Going to the Backlog
Image by Flicker user paige_eliz

Even though I don’t have tons of time to game, I like to keep at least two games in regular rotation at all times. That way, when I have only an hour to play, I don’t spend thirty minutes of it deciding on the game. I also prefer to only play one game per system to prevent overuse/overheating. Right now the 360 is on lockdown with Dragon Age 2, which means that the other game I choose has to be on another system. Since I don’t feel like spending money on games right now (despite all the goodness of offer, I know, I know), I guess it’s time to head to the backlog…

Oh, the backlog. That notorious shelf (or shelves or rooms or data storage devices) containing a selection of games that one intends to play. These games were purchased new or on sale, stolen borrowed from friends, retrieved from yard sales, or rescued for other terrible fates. We hold onto these games because we want to play them but just don’t have the appropriate time. We’re too busy with life and/or the latest games. Or we’ve moved onto other systems entirely. Or we’re collectors. However you want to look at it, most gamers have backlogs of various sizes. I know mine is pretty small compared to some, and it consists of games I’ve never played or started but never finished:

Halo 4 (360)
Forza Motorsport 4 (360)
Mega Man X2 (Wii virtual console)
Little Big Planet 2 (PS3)
The Amazing Spider-Man (PS3)
Gran Turismo 5 (PS3)
Ghostbusters (PS3)
Assassin’s Creed III (Ps3)
DOOM 3 (Xbox)
Resident Evil 4 (Wii)
Metroid Prime (Gamecube)
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (Gamecube)
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii)
Other M (Wii)
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii)

Not so bad. 15 games. (Actually, there might be a couple more that I’m not remembering at the moment.) No big deal, right? Just pick one, right? You say that like it’s an easy thing to do. But I have to considered several factors:

  1. Do I have the time to play two of the same type of game at once?
    It really depends on the game. In the case of RPGs, probably not, because it’s hard to get sucked into two immersive stories at once. In the case of puzzle games, probably, because neither requires much long-term devotion.
  1. Have other consoles in the house already been claimed?
    I live with another gamer, so if he’s taken over the PS3, that leaves me with the Wii and 360. And again, since the 360 is in the currently depths of Kirkwall, that really only leaves me with the Wii.
  1. What time of day will my gaming take place?
    Our consoles live in two rooms. One is somewhat dark with little sun glare on the TV. The other room gets lots of sun and the TV is almost always glared upon by that incessant sun.  (Even when it’s cloudy, there’s “cloud glare” on the TV, I swear it.) It’s hard to play just about any game in sun glare, but some are worse than others. In the light room, I usually game in the early morning or late evening, and I don’t want to play a creepy, scary game in the evening.  Puzzle games are much better then.
  1. Will my gaming time be totally distraction-free?
    Again, I live with another person, and we have lots of things do to together and separately. Even the most well-intentioned “me time” must sometimes be interrupted. I also have a cat who often thinks that my gaming time is the perfect time to let loose with a hairball or two and…oh, not on the new rug!! [sigh] I tend to get pretty angry if I get interrupted during a particularly consuming game, like an RPG. (Another strike against picking an RPG.)
  1. Once I start a new game, when will I be able to pick it back up?
    Some months I’ll have several weekends in a row when I know I’ll get to return to a game with some regularity. Other times, I don’t get back to a game for weeks (or longer). Again, going back to the RPG, I think lots of us know how hard it can be to go back to one of those after not playing for awhile. Where the heck was I? What the heck was I doing?? Am I going to have to START OVER??!

I realize this might seem like a crazy process. Gaming isn’t about questions, it’s about playing! But sometime the road to games is strewn with obstacles. As I was typing this, though, I decided on which game to call my second: Metroid Prime. I’ve been thinking a lot about Metroid of late, and I really want to get back into the series. I had a false start with Metroid Prime years ago, but I’m know ready to take on the challenge now. Metroid Prime’s more linear (sorta), first-person play will compliment my otherworldly questing in Dragon Age II. And I can take my time with it, and hopefully enjoy it more than the first time.

