- Mega Man Legacy Collection (3DS): $49.99
- Corrin DLC for Super Smash Bros (3DS/WiiU): $5.99
- Ryu DLC for Super Smash Bros (3DS/WiiU): $6.99
- Assassin’s Creed Identity (iOS): $4.99
- Rayman (iOS): $4.99
YTD TOTAL: $338.06
- Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright (3DS): 17h 29m
- 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (3DS): 4h 45m
- Street Fighter V (PS4): 4h 12m
- Dead or Alive 5 (PSNOW): 1h 5m
- Mega Man (NES): 56m
- Super Smash Bros (3DS): 43m
- 3D Streets of Rage 2 (3DS): 35m
- Rayman (iOS): 10m
- Assassin’s Creed: Identity (iOS): 1h 20m
Given that I write these posts covering Thursday to Thursday, I had only been able to manage to get a little taste of Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright (3DS) last week. This week, it was the game I played with nearly every available moment of my free time. As with its predecessor, Fates is perfect for on-the-go action. It’s easy to command your troops while simultaneously keeping track of real-life bus arrivals or coffee orders. I’m playing on hard in classic mode (i.e. perma-death), and on that setting, battles are high stakes from Chapter 7 0n (about one hour in). I admit that more than once I have restarted a campaign, not being able to bear losing the wife of my hero, or my favorite archer. But for the most part, I’ve tried to keep from cheating. I have let carefully leveled champions bite the dust if they get cornered as a result of poor planning on my end. This setup makes the game very tense and surprisingly emotional. I’ve found a few of the characters cloying, but most are charming, and overall, I feel like I’m the head of a brave, talented, dysfunctional family. The gameplay is as solid as ever, encouraging you to think many steps ahead. But ultimately, it’s the character building that elevates this game series from being great to one of my all-time favorites. As with Awakening, heroes fall in love on the battlefield, get married, and then have children who share their stats. Some characters seem more predisposed to fall for each other, but nothing feels scripted. I will be very surprised if I play a better game all year.
I was a totally unscrupulous cheater playing the gorgeous 3DS ports of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and Streets of Rage 2 this week. I was a man on two missions:
- Collect every single chaos emerald in both Sonic 1 and Sonic 2, something I have never done before.
- Finally watch the credits roll in Streets of Rage 2.
If I had to use a lot of save states to do it, so be it. And BOY, did I use a lot of save states. For those not in the know, a ‘save state’ lets you create a save anywhere in a level. That allowed me, for instance, to save every time I made a successful jump over an obstacle in the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 bonus stages. Do that thirty times over a 45 second track, and you’re likely to get the equivalent of a perfect run. So now, I know first-hand what it’s like to REALLY piss off Dr. Robotnik at the end of Sonic 1, become Super Sonic in Sonic 2, and knock out Mr. X in Streets of Rage 2. I didn’t do any of this skillfully or honorably… but I did it! I just can’t believe kids in junior high school could do it back in the day without all the cheats turned on.
It really was a great week of retro gaming for me, given the awesome release of Mega Man Legacy Collection on 3DS. I already had purchased the game digitally on Xbox One last year, but really, it’s the perfect game series for portable play, and the bonus content makes the $50 asking price totally worth it. First off, the golden Mega Man amiibo is to me what the Lost Ark is to Indiana Jones… priceless. It’s a gorgeous, golden prize that will be on my desk when I’m 80. In the box, you get awesome stickers, post cards, and a voucher for a full music soundtrack. On the cart, there is a treasure trove of truly amazing archival stuff, including high-detail scans of the original boxes (from all territories!), original artwork from the design team, and extra content unlocked with the amiibo figure. The Target in San Francisco near my office had one copy… the only store in the Bay Area that I could find that had one… and I was lucky enough to get there in time to snap it up. And on top of all the great fan service, the emulation work on the games (Mega Man 1-6) is best-in-class, too.
I played more Street Fighter V (PS4) this week, and loved it… when it worked. I typically feel like I’m getting matched with somebody at a similar skill level, which makes the bouts tense and exciting. I get back into the same ‘gotta play one more’ rhythm that sucked me in at the arcades in the 90’s. As a multi-player experience, this is SO much more fun for me than Call of Duty. Unfortunately, more often than not, I experienced horrendous lag and long wait times for matches. For now – despite the problems – this is my go-to title for capping a night of PS4 gaming. I go in planning to have one match, and push through ten bouts instead. Oh, and yeah, the single player stuff is lame. It doesn’t come close to the story mode in Mortal Kombat X, or even Dead or Alive 5 (which I’m currently playing as my randomly chosen PlayStation NOW game). But I don’t play Street Fighter for the story, so this isn’t a deal-breaker for me. Besides, the ‘endless’ mode of play is more fun to me than a traditional arcade single player mode, where you always fight a bunch of easy opponents before reaching a maddeningly cheap boss that you have to lose to twenty times or more before you get lucky.
This week, Ubisoft released two premium iPhone games, both supporting MFI controllers: Rayman (iOS) and Assassin’s Creed Identity (iOS). Rayman is exactly as you’d exepect – it works great with the controller support, and it’s a game I’m quite pleased to have in my pocket at all times. The new Assassin’s Creed game is quite a bit more interesting, though… it was in soft launch for more than a year as a free-to-play game before finally coming out as a $4.99 game. It still has all the micro-transactions in place, though given the relatively sparse content, it’s hard for me to understand how one would use $99 bundle of hard currency. The core game (as it currently stands) took me less than 90 minutes to complete… but you know what? It was fun! It felt really good with a GameVice controller! It looked terrific (significantly better looking than Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation on VITA)! And it was well worth $4.99. Never once in my brief playthrough did I feel like I needed to spend a cent more than the initial asking price. There are additional contracts to complete and things to collect after you finish the campaign, and there is the promise of a second campaign to come. But even as-is, it points in a direction for mobile gaming that’s interesting to me. Give me a good story for $5 – $10 without any timers, and I’ll think about buying it, even if it only lasts a couple of hours. If others love the experience so much that it pulls them into PVP modes that gets them to spend more, more power to them. I never will go down that route – I don’t buy hard currency in any game – but I’ll get a great, bite-sized adventure that shows off the power of my $1000 phone, and respects the fact that I want console-quality environments on a device is more than capable of providing that. It’s not on par with Lara Croft Go – not even close – but if you want a fun console-style time killer that looks like a PS3 game and costs less than a cup of Starbucks coffee, give it a go. I assure you it’s a better value than yet another $5.00 purchase of Clash of Clans gems.
Finally, I purchased both Corrin and Ryu for Super Smash Bros on WiiU and 3DS. I LOVE that Nintendo tells you IN DOLLARS, EXACTLY how much their new characters cost to add to your roster. No hard currency to buy, no gacha systems to navigate. Want Ryu? Go ahead and buy him at exactly the price he’s listed on sale for. And the generosity of Nintendo DLC packages are always top-notch, too… extra arenas, 3D trophies, and sound tracks are often thrown in to sweeten the deal.