A Week in the Life of a 40-Year-Old Gamer: February 5-11, 2016


1. Bayonetta DLC for Super Smash Bros (WiiU/3DS): $6.99

YTD: $245.11


Screenshot (58)

1. Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam (3DS) – 20h 16m

2. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (Xbox 360) – 44m

3. Super Smash Bros (3DS) – 31m

4. Super Smash Bros (WiiU) – 11m

5. Heroki (iOS) – 22m

6. Tomb of the Mask (iOS) – 15m

7. Donkey Kong (NES) – 6m

8. Punch-Out!! (NES) – 4m

9. Ice Climber (NES) – 3m



This week, I completed Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam (3DS). It took me 43 hours to finish. The game didn’t grab me from the start – about ten hours in, I shifted to Final Fantasy Explorers for a bit – but once I hit the halfway point of Paper Jam, I could not put it down. I poured 20 hours into it during this week alone. The reflex-driven battle mechanics are consistently fun. It’s a ‘lean forward’ RPG, one that can’t be played by grinding while you keep your attention glued to a television show.  You need to carefully monitor the rhythm of enemy attacks, so you can get the most out of windows for counter-attacks. Where Bravely Default (3DS) began to bore me with the repetition of the random fights – auto-battle can be toggled on in that game for a reason – Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam kept fights novel throughout.

It’s a game with significant flaws. There are critical-path hide-and-seek missions that slow the pacing to a crawl. Some boss fights – the last one in particular- spike the difficulty to an unreasonable level. Leveling up your character makes no change to their appearance, a bummer that is likely a mandate from Nintendo’s intellectual property gatekeepers. And a combination of backtracking and repeated boss battles made the game feel padded. But these problems were never enough to push me away. I love this world. I love the narrative conceit – Luigi opens a portal to Paper Mario’s world, trapping paper citizens and heroes in a modern, 3D-rendered Mushroom Kingdom. There are no laugh-out-loud moments, but the dialogue and visual gags are amusingly meta.

Where mobile games like Candy Crush Saga aim to be as approachable to non-players as possible, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam caters to the most core of portable players. It isn’t afraid to test your skills with drawn-out brawls. It doesn’t care if it makes you look dorky, asking that you carry a few amiibos around in public to make use of powerful abilities. And it’s intent on rewarding the most hardcore of Mario fans with a mountain of inside jokes and trivia questions.

And that core sensibility – combined with the game’s commitment to giving players something new at every turn – is why I love the game. It’s the definition of a “for the fans” product… and what can I say? I’m a life-long Mario fan. I eat this stuff up. If you’ve been participating in his adventures since childhood, you’ll likely love it, too.


I dabbled in the world of The Witcher 2 (Xbox 360), thanks to a Microsoft promotion that allowed all players (including Xbox One owners) to download the 360 version entirely for free. Not much time spent here – less than an hour. The visuals hold up very well, but this one does feel more like a PC-game ported to console than the TV-friendly versions of The Witcher III did. I had never played part 2 before, and it was fun to give it a spin after devoting hours to its sequel last year. Will I continue with it? Probably not, given the backlog of games I’m currently digging through. But it’s nice to have, and I believe it would be worth settling into sometime down the line.

The Bayonetta DLC for Super Smash Bros. (WiiU, 3DS) did not disappoint. Even with her combat routines dramatically simplified, Bayonetta still moves like liquid mercury. The value for the dollar on this set is awesome, too. $7.99 gets you the character unlocked on both platforms, a new arena, five new in-game trophies, and a CD-soundtrack’s worth of music files.

Heroki (iOS) just received MFI controller support, and man, does that make a difference. Full disclosure: I work at SEGA, and I was a part of the team that signed Heroki, so I’m heavily biased when I say that this game is dramatically better than anything King or Supercell has ever released. But I really believe it to be true. This is a gorgeous game, made better with the ability to use physical controls. It runs on Apple TV now, too.


Tomb of the Mask (iOS) was this week’s Editor’s Choice from Apple. Check it out. You’ll get a hang of the mechanics instantly, but it will take you awhile before you post a high score to be proud of. It’s an intense, arcade-style game, like Downwell (iOS).

With my retro time, it was all NES. Donkey Kong, Ice Climber, and Punch-Out!! got my love on the 3DS. Having these games on a controller-enabled device wherever I go is a great thing. Twelve-year-old Ethan’s head would explode at the thought of having those experiences in my pocket.

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