Next to last post until this list is wrapped up. Well, at least until I get to the spinoff lists, but I’ll sit on that one for a while. As usual, get to the rest of the blog posts in the series by clicking the Top 300 Games tag. I should note that at this point in the list, it’s extremely difficult to differentiate between games and make up my mind about whether or not one of them should be ahead of another.
20: Thief 2: The Metal Age (PC) – Garrett, the ultimate gaming antihero, returns in this, the best sneak ‘em up of all time. Karras is a really creepy bad guy and on the way to the end you go through the most inspiring levels I’ve ever seen in a sneak ‘em up. Every single level is fantastic; the first warm-up mansion, the harbor, the bank, fleeing from your house, getting to know the mechanists and then the pagans, etc. It’s all set up so well.
19: Mega Man 3 (NES) – Among a lot of Mega Man fans, there’s a divide between those who regard MM3 as the best in the series and then you have those who give that honor to MM2. I’m one of the latter, but holy shit is MM3 close. I still remember firing it up for the first time and trying out Gemini Man because he seemed to be the coolest boss on the startup screen. Rush joined the gang and was a good addition. Facing the MM2 bosses was also an interesting curve ball.
18: Half-Life (PC) – Even though the first game is missing the gravity gun, the impact of playing it hit me more than playing the sequel. I still remember battling headcrabbed scientists, trying to get to the surface of the Black Mesa research center and then there are soldiers there and they … shoot at ME! It was such a cruel twist. People like to rag on the game for the Xen levels at the end, but I didn’t have any problems with them. The expansions are interesting too, especially Blue Shift. I’m still waiting for the mod called Black Mesa, which is a conversion of the entire Half-Life game to the Source engine used in Half-Life 2.
17: Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (PC) – When I first played this game, I thought it was much more mature than anything I’d ever played. I think I’ve played through it four or five times and I still love the narrative and detail, but most of all I love the perfect action. The TV shows you can catch throughout the game are complete genius. I thought I would be annoyed by the change in Max’s appearance since the first game, but it actually worked really well. The romance with Mona Sax was perfect and the environments, the city of New York, it’s still like one of the characters in the game. I’m dreading the release of Max Payne 3, because it seems the new developers have dropped all the good aspects of the first two games.
16: Mass Effect (Xbox 360) – I fairly recently replayed this one, because I had only played it once and I wanted a second character to import into Mass Effect 2, one that was the complete opposite of my first character. My first character was a male good guy who had a romantic relationship with the soldier Ashley Williams. I saved the council at the end because I’m such a philanthropist. My second character was a female, evil, lesbian asshole who didn’t give a shit about the council and also saved that almost extinct murderous insect race. I figured that I will play through ME2 at least twice, so why not make it interesting? Mass Effect has its flaws, to be sure, but it’s the general impression that’s so lasting and thorough. Even though the battles can be a bit stilted, that’s easily overshadowed by the fantastic cinematic feel of the entire game. The inventory sucks? Fuck it, just sell everything. I love the whole story and the world just pulls you in. I also read the two books and they put some of the things in the game in wonderful perspective.
15: Final Fantasy VI Advance (Gameboy Advance) – This is a game that could just as easily be in the top three as in spot #15. One of the greatest RPGs ever and I’m actually glad that I didn’t get to play this one properly until I was a grown-up. I don’t think I would’ve appreciated it as much in my early teens. Kefka is the most evil bad guy ever and the whole ensemble of heroes is fleshed out A LOT. The storytelling in this game pulls no punches even though it’s just a 16 bit game. You care about those small sprites. I’ve been thinking about who are my favorites, but the longer I got into the game, the more I got to know each character and the harder it was to pick a favorite. Still, Celes and Locke has a special place in my heart. And Terra of course… and Cyan! See, it’s impossible to pick just one or two! And we can’t mention this game without bringing up Nobuo Uematsu’s excellent music. Quite possibly the best game soundtrack ever in my opinion.
14: Fallout 3 (Xbox 360) – The expectations I had for this game were so high, I don’t think I’d ever had them that high for anything. Apart from a few small details, this game lived up to them and was a slam dunk and a home run at the same time. What I missed the most was the witty writing from the first two games. The action was awesome, the blend between turn-based and real-time battles was perfect, atmosphere and settings were great, and the list goes on. At this time I haven’t even touched the five DLC episodes, but that’s coming and with them, this one might rise.
