A Week in the Life of a 40-Year-Old Gamer: February 12–18

PURCHASES:

  1. Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition (3DS): $19.99
  2. Street Fighter V (PS4): $0 (retail $59.99, received as gift)
  3. Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright (3DS): $0 (retail $39.99, used GameStop store credit)

YTD TOTAL: $265.11

PLAYTIME:

  1. Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition (3DS): 4h 47m
  2. Bravely Default (3DS): 2h 5m
  3. Bayonetta (WiiU): 1h 23m
  4. 3D Sonic the Hedgehog (3DS): 1h 20m
  5. Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright (3DS): 1h 1m
  6. Super Mario 3D World (WiiU): 43m
  7. Street Fighter V (PS4): 42m
  8. Super Smash Bros. (3DS): 33m
  9. Mario Kart 7 (3DS): 21m
  10. Mario Kart 8 (WiiU): 21m
  11. 3D Streets of Rage 2 (3DS): 17m
  12. Boxboy! (3DS): 7m
  13. iSlash Heroes (iOS): 6m

THOUGHTS:

In anticipation of the release of of Street Fighter V on PS4, I picked up Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition last weekend, a 3DS launch title. It earned an 85 score on Metacritic, and it has held up beautifully. It’s the real-deal: 35 characters are in the roster. The balancing is the same as in the arcade version, and clever touch-screen functionality gives you one-button access to every character’s super moves (a feature that can be toggled off for more serious players). Playing through a character’s story is the perfect length for my BART ride in the mornings. Every hero’s tale is fleshed out with a character rival bout, arcade-style bonus rounds, and anime cut-scene bookends. The single-player content in this 2011 release is significantly more robust than the solo material in Street Fighter V. It’s no slouch in the multiplayer department, either… Online matches are easy to connect to and run smoothly. The 3D effect is really elegant; it gives this version a unique feel. When characters are pulling off their super moves, the camera spins in interesting directions, maximizing the impact of every bone-shattering hit. If you carry your 3DS everywhere, this a great title to purchase digitally, so it’s always on-hand when you’re looking for a top-quality action fix.

I didn’t get a whole lot of time to devote to Street Fighter V, given limited access to the family TV (it’s spring break week for the Einhorn clan). But the 42 minutes I did get were great. This is the first time I’ve had a chance to play the game, so I was surprised by the big jump in visual fidelity. Videos had always given me the impression that this game would look a whole lot like Street Fighter IV, but it’s actually a dramatic step up from that. This game will be taking up a good window of my time next week, and I will post more about it then.

Dropping few hours into the excellent Bayonetta (WiiU) was inspired by the time I put into playing as the character in Super Smash Bros (3DS). In the twelve years that I’ve worked at SEGA, Bayonetta is still my favorite of the games our company has published. It’s mechanically perfect. The “witch-time” effect that slows down time when you dodge an attack adds a tremendous level of depth to the gameplay. As you string together an intricate combo, the possibility of earning a few seconds of precious witch-time always weighs in the back of your mind. Enemy designs are gorgeous, character animations seem to have sprung from one of John Woo’s wet dreams, and bosses are ornate, screen-filling titans of terror.

Finally — finally! I managed to capture all six chaos emeralds in3D Sonic the Hedgehog (3DS), for the first time in my life. I did this by cheating, of course. Save states makes it pretty easy. And I haven’t finished the whole game yet, so I haven’t seen the game’s real ending. But if feels so good to finally accomplish something I’ve been trying to do for nearly 25 years. My retro fun continued with 3D Streets of Rage 2(3DS). A little time at the laundromat was nicely filled by knocking out a few additional missions on easy, stocked up on lives.

I spent a lot of time in the past week playing games with family members. Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 7 (both on 3DS) made for some perfect coffee store break time with my daughter. Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 8 (both on WiiU) were full family experiences — even my wife got into the fun. The WiiU is the perfect machine for a family that wants to play together. It’s pretty remarkable to be able to enjoy titles that simultaneously cater to both five-year-olds and forty-year-olds.

As for new IP experiences, I got a few more stages into the marvelous BoxBoy!(3DS), and gave a few minutes to the new iOS game iSlash Heroes before deciding it wasn’t really for me.

The week ended with one solid hour devoted to Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright(3DS), which unlocked on my machine at 9:00pm Thursday. My early impressions are very positive. The game has a character-driven story that isn’t afraid to make people squirm. Lots of moral ambiguity in play. It looks significantly better than the last game in the series (characters now have feet!). and its gameplay is as riveting as ever. I’m moving forward with perma-death on, in hard mode. In the time that I have been waiting for this game, I also put a couple more hours into the excellent “traditional” RPG Bravely Default (3DS). I almost wish that I didn’t have two AAA handheld RPGs vying for my attention… how do I make time for both? It’s an embarrassment of riches. And given that I was able to purchase both of them for a combined total of $79.99, it makes $99 IAP purchases in mobile RPG games like Brave Frontier and Summoner’s War all the harder for me to understand.

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