I keep a list of the games I finish & play every year in anticipation of putting together "best of the year" articles that I rarely ever write. In looking over these lists, though, I discovered another problem: I spend a lot of time on middling throwaway titles on Steam that are convenient diversions instead of the big stuff, the potentially great titles and the stuff that seems to speak to me that I've been meaning to get to but actually never do.

So: around the start of the year, I assembled a big Master List of the games I've been wanting to play, to target my focus. It's been...marginally successful, as you'll see. I'd wanted to finish - or at least attempt - all these games within a two-year period. I'm not exactly on schedule. (Games with an X, I've finished; games with an N, I've tried but abandoned.) I am, however, making more progress than I would otherwise.


personally important:

- Lunar: The Silver Star
- Mystic Ark: Maboroshi Gekijou
- Killer7
- Dragon Age II/Dragon Age: Inquisition
- Rudra no Hihou
- Neo Angelique: Tenshi no Namida
- Angelique: Maren no Rokukishi
- Spy Fiction
- Transistor again
- The Legend of Zelda (both quests)

I want to do another run of The Silver Star after 25 years to get some screenshots for an essay. I've watched Supergreatfriend's exhaustive LP of Killer7 but want to experience it myself - I have a long thing I want to write up on it. Transistor is another "screenshots for essay" deal, but I also want to pick up on story bits I couldn't appreciate the first time thanks to the game's weirdly obtuse storytelling. Zelda is the title that got me into dedicated gaming, but I've never beaten the second quest. I want to do it on my original 1985 cart, but I need to replace the battery.
Mystic Ark: Maboroshi Gekijou (Theatre of Illusions - the namesake of this site!) is a 3D adventure game sequel to the spiritual successor-but-not-really RPG to The 7th Saga that always wanted to be an adventure game anyhow. It's a prime example of 32-bit era bizarreness, but my attempts to do an LP have been thwarted by seemingly across-the-board emulation issues. (I have the first two chapters at that link, though.) The two Dragon Age games listed have some characters I'd like to get to know (I have no interest in the first title), but I don't have a PS3 or XBox 360, and I'm taking to mouse & keyboard controls like a fish to concrete.

Old School:

- Maniac Mansion
- Startropics
X Crystalis
N Super Metroid
- Live-a-Live
X Kamaitachi no Yoru
- Addie no Okurimono
- L'Ange et Le Démon
- Ys I & II
- Valis III

Most is stuff from my peak gaming period I never got around to checking out, but a few entries bear explanation. L'Ange et Le Démon is a CD-i semi-edutational adventure title set in Mont St. Michel, as you attempt to recover St. Michael's sword from a demon. The premise and setting appeal to me, but I've seen some goofily unprofessional screenshots of this title. The CD-i is such an unusual platform and product of its bizarre, "dawn of the CD era" time, with its attempts to appeal to an adult audience by putting cutting-edge technology in the hands of those with perhaps more mature sensibilities (in some respects) but no experience in creating video games.
Addie no Okurimono (Addie's Gift) is a storybook...puzzle adventure game, I think, in a vein similar to Mystic Ark: Theatre of Illusions, starring (again, I think) two girls at around the turn of the century or shortly thereafter. I honestly forget the exact reasons why I wanted to give this title a try, but screenshots confirm that it bears further investigation.
Ys I & II I want to play because - well, take a look at this intro and start counting how much TSS ripped off from it. I want to see how deep the ties go. It's remarkably hard to get in its original Turbo form, though - outside of the original TurboGrafx release (and I'm not getting into nursing 30-year-old CD-based systems), it's been available only on the defunct Wii Virtual Console, and individual iso rips are hard to come by. I ended up downloading it from a 30-gig package of roms from archive.org.


- finish Castlevania
- finish Rondo of Blood
- Lament of Innocence
- Curse of Darkness
- Portrait of Ruin
- Dawn of Sorrow
- Symphony again


- Castlevania 64
- 3 Gameboy games
- cell phone game

I've never actually beaten the original Castlevania. I have a save on the last stage of the PSP Rondo remake but have never gotten myself to the finish line because...I don't love Rondo. I know that's heresy. I find it messy and unfocused compared to III, my high-water mark of the stage-based series. It's an intermediate step into Symphony's larger world but still a blatantly Under Construction project. Lament and Curse I actually own, but my PS2 developed weak laser during a Clock Tower 3 attempt, and I might need to get a "new" one. I don't like emulating DS stuff, and getting those missing DS titles now is gonna be a trial.

I've also tried the unlisted Castlevania Chronicles to fulfill a need for stage-based CV, but I don't know if it was playing like garbage due to bad emulation, a weird button configuration, or that it actually plays like garbage.


