelve games, I should probably mention that my dedication to them will not be rock-solid. There will be other games that pop up that I will want to play (Tales of Graces F, Torchlight II), others that I might unwisely buy on a whim, and still others unfinished from this year that I'll want to wrap up (3D Dot Game Heroes, Radiant Historia, et al.). I can also tell you straight away that I will replay inFamous 2 very, very soon. I've wanted to do that since... not long after finishing it the first time. Don't even get me started on what I still want to do in Disgaea 4. I'm still going to blog about every game I beat this year, but I'll stop naming posts by number - I really haven't decided where to go on that item yet.
So, without further ado, the list of twelve games I want to beat in 2012. You know, before the world ends. List is alphabetical for the first ten, then the last two come as a package deal.
12 Games To Beat Before the World Ends
Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana
This is a Gust-developed game that was published by Nippon Ichi. It received moderate reviews in mainstream press, but some niche sites I follow (RPGFan, mostly) loved the **** out of it. It's allegedly one of the best games in a series of at least 10 titles, and centers on item creation and alchemy. I've never played a Gust game before, but I could see myself really getting into this one; thinking exactly that, I found it on sale and bought it about two or three years ago. Haven't touched it yet and now's the perfect time.
I should really enjoy this one. People call it one of the best RPGs of the new generation, with giant, challenging boss battles similar to Devil May Cry or Monster Hunter, and innovative online multiplayer. Its allegedly massive difficulty is a bit intimidating, but I have faith in my skills - I play Monster Hunter, bitch.
Final Fantasy XII
I have been a Final Fantasy fan for a long-ass time. FF IV was my first RPG (although I thought it was called FF II), and I have beaten each of the first ten games in the series, most of them multiple times. My copy of FF XII has been staring at me from my PS2 game wallet for a good four years at least. I'm really not sure how I'll like this one, but I really ought to give it a shot. I want to take this one on in the first half of the year.
I love me some Grandia the first, and I love Lunar 1 and 2, made by the same studio, even more. So why haven't I finished Grandia II or III, despite owning both? Well, I put a few hours into the Dreamcast version of Grandia II (maybe 5-6 in all), but then I gave away my Dreamcast and most of my games to a relative, who sadly has since sold it. I remember liking Grandia II from what I played before, and would like to wrap it up by playing the PS2 version. Now's my chance.
So, Mass Effect. Well, I didn't like the first hour that I played. Couldn't tell you why. It seems like neat, normal sci-fi, but it's not the right balance of micromanagement and shooting. I know that Mass Effect 2 is the big ticket, that it learned from the original's mistakes and it's what people are calling one of the best games of the past 10 years, but that's not the one I have. My plan is to finish Mass Effect on my PC, then borrow a copy of ME2 for the PS3 and then have fun with that. But I want to play the first one first. Can't help myself.
EVERYONE loves Okami. The art style, the Zelda-ish gameplay, the painting mechanic, the wolf character, the whole thing. Now that I've finished Shadow of the Colossus, this is the PS2 game I am most ashamed of not giving a chance yet. Well, Okami, here's your chance.
Persona 3: FES
I received this game as a gift in 2008 from @miki_sei and I've heard it's very, very good. I've tried playing Persona and SMT games before and wasn't really impressed, but Persona 3 and Persona 4 are supposedly the cream of the crop (I liked Persona 2: Eternal Punishment okay enough but that's about it). Looking forward to this one.
Red Dead Redemption
One small confession to make: I have never actually beaten a Rockstar game. I own GTA III and Vice City and love both dearly (especially Vice City), but their story missions are prohibitively difficult-slash-annoying and this list is only games I've either not started or barely started. RDR appeals to me in that it's a very recent game with the refinement in gameplay of a good modern game, and that its Western setting is way cool - I love a good Western. RDR is also stunning to look at and one of the most acclaimed games of 2010. This one will be worth my time.
I've owned this game for a long-ass time, but haven't played it. It's a Level-5 title and Jon fucking loved it; that should be enough for me to get going, but I've simply never gotten around to it. I think I could really enjoy this one - it'll have more RPG goodness than Level-5's Dark Cloud 2 (whose bullshit I struggled with at times) and more action than Level-5's Dragon Quest VIII (whose bullshit I positively loved and will defend to the death). Sounds like a winning combination.
I found Valkyria Chronicles on a great sale about a year ago, but lent it to Jon when I knew I wouldn't be playing it in 2011 (it's long and involved, and I had to cut down on the time-consuming games when I could) and he was looking for a strategy-RPG. Jon really liked it, it looks great, and is from some of the same Sega people that made Skies of Arcadia, one of my all-time favorite RPGs. I owe Valkyria a playthrough.
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Here are a couple of games that Jon didn't play, so I can't use that as an excuse. I closed out 2011 with Ocarina of Time, the seminal 3rd-person 3D action Zelda, and it was quite good. I probably owe it to my lack of Zelda cred to at least try out the others. I own three of the four Zelda games that qualify as "3rd-person perspective Ocarina successors" but I dunno if I want to go straight to Majora's Mask next. Mostly, these two intrigue me a lot more than Mask does, but I'm not ruling out playing that one in 2012 either. Anyhow, I should play more Zelda, and these two are where I want to start.
Clearly, there are a few games that are NOT on this list, but very easily might have been. Originally, the first one I had written down was Dragon Warrior VII, the only DW/DQ main-series game I haven't beaten, but I backed off knowing that it will be remade for a handheld system in the next three years. This is not a stretch. There's also Parasite Eve 2, Vagrant Story, the first Shadow Hearts game, every Wild ARMs game; the list goes on, and those are just some RPGs. Heavy Rain and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow top my list of non-RPGs missing from the above list. I can also guarantee you that I'll be enjoying a number of games on my new Wii, none of which are on the list. I will certainly play more than the twelve listed games this year, but I really want to finally cross off those dozen. I will still write a blog post every time I beat a game, but these are my twelve targets. So long, 50 in '11, hello 12 in '12.