Sunday, February 24, 2013

Everything Stinks Part 1: JRPGs Aug 10, 2010 11:50AM PST

This is first in a series of rants, funny and unfunny, poorly thought out and...

Anyway, these rants will eventually cover every genre of videogame and something I hate about each. Those of you who can't stand negativity even when done in loving jest need not apply. Some of them may feature multiple games, while some I dislike so much I've played very little (RTS), but I'll have something to say on each and I'll gladly take requests on what next to do. Some of these will be narrative format, some will just be quick, blunt complaints, some could take on a whole other form.

So, without further ado, anyone who gets their panties in a bunch over something said here will be mocked and ridiculed accordingly. It's a joke (mostly... kind of... well just screw you for questioning my judgement really), calm down you Sean Penns of the interwebs. Starting with JRPGs because everyone who follows me already knows where this is going.

Jay Sherman on JRPGs


I have an especially strong brand of disdain for the turn-based, random-battle RPG, not because they're particularly bad for what they are, but because I've been tricked into buying them for a long time. I've always known I had simple taste in videogames, being raised on Mario, shooters, and similarly linear and action-oriented fare, but goddamnit if RPGs didn't have to look so shiny. I was always somewhat of a "graphics-whore" as the gremlins at the local Gamestop liked to call it, so naturally when I saw RPG commercials with shit gettin' blowed up real good and realistic spiky-haired men of questionable sexuality (those of you questioning the "realism" in this I'm guessing have never been to a mall or a teeny bopper concert), I was intrigued. But these diamonds of shiny graphics were reverse-engineered to ensure that I'd get hyped about what would end up being a coal in my stocking. Santa: His heart of gold funds cocktease commercials for ten year olds.

Growing up, my best friend loved RPGs, and while I never understood the appeal of making my favorite pornstar/plumber just sort of blankly stare at a fire-breathing turtle right the fuck in front of him before finally punching the heavily-armored, spiky thing in the face with a Michael Jackson glove after waiting his turn due to a missaplication of kindergarden playtime rules to combat in the fantasy world, I was pretty turned on by the graphics in Super Mario RPG. Almost as turned on as I am by that run-on sentence I just wrote. Oh, baby, that thing is just so BIG and LONG.

Despite my obsession with the graphics however, I would realize upon playing the game with him that this combat style just wasn't my brand, so I would enjoy the cutscenes and story without buying the game myself, and usually convince him to play something else eventually. Sadly, I had not fully learned my lesson. 

The first RPG I actually owned was Pokemon. This was due mostly to the odd habit of bandwagoning I exhibited throughout early childhood. Odd because my eagerness to bandwagon was an attempt for my pasty, anxiety-ridden ass to fit in with everyone else: turns out being the only one left with a Hanson t-shirt doesn't  make you popular but I digress. Anyhowever, Pokemon was huge where I went to school and I had to have it, because everyone else did. I did manage to be slightly rebellious by choosing blue over red, not understanding the obsession with Charizard considering Blastoise could literally hose him into submission.

Pokemon: Emboldening Creepy bus drivers since 1998

I was dissapointed to find out it was an RPG at first, but then I realized it wasn't difficult and I (or my OCD) liked the collectathon gimmick. Another thing it had over other RPGs was I actually knew how to exploit enemy weaknesses thanks to every Pokemon having obvious environmental differences like fire v water, as opposed to the Magic Fun Hat vs. Super Cheeseburger totally-made-up nonsense I found in most others.

But while turning a blind eye to the fact a Zues-powered rat had to or would wait his turn to fry a damn caterpillar was doable, it led me to thinking I could handle RPGs. Oh boy was I wrong.

There are two types of people who want to play Final Fantasy games: those who want to play Final Fantasy games, and those that want to find the quickest route to the CG cutscenes with the cool water and jiggly tits effects. I fall in the ladder category. Not only did the CG graphics intrigue me though, RPGs were often rated pretty high by magazines like EGM, and ever more was the phrase "buy this even if you hate RPGs" lobbied in my direction. Thus, I asked for Golden Sun for Christmas and remembered why I never actually completed that animal abuse competition simulator I had been surprisingly OK with.

Whatever game was featured in this ad, I'd love to play it

It started out fine, with the same "meteor hit my 18th century home and shat monsters" story that's in all of these things, but then I got to the overworld and the random battles started pissing me off. I died a lot, and the Djin (which I thought was some Japanese kitchen cabinet brand, but turned out to be a reference to Islamic literature somehow) looked cool but didn't help much given I had no idea how to use them properly. And it's always pissed me off how some enemies you can't run from. It's like the character is telling you "No trust me, we can totally take this fucking dragon man, we just gotta be polite and wait for it to throw fire at us at least once. It's the gentleman's thing to do."

Not only did flashy graphics and high reviews get me interested in the game, but they continued to screw me over during it. I might not have loved the actual gameplay, but the animations of the attacks were sweet, leading me to kill small enemies with volcanoes only to realize that magical corruptions of nature are apparently a limited resource. But then I tried conserving too much, just stabbing everything, and small enemies would suddenly do twice the damage they usually would out of nowhere. Needless to say, after a few too many visits to the town shaman for poison removal among other things I gave up... somewhere around the outside of an ice temple, with an ice block pushing puzzle that reminded me of Zelda.

Ultimately, while I can see how and why turn-based RPGs are so loved by many gamers, I just do not jive with random ambushes, random increases in enemy strength, and the idea of waiting your turn to hit something. My aversion to these things actually lead me to avoid Super Metroid because it had a dragon on the cover and I thought surely it too was one of these games. The look of Zelda (and the fact people actually refer to it as a live-action RPG) turned me off to it as well, these series becoming some of my favorites later down the line. Renting Earthbound actually made me cry as a (very young) kid because commercial hype once again distracted me from the fact it was an RPG.

So there you have it 1up: I'm a mindless hater who can't open his mind enough to look beyond tits and explosions and should just go cry in my mother's basement, despite the fact I don't think the house has a basement. But if it did, I'm sure it would be full off D&D nerds super pissed at what I wrote. I shame myself.

Seriously though, next time you decide to pop in an RPG, let me know so that I can watch the cutscenes for the story and graphics. You can play it though, friend. You can play it all. Knock it out o' the park for me.

Ness says: If a fire breathing dragon or Satan-spawn attack your family, always be polite and let it eat your sister before you attack it.

So that ends my first blog in the I Hate Everything series. Be sure to leave thumbs up and comments as to what you thought, and tell me what you think I should do next, as well as what you thought of this blog.

Kidding aside, I think I might give Golden Sun another chance, so I'll catch up with you guys later.


Sorry this thing was posted 4-5 days after it was supposed to be, but I had things to do and and the Texas heat has made me babbon's ass red. It's amazing I'm able to type right now. AMAZING.

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