So what’s in your backlog? One or two games, or too many games to count? And how do you decide what to play next?

18 thoughts on “Going to the Backlog”

  1. My backlog consists of too many games to count. Like all gamers, I start games but don’t finish them because of time or I got stuck at one part and left it there until I’m ready to come back with fresh eyes (and less frustration).

    Usually when I decide to play games, it depends on my mood or if there’s a game in particular that I really want to finish because it has captured my interest for long periods of time. Right now, that honor goes to Fire Emblem on the 3DS. I was playing Kingdoms of Amalur faithfully for a while, but haven’t touched my 360 for quite some time unless friends want to play co-op one night for a different game when we’re all free. At least with Fire Emblem, I make sure to at least finish one mission a night (or when I have time) so when I come back to it it’ll be much easier to get right back into the story.

    1. What you’re doing with Fire Emblem – finishing at least one mission with each play — that’s what I aimed for with just about all my DS games. I had to complete at least one mission/level during each day’s commute. Not only did that “discipline” help me stay current in a game, it also helped me get through a lot of games!

      I have to admit that I’m more likely to trade in a frustrating game than keep it and hope for the best someday. Usually going back to something like that just brings back all those bad memories. Ain’t nobody got time for that these days!

  2. I also console juggle depending on who is playing what. There’s always at least a dozen games on my list, and while I play relatively frequently, a lot of them are of the 60+ hour variety, so they get ticked off slowly. The first games from my list that come to mind are Devil Survivor 2, Bowser’s Inside Story, Valkyria Chronicles 2, Final Fantasy 9 and 6, Paper Mario Sticker Star, Star Ocean 3, Book of Spells…
    I think I have a similar level of restrictions on my turn-based strategy games as you do with RPGs – they’re my ‘only one at a time’ because each level takes so long, is often very intense and losing means redoing 30+ min of play, which is a bit disheartening. It’s part of the reason why Devil Survivor 2 is at the top of my list; maybe after I finish I can start Fire Emblem or pick up Disgaea 3. Shame the last boss is proving difficult…

    1. I’ve never been able to get into turn-bases strategy games for the reasons you mentioned — too involved for me. I can’t imagine playing multiple games like that at the same time (unless I wanted multiple headaches at the same time, which I don’t.)

      You have some great games in your backlog! I have a feeling that at least some of us with backlogs will be going through them with this switch to a new gen of consoles. (Or maybe we’ll just be adding more to them!)

  3. Huge backlog, a lot of which I need to get rid of due to no longer having a PS2. You’ve made me want to start Dragon Age now though, so you helped my decision :-)

    1. Yeah, we have a PS2 that’s on its very last legs and a non-compatible PS3. I hate to see those PS2 games go…

      And may you enjoy your time in the dragon age! I’m still having fun (so far and slowly) in DA II.

      1. You know the saddest thing is tho that I have games for the PS2 I never even got to play. Rare ones that took me an age to track down like Shadow Hearts. That said once I experienced the graphics on the Xbox I had little desire to go back, everything seemed so pixelated lol

      2. You’re right — it’s hard to go back sometimes. I remember when Shadow Hearts was released. If I recall, it offered different endings(?), which was kind of a new thing in those days. It’s indeed very difficult to find now, new or used.

  4. I’m in the backlog now.
    It’s that time of year whereby the only cool things to come out seem to be DLC’s. I’ve got a bunch of backlog games, mostly because I’ve changed who I am as a gamer. Once reliant on basic FPS, now reliant on intense story lines and graphics. Never thought I’d see CoD gathering dust, but now I’m glad that it is.
    I’m currently going through Dead Space 3, and I’m hoping to get Skyrim and Dragon Age.

    1. It took me forever to get through Skyrim (coupled with A LOT of frustration), but both that and DA are well worth anyone’s time. They’re definitely the kinds of games that can keep you occupied for awhile.

