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Old 12-26-2022, 11:39 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Into The Breach: Key's Gaming Journal

I made my previous gaming journal back in 2019 and I am thrilled with how it has progressed over the years, however I feel like it is time to start again with a clean slate, as I've done a few times before. New ideas, new things to talk about, etc etc. Same ol' me talking about video games except now it's in a whole new space.

First few updates will go up over the next few days. 2022 ain't over yet and I still have some things to talk about before the year end then its onwards and upwards in 2023.

Same goes for the past journals but if you have an interest in gaming, this thread is for you. I bring in my own personal experiences and opinions to games I've played and its enjoyable to write about them. Hopefully its enjoyable to read as well.

Welcome to my new and improved gaming journal!
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Old 12-26-2022, 11:56 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Journal Index - Into The Breach: Key's Gaming Journal

Journal Index (updated frequently)

My Favorite Game From Birth To Now: 1991-2022

Video Game Music Extravaganza

Pokémon Month - Theme Month: March 2023

Last edited by Key; 02-25-2023 at 04:06 PM.
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Old 12-26-2022, 03:44 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default My Favorite Game From Birth To Now: 1991 - 2022

My Favorite Game From Birth To Now: 1991-2022
25+ Years of Gaming II

I originally attempted to do something like this back in 2018 titled "25+ Years of Video Games (from birth to now)" where I attempted to talk about multiple games from each year that came out from the year I was born all the way to current time. Due to multiple reasons, it was never quite finished and simultaneously was never what I wanted it to be in the first place. Talking about multiple games from each year turned out to be much more of a work plate than I envisioned. So, I'm doing it again however I'm making it quite a bit easier on myself and probably more enjoyable for the reader as well. Instead of trying to talk about multiple games from each year, I'm going to pick out one from the bunch and talk about it. Whether it's my favorite game of that year or simply one that I chose to talk about, it will be far more interesting to talk about one game as opposed to several. I feel I can focus a lot more on the writing when it's just one per year, and that's still quite a bit to cover as we'll be going through 31 years of gaming, for me personally. As time goes on, more games get released and surely my opinion changes on some. That's where the fun is though.

Index

1991 - Super Mario World
1992 - Super Mario Kart
1993 - Super Mario All-Stars
1994 - Donkey Kong Country
1995 - Rayman
1996 - Pokemon Red/Blue, Crash Bandicoot, Duke Nukem 3D (and Super Mario RPG)
1997 - Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
1998 - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
1999 - Super Smash Bros
2000 - Banjo-Tooie
2001 - Runescape
2002 - The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
2003 - Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
2004 - Fable
2005 - Psychonauts
2006 - The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
2007 - Team Fortress 2
2008 - Fallout 3
2009 - X-Men Origins: Wolverine
2010 - Halo: Reach
2011 - Saints Row: The Third
2012 - Dishonored
2013 - Bioshock Infinite
2014 - The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited
2015 - Pillars of Eternity
2016 - Stardew Valley
2017 - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
2018 - Marvel's Spider-Man
2019 - Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
2020 - Ghost of Tsushima
2021 - Outriders
2022 - Elden Ring
2023 - Hogwarts Legacy

Last edited by Key; 02-23-2023 at 04:13 PM.
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Old 12-26-2022, 04:19 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default 1991 - Super Mario World

1991

Whenever I look back on the games that were released in these years, it always surprises me just how many of them I do not know anything about. That could be due to just not really researching the topic all that much, or whatever, but it didn't stop the year from releasing some greats. Obviously, given that I was born this year and was fairly young in the 90's, a lot of these games are games I played much later on in life, and subsequently became some of my favorite games of all time. I'm only talking about them based on the year they were released, and on the eventual personal experiences I had with the game(s) growing up. There's always one title that springs to mind when I think of the 90's and more specifically this year, and that of course goes to Super Mario World. I think I may have even went in depth as to why this game is on my favorite games of all time list, but it's just a testament to it's quality that I find myself once again wanting to go more in depth as to why this game has such a permanent place in my top list.

