Monday, 10 June 2013

The Day I discovered Final Fantasy

listen to this link whilst reading... 

So, yeah, I am a massive Final Fantasy fanboy...or at least I was until the last few games came out, but whatever, I'm going to tell you why that, objectively, final fantasy 7 is the greatest game ever, of all time.

The year was...*cough*...and I was but a wee child, young and wide eyed with the whole world before me and ready to experience the infinite possibility that is life as long as that infinite range was held to be within the heavily restrictive boundaries of my delightfully mentally scarring upbringing. I was in a step aunts house as my mother and father were in Ireland because reasons and me and my brother had been left in this house where the people basically thought of me as a stain because I wasn't to them technically a part of "the family" (thank you God for sparing me the curse of that DNA!) and so was told to bugger off and make myself scarce, which I totally did because well, wouldn't you? You would if you knew these people. Anyway, me and my brother went upstairs and we found my step cousin's PlayStation, so we played a few rounds of Tekken 2 and I think Ridge Racer? or maybe Rage Racer? Some racing game anyway, but it gets boring and we look for another game to play to waste time. Why were we wasting time? Because the one, bright spot of this whole day of being abandoned to the wonderfully abusive step-family was that that night there was going to be a Red Dwarf marathon on TV. It was to celebrate some anniversary or something, and they were doing a countdown of the best episodes, with a blooper reel and cast interviews and blah blah blah whatever! The point is that I was looking forward to it before I knew that I'd have to be watching it in the step-aunts house and at the time I thought of it as the only thing that I would be able to take solace in during that trial. Anyway, the point is that I ended up missing the red dwarf night.

Going back to looking for things to waste time, I picked up a game called yeah, you guessed it, Final Fantasy VII. I was hooked. From the very first haunting notes of the lifestream sparkling against a black background as though it were stars in Space, to the green glow illuminating Aeris' face (Yes, Aeris, fuck Aerith...that is honestly one of the reasons I hope VII never gets a remake, because they'll call her Aerith and I will have to become a murderer) that pans back and the reveal of the grimy Midgar streets...It was brilliant, just utterly fantastic. I've said before that one of the things that I really, genuinely love in this world is hope overcoming sadness/despair...and just that scene, right there, at the very start of the game, of the flower girl finding a small thing of beauty in a city so dark and grim...well, I can't think of too many better examples in a video game, hell in any form of entertainment, than that...and certainly none delivered so effectively early on.

I played it for about....eight...nine hours that night. I got up to Kalm and heard the first telling of Cloud's story about Sephiroth when I fell, most reluctantly, to sleep. I woke up the next day, eager to play it, but my mum was already there to pick me up. I asked if I could borrow the game, I needed to finish this thing, I needed to know what happened next, what happened to Cloud, Tifa and Aeris...I got laughed at. Not even a no, just a condescending laugh. To be fair, I would have had to have borrowed the PlayStation as well, as I was still only on the Mega Drive (I wouldn't get one until....three years later I think, this will come up again later) at this point, so yeah, I could understand the reason for the no, if not for the style with which it was delivered.

I forgot the name of the game. It seems mad now, but I genuinely forgot what it was called, and this was an age without the internet (well, at least for me and most of the world I guess) so I couldn't just google the character names to try and find out. So I forgot it until about four or five years later, probably five to be honest, when I was walking around a HMV with my step-father and siblings on one of the (note:here there be sarcasm) always fun and entertaining outings he'd occasionally take us on after having been divorced by my mum. Normally those trips would involve traipsing after the bastard as he went about doing shady errands or hanging around the betting shops (which is now why I can't abide, it actually worked out alright in that regard, thanks asshole stepdad :D) or helping him complete gardening work as unpaid help with all the free kicks from step-cousins I couldn't dodge thrown in as a bonus. But this time, in HMV, I re-discovered Final Fantasy VII.

To say that I overplayed that game is a bit like saying "yeah, that sun thing, well, it's a bit hot really, isn't it?" whilst on its surface. I've got several saves with times well over 100 hours, and many more at about the 50-100 hour marks. I did everything in that game. Well, nearly everything...I never managed to beat Ruby Weapon because of that stupid instant killing move thing that just hits whenever, and I was always unlucky enough to get hit by it in like the first wave of attacks. I knew the strategy of the having the other party members KO'd before engaging and all that crap, but ultimately that fight is based on luck and well, that ties into the second and final thing I never got to do in the game which is experience the 7777 attack. You see, late on in the game when you've got the best or near best weapons and are hitting about 8k or whatever, there's a chance that the damage counter will land on 7777 and if it does, the character goes berserk, hitting targets with a barrage of attacks, over and over, every hit landing for 7777 points of damage...this was actually also a strategy for beating Ruby Weapon, just keep re-loading and attacking and pray you hit all the 7s....but yeah, come on, really? It can happen but that kind of defeats the point of the whole exercise, don't you think?

I didn't complete it for a long while. Another thing about me that I've talked about in the past is that I have trouble finishing things, I tend to only ever halfway complete things mostly because I get bored (though this was not the case with FFVII, if anything I just wanted to start all over again) but also because I hate completing things, I hate things that are final. I like to very much live in that moment of potential, where anything is possible and can happen and I realise how bad that is because ultimately, living like that, nothing does happen...but anyway, I did complete FFVII. I had to know what happened to Cloud and Tifa (I was all about the Cloud-X-Tifa! pfft on Aeris, pfft! nah, I like Aeris, but Tifa was special because of that loyalty thing she had going on, plus karate!) and of course, the story was great. I loved that ending, so ambiguous...FFVII:AC kinda ruined it by defining it....but yeah, I loved it...immediately started the game again, because YEAH!

So erm, yeah, I really could talk about this all day, and night, and I'm sure that I've already bored the socks off of anyone mad/bored enough to read all this, so I'm going to stop now...well, in a minute, because, and just briefly, I've got to talk about the music of Final Fantasy VII (hence the link at the, it's just really nice to listen to as you read this, is what I was thinking). The Nobuo Uematsu is a frelling genius and I can't say enough good things about him. Just listen to his FF osts, from 6 - 10 and tell me you are not moved in some way, by at least one tune....I'll probably have to talk about him and video game music at some point, well, music in entertainment in general (got a theory about cartoon intros and that) and how it changes our perception of said entertainment....ah well, whatever, that's enough for now, later taters.

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