Zero Time Dilemma: Deconstruction of Choice in Video Games

I apologize that I haven’t been posting much lately. I’m kind of preparing to move and being in that phase leaves me feeling rather blasé about writing. I have found time, however, to play a new game from start to finish, and since I just finished it last night, I think I’d like to discuss it here. It just so happens the game is Zero Time Dilemma (3DS), the final game in the puzzle/visual novel Zero Escape trilogy. And today’s prompt is dilemma – what are the odds? I’m likely going to slip in and out of spoiler territory, so be forewarned.

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Fashion Fades, Only Style Remains the Same

Growing up, I was desperate to find games that changed your character’s look based on their equipment. At the very least I wanted to be able to change their clothes. Sure, saving the world is important, and being stronger than your enemies is rad, but my priority was – and continues to be – being stylish.

Lucky for me, there’s a wide variety of games these day that let you customize your look so you can be as fashion-forward as you want. Often you can mix and match looks (with varying results…) but often entire gear sets are designed with a powerful form to match its powerful function.

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Riki is the most stylish heropon!

MMORPGs, such as Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft, even let you transfer the form of one piece of gear to another, in case you have a certain look you’re trying to go for. XIV lets you dye your clothes too, allowing cohesion in outfits that come from differently matched gearsets.

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I liked the pretty blue coat my Summoner was wearing, and thought I’d make the horn and pants look nicer by dyeing them white!

It’s nice being at the point in video games where the kind of attention to detail and level of game capability can allow for so much variety in looks. Though it’s tremendously superficial, it’s so satisfying. Honestly, it’s my top priority in any game that lets you dress up to find my favorite outfits, over anything. Heck, I wandered through Xenoblade Chronicles wearing some pretty weak armor just because I hated the way newer stuff looked. That’s pretty unreasonable to some, but I can’t help it! I just love to be stylish!

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Depression Binge: Virtue’s Last Reward

Lately, trying to write has been a real slog. I’ve had a low-grade depression hanging over me for the last week or so, which hampers my ability to be productive. I also tend to default to doing whatever feels easy. I won’t try new things, I won’t engage many new ideas, I just sort of drift through my activities and hope that soon I’ll shake whatever it is and get back on track. What I can sometimes manage, however, is to focus on a game I’ve already started and just play it until it’s over. This time around, I fell back into my playthrough of Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward for the 3DS. The game’s title is kind of dumb, and I don’t really understand how it connects to the plot at all, and the plot itself is actually kind of convoluted and odd, but the overall experience of the game is pretty solid. I actually really liked it.

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Take Some Time to Recharge: Forced Time Limits and Gameplay

Awhile back I was working at a job that, in retrospect, made me very unhappy. Each day brought a new discomfort and the commute was kind of a pain. I would have to take the bus out to the end of the line each morning and then ride my bike an additional 15 minutes just to get there, all to do a job nobody particularly thought I was good at. Needless to say, mornings were not my favorite time of day.

At one point, however, I decided to take my 20 minute bus ride and turn it into a little “me” time each day. I accomplished this by dragging my 3DS along with me and trying to play a game that would relax me. I chose games that I could pick up or leave at any time but also had clear stopping points. The Phoenix Wright series was my go-to for awhile, until I got through them all. My other option was actually put onto my machine for me by Nintendo. Now, people don’t usually like these forced suggestions, be they games or music or what-have-you, but I’m actually not offended by something I can easily delete. The game was Pokemon Picross, and it saved my sanity a number of times.

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Plop Goes the Weasel: Gaming in a Rut

There have been far too many days in my life where I feel either so tired, anxious, or depressed that all I can do at some point is plop down and play a game. Not just any game, though. A familiar game. A game that I’ve played so many times that I probably shouldn’t derive pleasure from it anymore, but I do. This is a great way to relax, however I also notice that I fall into a slump, and that can prevent me from starting a new game or even just finishing a different game that I never finished before.

I don’t know what it is exactly, but something has gotten so daunting about playing an unfamiliar game. It isn’t that I’m afraid I won’t like it (that’s actually irrelevant to me as if I don’t like something I can just stop) it’s always some concern about time. If I haven’t played the game, then I should pay close attention and I should dedicate more time to really feeling out the game. Something about this mindset makes me equate the process with work, and that kind of bothers me.

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This, however, is totally fine and doesn’t really wear me out.

My attention span isn’t the problem, as if anything it has only improved since my youth, but the prospect of utilizing it is a deterrent to me. I’ll get around to that game on a day I can set aside strictly for playing that game. Until then though, I’ll just go back to what’s familiar. And so I do, and I never leave.

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It’s interesting that something used to procrastinate is now something I procrastinate on…

One exception I’ve found are handheld games. I adore my 3DS and have played several more titles over the years on it. I think that being able to close the system and put a game on standby is a big help, as it allows me to stop and start playing whenever I feel like. It doesn’t involve booting up my computer or turning on a console and selecting which game to put in.

Despite my reforged love for portable gaming, I still find myself frustrated that I don’t dedicate more time to titles I’m interested in. I’ve been trying to finish I Am Setsuna for ages now, and that game isn’t very long. I found out a few years ago that I actually really enjoyed playing Bayonetta but I haven’t sat down to push through more of it since that discovery. I’m not sure if this is a personal issue, an aging issue, or something felt by a lot of gamers, but it’s one I can’t seem to shake. I keep thinking it may be connected to real life organization, that maybe I don’t make my games accessible enough physically, however whenever I get things set up even just so I still hem and haw over actually turning a game on.

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One of the last big console games I finished.

And so I find myself in a rut, unable to enjoy some big new world that I would probably love, because I’m so complacent and comfortable… Of course, maybe I’m just being too hard on myself. Maybe I should just let myself enjoy gaming, no matter what game I play. But still, I would prefer to not limit myself, especially since the only thing that seems to be in my way is me.

The Ace of Cakes

Cake. Video games. Yeah I’m not saying it.

Instead my mind leaps to someone who seems to be all about cakes. Princess Peach, or Toadstool for the older crowd. Seriously, she is linked with cake so often that it seems odd that she’s named Peach. In fact… I’m struggling to recall a time she’s interacted with a peach…

Anyway, Peach is always shilling her cakes, whether its to goad Mario into visiting her…

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I’m not really sure why her letter cuts off her face…

…to bribe a guard into letting her through a door (and providing a mini-game)…

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A princess and her pet Twink.

…or to prove that she is truly the superstar by forcing everyone to walk all over one…

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Why she lets Bowser chill on a side-dish, I can’t say either. This princess is an enigma.

…Peach is just baking and baking and baking until she can’t bake no more! Of course, since she’s Nintendo’s version of Barbie, she also spends her time racing, playing soccer, tennis, basketball, baseball… When does she get the chance to bake? Or get kidnapped for that matter. Princess Peach does a lot in her role as leader of the Mushroom Kingdom, and yet her accomplishments too often get sifted down to her cakes. It really can’t be too fulfilling, what with her subjects unable to assist her, villains constantly stalking her, and Mario can’t even visit her in a timely enough manner to enjoy the very emblem of her existence.

do you like the world you live in

Existentialism is just the icing on the cake.