Weeaboo Wednesday: The JRPG; Disc 3: Final Battles, Villains, and the Long GoodbyeAugust 5, 2009
Over the last few weeks, you’ve come to learn what to expect from the story and characters that you’ll find when you take your first steps into a Japanese role-playing game. You know now that it doesn’t matter whether or not you care what’s going on, or if the characters are likable—you’re just along for the ride. And now, you’re at the end. You’ve spent 30 hours getting through the story, another 40 hours forcing birds to fuck, and another 63 hours leveling your characters so you can actually finish the damn game. Now all that remains is to take on the effeminate villain who awaits on the other side of a vast expanse of pain and suffering that we experts call the final dungeon. So come with me on this last leg of our journey so we can put an end to this once and for all!
So you’ve chased the villain into his cave/tower/other dimension/past/future/server. Between you and your foe, you’ll find an odd assortment of nonsense, semi-symbolism, and terrifying enemies. Escher-esque shenanigans aside, you’ll find that all of the abilities your plucky heroes have gained will be put to the test. By that I mean you’ll spend an hour moving through a gauntlet with nary a save point. The idea being to substitute actual challenge with frustration.
Once you’ve passed the huge obstacle between you and the game’s near end, you’ll be face to face with your most hated foe. Sometimes this means climactic struggle, other times, it is a bit… different. Alternatively, you can just fight a dude with a bad haircut. My point is that it’s really a mixed bag. The battles all end and begin the same way, with pseudo-philosophizing, and bitching. Most of which is incoherent. Here are the highlights from the pre-final fight banter in Final Fantasy VII:
Cloud (our silent brooding protagonist): It’s not over yet… This isn’t the end yet
Barret (a hilarious/offensive black stereotype and supporting character): Holy is the prayer of AVALANCHE (the name of their organization)… Of Marlene and Dyne….. And everyone on the planet!
Cloud: Aeris’ (the name of a deceased female lead/love interest) memories… our memories… We came… to tell you… our memories… Come planet! Show us your answer! And Sephiroth (addressing the villain now)!! To the settling of everything! [To be clear, the ellipses were all in the script. I didn't add anything]
This is what we, the players, are given to pump us up before a fight: pissed off adolescents yelling poorly punctuated nonsense. Often times, it is a surprisingly effective device. I attribute it to a Stockholm syndrome induced attachment to these characters even when they are vomiting word-salads like the one we just read.
But what happens after you defeat you’re most hated foe? Well, chances are you’ll have to fight him again as he transforms into progressively more threatening shapes. After that though you’ll be treated to a looooong explanation of what happened to all your favorite characters (like parts 1 and 2, of the Final Fantasy VI ending… or parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 of Xenosaga’s lumbering nightmare of an ending). Truly, watching all 30 minutes of a game’s ending is the true final challenge. Now that you’ve done that you can go fight the hidden optional bosses—YAY.
With that last step out of the way, you’re done! You’ve braved cliches, challenges, and madness to make it this far. You should be well prepared for your first real JRPG experience. That’s right, these tedious posts have been a illusion! At the risk of this tale’s ending running long, I’ll leave you with my hope that you’ll do the right thing when it comes to picking up a JRPG, and by do the right thing, I mean buy World of Warcraft.