13: Duke Nukem 3D (PC) – I think you could say pretty safely that this game is what got me so heavily into the FPS genre and it also got me to appreciate the fun of multiplayer. You see, when a bunch of other people were praising Goldeneye for the Nintendo 64, saying how awesome it was in slow four player split screen multiplayer with worthless controls and boring, bland settings, I was playing with eight others, each of us on our own screen, killing each other in colorful and detailed settings at a fast pace and with incredibly fun weapons. This game had it all and I replayed the single player part of the game last year on XBLA for the 360. With the news that Duke is finally coming back, I don’t really care how good or bad that game is. This one is the grandfather of FPS games for me and it still holds up today.
12: Counter-Strike (PC) – I could have included this with the Half-Life spot, but I’ve spent so much time playing this that I view it as an entirely separate experience. Counter-Strike. CS. I guess I’m referring to the old-school version here and not the one that was released along with Half-Life 2, with the upgraded Source engine. At first when I started playing this I didn’t really like the constant interruptions of new rounds and I didn’t like that I could only carry one rifle and one pistol. That you ran faster when holding the knife was so ridiculous that I didn’t even know where to begin. But then I started liking it and I got really good at it. I didn’t play with a clan or anything like that, but I played consistently with the same people at a few servers, so we got to know each other pretty well and could play together as a team. I was pretty good with most weapons, so it wasn’t like I went AWP sniper rifle all the time, although that was pretty fun. I liked to vary my play style to keep the opponents on their toes. My favorite map was cs_office because I always dominated that one by listening to the enemies while sneaking around the corridors.
11: Quake 2 (PC) – Quake 2 is the game I was probably the best at at one point. I knew for a fact that I was among the top 30 in Sweden when it came to free for all deathmatch. Several different server stats made that a sure thing. I was simply good at the game and even though I didn’t work on becoming better, the insane amounts of time I spent on the game probably helped make me even better. When we played local multiplayer I could take on everyone else at the LAN, 8-10 people, in CTF and still come out on top. A friend of mine was the same when it came to StarCraft, but Quake 2 was MY game. Online, I liked to play the regular DM maps, but there was a special server that ran only one map over and over. It was a secret map in the single player part of the game and it was called Space. What made this map special was that the gravity was very low, so when you jumped, you flew across the big rooms and this made it a wonderful place to use the railgun, my favorite weapon in the game. I had a lot of fun on that server.
The next post will have the final top ten. After that I’ll get it up as a separate part of the blog and update it with a few games I’ve played since I started making the list.
Climbing closer to the top of the list, with this one we get down to 31, leaving us with the last tenth. No more chitchat. Check out the older posts in the blog series by clicking the Top 300 Games tag.
40: Halo 3 ODST (Xbox 360) – Bungie took the narrative of the Halo series to new and exciting places with ODST, which worked really well considering the group we followed instead of just Master Chief or the Arbiter. I loved the moody setting of ODST and it was, as is usually the case with Halo games, great fun to play in co-op. The casting of the voice actors was perfect and having a bunch of Serenity actors was a stroke of genius. The soundtrack also featured different music compared to the “regular” Halo games and that was also spot on. The downside was that it was pretty short and you couldn’t play Firefight online through matchmaking. I didn’t really play it that much locally anyway, but it was a nice addition.
39: Blade Runner (PC) – Voxels again! Well, some of it. Apparently the characters were made with voxels so they could be more detailed, or something like that. At the time of its release, it looked awesome and I think I finished it three or four times. You get different endings depending on what decisions you make and what people you talk to. This whole game is all about powerful narrative and even though you should have Blade Runner the movie in your repertoire – and that helps a lot to understand the game – it’s not needed to fully get the game. What really got to me about the game back when I first played it was also that it’s a point and click adventure, but not really. You don’t get a thousand weird inventory items and there are a bunch of other unconventional things about it, but it’s still a point and click affair. Masterfully done too, I might add.
38: Life Force (NES) – This is shoot ‘em up at its best in my opinion. The controls are perfect, the music is perfect, the feel of the game is perfect and the length of the game is just right. Add the Konami code to the mix and you have 8 bit perfection as far as spaceships go. There’s not really a lot more to say here.
