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In response to "Get the Hell Out of Dodge" from The Escapist Forum: Of what I played of FFVII, Midgar was the only part I liked. I hated the Saucer, gave up the first time in the desert, picked it up later, managed to slog through to the part where you can try to get Vincent, got frustrated with continually dying in a place that was a half hour away from a save point, threw the controller at my TV, and resolved never to play FFVII again.
I agree with the author on one point: Midgar certainly has an impressive, if oppressive atmosphere. IMHO, the rest felt like it had no atmosphere at all beyond "Generic Fantasy Village #36", and the gameplay was so boring I felt no incentive to continue, just in hopes of occasionally getting some half-decent dialogue with Tifa. If anything, what the game failed for me was in consistency of theme and storytelling--every region felt like an entirely different game to me.
People keep telling me how great the writing of the game is, and then I remember the line from the red kitty: "I think I grew up a little!" I think I threw up a little. And then I went and replayed Torment.
Disclaimer: All of the above is my personal opinion on the game, and I mean to cast no judgment on people who do like the game. It is obviously popular for a reason, it just missed the mark with me.
I can't imagine having a more different reaction.
Midgar was great. The music was eerie, the enemies were mean, and everything was just so well put-together. And then I got out of it and... it was like being thrust into some long-winded cartoon that I didn't care for. Enemies became more or less random, things were often annoyingly colorful, the dialogue is boring and oh my GOD the Golden Saucer is the most annoying thing I have ever endured in a video game. A bunch of goofy-looking minigames with half the polish of a random browser Flash game, all for obscure and difficult-to-acquire special weapons and things which I knew I was supposed to want, but couldn't care about because the weapons I had killed things just fine.
Granted, I didn't play the game when I was young so I don't have happy happy memories to fall back on. (I have happy happy memories of Prince of Persia and Marathon and other games to fall back on)
In response to "The Pains of Being The Guy" from The Escapist Forum: Hmm... The game has gained a reputation for being unreasonably difficult, right? Well, if there's one thing I've learned in my personal study of game design, it's that "understanding justifies difficulty." That is, the more threats a player can see, comprehend, and reasonably deal with, the more threats you can cram into any one gameplay sequence.
Obviously, that's completely thrown to the wind in the case of IWBTG. But maybe "understanding justifies difficulty" can come to encompass an entire game. That is, IWBTG is almost universally recognized as one of the most difficult games of all time, and most new players at this point are going to be drawn in by that claim. Those that do play for its absurd difficulty understand its role in the entire game, and therefore find it somewhat justified.
Maybe not. I'm just trying to wrap my own head around the game's popularity.
This is definitely the most unfair game I've ever played. I gave up after making it to Dracula, I could never beat him. And like many other people, this game also did drive me insane at some parts. Mecha Birdo was so incredibly frustrating.
It's amusing enough, and I'm all for difficulty, but I'm fundamentally against any game where the only way to improve is to memorize every screen.
This is why I don't consider IWTBTG to be the hardest game ever. Instead, I just say it's one of the most unfair games ever created. Tons of hazards that you could only predict with clairvoyance will instantly kill you. All of the Bosses have cheap attacks that require perfect timing to dodge. These things don't make the game hard, they just make it unfair. Though when you are designing a game with the sole purpose of frustrating people, that's not a problem.