Sitting down on my couch with Playstation gamepad in hand is one of the least relaxing things I can think of. Videogames are far too frustrating and physicially challenging for my tired 25 yr old hands. They just leave me with a headache and a sore thumb. The challenge that most of today’s games present is one I can’t live up to. I was horrified when I read in a video game magazine’s preview of Final Fantasy VII that it would actually be harder to finish than the original Japanese version. That is the last thing I need, the best video game of all time, that I had been waiting for month after month is designed to kick my ass. I don’t have much time to play a 30 second bout in a fighting game, let alone a 50+ hour RPG. I really don’t have time to die and find my way back to that point. In anticipation of FFVII’s release and monumental challenge, I went to Asahiya Bookstore and bought a couple Japanese PSX magazines, a FFVII art book, and a FFVII strategy guide. I can’t read Japanese, I’m only in the first stages of halfheartedly learning the kana, so purchasing all this expensive foreign material is the most otaku geekout I could muster. To help me, I look at all the tiny screen shots, study the broken english titles for some clues, consider vandalizing my Playstation console with the free stickers included in the strategy guide, then I do all these over again, just to save some time and frustration when I’m playing the game. I start to sculpt Cloud Strife’s right leg for inspiration and in admiration of Squaresoft and after I step back to get a better perspective on the project I shelve the pathetic lump of clay. All this wasted time and money just so I don’t have to backtrack in a game where backtracking can be fun and beautiful. Rationalization: I am an otaku boyscout, always overly prepared with useless trivia about childish entertainment.
The monday of the week that FFVII is scheduled to arrive in the U.S. I purchase a thick domestic strategy guide from Brady Games. I read it from cover to cover, twice. I am still not ready. I didn’t get around to pre-ordering the game so I’m nervous that it will be sold out on its debut. Then, a day before its sceduled release I see a slip for it on the messy Toys r Us Playstation wall. I book downstairs to purchase the game and rush back to work, late from my lunch-break. Having a free moment, I cut the shrinkwrap with my fingernail and start reading the instructions, and then I notice a crack in the third CD. I split from work for a small break and run to the Toys r Us customer service counter. They replace the best videogame of all time.
To date (five months?), I’ve only played the game for 2 hours. I guess I psyched myself out. I can’t get up the courage to descend back into that wonderful world of the final fantasy that never ends.