37: Fallout (PC) – I remember getting the Swedish PC Gamer magazine one day and on the demo disc that came with every issue, there was a preview copy of Fallout. It was a small town that wasn’t included in the full game and you basically went in there guns blazing. I’ve shot countless guys with burst mode in the Fallout games, but I still remember that first time I shot a leather-clad punk with the SMG and he staggered for a bit while falling to pieces. It blew me away and, although I had already fallen in love with the setting and atmosphere, I was completely floored by that display of balls to the wall violence. The game may look dated today, but I still think it holds up today. The story kept you on your toes throughout the entire game and there are few games that pull off the moral gray areas of all the actors and factions.
36: Mega Man X (SNES) – The only Mega Man game I’ve really played on the SNES. I tried X3, but that felt way too muddled with peripheral stuff which took away from the core gameplay. That doesn’t hold true for X1 though, because Capcom hit the nail on the head with that one. It’s a very good balance of story, bosses, skill development and music. You can play the game from beginning to end and still miss a huge amount of extra stuff that you can get if you revisit the levels at different times. I kind of miss Dr. Wily as the villain, because Sigma feels a bit too serious for a Mega Man game.
35: Dead Space (Xbox 360) – Dead Space is the reason I got myself a surround sound system and that game alone was worth paying for it. The sound plays such a big part in this horror game and the developers have created a very living and believable world. When I played the game, I also watched the tie-in animated movie, which only built on the experience. The game stands on its own more than well enough though, so don’t think that it’s needed to watch that movie. Whenever I think of Dead Space there’s one word that pops up in my head more than any other and that word is “visceral”. You FEEL this game when you play it. You are practically right there in that world and even though most of the scares are of the cheap “BOO!” variety, the main scare factor of the game is the general atmosphere and creepy feeling of solitude.
34: Halo: Combat Evolved (Xbox) – I didn’t have an Xbox back when this was released and at the time I was playing what I considered to be better games on the PC. You CAN’T play an FPS with a console controller, I said. Then when the PC port was released a few years later, it was fun and all, but I still didn’t see what was so groundbreaking. After that I’ve played through it again on my Xbox 360 (backwards compatibility for the win) and that time something happened. I saw how this game made it possible to play FPS games on consoles, thanks to its perfect controls. It just worked. I also started paying attention to the story, something I hadn’t done when I played the PC version, and even though it’s cliche and all, it really got me hooked.
33: Liero (PC) – The original Worms got some Finnish (I think) guy thinking “wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to play this in real-time instead of waiting your turn?” and Liero was the result. And it was awesome. My friends and I played this A LOT, sitting two people in front of one computer, because network multiplayer wasn’t possible. We came up with a version that we called Action Liero, based on the Action mods for a few FPS games. We took down the health of the worms to 10% and severely restricted the weapons. We played it so much that we were able to fly across the screen at incredible speeds and still hit our targets the majority of the time. It was like a ballet of tiny worm violence.
32: Max Payne (PC) – Yeah, yeah, he looks constantly constipated. I know. That still doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s one of the most action-packed games ever. The comic book narrative combined with the dark voice-overs are perfect and James McCaffrey has the perfect voice. Why he wasn’t cast in the movie instead of Marky Mark Wahlberg is a complete joke. There still isn’t a game series that’s done the bullet time effect in a better way.
31: Rainbow Six Vegas (Xbox 360) – This game is some of the most fun I’ve had and the atmosphere is everywhere in this one too, both when you play solo or cooperatively. Perfect controls for a tactical shooter and even though it would be nice to have the skill point system from the sequel, I like this game more because of the environments and the story. I can’t wait for the next part in the franchise.
Well, that’s it for this post. As usual, comments are appreciated.
Not in a writing mood, but might as well push through it and get down to 61 on the list. I’ve had a few chaotic weeks, emotionally, but it’s best to push that aside and try to accomplish something, even if that’s just a small thing such as writing a nostalgia-filled list. Let’s go!
