[pixelation | weekly gaming & life column every wednesday or uh thursday]
I came to a realization a couple of nights ago. It haunted me. It was one of those realizations that comes with something like “Oh, god, god no!” Not as fierce as the “Oh, god, god no!” that hit me once in my teenage years when I shit my pants in a Toys R Us. Not as nauseating as the “Oh god, god no!” that hit me when I realized last week that my Nana was naked behind her door as she told me that she was getting dressed, her loose turkey flesh clutching the door like a claw.
But a moment of realization that I didn’t want to face. I had to man up.
I realized that I should probably trade-in Red Dead Redemption. Give that shit up for adoption. Tip my cap and accept the obvious: I was never, ever, going to play it. And as I wasn’t playing it, its resale value was going to whiter on the vine, until it was eventually worthless. It would age on my video game rack, and at some point I would simply look at it, realize I was never going to play it, realize it was worth nothing, and send it into my trash barrel with my Chez-It boxes and fabric softeners.
As I type this, I’ve already done the deed. As I handed the son of a bitch over to the kid at Gamestop, it was with a sense of failure. I had failed as a gamer. I’m not really sure why I bought Red Dead Redemption, outside of the acclaim it got. I’m certain it’s a great game, that was obvious from the forty-four minutes of it that I’ve played since May. If it was simply a matter of measuring worth, I would have traded in my unfinished copy of Final Fantasy XIII back in March, about four minutes after I woke up from the Suck Coma the game put me into.
But I owe Final Fantasy sadly an allegiance that I do not owe RDR. I’mprobably a worse man for this.
I already thought it was creepy how hyper-sexualized Vanille is in Final Fantasy XIII. Then tonight, I noticed something. Every time Vanille casts a spell, she sounds like a Japanese porn actress. Like, no, really. I’m not making that up. And worst of all? I don’t really enjoy it. I find it unsettling.
This has to do with the fact that Japanese porn actresses always sound like eleven year-old girls getting fucked by their gym teacher in porn scenes. High-pitched, slightly resigned yelps. It’s freaking me the fuck out. It’s enough to get me to not enjoy Japanese porn, which is a feat considering I’m a fucking pervert. And it’s also enough to make me really uncomfortable playing as her in Final Fantasy XIII. Every time I cast Fira, it sounds like a fucking girl is getting molested.
One of the dopest things about Final Fantasy XIII for me so far is the battle system. It’s perfectly suited for my caffeine-soaked brain. It’s hyper-kinetic, and has you all over the place. I’m all WHOOSH WHOOSH PARADIGM SHIFT HEAL HEAL WHOOSH WHOOSH BACK TO KICKING ASS. Sometimes I lament the fact that I cannot control who is the party leader yet, and I also lament the fact that I cannot intervene and take control of the automated douchebags in my party. But other than that, it’s right up my alley. I like the fact that it has you hopping in and out or formations to suit the situation, and it feels like that concept compensates for the lack of autonomy you have over your other party members.
You have to give it up to Square Enix. They don’t even try to be subtle in their hyper-sexualizing of teenagers in Final Fantasy XIII. Sometimes FFXIII feels like a copy of Barely Legal for overweight and underweight nerds.
At first I thought I was just a big pervert when I began playing Final Fantasy XIII. I mean, once Vanille was on screen, my parts engorged and I was like, why am I so attracted to this polygonal teenager? I thought to myself that it’s probably because I’m a fat nerdboy who also suffers from a laundry list of mental impairments. She was there on screen, all being cute, but scantily clad with skin everywhere. God dammit!, I thought to myself. This is how it starts.
But then I was saved! You see, Final Fantasy XIII wants to me to get a hard-on for the near jailbait! I realized it pretty early into the game. When the gang of douchebags get branded for their Focus or whatever, and they’re turned into L’Cie, there’s this moment where they’re all showing where they’ve been branded. I’m sort of half-paying attention as they show their brands, and then Vanille shows hers. It’s all the way up her thigh, right next to her ass. Which she reveals by pulling up her skirt, revealing pure, milky goodness. Jesus Christ I thought, this is exactly what they want! I was relieved, and continued playing, not bothering to put my pants back on.
[Every week until Final Fantasy XIII comes out, we're going to play a game. I post a picture, and we all try and make sense of what's going on in it.]
Unlike the slow consensual love that Snow makes with me, this picture clearly is rocking some underage buttfuckery. I mean jesus christ, have you ever seen such ill-intent in a creepy mustached dude’s eyes? Just look at this picture. I’m pretty sure that’s 14 year-old Hope in this picture. And that dude who has clearly been carbo-loading for the last nine years has one thing in mind. Rape time, and then a Big Mac. Maybe some chicken nuggets too. Maybe he’s going to try and eat chicken nuggets out of Hope’s innocent hole.
I could be wrong.
I don’t know.
I’m just saying, I’m not a master of Japanese, but I believe the above text translates (roughly) to “Don’t worry, my dungeon has heating.”
Plight of the Aging Gamer: How Do I Feel About Final Fantasy XIII Being Linear As Fuck? I Don’t Know.
[plight of...is generally a reflection piece on something on my mind. stream of consciousness and usually asks you guys questions in a formless rant that feels good on my fingers and keyboard]
If you’re like me, you’re a contradictory asshole. Usually I write this off to being human. It’s a cheap way out of arguments with your friends or girlfriend, boyfriend, or whatever without really admitting fault. You say something like “Yeah, I’m a fucking hypocrite but so are you!” And then you explain that existence is rife with contradictions and hypocrisy and maybe it’s just embedded into our collective consciousness, or our meat sacks, or whatever. So when I say I’m divided about Final Fantasy XIII and its insane linearity, I mean it. On one hand, I always wax intellectual about allowing for the evolution of characters, franchises, whatever. I opine with feigned hurt about fanboys who say “Oh, Batman should never act this way!” and “Final Fantasy cannot, must not, simply not have Moogles with three-centimeter ears!”
