For The Ones That Got Away... - TOGNick Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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For The Ones That Got Away...

It's Valentine's Day next week, the retail stores are reminding us to spend time with our special someone, and as such I'm reminiscing on the ones that got away. You know what I mean, that special time you spent with people, but for whatever reason you just never had the nerve or patience to finish what you started. Of course since this is a video game outlet, I'm going to dig deep into my closet full of skeletons and pull out the games that I spent so much precious time with, but for whatever reason never had the wear with all to pop the big question.

Final Fantasy IX

When FF IX released in 2000, I was a somewhat bitter gamer at the time, a senior in high school, and trying to clean the taste of Final Fantasy VIII from my mouth (yes that title is in my opinion the absolutely worst in the series.) But like the die hard JRPG fan I was, and am becoming again, I picked up my copy on day one, sat down put it in my PS1, opened up the strategy guide, and disappointment happened. First thing the strategy guide was immensely insensitive to those without online access. My family at the time didn't have any kind of direct internet access, AOL was still the way for us at the time, and unfortunately going to the computer and waiting to log on was just too much time from the game.

The next piece of disappointment was that the leveling system, at the time didn't make any sense. For some reason this was how I justified my decision, even though subsequent attempts to play the game I found it to be relatively easy to get along with. The leveling system was standard in character progression, gather XP gain a level. However, skills were tied to the equipment a character had equipped at the time, and to unlock permanently you need to build up Skill Points. For whatever reason this didn't make sense, mostly because I was impatient, I tried to race my friends through the game, I lost, the quest of Zidane never finished.

The final piece of this puzzle, also came with the heavy release cycle of the year. Chrono Cross (an absolutely underrated game) released that summer, Grandia 2 and Skies of Arcadia. I also failed to mention Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2, oh and a new console the Playstation 2 was destined to land in my hands that winter as well. Among all the games and the new console, Final Fantasy IX was lost among the crowd.  Subsequent attempts at playing have all landed in similar disappointment. I once got about 15 hours into the game and almost to the end of the first quest, but like all relationships sometimes it's best to let past be the past.

Star Ocean: The Second Story

This isn't a tale like Final Fantasy IX, not this love story ends on a much harsher note. Star Ocean: The Second Story, was an extremely challenging RPG at the time. I'm not sure how I heard about it, probably from my cousin, he still talks about it to this day, but I found myself a copy and dove right into one of the more engrossing games I have ever played. Like many Enix games and other off-beat JRPG's the battle system was a surprising turn from the turn based formula I was used to. The party and your main character, of which you choose one or the other to begin the game with, battle enemies on an open field in a more action focused game play.

More action oriented combat took away the ability to adjust to an encounter that turns south quickly, but it did add more excitement to the overall battling system. In my first run with the game, I hadn't mastered grinding in a RPG, or learned some of the finer subtler strategies to the genre (not buying equipment, always buying restorative items, and grinding before new dungeons) and I really wasn't ready for the complexity of the ability system. Each character has several skills and abilities that they can use outside of battle for various effects. Most of this was for crafting purposes, and acquiring the necessary components was simple enough, but the game had a preposterous level of failure rate for simple actions. Frustration set in, I quit and started the next project.

About 6 or 7 years ago I found a copy of the game with my original PS1 tucked away in storage at my dad's house and I pulled the game out to begin again. Unfortunately destiny had wound its way against me, and my PS1 didn't agree with the game, the PS2 was broken at the time, and I was poor. Me and the girlfriend at the time moved out of our apartment, and somehow among the confusion Star Ocean: The Second Story was lost. Perpetually disappointing and abusive, since this second time around I had made it to the second disc, was comfortable in my ability to work with the systems in the game, and she ran off on me. No note, no good bye, just questions of what could have been. I tried searching for this one that got away, but the online market for old JRPGs requires paying collectors prices on some of these titles. Unfortunately Star Ocean: The Second Story never made its way onto PSN and as such the price to regain my lost one is way too high for my means right now.

Xenogears

The one that literally I quit on because I wasn't good enough for them. This gem from Square on the PS1 was an instant hit in my opinion. Giant Mechs, a cool anime look, a great story, and an epic scale from beginning to end. Unfortunately the end is where I got before I realized that I was horribly ill prepared for the final boss. See I was, and still am not a very smart saver, by that I mean in games I'll save over one game slot over and over. Perhaps it was because space on memory cards was precious, and perhaps I was just lazy, but I went into this final boss literally incapable of scratching him.

