Somehow, 2019 has come and gone in a flash. It’s astonishing to me that across these 365 days, I’ve managed to make my way through almost double the number of games I did last year, coming out to 46 games in total, with one filthy cheater win via password manipulation. As I mentioned last year, the gaming hobby has shifted a lot more toward playing through games I’ve found rather than acquiring new ones, but that’s not to say I haven’t been picking up new games every chance I get!
Since I’ve had you all caught up on what’s made its way onto the shelves in 2019, I wanted to take a little time to talk about what I played, some brief thoughts each game, and a link or two to things I’ve been doing in other parts of the internet to assemble a lovely summary of a wonderful year in gaming.
I started the year on the second half of Suikoden 1, a turn-based RPG that I felt was mediocre at best by the time I got to the end of it. I didn’t fall in love with this game even a little, and despite it starting out strong, my expectations were far beyond where this particular game ended up meeting me. I finished the game slightly outside of what would be considered 100%, and I can’t see myself revisiting it any time soon. It was a slow start to the year.
King’s Quest V (NES)
Playing through this again was probably one of my fondest gaming memories from 2019. The NES version of King’s Quest V is a game I purchased used when I was a kid but hadn’t had a chance to revisit it in any form since that time in my life. Like many games on this list, I streamed this and was thrilled to be able to share this experience with so many other people who were only familiar with more modern portrayals of this adventure. I loved it so much in fact that I played through it a second time to prepare a let’s play for YouTube.
This game was a one-night wonder on stream, and I do recall having a fun time playing it. It took a lot of getting used to with its stiff controls, and I’m still surprised I ended up finishing it given how tough some of the boss fights were. I can’t remember much, so I’d call it far from memorable.
Popful Mail (Sega CD)
This was hands down one of the most expensive games I’ve purchased while collecting games, and I was thrilled to be able to play the real deal on original hardware. It compared so much to things like Faxanadu, Ys III: Wanderers from Ys and other sidescrolling adventure games that it felt natural to fall in love with it despite its staggering difficulty at times. If you ever have a chance to play this game, please do!
Little Nemo Dream Master (NES)
This was another one of my fondest memories from this past year in gaming. I have an amazing friend who adores this game that kept gently prodding me to try it out for myself, and after much convincing I finally dove in. Believe it or not, this is the one game I actually rage quit in the past, and unsurprisingly, it was that train level that did it to me. I let that game sit on the shelf for almost an entire decade before trying it again this year. With patience of steel as my armour, over two separate sittings, I was finally triumphant and made it through to the end.
Psychic World (Sega Master System)
Psychic World is probably one of my favourite Master System games and one I came upon totally by chance while looking into new games for the system a few years ago. It’s a really interesting action platformer that was a PAL exclusive for the SMS, but also came out in other iterations on the Game Gear and the MSX. If you have a Master System hanging around, I can’t recommend this game enough as a quick, action-packed game!
The Legend of Zelda (NES) – Second Quest
Man oh man. If you know much at all about me, you know that I love some Zelda 1 like it’s nobody’s business. Although I never finished this game without the Game Genie until I was in my late 20s, the second quest was something that always eluded my interest because I had such a hard time with the first. Finishing this relatively blind on stream was one of my proudest accomplishments this year. I made my own video on the experience embedded below, but I was also invited to co-write and co-present two videos comparing and contrasting the first and second quests (Part 1 and Part 2) with Nefarious Wes. It was a very fun project to work on and I was honoured to be a part of it.
Adventure Island IV
As a long-time lover of the Adventure Island series (except that first one… it can go back to hell from whence it came), finding out about a longer-winded action adventure game starring my favourite Higgins was music to my ears. I loved every moment of this experience and was grateful to be able to play a translated copy of the game on real hardware since it was originally a Japan-only Famicom release. I’d recommend this game to anyone for a fun thinkfest.
Ironsword: Wizards & Warriors II
Now full disclosure, I only finished this game by blatantly cheating. After a certain point in the adventure, you’re no longer able to continue. I lost all my lives and should’ve properly game over’d, but I’m counting it here because with a bit of password manipulation to give me extra lives, I was able to eventually reach an ending screen. I’ll take it! The music alone in this game makes it worthwhile to finish.
