I remember the first time I got my hands on Final Fantasy IX. It was actually my first-ever FF game I had the pleasure of playing. Others followed soon after: Final Fantasy VII, VIII, X, XIII. Aside from VII, IX was always and forever will be the best Final Fantasy game I’ve played yet.
Of course, my obsession with JRPGs were exacerbated by Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, and Legend Of Dragoon (not sure why we bought it, but we did). These games soon became part of my life, and to an extent, how I saw the world. I was drawn to the characters, the settings, the music… It gave me a chance to save the world — on my own terms. I chose the weapons, I chose the characters in my party. I leveled them up. The stories, though were always the same. An evil person is going to destroy the very world we live in, and it’s up to us to stop them.
I remember spending my Saturdays and Sundays playing the Chocobo mini games, trying to get the gold chocobo and fly to the kingdom of the Fat Chocobo. Do you guys remember Ozma? The secret boss. I remember trying desperately to find New Game+, like they let you do in Chrono Trigger (and Cross). The moment before the final battle with Kuja always left my hands sweaty. I knew it was the beginning of the end. Use Garnet’s eidolons and spam Flare with Vivi. My party used to be Zidane, Garnet, Steiner, and Vivi. I never used Quina — what a weird, bizarre creature.
The soundtracks bring me back to “the good old times,” when all I worried about was homework, and how far my friends got in their Pokemon saves.
Man, the hours my brother and I spent trying to get everyone’s secret weapons, only to find out we can’t get Steiner’s weapon because you needed to get to a certain point in the game in under 100 hours. Did I mention he and I would take turns leveling characters up? “JRPGs are a grindfest,” he’d later tell me (by later, I mean 15 years later, and no, we were no longer trying to level up our dear friends, Zidane and company). And he’s right. I mean, you run around trying to hit random battles with enemies, get experience points (or money) and level your characters up. It’s the same formula. Fight, get EXP, get new weapons, get money, heal, sell drops, buy new equips, fight. I didn’t mind it, though. It added a level of mindlessness (on a macro level).
Somewhere along the road, things changed. I sold my games. I gave them away. (I sincerely regret giving away my N64.) I became interested in MMORPGs. World Of Warcraft, Ragnarok Online, and a bunch I can’t remember. Then, I left that, too. Left it for open world simulations and sports sims…but I’m at it again. I bought FFIX and I bought Chrono Cross. I’m going to pretend it’s the year 2000 again.