You Bustin’ Up My Rhythm!

Final Fantasy VII: Remake Recommendations

So I’ve been playing Final Fantasy VII for the trillionth time because I bought it on the Playstation Network store and now I have it for PSP, which is literally the realization of a childhood dream for me, having this game on a handheld device, but I’ve already talked about that previously. But as I’ve been playing through this game, I am well aware of it’s faults, and with that long-fabled Final Fantasy VII remake for the Playstation 5 or something drawing ever closer (I’m thinking twentieth anniversary, because the game is already on it’s seventeeth. I know, it’s crazy for me to realize that too), at least in the imaginations of the fan community, I’ve been noticing a few glaring issues that should definitely be adressed if ever a remake does genuinely happen (or the sequel that they’ve set up with the return of Genesis and just kind of left hanging in the air).

"Ain't no gettin' offa dis' train we on!"

“Ain’t no gettin’ offa dis’ train we on!”

Recommendation 1: Ditch Barrett’s Street Persona

Yeah, I know, it was the 90’s, even white people thought that they were black, and we all thought that being thug gangster was cool and rap was actually a decent genre. It’s okay, Squaresoft, I can forgive you because I was there too, even if I was seven years old. But it’s time to grow up. As this game has aged, it’s become considerably more apparent just how racist the game’s depiction of Barrett really was. Just because he’s a burly black man does not mean he has to be “street,” which he very much is, and as the 90’s have passed us by and saying “Yo” at the beginning of every sentence is no longer cool, I think I speak for all of us when I say it’s time for Barret to be depicted better.

Barrett is actually one of the game’s more complex characters. It’s difficult to know just how to feel about Barrett. He is literally en eco terrorist who kills hundreds of innocent civilians in the pursuit of stopping Shinra. At the beginning of the game his brash nature and nonchalance about blowing up entire metropolitan areas really show how far gone he is to listen to reason, but as the game progresses it’s revealed why Barrett hates Shinra so much, his history of losing his entire family when his hometown was burned to the ground by Shinra troops, and how he lost his best friend and his right arm trying to run from Shinra. He comes to accept how wrong his actions were, and to regret killing innocent people, but still, there’s the fact that he did do it, and those people are still dead, and it’s hard to know if it’s okay to forgive a character like that.

Barrett has enough depth of character that he doesn’t need a street thug gimmick to make him interesting, he’s interesting enough already. When he’s been shown in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, he still has his thug appearance, complete with corn rows and a huge puffy sleeveless vest, but his street talk has been toned down considerably. Now he seems like more of a hothead than a racist 90’s depiction of black culture, but still, it sounds like his voice actor was trying to go for that original street voice and failed. There’s really no reason why Barrett can’t just speak like any other character, without some street accent. He’s clearly intelligent enough if he can put together a resistance movement, hijack multiple trains and blow up two reactors, even if he is so hell-bent on getting revenge that he doesn’t think about the lives he destroys. And if it’s possible, can we please never hear any character in any game ever speak the words, “You bustin’ up my rhythm!” again?

Stats Screen

Recommendation 2: Give the Characters Stats!

Final Fantasy has grown up a lot since the days when Speed was called Dexterity and Defense was called Vitality, but at the time of Final Fantasy VII’s release, characters were mostly still blank slates with little variation among them in stats. Because of this, you can literally use any character in Final Fantasy VII and it will most likely have little to no effect on battles, because they pretty much all have the same stats. Now, I understand that Materia is supposed to be the deciding factor on whether or not someone has a high stat, but even so, Materia usually only changes stats by 1% or so at a time. It’s mentioned in the booklet’s mini-guide that Cloud is a physical attacker and not to load him down with magic materia, but honestly you would need to have 16 slots filled with mastered magic materia to really notice a drastic change in anyone’s stats.

By the time of Final Fantasy IX and X, Squaresoft had gotten pretty good as diferrentiating magical attackers from physical attackers, with characters like Garnet and Lulu being completely useless as physical attackers, but having some of the highest magic stats available. Even so there was room for customization, and there’s no reason why Tifa, for instance, can’t begin with a very high strength stat and low HP, both of which grow stronger, or change according to what Materia you have equipped. Basically the threshhold at which stats are differentiated among characters, or at which Materia changes those stats, needs to be a lot higher.

