Aside from the occasional downloadable surprise, the month of January is a game release wasteland. The next big multiplatform retail release is Final Fantasy XIII-2 on the 31st of the month, and even then, it's a stretch to assume anyone but a handful of masochists (myself included) would care about that at all. So what do we do with at least three solid weeks of game industry silence? Hit the backlog of course!
It seems everyone I know has at least one game collecting dust on their shelf, or one classic game they never had a chance to play. For myself it's more like a mountain of games, to be honest. So let's all attack our backlogs in January! Below are just a few ideas for what you should play, and if you already have a game begging for your time this month, let us know about it in the comments section below.
Finish a game from 2011
A ton of great games came out in 2011. I completed more games than any previous year and I couldn't get to them all. That hasn't stopped me this month, though. With Shadows of the Damned and Catherine already scratched off my list (and both excellent games–Catherine ended up in my 2011 top 10), I've moved on to Deus Ex: Human Revolution, with plans to play Dark Souls after that. So join me in extending 2011 just a bit longer. For a great way to see what you missed, check out GameZone's various game of the year features.
Finish a game from 2010
Sometimes things happen–life gets in the way, time gets tight, and suddenly you have a game that's well over a year old and you never even opened it. Maybe you played that first hour and just never turned it back on. For me, I've never felt sillier for spending $60 on a game than with Alan Wake. I played an hour, loved it, and wanted to play more…but it just never happened. Now there's a layer of dust thicker than the actual game disc and no better time than the present to finally finish it. Just in time for the XBLA pseudo-sequel, no less.
Play an HD remake
The HD remake fad seemed destined to overload us with cheap cash-in games, but so far the results have leaned towards tasteful and worthwhile. Occasional snafu aside, it seems HD remakes are a great way to experience games you've missed or just games you'd like to go back to. What better time to return to some nostalgic classics than a dead month of game releases? Your choices are better than ever: Metal Gear Solid, Ico/Shadow of the Colossus, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Resident Evil 4, Halo, and Guardian Heroes are just a handful of games re-released just last year.
Scoop up some cheap iOS games
The endless stream of “new hotness” iOS games have dropped to a trickle lately, but that doesn't mean you should skip the older games of everyone's favorite phone/MP3 player/tablet. Good titles don't come any cheaper, and there are even some meaty titles that are more than a pleasant distraction. My recommendations? Delve into Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor, or one of the old school remakes like Another World. Or, you could just check out GameZone's recommendations for the best iOS games in 2011.
Support indie games!
There's something rewarding about supporting the efforts of small, independent developers. That, and they tend to make some pretty inexpensive and creative titles. We've had some great indie titles pop up recently, like The Binding of Isaac, VVVVVV on 3DS, anything from GameZone's top 10 indie games, or even the top 10 Xbox Indie games in 2011. Whatever your poison, it's good to know that you can fill the quiet months by aiding the hopes and dreams of ambitious indie devs.
Play a good old game
More of a PC guy or gal? How about one of the many classic games repackaged by Good Old Games? This site specializes in digitally repackaging older games to run on modern systems and install effortlessly. They even throw in a few goodies like PDF files of the original manuals and box art. This is a nearly endless selection, so if you do dive in, just make sure you remember to get back out before 2012's major releases start rolling in.
So there are a few suggestions if you needed them. If you already have a backlog begging for your attention, what are you waiting for? Get to it! But first, share your pile of shame (and your plan of attack) in the comments section below.