Wednesday, September 26, 2007

When do you play a sequel?

So you play a game and like it. Maybe a year or two later a sequel to the game comes out. You buy it intending to play it as soon as you get home only to realize that you haven't finished playing the first game. What do you do?

Do you put the game in and play it anyway even though you don't know how things ended with the first one? Or are you like me and just tuck it away in a game case for that time when you know you'll (maybe) get around to finishing the first game?

I don't like it when the ending of things (movies, books, games) gets ruined for me. It takes that emotional punch away after all your hard work to see things through until the end. I watched my brother finish Final Fantasy X. I was fascinated with how the story was unfolding, but I wasn't close to finishing the game myself. By the time I got to the end it was still great but it didn't have that "blow me away" factor. Been there; done that.

I can trace this aversion to spoilers to a specific incident all the way back to when I was seven years old. Star Wars had come out and me and my older siblings wanted desperately to go see the movie. Unfortunately my mother couldn't take us when it first came out because she was pregnant with my youngest brother. After he was born she still couldn't take us because she had a new baby. My older sister (13 years old) concocted a plan for her, my older brother (10 years old) and myself to take the bus to the movie theater. We had everything planned out when we presented it to my mother. She agreed. We were thrilled we were finally going to see what everyone had been talking about all summer.

What we didn't figure on was that the bus schedule we used was out dated. When we got to the spot where we needed to transfer routes there was no bus to be seen. We waited for 20 minutes. Still no bus. So we started walking in the direction of the theater. We paused at each bus stop along the way but still no bus. When we were half-way between 2 stops a bus drove by. We waved our arms, screamed and ran after it but it wouldn't stop. We ended up walking the whole way there (I learned later about 2.5 miles). When we finally got to the theater and bought our tickets the girl said the movie just started.

She lied.

We crept in and sat down and started watching the movie in the middle of the cantina scene. Now if you've seen the movie you will know that the cantina scene is NOT at the beginning of the movie. It's about 30 minutes in. I didn't know who any of the people were on the screen. Who were the bad guys? Who were the good guys? Why should I care?

By the end of the movie I couldn't figure out why everyone liked the movie so much because I didn't know what was going on. My sister called my mom from a payphone (yes they did have payphones back in those days) and told her about the buses. Because we had missed a bunch of the movie we were all crying. My mom suggested we talk to the manager to see if he could let us stay to watch the part of the movie that we had missed. I guess looking into the faces of 3 crying children was enough for him because he agreed. We ended up staying for the whole thing. And now that I had seen the WHOLE movie, from beginning to end, I knew why everyone liked it so much.

But when the movie started I also knew a lot of other things as well. I knew what would happen to Obi-Wan by the end of the movie from the moment he walked out. I knew to fear Dark Vader and the Empire even before that Star Destroyer crawls across the top of the screen. I knew Luke was more than a whinny farm boy and that they would save the princess and Han wouldn't do it for the money. I knew the ending. Before I had seen the beginning. Because of that Obi-Wan has always been my favorite character. But since then I've never liked to know how things end before I had seen how things started.

I have video game sequels to Ape Escape, Halo, Dark Cloud, Grandia, Legend of Legaia, Xenosaga, Kingdom Hearts, .Hack, Jak & Daxter, Rachet and Clank, Metal Gear Solid, Spyro, Wild Arms, Suikoden and many other games. And I haven't finish any one of them. Their sequels sit in my large disk chase just waiting for me to play . . . the originals. I have enough games to play a new one every day of the year but that's not going to help finish any of them. And I couldn't play some of them because their sequels.

So when do you play a sequel? I wait to play mine.

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