Thursday, June 6, 2013

Editorial: Losing Steam with the JRPG

I've always had this internal battle raging. About twice a year I get this yearning to play a JRPG style game and about 1.9 times a year I get this yearning to not finish that game.

This all started with Final Fantasy VII in the summer of 1997. My cousin and I went to the local rental store, saw this cool cover with a guy and a huge sword, and took it home. No amount of pizza and Mountain Dew could dull the disappointment that we weren't actively running into large hordes of enemies and cutting them down with this man sized sword.

That night, thinking maybe we missed something, I popped the game in after my cousin went to bed. I tried to take the game in. The prerendered backgrounds were beautiful. The music, some of the best I'd heard. But still, I just didn't understand the battle engine. My 13 year old self couldn't understand why my characters were taking breaks between hits. I didn't feel their fate actually rested in my hands, but rather rested in the hands of Lady Luck.

I've revisted Final Fantasy VII on my PSP in 2009 and enjoyed it much more. In fact, I've made it to the end of disk two... and I've been stuck there for 2 years. This isn't because I've come against a tough boss, its because I read a spoiler that said, "Don't even bother fighting the last boss without Knights of the Round," which I did not get.

The only two JRPG style games that I've actually finished are Legend of Legaia (PS1) and Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360). Both gave me an intense feeling of accomplishment and I think that's the feeling I'm chasing when I boot up that JRPG every year.

And while I chase that, the list of JRPGs that sit unfinished on my Vita and PS3 memory cards grows and this is almost a memorial for them, because I just don't know if I will ever finish any of them. The world will remain in chaos and the hero will remain casually living life at the last save point.

  • Final Fantasy IV - Corrupt save state has me stuck in a dungeon I immediately die in
  • Final Fantasy V - 3 hours in and I lost steam
  • Final Fantasy VII - Sitting at the end of disk two where I have to decide whether to grind my level up to 99 or try to go back and get Knights of the Round. 
  • Final Fantasy VIII - There's really no good reason. I actually liked this one better than VII, bought a copy of it, but never played more than the demo. 
  • Grandia - I just don't know where I'm supposed to go after the first town and am too lazy to look it up. 
  • Chrono Cross - It just seems so daunting to play this. 
  • Persona 4 Golden - Can't beat a boss about 6 hours in. 

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