The other day we were recording a couple of new episodes of Battle Bards when Syl asked me why I wasn’t playing Final Fantasy XIV. In addition to the “I’m playing a zillion other games and have NO TIME” excuse, I delivered the truth: “It’s nothing against the game itself, but I’m just not into Final Fantasy any more.”
And while I’ve known that for a while, it made me a little sad to put that out there like that.
Final Fantasy was a big — but not huge — part of my gaming history. The original Final Fantasy was something I lusted over on the NES but never got to play (I did devour the manual), while VI through IX were major experiences on the PlayStation for me. But it was around the time of Final Fantasy X when I started to feel as though the series had run its course in my affections. I was less charmed with the repeating tropes than others seemed to be, and I began to see the stories as being almost vapid exercises with one-dimensional characters. Plus, there was that dumb waterball game. Could’ve done without that.
I also think that Final Fantasy featured so strong in my life in the late 90s because I didn’t have the best access to a lot of the latest CRPGs out there — my computer was woefully inadequate until I bought a new one after college. So console RPGs won by default, but began to seriously lose their luster when I upgraded my computer hardware and discovered MMOs.
Final Fantasy XI was a huge turn-off when I tried it back in the day, from its sneering contempt for computer/US players to its insane difficulty and hatred toward soloers. What I had liked about Final Fantasy was quickly vanishing and being replaced by a game that gleefully killed me with a sheep.
So that was really the last time that I engaged with FF, other than a very brief, aborted attempt to play Final Fantasy XIV. I kind of went over the same reasons back then that I did with Syl during our chat, but it boils down to the dissonance between acknowledging that a game is popular, has a solid feature set, and would otherwise be a good fit — and acknowledging that it’s a turn-off because of its genre, aesthetics, and approach.
Sometimes a game can do its very best to deliver and fail for an individual anyway, because it’s both not the fault of the dev or the gamer. It’s just that it’s not a good match, personality-wise. And that’s okay. It happens. I’ve read and heard dozens of MMO players say the same thing about why they can’t get into a certain title despite it seeming perfect on paper. Sometimes there’s that intangible mystery category that trumps everything else.
So for me, Final Fantasy is well and dead, but I am certainly glad it’s alive and kicking for those who enjoy it.