I mentioned last week that Final Fantasy II was the stumbling block which caused me to quit my last attempt at a Final Fantasy series playthrough. What I don’t believe I’ve mentioned, however, is that it’s actually the only game in the series (barring, of course, the MMO titles) that I’ve never finished. As of now, that’s still the case; I did put quite a bit more time into it this week than I did last, but as far as I can tell, I’m still nowhere near the end. However, I did manage to break through the barrier that stumped me before, meaning that I’m now in the only real new Final Fantasy content I’m likely to see in this entire project.
I should be excited about this, and I am…sort of. Mostly, though, I’m still a bit paranoid, which has made me question whether these types of games are really “meant” for me anymore. Or, I suppose, if they’re meant for anyone.
Remember when video games were hard? I mean, really hard. Quarter-eatingly hard. Contra hard—nay, Battletoads hard. I do. And I’m not saying that I remember that time with fondness; I do, but not for that particular reason. Even as a small, impatient child, though, I still had far more time and focus available to punch my way through a difficult passage or level in a game simply for the satisfaction of getting to the other side.
As I’ve gotten older, that type of focus hasn’t disappeared from me entirely, but it has diminished considerably from what it once was. I’ll still sometimes get into a demanding game that requires repetition and extreme attention to detail, but for every Demon’s Souls or Binding of Isaac, there are what seem like countless other titles that I just can’t get into because the effort required doesn’t feel worth it.
This brings me back to Final Fantasy II. I’m not quite sure how to categorize this game, because it falls rather weirdly in relation to me personally. Even if I’d been into the series when it was first being released, I wouldn’t have been able to play this particular title, because (as I’ve mentioned before) it wasn’t originally available outside of Japan. The nostalgia factor is thus neutralized, and on its own merits, looked at in a vacuum, I simply don’t think FFII is a good enough game to stand up to everything that’s come between its original release and now. Its systems are weirdly complicated and obtuse, the battles spike wildly in difficulty, to the point where if you stray too far from where the storyline requires you to be, you’re almost instantly killed, and the plot and the characters…well, there IS a plot, and there ARE characters, which is more than can be said for Final Fantasy. They’re not particularly engaging, though, and the whole thing suffers from an over-reliance on its grinding mechanic (hardly a unique problem for JRPGs, I realize, but in combination with the other issues, it stands out here). Simply put, I feel like I’m doing too much work for not enough reward.
If I did have fond memories of this game from my childhood, perhaps I would feel differently. Maybe I’d be able to look back on the days I used to spend glued to my television, building up my team diligently and overcoming challenges in order to see what wonderful surprises awaited my party of adventurers and myself as we triumphed over adversity and… yeah, you know what? I still think eight-year-old me would have gotten pretty pissed off at having to thwack my own party members repeatedly with various pointy implements in order to survive long enough to get through a dungeon without dying enough times to make me say swear words I’m SURE I must not have known back then. I certainly do now, though, and they’re coming in pretty handy.
WEEK 5 PROGRESS: 13 hours 25 minutes into Final Fantasy II