Sadness and Great Music – Trails in the Sky FC Spoiler-Free “Review”

Just last night, I finally beat this incredible game after trying to play it since November of 2020. I have quite a story to tell with this one, but we’ll get to all of that soon enough. Starting off, I’d like to give my actual official opinion of the game after having played it all the way through, at last. Honestly, even though this game is just merely the prologue to a much, much longer story, I felt that it could stand well on its own. This game is definitely slow and takes a long time for the plot to get going, but the slowness doesn’t make it bad, if you ask me. This game fulfills its purpose by getting you attached to the characters and the kingdom of Liberl, one of the three main countries on the continent of Zemuria. It makes you, the player, spend plenty of time in this world, getting to know all the characters both playable and otherwise, and even though the plot may take a while to pick up, it has a warm, cozy feeling to it. It really makes you feel at home in this kingdom, and the more you play and uncover, the more you wish to protect everyone and everything within it and beyond, especially as you start meeting people from the other countries in Zemuria. I absolutely loved this game, and though I may have had a difficult time with many of the boss fights, even I, someone who struggles with most video games, managed to beat it on the standard difficulty setting and enjoyed every second of the game.

Now that I’ve stated my official opinion, I’d like to start with my own personal story, then talk about the things I liked and slightly disliked about the game specifically.

My personal story with this game is a bit weird. It starts with one of the games that came long after it: Trails of Cold Steel. At the time of being introduced to it, I was getting burned out on the RPGs I’d been playing mostly at the time and asked a co-worker of mine to recommend RPGs that weren’t Final Fantasy, Shin Megami Tensei, or Dragon Quest. I just wanted to try something different. On that list he sent. Trails of Cold Steel came up. It was a somewhat familiar name. At least, the Trails name was familiar. I’d seen it years before when I watched an old friend stream one of the Trails in the Sky games, but that was long before I knew anything about the series. At any rate, I got Trails of Cold Steel and absolutely fell in love with it. It made me want to look into the rest of the series and play as much of it as I could, knowing that all the games followed a single plotline. I found out that the original Trails in the Sky was originally on the PSP. At the time, I was unemployed and unable to purchase any new games, so I got the game on an emulator at first and played it that way.

I made it pretty far that way originally, but then my girlfriend and I moved to Ohio, and the computer I was using got busted in the move, so I lost all that progress. I decided to give it another go using my old, rather terrible laptop, and it worked just fine, much to my surprise. I ended up making it much further that way. I think I even got to the end of Chapter Three before I stopped playing. I was finally at a point where I could afford things again. Understanding how much I knew I’d love this series, I wanted to get the games officially and support the wonderful creators that came up with this amazing story, so I bought the entire Trails in the Sky trilogy on Steam. I had to restart from the beginning for a fourth time (the third time I didn’t mention was for a Let’s Play I planned on doing for the PSP version that I had to quit due to accidentally saving over my file), but that wasn’t an issue. I was admittedly pretty burned out on the first two chapters of the game because of this, but I still pushed through, eager to see what resided beyond the parts of the game I’d already seen so many times.

At long last, after months of playing, my first journey through the kingdom of Liberl came to an end. I was definitely in tears by the end, I will most definitely admit, but I loved it. Seeing this world from the perspective of the game’s central protagonists Estelle and Joshua Bright was an unforgettable experience, and one I will think of for many years to come. Especially now that I’m playing its direct sequel, of course. But that is my story with this game.

To jump into specifics, I’ll start with the things I didn’t like real quick, because there weren’t many things to dislike, to be honest. Now that I’m thinking about the game from as much of an objective standpoint as I can take, there’s really only one thing I even sort of dislike, and it’s hardly anything. The only thing that I wasn’t a big fan of was how slow the story can be at times. I personally had no issue with it; like I said, I enjoyed every second I played of this game. But when recommending this game to people, it’s a little difficult, because a lot of people tend to lack patience. A lot of people out there aren’t playing a video game to read a book; they want to jump right into the action, which I don’t fault them for at all; that’s what most video games are about anyway, but that is not what the Trails series is about. The Trails series does more than just provide a source of entertainment; it’s an experience, something to truly dig into and enjoy. Something worth investing your time in. It is indeed like reading a book, I’d say. Dialogue among characters is a major focus on this game, and that brings me to the things I really liked.

