Solo Game Vacation: The Conclusioning
So as the curtain rises for the most successfully addictive mini-game I’ve been treated to in my MMO gaming career known only as Player Housing, I need to put the moratorium on my endeavors to play solo-games exclusively. Not that solo games will ever truly die in the vast dusty old library of entertainment I’ve amassed. Surely there will be days where I brave my hand long enough to wipe away the cobwebs and pull out an oldie and a goodie. Then of course my repeated promise of doing more videos where you get to watch me beat my head against a monitor repeatedly while jabbering like a monkey to try to unravel the puzzle box to unleash whatever cretins of good old fashioned joy lie within. I will do more of those. I promise. I like them. They give my ramblings a sense of purpose beyond listening to my screeching echo off the walls like some confused crow carrying on with himself like he’s hot ****.
I suppose I should close this out with the one thing that stands as a monument to the difference of online gaming versus offline gaming. That sin of the solo game experience that has been stripped away and beaten with a shame stick in the lights of “always online DRM” and achievement whoring. I speak of course of cheat codes. Be it a cipher for some hidden unlock or a rhythmic dance of button punches, I’d wager we all at one time or another knelt before the altar of Up Up Down Down B A Select Start and praised the name of Justin Bailey, whoever that happens to be. Stop looking at your feet, there’s no shame in using these arcane rituals to further your own career. Some of us don’t want to dick around with dying four billion, three hundred and seventy two thousand, eight hundred and six times to see what idiotic scheme Doctor Wily hastily slapped together in his garage. There’s no shame to be had, because SquareEnix has said so.
What’s that? SquareEnix you say? Didn’t they make that Final Fantasy game we all hated? (Take your pick, and you’ll find someone to agree with you that we “all” hated that one. My money’s on 10. Bite me, Tidus.) Well to close out this solo game vacation I decided to try out my copy of Final Fantasy VIII on Steam. Unlike my romp with NOTANACRONYM against Psycho Bishie who thankfully did not ask me to swap controller ports, I actually HAVE played Final Fantasy VIII before. I don’t remember a ton of it. I recall adventures with a weather phenomenon named protagonist who is part of a group whose name is not exactly an acronym… wait. But I DO remember enjoying it enough to debate the “mythology” and “lore” with my fellows in Chemistry class at public high school which may explain the D grade I received (I also kept eating the experiments). However, in retrospect and thanks to some videos by an internet reviewer named after silverware, I recalled that indeed there were some tedious annoying bits too.
So why play it? Well, to remember, I guess. To recall what it was like in my salad days when Final Fantasy was more than just a broken mess of tropes assembled into a statue of a teen with a funny sword. I mean, I still like the games. Still play them, but I think that the series has subsided some. Like a great wave that smashes across the shore, the impact is still felt. It ripples across the beach and its presence stains the dry sand dark with its influence that will color the genre for a good long while after. But all waves retreat, lose their muster, and surrender to the next great wave to come. But every now and then you want to look back at an old photograph, smell the age of it, and stare off in stupor as you recall how things used to be. Nostalgia, there’s no worse drug for a gamer.
Now my point in all this is that the Steam version of Final Fantasy VIII, like the Steam version of VII has built in boosters to help you out. In VII, you could raise your HP, MP and money to max. In VIII, through the same methodology you can add 100 draws of about a dozen or so common spells to your inventory. That’s it. Or so I thought. While magic draws are amazingly useful once you start junctioning them to things like strength or HP or whatever you want which unlike shoving a D battery into my Walkman actually improves the quality of whatever I’m shoving it into, it is a fairly limited boost. Only a dozen or so spells, and not even the good ones. But then I found out via the lost tome known as the store page that there actually additional boosts only accessible from within the game. Well, I scoured the menus for these damned boosts. I might as well been ordering my cheat Jamba Juice at a bloody Kentucky Fried Chicken of a GUI. Because it was no where to be found. I had been lied to. Cheated. Swindled. There were no boosts. No cheats. My retribution would be swift and apathetic as I planned to re-shelve my rose tinted glasses game for something else.
Then your faithful blogger remembered that Google existed now. Oh. Right.
Would seem that instead of some kind of shamanistic button presses that pound out a song to the ancients to gift their dark and wondrous powers, that a simple stroke of the F1-F5 keys unlock these treasure troves of tribulation tripping triumph. They include such blessings as nearly every hit delivering 9999 damage, being nigh unkillable in battle paired with limitless uses of limit breaks which I suppose would just make them “breaks”, max out all magic draws and gold, level up any and all equipped guardian forces (Those are summons for older fans, and GFs for those who are only familiar with the games somewhat random use of truncated language), and finally a fast forward button to speed you past conversations, battles, and cut scenes. Each of these abilities can be used at-will and 3/5ths can be toggled on like a light switch that manipulates the very light of god but without the risk of unleashing the apocalypse, the Armageddon, or the Al Roker on us all.
This means of course that nearly every facet of annoying bull**** can be counter acted with a single button. That is of course, except for the card game. That card game. A menace to the free peoples of whatever world this game takes place on. Even the all powerful cheat codes cannot circumvent those blasted pieces of cardboard that taunt and mock with their every changing rules and regulations like some sort of totalitarian threat that transcends borders of nations, class, and good sense. But beyond the card game, you can mostly deal with anything you want using these cheats.
Overall it means that you have been given divine sanction from the creators at SquareEnix themselves to plunder one of their classics and gut the thing like a floundering fish whose dead eyes hide the guilt of its own follies so that you can enjoy the game the way you want. Speed up those long summons, kill everything you want, and by the grace of Cid by the time you finish the prologue you can get the Diablo GF, max out its AP using a cheat like plunging a needle of metaphorical steroids into the literal ass of the devil, and unlock the ability to skip random encounters for the rest of the game. Done. Finito. And since another cheat guarantees you 9999 damage on basic hits you have no need to grind out levels, magic, or weapons upgrades. Sweet Planet almighty I’m free at last.
And you made this possible, SquareEnix. You who in a world full of those who turned their backs on gaming’s shady heritage to give a sense of “fair play” to the sycophants who pray to the altar of multiplayer, online gaming, have looked back at the old days of drive by level skips, power up smuggling down dirt back roads, and rigged debug modes to get the world and everything in it and said “Yes, we will not ignore what we are. We are gaming. We will have cheats!” I’d say that you were true Americans, SquareEnix, but you’re Japanese and I am lacking in the proficiencies of culture exchange to make an appropriate equivalent compliment, thus you are true Americans, SquareEnix. Planet bless you.