The only character in the game who I’ve seen to have legitimately lower or higher stats than anyone else is Aerith, who remains a weak physical attacker and powerful magical attacker from the time she joins the party, though I’m sure this could easily be changed with Materia since her stats aren’t really all that different from everyone else’s, just slightly more so.

Steal Materia

Recommendation 3: Make Steal Work

Stealing is fun. Zidane taught us this, and it has remained an effective way to get some of the best items and equipment throughout the series. This holds true in Final Fantasy VII as well, with someone weapons being steal-only, and certain armor and weapons becoming available much earlier if you steal from the right enemies. The biggest problem with stealing, though, is that is has a very low chance of working when it’s used. I’ve probably spent hours of my life just waiting for Tifa to steal the Hardedge from the SOLDIER’s in the Shinra building or the Shinra Beta from the troops in the cargo ship. Stealing is a great way to get rare items (like Speed Sources from the thieves in the slums; you’re welcome), but it needs to work! It really takes all the fun out of stealing when you have to wait ten minutes to steal one thing, especially when you don’t know beforehand what you might be stealing, and it only turns out to be a Hi-Potion. Also if I could make a request, could Steal evolve into Mug a little bit sooner? I usually don’t even get the ability to Mug until near the end of the game, or if I’m really concentrating on leveling up my materia, the second disc.

I’m sure as I continue to play through the game I’ll probably come up with some more ideas, and all of these recommendations are things that other players have been saying for years, but I just thought I would state my opinions on the matter. Let’s mosey!

I Want To Be Young And Carefree

You know what’s interesting? My family’s out of town this weekend and the house is virtually my own, so obviously having no other obligations I expected the weekend to be a veritable marathon of porn-watching and jerking off and such.

And don’t get me wrong, it has been.

But a curious thing happened really, after the initial load-letting, as it were. Every time I try to watch porn, every time I find a picture or a video of a really hot guy or a really hot sex scene, I’m overcome with a tingling, shivering sadness. A kind of smack in the face that very plainly says, “You are lonely. You have failed. You have not achieved anything you want to.”

It’s one little piece of it, the sex. It’s one of the things I’m missing from my life. Not sex in and of itself, but a chance to have sex with and be near to someone that I’m in love with. I first fell in love when I was fifteen, with a boy who never returned my feelings romantically, and then had a few brief forays into it over the next couple of years with relationships that all ended badly, and then my two-year relationship was a mess, a big bundle of supressed emotions and lies.

I’ve gone cynical at twenty-one. I haven’t stopped believing that there are a million people out there with whom I could be compatible, but I have stopped really counting on it happening. At least anytime soon.

I want to be in school. Not really because of the learning, though that’s part of it. I want to be in a group of people. I want to have young people like me, laughing and having fun around me. I want people to laugh at things I say and I want to play music and sing for them and have people think that I’m talented and enjoy me. I want a boy, to enjoy me. To really enjoy me.

I am an extremely sexual creature. I’m growing up, I’m just out of my teens, and my teenage sex drive, while not necessarily waning, is not in full-throttle every moment. I feel like I’ve wasted the chance to roll around in bed with someone every muscle and cell in my body longs for, for days at a time. That urge to hold hands because if I don’t do it I feel lik my heart will break without his touch.

I’ve never had that. I’ve had little glimpses into it. But never really been happy. I’ve never been a satisfying relationship. Not even a relationship that began truly satisfying and then turned bad.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve ever actually been happy.

I have a lot of happiness in me. There’s a lot just waiting to come out. I’m a spritely little thing. But I can’t be myself here, around my family, around my mother. I can’t be here. I have to get away, but there’s nowhere to go. No Jimmy to take me to South Carolina, no Kim and Eilene to offer me a place to stay, no Nathan to run to for the weekend, no slew of pointless hopes from the internet taking me to their houses, fucking me and then both of us losing interest.

I’m alone.

I want to play the piano and sing to an empty, dark auditorium. I want to get drunk and fall onto a couch filled with people and make out with a hot guy and laugh my ass off and have the world spin around me and throw up in the backyard and pass out and wake up the next morning and go out to get breakfast with my friends who are hungover as well.

