When autosaving was first introduced in gaming it was feared that, without manual saves, games could lock you into a cycle of death. Imagine getting a checkpoint in Halo just after a plasma grenade attaches to you. Boom! … forever.
Even with manual saves I’m stuck in my own cycle of death in Final Fantasy XIII. I made it to Gran Pulse at the save point just before the Esper Hecatoncheir. Because the game is so friggin’ boring I didn’t do enough grinding to be able to beat him. And due to a combination of my own skill slash stupidity I can’t go backwards and fight previous enemies to level up. There’s a robot with really wide arms blocking my passageway back into the crappy mines. I don’t know how I slipped by him before but I definitely can’t defeat him in combat now. So either I take two steps forward to my death or twenty steps backwards to my death. Or surrender twenty-five hours and restart. Delightful.
Final Fantasy XII is much more fun to replay. Not that it’s innocent of anti-player bullshit (that freaking Zodiac Spear taunts me) but at least there aren’t the RPG equivalent of Gran Turismo’s license tests.
Oh wait. Maybe there are.
… he listens to the sound of nobody laughing …
As a programmer I loved this game. Loved creating and sorting macros for my characters. Loved the fabulous music and impressive technical achievement of squeezing this epic on the Playstation 2. My favorite part is - bizarrely - the Pharos lighthouse. It’s a 100 floor slog near the end of the game with repetitious environments, brutal enemies, and arbitrary handicaps. Sounds awful, right?
Before coming to this area I had just finished reading Diamond Dogs. Its protagonists ascend a giant evil tower to claim a prize at the top, solving devious math problems on each floor. The novel was beautiful and horrible, so getting to play a video game version of that was an odd treat. I can only imagine that’s where other players threw their controllers at the screen, just like I want to do when I face Hecatoncheir.
Like I’ve said before, crazy person.