70: Portal (PC) – When this game came out I didn’t fall for it instantly. I had to play it through a second time to really appreciate all the good things it offers. It was revolutionary and re-invented how you look at 3D gaming and it was a real challenge to think your way through all the puzzles. GLaDOS is quite possibly the funniest antagonist ever. The worst thing about this game is that the net got over saturated with “The cake is a lie!” jokes that ARE NOT FUCKING FUNNY! Pretty much everything else about it is genius. It’s just a pity that it’s a bit too short.
69: Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (Nintendo DS) – My favorite of the Castlevania games. Feels like there isn’t much more to say about it, but I try to compare it to all of the other games, both the ones that came before it and the ones that came after. The conclusion I come to, for me, is that this got the concept perfected while still adding fresh things. I think they went too far with how Portrait of Ruin took the concept to another place in the next game and from what I’ve played of Order of Ecclesia, I don’t like that one at all, even though the higher difficulty is interesting. Dawn of Sorrow has the perfect blend of difficulty, hammy story, interesting weapons and abilities while also introducing the touch screen function in a good way for the boss fights.
68: Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (PC) – Fantastic sneaking action here. As far as pre-Conviction Splinter Cell games go, this is the one you want. It’s beautiful, you get a good set of moves, the missions are interesting and the story is kept engaging. All the while the atmosphere stays at its peak throughout the whole game.
67: MechWarrior 4: Vengeance (PC) – Good shit, although the mech building stuff was a bit too simplified for my taste. Can be downloaded for free these days, I think. The story was fairly interesting and a bit more personally engaging than the rest of the games, but as a BattleTech nut, I don’t need a basic “they killed my family, now I want revenge” story. I understand that people who don’t know BattleTech inside and out would like that kind of story better, to motivate them to play a bit more, but I don’t need it.
66: FreeSpace 2 (PC) – The most epic space action flight sim ever created. This game has so much atmosphere and such perfect flight sim controls that beyond ridiculous. It’s too bad that there has never been a sequel to it, because the story was really interesting too. The music and sound design is still insanely good and would definitely hold up today.
65: Peggle (Xbox 360) – Second most addictive puzzle game I’ve ever played. You just can’t stop playing Peggle once you start. You just need to get through all of the puzzles and clear all the challenges. Trying to figure out what character is the best for each puzzle is a nice little facet, but mostly it’s just about making the perfect plays.
64: Meteos (Nintendo DS) – Most addictive handheld puzzle game I’ve ever played. This was the perfect game for me to buy for my DS early on, because it showed how uniquely you could use touch controls compared to the classic controller input of a D-pad and buttons. Even today with all the smartphones, you still can’t get as good responsiveness with your finger on an iPhone compared to this. It becomes a frenzy and you try to get all the pieces up in the air as more gets dumped on you.
63: Shadow Complex (Xbox 360) – Metroidvania in high definition. Shadow Complex intrigued me early on and when I found out that two books were being written to support and flesh out the story in conjunction with the game, I got even more excited. It has excellent gameplay and it’s a giant love letter to all the other Metroidvania games. If I have to say anything outright bad about it, the game is a bit short, but at least it’s short and sweet. The books by Orson Scott Card are good too.
62: Moonstone (Amiga 500) – Quite possibly the bloodiest game on the Amiga 500. This was so much fun to play along with three friends, each of you getting a knight that is really bad-ass. I see it as the spiritual predecessor to Castle Crashers, but this game has no humor whatsoever. All the enemies are really scary in their own right and you fear some of them a lot. The multiplayer dynamic makes the competition pretty exciting. The others know if you find something important and then they can go after you. Then it’s on and only a duel will settle it.
61: Blackhawk (SNES) – Also known as Blackthorne. Blizzard knows how to make solid, storydriven platform action and this grim tale just teems atmosphere. There is a nice progression of skill in how your gun gets upgraded every few levels and the puzzles forces you to play patiently and methodically, much like Flashback which is higher up on the list. Very engaging game.
After the next post, there will just be 50 games left. Insane numbers if you think about it, but there are a bunch of great games out there and I’ve missed a bunch of them too.
It’s getting more and more interesting for every post that I get closer to the number one spot. Moving along down to spot 71 today and some really fun games are coming up. Check out this tag for the all the posts about the list, as usual.
