Lonely adventuring [Final Fantasy Explorers]

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Games I beat in 2015: #2 – Final Fantasy Explorers

On December 17, 2011 I went and picked up a Vita at a Yamada Denki. I didn't buy any games. The next day I went and used a Toys R Us coupon to get ¥1000 off of Monster Hunter 3G and Shin Kamaitachi no Yoru. TriG came at a good time. The Vita got some, but not much, use at the time. Good play, Nintendo. My son was half a year old and was into a routine. I was helpful, but most of it was still mommy-only duty, so I had some spare time. A few friends also picked up Trig. We played. A lot. A couple hundred hours passed in what felt like much less. I had fun.

Time passes, friends move, I play other games and sell my copy of TriG. Monster Hunter 4 comes out, I grab it digitally. Going to be playing this one a lot. A year passes. I don't. Monster Hunter 4G comes out. This time. I don't. The online play, even with Skype there to aid communication, doesn't capture the feeling. Plus, scheduling, life, and all that boring stuff. So, I don't play.

The Final Fantasy Explorers demo hits. I play online once with some friends. It's kind of fun. A lot of people lose interest in picking up the game. I grab it day one and finish it. Alone.

Monster Hunter feels like learning the piano. The dedicated players in my Twitter feed seem to be having a blast both playing and talking about it - with people or alone. I load up my save, look at the armor and weapons I can create if I just farm enough materials. I close my 3DS and do something else.

Final Fantasy Explorers doesn't have this depth, nor do will hit the number of sequels, sales, and fandom that Monster Hunter has obtained. None of my students will come to school with moogle or chocobo themed pencil cases. Yet I had more fun with Final Fantasy Explorers than with Monster Hunter since my salad days with TriG.

There is the familiar hub world and the nice lady behind the booth who handles quest taking. Sub-quests are available and can be completed while doing main quests. "Kill 10 goblins." is an early main quest, but later on "Kill 20 demon-type monsters." becomes available as a sub-quest and the tally carries over through playing various main quests. Even if I failed a main quest, progress was likely made on one of the several sub-quests I had going on. Plus the loot that I picked up.

Loot of the boring kind. Loot used to create equipment or improve what you have. There aren't treasure chests which contain awesome things that bring forth a smile. Instead its tiny progressions towards awesomeness. I paid the hundred and fifty yen for Tifa's weapon and outfit and dumped my resources into improving that. The equipment carried me until the credits scrolled. Tifa's equipment suited a Monk, so I kept that as my job even though a variety opened up. Had I three other characters to control, either via AI or a combination of that and switching through them, I might have happily enjoyed a variety of the game's classes. Instead, I picked one and stuck with it and feel as if I missed out on a large chunk of the game. Which is no different from dedicating my studies to Japanese at the expense of German, Spanish. Although it bothers me more.

One could experience these other jobs through playing online, but I didn't. There are "party members" in the form of monsters created via killing the monsters and grabbing their soul, if dropped. Which I'm sure offers a lot of customization if one wants it. I just picked three and used them through the end of the game. The monsters of Final Fantasy aren't as consistent or memorable as, say, Dragon Quest.

So I just picked some things and cruised through the game. Well, not entirely. I didn't have much trouble, but it wasn't exactly easy. There were a lot of quests to play and I just did one after another in an almost mindless but not entirely way. A little bit of thinking, some finger-work and boom. Quest done. Gold acquired. Crystal Points gained. Upgrade my equipment, buy a few new Abilities - ooh, there's a custom one that will help me do some more damage. Eventually the credits rolled.

Progressing was satisfying even though I have trouble remembering the details at this point. "Game of the Year"? No. Bad game? Nah. It was mechanically sound and satisfying to finish. Worth playing? That's the pickle. Maybe I could have played something else. Maybe I would have spent my time on Twitter. Nothing too stressful about the story or where to go meant interruptions weren't a problem. But it did scratch the itch that TriG left me with years later that neither Monster Hunter 4 or 4G could have scratched.

Plus it gave me a free copy of Final Fantasy for the 3DS. And I beat that next.

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