While we’re on the note of dialogue, let’s talk about that, shall we? The writing style of the Trails series is something that really stands out to me. After playing Persona 3, the game that essentially changed how I view games in general, something I always appreciate in a video game is what I call an “honest writing style.” By that, what I mean is that the dialogue between characters has a human feel. Not everything is grammatically correct all the time. People shorten words or use abbreviated versions. They often use strange combinations of words. They have differing dialects depending on regional differences. (Though that last one is something to be used carefully, I’d say. You definitely don’t want it to be overdone to the point of being offensive, like what some Dragon Quest games do with their heavily-forced Spanish accented characters.) Trails in the Sky excels at that, and it really gives the whole game a more human feel to it. It makes you feel like the characters in the world are very real, including the NPCs.

That brings me to another note on this same topic. Something that the Trails series does that I absolutely love is how they treat their NPCs. In every region you go to, there’s a collection of NPCs with their own stories, and if you take the time to talk to them as you progress the plot, you get to see their stories advance. They don’t stay static. They move forward and grow, just like you do and the protagonists do. They endure their own hardships along with yours, and sometimes, their lives even change depending on your own actions. I can understand why some people wouldn’t have the patience to go around and talk to every single NPC every time the story progressed; even I didn’t when I was at the end of Trails of Cold Steel because I was just ready to progress the plot, but it’s really rewarding if you’re someone who appreciates good writing and wonderful attention to detail.

Another thing I love is the game’s central protagonist: Estelle Bright. I always appreciate when a game actually has a female lead as the protagonist, and Estelle is absolutely incredible. I wish I could say more, but I don’t want to spoil anything for you guys, so I’ll just leave it at saying that she is a wonderful protagonist in every way and I’d recommend playing it just to see how her story evolves throughout the game.

To wrap things up, this game is, as I’ve said, an experience that goes beyond simply playing a video game. It has so much humanity within its storytelling. The music portrays the game’s emotions perfectly. The writing for every single character blows me away with how well it’s done. The kingdom of Liberl itself is full of so many wonderfully strange people and mysteries. I cannot recommend this game enough. If you are even remotely interested in playing, this game is on Steam for a pretty reasonable price for how much story and gameplay you get with this game, if I recall correctly. If you haven’t played it before but decide to try it because of this, feel free to let me know how your journey through the kingdom of Liberl goes! Or if you have already played the game, also let me know! I always enjoy meeting fellow Trails fans.

Philosophy in Dragon Quest

As shown above, I recently made the decision to revisit the Dragon Quest series after quite some time away from it. My recent obsession has been with games made by Falcom, primarily the Ys series and the Legend of Heroes series. But in my own personal life recently, I’ve been going through somewhat of a difficult time. It made me want to go back to something simpler, something I’ve been meaning to get back into but just haven’t done so.

Enter Dragon Quest. A game that had so much of an impact that it even managed to make its way into the Yakuza series. I’ve been in the middle of playing three Dragon Quest games at a time: 3, 8, and 11, though I’ve been very on and off about playing them. But last night, when I was deciding what to stream, I decided I wanted to play something that didn’t require too much thought or investment into the story. The first Dragon Quest was the first game to come to mind, and I’m honestly so happy I came back to this incredible game.

By modern RPG standards, it can certainly be seen as a bit of a slog to get through. Hell, I’m surprised I managed to make a three-hour stream out of it, to tell the truth. But something about the stresses of life bogging me down brought me back to what I love about this series most, and it’s the fact that things are tough to get through.

