Of 2023: The Most Played, Listened, and Seen

It turns out that spending the retrospective year-end season by traveling around absurdly congested foreign countries is a really good way to make none of it feel like it matters. Even back in the Fall I was wondering what I’d have to say about my year in gaming before our trip around South Korea and Japan completely obliterated my memory. But I’m glad I stuck with it and started this post because that very act has helped rekindle my memories of 2023 and get me back in that year-end recap spirit.

It’s funny, I keep lists of what I’ve played and listened to each year but I never look back on these things and go “ah yes, now I see it… [Insert Revelation Here]”. Maybe the only thing I can say after all these years is that even I can’t predict what I’ll enjoy, or be turned off by, or re-discover and get back into. I live life how I listen to music, by hitting Play All: Random and letting happenstance bring new things to my attention or unexpectedly reignite an old passion.

Maybe that is my revelation because looking back at 2023 I can only say that it was another year of meandering through games from modern consoles, to PC, to retro emulation stuff. Let’s take a look at the featured categories:

β€’ My Most Played Games β€’

I don’t know that I’ve got much to say about the hour counts this year except to note some real retro contenders creeping up the chart. In years past my lists have featured older games but nothing quite as old-old as 2005’s Castlevania: Curse of Darkness here. Number 11 on this list would be the combined 10+ hours that I put into the original SSX trilogy with Military Madness on TurboGrafx-16 not too far behind.

I think as I move through newer (still old) consoles with longer and more intricate experiences we’ll see more of them taking up slots on the list for 2024. I know I’ve already put more than 20 hours into Drakan: The Ancients’ Gates on PlayStation 2 and if I can make it through a particularly nasty level it’ll probably be closer to a 40-hour playthrough. Who knows what other random old adventure will pop up after that!

β€’ My Top 9 of Instagram β€’

My interest and energy for Instagram (and social media at large) continued its downward trend in 2023 and the Likes that my posts received were clearly indicative of it. Nevertheless, it was still a good visual log of the things that I saw, shared, discovered, and did throughout the year.

Looking back on the year also reminded me that one of my goals for Instagram was to capture and show the games and gaming ephemera that I still have. Not for popularity or even discourse, just to get it out there so someone can see it. I think I’d like to get back on that in 2024 but we’ll see. Follow along and hold me accountable, yeah?

β€’ My Most Listened Albums β€’

While Castlevania, Mega Man, and Final Fantasy were ever-present once again, I didn’t expect to see some of these other albums join the hallowed list for 2023. 404 GAME RE:SET jumped up there incredibly quickly given that I had just discovered it in December! It does have a lot of good, hard remixes of Sega, Namco, and Taito melodies though and quite a few tracks to hear. It’s a shame the game never got translated and was shut down after just barely a year in operation.

Boppin’ isn’t as big of a surprise as I recorded the soundtrack myself (naturally requiring loads of listens) but I didn’t think it’d rate even a No.10 spot. It hasn’t popped up in a while so I was happy to be reminded of it here. Likewise, I didn’t expect Philosoma and Ace Combat 2 to rank so high but apparently I had them on loop more than once throughout the year. 

Is this really the first time that Fortnite made the list? After the last few years of playing a lot of the game with my nephew I kinda got into its soundtrack as new songs were added each season. I’d compiled all my favorites into an album in 2022 but apparently I didn’t listen to it on repeat until 2023. As you might expect after six years, there’s a lot of music in there and I was happy to discover plenty of punchy jams and chill lo-fi stuff.

Welp, nothing major to note this year except that I really need to break up that Castlevania box set into albums for after each game. I can never tell which title in the series a song is from when they all show up as “Best Music Collections BOX”. The idea of an 18-disc box set is great as an on-the-shelf showpiece until you just want to hear one specific game. Game Music Organization, it’s a project I’ve been working on since 2017 and I guess it’ll just never end.

Of 2023
The Platform Report
The Most Played, Listened, and Seen
The Retro Report

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