Mired in Epicity

Why, oh why in the hell did I start a new game of Final Fantasy X? Classify this decision under drunken blunder, because there is no fucking way I’m going to see it through this year, or any other year I have to leave the house to make a living.

Completing Skyward Sword was a great feat and historical family moment, but it left an emptiness that my son still laments to this day. In my initial attempt to fill this gap, I used the recent triumph as justification to purchase another classic title that ultimately belongs in my library and give Final Fantasy X another chance. I first played this game in the summer following my graduation from university and do not remember it so fondly. I thought the characters were rather lame, the airship-as-a-warp-zone being completely unforgivable, and Blitzball being the shittiest mandatory minigame contrivance ever littered into an adventure story.

I’m pretty much over the airship thing, but that’s about all that’s changed since then.

I probably wouldn’t have even thought to pick this game up again, but the fact is that I never completed it. By the time I reached the final area, I had been recruited to work overseas, and shipped out before I could finish the game. At least, that’s the excuse I usually use. The truth is that the difficulty:interest ratio had widened so irreparably that it was all I could do to take down the boss that allowed me to say I had reached the final area.

Yum yum, Final Fantasy X. It’s hailed as one of the greats. So great that they even made a direct sequel to it. Revolutionary sphere grid leveling system and shit. PS2 hardware boasting the best graphics of its time. Radar. Itchy palms. Nasal congestion. Brain lesions.

One thing I actually like in this game is the fighting. Strategically switching your party members in and out makes it a thinkier game than your average level-ground power party romp. Unfortunately though, deep down I just wanted all my characters to die. And I don’t know if I’m racist or something, but I can’t fucking stand the English voice acting in this game, either. Yes, I bought the International version so that I could play through the game in crystal clear English. A big mistake that cost me more than the seven dollars difference from a standard Japanese copy. In my ear, the English dialogue sounds like a series of impetuous squawking and snooty moose calls. Combined with Tidus’s uncanny valleyed-out Chucky doll face, I wish Sin would just consume all of Spira and become Unicron or something give-a-fuckable about.

Oh, and the music – love the music. Some of the last classic Uematsu melodies we’ll ever hear, probably. I’m particularly partial to the theme, “To Zanarkand,” and was surprised that not a lot of people know that there are lyrics to it:

This game is a waste of time
You should go play FFIX
Why go to Zanarkand
When you’ve got a working mind?

For the first twelve hours, I spent nearly equal time between playing the game and mapping out how I would level all the characters on the sphere grid. The International version opens up all paths to all characters rather than streamlining them into predefined classes. While not quite as limiting as FFXII Intl.’s Zodiac Job System, making shitty choices is really, really hard to correct. So I mapped out the path in order to have my choices already made for the the first 40 or so hours. It was going all right for awhile, and we had a couple of memorably tense boss fights. But it just wasn’t like the quality time we had spent playing Skyward Sword.

My boy is already a die-hard Zelda fan, and though he expressed an interest in Final Fantasy X, it was not at all playable for him, plus it was just a little too grotesque for a three-year old, according to his mother. I had to agree, and we found ourselves beginning a game of Zelda: The Wind Waker, which is a beautiful game, well-received and mother approved. This is what we should have done immediately upon completion of Skyward Sword, and I recognize that now.

But then came the PS3 which disrupted everything and has us switching back and forth between Zelda and Xillia and making true progress very difficult to achieve in either game. And then I bought Grand Theft Auto IV again because it was 10 bucks. Shit on me.

I’m like a gambler going deeper and deeper in debt to some really weird loan shark. Will these games ever be finished? And will I ever reach a point where I’m so satisfied with my many achievements that I say, “Good for me. My work now is done.” and hang it all up? Never! Because by that time, it’ll be time to play Final Fantasy VII for the forty-fifth time and start gearing up to do a winter run of Chrono Trigger that I never seem to fucking follow through with. Then I’ll get on another Sierra kick and start dissing all of the precious gems of my childhood again, and somehow still never have finished this current game of Dragon Quest VIII!

It’s a good thing I never did heroin, because I hear that it’s as addictive as video games. The only difference is that with video games, you can recycle the needles and cotton and even the junk again and again and again. William S. Burroughs theorized that the cell-rejuvenation caused by the introduction of morphine to the system could indefinitely extend one’s life – as long as there was an infinite supply of the drug to continue the process. So perhaps the real reason I started that game of FFX was to try out a new flavor of immortality.

Yes, I’ll go with that. Question answered, problem solved. Circle of life, cycle of addiction. Hakuna Matada and I like Ike. Let us clink our boxes of wine – to Zanarkand, and wasting time.


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