Friday, November 03, 2006

I Am Powerless To Resist

I am a person with a lot of video game franchise loyalty, which used to mean that I'd buy only a half dozen games every year, consisting of the newest entries in each of my chosen franchises. The problem now is that I also am very willing to try new games, and most games these days are part of or end up spawning their own franchises, which is why I now feel obligated to buy pretty much every third game that comes out. So, as soon as Grandia X or Wild Arms X is announced, I run out and preorder it, without any idea as to whether or not the end product will be any good, and regardless of whether or not I have finished Grandia or Wild Arms (X - 1). Then, when it does come out, I buy it, put it on my shelf, and promptly forget about it. As you might imagine, this has begun to add up. Just to give an example, I currently have, sitting unplayed on my gaming shelf, copies of Suikoden IV, Suikoden V, and Suikoden Tactics. I really liked Suikodens I through III, so I'll probably enjoy all of those when I finally find time to play them, but lord help me if the series has gone downhill and they turn out to not be very good, because my receipts have long since decomposed.

With these problems in mind (coupled with the more general problem of my backlog's size), I have been making a concerted effort as of late to drop some franchises that have ceased to wow me. That is to say, instead of buying games from all franchises that are "good", I am trying to restrict myself only to franchises that are great. I have had some limited success in this area, with the most notable being dropping the Tales series, but there are some series that I simply am powerless to resist, and the latest entries in two of them are dropping less than three weeks apart. Try as I might, the moment I hear the words "Final Fantasy" or "The Legend of Zelda", I turn into an eight-year-old grinning from ear to ear with an NES controller in hand, and the reason centres of my brain are drowned out by the screaming fanboy of my memory.

There was a time not all that long ago, measured in months, when I thought that I had finally managed to escape from Square-Enix's grip and drop my Final Fantasy habit once and for all. They had just released an unremarkable MMORPG, and had dared to give it one of the sacred main series numbers as a name to boost sales, instead of calling it Final Fantasy Online as it should rightfully have been called. Even now, whenever I say the name Final Fantasy XI, I feel like I should spit over my shoulder like they do in Corner Gas whenever someone mentions the name Wullerton. Then, after years of eagerly waiting, details on the next real Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy XII (that's twelve, not to be confused with X-2), were revealed, and it turned out that it was switching to a real-time battle system based on Final Fantasy XI's system (*spit*) instead of further refining the classic pseudo-turn-based ATB battle system that had served previous entries in the series so well. At that point, I decided "this is it, Square has fucked with me for the last time-- I'm done." And I was feeling fairly comfortable with that decision, right up until the game came out in Japan and Famitsu (which, according to Wikipedia, "is known worldwide for its extremely harsh grading of current videogames") gave it a perfect forty, joining the illustrious and select company of only five other games, including the Zelda masterpieces Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker.

What was I supposed to do in the face of evidence like that? My resolve quickly weakened as more and more FFXII gameplay details and favourable impressions began to pour in, and before I knew it I was running to my local EB to preorder my copy of the metal-encased Collector's Edition, which I purchased in full this past Tuesday. What can I say-- I'm weak. Surely you don't expect me to remain firm in my resolve in the face of shit like this video of the intro? Come ON people, I'm only human. And besides, early reports seem to indicate that it is definitely not a purchase that I will come to regret.

Unlike Final Fantasy XII, I've not had a moment's doubt about the new Legend of Zelda game, Twilight Princess. Even though I'm not one of the twelve-year-olds who derided The Wind Waker for looking too "kiddy" and thus missed out on a great game and have gone for years without a Zelda fix, I still needs me ma' Zelda somethin' baaaaad. I've had Twilight Princess pre-ordered for almost two years, since before it was moved to the Wii, and the wait has become almost unbearable. Nintendo put up a new trailer for the game this week, and it really made me realize how entirely unable I am to look at this stuff objectively. I don't think that the new trailer is really all that impressive, but it just triggers something primitive inside me that I don't quite understand, a kind of fundamental yearning that I am entirely powerless to resist. It literally causes a physical reaction in me-- a kind of swelling in my chest, coupled with a light tingling sensation all over my body and a feeling of weightlessness, a kind of diffuse joy and wonder that permeates the entirety of my being, from my body to my soul. It doesn't make sense to me that a video game should be able to trigger a reaction like that in me, but it does. The Legend of Zelda series has given me some of the greatest gameplay experiences of my life, and even if I find out that this game is awful when I bring it home in just over two weeks' time (which I am 100% confident will not be the case), it's still fucking ZELDA, and that's all that matters. Now excuse me while I shut off my brain for a while and re-live some of the happiest moments of my childhood...

1 Comments:

Anonymous Craig said...

Unfortunately I don't get the buzz I had as a kid when I come home with a new game.

I distinctly remember my first system (Atari 2600) and the first game, Berzerk. Such a simple game on a simple system but I played it unceasingly for hours. I was blown away when I first played Pitfall!. I never did make it to the end, #!@$ 20 minute time limit!!

I still enjoy the games but I guess I'm somewhat jaded now. The technology was just so new and exciting back then.

Monday, November 06, 2006 2:51:00 PM  

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