I can’t take living here in this place, with these people, anymore. I HAVE to leave. I don’t have anyone to help me anymore, I don’t have any friends here, I don’t even know where to go to school. I’m terrible at looking for things that I don’t know about.

I feel so helpless. Like a child. Unable to do anything for myself. I feel humiliated.

In Which Some Things Are Talked About

Warning! This blog entry is a bit of a downer. However it was unbelievably stimulating to my mood, so it was quite necessary. So, if you'd like to learn a little more about my personal issues, read on. If you'd like chipper thoughts on upcoming blog entries, refer to the last few paragaphs.

Nothing new here.

Nope, nothing.

Okay, well maybe there is one, eency weency thing.

I seem to have recovered, but I think mentally I just completely fell apart over the last couple of weeks. The good news is, I think I’m better now. Here’s basically what happened, along with the backstory so you’ll understand it:

The day was Monday. I work for my mother, who has a house-cleaning business. So we headed to our usual Monday house. The night before, I hadn’t gotten much sleep, and what was about to happen has always been worse when I don’t get enough sleep. We got to the house and we couldn’t get in; the key wasn’t working. So she let the owner know about our situation, and while we were waiting for an answer, we were outside in the afternoon heat.

I started to panic. No real reason, other than I knew, “This would be a bad time to panic.” That’s usually how it happens. You see, I have panic attacks. I suppose a panic attack can vary in severity, and I don’t want to say I have anything that I don’t, but I at very least have episodes that feel a hell of a lot like I think a panic attack would feel. There are multiple things that trigger it: lack of food, lack of sleep, heat, any reason that I would be dizzy or lightheaded, etc. etc. The number one thing that causes it, however, is the belief that any of those things can induce it. While it’s true that they do, what causes me to panic is when I think to myself, “I haven’t slept enough, I’m going to panic. I haven’t eaten enough, I’m going to panic. It’s hot outside, I’m lightheaded, I’m going to panic.” The symptoms are as follows: I become dizzy and lightheaded, my vision gets a little blurry (I already need glasses, so the fact that my vision is blurry during it’s best moments doesn’t help), there’s an immense heaviness and heat in my chest, along with a general feeling of “Oh shit get me out of here! I’m in a confined space and I want to go home, NOW!” There’s also a burning feeling in my head like the one in my chest, and all of this just grows larger and larger.

The way I overcome this is with breathing. It’s what I’ve been taught to do. The recommendations vary, but in general I’m told to take a deep breath, hold it in, and slowly exhale, and repeat this as many times as I need to until I feel calm. Usually what happens is that the worst of the feelings will pass, but the fear that the panic attack will come again often causes it to slowly resurface in weaker forms throughout the day until I get back to my comfort zone, which is usually home.

Apart from these things, there are also physical side-effects that I don’t think are normal. When I begin to panic, before the panic attack even begins, the entire left side of my body, from the tip of the left side of my head to the very bottom of my left foot begins to feel uneasy, and eventually numb to some degree. Sometimes there is a feeling in my left arm like a tight pinching, and this feeling sometimes occurs around my heart too.

Even now I need to stop and calm down because talking about this is kind of hard, and makes me feel some of the symptoms. But this problem has been following me for years now, everywhere I go and especially in public. So, my biggest problem is stress/anxiety/panic. Along with that are various physical problems, some of which make the anxiety worse and some of which could be completely unrelated.

To begin with, throughout my life I’ve had a random shooting pain in the veins on my wrist. I can’t remember if it’s my left or right wrist, but there it is. I don’t know what it means, and it usually only lasts a little while, seconds to minutes. I don’t know what it means but it’s always been there.

Also, I’m just generally out of shape. I was a skinny kid, and at about 10 I started overeating, mostly out of sheer bordom. I got pretty fat and since then I’ve had a thin build but some definite extra weight. When I hit my growth spurt and started getting taller, the weight distributed and I was close to bein thin for a while, but eventually I just got fat again. Now it comes with stretch marks. Yep, I’m 20, and I have stretch marks. I’m not even morbidly obsese, I think I’m actually only between 10 and 20 pounds overweight, but I have stretch marks, on my arms, my sides, and my butt (you really wanted to know that, didn’t you?). It makes me feel ugly and unnatractive. Sometimes I feel the only real attractiveness I have is in my face, which hasn’t been clear of redness or acne since I was 12.

