Friday, December 27, 2019

Ben's 2010s - RPGs Part 1

This is something I really wanted to talk about. I've made multiple posts in the past about how RPGs are my "favorite" types of games to play, but it honestly wasn't until the 2010s that I really gave them a shot. Sure I played Pokemon as a kid, Star Ocean and .hack when I was in high school, and even checked out Kingdom Hearts back then as well. Still it wasn't until 2010 that I REALLY got into them, and nearly every RPG I've played was during this time period. And it all started with Final Fantasy XIII.


When I was in college the Xbox 360 was my main console of choice. I loved that thing, and I loved playing games online with friends. Most of what I bought were games like Halo, but I also enjoyed story focused ones as well. Assassin's Creed was cool, and then you had unique games like Mirror's Edge that kept me busy. The one thing I didn't spend too much time playing was RPGs, as there really weren't many on the console. The only ones I had checked out up until then were basically on the PS2 and PSP, and the ones I had seen on the 360 sorta scared me off. Didn't think I'd like Fallout 3, and as stupid as this sounds, hearing things like "the sorcerer's ring" being in Tales of Vesperia kept me from even trying it. So what changed? Really I think it was just me wanting to try something new, and seeing what friends of mine were playing.

There's an embarrassing post I made about FF13 shortly after it released, but that's ultimately what lead me to buy it. I was sitting there at college waiting for my ride home, and I was looking up videos to see if this new Final Fantasy game would be worth my time. I liked Kingdom Hearts, and had played some of Final Fantasy IV and VI in the past, but I wasn't a fan of the series -- not by a long shot. In fact I hardly knew anything about it! I remember talking to a kid at college about our favorite games, and the first question he asked me was "is your favorite series Final Fantasy?" I replied "no it's not." He followed that question with a second one: "what would you think if I said it was my favorite?" I don't remember my exact words, but they had to be something along the lines of "no, that's cool if you like it." His response to that caught me off guard though. "Good because I hate Final Fantasy, and the fans annoy me." Yeah, it was strange. I never saw that guy again (apparently he finished classes and went to another university), but for some reason he hated the series with a passion, and didn't get along with people who were fans. Again I didn't know much about the series at the time, so I couldn't understand what he thought was wrong with it -- and I still don't! After that day I decided to run over to GameStop to buy FF13, everything changed.

I know I'm one of the only people out there who liked Final Fantasy XIII, but I can't stress enough how much I actually liked that game. It was different from what I had been playing up until that point, and I really liked the story. My only regret was that it ended way too soon, and because of that I started looking for something more. That ended up being Tales of Vesperia -- the very same game I had refused to play years before.


I chose Vesperia for a few reasons, but the main one was because of the 360's lack of RPGs. It was pretty much the only "classic" console RPG on the console that appealed to me, and it was the only game that I had at least "some" background with. I had friends who were fans (so they told me quite a bit), and I remember the days of Symphonia being allover Nintendo Nsider. That was also a game I had wanted to try out as a kid, but sadly was never able to get for myself. So Tales of Vesperia was pretty much the only other game I was interested in at the time. As I've mentioned in the past this too ended up becoming one of my favorite games, and is why I kept going with RPGs.

After exhausting most of what the 360 had to offer RPG wise, I eventually moved onto Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core. Yep, I started with the prequel. This was a PSP game that told about the events leading up to the original FF7, and focused on characters I'll avoid mentioning because of spoilers. Overall the game was fun, but it had major issues with it's level system and repetitive mission mode. I still liked it though, and it made me want to play the real FF7. This was a problem however as I didn't have wi-fi at home, and my only way to play it would be on the PSP. So that Easter I went up to Walmart, bought a memory card for my PSP, and spent the entire day at my grandma's house downloading it. I then spent the next month or so playing through it, and I finally realized why people praised it so much. This was only the start however.

Upon finishing FF7 I wanted more, so I went and bought Dissidia. As many may know this is a crossover fighting game, with the original game (and it's eventual prequel) having an RPG like story mode to go through. This is when I was reintroduced to characters from FF4 and 6, and was the first time I met many others. Seeing these characters interact with each other got me interested in them and their stories, so I only did the natural thing. I picked up as many of those games as I could and tried to play through them. This was a slow process however, and actually wasn't until the prequel (Dissidia 012) released that I gave it a serious shot. I still remember speed running FF6 in the days leading up to Christmas, and finally beating the game for the first time. I picked up XII because 012 made me want to see Vaan's story (haha...), and Final Fantasy VIII was something I bought myself for Easter about a year later, and things just kinda continued from there. Before I knew it I had at least played every game in the series (including both MMORPGs), and many other RPGs as well. Final Fantasy was just a gateway to everything else.


Besides Final Fantasy, the Tales of series became a huge part of the 2010s for me. I loved Vesperia, and that lead me to eventually track down a copy of Tales of the Abyss. While I didn't like it quite as much as Vesperia, it's story ended up becoming one of my favorite, and has remained so to this day. Tales of Graces f was a surprise release (as Namco had given up on the US at this time), and was something I made sure to pick up day one. Found Tales of Legendia before Tales of Xillia released, and finished it the day before I picked up ToX from GameStop. (There was a guy in there who had bought every collectors edition for himself...) About a week later as when I got my first full time job however, so I did have to slow down a bit once that happened. Took me awhile to finish Xillia because of that, but I was ready for Xillia 2 and Tales of Hearts R as it released. Let's not forget to mention the Tales of Symphonia collection, Tales of Zesteria, and even Berseria. Then you have the mobile games (which have since shut down), and the rereleases that have kept me busy as well. Heck I've bought Vesperia 3 times! I just really like the Tales of series, despite it's rough last few years. It's a series I play along side Final Fantasy, and will continue to support during the years to come.

But I think we should stop there. Let's continue this tomorrow, as this is only about half the story...