Revisiting the Nemesis

Posted by MrCHUP0N (244 posts) -

  Sometimes your initial evaluation of a game comes when you're at a point in your life when you're either not ready for, interested in, or understanding of what it has to offer. You might not be able to grasp its complexities; you might be too impatient; you might miss what lies deep inside the gameplay because of another potential flaw that you just can't ignore. Whatever the case may be, you might look back on it and think to yourself, "Maybe I should give it another shot. Maybe I should 'play it right' this time."

For me, that game is Final Fantasy VIII.

By my own recollections, Final Fantasy VIII was the most divisive entry in the Final Fantasy series at the height of its popularity. There was an even split within the small group of my personal friends who had played it: three of us sang its praises, and three of us lambasted it. (This continued with acquaintances I made online on the GameFAQs forums, though I can't quite recall if it was anywhere near an even split.) The positives were typical for a Final Fantasy game: ambitious story; well-directed and pretty cutscenes; an innovative new gameplay system; and tons of nooks and crannies to explore.

I countered with the typical "get up and make a sandwich" arguments: call up a Guardian Force mid-battle (this game's version of summons and/or espers), and you'd probably have enough time to set down the controller and make yourself a quick ham-and-cheese. I had a problem with the tedium of the Draw system, which had you siphoning magic spells from enemies or from specific points in world and area maps. I further took issue with the way this turned magic into a commodity--stocking 99 instances of Cure took something away from the spirit of a magic spell, making it seem less like something earned by, owned by, or inherent within a character and more like a six-pack you'd pick up at the market. The Junctioning system would have paid off for it--had I not cast it aside due to being frustrated by the former issues. I can recall summoning Guardian Forces through 97% of my gameplay experience--which spanned across the first three discs before I decided enough was enough--and doing just fine.

Over the years since I stopped playing Final Fantasy VIII (since 2000), I started to wonder where it all went wrong for me. I was in college and I (supposedly) had more time to muck around, which I theorize to mean that there was more time for my faux-A.D.D. to kick in and demand that I spend less time waiting for a Guardian Force animation to finish. No, instead I should actually be "playing" my games--failing at Bushido Blade, slicing up fools in Soul Calibur, dunking and shotblocking in NBA 2K1, learning abilities and throwing out Eidolons in the leaner, simpler Final Fantasy IX and busting out sick moves in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3. Yet, every so often I'd look back at the Junction system, rich with possibilities for tailoring even the smallest aspects of your characters to make them more effective in battle. Sure, I didn't exactly need to use it in my playtime, which was what ultimately led me to give up on the entire game. But what if I decided to give it another shot and play it "correctly"?

The desire to revisit the game reached another level when, on our podcast (The Trigames.NET Podcast), I was discussing something I heard on Gameslaves Radio--a (sadly) now defunct independent gaming podcast featuring Pete (a.k.a. Ryvvn, who is now a cast member on our show)--about God of War not being entirely enjoyable due to its button-mash nature. Any of us who's played and enjoyed God of War know that there are benefits to be had by actually executing hard-hitting, lengthy combos to maximize the amount of red orbs you get from enemies, thereby increasing your potential to learn special moves. Pete's contention, however, was the same as mine with Final Fantasy VIII: He didn't have to do anything other than mash and dodge to succeed at the game, so he just mashed and dodged. "Play it with technique in mind," I countered, "and you'll see how it benefits you and enhances your experience." Hmm--maybe I should try following my own advice.

The tipping point came when I started playing Titan Quest. Known affectionately as the best Diablo clone out there by I imagine quite a few people, Titan Quest was a game that I enjoyed enough to keep playing for some length of time without getting sick of it. I got sick of Diablo and Diablo II back when they were released, what with the incessant clicking, so what was different this time? I was in a different mindset: I was chasing after items so that I could apply runes to them, upgrade them, and see what I could come up with. I was enjoying the less brutally obvious aspects of the game, specifically its customization opportunities. I finally looked past the annoying mechanics of a PC-based, click-and-slash action-RPG. There's no reason I couldn't try the same with Final Fantasy VIII.

My cohost on the podcast, Al, beat me to the punch and started playing it again. Hearing him talk about Junctioning, refinement and Guardian Force abilities finally sealed the deal, and I started replaying Final Fantasy VIII on Sunday night. I'm eager to find out if I'll be able to overlook my previous issues with the game and explore the depths of its gameplay systems. Past Final Fantasy VIII, I think the bigger picture here is finding out whether or not I can go back and enjoy--from renewed perspectives--games with which I previously became disillusioned. Luigi's Mansion (GCN), F-Zero: Maximum Velocity (GBA), Shadow of the Colossus (PS2) and the aforementioned Diablo and Diablo II--if I'm able to come away from Final Fantasy VIII unscathed, these are all titles that I hope to revisit some day.

What about you? Are there any games you cast aside back in the day, only to return years later to restart it from the beginning with a renewed mindset? What were the results?

#1 Posted by MrCHUP0N (244 posts) -

  Sometimes your initial evaluation of a game comes when you're at a point in your life when you're either not ready for, interested in, or understanding of what it has to offer. You might not be able to grasp its complexities; you might be too impatient; you might miss what lies deep inside the gameplay because of another potential flaw that you just can't ignore. Whatever the case may be, you might look back on it and think to yourself, "Maybe I should give it another shot. Maybe I should 'play it right' this time."

For me, that game is Final Fantasy VIII.

