Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Seven games I sadly failed to finish in 2022

I finish nearly every game I decide to start.

Or at least I did before this year. 

As I mentioned in my "favorite games of 2022" post, this year has been a weird one in many regards, but it's been especially so in terms of my interaction with and enjoyment of video games.

For reasons I can't fathom, I failed to finish a whopping seven games this year. The games in question are 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, Fuga: Melodies of Steel, Live A LiveNora and the Time StudioSaGa 2 Hihō Densetsu: Goddess of DestinyShin Chan: Me and the Professor on Summer Vacation, and Skyrim.

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim (Switch)

I've wanted to play this Vanillaware game since it was first announced for the PS4 and Vita several years ago. Yet when I finally got a chance to play it, I bailed after just over an hour. To be sure, this bailing had little to do with 13 Sentinels' story or gameplay and a lot to do with the fact that tacking its strategy segments with a drifting Switch Joy-Con proved to be more than I could handle at the time.

If I'm to be honest, though, the existence of these strategy segments played a small role in my disenchantment with 13 Sentinels, too. I've never been a big fan of real-time strategy games, so sticking one into an otherwise-compelling visual novel was never going to thrill me.

Don't worry, I'm planning on returning to 13 Sentinels in 2023 and giving it a proper chance, RTS segments be damned. I won't be doing so until I fix or replace my current pair of Joy-Cons, though, that I can assure you.

Fuga: Melodies of Steel (Switch)

Unlike 13 Sentinels, I put a good amount of time into Fuga: Melodies of Steel before walking away from it earlier this year. Over 11 hours, to be exact. Which suggests I liked it quite a bit, right? I did, in fact. Unfortunately, a Fuga boss that gave me more trouble than expected and a (real life) trip that occurred around the same time conspired to both take me away from the game and keep me from returning to it.

Again, the plan is to give Fuga: Melodies of Steel another go sometime next year. Perhaps strangely, I'm considering starting over with it. After my abovementioned boss woes, I did some sleuthing online and learned that I made a few decisions during my aborted playthrough that likely led to that unfortunate roadblock. A fresh start should keep me from repeating the experience.

I think the hard work will be worth it regardless, as Fuga's two-dimensional, turn-based tank battles and cute, furry crew proved to be quite captivating during the 11-plus hours I put into the game a few months back.

Live A Live (Switch)

As is usually the case, I can't remember exactly why I failed to finish Live A Live after devoting about 10 hours to it shortly after it hits store shelves in July. What I do remember: I had a great time with the four stories I managed to complete in the time I spent with this HD-2D remake. I especially liked the prehistoric chapter that focused on a lovelorn (some might just say horny) caveman and his colorful crew—which includes an ape that injures baddies with his farts and poop.

This JRPG's unique settings—others include ancient China, the Wild West, and a spaceship in the distant future—were the highlight here for me, though I also appreciated how each story lasted a few hours at most. You'd think that would've made it easy for me to plow through the whole she-bang in a breezy 20 hours or so, but somehow I felt a bit burned out by the time I wrapped up my fourth chapter. Considering I've only got three more to go, I should be able to complete the rest before similar feelings set in after I circle back to Live A Live sometime in 2023.

Nora and the Time Studio (Nintendo DS)

I've dreamed of playing this Atlus-made Atelier-like since I first heard about it in early 2011. Not because I'm a huge fan of the Atelier series, mind you (I've yet to play a single entry), but because I think it looks adorable and because I've rarely met a Nintendo DS game I didn't like. I had no hope I'd ever be able to enjoy it due to the language barrier, though. (It never earned an official North American or European release.) Or at least I didn't until I learned earlier this year that an English fan translation for Nora was out in the wild.

At any rate, I enjoyed the four or so hours I put into Nora and the Time Studio this summer thanks in large part to its gorgeous sprite art and charming characters. The only complaint I can level at it at the moment is that I found its gameplay to be more restrictive than anticipated. In some ways, it reminds me of another DS title I played in 2021, Princess Debut. The two titles are worlds apart in terms of genre, but both seem aimed at a similar audience and feature fairly (sometimes overly) simplistic gameplay. Should a bit of digging suggest Nora and the Time Studio is a relatively brief affair, I'll probably return to it in 2023. Otherwise, I think I had my fill this year.

SaGa 2 Hihō Densetsu: Goddess of Destiny (Nintendo DS)

It's hardly a secret at this point that I generally adore Square Enix's SaGa series. SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions has been one of my favorite Switch games to date, and SaGa Frontier is one of my favorite games of all time. Long before these two titles were even a twinkle in creator Akitoshi Kawazu's eye, though, there were the trio of GameBoy games that started it all. My fondest memories are for the first release, known as SaGa in Japan and The Final Fantasy Legend in North America, but I have a lot of love and affection for its sequel, too.

This is a three-dimensional reimagining of that game, as you might imagine. Although I'm sure it was more impressive back when it first came out in 2009, it remains a nice-looking game. It's a lot easier to play than the original GB release, too, thanks to various quality-of-life improvements. It's still quite stilted in that regard in comparison to more modern JRPGs, though, and I think that, along with the random and regular-ish difficulty spikes, is what prompted me to throw up my hands in surrender after nearly 26 hours of play. Will I willingly circle back to it in 2023? I can't imagine it at the moment, but stranger things have certainly happened, so who knows.

Shin Chan: Me and the Professor on Summer Vacation (Switch)

Here's another game I spent a lot of time looking forward to playing before I finally got my grubby mitts on it. (It released in Japan over a year before it released in my neck of the woods.) As with 13 Sentinels, though, I walked away from Me and the Professor on Summer Vacation surprisingly quickly.

What was the reason? The biggie is that I just wasn't finding it as interesting or enjoyable as I thought I would. Also, and I hate to admit this, I think the Shin Chan characters and aesthetic weren't doing it for me. I would've far preferred for this to be a real Boku no Natsuyasumi game, even though I know that probably wouldn't be possible at this point in time (what with the Switch being the leading platform here, and Boku's close ties to Sony and the PlayStation).

Still, the plan is to return to Me and the Professor on Summer Vacation as soon as possible in the new year. Whether I actually accomplish that task is anyone's guess, though. Who knows, maybe the long-promised physical version will materialize soon and that alone will prompt a reappraisal of the game. Fingers crossed, regardless.

Skyrim (Switch)

Of all the games highlighted here, this is the one I put the least amount of time into in 2022 before dropping it for something else. To be honest, Skyrim has never seemed like my cup of tea. I only bought it after its Switch port released because multiple people whose opinions I respect suggested I would enjoy it. Based on my admittedly terse experience with it so far, I remain doubtful.

The classic European fantasy aesthetic doesn't do Skyrim any favors for me. Nor does the huge, open world (something that's always been hit or miss with me) or the real-time WRPG gameplay. Still, I've barely scratched the surface of what the game supposedly has to offer, so I'll try to push these semi-negative thoughts to the very back of my brain if I give this fifth Elder Scrolls adventure a second chance in the coming year.

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