Take on the NES Library

An 8-bit Extravaganza!



Happy 6th Anniversary!

Today is the six-year anniversary for Take On The NES Library!

The obvious theme for this year is that things have slowed way down – and I mean way down – but I’m still at it and I haven’t given up.  Nor do I plan to!  Just like last year, this should have been a year of great progress when in fact it was by far my slowest year to date, for a number of reasons that should be made very clear and very quickly.  Let’s look at the numbers year over year.

Year Beaten Total Beaten Yearly Average Days/Game End Date Average Difficulty
1 38 38 38 9.6 7/14/2033 5.5000
2 24 62 31 11.8 6/27/2037 5.4355
3 43 105 35 10.4 1/5/2035 5.3238
4 35 140 35 10.4 1/3/2035 5.3286
5 30 170 34 10.7 7/30/2035 5.2118 *
6 11 181 30.17 12.1 1/27/2038 5.2155

* This changed from last year because I must have amended some difficulty ratings.

That’s definitely a steep decline, isn’t it?

The same problems that plagued me last year are still present, and I suspect they will for the next few years at least.  While streaming on Twitch has been great fun, it has cut into the time I would normally have spent playing, and also changes how I play games, to some extent.  Requiring recordings of full games is the way to go moving forward, but the computer setup and video editing and all that stuff takes up more time.  My writing has also suffered as I’m now a full year behind on blogs, but that’s more of a motivation thing.  (Don’t worry I am still going to write up every game, however long it takes.)  All that said, the real reason for the slow output is all in the specific games I played.

Year 6 has been bookended by two very long games.  Ultima: Exodus overtook Ikari Warriors as my longest game in terms of days from start to finish, spanning close to 4 ½ months from Thanksgiving to early April.  I spent over 50 hours in gameplay time to beat it, mostly grinding enemies and trying my best to understand exactly how the game works.  It definitely surprised me in how long it took to clear it, and I still needed direct tips from Twitch chat to finish it off.  On the other, current end, I am nearing the end of a long season in Bases Loaded 4.  There’s nothing I can do there but grind it out until it’s over.  Even playing a lot of it offline, it still progresses slowly, mostly because I only bother setting everything up if I’m going to have at least an hour to play.  Now I did get involved in some other stuff that took up more free time, so it has been about four months since I started Bases Loaded 4.  Right there that is 2/3 of a year on just two NES games for this project.

The good news is that the middle four months of Year 6 is much more encouraging over the long term.  From mid-April through mid-July I finished 10 games.  That included some longer-than-average stints with The Uncanny X-Men and Lunar Pool.  10 games in a 3-month period are in line with some of my more prolific stretches in beating NES games.  That gives me hope for making better progress next year and beyond.  It really comes down to the random selections of the games.  There are plenty of long games left on the list that could come up at any time, or I might get a long stretch of shorter games and make a ton of visible progress.  I think I am going to stop setting short-term goals for myself on this project, aside from the overarching goal of just sticking with it.  This is a marathon, not a sprint, and I don’t care if I come in last place as long as I finish.

There were some special events and other activities that have taken up my free time.  In February I learned the speedrun to Rush ‘n Attack as part of an event in the Salsa Shack Discord and I spent a couple of weeks doing runs of that game.  The biggest thing for me was I got involved in a Dragon Warrior Randomizer tournament in late summer.  I streamed weekly races for about a couple of months.  I did really well too, finishing 3-2 in the first five rounds and losing in the subsequent brackets in the first round to the eventual tournament winner.  I think that is something I will remain involved with in the future.  In fact, I have been playing Dragon Warrior Randomizer regularly since the tournament because it’s fun to play.  I have also messed around with Earthbound randomizers which are extremely fun as well.  I’ve gotten hooked on some Switch games too.  I dedicated time to both Bowser’s Fury and Metroid Dread when they came out and I have sunk over 50 hours into Dicey Dungeons.  There is always time for modern gaming.

In a programming note, I have decided to discontinue the Year in Review articles I previously wrote.  They took a lot of time to put together that could be better spent elsewhere.  This year would have been a weird one to write up with so few games finished, plus I have just now gotten to the point where I would have written the article covering last year’s games.  Instead, I think it makes sense to use this space to cover some remarkable feats or surprises that happened over the last year of playing.  It will be brief, but I’ll do that now:

  • The ending sequence of Ultima: Exodus was one of the most unexpected things I’ve seen in an NES game to date.  It was incredible.
  • Bases Loaded 3 surprised me when I finished the game in one sitting.  The Bases Loaded series traditionally requires a full season of play, but the third game has a unique rating system and you have to get a perfect score against the highest level team to secure the victory.  I was able to beat it in only three games.
  • I think my playthrough of Lunar Pool was the most impressive feat I accomplished.  You need to learn how to clear some specific stages well while also mastering the feel of the game to win all 60 levels in a row.
  • The Uncanny X-Men might be the worst NES I’ve played through so far.  Truly miserable.

That about wraps it up for this year’s reflections post.  While I’m not surprised that I’m still plugging away at this, six years of this is starting to feel weighty and significant.  Such a long way to go, but I’ve come so far too.  I look at my shelf of games daily seeing plenty of exciting games left to play and probably some more gems and surprises buried in there too.  It keeps me going, definitely.  Thanks for reading!

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