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What have you actually PLAYED tracker for 2012 (Season 5)

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The new year is underway, and it's time to move from the old thread to the new. We're now in our fifth year of the gameplay tracker! Come one, come all -- in this case, it's quite literally "the more, the merrier".


The basic idea is to post what games you played during each week, and for how long. You don't have to time it down to the minute, though some of us do -- estimates are acceptable. Then, at the end of the week, the statskeeper (that's me) totals everything up and we find out which platforms are seeing the most action!


Each week, we have top 10 lists for consoles and for individual games. We also have a separate top 10 list for games released on consoles before the NES. That way, arcade-style vintage gaming doesn't get totally lost in the shuffle of RPGs, collectathons, and other games that take 10+ hours to complete.


However, the #1 game for 2011 by a mile was the quintessential old-school VCS game, so the old consoles are more than holding their own!




1. Be sure to list the system, the name of the game, and the length of time you play. If the game has any alternate titles by which it's better known (i.e. Air Sea Battle vs. Target Fun), please list them. If you list multiple games, please group them by system.


2. Each week runs Monday through Sunday (at midnight). The deadline for posting stats is now 3:00 PM (EST) on Monday to allow for different time zones.


3. Playing on actual game consoles is preferred although emulators are allowed. In some cases (homebrews in development) there is no alternative other than using an emulator.


4. Our cutoff year for consoles is 2000. That is, they have to have been released before 2000. This includes Dreamcast and N64, but excludes the most recent systems like PlayStation 2, XBox, GameCube, Game Boy Advance, et al. You're welcome to mention gameplay on those systems, but as of now they won't be added to the tracker.


5. Arcade games up to A.D. 2000 are permitted. So are emulated compilations of arcade games for modern systems, as long as they're not rewritten or otherwise massively "updated" versions. If you play 45 minutes of Robotron via Midway Arcade Treasures for the XBox, those 45 minutes are counted towards the arcade game. When you're playing arcade compilations, be sure to list each game separately (don't just put "Midway Arcade Treasures - 45 min.")


6. You don't just have to post a bare list of times -- comments, stories, gripes, and helpful hints are always encouraged! If you're struggling with a level, got a new high score, or have some thoughts about what's great or what stinks about a particular game...well, that's the kind of stuff that makes this fun to read.


Some things you can do to make the statskeeper's life a bit easier:


- If you post a big list of games, please consider alphabetizing them first (after grouping them by console).


- Posting your times in minutes, rather than hours + minutes, makes things a little simpler.


- Even if you don't know the exact time, it's better to post a specific number and say it's an estimate. If you say you posted a bunch of games for "between 20 minutes and an hour", I'll just average everything out to 40 minutes, but it'd be better to have a sense of which games you played more and which ones you played less.


- If there's room for confusion or ambiguity, anything you do to resolve that in advance is much appreciated. I know that Air Sea Battle = Target Fun, but I may not know that Soldiers of Fortune = Chaos Engine.


That about covers it. I'll post the summary for 2011 in its thread shortly. Have fun!

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This has probably been mentioned before, but are PC games allowed? Ones prior to 2000, of course. I ask because I always run back to DOOM when I'm bored, and I pick up some stuff from the '90s on GOG.com every now and then.


They are, though it's a weird fringey area for obvious reasons. The informal guideline I've been using is that anything that runs on Windows 95/98/98SE is fair game, since the pre-2000 policy is platform-based rather than game-based. (Exceptions are flash/online games, since they're really not in the spirit of things.)


But that could be revisited if it doesn't make sense. Maybe restricting it to pre-2000 games is a good way to go. Either way we've had very few Windows-based posts, but as far as I'm concerned they're welcome -- it's not like there's a massive rift between Dreamcast gaming and Windows 98. And we've had Doom entries on other platforms, like Jaguar.


(It's easier with Mac OS -- anything that runs on Classic is in, anything on OS X is out, at least under the current policy -- and infinitely harder on Linux: where the heck do you draw the line on that?)


BTW it's great to see a bunch of new faces in the thread!

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Atari 5200 - Mario Bros. 30 minutes.

Atari 5200 - Qix. 1 hour.


Playstation - recently picked up Tomb Raider 2 , have not played it since the 90's. Played it a good 2 hours.


