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Saturday, July 30, 2005

Console RPGs I Completed Throughout The Past Decade (1994-2005). (Part 1)

I have wanted to write this since early last year, when it was exactly a decade since I started playing console RPGs (role-playing games, to the uninitiated), but I decided to let the year went by first so that my list of completed RPGs in 2004 can be complete as well. Note that this feature is only for console RPGs, and not the PC ones (or I'll have to elaborate on the months and months I've spent on Morrowind, my god). For Part 1, I shall focus only on the 1994-1996 period, when I was only 10-12, and was just starting to play console RPGs. Young and idealistic, it was this very period where I fell in love with console RPGs.

Anyway, early last year, during my unfortunate stint as a committee member in a Malaysian anime convention (resigned since then, thankfully), I was discredited by a certain dumbass who happened to be the boyfriend of one of the top-ranking committee members for being lazy by spending most of my time chatting in the forum, and also playing my (then) newly-bought PS2.

I assume that he was trying to insult me, but I would never know, considering that the guy's one of the dumbest retards I've ever met in my life. I never bothered to listen to him, after all, I think he wanted me to be hardworking like him. And I think being hardworking like him meant that I have to be a petty little piece of shit like him eager to start flame wars on the Internet with other people in other anime conventions, and then whining constantly on his own silly little blog about how the world does not understand his goodwill, and how he's just sick and tired of everything. Sometimes, I wish I were as stupid as he when I'm in my mid-20s, so I can spend the rest of my life being a deluded piece of trash living in a trashcan without any worries of the outside world except for people who 'offend' him on the Internet. Unfortunately, considering how remarkably intelligent I am now, it takes a miracle for me to ever become as dumb as he. What a pity.

But yes, video games had been a major part of my life. So the aforementioned dumbass was really stating the obvious by saying that I play too much. I've been playing video games since I was 4-5, with my earliest console being one of those Atari machines where you can play Pac-Man. (I remembered there was this super-difficult Smurfs game as well where I fall repeatedly into this bottomless void)

Despite being rather decent in fighting games (the old school 2D ones, not the 3D ones), I am mediocre in most action games, never in my life have I ever completed a single level in a MEGAMAN game!!!! (I did complete some Mario games though) So 80% of my video gaming time is usually used on RPGs.

1994-1996: BEGINNINGS

1991, I got a Game Boy for my birthday present, 1995, I got a Super Nintendo (SNES). The earliest RPGs I've ever played are obviously GB and SNES ones. This is a period when I was just introduced to RPGs, and aren't very good at it. Besides, it doesn't help much that I was only a kid then, thus making me not as super-intelligent as I am now.

Here we go!

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1) Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Game Boy)
completed: 1994 or 1995
A birthday gift by mom when I was 10 (1994), to me, The Legend of Zelda is quite possibly one of the greatest Game Boy games ever made (along with, er, Tetris, and those Mario/Wario games). Great graphics (for a Game Boy game) and a nice soundtrack, I was instantly hooked, and was driven nuts by the puzzles in the dungeons.

Thankfully, there is this infamous 'teleporting' trick (a glitch, actually, it's hard to explain but anyone who had played this will know) that made things much easier for young Swifty. A heartbreaking ending where you had to say goodbye to a world you had grown to love, I remembered this game was completed while I was in an airport in America. Can't remember which one though. I am ashamed to say that this will end up being the only game of the fabled Zelda series I've ever finished (I was near the ending of Nintendo 64's Ocarina of Time last year though, which is another fantastic, fantastic game)

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2) Final Fantasy Legends 3 (Game Boy)
completed: 1994 or 1995
Bought it in New York, either in 1994 or 1995 (these were the only two years I've been to NY), Final Fantasy Legends 3 is not exactly a real Final Fantasy game, (it's actually a Romancing Saga game in Japan, just renamed as Final Fantasy for commercial value) made obvious by its very weak soundtrack (somewhat catchy though).

It has a good storyline where you get to time-travel to the past, present and future. But unfortunately, like most old-school RPGs, there's zero character development. There are four characters for you to use in the game, but only the main guy actually SPEAKS throughout the entire game. Damn. If I'm in a quest to save the world, and I'm accompanied by three other people who don't talk at all, I'll kill myself. The last boss was hard, but even as a kid, I was gifted with a strong sense of determination, so after gazillion tries, I managed to defeat it.

