the resigned gamer, everything I hate about the thing I love the most

57 hours of Final Fantasy XII and the history of pain

Posted by Sir Cucumber at 10:26 PM on Tuesday, June 12, 2007

sir eggplantcumber, the resigned gamerFinal Fantasy isn't responsible for the advent of dungeon crawling, but they should shoulder the blame for elevating it to a sick art form.

Anyone can put some curves in a linear path, add some treasure chests in dead ends, maybe some locked doors and switches, and a boss at the end. But it takes tradecraft to make dungeons truly worthy of the name. After all, dungeons were built to punish people.

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And it doesn't matter how it looks. Your dungeon could be well lit and full of dancing moogles for all I care.

What matters is that the setting cannot change for at least two hours, there can only be three types of bad guys, two of which cast a legion of solely obnoxious status affects on you while the other type guards the seventeen [INSERT "KEYS," "BUTTONS," "SWITCHES," "GEARS," "RUNES," "TORCHES," OR "CAPTIVES"] scattered haphazardly throughout the endlessly sterile atmosphere.

Then add in the signature Final Fantasy flourishes like making the path you have to find invisible.

And when the idiot who's already sunk 57 hours of his sad little life into your bullshit finally stumbles through the thing, why not immediately follow that dungeon with another dungeon?

And make them get through this one without a map.

And now that they're completely lost, with no point of reference because everything looks the fucking same, make them listen to a constant, high-pitched jingly noise for every pointless step they take.

Now, you may find this head-splitting twinkle a bit tacky, but it actually tells me that Square developers have class: They are participating in a long-standing tradition of ratcheting up a game's difficulty not by making the ghosts chase you faster, but by direct assault on the player's morale.

kid icarus and the eggplant wizards
This medium of expression originated with Kid Icarus, whom I believe, in the heyday of mis-translation the Japanese programmers had intended to name "Kid Sisyphus."

Kid Icarus broke the spirits of countless children with increasingly painful circus music and by dying his hair a harder color to look at with each level- Because being turned into an eggplant and having to backtrack twelve screens for the cure with nothing to defend yourself but Pit's bloodcurdling squeals of pain wasn't soul-crushing enough…

Yes, suffering is a time-honored element of gaming, and perhaps going through this in Final Fantasy XII will make reaching another intricate story segment all the more satisfying…Assuming by then I'll even be able to remember who the characters are.