[Monthly Musing promotions continue! Today, Dreamweaver explains how Final Fantasy Tactics Advance's story resonated with him, and really drew him into the gaming experience. Want to see your own work on the front page? Go ahead and write a blog while there's still time! -- JRo]
What if there was a world we can all retreat to? What if there was a place filled with magic and wonder just waiting to be experienced? What if we can go there with our friends and vanquish vile beasts, earning recognition all across the land? What if we can finally be heroes? What if... That place actually exist?
I've stepped into the world of Ivalice. I've made new friends among old. I've made magic appear in the palm of my hands, slayed beasts with twin swords, and became the envy of all the clans that aren't a part of us. And best of all... I've made memories that'll last a lifetime, and then some. This is my story into that world: How I came across it, what I did, and why I loved it so much.
When I was younger, before the internet became the huge sensation it is today, I relied on word of mouth and cover art/ back cover advertising to decide what games I wanted to play. Whenever I had what I assumed to be a good amount of money, I'd ask my friends what games they'd recommend to me. However, my friends weren't as "game-minded" as I, so naturally, they didn't have much to say, but one of my friends did, and that's because he had a subscription to Nintendo Power. Now, we don't think about it much now, but back then, game magazines was like the Book of Knowledge when it came to video games, whether it was the reviews or cheat codes.
The problem is though is that I didn't have a subscription to Nintendo Power, nor would my parents want me to have one, so instead, I'd buy the issues that my friend received. Sure, it seems like a stupid idea now, but some of those magazines lead me to play some of the greatest video games I've ever played, so I never regretted it. One old issue he was selling had Final Fantasy Tactics Advance on it and, after my exposure to Tales of Symphonia , seemed like an interesting read. After I paid him his five bucks, I sat in the cafeteria of my school, not even bothering to eat, and read the cover story from the first capital letter to the very last period. I was so enthralled by the video game that I simply had to have it, and lucky me, my friend, who "Never Let Me Down," after seeing that I've become so interested in that game, offered his cartridge to me for only five more dollars.
Needless to say I snatched that up. Sure, that money was supposed to last me the rest of the week for lunch, but I didn't care: I eagerly handed him a crisp five dollar bill, cradled the GBA cartridge, and tapped my foot repeatedly (much to the annoyance to others) in anticipation of the school bell to ring. Once I headed home and walked through the door, I'd tossed my backpack loaded with school work I neglected to do to the side, kicked out the sweaty shoes that was plagued from a nice jog home, and sat in my bed to play this "New Game." (Get it? It's a play on the phrase- You get it.)
"Show Me A Good Time"
Prelude: "Welcome to the World"
My day started pretty simple enough: A snowball fight after school. After learning how to play, my group of friends found an old book within the a local book store and we decided to get together to read it together. However, the adventure didn't last long as the book was written in a foreign language, so we all decided to leave what the book says to the imagination, and go to back for another day or school. But during that time, unbeknownst to us, the city street of "Saint Ivalice" transforms into the world of Ivalice, a place vastly different than the one we know, populated by mythical beings among the humans.
I wake up to this world confused, wondering what happened to my bedroom. I was eager to find my way home, so I set off from my starting point and explored the world, trying to grasp a sense of what's happening. It wasn't long before I encountered a walking lizard, who became angry at being called that and challenged me to a fight, something I had no intention of doing. But lo and behold, a judge appears out of nowhere to referee, and I was about to engage in something I didn't know how to do. It wasn't until a furry little creature by the name of Mont Blanc came up to offer his assistance, teaching me the way they battle. With his guidance, I won the fight, and walked away victorious, albeit still as confused as ever.
Once we went to a local pub to celebrate, Mont Blanc told me all about this world, Ivalice, where magic and mythical beings exist. I couldn't believe it: It was a world just like my friend Mewt had played in a video game. I tried to explain that I don't belong here, but no matter how much I talked about it, it didn't change the fact that I was still here, and so I stayed. During my stay, I learned about the rules and system of this world I honed my fighting skills, learned magic, formed the clan "Rangers," and took on odd jobs for petty cash until the big time arrived, where we fight for the real.
"Like Toy Soldiers"
Interlude: "Welcome to Heartbreak"
I've been in this world for so long that it started to become something of a grind: I've grown adjusted to how this world works. I've grown to understand the battle system, learning new combos and techniques as I go on. But I've also learned of new places and faces in my travels, and that's something you don't get adjusted to. But I miss my old world... I miss my old way of life... I miss my friends. But there's no time for heartbreak, as a new mission awaits... With one of my old friends as the rival.
Ritz, the white haired tomboy I know, had become a battle hardened red haired warrior, and despite my pleas to stop this confrontation, she refused, and we battled. Luckily for both of us, the rules ensured that none of us could kill each other, which is entirely possible with the arsenal of weapons and magic spells we had under of belts, but did I have to fight my friend? Aren't friends supposed to have each others' back no matter what?
After I emerged victorious, I wondered about her motives for fighting me. She tells me that it was for a job, but I know that there's more to it than that. And there was: She doesn't want to go back. She told me that she likes this world: She can wield magic, she isn't mocked for her white colored hair, and she has plenty of new friends. After her explanation, she takes her leave, and leaves me to ponder on what she just said: She doesn't want to leave? That's silly... This is a fantasy world; We can't stay forever...
Even though I wanted to.
The World According to Me
Final Act: "Unforgettable"
You know what happens when you start to enjoy an adventure? It's something akin finding a lost dog: You don't care for it initially, but once you name it and emotionally bonded, you never want to give it up even as the owner pries it from your hands. And that was the sad melancholy I felt as I continued on my journey playing this game: The more missions I accomplish, the closer I get to the end, and the sooner the adventure would end... But that's when I realized how amazing this game truly was.
This game had managed to allow me to become attached to it by showing me a world that an kid my age wants, but at the same time, gives the idea that an adventure such as this doesn't last forever, nor should it. If you were to take a peek at the hours of time spent playing the game, it reads 50 - 60 hours, but after restarting so many times in fear of reaching the end, it's actually more like 200 - 250. I liked the customization of this game: I can be whatever I wanted to be, be it a ninja, a mage, or a mixture of the two. I can place the cities, deserts, and forests where ever I wanted them to be. I could even choose to manipulate the laws during battle. But what I couldn't do was prolong the game much longer. "These Worries" are heavy...
You see, that's why this game was amazing: It was so amazing that I just didn't want it to end. But in the end, I decided to finally complete it, but as I watched the credits end, I realized that with every adventure ending, a new one can begin. So I shove the GBA to the side, and after stretching from the discomfort of lying down for so damn long, I opened up a new copy of Nintendo Power and begun looking for the next one.
Hey, gotta "Get Back" up, right?