I don't subscribe to New Year's resolutions, because they've never been effective for me. As someone who spends regular hours in the gym, I'm familiar enough with the new-year-rush, just as I'm familiar with the new-years-scoffing-at-the-new-years-rush. The folks doing the scoffing are *hopefully* people, like me, who at some point made going to the gym a full-fledged habit in their lives, and not just assholes who role in once a month. I go to the gym because it's something that I do. I used to avoid it, then later, looked forward to it. Now it really is just one of the few ways I spend my time; I get a very subdued satisfaction from it. Not a "wooo im being healthy and shit" feel-good moment, but a simpler and less pretentious high. All this to say that I believe there are absolutely positive changes folks can make in the new year, going to the gym more often being a classic example with which I am familiar. But I didn't start going to the gym because it was new year, I started because I didn't like how I looked and didn't like how many other people were stronger than me.
Working out, particularly weight-lifting, has taught me that we really can change things about ourselves given the right circumstances and sheer will power. Maybe not the core things, like being a generally shitty person or a kleptomaniac or something like that, but we can play around the edges. Sometimes, rarely, but sometimes, we can change our habits simply by making the decision to.
But christ is it hard. And that's why I at least can't make fun of the guy in the gym whose visits' periodicity decreases from 2 January onward. You might as well try, because even though chances are slim that whatever habit you're trying to form will stick, there's still a chance, and you're certainly not losing anything by spending a couple hours on the treadmill giving it a shot, wheezing, and looking like hell. If the start of a new calendar year gives you an excuse to role the dice on quitting smoking, or posting more on the blog, then it's as good a reason as any.
Wait what games did I like this year? Greg L. had one game, I have a few quick hits for you:
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
Not done this one yet, but it really is the most polished game I've played in quite sometime. Much of the game play is straight out of the original, but the environment is neat and pretty, the mechanics tidy, and the puzzles fall right in that sweet spot (maybe just my sweet spot) of being easy enough not to slow me down but difficult enough that you get that single second of satisfaction from figuring out how to light the cob-webs on fire, or get the crystal out of the frozen refrigerator. LM: DM really demonstrates that yes, Nintendo first party games really are all we can expect me to play on my 3DS.
Mega Man 2
I was telling Yourself I should get some badge for beating this game for the first time, welcoming me into the Classic Gamers Club for the Insecure and the Neck-bearded. Tons of fun, and really distilled for me (see LM:DM above) why a little dollop of difficulty can in fact sometimes make a game better, despite my inclinations. Plus, man is the music good. You really don't hear catchy melodies like some of the best in MM2 in games anymore; we've moved towards music that emphasizes the atmospherics of the game more than shooting for good music in and of itself. And I'm not even a particularly big fan of chip-tunes.
Mighty Switch Force
I really didn't know what to expect from this game going in, but I was pleasantly surprised. Like MM2, it's challenging without being infuriating, taking a simple mechanic to its absolute gameplay limits. With a button press you make blocks around the stage become insubstantial while instantaneously other nega-blocks (get the reference??) become safe for landing. You play a curvacious-toon she-cop hunting curvacious-toon, scantly-clad she-lawbreakers, maneuvering around the stage with timed jumps combined with timed block switches. The game does a good job of making the puzzles a good mix of thinking and....well doing, as often to successfully navigate the player must plan well in advance but also be react quickly to an unaccounted for twist. This game is cheap and absolutely worth the money. Starting the second shortly.
Yourself did a very good (he pays me to compliment him on the blog) write-up of this one closer to its release, but I'm not one to play a game near its release and I am one to write about games that have been much-discussed. I didn't get the whole point Yourself was trying to make about killing, in the game, being super-meaningful or whatever hippy bullshit he was trying to pull. What I can say is that it was a super-well done stealth game in an interesting if not cohesive (wait whats the deal with the cult and the powers and how's it tie in with every other damn thing?) world. Most of the missions, which take place episodically, were unique jaunts, and the paths to murder varied. I might actually play this one again, which I think speaks to how successfully they pull off the role playing aspects...I went all stealth the first time, I wouldn't mind experimenting more with the weapons in game.
Final Fantasy VII
Yep this is on this list. I've played a lot of JRPGs in my day, but somehow managed to avoid one of the "greats" for this long. I honestly think if I had played it at age 13, it would no question be my favorite game of all time, despite my desire to disassociate myself with anything as wildly popular as FF7. There's so much to love here and no one needs me to go through it, especially no one reading this blog. But 16 years post-release there was enough about the controls, finding my way through prerendered mazes, and back-tracking to keep it from being one of the most epic and fulfilling gaming experiences of my life. I guess it's no surprise looking at the list above, but it had been a while since FF7 since I finished a game and truly missed it with all said and done. Still though, I'm not spending hours breeding chocobos. Ain't nobody got time for that.