All Is Not What It Seems

A fanboy’s mind is a fragile one. You dig yourself too deep of a foxhole and you’ll never see the light again. I aim to avoid that, as much of my loyalty may go to Sony. I am not uncritical. Likewise, my love is not unconditional. After all, I spent much of the mid-90s flooding AOL chat rooms with anti-Sony slurs and general adolescent nerdling rage. I was a Nintendo man (boy?) at the time and had no problem rattling off a list of reasons why Final Fantasy VII was going to suck. Little did I know at the time that this was a form of veiled jealousy. I really, really wanted Final Fantasy VII and nothing was going to keep me from it. Like all good nerdlings, I had an unabashed preference for RPGs and this was the mother lode. More epic, more grandiose; I was taunted all too easily by those FMV-laden commercials Sony and Square used to promote the game.

I was confused by my own feelings – a tug of loyalty to the company I’d grown up with versus the one who’d abandoned them. It was then that I began to realize that it wasn’t the company that mattered, it was the company in relation to its own output. I loved Squaresoft; not because it was Squaresoft, but because they put out Final Fantasy. That’s what got me off! A friend and I, who’d not long ago secured ourselves an N64 at launch, rented a PSX and FFVII from Blockbuster. It’s a special time I’ll always remember – since it was a rental system, we didn’t have a memory card. What we ended up doing was playing through the Midgar portion of the game several times, almost always dying at the motorcycle sequence. It almost seems ironic that our last attempt was the one that finally got us out of the gigantic pizza and onto the overworld for the first time. It was like emerging into the light.

I think it was that moment that sealed it for me. I had to get my own PSX and copy of Final Fantasy VII to see what happened next. People have their own opinions on the game and even I can’t deny that it pandered to a certain crowd in retrospect. Despite there being better Square games and RPGs in general out there, it struck a chord with a lot of people. Right place, right time? For me, it was. And I’d like to think a lot of other gamers shared an experience similar to the one I’d just described.

From that moment on, I was a Sony loyalist. But once again, not because I’ve got some hard-on for the company itself, but because it fostered an environment for companies to create the kinds of games I wanted to play. Sony’s struggling quite a bit at the moment and we’re at the cusp of another change here – a paradigm shift like the one heralded by FFVII. The Wii looms on the horizon; no, it’s already here. Time’s escaping as I type this! There’s a Wii sitting next to my Playstation 3, though it doesn’t get much use. This is of little surprise. I’m a sucker for hardware and new technology. Moreover, I’m a gamer, and a consumer whore. For the few Wii games I’m looking forward to I’d regret not having the system to play them on.

Here’s the kicker, though. Within the past month, both of my newphews have gotten a Wii. No, wait, it gets better. Following that, my parents bought one, too. This wasn’t some “oh, here’s something for the grandchildren to play when they come over” kind of thing. They wanted it. I say that like it’s a shameful secret. If this post were read aloud, it’d be in the tiniest whisper I could manage.

This all amounts to a rather prolix way of saying this: My loyalty to Sony is built on the gaming goodness they’ve delivered in the past two generations. By claiming myself a “Sony Drone,” I take into consideration the possibility that I may be lounging on the deck chair of a sinking ship. I don’t want that to happen. But at the at the same time, I’ve never been averse to other experiences. I’ve spent some wonderful time with my 360 since buying it and I’ve always had phases in which I play nothing but PC games. Then there are the handhelds. Though currently unused, the DS has spent a lot more time in my hands than the PSP.

Perhaps greater than simple loyalty to a company, a platform, or an ideal is a loyalty to understanding. Even if I absolutely loathe the direction Nintendo is going in right now, I need to know what’s up with them. This is not to mention the random software that catches my eye. Microsoft – I have neither love nor hate for you, but the 360 is quickly becoming the de facto system for 3rd party titles that don’t care to swim in the blue ocean. That’s good enough for me.

You’ll see a lot of Sony in this blog. The company is filled to the brim with trouble right now, but a good work ethic occasionally shows through, like a lone ray of sunlight on a mostly cloudy kind of day. Moments of brilliance are crushed by those of idiocy just a day later. It makes being a Playstation gamer quite the rollercoaster ride. Nonetheless, Sony is part of a greater matrix, and it’d be unwise to outright ignore the rest of the industry. You’ll see plenty of that, too, when it concerns me. Indeed, all is not what it seems.

Stay tuned, ya rotten zombies.

~ by Cavin Smith on September 6, 2007.

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