The save-where-you-want feature of TR2 is like a crap shoot sometimes. More than once I saved but wanted to go back, ended up having to replay from the beginning of the level again because I couldn't get back. The main place I'm talking about is at the Great Wall of China - if you use the zip line over the huge gorge, you can't get down to the bottom of the gorge from the other side. And I realized, that "valley" down there, where you can see skeletons lying, is where the dual T. Rexes are, and I wanted to see them. So I restarted - it doesn't take long once you know what to do. Made my way down the 'endless and dark rope ladder' that you must find, and cautiously worked by way towards the back of the area, until each Rex attacked me and I mowed 'em down.

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My times for Sunday - Friday, plus extended comments:



Motocross - 8 min.

Stonix - 12 min.

Thin Ice - 26 min.


Atari ST:

Galaxy Force II - 5 min.



Mega Man - 25 min.



Adventure Island - 45 min.

Ikari Warriors - 18 min.


Sega Genesis:

Chiki Chiki Boys - 180 min.

Faery Tale Adventure - 164 min.

Strider - 23 min.



4 Wheel Thunder - 48 min.

PenPen TriIceLon - 9 min.


The games I played ranged from the ridiculous (e.g. DOS Mega Man) to the sublime. Stonix is in the latter category: a brilliant homebrew version of Arkanoid for the Intellivision, though with a few additional twists. I almost don't want to play it too much, it's that good -- in other words, I want to savor it, if that doesn't sound too weird. It also has a smart two-player mode, alternating when you lose a life or finish a level.


Stonix was one of several two-player games I tried out with my girlfriend. Motocross was no fun at all, so we switched to perennial favorite Thin Ice. I had a good run and got much further than I ever have before, making Level 13, and scored 76,770 points which roughly doubles my previous best.


Moving to the Dreamcast, PenPen TriIceLon also has a penguin and ice theme, but it's horrible. Much better was 4 Wheel Thunder, which also has a nice two-player mode: it keeps you close without rubberbanding and instantly replenishes all the powerups so you're not stealing from each other. Of course it also has more competitive minigame modes, but it's nice not to be forced into a zero-sum mode of play.


I also busted out Ikari Warriors, which is as ridiculous as ever but improves with two people. The next day, that led me to Adventure Island, where I played through 3-4 worlds before getting tired of it. I'd contemplated beating it again -- I finished the game in 1996, and clearing the last world was a real rush -- but ultimately grew weary of its uneven controls and samey gameplay.


Last, the Genesis came back out. I decided to try out Strider, and didn't like it one bit -- it seemed buggy and cheap to me, and wasn't fun at all. I know some people think highly of it, so I'll give it another whirl down the road, but my hopes aren't high.


Going from Strider to Chiki Chiki Boys was like going from night to day -- so much more polished, bright, and fun. After several attempts I managed to clear Normal, though I didn't get the best ending since I didn't find the hidden gem. There's a lot to like about the game, but buying the best items requires some grinding, which gets old fast.


Finally, I fired up Faery Tale Adventure for the first time in over a year, after finding the notepad where I'd written down my (very long) passwords. You start out weak as a kitten in FTA, and back in September 2010, I'd just started to make some headway when I set the game aside. Coming back to it, it took me nearly an hour to reorient myself (especially since the manual doesn't explain food and sleep very well at all), but then the game began to open up and I started making real progress. The game map is absolutely huge, and it's easy to get lost, but the teleportation circles and map items make it a lot easier.

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I'm going to try and get back into this…


after playing 3 hours of Asteroids I figured so!


here goes…


January 3:


Atari 7800

Asteroids - 3 hours


January 6:


Atari 5200

Frogger - 35 minutes


Atari Jaguar

Atari Karts - 25 minutes



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Here are my times for the lengthened week from January 1st through 8th, 2012...



Bank Panic - 49 min.

Discs of Tron - 22 min.

Q*Bert - 9 min.

Q*Bert's Qubes - 176 min. in 4 sessions


Commodore 64:

High Noon - 67 min.

Transformers (Ocean) - 128 min.


Total playing time: 451 min. (56 min. per day)


This week I still played some Q*Bert's Qubes, but then decided to call it quits. At the end of the last session, I briefly played the original Q*Bert to compare it to his successor (that was the 9 minute session).

