A Week in the Life of a 40-Year-Old Gamer: January 22–28

PURCHASES:

  1. Final Fantasy Explorers — 3DS — $29.99 (retail $39.99, used GameStop store credit)

YTD TOTAL: $238.11

PLAYTIME:

  1. Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam — 3DS — 10h 36m
  2. Final Fantasy Explorers — 3DS — 4h 19m
  3. 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 — 3DS — 1h 24m
  4. 3D Streets of Rage 2 — 3DS — 1h 8m
  5. Crashlands — iOS — 39m
  6. Mario Kart 7 — 3DS — 36m
  7. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze — WiiU — 34m
  8. Dungelot — iOS — 32m
  9. Vigilante — TG16 — 15m
  10. Ultra Street Fighter I V — PS3 — 12m
  11. Devil’s Crush — TG16 — 10m
  12. Donkey Kong Country — SNES — 7m
  13. Magician Lord — NEO-GEO — 6m
  14. Punch-Out!! — NES — 3m
  15. 3D Out-Run — 3DS — 2m

THOUGHTS:

The biggest surprise on this list is that there is nothing from Xbox One or PlayStation 4. That is certainly not representative of a trend… though on busy weeks, it’s definitely easier to just turn on the 3DS. It allows me to continue on with full-featured console style games wherever I happen to be.

I love a good RPG, and through the start of the year, 3DS is the place to be for fans of that genre. I pumped more than 10 hours into Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam (3DS) this week, which I’ve been enjoying immensely. I love the action-oriented battle system, and thus far, the game has been challenging enough to keep my interest. Sure, the Toadstool hide-and-seek stuff can get a bit tedious, but those sequences don’t come up too often. I just love this world, and while the idea of bringing the paper and traditional worlds together doesn’t equate to big belly laughs, it’s consistently amusing.

I have more mixed feelings about Final Fantasy Explorers (3DS). On the one hand, it’s a pretty smart simplification of the Monster Hunter formula. Crafting is easy, and you feel powerful very quickly. On the other hand, it’s very repetitive, and strangely, it doesn’t use the system’s 3D functionality. Why Monster Hunter IV can swing stereoscopic imagery and this less-polished looking game can’t, I’ll never know. I haven’t played any of the online content, which is where the real fun is likely to reside, so I reserve further judgment until I seek a random party of adventurers to play with.

M2 is best-in-breed when it comes to porting classic games in 3D. I completed a full play-through of 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (3DS). The game remains one of my all-time favorites, but I had forgotten how punishing the very end of the game is. You are put through the ringer against Metal Sonic, and if you somehow manage to beat him, you then move on to fight Dr. Robotnik’s mech — with no rings. I was only able to persist to the credits because of the magic of save states. 3D Streets of Rage 2 (3DS) also ages well… it’s a lot better than Final Fight. I could not complete the game on a single playthrough, on ‘normal’ using nine lives and three continues. I aim to try again this week. 3D Outrun (3DS) and Mario Kart 7 (3DS) also got some play time, cementing the 3DS as the primary platform for my game time during this week.

Crashlands (iOS) is another big winner on the iPhone. It’s a premium scavenging title that’s dense, great to look at, and funny as hell. I only had one session, but that stretched to 39 minutes, and it was enough to convince me that this will be worth playing when I have more time. I continued to play Dungelot (iOS) as well… it is my new game of choice when I have only one hand available for playing.

Digging further into the retro-styled Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (WiiU) encouraged me to crack open my vault of real retro games. First, I went back to the original Donkey Kong Country (SNES), and was blown away by how contemporary the title still looks. Then, I did a quick tour of Magician Lord (NEO-GEO), which used to cost $200 in retail stores; Punch-Out (NES), just to see if I could finally beat Mr. Dream (I couldn’t); Vigilante (TG16), which looks a lot better than Kung-Fu on the NES, but somehow isn’t as fun; and Alien Crush (TG16), a nearly forgotten gem from the 90’s.

Finally, I validated my rustiness at playing as Ryu in Ultra Street Fighter IV. Fun, beautiful game, but since I have that available for ‘free’ via PlayStation NOW, I’m not sure I feel the need to rush out and buy the new one.

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