Of course when reading the strategy guide I found that the necessary Gears parts I needed were at this shop outside of the dungeon, and of course I reached the point of no return. Xenogears isn't one that got away, but it is the girl I jilted at altar. I apologize to her, she's still sitting in my drawer of games, all fresh and sealed from a new copy I bought off Amazon. I promise her when I'm ready I'll come back, but I can still see the hurt on her face when she sees me.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater


Another embarrassing entry in my list of games that got away. I began Metal Gear Solid 3 about a 2 months before I got my PS3, so roughly two years ago. This was after buying a slim PS2 off my assistant manager at work, and having not finished the title before I got my PS3, I decided to trade all of that system in to get more money for PS3 games. Unfortunately Snake's prequel adventure was never finished. I know I can fix this problem now, but for whatever reason I just can't bring up the courage. Just another game that I let slip through in the pursuit of the new hotness, and just another game that I'm sure will find its way back.

Summoner

THQ is now defunct, and Summoner was an early PS2 title that garnered mixed reaction, however I found myself enjoying the game to an extent. Enough that I pushed through a lot of the game. I can't really recall what happened at the time, but I distinctly remember hitting a rough patch of gameplay, and perhaps Dynasty Warriors 2 at the time of stopping. It's a shame I did as well, this game offered some great gameplay mechanics, and the quest system was something that I hadn't really seen before in RPGs up to that point.

Unfortunately like so many games that were started, this one just slipped through the cracks. I had placed it back into the system after that one failed attempt, and the age of the game and mechanics shown readily through. While one that got away, it was also one that I was far too glad to say goodby to the next time we crossed paths.

Persona 3


Another RPG, a theme that runs through my gaming career, and another game that I bought too close to also getting a PS3, and thus trading in the old for the new. There was nothing inherently wrong with the game, I loved it actually, but it came too late in my system lifespan. Luckily I have recently downloaded the title again on my PS3, and have begun to correct this mistake, well I did until I picked up Ni No Kuni. Sigh another one that had a brief glimmer to make it a second go, but got left out for the younger model.

Fallout 3

The wastelands of DC, and subsequently the inhabitants within have seen my shadowy form twice emerge from the Vault. The first time through I became distracted, and the lack of direction was daunting, so I put the quest to find dear old dad on hold. When I loaded up that save a second time, I found the VATS system overtly confusing, and I had no idea what I was doing. So I scrubbed my record from the world, and set out to rewrite my mistakes from the first emergence. The second time I freed myself from the Vault I was making excellent progress, until I hit a DLC quest.

Yes the quest where you purposely put yourself into prison, yeah that ruined this playthrough. I was happy, I had great weapons, an awesome stash of ammo, megaton's fate was hanging on my head on whether or not to let it stay not a crater, and I hit a slow paced DLC with no real exit until I had finished that quest line there. I was devastated with boredom, and another game came along, and another after that. It's been a year again, I know the date that I emerge from the vault approaches soon, I just hope that when it does I don't find myself being distracted yet again.

Red Dead Redemption

For whatever reason this modern classic just never suck its teeth in me, I would let it grab me, then it would let itself go. I can't say what it is, I love the characters, the setting, and overall theme of the game, but each time I dig in I get pulled out of the game just as fast. I have never made it to Mexico, never seen a mountain lion, never killed a bear, and just generally never got past too much more than the first 10 hours.

I know in my heart of hearts that someday I'll saddle up again, it's the longest owned game in my PS3 library for a reason, but I believe knowing the shocking finale may be a reason as to why I have sat on this one for so long. Either way it's another beauty that got away. It's also another game that I thoroughly enjoyed but for whatever reason some other game came between the two of us, sadly it's just another number on this shameful list.

These games I've mentioned, except possibly Summoner, are all incredible games, they were good to me for the most part, yet I let them slip by. Regrets, depression, loneliness, and a mixture of joy are what surround some single people on Valentine's Day, while my girlfriend and I will probably be spending that day in quietly, I can't help but think about those lonely nights, and wonder if any of the ones that got away can forgive me.

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