Super Mario World, to me, is the way it should be played. It brought everything to the table. A great playable Mario that feels good to move and jump around with. Mix that with some fantastic looking and feeling levels on top of an ever expanding overworld that you traverse through, makes for nothing but a great experience each time you play through it. And man, I do not remember the number of times in my life I have played through this game, or have just watched somebody play through the whole thing. Any time I do go through it in one way or another, I always am oozing with nostalgic feelings along with being able to remember clearly what I was doing when I experienced a part of the game for the first time. It's pretty crazy how you can remember certain things about your younger self when presented with some so familiar. And in this case, Super Mario World fits that bill for me. I just have vivid memories of sitting in my parents basement with a big couch and a small TV in front of me, and just playing through this game over and over and over again. Never felt old, and even playing this game again somewhat recently, it still holds up. It was and is just a pure example of what a great side scrolling platformer should be or at least aim to be. That's no surprise though, given that the Super Mario games in general have always been looked in with such high regard. I just simply find Super Mario World to be the quintessential way to play a game like this as it's the one I have the most time with and also the one that I enjoy the most. That opinion will differ from person to person, but I have also found that while it is not people's favorite Mario game, it is still seen as one of the greats.

The powerups is something else I'd like to talk about because again, as far as Mario games go, I think Super Mario World also fits the bill as far as which side scrolling Mario game has the best power ups. I mean, the feather that can practically make you fly through an entire level practically unscathed is so overpowered but I love it as much all the same. It also feels really cool to feel yourself fly in the game because the way the controls are setup, makes you feel like you have total and complete controls. Plus, the sound it makes as you continue to fly is addicting and it's just a fun power up overall. Honestly one of the best Mario power ups ever, imo. Much the same can be said about the feather cap in Super Mario 64, but for it's time, the feather was and is still amazing and feels good to use in this game. The other power ups are sort of just there but they serve their purpose. I just remember having the most fun with the feather that gave you a cape and the ability to fly.

Obviously, graphically, I still think the game looks great. The levels in my opinion are different enough to where they all have their own unique charm to them. And while some may look the same, the overall gameplay makes them feel still unique and interesting to go through, and often times you won't really even focus on the backdrop. But sometimes it is nice to sit and see how much work when into creating the world building aspect of this game. That goes for the backdrops in levels to the over world to everything else. It's just got a nice charm to it that separates it from Mario games and certainly lets it sit on its own. It has done so for so many years now and continues to be people's favorite game to go back to, or to even play for the first time. I enjoy my time each time I decide to go back to it, and I certainly feel like going back to it again now that I've talked about it. Again.
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Old 12-27-2022, 08:37 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default 1992 - Super Mario Kart

1992

This is one of those years where I look at the games that were released and I realize that I wouldn't really consider any of them in my personal favorites, so I'm breaking my own rule a little bit. As far as game releases go in general, much like 1991, there aren't very many games released this year that again, wouldn't really consider my favorites, but also would admit that I know close to nothing about these games. Other than an obvious select few, which in this case the one I'm choosing to highlight for this year is Super Mario Kart.

As I got older, the game collection started to grow a little bit, and growing up we had a NES and a SNES at some point, and I credit that time in my life to opening my eyes to gaming in general, which followed me all the way to where I am now. So despite games like Super Mario Kart and others not necessarily being my favorite games of all time, they still had and have a lot to do with my experience with gaming as a kid, then all the way to my 30's. Otherwise, the reason I chose Super Mario Kart for this year is truly because it's one of the few games I remember playing a lot of. Everything about the game just feels familiar even just by looking at screenshots, and while the series certainly got better over the years (much the same can be said about many game series), it had to start somewhere. I remember the game feeling pretty good to play, and while I was never the biggest racing game fan back in the day, and still probably today, I still feel like this allowed a lot of people to separate their dislike for racing games, and love for Mario games which I think had an enormous impact on how people view racing games in general. Not to mention the fact that even today, people are still anticipating any new mentions of any new Mario Kart game. It's the same thing with Super Smash Bros. Nintendo managed to merge genres together even back in the 90's to the point that people would follow these series all the way to current day.

One of my favorite things about Mario Kart games in general is the power ups, and I suppose the same can be said for most Mario games. But it really is a testament to how important it is that a Mario game have good power ups. And having power ups in a racing game just got better and better as the series evolved, but even Super Mario Kart had some great power ups to get you started on your path of never wanting to play a racing game without power ups. You've got the typical green and red shells, bananas, the simple stuff. But in a game like this, the simple stuff is not always the worst thing. I remember many times getting annoyed on the ghost levels because people would leave bananas around and subsequently would fall off the edge of the level leaving me frustrated and wanting to just restart the level. Some of that may just be my own thought of what the memory is, but I just remember hating the ghost levels. Creative, yes, but certainly annoying to race on. I get the difficulty though so it's not a fault of the game in any way. Hell, none of the levels in Super Mario Kart really feel out of place or anything because again, this is the first game to even do any of this, so it all feels sort of fresh and new, even if you decide to play it today. And you can obviously see inspiration for what they did with the series going forward, which is always neat to look into. See which types of level designs followed them throughout the years, etc etc.