Let’s continue with the strange health problems, shall we? I don’t know how to eat healthy. I honeslty wish I knew people who had all the information I want. I’d have such a healthier life if only I knew how to do it. I hate soda, and I love water. Yet I drink soda constantly. I hate hamburgers, hot dogs, and steak, yet I eat them. It’s not because I specifically want to, it’s because I don’t know where to begin looking for information on what else to eat. My mom claims to want to eat healthy, but she thinks that just means buying some fruits and lettuce along with the ice cream and processed meat.

Everything about modern food is really so disgusting and unhealthy when you look at it in the broad scope of history. Our food comes in CANS, for crying out loud. Cans of meat, “soup,” vegetables, and anything else you can think of that has been so altered that it scarcely resembles it’s original form. Basically, on the whole, Americans eat lumps of chemicals and preservatives that have been prepared for them. Then you have fast food. It’s not an exaggeration when people say that McDonalds is so unhealthy it’s deadly. It’s barely anything close to resembling a meat patty on bread. All fast food is like that. It’s sickening stuff, and it’s also incredibly bad for you in every way. You’re probably better off taking a vitamin and eating some grass than you are eating fast food.

But back to my point. When I eat things like salt and peppered (I admit I have a problem with salt and pepper, it just makes everything taste better) Hot Pockets, fast food, or anything of the like, my chest hurts. And it’s always the area of my chest where my heart is. I have a lot of pain around the area where my heart is. The problem is, even mentioning it now gets me stressed and makes my heart hurt. It’s a pretty vicious cycle.

Some other problems are of the digestive nature. I have acid reflux, and I stopped taking medicine both because I’m forgetful about medicine and because my refills ran out, as did my Medicade when I turned 18. If I drink soda (especially “green” or “white” sodas, like Mountain Dew, Mello Yello, Sierra Mist, Sprite) it’s much worse than if I drink “dark” sodas, but it happens nontheless. Interestingly enough, you’d think the answer would be to drink water, but water, especially when I haven’t eaten anything, makes it happen worse than anything else! So, if I want to avoid acid reflux, I know I shouldn’t drink soda or water. What does that leave?

Milk? Well, I’m also, to some degree, lactose intolerant. This appeared when I was about 15. I ate some high fiber cereal, not knowing what fiber does, and you know what happened afterward. Now, you think “Oh, it was just the cereal itself that did it to you, not the milk,” but this is probably the earliest memory I have of any and all cereals doing this to me. Especially if I eat a lot of it. If you’re still lost, I’ll make it clear: milk gives me diharrea. Along with other issues in that region, so let’s just say you don’t want to be hanging out with me on the couch if I’ve drank milk.

So if I drink milk, I get stomach problems, and if I drink soda or water, I have acid reflux. If I eat too much I have chest pains, and if I eat too little I’m weak and thus panic attacks are induced much easier. When a panic attack is happening, I’m lightheaded, so taking a lot of deep breaths to slow my breathing just makes me more lightheaded, while on the other hand if I don’t take deep breaths the panic gets worse. In all these situations, I’m pretty much screwed if I do and screwed if I don’t. The digestive ones I can handle, because none of them involve me throwing up, and throwing up is really the only digestive thing I just can’t stand. Diharrea doesn’t bother me because it gives me plenty of time to think/read/play GameBoy, any of the other fun things you can do in the bathroom.

Oh, I forgot this one, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I honestly don’t want to get into what this one does, because it’s just altogether incredibly weird, but suffice it to say the main symptom of this one is that I constantly mumble things under my breath. It’s not as bad as it was when I was a kid, where I had to do things in even or odd incraments, or when I had to compulsively blink, crack my jaw, or any of the other behaviors. Now the obsessive behaviors are mostly of the mental kind, and I have for years included certain key words at the end of my sentences under my breath, and those key words have changed. If you’re still confused, I don’t blame you, but for example, after every sentence I used to mumble “One might have said.” That became, “or one might have said,” for some grammatically inexplicable reason. Now it’s usually, “or stop it hush Jesse.” Yeah, they usually begin with “or,” I don’t know why.

