Mystical. It is the only word I can use to describe the euphoria I felt on Saturday March 2, 2013 at 6:29 p.m. CST. Why?
Because at that specific moment in time, I finally beat Final Fantasy VII . . . after 15 years. You read that correctly my fellow readers. Fifteen years.
"Well Jesus H. Christ in a chicken basket!", you exclaim in front of your device.
"Why (or how) the hell did it take that long to finish that game?! I know it takes like 60+ hours to completely beat it and all . . . but damn!", you ponder.
Well, it's time to gather around the campfire yet again folks, because uncle Hyper Lemon Buster Cannon's got a story to tell.
And so my tale of rediscovering the one game that got away from me ages ago, The Great White Buffalo, begins.
Getchya popcorn ready!
Fifteen years ago I was a bright-eyed 7 year old boy. The world was my oyster. Everything was beautiful and fascinating as I blissfully approached anything I found interesting with curiosity and fearlessness. I loved video games very much then. They provided me a place where I could let my imagination run wild and explore other worlds I couldn't begin to fathom. My head was always in the clouds back then; being blissfully unaware of the world and its harsh reality around me. It goes without saying that video games and books were a godsend for me. School was very rough. I didn't have any friends or acquaintances that saw the world the same way I did. They thought I was weird and strange, so I was kind of an outcast. But I was okay with that! As long as I had something to escape to at home, I was happy.
So video games were my saving grace. It reminded me that there were still people out there in the world that had their heads in the clouds like I did. They weren't afraid to express their imagination. Man, the games developers came up with in 90's . . . it was incredible! But nothing prepared me for the day I stumbled upon the first game that ever engrossed me: Final Fantasy VII.
I found it lying on the floor in my room. And to this day, I will never know how it got there. My older brother wasn't into video games like myself, so it couldn't have been his. It almost seemed as if fate had placed it there for some reason. Needless to say, the cover was calling to me.
I will never forget the awe this cover instilled in me.
The whitewash. The giant building (Was that a robot?! I thought then). The mysterious blonde with the ludicrously sized sword. It was all fascinating! It brought an air of endlessness and suspense. The cover spoke to the adventurer deep within my soul. It called out to my imagination. Oh, the excitement I felt! It was just wonderful, it really was. And so I opened the case and read through the manual like a religious zealot. The cover gave me so many unanswered questions:
Who is that blonde figure? What is its story? What does RPG mean?
The manual made no sense to me. I couldn't grasp what it was trying to say. So I decided to play the game itself to see what was in store. I had no idea I was in for such a treat.
The cinematic intro put me in complete astonishment. The stars in the night sky shined so bright as in real life. The woman in red was mysterious, yet beautiful. The city was fascinating, yet somewhat depressing. But what hit me the most was the music. I never heard such a melody before. It made me feel as if time was perfectly still . . . until the train sequence comes along. A sense of urgency and importance washed over me as I saw the mysterious blonde (boy?) at the train station. And then my first battle happened. I never played an RPG before, so it was an entirely new experience. It was the first game I ever played that involved real strategy. I actually had to use my head and think?! This mechanic was right down my alley. I felt unstoppable as I decimated the futile soldiers in my path towards the train. The whole experience was intoxicating for my young mind then. Oh yeah, I didn't have a memory card at the time, so I kept replaying the prologue over and over again. I knew Guard Scorpion like the back of my hand.
How's that for insanity, eh?
It was also the first game I played that gave you the freedom to name your characters. As cool as I thought that was however, I decided to keep it OG (homeboy) and not change anything. I figured they were that way for a reason. And yeah, I'm glad I did that today. The names Cloud, Lockheart, and Sephiroth make a lot of sense when I think about it. But alas, the good fortune only lasted for so long. Just as soon as it appeared, it was gone like a one night stand. I remember searching all over the 2-bedroom apartment for it. I was constantly asking my brother if he knew where it went; but I never got an answer. It was just . . . gone.
"Like a panda with a mean face."
Needless to say, I moved on with my life and grew up. In a weird way, I kind of forgot about FFVII, but remnants of it always remained in the far corners of my mind. I always felt that I would come back to it someday, but I didn't have the funds, the hardware, or the time to do so. But that all changed four years ago when I finally bought myself a PS3. Man, was that an awesome investment. Demon's Souls was great, but I decided to surf PSN to see what it was all about.
And then I saw it . . . for $10. It was the first PSN purchase I ever made.
Like a long lost lover, we got intimate fast. My nostalgia sensors were off the charts! The wonky d-pad controls, the blocky polygonal models, and the music all took me back. And who could forget Barrett and his $#@!&%* swearing! It was just awesome! But more importantly, I finally began to understand the story, its theme, and why the characters were named the way they are. If only we could save the Earth like they did for the Planet . . .
So there I was, sitting in my apartment on Saturday, March 2nd, 2013. I should've been working on my news article for The Houstonian, but Safer Sephiroth was just asking for it. One Quadra+Knights of The Round summon and several minutes later (yeah I did it like that, sue me) he slowly disintegrates into oblivion. Oh and don't worry folks, I witnessed the awesomeness of Supernova before Arthur cleaved him in half. And so Sephiroth was destroyed! Right?
Then I heard that bell . . . and my heart dropped.
I saw a super tan (seriously, that dark?!) man with long silver hair and cold, jade-green eyes. No shirt, no armor, no wings, and no funny business: just a man and his blade. He made it clear that he will never be just a memory. He looked dead serious.
And then I Omnislashed THE FUCK outta him!
It was finally over. After leveling up characters, getting ultimate weapons, materia hunting, chocobo breeding, snowboarding, submarining, gauntlet challenging, getting level 4 limit breaks, and pussying out against Emerald and Ruby (oh hell no), I finally freakin did it. And I've finally said finally four times in a paragraph, finally (shit--make it five).
At last, I got to join the many gamers who witnessed The Endless Sea of Stars. I knew I would get there eventually; it just took me fifteen years to do it, that's all!
See you Space Cowboy.
If Earth goes to shit one day, fuck Captain Planet. I'm calling THESE GUYS!