I haven’t had as much chance to play this summer as I would have liked. It’s a shame because I got a lot of games that I’ve been really looking forward to playing, as my ‘games I want to get’ list becomes smaller and smaller. I found Valkyrie Profile Lenneth and Rachet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time in my local used game shops, and found a few fun PS2 games in Goodwill. While my backlog has been increasing, it’s not with the speed that it has in the past. Largely this has to do with simply having managed to scoop up the games I had been wanting. I tend to have a feast and famine approach to buying games. I see games on sale, I scoop them up without much hesitation, and then when the prices start going up or the sales slow down, I just play what I have until the next cycle of gaming sales starts. Even having found a Wii in Goodwill for only fifteen bucks still wasn’t enough to really open the floodgates. Sure, I really want to play Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story, and it would great to finally open up the GameCube library that I missed. But because those games aren’t exactly the cheapest, so I don’t have the fervor to snap up ten games in a month like I did during the PS3 cycle. And I don’t have a PS4 or a Switch, so those games aren’t on my immediate radar either. I’m at a point that while my backlog isn’t going down, it isn’t growing all that much either.
I decided at the end of last year to not treat my games as a chore, where I have to chisel down my backlog because games sat still in their original plastic. Games aren’t bananas. They don’t expire if you don’t play them right away, and a good game is just as good whether you play it two days after you buy it or two years. As such, with the little gaming I have been doing, I’ve actually been simply replaying games I already played. A year ago a concept would have seemed crazy and wasteful. But now I remembered that I grab all these games because I like them, and was why I owned them in the first place. While it might be different for others, I don’t really see the point in owning a game I know I’ll only enjoy once. Even a puzzle game with one solution to any given challenge still has replay value if the story is solid enough. This is why I tell people I’m not a game collector. I don’t have an ambition to own every game ever, or own every game to a particular console, or even track down all the games by a specific publisher or all the titles in a series. My gaming purchases tend to be, ‘stick to a genre or franchise I already like until it crashes and burns’ (Oh Star Ocean, when you only produce one game per console generation, why are you not putting more effort into making it good?) If I own a console and only ever have ten or so games for the console, that’s fine by me so long as those games are ones I genuinely love. I might have loads and loads of consoles, but my total in owning of games is probably only around a hundred or so. My gaming collection, barring things like toys and system accessories (since those boxes and displays tend to be more unwieldy and don’t stack and display as neatly as game cases do), could probably all fit in one standard six foot tall bookcase in one corner of my room and still have space left over. Compare that with the novels that I own, I could probably afford to open my own library. Or the fact that while many women have dedicated shoe closets, my closet is stuffed to the gills with Lego sets.
So instead of worrying about playing new games I just bought or hunting down all the games I want for a system I just invested in, I have spent the few free hours I’ve actually had for gaming once more immersing myself in some games that I played through before. Especially as bad as my depression has been, it’s nice to have some comfort food games. Games I know well and can unlock their secrets by muscle memory, and can talk along with the dialog. I know what’s going to happen and how. Last year Lego Dimensions charmed its way into my ‘favorite games of all time list’ and now that I have more of the necessary characters and sets to unlock all the content, I’ve been having a blast going back through and discovering what I missed the first time around, or be able to solve the puzzles and beat the bosses without dying so much that my stud count is affected. There’s a lot of comfort in sitting and putting together tiny models and seeing them come to life on screen. It’s fun to see the silly sight gags and try to remember the fastest way to get through specific dungeons. Sure, playing it again also brings up some of the old flaws, like some of the really annoying bugs that sometimes freeze the game, but even knowing that they’re their lets me plan around them.
I’ve also been replaying the PS3 Project Diva games. The Hard levels are still handing my ass to me, but as I get more and more familiar with the patterns, more and more of those levels are actually getting passed. I still don’t know if I’ll ever beat any of the Extreme levels, but going back and improving on levels I already beat makes it feel like I’m accomplishing something as songs I originally only won by the skin of my teeth now get Great and Excellent ratings.
Summer is ending soon and the plethora of new releases will be starting, and probably a few of them will get snapped up by me and thrown in the backlog. I’ll get to them eventually. But there is no harm in using the little time I’d been granted to go back and visit some old friends.