I never grew up with an SNES, and until very recently I was not even aware that the SNES version was even different from the Sega Genesis game. It diverges in so many key ways like not having weapon to attack with and relying a lot more heavily on platforming skills that it’s truly a unique experience. Even though I found it really tough to get through at certain points, especially in the end game, I did manage to make it. It was another single night win for me!
Aladdin (Sega Genesis)
Now THIS version of Aladdin is one I grew up with. I never owned it as a kid but we did rent it a lot, and I don’t ever remember being able to beat it until last year. It was nice to finally cross this one off the list of games I’ve always wanted finally finish.
Super Mario Bros. (NES) – Hammer Code (XYAGEP)
This was a feat of strength and skill that I never, ever want to have to go through again myself. There’s a Game Genie code that gives all enemies hammers to throw, and not just the regular hammer brothers hammers. It’s the ridiculous King Koopa hammer spew, and they also shoot straight up. This was a nightmare to complete, and along with the infinite lives code (SXIOPO) I’m still the only person out there that has managed to make it through the entire game. Here’s a short clip of me making it to the end after about 4.5 hours of trying, with most of that being 8-4.
The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse (SNES)
This game was one I picked up randomly at a swap because the price was right, and in general, I’ve enjoyed Disney games from the 8- and 16-bit generations. This game felt very difficult in places, and I’m not sure what I could’ve done differently to make things easier on myself other than practice it more. There was one boss in particular in a wintry section of the game that made me want to scream, and that’s all I can remember about playing through this one. I must’ve repressed the rest of it.
Secret of Mana (SNES)
Secret of Mana was the game that really got me interested in ramping up my video game collecting, period. A friend had lent it to me but took it back before I had a chance to play it at all. Looking into purchasing a copy for myself opened up my world to so many other RPGs that I never even knew existed, especially on the SNES, and I’m still down that rabbit hole almost 5 years later with no signs of stopping. You can only imagine how great it was to finally cross this one off the list. It was definitely a good game, albeit a bit grindy when it came to levelling up magic skills, but I enjoyed it on the whole. It was one of those perfect games for streaming where I felt like I could still be productive in the game and keep up with a chat at the same time, but as usual, I got lost a lot. The soundtrack was definitely a highlight for me.
Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest (NES)
Finally! This entire series was one I’ve been wanting to get into forever, but after getting destroyed by the first NES Castlevania game back in October of 2018 I had been fearful to try out the second in the series. I’m so, so thankful I did, and despite all the hubbub about a “bad translation”, I was able to finish Simon’s Quest with barely any help in one marathon 8 hour sitting! The music, the action and the game as a whole was so Faxanadu-like that it was impossible for me not to love this one too. If you haven’t played it, please do yourself a favour and play it! It is very underrated!
Katamari Damacy (PS2)
I have so much praise for this game. I went through some pretty stressful times at work in 2019, and the few weeks where I had this game to look forward to coming home to on Monday nights were like oases in the scorching desert of despair at the time. The amazing soundtrack is probably the thing I took away most from this experience, but there’s also something about the game’s simple premise that had me playing and replaying levels to not only improve my performance, but to hear the hilarious screams of the people in the midst of the destruction I was causing. It was so relaxing to terrorize everyone and destroy the world in the happiest way possible. I can’t wait to play the other games in the series.
Streets of Rage (Sega Genesis)
This was a co-op effort for my boyfriend and I. We played on easy mode and just barely squeaked by to beat this game together for the first time. I’m not usually good at brawlers and this playthrough was no different. He definitely carried me through!
World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (Sega Genesis)
Yet another game from my childhood that I have very fond memories of! I never owned this game until I was an adult but used to rent it a lot, and I was able to finish this on stream one night for some people who wanted to see it played through. I really enjoy the Donald Duck path!
