I’ve been a fan of the role-playing genre for just about my whole life. That being said, compared to other fanatics of the turn-based and the narrative heavy, my experience with the genre is actually rather limited, mostly due to the fact that I don’t sit down and actually play them from start to finish. Actually seeing through games until the end has been one of my weaknesses from the first time I picked up a controller, and something I’ve always wanted to change, but never had the determination (or attention) to do so.
Right now, I find myself at the beginning of the winter break of my senior year of college. College has afforded many things: freedom from my parents’ supervision, the ability to start drinking at noon, and more time to play games than even when I was in elementary school. Sadly, this era of my life is drawing to a close, and with it, the ability to take month long vacations where absolutely nothing is expected of me. Thus, I’ve made a challenge for myself: start and finish an extremely long-to-the-point-that-it’s-outdated rpg.
The rules were simple. I had to choose a game that I haven’t played even one minute of (unfortunately, this means The Last Story, which I have yet to finish, is out). Said game must be long (projected 50 or more hours), and be largely traditional in its design (long cutscenes, drawn out dialogue…I might have to limit myself to JRPGs for this one). I’m hoping to tap into my inner Jr. High days of anime and hot pockets obsession (neither of which I’ve lost a love for, by the way). Also, I wanted the game to at least be semi-current, which knocked out any older games that I own but have yet to play, like Rogue Galaxy. This was also a way to keep myself away from yet another Final Fantasy play-through.
After long deliberation, it fell to one of three: Final Fantasy XIII-2, Disgaea 4, or Tales of Vesperia. Though not a “Japanese” RPG, I had long considered Kingdoms of Amalur, as well, but have heard that the main story can be finished within 25 hours. Allowing myself the cop-out of simply skipping side-quests to cut down play time just won’t do in this scenario. This is also the very reason I chose against XIII-2. And, even though I’ve never been the world’s biggest Tales fan, I’ve yet to ever finish a strategy rpg, leaving me to wonder if my mental fortitude will last through the endless grinding of the Disgaea underworld. And so, I finally fell on the Xbox 360 exclusive Tales of Vesperia.
And so it starts. My last extended break until my eventual retirement decades from now. I’m not sure what the next month holds, but I’m sure much of it will include eye strain, grinding boredom, frustration with anime tropes, and guilt that I could be spending my time more productively. But I will persevere. See, this is an experiment. Not only will it be a lesson for self-improvement; a way to prove that I can see a difficult, time-consuming task through to its end, but also, I will see how I’ve changed. Are the same games and experiences that I once loved and look back on with nostalgic stupor what I still enjoy in my entertainment, now? Maybe I’m just trying to hold on to the days of my youth, as its last few float by on the way river of maturity. I’ve already grown tired of the endless rehashing of anime stories I’ve seen 1,000 times before, and games longer than 30 hours become more of a hassle than fun in my ever more responsibility-laden life. This is a journey of self-fulfillment, enlightenment, and escapism. I’d like to think that when I emerge from the other end of this game, in a month, I’ll be better for it. Either that, or I’ll be a loser who spent his whole Christmas break in his room.
See ya, JRPG cowboys,
The Active-Time Blogger