And yeah, I have a very clear cut, and determined idea of what makes a Final Fantasy.
I am Ian Drinkwater, just another typical hypocrite.
Here’s the deal. Apparently Final Fantasy XIII is the pinnacle of linearity. Reviewers have described it as one long-corridor of doom, where battles are endless, you’re healed after every scrum, and you have absolutely no ability to explore nooks and crannies. The entire ordeal, granted only from what I’ve read, is a stripped down game that features no exploration for the first thirty or so hours, and instead just punches you in the genitalia with gorgeous cutscenes and non-stop action.
I consider this to blow.
On the one hand, there’s this portion of me that believes that Final Fantasy developers shouldn’t be encumbered by the expectations of the fans. Maybe they should consider them, but should they kowtow to them instead of evolving the franchise as they see fit? I don’t think so. It’s a double-edged sword. Rip the fanboys away from everything they love and cherish, and they freak the fuck out. Maintain the status quo, and all you hear about is how stagnant the formula has become.
So what the fuck do you do! I have no idea. I really don’t.
The first twenty, thirty or whatever hours or so of the game doesn’t feature this. It’s been described as corridor after corridor of action. Wash, rinse, repeat. You kick the shit out of some dudes, who probably have laser guns, you are automatically healed after the battle, and then you watch a cutscene and do it all over again. It seems like there’s linearity, and then there’s linearity.
A brilliant and beautiful friend and fellow master of the masturbatory joke pointed out that a lot of games are linear. The example he dropped with Uncharted 2, which while linear to an extent is still an excellent game. It’s an interesting point, and I agree with it to an extent. I suppose my response to that is two-fold.
First, while the game is linear, Uncharted 2 offers sexy chunks of exploration. I’d run around like an asshole hunting for treasure, exploring every inch of the map. There is no such corridor of doom concept in Uncharted 2, or even in stock action games like Devil May Cry, and Prince of Persia. There is a minimal amount of exploration, something to engross you in the world.
And secondly, and on a personal level, and maybe I’m alone in this, but Final Fantasy has always been about delving into and exploring some new world. And a lot of that involves me barging into people’s houses unsolicited and interrogating the same small, fearful child over and over again. Yes hi, I’m a blonde spikey-haired guy with an enormous sword, may I ask you a few questions? What do you mean you don’t know where the super-sexy androgynous grey-haired man went? Well, little child, I’m going to keep asking until you lie or piss your pants.
I like playing Final Fantasy titles as much as I like enjoying their storylines. And if long corridors and repetitive battles are there in an effort to focus more on the storyline, I say I appreciate your experiment guys. It just doesn’t seem appealing to me. I could have suffered linearity in the form of something like Final Fantasy X’s world. It was pretty linear at the beginning. Go here. Do this. Talk to this guy. Now we shuffle you off to the next event. Even then it wasn’t that bad? Why? Because there were still towns you were being shuffled to. Shops to explore, characters to talk to.
But again, I waffle. Maybe it’ll be enjoyable, maybe I’ll love it anyways. Perhaps if I can let-go of my stale interpretation of what a Final Fantasy should be, I’ll be able to enjoy what this Final Fantasy happens to be. I can’t condemn them on the grounds of trying something new, I just don’t know if I’ll find it as magical as the past titles. I’m all for encouraging the evolution of titles, but I don’t feel any sort of intellectual onus to automatically applaud them for it.
Yep, that’s me. Applauding innovation and evolution, while simultaneously decrying an installment in a franchise when it doesn’t meet my expectations. A typical hypocritical asshole.
Last week it was suggested to me:
I think once a week you should post an obscure picture from FFXIII and we try to guess what the fuck is going on.
Well, here we fucking go! I dig this picture, because I dig Snow. I dig Snow in the way that I dig people I want to make love to. That is…I want to make love to him. Now, I know he’s not real. And I know it will never happen. But I know that this also makes me much like Kierkegaard’s Knight of Infinite Resignation. And frankly, anything I can do to make myself much like anything involving my existential heroes, I’ll undertake.
So I continue on my path, knowing that I will never make love to Snow. But I will never relinquish said dreams, for I will continue to envision a day when polygon and man can come together, united in their love.
Oh wait, I’m supposed to guess what’s going on?
I’m not really sure. But if I had to guess, Snow and Lightning are about to kick some fucking ass. You can tell Lightning is serious, because her arms are crossed. Which means that she’s silent and brooding and she wants to elbow drop someone. Meanwhile, Snow is pretending he’s Zell, or Dash, and he’s ready to unleash some fucking monk fury on an unsuspecting ass.
Who is he fighting?
Clearly Santa Claus.
My obsession is getting bad, I can tell, because despite having not bought a figure in years, I need this. I need you, Lightning.
Alright, I have no idea what’s going on in this picture. I had to look up the cute girl’s name, and it happens to be Vanille. And I think she’s riding a summon. And it happens to be a giant beast like thing that is also a dual gatling gun. This game is going to change my ass on a molecular level. It’s going to give me powers and shit.
What do I need to fucking say? Anything. I SAY NO. Final Fantasy XIII marches closer, and closer. And day by day, my balls tingle a little bit more. I’m going to be vibrating through my futon when I finally crack this bitch open. BELIEVE. Hit the jump for the PS3 rendition.