I’ve mentioned this several times before, but this coming November, a huge change will be coming to my life. A young man will enter this world and change my outlook on just about everything I’ve ever known. Responsibilities will skyrocket, priorities will change, and no doubt, I will have significantly less time for my favorite past time: my video games. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make before moving into the next stage of my life, but not without going out with a bang!
(I’m fully aware that video games will be available to me in the future as well, but just not as readily as they are now. This is merely the last time I’m able to solely and quietly focus on them.)
I’m also somewhat lucky. At the tender age of 31 and still working for a school, I’m able to land a solid chunk of time off in the summer months. I enjoy three weeks of vacation while the kids are off vegetating and not listening to me jam English into their heads.
This year, to escape the excruciating heat of Kobe in the summer, my wife and I are headed up into the mountains of Okayama, where I’ll be able to enjoy a cool mountain breeze and, for what it’s worth, finally enjoy that Japanese countryside summer vacation I never got to enjoy as a kid. Anime, video games, and the like have made me nostalgic for an experience I never got to enjoy hands on, so with that, I’m in for a summer of catching bugs, playing the in the streams, going to firework festivals, and of course, blazing through my favorite JRPGs as the heat pushes down on me and the cicadas drown out my music.
Because let’s be real. This is Ron. What else am I going to play with all this free time? I’ve long since given up on finding any new gaming experiences that will touch me as emotionally as my childhood favorites, and the only new video game I’m playing at the moment for review is ten years old anyway. Final Fantasy XII is cool and all, but my swan song with video games will not be to the tune of games I’m only lukewarm on.
I’m blasting through my favorites like it’s the last time I’ll ever get to enjoy them.
I’ve already gotten a head start as well. The Super Nintendo classic Demon’s Crest provided me with a solid run-through earlier this month, and I finally got to see the real ending for the first time. I never realized how much extra stuff there was to do in that game if you collected all of the hidden items. Fire Emblem: The Burning Blade also reminded me of why I fell in love with the series in the first place. The Nintendo 3DS games are good, but that game is just great on a whole other level.
And, in preparation for the ultimate nostalgia trip, I just finished a playthrough of the first Suikoden game. While it’s an all-time favorite game of mine in its own right, not to mention a sentimental summer vacation favorite since that was when I first played it, the true reason any fan blasts through the first Suikoden anymore is to transfer his or her save data into Suikoden II to unlock secret missions, characters, and stat bonuses. And yes, after finishing Suikoden, I realized that this is exactly how I’ll be spending my last summer vacation: selfishly plowing through JRPG after JRPG.
Jumping through time with Crono, hunting down Sephiroth with Cloud, perhaps avenging the dragon race with Ryu or eliminating mitochondria with Aya.
Naturally, I have Suikoden II lined up and being enjoyed as you read this simply because it is one of my favorites, if not my absolute favorite, video games ever made. It’s a JRPG that capitalizes on all the positives that Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI accomplished, and yet, takes them even further! Those two games enjoy such a legendary status among video gamers, but Suikoden II never gets to join them in the winners’ circle. Perhaps the $200+ price tag it carried for so many years had something to do with that.
Now that it is $10 on PlayStation Network, it should be remembered as the all-time great that it is. A true masterpiece with few peers.
And that Luca Blight is one bad dude.
Considering we’re also going to be at Grandma’s house, which is really old, has thin Japanese walls, and has only one working television, I don’t want to impose too much on her privacy and television time. I’ll only be focusing on games that I can play on a portable console: the Switch, the Vita, the Nintendo 3DS, and the Nintendo DS. It goes without saying that Chrono Trigger will fall into the lineup since what’s an all-time favorite bash without Chrono Trigger? Kind of meaningless, right?
Two more games are also coming with me that might be controversial. Final Fantasy VI is an old favorite that I have a much harder time returning to than others, mostly because it’s just so easy! You can normal attack your way through that game and still win. Final Fantasy VII is also making the trip since I have unresolved issues when it comes to nostalgia living up the reality of age with that game. The last time I played it, I was unimpressed, so I want to see if one last hurrah with it will help bring those mixed feelings to a close one way or another.
It’s just a shame that Nintendo doesn’t have Virtual Console up and running on the Switch yet. Otherwise, I’d be bringing along Super Metroid, Super Mario World, and Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. (I already played Link to the Past once this year) It might be a bit much to lug the Wii U around with me, too. We’ll have to save the Nintendo games for the fall months.
If I play anything on my Switch, it’ll likely be Sonic Mania, since Sonic the Hedgehog was a very important part of my childhood summers as well and retro releases are fair game in my book. Speaking of which, I’ll also be playing the SEGA Genesis Collection on my PS Vita. Ristar, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Comic Zone, Ecco the Dolphin… oh man…
If we’re mostly sticking to the Vita, Alundra, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Breath of Fire III, Mega Man Legends, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Parasite Eve are also likely to fill in the overtime slots. Maybe Final Fantasy X or even a fan-translation of Dragon Quest III if I get really lucky. After all, I have absolutely no responsibilities for three weeks aside from watering Grandma’s vegetables and waiting on my wife.
It’s very likely I’ll be able to blast through all of these games with time to spare
But what is the point of this? Why would anybody care about a lazy, man-child summer vacation? Actually, it perfectly sums up how I feel about video games at the moment, and how I am preparing to move on from them to some degree.
At the age of 31, (my friends have heard this rant too many times now) I feel like I have three solid decades of video games under my wings. Nothing I play anymore sticks like the way these old games did when I was a kid, and often when I play something new, I daydream about these old favorites. While playing Breath of the Wild, all I wanted to play was The Minish Cap, and returning to Ivalice in Final Fantasy XII just makes me want to play Final Fantasy Tactics again.
In all seriousness, I’ve reached a point where I feel content, where I’ve found the games I’ll love for the rest of my life and probably don’t need much more. The modern console scene is overloaded with AAA games I don’t care about, there are too many indie games to sift out the ones that actually matter, and E3 is becoming a more tedious, insufferable experience year after year.
If I focus on this nonstop consumption of video games, many of which I’ll likely forget about, as they trickle out week after week, month after month, that leaves little to no time for the games I actually love playing.
Sure, there’s always a chance that a future classic comes out that I might miss it with this logic, but after thirty years, I feel satisfied.
What I’m hoping is that this summer vacation shows me a new path to take video gaming down. From now on, it’s going to be a fun, nostalgic escape to the past. It’ll be something that brings me brief bouts of joy, and not a hobby I have to slave over to keep up with friends and the online community.
Does anybody feel the same way?
Especially dads out there. Lend me a hand. How do you cope with balancing kids, keeping up with new games, and finding time for old favorites, not to mention jobs, friends, social obligations, and the rest of the baggage that comes with being an adult?