By my own recollections, Final Fantasy VIII was the most divisive entry in the Final Fantasy series at the height of its popularity. There was an even split within the small group of my personal friends who had played it: three of us sang its praises, and three of us lambasted it. (This continued with acquaintances I made online on the GameFAQs forums, though I can't quite recall if it was anywhere near an even split.) The positives were typical for a Final Fantasy game: ambitious story; well-directed and pretty cutscenes; an innovative new gameplay system; and tons of nooks and crannies to explore.

I countered with the typical "get up and make a sandwich" arguments: call up a Guardian Force mid-battle (this game's version of summons and/or espers), and you'd probably have enough time to set down the controller and make yourself a quick ham-and-cheese. I had a problem with the tedium of the Draw system, which had you siphoning magic spells from enemies or from specific points in world and area maps. I further took issue with the way this turned magic into a commodity--stocking 99 instances of Cure took something away from the spirit of a magic spell, making it seem less like something earned by, owned by, or inherent within a character and more like a six-pack you'd pick up at the market. The Junctioning system would have paid off for it--had I not cast it aside due to being frustrated by the former issues. I can recall summoning Guardian Forces through 97% of my gameplay experience--which spanned across the first three discs before I decided enough was enough--and doing just fine.

Over the years since I stopped playing Final Fantasy VIII (since 2000), I started to wonder where it all went wrong for me. I was in college and I (supposedly) had more time to muck around, which I theorize to mean that there was more time for my faux-A.D.D. to kick in and demand that I spend less time waiting for a Guardian Force animation to finish. No, instead I should actually be "playing" my games--failing at Bushido Blade, slicing up fools in Soul Calibur, dunking and shotblocking in NBA 2K1, learning abilities and throwing out Eidolons in the leaner, simpler Final Fantasy IX and busting out sick moves in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3. Yet, every so often I'd look back at the Junction system, rich with possibilities for tailoring even the smallest aspects of your characters to make them more effective in battle. Sure, I didn't exactly need to use it in my playtime, which was what ultimately led me to give up on the entire game. But what if I decided to give it another shot and play it "correctly"?

The desire to revisit the game reached another level when, on our podcast (The Trigames.NET Podcast), I was discussing something I heard on Gameslaves Radio--a (sadly) now defunct independent gaming podcast featuring Pete (a.k.a. Ryvvn, who is now a cast member on our show)--about God of War not being entirely enjoyable due to its button-mash nature. Any of us who's played and enjoyed God of War know that there are benefits to be had by actually executing hard-hitting, lengthy combos to maximize the amount of red orbs you get from enemies, thereby increasing your potential to learn special moves. Pete's contention, however, was the same as mine with Final Fantasy VIII: He didn't have to do anything other than mash and dodge to succeed at the game, so he just mashed and dodged. "Play it with technique in mind," I countered, "and you'll see how it benefits you and enhances your experience." Hmm--maybe I should try following my own advice.

The tipping point came when I started playing Titan Quest. Known affectionately as the best Diablo clone out there by I imagine quite a few people, Titan Quest was a game that I enjoyed enough to keep playing for some length of time without getting sick of it. I got sick of Diablo and Diablo II back when they were released, what with the incessant clicking, so what was different this time? I was in a different mindset: I was chasing after items so that I could apply runes to them, upgrade them, and see what I could come up with. I was enjoying the less brutally obvious aspects of the game, specifically its customization opportunities. I finally looked past the annoying mechanics of a PC-based, click-and-slash action-RPG. There's no reason I couldn't try the same with Final Fantasy VIII.

My cohost on the podcast, Al, beat me to the punch and started playing it again. Hearing him talk about Junctioning, refinement and Guardian Force abilities finally sealed the deal, and I started replaying Final Fantasy VIII on Sunday night. I'm eager to find out if I'll be able to overlook my previous issues with the game and explore the depths of its gameplay systems. Past Final Fantasy VIII, I think the bigger picture here is finding out whether or not I can go back and enjoy--from renewed perspectives--games with which I previously became disillusioned. Luigi's Mansion (GCN), F-Zero: Maximum Velocity (GBA), Shadow of the Colossus (PS2) and the aforementioned Diablo and Diablo II--if I'm able to come away from Final Fantasy VIII unscathed, these are all titles that I hope to revisit some day.

What about you? Are there any games you cast aside back in the day, only to return years later to restart it from the beginning with a renewed mindset? What were the results?

#2 Posted by lordofultima (6208 posts) -

Dude, I love Final Fantasy VIII, definitely my favorite numbered FF game. Games that I cast aside back in the day I have never gone back to really, not that old anyway. I cast aside Dead Space for like a year and then played it again and I was like "holy shit this game is awesome." But other than that, no.

#3 Posted by MrCHUP0N (244 posts) -

I tried doing this with the original Diablo. Within half an hour, my index finger got tired, so I stopped. This game is faring much better, thankfully :)

#4 Posted by Khantael (162 posts) -

The Legend of Dragoon, which I seem fated never to finish. I cast it aside years ago, decided to try again. The game broke on disc 1. Bought a new copy. The game broke on disc 2. Bought a new copy. 
 
...You see where this is going! 
 
I love Final Fantasy 8 though, so looking forward to this.

#5 Posted by Cerza (1653 posts) -

Hey I read this on GameSpot and your follow up article there as well. Nice to see you posting here on Giant Bomb. I had a similar experience with Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest. I hated the game when it first came out, as did everyone else I knew. However, I went back and started playing it again from the beginning many years later and I don't know how or why, but I got it with what that game was trying to do. I understood what it was all about and quite enjoyed it from beginning to end despite it's flaws.

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