Golvellius: Valley of Doom (Sega Master System)
Exploring Master System RPGs has become a bit of a pastime, if you hadn’t noticed. Golvellius: Valley of Doom was something that really piqued my interest since I always heard it referred to as a Zelda-like. That phrasing has lost a lot of meaning for me because everyone’s always calling every top-down perspective game where someone swings a sword a Zelda-like… this game just doesn’t quite fit that bill. It’s a wonderful game with a great soundtrack, good puzzles, and an interesting mashup of genres that includes some vertical- and side-scrolling sections. I’ll be curious to get into the other versions on the MSX, or its spiritual successor, Super Cooks!
Ghouls ‘n Ghosts (Sega Master System)
Did I mention I finally made it into the club for people who can beat a GnG game? I honestly feel like this game is a cheater’s paradise into that club since this game peels away a lot of the white-knuckle difficulty of others in the series. With permanent upgrades to armour and weapons and magic that’s independent of which armour is equipped, it’s a great way for casual gamers to actually enjoy this series without ending up bald after the fact.
Vice: Project Doom (NES)
Beating this game was a hard-fought victory. It was another one-night completion for me, but the lead up to the end of the game was a real slog. The final boss encounter is probably one of the most difficult ones I’ve had this year, but the rest of the game’s interesting and challenging level design wiped all that frustration away.
Asterix (Sega Master System)
I’ve been familiar with the Asterix comics for as long as I can remember since I’ve lived in Canada all my life, and this game was one of the most pleasant discoveries I’ve had while getting into the PAL library of Master System games. It’s a platformer that allows you to switch between two different characters, Asterix and Obelix, and every level is completely different depending on which of the characters you choose to play with. It has a ton of replay value and although it fell a little flat at the end, I’m looking forward to playing it again sometime. I’ve also recently purchased the other two Asterix games on the system and am excited to try those out as well.
Super Adventure Island (SNES)
I was really excited for Super Adventure Island when I first heard about it a long while ago, and I was familiar with the game’s amazing soundtrack long before I ever played it. The game itself is a little bit mediocre and really, really difficult toward the end, so until this past year I had never been able to finish it. It was so nice to finally send that final boss to the depths after so many missed attempts in the past. Woohoo!
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (Game Boy Advance)
I had really high hopes for this game. It’s Zelda, so what could possibly go wrong? It was decent overall, but the whole kinstone fusion thing being required for key items and plot progression really, really turned me off. There was far too much of a focus on that and I found it really detracted from the main game objectives a little too often. It also left me in the dark a lot about where to go next. I’d say this is definitely at the bottom of my list of Zelda games in terms of preference, unfortunately.
Donkey Kong Country (SNES)
This was the first time I’d really sat down to play this, and it was a tremendous struggle to say the least. The redeeming quality that made playing this game worthwhile was the very excited chat full of people who love this series and this particular game, and that sweet final boss fight music. DKC was so tough, and if you’re wondering, yes: I fell for the fake ending and had to do it over again.
This game was AWESOME! I bought this one on a whim at the request of a friend to play on stream, and am I ever glad I did! This game fused sci-fi, fantasy, cyberpunk and so many genre types that it’s hands down one of the most unique gaming experiences I’ve ever had. There are a lot of thoughts rolling around in my brain on this game and I have a review video planned, so hopefully I’ll be able to get it down on paper one of these days. It comes highly recommended if you haven’t played it yourself!
Great Greed (Game Boy)
This is a game that’s been on my mind on and off since I finished it a few months ago. It’s a turn-based RPG that is both fast-paced and hilarious that set the bar very high for the games that will come after it. The music in this game is beautifully composed for the most part, and I loved how sporadic the story felt at times. It was definitely one of the more interesting games I’ve played this past year and again, something that comes highly recommended if you’re into oldschool RPGs.
Kid Icarus (NES)
Kid Icarus is one of those games that I only understood as a vertical platformer and nothing more because for the longest time, I couldn’t get out of the first few levels. This game felt like a terrible grind when I picked it up this year again, but after some diligence and with the encouragement of many people hanging out with me while that death counter climbed higher and higher, I found a few upgrades and the game got a LOT more manageable. It’s truly an experience that gets easier as you go, and I tell ya, busting into that second loop never felt so good. Those eggplant wizards are the devil though. Probably the worst enemy ever in the entire history of time, no question. Getting turned into a defenseless vegetable never felt more offensive than it did here.
