Weekend Games

Besides checking out, deciding upon, and officially acquiring the New Jersey pad, last week was spent mostly experiencing the weirdest cold ever. I didn’t feel miserable or lethargic like a usual cold – I didn’t hurt – I just felt constantly annoyed for five straight days. Constant sneezing, coughing and the most fun: eye watering!! Many times I would start to tear while talking to a coworker or ON A CONFERENCE CALL and have to explain I was ok, just sensitive to light.

Though I thought this came at a terrible time – I had planned to see my first Escape M60 show and do some drinking with my soon-to-be roommates – it actually turned out to be a decent weekend. I had finished simming a series between the All-Time Bulls and All-Time Bucks when I suddenly realized … you can actually play video games instead of setting up the artificial intelligence to play itself! Armed with this revelation, I popped in my copy of Final Fantasy XII (which I bought almost 2 months ago and hadn’t even opened) and started up my first Fantasy session (I feel so gay [and yet so right!!!] referring it as such) in four years.

My first foray into the Final Fantasy fun was in 1999 when I picked up a copy of Final Fantasy VII – the best selling, best reviewed, and most beloved of the entire series. I had always mocked the RPG style of turn-based combat but actually fell in love with the strategy and resource management aspects of it when it was nestled in the warm, fuzzy surroundings of a great story. I advanced all the way until the final boss and then put the game down due to the difficulty, but it made the trip with me back to college for my sophomore year and I recall finally beating it in my dorm room.

I made stops along the way from then on – FF VIII was a nice attempt at a more serious atmosphere, but things actually got silly in the middle of the game and many of the combat animations were ridiculously long. I grew weary of the heavy handedness and waiting times. FF IX was the exact opposite – the main character had a tail and the main bad guy was a huge, fat woman who had graduated from the Joan Crawford school of makeup overkill. It was way too whimsical, and I felt like I was involved with some stupid Saturday morning cartoon and only got as far in it as I did by sheer force of will.

FF X was the first PS2 episode in the series and it seemed to have such potential (although it got a little too date sim for me at some points). Unfortunately, I recall getting to some crazy boss that would wipe me out with one or two blows! I can only knock my head into a brick wall so many times and moved on after about fifty (!) tries … and that was it! I put the series down in 2003 and ignored the next two releases (an over the top, girly sequel to X and the MMRPG XI). I had been sucked into the series by sheer luck – my first experience was the greatest in the decade plus history of the franchise’s existence but the disappointing sequels had left me wary.

Time healed that bruise, as it is wont to do, and I found myself salivating over the glowing reviews FF XII was earning in the video game press. The graphics looked great and the innovations seemed interesting … so I gave it a try. Hey, I was sick and was going to have to stay inside all weekend anyway.

Well, I get the feeling I wasn’t the only fan of the series who had felt the punches of the past few games as FF XII comes on strong and hasn’t let up about 10 hours into the story. The creators got it so right this time. It’s very Star Wars, with a little bit of Lord of the Rings for good measure, and feels like a more mature Zelda (which I actually gave up after Link to the Past, believe it or not [and, no, that day flirting with Ocarina of Time doesn’t count]). What can I say … video games are one of the huge pieces that has created who I am (along with, in order of appearance, comic books, music, website design, and basketball) and I’m still a sucker for a good weekend of doing nothing but sitting in front of the tv, playing, stopping only to read hints and eat.

Notice I didn’t say use the bathroom! Yes, I actually had to pull the famous Dumb and Dumber move of pissing in a bottle … but I’ll leave the details out unless you really wish to know about it!

The only other news of note is the contest: part deux! The original exercise contest that was won by Brandanus has been extended by the bee-logger, himself. This time, there’s a $10 ante and eight contestants. With the exit of Steve and someone I don’t know (but won’t mind spending their money when I win it!!!), it’s down to just el Toine, Bandon, Nate (of Nate’s Noodle fame!), Daily Dwayne and his lady. I’ll keep stanus.butt updated with any and all updates when they arrive!

And, finally, Toine – who has blogged twice in the past two months – called me saying he was disappointed in my blogging output of late. The doh never strikes twice!





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