80: Metroid Fusion (Gameboy Advance) – Samus Aran is a great heroine and I actually didn’t like this game that much at first. The changes to the classic Metroid concept, the fact that there were no metroids, it was all a bit hard to accept. About a fifth into the game, though, it became a lot of fun and the weird looking suit that Samus was wearing didn’t look so weird anymore. Her voicing her thoughts got interesting after a while too and all in all, I’m amazed that they managed to pack all that into a small GBA game. You went through the game being really scared of the evil Samus clone that was totally badass.
79: Gears of War 2 (Xbox 360) – Big step up from the first game in pretty much every aspect. Better graphics, better weapons, better control, better action, better narrative, better multiplayer, and so on. Gears is still very gray and brown, which is a bit of a drag, but the action is extremely solid and it’s a lot of fun as a co-op experience. Both the story and the Horde mode are good fun to play together with a friend and the goals you got for achievements made for some extra fun.
78: Mega Man 4 (NES) – The fourth Mega Man game was a clear step down from the previous game in the series, but it still had incredibly solid action, control and music, staples for the Mega Man games. Pharoah Man is the robot master I remember the most from that one, especially because of how his weapon killed off the last boss.
77: Mirror’s Edge (Xbox 360) – Before this game got released I watched the trailer over and over and I fell in love completely with the music and the aesthetic. I obviously didn’t know how the game would feel, so that was still a big question mark, but from the moment I finished watching that trailer, I knew I would love this game and I did. The feel of the free running is almost perfect and the way you navigate the levels is so intuitive.
76: Doom 2 (PC) – I never actually played the first Doom. I know, I know… but I played the second one a whole lot and we had a lot of fun with this one in multiplayer, especially with the version we played that we got from my friend’s big brother. He had changed the sounds of the game into a bunch of randomness with him and his friends. Random sounds aside, Doom 2 is a a scary game and it was extra scary back in the day.
75: International Karate + / IK+ (Amiga 500) – This game was pure cool back when we used to play it. The coolest thing you could pull off was the double kick to knock down both of the opponents. You, your friend, a TAC-2 joystick each and then just go to town on each other (and the CPU opponent). The bonus games between the matches were a lot of fun too, especially the weird one where bouncing balls and heads came at you.
74: Baldur’s Gate (PC) – I have a confession to make. I never actually finished the first Baldur’s Gate. I think I got about two thirds through before I stopped playing. That’s not a slight on the game, though, that’s just me being stupid. It’s a very good game and I loved the lush forests when I played it. My biggest gripe was that it was so very low-level. You never really built your character into something really interesting. Still, this set the standard for high fantasy games and still holds up today.
73: Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (Gameboy Advance) – The best Castlevania game on the GBA and it took the series to a new level. Soma Cruz is a weird name for a hero, but it is what it is and he is okay as the protagonist. Not much to say, really, it’s more Metroidvania that’s incredibly polished.
72: N+ (Xbox 360) – There is an achievement in this game that you get when you die a thousand times. You will die a thousand times on the way to finishing all the levels. It is so minimalistic yet still so fun because of the perfect platforming. It has a fun co-op component to it too and a huge amount of challenging levels.
71: Resident Evil 2 (GameCube) – The Resident Evil series is, on the whole, one of my favorite game universes. I’ve played a lot of the games and I’ve also read a bunch of the books. Zombies are quite simply a very effective horror to build stories around and Resident Evil took this one step further with all of the other horrors that the Umbrella Corporation unleashed upon the world. The second chapter in the game series is a memorable one and I really liked going through the game with both Leon and Claire. The police station was a great choice of location for this second game and the lickers gave me a lot of scares.
I feel like writing “some really fun games here” but that’s been true for pretty much every post and it only gets more and more fun, at least for me, the further I get into this list. Thoughts?
Alright, let’s get to it. This was the original goal of the list, for me to showcase my 100 favorite games. We’re here now, so let’s keep going.
100: Heavy Gear (PC) – Activision lost the MechWarrior licence and quickly secured the next best thing as far as North American mech universes go. Heavy Gear was fairly established, so they used an upgraded version of the engine that they used for MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries and created this game. I love the MechWarrior games, but this one isn’t far behind. The gears are more mobile than mechs, so the action was a little bit faster, which was a nice change of pace.
