Buying in, round 2

I’ve been playing an odd combination of games the last week or so: Gears of War 2 (whenever my girlfriend wanted to) and Persona 4 (at every other possible moment). Constantly jumping back and forth between them can be slightly jarring, let me tell you.

I’ll admit it: Gears is fun. I had to eat my words a couple years ago when I took every opportunity to make fun of the “brotoculture” of the first game, only to try it with a friend and like it so much we beat it in a weekend. Despite everything else, it is a very well designed game. Just as the setting and feel of BioShock helped me overlook the fact that it was in a genre I generally don’t care for, so, too, did Gears’ fun, tight gameplay help me overlook an aesthetic I could do without.

Playing these two particular games in tandem, though, made me realize that I’m far less willing to give an RPG this same chance, and as far as I can tell, the required amount of time to put into an RPG is the root cause. Gears and BioShock both didn’t require more than 10 or 15 hours from me; most RPGs are going to cost me a bare minimum of 30. Given that time is my most precious resource these days, it’s essential that I like what I’m seeing, which is why something like Dragon Quest VIII (in all its Miyazaki-aping glory) was a pleasure to play, but the sheer number of zippers in The World Ends With You left me unable to push myself into finishing it.

[[image: ar_010909_ffxiii_01.jpg:Only one zipper, two buckles, and two straps visible? He’s losing his touch!:center:0]]
I’m not advocating for short games only, of course. Sometimes a nice, meaty experience is just what the doctor ordered, especially if developers take the length into account. Take EarthBound or Mother 3, for example – having a battle theme specific to each enemy meant I was never tired of hearing any of them. Unfortunately, tweaks can only go so far, which is why I’ll be purchasing DQIX on Day 1 but will probably be skipping over Final Fantasy XIII. (Though it’s nice that one company is putting out content for everybody, I suppose.)

Now, if somebody could explain to me why – despite this whole rant, and the type of anime aesthetic that leaves me cold – I bought into and loved Persona 3 immediately, I’d be grateful.

8 thoughts on “Buying in, round 2

  1. It’s too bad that you couldn’t find the motivation to stick with TWEWY, since it’s a great, original game that also happens to be quite short for a RPG. Can’t say that I mind, though, since I enjoyed your copy of the game very much!

  2. Persona 3 and 4 are like two games in one, and if you like both games, you’re golden. Then it’s only 50 hours per game you’re investing!

  3. Please tell me you were just joking about the zippers comment, it would make me feel a lot better.

  4. Persona 3 is one of those venomous animals that make you feel happy until you realize that your insides are rotting. You’re having fun and all of a sudden you realize that you’re pretending to be in high school and pretending to mack on high school girls. If you don’t realize that “My parents are out of town” is code for “Jesus Christ, go out and do something with yourself”, it’s too late for you.

  5. “Now, if somebody could explain to me why – despite this whole rant, and the type of anime aesthetic that leaves me cold – I bought into and loved Persona 3 immediately, I’d be grateful.”


  6. Yeah, I think I’d be surprised if I put topped fifteen hours in The World Ends With You. I mean, with the post-game content I’m sure it can easily go past that, but it’s a surprisingly brisk game, especially the last half.

  7. I loved — loved — Persona 4, until I couldn’t bring myself to grind another level, and…. watched all the cinematics on Youtube. I lost a bit of the emotional impact, but I had invested enough hours that I still thoroughly enjoyed learning what happened to the characters (I love you too Chie!).

    I’m sure a savvy economist/psychiatrist could map a graph showing the relation between time invested in a game and emotional closeness to its characters/world. It’s clear you need to have been STRUGGLING alongside your party in an RPG to really feel invested in them, and it might help that grinding is a real world struggle in addition to the in-game struggle its meant to represent. But there’s a point where it’s hard to justify falling in love with some pixels. Then again, I don’t consider Persona 4 a wasted purchase just because I didn’t finish it.

    You like Persona, Anthony, because it exudes excellence — though I know, like me, you find the dungeons tedious. There must be a better way to create the closeness one feels to a game like Persona than to stuff it with dungeon crawls. Or is it that I want something resembling the solitary experience of a console RPG that can be shared with real people? Of course developers have taken stabs at this, but it’s definitely a hard thing to nail.

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