When I started playing again, I decided to challenge myself by getting the hero to the maximum level capacity, which I believe is level 30 in the version I’m playing. It’ll be a long road, but the longer I played last night, the more comfort I found in the idea of spending so much time getting stronger. I spent a fair amount of time fighting against weaker enemies and slowly gaining levels, but it reminded me of a quote from Yakuza: Like a Dragon that really stood out to me. “If you fight enough slimes, you eventually level up.” In context, this quote referred to the two main characters up to that point, about how they were both middle-aged men with a bit of a history and unsure how they could move forward in life given that they were both homeless, but they decided to try moving forward anyway against all odds. That got me thinking about the game and how willing I was to endure the fights, knowing that each and every battle I fought brought me another step closer to the level I wanted to be at. Then that got me thinking about how much these RPGs really reflect life.

Life is a series of struggles. We’re constantly faced with problems and adversity in general. Oftentimes, it feels like we’re never truly making progress because we’re so quick to judge ourselves that we forget progress isn’t seen. Not immediately, anyway. But every battle we face, even the smallest of battles like getting out of bed in the morning during a time when our depression is just too strong, we’re gaining experience, just like the hero gaining his own experience fighting the smallest monsters and overcoming the challenge. In such an RPG, patience is required to enjoy the game to its fullest. Doesn’t that sound an awful lot like life as well? There’s no use rushing everything, because before you know it, the game will be over. Your life will come to a close and you’ll realize that you missed so much of what happened because you were in so much of a hurry to get to some destination or another. Life happens day by day, not event by event. We’re here for the long run, just like if you decide to settle in with an RPG, so why not enjoy the journey?

Playing Dragon Quest last night brought about an entirely new appreciation for the game as well. The more I played and took my time to admire the artwork, the simplistic gameplay, the music, and the writing, the more good I saw in it all. People often talk crap about the Switch ports of the Erdrick trilogy because they’re just ports of the mobile versions of the game, but when I was playing last night, I saw so much love put into the game. Every second I played, it felt like I was playing something big, despite the game being decades old. It made me feel the same magic and wonder I used to feel when playing video games as a kid. It also made me learn something new.

The original Dragon Quest features a single playable character: you, the hero. As such, it can be believed that the story is about this sole hero saving the princess and striking down the Dragonlord (or joining him if you choose to get the bad ending). But as I played, it made me think of something. You encounter so many people on this rather short journey, so many others who may not be fighting directly beside you, but are helping you nonetheless. Townsfolk with gossip that proves to be a helpful hint, shopkeepers willing to give you better equipment to keep you alive on the battlefield, the sages who wish to ascertain your skill so they can assist you in your quest to defeat the Dragonlord, and the king of Alefgard, a man beset by grief from the loss of his wife and the kidnapping of his daughter, but he still remains strong because he knows you need him to be; he knows that his kingdom needs him to be. For how simplistic the original Dragon Quest is in its story, it has so much humanity and heart to it that I feel I’m seeing for the first time every time I play the game again, and it’s beautiful.

This realization of our hero’s journey made me think of life once more. How often do we feel isolated and alone in our aimless wanderings through life? Probably pretty often for a good majority of us. Social media doesn’t help that feeling all that much. Despite the word social being in the name, I feel it’s anything but that. It drives people apart and makes us feel even more isolated or inadequate. But in truth, we always have people in our corner. People who make the ingredients for the food we eat and keep us sustained, friends and family who may not always clearly have our backs but are watching out for us, people we don’t even know sending their wishes into the ether that those who feel alone may understand that there are people who care about them. We aren’t as alone as we often feel. Whether we’re aware of it or not, there’s someone there for us, hoping and wishing the best for us.

All that being said, you can probably tell that the original Dragon Quest is already proving to have a massive effect on me despite only being three hours into the journey. I’m more than okay with this, and I’m happy to continue this journey tonight. I hope you were able to get something of value from reading this, and if you wish to catch future streams live, I stream as frequently as I can on my Twitch channel.

Philosophy in Persona 1

If you’ve played the beginning of Persona 1, you should be at least somewhat familiar with the seemingly out-of-context quote that shows up right at the beginning. It’s something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit recently, and I really appreciate the message behind it. At least, what I think the message is.

To provide context, the quote, which was said by a Chinese philosopher named Zhuangzi, goes something like this: “Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly. At the time, I was only conscious of my happiness of a butterfly. Soon, I awoke, and was myself again. However, I wondered, was I dreaming I was a butterfly? Or am I now a butterfly dreaming I’m a man? However, there is a clear distinction between the two, and that is the transformation of the physical.”