 Also, another weird mental thing I think is caused by the OCD is that because I have a fear of having no control over my life, I fear death immensely, and especially the death of those close to me, so when I’m feeling scared or vulnerable, it’s almost as if mentally I feel that that “death energy” is radiating from me, and if I touch the person I care about, I could cause them to die. It’s very weird, I know, but there it is. I’m a pretty messed up guy.

 So, those are my issues. But that’s only one element. We’ve covered mental and physical, but we still have emotional. Due to some weird stuff that happened to me when I was a child, I’ve got quite a few emotional issues. I have problems with control in my own life, and as such I’ve sought solace in many a fantasy world, primarily the reason why I was interested in Final Fantasy as a child and a teenager. I live in the real world now, and losing myself in a fantasy world isn’t as tempting as it used to be, I feel I’m mature enough to appreciate the borders of fantasy and reality now. Regardless, I tend to create comfort zones to stay in: the computer, listening to music and hunting through iTunes, playing video games and listening to TV audio in the PIP window. I always need a ritual to keep myself calm.

Oh that’s right, I was going to tell you about the past couple of weeks.

So, it began when I started panicking that Monday. Throughout the day, I had little panic episodes, but I assume I was fine when I got home. Every time I went out during that week, I got scared of having another panic-filled day, and because I was scared of panicking, I of course panicked. It got so bad that on Thursday I refused to go with my mother to help her, and as a result I was fired (along with being “grounded” from the phone and the internet like a juvenile). Oddly enough, that day we went to the bookstore (I managed to do pretty well there, I ran into some people and actually talked to them a bit about what was going on with me and my anxiety), and the manager basically offered me a job, and told me to put in an application and call him. Of course this would be during the week when I started regressing so far that going out in public was horrifying for me.

To make a lengthy story somewhat less lengthy, during a visit to the mall on that same day a friend jokingly said to me over the phone that I had agoraphobia. I looked it up and apparently I actually have all the symptoms of agoraphobia exactly. Now, I’m not saying I have it or diagnosing myself with it, but this entry is to get all this off of my chest, so I’m mentioning it. So I convinced myself I was scared to go out in public, and guess what, I’ve been scared to go out in public. I really think part of it is just that I psyched myself out, but it has been really scary. July 4th was horrible, not only because of the fireworks but because I rode along for a 15 minute trip to check on someone’s house who’s out of town, and the whole time I was freaking out and wanting to get back home.

At this moment, I feel alright, especially getting all of this off of my chest. I’m sorry to dump so much drama on you but hey, it’s my blog, right? I’ve never kept a journal for nearly as long as this before. I could continue about how my father called me this morning and made several possible references to a scathing Facebook message I sent him about how he fucked me up as a child, but I just don’t have the energy right now to go into all of that and I’m finally feeling positive. I think we’ve had a sufficient amount of drama, I feel like I’ve got more in me to dump out, but hey, there’s always next time, right?

I think it might be time for another fun blog. Maybe about Final Fantasy VII! I ordered a PS1 memory card a couple weeks ago and I’ve been playing nonstop since it arrived, it’s really a fun game! I might do a “Jesse’s thoughts, tips, and precautions on Final Fantasy VII” type thing. I’ve been wanting to do reviews for a while now, I just never really finish anything. I want to do a review on Boys For Pele, when I feel I’ve sufficiently sucked what juice out of it I need for a review. Right now I’m moslty in video game mode though.

So! I think it might be time to start doing reviews. After slowly making my way through it for almost a year, I finished a book called The Innocent Mage. It was really stupid. The plot didn’t even thicken until about 100 pages before the ending, and the book is 500 pages long. But I’ll have to tell you about it some other time. The one thing I did like about it is that it ended on a cliffhanger. I like cliffhangers; I like staying hooked. That’s what makes True Blood a good show. Anyway, it might be time for a review on that one soon.

Until next time.  And remember: there ain’t no gettin’ off o’ this train we’re on! This train we’re on don’t make no stops!

Barret reference anyone?

Wow, what a dramatic change in mood I’ve had since getting all that weight off my chest. This blog, mentally healthy? I think so.