Friday, February 26, 2010

I'm All Out of Love

I used to be quite the Final Fantasy Fan-Girl. When I was a wee lass I would play nothing but FFIII on my SNES, replaying the opera scene over and over again and crushing on Setzer in his airship. I didn’t mind the turn-based fighting, the random monsters or the hours and hours of level grinding because it was so different from the puzzle/side-scrollers I had been playing up until then. When FFVII was released I thought it was the epitome of the perfect game. The game has an amazing cast of characters who are engaged in a classic good vs. evil dilemma in a post-industrial fantasy world where the damage caused by increases in genetic and technological developments clash with an ancient earth-loving spirituality. I cried when Aeris died-the first time because of a video game. The whole Jenova/Sephiroth relationship was reminiscent of a creepy Dark Crystal feeling I had when I was a child (I can’t explain this any better than that). Summon spells were my weapon of choice-less for the damage they inflicted and more for the graphical display that came with the casting. Final Fantasy VII was so unbelievably beautiful and remains to this day the only 75+ hour game that I have played through twice: once on the PSOne and once on the PC. This isn’t really news, however, because I know a majority of RPG fans feel the same way I do. FFVII was critically acclaimed to the moon and back. So what happened? Why am I not terribly excited about FFXIII? And why have I been less than thrilled with any of the Final Fantasy games since FFVII?

Well, what happened first was FFVIII. The storyline was almost indecipherable without some sort of political flow chart and I got bored with the lackluster characters after only a few chapters. The next one I dubbed the “cartoon” game and didn’t even bother. When FFX was released it felt like a revival of the spirit of seven with much improved graphics but it never quite captured my attention even though it had a compelling love story and some likeable characters. I’ll admit I own a copy of X2 but never had the energy to play a Charlie’s Angels version of the game, even if the ‘dress’ mechanics were intriguing. Skipped 11 since it was online and purchased XII but never played. Am I just not giving them a fair chance?

Sadly, I believe my love affair with JRPG’s is over. I mourned this loss when I attempted twice to play Eternal Sonata and just couldn’t bring myself to continue past the fifteen hour mark. It became clear when both Lost Odyssey and Infinite Undiscovery failed to entice. The slow paced methodical play of the JRPG has no place in my current game playing schedule. I imagine winning the lottery, becoming stinking rich and having so much time to idle away that JRPG’s would waltz back into my life and offer a beautiful flower against the otherwise one-dimensional games that I could be playing. With so much free time and choices, why wouldn’t I want to play something that could bring me days (weeks!) of story engaging play? Because it’s boring. I am BORED with them, by them, beside them. I don’t want to navigate through endless menus of equipment and items and rings to find the best combination for combat. I don’t want to spend hours fighting the same four twisted monsters in a field to gain experience/levels. The only RPG title I am still enthralled with is Fable, but I think it has a lot to do with the real time combat aspects and the easy to digest menu system.

Final Fantasy XIII is currently holding a spot in my GameFly Q. I watch all of the promo videos (I didn’t even mute the horrible J-Pop during one of them) and read the press releases about the game. And although it sounds daunting, I am going to give it a shot. The game is inarguably the most graphically beautiful to date and took years to develop so I figure I should honor my long standing love of SquareEnix, Final Fantasy VI & VII and, of course, Chrono Trigger, by trying.

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