I may have butchered the quote itself, but that is more or less what the quote is. You get the general idea. Every time I think about this quote, it makes me rather happy, strangely enough. I think it’s because of what I took away from the quote, particularly the last part. The fact that the distinction between the two is the transformation of the physical. To me, this indicates that regardless of you being a butterfly or a human, you are still yourself on the inside, which I feel is quite fitting for a Persona game. Aside from that, the other thing I took away from that is the fact that he felt his happiness as a butterfly. My interpretation of this is that it’s very well possible to feel the same happiness as humans that we would simply fluttering around like butterflies. It’s a good mindset to have. We as humans are so bogged down by the world around us, by the minuscule problems that snowball into much larger problems that cause us to crash and burn that we simply forget happiness, or actively choose not to be happy because we’re afraid that feeling happy will backfire on us. However, something important to remember is that bad things will always happen. But if you’re spending all your time being grouchy and upset simply in preparation for these bad things to happen, you’re gonna miss all the good times that come along.

To me, this quote sort of indicates that. We as human beings can be as happy as we would be fluttering as free butterflies. It simply takes putting ourselves in that mindset, I feel. I know it’s not that simple, but it’s certainly something I’d like to put into practice myself to see if I can find more personal happiness within.

Final Fantasy IX – Not Just a Game, But an Experience (Spoilers)

Final Fantasy IX is a game I’ve had quite a history with. It was the first of the 3D Final Fantasy games I played almost a decade ago, and I’ve always enjoyed its charm. But for some reason, I could never beat it. It was typically external reasons. The first time I tried, my PS1 broke and I could no longer play it. The second time was on someone else’s system, so I didn’t have enough time to get to the end. The list goes on. I’ve had multiple versions of the game over the years, but was never able to beat it for some reason.

Until yesterday, that is.

For the past few months, I’ve been playing the Switch port of the game. It was really quite nice, given the fast forward function makes level grinding significantly faster. There were a few glitches and my game crashed multiple times, but through all the struggles, I finally made it to the end of the game yesterday. I knew how it ended because I used to be obsessed with Final Fantasy stuff online, so I learned much about the plot of games through reading about them, but it was the first time I got to see it firsthand. It’s quite rare for me to beat a game I’ve never beaten before, as it takes me years to get through one, but anyone can tell you that there’s a big difference between just knowing how a game ends and experiencing it for yourself. The feeling of happiness and accomplishment that came from beating this game I’ve been trying to beat for almost 10 years was indescribable.

I think that comes from the fact that you played through the game to thee end yourself. You experienced the same hardships as the characters in the game. You saw their emotions as the story developed, you were there with them the whole time. So to finally see the story come to a close brings a sense of satisfaction and, well, closure. I feel like that’s obvious to most people who play games, but to someone like me who never really gets that chance due to procrastination or what have you, it’s like a new realization. After beating it, even my girlfriend encouraged me to start beating more games I’ve been wanting to beat over the years to get that feeling of accomplishment and closure with all these games I’ve started but never finished. With that, I’m on a bit of a journey, though that’s all beside the point. I want to talk about my experience with Final Fantasy IX.

I’ve seen the beginning of this game so many times that I basically have it memorized. I don’t know if it’s a poor attention span or what, but that’s typically my Achilles’ heel when it comes to video games. I start these games over so much that I get bored and eventually procrastinate, making it to where I just never make progress. (That’s why I haven’t beaten Persona 5 Royal yet.) It’s also well-known that the combat speed in Final Fantasy IX is incredibly slow, especially when compared to the rest of the series. That’s a big part of why it took me so long to finally beat this gmae. However, once I got past that and just dealt with it, I started enjoying the game much more. When you play a Final Fantasy game, you’re usually in it for the story and characters, not the gameplay. (Though I do have a fondness for turn-based RPGs as a whole.) With that in mind, I appreciated the game more. I took more time looking at my surroundings, I read the dialogue with mindfulness, taking it all in, and just enjoying the music as a whole, adn I found it was far more enjoyable than I ever anticipated.