- finish Clock Tower 3
- Resident Evil: Code Veronica
- Resident Evil Zero
- Resident Evil: Outbreak
- Resident Evil: Outbreak File 2
- RE1 remake
- Dawn of Mana

See above. I actually could go through Zero now, seeing how it's on GameCube...but that would be out of order, you know. I could also play Code Veronica through a month of PSNow, but I'd feel bad about hanging my PS2 boxed copy out to dry, unplayed.


- Parasite Eve

Worked through one; got the other on card for maybe this Christmas.


- Observation
- Anthem

Observation, I bought for my Christmas game last year - but Christmas blew up, and I still haven't gotten around to it. It's an adventure title from the makers of Stories Untold, a suspense anthology whose puzzles hinge on finding one's way around old technology - text adventures running on ZX Spectra; microfische machines; outdated medical equipment that requires repeated consultation of a three-ring binder of instructions. It contained one of the best meditations on the use of empathy in games I've played - the second chapter, the 30-minute "The Lab Conduct" - and it convinced me to buy whatever the studio's next effort was. That was Observation...and I still haven't gotten around to it. This is why this list exists.
The pick of Anthem might not hold - between constant retooling and its poor reception, the game in its original form probably no longer exists. I was ready to buy this in its $5 ultra-cheap form at GameStop last Black Friday, but the clerk there mentioned that I needed PS Plus to play it. I didn't have to time free to play it all in a month's subscription, so I left the game in the store, failing to drop the $5 purchase price after waiting in line for 15-20 minutes. This is the way my mind works.
Anyhow: I was interested in Anthem because I like the look of the flying. That's pretty much it. Then again, I bought my PS4 because I thought Mass Effect: Andromeda's combat looked cool, and despite the game's reputation, I didn't regret that purchase.



- Remothered
- Tales of Zestiria
- Yume Nikki again
- Alone with You

The endless saga of Remothered progressing at great, great length from a Clock Tower remake starring a rough 3D model with bowling-ball tits to an apparently full-fledged, original, current-gen title is one whose finale I have to experience for myself. It's been over a decade. I'm too invested at this point. That said, from what I've already played, the end result looks a bit nasty in parts, but we'll see.
Alone with You is a sci-fi tale from Benjamin Rivers, who made Home, a short, atmospheric on reconciling player choice with coherent narrative that impressed me. Tales of Zestiria I want to play for it apparently foregrounding what is all but officially acknowledged as a male/male love story, as well as its evident desire to rip off Lunar 2 wholesale. (I've also never played a Tales game, despite wanting to give the original Tales of Phantasia a try.) I've played Yume Nikki once already, but given its Steam release, I'd like to go through it again to see if my feelings have changed.

eh, someday:

- 428
X Amnesia: Memories other route
X Golden Axe III
- High Hell
- Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade
- Dr. Dekker finale
N Late Shift
- Little Briar Rose
- Marlow Briggs
- Mighty No. 9 finish
- MirrorMoon
- Oniken
- Shining Force II
X Sokobond finish
- Two Brothers

A bunch of stuff I'd like to finish up, but it's not gonna kill me if I don't. I end up dedicating too much of my gaming time to titles like this due to the easy access the PC platform affords and their low emotional involvement.

PlayStation latecomers:

- Meremanoid
- Twilight Syndrome
- Ugetsu Kitan
- Mizzurna Falls
- Angelique: Tenkuu no Requiem

Meremanoid is a mermaid-themed RPG with art by Akihiro Yamada of Mystic Ark pseudo-fame, which makes it up my alley. Interestingly, it seems to follow a more realistic basalt-and-hydrothermal-vents take on an ocean-floor environment than the traditional Little Mermaid aesthetic. Twilight Syndrome is a Japanese urban-legend horror adventure title starring a group of schoolgirl friend investigators from the makers of Clock Tower that seems to follow in its photorealistic footsteps.

Another horror adventure, Ugetsu Kitan was brought to my attention by some intriguingly poetic gif sets by fmtownsmarty. It seems to be most famous for its memetastic PlayStation version, but it's the PC-88 version that has my attention. Mizzurna Falls is a Twin Peaks-inspired murder mystery from Human - makers of Clock Tower and Twilight Syndrome above - with an open-world time-based investigative structure on which Deadly Premonition seems to have been based. Given how baldly DP's story ripped from Twin Peaks, I'm interested to see how indebted the title is gameplaywise to Human's talent. Tenkuu no Requiem, the only RPG in the Angelique series and the source of the very popular Leviath storyline, seems like a given for me, but I completely forgot about its existence for this list until I went through a bunch of old ROMs.

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