The Backlog: Final Collision Fantasy with Friends edition

Our Backlog is full of Awesome Sauce this week. Don't believe me? Good. You shouldn't.

But click the link anyway, please. We know when you don't!

Nick:

There's a lot I could talk about this week: I just broke past the 50% completion mark in Just Cause 2, a game that somehow still manages to feel fresh and exciting hours after its conclusion, and I've been dabbling in a little bit of Ratchet and Clank: Quest for Booty, Demon's Souls and, of course, the Halo: Reach beta.

But the one game I've been the most hooked on in months (until I finally get a hold of Picross 3D, anyway) is Final Fantasy. Not Final Fantasy XIII -- I haven't touched it in more than a month, and for good reason -- but the original, conveniently ported for the umpteenth time to the iPhone App Store. I realized that, despite how many different times I've played the original game, I've never actually finished it. Thankfully, this good old-fashioned grind-fest feels right at home on a phone. Thanks to a solid save system and the updated graphics, music and gameplay balancing from the PSP release, Final Fantasy looks and feels great on the iPhone. With modern roleplaying games largely focusing on big-budget presentation and overly complicated battle systems, Final Fantasy feels almost perfectly at home on a platform that's tailor-made for five-minute play sessions.

Doug:

Beyond my two current gaming addictions — playing Words with Friends most anytime of the day (feel free to send a game challenge, my username is harperdc), and more PES 2010 than is probably healthy for a person — I've gotten just a little time this week to play something I will undoubtedly pour far more time into: Super Street Fighter IV.

Unlike Nick, I didn't spend a ton of time on the first Street Fighter IV when it came out. I have put a lot of time into past SF games, including Super Street Fighter II HD Remix and the Marvel vs. Capcom games; I also count the arcade-perfect port of Street Fighter Alpha 3 on the Dreamcast is one of my all-time favorite games. While I'm not a Street Fighter pro by any stretch of the imagination, I know my way around a quarter-circle or two.

That said, from my scant few hours I can already tell that SSFIV is almost the ultimate evolution of the SF formula. The character selection and balance is superb; the graphic style, character animations, and arena backgrounds all improve on SFIV while also drawing from that slightly stereotypical sense of whimsy SF has made its own since Street Fighter II.

More importantly, the gameplay is tightened and balanced better compared with previous editions of the game. The addition of new supers and ultras for all characters, as well as more offensively-biased characters, changes the balance and tone of SFIV; it means more attacking, which is exactly how I like to play fighting games.

Shame I'm getting my ass handed to me on a regular basis by both the computer and online. Ugh. I think I'm going to have to track down Nick and beg for some sympathy to get my first online win.

Aaron:

I deleted my first few paragraphs of text in the middle of drafting this post. I really didn't play much of anything this week, and I could tell I was just blathering on. We've already discussed Reach, and my hour-and-a-half session of zombie killing in Call of Duty: World at War leaves little to blog about. For the sake of transparency: I've focused most of my attention on an imbroglio that began this past Saturday, when I was involved in (but didn't cause) a nasty collision/accident/case of unrelentingly stupid driver error. So instead of worrying about my pokemans or my effects massing, I've been playing a little game I'd like to call Progessive Auto Insurance VII: Lamentations of the Claims Adjuster.

IGN gave it a 12 out of 10, and Edge says it's perhaps the most realistic game ever created. There's no way to win; instead, the protagonist is repeatedly rammed up his claim hole with paperwork by an ever-unreachable, rapidly expanding mass of putrid, faceless mist that taught itself to take on a human-like shape at will. This antagonist, referred to in the oldest of tomes as The Adjusticator, does not heed the pleas of the hero character. In fact, The Adjustictor was "born" without hearing appendages of any sort. This makes it impossible for the hero to raise the valuation of his trusty steed, which was beaten to death by The Adjusticator's BFF and client, Gilchrist Doushbahg. And if our stalwart hero tries to explain that his beast of burden was well-fed, preened and maintained, The Adjusticator will stop him mid-sentence, hold up its wispy hand, and then, speaking incantations from the most forbidden magics of Bureaucracy, begin its lamentations in earnest. The demon's salty tears of bitchery will turn the greenest lowlands into mud while the snow-dusted mountain tops will watch the world drown in shocked horror as they also slowly disappear into the briny maelstrom. The Adjusticator really hates handing over money.

So I'm playing Rhythm Heaven, and it's hard -- annoying even. I think the game refuses to let me progress until I've completed a mini-game perfectly. It proves once again that just because I developed natural rhythm from playing the drums since I was a child, it doesn't mean I'll be any good at keeping rhythm in videogames.

Yeah, I'm looking at you, Rock Band. But The Beatles: Rock Band...you're all right. Drink's on me.