On top of that, reaching the end of the game was quite a trip. All the numerous storylines you’ve seen throughout the game coming together at the end was amazing. The last time I got to Disc Four of the game, I was still 14 years old, so seeing the endgame as an adult was like experiencing it for the first time. I’d heard that the ending feels rushed, and that the final boss doesn’t really make much sense, but when I played it myself, I feel like it worked well. The only part that felt rushed to me was the final dungeon itself, Memoria. It was relatively short, and while you did get some nice drops of lore, it felt rather vague. Perhaps that was intentional, because everything after Memoria no longer felt rushed to me.

I finally got to the two fights preceding the final boss. The first one was a fight I never won as a kid, so when I beat it, I was nervous but excited at the same time. I was ready to take Kuja on. I had a bit of trouble, but I had an incredibly solid team at the same time, so I took him down with relative “ease,” if you can even call it that. When I beat him, I wanted to stop for a moment, but I pressed on, ready to take on the true final boss, which is a character not technically mentioned at all throughout the game, which is why I feel people think it makes no sense. But it made sense to me. To me, the final boss represents death and the fear of death that many of us mortals feel. Beating the boss does not mean putting an end to death, but it’s like a symbolic fight where you cast away your fear of death and choose to live without that fear. That’s how I saw it. You come face-to-face with the fact that you will indeed die someda and when the fear of it comes up, instead of letting it consume your days alive, you fight the fear, telling it that you know it will happen someday, but there’s literally no reason to fear it. Especially when you still have life in you.

Final Fantasy IX, to me, is a game about that existentialism, the knowledge that you will die, but it’s okay. Right here and now, you’re alive. While you have this life, don’t stress out about the inevitable. Instead, just live. Don’t just survive: live. We’re not meant to live in fear, sadness, or anger. We’re not meant to be alone either. Love people. Love yourself especially. You may be your own worst critic, but if you were to ask your friends, if they are good friends who see the real you, they’d probably say you’re pretty damn great and are deserving of life. Like Zidane says to Kuja at the end, no one in the world is useless. So if you feel that way, that would be your emotions lying to you. I could just be getting preachy, but these are my honest feelings after having seen the whole game firsthand. Final Fantasy IX has an amazing message, one I think everyone needs to know.

Ys I & II Chronicles – First Impressions

Feels like it’s been a while since I wrote one of these “reviews.” Probably because it’s been a while since I felt so passionate about the beginning of a game. (Depression’s a jerk, that’s for sure.) However, I just started playing this game last night, and let me tell you: the impression it made on me is so incredible. Last time a game’s intro got to me this much was when I played Persona 3 for the first time.

At first, I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. I’m far more of a turn-based RPG fan. I got this game because it’s made by Nihon Falcom, the creators of one of my favorite RPGs of all time: Trails of Cold Steel. With that, I was expecting it to be a turn-based game, but when I realized it was an action RPG, it slightly turned me away. Only for a little bit, however. I gave it a day’s thought, then booted the game up last night. Let me say I was blown away.

The combat in Ys I is very simplistic. It was designed with accessibility in mind, so basically, all you need is the D-pad or analog stick to fight. You ram into the enemy, and if you hit them from the right angle, you can damage them without taking damage yourself. It’s simple, but when you get into a rhythm of ramming into enemies and grinding, it gets rather fun!

I can’t say much about the plot yet since I’m only two hours into the game and just made it to the first dungeon, but I can say that it’s one of those stories where less is really more. The game focuses a lot more on exploration and combat, but the story is very present. You know the protagonist well (for the most part), you understand the circumstances, and the plot still progresses. A lot of the dialogue mostly comes from talking to NPCs in the various towns, but that’s also where you get more insight on the plot. So in a way, you can sort of choose how much information you as the player take in.

Enough about that. The thing that really stuck out to me was the music. As a fan of the Legend of Heroes series, it’s no secret to me that Falcom games have kickass music, and this game is no exception. You start out in a town, and once you’ve done your exploring and talking to NPCs, the only other step you can think to do is to leave town despite everyone’s warnings saying it’s dangerous out there. However, the moment you step outside, you’re greeted by one of the most kickass overworld themes I think I’ve ever heard.