Great game though, just not one of my favorites of all time.
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Old 12-31-2022, 09:39 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default 1993 - Super Mario All-Stars

1993

It's simultaneously crazy how once again I have clearly not played very many video games from the snes and nes era because each time I look up a list of games released in these years, it's pretty insane how many games released and it's also pretty remarkable to see just how many games were released for this era of game systems. All that aside though, we're talking about my favorites, so let's get right into it with Super Mario All-Stars.

While choosing this game I know that both it is a compilation of games as well as being a compilation of games that have previously existed. Knowing that though, I still choose to put this here as my favorite for 1993, because it's certainly one of the best game compilations to ever come out. A lot get very close, but Super Mario All-Stars hit all the right notes for me. I have vague memories of just being in awe of how some of the graphics looked differently than their originals, and honestly I prefer the Super Mario All-Stars versions. It always felt like the controls and gameplay were tightened just enough to make it a fluid experience. I have not played the game in many years now, but as well as my other favorites, I just remember having good times. I don't really think I understood the concept of compilation games so I always saw Super Mario All-Stars as one big mario game, as I think it should be remembered.

I'm sure even to today's standards, it still holds up as a fantastic compilation of games. A lot of times we'll get compilations of games that are simply there just to add to the list of games. This certainly does not include the remasters of Spyro The Dragon and Crash Bandicoot because those are two shining examples of how to do a remaster right. Especially of classic games like Spyro and Crash. Super Mario All-Stars followed that formula way before it, and I think that inspiration carried forward. Even though the Castlevania Advance Collection didn't remaster anything, it is still nice to have a compilation of Castlevania games that I adore immensely.

Now all I want to do is plug in my super nintendo and find a copy of Super Mario All-Stars and play through it again. Could be a recipe for a good time, I'd say.

I am also aware that so far, all my favorites from the 90's have been Mario games. What can I say, Mario games have consistently been if not great, at the very least, good. Some of them maybe missed the mark on a few things, especially in the handheld era, but I still hold many Mario games as top tier games in my mind. I mean, as messy as Super Mario 64 looks compared to today's standards, it still play infinitely better than some games that get released in this era. It's pretty crazy to play through it and with many Mario games, to see the creativity and advanced knowledge of gameplay that was on display before any of the games in recent times caught onto it. Mario games have and always will be a staple in gaming for many years to come.
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Old 12-31-2022, 09:52 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default 1994 - Donkey Kong Country

1994

I've been looking forward to talking about this one because I have particularly fond memories of playing through this gem many times in my childhood. And I recently watched a Youtuber that I follow play through it with his brother and it was as great as I remember, to the point that I now want to play it again myself. I don't think this game in particular will ever leave my spot as being my favorite release of this year. I'm talking of course of Donkey Kong Country.

Donkey Kong Country to me nails everything it needs to nail to make a nearly perfect platformer. I say nearly perfect because the only thing holding it back is how short it is, despite having many levels to go through. What's nice about having watched somebody play through this somewhat recently is that I have a pretty fresh memory of what the game is like. And I'll tell you straight up, the feeling of nostalgia never ended. From when your selecting levels on the level select screen to the music that plays in the background of the levels, everything just feels good. And what's even crazier is that I have not played this game in many years, however watching somebody play through it, none of the game very forgotten or in other words, I remember how every level played out, and I could remember them as if I had played the game yesterday. That to me is a testament to the design of the game as a whole. Not only is it fun to play and progress through, it's also memorable and again, a true example of what a platformer should be. Plus, I've always loved playing as diddy kong because fast character + easier jumping + fun levels = great.

As far as level design goes, like I said, Donkey Kong Country absolutely nails it in every way. Some levels are notoriously difficult and will take you several attempts to go through them, and some levels are just fun to go through, and some even have weather patterns that you have to deal with. One in particular always stood out to me, and that is the levels involving snow. I always remember these levels because just the overall feel of the snow to the birds flying to the platforming, it all works together in a sublime way to make it a rich experience. Albeit difficult at times, in many ways.

The interesting thing to note about this game as well is despite the game being rather difficult at times, I'd say the game is certainly on the easier side, though I have heard that the sequels are a bit better as far as overall design goes. But, I have little to no experience with the sequels so I can't say much there. All I know, is that Donkey Kong Country will remain a favorite of mine for this year, and I don't see any way for that to change.