Bionic Commando (NES)
I don’t think I’ve ever felt more embarrassed streaming a game than I did playing through Bionic Commando. You know how usually when you play a game for a while that you get better at it in a timely fashion? That didn’t happen here. It was at least an hour of blunder after blunder before something finally clicked, and it was another marathon night of gaming that brought me to the end of this one. Regardless of the struggle, finishing this is easily one of my proudest gaming experiences of 2019.
Super Metroid (SNES)
Ah yes, Super Metroid. It’s a game beloved by so many, and now by me as well. I do have to say that it was a lengthy run playing through without a guide and with a request for no spoilers, but finding a way forward or brute-forcing my way into areas I wasn’t supposed to be yet made for an interesting experience that I’ve rarely had with games outside of this franchise. I only just played the first Metroid game last year for the first time and this was my second game in the series, and Super Metroid more or less fixed many of the issues I had with the first game.
Breath of Fire (SNES)
This was only one of a few turn-based RPGs I had the pleasure of playing through this year, and it fell awfully flat for me. It did a lot of things right as a back-to-basics game, and I usually love these. Unfortunately, the translation here was a big letdown and really held me back from loving the game since I couldn’t really keep track of the story and got lost a lot. I was kindly asked to share my thoughts on Breath of Fire on the Mage Cast (Episode #37). That conversation can be found here:
Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (NES)
After having some luck with Simon’s Quest, I gave Castlevania III a go. It is by far the hardest game I finished in 2019 along with the Hammer Mario challenge, and it took a lot of patience and practice along with a little luck to make it through. I’m still surprised I made it… I took Sypha along for the ride and will never forget the horrible, horrible sounds of that final level’s music. As a dear friend of mine once said, that song sounds like a straw being pulled in and out of a fast food cup lid. You’re welcome.
This game haunted me for just over an entire year before I was finally able to put it away for good. I had gotten stalled at the reaper in October of 2018 with no hopes of making it through, but after beating Castlevania III earlier in the evening, this one came together quite well. That final fight against Dracula was a real nail-biter over the long while it took me to obliterate him, but finishing two Castlevania games in one night is something I won’t soon forget.
Lord of the Sword (Sega Master System)
Ah yes. This is a game I put off playing for ages because I thought it was going to be horrendous. Horrendous is a very strong descriptor and while I wouldn’t have called it an overwhelmingly positive experience, it was certainly far from the worst game I’ve ever played. It was a lesson in patience which I seem to have in droves, and it’s still shocking to me that I got to the end of this one. You have 10 continues/lives, you have to finish the whole adventure from start to finish, and not one bit of it is easy. It’s definitely one of the more challenging things I’ve accomplished this year.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Sega Genesis)
Coming back to old favourites was a theme to round out the end of the year. I’ll never get tired of crashing back down to earth after setting Dr. Robotnik ablaze.
River City Ransom (NES)
I was so pleasantly surprised by River City Ransom! Having some stream help to figure out what to eat in the shops to level specific stats was just what I needed to make this playthrough enjoyable, and I’m now excited to try other games like River City Girls, or other Kunio Kun series games. I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to this one. I’d highly recommend it if you haven’t played it yet!
Danan the Jungle Fighter (Sega Master System)
At a first glance, I thought I had found a brand new action adventure RPG for the system, but it turned out that that Danan the Jungle Fighter was more a mix of an arcade-style sidescrolling platformer with a few RPG elements sprinkled in. And it was the lightest possible sprinkling! This game is fairly short, but like Lord of the Sword, it also required finishing it all in one sitting. It’s moderately pricey and a PAL-region exclusive, and for what you get out of it, I wouldn’t recommend paying the going rate. If you can get it for a deal, absolutely. It’s a fun albeit small adventure.
Rambo had just come in the mail the day I played it at someone’s request, and over two sessions I managed to make it through this strange, strange adventure. The translation in this game was probably my favourite part, but having not seen the Rambo movies before playing this also brought me into it without any expectations of what a Rambo game should be. The main theme is so quest-y and awesome too… contrary to popular opinion, I loved it.