Shitty ending though.

3) Final Fantasy 6 (3 in US) (Super Nintendo)
completed: 1995
This is it. The very game that changed my life. The only Final Fantasy game where I replayed 3-4 times (I usually leave a FF game aside after I'm done with it, ditto with all other RPGs I've played since then) even though it had the same ending. I can't describe what a huge impact this game had on me, from then on, I started collecting Final Fantasy games and their soundtracks (and in my opinion, FF6 has the greatest soundtrack of them all!) It was a birthday present from dad in 1995, I was 11, I was so happy that I almost burst into tears, so insanely happy.

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Each and every single one of the character in the game (unlike the subsequent FF games, this doesn't really have a 'main' character, so you can choose anyone to be your that, it's all up to you) burnt deep into my soul, I cared about them more than I cared for any other FF characters out there. Til this day, I remember the insanely psychotic lines by main villain Kefka. Hell, I think FF6 has the most quotable quotes ever in a FF game.

What a game. If I go overboard with it, I might actually use an entire novel to write my childhood experience with Final Fantasy 6, the impact it has in my life. How much I love it and crap like that, but that will destroy the ultra-cool image I'm trying to maintain now, so I'll have to move along now.

4) Chrono Trigger (SNES)
completed: 1995
Another classic. With insanely beautiful graphics, and another sublime soundtrack, this game pierced through my heart with its greatness and timelessness. I needed only a week or two to complete the game, but I could still remember the insanely epic final battles I waged against the last boss, Lavos. No matter how powerful I've trained my characters, it seemed to present some sort of challenge that left young Swifty shrieking in excitement and ecstacy.

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I returned to this game numerous times, since it had multiple endings and all, and I never really got bored with it. Like FF6, this game has a cast of unforgettable characters that will stay with you almost forever (Magus is the most badass character ever!). I loved this game so much that I ended up being very disappointed with its PS sequel, Chrono Cross (still a very good game though), and never really had the chance to complete it.

5) Mario RPG
completed: 1996
When 32-bit consoles like Sega Saturn and Sony Playstation are being released at this period, I remained attached to my Super Nintendo, because of the awesome RPGs available only for this system at that time. Mario RPG is a fine example of another classic that I reminisce with fondness. Imagine this! To see Mario and Bowser fighting side by side? I went apeshit at this improbable pairing! It was like seeing the Ninja Turtles fighting side by side with Shredder, or Optimus Prime with Megatron! With dazzling graphics that pushed the SNES to its limits, and reinforcing the fact that it kicks the Sega Genesis/Megadrive's ass (c'mon, besides Sonic and to a lesser extent, Shining Force, the Genesis just ain't such a cool machine) Unfortunately, this is also the game where I start developing the habit of NEVER replaying a RPG. So I've only seen the bittersweet ending (goodbye, Geno!!!!) once before moving on.

6) Secret of Mana
completed: 1996
Ironically, the last game I ever finished in this period happens to be the very first RPG I got for my SNES. The reason why it took me such a long time to finish it is because I was stricken with bad luck, and many times when I was near the ending, my save files miraculously got deleted, thus driving me bonkers. In the end, I had to finish the other games first before tackling this one again.

I can still remember when I first got Secret of Mana, I was staring, nay, GAPING at the title screen. Such a beautiful soundtrack! And the sight of the three protagonists standing before the majestic Mana Tree... holy crap... I almost wet myself. Being an action RPG, of course it was much more frustrating to me compared to the turn-based ones I'm more used to. But it remains the BEST multiplayer action RPG ever. And I seriously hope that there will be more multiplayer action RPG in the future. The world needs it! You hear me? THE WORLD NEEDS MORE MULTIPLAYER ACTION RPGS!

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And that's the end of part 1 of this feature. The SNES and Game Boy era was almost dreamlike to me as I couldn't really find any faults in the RPGs I've completed. And to many now, these SNES RPGs I mentioned above are still regarded as classics.