- Ratchet & Clank (PS4): $0 ($39.99 retail; store credit used)
- Dark Souls III (Xbox One): $60.99 (retail $64.49; some store credit used)
- Pktball – additional skin (iOS): $0.99
- Falco (amiibo): $14.19
- Ratchet & Clank (PS4): 5h 56m
- Super Metroid (SNES): 4h 46m
- Call of Duty Black Ops III (Xbox One): 2h 47m
- Dark Souls III (Xbox One): 2h
- Pktball (iOS): 1h 25m
- Fire Emblem Fates (3DS): 1h 12m
- Super Smash Bros (WiiU): 1h 1m
- Mario Kart 7 (3DS): 10m
I recently put together a list of my Top 10 films of all-time. What struck me is that none of them were newer than 1993. I’ve seen a lot of great films in the intervening 26 years, but my tastes calcified by high school.
My taste in games reflects a much broader palate:
Ethan’s Top 10 Games of All-Time
- Fire Emblem Fates (3DS): 2016
- Fire Emblem Awakening (3DS): 2013
- Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii): 2010
- The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time (N64): 1998
- Half-Life 2 (PC): 2004
- Metal Gear Solid (PS1): 1998
- Shenmue II (Dreamcast): 2001
- Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3): 2009
- Bayonetta 2 (WiiU): 2014
- The Last of Us (PS3): 2013
Now, what’s interesting to me is that while there are games as recent as 2016 on this list, The Last of Us is the only title that is not a sequel. That seems to suggest that the process of having my tastes in games calcify is underway. For instance, the only thing that was able to topple Fire Emblem Awakening in the #1 spot was… another Fire Emblem.
What’s also in evidence is that while I’ve been a gamer since 1984, the ‘Golden Era’ for me will be identified as roughly 1998 – 2013. In my elderly years, I’ll have a special place in my heart for games that were released in that window.
I’m reflecting on this because the market is changing so quickly, and I’m finding that some of the biggest hits of today just don’t match my palate. League of Legends and Minecraft are both very good games, but they would never make my Top 10 list. They feel like games for a different, younger generation. I like games with endings, big boss fights, and a focus on solo play. I want an authored experience; something design-driven, not player-driven or data-driven. I prefer games as media, like books or movies, over games as services.
Given all of this, Rathet & Clank (PS4) feels like a game that was made just for me. It’s all of the things I love about video games, and it feels like it comes from a different era of game design. This makes sense, of course, because it is a remake of the PS2 original, which came out in 2002. It’s a traditional action-platformer, guiding a single player through spectacular set pieces. Except now, it really does have the gloss and polish of a Pixar film. At a time in which there’s no more Jak & Daxter, Sly Cooper is MIA, Spyro has become a mascot for Toys-to-Life brawlers, and Mario hasn’t been given a solo console adventure in six years, playing Ratchet & Clank is like guzzling a fizzy soda on a hot summer day. It’s $40 price point makes this even more of a miracle product, and if you have a PS4, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up.
Metroid is an embarrassing blank-spot in my gaming history. I never played through Super Metroid, Metroid Prime, or anything before or since in the series. I know of Samus, of course, but despite Super Metroid having once been called the “Greatest Game of All-Time” by EGM, that particular adventure is not in my game vocabulary. Now that it’s available on the go, though, I’m really enjoying it. So much so, in fact, that Super Metroid (SNES) has dislodged Fire Emblem Fates (3DS) from my playlist for the better part of the week. The experience has aged very gracefully. The serial feel of it (get a new weapon, open a new area to explore) represents masterful carrot-dangling; sessions intended to last ten minutes stretch into hours. Some games, like Final Fight and Kid Chameleon, have aged so badly that it’s crazy to think we loved them back in the day. But Super Metroid would get accolades if it was released as a new game today. And of course, save states make it a little easier to work your way through the title.
Finishing Call of Duty: Black Ops III (Xbox One) reminds me that this is the annual franchise that I like just enough to keep playing every year. It’s much more interesting to me than Madden, and significantly less interesting to me than Assassin’s Creed. If Call of Duty were a holiday, it wouldn’t be Christmas… it’d be Easter. You never actively look forward to it, but it’s pleasant enough when it arrives. Great polish and execution from a well-supported team that knows its shit.
Dark Souls III (Xbox One) is my starting point for the series. I played Bloodborne, so I have a pretty good idea of what I’m doing, but I like the environment of Dark Souls III more… and I love having a shield, too. Like Ninja Gaiden, it is best to come into a FROM game knowing that you’re going to have your ass handed to you over and over again… and that the pleasure comes from slowly, surely mastering the rhythm and flow of fights. In the first two hours, I was able to defeat the first big boss. I love the set pieces – the dragon fire sequence is phenomenal – and the atmosphere is deeply enveloping. You become one with the game when you play, making it easy to lose track of time. The leveling is still very cryptic to me, though IGN’s guides are helping me parse it. This title is the polar opposite of Candy Crush Saga, and as such, it warms my heart to hear that this is Namco’s best-selling console gamer ever. It’s surreal to jump from the primary colors of Ratchet & Clank to the glum browns and greys of Dark Souls III, but I love both of those games in equal measure, for different reasons.
Pktball (iOS) continued to compel me, with it’s simple, Pong-inspired gameplay. And I threw the team another $0.99 for another skin. I’m always happy to support indie guys who are willing to put spend caps in their iOS games. I really love that design philosophy.
My daughter was home sick on Thursday, which game us some time to play Nintendo games together – Mario Kart 7 (3DS) and Super Smash Bros. (WiiU). She has really matured as a player; now, she’s competitive in both games. We had a lot of fun with both games, and are now considering putting together a Nintendo Podcast, talking weekly about the company from the perspective of a 9-year-old and a 41-year-old. Could be fun!
Hey Ethan! Long time Player One Podcast listener. Really enjoyed you on the last episode, and have been really enjoying your blog. Your spending and playing time breakdowns are pretty fascinating. I’ve never picked up a 3DS, but listening and reading about your adoration of Fire Emblem has me interested in one.
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Hey Chris, thanks very much for the note! It’s great to know that the blog is reaching people. 3DS has such an awesome library of games, but with the NX just around the corner, it might be good to wait until that comes out.
I really wonder what that the NX is going to be. It’s hard for me to envision it being anything else besides the speculated console/handheld combination. Maybe because that sounds amazing on paper. Of course it would have every Nintendo eShop game on it that you could ever imagine, with a generous amount of storage. The idea of unifying both handheld and living room console sounds great as a consumer, I have no idea if it makes good business sense. Or are living room console and handheld gaming experiences too different?