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Backloggin' the Year

By Sam Wachter

   Another year has come and gone, which means it's time to panic over how many games were bought over the year. At least, that's what I tend to do when the year is over. 2015 has come and gone, and I played quite a number of old RPGs last year. When I started this feature back at the end of 2013, it was something I meant to continue, and unfortunately my personal life won out in 2014. However, this year I'm back, and I'm here to share with you all what I smashed out my backlog in 2015.

   Every year I try to take a huge chunk out of my backlog, though for the purposes of this feature I'm squarely focusing on the RPGs I beat that were released prior to 2015. Unlike some gamers, I'm not very picky about the types or genres I play, and I'm very open-minded in that I'm willing to give any game a go providing it has something that draws me in. The backlog RPGs I beat this year tend to fall more on the JRPG side, but with no series overlapping unlike the previous time I did this feature. I'm going to share some overall thoughts with you on the games I beat and give a quick rating. My goal for 2016 is to knock out eight RPGs from my backlog. Let's see if I can manage it! Anywho, on with RPGs I completed in 2015!

Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana

Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana
Pub: NIS America | Dev: Gust | Release: 06.28.2005

   Part of me feels weird adding this game to the list because I finished it on January 2, 2016. However, I played the majority of this in 2015, so I felt like this was actually more appropriate. As the site's resident Atelier fanatic, it's a bit sad I haven't played the three Iris games, or any of the PS2-era Atelier titles. I wanted to remedy that, and I have to say, while vasty different from the Atelier games that I review for the site, I really enjoyed my time with Eternal Mana. I loved the characters, and the story wasn't half bad. The localization is downright hilarious at times, and it's not a difficult game to just pick up and enjoy. I just wish there was more to the gameplay, and this is much more story driven compared to the PS3 games which attempt to balance story, combat and alchemy. Bottom Line: Worth playing for the writing alone, but the gameplay is nothing to write home about.


Dragon Age: Inquisition

Dragon Age: Inquisition
Pub: EA | Dev: BioWare | Release: 11.18.2014

   Let's just say I am in the camp that felt like Dragon Age: Inquisition should have won Game of the Year back in 2014. I mean, I'm proud of Shadowrun: Dragonfall, but I feel like DA:I managed to do so much and to do it so well. Perhaps this is the unabashed fangirl talking in me, but I loved my time with this game, so much so that I wrote impressions for all three DLC packs, and may have done a dating feature related to the game. There's just so much to love about this franchise and it makes me happy to see that BioWare got their groove back. Bottom Line: If you haven't played any games from this franchise, DO IT. Love it. Then share the love.


End of Serenity

End of Serenity
Pub: Natsume | Dev: Kemco | Release: 06.24.2014

   Having played Grinsia, you're likely wondering why I'd play another Kemco title. The answer is simple — I hate seeing unreviewed games on the site. The other thing is that, I actually heard that this wasn't a bad Kemco title, and that it was short. Sometimes I crave a very short RPG experience, and this one admittedly fit the bill. I wish I could say there was a lot to this game, but I think my review speaks for itself. It's not worth full price in the slightest, but if you don't mind a generic little RPG to play on the go, End of Serenity can fit that bill easily. Bottom Line: While there are tons of better RPGs out there, this game is enjoyably mindless.


Fantasy Life

Fantasy Life
Pub: Nintendo | Dev: Level-5 | Release: 10.24.2014

   I was so excited when Fantasy Life was announced. I loved the idea of a life simulation RPG that offered tons of classes as a feature. From Angler to Cook to Paladin to Woodsman, there was a new life of choice waiting in Reveria. However, I didn't get as hooked to this game as I thought I would. It was like this weird roller-coaster where I'd get super into the game and do the story, but then get bored of the life I chose, and then start all over again. I get in some ways that it's the point of the game, and kudos for the fact that it allows you to change class with ease, but it just never really sunk it's teeth into me the way Harvest Moon games did. Bottom Line: Good for those not interested in Harvest Moon, just don't expect a lot of deep aspects within the gameplay or story.


Pokémon Heart Gold / Soul Silver

Pokémon Heart Gold / Soul Silver
Pub: Nintendo | Dev: Nintendo | Release: 03.14.2010

   When I was kid, I had this weird habit of skipping generations when it came to Pokémon. I didn't play Gold/Silver or Ruby/Sapphire, and weirdly started loving the series again with Diamond/Pearl. When I married my husband, he told me this was his favourite generation, and told me I was missing out on greatness. I am so glad I went back and played Heart Gold because it was such a fantastic game, to the point where I did a large chunk of the post game content. It made for a good game to play while commuting to and from work, and you can see that there's a lot of great ideas here that got added to later entries in the series. Bottom Line: Sam only just played this entry, likely you've already played and loved it too.


Science Girls!

Science Girls!
Pub: Hanako Games | Dev: Spiky Caterpillar | Release: 05.28.2009

   RPGamer indie games specialist Zach Welhouse gifted me a copy of Science Girls!, hoping it would be an indie game to capture my interest. I have loved other titles by Hanako Games, so I was really excited to play it. Science Girls is half-visual novel, half-SRPG, but it struggles to be both. The visual novel elements were by far the strongest, with the RPG parts just not executed well. I was hoping for more cool science as part of the package, but ultimately what I got was cute, but very shallow RPG. Bottom Line: It's short, and donuts are frequently mentioned. If you like both of those things, give it a shot.


Persona 2: Innocent Sin

Persona 2: Innocent Sin
Pub: Atlus USA | Dev: Atlus | Release: 09.20.2011

   This was one of the first games I finished in 2015, mainly because I was scheduled to be on RPG Backtrack to discuss it. I actually really ended up enjoying the story for this game, though you can tell how much the Persona series has evolved since this game. Negotiations can still be a bit of a guessing game, but I can't deny that I trudged through this game because I had to see how the story ends. In a lot of ways, the gameplay is only so-so for me, but I admit to wanting to boot up Eternal Punishment, just so I can see the other side of this crazy story. Bottom Line: For the hardest of hardcore Persona fans.


Shin Megami Tensei IV

Shin Megami Tensei IV
Pub: Atlus USA | Dev: Atlus | Release: 07.16.2013

   This was another case of starting the game when it released and then "Ooh, shiny!" syndrome kicking in. I completely forgot about this game until I decided to see where I was at last year. Sure enough I had made it to Tokyo, to one of the worst designed maps ever. But I was determined! I was going to beat this game and win Isabeau's heart. I thought I had obtained the Neutral Ending, but it turns out I had missed a step along the way, and ended up with the Lawful Ending instead. I loved the combat in SMTIV, but at the sametime I agree with the sentiments of some of my co-workers that SMTIV left a lot to be desired in terms of the story, and balance in terms of difficulty. Bottom Line: If you can handle how uneven the difficulty and experience is, jump on it. Those who need a bit more structure and story to your experience, walk away now.


Tales of Hearts R

Tales of Hearts R
Pub: Bandai Namco Games | Dev: Bandai Namco Games | Release: 11.11.2014

   The first Tales game in English to appear on the Vita, and boy was it a polarizing experience for me. On one hand, I really dug the combat system in this game, as it kept the fast and furious pace of what we've all come to expect from the Tales series. The story in this game, however, was quite forgettable, and while the characters were decent, they equally weren't that memorable except for Kor Meteor. Because seriously, what the heck kind of awesome name is that? Bottom Line: For the hardcore Tales fans who need to play every game in the series. If you are a casual fan of the series, this is worth the skip.


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