The first time I heard 'RPG', I had to look it up on the internet. And the first RPG I played was the only RPG I have completed.
It was the year 1997 (I think), I got this amazing video game console called Playstation. Behind the console packaging was a list of games along with its thumbnails. Final Fantasy VII was the first title in the list. It was listed as an exclusive or featured title. The thumbnail for Final Fantasy was this steel head of a woman. I realize now that it is the character Jenova from the game.
When I got the Playstation initially, it was from Malaysia and had some really terrible games coming with it. So it was when my Uncle came from USA that I asked him to get me Final Fantasy VII. He told me that it is more expensive than the other games and I might have to shorten my wish list if I wanted this game. Lucky I went for FF7.
When I finally got the game in my hand, I realized why it was so expensive. It was a monster of a game and I mean that quite literally -- 3 CDs of gaming goodness. I put it up and was stunned. It opened like a Hollywood blockbuster; with a cinematic video. And it just blows you away to see this pre-rendered graphics movie. And the first mission of the game happened on top of a moving train. What more would a 15 year old boy want? Bliss!
I was hooked to the game in no time and couldn't help but not give up even after losing all my save data halfway into the game. Any other game, I would've kept it aside and moved to the next title. But this one I started over from the start.
I so badly wanted to beat the game that I even had a game guide. Yes -- an actual game guide. I used to keep referring it to find everything about the game. I wouldn't have found half the stuff otherwise. You just have to compare the wear and tear on the Final Fantasy Walkthrough Guide against the other more academic guides to see which one was used more.
It was a very fulfilling game. To fight a boss battle and wait for the cinematic to happen afterward. To hear the wonderful conversations between the characters. To visit these new places and to meet these wonderfully quirky characters. I think the story and characters of Final Fantasy were what appealed to me the most. Especially the relation between Aeris and Cloud. Even the funny bits in between and all the goofing up (the parade rehearsals come to mind) eased the tension of the game. And honestly, I didn't cry when Aeris died, but it certainly moved me. It actually gave me the motivation to go ahead and finish the game. To take revenge.
And that's why I am writing this now. The last RPG I tried was FF8; which I felt was too tedious and uninteresting for my time and effort. Even in my PS3 I haven't come across a game that emotionally fulfills or drains you; you feel so disconnected with the events. Maybe it is because I have grown up. Maybe it's because I haven't played another decent RPG afterwards.
Final Fantasy VII has become part of nostalgia for me now. Part of what I used to enjoy during more innocent times. And I wish I could regain that feeling I had of playing FF7. As of now, my only consolation for all this is Nobuo Uematsu's brilliant soundtrack for the game. And it really takes me back to places -- right now to the church where Cloud falls down and meets Aeris the second time.