Bubsy: Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind (Sega Genesis)
Beating Bubsy 1 for Sega Genesis felt like a true occasion for celebration. I’ve had this game since childhood and used to play it alllll the time but never made it even remotely close to the end. Playing it occasionally as an adult over the past few years saw me make it a bit further each time, and a few weeks ago I finally vowed to push through to the end no matter how many times we had to put in a password. And I did it! I had an amazing stream talking about one of my favourite games (yes, you read that right), laughing at Bubsy’s horrible rollercoaster face, and finally closing that chapter of my gaming life. What a rush!
EGG: Elemental Gimmick Gear (Sega Dreamcast)
EGG queued up more negativity in me than I had hoped. It was an action RPG I sought out for a long while and found it locally not too long ago. My high hopes were dashed and this was probably one of my least favourite games I played through this year, with Suikoden and Breath of Fire being about even. It needed a little more refinement to make it a great game, but I wouldn’t even really call it very good. It was sub-standard at the core of what makes action RPGs what they are, and that’s why it all fell apart for me.
Bubble Bobble – Bad Ending (Sega Master System)
Did you know that there was a Bubble Bobble game for the Master System? And that it has 200 levels instead of 100? Well, I’ll probably never see the other half of the game because I finished it with the bad ending. There were some conditions to be met to open up the 100 level home stretch and I missed them playing through blind! So much for that, but I was happy to seriously sit down with Bubble Bobble for the first time. It was enjoyable, and even after 100 levels I was not tired of that song!
Virtual Boy Wario Land (Virtual Boy)
After my boyfriend kindly modded our Virtual Boy for AV out, first on my list to play was VB Wario Land. I feel like this adventure was way harder than any Mario game I’ve ever played and I’m pretty sure I came away from it with the worst possible ending. Nonetheless, it was a shining moment for me to play and finish something on a system I never dreamed of owning until a few years ago.
Super Mario Bros. 3 All-Stars Version (SNES)
SMB3 again, you say? Yes! Except for the very first time this year, I decided to play it on the SNES. I can’t say I liked that experience more than the NES version though… the backgrounds were too busy, and I sincerely missed my familiar NES sound effects. Soon I’ll have to torture myself with Super Mario Advance 4 to see what abominable voices they added to that game…
Ys IV: Mask of the Sun (Super Famicom)
I made a triumphant return to the Ys series as well this year after finishing Ys III: Wanderers from Ys (SNES) last year and Ys: Vanished Omens (SMS) back sometime in 2017. I was able to apply a translation patch using the Super UFO 8, and thankfully the translation was exceptionally well done! It was by far the best experience I’ve had playing a patched game so far and I have lots of great things to say about it that will likely trickle out in a video review in the coming weeks.
You didn’t think I could let a year come and go without a return to the World Tree, did you? I just squeezed this playthrough in a few days ago and finished it in just under five hours. It’s always fantastic revisiting one of my very favourites.
The Lion King (Sega Genesis)
And with one last hurrah, launching back to yet another old favourite closed out my year for gaming. I finished this one up on normal mode and saved the day yet again. What a hero I am!
As you might expect if you made it all the way to the bottom of this post, that’s it! I feel like I’ve expanded on my gaming hobby so much in the past year. Collecting is continuing to wind down and I’m finding myself enjoying games more and more through streaming and creating video reviews. In a million years, I would’ve never thought I’d be doing this kind of thing, yet here I am enjoying every moment.
Thank you to everyone who has stuck around through collecting, streaming and watching my content out there. It means the world to me to be able to share this hobby with you all, which was the true goal when I started up this blog almost 4 years ago now. I’m so grateful to have met so many wonderful people over the past few years. I’ve been lucky to become surrounded with a really solid group of gaming enthusiasts, and I appreciate you all so much! Thank you so much.
I hope 2019 has been a wonderful year for you all. As always, I’m wishing you the best in your gaming endeavours and beyond for a fruitful year. Be safe out there!
Thanks for reading!