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?