99: Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (PC) – The Sam Fisher Saga, part two. The second game was essentially more of the same as the first with just some graphical upgrades. Sadly, what has been the most touted component of Pandora Tomorrow, the creative multiplayer mode, was something that I never even touched. I really wish I did, especially now that I’ve had some fun with the multiplayer in Splinter Cell Conviction.
98: Shogo: Mobile Armor Division (PC) – Here’s a game that’s gotten way too little fanfare through the years. Monolith made this game and part of it is just bland corridor shooting, but then you also have the giant mech action in the vein of Japanese anime like Gundam or Evangelion. Spice the whole thing up with incredibly hammy characterization and voice acting and it’s a smash hit in my mind. Some of the weapons in this game took shooting to a new level, mainly because Monolith could go over the top like crazy with the mech action.
97: Action Quake 2 (PC) – Time for another mod on the list. This time it’s a mod for Quake 2 that limits the weapons you can carry and also how much damage you can take. If you get hit you need to bandage the wound if you don’t want to bleed out and die. We used to play this a bunch on some LANs and it was a lot of fun. Every map only had one of each special weapon and one of each equipment, which made for some interesting strategies. The flak vest along with the assault rifle was a nice combo, but so was the slippers and the sawed-off shotgun. The slippers removed any sound you made when walking, so they were perfect for you to run around with, sticking the most powerful short range weapon in the game up someone’s ass.
96: Guitar Hero 2 (Xbox 360) – Guitar Hero 2 has had the following effect on the songs I’ve tried to grind to perfection: Every time I hear them, I visualize the notes coming at me on the screen. This happens every single time I hear Sweet Child of Mine by Guns ‘n’ Roses, etc, etc. I don’t have the talent to take on all of the songs on expert difficulty immediately, but after I’ve had the chance to play them on hard first – for a few weeks – then I can give them a try on expert. Incredibly fun game and for me, this was what started the whole music game craze.
95: Outcast (PC) – Cutter Slade. Now there’s a name, a masculine hero’s name. This game is probably the best game ever that’s the least played. It is action adventure perfection and it still holds up today, almost 11 years after its release. It is another game that is based on voxel graphics, which gave it rolling hills and huge environments for you to walk around in. It had an alien race that was in awe of you and considered you to be a god, which made for some hilarious interaction. But in the end, this is simply an incredibly solid game that should be played by more people.
94: F.E.A.R. (PC) – More Monolith. This game has the most ridiculous acronym in its title. FEAR apparently stands for First Encounter Assault Recon. Now, this may just be my ignorance, but I was under the impression that assault and recon are two vastly different combat types. One is light and designed for swift movement with some stealth purposes, while the other is Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie Commando. Regardless, this game has some of the tightest action I’ve ever played and it’s really scary too. It kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire duration and I also wanted to know what happened with the storyline right up until the very end. That doesn’t happen often with shooters.
93: Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway (Xbox 360) – You might think that for this one I will say “Yet another WW2 shooter, you know the drill” but BiAHH has the best narrative I’ve experienced in any WW2 game and that’s by a damn mile. This game has an extremely engaging storyline and I haven’t even played the previous Brothers in Arms games. The action is interesting, since you need to utilize the rest of your squad to succeed in the game. The atmosphere and the environments are very nice and after you get into the story, you start being a bit more careful of how you order your squadmates around because you don’t want them to die because of your recklessness.
92: Double Dragon 2 (NES) – Co-op fun on the NES! I love how brutal this game was and its difficulty was just right to be challenging but not annoying. I used to “cheat” by starting a two player game and then killing my brother until all his lives were gone. What happened was that if I killed him so he lost a life, I gained that life, effectively doubling my lives as I went through the game alone. It was the poor man’s Konami code.
91: Braid (Xbox 360) – When I first started this game I just sat there watching the water color painting that was suddenly on my TV screen, listening to the wonderful string music that flowed out of the speakers. Easily one of the most beautiful games ever and it encourages players to be creative with game mechanics as the game moves forward. Storywise it is an engaging tale that is told through books between the levels and when you get to the end it is all put on edge and you start reconsidering the whole experience. Simply sublime game design and I look forward to the next game by Jonathan Blow.
So that’s the first batch of ten out of the top 100. Thoughts? I actually had a thought. I should count how many games are from each platform when I’m done with the entire list. I haven’t consciously tried to limit myself to balance stuff out or anything.