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.