Fourteen years ago I spent New Year’s Eve 1999 playing Asheron’s Call. I wanted to see if I would stay online through the Y2K apocalypse. Turns out Dereth was immune to that particular disaster.
This New Year’s day I spent in Ivalice. Final Fantasy XII is my generation 6 desert island game, a 100-hour epic full of stuff to collect and unlock. I don’t like to think of myself as a completionist, but going very slowly and thoroughly in Assassin’s Creed IV has been awfully rewarding. Plus I have the strategy guide.
You remember strategy guides, right? It’s weird to go back to those older generations and find game features specifically designed to make you buy a $20 book from another company. Tell me the Zodiac Spear’s requirements don’t sound insane. It’s particularly noticeable when compared against the usability of the rest of the game. Final Fantasy XII’s inventory and equipment screens are models for the industry. Its map system often shows the user’s destination and handles multi-floor layouts as well as a 2D depiction can. The license board is easy to grasp and fun to unlock.
Even the slogs are fun… the second time. I just went through the Ogir-Yensa sandsea area and its cousin the Nam-Yensa. Remember how Luke Skywalker drove his speeder bike to Mos Eisley? Imagine walking there on foot and you’ll get some idea of the sandsea’s tedium. Circumnavigating the circular oil platforms makes your head spin. Not to mention that you mainly encounter one type of enemy, the Sand People imitators called the Urutan-Yensa. My first trip through this desert was a nightmare of backtracking. If it was possible to modify the terrain, Red Faction style, I would have razed both sandseas and turned the land back to the natives.
Second time through it’s not so bad. I had the map both times, but now I’m not running to the next plot event (spoiler: Balthier gets screwed over again) and can soak up the scenery. The desert is a lonely place and a welcome oasis from the brrriiing cacophony of Rabanastre and Bhujerba. It’s also a great place to build a huge chain score. All the careful inventory management I’ve done means my party is tearing through those poor Urutan.
Last night I berried the Garuda and started a revolution against the second Demon Wall.
Did that make sense? Doesn’t have to!
On to Raithwall’s Tomb!