Then I played some other arcade games... Discs of Tron probably runs on the same hardware as Tapper, having single-resolution background, but interlaced, double-resolution sprites. Nothing special to say about Bank Panic other than it fits to the "Western theme" of High Noon which I also played. I strived for 70,000 points, at which the first extra live gets awarded, and achieved that.


On "High noon", I completed a round of waves, at which point the game starts over (I don't know if harder or not). Then I played "Transformers" by Ocean (there's a second "Transformers" game on the C-64 by, I think, Activision or Epyx) and completed the first round, which I never managed to do before, with the help of a crude map I've drawn some years ago.


I'm in a bit of crisis right now... I've put together a list of all the games I've played from 2003 to 2008, which is planned to be extended until the present, where each game gets rated. Then the database generates a list of games that should be re-played, depending on the rating and when it was last played. Some weeks ago, I actually started to re-play the first games proposed by the database and found out I'm not having as much fun as I thought I would. Maybe that whole rating thing isn't all that... as Robbie Williams already sang nearly two years ago in his song "Morning sun", (maybe) causing Youtube shortly after its release to abandon their rating system in favor of a simple "like" and "don't like". Anyway... it feels much better if I just play what comes to mind, and if nothing comes to mind, I don't play anything at all and do something else. But the system works well for music... there I've written a program that spits out a steady stream of music according to my ratings, and it sounds quite good... here it would be much work selecting each song by hand, and I can't think of so many songs I'd like to listen to. :-)


Anyway... all games I've played this week were NOT selected by my database, although Q*Bert actually would have been next on the list, but in error since I've played it multiple times since 2008, but the more recent dates weren't entered.

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Neat thread. This week:


Arcade (MAME emulator):

1. Pac-Man - 6 hours. Only played the Coleco desktop mini-arcades ~25 years ago. First time playing the original. Whole new appreciation for this game. Surprised at the depth of enemy behaviour. Never been able to understand points-based games without an ending, though.


2. Ghouls'n Ghosts - 3 hours. Brilliant and beautiful. Hard as hell, but a touch easier than original. Made it pretty far on just continues, but had to use invincibility cheat to get by two places. Super GnG on SNES is better though.


3. Time Killers - 1 hour. Giggle.


4. Street Fighter - 1 hour. Disgustingly bad controls, poor audio. (I actually remember playing this with the analog buttons in the arcade once. What a stupid idea that was.)


Atari 2600 (online Java emulator):

1. Pac-Man - 10 min. To compare with arcade original. Shame on you Atari. Shame. :thumbsdown: :(


2. E.T. - 10 min. :? A game so bad, it even took out all the competitors' systems, including my beloved ColecoVision, in the crash that followed.


Commodore 64 (VICE emulator):

1. Ghosts'n Goblins - 2 hours. Great port for the C64. Pretty graphics, awesome original music. No final boss? Missing levels? And who's the retard who gave this system one button? Pressing up to jump isn't cool. Ahhhhh, memories. :)


2. Ghouls'n Ghosts - 1 hour. Uglier graphics than Ghosts'n Goblins. Not sure why they didn't use the same sprites, especially for Arthur. Also cool music, but again, not as good as Ghosts'n Goblins. Disgustingly hard. Controls just don't work with only one button in this game because you have to shoot up as well. Have to choose between Sound FX or Music? Part 1 didn't seem to have a problem.

Edited by BillyHW
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My times for the weekend:


Sega Genesis:

B.O.B. - 28 min.

Faery Tale Adventure - 327 min.

WarpSpeed - 330 min.


Hopped back on the horse with WarpSpeed, completing the first six missions on Expert. Only one left, then Campaign mode, and it's done.


Also made some more progress in Faery Tale Adventure, though I needed a mapmaking assist from my girlfriend. I don't think I've ever seen a RPG with bigger dungeons, and I've definitely never seen one that devotes so much space to what are apparently "red herring areas" with no significant items or plot points. There's an entire section of one dungeon that's basically a gigantic dead end, serves no purpose at all, and is easily skipped: it's just a matter of turning right, instead of left or straight, at the very beginning! I kind of like it, though -- it feels more truthful than having a treasure chest around every corner.

