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[personal profile] slimequest

Throughout my middle school and high school years, video games were the one thing that kept me going. I was in a place I didn't want to live in, I was away from all my friends I used to have, and I just never felt like I belonged anywhere. School was a tortuous ordeal where I constantly felt stressed-out and nervous, so the second I got home, my instinct was to turn on some video games and escape.

Back in those days, while I appreciated a well-crafted game and all, one of the most important factors for me was game length. Specifically, I wanted the RPGs I played to last as long as possible. I only really got games in December (dual birthday and Christmas combo at work, there) plus if my report card was good I'd get one game at the beginning of the summer. I didn't spend my money on anything else when the opportunity arose, simply because at that time games were LIFE.

Now, on to the game in question, a certain title by the name of SaGa Frontier. You might recognize the name if you were into PS1 RPGs around the time FFVII was released, and happened to live in North America. It's not an especially popular title, but I love it to bits, so that's what's important, right?

Anyway, the decidedly rural area I lived in at the time had exactly two local places to buy video games: K-Mart and Wal-Mart. Not exactly the most prime selection ever, but most of the essential titles made their way out here. Unfortunately, SaGa Frontier was not one of them. The only reason I ever got to play it was that a local video rental store had it, so I snagged it and took it home on one particular weekend.

Now, I'm not going to say that SaGa Frontier changed my life or anything, but oh man, was it EVER what I needed at that moment. You see, SaGa Frontier is a very non-linear affair where you choose one of seven protagonists and kind of... do whatever. Well, each character has a set main story to follow, but how you choose to go about it and how quickly you get through it is all up to the player. There's a lot of random screwing around you can do, which often leads to the most fun you'll find in the game. Honestly, finding some random robots and monsters to join you and wandering into a cave for no reason other than to find treasure, play around, and be badass, is my ultimate definition of "why RPGs can be fun".

But I digress.

A game with several different quests, and an open-ended format so each playthrough is never quite the same, equals a LOT of gameplay hours. I felt like I'd struck gold with this game. I played it, and love it, and... oh wait, I didn't actually own this game. Come Sunday evening it had to be returned... and I couldn't let that happen! This is when the epitome of why things were so bad back then happened: I hid the game in my backpack and took it to school with me, so my mom couldn't return it. I couldn't bear to be without this game and its seemingly endless possibilities. I contemplated telling her I'd lost the game, maybe the video rental place would just make us pay the retail price and that'd be the end of it? But what if they made us pay a lot more, and how much is she going to be charged in the meantime? I began to feel really guilty, even though I felt like I couldn't let go of the game, either.

Eventually, I finally fessed up and gave her the game so she could return it. With what little money my family had, I couldn't enjoy a game if I knew I'd essentially forced mom to pay who knows how much for me to keep it.

Some time later, I'm thinking 6-8 months perhaps, my brothers and I got to take a short trip back to California. There, at a local game store, I found a copy of SaGa Frontier and my dad got it for me. I've had that copy ever since. Occasionally, I'll pop it in and give it a play just as a form of gaming comfort food. I'm able to enjoy it for nostalgic reasons while being thankful I'm in a position where I don't have to rely completely on it for entertainment or escape purposes. Which is definitely the way it should be.

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August 2012


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