The Year with No New Games–Part 1: Mining the Backlog

by Kim Wong

In early December last year, I knocked over one of my piles of shame. Everybody has one, whether it’s made of foods to try, books to read, movies to watch, places to visit, or in my case, Xbox 360 games to play. (There’s a separate pile of Nintendo DS games, but that’s a story for another time.) What made my pile particularly shameful was the fact that I had bought each game with the full intention of playing them, but there they sat in their shrinkwrapped packaging, hidden away from the sun and sight. The nature of being a gamer, faced with great new games to play released every month, made the idea of balancing the new with the old impossible. It was at that point that I resolved that I would buy no new games until I had played to my satisfaction every game in that pile.

For context, here is the pile, broken down by category:

Shooters: Alan Wake, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 – Vietnam, Dead Space, Metro 2033, Singularity, Vanquish, Wolfenstein,

Role-playing games: Alpha Protocol, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Fable II, Lost Odyssey, Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness Episodes 1 and 2

Rhythm: The Beatles Rock Band, LEGO Rock Band, Rock Band 3

Platformers: Splosion Man, Super Meat Boy, Trials HD

Action/Adventure: Brutal Legend, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Conan, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom, Prince of Persia (2008), The Secret of Monkey Island

Open World: Bully, Grand Theft Auto IV, Red Dead Redemption, The Saboteur, Saints Row 2
Strategy: Halo Wars

Driving: Burnout Paradise

As always, classification can be a tricky proposition. The heart of the matter was that there were thirty-six games in total, each a good game in its own way, unplayed and shoved further down the pile each time I get a new game.

My original was ambitious. I had aimed to complete at least one retail and one downloadable game a month, which would have cleared most of the backlog. Here’s the original plan:

January 2011: Vanquish, Super Meat Boy, Battlefield: Bad Company 2-Vietnam
February: Alan Wake, Splosion Man, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
March: Dead Space, Halo Wars, Wolfenstein
April: Singularity, Conan
May: Metro 2033, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
June: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, LEGO Rock Band, The Beatles Rock Band
July: Fable II, Penny Arcade Adventures 1 and 2
August: Prince of Persia, Alpha Protocol
September: Mass Effect, Modern Warfare 2 (Veteran difficulty)
October: Saints Row 2, Call of Duty 4 (Veteran difficulty)
November: Bully: Scholarship Edition, The Secret of Monkey Island
December: Grand Theft Auto IV, Trials HD

While drafting this schedule, I clearly neglected a couple of essential factors, like work, family, and sleep. Here are the games from this I’ve completed thus far: Vanquish, Battlefield: Bad Company 2-Vietnam.

The aim of this column is to explore what happened to derail my quest so badly, some of the lessons I’ve learned about being a full time dad and part time gamer, the gaming communities I’ve encountered, and how I can salvage the rest of this year to complete some more games.

Please Welcome Kim Wong to Co-Op Critics!

With our second podcast segment in the can, we are now finally starting to generate some content for our little corner of the universe here at the Co-Op Critics blog.  Our good friend Kim Wong is going to be writing some articles and reviews with Dan and I on the blog here, and he’s got a great series of articles to kick things off.  Stay tuned later this week for Kim’s series on his decision to attack his pile of shame and buy no new games in 2011.


SI #329–Co-Op Critics: Mass Effect 1&2 Show Notes

Hi All,

We’ve posted the latest episode of Co-Op Critics, which focuses on one of our favortie series of all time, Mass Effect. We also have a bunch of links for you to check out as you listen to the episode:

Mass Effect 1 Trailer

Brian’s Interview with Mass Effect writer Drew Kapyshyn (scroll down to the bottom of the page)

Brian’s Inter view with Mass Effect 2 writer Mac Walters & artist Omar Francia on the ME: Redemption comic:

Mass Effect 2 Trailer:

Mass Effect 3 Trailer:

For more on the Mass Effect series, head over to


SI #318–Co-Op Critics: Bulletstorm Show Notes

We wanted to repost the show notes from our first segment on Bulletstorm, just in case anyone didn’t cath them over at  Without furhter ado:

The Bulletstorm launch trailer:

A video showcasing Bulletstorm’s skill-based gameplay:

An interview that Brian did with Rick Remender, who wrote the story for the game:

Fore more info on Bulletstorm, you can head to the game’s official site

Enjoy!–Brian and Dan


So, here we are–an official Co-Op Critics blog. Dan and I plan on doing plenty more segments for the Secret Identity Podcast in the future, but also wanted a place to put up reviews and discussions that might not make it into the show.  The philosophy behind Co-Op Critics is simple–all of our reviews and game discussons will feature at least two points of view.  We’ll also feature some articles that take a look at our own gaming habits, how we play. why we play, and so on. These article won’t necessarily have two points of view, but they certainly could.

We have some friends that will be contributing from time to time, especially to the site here. There’s a great series of articles coming up from a good buddy of ours in the next month or so, so stay tuned.

Upcoming segments that we’re already planning are a “Mass Effect” vs. “Mass Effect 2” discussion, and a segment on the just-released Nintendo 3DS.

Thanks for checking us out, and free to send suggestions for future segments to