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This Is Why I Suck at RPGs

All right, let me explain why I have never been, am not, and probably never will be good at role-playing games. Because I ALWAYS CHOOSE THE WRONG DAMN OPTION.

Yesterday afternoon, for old times’ sake, I decided to break out Final Fantasy VII. Yes, for the original PlayStation. It was the game that kept my high school friends occupied for days (if not weeks) back in 1997, and it looked fun so I bought a copy for myself. I spent a few days on-and-off trying to get into it, and could never quite find the groove. It always seemed like I was screwing up by making the wrong decisions when presented with a dialog fork, or not knowing where to go, or not understanding the seemingly obvious things I was supposed to do to keep my characters alive.

I remember abandoning, and then restarting, FFVII three or four times over the years since then, and I always had the exact same experience. Then, the other way I was reminded of this game again — I can’t even remember how — and decided to get it out of mothballs yet again. (Strangely, for not having touched it for years, I knew exactly where the game was.) So I popped it in, stared agog at the low-res super-deformed graphics and tried to recall when this was state-of-the-art, then grit my teeth and gave it another shot.

And I made the same goddamn mistake again.

I TOLD AERIS TO GO AWAY!

My brain is simply not built for these games. I do not understand why. When Cloud encounters Aeris (the beautiful flower girl) during his escape from Mako Reactor #1, Aeris asks what’s going on, and the player is given two dialog choices to respond with. One is “”Nothing…hey, listen…” and the other is “You’d better get out of here.” My memory must fail me, because I ALWAYS CHOOSE THE SECOND ONE. My rationale is this: Hey, this girl is a major character who I eventually want to be on friendly terms with, so I shouldn’t lie to the chick, right? After all, “Nothing” is most certainly not what’s happening. And secondly, I just blew up a friggin’ reactor and there are armed guards chasing me. It’s probably not a very safe place to be, so I should tell her to get out of the area, right?

Of course, this is wrong, because if you tell Aeris to “get out of here,” you apparently don’t get to join up with her later in the game. Of course, it’s not required that this happen later, but she’s kind of a big part of the game that I guess you otherwise don’t get to experience. The funny thing is, I discovered that this was the wrong option by looking it up in an online game guide. That’s funny only because I looked up the same information eight years ago and realized my mistake then, too.

I suppose I’ll go reload from an earlier save point and try it again, but God…that was like the first dialog fork in the entire three-disc game. How many more times am I going to make the wrong choice before this is over? Or perhaps a better question would be, how much longer do I have before the PS1 pixelation gives me a huge headache?

4 thoughts on “This Is Why I Suck at RPGs

  1. Rule of thumb: always make conversation with everyone. =P Even if that would be realistically a bad thing to do (heh, I played through that bit the other day, too, coincidentally).

    I hear you about the pixelation, though — it’s bad in Final Fantasy VIII and IX, and atrocious in VII. Then again, these are PS1 titles that are over half a decade old. Try playing the old NES or SNES Final Fantasies sometime for a REAL headache.

  2. Hehe, yeah, I started to figure that out and promptly went ahead and started yakking to everybody, even Gossip Girl (Boy? Too much pixelation to tell) in town. Of course I just love those dialog forks where both of your choices are equally rude, like “Blow off” and “I don’t care about your stories.”

    Yeah, the pixelation is real bad, but of course that’s just the nature of eight-year-old software. Although I’d swear it looked better on the PS1, because I recently relived a few of my other PS1 titles (including Street Fighter EX+Alpha) and they were looking way shittier than I remember. Then again, I am looking at this stuff on a huge rear-projection TV screen, so I’m sure that’s got something to do with it too — back then I was using a 17″ direct-view CRT.

    I can only imagine what the 8-bit (or even 16-bit) FF games must have looked like! After playing FFVII for that short time, though, now I want to see FFX.

  3. You know, right after I posted my comment I realized “Yeah, he’s playing all those old titles on a huge HDTV, too!”, which probably accounts for some of the eye-searing quality. I imagine it’s not quite so bad on my smaller CRT unit.

    You should definitely give FFX a try. It’s still got some pixelation issues (after all, it’s a three year old PS/2 title, not a brand new HD-ready Xbox title), but at least you can generally tell male from female (except in the case of the big, blue, furry Ronsos…and perhaps the Guados…), and it’s a billion light years away graphically from FFVII. Though the main character is a dude with pointy yellow hair. And there’s a soft-spoken brunette white mage. But that’s every Final Fantasy, essentially.

    But you know me…Mr. RPG. I liked Xenogears, for God’s sake.

  4. And, after thinking about it some more, I think that Aeris/Aerith will join your party regardless (am I the only one who remembers the great Final Fantasy VII fanboy war over whether the character’s name is Aeris or Aerith? The name is actually the latter but the Japanese katakana spells out the former — and that’s what she’s called in the translation, too, obviously — so of course all the hardcore fanboys were all like “OMG YOU ARE SUCH A LAMER FOR CALLING HER AERIS D00DZ!!!1” — I think it was second only to “Tifa or Aeris?” in lame FFVII fanboy wars).

    Anyway, I say that you’d probably get Aeris regardless because she plays a central role in the game. And besides, even if you don’t blow her off when she offers you the flower, she still doesn’t join right then. You actually go through some more recator blowing-up shizz and what not before you eventually meet up with Aeris again and (if I’m not mistaken) joins up with you regardless to how you acted toward her earlier. I think mostly whether or not you act nice toward the girls determines who Cloud goes on a date with later — if you treat so and so nicely, they’ll go on the date. I’ve even read that if you treat all the girls shitty enough, Barret (the big black dude) will go on the date with Cloud!

    But anyway, there are optional characters in that game — Vincent Valentine is the first that springs to mind. I think Yuffie is, too…maybe. There are so many characters, and it’s been so long since I’ve played through it that I’ve plum forgotten. But I’m almost certain Aeris is not one of those optional characters (as I said, she’s quite central to the game’s plot).

    Okay, shutting up now…

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