When many of us were kids, we had nothing but time on our hands. All we had was school, and once that was done, it was time for fun! In terms of games, this translated to us being able to play multiple games in any given time frame—money permitting—while also being able to easily have the time to fully explore one title. Now, as adults, we have a large number of responsibilities and a different set of priorities when it comes to what we do with our time. Playing games, as a result, takes a back seat to many other things happening in our lives; usually becoming the casualty.

Times change, however, and fate will ever so often grace us adults with a short stretch of time where we have nothing else, but time. I now have found myself with an entire week of no responsibilities and wanting to take advantage of this rare moment in one of the ways that I, in my youth, would have done—play games. But, not any game or games can be played in this rare moment in my life; it must be curated and selected with great consideration. In much the same way that a fine wine must be paired with an equally delicious and proper meal, it is not a simple task and must be held to the highest of standards.

What type of game should it be? Should it be multiple games? Ones I have wanted to play? Or ones I love already but wish to experience once more? Or perhaps it should be the one title that continues to elude my ability to finally finish it? This is where I am left, weighing my options between a select few. Which should I choose to play during this rare moment in my life where I can delve into a game and nothing is holding me back? Right now I don’t know, but perhaps in writing this little tale of considerations, I might come to an answer or simply be left where I started.

At this point, the only way to find out is to dive down into the rabbit hole.

The System

I at the very least have managed to break down the games I am considering to a select few. Each choice has both upsides and downsides, and the ramifications of those will be laid out. The system that will determine these games is purely based off of my own preferences and can be largely boiled down to the following criteria:

  1. Two Games must always be in play, this way if I am tired of one in a sitting, I have the other to play to change things up.
  2. Games should always attempt to be different in terms of genre, either at a time or in succession.
    1. Example: An RPG should not be paired with another RPG, regardless of subgenre.
    2. Example: A FPS should not be followed by another FPS.
  3. If possible, one should be a portable title to add variety in where it can be played.
  4. It must not take longer to finish than that of the allotted time frame (one week).
  5. I must already own the game.

While this does not include all of the guidelines I will be following, it includes enough to provide a general idea to both my thinking and preferences. With the rules now in place, there is nothing left to do but to delve into the contenders!

The Contenders

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D

This is the most important of this list, a game that continues to elude me and my abilities to complete it. There is just something about this title that causes me to lose interest once I make it to the second temple. Perhaps it is my lack of desire to actually take the time that is needed to learn all the patterns of the various intricacies that exist when obtaining all the other masks or the sometimes punishing three-day system that always seems to become an issue mid-way through a dungeon attempting to find one more fairy. Regardless of whichever specific reason it may be, it has always been a problem of mine to complete. It has reached such a level that in talks with my fellow contributors of this site, it has become a potential multi-article series on my experiences with this one particular title to examine why it eludes me to this day. While that has yet to occur, that prospect alone is enticing without even considering the game itself.

With a whole week available, to actually sit down in one consistent span of time, the act of cataloging and keeping track of the many moving parts of Majora’s Mask becomes a much easier task and a far more engaging prospect. It would allow me to experience the game how it was meant to be experienced, where learning all the facets of the world is part of the enjoyment.

Final Fantasy X or Final Fantasy XII

For the sake of this article, I will be considering both Final Fantasy titles. In both cases, I have played neither of the titles mentioned and would conceivably only have time for one during my week off. Final Fantasy X interests me from a story standpoint, but also by being the main series’ last true turn-based game that existed. I fell out of favor with the Final Fantasy series in my youth after Final Fantasy VIII, and after a long break from the series, returned once the series adopted a more active approach with Final Fantasy Type-0, which was eventually followed by Final Fantasy XV. The turn-based genre has become something that I still enjoy, but the atmosphere of the title needs to capture the same level of investment I had in those previous titles, or most recently, Persona 5. I fear Final Fantasy X may not be willing to offer that same level of scenic depth I now look for in turn-based titles.

Final Fantasy XII addressed the other side of the coin. While I know very little about the specific title’s story (except that there is a giant chicken boss), I am aware of the game’s unique combat system that takes a hybrid approach to turn-based and action. A more action based RPG is always easier for me to sink my teeth into, making Final Fantasy XII a tempting title to play. However, it’s also long and involved, so would it be something that can be binged or best taken in steps? Truthfully, I am not sure.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Metal Gear Solid 4

Another situation where I know I will only be able to play one title or the other with one week on my hand. I admit I am a late-in-life Metal Gear Solid fan, and by late-in-life, I have only played Metal Gear Solid 3. It was a game that at first, I didn’t initially care for, but quickly found myself becoming enamored with the title. Looking to continue that game, I quickly delved into Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker as it was the direct sequel, but while the gameplay is generally the same, the structure is not. The pacing of the game is broken up into small missions, which for being a PSP title makes sense, but now looking back, it detracts from the overall game’s quality. The lack of cohesion between your actions and the world around you can become a little jarring for a series that extensively story heavy.

