A Week in the Life of a 41-Year-Old Gamer: April 1-7, 2016


  1. Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest (3DS): $19.99
  2. Implosion: Never Lose Hope (iOS): $1.99

YTD Total: $475.13


Screenshot (58)

  1. Fire Emblem Fates (3DS): 23h 9m
  2. The Order: 1886 (PS4): 3h 50m
  3. Implosion: Never Lose Hope (iOS): 1h 48m
  4. Far Cry: Primal (Xbox One): 1h 43m
  5. The Division (Xbox One): 1hr 5m
  6. Super Mario World (SNES): 30m
  7. Street Fighter V (PS4): 22m

Screenshot (56)

  1. Miitomo (iOS): 4h 6m
  2. Kingdom Hearts  Unchained X (iOS): 60m


I just completed Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright (3DS), which took me 123 hours. I’m sure I could have completed the game in a shorter run, but I enjoyed every part of the experience so much, I was happy to invest the time. I didn’t want the story to end. If there weren’t two complete new 100+ hour campaigns to move on to (Conquest and Revelations), I’m sure I would have put off reaching the conclusion for quite a while longer. The game just never got boring to me. Playing on Hard in Classic mode, every battle was tense and strategic. The balance of risk and reward was perfect. If I lost a character I loved, I’d soft reset and try again. I never felt like I was wasting my time; I felt like I was being given opportunities to learn.


When I reached the final battle, which I won’t describe here (to avoid spoilers), I knew that I could finally just let characters die, since they wouldn’t be moving on to any other missions. But even then, it felt terrible to see heroes I had nurtured for more than 100 hours fall on enemy blades.


The moment I finished Birthright, I went straight to the game’s download screen and ponied up $19.99 for the Conquest campaign. That campaign tells the same story from the perspective of the bad guys, which is a fantastic twist*. I’ve already put a few hours in, and I can’t wait to dig deeper into it. The moment when you side against the Hoshido Kingdom really feels like a painful betrayal.

*As a side note, this story-telling approach is not new to the strategy-RPG genre – Shining Force III (Saturn) was also a three-part saga, showing different sides of the same war. But only Japanese players were given the chance to play all three of the Shining Force III scenarios.

I have continued to play and enjoy Miitomo (iOS). I know opinions are divided on this one, but I fall on the “thumbs up” side. I do wonder, though, if I’m getting an uncharacteristically good experience, since I have a lot of writer friends from the games industry linked to my account. Sean Baby’s contributions alone make this game a lot of fun to turn on a few times a day. I think that I ultimately will wind up playing it a few times a week, instead of several times a day, but for now, it’s a fun one to turn to when I have only a couple of minutes to spare.

The launch of PS4 Remote Play on PC compelled me to boot up The Order: 1886 (PS4) again. I figured that would be a good test subject for the technology, since it’s the best-looking game on the platform, and it’s a shooter, so precision is required. Setting up the remote play app on both my PC and my Mac was a breeze. You download and install one small file, type in your Sony account user name/password, and you’re good to go. The default settings are 540p at 30fps. I instantly turned those up to 720p at 60fps (the maximum), since both my computer and my PS4 are hardwired, and my Xbox One beautifully streams 1080p at 60fps to my Surface Pro 3.

remote play2

Cranking up the settings on Remote Play was a bad idea. The game’s frame rate started hitching badly, with big, chunky pixels popping up everywhere.  The results were even worse when I popped in Street Fighter V (PS4), which was barely playable in single player, and a train wreck in online mode. These problems popped up on both my Mac and my PC.

Determined to get a good experience out of this technology, which I’ve been waiting for eagerly for months, I went back to the default settings… and then everything ran just fine. I ended up playing hours of The Order: 1886 on my PC with no frame rate problems or aiming issues. Resolution was lower than I’m used to, but the display was not distracting. For now, I’d say Remote Play is not as polished as Xbox streaming, but if you’re willing to stick with 540p at 30fps, and you stay away from multiplayer games that require zero lag time,  you’ll get a lot out of this feature.


I ended up finishing The Order: 1886, which I enjoyed a lot more than the critics (it’s at a 63 on Metacritic). Yes, it’s really short, and the mechanics don’t offer anything we haven’t seen before in the all of the other Gears of War clones. But like Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox One), it’s all muscle, no fat. The story is gripping, the characters are likable, and the graphics are luscious… this really is the best-looking game I’ve ever seen. And in a time when I have a massive backlog of games, I appreciate the occasional title that doesn’t aspire to be as long as The Witcher III. The Order: 1886 is $19.99 now, and it’s worth it at that… though I’m happy I snagged it this holiday when it was $9.99.Screenshot (2)Speaking of sales… I picked up Implosion: Never Lose Hope on iOS this week, which has been discounted to $1.99 (regular price is $9.99)… and there are no IAPs! It’s great. it looks and plays like a premium VITA title. Basically, it’s a sci-fi cross between Dead Nation and God of War. They got the fighting, shooting, and challenge mix just right. All the stages are in the three minute range, so it’s the perfect thing for a quick shot of adrenaline while you wait in a coffee line. It works fine with touch controls, but it’s definitely best enjoyed with a controller, if you have one on hand. With a GameVice hooked up, this game becomes second only to Lara Croft Go as the best mobile game of last year.

Far Cry Primal (2016) - Gameplay Screenshot

I started playing Far Cry: Primal (Xbox One). The neanderthal setting is such a natural for gaming, it surprises me that we haven’t been taken here before (outside of silly stuff like Chuck Rock on Genesis or B.C. Racers on Genesis 32X). I actually like using a bow more than using a gun – headshots delivered by arrow are incredibly satisfying. The game also provides a really sensible context for the hunting, gathering, and building that all open world games lean towards. And you never feel invincible like Rambo. In this game, everything is a threat – even an angry looking elephant can be terrifying. This one will definitely get more play time this week.


I also took in the first hour of The Division (Xbox One). I can already tell I’m going to like this more than Destiny (Xbox One), which I abandoned after ten hours of play. I prefer the third-person setup, the environments are much more relatable, and the missions (at least at the start) don’t feel nearly as repetitive. We’ll see how deep I wind up going with this one, but the opening hour has me hooked.

Finally, I put another half hour into Super Mario World (SNES). I really love this game, but I think it was a bad design choice to make the critical path require you to find hidden passages. It’s a slog to search through several boards that might contain the secret door you need, so I always end up just looking it up on YouTube. I’m not sure how I had the patience for that nonsense back in the day.

As a big fan of Kingdom Hearts, I downloaded the new F2P Kingdom Hearts Unchained X for iOS. It’s not for me. It’s mechanically dull and graphically bland. It also has IAP bundles that go all the way up to $99, which is unthinkable when you can get the vastly superior Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance on 3DS for $39.99 all-in. Skip this one, even if your’re a fan of the series.



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