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Here are my times from the last week:


Atari 2600

Circus Atari - 30 minutes

Seaquest - 10 minutes



AD&D (cloudy mountain) - 15 minutes



Killer Bees - 10 minutes

Turtles - 5 minutes


I really enjoyed playing Killer Bees on real hardware for the first time. It's a very nice game. The Odyssey2 continues to impress me. Sure, a lot of very basic games (and quite a few poorly designed games) were produced for the system, but there are also quite a few gems that are unique to the platform. For me, that makes owning the system a must.


Naturally I enjoyed my old favorites Seaquest and AD&D Cloudy Mountain. But I'd forgotten how much fun Circus Atari is. Last night, I had trouble putting it down. I'm very rusty at it, so I never broke 2000 points. But I enjoyed every game.

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Here's the inaugural summary for 2011! We began with an extended Week 1, running from January 1-8. We logged 6451 minutes of eligible play, playing 53 games on a total of 16 systems.


Top 10:


1. Kaboom (Atari 2600) - 667

2. Soul Blazer (SNES) - 606

3. Lagoon (SNES) - 572

4. Faery Tale Adventure (Genesis) - 491

5. Asteroids (Atari 7800) - 480

6. Pac-Man (Arcade) - 360

7. WarpSpeed (Genesis) - 330

8. Spyro the Dragon (PlayStation) - 274

9. Tecmo Secret of the Stars (SNES) - 207

10. Ghouls 'n Ghosts (Arcade) - 180

10. Chiki Chiki Boys (Genesis) - 180


Pre-NES top 10:


1. Kaboom (Atari 2600) - 667

2. Asteroids (Atari 7800) - 480

3. Pac-Man (Arcade) - 360

4. Q*Bert's Qubes (Arcade) - 176

5. Mario Bros. (Atari 5200) - 165

6. Transformers, The (C64) - 128

7. Ghosts 'n' Goblins (C64) - 120

8. Qix (Atari 5200) - 100

9. Frogger (Atari 5200) - 70

10. High Noon (C64) - 67


Top 10 systems:


1. SNES (1734)

2. Genesis (1052)

3. Arcade (916)

4. Atari 2600 (727)

5. Atari 7800 (480)

6. PlayStation (451)

7. C64 (375)

8. Atari 5200 (335)

9. Atari Jaguar (85)

10. Turbografx-16 (70)


A great start to the new year, with lots of new faces and lots of minutes! An old king (Kaboom) holds onto its individual titles, while a pair of 16-bit upstarts nip at its heels and claim the top of the system charts.


The 1000-minute club also welcomes its 61st member, WarpSpeed (aka Warpspeed) for Genesis, with 1024 or (ahem) 2^10 minutes so far. Not the most deserving game, perhaps, but it's earned its place nonetheless.

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I always go by platform, rather than game release year. Otherwise we wouldn't have any homebrews! :)


The one wrinkle is arcade games. I don't have a good system right now for automatically differentiating between pre-NES arcade games and later releases, so I just do it by hand. But again, since the machine is in some sense its own platform, it's consistent.

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Here are my times for Monday - Thursday:


Sega Genesis:

B.O.B. - 25 min.

Chiki Chiki Boys - 77 min.

Cutthroat Island - 41 min.

Faery Tale Adventure - 245 min.

Gain Ground - 30 min.

Galaxy Force II - 4 min.

No Escape - 3 min.

WarpSpeed - 380 min.

Winter Olympic Games - 8 min.


Lots of Genesis! Beat Faery Tale Adventure and WarpSpeed, and also got the best ending on Normal difficulty in Chiki Chiki Boys. On to Hard, which seems kinda, well, hard.


I also tried out a few more two-player games with my girlfriend, including Gain Ground, a nifty title that's a bit like a cross between Gauntlet and X-Men for NES -- that is, if X-Men for NES were a good game: sorry, StanJr! :D


We also tried Cutthroat Island, which was better than I expected -- it generally gets very bad reviews -- but pulls the "insta-death obstacle course" nonsense that can ruin an otherwise decent game. We mapped out Level 2 and that one's fine now, but Level 5 was demoralizing. We'll see how it goes.

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So far this week...


Atari 2600

Circus Atari - 30 minutes



Blazing Lasers - 5 minutes



Road Fighter - 30 minutes



Scramble - 30 minutes


My wife sat down and played Scramble for the first time last night. She didn't do too bad -- nearly broke 10,000 on her first try. But then she's usually pretty good at scrolling shooters.

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