And thus breaks the streak of Mario games in this list. At least for now.
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Old 12-31-2022, 12:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default 1995 - Rayman

1995

I'm going to make another exception on this one because due to the fact that I originally played this game for the first time on the Game Boy Advance, I'm talking about it now strictly based on its original release date. Which in this case was September 1st 1995. The game in question is none other than...Rayman.

The Rayman series is an interesting one because despite me being me and getting lots of enjoyment out of the games, I don't really remember hearing much about this character that much in recent times. Rayman Legends came out back in 2013, and we haven't really seen a mainline game in quite some time. Thinking back on it even more, I really don't think there was a time that I was overly frustrated with the game or the series in general. In fact, I still think Rayman is one of my favorite games of all time. It's also one of those games that I feel like I could go back to at any point and just pick it up like I played it yesterday.

Like I mentioned before, I don't think I played this game back when it was originally released because most if not all my memories of it are of that on the Game Boy Advance. If I did play it on its original release, I simply do not remember. All I remember is having a good time playing the game and constantly restarting and playing through again just simply to experience it time and time again.

I mean just looking at screenshots of the game brings me back:

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Old 12-31-2022, 07:52 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default 1996 - Pokemon Red/Blue, Crash Bandicoot, Duke Nukem 3D

1996

So, I'm going to be breaking my own rules again. Here's the scoop: 1996 was a pretty big year in gaming. Both for games that eventually became my personal favorites, but also for those particular game franchises in general. This is a year where we saw a lot of great games being released. Knowing that, I'm going to go into this post talking about a few different games out of the bunch instead of just one. Simply being the fact that a lot of the games that were released in 1996 are still some of my favorites of all time. Hell, I would say that most games from the 90's and early 2000's still sit pretty high on my favorite games of all time lists. While that list certainly has expanded over these many years, I still have them pretty high up there. I consider many of the games I played on the Nintendo 64 to be in those categories. Anyway, we're going to be talking about Pokemon Red / Blue, Crash Bandicoot, and Duke Nukem 3D. Super Mario 64 was also released this year but I just talked about this game in depth in my last journal during November so I don't want to talk about it again.

Starting off, Pokemon Red / Blue and then eventually Pokemon Yellow are still some of my favorite games of all time. I started with Pokemon Yellow back in the day when I had my first Game Boy Color, and now many years later, I have a copy of Pokemon Red and Pokemon Silver with a Game Boy Advance that has a back light. And man, it's wonderful. I'm slowly but surely playing through Pokemon Red again and I'm having a blast. Aside from it just being one of the best games ever made, it's also one of the most broken games ever made. I still get lost in videos watching people absolutely destroy this game to beat it in literally no time flat. That's really just a fault of the times though. The developers did what they could do, and I'd honestly say the Pokemon game series has gotten gradually better as time goes on. And as systems get more and more powerful, the Pokemon games are still a staple in people's collections and will probably continue to be so for many years to come. I think people are just waiting for a true next gen Pokemon game that not only plays well, but runs well. They've got the gameplay element absolutely locked, but are unfortunately building games for a system that can't run games that well. So, it's a double edged sword. But, Pokemon Red is just a great game in general and definitely worth playing if you've yet to dip your toes into Pokemon games in general. Or start at the end of the series of games and go backwards. Do whatever you want.

Right now I am running a Beedrill as my main Pokemon in my current playthrough of Pokemon Red, and I never really realized just how strong this Pokemon is. Especially in the early game because you can evolve Weedle pretty quick. My Beedrill has become an absolute powerhouse and I love it. It's making the playthrough really really fun. I always like to try and use different Pokemon that I hadn't used before when I play these games because I know there are so many out there that could be people's favorites if you just used them. But, there's also a lot of crap Pokemon so it's hard to tell sometimes.

Moving on, we've got Crash Bandicoot. I have very good memories of this game because my cousin who lived up the street from us had a Playstation with Crash Bandicoot, and I remember going there all the time just to play it. It may not look the prettiest to today's standards but that's what remasters are for. And man did they nail this one perfectly. While the original is certainly still worth playing, I would say if you're going to dabble into Crash Bandicoot, pick up the remaster, or remasters I should say. It's still one of the most fun games to play through even today, and I would play through this one in particular many more times before I get tired of it. Hell, the whole series of Crash Bandicoot games are at the very least, fun. I never really had a bad time with these games or any Playstation game released in that era. There was something different about them that set them apart from the rest. Though Nintendo 64 still had some absolute bangers. Both did well, although Playstation did better this year. Anyway, tis a good game.

