So, if you've been following my Twitter lately, you'll recall my elation (read: tantamount relief) in finally beating a game I purchased on the Wii's virtual console, Breath of Fire 2.
A game that I purchased right after completing A Link to the Past and have played consistently.
Honestly, the gameplay investment felt equivalent to passing a kidney stone. I know there are some long games out there, but this...this was a LONG-ASS GAME.
I think it was around the 2-month mark when I finally said "f*ck it" and consulted the help of a walkthrough - something that I NEVER EVER do and have NEVER EVER done prior to playing this game (except to blatantly cheat or to give characters gargantuan-sized heads...but THAT'S a rant for another time).
So BOF 2 is done, but I've decided to take a break from RPGs for a while. Don't get me wrong - I love RPGs, especially the JRPGs of the earlier consoles, but I needed to take a sabbatical because a) the Wii hasn't added any games I've wanted to play since aught-07, and b) because I need to time to reflect on the cold-hard fact that...maybe I'm not as adept at playing video games as I thought I was.
The signs are all there. My brother consistently whups my butt at fighting games (most painfully, Smash Bros. where he just beats the unholy ish outta my fighting-Irish Pikachu), and I'm a veritable failure at any racing game that doesn't begin with the words "Diddy Kong".
Don't even get me started on sports titles.
So I thought I would be the family’s RPG expert. My first real experience was with the Pokémon series. Sure, in a link-cable pokémon battle my brother still came out on top, but I took pride in the knowledge that I played the game to completion. While he was busy powering up his Charizard and the rest of his party to obscene levels (“How the fack is a 6-on-1 battle fair in Pokemon Stadium if your Pidgeot's level 72??!”), I was accruing bragging rants by capturing the legendary birds and spending my weekends bartering with neighboring friends to bolster my Pokédex. I can safely classify capturing all 150 inaugural pokémon as one of the greatest accomplishments of my existence. Take from that what you will.
Pokemon robbed me of a conventional adolescence!
Anyway, for the longest time, I used to think I was pretty game-savvy, even if wasn't one of the best. Up until my teens I thought I knew everything that I needed to know about video games.
Then I saw the first annual VGAs on Spike TV.
No, I'm not getting into what's already been said ad nauseum by gamers and anti-misogynists alike (and I'm CERTAINLY not touching the much-maligned Angry Joe fiasco with a 10-foot pole - again, that's another rant), but I credit this moment as the first time the realization hit me that: "Hey...maybe I'm not a hardcore gamer. Maybe these games aren't for me”.
Going back to the 90s, I was a Nintendo child, so I lived blissfully unaware in my child-friendly bubble of Super Mario World, Sim City, Pilotwings and the like. I still remember predicting Wind Waker as the runaway victor for the VGAs; imagine my surprise when, not only did Wind Waker not win ANYTHING, but - save for a few titles we owned on Gamecube - I didn't recognize ANY of the nominated games.
After that moment, what seemed like a fairly gender-neutral industry turned out to be a testosterone-driven virtual warzone. I was a long way from the bright, vibrant, candy-coated colours of games like Yoshi's Story and Mischief Makers; I was suddenly more aware of these "mature" games, these gory zombie games, these hard-hitting, military first-person-shooter games with their depressing color palettes of muted grays and browns.
So what am I getting at?
Well, I've learned to accept the gaming industry for what it has become...actually let me rephrase that: thanks to web series such as "The Angry Video Game Nerd", I've learned there has always been a mature market that catered to gamers - it was just sterilized and glossed over with a kid-friendly veneer in the 90s and I was too young and blind to notice. Games like Breath of Fire 2 taught me that tackling heady subject matter like religion is nothing new – it’s just more out in the open.
Which brings me back to the RPGs. I'm still going to play them; RPGs are my favorite genre of games (and one of the few I can consistently beat; I’m in my 20s and A Link to the Past was the first Zelda game I’ve ever completed).
One of the perks of getting older is having a little bit of disposable income to purchase all those old games I used to see in gaming magazines but never have the opportunity to play. For example: I spotted a copy of Lagoon at our local used game shop. I distinctly remembered this game because of its 1-page spread in the Super NES Players Guide magazine that I happened to own at the time. I was soo excited to get my hands on this game, after all these years.
Mind you, I was just a stupid kid back then, and had not yet developed my own sense of cynicism or an accute detection of B.S. There's a reason certain games get only a 1-page spread in a 300+ page magazine.
Again...that's another topic for another time.