Let’s hope YouTube doesn’t take this video down.

Once I heard this song and got used to the incredibly addicting combat system, let’s just say I was absolutely hooked. This song, along with the simplistic-yet-amazing combat, makes you feel like a total badass when you’re going around wiping out the monsters threatening the local towns. I spent forever just grinding last night because this music never got old.

I certainly plan on playing the rest of the series after beating this game, that’s for sure. This was way too good of a first impression for me to pass up on the rest of the games.

Making a Game

I’m not what you’d call an expert developer. Hell, I’m hardly a developer as is. I only know basic coding for games, and I generally work with premade engines like RPG Maker and such so I only have to worry about the game itself. Even so, I find that developing a game, especially as a solo developer, has been a whole chore in itself.

For well over a year, I’ve been using RPG Maker MV to create a story-driven fantasy RPG called The Crystal’s Tale. This game is inspired by the plot of the first novel I have ever written and maintains the original concept while taking the many things I’ve learned over the past 17 years as an author into consideration. And in that past year, I have completed the Prologue chapter, and as of this article being written, I am still not done with Chapter One.

It’s not like what I’ve created is short, either. For only being the prologue and first chapter, the game has quite a bit of substance to it, lasting almost four hours long counting the duration of the optional dungeon. (Even then, the optional dungeon takes up about an hour or less depending on when you choose to go in.) But still, for how long I’ve been working on it, you would expect that I would be a little further along in the process. That’s what I assumed, at least. That’s a long time to be working on a game.

But of course, there are more factors in this process than have been accounted for. Life events and changes, work, other creative endeavors (I’m an author first and foremost, so the game comes secondary to my writing work), the list goes on. However, even if you take those out of the way, I still probably wouldn’t have been finished with the first chapter yet. Why is that? Because of the work that goes into making a game by yourself.

When you’re a solo developer, you are the whole dev team. You’re the writer, the programmer, the artist, the music composer, the director, the producer, and so much more, even when using an engine as simple and easy to use as RPG Maker. RPG Maker has some amazing artwork, music, and sound effects built into the engine, which are amazing as placeholders or if you just want to make a game with the default assets. I’m using the art in the engine for now since doing all my art for this game that will potentially last 30-80 hours would take much longer, and I want the base game finished before I do all of that.

However, there is something I am doing that impedes my progress, and that is composing every single track in the game.

I have a background in music. Nothing extensive; I took four months of music theory, eight years of choir, a couple years of musical theatre, and I’ve been experimenting in music composition since I was 14 years old. And as a fan of video game music, developing my own game and putting my own music in it sounds ideal. But with this, the problem lies with the fact that I want the soundtrack to have a unique song for almost every situation. I even want the main battle theme to change every time you start a new chapter. Doing this, though, results in me stopping the progress of my game for weeks, sometimes months, until I get the music I want written. That’s just how my work flow has been, since I’m not always in the mood to work on my music.

With that being said, it will likely take plenty of time for me to get this game finished, especially as a solo developer who is way too determined to make sure the soundtrack is as good as can be. However, I am excited to share it with you guys. I plan on releasing it completely for free to the public once it is finished, and I will provide updates here! If you are familiar with RPG Maker and have any suggestions or tips or anything, feel free to let me know!

Here are some samples of the game’s soundtrack so far!

This is the Overworld theme. At least, the first one.
This is the theme of the first town in the game.
This is the first main battle theme in the game.
And here’s my personal favorite. This track plays during battles in the first optional dungeon.

What Made You Fall in Love With Video Games?

This is a question I am genuinely curious about for pretty much anyone. If you’re passionate about video games, then at some point in time, there was one game that sparked that passion. In the comments, let me know what is that video game that made you fall in love with the whole medium, and what about that game is what made you feel that way?