Next and final will be Duke Nukem 3D. This is kind of a fun one because I actually really like this game a lot, so much so that I think I still have a copy of it on Steam somewhere. It's very very similar to the original Doom but it's got some comedic moments that sets it apart. My experience with Duke Nukem, while fairly limited, has always been pretty good. I never really looked at the games and cringed or anything. This series, and I suppose this game in general has always sort of been in my collection in some fashion, mostly because I just respect the series enough to support it. It's a first person shooter, but it has it's own charm which is why I like and appreciate it so much.

Just kidding, that wasn't the last one. The next one I'm going to talk about is not one I have actually played, however it's one that I have always been interested in playing, and have always kicked myself for never finding a copy for myself. That of course goes to Super Mario RPG. Everything I've seen about this game just makes me want to play it, but aside from an emulator, I just don't really see that happening any time soon. More so because I would like to more do it on original hardware to get the real experience. To me, it seems like a really fun time and I've heard people say nothing but praises for the game. And it's just one of those games that will forever be on my want list despite never had played it myself. I know I want to play it though because I've seen a lot of gameplay on it and it just seems like a good ol' RPG with Mario characters. And that to me smells like a good time.
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Old 01-16-2023, 07:38 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default 1997 - Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

1997

Much like, 1996, there are a lot of reasons to love this year in gaming, given that many of my personal favorites released this year. And instead of doing the same thing as 1996, I'll try to just choose one. Fallout, Diddy Kong Racing, and Star Fox 64, among many other greats. Even games like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Oddworld: Abe's Odyssey also spring to mind. However, if I do have to choose just one to talk about, I'm going to go with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

The funny thing about 1997 is that, if you had asked me literally 3 or 4 months ago which one I would choose as my favorite from that year, the choice would not have been Castlevania, and that has a lot to do with the fact that I just recently started playing through Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and had realized fairly quickly that I really missed out when this game originally released. I think I even talked about this game in my previous journal about a month or so ago, and while my thoughts on it were relatively new and fresh, I would honestly still say that I hold this game in pretty high regard. In comparison to the other Castlevania games I've played, I think I like this one the most, but that's more due to the fact that my experience with Castlevania games in general is relatively limited. I've really only spend a lot of time on this one and the Game Boy Advance games, and haven't really gone much further than that. It's honestly really crazy to me that this game came out back in 1997, because I think I even said this in my previous journal, but this game definitely holds up as far as what I've come to expect with metroidvania side scroller games. In fact, I honestly would say the metroidvania Castlevania games are some of my favorites in general, and I would honestly seek them out time and time again when I have an itch for this type of gameplay. I've also played very few of the non metroidvania style Castlevania games, and I think I just prefer the metroidvania ones over the non. Not to say those games aren't great, but I love the randomness and the tightness or the metroidvania style games.

I'm pretty sure this is the contrary to what I said in my previous journal, but I have not actually finished Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. And despite me saying that I was planning to finish all the Game Boy Advance era of Castlevania games, I don't think I've actually finished any of them since starting them a few months ago. And yes, I'm aware that Symphony of the Night was released on Playstation and not on the Game Boy Advance, but going through the Game Boy Advance games somewhat recently made me realize that I had not played through this one in particular, so I was happy that I was able to find it on the Xbox store. And yeah, it's very good. I still plan to finish not only this one, but the others as well. And honestly, I would say I'm at least 80-90% done with the games, I just need a little bit of time with each of them to finish out the map and finish the games in their entirety. Even talking about it now makes me want to boot it up and play it.

Between the time that I started playing the Castlevania games, all the way to now, I would say without a doubt that out of the Game Boy Advance games and this one, I would say that Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has become my favorite of the bunch. Originally, I was always going on and on about how good Circle of the Moon is, and don't get me wrong, that one is good. But when you compare it to the other Castlevania games that evidently did the formula better, it's hard to go back to Circle of the Moon. In fact, it actually has become my last choice as far as which games I would play if I have the itch. I would definitely choose Aria of Sorrow or Harmony of Dissonance over Circle of the Moon any day. And Aria of Sorrow I find to be better than Harmony of Dissonance so I would definitely always choose one over the other.

My current ranking for the metroidvania Castlevania games would honestly look something like this:

1) Symphony of the Night
2) Aria of Sorrow
3) Harmony of Dissonance
4) Circle of The Moon

Hell, I would say 3, and 4 are interchangeable. However, I would still put Circle of the Moon above it just for nostalgia sake. Actually, I think I may end up putting Harmony of Dissonance at number 4, and Circle of the Moon at number 3, mostly because I definitely like more from Circle of the Moon. Eh, I'll keep it that way for now.
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