It is, however, part of the story, so it feels like a disservice to the series’ story to skip the title and jump right into Metal Gear Solid 4. It puts me in a bit of a pickle, and without a resolution, I will most likely continue putting the series on pause until one is reached.

Pokémon Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon

Pokémon is another series that I returned to later in life. Some of my fondest memories of my youth—in regards to games—came from the first and second generation of Pokémon. As I grew older, I saw the series as being too childish (as most teenagers do), but now in my adult life, I have a newfound appreciation for Pokémon again. One of the first titles I picked up when I purchased a 3DS was Pokémon Y and I was immediately captured by the game again, especially in regards to the litany of improvements that were made since I last played. Pokémon, however, wished to keep changing, and Pokémon Sun/Moon looked to change many concepts of the series itself. It removed a fair amount of freedom and exploration found in other titles, in an effort to build upon the story and expand the universe through other means. It took one of my favorite aspects of Pokémon and reduced it.

Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy other aspects of the series like capturing and raising Pokémon; seeing them all evolve and eventually beating the Elite 4 (or their equivalent). But it is a notable departure that makes me wonder if it is perhaps best to see what the Switch version of Pokémon offers…or just go back to Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.

Panzer Dragoon Orta

Microsoft has been doing a phenomenal job with its backward compatibility support, and the addition of even more original Xbox titles has got me itching to play some of the titles I have recently been collecting. Panzer Dragoon Orta was a title I owned during the brief time I had an original Xbox and served as a great break from other titles. Railgun shooters have never been a genre I have particularly made an effort to play, but this title stuck with me. Maybe it was the visuals or how it was presented, maybe even the simple ability to change the type of your dragon on the fly. Either way, it was a title I enjoyed, but have completely forgotten about now that I am an adult. It is a game I played and enjoyed, but perhaps playing it again to remember why I enjoyed it would make it a worthy title during my week off?

Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

This title, right here, has been a part of my backlog so long that I am not even sure when the desire to play it ever came from. Regardless, that desire is still here and has only been strengthened by the fact that two titles after this were released that I have also wanted to play. The one issue I have with this particular version is the console that it is on. Nintendo did not make many New Nintendo 3DS titles, but they needed a title to show the difference in power compared to the original and the New 3DS; hence, Xenoblade Chronicles 3D was born. The concession that was made to make this game work almost entirely rests in one single section: the graphics and resolution. This title is grainy and off-putting, to say the least, and while the reduction in graphics was obviously needed, the game suffers tremendously for it and I question if I will be able to deal with those concessions.

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon

The list of Castlevania games I have played is certainly not the same as most. I personally have played Castlevania Lord of Shadows series…and the original Castlevania, in that order. The original Castlevania was a title that I personally, didn’t think I would enjoy. One stream later, and a game that is notoriously difficult became a title that will ever live in infamy simply due to one thing, “dat bat.” After that stream, I gained a new appreciation for the original titles and purchased Circle of the Moon. The problem is, I have yet to play it. An original inspired Castlevania will not only provide the challenge and experience I enjoyed when playing the first title, it will also keep it relatively short and beatable with only one week to play the title.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

I am a 3DS Fire Emblem fan, as in; I came into the series at Fire Emblem Awakening and continued from there. I have little to no interest in the earlier titles and am completely content simply playing the titles that will be released in the future. The one exception to this is Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. The strategy gameplay remaining largely the same to the newer titles is certainly a plus, but a Fire Emblem title that has dungeon crawling? Now you have me. Finally, a Fire Emblem title that isn’t just pure SRPG, but one that offers different ways to encounter the core SRPG gameplay through things like exploring dungeons.

That addition alone makes this title something that is interesting to me. As with many SRPGs though, I need a lengthy break in between them. Playing SRPG to SRPG back-to-back, or even months apart is just not something I can do. I have a small meter for SRPGs and it fills easily, and once it’s filled, that long cool down timer begins.

The Aftermath

Even after discussing the title’s I mentioned, there are still more than I am considering that I haven’t even taken the time to discuss (see the featured image) such as:

  • Odin Sphere Leifthrasir
  • Monster Hunter Stories
  • Dead Rising
  • Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE
  • Uncharted Lost Legac
  • Axium Verg
  • Valkyria Chronicles II,

Plus even more!

So has writing this article helped? Maybe. 

At the very least, it was an opportunity for me to gather some of my thoughts, and for you the reader to delve into the thought process that now goes into picking a game when you are an adult with an enormous backlog of games. I will most likely continue to debate what I wish to play in the coming days, and hopefully, will have a solution.

If you have any recommendations or further thoughts than mine, let me know, perhaps another opinion or different point of view will allow me to finally pick a winner. Until then, I will continue the struggle to make the most of this rare moment in my life.