And the award for…

…really minor supporting character who’s only mentioned in a couple of flashback sequences but then goes on to star in his own game and turns out to be way more likable than the main character of the game he appeared in as a minor flashback character goes to…

Yes, I finally got around to playing Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, which stars the damn-near-a-trivia-answer Zack, who I vaguely remembered from playing through Final Fantasy VII back in 1998 or so.

Short version: I liked it.  It had the difficult task of working both as a game and as a nostalgia trip, and I think it pulled both off neatly.  My only gripe is that the random encounter rate in some areas is bizarrely high – you go from fight to fight within a couple of steps, and the areas with this also tended to have the sorts of monsters that liked to poison, or silence, or otherwise inflict generic and annoying status effects.

I was a bit confused – ok, a LOT confused – by the DMW mechanic, but I learned over time that, yes, it was supposed to be completely random and no, there wasn’t anything I could do about it, so I should just deal with it.

It all worked out, anyway, because if you stick to the main storyline and don’t go running off and doing the optional missions, the game is pretty easy.  You have to balance magic vs physical attacks, keep yourself healed, the usual stuff.   It adds a bit of spice to the typical RPG-style battles by putting the character in a free-roaming 3D arena where you can easily dodge attacks.

From start to finish, I only found one battle I could not win, and only because of a combination of elemental effects – I had a fire spell equipped and a lightning enhancement on my sword and ran into a creature who was a) immune to electrical attacks and b) HEALED by fire attacks, and you really can’t blame the game for letting me get myself into that sort of mess.

This is a little tongue-in-cheek, but I think that the biggest challenge facing the player is making sure that, when the game tosses you into an over-an-hour-long sequence of boss fights and cutscenes – as it does twice – you have enough battery power to make it through to the other side.  🙂

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