Nostalgia in Video Games

I’ve been on a Final Fantasy kick the past few days, going back and playing a bunch at once, which is never a good idea, but I like to keep my options open, so I generally play multiple games at a time instead of focusing on one. (Gotta love starting with a run-on sentence.) But after playing them for a while, I got to thinking about my feelings regarding the series. Primarily, the fact that my tastes have changed.

Growing up, Final Fantasy IX was my go-to game, at least until my PS1 broke. Then I just got the port on the PSP and PS3 before it was released on the current gen consoles. There was something I loved about its world, the characters, and the story it had to tell. Back then, I didn’t have as much experience with the series as I do now. I was still new to RPGs in general. But after spending almost 50 hours on the game in my current playthrough, I’ve realized that I don’t quite feel its magic as much as I used to. Granted, that could be because of dealing with adult life in the middle of a pandemic and a screwed up government, so magic is pretty hard to come by these days, but still.

Whether it’s that or the fact that I just burned myself out on the game, I don’t feel it the way I used to. With that, I decided to take a break from Final Fantasy IX and start a new file in Final Fantasy VII instead. (With the help of my girlfriend, because I am indecisive and couldn’t choose between VII and VIII, so she chose for me.) The moment I booted the game up and heard the opening theme, I felt right back at home. Even as I write this post, I’m blaring the Final Fantasy VII soundtrack. I’m already three hours in with Aerith in Wall Market, and still having a blast.

After playing it for just a few minutes, however, I realized something. I even talked to my brother about it to see if he felt the same. I have the Final Fantasy VII Remake, and I have absolutely and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, I seem to enjoy the original game more despite the fact that the remake added so many amazing new parts and fixed many of the narrative issues the original game had. But why is that, when the remake is most definitely an improvement? My brother got back to me and said he felt the same way, and explained it’s because of the nostalgia we have attached to the game.

As kids, even though we never had a copy of the game because it was too expensive online due to scalpers, we were super into Final Fantasy VII‘s lore, the characters, the story, the music, everything. We’d seen Advent Children multiple times, we had a copy of Crisis Core that we played the hell out of, we watched playthroughs, we pretended to be characters from the game when playing outside, and we even attempted to dress as Cloud and Sephiroth one Halloween.

Thinking about it that way, it occurred to me that the nostalgia was a big reason why I had such an attachment to the original game. Playing it brings me back to that point in time when life wasn’t so crazy. But of course, that’s just looking at life through rose-tinted glasses. We often make the past seem much grander than it really was, especially when the present day feels so hopeless. While it’s fine to reminisce on the past, it’s important to avoid over glorifying it, since that makes us resent the present even more. At least, in my experience. The point is that Final Fantasy VII gives me this feeling of being right at home. On top of that, I just enjoy the turn-based combat system more.

While I personally enjoy the original Final Fantasy VII more than the remake, that doesn’t mean I think any less of the remake. Heck, even now, I also feel like playing that. What it means is that this solidifies that our tastes are purely subjective, because we don’t all share the same memories. The collective unconscious might be a thing, but at the end of the day, we’ve all lived our own lives and made our own memories. We each have memories attached to things like video games, music, books, shows, movies, etc. That’s often why we get attached to them. It’s not the only reason we get attached to them, of course. That’s a whole other article in itself right there. But it is a common reason.

While nostalgia does often increase our love for a game, I’ve noticed that a lot of people either use it against others, or get defensive if others don’t like a game they enjoyed, or if someone likes a game they did not enjoy. Looking at it from a psychological point of view, I always saw this as a case of someone making the things they like part of their identity. So when someone dislikes something they like, it’s as though they feel like those people are disliking them, and they take it personally, intentional or not. I say that because that’s how I used to be and still sometimes feel.

When that happens, I reevaluate myself. The world is crazy right now. With social media being a thing, it’s easy for us to lose our sense of self. Perhaps it’s a feeling of inadequacy, helplessness, loneliness, or we’re lacking something important in our lives, like serotonin. Something makes us latch onto the things we enjoy and treat them like they’re an extension of ourselves, and that becomes a very thin shield to protect our rather fragile hearts. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a game, especially if it brings back wonderful memories. We all need any bit of happiness we can get. It’s equally important to not forget our sense of self.