  5. The distraction-free thing is a HUGE factor in what I play. I’m not going to play the final third of Mass Effect 3 in a high-traffic room filled with parties.

    I will, however, play Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, often to the pleasure of the surrounding humans.

    1. Haha! Chivalry…that’s on the PC right? If I’m not by myself, then I usually pick a game that doesn’t involve cut scenes. (I hate having to pause in the middle of them.) That lowers he choices significantly.

  6. Cary, You my friend have captured the the true essence of choosing a game from a backlog. It’s almost like you pulled an inception on me and stole the thoughts out of my head. The sad realisation that RPG’s (my favorite Genre) are the Hardest games to pick up due to scheduling of allotted gaming time is a curse i live with every so often when i pick one up.
    By the time i finished reading this a smile had been plastered over my face, where it still is atm.

    Anywho to answer the Question. my backlog is Large, in fact i wrote about it earlier this year. Atm i have Tales of vesperia and Fifa 13 in my log of games i play on 360. My family has kidnapped my wii as a netflix box and my brother has the PS3. I want to get back to Xenoblade Chronicles but that will have to wait till i finish TOV.

    1. Well, thank you for the kind words! (And no dream-stealing intended :)) I started Xenoblade Chronicles a couple months back, but had to set it aside because it’s one of those games that absolutely commands, requires, and constantly yells at you for attention. I just couldn’t handle it. I hope to return to it at some point (it’s not listed in my backlog because it was a borrowed copy), but I really have no idea when that will be. I’d love to play Tales of Vesperia someday, when I have more time…or as soon as someone invents to four-day weekend.

  7. My backlog used to be quite big due to distractions, but it’s going down now. I’m currently finishing “FFXIII-2”, which was sitting unused for over a year. But, I got in this mood to replace my ailing Cube with a new Cube, and then I had all this fun time playing Cube games with no worry of freezing. Then, I wanted to replay “FFX” and replace my suspicious copy of “Ratchet 3” with a good copy, plus play “Jak 1” for probably the 6th time or something. Then, I got a PS3. Then, I got the 360 plugged in and had to play another backlogged game, “Halo 4”, and then I had to revisit my Sege Genesis Collection on the 360 and play some hardcore “Phantasy Star”. (Deep breath) Then, I finally played “FFXIII-2”.

    After that, I still have “Kirby’s Epic Yarn” for the Wii and “Portal 2” (finally got it!) for the PS3. But, I only have one console hooked up at once (on a TV that faces north, so no sun glare ever!), so I plan on visiting Kirby, replaying some Wii games, deciding on some Wii games to sell, THEN I’ll do “Portal 2”, hopefully around the time some more PS3 games I want come out. Video games do involve lots of planning. Trying to find the right day to beat a boss in an RPG can be a challenge. Okay, do I think I have several free hours in case they decide to have a 20 part boss fight? Woo, I ranted.

    1. There have been times when I’ve let games sit for weeks due to a difficult boss battle. Not that it was difficult to beat per se, but, like you say, I needed to find the right time to play because the battle was so long!

      It’s funny the path our gaming takes sometimes. Even as I look at my backlog, I can’t think ahead in terms of “first I’m going to play this, then I’m going to play this…” It’s too overwhelming! I started a little Metroid Prime, and it was really fun. But then, I started a new game of Little Big Planet (never beat it — should be on the list), and I forgot how much fun that game is. I’m not sure which one I’ll go back to next time I can play. Plus Dragon Age 2 is still waiting…

  8. I’m not even sure I want to bother looking at my backlog. I ended up buying games at the point where my interest in games started to decline. What does that mean? Now I have games like Battalion Wars and Beyond Good and Evil not even close to being finished D: I hope I’ll rediscover my interest soon…

    1. Yeah, sometimes a backlog with forever remain as such, especially if something else just grabs our attention. I’m sure you’ll get back into those games sometime; and if not, then maybe you’ll just have a great collection of great games!

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